Angels and Sinners

No one is all good or all bad.

In recent years I’ve come to understand that people who can be beacons of kindness, can also harbor shadows of darkness and unkindness. We are all made of the cloth of “good” and “evil”.

Owing much to the stagnancy in theoretical and religious notions of someone being bad or good; we tend to forget that we are capable of one AND the other. Picking a side is not clear every time. Consciously choosing kindness, nonviolence and goodness is a work in progress and those who once sinned can be redeemed, and those who seem all loving are revealed to be the opposite.

Countless examples of world leaders, spiritual figures and people seen as poster children for all that is good in the world; are often capable of causing immense harm at the same time. Is their good then invalid? I suppose for those living in a world of absolutes; there are no exceptions. Religion wants to make us choose, doctrine states that we can’t possibly be both, yet there is a dark spot in a sea of white and a white spot in a cloud of darkness.

Yin and Yang.

An ever present reminder that there are no absolutes, we are made of both darkness and light. In the same way a pimp can be a loving father, a revered humanitarian can be an abusing, controlling partner, and an addict can have a heart of gold; we are not monolithic, and capable of redemption and destruction.

In my life I have tried many times to see the good in people who rarely see it in themselves and unearth the darkness in seemingly nice people. We all try to construct an image of ourselves and others that is cut and dry, but within the crevices of our existence, lie the myriad of ways in which we are extremely complicated and multifaceted. Oftentimes we see only what we want to see.

Good and Bad are not extremes. They are not just clear cut choices. Because we are not just one or the other. We are both.

Day 20. Defining Oneself.

How to be “common” and still stand out.

One thing I’ve realized as I get older and more secure in who I am is; Finding my identity is a journey that cannot be rushed. I’ve changed, transformed and evolved over the years, and I’m sure this vessel that’s carrying this woman I was, and will become has more transformations in store. We are not monolithic, and should not be made to believe that we have to adhere to labels, stories and caricatures of who we are. Uniqueness is not a weakness.

I never saw myself as particularly pretty growing up. Ever wanting to blend in instead of standing out (a losing battle); it took me a very long time to embrace this quirky, person that wanted to come out. Much like many of the people I’ve met who genuinely struggle fit the mold; I was very badly bullied in grade school and middle school in Greece. I felt lesser, I felt ugly I felt stupid and I recycled these images of myself as someone who had absolutely nothing to offer. This is not uncommon among young teens all over the world. We all have heard the stories. Young boys and girls who were locked in this cycle of pleasing others, seeming normal and not ever discovering their true identity until in some cases it’s too late.

I’m not a “normal woman, and in reality who is?

One of the things I tell people struggling to find their voice (as I did for years), is that whatever is considered strange or not normal about them makes them incredibly unique. Not in the “we’re all special” type of unique, but in: being able to reflect our own personal perspective on the vastness of conformity, normalizing and image making that surrounds us.

We’re all bombarded by lifestyles, examples of what’s pretty, what’s attractive, whats beautiful, what’s manly, what’s feminine and what’s acceptable behavior and ultimately what passes for “normal”. This rings even more loudly for women, who have been constantly told who, what, in what way and how often they should exist. Hiding behind titles of description was never my strong suit.

We are not monolithic, and should not be made to believe that we have to adhere to labels, stories and caricatures of who we are. Uniqueness is not a weakness.

Existing, defining, redefining and allowing ourselves to be who we are is not and will not be dictated by anyone else. Sure we all may need guideposts, ideas, and inspiration but the allowance of personal identity CANNOT be scripted by anyone else but US.

So GO ahead.

Show us who you really are.

stock photograph: Lady Gaga Inspired!

Featured Image ( on the heading) taken by: Robert Valenzuela, who is a gifted photographer, war veteran and all around crazy guy. Please give him a follow on Instagram : @the3rdrealm

If you want to make a difference; I recently came across the Born This Way Foundation and will be donating on the day of the last post of the series (March, 27Th). If you care to join me; log on, donate and make a difference to young people struggling to find their way.

What’s in a name

Gustave Mareau
Gustave Moreau- Helen of Troy



Helen… (illuminated, bright). A name also claiming its roots in the ancient Greek word for moon ( σελήνη) and in Homeric times had added meaning as “the one who is the destroyer of ships”.

It’s all in a name, passed down from generation to generation. And we carry the Helens before us; the ones who paved the way for us; the ones who’s names remain in the history books and the epic fables.

Helen fell in love with King Paris of Troy, causing the beginning of the Trojan War, as her husband Menelaus fought a bitter battle to take back his wife from the Trojans.  Helen was known for her unmatched beauty, and grace. Throughout history women carrying this name are powerful, uniting and dividing figures; heroic women, strong women, conniving and beguiling women, and above all controversial women.

It is a name that was handed down to me by my grandmother Eleni. Through her I honor her name and her legacy, and all the other Helens past. We embody history in our given names; they give us character, identity and a cultural connection. Every year I celebrate this given name I aspire to live up to; it brings with it a familial and cultural connection to my birthplace. Oftentimes names are just passed down from grandparents to children in Greek culture; as a nod to lineage and family connection, but most times these names carry a significance we don’t often understand.

Today is a celebration of light.

Cheers Eleni, Helen, Lena, Elena, Eleana.

What does your name say about you?

Day 22. Flight

Day 22 of 27.

Caught in flight.


The thing about flight is that it signifies freedom and direction. It’s full of possibility and promise. Traveling, seeing the world, being connected, being reunited, is a gift that gives us many returns. Whether we are flying away from something or towards something, is a fine line.

Escape or Destination?

Exploration towards, or walking away from another. The need for travel is about the realm of possibility and change. It’s a way to escape and embrace. A way to connect to a place and disconnect from a place. A dear friend asked me when I was leaving Greece five years ago, whether I was escaping something or going towards something.

At that time in my mind I was very clear; I’m going towards my future, a better life, a dream explored. Now after five years; I am not as sure as I was then. This questioning we all have of why we choose to travel and leave the familiar behind is a constant in my thoughts. But for now I’m caught in flight, and enjoying the ride.

What do you love about travel?  And where does your heart lead you?

In-between, cultures


Cultural Experiment-

I grew up Greek with an American mother and Greek father in Athens, Greece, in the late 70’s early 80’s.

This is how I would start my autobiography as the tale of a cultural experiment. My whole life has been a journey of deeply relating to and feeling left out of  being a Greek, and ultimately being shaped by my somewhat American (whatever that is) upbringing.  Essentially I’ve always been an in-between person. I never fit in, and always held an outsider’s perspective. At first what felt like a detriment later proved to be an advantage.

In grade school I was bullied because of being a “little American” in Greece. In high school I was considered strange for being a Greek in U.S high school in the 90’s. And after Graduate School, upon returning to Greece after 11 years of being away, I decided that I would start defining who I am without all the labels, and cultural fixations set by others. It took till my early 30’s to feel absolutely comfortable with my dual existence.

I’m sure my parents had absolutely no idea how I would turn out, but one thing I must applaud them for is their steadfast insistence to language and cultural exploration. My mother only spoke to me in English even though after years of struggle and study she speaks Greek very well, and my father although fluent in English, only spoke and wrote to me in Greek. That being said, I spent all my childhood summers in the United States instead of some island or Greek village, as so many other Greek kids my age always did. That would set me apart from those who had never left their home for another country in Europe let alone the United States. I had my first passport at 3 months old and have now a collection of both Greek and American passports that fill a whole drawer.

It took till my early 30’s to feel absolutely comfortable with my dual existence.

After many awkward years, I came to realize that instead of this misplaced half breed who didn’t fit in anywhere, I was at a cultural and linguistic advantage.  I was given this gift of cultural fluidity and dual citizenship few people enjoy. I feel at home and comfortable with both cultures; I understand the quirks and idiosyncrasies of feeling and acting like a Greek when I’m in Greece, and as an American when I’m in the United States. What I’ve recently discovered is that I can quite easily blend and transform myself to any culture and place as long as I observe and try to understand it. I’ve become a cultural chameleon of sorts.


I started this journey of blending and relating to others so I can fit in, while in College;  in upstate New York. As the only Greek, American who had truly grown up in both cultures I was somewhat of an anomaly, so I related to the outcasts and misfits in my school more frequently than the “it” girls and cool people who would play sports, hang out with the gorgeous students and enjoy College “fame”. I met the kids from ABC (A Better Chance) house in high school in Amherst, most of them from New York City neighborhoods who were insanely smart and were given an opportunity to study at a very “clean cut”, and academically challenging high school.

I was given this gift of cultural fluidity and dual citizenship few people enjoy.

I instantly related to them; they were not born or raised in Massachusetts and had a other worldliness that I was drawn to. I too was this strange Greek girl to them; not your typical American kid, and I found myself being embraced by my new family.

After leaving the United States, coming back to Greece was yet another transition and adjustment. I was seen as a foreigner, an outsider, until I proved myself again to be able to blend, adjust, absorb and accept local cultural, societal and colloquial demands.

In between two cultures

After 13 years in Greece, I’m back where I started;  always with this idea that I’m balancing between two cultures and two ways of life. This time I absolutely love being a part of both. There are times I don’t fully embrace or condone American culture, especially now in the current political climate, and similarly I don’t agree with how things are in Greece, but instead of being angry at the shortcomings and Greekisms of one place, and the bravado and “bigger better faster” attitude of America, I try to pick and choose what best defines me from both places, and love both countries equally with their shortcomings and flaws.

DNA and cultural Identity 

With all the questions and curiosity behind my multi-cultural and multi-ethnic background, I recently took a DNA ancestry test. I had been wanting to do this for a long time, so I was very excited to share the results here. I was pleasantly surprised as well as reaffirmed in what I already knew about my heritage. I am loving each and every part of who I am and try to embrace all the tiles that make the mosaic of my life now and for years to come.

If your curious about my results check the link below!

Eleana’s Ancestry Test 

In all honesty I’ve become a nomad and find a home wherever I go, but the place I deeply love with utter abandon and will always have in my heart as my true home is Athens, Greece.  Stay tuned for the next blog post dedicated to my beloved city.

For more information on Ancestry Tests and if you are curious to do one of your own

check the link below and use my referral for a small discount!

Take a leap into your Ancestry Test:

23 and Me