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Monday Gratitude

24 Nov

Good morning,
It is Monday, again. And although this is a short week for me-two and a half days- I am trying to not look forward to Wednesday 11:45am – when we all get off work.
This Monday, I am simply trying to be thankful for this one Monday. Thankful for the fact that I am up, alive, healthy, warm and loved. That I am not hungry or scared. I am safe, living in a house in an amazing neighborhood. Thankful for the fact that I have somewhere to be- my job and my university, afterwards.
Monday’s are tough for me, period. I work for 8 hours then I go to the university and sit through another 5 hours of doctoral classes. Well, you know. For a while, I stopped seeing the forest through the trees and got disconnected from my life values.
Today I will try to e connected to who I really am, and to go through this day in touch with my life values.
Have a great day, everyone!

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I welcome fall…

28 Sep

Fall is officially here, and I couldn’t be happier. Yesterday I snapped some pictures outside, and my hubby and I have set up our fall display.
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Also, this weekend we have made a fire a few times, and my cat Apollo was perplexed by it. The fireplace gives me a remarkable feeling of coziness.

IMG_1808.JPGAnd in the backyard, roses are blooming… They were not blooming so much in the summer, but in the fall they are covered with blooms! Go figure… They probably like this cooler weather?

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I also went outside to stargaze for a bit on Friday night using the Sky Guide app and found out that right above our house are two huge stars- Vega and Deneb. I have always been eyeing them thinking what are those?… That night it was so clear, and, after turning off all the lights in the garden, the stars looked even more pronounced.
Although I am head and shoulders deep in grad work this fall, I still plan to take time to enjoy all the beautiful things fall brings my way. For instance, apple picking, corn maze, fall hiking, pumpkin carving, and fall photography sessions.
I welcome fall in every way. What about you? What are some of the things you love about fall?

Seven Questions

13 Aug

1. How did you create the title for your blog? 

I have always been keen on honestly reflecting on my life and lives of people that come in and out of my life. And lavender is one of my favorite colors: soothing and calm. Thus: Lavender Reflections. 

2. What’s the one bit of blogging advice you would give to new bloggers? 

Be consistent with your writing. Make time for it. Don’t worry if it’s bad – it’s still an outlet.

3. What is the strangest experience you’ve ever had?

So many… But one comes to mind. I have taken a $20 bill, in singles, and left them all in a family Dollar store as  Random Act of Kindness. About a week later, a woman handed me a $20 dollar bill in the dressing room, in my yoga studio, saying – “You must have dropped this because there was no one else there.” Astoundingly weird!

4. What is the best thing that anybody has ever said to you?

“I wish there was a grade greater than an A for this excellent research that you did in the Directed Research Class.  While all of you fellow colleagues’  work was exceedingly stellar, I was tremendously impressed with the quality of the research that  you did and the flawless writing up of your findings.  I would encourage you at some point, to pursue doctoral studies.” Doctor Walker, graduate school professor.

I am now on my way to get a PhD in Higher Education Leadership.

5. When presented with a time machine, which one place and time would you visit?

Victorian England so I can wear the dresses and have tea!

6. If you had to pick a new first name, what would you choose?

Natalie?…

7. If you were a B Movie, what would it be called?

The Cabin. It would be about a lonely woman who lives in a cabin in the woods, in Russia, by choice. She writes, reads, picks mushrooms and berries, and makes shashlik (beef kebab). 

Please check out other answers on Suzie Speaks blog: http://suzie81speaks.com/2014/08/13/questions-questions-questions-the-wordpress-community-experiment/ 

Soothing Tea

7 Aug

I have brought many types of tea from India and Nepal. yesterday, I tried one of them out -Rose tea. It was delicious and fragrant.

Today I plan on making the infamous (and very good) Masala tea or spice tea.

Tea made me long for my parents – growing up in Russia, we have always had tea. Every day, several times, you will have tea: morning, afternoon, evening.

This week I have been busy and productive with many things: curriculum revision, doctoral classes, unpacking my travel fotos, cooking healthy meals, cleaning the house, attending professional deleopment workshops, putting together presentations for StaffCollege, participating in PLN tweetchats, etc. I have also been going for morning walks in the neighborhood.

I am curious, how do you enshure that your day in productive? Do you make a list? Do you prioritize it? Do you determine three most important things? Do you reflect afterwards?

 

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Early mornings continue…

4 Aug

It has been a week since I am back from my trip. It feels like it’s been year, however. I slipped right into my usual routine of waking up at 4AM and doing things I enjoy. On my trip, I drove my room mate crazy (yes, it was a budget trip hence having room mates). She kept asking me WHY will you ever wake up at 5:30AM…ON VACATION?

I pointed out that usually my wake up time is 4AM, to be exact. I explained that I love early mornings when it feels like the world is still asleep. You cannot beat the beauty of a morning walk in your neighborhood. You cannot beat two hours of uninterrupted reading, writing, learning something new or reviewing your values and planning ahead. Ok, but ON VACATION?

Ok, on vacation, all of the above plus add some spectacular photo opportunities you get when you are up super early. I had some amazing photo moments of… rising sun, children going to school families having breakfast, street cleaning, washing cloths, praying, meditating… All these things are so private yet fascinating if you want to take a glimpse into other people’s lives. Well, and don’t forget your zoom lens!

On all of my trips, I usually come back with chuck-full-of-photos and travelog entries by the time our group is just waking up.

Here is an example of a 5:00AM photo in Australian Camp during Annapurna trek:
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Lastly, the feeling of being super productive and doing things you enjoy before your job and life in general start making demands for your time – is unbeatable.

What is your favorite time of day? And,do you know any other people that are super early risers? I am curious to learn about their routine.

India and Nepal Adventure – What Have I Learned?

2 Aug

It has been almost a week since I am back home from my grand, 32 day India and Nepal adventure. In this post I will try to asnswer some reflective questions that I, myself, created to help me gain perspective and give you a glimpse into this adventure.

1. What are some of the highlights of this trip?

There are so many! But I think Taj Mahal will always stay with me for it was so GRAND and stately. And I know it’s a real “staple” of Indian culture, however, it was a simmetrical perfection! We were there in a low season so it was not as crowded. I kept thinking: “You have been to TAJ!” How many people can say that? I am lucky, no doubt about it.

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Additionally, thoughout the whole trip, simple people have touched my heart in many ways. A girl standing in the rain, a lady washing her clothes at a monkey temple, an old man reading the newspaper, a young girl feeding a mango to her child, a woman praying… There were so many interesting/intriguing/fascinating photo opportunities! Some photo moments were private but because of my zoom lense, I could stay far away and not interfere with the activities those people were doing. Here are (just some, very few) examples:

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(all these photos are from India)

Bottom line, you can travel to 20 countries, see every single monument, but usually it’s simple people that make your trip all worth it.

2. What are some of the low lights of this trip?

Oh, so many! Logistically, India and Nepal are hard to travel in, with their tourist industry still developing. Overnight train rides were not fun, neither were extreme temperatures! In India we had to wait 1.5 hours for our food to come out. I tried to refrain from whining so I would whine silently to myself. Poverty was a big low point, with people living under bridges, in terrible conditions. No clean water was another one. Lack of opportunity and a fair shot at life – another. Cast system! Children begging on the streets, disabled people trying to get your attention at train stations. Flies! Cow extrement in the middle of the road! Treatment of animals in general!

3. What have I learned from this trip?

Every day I would write in my travel diary how lucky I feel to be an American and to be living in the U.S. I was so proud to say that I am from the United States of America

As a United States citizen we get respect, services, benefits from our government. There is equal opportunity for everyone, a fair shot at life (for the most part). There are laws, regulations and consequences. There is clean water! I can pour a glass of tap water right now and drink it and be ok. We live in a house as big as some embassies in Kathmandu. I can complain and make use of due process. I can make fun of Obama! I can be gay or I can be straight!I can write a blog entry, even though English is not my native language and the blog is bad!  I can take a jog in my neighborhood without stepping into cow feces. I can breathe in a lung full of clean air and I can spend time in the park. My kids can go to school, for free. I can see a doctor any time I feel sick. I have a choice in reagrds to how I want to live my life.

Clearly, my major takeway is being grateful for where I live and for all the amenities I can enjoy on a regular basis. It’s the little things in life that count. Let’s take a moment and thank the Universe for all the things we have, even if it’s tap water.

 

 

First Few Days in India

29 Jun

Today is my third day in India, with twenty seven to go (with Nepal).

My first impression of India is that it’s a very beautiful country with so much culture. In some places dirty, smoky and corrupt, yet the people are amazing. Here are some pictures from my initial days here:

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