Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A brand new start


I've recently been through a string of major life changes. Most of them I brought upon myself and it was about damn time I did too.

I went through a minor crisis with my Love Project a couple of months ago, feeling utterly exhausted and disheartened with its results and its legitimacy. But instead of crumbling down, I picked myself up and decided that if I didn't like something it was up to me to make some adjustments. And so I did. I quit my job and embraced that crazy feeling of adventure, that crazy feeling that I'm not too sure what I'm doing but somehow I feel safe and okay about it, that crazy feeling that my future is a stark white canvas I can start painting anyway I want.

And somehow magically things started happening. I met someone. I know it's still early to brag about it, but I met someone I like who likes me back. And I would be tempted to say that it only happened when I finally decided to live as my true self. And if there hasn't been enough synchronicity in my life lately, here's a great example: The Daily Love post of today about not living your life in a shadow career:

'Part of living your destiny and not your shadow career is being able to LIVE in and with uncertainty' says Mastin Kipp. 'It's about trusting The Uni-verse to have your back. It's about realizing you have a gift and your job is to GIVE that gift to the world. It's about doing what's right, rather than what's easy. It's about turning PRO and showing up - whether you are inspired or not.'

People asked me where was I going when they found out I'm leaving my job. 'I'm not going anywhere' I always answer with an enigmatic smile. 'I'm staying right here, where I belong, doing what I love and generally enjoying my life.' I'd be lying if I didn't say I always catch a glimpse of admiration on their faces.  

I may not be going anywhere, but I'll be doing lots of things. I'll be editing Bitch-online magazine (re-launch planned for 1st Dec 2013), I'll finish writing my book and start looking for an agent, I'll try and make as much money and investing as little effort in the process by freelancing and doing project-based work and I'll be planing a few more adventures. I will also move my online activity to a brand new site (to mark the start of a whole new chapter in my life) so if you're liking what you're reading and still want to read the wrtitten up results of my thoughts in your inbox, then please visit my new site and add yourself on the mailing list:

And if you like it that much then tell your friends about. Things are about to get a whole lot better!





Friday, 13 September 2013

A bad case of kryia

A couple of days ago I had a kryia.

I didn't know it was a kryia until I read about it the same day in Week 4 of Julia Cameron's  'The Artist's Way'. Kryia is a Sanskrit word Julia is describing as spiritual seizure or surrender. 'We all know what a kryia looks like' she says, 'it is the bad case of the flu right after you've broken up with your lover.' It's that moment when you're so down that the only way is up. When your body is telling you something's gone really wrong and you must correct course if you want to survive.

See, I've started to tend to my creative self because I reached an important conclusion: that my desperate quest for love is really just like trying to cure depression with paracetamol. I realised it was my creativity that needed looking after before love can flourish in my life. No runner can run with a crouch so it's important to heal the various parts of yourself that need healing in the right order. And so I started some serious recovery with the help of Julia Cameron. And yes, I wake up every day a bit earlier than usual and I write my morning pages, I do my exercises, I purge every day.

And she's right, it's a crazy process. I am all over the place. And my ego is hating it because it feels threatened. More threatened than ever. And so it decided a few days ago that I needed a reminder of how I haven't met anybody yet, how every guy I meet disappears sooner or later, how I am getting old etc etc. And for a while, of course, I believed every word. Mainly because I am a bit worried. I have about three and a half months left of my Love Project and still no happy ending in sight. Will I be able to end it with fireworks? Or will I end it the same way I started it?... Single, again. My 7th year of singledom... Then what would my project have achieved? Have I worked hard enough on it?...

All these questions are paralysing. So, of course my ego, had free reign to walk all over me. But true to my creative rescue routine, I woke up with puffy eyes and started writing my morning pages. I asked God what His plan? Why was He doing this to me? What was the lesson He wanted me to learn that I haven't learnt yet? I asked all these questions on paper over and over again until I realised that I have ever only thrown tantrums about why this, why that... I have never simply just asked, prayed for something. So I ended  up praying for a happy ending for my book. Or at least an important lesson to share. And I have prayed that my ego leaves me alone and stops bothering me with stupid things like that. And I have prayed for the right person to come into my life but if he never does, well then at least I prayed that I can learn how to live with it peacefully.

I have literally surrendered. And that was my kryia. My cry for help, like Julia calls it. I think I've read somewhere (I wish I remembered where) that in every big project there comes a moment when the whole work seems pointless, when the author starts doubting it, when there's doom written all over it. But that's the very moment which makes the project stronger, bigger, better.

I hope that was my moment. Because I think the exercises do work, there's a real artist in me just waiting to come out and play.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Proud to be Brit

This morning started out like any other day. My alarm kept snoozing until I made the Herculean effort to get up. I felt tired and left over work issues from yesterday were still dancing inside my head. I got ready automatically and put on a dress I haven't worn the whole summer just because it cried out to be worn. But it wasn't appropriate. It was a 50's flared blue-flowered dress which felt a bit too much. So I put on a different dress, which was so tight it didn't let me breathe. I wondered if I had put on weight or has it always been so tight?... Nevermind, I was out of the house and on my way to Bromley Town Hall.

I didn't have my Home Office letter with me but they let me join the Ceremony anyway and I would have to come back with the letter to get my certificate. I was a bit annoyed with myself for forgetting but soon all of my thoughts dissipated. I was fully present in that velvety town hall room, with the Queen's portrait reigning over and the proud British flag. And I was happy.

I thought I had this under control but I found myself crying during the national anthem. I think I was the only one who chocked on the words, because to me this signified the end of a journey and the beginning of another. I figured I had earned my citizenship because I gave it my all. I spent many years in the UK and UK has been both tough and kind. Britain has been the place where I really grew up, where I discovered who I am, where I found out I have a Fighter in me, the place were I found out the tiny little Dreamer in me was free to dream too.

I was crying during the national anthem because I realised that it wasn't until I really wanted to be a Brit that I became one.

Long live the Queen! 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The spiritual practice of love

When I first started to work on my love book I had absolutely no idea that dating could be spiritual practice.I thought the pursuit of romantic love was just about me getting what I wanted: a post-card perfect relationship!

Like yoga, or meditation, dating takes discipline, strenght and determination. It takes discipline of the mind not to let every dating disaster turn into yet another self-pitying exercise. It takes strength to only follow the heart's path and not to let yourself believe the same stories your mind has been telling you for eons. It takes determination to see only the good in people, to see through their act, to catch a glimpse of their vulnerability and to whisper in their ear: 'I know you're only acting this way because you're afraid. I'm not here to judge you. I'm here to tell you that it's ok, there is a better way to live and I trust you will find it.'

But like any spiritual practice it's hard. I sometimes get annoyed with people.

Sometimes it's the people on the tube who are blocking the access to the gates or the escalators. I roll my eyes and say 'For fuck's sake...!' but then I immediately stop myself. What am I doing? I'm not this person. I'm not this angry person who's in a hurry to get somewhere, that's just a left over reaction from the person I used to be. And then I feel bad about it and to resolve it I decide to exaggerate and make fun of my reaction and I allow myself to scream and shout at them as much as I want in my head until I am at peace. I know my anger is not justified but I let it manifest until it rings stupid and and then I can let go of it.

I do the same with guys that piss me off. And there have been many who pissed me off. For leading me on, for over promising and under delivering, for standing me up, for wasting my time, for being too forward, or too shy, too keen or not keen enough, you name it! And I used to call them names during conversations with girlfriends (they are usually 'idiots' and 'dicks') as a way to vent my frustration and I thought that's ok because we all do it. No, it's not ok, because whatever energy we invest in every relationship it's just going to come back to us packaged in exactly the same way. More 'idiots' and 'dicks' until we learn the lesson.

So now when I feel anger bottling up, I try to imagine 'the dick' as somebody's son and somebody's brother, to focus on his humanity rather than on his lack of honesty. We all just see life from different angles and a dick is only a dick if I think he is. And until I learn to cut people some slack I doubt I'd see real love even if it hit me in the face.

And lastly dating is spiritual practice because people we meet don't tick all our boxes. Or even if they do at first, sooner or later cracks will start showing up and ruin their perfect image. And when they don't tick some boxes we need to open our eyes and see beyond those boxes. To see true value where it is and to learn little by little to like the things we don't like about the people we meet. To treat them with wabi-sabi love, which is a Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transcience and imperfection. We live in a society which dwells too much on perfection (forever unattainable) in a never ending pursuit for something we can only imagine to one day achieve. But realising that imperfection is what we should really be after, is a blessing still camouflaged to many.

And that's why dating is spiritual practice. Because it's not a matter of you versus me, but a matter of me versus me. And that's the kind of battle I find most difficult to fight...

Friday, 9 August 2013

Male pregnancy - yay or nay?

A few weeks ago I went on  a date with a guy who had an almost disturbing preference for conspiracy theories and pretty radical opinions. I think he had a bit of vagina envy when he mentioned at some point he was annoyed with women for not realising their potential and for spending more energy on choosing lipstick colours then on getting equal pay.

'That's right, you women have so many gifts you're not even grateful for. Like giving birth! I'd love to be able to give birth' he said.

No, I do enjoy weird conversations and I didn't think too much about it until this morning on the tube when I saw something which I initially thought must have been an optical illusion. You know, like when you stare too long at a striped pattern until the lines get blurred and you feel like your vision has been tempered with and you may never be able to look at stripes again. At Leicester Square a man wearing a striped top (go figure!), a 'beer belly' (or so I thought) and a 'Baby on Board' badge (WTF!?) got on and a guy to my left immediately and politely (or frightened) gave up his seat. I probably would have been oblivious to the whole thing if I hadn't seen the guy who gave up his seat going all the way to the other end of the carriage as if he's seen the devil incarnated.

The 'pregnant man' was to my left a couple of seats away and I couldn't quite see his face (at this point I was still unsure whether what I saw was true or the result of staring at his striped top) l so I decided to study the faces of the people in front of me and see if I notice anything suspicious. They all looked composed but there was something on their faces I can't quite describe in a word. Something along the lines of 'Ok, we're all cool with gay people getting married and all but pregnant men, well, that's a step too far. But I'll keep my cool because I don't want to be judged as judgemental!' And I think my face must have had the same look on it and when I realised that, I decided to change my attitude. He got off at the next stop, just as I was gathering courage to go and ask him if he was a man. Just like children do. And this is how my hypothetical conversation with the pregnant man would go:

'Excuse me, but are you a man?'

'Yes, dear. I am.'

'And you are pregnant?'

'Yep!' he would say with a smile.

'Umm, and how did you get pregnant?'

'Well, there is something called IVF which has been developed for men. They induced an ectopic pregnancy by implanting an embryo and placenta into my abdominal cavity, just under the peritoneum.'

'Wow, and does it hurt. You know, to have a baby growing inside?'

'Well, it doesn't hurt. But it does feel weird. And it does tickle me and it moves a lot. And I have troubles sleeping but otherwise my pregnancy is normal.'

'And how will you give birth?'

'There's only one way I can do it, by C section. They'll have to remove the placenta too which is quite dangerous as it can cause hemorrhage.  Implantation may have also involved other structures in the abdomen, including the bowel and it is possible that parts of other organs may need to be removed but hey ho.'

'Wow. I must admire your courage.'

'Women put their lives in danger with every pregnancy so I'm not expecting is to be easier for men.'

'Very well said. Oh well, here's my stop! Good luck with your pregnancy.'

This may be an imaginary conversation but all this above is true. Male pregnancy is being tested. As we speak Mr. Lee Mingwei, a rather well know American artist, is very much pregnant and being monitored during his gestation period, as part of male pregnancy research. You can read all about it here and keep up to date with his pregnancy journal.

I must confess I'm not too sure what to think about it all. I mean, we live in a very gender confused society where the division between men and women is slowly disappearing. Women have been accused of trying to become men. "Men have always been afraid that women could get along without them." others (Margaret Mead) say.

But others are celebrating this imminent possibility. Let them share the burden, women say. We want to know how it feels to bring life onto this planet, men say. Is this right or is this wrong?... What do you think?

Have we tried too hard too become men so that now men are trying to become women?


Monday, 22 July 2013

New Half Year's Resolutions


Today I found out I'm overweight. Yes, that's right, I'm FAT!

I've always been a bit curvaceous and I am comfortable in my own body (maybe a bit too comfortable!) so calling myself fat doesn't scare me at all. In fact it is doing me a world of good.

I'm an active person. I run, I go to boot camp, spinning, yoga etc, I play softball and I feel I have developed a strong body. I eat healthily (most of the time!). And yet I am still overweight. And it's all because of alcohol. I drink beer when I play softball, I drink Pimm's in the park, a glass of wine at friend's barbecue, prosecco with the girls, you name it. I take every single opportunity there is out there to drink alcohol. And it doesn't make me an alcoholic but it makes me fat! That's right, it makes me FAT!

So the question is: what am I going to do about it? Just carry on like nothing's happened because despite being a bit overweight, I actually look pretty normal? Or decide that my health is more important than my social habits?

Maybe it's time that  I re-evaluated my New Year's resolutions. Maybe it's time for my New Half Year's resolutions. Now that's a great concept, I think, and now just the perfect time to re-evaluate the objectives I started out with at the beginning of the year, acknowledging what's been achieved so far and revisiting the goals which have somehow fallen off the radar.

So, here we go, in the Well Done column:
  • Doing Extensive Research for My 'Love' Project
  • Getting a British Citizenship
  • Participating in the LASL Softball Rookie Trials
  • Joining the British Softball Federation Development Team training sessions
  • Writing 30.000 words of my book so far
  • Keeping a daily journal (and a separate gratitude journal)

In the Not So Well Done column:
  • Putting on weight
  • Still smoking (albeit only socially!)
  • Indulging in alcohol consumption
  • Lagging behind on my exercising routine
  • Wasting energy on things I shouldn't
  • Abandoning my TEFL online course due to lack of time
  • Indulging too much on mind wandering instead of getting things done

Well done me for the things on the Well Done column, but now it's time to take the things in the Not So Well Done column a bit more seriously. Starting with exercising and eating. And drinking only at week-ends. I've got less than half a year to lose 5kgs!

What about you? What are your New Half Years's resolutions you're still struggling with? Time to reinforce those goals!

Stay inspired.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Are you a giver or a taker?

It recently occurred to me that in order to find love you have to give love. And not to a select few - close friends, relatives, people we fancy etc. - but most importantly to those who make it challenging for us to love.

To illustrate this I will invoke a story I read about Saint Therese de Lisieux which I've read in Grethchen Rubin's 'The Happiness Project'. Saint Therese was a French carmelite nun quite famous for her 'little way'. Little way is about making small adjustments in our every day lives, small yet impactful overall, rather than waiting for a major event in which to demonstrate our spiritual greatness. And despite being a beautiful soul, she was only human and she had her dislikes.There was a particular sister she found insufferable which she deliberatley wanted to spend time with and forced herself to like. That particular sister never knew she was one of the least favourite people of Saint Therese.

This story really impacted on me because I think it illustrates something a lot of spiritual people are going on about: that we are here to embody love and to truly embody love is when it's most difficult to do.

There's no real effort in loving people who are making it easy for us to love. Which obviously doesn't mean we shouldn't love them. Really we should love everybody because we all come from the same source but I know that most of us aren't yet that advanced as to truly practice love. So there will be people we'll find tough to love. There will be people who'll push our buttons over and over again! And it's particularly those people we should strive to love more because that's what embodying love is all about.

As Marianne Williamson says, “Until we have seen someone's darkness, we don't really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone's darkness, we don't really know what love is.” 
I noticed that only through trying to love against my normal affinities, I'm genuinely beginning to understand this whole love thing. I mean I'm a good person. But If I was truly honest with myself I would notice that sometimes I take my friends for granted, that sometimes all I want them to tell me is what I want to hear and I'll do the same for them, that I don't always and fully heatedly listen etc. So I've decided to challenge myself a little bit and before reacting the same way I would always, I just put a little bit more love into my actions. I think 'What would I have to say to my friend so it really helps them?' and that little thought would change the whole situation. And it feels good. I feel like I'm finally starting to embody love. It's not about who is right and who is wrong. It's about loving the others, just as they are.

People used say to me 'You'll find (romantic) love when you're not looking for it!' and I grew sick and tired of it. How can I not look for it I asked myself when all I wanted to do was be in love with someone? Now I think this is probably true. But it's certainly not complete. I think what people should really have said to me a long time ago is: 'You'll find love when you're not looking to get it, but when you're looking to give it!'

What about you? Are you a giver of a taker?...

Stay inspired!


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Charging the ball


Some of you may know that I've been training and playing lots of softball the last couple of months. For selfish reasons. The Ad League is putting together an All Stars team which is sent to the USA to play in an international advertising softball championship and I have my eyes set on making it to the team. There will be beer. There will be boys. There will be parties. You get my drift! But despite these superficial reasons, I have used this goal to see how far I can go with improving my game.
My game was pretty lame to start with. I grew up in Romania and not only that there is no tradition in American-style sports (well, we do have a Romanian game called 'oina' which sits nicely in between baseball and cricket, but no one really plays or knows the rules for) but there is hardly any encouragement for team sports. So I have never thought of myself as an athletic creature until fairly recently when I got into all sorts of physical activities and realised that I am quite strong and resilient overall. But to get good at a sport, now, that's something else I never thought I'd do.
I started playing softball three years ago with my work team and in between cans of beers and giggles I slowly but surely started to understand the rules and being less and less afraid of the ball, occasionally making it to the first base when accidentally hitting the ball with the bat. This year however, I started training, taking up a spot with the training team from the British Softball Federation. I also joined other teams to get more game time. Last Saturday I played in an all day softball tournament and played 6 games. On Monday I went to my first trials session for the team selection. Which is when one of the trainers shouted at me 'Go, charge the ball!' and I ran like crazy towards that ball not even knowing what 'charging the ball' meant.
'Charging the ball' means running forward to grab it when hit on the ground. Not waiting for the ball to bounce its way to where you are, but running towards it and relaying it to the relevant team mate. See, I've never been one to charge the ball in the past. And this is something that's been valid for everything else in my life. I would wait for the 'balls' (situations) to come to me. But training for softball as well as applying all the other self-improvement techniques I've been learning in the past six months or so have showed me that I am now the kind of person who is charging the ball. And yes, I do have lots of bruises on my legs and hands. But there's no better feeling than charging that wild ball, I tell you! I'm proud of my bruises, you see. Life's not about sitting comfy on the side and waiting for balls to land in your glove, it's about charging the ball!
Are you 'charging the ball'?

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Love Project - 6 months on...

It's already been six months since I've started my 'Love Project'. A very good time to have a think about what I've achieved so far. Not that I've necessarily employed a strict monitoring system other than keeping a sporadic journal and daily notes on my phone, but I've certainly started to notice some very important shifts in my attitude, changes which so far have had an important impact on the quality of my life.
When I started this project back in January, I had a different view. I dig my teeth into it accompanied by my lifelong insecurities, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. And yes, I've had some drama along the way, but being on a mission really energised me to carry on and keep looking for ways to navigate the murky waters of modern dating. I'm not sure I had any idea of how much this project would change me, but I'm grateful to it that it did. Without it, I wouldn't probably be better off than I was a year ago, two years ago, three years ago...
That doesn't mean that I've found that special someone - at least not yet - but what I did find was a lot more love for myself. Well, I had to. Being in 'The Champions League of Dating' (as one of my dear friends likes to call it) meant that I exposed myself to more disappointing situations and the occasional heartbreak. So I had to find a way to deal with those situations better than in the past, when I would normally wallow and sulk for a long time, dump all my emotional garbage on my close friends and eventually get over it only to start all over again a few months later. Or in the words of Tony Robbins, 'If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.' So I needed to approach this differently if I wanted a different outcome and happy to report on the improvements of the last six months:
1) I am lighter. Having 'Being light' as my mantra has been a magnificent tool towards taking things less seriously. Light people are less judgemental, less worried and generally happier. And if this is not an attractive feature, then I don't know what is :)
2) I am taking things less personally. This is a great breakthrough for me. I've been believing my own stories about myself for as long as I've been alive and every time things didn't work out for me one way or another, I would add more layers to the 'unlucky in love / unworthy of love' story  etc. The truth is, everyone has their own stories to believe in and most of the times nobody does anything to hurt you as a goal in itself. People generally behave in accordance with their own conditional programming and most of the times they're not even aware of, as much as you're not aware of the fact that you're just believing in a story that's not even true. So I've learnt to see past that. If anything, I decided to create nicer stories for myself to believe, if my brain really can't do without stories to feed on.
3)  I am more mindful than reactive. It's the little things: like not replying to a text straight away, especially if it's been sent late in the evening. Realising than not every message requires a reply and that some people will stay in the pen pal zone if you entertain it. I think it's basically about being in control of my actions and stopping before reacting. This is definitely an improvement, I used to be so 'spontaneous' with things like that, usually not in my best interest.
4) I am more focused on what I have than on what I don't have. The Law of Attraction states that what you focus on, you'll end up receiving more of that. So if you focus on the love you already have in your life, magical things happen. See, I used to focus on the love I didn't have and, surprise, surprise, there was just more of the same. But not anymore, I am practising gratitude every night before I go to sleep and being thankful for all the love I've got out there, to all my friends, family and strangers (good looking ones, in particular ;)
5) Spreading out love. So there's one more important ingredient I've added into the mix: support with loving thoughts the love I see around me. I see a loved-up couple, I send them some loving thoughts. I'm cultivating loving thoughts left and right and you know what, it feels sooooooooo much better than when I used to be bitter and jealous of others! More of that, please!
6) I love myself more. Now, this should probably go to the top of my list, but I decided to leave it last, because I feel it summarises the other ones best. Thanks to the likes of Robert Holden  and many other inspirational speakers I've been listening to for the past ten days during the Hay House World Summit, I've resolved to accept that I am 'loveable'. And that loving yourself means accepting everything about yourself, even the stupid things we do. I've finally learnt that self-love is not self-approval (ie. 'I will love myself if...' ), is self-acceptance (ie 'I love myself anyway, every day!'). And, boy, that feels good!
So now, more than ever, I am looking forward to the next six months! Bring it on: I'm ready for Love! :)

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The art of loving yourself

About a year ago, during coffee and cake, I was complaining to a friend that things didn't work out for me in the romantic department. She candidly asked if I loved myself and I almost felt offended by the question. Of course I loved myself. I had read 'The Mastery of Love' by Don Miguel Ruiz, didn't I!? Doh!...

Now, the truth is I was only beginning to scratch the surface of self-love and even though I was on the right path, I was still far from practising true self-love. It was more a case of 'I don't hate myself anymore'...

It wasn't until later that I realised loving yourself requires the same time investment as loving somebody else does. Sure, you can fall in love with someone at first sight, instantly, but real love is built on time. To love yourself takes a bloody long time too.

And we're not always good at showing ourselves that love. I still do stupid things which are not good for me. This Bank Holiday week-end for instance I drank a lot of alcohol. Sure, I used to drink a lot of alcohol regularly, but it was back then, when I didn't really love myself. So even though I still enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two, I stay away from excess these days. I feel really guilty when I over-drink and eat crap food, because I know it has a negative impact on my body. So that's when I know I am doing a good job at loving myself. Because I care. I care about the consequences of my loving or less loving acts. So today, I woke up early in the morning and went to a class at the gym so I can feel like this again! :)

Recently another amazing truth hit me: there is no self-love love without acceptance and forgiveness. The same way, you'd forgive a repenting lover bringing you flowers as a way of saying sorry for something he'd done, the same way you must forgive yourself. So rather than beating myself up about having drank too much and slept too little, I accepted the fact that it has happened and that I just had to move on. And instead of beating myself up about it, I just went 'Ok, you can be silly sometimes. It's not the end of the world!' and decide to spend some time eating and sleeping better and probably avoiding alcohol for a while.

I think that the point I'm trying to make is that loving yourself is a longer process, which requires effort and it requires you to act. You can't just decide one day that this is it, from now on you'll love yourself. Because that would be a lie. To truly love yourself is to do a little bit about it every day!


Monday, 27 May 2013

The amazing lightness of being


“It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.”

- G.K. Chesterton

Remember I was telling you about personal mantras? Well, they work so well for me that I'm starting to break them down into life chunks. I now have personal mantras for work like 'Lower your voice when on the phone', 'Read an e-mail twice before replying', personal mantras for dating like 'Never blame yourself when thing don't work out', 'There is always someone else!', universally valid personal mantras like 'Stop judging', personal mantras for exercising and sports like 'Don't swing at shit!' or 'Breathe deeply', personal mantras for writing like 'Trust your inner voice', you name it. But one personal mantra that's really made an amazing impact on my life is 'Be light!'

Now - seriously - we take things in life way too seriously! I for one have been one of the biggest offenders and maybe because yes, it is easier to be heavy, that to be light. But writing a big bold sign in big chunky letters and repeating this every time I have the tendency to take things too seriously again has brought a new amazing dimension to my life. Let's explore...

I've made no secret from the fact that last year I decided to become abstinent for an indefinite period of time. And I believe it was an excellent idea at the time - it helped me get my head around the whole sex thing and work through some feelings like guilt and shame which should not be associated with a thing so wonderful as intimacy between two people. My decision to become abstinent was a serious one. And it scared a few men away along the way, but that's ok. I obviously wasn't in the zone.  I had to sort out feelings about myself before I shared anything with anyone else. And now I am feeling like the wait is over because I have utmost respect for myself and for my body, so I can finally let go and enjoy myself! Light as a feather, I am also confronting situations I was scared of before and looking at things from the driving seat perspective.

Being light is an incredible asset in the dating process. I have lost the telling off attitude and adopted one of carefreeness. I figured that being afraid that things won't work out will affect my ability to have fun so I have decided to treat every date as if I would never see that person again (applying a principle portrayed by Senecca as 'People get angry because they're too hopeful' so I stopped being too hopeful). And it works magic. I am being silly and saying random things like 'I want to cuddle owls because they're so fluffy' or 'What's your favourite constellation?' not worrying what the guy is thinking about me. And surprisingly, they're coming back for more :) More details in the book ;)

I figured that there's something incredibly attractive to the lightness of being. Nobody wants to be judged, measured, scolded, told off and what not. But everybody shares the same desire of being playful and having fun. And I am grateful to my new set of mantras which make me a light non-judgemental presence I really like having around a lot. No more grievances, just freedom! 

Friday, 17 May 2013

The power of personal mantras


I've finally discovered something that really works for me! DIY personal mantras. Or so I like to call them.

Gretchen Ruben (the author of  'The Happiness Project') calls them resolutions and she has created her own personal resolutions chart, but I like 'personal mantras' more. You know, those simple words that mean something to you and which you can just call upon when you need them the most to bring you back to your centred, assured self. Gretchen also lists some in her 'secrets of adulthood', but it really doesn't matter how you call them - what matters is that they work.

So after recently having been called on by nasty old fears and having decided that this year I was going to find new ways of dealing with my challenges, I decided to put together a list of personal mantras (following the Gretchen Ruben example):

1. Stop judging
2. Just because it happened in the past, it doesn't mean it will happen in the future
3. It's ok not to be ok
4. It's ok to be afraid
5. Trust your instincts
6. Be indifferent to rejection
7. Whatever you do, be mindful
8. You are enough
9. Love more
10. Recognise your qualities
11. Always put friends and family first
12. Develop a thick skin
13. Stick to your standards
14. Be light! Always be light!
15. When in doubt, breathe

I highlighted the last two because I found them particularly useful in the last few days.

No. 14 'Be light!' is probably the key mantra to my 'Love project' because I realised I am and always have been really serious. I am funny and a fun person to be around but guys can feel there is a certain weight I carry around with me. I'm the kind of girl who is going to tell them off because they failed to respond according to my standards and my expectations. And that's because I have always been tough on myself so I would always treat men the same way I'd treat myself: perform or suffer!

But the good news is: NOT ANYMORE! Since I have discovered the joys of being kind to myself and accepting of myself completely, I've lightened up around guys too. And this is an energy I intend on channelling religiously from now on, therefore I need my mantra no 14. like the air that I breathe.

Which brings me to mantra no. 15 'When in doubt, breathe!'. You know what, I've rediscovered breathing and it's such a lovely thing to focus on. I think It was Johnny Depp who said his favourite activity was breathing. I think he's right. Breathing has the power to keep you in your body and focused on the present. When I feel my mind going crazy, I remember my personal mantra no. 15 and breathing brings me back to centre. Focused breathing casts a light over the clouds of judgement. When I find somebody annoying, instead of jumping to judgement, I call upon my mantra no 15 and I forget about what annoyed me in the first place. And let's not forget, breathing helps me with being light and sticking with my mantra no. 14!

The truth is there's a story behind all of these mantras. If I wasn't in a hurry to get to Devon tonight for a week-end of fun ('Be light! Always be light!') I'd be happy to share all of them. Perhaps another time. Until then, 'when in doubt, breathe!'

Stay inspired!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Why it's important to keep searching for what you want

Today I spent quite a lot of time browsing the Getty image library in search for a number of particular images. I had them in low res and no reference number, so it was pretty much a case of looking for the needle in the hay stack.


And so I started. I had a picture of a baby. I searched for baby and I got back about 254 pages of results. Hmm, I had to narrow it down. So half heartedly I started searching for baby against grey background.  I got less results and a few pages scanned later I found my baby! And then I felt like this!


But I had more pictures to find and more difficult briefs. Some searches came back with no results. Other came back with too many. I felt like the whole exercise was completely pointless especially as I had google searched it before and couldn't find the source in high res. But I kept doing it, I knew resistance was futile and those pictures had to have come from somewhere. Many search results pages later, I stumbled upon other two of my images. I felt positive. Maybe this wasn't such a pointless exercise after all.

I started looking for more specific key words, such as 'smiling large Hispanic family on balcony'. That came back with nothing. But I didn't give up, I searched and searched and searched and every time I found another image, I felt elated.

And then it dawned on me: what if it's the same in life, what if what we're looking for may not be on the first page of the catalogue and instead of going through the whole catalogue we stop searching after a few pages? What if we're so close to getting what we want but we don't even know it? What if we just need to reframe the problem, define the search terminology better? Our image may be one of a 'young Caucasian father and child at desk' but what if the particular 'young Caucasian father with child at desk' I'm looking for is also 'with turned back'?

Bingo! First result. It was there, the last image I was looking for...

I figured out life is simple: what you want is what you get. That's why is important to keep searching.



Sunday, 12 May 2013

The good side of fear

Today I felt the need to write a follow-up to the post I wrote this week about my fears. It wasn't an easy subject to write about and I probably opened myself up to being judged one way or another, but I'm proud I did it, because writing about my fears has achieved what I set out to achieve: it made them seem as they really are, silly and insignificant.

And it made people reach out to me, people feeling the same way, or people wanting to comfort me - I feel so blessed. I had to love one of my dear friend's response below (hope she doesn't mind I'm publishing it, as I'm keeping it anonymous):

'In my eyes you are such a woman' - she said to me in an e-mail - 'not the always single one that will die alone. And if it happens to be that way, we should team up go to a sanatorium for old people and take every pill we can get hold of, lose our minds and have sex with everyone. And do whatever we can as we are old and no one will judge us :)'

 I read somewhere that if you ask yourself what's the worse it can happen helps with getting rid of irrational worries. And frankly, if I do end up alone in a sanatorium having sex with everybody, I think this would be a great ending to a great life :)

But fear is not all doom and gloom. I've made a great decision a while ago to subscribe to The Daily Love blog and I am loving the advice from Mastin Kipp. It just happened that the other day he was writing about fear and why fear is good, because it's here to protect us, it gives us warning signals and it is the precursor of growth. Let's say being afraid is part of the growing pains package.

One of the lessons I've learnt recently is that I must stop trying to be perfect and to be gentle to myself when I am far from it. Because we're not here to be perfect, we're here to learn and evolve. Fear happens when we grow, it makes us act. And most importantly, instead of fearing fear and ignoring it, we must accept it, love it even, it's part of us. Accepting it is the key to ensure a seamless process. And I feel better now for having allowed my feelings and emotions to be expressed, rather than trying even harder to be in constant happy mood. Being happy means feeling bad sometimes. And that's ok.

I did some thinking and I realised my fears spring from some kind of resilient insecurity still lurking around.

We each appear to hold within ourselves a range of divergent views as to our native qualities.. And amid such uncertainty, we typically turn to the wider world to settle the question of our significance...we seem beholden to affections of others to endure ourselves.”  notes Alain de Botton and isn't he right? How many times have we not felt that we need others to acknowledge us, even though we have intrinsic qualities which need no subjective point of view to exist.

But insecurity is not such a bad thing. As Stephen Fry suggests, insecurities shape us:

It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”

Fear no more: there's a good side to every fear! 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Voicing my fears

Source.Big Quote
This is not a post I wrote easily. In fact, it may be the most difficult one I've ever written. In this post I am exposing my fears. And that's something I was - still am - very much scared to do... But I felt it had to be done. Once and for all, I had to exorcise my fears. 

I've had some disturbing thoughts in the last couple of weeks and I've had troubles sleeping. I am tired from the lack of good quality sleep (when I do sleep, it comes with weird exhausting dreams) and I'm irrationally anxious. I'm so tangled in these thoughts that I do all sorts of things, totally unaware. Last night, for example, I went to bed with my contacts on and even showered with them. I woke up in the morning panting from the realisation that I might have damaged my eyes forever. I felt guilty but more so I couldn't shake off the feeling that I was afraid of something.

This is not like me.

I'm living some of the most exciting times of my life, I feel like an enormous amount of energy is being pumped through me to turn it into something creative, life changing and inspiring, and despite this marvellous energetic activity, I find myself getting visits from the same old fears, every now and then.

But I've decided I've lived with my fears for too long. I've decided I'm going to face my fears and spit in their faces. And for this I have to brace myself and just let them run through me, while I stand my ground until there's nothing left of them. As Jim Morrison said, “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” 

But I guess that's easier said than done because maybe I am afraid of expressing my fears. I have to gather the courage to list them down. Make them look tiny and harmless. But will they look tiny and harmless? Will they seem ridiculous enough for me to laugh at them? Let's see...

Fear no 1: I'm going to die alone!

I am afraid that because I've been single for six years (with the occasional two months or so relationship in between) that this who I am, that this is my label, this is how the world sees me, but most importantly that this is how I see myself.
I'm afraid that I'm always going to be that girl who's always single. Yeah, you know which girl I'm talking about, the one who's always out on some adventure somewhere, while everyone else is in relationships, buying houses and having babies, like normal people do. The girl who's always almost in a relationship but never quite in one!

Fear no 2: The guys I like don't like me back!

Well, they never do. As soon as I get really interested in someone, the moment I become excited about someone, all these men (without exception!) pull back. I don't know why, maybe I turn into the little guy to the left here and scare them all away! Boooo!
But isn't love supposed to be irrational, aren't these guys supposed to like me for my craziness, for my insecurities and for my neurotic moments as much as they should like me for my elegance, intelligence, sense of humour, beauty etc? 
Anyway, I'm afraid to like someone because I think they won't like me back or that they'll leave me. As it has already happened to me so many times before...

Fear no 3: My desire to find love is not legitimate enough!

I mean I have a happy life, great friends, family, activities I enjoy, I live in a privileged society in times of peace, I have my health and the integrity of my body, so what more do I want? Sometimes I feel I'm just not supposed to find someone to have an extraordinary relationship with and maybe I should just accept that and stop whining. But I can't, I really want one. Is that really so terrible? Am I allowed to be upset for not being in a loving relationship?...

Fear no 4: Nothing will change one year, two years, three years, seven years from now...

Well, nothing really changed for six years so I have all the reasons to believe I'll find myself in exactly the same place next year, and probably 10 years after that. Sure, I'll have some flings along the way, but essentially I'll be a single woman looking for something to make her life interesting. Maybe I'll become Mother Teresa the 2nd and walk the Earth, helping the sick and poor. They'll sanctify me and all, but little will they know it's all because I didn't meet the right man at the right time, to settle down with and have beautiful blond children with! The irony...

And sometimes, something else creeps up on me. I'm jealous of my friends...

I DO LOVE my friends. I want the best for them. But I also want the best for me and I can't help but feeling just a little bit jealous when I see things are happening in their lives and nothing happens in mine.

But someone said something to me today: 'Never look at someone else's plate, everyone's got their fair share of tragedy we don't know about'. And I know that's true and I know it's wrong of me to feel jealous of anyone, but I hope that if I just admit it to myself and accept the way I'm feeling, then maybe I won't feel jealous anymore... Maybe I'll set myself free... Free from judging myself against others and free from setting deadlines and beating myself about not achieving my self-imposed targets, instead of blisfully just living my life as I ought to.

Today I saw this video, which made me cry... It's a video for Vans shoes, part of a campaign which uses testimonials of people who have overcome great barriers. And it made me think about the fact that maybe, in the words of Amy Purdy (the woman in the video): 'This happened to the right person. Because I knew that I can handle it.'

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
(Frank Herbert, Dune)

What are you afraid of?...