A story worth sharing

Amazing people! Last week I said to myself “Boy, you need something new in your life!” So I signed up for an online Storytelling course. Apparently there’s this big MOOC (massive open online course) trend on the internet, and modern universities from every corner of the world creates these huge community based courses, involving video lessons, weekly assignments and NO GRADES! How fun is that? I always wondered how these courses look or even feel like. I sure had my boring moments when was a student. Heck,  I never thought that one day I’ll feel the urge to sign up for something educational. Yet here I am! I must be getting old…  Homework again. Yey. fun!

So I decided to share my homework with you during the whole experience. I believe this thing will bring cool reads on the blog so you, my beloved readers, could stay a little bit more with me. “Oh, Norbert. You’re such a fox!” And this week I am supposed to share one of my favorite stories. And there are so many!

First of all, I want to encourage you to be out there, in the wilderness, and always learn. Never be afraid of the new, embrace your passions, your true self and make a life out of the things you enjoy. There are no regrets! Life is too short so don’t stay around things that don’t make you happy. Turn the page and let yourself loose. Grab the stuff you need in life and most important, inspire the ones who follow you. We have the essentials, our health and talents. We are one of a kind! So let us be who we want to be and change the world!

Call me selfish but I feel like writing about how I discovered my passion for writing.

I want to tell you a story of how a little boy called Norbert discovered his first true passion by playing computer games. Here’s a story of self-discovery, a story about destiny and how each and everyone of us has a mission to fulfill and a path to ride.

Let’s go back in 2004. We’re in my hometown, Arad. A beautiful yet small city from the western part of Romania. Easily described as a street, thanks to its center formed by, you guessed, a boulevard. So we zoom in and in, traveling through the city’s districts till we reach this one window of a small house, situated right after the Mureș, a river that breaks Arad in two pieces. And what do we see? A chubby little boy unpacking his brand new computer, an early birthday present from his folks.

He had a PC once before but it stopped working many years ago. Norbert had his first machine back in 1998, a very old and slow IBM system that barely ran cool games.  This is how he fell in love with the virtual world and grabbed his lifetime want. The desire of becoming a mad scientist, inventing robots in his secret laboratory, raising an empire of iron men and taking over the world. Quite a mastermind, I must say!

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I remember this time when my parents had these guests. My mom’s brother, his wife and their beloved daughter. There was this application where you could use all sorts of special characters or symbols. So what did our little boy think? That this so called app is a fortune teller. You type in your name in the empty space and it will be automatically transformed into a group of symbols representing important life events of the owner. They were terrified! Especially when some letters turned into skulls.

So, on Norbert’s 14th birthday, thanks to the latest addition, a brand new computer, he gets a very special present from one of his close friends. Four CDs that soon will change they boy’s life forever.

Even today, it still stays as a symbolic gift in my life.

So what was on those shinny disks, you may ask? Well it was only the best life simulator in the world! The one with the green plumbobs floating and spinning over the heads of these strange yet very colorful virtual people.

At first he just played around, killed a few of ’em. He found the Grim Reaper a very interesting person. Gradually, the game grew on him. He even made a replica of himself inside the game. That’s when the killing stopped!  Then he threw the little virtual fella inside of  one of those small studios where everything important is in one room, which later needed a job to pay the bills, a better life. He had standards! A mate, He seamed lonely! A car. felt right! And a family for the extra cash flow.

A whole  world in Norbert’s hands! Opportunities, decisions and endless possibilities. For example, a five star chef having a carnivorous plant as a pet, feeding it with fellow neighbors or an entrepreneur with the biggest toy store in town, or a vampire with a secrete laboratory, building an army… An army of brainless zombies. Not impressed? How about an alien invasion? A secret club of pregnant men or the classic cat burglar, owner of nine cats? But no, it was too mainstream for him. Norbert preferred his virtual self as town’s mayor. And this is how the newspaper came up. This is how the first chapters got written on a piece of paper, this is how he started to write.

At first, a never ending bio of his little character, about his actions and goals. The  the drama and the gossip. A certain wive and her secret lovers, children with super power, the accident that killed that certain wife, then witchcraft and even business management for dummies. There was a whole Norbertopedia on his desk.

For about four years it went on and on. Norbert even built his own city and controlled every little detail. Stories became bigger and better, yet never shared with others. Even if he spread the virus to his cousin and talked endlessly about their experience on Sundays, while attending their weekly family dinner, the boy’s stories became so big that somehow they needed to boom and see the light.

Things changed in 2009. The third installment of the game was released. The boy became an adult and a student who decided to bring his experience and share his talent with the world. So he got the new game, once again as a birthday gift, and started fresh by returning to the origins of his main character, himself, again, where he met new passions. Passions like photography and photo editing. At one point he delivered weekly stories, bigger ones, better, involving the game’s community. New friends appeared, looking forward to see what happens with their favorite characters. His name became quite popular!

So here we are, in 2013, pushing even further. With a blog!  Writing no more about a virtual world or a character that I invented but about my actual life, my deepest thoughts and ways of inspiring the ones who follow. That one character I once built out of sticks and stones, has come alive.  So alive that it actually replaced the one sitting all those nights in front of a screen. I became the Norbert I’ve perfected so many years in a game!

And I’m telling this story because it’s the core of my existence, the reason I am here writing with such passion. Because of a simple game that brought up my talent. A simple present, offered as a toy to chew, became an actual gift of life. I’m telling this story as an encouragement of following your passions, of building a life around your passions. And Why? Because 9 years later you’ll look back and say “Gosh, I grew so much!” and you’ll do way more than any other person who prefers to live a life surrounded by unwanted things. I am saying that you won’t play a game just to loose time, you’ll play to create, to push your limits and to assimilate new things. And also, to have fun! Now tell me, are you creating, pushing, learning and having fun in the same time in your daily activities, especially at work? If yes, then I’m proud of you. If not, there’s always a start. And better start now!

I dedicate this story to my childhood buddy who gave me a copy of The Sims 2 back in the summer of 2004. Thank you for bringing me on such a beautiful path. I’ll forever be grateful!

A different kind of Flash Mob!

Last week, me and my awesome team of volunteers organized a Free Hugs campaign and today, with the same group, we organized a flash mob.

This so called “flash mob” is a very trendy activity happening in almost every city in the world. You gather around with your friends in a public place and create a random act for a short period of time. It may look seemingly pointless but their purpose is to entertain, shock or to send a certain message.

From my experience, there are three classic acts. One involving dancing, one sleeping and the one we did, a freeze (But I heard obout the Spaghetti and “Drop the Beat”). Search on YouTube for inspiration or create your unique activity. They are always fun and memorable! Mostly used for its team buildings purpose but also, as a marketing tool.  Many companies resort to them as event openers and attention grabbers. Yet most important, they deliver your message!

A message shaped after each person’s mindset.

For example, our movement was formed by two parts. One theatrical, where the participants took roles in three activities: an engagement proposal, two girls fighting for a man and a heart attack, followed by the second part, the freeze. The STOP that brings your attention to the scene.

And you  solve the puzzle, You take it as random, silly event or a symbolic acts, transformed into a personal message.

Check out the video and I’ll tell you more after.

You saw complete strangers ran directly to the fallen guy to offer their help. That was so unexpected and so beautiful!

For me, this flash mob meant the following: The proposal as a sign of stepping out of my comfort zone, the fight as a sign of neglect, of unresolved issues, and the heart attack,  the sing of my health and taking better care of myself. How about you?

See, that’s the beauty of  a it! Its artistic value, its simplicity and hidden meaning. Plus how the public reacts, how they’ll instantly take out their phones and prepare their cameras while looking scared, shocked or amazed. OR! Jumping right in the middle of the scene, trying to help! I was shocked today, and I was part of it!

So. Come on, join the fun. Call your friends and make your own flash mob. Organize it, promote it and share it with the world!

Understanding Me

Here’s a piece of me. So I was talking to my parents a couple of weeks ago and they were complaining about my passion for volunteering or, how they call it: “working for free”.

You see, back in my childhood, when I was going through middle school, I wasn’t at all the kid you could be proud of. I had a massive collection of low grades. I was introverted, bullied and called all sorts of things.  I hated school at its core. So I ditched a major part of the 5th and the 6th year, I missed more that 30% of each semester, without my parents knowing. I was a mess!

The sun started to shine on my street with the end of the sixth grade and the years after. Somehow I woke up from whatever I went through and I became better and better. Yet, at the end of the 8th grade, I didn’t pass an important exam. Which was practically the end of my education. No high school, no college. No dreams!

So of course, my parents signed me up in a low education system, in a school I never heard of and a class of kids who could barely read. My parents were ashamed of me so they hid everything they could from the rest of the family. I lost my dignity and all my friends. Who would hang out with a looser like me, right? I ended up alone, with a self-esteem of an omelet. I felt like I was a burden to all.

I hit the bottom!

But I picked up all my pieces short time after and built a new foundation, without masks. I accepted myself, the way I was and took anything the universe threw at me. I started school, didn’t miss a class and had nothing but high grades. Short time after I become class president and school representative. Then, after one year, I took the exam again and passed it. I said yes to any opportunity, I went out of my comfort zone and this is how I discovered the world of volunteering. I worked my ass of so I could get a second chance. So I could feel important and show the world that I deserved that second chance!

I went through dozens of projects in high school.  From small presentations to cleaning the streets of my city. I learned how to be responsible, how to understand and work with other kids. And most of all, I learned to easily accept the new and adapt to it. I had friends in every part of the city, everybody liked me and enjoyed spending time with me thanks to my ambition and energy.  Even more! I traveled abroad for the first time, by plane, to Italy and for free. Plus, made friends from every European country, and all these thanks to being a volunteer.

Look at me today: I finished college, I studied abroad, I write and create my own projects. I have friends from every corner of the world, I have a job and every now and then I get to travel for free, to be part of something that resolves an issue in a community, a country and perhaps one day, the whole world! I get to know wonderful people just like you everyday, to learn new things and create amazing memories.

Tell me, was I really working for free? Cause I feel like I’m working for me, to become a better me, a new me. All the time!

My life, this whole transformation is thanks to being a volunteer and the people who believed in me, encouraged me and pushed me to be better. For saying yes to things, for having the guts to get out of the comfort zone and accepting what the universe is giving. And I am damn grateful for that! Truly thankful for everything I have, and hope that one day I’ll be able to repay the world! For giving me this second chance. To leave something behind, to change the world. So open your ears and listen: It’s never too late and there’s always a second chance. For me, for you, for anyone. Now is the perfect time to grab it!

Hug me now!

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Who thought that one day I’ll get the chance to organize something abroad?! Heck, I’m still paralyzed by what happened. I honestly can’t believe what this event actually turned out to be!

First of all, you know, at first I was scared. I didn’t know how people will react! Because we are foreigners, we don’t know their language and the whole process had to be in English. But wow! It was one of the best activities I have ever organized! The Bulgarians were so friendly! Some of them were running towards us just to get a hug. And everyone smiled! They were really open and very happy that we did this activity.

Love you, Bulgaria and all your warm hugs!

So today, in the capital of Bulgaria, me and eight volunteers gave over five hundred free hugs in about ninety minutes. Ninety minutes full of positive energy, proactivity and sincere smiles. I am so happy and so grateful for the amazing people who invested their time and energy to help me organize this event. Thank you for being part of my life, thank you for believing in me and hope that you had fun and that you’ll continue to work with me in the upcoming weeks!

Now, this is the fifth Free Hugs campaign I’ve organized so far. And for those who didn’t hear about these so called free hugs, I’ll explain you right now in a few words. It’s very easy to organize! Start alone or invite a couple friends (as many as possible), create a “Free Hugs” sign for each and show them off while walking through crowded areas of your city (the university is always a great place to start). Smile, be friendly, open, and start “selling” your hugs!

It’s an amazing activity! There are no words that could describe the things you feel during a hug. And you know that! The happiness, the warmth and that smile and the end, or that sincere “Thank you!” it’s priceless, Believe me. Priceless!

Imagine yourself walking on the street, thinking about unfinished things, problems. In a hurry, while missing a beautiful day, the sun and pretty much, the world around you. But then! A hug from a stranger?! What is this? And then, suddenly, all your negative thoughts go away! All you think is how, out of nowhere, you got a hug. A simple hug. From a total stranger. How awesome is that, right!?

This is why I keep making these Free Hugs campaigns. Because we change by simply giving a couple of hugs, by becoming friendlier. And those few seconds, I believe that we change the world a little bit!

This is life, my dear friends. We’re all together in this one and we should all live fully as possible. Because life is indeed wonderful!

A thing or two about Leadership

It’s been almost two months since I’m in Bulgaria, in charge of 12 amazing volunteers. And sometimes, I feel like a father. Always thinking of them; if they are OK, if they are having a great experience or, Christ forbid! If they did something bad. Yet, thanks to them and to the overall experience, I feel more connected to myself and the flare inside me. I’m closer to my vision and feel the power circling through my veins like a leader by origin.

Some say there are two kinds of rulers in this world. The ones born with what it takes and the ones who work hard to become close enough to be one.

I believe that success is part of our DNA, that we’re here to make a change. That we came to Earth with a mission. I feel this ambitious aura of motivation around us, fueling the people, helping them to become better and stronger. Helping them accept who they are and overcome their fears.

A couple of things I learned from Sofia so far. I learned to understand my crew, to see what they see, to listen and to be more connected to my feelings.

Thanks to this experience here, in Bulgaria, I added more courage to my guts, so I could speak up more often, I learned to apologize, to be closer and warmer to my friends. Also, to be grateful for the ones who follow me, to share my experience and success with them.

A leader has to be always thankful for what he or she has, to build new tools to help the ones around and to bring them closer to their dreams, wants and wishes.

Our goal is to not just lead a way but to also pave a path. And building a road is way better than managing a highway!

Not Religious But…

Religion, humanity’s finest troublemaker, is a subject I usually don’t want to get involved. I’m a spiritual being. I believe there’s someone up looking down and making sure every little thing works the way it should. Yet I don’t really understand the whole Christian part, the churches, and the bibles. OK, the churches are beautiful, believe me, these are the first things I visit in any country. They are filled with culture, talent and mystery. I adore them. But the rest? Why being afraid? Why living by the writings of a book? Why the limitation?

Believing in God or something bigger than you is good. It’s something that connects you to your core. It makes you a better person. I believe in God and I love Him very much. I am grateful everyday for all the amazing things He gave and helped me to achieve. He makes me spiritually connected to my soul and the universe. I know that, somehow I can communicate with Him and ask for the things I  need in life, even if it’s a brand new chapter or a simple object. It’s different from praying, really!

I ask for things. Things like being healthy, happy and lucky. A better tomorrow, a stronger self, more motivation and ambition… And then I thank. I’m grateful for everything I have. Thankful for my friends and family, for my amazing parents, my room, clothes, healthy body and job. Sometimes I feel like telling God how thankful  I am for being able to see, write, hear, listen to music, talk or walk. Heck, I’m grateful for the smallest things our body do every second so we could enjoy whatever we’re doing!

This is my religion. To thank, to want and to just live as happy as possible!

I met so many people, so involved with their connection with God or their religion. Most of them didn’t care about their own lives or their personal journey. I couldn’t imagine living a defined life, being limited by a handful of rules and an image made by the church. The worst part is that we tend to share our limited vision with our children. We teach them things without the encouragement of a personal discovery or the choice of learning what they would actually enjoy.

I don’t  believe that God would want us to limit ourselves from knowledge or from power. I think he wants us to live our lives, the gift He gave to each of us, the way we want. At our own best. At least this is how I feel. My life is a gift, so I want to be a gift to the world, to leave something behind, something that will help the others live even better or at least to understand more of why we’re here.

A Friend Like You

Here’s a thing or two about friendship. You see, I’m one of those people who make friends easily. So many, they become chapters, small fractures of my life. A minute you’re my closest friend, you feel like you are really connected to me, like your’re the brother I always wanted. We’re burning time together till I meet another one just like you. Then you become my second life, the one I no longer have time for. And later on, things get weird and then we’re more or less, a thing of  the past.

Quite a bad quality of mine, I admit. But for those, close ones, reading this, I promise you, don’t need to worry, I’m trying to change since a while now. I’m working on improving my relationship skills, to understand and to accept all of those around me. To discover even more about what a long therm friendship really could be.

I believe this trait of mine developed thanks to those constant changes in my childhood. Moving from one neighborhood to another, loosing my one best friend and making a new one right after. It’s like my heart reaches one point of a relationship and then it stops, and waits for a new one to start.

But now, in my twenties, things are starting to change. I begin to see friendships as spiritual connections and business opportunities. I see these locks forming between me and you. A connection I can define and cherish, not like the ones in the past.

You know, I had this dream once. A dream of forming my own FRIENDS (the TV show) or HIMYM crew. Having my five besties, growing old together and going through dramas and shit. Maybe because I don’t have a brother or a sister, and with this, of course, the fear of growing old alone and not being able to share things with someone, to be happy for them or to help each other. I want to be someone’s person, you know! But I think I found that someone, and I’m looking at that person right now. My dear best bud, the coolest bud I could ever wish for.

And I’m grateful for you, being around for so many years, growing up together, sharing so many activities and secrets. I love you! Hope you know that. And you’re a great friend, the best one I could ever find!

This symbolic lock we have between us is indestructible, at least my part of it.

And with these words put into the world I would like to also add that during my past chapters, I met many amazing friends, especially the ones I think of right now, the one I share a tattoo with, the one I see as a sister, I will never forget you and for sure, my dearest friends, you’ll forever be part of my life.

I am grateful for all of you taking part of my journey, being my mates, teaching me many beautiful things and especially gifting me with a life, a wonderful life!

I love you all!