Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Do you like my Saturday flowers blogs? Yes, they only consist of a single photo ;-)
Because that's what they are all about... and here is why...
Once upon a time, I lived miserably in the UK. And I desperately wanted to return to the United States - my home. However Life threw a wrench in the works, and I had to look for a new job elsewhere. I applied for a job in the Netherlands, and I made a promise to myself - if I get the job I want, I will buy fresh flowers every Saturday! No matter what!
Well, in the Netherlands such promise is easy to keep, it doesn't even cost a lot...
But what's more important is to keep the promise, and I am! It's great to wake up on Saturday morning, have your morning coffee in town, and then pick some fresh flowers to brighten your days during the week to come! If I have visitors, I let them choose the flowers for me. It's lovely to have the flowers remind you of your friends after they leave. Even the rainy days are not so gloomy with some bright colored flowers!
I think I'm lucky with my decision to come to the Netherlands, and I'm happy to keep my promise!
ps. At the time of writing this blog I have cast on my leg, so...I will have to ask a friend to get the flowers for me this Saturday, but the promise must be kept! ;-)
WHERE WE STAND We crossed the line too many times Both, with kindness and with selfishness It isn’t clear where we stand I need to redefines my boundaries You want me as a trusted friend I want you as a friend and lover And while I’m keen on ‘open-end’ Doubt in your heart is hovering Not the we are any perfect Match selected by the stars But I felt our hearts were pumping stronger closely, than apart... (June 2010) REALIZATION ...I have to trust when nothing else is option ... My strengths and weaknesses adjust - part of an unstoppable comotion called life, and lust for it - the magic potion, ,I have to trust, will take me through the motions... (June 2010) 'AS IS' I felt an urge to tell you all - answer the questions I ignored As time is passing, my shield gets torn - I trust you with my soul You say I’m deep and fun, at once - could I be otherwise? I wonder… Like butterfly performing dance around a flame, without burning…I’m syncing our sins (May 2010) UNSPOKEN ...the food is always so delicious, the wine is smooth, the bread is fresh, pretend we not to be judicious, and easily succumb to flesh... you see by now two tangled bodies, refuse I firmly such decoy you feel like God, i feel like Goddess, let's take it slow and just enjoy... (April 2010) CONTRADICTIONS We live through UPs and DOWNs... What is an UP, what is a DOWN? Is it 'Give UP' the right direction? Is it 'Calm DOWN' a wrong sugestoin? My happiness might make one sad... My sunrise is someone's sunset... My only choice is ... move along, I have to be and I am STRONG! (July 2001) REINCARNATION Again... I put all the pieces together and glue them into a whole Me - laughing, loving, happy...whatever I've been always meant to be... (June 2001)
Summer days are over!
But one memory is here to stay - a memory of a summer weekend, when Bart and I went to the beach. The plan was to stretch on the warm sandy beach and forget about the world...instead we became part of the world...entering the World Beach Project .
We did try to sunbath for a bit, but the wind made the sand feel like sandpaper against your skin, so instead we played with the rocks.
You could see our modest art piece on the map (it loads slow!) - choose Europe, then zoom in on the Netherlands and you will see one of the markers is 'Hoek van Holland'
That's us :)
Hope you like it, and if you ever go to a rocky beach...play and join the project! It's fun! :-)
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
A few weeks ago a friend told me he'd found my blog and in his opinion my own entries are more interesting than the ones I quote from other sources. Could I get any better compliment? ;) Of course, the point was that my blog should carry my own thoughts...or else you will simpy buy a newspaper. Thus, I felt like I owe you my personal view on the article 'Why Intelligent People Fail'... so here it goes...my confession. First, I think the list of reasons well applies to both personal and professional side of life. And interestingly, both my personal and professional 'hick ups' could be attributed to the same weaknesess. At least I'm consistent! Lack of impulse control, spreading myself too thin and inability to delay gratification are my Achilles' heel. The common thread?...Lack of patience, hence the need for more and new activities to loose myself in...and I do! Too much adrenaline in my blood, I guess! But at the end of the day I often feel exhausted :( Now that I identified the problem (they say that's the first step towards resolving it), would I be able to do something about it? Let's see...and may be Part 3 of this post will follow. Until then, I'm open to hear your comments!
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Content from Sternberg, R. (1994). In search of the human mind. New York: Harcourt Brace. 1. Lack of motivation. A talent is irrelevant if a person is not motivated to use it. Motivation may be external (for example, social approval) or internal (satisfaction from a job well-done, for instance). External sources tend to be transient, while internal sources tend to produce more consistent performance. 2. Lack of impulse control. Habitual impulsiveness gets in the way of optimal performance. Some people do not bring their full intellectual resources to bear on a problem but go with the first solution that pops into their heads. 3. Lack of perserverance and perseveration. Some people give up too easily, while others are unable to stop even when the quest will clearly be fruitless. 4. Using the wrong abilities. People may not be using the right abilities for the tasks in which they are engaged. 5. Inability to translate thought into action. Some people seem buried in thought. They have good ideas but rarely seem able to do anything about them. 6. Lack of product orientation. Some people seem more concerned about the process than the result of activity. 7. Inability to complete tasks. For some people nothing ever draws to a close. Perhaps it’s fear of what they would do next or fear of becoming hopelessly enmeshed in detail. 8. Failure to initiate. Still others are unwilling or unable to initiate a project. It may be indecision or fear of commitment. 9. Fear of failure. People may not reach peak performance because they avoid the really important challenges in life. 10. Procrastination. Some people are unable to act without pressure. They may also look for little things to do in order to put off the big ones. 11. Misattribution of blame. Some people always blame themselves for even the slightest mishap. Some always blame others. 12. Excessive self-pity. Some people spend more time feeling sorry for themselves than expending the effort necessary to overcome the problem. 13. Excessive dependency. Some people expect others to do for them what they ought to be doing themselves. 14. Wallowing in personal difficulties. Some people let their personal difficulties interfere grossly with their work. During the course of life, one can expect some real joys and some real sorrows. Maintaining a proper perspective is often difficult. 15. Distractibility and lack of concentration. Even some very intelligent people have very short attention spans. 16. Spreading oneself too think or too thick. Undertaking too many activities may result in none being completed on time. Undertaking too few can also result in missed opportunities and reduced levels of accomplishment. 17. Inability to delay gratification. Some people reward themselves and are rewarded by others for finishing small tasks, while avoiding bigger tasks that would earn them larger rewards. 18. Inability to see the forest for the trees. Some people become obsessed with details and are either unwilling or unable to see or deal with the larger picture in the projects they undertake. 19. Lack of balance between critical, analytical thinking and creative, synthetic thinking. It is important for people to learn what kind of thinking is expected of them in each situation. 20. Too little or too much self-confidence. Lack of self-confidence can gnaw away at a person’s ability to get things done and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Conversely, individuals with too much self-confidence may not know when to admit they are wrong or in need of self-improvement. PS: I found this article interesting... And you?
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
On July 20, Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrates St. Ilia Day. According to the Christian religion St. Ilia is a Judaic prophet, a follower of Jehovah. In the Old Testament St. Ilia is known as an ascetic wanderer. In Bulgaria he is honored as sky patron. Ilinden is celebrated to prevent hail and thunderstorms. Whenever St. Ilia gets angry he either locks the rains into his cave or causes hailstorms. It is believed that St. Ilia crosses the sky in a golden chariot trying to kill the dragon that feeds on the wheat. When he shoots the dragon with arrows, on the sky appear thunder and lightening. St. Ilia's Day is celebrated by leather workers, fur dressers, tile makers and bakers. It is also a name day for everyone called Ilia, Ilian or Iliana.
ps: I did not write this blog entry, I found it in the webcashe of a non-exising page, so I don't even know who to thank about it, but I'm sharing it.
Hot summer day, middle of July... In the outskirts of Utrecht, my office has no air-conditioning, so the open window and door provide the life maintaining air draft in the near 30 deg C temperatures... I'm working quitely, and the humming of the cars on the nearby highway is substituting for the sound of the crickets I used to listen to during the summers back in Bulgaria...many years ago... And then, out of the blue, the roaring sound of a military airplane! Splitting the air in two and shattering the sky in pieces... Not so usual to hear these days! I feel a tasty adrenalin rush! I don't know where the plane came from and went to, but by the sound of it...it surely can't be too far, and it wasn't too high...the hair on my skin rises...for no other reason, but because this sound took me instantly down memory lane...and brought back sweet memories. Having grown up in a communist time Bulgaria, airforce was always alert and flying regularly in preparation for who knows what, or just to pretend we are ready to fight. The village I lived in was near by two military bases, and it was part of the summer fun with my Dad to listen to and watch the overflying MIGs or TUs airplanes and guess which way they are going, sometimes we'd see them, sometimes we would only hear the roar above the clouds, but we knew what the direction is, we also knew if they just took off of have been circling around. Ocasionally we would see formations of two or three planes, and being oblivious to the potential damaging power they had I would only see beauty in it. How easy it was to be a child...
Friday, July 09, 2010
The first time I heard of Yoga was back in school when I was a 12 years old teenager, frustrated with not being able to perform a split in my Physical Education class. My Dad told me that Yoga practitioners are the most flexible people, so perhaps I can learn from them. Luckily, my uncle had a book on Yoga, so I dived in it , but all I found was photos of what seemed to be impossible postures, description of breathing techniques which I failed at, and cleansing exercises. It was not too exciting at first, but I tried some simpler postures and with time I discovered that I was gaining flexibility, to the point that I could do a right split after some serious warm up. Success!
Back then I didn’t care that Yoga means ‘to unite’ and that just the stretching is not the real thing. What’s more, I was probably not even doing the postures quite properly, but nevertheless I kept practicing through the years and I’ve noticed that after a Yoga practice I feel calmer.
Years later, having just moved to the States, stress level in my life was getting unbearable. I tried some meditation techniques I was taught , but it was hard to apply them – my brain was like a busy beehive. So I thought of trying yoga, but this time in a more consistent manner. Every Saturday morning, Sunday evening, and once during the week, I would go to various Yoga centrrs in Tucson, Arizona, and that is how I found Ashtanga Yoga.
It was just what I needed – series of strength and stamina demanding postures, a lot of flexing and balancing, synchronized breathing, and as a result - a light and strong body, and a calm mind. In only a couple of months I had (at last!) discovered the true meaning of Yoga – to unite the body and the mind, and to put them in harmonious peace. It felt so uplifting! Daily life became more positive and energetic, yet more relaxed.
Years came and went, yoga being part of them, sometimes more regularly practiced, sometimes not so. I lived in many cities, but I never found as good teachers as the ones I had in Arizona (with exception to one, but I had to relocate). Also I could not find the Ashtanga style I was looking for.
This Monday I went to my first yoga class in Utrecht – Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga!
Bingo! Perfect click with the place, with the teacher, with the style, with the class pace! My old Yoga skills kicked in after just a couple of Sun Salutations! I felt so hungry for more that I went again on Tuesday! I realized that while going through my daily ToDo lists, going to work, settling in my new place, paying the bills, etc. etc …some of the balance between mind and body was lost, there was a bit of a disconnect. And just a couple of classes brought back the feeling of being United. You go into a posture with an open mind and determination to do it at the best you can, you breath in, the whole world disappears, you are into the posture, you let go off everything on your mind, and you feel the balance, the posture become easier, you enjoy it, you exhale…sublime!
Ashtanga teacher Anne Nuotio says: “It is close to an experience of beauty. As you balance you are not thinking, the feeling is so totalizing. It’s like experiencing a beautiful sight in nature. Those are the rare moments in yoga when you are in ecstasy. I don’t know how it looks, but feels divine.”
Not all asanas come always easy to me – then the teacher would have to come and straighten me out. And often, only a slight alignment, just a millimeter in the right direction and ‘click’ , it gets much easier to hold the pose.
I wonder … is it the same in life … is it a minute alignment that could make everything easier and so much more enjoyable…with the right teacher…? And while I’m waiting for the answer of this and many other questions…I will diligently practice Ashtanga.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
photo: Stephanie McCabe via Unsplash
I have not been American Citizen for long, yet the 4th of July is a very special day for me, captivating the spirit of independence, the uniting of a nation, and the warm friendliness the festivities come with. Friends and families gather to fire a BBQ and have some good time, crowds fill the stadiums for rock concerts including inevitably a 'The Star-Spangled Banner' performance, fireworks light the evening sky for a glorious ending of Independence Day. I had a very different 4th of July this year...partly because I chose so, and partly because it happened so...and like always, life's surprises push my mind to wander and discover... I live in the Netherlands now, 3 months already. I like it a lot! Well, I like it so far... ;) Moving to a new country engages all these forgotten survival skills, that go lethargic after you've lived long enough in the same place. It forces you to look at life from a new perspective, to open up for new experiences. That makes me feel young in spirit, alive! I was lucky to meet quite a lot of people in the very first weeks, and make a few good friends right away. So, when 4th of July approached it was a no-brainer that a party was in order! Let the fun begin! I've always been social and when flamboyant mood strikes me, a party for 20 or more is not unusual, I like to bring people together, I like to mix various personalities, with the one goal - let's have a good time and enjoy life! Space has never been a problem, spending money on drinks and food either, so...you get the idea. Very surprisingly, this year I felt strongly that a big party is not going to work well... Something had changed. Somehow a shift has happened, and for the first time I didn't need to invite many, I didn't crave the crowd. There was the urge to change the scale of events. I wanted only the people I care about, only the people I have meaningful relationships with. I realized I was exhausted from spreading thin in terms of people. It's funny! As a child I always wanted to have many many friends...and now I do, but I don't have the time for them...Life always finds a way to frustrate us The party was small - six people in total. But not short of anything - mai-tai drinks with real orchid flowers, chicken, steak and fish on the BBQ, corn and potatoes, fresh guacamole and chips, plenty of wine, music, dancing, singing ... we even had a Birthday Boy, what else could you ask for! I thought of Terry Pratchet's book 'The Carpet people' - 'All you need to be happy is soft toilet paper, warm soup, and a few kind words'. Well...I think we had it all. I loved the simplicity of the evening, the sincerity and the intimacy. It felt like never before, and it made me feel complete...
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Being an expat during a World Cup Championship is tricky. Which country to cheer for, what if your favorite team is playing the team of your friends, but it is a fun time nevertheless. I can't tell you what moves me most - is it that something as simple as a game with a ball is uniting nations? is it to see the glowing happy faces of the winning team? is it the ocasional player breaking in tears after a loss? It is a strongly emotional time - determinatin to win, years of hard work on the line, pride, determination, loyalty...Football is like no other sport! Watching the World Cup in the Netherlands is an experience like never I seen before. Streets all in orange, and the national flag, everybody wearing orange on a game day...the atmosphere is fantastic! I watched Netherlands wining over Slovakia in a pub with a colleague. The place was packed, and with one common want in mind, it was great to be part of the crowd. Screams, shouts, cheers, the vibe was unbelievable! I thought I had seen it - the Dutch way of enjoing a game! But then a week later, another great game and the Netherlands won over Brazil! The the oranje madness hit the city! It was like Queen's day is happening again...an orange sea was flooding the center of Utrecht and everyone was so excited, so deliriously happy, drunk from the pleasure of winning! And I was in the middle of it...unbelievably easy to forget about all else, and celebrate, and be happy to be in the right place at the right time! Go Holland!!!
Friday, July 02, 2010
In the Netherlands 'Cabaret' is something that we in the States would call a stand-up comedy show, plus some more music. But the devil is in the details, so let's move on past the definition... :)
After only three months of exposure to Dutch language and culture, I bravely went to my first cabaret show - we watched the Olaf and Jasper's Meuk . With the help of a couple of beers, and Bart translating a couple of words for me (oplossing
= solution, being the key one!), I managed to grasp about half of the jokes, and laughed out loud. Not bad! Despite the akwardness of being the only one at times that has no idea what has been said, and why the audience is explauding with laughter, I had a lot of fun!
It turned out that after 12 years, this was one of Olaf and Jasper's last shows. Jammer! By the time I speak Dutch they will be off the waggon...oh, well!
It was moving to see someone from the crowd offering presents to the cabaret-performers at the end of the show. They also received (from what I understood!) life-long pass to come and have a drink in this perticular Utrecht's venue - the Schiller Theater 'Place Royale'. Althought small in size, the Schiller Theater is a lovely place. Dating back to 1906, the building has always been a stage for performing arts.
Well, for those of you that speak Dutch, here is something from Olaf and Jasper!
And for those you don't - you would have to trust me - it WAS fun!
Laghing out loud is one of my most favorite things to do :)
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Munching pretzels, sipping ice-cold coke and listening to music.
Wearing a simple dress, loose flip-flops...and letting the air tickle my skin.
Soon I'll hop on the bike and let the wind mess my hair.
All awhile the air smells so sweetly of linden tree blossoms.
Summer is here...and I love it :)
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
how do I remember pain? how do I foresee it's coming, so I avoid it... how do I remember lie? how do I detect the patterns, so that I break them... how do I remember loss? how do I predict the outcome, so I advance... how do I remember hope? how do I backtrack the path to it, so I don't lose it... how do I remember strenth? how do I prepare myself, so I move on... how do I remember smile? how do I engaged the muscles, so I can laugh again... how do I remember love? how do I foreknow it's happening, so I submit to it...
Monday, June 28, 2010
Have you ever known someone who you would get into an argument with, and tension will escalate to the point of no return, and not only that, but you'd never want to speak to that person again, never ever, even years later....never...Have you?
I think I have.
We met on the internet, then in person, then we had it great for about 8 months, love was in the air, and then in just 2 days together it all collapsed in the ugliest way. According to him I was a very negative person, pretentious, self-centered, looking down on people, rude and emotionless. He wondered how I could possibly have friends.
Well, I know I am not perfect, and I probably did a few things wrong during these two days. Nevertheless, to hear such judgment is harsh. But they say everyone is entitled to their opinion, so I faced the fact that I have no place in this man's life and moved on.
After a while I overcame the pain, but I could not stop wondering...how was it possible - we got along so well for eight months, and then in just two days something so radically off the charts took place?!
I let time do its healing magic for about two years, and then I decided to call this man again, for the good time's sake...to try to bridge the gap filled with questions, hoping I could learn something about people in general, or something about me, or just out of curiosity for human kind.
Well, within the first minute of our phone call I realized some gaps can't be bridged, some gaps will never be closed, and perhaps...they should stay that way. Let them be the lessons from which we learn and grow...and move on!
And so I did, deleting his name and number from my phone.
On the other hand, another man...a random man I see every Saturday on the flower market. He sells flowers. His flowers are just as good as everyone else's are, his prices are just as good as everyone else's are, but he always have less buyers around. And I don't feel the urge to buy from him either...not sure why.
Last Saturday I just stood at the market and watched...he would stand behind his flowers and shout 'Fresh flowers! 3 bunches for 5, 3 bunches for 5!' But as soon as a client gets closer, he would stop shouting, and just stand there still. Not saying a word, not encouraging the people to buy, not offering a suggestion, or just the casual small talk...it felt like he didn't have the communication bit going.
I decided to buy from him that day, I tried my handicapped-Dutch, I smiled a lot, I looked into his eyes, I tried to make a connection - a simple connection with another human being. And it worked! At least it seemed to me that his face got a bit brighter , even for that short time, he smiled and it felt good.
I don't think I will always buy my flowers from him, but on that day I decided to do it, for the sake of approching the ones that are probably most troubled and distant from the crowd. And as my Dutch gets better, I will try to chat him up and hear his story...
On that day I bought red peonies - I once read that according to Feng Shui, peony flowers bring love to one's life...and I hope they do, because once loved, we then easily spread love around...and everything falls into place.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
If memory still serves me right, I have moved 28 times in my almost 38 year long life. At times with more excitement, at times just because I had to. Moving a floor or two higher, or thousand of miles away, a move is a move.
As soon as all my boxes are in the new abode, I intuitively tune in to the sounds and the scents it comes with. For some reason (very probably a basic animalistic instinct!) getting familiar with them is my way to bond with the place and start feeling safe, at home. It doesn't matter if it is the humming noise of the fridge, or the smell of a new laminate floor...they simply add some coziness and give the place a unique character.
The sounds of Utrecht are magical!
I don't even know where to begin...
I wake up to the sound of bycicles rushing in the morning, high heels walking the pavement, kids chattering lively on the way to school...or if later in the morning on the weekend - church bells and chimes. I simply loooove the sounds of church bells! Occasionally, I'll hear a rooster...have no idea who has it and where they keep it, but there you go - there are roosters in Utrecht. Even the noisy garbage truck on Friday morning sounds friendly. And if you happen to be in the garden around 7pm, dinner time in the Netherlands, you will hear the familiar sound of silverware and plates through the open windows of the neighbor's apartment above...so cozy!
I moved to Utrecht at the end of March, and they say it's best to move to a new place in Spring time, so you see it at its best. I think I did it right! Spring was in the air - fresh and crispy, filled with the gentle scent of green grass, blooming trees and first flowers, so full of optimism! Then for a week it was the season of white, blue and purple acacia flowers climbing up outside walls and fences. Their light sweet smell is the perfect companion for a late night walk. A week later - lilac bushes were in their prime! Intoxicating scent that makes me close my eye every time I smell a lilac bloom. Haven't you?
Another week of warm weather, and the Queen of all flowers took over the stage. Roses were everywhere and their scent filled the air, much lighter than the lilacs, but so much more refined, as if asking for special attention, as if holding back and playing a game...ok, a rose is a rose! :)
And this week...another magic happens - the Linden trees ("Tilia cordata",http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilia) started blooming! They really fill the air with such calming sweet scent, so familiar from my childhood, that I can't help it but to smile every time I inhale it. One can also make a delicious tea from the linden tree flowers...but that goes beyond sounds and scents :)
At work, I enjoy listening to the wind going through the crowns of the birch, maple and oak trees under my window. And the occasional ambulance in the distance...:)
At home, I love the company of the birds' songs...not for nothing I live in the Vogelenbuurt ('The Birds' neighborhood')
1. And when for a walk in Griftpark, the most sublime pleasure is to hear the clock tower bells, inhale deeply the cool afternoon air filled with the wisdom of the day, and while looking at the grand Dom tower silhouette, to let the last Sun rays for the day kiss my face with warmth...
Friday, June 18, 2010
If wanting to have a British car on the Continent, one inevitably has to change the headlights - it's the law! After numerous phone calls to Toyota, three drives there and five times getting lost in the highway spider web in midst of which Utrecht is placed...I managed to leave my car in the shop, hoping that I did communicate clearly what needs to be done.
And then came the reward for all that hassle - one day rental Toyota Prius!
You know I love my "grand cherry" Toyota Aygo, but ... once you push the start button of the Prius, you know we are talking a whole different game!!!
I had almost forgotten how a real automatic gearbox feels, how fast the acceleration is, how smooth the ride...It's such a feeling!
Very, VERY tempting to take the day off and just drive around the NL highways, and indulge the speed! Who cares that I just attended an OMI Science Meeting talking about air pollution, climate change and such...
The masculine power, the full control, the pleasure of driving a good car...So simple, yet so fun! Even for a day!
And tomorrow ... I'll hop again on the bicycle and pretend to be Dutch :)
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Words are extremely powerful...
and a picture might be worth a thousand words...
but a melody...
it takes you places only you (secretly in your mind) know about...
it brings up feelings (you keep only to yourself) to the surface...
it heals your spirit (that no one knew was broken) like magic...
makes you dream again...
brings life in your veins...
it let you JUST BE...
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
..the coat hanger is still laying on top of the shoe cabinet, the lader is still serving as a coat hager - now in the common entry it could well annoy my neghbour...the clock, the 'short cirquit', my portrait are still waiting to be hung on the walls, patio chairs missing, wind constantly blowing away the cherry pattern table cloth, a pile of cables remain unmanaged in the corner...and a few other things not yet tended to ... so what, this chaos is only begging for time.
in my head though, things are amazingly calm - no big plans, no promisses, no stress...things are just going well and I love it...when a smile is the first thing I see when I wake up, and a kiss is next...I feel on top of the world...
in my head though, things are amazingly calm - no big plans, no promisses, no stress...things are just going well and I love it...when a smile is the first thing I see when I wake up, and a kiss is next...I feel on top of the world...