A great journey starts with the small steps. A great change starts with some small changes. A big thing starts with the small things.
And if there were a chance to send a message to my younger self, I would send this. “Don’t wait for anything. Start doing the small things. Don’t wait for better weather, or better times, for better company or better opportunities. Start doing what you can do – now”. If you want to have a garden – start with a single pot. If you want to live one year in Paris – start learning French. If you want to learn a new dance – sign up for that salsa class now.
I believe there is a great potential of empowerment in doing small things and taking the small steps.
So often when we talk about a country or a culture, it seems that we compare it with another one and come to conclusion that sums up to: “I’ll stick with this one, no matter what” – or “No, thanks, I’ll go for another one”. It sounds like we choose all the time. But why choose only one? Can we take (and make) both?
I have noticed that my life comprises mostly of the people who come “from here and there and a bit of everywhere”. There are few (or none) 100% Norwegians, or 100% Ukrainians, or other pure nationalities in my life. Maybe, because that’s my natural tribe, reflecting my life choices. I am not amazed, for example, that I, born Ukrainian, communicate with my native Catalan husband in Norwegian language, not native to either of us. It once suprized a couple of Norwegians though.
I can understand them, they didn’t expect to hear the language of their little proud country in some tapas bar in Barcelona somewhere around midnight. Especially coming with heavy Spanish accent and sweet Eastern-European accent, used to discuss a love relationship between those two. Why Norwegian?? They seemed to be falling from their chairs, breaking their backs to turn and see who these two were, using their language in this place.
I have discovered recently that I love small simple things in my life. I really love them – that is, I feel a sweet emotion when I see them, use them, touch them. When I can throw a lip balm, a mobile and a card holder in my little bag and go – I feel small wings behind my back like those of a butterfly. I believe I can fly :)) No, I don’t feel like flying. But I feel appreciation of all the simple things that work in my life – that give me space to breathe and think of other things (which are not things-things).
I came to value simplicity. Surprisingly for myself :)) In my post “Pack lightly. Travel lightly” I dwelled on my philosophy of it. Here I just want to share some actual things, small simple things, that keep me happy.
Decluttering teaches me some basic wisdom. Going through old things, getting rid of many of them (including some postcards and notes from friends, which is a heart-ripping activity) the old idea downs on me. We spend so much of our life worrying about things and money – but in the end of the day it’s people that matter.
We spend our lives working hard for money, buying stuff, accumulating things – and then we discover that we need to declutter, to get rid of much in order to get a better quality of life. Time flies. We may stress over various aspects, focus on different areas of our life. But at certain times we cast a look over all our possessions and realize that all that hardship and stress was unnecessary. As someone reminded, on their deathbed people don’t ask for their diplomas, trophies or things – they want to be surrounded by the people that matter to them.
Somewhere on the subway I have seen a commercial for the storage services, and it had this tagline: “The more you live, the more space you need”. It referred to different kinds of people, sport enthusiasts, parents, nonconformists, who collect things and need extra space to store them. Something felt wrong with this tagline. And then my man expressed this for me: “This sentence is wrong. The more you live – the less space you should need”. Right!
Many wish for designer clothes or bags – my biggest wish is for life by design. And may the design be my own.
For almost a year I was working in the department store in Oslo that sells the most expensive and exclusive brands. Lately Norwegians have gotten more interest for the high-end products and Oslo started to develop its own area of luxury shopping. Some years ago these streets were filled with kiosks, small shops and cafes. Now in their place there are all the famous fashion names.
Walking past them every day, I had enough time and opportunity to contemplate about luxury. And I came to conclusion that, for me, luxury is not Louis and Gucci, not flying with a private jet, popping champagne bottles. The greatest luxury for me is to live my life by my terms and rules.
I love writing gratitude lists to the leaving year and usually I use the first week of January for that. I also write visions for the new year (but not New year resolutions), plans and goals. As much as I love those activities, I never used to share them on the blog because that would feel like bragging to me. I am often concerned about the literature value, hehe. Like: “what would the reader get out of it?” However, doing the post about the best pictures and moments of 2017 felt so right to me – and I hope, that it felt like a positive sparkle to you. So I just have to complete that list and share the rest of that year – in pics and highlights!
Yesterday I was re-reading the horoscope for 2017 which promised that this year would be one of my most favorite years. Well, what can I say? They didn’t lie :). The leaving year has been amazing for me. And as the December rain is washing the rest of that year away, I decided to look back and pick my most favorite photos and the best moments of this fabulous year.
My favorite picture of the winter 2017 is this shot from Barceloneta, a beach neighborhood in Barcelona. This is how February in Barcelona looks like: sunny and bright, and surfing boards blending in with the winter coats. I love this game of outfits and meanings, and I hope that my life will be more like this: the sea, the sun and the colors, and surfing easy among winter-clad people.
“There is no bad weather, only bad clothes”, goes the popular Norwegian saying. That is right – and it is also wrong. I would say, that there is a weather that makes you feel down. While the sunshine makes the body to produce another happy hormone serotonin, the darkness leads to production of melatonin, a hormone that makes us tired and passive, which is necessary at night so we can fall asleep. In autumn there is less light which makes us feel down, sleepy and passive. That’s why it is important to meet the season prepared, with good knowledge of yourself and some strategies.
During those few days I was in Barcelona it was so easy to wake up and feel enthusiasm. Even though it was hard to fall asleep because of the unruly thoughts about the political situation, it was enough to see sun rays through the window and feel the rush of energy. When I was landing in Norway, my eyes were so in love with the colors of autumn, and I joyfully breathed in the cool crispy air. Few rainy days later and I was afraid of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) creeping on me as it used to do in the past years. Luckily, I had made a list of activities that I was looking forward to this autumn. My list of joy. I feel moved to share its ideas here – maybe, you can borrow some for making your autumn better and brighter. I want to keep myself off the beaten path and leave out the things like warm teas under fluffy blankets. These tips seem to be well known, and I am sure, that we all do them in autumn 🙂
Once I was talking to a friend about my blog and noticed: “Everyone says that the blog must give something, and I don’t know what my blog can give to the reader”. Her answer was: “Your blog can show your search for meaning. And it has value. You are searching for meaning, for beauty in your everyday life – you don’t create those glamorous Instagram accounts, but collect your doors and things you like. Because not everyone knows what he likes. And you can show your way”.
So as you may know, I call myself a self-proclaimed student of art de vivre, i.e. the art of life (I just like the French way of saying it more). And some time ago I have asked this question on my blog: how do you define the art of life? Interesting enough, have I ever answered this question myself?
I did answered it to myself, and I thought it is important that I share my answer here. But then the summer came crossing over my plans. Festival happened. Guests happened. Life in summer happens – with more intensity. So I found myself forgetting my answer. But it has never left my mind. So what is the art of life according to me?