Dear huggers,

Can there be anything more harmonious than a hug? When two bodies come together for a hug, they each give up a little bit of themselves to the person they’re hugging, and receive in return a piece of that person back. The heads are in harmony, one to the left, one to the right. The arms are in harmony, some up, some down. The smiles are in harmony, both uplifting. And the breath and the heartbeat will come to be in harmony, if the hug is long enough. 

The only unharmonious thing about hugs is the end. There’s always someone who wants to linger a little longer, and someone who wants to pull out first. Which one are you?

Dear Rain,

I guess it takes one living in a tropical climate to appreciate you. Vancouver, to be precise. Where you visit almost on a daily basis for about nine months out of the year. 

And while you bring on umbrellas and wellies, and rainproof apparel, you also bring clean air and dark green living vegetation everywhere. And when in May you finally stop to show up on a daily basis, you bring beautifully coloured flowers that smell amazing.

I learnt how to love you, eventually.

Oh, hummingbird

One moment she’s here, then next she’s somewhere else

Now she’s frozen in mid-air

Then flying away

The most elegant of movements

Now you see her, now you don’t

Hummingbird and strelitzia flower

Both colourful, both aiming for the sky

One free, one connected to the earth but wishing to be free

Dance like Nobody’s Watching

Enough about this whole pleasing everybody. Enough of Instagram and the rest of social media. Enough of being so self-conscious that you can’t even enjoy being you anymore.

Allow yourself to be you. I said to my partner the other day that I am most me when I’m with him. And then we started dancing in the kitchen to some imaginary tune. And I thought to myself ‘Dance like nobody’s watching.’ But apparently he thought to himself ‘Sing like nobody’s listening.’ And the magic was gone. Sorry, babe, a singing voice you do not have. Let’s just stick to dancing, alright?

The Wonder of Your Being

It is the wonder of your being

That holds my heart.

 

It is the wonder of your being

That makes me smile.

 

It is the memory of your being

That carries me through my away-from-you days.

 

You being is a wonder,

Your being is a wonder,

Being yours is a wonder.

 

Two souls, apart, but coming together.

Two hearts, different, but connecting.

Two minds, curious, about each other.

Two bodies, intertwined, to make one.

 

The wonder of you,

And the fortitude of me having met you.

Dear mother,

When I was a child,

my mother told me,

Anca, don’t be afraid

to let go of my hand

and go play with other kids.

 

When I finished high-school,

my mother told me,

Anca, don’t be afraid

to leave your hometown

and find a life for you out there, not in here.

 

When I became an adult,

my mother told me,

Anca, don’t be afraid

to live your own life,

to carve your own path,

to build your own reality.

 

My mother always told me,

Anca, don’t be afraid.

 

Dear mother, I am finally unafraid.

 

My dear family,

I have been feeling very grateful lately. When I realised that, only this year alone, I have been (and sunbathed and swam) to ten different beaches across Europe. I proudly display a nice tan that I’m trying hard to maintain by either not showering on a daily basis or by lying in the sunny bits of my flat during the day, until sunset.

How fortunate am I to have had three different summer holidays, to have been to Portugal, Croatia and Greece this summer, to have join my sisters and their families there, and to have spent endless days of summer walking in the sand, swimming in the sea and eating gorgeous food? I am grateful for the love I keep finding in my sisters and my niece and nephews, the unconditional love when they come running to me when they first see me after a while. I am grateful that I can re-connect and re-integrate into the lives of my sisters so seamlessly every single time we see each other, even if it’s been a year. I am grateful that they want to spend time with me and make some sacrifices to be with me, come pick me up from weird airports (or bus or train stations) around Europe. I am grateful that I now live closer to them and I can afford to take a short flight to meet them somewhere in Europe. I am grateful that the novelty of seeing one another never wears off. I am grateful for all the long hugs and deep love I feel whenever we see each other. I am grateful for the calls and the messages and the photos. And most of all, the love.

I didn’t mean to count the beaches I’ve been to this year. It’s not the beaches. It’s the quantity and quality of love I receive when I’m around, especially after being away for so long. This year marked my 14th anniversary of being away from my home country, but the connection I have with my family there has never been stronger. It’s not the miles, it’s the feelings. And the feeling is definitely love.

While it’s difficult to say it in front of them, either when we first see each other after a long time, or when we say goodbye until next time, I do love each and every one of them deeply and cannot imagine my life without these wonderful connections that we call relatives. I am grateful for all of you and cannot wait to see you at Christmas, this time at home!

Love always,

Bambi

Dear Europe,

So, I’m back. Back home, sort of. Back to Europe after more than eleven years spent in Canada, half on the East coast in Montreal, and half on the West coast, in Vancouver. It gave me a very balanced view of Canada, I must admit.

But I am back to Europe now. For good or for a while, I don’t really know myself. I doubt that I will ever move back to Canada again, but then again, life has taught me a valuable lesson so far: never say never.

I came back to Europe because I missed the European culture, the short distances to travel to discover different people, different histories, different foods. I missed the 2-hour flights between my home and “home” (Sibiu).

My home base is currently London where I intend to spend some time and get to know this beautiful and vibrant city. I must find a job first, but before that, I must apply for that NIN special number that magically allows you to work and get paid in the UK. And then have a bank account to get paid into, which seems to be, so far, an insurmountable hurdle, due to missing proof of address for now. I did have some small victories along the way: the travel Oyster card, the library card, a UK mobile phone number, and a few replies to my frantic job searching efforts.

But dear Europe, you could have been a little bit more welcoming at Gatwick Airport (I had to drag my three suitcases by myself from one end of the airport to another, just because I didn’t have a coin to fit into the luggage carriers …). And dear London, you could also have been a little bit more welcoming and not stage an underground strike on exactly the day I was flying out to Sibiu. Welcome to Europe and to the possibility of a strike at any time!

Europe is diverse and different from one country to another, from one region to another. London is not the same in Harrow and Central London or Farnborough (some might argue that Farnborough is not even London). There are different people, different sorts of cars and roads and stores, but essentially, Europe has changed in the past decade and I am excited to start discovering it again. I will probably complain a bit about people driving on the wrong side of the road (yes, there is a reason for driving on the right side, because it’s the “right” side, no?), and also be a bit frustrated about learning (once again) new English words (such as pants and chips, which mean a completely different thing in England than in North America). I also might complain a bit about the high cost of living, although I should have been used to it by now, having lived in one of the most expensive cities in Canada for the past 5 years. Once I start work, I will probably complain a lot about spending hours in transit, because I won’t be able to afford living within walking distance from work anymore. And so many other things to complain about, like weather, and new coins to learn, and no friends close by, BUT, and this is the important part, I want to do this and I will put all my efforts into making it work somehow. I know that the pieces will eventually start to fall into place, one after another, maybe a job, then a few outings with colleagues, then becoming friends, then a bit of weekend travel to Amsterdam or Bruges, then a date in a museum or a bookstore, then a walk while it snows just in time for Christmas. And everything will come together nicely in this new life I’ve chosen for myself.

So, dear Europe, I am back home now. Be gentle and offer me all the opportunities I’ve dreamt about from the other side of the world. And let me enjoy it immensely.

As always, with love,

Anca

Dear Isabel and Katharine,

I guess your personality test was right. I’m INFJ – Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging. Apparently, we are known to be great listeners, big dreamers, and deep, complex people. As the rarest personality type, INFJs only make up less than 3% of the population. I like being special. Here are some of the signs of a classic INFJ with my own twist to it. My friends will recognize me in these descriptions, I’m certain.

1. I’m always in search of a deeper meaning. At work, in relationships, with friends, and interactions with strangers I’m continually looking at life and situations in an obscure way to discover what’s beyond the surface. I thought everybody did that. Silly me.

2. Although people have an easy time connecting with me, sometimes I can be a difficult person to really know. I value my privacy and often feel like I can only be my “true self” around those closest to me. That’s why, throughout my life, I’ve always chosen best friends to confide in. It’s a very select club. Again, I thought everybody had that.

3. I’m a highly empathetic and sensitive person with an innate ability to understand what people are going through. My care and concern for others is always genuine and I feel deeply for others. Yes, empathy has always been a characteristic of mine.

4. I find it easy to connect with others and exhibit both introvert and extrovert qualities. I love meeting and interacting with other people and at times I can be the life of the party, but eventually I have to go home and recharge. I like both being with people and being with myself.

5. Even beyond high school or college, I still enjoy learning, particularly about society, other cultures, languages, people, literature, and art. I’m always excited to learn something new and find my interests are expanding as I’m getting older. I guess I’m a traveler at heart.

6. I strive for the ideal in every aspect of my life. But my ideal could be different that most people’s. I have very strong opinions and I am driven by my values. I will absolutely fight for what I believe in.

7. I’m a complex person but at the same time I also tend to live a very simple life. It really doesn’t take very much to make me feel happy and content with my life. Those who know me can vouch to that. I see things on a larger scale and put more emphasis on my relationships with friends and loved ones over possessions or money.

8. I have a strong sense of idealism but I’m not simply just another dreamer. I realize and understand my goals can have a lasting impact and so I take the necessary steps to make my dreams happen. My dreams can be crazy, but they are dreams nonetheless.

9. The true measure of success to me is based on the condition of my relationships with others and my own level of accomplishment.

10. My insight is one of my greatest assets and it regularly helps me solve problems. I notice the small details most people seem to overlook. By being able to find patterns and meanings in the world around me, I’m able to look at a problem in a number of ways and generate various possibilities. I guess that’s why I chose to do what I do.

11. I find joy and fulfillment out of expressing myself through the arts. I have a talent for language and writing. Self-expression helps me release everything that’s going on in my head. This blog is the proof of that.

So I guess I just wanted to say thank you for putting together such an accurate personality test and helping me getting to know myself a bit better.

Hey there, 2015!

So it’s time for another list of resolutions! I let myself be inspired by the internet and here’s what I came up with.
1. Go back to Moksha yoga (now that I have a pass again).
2. Shut off Netflix by 11 pm. And the computer too. And read something for pleasure every night.
3. Flirt.
4. Travel. Get a new stamp in my passport. Go to Mexico for my birthday in February, then maybe visit Montreal before moving to London later this year.
5. Say ‘no’ sometimes. To more work. To outings with friends. To helping others.
6. Dance.
7. Run, swim, exercise – at least once a week. (Yoga does not count here, it has its own resolution this year.)
8. Allow yourself to be loved. Invite love in your life. Make room for a life partner.
9. Try a new bold haircut, maybe bangs. It’ll grow back! (Maybe the one I pinned from Katie Holmes.)
10. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
11. Use my credit cards for emergencies only by removing them from my purse or wallet. Only spend whatever cash I have on me.
12. Do more of what I enjoy doing: knitting, reading, writing, listening to music, dancing, driving.
13. De-clutter my home and my life: give away clothes, shoes I don’t use anymore, and extra anything. Scan all paperwork, and donate all the stuff that I don’t use and give it to someone who will use it.
14. Make more soups. (I haven’t given up on my idea of a soup truck.)
15. Eat with the season.
16. Figure out a top two list of qualities I couldn’t live without in a life partner. One is for sure being smart.
17. I won’t hang out with people I don’t like. And I will hang out more with people I actually like.