The Story of Time -January Essay
Time is a weird concept. It can be measured in seconds, minutes, moments, memories, breaths, feelings, laughter, words, songs and books. The best spent time, however, is that one we do not measure. We do not feel passing.
Time well spent is the one that turns into memories.
Remember that time when…I wish I could turn back the time… Time waits for no man…
But it does exist. As in nature’s course, there is time for different activities. There is a time for everything.
To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
It is important to recognize where we are in every moment while we are alive. And respect it. Perhaps for some is a time of growing or of planting, maybe sowing, for others is a time for dancing, laughing or perhaps breaking down. We must acknowledge that time and honour it.
We must not await time out.
Some of us have been waiting for something all our lives. For a sign, a certain day, a certain season, or even for a certain mood. For something exterior to validate and motivate our internal wishes and desires. Oh, how much time have we wasted waiting for the weekend. Or for money, love, inspiration, summer, a better life, a better exchange rate.
And how frustrated we’ve become with every second waiting and waiting and seeing nothing changes.
Nothing will change, however, with that mindset. Because time is our own commodity of our own making.
Pondering now on how January is almost at the ending and New Year’s Resolutions and wishful thinking started already to dull their light, and we find ourselves again at our old antics, again on the run, again restless, at war with ourselves. Or even worse, stuck, uninspired, unmoved, cold and lifeless. Feeling unworthy of goodness. Undeserving. Fake. Impostors. Not good enough. Simply not enough.
There is a reason for that. And it is simple. The time for resolutions, wishes upon a star, on the New Year’s fireworks, on a birthday cake, on a dandelion, on a shooting star (and so on) is over. All gone!
Some very wise men once said- The time is gone, the song is over. (check it out here). To paraphrase them I would say that the time is gone, the waiting is over!
That time is over.
It is done!
We’ve dreamt it. We’ve wished for it. We’ve longed for it. We’ve even prayed for it and manifested it. That is great, but enough.
Now it is the time to do it.
We should start with what we can. Changing that mind frame. Working on an idea, or a seed of an idea. With the first step- be it a word, a flower, a 5 minutes meditation, a 76-form Tai Chi routine, a sequence of Sun Salutation, 10 minutes walk, an apple, a healthy dinner, ironing 1 shirt, 6 cycles of deep breathing, calling 1 person, 10 min hike, writing 2 emails, texting back, throw away just 1 piece of junk, recycle 2 papers, plant a tree, say no to one plastic straw or even just by saying Hi to someone we’ve been meaning to get in touch with again.
Without pressure, without expectations, without analyzing (or over-analyzing- hey, I’m feeling your pain, my friend!), without beating yourself up, without guilt.
Start our first month of this blessed year with a word. Chosen wisely. And enwrap ourselves in it. Build around it, plant around it, dance around it. You get my point.
How can we make the most of this year by reporting all our actions around a word? By calling it a call to action. A hope. A dream. A wish…
Picking our theme for the year and then working towards that goal. With small steps, with big leaps of faith, with both.
As long as at the end of the year we will have something to “quantify” and measure our growth, we’re on the right path.
Food for thought and soul:
- Do you feel restless (go to the thesaurus and pick any of the following: antsy, agitated, anxious, fidgety, UNPEACEFUL) or perhaps, au contraire… you are just stuck, uninspired, humdrum, indifferent, desolate, dulled, LIFELESS? Do you want to change that? Then pick your dream word. It can be a word, a phrase, a saying, a chapter, an entire book series if you want. Write it down. (disregard this step if it is an entire fantasy trilogy concerning hobbits or a seven book series with muggles in it)
- Do you want more, something else, something different, anything at all? Even if it means to shake yourself a bit. (*the correct answer is YES!) Can you link it somehow to your dream word?
- Thinking about what you want to achieve (you know what it is), what would be the first step?
- Why aren’t you doing it? (*list your fears, worst-case-scenarios, insufficiencies, motivations or lack of them)
- What would it take to convince you to do it? (*insert any type of bribe here- I suggest you think big! I mean, you’re only trying to convince yourself. So you have to be smart and creative and use all the arsenal you have. You know yourselves so it will be easy. I know bribing only goes this far, it is sometimes frowned upon, even considered the bane of our own existence, but- hey, I said no guilt, haven’t I?)
- Deep, for at least 6 cycles. Repeat if necessary.
- Ignoring, or in spite of step # 3, take step #2+ step #4 and START.
- Keep going. Until you’re done. Or moved. Or calmer. Or happier. Then, on to the next step. It may (or may not) get easier with every step.
- Optional -tell your friends about it. You can start with me. After-all we’re a part of a small tribe, right? We’re building here a small village fit for a tribe of awesomeness.
Sending my love out there to you, darlings.
Until next time, let’s keep in touch!
Post Scriptum: For those counting words, I confirm my essay has now 1000 words as WordPress knows to count.
The Story of Building Bridges – February Essay
Everyone at some point in their lives feels disconnected. Isolated and even lonely without trying. And this solitude – not the creative one, or the one from which we build something, but the debilitating one, has only one known cure.
Answer: Building bridges. If sometimes burning bridges to hurtful connections and bad places could be the answer, other times, building them is the only answer.
There’s a current movement now about finding your tribe and running with it, and I am very fond of the idea. A fit tribe will allow you to grow, heal, create and will accept your need for solitude when necessary, without even trying to understand it. Because we do not need to understand the other in order to accept him/her. Because of love. That pure and genuine love, in all its splendour.
Love one another. So simple, yet so confusing, so hard, so badly understood.
Love one another.
But hear me out. This concept of love that generates acceptance and opens the heart towards the goodness in others is what this world is built upon. Free and unaltered love.
Once we open up and start building bridges to connect with our tribe, we’ll feel our hearts starting to fill with love.
Finding our people should not be hard, and yet, most of the times it is a daunting task. A real challenge. However, once we’re opening up we’ll be attracting people with the right kind of vibe and sooner or later we’ll be finding our tribe. That I can promise you, and I do not make promises lightly.
But why this need for connection? People are not made to be alone. Okay, not all of us are made for big groups of people, socializing can be harder than self-imposed solitude. But a well-tailored group, of people with the same vibe, can bring a plus in our lives, a bigger plus than the solitude could ever bring.
In this -let’s call it – tribe, each person has something to offer, something so unique there is none other in the whole world able to even come close, something that would do an amazing job filling out some empty holes in our lives. Each member of the tribe has some lessons to teach, some ideas to spread and a beautiful story to tell. We can learn from every person in our life, that is true… Some are there to teach us hard lessons, heartbreak, sorrow and pain. And then there are those, those precious people ready to teach us about compassion, genuineness, love, growth, faith, surviving, hope, magic, truth, acceptance and little, but important things.
These people will open our eyes to see beyond the veil of the mundane world. With them, we will understand what this world is meant for, what our own paths are and our reasons for living are.
It can start with small things, like a conversation in the attic, tucked away in the Grund of Luxembourg, watching snow covering the houses and churches around us. It can start with a text sent with something inspirational following up an old conversation. It can start in tears and end in laughter, or the other way around. But at the end of it, when we’re all alone with our thoughts, we feel we grew a little. We feel a tiny speck of faith and hope born deep in our souls. A tiny seed growing in our minds.
And after a while, we’ll feel the need to follow that tiny speck of change or to crush it back into non-existence. Resist the urge to silence your conscience! That is a life lesson I have learned the hard way. Our conscience is so in touch with the wonders of this world so in tune with the vibration of energy surrounding us, part of the universal and one true truth, that we should never gag it. Instead, we should listen closely and follow it.
It will eventually lead to the need for meaningful connections. For people with whom we can talk without feeling judged, with whom we can share without feeling unheard. For people who will share their story dead on, without fear, guilt or worry, as they have been there, and, more important, they have passed it.
And then we’ll feel the urge to be better. To do better. To grow and to be happy with our lives.
Last month I wrote about Time. Finding the time, managing it and growing. And I mentioned choosing a word for 2019 and building around it. Have you done that? You so should!
My word for this year is Rebirth. There are many of us out there with the same need. Desire. Intention. And that without even knowing one another. What is even more fascinating is talking to your friends and finding out they somehow chose the same word as you.
Here’s the food for thought for this month.
- Allow yourself time to listen to your conscience. Listen hard. Listen without blocking your thoughts. Listen without judging your thoughts.
- Open yourself up. Let the light in. Let the good vibes in and breathe deeply. Allow yourself to have good thoughts and good vibes.
- Look around. See if there are people out there doing the same. Opening themselves. You’ll see them, you’ll know them.
- Reach out. I know it is hard. I know it may lead to another hard lesson. I know it may lead to heartbreak and sorrow. Do it anyway.
- Bask in that newly found connection. Test it. Talk about it. See how deep it can go.
- Repeat step 4 and 5 until you have a whole tribe vibing the same way.
- Bring the people together for tea and discussions. Something sweet will work wonders.
- Find discussions, activities, things you can do together and draw up a plan. Not detailed, leave room for that conscience to take the lead.
- Enjoy the results coming out of it.
I confirm this post has 1000 word, as WordPress knows how to count, of my own making.
The Story of Travelling – March Essay
Well, you see, when you ask someone what would they do if they had money, most people would say, without even thinking- Travel.
We, as humans are born with such a desire to know, to see, to explore, that had us climb mountains, cross seas and oceans, dive deep and fly high in search of something to soothe our souls. In this search of ours to know, we have encountered billions of stories and seen millions of people living their lives and sometimes, we had even imagined ourselves to be a part of that local universe.
We travel to belong. To find our place in this (still) undiscovered world, and think of the different lives we would have lived if we were just been born someplace else. People from the valleys imagine living on top of the mountains. People from the mountains daydream of the sea and people from the tiny and remote villages wish to be in a bustling and vibrant metropolis.
It is perhaps that we are born on this planet, but we don’t quite belong here? Have you ever wondered why are you here? Well, that is a really good question.
Setting aside the travelling to say we’ve been there and saw that and taking pictures to prove it to our friends, there is the other kind of travelling, when we just go in search of ourselves.
And when during those quiet moments on a plane, train, car, boat, whatever means of transportation is available, including one’s own feet, you space out and imagine you are not a traveller, but a local.
Travelling means being part of the everyday lives of other people. We catch a glimpse on how other people live, how their lives are, what their normal looks like. And we marvel at it while sitting in a local pub and eat hot sweet potato chilly soup with warm bread and butter and sip a glass of white wine, listening to the locals’ chatter and their laughter. And our lives get richer, our imagination awakens and we find ourselves believing for a moment we are also one of them. That is the magic of travel. That fleeting moment of belonging.
We lose ourselves in forests, foreign alleys, take the less beaten path and see the new world with wonder eyes. We see new faces, new customs, we taste new dishes, new wines, we hear different languages and even different realities than ours, and we marvel some more. How is it that people are so different?
And then, you find yourself in a book shop reaching for the same dear-old-book as a stranger, and you both smile. Or you take the wrong coffee cup at the local brewery and after taking the first sip, you realize it is the same as you have ordered. Perhaps sweeter than you would have liked, but it is the same, universal latte. And you and the real owner, both smile, like before, sharing something. Or when the friendly dog of a local comes to you with the ball, pleading eyes and wiggling tail to invite you to play with him. And you throw the dirty ball a couple of times, while the owner of the dog watches you amused and bursts into laughter when the dog – at some point – seems confused. Or that moment when you are so caught up in your writing that you do not hear the stranger asking to share your table, but he sits down anyway, while you scribble furiously an idea that just came to you in your rugged notebook. And when you finally get out of your head you see the stranger next to you drawing with a passion in his own tiny notebook filled with colours and stains, always on the rush, always with a fear of not being able to capture the entire feeling. And you smile. Or when you go to a church to clear your head and rest your tired body, and the person greeting you says they’re having an organ concert that evening, would you be staying? It seems that there is an emeritus organ teacher playing, such an amazing feat for that small village of theirs. And you start nodding so furiously that they smile. And you listen to the wordless emotions, the grave and vibrant tones of the instrument, and you get transposed into another realm, without borders, without another language than the universal one of emotion. And at the end of it, you turn to leave and you see an old man coming down from the choir helped by a younger boy, and you get introduced to the emeritus professor, who moved out there from the big city after his retirement, bought an organ, repaired it and now is teaching the village children music, including his own nephew. And you know you still have tears in your eyes, and the old man puts his thin and parchment white fingers on your forearm and thanks you. And you think to yourself- shouldn’t be the other way around? Or when you find yourself giving directions to others, because they took you for a local, and you just happen to know the way as you just came from that place. And they thank you, smiling and pocketing their maps, and follow your instructions. Or when you are staying in line to get some ice cream and one local comes to ask the ice cream lady if they have brought some pear and rosemary or mulberry and thyme to take home, and you end up thanking him for the recommendation afterwards.
These are just tiny bits of things that may happen when one travels. Near or far.
Travelling does not need to be thousands of miles away, on the other side of the globe, in order to be called travel. The simple idea of removing yourself from the usual known and extremely beaten path is travel.
And then you may find tiny stories like the ones above.
The Story of Inspiration – April Essay
It only takes a moment. Or a lifetime. To get inspired is what we all crave and to find meaning is what we’re all struggling with. Inspiration hits when we least expect it and it may hit hard without consideration. It may come when cleaning the house and we find ourselves in a pile of clothes searching for NASA pictures to print for the new office. Or when driving far away on an orange code for storms and we end up in a coffee shop surrounded by drenched strangers sharing a cinnamon bottle. Or when we’re reading. Oh, I love that one. Reading is the best way to get inspired. We just witnessed someone else’s inspiration. And then there are times when one has to write 1000 words essays, and gets to 122 and is just stuck. Uninspired.
The advice I have received and follow (or try to) is that inspiration comes when we’re actually doing the work. Then inspiration will come. One way or the other. The magical thing is that we cannot plan it, change it, store it or manoeuvre it as we wish.
People are a constant source of inspiration. People-watching is a well-known activity for creatives. We just spend hours watching people, on the streets, in coffee-houses, buses, in museums, wherever and whenever possible. Not in a creepy way, but in a way that will inspire Art. People equal Art. The purest form of art is humankind. One would argue that nature is, but hear me out. Humanity in itself is magical. We live and breathe and create and destroy, love and struggle with the same passion. And this passion is the fuel for inspiration.
There is something extraordinary in the way people live their lives, and there are stories everywhere we look. As long as we keep our eyes open and soul open, it is impossible not to get inspired.
But, hey, let’s assume we’re stuck, uninspired and we know not where to look. What do we do when we’re in the middle of a project and there’s nowhere to go anymore? I have listened to Neil Gaiman’s inspiring words on writer’s block. And he talks about two steps. One is to take a breather. And the second one is to retrace our steps and, by doing that, we will find where the story went off course.
Long walks help. This is my go-to breather. Regardless of where my steps may take me, different city, different country, a park, a library, a bookstore, a church, a forest, a coffee house, the simple act of getting out of my head is, most of the times, enough to get me back to the writing table. Not necessarily cured, but willing to try again. And to tell the story.
The weeks I spend most inside are the weeks where I feel most uninspired. Stuck. Truly empty. And so I grab my coat, my shoes, and my bag and get out. Some days I have to force myself to get out. Some days it works, some others it doesn’t. Some days are harder than others. And we all know them. The days when we’re too drained to even move from the bed, desk, sofa. The days when the gloom is clouding all our thoughts and slithering deep in our bones, leaving us fatigued, breathless, and weary. I do not use lightly the word “depressed”, as it is too close to home, but we all know this kind of days. When we’re unable to move. And then sleep helps. A long shower helps. A decent cup of green tea helps. A good old book helps. A conversation with a friend helps. Journaling helps. Music helps. Gardening helps. Ironing, dusting, cleaning the house, rearranging the shelves, the sock drawer, repotting some plants, lighting a candle. It all helps. Action beats inaction at any time. Action is the only answer. Even, or perhaps, especially when it is so damn hard.
Another place I find myself wandering when things get tough is a museum. I can go alone, not talk to anyone, marvel at the art, get inspired, drink a good cup of coffee, buy some flowers and some fresh bread and some fruits for home afterwards. They’re usually not crowded (do not think at the Mona Lisa room now), extremely airy and with great lighting, very well curated and truly truly inspiring. Best part of it, we can take your time with ourselves. With art and with our thoughts. All in one room. Boom, inspiration comes!
One of my dreams is to write a road-trip book. Adventures, friendship, love, heartbreak, discoveries, coffee shops, and the long road in front of you. Have been gathering material for some time now, took some epic road-trips in the past and day-dreaming about a longer one across America, from one National Park to another, with a bunch of good old friends, just wandering the world and seeing the majestic beauties of the giant sequoias, the Joshua trees, the Grand Canyon, Glacier Bay, Yosemite, Zion… even the names sound fabulous. There’s so much beauty in this world and there’s so much to explore, and to see to get inspired, that even keeping a Pinterest board with these wonders will do the work for the moment. And then, there’s Japan. Calling me louder and louder. And Iceland. And the Hymalaians. And Africa and India, and Peru and Brazil… There’s no place in this world where I wouldn’t want to go. Last month I wrote an Essay on Travelling.
This month’s essay is a mess. Ideas came at me all at once and none, in particular, stayed long enough to actually develop it. That only proves the above idea that inspiration hits in mysterious ways. Chaotic ways and we should grab it while we can. When I started these essays, I promised myself they will be raw, no rewriting. Just thoughts on paper on some topics I care deeply about.
This is the result.
The Story of Vulnerability – May Essay
Well, now things get serious. We talked about Time, Communities, Travelling and Inspiration. All in the light of being creative and living that creative and authentic life that most of us strive for. Have been struggling with this month’s theme, as I looked at the list of topics I wanted to talk about for a while, feeling like none of them would suffice. Or be good enough. Because, oh, yes… I was feeling vulnerable.
Don’t we all?
Anyhow, here I am, end of the month, a fresh-brewed mug of tea with mint from the garden and linden from some friends’ garden, windows open, listening to the outside noise, happy it is all nature sounds, even in the midst of a bustling city. Evening, just ended the workday and am ready to relax, but not too relaxed as this essay is getting on my nerves, because if there is something I am good at is not showing any signs of vulnerability. It is always kept in check, packed under millions of other layers, ignored and frowned upon as we all do.
Since the beginning of this month, I have been part of a lovely project on Instagram (a wonderful project that I totally encourage you to try) organized/inspired by Juliane from @onebouquetperday. Juliane started it in 2013, so it has been going on for a while, but just this year I have found it. When I began, I thought it would do me a lot of good to go in the garden early in the morning and pick some flowers, as everything was in bloom and looked amazing, and to capture that moment of peace in a single photo. I also thought it would last for a week. Little did I know. I am going (strong) in my fourth week now, and totally loving it. It just adds that little something that was missing from my morning strolls at sunrise in the Garden of Eden, as I call this little sacred space we tend to.
How is this tied with the vulnerability you ask. Well, since you ask… Every project you do with other people makes you put yourself “out there”. You know, in the real world. And everything you create or do or think or say in such environment leaves you open for criticism, ironies, bullying, comparison, and all the other things that made you – an introvert- NOT put yourself out there.
Therefore, I encourage you to try to find a small project, anything that may bring you out of your shell, and damned be the fear that will try to silence you. Dare to be vulnerable. Show your heart to the world. Do not hide your gifts.
I still say it as a whisper that I am a writer. And still, try to disguise it and explain it and justify it by adding- well, I try… well, I’d like to think I am... and so on.
But allowing myself to be open to criticism and showing my soul to strangers has brought me more joy and happiness than bad vibes.
So, do it. Be vulnerable. Be authentic, tell people about your thoughts and wishes, about your ideas and allow your creative part to be free. Unleash that vibrant energy that fills your lungs and raises your spirit high to go “out there”. And accept your vulnerability. Care for it. Talk about it. Understand it. But do not let it control your life and do not live your life out of fear of what would people say or think. That is their problem, not yours. Yours is to be true to yourself, no matter what.
Go to group therapy. Talk about your soul and your fears. Play and allow yourself to be present. Tell people about your creative side. And about your desires and thoughts and feelings, especially.
Or write stories for your friends. Taking Neil Gaiman’s writing course in the past month (oh boy, what a treat!!) I have started to really enjoy writing short stories. So much that I decided to write 10 stories this year for 10 of my friends based on one photo of theirs from either Instagram, or blog or another social platform of their choice. Mind you, most of my friends have a gift for photography and I would like to thank deviantArt for meeting most of them back then. Oh, the glorious days of dev. I miss them sometimes. Now, back to writing and being vulnerable. I have already written two, started the third which will be posted really soon. You can read them in the Short Stories page of this website. They are different as the people I write for are different. They have a piece of soul from me, from them, and some mystical inspiration that was captured in that photo. Here’s yet another way of being vulnerable- telling your friends- Hey, I wrote a story about this picture of yours. Or even worse- hey, I think about writing a story about this picture of yours– worse because then you have informed them and they will have expectations. (yes, hard to live with that, I know. hahaha)
Try to be more present and do more “out there” for the people to see, allow yourself to be vulnerable and step by step you’ll learn how to do it, how to trust people and how to believe in yourself. There is this book that I’ve been reading for a while now, “Hardwiring Happiness” by Rick Hanson about experience-dependent-neuroplasticity (try to say that three times fast) which discusses retraining your brain to think and act positively by changing its wiring in response to experience, repeated stimuli, environmental cues, and learning. And how to learn from good and positive experiences. I believe that is an experiment worth doing with yourself. Learning how to see more good than bad and how to give more impact to good experiences.
This month’s post is also delivered in 1000 words in full, as promised.
The Story of Nature- June Essay
If you’ve ever been to a big city, you saw those manicured row of trees, lanes millimetric planned, not a leaf out of line, those curated gardens where every plant has its place and does not overlap, those 24/7 blooming plants, so there would be no time for a respiro. You saw the people tending to them, plucking out the weeds and cutting each and every leaf daring to crawl above the fence, or between its grates. Everything is fenced in, everything is off limits and no, you cannot sit on the grass, you cannot pick up flowers, you cannot and will not in any way dare to open the garden gates, for fear that you will disturb the tamed nature contained behind them.
We have lived like that for decades, not sitting on the grass, not daring to touch the flowers or pick up the sour fruits, keeping to the paved paths and sitting on the benches, while our eyes glanced yearning at the green pasture and colourful and scented buds.
Nature was tamed. And fenced. And so were we. So were our souls. So were our lives. On the “right” paths, the cemented ones, not able to roam freely.
These days the parks are welcoming you with invitations. You may sit on the grass. First time I saw that sign I laughed and cried in the same breath. It was a decade or so ago. In a park from where we were called down by a guardian and scolded for a quarter of an hour for we dared to sit on the grass and touch its green spikes.
That was a while ago. No there is a trend to open the gardens, to encourage people to be in touch with nature and to feel their souls again.
We’re sick of “no touching” signs, we’re sick of fences and barriers, we’re sick of looking from a safe distance and yearning.
As humans, we were born free and wild and we were then trained not to be free and wild, but hang around with “no touching” signs around our necks, we were trained to become distant and lonely, to look but not touch.
Nature is to be in contact with, to be touched, to be felt. Roses to be smelled and grass to be stepped on with bare feet and trees to be climbed on and rivers to be bathed in.
And yet we’re not. We’re looking at all of this and still maintain our distance. That’s why we’ve gotten so tired and overwhelmed in the steel and brick and mortar and cement cities. Nature is being held hostage behind walls and fences and we cannot charge from it. We cannot charge our souls. We’ve been running on empty for so long we forgot what it’s like to be whole. To feel whole.
This is a petition to free nature again. Our own nature. Human nature.
So, child, please sit on the grass. Please make yourself a flower crown. Please leave away the noise made by man and step into the forest. Please breathe in the fresh air of the mountains. Please bathe your body in the ocean’s water. Please forget a little about your struggles and come watch the birds learning to fly. Please come back to yourself, you’re not made of brick and mortar, of steel and rods, of glass and plastic.
Rivers, untamed rivers flow within your skin and stars shine behind your eyes. There are galaxies in your soul and flowers grow from your fingertips. Salty waters run from your eyes and stars shine behind your eyelids. Your laughter booms and echoes with the thunder and there’s magic flowing in your veins.
Run back to your roots. And find yourself again. If you’re nowhere to be found, or there’s nothing that you like, then make yourself from scratch. This time take your time and only add what makes your whole being happy.
Come rest your weary bones on fertile soil and wet your chapped lips into a stream of icebergs.
Lay your body on top of mossy fields and cover yourself with a blanket of stars. Lay your body on sandy covered beaches and cover yourself with a blanket of salty waters.
Get down on your knees and give thanks for the scented jasmine and prickly roses, for the salty seas and icy rivers, for the eternal snow laying on top of the highest mountains and for the fruits of the earth. Let your fingertips touch the blades of grass and breathe in the cool air of the summer morning. Walk barefoot on the autumn’s fallen leaves and cool your hands in the freshly fallen snow.
Allow your heart to be open and your mind to wander. Set yourself free and resist the sheltered life.
Close your eyes, my child. For you are safe tonight. You’re where you belong.
You are home.
How do you feel? How does your soul feel inside? Does your heart beat faster? Does your blood run freely? Is your mind less troubled? How is your breath? Is it deeper? Lighter? More powerful? Does the weight on your soul feel lifted?
How do you feel, now that you’re home and you’re whole?
P.S. This post does not in any way encourage trespassing, destroying, ruining protected parks, plants; and in any way disturb the natural order of things! This post encourages to help protect special areas and support the work of rangers, by being in touch with our own nature and lending a helpful hand in teaching others to be free without in any way disturb other’s freedom. Your freedom ends where the other’s begins.
P.P.S. This Essay has 1000 words in full, as per WordPress count, as promised in January. It took me a while to write it, even if I started it mid June. I guess it is hard sometimes to be as free and wild as your soul craves to be. Doesn’t it?
The Story of Recharging – July Essay
Summer. Holiday. Summer holiday. As summer spent in the smouldering city when even the asphalt is melting under your shoes, is so not a way I dream of living this season. Summer is hard on some, who would want to aestivate, you know – those people who’d rather wear five to six layers of clothes and frost on their eyebrows, sip hot coffees all day long and indulge in hot-spicy comfort food. Those people who gladly shop for winter boots, scarves and comfy sweaters than bathing suits. I am part of those people.
Give me mountains, give me snow, give me rain and mist and fog and gloom all day long. I am not complaining. I’ll probably be smiling from ear to ear.
However, summer is unavoidable in Bucharest. And in the city summer is definitely more unbearable than anywhere else. Everything is hot and burning. Nights are especially painful, as you wait for that chill, for that possibility of taking deep breaths, of not throwing your covers off.
So, we take a strategic approach and make time to get away. For as long as possible. And as often as possible. We just run like we’ve been chased by wild bears. Away from the heat, away from the maddening crowd. We do not do city breaks in summer; we do forest breaks, and mountain breaks and fishing trips and camping and (sometimes rarely and shortly) seaside rendezvous.
Fortunately, this summer has not been all pain and sweat, as we had some respiro with 20 something temperatures and that was truly glorious.
And yet, we long to get out of the city. The mountains are calling and we have to answer. Forests, alpine meadows, icy-cold creeks, sleeping under a tree, watching the clouds above your head, plaid shirts, hiking boots, rain/wind jackets, and a glorious, colourful scarf.
Tomorrow we’re out of the city. We’ll be taking a much-needed time off from asphalt streets, from crowded metro and buses, from deadlines and work. And will try to find our souls. Hopefully, they’re there, where we left them when we found them last time.
City nomads. This is what we have made ourselves into. We carry our lives in big bags, all around the city, and we become visitors in our homes. Leave earliest in the morning, and come when the sun has already set, tired and spent, weary and hollow, crossing things on our to-do lists. We gather all we might need during the day in empty pockets of the backpacks, laptops, keys, agendas, water bottles, wet wipes, snacks, external batteries, cosmetics, fruits, chopped carrots, juices, even a sandwich from time to time, a spare of clothes, and so on, as we would leave on a road-trip with no intention to return anytime soon. When did this happen? How did we let this happen? I see women wearing beautiful dresses, heels and a lovely shoulder bag matching her lovely shoes, and then they turn around and I see the massive backpack carrying all their lives inside. I see men in suits on bikes with sports shoes on and on their backs, yes; you know it, that big ugly backpack carrying laptops, sometimes 2, office shoes, a tie and maybe a t-shirt. I see kids taken to kindergarten, going to school with these colourful (yet huge) backpacks, filled with books, and notebooks and snacks and other things, every single day, growing wearier with every day of the week, turning themselves into city nomads as their parents were turned into at the same age.
And we’re counting days till the weekend. We’re counting days till holiday. Every single moment we’re counting down to something. A day, a minute, a deadline, a weekend, a meeting, a month, a birthday… a special moment. When we’ll leave the nasty backpacks at home and straighten our backs and lift our eyes to see the sky.
We run to Mother Nature, who is welcoming us every single time like long-lost sons and daughters, and who allows us to recharge.
Time off. Time out. Out of time. Somehow, we exist out of time during vacations. We arrange daily schedules around sleep and meals. The rest of the day remains un-programmed. Free. Welcoming adventure. We become bold, wild, free, brave, open. We smile more. We get ideas. We create. We dream. We live more intensely. We break free from the proverbial box and usual patterns. We make time for ourselves. We make time for others. We let go of all expectations. We embrace the crazy weather, the chaotic bus schedule, the midday breakfast. We enjoy that extra cup of coffee or that desert; we walk the extra mile; we read the extra chapter; we follow our passions; we do the extra thing because we can. Because we have the time. And allow ourselves to be free from the literal backpack filled with dire and worry and stress and grim.
We recharge for several days, weeks, -if we’re lucky, for an entire year. Is that enough? How could that be enough?
How could that be enough for your soul? For your mind? For your entire being? And for the others around you? Getting from a city nomad to a free spirit takes time. It takes time to transition from the cement to the forest path; it takes time to break from the cage, to grow wings and to learn (yet again) how to fly. And it is getting harder and harder with each year as we grow wearier and more worn out, incapable of keeping our eyes open to the good.
Questions I’m left with after this half-essay.
1.How do you balance work-time off?
2.How do you recharge?
3.How do you make it last?
4.What is the best way to transition from a city nomad to a free spirit?
5.How do you do it?
P.S. This post contains 1000 words in full, as per WordPress’ count and as I promised.
Go recharge; it would do good to your soul,
The Story of The Simple Life – August Essay
If you would please imagine this:
You wake up with the sound of birds and a gust of fresh air coming from the open window, at the first light. You’re tangled up in the blanket and the house is quiet. Getting out of bed, you wrap in the blanket as in a cape, and tip-toe to the window to take in the day. The sun is rising above the rims of the mountains and the entire valley is under a thick layer of mist.
The trees are coloured, and the river rushes through them to the valley, happy to be part of the green lake.
The air is crisp and your breath forms little puffs, making you smile and crave a hot cup of coffee. With that thought in mind, you get down to the kitchen and start brewing the coffee, blanket-cape still on your shoulders. As the floors are cold, you find yourself the pair of torn but comfy slippers from last Christmas.
As the coffee drips and the eggs boil, you put the bread slices in the toaster and push the button down.
A scratch at the door tells you the cat arrived and a loud thud that also the dog is there. Before an argument can start, you let the cat in and scratch the dog’s ears promising her a treat. Now you have a soft and furry tail wrapped around your leg and the meowing gets louder.
You feed the cat, give the treat to the dog, and then you sit down to have your breakfast.
You feel something is missing so you end up in the garden, cat and dog on your tail, blanket cape well wrapping on your body. You pick up some zinnias, some dahlias and some tiny chrysanthemums until you have a colourful bouquet. As you come back to the kitchen, you find a nice glass and put the flowers in, and set them in the middle of the table. Now you can enjoy your breakfast. Coffee is hot and smells delicious, the bread is crispy as you spread butter on it, and the eggs are just the way you like them.
As you take the first sip of coffee you smile. Life is perfect the way it is. Simple things are important and memories are made of these small moments suspended in time when you’re well aware of the world around you and the world inside you.
It doesn’t take much to make your heart content.
You pen down your thoughts in the torn notebook you carry with you all day long and, by the end of it; you have there a page of emotions and little things, some flowers, a cat’s paw imprint, some coffee stains and even some dirt and seeds. Each day differs from the other, and each day is like the other when it comes to living a simple, meaningful life.
Also by the end of the day, your hands are dirty and your clothes are wrinkled, and there’s even a spider web in your hair. But the flowers are cleaned, the pumpkins’ patch is cleared and there’s also some apple pie in the making in the oven. The smell of caramelised apples and cinnamon is heavy in the air, and the entire house smells like autumn.
Tomorrow is another day. The trees will need pruning, some shopping is in order as the family and friends will gather around your table for a feast.
They say that life starts again in autumn as if during summer all is set to stop, to not move, grow or change. And to some extent it is understandable. When it is too hot, one stops.
But then, life moves again with the first rain cloud or the first gust of chilled wind.
Every year you take your time in saying good-bye to summer.
And you welcome the change. The nights get chiller and the mornings crisper; the wind does not blow with the same fiery air, and you finally breathe evenly. Coloured leaves pop here and there and autumn’s flowers fill your gardens. Clouds loom above our heads and the dry patch is over.
People wake from their summer daze and start changing their dusted lives. School starts, vacations end, big life changes happen, people move near and far, they begin new paths and explore different roads.
All living their lives in simplicity and utter amazement. Season after season, enjoying the little things, the quiet mornings, the busy days and the relaxing evenings.
There is a joy that only this simple life can attain it. The joy of making bread, and of picking up or buying colourful flowers from the farmers’ market, the joy of trying your hands at that apple pie recipe you enjoyed so much at Aunt Mia’s house when you were a kid. Or experimenting with flower seeds. Mixing and matching textures and colours, heights and angles to create the garden of your dreams, where you’ll await the first bloom in spring, have picnics in summer, pick up apples later on and decorate the Christmas tree. As the year passes by, so do you. In the rhythm of nature, an ancient tale known to man, and deeply ingrained into everyone’s soul. And you grow to be happier and more relaxed, freer and more creative with every season that passes by.
Now tell me, friend, doesn’t your soul yearn for this simplicity? Doesn’t your heart flutter at the thought of breathing freely and living in touch with nature?
I know I am. I know many of my friends are. And our gatherings around a table prove just that.
As you grow older and get more in touch with yourself, you’ll find simple things to be what your heart needs. And that a simple life is beautiful and worth living.
This post has in full 1000 words as per how WordPress knows to count and as I have promised in January.
The Story of Change – September Essay
I could not think of a theme for this month, even if I circled about a half a dozen. Mornings, Autumn, Self-acceptance, Emotions, Awareness and a few others seemed to be the one at the moment, but I could not commit to any. And since I did not want to plan 12 themes, allowing my creativity room for meandering, some months were a real struggle.
But there is this freedom of choice and of writing out of the plan, the exact opposite of writing the novel, so I welcome the struggle and the inspiration of the moment, I accept it and I love it.
It is the main change from my daily writing work, and despite it all, it is a good change. And since this month somehow the winning theme is change itself, let us dwell on it for a while. More exactly for 1000 words.
Last month we (a Creative Writing Workshop Alumni) published a short stories anthology and, to be honest, I was expecting a somewhat emotion on seeing it online, available for purchase, especially the “I am a published author” part.
That was a change I did not experience, even if I wrote two short stories (one of which you can read for free in my Short stories page: An Oxford Story). Perhaps I wanted to see a change in my life, in my writing, in my life or anything, let’s say, tangible.
Anyhow, feeling the change or not, things are not the same. Now vulnerability kicked in and I am more prone to keep my writing to myself. Quite counter-productive, I would say, but – on the self-acceptance topic mentioned earlier – I take it.
Another change that I can actually feel, is the beginning of autumn, and I am thrilled. We’re one season away from Christmas bliss and I so ready for it. I write this now with the window still open, a soft violin is playing somewhere outside, but there’s a crisp in the mornings and in the evening that makes my heart flutter and invite the change in.
I have survived summer this year and I am grateful. My writing is going well and I am grateful. My everything is uncharacteristically fine and I am grateful.
But things have changed. Friends have come and friends have gone, even really good-old friends, relationships have evolved or devolved, and even my own self has changed to some extent in the past few months of 2019.
When I have started 2019, I felt it in my soul that it will be a Phoenix year, and talking to my friends, there was some sort of mutual feeling of an upcoming change. It is rather weird to take a step back and watch things evolve (or devolve), starting with your own personality. There are traits that have grown, others that have diminished to the brink of extinction. The planet is changing, people feel more aware and more awake, the struggle for fighting for the greater good has felt rawer and more powerful. People of all ages are coming together to make their voices boom over the static of daily life, some are kids, some are elders who transform their land in a bee sanctuary, some are refusing plastic in all its shapes and some started composted piles, to try to reinvigorate a parched and torn piece of land. We have planted this spring more bee-friendly flowers and used little to none toxic pesticides, and – even if the crops have suffered – somehow seeing again bees and butterflies made it all good. I believe this change was imminent. People were to wake up at one point or another, I just pray we woke up in time.
We have hope. And they do say that hope begins in the dark, and if we, as humankind aren’t at the moment in the darkest of the darks, then I may be a more pessimistic person than I have thought.
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
― Anne Lamott
Change is a powerful force. There is a strength there that does not lie in stone. It is found in the fluidity of water and wind, allowing things to shift accordingly.
When growing organically, life changes are not going to shock or block or give anxiety. Growing organically and strategically, we can take life to the next level without the perils of anguish and torment.
But what is to be done to the change thrown upon you, the change that you did not control, or plan, or think, or, worse… wish for. Like when you’re losing a friend. Or a loved one. Or your own self, your health and your desire to move further? What’s then to be done, when you’re forced to face the change as it is, without the possibility to reverse it?
One strategy is to relinquish control and relish in it. Just go with it. See where it will take you. What challenges it possesses and what direction will it take. The other might be to step out of the game and just take a breather to recenter yourself and make some adjustments. Okay, this second one is not always available. The last one is to fight with all you have against it and be it leaving you exhausted and frustrated, you’d know you’ve done everything in your power to stop it. Not so sure how will that help, as you will have to still live with that change.
The wise said that, by living your life the way you should, without expectations, just freely, you will feel no change but growth and you will welcome it every single time.
I believe there is truth in that, as well as in every other saying. I am just not that wise to say I experience change without a pang in my heart. Perhaps someday. I look forward to that, at this moment.
This post has in full 1000 words, as I have promised in January, all mine, without quotes, P.S. included, though, as by how WordPress knows to count.
The Story of October
October has a special place in my heart and it feels as it is like a second December.
The world stops from spinning like headless chickens and manages to take some deep breaths and another look at the surroundings. Usually the captivating surrounding is a yellow tree, or an orange bush popping from the greenery.
We relish on sweater weather and hot coffees, long walks, and road-trips to witness the change in colour and the crispness and glory of autumn mornings. If we go up high, we might even find a mix of emotions, a mix of seasons, the first snow among the colourful foliage.
We take the scenic routes home; we spend most free time in parks, in the gardens, observing each leaf’s compliance with the season, and immortalizing on film or on digital means the small and daily changes. Here is a half-turned leaf, there a gourde, a dried rose and some mums, looking tall and pretty. And we take turns in the garden, collect the collectables and eat juicy apples that we’ve dreamed of all summer. Even pumpkins appear here and there, on display or in a menu, for all those pumpkin lovers.
Last fruits are being picked, and usually they’re quinces. Jams are in the making and apple pies and pumpkin spices, and everything nice… Hot comfort foods are being prepared in all the kitchens as there’s nothing like a warm soup to nourish our bodies and souls.
As the sun tends to go to bed earlier and rise a bit later than usual, so do our bodies, welcoming the early nights (and, if possible, the sleep ins) as well as the quietness that comes after sunset. Somehow the world gets quieter and moves slower, and we tend to gather round the homes. We invest in candles, blankets, start baking again and spend more time introverting than usual.
Foggy mornings and moody 4 PM atmosphere when the world seems to disappear and magic seems to fall upon our heads.
October brings it all. All the glory of Auntie Autumn, from weather, goodies, comfort; and we all become artists ready and willing to observe life.
There’s a joy lingering in the air, a feeling of celebration, of togetherness and mischief.
Somehow this celebration does not feel peaceful as Christmas does, but it brings families around a home-cooked Sunday meal. There’s, also, a sniggering feeling of wickedness. Makes sense as it all culminates with Halloween, though.
Masks and pranks and trick or treats, jack-o’-lanterns, cobwebs, flickering lights, wicked amount of candies, first mug of mulled wine.
Extremely sensorial this month of October. The moment we mention it, all our senses come to life and we can actually grasp its meaning. Visual, as the trees change colours, perfumes with apple, quinces, foggy mornings, teas, taste goes as well, you can hear the fallen leaves and the swish-swash of the dried up grass blades and you can feel the textures of wool sweaters and warm mugs.
We start tweaking this and that, create autumn arrangements, colourful leaves wreaths, carve pumpkins and gather round some fires to roast the first chestnuts.
And then, there’s the spike of creativity. After all the wonderful adventures of summer, when we lived, now we can gather around our desks to create. Remembering our summer memories, we start to feel the need to tell our stories, to make new things, to dust old projects, to work on some ideas.
And then, later in the evening, we curl up in our favourite nooks, arrange the Feng Shui, and immerse ourselves in the pages of a good book, with torn covers and old smell, that rustle just like the outside leaves.
We take time to enjoy the longer sunsets, colourful skies, to cuddle with the dogs and the cats, and to also treat them with goodies.
Somehow the world seems happier, kinder, more open to understanding.
A very smart friend of mine once wrote: “Life begins again when it gets crisp in the fall.” And I firmly believe that the creative life begins somehow in autumn. Oh, and that smart friend of mine’s name is Scott Fitzgerald. I bet you know him also. And that you’re also friends.
Then, the best road-trips happen in autumn. Somehow they are more adventurous than languorous summers lounging by the pool, our joie de vivre is awakened again and we find ourselves fully immersed in adventures.
Oh, and those wonderful October evenings with their golden light, carefully caressing the old buildings in the city center. Or those rainy days, when the colours are even more vivid and vibrant! Photographers, all around the world, go nuts for autumn pictures.
And the flowers? What about the abundance of flowers at the market? Farmers markets in autumn are the best. For all tastes. I love going to farmers markets, usually to buy flowers, but we never leave without some goodies for the home. A pumpkin, a cabbage, some carrots, a bag of apples, last tomatoes and some cucumbers to be turned into pickles. Some dried seeds of dill, some beeswax candles, the farmers market has it all. In all shapes and sizes, varieties and colours, just for us to take home.
Exultation of spirits, might be the overall mood.
There’s no doubt, October is a crowd pleaser. We can see it all around. On all people’s faces.
Yes, yes, summer has its perks, vacations, longer days, this and that, but I am glad, as another friend of mine said, to live in a world where there are Octobers. Come on, it is not like I would skip mentioning this quote of one book I adore, would I?
This month’s essay is an ode to the month itself, and I find that quite amusing.
If I would conclude this essay giving you a bit of my love for autumn, then I am happy. If not, wait and see what I have in store for December! That is my first love.
Until next month, stay awesome, darlings!
The Story of Books – November’s Essay
What’s the thing with the written word? What’s the magic behind these weird signs that allow us to get lost in fantasy worlds, to feel second-hand emotions and to believe, love, hate with such passion and fervour?
Why do we find refuge inside the pages of a book, and carry them heavy and dusty all around town, praying to have a moment or two to read? Why do our piles of books grow with every outing and why our to read lists never grow smaller?
We pay in advance for things not even published yet; we use our hard earned money to buy bits of trees with weird markings on them and we discuss them so intensively one may think they’re real. But then again, aren’t they? As long as they make us laugh, cry, feel, want to kick something, throw them poetically out of a moving train (Anna Karenina book’s almost faith) because of frustration, aren’t they real? Perhaps their worlds are imaginary to us, but were they to the writer? What did she/he feel writing that book? That chain of events? What possessed her/him to write that particular book? Where did that character with such an influence on us came from? Did that thing actually happen? What’s this thing called imagination, and how does one learn the ropes? How does one search the imagination to find exactly what needs to make the story advance and the book sell? I am now asking as a writer, but not only.
“You can make anything by writing.”C.S. Lewis
There are so many books out there, we cannot even fathom to read a small part of them in this lifetime. So what will happen to the books we did not get to read? Do we get a second chance in Heaven? Is Heaven, as Borges imagined, a kind of library? Will we pay for membership? Will we know what book to read and what not to open? Will we want to read them all? Will we want to read at all? Well, that’s a yes.
There’s a magic and an appeal to books that draws us in and never lets us go, as we have learnt from early childhood. We used to keep notebooks filled with quotes, character traits, list of books read, list of books to read, some fan-fiction even, when the book did not end “our way.” Well, I can’t believe I was the only one, right?
Perhaps this led us to writing the book we wanted to read. This was one of the main reasons most of us started scribbling furiously in our notebooks, arguing with characters, plotting and researching weird things, we never thought we will. Perhaps the story just came to us one day, and we could not put it down, it kept us awake and we lost ourselves in that story long before we actually started writing it. And then we have no peace until it is all written down.
Being haunted by an unwritten book is a real thing. We, as humans, we’re all storytellers. From the greatest authors out there to the smallest piece of gossip, we’re all telling stories, true stories, false stories, stories worth telling, or not at all, but stories nonetheless. And from storytelling to writing, there’s only a thin line. One so thin, sometimes we don’t even know we crossed it until it’s too late and there’s no turning back.
So I ask myself again, what is this magic behind the written word? Is there a touch of eternity? Is there, perhaps, a piece of madness? I reckon it is both. Both and many more other as such. We lose ourselves in bookstores, we’d rather go book shopping than food shopping. And even when at food shopping, we still pick a book of two. Who thought to place some bookshelves in between milk and bread at superstores? They knew our hunger for reading, our thirst for knowledge to be as deep as our mortal needs. And then again, isn’t this another of our mortal needs?
I love collecting books. Bought, gifted, found, abandoned, borrowed, adopted, you name it. Perhaps it is not a good idea to have piling up on three to four layers on the bookshelves and always wish for bigger and wider shelves. But then again, I can only imagine the amount of books I could buy with the money spent on the bookshelves. So I reconsider and keep staking them on top of another, on diagonal, on vertical, horizontal and, when needed, next to the bookshelf, creating new, independent piles.
I remember one winter, a while ago, when I did not know better, upon seeing an image on Pinterest (yes, this goes under Pinterest fail hashtag), I worked my way on making a book tree. You know whose beautiful images with stacks of books, layered one on top of the other to create the shape of a tree, right? Well, now… It took me a day to pile them in my room, dust them, arrange them by size and so on. Another day to think what would go at the bottom, what can go higher up and so on. Mathematical precision, y’all! On the third day, as I spent most day re-reading what I found in my piles, I realized it is not going to happen. I gave up. What if, as soon as I finished the “tree” I wanted to read that one book sitting at the bottom? The whole thing would crash down. Well, that what if made me gather the books, stack them on the shelves, and spent a couple more days doing the same thing I did on the first day. Christmas came next day, anyway.
This story has in full 1000 words, as per WordPress count and my promise in January. To keep in line with this month’s essay and writing books, these essays of 2019 will come out as a booklet in January 2020 on Amazon. Details coming soon.
“In the end, we’ll all become stories.”M. Atwood
Until next month, I bid you all farewell.