[21 Days to Better Sleep Challenge] DAY 1/21 - Sleep Disturbances and Feeling Overwhelmed. How Teaching The Brain New Habits And Routines Can Help | SMart Choice Lifestyle

Feeling excited about your future goals and planning your next trip or experience is a good thing, a healthy thing. But when all this is happening at night, you know it’s time for a self analysis. It’s not even funny how many ideas can pop into your head when you can’t sleep at night. I know myself to be an over thinker, but the speed my brain is processing information at 3 am is still mind blowing.

A few nights ago I just had it! Could no longer passively sit and watch all the to-do lists and worrying about the next day’s activities that my mind was putting me through. I did fall asleep (eventually), but the following day I sat and asked myself why was I constantly in a rush, either doing or thinking? All the roads pointed out to insufficient sleep, to chaotic sleeping patterns.

Constant attempts to find the best morning and evening routines, changing activities and having a full past two months all lead up to my body and brain not caring anymore about whatever discipline I wanted to have in my life. I just wanted to relax and recharge. But what you repeatedly do, you become, and just like that I managed to push myself into a loop: not enough sleep - rushing throughout the day - sleepy in the afternoon - hard to fall asleep at night - not enough sleep and on and on.

When you become used to doing things in a certain way and then you change them and don't try to get back at the initial stage for a while, your body will most definitely send you signals. That’s where [re]CONNECTING with yourself proves helpful.

We have to listen to our body’s needs, to be in sync with what they ask of us and to be able to nurture their wants: sleep, nutritious food, rest, movement. Headspace is essential for me. As much as I love people’s stories, i recharge in solitude. I need to go to bed early enough in order to sleep 8h and wake up recharged at a good AM hour.

Press the reset button and wish to better the way you’re feeling and thinking about ourselves, to gain more self-confidence (or to gain it back), and to do our best in this world and not waste any gifts (ex: writing, inspiring others, empowering, creating, etc).

Most of the times, sleep proves to be the cause of all the chaos in our minds and lifestyle. That’s why going to bed at a decent hour (something like 10pm) can be the best choice you’ve ever done in a while, especially if your schedule is busy or you have sleep issues (like in Multiple Sclerosis or other conditions).

A regular sleeping pattern can reduce our anxiety about schedules, can lead to more productivity (as the brain is more alert), and give us time to start our mornings slow and more mindfully. And overall, sleep is the promoter of less inflammation inside the body. We need sleep in order for our bodies to properly take care of toxin removal, hormone manufacture, and infection fighting. Whenever we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies cannot complete those important tasks, increasing our chances of developing health issues (or worsen preexisting ones) due to excess toxins, inflammation, and hormone imbalances.

In order to achieve having a regular sleeping pattern, some habits need to change. We all stay up to late or go to bed at different times every night. We are caught in the screens of our devices, wanting to finish “that one last episode of Game of Thrones!”, those “last three emails!”, or “one last refresh on Facebook”. We all do that! Because we want to finish what we’re doing, we don’t prioritize sleep.

Remember the chaos I was talking about earlier? Our bodies get confused. But if we set and strictly follow a bedtime routine, we will get in the habit of relaxing at a certain hour, naturally inducing sleepiness. If you know yourself as having a sleep disorder, first check solutions with your physician and add a bedtime routine that includes his/hers suggestions. All this needs to be in our best interest.

Arianna Huffington's #sleeprevolution movement shows a light over the importance of sleep in our lives. Here's her manifesto:

So, my choice / challenge for the following 21 days is to begin getting into some healthy sleeping habits (21 days is the minimum amount of days that can induce a new habit into one’s life). For increasing my chances to actually follow them, they’re included into my night routine. One hour before bedtime I put down all devices and screens, making notes on what I have to finish / see / do the next day. Then I go and make myself a chamomile tea, take a shower and wash my teeth, say my prayers and clear my mind for about 15 minutes and then do some journaling before turning the lights off.

What would your routine look like? How is your relationship with sleep and mental space going? Would love to hear that from you in the comments down below!

Until next time, have a wonderful day!

[re]CONNECT MANIFESTO: How Multiple Sclerosis Triggered My Journey of Self-Discovery & The Need to Love Out Loud! | SMart Choice Lifestyle

I still remember the tunnel vision that sliced the room in two parts: my mind and the rest of the world. All the eyes that were on me after the room got quiet did not matter. All that was important at that moment were my mum slowly pulling out a chair and sitting down, and my shattered identity. The tears were racing towards my eyes, but I wanted… I needed to be strong. Not for me… for her! It did not matter that I was just given a life-long diagnosis. All that I could focus on is what would THEY do if I get worse? What would my loved ones do now that I had Multiple Sclerosis?


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic (life-long) inflammatory autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves). Nerve cells are covered in an insulating cover called a myelin sheath (it wraps around the nerve, like a little doughnut). Autoimmune diseases mean that your own body begins to attack itself. In MS, the immune system confuses myelin sheaths with something harmful and thus destroys them.

This process is called demyelination, and it results in damaged nerves that cannot transmit impulses - resulting in a vast array of symptoms, ranging from pins and needles, numbness, to paralysis and, blindness and even death (in the more advanced and aggressive forms). Instead of keeping its integrity and acting like a unit, the body goes rogue on the brain, its command center. It’s main effect is disconnection.

All my life I’ve identified with what others thought and said about me. When their opinions and behaviors were bully-ish, aggressive and truly offensive, my self-image had to suffer. It got damaged, leading to low self-esteem and constant efforts to being liked and accepted by my peers. All this, sprinkled with emotionally internalizing all family conflicts (big or small), rose stress to an unbearable level, possibly triggering my body to attack itself.

It was the command I kept giving to my cells through actions, thoughts and emotions. Body postures that I kept, neuro-programming that came out of habitual negative behavior and hormonal / neurochemical imbalance, topped with being overweight and in spiritual disconnection with myself and God, all might have lead to developing Multiple Sclerosis. Or at least that’s my theory on the issue.

But that was the struggle part of my life. The best parts were my family and friends, people that raised, inspired and formed me in more ways than one. From them I have inherited a survivor attitude, the need to always rise back from where I fell and keep trying, keep living.

This innate resilience got coated with all the answers I looked and searched for during the past (almost) three years since receiving the diagnosis. I not only wanted to bounce back, but I wanted to THRIVE, to be my best version, to stay on top of all that was to come, while I adapted my lifestyle accordingly.


But then I realized that I was disconnected from my core self. Who was I and where was I going in life? I had lots of dreams, but… WHY did I want to pursue them in the first place? This chronic illness was now part of my body and I did not know who I was behind all those social masks that we all have! So I went deep inwards. VERY deep! And eventually I reached my core. I brought a light to the deepest, most inner corners of my body, mind and soul. I now understand and know myself. I have my guiding light. It was there all along. Jesus was waiting for me to learn through all the struggles my bad and self-harming choices had put me through.

I now have the feeling that I accumulated enough information, and did enough research and exploration (both inwards and outwards) to be able to make my voice heard in the world, in the areas that matter most: self-love, love for others, all in and through God.

I took the road less-travelled to journey inwards and discover, [re]CONNECT with myself and others through creative / expressive writing, art and blogging. Lots of key-areas to cover from now on, but mostly focused on brain, mental and spiritual health.


I feel the need to express myself and help others along the way, inspire and empower them to [re]CONNECT to what’s important: to themselves, to others and to God. To be of service. To LOVE OUT LOUD and make pride less. I want to empower people on how to be true to their core selves and live a fulfilling life, while using and living a brand that creates the financial means for all that. [re]CONNECT around LOVE. Get back to themselves, go within, travel, explore, grow, become their best version.

I choose weekly blogging, because everyday I have to serve, I have to storytell and teach. We’ll take themes one at a time, have some  structure, but allow flexibility. Schedule and limit choices just to be at ease. Declutter and prioritize. And most of all, EASE INTO IT. Build your lifestyle around what you do, around your priorities. Share your lessons with the WORLD. Grow. All is coming.

My core theme is CONNECTION. It is about the way I see the world, the connection with yourself, with God, with others. Make a connection, interact, collaborate. When everything else wants to tear you apart, find the road back to relationships, back to connection.

It’s easy to show and give love to the ones we’re used to and are similar to us. But love is universal and should be given wholeheartedly to each and every human in need. A broken heart, fear and pain are just the same for all of us. No matter the color of our skin, no matter what we bow to and believe in.

God commanded us to love one another. Even in our darkest night, our deepest pain, LOVE has to be universal and given without making any differences.

 So, my next journey is towards self-love and giving it back to people. Are you with me? :)

Until next time, have a wonderful day!

Two Years of Copaxone Daily Injections and A Promise to My Inner Kid | SMart Choice Lifestyle

A bunch of orchids were lined up next to the window, while daylight was filling the room up. I had been waiting for this moment for almost 10 months now, and it was finally here! As I was sitting on the armchair in the neurologist’s office, the MS nurse was giving me basic training for starting Copaxone, a daily injectable drug for Multiple Sclerosis, aiming to slow down the disease progression and reduce the number of possible relapses that could in time cause disability.

I decided to start with my stomach area, to get used to the burn that I so much read about before. The nurse was the one who gave me my first dose that day. As she pressed the auto injector against my skin, I could feel my inner kid wanting me to run away, to stop this and get back to normal. There was no turning back. I was injecting my body with a new substance that promised to help me live well, but still my mind was in fear.

I now know that in that moment I got even more stuck in the “what if…?” scenario that started after the diagnosis.

At the press of a button, the auto injector fired inside my body and after a few seconds, my skin truly felt ON FIRE, as being stung by a bee. The excitement of that all being so new helped me feel like I got over what was the worst part. I felt pride for getting over my fear of needles and, heck! Realizing that I in fact did not have ANY needle phobia whatsoever. My panic was due to the negative emotions associated with having an injection.

And so, little by little, injection by injection, two years passed by. I religiously did each and every one of them, rotating seven areas across my body. Little did I know that with each one, my mind was pinning me down into anxiety. You would expect that after all that I said before and after getting used to the experience, my angst should have lessened, right? That’s what I thought too!

Fast forward to today. I did the 728th injection in my right arm. Special occasion, "special moments": as I pressed the button, the needle seemed to get stuck, but then resumed to injecting veeeeery slowly. It usually takes 10 seconds from start to finish and now it was like it was walking through a swamp. Either way, it was all ok. It all gets ok AFTER the injection. The anxiety comes BEFORE the whole deal.

Rationally, there’s nothing to fear: a 1.2 cm needle, thinner than a 0.5 mechanical pencil tip, no pain when the needle pierces the skin, only the afterwards bee-sting sensation, that usually lasts 5-10 minutes, depending on the day. But my mind has other ideas: it thinks that something devastating is going to happen to me, that I might get a terrible heart attack if I inject in a vein (note: there is a thing called IPIR, meaning you COULD get a heart-attack-feeling-sensation, lasting no more than 20-30 minutes, but nothing lethal!) and maaany, maaaany more things like that.

Unsolved anxiety does “cute” things like these to susceptible people. The brain is used to respond to an immediate threat, but in my case there is no such thing. There’s only the unpredictability of the illness itself and the feeling that I HAVE to live my life QUICKLY, before Multiple Sclerosis strikes again. All that internal turmoil topped with a daily injection that acts like a constant reminder, have me overflowing with anxiety and nervousness that have me living a rollercoaster life.

Effects of this “darling” situation? Hmmm, let me limit it to just three, the most relevant ones to my current lifestyle: emotional eating (trumps all the healthy choices I want to make on a daily basis), feeling overwhelmed by too many creative choices I want to pursue, although I love all my ideas dearly (one of them is SMart Choice Lifestyle itself, victim of my procrastination and emotional ups and downs - I’ve been neglecting it for 2-3 weeks now), losing self-confidence because I am too afraid of that tiny needle and for not ACTING upon all the plans I’ve strategized for the past three years since being diagnosed.

Being aware of all this gives way to a new start. No matter what life throws at me, I’ve been given a second chance that not many people get.

I promise my inner kid not to fail her again, for as long as I live! I’ll be present for her fears, loves and wants and not treat her with self-doubt, no matter how fearful she might get.

Copaxone or no Copaxone, I’ll heal this anxiety and resume living my life. The SMart Creative way… by the way ;) Keep you posted!

Until next time, have a wonderful day!

BEHIND THE BLOG (Wk5/2017) - Gary Vaynerchuk, Simon Sinek and Amy Schmittauer Inspiration Bundle & Thriving Beyond Hardship | SMart Choice Lifestyle

Hello everyone!

To say that this week was intense would be an understatement! From political and public opinion conflict through the beauty of Christian Greek-Orthodox services to the road to self-discovery, I didn’t get bored these past seven days, let me tell you!

One of the change paradigms in sociology talks about conflict as being the source of any real change at a social level. I’ll not get into details about the present situation in my country (Romania) right now, as I prefer to let that to more experienced writers.

What I want to talk to you about today is how people change in the face of hardship. Because for all of us, real transformation mostly happens after a traumatic event or a powerful fear of losing something or someone. For two years I’ve been looking into what makes a person change in times like these. What makes certain people cope and others fall defeated?

It’s all in the way you choose to look at a situation. It’s in the attitude you decide to have in the aftermath of things. Life simply happens. For the better, for the worse, things will change you, without asking for permission. Right then and there, it’s crucial to bounce back up, to rebuild yourself from the ground up.

This is what I felt I need to do for myself, this is what I’ve searched for as stories to make me stronger and give me courage. And I can tell you that beyond any shadow of a doubt, you can THRIVE BEYOND HARDSHIP. It is possible. When you think all is destroyed, here’s just one example outside of the MS community, about THRIVING beyond hardship:

But how do we do that, you might ask? Good question! That’s exactly what I plan to do on SMart Choice Lifestyle. Focusing on millennials diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis but not limited to them, my plan is to...

Gather stories of the young people who bounced right back from their difficult situations and share them with the rest of the world. #StorytellMS

Will you join me in this journey where I aim to learn how to best help young people facing this kind of situation? Will you join me to gather stories of daily courage facing hard times living with chronic illnesses? Will you join me, will you teach me your approach in getting passed the hard times in life? Will you?

I planned this week’s letter to be short and to the point. Things change, I change. Constantly improving myself. That’s why this blog might seem chaotic at times. Thank you for being here!

Here are this week’s FAVOURITES:

1. Gary Vaynerchuk’s DailyVee vlog no. 101
This is where my theory that behind every very expansive person lies a heart of gold is confirmed. You might not know who Gary is, you might not like his voice, you might not understand how his message fits in with a blog about mental health, multiple sclerosis and lifestyle. But let me tell you this: motivation to live your life is universal. If it comes from a neurologist, a coach or an entrepreneur, it states the same thing: go do your best and thrive doing what you’re good at. You only live once! Just watch it. It made me cry. It made me act.

“The biggest poison in us is regret!”
(Gary Vaynerchuk)

2. Evan Carmichael’s compilation on motivation via Simon Sinek
I really can’t stop about being captivated by his speeches. They make sense to me. They inspire me to create things for others, because together is better. A great storyteller as always, for the second time in a row on weekly favourites, here are 10 motivation lessons from Simon, via Evan Carmichael. Enjoy!

3. Evan Carmichael’s interview with Amy Schmittauer on #VlogLikeABoss and YouTube tips&tricks
Another Evan video? What can I do if he has great people on his channel? Also for the second time on a row on BEHIND THE BLOG’s FAVOURITES, Amy Schmittauer talks all about YouTube success, #VlogLikeABoss, her journey with vlogging and business, social media and more… all in 35 minutes! A must watch!

And that's it for this week's review and behind the scenes. Hope you find some use or inspiration from it.

BEHIND THE BLOG is a weekly letter from me to you. Its purpose is to offer a behind-the-scenes into the motivations, life events and learnings that make the building blocks for the SMart Choice Lifestyle. It’s about life through my eyes, the author of the blog. It is shared for you, so that it may help you in any way, shape or form. It also serves as a personal journal so that I can come back to what happened later in the year.

See you next week & have a wonderful weekend!

BEHIND THE BLOG (Wk4/2017) - Simon Sinek Inspiration, First Presentation in a Long Time and Finding Myself at Church | SMart Choice Lifestyle

Hello everybody,

I think I’m beginning to see a pattern in things that happen with me behind this blog. Remember that last week I told you that I didn’t feel so well, that I had a headache and an overall malaise? Well, as it turns out, it might have caused the left wrist pain that happened that evening and continued throughout the weekend. Thankfully it stopped on Sunday. But all this taught me some interesting lessons.

As I write this post on a Friday (27 Jan), each Saturday and Sunday need to fit somewhere. So the week I’ll be reviewing will be from last Saturday to this Friday ( 21-27 Jan). I know, weird. But that’s how my brain wants it right now. I’m thinking that on Mondays nobody wants to read stories, correct me if I’m wrong.

Let’s get BEHIND THE BLOG and see what the fourth week of 2017 brought!


Since we last talked, I had wrist pain, a family party celebrating my dad’s birthday and had a fabulous day at church on Sunday. If you’d told me a year ago that I’ll want to attend church and actually feel amazing while doing it, I would have laughed. Because at that time my mind was so fixed on personal salvation and self-help, I couldn’t understand the role all this Christianity stuff has on our lives. The mission we have to love people and how that will make us and them better in return.

But wait! What kind of Christian am I? Here's 10 facts about Greek-Orthodox Christianity:

Here's a behind the scenes of a Greek-Orthodox Church. Come and see!

But as you live, you learn, and 2016 has proven to be a turning point where I let go of Yoga and all the universal energies, kundalini ideas, etc and turned back to what is now my greatest love of all and my best friend: Jesus Christ. The other things did their job rationally, body-wise, but they are void, you’ll find nothing in them that you won’t find in Christ. It’s all a discovery process and I truly recommend it in today’s ever-disengaged world. It’s incredible what relaxation and mental ease can do to you! We each have our own methods to achieve that.


Overall, this week taught me to focus on helping people and not on self-image (being judged by others). As public opinion, people always have different ideas of you, so trying to please them ends up making you sick. Literally! I was so focused on making my best presentation ever, that I got over-agitated and under-delivered on my speech on Wednesday evening. But that’s life and it all comes with ups and downs. But all in all, there will be people who agree with you and others who won’t. And that’s perfectly fine.

“Do not be afraid, I am with you” (ISAIAH 43:5)

Be vulnerable, be human, it attracts people. Make them feel good about themselves, it matters. Coming full-circle before getting on to weekly FAVOURITES, God always takes care of things and angsts. In my experience that’s what always happens, no matter how down I am or how hopeless and scared I can get.


Hmm, what did I like this week? Let’s see:

1. Simon Sinek’s presentations on YouTube

We all resonate with certain types of people, usually with the ones we have or find things in common. Strangely enough, that's what caught my attention when discovering his work.

Coming from a Sociology background, I related to the theories that Simon talks about and being in search for my own WHY, I found his Golden Circle to be of maximum help. Not exaggerating one bit. As Steve Jobs said: "As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.", my why took some soul-searching, past-experiences reviews and almost two years. Not an easy job, but with good help, it's totally achievable.

Simon even has an online course that can help you find your Why faster (click HERE). But the aim is to INSPIRE, not necessarily sell. Because people are drawn to stories, not numbers. It all started with WHY, and now I want to know more about how to inspire trust and confidence. Because my WHY is to empower people to live life with more personal integrity and through that be the best version of themselves. Be the person they'd like to meet.

Here's a talk about why leaders should eat last and what makes us crave connection.

2. Amy Schmittauer’s VLAB and all around brand strategy.

Amy is one of my YouTube favourites. The creator and host of SavvySexySocial, she's been one for more than two years now. She motivated me to try vlogging for the first time ever in August 2016, and I must admit I kinnda miss doing videos, although it wasn't easy.

Her content is both insightful and fun and thus she helps you learn about vlogging and digital marketing without making you lose interest.

This lovely lady is launching her first book on in just four days and has been documenting the entire launch journey in daily vlogs, which you can see in the playlist below. Learn to #VlogLikeABoss and start watching this one, as she is working her way to the top, I can feel it! Click HERE for her "Vlog Like a Boss" website!

3. "After 20 years (1997-2017)" playlist that made me remember my 12 year old self:

And that's it for this week's review and behind the scenes. Hope you find some use or inspiration from it.

BEHIND THE BLOG is a weekly letter from me to you. Its purpose is to offer a behind-the-scenes into the motivations, life events and learnings that make the building blocks for the SMart Choice Lifestyle. It’s about life through my eyes, the author of the blog. It is shared for you, so that it may help you in any way, shape or form. It also serves as a personal journal so that I can come back to what happened later in the year.

See you next week & have a wonderful weekend!

Behind the Blog (Wk 3/2017) - Self-discovery, Planning and Foggy Mind | SMart Choice Lifestyle

Hello dears,

I’m writing to you from my couch, as I sit here all bundled up in my blanket and waiting on my tea to be ready. Although today is my dad’s birthday and my week has been both productive and insightful, for some reason my mind isn’t focusing right. I woke up with a right side migraine, mostly pain in my right eye area. That made me somewhat cranky for the whole morning. Did my injection and all seemed to be ok, until I realised that I had a hard time concentrating on the task at hand.

For the past four days, I have been energetic, planned all my week, made important progress in my goals for this year, but today something felt off. Then, as I sat to write this article, I realised that our thoughts are just that: thoughts! We can choose the way we feel and what we are able to do given our physical condition at some point. Once we admit to ourselves that it’s OK to have a bad day and go with the flow, it all becomes so easy to tolerate that I even question if there was something wrong to begin with. You see, it’s all a matter of perspective.

But let’s go BEHIND THE BLOG. Its purpose is to offer a behind-the-scenes into the motivations, life events and learnings that make the building blocks for the SMart Choice Lifestyle. It’s about life through my eyes, the author of the blog. It is shared for you, so that it may help you in any way, shape or form. So let’s see what the third week of 2017 brought.

The HIGHLIGHTS were all about self-discovery, planning and finding purpose. I’m the kind of person who finds joy in the world of ideas and finding ways in which to help people be the best version they can be, while sticking true to their authentic selves. It’s much easier for me to write this down than it would be to talk about it on video (funny fact, my mind is a bit foggy as I write this and I kindda lost my line of thought for a bit). In short,  I learned more about my personality, about what’s next in line project-wise and planned both my goals and calendar for the following months. That put my mind at ease, allowing me to focus on taking action.

The LESSONS that I learned had to do with finding the right combinations of time, effort and planning in all that I do (there’s a lot of “I” in this article, sorry!) and with accepting bad days as well as good ones just as much. All in all, this week taught me that if I’m productive 80% of the time, I can allow myself to be off focus for the rest 20%. That’s what I’m learning just now: my mind continues to be foggy, as my right calf and foot are slightly numb and cold. But it’s on and off. I learned not to be afraid of these things anymore, as usually the anxiety is worse than the thing itself.

So, with that being said, I’ll keep it really short for the FAVORITES part, and outline them as follows (random order):

1. The Myers-Briggs Personality Classification (I'm the INFJ type - click HERE)
(image source - www.personality-central.com)

2. “Discover Palace of Versailles” (wishlist item)

3. “Pride and Prejudice” (analyzed Mr. Darcy’s behavior in terms of pride and prejudice)

4. “Ben Hur” (book)

"Ben-Hur is one of the best selling books of all times. This poignant novel intertwines the life stories of a Jewish charioteer named Judah Ben-Hur and Jesus Christ. It explores the themes of betrayal and redemption. Ben-Hur's family is wrongly accused and convicted of treason during the time of Christ. Ben-Hur fights to clear his family's name and is ultimately inspired by the rise of Jesus Christ and his message. A powerful, compelling novel." (Amazon)

(or if you're the one who prefers the movie - although I TRULY recommend the book also)

Sorry for not being quite myself today, but at the end of the day, you have to accept that it is what it is and go with the flow. I'll adapt by pouring myself a hot cup of tea and watching "Becoming Jane" with Anne Hathaway (HERE's the link in case you're curious: )

See you next week & have a wonderful weekend!