Friday, December 30, 2011

Last of 2011

What to say?

It was a kick-ass year
Nothing more, nothing less.

And still the last days of 2011 brought surprises I wouldn't have expected and insanity that will continue in 2012...

I've been meaning to somehow sum it up but that will take a bit more time and a lot more writing.

However, as it is the last post of 2011, some wishes for 2012 are in order.

Here they go then: 

Do NOT complicate life. 

Take it as it comes. 

Do not force anything or anyone. 

Believe the path you're on is the right one. If you feel it's not, CHANGE it.

Love, laugh and let live.


That's what I wish to all and each one of you, myself included!



Monday, December 26, 2011

Best Christmas ever!

Christmas is so many things.
For those truly religious, the time to rejoice and celebrate their savior’s birth.
For the kids, the time to impatiently await the end of Christmas Eve dinner* to see what Santa has brought them.
For non-Christians, the little time off they get on account of ‘believers’.
For others, me included, mostly the time to see and enjoy their families.

Even on Friday I couldn’t believe it was already Christmas time. Nothing seemed right – the weather outside so autumn like, the presents not ready, for the 1st time in 24 years I didn’t have a longer holiday to enjoy the atmosphere but only Monday off and then back to work. I was talking to some other 20 something year-olds and we agreed the magic of Christmas was gone. All the emotions and feelings it used to evoke in us are somehow not there anymore. And then came Christmas Eve dinner, the First Day of Christmas lunch & dinner followed and the magic was back, full on. Yes, it was different magic than what it used to be when I was 6 or 7, of which I was reminded while watching a little cousin of mine so impatient for the dinner to finish so she could see just how well-behaved she was that year. Seeing her immense joy when it turned out the biggest boxes were for her, the light in her eyes as she was struggling to carry them from under the Christmas tree to a room where she’d actually have space to open them up.

But it was magic like never before, because I’ve finally grown up enough to understand and appreciate it. We were 12 in a little room on Saturday evening. And somewhere out there, within 10 minutes from where we were celebrating, about 15 other family members were beginning their Christmas dinners, giving each other their best and most sincere wishes, singing carols, getting stuffed with barszcz, pierogi, karp… We’ve never had a Christmas like this – basically the whole close family on my mother’s side still living in Poland gathered in her hometown, Oława (a little town outside of Wrocław). My parents, grandparents, grandma’s sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins with wives and kids, we all spread out over 4 flats and just kept on circulating and changing hosts. It all came to an end last night when all 21 of us sat down by one table (well, ok – 3 tables put together and chairs brought down from different flats) in a room we could barely move around in anymore, stuffed ourselves with some more homemade deliciousness, sang carols with my little 3,5 year old Godson as the leading voice, drank vodka, wondered if we were cousins or uncles and nieces or however else we ‘should’ call ourselves. 4 generations enjoying the time we were blessed to be given to spend together. I’ve no doubt that the amount of love and affection in that room would have cured any Grinch.

Oh, and seeing that my photo blog has reached more than
10 000 entries was a nice little present as well :)


*In Poland we unpack presents of the evening of 24th.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dreams

I guess you already know I'm big on dreams.
Dreaming, 
making dreams reality, 
dreaming some more, 
encouraging others to dream 
and 
helping anyone and everyone we can to get closer to what they dream of.

I've recently heard from someone very close to me that they didn't have any dreams.
I don't believe that.
I refuse to believe that.

I do believe sometimes we can get so caught up with our professional/family lives that we belive our dreams impossible, however big or small they might be, to a point where we don't even consider those thoughts dreams any more. We see them as mere curiosities and never act on them. 
And it's the worst thing we can do.






However, just dreaming won't do the trick.
You gotta want it and you gotta work for it. 
And if you do, you will find your end of the rainbow. 
Many ends. The more, the better!


So what are your dreams?
And what will you do next to make them happen?



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Feels like home

Arrived in Brussels after 20 hours on the road. It was cold, windy and rainy - a fact I've already managed to forget about this city.


Let's say that the first two days were totally different than I'd have imagined, although they had their highlights as well - fries!, buying Kapuscinski's book in French for 2.5€ (you just gotta love Pele-Mele!), catching up with Ania who's been here as an intern for the EP the last couple of weeks, walking to Grand Platz and feeling teary eyed once I saw the Town Hall and its surroundings.


And then yesterday the cards changed completely and it was a most perfect day - an early afternoon with the ever so inspiring Eva, whom I met a couple of years back in a dance school I used to partially live in in Brussels (12 to 14 of hours weekly makes you feel you live there), arriving at Vincenzo's place who's my host for two nights (Ania's friend but also a CSer) and being cooked a great Carbonara, having a most interesting conversation and suddenly seeing it's snowing! The first real snow I've had this year and I'm in Brussels!!! (universe really gives us what we need when we need it - I don't think anything else could have made me so happy and blissful)
Sooo, we embark on a walk to the Old Town, arrive there to be completely blown away by how beautiful it is. The music, the snow, the light, the architecture... Wait a second, did someone say music? Yes, we start dancing around the Christmas tree! And that's what we saw, whenever we lifted our heads up (which was like all the time):




After getting completely soaked and freezing we moved on to St. Catherine, which is THE best place for me in December. 




For 3 years in a row I would come here almost every day to go ice skating and it has become an integral part of my Christmas experience. Haven't done the ice-skating part yet 'cause the ice was in very bad condition, but I still hope I'll manage today!


Next thing on the agenda? The wheel! Turns out Vincenzo, who's been here for the last 3 years has never gone on it! Thus, we happily board one of the booths and enjoy the beautiful square with Brussels in the background and snow in our faces.





As we're going around on the wheel I hear Vince say: Oh, churros! so as soon as we get off and pass a churros booth I ask him if he wants some, only to find out he's never had those! So it's decided and we munch on delicious-sugary-warm-donut-like churros. Heaven!


We end up on Grand Platz again to stand in awe some more 10 minutes. Yes, I know you're thinking we must be very boring but the truth is, I could spend a whole evening standing there and staring at the changing lights, weren't my shoes so easily soaked... But tell me, could you be immune to this?








To end with a bang, Vince has taken me to a cocktail bar I've immediately fallen in love with. I think I was too cold to think straight at the time, so didn't take any photos and it's a shame cause that's exactly the kinda place I thought Brussels was missing. Plus, their fruit drinks are really tasty!


Today is planning out to be a cool day as well... The red light district, chocolate shopping, eating out, making Grand Platz dance with us, meeting old friends, going out together with both old and new friends...
Ladies and gentleman, Brussels rocks!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beeless

Am about to start my journey to Brussels in a couple of minutes and it hit me it was my first trip in 14 months without the Bee Dress on board. I already feel lonely.

But wait, I hear you ask yourselves, why did she say she was embarking on a journey to Brussels? Isn't it just a 2 hour flight away?
Well, it is my friends. If you're a sane person.

I know they say bad decisions make for good stories, so what I'm about to tell you should result in the most awsome stories you've heard so far, although I somehow doubt it will... As I was saying, a sane person would just book a flight from Warsaw.
Magu would book a flight from Wroclaw, because she would be hoping she'd manage to interview an Asian or two for her column before hopping on that plane. Thus, she'd have to travel on a night train from Warsaw, have to kill time before 6am and 2pm when she'd get on the plane to Charleroi, land there at 4pm and be in Brussels itself by about 6pm. Total count? 20 hours on the road.
As you probably already know, it is no theory. That's what Magu did.

To make things more fun (why do I always do this to myself? why can't I sometimes make things easier instead of out-of-this-world-complicated-for-no-proper-reason?) I didn't come home last night and kinda did a shot (one, of course) too many when I was out. So today after work I had to do everything, plus fight a horrible headache.
And I don't think the 7.5 hour train ride is gonna make me feel any better...

Okay!
So, now that I've bitched about everything there was to bitch about and dissed myself a couple of times, let me just tell you that otherwise I'm on fire.
2012 is gonna kick 2011 where the sun don't shine! :D

And now I really have to go.

Bye.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Creativity

One of the things my friends seem to say about me most, is that I'm creative. I like to think that about myself as well.

A little something I bumped into today, which would seem to explain why it is so.


I do all 29!*


What are your ways to stay creative?

*Well, the coffee drinking part not so much but latte's not that bad ;)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What is happiness?

Going to sleep at night knowing that no alarm clock will go off in the morning.

Sleep tight friends! 
I know I will :)


Saturday, December 10, 2011

High on positive exhaustion

Put together the (most fortunate!) lack of strong will and really cool friends and what you'll get is a totally exhausting, yet most positive and heart warming couple of days.

Put a handicraft market, a radio interview, my dance class, a birthday party, seeing a friend after over a year, dancing your butt off in a club together and you have an idea of my last Saturday.
Put a visit to a friend's place in the outskirts of Warsaw for a motivational talk, a CS foodies' meeting and picking up Paula who's come down here for a couple of days, going shopping and going back to the 70s/80s in Pewex in the Pavilons together and you'll see what Sunday had in store.
Promise yourself that for a week you will act like a sane person and come back home straight from the office to work on all those things you need and want to work on, and you'll end up popping in for a friend's bday party to later eat a whole bowl of homemade pierogi (I just gotta love living with my aunt!), go to see a friend buy a dress to end up baking homemade pizza in another part of town, go out for the most expensive (but delicious!) ice-cream around with your parents (just for an hour) and get to know your dad's brother's in town so you end up coming back home 3 hours later than previewed, go to a meeting with an editor of one of the travel magazines to discover a nice restaurant with really tasty salads (Societe on Różana street, if anyone's wondering) and, more importantly, meet a person you want to be when you grow up ;) to later pop in for a strange event where, as long as you're a girl, you get free drinks and can savour some fruit with the addition of white melted chocolate from a fountain they prepared especially for you (made me think of Brussels and want it to be Wednesday already so much more!), go ice skating for the first time this year (sic!) by the Palace of Science and Culture, go present hunting and then for an interesting Polish-French coffee meeting in a cosy cafe in Warsaw's old Jewish district... Pffew, makes me tired to even write it all down! 
(Not to mention the full time job I still somehow manage to keep ;) )


Speaking of which, we've put up a Christmas tree in the office, my boss made us all Egyptian burrito for lunch today, the other boss has confessed her love for us and I have definitely gained two new good friends - I think I might have been really lucky with that job, regardless of whatever difficulties I face on daily basis. I really like going there even if it has to be every day and means I'll be sitting by the computer for 8 hours, half of the time trying hard not to be frustrated. How cool is that?


I'm also beginning to believe the world wants me to make the best use of whatever 2011 has still on offer, as the past 2 weeks have been more creative than sometimes months can be. As usual, friends were being their supportive and inspirational selves, so I'm high on everyone's energy. Ideas have been flowing through my head with the speed of light* and luckily I was smart enough to a) write most of them down and b) act! Have a couple of aces down my sleeve (hopefully), just need to find the time to actually work on those winning cards...



Oh, and a cool video for a great end of the week:




Laugh and the world will laugh with you!



*
Speaking of which, you might want to drop in here to check out a friend's new movie project. I'm so happy the guys have already reached their original goal but together with everyone else, I'm hoping they'll gather a lot more $ to finance additional stuff. If you're a fan of the arts and sci-fi, please support them!



Friday, December 2, 2011

Magic week

I've searched the blog but it seems I still haven't shared the 'magic week' theory with you. As I'm experiencing one right now, I think it's a great opportunity to do so. My friend Weronika shared her curious observation with me in the middle of October. 

There was a week where I got my current job, I got approached by a Dutch travel magazine to quote one of my blog posts in their article, I got the opportunity to teach dance and a couple of other smaller thingies. I was at her place when I got the Dutch journalist's email and that's when she decided to share her theory with me. Basically, there are those weeks every now and then, when only good things happen to me. Only very good things, which change a lot in my life. I started laughing at first, but then she said she had seen that happen before, in June. She gave me examples - I quit a job with this not-so-great boss, I won some $ on FB with my dance video, I bought my tickets to fly to Iceland, went to Sicily for a weekend and got accepted as a volunteer in Roskilde (each thing would be happening on a consecutive day of the week, for a week). I decided to take it further and try to trace it back, assuming 4 months would be the period in between those weeks (June to October). It took me back to February/March - totally true! There was one week in the beginning of March which was totally crazy and kinda seems like a cool dream, where every day brought something new and amazing. Then 4 months back again and we're in November - true again! Having a very rewarding AIESEC week and meeting my future Indian boss. Go 4 months back and we're in August - again, a craazy AIESEC week, with every night being better than the previous one, encounters that have changed a lot in my life and resulted in my huge first trip to Asia!

A couple minutes of searching through my memories and I became a firm beliver of the magic week theory! We counted it forwards and decided the next one should come around in February. But guess what? It's early! 

Monday - I get hooked up with a complimentary 5* hotel night for NYE in Cracow.
Tuesday - I have one of the most creative and self-confidence boosting conversations in months, which actually might lead somewhere really interesting and lifechanging.
Wednesday - I get my first full salary ;) But most importantly, I celebrate with my parents - it's their 26th wedding anniversary!
Thursday - I make a (hopefully) huge step towards being published. About travelling! Regularly!
Friday - I'm walking to work thinking to myself  'C'mon magic week, what more could you possibly bring me today?'. I check my inbox and find an invitation to appear on a radio audition tomorrow (stay tuned on Radio dla Ciebie, 13:00-13:00)!



Can you spot your magic weeks? Do you make sure to appreciate them properly?

Are you a believer?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Changes of the mind, changes of the heart

Lots of thinking and talking and thinking recently.

Topics varying from relationships or freelancing, through cheating, emigration, attraction, investment and finance, all the way to resetting mindsets, lifechanging decisions and knitting.

.     .      .     .     .

The job's been going well, I think. Sometimes really hectic and with afterhours, sometimes slower with time stretching immensly and with my turning into the office cook when I start making lunch for everybody. 
Being a PA means doing very diverse task, that's for sure. Everyone asks me what it is I do and I guess now I more or less know the range of my responsibilities, although I'm still being surprised all the time. Today f.e. I found out I will be in charge of our website (so got some learning to do - it took me 10minutes to upload new pictures by one of the hotel descriptions and give them a freaking baby blue frame.. ). But generally - I translate a lot, write inqiries and correspond with our partners, both domestic and international (be it travel agents, airlines, hotels, press & media, clients, tourism boards), prepare offers and itineraries, attend meetings, run the website (apparently). Might have forgotten a thing or two, but you get the picture.
My contract ends this year, it was a 3month trial period after all, and in complete honesty, I do not know if they will want to sign a normal contract with me or not. Let's see how things go.

.     .      .      .      .

On the personal front - things have been busy as well. Living in the Old Town is turning out to be quite disastrous to my pocket, but has reboosted my social life - going out everyday after work seems to have become a new routine of mine. Good thing - I've been discovering new cool places in Wrsaw. Bad thing - you gotta pay to get a taste of them, so to speak.
At the same time, however, I have this very strange feeling when I come back home at round 9pm and that's it - I've nothing else I should or must do. On the one hand, what an amazing thing- I get off work at 6-7pm and all the responsibilities for the day are done - no homework, no studying, no thesis to write (especially the last one seems to be the nightmare of virtually 80% of my friends at the moment). On the other, it's the first time in my Warsaw life ever, that I have just one thing to take care of (job). Normally, I always had a couple of different things - university, sports, dance, tutoring.. Now, even though I'm away from home for about 11-12 hours daily, I come back home and by the time the clock strikes 11pm it feels as if I've spent the whole day sitting there doing nothing. 

.     .     .     .     .

Have had a bit of a major mindset breakthrough last night. Remains to be seen if I decide to take that path or decide my old one was better. 

Oh, and yes - the sweater's doing great, thank you very much. I've finished the back part up to the point I have to have the front part and both sleeves ready, so I can start making the most important pattern on all of them at once, bringing them together to form what should look like a sweater. Hopefully. Soon-ish.

Also, somehow Christmas is not in my face yet, which I'm very happy about. Maybe it's because I don't go shopping and stay away from malls, but the only Xmas decoration I've seen so far was in Starbucks earlier this week. I hate being attacked by Xmas trees and Xmas bulbs too early - it totally kills any kind of a Christmas spirit. However, was most pleasantly surprised on my way back home tonight, when I smelled wood while entering the Old Town Square and then saw all the Xmas Market booths being brought in and positioned. Hating too much Xmas decoration too early, but can never get enough of Xmas markets! 
Oh, and especially the ones in Brussels and Aachen. Will get to experience the 1st one, the smells and tastes of the 2nd one will have to live on in my memories, I'm afraid.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Partially out of the nest

Obviously, the university drop out  that I am, I cannot afford to have my own place. Hell, I don't think I ever will, seeing how I don't intend on putting myself in debt for the rest of my life (at least in the forseeable future).

I can afford to rent a room, although I wasn't really going to - prices in Warsaw are crazy high considering an average person's salary. The thing is, we don't really have a choice but to pay those blood sucking flat owners what they demand. Unless..
Unless you have an aunt who has recently started living alone in a 2 room flat and is willing to rent out one of those for a third of what you would normally have to pay elsewhere. And if the said aunt happens to live in the best possible location in Warsaw, in the heart of the Old Town?
Well, then my friend, you're in for a treat!


Am super excited about staying here - finally in the middle of things, close to all the pubs, clubs and restaurants. Lots of energy, good vibration and the feel of the heart of the old city, instead of the heart of concrete communistic blocks of flats.


A 10 minute walk away from my yoga place and then another 10 minutes to the office. Turns out staying in Warsaw isn't that bad after all.



.     .     .     .     .

Oh, 
and my third interview is out. Don't know why but my editor really liked it when I sent it for proofreading. And I meant like really really. Originally, it was a bit different but as I did too much product placement without even 
realising it, I decided to cut some parts (which makes me think I'm not as talented as my editor seems to believe). But I do have to admit it still reads a lot better than the first one. Yay for progress!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Sweater challenge, part 1

My last project seems to have gained a lot of popularity those last two days.
Orders for hats and scarfs are coming in from countries all over the world. My answer?
DIY!
And so, in order to show you that you can do it yourselves, my dear friends, I will post the Ugliest Icelandic Sweater In The World (later referred to as UISITW) behind the scenes diaries.


Day 1, 13.11.11


First, you make a small sample on the wool you're gonna use. One, it will give you an idea of how difficult it is to knit with it (very in this case..). Two, you'll see how many stitches you have to do to get the right size (measure yourself; count how many stitches you have in your sample; measure the sample; calculate how many stitches you need to get the desired length).






Next, start the first stitches. It was actually the most annoying and unnerving part of the whole process, I think. The wool's really delicate and kept on ripping all the time. I was so proud to have my 86 stitches ready for next rows!






If you're stupid enough to want a pattern, you'll have to learn how to knit with two (or however many colours you'll need) yarns at the same time. Not the easiest thing to be doing, although this seems to be the easiest pattern available. Don't even wanna think about how I'll be cursing once I get to the snowflake pattern around the chest..






Voila.


.     .      .     .      .


Anyone brave enough to take up the challenge (needles) and knit with me? 



Sunday, November 13, 2011

A journey of a single sweater begins with a thousand stitches.*

Icelandic sweater is a funny thing.

The first time you see it, it's ugly.
The second time you see it, you start wondering what is wrong with those who wear it.
The third through the hundredth time you see it, you start wondering maybe there IS something about it.
The hundred and first time you see it, worn by a beautiful girl or by a cute guy clubbing in Reykjavik, you think hmmm not so bad after all.
After that, you just want one.

There comes a moment you enter one of those tourist shops to look at sweaters and that's what you do - after realising one would cost you about 150€, you just look at it and leave the store.
Then, and by that time you already need that sweater, you meet this cute American girl spending her evenings in a little town called Pingeyri knitting herself one, which costs her ten times less - the cost of wool. And so the moment you accidentaly stumble accross a wool store in Isafjordur, you're hooked - you're knitting yourself a damn sweater! 

You buy the wool. 
The wool hitchhikes through Iceland with you. 
Then it takes a ferry to Denmark with some Polish dudes you meet a day before you leave the island (kinda problematic to fit everything in you 30l backpack and have it ready for the Rayanair crew 'one piece of luggage' verification).
After a month long trip in France and Spain you hitchhike from Frankfurt to Warsaw and stop in Poznan, to pick the wool up (which later has you hitchhiking from the middle of the highway praying for your life; it also has you taking photos with your GPS camera, so that your dad tells you how many kms you have to walk alongside the road to reach the next gas station..).
The wool finally gets home and sits in the closet for 2 months, cause you don't have time to learn how to knit.

And finally, there comes a day (yesterday) when you decide enough is enough and you pick up those scary needles and get on with it.
The plan is to have the sweater ready in a month's time, so that it can keep me warm during my trip to Brussels. Everyone, my mum included, says it's kinda impossible, especially that I want some patterns around it (what would an Icelandic sweater be without the Icelandic patterns, I ask you!). 
Challenge accepted! 
 

A sample I was learning on yesterday. The only unfortunate thing is that the wool I need to start knitting with is much thinner and not spun so tightly, making it a lot more difficult and needing me to be a lot more careful with what I do. But hey, nobody said it was gonna be easy..

Alright then, off I go to knit!



*You inspire me, Jim! ;)


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Independence Day celebrations (?)

Everything was looking out quite well. 
The day was chilly but unexpectedly sunny, with beautifully coloured autumn leaves falling down left and right and forming a most amazing yellow-red-orange carpet in the parks all around town.

I met with Fer, a Spanish friend's boyfriend who's currently on an internship in a Polish town called Lublin, and wanted to see Warsaw on our National Day. We went to pick up Mauro, an Italian CSer who'd just come to Warsaw on a business trip and wrote me looking for a bit of local company for a couple of hours. Together we set off in the direction of the Old Town and the walk took us through Saski Park, where we got just in time to see a bit of the Independence Day parade by the Unknown Soldier's Tomb.


All the time we were walking there, I was feeling so positive and proud to be seeing the Polish Flag all over - traditionally street lamps and building entrances are decorated in white and red, but also people and cars carrying little flags, children using bigger ones as Superman-type caps, SuperPoles, if you will. Everyone rejoicing, celebrating the day Józef Piłsudzki was announced Commander-in-Chief over the Polish Forces - 123 years of occupation, partition and bloody fights were over, although the nation didn't get too much time to embrace their independence.. And it should be mentioned that Poland got to celebrate 11th of November openly only 24 times in its history! It was estabilished as a National Day in 1937 and got banned under German occupation (39-45), it was also illegal to celebrate it during the comunism era (45-89). Thus, we got our Independence Day in '37 and '38 and then from '89 till now. Not too much independence celebration for a centuries old nation, it would seem..


But back to the day at hand - so there I was going on about how great this day is, how Poles finally come together, stop complaining about their country and their countrymen. All was true till the moment I decided to take Fer for dinner in U Szwejka, a restaurant at the Constitution Square, where we got ourselves in the middle of riots started by, pardon my vocabulary, moronic imbeciles who instead of celebrating the freedom they can enjoy know, started demolishing the very city they find shelter in. Also, to make things worse, they invited our German neighbours to help them fight the police, beat up innocent people, throw bottles and bricks at anyone unlucky enough to be within their reach. We got gased and coughed a bit of our lungs out, almost got hit wth glass.
splashing in front of our feet.. I was so furious and embarrased I could only try to joke about it.













Why are people unable to create anything worthy so keen on destroying whatever anyone else has managed to achieve with their hard work and effort?




Thursday, November 10, 2011

Your booking has been successful





Any guesses? ;)


.     .     .     .     .

The company I work for has started a huge campaign today and this week's been quite busy. Actually, a lot busy - yesterday I was working almost non stop 9am - 11:20pm. At the office, on the tram back home, in my bed.. Today was just 9,5hrs at the office, so chill. Next week will probably be around 10hrs daily, although who knows?

I guess that's why I decided I'll have earned a short breather come December. A while back I had also promised myself I would get there before the end of this year - I want to meet some friends I haven't seen for ages, want to eat some food I've been craving for, want to go ice skating on my favourite ice rink.. Granted, I can't take too much leave but 4 days on the spot will be enough for me to enjoy what I've been missing so much. 

Oh, and I guess I'd better really enjoy it, as it will most probably be my last international trip in 2011. . Seems kinda unbelievable and a bit depressing but that's the life of a working gyal for ya!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Workshops. Sexy?

Yesterday was d-day for the workshops I've been talking about recently.
Here a little clip with the routine I taught.



And now a question to the guys: would you call this sexy?
(any tips for future choreos most welcome ;)