Good to Be Back

I have returned home from my favorite craziest adventure – Summer salsa festival in lovely Rovinj – and I keep on repeating one phrase. “So good to be back”. Wow. I am surprised.

Usually I turn my nose away from the everyday reality (from the need to clean the house, shop my food and cook it myself :)). I post the vacation photos, the feeling of missing it already playing on the strings of my heart. This time, however, I just feel loads of gratitude to the place and the event – but I don’t want to get back into my past emotionally. I enjoy every moment here. And I want to live in my emotional present. To connect with my life which is only happening here and now.

This year – like never before – I am love with my home, my city and the country I live in. I am so used to the feeling of “yuck, this gray and cold place again” – that I even get surprised by my sudden “oh, Scandinavia, how lucky I am to experience this my Norwegian adventure” (adventure? Since when has it become an adventure??? :)) And here are my reasons to love it.

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My Mindfulness Practice

I am a firm believer that the art of life is created by small steps. Small habits, small adjustments. I have never been a fan of resolutions like “From Monday on I start a new life”, but advocated for the small changes one can make – first as an experiment – in order to change one’s quality of life.

I believe in the health and happiness that start from the inside out – from our mind and soul. I have tried to set big goals for myself, like meditating for 20 minutes every day, but I struggled to keep it as a daily routine. However, the small practices seem to stick with me. Today I want to share those that work for me.

My Mindfulness Practice
my favorite bench

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Drink Coffee and Smell the Cactus 

If we were having coffee again. This kind of writing – partly catching up, partly me rambling about everything – feels very natural to me. Though I consider myself a bit introvert – I prefer to talk more than to listen. And, of course, talk about myself 🙂 Many look really sceptic when I say that I used to define myself as an introvert – and I understand why :))) So this is another post with a hashtag “if we were having coffee” – about everything and nothing special. Just the way I like!

Cactus life. My cactus seems unhealthy to my eye. I bought it last year and was so happy about my first cactus at home! Totally hipster home now 🙂 But now, after only one  year, it doesn’t look ok, having lost its nice green color. And tell me, how can you neglect a cactus?! Isn’t it a kind of plant that suits best all those who are disasters at taking care of plants? I watered it once a month like I was told in a shop – not too much. It missed sunlight, standing on my table, so I moved it on the window sill. But how can a window spot help when the winter lasts five months and the sun is so seldom? I guess, the heart of the cactus just couldn’t bear it anymore. And, I tell you what, I have so much empathy with it. Dear cactus, you reflect my attitude very well. Just that my face is a shade greener than yours 🙂

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The Immigrant’s Tales

I have written for a while under a tag “expat” – but the more I was writing, the more I understood that this doesn’t apply to me. There is a taste to the word “expat”, sweet and free, that is unfamiliar to my palate. I am more an immigrant and less an expat in Norway. Somewhere I have read a discussion of the differences between immigrants and expats, and since then this thought hasn’t left me. How would I explain that difference? In my post “Thriving in Norway” I made a try of explaining – and I feel that I have so much more to say about feelings of an immigrant. And how they differ from other kinds of foreigners.

We, foreigners in Norway, often view ourselves as a big group as opposed to the group of native Norwegians. But we tend to forget that this big group is not homogenous, and as we experience difficulties understanding the locals – we may also face difficulties understanding other foreigners with whom we identify us. I get a skin-close experience of it since I live together with another foreigner – and sometimes it feels like we have lived in two different countries, though we have lived in the same city in the same country of Norway for the past 11 years (20 in his case). Let me explore the differences.

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Stop, Coffee And Smell the Roses

If we were having coffee. I have seen this tag once here on WordPress and forgot about it. Today I just felt the need to do a post that goes like a rant over coffee – about everything (while usually I try to streamline my blog and make it fit neatly into my categories, hehe). So, I recollected that somewhere in my feed I’ve seen posts with this title “If we were having coffee” – and a quick search on WP gave more posts like that. So let me go grab my coffee and share with you my mixed thoughts that didn’t fit neatly into my categories and content plan (like I have one ;)).

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My Life Will Never Be the Same Again

Yesterday I took part in the Norwegian citizenship ceremony. Even though I had received my citizenship half a year ago, this ceremony felt like a watershed to me. I slowly start to realize that I am not a guest here anymore, that this is my home too. And that I can breathe out, be proud of how far I came and start building something. Leaving the stress behind. Leaving the story of “poor me who has to fight for everything” behind.

Maybe, connected to this event or not, recently I am more aware of how Norwegian I have become in all these years. Today I want to share a simple list of the changes that would have seemed peculiar to me 10 years ago. But now they are my second nature, and it took some effort to step back and notice what is different to me now.

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First Anniversary 

My blog has turned one year some days ago. It turns out it was created on the day when they celebrate Los Reyes (Three wise men) in Spain. The 6th of January. Which is also Christmas Eve in Orthodox countries like my own Ukraine. So I have to divide my attention between three celebrations now. Not a bad problem, really 😊

A month before this little anniversary I started thinking about what I will write. I’ve seen blog birthday posts in my feed celebrating number of followers. I wish I could write: “And suddenly there were 2.000 followers, thank you guys for your love”. But nope, not possible. No thousands. And writing: “Now I have totally 180 followers” would sound funny, but not everyone will get the irony of it. Second, I don’t connect love and numbers. I tended to get caught in the numbers game, but not anymore. Well, only while playing bingo. But I lost the connection between feeling good and getting numbers of followers and likes  since I got off the Instagram. Instagram has even created a turn-off for numbers after I learned about mass-following: all those people who follow you so you will follow them back. There was a person who followed me three times. Wow, she really liked me! I wonder if the same things exists on WordPress. Do you think people follow you just to wake your interest for their blog? And those likes, omg, how I missed the like-button for years on Livejournal blogging platform! And now I feel like saying: “take it back! Turn it off!” The same reason: sometimes it seems to me that people hit the like-button even without seeing your post. Why otherwise can there be more likes than views of a post? Is there such thing like mass-liking here? Like you know, on Instagram you get likes from shops and other marketing platforms connected to your post.

Oh, I didn’t mean my anniversary post to be about numbers and blogging frustrations – but it looks like it becomes just about this. Lovely 😊

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