Finding calm in Brussels

As I’m sure most of you know, Brussels (my current city of residence) was struck by a horrible terrorist attack last week, March 22nd. The city is slowly getting back up on its feet, and people around me are trying hard to go on with their day-to-day lives. I am not going to elaborate on terrorist attacks, the media, or anything related to these events (because a quick google search will get you immediately caught up), but I would like to reflect and expand on the fellow humans that surround me.

I am currently sitting in a popular coffee shop that is only about half-occupied. On any other day before the attack, this place would be packed, but alas, empty chairs are a-plenty on this particular Tuesday. Up on the speakers are the soothing and uplifting sounds of The Beatles, and around me I can hear various quiet conversations. Some people are quietly discussing current events, and others are deeply consumed by their books and lap tops.

It’s very easy to get consumed by fear. Take it from a girl with generalized anxiety disorder (I am also prone to panic attacks) – the easiest thing to do right now would be to lock myself up at home and feed into dark thoughts. But alas, that isn’t what I’m doing, and I can see that my fellow co-habitants of this city are also resisting the urge to do so. Most people around me seem hopeful. There’s a glimmer of hope everywhere, from the baristas that are managing to keep a smile on their faces and are brightening everyone’s day, to the quiet boy who is blatantly cramming for exams. Life just keeps going.

Recently, I have started dedicating chunks of my day for guided meditations. “Insight Timer” is a free app that my best friend just introduced me to. If you’re a meditation pro, or if you’re a newbie like me, you’re going to love this app. It has an awesome community component, so you can see how many people in the world (or even in your city) are meditating at the moment, and you can message people and thank them for meditating with you. I couldn’t rave about it any more if I wanted to. I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone, especially all of you great people that are prone to getting sucked up by your own thoughts.

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To my fellow people of Brussels, there are plenty of peace-loving humans around you that are going out of their way to create more harmony in this crazy world. If you’re reading this today and you desperately need to get out of your home and to a safe place, there is a mindfulness meditation session at Bon Jour Bruxelles tonight. I’m including the facebook event riiiight here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1695174040754650/
With thoughts of love and peace, I sign out today.
-PositivelyCurvy

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Speckles of perfection

You know those magical scenes in movies where for a moment everything is perfect? Moments that feel like they could never be ruined, because they feel so real and right. Well, those moments are staged, but in my life I’ve had a handful of experiences that seemed almost a bit too perfect in the seconds or minutes they were happening. 

These minuscule moments will forever hold vivid stories, feelings and memories.

(In chronological order)

[9 years old] It was a really hot day in June, school had just let out, and I was over at my friend Sophia’s house. We were in her kitchen that had a door leading to the back yard. We lived in Maryland, where summers are humid and sticky. There was a can of Sierra Mist on the table. We ran out into her yard where there were either sprinklers or a hose, and ran through them to cool down. I don’t remember much else from that day, but that moment has for some reason stuck with me as a memory near and dear to my heart. 

[15 years old] It was a Friday night and I was out with a bunch of people. I don’t remember much about where we were and what we were doing, but I do remember my friend Jana and I walking into a shopping center, looking for an ATM and speaking really loudly in British accents, finding it hilarious. All of a sudden, a man turned around and said “Oh my god, are you from England?! I’M FROM ENGLAND TOO!”. It was funny because 1) our accents were probably horrible and 2) we were in an empty shopping mall in the middle of Skopje, Macedonia.

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[16 years old] My friend Iva and I were at our favorite bar, our friends were playing a gig that night, and everyone was drunk. We were all dancing, and the moment the band started playing “I bet that you look good on the dance floor” by the Arctic Monkeys, my friend Iva and I danced like there was nobody around us whatsoever. Everything felt right. I felt free and happy, and at those few minutes, life was perfect. 

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[18 years old] My friend Simona and I went on vacation together, just the two of us. We were on a Greek island and we rented a shitty little scooter to get around. I remember us riding that scooter on the side of a mountain, the sun burning the top of my right foot, the wind blowing in my face, and I remember feeling a sense of overwhelming happiness. Freedom really is renting a shitty motor bike with one of your best friends on a Greek island.

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[19 Years old] It was a weekday, and it was about 10 pm. Lindsey and I had been writing essays all evening, and I remember that she looked at me and said “wanna grab all our stuff and go sleep in the woods”? With no hesitation on my part, we grabbed everything we needed (sleeping bags, yoga mats, warm clothes) and took off. I remember one of our housemates looked at us being like, aaare you serious? We were. After that I remember falling asleep to soothing soothing sounds of nature. We woke up bright and early when an otter (or some other animal) jumped into the water nearby and made a big splash. We made it to our 8:30 am class the next morning with time to spare.

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[20 years old] The particular moment I remember the most was 3 am, sitting on the pavement in front of train station in Pistoia, Italy with Tijana. The 24 hours before that moment consisted of a car ride, a plane ride, a bus ride, two trains, trying to find the room we booked in Florence, and an Arctic Monkeys concert. I remember that as we waited for the first train back to Florence (which was at 6 in the morning), I was still trying to mentally process everything that had happened – and it was perfect.

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[20 years old] Kyle and I were in London, walking out of a Jake Bugg concert. We were free, happy, full of adrenaline, and I remember stumbling out of the venue and just feeling like “HOLY SHIT LIFE IS AMAZING”. Always a great thing.

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[21 years old] My friend Hannah and I were at a diner near school, it was a Saturday at about 10:30 in the morning, and the diner was full of old people. We were eating farmers omelets that tasted like real, delicious food. I took a sip of my diner coffee (free refills) and felt a cold drop on my shoulder. Turns out, the roof was leaking right above me. It was a perfectly imperfect diner brunch date.

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I feel like I could go on forever, but this is a good start. None of these moments were spectacular, but they’re all perfect bits of time that will forever be a part of me. 

-PositivelyCurvy

Flight anxiety: Tales of an adventurer

Airplanes: my one true love, and my absolute worst nightmare.

I am an adventurer with a bold spirit. I love mountains and rivers, valleys and hills, cities and streets, shops and parks. I love the beach, and I love the snow. New places excite me to no end. I used to be unable to sleep before flying, from the sheer excitement of embarking on a new adventure. I used to dream of soaring through clouds made of cotton, and floating mid-air with nothing but the sun above. I used to.

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Somewhere along the way, something changed. On a flight from Philly to Vegas, I sat stiffly in my plane seat and waited for take-off. My heart was beating way too fast, my palms were sweating, and worst of all – I felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. Like someone was gripping my lungs with their bare hands. Where were these feelings coming from?

Nobody enjoys turbulence, but I used to just be able to ignore it. Seriously, the plane could shake however much it wanted to, and I would just look out the window, or scribble my way through a sudoku. On this particular flight, everything felt wrong. The moment we hit a rough patch right above Vegas, I broke down. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk, all I could really do was cry. Tears were streaming down my face as turbulence shook the seat under me, not even that severely. All I wanted was to be safe on the ground where I could fill my lungs with the air they longed for. My parents tried to calm me down, but couldn’t understand why I was acting in this strange manner. I’ve flown frequently my whole life, often traveling overseas, and often traveling alone. Turns out, this was my first in-flight panic attack.

That was half a year ago, and since then, I’ve flown 9 more times. My life has always consisted of movement and travel, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Unfortunately, the panic and fear got worse before it got better. I’m well aware of the fact that, yeah – airplanes are safer than cars, and yeah – turbulence isn’t a life-or-death situation. Reading reassuring fact on the internet did not help me one bit. I tried tackling the problem (and failed) so many times before I made some fairly minimal progress.

What makes me feel better:

I don’t want to lie and tell you that my flight anxiety is cured, because that would be a lie. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to manage it (for the most part). A piece of cloth with lavender essential oil on it (it relaxes me and calms me down), a pair of headphones (to make the plane noises softer, rather than for music), and breathing exercises. The most important of these is definitely the last one.
Breathing exercises have been a life-saver for me. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold it for 7, breathe out for 8. In 1-2-3-4, hold 1-2-3-4-5-6-7, out 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Simple, but effective.

I also prefer to travel alone. While traveling with someone can be comforting, I find that when people worry and care for me, it makes me all the more anxious. A stranger on the other hand, is someone you can make a fool of yourself in front of, because you’ll probably never see them again. I can’t even fathom the amount of wonderful strangers that have held my hand as I’ve tried to take control of my anxiety. Thank you, you nice people.

*Pro tip: if you inform the flight attendants about your anxiety beforehand, they’ll give you free alcohol, which is never a bad thing.

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If you take anything away from reading this post, let it be one thing:

Fear attracts fear. The moment you learn to control it, is the moment you’ll learn to be free. 

Now, go hike those mountains. Play in the sand, run through the snow, spend the day at central park, or make love under the stars. Just try not to get caught.

 

-PositivelyCurvy

Together

Dearest blogger friends,

It’s been a little while since I last wrote to you. The reason being, is that I had many beauty related posts planned, but with current world events – none of them felt particularly relevant.

My heart goes out to anyone affected by the tragedies of the last few weeks. I’m right here, grieving with you.

I’ll be back once I gather my thoughts some more. As for now, they’re scattered to an unbelievable extent.

Sincerely,

PositivelyCurvy

 

Adventures: The importance of getting away

I’ve always been into the concept and thrill of adventure. I wouldn’t say that I’d be the first one to sign up for rock-climbing, but I find it extremely important to take a break out of whatever routine you’ve gotten yourself into, and just go. Having the ability to just leave everything and go, surprisingly requires a lot of planning. This is why, the next time you see an opportunity to do anything that you feel like you’ll remember for the rest of your life – anything that you’ll look fondly back on, I dare you to do it.

Today, I’m going to share with you photos of a time my best friend and I went on a little adventure of our own. We had just finished our junior year of college, and I made sure to book my flight back home about a week later than I would have otherwise. We got into her car and headed to Cape Cod. See, I’ve never been to Cape Cod, and she’s spent her summers there, yet I’m pretty damn sure it felt like an adventure to both of us. We packed our backpacks, a tent, sleeping bags, a stand up paddle board, and lots of snacks.

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Adventures and trips don’t need to be extravagant. No need to whip out your credit card and book that cruise in hopes of getting some peace of mind. You can start by turning the music up in the car and singing at the top of your lungs – but only after you’ve gotten a coffee big enough to get you through the first hour.

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Once we got there we set up our living are for the next two days. Again, we really just enjoyed the set up process and took in the beautiful sceneries that surrounded us.

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When you’re in such a setting, you don’t need to plan any further. You’re not on any sort of schedule, and you really can just do what feels right. Whether that’s sitting on the beach, going into “town” (i mainly mean grocery stores and restaurants), or simply just exploring your surroundings. Our adventure took its own pace, and was filled with all of the above.
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By “took its own pace” I mainly mean that we ate a lot of fried seafood. No one’s ever going to complain about that. But more importantly, we took the time to appreciate the sun, the wind, the waves, and the sand.

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Upon watching one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen (Cape Cod sunsets are magical), we got into our tent and wrapped ourselves up in our sleeping bags and slept and slept and sleeeept until we naturally woke up happy and rested. I think that my favorite part about camping is that you can take your time waking up. And you can have breakfast in bed because where else would you have breakfast otherwise?

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Being rested means more energy for exploring. We spent the rest majority of that day on the beach, and went on to eat more amazing food.

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Now go, do something that you can write a book about later on in your life. Create memories that will not only inspire others, but that’ll continue to inspire you. Enjoy the thrill of adventure, no matter how big or small. 

Till next time,

PositivelyCurvy

Anxiety and Depression: Neither here nor there

Do I have a loaded post for you today. Oof.

Hello, hi! How are you? I hope you are doing well. I, myself, have been in a sort of “funk” lately. It’s not really fair to call it a “funk” because it kind of diminishes the seriousness of what’s going on. I was diagnosed with depression when I was twelve years old. I really can’t even fathom the fact that that was ten whole years ago. I was on anti-depressants for three years, and have officially been off of them for seven. I generally cope well with life, and thus, not many people around me know that I have suffered, or let alone that I continue to suffer from depression. Something I’ve written continuously about on this blog (maybe not written per se, but definitely scattered around) is the fact that I have also been battling fairly severe anxiety for the last six or seven months.

It would be ridiculous to claim that I know how anybody who’s going through a similar situation to me feels, so I’m going to talk to you about my experiences of dealing with depression and anxiety simultaneously. To put it shortly – it blows. I’m always stuck with a weird pressure in my chest, which feels anything but physical. A lump in my throat that I can never really get rid of. Everyday feels like an internal battle that’s even harder to fight than the day before. I want to be active and productive, but most days I can’t. For instance here how this morning went:

8:00am Wake up
9:30am Still in bed
10:15am Get up, make coffee, accidentally put too much Stevia in it, dump it out, back to bed
11:00am Fight myself on whether or not to get up and do something productive. I’ve resorted to going into coffee shops to do my work because otherwise there’s no way I’d be getting anything done. Guilt myself into getting up because otherwise I feel like a worthless human being.
11:20am – 12:00pm Get up, brush my teeth, start to apply make up on, get dressed, put shoes on.
12:05pm Lose all of the will I’ve amped up and sit down on my bed for “a minute”
12:10pm Kick shoes off and go wrap myself in my blankets, being careful to not get a lot of my make up on my white sheets.
12:35pm Feel so awful about not being able to push through, that I drag myself out of bed, put my shoes back on and leave the house before I have to change my mind once again. I walk to the cafe, thinking “Damn it, I should have stayed home”, but I keep going because I know that this is just another destructive internal dialogue.
1:08pm I’m here, and I’m so glad I am because otherwise I would have still been in bed, fighting the urge to cry (which happens fairly frequently).


And this, my friends, is the norm. My condition, mild as it is, is weighing me down immensely. It’s like doing a balancing act between constant anxiety, racing thoughts, racing heartbeat, all the works, and a field of nothingness, as far as the eye can see. I’m not always sad, but I am constantly battling whatever this is. I’ve found that getting into a TV show and binge-watching it gives me an escape of sorts. Sadly, it’s a fairly unhealthy escape.

Have any of you had any experience with mental illness? Let me know in the comments.

-PositivelyCurvy

Dearest blogger friends,

It’s been a while since I’ve written to you. Truth be told, it’s been some time since I’ve written at all. But here I am, coming back to my favorite comfort zone. Have I ever mentioned how much I love blogging? Blogging is great.
In any case, I am aware that not many (probably none at all) of you will read this – but that’s totally alright with me. Blogging has always been a way for me to let my thoughts run wild, and there is nothing I need more than that today.

I’ve been in a weird rut lately. I’m graduating in a few *weeks*, I have so much schoolwork to finish up but I have no desire to (ahem, senioritis), and I don’t have a job yet. As you’ve guessed, this whole process is freaking me out. It feels like I’ve got so much pressure to not fuck up, and that’s been pretty hard on me. But I think the hardest thing for me these past few months has been the concept of being healthy. Not only have I not been taking care of my mind, my soul and my well-being, I’ve also treated my body like absolute crap. The amount of junk I’ve eaten these last few months makes me want to cry. But that my friends, is one thing I am done with.

It’s been a long winter and with that, my motivation levels have been nearly nonexistent. But, the sun is out, Manhattan is looking absolutely gorgeous and I am ready to start taking care of myself. This morning I woke up refreshed and motivated, after having spent all day yesterday with a horrible headache. I got up, drank some water and headed to the gym. Last summer I was in awesome  shape and I used to do about an hour and a half of gym time, five days a week. Now? 22 minutest on the eliptical and some stretches were all I could manage to do… but hey, that’s already so much better than yesterday. Now it’s time for a shower and I’m heading to central park to soak up some sun and maybe read a book.

I am coming back into it. Slowly, but surely.
Expect some body-love rambling from me.

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❤ Srna