Day 27. – Paris is Burning

Post 27 of 27.

View from the Pompidu Museum- Marais

I am posting with a small delay as I was in transit between Paris and London and I wanted to take the time to write about this last day of my 27 day challenge, and what it meant to take this much needed journey.

London Bridge 
Street Art in the London Bridge neighborhood of London

This year I celebrate my 40th birthday. It’s a milestone of sorts, as I’m sure it is for all who cross that threshold. I never knew what to expect of this day, whether I would have a family by now, whether I would be living in a big house or a small cottage in a village somewhere, or what I would be doing for a living. I remember when I was 18 or 19 calculating the year I would turn 40, and it was way beyond my comprehension at the time; but now here we are. For better or worse I’ve arrived… and new challenges and paths are beckoning to be explored.

Street Art in the Les Halles neighborhood of Paris

I was speaking to my mother, who reminded me of a memory she had of me when she turned 40. We were in northern Athens, at our then home, in what you would call an “affluent” neighborhood now; but back then, it was in an area no one wanted to live at. I was riding my pink and white bicycle with its training wheels; it was 1982 or ’83 and my mum had just turned 40 that December. I clearly can picture her memory; my mother was slender, as always, with a beautiful smile and a determined gaze, short curly light brown hair and big square glasses. My father good looking and in his late 30’s, a hit of seventies sideburns still donned his face and he wore aviator glasses. A year later we would take our first trip to Paris as a family.

The magic of Paris through my 6 year old eyes, will never match any other trip I’ve taken since. I was in awe. We would visit many times after that, but that first trip was like new world had been revealed. I had never seen such beauty in my life. Glimpses of the Louvre museum before the pyramids were built, the clock of the Muse d’Orsay from up close and the smell of the Parisian air, as we walked through Montmartre and the “dangerous” artistic neighborhoods of the 18th Arrondisment.

I remember still the taste of rich chocolate and french food at a small restaurant in Place Dauphine, now probably long gone. I visit that same little park every time I go to Paris. I sit on a bench; eat a pain au chocolat, and dream of my six year old self walking up the stairs of this larger than life Brasserie with sumptuous deserts lining each step.

Today I celebrate my 40th year, in one of the most poetic, beautiful places in the world, with some of my most treasured memories, and most treasured friends. Cheers, santé, Γεια μας. Onward to this next chapter.

Where, do you remember your most fond childhood memory, and where would you travel to next?


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?

Day 21.5 — Perseverance

Day 21 of 27.

When you’re determined to get somewhere even a snow storm won’t get in your way. Today, yet another snow storm covers New York in white. The streets of Soho where I took this picture were eerily quiet, as I have seldom seen them. Shops were closed for the day and a few brave souls were out and about ( mostly tourists!) Yet this image of a man on his bicycle, undeterred by the snow or the slippery streets; steady and determined on his path; reminded me of how much we will all go through to get what we want, to get to where we want to go, and to achieve our highest potential.

Sacrifice is inevitable and often necessary and even though we will lose friends, comfort, and sometimes our sanity; if we are sure of our goals then it’s all worth it.

I sat with a friend who’s a gifted photographer for a quick impromptu coffee. We weren’t supposed to meet and I had not seen him in months. I said this to him, because like him I lose my steam and my determination when faced with self doubt. I reminded him as I do myself over and over again ( yes I talk to myself all the time ); keep focused on the destination, and keep steady on the journey despite the mishaps and the trials along the way.

Our goals are only as far as we are willing to go to fulfill them. On this first day of spring and the beginning of Aries season… keep going and even if you fall, you will get there.

What is standing in the way of your goals and your path to them?

Day 20 – Time Alone

Day 20 of 27.


The blank page…. Every night for the past 20 days I’ve come home and written about a small snapshot of my life;  I share observations, ideas and thoughts, and about the matters that mean the most.  Tonight marks the first day of spring; another snow storm looming, my radiators popping and hissing resisting another cold, hard night.

I have had the house to my self these past few days, my quiet moments are mixed with music, the soundtrack of the city, and the sound of my creaky floors. These moments of solitude  I cherish deeply, yet these are the same ones, where I feel most alone.

There are those days when we are alone far away from everyone who we share our space and time with, that we take a moment to reflect on our path in life. Tonight, I will share only one thought with you before I prepare my next observation for the 21st day.

Sometimes time alone is the best time to find yourself. Time away from those who despite their best intentions may steer you away from your path because of their own insecurities, concerns and fears. Sometimes the chatter outside is the most distracting to finding your true self. In those times, step away, take a breath and ask yourself what matters the most.

For me tonight being alone with my thoughts has helped me realize how much I cherish this exchange with you, some of you I know some of you I may never meet, but writing this blog for the past 5 years and counting has been the most fulfilling experience of my time here in New York.

Many of my closest friends read my blog and don’t understand or don’t care about what I do here, but for me it’s a gateway to exploring stories, writing down memories and finding a voice. For some of you this voice has been a comfort and nothing gives me more joy than to know that what trials, thoughts, concerns, joys and pain I share finds another person and let’s them know that they are NOT alone at all.

Alone time is seldom lonely, because it connects us to who we really are, instead of a reflection of ourselves from others. I used to deeply fear time alone when I was younger, and now it is a most valuable commodity


How do you spend your moments of solitude?

Spend some time alone this weekend and see where it takes you.


March 20th, 2018– New York City to the world…

Good night

Day 19. Art as agent of change

Day 19 of 27.

James Baldwin’s quote struck a deep cord in my heart this morning. For as long as I can remember, art and artists have played an integral role in my life. From the day I was born, I was surrounded by writers, painters, poets, musicians, actors, photographers and architects. I would even go as far as to boldly state:  Art is the noblest of causes, and not for the faint of heart. I don’t consider myself an artist by any stretch of the imagination, because I have not served the cause for a long time, yet I still feel most at ease in the presence of artists. There is no more powerful weapon than the reflection of Art back to society. I write Art with a capital A because Art and Artists are deserving of the highest respect and also the most staunch criticisms.  Artists are agents of change, and as James Baldwin so aptly put it; here to disturb the peace.

Peace in most cases is seen as a positive state of mind, being at peace, feeling peaceful, is akin to what many teachings of yoga aspire to instill. Achieving Moksha (liberation-emancipation) from suffering and ignorance is one of the basic principles of yoga study; self realization and self knowledge being the ultimate goal.  I for one have a long way towards liberation, so I continue to search and refine my practice.

Art and Artists in the very same light, are here to liberate, disturb, question, disrupt and uncover and heal a society; It’s not just meant to be pretty to look at. Artists like Baldwin are answering a calling; a Dharma, to become the disruption of our ignorance, our complacency; our plastic bliss. This is a service true artists don’t take lightly. It takes a brave soul, a self realized person to become and live the life of an artist, especially one that reflects upon what may be wrong or untrue about society.

Of course the more controversial and argumentative artists become the more they disturb the peace and cause friction, discussion, and ultimately change. And hate them as we might; they are the ones we remember. It isn’t a matter of taste or ability. Its a matter of dedication to the art form, and its impact. I am often saddened when artists choose to play the game or play it safe and not use their amazing gift as a force of profound change. Disturbing the peace is not easy, but it is the reason most art is created. WE heal through art and artists break open the facades and the masks that society stands behind.

Support artists who you believe bring upon that change in society, in you and in the communities they work in. Because true artists ARE instruments of change, and ultimately peace. And as Steven Pressfield states in his Book War of Art:

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” 

What artist or artists inspire and move you to create change in your life?

Day 15/16. A Room with A View

Photo by Robert V (@3rd. night)

Day 15 & 16 of 27

Today the phrase “your home is where your heart is” is my topic of self conversation.

As I get closer and closer to the end of this experiment of daily postings about my observations, thoughts, emotions, opinions, and ideas; this phrase came up and it’s the only thing that seemed important for me to talk about.

I’m the daughter of an expat American woman who grew up in a small town in western Massachusetts; but spent most of her adult life (45 years to be exact) in Athens, Greece; and a Greek man born in Athens, who despite all his protests has moved between Greece and the United states twice. I’m the amalgam of one true roamer and one homebody (nope it’s not my mum). I have moved house 20 times since I was born, and have moved and lived in Athens, Western Massachusetts, London, upstate New York, New York City, London, Athens, Mykonos and again New York. (if you’re not dizzy; I am!)

What comes to mind is a phrase in Greek which loosely translates to “the land you live in now, is your homeland). “Όπου γης και πατρίς” which is originally attributed to the politician and orator Cicero. This encapsulates the whole way in which I’ve navigated my travels and my many “homes”.

Πατρίδα-in Greek means homeland (fatherland to be more precise); the place where you were born; which is very different from Χώρα-Chora or country (also referring to the village/the countryside) which can be seen as a place of residence or nationality. In recent years I’ve seen myself as a nomad with no country, no homeland and no place to call home. I come from Greece, I was born there, I lived there most of my life, but as of now it is no longer my home.  I no longer have a family home that I grew up in, I don’t have a bedroom with all my childhood memories. I carry that childhood, and those memories with me wherever I go. I’m somewhat of an exile, having chosen to leave my home in Greece, and come to New York “for a better life”; and not really wanting to. As most exiles I feel uprooted, and this idea of connection to where I now live is quite frail.

This fragility of course does not come without a better understanding of oneself in connection to identity and belonging. A house is just a roof over our heads, but a home is where we feel comforted, protected, familiar, and at peace. I’ll bring two more Greek words to the mix to show the complexity of meaning and feeling.

οικία (oikia)– means house or home

οικεία (oikeia) — means familiar or something you find comforting

For now my house is in New York City, but it does not feel like my home, so the heart keeps roaming, and if my life is any indication of a pattern, it will roam again.

So when you close the door to your home tonight make sure that you feel at home, comforted and safe.

So… Where do you feel most at home?



Day 12. Nostalgia

Day 12 of 27. What is Nostalgia to you?

When thinking of this feeling of deep longing, I always refer to a specific part of a poem written by the Greek poet C. P Cavafy in 1911.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.



It all starts with a pull. A tug in your heart and mind towards a place that you love, a place that you miss, the aromas that bring you to a certain afternoon with a coffee and the smell of jasmine floating trough the air. It’s the longing for your home; the familiar; the place that we all leave and sometimes take years to go back to. Yet the journey away is far more important than the return. The journey changes you, and even though you cling to images of your past and aromas that make you yearn for the things you miss the most; the journey away from all that you love, can and does change you for the better. Nostalgia is a deep pain that no matter how many places I’ve been, how many trips I take and how many places I’ve lived; it is as strong as the first day I left my home. I look at images of Athens and I just can feel the spring breeze wafting through the eucalyptus tree in my grandmother’s garden at 4pm after a siesta. I remember the feeling of the water after a long summer swim. There is no water like the Mediterranean sea and that is the smell of Nostalgia for me.

Nostos- Longing to return / Going toward the place you love

Algos- The sweet pain of separation from that place.

What does Nostalgia mean to you?


Day 11. — Two sides

Day 11 of 27. This image was snapped in a private club in New York City. I was invited to a lovely classical music event, with mostly very interesting people. I left feeling I got a small glimpse of the elite high end world of New York, that even now is a thing of legends, stories, fact and fiction. There a very few times in my life that I have come across this secret world of the wealthy and privileged. I don’t say this to be a bad or good thing, just something I know very little about. I thought about what it would feel like to be part of this societal and economic stratum, and I can’t wrap my head around the concept. It somehow doesn’t feel normal to me, yet here it is; alive and well and right next door to us. Two worlds exist in New York more so than any other place I’ve visited; ( ok London may be more extreme in this). And this one struck me as a world stuck in time; unaware of the societal and social changes the rest of us see every day. This world of wealth and privilege seems very isolated and unaware of the rest of the world.

The space I visited exuded isolation and exclusivity in every part of its existence, yet it was absolutely beautiful and captivating to be there. I felt like I was a fly on the wall absorbing this ” other” world and the rules that form it.

I am glad I have the opportunity to see glimpses of this world but at the same time knowing full well that I’m a visitor; staying a short while, only to return to a life I’m enjoying fully.

What do you observe in everyday life that captures your attention ?

Day 8. To be a woman

“Women will save the world, but first they must start by saving themselves.” — DL


Today is International Women’s Day — Women’s achievements, sacrifice, tenacity, willpower, beauty, and presence is celebrated around the world.

Yes but…. there is a but.

What is lacking in all this celebration of togetherness is the sheer lack of self care that most women give themselves. Over and over women are celebrated by being the healers, the nurturers the caretakers, as of late (only in American Culture) the fighters; the true heroines. More often than not these same women are time and time again put into positions to care for others more than they can care for themselves.

And yet…. there is a yet; women are still abused, by their husbands, boyfriends, fathers, lovers, relatives. Wives and girlfriends are battered in more households across Greece than I care to mention. I’ve heard it with my own to ears. I’ve heard it here, in New York right next to my own home. Because violence physical, verbal and mental; despite this rah rah mentality of celebrating women, still exists.

We, women; are strong, unrelenting in our abilities to do whatever we want to do. And still, yes there is a still; we have to deal with the abuse, the control and the pressure of society to be nice, pretty, agreeable, convincing with our bodies and not our minds and lastly and this is not easy for me to say, become blind of all that has happened and continues to happen to us and get on with it.

I celebrate women, I revere their strength their ability to get things done in the most difficult of circumstances but above all; I celebrate their ability to forgive; love unconditionally, and bring communities together when no one else can. My biggest heroes are not the famous faces; everyone knows them. My heroines are the women in my family; the women I call my sisters, and the women who despite illness, financial difficulty and incredible odds against them; still get shit done. These are the role models that young women need to look up to.

We are the healers, the negotiators the ones who raise families, our own and of others, we are strong, we are survivors, we get up when life throws us down, but we must never forget that in order to heal the world, we must begin with ourselves.

Celebrate women’s day every day.

Athens– A city of history and change.


Athens isn’t what you would call a beautiful city or even a picturesque one. A friend described it as a place where someone threw a bag of Legos and wherever they landed that’s how Athens was built and developed after the second world war. This huge uncontrollable expanse of cement, metal and marble is a basin engulfed by 4 mountain ranges. Parnitha, Penteli,Hemetos and Egaleo. Except for the Parthenon, Mount Lycabettous, and the Panathenaic Stadium (Kallimarmaron) there aren’t distinct recognizable features in its landscape that define it like other sprawling metropoles.

Athens is an ugly modern city. built around on the glory of ancient wonder.

What Athens has that other cities in the world don’t is its ability to constantly renew itself and reinvent its story. This does not stem of capricious artistry but because of necessity. Ever since the second world war, Athens has been a city of change, tumult and pathos. It’s an experimental, dramatic place filled with history and constant change.

Fluctuating Governments, Regimes, Geo-Political importance, invasions, occupations, war and turmoil. Its streets are paved over layers upon layers of history. Every building quite literally stands over ancient cities and past glory. At every turn there is an ancient site tucked between the cacophony of 1950’s chaotic rebuilding post WWII.

View of downtown Athens

Despite its misfortunes, Athens is a grand, triumphant city taking its name after its most powerful female symbol. The city is dedicated to the goddess Athena, she rains over this basin as a goddess spawned from fierce strength and magnificence. The Virgin Goddess (Athena Parthenos) protects our city, and you can feel her presence looming over the polis every night as the Parthenon lights up over the night sky.

Like every one of its citizens, its loud, nosy, loving, boisterous , nostalgic, hospitable, suspicious, dirty, and mystical. You will come to this city a stranger and you leave a friend. Its not an easy friendship mind you; it will demand a lot of you, but its a deep and genuine lasting friendship that will be there for your through the hardest of times. She is a city that has been battered, used, taken advantage of again and again but still has life to give and love to share for those who are willing to look beyond the scars and the misfortunes.

In 2010 the economic crisis started to bear down on the soul of this beautiful city goddess. This was one wound too many for some neighborhoods. I saw once vibrant street corners turn into drug infested sewers, I saw its people live in fear of their neighbors and let the mistrust and anger brewing around them seep into their daily lives. Yet despite the destruction, the riots,  and the strikes that crippled our city for the past eight harrowing years, it’s people and most importantly it’s young people are starting to find ways to bring sunlight into even the darkest spots.

New Life built on the shadows of the crisis.

New businesses are being created, replacing once empty neighborhoods with bars restaurants and cafes. New companies are being founded with innovation from forward thinking Greeks, who left, the country for years at a time, and came back, with renewed courage to give back to the city they love.

These changes are not with out their set backs of course. The crisis still looms heavy on every day living but instead of giving in to the roller coaster crippling economy that has been Greece’s reality, Greek entrepreneurs and business owners have learned to adapt with the times. Etsy and online stores are now replacing physical storefronts which are expensive to maintain and don’t draw the foot traffic they once did. Yes we all are very weary when stores that have been in the center of Athens since the late 1800’s close, but innovation has to take place in order for new blood to enter a ill fated city.

Online business is on the rise, as crippling capital controls are still in place, but have allowed for more online commerce to develop. Greeks and specifically Athenians have long been trained in loopholes, and this is no exception. Old abandoned houses are being transformed and given new life as hip cocktail bars and gourmet restaurants. Greeks although strapped for cash themselves have found a way to work outside the localized economic restrictions and build businesses that are not only successful but profitable as well.

Just underneath Philopapou Hill in Petralona what was once a working class neighborhood in the 1950’s has now become a gathering place for new restaurants, and bars. Old taverns that were only frequented by the locals are now a destination spot for people who don’t live near these neighborhoods. I witnessed the beginning stages of this transformation starting in 2010 when I still lived in Athens. Beautiful neoclassical buildings are transformed, and transported to a time and place that has no historical reference and recreates these streets from the beginning.

The northern suburbs of Athens are also getting their taste of new glory days; with local restaurants and bars choosing to set up shop in smaller venues there rather than take their business in more prevalent or central neighborhoods in Athens. Off the tourist beaten path, these neighborhoods are usually strangers to foreign visitors so they keep their authenticity and are loyal to their patrons are they are to them.

Chalandri, Cholargos, Kifissia, Marousi, Agia Paraskevi to name a few are the northern neighborhoods receiving a fresh spotlight after their initial heyday in the 80’s and 90’s.

Even more “working class” and immigrant neighborhoods such as Ilion, Nea Smyrni, and Egaleo are reinventing themselves in their own unique way.

The under represented and often overlooked jewel of Athens in my opinion has always been Piraeus. Its a busy, dirty, port with overly antithetical ideas about itself. In the 30’s and 40’s part of it was a very upper class neighborhood, next to a sprawling lower class and immigrant population constantly coming in from Asia Minor and the northern outskirts of the Greek villages.  Many families who had shipping or trade businesses would live and work there. One of them being my grandmother and her 3 siblings. The northern suburbs now considered upper class, were all but non existent, and only for “summer vacations”  of the wealthy Athenians, seeking refuse from the overcrowding Athenian metropolis.

                                                                         Philopapou Hill in the early 1800’s and 1900’s

Pireaus on the other hand was and is for many a separate entity of Athens set apart for its glory and Academic centers, Pireaus was a city of the people and by the people. Its like no other part of Athens. The residents call themselves Pireotes before they would ever call themselves Athenians. And I can completely understand their pride and camaraderie to their neighborhood.

This is true for other neighborhoods in Athens, as they are slowly revamping, reinventing, renewing their re-imagined surroundings.

Athens is always forever struggling with the city that it once was, and now slowly growing into the city that it will be. Its Renaissance comes with many growing pains and crises of identity yet I’ve always had faith in this crazy lego-land built on the ruins of ancient civilization. This faith is born not because Athens is the  home I was born in, but has become the home that I’ve grown as a person, as a woman, as a friend as a professional, with countless others who worked hard and made it their home too. We are not Europe and I hope that one day we realize that and define this city with its own colors.

For more information about the places you’ve seen here — Get on a plane and visit!