life cycle, lately

eat, sleep (mostly nap), coffee, shower, feed, read, write, reply, apply, snack, stretch, read, write, snack, tea, read, look into space, …, more looking into space, write, scribble, file, reorganize files, read, write, slouch, grouch, welcome, bathe, tuck, Once upon a time there was a boy…, yawn, read, discuss, nap, sweat, awake, repeat.

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

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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flow

Do you know about flow? That intense state of being, when you are engulfed in the present moment, totally devoted to what you are doing…immersed, to the point of no sleep (or getting up at 3 am to write), no food (I completely forget about meals, me? the foodie? yes!), no external world whatsoever, and totally loving it?!

Yes, I skipped my morning shower yesterday. And I even got to notice it, so maybe there is still some times when I switch off and leave my realm. On top of all, I am still recovering from a nasty cold, but I have found this to be a very flow-like time for me.

When I started my doctorate 6 months ago, I was initially completely lost, almost drowned in all the information out there that I just had to take in with no theoretical framework to hold it together, to contain it. And you know what this means? Just that. No. Framework.

It’s like a very complex painting that has no frame, and it is all over the wall, spreading outside of the room, leaving the premises of your house only to explode in a big blotch of colours, shapes and meanings. Quite post-modern, I may say…but only recently I became aware of this, and even of the above comparison. Because, clearly, we don’t know what we don’t know, until we go back and realize what we did not know.

Naturally, there was a havoc. All previous ideas, quite influenced by others, went to hell and I started my project from scratch.I am building it right now. Reading and writing, then doing more reading, and more and more…At times, I just want to throw it all away, as learning more about things and all the ramifications that come from a single piece of information, are utterly confusing. It creates tons of anxieties. It makes me feel so little.

I think I am beginning to see the scaffolding of things and this is what keeps me going, as I now have the shoulders of a giant to sit on, and this is very reassuring. As much as I wanted to be a pioneer I still need others’ shoulders (and other body parts presumably) to begin my own adventure from.

I guess what this all means is that I find meaning in what I do! And it is so rewarding! It is flow.

And thank goodness for husbands who take care of children in moments like these! I would have never done this without you. Period.

gratitudes

i have been a lucky gal. when i have a minute to pause i like to give thanks to my fate. it helps me stay focused on the right attitude that i have been trying to cultivate for some time instead of the ever so pressing urge to contemplate on the problems that are awaiting my attention. i sometimes achieve it and most times i don’t. it is a learning process, i guess. it never ends.

what i really appreciate today is simple, quite basic actually, but we do not usually recognize the simplest things in life, right? well, i stopped taking those for granted ever since i lost quite a few and i am most grateful for that, as now i know better how to appreciate the smallest of things…

– my family is healthy
– we finally have a home
– we have means of transportation and we are free to go anywhere (we can even afford gas)
– we can also afford to have food on our table (we got a table with 4 chairs for an amazing deal), clean water, hot water, towels and sheets, candles and soap
– internet (we missed that a lot. turns out life is not only easier with it, it is Possible with it)
– we have a bed, and one for Sami (bought second hand, as almost everything we own now; i personally painted it, and i am super proud)
– the old and antique bench that we revamped (got it for $5! a cup of coffee is $4!)
– my mum (her cheering voice is so warming even from the other side of the world)
– my grandparents (the first ones we called when we got a home phone installed)
– my amazing mentor and a supervisor Fiona
– espresso, dark chocolate and Stoyan cooking
– our wine glasses that we brought from Vegas filled with Australian red (also quite grateful for ibuprofen this morning)
– the park right outside our door with bats hanging from the palm trees
– the muddy Brisbane river, passing slowly by our neighborhood
– Saturday’s West End market
– found a fridge today, liked it, took it home and we no longer need to eat all our food asap
– Sami got a new scooter; the excitement!
– going to a house warming party tonight for a Bulgarian author whose book about Brisbane life we read while we were in Bulgaria; we are now friends!
– excited about watching a couple of new movies
– afternoon naps (about to dive in one right now, so i will have to put a pause on this endless list)

what are you most grateful for today?

motherhood: uncensored {from Jan 3rd, 2010}

This I found on my husband blog that I have written 2 and a half years ago…gotta say, still agree with it 100%.

Motherhood: uncensored

My list-making mania caught me off-guard on one of those ass-freezing, heart-warming walks that WE, the girls, take once in a blue moon. You know that part of “the being-a-mother gig” excludes all random friendships and leaves you stuck with the ones that are always there…namely my most precious girlfriend, Buddah. She always answers my calls, never leaves me waiting, and lavishes me with love, respect, and slobber…and all this ONLY when I need it.
Don’t you just wish all friends were like this sometimes? Just there for you…patiently listening and offering you a warm drool! Enough with the canine sentiments. Let me enlighten you with a randomly selected maternity inspired and sanity saving tips on how I am dealing with this mental disorder, called parenthood.
Motherhood did not just happen to me. I know you are all thinking isn’t that the most natural instinct-driven thing a woman can experience?!
Hm, well…NO! Not for me at least. And I know some of you have been there, others are in such a huge denial that they don’t even get it. Well, this blog is for the first ones. The other ones will live happily ever after and will go to heaven, and I will never get to meet them since I already have a well deserved spot in hell, right?
Back to motherhood. It was a hard hard HARD work. Beyond all my sources, beyond myself. Now…again, I have a theory that involves a super inflated Ego, huge amounts of selfishness, laziness, and status quo-loving, but I will not even go there.
Becoming a mother changed my core, along with so many other things, such as my relationships with my husband, my parents, my friends, and even my foes. It changed it all. And I am both happy and sad for this. I do mourn my carefree days every so often, especially when I catch myself jealously observing my kid-free mentally unimpaired friends. It is almost painful. However, I have become to realize that I should just accept these feelings. Oh, the relief! It is indescribable.
For those of you out there, secretly envying freedom, DON’T. Not secretly. Envy is OK. All feelings are actually OK. They are given to you so that you can freely and fully experience them. They are only enriching. So go ahead, and hate a little.  About the other side of motherhood, that is to say, all the mind-blowing love, I shall not speak…since it CAN only be lived, and not spoken about.
MY way of dealing with the volcano of sweltering new emotions includes the following self made strategies:
1.       Take a walk, away from B a b y, preferably alone. Just look around and try to see everything in a new fresh way. Now you will probably feel guilty, resentful and a little ashamed that you are outside, not taking advantage of having the B a b y (or the one we won’t speak of) out with you. It is such a beautiful day, weather is awesome, you are thinking how B would have enjoyed and benefited from this walk too. Stop right there and be a little selfish, just as you used to be before the big B highjacked both your heart and your time. And remember that in order to raise a happy camper you need to give him/her that personal example. So look for resources to make yourself happy, constantly!
2.       Wear sexy underwear! Just try it once and you will not regret it. Especially after you had spent months turning into a huge whale during pregnancy (yep, I was one of the 50-pounder-haeavier- OMG-you-are-so-big-are-you-having-twins? Prego), beautifully followed by the breastfeeding bras, with the highly erotic hole in front and let’s not purposefully omit the granny panties several sizes bigger, that Stoyan and I were planning to save for our next camping trip, and literally use as a shelter.
After the brave decision to stop using my body as the only source of nourishment for the little voracious beast, I got rid of ALL the pregnancy and post-pregnancy clothing, to the last piece. It was liberating.  I was claiming my body back and I was celebrating it with a nice Victoria’s secret set!
3.       Discard all those “how to mercilessly kill your husband without hiding all the blood” thoughts (leaving a few for the bedroom only and in its metaphorical sense, I guess). Husbands nowadays CAN actually be of help. Not the best help, but definitely the best you and your progeny will ever get. So, USE THE HUSBAND! For the purpose you will need earplugs, not only for when they accidentally drop the baby on the floor, neither for when they make the baby listen to hardcore, while forgetting to feed the baby, ‘cos you know, it’s their favorite part of the song right now?! Earplugs will help block all the whining and bitching, particularly when You want to have a moment and go for a morning walk WITHOUT the B A B Y!? You can do it!
Other useful aspects of husbands may include the following:
–          Foot massage
–          Dinner (and breakfast, and lunch, if you lucked out)
–          Silly jokes (if you really lucked out)
–          Minor home fixes and renovations. I said MINOR. Because if you decide to go for the big stuff, such as drywall building, or bathroom remodeling, you might as well consult with the divorce lawyer ahead of time and save yourselves a bunch of money. Why remodel a house that you will have to sell after the divorce?! If you do survive a major home remodeling together though, with no major relationship clashes, kudos to you! You are up for that already mentioned spot in heaven…must be nice!
–          A grown-up conversation. Do not underestimate the powerful effect of Not using baby language once in a while!
–          A wine-drinking buddy. This is a reason itself to keep a husband!
4.       Have sex! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Don’t even know why I wrote this. All I know is that I hear it helps! I hear weird and interesting stuff about that sex thing. They say it is so good for you, it adds extra years to your life, it sheds extra pounds, it makes your heart stronger, as well as your relationships. They also say it is a great indicator for mental health. You got me there! So THAT is the reason!
OK, now here is where I will have to use all of your tips and advices on the topic. I am not saying that Sami is a product of the innocent conception…not even close…Sexually active MOMS hit the jackpot…A deep bow, followed by a standing ovation (not too prolonged though, cos you know, I have a toddler running around). All I can say is that I am happy if I get to the active part…the sexually active one will have to hold off. Respect, biotches!
5.       Hire help and go on a date! You can’t even begin to imagine the enormous gigantic difference there is in the way things happen, when you are actually able to leave the house for a few hours. So far, for the 14 glorious months that we have been parents, we have left the house to a babysitter, only after Sami is asleep. My freaky controlling mind does not allow me to leave him with anyone other than me or Stoyan, that is in his non-sleeping state (which is 10 hours daily…we lucked out majorly on the fact that Sami sleeps form 7pm till 9 am). And I know this is wrong, but I promise to reconsider it in the coming year, or two…or 10. Yet, going out never meant so much for us. We did take for granted so many things in our pre-baby life, including this one. Now, every quiet dinner in a nice restaurant is like a gift from god! Long gone are the tears and the anxiety that I used to experience every time we left the nothing-suspecting sleeping baby. These precious specks of time we devote to us, I believe, are not only marriage savors, but also sanity keepers.
6.       Your parents, yes. You must have heard the famous aphorism “Who needs Freud when you have shopping therapy”. I have a LOT to say here, but I will try to be as succinct as possible. I will try to bite my knuckles and will gently and quietly explain, with all the poise I have, that it is simply not true. Not only because I am one of those who earn their money from mentally challenged and suffering individuals. I have been there, girls. Shopping is overrated – this is my hard reached and long anticipated answer. It not only leaves your budget ravaged, but it leaves you satisfied for a mere tiny bit of time. After that you begin to wonder: when exactly will you be able to wear those stilettos (not advisable for the playground, tried and failed shamefully) and let’s not even begin the endless discussion of the tons and tons of drool (gotta wait for them 20 teeth), baby food and occasional blood stains (yes, walking costs children blood loss, as well as mommy’s hair turning white)…then it’s the pet hair and the unexpected piece of biscuits, peas and dirt all over your brand new outfit. A beautiful amalgam beautifully spread on your latest beautiful dress! After so much beauty, you are just better off with your old comfortable jammies. And do refer to Freud. This arrogant Jew rules my world! I am not saying you should dig into the grueling and copious volumes he gave life to. A simple “Psychopathology of everyday life” works miracles. Don’t be intimidated by the title, it’s just there to impress you. After getting familiarized with this theory, all you can do is BLAME it ALL on your parents! Oh, it is so good! You have been fucked up, conditioned, smacked hard, built up, modified, brainwashed, love pumped, toned up, toughened up, shaped into who you are only by THEM. You are a byproduct of their fears, talents, desires, dreams, complexes, but most of all their LOVE. Leave the responsibility to others, just for a second. Let go off all judgments and forgive them, accept the fact that they did the best they could, call them and tell them how much you love them! Right this moment, because tomorrow might be late. It’s a simple act which brings an astronomic relief and satisfaction to both them and you. Now you are a parent too. Now you know. NOW. YOU. KNOW.

to be continued…