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Celebrating feminine power: International Women’s Day 2019

March opens the gate for spring so that we can walk through it with the first spring flowers and honor the uniqueness of every woman, their mission and awareness of the feminine power.

Flowers open to the sun as if in spite the still cool air and soil, and breezy, chilly winds. They’ve come long ways and survived the lack of light and warmth in winter.

Much longer days and the bright and daring sun beams allow seeing everything in fresh and strong colors.

We give birth to new plans, nurture brave ideas and get excited with fresh thoughts.

It is so wonderful to head out looking for unexpected success and brave solutions! Nothing compares to the feeling when we take ourselves by hand, get outdoors and join the dance of sunlight patches on the sidewalk!

Spring is in the air, and March comes with a firm promise: “Soon, very soon, every path will take you straight to the blossoming gardens and sprouting grasses and blooms!” You cannot even miss it!

We should appreciate every gift we receive from the spring.

Let us feel young and daring once again! Let us enjoy the blossoming season and walk fearlessly and with determination towards our new goals!

It is no coincidence we celebrate International Women’s Day in March, as soon as our boldest and bravest dreams wake up after the long sleepy winter. Who else, if not women dare everything?

This day has been always my most favorite spring celebration. I’m very happy to be in Latvia at this moment. We do not associate this day that much with political issues in Latvian families, and we do simply celebrate women for all the great qualities they have and for all the great things women achieve.

I can leave all the sad issues in the past and look forward to a new beginning. Love never dies, not even when the person we loved has gone.

These flowers tell me about the future. Tulips in my vase are from my daughter and her husband. Exactly in the red color I adore.

We do not need much to feel loved and respected, especially, if our heart is confident that love never ends and big part of it dwells in our soul.

Flowers in pictures are my room plants. They, too, feel love and care. The more I care, the more beautiful their blossoms regardless of any obstacles and setbacks.

It’s time to blossom, ladies.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Happiness is moody: life lessons

The New Year has walked across the globe by now.  Although, it is just a date, a reference mark along the way, we meet the January 1st as if it is a new beginning, a new way of life, a new hope and a new happiness which awaits just behind the next bend. Or does it?

I look around, and I am surprised how I have gotten done so many things. I cannot sometimes believe I did that because there were so many days in the last year I was not that productive. I certainly hope the New Year comes with soothing feelings of calm and adds some pleasure onto the daily menu.

Many years ago, a Latvian poet wrote some sad lines: “When the pain will stop, when it will end completely, everything else will end, as well.” Pain is a sign that we are alive. It is a signal to pay attention.

I’m not talking about physical pain only which can be so strong that nothing more exists, I’m talking about life that runs away like sand in an hourglass. Lost time, lost opportunities and lost days. So many. I will have to change that and turn every single day into enjoyable one.

Well, I am hopeful because the hope is always there: the next day will be much better, the next month will be much easier, the next year will be much nicer to me. It should be. It better be. Or otherwise what? Nothing. It’s about time I return to things that make me happy.

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As a young kid I had to walk to school for quite a distance every morning. I hated mornings because I was usually reading all night, and it was extremely difficult to get up. We used to live on a high hill. As I walked, and sometimes the weather was just really nasty, I could see another hill, far away. That hill always seemed to be sunny when it was windy, cold and rainy or snowy where I was. I have no explanation for that, but the sun just loved the distant hill. I often thought: I’m going to get to this other hill. I’m going to live my life on that sunny hill. Years passed by, but the other hill remained in quite a distance. I moved to a place from another side of planet across the ocean. I left that hill there, in Latvia. I don’t even know if it is visible anymore because any landscape changes a lot over 50 years. I am still on the way to that hill. Am I any closer? Maybe. I just know I’m not on it, I haven’t reached the point where I want to be, to live, to stand, to exist yet. Will I ever? Does anybody ever have it all? The truth is: we get something and we pay a lot for it. We sometimes pay more than we ever imagined was possible.

The truth about anything that doesn’t kill us and makes us stronger is only in that regard that we know we are not giving up that easily now. Is it necessary to become stronger this way? Not at all. So much energy goes to waste which could be used for way more rewarding things, things that actually make one’s life relevant and significant.

It was sunny during the day. That might be a good sign. A sunny year? How wonderful that would be!

life-lessons-blog

Wishing everybody to avoid unnecessary struggles and to reach your sunny hill whatever way you take in 2017!

The Mother’s tree

I have a box of memories. This box holds everything which I could take with me from my past life in Latvia after I moved over to Canada. It is amazing how little space can be filled with memories of 46 years, and that’s all I have from there.

As I’m going through yellowish pictures, some as old as I am now, some even older which makes them 70 or 80 years old, I’m having a look at my mom. She is so diligent, loves moving and doing everything so much that even now at 85 she is still busy in the garden and at the sewing machine. Her eyesight has worsened a lot, but that does not stop her. My dad was like that, too: always busy with something. We had a fantastic place over there in Latvia. It was a semi-detached house; quite honestly, it later caused a lot of problems just because it was not solely ours, and my dad built it practically from scratch, when we moved to this small town Saldus, it had only the outside walls and sort of main structures.

Mother's day

He and my mom worked hard to make it a lovely living space. My mom is a born gardener, somebody who genuinely understands the nature and character of every plant and tree, and I believe I have inherited this knowledge because I have green thumbs, too. We had a huge orchard, 2 greenhouses and many flowers and vegetables, all kinds of them. These, who know what life was like in the late soviet era, can recall how nothing was in the store, so most food which we had on our table came from our own garden. Thankfully, gardening was the greatest thing I could ever learn. I started helping early, we were just small kids: sister and I, but it was an unwritten rule that everybody has to participate in order garden and orchard received the attention they deserved.

My mom in her 30

My mom in her 30

In my memories, there’s always spring and blossoming apple tress in this old place which doesn’t even exist anymore. I suppose, that will be my most favorite time of the year for as long as I live. There were white and sweetly pinkish clouds of blooms all along the garden path as we walk down the hill. The house was at the top of a hill, so when standing there, one was overlooking the most beautiful scene imaginable. Cherries, apple trees, plum trees, pear trees, black, white and red currant and gooseberry bushes were on both sides of the path. I think it’s not a coincidence I love painting garden path images. Whenever I think back, I am seeing my mom under these blossoming apple trees. It is spring, it is warm and sunny and dad works in the small shed he built, as well.

Whenever I think about a mother and her importance in our life, I am seeing a huge apple tree, wide and strong and it carries its fruit through dry, rainy or stormy summers straight into the first frosts of the fall. Branches are so strong and flexible at the same time, but they are in a full beauty in early May. Mother and a blossoming apple tree are synonyms for me.

My mom working at greenhouses

My mom used to work in huge greenhouses, I was quite often with her, I was 4-5 since we didn’t have kindergartens 

I never developed extreme attraction or attachment to things one can buy, but I found an endless opportunity to express myself through things one is able to create. Therefore, creativity became my true existence. That is thanks to my mom who is the most creative person I’ve ever known. She created home decor, pillow cases and curtains, thousands of dresses, skirts, blouses, dresses, coats and jackets. She still loves designing and sewing aprons. She gives them as a gift to people who love cooking or doing work around the house. She could create any outfit one only can dream off. I took over this skill when I was 12; and when I was 13, I was wearing everything made by myself, that included coat, pants, skirts, blouses and tops. It takes my mom nothing to create the most beautiful flower arrangements, and I obviously am good at that, as well. I think my feel of good composition and balance within a space or image takes its origin right there: that is the way my mom would arrange things. Harmony and balance was the main feature of any of her creations. I’ve never eaten more delicious patties or home- made pies. Thanks mom for allowing me to become not a consumer, but so much more a creator of anything beautiful around us! I think it is a precious skill which carries me through life and makes my living so much simpler.

My mom at her sewing machine

Returning to the memory box: I was surprised how few photos I had from all these years. Well, cameras and smart phones were not available as they are now, so having taken a picture was a big deal. I cannot describe the heartache when these pictures didn’t come out as good as planned. It does not really matter whether I have only a few or lots of pictures. My memory has it all: the old house, the orchard and my mom under a blossoming apple tree. That’s all what matters.

My mom in Latvia

A recent picture of mom, just last year, she is 85

New Year: setting steps and path to better ourselves

Who am I in the school of life? A life-long student, an observer, an explorer, and a teacher. The main thing is: we should never say “I know it all”. We do not, and it is unlikely, we ever will.

Happy New Year

My personal experience is that too much talking is useless and leads to misunderstandings, disputes which solve nothing but cause reactions which would not happen otherwise. I also think that talking and discussions should be kept to minimum as opposed to simply getting things done. It is a point of view of and Eastern European. I was watching some movies back then in 70-s, and there were some serials which most often involved: Do you want to talk about this?” These series showed that these particular people could avoid so many misunderstandings if they only would not talk so much. If they simply had been acting as they had intended to. Well, many counselling and advisory services want us to do exactly that: talk about things. I realize that there are people who need to talk out their problems. I am somebody who has to act in order to solve something.

New Year Resolutions Belief

A typical person with western upbringing makes plans, drawings, sketches, explores all possible materials, any possible tools and any ways to get some particular item done, and this involves endless discussions either on the phone or in person. A typical person with eastern upbringing gets right away to make that particular thing they need. They have a necessity for that item and a plan in their head, they have some experience and they most often use whatever is available without special tools and without special exploration. If there is something I will desperately need to get by, I can get it any time. The result is usually equally good. It is just so that my direct approach saves time and misunderstandings. It saves discussions and arguments. I have also seen how people, who want to be prepared for everything, get done nothing. Therefore, I would say: just get to it whatever it is you have decided to accomplish. Life always makes its corrections. It always does, whether that is a house you are building or a relationship you are fixing. We certainly need a general plan which outlines steps we are about to make in order to get wherever we want. However, steps and path are what we have to be aware of at first. Pointing out steps and becoming knowledgeable about clear path which leads us to the result is actually more important than the distant and huge goal itself.

It is also so that the brain can easily identify such steps and alert us by giving certain signals if we are about to lose our path and to get lost.

New Year Miracles and Dreams

Here is an example: resolution I will be healthy and eat healthy realistically means nothing in the point of view of the brain. It will say: so what? Be. Resolution: I will discontinue any soft drink usage either at home or eating out indicates path how to get rid at least of some unwanted chemicals and sugars.

Resolution: I will lose weight means absolutely nothing for the brain. Resolution: I will take 30 minutes long walk every night between 7 and 7.30 pm gives your brain an idea what to stick at. Resolution: I will be nice to other people technically means nothing. Specify the situations and steps.

Resolution: I will control my blood sugar more frequently to avoid upsetting my family with my bad moods is a good resolution. I will most likely do just that.

My other New Year’s resolution due to the above explained also is: I will speak less and only when the situation requires, and think, make decisions and do more.

Specifying steps, pathways and issues in numbers helps, as well. The signal has to be direct and call to action. That leads to big goals much faster and with less frustration and disappointment for failures.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and may all your dreams come true!

Christmas memories that can make us cry

There is a house on a hill far, far away, across the ocean, across huge fields and deep forests, and my mom is writing a Christmas card to me sitting at her old table, wearing a blue warm shawl around shoulders in her small lovely room. Letters are lining up unevenly, and the card always starts with “My dear daughter”.

Winter night light

Christmas time is very special time not only because we are trying to do something good for others, to give more than take, to support more than we usually do, but also because it brings back memories. If you’re older like me, you are having plenty of memories, as well. Each year has been marked with some event, some person, some special gift, somebody’s birth, wedding or death. I intentionally sometimes do not look through photos. These are the old, real photos on paper that I’m talking about; a few are grey-yellowish already since they’ve been taken more than 50 years ago. I don’t want to hurt myself too much because that is the past and it’s not in our power to return to life those people who have walked away either from us, or from this dimension.

If you are like me, your friends and family live very far away in another continent. My husband’s family is in Canada, but nobody resides close to us. Our Christmas means only two of us, and I am so grateful it is two, not only one. I have had completely lonely Christmas and bad ones, too, when there was no food on the table and when I even couldn’t get a bus ticked to get to my family back then in Latvia. I have been sick during some Christmas and I have been extremely happy also. I have been even freezing terribly during some Christmas, there was very little firewood at home, and we needed it badly to keep the fire in the stove going and ourselves from freezing.

If you are a very sensitive person who easily slides into depression, you should keep yourself away from the most painful memories, too. Some tear or a few running down the cheek is absolutely fine, but we shouldn’t submerge ourselves into a deep, dark, lonely lake of tears and melancholy. It helps to be among other people, at least chatting with online friends or somebody over the phone will make it feel as if together with somebody. There are always events at the church, and nobody feels lonely there. It is wrong to assume that one has to be only smiles if they want to cry in reality. It is fine to let your memories unfold as long as they don’t wrap you up in a too thick layer of regrets, feeling of guilt and sadness. The worst companion for a lonely grieving person is alcohol. It can create the illusion of joy and pleasure, but it fades away very quickly leaving one in deeper depression than ever. Whatever you do, do not use alcohol as a pain reliever. The blurry mind gives us wrong instructions and takes onto wrong route.

Winter night Christmas memories

Whatever our memories and situation at Christmas, there is always something to be grateful for. It is fantastic to be with somebody. It is great to have good food. It is excellent to have lights and candles and to be warm. It is a blessing to have somebody who loves you and who you can love in return. Don’t have a party? So what? Have to stay in bed? Well, next year should be having a better ending then. Things did not happen as you expected? They here and there do, and they very often don’t. Too busy, too many guests, too boring and tiring party? Relax; take your time, one can always find an excuse to sit down at some quiet corner.

My best Christmas memories are associated with family which is far away at the moment. We were very happy together. Celebration was not that much about plenty or expensive gifts those times, but mostly about the great feeling, Christmas warmth, delicious self-made meals, Christmas songs. Our tradition also includes saying a Christmas poem at the tree, and all kids were doing that in order to receive their gifts. It was always a bit different in Latvia: the biggest celebration is on December 24. We are supposed to have 9 dishes on the table; we are supposed to eat something 9 times during this night, we sing a lot of special Christmas songs and we have also other 2000 year old traditions: like dressing up in special costumes and visiting other houses in the neighbourhood.  It used to be so much fun that sometimes we returned home only by 3 or 4 in the morning. We were laughing a lot, even dancing. Giving, receiving and unwrapping of gifts was always done on December 24, as well. Therefore, Canadian Christmas seems quite boring to me. It’s most likely a very nice celebration when somebody gives a Christmas party, but it is a really slowly unwinding night for people who do not have any guests, visitors and who are simply lonely.

Winter sky and tree

We cannot buy love or happiness with a gift, but we can show our love and gratitude. Giving somebody an opportunity to feel safe and preventing somebody from loneliness is a valuable gift, as well. There are people who only need you to be with them, and not much more. To light up a candle, to make a place for joy.

The Midsummer magic in Latvian style

Midsummer or Summer Solstice is celebrated in quite a few countries, nations and places; however, I don’t know any other place than Latvia where people so much love the Midsummer night which is called „Līgo”. This is practically not translatable; it comes from ancient times and is used after every line of Latvian midsummer folk-songs. The closest interpretation might be “sway or swing”, just like plants or trees are swaying in a light wind. There are plenty of folk-songs, and these songs have come to us through very many centuries, they have originated some 1500 years ago and given verbally from generation to generation. No powers, natural disasters or governing rules could make these songs and the Midsummer celebration extinct, even though many tried to prohibit Latvians to celebrate “Līgo”, especially Germans and Russians and especially after the WWII during the communist times.

Well, Latvia is such a tiny country, but the spiritual and intellectual side of life is a big deal over there. Latvians are a nation of singers; they were overcoming all troubles and all disasters cheering up themselves with such folk-songs. I will attach a link which shows one adapted “Līgo” song performed by Latvian choirs during the Song Festival which takes place every 4 years.

Magic rituals, superstitions, simply traditions and solstice magic: everything is carried out and present during the night of June 23. It is supposed to be the shortest night, although, we know June 21 or June 22 are the shortest nights.

Ligo My small Midsummer  treats

We have special foods to enjoy: special cheese with caraway seeds, beer, special small pies and similar.

I managed to make my Midsummer cheese this year, as well. That is definitely my most favorite cheese of all of them. It is difficult to make it using Canadian products because they are not quite the same as in Latvia. However, the taste is excellent, I had some slices already.

Latvian Midsummer

This night is celebrated outdoors: with bonfires, dancing and singing. This year I’m not going to Sidrabene where Canadian Latvians have Midsummer Festival, it is not the same anyway. “Līgo” belongs to Latvia, we can imitate it, we can try, but it still is very different from the original celebration in Latvia.

Midsummer treats: caraway seed cheese

The nice thing is being able to wear a flower wreath: women wear wreaths from any flowers, grasses or leaves, men usually wear large wreaths made of oak leaves.

Fresh midsummer strawberries

Latvians have names days and celebrate them even more than birthdays. June 23 is the day when Jānis has the name’s day. Jānis (we say this not with an English “J”, but like in “young”, just with long “a”). Many Latvian men are given a name “Jānis”. It said 58, 400 men will celebrate their name’s day this year, meaning, they all have name “Jānis” and wear the big oak wreath. “Jānis” in Latvian mythology was supposed to be the God’s son who rides around during this night and blesses fields, meadows, forests and homes: brings fertility, abundance and good luck.

Latvian Midsummer caraway seed cheese

The Midsummer cheese, Midsummer wreath and Midsummer bonfire are all round to honor the Sun and to celebrate its victory over night. Nights are very short around this time in Latvia, there are only few darker hours between 12 and 3 pm, and afterwards the light returns.

Young and not that young couples are going to look for the blossom of a fern. Ferns according to the Latvian mythology are blossoming only during this night, only in rare places, and not everybody can find or see these blossoms. The folk-song says: all flowers were blossoming; only the fern did not. It was blossoming on the Midsummer night with golden blooms.

Ligo 7

Midsummer is the moment of full blooming when the beauty becomes so obvious that it is impossible not to notice it, when love is so close that it becomes touchable. It is a time of fertility in the nature and among humans. It is a time when human becomes a part of the nature again, forgets about civilization, its rules, limitations and restrictions. The Midsummer night is wild in its purest form.

Folk-song adapted to song festival

Just like thousands years ago, a clear and loud “Līgo!” goes up to the sky, and lakes, rivers, hills, forests, fields and meadows respond with an echo. This is believed to be the most magical night when everything is possible and everything can come true.

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