Rainy Baku

39911573-AF53-485F-BD70-EF3E88B8E612I started walking / running exercise routine in October when the weather just started getting colder. On some days the weather was still so nice that I walked in a T-shirt. Then gradually the temperature decreased. Baku is a windy city and our winds can make it unbearable to be outside. Even when the temperature doesn’t drop below zero, it feels like -10. I needed to adjust to these conditions somehow, so I started walking in the Old City. Inner part of Baku is protected by thick walls that date back to 12th century and they hid me from the wind. I loved walking there and exploring it’s labyrinths and I loved that no walk was as the one before. Each time I was changed a route and I always came across something interesting and beautiful, like suddenly noticing a beautiful ornament on the wall or a door made to look like a giant backgammon set, or meeting an old lady that was so loving and kind that she invited me, a stranger, to her house for a tea.

When the winter kicked in, I thought to myself, so how am I going to do this now? I have to admit that getting out of the house wasn’t easy on some of the days. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover the willpower and determination in me that I haven’t noticed before. When I set a goal and I have a plan, I will go out and do it no matter what. And I’m proud of myself for doing this. Another thing that I came to discover is that it’s only the first few minutes when you leave the comfort and warmth of the house or a car that are difficult. After 10-15 minutes body seems to adjust to the temperature outside and it’s not so cold anymore. And the more I build running / walking into a habit, the easier it became.

Isn’t the same process valid for everything else in life? When we have to do something new, something we haven’t done before, it seems scary. In our day-to-day life we often try to run away from problems and challenges. But what if we saw them not as threats, but as opportunities to become wiser and stronger? I saw somewhere that fear was described as False Evidence Appearing Real. So, what if all the things we fear in life, are nothing but illusions that our brain created to keep us ‘safe’ in the comfort zone? But is my purpose here on Earth to be safe? I’m not saying that constantly putting your life at risk is what we all should do, however I want to live and experience this life to the fullest and I don’t want to be captivated by my own fears and limits I put on myself. What about you? Are fears holding you down from doing something you really want in life? Would you like to join me on my endeavor to become fearless, bold, unapologetic me?

Thought of the day: Miracles are just around the corner

Some time ago I saw a beautiful blooming purple tree while driving  in the neighborhood. I really wanted to take a picture for use in one of my future drawings and few days ago we decided to walk there with my Dad. How much was I surprised to find not just one, but so many other purple blooming trees and flowers and even a waterfall built-in the wall of the park.

We took so many beautiful pictures, that now there is enough material for many more paintings and just had a lot of fun.

Spring is so beautiful and I’m living such a happy life and it all starts with gratitude. When you look on the bright side, when you find things to appreciate and be grateful for (and there are plenty in any situation!) and the more you love God and the Universe, the more it loves you back and shows you miracles all around you, that you didn’t see before! ūüôā

Have a fantastic awesome super happy day! I know I’m having one!

Love and light,

Natella

One of "Flame Towers"
One of “Flame Towers”

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Who I am and why I’m here

It’s never too late to make an introduction, is it?

While you may have already found some information in About Me page, I wanted this post to be a little more personal and wanted to give you an overview of my background and my mission.

My name is Natella Mammadova. I was born in Baku, Azerbaijan on November, 1 1986 (01.11.1986). 111 turned out to be a very important number for me, it follows me everywhere throughout my life and you may see it in most of my social media accounts.

Since I can remember myself I was drawn towards arts. I loved reading books and I just couldn’t part with a good book until I read it to the last page, forgetting about food and sleep. I loved writing too and kept online and offline journals throughout my life. I was unconditionally in love with drawing and painting and never missed my art class no matter what the weather was like. I also finished the musical school majoring in piano. And I was part of “Seyyah” dance group and had amazing experience visiting countries like Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey with Azerbaijani national dance performances and we also had many appearances on the national television. I had amazing childhood and I’m very grateful to my parents who made all of this possible.

In 2002-2003 I participated in high school exchange program and spent a year in Parker, Colorado. I loved my time there and having  international experience made a big impact on my life.

Then my life took a totally different direction. When I came back home I entered Azerbaijan State Oil Academy and graduated in 2007 majoring in Economy, International Economic Relations and Management. During my third year at the university, I started working for Procurement and Supply Chain Management department of BP Azerbaijan. I spent 8 years in the corporate world and it felt like I went through survival school. I dreaded going to work each morning because of atmosphere of negativity, rumors and scandals, unfair treatment of locals by expatriate management, incompetent local management and many other problems. But it wasn’t all that bad. I met a lot of wonderful people and made great friends. I received incomparable work experience and training as I always tried to get the best out of every situation.

Sometime in 2009 I watched “The Secret” movie which slowly transformed my life. I cannot say that I was a negative person before, but after watching the movie I went on a journey in pursuit of happiness and self-discovery and I realized how many false beliefs and blocks I had that kept me from living up to my full potential.

At the beginning, the road was hard and bumpy. I changed several workplaces and still couldn’t find a place that I would enjoy. I lost a lot of friends and had some heartbreaks. So many times I felt like I’m a failure and almost gave up. But with the help of God / Universe / Creative Source, as the phoenix rises up from the ashes, I was reborn each time better and stronger.

I’ve read a lot of books and taking in any information available related to self-enrichment, success and personal development and I started this blog to keep all my notes related to this subject online. That way they were with me wherever I went. I decided to keep them public as I thought that others may find the information, links and other things I share useful.

With time the topics I write about expanded to show all of my interests and here are a few of them:

  • Beauty
  • Fashion
  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Psychology
  • Business
  • Personal development
  • Spirituality
  • Technology
  • Design
  • Art
  • Travel

With this blog I would like to build a community of like-minded creative people who also want to live a happy and successful life.

My goal for 2014 РBy 2015 I will build a platform where readers can find daily news on the topics mentioned above and deliver interesting and valuable information for our community of talented artistic and creative leaders.

Together with you I hope to learn, grow and evolve!

Post inspired by WordPress 30 day Challenge.

Bird’s-eye view Azerbaijan

Few days ago I stumbled upon gorgeous bird’s-eye view photos of my homeland, Azerbaijan. It’s truly amazing how familiar places can look so different when you change the angle and your perspective!

Icheri Sheher, Baku
Icheri Sheher, Baku

Images are courtesy of Gapp.az and Bakcell.

Flame Towers, Baku
Flame Towers, Baku

I go to sleep and then I wake up in a strange and beautiful dream. I open my eyes and I see that the sun has lit my room and painted all things in bright colors. There’s so much light everywhere around me! It must be a warm and sunny day. I get up and I walk to the living room. It’s is also illuminated by the light. I open the door and now I’m standing on the porch smelling the flowers and filling the lungs with fresh air.

To this day I never felt this way before! I feel life running through my veins! I see myself as strong and gentle being, passionate and calm at the same time. I’m going with the flow of the Universe, trusting the Divine. I feel lightweight. In fact, I feel so light that I can easily take off the ground and touch the sky, fill the sky and be one with it. In a flash of light, I remember my childhood dreams. I was sitting on the balcony watching birds. How they slowly flap their wings to gain height and then glide so gracefully, so effortlessly, like they are one with the sky.

Is it possible? Can my childhood dream come true? Cautiously I climb on the balcony railing and I feel wings on my back. I spread the wings and I push off the ground. Flying seems so natural! As if I was meant to! As if I always knew how to fly, just haven’t used this gift for a while! Gliding and rising above the trees and roads I watch people, cars and buildings become smaller and smaller.

I head towards the sea. Then I fly above the city. Everything seems so different from above! Then I head even further toward the mountain tops. I watch the rivers and roads framing the beautiful green land. Such a masterpiece! Creator is the greatest artist! Earth as a canvas, I imagine him mixing  colors, letting them flow one onto another, creating steady strokes, carrying over passion and love upon the painting and smiling at the beauty of his creations.

Like an eagle, I swirl effortlessly, one with the wind, I pause only to notice how all the problems, concerns, everything that seemed so large and important is nothing more than a dot in the vast Universe. I remember that infinite happiness I felt when I was a child. I remember my true self, my infinite nature and limitless capabilities. I will wake up from this dream, but I will always remember.

National Flag Square, Baku
National Flag Square, Baku
Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku
Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku
International Mugam Center, Baku
International Mugam Center, Baku
Fountain Square, Baku
Fountain Square, Baku
National Flag Square, Baku
National Flag Square, Baku
Georgian church
Georgian church
Kurkosa island, Neftchala
Kurkosa island, Neftchala
Mingachevir reservoir
Mingachevir reservoir
Ismailli
Ismailli
Kurkosa island, Neftchala
Kurkosa island, Neftchala
Zaqatala
Zaqatala
Nabran
Nabran
Mingachevir reservoir
Mingachevir reservoir
Neftchala lake
Neftchala lake

For more beautiful pictures, please visit azerbaijan.gapp.az

Money Management

Money management is one subject they don’t teach us at schools, but isn’t it one of the most important competencies in life? More and more I see people of different ages that caught themselves in the cage of debt, mortgage and credit card bills not because they’re not paid well enough, but all the result of improper budget planning and spending.

From a first glance at the subject, one might think “Well, what is there really to know about money? Just use common sense. Spend less than you earn!” As easy as it may sound, it’s rather difficult to do that when day and night we’re attacked by media and advertisers everywhere and end up spending all our salaries long before the next paycheck arrives. And then there are those who do manage to save some money, but what do they do with it? Store it under a pillow? Put it in a savings account in the bank? How safe and efficient would that be? What currency should you store your money in? So many questions that need an answer.

My parents lived in an era when they were brainwashed to think of money as the root of all evil and spent their life working and hoping that the government would take care of them when they retire. Little did they know that they soon have to adapt to the new circumstances and they couldn’t teach me much about investments and money handling as they didn’t know much themselves at the time.

In the beginning of my career when I started earning my first money, I had to pay different loans and my ¬†salary was very small and I always struggled from not being able to buy all the things I wanted. Once I started earning ‘real money’ I felt the need to compensate for the ‘tough period’ with excessive shopping. I would implement YOLO (you only live once) money strategy and make investments in expensive clothing and accessories and lots of other non profitable assets. It was all fun and games until one day I was laid-off from my job and I had 8 more months to get out of my car loan.

Then I realized that I was living an¬†illusion of stability and continuous income from my job . Reality is that in our unstable world you just can’t depend on only one source of income. I really wished I made proper investments and savings throughout these years, then I would be in a better place financially. What’s done¬†¬†is done, but I decided to take a whole different approach and educate myself on the subject.

I researched the subject and came to find out different tactics and advice about money management and decided to put together a list of the ones that I found acceptable, easy to follow and test them to see if they really work in real life. So, stay tuned for the future posts with the tips and suggestions.

Replay happy events of your past

I’m naturally very positive and optimistic person (or at least try to be most of the time:) and have read all types of material and doing all kinds of practices related to self-development. However, from time to time when I’m busy doing something rather routine, my brain goes into an auto-pilot mode, takes a negative direction and replays events in my mind that I would rather not remember.

The moment you realize this ‘negative’ movie from the past is on, it is usually too late to turn it off. It looks like the brain searches for similar unpleasant events and shows them at a speed that could really make Google jealous.

Then I got a hint from a sentence I read in the book – “Happy people focus on happy events”. This sounds like a great habit to introduce to the daily routine – Each day to remember one happy event of the past.

If we must return to the past, why not make it positive? And, by the law of attraction, the brain should get used to replaying more of those events in the future.

Thought of the day

You don’t have to agree with everyone and everything you come across, but you can always find something new and meaningful if you look without judgement.