.There is no Planet Earth 2 – The Ecological Footprint.

Ecological footprint! What does this even mean? The ecological footprint measures the amount of nature’s resources an individual, a community, or a country consumes in a given year. Let’s focus on Canada. Here are some numbers for you taken from the WWF Living Planet Report:

As far as energy usage, Canada is ranked third in per capita and ranked in the top ten for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The average Canadian household uses 500,000 liters of water annually. Canadian households generate 31 million tons of garbage each year. That is 2.7kg per person per day! Canadians toss more than 140,000 tonnes of electronic waste into landfills each year. Plastic use? Worldwide, over one million plastic bags are used per minute. We throw out 100 million plastic bottles every day! There are roughly 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of the ocean. Sick yet? Let’s talk food.

In Toronto, single-family households discard about 275 kilos of food waste each year. Worldwide, 50% of food produced is wasted! Households waste an average of $1,456 worth of food annually. You like salmon? Over 85% of the world’s fisheries have been pushed to or past the point of collapse. Unsustainable methods such as bottom trawling, drift nets, dynamite, electro and poison fishing are being used.

Fashion? Do you love fast fashion? Consider, water pollution, toxic chemicals, carcinogenic dyes, sweatshops, waste. Have you ever wondered how it is possible to produce a sweater sold for $7,99?

What can be done?

Decrease Your Footprint:

Reduce, reuse, then recycle. Share, DIY, buy used, buy local (farmers market), buy toxin-free. Eat less meat and choose high-quality meant and sustainable seafood. Cook at home. Use less energy, drive less, turn down heat/AC, power down gadgets and standby lights. Get involved. Talk, volunteer, share, lobby, engage store managers, bosses, schools etc.

Buy less stuff! Before you buy, ask yourself: Do I really need this? If it is replacing something, can it be fixed? Can I do without it? Can I make it myself? Can I grow it? Who am I supporting when I buy this (small family business vs multi-national cooperation)? Is there a way to buy this from a local business? Is there a more sustainable option (Fairtrade, organic, recycled, sustainably made)?

Make smarter food choices! According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian has 26 tsp of sugar daily; teenage boys have 41 tsp! Only 1/4 of Canadian families eat a homemade meal made from scratch every day, compared to half of the families in 1992. On any given day, 1 in every 3 children eats a fast-food meal. Children see 10 million ads a year just ion their ten most visited websites – 90% of those ads are for unhealthy food.

Avoid Farmed Fish! This includes salmon, shrimp, mussels, oysters, trout, bass, and tilapia. The main concerns are: Extreme over-crowding leads to antibiotic use and poor health. Farmed fish is fed with Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)-meal, often with added dye hence the nice pink color. Atlantic salmon is engineered with a growth hormone gene. GM (genetically modified) Atlantic salmon eggs are produced in Prince Edward Island (PEI), shipped to Panama to grow, then to the US for processing and finally back to Canada for sale. Yikes! The problem is the missing transparency in Canadian Regulation of GMOs for example product labeling. To be on the safe side: buy only wild – and not farmed salmon, or no salmon at all unless you really know where it comes from locally.

Meat: Overall, reduce consumption to what your body needs. Find a good farmer for meat, eggs, and dairy. Go to organic butchers that source locally. Emphasize grass-fed, hormone-free, GMO-free feed (the meat tastes so much better!) Did you know that “grass-fed”, “grass finished”, “pasture raised” are not regulated terms? Antiobiotic free means only that the animal didn’t receive antibiotics for a period of time before slaughter. Ethically or humanly raised terms are meaningless. Again, organic meat is best, ideally 100% grass-fed.

Eggs: Try to buy organic feed, animal welfare standards, and local (farmers market!). Do you know what it means when it says Cage-free on the egg carton? Cage-free means that hens are not confined to battery cages (but no access to outdoors and no idea what feed is). Free-run means hens can move around in open-concept barns (may still be overcrowded and may not have access to outdoors). Free-range: Hens can go outdoors. Yay!

Watch this: Michael Pollan’s documentary Cooked (actually, read and watch anything by Michael Pollan!)

“Cooking for yourself is one way to take back control of your diet from the food scientists and food processors” – Michael Pollan

Lifestyle questions to ask yourself:

How far is too far to walk or to cycle? What is the smallest amount of money you could live on for one year? What was the last thing you bought that you really didn’t need? Why did you buy it? Could you live without a car? How would it affect your life? Do you think that the best things in life are free? If you had no money, would you still have the same friends? How do you decide what clothes to buy? Do you know where your food comes from? Are you willing to buy second-hand? Are you comfortable borrowing things?

Stay healthy. Stay happy.

.D as in Domestic Violence.

My coffee is strong, I pour in some milk; the white substance plunges in and reappears in some odd looking pattern. I hold my hands around the cup to warm them. I think about the past, I think about her. Her face is horribly sad and she looks very tired. I have wanted to say something to her for a long time but decided to wait. The only reason I am writing this is that I am worried about her, worried about her wellbeing.

I blow into my cup before taking a sip; perhaps this just makes the time pass, while saying her name inside. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do but I start to write.

D.,

this is a letter to you. You, who is in an abusive relationship. The abuse you are living is verbal, emotional, physical and maybe even sexual. There are some things I want you to know, and the first and most important is that you are loved. The second one is that, even though I am far away, I am here for you. You are a good person. You are wonderful no matter what happened and what has been said. You are you.

You are valuable. Please do not forget that, even though he will try to convince you otherwise. You are stronger than that, do not be frightened by him. You have value and worth that he can neither give nor take away from you. You have a right to your reactions, a right to wear make-up and a skirt if you choose to. You have a right to have a Facebook or Instagram account if you want to. Nobody is allowed to tell you to delete all this just because you start a relationship.

He will make you feel bad. He will tell you that you are wrong and unreasonable and just misunderstood by everyone, including your family. But the family is here for you. Nobody left. He put so much bullshit in your head that you, at this point are probably not even sure anymore what is real. Maybe you feel like you cannot trust your own memories and you ended up agreeing with him. Of course, you must have misunderstood when he told you not to wear that dress to pick up your children from school. How come he beat you up so badly because didn’t he say he loves you? How come he does not let you have your own phone? How come he controls who you talk to and when? How come I cannot ever reach you?

So he tells you more lies and garbage and you end up agreeing with him. Of course, you do. He threatens you with more stuff. You also must have misunderstood when he told you you cannot spend time with your girlfriends anymore. You ask yourself how someone so loving, caring and sweet as he can be sometimes does such hurtful things.

You know why? Because the darkness in your partner won’t go away. No therapy can fix this. Ever. You are not imagining things. You do not have to punish yourself or bring yourself down. You are enough. Good enough. It is your okay to talk to family and friends on YOUR OWN phone. Just because you have some good memories with him does not mean the bad times are worth enduring. Don’t the good times usually always come when you almost had enough? Maybe you don’t see that you are abused or maybe it is hard because you love him but just because there may be love does not mean there isn’t abuse.

Abuse can take many forms and maybe you are too deep in it all to really see and understand. It may even have become normal to you. Even normal to the two of you. When you cry on the phone, when you whisper on the phone, when you have to hang up because he is coming home it is NOT OKAY. When your kids say that you cry a lot and are sad, it is NOT OKAY. When you have to hide things from him because you know it will upset him to the point that the anger terrifies you, it is NOT OKAY. When he does something that hurts you a lot, then apologizes but keep doing it and DOING it over and over again it is NOT OKAY. It is NOT OKAY that he punches you in the face so you have a black eye.

It must be so hard to see what is happening when you live in this abusive relationship and it seems impossible for family and friends to understand because we all just don’t see “his good parts”. But guess what? We all see what is happening. We all see it clearly in ways you cannot right now. This abusive relationship is changing and damaging you. Everyone can see it but you.

You probably still love and see good him. He says he loves you, the bond is deep, the relationship is real and more but that does NOT mean that the way he treats you is acceptable. That does not mean you should stay. Plus, it is not all about you anymore. You have children.

There is support out there! I will support you. We all will. I promise. Things will suck for a while, but it will all get better. So much better. I will help you and hold you up until the ache changes from being intense to dull to manageable and you can stand up on your own again. You also know where you can always find more help, safety and a place to stay.

Remember, abusive behavior is always a choice. He may be troubled but that does not absolve him of responsibility. It is also not your job to fix him. Looking at what you have been through already, it seems that he is just not a good person for you. You cannot change him! Keep that in mind. He won’t change because of you. I know you want to. I know you want to save this relationship because you put so much love into it and he is so nice sometimes. But you CANNOT! No matter how much you love him. No matter how good you try to be so he won’t get mad. NOTHING WILL EVER STOP THE ABUSE. IT WILL GET WORSE.

Talk to me. Let me know about your situation so I can be there to help if you need it. We always used to talk for hours. I do not want to lose you.

.Eat this: Kimchi Spring Rolls & Almond Butter Dip.

Readers keep asking me if I could share more healthy, quick and easy to make recipes (not too many ingredients). Your wish is my command. I will share one recipe weekly in addition to my regular blog post. On this blog, check out the Beauty & Food section for more recipes and (homemade) beauty products. Also, big news. My new holistic nutrition website will be up and running in a couple of weeks. Yay!

Hungry? No idea what to eat? How about Kimchi Spring Rolls. There are super easy to make, healthy, insanely delicious and filling. Enjoy this fresh and bold flavoured kimchi and cashew blend from heaven.

Ingredients:

Dipping Sauce:
1 cup raw almond butter
1 Tbsp freshly chopped ginger
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
add a bit of Cayenne pepper if you want it spicy

Kimchee Filling: Yields 4 cups (makes 7-8 wraps)
2 cups cashews (soaked for 1-2 hours and drained)
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup raw tahini
1T maple syrup/honey/agave syrup (optional for sweetness)
3-4 cups pre-made kimchi

Fresh veggies of choice
Collard Greens (remove the hard stem) and/or rice paper wrappers

How to:

Process cashews, sesame oil, tahini, maple syrup (if using), and ginger in food processor until chunky consistency is achieved. Mix with roughly chopped kimchi and set aside. I used collard wraps and rolled 2 Tbsp of kimchi filling, organic spring mix and julienned veggies (cucumber, bell pepper, and carrots are best!) For the dipping sauce, blend all ingredients in a blender. So easy and incredibly tasty!

Seriously, you need these wraps in your life!

xx

.Meanwhile, on another Planet.

One questions I ask myself the most these days is “Why?” I pause and wonder sometimes, why certain things happen or happened, or why others just seem to work or go well together.

We have an average of 60,000 thoughts per day even though I think I may have more. Some thoughts are as mundane as if I should hit the snooze one more time, if I really need that cup of coffee or if it is cold outside. Others are more existential like “Why am I here? Do I matter? What did I come here to do”?

I used to be a person who rarely questioned anything because I simply wanted to go with the flow, be super chill, and avoid stirring the pot. When things seemingly ran smoothly, it was okay with me. But over the last couple of years, there was a lot of confusion around my theory. I learned to pay closer attention to what I want and what it means to be in control of my actions. I know that I cannot control everyone and everything but that it is important to be clear on what I want and only if it is okay for me, to then do it. I found this knowledge extremely helpful but I had to learn how to speak up when it is the right thing to do. Questions temporarily halt the flow by forcing me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Am I happy? What are my limitations? Is this worth my energy? What will happen next?

I know I am going to need a strong mind and body. What can I do to get even stronger or to feel better overall? The obvious that comes to mind is to eat well, to drink enough water, exercise, meditate and get fresh air. It is equally important to rest or cancel plans. It also means to stay in the tough conversation and/or to be willing to stand alone. Also, the way I pursue a goal is just as important as the goal itself because the journey is often more valuable than the destination.

What small steps can I take in addition to get closer to achieving my dreams or goals? I do have big, big dreams. We all should have some. Important steps to action dreams are to know that they take time, focus, discipline, and persistence. So, now here we are with our big dreams and nothing is moving in any direction even though we did everything we possibly could. Why? Maybe it is not the right time yet, we have to readjust, adapt or figure out a new path which is even better aligned with the goals we hope to reach. Then the question-game and start of a virtuous circle begins again: We ask why, determine why, and finally, recalibrate our actions around a newly shaped alternative or purpose. Is it all like a card game? We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. But guess what? Sometimes I feel I play better on clay.

.How to: Intermittent Fasting.

Everybody talks about intermittent fasting these days and it grows rapidly in popularity. What is intermittent fasting and how do you do it? Are there benefits and who should avoid it. Interested? Read on.

What is intermittent fasting?

In a nutshell, you basically eat the same amount of food that you usually do but during a shorter period of time. The term fasting refers to any period of time when you do not eat food. Actually, we fast every night when we sleep. It is important when we eat. Because everything is available 24/7, we can get in this habit to constantly eat all around the clock, especially late in the evening/night. What uncontrolled eating does is, for example, it creates appetite irregularities and up-and-down blood sugar patterns which can also negatively impact sleep.

Three types of fasting methods.

Eat-Stop-Eat (“5:2”). This type of intermittent fasting means you eat in your usual manner for five days of the week and either restrict food intake on 2 non-consecutive days (for example Tuesday and Thursday) or fast altogether on those days (no food for 24 hours). Personally, I find this method quite restrictive and have not tried it myself but heard of some people who love it.

16:8/18:6. These are just different options for lengthier fasts that involve no food intake for 16-18 hours and eating over a span of 6-8 hours.

Time-Restricted Eating (TRE). This type of fasting is based on the science of the circadian (natural) rhythms and means that we eat during the day and stop eating at night. With TRE you want to focus on an eating window of 10-12 hours and fast for 12-14 hours.

Some important Benefits

  1. Intermittent Fasting supports cardiovascular health. It can help to reduce cholesterol, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL aka the “bad one”)
  2. Autophagy. Auto-what? Autophagy is basically a cellular cleansing process that occurs when cells have insufficient sugar. It causes them to start breaking down their own damaged, old or diseased cell fragments to create new energy and also newly regenerated cells. Pretty neat, huh! Usually, this occurs in longer fasts but we also experience it a bit during overnight fasts of 12-13 hours. Of course, we do not want autophagy to occur all the time because that would mean we are starving.
  3. Better gut health & Inflammation. We usually do not feel like eating when we are sick. This is a natural reaction and signal the body sends out asking for a break. Intermittent fasting can lower inflammation which means less disease, better immune function, and a healthier body overall. Since fasting helps reduce inflammation and reboots immune function it can be beneficial for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s. Of course, always speak to your doctor if you have concerns.
  4. Improved Blood Sugar Balance. Let’s dig out my Biochemistry book: Whenever we eat, the sugars from food signal the pancreas to produce insulin to rush it into the cells. The liver then stores fatty acids in fat cells and converts sugar to glycogen. Do you still follow? Now the body has stored all the sugars and fats from the meal and insulin and blood sugar drop. The pancreas secretes a hormone called glucagon to signal the liver to convert stored glycogen back into sugar to release it into the bloodstream to balance blood sugar. This “storage” and “burning” mode usually happens cyclically all day long and the body uses remaining stores when we sleep at night. Problems may occur when we constantly or irregularly eat all day, especially high sugar and fatty food. Then the body is stuck in “storage mode” and too much insulin is secreted all the time which can lead to insulin resistance or low/high blood sugar. Intermittent fasting is a great way to improve insulin resistance, fatty liver, and conditions associated with blood sugar regularities.
  5. Weight loss. Intermittent fasting can aid weight loss because the body is allowed to exit “storage mode” and burn internal resources instead. It is also great to regulate appetite because it balances satiety hormones (ghrelin and leptin) and hunger.

Who should avoid (intermittent) fasting?

  • Those who try to get pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding moms
  • Anybody dealing with extreme stress (any extended fasts (14+ hours) are stressful for the body because the body will perceive those fasts as periods of famine)
  • Diabetics. They should consult a doctor first.
  • Anybody with a history of eating disorders. Always make sure you consult a doctor before exploring with fasting and diets on your own.
  • Anybody who is new to intermittent fasting should aim for 12-13 hours.

I experiment with intermittent fasting for about one year now and I respond really well to it. I usually follow an 11 am-7 pm eating – 7 pm – 11 am fasting rhythm, usually 3 days a week but of course, there are exceptions because this is life.

There is also a great app that you can download that allows tracking fasting/eating windows.

Have you ever tried intermittent fasting? Please share your experience and leave questions and comments below.

.Usually nice As F***.

If you have no clue what to do with the rest of your day, start by making your bed. No need for expensive Chanel clothes. Just have style and get red lipstick and red nail polish instead. Smile and stand up straight. Trust your intuition and always listen to your gut. Don’t remake the bed after your partner made it. Except that a man won’t understand if you “feel” a certain way or cry out of the blue. Except that he won’t ask if you are okay all the time.

Leave a party when you feel like it. Be patient, good things take time. Do not worry about the jobs you did not get. Other possibilities and opportunities will appear out of nowhere. Perfection is not the point. Just be brave and strong. Don’t avoid things or opportunities just because they seem too big or too adventurous. Don’t live in fear of the Duolingo Owl. Take good care of yourself. Balance and moderation are key.

Be yourself, no matter what. When you have people over for dinner, don’t try to impress them. Make simple, delicious food and keep in mind that no one is grading you. They are all just happy you cook for them. Leggins are not pants and flip-flops are not shoes. Always keep in mind that if a friend tells you a secret about another friend, she has told another friend a secret about you, too.

If you have an urge to keep telling people you do not have a problem with X, Y and Z you do have a problem with X, Y, and Z. Whenever you order food and there are two or three plastic forks in the bag, you are definitely overeating. Look at yourself (or dance) naked in front of the mirror and blow yourself a kiss before you leave the house.

Watch porn like a lady if you choose to and do it without feeling guilty or being embarrassed. Be polite in extreme situations and chew your food with your mouth closed. There is etiquette for the insane: they wave at you, you wave back. They say hi, say hi back. There is etiquette for phone solicitors: The friendly way to stop them from calling is by saying, “Thank you so much for calling, but I have just murdered my [whatever you feel like] and I am currently digging a hole.” Don’t ever feel bad to say “no” and then find yourself in worse situations just because you were afraid of being rude or you simply wanted to be nice and please the other person. Never ever works in the long-run.

And lastly (is this a blog post on its own?) : Airplane etiquette or am I an air marshal?

It is not okay to eat Buffalo wings, Indian food or any other strong smelling stuff (that you bring from home) on a plane. Consider other people. Air gets filtered and circulates on the plane, but c’mon. You will survive eating food served on the plane for once. Food you can always bring on a plane: A gigantic pizza cookie that you can share with the entire plane.

I am about to congratulate everybody who sits next to me because I am probably the most considerate person on this plane. I keep calm in stressful situations but you better check in your carry-on bag that is way too big. Do not stuff it in the overhead bin for too long while people wait in the aisle and try to get to their seats. I am still calm.

Do you still try to stuff that bag in the overhead bin? Honestly, nobody really wants to help you stuff your bag in that bin. They all think you suck and you should have checked that bag in. What is so bad about waiting ten minutes for your bag to show up on the baggage claim conveyor belt? Don’t bring handbags that look like a laundry sack. You won’t be able to fit it under the seat in front of you so now the stewardess (oh, sorry: flight attendant) has to carry your sack and find a place in the overhead bin somewhere far away from your seat so you now walk around and take things out and put others in immediately. Still calm.

Check-in, security check, sitting in your seat waiting for take-off: Wait patiently and read a book. Maybe be on your phone and check or update your Facebook status and see how many people like it. Don’t do anything else.

On the plane and ready to take-off: Oh, wait. Hear that? The woman in front of me just called someone on speakerphone to say that we all just boarded. Nice! Oh, it is her husband. Now they discuss what he is going to eat tonight. He really misses her already and cannot wait for her to come back home. In the meantime, the baby behind me starts to scream but that is fine. Babies do that. The pilot is making an announcement at the same time: “We are grounded for another hour because of ice and snow. Sorry for the inconvenience!” The woman on the phone screams that she wants to speak to the FLIGHT ATTENDANT OR THE PILOT NOW BECAUSE SHE NEEDS TO BE AT THIS VERY IMPORTANT MEETING.

I strangle her with her seatbelt and throw her out of the emergency door. Before that, I take off her high heels. Who gets on a plane with high heels on? Size 6. Perfect for the baby to play with.

I am indeed the most considerate person.

.Today was a Good Day.

There was no clown (or balloons) in the sewer on this rainy morning walk to school. I did not see the ghost that haunts the house next door. A construction worker did not climb over my balcony peaking through the windows but was actually on his way up to fix a leak on the roof while I practice yoga half-naked in my bedroom next door.

There were no technical issues while I worked on my new website all day. It will be epic and I will share updates soon! I was able to help someone who suffered from low stomach acid, eczema, and under-active adrenals with nutrition and supplements and she feels significantly better. No one said, “You cannot do this or this won’t work!” No one said, “Keep still, this will be over before you know it.” No one said, “Oh my god, it never looked like this before. Usually, Botox does not have this effect on the skin!” No one asked me, “You are not from Canada, are you?” No one said, “Gesundheit!” when I sneezed and was alone in my home. No one slapped me hard across my face and told me to chill and relax. I saw a woman with oxygen tubes in her nose today. I don’t need oxygen tubes in my nose.

I did not need to crawl through an air duct to be free. I did not need to cut my hair very short and bleach it in a gas station restroom to change my personality. I did not need to burn off my own fingerprints or make a tiny escape tool out of a needle, pencil, and sharpener.

I did not have to hitchhike through the country. I did not have to find a place to sleep under a bridge or park bench. I did not have to beg for food. I did not raise my hands up to the sky and screamed, “Whyyyyy?”

I didn’t ask, “You did not cheat?” or “Was none of it true?” I did not answer, “What in the world were you thinking” or “Why did you do this?”

I did not experience road rage even though a BMW driver cut me off while on my bicycle and I almost rolled over the hood of his car. I did not throw my purse over the head of someone talking and texting forever on his phone in a movie theater (again). I did not need to figure out how to secretly smoke in prison while sitting on a toilet and use the suction of the air so nobody would smell it. I did not cut out newspaper articles and taped them to the wall to then connect words with a red string and send my findings to the Russians or French Intelligence.

I did not say: “Why did you do this”?, “You don’t know me at all”! “There is a ghost in the basement for sure”!, “What is the worst that can happen”?, “Good things take time”!, “If anybody is looking for me, I am at Wicked Wanda’s Adult Store to just look around!”

I did not choke on my buckwheat blueberry muffin this morning even though it tasted very dry and sad. Neither did my son. The red color under my son’s nose was not nosebleed but red sharpie. Glad, it was not black. I did not purchase the iRobot vacuum cleaner after we tested it for one day. So useless. My son does not want a pet that needs to be kept in a cage.

I realized that no fairy tales ever begin with: “Once upon a time, he blindfolded me in the back of the car.” No other woman’s hair clogged my sink. I learned that: a) it is awkward to call a woman: “Bud”, b) that a closet full of fancy clothes does not make you a princess or give you style, neither does a fancy car, c) anyone who seems like they never have a bad day occasionally have very, very, bad days, d) if a man won’t tell you where you are going on a date, you are going camping, e) if your only problem is where to go when your cleaning lady comes over to clean your house for three hours or how to how to remove the “servants bell” in your 18th century house, you really do not have problems.

Pretty successful day indeed.

.To my Mother.

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 12th. Today, my son’s school invited to a Mother’s Day Tea Party which turned out to be such a lovely event. I may have wiped away a tear or two when the kids sang songs and told us moms why they love us. My son is the sunshine in my life. Even though he is a pain in the butt sometimes, I love him unconditionally. With his birth and like a slap in the face, I became a mom. I can honestly say that I did not enjoy every minute of it but overall, it is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I am a mom. Mothers are good forces of nature. Mothers have to be very strong at times.

My mom is wonderful. She amazes me daily with her steely refusal to give in to daily life’s struggles and sorrows that affect her. She holds her head high and helps my siblings and I even when her own heart hurts and when she questions things we do. She battles on and on, a soldier through and through. Seemingly without getting tired – unless one really asks.

My Mother wiped away my tears when kids threw rocks at me, threw me off my bicycle or beat me at the Junebug bushes while my friends and I collected insects to put them in a jar. My Mother was there and protected me and told me that they do not know any better. That nothing really matters. To be strong. That this is all forgotten tomorrow.

Who was there when I struggled through High School? When my grades were bad? When someone had to explain mathematics and (bio)chemistry to me? When I hung out with kids who were not the “right influence”? My Mother.

Who was always there for me in times of need? Heartbreak? Whenever I cried and did not want to leave home to study at Police Academy at a young age? When I rather wanted to stay in my bed, bed sheets pulled up to my nose? When sometimes pressure was so bad I could not breathe? Who kissed and touched my head when I was sad? Who always gave me unconditional love? You did, mom.

Who gave me life and life again? When I was sad and did not see a way out of a situation? Who gave herself away so many times trying to make me feel better. Trying to make sense and explaining it all. Who never gave up the fight for my struggles in life and who I am when I thought it is all so pointless and useless?

You, mom.

Who kept on giving even though she was tired at points? Who took care of my son when I was so tired but she had to go to work? Who spoke to me for hours on the phone when I went through a very hard breakup?

You, mom.

Who, to this day, knows when I am hurt? When I am saddened? Face down in the dirt? When I feel like a failure?

My beautiful, precious and dear heart mom.

When my mom is worn out and her heart is torn, she keeps on helping. When she is sad and her mind half mad of anger, she keeps on fighting for me and supporting.

Mom,

all this to say, this is a love letter to you. I am making a toast to the incredible mother you are, in essence, one of the most crucial elements in the lives of me and my siblings. Here is to you! And thank you. Unconditional love to you. Because of you and your love for me I know what the word “unconditional” actually means and feel it for my son.

Happy Mother’s Day.

.Shame Wizard.

“True action, good and radiant action, my friends, does not spring from activity, from busy bustling, it does not spring from industrious hammering. It grows in the solitude of the mountains, it grows on the summits where silence and danger dwell.” – Hermann Hesse 

I have two daily routines. One that is ideal, perfect and everything goes as planned. And then there is the second routine which is messy, real, and just simple daily reality. In my ideal routine, I sleep super well, come straight home after school drop-off and start to write right away. Productivity is optimized while distractions are minimized (meaning phone and notifications are off). I am in this state of flow, full of energy and to- do lists are checked and hammered off. I have a pretty clear picture of my ideal routine and how I work best, however, many times this perfect routine does not work.

I used to tell myself that if I really want to be a dedicated writer, I have to get up at 5 am every morning and start working. Getting up early is hard for me. Also, I know I would not stick with this routine for a very long time. Procrastinating or my love to sleep in are one thing, but some days just inevitably go off track. Distractions happen, plans need to be changed or other responsibilities pop up unexpectedly. Sometimes my body and mind just do not want to cooperate with my great plans for the day. And this is okay, too. To expect nothing or not too much and to banish the feeling of guilt makes the day run much smoother. Life happens and there are many moments in a day when my best intentions are not met. I may plan my morning a certain way but receive an email that changes my life completely. You just never know.

I stopped beating myself up over things. What I cannot change, I don’t worry about. I have been through a pretty rough year so far and it is time to showcase softness and to be kind to myself. Instead of beating myself up over things or feeling guilty I rather measure when I treat myself well while putting rest and space on a pedestal.

There are times when hard work and discipline are essential. But by creating a little headspace and trusting myself, I quickly recognize that sometimes the work will get done when it gets done. It is important to take some time off and use it for spiritual growth, inspiration, and restoration and also essential to treat the body kindly and with respect. Often, things do not work out as expected but this does not mean I am a disappointment. I embrace the moments when I am able to find flow and manage to juggle disparate priorities. I enjoy the times I go off track but make sure I find myself back wherever I need to be.

.Fear Itself.

There was a woman in my class at school who is afraid of everything. Especially germs, deadly viruses, all viruses actually and dirt. She covers her seat with plastic bags before sitting down. Or this: The other day I overheard a story a woman told the cashier at the supermarket register. It was a story of a little boy she knew, some friend of a friend’s kid, who suffered from severe headaches. No one knew why. His parents took him to several doctors and they all said that there was nothing wrong with the boy. They were super afraid and went home. A few days later he woke up at night in agony and screamed in pain. The parents took him to the emergency room and doctors discovered that the little boy actually had maggots eating his eyeballs from the inside out.

I squeezed my eyes shut and moaned (a little too loud). The woman turned toward me and said, “Yes, it is true. Apparently, the little boy had been petting a dog or maybe the dog licked him on the eye, and maybe the dog had some maggot eggs on the tongue, who knows!” I took the organic Haribo Gummi-worms out of my shopping cart and put them back on the shelf. Also, I don’t let doggies give me kisses anymore. Or pet them. Or look at them. (kidding)

What are we afraid of? What gives us the chills? Do you take showers always with your eyes open just because you think about the original Ghostbuster movie and that slime thing that scared Sigourney Weaver? How terrifying is this?

As a child, I was afraid of all kinds of things. I was afraid of wolves in the woods and I never ever sucked my thumbs because of Struwwelpeter whose parents cut them off (thank you brutal German fairytales), ankle-grabbing monsters under my bed, clowns (Pennywise the Clown still make me uncomfortable) and death. There was a time when I was afraid of the Kombucha mushroom in my mom’s fridge. I opened it and saw that there are these organisms in a big glass doing laps while seemingly waving at me. Gross!

For entertainment purposes, I am taking this a step further by adding things that I find disgusting or weird, rather than irrational fears.

People who wear full camouflage in an urban environment. Well, this is kinda scary.

Flossing teeth together in the bathroom. Weird, not scary.

Spiders that crawl down my neck and then disappear in my sweater but I can feel them on my back.

Public bathrooms with poo in the toilet and a line of people outside waiting. Terrifying and scary. And disgusting.

Black flies at the cottage. They have little fangs and rip your skin out until you bleed to death.

Trying to drive up one particular steep hill on the way to the cottage when the roads are super icy. Usually, it takes three attempts while we sadly slide down again. My blood freezes.

Going to sleep knowing that there is a huge spider in the room. Actually, anything involving spiders is scary. Especially big ones.

Hugging or kissing someone who is covered in sweat.

Climate change scares me. Even more so since I studied biochem and know a bit more on how things “work”.

Cracking floor noise in my apartment when I am in bed. And Joel is in bed. WHAT COULD THIS BE? The house is old, but …. clearly either a ghost or murderer.

Whatever swims beneath me in a river, lake or ocean. Giant colossal squid? You just never know. Also, diving super deep scares me.

Opening the cork on a champaign bottle.

I train an army of creepy squirrels and raccoons on my balcony but they both freak me out. I think it is their little hands.

(Flying) Cockroaches. Can they fly straight into my mouth while I scream?

Looking in the rearview mirror of a car when it is dark outside and imagine to see a stranger who sits in the backseat.

When it comes to fear, sometimes there is no escape. Sometimes there is no easy exit. But at the same time, there is beauty in any nightmare. And I deal with it. Everytime – no matter what.