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To bring down walls of prejudice and to be a source of hope.
I am a nature-freak and conservationist. I have a very inquisitive nature: I like natural things that leave a lasting impression on all my senses: the smell of rain, wood, coffee, winter, watermelon, the texture and color of sand, a baby's hair; a sunny day in the heart of mountains with someone serene and curious; kids whispering in the library; Hazelnut ice-cream, eel, Chicken Byriani (great Indian dish), sushi; the most beautiful car for me is a car with someone I love in it; My favorite flowers are the ones that are not yet cut, and more then anything, I am intrigued by loyalty, flexibility, integrity, creativity, gentleness, compassion and culture. The first thing I notice about a person is his/her demeanor and then the rest. I think of every new person i meet as a trip to a foreign country, and I think it would be better to start a relationship on the premise that we are all imperfect and try to make friends.
I love libraries and churches, and by churches, I mean the group of people who will get out of their comfort zone to help others. I am environmentally conscious, but I'm not judgmental, and respect everybody's choices, understanding that there are reasons for those choices that not might be obvious to me. So, I try to be supportive to all the things that people that cross my path choose to do, as long as they don't hurt others. I am after all a counselor at heart, and fully committed to respecting people's choices. Furthermore, I am "a work in progress" myself, and I have not arrived to the final destination on all issues. So, I try to leave room to improvement, lessons, and change as long they are delivered respectfully to me.
I am a Romanian-American, but I don't represent neither Romania, nor America. So don't blame me for things that happened in the past, or even in the present. Define me based on who I am, or better yet, courteously allow me to define myself.
For most of my life I saw meaning in helping others, and my profession as a family counselor until recently, was a purpose that took over my life. Helping others was deeply moving and satisfying, but I want to rediscover all that I can be and God's plan for me, as I know that each day is a gift. They say that an unexamined life, is not worth living. May I meet you, and may we give each other the boldness to be all that we were meant to be.
"I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure" ...
I believe that our ego is a monster that can never be satisfied.
Have good boundaries, but also be kinder than necessary because everybody is fighting a great battle!
I have to admit that I feel all kinds of fear, but I refuse to let myself be paralyzed by them. When I look back at my life, it is in periods of great distress when courage ultimately led to qualitative changes. A young and wise CS friend said to me recently: "Mistakes ... they are my friends. Failures ... my friends. Heartbreak too, is my friend. They are important to a full life. So it is important to take risks and try, instead of living in the fear of losing." I like that a lot.
I also believe that a country is not equal to its infrastructure, and I look at each country's infrastructure as a way of understanding its philosophy, history and the way "it" treats its minorities. I actually have quite a bit of aversion to impressive infrastructures as besides marvels of architecture and engineering they also represent disregard for nature and indigenous people, or the colonies they once occupied. More often than not, countries considered poor, lack in infrastructure but impress in culture, warmth, character. Comfort or color?
The perfect traveler doesn't know his destination (Lie Tzeu)
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. (Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad)
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving. A good artist lets his intuition lead him where it wants. (Lao-Tzu)
"Spare me the political events and power strugges, as the whole earth is my homeland and all men are my fellow countrymen."Kahlil Gibran
The physical aspect of travel is for me, the least interesting what really draws me is the prospect of stepping out of the daylight of everything I know, into the shadows of what I don't know and may never will. We travel, some of us, to slip through the curtain of the ordinary, and into the presence of whatever lies just outside our apprehension I fall through the gratings of the conscious mind and into a place that observes a different kind of logic. (Pico Iyer, The Global Soul)
Traveling companions can keep us tethered to our predefined idea of ourselves. They may expect certain reactions from us that obligates us underneath our awareness forces us to accommodate in a way that feels unnatural. Or in our companions desire to have their own experiences, they may not have the patience to reciprocate and share. In traveling alone we are free to connect with what and whom comes our way...
The silence of being alone without the ease of familiarity allows one to stand outside oneself large sublime views and new smells revealing new thoughts and emotions thrilling or disappointing aspects of oneself heretofor hidden from one awareness.
If we find poetry in tattered old men weaving home on bicycles, a grateful charm in smiling young country girls and a shared intimacy in the look of recognition in the eyes of kindred travelers we have found an alternative to the ease, habits and confinement of the ordinary rooted world. (Alain de Botton, in The Art of Travel)
We need to travel. If we don't offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don't lift to the horizon; our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days. Don't let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take. But if you take them, you will never regret your choice. To be sure, there will be moments of doubt when you stand alone on an empty road in an icy rain, or when you are ill with fever in a rented bed. But as the pains of the moment will come, so too will they fall away. In the end, you will be so much richer, so much stronger, so much clearer, so much happier, and so much better a person that all the risk and hardship will seem like nothing compared to the knowledge you have gained. (Letters to My Son: A Father's Wisdom on Manhood, Women, Life and Love)
Never lose a holy curiosity. (Albert Einstein)
One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. (A. Gide)
Our doubts are traitors that make us lose the good we might win, by fearing to attempt. (Shakespeare)
"To live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion." (Henry David Thoreau)
Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. Do not complainÃÂ¢Ãâ¬ÃÂ¦ Never whineÃÂ¢Ãâ¬ÃÂ¦ Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity. (Maya Angelou)
Come to the edge.
We can't, we're afraid.
Come to the edge.
We can't. We'll fall!
Come to the edge.
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.
Do not travel far and futilely to dusty lands, forsaking your own sitting place. If you cannot find the truth where you are now, you will never find it. (Eihei Dogen)
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. (Einstein)
Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and restitution. (Kahil Gibran)
Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. (author unknown)
I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. (Michael Jordan)
Life is not always elsewhere. (a CSer in the thread "quit your job and travel")
True life starts at the end of your comfort zone. (author unknown)
If you're brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you. (Elizabeth Gilbert)
Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
(Our greatest fear, by Marianne Williamson, and erroneusly attributed to Nelson Mandela)
Why I’m on Couchsurfing
HOW I PARTICIPATE IN COUCHSURFING
Hosting people is a rare pleasure! Interestingly, in Judaism, Christianity and in the Muslim worlds, hosting is considered an honor, and a moral obligation; According to the Koran if your enemy shows up at your door, you owe it to him to treat him with utmost respect and hospitality... in Iran, for example, even if the hosts are very poor, they will borrow money to present their guests with great food and a good stay. In the Bible there is a verse that states "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13-2). Paul writes, 'Practise hospitality' (Romans 12:13 NIV). Peter says, 'Be hospitable...with brotherly affection for...unknown guests...foreigners, the poor, and all others' (1 Peter 4:9 AMP).
I offer a couch in a small apartment in Lakewood, CO, close to a great hiking area called "Green Mountain". I don't smoke, drink or do drugs, and I will show you around if my schedule permits it.
I'm interested in being meeting people with who I can have a lasting, respectful and supportive relationship afterwards. I still exchange Christmas gifts with my first host every year, and keep in touch quite often with some of others who hosted me. Some have affected my choices in life profoundly, and I'm a different person because I met them. I choose my hosts and guests carefully, and I consider CSing a way of enlarging my group of friends, not just a place to crash when overseas. When I'm hosted, I want to work to earn my stay, I tend to use as little water and electrical energy as possible (I don't leave the lights on, I take one quick shower/day of 2-3 minutes), and if possible, I generally try to leave everything better than I found it. I also like to cook for my hosts, because I consider that eating at home is a much more personal experience than the hurried and often interrupted experience in a restaurant.
When I host I prefer some thoughtfulness also. Since I live in a small university town, I used to restrict my CS hosting to people aged over 35 because I didn't want to be treated as a free hotel by younger people. However, I am opening my doors to any age group, because I want to return the generosity I received from others, and it's a way of having the world come to me when I can't travel. This is important to me, because through CSing I met incredible people that gave me courage to be more of who I am.
I love mountains and outdoor sports. I used to do technical mountain climbing/alpinism (both summer and winter), and now I hike with vengeance... I would say that I am in excellent physical shape and I would like to continue to improve it. I would like to travel to anywhere as long as i can do it with someone sincerely open-minded, respectful and gentle towards other cultures.
I volunteered to improve the quality of housing in an underprivileged neighborhood in St. Louis, MO, for Habitat for Humanity in Roxana, IL, for the Scholarshop, a not-for-profit organization offering scholarships to deserving students in need, and for the Lakewood Cultural Center in CO.
During the Romanian Revolution of 1989, I participated by organizing a nursing unit at the factory where I worked, prepared for casualties around the clock for three days. Though many died fighting the Communists in other areas, fortunately we did not have local victims to treat. I also actively supported Iranians struggling against tyranny in the Green Movement, and wrote countless letters for the release of political detainees around the world, such as Aung San Suu Kyi, the human rights and pro-democracy leader in Myanmar.
Music, Movies, and Books
Movies: Blue, The King of Hearts, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Run, Lola, Run, My Cousin Vinny, Groundhog Day, Shawshank Redemption, The Hunger (with Susan Sarandon and David Bowie), Forest Gump. Music: Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, U2, The Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, Carmina Burana, and I also love lots of silence! Books: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (better than the movie); Eat. Pray. Love. The wind in the Willows. Song of Myself.
One Amazing Thing I’ve Done
I've seen so many incredible things, it's hard to limit myself to one. To mention a few, I was involved in the Romanian revolution, and wrote countless letters for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, a human rights and pro-democracy leader who has been held in detention or house arrest in Myanmar. (Unfortunately, I was hours away from the oportunity to see her in Bergen, Norway in June 2012, but I missed it :(
I used to make a living by interviewing and making documentaries about ordinary people and their legacies. Currently I work as a family counselor, and often I am able to witness and help others do great things.
Other amazing things I've seen: Grindelwald; Hitchhiking in New Zealand for 3 months in 2011, and in Switzerland and Norway in 2012. The July light in Lofoten, Norway. Tenderness between species; My reflection in someone I love; My exhausted cat humbly licking my hand, after I petted her one-hour old born kittens. Years later, the first born kitten, an adult cat then, sat on my shoulder and watched over me while I was being grieved to death, and isolated from the world for weeks. The memory of my mother's smile. The memory of the two of us looking at autumn golden leaves blown by the wind on a sunny afternoon. Generosity toward strangers. Dignity and courage in front of death. Her last embrace before dying after not being able to speak for 6 weeks.
Teach, Learn, Share
A great travel sites:
Here is some great advice to fight jet-leg:
And, along with it, whether you are a woman traveling solo or not, some good advice:
Countries I’ve Visited
Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Vatican City State
Countries I’ve Lived In
Germany, Romania, United States