A butterfly and guardian angels

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“What do you miss most about your dad?” my yoga therapist, Anastasia, asked me a few weeks after my father passed away.
Without much thought, I replied: “I lost my biggest fan…”
 
Minutes later, I sobbed endlessly in my car and I realized, that up until that day, I hadn’t allowed myself the time to grieve properly.
 
“You have more fans than you know..” Anastasia’s words echoed in my head. She was right. Only, no one matched daddy…
 
Dad was my first phone call every single morning. He wanted a full report every time I was training for a half marathon: my nutrition plan, how early I went to my morning runs and how many kms I ran. He even shared his forecasts for my finish time and was my support team in so many races. He cheered for me at the finish line in Prague, after he proudly told the Czech PM that I was amongst the Cyprus delegation. He held my hand at my last ½ marathon in Paphos, when I was about to faint, and helped me cross the finish line with a smile. Dad had a distinctive way of simplifying complex situations and the charisma to help us live life with a touch of spice.
 
During dad’s six-month ordeal, I came to the realization that life has all kinds of tastes: sweet, salty, delicious, sour, nourishing and toxic. When the taste gets sour, we must remember to sprinkle life with an extra dose of love, have faith, stay positive and stay close to friends of heart and family.
 
It was time to start living again as life ought to be lived. Smile at his wonderful memories, let his legacy live on, re-live his myriad cheer leading moments, and open my eyes wide open- to remind myself that there is still beauty around me. And love.
Once I removed that protective shield, love and light started to pour in. And, I allowed it to stay with me.
 
But…it still took an effort to smile…
 
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It was during this challenging time that I randomly found myself in the United States (a place I call my ‘Wonderland’ with lifelong memories which hold a very special place in my heart). A two-week program on civil society, together with representatives from 30 countries was my gift from a guardian angel in disguise.
 
Despite the intensive program and long hours, I had to make time to see my friends of heart- friends who reside deep into my soul. Friends, who had stood by me through my dad’s ordeal from afar. So much love and care from my ‘Americanakia’… 12 guardian angels whom I was blessed to reunite with.
 
 
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While chillaxing at the hotel terrace one day, a butterfly fluttered over my head and landed on my shoulder, where it stayed endlessly as in a state of daze. For the first time in three months, my heart smiled.. I felt that it was my dad sprinkling a touch of magic back into my life, telling me that I look prettier when I smile.
 
From that moment, my dad’s smiling face was all I saw. That enchanting butterfly brought with it a reunion with an old friend, whom I hadn’t seen in almost two decades. A friend, who had also lost a parent and could feel my pain… A friend who managed to make me see daddy’s passing with a different perspective… “He’s still here,” he told me with a smile. “He’s part of you.”
 
It is true what they say that ‘people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.’ Whichever the case, I am incredibly grateful to have had such exceptional friends around me at such a defining stage of my life- a time when I consciously decided to leap out of my cocoon and, quite simply, start living again. I feel honored…and blessed..
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The power of ‘X’

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It’s official! The TED bug is on and so is the power of ‘X’.  And we are all set for TEDxNicosia 2014 on November 1. This year, our theme is PERSPECTIVES and we are delighted with people’s enthusiasm when we ask: “So… what’s your PERSPECTIVE?’
 
I feel  honored to be part of such an incredible team of volunteers, which works tirelessly and passionately towards one single goal- to organize and present an event which will intrigue, energize and inspire with ‘ideas worth spreading.’
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Every single TEDxer will tell you that this is their way of giving back to the community. Quite simply, it is their humble contribution to society. What’s more, this is a returning team… So, I asked everyone why! What is that magical X formula which keeps everyone glued on TEDxNicosia?
 
“It’s all about the collective power of energy: felt through working with a wonderful team, speakers, performers, partners, and the audience. And, the magic being manifested via the local community.” –Paul Koronis, Organizer/ Curator
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“The like-minded and passionate energy of the TEDxNicosia team, which makes an inspirational impact in our community.”  –Loris Stavrinides, Organizer/ Creative Director
 
“What has inspired me to join and be a part of this family is positiveness, thrive for knowledge and peace of mind, happiness, and living in the moment with great ideas!”     –Evanthia Koronis, Sponsors & Logistics Coordinator
 
“TEDxNicosia has become a way of living. I love our meetings and the times we collectively brainstorm! It’s about professionalism, genuine teamwork, the love we all share for new ideas, the adrenaline rush and the overall excitement on the countdown to the event!” – Stephania Constantinou, Translations & Logistics
 
 “The unparalleled spirit of the team! Because that’s one of the main ingredients for the success of TEDxNicosia.” – Andri Josef, Photographer
 
“The need to learn, improve and be inspired by people who have an idea worth spreading!” –Charis Michael, Sponsors & Logistics Coordinator
 

“The TEDxNicosia experience is truly profound. The reason I keep coming back is because I believe in the spirit of TED, which essentially means bringing people together to spread new ideas. What inspires me is that our team, devotes their personal time to organize successful events in order to spread new ideas to the community around us. We are all so different, coming from different backgrounds but because we share the same values we make it happen. We all inspire and challenge each other and that is how we are able to put together a platform for voices to be heard.” –Christina Neophytidou, Ticketing & Auditorium Management

“The immense impact these events have on our little island’s society. Everyone owes it to themselves to be motivated and inspired. So let’s keep spreading those ideas!”
–Stephanie Stefanou, Logistics
 
With all that being said so passionately, what more can I say other than:
 
LET’S KEEP THE POWER AND MAGIC OF ‘X’ SPREADING!
And let’s keep sprinkling it with passion!

The Wander Notes

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I am delighted to introduce a very talented friend’s blog, The Wander Notes http://thewandernotes.com/. 
 
Maria Massoura has been wandering across the globe for a lifetime. From Madrid to NY and Constantinople to India. Quite simply, she relishes each journey and magically transforms it into a voyage of the senses. And, she always takes wander notes- lots of them! 
 
I thank Maria for giving me the honor to share some of my wander notes in Cuba..
 
Salsa and daiquiris at the chameleon island http://thewandernotes.com/mahi-cuba/ 

Childhood Reminiscences

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I vividly remember those glorious days at the beach with my dad 40 years ago. We would drive past rolling desert dunes and majestic palm trees, singing off-key, ecstatic at the idea that we would soon have him all to ourselves! Fridays were the only time that dad did not work. And my brother and I had his undivided attention.
Those were our days in Oman back in the 70s. Oman of our heart… our own family gem in the Arabian Peninsula for a little over a decade.
 
A towel, fruit, sandwiches and water. Those were our essentials. Nothing more. Nothing less.
 
We spent hours running on that long stretch of golden sand, chasing crabs, filling our little buckets with sea shells, kicking sea water while playing wet hide and seek. And laughing.. incessantly.
 
Then there were the seagulls, which would randomly appear on that pristine coastline early in the afternoon. I still remember Coco- an injured sea gull, which daddy saved. For weeks, he tried to explain to us in vain why he had to let him fly away.
 
Those were our special ‘seasons in the sun’.
 
When I am sad, disheartened, disillusioned or, when these memories pinch my heart, I just close my eyes for a moment and I magically surface in this childhood wonderland. I take a fascinating glimpse in Oman of my heart, feel that fresh salt air brushing my face, and I smile. I smile at those days of innocence and genuine beauty.
 
A childhood family friend, Litsa Liasis, recently told me that my dad’s passing resembled the end of an era- an era of innocence and purity. That special era of our days in Oman.
 
And I wondered… could we perhaps relive this era…?

The Essence of Life

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Today, I would like to share an article which was published in the #elephantjournal through #fittoinspire. I dedicate this article to my dad, the one man who taught me the TRUE essence of life..!
 
Since my late teens, my rite of passage to herald the spring is pedicured feet flaunting in a new pair of vibrant sandal wedges.
 
It’s my way of saying:
 
“Hello spring, I am so happy that you are here!”
 
This Spring, I bought a pair of trainers instead. Not for me, but for my amazing dad. Faced with a serious health challenge a few months ago, dad has been too weak to run. His determination to soon run a 10k with me, however, is astounding. Quite frankly, he’s my daily dose of inspiration.
I had to create “spring” for dad sealed with a promise to run together again.
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/06/the-essence-of-life-in-10-quotes/

Moments which make your heart smile

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Life is all about creating moments worth smiling about.

Almost a year ago, my family and friends of heart threw a surprise birthday party for me. A culinary theme, coupled with genuine smiles and the most authentic gifts- wooden spoons decorated by each friend with a special touch of spice. A year later, I am still reminiscing that day as those memories will always make my heart smile. 

My birthday spoons are now a piece of art, thanks to Eva Christofides’ creation. 

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Let us keep creating moments which make hearts smile!