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Friday, 31 October 2014

Photographing Dreams

Dearest friends,

Today I will introduce to you, one lovely Polish artist that I did not knew until a month ago. Kindly enough, one of my work friends told me about his expo during the Nowa Huta Festival of Arts. I managed to see the expo on its last day and I even stand with my friend for almost 20 minutes in the queue, but it was totally worth it; so if you ever hear that the expo of Zdzisław Beksiński is coming to a city near you and you like Utopic lands and dream in photographs, than I trully recommend it!
 “I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams.”
― Zdzisław Beksiński
Zdzisław Beksiński (24 February 1929 – 21 February 2005) was a Polish painter, photographer and sculptor, specializing in the field of utopian art. Beksiński did his paintings and drawings in what he called either a 'Baroque' or a 'Gothic' manner. His creations were made mainly in two periods. The first period of work is generally considered to contain expressionistic color, with a strong style of "utopian realism" and surreal architecture, like a doomsday scenario. The second period contained more abstract style, with the main features of formalism. Beksiński was murdered in 2005.
Zdzisław Beksiński was born in Sanok, southern Poland. He studied architecture in Kraków. In 1955, he completed his studies and return to Sanok, working as a construction site supervisor, but he hated that kind of work. During this period, he also had an interest in montage photography, sculpting and painting. His site materials plaster, metal and wire engaged in carving creation. His photographic works, then the light in particular to emphasize wrinkles, desolate landscape and still-life face a rough surface, these themes also appear in his later paintings. He now has been the creation of an atmosphere with a plaintive and anxiety, such as torn doll faces, faces are erased or obscured by bandages wrapped around the portrait. He focused on painting, creating abstract engaged him early, although he works in the 1960s, it seems obviously been inspired by Surrealism.
 “I am obsessed with the process of creation.”
― Zdzisław Beksiński, The Fantastic Art of Beksinski
Beksiński had no formal training as an artist. His paintings were mainly created using oil paint on hardboard panels which he personally prepared, although he also experimented with acrylic paints. He abhorred silence, and always listened to classical music while painting. Although he loved classical music, Beksinski appreciated rock music as well.
The town of Sanok, Poland, houses a museum dedicated to Beksiński. A Beksiński museum housing 50 paintings and 120 drawings from the Dmochowski collection, opened in 2006 in the City Art Gallery of Częstochowa, Poland.
On 18 May 2012 with the participation of Minister of Regional Development Elżbieta Bieńkowska and others took place ceremonial opening of The New Gallery of Zdzisław Beksiński in the rebuilt wing of the castle. On 19 May 2012 The New Gallery has been opened for the public. A 'Beksiński cross', in the characteristic T-shape frequently employed by the artist, was installed for Burning Man. (All info on the artist was taken from our trusted source Wikipedia).

Yours truly,
The LadyBug = The New Fan of Beksiński
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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad

Dear friends,

A bit more than a week ago, on a lovely Saturday morning-afternoon, I went with one of my friends and her family (husband and child) to the Krakow Zoo. It was my second time there, first time being almost 2 years ago. It was autumn as well, but much hotter and sunnier than this time. And for the first time, I got caught by the bus controller :)  To my defense, it was not my fault and my friend took the blame. We got 30 minute tickets and we switched two buses. I wanted to check another ticket but she said that it does not matter how many buses you take, that all you need to care is that it should be 30 min maximum after checking the ticket in. We disagreed and I thought 1 bus = 1 ticket. Guess who was right? I tell you, whatever you do, trust your instincts and check another ticket ;) Just in case!
Four legs good, two legs bad.
George Orwell, Animal Farm
But back to the cute Krakow Zoo :) Krakow’s compact zoo – "Krakowski Ogrod Zoologiczny" in Polish – is situated amidst the vast 500-hectare Las Wolski forest, turned to municipal park in 1917, some ten kilometers west of the city’s central Old Town historic district and 126 meters higher, i.e. 345 m above sea level, near the top of the Pustelnik hill.
Krakow Zoo’s seventeen hectares accommodate over 1400 animals, in that number some 600 birds and 400 mammals, representing 285 species, 32 of them on the verge of extinction and 88 endangered.
Its most prized possessions include herds of pygmy hippopotamus and Przewalski horses, Somali wild ass, Pere David's deer, barasingha, South American tapir, white camel, South American sea lions, several species of wild cats, rare antelopes, such as addax, eastern bongo and waterbuck.
The Reptile House on the zoo’s premises features dwarf caimans, lizards, turtles, snakes, amphibians, invertebrates and exotic fish.
A Place Designed For Insects - for LadyBugs as well :) I should build one of those!
Krakow’s zoological garden has succeeded in breeding in captivity – among others – Andean condor, the maned wolf, snow leopards, Chinese leopards, jaguars, fennec foxes, caracal lynxes, European wild cats, northern lynxes, ground cuscuses, black mangabeys, chimpanzees, lar gibbons, and common marmosets. It can boast regular hatches of steppe eagles, white cockatoo, blue-and-yellow macaw, and Grey parrot.
Krakow Zoo was opened in 1929.
Public transport: City bus line 134 links Krakow Zoo with the downtown. Buses leave from the stop at Kaluzy street next to the Hotel Cracovia every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 15 minutes on summer Sundays and holidays. If you wish to come by car, that is possible but you cannot get to the Zoo during the weekend. You need to leave the car in the parking place - costs 15 zloty per day and even if you stay 1 hour or the full day you pay the same - and walk around 1 km to the entrance.
Krakow Zoo’s opening hours:
Winter 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Spring and autumn 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Summer 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
If you would love to know more about the Zoo, you really need to search hard as even their site is in Polish. To their defense, they have so many visitors from Poland (almost every school has field trips there) that it makes no sense to bother translating. But they do have a summary page in English ;)
Here is a short extract: "The Director of Cracow ZOO is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). We are a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). Importantly, our ZOO is a contributor to the work being done in animal breeding by several dozen international commissions in order to save the species now threatened with extinction."
I found it very lovely that there is a mini zoo and kids and adults alike can pet the animals and play with them up close. The child in me petted the donkey and wished it would transform into a unicorn or at least a poney. Alas, it did not happen so I was very happy seeing the giraffe up close and personal. They are the latest aquisition of the Zoo and as far as I could see, the whole space was rearranged so to fit them in as best they could. There are 3 of them from 2 different species, whose name I cannot remember (to my shame). If you speak not Polish, if you are an expat as me, it may be a bit hard if you know not the animals. The boards and signs are all in Polish and there is no possibility of any tour in English. The only thing translated are the names of the animals.
But either way, the walk there and spending time there can make anyone smile. I love animals and I love when Zoos are in nature and not in the middle of the city. Here the Zoo is surrounded by forest and it looks very peacefull and quiet. But I wonder how they manage to keep the animals warm when the cold winter comes... If ever you are in the area, if you have kids and if you like animals, please do go and have a look :) The tickets are not that expensive - 18 zloty normal price - and you can spend there the whole day :) Have you ever been to the zoo? What have you liked best :) Do tell me!

Yours truly,
The LadyBug In Love With Flora & Fauna
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Sunday, 26 October 2014

10 Things I Have Learned By My 28th Birthday

My dear friends,

Guess what? We are not getting any younger as Benjamin Button did, and today I guess I will be celebrating my birthday. I always say to people who state that they are getting old that they are truly as old only as they feel like. You can be young at heart no matter what real age you have! Well... as you read in the title, I am getting closer and closer to that round age of 30 that everyone dreads. To tell you the truth, I did not feel any big changes and shifts in the nature until I reached my 25th bday. That was the year with my last big birthday party. I remember it even now, as I write... my first birthday on foreign land. I had my friends with me but I missed the sense of home somehow. After that year I did not see pretty much any point in having a big day out of nothing. That does not mean I don't still like to celebrate and have presents :) we just do that between the both of us - Marek and I.
It is said that as time goes by we become wiser and we figure out the true things that we want from life. Well... I still have to work upon that as I know I should be more responsible but some things just slip away from our grasp. I guess that is growing up - having to fight daily with yourself to do the right things not only for you, but for the ones you love and respect. Having the decency to care of people around you and not be self-centered and narcissistic is part of growing up. Also understanding your true needs and respecting the needs of the ones around you ;) To sum today up, I will not speak of cakes and presents and parties, I will tell you instead 10 things I have learned during my stay on this green land:
  1. Being positive can be a shield - the world is not pure and not everyone will be nice to you. Maintaining a positive attitude can help you throughout your darkest hours and place you back on track. There is no point in moping around and being a sour lass/lad when you can change your future and put a smile upon your face. There are so many things in life that we should be thankful for, just start to pay attention and you will see :)
  2. What you do matters - your work is important and matters. It does not make a difference if you are making bread, selling auto parts, saving lifes in the ER or being part of a corporation and doing any IT related job. We are all interconnected and we live in society. We are bounded to eachother by invisible strings. That keeps us together and binds us, even if we do not know it. 
  3. Take some time off - it can be a day, a weekend, a week, a month or even a sabatical year off. We all need to unplug ourselfs from live as we know it. We do not actually need the TV, nor the radio, nor the Internet. We have become addicted to certain things without even knowing. We need to let go of those things from time to time. 
  4. Get out of your comfort zone - and you will get to learn more about yourself than you would ever will if you remain stuck where you are now. Push your limits and don't be afraid to jump. Adrenaline, once in a while, is good for all of us ;)  and getting out of your safe place allows one to know more about oneself. Live in a different country - or at least city - than the one you were born. Take a chance and make a change in yourself!
  5. Travel as much as you can! I really cannot reinforce this as much as I would like. Travel enrichens your soul, your heart and allows you to know yourself more. This point is very much related to #4. You need to broaden your horizonts. When you travel, you are placed in unusual/out of the ordinary situations. You can exercise the languages you learned, you can find out more about other people/countries and you can break down the walls of prejudice.
  6. Show people that you care - do that before it is too late and you will be sorry for not doing that earlier. If you love someone, say it out loud... shout it from the rooftops and be happy about it. If that person does not feel the same, do not worry! It is better to know where you stand, than be uncertain of what could have been and what you could have said. Be fearless! Be strong!
  7. Read as much as you can. Devour books! if you cannot travel they will take you to places you have never dreamt of before. The books are the ones that opened my love for travelling and the hope that one day I would see different places as well. I remember being in 3rd grade and reading Alexandre Dumas. I was imagining myself in France, with the characters :) Guess what?! Eventually I went to Paris, after years, and went to Dumas's grave to pay my respects :)
  8. Make memories and don't hoard things - this still comes and goes with me and I need to learn more on self-control. I know and the last 3 years or so, I have become a more and more rational type of buyer. I was before as well, but living home - with your parents - gives you the kind of sense and security that you need not bother about things that will come. Now I think more before buying anything. Do we actually need that cup? Don't we already have several others that work fine? Do I need another dress just because this one is blue but the one I had was purple? Now it depends on your priorities but I believe that it is more important to travel, learn new things, create memories, than sit at home and do nothing than watch TV and listen to music or play games on the PC. Maybe that's just me, but I believe that in the end all we take with us is our heart and soul - the time we spent with the ones we loves and the things we have learned.
  9. Be proud of who you are, even if times are hard and you believe everyone is better. That is nonsense! Everyone is special in their own way. We all think differently, feel differently and have different tastes in everything. Marek loves ketchup and loads of pepper. I could not stand pepper at first, when I came to Poland, and I absolutely cannot stand ketchup. I love mayo and I love garlic sauce. He loves volleyball and I love ice-skating. We are different and we are individuals that God loves equally, no matter what! That is the beauty of it! :) It took me a while to recognize myself and love myself, and I must admit my Mum/Granny/Marek had a huge helping hand in it! and I must say I believe I am getting better :) Once you are at peace with yourself you can start making peace with people around you. Be proud of who you are, as you are the sum of your experiences + the genetical background of your family!
  10. Love with all your heart. You cannot go wrong with that! People may turn you down, may choose to hate you instead, may choose to stop talking to you, but in your heart you will know you did your best and you will know your heart is pure and not darkened. Love with all your heart as love is the only feeling/emotion that is worth having/experiencing. It makes you feel fulfilled/blessed and it can take you to 7th Heaven :) There are so many things to be thankful for and so many things that you can love - from yourself to your family, your friends and especially your enemies. I still have to learn and work on that but... hey! nobody is perfect :)
Today I give a special thanks to the fact that my dear sweet husband is coming back from India. I miss him very much and I am sorry the weekend cannot be any longer than it is. To our defence, we do have a bit of travelling planned for this next Tuesday :) We will be going to see the castles around Krakow. I never did that and I can hardly wait. This came almost as a birthday present from #DiscoverCracow - you rock guys! and so... Happy Bday LadyBug Lady! :)

Yours truly, 
The Twisted Red LadyBug - OFF For her Bday :)
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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Elections Belong To The People

Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Dear friends,

I choose to start this letter/post/entry with a quote from one of the fathers of the United States of America. Lincoln was a champion of human liberty and I believe he had a deep respect for the people who brought him to the White House, his goal being reuniting the people/the nation. He helped abolish slavery and I truly believe that he did care for the people. Maybe that is why the Americans see him still as one of the top 3 presidents of the USA.
***
Romania is facing presidential elections. The election will be held in two rounds, on 2 and 16 November, as decided by the government in February. Right now we still have as president Traian Basescu. The last presidential election was held in 2009 and he was sworn in for his second term on 21 December 2009. He is ineligible for a third term according to the Constitution. There are only 9 days left until the campaign stops. On the 2nd of November, between 7 a.m.–9 p.m., the first round of the presidential election is scheduled to be held. Over 18.3 million people in the country and 530,000 Romanians abroad are expected to go to the polls - that means me as well...
A few weeks back one of my Romanian expat friends, living here in Krakow, told me that for the first time there will be a chance to actually vote in Krakow and not go all the way up to Warsaw. The Romanian Embassy and Consulate is in Warsaw, on Chopin street, and I am very familiar with it as I needed to do all the paper for the marriage there + my new passport. I was thinking that is quite a road and I was not sure if I could make it, but now I am 100% sure that on the 2nd of November I will be saying #yeslavot - that is a small wordplay :) Romanian lads/lasses will get it for sure :)
 ***
I must admit that this time Romanian people in Poland that wish to vote have more options. Here are 3 places where they can speak up their mind and make their vote count:
  • Secția de votare nr. 193 VARŞOVIA – Ul. F. Chopina nr. 10, 00-559 (Ambasadă) - for Warsaw
  • Secția de votare nr. 194 CRACOVIA – Ul. RAJSKA nr.1, 31-124 (Biblioteca Voievodală) - for Krakow
  • Secția de votare nr. 195 POZNAN – Al. Niepodległości nr.16/18, 61-713 (Oficiul Voievodal) - for Poznan.
For more details you can always go here: http://www.mae.ro/prezidentiale-2014 
Being proactive, as usual, I wanted to let my friends know so I even created an open event, so if you wish to have a reminder ringing on your phone/pc, you can always join the event HERE.
 ***
As you know, every election is determined by the people who show up. We somehow have a thing about not attending meetings/gatherings and then complaining about the decisions made while we were not there. Well, the simple act of coming to the vote means a whole lot. You may not like any of the people on the list, you may not know them well or even heard of them, you may believe they are lunatic and they should not even be public. That does not matter! What matters is that you can choose - even if that means choosing the lesser evil. Is it better that the worst evil would win if you will not participate? If more people would actually come to the vote and choose the lesser evil maybe the world would be a bit better. We all know that votes can be manipulated and your vote can be used by a different person - been there, seen that happening in my country and it's no news! Is it not better just to go there for 15 minutes, maybe just have a long walk in the city and do a good deed? Your inner self will thank you and you will feel at peace with doing your moral and civil duty. Worst case scenario: you can always reject the vote and stamp your way through that paper, as long as you use your ID/passport and vote! So... Remember, remember the 2nd of November :) Be there or be square!

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Who Will Vote
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Monday, 20 October 2014

Warm Sunny Autumn Days

Dear sweet friends,

Show me a person who does not love Autumns and I will box that persons ears. I belive Autumn is the best time of the year. Autumn is not cold, not hot, has that warm fuzzy feeling about it :) and you still can go out without layering clothes upon your body, the sun shines bright and the leaves change their colors and move/dance with the wind. You can still eat icecream without being afraid to catch a cold and you can feel winter coming. Present season will knock on our doors soon, are you ready?! I believe Ned Stark was not joking when he was saying that Winter is coming!
Kidding aside, I may have a hot/soft spot for Autumn due to the fact that my birthday is in this lovely season. Guess what? This year my birthday will actually be in the same day I was born: Sunday :) Did I also mention that Sunday's rock? I don't know about you lads/lasses but on Friday one has to finish work, run errands around the house. Saturday all stops and I can get to sleep late - considering that each day I wake up around 5:30 AM, I consider waking up Saturday at 9-10 AM quite reasonable! So Sunday is the best day for me :) We get some energy in Saturday and we get to have fun on Sunday.
If you are reading this blog for quite a while, you may have noticed that we have a soft spot for a couple of places in town, where we feel very much like home. One of those places is  Bona - Ksiazka i kawa, where we like to spend the time out on the terrace - looking at people being fascinated by this beautiful city, carriages with horses well groomed, couple of newlyweds coming out of the church... The little bookstore/coffee shop is right next to the church St. Piotr and Pawel Church, the church where Marek and I got married :)
It is one of the first secret places I have found here in Krakow and I consider it as our own :) It has a lovely athmosphere and everything feels just right there. Sometimes it makes me feel as if I would be in another place or another time. For example, a week back (when we actually took the pictures in this blog post) when I entered the room I was greeted by the magical sounds of the soundtrack from Amelie. It made me think immediately of creme brulee and Audrey Tautou.
Everything I have ever tasted here was wonderful and even the thought of it makes my mouth water now, as I am writing this post. For example, last week Marek went with his favourite coffee Americano + the fruit salad with icecream and whipped cream. I chose the pineapple caramel rum icecream - whipped cream treat that was sweeter than pure honey from the bees :) Smooth, sweet, delicious, fresh, a true experience for the taste buds! By the way, did you know that the pineapple is not, strictly speaking, a fruit? Rather it is 100-200 fruitlets all fused together!
Oh! And did I mention I just love October? It may be because of my birthday again... or maybe because Halloween is coming? Or maybe because the trees are just losing their multicolored foliage... or maybe because one cannot simply get too much spiced pumpking latte! Either way, you have to feel it as well: tastebuds tingling due to the muchness of grapes, slow cooked stews, hearty soups, hot chocolate and warm cider/beer/mulled wine to keep you warm and cozy inside-out :) Oh, and is there anyone out that who doesn't like to snuggle with a good book, with a great book, like let's say Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer? Good books and good tea + warm blanket = best friends forever :)

Yours truly,
A Warm Sunny Autumn Day Fan = The LadyBug
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Friday, 17 October 2014

Picture Perfect Movie: Everything Is Illuminated

Dearest friends,

If there is one film that really touched my heart in a very photographic way, than that film is Everything is Illuminated. The movie is done after a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, the first novel by the American writer, published in 2002. Starring Elijah Wood and Eugene Hütz the film released in 2005. I first saw it during my second year of Uni, when I was part of a photographic circle. The teacher we had said one day that we would watch a movie that he believes reflects the best cinematography as being actually a series of images, a series of pictures in motion. I thought every movie actually is like that, but after I saw the movie I changed my mind totally. The lack of words compensates with the lanscapes and the closeup on the characters. I must admit that for a very long while, I had an image from the movie as my wallpaper and everyone would remark what a beautiful photo that is :) 
But here is the plot: Jonathan Foer, (Elijah Wood) a young American Jew, goes on a quest to find the woman, Augustina, sister of Lista (Laryssa Lauret), who saved his grandfather during the Holocaust in a small Ukrainian town called Trachimbrod that was wiped off the map when the Nazis liquidated Eastern European shtetls. His guides are a cranky, anti-semitic grandfather (Boris Leskin); his deranged Border collie named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.; and his over-enthusiastic grandson, Alex (Eugene Hutz), whose fractured command of English, passion for American pop culture, and constant chatter threaten to make the worst of every situation. But what starts out as the tour from hell turns into a meaningful journey, with an unexpected series of revelations that will change all of their lives.
American Chronicle recounted the film as one of the "rare films that encapsulate the emotion of discovery and drama with humor",while Time Out called it "an unbelievably assured debut as a director". Roger Ebert praised the film and gave it 3 and a half stars out of 4, and went to see it a second time 'to better understand the journey it takes'. The film lost money at the box office, as the gross receipts never surpassed even the small budget of the production. Right now, if you check it's rating on IMDB you will see that it is a 7,5 movie. I still believe it is terribly underrated and that all movie fans should watch it at least once!
The movie is a drama and a comedy rolled up in one. It has moments when your heart aches and you wish there could be a way to help the characters, there are moments when you want to laugh out loud so hard that you would scare your neighbours! It begins with placing a huge smile upon the face of the watcher and ends up granting you a heartache. Somehow the novel/writer/fate puts people together, that in any other moments in life would not be joined in. The landscapes shown of Ukraine are magnificent and heart-warming. The colors are alive and it is as if they would like to reach out to the watcher, grab you and drag you along in the main characters journey.
Jonathan is one of the main characters of the movie. I always saw him as "The Collector". He always has a ziplock bag about him and in order to have a track of his memories, his experiences, he collects things related to that experience. He accumulates the knowledge about people, places, stories; he marks them and places them under specific folders. He is neatly organized and he carefully labels everything. Jonathan enters his ultimate journey into finding more about his past - he has come to Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather's life. He is the pasive hero of the movie.
On the other side, Alex is all movement, all flow. He is vivid and engaging. Jonathan wears all black-white clothes, carefuly folds everything, all is neat and tidy - Alex is quite the opposite! He invents English words, wears sparkly gold necklaces, Adidas tracksuits and his tee inside out; he smiles and connects to people through his warmth of heart. Probably that is why Alex is the narrator for the movie :) Here is one quote from Alex that made me smile wide when I first heard it: Now I must tell you more of myself. I an unequivocally tall. I do not know any women who are taller than me. The women who *are* taller than me are lesbians, for whom 1969 was a very momentous year. For me, America is a first-rate place. Most of all, I am beloved of American movies, muscular cars, and hip-hop music. I also dig Negroes, most of all, Michael Jackson. He is a first-rate dancer, just like me. Many girls want to be carnal with me because I'm such a premium dancer
Here are some facts of the movie:
  • The shots of Ukraine are actually not done in Ukraine but in Czech Republic :) Which is lovely as you dont see any shops or gas stations and all is wilderness and rustic rural land. In this way they could take long range shots, landscape shots without being bothered by high-tech things jumping in and destroying the cut. 
  • Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of the lovely novel, appears as the leaf blower at the beginning of the film. I adore the idea of the writers appearing as cameos in the adaptations of their books. Hey, to be fair, Peter Jackson always appears in the movies he directs :) I guess that is a nice bonus!
I have reflected many times upon our rigid search. It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us, on the inside, looking out. Like you say, inside out. Jonathan, in this way, I will always be along the side of your life. And you will always be along the side of mine - Alex, Everything Is Illuminated.
***
I dedicated this movie to all my friends who love to take pictures, who believe photography is art, who believe that a picture can say a thousand words. I also dedicate this movie to all the Second World War - Jewish history fans out there. If you ever watched La Vita E Bella / Schindler's List / The Pianist / The Diary of Anne Frank, than for sure you will love watching this movie as well. It is heart-warming and makes you think of possible and unprobable connnections that appear in ones life... how life has its weird twists and turns and how one person could infulence anothers life for good or bad. I love this movie and I cherish it in my heart. Hope you will too :)

Yours truly,
A Very Big Fan of Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated.
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A Story About Love, Forgiveness And A LadyBug

Dearest friends,

More than a while ago... to be fair play, almost 3 years ago, my mother told me about a book called "The Shack". It was a book she loved and she dearly recommended it. I usually dont read books recommended unless I feel drawn to them, and in this case it did not spark my interest at all. I guess it did not help that mum gave it to me (in Romanian language) and to Marek (in English language) as a gift. Sometimes, things need to come naturaly so this seemed to me like a push. It took me 2 years to take the book Marek received into my hands and think of reading it. I always loved reading more in English, to tell you the truth... and to my shame, as the Romanian language can take a word a turn it upside down and give it a thousand meanings.
The book I will tell you a bit about today is The Shack. It is a Christian novel by Canadian author William P. Young, a former office manager and hotel night clerk, published in 2007. The novel was self-published but became a USA Today bestseller, having sold 1 million copies as of June 8, 2008. It was the #1 paperback trade fiction seller on The New York Times Best Seller list from June 2008 to early 2010, in a publishing partnership with Hachette Book Group USA's FaithWords imprint (Hodder & Stoughton in the UK). In 2009 it was awarded the "Diamond Award" for sales of over 10 million copies by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
 ***
The title of the book is a metaphor for “the house you build out of your own pain”, as Young explained in a telephone interview. He also told radio host talk show Drew Marshall that The Shack "is a metaphor for the places you get stuck, you get hurt, you get damaged...the thing where shame or hurt is centered."
The novel is intense and breathtaking and somehow you get lost in the story. You feel you are there with the main character, you feel his pain and you have the questions that he asks on the tip of your tongue. Mackenzie Phillips (also known to friends and family as Mack) takes his children camping and during the trip, his youngest daughter is abducted and murdered by a serial killer. I will not spoil the book for you, its questions / sorrows and its ending but I will tell you this: many Christians were upset with the novel's unconventional way of portraying the Trinity. God the Father was portrayed by an African American Women, Jesus as a Middle Eastern carpenter, and the Holy Spirit as an Asian women. I, on the other hand, believe that is very much appropriate! Considering the region where Adam and Eve came from, there is a very high possibility that they were not white at all! And who cares about the color of the skin anyway! I believe that we should focus on love and being open-minded.
***
The Shack makes me think of an idea that I had ever since I was a child, when I was taught that at the same time God is love but also vengeance. To be fair, The Bible does show God both loving and also coming down with anger. I was thinking that God is allpowerful and allknowing so even if he knows in advance what we will say or do, he still gives us free will. At the same time we are his children, so he loves us. He loves us differently than we love our own, and he holds no grudges as he is made all out of love. In Corinthians 13 we find out that from all the things in the world, only one thing will always remain: Love! and the book shows us just that :) 
***
In order not to spoil the book for you, but give you a taste of it, I thought I may share with you a few quotes that I really enjoyed:
  • Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid the will to hold power over another is to choose to limit oneself - to serve. Humans often do this - in touching the infirm and sick, in serving the ones whose minds have left to wander, in relating to the poor, in loving the very old and the very young, or even in caring for the other who has assumed a position of power over them.
  • Mack, the world system is what it is. Institutions, systems, ideologies, and all the vain, futile efforts of humanity that go with them are everywhere, and interactions with all of it is unavoidable. But I can give you freedom to overcome any system of power in which you find yourself, be it religious, economic, social or political. You will grow in the freedom to be inside or outside all kinds of systems and to move freely between and amont them. Together, you and I can be in it and not of it.
  • Those who love me have come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims; some are Democrats, some Republicans and many don't vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some are bankers, some are bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters or my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.
  • You can kiss your family and friends goodbye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you - Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth
  • An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others - A.W.Tozer 
I recommend this book with all my heart. It made me want to cry but it also made me smile wide. I read it on the train to/from work and it surely did brighten up my day. If you get around reading it, let me know how you liked it :) 
Yours truly, 
A LadyBug That Loves God
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Friday, 10 October 2014

Make Your Life Magical

Dearest friends,

Guess what day is today? That's right, it's Friday :)  Everyone seems to be more and more cheerful as the weekend approaches and even at work all things go smoother when it's Friday. While on conference calls people joke and even you begin to feel the smile on their lips as they know rest time is coming. People somehow are in a mood for magical things only on weekends, during the week they are too serious and self-centered and very much grown up for funny things and for enjoying the moments that really matter in life.
Remember that one quote from Alice in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll? The one that goes like “Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Well, do tell me, how many impossible and magical things have you thought of before breakfast? How was today different than the other day or than the Friday a week or two ago? Sometimes I really believe that we are somehow caught up in a circle and every day is just like the other one: work - home - work + the happy weekends. How do you make your days special? How do you live your life? Do you leave time to just flow and take its regular course or do you take a step in front and turn proactive?
Last weekend I was taking a simple stroll in the park, trying to get home to my adorable husband as fast as I could. The stroll turned in a big smile when I bumped into an endless hopscotch painted on the path in the park. A piece of streetart that made me smile and think of my childhood. Further on there was a painted van and a group of people playing games. It reminded me how little we enjoy the small things in our life and how we leave time to just pass us by. We see Monday to Friday as grey, dark and colorless; we take refuge in weekend where all we do is lay down and rest. It seems so sad :(
***
I was trying to think of things that would make life magical and I thought I may share my thoughts with you. Maybe even find out from you new ways of bringing a smile on my face and for the ones I love and care about. Here are 10 ways to brighten up the day, that I came up with:
  1. Plan the trip of your lifetime, the kind that you would put on your Bucket List. Think of how you would get there and what you would do. Trail your thoughts from the place you would lay your head upon to where you would go eat and what souvenirs you would buy. Remember how even window-shopping makes you smile? Well thinking of beautiful places and learning more and more about them will surely boost up your morale ;) 
  2. Make the meal you would never forget - spend the day searching for the perfect ingredients, make sure everything is fresh and squeaky clean and knock that reciepe out! Even if you have no idea how to cook and at the end you would need to order in ;) Do it together with your better half and have fun. It doesn't have to end up perfectly, the important thing is that you are both in it together, sharing a moment :)
  3. Build a place just for the 2 of you (or for the non-couples, just for yourself) - depending on the place/space you have it may be a tent or just a piece of blanket under which both of you would hide from the world. Nobody hears you there or sees you so you can talk to your hearts contempt and noone will know about it! What is said under the blanket, remains under the blanket ;)
  4. Keep a diary - you need not do it everyday and you don't have to feel oblidged to used it. Just know it is there and it can record your thoughts even when the computer dies or the phone has no battery. The paper and pen can be your true friends. We only forgot how to use them. They are like that ragged doll that once you grew up you thrown away but after a while you came back to her, as she knew your deep fears and your stories. Plus, it is well known and it has been researched that writing with your own hands, with pen and paper, can be emotionaly healing.
  5. Be artsy, even though you have no inclination to it! You can start dancing, drawing, singing or even practice martial arts. Art and beauty has always been subjective. It is in the eye of the beholder. The important thing is to release the energies and do something from your heart. Your soul will truly thank you for it!
  6. Do some volunteering - if you have the time for it, you better stop being egocentric and think of only yourself. Go out and do some charity work! Find something you are good at and help raise awareness. I love taking photos so besides doing my job I love to volunteer at my company held events to take photos. It's a win-win situation! Remember the #PolandBusinessRun event I was telling you a while back? It was amazing being there, part of it, taking pictures - reward: the posting of the photos internaly :)
  7. Visit a new place - it needs not be an over-seas place, over-borders. It can even be a visit to the new cafe place around the corner, the newly opened cinema or the sushi place that you walk by each day, on your way to work. You do not need a special ocasion and you don't need to dress up. You can just get up from the bed one day and say: hey! let's do it today! or if you are a schedule freak, you can book a day once a month to have a bit of fun :) 
  8. Read a book that you never read before or a book that you already read but had so much fun with it that you just wanna read it again. It will be like visiting an old good friend ;) It can even be a comic book as look as it is something you can cuddle down with in a blanket and relax. No ebook readers allowed, though! You need to feel and smell the book, open all your senses. You can start by going to my books page and see what I like to read ;)
  9. Find another tune for your playlist. Have you realised that we go through life listening the same type of music over and over again? We like pop and we listen just to pop, we like rock and we listen just to rock. If someone comes listening a different type of music we dont stop and liten, we automatically reject the things we do not know. We love to label things and say no even from the start. Open up your mind and listen one day a week something different than anything you listened to until now. You can start my checking my playlist ;) If you like something, let me know - if you have something that you think I should try, pop me a line!
  10. Stop wasting time and get out there and do what you love! If you would ask me why I stop posting everyday and why I am on Facebook less than I used to be (when a post one an hour was extremely necessary) than I would tell you that I decided to live more outside. Outside the Internet borders that restrain us. I love my husband and I love my family. I wish to do my job the best I can and some things demand sacrifices. Letting go of the Internet is a sacrifice I am willing to take, in order to learn more. I decided not to post on a daily basis in order to come home and spend more time with my husband. Maybe you would like to spend time with your family more?
What about you lad/lass? What is your secret to smile, to make your day magical? Do you go through the week head down-shoulders crunched-empty eyes looking for the weekend, or do you make life worthwhile? Let me know how things go for you, I would love to hear what impossible things you think of before breakfast :)

Yours truly,
A LadyBug That Loves To Smile :)
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Monday, 6 October 2014

Who Doesn't Love Weddings?!

Dear friends,

How are you lovely bunnies doing? I know it's Monday, and Monday's are always painful... It's like the world is reaching out, screaming for yet another day of rest... But in order to make the day better I thought that I should talk about something that may make you smile. Today I will be talking about weddings. Once you speak of weddings, the first natural connection would be to think of family and friends. I don't know about you, but thinking of the loved ones always manages to put a smile on my face :)
On the last weekend of September we went to Marek's cousins wedding. It was my third wedding party attendance in Poland but my first 2-day wedding. And that was a whole different experience, and I must admit I was not ready for it. Remember what I told you previously about the traditional Polish weddings? Well this wedding was 100% Polish :) True blood, Polish Wedding. It was a lot of fun and I must admit it was even better than last time, as now I can understand a bit better Polish language and I manage to get the jokes/tricks better, without killing my awesome husband with 1000 questions about each small detail.
The location was some one hour drive from Krakow and we went there with Marek's smallest brother and his adorable other half. I love Asia, as she is funny, friendly and open-hearted. They make an adorable couple and it is lovely seeing them together. But back to the wedding... The church was small and intimate and very lovely. The colors and shapes used to ornament the church inside were a bit weird, like none I have ever seen, to tell you the truth... but I loved it :) The ceremony was very nice and the lady who was singing the songs had an extremely lovely and enchanting voice!
I love weddings in autumn, when you have all the colors changing and the weather is just right: not too cold and not too hot, not humid and somehow leaving you to breathe freely... The smell of autumn with its crunchy leaves and smell of mushrooms, grapes and pumpkin. It makes you all warm from inside, it makes you cuddle and dream but also boosts you up and makes you smile wide. We were all happy for Ula & Lukasz - the newly wedded couple.
The tradition calls that the bride is taken away from her house by the husband, along with the band that will play the music at the wedding. We did not make it for that part, we waited for them at the church. There we had the group picture and we stood in line to give the gifts. As I was telling you previously, the gifts for the couple are always given to them after the church ceremony - before the party itself, but if one forgets or does not make it to the church, the gift is given when they arrive at the party. Is is an extremely good precaution against forgetting to give the present, in case one has too much fun with the help of certain substances ;)
Here comes the Bride! :)
One custom that I did not mention when I was telling you about traditional Polish weddings, was the throwing of money and rice on the bride and groom, once they step outside of the church. Of course rice is commonly used at weddings as a symbol of wealth for the couple in their new life, but money would mean the same thing yet this custom is a bit tricky... here, in Poland, the couple must pick up all the money thrown at them so they would always have money and never want for anything else. As you can imagine, that takes quite a while :) as coins seem to have a mind of their own and roll out in a million directions
I love weddings as they provide the opportunity to meet up with family and friends. You get to have fun and talk to them at your hearts contempt, even if only for a night (or in our case, here, for 2 days). Everyone seems much more joyful and open hearted at weddings. And even though the couple undergoes a lot of stress and presssure previous to the wedding, somehow they manage to live through the day with a smile on their face. I always wondered how this can happen... you are tired and you can barely move, you have 1000 things on your mind, yet you smile with your heart. Why? The only answer I could find was Love and I believe that is the right answer :)
Getting married is a big step in the life of a couple and I believe that the fact that there are so many divorces in the world is the fact that people do not think things through. Society, culture and everything that surrounds us tells us that the track of life should be like this: you are given birth to - you receive education - you grow up - you get married - you have kids - you grow old - you die. Noone talks about Love as most of the times it is positioned on a lower scale in our lifes. In fact it should be the first thing. 
The humans are created with a great capacity to love and be loved. If we do not receive love we do not grow. We wither and die. It is better to love and not be loved in return, than never to be loved at all. A human being can develop completely only with love. Even tests were made upon that! 3 plants were placed under care: one was told constantly words of love and was spoken to all the time; the second was spoken to, but only with harsh words and treated badly; the 3rd one received no speaking treatment and was given just water like the other 2... Guess which one died first?
That's right! The one that was given only water died first! It is better to be spoken to bad words than to be ignored. Imagine that transposed into our life, as humans, and think of what Love can do! Getting married must be done out of love, else it has no real basis on which the couple can grow. From all the things that God has created, I believe the most beautiful thing he created was Love. It is love that makes us feel completed and it is love that brings us together. I love weddings as they are a show of love - the love of the couple, their love to their parents, the love for their friends.
Our Wedding Rings :)
This 2-day wedding came a bit like a surprise for me, as I was expecting we would not stay there for the second day. I knew that we were going for Saturday and coming home early on Sunday but somehow we ended back home in Krakow late Sunday evening, around 8-9 PM. It was just too much fun! The weather was lovely, the couple of newlyweds was adorable and we stayed for the second day as well... I must confess that I had the dress for the wedding but not for the second day, so both me and Marek went to the second part in blue-jeans and tshirt :( This will make me pack 2 dresses from now on, just in case! To tell you the truth I really felt bad about it, but the wedding was adorable and the couple wanted us just to have fun so in the end it was not such a big disaster in not being all fashionable dressed :)
The Traditional Village Table
Some Sweets :)
It made me think more and more that when you love someone and when you want people to have fun, being in a dress is not that important... People nowadays judge you by how you look and not by what is in your head and what you can actually do. People that normally would not be friends with eachother become best friends when you have a bigger salary or a bigger house. So much today is placed upon appearances and the fact that we are more and more thinking of just ourselves than the people that surround us. Ula & Lukasz wanted us to have fun and enjoy their wedding, they enjoyed being with us and they wanted us to feel welcomed. Lukasz was not afraid or ashamed to dance with me in blue jeans and noone made a fuss about it, even if the rest were dressed up.
I loved my first traditional 2-day Polish wedding. I loved the Love that Ula & Lukasz have for eachother and for their families. I love how people can be open hearted to eachother and I love how nationality does not matter. People need just to open their hearts and all the doors will be open as well. I am proud and happy to live amongst Polish people like Ula & Lukasz as they restore my faith in humanity, that not all is lost. People who know that you are a lady and you can be loved and admired not only when you are in a dress and wearing lipstick, but also when you are wearing jeans and have messy hairdo. People who look at your heart and not your wallet size. People who do not judge you for being an expat but who love that you had the courage to go out and face the world...
***
How about you? How do you see/feel weddings? Are they a place of joy and love for you? Have you ever been to an expat wedding? Could you feel then that the couple was different or did they just have one heart? I believe that Love knows no borders and has only one language :) 

Yours truly,
The LadyBug Who Loves Weddings
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