Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kids will always be the same


Twenty seven years ago. A 6th grader woke up and realized she forgot to write her homework. Yes, that was me. I used to hate writing review essays. That day we had to turn in our reviews of Botev's portrait, a Bulgarian poet and revolutionary. Embarrassed and even scared of what the outcome might be I got up and unwillingly dragged myself to my parents bedroom. I woke up my Dad and asked for help. Picture that - my Dad in his pajamas, messy hair, holding my textbook, staring at Botev's portrait, and dictating my essays...just like that. Me - diligently writing the sentences in my notebook, under the light of a candle. Yep, to make things worse, that day there was a power outage. I got an 'A'.

Fast forward...

Today - I wake up and see a WhatsApp message from my niece:
- 'Can you help me with a logarithmic equation?'
- 'Yes. Get on Skype.'
- 'Ok, I'm sending you a photo of the equation.'

I open my laptop and start Skype, while looking at the photo of the equation. Admittedly, I had to refresh my Math memory with a bit of googling, but I know how to solve it. I write down the solution. When my niece pops on Skype I turn the piece of paper towards the camera and point with the pen to each line, explaining how things are done. Luckily she gets it from the first time. Problem solved. She asks me with a trace of jealousy: 'How did you come up with the solution?'. Oh sweetie, you are only 15, you will learn how... :) Then very quickly she adds - 'Ok, I gotta go to bed now, it's 23:30 here.' Poor thing had waited for me to wake up and help. Cause I'm in Melbourne and she is in Madrid.
No matter the year, the technology and the distances - kids will always be the same...forget their homework, then ask for help. And how great is to start your day like that - in your pajamas, helping a child.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Let's count from 0 to 100

See the movie below ...

This is one way to learn counting in Dutch....
But it's not what I meant to tell you today :)
I saw the movie again and again, and I can't help it but notice how the mood changes after 70. As if in our 70s we fear facing the inevitable - taxes and dead, and I refer to the second one. It looks like the people in their 80 are pleasantly surprised they have made it through the sifter. They seem happy to live yet another day - stress-free of life's demands and expectations.
I simply love the energy of the lady of 99 :)
I don't know how long I will count and in what language that will be, but I wish I have her enthusiasm no matter what my age is. And that means... now! :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

White & Green Salad



Cooking has never been my forte, but cooking for friends coming over - that's another story :)
When alone a sandwich and salad are the most common food on the table. Interestingly, as much as I don't care about cooking a meal for just me, I really enjoy making up sandwich and salad recipes - probably because it's hard to fail at it and I feel good about myself ;-) Here is today's invention...

White & Green Salad

Use a clear glass salad bowl if possible - it looks prettier :)
Make a bed of baby greens mixed with some arugula - love its bitter taste!
Cover with a layer of fennel shavings - they are so crispy and aromatic!
Chop half an avocado and spread the cubes on top of the fennel.
Sprinkle some grated ginger and coarse sea salt on top.
Add olive oil (but not too much, or else the greens on the bottom will get soggy!)
Squeeze some lemon juice to taste!
Serve it as is - don't stir, the oil and lemon juice will find their way down mixing the flavors.

Enjoy! :)

ps. Why there is no picture of the salad? Because I ate it too fast...and honestly, I didn't expect how tasty it would be :)

Saturday, June 09, 2012

One happy day of my life

Today was a Saturday and here's how it rolled... Woke up at 9, housemate still asleep. Took a shower, dressed up and headed out. At 10:30 I met my friend Liz, who's visiting from the UK. I've known Liz for most of my time in UK, but the friendship was born on my last day in UK, over beer, at my going away party. We spent two and a half hours at my favorite DE cafe, happily chatting away, catching up on stories and discussing the future.
It's then time to walk home, pick up my housemate Hector and take him to the train station. Lucky chance and a bit of craziness brought us together, we shared my flat for two months, now he got a job and is ready to fly the coop. I'll miss him.

Next to the station is another favorite of mine - Cafe de Olivier. There Liz quickly makes friends with the pub cat, .
Liz and I philosophy about life over bitterbollen, downing two Orvals and a Brugse Zot. Lekker! It's close to 3pm, and it's finally time for her to head to Amsterdam. We hug and promise to meet again soon...we only don't know where...
Next I meet Susanne - I'm initiating her into my 'Saturday routine': Having a coffee and buying fresh flowers every Saturday morning (it's always morning somewhere). With two big bunches of peonies in hands, we decide to be adventurous and try a new place for late lunch. Mammoni turns out a success! Food is great and conversation too.
Finally I head home to put on my brand new orange dress and go to my neighbor's where we are watching the NED-DEN game of the EuroCup. I arrive minutes before the game starts and I'm still the first of the guests. We drink beers, watch the game, play with their toddler.
At 23:00 I go home and Skype my sister. Then get ready for bed...after two months I'm sleeping again in my Hastens bed.
I call it a happy day! Seeing my friends, being myself, doing the simple things, smiling and feeling at peace. Loving it!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Whatever works

When it comes to Love, it is never black and white. It is millions of shades of whatever your favorite color is, it's elusive, it's transient, it's chemistry, it's timing, it's a PAIN!!! But we all succumb to it :)

Yesterday I saw a movie summarizing my entire philosophy on Love and Life ever so eloquently in the words of Boris:

"That's why I can't say enough times, whatever love you can get and give, whatever happiness you can filch or provide, every temporary measure of grace, whatever works. And don't kid yourself, it's by no means all up to your own human ingenuity. A bigger part of your existence is luck than you'd like to admit."

Isn't it amazing?

And one more quote I live by-

Melody:"I'm married!"
Randy: "That doesn't mean I can't have feelings for you."

So simply said, yet so true and powerful!

If you get a chance to see 'Whatever works' - do it. I looooved the movie! Serious amount of cruel truth served with a generous portion of humor - Woody Allen's specialty.

And let's say it one more time - whatever love you can get and give, whatever happiness you can filch or provide, every temporary measure of grace, whatever works!

Give Love a chance and enjoy! :)



Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Sneak Preview at the movies

Sneak Preview is an interesting specialty of Dutch movie theaters ( in addition to offering you an 'intermission' during which you can go grab some pop-corn, coke or Grolsch! ). What it means is this - you buy a ticket, but you don't know which movie you will see. However it is always a new movie that will premiere soon.

I've always wondered what's the appeal of it and tonight I experienced it. It's all in the surprise factor - I was amazed how it works. As you are watching the commercial and the other previews, your curiosity is growing, the suspense is building up and you still don't know - will it be a thriller? a comedy? a drama? will you like it? A great way to sell tickets!

Tonight we saw 'The Cold Light of Day'. May be not the best movie in history, but definitely entertaining, and Henry Cavill - oh my, HOT, HOT, HOT (but not when he smiles, only when he's pissed off!)

If you ever get a chance - try Sneak Preview ! You pay less, you experience more. And you may like the movie too :)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Birds, moon, tea and anxiety

My 'to do' list has been too long for too long. I decided to take a 'day off' and do nothing, but an overwhelming sense of anxiety took over. A self-protection mechanism, I guess. Three things helped me cope with it -
...the sight of a flock of birds in a near by tree - graciously taking off, all at once (but not so graciously captured with my camera), so free and beautiful...
...the full moon peeking through the clouds, as if making sure all is ok with me...

...the company of a very special friend over a cup of tea - helping me forget all my worries and offering a hug of support and understanding. Of this a photo is impossible to take, but if it was, it would have been a really beautiful one.

ps. Apparently, the 5th of May was a super Moom, i.e. "perigee moon" :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Living the dream - 2 years today


On this day, two years ago, I moved to Utrecht.
It was a bright Sunday morning, calm and full of hope. I arrived just about when the movers had piled up my boxes by the front door, ready to bring them in. The rest, as they say, is history...and what a wonderful journey it has been!

Back in September 2007 I first set foot in Utrecht - to meet old friends and to visit the Rietveld house. I had a great time, so upon leaving I looked at the top of Dom and thought 'How nice it would be if one day I could live here...'

So I've been living my dream for two years now.
The first year was simply extraordinary! I have never thought I could have so much fun, make so many friends, experience so many new things. I was happily in love and loved back! My life was so rich, so colorful, so incredible. It was paradise!

But then things went awry - a robbery, job loss, love life got shaky...you name it! Total chaos!
For a very long while I was lost and scared, very scared indeed. I would hate waking up, and when I do so I would sit and stare at the wall, my brain drawing a blank. I wanted to disappear altogether.

At that same time a friend asked me - 'Why don't you go back home? You have nothing here - no job, no man, you don't even speak the language...'
Yes, she was right...why???
Because I was living my dream!!! And that's what makes ALL the difference. Wanting something and getting it, and loving it...and then losing it - what a royal pain that was! But I KNEW that's what I wanted.

It will take another 100 blogs to tell you why and how much exactly I love my life in the Netherlands. And it still won't be enough, because how do you describe the vibrant energy, the liveliness of every single moment, the happiness...

Another expat questioned me - 'While living your dream, don't you miss your real life passing by?'
NO, I wanted to scream at her - this IS my real life! It may be freaking scary and tough at the moment ... but that's the only life I have. What else do I have to go to?
It took some serious adjustment - attitude, budgeting, lifestyle ... but I AM so happy to be still here. I learned to live in a new way, but it's still MY way - my chosen place, my wonderful friends, my kind of parties! And my life is real - genuine and worth living it!

Who knows when the winds of change will blow, and my sailboat will have to leave the harbor, who knows which direction I'd head...but for now, I am blessed to be living my dream! Two years today!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A week in Auckland - a teaser



Up until 30 minutes ago my hair was still styled by the winds between Waiheke island and Auckland, and tiny grains of sand from Oneroa beach were still clinging to my skin. As much as I wanted them to stay with me and remind me of one of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen...after about 30 hours of flights and airports, I needed a long hot shower.
Now the scent of sea is only a memory, and a gentle aroma of Shea butter soap is wrapping my body. But the Sun kisses are still all over my face and neck...the evidence that the good time in New Zealand was not just a dream, that the overwhelming lightness of walking Piha beach was for real. Far far and away, but real and so simply beautiful.

Stay tuned for the full story and pictures :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day



I tried to restrain myself from blogging today, but I failed - I admit with a grin :)

It doesn't matter whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or not (just like many don't fancy birthday parties). The truth is, we can't escape Love - one way or another, sooner or later, we fall into Love's embrace. It could be a bliss, it could be a torture. It's Love nevertheless. I somehow have the ability to enjoy the butterflies Love gives me even if it's unrequited Love.
Of course, I much prefer reciprocated one - we all have been there, we know how great it feels!
To see my loved one's eye shine and hear his laughter, just because we are together is by far the best thing in the world! And the most meaningful one, at least for me!

Although I am single on this Valentine's Day, I am in love! Can't help it :)

To all of you out there who have someone by your side - Happy Valentine's Day! Cherish each other!
To all of you who are looking for someone, or even if you are not - Happy Valentine's Day!
Because frankly, you can't deny it - love is everywhere :)

Have a fabulous day! And if you don't know where to look for Love...see where I've found it - all the hearts above I collected during the last 12 months...simply looking around.
I told you - Love is everywhere ;-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

A change in strategy



Having been unemployed for a while one inevitably gives in to the overwhelming pressure from people around: 'You should try everything!','What if you don't like it so much, it's a job - apply for it!','You don't have many choices, do you? - then you should apply for whatever you find!', etc.

But nearly 40 applications later I am still at square one...and Deepak Chopra's Law of Pure Potentiality is echoing in my head -
"Imagine throwing a little stone into a still pond and watching it ripple. Then, after a while, when the ripples settle down, perhaps you throw another little stone. That's exactly what you do when you go into the field of pure silence and introduce your intention. In this silence, even the faintest intention will ripple across the underlying ground of universal consciousness, which connects everything with everything else. But, if you do not experience stillness in consciousness, if your mind is like a turbulent ocean, you could throw the Empire State Building into it, and you wouldn't notice a thing."

I have always been obedient to this law - I pick a target my heart strongly desires, I study it well, I focus on it, get still, set my eye in the target's center, set my intention too, and only then I let the arrow go. But lately I had lost my focus.

Luckily, a former boyfriend of mine told me this funny and smart story (that's why I like my boyfriends razor sharp!) -

In a forest a fox bumps into a little rabbit, and says, "Hi, junior, what are you up to?"
"I'm writing a dissertation on how rabbits eat foxes," said the rabbit.
"Come now, friend rabbit, you know that's impossible!" "Well, follow me and I'll show you." They both go into the rabbit's dwelling and after a while the rabbit emerges with a satisfied expression on his face.

Comes along a wolf. "Hello, what are we doing these days?"
"I'm writing the second chapter of my thesis, on how rabbits devour wolves."
"Are you crazy? Where is your academic honesty?"
"Come with me and I'll show you." As before, the rabbit comes out with a satisfied look on his face and a diploma in his paw. Finally, the camera pans into the rabbit's cave and, as everybody should have guessed by now, we see a mean-looking, huge lion sitting next to some bloody and furry remnants of the wolf and the fox.
The moral: It's not the contents of your thesis that are important -- it's your thesis advisor that really counts.

Back to my story - I finally regained part of my focus back. A good start! And I applied the Law of Pure Potentiality - I just sent an application in for a job I am really interested in, good fit to my skills, with opportunities to learn more, an adviser who seem a bit chaotic, but genuinely enthusiastic about what he does, great work location, and very importantly - I provided 3 top level references! Let's see how it all pan out.

In any case, I am pleased I found the courage to change my strategy to my liking :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

'Mainstreet'

You know these days when you wake up with a tune in your head? For no particular reason?

Today I woke up with the melody of Bob Seger's 'Mainstreet' in my head, the guitar solo so clear. I found it on YouTube and listened to it. Again and again...

"I remember standing on the corner at midnight
Trying to get my courage up
There was this long lovely dancer in a little club downtown
I loved to watch her do her stuff...'

I don't normally pay attention to song's lyrics, for me it's all about the music. But how surprisingly matching the words were to the confident guitar solo, the soothing beat of the song...and how hard I've been trying to get my courage up lately.

I love moments like this, when a few things will line up and synchronize - mood, music, words...
It feels blissfully perfect! And it gets my courage up!

Which tune did YOU wake up to?
How do you get YOUR courage up?
Take a moment and share a story...

And to get you in the mood, here is Mainstreet...