today i am grateful (and full of love)

For him.
And for the little things that define us…

Like how he texts me love messages in the middle of the day
How he gives me the first sip of every drink
He covers me with a blanket, always.
How he fixes dinner and takes care of Sami so that I can rest
How he plans for an exciting night on the balcony, with candles
How he handles my total craziness with a smile
Or always makes the better coffee for me
The fact that he is always there for my big and scary firsts: my 1st interview, my first day at work, the 1st time I gave a lecture and when we had Sami together!
How he brings me flowers just because
How he reaches out to hug me when we are out with friends
How he insists that I never carry the heavy shopping bags, or the light ones for that matter
How he sneaks from work to meet for a romantic lunch
How he cuts and dyes my hair
How he sings for ME at a concert
How he never keeps a grudge
He rubs my feet for hours
And he likes my mother and my friends
How he takes me dancing although he doesn’t particularly like it
How he tells me that I am beautiful even in those moments when I know I am not
How he glows when I am excited about something
Or how he makes sure that after a shower I have my back towel-dried
He notices the things I like when we window shop, and then finds a way to get them for me
How he is totally the best daddy in the world – patient, caring, curious and proud
The way he kisses me
The way he hugs Sami and carries him face down
And how he makes fun of my feet
How he is quiet when I need to scream
The way we hold hands according to the season
The way he cooks for me despite all my weird requirements
How he puts a chocolate bar under the door for us 🙂
How he sings to me when we go hiking
And he always knows the way
How he lets me be weak and let go of my guard
How he respects ALL of my decisions, even when they are about him
How we find silly things to laugh about, all the time
How we reinvent ourselves
How he tells me I smell good

His smell
His embrace
His eyes
And laughter
And his skin
And our skin…

I love you, S.
Let’s have a great date (right after the usual St Valentine’s fight)

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the guest house

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning is new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the same, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi

on refining my truths

An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.

by Adrienne Rich.

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thoughts

This “Letter to boys” that an uncle wrote to his nephews resonated deeply with me. Sharing a small piece with you:

“The company you avoid defines you.
Eliminating people gently, discreetly, is an art, and you must learn this early on. Otherwise too much of your adult life will be devoted to avoiding people you do not like, and not enough of your hours can be spent with the ones you love”

I would add: Flush regularly your nose passages and your cluttered relationships.
Make sure your energy flows easily around you and the people you share your life with.
Clean your desk, your cupboards. Give away the stuff you don’t need or use daily. Relinquish burdensome friendships. Keep the main thing, the main thing. Empty your inner (and outer) house and your heart will be full!

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closing up year 1 “down under”

So many things happened in one year…and I am relieved it is over, as it has been among the toughest…and as you may know those are also the best teachers.

I am now a confirmed PhD Scholar and somehow managed to pull an amazing presentation last week. So what?

This has been by far the most unexpected, challenging and overwhelming year in terms of exploring my own personal knowledge boundaries, the way I think about knowledge(s), how I construct meaning around myself, and how I interpret the world (research and work just follows). I can now fully state that the more I dig and read and write, the less I know. There are, though, times of insights. Snippets of light. States of flow. When all of a sudden you climb up invisible stairs and you are able to look down and discern a pattern, a shape, a link…and that’s when I know this is my path, and I go on blindly following.

Ok, heavy speech I know, but what I mean is, I am super hyped that I was given this hardship, and that this bit is over, it is past me, I am on the other side now! Doing what we do, is not for the faint-hearted (as it turns out I am one)…support support and more support is what one needs not only when doing a full-time PhD, full-time mothering, and when you also what to be fully present for your partner, your home, community, interests, etc. When support is lacking or none, you end up like me. Totally overwhelmed, lost, and ultimately sick. My body has been struggling for the past 9 months to get me through, and not without fall-backs. I spent this first year permanently ill, all infections, maladies, fatigue, depression, anxiety, migraines, you name it… Naturally, when a cold persists for that long and you cannot catch up on rest, it gets into your mind and the way you start thinking about yourself. It consumes you. It conquers you. It wins.

Well, to bring out the light in all this, my illnesses and body, had ultimately thought me the best of lessons! Not until I began to listen, I managed to prioritize and pull myself together…Insightfully, at once and also very slowly, slowly opening up to my senses, listening to my feet, my stomach, my ears, my nose, my hair, my heart. I am determined to selfishly and selflessly devote myself to a better me, a healthier me, a sane me. With no better purpose such as to be a better mum, a better scholar, a better wife, a better friend. No.

Just for my own sake this time. And this is to be ME. Just ME. To accept me. No better versions of me, but this one. No better future ME, the one that comes with “if’s” and “should’s” and “oh, must-have’s”. I am who I am. It is what it is. And it is now. And now is all I have got.

You may try to give it a go. close-up the last chapter, the last year, the last project…and just be.

Have a brilliant YOU-day!

date thursdays

we feel like little thieves every Thursday morning when we drop off Sami to kindy, and instead of heading to the office, we head to… a date! No lipstick and heels, no fine dinner and bubbly, no dancing and midnight swims…those are long forgotten (for now, until Sami is off to college calling his parents on the weekend only to get to their voice mail, a-haa!).

We now go for a much humbler experience. A minute or two of uninterrupted coffee. We order, we sit, we wait, we gaze at each other, filled with the effort of recognizing and slowly remembering WHO that person was, how their hands felt, what their voice was, and then we are just walking and talking, and then some more talking. We sometimes have lunch, we sometimes have a picnic by the river, we go watch a movie. We even had a couple’s massage.
Then Stoyan goes for a late shift at the emptying campus. I pick Sami up, holding him a tad stronger, sniffing his hair a tad longer.

these are our date days. we like them.

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PhD-ing…

“Most of the knowledge and much of the genius of the research worker lie behind their selection of what is worth observing. It is a crucial choice, often determining the success or failure of months of work, often differentiating the brilliant discoverer from the … plodder”. Alan Gregg, former director of Medical Sciences for the Rockefeller Foundation

I am currently in the mids of 2 systematic reviews, collecting and summarizing what’s out there in the area of my research, and quite honestly I can admit that I couldn’t be further from brilliance! I am beginning to realize that when it comes to critical thinking you either have it or not, and it is not something one acquires with experience…