Book Party in NYC: Carmen Harra, Wholeliness, Wisdom, Champagne and Wonderful People

It’s been said that things that are meant to happen will happen no matter what. This was the case with our friendship with bestselling author Carmen Harra. Our connection goes back to 2010 when we introduced her to our project The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom and she happily participated in it.

Book Party Invitation

Another thing that was meant to happen was our first trip together to Canada. On a Sunday afternoon Matthew and I were packing our bags to go on a 5-day adventure to Montreal. From there we were supposed to drive home through Vermont and New Hampshire to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones. Right before our departure I connected with Carmen who told me that in just a few days (Friday) she was having a Book Launch Party for her new book Wholeliness in NYC and that she’d like us to join her there and talk about our book.

Montreal was amazing! The food, streets, history, views and atmosphere made it so charming, yet its most valuable asset is its friendly people. Needless to say our time in Montreal was fantastic yet it came to an end on Friday morning when we had to start driving back to New York City to join the Book Party. After 7 hours of driving, a speeding ticket and a stop at the house to put on our celebration clothes, we arrived in NYC. Nearly 100 people welcomed us at the Morgane Le Fay boutique on Madison Avenue where the book party took place.

Bubbly Champagne, delicious dessert, photographs snapped to memorialize the moments (to see the pictures from the event click here), television crews, books and beautiful people made the evening a wonderful one. We were all there to celebrate Wholeliness and Wisdom. While Carmen explained how we must embrace Wholeliness to transcend this challenging era and foster unconditional fulfillment in our lives, Matthew and I talked about the role wisdom plays in overcoming these interesting times; how it is very important to reconnect to our inner wisdom and also the wisdom of our ancestors to guide us in moments of uncertainty. It was a unique evening that will percolate in all of our minds for a long time.

Cheers! Noroc!

Everyone learned more about the world and about Romania. The night ended with Noroc! (Nor-oak!) – Cheers in Romanian – which everyone learned how to say.
Looking forward to seeing you at our next book party,

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Meeting George Winston and his Talking Piano

My appreciation for George Winston’s music began in early 2011. His music awakened a gradual passion that was ready to be explored. I didn’t know where the flow of his piano keys would take me over time. I admired the way he played and how he was able to tell a story without words. It was as if through only touching the piano’s magical keys the story came to life. I’ve secretly admired piano players, mostly because my little brother Radu plays both piano and violin.

For those of you who might not have heard of George Winston, he is an American pianist who plays the piano in quite a fascinating way. He not only plays without a music sheet, he plays the strings of the piano as well as its keys. Simultaneously! In one of his songs he reaches into the piano with his left hand, playing the strings, while he plays the keys with his right hand…

And since music says more than a thousand words, here is a song that takes you right into his mesmerizing world of divine sounds. This particular song has a beautiful story that touches my heart every time I think of it. It is also the piece of music that I listened to for 4 hours in a row, on October 5th, 2011, when Steve Jobs passed away. The song is called January Stars. Here is how he describes the inspiration which led to this song:

January Stars

“This next song was inspired by looking at the night sky one winter. The start is about looking up and admiring the stars, like so many brilliant diamonds scattered overhead… followed by the feeling of slowly rising up into the sky, out into the wonder of infinite space, to roam and play freely amongst those same stars… it concludes with a return to the ground, filled with both the memory and the longing for where I had been…”

Click here to listen to January Stars by George Winston

How do you like it? Did you travel to the stars and back?

My story of George Winston doesn’t conclude with just listening to his music over and over again. I finally got the chance to see him play live in concert in Hartford, Connecticut in December 2011. The concert was way beyond my expectations. It was an experience that is hard to put into words. As I was savoring every second of his performance, I found myself writing, pouring out feelings that now, when I look back, didn’t seem to have come from my mind. It felt like a sublime epiphany of contentment, happiness and gratitude, all rolled together. I remember asking myself: How can so much passion be contained in just one individual?

During the performance George wasn’t wearing any shoes, only his socks. His hands seemed to move faster than the beat of his heart. His piano was talking, telling us its beautiful story through George. We were all mesmerized as we watched his reality unfold. He looked like he was meditating while he was playing. His perfection was ultimate.

Right at the intermission, Matthew and I gave the man who was adjusting George’s piano a signed copy of The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom. It was for George. It was our way of expressing our gratitude for the sublime performance that we were a part of. The second half of the concert was the apogee of the evening for me. I found my inspiration growing along with the notes of Thanksgiving and felt the urge to continue writing.

When the concert ended we had the chance to meet Larry, his manager, and ultimately met George in person. I looked at him and he looked like a different person than the one who was on stage. We talked about life, music, key inspirations, the Universe and… Romania. He lit up when he heard that I’m Romanian, because one of his very talented technical assistants was also from Romania. Her name was Loredana Crisan and even if I haven’t met her I can sense that she is one of those individuals who represents Romania’s values at their best.

Almost every time I stop thinking that people know about Romania or have any connection with it, life surprises me in the most exquisite ways. Who would have ever guessed that one of America’s most inspiring piano players has his “talking piano” tuned to share its wonderful stories by a Romanian?

The night ended with stories and sounds meant to be food for thought for a long time…

To your infinite wisdom,

Diana, Matthew and George with his Talking Piano

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Romania, if other countries can, why can’t we?

My fellow Romanians,

My heart goes out to your efforts, courage and heroism.
I admire you for striving to make a difference not only for today but for a lifetime.
I pray for our soul as a country.
Viva Romania… our beloved homeland.


“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

Carl Schurz, German revolutionist and American statesman

Read about Romania’s current challenge

Jos Basescu

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The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom featured at the Romanian Film Festival in New York City

Today is December 1st 2011 and YES I am celebrating Romania’s National Day.

December 1st is as meaningful for Romanians as July 4th is to Americans. December 1st 1918 marks the day when Romanians’ ideals triumphed, when Transylvania (the heart of Romania) became united, after many centuries of struggle and sacrifice, with all the other separate regions around it (Bessarabia, Bucovina and Moldova). That was the moment when all Romanians became united in one national state and modern day Romania was formed.

I’m celebrating it in my heart as much as in my actions that I take everyday. Over the years I’ve self-analyzed my love-hate relationship with my homeland and the more I learn and discover about it and about its people, the more aware I am that it was the perfect place for me to be born. Romania for me is the place where my heart feels at home, where my sense of belonging is fulfilled to almost a saturation point, where the food nourishes my body in the healthiest way possible and where many times I may lack words, yet I can still be understood.

Matthew and I started celebrating Romania’s Unification Day by attending the sixth annual Romanian Film Festival in New York City. They opened their doors at the Lincoln Center in the city that never sleeps yesterday November 30th, and will be there through December 6th. Last year we were part of their amazing event at the TriBeca Cinema, where we had the chance to meet many wonderful people, some of whom ended up being a part of our gift to Romania: The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom.

This year The Romanian Film Festival has changed its location to Lincoln Center. It is both proof that Romania is moving to the next level and gaining popularity on the world stage, especially when it comes to film and culture. In this spirit we introduced The Romanian Institute to our tribute to Romania, and thanks to Andra Stoica, projects coordinator for the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom is featured at the Film Festival.

Diana Doroftei, Andra Stoica and Matthew Cross at the Romanian Film Festival in NYC

The Film Festival started with the film Morgen, directed by Marian Crisan. This foreign Oscar submission is a charming fish-out-of-water tale about a supermarket security guard who quietly fights an obtuse system in order to smuggle a Kurdish immigrant across the border. Click here to watch the trailer

After the film, there was a lively reception party that was more Romanian than many in the country itself. Traditional Romanian food, wine and lots and lots of great conversation about the country and the remarkable things Romanians do, defined and lit up the evening.
We had the chance to reconnect with our friend Monica Birladeanu, the lovely actress (Francesca) featured on the cover of The Little Book of Wisdom. The book also contains some of Monica’s quotes and insights about her experiences in America.

Leaving my familiar environment in Romania, a place where I had family, friends and success for a completely new country who’s language I barely spoke and a city where I knew no one [Los Angeles], forced me to develop an intimate relationship with myself and become my best and only friend. I understood one of the most important things about relationships: if I’m not at peace and can’t even make myself happy, how can I hope to make anyone around me happy, no matter how much I’d want to?

We will be at the Festival again to see the short movie that Monica plays in, Stopover, directed by Ioana Uricaru. The movie is about a beautiful and cosmopolitan Romanian woman, Ingrid, married to a Norwegian. While waiting for her connecting flight in an Italian airport, her wallet is stolen and she’s left without any documents and money. This subtle story about compromise competed in Sundance 2011.

Matthew Cross, Monica Birladeanu, Diana Doroftei and Razvan Dima at The Romanian Film Festival in NYC

We also had the chance to meet and talk with Geoffrey Fletcher, the very talented Oscar-winning screenwriter of the movie Precious. Jeff shared with us how he knew since he got his hands on his first camera as a boy that he wanted to be making films when he grew up. Matthew also learned that Jeff had attended Harvard with and knew Matt Damon, who Matthew had appeared with in the film School Ties years ago.

Matthew Cross, Geoffrey Fletcher, Diana Doroftei and Razvan Dima at The Romanian Film Festival in NYC

Come enjoy a precious glimpse of Romania in New York through December 6th. We’ll be looking for you! As for me, I will continue my weeklong celebration of Romania’s Unification Day by attending a George Winston piano concert (remarkable story in process) and also by raising a glass of red wine and toasting my homeland.

Noroc! (Cheers in Romanian),


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What does Prince Charles have in common with Dracula?

My firm belief that Romania and its people have a hidden potential which has yet to be discovered by the world, was recently strengthened by the actions of Prince Charles. As a Romanian, I must admit I am proud of the Prince, who as an ‘outsider’ sees the glass as half full when it comes to Romania, in contrast to so many others who either don’t know of or fail to appreciate my country’s many treasures.

Besides the fact that he descends from Vlad the Impaler (a.k.a. Dracula), Prince Charles has a long connection with Romania, starting in 1998 when he first visited the country. It turns out that the Prince has been ‘in love’ with Romania for over 10 years, and all this time he’s promoted its uniqueness, its exquisite rural areas and its forests, that have remained intact in spite of the process of modernization. His passion for nature inspired him to make the center of the country a place where he could spend more time. Prince Charles has three homes in Romania; one of which includes a guesthouse in a village called Viscri in Transylvania.

So the next time you visit Romania, consider spending a few nights in Transylvania in the Prince’s guesthouse that gives you both a royal feeling and a taste of the essence of Dracula’s land.

The Prince of Wales's House at Viscri in Transylvania, Romania

While many films, articles and documentaries have been created about Romania, not many of them do the country full justice. Like all other third world countries, Romania has had its share of misfortune in the past. Yet I like to believe that the process of evolution doesn’t miss any person, nor country.

Recently, a group of British filmmakers made a documentary called Wild Carpathia, about Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. Its mission is to bring awareness to the public of how unique and beautiful they are, and is among the first to present Romania in a positive light, as a one-of-a-kind place in the world that needs to be preserved. Because of his deep appreciation for Romania, Prince Charles agreed to be a part of this courageous project. In the film, the Prince shares his rather interesting connection with the man the world has come to know as Dracula:

The Prince of Wallachia–Dracula and The Prince of Wales–Charles

My genealogy shows that I am descending from Vlad the Impaler, so I do have a little bit of a stake in the country.

Wild Carpathia was written and presented by Charlie Ottley, who expressed his thoughts about Prince Charles:

Prince Charles adores Romania. He has had a love affair with Romania for the last 10 years or more. He thinks that Romania has to be preserved. It is a treasure not only for the Romanian people, but for the whole world. He feels very strongly about doing everything he can to help…

Click here to watch the Wild Carpathia Trailer featuring HRH The Prince of Wales

As a proud ambassador for Romania and its people, I encourage you to learn a little more about my little known yet fascinating homeland. Like Prince Charles, you may also discover the magic and inspiration which can found to this day in the ancient land of Romania.

Sanatate (Great Health to You in Romanian),

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Share your wisdom

We believe that every person has their own special wisdom to share with the world. Sometimes it might be hidden or maybe unrecognized by the ones around us, but it exists in the very nature of our ‘being.‘ It is wisdom that we should aspire to, and happiness that we should seek. Our dream is to reveal and make known the undiscovered wisdom that every person and every country has.

Through quotes, life values and principles, a country or a person gets to be known at a very deep level, perhaps the most pure one.
In this spirit we invite you to share a quote or pearl of wisdom here.

To your infinite wisdom and happiness!
Diana & Matthew

'The Thinker of Hamangia and his woman'

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“Love Letter” to Romania

“Love Letter” to Romania

An American and a Romanian are leading strategy and leadership classes for big companies in America and are working hard on a unique project: a little encyclopedia of… Romanian Wisdom

Click here to read the Forbes Article in English

“Dragoste letter” pentru România

Un american şi o româncă ţin cursuri de leadership pentru marile companii din SUA şi lucrează de zor la un proiect inedit: o mică enciclopedie a…înțelepciunii românești

Dati click aici pentru a citi articolul din Forbes Romania in limba romana

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How this book came to be

It all started with a walk down the street in Manhattan in the fall of 2008. While sharing thoughts about life, Diana mentioned one of her core beliefs to Matthew: “I think you live the life that you choose.

Matthew remembers stopping and making a note of this pearl of wisdom in his notebook. As an American, and by definition an outsider to Romanian culture, Matthew sensed that there was much hidden wisdom within the Romanian culture that was unrecognized and underappreciated in the world. He had the epiphany that a book could be created to act as a bridge for this wisdom to America and beyond. They explored this idea over dinner that night and set about creating what became The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom.

The journey took almost 3 years and included many trips to Romania, countless interviews and literally hundreds of hours. What resulted is a 184-page book of quotes and pearls of wisdom from over 100 people from across Romanian culture.
We were both delightfully surprised at the many famous and beloved Americans who were unknown carriers of Romanian Wisdom, having been born in Romania. People like actors Edward G. Robinson, John Houseman and Johnny Weissmuller.

In the process of completing the book we were inspired to reach out and connect with many wonderful Romanians who shared their wisdom, including Hollywood’s natural beauty expert Anastasia Soare, bestselling authors Dr. Carmen Harra and Aura Imbarus, actress and model Monica Birladeanu/Dean and many others.

In this blog we will be sharing interesting insights about Romanian culture, people and wisdom in general. We welcome your contribution and we invite you to join us on the never-ending adventure of learning.

Sanatate! (Great Health to you in Romanian)
Diana & Matthew

Diana & Matthew in NYC

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