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

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

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

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

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