The 3 things that changed my Life (life hacks, anyone interested?)

Although I don´t believe in Universal Formulas, I´m happy to share my TOP 3 LIFE HACKS, the goodies that work for me, the things that changed my life for better.

If they apply to you, great; if they don´t, I invite you to FIND YOUR OWN LIFE HACKS. Trust me, they exist. What makes a difference in your life may be different from what makes a difference in my life but those goodies – your goodies – are out there. Go and get them. Nobody will improve your life – only YOU can do it, starting with those daily, seemingly ordinary, things.

  1. Daily meditation.

At first, it felt like an impossible task. How could I – the over-doer always on schedule and on the run – stop, every day, for 15 or 20 minutes to do”nothing”? How could I take time from my overloaded day to sit, focus on my breath, and be – just be?

I believe most of us, particularly Westerners, arrive to Meditation as a way to save ourselves from insanity, a last resource, searching for salvation. We reach a point of mild, or violent, burnout and realize we have to STOP in order to keep moving. I was no exception. My brain felt like it was going to explode; I´d lived more in 35 years of existence than most people I know live during their entire lives. I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, in urgent need of respite. My “cup was running over” but not in a good way.

Once I forced myself to sit still and go through my daily meditation, the agitation gave place to peace. I endured the storms, the “what a hell am I doing, or not doing, here?” tantrums, the shenanigans, the bursts of laughter and crying, the almost irresistible temptation to quit. I stayed put, returned day after day to my seated position; eyes closed, mind – slowly – opening. Now, I can honestly say: meditation takes me to my happy place, my internal home, my personal heaven, the one which resides within. It has shown me HOW to breathe and use my breath to shape my reality; how to distinguish my thoughts from WHO I AM, truth from fantasy, fear from courage. It has made me more rooted, aware, calm, trusting, loving, and – tchan, tchan, tchan! – patient.

It has changed the way I dance, live, treat myself and others.

***There are many MEDITATION APPS, some of them FREE, available on the internet. Search for the one you´d like to try and give it a go. Realize it takes time to form a new habit so DO NOT QUIT. If you miss a day, or more, restart. You´re allowed to fall and rise up.

Make meditation a daily practice for at least 60 days in a row, the time it takes, according to research, to install a new habit.


2. Gratitude

The daily practice of GRATITUDE has changed my mindset and, consequently, the way I dance and live.

Complaining, criticizing, pointing fingers is so easy! Plus, we find loads of company for those activities. But, let´s be honest, complaining doesn´t get things done; criticizing may, or not, raise awareness on something which is not right but it doesn´t change it for the better; pointing fingers is disempowering.

Once you become aware of GRATITUDE, how it applies to your existence and how it changes it, you never go back to the CRITICS CLUB. You´ll be too busy saying THANK YOU, LIFE; too busy with your own life, the things and people that matter the most to you.

It´s as simple as this: I have a GRATITUDE APP on my mobile phone. As soon as I wrap my daily meditation, a central part of my Morning Routine, I´ll open the app and write the things I´m most grateful for. They can be “food on the table”, or “this sunny day”, or “my love relationship”, or “the success and the joy in my work”, or “the challenges that are making me grow”, or (fill in the blank).

What a daily GRATITUDE PRACTICE does is tuning YOU with LIFE´s ABUNDANCE, a POSITIVE ENERGY of LOVE, CAN-DO, INSPIRATION, OPENNESS. The more you say THANK YOU, the more you´ll receive.


***Create your own GRATITUDE RITUALS.

You can go for a GRATITUDE JAR where you´ll insert hand-written notes with the things you´re most grateful for at the end of each week; you can download a GRATITUDE APP, as I did, and use it daily; you can have your GRATITUDE JOURNAL where you´ll write before sleeping. Use your imagination.The most important thing is to make it a HABIT, not something you do here and there.

3. Filing my LIFE with Beauty.

My feet standing on my beloved Moroccan rug, one I bought from an old man – kind, funny, wrinkled and beautiful – at the outskirts of the desert.

I know it sounds too easy. Or difficult. You may claim: I don´t have time, money, or energy to focus on Beauty; that´s a luxury for the rich and the lucky. Yes, you may claim it. And I will disagree.

When, after many years of life in Cairo, Egypt, and travels world-wide for work, I decided to move for a while to the deep Portuguese countryside; I found a humble abode hidden between the mountains and the river and I settled in it. I knew I NEEDED to BRING BEAUTY into my life. That, in itself, would do a lot of the cleaning, healing, and rebirthing I so desperately needed.

I didn´t buy new clothes, furniture, or objects for decoration. I went back to the basics: a clean home which I cleansed with daily doses of fresh air, incense, and essential oils; a well tended garden from which I could take flowers to decorate my place (and myself); a silent, peaceful, bulshit-free environment where ONLY LOVE AND BEAUTY could enter. I filtered my thoughts, feelings, interactions with my inner and exterior world; I made sure nothing negative would reign in my space. No, sir, not on my watch.

I´ve moved out, lived in Morocco and Indonesia ever since. I´ve spent time in hotel rooms around the globe. Yet, my CULT OF BEAUTY remains untouched.

Bringing BEAUTY in all its forms into my life has changed the whole game. I no longer participate in negative, trashing, destructive scenarios; I make sure my environments are clean, fresh, beautified with whatever is available. I´ve discovered BEAUTY is healing and realized we eventually become a mirror of the things and people we surround ourselves with. If I catch myself into downwards/destructive mode, I catch myself up and breathe – staring at the trees, the sky, anything beautiful.

Add BEAUTY into your home, work space, internal and external life. Go for simplicity; filter the thoughts, things, and people you wish to bring into your life. DECORATE your LIFE in an uplifting, inspiring, manner. Beauty attracts beauty, the same way joy attracts joy, and gratitude attracts abundance.

YOU are BEAUTIFUL – let your dance, and life, be a reflection of that fact.

Enjoy this bonus video I´ve produced for YOU:

*Share your own LIFE HACKS in the comments to this post – I´d love to hear from you and the things that make your life happier.

***Follow the link to join Joana Saahirah´s World Newsletter to become a part of our Dance Community and receive our EXCLUSIVE News, Inspirations, and Gifts: https://mailchi.mp/d6df2e4ea97e/joinjoanasaahirahworldnewsletter?fbclid=IwAR05cXU3dXFayDmiFOmshNkTJvMDmc8avS7ZEidqaa5gXcOPQjgGlh6666c

The “In Between” space (that annoying mother f#$%r!)

As a teacher, I´ve seen it happening.

As a dancer, a choreographer, an author, and a creator who is constantly pushing boundaries and producing out of the box, I´ve been through it on endless occasions.

As a human being who thrives to continuous growth, I know how it feels.

That – mother f”#$%&r – state of “in between”, when you´re not where you want to be yet but you´re also not where you were; the “no man´s land” where you feel you´re adrift, having started the journey without knowing if you´ll arrive to your destination.

That space between your old self and your new self, your goal and the achievement of your goal, the middle point in your Evolution Journey – grey, moldy, blurred – is annoying. If you´re impatient, like me, the irritation gets exponentially multiplied. You´re working passionately but you don´t see the results. Not yet. You ask when? You keep on working, pushing, focusing. And still no results. Damn it!

You´ll eventually reach a crossroads: you either drive yourself crazy with impatience and tension (“Why, why, why aren´t the results showing?”), you quit (“This isn´t working, I´ll never get where I want to be; why am I doing all this work, anyway?”), or you keep on moving forward while surrendering, trusting life, knowing the fruits of the seeds you´re planting will show in their own natural time.

It can be hard, really hard, but there´s no escape. Like in many other things in life, you´ll have to make a choice: go nuts, quit, or keep going while trusting life and its timing. Although I´ve chosen each of the three options, on different occasions, I now know which is the wisest. And you know IT, too.


Do the work while allowing Life, and Time, to be your Co-Creation partners.
They won´t fail you.

***

Click on the link below to be a part of Joana Saahirah´s World Newsletter:

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Once you join us, you´ll become a member of a positive & empowering dance community; you´ll also receive the EXCLUSIVE content I only share with my INSIDE DANCERS; you´ll be the first one to know about our NEWS, CONTESTS, GIFTS, and INSPIRATIONS.
Yep, we´re totally Unique. And so are YOU. Welcome to the Club!

Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School REBIRTH is coming!

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Happening as we speak

Transformation, as death – a symbol of transformation -, has a terrible reputation. We love safety, comfort, knowing what´s ahead of us, the (false) sense of security that stagnation brings.

And, yet, Life is constantly reminding us there´s nothing more certain than CHANGE; we can escape a lot but change is in our genes, in the air that turns from cold to hot, in the day that follows the night, in satisfaction that switches to hunger, in the movement of the tides, our blood, our skin, our soul.

The platform – Powhow – where Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School has opened its doors will close down by the end of November – many other changes, personal and professional, are coming along for the ride. What many would see as obstacles, I choose to see as OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH. I know we´re not supposed to stay the same, doing the same things in the exact same way we´ve always made them.

A NEW, better, platform for our school will soon be provided; a NEW, better, future is in construction. Step by step, shift by shift, we arrive where we´re supposed to be. If only we see The Flow as our friend; if only we ACT upon our dreams; if only we trust Life enough and open our arms to RECEIVE ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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In a moment like this, when the darkness of Winter is slowly invading & illuminating us, I bow to the blessings of CHANGE. May we act upon it and allow it to bring exactly what it´s meant to fall on our laps.44932137_1871113233010008_3420781523861766144_n

Image via Hayat Hakim

God laughs at our Plans

When I moved to Bali, Indonesia, I thought I’d start a new, local, dance project and settle into the Asian way of living. I also had a personal dream, one I doubted would come true
The thing is I´ve always dreamed my own dream, did my own thing, followed nothing except the guidance of my own soul.
I now look at the last months and realize how little we know and how generous, and sometimes brutal, life can be.
My initial plan went down the drain, giving place to another plan, one I was almost afraid to wish for – finding true love, launching myself into creative adventures that make my adrenaline juices flow, getting into a new phase of my life that pushes me to drop my old, outdated, identity behind.
Like a snake, I shed my old skin. It hurts a little and it’s damned scary but there’s no way back 🌟When Love knocks on your door, you must receive it with open arms. And so I do.
Life can be a b….; it can also be a generous Mother. May we open our hearts and receive its gifts.
Photo: me, bathing in a waterfall in Bali 🌞, captured by the eyes of my beloved man.
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What it means to be FREE (in Egyptian Dance, as in Life)

Creativity & Freedom in Egyptian Dance as in Life Blooming

There´s a brand NEW pioneering Online Course starting, soon, at

Joana Saahirah’s Online Dance School​:
CREATIVITY & FREEDOM IN EGYPTIAN DANCE & IN LIFE.

In this online course, we´ll learn a complete Tabla Solo which will remind you of the true meaning of Creativity & Freedom. In Egyptian Dance, for sure, but, most importantly, in Life.

What does it mean to be a CREATIVE person?
What does it mean to be FREE?
Are we really* the authors of our own identity, dance, and life or are we following the crowds, often ending up frustrated, empty, lost from our own identity, purpose, and soul?

We don´t do shallow stuff at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School. We do authentic dance, art, awakening, love, empowerment towards a truly shining experience – in dance, as in life.

I hope you join us for this A-M-A-Z-I-N-G adventure. There´s a promotional/launching price valid for the next days ONLY. Follow the link for more information and allow yourself to grow, and shine, your own light: https://joanasaahirahworld.com/2018/06/17/creativity-freedom-in-egyptian-dance-in-life-introduction-new-online-course/

In this video: Joana Saahirah (mad) Tabla Solo at Dahab Festival 2017 Festival organized by Tara Tarazade.

The Big Move (Joana Saahirah´s NEW life in Bali, Indonesia)

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In Bali, two years ago, on my way to work in New Zealand

Yet another rEvolution in my life & career – I´m moving to Bali, Indonesia, this June.

I fell in love with Bali two years ago, on my way to work in New Zealand (with the lovely Candice Frankland) and, since then, my mind was set upon it.

Big life changes are often scary. I know the fear because I´ve been through it many times, never allowing it to stop me.

-What´s the big deal? I would…(fill the gap with your dream)…but I…(fill the gap with your excuse).

“I would… if.” – I´d be a millionaire if I earned a buck every time I hear this.

The ones who actually go after their dreams – that may, or not, include moving to a faraway, exotic, country – are fully aware of the gigantic enterprise they have ahead. They´re also aware of the excuses – always easy to find -, the fears, the possibility of failure and, what can be even scarier, the possibility of success.

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In my life, a short but intense existence that already feels like a 200 years old adventure, I´ve done what everybody told me was impossible. First, in Egypt; then, around the world; and then, inside myself. It seems like proving people wrong has been my life mission.

I didn´t grow up in a particularly supportive environment, quite the opposite. I love my parents, and I know they do the best they can, but what they gave me, and my sister, while we were growing up was mostly negative critics, demands, the claim that we didn´t deserve much in life, and we´d never become financially abundant because, and I quote, “only dishonest people make money”; they made a point on making us feel we weren´t special. And we couldn´t dream big.

Whenever we brought A grades home, which was always, my mum would dismiss it as “nothing more than your obligation”.

I don´t remember them patting us on the back, or congratulating us for something we´ve done. Ever. At least not in our presence. Whatever we tried to do, it was never good enough.

They´d been raised in austere, poor, emotionally empty homes and that´s how they´ve raised us. Despite that, I made – keep making –  an effort to give myself what I didn´t receive in my childhood: love, sense of worth, self-confidence, a new set of beliefs about life.

The reason I´m telling you this is to tell YOU, too, independently of your circumstances, CAN grow, reeducate yourself, start LOVING yourself to the point of believing you can materialize any dream you commit to.

Reminder: 7bf53db5fa2aa74fb5bcafaea5a5f0de--dream-quotes-good-quotes.jpg

I´ve ventured into different kinds of wilderness, only to discover most of the danger is within us, & I´ve gone beyond my limits, never setting for mediocrity, comfortable zones, less than what I know deserve. None of this makes me a hero – it just proves every human being has the ability to dream & give their best shot at the materialization of that dream.

For me, failure is not failing to arrive where you wish to go; failure is not even trying, out of arrogance-cowardice-weakness, joining the Haters Crusade as a consequence.

“Do what you preach; let your words reflect who you are.”

If I teach courage, self-confidence, uniqueness, & the strength to DARE GREATLY, I have to set an example. That´s the most important part of being a Teacher.

You have to live what you teach.

Time has arrived to evolve & trust life, some more.

I can do it. YOU can do it.

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Ready to take off, keep growing & sharing the light with the world.

 

Make friends with The Father

10394782_1000936299919139_8857878506426207838_n.jpgInspiration strikes when we least expect it – we just have to pay attention and catch the falling star before it fades away.

Yesterday, Saturn dropped by while I was having coffee with a friend. We didn´t set out to speak about him but he´s not the kind of guy who waits for an invitation – he shows up when he has to. 

412ee3099bec368ddf2d58b3fc601f97--funny-valentine-vintage-valentines.jpgHe´s the policeman, or party pooper, who erupts in the middle of a gathering to warn the light minded folks they must turn the music volume down, stop drinking and go to bed:

-You got work to do tomorrow, you morons!

Party guests look at the floor. The clink of the cups, overflowing with champagne, stops. Someone mumbles “damn” – weak, resigned, with bad breath.

This is how he shows up: unannounced, unwelcome, necessary.

He´s the Father, the Master Teacher, the echo that comes back to haunt us, the invisible boomerang we rarely want to acknowledge. He´s Cronos – the Lord of Time -, Karma, Limits, Responsibility and Wisdom earned from personal experience. The fun stuff.

He´s the voice that warns you against the possibility of failure – he´s also the voice that tells you “if you put your mind to it, and work with all your might, you´ll get there.”

He´s our fears – he´s also the loving parent who doesn´t want his kids to get messed up by falling into life´s crooked corners. 

If you cannot beat them, join themBad losers, like me, choose their opponents wisely. And Saturn is not an opponent I can bring down. So I befriend him:

I listen to his warnings – I consider them and create safety nets that will allow me to succeed, or fall, with damage I can recover from. I act against him, while carrying him on my back; I question him, have intimate chats with him, invoke his help – often disguised as opposition. I allow his ambition to drag me up the mountain.

Muscles don´t get strong without struggle. You gotta push, push, push – childbirth, remember? – and sacrifice for what you want to bring to life.

He knows I´m a hard worker, a warrior, someone who has never had a single penny handed to her. I mean business and he delivers the candy as a reward.

We meet on the ring – he punches me and I punch him harder. It´s a  beautiful thing to watch: a love-hate relationship. We cannot live with each other; we cannot live without each other.

-You cannot do it. – He teases me. – I´ll break your bones.

You, bitch! I can do it. I´ve done it before. 

-Nope. Not this time. You cannot do it, I´m telling ya´.

-You´ll see.

– Get real. Who the fE”R#$%R& do you think you are?

-You´re so common. Drop the clichés, asshole.

As my friend Susana put it, my Saturn is a pissed off, badass, black woman from the Bronx. 

He, or she, is the frenemy – the jerk who pulls your wrong strings so badly – you´re a loser; you´re not talented, good, worthy enough – you have no other choice but to prove him wrong.

When the Perfectionist Whisper  – one of Saturn´s many masks – comes by, I kick it to the curb by doing the opposite he tells me I´m going to do.

Example: I was terrified by the idea of writing a text about Saturn. And here I am, doing it. Perhaps shitty, perhaps not. Who has the authority to tell? 

The fact is I sat down and made it. I´m ahead of everyone who didn´t do it. Critics will criticize – doers will, eventually, write shitty texts. So, what?

I turned an idea into a deed, despite the limits, real or imaginary, that bind me:  self-confidence, time, talent and knowledge. Victory is here, in the done deed, as far as I´m concerned.

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We tend to wait until doubt, and fear, disappear so we can move ahead. What if they never go away? Will you keep waiting?

Joining forces with your doubts and moving forward, with your fear checked in your luggage, is probably a better strategy.

Results are overrated while doing is shamefully underrated. Maybe because it´s not a glamorous thing to watch. And I agree: it´s not.

Who wants to see a dishevelled writer struggling with a phrase – doing, and redoing, it – like a maniac, at 4 o´clock in the morning, in his pajamas?

We want the lotus flower but few of us are willing to dip our hands in the mud.

Hint: no mud, no lotus.

See it as a collaboration with our shadow. 

When I show up, for whatever I set myself to do, and face the storms with arms wide open, perseverance and an almost absurd stubbornness (I ain´t quitting, bitch!), Saturn compensates me.

It all comes down to courage. The courage to be human – less than ideal, way less than “perfect”, whatever perfect means to each one of us. The courage to see how limited, and unlimited, we are as creators. Creators of specific work; creators of our own life.

We´re afraid of facing our limits – we´re even more afraid of facing our unlimited potential. We´re terrified of our own Greatness and the responsibility attached to it.

Here´s something my (less than) friendly meetings with Saturn have taught me: once you accept to face your limits, and work against them, you start to go beyond them. You become a wall breaker. Those broken walls will take you to other walls. From wall to wall- keep breaking them -, the sculptor reveals his Masterpiece.

For the record:

Having great ideas doesn´t make you an artist; thinking about happiness doesn´t make you a happy person; knowledge is not wisdom.

One of the keys to long lasting happiness, or Happiness as a default mode, is the guts to make peace with Saturn, our Great Father, the Asshole who tells you can´t so you can get enraged and prove him wrong.

Face the bull – eye to eye.

Pay the bill.

Take responsibility for your life.

Work with, or against, walls.

Accept time, and the wisdom to work with(in/out) it, as a natural part of life.

Dare to turn dreams into reality, even if reality falls short (it often does) or turns out to be the opposite you imagined.

Learn patience, resilience, persistence, humbleness & unshakeable self-confidence.

Look at what you´ve created and be proud, even if what you created looks deformed, small, beneath the ideal you carried around for so long.

Embrace the hidden part of the iceberg – the work nobody sees but ultimately allows you to shine on the surface.

Accept the difference between the world of IDEAS and MATTER. Ideas are limitless – matter isn´t. Ideas make you feel like Einstein – matter makes you feel human. As I often say: we´re all geniuses in our heads.  It´s the DOING, turning wishes into deeds, that reveal our true potential and build our character. 

Hug the father. There´s Light on the other side of fear.

*

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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 by Theodore Roosevelt

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What makes YOU happy? (I want to hear about it)

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One of my favourite things about the technological world we live in is how CONNECTED we can be with friends, random cool strangers, students and audiences from all over the world.

Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School is a great example of how technology can bring us closer to each other and allow for an easier transmission of knowledge.

And, now, I – the technologically challenged girl who happens to love technology –  am reaching out to YOU to know

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WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?

You can answer, with a text, a photography (high resolution images, please) or both, to my email (dancemagica@gmail.com). I´ll select a few answers to include in the book I´m currently working on: The Happiness Freak, my little book of Happiness.

If you wish to be a part of my research, and book, get your happiness juices flowing and send me your answer ASAP.

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Gratitude Jar (hugging 2017 = opening my arms towards 2018)

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Having a GRATITUDE JAR, an actual jar where I stick handwritten notes on the things I´m grateful for, has changed my life. Little things, such as a jar, can do that.

We´re so obsessed with our problems, the parts of our lives which are not as we envisioned them, we forget to look around and recognize the blessings that surround us. When we shift our focus from lack to ABUNDANCE – what we do have right now -, Magic starts to happen. Insivible as it may be, it´s still Magic. Believe me, it can be a game changer.

Here´s a short list of the things I´m most grateful for in 2017:

  1. My health and the health of my loved ones, as well as the temporary loss of my health, while on tour in USA & Canada!, as a result of not taking time to take care of myself and rest like any normal human being.
  2. Safety; a roof above my head, comfortable clothes to wear, a warm bed to sleep in; organic, abundant, healthy and delicious food on my plate, wherever I am.
  3. Peace of mind.
  4. Silence and Music.
  5. Returning to my Ashtanga Yoga practice.
  6. Meditation – 15 minutes of guided meditation (Giant Mind App – recommended) after my Yoga practice. Another life changer.
  7. My work trips around the world – another year filled with shows, workshops and lectures around the globe.
  8. The creation, and success, of my NEW Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School.
  9. The period when I lived in the midst of Nature – from October 2016 until October 2017 -, in the heart of Portugal, between mountains and river. The perfect spot to recenter, filter and clean the internal house. The perfect spot to die and be born, again.
  10. New inspirations; new books running through my finders directly into the page.
  11. New friends, and enemies, made. I used to believe everybody would love me if I was a good, honest, kind person, but people are more complicated than that. Being the best at your job doesn´t assure you the spotlight; being the best human being you can be doesn´t assure you universal acceptance. And the more you shine, the more you´ll attract envy, competition and other sorts of dark reflections. I´ve learned it the hard way and I´m grateful for it.
  12. The presence of loved ones in my life.
  13. The Passion, the Pleasures, the bubble baths, the movies, the conversations and a wide range of small, almost imperceptible, joys that make life a really wonderful experience.
  14. Last, but not the least, my inoccence (often mistaken by stupidity). I´ve managed to protect it from cynicism, so far, and I hope I´ll keep doing it until I die.

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I suggest you make your own 2017 Gratitude List and please-please-please, get yourself a GRATITUDE JAR for 2018 where you can keep gratitude notes on a weekly, or daily, basis.

Wishing YOU the happiest, most expansive, loving 2018!