Life’s lessons keep Mariola Stojic content and moving forward

Across two continents, the life of Mariola Stojic has been vindicated from the charge of ordinary.

Born in Yugoslavia, the youngest daughter of the Kovinic family, Stojic said she was surrounded with an abundance of love, books, and “wonderful versatilities of the South,” where she lived. She inherited a love for nature and a passion for writing from her father, who was a biology and chemistry teacher, and who later edited a business journal.

At age 11, Stojic began writing articles for a school paper that was selected as the best in country. The award, she said, was a trip throughout Europe that opened her eyes to the world. In 1987, she enrolled at the University of Science and Mathematics in Belgrade, where she studied biology.

After living through the despair of the civil war in Yugoslavia in 1993, Stojic came to America to continue her education. A year later, in Los Angeles, she met John Stojic, with whom she has been sharing the next chapter of her journey, “counting 16 years and two wonderful sons, living a happy life in La Jolla,” she said.

What brought you to La Jolla?

That was my friends Mario and Renata Spiazzi. Since we had two little boys, the Spiazzis often spoke to us about the La Jolla schools in a very impressive way. Despite fearing a loss of our already well-established life, I trustingly followed my husband into the unknown, and we arrived in La Jolla in 2005. There was no room for unhappiness or worry; we felt truly appreciated, valued and respected by the community. We learned that our friends were right: There is no better place (on at least two continents that I know of) to raise children than here, in La Jolla.

What makes this area special to you?

People. I have incredible friends. Most of them I met through my children’s activities and schools. In spite of our cultural differences, we all have one thing in common: self-less dedication to the family and the community.

Furthermore, these friends deepened my sense of values. They gave me the reassurance, “Stop moving, you are already here.” My house is always full of friends — hence the table seating 24 outside on the patio. They often come to visit unexpectedly, which makes me wonder, “How far does the scent of fresh baked bread travel?”

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

I would love to change the curriculum and make music and art mandatory classes in all La Jolla schools. When our children feel pressured, pushed, or forced to race for unimportant deadlines, learning about at least one opera and one painting on canvas could become that “miracle pill” to the happiness we all seek to find.

Who or what inspires you?

My husband and my children. They make me aware of life. I am aware of my growth, their beauty, unconditional love, flowers, the ocean. They made me love cats, ride bikes, write letters ... perhaps even a book someday. Yes, I can write a book about them — they are the answer to all my questions. If I may borrow a few words from Dr. Leo Buscalia: “On the day we were born, we were given the world as a birthday present box. A gorgeous box wrapped with incredible ribbons.” I choose to rip the ribbons and open my little boxes every day just to find a new experience. Do you think that is why they call the present a present?

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Socrates, Michelangelo, Tchaikovsky, Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn, Dali Lama, Renata Spiazzi, and my husband, John.

Tell us about what you are reading.

I always have several books laying on my night stands, totally unrelated and serving different purposes to me. One is my pleasure reading, “Dragon Seed” by Pearl Buck, and the others simply aid my mental health. “The Road Less Traveled,” by Dr. Scott Peck, and “Living, Loving and Learning,” by Dr. Leo Buscaglia are most definitely, the two books with no dust on their covers.

What is your most-prized possession?

The years of schooling (from first grade to university degree) flatter me with knowledge, but building up the uniqueness of my personality is my most-prized possession.

What do you do for fun?

Going out with my friends to art shows, cinema or concerts, having Eagle Scouts from our troop over for a movie night, and sewing, is what I do for fun. There is always something going on my sewing table, sometimes it looks like folds in the hemispheres of my brain — no beginning, no end. I remember four years ago, I stitched Pop Warner patches to players’ game pants ... all 90 of them!

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

There are three accomplishments I wish to mention: when I learned that English is just a language like my native tongue, that typing with two fingers can be as fast as using 10, when I convinced my family that my cooking tastes better than any restaurant in the world.

But my greatest achievement came when I realized that my written prayers do come true and that life is just a game which I learned how to play. Believe it or not, I have a notebook where I write down all the things I want to happen.

Nikos Kazantzakis once said, “You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint paradise, and then in you go.” If you want to paint hell, go ahead with it, but then don’t blame me, the school system or our beautiful society for what happens to you.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Rid yourself of expectations; then you will have everything and will never get disappointed.