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Monday, 22 September 2014

Run Forest, Run!

Dear friends,

On the lovely day of 14th September - a week ago, Sunday morning - took place the Poland Business Run. Now if you do not live in Poland, you may not be familiar what this is. Working in a corporation in Poland would teach you fast what this run is all about ;) and having worked in 2 great corporation this far, I can safely say that I am aware of what it means. Poland Business Run is a charity business relay race with its third edition, that will start off at the same time in all the participating cities across Poland. It is a nationwide initiative with races that took place in: Krakow (of course), Poznan, Katowice, Lodz and Warsaw :)
The run combines the idea of helping others with the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and the fun. The goal of the initiative is to help the beneficiaries of Jasiek Mela's Beyond Horizons Foundation.
The foundation supports amputees whose lives have changed dractically due to an accident or a disease. They are often confined to wheelchairs, crutches or to poor quality prostheses. They have to face exclusion, financial difficulties. And they are often unable to accept the situation where they find themselves. Yet they never stop dreaming about a normal life within the society, and not on its outskirts. They dream or about continuing their education or returning to work. They dream about going out without fear, easily getting on a tram, going shopping, climbing up stairs, riding a bike, playing the ball, dancing, running... 
The mission of Poland Business Run is to make these dreams come true. We show our beneficiaries that the amputation is not the end of the world. Giving them new prostheses, we give them hope
As chairman of Jasiek Mela’s Beyond Horizons Foundation, Jan Mela says: "Poland Business Run lasts one day. This one day may change the lives of our beneficiaries. Your pair of legs is enough to participate in the run. Your pair of legs is enough to help someone."
 It all started a few years ago when Radisson Blu Hotel Krakow and UBS Service Center Krakow decided to join efforts to organise a run in Krakow. Other firms and partners followed soon and more cities joined shortly after. 
The first edition took place in Krakow in 2012. 1200 people took part. They managed to help one person then, a young woman, Justyna Topa. The fact that in 2013 there were already three races, Kraków Business Run, Poznań Business Run and Katowice Business Run, proves how fast an inspiring idea can spread. 
Thanks to the second edition of the run, they sponsored 10 prostheses and helped 8 people. It is lovely to see people run and with a reason - to help people in need :) 
 “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.”
Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
“The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running 
Look at me! I'm flying! :)
 “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”
Dean Karnazes
“All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”
Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running 
“I'm often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I'm running? I don't have a clue.”
Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running 
 “I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.”
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
“The reason we race isn't so much to beat each other,... but to be with each other.”
Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen 
“Some seek the comfort of their therapist's office, other head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.”
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner 
 “I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did: I run because it always takes me where I want to go.”
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
“I want to run. To do what I always do, have always done, for the last five years of my life. Escape, flee into the shadows. But this time, I stand my ground. I'm tired of running.”
Marie Lu, Prodigy
Is he/she coming or not? When is my turn?
Waiting for their turn & checking the time board
 “If you don't have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain't getting them.”
Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen 
Leave me alone... I'm tired...
 “The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.”
Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
 “People think I'm crazy to put myself through such torture, though I would argue otherwise. Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness. Dostoyevsky had it right: 'Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness.' Never are my senses more engaged than when the pain sets in. There is a magic in misery. Just ask any runner.”
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
“Running! If there's any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can't think of what it might be. In running the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.”
Joyce Carol Oates
 “Running is about finding your inner peace, and so is a life well lived.”
Dean Karnazes
I had a lovely Sunday and if I would love running for sure I would have joined in, and not be just a photographer. The issue is that I am not much of a runner and I am much too ashamed to exercise with such a large audience. I prefer my early morning pilates classes, I enjoy the sauna, I love the aqua gym and even though the most muscle shaped part of my body are the legs, I would still not do it. But I do admire people who run and I love watching them, cheering up and shouting out for my friends when they have a Run.
I was happy to be there and see all the over 500 teams running for a noble cause. This is what is all about: giving and sharing from ones heart to another :) Have you ever joined a business run? Any type of run? Or maybe you volunteered like me :) When everything else fails, you can always give a helping hand by volunteering with something you can do: my case - taking photos :) Tell me yours story :)

Yours truly,
The LadyBug Who Loves To Volunteer
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Friday, 19 September 2014

Musical Friday: Weeping

Dearest friends,

We have not had a Musical Friday in a long while, so today I am having the great pleasure of bringing you a lovely and touching song named Weeping. Dan Heymann wrote the words and music of "Weeping" during the mid-1980's, when he was an unwilling soldier, drafted into the army of South Africa's white-supremacist regime. 
The first recording of "Weeping" to be played on the radio  (the 1987 version by South African band Bright Blue) included a refrain from the anthem of the African National Congress. Today that tune (Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika) is South Africa's National Anthem, but at the time, it was under a "ban" by the Apartheid government. In the event, the radio DJ's had a field-day with "Weeping", and it spent two weeks at Number One. The man referred to in the Weeping lyrics is the late P. W. Botha, one of the last white leaders of South Africa before the end of the Apartheid regime; The demon he could never face in the Weeping lyrics refers to the aspirations of the oppressed majority, while the Weeping lyrics also refer to the neighbors, literally the journalists from other countries who were monitoring the situation in South Africa. That pretty much sums up the metaphorical content of the Weeping lyrics.
"Weeping" is an anti-apartheid protest song written by Dan Heymann in the mid-1980s, and first recorded by Heymann and the South African group Bright Blue in 1987. The song was a pointed response to the 1985 State of Emergency declared by President P.W. Botha, which resulted in "large-scale killings of unarmed and peaceful demonstrators against racial discrimination and segregation in the Union of South Africa.” Defiantly, the song incorporated part of the melody to Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika, the anthem of the anti-apartheid African National Congress. "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" was banned at the time, and inclusion of even the melody violated the law. Today, "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" is part of the national anthem of South Africa. The formerly illegal lyrics -- "Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo" -- are now often sung when "Weeping" is recorded or performed. In 1999, "Weeping" was voted “All-time favorite South African Song” by the readers of the South African Rock Encyclopedia.
Written by Dan Heymann
(Copyright Bright Blue)
I knew a man who lived in fear
It was huge, it was angry, it was drawing near
Behind his house, a secret place
Was the shadow of the demon he could never face
He built a wall of steel and flame
And men with guns, to keep it tame
Then standing back, he made it plain
That the nightmare would never ever rise again
But the fear and the fire and the guns remain

It doesn’t matter now
It’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came round
I heard its lonely sound
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping

And then one day the neighbors came
They were curious to know about the smoke and flame
They stood around outside the wall
But of course there was nothing to be heard at all
"My friends," he said, "We’ve reached our goal
The threat is under firm control
As long as peace and order reign
I’ll be damned if I can see a reason to explain
Why the fear and the fire and the guns remain

And as Josh Groban once presented it, this is a song about peace, change and hope. A song that should be listened often. A song that should make us think of the sorrows of the people and the world. Sorrows that we do not know of, do not wish to know of, sorrows that we overlook. We point fingers when it comes to blaming but we never look at us and what we can do for the world. Where should change start taking place if not in us? How do YOU wish to change the world? What did YOU do this week to make the world a better place?

Yours truly,  
A LadyBug Who Wants To Change The World 
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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

LATEST NEWS On Being An Expat

Dear sweethearts,

This is just a short update post for all you lovely lads/lasses out there :) Remember how I was telling you a while back, in May this year, that I was in the top 4% of the most popular reviewers in Krakow? Well, guess what? Yesterday I just got an update from my beloved Tripadvisor site telling me that right now I am in the top 2% :) 
But how awesome is that! To be aknowledged in my reviews with over 16,000 readers. That truly put a smile upon my face. It makes me proud to say that I am an expat living in Poland, in beautiful Krakow. There are so many things one can do and see and experience in this lovely city!
Also this week, on lovely Monday morning, my expat interview went live on the one and only blog portal for expatriates: You can read my interview about being an expat and let me know of how you feel about being an expat yourself. Blog Expat is run by expatriation experts and professional expatriates and of course by all the users who share their knowledge upon the places they lived or live in still. 
Considering that life abroad is better described by those who live abroad, they provide a list of international blogs around the world. They also give the possibility to open your free blog and take advantage of all tools provided in the Easy Expat community. I love the people there. They are open minded and friendly and if you have questions, people will try and you as best they can. They know that they have been in a similar situation (or that they can always be one day in your place) and who doesn't like some help!? I recommend the site with all my heart :) I would love to hear about your expat experiences as well. As you know... sharing is caring ;)

Yours truly,
An Expat LadyBug
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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Marzi's Tale - The Dream

Dearest friends,

Sometimes you just enter a bookstore and a book calls out for you. You did not plan on buying it, you never even heard of it, and yet it pulls you into her like the butterflies pull to the light. It's dangerous and yet you wish for it. You take the book into your arms and that is the fatal moment... you cannot simply let it go and you wish to take it home with you. That happens to me quite often. I love books and they call out to me and it is hard saying no to them. After all, they wish for a home of their own. They wish to make people experience emotions and they wish to stay on your shelve. One such fine book was for me Marzi by Marzena Sowa (Sowa means owl in Polish, and very fitting as the book is full of hidden wisdom from this lovely lady).
You could not tell that it is either a book or a comic book... It is something in between. It's a little girls story about the world that surrounded her as a child. It is written from the heart and it manages to touch the points that we think of as adults, when we remember our childhood. I am Marzi, born in 1979, ten years before the end of communism in Poland. My father works at a factory, my mother at a dairy. Social problems are at their height. Empty stores are our daily bread. I’m scared of spiders and the world of adults doesn’t seem like a walk in the park.
Marzena Sowa VS Marzi
Told from a young girl’s perspective, Marzena Sowa’s memoir of a childhood shaped by politics feels remarkably fresh and immediate. Structured as a series of vignettes that build on one another, Marzi is a compelling and powerful coming-of-age story that portrays the harsh realities of life behind the Iron Curtain while maintaining the everyday wonders and curiosity of childhood. With open and engaging art by Sylvain Savoia, Marzi is a moving and resonant story of an ordinary girl in turbulent, changing times.
 Now living in France, Marzena Sowa looks back at her past, at her roots, and with the help of her significant other manages to bring to life her own self, in the younger version. The book I have contains the series of the first 4 comic books she published in France. The original publication has been in 5 different volumes but I am truly happy I found this version where they are (almost) all in one. In gallery form, paperback, from Vertigo, it is very lightweighted. The color palette is limited but truly I can say that Sylvain Savoia (the ilustrator of the book) did wonders! My version has 240 pages but I did not read it all at once. The book deserves at least a few sittings and it is lovely and warm hearted and sincere that you really wish you would not finish it. 
The story, told from a childs perspective is wonderful! Done in small vignettes you can take smaller portions and not a mouthful. Pick and choose as much as you can swallow, as you will come back earning for more. When I finished Marzi I wanted yet another story. I wanted to know more of her childhood. I wanted to know how her dreams came true and how she ended up in France. Her name was all a dream (marzen = dreams, in Polish language) and she was a dreamer. Though times were hard she manages to make you smile and see how people could be happy from little things. She makes you see how inventive and creative children were back then, without TV/Internet/Computer Games and what-not's. I recommend everyone to read it, and enjoy it. Especially if you were part of the Communist Block, you will appreciate and understand it even more. So I say you run and order the book now, and let me know how you feel about it! :)

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Who Liked Marzi Very Much
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Saturday, 13 September 2014

3rd Time's The Charm

Dearest friends,

Guess what?! A bit more than 6 days ago, in a lovely Sunday morning, we managed to have our very own wedding photo session. I know I told you a while back, when we tried to go for the first time, that timing and weather was of great essence. We wanted to take the pictures outdoors, as we are not quite the type of people who would enjoy staying locked up in a room - a limited space - and posing. The natural life, the outdoor, the sun shining/rain falling/wind blowing and so on... managed to get us out of the shell much quicker. Mateusz W. - or awesome friend and photographer - found a while back a lovely place in the mountains. It was love at first sight for him and so it was for us too :)
The place you may not know... It is not that popular, it is retreated from the world, which made it perfect :)  Jurgów is a small village (c. 900 inhabitants) in the Spisz region of southern Poland, near the border with Slovakia and the town of Bukowina Tatrzańska, on the Białka river. It used to be a part of Slovakia. It lies approximately 2 kilometres (1 mi) east of Bukowina Tatrzańska, 15 km (9 mi) north-east of Zakopane, and 81 km (50 mi) south of the regional capital Kraków.
The Obviously Necessary Selfie :)
So take that into account: 81 km from Krakow means around 2 hours or so by car. We wanted to catch the sunrise and the first lazy autumn sunbeams so we woke up around 3 am... Oh, sweet sleep... The only thing I wanna do in the morning, during the weekends, is to sleep longer than 5 am (the usual hour when I wake up to go to work or the gym...). At 4 am Mateusz came to us, to pick us up, and we were gone with the wind :)
The Child In Me Wanted The Windmills :)
Mateusz W. Panorama :)
Someone up there definetely loves the 3 of us. Waking up at 3 am, trying out for the photo session for the 3rd time, shooting photos in 3 different locations... huh! I really do believe that 3 was the number of the day and truly for us the 3rd time was the charm :)  We had such lovely weather, such misty mountains that it all went perfect! I did not even change the shoes... I did not put my lovely green shoes, I just stayed with the warm army boots. Tell you the truth, they saved me from twisting my ankles and being neck deep in mud ;) Cross the image away that at the end of the session all 3 of us had the shoes squashing from how much water they had inside, from the mountain dew...
Yum yummies in a jar :)
Sour cherry compote, please :)
To top the day up, halfway home we got so hungry and tired that we stopped at a traditional place that Mateusz knew, and I must admit it was a lovely finding and I really wish to go there again. The building was all made out of wood, with several floors and a huge entrance made out of huge stones (probably taken from the river?). The ivy was covering the walls from the outside and it looked lovely... especially now, in autumn, when the colors start changing.
Mateusz had previously a wedding session there and that is how he knew the place, and that it had good food. And right he was ;) When we went inside, they were just finishing up on taking things away from the tables - there was a big wedding the other night. They had all the white flower pots taken aside and also the small Remember-Me-By's - those were very cute kids windmills and I asked if I could have 2. I was allowed to do so and I picked 2 green ones, one made out of paper and one out of plastic :) I can't help it, deep inside I am still a child! :)
I loved very much the interior and how the place was decorated, all out of wood and stone. From Mateusz I understood that is typical for the region we were in . I think that is just lovely and it had a couple of very nice touches - for examples, the long benches, made out of wood, had the side on which you sit covered with sheep fur :)
We had breakfast and I must admit that it was one of the biggest and the best breakfast I ever ate. All 3 of us had eggs. Marek and Mateusz had scrambled eggs with ham and I had regular sunny side up with strips of bacon on the side... mmm... bacon! <3 Did I mention ever how I believe the greatest vegetable is the pig?! ;))) Nevermind that, back to breakfast :)
Of course besides that we were given a huge basket of home-made bread. Almost as tasty as the one Marek's mum does :)  Also we had some butter and we ordered some coffee - for Marek and Mateusz, the lads of the house - and some tea. Did you know that in Poland it is customary to drink tea not with sugar but with raspberry juice? I think that is wonderful and if ever I have the chance, I love drinking it like that ;)
Hot tea and Raspberry juice always go nicely ;)
My portion of eggs
Even the way the food was presented was extremely appealing to me. Marek's and Mateusz's eggs came directly in the pan they were made and mine came on a big platter. They were simply smiling out to the world for a perfect day with lovely warm weather. It is always a pleasure hanging out with Mateusz. He is lovely to work with and he is smart and has loads of ideas. He plays with the light and he composes the pictures very well. He was the perfect choice so we can hardly wait to see the finished product :) It will take a while so you guys need to wait with us, but trust me, it is worth it! :) How was your wedding photo session? Did you manage to do it the first time or other things came in the way? I would love to hear your stories :)

Yours truly,
A Very Happy LadyBug, In Love With Her Pinnochio :)
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