Tetyana Live

A dose of happy

Love Diary

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I turned to the last resort by gazing directly into his eyes searching for the last bit of compassion. Strangely, I knew that no one ever looked inside this deep before. And that was when I walked away.

It was spring, and the magnolia trees had long shed their blossoms. My room mate and I casually strolled the midnight streets chewing on sugar cane, sharing headphones. I liked having banal conversations with her but today she wanted to talk about something different.

“I think that I’m entering a dark territory, and I really don’t like the way it feels.”

“What do you mean?” I laughed. “What dark territory?”

“You know what I mean… I feel like I’m becoming jaded.”

“What are you worried about?” I asked.

“He doesn’t want to be serious but he’s dangling me around. I forgive this behavior and continue to fall into his arms every time he wants to see me. But lately, it has been different. I am starting to close and pull away but I know that I will never have a connection with anyone like I had with him. It was extraordinary.”

“You don’t think that you can connect with anyone else?”

“No. Well, how about you? Are you jaded too and that’s what made it easy for you to get over yours?” she wondered.

“I think that I’m generally more amazed at the fact that I have been able to fall in love and love many times despite past experiences.”

“What if you can’t… this time around?”

I thought of him often and when I wasn’t occupied, I wrote poetry. It was my way of being by reliving moments that impacted me the most. And writing poetry was like conceiving a child. It allowed me to manifest my spirit. One evening, he surprised me with a visit.

He knew that I loved flowers, that they softened me. And so, he brought a rich bouquet with pink and white roses. There were notes inside. Had he written me letters?

I was barefoot and I thanked him.

“I knew that you will return,” I said.

“You look beautiful.”

As I peeked out into the street, I noticed a woman in the passenger seat of his car.

“Can I invite her in?”

“I must go now,” he said. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

And he left.

I unwrapped the flowers and housed them into a few vases on the window sill, so that the morning sunshine can keep awakening their sweet charms.

“What is this stuff all over the floor?” asked my room mate.

I bent down and collected the papers that fell out of the bouquet. I examined them carefully, as though I was seeing them for the first time.

“My poems,” I told her. “They were not addressed to him.”

Chivalry Meets Femme: How Dating is Saving the World

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Within each and one of us lies a core radiating and nurturing life’s mission. And for Ukrainian volunteers right in this hot moment, the mission is to heal the embodied heritage, national identity and to revive collective strength.

In 2012 I wrote a piece critiquing the Ukrainian approach to political control. The root cause of everlasting problems was really social to begin with. The problem was never about corruption. It was all about what lead to corruption. It was about the lack of self-development (responsibility of every citizen), lack of assertiveness, and lack of self respect.

Today things are rapidly changing and much change is coming from abroad. A group of volunteers in NYC created a Valentine’s Day date auction showcasing women participants and enticing guys to bid on a date. The highest bid scored a date and the final amount was donated to the Ukrainian army, in the wake of Russia-Ukraine war in Eastern Ukraine.

I participated and came out of it with a sense of pride. My date turned out to be a respectable gentleman whose father was actively involved with volunteerism in Ukraine and frequently visited soldiers on the front lines. We shared stories from the revolution, our sentiments for the future of our country, offered each other ways we are working on ourselves to become better people and ideas to build a better world, starting with ourselves.

We created a dialogue in a down to earth setting. We planted a seed to what Ukraine needs right now – working, committed, creative minds. I felt inspired. I believed that this is a Valentine’s Day well spent. The result solidified the need for me to take part.

Influential publications covered this auction across the world, including Russia. It was hard not to pay attention to the demeaning attacks from controversial Russian propaganda comparing participant girls to cheap prostitutes.

Facing such words calls for emotional reactions. We are human – it’s normal. But after a short period of time and some thinking I understood that I participated in this event not for personal PR or because I had nothing better to do. I did it because my core signaled to me that I will help a person in need by just giving a little personal time on a special occasion. And it rewarded me with a feeling of solidarity with my beautiful country and opened a world of another perspective.

The critiques of people who have no relation to my mission became meaningless.

And on that note, we decided that even though Valentine’s Day is over, dating isn’t. Why not keep going and spread love some more? It’s so much fun!

We’ve got an English version of the event too – so now anyone can take part. You never know – maybe you will meet a compassionate love of your life. Join us!!

 

Something Feminists Forgot

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I vowed to myself that at some point in my writing career I will talk about it, because this subject turns me on. And so without further ado, I will give it to you now upfront and uncut without all the fluff –

Feminists forgot how to be feminine.

Here is how I came to that conclusion…

In college, I leaned on a strategy that landed me the attention from corporate America. I co-founded and ran an organization dedicated to women’s success, through which I saw the ins and outs of women’s access into “men’s world.” It promoted women’s power. Pretty feminist if you ask me.

But looking deep down inside, I learned that instead of dedicating themselves to women’s power, feminists are perverting it. 

The other day I read something about the Jonas snowstorm in Washington DC, and how there was “something strangely different about Senate that day. Only women showed up!” The aura of the story didn’t aim to expose the normal in and out of a working person’s life. It felt staged to make men look like a**holes.

I nearly chocked to death, because that’s not smart. That’s stupid! What these women should have been doing was snuggling (if not more) the life out of their husbands and making a family snowstorm party instead of wining how much more hardworking they are. Not plowing through the snowstorm to prove how valuable they are to society. Because a real society that needs their love and affection, votes and appeals, is right in front of their noses, not across seven snows. But nevertheless, it made a great news story.

The truth is…

  • Very few women stop to think and ask themselves why they choose to dedicate their life to such and such career.
  • They never consider the fact that it could have been their immigrant father pushing them over the edge simply because he’s living his own dreams through his daughter, or because he always wanted a son.
  • They never consider the fact that it could just be societal conditioning that demeans women a-la “What do you really do for a living?”
  • They never consider the fact that they are scared to be broke or alone with five cats in the house at forty.
  • They never consider that they wanted a career to distract them from real problems they refuse to face.
  • They never consider that it might have been Beyonce who instilled in their heads that they are so independent, and quite frankly, run the world.
  • They never consider the fact that without Jay-Z, Beyonce would be a nobody. Beyonce is smart. Be like Beyonce.

Nowadays women equate their success and power with money and corporate positions. I suppose in today’s world it’s very typical because money is used as a tool of measurement. But money is the term that primitive people think and play by. Any truly successful person will tell you that money isn’t everything. So, why do we make everything about money?

Real-Life Example:

Last summer, I met a very wealthy woman, an immigrant with an insane life story, who made her fortunes from zero. Let’s call her Sandra. Sandra escaped a poor village and ran away from a misogynistic and abusive man whom she was forced to marry. She came to America and worked as a hairdresser. Fast forward a little bit, and Sandra grew to owning some serious real estate and a chain of beauty salons. Everyone was in awe of her.

She married a stay-at-home man who wanted to look after the house and the kids, while she went out and hunted for dinner. She was a lioness. And like a lioness, she threw herself onto men wherever she went (literally), even with zero alcohol in the system, begging for their attention. Sandra needed to get off the male energy, to let its force shape her, wash over her. She is still a woman. She wants to feel sexy, and pretty, and attractive. It doesn’t matter how much was instilled into her scared little head, what ideas forced her to believe that she is in this alone, and if she can’t depend on herself and herself alone, she will parish. Sandra, despite what many feminists would call “the head of the family,” “strong personality,” “business-minded,” was just a weak, desperate mess in my eyes.

I promised that I will never stoop down to the level of lying to myself that this is the life I want. I don’t care how much money this woman has. She isn’t happy. She divorced this third husband six months later.

I think at this point I will be confronted by questions from my readers. I want to clarify them.

  • Isn’t it thanks to the women’s rights movement that women are now treated with more respect by their male counterparts? They can stand up to men?

No. No. And no. Has violence against women stopped just because we opened up more seats for women on governing boards of large corporations? Like I said before, our equality in today’s world is just a measurement. It doesn’t capture or dwell on the fact that women are human beings like men. It doesn’t have to, because that’s already a given.

Hundreds of thousands of women die every year from domestic abuse. Calling 911 can’t control family dynamics. Men and women are personally responsible for understanding how to deal with themselves and each other. And if that woman is running after an alcoholic who almost killed her, she missed a whole entire lifetime of opportunities to learn to love herself and be treated the same way by others. She had no self-respect and she became a victim.

Remember movies in which women were treated like delicate, untouchable flowers? How the men would stand under balconies singing songs to them and begging them to come out and give them a glimpse? How he would gently lead her to a dance, hold her from slipping? How he would look across the room at her like she was some kind of extra terrestrial? That’s real respect. What woman doesn’t want to be looked at the way Jack looked at Rose in Titanic? That’s what made it into one of the best movies in history. Don’t act like it isn’t true.

There were societies long before the discovery of America that leaned on women’s opinions and decisions in the most “male-driven” sectors. Without a woman’s input decisions weren’t made. We are pseudo-comparing our civilization to savage societies that treat women like property. That’s not something we should be doing. 

In fact, in countries that don’t openly advertise themselves as feminist, so much more is being done for women and their family safety and health. Take Cape Town, South Africa for example. There are men in Russia who volunteer to carry a woman’s heavy suitcases because she can damage her reproductive organs lifting heavy things. That’s real damn respect.

A woman will not earn respect by waving their paychecks into her husband’s face, threatening to leave him if he doesn’t treat her right. That’s called chopping off your man’s balls. And that will NEVER, ever lead to her happiness. Try it and prove me wrong. But if she were smart, and played her position the whole time, understood her worth, took time to perfect and care about herself, she wouldn’t even be in this situation.

  • So you’re saying that women should be stay-at-home wives and moms and basically not participate in the working world?

I don’t think women should do this OR that. Women should freely have choice to do whatever it is they want to do with their lives. The real problem is the fact that they don’t quite understand why they do what they do with their lives. They aren’t in touch with themselves. They left their real power dormant. They don’t even know what female power is. In their head, power equates with money and if they don’t have what society calls financial freedom, they consider themselves slaves.

They are drinking propaganda Kool-aid prepared by men in suits they never even heard of. And when they go through a laundry of men, and towards their late twenties or early thirties haven’t met anyone who wants them, they become really angry and bitter.

Instead of reading these signs that something needs attention, as opportunities to dig inside and learn about what makes her tick, what makes her the most valuable creature in this world, what makes men lose their heads and give her everything she deserves and wants in return for her innate passion, excitement, love and nourishment (what to her is actually so easy and effortless to give), instead of all of this, she prides herself and pats her own shoulders about how good of a strong independent woman she is, and how men are just stupid to not want her and don’t know her worth. Oh, *snaps fingers* aaaaand! She can make her own money! So screw all of you!

I know and I am sincerely confident that men quietly reading this article will nod their heads and say they’ve met plenty of these kinds. They will agree that a woman isn’t sexy because she can tell him what item is included in all financial statements. They will agree that a woman is sexy for her internal state, her confidence with her womanhood, her WISDOM, and ability to turn his head in ways he didn’t know was possible, to make him feel. Something incredible. They will agree that it’s sexy when she perfects each little part of herself, when she channels love to everything that needs TLC.

Women have no clue how much time this all takes. They probably spend the least amount of time on their appearance, their health, their beauty, their spirituality. They forgot to treat and develop themselves. And that’s how they forgot to love themselves. We know, that if one can’t love herself, she can’t love anyone else.

  • What if I already have a job? Should I quit?

Last year, I read a book titled “Learning to Love” by Anatoly Nekrasov, truly a gem, that said if you are a woman, want to turn around your life and have a job that takes all of your precious time from caring about yourself…Use the proceeds of your job to care about yourself. Literally, make it a point of its existence. I don’t mean using your paycheck to drink your face off all weekend to cure your depression or to “belong”. Use the money to go to a spa, to get a procedure done, to join a gym of your dreams and actually go to it. Are you depressed? Hire a counselor, change your diet, and figure it out. Stop putting bandaids on it. It’s eating you alive. You walk like a tank? Take some catwalk classes and learn how to sway your hips. Stuff like that.

Once you start channeling your money into the right places, your life will change. Slowly. You can’t change this statue overnight. You’re made of bronze, realize it and get over it. You will need to melt off the wrong pieces in due time.

  • What if I’m really passionate about something and I want to pursue it?

Good for you! If I would guess, maybe less than 10% of the whole world population actually loves what they do. Another reason why there are so few happy people. Your commitment to your passions is another way you can channel love to yourself. Everything else will find its course and fall into place. Keep doing what you’re doing – you’re already taking a road less traveled.

When all “feminists” and “feminist trend-riders” are sharpening their battle tools to fight me, or getting their eggs ready to throw at me, I want to take the opportunity and nudge them a little bit just one more time. I want to tell you, dear feminists, that you’re just women with screwed in, fake balls between your legs. Some of you wear balls that you chopped off from your dearest counterparts. You spend your day imitating how men behave in the boardroom and still copy their notes on salary negotiations. You have shown nothing of how powerful you are because to get to know your feminine power takes a lot of damn work. You’re lazy and full of excuses. We know – because it’s easier to copy than to invent your own; you’re not fooling anybody.

Save the Skin! Part 1

Skin – the largest and most visible organ of the body. The skin system protects our inner organs from outside pressures, regulates our physiology, and purifies the body by excreting internal waste, one of them being acne. Today, based on my journey and a decade-long fight with skin problems, I will talk about my very preliminary cheap and mean ways to healthier skin.

A before-you-read Warning: this isn’t for the lazy. Results are different for everyone, and so you must allow your body time to implement the small, consistent daily steps.

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Some years ago, when acne was a normal part of life, I, like many other teenagers visited the dermatologist. To no surprise this one advised me to take some birth control medication to regulate my condition, which already wasn’t too horrible to begin with. That was my first and last visit:)

Needless to say, breakouts moved from the oily t-zone to the rest of my face, the neck, the shoulders, sometimes upper arms. My choice of weapons was: dense makeup, and depending on condition – pressed powder. I still switched and searched for many over the counter products but I felt like I was losing the battle. When parents told me to stop picking on my skin, I just didn’t care – I felt like it couldn’t get any worse anyway so why stop now? Plus, I said – my skin regenerates quickly and I never have any scars. I think that’s when the skin gods heard me and gave me some scars as a thank you gesture for an invincible personality.

I went to deep facials just to walk out with deep velvet skin and more problems than I came in with. I stopped going to deep facials. I visited skin practitioners in Europe, and that’s when one woman sat down with me and penciled in some things that can potentially save me. Fortunately, or not, none of the items on the list surprised me: no fried foods, no chocolate, no squeezing. But there was also something a little more practical.

IT ALL BEGAN WITH NUTRITION. THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF OUR PHYSICAL APPEARANCE.

“+” Probiotics. I think they are the number one to thank for my amazing skin improvement. I am a huge fan of Lifeway Kefir – cultured liquid dairy. It is better than any yogurt because it contains 12 active cultures vs the 4 you normally find in yogurts. It is non-gmo which is also heart-warming.

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Kefir is a star item on my breakfast shelf. I think there is nothing better than a bowl of homemade old-fashioned oatmeal with kefir in the morning. The oats are tender and you don’t even need to cook them – just soak them in water, milk, or kefir overnight – and voila, you have a ready to eat meal when you wake up, which is a plus. A minus is: no more “no time to cook” excuses:)

When oats bore me, I buy barley groats, barley pearl, corn groats, and any other type of oat that suits my mood. So delicious, cheap, nutritious, and most of all – filling. I have no desire to snack or eat anything until 1-2pm. If you have a “normal” morning to evening work schedule, you should consider making breakfast the biggest and most important meal of your day. I have and I couldn’t be more thankful for this new habit.

Our metabolism works fastest when we wake up, that is why eating carbs for breakfast makes sense – body burns them as sustainable energy throughout the day. Towards dinnertime, we should wean off carbs (because metabolism slows down to prepare for rest and excess unused carbs get stored as fat). That said, for lunch, I love Siggy’s Nonfat Vanilla yogurt (about 1.5 – 2 cups). It is thick, creamy, and super high on protein which is filling. I haven’t eaten anything more tasty.

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I also have sprouted almonds, Brazil nuts and pecans or fruit/berries, depending on preference.  Lean meat with veggies is also a great choice. In other words, there’s something for everyone.

Understanding how/when the body breaks down certain kinds of foods is important because the quicker the food digests and leaves the body (without gas, or acid build up), the less the body will need to work to purify these leftovers through inflamed acne. The more time it will have to beautify itself on the outside, including better skin cell function, regeneration, hair, and nail growth, wrinkle control, etc.

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper,” says old school wisdom.

“+” Chicory. This is a natural coffee replacement and a wonder drink. It comes in root powder form, is instant and tastes amazing with a splash of milk. 60% of chicory is inulin which supports growth of healthy bacteria in the intestines (read: probiotics from your daily Kefir). Do not forget that the intestines house a huge chunk of our immune system. Taking care of them is key.

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“+” Collagen. As soon as I wake up I take 3 collagen supplements. Collagen is a structured protein that maintains strength and flexibility throughout the body. It helps keep the skin plump and healthy and boosts nail and hair growth. The brand I trust is called Neocell because it has no additives. It comes in powder and capsule form. I take capsules. Now, I am NOT a fan of vitamins and supplements – I do not take any and believe that they do more harm than good. But this kind of supplement is a little bit different. And instead of a dose of 6 capsules (3 in morning and 3 at night), I only take the morning dose.

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“+” Morning Beauty Elixir. 30 minutes after taking collagen, I mix 2 tablespoons of Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with 1 teaspoon of raw and unprocessed honey in a cup of warm water. 30-45 minutes after procedure, I have breakfast.

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The method to the madness is: apple cider vinegar ignites and regulates the digestive system, and infuses it with amino acids. Raw and unprocessed honey is full of naturally-derived vitamins as well as antiseptic properties. This kind of honey can also be used topically as a quick moisturizing toner/mask. Truly a wonder product. Many reviews claim that this recipe has helped them lose weight – and indeed after doing some research I learned that apple cider vinegar helps the body absorb vitamins throughout the day.

I used to drink this without the honey, but I really didn’t like the taste and stopped altogether. When I tried with honey, it came back on my MUST DO daily regimen.

And now…

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“-“ The usual suspects to cross off and forget about: fried, processed food, sweets, cakes, baked goods, chocolate, bread, pasta (except durum or semolina, in pure form), frizzy drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, other sugary drinks, excess caffeine, alcohol. There is not a single organ in the body NOT affected by alcohol. If you care about your health, you will quit drinking.

“-“ Restaurants. A big no-no in reconstruction phase. I know my New Yorker friends are going to think that I’m losing or already lost my mind for saying this. No alcohol and NO restaurants?

There are way too many additives in restaurant food. It’s almost amazing, just almost, how a 300 calorie salad can easily become 1,200 calorie salad in an establishment. Sauces with preservatives and chemicals – no thank you. Face stuffing and alcohol pouring has perverted our culture enough that we don’t know how to even communicate without these two. The decision is yours.

80% of our physical appearance is a direct result of our Nutrition. No Over the counter product, grandma’s recipe, DIY from Pintrest, NOTHING will help you glow if your nutrition isn’t in order.

 

To sum up my bright changes: more eating at home, more breakfast, more probiotics, more metabolism-friendly routine (carbs -> carbs/protein -> protein). Don’t forget – more sleep. Sleep cures so much.

***I must also add something SUPER IMPORTANT:***

  • if your current nutrition plan and lifestyle is unhealthy, do yourself a favor and incorporate small steps. From my own experience, changing too much all at once can be very frustrating. Many times, I quit because I was tired of keeping up. Then, results are really hard to see with a yo-yo approach. Be very patient and gentle with yourself. It helped me.

This is me after just two weeks after implementing the steps above. (No filters, no makeup, no moisturizers, no anything). I have completely oily skin, which to my luck is also extremely sensitive. So, reaching this point is simply triumphant to me.

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Message in a Bottle

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A successful person understands the big picture – the smooth and the rough edges. He intakes what warms him, what nurtures him; he uses what doesn’t serve him at the moment, in that particular place as experience.

A successful person does not stubbornly live in the world of positivity and goodness. Not because he’s a pessimist. No, no. Because he knows that if he takes any one side, he will miss out on the other half of opportunity.

He does not allow his own or others’ point of view to dictate his happiness.

A successful person owns tools and possesses the knowledge of how and when to use them. He will navigate when it’s in his power to do so, and sometimes – give up, guiltlessly.

A successful person is a captain of his own vessel, and thus he knows that he is in process of solving his eternal mystery. He will unlock many intricate doors to his delicate and intelligent microcosm.

He knows that he alone has walked his journey and that no one spoon-fed his spirit – he found the inspiration he needed and breathed it in fully; that he is the product of the beginning of time, and in him runs all the beauty of the world and answers to his quests.

A successful person makes decisions at the intersection of his logic and his intuition. He bathes himself in nature, he knows how to communicate with it and respects it as he respects the law.

He understands that every desired result undergoes a natural cycle, it adjusts to his person, his history, his maturity and outlooks. He is aware that if he artificially speeds up this process, he will face repercussions and consequences that destabilize his journey. He does not know when the cycle will complete itself but when it does, he knows that it is indeed complete. He makes fun of this discrepancy.

A successful person is humble. When he takes his time to look up at the sky and appreciate the countless galaxies above him, he is reminded that his challenges aren’t as exaggerated as he makes them up to be. And through these moments he identifies what direction he must seek and ignores the noises of his own mind and of others who don’t understand the motivation behind his choices.

He allocates time for passion – it fuels his being, it makes him attractive and it keeps him alive and healthy. Every particle is blessed with his touch through gravitation of his affection and love. And through his continued self-discovery, he continues the cycle of life.

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Relationships: Dating Eastern European

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Suppose, I’ll start with a personal belief that nothing in life is accidental:)

On my way from Paris to Ukraine I met an American gentleman, who after hearing me speak English at the gate asked me to help him figure out transportation when we land in Kiev. At the luggage carousel in 15 short minutes he tells me a life story. He was older and seemed refined, so I politely inquired if he was there on business. “No, I’m here to meet a lady,” he said. I didn’t push for any more information because that’s private life, but he seemed to need an ear because he radiated with emotion on the subject and continued spilling about his online dating adventures with Ukrainian women. 

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“Yesterday,” he went on, “in my hotel room in Paris I saw a message that the lady I was supposed to meet here was detained in Donetsk and sent to Lugansk because she tried to cross the rebel-controlled zone. So, I flew here for nothing and she won’t make it to Kiev. Luckily, I know a few other ladies I’ve talked to online and remained friends to take out for dinner to keep me company for the next few days.”

“Did you use legitimate dating sites?” I asked. “Do they not make sure that the agreement to meet after you build a virtual relationship actually holds for both parties?”

“I used the best one on the internet,” he claimed. “But you know, it’s not the first time. In the past I had brought one over to the states to marry and then she dumped me for a guy who was 30 years older than her. Well, he had a private jet and a yacht, can you blame her? I’m well off but I’m not that rich.”

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“But I continued using the sites because I am attracted to Eastern European women. They are more lady-like. I’ve been talking to some and it seems that they will always come up with stories about being sick, or their mother in the hospital asking me to help them out. And when I come down here to meet, they disappear. I have brought thousands of dollars worth of clothes before and then saw the same girl posting photos of herself in them on the site. Of course, they will make some excuses and I will never see them again.”

He just exposed his weaknesses so easily, practically victimizing himself about an unfortunate dating life. But he continued to fall into his vices. And no matter how many times he was used, he kept spending money over and over again to meet a Ukrainian or Russian bride. I’m sure that he was an intelligent man, he carried himself well, and I didn’t want to sound like a smart ass. But I felt bad for him, and thought maybe I’ll throw another shot at explaining why it is the way it is.

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Brief history lesson: Ukraine was Soviet – in a union of countries where very FEW had wealth, where everyone lived the same normal life (while Western countries had a variety of choices, technological advancements, opportunities to make money and build businesses). Normal things, like yogurt were considered delicacies and even extra normal things like milk and bread were rationed, so people stood in line to get their portions.

After the collapse of the union, Eastern Europeans were like hungry animals out of the cage. And as soon as they had access to opportunities and money, they took consumption to the next level. Levels misunderstood by Westerners who tend to spend intelligently and focus more on investing their money and acquiring assets.

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Of course, the women, understanding their coveted looks paired with soft and feminine qualities, along with family-oriented values, established sorts of standards for themselves. And they are high. But this is only half of the story.

The other half is that part of the exciting Eastern block is still entrenched in extreme poverty and income gaps. The less fortunate women not only hardly survive, but they also compare themselves to those who live in luxury (of which are plenty). This existing and supplemental hunger makes these women heartless and ruthless when it comes to dating rich men. By any means, they will receive what they set their mind on, and it isn’t love (see why: below). Some of the things on their wish list include achieving unrealistic etalons of beauty with plastic surgery. Forget Mercedes. They want Rolls Royces, Ferraris, Chanel, Hermes, Dior at the minimum. These women built themselves of steel – they know their targets and goals very well. If they aren’t achieved, they will not hesitate to leave to achieve them with someone else. They also tend to be types with an unfortunate dating past. Now, they aren’t short on options at all.

I didn’t have to tell the man any of this. I’m pretty sure that he was experienced enough to know, just didn’t believe it. Maybe he thought it’s a numbers game or a matter of time. Or maybe….

A person of character will attract the like. A person who roots his value and self-esteem in money (a-la-“this is all I am good for”, or all I can offer to the world) will attract a partner well…who appreciates it. This is how they find common ground, how they get along, how they understand each other, the kinds of things they talk about, and activities they both enjoy.

Chemistry and intimacy, unfortunately for these types cannot be everlasting on superficial terms. It’s a matter of personal choice to get used and abused or learn to build healthy relationships rooted NOT in giving and taking, but in sharing. Those are vastly different things. 

People have become increasingly materialistic. But the question remains: is it all that bad? I think it’s not a matter of good or bad. It’s a matter of being realistic, sharpening your own pencil and choosing between short term and long term satisfaction.

Redefining the Honeymooners’ Bahamas

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“We have to make one more stop,” said the customs security officer. I followed her to a secluded room where already a handful of people were waiting. Everything seemed peaceful for the most part, with the exception of some folks solving their visa issues. I didn’t know why I was there. 45 minutes later, they finally called my name. “Come around this way, miss.”

There comes my little luggage container. The officer opens it up, glides his hands through my personal items and a pile of Bahamian rum cakes.

“What brought you here?” he asks.

“Vacation.”

“How many days were you in the Bahamas?”

“Four.”

“Alone?”

“Yes.”

“Where did you stay?”

“Private home with a host.”

“Where?”

“Fox Hill.”

He smiled. He knew that you won’t see too many tourists on the east side of the island in Fox Hill – it is considered one of if not the most dangerous neighborhoods of Nassau. Most homes look like low huts, surrounded by palm trees with dry bottom layer branches. There are plenty of abandoned buildings, lots, and cars.

“Fox Hill…”

“Yeah, I wanted to be part of the local community.”

“Why so?”

“The locals know what’s real,” I said.

“Where do you work?” he continued.

“I don’t.”

“How do you have money?”

“Savings.”

As this continued I didn’t know if he’s intruding or he has to because I am sounding more suspicious with every syllable that comes out of my mouth. Probably both.

“Most people stay in the Atlantis resort when they come here.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that,” I replied. “But I wouldn’t like it there.”

“Why not?”

“It’s boring.”

“Do you know your host personally? Are they your friend?”

“No, I found the place through Airbnb. Tourism is changing, you know. Many people no longer travel the traditional way.”

“Bahamas is typically for the couples.”

“I am very comfortable with myself” I said.

He handed me my passport and I was free to go. “Well, that’s a conversation he won’t forget,” I thought and merrily went along my way to catch the flight back to New York.

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But he was right. Traveling alone in the Bahamas is a strange thing. For example, the majority of the Cable Beach territory lies on the Sandals resort. So nice, so safe, so comfortable with a thought-out and ready itinerary. There were paddle boards waiting to be used, and people lined up to the next boat for a sail. As I admired the horizon-deep turquoise waters, I silently cringed at everything else, reminding myself that instead of judging the other tourists, I should remember that my traveling tastes are just different. Even though I still couldn’t understand why there were more people at the hotel pool than the ocean. But that’s besides the point.

The Bahamas are not a cheap place to visit, even though I saved plenty by renting a small cottage in Fox Hill. For half of the year, the islands make little money as they are in wet season, and based on my own observation, most of the economy is made up of tourism (so, hence everything is double the normal price). There isn’t too much to be exported from the Bahamas. Palm trees and coconuts remain accessories, and the fishing – local food supply. According to my host, four million tourists visit Nassau during dry season. The average room to rent in a home will run up to about $230 per night, while an average stay in Atlantis resort – ~$600.

 

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Environmentally, Nassau isn’t too different from any capital city. But pollution here feels deeper than in New York. Before arriving I researched transportation, and while some travel sites suggested to rent a bike, I did not see a single person on a bicycle in Nassau – the roads are small and traffic is lively. Outside of the little downtown shopping stretch, walking is pretty much impossible – the sidewalks cut off in certain parts of the road and overall the island is just too big to conquer by foot.

Even though I love and prefer walking, Nassau isn’t Europe. A decent way to get around is by buses – they run quite often, and cost a whopping $1.25. The downside is that they stop running after 5:30pm, which for the most part isn’t a huge deal – most places close at 5:00pm and outside of touristy bars there wouldn’t be a whole lot to do and see once the sun sets. Taxis are expensive. A third of my budget was spent on taxis, including a ride from the airport.

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Food places around the Arawak Cay (translated “Fish Fry”) by the Junkanoo Beach area are open late. This is a must-try for travelers. For the first time in my life, I had a full grilled lobster at the coolest little food truck run by a guy named Mark (the sweetest Bahamian, who took care of me like his daughter and hooked me up with a complimentary drink out of a young coconut). “If you ever need anything, call me,” he said. “Even if you bump a toe.”

For healthy eaters, opt for grilled fish. Most of the food on the island is unhealthy otherwise and even the grilled options come greasy. For money savers, check out “Imperial” with the cheapest pricing in town. A belly filling meal will cost about $9 – unbelievably affordable for Nassau. Bahamians typically pay in a combination of Bahamian and US dollars – a first time for me seeing something this bizarre. But thankfully, no currency exchanges and interest fees. Phew.

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I guess the rest of the world imagines islanders to be chill and happy. Most locals in my experience were friendly. With a caveat: a tough economical atmosphere is felt through interactions. Nevertheless, the locals will all likely to say hello and ask how you are doing. Ladies traveling alone (there probably isn’t too many crazy ones like me), get ready to get hit on as soon as airport security. Don’t be surprised to find phone numbers in your passport after you pass scans. And don’t be a snob, just smile and say hello back, carry on with your life and you will be just fine.

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To make sense of the people on a deeper level, I gauged the population by observing the bus drivers. Normally, there will be ones blasting soul Christmas carols (it’s a surreal feeling in 82 degrees), some – reggae, some hip hop, some – radio, and on rare occasion you will ride with ones listening to nothing (they are either serious, or have a broken radio). Make sure you say you’re blessed, not lucky. The islanders will often quote the holy literature in conversations.

If you speak English, they will not be shy to talk. Compared to other islands, the Bahamian accent is very mild although the locals will try to convert to the American one for your comfort. Most Bahamians learn about people through conversations. They are quite the curious nation. A couple times people asked me to take a selfie with them. And why the heck would I say no?

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If you stay with a friendly host, as I did, they will show you key places. My host on the very first day took me to the original Rum Cake Factory (Bahamian cake marinated in Ole Nassau rum) – a must try. We also visited the farmer’s market where we bought home grown watermelons and avocados. Read – avocado or mango?? That’s how sweet, delicious and huge they are.

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On my third day, I escaped on a full day trip to Eleuthera, Harbor Island on Bahamian ferry. If you’ve ever heard of Pink Sands Beach (yes, the endless, majestic pink sand) – this is where you can find it. The beach is almost empty, and you can experience the real luxury of time and space under lovely sunshine accompanied by the soothing sounds of the Atlantic.

Many tourists do not venture out to Eleuthera because it takes about 3 hours to travel from Nassau, and they likely aren’t sure whether it’s worth it. I will tell you that it is – Eleuthera is simply a gem and a getaway from the masses. You will have a chance to drive a golf cart (this was my first time) if you purchase the ferry ride with a “Day Away” package for $225. This also includes lunch.

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The golf cart riding was hilarious. I was so excited because with an expired license I haven’t driven a car in a few years. Here I was, cruising in my pimped out ride, going the maximum 20 miles per hour on the left side of the road. So much fun. No accidents caused. I ventured out to see the haunted house, and drove to the marina by the docking station to enjoy a grilled, fresh from the ocean Mahi Tuna. It was from a different galaxy.

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That day, when I arrived back home, my host and I ate dinner at the local Snapper shop under a straw hut with a DJ playing reggae. I ordered their signature conch wrap. Yes, the kind of shell fish that makes exquisite pearls for the classy ladies😉

Drink Sky Juice in a Bahama Mama – a mixture of coconut juice, condensed milk and choice of rum or vodka. And of course, have a cold Kalik – the beer of the islands in your hand at all times, especially when running an errand. This way, you will be like a true Bahamian.

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How Struggling with Food Opened my World to Emotional Intelligence

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I have been working on my relationship with food for many, many years. It all started when I was a teenager at the time when dealing with stress meant resorting to sweet junk food. I had no trouble eating a pint of ice cream in one sitting. And that was just one meal. When I was 16, I baked Betty Crocker cakes every other day. For breakfast, I normally ate muffins and refrigerated coffees from Starbucks; for lunch – three chocolate chip cookies with chocolate milk; and a Subway sandwich (which isn’t real food, by the way) for dinner. I honestly don’t know how I didn’t catch diabetes.

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It took a long time for me to realize that I had a problem. Over time, I became extremely interested in nutrition. I guess I was trying to solve my own issues with it. But even as I became externally healthier, it didn’t mean that I always achieved it by healthy means.

Recently, when I made myself more available for myself and wasn’t bombarded with day to day job duties, I began practicing awareness of my daily routine, productivity, emotions, and how I approached difficult situations, bad days and heavy loads. I observed inputs and outputs. What I’ve come to learn is that the slightest stress made me want to eat, indulge when I wasn’t even hungry on carbs, sugar and fat. There’s no surprise in this. Research has shown us a long time ago that these specific ingredients provide a sense of comfort and activate the release of serotonin, for example – a chemical that makes us happy. (I’ve personally never heard of an unhappy person chowing down their stress with a salad :)  )

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Stress isn’t standalone. It is usually triggered by events and our emotions to them. So therefore, the way in which we express and deal with our emotions causes stress. And just like anything in our world, it is energy that naturally manifests itself through different channels. In this sense many people like me turn to food for answers.

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Before I became a teenager I was already responsible for raising a child, maintaining the house and being a straight A student without speaking English. My personal needs took a backseat. There was no space for them. I don’t even think I was aware of what I needed. But I did know that I have a small brother whose needs were more important than mine. The way I built my habits during a very sensitive period of my life became a way they flowed into my adulthood. And so, I ate my emotions.

I am not playing a victim of the past. The past is over. But it gave me experiences – these tools to live and make sense of the world, people, relationships. I continue to learn how to work these tools to achieve my future goals; they also remind me of how far I have come. I am so proud of myself.

Painfully, I have come to learn that food is an expression of love and a means to communicate with the self and other people. But food doesn’t solve any problems nor does it cause happiness. Happiness is the ability to enjoy life. 

So learning this made me take a step back and ask myself – what makes me happy and how do I achieve it? For me, it is physical and mental health, positive relationships and sense of purpose.

Now, instead of seeing gym as a way to burn off calories, I associate it with how great it makes me feel. I began identifying parts of my life that dissatisfy me. One by one they fell like dominoes. I re-evaluated my idealistic views of the world and stopped looking for silver linings, seeking approval from others, playing nice or following scripts. If I see no use for someone to be part of my life, I am no longer waiting for them to become so. I’ve learned that my needs are no less important than someone else’s. I began expressing my thoughts, emotions, observations through writing.

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When I wake up in the morning, next to a favorite person, look into the mirror and like what I see, when I put on my favorite clothes and go to my favorite work I know that I’m doing something right.

What I Want to Say to My Divorced Parents

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(c) mkshots.com

I grew up during reconstruction of a post-Soviet Union era. At that time, Ukraine became economically crippled; unemployment skyrocketed and savers lost all the money they accumulated at birth of a new currency. The shockwaves and stress spread through social channels and people found no other choice but work abroad. And so happened the collapse of a family unit.

Most of my peers like me became children of divorce. They grew up with grandparents while their parents were spread over thousands of miles apart. Sometimes, parents settled on illegal terms in foreign countries and were unable to visit home. It was a tough time.

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As a kid, I didn’t quite understand what was going on at home and not much was explained to me other than the fact that we needed money to live and mom and dad were away working. So, I found happiness through activities and field trips with school friends. We worked on creative projects. We bonded on the streets until dark. Being children of divorce was so common, that no one talked about it. Those emotions were safely stashed deep into our memory boxes.

But a broken family bond leaves an impact, which for better or for worse gives us another perspective at life and the future. This impact helps shape our outlooks on our own relationships.

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At first, I was disoriented, and then I felt a sense of acceptance. When I was a teenager, I was angry. And only when I began living alone and struggling financially, I understood my parents. Of course I couldn’t fully relate because I have no children. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to raise a family under so much pressure. What would I do in their shoes?

Adulthood and responsible independence made me realize how difficult life can be, and mostly – how incredibly complicated relationships are. They take patience, care, and so much time to nurture. Relationships are delicate flowers, sensitive to weather and the smallest of circumstances. Relationships can be careers in their own light – and to master them takes a lifetime and stealth. 

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My parents will continue to be my role models. Not for jobs or lifestyles. Role models for happiness.

I wish my parents to be happy on their own terms. I don’t care if it’s with someone else or in a different country. I hope to be able to visit them for holidays, and see sincere smiles on their wrinkled faces. We are and will remain bonded by blood, which means that the state of our being is shared. Whether we are aware of it or not.

Morning Coffee: Everyone’s Happy Pill

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I am not a US Marine. I don’t have any children. I am not Puerto Rican. I don’t live in central America. I don’t train employees. But Rube, the uplifter, the booster, the mover, the shaker, the guy who brought the Morning Coffee Project to life, and I – we vibe.

In reality, I haven’t seen him in person in maybe 10 or so years. We went to high school that was but culturally diverse, where being Hispanic and Ukrainian was rare. We didn’t hang out. We weren’t friends. We didn’t have the same crew. But we rap battled during lunch hour a few times, as much as I can remember.

Life went on.

Then I launched Tetyana Live. Rube launched the Morning Coffee Project. I got one of Morning Coffee shirts that spoke to me. He liked my blog article that spoke to him.

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(c) the Morning Coffee Project

And over virtual home-made coffee, office coffee, and Whole Foods coffee cups, we interacted and shared ideas. But most of the time, we joked around. When I had a tough day, there went a Rube mirror selfie snapchat with a watermelon instead of his face, and a caption that read “*Beyonce voice* watermelon, watermellllllon”.

Here is a mind-screw, though. There’s t-shirts and coffee mugs on Morning Coffee. But Morning Coffee is not about t-shirts and mugs (hence, “the Project”). It’s about the people and their stories. It’s about YOU (yes, every ONE of you), and what you like to say, thoughts in that beautiful brain of yours, your aspirations, your hopes, your dreams. Morning Coffee tells the world about it. So, what’s your story?

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Rube happily sits back in his chair, sky as his background, sky as his limit, and humbly says: “Many of you guys referred to Morning Coffee as a movement…”

That’s potent. Explain it…

“I hate scrolling through my Facebook feed and seeing young kids fight each other. There’s so much negativity being pumped out into the universe, and…we think we don’t have a choice, but to accept it. I want to connect people through positivity. The older we get, the smaller our circles become… If I can make a place, where people can escape the negativity, cool.”

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I totally get it.

I’ve been around negative people. People who hated the fact that I chose to live the life I want, the fact that I’m inspired, passionate, happy. I’ve been around bosses who unintentionally and intentionally brought me down. Sure, these moments made me stronger, helped me persevere, taught me some lessons. But they weren’t sustainable. They weren’t healthy.

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(c) the Morning Coffee Project

Morning Coffee extracted the soul of our generation and constructed a community of people who support one another, who want to see each other succeed and have fun while they’re at it. When I thought no one knows or cares, I had a whole army behind me who already did. I found a medium that let me express myself. And so, thanks to its foundation in positivity, it makes me look back at yesterday, clean my slate, and take my talents to the next level.

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Morning coffee, the fresh light brew is dissipating into the dawn. I quit drinking coffee, but I enjoy the everlasting scent and rock with the Morning Coffee Project.

I am not a US Marine. I don’t have any children. I am not Puerto Rican. I don’t live in central America. I don’t train employees. I don’t know how he does it all. But Rube, Rube 24/7 (as he calls himself), the uplifter, the booster, the mover, the shaker, the guy who brought the Morning Coffee Project to life, and I – we vibe!

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