Thursday, January 22, 2015

Blue Eyes, Red Pixi, Healthy Salad, Light Heart

When mama visits, I take her at least once during her stay to Erica for a stylish haircut and good professional color, and all the wonderful service Erica provides. Back home, they can't afford a nice hairdresser - both Mom and Dad are retired with less than modest means for living, so they are always looking for ways to cut corners. Mom's haircut is usually hit and miss, and then she just buys an inexpensive hair color from a store, and her sister colors her hair. That is also hit and miss - for instance, last time the color turned out way too bright for Mom's liking (Anya, her granddaughter, did appreciate it though). So this time, Mom's wish was to make her hair more natural looking, warm brown, sort of honey walnut color as she described it. That was difficult to do, given the bright purplish red Erica had to work with, but I think it turned out pretty well.

Mama surprised me (and Erica too, it seems) when she was willing to go pixi cut and really a short one. "Let's experiment," she said. I know that I get my adventurous spirit mostly from her - she loves changes, she is very creative, she loves moving (if not houses, then furniture - I'm the same way), she loves to explore new stuff. But when it comes to her wardrobe or haircut choices, she is pretty conservative - she goes for what she got used to. I love this cut on her - elegant, but at the same time hip and contemporary.

Girls in the salon were complimenting Mom's eyes. "Her eyes are so blue, it's wild." It's true, she got a very rare deep blue color. I don't think I've ever met anyone with such pure blue eyes - not light blue, not grayish blue, but deep blue blue. She was a great beauty when she was young. People would stare at her. She is uneasy with ageing - I know that wrinkles bother her, and often she wouldn't try new things because she feels she is old. I can't say how I will feel when I am her age. She is 69, it's a long life - I'm just 41, it's so much less compared to her. Less life, less experiences, less difficulties, less many things. But I know that I want to come to terms with myself when I'm her age, preferably earlier - when whatever I have feels just right for me. Wrinkles? Fine. They only show that she is a real person, a woman who lived, laughed, cried, felt, thought, loved, lost... many, many times. I don't think the secret to beauty is flawless skin, no more than the secret to happiness is to live a flawless life. I think it's in acceptance. And in imagination. To accept what is, and imagine what can be.

One thing I want to learn from mama is her art of letting go. She was always like that. I remember as a kid or teen, we would have a fight, then a couple of hours later or whenever I calm down, I'd come to her to say "Mama, forgive me" - and her answer was always the same, no exception - "Nothing to forgive" and "You too". I got it from her, that's how it is between me and my daughter too. I think it's all right to get all emotional - we are emotional creatures, women in general, and women in this family, with a fiery temper, opinionated, independent and stubborn (that's Lialina women for you). But after all, we realize that those are just emotions, changeable, passable, like a storm. And the only thing that matters is that that other person who got caught by your storm, knows that you love her, that those emotions have nothing to do with her, so you say "forgive me", and the only thing that you need to hear back is "nothing to forgive" and "you too" - because really, there is nothing to forgive, and that needs to be mutual.

There are things though which need a little more inner work than a couple of hours - some things take days, months or even years to let go. Those are tough. Everybody has them. There is something or rather some things which are extremely difficult to let go, or forgive - because the truth is, it's the same thing. As long as you let go, you forgive. as long as you forgive, you let go. I asked mama just recently - how to forgive. It's hard, she said. But it's necessary. At first, you just recognize it in your consciousness, you know that you need to forgive. Then your heart accepts, and it becomes easier.

And this is wisdom. When someone comes to acceptance, this is a true genuine wisdom. One can read many smart books and know many smart words, and use them in a way that sounds very impressive. But without acceptance in your heart, all that book wisdom is nothing. I see that she owns it now - I see it from the way she smiles. I don't remember her ever smiling as much and with such child-like innocence. I can tell her heart is light. I used to smile like that all the time. I know that it's still there, it always is. I know that I'll get there. Not by thinking and analyzing. By my willingness to accept, with my heart, not with my brain.

How is this for a change of pace?
I though the colors in this salad go so well with the colors in my scarf.
OK, remember my marinated cabbage (recipe here)? How about making a salad... using another salad. I promise it tastes much better than it sounds! Actually, you can use any other type of pickled cabbage (Russians prepare cabbage with just salt, no vinegar added, and by the process of fermentation it becomes pickled). A quick, easy, healthy and totally vegetarian Russian salad for you.


Boil 1 medium size beetroot, 3-4 medium carrots, 3-4 medium potatoes. Make sure they are cooked through, but still firm. Cool. Peel. Cut into small cubes (about 1 cm or less).
Cut pickles (my favorite kind is gherkins) into small cubes as well.
Now add some marinated cabbage (or other type of pickled cabbage).
Add onions if needed (my marinated cabbage already contains onions).
Mix it well. 

My cabbage salad already has enough "salad dressing" in it, so I don't add anything. In case you need, it's really simple to make:

0.5 cup of white vinegar
0.5 cup of vegetable oil (use sunflower oil, it will be authentic then)
1 ts of salt
2 tbs of sugar
minced garlic (to taste)
black pepper

Now you see why we actually call this salad "vinaigrette" (винегрет) - by the name of the dressing of course. Sometimes people add green peas, boiled egg or pickled herring to it - but it's totally optional.

Haircuts by Erica
Wisdom from Mom
Recipe from me
Photos by Justin



  1. I see two beauties side by side, looking towards the future together...both with chic hair styles! Could they be related? ;-) xo JJ

  2. You are so blessed to still have your mother to glean from. I lost my mother when I was 29. I had just married. I had no children. Not a day passes that I don't wish she was here. So many questions that need answers, so many days that I miss her laugh, her gentle spirit. Your mom's hair color is lovely.

  3. wonderful my dear! we can so much learn from the lialina girls!
    lately a wise man (at the radio i think) said " if you don´t let go - you don´t have your hands free...."
    your mom is still beautiful - not only because of her classic beauty facial features - its her radiation, that warm, wise smile all over the face! you inherited that!
    exactly yesterday i lusted after a pickled potato salad - without the beetroot of cause :-) but no "gürkchen" in the house. have to buy some glasses for storage in the cellar, if appetite hits again....
    hugs! xxxxx

  4. What a lovely post. It is so sweet you have the same haircut.


  5. You're such a sweet daughter and both of your cuts and colors are fantastic. I love that color and use to do that for years. Now I have so much grey it got harder to fight the grow out.
    I think they make those boxed home haircolor kits unpredictable on purpose so you make mistakes and have to go to a professional. I've done that so many times. I even came out with a black and orange tiger stripe once. Now sure how I did that. I think it's dentists who invented Halloween to increase business too. haha!

    I'm loving that scarf of yours so so much!!

  6. and your paragraph on wisdom is just beautiful. I'll be reading it more than once!

  7. You and your Mama are just beautiful! your Mum's hair is awesome, her blue eyes really are dazzling. Our Mum's are the same age! I think my Mum's beauty has increased with her age, she is 5 foot tall and an absolute tower of strength, I agree with you, forgiveness is so important, necessary even otherwise we are stuck in a bitter cage, not good - I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! x x x

  8. I love seeing you and your mum together - two beautiful women! Your mum's hair looks fantastic, and I am laughing about the passionate, fiery Lialina women... I think we may be a little like that in our household too! But yes, it's true - after a blow-up, all that's needed for rapprochement is "I'm sorry" and "It's OK".
    I adore this post - the sweet words, and Justin's wonderfully affectionate photos. I want to hug you all! xxxx

  9. You and your mom look like elegant ladies, but so contemporary in your new hair styles! I think you mom must have eyes with a violet tone in them, my favorite, and yes, a RARE color. But your eyes, a beautiful, too, and I see where you will continue to age very well.
    I agree about an accepting attitude, in general, and for health and vanity reasons, too.
    We can push to be our best selves, butt hen must graciously accept and enjoy who we are!
    Love the recipe, too, and the colors, do match!!
    xx, Elle

  10. Natalia,
    I am amazed by those portraits! Did your Anna do the first one at age 7, do i understand correctly?
    Your brother's portrait is so accomplished and has such a great whimsical- fantasy vibe to it.
    I will read more, i think i just read that he has illustrated for you, so i will catch up on that this weekend!
    so much talent in that gorgeous family of yours!
    xx, elle

  11. Sometimes I am jealous, Natalia, how wonderful you can express yourself through writing. What a great post! I guess I
    am in process of becoming wisdom-er because I've started to accept things, see them in a more philosophical way. Sometimes it is not easy but you realize that it is the only way to be happy, to be in peace with yourself. You both look great together, mom and daughter. Enjoy your time together!

  12. Natalia such a beautiful written piece underscored by the love and admiration you and your mother share, accompanied by wonderful shots of you both. Tell your mother her hair style and colour are so lovely on her and to never worry about the lines on her face they are part of her beauty ,each one telling its own story. I can tell she has passed her wisdom on to you,you are indeed wise beyond your years. I know you are enjoying every moment of your parents visit and I thank you for allowing us to share too. XX

  13. You are very similar to your mom. Seeing the two of you I'd momentarily guess you're related. Your mom's colour is really nice.
    Acceptance has a magic influence on our life and I can't even picture life stripped of imagination. I also think letting go is important but sadly not so very easy to me either. I'm still learning:) My grandma was like your mom. She'd let things go easily. No need to cry over spilled milk cuz what happened happened.
    Mmmmm, I love marinated cabbage but mine is a little different, as after shredding I leave it sprinkled with salt for a while, then I hit it for a long time with mortar beater so it produces more juice. Traditionally one would step on it, but that's kinda too hardcore for me, when I think of all the dead skin left on my precious food:D
    Then it goes to jars and fermentates for a few days ocasionally being poked thru with wooden spike to release gases. After that it's ready to sit in the fridge. Covered with juice and in cold place it can be kept for like a year or so. Sometimes I marinate cabbage itself and sometimes with shredded carrot. It tastes awesome fried with apple and bay leaf and also in salads, pierogi etc:)
    Your cabbage salad looks very yummy and it is so healthy. I love the recipe and will definetely use it.
    I coundn't not comment on your scarf:) It is absolutely great! xxxxx

  14. How did I miss this post? I don't know but at least I eventually got here. You and your mum looks so beautiful and mum's pixie cut is just great! It really suits her, I think and yes those blue eyes sure are amazing! Not many people have true blue, and what gets called blue is often more of a grey colour. I am a furniture mover too. I used to love rearranging my bedroom when I was a little girl. I don't like to move house often though. I do like to grow roots and settle in. I have a deep tap root like a rose, though with careful digging it is possible to move me. ;-)

    I have always struggled with the term 'forgive' more than the actual concept. I am actually a very forgiving person and perhaps almost too easily forgive, excuse and accept behaviour I should not put up with. But the word forgive to me means "it is okay what you did" so there are people and behaviours I have not forgiven because it was not okay. I do move on though, get past it or put it aside or just say well that is how so and so behaved because that is who so and so is. Doing this, was one of the reasons I stayed too long in a bad marriage. It's a complicated thing, this forgiveness, whatever we choose to call it. Everything that happens to us helps to shape us so for this reason we can appreciate and even thank our enemies, the people how hurt us, but in that case I am talking about the big things. In every day life, as human beings we bump around, we make mistakes and we accidentally hurt each other and that is exactly the right time for saying 'there is nothing to forgive' because then it is true. There is love, there is understanding and the little dramas are too little to let them have too great an impact.

    The cabbage salad looks delicious! I would add seeds, I think. I love seeds in a salad and it seems like it would suit poppy seeds or maybe toasted sesame seeds. Now I need my personal chef to whip up some salad for me. xoxo

  15. Your Mum sounds a wonderful person and she is beautiful! How nice that you treat her to a lovely haircut and colour!x

  16. Hi Natalia, I was listening to a Philosophy Bites podcast recently on Forgiveness but I think you summed up the entire podcast more eloquently in your post. Your mum's hair looks beautiful and how lovely to be able to treat her to a cut and colour while she visits you. I love your crochet scarf, those colours are gorgeous on you. Fabulous photos of you and your mum xx

  17. Oh, I absolutely LOVE that first photo of you and your mom, dearest could be a "professional" portrait!! Justin did well!! :) How wonderful to have your mom stay with you for a while; I think the sharing of memories and wisdom that you mention is something that becomes more and more precious as the years pass!! P.S. Please give her "two thumbs up" from me for her new haircut and colour...she looks terrific!! XOXO