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

Blink of an eye

Blink of an eye

   Years pass in a blink of an eye. Just yesterday, I was a 7 years old girl with long blond hair and inquisitive eyes. I was dreaming of things that were coming in my life, I was anxious and had many questions unanswered.

   Then I blinked and I was suddenly 14, just starting high school, eyes wide opened and heart pounding, scared and feeling so alone in a classroom with other 14 years olds that I did not know.

   Another second later, and I was walking on the immense hallways of the university, almost running, trying to find the amphitheater for my first hour ever as a student.

   I blinked again and I was 25 and getting married, with my beautiful, yellow dress (yes, yellow, white is not me, not me at all!) with my bouquet of roses and a rosy smile.

   One more time and I was in the hospital, holding my little bundle of joy for the first time, happy that he was finally here after our shared 9 months journey; I was staring at that sweet baby face and was so infinitely overjoyed, so overwhelmed with love and so mesmerized by that frail being who was clinging to me instinctively and searching my heartbeat for comfort.

   And, in between those moments, there was a lot of growing up I had to do, there were moments of joy and there were tears. There were many tears, like when my mother died and I felt so lost, so angry and furious … so mad at the world.

   And so many memories … the first time I felt the new life growing inside me, visiting the old town of Prague, the sound of the waves and salted seawater, the fresh air in the mountains, when we were walking down the mountain trail, the taste of apricots and the smell of the freshly baked bread.   All of that seems to be crowded in a blink of an eye. Yet all of that – and more, since it would be impossible to capture it all with words – happened during 40 years – a lifetime or a second in the great scheme of things. All of the above – and all that still remains untold – define who I am today. It is my journey of becoming that I decided to share with you in my blog posts.

This is not literature. This is life, as I understand it.

  Lots of sunshine to you all!

  Near 40 Dana

How not to lose your mind in a crazy day – 6 easy hacks

How not to lose your mind in a crazy day – 6 easy hacks

   Sometimes life is overwhelming: things happen fast, unexpectedly, and you lack time for all the things you have to do. And there are not enough hours in the day and not enough days in a week. It seems that no matter how much you try to adjust and accommodate everything happening in your life drains you of all energy and stamina. And my response to that is … binging usually. On food, on coffee, on chocolate … There is clear connection between comfort and food. And there is a clear connection between comfort and coffee. And I do not smoke anymore. Sometimes I wish I did though now I cannot stand the smell of cigarettes.

   But there are things you can do to lower stress and not lose your mind completely in a busy, crazy week:

  1. Buy yourself some flowers so as your desk looks pretty and colourful; maybe also allow yourself a treat – a good coffee, a piece of chocolate (just one, not the whole bar!);

  2. Give yourself a 5 minute break at least once a couple of hours or so and stretch, walk, go somewhere private and meditate, anything that gets you standing and away from your desk would work;

  3. Take your lunch break even you are really, really tempted to eat in front of your laptop with one hand on the keyboard and your eyes on the inbox; this especially generates more stress in your life; so just stop doing that – it will make a tremendous difference if you do;

  4. Walk at least 30 minutes a day – just walk and think happy thoughts; relieve the tensions; yesterday I stopped and watched a beautiful orange sunset;

  5. Start being mindful, read about it, document yourself; you will find that being mindful really works – you will realize that we are here on this Earth to experience, to live, to grow; it isn’t meant to be stressful;

  6. Daydream at least once a day – yes – daydream! Think about all the things you want to achieve in your life, picture yourself already there; it is a powerful motivator.

  Lots of sunshine to you all!

  Near 40 Dana

A million likes will never be enough

A million likes will never be enough …

   If you do not fully embrace the journey of life as it is.

   If you do not love each gloomy day, each tempest, each wind.

   If you do not fight each day for your dreams.

   If you do not have somebody to share them with.

   If you do not challenge yourself to be there even if it means publicly picking up the pieces.

   If you do not put your soul on a plate.

   If you are not honest and rough.

   A million likes will never be enough if you are not willing to share that hidden part of you, even if it hearts, even if the wound is not closed yet, even if you still do not know how to deal with it.

   A million likes will never be enough if you do not choose to put your art into the world, if you do not give it your 100%.

   A million likes will never be enough …   If you hide.

   If you lie.

   If you are not true to your convictions.

   If you choose to ignore.

  If you do no dig deep into your conscious and unconscious self to find answers for questions that are, after all, universal.

   A million likes will never be enough if you do not believe in yourself; if you do not find your own, unique voice and a million likes will not matter if you do not use that voice for what you believe is right.

   A million likes are just not enough.

  Lots of sunshine to you all!

  Near 40 Dana

The storyteller

The storyteller

   In a time when there were no TV’s and when computers did not exist, the most common entertainment was to be found in … words. The Storytellers. Those who brought tears and laughter, sadness and joy. Those who knew that words could make and break. Those who created magic. Those who understood our deepest fears and who explored our inner world of emotions.

   Nobody knows when the art of storytelling began. It is very likely that the origins of this irreplaceable and wonderful habit are very close to the moment language – as a form of human manifestation – was created. Storytelling happened publicly, in an opened space, usually the central market of a town or village – as it was the only place that could accommodate such a large audience. To this day, storytelling addresses the masses and it is accessible to them. Think about the all books and magazines that circulate freely and that are now readily available in all sorts of formats, from hard cover printed ones, to pdf and audio formats. Think about movies and plays. Better yet: think about YouTube, with its content creators from all corners of our Planet, each of them telling his or her own story to the world. Or bloggers. Yes, I am proud to say I am a storyteller. I hope to be a good one: each post I strive to get better in mastering the art of words.

   There is however a significant difference between the ancient storytellers and the modern ones and it resides in latter’s proximity to its audience, in that nearness to the human being that told the story. In ancient times, people gathered around the storyteller and then the magic began. Nowadays, the storyteller might be thousands of miles away. Still, somehow, magic happens.

   The stories are life. Life as it is, as we know it, with ordinary people and ordinary things. Life as it was – with princes, kings and queens, with battles for conquering distant lands, with animals the no longer exist and that, with passing of time, became mythical and began to embody our fears. With heroes that in the end save the day (and the world). They grew larger and stronger than they ever were. Life as it might be, life as an endless roundabout, which could stop at any moment. Life as transformation and life as possibility. Life as chance.

   This need for stories, for information, for things to believe in is not new. It has always existed within us. It defined us and it made us who we are today. This need for information made the medieval man seek troubadours in the market places, and what made the troubadours go from town to town in search of different stories. It is from this need of explaining things, of understanding them, of taming them somehow that we grow. I am a mother and I know how powerful a good story is. Kids know it as well: that is why, given the chance, they will ask for a story each night before bad time. Look at their eyes when you read them. Look at their expressions when they are older and they read stories by their own. It is priceless!

   The storytellers are not extinct and I hope and pray that they will never die. They know the fairies and monsters that lurk inside us. They still play the game. And we still need them to do their job.

   Lots of sunshine to you all!

Near 40 Dana

Holiday mood

Holiday mood

   Today I do not feel for any subject. There is nothing in particular I want to write about. Holiday mood! It’s summer. It’s a hot summer. 42 degree Celsius … It’s steaming hot. I am here, in front of my laptop, trying to figure out what to do with myself and my blog post this week. Damn, it’s hot!

   How is your summer? If it is summer in your part of the world. It seems so strange that in some countries it is actually winter! Can you imagine having Christmas in the summer, with boiling 4o degrees outside? Oh, my God! It is crazy!

   Holiday mood. I am not having any coherence today. None whatsoever.

   My mind is wandering. I cannot focus on any particular subject. It is the week before I turn 40. So I will not be almost 40 anymore. And it is hot outside. Boiling.

   Oh, well! This holiday mood in quite annoying!

   Happy summer everyone!

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

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

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