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

Outside my comfort zone?!

Outside my comfort zone?!

   I read about it so often. Everybody is talking about it. There are countless posts on blogs, on Instagram, Facebook; there are so many pages written on this topic, maybe even books. It seems that it has become one of the themes of this decade and I am sure it will still be visited by many more. Social media is abundant in such iterations.

   We are surrounded by inspirational quotes like: “First get out of your comfort zone then talk about your goals” – Siddhartha. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsh. “Great things never came from comfort zones – Roy T. Bennett. And the list could continue for many pages. “All progress takes place outside the comfort zone” – Michael John Bobak. “True self-discovery begins where your comfort zone ends” – Adam Braun.

   It is not my goal to create a collection of comfort zone quotes, so I will stop here and I will consider that I have enough to prove my point: it seems that our civilization has developed a true passion for speaking about the benefits of exiting your comfort zone. And, to be true, for some people leaving their comfort zone is scary, maybe even terrifying. Not all of us enjoy bungee jumping. Not all of us can climb Himalaya or jump from the highest cliff into the sea. Frankly speaking, not all of us can handle it physically and mentally. Which is why I do not adhere to this leaving the comfort zone movement. At least not entirely. Let me explain.

   I believe that all human beings need their own safe space, the space where we feel protected and secure. I am not necessarily referring to our homes, which by definition function like the dens for our animal friends – physical safe places that we come back to each day and feel safe and comforted. The comfort zone I am talking about is rather symbolic; it represents a mental construct that allows us to grow because we know that we can experiment and still have that safe place to return to whenever we need to. In other words: we need that comfort zone. Comfort zone is good. And I do not believe that leaving the comfort zone is the moment that life begins. Nor do I believe that you cannot create great things or pursue your goals from inside your comfort zone; self-discovery and progress start in your comfort zone in my view. It is there, in the comfort zone, that you have the peace to start analyzing your thoughts, your actions, your plans and hopes for the future. It is there, in that quiet, safe place that you initiate change. It is there where the decision process takes place. And then you leave it for a while seeking new experiences and knowing that your own, private escape room will be there upon your return.

   Therefore, what I do believe is that rather than leaving our comfort zone we need expand it. We need to incorporate in our comfort zone things that we thought we were never able to do. We need to be opened to experiment in order to grow. My comfort zone in 2017 looks nothing like my comfort 10 years ago. You see, I am here and now and my comfort place today contains things that 10 years ago would have scared me off for good. I write these words and I am able to push the “post” button because I worked with myself and I became comfortable with the idea to share my thoughts with the world. I made this reality part of my comfort zone. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I will publish a book….

   Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

The journey

The journey

   Life is a journey, not a destination. I do not remember who said that. I must have read it somewhere, as it remained so fresh in my mind. I loved it for it is so simple, and yet so true. I remember it hit me hard – what matters is the journey, the path you take, the ideas you follow, and the dreams you dream and then create, the principles that guide you and the light in your eyes. What matters is enjoying the trip and not racing towards the finish line. Because nobody knows what is beyond the finish line anyway.

   There are times you need to struggle, you need hustle, to push yourself beyond what you previously thought were your limitations. And there are times to stop, to enjoy the scenery and reflect.

   But even during the hustle times, you need to really enjoy it, as positive results cannot come from something you hate.

   What must not happen under any circumstances is for you to forget that today is part of your journey, even if it is bad, even if it hurts. Goals can change. People evolve and mature. Children grow up. The journey of life is so precious, so immensely precious! Nobody will give you back the years which you lost hating the present because it is not perfect, hating yourself for not being there where you thought you deserved. You need to be opened to the endless mysteries of your life journey and you need to trust that you will make the correct choices so as to achieve the things that you want to achieve.

   And if you fail, as sometimes we all do, well, the only thing definitive in life is Death (this one is not a quote; it is only the most important lesson that this almost 40, nearly 40 person, soon to be 40 something has learned during these almost 40 years). Failure is part of our journey, as much as success is. Failing does not make you a failure. Failing just makes you human. Only you can make yourself a failure. Only if you do that, you truly fail.

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

Rich beyond words

Rich beyond words

   Sometimes we forget how rich and blessed we are. And we rage in the spur of the moment about things that we wish for, about the time do not have, about life. Today I read an article that made my skin bump and gave me cold shivers. I will share with you the story – even if it is tragic.

   Two women were waiting to pay for their purchases in a big hypermarket. One of them was complaining about the fact that each evening she has to clean the house, has to put everything in order, has to cook and then that her children make a mess, that she needs to clean all over again and so on. She was frustrated and was complaining of being too tired for all of that. The one standing behind tapped her on the shoulder and told her that she does not know how lucky she was – because this second woman comes home each evening to a clean, quiet apartment, where nobody makes a mess. Not anymore. All of this was taken away from her by tragedy. And she remained alone.

   This got me thinking – how lucky and rich beyond words am I!

   Sure, maybe sometimes I am tired of tiding up, cleaning and putting things in place. Sure, it is hard to be me sometimes. I do have my moments of sadness or frustration. I do have dreams that did not come true. There were times in my life when I let the worse of me come out. I said and did things that I should not have. I was nervous and did not control my reactions. There were times in my life when I was wrong.

   But I am so rich! I am rich beyond words. I am rich beyond words because somewhere along the way I found love and later on I gave birth to our beautiful child – they both make a mess in our house, they can be loud and sometimes obnoxious (yes, both of them). But our house is filled with laughter, sometimes we are loud, sometimes we are quieter, but never silent. Our house is alive when we are all at home.   What a powerful thing it is to be grateful for your life! Miracles and teardrops of happiness! For as long as we are together, my boys (a.k.a. husband and son) and me, we can face the world and we are capable to do anything.

   Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

I may not be there. Yet.

I may not be there. Yet.

    Decision is a process of mind, which occurs each time you need to set a course in your life and set sail. Decision taken and action – consistent, coherent and yes, sometimes painfully hard. So often we drive our judgment to mimic learned patterns: we all do it! We have been trained – much the same way the monkeys in the circus learn how to play tricks. And after years and years in school, college, university we face the reality: we are not really equipped to decide anything. This is how we end up stressed out, burned out, put to the ground … And it takes years to reverse the process and learn how to really decide. That is if we even become conscious of all of this.

   Because the final decision must come from the heart, not from the mind! Sure, rationalizing is part of the process. Sure, analyzing is in order. But if we do not follow our heart – as it is the heart that seeks happiness, wellness and all that good vibes – than analyzing and rationalizing are not enough.

   Do we fail if we un-decide?

   Because from the perspective of my own up-bringing and education, un-deciding – or, in other words, changing your mind and changing course, is failure and a big fat NO NO.

    I am almost 40 now, and I just recently learned that it is OK to come back to a decision and say: It is not working, it was wrong for me, it is not worth it. Instead I will do this … The idea is to put something in place – the idea is not to annul, but to replace. To add value to your life.

    A while ago, I came across the concept of unschooling, which is an educational method that builds the entire process of education around the child and the child’s own developmental and learning needs. Unschooled kids learn through their day to day life experiences and this means playing, doing house chores, personal interests, travel, books, family, mentors and social interaction. The child himself/herself initiates the activities and leads the process. And by doing so, the adepts of unschooling say, the child will become better prepared to face life, it will have a baggage of knowledge which is practical, based on experiences and not based on memorized, unnecessary stuff. The gifts that God or Nature gave to that child will be amplified. He or she will be an artist, if art is what that child is gifted for or a scientist, if science is what he or she cares about. If a child becomes interested in science, than this is what he or she will choose. Once the path becomes clear, nothing will stop that child to undertake more formal, traditional education.

   Well, I am almost 40, I have two bachelor degrees and I decided to get unschooled. “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).  And there is no formal way to do that: you need to decide and un-decide. You have to live. You have to lose a certain amount of the learned behaviors and you need to be authentic. Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

How to build a lifestyle -Part II

How to build a lifestyle

Part II

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

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

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

   Look, this is mine:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

How to build a lifestyle-part I

How to build a lifestyle

Part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then, lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

My thoughts for you on Women’s Day

My thoughts for you on Women’s Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana