The story of the lost year

The story of the lost year

All good stories need to begin like this: once upon a time, far away from here, in a distant place, where the sun, moon and stars seemed so much closer than they look today, there was a man that had great concerns related to the passing of time.

He stood there, in his white little house, at his wooden table, with an old pencil in his hand and quietly wrote his thoughts on a white piece of paper. Day in and day out, the man scribbled away. Relentlessly, one word after another, sometimes fighting for each sentence, sometimes smiling or even crying, sometimes with haste and sometimes with patience. He was writing one day, re-writing the next. And then one year of his life was gone. And another, and another, and another … He wanted it to be perfect. He wanted it to be a masterpiece, the book of all books, the ultimate adventure, the “One”.

He never knew when his wife left. He never knew when his kids started their own families. He never knew where his cat has gone. All he knew was putting words on a white piece of paper. He called it his work. The ones that left called it obsession. You see, he never allowed anybody to see what he was working on. His wife tried about a hundred times, but then she gave up asking. His kids even managed to take peek once, but he got so mad and scared them away.

So finally, he found himself alone, one evening, his work finished but nobody there to share it with. He tried reaching out to his estranged wife, but she did not want any piece of his work any more. He tried calling his kids, but they had lives of their own, they had their own dreams and families to take care of. He tried calling some friends but, much to his surprise, his friends moved house and so a total stranger answered the phone. He asked around to see if his neighbours would be so kind to help. But no, they were not interested at all.

And so he stood there, in his white little house, at his wooden table, looking at a pile of written paper, trying to figure out what to do next. It all started with that first lost year and ended up with his lost life and a pile of paper that nobody wanted to read any more. It was – the man though – perfect, a masterpiece, the book of all books, the ultimate adventure, the “One”. Only he knew that. His times passed.

You see, sometimes you need to let things into the world even if they are not perfect, complete, below what you think qualifies as accomplished.

Otherwise, nobody will never know.

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

Magic

Magic

   Mystic clouds and rainbows, the sea with its vast and infinite universe of algae and fish, the golden burning sand under your feet. The mountains with their bold peaks, the rivers flowing endlessly, the green fields that smell like grass. Pops of color from delicate flowers. This is Magic.

   The sunrise with its stunning red, orange, yellow and pink. The eyes of your child filled with wonder and love – in its purest form. The touch of his little hand while he smiles at you, rosy cheeks and laughter. This is Magic.

   The rain on a sizzling August day. The snow that falls down on Christmas. The smell of the Christmas tree and the glitter of its decorations, waiting for you to come home. This is Magic.

   The fresh home-made bread on the table. The taste of summer in slice of watermelon. The first day of the summer holiday. The subtle texture of the marshmallows. A kiss. This is Magic.

   There is magic in the smallest of things. In the most insignificant gestures. There is magic in your eyes each time you love and hope and dream. There is Magic in words, if they are well written or well spoken, there is magic in wisdom as well as in jokes. Sometimes, even in tears there is Magic.

   So what is the reason for being so blind? How can we not see? How can we not accept this as true?

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” (Roald Dahl)

Love. Magic. Words. Life. Just open your eyes and your soul.

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

The Boundary

The Boundary

   I am officially 40 now. I crossed that invisible line this month, one bright summer day. It is the feared and yet implacable change that we all go through at some point. The boundary. Or is it?

   I read somewhere that we start to lose shape and slowly become invisible for people around us when we age. Come to think of it, it is not the age itself that scares me. It is society’s perception of people that are no longer in their 20’s and 30’s. It is that idea that has been planted in my head that when you are 40 decline has already started. It is that idea that suddenly you are not good enough anymore, that you do not matter anymore, that you should prepare to step aside. I am not necessarily having trouble accepting that I am growing old; it is not about that. It is about the way we are programmed by the collective mentality to view this process of ageing – not as a celebration of things that were and things to come, but rather as mourning of the lost youth and fear of the future years and eventually death. Sure, we are all going to die someday. All living things do. But do we necessarily need to start now? Because living in fear means dying a little each day. And being a bit rebellious as always, I refuse to do so. Am I not the same person as yesterday? Does this number – 40 – define me in any way? Does this number even mean anything in particular?

   I think not. You are what you decide to be. And right now I decided to be free of any preconception about age and ageing. I refuse to start lamenting about lost years and gained pounds! I refuse to let a number describe me and I refuse to let the others paint my painting! It is my life – I am the only one telling the story. I will decide when it is time to surrender and exit the stage. That time will come, but it is not now. I will not bow my head. I am proud of how far I have come. Life is journey, an initiation; life is growing and evolving until reaching our fullest potential. I am 40, yes. But I have a lot say. And I still have some growing to do. There are things to discover and learn. Because I am still learning. I think I will be always a student…

   So many of us surrender! So many of us decide they did enough. And they start living in the same way, day in, day out. They accept routine and decide it is just the way it is supposed to be. They stop learning. They have learned enough. They have too much to do and not enough hours in a day. I think that this makes them lose shape and slowly become invisible for people around. It is not growing old. It is not the number 40. It is losing that spark in the eye – the spark that makes the difference. It is losing the passion, the thrust, the absolute need to find out more, to get better, to achieve, to be more. For those people, 40 is The Boundary. It is the point of no return. 

   I think this is why I am Near 40 Dana (near not almost, because 40 in my name is The Boundary, not the age). I will always be Near 40. Because each day I am working hard to keep the spark alive.

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

Holiday mood

Holiday mood

   Today I do not feel for any subject. There is nothing in particular I want to write about. Holiday mood! It’s summer. It’s a hot summer. 42 degree Celsius … It’s steaming hot. I am here, in front of my laptop, trying to figure out what to do with myself and my blog post this week. Damn, it’s hot!

   How is your summer? If it is summer in your part of the world. It seems so strange that in some countries it is actually winter! Can you imagine having Christmas in the summer, with boiling 4o degrees outside? Oh, my God! It is crazy!

   Holiday mood. I am not having any coherence today. None whatsoever.

   My mind is wandering. I cannot focus on any particular subject. It is the week before I turn 40. So I will not be almost 40 anymore. And it is hot outside. Boiling.

   Oh, well! This holiday mood in quite annoying!

   Happy summer everyone!

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

The story of the three grey stones

The story of the three grey stones

   Once upon a time, there were three grey stones that laid stranded on the beach, surrounded by beautiful shells and gorgeous round white stones. Each day they have listened to the waves, while being kissed by the sun and blessed by the salty air. Quite the same as the white beauties that were all around them. Each day they have been witnessing kids playing with the beautiful shells and round, perfect white stones.

   They have been there for quite some time until one day something extraordinary happened. It was that kind of day that everybody hates when on holiday – it was all gloomy and nasty and cold. Nobody was out on the beach, no parents, no kids. Only the seagulls. And the deep blue sea. It was a stormy summer afternoon. The first grey stone was taken by a big, furious wave and it ended up on the bottom of the sea, never to be heard about again. By now, it must have become sand, scattered on the sea floor.

   Next day the sun decided to shine again and all returned to normal. The two remaining grey stones laid in the sun, quite close to each other, contemplating the horizon, with its beautiful sunrise colors. All of a sudden, one of the stones was taken by a child that was playing with his dog. And got thrown away, until it got stranded on a pile of waste. Later on that day, the pile got taken away to the recycling plant. Nobody knows what has happened with it after that, but we can assume that it got discarded somewhere since the stone is no plastic, metal or paper and cannot be melted to be reused.

   The remaining stone, stayed all alone on the beach, wondering what its fate will be, until one day was picked up by a woman, together with quite a lot of beautiful shells and gorgeous round white stones. The stone ended up in a glass jar, surrounded by shells and white stones. The jar was placed on the table, in that woman’s house, as a daily reminder of a seaside vacation that she will never forget. You see, that woman was able to see the beauty and uniqueness of that grey stone.

   In life sometimes what happens is attributable to chance – but then again there are many times when our chance is determined by what other people see in us. Even if we see ourselves as grey, ordinary stones. The only thing that we, the grey, ordinary stones, have to do is to believe in ourselves. Grey is beautiful – it is the new white!

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

Being present

Being present

   Staring at the white piece of paper in front of me for a while, I am really trying to find my words for this theme… Why being present is important? I found myself more than once being engaged in so many things and striving to do everything that was required, trying desperately to be the wife, the mother, the professional, all in one (like the toothpaste in those well-known commercials…). I lost myself so many times in all kinds of details – work-related, family-related, and household-related. And I forgot to be there for me. I forgot to be present in my life – if that makes sense to anybody. Days can pass by with no significant meaning, with no conclusion, and they somehow seem fake, not real, like a bad movie that you watch completely detached, with no emotion.

   You see, life is so complicated sometimes; things happen, people let you down. Important people. Your rock, part of you support system. How do you cope? How can you overcome the sadness? How can you get over it? Because being present in that situation really hurts! And when you hurt it is likely you will exaggerate, overreact and ultimately destroy – first your relationships and then yourself in the process. Does being present matter in those instances when you feel like you had enough? Does it count? What is being present after all? What does it mean? Does it mean forget the past and ignore the future? Does it mean all it counts is today, now? And if so, what if today is gloomy and unfriendly?

   Being present, living in the moment does not really mean that the past is erased and the future does not matter. Being present is – I think – allowing yourself to hurt when you need to, to cry when you need to, to laugh at things, to celebrate the past and plan the future. All of that done today, in the moment they are required. Being present means allowing yourself to feel, to be human. Being present is not being numb. Being present means being aware about and alert to all those things that life throws at you.

   Sure it is hard, sure you need to learn to let go and to forgive. Sure you need to learn to prioritize and you need to allow yourself to feel – happiness, sorrow, boredom sometimes, pressure, stress, anxiety, maybe panic. Sure, you need to accept that things happen and, as strange as it might sound, they do not happen to you, but they happen to create something in you. Yes. It is rather about how you react to those things that matters: it is about being there for the experience, embracing it, living it – no matter if you win or lose. The outcome must be growth, development, at the very least change. However, you need to accept that it does not necessarily lead you in the direction that you would like to go. And it is OK, it is part of life, it is part of the experience that you chose to be present in.

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

What if you do?

What if you do?

   What if you do?

   What if you decide one day to go against your fears and insecurities and start living life in a different way? What if you let go of the past, let go of all those learned behaviors that have been rooted in you by force during your childhood, during your school years, during your youth, during your early adult life? What if you start living intuitively, by taking each day as it comes? What if you slow down for a bit and take care of your dreams? What if you learn to enjoy simplicity and small things in life?

   Life is not Formula 1. Life is not meant to be a permanent chase. We do not need to be perpetually out of breath and forever running! What if we simply quit all of that?

   Would the world stop? Would our little universe crush? What would happen then? Would our obligations be different? Would life be much harder? Would our goals stand no chance? Would we fail?

   None of the above. If anything, our lives would be enriched by so many experiences – small or not so small, important or trivial, happy or sad. If anything, we would feel more and dream more. We would be at peace with ourselves and with the world. If anything, we would feel more alive and more prepared to handle any goal we might have, the expectations of others, the challenges that life presents.

   Living more intuitively, giving your mind and soul a chance to interact and help you choose what your deep self really needs is what is missing in many people’s life. Too many of us are acting like robots, day in, day out, doing things that we have been trained to do, exactly like we were showed to do them, in the exact, precise order.

   For achieving our , for being able to enjoy each day, each experience, each opportunity you just need to stop. Be quiet for a while and listen to yourself. Mind and soul. Because your soul will whisper to your mind what you truly need. It is in such moment of silence that you can really understand that you are here for the experiences and not for the bills, for your boss’s requests, for your job, for all the problems that need solution.

   You are here to enjoy the fresh air of an early morning, the first ray of sun, the waves, the mountains with their white snow tip, the city with its old brick walls, a flower, a kiss.

   You are here, but you are not meant to be here alone! You are here to love. To love each moment you see the smile on your child’s little face, to love your significant other’s sleepy face in the morning, when the alarm of the clock starts ringing. To love and to live though all the good and all bad with dignity and grace.

   Sure, life is not always pleasant and rosy! We all have bills to pay, bosses that make requests, jobs to do, ups and downs, we all live through happiness and pain, we all have dreams that die and dreams that fail. But choosing to live more intuitively makes all hardships more manageable and enhances the beauty and uniqueness of our happy times.

   I choose to have a certain routine in the mornings because it makes me feel good, it is what I need to get me through a very busy – and many times hectic – day. I choose to eat in a certain way because a little voice inside me tells me that it is the right way. For me.

   I choose to stop working for a while and give a hug to my boy because a little voice inside tells me that this is what I should do.

   This is in fact how I decided to write these lines: that little voice inside told me to let you know that whoever created us (whether it was God or not, I do not know) gave us this tremendous power to shape our own reality by choosing according to own inner music. We only need to listen.

   Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

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

“We are all broken … that’s how the light gets in.” (Hemingway)

We are all broken … that’s how the light gets in.” (Hemingway)

   Is anybody around here perfect? Am I perfect? No. By no means, I am not. Should I be? Well, this is another story, one that has been on my mind for many years. What is perfect, after all?

   Remember my last blog post? I said that rather than getting out of the comfort zone, we should aim to enlarge it, to expand it with each experience that we live, with each step that we take. Because seeing it like that makes me want to do more. In my eyes, the equations look like this: getting out = to leave; to expand = to include, to add, to grow. And ultimately what I want for myself is to grow.

   Much the same way, my idea about being perfect is not going to be – probably – the same idea that the majority of people share. But you see, to be perfect is not my goal. One definition of perfect (the first one that popped out in my Google search) is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be”, or, in other words, to have no flows. Nobody can have all qualities or characteristics… Who said the you need to be tall and blonde to be perfect? Or that you need an MBA? And having no flows whatsoever does not even seam human to me. Perfection, much as beauty, is “in the eye of the beholder” (Shakespeare).

   So, I‘d rather take Hemingway’s side on this one: each and every one of us is “broken”, none of us are perfect (and no standards apply). We are build broken, imperfect and incomplete – and the only thing that we need to do is to let the light get in. This is perfect enough for me.

   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