Life

On birthdays, friends and family

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Today is one of my favourite days of the year. My birthday. Which normally makes me feel sad, but lately I’ve come across a new found sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that make me actually happy to be getting older (to be honest, I would not mind staying in my 30s forever, like in a look, but then again I might be saying the same when I’m in my 40s…)

All in all, life is good. But it’s hard. Not real-problems-hard (this is a category saved for the only issues one really needs to worry about like health or serious financial problems that can impact the wellbeing of one’s family), but I’m-too-stressed-to-think-straight hard. Or stress-makes-me-cry-every-night hard. I was in that place a few weeks back due to a few work-related mishaps that were not really mishaps but I was so stressed they might turn into mishaps that I couldn’t stop thinking about them for almost a month. It was the first time I saw myself like that and I was shocked mostly because I thought I would never be the person who loses their sleep over work. Again, I don’t think anyone should lose their sleep over work. Except for surgeons or lawyers/judges involved in death row/life sentence cases. Because in everyone else’s case, NOONE dies. Noone will get hurt or even fired if I don’t do my job well (except for…me). This is something I had to repeat to myself like a mantra in order to be able to keep things in perspective. In the end, I did my job well and delivered the desired results. But the process left me in shambles.

So, as today I’m getting older (and presumably wiser), I’m looking at what kept me sane during this difficult period (and promise to try to amplify it from now on): it was hands down my friends and family. There is nothing else in this life that will save us from the worst version of ourselves than friends and family. My partner’s support during these difficult weeks was beyond anything I could ever imagine or hope for.  My mom’s tough love made me remember that at the end of the day I’m first and foremost me, not a lawyer, not an employee or a colleague, but me, a human being with needs and sensitivities, a good person who is trying to do their best. And this should be enough to not go crazy over work stuff. I was able to open up my heart to my friends and they filled it with warmth and love and their stories of anxiety for ridiculous reasons or work-related stress that never made them better or more productive.

I’m a very sensitive person and a pessimist by nature. I’m one of these people that think that life before was definitely better than life right now – easier, fuller, more fun. I complain a lot about many different things.I miss a lot of people who are not in my life any more. (Like really miss them. Like feeling a twinge in my chest sometimes when I think about them or see a picture of them. Like this morning. I hate Facebook’s memory lane. It’s the worst.) I tend to linger and get stuck in the past (I’m a caner anyway, what did you expect???).

BUT

I have a great family. I have friends who care for me. My partner is my friend and my family. And I couldn’t be more thankful. I’m looking at this new year in my life starting today and I couldn’t feel more mature and ready to face life and take it as it comes!!!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Life · Miscellaneous and interesting

Checking in

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Source: unsplash.com

A month passed between my last blog post and today – a full month, 31 days, maybe 32, I’m not sure any more to be honest. I was so busy at work that I didn’t have time to think, let alone travel, eat at fancy restaurants, go to cute cafés or take pictures. And the few fun things I did, I rarely thought to capture on camera.

But I’m back!!! Not that work is less or that I have more time, but I do have a reinvigorated will to do more things. I’ve started volunteering! I’m looking for new fun stuff to learn on Coursera. I’m flying to Venice this weekend! I’m planning the concerts I’m seeing at Werchter this summer! There are a million exciting things happening and although time going by is the thing that stresses me the most in this life, I just can’t wait!!!

Leaving you with a tune today – I hope you are all happy and healthy, preparing for a great long May 1st weekend (or not-it really does not matter as long as you are happy and healthy!!)

Travel

Things to do before boarding a plane to the other side of the world

Tomorrow sees the start of a new week and myself on a plane to my adopted city of choice – San Francisco. I’ve ended up having to travel to SF almost twice per year since I got my job in August 2015 with this amazing company that has its HQ there. I had been to the US twice before then, so I did know a thing or two about getting ready for long-haul trips (and waiting time in airports) however I really feel now that I’m starting mastering the art of getting ready -both physically and emotionally- for the huge shock that is translatlantic travel.

Union Square, here I come (again!)

 

So here we go in no particular order, I’m just writing down these things as I’m actually doing them today:

  1. Take your time : My flight is on Monday, so I’ve spent the better part of my weekend doing the things on this list. Taking your time is important when preparing for such a long trip, there is no way getting away with waking up an hour in advance and throwing stuff in your hang luggage hoping you haven’t forgotten everything! Even if you are the most well-prepared person on earth, I would strongly advise packing the night before so in the morning the only thing you have to throw in your carry-on is your toothbrush. Otherwise let me assure you that you will reach your destination sans underwear (no, no, it’s never happened to me).
  2. Make sure all your tickets, visas, check-in’s, etc. are in order: If you require a visa for the country of your destination I’m sure that you’ll have already gone through quite a procedure in order to get it, so I’m not too worried that you’ll forget. However, if you only have ESTA to worry about (like Greeks do for the US), it is pretty easy that you forget that you need it (or that it has expired without you noticing – almost happened to me the last time). The best strategy is to check right after you book your tickets, this way you will have plenty of time to organize yourselves and follow any procedural steps in case your papers are not valid any more.
  3. Do laundry: It’s kind of a super mundane task but to me is equally important is bringing all my chargers and adapters with me!! I spent my Saturday and Sunday doing laundry and ironing because going off to a work trip means that I want to have as much of my “work wardrobe” available to me as possible. There is nothing worse when packing for a week full of work meetings and realising that your go-to white button down has this tomato sauce stain still on!
  4. Think hard of what you need with you on the plane and pack smart: I’m thinking books/magazines, snacks and bottle of water here, as well as a few cosmetics you need with you on the plane. I have to admit I looooove flying long-haul. It’s the only time I really get 10 hours to myself, no email, no phone, no way for anyone to reach you or annoy you. It’s the best time to catch up on reading, and that’s very much what I intend to do in the plane tomorrow 🙂 I am also going to prepare a sandwich with healthy stuff I have at home as well as get my Hidrate Spark bottle with me to make sure that I don’t feel hungry or thirsty at the airport or on the plane. Remember: it will be a long day, you need to treat yourself a little bit!
  5. Download the Netflix app: It often happens to me that I’m traveling in planes without individual screens for every passenger, meaning I have to put up with two hours of StarWars, two hours of the Mupper Show, and another 6 hourse of American reality television. I’ve nothing against these entertainment choices, however the one after the other can drive me to an overdose of boredom and anxiety, that’s why I was so doped when Netflix announced we can now download stuff on our phones and tablets. I still haven’t watched The Get Down and I’m totally planning on doing so at this trip!!
  6. Choose your outfit for the plane: Again, this is something I never leave to the last minute. I’ve made too many mistakes in the past and ended up wearing too tight jeans, too short skirts or extremely uncomfortable shoes for 15 hours. This time I’m going with an oversized pair of jeans, my trusted black sweater and my beloved over sized scarf to keep me warm. Wearing a pair of VANS trainers to keep my shoe game comfortable as well. #win
  7. Have your documents ready: Needless to say you can go nowhere without your passport, so make sure it is the first thing you put in your purse. I also always have with me foreign currency and a public transport card/ticket. I usually keep these items in a separate bag so I can always find them quick and neat.

    Little pink wallet from Narciso Rodriguez, purse from YNot?

So, wish me luck for my big trip tomorrow. And let me know what tips you have for before boarding long-haul flights!!! xx

Life

How to stop stressing out about work

I was recently thinking about the stress caused by our work situation, something totally uncool and non-worthlivinit, but something I see all my friends trying to cope with on a daily basis.

It can be that work is too much or that work is not enough, or that there is no work at all. That the clients are too demanding, the boss totally unhelpful and the colleagues trying to step over your dead body. Deadlines, performance reviews, presentations to the board, salary cuts. All these paint a very bleak picture of how today’s working youth is looking at its work life.

I don’t think my parents ever experienced the kind of stress I and my peers live through every day. Of course there was no global crisis tormenting the economy and Greece was going through its golden age of modern times, but I think it wasn’t just that. It was also a different mentality. Of course they wanted me to want to have a job and be happy with my job and have a job that pays the bills (but doesn’t necessarily make you rich), an important job (so I can use all my skills, diplomas, foreign languages etc) and most of all a job that I enjoy and don’t lose my sleep over. I don’t believe my mom was ever stressed about her job to the extent she snapped out at my dad or had nightmares for three nights in a row. I, on the other hand, have been THAT stressed (I’m actually going through such a period right now, that’s how I thought of writing this post). I never remembered my dad complaining of stress (my dad is a lawyer, a job I find super stressful because other people’s well-being depends on you-even if that well-being is get out of paying a parking ticket). I, on the other hand, complain ALL THE TIME, when I’m stressed at work. I show signs of depression, I refuse to get out of bed in the morning, my tasks look like an endless list of challenges and I feel I’m drowning.

NOT COOL AT ALL.

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So I’ve developed a few tricks over the years to try and calm myself down whenever I’m going through a phase like this:

1. Put things into perspective: There are so many things in this life that are pure SH*T. Like war, illness, death and loss. None of these are caused by not performing well at work though (unless you’re Obama). Things will get harder in life. If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family, then things are about to get worse in some years from now. I know it sounds morbid and totally bleak, but that’s how it is: you’re bound to feel great pain from the loss or suffering of people close to you. And this is just one of the things that might go wrong. So stop it. Stop delving into stress without any particular reason, other than “my project is crap”. Stop feeling like work is the only thing that validates you and that it is worth losing your sleep over it. Stop thinking that your PowerPoint presentation will make it or break it for you. Instead, think of all the great things that make your life #worthlivinit, of the people you love and of all the great things you have achieved so far. Every time I was stressed before an exam, a test, a difficult day at work, a big presentation etc. I would always complain to my mom: “Mom, I just want tomorrow/next week/next month to be over.” It will”, she would answer, “it most definitely will. 30 years (i.e. my age) have gone by and they have been good. Don’t you think another day/week/month will go by as well?” I always found this phrase so wise and liberating and I always have it in mind every time a challenge shows its face at work.

2. Share your troubles: Talk, take it out, don’t feel you’re burdening people, you’re not. To the contrary, you’re actually opening your heart and mind to them, which is therapeutic for several reasons: It helps you take the burden off your chest, it helps you realize how ridiculous it might (or might not) sound and get a perspective that you probably hadn’t thought about before. If nothing else, it helps you get out of the house, have a drink and catch up with a friend you hadn’t seen in a while.

3. Meditate: Don’t roll your eyes and stay with me for a second here. It is extremely difficult to start meditating if you’ve never done it before, and I have first hand experience with this because after several months, I’m still trying! The 20 minutes per day that most people advise are a far away dream for me, however, even starting with 4-5 minutes will make a huge difference. I first thought about meditating to make myself sleep at night as I often find myself looking at the ceiling 2 hours after I laid in bed. You can find many tips online as to how to meditate, but I got my first cues from Arianna Huffington’s Thrive.

4. Get help: If you feel that the stress is getting worse and worse every day and that none of the usual tricks will do it for you, ask for help. Professional help. Go online and search the name of a good helpline that works on the issues that worry you. Call them. It’s a great first step in your path to feel better.

Life

#LoveIsLove

Yes, this article is about Orlando. And I hope you’re not tired from reading too many articles about Orlando in the days since the shooting, because the horror was really so big that there are not enough words to fight back.

The one and only thing that makes this life #worthlivinit is love. Love for your family, for your partner, for the animals, for the planet, for your job, for yourself. Love is one thing, it covers all aspects of one’s personality. If you’re a person capable of love, you can’t be selective. You can’t be dismissive. You can’t be racist, homophobic, a misogynist, a torturer of animals, a murderer. You can prefer certain things over others, sure, but you can’t be a loving person if you set limits to your love. Love is unconditional and one. It’s our purpose on this earth.

I won’t go into analysing the actions or beliefs of the person that caused all this pain in Orlando. I won’t go into the anti-gun discussion either (although I very strongly believe that U.S. gun laws need to change like yesterday). I won’t say that acts of terrorism don’t scare me and I won’t pretend to lead my life as usual after what happened in Paris, Brussels, Orlando, Istanbul, Tel Aviv and so many other places around the globe.

What I will do though is continue loving. I will continue dismissing all the hate talk that wants to separate us according to our colour, shape, religion or desires. ‘Cause only love can save this world.

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Picture taken at yesterday’s gathering in Brussels in memory of the Orlando victims. Credit: Ancienne Belgique