What Do Women Carry With Them?

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Things2

Photo credit @Shivani Gakhar

 

In the eventuality of an apocalypse or a natural catastrophe, my backpack and I will be fine. Why? It is safe to say that while looking for a specific pen on the bottom of my bag I found all sorts of things that I didn’t even know I had or needed.

In order to find my pen I had to empty my backpack on my work desk and dig in for long lost treasures. This is what I found (other than my “necessities”, which are ids, keys, phone, wallet, charger): work folder with pretty much any information possible, phone numbers, contacts, rules and regulations….etc; agenda, iPad, extra charger, additional external battery for android, tampons, napkins, Kleenex, wet wipes, coupons, pens (different color inks, cos just one color is boring), nutribar (in case I get hungry randomly), surgical gloves (don’t ask me why, I have my reasons), lip balm, Eucerin aquafor (for emergencies), hair-tie, band-aids, measuring tape (because why not), lipstick and emergency pills (Xanax, ibuprofen, aspirin, Imodium).

And these are the items I put back in my backpack after I “organized” it. That is my lifesaver backpack. Once in a blue moon, you will see me carrying a purse, a normal size purse for a normal person. One in which I can only fit my wallet, phone, keys, Kleenex and my bottle of pills. I honestly don’t know what I’ll do without my things. Not that they are used/needed on a daily basis but knowing I have them gives me some sort of comfort. I know that when I forget to put something in my bag (changing purses is tragic, DON’T DO IT 🙂 ) I will need the exact thing I left behind. Like voluntarily leaving my umbrella at home, because “It’s not going to rain” to find out that IT ALWAYS RAINS WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR UMBRELLA!

This behavior might have something to do with my slight O.C.D tendencies or my past battles with anxiety. I always feel safe when I know I can reach inside my bag and take out what I (think) I need. Often times I don’t need anything but during a (now rarely) anxiety attack I look for my pill and end up taking none. The simple realization that I have it gives me a great feeling.

It’s a routine that has always worked for me. Ever since I can remember I over-packed. Every summer starting with my 5th-grade basketball tournaments and ending with hiking and mountain-ing (as I called the 8+ hr backpack mountain trekking) was a new challenge in Oana’s book How Much Can I Carry on My Back This Trip? My backpack always weigh between 25-30 kg (at least) and in that tube-like shape bag you will find neatly packed anything from canned food, warm change of clothes, emergency meds, thermos, tea bags, chocolate, nutrition bars, books, food warmer, boxed food of all kinds, plus other necessary items that are not necessary for other people. You never know when you need them is my hiking mantra. We once carried a cd/cassette old-fashioned player, plus cassette box in case we want to have our own little party in a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere. After 8-9 hr of walking, through rain and sometimes snow in the middle of August, we reach a secluded log cabin that has no electricity so the cassette player and food warmer are therefore redundant. And this is just a glimpse of a regular relaxing week in the mountains. Over-packing led to a temporary kidney dislocation [which I don’t believe actually happened] but the feeling that I have everything I need with me on a trip that was supposed to be easy and relaxing is worth everything.

I am sure most women choose to fill their bags and purses with insignificant things but from pragmatism to paranoia is only one step. You can’t be practical and safe from an apocalypse in the same time. 🙂

Even the trips for fun were turning into self-inflicted wounds. A trip outside of town with my grandma or just to our local downtown market was planned in detail and pre-packing was necessary for the safety of our adventure. My grandma used to ask me if there is a punishment that I have to submit to in order to leave the house. She was actually trying to say: “wherever we’re going doesn’t have to be painful”. I used to nod and still pack my bag with every single thing known to men because that is my thing.

Now, read the little poem below and be happy you are not like me 🙂

Just some random things [by Shivani Gakhar]

Charger, lip balm and my house key
These things I always bring with me.
A notebook, for inspiration can strike at any place
Some crayons (of course) and a bag of glitter (just in case)
Strangely a torch, cells and a magnet
Some safety pins for my gaping placket
A spork and straws from that time I ate out
Band-aids – I’ll need them, without a doubt
Not one pencil but there’s a sharpener
And for my clumsy fingers a nail cutter
A handkerchief I never use
A lens to read the news
Pen drive and a measuring tape
Just some tools of the trade
Paper clips are always handy
And instead of change, here’s some candy
A toothbrush for last minute plans
Some bells for my fidgety hands
Buttons from an old shirt
Tea that tastes like dirt
An unsent letter
A beautiful feather
In all this clutter, and all this madness
Is a quiet world of my own little mess.

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Life is Kicking my Butt [and I like it]

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“Today is going to be better just because I ran away from my problems” I found myself thinking a month or so ago. Where would I’d be if I’d start running from my problems and just be free for a day? Free from responsibilities, duties, assignments, commitments, appointments….just free. The absence of all that has worried me, diminished me, broken my sleep.

Life doesn’t give us breaks and every single day is a struggle of some sort. The older I get I see obstacles as lessons to learn from and less as punishment.

I had a good 2 months of experiencing anxiety-free Oana. Two months of loving my life and just enjoying being in the moment without being afraid that the happiness will end and I will return to my old self and my old ways. I also learned these past few weeks that even my old stuck up ways are genuine and worth carrying around because they have a lot to do with who I am.

This beating yourself up mode is tiring and sad. Nobody has ever criticized me more than I criticize myself. I got my harshest beatings from myself. Methodically applied and under a vigilant supervision. I did not want to miss a chance to drag myself down.

Work [the outside of the house one] has been dull. It is repetitive, uninteresting and unchallenging. A brain cells active killer. My work in my home study has come to a halt because I am too distracted to do any kind of work. I’ve started a few projects for the sole purpose of STARTING. I lost my sense of organization and my plans became chaotic. It took me over three months to go through my work papers. There is certainly a lack of interest from my part. I no longer have the patience to waste time in areas that bring no satisfaction. I think this in itself is an organization process, even if it’s just mental.

I am still recovering from the kicks I got the past spring when I thought I am up, up there where nobody and nothing can reach me to soon realize that all it took was a slap over my head from life itself who wanted to hold her beer because she was not done with me.

Like a big girl, I sucked it up and picked myself up. Summer is gone and fall is halfway over and I am still lingering in the spring and its unforgettable lessons.

Where would I be today without my beatings? Would I be a happier, richer person? Maybe. Brace yourself – the double negative – I CANNOT NOT BE MYSELF. I am accepting the scars and the bruises as part of the package. A delivery of services I did not require.

I am facing myself every morning with a grin on my face that translates: “I am really trying…”. Minus this morning, cos I walked into a wall on my way to the bathroom and all I could say was: “Really? All you had to do is walk straight”…. 🙂

 

Daddy’s little girl

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Growing up in a strong matriarchal family, I always wondered what my dad’s role really was. He was and still is the most typical father figure: his main responsibility was that of a provider and second came that of educator.

The women in the family had the sacred duty to raise and enrich our lives. Most lessons about life, in all its complexity, the preparedness for difficult challenges that might arise, the vast and intrinsic values of our destiny as women were taught by my grandma, my mom and my aunt.

While little boys seem almost entirely attached to their mothers’ skirts for most of their growing up years, little girls, on the other hand, choose to “fight” every waking hour for the love and attention of their fathers. 

At first, I was debating if I should write this in Romanian, because it seemed natural to do so, but I chose English instead just because my parents might find this writing posted somewhere online and they might not understand; but most of all because my dad might get hurt by some words or the poor choice of words I used to describe our relation.

The story is long but in just a few words I’d say that most of my childhood had been tormented by the image of a dad that did everything right up to a point when he no longer found that purposeful. That is when he himself became the tormentor. Long battles with his alcohol addiction followed by his complete inability to deal with my mother’s illness have led to a cruel infidelity episode and temporarily abandonment of his home and family.

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My dad, in the center of the picture.

I don’t even know what hurt more: my dad’s refusal to get help or my mom’s suffering while trying to help my dad. Being the youngest in my family has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I felt as if everybody loved me more and a curse because I stayed at home the longest and I had to witness all the scandals, sleepless nights and the vicious emotional shutdown that followed.

Raised by my grandma from my mother’s side meant that for almost 9 years she took the role of both parents, teacher, mentor, friend, companion and everything in between. She was my everything. When school started and I was going on 2nd grade I moved back with my parents and I thought that is going to be a great adventure, not knowing that the quiet and safe years of my childhood were coming to an end.

With both my siblings moving out of the house, my parents living under the same roof but not speaking to each other – I had to be something myself, either continue to be a kid and do what kids do at that age, or just mature abruptly and suck it up. It’s been a combination of the two, like a crazy growing pains emotional experiment.

I do feel that I was a little bit socially awkward, did not have many friends, but otherwise just like any other kid out there. I continued to go to school, being above average, studious, but non-conformant, great grades, respectful. My most rebellious moments were outbursts of anger and a faint warning addressed to my parents here and there: “I’m going to move back with grandma”. That never happened though, which really pained me.

As an adolescent I still chose to see my dad in great colors, meaning that almost every mishap was forgotten. I wanted him to be around, to help me with my science homework (he was a Physics teacher among other things), take me out for ice-cream. You know, simple things. In my head I always knew that I could count on my mom to always be there. She was a constant reminder that we can still have a family. But I was yearning for my dad, which put me in really embarrassing situations. Every drunken moment when I was sent by my mom to pick up my dad from the bar (which happened a lot) was digging deep in my mental well-being and scarred me for good. It was fear, and embarrassment and a lot of anger. I hated him every night he came home looking and sounding like a complete stranger and loved him even more the next day when everything was back to normal.

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Playing backgammon with my dad a few summers ago

In my 30’s now and I realized that my dad and I have never been on a trip together (considering my parents took both my brother and sister to the seaside during their summer breaks for over 10 years in a row). My school breaks were spent mostly with my grandma and my mom (especially after she was forced into early retirement because of her illness). I had a few trips with my sister and my first vacation away from home with my brother was 2 years ago.

My sister moved out in her early 20’s, so did my brother. I went to college at 19, moved to the capital city but spent every weekend with my parents. With time, things got better at home. My parents reached a reconciliation point and just like many Romanian families, they decided to stay together through thick and thin and work it out. I was mad at my mom for a long time because she decided to give my dad another chance. I truly wanted her to leave my dad and move on, but back then I did not realize what love can do. It changes life, perspectives, it changes everything. My parents were meant to stay together, live together, suffer and be happy together. 

Time has passed and old wounds have healed, but I can’t help wondering how my life would have been without my dad in it. My relationships with men have been deeply influenced by the connection I had with my dad. All his mistakes were projected unto the men that at a point or another were part of my life. And after all these years I still hold my dad responsible for some of my failures. He was not a perfect family man but in a way he was an amazing parent. I learned from his mistakes more than I learned from his good example; and that it’s something good to be left with.

It’s amazing how much we are willing to endure when we love someone. As a mature women I feel that I owe my resilience and endurance to my mom, and the power of forgiveness to my dad. I wish I could pay them back one day; all their endless love, and support and all the grace that came from offering their best advice every time.

My biggest wish is to take my dad on a trip to Rome (it has been his biggest wish for a long time). He is a sort of a history nerd, just like me, and the eternal city fascinated him for many years. So, I either have to start saving money today for that trip or win the lottery. One way or another I will make that wish come true for him.

 

On the road…

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OnTheRoad-Oliver Fluck

Photo credit @ Oliver Fluck

For a long time now I’ve been yearning for a place that I could call HOME. I’ve been stuck between two worlds: my old home and my new home. As much as I want to call my new destination home, I feel as if that will take some of the spirit and essence away from my old world, which I still consider my safe go-to-place.

A feeling so hard to put into words.

I had no idea where the road will take me at 25 when I first came to this part of the world. I have always embraced the opportunity to travel and get lost in the unknown. All my experiences across the boarders have been carefully planned and except for the “unknown” parts of my travels, where I found myself lost on I don’t know what street in Amsterdam or Venice, everything else was another wonderful close encounter with the beauty of this earth.

The thing that I love most about being away from home is the chance to be alone, and to be able to acknowledge how small myself and my problems really are. In a place where no one knows me, where I know nobody, I often times feel like ‘home’.

I cannot say that I have traveled much but I have traveled far. And that in itself it’s scary. My grandma used to call my mom and I people of the road in that we look as if we came into this world always on the go, like nomadic tribes, without a home, whose offspring come into the world on the side of the road and all they do is move from a spot to another, with no destination, and not calling any place ‘home’.

I traveled for the love of traveling and the furthest I went was across the ocean. At first everything was a visit, a lot of comings and goings. My dream of finally becoming a perpetual tourist was coming trueThen life happened and adult decisions had to be made. “Should I stay or should I go now?” was ringing in my ears like a bad song on repeat. After graduate school and ‘not finding a job’ situation, money became scarce, I was too old to live with my parents and the embarrassment of not succeeding professionally made me become eager to hit the road. And I did. A few months after I graduated.

The summer I graduated went by fast and the thought of starting my PhD program in the fall was tormenting me. The 2 years of Master’s program proved that I no longer need that type of schooling. Plus I can learn and read all that stuff on my own. And not just that, but even with a PhD in my pocket there was still no real prospect for a descent job.

Mid-November came, and with a brand new visa and 2 pieces of luggage I found myself in Amsterdam looking at that awesome airport all decorated for Christmas. I felt small, nervous, but happy.

Then, for the next 3-4 years I kept traveling, visiting family, tutoring and doing most of my work from home. I started selling my clothes online for pocket money, learning how to appraise vintage and antiques… later on apprising homes and making an extra buck working from anywhere I could find an internet connection. And I absolutely loved it!

Something was missing though. Trying to find out what I really needed in order to feel complete, I went back to Europe for 6 months. Took on a teaching job challenge (which to this day remains one of my favorite and ‘awesome-est’ things I’ve ever done), traveled some more and then flew back to the States in the fall. Every time I leave from a place where I put down roots I leave with a constant feeling that I have lost something that I could never get back.

My travels came to a ‘slowdown’ around 2013 when I decided to get married and take on a new type of adventure, one that grounded me, but did not dissuaded me of my travel bug. If I gained something from this new adventure is responsibility and the true value of hard work. My mantra became ‘I need to work to pay bills, but I need to continue what I like doing while working and paying bills’. Sounds really ‘plastic’, but has worked wonders so far.

My next chapter is finishing my work at my current job by the end of December, then figuring out which of the 3-4 projects that I’m currently involved in will win me over. And I have exactly 4 months to figure that out.

To Be Continued…

Heil to the Unknown Badass War Journalist ~ Gerda Taro

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Gerda Taro in a few humble words: born Gerda Pohorylle in Stuttgart, Germany; Jewish descent. Today is her birthday, so the curious people will find out more by checking the Google Doodle dedicated to Gerda Taro. Considered one of the first female photojournalist to focus and die covering the war frontlines (Spanish Civil War). Alongside Endre Friedmann (alias Robert Capa), her partner and companion, she embarked on a mission to capture life as she saw it through the camera lenses, with all its bitter and sweet casualties.

Educated at a boarding school in Switzerland, the young Gerda returns to Germany to find her family torn by decisions regarding their survival in the context of the rise to power of the National-Socialists. In her early 20’s she decides to head to Paris, while her family will attempt a relocation to Palestine. She will never see her family again.

She chose to oppose Nazi Germany’s politics and found herself fleeing Germany in the upheaval of anti-Semitic movements from the early to mid 1930’s. Shortly after she established her residence in Paris in 1934, she met Endre Friedmann, a Jewish Hungarian, whom she fell in love with. They shared the same passion for photography, Gerda starting her career as a photography editor in his studio. They made a living by selling news photography materials under the made-up name Robert Capa.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Gerda and her friends decided to contribute to the “war effort” by making it known throughout the world through heartbreaking, explicit shots. All photos were taken under Robert Capa’s “signature”, but later on it became obvious there were taken using different style/techniques (Gerda was taken square-shaped shots using her Rollei camera, Endre was keen about his Leica rectangular-shaped photos. For a short period of time, in 1937, they will produce photography on 135 mm film under “Capo & Taro”.

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Gerda and Endre. Photo credit: Fred Stein Archive

She worked in Barcelona, Cordoba and Valencia, her works being published in papers from Switzerland, France and U.S. that had a strong communist and anti-fascist direction. She turned down Friedmann’s marriage proposal and started her own temporary work station with photography material covering the bombing of Valencia from 1937, which alone brought her the most notoriety. She was soon seen as a reputable member of the anti-fascist Europe circle of intellectuals (associating herself with names like Orwell or Hemingway, who were militating for a Spanish Republic.

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Photo credit: International Center of Photography

Her war photography was standing as true testimony for the clash between the Nationalist propaganda, which was claiming that they have Brunete region (around Madrid) under control, and the Republican forces, that managed in fact to push the Nationalists out of the area. For more on the Spanish Civil War, see: https://www.britannica.com/event/Spanish-Civil-War and https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10008214.

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Photo credit: International Center of Photography

“During her coverage of the Republican army retreat at the Battle of Brunete, Taro hopped onto the footboard of a car that was carrying wounded soldiers. A Republican tank crashed into its side and Taro suffered critical wounds, dying the following day, 26 July 1937.” [Source: Ron Steinman, (October 2007), Capa and Taro: Together at Last].

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

Riding imaginary horses

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Imaginary

Imaginary Art Work credit @Kelly Tan

We are the sum of all our memories.

Since I find it difficult to define myself I say I am defined by what I have lived. What remains of us after we are gone is how people left behind remember us.

In all its immensity and beauty, life picks some of us, from billions of other souls to show a path with circumstances, trials and tests that we have to adapt to and pass just like students have to in a classroom. Life draws a line, and then we get to answer for ourselves. Some of us have passed, some have failed, and failed, until the lesson is learned. No life’s trial is ever passed until we are learned a lesson.

A life well lived, as my grandma used to say, is a life that gives you peace of mind every night you rest your head down to sleep and a good well reason to want to wake up in the morning. “When you look back at all the years passed do not regret a thing. So do things that, in your old age, when you look back, will give you comfort. Do everything in full; women in our family have never been ‘half done job’. So do your best in everything you do, and when you will be old, like me, to know that you had a purpose.” [my grandma MARIA’s most cherished advice].

I have not found the purpose that my grandma was talking about and my biggest disappointment to this day is that I have failed in putting all my trust in myself. I could have gotten far in this life with what I already know, with my life’s choices and my family’s advice. Professionally, in my own words, I feel as if I hit a brick wall, fell on my butt and never got back up, and the furthest, literally, I’ve ever come is a matter of distance. I am now living 5, 000+ miles away from home.

The distance between me and my [expected] career is the distance between planet Earth and the nearest inhabited planet. You do the math.

But, on a more positive note, I have enjoyed the memories I have created. Every up and down on Oana’s life scale was calculated with the highest amount of sweat and anxiety. I know nothing in this life comes easy. All good and not so good things that have happened have taken something from me and left something behind, a replacement for what I no longer posses. And that’s okay too since, I probably never owned anything to begin with.

At 33 I am aware that my career ended with me living home at 28. I look back and I want to regret my decision, because regret will give me a reason for blowing up my professional life for a fantasy. Regret is a strong word. Maybe that fantasy of me traveling the world in my 20’s is actually my purpose. I’m not imagining things anymore and my naivete is now becoming an alley. I was not meant to be a UNHCR in my 20’s just like I was not ready to become a diplomat at 24 or a RFS at 25.

I am today the sum of all my choices. Later on, the choices have turned into memories; and those are good to have too.

I am not meant for a career I guess, not because I can’t define one as my own, but mostly because there is no career in this world that can define me. And I can live with that.

 

 

 

 

Happy Everything Part II

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I’ve had some (psychically) tiring few days. I am still trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. And most of all, why other people’s infringement on my well-being upsets me so.

I’ve been trying too much for too long. To be helpful, to please others, to JUST BE THERE. For whomever needed me. Anytime. Anywhere. Not sure for how long I can keep this up.

It takes so little effort to make me happy. So many insignificant little things that mean exactly nothing to others, might mean the whole world to me. Whenever I get to that level of pure joy and enchantment I soon find out how ephemeral that moment really was.

Then I try to look around for other small “pieces of happiness”, like broken glass that I try to put back together and make whole again. I call it building the jar. While looking around for my happy moment I ran into my favorite couple. The ‘happy everything couple’. <3<3<3<3<3

The beautiful elderly couple, who wished me ‘Happy Everything’ a few weeks ago, returned for a visit and this time, before they left, they made sure to wish me to have the greatest day I’ve ever had. Now, how beautiful is that?

I don’t think I’ve seen happier people in my entire life. The lady, who calls herself a chatterbox, briefly told me that we all have something that we’re good at. ‘My husband is good with numbers. Once he sees a number, he never forgets it. Me, on the other hand, I have a chatty mouth. That’s my gift.’ Their visit was short but they gave back so much. They helped me put back some of the pieces that I’ve lost these past few days while trying to help others. Their visit has been one of the nicest things that has happened to me lately. They concluded their “stop by” with their signature ‘I love you and may this day be your best one yet’. THEY ARE COMPLETE STRANGERS, but that did not prevent me from “yelling ” after them: ‘I love you too!’ A part of the love we feel, in general, comes from moments and people that make us, for a short period of time, experience pure joy. I only wish there were more of those.

To all those who, each and every day, or once in a blue moon, participate in ‘building my jar moment’ I say: May today be the happiest day you’ve ever had. You certainly deserve it.

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D & J during their visit. My ‘Happy Everything’ people ❤

Married with (no) children

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I’m a 33 years old Romanian woman currently living in the great nation U.S.A. I was brought up in a strong matriarchal family with my grandma Maria as the head of the family. My family is now scattered all over the world. From that uncle that nobody talks about anymore, who escaped the country during the glorious communist times and established residence in Australia, to my aunt, uncle and cousins from Italy and now me…the youngest of all kids/grandchildren to move abroad.

When we were younger, before everybody I know had the “audacity” to desire a breath of foreign air across the borders, my family reunions, birthdays, weddings, funerals, etc. looked more like bits and pieces of My Big Fat Greek Wedding than your typical kin gatherings. And that was just fine. Most people in my family talk loudly, they interrupt each other, they “curse and spit” at each other for good luck. No hard feelings. Just another Romanian family doing what it does best: eat, drink, listen to obnoxious music nobody understands and planning futures for everybody in the family. *Cos that’s what we do.

Not sure if it mattered to the family [read ‘elders’] that most of us had already planned our futures, had a clear picture in our minds regarding our life choices….whatever we thought we had figured out was immediately canceled by the “council of the elders”. Everybody was aware of what everybody else was doing, there were no secrets. Every single detail of our lives was dissected and analyzed. We were educated in a spirit of fairness and justice for all. We were taught to be humble and love each other. We had to attend Sunday mass at our Orthodox church and be active in our community. We were raised entirely by our grandparents because our parents were working all the time [helping in the building of a strong powerful communist state]; so for many years we were our grandparents’ children. We learned EVERYTHING we needed to know in life from our grandmas: manners, respect, language, religion, punishment for our mistakes, good food…and all the love in the world. Then we went to school, some of us dropped out early and started working at an early age, some went to school for 20+ years. In a way or another everybody was working for a living. During the communist regime – “unemployment” was a fictional word, “Lazy people go to prison”, my grandma used to say. For some of us, the next thing after school, was starting a family. And I mean right-away. No breaks, no vacations, no pauses. School-work-family. The Romanian holy trinity.

Now, some of us were stubborn and decided that marriage is not for us. Children outside the holy matrimony was “forbidden”. And with the new economy and the “millennial syndrome” some of us said ‘pass’ to marriage and children altogether.

In my family, the idea of not wanting children is an absolute abomination. At 33 all I want is peace of mind, a good night’s sleep, a good wine and all the travel I can get with a low income.

I genuinely love kids. I had my first official babysitting job when I was only 8 years old. And I was good at it. I wanted way more things when I was in my 20’s. Becoming a mother when I was in my 20’s sounded way more realistic than it does now in my 30’s. Not sure why. Year after year I realize that might not happen for me and not sure how to feel about it.

Married for almost 5 years now (whoaaa, 5 already?) and no kids in sight. And I have a distinctive feeling that I became the pariah in my family. And these things don’t get “unpunished”. The head of the family is no longer with us but she left 2 executioners in her place and they will make sure our family keeps the tradition alive. So we will have to continue to get married, breed and just perpetuate the loud breeding Romanian eaters (as a reference to MBFGW that seemed so appropriate [smiley face]).

Motherhood might hit me at some point…when I will hear my biological clock ticking. Until then, I beg you, please do not start a world of trouble for yourself by bringing up the subject of baby-making. This is an intimate, personal, none-of-your-business territory. Nobody knows what battles one fights in order to remain sane [and together] in a world that pretends to know what’s good for everybody. 

Everything you want is on the other side of fear

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Self-doubt has killed my dreams [maybe not all of them, but the important ones].

To my younger self I’d say: “do not worry so much, do not be afraid to make mistakes, dare more”. I would have been the best version of myself today if I would have looked up to me as the person that will lead me forward.

Forget the examples, good or bad, that you’ve been thought to follow or stay away from. They have put you in a box. Whatever you need to know about this life is already there. You got it. No school, no book, no lecture is going to teach you how to live and how to dream.

The way we’ve been brought up, society, our own experiences have created this structure, a background in which we are allowed to evolve. The amount of dissatisfaction that we experience every single day is larger than we’d like to admit. Part of that comes from the fact that we’ve let ourselves down. We managed to do that through constant and repetitive actions that have minimized us in our own eyes.

I have always had this feeling that other people are and should be more important than I am. That their lives and actions count more than mine. Not sure when I first started feeling this. And not sure if it did too much good for me either. All I know is that it taught me to be humble, altruistic and mindful of others. In the process I’ve lost touch with my own reality.

I’ve become scared, worrying constantly that I will disappoint, and always, ALWAYS staying focused on pleasing others.

Be helpful and take pride in a job well done, don’t harm anybody intentionally, be useful, but don’t make anybody or anything the center of your world. In the end you will become this miserable unhappy person that wanted to do it all and accomplished nothing. Just like me.

Are you afraid to put yourself first? Don’t be. Sounds selfish saying that? Maybe. I don’t know. But I have to start somewhere. Somewhere I’ve never been before. A place where I can love myself more, take care of what I want and go through with all the things that I’ve left unfinished because I was afraid I will disappoint. The only person I’ve ever let down was myself. The people that genuinely cared for me understood my struggles and pushed me towards bettering myself, the ones that where only there for the enjoyment of seeing me fall never cared about me to begin with.

All I know is that I WANT. Something, not sure exactly what, but the WANT is there…

Happy Everything

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happy-everything-from-kaysha-weiner-photographer

Today, at work, this elderly couple (in their late 80’s), holding hands, had some words of wisdom for me. For a while now I’ve identified myself as a person who has lost the meaning of happy. “Lost” might sound like a harsh word so I will temporarily replace it with “misunderstood”.

What stroked me as odd was that they had so much to tell me in such a short time and they were so fluent in their conviction that we know each other or we have known each other for years [so no further explanation was needed].

“Life lessons 101” from people that that have (visibly) lived their lives to the fullest. Now, how did they do that? What am I missing?

Mind you, I work in an assisted living and dementia facility so more often than I could count I have people talking to me thinking that I am someone else. But not the happy couple from today. They “knew” exactly who I was. I would not put down here the things they’ve said to me but the sheer feeling of immense gratitude that lingered after they left is something I will probably want to carry with me for a while.

And at the end, on their way out they mimicked a hug and said “Much love…something, something [followed by]…I love you.” And let’s not forget the “Happy Everything!”.

P.S. This is the first time in my life that I hear the “Happy Everything” expression!

 

And this:

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