Like a fine wine…

“I’m like a fine wine. I get better with age. The best is yet to come.”

                                                /Richelle Mead/

Celebrating my birthday with some Lady Grey tea and violet and blueberry cake

 

Since my last birthday:

  • I’ve continued my mindful journey and meditated daily
  • I learnt that kindness may come from the least expected directions and from people who I would’ve never thought could extend their helping hand to me, as if they were there to balance out those who I thought would’ve been there for me when I really needed them
  • I’ve learnt to be a bit more assertive ( and I’m not planning on stopping any time soon! )
  • I visited Japan
  • I became an aunt of a beautiful baby boy ( and the first American in the family!)
  • I (finally!) went to Cuba ( and surprised myself I can still communicate in my broken Spanish 🙂 ) . Oh, and for the first time ever, my gut got defeated by Cuban water (or whatever was in it!). I won’t divulge further details, it’s a rather shitty story… 😉
  • I got caught up in Ft Lauderdale crisis (yes, I’ll write about it one day)
  • I started my blog (wow, I still can’t believe it sometimes!)
  • I’ve completed Positive Psychology and Demystifying Mindfulness courses on Coursera  (and started another one with one more waiting in the pipeline)
  • My health deteriorated (but I’m working on it and I’m getting better)
  • I moved from Asia back to Europe (so not such a big change 😉 )
  • I attended a christening in Poland and wedding in the UK
  • I’ve been living with a Buddhist community again
  • I started teaching again
  • I’ve continued meeting amazing, inspiring and supportive people
  • I helped Amanda with her book launch

But most importantly I realised how resilient and strong I’ve become, having had to deal with the whole plethora of issues which had landed on me like a ton of bricks within a very short period of time in a foreign country. I’m extremely grateful for all the lessons I’ve been receiving since my last birthday- they hit me on the head, poked me, tickled me, made me cry, made me laugh, but, first and foremost, have been shaping this fine woman that I am.

Happy birthday to me – the best is yet to come 🙂 

 

 

I know I can’t save the whole world,but…

This is what happened to me today. I was meeting my friend in the city centre. As I was waiting for him, I noticed a woman and a man on the other side of the street. The man couldn’t walk properly- he clearly had issues with taking a single step straight, was very wobbly on his feet, but somehow managed to get to a bus stop with the woman. The woman was trying to give him a cigarette, but he wasn’t really able to get it off her. He dropped his plastic carrier bag too as seemed not to be able to hold anything either. From where I was standing, he looked potentially highly intoxicated- booze, drugs- no idea.  The woman left him at that bus stop a moment later. He then started losing his balance, was trying to prop himself by holding the bench at the bus stop. At that point I felt turmoil inside and started having conflicting thoughts: should I ring for an ambulance/police or not? Should I just run to  the Children’s hospital which was several meters away and ask for help there or not? I looked around- no one seemed to be doing anything and didn’t look even slightly concerned- people just watched. As I watched him losing balance even more- by then he hunched over the seat- I decided I wasn’t going to leave him like that.  I didn’t want to run to that hospital as didn’t want to lose the sight of him, so I pull out my mobile and rang emergency services and asked for an ambulance. As I was on a phone with the ambulance service, few people approached us to… look. Some of them were homeless people who seemed to know of that guy. Some gave me his nickname and told me he was known to smoke ‘mamba’. I was relaying all the info to the ambulance service. A coffee shop worker (this bus stop was in front of a coffee shop) came out and gave me a leaflet, so I could provide the ambulance with the postcode. I kept asking any person who was near me whether they knew the guy etc. I was having rather challenging time talking to the ambulance dispatch lady as she was asking me questions I wasn’t able to answer, i.e. whether he was known to have diabetes, how old he was etc. I felt I was losing my patience with her, although I understood why she was doing it- she also then explained she needed to give the ambulance crew as much info as possible. But I think I know what it was- I was feeling scared. It was strange to have made such decision and although I felt it was the right thing to do, I was scared that I wasn’t handling the situation well enough and felt a bit embarrassed about it.  I didn’t approach the guy straight away when he was still with the woman and didn’t ask if he was ok (although I was thinking about it), but I was scared. And I was thinking that I should’ve been more decisive, more assertive in my approach to the situation, but I wasn’t. Yet, I made that call. And I feel it was the right thing to do despite some of the homeless guys saying that the guy was wasting people’s time and resources as he was known to have been smoking ‘mamba’. But I just couldn’t let it go. It was him hunching over that bench at the bus stop that made me really worried- what if he fell over and hit his head on the pavement? What if he fell over, fell asleep and choked on his own vomit should he started vomiting? I just couldn’t not do anything. I saw my friend passing me by in his car, but I could only wave to him and indicated I was on the phone. The ambulance came and a paramedic took over- I checked with her if I could go now. Left my phone number and name with the dispatch person and left. My friend managed to park his car and came to the scene too. I told him what had happened. Then noticed how much I was shaking, mostly inside. We talked about helping people who seemed to look intoxicated- when is the right time to help, when is time to let go and accept their decisions? I don’t know the answer- I don’t know if one,correct answer even exists- I think all depends on that particular moment and situation we face. And I think thinking about personal safety isn’t a bad thing either.

When I was chatting with my friend in the car, I suddenly had this realisation. Only few weeks ago I went to Warsaw, Poland. It was the first time I was going somewhere new, so I left earlier to ensure I had enough time to find the place. As I was in a metro station, just about to insert my ticket and get onto the platforms, I heard this scream behind me. I turned around and saw two women by the escalators- one was on the floor, clearly having fallen down. I looked for a moment and realised that the other woman was struggling to get the one on the floor up. I abandoned my plan of getting on a train and ran to help. I ended up dragging the woman off the escalators as she couldn’t get up having one of her feet still on the moving stairs. She hit and cut her head, she was bleeding, but she was conscious and able to talk to us. I could also smell alcohol on her. We took her aside and I said we would need to ring for an ambulance as she had hit her head. But the woman didn’t want to hear about it and was begging us not to. We tried to convince her that she needed medical attention. I asked the other helper if she could do it as I didn’t have a Polish mobile phone. We managed to convince the injured woman to give us a telephone number to her estrange husband who could potentially help her. Another passer by arrived. She wasn’t as diplomatic as we were- she properly told the injured woman off for not letting us ring the ambulance! I admired her for coming across so decisive and self-assured in her actions. After a short update, the third woman rang for the ambulance. In meantime I was dealing with the injured woman and also her husband who was then on the phone and  wanted to speak to me. Luckily the metro workers arrived with the first aid kit and having assured me they would stay with the woman till the ambulance arrived, I could go on my way.

I thought about that incident in Poland in the car today. I said to my friend that maybe I had to come across that guy today and made decisions on my own-and much faster than I had done in Warsaw. Maybe that was my lesson for today. And I thought that it was ok to feel scared as I was taking decisions for another person and I was on my own.

I look at this today’s situation now and at the moment it feels a bit surreal. But it still feels like I’ve done the right thing.

I always had this urge to save everyone, ensure they’re not hurt, shield them (yeah, I did it too- literally!) from harm even when I sacrificed myself or my well-being. I know I’m unable to save the whole world. But where and when I do stop?Should we help strangers even if they don’t want us to help? When do we draw a line and let go and let them face consequences of their actions? Are there really straightforward answers to those questions?

What gets you out of bed?

This is one of the questions I’ve heard so many times from different sources- discussions with people, lectures, talks, programmes, podcasts and so on. Not to mention reading it in numerous places. And usually there was pretty much one answer to it: passion. Or its synonyms.

So I was lying in bed today , thinking about my day ahead… Today I was to meet my new class for the first time. And I.Just.Couldn’t.Be.Bothered.To.Get.Up! Ok, you may think that that’s a quite natural occurrence when someone doesn’t want to go to work. But the thing is.. I really really like what I do! I like meeting new students, I like teaching them, I like looking for new challenges for them -and myself, I enjoy making up new activities, finding interesting and funny stuff for them and, most of all, having fun in the process. When I got to uni today, I felt spring in my step again, I was smiling and feeling rather elated. And I really felt like I wanted to be there. When I teach I become alive! Would you then call it ‘passion’?

So what is this business of not wanting to get up despite knowing I’m about to do what I like to do? I have no clue.  Or maybe, just maybe, all these people aren’t always truthful when they say it’s their passion that drags them out of bed… ? Maybe it’s just breakfast 😉 Or maybe, if it’s true , passion -whatever that means – doesn’t work for me. Or maybe I just simply need something else than passion to get me out of bed! But what is it?

What gets you out of bed? Do you really believe that passion can drag us out of bed every morning? Do you sometimes have this feeling that you can’t wait to get up, so you can do what you really love doing? If you do, let me know how this works for you!

 

 

Mishmash

I’m embraced by fear again. Fear of writing and expressing myself. I can hear this almost constant voice somewhere in my head that I ‘should’ focus my life- and writing- on something specific, something ‘meaningful’ and ‘wise’ , but  all I’ve been experiencing recently is a big mishmash of emotions, feelings, experiences, changes, ultra-fast train of thoughts…It’s been impossible for me to focus. And every time I pay attention to that voice, my body cringes and for me it’s a clear sign it’s not the right way to go…So I don’t.

I don’t want to force myself to focus on anything specific at the moment- I feel like letting all those galloping states and experiences happen and observe them with curiosity. All will calm down and fall into right place at the right time. I feel right now that by trying to tame everything and trying to pick one thing to focus on , I’d be lying to myself, not to mention stressing myself out. So today I’ll just leave it at that…

 

Ha, pushed through some fear by writing something here,now. I smiled.

 

 

Blue Seattle

Chris Cornell died yesterday…I know I’m not the only one who was shocked and saddened by the news . Well, people die every day ,one may say, and they’re right, but Chris Cornell was this very remote , yet  important figure in my life. I’m not saying that Soundgarden  was my favourite band of all times, but it was an important one. So was Temple of the Dog, so was Audioslave. It was the Seattle sound that mostly accompanied me during my secondary school years and stayed with me till today. A lot of my friendships started with, was developed  and consolidated by the Seattle sound.

And Chris Cornell was on that journey with me too.

Only this week I was sitting in a pub in Beijing and got very excited when I heard Soundgarden  being played through the speakers. Quite unusual for this city, in my experience. And I gave, whoever I was with that day, a short explanation of my excitement: I said pretty much to them what I’ve just written here that this band – and the Seattle sound- were important parts in my life.

The Seattle sound takes me back to my best friend’s house, to those evenings lit with candles, christened with cheap wine, sweetened with chocolate and dotted with sometimes meaningful , sometimes silly, but always important conversations.  All with the Seattle sound in the background.

Today Seattle is truly blue…. RIP Chris.

Thank you for the Music. And memories.