Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Next month i will be turning 33. Wow! The Jesus' years, the 'you're in your fourth decade and you cannot ignore it any longer' years, magic years. It's hardly time for looking back and casting nostalgic looks over the decades past - I still think I'm too young for that, but a few home truths have definitely hit me as I tallied up the numbers and came up with 33.

I always thought I'd have at least two kids by the time I'm 33. And I thought I'd have at least a master degree under my belt if not a PhD. For the rest, I'm pretty much there with the hopes and dreams of my youth. A proud mom, a wife and a partner of 14 years, a home-owner (married to the bank, counting every penny towards loan payments though, but still;), and working for almost 10 years now. Not bad, I need to pat myself on the back more often, though not too often or I'll get complacent.

When I look in the mirror, I see a mature version of my round face, pale complexion and baby-blues. I see wrinkles and lines, I see redness that just won't go away but is under control and I see a difference after a good night's sleep which means time is taking its toll on the suppleness of my skin.
I started exercising regularly two months ago and I see a difference in the shape of my body and what is more important I feel stronger and am aware of certain muscles I didn't know I had before. The long and winding journey to full self acceptance and making peace with my body image and whatever looks back at me from the mirror is a place I haven't reached yet, but I seem to be getting there easier with years.Oh, and, I'm completely gray haired. Blame it on bad genes. Root touch ups every six weeks are a must.

I still feel like a teenager about certain things - I listen to all the latest music, I know all celebrity gossip and I fall in love with movie stars every now and then, passionately and hopelessly, as can be evidenced from the sidebar of this blog. Other than that, I'm pretty much too grown up and serious about most things in my life, which can make me seem strict and unforgiving, and black-or-white, but no, in reality there is a lot of grey I see, understand and have in my life as well.

What I wish to change is to become a better listener, to shift the focus away from the all-consuming thinking/behaving like 'me' is the center of everything and really pay attention to other people. Not that I don't but I want to do more of it. Listening and really engaging with others makes us feel human and also lets us have another look at ourselves and our lives from a different perspective that a constant inward look cannot provide.

What I also wish is to do more of the things I seem to have forgotten I like. I want to learn another language, I want to read more books, I want to go out dancing more often and I want to travel more, more, more.

I say, bring it on 33!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Peaches and Cream

It's the season of peaches and I'm enjoying it to the full since they are my favorite fruit. There is a nice elderly gentleman selling them on our local market that has trouble speaking but is nevertheless very nice to his customers and has really first-class goods so in addition to really loving the fruit I like seeing him throughout summer and going to the same set of nods and smiles when buying peaches every time. Being a clumsy person, I'm also a messy eater so I end up with stains from peach juice dribbling down my hands but the messiness of consuming peaches also makes me like them more. And if that's not enough, read here why peaches are good for you!

Other summertime joys these days consist of watching reruns of a great danish TV series - Borgen - every night with the hubby. It's a great political drama with complex characters, great dialogue and a plot that keeps you guessing with every new episode. Inevitably there's love affairs galore, tit-for-tat party politics, backstabbing, loudmouth journalists - all necessary for a good story on politics and power. I also like the fact that the Prime Minister is a lady - sometimes it really hurts to watch what she is made to do and become in order to stay afloat among the political opponents, her own party friends who watch for the least inkling of a wrong move to jump at the opportunity to oust her from the position of power and especially how that affects her personal and family life. Warmly recommended for hot summer nights ;)

When working, this Bastille album just keeps playing in the background, helps me think, concentrate better:

The latest shoe craving:

I mean, what's not to love?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Hindsight vision is 20/20

The rough part is making the right decisions, doing the right things, taking the right path now. And not having regrets/second thought later on. If only I could send out some wise words to my younger self, there are things I would have done differently. Because now I know and I understand so much better.

I would have cleared out all issues related to body image once and for all at the age of fifteen. I would tell myself 'you're young and you're beautiful, everything about you is beautiful - your body, your skin, your hair, your face - own it, enjoy it, appreciate it and feel good about it now!'

I would make myself be less hard on, well, myself. I would lose the guilt trips, let myself fail and pick up and go from there - failure is not a bad thing, you can't live in constant fear of failing and be paralyzed by it. You need to fail and fail early enough in order to be able to grow from it. Suck it up soldier and move on!

I would stress less about almost everything, especially my studies. But I would also feel more confident about being smart and showing it. Always. Without the fear of looking stupid. Without apologizing for it.

I would doubt myself less. Because, in all honesty, you can do anything if you are prepared to work hard and learn. Nothing mysterious about it. Just plain hard work, sweat of your brow, elbow grease.

I would pay so much less attention to what anyone has to say about anything and just go with my gut. People and their views on your life/actions/mistakes are only as important as you make them out to be. If you're going to make mistakes, make them your own so that later there is no one else to blame.

And I would smile more and be happy more and savor every moment of being happy and go out more, dance more. I wouldn't do drugs through. I don't regret that.

Monday, 22 July 2013


Evolution of these ties that shape our lives is something that I think about often. Especially how our personal (r)evolutions affect our friendships. I don't always have the best answers, or any answers for that matter.
The one thing that seemed to work best so far is just letting go, not forcing it, letting all pieces fall into place in order to (re)establish balance, understanding, renew trust and confidence. You can't force people to understand you or go through the same things you're going through and think the same or come out the other end the same.
Using yourself and your experiences as a starting point for any relationship only helps so much and it often becomes a big obstacle to communication. The most important thing is to listen. Offering sage advice comes second to that. Sometimes people just need to be listened to. They don't need instant solutions. They just need your time and that feeling that you understand. God knows I do.

 Being a friend is one of the roles we assume in life, just like being a partner, a child, a parent, a sibling. At a certain point in our lives being a friend becomes more important than all other roles. For me it was my youth, high school and university years to an extent. That 'me' was was in a way the best, most easy going and natural version of me. I was a friend and I received so much from my friends. We were a support system, a forum for debates and checks of everything important in our lives, an unquestionable hub of trust, loyalty, love and understanding.
As we grew up, things changed. I can only speak about myself so I will - I changed in as much that my expectation of ultimate trust and understanding now shifted towards my boyfriend (who will later become my husband). And that detracted from my friendships. I was heart and soul 100% in this relationship so the focus of my energy shifted to making it work and to figuring out what the hell am I going to do with my life.
Fast forward a decade and I'm back at reestablishing myself. I fell in love, lived through a fulfilling relationship (and I still am in the same one), got married, had a child and am hammering at my career - I went full circle. Now I'm back to myself. To speaking to and listening to myself. And figuring out how friends and friendships fit in this.
I never stopped loving my friends. I never stopped expecting to give and receive the ultimate support that needs no explanation or cause. I need to feel loved by my friends. I need to be important to them. I also need to be able to show and make them feel important to me.
So I try. And in some instances I just tried too hard. So some friendships fell apart. The oldest ones, from way back in my childhood. Some fell apart and some are watered down to phone conversations every six months. Is that friendship? Or is that feeling that you're just picking up wherever you left last the only thing that matters even though it happens twice every year over the phone? I miss the presence of some of my friends. The actual physical exchanges. And for some of these I went the extra mile but never got the mile in return. So I stopped. And I take whatever is given and consider it enough.
I want to grow old with my friends. I want us to go to the theater/movies/coffees/drinks in our seventies. And be able to speak about everything, truthfully and honestly as ever. And laugh together a lot because my biggest problem is that I take life way too seriously most of the time!

Friday, 19 July 2013


It's this one's birthday today so here's a take on holmesian English ;)

Wait, what, it's Friday?

This Friday caught me off guard, a whole week whizzed by . . . And then this morning was one of those when nothing goes according to the plan, beverages are spilled, stains in inappropriate places, no time to change, rush, rush, rush, uphill in completely inappropriate shoes:

Why oh why did I have to wear them today? I am always complimented on them and I like them (ALDO purchase from a few years ago) but trying not to be late to work when I'm already late and distraught with all the mishaps of the morning in a pretty high wedge heeled sandal is not a wise thing to do. I wasn't very patient with my daughter because of all this so I'm trying to make amends - I printed out a whole bunch of Little Mermaid coloring pages and I can see a crafty weekend coming for the two of us.

In order to stay sane and up to the task at work, this is my mantra:

It would have been my dad's 59th birthday next week. His last birthday in 2010 we spent together and it was a very special day. We have great pictures together, we made him a special lunch - marinated tuna steaks, and I made him a cake. It was one of the last times that he was feeling well and was in a very good mood before he died a few months later. I miss him so much.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


I had to share this the moment I saw it - sgt Brody in action on a Vogue photo shoot - smokin'


. . . as in my vanity table/shelf actually, which is just leaned against a wall in my bedroom and filled with bits and trinkets, holding all the jewelry amassed over the years, perfumes, memories, sun glasses, etc. The main reason for posting - my daughter's arranging skills. She finds it to be a perfect playground and as she really likes her small toys she just brings them over to my room and sits in front of the mirror arranging them, making up stories, putting them to bed, and God knows what else, her imagination is unstoppable. Every day when I come home from work I find another arrangement which brings a smile to my face. Mind you, I am not allowed to move anything, she gets very upset! This is how it looked like this morning . . .

Monday, 15 July 2013

Manic Mondays

It's one of those Mondays when everything is just so crazy from the moment you open your eyes and you feel pulled at in all directions without a clear picture how you're going to get anywhere. I feel the need for a holiday so acutely today that my head hurts. It was a busy weekend, yesterday filled with home cooking and entertaining guests. It's always great when you're spending time with your friends and their kids and you see the extension of them in their offspring taking on a whole new shape and a whole new life, little, cute, ever improving, better versions of ourselves.
Three little things make my life today a little more bearable:

Earrings, a gift from my husband for my birthday last year. His personal choice ;)

A new bottle of a fragrant favorite, gift from mom.

New lip gloss - happiness in a less than 2 EUR tube, a girl's dream

Friday, 12 July 2013

Friday Favorites

1. I just love how rummaging through the piles of clothes in the morning I become inspired to get something out - a piece of clothing or an accessory - for a proper airing after a long time. That happened with this necklace this morning. I found the striped tee I wanted to wear and in a sudden epiphany I realized it matched perfectly with this necklace so I took it out and about town for the first time after months and I am very pleased with the results (see exhibit below):

2. I managed to work through my frustration at having my mother-in-law with us this weekend (for all the obvious reasons daughters-in-law feel frustrated with their husbands' moms) and during my lunch break today I took her shopping for a swimming suit. A daunting experience for us 30-somethings let alone for a 65-year old who baulks at the granny looking back at her from the mirror. I helped and gently persuaded and pushed and assumed a tone of a mother treating a rather petulant child and we pulled it off in the end. And I'm glad I helped.

3. This song has been in the background of a grueling week at work, energizing a tired mind and making my body shuffle at least a bit while slumped in a horribly uncomfortable chair behind the damned computer screen:

4. The weekend ahead and the prospect of entertaining dear friends at our new place is making me happy and full of plans for a perfect Sunday late lunch menu. So far, the following items have made the list:

  • roasted thigh or shoulder of any decent meat we find at our butcher's
  • stuffed eggs (courgette and butter based stuffing, yummy!)
  • mashed taters with basil and bacon (a total improvisation, will report on the success or lack thereof)
  • celery, apples and walnut salad
  • rocket, tomatoes, pine nuts and Greek goat cheese salad
  • and an apple tart with vanilla ice cream and dates for dessert

I'm hungry just writing about it!!!!!

Breathing Earth

I was profoundly touched by a documentary my husband and me watched this week at the Belgrade's Summer Festival (BELEF). Directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer, it portrays the genius of Susumu Shingu, a Japanese artist creating magnificent sculptures replicating the movement in nature, primarily that of wind and water. His philosophy of life is so simple yet so hard to achieve for the mere mortals living off a paycheck and worrying about mundane occurrences such as bank loans and bills. What struck me the most about this remarkable man is the youthfulness of his spirit - he is 75 and yet his eyes and his smile are that of a young boy, exploring the world with the same curiosity of spirit and freedom of thought and dreams found mainly in children. The documentary is full of poignant, breath-taking photography and Mr. Shingu's unique wisdom, well worth investing 92 minutes!

Susumu Shuingu's sculpture at Hermes, Tokyio

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


Today marks the beginning of another chapter of my family's ongoing battle with cancer. After my aunt died of liver failure caused by cancer metastases in 2001, aged 50, and after my father died of same causes in 2010, aged 56, their sole remaining sibling, my other aunt, is starting chemo today because of breast cancer. She is 61.
Should I feel better because the age at which this silent killer attacks is extended in each case? I hoped it would skip her and we, the second generation, could find a grain of consolation in that and not think of ourselves as destined for doom once we hit 50. What does this say of our genetic make up? Statistics are ruthless. We are all in great risk by sheer virtue of being our parents' offspring. One 'faulty' parent is all it takes.
I am aware a lot of this has to do with lifestyle and habits, environment and circumstances. But among the three of them, my father was the one who most contributed to his own demise and one would think ok, fair enough, he had it coming. For my eldest aunt who died first - no such explanation/excuse. She led a healthy life, ate well, exercised, and went for regular check ups. And yet when she was diagnosed they gave her 2-3 months before the bitter end. She beat all the odds and survived that prognosis by two years. But she never lived to see her daughter get married and give birth to two beautiful granddaughters.
My other aunt is overweight, granted, and a chain smoker, so I guess it's no surprise as well. But in her case the monster didn't raise its ugly head until she ventured into her 60s. And breast cancer has by far a more optimistic survival rate than liver/colon cancer. Yet, I'm not consoled. I'm worried and sad. I am trying to stay positive and send positive thoughts her way and I really, really want her to fight a good fight and come out victorious at the other end.
Another thing I'm noticing - dealing with this, the disease, the diagnostics, the surgeries, the chemo and prognosis - it's somehow easier each time. You know the drill, you know how it goes and what lies at each turn. And the fact that I have a doctor husband does not actually help - I am faced with the ugly, medical home truths about it all, no sparing my feelings and no beating about the bush. Blood, sweat, vomit and tears. The lot.
I wish I had more positive feelings on this. I wish I had a better attitude towards the disease and doing something about it. I'm still at the stage where I'm mostly paralyzed by prospects and fear for my own life. But I have a child and I have a responsibility to her - to stay sane foremost, and to stay healthy.

Dragonfly - the perfect example of the fleetingness of life