Archive for category Just Life

The bitter taste of unmet expectations

A good friend of mine, who also lives abroad now, has texted me last week with an unpleasant (for her) piece of news. She has been fancying this guy at work for quite a while now and even felt a connection, but they never dated. However, apparently he told her he wasn’t in a relation, only for my friend to recently find out he is moving in with his girlfriend. She wrote me “how do I get over this bitter taste?”

The first thing which sprang to my mind was that, actually, he’d done nothing wrong. Many men, especially at work, prefer not to discuss or give much detail on their personal life whatsoever. Many of them only talk about any such matters with very close friends. Although I do feel for my friend, I see how her disappointment has little to do with the guy himself, but more with her own unfulfilled expectations. He probably didn’t even lie to her, considering, as she’s also told me, that he valued setting a clear limit between personal life and work.

Now I need to say I have known my friend for many, many years. She is the sweetest, most delicate introvert, with a sparkling sense of humour, which actually shelters a very shy, sensitive and emotional person. And, after years of not being in contact, we found each other again on, yes, Facebook and have kept in touch better via Viber and Skype. It feels just the same as in those days past when we sometimes confessed to each other by writing letters.

The bitterness which she possibly felt quite overwhelming we all experience, heavier or lighter, over and over. Every time an unmet expectation strikes us, it seems like the natural feeling, a little less heated than anger and a little more obvious than frustration. But then, at the same time, whichever the range of emotions, we can stop and ask ourselves: does this actually have anything to do with somebody else treating us unfairly or not? Did they do anything wrong to us, after all?
The more we think they did, the more difficult will be for us to get over it and move on.

Of course I am speaking out of experience. I do know a lot about lingering in the drama, about feeding my own frustration and keeping the flames of my own anger high. But I have also come to realise what I have probably read over and over again, and was told by some of the most helpful people I’ve met, that others do not have to react, behave or relate to me in the way I want or would like them too. As long as it is not offensive, what they do is their own choice and has nothing to do with me.
Once we realise this, we do not take things so personally any longer. It doesn’t mean our first reaction would be different or we would lose all of the bitterness, frustration or anger when our long learnt and practiced pattern has been to feel hurt, disappointed, mislead (if not, plainly, lied to), pushed aside.

However, in time and with good practice, we can come to understand that the way people behave has little to do with us. It has much to do with themselves, their life circumstances, their past and background, their life experience, their own state of mind.
Wherever we are, whatever the situation, it comes to us to consider our options and where we want to shift our attention to. Just the same as it is the others’ own business to deal with the consequences of their own behaviour, choices and expectations.

Writing about this made me think of a Paul Valery quote, which I knew in an approximate form in Romanian. According to Goodreads, this is what the French writer said: “Our judgements judge us; and nothing reveals us [or] exposes our weaknesses more ingeniously than the attitude of pronouncing upon our fellows.” 

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Când ți se dă o pauză

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Pentru prima oară în cam 4 ani de zile astăzi nu m-am dus la serviciu din motive de sănătate. Nu este ceva foarte grav, mâine voi fi iarăși perfect funcțională, sunt sigură de asta. 

Probabil că aveam nevoie de pauza asta în care să nu mai simt obligația de a face nimic, dar absolut nimic. În care să mă trezesc la ce oră vreau eu, să zac cât vreau, să nu simt că pierd ceva prin asta, să mă bucur de un mic dejun luat la ora 12 fără senzația aia că ar fi trebuit să mă organizez mai bine. Să stau și să mă vait pe fotoliu, să iau o doză de 2xNurofen Express 200 mg + un Paracetamol + cana de cafea că am citit eu undeva că s-a descoperit cum că aceasta este combinația perfectă împotriva durerilor comune, să aștept să treacă, să îmi dea o lacrimă, să mă vait sonor, și să mă uit la lumina care vine de afară. Iar atunci când a trecut faza acută să pară totul în jur proaspăt, calm, plin de pace, ca pe un câmp pe care abia ce au dat primele semne de verdeață, sub un cer care clipește când dintr-o rază de soare, când dintr-un nor ca un puf.

Cică are și corpul nostru înțelepciunea lui. Cică atunci când suntem prea agitați, când alergăm  ca niște cai turbați pe timp de furtună, când ne-am transformat iarăși în rotița centrală a unui mecanism complicat, strâns în jurul nostru, atunci corpul s-ar putea să decidă că e timpul pentru resetare.
În orice caz pot să mă mândresc cu ceva rezistență: ultima restartare de genul ăsta am avut-o acum un an și jumătate, și s-a întâmplat în concediul meu de iarnă, chiar când mă pregăteam să-mi serbez ziua de naștere, hahaha!

În ziua asta petrecută acasă fără să simt vreo obligație sau presiune de nici unde mi-am amintit de copilăria mea. Am avut parte de zile lungi, în șir, de zăcut la pat, cu injecții și tot restul, sau altele mai puțin restrictive, când, cu tusea în gât și șosetele tricotate de bunica în picioare, stăteam lângă sobă cu cartea în mână și parcurgeam teritorii, aventuri, drame și emoții în fiecare zi.
Astăzi am regăsit ceva din starea aceea de libertate, culmea, câștigată prin constrângerile propriului corp. Mi-am amintit că zilele acelea aveau o liniște caldă, că ieșeau cumva în afara timpului, că mă înveleau ca un cocon. Bine, nu voi nega toate suferințele și necazul atunci când îmi era rău, când nu mă puteam ridica din pat de amețeală și febră, când nu puteam mânca nimic, sau când mă luptam pentru fiecare gură de aer. Nu voi nega nici tristețile mele de atunci, senzația de izolare, de rupere de la o viață normală, pe care copiii ceilalți, liberi să se joace, să țopăie și să facă prostii o aveau. Dar nu a fost cu totul o dramă, o experiență de căinat, un blestem.

Adevăratul blestem, adevăratul demon mi se pare acum presiunea asta contemporană de a face mereu ceva, de a nu te opri, de a alerga mereu în cercuri nebune. Scapi de la muncă, ai de făcut niște cumpărături, de condus acasă, de stat în trafic, de băgat țoale la mașina de spălat, mai faci un timesheet de acasă, apoi planuri pentru zilele libere, ce film să vezi, când să faci curățenie, când să ieși la o plimbare, învârteală, răsucire, agitație, mereu ceva de atins, de bifat, de organizat, de pus la punct.
Măcar mama are legumele acolo în grădină, ce îi mai trebuie se găsește la magazinul de la colț, sau de la celălalt colț, viața e mai simplă fără atâtea scopuri minuscule de atins.
Lumea asta în care trăim ne vinde ideea că, dacă vrei să reușești, nu te poți opri. Ai bani de făcut, ai ținte de nimerit, trebuie să fii arcul tot timpul pregătit să își trimită săgeata.

Copilăria mea mereu cu câte o bronșită, criză de astm, pneumonie, amigdalită cu febră 40o C mi-a dat lungi răgazuri în care să nu am alte scopuri decât acela de a fi. Să stau cu cartea în brațe și picioarele cocoțate pe marginea sobei, să mai bag un lemn pe foc, să beau o cană de ceai, să mângâi pisica, să las pisica să mi se cocoțe în brațe, să pun Tiberiu Ceia la magnetofon și să cânt cu el până răgușesc, să povestesc cu mama despre poeziile lui Goga sau Coșbuc sau Eminescu sau Alecsandri, să mă uit afară cum ninge, să ies să citesc în curte și să privesc puii care umblă de colo colo, ciugulind, sau zac și ei la umbră cu aripile și picioarele rășchirate, doborâți de caniculă.

Nu glorific, nu demonizez și nu mai dramatizez o perioadă care a fost și dificilă, dar și frumoasă. Mă bucur doar că astăzi am redescoperit ce înseamnă să iei o pauză cu adevărat, în care să lași ziua să curgă firesc, fără obligații și agitații inutile.
Și asta m-a făcut să mă gândesc din nou la cărțile citite de demult, companionii mei cei mai de încredere, despre care vreau să încep să povestesc pe aici cât de curând.

 

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How to feel alive. Be a Sun Warrior.

Do you ever feel the need to come alive, as if you have been hibernating for too long and your body does not know anymore how it is to be… real? Do you find yourself realising you haven’t used most of your muscles, except your fingers for typing or clicking the mouse or texting, since like… since when, actually?
If you want to feel you are so alive it’s almost raw, in the sense of feeling fresh and overwhelming, even on a rainy Wednesday morning which looks like a true autumn day, dark and wet and impervious, I have something to recommend. It is called Body Balance and, unless you are super-fit, there is a big chance it will leave you feel just like me today: pain in your neck muscles, shoulder muscles, arms muscles, back muscles, bottom muscles, well let’s just name all of them, for starters? It kind of feels like I am soar head to toes. When I sat in my bed to start writing this, for example, I first tried to do it with my legs curled, but that was painful! Better stretch them in front, so now I can only feel my bottom as I sit on it. I haven’t learnt to hover yet, unfortunately.

Here is what a Body Balance class looks like:

Maybe some of you are familiar and actually quite good at it. I have been to my first one yesterday and I completely LOVED IT! Being on a membership at Littledown Centre, which gives me unlimited access to all classes available, as long as I book one week in advance (all for £32, with access to the gym and swimming pool included), I have booked to do another one on Sunday already. Well, I guess until then my muscles will lose some of the pain.
This Body Balance thing was exactly what I was looking for. After two years of going to the gym quite regularly (and in the last 2-3 months I have been good, 2 or 3 times a week), I was getting bored of the same stretches, the same weight pulling and cycling for 15-20 minutes. I enjoyed it, but it felt like it wasn’t quite enough and I had to continuously push myself to do it, as motivation would start to fade. And this despite me being very aware I need this, after years and years of a sedentary life, from the asthma childhood with the motto “stop running, you’ll get an attack again!”, to my office years when the regular route would be desk, subway, chair (in the theatre, cinema, café), then desk again at home, and some weekend walks.

The truth is that we have bodies we do not much use any longer. Most of modern day jobs involve a series of repetitive actions, most of activities people get involved in are sedentary. In the field I work in this is not as much the case, but still there can be times of inactivity and waiting for the person you support to want to do something.
So I wonder how many people today do feel alive, do feel they are in their bodies here and now and not only inside an ever flickering mind, in our thoughts bouncing inside our heads like a crazy game which never stops. I know that people who go to the gym or do some sort of a regular exercise tend to be aware of how it takes them away from the ever in motion stream of thoughts and, as such, release tensions not only in body, but in mind as well.

Any kind of exercise taken seriously would do. But then why not trying to find the one which truly suits you?
I found mine, and writing this is not a paid advert for the Littledown Centre, hahaha! The stretches and movements we have done at the start of the session, coming from Tai Chi, completely work for me as they challenge if I push myself, but at the same time they are elegant and I can feel the openness they involve. For example there is the position/stretch called Sun Warrior (love the name as well!) which gives your body the elegance of a bird flying towards the sky, it opens your trunk while pointing upwards, and really stretches your legs. It just felt right to me.

During the last couple of years I have become more and more focused on finding a broader sense of purpose, as well as a better rhythm and involvement. I am still working in many areas, but hey, that is what life is for, isn’t it?
First, I started to go now and then to swim, took regular walks, then the gym. Second, I became fascinated with the Ketogenic diet, and the way it was developed could not leave you indifferent if curious about science. But then I understood a high fat and very, very low carb lifestyle is a bit too extreme for me. At the moment I am doing a low carb diet, excluding bread, potatoes, rice and cereal products from my every day meals, allowing some bakery once or twice a week. Also, I have discovered a Stevia sweetener, after reading reviews, which tastes great and reduces my intake of sugar: Natvia.
Funny enough (or not) it all started with an article in my favourite magazine ever, National Geographic, talking about sugar consumption and the BIG problem in the US with sugar-related obesity and the health problems caused by it. At the moment, they are doing an 8 issues series on world food, which covers challenges to possible solutions, and is incredibly good!
All of these might be a sign that I am getting older. Or wiser?
Don’t know for sure, but it might also have to do with the fact I grew up being regularly ill, three pneumonias on the record and an unaccountable number of times I almost died of an asthma attack, then the only big operation in my life taking place after I almost got into peritonitis (general infection of the internal organs caused by the spread from the appendix to the peritoneum inner membrane), which actually started, but I got into surgery soon enough for a simple draining tube to do the trick in a day or two. Well, this is only for giving you part of the picture, I guess, of what makes me think that giving my body the necessary respect is vital. It does so many things for me, it overcame so much hardship, shouldn’t I be able to do it some good and take care of it properly?

In the end, I want to thank Laura from Littledown, the trainer who led the Body Balance class yesterday evening, and is actually a substitute tutor/trainer at the moment (she explained this is how they start, until getting a class of their own). She has been great and I have deeply enjoyed it all! I hope she gets her own regular class soon.

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