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 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

Being present

Being present

   Staring at the white piece of paper in front of me for a while, I am really trying to find my words for this theme… Why being present is important? I found myself more than once being engaged in so many things and striving to do everything that was required, trying desperately to be the wife, the mother, the professional, all in one (like the toothpaste in those well-known commercials…). I lost myself so many times in all kinds of details – work-related, family-related, and household-related. And I forgot to be there for me. I forgot to be present in my life – if that makes sense to anybody. Days can pass by with no significant meaning, with no conclusion, and they somehow seem fake, not real, like a bad movie that you watch completely detached, with no emotion.

   You see, life is so complicated sometimes; things happen, people let you down. Important people. Your rock, part of you support system. How do you cope? How can you overcome the sadness? How can you get over it? Because being present in that situation really hurts! And when you hurt it is likely you will exaggerate, overreact and ultimately destroy – first your relationships and then yourself in the process. Does being present matter in those instances when you feel like you had enough? Does it count? What is being present after all? What does it mean? Does it mean forget the past and ignore the future? Does it mean all it counts is today, now? And if so, what if today is gloomy and unfriendly?

   Being present, living in the moment does not really mean that the past is erased and the future does not matter. Being present is – I think – allowing yourself to hurt when you need to, to cry when you need to, to laugh at things, to celebrate the past and plan the future. All of that done today, in the moment they are required. Being present means allowing yourself to feel, to be human. Being present is not being numb. Being present means being aware about and alert to all those things that life throws at you.

   Sure it is hard, sure you need to learn to let go and to forgive. Sure you need to learn to prioritize and you need to allow yourself to feel – happiness, sorrow, boredom sometimes, pressure, stress, anxiety, maybe panic. Sure, you need to accept that things happen and, as strange as it might sound, they do not happen to you, but they happen to create something in you. Yes. It is rather about how you react to those things that matters: it is about being there for the experience, embracing it, living it – no matter if you win or lose. The outcome must be growth, development, at the very least change. However, you need to accept that it does not necessarily lead you in the direction that you would like to go. And it is OK, it is part of life, it is part of the experience that you chose to be present in.

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

“We are all broken … that’s how the light gets in.” (Hemingway)

We are all broken … that’s how the light gets in.” (Hemingway)

   Is anybody around here perfect? Am I perfect? No. By no means, I am not. Should I be? Well, this is another story, one that has been on my mind for many years. What is perfect, after all?

   Remember my last blog post? I said that rather than getting out of the comfort zone, we should aim to enlarge it, to expand it with each experience that we live, with each step that we take. Because seeing it like that makes me want to do more. In my eyes, the equations look like this: getting out = to leave; to expand = to include, to add, to grow. And ultimately what I want for myself is to grow.

   Much the same way, my idea about being perfect is not going to be – probably – the same idea that the majority of people share. But you see, to be perfect is not my goal. One definition of perfect (the first one that popped out in my Google search) is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be”, or, in other words, to have no flows. Nobody can have all qualities or characteristics… Who said the you need to be tall and blonde to be perfect? Or that you need an MBA? And having no flows whatsoever does not even seam human to me. Perfection, much as beauty, is “in the eye of the beholder” (Shakespeare).

   So, I‘d rather take Hemingway’s side on this one: each and every one of us is “broken”, none of us are perfect (and no standards apply). We are build broken, imperfect and incomplete – and the only thing that we need to do is to let the light get in. This is perfect enough for me.

   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

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

The 10 commandments of Love

The 10 commandments of Love

  1. You shall open your eyes and see the true beauty that lies within each and every creature for they are all perfect and unique.

  2. You shall never forget how love feels for it will teach you not to hate.

  3. You shall give and only at that moment you shall receive.

  4. You shall not lie.

  5. You shall not cheat.

  6. You shall learn to trust and to obey.

  7. You shall be kind and gentle, and yet you shall be strong, for those you love need you to be both.

  8. You shall forgive.

  9. You shall never forget.

  10. You shall let those you love be free – for love is not cage or a prison, but a whole universe ready to be explored.

   Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana