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.
On our short trip to Rome we managed to catch several days of rain. I considered us really unlucky on that trip – but as I think again, maybe we were lucky? Because we could get the views that are quite seldom for this city. And catch some beauty just before it faded away. It was everywhere: in the dark stormy skies with seldom rays of sun, in the reflections on the wet pavement, in the sudden rainbow which disappeared as fast as it popped, in the raindrops on the cafe tables that got carried away just in a minute after I took that shot. Isn’t it amazing that even such a tourist misfortune as rain can teach us a lesson of looking closely and spotting beauty – because it can be gone so fast?
In the solitude of the laboratory a researcher raises her head from the microscope, eyes looking for the answer. The solemn voice in the background says: “Since the beginning of the ages we have asked the same question…What are we gonna have for dinner?” This is a Norwegian tv commercial advertising a series of readymade meals in the local food store. Funny but true. In Norway the question we ask ourselves and each other the most is this: what shall we have for dinner? A luxury problem, as they say it in Norwegian. But jokes aside, what is the most important question in our lives?
Since the beginning of ages we have asked ourselves the same question… Let me propose my version. We have asked ourselves about what it means to live a good life. What does it take to be happy? Plato starts his dialogues with the conversation of Socrates about what virtue is. Because, let’s agree, a good life is not only good food and travel, but it has also a moral bit. That old idea that you cannot be happy by being bad. That ethics is in the base of the happiness. In my eyes, the philosophers of Ancient Greece were at the core of the most important question. Talking about what is ethics, aesthetics, what is noble and what is beautiful. Too sad that in ages to come the philosophy became an intellectual game, with so much logics and theories and so little guidance about the most important question in life.
The snow has swept across Europe causing troubles and wonders. Paris looks so beautiful in the snow, and, as it doesn’t happen often there, it seems that everyone took a day off to go to the park, make a snowman, take a photo and post it on Instagram. Snow has fallen on the deserted beaches of Barcelona and has created chaos in the north of Catalonia. It was a protagonist on the Catalan news last night. Also in Moscow the extreme volumes of snow created problems for the traffic. As we sit here in our Norwegian homes and watch all these breaking news on tv, I wonder: when will they come here and film our snow?
I always make sure to walk through the flower market on my way from work. It is there even in the late evening hours, flowers keeping strong in the cold. Today I haven’t seen the usual orchids, and those red and pink beauties, today there were small fir-trees and wreaths with pinecones. Their message was clear: November has moved out, December is now in. At this very moment the church bells chimed through the square, making everything feel like a cozy Scandinavian fairytale. And I was thankful that I didn’t plug headphones in my ears like I usually do.
The Christmas lights hang across the street, and every time there is someone reaching for his phone to snap a picture. Christmas music sounds from the shops, and I think: “Nice try to make it all look cozy and nice. When it is biting cold, and the streets are icy. And the dark hours are more than the light ones”. Then I hear a kid passing by talking joyfully about “the yummy pancakes”. In that moment I envy that kid’s energy. Where do they take it in this dark period? I usually never have this feeling – but now I would like to see the world with the kid’s eyes. No Monday blues, no winter blues, no knowledge about melatonin and serotonin and their effect on our mood, no longing for another place I have seen in December, that was full of sunlight and singing parrots. Just eyes wide open, with the reflection of the Christmas lights in them, and touching the Christmas tree set up in front of the church – which must appear just the size of that church in his eyes. Not afraid of the ice on the streets, but sliding cheerfully on it. And not thinking about the distant sunny place – just living in the moment.
Why I am so afraid to feel my negative emotions? Why when I feel despair or anxiety rising up do I want to run and hide, to distract myself, to do anything but avoid feeling what I feel? I am not a good runner in sports, but I am a very good runner from my fears. Isn’t it generally a human condition? We try to stop ourselves from feeling the way we consider negative. But what if we stop stopping – and start exploring?
Feeling is healing, I have recently heard in a yin yoga class. And I loved that thought. But I am so good in suppressing the feelings I don’t like – even though I consider myself very self-conscientious and in touch with my inner life. But it shows in situations where I face really uncomfortable emotions that I have no interest for self-inquiry. I just would love to switch the channel and be in a totally different state. As much as I respect Tony Robbins and all that philosophy of quantum leaps and switching states, I want to answer to that call for facing my emotion. I feel that it can bring me closer to my true self.
We are half done with the spring – and I just realized that I haven’t shared my 5 things for ages. Isn’t it great to have such a feature when you have desire to post but don’t have idea or the will to work hard on something sophisticated? Today I am kind of foggy, so this is an perfect excuse to skip my usual long texts (I love writing the long texts, maybe you noticed 😉 And I hope, there are people who care to read them to their end :)).
A funny story about my fogginess today. I had an appointment with my Mexican friend today and I got up a bit earlier than usually and battled the cold wind outside, almost running to the place with music in my ears. Only to discover that he was not there. And as I thought if this is Latino style and was close to calling him, I scrolled through our texting – and found out that appointment is tomorrow. I just had to laugh and eat my brunch alone there 🙂 Hope, that tomorrow he will be there (otherwise the regular customers at Evita cafe will consider me a crazy lady).
Back to our main show – 5 things which make me smile this April. It looks like the main motive is blooming and blossoming 🙂
I am a lover of botanical gardens. And how lucky I am that I can walk to the one – especially in the spring when the signs of new life appear almost every day! Even when it didn’t look like spring in the city, in the garden the first bush of rhododendron was already in bloom. It means that the winter is officially over (even if it still feels like it) and the nature is waking up from its dream.