Monthly Review (February 2016) - Health, Lessons, Favorites and Inspiration (and Leo DiCaprio wins an Oscar!)

Once every four years, we get an extra day to add up to our year. That is what we call a leap-year. That additional day has the purpose to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical year. Funny how time got divided by humans! Does this mean we live more? Does this mean we are a day older? For me it means that I just have an extra day to review my past month and to share some learnings and inspiration with all of you.


The defining word for this month was numbness. Sensory symptoms are very common in early stages of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (that’s a mouthful there, i know!). For the second and third week they increased, culminating with what it seemed to be a wonderful pseudoexacerbation (mouthful again! the things one has to learn in this context!).

It can get quite scary when you feel your upper left back getting numb, going down the outter left arm and ending in your 4th and 5th fingers. It’s like that feeling you get when you sleep on a side and it falls asleep. In my case, it got numb-ish when standing or sitting up. The sensation crawls on you, it gradually gets stronger, and then it tingles. Like you have small bubbles bursting under your skin.

To paint the whole picture, I have to add a blurry right eye (on and off), some nerve pain here and there, a migraine, and stinging in my left eye (on and off too). As I was feeling all this, my mind kept fighting back, my emotions were a mess, as I felt I was losing control, not being able to get a grip on my body and what it did.

And then I understood. In order to feel better and to regain control over yourself, you have to actually let it go, alow yourself to go through whatever you’re facing and then analyze and rise up with another lesson learned. It all flows. No pain is here forever. Not quite at the same intensity anyway. 
As with all things in life, you eventually get used to the situation. We are adaptable beings. We all have what it takes to survive, to accept our life, adapt and overcome any hardship. Often times, our minds are the ones standing in the way of us feeling better. People might go through amazingly hard times, but the stronger and flexible minds prevail. Always.

I tend to get scared, I tend to get irritable, angry and not so pleasant to be around when shitty things do happen. Or at least I used to. Untill the numbness episode happened last week. And through the scary thoughts, the panic I felt as my left arm side was getting numb, I crawled back up, refusing to give in to my fears and symptoms.

I got up, strethched and accepted the fact that I had a numb side. It could have been worse that that. What will I do if it does get worse if I’m failing myself now? That’s not an option. I must always rise above, breathe and be grateful for what I do have. Be calm, accept and do my best to live the life I’ve planned. If I don’t help myself, no one will be able to.


Let go of details. When you can’t see the forest for the trees is time to back up and rething the whole situation you’re dealing with. There is no point feeling overwhelmed. Focus on what makes you happy and go do that. Do it with love, ease and excitement. Stick to your plans, to your choices. Live healthy and happy, doing what comes naturally to you, what makes you all fuzzy inside, strong and accomplished. The rest are details and will arrange by themselves.

Automatize your daily routines as to be able to focus on the things that really need your energy and focus, on the things that make up your healthy life (going to work, exercising, spending time with friends, reading, etc). Choose your daily battles.

In life, you get what you focus on. Have to many bad days in a row? It’s time to change something. It might be your sleep patterns, your diet, your lack of movement, you getting to upset for minor issues, anything. Moderation and balance are key to a happy and healthy life.

Aim to simplify, give more and focus on the task at hand. Multitasking is a myth. It never helped anyone having his or her head in more places at the same time. It’s exhausting!

Move, rest, eat well, find silence and love within. Pray, breathe, accept. Find refuge in what makes you feel better, cozy and rested. Train for health. Live now. Don’t delay it (life happens now, as you read this).

Loosen the grip on things. Enjoy life, worry less. Let go of ego and pride. Give more. Be humble, be helpful. Spend more time and love on your loved ones, people, places, etc. to balance the nastier sides of rollercoastering, to always have a safety net of things, people and places that help you feel good.

Sleep is medicine, take it as needed. Eat only what heals and makes you feel good and energized (not stuffed, there’s a long way ‘till the Christmas turkey and you’re not competing with it!)


Pheeww! This was one full month! As always, I read a lot, wrote a lot, learned a lot and watched some very inspirational creatives do the best at their craft. It’s all about the people you surround yourself with, near or far, flesh and bone or via the internet, alive or dead.

There’s knowledge everywhere. There are always lessons to be learned and things to see. Choose what makes you better, stronger, happier. Choose the things that help you feel good, that act like a safety net, a soft mattress you can fall on when you’re not so good at times.

Going back to my “roots” so to speak, I chose to write a daily weekday blog again. To revitalize old projects (Metamorphosis), create new ones and share some works in progress. I find ease in writing and in building stories. 
I once more got inspired by Liz Gillbert. “Big Magic”, her latest non-fiction, is the manual I go back to, again and again when I need to better understand what being creative really means. And then I get back to writing. Once again, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin brought to life old ideas and writing plans. I will share more as the stories unfold.

I was drawn to history and natural sceenery documentaries. To story-like places and realms that made me feel free and that provided enough mental space for the ideas to develop freely and harmoniously. “Escape to the Country”, “Saints and Sinners - Britain’s Millennium of Monasteries” and “Wild Scotland” were the type of videos that created the setting.

Maria Popova with her Brain Pickings articles and YouTube interviews and speeches, David Brooks with his take on the social animals we all are, Adriene Mishler with her Yoga Camp and Chase Jarvis with his CJraw episodes were the structure of the inspiration I had for this February.

As always, I enjoyed it to the maximum. I always like having a full schedule of things to learn and see.

Another important chapter of the month, or should I say months, were reading the Bible and helping myself to better understand its story through the animated YouTube videos of The Bible Guys. I’ve mentioned them before, in my Friday Metamorphosis episode. Check them out. If you ever wanted to read the scripture and fell of the bandwagon before finishing the Exodus from Egypt, this is the channel for you. The Bible and its learnings suddenly become more comprehensible and fun. It’s a story unlike all others. It’s the book of books and inside you’ll find love, gratitude, humbleness and choice (I got a bit to excited there. but what can I do? I really enjoy it).

One last piece of inspiration comes from the not so new videos of the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform, the series called “Under Pressure - Living With MS in Europe”. The episode that really spoke to me and that served as inspiration for a few following blog posts for the next months was the one that presented the story of Martina

A young girl of  26, after the diagnosis and a depressive period in her life, she is now working as part of a hotel’s staff, socializing and trying to feel normal again, in spite of her disease. Once again, there are examples that life is worth living, even if you have an incurable illness like multiple sclerosis. We are born to live (don’t listen to Lana del Rey! :)) ).

This was my month and all the things that got me a little forward than I was the one before. Little by little, we all evolve, we all change and grow. The more you resist it, the more you strain your mind and bring anxiety into your life. Straighten your back, close your eyes and breathe deeply. 

Another day has passed. What have you learned? How do you feel? Get in touch with yourself and let’s talk.

Oh, and last night (evening for USA), Leonardo DiCaprio took home an Oscar for Best Actor in “The Revenant”. Finally! :))

Yours truly,

METAMORPHOSIS - ep. 6 - What I've Learned about Acceptance, Resilience and Love

When I started the Metamorphosis Project, little did I know that transformation really happens from the inside out rather than through things that happened to me externally. Although the outside part cannot always be changed, what happens inside can, and that’s where I began my transformation journey.

A chronic, incurable diagnosis is surely a thing that will turn your world upside down and inside out. It humbles you and makes you see the world from an entirely new perspective. You have to be willing to learn from all that you experience, to accept, adapt an eventually overcome, otherwise the journey will be at least twice as hard.

The Resistance is that instinctual defence mechanism we all share. It’s one of the first brain structure we develop and the first to make us react to the primal emotions like fear and anger. We all know that voice in our heads that keeps us from doing something for the fear of losing, of failing. It’s the same voice that warns us we are facing something dangerous, and that we must get out, quit or avoid that situation. 

It only wants to keep us safe. Forever. From everything.

The only thing that it doesn’t protect us from is ourselves. Unfortunatelly, people tend to act impulsively, and even more so when they’re angry, scared or upset. We are reckless, we torture ourselves internally for what we did or didn’t do, for what we had and what we lost, for what we deserve and do not get. You name it! The list is endess. 

We all have our internal demons. The problem here is that we need to… exorcise them and become at ease.

Real transformation takes work, takes patience, understanding, being humble and open-minded. You can’t begin to change if you are living in the past or are anxious for what the future will bring.

What worked for me personally was taking time to look inside and dig deeper to find out (or to remember) who I really was. The tools that helped on this journey were yoga, journaling, meditation and prayer. This combination allowed me to explore my limits physically, emotionally and rationally.

The yoga practice taught me that all my days are different, and that most of the times, the plan or expectations I have in my brain do not always mirror reality. I might come to the mat thinking that I’m going to have a flowing, easy experience and instead I face a stiff body and sweatty, anxious me. Being such an overachiever, this would usually be the point where I give up. But I learned to accept my weaknesses and hard times and push through, carry on with what I’m doing. 

Life doesn’t wait for me to be ready, it happens now and I must face it. There’s nobody comming to live it for me or help me with what I need to do for myself. I am my most trusted friend, coach and healer. I am a vessel for what God wants me to do in this life. This was one of the biggest lessons I learned and am still learning. 

Day by day, without fail, I come to the mat to meet my demons or to embrace my strongest self, body and mind. The isometric movements in yoga help my muscles release tension, be it physical or emotional. Pair that with deep breathing and I'm in for a wonderous ride to myself. 

We are capable of such great things. We only have to surrender, have faith and allow transformation to do it’s work.

Journaling has always been one of my favourites. Even from a young age, writing down all that bothered me, all my dreams and stories helped to see the bigger picture. It helped with treating my emotions as objects, move them around and explore them from all angles. The mind plays tricks on you and doesn’t show all that you need to see. Simply by writing down all your thoughts, your emotions and lessons, the rational, objective filter that is activated when we read, puts all into order. 

It also works as a pretty good brain dump, when your mind is overwhelmed with noise and you just need to relax. Take out a notebook and write your heart off. For me it did and it still does wonders, as I see myself in a new light. I can come back and review my week, and understand how I’ve been. On the long term, you’ll get to know and understand yourself a little better. 

Your life is a journey, so you might want to spend it with someone you know and trust: yourself.

Meditation and prayer come as a bundle. I can’t separate my mind from the thoughts without feeling protected by the higher power. These two usually are threaded together during one sitting. Instead of a mandala I use a rosary around my neck. I either start by taking deep breaths, taking up space and saying Holy Father, or I finish the session with the prayer. It works both ways. 

Remember what I said about acceptance and letting go of expectations? It applyes here to. 

Every day and night, when I begin my 20 minute practice, I come with a fresh mind, I don’t expect anything, don’t try to change anything. I just am. Silencing the mind is not easy though. Many times, thoughts have me drifting from my purpose right untill the alarm goes off, meaning the session is over. Imagine the frustration! 

But I learned to let it go and accept it for what it was: a process. It has ups and downs, good days and bad days. On some occasions, my mind gets so at ease, so in tune with my sensations and emotions that I begin crying or smiling. 

Layers and layers of negative self-talk, of not forgiving myself or others for all types of stupid things. All the grudges, the self doubts, the fear and selfishness, they all had their turn. They all surfaced at one time. 

As with yoga and journaling, the trick is the same: let go of judging, accept and understand what you are experiencing. Each time, dig deeper.

A bonus tool that has helped me understand the need I have for being close to my christian-orthodox faith is begining to read the Bible. Since the year began, I went through most of the five books of Moses, this week reaching the middle of the book of Numbers. On this journey, I found The Bible Project on YouTube. Two guys and their team digitally draw and create animated videos that tell the story within the Bible. Their concise and modern approach on the Scripture, makes them really worth watching. Find out more about them here and here.

All in all the biggest, the most impactful landmark on this journey of transformation was the day when I understood that all is flowing, that all is energy (a vibration basically) and that the most important and life-giving one is LOVE in all its shapes and sizes: kindness, gratefulness, generosity, compassion, forgiveness. God is love, and thus we are all able to find Him and thus find inner peace. 

We just have to continuously find the love within, get to know ourselves better and better, then love others and be humble that we have this wonderful gift called life. Choose life.

We are more stronger than we think. The mind is limiting our actions. Let the Ego and pride go and look at the world through your heart. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll see.

As always, yours sincerely,

The Cold Wind Curse (fantasy short-story)

(Please allow me some metaphors for this article as I became inspired by the numbness I had last evening. The experience I had is going to be transformed into a fantasy short story, involving fictional characters and such, as I find it easier to reflect and to summarize the experience and sensations I had. This is my choice and you are free to like it or not. Let’s begin…)

25 / 02 / 2016
by Alexandra Celic

Long forgotten were the long summer evenings, when the wind blew softly through and around the edge of the forest, slightly cooling the atmosphere after a long and hot day. The sunsets were splashes of red undertones disappearing below the horizon, as the sun made way to the moon. Nature felt alive even in the dark, as many of the forest animals came to the creek to cool off.

At one point, its waters became blurry and little by little, they began to have greyish tones that made it harder and harder to see the bottom. Little by little, the leaves lost color and the light became duller. At night, there were less and less movements in the forest and a cold breeze came howling between the branches of the trees. The change happened slow but steady.

This was the time when the people sensed the cold for the first time in their life. In the beginning, they often went back inside their keeps and houses as they felt the wind blowing. Time went by, and the cold was no longer just outside. It began rising inside the body, as their left arms begin to feel numb. As much as they tried to get themselves warm, the numbness didn’t wear off. It was constant companion day by day.

Since the winds came to this land, there were others around the age of 20 who went through the same thing. Subtle sensations got altered, as the numbness affected everyone differently. Some of them were in pain, as their body was suffering from frostbite sensations, tens of sharp needles stabbing them at the same time, without giving any brakes.

This was the curse the cold winds brought wherever they came. They aimed to paralyze everything in their path. To transform all around them to the point of immobility. It was told that the first time people faced them, the cold had almost no power. It tried to submit the land, but it was always fought back. There was always a defense mechanism which came from the Faith.

The winds became stronger, as did the people who came with them. The eleazars were told to be the ones who were able to control the cold, who could offer help in fighting it back.

They befriended the king, and decade after decade brought great knowledge to the realm’s libraries, and were made part of the communities. As they became more and more installed in the structure of the society, the winds blew harder, the days and nights became colder, and more and more people felt the numbing curse.

Many more were lost forever, as their bodies slowly and then more quickly gave in to this powerful plague for which there was no cure. The eleazars again offered their help to the king, promising they will do whatever it takes to find a way to control the situation.

They close themselves into their libraries and brewed a serum. This was thought to keep the plague under control, at least until they found a way to eradicate it. Little by little, people were given this treatment, and their numbness wasn’t so bad, their health was steady, and the plague worked slower.

Time went by and the eleazars made promise after promise to the people, giving them all kinds of food, knowledge and care to help with their suffering. The kings changed rapidly, as the plague grew strong in each and everyone’s bodies. Until one day, when there were no direct descendants.

The boy-king was totally numb, and his sister wasn’t allowed to step on the throne, due to her gender. Once again offering to help the realm, the eleazar took over and claimed the right to rule, as they were the most cherished servants of the late king.

At first, people accepted them. After all, they were the ones who made the much-needed serum which their lives depended upon. Little did they know that the help will soon be over.

The eleazar quickly showed their true purpose, that of enslaving the people in order to grow their rule over that part of the world. Year after year, the cold winds got stronger and stronger.

Since the Eleazar Conquest, as people got to their 20’s, they began needing more and more serum. But it was no longer offered freely. For the monthly dose, the eleazars were putting them to work for their castles and keeps, planting, harvesting and making the very treatment they needed.

There were many ways to serve the eleazars, but the people were not free to live their life as they wanted. The people who do rebelled had an awful ending, as they were refused the treatment, left to become numb, day after day, until they were paralyzed forever.

There were stories about the few who managed to escape, no longer to be seen again by anyone. They were told to have died in the woods, their bodies probably failing after a short while. Others thought they have gone to die at the Anterium, the ancient monastery high in the clouds, that was thought to be deserted after many decades after the eleazar came to power.

The great monastic fortress up in the mountains housed an ancient and wise order who honored the one true God through knowledge, self-discovery and prayer. Nobody knows where the Triad came from.

Elders say they were one of the nations who inhabited the realm many millennia ago. The eleazar accused them of being warrior priests, who worshipped the occult, thus bringing the plague into the realm through their Awakening rituals. The once respected carriers of the old Faith were now banished from society.

Old tales mentioned a wise people who had almost perished in the Eleazar Conquest. They were thought to be smashed and to have disappeared, but now the Anterium seemed to grow strong again. Commoners thought they are evil and stood out of their way whenever the white cloaks flew through the city at dawn or at dusk. They soon became memories, then legend.

Little by little, people got scared. As time went by, they forgot all the knowledge of the old realm and all about the Awakening. They lived doing their ordinary daily chores and activities and the Anterium secluded itself, day by day becoming a refuge for the few who still had the Gift. For the few who still believed.

And so our story begins.

(To be continued…)

How and Why Start the Rest of the Year With Love? Dragobete, the Romanian Valentine's Day

Every year, after the cold winter months, nature comes back to life. The warmth of the sun caresses the green-ish pastures and trees will soon begin to blossom. This is the preparation for the spring and for the renewal of all beings.

Legend says that on the 24th of February, an almost mythological creature comes to life, and thus uniting all nature into pairs. It’s what we here in Romania know as the Dragobete, a similar celebration to the more commercial Valentine’s Day.

It’s considered to be the first day of spring, the day when birds begin to nest and mate. Maidens used to collect the last snow and use it to make love or magic potions the rest of the following year. Boys gifted girls snowdops as a symbol of pure love and rebirth of nature.

According to tradition, this creature helps bind together all living beings, contributing each year to the rebirth of the natural world. The birds fall in love, the animals fall in love, humans fall in love. It is a time for caring to all that is around and inside us.

So this is an invitation to start fresh. To find reasons to love your life, your self, with good and bad things, with illness and health, with abundance or scarcity, with whatever is currently present in your life. Accept that this is what you have and focus on what you can do with it.

What positive change can you make for yourself or for somebody else? It might be your experience and advice in some area, or a kind word to someone who needs comforting. It might be a journal entry or a self-talk to yourself.

It’s your choice, do what resonates with you. But whatever your choice is, be sure is a gift of love. Be sure it is kind, compassionate and gentle. There’s no room for hard or pointy corners today. Only time for comfort, coziness and positive thought.

Do whatever makes you feel better: read a book, watch a movie or a favorite TV series, write a blog, write in your journal, write to a friend, call a friend (why not?), cook something good to eat to a loved one, give a massage, take a nap, etc. There are loads of things you can do to feel loved and help others feel the same way as well.

We are all different and have personal choices. I just wrote a few examples of what you could do. The point here is to come alive with a sense of ease and comfort, with a new warmth in your heart and hopefully in the hearts of others too.

May you have a wonderful and safe day!

As always, yours truly,
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Why Life Micromanagement Can Increase Anxiety?

We all want to be in charge of our life and all that relates to it. Let’s imagine it to be a beautiful, green forest. It has lots of trees, lots of shade, lots of shapes and sizes and a few dark corners where our worries and secrets lie.

One day, an unknown force takes over and lurkes inside, deeper and deeper. You pay more and more attention to every tree, to every leaf movement, to every sound. Everything in the forrest now has to have your whole attention. As time goes by, you end up so close to the trees that you get to see the little hairs on the back of the ant on the tree bark. And by doing so, you lose sight of the forest in all it’s grace and fullness. All that you can’t see or control scares you, and you get more and more tense.

The same with a chronic illness. It comes uninvited into your life, bringing worry, angst and fear of the unknown. You do all this research online, in books, you ask doctors, nurses. You begin to question yourself, everyday is another opportunity to learn more and more about this new thing that threatens to take over your body. Every minute becomes a good moment to analyze every single strange sensation or reaction that you might have. It’s a state of hyper-vigilance, a false state of being in control on what’s happening to you.

Almost a year has gone by since I’ve started treatment with Copaxone. Some find relief in having it, because it slows down the progression of the illness. And I know that. I am forever grateful for the chain of events that lead me to be able to have this treatment.

It makes me angry knowing that young people like me still don’t have acces to treatment, still aren’t being diagnosed or even taken into account, although they are contributors to the society I come from. This is one important topic about which you will be reading and hearing a lot more this year.

Getting back to today’s issue, what can a treatment do for my emotional state, for my thoughts and reactions versus an invisible illness, versus symptoms and relapses? It has some power over the relapse rate and illness progression, and I am again very grateful for that. But in terms of helping me get out of that dark place I was putting myself into… not so much.

In fact, it has somewhat made my anxiety even worse, as I had some not so good injections, many frustrations linked to injecting along the way, the constant reminder that I am sick and have an incurable disease and that I must rely on a needle to get some control. In the meantime, my internal control was losing balance.

On the surface all was good and well. I ate better, exercised, rested and relaxed as long as I needed to. It all seemed ok. But internally I was fearing a depresion comming in.

I consider it a very serious topic and don’t ever take it lightly. I had the opportunity to do my undergraduate thesis on depression in adolescents and I know how dangerous it can be.

All the angst I was feeling, all the gray and dull days I went through and the partial loss of the joy in my life made me look even closer into my emotions and lifestyle. But the harder I looked, the harder the truth was hiding away from me. The darker the forest became.

Rationally, I have been aware of this in me for a long time. Emotionally, I was still not accepting it. I scrutinized every new tingling, every needle-like sensation in the eyes, every clumsiness or fatigue. Although I knew that all these had more to do with not sleeping enough hours a night, hormonal changes or not paying enough attention to what I was doing, I kept that intensive, extensive watch. What if I wasn’t aware of a sudden change in my body or symptoms and then it all got worse?! What if it caught me off guard?

Last night I realised that I’m micromanaging my multiple sclerosis (symptoms, reactions, etc) and thus my entire life. Although I’ve made some great choices that help me feel good every day, there was always this watcher at the back of my mind, watcher that didn’t allow me to fully relax and enjoy the way my days went.

This time it was an emotional awareness. This was the source of all my rampant anxiety and fear. Given the micromanagement, anything that kept me from entirely controlling every aspect of my life got me angry, anxious and annoyed. Thus I couldn’t relax, enjoy the moment and live it fully.

This micromanagement was not fully present. I also had moments when I let go and those were the most memorable and dear to my heart. Those moments were the ones where I gave myself some space to breathe, to move, to just be. Those were the moments when I take a few steps back from the trees and begin to see the forest, the leaves, the shapes, the sky. These were the moments when I breathed deeply, hugged tightly and dreamt optimistically.

Now I open my eyes and will do  my best every single day. It’s the best gift I have: the choice to live bravely!

Repeating this might sound redundant, but getting to the root cause of all my missfortunes for almost two years now, was a real relief. The proverbial stone lifted of my chest and I could once more see the forest in all its glory. It was still there, moving as the wind blew by, with the trees of my self deeply rooted in experience, knowledge and watered by all the love and gratitude I felt inside my heart for all the good things in my life.

Going through this is a breath of fresh air. A real one after such a long time of giving in to my fears and scares.

Choose what’s best for you.
Choose yourself.

So, I encourage you to take a few steps back from whatever hardship you might be facing right now. May it be MS related, job related, relationships related or combined, it doesn’t matter. Mentally and emotionally, get away from it and look at how it is. Look at the real situation, no adding, no substracting. Look at it as it is, good or bad.

Once again, accept life for what it is. Let go of the worries that no longer serve you, grieve if you need to. Then take a deep breath to calm your mind. Close your eyes and picture what you can do to feel, be or make better. Open your eyes and look at your forrest. Work with what you have now. Focus on the positives, as hard as it might be, focus on what you still can do and do it fully and wholeheatedly.

Push through the sadness, the grief, the loss, the disability and the loneliness. People can help you, medicine can help you, but you are the only one responsible for your choices.

Choose to keep on living. Choose what’s best for you. Choose yourself.

Have a wonderful day!