All posts by Violeta

Barcelona

So how can you travel without being too much constricted by cash?

1. If someone in a different country invites to you visit them, Go! Three days is the ideal time to explore and sightsee. WizzAir has very cheap flights. They make up for their costs charging you for your luggage. Pack light. You don’t need all the crap you usually take with you.
2. You also don’t need to dine at fancy restaurants to taste the delicious local food. Those touristy white table fancy service restaurants are meant to make you feel rich. I opt for the casual, local experience.
3. Pack comfortable shoes. Travel on foot. You are bound to discover hidden gems of streets, shops and restaurant this way.
4. Buy juices and nectars from neighborhood supermarkets. We were fueled by Granini this trip: vitamins, sugar and hydration.
5. Eat breakfast at home. Buy fresh local baguettes to carry around. Delicious source of carbs to burn walking.
6. Do some research on ways to get from the airport to your destination. Most cities have great affordable public transit.
7. Treat yourself once during a trip. Take pictures to your hearts delight and take breaks.
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April on Mount Tabor

Friends, life has been rich and adventurous lately. This week alone we lived intensely. We drove to Bucuresti to a coffee covers conference and promoted more our Wanderlust Coffee Company. This trip was a success from many points of view. At first, I tended to let Conrad do His thing, be his passionate, knowledgable, coffee geeky self, and I enjoyed doing my own thing. This time I took the plunge and mingled and connected and had fun at the coffee event. We drank a lot of coffee and met a lot of interesting people.

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As soon as we returned we checked in at the Cluj Startups weekend. No expectations, no time to overthink it. We arrived there tired but with an open mind. We smiled, made eye contact, talked freely and shared our passion, ideas and help. Conrad was spectacular with his design work, and multiple teams benefited from his support.

And my team won 3rd place out of 12. Upon my return to Cluj I wanted to continue to pursue developing others and training, and this dream may turn into reality. I’ll get to use specific skills I learned at Apple and develop other trainers as well. Stay tuned for a new Startup in Cluj.

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During the StartUp conference I had a Skype call with the pbcc women, ironing out the last details for the conference in May. Then Sunday we hosted the evening service, with unique messages, a fresh approach, singing, sharing, poems, piano and violin concerto. We had incense and lilac to celebrate “Duminica Mironositelor”. There were tears and there was joy. We lived intensely our sisters’ vulnerability, creativity and wits, and it felt surreal. God is real. God is at work. Regardless if we acknowledge or choose to see it. The joy is to live in the truth, to remain humble and delight in His love.

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I didn’t have time to overthink anything, but I lived it all with presence, and that was a true gift.

Today we are preparing to fly to Barcelona for 3 days. A city-break with our godparents. They have been there the entire month for work, and they invited us to join them. When we moved to Romania we decided to take some time to travel around Europe, and that’s what we’re going to do.

I used to delight in sharing my internal journey in words, but the balance is tipped in the offline life living these days.

We are alive and well, making progress, living simple our big and small dreams, enjoying the small pleasures of life: sweets and coffee, friends, family and singing birds outside our window, warm winds and green grass.

Close to Heaven

I have been saying yes to way more invitations than I normally would. As soon as I get going, I don’t regret it. On the contrary.

But I am haunted by efficiency. No trip to town has just one purpose. No social event is just that.

My parents loved yesterday. So did my friends. And I got my restful moment, on the big plateau, looking up at the fast clouds, on the warm ground, just below the speediest melodious winds.

We see beautiful kind generous people sharing ordinary life.
This is it! Happiness.

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April

We run away from pain and discomfort. It’s a natural tendency of self-preservation. Though it is said that it’s best to let it run its natural course. I do that when I’m sick. No medication. Mainly to be able to listen to what my body is trying to tell me. I am also talking about emotional pain. When we are so focused on silencing it, manage it, run away from it, we spend so much energy and miss out on some great work.

I just had the best day since our move, last Saturday. We mustered up the mental energy to go clean another house as an act of community service. My neighbor and I kept returning to our bottom line: if nobody else shows up, between me an her, we’ll follow through with our plan. It was our Saturday morning after all. A cold snowy April day. 7 of us showed up, with bags under our eyes, shivering. We got to it fast. And we had fun once we started. Dusted, beat-up rugs draped over a steel rod, cleaned the bathroom, moped the floors, fixed some doors etc. Then we decided to take the girls home for an impromptu spa day.

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Conrad made us pretzels and he watched Interstellar with the guys downstairs in our apartments while the girls had the best time ever upstairs. Time stood still. We got pampered, talked, rested and looked out the window in silence. We had the best view. Then we shared another meal with the boys, then went for a walk up the hill. That was glorious as well. Then we visited our neighbors and they shared some more delicious food with us and we talked passionately about church and where we are heading to.

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I have said this before, but the level of joy one feels is often directly proportional with the level of discomfort embraced.

That Saturday was a gift of grace, friendship, nature, laughter and passionate conversations.

Things are moving forward. We witness change and we remain humble to the transformations. It is freeing.

(If you are wondering what’s with the featured beer shot, last week we also went rock-climbing behind the Ursus beer factory. At the end I felt like having a beer, and while the girls had juice, I reminisced about time with family in California, where I started to like the taste of beer. Mom and dad, we’ll take you there in May!)

Another full week

Monday we had a wonderful time with the young women, a reevaluation and a touch base, hearing feedback from each of them on the idea and need of vulnerability or transparency in the group. It was refreshing.

Tuesday we gathered to study together and discuss fervently. We definitely need a purpose and structure reevaluation here. But it was thought and emotions provoking.

Wednesday I co-facilitated a Creativity workshop – we painted squares together and enjoyed the experience. It was an experience for me to facilitate outside of the tech or church context. Conrad usually attends this event but Wednesday he was invited to a type design event. He loves meeting new people, creative and similarly passionate.

Thursday we got together with the old group of girlfriends. We built walls over time. I realize how much their companionship has shaped my sense of belonging and of friendship, of listening and having a voice. I wrote a poem at the end of the day…

Friday we went to the Cluj Startup social evening. That was unexpected. A year and a half ago this group was formed, young driven creative nerds sharing ideas, pitching ideas, starting new projects and businesses. Surprisingly refreshing. We arrived and I felt like home at this bar/cafe. We spoke english most of the night and most of the night I was the only girl. Conrad from across the table made a joke/observation about me talking about who-knows-what tech related and all the guys listening enthralled. A spark in the eyes, a sustained intelligent conversation, a sense of fascination, interesting topics… It was so good. MORE +

A conversation worth having

I worried that I will forget myself, that everything I learned and felt differently, if I don’t get it out as fast as I could, it would get buried. But I had to also trust my instinct. It didn’t feel right to talk over others, to impose my view, to ever start my conversations “in america we did” even though I had been tempted so many times to do so.

Have you ever had a tough conversations where you wish you had the first word, to just get it out, to not let others’ opinions influence yours? This is basically the same thing at a life scale. I was worried that I would lose myself in the desperate need for ease, comfort and acceptance. Being different is not as glamorous as it is in California, San Francisco area. I have struggled with depression these past three months. I value strength so much, that saying this right now is not easy. But it was real and I’m glad to free myself by letting it go and giving it a name.

I actively waited. I said yes to more things than I should have. I stretched my social skills beyond what I exclusively needed. I had to try lots of circles, and be uncomfortable, take a full gulp of the unfamiliar.

There are thins that I wasn’t ready to admit or to tackle… family disfunction and people telling me what and how I should do it, a nagging judgment of most of my choices, church disfunction and a perpetuating self-absorption that stiffens true growth, selflessness and awareness of the big different world beyond our small world. And a big one that we seem to be all blind to it: the “I know a guy” syndrome. And how every single Romanian that hasn’t traveled or lived outside, strongly believes that this is how things are done, and you are stupid, literally, if you know a shortcut, a backdoor, a connection, and you don’t use it. The system is sick, and maybe people don’t work efficiently, but how do you hope to ever influence change if you are faced with a path of resistance and without a second thought of trying to push ahead, you go around. We are not a brainless river… and even the river can reshape it’s riverbed with force, determination and a little help. We ought to first recognize the issue, speak up, make a plan and take action. I started giving constructive feedback left and right. Businesses, government, state employees. The funny part is that the path of feedback is so empty, I lookup a phone number, I call and they answer. I speak calmly but directly and then they follow up with me. And some things get solved faster than they did in the states.

So I stopped and listened. And I realize that instead of loosing my voice or myself, I still believe! And it is very possible that my two cents are even more relevant now than they would have been if I had thrown them at any give issue before consideration, just as we arrived.

Meeting #2

Remember that speed-talk meeting we had with two ladies at the Child Protection office in Cluj exactly a year ago? Today I mustered up the courage and energy to go straight back to the same tall door and knock confidently. We knew more this time. It’s crazy how small and powerless that visit made me feel last time. Today was completely different. I decided to be brave.

There are 8 steps, and today we completed step 1. We were walked through each step, informed regarding the necessary documentation and the duration of the adoption procedures. We signed the first paper.

Step 2 can be completed in five months. We will have had to live on Romanian territory for 9 months when we submit our papers. The said papers include: judiciary records, 3 notarized declarations, notarized copies of birth and marriage certificates, notarized copy of apartment ownership document, medical certificates, labs and psychiatric evaluation, proof of financial stability/income, minimum 2 character endorsements from our last jobs and a few others from friends and family, and a picture of us.

Step 3 will last 120 days maximum and it encompasses our evaluation and preparation for becoming able to adopt. It includes 6 visits at home from the social worker assigned to our case, 4 meetings with the psychiatrist, and a parenting course completed in a week, 3 meetings, 6 hours each day.

Step 4 we obtain the adoptive parents certificate attesting that we are able to adopt. This includes a comprehensive report of the last 120 days. We have a 5 day window to challenge this report if we feel it’s necessary.

Step 5 We are matched with a child. Depending on how picky we are, this step can take a few days or a few years. Needless to say, we have an advantage. 80% of the adoptable children of gypsy ethnicity, and sadly in Romania racism is still very much a reality.

Step 6 We are entrusted with a child in view to adoption.

Step 7 A judge signs on the adoption papers and the child is issued a new birth certificate with our names as parents.

Step 8 Monitoring the adoption for two years after we adopt. Every 3 months someone stops by to see that we are still doing ok. This can be monitored even if we move out of the country. We are bound to let them know if we move.

We now have a phone number and an official person’s name here in Cluj. This feels good. The roadmap is clear.

Long waited visit

Quote of the day:
“We abandon the most important journey of our lives when we abandon desire. We leave our hearts by the side of the road and head off in the direction of fitting in, getting by, being productive, what have you. Whatever we might gain–money, position, the approval of others, or just absence of the discontent itself–it’s not worth it.” John Eldredge

Yesterday we visited Casa Kiwi http://kiwicasabucuriei.ro to meet with friends who mediate in adoption processes and more. We had a very encouraging meeting, with good advice and guidance. We need to start the preparation process here in Cluj. Though we wish we could do it through Casa Kiwi, it is in a different county and thus different jurisdiction. After we get our papers in a folder and submitted, the maximum time to get certified as adopting parents is 4 months. After that we can be matched with a child or siblings, according to our submitted application. 

The Cluj county doesn’t have a mediating organization like that, to be our advocates with the system. We pray that God will lead the way. The road ahead seems tedious and long, but we’ll take one step at a time. Ask a lot of question and don’t rush or get frustrated. It’s the best we can do.

I finally feel like writing in Romanian, but that makes it harder to blog. Lately I had a hard time writing to the unknown mass of readers, if any out there. Switching back and forth between languages forces me to focus on keeping the languages straight and drains the creativity out of my words.

Also, these past three months have been out of this world, like I was traveling through an eerie forest, with milky fog, naked tall trees, chilling silence and wet cold. I put one foot ahead of another, with my eyes closed at times. It felt like time stood still in the wrong turn of the clock. I know that the ash like nature, the short cold days and the missing sun, after 7 years of California weather, this winter took its toll, but slow and steady I feel more in touch with myself, more alive and focused.

On our 2 hour drive yesterday a family of deer decided to cross the road right in front of us. We had to stop.

Creativity

There is one major upside to living in Cluj. The creative society is thriving, and we don’t have enough time to be part of everything, though time seems to be the one abundant commodity. People with passion, ideas, connections, resources, places and wonderful stories are connected like the nervous system. This week alone we met a wonderfully inspiring artist Criss Barsony, and that same evening we went to a creativity workshop hosted by Ruthie.

This week I tried to free my mind to embrace my creative side. I realize now that this is a key ingredient. Admittedly we seem motivated to create practical things, and I needed a little convincing or rubbing off to get to where I am today. I started painting in water color, we created our own closet handles (which otherwise would have costed about $200), little wooden buttons, a green clutch, lamp shade… A few weeks ago we made my guitar hanger, coat and hat hanger, toilet paper roller.
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What’s the point of learning the hard way

…things that you won’t have to do again anytime soon.

I ask questions, but not nearly enough. People still assume I know how to navigate the system, being a Romanian and all, but in certain areas I simply don’t know what I don’t know. Anticipating the next steps for the poor citizen in line is a novelty here. How do you like to wait in the same line twice?

Well, if you ever buy a car, go to RAR first with all your documents. And if you make an appointment online, make sure you are committed to it because you can’t cancel it. No way. You have to petition it to the director and it takes days to approve it, and in the last one year, only one appointment has been approved for cancellation.

I had gone to three institutions to pay for fees and declare the car etc, but the one that takes the longest and it’s most complicated to process …we delayed. When I said I have never done this, so I don’t know, I need guidance; on the other hand I really really hate the patronizing questions in the aftermath.

Car insurances are hellishly expensive. Apparently I am a young woman driver! I have been driving for 13 years but I get the insurance rate of a 16 year old boy in US.

As of tomorrow we can’t drive the car for a bit. We are applying for red intermediary license plates which cost extra, until we get our real numbers.

On a chipper note, we have closets and they are beautiful!