Massive Clean Out!



I always thought about myself as a bit of a minimalist. I love minimalistic interiors - the zen places where it is easy to relax. I like it when the small things in my home are hidden away from view and are in their right places leaving my surroundings more spacious and free of clutter. I think it is simply easier to live this way - you save energy of being frustrated about the mess around you and the need to constantly clean it up.

But if I REALLY think of it, I am still very far from being able to call myself a true minimalist. That is because I own too many things.

A while ago a friend of mine was moving houses. Because he rents and because he was moving far away and had limited resources he decided that he would only need to take with him the items which he has been using over the last 6 months. He got rid of the rest - of most of his things really. And you know, he called it a very refreshing experience. Let me tell you, his move was very easy. He realized how much stuff he had accumulated which he was keeping for no reason whatsoever. He sold or gave things away. He said he got some money he channeled to better purposes or simply helped people who were in need of things he was not anymore using.

In the West we live in a society which suffers from an extreme case of consumerism. We keep buying things because we believe we need them, but is this really the case? Worst of all we fall into this vicious circle - we believe we need to WORK to be able to buy and maintain all these things - all these things we do not really need.

I have recently come across The 100 Things Challenge book and got inspired to revisit my relationship with things and do a clean out of my space and also my world. I give myself time till May 1, that's 2 weeks worth of effort.

Within the next 2 weeks I will proceed with the following 3 steps:

1) Space Clean Out

The plan is to go through all my things (clothes, cosmetics, books, CDs, household appliances, etc) and get rid of the ones I no longer use. I need to end up with really useful things I need, things that inspire me and bring joy. Storing them away doesn't count! They need to be sold on e-bay, given away or simply thrown into the bin. Bearing in mind every single thing not only occupies a bit of space but takes away a bit of my energy, I should definitely regain loads in the end!!
Rule number 1 is: Do not buy new things if the old ones can still serve you well (Why do you need 7 pairs of jeans or 5 bottles of perfume??)
Rule number 2 is: Buy good quality products which will serve you longer. Yes, this is the case when you save by spending more once.

2) To-Do List Clean Out

Remember how long you were planning to finish that book for? How long you were promising to visit your friends who moved, but never found the time? Become a sponsor for pet charity? And never found the time to go do it? How many of similar activities were accumulating in my to-do list making it long, heavy and later almost unbearable to carry. The time has come to decide what to do. There are 2 options: 1) go and do it 2) decide not to do it at all and cross it out of your to-do list. It's time to stop carrying all that load of the uncompleted tasks!

3) My Environment Clean Out

Clean out of my environment - look at all the unhealthy relations which have a negative impact on my life. Finish all the interactions which bring negative effect on me. For the ones where there are potential misunderstandings - initiate dialogue to resolve them. Lear to say 'no' when the situation requires. Allow yourself to be 'ungrateful', 'crazy' or 'not well behaved' if that is the price for freedom.

So that's for starters - I will provide updates on my progress here on this blog.

I realize I'm being slightly hypocritical talking about minimalism here. I'm a privileged white female with income and savings. That’s an easy position to be in to get rid of the things you don't need. I have the luxury of being able to buy the food I need or walk into a restaurant to have it made for me, while so many people in the world need to stock up large volumes of food to be able to afford eating in principle. I also have a credit card to fall back on in an emergency while most people in this world do not.

I have funds to survive and that’s an enormous privilege. Nonetheless, I recently feel that all these things are dragging me down and weigh me down me instead of giving me freedom to spread my wings. I still feel the lifestyle of less is better than the endless consumerism we suffer from where buying and hoarding stuff (which doesn’t make us happy) has now become standard.


My List Of Incredibilities



This is an exercise and an experiment I learned about just not very long ago during the time I took 'Leaving your Comfort Zone Course'. The idea is to come up with your own 'list of incredibilities'.

A list of incredibilities is a (long) list of desired events which you think would never happen to you. So these are pretty much 'miracles' which you'd love to experience but do not believe you can - like a trip around the world, or a house in Bali or a date with - say - Jon Kortajarena.

So take a sheet of paper (open a blank screen), relax, give yourself a complete freedom and knock yourself out - write them all down! Aaaallll of them!! There is nothing to worry about - they are incredibilities after all! Let your imagination loose!

The next step is to share your list with your friends or close ones. Because if you do not let the Universe know about your list, how do you even hope they might come true? An option for the really brave ones is to share the list on their blog or in social networks - so that as many people as possible could see it (this would increase the chances for the incredibilities actually happening).

IMPORTANT: if you notice you are editing things based on who will see the list, stop immediately and rewrite! 100% honesty with yourself is the key thing here!

The exercise itself already helps you to realize a good couple of things about yourself, don't you think? :)

Now, reread.

You will see that actually you could make many of the items on the list come true. Possibly, there are even items you could complete by yourself within the near future without any help from outside. Are there such items in your list? If so, go make those things happen. Soon!

If you don't have any such items in the list - choose at least the ones for which you know where you could start. What we need are first steps. Apparently this is where the magic happens. From the time you make your first wish come true, you will start making connections, you will find yourself in the right circumstances, useful coincidences will happen. But your actions need to come first. This is the list's activation if you want.

And yes, it is a bit like magic and we might not know how this works. But if it does work - who cares?

So here goes (drum roll...),(not to say I'm not scared of sharing the whole thing, but here I jump)...

Ladies and Gentlemen, the list of Olga's incredibilities:

0) Discover your essence, your inner purpose
1) Become a freelancer, with work completely independent from location
2) Quit my old boring job
3) Move to work in Bali
4) Become a digital nomad - being able to work from and travel to any location
5) Travel through South East Asia
6) Become an online entrepreneur
7) meet a business partner
8) Publish your articles
9) Publish a book
10) Your website has more than 1000 visitors per day
11) Write lots every day (3000 words per day)
12) Learn to write quickly and derive pleasure from it
13) You will receive a freelance job offer
14) Travel around the world
15) create a new cool website
16) learn Wordpress
17) Learn to code!
18) Visit Costa Rica
19) Cruise in the Caribbean
20) Visit Mauritius
21) Go to Madagascar!
22) Win lottery :)
23) My articles will be loved by the readers
24) Spend a month in New York
25) Go to the Antarctics
26) I will come up with a couple of brilliant ideas for short stories
27) Go hiking in Iceland
28) Visit Thailand
29) Go to South Africa
30) Visit Kruger Park
31) Do the bungee jump
32) Go to Australia
33) Write for a respected paper
34) Go to Cuba (before it is too late...)
35) Move to another part of London
36) road-trip in the West part of the US
37) Go back to India
38) Visit an Ashram
39) Do something that brings purpose
40) Find like-minded individuals and work together
41) Learn to take really good quality photos
42) Spend some time in Amsterdam
43) Swim with whale sharks
44) Dive in the caves again
45) Travel through South America
46) Spent time in Porto and explore Northern Portugal
48) bring up Lidia to be a curious and open individual
49) find inner peace

P.S. I created this list a couple of weeks ago, in my notebook, with a HUGE intention to share it. But immediately after life got super busy and with our travels to Dubai, me finishing the course, Lidia's illness and us going to Poland it took me a while to share it. I still need to tell you that already one of the points above came true - we are going to spend some time in Amsterdam together with our close friends and their little daughter in June.

Either way, let see how this magic thing works - I will keep you guys updated!

LIVING ON THE EDGE - PART 3.

Social Experiment: How I spent 2 weeks outside my comfort zone



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My 'Getting out of your comfort zone' project has come to an end. It is a pity in many ways - we grew very close with many participants and working together as a group made a huge difference - never ever did I get such great support and inspiration. And I will miss being this focused - the project's timeframes kept me well motivated and organized.

The biggest lesson I learned from this programme perhaps is the fact that if I focus on a goal and take consecutive steps in its direction for at least 2 weeks in a row I can achieve HUGE results. I almost couldn't believe that during these two weeks I've done things I've been planning to do for years, but was postponing them for various reasons, waiting for a 'better moment'.

Things happened for me when I overcame my fears. During these 2 weeks

- I have written my first ever short story and took a leap and shared it with the audience for feedback. And I got lots! People actually not only took their time to read the story - but to analyse it in great detail. I could never expect anything similar - it was a huge encouragement and their critique was extremely helpful.
- I have met with other writers in my borough and learned there is nothing scary about calling myself an 'aspiring writer'. That I'm not the only one attempting to write in a foreign language. And that like-minded people can give you a very positive drive! I am meeting them again this week this time to share my story and hear their thoughts.
- I have written an article and dared to send it to a number of publications - let's see what happens next.
- I have restarted this blog, and gave it a tiny makeover. Doing this made me realise how much I'd missed it!
- I have signed up for the writing camp at NaNoWriMo in April and just can't wait to benefit from close work with like-minded people again.
- I have joined the gym and go there every working day during lunch break now. It feels gooood :) And my initial target of 30 swimming pool's lengths currently stands at 40 and I'm not stopping there!

One of the most important things I got out of this game, was understanding that it is absolutely necessary to share my plans and dreams with other people. Previously I was more of a I-will-tell-people-when-I've-already-made-it kind of girl. The universe needs to know about my plans and goals, because this is the way I can get the support and can share ideas. During the recent couple of years I’ve learned my lesson - without the support and participation of others I'm not getting much further ahead. People shared so many useful things with me after they leaned about my dream and their support still keeps me going.

You are probably guessing what I will tell you next. Yes, all magic happens outside of your comfort zone. Your development is there too. And the best people you will ever meet are there as well. And all the new places and new people will become your comfort zone in the end. In fact it will happen rather soon.

As I continue the journey outside my comfort zone my adventure becomes more and more fascinating every day. I am starting to make bigger steps towards freedom. And I can't wait to see what will happen next because my personal experiment is not over yet.

Acknowledgements: 'Getting out of your comfort zone' is a project led by Svetlana Pokrevskaya on her blog (in Russian). This post has been inspired by her articles.

LIVING ON THE EDGE - PART 2.

Social Experiment: How I spent 2 weeks outside my comfort zone


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This post is a continuation of the social experiment on leaving your comfort zone I'm currently being a part of.
The idea of the game is based on the players taking a closer look at our daily behaviours to identify what it is that makes us uncomfortable and overcome it - yes, by doing it more often. As simple as that - gradually turning the zone of our discomfort into our comfort zone, widening our personal boundaries, working on our current limitations.

I was responsible for coming up with a 2-week strategy on how I would do this. My plan was simple - every day get out of your comfort zone. I made a list of things to do which included items ranging from talking to strangers (even if to ask the time) to going somewhere alone and saying 'no'. I topped my plan off with some healthy practices I wanted to make a part of my routine but never got down to doing -I finally signed up for the gym and started to wake up earlier.
The project gradually became my motivation. I made my goals public to other participants and had to report on the progress every second day. The results came along unexpectedly quickly.

Back in the days of my inner struggle and lack of self-worth - before I started to play with my comfort zone - I found a perfect course run by a group of enthusiasts on a tropical island. The course aimed at helping the participants transition out of a boring job to doing what they love. No matter how ideally it suited my situation there was no way how I could afford it, not to mention the cost of the flight. While I was still working on finalizing my goals for the comfort zone game I got a contest notification into my mailbox. Guess what the main prize was? The winner got to attend my dream course for free. On condition of publishing a video of herself telling a story, sharing it on social media and getting voted for. The person who collected the most votes would win the course.

I will just say that it was extremely hard to overcome my fears, the shyness of being on camera, the inability to make and edit videos, to talk to the audience, fears of not being voted for - they were countless! The only reason which made me make that video was the promise to myself I had made - every day to get out of my comfort zone. And I did it. I made the video and posted it before I could delete it. And it wasn’t even the hardest thing. The hardest was getting in touch with several hundreds of my friends asking them to vote for me and telling them – yes, I want to change my job, in fact I am going to change my life! And it all paid off - I won the course.

At first it was hard to get out of my comfort zone and I had to remind myself I need to do it at least once a day. Then I learned how to do it differently - I started to analyse my responses to situations. Is it because I'm busy that I do not want to go to this new place? Tired? Or is it me being afraid? If I was completely honest with myself in 99% of cases it was the latter. So I mercilessly directed myself towards the source of my fears. When you approach the matter consciously and understand where the discomfort is coming from it becomes much easier to handle it, as you understand that the fears are artificial and there is nothing really to be afraid of. Nothing terrible can happen. While something amazing just might. And most probably it will!

I have one more week to go withe the project... It's a tough game we play! Come back here soon to find out the results of the experiment.

Acknowledgements: 'Getting out of your comfort zone' is a project led by Svetlana Pokrevskaya on her blog (in Russian). This post has been inspired by her articles.

LIVING ON THE EDGE - PART 1.

Social Experiment: How I spent 2 weeks outside my comfort zone


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Recently I've become increasingly unhappy with where my life was going. At first I couldn't get it, I just couldn't find the reason. When I looked at it - everything seemed fine. I have a good education, an interesting job, loving family, financial stability, good work-life balance. Yet my life seems pretty... well, ordinary.

I kept thinking about it and tried to analyse what it is that I am missing... Where have the butterflies gone? I realised I do not remember when was the last time I was looking forward to getting up in the morning.. Remember how when you were a child you never wanted to go to sleep, how you were waiting impatiently for the next day's arrival? And as soon as you woke up the next morning and opened your eyes - you jumped out of bed and rushed to meet it? How life was interesting and exciting? How you enjoyed every second? I don't remember it that much now.

I thought it was high time to look at myself from within. And admit how many internal issues and complexes I have, how all of them elaborately intertwine with my many fears and unaccomplished plans and prevent me from living to the fullest. Worst of all I got used to staying within my comfort zone so much, that doing something a little uncomfortable became a major issue. I often simply decided not to do it. It was much easier to say - I am just unlucky (a sociopath, too young, too old, too afraid, had a difficult childhood, this is not my thing, it won't work, I shouldn't go against my nature, I'm too busy - select all that apply).

My inner struggle at its peak, I stumbled upon this online project - or rather a game - titled 'Get out of your comfort zone. Now.' 'This is for me!' - I thought, and signed up for it immediately - before my mind embarked on overanalysing it and having any second thoughts..

I will keep posting about my progress here as the game unfolds. Stay tuned.

Acknowledgements: 'Getting out of your comfort zone' is a project led by Svetlana Pokrevskaya on her blog (in Russian). This post has been inspired by her articles.

The Only Time An Artist Fails Is When He Stops Working

No fear.

You are what you believe you are, and then do what you’re led to do, “your calling,”and if you aren't doing it, that’s when you fail, never when you’re actually doing it. No work of art is ever going to be as great or the same as all others, or as bad either. But if you aren't reaching for it at all, when you let someone or the whole of humanity steal that dream of your work, block your vision, hold you back even a little from what’s been given to you at birth, and likely long before, that’s when you've failed miserably.

Ironically, when you’re following your dreams and giving everything you have to them, there is no failure, there is no defeat, there is merely a journey to manifest something deep inside you, often hidden in your subconscious. The degree to which you fulfill your dreams is up to you, to how hard you’re willing to work at them, to how fiercely you’re willing to focus on them. But the first thing you must do is never let anyone steal them from you. You must have iron rhino skin and a determination as impregnable as Fort Knox. And then you won’t be daunted by anything or anybody.

via Medium

Acknowledgements: 'Getting out of your comfort zone' is a project is led by Svetlana Pokrevskaya on her blog (in Russian).

Designed

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Photo by Alex Webb


work madness and fluffy guinea pig happiness, foggy mornings and last autumn leaves, natural disasters and friendly reunions, misty grey, sterling blue and cosmic purple, big bug necklaces and Мастер и Маргарита, after work delights and Cartier-Bresson, Odile or Odette?, the month of mOVEMBER and the dream of Mexico, 41th floor view of London and no more eating animals.


What are your plans for this weekend? I've not got much on my mind apart from sleeping, being lazy, having pajama coffees, hitting the Tate Modern and Design museum..

Have a good weekend and smile - you're designed to!

Take a Bite

I've been looking forward to this for a while - a walk in the Central park, an evening at the Met, a day at the Metropolitan museum of art, getting to know the Greenwich Village, and Harlem maybe?.. oh, and taking pics of those fire escapes.

It's been a while since I've been to NY. I'd like to rediscover it. I know it will look, feel and taste different.

The below for me is the quintessence of how I remember and imagine NYC ('cause now it's more of 'imagine' than 'remember', i guess). Let's see if this turns out any different.

Do you have any tips? What is worth doing in NY in mid-December? What sort of vibe does it convey?

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If you are looking for a flight to New York - check this page out.

Good Morning!

Good morning to you wherever you are, whatever you are doing. Make a stop to enjoy some minutes of calm Sunday morning, without rush, without thinking what needs to be done, without planning ahead.

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Photos by Arek

Celebration Of Life

Last weekend, somewhere to the West of London. Very cute newly born american coot chicks - learning how to swim.

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Photos by Olga&Arek

Notting Hill

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Some photos from the trip to ... Notting Hill. Yep, one needs to use one's travel limitations to one's benefit. I was never the one to talk much about the country I live in - I could usually go on about the country I've been to for hours instead. It seems it's the time to change.. :)

So here is Notting Hill - or rather its popular Portobello Road area - in spring, when the weather is still chilly but the greenery is already in full bloom. On Saturdays Portobello Road turns into a Market, one of London's notable street markets, known for its second-hand clothes and antiques.

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One of my favourite London clothes shops AllSaints Spitalfields was founded right here in Notting Hill.

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Portobello market also offers a great choice of good food and is a good place for coffees - I even managed to find some sweets from the chocolate factory from my native town in the Russian shop here - can you imagine?

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Spring is definitely the best season in the UK. It's climate gives the plants such a huge potential to grow - I have never seen such a variety and multitude of plants anywhere - including exotic ones - growing just like that in the middle of the street, park or passage - seemingly without any effort or help from outside. And if they do get help - they turn into magnificent gardens I will never get tired of taking pictures of. We are invited to a flower show this weekend(!), so I will definitely be posting some pictures of that soon.

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All photos by Olga&Arek

Scottish wilderNESS

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stunning Durness beaches

Scotland
in March. Harsh and windy, wild and seemingly unexplored. In some distant way reminded me of Iceland, but it has its own different and unique beauty. The signs reminding of its Celtic heritage are omnipresent and are tightly interwoven with Scotland's culture and tradition.

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the gorgeous highland cow

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on the way to Tongue

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somewhere between Tongue and Durness

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Lotte Glob's amazing studio at Loch Eriboll

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Lotte Glob's amazing studio at Loch Eriboll

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Smoo cave

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Smoo cave

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the view from the cosy Graineag Bed&Breakfast on Loch Ness

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Loch Ness

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<3 <3 <3

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Eilean Donan castle

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The Isle of Skye

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The Isle of Skye

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Glen Coe
All photos by Olga&Arek except the 2nd photo

Here comes the map of our Scotland roadtrip:


View Scotland Roadtrip in a larger map