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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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!

words from today

date. special. early. rushed. car.laundry.coffee.palettes. piccolos.pink cockatoos. yes.no. tea. shop. stroll. fat chips. lager. kiss. kiss more. gallery.noise. yellow. blue. LPs. home. grump. dark. pick up. alone. ocean. ship. dream. macadamia. jazz. happens…

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.

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!