Sunday, 14 May 2017

There is no key to happiness. There is this book though... Happy as a Dane

I have a terrible habit of judging a book by its cover. Literally. Not metaphorically. When I shop for books, forks or toothbrushes, they have to come in beautiful packaging. This time, I went against my nature (or nurture) and went for a book with the ugliest cover every (sorry publishing house WAB). I so did not enjoy this cover, that I even had to post a picture of this book in black and white. That is due to my lack of tolerance for red (apart from lipsticks). But the cover of this book is hardly the subject of this post. As a matter of fact (after this long and probably unnecessary introduction) it is the contents. The reason why I picked it up from a bookshelf in Poland, whilst visiting mum an dad, was the title - Happy as a Dane

I have visited Copenhagen just over a year ago. Despite minus million Celsius (who goes away in February to a colder country?!), despite the lack of sunshine, despite not knowing what we were doing and where we were going we happened to subconsciously live an extremely Danish week (miss the alcohol poisoning as it turns out). When I got on the underground (being used to the London tube), I was amazed that nobody was rushing! I live an hour away for London and go there rather often. Even if I am there with no specific plan, not having to be anywhere at any particular time, I find myself rushing through the crowd in pursuit to catch the next train. God forbid I miss it as the next one is in.... ONE MINUTE! Such a difference, right?

The short experience of Copenhagen I had was: beautiful spaces, natural materials, people having time, people not being scared to express their opinions, people enjoying little pleasures. Little did I know at the time that the latter was called hyggeling. There was something in that country that attracted me with its serenity and openness. These are exactly the qualities that are being carefully described by Malene Ryndahl. Malene has a distance towards Danes having the label o being happy as she moved out of Denmark at the age of 18. As an immigrant myself, I realise that once we move abroad we happen to realise what we have left behind. Being emerged it it, we do not realise that what we have is not necessarily a norm. Malene investigates the theory of Danes being endlessly happy at the same time. By no means does she serve it on a silver plater. Malene challenges herself and expresses her opinions fearlessly, just like a Dane. 

Malene grew up in a respectful home that was still far from perfect. There was no happy ending but what her parents taught her, were the core values that both her and her brother live by. It turned out that her brother suffered with allergies and asthma and started treating the symptoms by changing his diet. As a result, he opened 42 RAW - a restaurant I have been craving to eat at for months before I went to Copenhagen and it certainly was the first place to visit on my food map. I was sure that it was just ran by an eager veggie with hate for 'normal food'. To my surprise, it was a result of a business that went down and the need to express oneself, have a place in the community.

This is by all means not a self-help book. This in not a recipe for happiness. Malene takes us on a journey with 10 values she believes enable Danish communities to be happy. However, one does not have to be Danish to live by them. Regardless of nationality, you can be happy. The truth is that happiness lies in ourselves. Not in our partners, belongings, bank accounts. My parents also taught me something 'Danish'. Focus on what you have, not on what you do not have.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Life- Changing Magic of Not giving a F**k

Do not be mislead by the title. Life is not actually about being careless and inconsiderate. Quite the opposite. The 200 pages that you are possibly going to enjoy are nothing but an eye-opener on how ridiculously careful and considerate we should be with regards to what we choose to spend our resources on. The focus, for a change, is ourselves. Do you remember that wonderful, inspiring, relaxed and content person- YOU? If you are reading this review, you probably have forgotten that person ever existed. Worry not, there is a way to redesign your life by using 'The surprising art of caring less and getting more'.

Being tempted by the minimalistic design of the cover (yes, I just did judge the book by its’ cover) I have treated myself to this book and decided to take it on a plane trip. As an extremely overbooked person trying to please everyone around me, the only reading time I manage to arrange is on the plane, train or any other more or less glamorous means of transport. Sipping on my Benugo flat white whilst munching on a nut bar, I have bravely decided to make the first step to de-clutter my life. After all, it was the last day of April and I was going on my first holiday since the previous October. That itself was a reason good enough to spend £10.99 on this publication with a slightly controversial title.

Having located my gate I went for it. Ready like never before. Page one, here we come! From that moment it was just Sarah and I(sorry aircrew for ignoring you shamelessly). I was catching a 2 hour flight and before my journey finished, I was more than half way through. I was ready to stay on the plane for another journey just to finish it off. I did not care where that plane was heading from my destination. The feeling I got was similar to the one that any runner gets when they cross a finish line beating their PB and the run was so enjoyable they feel they could do it all over again (I know, not a popular feeling!). In order to finish it off, I have actually arranged to cheat on my close ones for a couple of hours during the day so that I could return to Sarah. If it was not for the fact that I was on holiday I would probably call in sick (sorry boss).

Let me be clear - this is not a classic self-help book. Although if you picked it up, you probably need help. Well done for admitting it - that is the first step! Spending time you do not have doing things you do not want to do with people you do not like? Sounds familiar? Add spending money you do not have (hallelujah for interest-free balance transfers) on things you do not need. The common reason why we do it (on condition that we are nice people) is because we care. The issue that causes chronic unhappiness, however, is because we care about everyone around but US. Shifting your focus to your slightly more selfish self without harming others is a challenge to begin with. It is a skill and like any skills it can be learned. And the method Sarah suggests is the NotSorry Method (try to comprehend that dear British people). Imagine a world where you do not need to feel sorry as a result of your poorly-made decisions and all the ‘yeses’ you have thoughtlessly verbalised.

TLCMoNGF should be on your coffee table by now if you are the annoying (yes, simply annoying!) person who says ‘yes, sure’ when it means ‘absolutely no chance’. Stop using ‘I’ll let you know if I can make it’ as a euphemism for a good old and not so popular anymore NO. It is fine, we are adults that are allowed to make our own decisions, remember? We do it all day for a living in a workplace. It is perfectly OK to say NO. Quite liberating as well. Do you not believe me? Believe Sarah. After all she has also KonMaried her sock drawer as a seating point!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Not-a-love story to fall in love with

Being a helpless romantic (at peak of my helpless romanticism) I could not help but attend the preview of a rather loud production featuring the most desired Canadian blond man (sorry Justin), Ryan Gosling himself. Of course I am talking about La La Land. Quite selfishly, I purchased one ticket. First, I wanted to have this sequence of beautiful scenes peppered with music all to myself. Second, I felt it may be way too intimate to share. Rightly so as I sobbed shamefully for the duration of the last song (to unhidden disguist of the man sat next to me who was in tears as he reached the bottom oh his red wine glass).

If you have not made any resolutions for 2017, I suggest you make an unaccompanied trip to the cinema. Yes, you might receive an odd look from the couple behind you. Resolution number two in such case would be to practice ignoring what other people think. It's deeply inrrelevant. Forget yourself, dream, soak the beautiful colours and sound in! Imagine yourself tap dancing with Ryan Gosling whilst looking at a sunrise over LA. Why? Because you can!

Thank you, Damien Chazelle for picturing this love story stripped of a happy end in such a unique manner. However, your illustration of 'what if' is truly frightening! It is rather disturbing how different your future could be if you made one different choice five years back. If you chose to love yourself a bit more. If you had half of the faith in you that other people had. If you loved jazz enough. And old movies where women were true heroines. Dear Damien, you throw that 'what if' in our open-mouthed faces without a warning. If it wasn't for Emma and Ryan's comforting exchange of smiles at the end, I think I would have given up on the whole idea of trying!

Following my intimate trip to the cinema, I immediately found comfort in the wonder of modern technology or just the reality of everyday life (depends on your age) - Apple Music. With a few taps of my fingers I effortlessly managed to stay in La La Land. On my 15-minute walk home I ended up tap dancing (in a rather poor manner) on every red light. La La Land has welcomed me with open arms. And that's where I am intending to stay for the foreseeable future. DND. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The art of missing oneself.

Have you ever reached a point in your life when you realised that you actually missed yourself? Not the person that you are now. The person that you used to be a couple of years back. Seemingly, it is the same you but equipped with a machine gun shooting sarcasm, pockets full of scepticism and sprinkling lack of belief on your morning toast. How did I get here? If you have read any other post on this blog the answer is simple - I fell in love. It was mesmerising, exciting, respectful and hear-warming. Just before it turned heart-breaking.

At some point in my life, in September 2013 to be precise, I had it all. I had a decent job, a bank account with savings, a relatively new car, my first house and much more important things. A loving partner in crime, who always listened to what I had to say (even if it took hours to express). He also was not scared to hold me close when sharing his stories. He had black coffee, I had white. He was a night owl, I was an early bird. He was chilled-out, I was constantly on the go. One could say that the only thing we had in common was the passion for red wine and peanut butter. I even called him Peanut. He thought that it was due to the shape of his head. But it was not.

Last weekend I attended a beautiful ceremony filled with family love, warmth, closeness and joy - a wedding of my best friend in Poland. It was a beautiful moment accompanied by many sincere smiles, bride selfies and dancing until 4 am. I was watching people at this wedding. If you are invited to attend these beautiful parties, you know that they can be a source of stomach spasms for single people (so why are you still single? My son has a good job and speaks English. Maybe I will introduce you...). This one was not. However, as I became slightly sadistic in my own head, I couldn't help but wonder: will I ever be the person I used to be? Is it possible to be completely happy and careless again on my own?

Break-ups are hard. You fight over your favourite jumper he once owned. There is the difficult conversations with your mutual friends. The gap that suddenly occurs when you are eating breakfast on your own. But it is not just the external circumstances that change. It is the inside of yourself that suddenly shrinks and fits back into the little shell you just came out of. I watched all these couples at the wedding (as I was one of the two men-less girls at the party) and I could not help being jealous about how free and carelessly people behave when they are connected to another human being by that tiny glittery golden thread sparkling joy called 'love'. People say that relationships limit them. Oh how wrong you are (or you are dating the wrong people). Relationships set us free.

Being in a relationship is just like having a safety net beneath you at all times. If you fall, there is someone there to make sure that you do not hit the ground. Hence the feeling of being scared becoming a distant memory. You march across the world feeling confident, knowing that you do not need to be perfect. Those imperfections make the bond even stronger. And then, suddenly, the safety net is gone. You start watching every step. You introduce routines to not lose control over what you have got left. Probably to an extent that makes your friends diagnose you with OCD (and rightly so).

I want myself back. I miss myself. The naturally careless, awfully imperfect, Noble-worthy clumsy and permanently undecided self.

Monday, 10 October 2016

First world problem: The body suit.

Previously used to show off the bony bits, now used to hide the curvy bits. Either way, a kind of a love of my life, the body suit.

If you do not own one of these right now, I suggest that you purchase yourself a body suit immediately, if not sooner!

-smooths out the imperfections
-makes you boobs look amazing (even if it is a turtle-neck one... please do not ask me why!)
-stays tucked into your jeans/trousers/skirt without the need to perform a weird dance of tucking it back in
-feels... comforting. Is it something we remember from being a baby?
-no need for underwear! bonus!

As magical as this sounds, we all know that things are too good to be true when they truly are to good to be true. As much as I am a fan of body suits, I must admit that the tend to come with a flaw. A major one. I am going to say (write) it out loud - the bathroom situation.

Looking better than ever, you purchase this wonderful piece of clothing and decide to show it off for the first time in its most natural habitat - on a night out. The gals arrive, the conversation is flowing as well as the liquor, you are feeling that you are your most fabulous self! Do you also know that feeling? Yes, I am on top of the world! The cute guy in the corner is checking me out. Naturally, I pretend that I do not notice and play hard to get. My attention being hard to get, of course.

Around midnight (unlike Cinderella) you hit the moment when you have to say 'please excuse me' (or more likely (less lady-like) 'I'm off for a wee wee') and head toward the ginormous queue pouring out of the ladies. Minutes turn into hours but you are managing to keep your face and your eyebrows straight. There you are, at the front. Now minutes are centuries. Open pop the door. You are in girl! Right, zip undone, button undone and you are ready to rock and roll. But are you? Body suit! We all know where things click together. Feeling desperate, you just pull and the 'click' sound brings you the feeling of relief. Sadly, it is time to click it back together.

Cave women may have had no difficulties (and no body suits). Modern women, however, tend to fake a lot, including their nails. Have you ever dropped a penny? It must have been a woman who invented the pound coin. Anything else is not worth the struggle of picking it up with fake nails! Popping the two inseparable pieces of the bodysuit together after a few drinks in a narrow loo with 5-inch heels on is something that even Tom Cruise surrounded by lasers in Mission Impossible would not master! First, you should have listened to your yoga teacher and actually do yoga as opposed to loving the idea of it. Second, the fake nails suddenly seem to be your worst enemy. Most importantly, the fear of falling over and touching the loo floor or walls - beyond disgusting. Balancing somewhere between your crotch and humiliation, you suddenly feel the self-esteem going out of the window. Or being flushed down the toilet, due to the lack of windows. You suddenly feel sorry for olympic gymnasts as that is all they ever wear! And the pressure is on! Remaining calm and only breaking a miniscule bit of a sweat, you manage to straighten your crown and return to the party. If only they knew what happened behind the closed door... 'Did you want another  drink?' 'No, thanks', comes out of your mouth before you think twice.