Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Someone I Once Knew, Someone I Have Become

This morning, I was overcome by the thought of how much I have changed since I moved to New York. The person I was, when I just entered the adult life of living on my own in the big city, and the person I have become almost two and a half years later are two completely different people. They would still probably be friends, sharing their similar positive outlooks on life, but they would definitely argue a lot about their tastes, preferences, hobbies, life choices. As I thought about it, I began to get more and more scared. “What if with all these changes I end up ‘losing myself’” But that fear was immediately followed by another thought of “you cannot lose something you never had, or someone you never found’. That is true. The person who came to New York was a young girl trying to find her way in life, trying to realize what was important for her, trying to develop her own style and taste, trying to be more confident about her own choices, but almost always being pushed over by the opinions and views of the others. That person was weak, but at the same time she was strong because she knew that she had to find her own way in life and she kept trying. Two and a half years later, little by little this girl has become a more self-fulfilled individual with her own opinions, with a higher level of confidence and with a better understanding of what she likes and what she wants to be.

I cannot say that I completely got over all of my fears and that I am absolutely certain about my path in life. No, not at all – I am still quite indecisive, I still get scared and I still am shy when I shouldn’t be. However, all in all, I have learned to be more accepting of my fears and flaws. I have also learned to embrace the fact of not knowing what life has in store for me, as I believe that the most interesting thing in life is just living it and taking in all of the lessons, surprises and rewards it brings.

 







Friday, August 22, 2014

Gratitude

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My train ride to work usually takes around 40-45 minutes. Some people may say it's way too long but I actually don’t mind the commute – I enjoy this time, as I can catch up on my reading or just listen to the music and brainstorm. As I pretty much never slow down, this time of sitting still and not doing anything is perfect for me to take a break and reflect on various things and events in my life. So I was on the train this morning, thinking, and I could think of nothing but pure gratitude. As I started running through the list of events that have been happening to me recently, I realized that there are so many things I am grateful for. I am grateful that I finally got back on my diet (it's only day 2 but I'm very hopeful and determined this time. Who wouldn't be - only one day of the diet and I woke up with close to no pain); I am grateful for my new apartment which I love and feel very comfortable in; I am grateful for my friends with whom I can have good times, talk, go out, having fun. Of course most of all I am grateful to my family. My mom, this tiny 5'4" woman, who is not afraid of any challenge. I know deep inside she is going through her struggles and obstacles, but on the outside she is strong and determined. Through the bad time and the good times she has been my greatest supporter, my best friend and ally. My stepdad, who gives his all just to make us happy, who keeps showing us what a family is, and who constantly teaches us not to take things too seriously. And the list goes on and on.

Just about a week after I moved into my new apartment, they opened a new café a block from it. The café is called ‘Gratitude Café’ and it serves as a constant reminder for me to stay grateful. When my parents were visiting me a few weeks ago, I took them straight to Gratitude Café, which was a great start of the weekend. Everything about this place revolves around putting people in a good mood – the bright colors of the interior décor, the mix of relaxing and upbeat music, the warm and welcoming personnel. As we were sitting there having our lunch, nothing but the positive energy and appreciation was running through me. We all have a lot to deal with, but all the trouble aside, there is always something to be grateful for. 







Monday, August 18, 2014

Secret Admirer

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There is a market here in Brooklyn right near my apartment where I oftentimes shop for my groceries. I really like this market as they have pretty much everything – from fresh fruit and vegetables to almond and other nut milks and a bunch of other healthy products. Its location it also very convenient – it’s right on my way back from the subway station home.


So a couple of weeks ago I stopped by the market after work to buy some groceries. This Caribbean guy who works there comes up to me and all of a sudden says: “You’re the most beautiful.” As nice as it was, I was a little taken aback. To me, moments like this usually make the situation a little awkward as I never know how to behave the next time I see the person. A few days later I had to buy some more things and when I walked into the market I subconsciously started looking around, trying to see if the guy was there and preparing my escape plan. Since he was nowhere in sight, I proceeded with my grocery shopping. However, as soon as I approached the cashier, there he was. I didn’t lose my cool, I stepped forward to the cashier and as I started unloading my groceries I heard the guy say familiar words “You’re the most beautiful” and this time hand me a chocolate bar. So now every time I have to buy something at the market, I leave it with compliments and gifts. Today, for example, I got a beautiful rose and an invitation to go out for tacos. I don’t think the taco outing will happen, but it is nice that my grocery shopping now provides me with a good boost of self-esteem. 



College Life

I had a nostalgia hit, again. But this time, it wasn’t for Russia or for my parents’ house – it was for my university. As I was planning a trip out to Philadelphia to see my parents, I was dreaming of visiting Temple University on Saturday just to walk through the campus, reminisce the days of my college young,  revive those memories of my education journey. Just as planned, I arrived to Philly on Saturday morning, my parents picked me up from the station and after some exploring of Philly’s Chinatown, we headed to visit the main campus of Temple University.

I felt good and a little melancholic navigating through the campus – good for having done it, for having accomplished my Bachelor’s degree in four years; melancholic for missing the days of going to classes, leaning something new, meeting new people. My mind started racing. Would I go back to school? What would I study for? Would I come back to Temple or apply to a university in New York City? Should I do it sooner rather than later or should I hold off until I have more work experience and am more aware of what I want to do? As the questions piled up in my head, I was growing more and more determined that yes, I will come back to school, but not immediately. I do need more time to discover what it is I want to focus on for my future career. I have so many ideas and plans and they change so frequently that the only right thing to do now is wait. I will never know for sure what I want to do in the future, but I can at least eliminate the ideas that will not be relevant in the near future. Once I have a more contained set of ideas I can think about applying myself to something that feels right for me.














Sunday, August 10, 2014

Healthy

There are quite a few people that motivate me in different aspect of life – celebrities, other bloggers, writers; however, out of all of them, my mom is probably my greatest role model. My mom is a very strong woman, who knows how to make the best out of any situation. When faced with an obstacle, she will not sit around waiting for the circumstances to turn in her favor; instead she will take the situation under control and figure out the best solution, both for her and for the people around her. She has got a great, giving heart and an amazing personality which make her the life of any party. Regardless of what I am dealing with, I know I can always talk to my mom and things will be better in just a matter of a few minutes we speak.
Last week, in one of our daily conversation, we started discussing how lately we have not been good ourselves. Between the work stress, not getting enough sleep, not getting enough exercise and on top of all of that eating who knows what, no wonder our bodies and minds are not in their best state. So my mom made a decision right then and there – to start exercising and eat clean. Nothing too overwhelming, just a healthy way of living. I highly encouraged her and thought that I would need a few more days of indulgence (aka eating crappy foods) and then I will start with her. So I gave myself a week and decided that starting this weekend I will return to my previous diet, with a few modifications.  

When I say ‘diet’ I don’t mean a weight-loss diet; the diet I am referring to is more of a lifestyle. Just to give you an idea of why this ‘diet’ is so important to me, in 2008 I was diagnosed with a medical condition that had a massive impact on my life. For the next four years I was in the hospital every eight weeks getting treatment for my disease just to keep it under control. “This is a chronic disease and unfortunately you will not be able to cure it. You will have to learn to live with it for the rest of your life” were the words my doctor would use in every single of my visits. This is not exactly something an eighteen-year-old girl would want to hear. But it was what it was and I was ready to surrender to the frequent hospital visits, limitless medications and constant discomfort due to the illness. However, after I moved to New York in 2012 my insurance was cancelled and I realized that the treatment had to stop, as I would not be able to afford it. After I got the letter of cancellation, I tried to appeal it explaining that I cannot afford the treatment I was getting (we found out that one such treatment, which I was getting every 8 weeks, cost anywhere from $8,000 to $20,000). I remember going to bed every night and crying my eyes out as I did not know what to expect. I had just moved to the city of dreams, I had just started my new job, I had just started my life as an independent adult, and in one brief paragraph that letter was ruining it all. I knew I would not be able to go on if my disease got out of control. I also knew that there must be something else, some Plan B to help me cope with the situation at stake. The answer came unexpected as it usually happens in situations like this. I came across a book with this specific diet that apparently treats conditions like mine. I cannot even remember how I found it, but for the next few days all of  my attention in my spare time was dedicated to reading this book. I was eager to start this new lifestyle. I knew it would be hard and sometime almost impossible to stick to the diet 100%, as it was very restrictive, but I also knew that this may be my way out. I decided not to wait to hear back about my appeal letter and start the diet immediately. Long story short – the diet worked. For around six months I followed it religiously, without any cheat days, or cheat meals, and I am sure that that persistence is what truly made it work. Now I am on and off with my diet, being more off than on. And it shows. I know I am not supposed to eat as freely, but I still do, and when I do it is so hard to get back on track. So now that I’ve had quite a few weeks of eating anything and everything, I want to return to that lifestyle (not as strict this time though). As they say, “we are what we eat” and I completely agree with that! There are so many other joys in our lives besides eating something that is clearly bad for you but tastes good. When you are healthy, everything just starts following into place. You get more energy, you get a more positive outlook on life, you get to do and to enjoy more things. It is time to start caring for ourselves, it is time to be good to ourselves because we all deserve the best, but we just have to do something to get it.





One of the greatest things about New York is its abundance of healthy cafes and shops. This city makes it easy to eat well (why do I still opt out for the bad stuff? I have not idea!)