Tag Archives: gratitude

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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So stressed…

14 Sep

This Sunday afternoon and…

I was feeling just. So. Stressed.
Continue reading

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Hold every moment sacred…

15 Aug

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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.

 

 

Good Morning from Agra

11 Jul

6AM in Agra, India. Up, face washed, teeth brushed. Horns beeping all over, work day starts. Tuk-tuk rikshaws hustling back and forth, streets become alive.

Phone call to room service gets me a big pot of coffee. Instant but the best one ever. Email check, all good, world is still here.

Grateful to be here, to have the opportunity to travel and get to know this amazing country. A country of extreme contrasts. The country of the kindest people.

Grateful to be on vacation here yet grateful to be a citizen of my own country. Feeling homesick. A sip of coffee. Deep breath.

Browsing through photos. Which one shall I share with the world today?…

Here it is:

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All photos property of Daria Pizzuto

Touching Lives. Making a Difference. Adding Value. Jaiselmer, India.

11 Jul

On this tour we have stayed in a little town called Jaiselmer, smack in the middle of Rajasthani desert. The Golden City is not big but very beautiful (minus the sand dust).

In that hotel there were four young men that worked as “everything” – they cooked, waited tables, cleaned, and fixes the place. So, they did everything and then some. The youngest one was only fourteen years old! And they oldest one was seventeen.

Now, before I go any further, I’d like to clarify what it is to be a white person with platinum blond hair and green eyes in India. People will ask to take a picture with you, they will ask you tons of questions and would want to shake your hand. They will also stare and follow you. You feel like you are a cross between an alien and a celebrity. A lot of local people consider it a privilege to converse with a tourist and especially if he or she invites you to sit down next to them.

On any trip I take, I like to get to know the local people. So, after we have settled down in our hotel, I have started asking questions of the four guys we had working there. I asked about heir hometown, their dreams, what they would want to do with their lives, whether they want to travel… Then I have asked whether I can take some portraits. Here are the portraits that came out:

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When we were taking those portraits their eyes were shining, and the smiles were so broad and grateful! I think tourists rarely pay attention to people like this in addition to the fact that hotel staff are trained to be “invisible”. I could just see the appreciation in their eyes that a foreigner has taken the time to get to know them, ask questions, and be interested in them as human beings. One of the guys liked having his portrait taken so much, he even asked me if I can do it again! And here is the result:

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It is possible that they will remember me for a while – some blond, pale American lady that liked taking pictures and get to know people. And that puts a smile on my face 🙂

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