10 Secret Steps That Will Bring Magic To Your Day (Part 1)

Today I realized how soon is Christmas: 8 days left. Till New Year’s Eve – 16 days. Being from Ukraine made me long for a number of other winter holidays: St Nicholas day (Dec 19) and Orthodox Christmas (that is celebrated on Jan 7). In addition to this, there is another amazing date: Winter Solstice (Dec 21). I always found it silly that people get all crazy over the gifts hunt and ‘made-in-china’ decorations. It amuses me that in America you start to see Christmas promotions in November. However, when I was on the evening walk a few days ago I realized something important, I think. I saw a holiday rush as a means to unite people, make them feel like they belong and are a part of something bigger. It is a natural sensation that makes a human being’s life worth it. In the essay ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man’s futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of a world devoid of God and eternal truths or values.

Holiday lights

Finding magic in your life is a lot easier than you might think. A traditional ‘fight for the light’ is really not that necessary, while in pursue of magic, buying 25K worth of Christmas decorations to make your house the brightest in a community is an option but far not the only one.

“A star falls from the sky and into your hands. Then it seeps through your veins and swims inside your blood and becomes every part of you. And then you have to put it back into the sky. And it’s the most painful thing you’ll ever have to do and that you’ve ever done. But what’s yours is yours. Whether it’s up in the sky or here in your hands. And one day, it’ll fall from the sky and hit you in the head real hard and that time, you won’t have to put it back in the sky again.”
― C. JoyBell C.

10 secret steps to make magic happen

resize

1. Start your day with a special kind of coffee

Recipe by Tove Jansson – novelist, painter, illustrator and comic strip author; she is best known as the author of the Moomin books for children.

You’ll need:

ground coffee, milk, honey and cinnamon

How to make:

  • Combine 1/4 cup of milk with 2/4 cup of water. Add 1/2-1 tsp  of honey; stir well.

coffee-turkish

  • Add 2 tsp of grind coffee beans (with a little extra tip). Top it with a pinch of cinnamon. One more pinch of cinnamon you add to the fire that cooks your coffee. Let the fire know what awaits it.

cinnamon-magic-flame

  • Stir while cooking. And when it is about to escape add a little more cinnamon to the coffee to make it calm down.

2737310-r3l8t8d-650-7

What’s the magic:

Life becomes better after you drink it. Things and dreams that avoided coming true would suddenly start to. Other little wonders will start to occur as well!

littleprincecover

2. Buy/download  and start reading The Little Prince by Antonie de Saint-Exupery while drinking that coffee (see step 1)

It’s very short (just 64 pages). The book is translated into more than 250 languages which makes it fourth most-translated book in the world. It was first published in 1943. The Little Prince is a novella by a French writer, poet and pioneering aviator Saint-Exupery. In this story he is thought to have drawn on the aviation experiences in the Sahara Desert.

The-Little-Prince

The watercolour illustrations that were made by the author add a magic visuals to a poetic tale about a pilot, who is stranded in a desert and meets a young prince who has fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid.

It was written during the Second World War: France had fallen and Saint-Exupery fled to North America.

Don’t let the cute illustrations fool you, it is much more than a child’s book, although it’s styled as one. It is a voyage of an adult in search of a sincerity and simple childhood-like excitement.

The Little Prince meets a pilot in a desert
A shot of the Paramount Pictures trailer

Where to get it:

  • Buy a printed version at your local book shop. Be old school, books are very cool to hold in your hands and turn over the pages.
  • Buy an e-book on Amazon.
  • Download a free version (pdf, ePUB or Kindle) – no spam, no tricks, this link actually works: http://ebookbees.com/the-little-prince-free-ebook/

3. and 4. Music cures. Dancing too. Get your day moving with a next step. Now we are all different with unique tastes but here’s what I  was writing this article to:

Music really can make magic happen. I love those chill electronics by Moderat (German based group). Even 10 minutes of getting lost in a dance in between day-to-day errands putts a newly polished smile on my face.

FearFree from Маша Пасічник on Vimeo.

Options:

  • Here is one more podcast (it is literally called “Music, cure me”) at Ukrainian online radio. (Even though Intro is in Russian, music is not 🙂

https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?feed=%2Faristocratsfm%2F%25D0%25BC%25D1%2583%25D0%25B7%25D1%258B%25D0%25BA%25D0%25B0%25D0%25BB%25D0%25B5%25D1%2587%25D0%25B8-%25D1%2581%25D0%25B5%25D0%25B7%25D0%25BE%25D0%25BD-2-%25D1%258D%25D0%25BF%25D0%25B8%25D0%25B7%25D0%25BE%25D0%25B4-12-29112016%2F&hide_cover=1&light=1

  • Feeling more rhythmic? This youtube charnel full of salsa tutorials that are actually very easy to follow fulfills the mood:
  • For a funk mix of electronics this is the way to go:

But seriously go to dancing classes. Literally sign up for tonight’s local class ‘try it out’!! 🙂 It cleans you inside out – body and soul. It took me ages to make this decision. You know how it goes: lack of time, no partner, too expensive, just keep forgetting. It’s all called procrastination – google it! Signing up to classes takes a simple action – just find a school close to you or the one that looks fun, ask a friend, go to yelp, attend evening open dance classes – don’t over think it.

That’s a good movie to get you inspired on the topic (so old – so good):

wine

5. Seal your wish in an empty bottle of wine.

How to prepare:

          • Buy a bottle of wine (not too expensive, don’t make it too fency, or the wish will think that you are trying to buy it out). It has to be special: pick by nice label picture, or drink the one that a good person gave you, or buy one here – this wine store claims to expose wine to music, that should change its structure and make every cell of your body cheer.

sweepstake-winning-labels

dandelion wine by Ray Bradbury
That’s another great book to read by the way:)
          • Drink it. Preferably in a beautiful place to charge it with some good memories and share it with some good people, but I’ll tell you secretly – drinking it alone for this cause is fine too (maybe not the whole bottle…and don’t drink and drive, right?).
          • Make a wish, blow it inside the bottle and cork it right away (so that a wish can’t escape).

What’s the magic:

Your wish comes true! Really:) Just be humble and you’ll get 10 times worth of a wish.

To be continued…Saving some for the next magical day!!:)

These Places Are The Reason I Wake Up (part II)

Continuing the list (These Places Are The Reason I Wake Up (part I)), that so much aspires me make every new step… I just wanted to add that right after finishing the yesterday’s post on Iceland, I read an article on Werner Herzog’s film (that he shot last year in Iceland) Into The Inferno. It tells a story of a volcano eruption, braided into the local mythology. Its presence in Cannes and a notoriety of Herzog to be an exquisite romantic, makes The Inferno another must see.

Thinking back to the point I stopped the list makes all the dreams and pictures arise again. It is, as usual so close, yet so far. Just as far as a the airport. The next one is very special to me:

bison

Montana, USA

I remember I was 14. I was studying in the art school for teens in Kyiv, dreaming of establishing a sanctuary for wolves and becoming a movie director. Most of my friends lived in the neighborhood within walking distance. So I walked. I came to see my friend Ksusha. She was at home in her prolonged bedroom, at the far right corner of the apartment, her family lived at. A lot of defining moments of my life somehow happened there. She was reading a book, that I unfortunately can not remember. We decided to play a game, that was quite common for kids. You ask a question, open a book randomly, read a random passage. This was supposed to be an answer to your question. Usually, one would rather make up the connection between the actually words and the question, just keep it fun. Making text fit the question is quite easy. These time it was different enough to give me shivers. I remember asking a very cheesy question: “Where will I find happiness?”. The lines of the book said straight and clear: go buy the tickets, get on the plane and fly to Montana, USA. I wish I could quote. It was the end of the chapter. My friend and I got silent. No words needed.

Terry Badlands in Montana

I haven’t been to Montana yet. It almost feels like a reserve. In case, it got too unbearable – I would still have a dream to pursue and a place I was promised to find happiness.

Billings,_Montana_the_Yellowstone_River

Beautiful Downtown Neihart, MontanaMission_Mountains_National_Bison_Range_Montana

Montana is on the far north of the US. It shares a great national reserve with Wyoming and   Idaho. Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500 sq. mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. Montana is also a state, that is famous for its snowboarding. But mostly, it is a secluded place where vast territories make the size a very diluted extension. The Summer is short and the winter is longer, than in most parts of the US. The film Revenant was partly shot there. The movie production team noted, though, the unusually high temperatures and lack of snow that year. Hopefully Montana is still there when I need it. And hopefully that happiness is not covered in snow.

Another place to definitely be at is:

Norway

Oslo – the city of Edvard Munch, who painted the pre XX century icon Scream. Oslo is the capital of Norway, one of the most expensive and happiest countries in the world. If you don’t earn locally, a $20 pint of beer might be a bit too feisty. I can still remember the camping zones of Scandinavian football fans in Kyiv, Ukraine during UEFA Euro 2012. Hypnotized by the $1-2 for a half litter bottled beers, Swedish were countless times noticed by the grocery stores, dragging them by blocks. That followed the articles, that Swedish consumed all of the beer researves at the fan zones.

article-2159825-139FCE5F000005DC-485_634x422

Norway is also a very environmental friendly country. It reported to be moving towards banning the gas-burning cars by 2025. Great hiking. Plenty time to commit to it even for a full-time worker. Looks like a dream, on paper, at least to me.

Norway reached a planned 50 000 non-gas cars by 2015
Norway reached a planned 50 000 non-gas cars by 2015
Bergen_Sandviken,_Norway_at_night
Bergen Sandviken, Norway

norway-geirangerNorthern Lights near Tromsø, Norway

So far I only had a chance to visit Finland. It was a rather harsh experience. Granted I was pretty young kid. I remember a hotel that was promised to be right outside of Helsinki. Around an hour drive along the forest, in reality. I remember arriving on Sun just to realize, that nothing is open in Finland on Sundays, including the hotel reception. We found the keys in the mail box, along with a notion that we were the only visitors so far. After a few hours of struggle to find some signs of civilization, lost-in-translation issues, and false hopes to walk to a nearby town center, we managed to call a taxi. It took us to the only, still open bar. They obviously had no food, but alcohol and tea with sugar. A small gas station shop, with its heavenly cookies, was a save-of-the-day. As our further pre-travel research skill developed over time, this trip to Finland, I will never forget. There was the most gorgeous lake right in front of the hotel, surrounded with trees, bigger, than I could grasp. And that also was Finland.

Trollstigen Mountain Road in Norway
As I am watching today’s stage of Tour de France, the look at this photo makes me want to cycle there just too bad.

Lysebotn, Norway

There is much of the useful information for the future travelers, that made me very curious.

Norway landscapenorway

These places are the reason I wake up (part I)

It appears that I accumulated a solid amount of places, that are an absolute must see, while I was thinking on the bucket list. Their absolute beauty makes me ecstatic and motivates everyday to actually get out of bed, and do something, that can bring me closer to any of them. Here is just a few:

14863560864_602e1efcc6_b

Bolivia

I couldn’t recall what linked me to the country, but it’s picture of the sky reflected in the rainfall-covered desert was deeply curved in my imagination. I read about Salar de Uyuni. It is the world’s biggest salt flat. And just a few times a year, during the rain season in Bolivia, it gets covered by a few inches of water. This makes it the most perfect mirror on Earth. Scientists use it for the satellite calibration. While the local people enjoy its natural salt resources and tourist attraction, as their string to income.

I imagined the surrealism of the place. The infinity. I am obsessed with cycling. The road and the two wheels make me never want to stop, and so I often come back home exhausted and completely happy, laying on the cool floor right next to the dusted bike. I imagine cycling through that salt flat in Bolivia. I imagined the whole cycling competition there, like Tour de France or Giro. The never-ending snake of the peloton. How fascinating that would be? I painted it over and over again. And hope to experience it soon in the real life. If not a race,at least as my own challenge.

 

Chasing The Pink
Chasing The Pink 
Sky is The Limit
The Pink
Flat Tire In The Pink Desert
In the Pink Desert
Almost Emptiness
When Mountings Became Flat 2015
 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Iceland

I saw Iceland many times from the plane, during those hideous transcontinental flights. I saw it in one of my favorite movies The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. My friend  found a great reason to go to Iceland: Secret Solstice. It is a music festival, held in Reykjavík over the course of three days in the 24 hour midnight sun during the summer solstice. Iceland also seems to be a thrilling place to see Northern lights. I read a very picturesque description of how to accomplish it the best, in the blog, that was featured on CNN eventually.

Iceland Northern Lightsholidaysempire-laguna-blu-islanda-fly-and-driveIceland1

Iceland was very well described by William Morris:

…on Thursday morning about three Magniisson called me up to see Iceland I think I told you we were to go to Berufirth in the east first of all and we were just at the entrance to it now it is no use trying to describe it but it was quite up to my utmost expectations as to strangeness it is just like nothing else in the world it was a wild morning too very black out to sea and very bright sun under a sort of black canopy over Iceland. (William Morris: Journals of travel in Iceland. 1871. 1873)

  

Secret Solstice 2016.1
Secret Solstice 2016
The only party on Earth incide an ice glasier
The only party on Earth inside an ice glacier
Secret Solstice 2016
Inside an ice glacier
Secret Lagoon Party
Secret Lagoon Event

Why you should start your bucket list two years ago

It was a 5am walk along the same single path through the park in Arizona. It was a bit dirty, as it rained last night. The first rain for the past four months. People worshiped the sound of thunder. Humidity brought back smells to the air. The bloody red colored sun started to make its way through the protective clouds. It turns out one has to move to a desert to start to love rain. It took me two years. That was when my friend and I started the battle for that starved kid’s life inside of us. The one that once had no excuses and accepted no obstacles on the way to the wish.

The mission, as simple, as getting together at the music festival appeared somehow beyond accomplishable. For two years there was something in the way. I can remember each dialogue that excused it. The voices that were really trying to convince themselves, had adapted to accept the current life flow as the only option. There was constant lack of: money, time, reason, visa, etc.

February 2016 I received a short message: “Let’s go?”, with a headliners list of the Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain. The answer was just as short: “Let’s go.” Next week we bought the tickets. Emotions were overflowing us. We actually had a hard proof of the upcoming trip. It was hard to believe, the whole hing was about to go down, because of the simplicity we accomplished it with. To an extend, the situation reminded  me of the Berlin Wall. When it was physically broken, yet its ghost was still curved in the people’s subconsciousness.

It took us over a month to get used to the idea we would meet at the music festival that was across the ocean.

In Pursuit of Spanish Visa
In Pursuit of Spanish Visa

Then we bought the plane tickets. We only needed a visa now. The vast majority of the world countries need to officially grant you, a Ukrainian citizen a permit (visa), in order for you to enter their territory. It includes, but is not limited to: a detailed trip itinerary; information on the funds that cover your travel costs, and your stay at the country during the planned visit; description of the intentions and reasons for your travel; as well as a descriptive bio, working/marital status and a medical insurance. I found out that the nearest Spanish Consulates to Arizona were on Los Angeles and San Francisco. I couldn’t get hold of the first suggested location and so I booked a visa appointment with the Consulate General of Spain in SF.

Shortly I was on the flight to the most expensive city in the US, with only five hours to spare, in order to avoid the hotel costs, and be back to Arizona before night. The next words sounded like an echo in my dreams. According to the new agreements, Arizona is not under the SF Consulate jurisdiction anymore. I had to contact the Los Angeles office. And yes they have two websites, one of which has the outdated information. Yes, they have a tendency to not receive or return the calls. “Try to email them a lot.” – they said.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two month later my friend and I were both sitting on the sidewalk at 5am in Barcelona, Spain. We were trying to catch a taxi, but not really.. We were drunk with life, exhausted from all the dancing and high on oxygen in our blood. It was chilly and we had shivers from the sea breeze, that would sneak under our jeans jackets. The happy sound of the heartbeat resonated with the music and the feeling of life. It was so pure and real as if there was nothing else in the world. And no matter how many pros you can find – in the end of the day, it is always worth it!

WE CREATED OUR FIRST ‘BUCKET LIST’, when we came back home. Proudly, one dream was already accomplished, with a lot less effort than we were trying to label it with. The rest of the list doesn’t really fit in our current life stream. Most of it doesn’t pass the logical reasoning test. It is not meant for that magic and longed for post-retirement period of life, when one spare time and cash, hopefully. It is meant to keep us alive and conscious of who we really are. It is meant to teach us, what is worth our time. It is as simple as that: one needs a desert to worship rain; and one needs London to strive for a clear sky. And we all need air to keep us hight.

High