The true colors of the dinosaurs

The true colors of the dinosaurs

   Have you ever wondered what were the true colors of dinosaurs? Were they green like the forest? Were they greyish or turquoise? Were they brown or blue?

   Dinosaurs were truly a fascinating species, roaming the Earth, ruling the animal kingdom, powerful and yet vulnerable, since they became extinct approximately 66 million years ago. They were gone in a blink of an eye and still today, we do not know exactly how and why – all we have are hypothesis and suppositions. We know so many things about them, and yet nobody can tell for sure what were the true colors of the dinosaurs.

   We have reached the moon and we have wandered amongst stars. It was, as Neil Armstrong put it, “a giant leap for mankind”. Then managed to come back, we invented satellites and other technological marvels but still we are just a small step further in discovering the mysteries of the Universe.

   We have a cure for so many diseases, but the universe of the human body is still relatively unknown – as still we do not cure cancer or AIDS and other diseases. We do not master the art of our own genetics. Not to mention that we still cannot find a cure for broken hearts or shattered dreams, nor do we understand why we are so similar, yet so unique beings.

   In many respects, we are like our old friends, the dinosaurs. Nobody knows our true colors, sometimes not even ourselves. We are proud to claim that we know a lot about anatomy and about psychology – though none of those holds by itself the answer to the question. Do we know and value our true colors? Discovering them is a difficult, painfully beautiful process. And, just to be clear, I am not talking about the color of our skin, hair or eyes (although humans come in all different shapes and colors), but rather about the true colors of the soul (which are universal).

   All of us come into this world as perfect beings – not knowing much, fragile and strong at the same time. As we are born, we know no evil; we seek mother’s heartbeat and a little love. And then we start to grow into this world and we learn so many things: to smile, to play, to speak, to dream, to laugh, to joke, to read, to write, to shout, to scream, to lie, to manipulate, to hit … This is how we become imperfect and we lose our true colors.

   I think that finding them again, is the ultimate challenge of Life. I sometimes wonder how many of us really understand that in the greatest scheme of things it is more important who you are than what you have. How many of us value their true colors more than the color of their car?

    I fear that, like dinosaurs, we will become extinct as a species if we do not wake up and realize that kindness, compassion and love are meant to be the true colors of the human soul. If we do not cultivate that, if we do not make a conscious, collective effort to change the way humanity is going, than we will be the next dinosaurs for sure. And the saddest thing of all is that nobody will know what our true colors were.  Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

About writing. And a little more …

About writing. And a little more …

   It all starts with a white piece of paper and a pen. You learn how ink can play magic tricks and how words come to your fingertips. And you write. It is the beginning and it is also the end. It is the beginning of an exciting adventure of words dancing around a theme and it is the end of your own private self, as every time the pen touches that white piece of paper, a piece of you is shared with world.

   It all starts with an idea. A thought that is so frail that you could even ignore it and yet you choose not to. Because writing is not what you do to pass time or to have fun. It is who you are. It is you. And when you sit down with your thoughts, in front of a white piece of paper, holding a pen in your hand, you cannot help but write.

   It all starts with a certain urge to let it all out – that ocean of troubled waters in your soul, the unexplored wilderness of creativeness that makes you who you are.

   It is difficult to explain, but it all starts one day and from that on you cannot stop it. Even if you do for a while, the unwritten words will eat you alive until you come back to the white piece of paper and take the pen in your hand.

   I am not Tolstoy or Shakespeare. This is not about me bragging about my skills – if any. It is about confessing that this defines me as a human being. I am not Tolstoy or Shakespeare but I am a storyteller. I am addicted to “once upon a time”, book covers and the smell of freshly printed-paper as well. I am addicted to diving into my thoughts and extracting small pieces of personal truths, I am addicted to observing the world around and then painting it with words to the best of my ability.

   So what if I am not Tolstoy or Shakespeare? “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are”, said E. E. Cummings, and another famous writer (Henry Miller) said: “Writing is its own reward”. I am not Cummings or Miller either, I am blogger that began a wonderful journey a number of blogposts ago, and who decided that today is all about this gift or pouring her soul out.

   And, since 2018 has just begun, I take this opportunity to wish all of you an amazing, wonderful new year! I will be here, on this web page, next year as well, living my story and sharing it with you. Therefore, farewell 2017 and welcome 2018, a new year “Full of things that have never been.” (Rainer Maria Rilke).
Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

How to create a healthy relationship with yourself

How to create a healthy relationship with yourself

   Life. The day-to-day busy mom (who also happens to have a job) routine. Mornings that look like this: the alarm goes off, as if yelling at somebody, at 6 o’clock. Find the phone and snooze it at least once; get up and make the coffee, prepare breakfast for the kid; wake up everybody; eat; clean; wash; shower; dress; get out of the house and run – the kid needs to be in time or else … Rush to the subway station – there are so many others there, with the same already tired faces. Get to work. Grab a coffee. Begin. Than the day unfolds. Work – lots of projects all happening at the exact same time; people sending e-mails, always requesting, demanding, asking for stuff… conference calls, meetings. Stress. You take lunch break but somehow you end up talking about work as well. The day finally ends – you rush to the door, forgetting the keys or the access card on the desk. You go get them and than rush to the door once again. Get the kid. Go home. Do chores. Prepare dinner. Clean, wash, shower and finally, when the kid is asleep, when dishes are already washed and put in their place, when the kitchen is clean and the entire house is in good order … you do not know what to do with yourself. Because you see, doing the exact same thing day in and day out has left you exhausted. The connection that you had with yourself has been weakened if not lost entirely. You are 30, almost 40 or 40 something but you feel already so old. And lost – there is no link between who you really are and what you do, there is no real relationship between you (the physical body doing all that) and you (the soul that came on this Earth for reason). Being so many different things for so many different people made you lose … you from the equation.

   How can you establish connection with yourself once again? Where do you start? How can you win the war with your own abandonment? I have been there. I am still there sometimes. I still struggle but these days things got a lot easier and less painful. Therefore, I can safely say that it can be done. These are my “hacks”:

  1. Break the cycle – each morning decide on a “me” time during that particular day. And announce it to the world – meaning to the significant other and the kid: Today Mommy will need a good half of an hour/an hour/whatever for herself. And do it consistently. This is not a joke or a matter to be taken easy – this matters, you matter and so you deserve all the care and attention you can give to yourself, even if the available time is limited and you still have to do the Mom stuff and the professional woman stuff as well. You can fill that 30 hour/hour with activities that give you peace of mind (like meditation or yoga), with activities that give you a sense of self-care or pampering (like a massage or doing your nails) or with activities for the mind (like reading book or watching a documentary).

  2. Plan for your own well-being – schedule it, write it down in your planner/outlook or on paper if you have to, but mark it down somehow. Consider it an important task with a deadline attached. Change your way of thinking and invest some time and some resources in yourself. Even if the resources are scarce – you can use them wisely. Time and money invested in yourself are never lost. The return on investment is huge!

  3. Treat yourself with love – even when you fail your own expectations, do not punish yourself for your mistakes – even if they are foolish or childish, and strive to grow, not to be perfect. Change your self-related language and you will be able to change your life. Because you are important, you matter and you deserve to be acknowledged.

  Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

Blink of an eye

Blink of an eye

   Years pass in a blink of an eye. Just yesterday, I was a 7 years old girl with long blond hair and inquisitive eyes. I was dreaming of things that were coming in my life, I was anxious and had many questions unanswered.

   Then I blinked and I was suddenly 14, just starting high school, eyes wide opened and heart pounding, scared and feeling so alone in a classroom with other 14 years olds that I did not know.

   Another second later, and I was walking on the immense hallways of the university, almost running, trying to find the amphitheater for my first hour ever as a student.

   I blinked again and I was 25 and getting married, with my beautiful, yellow dress (yes, yellow, white is not me, not me at all!) with my bouquet of roses and a rosy smile.

   One more time and I was in the hospital, holding my little bundle of joy for the first time, happy that he was finally here after our shared 9 months journey; I was staring at that sweet baby face and was so infinitely overjoyed, so overwhelmed with love and so mesmerized by that frail being who was clinging to me instinctively and searching my heartbeat for comfort.

   And, in between those moments, there was a lot of growing up I had to do, there were moments of joy and there were tears. There were many tears, like when my mother died and I felt so lost, so angry and furious … so mad at the world.

   And so many memories … the first time I felt the new life growing inside me, visiting the old town of Prague, the sound of the waves and salted seawater, the fresh air in the mountains, when we were walking down the mountain trail, the taste of apricots and the smell of the freshly baked bread.   All of that seems to be crowded in a blink of an eye. Yet all of that – and more, since it would be impossible to capture it all with words – happened during 40 years – a lifetime or a second in the great scheme of things. All of the above – and all that still remains untold – define who I am today. It is my journey of becoming that I decided to share with you in my blog posts.

This is not literature. This is life, as I understand it.

  Lots of sunshine to you all!

  Near 40 Dana

Life of a child

Life of a child

   Childhood memories – times long gone, but never forgotten.

   It has been a while yet I still remember how it felt to see the world through the eyes of a child. And those were no ordinary times either, as I grew up in a communist country, oblivious to many of the indulgences that western world offered for other kids my age, not understanding my parents quest for freedom, as me, the child, I was feeling free and had no restrictions to my imagination. I was feeling ready to conquer the world. And sometimes even, I was feeling that I already own it!

   Yes, I still remember how small, seemingly insignificant things brought me so much joy!

   We, the children of the communist 80’s, did not have many toys, nor distractions; cartoons were presented once a week, TV set was more an object of furniture since in the few hours of daily broadcast there was only a constant tribute to the “brilliant” head of state and the “wonders” of the communist era. In addition, once a week as well, the State Radio presented a radio show for kids. And that was all.

   But we did have so many games to play, we were outside a lot, jumping the rope or chasing each other, playing hide and seek and so many other games that I could not name as they are just distant, nameless memories of good old fun. And when the weather was bad, a good book provided the much needed entertainment. But if it snowed, well, this was a different story! We built and army of snowmen and each apartment building had its own! We were fighting with snowballs until our chicks were red and our hands were solid frozen.

   We did not have so many options in the stores as candies and chocolate were luxury foods. Food in general was a luxury sometimes – our parents stood in lines for hours to buy eggs, bread, meat; things that you would think about as necessities were scarce. Despite that, I remember vividly the smell of each season: the spring smelled like strawberries, the summer of course brought the sweet smell of peaches and watermelon, the autumn was the time of apples and pears, and winter … well, winter smelled like Christmas.                                                                                  And, if we were lucky, Christmas smelled like oranges and bananas, or like Christmas tree and fresh wrapping paper, like cake and roast and like so many other things that made our mouths water. It was the only season that tasted like candy and sweets. I remember “stilling” the cherished bonbons from the Christmas tree, while admiring the beautiful glass globes that embellished it. They were kept religiously by my mother – God rest her soul – and I still have some of them at home, tucked in tissue paper and placed in their cardboard boxes. So beautiful, so fragile and yet so strong! Exactly like I remember her to be.

   I recall the frosty Christmas nights and me waiting for Santa – and He came each time, though sometimes He did come a little late, but He always brought with him the joy of something new to play with, something new to wear, some goodies to chew on.

   Childhood memories, mine. Times long gone, but never forgotten. This was the life a child in those times.

  Lots of sunshine to you all!

  Near 40 Dana

Love!

Love!

   Hello there! It has been a while. Today I decided to talk to you about the main reasons that fuel humanity in times of joy, times of sorrow and hardships. The reasons that stand behind each decision, each step, each attitude. Love and hate – the two emotions that fundamentally shape our world.

   Hate is powerful destruction weapon. For centuries, it has fueled wars and to this day it still does. Hate also kills ideas, happiness, and relations and ultimately it can end the world, as we know it. Everything that springs out of hate has as an ultimate result the devastation of the human soul. Hate operates dissociation: you place yourself opposite to the object of your hate; you are always better, more worthy, more important. You judge.

   Lucky for us, Love is a powerful tool too. And love functions on associations. You and what or who you love are on the same part of the barricade.

   I remember realizing how strong love is the day I found out I was pregnant with my son. I remember each day of that 9 months, while he was happily growing, he was kicking and moving a lot and I was so in love, I was so fascinated by the journey of that that little cell that slowly was developing to create a brand new human being. That little cell was using the force of my love. To this date, the little human being is seeking my love and using it to grow, to mature and to become what he needs to become.

   People do incredible things out of love: you never realize how much you are capable of until you are tested and you will see that nothing is too much, too hard, impossible when the engine is Love. When life happens and we face its challenges, it is only love that can push us out of the mess and move us forward. Things that spring out of love grow, flourish and stand the test of time.

   Both hate and love can make you move mountains – it is just that you move them in opposite directions. So do yourself the biggest favor: Love!

 Lots of sunshine to you all!

 Near 40 Dana

How not to lose your mind in a crazy day – 6 easy hacks

How not to lose your mind in a crazy day – 6 easy hacks

   Sometimes life is overwhelming: things happen fast, unexpectedly, and you lack time for all the things you have to do. And there are not enough hours in the day and not enough days in a week. It seems that no matter how much you try to adjust and accommodate everything happening in your life drains you of all energy and stamina. And my response to that is … binging usually. On food, on coffee, on chocolate … There is clear connection between comfort and food. And there is a clear connection between comfort and coffee. And I do not smoke anymore. Sometimes I wish I did though now I cannot stand the smell of cigarettes.

   But there are things you can do to lower stress and not lose your mind completely in a busy, crazy week:

  1. Buy yourself some flowers so as your desk looks pretty and colourful; maybe also allow yourself a treat – a good coffee, a piece of chocolate (just one, not the whole bar!);

  2. Give yourself a 5 minute break at least once a couple of hours or so and stretch, walk, go somewhere private and meditate, anything that gets you standing and away from your desk would work;

  3. Take your lunch break even you are really, really tempted to eat in front of your laptop with one hand on the keyboard and your eyes on the inbox; this especially generates more stress in your life; so just stop doing that – it will make a tremendous difference if you do;

  4. Walk at least 30 minutes a day – just walk and think happy thoughts; relieve the tensions; yesterday I stopped and watched a beautiful orange sunset;

  5. Start being mindful, read about it, document yourself; you will find that being mindful really works – you will realize that we are here on this Earth to experience, to live, to grow; it isn’t meant to be stressful;

  6. Daydream at least once a day – yes – daydream! Think about all the things you want to achieve in your life, picture yourself already there; it is a powerful motivator.

  Lots of sunshine to you all!

  Near 40 Dana

A million likes will never be enough

A million likes will never be enough …

   If you do not fully embrace the journey of life as it is.

   If you do not love each gloomy day, each tempest, each wind.

   If you do not fight each day for your dreams.

   If you do not have somebody to share them with.

   If you do not challenge yourself to be there even if it means publicly picking up the pieces.

   If you do not put your soul on a plate.

   If you are not honest and rough.

   A million likes will never be enough if you are not willing to share that hidden part of you, even if it hearts, even if the wound is not closed yet, even if you still do not know how to deal with it.

   A million likes will never be enough if you do not choose to put your art into the world, if you do not give it your 100%.

   A million likes will never be enough …   If you hide.

   If you lie.

   If you are not true to your convictions.

   If you choose to ignore.

  If you do no dig deep into your conscious and unconscious self to find answers for questions that are, after all, universal.

   A million likes will never be enough if you do not believe in yourself; if you do not find your own, unique voice and a million likes will not matter if you do not use that voice for what you believe is right.

   A million likes are just not enough.

  Lots of sunshine to you all!

  Near 40 Dana

The storyteller

The storyteller

   In a time when there were no TV’s and when computers did not exist, the most common entertainment was to be found in … words. The Storytellers. Those who brought tears and laughter, sadness and joy. Those who knew that words could make and break. Those who created magic. Those who understood our deepest fears and who explored our inner world of emotions.

   Nobody knows when the art of storytelling began. It is very likely that the origins of this irreplaceable and wonderful habit are very close to the moment language – as a form of human manifestation – was created. Storytelling happened publicly, in an opened space, usually the central market of a town or village – as it was the only place that could accommodate such a large audience. To this day, storytelling addresses the masses and it is accessible to them. Think about the all books and magazines that circulate freely and that are now readily available in all sorts of formats, from hard cover printed ones, to pdf and audio formats. Think about movies and plays. Better yet: think about YouTube, with its content creators from all corners of our Planet, each of them telling his or her own story to the world. Or bloggers. Yes, I am proud to say I am a storyteller. I hope to be a good one: each post I strive to get better in mastering the art of words.

   There is however a significant difference between the ancient storytellers and the modern ones and it resides in latter’s proximity to its audience, in that nearness to the human being that told the story. In ancient times, people gathered around the storyteller and then the magic began. Nowadays, the storyteller might be thousands of miles away. Still, somehow, magic happens.

   The stories are life. Life as it is, as we know it, with ordinary people and ordinary things. Life as it was – with princes, kings and queens, with battles for conquering distant lands, with animals the no longer exist and that, with passing of time, became mythical and began to embody our fears. With heroes that in the end save the day (and the world). They grew larger and stronger than they ever were. Life as it might be, life as an endless roundabout, which could stop at any moment. Life as transformation and life as possibility. Life as chance.

   This need for stories, for information, for things to believe in is not new. It has always existed within us. It defined us and it made us who we are today. This need for information made the medieval man seek troubadours in the market places, and what made the troubadours go from town to town in search of different stories. It is from this need of explaining things, of understanding them, of taming them somehow that we grow. I am a mother and I know how powerful a good story is. Kids know it as well: that is why, given the chance, they will ask for a story each night before bad time. Look at their eyes when you read them. Look at their expressions when they are older and they read stories by their own. It is priceless!

   The storytellers are not extinct and I hope and pray that they will never die. They know the fairies and monsters that lurk inside us. They still play the game. And we still need them to do their job.

   Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

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