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 culture shock

yes, this time around the culture shock is definitely present. I do not remember having one when we moved to America, I did not have one for sure 2 years ago when we set foot on the rainy island, at on its rainiest spot – Manchesta!

things that shocked me and keep having an impact 4 months after we’ve settled into the land down under:
– wildlife: jumping, flying, screaming and screeching all over the place (not in parks or zoos only, but also when sipping wine on the veranda)
– heat, or more likely the burning of any uncovered skin the second the sun hits it. I have now acquired a huge stash of all organic, bio, natural, zinc-rich sun-protection lotions that are from local producers. We go through a tube every week, and even Sami now has the habit of applying it (it is a big thing here, and all child care centers follow strict instructions on not allowing kids outside unless they have lotion and a wide-brimmed hat)
-and my favorite one would be a hot Christmas! No rich hearthy meals, red wine, gloves and fireplaces, no chestnuts roasting on the open fire…. (obviously STILL Christmas songs! poor Stoyan), but mangoes, cherries, cold dishes, with zesty citrussy flavors, sparkling wines, and oh yeah…watermelon! Not sure if I can always like that, because I really really enjoy the coziness of a white Christmas, thick socks, and hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, but for now, this change is totally invigorating! Zesty!

p.s. Did I mention the 5 Christmas parties I’ve been to so far??! And it is only the 20th. At least the world ends tomorrow and I will be able to catch up on some sleep and some exciting house projects.
Awee, and a date with Stoyan!

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…

before i die, revisited

This post was first published in 2010..sometime before we left Las Vegas and moved to the UK to do a Masters in Psychology and fulfill a dream of living in England. Now that this is a wrap, I decided to revisit the same list and dust it off, perhaps add new things, but most definitely tick a few. I guess dreams do come true, when you truly put good intentions into them. Wishing you all more fulfillment!

***

This is my “groceries list”. It is stationed on my fridge. I do notice it all the time and that’s the point. Some of the things on there are so definite I can almost touch them. Others are quite abstract. But they are there…in me.

Here’s part of it:

* have my own orchid garden
* go through personal psychoanalysis
* stay in bed with Stoyan for 48 hours..
* go to Bhutan
* experiment with red hair
* learn Italian and French
* be simple (much simpler now then 2 years ago…happy to simplify even more)
* scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef (unbelievably soon!!!)
* forgive my parents (on and off, and it is, of course, a process…but I am quite happy with the progress)
* spend time in an old French Castle drinking red wine (tick!)
* have my own private practice (actually, I am able to envision this)
* stay under the rain (tick!)
* see Rammstein
* be there for my son. always. (again, a process, but …he is there, in me…always.)
* study Jung (moving away from this, unfortunately, but digging deep into classical psychoanalysis, so perhaps the loop will bring me back to Jung)
* be more patient (failing…)
* learn how to play the piano
* spend a year in Tibet
* take a photography class
* built our “cappuccino” house ( 😉 )
* live in NYC
* sleep on the beach (tick!)
* get better at yoga, way better (much better, but there is always room for improvement. And yoga is not only physical, practicing the wholeness of it, is a much desired goal)
* get a PhD (yipee, 1st step is done. 3 more years to go!)
* let go (I have to admit it is getting easier with practice)
* wear an 18-century gown
* appreciate (fail and tick, so trying to stay real and have my eyes open)
* get a black cat (uhh, Stoyan is totally against it, but Sami and I are scheming a deadly plan)
* swim with dolphins (coming soon, too soon! didn’t I mention that I need to learn how to swim first?!?!?!)
* have a quality espresso machine at home
* become fully vegan
* contribute to a better maternity care, globally
* …
* make it happen (no lack of determination or motivation, for sure)

vegan

Sticking to no dairy has been a resolution I indeed have kept for the past 3 years, with some major wrongdoings, while in France. But you know…what happens in France stays in France (and miraculously, on my thighs, and hips, and stomach…anybody else, hearing the treadmill shouting?!).

So, here we go…being 95%ish vegan. What did it take:

-switching to soy (only organic), oat and rice milk for our breakfast and Stoyan’s coffee. I still enjoy mine BLACK! (here’s where I do fail sometimes…the dollop of freshly steamed foam on my espresso, when I have coffee someplace nice, ‘cos again, someplace nice is a whole niceness of the experience)

-olive oil spread instead of butter (or just no butter for me)

-crushed almonds or cashew make the perfect cheese crust for cheese-crust emergencies, such as pizzas, moussaka, or even baked potatoes

-dark chocolate (above 74 % cocoa, so no milk) or even just a cup of hot cocoa (found the best fair-trade organic, and somewhat pricey-but-at-least-you-know-why kind at the local wholefoods store) made with oat milk and raw brown sugar

-new cheese platters to go with wine (Ok, this is the toughest one! You add apple slices, figs, jams and chutney, nuts and carrots, humus and dips…but yet, something’s missing) So, you find a new reason to visit France where this list is burned and buried deep down your tightening jean’s back pockets, and then you dig it out on the plane, and you go back to life.

And actually life is NOT THAT BAD, when you share your bed (and kitchen) with a gourmet chef, who genuinely embraces your remourses and drowns them in a tasty baked parsnip cream soup, garnished with a zesty spinach-leafy greens salad with seeds and a yummy balsamic dressing.

likes, again

It must be the categorizing mind in me that vehemently tries to put everything under its correct denominator. I am going with it, ‘cos it feels good. So here are the latest likes:

-organic spinach
-chunky winter booties
-fat scarves
-Sciencedaily.com
-music from Brazil
-raw almonds
-Sami’s hands (they have grown so much)
-Pinterest.com
-early morning mindful meditation (currently Mark WIlliams’ and Jon Kabat-Zin’s)
-2 pairs of sleep socks (it’s Manchester!)
-L’occitane’s lavender and rice line
-brewing coffee really slowly and dreaming of the perfect kitchen where I will have a whole coffee corner, with a mill, paper rolls and an espresso machine
-yoga and actually the treadmill (a longtime enemy, which I had befriended recently)
-Anorak magazine
-matte nail polish
-recycling (everything!)
-Sami’s breath while sleeping
-work (Yes, I love what I do and cannot wait to be back on my desk)
-tea (new appreciation for herbs and spices, it must be the UK influence)
-Stoyan’s to die for cooking
-oversized bags
-oversized tunics
-the oversized love I feel for my boys
-my body art
-my grandparents
-fresh squeezed carrot juice
-carob cake
-taking photos
-France, France, France
-exciting new projects (more about this soon)
-sunrises

wrapping up the 2011 happy

In a nut shell, I’ve had a tough year. No time to get bored and complacent…Not because I had no successes or happiness, but mostly because I was constantly challenged by either the circumstances or by myself.
The things I am most grateful for in 2011:

-Sami’s finally with us, after an on and off period for the winter of 2010-2011, while we were attending lectures.

-I got to meet the most influential, to me, figure in the field of what I do. She is a mother of 5, a world-renowned lecturer, a grandma, a cat-lover, a true Londoner, a prolific author, and the cutest 60-year old lady who invited me in her home, baked a cake for me and drove me to my train with her tiny granny ford…all this while inspiring me tremendously.

-got a Master’s and unlike in my Bachelor’s, managed to attend my graduation. The best part yet: the 3 most important people in my life were there with me. The award for my dissertation was the icing on the cake!

-got an unconditional offer for a Doctorate.

-managed to devote more time to Mindful Meditation and Yoga.

-made two really genuine friends and let go of the mediocre relationships in my life.

-enjoyed Liverpool’s best coffee; York’s Medieval charm; French desserts, wine, croissants, and the most romantic moments of the year; Spanish tapas, Gaudi’s out-of-this-world genius, Dali’s amazing sense of humor, precision and depth; the the blessing of sun-infused pristine beaches.

-signed my first book contract, for 2 chapters. Thrilling!

-began feeling a bit homey, here on the rainy island.

-introduced Sami to the social world…nurseries, clubs and art classes and he has friends now!

-absolutely enjoyed a gourmet cuisine at home every single day thanks to my personal chef (a separate Thank you post is going in his direction).

-had my mum over for Christmas. Planning my grandparents visit too.

-was in awe for the English countryside, their academic and health system, and their perseverance in finding true happiness DESPITE the miserable weather they are cursed with.

With the year rolling away, many projects are under way, but as I’ve said earlier, all I hope for these days, is patience!PATIENCE AND PEACE …and some more of those French mornings.

Hope you all DREAM BIG in 2012.

a.

the things i did on a do-nothing-day

1. woke up and not looked at the watch
2. made tea
3. took a long shower with nobody walking in to ask me to fix McQueen’s eyes, assist with them with the potty or wipe their behinds
4. made coffee, the long way…soaking it first with just a little really hot water, waiting for 10 min, and then adding the actual amount of water for 2 coffees
5. meditated and not looked at the watch
6. played a CD with classical music
7. read a novel. A NOVEL. not and article.
8. made breakfast, the long way…
9. did my nails
10. did not wake Stoyan up
11. watched yellow-chested birds in front of the cottage having their breakfast for I don’t know how long, not looking at the watch
12. had coffee, and then some more…
13. pampered my face with a clay mask and nobody opposed (Sami is terrified when I put on a face mask and always insists that I do not need to be beautiful any more…missing mister smarty pants right now!)
14. finally looked at the time and it was only 10 am, went into the bedroom to get my laptop and while reaching for it, I just stayed there and then I climbed inside the warm sheets…

January summary

A list of events:

-survived a 6 1/2-hour bus ride with a wild toddler on our way to Sofia
-spend the sweetest time there with Sami
-submitted a grant proposal
-made a poster for a research conference
-lost my grandma.
-read three books
-made horses and fish from plasteline
-thought Sami how to eat spaghetti, to stick his tongue out, and who John Lennon and the Beatles are
-spend a nerve-wrecking day at Sofia airport
-spend another one there 3 weeks later
-cried
-like never before
-saw Kill Bill again (yey!)
-embroidered something
-had a fight with my mum, again
-went to the theatre
-made a short video ‘2010 in images’
-had a lot of espresso, a lot
-travelled back to the UK
-spend a day in the library (what a lovely papery smell)
-made a calender for 2011, cannot wait to receive the print
-enjoyed the Manchester sun, its free-spirit and its dirty Sunday-night streets
-woke up and realized it is February…