August 18, 2016

Early Days

I'm so super grateful for having a home of our own. Intellectually I am incredibly grateful for my ability to have mortgaged a home, but physically and spiritually I am experiencing all kinds of other things. Mostly exhaustion. I never really appreciated how little islands of growth around random trees spread throughout a yard could require so much work in the way of weeding. And trimming. I'm fully, for the first time in my life, understanding why I always saw people outside their homes kneeling by their various shrubs. They were weeding the millionth weed of the week is my guess.

So yes, the weeds. The hedges. The basement. (Yes, it still has a funny smell. Costea has now torn down most of the walls and ceilings and we are on our way to cleaning and sealing). The insects! I have to continuously ask myself whether it's OK to kill them. On the one hand, it's no. But on the other...I mean, once they cross over the line of being in my home... I mean just last night I turned on the light in our bedroom to find a nickel-size spider making its way hurriedly across our white bed sheets. Um nope. Sorry. Here I go creating karma. Slam. Dead. Sigh.

But even so, we're inviting people over. So many people I want to host! The house is nowhere near where I'm even comfortable having people over. We haven't bought a piece of furniture. But I know if I wait, I won't get to shower my loved ones with love, attention and hospitality they've shown me over the years. Here are a few snaps of some of our early days. We can also consider these part of the before album :)

Pre weeding and trimming workouts

Running through the porch

Dusk playtime

Watchful mamas

My beloved niece

Boys helping in the kitchen=always welcome!

Our friends across the street  
Everyone loves the baby doll sheep

The naked window that needs dressing (she's so embarrassed!). And unhung art, random plugs...


July 22, 2016

A Picture Says 1,000 Words

And while true, I'll still add some words of my own. I have hit a major milestone in my life, in our life I should say: home ownership (well, mortgage ownership...). As a person who has skirted major commitments until her 30's, and then so dragging her feet into it, buying a home was emotionally, spiritually, and mentally challenging. And of course a blessing too. Costea and I have had as smooth a transition into American life as one could expect. Returning home from the Peace Corps is tough. Moving to a new country for life? Super tough. Returning home, quite unexpectedly close to where I grew up, it was so nice to be close enough to see old friends from time to time. Making new ones, not so easy. We're in that funny age where most people we know have children and so we're that childless couple that can do anything whenever, but don't have friends that can do that with us.

Then there was apartment living. I know many, many (most?) people in this world live in apartments. But I didn't grow up that way, and neither did Costea. In fact, his entire life he had a large garden, raised his family's own animals, grapevines, name it. That's a LOT of work, so when you move into an apartment with no outdoor access, you can imagine the shock to the system. At first it seems like a luxury to not have so many "chores". But soon, the restlessness kicks in. So for two years, we made it through watching too much TV and having perpetual "cabin fever". 

And so here we are now. Our little house in the woods. (LOVED that book in 2nd grade!) It's got strange basement smells, more bugs and creepy crawlers than I care for, bathrooms with pink and green tile, and kitchen cabinets that scream, "I love the eighties"! But it's ours. We have so much work to do, it can seem overwhelming. But isn't that life? We can often see the bigger picture, the vision, but it's all of the little steps in between that get us anywhere.

We have many, many steps ahead. We have a place to channel our energy. We can create. And for this, we are grateful. There are so many reasons we loved this little house in the woods. Some of those reasons are easily apparent, and some only exist now in our minds, awaiting to be brought to life by inspired hearts and hands. 

I have ideas for posting about our journey in fixing up our little house in the woods and all of the life lessons that process will teach us. I'll be very happy to be writing again. 

Om tat sat.

December 13, 2015

3 Simple Tips to Survive the Holidays (and Your Life)

Just an opportunity to share our chakra-inspired tree :)

I work with a wonderful woman who always goes the extra mile to support the university students who are studying entrepreneurship and spending time in the venture center where we work. She recently invited a psychologist to speak to the young people about stress management and I decided to also sit in on the talk, since really, can we get enough of that? If you've ever read my writing, you know that I focus a lot on the idea that we are living in a time where we have more input data than EVER before and that the new rate of input quite literally exploded in the past 50, 20, 10, 5 years. I don't believe that we have biologically evolved as quickly as this rate of change around us, and that is why we see an increase in rates of societal "dis-ease" like anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc.

I focus on this all mostly because I experience it. I am highly aware of both the increased levels of stress that our society introduces to us, but also the types of stress that we encounter with each major life change: going off to college, a death in the family, new jobs, marriages, divorces, having children and so on. These life changes are enough to put a person into a special mode of coping, but when you add on the rapidly changing and chaotic world we are living in, the topic of stress management and methods for reducing the effects of stress on the mind, body, soul, are of utmost importance.

It's great that I also happen to be writing about this near the holiday season and though we might (hopefully) face this time with great joy and light (this IS the point an aside, we are nearing the winter solstice, the time when we'll tip over the hump of losing more light each day, and instead start to gain it back), the truth is that for many of us, all of the hustle bustle can throw us into a bit of chaos.

Here's a fantastic example, and I share this with full knowledge that my own experiences are perhaps less chaotic of those people with small children and other extra layers of concern like illness, grief, and other responsibilities. Yesterday was a Saturday and being a day that I don't have to be at my 9-5, I usually end up taking care of all of the things I am too tired to approach in the evenings of the weekdays. So I made my list: 

  • Get ornaments for tree (our first "bigger" one! last year was a small table-top guy with just lights);
  • Find glass containers for making candles as gifts;
  • Take advantage of the 20% off Target coupon expiring that day to find useful gifts for Costea's family in Moldova;
  • Maybe run in to a favorite overpriced clothing store that I just emailed me telling me everything is 25% off (this one never happened).
After the slow Saturday morning breakfast (just love that!), organizing the apartment and whatnot, I head out. I have my favorite yoga music playing loudly in the car, the windows are down because it's so warm outside, and I am SINGING my way to accomplishing the goals on my list. YAY.

Well. I should have know that everyone else was also going to the mall. being just two weeks out from Christmas. Between finding a parking spot, finding what I needed in the store without being in someone's way, and the fluorescent lights and artificial fragrances galore, I got a pounding headache. POUNDING. The little voice in my head was like, "Girl, you should have done this kind of shopping long before now, you know better". I guess I do, but I guess I forgot. Isn't that what we do all.the.time? To end the story, I had a headache until I went to bed even after going home to stretch, drink water my best to relax. 

This little story is just a small example of how hard it can be to remain calm, collected and cool in the world we live in. But alas, there are methods to the face the madness! Since I've already rambled quite a bit, I'll try to keep this as succinct as possible and hope that you'd gain a little insight into making this time of year, and your own life generally, as amazing as possible. Here are my interpretations of our guest speaker's tips:

Tip #1: Observe vs. Absorb

As potentially THE most guilty person of absorbing other people's shit, I can testify to the importance of this tip. My goodness. I used to think I was so nice and sweet because I let people be themselves around me and I'd listen and I'd try to help. Well, while all of that can be good at times, the truth is that it's not my job (nor yours) to FEEL what others are feeling. Many times we can just walk into a room and KNOW that something just doesn't feel "good". The tip here is to observe that and use your discernment as to what to do next. You can either leave the room or if that's not an option, continue in observation mode, but you don't have to actually feel something that is not yours. Observe people's crazy. See it. Delay. And be entertained. One way the visiting speaker talked about this was a mentality of "Sunny in here, crazy out there". Keep your sunny inner weather no matter what. When you KNOW you're going to be around people who bring the crazy, grab a bowl of popcorn and watch the show. 

Tip #2: Protect Your Sponge

Now that we've looked at observing versus absorbing, now let's dive a bit deeper into protecting our "sponge". The way the woman spoke about this was awesome. She pointed out the fact that we are actually, biologically, like sponges. We have receptors connected to our nervous system that are always reaching out into the world as well as taking in the data around us. One example of this would be the pheromones we always hear about that either physically attract or repel us to/from others. So, in the above scenario above of entering a crazy-ass energy room, you know it's crazy even without words being spoken because of your receptors/your sponge. You're taking it in and processing it. And once you realize this is NOT something you want to absorb you can protect your sponge. Here are a few ways how:

  1. Visualization: Imagine you're that sponge and you're just not going to absorb anything icky so you need a protective barrier. One great way of doing that is imagining millions of little diamonds glistening all around you. They are hard, light, reflective, and beautiful. You can see through them and the other people can still see you, but the energy flow into you is reflected off and/or transmuted to something much more lovely. (maybe diamonds ARE a girl's best friend? huh?)
  2. Have a response ready. Our guest speaker shared this one and I liked it. When Aunt Sally or Uncle Freddy or cousin Sue who you KNOW is always bringing some crazy mozies on over to you, you can have some phrase ready-to-go so that allows you to disengage in their crazy. It might look like this: 
                Crazy Person: "Oh my gosh, Donald Trump is going to kill our country and my boss hates me and the house we bought is a disaster and....blah, blah, blah"

                You: "Interesting" (and walks away or changes the subject to something positive).  

Tip # 3: Respond vs. React

Especially when we're with people we know very well and know what to expect from them, we can tend to get reactive. But since we do know what to expect we can also choose to be responsive instead. And this also works well with the strangers who bring crazy (you know, the guy who cut you off at the gas station, or the person who butted in line). Rather than allowing yourself to get in a huff and react to their crazy, pause, take a moment, and respond to the situation rather than allowing for a knee-jerk reaction. This should help you to keep your cool, keep your "sunny" inside :)

I'll end this post with the great Mark Twain quote about trauma,

 “I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” 

In other words, we create many of the dramatic experiences in our lives simply by letting the crazy in and absorbing crazy that's not even ours. So put up your diamond shield, sit back, and enjoy the show! I love you!

Om shanti, Om peace.