Moving to a new blog

Hello!

After realizing there were readers who started following me on this blog, which I am really grateful for, I’ve decided to let you know that I’ll be posting mostly on my other blog from now on, which features a lot of pieces about self improvement, but also about writing and motivation, as well as some posts on food and life in general. So feel welcome to come by any time, leave comments, engage in discussions and feel inspired!

Daria

Clouds

When I sit on my balcony and watch the clouds pass trough the sky – I live on the 8th floor – I truly feel as if those giant cumuli were some kind of Titans: powerful and huge yet shapeshifting with ease within the infinite space of the sky, that seems so close to the top of my head and yet is immense and infinite. Right now, after the rain, an enormous grayish cumulus is set right in front of the soon setting sun, allowing the sun’s rays to spread from its top and bottom, much like beautiful wings of an everlasting god that holds not only light but the promise of an inextinguishable golden source. 

Some of the giant clouds are ripped apart by small breaches that let the wandering eye discover other shades of those divinities: blue, and white, and violet, and pink. 

I feel as if it were a whole universe there, on top of us, humans, who are accustomed to live gazes down, and it makes me understand that surely the Sky, and the Clouds, and the Sun, and the Moon, and all of the Stars are the true flesh of which the greatest Myths are made of. 

I love living on the 8th floor. I’m close to the gods. 

Birthday

On Saturday I turned twenty five.

As I woke up that morning, much later than planned, around 10:30, I felt peaceful, relieved and determined at the same time.

Peaceful, because I knew not only for a fact, but truly in my heart that worrying would get me nowhere. I connected with my inner wisdom, certainly the one that comes with great age, and decided it was unproductive to blame myself for waking up so late instead of beginning my birthday at 6 or 7 a.m. as had been planned the night before. But the night before I had to work on the beautiful dress I had made my god-daughter an it took me some time to transform it a bit so it could fit, so I went to bed late and missed the “beaty sleep” alarm. Things don’t always go as planned, even those you plan for yourself. Something can get in the way and it’s up to us not to blame the circumstances… well not too much at least. Today I grasped at last that every step I take is a new step, that musn’t be compared to the one before and musn’t be an example for the next one: the fact that I got up at 11 a.m. and had a breakfast that could feed a bunch of people for two days doesn’t mean that I will spend an awful day on the couch. With a little more laughing at oneself and a little less self-pitying anything can be turned around, at any time.

Every day is a day by itself. A new birth and a little death, all within 24 hours. Every day is a possibility and is full of possibilities.

As every day brings the promise of new and endless possibilities, the day we celebrate our birth is special because it is a landmark and because it has the properties of one. In the space of your entire life, your birthday gives you the opportunity to see where and when you stand in your life. For example, as I’m turning 25, I can reflect on the quarter of a century that got wrapped up that day and/or imagine and plan the 25 years ahead. It works, of course, if you’re one of those people who know what they want from life and who can plan where they will be in five, ten or twenty years. It’s not that I don’t like to plan or that I’d rather leave  it to the convenient fate, but I think the best way of living is living now, in this moment, in this second, because you don’t know what can happen next. Today I felt the life, my life, going through me, forming a line from the moment of my birth to this first great milestone of twenty-five.

I felt as if I was waiting to turn twenty-five for many years, living the life of an adult without really considering myself to be one. On saturday, as I woke up in the morning, everything fell into place. I feel whole, adult, woman.

Of course, those kind of feelings can come to you at any age. I was the first surprised to learn that for me twenty-five was the big number, the scary one but also the important one. Hell, for how long have I tried to look like or behave like women in their mid-twenties without realizing I was getting too much ahead and spoiling the fun of living at my own pace! Now that I’m twenty-five, I feel like I don’t have to copy anyone anymore, as if I myself became a potential role-model for those who are yet uncertain about their adulthood. It sounds kind of silly, if not wrong: nobody should ever copy anyone and even less rely on numbers to feel oneself growing. Still, wisdom works in mysterious ways.

As a result of this mind shifting, everything I did before as a chore, I see now as natural activity of the woman and adult I’ve become.

I am very glad.

 

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca

 

Living on the edge

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What if this day is the last day of my life?

Yesterday, I drifted off to sleep with this thought in my head. As much as any person checking his or her e-mails, Facebook or twitter account every day, I am constantly surrounded by more than needed voices of advice, of so-called wisdom and truth about life, virtual voices that not only thrive by telling those who hear them what to do but also pushing people – and myself amongst them – to the edge. “Seize the day”, “The best time to do anything is NOW”, “Experience life like there is no tomorrow”, “Today is the day” are affirmations we hear here and there, more often here than there: these are all true, and the advice that comes along – to live life to the fullest – is also a good advice. The problem is, when we realize the time we spend listening to those kind of affirmations, surfing on the internet in search of the perfect recipe to live the perfect life, we end up doing more planning than actually living. And, the bigger problem with the concept of perfection itself is that it makes you live as though you must be accountable for your actions and appearances to someone else that yourself entirely, even if it is to the virtual world of media, Internet and Facebook.

So how come those wisdoms turned into something almost dreadful? Is it because you stumble upon them even when you don’t ask for it? In our modern society, have they come to play the role of some kind of glamorous new age big brother that triggers more guilt than an actual willingness to take action? My guess is that those affirmations are a product of a paradox: what several decades ago could have been found only by reading books or listening to wise people and thus were the final stage, the product of a personal search, that lasted at least for the time of reading, or listening, or watching, and, as a consequence, required a personal investment of time and thought, – is now available in more ways that I could think of. Our technologies give us the possibilities to go straight to the result, without burdening ourselves with overcoming the difficulties of the search. And as a result, we are constantly exposed to an infinite wisdom. But wisdom doesn’t exist by itself: is was, and still is, a personal achievement. It’s never enough to just hear or read something wise, you have to put it into action. Unfortunately, when faced with a million of advices and “truths”, one can be quite lost. And feel quite guilty if one’s life doesn’t always correspond to what is being displayed out there.

I took the photo above this morning, at 8:30 a.m. A few minutes after that, the pattern changed completely and the sky turned plain blue. Sometimes, more often than not, I have to force myself to do things: not because I’m lazy, well, not entirely. Mostly because I know I would feel so much better when I get this or that thing done. I’ve found it’s also good to remind myself from time to time what makes me feel good, whether it is writing, reading, taking a bath or doing yoga. I am almost afraid if I find myself relieved when reading something like “it is ok to do this or that”. I can only imagine how deep other people’s thoughts and behaviors have rooted in me. I have found that we sometimes thrive to overachieve, or, on the contrary, do literally nothing, just to prove a point : that we either are a “normal” person, or are “different”. I would like my eagerness to be different to not prevent me from doing things that are essential to me, that make me live and breathe. Otherwise I call it depression.

Hence, I seize my moment and take a picture of the gorgeous sky before it fades away. I set an intention for my day, that so far isn’t really going as planned, but I’m the only one responsible for that.

Perfect fit

As I was walking around today buying stuff like lightbulbs and home made organic soap to bring as gifts to my friends stuck in France for the summer, I was truly, deeply happy to enjoy my last few days of summer here, on the coast of the Black Sea. I used to come here ever since I was a little girl, and even lived there for a while with my grandparents. This little town by the sea had since become my sacred childhood place, where I literally know every stone and have stories to tell about every bench. The place is so secluded from the outside (western) world, that even though I spent every day literally sunk in the Internet for three to four hours, trying to work on my dissertation, leisurely browsing through Facebook and sometimes gathering my creating strength to write here or on my computer, I didn’t feel any pressure from all those things that I now realize draw me back when I’m in Paris. My relationship with food is one great example of how this kind of homecoming does wonders for my well-being. The words “vegan” or “gluten-free” don’t exist here, and when I explained to the guy who sells hand-crafted shoes why I didn’t wore nor ate animals, he asked me if I was in the “Green Party”. I’m not saying I did change my views on nutrition or animal rights while on vacation here, but I certainly slowed down on the fanatism: people who live here, especially the old generation, live by their own rules, those that were of course shaped during the soviet era, but most importantly those that subsisted in spite of the political, economical and cultural winds of change that blew hard on the island of Crimea for the past seven decades or so. Their misunderstanding of my ecological views and vegan lifestyle, for example, are not the same as, for instance, the misunderstanding I’m thrown against in France and all the western world. Food is a matter of subsistance, not trends (btw, I am not calling veganism a trend, I’m just saying it is obviously being made into one), and “organic” is not even a word, because if you want dairy or eggs, you buy it from some old lady who has five chicken and a cow and who makes her own cottage cheese. So when I tell people how I eat, they nod  with compassion, thinking I’m just following a diet to lose weight or stay slim. Few of them realize how lucky they are to live in a place where almost everything you eat (I’m talking about fruits and veggies and dairy) is by definition organic, and this is a good thing: when your life is free of struggle, you can concentrate on the important things.

I think most of the struggle we put up with in our daily lives, be it about finding organic food and mastering clean eating or listening to ourselves in order to find what makes us happy – most of this struggle is the one we create. When we listen to others – and especially the “bad kind” of others, a.k.a advertisement, magazines, even our friend’s feeds on facebook, – we lose track of what we really want and what our body really needs. As Baloo from the Jungle Book said:

Look for the bare necessities

The simple bare necessities

Forget about your worries and your strife

I mean the bare necessities

Old Mother Nature’s recipes

That brings the bare necessities of life!

I mean, ain’t that the wisest thing?

To put it bluntly, I know I create most of my struggles when I try to find those “bare necessities” where they simply aren’t to be found, i.e. in magazines or tv-shows. When searching like crazy through the Internet for something Internet doesn’t offer by its definition, that is something unique that suits only me, I am bound to find only disappointment, or worse, the feeling that the problem lies within myself and not google. I used to spend most of my days surfing on celebrities websites only to find the one actress or singer I could identify myself with and this only to measure myself to the standard of her proportions; I used to buy stuff on Amazon, pressing like crazy the “buy in 1-click” button until my bank account turned to red – only to surround myself with stuff I didn’t even knew I needed but that I’d heard somewhere was essential; I used to stare at the tv day and night watching and rewatching shows from my childhood only to give me the illusion impression that I was at last closing a once opened door and thus was “growing up”. This sounds pathetic and for the most part is.

I guess the main reason I went on creating struggles for myself is that I was always trying to find the “perfect thing”: the search for the perfect pair of shoes made me buy dozens of them, because the subconscious thought that what I was buying was only a temporary fix prevented me from either buying something really beautiful and expensive or enjoy them for what they were – just nice. The search for the perfect home made me unhappy (at first, fortunately) with the one I actually rented and made me fill it with things that were supposed to make it my dream apartment, whereas the space you live in only needs to be filled with things that generate space, not make you feel trapped. Finally, and most dramatically, the search for the perfect man makes it hard to build a healthy relationship with another person: as loving and devoted the man can be, if he doesn’t live up to your stupid expectations, you can never be happy.

Perfectionism is an illness: it prevents you from living life to the fullest all the while giving you the wrong impression you’re doing everything right and you should only try harder to succeed. When you come to a place like the one I’m in right now, you come to realize perfection is just another gimmick that fades away along with fashion trends, unworthy deadlines and regrets about what you “should have done”. Here the only measure of perfection is how good you feel eating that watermelon or diving in that gorgeous sea. In other words, you finally get the only person who can decide if what you’re doing is perfect is you, or better yet, your inner you. Here is home. Here is the true place where all the dreams come true – those dreams that were born and raised within your heart, not brought sometimes violently from the outside.

And the funny thing is, the finally “perfect” pair of jeans was the one I found in a second-hand store on a rainy day: a classic cut that was once worn by someone and that now had lost all of the glamour and shine of those pieces “you-have-to-buy-now-or-die”.

Jeans are good to keep your limbs from the cold and walk around in comfort. They are just clothes. Everything we put into them – coolness, fashion, independance, rock or whatever – are just thoughts that materialize when applied to a person, not denim.

Celebration

There’s a thought that occured to me a few days ago and that was one of the most empowering thoughts I’ve ever had. It came from a simple yet unfortunately unnatural idea – to me, anyway – which went roughly like this : the f@#* with procrastinating ! why wait ? The best time to do something is right now, and it doesn’t only work for chores, which, by the way, are only perceived as such but can be endlessly shapeshifted by our powerful minds. Anyway, since I am not planning to be stuck with my twenty-four year old problems up until I am twenty-five – and even sooner, especially since most of them should have already vanished away long ago, I woke up one morning and decided it was enough : enough forcing myself to do things I didn’t really wanted to do, enough dieting, enough explaining to other people why I eat like this and not like that (being vegan is not tough as long you don’t preach to the wrong crowd), enough having cellulite and not being able to make it go away for all those years since childhood, enough with not being confident, enough with not believing in myself, my strenght, and most importantly enough with the laziness that whispers me to take things slowly when I know I can be unstoppable.

We’ve all heard affirmations like « you have to change your mindset about things », « think positive », « be present to the moment », and so on. Those are all true, but unfortunately too vague. Every person has to rewrite these affirmations in order to make them personal. By repeating day after day a mantra that doesn’t concern you personnaly, you couldn’t possibly harvest all the benefits of meditation.

This is why I’ve decided not only to take the matter into my own hands, but to approach the problem – all of my problems, really – by the other end. A little perspective never hurt anyone, did it ? So that morning when I woke up feeling like I was in the right place, doing the right thing, getting to my yet uncertain goal with no rush of any kind, I thought to myself : today I want each of my meals to be a meal of celebration of my beautiful, wonderful body, the one that’s maybe still too shy to come out completely and shine in all it’s glory, but still the one that would be so pleased with the sublime party I’m throwing it, it would be only too happy to manifest itself even sooner than expected. These past few weeks have been a great mental journey for me – I’ve been to depression/hysteria land and though I’m still travelling to « peace of mind land » and have quite a way to go, I’ve already left apathia, anger, anxiety stops behind. I said « anxiety », but it doesn’t mean I’ve ruled over stress altogether : as I’ve heard it today from Sadie Nardini (in her yoga is interview), with yoga, you don’t build yourself a fence from the world but rather open yourself a lot to allow sensations, emotions and feelings to flow in and out, striking down any « immunity » wall you could have built over time to « protect » yourself from others. I too have witnessed how my emotions have been heightened, how my feelings have become more accurate, how I have become more atuned to other people’s feelings and emotions. Being « atuned » does not automatically mean  having the right reaction to the way people that surround you express themselves, but rather question the mere possibility of a « right » or « wrong » reaction and act with respect to yourself and the other person. It is a long way to go.

But let’s get back to the celebration part. Because it’s the best. There was a time in my life when I first decided to ditch the dieting and eat as if I was already at my goal, thinking that my body would eventually follow my mindset. The only problem was my mindset was still one of control, restriction and overthinking. The worst part was that I somehow transformed this into an excuse to overly indulge in things I could not have during the diet, thinking to myself that a thin and cellulite-free me could enjoy a little something-something called – fill in the blanks – once in a while without worrying. It would have been true if I was prepared for the 80/20 system at the time, but all the good intentions in the world couldn’t solve the constant battle I had with myself. It is an understanding – that we actually struggle with ourselves – that comes with time and patience. Loving ourselves is more than often harder than it sounds, as it seems much easier to hold our breath while going through something hard and painful instead of « breathing into it » and seeing what it feels like to expand our ribcage and open our hearts every moment of the day, from brushing our teeth to preparing food, to sitting down on the mat, to writing at our desk. I deeply believe that our relationship with ourselves is the fullest, most enriching, generous relationship there can be. But as with any true and deep relationship, you have to work on it : when you see your loved one first thing in the morning – if you are lucky enough to have spent the night with him or her – your heart is overflown with love and joy – even if your mind is at this presentation that’s happening in an hour and you’re impossibly late. Every day is different, and the change allows you to see this person you love evolve and change as well : every day you learn something new about the person you love, be it a smile he/she gave you when you told a joke, or a « thank you » for time spent together, or a new yet unknown spot on your lover’s sexy body – all of this can exist only because it is seen, and felt, and loved. Reception is key, either you read a poem or hang out with a person. I am not saying that you can read people like books, but rather that whenever you encounter someone, and more so if it is someone you love, you are responsible for the way this person appears to you : this is why every relationship is two-sided. And this is where acute sight and sense are needed.

As people, we all tend to express ourselves, which means we all spend more time focused on turning ourselves outside rather than curling inside. I don’t say we shouldn’t all thrive towards expressing ourselves and learning how to interact with others in the most harmonious way. What I’m saying is that it would be a shame to let perish the relationship we have with ourselves in order to concentrate all of our energy on our relationships to others. Because it simply wouldn’t work. There is a balance to be achieved, and one that starts by aknowledging our inner self.

Still, it is hard to do, especially when you live a very busy life. I’ve found for myself that the only way I could do so is by ditching my resolutions of moderation and harmony and rocking « inside » the same way I’m used to doing it « outside ». My inner self is so deeply asleep that I have to wake it with a gong everytime I want to reach it. « Classic » meditation isn’t just enough : in order to finally get off the rollercoaster of quick adrenaline fix / scary depression (which in my case translates by waiting until the deadline to write a paper, staying up all night, end by doing something good and feeling so mentally tired and spiritually exhausted that I spent the next two – three weeks in a comatose state in front of the tv), I discovered I have to make all of my experiences be so great I wouldn’t need that monthly fix and wouldn’t consequently throw myself into the deep pool of dark thoughts, apathia and depression. I’ve set some rules too, to help me with the work. But most importantly I’ve decided it was time to face the fear and kick it back with loads of positive energy. Because there’s no point in saving it : first of all, tomorrow might not exist, and second of all, the more energy you give, the more you receive.

So I’ve decided to make each and every of my activities a celebration of my inner awesome me (or inner goddess, I love the goddess theme) : when I eat, I think of how who I am inside and whom I want to be is pleased by the healthy and fresh (well, vegan) meal made in her honor. When I do something, I try to do it to the fullest, concentrating on the very smooth feeling of the sea on my skin when I swim, or the freshness of the ealy morning sunlight, or the laughter of my grandmother to something I said. It is hard, and the point is not to always meditate while doing something : the point is to offer these happy moments (that are happy because they are offered) to your inner goddess (or god), same way you would do for someone you love very much. Of course I can’t do everything there is to do in this world. But I know I can do anything I put my mind to and my effort in. That makes me unstoppable. And the only person I have to answer to is myself, this girl that’s living within in and whose shape slowly but certainly transpires through, melting with and transforming the one that got built as a reaction to the outer world.

 

True Self

It’s been almost two months since I have been living with my boyfriend now and I have to say, it isn’t always going well.

See, we tend to fight a lot: we both are strong individuals with very precise views on life and no intention in hell to let go of any principle. That’s the ego-flattering version.

The true reason is quite plain, actually. I guess it is true what they say: you have to put an effort into sharing your life with someone, and for that you have to make priorities. If such phrases as “the big picture” or “the ultimate goal” do not appeal to you – and they definitely don’t to me, since I can’t stand the mere thought of planning something ahead in my love life, I think, now that I’m speaking from experience, that it is still best to always stop and think: what is the most important for me right now? To win this stupid (or not so stupid, arguments are not always stupid) argument, or go to bed happy and kiss and make up? I am never thinking too much ahead. Maybe I should. But what I know is that when I remember to take a step back from an argument and force my ego to swallow it’s pride (or punch it really hard), I feel really wonderful afterwards. I know the fight I have just won isn’t against the person I love the most in the world (how shallow of me would it be!) but against the little devil I have inside, which constantly desguises as my true nature but actually is a perversion. And in the end, I am not sure there is a “true nature” for any of us, as we move around our lives, adapt, make space and grow. In “non-yogic” terms, this only means that nothing is written in stone: an argument isn’t the end, and if you shout one minute, it is only up to you to laugh the next. The only person you have to be accountable to is yourself: being true to yourself means never doing anything for the sake of it or for how it looks on the outside… What it means is up to you to discover.

The secret for it to work, of course, is that it has to come from both of us. If it doesn’t, you can either become so “zen” you won’t even need to have another person by your side anymore to challenge and love you, or just … explode and throw things around and maybe kill someone. 

The balance, as always, is the most difficult part. 

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And the only magic ingredient there is is the trust you have in the other person, when you constantly know that whatever you do, you do it the safe space of your relationship, that you can always laugh about it and never be afraid of being hurt. 

But what if you are? Something I’m working on…