Tag Archives: inspiration

Others’ opinions

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I recently met my schoolmate whom I have not seen in two decades or so. At some point she dropped me a message, when she realised that we live in the same region.

So, on a Sunday afternoon she, her kid and husband were at our door. We love guests, so we soon settled in a nice conversation around some home baked warm goodies. Our kids swiftly immersed themselves into play. It was all lively and lovely.

After we had our coffee, my schoolmate suddenly remembered how much she and her friend laughed at my acting in primary school. I always somehow landed lead roles in school plays.

Her voice was remorseful. She remembered this for decades and seemed to want to say it to me out loud. She remembered some of my roles’ lines from back then. I must have been good.

I was not bothered by her confession. She was 8-9 years old. I loved acting. I was oblivious to their comments. And that was wonderful.

If I would have known and started paying less and less attention to what made me me — my talents, beliefs — and would have started conforming to what others may or may not think, it would have harmed my free expression and my potential.

As adults we tend to listen to and spend time on ruminating over others’s opinions until it spirals into infinite. Thanks to extensive research we can learn to deal with it. If you want to learn more, read “How to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think of You” by Michael Gervais, Harvard Business Review, 2 May 2019.

An autumn love story

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On a warm autumn day, in a town on the Mediterranean, I let my kid choose where she wanted to have lunch. Her choice led us to a place were locals go. Tables next to each other. Waiters saluting clients with a non-chalance of old friends. This kind of place.

We were given a table in the middle of the room and soon enough a couple was sat next to us.

She was beaming with elegance, her hair just out of a hairdresser. White blouse, dark skirt. Let’s call her Mathilde. He was dressed as if in a hurry. A hurry to see her, I thought. Let’s call him Henry. They both seemed to have been born in the middle of last century.

They ordered the plat du jour and wine. Henry immediately became chatty with the lady at the table next to him and told her the story of his life in 5 minutes: he is retired, daughter lives in another country, he and the lady having lunch with him is not his wife and they just “see each other”. He would be good on Twitter, I thought, with such a talent for conciseness.

The lady at the next table offered them her unfinished bottle of wine. I also wanted to offer something, in exchange for more stories. I offered them our untouched basket of bread. They accepted it with the joy of 5 year olds on Christmas eve.

As we switched our attention to our plates, their dialogue unfolded:

– Oh, darling, your back hurts you again?, Henry asked with a compassion level 100, as she tried to find a comfortable posture in her chair.

– Oh, it’s fine, Mathilde tried to reassure him.

– Well, you know the remedy. You come to my place. You undress. I give you a massage on your back, his hands demonstrating circular movements, as if around her delicate shoulders.

Mathilde blushed and directed his eyes with her green eyes to my daughter, as if saying: « Shsh, there are kids around ». Henry’s blue eyes responded: “Well, sooner or later, she will find out. What’s there to hide?!”

– Well, you felt good after our last time…, his sweet smile enveloping her.

We left the place with the feeling of having watched a good movie from the 50s. Their illuminated faces – a lovely memory of an autumn love story. Ageless. Priceless.

P.S. I remembered this story in the times of this pandemic… I truly hope they are well and their love continues to brighten their days.

“A man called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

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I just finished the book. And I cried. And I laughed. It is so human I wanted to embrace it. The author does so much justice to the roller coaster of the life of this amazing couple at the center of the narrative – Ove and Sonja.

The story line is rich, tender and explosive. It embraces such a diversity of characters throughout the book that at times I thought I am reading two or three novels in parallel. Yet, by a masterly stroke of the pen, they come together as one. It is quite extraordinary.

My favourite quote: “And when she giggled she sounded the way Ove imagined champagne bubbles would have sounded if they were capable of laughter.”

“The salt path” by Raynor Winn

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That’s some tale. I “walked” for miles and miles on the English coast line with this amazing couple – Moth and Ray. The reading made me straighten my back, lower my shoulders and relearn acceptance.

This couple in their 50s lost their home, family business and all income and walked into their next stage with their 8 kg each backpacks. On top of that, Moth was diagnosed with some incurable disease… . They endure, overcome, cry, despair, get up, and move on.

I read some of the reviews after I read the book. Some saw it as a diary, others as a coast guide and national geographic type of writing. Some focused on the homeliness side of the story only. Others on the iterations… It has it, indeed, a little bit of each. As with any reading, we will find there only what we have inside already…

My favourite quote from the book: “A new season had crept into me, a softer season of acceptance.”

Gaming parenting

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– Let’s go for a walk.

– Mom, it’s 2020! Who does this anymore?!

What we did instead was to play and hang out in Adopt me.

I played the baby and Sofia played the mom. A very good mom to a very spoiled brat. My personality online is the opposite of the one in real life. I wonder what Freud would say about it… Not that I care.

I chose my outfit – urban romantic glamour, in case you need to know. I decorated my room for a budget of 100 Gamedollars.

We had ice cream and pizza with Ramsay – in this precise order. Oh, Heaven!

We spent time on the playground and by the camp fire. I only had 50 gamedollars on my game account and I spent the time of my life. Because it was time spent with my treasure.

Kids grow. So do parents. When was the last time you played with your kid?

“My life in France: the life story of Julia Child” by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

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If you wonder about life in Paris in late 40s seen through the eyes of an American, this book might be of interest. Narrated by the main character – Julia Child – the book is a very personal take on life in Paris at that time, French cuisine being at the center of it. And it’s natural – it is that Julia Child, the legendary self-made cook, author, teacher and media presence in the times of those ugly boxes entering the Americans’ homes.

You’ll find here the history of Child’s first 728 page long cooking book, which she wrote and re-wrote with two of her French friends – “Mastering the art of French cooking”. It takes you literally through its notes, side notes, authors’ arguments, endless trials, tests and failures of recipes. And that’s important as at that time, “editors seemed to consider the French preoccupation with detail a waste of time, if not a form of insanity”.

Child pays tribute to all great chefs she met and learned from as well as to all who taught her tricks of the trade, ranging from bakers to meat, fruit and vegetables stands sellers from the regions of France.

I found the last chapters on Julia entering the TV world less interesting, yet those years were important for the effect she had on households and cooking people. Some stories there are funny too. Filming with a Dutch cameraman in a French open air market, for instance.

Easter meanings

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This Easter for me is about those who put food on our table. Every day. Crisis, no crisis.

Those who work the land from dusk to dawn. Those who water the crops and harvest it. Those who get their hands dirty and foreheads sweaty. Those who deliver it and put it on the shelves, so that we only pick and choose with our manicured hands.

Those in school kitchens, restaurants and cafes who feel no pain from burns and cuts, as their remedy is love for food and people they feed.

Parents who cook for their kids. Kids who cook for their parents. Grandmas who know no sleep over simmering pots in anticipation of their visiting grandchildren.

All those who will share what they have and cut a boiled egg in 2 and share it with a hungry human or a hungry cat.

Those who are grateful for their food and kiss the hands of those who put food on table. Every day.

Teleworking week 5: view from home

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As weeks add to the teleworking mode, when I am asked about how am I doing, I usually answer: “I am glad I am not a doctor or a nurse”. Me becoming a doctor was my mother’s dream who did not get into medical school at her time. These days, I am particularly grateful that I disobeyed her wish.

This post is not about me. It is about the millions of doctors, nurses, hospital workers and healers of all kinds of medicine. Those who leave their warm beds early mornings to get to white rooms filled with people who suffer. Those who hold hands of kids on a hospital beds and get to see their own kids only when they sleep. Those who do shifts after shifts and sleep wherever they can in quiet minutes. Those who come home after 32 hours in a hospital and do their household duties as if they have been on a city break. Those who keep their warm smiles for every patient, even if their inner world is in ruins. Those who fight the unknown and unseen as a fairytale immortal fighter. Those who cry, when they cannot see it anymore, and then wipe out their tears and keep doing the best they can.

And I am not even going into the supplies, equipment, infrastructure, miserable wages so many of them have to cope with in so many countries. If we cannot do their job, then we can at least honor their work by #stayinghome. That’s not too much to ask.

Monaco, photo by Monaco Info