Tag Archives: gratitude

Thank you Brussels

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I was on a 4 hour train ride.

– How are you, Madam? It’s ok, not too long?, asked the conductor, as we approached our destination.

– Thank you, it is just right. And how are you? You are the one working all these hours. I am only giving a massage to the seat 🙂

– Oh, thank you very much for asking, a big smile lighting up his face. I adore it. It’s the best job in the world! When all goes well.

– I wish you that it continues to stay well, in all its ways.

– Thank you very much, Madam. A pleasure to see you again on our trains.

A one minute dialogue with a thousand riches in it. People find meaning in serving others. People are opening up when asked with autheticity how was their day/duty trip/behind-the-cashier day. A grateful customer can give meaning to someone’s work. Be kind.

Coffee mug courtesy of Courtyard by Marriott – my kind of coffee fortune telling.

Merci Paris

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Merci Paris

for the blue sky and sunny weather followed by majestic sunset colours

your Marmottan Monet little wonder, an improvised and brief visit into impressionism thanks to the invitation of an art history connoisseur

coffee bathed in sunlight and served with a warm smile at Carette.

for challenging my stereotypes and opening my eyes to see beyond appearances;

for the OECD meetings and networking leading to new partners and ideas to work on;

dinner in great company at Il Conte;

and the joy of Bucuria chocolate (bucuria means joy in Romanian), sent by my dearest friend through a joint acquaintance and all the warm this gesture brought from my homeland.

Comparison-the thief of joy?

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– How old is she? i was often asked about my kid while strolling and playing in the park.

– Why? i would ask. The faces of inquires would get usually very puzzled.

– Hmm, to compare her with my daughter/niece/cousin’s kid…, would be usually mumbled in response.

– Do they need your comparison? would be my usual good-buy.

At school, my best friend’s mom would use two rulers to follow the marks on her daughter and my rows in the teachers notebook. I can only imagine the talks they had at home. As a result, our friendship suffered. My now ex friend has a PhD and i hope she did it for her professional fulfillment.

Comparison leads to wanting more, consuming more, spending time and effort on others ideals. We rarely spend time and effort on comparing where we are now to where we started from and analysing how much we achieved.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” said Theodore Roosevelt. I realise we cannot escape comparison fully though. Social media and glamorizing TV  do not help with endless status updates, instagrams, tweets and alike. We see the surface and our brains make conclusions. It often does so from perceived weaknesses on our end.

I was raised in soviet union and even that “egalitarian” regime had a built-in competition. “Better”, “faster”, “more” were teachers and trainers favourites. In my grandmother’s village there was a competition for fastest growing trees. How can you make trees grow faster? They grow depending on  their roots and need for light. They do not grow to compete with the neighboring forest.

I missed many joyful moments in life because of comparison, imposed or self-imposed. I also learned that Comparison can still be a friend when applied with care and in line with own intrinsic philosophy,   values and aspirations.

I care now to make sure my kid learns to apply comparison when it benefits her growth. And it also helps me grow. The same way a tree does 🙂 

Thank you, 2015!

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IMG_0200A year of many firsts. The year when I met my mindfulness. Which brought many rich harvest seasons. And had my first truffles by a World Chocolate champion.

The sinfull year of drinking Italian Asti dolce on the land of champagne.

The year of not letting the unnamed dis-ease get me down by just keeping going every morning. The year of my new gratitude mantra I repeat till it shines through and passes its light on passers by.

The year I speak four languages a day and wonder every evening when i get out of the office building which country I am in.

The year i relearned to write en coursive, the proper academic way. Useful, by the way, even in the digital era, when you want to send a proper card and make a postman happy he keeps his job.

The year i visited my most Eastern city, by European standards.

The year, goodbuys turned into thanks for new amazingly inspiring people, sun sets and sun rises of unseen before colours and shades.

The year of positive thinking and wording turning into others positive action right before my eyes.

The year I descovered reflexology and cruelty free cosmetics (sorry, little ones, for my ignorance so far).

The year of my first ginger smelling home for Christmas.

The year I realised I not need to own a house to feel at home. It also tought me to embrace minimalism and the healthy “do i realy need it?” question while shopping. I have seven pairs of trousers hanging in my closet, do i realy need to buy the eighth one? Perhaps not, unless i want to layer them to dress as a cabbage for a school play.

The year I started to practice slowing down, walking not running, speaking not shooting phrases, meditating not mind wondering. 

The year my first oil portait appeared on public display. Signed by the most talented artist, my daughter.

The year of small girly harmless complots.

The year which mocked the physical distance for the charity project close to my heart.

The year of the coolest compliment from a kid to its mom.

The year I started a book.

The year a stranger grew into calling you “one of the best moments of the passing year” and “the year’s highlight”. Aren’t we all moments which create this beautiful life?

The year my lips tasted Cusco hot chocolate the first time.

The year I met Goleman, the father of emotional intelligence. By the way, his research shows that “messages do not talk and have no tone”. I case someone tells you they did not like the tone of your message ;).

The year I made a little garden of office plants saved from neglect.

The year a Christmas tree was saved by prints of our hands on a white canvas… for new pages to be written in the coming years.

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A perfect birthday

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On my birth day, I opened my big smart eyes in a soviet hospital. Grey walls, grey faces…other grey stuff. I was not impressed.
This year’s birthday had it all:IMG_2533
the to-tears-joy of saying “Good Morning, Sun” for gratitude,
the “Happy Birthday” song early morning by my dearest ones for love;
the mountain view to the right, sea view to the left , both reigned by the blue sky for harmony,
fitness with a handsome Italian fitness trainer right on the beach for fun,

water games with my kid for the love of childhood,
the 60cent perfect cake from the pasticceria at the corner to blow a candle for yet another great year,
a Proseco, courtesy of the hotel, at the perfect temperature for legerity,
the hug of the warm sea and the kiss of the golden sun for nature’s love,

the totally forgotten gadgets and ignored social media for the power of mindfulness,
the intense lover’s kiss for the power of lasting attraction,
the intense afternoon rain for prosperity,
the patient dress which waited to be worn on this special day for elegance,
fireworks under the growing moon for colorfulness and life’s generosity,

numerous birthday wishes from friends to cherrish.
My greatest gift this year was the reinstated awareness and it’s best companion – the feeling of gratitude. And the swim suit which still fits 😉

Feminism and life’s generosity

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A male colleague invited me and my colleague to lunch. His treat. My female colleague was hesitant. She said she has to finish something. “We’ll wait for you”, I said. Downstairs at the cafeteria, she asked me “what to do? My feminism is struggling with it”. My response was “Life is generous and generosity has many forms. This is just one of them. It’s your choice whether to accept it with gratitude.” She liked the perspective and accepted it.IMG_8146

It was a terriffic lunch. We talked about food, places to visit when his family is in town and best places to take his family out for dinner. We exchanged our impressions from our trips to France. We responded to his generosity with our generous knowledge of local culture. It’s mutual. Always. Generosity attracts generosity.
What does feminism have to do with who pays for lunches anyway? In one of its many definitions, feminism fights for everyone’s freedom to pursue happiness. It is totally fine, if refusing a treat from a colleague based on your beliefs makes you happy. An offer to buy me lunch has never meant that I was perceived as unable to pay for myself or that any of my abilities were disregarded. Quite the opposite.

A feminist is someone who believes in equality between the genders, reads another definition. Feminism is also about generosity to me. Money saved from the lunch paid by our colleague goes to a lunch for a homeless or a less fortunate one. It’ s going beyound and above the bubble we place ourselves in for the sake of bellonging to a social structure. These bubbles are a bit of luxuries. Once a single mother of five living a poor but dignified life told me: “you may perhaps afford all this feminist talk. I cannot. I have five mouths to feed.” And she is right. A female begger will unlikely object to a treat from a male just because the two of them belong to different genders. Or she may refuse it and hope that her own gender would be as generous and would not do it out of superiority of any kind.

Generosity is gender blind and I sure hope it will stay that way.
Feminism stems originally from a struggle, an opposition, a fight. For the sake of wisdom, I would like to believe we are over it and feminist or feminine we are simply grateful and generous with each other in all of our human interactions.

Reasons to celebrate

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“Dear friends, would you like to join me for breakfast tomorrow, on Sunday? I have at least three reasons to celebrate:)” reads my email to my friends.

Earlier this week, they were the ones who said I should celebrate it when I shared the news about my master diploma. Fully taken by my daily duties, I left unmarked the moment i received the University’s confirmation that I met all the diploma requirements.

My friends’ support on the last stages of my dissertation and their natural joyful celebration mood made me think “Why do we need reasons to celebrate?” Reason is a function of the brain. Celebration is more from the heartland. Left to my brain, my master diploma is a fait acoompli and I should be heading to another challenge. “What’s next?” is already implanted in my mind. Pausing a bit, only my heart knows how it actually felt to raise a baby, have a full time job and study for my second master’s, all at the same time. I owe a big celebration to my heart for all of it. I owe it to myself, my wise friends told me.

A month after her birthday, my kid said she wants a Spring birthday party, and a Summer birthday party and an Autumn one. Indeed, who said there should be only one birthday party a year?! She does not have yet an adult perception of time and of a calendar. She does not need to look for a reason. The reason is always there. She is the reason and this is more than enough.
We wait and postpone. Other commitments take over. Accomplishments become info on a resume or a life event we put on our facebook wall. We look back and wonder how was our last month, last summer, last year, or last ten years…It can be a little fuzzy, isn’t it?’image
To acknowledge an event or an achievement one does not always need a social gathering or expensive champaign ( which is nice from time to time) or anything very elaborate. Sometimes a simple “Thank you” ritual, a cup of tea shared with loved ones, couple of volunteer time hours, time to yourself indulging on your favorite pastime, paint a figurine, anything you choose to mark and cherish what you did to materialize your aspirations and how this made a better you, is memorable. Count your blessings, they say. Small or big they are yours. Observe them, mark and honour them in any way you like. You’ll see little stars appearing on your life board, joining in constellations and galaxies to brighten your life.
My Sunday breakfast turned into a celebration of the three of us. My master diploma was one reason to celebrate. “What are the other two reasons you mentioned in your email?”, asked my friends. “Well, it’s you”, I answered to their bemusement and offered each their portraits my kid drew on our last trip together. I framed and wrapped them as gifts for their upcoming birthday, which they celebrate a day apart next week. Their happy faces became stars on my life board. They mark our friendship, my kid’s talent and just a beautiful Sunday morning in a lovely company.