Happy For No Reason (Part Two)

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” ~John Milton

“According to scientists, we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. It is one thought per second during every waking hour. For the average person, 80 % of these habitual thoughts are negative. Every day we have more than 45,000 negative thoughts. Of those 60,000, 95% are the same thoughts you had yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.

Your thoughts aren’t always true.

We are so accustomed to believing our thoughts are true and automatically reacting to them, that we’re hardly aware we are doing it. Until we become aware of this, our path to happy for no reason is blocked.

You don’t’ believe everything you hear, do you? Of course not. You don’t believe everything you read either. And in this age of special effects and Photoshop, you certainly can’t believe everything you see. So …

Don’t believe everything you think! All suffering comes from believing our thoughts.

Thought are just packets of energy formed by neurochemical events in your brain, which can be measured in terms of electrical impulses and wave frequencies. Your thoughts don’t always give you an accurate picture of reality, yet your mind goes on broadcasting them anyway. When you shine a light on your negative thoughts – and see that you don’t have to believe them – it takes away much of their power to create misery. They have a strong grip on us, because we are wired that way. It stems from our primitive survival mechanisms that have run amok.

2 greatest barriers to happiness, fear and anxiety, have been hardwired in us for millennia to ensure our survival as a species. In today’s world this old wiring has become more harmful than helpful.”

In Borneo, the natives have an ingenious technique for capturing the wild monkeys that raid their crops and stores of food. They take an empty coconut shell and make a small hole in it, just large enough for a monkey’s hand. They out some rice into the coconut for bait and tie the coconut to the ground. The grieving monkey smelling the food comes to investigate. He sticks his hand inside the coconut to grab the rice but when he tried to pull out, because it’s clasped in a fist around the rice, it will not fit through a hole anymore. To escape the trap, monkey must let go of the rice. Because they will not let go, the monkeys of Borneo remain trapped.

A lot of us just like those monkeys: trapped by our negative thoughts because we just won’t let go of them. And the more we resist them, the more they stick around. It doesn’t help to try pushing them away – they’ll just keep coming back.

Marci suggests “Is it really true?” exercise, which helps understand a lot of what we think is not true www.happyfornoreason.com/bookgifts.

Happiness habits for empowerment:

  1. Focus on the solution
  2. Look for the lesson and the gift
  3. Make peace with yourself

According to the Dalai Lama, it is important to know which habits support happiness in your life and which don’t. In his book, The Art of Happiness, he writes:

“One begins identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those factors which lead to suffering. Having done this, one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness. That is the way.”

Happy For No Reason (Part One)

Recently I read a book “Happy for no reason” by Marci Shimoff. Marci told her story of feeling unhappy in spite of her achievements for many years. Her search for true happy self led her to this book and she teaches her readers how to be happy for no reason. At the same time she mentions in her book that early in her life someone explained to her that in the declaration of independence of the US it says that citizens have the right of the pursuit of happiness, and back two centuries ago the word “pursuit” meant not to chase after but practice.

Marci tells about 3 Guiding Principles to live by:

  1. What expands you makes you happier (The Law of Expansion)
  2. The Universe is out to support you (The Law of Universal Support)
  3. What you appreciate, appreciates (The Law of Attraction)

Marci’s favorite tool for using the Law of Attraction is what she calls her Secret Formula:

Intention – Be clear about what you want, in this case your desire for your greater happiness.

Attention – What you put your attention on grows stronger in your life. Put your attention on happiness by practicing the happiness habits each day.

No Tension – Let go and relax. As you practice the habits, be easy with yourself and trust that you are removing the blocks to experiencing greater happiness.

Setting your intention and envisioning your ideal.

“Start by writing down a declaration of your intention. Begin with “I’m grateful that I’m.. “

And complete the sentence with what Happy for No reason feels like to you. Use the phrase I’m because these are the two most powerful words in the English language; they help call your intention into being. Use present tense, as the power and immediacy of the present tense magnetize your heart’s desire to you. Now picture yourself being Happy for No reason. What would life be like if you were experiencing that state of unshakable inner peace and wellbeing? What would you feel and do? How would you interact with others?

Imagining how you want to feel may seem fanciful or silly, but it’s actually a very powerful exercise. The more clearly you can experience what Happy for no reason feels like to you, the more easily you will bring it into being. Just doing this process puts you in the vibrational field of Happy for no Reason. You probably began to feel happier just from intending and imagining it.

I also recommend that you create a vision board to look at as you practice the Happiness Habits. A vision board is a visual representation of whatever you want to create in your life. Many people use these boards to focus on the things they want to get, but could be images that represent states of feeling happy. People you love, or happy images, etc. images that make you feel expanded, open and uplifted. My board is hanging on the wall across from her desk and she looks at it throughout the day.”

Another interesting fact in the book is about the happiness set point. Marci says: “Like your weight set-point, which keeps the scale hovering around the same number; your happiness set point will remain the same unless you make a concerted effort to change it. But the truth is, to be truly happy, all you have to do is raise your happiness set-point.” To do it, we need to practice happiness habits. Marci discovered 21 of them, which you can download from her website www.happyfornoreason.com/bookgifts.

She also creatively came up with 7 specific steps for becoming happy for no reason, which correspond to the seven main areas of your life: personal power, mind, heart, body, soul, purpose, and people. This holistic approach is vital.

Taking Ownership of your happiness has 2 aspects:

  1. Accepting that being happy is up to you and that you have the ability and power to be happier by changing your habits.
  2. Taking response-ability: responding to all the events in your life in a way that supports your happiness.

Our ability to respond to what happens to us dramatically affects our happiness. Years ago, Marci’s mentor, Jack Canfield, taught her the following simple equation that explains this concept:

E+R=O (Events + Response =Outcome)

People who are Happy for no Reason orchestrate events in their lives when they are able to. When they are not able to change the events, they change their responses. You always have the right to change your attitude.

Try some of the exercises from Marci’s website and remember to take baby steps, overcoming your resistance to change. Don’t be harsh on yourself. And remember to create a support system, as happiness loves company. Invite other people to join you. Enlist the support of a couch, mentor, friend, or a group of friends. Remember, you can increase the impact of practicing happy for no reason sevenfold by simply discussing your experience with other people. Happiness revolution starts with us, because the world is as we are.

42 Things I Love About Santa Monica

Almost three months ago I was on a very rough flight from Boston to LA. There was turbulence, there was horrid pain in my ears and there was fear that this time the plane may not make it to LA. To my big surprise we landed. I saw my friend but couldn’t hear her. She picked me up and drove me to her home in Santa Monica. I instantly felt warmth both of her presence and warm air of LA. No more cold of Boston winter. I saw light-minded palm trees instead of trees with no leaves. It felt as if I died and wend to paradise. I was still sick but I knew I was going to get better. I stayed on my friend’s couch, wrote and looked through the bay windows at the lush tropical vegetation that was curiously looking back at me as if saying: “Who is new here?”

On the second day I walked to the beach and sat on the bench, it was all I could do, as I had no energy to exercise yet. I just wanted to absorb ocean breeze and see the beach. It felt familiar, just like back home in Sochi. People mainly with dogs were passing by and we didn’t know each other’s stories. But I wanted them to know that I was happy just to be here. Everything may pass you by unless you choose to take a note and appreciated every moment of it. I’ve been looking around me and noticing all. I made a big step into improving my life. I’m so glad I came and explored Santa Monica, but it is time to leave. How familiar can you get with something in just over 2 months? Familiar enough to love it:

  1. Wind-bended rows of Palm trees on the 4th Street
  2. Strangers on the beach walk asking you to try their products or validate their business ideas
  3. Captive chess pieces waiting to be released in the chess park cells
  4. Homeless people sleeping in the Palisades Park in the morning with child-like peaceful faces
  5. The bucket of Shrimper’s Net Catch with Secret Recipe Cajun spice at Bubba Gump
  6. Dragon Roll at Hara sushi, always packed and serving only fresh, tasty and half-priced sushi
  7. Jazz nights at Casa del Mar with older than your average crowd
  8. Quantified Self events, where people and numbers meet at Coloft
  9. Writing from Inner Self Class with Rachelle at Santa Monica Community College
  10. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Herbs at Yo San University Clinic
  11. Chocolate croissant at the Coffee Bean with fire pit on Wilshire Street
  12. One Dollar Oyster specials at Enterprise Fish Company on Main Street
  13. Church bells ringing at The First United Methodist Church on 11th street at 11AM
  14. Socializing with drinks in the garden by the pool at Viceroy
  15. Urth café on Main street, where I organized my first CA happiness formula testing
  16. The drills of beach volleyball with Thao Pham at 106 Entrada Drive
  17. Pet center on 826 Wilshire Blvd, where you can volunteer to walk the dog, who is unfortunate
  18. Handsome men working as cashiers in the Whole Foods store
  19. Tall grown up man walking an elderly woman on Washington street every day
  20. Lounge at Sonoma wine country in Santa Monica Place
  21. Drivers’ and pedestrians’ agitation during Farmer’s market on Wednesdays
  22. Monthly Philosophy Club with Brian at Yahoo center
  23. Beautiful courtyard of the Main Library and its themed events
  24. No plastic bag policy in the stores
  25. Lean LA events with panel discussions in the Civic Center
  26. Post office as a remainder of the old era: while you can hardly find a post office box on the street, some people still use snail mail
  27. One week free pass to work at the Coworksla sharing space
  28. Muscle gym puzzle because you never know if those who practice there are normal people or Circle de Soleil gymnasts
  29. Napoleon cake at the Ukrainian Deli on Wilshire
  30. Vons smart-phone friendly sophisticated coupon system
  31. 24 hour Fedex on Wilshire with its ivy-covered wall
  32. Eclectic plays like “Why we have a body” at Edgemar center for the arts
  33. The Aquamarine color of the Lady, The Georgian Hotel
  34. The feel of the Callahan’s diner reminds me of New York
  35. Montana Street’s Fathers Office, where noone under 21 is admitted
  36. Fog and rain, and you are in a completely different place altogether
  37. Tourists off sightseeing buses eating Krispy Kreme donuts as part of their tour in the Palisades Park
  38. Architectural feats of different ages, shapes and colors
  39. Group joggers, boot campers and serious cyclists in full gear in action by the beach
  40. Exotic trees and flawless flower beds in very unexpected places
  41. The challenge of the big stairs from the beach to the bluffs
  42. Wide white beach, the ultimate answer to Santa Monica’s heart

The Man With The Violin

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Watch video of the performance Pearls Before Breakfast.

From Washington Post by Gene Weingarten.

The Businessman and The Fisherman

An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor’s orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.

“Only a little while,” the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.

“But… What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard M.B.A. and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you could run your expanded enterprise with proper management.

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, senor, how long will all this take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years, 25 tops.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions senor? Then what?”

“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll in to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

From the book “The 4-hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss.

Unlock Your Love-Money Frequency

Several weeks ago I participated in a conference call by Debbie Berndt “Unlock your love-money frequency”. Debbie told us about her personal experience and how people approach their problems in the wrong way. What it means they want the effect to change the cause. Ex., If I had love, money, etc. then I’ll be Ok.debbie2

“In reality only changing the cause changes the effect, because inner vibration = external experience. She said that many people ask “Why don’t we get what we want”? Debbie answers: “Because what we want consciously is not in alignment with our subconscious belief system. Signal is distorted and continuing to create the past.

Divine energy is neutral (non-judgemental) – creates more life of whatever we Think-Feel-Be (your wish is my command). Subconscious doesn’t know the difference between a wish and a fear. People think that after 8 years old their Belief system was set. They were molded to be someone else, not true themselves based on other’s dysfunctional views of the world.

You are not conscious of your entire belief system (it is subconscious). Most of what runs your life is suppressed belief system that has tremendous power over you (you can’t heal what you aren’t aware of). You forgot about your true divine nature.

Create something new. Divine energy is flowing through you already giving you what you are currently experiencing. Just change the film – vibrational frequency to unlock your true potential. Remember your true nature and transform your outer reality.

Unlock the Vibrational code for love and money.

Mind/Emotions: Create a new habit of thinking/feeling. Repeatedly flood subconscious BS with new ideas that are in alignment with your highest goals until they take hold. Clear toxic emotions and relationships. Focus on what you want, not what you fear. Get in control of your mind.

Actions/Being: To get what you never had, you have to do what you have never done. Step outside comfort zone. Go toward goal – stay in action instead of complaining. When you act, your thinking and feeling must match the energy you want to attract. Avoid toxic environments

Health Relationship with divine: This is your core relationship, trust, worthiness, see your live through new eyes. What do you really want? Don’t write down what you think you can have, but what you really want? How would your life be different if you got this? What arises inside of you that is not in alignment with your dreams? Lies, distorted energy, doubt, tension/fear.

Turn your Love Switch ON to your true self to unlock a higher frequency! Lower your old beliefs and raise your true self.

What is possible for you?

  • New love relationship that lasts a lifetime
  • Freedom to do the work you love
  • Feeling satisfied and happy
  • Live abundantly in the home of your dreams
  • Travel anywhere you like
  • Contribute to great charities/non-profits
  • Make an impact on the world
  • What if you don’t get what you want?
  • What is the cost to you?
  • How will that impact the rest of your life?
  • What if it took so much longer and you ultimately settled for mediocre love, income and life?

I believe in you. I want to help, but I can’t help you if you don’t participate. You can have it all. You deserve great love, great wealth and a great life! “Unlock Your Love Money Frequency – Attract the love of your life and the wealth of your dreams.”

Click here to replay a mind-expanding call on how you can shift the frequency of your thoughts and emotions to attract the things you want in life including great love and abundance http://attendthisevent.com/?eventid=26307507“.

Fun Ride to Health and Pride

Several weeks ago I interviewed Greg Rublev, the founder of LeanWagon: “fun ride to health and pride”.

Marina: What is LeanWagon about?

Greg: LeanWagon is about helping dieters eat better and lose weight. It’s about being happier and healthier.

Marina: How does it work? What do users need to do?

Greg: First of all, users need to already have some motivation to make a change of some sort in order to lose weight. The wellness movement is the new green movement, so the number of people that want to make a change is growing. They are both inspired by publicized stories of famous people losing weight, as well scared by stories about the growing diabetes epidemic.

Greg: Second, when users come to the site, it will usually be through a recommendation of a friend. They will immediately become a part of a team and have access to a professional coach. They simply need to agree to make gradual changes in their diet – in every day choices they make, and they need to share their progress with their team and their coach. LeanWagon guides the process that can take 6-12 months.

Marina: Who are the coaches?

Greg: The coaches are nutrition and fitness professionals, with an interest in helping people lose weight.

Marina: How do you find coaches? Do you hire them or is there another benefit for coaches?

Greg: Yes, we recruit coaches to work for LeanWagon. In addition to getting paid, LeanWagon provides them with an opportunity to improve their professional reputations.

Marina: How are you different from WeightWatchers? What is your secret source?

Greg: The weight loss industry is very crowded, however despite 40B spent annually, the obesity problem is getting worse every year. WeightWatchers is one of the bright spots. It is the one solution that works, primarily because it provides a support system that enables people to stick to the change they have committed to make. However, WeightWatchers is both expensive and inconvenient, since members have to attend physical meetings. Also, most people are unwilling to keep track of what they eat every day.

Marina: So your customers don’t need to go to real time meetings, but just follow recommendations based on trust system? Is there any tracking involved?

Greg: There will be some real time meetings via chat and phone conferences. Members will track whether they are sticking to their commitments, as well as how their weight changed over time.

Marina: Do they get any rewards or incentives besides losing weight?

Greg: Most active members will get recognition on the site, and some prizes are forthcoming as well.

Marina: How did you come up with this idea? Did you experience weight problem yourself?

Greg: Definitely.

Greg: I was about 40-50lbs overweight for about 5 years. I often felt powerless to change that and it caused depression and anxiety for me. One day, a friend of mine told me about a simple change I could make in what I eat – avoid bread, pasta and sugar 6 days per week – and that got me started on this journey. What really caused me to get started creating LeanWagon was the incredible feedback I got from my friends and relatives, when I talked to them about making a change, and seeing how many of them actually tried it themselves with quite a lot of success.

Marina: That is great!

Marina: Who are your main competitors today?

Greg: Our main competitor is WeightWatchers. There are many startups taking various approaches to wellness, but none have the traction that even remotely resembles WeightWatchers.

Marina: What do you think about Healthrageous?

Greg: They sell to companies, so their growth is limited due to competition in that segment. Their solution promotes walking through awareness via a GPS tracker, and there is a lot of competition there from companies like Nike+, Fitbit and Runkeeper to name a few. Ultimately, nutrition is what makes a much bigger impact on weight, so that is where our focus is.

Marina: Can you describe your customer archetype? Age, gender, income, etc.?

Greg: Our target right now is someone who has tried to diet once or twice, but is still overweight.

Greg: It’s going to be someone in the 25-65 range, knows how to use “the google” and facebook.

Marina: When did you start and what stage are you at? Beta? Are you doing fundraising?

Greg: We started in September 2011 and we conducted a beta to validate some of our assumptions. We are rapidly improving the product now and are planning to raise seed financing later this year.

Marina: Who is on your team and what PR have you done? I know that you participated in a business plan competition recently.

Greg: Our team consists of three full-time founders, each covering biz dev, technology and UI. We also have 2 part-time developers helping build the product. We pitched at Ultra Light Startup recently, and actually got 2nd place 🙂 It was our first pitch and it was very good practice and a lot of fun.

Marina: What is the most important element in the process of losing weight?

Greg: Being open minded and trying things that may not be in your comfort zone, foods you are not used to and habits you don’t have yet. These new ideas will become second nature, if you only give them a chance.

Marina: You mentioned happiness in the beginning. Do you think there is a direct relationship between good health and happiness? Can’t an overweight person feel happy?

Greg: Absolutely, they can. I certainly did when I was overweight. However, happiness is not a constant state, it is a feeling that you possess some of the time as you go about your life. Being overweight definitely caused me in particular to feel unhappy very frequently, and I know many people who would agree with me. So, perhaps a better way to say it is that LeanWagon is about being “happier”, perhaps “much happier”.

Marina: Are you planning to list your site in the Quantified Self directory? http://quantifiedself.com/guide/tag/health

Greg: Definitely, we are planning a PR campaign which will kick off after the next version of the product is up and running.

Marina: Final words to the readers? What are you looking for: users, investors, coaches?

Greg: All of the above! We love interacting with users and coaches, as that is informing our product development. We interact with a lot of potential investors, and we like to develop long term relationships with the right investors for us, and that starts with early conversations, feedback and ongoing updates.

Marina: Thank you so much for your time, Greg. And best of luck to LeanWagon, it is a great idea and cool website! 🙂

Greg Rublev: Thanks, it was a pleasure!!!!

Tips For A Better Life

My parents sent me a presentation called Tips for a better life in Russian. It has blooming cactuses on every slide as a reminder that even dry cactuses can bloom.

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile.
2. Sit in silence for at least 20 minutes each day.
3. Sleep for 7 hours.
4. Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
5. Play more games.
6. Read more books than you did the previous year.
7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
9. Dream more while you are awake.
10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured.
11. Drink plenty of water.
12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
13. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
14. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
15. Don’t have negative thoughts about things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
16. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
17. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
18. Smile and laugh more.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
20. Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does.
21. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
22. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
23. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about. Don’t compare your partner with others.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
25. Forgive everyone for everything.
26. What other people think of you is none of your business.
27. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
28. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
29. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
30. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
31. The best is yet to come.
32. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
33. Do the right thing!
34. Call your family often.
35. Your inner most is always happy. So be happy.
36. Each day give something good to others.
37. Don’t over do. Keep your limits.
38. Share this with someone you care about.

Synchromy in The Russian Hall

Often we resist the unknown, inconvenient and different. Last Friday I resisted going to the concert in Hollywood my friend invited me to. “How bizarre, a concert in a Russian Church.”- I thought, but I still went without any expectations. Here is what happened in the next two hours after we arrived…

The concert started with Raison d’Etre by The Vientos Trio– three instruments Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon. It was very playful and meaningful. Three musicians were challenging common definitions of the performance and what it is for, reasons to love and play musical instruments. To me they spoke about life and happiness: we all have our own reasons to live for and love life for.

The next piece was by Jason Barabba called Shouting advice from the international dateline, being mistaken for God… Jason said that the idea came from a show, where the panelists were asked about a place where you could look into the future, the answer being the international dateline because you skip a day when you cross over it. Johnny Vegas, one of the panelists on the show, said the following: “Me personally (but I’m selfish), what I would do I’d get a jet ski and stay on the line and go around the world continually, following that line, shouting advice and being mistaken for God.” It stuck with Jason. And this piece was born.

As I was listening to it, I couldn’t stop thinking about a person who is passing by on a jet ski and shouting advice on how to live. Would I believe him? Probably not, as it sounds ridiculous. Would I feel better? Probably yes, as it totally distracts me from my worries and puts my attention to a crazy person striving to get attention. And perhaps, sympathize with him and what he is doing.

Sometimes all we need is to get distracted from our selfish needs and see that others have bigger thing to worry about. “When life’s problems seem overwhelming, look around and see what other people are copying with. You may consider yourself fortunate” ~Ann Landers.

Daniel Gall’s Grace was “about the strength that comes from losing yourself in emotion. When it is too much and you lose control, there is a state of grace to be had. There is grace in despair… The piece is a descending gesture, it’s falling, melting, crying, sighing, etc. And as we descend we also shift chromatically downwards, furthering our descent, and often shifting into a dissonance with the counterpoint that drives my music forward.”

I experienced grace that felt like sadness, it felt like when we learn that we are missing something in our lives that we can’t get. Then suddenly we were struck by Vera Ivanova’s piece for solo piano – one of the Three studies in uneven Meters. The pianist was able to learn only one out of three pieces, which means that the piece is technically and emotionally complex.

Even though it was about two minutes long, it felt like a crisis ending in catharsis. When someone has a crisis in life and it usually peaks at some point when we ask: “What the hell is my life about? What do I do now?” The catharsis may even be followed by depression. If only we knew how to recognize what to do next…

Damjan Rakonjac’s Variations piece was warm vs cold tones and one style overlapping another. I felt like a visitor in the Isabella Gardner Museum, where you can find an eclectic collection of anything your heart desires from different countries and centuries. You just need to know what you like. The Universe is abundant and life is full of surprises. If you are unhappy, you should never stop, but continue walking, experimenting, striving to meet your true self.

Dante De Silva – The Absurd ABC made a profound impact on me. Dante mentioned that after the birth of his son, his life changed: composing has become a much more difficult task. “One would think that the decreased number of hours that I could write would be the problem, but it isn’t. The problem is that those few hours come after a long day of diaper changes, baby talk, reading children’s books, playing with the same toys for hours, and acting like a baby. When he finally goes to bed, I can concentrate on writing, but my mind is conforming to baby standards and I can’t think analytically or critically enough to write. All that is going through my mind is what Curious George just did or if I forgot to say good night to the cow jumping over the moon.” Jason had an idea to combine some of that baby time and writing time together. He found the Absurd ABC, an alphabet-themed picture book by Walter Crane published in 1874 at LibriVox.org book. He downloaded the recording of it performed by Sam Stinson, and digitally chopped it up to isolate the letters and make sentences that aren’t in the original text. As a result of composing this piece, his son learned ABCs.

As I was listening to Dante’s piece, I couldn’t stop feeling him struggling and moving on at the same time, overcoming difficulties and learning from them. There is no growth without suffering. That is when true transformation happens.

The last piece was Jenni Brandon’s Sea Quartet. She said she was “inspired by the beautiful ocean beside which she lives as well as the many trips she has taken to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.”

Instead of the sea I heard something else. I heard inner peace. That is what it sounded like: no matter what happens in life, it cannot disrupt what you have inside you. “This joy that I have – the world didn’t give it, the world can’t take it away” ~ Shirley Caesar.

At the end of the concert I was browsing through the wave-like paintings by Daniel Gall and wondering how beautiful it is to not have any expectations sometimes. Life is full of surprises indeed. Who knew?

I Have Resisted Change

A Sunday Poem

I have resisted change with all my will …

Cried out to life, “Pass by life and leave me still.”

Bit I have found as I have trudged time’s track

That all my wishing will not hold life back.

I cannot bid the merest moment “stay.”

So finding I have no power to change change

I have changed my self. Adn this is strange.

But I have found when I let change come,

The very change that I was fleeing from

Has often held the good I had prayed for,

And I was not the less for change, but more.

Once I accepted life and was not loathe to change

I found change was the seed of growth.

~ James Dillet Freeman, American Unity minister, author and poet (1912-2003)

The Fighter

I fight a battle every day
Against discouragement and fear;
Some foe stands always in my way,
The path ahead is never clear!
I must forever be on guard
Against the doubts that skulk along;
I get ahead by fighting hard,
But fighting keeps my spirit strong.

I hear the croakings of Despair,
The dark predictions of the weak;
I find myself pursued by Care,
No matter what the end I seek;
My victories are small and few,
It matters not how hard I strive;
Each day the fight begins anew,
But fighting keeps my hopes alive.

My dreams are spoiled by circumstance,
My plans are wrecked by Fate or Luck;
Some hour, perhaps, will bring my chance,
But that great hour has never struck;
My progress has been slow and hard,
I’ve had to climb and crawl and swim,
Fighting for every stubborn yard,
But I have kept in fighting trim.

I have to fight my doubts away,
And be on guard against my fears;
The feeble croaking of Dismay
Has been familiar through the years;
My dearest plans keep going wrong,
Events combine to thwart my will,
But fighting keeps my spirit strong,
And I am undefeated still!

~ Samuel Ellsworth Kiser, American poet (1862-1942)

Worth While

It is easy enough to be pleasant

When life flows by like a song,

But the man worth while is the one who will smile

When everything goes dead wrong.

For the test of the heart is trouble,

And it always comes with the years,

And the smile that is worth the praises of earth

Is the smile that shines through tears.

It is easy enough to be prudent

When nothing tempts you to stray,

When without or within no voice of sin

Is luring your soul away;

But it’s only a negative virtue

Until it is tried by fire,

And the life that is worth the honour on earth

Is the one that resists desire.

By the cynic, the sad, the fallen,

Who had no strength for the strife,

The world’s highway is cumbered to-day—

They make up the sum of life;

But the virtue that conquers passion,

And the sorrow that hides in a smile—

It is these that are worth the homage on earth,

For we find them but once in a while.

~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox, American poet (1850-1919)

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