Day 22. Know thyself.

How it can take a lifetime to rediscover who we really are.

For the past couple of years, a week before my birthday, I sit down with myself in a very introspective way and have a conversation; to figure out “where I’m at” and where I’d like to go. This is more commonly passed around as taking stock of the year that’s passed (in these lovely self help kind of circles). I prefer to see it in a different light. If you were to have a more literal approach, it’s like emptying out your backpack, doing some spring cleaning, and seeing what weighs you down and what you still need to take with you in the next year, and if you need the backpack at all.

I’ve transformed birthdays from being this morose realization of aesthetic and body aging, to more of a celebration; I’m glad I’m alive and healthy to have a go at whatever dreams, projects, ideas, and insane firsts I’ve not tackled yet. I’ve written a lot about aging and “getting” older recently because frankly it’s something that concerns me; and not in the way it concerns most people.

I find that each year we get to create, evolve, try something new, rediscover who we are, (if we really knew in the first place), and take risks to expand and remap our horizons.

I was never a fan of: “well that’s it I’ve done it all, time to hang the towel.”

In the days approaching my birthday I sit down and do a litmus test of my path so far and where I’m headed; while asking the hard questions of myself that many others would not dare ask. This process brings out some guideposts for: How to get to know yourself better.

Upon learning ourselves better, we then establish what we’re capable of. All too often we adopt labels, philosophies, societal constructs, norms and limitations (self imposed or otherwise), causing more confusion and far less clarity about who and what we want and who we really are. Without making a huge fuss, I write down what I want to work on and what I feel has run it’s course; be it with work, passions, relationships, projects, ideas, philosophies, and personal traditions. In the past I’ve taken up reading books like

The Bhagavad Gita

The Four Agreements

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Ancient Greek mythology and philosophy

and the list goes on and on, but at the end of the day these are just mere suggestions. We have to look within for our own wisdom and truths and not be pushed or pulled in directions that we don’t fully comprehend. Knowing something and really understanding it, has been my focus for the past few years, because a lot of the philosophies or ideals that I’ve adopted over the years either don’t serve me anymore or have become a roadblock to further self discovery.

I’ve written a lot about aging and “getting” older recently because frankly it’s something that concerns me; and not in the way it concerns most people.

Self knowledge and self study, requires patience, practice, risk and above all willpower. We have to want to know ourselves better to take the first step. Sort of like admitting you’re an addict is the first step to combating addiction. Getting stuck is part of the human condition, but what we possess is the innate ability to question, rephrase, recapture and reassess, in the ever winding journey to knowing ourselves fully and not just better.

This technique of course isn’t just for once a year. Taking the time to take stock, find a quiet space and reconnect with who we are (rather than who we want to be); will lead us much faster to letting go of who we are NOT.

Day 3 & 4 Aging Challenge Challenged Part 2.

How to deal with an aging body- not just an aging face.

Age ain’t a number at all. The changes we undergo on the surface like the wrinkles, the grey hair, the change of our outer “look”; is only part of the complex and quite revealing aging story. I’m not talking about getting old, because we all grow older; that’s inevitably what occurs to our cells after our bodies reach their apex; but building awareness, and becoming wiser, not only mentally but also in terms of how our body works or doesn’t; alludes us.

The folly of youth affords us the illusion that the body is going to last and carry us forever; on the other hand the wisdom of age brings with it the understanding that the body will carry us as far as it’s able, and as far as WE carry it.

As we age, we have to contend with a whole new set of rules; mentally, emotionally and physically. As our body undergoes the slow and then rapid process of aging, we can’t afford to be aloof and callous; so we have to find ways to understand and communicate with our bodies in ways we may not have imagined. As a young athlete and practitioner of yoga; I did pretty much everything my body allowed me to do, and whatever it didn’t do naturally, heavy handed adjustments took place. I loved them. I loved being pulled placed, and adjusted. Over the years I found that deep adjustments needed superior knowledge and listening abilities from the teacher as well as the student. Having been in, and as I continue to explore both of those roles; I’ve started to approach my personal practice and teaching in much more well rounded approach.

knowing what our limitations are is key to aging well versus growing old.

Our Bodies tell us things all the time. They change temperature when fighting the common cold, pain and how we react to it plays a vital role to understanding our nervous system, and hormones play a very important role in how we feel and react to the inside and outside world. What happens when the muscles start to fail us, or when old injuries we had long forgotten come back to haunt us? Our bodies take many beatings over the years; it’s no surprise that the well oiled machine we may have relied on in our youth, is taking its sweet old time in middle, and in old age. Yet with all the “limitations” our bodies face as we get older, and the time we need to recover and heal may be far longer; with that comes a deeper knowledge of how to cope, manage pain, create space for our bones and muscles to become stronger and live a life based on quality not quantity.

Folly gives way to wisdom and communication is key.

These are some of my go to “body listening” techniques that have helped over the past few years.

  1. Meditation- I can’t say enough good things about it. Quieting the mind and connecting with our breath is probably the most important tool for aging, stress, anxiety and a host of ailments that come with an aging body.
  2. Exercise- Endorphins rule. Weight training, yoga, stretching, swimming and any body activity that doesn’t cause further damage. As much as I love more physically demanding exercise regimes (and I’ve participated in a lot of them) some of them do more harm than good, and knowing when to stop is probably the hardest lesson to learn when you’re physically active.
  3. Change of diet. This is probably one of the most important aspects to understanding aging and the body. Anyone who wants to slow down, and or manage aging and pain has to take nutrition very seriously. Diet and super food fads aside (no more KALE!) a proper nutrition consultation is key to managing and caring for our aging bodies. Diner consisting of four dry martinis and a pizza isn’t really a healthy meal.
  4. Body work, acupuncture, pilates, yoga ( again).

Change is never easy and witnessing our bodies as they age can be a very difficult reality to compute. I for one plan to keep this engine running for many years to come; but knowing what our limitations are is key to aging well versus growing old.

Στην υγεία μας.



What have you noticed about your body over the years and what have you done to adjust, manage and live with its many changes over the years?

My aging challenge. Challenged.

I am lucky to be alive. Many people we know will not get the chance to show their “do I still look hot 10 years later” look; yet this online challenge got me thinking of who I am now, rather than what I look like 10 years on. The narrative we’ve been fed about time passing, lives changing and our aging process is deeply flawed. In most cases I see women and men just displaying an exterior change.

But what about the changes that can’t be seen? I’ve often looked back at my younger self, while connecting the dots of my present image and persona, so before I begin the story of these two moments in time, I have to emphasize how little these two pictures mean in the grand scheme of things. My “youth” may be fading, but the experiences I’ve gained over the past 10 years are following a treacherous, deeply challenging, rewarding and thought provoking journey. This is true of anyone looking back at their 10 year’s younger self.

The two women pictured above are not the same person.

Yes of course they are, but I don’t feel or look or carry myself in the same way as the woman I was back in Nov. 2009. These past 9 & 3/4 years have deeply affected, defined and altered my life’s path more than once and have shaped the person I am daring to become today.

November 2009 — Maroussi, Attika Greece

Freshly separated from a nearly 5 year tumultuous and eye opening relationship with a man 13 years her senior. He was an architect, multilingual, smart, witty accomplished, well traveled, talented and a complete asshole to her. Her father loved him. She did not. She was newly single, after an even more difficult breakup, packed up her apartment and moved to her grandmother’s home; now her home. It was a place of wonder and memories.

She molded her childhood memories of it and would live, love, teach, cook, have gatherings with amazing loving friends, dance, practice yoga and sing there for four amazing years. In those four years she would date drug addicts, ex drug addicts, married or otherwise “occupied” men, liars and cheaters and deeply loving people. She would build a small yoga practice and taught throughout the next decade in Europe and the United States. She would cook meals for and with her friends, and host beautiful gatherings. She would travel. She would also face repeated emotional and verbal abuse from her partners, she would fall into a deep depression that was only curtailed by her yoga practice and the faith of her friends. She would have to constantly fight with her family about property and she would have to finally move her whole life back to the US– again, after the financial crisis ripped her country in a thousand pieces. She would have to start over, utterly alone in a city that was only a cut out memory of her long distant past.

July 2018— DUMBO Brooklyn, NYC

Just shy of 10 years later, I’m standing weathered by shit storms and laughter and joy, desperation and happiness. I came out on the other side quite changed, and despite the many scars all for the better. The picture was taken just at the moment when all the struggles, and mistakes, and lessons were finally being revealed. I had a scar from a deep gash on my forehead to remind me that no matter how bad things got, I could still stand taller because I kept going despite the wrong turns and choices. I loved, I was betrayed, I was physically and emotionally challenged, and that year my life truly began to take shape. The puppet strings were cut off and I stopped caring what people thought of me.

My dear parents, my cousin and my trusted friends are and have always been my angels. I cherish them every day for keeping me sane; they didn’t always understand my journey and quite often probably were scared for my well being, but the last 10 years have been a tsunami of ups and downs. A giant shift into becoming the person I always wanted to become, but didn’t have the courage to approach.

I have more lines on my face and tons more gray hair than I will ever show in public (I’m vain among other things). I have more courage to show my body and my art, I don’t shy away from tearing up misconceptions and false facades. Life sent me some amazing teachers. And thank goodness I’ve finally learned my biggest lesson…

I’m grateful to the past 10 years and I keep a jar of anti wrinkle cream on my side of the medicine cabinet, and have toning masks and tweezers with me at all times. White chin hairs are ridiculous and annoying. My muscles hurt more after exercise or yoga practice, but my body is healthier and stronger than ever before. I would kick my old self in the ass in weight & endurance training and I’m a far more patient and capable yoga teacher and wellness practitioner than I was back then.

Aging is a gift. I will not squander time thinking it’s a curse.

I’m still alive, and grateful every day for the opportunity to keep evolving.


Random Thoughts Vol. 2- Plastic Surgery

I often… (every day) come across random thoughts and discussions as possible topics for sharing on this platform. They range from the mundane and truly trivial, to the BIG life questions… So instead of keeping them to myself, I am creating a series and sharing them with a wider audience.

This morning,  I was battling with yet another day of crappy MTA subway service, and while running late for work, I caught my reflection in the subway doors, and pondered if I would ever try Botox. Yes that bacterial toxin that thousands of women (and men?) across the globe use as regularly as a deluxe pedicure to “erase” signs of aging. A few hours later, I was asked this very question by a yoga friend in Greece.

Have you tried or would ever try Botox or other non invasive plastic surgery?

No I haven’t. (yet)

Despite my very strong feelings against plastic surgery; I get why women (and some men)  give in, and pluck, tuck, pull, fill, remove and add stuff to their bodies. I find that any kind of massive change and manipulation of what’s been given to us by nature; (let me make clear that I’m only talking about elective procedures) is quite destructive, emotionally and physically in the long run. (not to mention expensive), however I can’t judge a woman who wants to “remove” a few visible signs of aging that might be a damper to her confidence. 

I would however give it a try.

I find the possibility of trying something like this, brings up a mixture of skepticism and distrust in this massive industry fully dedicated to making us (women) feel old. Yet… I find that I am curious. Mind you I’m not fanatical or obsessed with the idea of trying Botox or any plastic surgery. The closest I’ve come to anything resembling a aesthetic procedure is a glycolic peel. If pressed to make a choice between minor plastic surgery procedures and something more enriching for my health and well being, I would pick the latter. I’ve practiced yoga for 20 years, have made peace with most of my flaws (and there are many) and I truly  don’t mind my “fine lines”. This however has not stopped me from looking in the mirror from time to time and wondering if my face is “aging” me. 

Is it better to never start, and let the body age gracefully?

Aging gracefully at our day is ironically considered a choice. The scrutiny and the critical eye most women endure to their ever changing looks does not escape me; I’m not “above it all”. I still refuse to let my grey hair show or my body go, but I am slightly shocked, and not at all surprised that many (too many) women in Greece, start “minor” procedures like Botox from their early 30’s and an increasing number in their late 20’s. Greece is not a wealthy country like the U.S, yet women of ALL financial means put whatever money they can afford to a myriad of beauty treatments. After the mid 90’s “beauty centers” kept popping up like mushrooms in Athens and other major cities,  and now plastic surgery in all its forms is all too common.  

Do I know women who have had elective plastic surgery?

Yes I do. Each one chose for their own reasons, and in all honesty the results were spectacular. What was more apparent than the physical results, was a noticeable improvement in self confidence. In the grand scheme of things, these types of procedures are not as important as our overall health, but if a small change however trivial; makes such a big difference, more power to you ladies (and gents) for doing something to boost your looks, and confidence. My only concern again has to do with the overall psychological and emotional impact of elective plastic surgery. Like any kind of body modification, it can be addictive, (I have 4 tattoos on my body and plan to get more)  so entering this world If I ever do, I want to do it for the right reasons. 

Till then… a little extra night cream.

If you want to read more of my previous posts check below :

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