Photos Of NYC’s Underworld.

24 Dec

Changing Sky

24 Dec

Amazing photographs

Photo Nature Blog

BarnHeaven

Photos Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

The sunset was amazing tonight in Southwest, Michigan. The colors intensified and changed during and after the sun went below the horizon. I was in an agricultural area and found the barn pictured above made for an interesting subject in the foreground.

MichiganSunset

For the next image I found this tangle of trees to look interesting as they stood starkly against the blazing sky…

RedSun

For the final image I combined a man made element of some farm architecture with a grouping of trees as the sky turned a more deep red color.

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Christmas Eve Traditions

24 Dec

Holidays are tough for many people, myself including. My family lives overseas and celebrates their own holidays the Russian way and visiting usually during spring and summer months.Most of my friends are American and have families, so they gather with them. But for me, it’s just A and I and his family in Maine. Usually we visit them but this year we had them come here, to NJ. One thing we do have is space!

Even when we spend it in Maine, I still find time for myself. It is so easy to get caught in the craze of the holiday season and completely forget about your needs by being wrapped up in needs of others…

Christmas time is a time for me to reflect. I tend not to fall into a consumer Christmas insanity but try to pass my time in a way that brings me joy. Some activities include writing in my diary, taking long baths, making hair and face masks, and doing my nails. Also, I found that blogging, reading Dickens Ghost stories and other books that have been put on a back burner, calling or texting friends, and just reflecting in general- has proved to be valuable in beating the loneliness blues.. I reflect on the past year, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and weigh in on lessons I have learned and mountains I’ve conquered. I make mind maps. I get rid of things. I donate and re-gift books that made a difference in my life.  I make wishes on Christmas Eve.

What about you? How do you make Christmas YOUR holiday without being stretched too thin?

Thanksgiving weekend so far…

29 Nov

What a fun long weekend this is ended up being. An and I started celebrating on a Wednesday night when we went out for sushi in the middle of a snow storm. There is something very romantic and special about going out to eat in the snow storm. The restaurant was cozy and food-delicious. I just HAD to wear my hat: wpid-20141126_183956.jpg

After we came back, we watched a movie and I hunkered down in bed with the Alchemist and he continued watching in the den. On Thursday we cleaned the whole house together and it looked awesome. Around 2PM the turkey was ready and we had our Thanksgiving Feast. wpid-20141127_132705.jpg After that, I read for a bit and A was doing his projects on the computer. I also admit that I took a tiny, tiny nap- all that stuff in the turkey has made me tired.

Today we went out shopping-just out of curiosity to see what people are up to and possibly see the insanity of Black Friday. Well, there was NO insanity! Walmart- no one. Target- very few people. AC Moore- zilch. Huh, I thought, perhaps everyone is shopping online these days?

After we came  back, we finally finished my do-it-yourself project – A French Bulletin Board! Here it is, ready and hung: wpid-20141128_151013.jpg What do I have on there, you ask? Ah, well… A bunch of different things. Things that remind me how loved I am, things from friends, family, co-workers. Images of distant place; inspiring, meaningful accomplishments, and relevant quotes that keep me going… Tickets from Yo-Yo Ma concert, scraps of paper with things that I wrote because they resonated with me.

Today I have finished the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. What am amazing, amazing book. One quote has particularly stayed with me: “Before your dream is realized, the Soul of the World has to test everything you have learned on the way thus making that point the most difficult. That is the point when most people give up.” I am totally feeling it now regarding my doctoral program. Next week is when all of my papers are due, plus a final exam. I cannot help but feel helpless yet I know at am at a point when the Universe is testing me- and right after there will be light. And rest. And relief. And victory. How does it go? “The darkest hour of the night is an hour right before the sunrise.” And I ned to keep this in mind. Especially now.

Beyond Family and Food – Five Non-Typical Things I am Thankful for

27 Nov

It has snowed here, in New Jersey, yesterday and our street has been a true winter wonderland.

Thanksgiving. Today is the day when all of a sudden we take time to be grateful for all the awesomeness in our lives. We thank the Universe/God/ the Source/Mother Nature for our families, friends, houses, cars, food, jobs, money, and health.

I am just too busy to count my blessings, and I am the first to admit that. Moreover, when you constantly count your blessings, they stop, well, being so special. Blessings become norm. Things that are norm becomes things that we take for granted. I am not sure what the ultimate time frame is to count your blessings but definitely not every day. I know, it sounds so anti-self-help!

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for five of a very uncommon things:

1. Electricity. Electricity lets me study, write, enjoy movies, speak to friends, stay warm, and explore opportunities. It lets me do my job well, and be a productive student at Seton Hall. Electricity is the bomb. Have a look at some people in India – zero electricity. Definitely something to thankful for.

2. My mother. My mother has always drilled me: I want my daughter to leave this forsaken country (Russia) and go live somewhere in the West (Europe/U.S.). Well, here I am, for many years now, at least 14. And as much as we do NOT get alone with mom, I am thankful for her pushing me to get a better life. She now resents me for leaving Russia and not taking care of her yet I am glad I live far away. I am my own person.

3. Valentina Nefedova. She is my English tutor and the only teacher I had contact with for many years growing up. I was homeschooled since fourth grade yet foreign languages were the only subjects my mom believed in. I resent her for that because when it was time for me to go to college, my gaps in knowledge for other disciplines were tremendous! But, Valentina really had opened my eyes on the subject that I was gifted in the area of foreign languages and that was my absolute strength. I am grateful that such an individual was put into my path while I was little. She helped me, in her own unique way, go out and get a build a better life outside of Russia. She has sewn the first seeds of my “Westernization”.

4. Myself. I am thankful for myself. I appreciate the way I am and cherish all of the decisions, good and bad, that I have made. All the challenges and difficulties I have faced, all the storms I have weathered out, all the obstacles I had to overcome.  I am grateful to myself for being strong. learning from my mistakes, not being afraid to be humble, and persevering in spite of difficulties. I have a long way to go, and there are days when I still crumble and cry and rage yet I always recuperate, dust myself off, and continue on my life quest.

5. United States. I know, I know, let the comments begin. But I love this country. Although an ethnic Russian, born and raised in Russia, I am honored to be able to live, work, vote, own property, travel all over, and even pay taxes here, in the U.S. I am grateful for the ability to use twitter, to have gay friends, to take doctoral courses, to blog freely, to criticize the President, and ask questions of political leaders. I know this country still has SO MUCH work to do yet it has already made such great strides.

Well, here you have it. Now, what are the five non-typical things you are grateful for this Thanksgiving?

Please comment below and have a very happy Thanksgiving!

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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How difficult…

22 Nov

Last September a good friend of mine has suggested that I write to my brother and my mother both, trying to build a bridge. As many of you know, my mother and I do not enjoy a very good relationship. In fact, most if the time, we argue, hate each other and do not see each other’s views.

Over the past few years I have been trying so hard to understand why my mother is so bitter, miserable and angry. I go through good days and bad days but, for the most part, it’s bad. Whenever I call, I have to mentally prepare myself for her spewing anger, guilt tripping and hurtful comments.

This September I have also written to my older brother-hoping to bridge the gap because, let’s be honest, one day mom and dad will pass away. And there only will be two people-him and I. In that letter, I have apologized (although I am not sure for what), explained why mom and I have such a bad relationship, and asked whether we can keep in touch and be civil.

When I called this morning, mom notified me that she had read the letter that was intended for my brother and accused me of judging her parenting techniques and attitudes. Words cannot describe the immense anger and insidious comments how much I suck as a daughter. Well, she sucks as a mother. That letter was never intended for her and shame on my brother for refusing to read it and instead, knowing what terrible relationship my mom and I have, passing it to her. What a coward. A supreme coward.

Bottom line, that relationship with mom and my brother has not been mended. It will not be mended. I have done my part. And I am not sure what else I can do.

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