Friday, January 25, 2013

Australia

Remember the poll I had on my blog?

Will I move yet again to another country, and this time...to Australia?

Well, now that I am already 'down under', here is the story... coming out just in time for 26 January, Australia Day.


The truth is, when I first posted 'Let's play' and the poll along with it, I was driven by pure childish curiosity :-) What does Life have in store for me? Back in October 2010 (hard to believe that more than two years have passed since then!) I was madly in love with a young man whose big dream was to move to Australia. I sincerely wished him that his dream come true. But if so, what would have happened to me? would he ask me to join? would I go? after all, I had just followed my own dream - moving to the Netherlands, and I was so incredibly happy... 



There is no way I could have foreseen that the romance would crack and that I would lose my job shortly after, that I would be unemployed for an entire year, that my spirit would weaken and I would apply for jobs wherever there are, just so I can support myself again. At the end, I landed in Australia - just like that, never seriously thinking it would happen. 

They say 'God moves in a mysterious way'...I'd say, life happens in a mysterious way, at least that's how my Australia story unfolds... 

Friday, January 04, 2013

Happy New Year





Far away from home, from friends and the ones I love...what better way to welcome 2013 than amidst a cheerful crowd of 17000 (just one of the fireworks vista points), enjoying the amazing light show over Sydney's harbor, the silhouette of the Opera House ... and whispering Happy New Year!

The fireworks movie can be downloaded here (.m4v format) or here (.mov format).
Enjoy!

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...

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Real Thanksgiving - finally!


Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, but having lived in the US for a while and being a US citizen now...I couldn't help it but learn to appreciate Thanksgiving. It comes with less stress than Christmas - no presents, no cards to mail, but it is an equally lovely holiday to get together with family and friends, and simply sit back and relax... with plenty of food on the table, of course!
After 3 years abroad (with relation to the US) and no, the turkey nuggets at the Reading Movie Theater do not count as real turkey, I was already craving a real turkey meal for Thanksgiving and that's how it all started.
Steph, my Canadian friend and a passionate cook, and I started planing a cozy Thanksgiving dinner for 6, or 8, or 10 people ... at most. But one thing led to another and before we knew it we had a list of 20+ guests...Thanks to Pete and Ginger, an American couple with special 'connections', a day trip in the countryside secured a 21.45lb turkey and half that weight chunk of ham! Way to go!
For those of you who know me...I am not a great cook...nor am I keen on waking up early, especially on the weekend...but on that choosen Saturday, in the name of Friendship and Good times, I got up at 6:30am to heat the oven and start baking the turkey!
I went back to bed with the alarm set for an hour later, but the anticipation of having a real Thanksgiving bash and friends around kept me up. The rest is history! See the photos...
The Turkey cooked perfectly! Everyone brought some food, so we had tons of side dishes and deserts! And drinks! And happy people :)
And a Real Thanksgiving - Finally!

Beer Tasting Party - Reloaded


Beer Tasting Party 2010 (The Original) took place in October 2010.
Because of its success and attendees' interest the Beer Tasting Party returned! :)
But what is a Beer Tasting Party?
In a nutshell - everybody brings 3-5 beers - as exotic and rare as possible! Then we try and enjoy the variety of 'liquid gold'!
For the full story...click HERE

This year's facts:

Beers emptied : 116
Smallest beer : 250ml
Biggest beer : 2 liters
Lightest beer : 3.5%
Strongest beer : 11.3%
Attendees : 26 people and 2 toddlers (the little ones did NOT drink!)
Average beer intake : 4.46

Beer came in glass bottles, cans and one plastic bottle.
The list of names is long, but worth mentioning 'Tasty Lady' and 'Iki' :)
There was beer from Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaia, Greece, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Jamaica, The Netherlands (rather large variety!) and...of course, BELGIUM!
Special guest was Bart Van Kuik's Home Made Brew! Tasted by many and liked by all! :)

Goof up: 1) A beer from last year's party was kept in my fridge - sentimental value (Praght's Extra Stout). Well, it was not spared :) Pieter claimed it tasted well! O'right then! As long as ambulance is not needed ;-)
2) Poor Birsen traveled to Brussels for her beer contribution...only to find out she has to be in Paris on the night of fun and beer ;-)

Cheating: Quite a lot of cheating happened this year...4 bottles of wine, 1 Bacardi Black, 1 Bombay Gin...but the Liquid Gold Gods are forgiving :)

Closing line:
Dear friends, thank you all so very much for joining the party with genuine enthusiasm, specially selected beers and the perfect attitude for a good time! It was a night to remember and it will be remembered! :)

Photos: Click HERE

See you in 2012!
Cheers!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Making friends...yet again

( This post is dedicated to Fleur who gently reminds me it's time for another post )



No matter the reason...you've recently moved. You've moved to a different city, state, country or continent. You've settled more or less now and as much as you enjoy your own company...you start feeling like you want to have near by friends to do fun things with, spend time with, have a drink, share a hobby.
But how do you make friends...yet again?
Where do you look for the people you would have things in common with?
How do you approach them?

I started writing this post some time ago, from an expat's point of view.
But recently my cousin changed her job and the city she lives in, staying in the same country she grew up in, and a few months later she asked me: 'I start to feel lonely in my new city. You always have so many friends. How do you find them?'
So, it's not just the expats... :)
Truth to be told, I do have many friends.
It's a dream come true, as when I was a child I was very shy and I was often avoided in school.
Now I treasure my acquaintances and friends!
They are my quintessential survival tool as an expat!
They make the world smaller and cozier.

So, here is what I can share 'dissecting' my Face Book Friend's list...and, of course, I have more friends than that :)

About 1/4 of them are former/current colleagues who have become friends of mine.
Another 1/4 are people I met through friends. Friends of friends is the easiest way! But what if you are the new kid on the block?
I hope you find this useful -
I have made 16 friends on Couch Surfing (hosting, surfing, CS events),
15 friends at MeetUp (and similar) events, 12 at Language classes, and 10 while traveling.

CouchSurfing, MeetUp and Language gatherings are best for expats and especially if you are not exactly an extrovert and outgoing person! You could surf with or host people who are similar to you, or attend local CS event to meet the city gang.
MeetUp groups could be dedicated to a hobby, particular sport, food... you name it! And if there is no group in your city, you could start one!
Language classes - not only learn the language of your choice, but meet people with interest in the same culture, or if you are already expat ... meet other expats.
Travel - this is my specialty! I like to chat up people while traveling and before you know it - you have a friend - in a pub, on the plane, in the dorm, on a boat ride...

The rest of my friends are a colorful mix of college-mates, relatives, people I met at community events, etc. The key is - get out, get exposed...you won't make friends by staying home. Unless of course you throw a party and you ask your friends to bring along someone :)
I recently saw a guy in the park - he chatted up a girl, they were both reading books, 2 meters apart...a simple conversation about the weather, origins, travel was followed by exchange of phone numbers.

Some less usual ways of meeting people and making some of my best friends - the guy who's toddler spilled milk on me waiting for my flight, the lady I rented a room from, the nurse in the dermatologist office, my realtor, a couple of on-line dates, the best friend of an ex-BF, the GF of the guy I had a crush on, and a 'one night stand' who somehow turned into a great friend for many years now :)

All it takes is an open mind, a smile and a simple 'Hello!'
At times you would have to repeat it. It takes some patience and a chance to find the people to click with. But it's worth it! I think I have been lucky many times...but then again, I am always open to a new friend and that favors the odds.

Here are some useful links:
www.MeetUp.com - global site for local gatherings
www.CouchSurfing.org - global site for travel-lovers
www.InterNations.org - global site for expats and locals networking events

If you are in the Netherlands, try:
http://www.britsoc.nl
http://www.iamexpat.nl
http://www.insego.com

Good luck! :)



Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs, Thank you!


Exactly two days ago, on 4th October, a friend and I exchanged these comments on FB:

‎Friend:'3 apples changed the world, 1st one seduced Eve, 2nd fell on Newton and the 3rd was offered to the world half bitten by Steve Jobs'
Me:'Was Steve Jobs also naked when he bit the apple?'
Friend:'good question, let me know the ph number, i'll call him to ask :P'
Me:'http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Steve_jobs_phone_number'
Friend:'steve jobs made a good point, was newton naked as well!! now i am not calling him to ask this'
Me: :)

It was fun!
But it also reminded me of Steve Job's Stanford Commencement Speech, which another friend shared with me years ago. It is a profound speech, and I have listened to it again and again when life gets rough... I thought - not only is he a technological and creative genius, but he is also a very genuine and wise man, brave to share his personal story.

Connecting the dots...
Love and Loss...
Death...

For these who don't know me, I have been having an year from hell - within a month I lost the man I love, my job, and my home. And I'm living on my own abroad, in a country who's language I don't speak. So yesterday, 5th Octover, I watched Steve's speech again to find hope, because after all ... I am alive and I am a fighter... I even wrote down his words, they are so inspirational!

In a moment of admiration I visited the Apple website, looked at his photo (the one in this post) and I thought... Thank you, Steve!

Little did I know that on that same day his life will end...
I'm shaking my head in disbelieve, yet life is like that.

I won't rant about the greatness of Apple and their products. This post is about Steve!

I will miss this great man, but I won't forget his words!

And I will live by them...
Thank you, Steve!




PS. Thank you Soham, Arzu, Alex and Erik, for many things...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One amazing weekend!



I have to! I have to recap this w/end. Because it was an amazing one!
It was so colorful and diverse - in terms of weather, cities, things I did, emotions I felt, but most importantly - the people I was surrounded by, literally and virtually! And in hindsight, I loved every moment of it!
The weather - nice and warm when I left Utrecht, rather chilly Friday night in Groningen, quite rainy Saturday, and lovely sunshine on Sunday - everywhere I went.
The cities - Zwolle, Groningen, Amsterdam and Utrecht.
The events:
- Super awesome Swingin Groningen Jazz and Soul Festival - with Benny Golson, Candy Dulfer, Kraak & Smaak, Billy Cobham quartet, which lead to a MeetUp / CouchSurfing gatherings and drinks with Mannus, Muhsin, Indiana, Koos, Mike, Anna, and Erik. I loooved the Benny Golson performance! Reminded me of the great times in Chicago, and further back in time - learning about jazz with my boyfriend Alex and my friend Ivo, and even further back - listening to jazz for the first time as a child on a short wave radio with my Dad. Sweet! I also enjoyed the more dancing jazz and soul tunes.
- A stroll through Groningen in the rain, with Mannus - including discovering a quaint square by the University, an eclectic photo exhibit, a lovely garden, a backgammon game (I won!)
- A delicious Dim Sum brunch with Ray in Amsterdam which turned into a leisurely stroll along canals, across bridges...sneaking bravely into the Grand Hotel to check the Marriage Chamber - ignore the name, it's an amazing hidden art-deco gem!!! Also played the piano in the hallway! Yes! Popped in a great chocolate shop (you knew I love chocolate, right?), the ever so inspirational RoB shop, De Jaren for drinks...did I miss anything? Oh, I laughed a lot!
- Going away dinner with the Fantastic Four (well, Five now) - Vero, Paul, Isabel, Mette, and Markus. A bit sad to see some friends moving away, but good to know one has good friends!
- Phone call with a dear friend of mine - loved to hear her laugh!
- Skype chat with my parents - poor they! Had not called them in a while! Guilty! :)
- A group Reiki energy exchange - with people from the UK, Ireland, Russia, the Netherlands, US, and Germany. I am so at peace now!

Excerpts of a random conversation:
'How long were you with your last boyfriend?'
'I don't measure relationships in terms of time, but in terms of intensity.'
'So how intense was it?'
'It made my every body cell alive!'

'How far do you usually travel to work?'
'These days distances are measured not in kilometers, but in hours...so 1-2 hours.'
'And how long would you travel to meet a girl?'
'As far as it would make me happy.'

Today I woke up with a sense of sweetness from life - for the first time in a couple of months. I smiled and smiled and smiled! Until it hurt, and then I smiled some more!

I found My Happy Place ...again!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

1 Pomodoro, 2 Pomodoros, 3 Pomodoros


A few years ago I bought a simple digital alarm clock from IKEA. I managed to set it without reading the instruction booklet. So far so good. Shortly after that I started hearing beeping sounds, but as they were single beeps and not too loud, I could not figure out where there were coming from. Finally, on a weekend, after a few hours on the sofa reading a book, I had an Eureca! moment - my clock was beeping once every hour. At first it felt annoying, but soon I realized it was a good reminder of time passing by, especially when I was doing something very lazy and slowly (while actually it could have been done much faster).

Last year a friend mentioned Pomodoro to me. It is based on the same idea, but it's much better!!! Why?
Because you can set the timer to 25min, 45min...anything you like, or anything suitable to the kind of tasks you do.
Because after '1 Pomodoro' (the length of time you work), you have to take a break of a few minutes (also timed!). It is important to take the break!
Because during the Pomodoro time you are not allowed to answer the phone, have a snack, or get distracted, which maintains your focus and makes you more productive.

You may be like me at first and already think that the Pomodoro technique is too simple, or too annoying, or too...whatever, but once I tried it I was sold on it! And I wish I had started using it sooner. Because it really works and improves time management.

This blog was written in one Pomodoro of 30 minutes. Now I'll have my well deserved break. And you....go download the Pomodoro timer and let me know how it works for you :)


PS. Thanks go to E. Pragt for introducing me to Pomodoro.