Lessons of unconditional love

On my birthday, I was approached by a guy who walked up to me and asked “Is your husband African?”. “My future husband, maybe”, I replied mischievously. “Then it’s going to be me”, he said. And I kept thinking that, if we were to end up together, that would be the absolute best “How I met your mother” story to tell our children.
But there’s a far better love story I want to tell my children about, and it started on Friday, March 24th 2017, at around 2 P.M. It is the story of how I learned to love unconditionally, and have never stopped since. His middle name translated as “Perfect”, and that is what I always considered him to be, flaws and all.
What makes this story so great? The fact that it’s real. Raw, authentic, inspiring, life-giving, disturbing, uncomfortable, mind-blowing, heart-breaking. It is the sharing that happened, between two souls that were suddenly thrown together, in a dance of mutual exploration, questioning, understanding, teaching, completing, supporting, enrichment.
In my humble opinion, one of the greatest challenges a woman must face when interacting with a man, is that of feeling comfortable around him, whether in being a supportive friend in time of need, in having endless conversations about mutual interests; in being unapologetically honest and blunt about her personal truths; in admitting her mistakes and apologising; in clearly and accurately assessing her worth; in not feeling the need to fill the silence with words; in peacefully drifting asleep, feeling safe in his arms; in not religiously shaving her legs before meeting him; in cooking a lovely dinner together; in going on trips and adventures, a photo camera in the hand; in attending concerts, horse races, football matches, wine tastings together; in crying of frustration and helplessness in each other’s arms; in having her heart stolen by his every smile; in surrendering her body, her heart, her very soul during lovemaking, in an act of complete trust and love; in allowing him to feast his senses on her pleasure and extasy.


Nevertheless, any good love story comes to a bittersweet end. The story ends where fear begins. The story ends where hesitation begins. The story ends where distance begins. The story ends where denial begins. The story ends where rejection begins. The story ends where struggle begins. The story ends where hopelessness begins.
But love doesn’t end. It continues to grow, continues to challenge, continues to teach, continues to carve its way through obstacles, like spring water, never stopping, never doubting, never questioning, never abandoning, never quitting, never failing, never hurting. And I am forever grateful to this beautiful man, for having transformed my heart into spring of love.
Love doesn’t happen in a specific place, at a specific time. It happens on every second, of every hour, of every day, for a year, or 50, or a lifetime, or an eternity. It happens in every thought, in every breath, in every heartbeat, in every conscious or unconscious gesture, in every memory, in every glimpse of hope, in every goal. Thus, life itself becomes a permanent act of worship of Love, an oath by which one soul deliberately decides to keep Love alive, to not shy away, to not fear, to not shut itself from the ever-flowing power and blessing of Love.
And now, I wish you all to experience love as ground-breaking, soul-awakening, heart-opening, up-lifting, life-changing as that which I have experienced, because having the wisdom, the courage, the madness to love someone so deeply turns life into a wonderful journey.

Love,
Vladiana

Befriending the Devil

Last night I dreamt that I was wrestling with the Devil. He had taken human shape, and tried luring me into a corner, but I knew something was shady, so as soon as he showed his true face, I applied the principle that the best defence is a good offence, and I attacked him, telling him to his face “I hate you, because I love Love”.
Nevertheless, this is not the first time the Devil visits my dreams. It happened in my childhood, and it happened a few years back, during my studies in Leuven, when I discovered that prayer was my most trustworthy weapon and I learned the power of the ista’adha (Muslims start praying by seeking refuge to God, from Satan, the accursed).
During the past few months, Satan, and most precisely, his Fall from Heaven has been my favourite topic of reflection, dwelling into the range of emotions experienced by Lucifer in that instance (fear, guilt, as well as some of the Seven Deadly Sins – wrath, envy, pride). I also had the epiphany that the root-cause of his downfall was actually not erring, but rather disbelieving God’s infinite love and forgiveness.


Every once in a while, parents need to discipline their children, to teach them proper behaviour, and what the child perceives as punishment, does (or should) indeed come from a place of love, from a place of higher understanding, from a place of prevention of greater pain in the future. Yet children feel wronged – victims of injustice, they doubt their parents’ reason and judgement, and oftentimes their love.
The same happens when people refuse to accept the love given to them, or the love they feel. Denying the free flow of emotions, repressing what we feel, especially when we feel the uncomfortable things that make us grow, trying to sweep our soul-searching under the rug feels like trying to prevent water from boiling. You place a lid on top of the pot, but the water has immense strength. It starts seething, bubbling, steaming, sizzling, sputtering, trying to escape, trying to display its majesty. And what then? You turn off the heat. Take the pot off the stove. Put it far away, where it cannot boil, where it cannot make noise, where it cannot be inconvenient.
And you push away the “mirrors”. The people who, with a word, with a glimpse, see right through you, and make you confront your flaws, your imperfections, your errors. The people who make you grow. And you decide to remain the child who’s been grounded and feels misunderstood. Failing to realise that you ostracise yourself, that you bring upon a Hell of your own making, falling from Heaven over and over again, by failing to see love for what it truly is, by refusing to grab onto the arm stretched out to reach you, to catch you, to pull you back up, to pull you into a hug, to reassure you and to wave the flag of reconciliation. I have been that child, and I have been the mirror. It hurts, and it’s a struggle to be on either side.
Last time I solved the issue of the Devil visiting my dreams by understanding and coming to terms with whom I believed God was, so it’s only normal that I solve the same issue now by understanding and coming to terms with whom I believe Satan is. Turns out, Satan is the Child who fears growing, because he sees that as the equivalent of being outcast from Love. God is infinite love, and love is infinitely patient and forgiving. And if I’ve learned anything from the past few months spent at home with my family, the moment after you confront your fear of rejection and abandonment, the moment you recognise who the unnamed, unidentified enemy living within you is, you become invincible, and you discover that you feel stronger, safer and more loved than ever.
So, if Satan is there to hear me, I hope he knows that I forgive him, that I don’t hate him, because he can no longer make me doubt Love. I hope he finds peace, I hope he stops fueling his rage and resentment towards Love, I hope he stops fearing the great love he could receive, if only he reached out and deemed himself worthy of it.
And to you, fellow friend, struggling with inner demons, please know that there’s hope and light and Love on the other side, and it’s only a stretch of an arm away.

Love,
Vladiana

The art of solitude

One of the most underrated pleasures of life is that of doing things alone. Until a few weeks ago, I never truly realised how empowering and dignifying it is to know and respect your limits, and to have such solid standards into place, that you deem it simply unacceptable to compromise your desires and personal comfort for the sake of accommodating social interactions, relationships or activities which don’t bring you joy.
For as long as I can remember, I have considered it my duty to be a people pleaser. I have always been considerate of people’s sensibilities, I have constantly said “yes” to situations which I felt uneasy about, I have often, despite my best interest, engaged with people who didn’t show any gratitude for or understanding of my efforts, my bending over backwards to ensure their safety and well-being.
I strongly believe that “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”, in that I am responsible for filling in the structure of my existence and education with personal input, with an active contribution to my own creation as a human being and as an individual. Therefore, being a self-made (wo)man shouldn’t be evaluated by the amount of wealth and knowledge, but rather by the amount of wisdom and emotional independence one has acquired throughout their life.
I recently had to learn the lesson of being comfortably and happily alone, by simply being thrown into the situation of having to decide whether not having a companion is reason enough to deprive myself of some experiences which I knew would fill my heart with great joy, namely, attending some movie screenings, which is a pretty lonesome activity anyways.
And I decided that I am enough. I am more than sufficient to my own existence, I am more than capable to look for myself, entertain myself, spend time with myself, comfort myself, amuse myself, manage myself, conduct myself, to be able to do things without company or supervision.


So I went for the first movie screening. And then the second one. At first I was hesitant, I was nervous, I was almost anxious about having to go somewhere on my own. And then I decided to have lunch alone, among the dozens of people getting together in the canteen, at noon, on a workday. And then a second lunch. And a third.
It was finally time to step even further out of my comfort zone, and that is when I decided to attend an event destined to the celebration and promotion of the African culture. And so I went, alone, to a social gathering of people whom I have never met before. The adrenaline rush was an indicator not of how far I had come, but rather, of how much anxiety I always linked to the idea of feeling exposed. Particularly for a single woman approaching her 30s, who shows no perspective of getting married or having children, being alone in a public space has always felt like the surest way to attract pitying stares and pointed fingers.
And then, a miracle happened. I opened up to the possibility of meeting people, of letting them see the raw, vulnerable, exposed woman, who simply wants to have a good time, to enjoy herself, to learn new things, to have new experiences, to live life at the fullest. And I was welcomed with open arms. I made pottery, I played games, I laughed, I ate, I drank, I danced and I felt truly happy. And I learned that it truly takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes the child may in fact be all grown, but fearful, or shy, or overwhelmed by the pressure of having to stand up for himself.
And it takes people of great kindness, great wisdom, great love of humanity, great understanding of life, to help each-other learn that being alone holds within a power that very few can handle. And it takes people of great empathy, great compassion, great courage to selflessly be there to support us, when we hesitate to truly take life into our own hands, and embrace all that the Universe is bringing our way.
I am grateful to have learned that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely, or vulnerable, or unworthy, and I look forward to further extending the realm of my experiences, to further exploring the beauty and strength of womanhood and individuality, to further meeting other souls, so that we may be there for each-other, silently, as each of us walks their own journey, all alone. And I wish you all to experience the liberating experience of being comfortably and happily alone.

Love,
Vladiana

Sacred Water

Last summer I attended an Afro-Contemporary dance workshop. It all started quite innocently, with some basic arms and hips motions, and gradually became raw, pure, life-giving energy, one of the dance movements being a metaphor of rocking a child in one’s arms. At which point I couldn’t follow through with the dance routine, because I felt naked, exposed, I felt that I would be displaying my sexuality and my femininity too freely.
Around the same time, I attended the screening of “Sacred Water”. The title of a fantastic documentary about female ejaculation and sexual pleasure in Rwanda, and the source of lots of contemplation on the topic of female energy, sexuality and creation.
Why was I inhibiting my very nature? Why was I trying to censor the natural flow of energy in my body? Why was I denying my womanhood, sweeping it under the rug, minimising it and disregarding its powerful call? Could be education? Could be societal constraints? Could be years and years of feeling that my curvy body doesn’t conform to norms of beauty? Could be self-doubt and deprecation? Could be shame?
Maybe a bit of all, but mostly, the fear of having to face something so powerful, so overwhelming, so life-changing as the experience of fully embracing one’s true nature, in a guilt-free manner, being unapologetically and uncompromisingly woman, on a deeply spiritual level. And by understanding and accepting my female sexuality, it suddenly dawned on me that something so valuable, something that holds within the key of creation should be manifested under circumstances of the highest safety and sacredness.


I was probably going to shy away from reflecting upon the sacred water, in all of its forms of existence, had it not been for a film I watched tonight, “Black Mother”, whose brilliant director, Khalik Allah, inspired me to go the extra mile, to actually discuss femininity, a topic that has been profaned by taboo, only to be trivialised into pornography.
The Universe, in its generosity, always brings the answers to our questions right onto our very path. Unsurprisingly, I discovered songs and movies that associate womanhood with water, I had endless transcendental discussions with the beautiful people in my life, who had opinions to share on the matter, I opened myself to experiences, and I allowed my mind to wander.
I started carefully observing the nourishing effects that water has on my body when I drink it, the cleansing effects that water has on my body when I bathe, as if performing a perpetual baptism. I started cherishing the rain, its sound, its strength, its softness, its purpose, its life-changing effect on Mother Nature and on life itself.
I visited a lake, whom I bothered by tossing a pebble in its waters, and who answered by creating revolted, determined ripples in response to my aggression. Yet it also taught me that Water, just like Love, is forgiving and resilient, in its infinite strength and infinite patience. And so is the female energy that I have been repressing for the longest part of my adult life. Water is the guardian of emotions, it is brave, it adapts to any situation, defeats any challenge and continues its existence untroubled, unscarred.
These being said, I am happy to report that recently, I practiced the Afro dance routine in a safe and private environment, allowing my body to manifest itself through motion, to embrace its natural and spiritual potential, its infinite capacity of pleasure and creation.
And with this article, I encourage you, my beautiful ladies, to let go of stereotypes, of shame and ideas of what femininity is, and tune in to the sound of your inner sacred water, and you, my darling men, to cherish, respect and be grateful for the women in your life, and support them in being true to themselves, soft and strong divine, female energy.

Love,
Vladiana

Investing in love

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I’ve always considered myself to be a die-hard optimist, and having gone through a rougher patch proved just how true that is. Between the months of August and December, I found myself back home, with my family, heartbroken, unemployed, waiting for some kind of opportunity to materialise.
Furthermore, my baby sister, a beautiful, talented dancer, underwent severe ankle surgery and a lengthy recovery, peppered with doubt, fear, hesitation and above all, hope.
And while all that was rather stressful, throwing me over the edge of extreme emotions, I discovered the true meaning of “home”, by taking this time to connect with my family on a deeply personal, emotional and spiritual level, by sharing new experiences, by sharing memories, getting to know each-other better, arguing and coming to peace with each-other, getting to understand each-other’s motives and feelings, comforting each-other, advising and guiding each-other, being there, being present, being grateful for the growing bond.
Rediscovering this fresh sense of purpose, this new meaning of what family is to us, has been extremely reassuring, as each of us are, individually, taking on new adventures, new roles, new paths, for which having a clear idea of the concept of “home” is essential, in that we always know where the source is, where we can confidently return to, to replenish our batteries, without having to face shame, self-doubt or judgement.
I couldn’t help but wonder what the recipe for success was, in order to be able to replicate it, in other interactions with the people around me. According to the concept of the “5 languages of love”, we all have different ways of perceiving and understanding the love which is given to us, whether it may come from words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time or physical touch. My personal love barometer is undoubtedly measuring the investment of time, the active effort of being there for another human being, being consistently and whole-heartedly involved in offering to another person that which they may need.


Yet the one thing that all of these languages of love have in common is, in fact, time. Time spent to be of service, time spent choosing the right gift, time spent cuddling, time spent finding the right words to say, time spent together. And this has become apparent in the way me and my family interacted over the past few months. We made the extra effort to listen more carefully, to actually go to another room so that we may see each other’s face, to give a helping hand when necessary, to comfort when things were difficult, to laugh, eat, dance and share joy together.
A beautiful man once taught me a song titled “God’s second name is Time”. And since His first name is Love, it only makes sense that these two dimensions should flow together, hand in hand, in order to manifest themselves in full potential. Unconditional love is about offering to another person the only non-renewable resource we dispose of, which is our time. Unconditional love is about deciding to grow alongside another human being, independently, yet connectedly. Unconditional love is about allowing the other person enough time to grow on their own, to go through their own lessons and struggles, without pushing or pulling, without expectations.
Therefore, I ask you all to take a moment and realise who are the people in your life you want to invest in, what are the relationships that make you feel safe, loved, wanted, proud to grow and evolve, what are the relationships that challenge you to move ahead on your path of self-fulfilment, and start investing in them. Invest your time, invest your love, invest your trust, invest your energy. Because the more you give to these relationships, the more you will get, the better the return on investment will be.
Find the people who make your soul feel at ease, find the people who make your heart sing, find the people who make your mind burn with new ideas, and give yourself to them, for they will give themselves to you, so that you may become a better version of yourself.
This being said, my fellow friend, make sure to invest time in yourself. Watch a movie, drink a cup of tea, pamper yourself, listen to a nice song, read a good book, allow yourself to exist in a state of “hygge”, because the best way to learn about something is to experience it first-hand. Practice self-love, invest time in your well-being, allow yourself the privilege of saying “no” to situations which trap you and exhaust you, and of saying “yes” to time alone, to healing and to self-discovery.
Make the best of this time of the week, make the best of yourself and make the best of the people around you.

Love,
Vladiana

The day I learned about love

I learned what pure unconditional love is, one day of December, the year 2009, and this little lesson continues to grow in significance, every single day, every single time I give it some thought.
At that time, my grandpa had been fighting cancer for more than 5 years, of which he spent quite a bit in hospitals, having surgery after surgery and treatment after treatment. For their entire married life, my grandparents shared everything, supporting each other and encouraging each other to overcome every obstacle and to achieve every dreams. Each day of the 45 years spent together, my grandma made sure that her husband would have breakfast ready to eat in the morning and a nutritious lunch packed to take with him to work.
This, of course, didn’t stop during the times my grandpa was in the hospital, having his cancer treatment. Every morning, my granny was waking up, making breakfast, taking it to the hospital in hope that, despite his lack of appetite, my grandpa would have at least a bite to eat, then coming back home and planning an elaborate, irresistible lunch, that she cooked and then took back to the hospital, restless in her attempts to make sure that my grandpa would be well fed, in his time of sickness.
One afternoon, exhausted from having run around the entire day, my granny asked me and my sister to take lunch to the hospital in her place. As soon as we entered the hospital, this pungent smell of sickness and medicines struck us. We found my grandpa’s room, but he wasn’t there. Instead, his bed-sheet was stained with drops of blood, probably due to the fact that his IV had been replaced.
After a couple of minutes, my grandpa enters the room. Weak, livid, barely managing to carry his own weight, exhausted by this merciless disease, staring at his feet. One of his roommates told him “Hey, look, you have visitors”, at which moment my grandpa lifted his head, and when he saw us, his eyes lit up, coming to life in a bright and loving smile, a smile so sweet and kind and deep that it left a mark on the very core of my soul, and said “Grandpa’s girls, I could eat you both!”… My grandpa, my role model of strength and resilience, gathered all of his remaining strength, and dedicated it entirely to showing us how much he loved us.


This image has haunted me over the years, and today, more than 9 years after his passage to the after world, I believe the time has finally come to pay the well-deserved respect and commemorate the moment I first experienced divine love, manifested through the light of love on my grandpa’s face. And suddenly, it dawned on me that we only perceive and understand things that also exist within us, that we can recognize in our own emotional and spiritual DNA. And I felt light…
Two years ago, I discovered another form of unconditional love, which up to this day, is teaching me to surrender, to let go of ego, to let go of expectations and to allow my soul to be nourished, replenished by the love I feel for this beautiful person, whose smile, pure and sweet, reminded me of childhood, whose hug, warm and tight, touched my soul and brought me back home, back to safety, back to myself. But that, my fellow friend, is a story for another time… Until then, may you be blessed by the infinite, freeing, comforting light of love, wherever you may be!

Love,
Vladiana

A friend in need…

For the past few months I have been enjoying the pleasure of reconnecting with a dear friend, whom I had drifted apart from, over the years. Interestingly enough, our paths crossed again, at a time when our emotional struggles were mirroring each other, so we were given the opportunity to be there for one another, as a pillar of hope, support and unconditional love.
Going through heartbreak is no easy job, it leaves you in a profound state of self-doubt, with a worn-out self-esteem, a broken life compass and a lost sense of purposefulness. Having a friend to hold your hand and reassure you through the intense process of self-discovery and self-creation is a God-sent gift, which I couldn’t be more grateful for.
Having managed to successfully claim ourselves back, to retake ownership of our stories, me and my friend are now experiencing the thrills of rediscovering romantic love, continuing to share life-shaking insights, each time we are afraid, each time we doubt ourselves and our worthiness of being showered with love by the wonderful men in our lives.


Leaving the past in the past, healing wounds, focusing on the present, on our wellness and emotional integrity and dignity has been a journey we’ve taken together, and I am honoured that my friend has chosen me as her travel companion.
And then, something which nothing short of magical happened today. My friend’s satisfaction and contentment in her relationship somehow sneaked their way into my brainwaves, for I had a dream which vividly allowed me to feel the happiness, the playfulness, the friskiness, the beauty of love she is currently experiencing.
I woke up from my dream with a boost of energy, of immense happiness of knowing she is happy and loved the way she deserves. And I wanted nothing more than to encourage her to live this experience fully, to allow it to permeate her every cell, her every wound, each and every darkened or scarred nook of her heart, and rejuvenate her with young love.
You may wonder why I’m sharing this with you. Well, my fellow friend, it is simply because happiness and love must be shared. We should all walk each-other in the direction of these life-giving and life-changing emotions, we should all nurture joy and compassion into one another’s hearts, and spread the magic of unconditional love all around.
So, get yourself out there and find a love that keeps your soul forever young!

Love,
Vladiana

New Year’s resolutions and fortune-telling pies

They say that when you toss a coin, in the brief moment when the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for.
It got me thinking about the endless possibilities of manifesting our heart’s desires and generating abundance in our lives, simply by stating deeply and honestly what we yearn for, with no hesitation or fear that we may not deserve the fulfillment of our wishes.
Yesterday I had the chance of putting my theory to the test. I was lucky enough to participate to the preparation of a traditional Bulgarian fortune-telling pie, with a twist: we wrote our own fortunes, and we hid them in the pie, impatiently waiting for it to bake, so we’d see what surprises the year ahead holds.
Our innermost wishes took the shape of small notes stating: “God-sent gift”, “unconditional love”, “somebody to love”, “exotic trips”, “exciting adventures”, “cheerful home”, “dream job”. By the time the notes were written and hidden inside the pie, I knew exactly what I hoped for.

Unsurprisingly, the 3 wishes granted, the 3 fortunes that my pie foretold, were exactly those that I had manifested. The same was also true for the beautiful ladies who introduced me to this delightful New Year tradition.
Furthermore, I realized that I had been attracting those specific wishes for quite a while now, welcoming them into my life, being ready for them, allowing myself to grow and evolve so I may be good enough to accomplish them. And most importantly, being firmly convinced that I am worthy of abundance, worthy of love, worthy of everything I set my mind to.
I thus learned that the future starts in the past, when the seed of hope is planted into our hearts, and all we must do is nourish it with positivity, with kindness, embracing the possibility and anticipating its fruition. Therefore, my beautiful people, I wish upon you that you begin fearlessly wishing and fulfilling your wishes!

Love,
Vladiana

Beginnings

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place”.
And when it does, it is scooped into the Universe’s nurturing embrace. For love is the generating force of all progress, of all movement, of all creation. Therefore, my wish for y’all beautiful people is that the only thing you bring with you into the New Year be love, for it will guide your steps and not lead you astray.
Allow the depths of your spirit speak to you, in kindness, compassion and harmony, and your New Year’s wishlist will create itself.

As for me, I am, as of today, starting to wire my brain to accept happiness, by systematically doing things that make me happy, as a daily routine. I share my “Project Happiness” list with you, in hope that you may find some inspiration and kick-start your own journey of happiness, wherever in the world and whichever stage in your life you may find yourself in.

Here we go:
1. Wake up, say a little player/meditation
2. Open the window and make my bed
3. Make sure my living space is tidy
4. Care for myself: washing, using hair or skincare products
5. Wear something nice and clean
6. Make myself something to eat / cook something
7. Listen to music and dance while I’m cooking or cleaning
8. Watch educational or motivational videos, that I can learn something from
9. Do something creative: take a photo / do some graphic design
10. Watch a nice movie or series
11. Laugh. A lot!
12. Have at least one tight, loving hug
13. Be nice /random act of kindness
14. Be grateful
15. Repeat tomorrow.

These being said, I welcome you into a New Year in which you move closer to finding yourself. Have a New Year of countless blessings, my beautifuls!

Love,
Vladiana