Month: December 2017

Happy New Year and how exactly to make it happy

Happy New Year! There is an old saying: ” How you will meet New Year, same way you will live it!”. Nice. Thank you . It just set up the new pressure to celebrate the New Year the best way you can to have the best out of it. And the pressure of success is ruling the life… the rush to be perfect and to have a perfect setting and perfect company and perfect, picture-worth-many-likes fun. Did I miss something? Oh, yeah, the happiness. That mysterious state of mind that we chase by our attempts to be perfect. But the trick is that they do not always go together. What to do? Below is the answer.

Just remember the times you felt extremely happy. Have your cup-glass of whatever, take a deep breath to let your body feel that you live and remember your happy times. ( often people who experienced lots of sad moments remember them first. I recently experienced a loss, so as my friend suggested to me, I remember and embrace my loss as a light memory, as a good memory). After those sad or upsetting things are passed ( just little pieces of emotions, do not stop with them ), remember the happy moment. And, yes, those are moments. One is enough. This is not about the actual event – this is about your emotion. Choose the one you d like – an excited or a calm one.

No matter where you celebrate you New Year, without getting too philosophical or perfect ( to my experience, both are slippery roads to lose  the momentum of happiness:)) prepare whatever you wanted and stop thinking ( what to wear, what to buy, whom to invite) – just stay content and calm and smile. Do not hurry. For my New Year celebration, there are few disturbing things that are stirring the mood: out of a large group of people who decided to book a nice house, two parties dropped the ball  after the place was already booked, leaving us to deal with high cost. Training camp, my husband getting sick,  and last minute shopping ( and oh, year mani-pedi and what to wear:) – some parts I just ignore ( well, I am not going to make any plans with these people for vacations, but hey, people are people – this is a natural fact – everyone has multiple sides and circumstances). I did shopping list with our french friends- and spend 1hr of my life to buy all stuff, one hour for mani-pedi, and 20 min to answer what to wear. No stress, little time. Tea with lemon and honey for my husband ( plus warm hugs). 1 hour to pack my family , while they are on mountain. Now I called my mom, and having my cup of whatever :))

After you ve done with preparations and enjoyed them ( aha, the preparations for New Year). I mentioned to stay calm, but you ll be surprised, that maybe you are one of those people who loves to be in a hurry before celebration ( “I am here and there and everywhere”). This can be fun too! When the celebration comes, focus on warm hugs ( ha ha remember that kid`s movie character Olaf?), smiles and take that happy feeling that you prepared before into your celebration.

Wishing you lots of fun and  happy moments in a New Year!

Ski areas for non-skiers: ski and apres ski, why we should go and what we should wear

Skiers around the world are getting excited when the weather is getting colder: they smell snow and ski. Other normal and adequate adults tend to spend a bit less time outdoors. Even avid runners, when the temperature strikes minus in Fahrenheit, prefer to take a day off. This year I cannot ski, so spending some time in the ski area as a non-skier led me to several points:

First, it is a great way to enjoy winter because in the ski area cold feels differently than in the office setting, so grab your coffee and go for a walk.

Second, this keeps your kids healthy and happy as this is one of very few reasons to get them out of house and iPads in a cold weather – they have fun, they get stronger and also they eat and sleep better.

Third, the sun exposure and its reflection by snow boosts the mood for days and weeks after. Isn’t this the best way to deal with season depression that many people experience?

Forth, this is a great opportunity to hang with friends and to meet new people. Even if I am alone spending hours while waiting for my daughter, I meet people and chat.

Fifth, après ski is something to enjoy and the fact that you spend so much time outdoors qualifies your body for this pleasure.

What to wear? Dress up in layers. Ski jackets and snow pants work great but I also like sheer coat with ski pants and turtleneck or thick sweaters. Fun hats are always fun. Remember to take sunglasses  – it can be a lot of sun.

Live your life full even in winter. Happy New Year!


Good bye to my grandma: a quick story of 103.5 year old lady

Can it be quick? A more than a century-long life story? Now looking back, I would say, yes… it looks like her long life was a quick shot. Now it is a quintessence of her role in my life and stories about her. Little clouds of memories that are still too immature to make a  connected story.

My grandma, Elena Pavlovna Grekova, was second to last out of six kids. My grand grandpa, Pavel, was a poor aristocrat who married my grand grandma after she separated from her first husband. The first husband was a gambler and intended to sell my grand grandma  to Eastern countries  in order to pay his debts but the captain of the ship on which they were sailing,  saved her.

With my grand grandpa,  they already  had four daughters, and wished for a son, when my grandma was born. It was a big disappointment for them, and for sometime they even called her with boys name. Later the last child, their son was born. The quiet family life was destroyed by a train accident and a tragic death of Pavel. There was no income and no food. Grand grandma had to clean the floor and work at the factory, but that was still not enough for living. My grandma was taken by another family: at least there was some food. I am not exactly sure why, but later she was returned back to her mother and at age of 6 she had to buy food for the whole entire household. With almost no money, she learned how to be very practical and this quality of character she carries through her all life.

Once she grows a little more, she moves to Sant – Petersburg, where during her college years, she meets my grandpa who also happen to study engineering. She later teaches engineering in military school. My grandma had two kids, the son and my mom. My mom was the youngest in the family.

First I remember my grandma in her apartment. Super clean, with food always cooked ( she was an excellent cook), there is always something she would discuss with me. Till the very end she loved learning something new and reading books. Because of her strong personality, we had had hard times, but as a little girl, I always liked being around her. Especially I remember her summerhouse, where she grew the best garden in the whole neighborhood! Everyone would like to see her flowers, fruit trees, and veggies. She had an amazing ability to combine plants in a small area and to keep them happy. I remember, she loved to talk to them. She would talk to greens like cilantro and parsley, perhaps, expressing her love that she never received in her childhood…. This was the first thing she did every time she arrives to  summerhouse: check the garden and talk to her plants.

Endless conversations that I remember, and her ability to take care and heal some wounds were almost addictive. Many proverbs that she used to say still pop up in my head.  If I will have to pick the most important things that she taught me, those will be: self respect, self sufficiency, motivation for development, love for esthetic things that can make your home cozy at any budget and circumstances. I take a good care of those beautiful pillows that she made for me and later for my daughter, her grand granddaughter. The same pillow was first made for my mom…  My grandma was an artist, a stylist and a designer – all in one and in extreme conditions. Remembering few years ago, I came to visit her. I wore ripped jeans. Very stylish, I thought.

She took her glasses, looked at me and said: ” What are you wearing? Do you really think, this is pretty?”.

” Well, I am a student, and lots of time goes to study. And money are tight too, “- I said.

“After a second world war, we had no food, and no money and no shops, but I still went out with your grandpa in white silk dress. How now you tell me that you cannot take care of yourself?, – was her answer. I could not argue. It affected my life a lot. Now when anyone tells me that there is no time for taking care, I remember her words. Her style rules to dress up were: iron and clean clothes ( iron at her times was custom steel that only professional weight lifter can lift); basic wardrobe high quality items and tailored dresses. She made lots of clothes herself or asked a friend, who was a tailor. Once she was awake, she dressed up in house dress.

Her secrets to a long and healthy life? Not sure, it fits everyone.. The main rule, though, does: everything is in moderation. Food, activities, rest, stress, happiness, celebrations. She also had her daily schedule. She read and traveled a lot. Every summer they would spend a month in the car, often traveling as a group of few families. My grandma used to cook a lot and to grow her own food or to buy a good quality food. She was very practical, but never on cost of quality. She went through self-motivation for an education to building the family and raising kids, to spirituality later in life. Now I think, her spiritual development began even earlier than she ever admitted, when in her 50s she learned how to collect healing herbs and to use them. She avoided doctors as much as possible. Forget about checkups… no doctors for decades. For a few decades. If she was tired, she would take a rest. In fact, rest was a part of her daily routine. She would lay down quietly for an hour, listening to herself.  In her life, she relied on herself only. She did lots of things and was proud of herself, but she was never a workhorse. This is a big difference between her lifestyle and the idea of working 24/7 for a career growth.

Our last meeting was less than two years ago. I took time off to fly and to meet her for several days. Although deep inside, I knew, that was a goodbye, I still do not believe that during past year, I found time to attend her funeral but not the time to see her alive. Really, what is more important? I felt like I was overwhelmed and super busy… well, I made a wrong choice.

During our meeting, she was holding my hand and smiled, while remembering times we were together. That was the time, she gave me her bag. The bag she used to go for dates with my grand pa ( even they were married, they would go out and travel a lot). This is the bag that I go out with my husband now. The personal vintage item that is much more than a style statement.

Goodbye, Grandma! The world is different without you….


The Best Photo I took in 2017

Here we are saying goodbye to 2017.  Thinking of positive moments of past year, this is the best photo i took in 2017. Some people suggest to keep your s..t together – I have better suggestion: keep your chromosomes together: it is more important! On the photo: dividing human cell where color-coded are the proteins that cover chromosomes. Soon enough they will come all together at one line to check if everyone is here, and then , move to a new emerging cells. Loss of chromosomes is often seen in cancer. So wish for many years ahead: keep your chromosomes together!


Where is your home?

Here I discuss what makes a place a home that warms us on cold winter nights. We are not discussing gas vs oil heating here.

Where to settle?  Where to make your home? For some people this is just a practical question. For many others, this question combines philosophy that should also fit lifestyle, job and school districts. Obviously, there is no “one size fits all” model. But more than that, it seems, that there also no “one home fits all my life” model. At least not for everyone. And the fact that many millennials do not care about buying a home, supports this idea. You change. And your needs change too: jobs, family status. So changing homes comes naturally. Is it? Really? 



Sometimes I think we are like snails, carry our homes with us. Houses change, indeed. Home is your little special things: painting from a grandpa, a vase that your friends got for your birthday, or a pillow that your grandma made for you. Home is the energy that you invest in place where you live.  This what makes you rested and cozy in cold winter. That is why it takes time to feel at home in a new place: it takes time to invest warm energy in a new house.  

New Year countdown after Merry Christmas: treat your family and yourself

This is a very social time of the year. And hectic too… every year I used to work this week between Christmas and New Year Eve, either at work or from home. Well, work did not exclude friends and family events. Urgently put together, the New Year resolutions included taking more time to rest… and the next day the work began again. The body did not have any chance to recover from severe overeating, alcohol consumption and late nights… Right. Where actually, do I work? Here? What exactly I am doing? Why?  This year I changed the rules.


Leaving work early on Friday, I had coffee with my husband and went to hairdresser and eyebrow rehab. Finally, I felt like I am a woman and not a workhorse anymore. A week off. Parties with family and friends are followed by a day to recover. Other days we spend on mountain. While I cannot ski this year, my little one and my husband enjoy it. Once we back home, we do nothing. Just cup of tea… movie or chatting. Or taking a nap. The life began to have more meaning without any spiritual practice. Amazingly, the life is full of events if you cut down extra things. Less is more. Happy New Year!

P.S. one more time about resolutions.. do I really want to add more plans to my already full plate? and torture myself with strict diets, calling this healthy lifestyle? I choose to  listen to myself, the body and mind, and to be more relax.