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

The 10 commandments of Love

The 10 commandments of Love

  1. You shall open your eyes and see the true beauty that lies within each and every creature for they are all perfect and unique.

  2. You shall never forget how love feels for it will teach you not to hate.

  3. You shall give and only at that moment you shall receive.

  4. You shall not lie.

  5. You shall not cheat.

  6. You shall learn to trust and to obey.

  7. You shall be kind and gentle, and yet you shall be strong, for those you love need you to be both.

  8. You shall forgive.

  9. You shall never forget.

  10. You shall let those you love be free – for love is not cage or a prison, but a whole universe ready to be explored.

   Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

How to build a lifestyle -Part II

How to build a lifestyle

Part II

   Practical things come in handy, don’t they? Building your own, unique lifestyle, one that you enjoy and love living is – I think – a question of understanding the importance of mindfulness and conscious choices. Analyze your life as if you were a mere spectator; analyze your habits, your ways of expressing yourself, your reactions to day to day experiences. In order to build something different, you need first to understand the present as it is.

   Start to change from the inside by searching your true, deep self and pushing it out, letting it being expressed in your way of facing day’s challenges, the way you talk, the way you interact with people around you. Are you happy with the way things are? You most probably are not – at least not 100%. What can you change to make it better? Maybe you could be more calm? Learn to express your emotions without going over the top with anger or frustration? Can you be more compassionate toward others? Well, if there are some aspects that can be improved, make a plan to address the issues. The thing is: you need to – first of all – be aware of all those features that need to be adapted and changed and than you need to be opened to do the work in order to shift them in the right direction!

   Shape your environment – at the office and at home. You can keep on your desk in the office some small objects that help you get though the day – maybe some pictures, flowers, a cool pen and notebook … I know that some companies have pretty drastic policies regarding the office space, but I am sure that you can find a way make your desk look more appealing and fun.

   Look, this is mine:

   The same thing applies to your home – maybe you do not have the money or the time to redecorate each and every room in the house, but how about having some corners re-arranged so as to be visually stimulating and to make you feel good?

   Listen to music – the one you like, the one that inspires you, and the one that has message preferably (for my taste that is). Try to discover new artists that maybe have something to say. Listen to classical music – if you did not already. There is a real treasure out there, and there are so many free resources!

   Dress the way you like, choose your clothes to be as comfortable as they can be, to make you feel good about your body – if asymmetric dresses are not trendy anymore, I am happy to say I still fancy them and I do not care if fashion decided that I should like maxi floral stuff (which I do not like, not on me anyway, as I am rather short and not so skinny anymore…). Mix and match: buy clothes that work together with other items that you have in your wardrobe. Versatile is the word – and it is useful, believe me.

   If you are almost 40, for sure you can do with a bit of help. Some mascara maybe? Or a bit of concealer? Blush perhaps? Anybody can do it. There are so many resources nowadays! If you did not master the art of make-up, you can learn a bit right now, in front of your computer: you just google it. If you want to. If you do not want to, that is fine also.

   Realize you uniqueness and … take a chance: you are different so why not put that in the most favorable light? You do not have to follow the latest fashion; you do not have to be trendy; you can be … you. That is all. You are enough.

   Your lifestyle is your choice. The most important thing is realizing that you are the master of the show. You make the choices; you need to be aware and present each step of the way.

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

How to build a lifestyle-part I

How to build a lifestyle

Part I

   Living is not that easy … Years pass by and we grow older, but sometimes it takes ages to discover that we forgot the journey and we are just chasing something, day in, day out, something that we cannot define, nor attain. My frustration grew exponentially when I realized that it happened to me. It seemed like each day was beginning and then ending in the same way – with no joy, other than my family, and with no other goal than to tend to the obvious chores, to go to work, come home – do more chores, eat, sleep and all of that over again.

   It did not occur to me – for many, too many years – that life is a journey and not a destination. It did not occur to me that enjoying the present, loving the journey, is actually the goal! And when I finally woke up, I was already almost 40 and in need of redefining my way of leaving or else ….

   So: how to build a lifestyle that matches your core identity and that gives you the most fulfillment and joy? How to overcome the power of the habit? Because living each day like I was leaving was only due to the habits that I have created and then mentally nourished all those years.

   Well, first of all, do the obvious: do something that breaks the pattern of learned behaviors and that makes you feel alive. Like taking some tae bo classes or starting to attend lectures on your favorite topic of the moment. Alternatively, simply use YouTube as a source of inspiration and find free materials on whatever topic might interest you. Slowly, implement new habits that give you a sense of doing stuff for fun and because you want to, not because you need to. I know it sounds a bit strange: you will not be decluttering your already busy life, you will be starting things to do on top of the usual TO DO list! But trust me on that one: it works! You will find that it is possible to more and you will find that the mental freedom that you gain is priceless. Give up some of the old habits, if you can. This will feel like a victory! But the war is not won. Yet.

   Realize this: you are building a lifestyle that ultimately leads you to the life of your dreams. So start to plan: set goals, chase them and make them come true. Plan for “off times”, little islands of time for yourself, and design them in such a way that they feel like real rewards for the hard work you will still be doing day in and day out. Plan for the perfect vacation and – when things get tough – visualize yourself already there. I seldom imagine myself on the beach, listening to the waves and admiring a sunset painted in all the right colors!

   Make the right choices for you and for your body and soul. Meditate or do yoga if you can, eat right and think about nutrition rather than calories. Postpone desert until Saturday or Sunday – or any other day you might decide it is “your day off” in what regards food and so you are allowed to eat whatever you like. Drink lots of water, green tea (did you know that it is high in antioxidants that can improve the function of both your body and your brain?).

   Move in a way that makes you feel right – do not lift weights or run because it is trendy! If you love to swim, go swimming! If you just enjoy walking, than do not take bus all the way home: try to walk for at least 30 minutes a day.

   Stop and enjoy: a coffee, a beautiful flower, a painting, a dress, a car! Create the habit of giving yourself 5 minutes each time you find something you like and just enjoy it.

   Building the lifestyle you enjoy makes the journey that much loveable and precious! All that stands between you and loving it all is just a construct of your own mind – “I am too busy” or “I am too tired” or whatever excuse you use can be deleted as they are not you. You can overcome them. You just have to try, and try and try again until you do! Next week we are going to talk about more practical things.

Until then, lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

Inspiration. The Muse.

Inspiration. The Muse.

   Sometimes life … just happens and the events of the day take us by surprise. And we feel like we do not have the time to take a breath, because this 21st century is all about movement, mechanical devices and engineering, because everything has become too technical, too complex, and we, poor, helpless human beings, are trapped in this world – like flies in the webs of giant spiders. In the middle of this chaotic universe, when everything seems to plot against you, how can we discover something inspiring, something that makes the day easier and, yes, beautiful?

   Inspiration. Some call it Muse. Where and how to find her?

   It is so complicated and yet so very simple. It is hidden and yet it’s in plain sight. It is all around you and yet you seldom do not see it. One Muse is LIFE itself. It is the most important one. Enjoying a blooming tree, smelling the beautiful spring flowers, eating a sweet, perfumed fruit, looking at your beautiful, perfect child, the sunrise, the sunset, the mountains, the see or the ocean, people … Search the world around and search the world within you. This is how the Muse works. And it never fails.

   Life is tough sometimes, it is tough for all of us – we have talked about this in a past blog but it is beautiful, it is surprising, it is all that we have.

   Now and again, it is not easy to find time for listening to the Muse, but for sure, it is worth trying to find those moments of peace and give the Muse a chance to express herself. We all need something inspiring in our life, something that makes us tick, gives us purpose beyond our own existence as man/woman, wife/husband, mother/father, or whatever role we decide to play besides the ones already stated here. The Muse can help you find what you need. For you, it maybe painting, sculpting, playing basketball, having a garden full of flowers … For me, it is writing.

   For years and years, I forgot that writing made me happy, liberated me of all my fears, insecurities and doubts. Writing has healing powers; it gives me comfort and hope. It makes me go deep inside my soul and deep inside my own mind, analyzing feelings and thoughts as they occur. It gives me the power to focus on things that matter the most. I cannot function without writing – weather it is creative writing (like the posts published on this blog) or day to day to do’s, analysis and notes.

   I do have another Muse however. I was passionate about reading ever since I can remember. Books gave me so much! Through books, I had the chance to receive so many hours of pure joy, I have learned so many things, I have seen so many places that I was not able to visit – at least until now, so many experiences and so many dreams! Reading inspires. It inspires you to be better, to reach your full potential, to grow and develop as much as you can. From “The name of the rose” (Umberto Eco) to “Cat’s Cradle” (Kurt Vonnegut), from “Les Miserables” (Victor Hugo) to “Anna Karenina” (Lev Tolstoi), all of them and many more are masterpieces that open your eyes to new dimensions and aspects of the human spirit.

   In recent years, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and all that we call Social Media has gained much importance as source of inspiration. They also claim a piece of action as Muse. There are so many content creators, from all the domains – from lifestyle, to book reviews, from how to achieve a certain thing to travel blogs…. We change, we adapt to this new media. People create in order to become the source of inspiration for others.

   But, whatever your Muse, whatever drives you on this path called life, it is important to remember one thing: we are meant to leave something behind, something that adds value to people’s lives, we are meant to build, not to destroy.

   Until next time, lots of sunshine to you all!

Near40Dana

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

Live for today

Live for today

   Almost 40 is a time to review and assess your take on life, your why’s and how’s. Almost 40 is the frontier to the rest of your life: now you are truly an accomplished adult – one that has gathered enough experience not to be scared of all the deadlines, meetings, bossy bosses, and life anymore. You have conquered many obstacles and you have been defeated sometimes. You have learned how to climb and you have learned how to fall. But have you learned the biggest lessons of them all? Have you learned how to LIVE?

   Sometimes, much more often than I would like, I find myself wondering where did time fly. It seems like now is Monday, and than, all of the sudden, it is Friday already.

   And, much more often the than I would like, my carefully planned week is going over board and I find myself addressing a completely different list of priorities than I originally scheduled. Just when I am convinced that I am going to have a quiet, more relaxed week, a super urgent – very important Something happens and my entire agenda needs to be rearranged accordingly. This is how I end up on Friday wondering what happened with my plans for the week and where did time fly. So have I really learned how to live? I sometimes doubt that, since all sorts of more or less significant events can overthrow my entire world. Is this happening to anybody else? Am I the only one?

You only live once, but, if you do it right, once is enough.” (Mae West)

How do we live “right”? What is “right”?

   It took me more than two decades to learn that “right” means gratitude and compassion: gratitude for all the good things we have in our lives and compassion for others and … for ourselves, for our own losses, miss happenings and mistakes. Doing it right means having the courage to live for today while building tomorrow. Live in present, always appreciate life and enjoying the journey! Make today beautiful and make it count. Don’t forget your dreams, your aspirations and desires. But do not sacrifice today in the process, as today only happens once. Be grateful for today and all the beautiful moments it brings. Be grateful for today and all the challenges it throws your way.

   Live for today by taking time to breath and enjoying whatever experience comes your way. Live for today by taking the time to do something that gives you joy. Move more. Take a walk on the busy streets of your town or in the park (if you are one of the fortunate people living close to nature – take a hike in the woods or on the beach). Listen to your favourite music and read a book, a blog, a magazine – in other words make your brain happy too).

   Enjoy the food you eat: do not punish your body with fad diets and diet pills that it does not need.

   Call a friend. Tell people in your life that they matter, that they make today beautiful and meaningful.

   Live for today. Love life. Just Love.

   Until next time, lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

My thoughts for you on Women’s Day

My thoughts for you on Women’s Day

   Today is the 8 of March and in many parts of the world it is a day dedicated to women. Today we celebrate the International Women’s Day. It is our day. It is the day that we receive flowers and the men in our lives sometimes give us gifts. In some countries even, this day is also called Mother’s Day.

   In our hectic world, filled with violence and stupid wars, with endless political battles, with ideology clashes, today, it only feels right to do something positive for a change.

   Have you ever thought about what difference do you make in peoples lives? You are the first one to wake up in the house, you are the one preparing meals, you clean, you wash, you iron clothes, you go to work, you sometimes forget you are alive, because your working days never end at 5. You are the one that needs to do it all and you are the only one that can. Who can heal the pain of your child better than you can? Who can chase fever away and who wakes up in the middle of the night because the little one cries? Who suffers for them all: for all the times your significant other fails, for all the hard times life is hard on him, for all the tears your child cries? Who always feels their pains? Who always cares?

   Today is the day that we need to acknowledge our own value. Today we should all remember what powerful souls we have, how our hearts are brave and generous because they always give even when they are in pain. Today we need to remember that we MATTER.

   Each of us is a world of opportunities and promises and dreams, each of us is important and unique! We give love and we are LOVE! We give life and we are LIFE!

   Today should be a day for HOPE. Hope for a better future for us all. Hope that one day we will not need a Women’s day to celebrate all that we are!

   So, happy Woman’s Day to all of you!

Until next time, lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana