Hey! My name is Olesya Novikova.
I am a writer and retreat organizer from Russia.
Here you will find the English version of some selected articles about conscious change. All the texts are based on my own explorations and discoveries, which I have painstakingly mined out from the depths of my soul.
The idea to translate them came when I received requests from my Russian-speaking readers who were living abroad and wanted to share the texts with their non-Russian friends.
I ruminated on the possibility for a very long time. All my prose carries within it the Russian soul and I don’t know how much my examples will ring true for people with different mentalities. But, finally I am on.
Now it all depends on you – I would be grateful for any click here.
Behind the scenes
The project “Create yourself anew” is my answer to the incessant question WTF?, that kept appearing in my life no matter where I turned.
- Why can’t I just enjoy having a stress-free job and a stress-free life?
- Why don’t I want to spend my whole life working in the same place, even though I have some perfectly fine options?
- Why do I generally not want to work for someone else on someone else’s schedule?
- Why don’t I want to live on an island in south-east Asia?
- Why don’t I like the idea of a travelling life, even though the possibility is open to me?
- Why is it that when people engage in business for the sake of business, and do something purely for the sake of profit, I see it as slavery?
- Why did I find it so soul-destroyingly boring when I didn’t work for nearly a year, even though I was swimming in the ocean every day and living on savings in the most paradisical place on earth?
- Why can’t I find a soulmate?
- Why am I not happy “just because”?
- Why, at the end of the day, can I not just chill out?
Don’t be too hasty with your diagnosis, my friends. These are all just examples of honesty with oneself, applied to my own life experience. When one comes up against these questions, one option is to do what is known as “superficial positive thinking” and try to convince yourself that everything in your life is perfect and wonderful just as it is.
“Count your blessings. There are people with much less than you.”
But this cannot result in anything close to genuine zest for life, nor does it answer the questions listed above. It is like burying your head in the sand and demanding happiness from yourself. If you try to force it, in reality you’re just pretending to be happy, and wearing a mask that doesn’t really fit.
Alternatively, you could content yourself with “normal” dreams such as “a little house by the sea with my partner”. While this might be a wonderful experience for a couple of months’ vacation, in no way does it address these questions: what are you going to do with all the pent-up energy that is bubbling away inside you and raising these questions? What are you going to do with your skills, opportunities, talents? With your ambitions, finally?
I found a different path for myself. Perhaps it is not always as carefree as I would like, but there is no substitute; no instant happiness from a powdered sachet. It is the conscious process of perpetual creation, based on a profound understanding of yourself and your true aspirations, as well as full personal responsibility for everything that happens. It is the realization of your potential to the maximum in all spheres of life.
If you want more, you want more. Don’t just gloss over your internal conflict by making compromises in your life. Ask yourself a lot of uncomfortable questions and dig down to the truth: what makes you happy, what work do you want to do and with whom, and most importantly, who do you actually want to be?
It is impossible to find yourself; you can only create yourself.
It is your choice to make. You can choose to create yourself and your experiences.
Once while I was living in Nepal, I was fortunate enough to discuss cosmic topics with an Indian Hindu. I am sorry to say it was not a highly enlightened 100-year-old wise man who saw the light on the remote foothills of the Himalayas. I understand that it would be easier to believe someone like that. But, let’s be honest. It was in fact in the foothills of the Himalayas – in a trendy Italian restaurant. And the man was a very handsome and successful Bollywood actor, who was around 30 years old. Our conversation turned to karma.
“Tell me, do you believe in karma?” I asked, knowing that this was a leading question. I already knew that all Hindus believe in karma and the cycle of reincarnation, I just wanted to bring it up. He was very open to discussing it.
“Of course! It is the basis of our lives!” was his response.
“So what happens in our lives now depends on actions from past lives, right?”
“Why past lives? That is an entirely different question. I am talking about karma in this life, which is understood as:
Today is the result of yesterday’s actions and thoughts, and tomorrow is the result of today’s.”
We are creating ourself and our experiences everyday, every second and even, to be precise, every millisecond.
Not only when we make our New Year’s resolutions, or make drastic changes like moving to another country. Not only when we do (or don’t do) exercise, or when we have a child. But always. Every moment.
So could it be time to stop replaying your past experiences over and over again? Stop reprinting a copy of “yesterday’s self” if it didn’t make you happy yesterday, or last year or even (gasp!) last decade?
Could it be time to remember that it is utter madness to expect change when you’re doing the same things day in, day out?
Could it be time to finally create yourself anew?
And this time do it consciously, with a profound understanding of your true aspirations, taking full personal responsibility for everything that happens.
Who is this girl?
Some facts from my biography.
16 years old – I get my first job selling cassettes in a market.
18 years old – As a student I go through a competitive selection process and land a job as a tour guide and interpretor in a company that organizes tours to the Valley of Geysers in Kamchatka, where I grew up. I work all summer, leading tours in Russian and English, and at the end of the season the helicopter containing me and thirty tourists crashes on take off. We fall into the forest, the windscreen smashes, the blades break, and the fuel tank is hit. The news reports it as an “emergency landing in which no one was hurt”.
A few days later a colleague asks: “I bet your mother will never let you fly again, right? Are you still on the rota?” I call my mother. Her answer: “I think it’s essential that you do fly again so that you aren’t afraid of flying for the rest of your life”.
And one has to understand that braveness is not the absence of fear but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear.
This wisdom has stayed with me throughout my life: don’t confuse fears of the mind with fear of genuine danger. The majority of human fears do not have any connection to real-life danger, but are simply a product of the morbid wanderings of the mind.
I continued to work until the end of the season. I still love flying.
19 years old – I finish college with excellent marks. I get two job offers, one from a tourism agency and one from a local newspaper, as a sales agent. Everybody recommends that I go into tourism, but I choose the newspaper. I become the manager of sales in a local weekly paper. I only get paid in commissions. I actively study the art of sales and marketing. After a few months I am earning more than most people I know, parents included.
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
The ability to listen to oneself is as important as the ability not to listen to others when making important life decisions.
21 years old – The head of the department leaves and puts me forward for the role. No one believes in me (too young!), but, when it comes to it, the big bosses have no choice. I have already worked there for 3 years and I am good at my job. Besides, there are no other candidates in mind for the position. I become manager of the marketing department for two weekly papers.
22 years old – In my first year my department breaks the record for monthly revenue twice. I go to Thailand over Christmas and New Year. On the penultimate day of my stay, on the beach of one of the nearby islands, I am struck with a thought: “Why not go travelling on my own? For six months, say?”
If you fear change, you risk living without it
23 years old – Six months of extra hard work, painstaking study online, and the accumulation of funds. Dismissing people’s general reactions of: “And then what?”, in September 2007 I embark on my solo trip around Asia, from China to Borneo. No travel companions. I set off alone.
24 years old – I return home six months later. I bring back China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Borneo, working as a tour guide, hundreds of acquaintances and thousands of stories. I proceed to write a book about my six-month solo trip around Asia.
25 years old – A publishing house accepts my manuscript for publication. “The Call of the Orient” appears in shops around the country and is sold online. I work in Moscow, then Thailand, return to Kamchatka, then leave for Nepal.
Everything in life is possible, and simpler than it seems
26 years old – I am living in Nepal, travelling and writing. This is when I first start to communicate with myself, instead of just the outside world. On New Year’s Eve 2009 I sign up for a course in Vipassana meditation and spend 10 days in total silence in a forest on the slopes of the Himalayas. This same year I travel to Bali and decide to move there. I get a job as the Russian representative in a five-star hotel that is about to open. I work in the preparation team, developing the hotel.
27 years old – At the end of the contract I leave my job and start doing online freelancing: copywriting, journalism, blogging, online marketing ideas.
It’s time to make a switch: work online, live in reality. No more working in reality, and living online
28 years old – Another total turnaround. A breakup, half a year of heartache, and the decision to change everything. Goodbye tropics, hello Moscow. Goodbye searching for myself, hello creating myself.
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself
29 years old – I burn my bridges overnight and turn down all work offers (after a year and a half of freelancing in online journalism and copywriting with regular customers), knowing that this is the only way for me to begin my project. I start re-self.ru, I begin to create myself anew.
Nothing lights up your path forward like the burning of bridges behind
30 years old – Over 100 articles on the website, more then 100,000 subscribers across all channels (in total). Readers literally everywhere. Surprisingly, a significant portion of visitors to the site are Russians living abroad.
“Call of the Orient” is published in a new edition. The editor doesn’t even mind that I was distributing the book for free for several years. There follows new offers of book deals from almost all the top publishers in Russia. I give a talk on “How to find your purpose” for TEDx Kaliningrad.
With vague ideas about my future development, I am musing on the possibility of travelling with a companion, when I meet Misha. This partnership results in the birth of the project “Come back different”, and love. Or rather, love first. Then the creative meeting of two freedom-loving minds. Though we make no coherent plan of how to work together (who exactly is in charge here?), or even be together, we discover a self-evidently pure way of life: total transformation and rejuvenation in retreats. It became impossible not to realize this philosophy, despite the problems that arose with the fall in the rouble in the very exact month.
If you are able not to write – don’t write
(c) A writers’ mantra
I write, I do, I love.
30+ – A hugely productive time. “Come back different” is gaining momentum. The project is re-conceptualized, the website is updated several times, the first programmes are organized, contracts are arranged with a retreat centre, the schedule for the year is announced. The project is absolutely official from the outset. We receive our first participants, first feedback and first stop sales – most of the retreats are fully booked several months in advance (and some for six months). People trust us. It’s working. We exhale.
We inhale. We decide to be not just a beautiful business, but a modern one too. After our third attempt to explain to the bank what a retreat actually is (not being tourism or education in any strict sense), we pass all safety checks and are finally able to receive online card payments for the convenience of our participants. Victory! Not even technology can limit us now. This is innovation! We decide to go for completely virgin territory for the yoga tours and retreats: the Maldives. We create the infrastructure on the island from nothing. Just because we like it there. The first retreat is announced for May 2016.
As for re-self.ru, my thoughts have finally taken form. The site has had a much-needed revamp thanks to Israeli artist Avita Flit who does the illustrations for the articles.
And at the end of this year, as a birthday present, a new website is launched: “A World without Complaint”, which details habits for a healthy and conscious life.
33 years old – Here and now. I’m changing the world, starting with myself.