Roles We Play and Dreams We Set Aside

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I audited an advanced acting class last night here in New York City.  The class was highly recommended by a friend I trusted and so I went to check it out with no expectations.  But little did I know, my mind was flooded by memories.

The moment I decided, I was not going to be an actress was a moment my grandpa said: “you will be an actress like your mom.” I didn’t think he was a fan of my mom at the time, so I figured: I’d rather be liked.  The thing about decisions like these, that we make in childhood, are that they dictate what is possible for us but we are mostly unaware of them unless we deliberately look at why we are stuck where we are stuck.

Fast forward to school days, I was in drama and loved it.  I even played a daughter to a now accomplished actress.  We were both rewarded for it.  I loved being on stage, but even then, I knew I had to find something that would have higher approval ratings.  Naturally, I started college as Pre-Med.  I never really knew what I wanted to become.  I think I was searching for titles that sounded good more than I was searching within for what would have me come alive.  A year or so into it, I was sitting with a friend in front of the school realizing: I really don’t want to be a doctor.  The next day I switched to Film Production / Media Studies Major.  Luckily, I already did all the hard requirements so I spent the rest of the college years invested in a subject that was of interest.

While still acting in numerous student projects, and fully enjoying it, I couldn’t admit that I liked it.  Flashback to a moment my uncle told me I was someone who constantly asked for attention.  Needless to say, I tried to tame that part of myself with all my might. I succeeded, in part, because I really stepped into the “behing the camera” personna and enjoyed it.  Even when I worked on 2 film projects after college, I closely worked with actors and was often asked to go in and be in the scene.

Hitting a dead end, in a way, shortly after college and graduate school when I was completely out of money, near expiration to my student visa and in absolute solitude, invested more in my eating disorder than anything happening around me, I took my first transformational class.  It made sense as I was already exploring yoga before that, but sitting in a weekend class with 100 other New Yorkers, I really got to see: I made everything up.  Things are not at all the way I see them.  People in my life maybe judged me, but that still wasn’t enough of a reason for me to react to that judgement and live my life to please them.  Little by little, I started reflecting on my whole life and numerous decisions I made as a child or young adult which prevented me from living my life fully self expressed, passionate and present.

Thanks to this work and my consistent expansion, I have created such a beautiful life: family I adore, business I am proud of and space for myself to heal all the broken pieces I felt I carried inside.  All along life was happening and I felt like an actress playing her part.  In fact, all that film and acting training I got in college came in handy with the transformational personal development work I was doing.

And then, out of the blue, as I was judging bad acting on one of the TV shows I was watching, the voice inside of me was nudging me to explore why I can be such a judgemental bitch at times.  Reflecting back, speaking to my husband who is likewise a coach, I realized, I may have given something up a time long ago afraid that I would never succeed.  This hit me as a ton of bricks because, honestly, I am already pretty busy, I don’t just raise my children, coach people and write, I also sing, draw and do yoga to name just a few favorite things…and yet, I could no longer do nothing about it.

That’s the thing with transformation, you reach insights that don’t even seem like a good idea. As someone who does her best to walk her talk, I at least have to lean into these insights and give it a shot. And that is how I ended up in an advanced acting class, feeling so humbled, shy, really dealing with the knowing that I don’t really know.  Sometimes, regardless of how masterful we feel we are in one area of our lives, it is when we explore the unknown that we learn the depths of what we are really made of.

Sharing this to see and ask if there are dreams you put on hold or set aside? Are you willing to maybe take a class or explore leaning into it even a tiny bit to see what you learn about yourself?

As always,

with gratitude for reading,

Marija

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You Are Exactly Where You Need to Be

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Ever catch yourself being  hard on yourself?  Expecting you have done more, better, different?  Feeling like you “should” be elsewhere instead of where you are right now?

I think it’s a common thing for people because despite my knowing better, I still experience it in my life. And with that knowing that we are exactly where we need to be, my mindset shifts and has been shifting lately in discovering the body of work I have done in my life time.  And trust me, it is a body of work, I am not  being pretentious.

You see, before I became a US citizen last year, and a legal resident in 2011, I have been struggling to belong living in New York and doing  all kinds things to make my way through college, graduate school, leadership programs, spiritual work: Reiki Master program, Vipassana mediation retreats,  Sivananda Yoga… I have been continuing my education just so that I can live here and have been told by so many kind older people that there was a light in me I often failed to see myself.  Somehow not having my green card in my hands, money in my account or anything published except for my Master Thesis, made me feel that none of the work I’ve done mattered.

Unlike today where we can zip everything into a digital file and have virtual instead of physical clutter, I carried some of my drawings, video tapes, keyboard and art supplies wherever I went.   At some point, in my anger around things not working the way I wanted them to work, I even  burned all my journals I have been writing since I was 8.  Also, the pictures from Disneyland from when I first came to USA as an exchange student where I was 30-40 pounds heavier than now (and heavier than when I was pregnant with either of my children), were lit on fire, because I didn’t want to remember myself in that way.  In short, I stripped all the fat from what I was doing so that I can be free to live and move and make sense of who I was and what I was doing next.

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I look at people who are influencers nowdays, and ,without calling any names because I believe it is their  right to do as they  please, I  wonder, why  is so much of what I see created today  lacking real substance and real content.  We didn’t have access to internet and technology that allows you to make  a movie  on your  actual  cellphone, so even praciting our  craft was far more expensive than it is today.  Which meant, we were often silent unless there was  something important we wanted to say.

That said, I do think there is a beauty in the way we grew up.  I think that my generation and those who came  before us are here to preserve the soul of humanity.  As much as  everything  is moving to this work on a  fly and embracing  our imperfections,  I think people  are having a  harder time creating a real connection and anxiety is running rampant.  You have to be able to create connection in reality and be at peace with yourself before you can  ever do that online.  Nothing will ever come ahead of human touch,  ability to be with  another, enjoying the nature and experiencing real peace.

And while I look through all my work that has survived my moves, decluttering frenzies, self-criticism and just mere convenience, I am certainly reminded that I carry a message for people who are still able to appreciate the work I do with each person individually.  I think there is a lot for us to learn and I am a fan of  technology but I definitely believe that we need to continually work on our relationship with ourselves and connection with others.

Don’t Wait for Signs, Choose Your Life

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I reached out to one of my former coaches in desperation to figure out how to go from where I was.  Namely, in the past, I always had strong ambition and there was always a very clear goal in my mind:  

  • finish school,
  • become a leader, reiki Master, practice yoga, meditation etc
  • find love, keep love, get married
  • become a mom, have another child
  • Get my residence, citizenship 
  • Move to Montreal, move to the beach, move back to New York
  • Build my own business, create my own course 

Those are big goals… Achieving them had me feel like my life hit a plateau.  Here I am, I have all of this, and now what? 

In a meantime, I turned 40.  Birthing children isn’t in an of itself a goal, it’s a gift that keeps on giving (and demeaning my energy and attention, as well as mental power).

Becoming a citizen made everything easier, but most people where I live were already born citizens so having invested my time and energy in becoming one doesn’t actually put me in advantage. That’s a privilege many were born into.

Getting married didn’t have me now hold hands with my husband all the time, it’s merely a decision to be in the same sand box of life and work through things without storming out and calling it quits every time it gets hard.  It’s a challenge to never stop growing but to keep inspiring another person to grow with you and not apart.  It’s not a destination, it’s only a beginning.

All of this lead me to the question I was wondering lately that had me reach out to so many people I thought could help me figure it out:  what do I do now?  How do I combine all my talents in one thing I can always do, knowing I am in the right place at the right time? Who can I be now that I am all these things newly, a wife, a mom, a business owner and someone with big desire to create works of art? 

In my long winded letter to my former coach, where I just let it all hang, I expressed all my past fears, current limitations and palpable desires for the future.  I was pretty ashamed of sending that email at the end, but she was gracious enough to respond.  And this is what she said:

It sounds like you are having trouble making decisions, afraid that you will make a wrong one.  This must be impacting your life greatly and I think, given you want to  be free, you would want to resolve it

This happened weeks ago.  Despite knowing better, I always take things  personally at first. It’s my automatic, so often when I react to something strongly, I give it time.  As a personal coach myself, I was wondering, how in the world did she see that in what I wrote.  She was right and yet, I had no idea which part of what I wrote to her in that long saga triggered her to write what she’s written.

And then, suddenly, it hit me:  Everything we do in life is a choice, conscious or not.  If there is something we don’t like, we get to choose to change it, otherwise, whether consciously or not, we have chosen to tolerate it.  There is no truth about what each of us should or shouldn’t do with their lives.  Sure, some people are clearly talented for music, for example, so it is logical for them to invest most of their time and energy in that, but most of us other mortals, what we do and how we spend our time is really our willingness to do one and not another.  There is no innate truth in each choice, every one of the choices we can make has pros and cons, so trying to decide from the perspective of what is easier or better is really not the best way to use our mental capacity.  

Instead, we get to choose.  We get to declare: I am going to take on X and Y and not Z for the duration of time and I am going to give it all I got.  The moment we choose, and declare, giving it all is not a matter of our feelings anymore, but our integrity.  And yes, there will be ups and downs but if we have given our word to something, then that is where we play.  

I thought about this and then “OMG”ed myself realizing I was waiting for something outside me to give me signs, to show me the way, to approve of one thing I do against another, or to give me a perfect cocktail of coaching and art and healing things that I do so I can be satisfied and proud. I realized, there is nobody coming, nobody will save me, nobody knows it better than me and even better: I don’t know it either.  It isn’t about knowing, it is about  what I am willing.  

I hope this makes sense and a difference for you.  Perhaps take a pen and paper and write down your bucket list, write your desires out, put black on white what it is you want to accomplish and then pick the one you are willing to put effort in and keep on keeping on until you are satisfied and ready to choose something else.  Don’t wait for signs, choose right now!!!

With love and light

Marija

Give Women Some Room to Breathe

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US Open, Serena Williams, everyone is talking.  I didn’t watch the game so I had to research it and see it from a different angle to see if things add up.  Surely, she is being seen by many now as an entitled brat.  In her mind however, she is a victim of sexism and unfair ruling.  Where do you stand?

I will say right away that I don’t care to be right.  I will share my view so that it’s there and so that it can validate all the women out there that may feel the same. Here is the thing:  Serena broke rules.  She said she didn’t cheat though her coach admits to giving her coaching during the game, but she did slam the racket (which is a violation to the integrity and professionalism of the game) and then insulted the umpire by calling him a thief.  The first time I watched it, I cringed, thinking: Oh my goodness she is losing it and it doesn’t look pretty.  But then I watched it again, and again, the longer version, the in betweens and here is what happened:  my stomach started to hurt, I began to curl up and cry feeling anger and defeat.

My point is not that she is right, but my point is that it’s hard for a woman to be a woman in the world we live in.  Yes, there are rules and we must follow them but here is the deal: these rules are not made with us in mind.  Serena is 37, she had a baby a year ago and she is probably completely hormonal.  She must be dealing with what it takes to bring up a child in this world, what it is to be black, what it is to be a champion and how to do the rest of her career given all the difficulty that we experience after birth (and from following her IG story, I know she almost died).

Why is it that “emotions” run so much in our lives and yet we have to “keep them in check.” I know some men can read this and say, “well, we do, because that is what being an adult is like,” but I beg to differ.  It is not easy to keep your emotions in when your hormones are running the show and when the world you live in, fundamentally, doesn’t give you space to express what you feel.  I have experienced this time and time again and unfortunately, more from other women than from men.  Somehow, when we “lose it” we seem like we are not in control and that is bad…and yet, the whole world wants us to be vulnerable, to give up control, to be flexible, to be good moms, to be good at what we do etc.  I get it, Serena broke the rule, but in my world, she broke the silence of those of us who suck it up and try so hard to live in the world where being who we are is not accepted.  And I admit, when a woman has charge on something, she does seem crazy and disconnected from herself but I also know that the only way out is not trying to tame her crazy but validating how she is.  Those that are smart enough to honor the space we are in will help us see more clearly and we will calm down.

Here is one way to see it:

“The feminine’s moods and opinions are like weather patterns. They are constantly changing, severe and gentle, and they have no single source. No analysis will work. There is no linear chain of cause and effect that can lead to the kernel of the “problem.” There is no problem, only a storm, a breeze, a sudden change in weather. And the bases of these storms are the high and low pressure systems of love. When a woman feels love flowing deeply, her mood can instantly evaporate into joy, regardless of the supposed reason for the mood.” ~ David Deida

 

Again, I am not going for the right and wrong, I am just simply sharing as another woman who can see Serena’s storm just as a storm.  It is sad that people comment that she lost her grace.  This is a woman that won in Australia while already pregnant and wants to continue to create legacy.  It is unfair to blame her that she overshadowed another woman’s win.  She didn’t do that, we did that by looking at what she did with judgement and not empathy.

Her coach is right when he said in an interview: why is it a big deal that people show emotion on the court when that emotion is real.  Emotion is energy in motion, if we let it be, it will pass, but when we judge it, punish people for it, then we add mass to it and then that energy doesn’t flow freely, it gets stuck.  That is what happened in the game.  Serena was accused for cheating and she wanted to set the record straight.  Finding the wall instead of attentive listening, her emotions escalated (this can happen to anyone, let alone a woman who just became a mom), and after that we knew this wouldn’t end well.

Part of me wishes she could “collect” herself, but a big part of me is grateful for the dialogue that will follow as the judgements resurface for us to clear so we can begin to honor people for who they are, giving them space to have an emotional response especially when they were done wrong.

Serena, and all the women out there that struggle to keep it together, I feel you ❤

 

How To Help Our Mental Health at Least a Little

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A few weeks back, I got hooked on watching Suits with my husband.  I really enjoyed the first season and loved that we could binge watch the show as there was already 6 seasons available on amazon prime.  As a coach, I master manage my time, so initially, I would get my work done pretty fast to get back to TV and watch some more.  The beginning was inspiring to me, I liked the character development and would comment on it with my husband as we would relax for an hour or so before we go to sleep.

Then, naturally,  we started getting busier and we could no longer sit together and watch so my husband gave me a go ahead to watch on my own.  I watched it shamelessly: episode after episode, season after season.  I starting doing everything I possibly could do with a show in a background because at some point, and this often happens to me when I binge watch something, the show looses it’s charm, the plot loosens, things begin to be less believable and it gets very obvious that the writers are milking it.  All of this works because by season 3, most people are so in love with the characters, and for those of us who binge watch, curiosity trumps desire for quality and value.

But here is the thing, I pay attention to what I am thinking and how I am feeling, part of it is my job and I do that with others so I naturally do the same for myself.  The more I watched the show, the worse I felt about myself.  I often, when I get into a show like this and watch it for a couple of days, even dream about characters being in my life.  Luckily, I allow this to happen so rarely that I can just watch my experience almost like it’s not happening to me, appreciate that life is really not about sitting on a couch and watching someone else’s life but rather living your own.

Yet, I wonder, how many people give into show after show on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu or whatever else is out there and begin to slowly lose sense of living their own life.  I studied Film in my undergraduate and graduate studies and I truly appreciate what a piece of good writing for film and television can do and the message it can send to the masses, but I worry, I truly worry about our minds getting slowed down and sloppy over time.  I worry that watching fictional lives before our eyes has us not make an effort in our own.  Having a great life, accomplishing your dreams and having success requires an effort and I worry that getting used to stories presented to us makes us lazy thinkers.

Here is my truth, I watched the Suits for a few days, 6 seasons and 90 or so episodes I believe.  I want you to know, I felt it.  I felt the effects of being almost lost in my own life from being fed someone else’s story for such a long duration.  I had a couple of dreams with those characters in them and I definitely felt down on myself.  It’s been a bit more than a week that I stopped and I feel I snapped back into reality, but I worry that there are people out there who do this all the time.  And if so, it’s not surprising that things that we witness on news are happening, that people are losing their mental health and that the issue is seemingly out of control.

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Our minds are vulnerable and if we feed them information that makes us feel angry or paralyzed, it is easy to drift and feel a heavy heart.  I am not saying that this can prevent all the suicides and crimes that happen in the world, but I am sure that if we spent less time in front of the screens and more time with our feet in the grass looking at the sky, we will feel happier overall.  I know I feel really crappy after I eat junk food and watch stupid TV shows.  When I don’t, when I eat clean and read inspiring books, I inevitably feel high on life.  Sure, this is not an answer for everyone but it can sure help prevent an experience of despair and going down to rabbit hole to most of us.  As humans, we are vulnerable, so the more we work on feeding ourselves the good stuff, the better chances we have of staying sane.

What are you feeding your body, mind and soul with?

Curiosity or Being Nosy

I would love to hear from you: what are the most offensive questions people ask you? What are the questions that people ask that leave you feeling annoyed? What are the questions that you have a ready answer for because you know people will interrogate?
I truly believe that how we react to others is about us not about them, but I wonder what is driving nosiness that is closeted as curiosity.  I wonder, because when asked the following questions, I don’t really have an experience that people are interested in me, but rather that they are going through the laundry list of questions that borderline offensive.
Did you lose/gain some weight?
Are you going to go for a girl?
How much money can you make with that?
Why is your husband (fill in the blank)?
Is your son….?
Are you still breastfeeding?
How long do you plan on breastfeeding?
When will your book come out?
How long have you been working on it/that?
The one about having a girl is my favorite. I am a happily married woman with 2 beautiful children (precisely what I wanted for myself) and while I wanted to have a girl, shortly after realizing I wasn’t having a girl, I closed that chapter.  I simply realized that no 2 kids are alike and that having 2 children is what I wanted, that gender preference, while I am sure many had it, is an unfair demand to have.  In fact, I think it’s perfect I am a mom of 2 boys because I have studied relationship and men for quite some time before getting married and in some ways, watching the world through my boys’ eyes is completing this research for me.  I am able to understand men in a way I couldn’t until I was able to picture that every one of the men I know was once a little boy.  That gave me perspective I never thought of.
To ask me if I will “chase a girl” as some would tell me is even rude because I just turned 40 and after my second pregnancy, I was recommended not to get pregnant again.  I didn’t have issues, but I could’ve and that was a scary thought.  To think that my ambition to have a girl could in any way jeopardize my health and leave my 2 already existing children without a mother is a narrow minded proposition at best.  Besides, I have friends who have little girls so when I want to play with one, I can, I don’t have to commit to raising her.
I am not sharing this because I am bitter, I am not.  In fact, I am committed to not being triggered by anything that people ask because when I am, I gave them my power.  But I wanted to share this experience to underline that asking a serious of stupid questions like this is not about intimacy or getting closer to someone but more like interrogation that I don’t think most of us appreciate.  You can be curious without being nosy.
Please share with me what are some of the questions people ask of you that sting you?  And please, share this post with a friend so I can hear from them too.
Love,
Marija

It’s never too late …

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”   George Eliot

I went to see a healer a few weeks back, it was a friend’s recommendation and a treat, so I couldn’t refuse.  I can’t say much about it because some of it was fairly confusing and I’d rather let it sit, but he did say something to me that keeps replaying in my mind over and over again.  He said (or rather channeled), that I will become even more successful when I acknowledge and appreciate all the successes I already have in my life.

I’m not a pessimist by nature, at all, but if you listen to me talk sometimes, you would think I could be, because I would often point my gaze in the direction of things that aren’t working yet, rather than look at all the miraculous things that do.  I often do this simply because I want to be acknowledged once and for all for everything I do.  This was missing in my childhood; it is a father who opens the door for a daughter’s success and breaks her away from mother’s nurturing and in my case, he wasn’t around.  This deep wound had followed me like a shadow always whispering softly: “you are not enough.”  While I am among the rare aware ones that can acknowledge it and get passed it, the wound is really there and sure as heck it had an impact.

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If you are in late 30’s, about to hit 40 like me, or already in your 40s or even 50s, you must deal with some version of: “it’s beginning to be too late for me to do some things.”  I swear, when I was pregnant, both with my first one at the age of 35 and the second one at the age of 37, I felt that my body would never be the same, that I would never be able to move it as quickly and as gracefully as I could before.  I felt that my breast would forever stay huge and I’d never fit any of my silky tops that I always liked to wear.  In fact, I gave most of them away.  I am not kidding when I say that when my younger one was at the hospital at birth and I listened to lactation consultant (instead of my own motherly instinct) to pump every three hours, and at some point my breasts were a size of watermelon.  I felt so strongly like stabbing them with something to release an enormous pressure of breasts too full with milk.  Thankfully, I’ve already done this once at that point so I knew all the tricks, pain killers, cabbage wraps and hot water hand expressing.  (It’s ok, you probably only get this if you were a breastfeeding mamma.)

To get to the point, so many things in my life seemed like they just timed out.  I could write a longer list of things no longer possible than anything creative to counteract it.  In fact, I often visit that space even now and it’s hard to be in it.  I just know to allow my emotions to teach me instead of stepping on it and pretending that all is well.  In fact, I have spent over $20K learning about ways in which it is safe to express emotion as a woman so I can be free, so I can use it to fuel my creativity and increase my light and not dim it down.  In fact, I became a better human being altogether after, because the more I let myself be me, the less I am really concerned by what the others are doing.

And no offense, I still don’t fully enjoy or directly benefit from ton of photoshopped (and sometimes real) pictures of women expressing their freedom by being almost naked right there on the screen, wearing ton of make-up, coloring their eyebrows like they are using sharpies and reporting on every single thing they do in their day as if us, real people, really care.  I get annoyed and surprised daily that the Kim Kardashians of this world have millions of followers and I cannot get over 600 unless I literally post at least 2 times a day.  I feel deep anger when I bump into social media accounts, from FB, IG to youtube where young girls and Millennials are asking the audience what they should post about.  Really?  You want me to give you the content so that you can keep on telling me how to live my life.  I find this contradictory at best.  I almost never watch it to the end, I can’t, it provokes the part of me that is pissed off for having worked really hard for what I now have, for actually thinking things through and posting things that make a real difference for me and at least a few people who I know will read or see it.

But that anger and frustration brings me nothing good.  Sometimes I feel that having 2 small children is a perfect distraction for being sucked into the reality show world and garbage that I feel is bombarding us every day.  And while I judge all this and claim it is not really worth my time, I am also facing the reality of getting older, of having grown up without internet, cell phone, and being gifted my first computer when I was already in college.  It is hard to know this reality and not feel like it may no longer be my time, that perhaps, my posts will never attract a wider audience and my writings will never really be read by more than a few loyal readers who probably also personally know me.  Some will even feel bad for me, think that I am sharing too much, revealing things that are best kept under the radar, but that would, in my view, take me even further behind than I already feel I am.

So what can we do? what am I doing about all this? How am I fighting this reality?  I am actually not fighting it at all.  I am allowing things that come my way, that I read or am bombarded by via social media, and I allow myself to feel what I feel.  I let the anger come up, the annoyance, the sadness even.  I let it all come up so I can fully acknowledge its presence.  I grant it space, I allow it to be.  Then, I look for mirrors, for lessons, for the buttons that got pushed on me because the truth is, not one of those media posts was ever created only to annoy me personally.  And then I break it down, until I can feel the emotion release its grip on me, until I see something about myself, often not a very pretty insight, that resonates.  It is usually one of these flavors:

I am envious that someone else is doing it successfully and I am not.  I am comparing myself to them and think that I deserve better.  I feel like I have so much to say but I don’t want to be humble to acknowledge and ask for attention.  I am still living inside of the fear of what would the others say.  I don’t want to be judged.  I hate it that most of them don’t care and I do.  I don’t want to look amateur.  It’s hard to let myself be a beginner at this age… etc

Here is where I start feeling some release and even some creative energy flowing.  You see, the platforms are there and available to all of us.  What we want and who we want to be can be created now easier than ever before.  And even if one doesn’t use social media and all the things that we have at our finger tips, go do that something you always wanted to do: take a course of French, learn how to drive, take a painting lesson, go to a choir, travel to that place you always wanted to see.  Write a long list of things that you want and see which one excites you the most and go for that one.

Perhaps it’s easier said than done, but you are either playing the game of life or sitting in the stands.  I have been in both places and I know that I come alive when I am in the game.  Sure, as soon as I come back to the stands I hear all the criticism of what I just did, but so what.  For when we are in a game, nothing else matters, we are fully alive.  There is no day like today, there is no time like now.  You can be what you always dreamt of being even if you haven’t yet gathered the social proof for it.  If you do it long enough, though, I am sure you will.

With love,

Marija