George Sand – a flamboyant, romantic writer

by Andrada Costoiu

Photo: “Portrait of George Sand” by Charles Louis Gratia (c. 1835)

George’s Sand real name was Armandine Aurore Lucille Dupin; she was called by her family and friends “Aurore”. Born in Paris in 1801, she was the most popular writer in Europe in mid 1800s, more popular than Victor Hugo and Honore the Balzac. Her work was appreciated by many famous poets and writers: the American poet Walt Whitman cited Sand’s novel Consuelo as a personal favorite; Dostoevsky translated some of her work; she inspired Virginia Wolf, Marcel Proust and many others.

A not so common 19th century French woman

She grew up in the French countryside, in Nohant, near La Châtre in Berry. At age thirteen she was sent to a convent in Paris. Her grandmother was afraid that Sand will become a nun so she brought her back to Nohant. She became the mistress of the estate after her grandmother died. At 19 she got married with Casimir-François Dudevant and they had 2 kids together.

I guess she was bored or grew wings because at 27 she decided that she wanted more and she moved to Paris in search for independence and love. She first worked for Le Figaro. 

It didn’t take long for her to create her own identity: George Sand the writer. At that time, when a woman that demanded respect was supposed to be a dutiful wife and mother, she broke social barriers by becoming a writer. 

She wore male attire in public….yes, pants, shirts and men’s hats!  She also smoked in public. You might think, well, what’s so special about that? It is, because in France back then women were required to have a permit in order to wear male clothing! Some women applied for permit but Sand was one of the women that wore men’s clothes without it. 

She started wearing men’s attire when she wanted to go to the theatre and didn’t have enough money. She loved entering intellectual and artistic venues where women were forbidden. AH, if I was to live during these days I would have done the same!!!

Also, the fact that she was smoking in public was scandalous. While more than a few raised their eyebrows at her rebellious behavior, others found her admirable and were not bothered by it. 

Victor Hugo for example said that:

“George Sand cannot determine whether she is male or female. I entertain a high regard for all my colleagues, but it is not my place to decide whether she is my sister or my brother.”

– Victor Hugo

Writing

She was a romantic soul that always found consolation in her writing. I think that George Sand might be the most prolific woman writer in the history of literature. She wrote 130 volumes of fiction, political and other writing and 25 volumes or more of letters are coming to light. That’s impressive! I wonder when she found time to do anything else…..

All her novels are love stories in which her romantic idealism unfolds in a real world.

Her fist novel, Indiana, brought her immediate fame.  This novel was a passionate protest against the social conventions that made a wife dependent on her husband and a plea for a heroine who abandons an unhappy marriage and finds love. Sounds familiar? Of course it does! The story is very similar to her own life story…..

 The cover of Indiana by George Sand – WikiCommons

Yes, she was a “dream lover

She was and did many things: she was a writer, a mother, an unhappy but trying hard to make it work wife, a lover, a caretaker, a “politician”. But she also had a sensible soul. She was forever searching for love, moving from one lover to another “ searching endlessly for a way to stop searching”( “The dream lover” by Elizabeth Berg). I wish she didn’t have to have that many lovers……but each of us has his/her own story. From her relationships, most remarkable to me were the ones with Alfred de Musset, Frederic Chopin and last….Gustave Flaubert. She loved each of them and each man loved her in their own way.

Her longest relationship was with Polish pianist and composer, Frédéric Chopin. He wrote much of his work during their 9 years together.  I cannot imagine what would have been like to hear this man playing piano everyday! I love his Nocturne op.9, No.2; it’s my favorite. I also love Spring Waltz and so many other of his compositions. You can listen to both if you click their names because I attached the youtube links for each.

George Sand and Frédéric Chopin by Alquiler de Coches – Flickr

She and Gustave Flaubert meet after the publication of his book “Madame Bovary”. She was 53, he was 35. Some say that they were not lovers but friends. They wrote letters to each other; their correspondence lasted for 10 years, until Sand’s death. You can now read their correspondence if you check out these books The George Sand – Gustave Flaubert Letters and Flaubert-Sand: The Correspondence.

Books and movies about her

There are a lot of books about her, but the one I have read is “The Dream lover” by Elizabeth Berg.  One must appreciate this writer because of the sum of all feelings and insights you get while reading her work. Berg includes  a lot of dates, places and famous people in Sand’s life. I have read some reviews and many people didn’t like this book, but I did! To me it had a lot of depth and feeling. 

Movies:

Impromptu (1991), with Hugh Grant and Judy Davis, is a very special movie. A young Hugh Grant and Judy Davis play Chopin and Sand.

The Children of the Century (1999) with Juliette Binoche. This movie focuses on Sand’s relationship with fellow author, Alfred de Musset. 

Chopin: desire to love (2002) is a Polish movie. It is definitely one of the truest-to-life depictions of Chopin on the screen.   Danita Stenka is also hands-down the best George Sand I’ve yet seen.

Movie poster for the 2002 movie by Jerzy Antczak titled Chopin: Desire for Love

Some final thoughts

George Sand lived her life as she pleased, which was very rare for any woman at that time. May we all learn from her courage. And may we all strive to be as creative as she was and be even half, a third or a tenth as productive as she was.

What about love? With all the distractions, tv’s, iPhones, internet and such, our fast pace of life makes us feel that we are racing to the unknown without deep feelings. We are forever rushing through. It feels like we are citizens of a land of banality, brushing shoulders with each other, chasing money, power, success….. But no! This is just an illusion, because deep inside each of us there is something that asks for love, and that is what motivates us to go on and on. 

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 – . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lou Andreas Salome and her “audacity to be free”

by Andrada Costoiu

There are so many things we take for granted, such is freedom. Being free to speak our minds, to pursue our dreams, and to do the things we want to do. But what if you lived in a different place or in a different time, what if you had to fight to be you everyday? 

Lou Andreas Salome was an extremely bright woman, one that Nietzsche, Rene Maria Rilke (a famous German poet), Paul Ree (a German philosopher) fell in love with.  She was also a confidante of Sigmund Freud and a sort of a godmother to Freud’s daughter, Anna Freud. That’s an impressive list of fascinating people, isn’t it?  

She made herself free of the society rules and became immersed in her work. She ignored her family’s and the general social expectations, which held that the purpose of a woman was to get married, have children and be dependent on her man. Pressed by everyone around her to undertake a conventional life, she constantly refused to do so.

She lived in Germany, where under the influential Prussian civil code an unmarried woman remained under the ward of her father and a married woman under the ward of her husband…and the husband, until 1860 could take his wife to the police station to be beaten….Imagine that!

I think she was a larger-than-life figure. Besides these top thinkers that were entwined in her life, her accomplishments in the fields of philosophy, psychology, and her published writings as a poet, essayist, and novelist are extraordinary.  She was one of the first female psychoanalysts and one of the first women to write psychoanalytically on female sexuality.

How did she remain under the radar?!

She was born in Russia, Sankt Petersburg in 1861.  She was curious and wanted to learn, so she persuaded a Dutch priest to teach her theology, philosophy, world religions and German literature. The priest, who was married and 25 years older than her, fell in love with her and proposed. Of course, she wasn’t interested and the lessons stopped.  She was only 17 years old…

After her father’s death she moved to Zurich; then because she developed a lung disease they moved to Rome. She was 21. Here she met Paul Ree, a German philosopher than happened to be Nietzsche’s friend. Paul Ree is not that famous, but Nietzsche’s (1844–1900)philosophy has been and still is of influence in present time. Nietzsche’s way of thinking was fresh; he challenged the traditional values and I like that about him. With the risk of being deterred from the subject, I’m going to include here few of Nietzsche’s quotes:

“ There are no beautiful surfaces without a terrible depth”

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

“The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.”

“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

—Friedrich Nietzsche

Lou, Nietzsche and Ree spend time and were planning to all move together, in a kind of brotherhood-sisterhood living, where they would all concentrate on their work. 

This is a famous picture the three of them took in Luzerne, with Lou holding a whip and Nietzsche and Ree pulling the cart. It symbolizes the power she had over them…

Nietzsche and Ree were smitten with her and both proposed. She rejected their proposals. The relationship with Nietzsche ended up first, partly because of his possessive sister, Elizabeth Nietzsche, who in my opinion was a not very nice(I’ll just say this to keep the language of my writing clean). Some scholars say that Nietzsche wrote his famous book Thus Spoke Zarathustra as a response to his broken heart. Ree left her when she agreed to enter into a sham marriage (meaning no sex) with a linguistics scholar Friedrich Carl Andreas. They stayed married this way for 23 years, until his death in 1930.

Then she became deeply involved with Rene Maria Rilke, a German poet. I read his poetry and it’s beautiful. She persuaded him to change his name from Rene to Rainer. He was the first man that she got involved with  sexually, she was around 30.  She felt that she and Rilke were so well suited because he was in touch with the feminine side of himself. She often referenced herself as “androgynous” and she said that everyone should find the opposite sex within themselves. I find this a bit odd, a bit puzzling! If I am a woman, can I also find the man in me?! If you’re a man, can you also find the woman in you?! 

This is a picture of Lou and Rilke

Last, in 1911, Salome went to Vienna, to undergo psychoanalysis with Freud.  Her ideas were inspirational to Freud, specifically on the topic of narcissism. They were actually linked by their common interest in narcissism. While Freud studied narcissism from outside, she studied narcissism from within. They had opposing views. For Freud, narcissism was a formation of one’s own self-image, for Salome narcissism broke out from the framework of the “I” and went beyond the boundaries of “love for oneself”. For Salome narcissism was a maniacal condition of love towards oneself and towards the surrounding world. Interesting, isn’t it!!! She became a psychoanalyst, and practiced until the Nazis came to power. She was five years younger than Freud and despite the rumors about their romantic involvement their relationship was mostly intellectual.

There is a good movie about her, in German: Lou Andreas Salome and the audacity to be free. This is where I got the inspiration for my title. The movie made me a bit sad, but we should always follow our dreams and always think about what do we want to be remembered for. 

Why do I find her inspiring ? I find her inspiring because she was a woman who managed to live a self-determined, independent life. She went against all odds and became who she wanted to be. 

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gertrude Bell, a sort of woman Indiana Jones

by Andrada Costoiu

Ignored or completely unknown, Gertrude Bell was another remarkable woman who left traces in our history. I have written about her before, but that is being published somewhere else and since I cannot share it on my website, I’m still going to tell you about her ….in a different way.

She was a misfit, one that naturally went against the stereotyped woman of the early twentieth century.  She was born in England, in 1868, into a wealthy family. Her mother died while giving birth to her brother Maurice and her father remarried Florence Bell soon after, while Gertrude was seven years old. Florence, now her stepmother, was also a woman with visions. She was a playwright and author of children’s stories and she instilled in Gertrude a sense of responsibility. 

Getting an education

She studied at Oxford. In a time when women were not allowed to study almost anything, history was one of the few subjects they could tackle.   Did you know that back then women at Oxford had to remain silent in lectures and could not interact freely with professors or male classmates? Ah, I wonder where did these women found grace to behave as they were asked. Anyway, it is said that Gertrude was the first woman to graduate in Modern History at Oxford.

The wow Gertrude

A lot of records list her as an archeologist or as a writer, but for me the accent should be put on her travels, on her quest to uncover unknown paths and on her cultural and political power in the Middle East. A rebel against gender convention, she became successful in the male-dominated fields of geography, archeology and statecraft.

Mountain climbing

Yes, she climbed mountains! She started in 1899 and she changed her skirt in for pants to make climbing more comfortable. We heard of Tom Ballard, the king of Alps, but back in the very beginning of 1900’s, Gertrude climbed several famous mountain peaks in the Swiss Alps. Today, there is a mountain, the Gertrudespitze, which is named in her honor.

Middle East travels

Photo credit: Alamy stock photos

Gertrude felt at home in the desert, here is where her heart was.

I’ve been in the desert myself. Despite what the word “desert” summons in our imagination and feelings, the desert is an astounding place. Its quietness goes down into your being and you feel more alive and more you than in any other place in the world. Here you’re undisturbed by the constant murmur of the world.

So Gertrude, I understand.

Her desert odyssey started in 1900 and she travelled across the Arabian desert many times. Many people thought of her as a specie of lunatic British explorer. I think the fact that they underestimated her was her lucky charm.

Her knowledge helped the European powers decide how to carve Arabia after the war. There is a movie made about her and her travels: “Queen of the desert”.

Under the cover of archaeological research, she traveled to Hail, to assess the Rashids, a historic Arabian House who were the most formidable enemies of the House of Saud. I don’t know what she saw or what she said but we all know that Ibn Saud was the one that became the founder of Saudi Arabia.

Many say that Gertrude was a spy. I don’t know how I feel about this, I guess if you’re not there, you don’t know the reasons, or if you didn’t read enough, you should not speak. So, I will not speak. I want to highlight her courage rather than the political games.

 She was also involved and played a big role in the creation of Iraq, she played the role of mediator between the Arab government and British officials and later on she played an important part in the administration of Iraq.

Love…love….but not so much love….

Gertrude never married, but she had several love affairs.

Her first love was an Englishman, Henry Cadogan. She was so in love and wanted to marry him, but her father did not approve. Henry died nine months later. 

This is a picture of Nicole Kidman who plays Gertrude and James Franco(Cadogan) in the Queen of the Desert movie

Later in her life, she had a passionate affair with Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham, a colonial administrator. I don’t know much about him, if you’re interested you can find more at the link above. I think he was a man full of life, as he remarried at the age of 89…

There are so many other many aspects of Gertrude’s life that made her remarkable: she volunteered for the Red Cross in France during the World War I, she worked for the British Intelligence, she helped form The Baghdad Archaeological Museum, now called The Iraqi Museum, she worked with archaeologist Sir William Ramsay in Anatolia and together they wrote a book….and I’m sure there are many other things that I cannot remember and hence I didn’t mention.

Remarkable woman; an example of courage and of YES, YOU CAN!

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Martha Gellhorn

by Andrada Costoiu

Photo credit: AP

Do you know that song of Alicia Keys “ Girl on fire”?

“She’s just a girl, and she’s on fire
Hotter than a fantasy, longer like a highway
She’s living in a world, and it’s on fire
Feeling the catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away
Oh, she got both feet on the ground
And she’s burning it down
Oh, she got her head in the clouds
And she’s not backing down”

That was Martha Gellhorn, a girl on fire! She was a girl that went to ground zero to cover the Spanish Civil War, one that hid in a ship’s bathroom to be able to go cover the Normandy landings, one that was among the first to report from Dachau concentration camp.

I think she is best remembered for her marriage with Hemingway, but she should be remembered for being one of the best war correspondents of her time and for being a fighter for justice and a fighter for the poor. 

Should I pose the question: what is inspiring about her? I guess her strength and courage is unquestionable and so is her passion to pursue her dreams. But let me elaborate on that…….

She was born in 1908, in St. Louis Missouri. Her mother went to Bryn Mawr—with Eleanor Roosevelt—and became a founder and vice-president of the National League of Women Voters. Martha went to Bryn Mawr herself(this is an all women college, in Pennsylvania, with many famous alumni) but she did not complete her education. Instead she left to Paris, armed with a typewriter and $75 and determined to become a journalist.

She did eventually become a journalist. She moved from Paris back to USA and she wrote a book “The Trouble I’ve Seen” that vividly describes the hardship and the collapse of the American way of life during the Great Depression.

And then what did Martha do?

She went to Spain and covered the Spanish Civil War, in 1937. She crossed over the border from France into Spain alone, with $50 rolled and tucked into her boot. She lived among crumbling buildings; she went to the front. What was unique about her is that instead of focusing on tactics, generals and weapons, Martha looked at the people. She wrote about the makeshift hospitals, lines for bread, the smell of explosive, the war and its horrors.

She wanted to give a real account of the war and she said that : “I was always afraid that I would forget the exact sound, smell, words, gestures which were special to this moment and this place.” ( this is an excerpt from her book,The Face Of War, by Martha Gellhorn).

This is the time when her affair with Hemingway started. 

Photo credit: Sherman Billingsley’s Stork Club

Martha and Hemingway were married in 1940.She managed to stay married to him for about 5 years(1940-1945). They lived in Cuba. 

She left to cover World War II, but back then the military would not accredit women to report from the front line. Still, she found a way, because where there is a will there is a way, isn’t it? She hid in the bathroom of on a hospital ship and this way she landed in Normandy. She went to the shore as a stretcher bearer….

She was there on the D Day and she was also one of the first journalists on hand when American soldiers liberated Dachau in May of 1945. 

After World War II she and Hemingway got divorced. I’m not one that is assuming the worst so I don’t know if he was jealous on her achievements (because that’s what most historical accounts say) or if  they just found out that they had different paths in life. There is a movie about their marriage,  Hemingway & Gellhorn(2012) that portrays a restless, critical and violent Hemingway.

Martha also reported on Vietnam war, where she went to visit hospitals and refugee camps. She wanted to show people’s pain.

I love her for her courage, for her free spirit and for being a fighter for justice.

And I am going to close with an inspiring quote, one that should remind us to fight for what we think it is right, one that should remind us that not everybody is lucky and if there is anything that we could do, we should do it :

 “I am certain that not one word ever did the slightest good. But I am a writer and know nothing else to do. It is tiring and unrewarding. On the other hand, complete silence is worse, so even if it’s only a mouse squeak it is better than nothing.” ( Martha Gellhorn)

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Beryl Markham

by Andrada Costoiu

Aviator Beryl Markham arriving in New York, on Sept. 6, 1936, after a solo flight across the Atlantic. Credit: AP

Sometimes life gets so busy that we forget about the people that were not a Napoleon, a Freud, a Plato. Figures that deeply marked with their knowledge or experiences life as we know it are always there, always referenced, always remembered.

But what about the other inspiring people? What about the ones that are not part of the main stream?

Today I thought about someone that I would have liked to know, someone that inspired me in my love of flying, someone that was a pioneer in many ways: Beryl Markham.

Why I like Beryl? Who was she? What did she do?

Credit © BETTMANN/CORBIS.

She was born in England in 1878 and when she was 4 years old, she left with her parents to Kenya, which back then was British East Africa.  While she was still small her mom returned back to England and eventually married another man. Beryl lived with her father, adapting to the new culture and eventually blending into the Kenyan way of life.

Her life was an adventure; a true adventure in which she had to work and fight for her dreams.

We all know how great Amelia Earhart was. But not so many of us know about Beryl. Just like Amelia, Beryl was the first woman to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic from east to west, from England to America.  Her experience is documented in a book I enjoyed reading: “West with the Night” (this is her memoir).

She flew in Kenya, on vast distances, delivering mail, medical supplies, carrying critically ill patients. The flying instruments back then were a far cry of what we have now! No radio, no GPS, no air speed indicator; she only had maps of navigations and a compass. 

So yes…..I admire Beryl!

She also trained horses, she was the first woman race-horse trainer in Kenya.

She meet Ernst Hemingway on a safari trip in Kenya. Years later, he praised her book and said in a letter to a friend that “As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer.”( Ernest Hemingway Selected Letters 1917-1961, Carlos Baker ed. ,Simon&Schuster, p.541)

She loved. She loved and she suffered, she went through the emotional roller coaster that we all do.  She was a nonconformist and in the eyes of many she had a “scandalous” life. She was married three times, but I think from her love life, two relationships were memorable to me: the one that involved Denys Finch Hatton and the one that involved Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, son of George V. I think the one with Prince Henry struck me because it was a scandalous affair and they were both married.

The other one with Denys Finch Hatton was a love triangle. Most of us have probably seen the movie “Out of Africa”, which is based on Karen Blixen‘s( also known as  Isak Dinesen)memoir. Karen was also a strong woman and was the lover of Finch Hatton; she loved him deeply but so did Beryl! It is unclear when Beryl-Finch love story started (different sources have that it started when he was still together with Karen and that Beryl stole him from her, others say that their relationship started after he and Karen were not together anymore). So, I don’t really know…..and I guess we won’t really know , but what is certain is that Denys inspired Beryl to learn flying.

There is so much more to say about this woman.  I have read a few books about her; my favorite two are “ Circling the Sun” by Paula McLain and “West with the Night” by Beryl Markham. Paula McLain ’s book is wonderfully written. You will feel as you are witnessing Beryl’s life, you’ll feel like you’re hunting in the Kenyan landscape with her and the other children, you’ll feel like you’re flying with her and you’ll also dream with her about Finch Hatton. “West with the Night” is a wonderful account of what Beryl felt and dreamed, in her own words.

So yes! Beryl Markham was a remarkable woman, one that should inspire and empower the woman of today.

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Believe in yourself

by Andrada Costoiu

Damn those mishaps of living, 
Damn looking back on your life,
Damn thoughts of I should have…I could have.
 
You’re only here now and life unfolds in the present,
So live today to give your tomorrow self something to build on!
 
Y is for finding Yourself,
O is for having the courage to live outside the box,
U is for un-hurry for whatever it’s meant to come next in your life!
 
A is for acting on your dreams,
R is for all the good relationships that you can build,
E is for enriching your own world.
 
P is for the positivity,
O if for one more step you take towards happiness,
W walking with your head up high,
E is for the energy that runs through your body,
R is for rest and refresh and renew yourself,
F is for fanning your inner sparks into flames of achievement,
U is for the unbelievable adventure of your life,
L is for love.
 
You have no limits but the ones you set for yourself,
Yes you can! Go build your dreams !

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Time chaser

by Andrada Costoiu

Time given, our beating heart does measure,
We’re all wandering, through new hours, new days, new months…and years.
We’re rushing….
Not even knowing, we’re rushing,
Competing against ourselves….and others.
 
In the twinkling lights of so many cities,
It’s us….
A young man chasing a young girl in the quest of love,
A pregnant woman nauseated in the bathroom,
A grandmother combing her granddaughter’s hair,
A man unbuttoning his jacket as he sits on his desk,
An old woman with trembling voice and knees weak as cotton wool.
 
Do you see? Do you see the picture of life?
What if through a worm whole,
You could travel and meet the older you?
What do you think the older you would say to the you that you’re now?
 
I think he would say…..Hello!
Young me, know that your journey is significant,
Young me, please put a cruise terminal on every month and every year,
And rest there for a while …before you start again.
Young me, spring is happening all around you, open your eyes.
Young me, leave space in your life for possibility,
You’re only just starting, no matter how old you are.
 
I hope you don’t let the moments take make your eyes shine
Slipping away from you,
Know that you’re never falling behind,
Trust the timing of your life.
 
This is a picture of my flying book……and a turtle, on my desk. To remind me of the balance in life.
Sending you all love and please do stop to smell the flowers…

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Becoming you

By Andrada Costoiu

Though conversations suck,
The truth you’ve been avoiding:
You’re trapped in the same old patterns,
Of pleasing everyone,
And locked in the prison of external validation.
 
Strange case! Or maybe common?
We’re all part of the crowd!
Conscious accommodations,
With fears to be disloyal to social expectations.
 
But in revealing insight,
Your private thoughts speak truth,
Your voice is authentic,
You hear the deeper you.
 
Wild horses drag your dreams,
You’re smiling, you can fly,
Why asking for permissions, 
When you can reach the sky?
 
Becoming you it’s hard,
But you have your own story to unfold,
Don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life….

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sighisoara

by Andrada Costoiu

Sighisoara is an old medieval town in Transylvania, Romania. Perhaps not so well known as other older places in Romania, but equally beautiful and worth visiting…..not only for its history, but also for its beautiful surroundings. It is not big in size but it is one of the most beautiful well-preserved citadel-city in Europe.

Getting there

From Bucharest, you can take the train or you can rent a car. The train ride is really cheap, about 10-15$ and it would take about 5 hours. By car, it’s about the same amount of time, about 5 hours on 300 km, but you get to see beautiful scenery and also stop wherever you want.

History

The city was built around 1280 and it played an important strategic and commercial role in Europe. It was a place of resistance against Ottoman invasions, which is why the city is so fortified. The city is surrounded by walls and there are 14 towers and 5 artillery bastions. Vlad Dracul (the father of Vlad the Impaler-Dracula) has lived here in exile. They also say that Vlad the Impaler was born here, but there is no actual proof of the house where he was born.

Prince Charles has visited the town; he owns a beautiful 18thcentury cluster of houses in the village of Viscri, which is about 45 km away from Sighisoara. You can rent rooms and spend time there.

What you must see

The Clock Tower

This is the symbol of Sighisoara. It began being built at the end of 13thcentury, but it was destroyed by a fire. The construction of the tower as it is today dates back to 1676. There are many things that make this tower special, but the main attraction is the clock with the puppets inside.

There are seven puppets that represent each day of the week, but they also represent seven ancient gods, seven planets and seven metals. This one in the picture is Friday: a female character representing Aphrodite or Venus, goddess of beauty and love. She is admiring her beauty in a mirror held by a little person. She carries on her head the symbol of copper, a metal that is associated with passion and beauty.

There is a window glass through which you can see the mechanism that is moving the clock.

The tower is also the place for the History Museum of Sighisoara.  To visit, you will have to climb some steep set of stairs and it is very narrow. Watch out your steps! Traffic up and down can get awkward. 

The museum has interesting pieces; there are cases that display layouts of the city and different things that people living in the city owned and some archaeological discoveries. I saw this doctor’s kit and I was so happy that I didn’t have to live during those times!!!!

The balcony of the tower clock has panoramic views. From every corner and place the views are breathtaking.  

The Church on the Hill

This was a crazy ride! I started counting the stairs then I gave up!! So many steps! I searched on google after and they say you’re actually climbing 300 steps to get there!  I was impressed, because at the top there is also a school, and kids have to climb these stairs everyday to get up. Imagine how fit they are! Besides the school there is the Ghotic church( The Church on the Hill), which is quite beautiful. Inside you can find the only ancient crypt in Transylvania. 

The colorful streets

Sighisoara has beautiful , colorful streets. The citadel is quite small so not a lot of walking, but the streets are paved with stones; you will need good walking shoes. By no means DO not wear high heels! 

The medieval festival

If you visit this place during the month of July, you can be part of the Medieval festival. People dress up in medieval costumes, there are concerts of flute, mandolin, tambourine, games of jousting. You can assist public trials, convictions …In all, you will experience the fascinating atmosphere of medieval times.

Where to stay

We stayed at a Domain called Dracula Danes, that is only 6 km away from Sighisoara. From the accommodations, to the food and horses, this was one of the most wonderful experiences we had in the area. The rooms are beautiful, clean. Our room had a fireplace, so if you’re going with family or for a romantic trip, that might be a nice touch. 

If you feel like walking, the domain has a beautiful park. There is also a small zoo that kids might enjoy and a pool. 

This place is wonderful. Here the love of nature and animals comes together.  These people love their horses and you can tell! Their stables, the manege and everything about their horses is well kept and very professional.

Here you can take horseback riding lessons, you can go riding alone or you can simply rent a horse drawn carriage to enjoy the landscapes together with your family or friends.  We did both, horse back riding ……

And the carriage! I have learned how to steer the horse and….this was a fancy carriage! It had breaks! The horse was one of those that they use in October fest to drag the carts full with beer barrels ! I forgot my horse’s name, but I started riding with a stranger and we came back friends…

At the restaurant, the food is yummy. You can try some authentic Romanian food; this in the picture is called bulz, a dish with polenta, cheese and sausage. Or….you can try more common dishes, made with a special touch, such as burgers. Your choice! 

All that being said, I hope you do go visit Sighisoara and you do go by Dracula Danes. You’ll have a wonderful experience. And if you have questions while you’re planning your trip, I’m here. Ask!

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You’re not alone

by Andrada Costoiu

The noise of tweaking thoughts, 
A constant rotation tricking you to stay inside,
Wrapped within yourself,
Because you think you really are as alone as you feel.
 
You’re walking your own path,
You carry with you your hopes, your dreams,
Alone,
Feeling the weight and feeling that you, only you carry your dreams, your visions.
 
But from the dark you hear steps,
You don’t look behind, but you feel it,
Then some more steps, and more….
Turning you recognize faces,
There are people that you care about, more or little,
There are people that learned from you and the ones you learned from,
There are people that passed through your life and left something…or took something,
One by one, people…..more and more people behind you.
 
You can hear your heartbeat,
You can hear and feel them,
You’re not walking alone,
All these people behind you,
Same step.
They’re walking for you…..
You’re walking for them….
You feel power,
The power of life.
The power is in you,
You want to make it worth,
Walk,
Be brave enough to follow that light that could turn your life around,
Walk,
For you, for them,
You never walked or walk alone.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.