Notes to my Self

Notes to my Self

   Just the other day, while I stopped to catch my breath after a 40 minutes’ walk on the treadmill, it occurred to me that I was checking the mirror on the right wall beside me, constantly analyzing my gym outfit, checking the few (to be read not so few) kilograms that I need to get rid of, judging myself still for each and every one of them.

   Therefore, I made this note to my Self: Do not judge, you are not that 20 year old girl – with fresh eyes and slander body, you are not that almost 30 year old woman who prepares for her wedding and is desperately trying to lose a kilo or two so as to look her best on that day. You are an almost 40 years old woman who is also a mom that one day decided to go back to the gym and get her stamina and strength back. Now all she needs to decide is to feel good.

   Even if I drop a few (wishful thinking: not so few) kilos, I will still be me and not that 20 years old girl in the corner, who will have to undergo 2 decades of experiences and transformations before coming into her 40s. Before being like me.

   It reminded me of a phrase attributed to Oscar Wilde – but later proven to belong to somebody called Gilbert Pereira: “Be yourself; everybody else is already taken”. The guy is a genius! Yes, everybody else is already taken, and you do not need to be a double! Who needs doubles anyway? Well, I would need an extra pair of hands sometimes (I bet you do too!), but, other than that, I would not appreciate a double to share my child’s kisses, my bed, my life…

   But you know what is difficult? The real big deal is to know who you truly are! This is where all those fears and insecurities come from. This is what makes one look in the opposite corner of the gym, constantly checking the mirror on the right wall analyzing one’s gym outfit, checking the few (to be read not so few) kilograms that have piled up, judging oneself for each and every one of them.

   Knowing who you are and knowing who you want to be – and that is not the 20 years old girl in the corner there! Because I am almost 40 and I have scars to prove it. I have the scars, but also all the riches that 20 years of life that I lived more than she did have given me. When she was born, 20 years ago, I was the girl in another corner, in another gym and somebody else was looking in the mirror on another wall.

 Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

Outside my comfort zone?!

Outside my comfort zone?!

   I read about it so often. Everybody is talking about it. There are countless posts on blogs, on Instagram, Facebook; there are so many pages written on this topic, maybe even books. It seems that it has become one of the themes of this decade and I am sure it will still be visited by many more. Social media is abundant in such iterations.

   We are surrounded by inspirational quotes like: “First get out of your comfort zone then talk about your goals” – Siddhartha. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsh. “Great things never came from comfort zones – Roy T. Bennett. And the list could continue for many pages. “All progress takes place outside the comfort zone” – Michael John Bobak. “True self-discovery begins where your comfort zone ends” – Adam Braun.

   It is not my goal to create a collection of comfort zone quotes, so I will stop here and I will consider that I have enough to prove my point: it seems that our civilization has developed a true passion for speaking about the benefits of exiting your comfort zone. And, to be true, for some people leaving their comfort zone is scary, maybe even terrifying. Not all of us enjoy bungee jumping. Not all of us can climb Himalaya or jump from the highest cliff into the sea. Frankly speaking, not all of us can handle it physically and mentally. Which is why I do not adhere to this leaving the comfort zone movement. At least not entirely. Let me explain.

   I believe that all human beings need their own safe space, the space where we feel protected and secure. I am not necessarily referring to our homes, which by definition function like the dens for our animal friends – physical safe places that we come back to each day and feel safe and comforted. The comfort zone I am talking about is rather symbolic; it represents a mental construct that allows us to grow because we know that we can experiment and still have that safe place to return to whenever we need to. In other words: we need that comfort zone. Comfort zone is good. And I do not believe that leaving the comfort zone is the moment that life begins. Nor do I believe that you cannot create great things or pursue your goals from inside your comfort zone; self-discovery and progress start in your comfort zone in my view. It is there, in the comfort zone, that you have the peace to start analyzing your thoughts, your actions, your plans and hopes for the future. It is there, in that quiet, safe place that you initiate change. It is there where the decision process takes place. And then you leave it for a while seeking new experiences and knowing that your own, private escape room will be there upon your return.

   Therefore, what I do believe is that rather than leaving our comfort zone we need expand it. We need to incorporate in our comfort zone things that we thought we were never able to do. We need to be opened to experiment in order to grow. My comfort zone in 2017 looks nothing like my comfort 10 years ago. You see, I am here and now and my comfort place today contains things that 10 years ago would have scared me off for good. I write these words and I am able to push the “post” button because I worked with myself and I became comfortable with the idea to share my thoughts with the world. I made this reality part of my comfort zone. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I will publish a book….

   Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

The journey

The journey

   Life is a journey, not a destination. I do not remember who said that. I must have read it somewhere, as it remained so fresh in my mind. I loved it for it is so simple, and yet so true. I remember it hit me hard – what matters is the journey, the path you take, the ideas you follow, and the dreams you dream and then create, the principles that guide you and the light in your eyes. What matters is enjoying the trip and not racing towards the finish line. Because nobody knows what is beyond the finish line anyway.

   There are times you need to struggle, you need hustle, to push yourself beyond what you previously thought were your limitations. And there are times to stop, to enjoy the scenery and reflect.

   But even during the hustle times, you need to really enjoy it, as positive results cannot come from something you hate.

   What must not happen under any circumstances is for you to forget that today is part of your journey, even if it is bad, even if it hurts. Goals can change. People evolve and mature. Children grow up. The journey of life is so precious, so immensely precious! Nobody will give you back the years which you lost hating the present because it is not perfect, hating yourself for not being there where you thought you deserved. You need to be opened to the endless mysteries of your life journey and you need to trust that you will make the correct choices so as to achieve the things that you want to achieve.

   And if you fail, as sometimes we all do, well, the only thing definitive in life is Death (this one is not a quote; it is only the most important lesson that this almost 40, nearly 40 person, soon to be 40 something has learned during these almost 40 years). Failure is part of our journey, as much as success is. Failing does not make you a failure. Failing just makes you human. Only you can make yourself a failure. Only if you do that, you truly fail.

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

Rich beyond words

Rich beyond words

   Sometimes we forget how rich and blessed we are. And we rage in the spur of the moment about things that we wish for, about the time do not have, about life. Today I read an article that made my skin bump and gave me cold shivers. I will share with you the story – even if it is tragic.

   Two women were waiting to pay for their purchases in a big hypermarket. One of them was complaining about the fact that each evening she has to clean the house, has to put everything in order, has to cook and then that her children make a mess, that she needs to clean all over again and so on. She was frustrated and was complaining of being too tired for all of that. The one standing behind tapped her on the shoulder and told her that she does not know how lucky she was – because this second woman comes home each evening to a clean, quiet apartment, where nobody makes a mess. Not anymore. All of this was taken away from her by tragedy. And she remained alone.

   This got me thinking – how lucky and rich beyond words am I!

   Sure, maybe sometimes I am tired of tiding up, cleaning and putting things in place. Sure, it is hard to be me sometimes. I do have my moments of sadness or frustration. I do have dreams that did not come true. There were times in my life when I let the worse of me come out. I said and did things that I should not have. I was nervous and did not control my reactions. There were times in my life when I was wrong.

   But I am so rich! I am rich beyond words. I am rich beyond words because somewhere along the way I found love and later on I gave birth to our beautiful child – they both make a mess in our house, they can be loud and sometimes obnoxious (yes, both of them). But our house is filled with laughter, sometimes we are loud, sometimes we are quieter, but never silent. Our house is alive when we are all at home.   What a powerful thing it is to be grateful for your life! Miracles and teardrops of happiness! For as long as we are together, my boys (a.k.a. husband and son) and me, we can face the world and we are capable to do anything.

   Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

I may not be there. Yet.

I may not be there. Yet.

    Decision is a process of mind, which occurs each time you need to set a course in your life and set sail. Decision taken and action – consistent, coherent and yes, sometimes painfully hard. So often we drive our judgment to mimic learned patterns: we all do it! We have been trained – much the same way the monkeys in the circus learn how to play tricks. And after years and years in school, college, university we face the reality: we are not really equipped to decide anything. This is how we end up stressed out, burned out, put to the ground … And it takes years to reverse the process and learn how to really decide. That is if we even become conscious of all of this.

   Because the final decision must come from the heart, not from the mind! Sure, rationalizing is part of the process. Sure, analyzing is in order. But if we do not follow our heart – as it is the heart that seeks happiness, wellness and all that good vibes – than analyzing and rationalizing are not enough.

   Do we fail if we un-decide?

   Because from the perspective of my own up-bringing and education, un-deciding – or, in other words, changing your mind and changing course, is failure and a big fat NO NO.

    I am almost 40 now, and I just recently learned that it is OK to come back to a decision and say: It is not working, it was wrong for me, it is not worth it. Instead I will do this … The idea is to put something in place – the idea is not to annul, but to replace. To add value to your life.

    A while ago, I came across the concept of unschooling, which is an educational method that builds the entire process of education around the child and the child’s own developmental and learning needs. Unschooled kids learn through their day to day life experiences and this means playing, doing house chores, personal interests, travel, books, family, mentors and social interaction. The child himself/herself initiates the activities and leads the process. And by doing so, the adepts of unschooling say, the child will become better prepared to face life, it will have a baggage of knowledge which is practical, based on experiences and not based on memorized, unnecessary stuff. The gifts that God or Nature gave to that child will be amplified. He or she will be an artist, if art is what that child is gifted for or a scientist, if science is what he or she cares about. If a child becomes interested in science, than this is what he or she will choose. Once the path becomes clear, nothing will stop that child to undertake more formal, traditional education.

   Well, I am almost 40, I have two bachelor degrees and I decided to get unschooled. “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).  And there is no formal way to do that: you need to decide and un-decide. You have to live. You have to lose a certain amount of the learned behaviors and you need to be authentic. Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

This is how I choose to be

This is how I choose to be

A story of acceptance

   This is how I choose to be. I choose to be a free soul that has the right to decide what to like and not what to like, what to take with me and what to leave behind. I choose not to carry additional luggage. I choose to travel light. All the bad things, all the negativity, anger, hate, disgust need to stay in the past. I will take with me only things that matter: true love, compassion, dreams, experiences, hope.

   For the first time in my life, I choose to completely accept who I am – who I have become over the years and I am happy with it. Because I choose to be happy.

   I choose to travel through life with confidence. Confidence that I am able to cope with most things, confidence that I am able to do everything that I put my mind to. Confidence that I can grow and that I can shape my future with the aim of having a great experience out of life. Because we only have one life. I mean – all we know now is that we just have one life. We have to, at the very least, enjoy it. Loving it would be ideal.

   So … I choose to love it.

   I choose to live now, today; I choose to do more than staying alive.

   Acceptance is the key for freedom. And it means that you need to accept it all – the good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly, the questions, the answers – even the ones that you do not particularly like – everything that has ever affected you in some way, everything that you are.

   So, this is how I choose to be: I choose to be free.

   It comes after a couple of years of struggles and turmoil. It comes after a long period I just stayed alive but forgot how to live. And it feels good. In fact, it feels like a million bucks!

   Acceptance comes from your ability to forgive: forgive yourself for not being what others decided is the standard, forgive yourself for being different, for being … you. Instead choose – choose to be you, whatever that means. Do it deliberately and embrace the experience. It is the only way out of the black whole.

   So what if you are not perfect? So what if you do not match certain criteria that others have set in order to classify such volatile concepts: beauty, success, achievement…

   All of them depend on the point of view and the point of view cannot be objective. Because it is personal. Each and every one of us has his or her own criteria used in defining the above concepts. What is beautiful to me, is ugly to somebody else. My way of measuring success is different than the way you might describe it. It all depends on the definition!

   So, this is what I choose be: beautiful and successful according to my own standards.

   I come to trust myself and understand myself and rely on my own judgment, as I am whole, I am enough and I matter.

   I am almost 40 and I choose to be star of my own show.

   I choose to be ME.

   Until next week, I leave you with the lyrics of one of my favorite songs in the world, by Gloria Gaynor:

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck sometimes the aces, sometimes the deuces
It’s one life and there’s no return and no deposit
One life so it’s time to open up your closet
Life’s not worth a damn till you can shout out
I am what I am”

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

Hello world!

My first blog

   Rome was not built in a day. If you think about it, Rome was not built in a year either. In fact, Rome is still being build today.

   Change. Time. Patience. Perseverance. Struggle. Labor. Love. Life. This is what it takes to build something out of nothing.

   This is a manifesto: it is my promise to myself and to you that I will create a place for near 40, almost 40, 40 something people out there, for all of you who – just like me – are somewhere in the middle of life, not quite so young anymore, but not quite old either.

   This is a story – a story of becoming, of embracing change, a story of challenges, a story about new beginnings.

   This is not a fashion blog – you are not going to find here advice on how to gracefully dress in your 40s, what to wear and want no wear. Not into that, I am afraid. It would be easier though – there are so many resources out there! Might be that, accidentally, we will discuss a bit of fashion also. But it will be from a different angle, I promise.

   This is not a food blog – you are not going to find here hundreds of recipes organized by category, you will not going to find here what to eat or what not to eat. However, sometimes, you might find some useful food advice, maybe even some recipes too.

   This is not a blog about weight loss – since I am not an expert, quite the opposite, I am afraid. I have not discovered the secret of losing weight and staying fabulous and thin. I wish I did, though! But I will share with you things that help feeling better about yourself no matter the size of your body.

   This is a blog about LIFE. About being different and about making a difference. About being yourself. And loving it. It is about changing one’s mindset and so allowing yourself to grow. It is about inspiration and hope.

   Each week you will find me here, with a new story to share. So let’s begin.

How to wake up and start dreaming again

   Once I was so very young and I had the world at my fingertips. I was strong, I had so many years ahead of me, so many dreams, so many expectations. And than I woke up one day and I was almost 40. I almost stopped dreaming and became weak.

   A lot happened in between: I graduated, I married, I started working in a corporate environment, I became a professional, I got pregnant and gave birth to my beautiful, wonderful child, I worked hard, I pushed my limits, until one day I lost the ability to dream and the world was no longer at my fingertips. My inner universe was crushed – because for many years I had no time and no energy to dream my own dreams. My dreams came to be dependent on others.

   My dreams for myself became little: a raise (that did not come no matter how hard I worked, since corporations seem to be in a permanent cost freeze lately; a new job that almost happened a couple of times – but it did not in the end; a few (please read many!) kilos lost that translated into a few (again please read many!) kilos gained. And one day, being almost 40, near 40 but not quite 40 something yet, I realized I desperately needed to start dreaming again.

   Does it sound familiar?

   If it does, this post is for you!

   Starting to dream again is hard. After almost 2 decades of neglect, you are not used to it anymore. Listening to yourself is hard as well. And in order to start dreaming again, you need to start listening to yourself. Schedule a couple of minutes a day for one to one meetings with yourself. Dig deep into your soul and investigate what it really needs. Ask yourself what made you tick when you were younger, when did it all change for you and why. Keep yourself accountable for this attempt of finding your dreams again.

   It will take time. Don’t let yourself feel like you do not have time anymore! The key to successfully finish this exercise is to keep doing it. Each day. Even after you start dreaming again. Because dreams can change. You will change. You will grow. It is up to you if you choose to only grow older. Or if you decide to become larger than life.

   Someone very wise (and I cannot remember who) said that a goal is a dream with deadline. It is up to you if you transform your dreams into goals for yourself. Goals that depend only on you. Goals that represent who you are as a person. And than act. Dreams remain just dreams if they are not accompanied by actions.

   Until next week, I leave you with the thoughts of Roald Dahl: “Those who don’t believe in magic, will never find it”.

   Lots of sunshine to you all!

   Near 40 Dana