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

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