The most empowering thought, according to inspiring author, teacher and speaker Aura Imbarus, is to “live like today is your last day.” In her critically acclaimed memoir, Out of the Transylvania Night: A Story of Tyranny, Freedom, Love and Identity, she expresses the desire to squeeze out each and every moment of life and use it to the maximum. “Every day has the potential of a lifetime.”
That philosophy of seeing each moment for its maximum potential propelled Aura from her home in Romania to Los Angeles with no promise of a future career or even daily bread. She simply followed a dream of palm trees and ocean views. Since the closest thing to an ocean in Romania is the Black Sea, she knew she had to leave her country to realize her dream.
In this conversation with Dr. Nancy, Aura shows what it was like growing up in communist Romania where people were suspicious of one another, fearing they were being spied upon and would be reported and imprisoned for thinking contrary to the communist regime. Aura followed a different path.
Choose Happiness Every Day
Aura emphasizes that one can choose to be happy even in the face of a depressing environment. No person or place can create happiness; you must choose it for yourself. So even in gray, depressing Romania, she struggled to rise each day with a smile on her face. She finished school and became a journalist.
In time, communism had been overthrown and she was busy with her career. But her dream of palm trees and sea breezes would not fade. So when she heard of the Green Card Lottery, she entered and won over millions of entries world-wide. With her husband, two suitcases and $400, she flew to Los Angeles to pursue a dream with no promise of success.
Lessons Learned on Her Journey
- Do not blame anybody. Aura realized that she had to grow up, not blame others and take responsibility for what she was doing right now. In Romania it was easy to blame the government; nearly everyone did. But Aura saw that anything outside of herself was not within her control. It’s up to us to take control of ourselves and choose the way we live each day.
- Do not judge anyone. In Romania, there is very little diversity. Aura was not exposed to different cultures, but in Los Angeles, she found all the cultures of the world. She says that we’re all the same. We don’t mean to harm others, but we all make mistakes because we don’t know better.
- Wake up and be happy every day. Forget about yesterday. Don’t ask, “Why was I born there? Why did they do this to me?” She learned that focusing on the past prevented her from appreciating and recognizing the possibilities of today.
Aura’s Pulitzer Nominee Memoir
Aura teaches the lessons she learned to her students in Los Angeles. She is also working on two additional books. Check out her story of survival, Out of the Transylvania Night, which is a Pulitzer nominee for the memoir category. Be sure to listen to this conversation for more stories about Aura’s life in Communist Romania. And watch for her new books about overcoming your fears and the power of intention.