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

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

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

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

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

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

About the power of goals

About the power of goals

    Goals are very powerful weapons. They can make you or break you, if you let them. Goals need to be realistic – although if you do not push yourself a little, if you do not challenge yourself enough, your goals can be pretty useless. If something is easy to achieve, than it can hardly be qualified as an accomplishment, can it? Goals and challenges make you grow, drive you to move forward.

   But this life is crazy. Life as an almost 40, near 40 and I presume life as a 40 something individual is pretty crazy. Nothing is simple anymore. When I was in my 20s and even in my 30s, things seemed to come natural, effortlessly. Work, life, friends … everything was … cool. Now, two decades later, we are each on a different path, leading very similar and yet very different lives. Change has happened and not always in the right direction.

   Not all of us master the art of goal setting. Or not anymore … For some of us it has always been hard to set personal goals. For others, what happens in their late 30s and continues during their 40s is that they forget to set goals for themselves. They sometimes have been idealistic in their youth, they believed that they can move mountains, they did not and then they have stopped trying. Sometimes, having a family, kids, professions, jobs, busy lives in general, seems too overwhelming and we simply start delaying any goal setting in favor of chores, appointments, meetings and all that jazz.

   But goals are so essential for our growth and development! One day I realized that my life was a dull linear path of chores, appointments, meetings and all that jazz and I was so, so tired of all of that. Consequently, what I started to do – and I advise you to do the same – is that I set one goal for myself each week, one goal corresponding to each month and a couple of important, complex goals to achieve by the end of the year. Write those down in a note book, diary or even in your agenda. Having written goals helps you focus on them more. Then move forward towards achieving them.

   For example, my weekly goals are typically linked to my need to reconnect with myself, to take of myself and they usually generate a state of wellbeing. They are usually just little things that I do for myself – this week, for instance, I decided to start walking on foot more – thus increasing the level of my physical activity.

   As for the bigger goals, they relate to things that I want to achieve in this life, since it is the only one I have. This blog is one of my yearly goals. I usually treat them differently because I split my bigger goals into smaller actions and attach deadlines to those actions. This, I think, helps me to advance. I am not perfect; I still strive to get everything done for all the others (family and job wise) without neglecting my goals and myself. It is still hard at times – when I come home from work drained of all energy and exhausted. However, after having this system in place for while I can tell you that it works, even if the change is only psychological (so even if I walk more, my weight did not go down – and maybe it will never go down – but my state of mind has gone up).

   Tony Robins is seldom quoted on this one, and it is so, so very true: “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” Goal setting, if used correctly, is an instrument of change. Life is change. Your 40s will not be the same as you 30s or 20s. And it is OK.

Until next week, lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana