Joy of learning. Get out of your comfort zone!

Nobody says that with a positive attitude you would encounter only positive things on your path, but your perception of them will certainly change. Let’s say you are going through discomforting adjustments in your life, or your everyday order is changing in the way you didn’t expect in to… Maybe you lost your friend or a job or money? Maybe you didn’t get a job, or someone you really like didn’t react to you the way you were expecting. What is the most comforting reaction to all of that? Even though it is hard to call it comforting, but what do we naturally do?  We complain, blame, cry, get angry, disappointed, sad, hateful to ourselves and others. It kind of helps us get it out, but we don’t think about how harmful this  reaction might be. We comfort ourselves with expectations and then get frustrated with our own “uselessness”, “shortsightedness” and “poor judgement” and we start hurting ourselves and others.

But, let’s ask ourselves: What would we do instead if we were strong? What would we do if we knew that this was just a lesson or the natural order of things we didn’t foresee? What if we let go of everything  and became as accepting as possible. What if next time we feel “uncontrollable” anger or anxiety we perceive it as signals to react to the situation in a different way? Wouldn’t we feel happy afterwords? Proud of our strength? Grown? We strive for being at comfort, but, the thing is that the true comfort is out of our comfort zone. Crave for it, crave for thanking instead of blaming, crave for peace instead of anger, crave for calm instead of anxiety. How? It is hard. Every day do something that would get you out of your comfort zone. If you know and are aware of your negative reactions to certain things, just try to react in the opposite way. It is super hard, but self-training.

Here is a little helper for putting up with unmet expectations; I got it from my mom, who has been wisely teaching me patience for my whole life. I became receptive only after I turned 30. And now I know and am trying to use her knowledge when I feel down. Please read and look deeper into it. Whatever you believe in, try to apply it to that. We were created to balance the world. Let’s be thankful and find balance within ourselves first. Here is what my mom would always have me read when I was thrown out of my comfort zone – “The talk of God with a human” :

“This Was From Me”
By Metropolitan Manuel Lemeshevsky

Have you ever thought that everything that touches you touches Me as well? For that which touches you touches the apple of My eye.

You are dear in my eyes, precious, and I have loved you; therefore it is a particular pleasure for Me to educate you.

When temptations arise against you, and the enemy comes like a river, I want you to know—This was from Me.

Your weakness needs My strength, and your safety comes from giving Me the opportunity to fight for you. If you find yourself in difficult circumstances, among people who do not understand you, who do not take what you like into consideration, who alienate you—This was from Me.

I am God, Who arranges circumstances. It was no accident that you find yourself in the place where you are; this is the place I have appointed for you. Did you not ask that I teach you humility? Well, then, look: I have placed you in precisely that place, in that school, where this lesson is learned. Your surroundings and those who live with you are only fulfilling My will. If you find yourself in financial difficulty, if you find it hard to make ends meet—This was from Me.

For I have your material means at my disposal. I want you to call unto me, for you to be dependent upon Me. My reserves are inexhaustible. I want you to be confirmed in fidelity to Me and to My promises. May it not be said to you in your need: “You did not believe in the Lord your God.”

Are you in a night of suffering? Are you separated from your loved ones and those close to your heart? This was from Me.

I am the Man of suffering, Who has tasted affliction. I have allowed this so that you would turn to Me, so that in Me you would find eternal comfort. If you have been let down by your friend, to someone to whom you opened your heart—This was from Me.

I allowed this disappointment to touch you so that you would know that your best friend is the Lord. I want you to bring everything to Me and to speak to Me.

Has someone slandered you? Give this to me, and bring your soul closer to Me, your Refuge, to hide from the “contradiction of the nations.” I shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday. If your plans have been destroyed, if you are downtrodden in soul and tired—This was from Me.

You made plans, and brought them to Me, so that I would bless them. But I want you to leave Me in charge of the circumstances of your life, and then responsibility for everything will be Mine, for this is too difficult for you; by yourself you can not manage them, for you are only an instrument, and not the actor. If unanticipated problems of life have visited you, and if despondency has seized your heart, then know—This was from Me.

For I want your heart and your soul to be always aflame before My eyes; to conquer faint-heartedness of the soul in My name. If you do not hear from your dear ones and friends for a long time, and in your faint-heartedness fall into despondency and grumbling, know—This was from Me.

By this anguish in your spirit, I test the strength of your faith in the surety of My promise and the strength of your boldness in prayer for these dear ones of yours. Was it not you who entrusted them to the Protection of My All-Pure Mother? Was it not you who once entrusted their care to My providential love? If serious illness, either temporary or incurable, has visited you, and has confined to your bed, then know—This was from Me.

For I want you to know Me even more deeply in you bodily infirmities, so that you would not grumble over this trial sent to you, that you would not try to penetrate My plans through different means for the salvation of people’s souls, but that you would uncomplainingly and submissively bow you neck under My goodness towards you. If you have dreamed of performing some special deed for Me, and instead haven fallen onto a bed of sickness and weakness—This was from Me.

Then you would have been immersed in your activities, and I would not have been able to attract your thoughts to Me, for I want to teach you My deepest thoughts and lessons, so that you would be in My service. I want to teach you to recognize that you are nothing. Some of My best co-workers are those who have been cut off from vital activity, that they would learn to wield the weapon of unceasing prayer.

Have you unexpectedly been called to occupy a difficult and responsible position? Go, place it on Me. I entrust these difficulties to you so that the Lord God would bless you for this in all your deeds, on all your paths, in everything that will done by your hands. On this day I put into your hands a vessel of holy oil. Use it generously, My children! Every difficulty that arises, every word that insults you, every obstacle to your work that could elicit in you a feeling of annoyance, every revelation of your weakness and inability, shall be anointed with this oil.

Remember that every obstacle is a Divine instruction. Every sting will be dulled when you learn to see Me in everything that touches you. Therefore place the word I have declared to you today in your heart: This was from Me. For this is not an empty matter for you—this is your life.

I took this translation from http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/saint-se

20170226_175713.jpg

Music and Joy

To me, these two words have become almost interchangeable when it’s about music that sparks joy in me. Literally, since I remember myself I could be in a good mood for at least a day when one of my favorite singers produced a new album.

I was born an a family of two musicians and was taught to love this joyous experience every time when I hear a good bass guitar improvisation or someone sing in this naturally flavorful authentic tuneful manner coming from the heart and soul of the singer. My parents and my elder sister would always point these moments to each other and taught me feel so grateful for the existence of this amazing thing – music.

Sometimes, when I feel sad or overwhelmed with something, music becomes my healer. At those moments when I feel weak, I just need to listen to Diane Shuur or Etta James and sing along to feel better about myself. Yes. I feel so much better after singing and sometimes even crying at the same time. I do it when nobody sees me.

I used to study vocal back in Russia and my teacher Galina Filatova would listen to a song I chose for my performance and even though, sometimes, she wouldn’t understand the lyrics, she would still try to make me match emotions of the singer and talk to me on a very emotional level about my personal life, use my demolished hopes or fantastic experiences in order for me to make her cry by singing as emotionally as I could. We had two posters on the wall at the singing room, – two posters of famous black musicians and she made me imagine that they were alive and talk to them pronouncing the lyrics of my song before I start singing. I remember it felt pretty real.

Even though I understand that my life is wonderful and there are so many things to thank God for… but sometimes, when there’s an obstacle on my family’s way, I become very sad. Especially if I can’t fix a problem myself at that moment. This morning I woke up sad. I needed joy and it wouldn’t come. So I decided to sing. I sang until I couldn’t control my voice anymore, until I couldn’t see the lyrics of the songs I chose through my tears. And you know what? I felt enlivened. Music brings this feeling in me – the feeling of being alive. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for me to love New York, – the heart of jazz music.

Some Etta James for you. And some Ukrainian heart-singer also. EnJoy.

What I eat in a day tag.

Dear friends, as I promised, I am going to show you what I do and how easy it is to keep the weight in moderation, eat relatively well and substitute bad foods with foods that will make you feel happy, healthy and energized!:)

2 things that help me do this are:

This kind of food scale:16805031_1535363756481553_172769851_o

And  this app:2709036278373Screenshot_20170218-204009.png

This app is built into any Android phone. It will help you to playfully put calories in and see how healthy you actually eat. I set my limit at 1500 calories a day, but almost always go a little over it. I am trying not to go over 1800 calories and today I did 1700 calories, which is good for getting rid of calories. I try to take a yoga class or/and workout 4 days a week, so it will make it easier for my body to constantly maintain my weight and metabolism rate.

So, what I ate today for breakfast:

16804834_1535355436482385_1580140444_o

Of course, I, as a person who, before moving to GA, used to live in NY, drink coffee. To make it less harmful I add about 100 grams of Dream Blends Rice and Quinoa instead of milk and 15 grams of honey to it, so it feels warm and tastes delicious.

In this breakfast I used:

Cinnamon Raisin Organic Gluten Free Bread (Rudi’s) – 1 serving

Low Fat Turkey Bacon (Butterball) – 2 slices

1 egg – to fry it I used extra virgin olive oil. In order to use less oil, I use a cooking brush to oil a pan.

16804986_1535417396476189_16837728_o

Broccoli Sprouts – 0.5 serving

Portabello Mushrooms – 0.3 cup

Tomatoes – about 50 g

Arugula – 15 g

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise – 5 g

All of this including coffee came down to 374 cal and was super-delicious!

I subbed the regular bacon with the turkey bacon and still used a slice of a delicious, but organic and gluten- free bread! Yumm!

Next meal was very simple but scrumptious! I didn’t have time to cut the peaches and the strawberries, but a promise is a promise, so here it is:

16776963_1535355129815749_1669354463_o

Snack: Oh My Yog! 3 layered strawberry yogurt with 1 peach and 2 large strawberries – 259 cal

Lunch! Oh My Lunch!

16810702_1535355309815731_1130055608_o

Baked Chicken Thighs with no extra oil added – 130 g

Hint of lime tortilla chips 32 g

Guacamole: 1/2 Avocado, red onion – 15g, tomatoes – 50 g,  jalapeño peppers – 4 g, cilantro.

1/2 Lime Juice

salt, pepper

600 cal

Well. It was VERY GOOD!

Then I had my cheat drink Starbucks Green Tea Latte!

16804758_1535355203149075_1341824838_o

Well, I wouldn’t usually do this, but today my husband and I had a meeting at Starbucks so

130 cal

Dinner – salad. Very nutritious!

16805241_1535355066482422_1805025295_o.jpg

Zesty Sriracha Carrot Hummus (Eat Well, Embrace Life) – 52 g

Sweet peppers – 20 g

Strawberries – 57 g

Broccoli Sprouts – 17 g

Avocado – whole – 131 g

Cress – 17 g (0 cal!!!)

Arugula – 16 g

Spinach – 21 g

Peach 1/2

Seasoning

360 cal

So, guys, you can see here how simple it is to eat delicious and fresh food with JOY!

All I had today was only 1723 cal and my nutrition score, given by SHealth is 81, which is pretty good. Here’s the breakdown:

16810372_1535456616472267_2040877598_o.png

Also, I am trying not to eat a lot of diary products, so as a result I usually lack Calcium. But I promise, tomorrow I’ll be better!

Have you seen all this food?! It is so much better than this:

1415667701593_image_galleryimage_indulge_gtraph_jpg

(I took this picture from here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-2828587/Hungry-Horse-s-Double-Donut-burger-1-966-calories-53-grams-saturated-fat.html)

So, guys! Let’s watch our diets and support each other in our healthy lifestyle.

I myself can eat a couple of servings of lo mein here and there, but generally I try to eat healthy and love my body as it deserves to be loved.

EnJoy your dreams and cheers. 🙂

Disclaimer: I’m not a dietician, and I can’t give you 100% right advice, but this is what I do and what works for me.

To diet or not to diet; that’s the question!

It is so hard! It’s so hard to start dieting! But a good thing is… you don’t have to! Tomorrow I will show you what I ate in a day today and you will see how easy it is to maintain your weight or slowly (which is the best way to do it!) get rid of pounds and stay healthy without starving yourself to death! Posting some pics of healthy fruits, veggies and berries that I recently took on our porch!:) Hope you enJOY!:)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Self-Appreciation, Self-Love and the keys to it.

13912317_1277294928955105_6254340145476628464_n

Despite all the information on self-love that we have access to nowadays, every person has to find their own key to unlock this door to the self appreciating power. Therefore it is hard to generalize the ways to this important discovery. Sometimes, we get caught up in our own patterns of self-hatered and do not even notice how deep down the hole we are until someone subtly points it out to us, subtly because from my own observation, when we are fought against or blamed for something, we tend to perceive things in a wrong way, and again, not pay attention to the true meaning of the received message. So I hope I am subtle enough! Ha!:)

So today I would like to encourage you to find little ways to enjoy yourself. And this is a SECOND of the JOYS I’m pointing out to you. I will try to give you “molds” of my little “keys” and maybe then you can adjust it to your own shape and form.

I stumble on my path to unconditional self-love myself. But here is how I get up and continue going forward. I am not a professional you totally need to listen to, but I am a practitioner who has different experiences and wants to share them with others.

I’m not asking you to love yourself fully right now. I mean, if your can, you’re very lucky, and that probably means that you or/and your parents most definitely worked hard on your perceptions of yourself and your life and now, as a result, you are fully satisfied with your reality and your present self no matter how you look like, how much money you make or, for example, if you have friends or romantic relationship at the moment. This kind of self love is truly remarkable! Then, maybe you do not need my advice and I am sincerely happy for you! But we are all different and sometimes it seems that there is no happy place for us in our own hearts and surprisingly it occurs that all we need is just a little push forward. I hope to give you one and inspire you today by telling you what I do to uplift myself and love myself one step at a time.

So the FIRST STEP is drinking a glass of WATER in the morning. Yes this simple!

While you are drinking it think about love and you are literally nourishing your body and enlivening it by every gulp. After you finished your cup, close your eyes and feel the little movements of the water going through your body. Imagine that you just had a glass of love because it is true! It was an act of self-love! Open your eyes! Feeling better? Good job!

The SECOND STEP is going OUTSIDE for a moment or a little walk, or just simply looking out the window. Sounds silly at first right? Haha!:) But it’s actually not.

Try looking and perceiving whatever you see in a positive way. If you see a pile of snow and think “Blah… cold again…” – it is not going to make you feel better. Instead you can substitute this thought in a surprisingly natural way and think about a good side of it. For example “How magical it is that this snow is falling from the sky.. from so far away from me! I can actually touch it, it’s almost like if I could touch the clouds!” I mean.. why not? That is how you will learn little ways to see beauty in something that you haven’t found attractive before, including… yourself! So, redirect your gaze from the window or come back inside and look in the mirror. Smile at yourself. And do the same thing as you did outside: look at yourself from a different perspective. If you do not like your nose, try to look at it as a person who really likes this type of nose. WHY NOT? See? You already love your nose. At least you’re smiling!:)

Next, THIRD STEP is cleaning your SPACE.

There is a wonderful Japanese writer named Marie Kondo. In her book “Spark Joy” she talks about removing all items that do not spark joy in you from your space. I didn’t read the book, so I am not the one to recommend it, but I watched multiple videos about her and her ways of tidying living space and was amazed how simple her technics of tidying were. So if you are curious, just search her name on YouTube and get inspired.

Why do I point it out to you when we are talking about Self-Love? Again, very simple, because when you love someone or something, you want the best for them! You do want yourself to live in a clean room that you can enjoy being in right? It is that not complicated: EnJOY!

The most important, though difficult at first but yet eventually joyous FOURTH STEP is EATING HEALTHY.

This is a crucial step that I am going to talk about in my next post. I think pretty much every language has a saying “You are what you eat” because it is the truth that we sometimes ignore. For some people this saying became a cliche that they don’t perceive seriously. They hear it here and there and it sounds empty or, quiet the opposite, – too humiliating to them until it changes their bodies and/or self-perseptions and then, depending on what negative change unhealthy nutrition brought into their lives, they either finally listen and change their lifestyle or as the worst case scenario, do not have time for that.:( Changing the lifestyle doesn’t mean forgetting about tasty hamburgers or sweet delicious pastries, it means taking your time to look into the ingredients and find better options for yourself. And this is again an act of Self-love. I will expand more on this topic in my next post, I promise!

So, I invite you to enjoy yourself starting today. Even if you were reading it while chewing on a McDonald’s sandwich, you still can start now by confidently eating your last bite, not blaming yourself for that. Instead of blaming, Love YOURSELF! Show yourself love by committing acts of your authentic self-love, caring for your body and mind.

P.S. This post wasn’t proofread by my husband. So you can read it and see how Russian I actually am. 🙂