Tag Archives: appreciation

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?

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!

Practice What You Preach

19 Oct

As you may know, I work with myself continuously on becoming a better person: more compassionate, accepting, loving, and grateful. I try to consciously spread love around, even if the objects do not display any love towards me (rude drivers, nasty sales people, people knocking o my door to involve me in their religion, etc.). Sometimes I slip into “I just want to let those people know exactly what I think about them!!! [insert angry face here].

This morning, I had an opportunity to practice what I preach (compassion, acceptance, love, and understanding). Continue reading

Feel bad about your life? Travel to India.

11 Jul

Today is my fourteenth day in India with around seven days to go. I have been journaling on a regular basis yet the internet connection has been so slow I couldn’t post anything!

So far we have visited Bikaner, Jaiselmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaipur and now we are in Agra for two days.

My observation of India has been mixed. I love some parts of it (it’s people and its’ history and culture) and dislike other parts of it (poverty, segregation, pollution).

On our way from New Delhi to Bikaner (via 8hour train ride) we have passed by some unbelievable slums. And those are not even the worst ones. In India, you will find people living under scorching sun, under bridges, in makeshift houses. These houses are pretty much a piece of cloth that is supported by four bamboo sticks. Some people live on less than one dollar (!) a day.

I have taken some photos of the slums to share with you.

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I have asked my tour members to remind me to look at these photos anytime I am complaining about United States and how miserable my life is.

I am grateful for so many things that we so often take for granted:
Clean water, electricity, free education, clean air, nice roads and highways, garbage collection, a government that uses our a taxes to fix things and provide a safe, pleasant environment for us to live. Don’t get me wrong, things are not perfect in the U.S. yet when you compare the life style to some people in India, my heart fills with gratitude that I am an American.

The Gratitude Chain – Join Me!

6 May

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Today, let us be grateful for the little things. I am grateful for the sunshine, for the cool breeze, for clean water, and for a tasty cup of coffee this morning. I am grateful for my job that gives me plenty of income; for my doctoral program that expands my mind and opens doors for me; for the unconditional love of my husband. I feel truly blessed having found the field that I enjoy and for having a purpose in life.

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Now, it is your turn! What are some of the little (or big) things you are thankful for? Please leave a comment below. Let’s keep this grateful energy flowing! 🙂

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Yes, you are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Peace of mind. That is all you really need, no?…

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I am radiating some positive vibes this morning. Can you feel them? 🙂

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Love yourself, cherish yourself, take good care of yourself, listen to yourself, appreciate yourself.

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I couldn’t have put it better myself! By taking that first step, you are already ahead of everyone else, who is not taking that step.

Thankful on a Tuesday night

27 Nov

Thank you for allowing me to enjoy this day. Thank you for both victories and challenges that were presented to me on this day. Thank you for all the people that crossed my path today. Thank you for the opportunity to touch their lives one way or the other. Thank you for a new book. Thank you for the warm, cozy dinner, a movie, and loving conversation. Thank you for my friends. Thank you for a warm, fast car that gets me to any place I wish to go. Thank you for my cozy winter boots and a scarf that keep me warm. Thank you for the awareness that I experience every day.

I am alive, I am well, I love, and I am loved. It was a great day.

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“Fall”ing…

27 Oct

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