Whenever we move to a new place, we are surrounded by new energy, new people and food, and all this new information creates a completely different life. People have asked me how I manage to stay grounded and responsible when I travel so much, and the answer is – I do not always stay grounded.
Truth be told, if you learn how to organise yourself when moving around a lot, you have mastered life, at least partially. I like challenges and I like to make it simple in situations that are not easy, and that is why in 2017 I moved around a lot, and faced many beautiful changes in my life.
I am happy to share my ‘little lives’ of 2017 with you below
January – facing fears in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is cozy because it is home. Ever since I came to this city, I knew I wanted to live there, and I finally moved in 2016. I love everything about Chiang Mai – the old neighbourhood with a little wooden house shop and the bald neighbour who always said hello, the sun in my window, the always fresh smoothies, abundance of massage schools and the vibrant crowd of people.
One thing I hardly ever shared with anyone is that in this vibrant crowd of people I took a very scary step last January and exposed myself in full vulnerability by offering people meditation workshops. I hosted them on Fridays in Cube No. 7, and was really scared to come every time. Surprisingly, many people showed up and enjoyed.
I finished the month with improv theater weekend which also expanded by comfort zone. Please do not ever be afraid to share your treasures and step out of your comfort zone.
February – self discovery in Loei
With WPI Foundation crew we went on a retreat in Himmawan Sanctuary in the North East Thailand. This place is very strong energetically, and every time I come back here, I discover something new about myself and the world. This time I faced many vulnerable aspects of my being, and one of them was asking for help when I decided to cover my eyes and go completely blind for a day.
March – work and travel
Watching sunsets in Koh Phangan, riding to different beaches, practicing ashtanga yoga every morning, listening to music and dancing at the beach, and at the same time working like crazy and having too many wandering thoughts.
After two weeks in Koh Phangan, we drove up to Bangkok by car and visited a container hotel on our way.
Later in March we had Bridge fellowship in Georgia for amazing souls from the post Soviet countries – the project I love the most at my work and that I had been preparing for months. We spent 5 days meditating, sharing, growing together, and after that 3 more days in Tbilisi with monk John teaching workshops on meditation.
After that monk John, Irina and I set out to our trip to Armenia, into Switzerland-like snow covered mountains, where we were led up to the top by a yogi.
From there we moved around two more cities in Armenia, and I met an artist who took me to his studio and gave me his painting which mysteriously disappeared later from my house in Chiang Mai.
and this is the last time I saw this beautiful painting…
April – Zero Waste month
Having traveled in Georgia and Armenia, I came back to Thailand and was shocked by the amount of plastic that is used here every day. I decided to start a Zero waste month and encouraged all of my friends to get reusable water bottles and food containers, I made fabric bags to shop at the market and made my own compost!
Before my departure to Myanmar my landlord threw away my compost – “This bucket smelled bad, so I cleaned it”.
On my birthday I was hugged by elephants thanks to Madi, and I also learnt that any expectations lead to disappointment. Then I set out to Myanmar and spent magical time wandering around Yangon, writing and curiously observing. Later Antoine joined me and we traveled to Inle Lake, Bagan and the oldest longest wooden bridge in the world.
May – expression of love
It all started with my hair going grey, me moving away from Chiang Mai (but only after finishing 120 hours Thai massage training, Laughter yoga leader training and visiting beautiful Maladhara in the rice fields).
On May 19 my book was released in Ukraine! It was the happiest moment of the year – when I held my novel in my hands for the first time. This is what I call love. Then I went off to Moldova and taught meditation to psychology teachers, yogis, old people and teenagers. Gratitude, love and sharing.
June – mountains, sea and baguettes
We had out first meditation retreat in Ukraine in the beautiful Carpathian mountains. It was relaxed and chill, with yoga, meditation, walking in the mountains, drawing mandalas and enjoying every single moment and heavy hutsul meals.
In June I went to France for the first time in my life and visited Paris, where we walked many kilometres every day and ate many baguettes.
July – overtravel
Chisinau, Odesa, Vinnysia, Lypovets, Lviv, Kyiv – it was six different cities and not such a good idea. We tried to spend quality time together, go sightseeing and work at the same time. Complete abundance and complete overload.
August – Belarus magic
I spent a week hanging out with my uncle and it gave me such a homey grounding sensation that I could go on with traveling to Belarus, where I guided meditations again and stayed with incredible Tania, a psychologist, a writer, a teacher and a friend who cooks like a goddess.
September – lazy and crazy
I am grateful for the walks by the beach in St Nazaire with Antoine, for grandma’s amazing meals, baguettes and the warm welcome I received. Thank you France!
I also had two book presentations – in my hometown and in Lviv, and I spent a lazy week at home collecting walnuts, singing and looking at autumn from my window.
Oh yeah, and I started painting for the first time in my life. Thank you Artist Way, Julia Cameron.
October – Serbia and Bulgaria. And then again, Serbia and Bulgaria
In Serbia a group of outstanding individuals joined for South East Europe Peace Fellowship, it was easy to coordinate and very enjoyable. I am grateful for meeting each one of these inspiring lovely people! This time i taught yoga again, thank you!
In October I also flew on an air balloon and went to a cave with crystals for the first time.
And I stayed there, living by the cave.
Except for I went back to Belgrade for a conference and visited Yana, her cat Felix and Sabai gallery in Bulgaria one more time, and we also went to meditate in Metta saltroom and for a chocolate tasting.
And so November I spent by the cave trying to do as much nothing as I could and making love. I was running by the river with Marusia the dog, conquering my fear of cold and writing my new novel – Adventures of Frenchman in Ukraine.
November smells like camomile tea and oak leaves from the Russian sauna, and like wet earth and hay and cat fur. November gave me the best gift of the year – first snow! In November we commemorated my grandfather who died a year ago.
December – magic
The year ended where it started – in Himmawan Sanctuary in Thailand. This is the place of insight and deep wisdom, and i got my main insight for the training – always take responsibility. I was honoured to be among 56 meditation trainers, each one of whom inspires me deeply. I was happy to meet my humble spiritual teacher monk Pavit, and exchange some words with him.
The year ended with a fairy tale Khlong Bangluang, living by a canal in Bangkok suburb, meeting a magical grandma and tasting life to the fullest, in every little sip of life finding the deepest meaning and joy.
When I look back to my year 2017, I remember that I chose the words ‘Feedback and follow up’ to work on, and my follow up skills did improve, but this year was about magic indeed.
I realised one very deep truth – when we allow magic into our lives, it comes in with a full of package with magical creatures and rituals. When we allow magic, we step into a whole new level, and we cannot go back anymore, it’s like taking the pill out of the Matrix.
Thank you 2017, and I wish everyone to allow magic into their lives!
cover photo by Andrii Lytvynenko