Author Archive | Bella Cirovic

Instrumental: Managing Anxiety by Bella Cirovic

I struggle with anxiety.

When it first began, it was a blessing to learn that the symptoms I had been experiencing were not my physical health going bad or me going nuts: it was anxiety. There are a couple of things about anxiety I didn’t know: it’s the body’s natural response to fear. Yes, fear! A deep rooted, rational or irrational, tucked away in the depths of your brain, fear. The mind / body connection is so tightly intertwined that one teensy little trigger… a word, a photo, a place… can set the anxiety into motion and the body like magic, responds.

How am I working through it? Well, it takes a village to keep me in check. My anxiety tends to be heightened during the dark and colder months, a season we are just entering now.  I have gathered my top three go to moves to help me through it. Maybe they might be of help to you.

I have a tight circle of close friends who I can call and spill my guts to. The spilling part is the most important. Keeping things bottled up and withholding leads to isolation. The absolute worst feeling in the world is when you feel like you’re all alone. I have to make that call, open up, let it out, and trust that my friends will listen and hold onto whatever I have to share. Difficult? Yes. Necessary? Oh, yes. It’s been a tremendous help.

Because anxiety is a physical response my body often feels sore, like when you haven’t worked out in months and then you do and your muscles get sore and tender. I’ve created a special blend of oils that I pour into a roller ball bottle to massage on my pulse points and right into the muscles. I then massage and love on the tender parts. My favorite oils to use for this purpose is a combination of lavender, peppermint, and chamomile. Add a few drops of each to a carrier base like almond oil and use when necessary.

Meditation has helped tremendously! My favorite way to do that is to cd on or download an meditation app on my phone. I’ve found a couple of meditation guides that focus on anxiety and fears that I like and every morning before I shower, I plug in my headphones, and relax to the calming music. It’s refreshing. I try to keep my mind and heart open to receiving what the music has to offer, and I find that it relaxes me and releases me into the day very gently.

On a particularly rough day, I might plug into the meditation before I go to bed. However you meditate – whatever that practice may look like for you – it can’t hurt, it can only help. My favorite app for meditation is: Relax from Andrew Johnson.

I’ve only touched on three of my go-to practices here and what they all hold in common is that I have to show up. I have to conjure up the courage to reach out, to make that time, to fill the bottle with oils, to let go of what I should be doing to make time for my meditation. I have to let go and give in – and I believe that is what self care and self kindness means. It’s allowing yourself the TIME to focus on yourself and your healing. This is so vital to us so that we can show up in the other areas of our lives as a better version of ourselves, a more relaxed and rejuvenated version.

What are your go to moves for dealing with anxiety through the darker months?

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

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I Sit at a Table for One by Bella Cirovic

I sit at a table for one. I order a drink and settle in while listening to the conversations around me. I wonder how many people have sat here before me and how many will come after.

I remember one Friday night I had a group of women gathered around my table talking about everything from weight loss and gain, to love, to lost love, to friendships and relationships gone good and gone sour, to where we all find ourselves now in our life journey. We had champagne cocktails and little bites of different cheeses, crackers, almonds, fig spread, salamis, and our staple: blue corn chips and salsa. The spread felt extravagant in a way. The oracle cards came out. We went deep.

In both scenarios, alone or in a group, I do fairly well. I believe it’s because I possess the qualities of both an introvert and an extravert. I also have a kind of confidence that has come a long way since my 20’s minus the bravado or aggressive need to let my presence be known. Silence speaks volumes. So does a smile.

Side note: I smile more often now at strangers. I make conversation with the elderly at stores and lunch spots. It makes their day (and mine) and they have the best stories to tell. This you must try at least once.

There are so many different flavors of people. We adjust our seasonings to fit how we want to feel in our daily life, in our skin, and who we want to become next. We evolve. We change. It is a blur of onward motion, a train that keeps moving. Some people stay on for the ride, some jump on or off when they need to, and some just fall away because they’re comfortable at a different pace.

I so get this now.

I used to wonder if it was just me. What was wrong with me?

Gathered around my table (and for the sake of all that is good, I have been gathered in circle around many fires but have never GOT THIS) I realized that I am not the only one who goes through these achey growing pains. We’re all moving at a pace that is right for us, going through our own evolution, experiencing what our light and shadow looks like.

My daughter is inside of her own evolution. She is going back and forth on decisions around school and life choices. She is thriving in both theater and music. She wants to couple those skills with a degree in education and see where she lands with it. She’s driving and working and living the typical teenager life.

Mine, right now, requires massive amounts of space. My home needs tending. My body needs some love. My spark has reignited and I am ready to do great things but my body wants to move slow. So I listen.

I sit at a table for one. I listen to the stories that swirl up into the ethers. I tune in, absorbing the details. I feel less alone in my own life when I’m privy to hearing what others are going through. I don’t find that creepy if I find myself alone within earshot and I am NOT an eavesdropper. Well. I may be.

I sit at a table for one and pour out my heart and soul to the person sitting across from me. I let the tears go. I wonder if anyone is listening or if my release just floats on up into the celestial bubble above me.

And still, I feel blessed. Because it doesn’t matter. I know what I need and I allow myself that so that I might level up. It opens up a big amount of space within me for more salt, more mercy, more love.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Light and The End by Bella Cirovic

 

We have arrived at a time of the year when I truly appreciate the light of summer.

I spent so much time in my garden digging, planting, and tending. Mama Earth gave back in a beautiful way with an abundance of tomatoes, corn, peppers, beans, herbs, and potatoes. My hands are calloused with permanent dirt under my nails, a reminder that it was a good season. We visited miles of lavender and sunflower fields that thrived under the blanket of the sun.

So imagine my surprise that morning when I saw the first red leaf fall from the trees in back of my house.

The air is now crisp and the seasons will soon change.

I dried up some lavender from the farm, some rosemary from my garden, and I jarred some of my beans from the garden.

I will carry the promise summer with me through the darker months to remind me that light lies ahead of the dark.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

The Lavender Farm by Bella Cirovic

We made no travel plans for the summer, opting instead to take day trips to little known destinations up to an hour from our home that boasted promises of magic and beauty.

A google search for such places helped produce our list of sights to see this season. It’s how we came upon the lavender farm, an oasis of purple tucked in the hills near the shoreline of our fine state.

What a wondrous day we had walking amongst all of those sweet smelling lavender bushes, sipping lavender lemonade, and eating coffee cake drizzled with purple flowers and honey.

This day was a treat for our senses not to mention balm for our hearts.

So I ask you, if you were to search for a magical place near your home, what do you think you will find? What’s stopping you from going there?

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Fire in my Spirit by Bella Cirovic

It took a lot of courage for me to get on that plane. I knew on a soul level that once I boarded that flight, there would be no backing out. I had made a commitment months ago and there was nothing to keep me from going on this trip. That is one small detail I am down on my knees grateful for because a few months prior to me leaving for this restorative getaway, I was in a hospital waiting room praying for my husband’s life.

I now stood so far removed from that time. Months before I was to go on this trip, my husband had major open heart surgery. There is no preparation for what that will be like. Thankfully his surgery went well and was a success. His recovery was also smooth. I watched him gain his strength back daily and marveled at how with time, our bodies can heal. In a few short months, he was back at work and given the all clear by his doctors to resume living his life just as he had been prior to his surgery. He did so, fairly easily.

For me it was more difficult to jump right back into living.

I was constantly thinking and questioning everything that might have contributed to his need for the surgery in the first place. I also lived in a lot of fear that something would go wrong and change or undo the good works of his medical team.  I shared everything that was on my mind with good friends and a trusted doctor who assured me this were normal thoughts to be having after a major life changing event.

I would spend the months after the surgery in deep thought and contemplation.

I also thought a lot about an upcoming trip I had scheduled at a women’s retreat, one I had been to in the past that had felt like a week long healing adventure. How could I allow myself to fly across the country, for fun? I’d be much more at use here at home just in case anything should happen. I had become overly cautious. It would be awhile before I realized that I was living my life around the question of ‘what if’.

Once I realized how much fear I had been living in and how small that fear was making me, I could not un-see the ripple effect it was having in my life. I knew for certain that this was not how I wanted to be. It took many deep breaths and baby steps to get to a place where the fear of something unknown happening no longer kept me from living the outgoing, free spirited life I enjoyed before my husband’s surgery.

It is my goal to try to live by what I teach my daughter. For years I have told her to never let fear hold her back from doing the things she loves. And now I was contemplating not going on a trip to a place I loved to gather in community with women I adored. With nothing to hold me back and with the full support of my husband, I decided it would serve me well to go and get some rest from my day to day life. This trip was an essential piece to my healing.

There are moments in our lives that we get to put into action the change we want to see in ourselves. This was one such moment for me. As the plane began to rush down the runway and lift up into take off, I could feel some of my old baggage wash off of me. I let it go.  I was on my way to tend to the fire in my spirit, and I no longer felt afraid.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Beginnings and Endings by Bella Cirovic

A refreshing way to begin your day.
For you know not what may come.
Add a simple layer of softness with a bunch of wildflowers.
Their color and aroma awaken the muse and brighten your mood.

A refreshing way to end the day.
The events of which are now long done.
Sit underneath the sun and breathe.
Allow the warm rays to restore a sense of calm in your soul.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Instrumental: Nature Walks as Ritual in Spring by Bella Cirovic

When the flowers begin to bloom, I happily partake in one of my favorite Springtime rituals: a nature walk. The air feels so fresh while the sun casts a perfect temperature and glow on all the pretty buds that line my path. What a treat for my eyes after a long, dreary winter. I never tire of the scenery.

I fill my calendar with day trips to the farmer’s markets, coffee shops, and museums in and around my town. Seeing like minded people on the streets with their sunglasses on, some walking their dogs, others running with their earbuds in makes me feel like I belong to a family – a community of sun cravers getting their daily fix.

Just before the blooms hit their peak, I know it’s time to tend my own garden. I begin by clipping away anything old and dead. I then crouch down on my knees and start pulling weeds, creating space for leaves and roots to spread. The dirt gets a turn and a spread of new soil before anything gets planted. It’s so fun to plan what vegetables I’ll choose for our small garden. It’s even more fun to collect the bounty at the end of the summer.

My wardrobe colors don’t change much, but I do stray from my all black routine to include some light gray, navy blue, and white clothing. I pull out my collection of nude lip glosses and pack away everyone’s winter boots. The sun has come out to stay. The colors are spectacular. My being feels restored.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Space by Bella Cirovic

I attended a women’s retreat in Oregon’s high desert on the summer solstice last year. It was a week of complete relaxation, soul restoration, and sleeping under the stars. It was exactly what I had been craving after helping my daughter through a long first year of high school and prior to the start of our summer vacation. “What do I want from this week?” is a question I keep asking myself. If I could describe the feeling I was after with one word it would be: space.

 

This place gave me the room to declutter my mind of everyday thoughts and worries. I woke each morning and sipped coffee with women in the meadow where our camp was set up. After a short gathering we were given free time to do as we wished. Each day I chose a new spot to sit and relax. I had a blanket, my journal, my camera, and a playlist to keep me company. The fresh (but very hot) air combined with the quiet was exactly what my soul needed. I came home a better version of myself and fully ready to jump into summer.

 

I can’t be on vacation all the time though, so I try to find ways to create space in my everyday life that mimics the breathing room I enjoyed while camping out among the juniper trees in Oregon. It has become a personal mission to create tiny pockets of peace in my day. Doing so meant that I had to reevaluate how I was spending my time and energy, also to note where I could make changes.

In the morning, after a shut off the alarm, I take a few deep breaths before getting out of bed. After being jolted from a peaceful sleep, I need a few moments to reset and focus on my breath before I get up to face my day. I take a deep breath in, hold for 5 seconds and blow a soft, long exhale out. Take notice of how what your beginning moments feel like. Mine certainly feels aggressive, but the truth is I’m a heavy sleeper who needs a loud alarm. To compensate for the harsh awakening, I give myself these few moments of pause which for me mimic space.

 

I find space in the clothes I choose to wear. The materials need to be made of a pure cotton variety with room to breathe. My clothes flow back and forth with me. I have been wearing leggings for a long stretch of time because they are so comfortable. Now, I have nothing against a good pair of jeans, I just much prefer the way I can fully stretch and not feel constricted by my clothing.

 

At some point in the middle of the day, I unroll a gorgeous pink yoga blanket on my bedroom floor, light candles, gather my journals, and sit in quiet stillness. I picture in my mind’s eye a wide, open meadow. Even on days when life is especially noisy, I still make it a point to show up to my practice with the intention of creating breathing space. After some quiet time, I spill some thoughts into my journal and revel in the quiet.
Intentionally slowing down and being mindful of how I want to feel as I move through the world keeps my soul feeling tended and cared for. I choose to spend less time scrolling through my iphone and more time in conversation with my family. I choose to close my eyes and take a breath when chaos trumps quiet. And I choose to always find my way back to the peaceful meadow.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

‘Tis the Season by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

‘Tis the season for creating new rituals. It is a time for long walks in the afternoon just before the sun fades into the early evening. Allow yourself the space to breathe in the fresh air. Notice the scents that travel on the breeze, the textures of the trees around you, and the firmness of the ground beneath your feet. Watch the sun fall behind the horizon. Take the wonder of nature indoors with you. Grab what speaks to you. Maybe it will be a leaf or a twig or a stone or a piece of bark. The piece will infuse a sense of harmony between the outside world and your sacred space.

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‘Tis the season to nurture our body’s energy center with pungent and aromatic delicacies like fresh turmeric and ginger. It is said that yellow and orange colored foods fan our creative fires in addition to fueling our solar plexus chakra. Feed yourself food that mimics the sun now that the days are shorter. Indulge your senses with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, peppermint, and cumin. Swirl one or more of these spices into a mug of hot cocoa for a magical treat.

‘Tis the season to create cozy corners in our homes. Layering a couple of blankets and pillows to the couches and love seats of our family rooms creates an intimate vibe. Think about how inviting a plush, comfortable space would be for work, rest, entertainment, and play. Set aside a half hour to go through the rooms of the house and make a checklist of what can be moved around or added onto. Bring candles and oil burners to nooks and corners of your rooms. What about a string of twinkle lights? Vanilla and patchouli blend well together and both have properties that lend to the warm atmosphere we are going for.

‘Tis the season to move your body. Create some playlists or cd’s of music for all of the upcoming holidays. Don’t forget to add one for when you’re cleaning the house, one for cooking dinner, one for solo dance parties, and one for relaxing. Now that it’s colder, we’ll be inside more often. Movement, even simple stretches, revitalizes the body and gets blood circulation going. Move at a rate that feels right to you, whether that’s high energy steps or simply swaying from side to side. Shake away old energy. Sweat your feelings out. Movement is our sweet release.

‘This the season to gather with loved ones. In these tech heavy times, we need more coffee dates and get togethers with our friends and loved ones. Don’t settle for relationships that only exist because of text messaging. Make phone calls and pencil in some time to hang out and get lost in conversation. Enjoy watching the sun rise or set with your mate minus your smartphones. Read a good story to the kids before bed. Smother your family in hugs and kisses. The most heartfelt gift one can give is their time and their presence. These are things that cannot be bought.

‘Tis the season for tending to our hearts. The holidays are not always easy. This season in particular is known to amplify feelings of sadness, anxiety, and the blues. Check in with your spirit and feed yourself what you need. Be tender and merciful with yourself, you deserve it. Wave hello to your neighbors and smile at strangers. One kind gesture could mean the world to the person on the receiving end. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need or to offer your hand to help out. We are all in this together.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Creating a Sanctuary by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

The clocks have just moved back an hour. Dusk and darkness settle in much earlier than what I am used to. This time of the year always feels like a season of preparation for the cold months that are inevitably coming. Before winter arrives, I want to prepare my nest so that I am comfortable. I begin with that intention: comfort. My surroundings must be plush, soft, and supportive, so that when I am feeling internal discomfort, I have a sweet landing spot.

I feel like creating a sanctuary, a haven to hold me all winter long. This work of caring for myself is non-stop and I find myself constantly modifying my surroundings to best suit my mood. “What will the cold months be like?” I wonder. This is how I am prepping for their arrival.

mcl-bella-nov

Comfort during the cold months will look like empty counter spaces that hold only my coffee pot and jars filled with tea bags, homemade marshmallows, and caramel nut popcorn for snacking. I truly feel at home with a warm drink and I need these items to be out in the open; a visible invitation to warm the belly. Within reaching distance will be the milk frother, cinnamon, and my favorite mug.

The corners of my living space will hold baskets filled with yarn, journaling supplies, books and magazines. My favorite way to spend the day is to be active in the morning by getting some cleaning done, having dinner prepped for cooking later on, and then relaxing on the couch while watching a show or a movie. The time is best passed with some knitting or if I choose to forego the T.V, I’ll spend some time reading. This feels so calming to me.

I will make a special trip to the store to stock up on church candles and incense. There is a divine feel to a room that is surrounded in candlelight and smoke swirls. Having these items close to me make me feel supported and safe. I also keep crystals for clarity, like my quartz chunk or my smokey quartz point nearby for comfort and as allies for my meditation time.

Music and the flow of soothing sounds are a grounding and necessary part of my day. I will browse for Pandora stations and Spotify playlists that compliment how I’m feeling and turn the speaker up high. For me, there must be a soundtrack playing in the background almost all the time. Music allows me to move and break up stagnant energy. I dance it out hard to warm up my blood, kick up my circulation, sweat, and to wake up my cells. Dance and movement are a must during the winter.

I keep the refrigerator and pantry shelves full of fresh fruits, veggies, and all the add-ons for delicious and colorful soup and salad making. This season, I have given up my beloved wine, so I am trying mocktails with fruit flavored sodas and bitters.

sanctuarybybellacirovic

Finally, I created a perfume oil that feels like home to me. I created it during a time when I wasn’t feeling particularly at home in my skin. Each component of the oil evokes a sense of confidence in myself, trust in my own intuition, and space to show myself some mercy. The scent is called Sanctuary, a perfect compliment to the space I am carving out for myself during this season.

Are you creating a special space to expand and relax in for the cold? I would love to hear more about it in the comments.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Note: Bella is offering Modern Creative Life readers $5 off their order of this perfume oil using the code: MCLfive. Read more about Sanctuary here.
*Coupon will be good through Nov. 30th.

 

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