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

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

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

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