2016 was full of lessons. I used to judge a year by its happy and sad moments. But at the end of 2016, I am just so very grateful for the things that I’ve learned in the past 12 months.
I have learned to…
1. Live in the present
And perhaps that’s one of most life changing lessons I have ever learned. I’ve learned to work on my mind, body and spirit and managed to keep a clean mind and enjoy moments, days, seconds. To be present and be there, wherever I am. I am writing this text right now. I am reminiscing about the past 12 months. But I am here, I am in the room and I enjoy the coziness of my small apartment in Bucharest, the new hat that I got today from H&M and taking my eyes out of my Apple laptop and looking out the window at the wonderful snowy landscape. I enjoy living, I enjoy being here and every single morning when I wake up, I say to myself that today I am going to be present. And it works almost every day. And I don’t think about the past or the future that much – when it comes to the future, I try to focus on the big picture and the past is just a place to learn lessons from.
Managing to get out of the thinking mind and living in the present, that was a hard process for me. It involved going to therapy a few years ago. Trying meditation. Doing yoga. But the book that cemented and really snapped something inside me was Pema Chodron’s Living Beautifully book. Which I then gifted it to 15 of my friends and people that I care about. I read it five times in the last year. When I received it, the friend that gave it to me said “you should keep it next to your bed because you will need to open it from time to time and be reminded of what helps staying in the present and being peaceful with yourself and with the universe.” And she was right. From time to time, I read it again and again and I understand new things from it, new layers and it reminds me to stay present everytime I stray away from this path.
Well, I do have a strong artistic side and as I get closer to 30 years old, I feel like my creative side is more dominant and I feel like I have to find creative challenges in every project I am involved into, there needs to be stories, emotions, something that people express and a creative purpose. But it takes a lot of discipline to balance the artist and have a healthy and regular lifestyle. Because, as you may have heard, artists have a chaotic side to them and they need to be in the mood to express feelings.
And this leads me into the next one… actually discipline & the morning routine merge into each other.
3. The morning routine
So my new found discipline revolves around the way I start my mornings. Every day I wake up at 6 or 7 o’clock. I don’t open my eyes until I clear my mind of any thoughts and try to stay present through how I feel that day and accept where I am. I call it “the morning clean up”. After that, I get up and I have a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon in it and a bit organic honey. And I take three vitamins with it: yeast, magnesium and Coenzyme Q10. Then I start doing my yoga camp routines for 30 to 60 minutes. And then I have a coffee and start reading emails & working. And I take care of any deadlines, I do more research than ever for every shooting, every styling job, I look for inspiration and I try to read and understand what’s happening in the world, visually, socially, politically because everything needs a context.
I drink a lot of water, I try to drink as little alcohol as possible, I usually go to sleep before 1 am, I try to eat as healthy and comfortable as I can. And I try (and it’s not easy) to keep up this way of life every day and this sets me in order to be more peaceful and more harmonious than I ever thought I could be.
I don’t wake up every morning with the strength and energy needed to smile and be happy about everything and do yoga – as it requires a lot of energy, concentration and focus. But I am grateful and try to do all these things. I try. I was amused and proud when I figured out that 12 months have gone by and I’ve managed to be more disciplined than ever with my life, on every single part of it. And there’s still work to be done.
Passion was my fuel. And it still is. But passion can drive you until the edge, whatever that may mean to each of us. I used to associate living life with intensity and feeling intense, feeling that rush. That’s what it meant to be alive in the past. But when I looked really close I understood that life is about balance. Just like the universe is and just like nature shows us everyday. It is not about abundance and intensity. It’s about having a bit of everything, sometimes or most of the times staying in the middle and managing to be steady in every situation, no matter how harsh or crazy it is. I learned how to balance the thing that I used to call “life’s weight”. And I’m sure I’ve only begun on this road. But I feel like I got the idea of what it means to not having too many fears and not allowing life to throw you over like it’s the end of it. Unless it’s death, almost everything else can be solved and there’s always ways to improve everything.
It’s also about balancing jobs, friends, time for myself and every aspect of my life without allowing any of it to take control of me. In any given moment, it helps if you’re at peace with yourself and you understand that everything is a lesson and the best thing I learned I can do is not to label emotions, thoughts and actions as GOOD and BAD, HAPPY and SAD, RIGHT or WRONG. A thought is just a thought. And it’s part of the flow of thoughts. And I just let it flow without getting a grip on it. It’s the same with emotions, I let them flow and go away, not linger for too long.
Well, this sets everything in order because it trains my mind, body and spirit. I center myself everyday, I stretch and relax my body, I work out and try to stay present in the sensations of the body, I try to find what feels good and accept where I am everyday. I listen to what my body needs and tells me. I’ve been doing Adriene’s Yoga Camp for 2016 almost 11 times from start to finish (it’s 30 days of yoga challenge, I started it at the middle of January 2016 and took some days off when I felt too tired throughout the year).
But I never liked doing sports and working out. Still, yoga works for me. And when I see how different and energetic and relaxed and alive it makes my body feel, I understand that it’s essential to do something that moves and works your body every single day, no matter what it is – jogging, going to the gym, pilates, stretching, karate, whatever. The body needs to be tended to.
6. Time for myself
It’s not only about the morning habits. It’s not about SOMETIMES having time for myself. It’s about taking time for myself whenever I feel like it. Yes, there’s a huge advantage in being a freelancer. But it’s also about taking care of your body and thinking that everything needs to be in sync and you shouldn’t wait until you’re tired or sick to do it. I take at least 30 seconds off when I need it. I just close my eyes and breathe and relax and clean my head if I feel like anything is overwhelming or I need some time off.
7. Kindness & empathy
It’s not about me. It’s not JUST about me. I don’t live by myself in a ME centered universe. It’s about us. It’s about the social consciousness. The universe will not work if it’s just ME or YOU in it. The universe works at its best when we’re all here together. And we are kind and we have empathy for every single human being and also for the collective. I learned how to care about every person, I learned how to ask myself: but how does that person feel like? without putting all my experience behind it. I learned how to put myself in someone else’s shoes and ask myself “how would THEY feel about it, maybe it’s different than me”. Maybe I cannot understand everything. Maybe I cannot change the world. But I can be kind. I can have empathic thoughts and stay present in the universe, not just in my neibourghood or the country that I currently live in.
8. When you fall off a horse, you need a bit of time to get back in the saddle.
No matter how much you try to be balanced and have a good day, life will bring its ups and downs and you will have moments when you will fall off your horse. In a way, I learned and tried my best to not label these moments as ‘failures’. I see them as things that had to happen in order for me to learn some lessons and move on. And I understand that it’s necessary for downs to happen in order for ups to come around. And it takes time to put yourself back together. For some it’s seconds. For others it’s days or maybe months. The quote is from Downton Abbey and I feel it’s self explanatory.
9. Working for myself. Working for the love of it and not for the results or validation.
I don’t wanna turn into a philosopher but I feel like the universe works on love. And so should everything we put in it should be. I put love in my jobs, be it content writing, photography, social media & branding strategies, modelling, styling, creative direction or whatever it is that I am doing for so many years. I put love in it. I put passion. I put time and energy and money and everything else. But I learned how to do it for the love it. Not for the results – that is numbers (of followers, likes, whatever) or money or people’s appreciation. I see it as a way of expressing myself and showing beautiful things in the ways that I know how to (clothes, photos, videos, GIFs, words…. stories). I don’t expect for that moment when the money comes into my bank account to be able to enjoy my work. I enjoyed many shootings this year. In the past, I used to get so angry, so stressed out, so worked up about everything that had to do with my job. And also about money. Because being a freelancer is the most rewarding thing in the world. Emotionally and personally. But you don’t have a fixed amount of money that you get every month and it does not deppend only on how much you worked that month, it depends on many other aspects as well. So I learned how let everything that I need come to me while I put my work, passion, time and dedication into it.
10. Embracing change
We’re all born as good human beings. But we manage to gather a huge lot of unhealthy habbits throughout childhood and adolescence. The generation that we’re part of changes faster than any generation ever before. And it gets quite confusing to figure out who you are, to be happy by yourself and also keep the pace with the changes that happen in society and the universe.I found that the only way I can get past everything is by embracing change. Maybe thinking that the way I’ve done things so far and my thinking and how I acted until now it was wrong and maybe I should get out of my system my usual way of seeing things and try to find NEW ways of doing it. Embracing change is very hard as the human nature is quite fix-oriented and it’s out of our comfort zone. But when I started accepting changes that needed to be done and the way I looked at life, everything felt at ease and new ways bring you new results and new people in your life.
So… it’s hard, tho’
These would be the 10 things that I have learned in 2016. I wasn’t always this way. In fact, I was quite the opposite or very different and all these things would seem impossible to do a few years back (even one year ago or a few months ago). And it is still not easy. It’s new. Every day is a new challenge. And every day I tell myself I have to work to be better, I need discipline, I need balance, I need to embrace change, I need to accept failure, I need to think about other people. It’s never easy to be tough with yourself and find these things, especially when you’ve been the same way for 20 smth years. I have days when I am weak, when I feel tired and I do not want to speak to anyone for a few hours. But I try to accept everything as part of who I am and who I will become. I hope I can keep all these valuable lessons in my life and add new ones in the new year to come. And no, 2016 wasn’t an easy year or a happy one. It was rough. But it is so valuable. And I am so grateful to be alive, to be healthy and to have this place, this blog where I can pour my thoughts & soul into, I have my passions and I trust the flow.
When it comes to resolutions for 2017, I hope to be open and stay open to new things, new ways. To be healthier and have healthy habits. To take care of myself everyday. To help more people and to show more kindness and always do good things, not only to people around me but to anyone who asks for help. To be brave, to be honest, to be fearless, to be vulnerable, to be present and enjoy every moment. To believe in my dreams and continue fighting for them. To offer more than I receive. To have empathy and always think about what people are going through and how hard it is to be human nowadays.
I am wearing
H&M gray bomber jacket, H&M boots, H&M white shirt & trousers, all from the Winter Collections
Photography & concept by Edi Enache, The Fashion Jumper