New

New year. New opportunities. New adventures. Let’s inspire one another — show us what’s new.

The new year started on a sunny note and one can never enjoy too many sunsets… or too many flowers about to bloom 🙂

Warmth (Weekly Photo Challenge)

Whether you live on my side of the planet or in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoying real heat on the beach or in your yard, show us your take on warmth.

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As the year draws to an end and the days grow colder and colder, I tend to think fondly of those warm summer days and the even warmer memories they left behind, sweet reminder that we should make the best of those little moments when life offers us beauty and happiness…

Since this is my last post for the month of December, I wish you all a Happy New Year and may all your wishes come true! 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you! I hope you are exactly where you want to be, sharing a few nice moments with your dear ones! And if by any chance your wishes didn’t come true this year, remember, there’s more to life than Christmas… 😉 Hopefully next year will be a better one for us all! 🙂

 

Do We Want What We Want For Christmas? (Repost)

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It’s Christmas – you cannot forget it for a second, given the hustle and bustle of people trying to purchase anything and everything that isn’t nailed down – and like everybody else, I keep thinking and obsessing about what I want. After all, what else is there to do every year in December, other than be frustrated and angry with yourself for all those things you so desperately wanted and needed and yet you haven’t been able to offer yourself or your dear ones?

I need a break this year. And the reason I know this is because I had a little, insignificant revelation of my very own this year – for the first time, I had the chance to offer myself something I wanted for so long; and that was the moment when I stopped, I took a deep breath after a heavy moment of panic and I was able to admit it was not what I wanted after all. Because what I wanted was what I actually had all along. In that particular case, it was a new apartment I thought I just had to have in order to feel good about myself, so I could derive some deep and lasting feeling of fulfilment regarding my life. Pen in hand, about to sign the contract, I finally acknowledged the fact that I was about to obtain a collection of nice walls in a new and trendy neighbourhood at the price of giving up my home. Yes, my own apartment, the one I had been living in ever since I was a student, was smaller, the building was older and somewhat duller, it didn’t have much of a view; but it was a home, one that represented me down to the last nail in the floorboards. I both loved and hated that place over the years – initially, it had been a symbol of freedom; then it became an obsessive reminder of all that I wanted and could not have, the exquisite view, the spacious rooms, all those things I grew up with and ignored as a child, all those details which became important only when I stopped having them. I had been so adamant about wanting to have more – after all, it’s shameful to settle for what you have, isn’t it? – that I failed to notice that I actually liked the home I already had, the one in which I had invested so much over the years, the one which was ‘me’ from all points of view. I opened my eyes and my mind and noticed that my home was also my refuge, a place of peace and safety which never failed to provide me with the tranquility I needed, in spite of some of its shortcomings. And the neighbourhood had actually become one of the nicer ones, not at all the way it was when I moved there; and yes, I wasn’t fond of my neighbours, but most likely I wouldn’t have been too impressed with my potentially new neighbours either. So I spent that afternoon at home, for once appreciating what I had, instead of only focusing on the ‘more’ and the ‘better’ that I felt compelled to want. I deleted the numbers of all the real estate agents from my phone, and not because I had decided to never change my apartment. I will move, but only when I know I like the new place better than the old one, and not out of misguided ambition dictating what I should want.

So what do I want for Christmas? Do we ever really know? Do we ever really know before getting it and realising we never needed or desired it, because it doesn’t become us? Do we ever really know before obtaining this object of our desires only to set it aside and move on to the next goal, the next thing we don’t have yet, so therefore we want so badly? I’m doing something else this year – I’m digging up all those things I wanted, I got and I forgot to appreciate in my rush to move on, because I’m hoping that there might be some happiness in actually liking and cherishing the reality of our existence, not only the unattainable dream ahead.

I will enjoy my Christmas tree, remembering what every ornament means to me, the moment in time and the memory it entails. I will put an amazing gift under the tree for somebody special, because their joy when opening it will make me as happy as any perfect present I might receive. I will put on that black dress I like so much – you know which one, we all have one of them, the one that cost us a fortune and we only wore once, because we think no occasion is special enough for it; I will also put on my favourite pair of shoes – one shall not name names, but it’s that pair a girl never wears when driving, so she wouldn’t ruin them. And bundled up in a warm coat, because the outfit is only meant to make me feel better, I’ll go for a drive and enjoy the Christmas lights in the city, without thinking of all the things I would change. I will also think of those people dear to me that might be away for the moment and instead of falling into depression or despair, I will choose to remember that there’s more to life than the holidays and I will treasure the fact that we will be together on various other occasions. But I will refuse to share my time with any of those persons I do not particularly like, only because this is what one must do or because one should not be alone even for a second on the holidays.

And last, but not least, I will remember that not only are there so many people who are happy to have less than I do, but I also used to have less sometimes in the past, so perhaps one can find reasons to appreciate one’s life – with all its failures and accomplishments – after all.

This is why I will take a break for a few days, I will want less and I will appreciate more.

Happy Holidays!

Yellow

Away with the colors of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. Show us what “yellow” means to you.

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It doesn’t look like we’re going to have a white Christmas this year here, by the sea, but it certainly isn’t too warm outside either. So this week’s challenge got me thinking of the hot summer days of a trip to Istanbul 🙂 . In case those Christmas lights we see everywhere these days aren’t heartwarming enough, I can only hope that a few shades of gold from summer past might do the trick.

Twinkle

For this week’s challenge, share with us your photos of twinkling light.

I am not ashamed to admit it – in spite of my age, decorating the Christmas tree fills me with a kind of childish joy and positivity which I hope to never lose 🙂 . While I am not a religious person (I apologize to those who might find this offensive, but I am who am and this is my personal choice), I treasure not only the symbolism and values behind this holiday, but also my own memories – both good and bad – and I refuse to give up all those little things that have become traditions over the years. There were difficult times in the past when I kept thinking that as long as I found it in me to decorate even a small, not too extravagant tree, I was still far from hitting rock-bottom. And not a year has gone by without a Christmas tree yet, which now serves as a good reminder to slow down, appreciate and enjoy what I have (even if I normally am an ambitious person who strives for better and more)…

Gone, But Not Forgotten

In today’s challenge, show us what “gone, but not forgotten” means to you.

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Beautiful moments stay with us long after they dissolve into the fog of the past. We need to remember them in order to be able to hope and move on. History – both our personal history and that of our civilization – is also a lesson we can never stop learning, a reminder of past mistakes and a source of support at the same time. We found a way to survive the bad, in order to reach those much sought-after moments of happiness. So let’s try and remember this and focus on what we hope to achieve, instead of the obstacles we’re trying to overcome 🙂 .

Seaside Blues (Daily Post Challenge)

Imagine we lived in a world that’s all of a sudden devoid of color, but where you’re given the option to have just one object keep its original hue. Which object (and which color) would that be?

A writer mentioned somewhere, sometime, how deeply touched he was by those mornings when the sea has no sky. So many ways to interpret such a thought…

Earlier this week I took advantage of what may very well have been the last beautiful days this autumn and I enjoyed the warm sun and light breeze while strolling on the beach. The sea regaled me with surprisingly bright shades of blue, especially for this time of year. Yes, I would miss those calming, reassuring seaside blues and the salty air if I ever had to move…

Dreamy (Weekly Photo Challenge)

This week, we’d like to see an image that looks dreamy to you. A photo of a place you often visit in dreams. A scene that looks a bit out-of-this world. Take us on a flight of fancy!

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I wasn’t completely sure what it was until it started to move. That was also when I noticed the man whose pedaling transformed the unusual looking contraption into an old-fashioned merry-go-round – does he not look like a character from a fairytale? I was amazed and happy to see the children so excited about this somewhat anachronistic ride. So they can enjoy something else but the wonders of technology, as long as they are provided with such a source of fun…  However, I couldn’t  help channeling the evil witch in Hansel and Gretel for a second 🙂 … And those of you who ever tried to have a pleasant dinner in a nice, romantic restaurant while a few children running amok were disturbing everybody but their parents, will probably understand what I mean. For a moment, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have one of these right next to the coat check?…”

Nighttime (Weekly Photo Challenge)

What nocturnal photos do you like taking? Whether it’s a starry sky, a street lamp, or the shadows cast by your cat, share them with us. Your shot can be outdoors or indoors, blurry or crisp, overexposed or ominously dark. As every owl (and night owl) knows, nighttime is when the real action starts.

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I just discovered I have a surprising number of night photos – one worse than the other 🙂 . But this one appealed to me more than the rest, in spite of the fact that it was taken with what was – judging by today’s standards – quite a rudimentary phone. Maybe it’s the sentimental value it holds…

Adventure (Weekly Photo Challenge)

This week, share a photo that says “adventure.”

Ever since I was a child, I was particularly fond of heights. In fact, having the chance to take in the scenery from the top of a tall building or floating in the clouds has always been a treat for me. This is why I really need to focus on trying to be understanding when it comes to a good friend of mine who cringes at the mere sight of such photos. For him, travelling by plane or even a ride in a cable car are life-threatening adventures. But I still think everything looks nicer seen from above 🙂 .

Dialogue (Weekly Photo Challenge)

For this week’s challenge, bring together two of your photos into dialogue.

I mentioned earlier this year that I would like to visit Vienna again, perhaps even have some more of that great apple strudel I tried at Schonbrunn Palace. Without realizing it, that was the opening line in a very enjoyable dialogue on this topic, as somebody dear to me had paid attention to those slightly melancholic words. So you’d like to see Vienna again, he said to me a few days later. I took the spoiled brat approach and replied, I’d rather go to Paris first, if we’re to revisit places… I though the conversation died then and there, but somebody needs to have the last word every time, so in June I was very pleasantly surprised with a long weekend in Vienna. What can I say… given how nice our little getaway was, I think I can live with occasionally not having the last word 🙂 And the strudel was as great as I remembered it. One thing had changed though – the flowers in the Palace gardens were now different, a bittersweet reminder of the passage of time, whispering to me that spring and summer are never alike and years will leave a mark on anything and everything.

On Top

Weekly Photo Challenge: On top can be a feeling, a perspective, or a physical location.

There are some rare moments when you feel on top of the world, when you feel the weight lift off your shoulders – suddenly, life becomes enjoyable and happiness takes over you as you forget all worries, fears and threats.

As you may have gathered, I find the sea to have a calming effect on me; travelling, seeing new places, is also something I thoroughly enjoy whenever I have the chance; and I never let my high heels to get in the way of climbing all those challenging heights. So when these three aspects merge, I can virtually say I’m on top of the world – from so many points of view…

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Age Illusions and Disillusions: Men and Women Turning Thirty (Weekly Writing Challenge)

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/weekly-writing-challenge-golden-years/

 

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Do you think you are old? How about them? Aging only made them more attractive…

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There is a certain cocktail of fear, frustration and depression that only birthday milestones can inflict on a person. Reaching any of those multiple of ten birthdays is if not a trial, at least a contradictory, controversial moment for most of us. It starts early on, when you’re a child so happy and proud to have finally achieved a double digit birthday, it’s a time when you begin to feel so big and important, you have finally become somebody who matters. In what almost seems to be a blink of an eye, ten becomes twenty – the moment you’re not in your teens anymore is a bittersweet victory, you feel like there’s finally something to back up all your claims to be treated like an adult, but the pressure which comes with having that wish granted starts to reveal itself as a constant rather than an accidental consequence. By the time you’ve reached your mid-twenties, there’s already a gnawing thought tormenting you once in a while, especially when nothing seems to go according to plan – the dreaded, end-of-life-as-you-know-it thirty is the next big step and it’s not at all as far away in the future as you might like it to be.

I am no longer ashamed to admit it, I was one of those women fearing the ominous number whenever I had the feeling time had a mind of its own and a cruel way of passing too fast, preventing me from doing all that I wanted to do. Some things are inevitable and the illusion of a disillusion disseminating birthday eventually became reality, not only a mean allusion in the back of my mind. However, having a close male friend that turned thirty the same month I did put certain things in perspective, making me break out of my selfish shell for a moment or two and actually acknowledge that this isn’t a critical time only for women. I used to think men simply ignore this milestone and women are the ones most tortured by the ticking clock. As it turned out, the men I witnessed crossing their thirties threshold took it considerably worse than the women I had a chance to see experiencing the same ordeal.

I woke up and I immediately felt worried – worried that the new decade wasn’t actually making me feel any different, depression and despair hadn’t taken over me; in fact I was feeling quite pleased with myself, the way I normally do my birthday. There was no trace of the pain, sadness or frustration I used to think would accompany this frightful day, it was just a birthday like any other; it occurred to that the introspection was meant to find fault where there wasn’t any. I switched on the TV and focused my attention on a news channel while drinking my coffee. There hadn’t been any relevant cataclysms; no nuclear war had started; no meteor was on its course to collide with the planet; no signs of any pandemic. It was clear, I realized, settling more comfortably, cup of coffee in hand: the end of the world wasn’t scheduled for that day just because I was turning thirty. And why should that happen, since even my own little personal universe was calm and safe, surprisingly unaffected by the matter? Just to make sure, I subsided to my vanity and closely inspected my face in the mirror – I hadn’t turned into a crone over night, no wrinkles were menacing to scar my visage in the near future, I could still pass for somebody in her early twenties if I was well rested, everything was the same as before. I was the same as before, not feeling thirty, far from looking thirty; the only difference was that I was actually thirty, but that suddenly stopped meaning that much, because I liked who and where I was, I had managed to come to terms with my existence and accept myself quite a while before that day. I wasn’t twenty anymore, but was it really that bad? I looked around at my home –
everything was the way I wanted it to be, every item was my choice and there was no sign of the awful, shabby furniture that used to give me nightmares when I was twenty and still a student. A beautiful bouquet of roses which had been delivered early in the morning was sitting in a vase on my coffee table, soft, quiet reminder that my special someone knows just what I like and hadn’t forgotten the special day. And that messy pile of wrapping paper and cardboard in the corner – that was my own present for myself, the pair of boots I had ordered online arrived just at the right moment. Life was certainly no worse than at twenty!

Not only did I survive my thirtieth birthday, but I actually enjoyed it. So why had I been so unsure about the way I’d react even if I had already reached the point where I wasn’t too worried about turning thirty? Remember the close friend I was mentioning earlier? We are the same age, we grew up together and we even turned thirty together, only he did it several days before I did. We know each other so well, yet there are still times when his behaviour surprises me, and after having seen how much of a blow this birthday was for him, I started worrying about what it would do to me… All of the sudden, there was no more time for this guy who had always been somewhat naïve and idealistic in many of his beliefs, almost annoyingly able to always see the good in people and situations. Who would have thought that I, the vane woman, would be calm and rational about my age, whereas he, the serious male, would be the drama queen who has a meltdown? After being grumpy, bitchy and displeased with everything and everyone for no good reason on his birthday, I finally managed to get him to share his troubles on mine… Well, it was mostly a rant, half self-pity and the other half reproachful because I didn’t share his opinion and I would stubbornly not change my idea about my thirtieth birthday being a joyous occasions and not at all the doom and gloom he was describing.

Think of all the aspects single women in their thirties complain about on TV shows and now imagine a man doing just the same – that’s the gist of his turning thirty paranoia. He was single, and if he hadn’t managed to get married up to that point, what were the chances for that to ever happen? All his male friends who wanted to get married, had already done it (and most of them regretted it, I might add), so it must be him, there was something terribly wrong with him. And if there were no perspectives for him to get married, then what were the chances for him to have children? And he wanted children, and all his married friends already had children… But not him, no, not him, everything was over and hopeless for him. Then he moved on to his career, etc., with the occasional flashbacks about not having a wife and kids. And by the way, why the hell was I not feeling the same way, since we were the same age, how could I not see that all was lost and meaningless? There was no point in trying to explain that a man in his thirties is young and attractive, so he didn’t need to worry about finding his better half (or halves, who knows…); there was no point in enumerating all the positive things in his life; his self-pity and disappointment had to run their course before he could see clearly again. But by the end of the evening, I thought I’d have to stop him purchasing adjacent burial plots in the graveyard for both of us as a special birthday gift for me – we were thirty, therefore practically dead.

He isn’t the only man I know who panicked about this dreaded age. Another example is a twenty-nine year old guy who started talking about marriage on his first dates simply because he couldn’t picture himself thirty and not married, it was simply unacceptable. We weren’t close friends, so we lost touch at a point; but I know that he is still single and in his late thirties now, so I bet he’ll make for quite an interesting case study when he turns forty.

All joking aside, age is every so often a terrifying monster for all of us; and like the vane creature that I am, I do my best to if not avoid, at least diminish the tell-tale signs the passage of time leaves behind. But I refuse to obsess over the inevitable, I choose to focus on the matters I can change – life is hard enough as it is, why add unnecessary worry lines? But I often think of the revelation brought on by my friend’s thirtieth birthday – men fear aging as much as women do and we all have good reasons to feel this way. So is there a way of preventing the illusion of time from becoming the disillusion of a lifetime? Do let me know if you have the answer to this one…