New beginnings

New beginnings

   New beginnings are always so invigorating. There is something magical in that moment you decide to start fresh. There is something magical in the way your mind works and puts together action plans and strategies for achieving and implementing changes. Overcoming blockages takes a lot out of you as well, but when that happens you feel a sense of achievement – yes, it feels as if you have already achieved your goal.

   When facing change, there is a subtle change in attitude and body posture as well – even if you are not aware of it. Some people stand tall and look quite proud and important – those people are the ones that love challenges and welcome change. They are optimists by nature, they look for the positive in any situation and they are aware that for every achievement you need to put in a good fight. Others look quite grey and tarnished – shoulders dropped and worried faces. They are the ones typically see the empty half of the glass. For them, change might come with a lot of turmoil. They fear it the most.

   The sad thing is though that we all tend to lose the taste for new beginnings, for changes and changing as we age. So how can you keep your mind opened and your enthusiasm alive?

   For a while, I have been feeling this resistance, this urge to stop changes before they even have the chance to show me if they are good or bad.

   What is it that makes people cherish the status quo? Why is it that we (most of us anyway and certainly most of us that are not 20 anymore) do not welcome changes?

   Is it because we are assimilating change with growing old? Is it because we see ourselves at this age as “done”, “accomplished” beings that do not need to change in the first place?

   Having an opened mind, having a growth mind-set, rediscovering the taste of learning and developing can abolish these fears for good.

   You just need to acknowledge that you are on a journey, called Life, a journey that is valuable and beautiful, and, yes, hard. You need to give yourself permission to change, even though you are 40 or 50 or even older because you need to realize that a change has the potential of making your journey better. It is true that it also has the potential to make it worse, but this is where you come in: you need to drive change in the direction that you desire so your life becomes better.

   It takes a lot to admit that you need to change. But, if Today is not working for you, it means that you need to put in the work for a better Tomorrow. In other words, you need to change. And if you need to do it, you might as well learn how to like it.

   So brave up and start today: at 40 or 50 or more it is not too late.

  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

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 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

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

Live for today

Live for today

   Almost 40 is a time to review and assess your take on life, your why’s and how’s. Almost 40 is the frontier to the rest of your life: now you are truly an accomplished adult – one that has gathered enough experience not to be scared of all the deadlines, meetings, bossy bosses, and life anymore. You have conquered many obstacles and you have been defeated sometimes. You have learned how to climb and you have learned how to fall. But have you learned the biggest lessons of them all? Have you learned how to LIVE?

   Sometimes, much more often than I would like, I find myself wondering where did time fly. It seems like now is Monday, and than, all of the sudden, it is Friday already.

   And, much more often the than I would like, my carefully planned week is going over board and I find myself addressing a completely different list of priorities than I originally scheduled. Just when I am convinced that I am going to have a quiet, more relaxed week, a super urgent – very important Something happens and my entire agenda needs to be rearranged accordingly. This is how I end up on Friday wondering what happened with my plans for the week and where did time fly. So have I really learned how to live? I sometimes doubt that, since all sorts of more or less significant events can overthrow my entire world. Is this happening to anybody else? Am I the only one?

You only live once, but, if you do it right, once is enough.” (Mae West)

How do we live “right”? What is “right”?

   It took me more than two decades to learn that “right” means gratitude and compassion: gratitude for all the good things we have in our lives and compassion for others and … for ourselves, for our own losses, miss happenings and mistakes. Doing it right means having the courage to live for today while building tomorrow. Live in present, always appreciate life and enjoying the journey! Make today beautiful and make it count. Don’t forget your dreams, your aspirations and desires. But do not sacrifice today in the process, as today only happens once. Be grateful for today and all the beautiful moments it brings. Be grateful for today and all the challenges it throws your way.

   Live for today by taking time to breath and enjoying whatever experience comes your way. Live for today by taking the time to do something that gives you joy. Move more. Take a walk on the busy streets of your town or in the park (if you are one of the fortunate people living close to nature – take a hike in the woods or on the beach). Listen to your favourite music and read a book, a blog, a magazine – in other words make your brain happy too).

   Enjoy the food you eat: do not punish your body with fad diets and diet pills that it does not need.

   Call a friend. Tell people in your life that they matter, that they make today beautiful and meaningful.

   Live for today. Love life. Just Love.

   Until next time, lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana