. Reflections- Thoughts over Breakfast.

 

While my son and I had breakfast yesterday he asked me if I can explain what a calendar is. This made me think again how fast time flies; we are days into the new year and 2017 seems to be so far behind already. I let the last day of the year pass without putting much energy into thinking and reminiscing about what happened especially in the last couple of months and other stuff that 2017 held for me since I was occupied otherwise. 2017 will always be the year when major things in my life ended and new adventures began.  

In some way, I am feeling excited about a fresh start even though I, of course, cannot predict what 2018 will hold. Nonetheless, it is a new beginning and I am more than ready to leave all the sadness behind and of course, continue to move forward. I made some huge steps and decisions and I mentally grew which shaped me into the person I am today. I decided that it is important to focus on my health now and to slow down. Why those decisions? The only answer I can come up with is that I genuinely needed to. It couldn’t go on like this anymore. 

The goal is to be more intentional about certain things in my life and areas that need the most attention. I had to learn that random things can’t trigger bad memories or sadness anymore. At least not to that extent where they slow down my life. I had to realize that this particular pain can only exist when I hang around in the past for too long so I switch to the present. This past that does not exist anymore. Time heals all wounds but unfortunately not on my schedule. I cannot speed things up because it may do the opposite. I know that by focusing on the relationship I have with myself I will improve. This way, the situation I am in gets so much better to deal with and I am able to figure out the root of my emotions. Nobody knows better what’s good for me but myself.  So all I can do now is respect time. 

I am trying to analyze my emotions. Emotions are a crazy phenomenon, especially when it comes to love. I listened to this and that interesting TED talk recently that discussed the concept of love. Helen Fisher analyzed love as being an apparatus of nature used to ensure we simply coexist long enough to reproduce making sure the continuity of our species continues and nothing else. I try to understand why I felt and had certain emotions and feelings for one person in the first place. I reckon that relationships are not successful based on common interests but rather on common priorities. And when priorities differ too much, it does not work. 

These days I am realizing that all those “scratches and bruises” of failed relationships add character. They give my heart a better feel and look. It is a tough time, yet I will come out as a better person. Nature tends to work out this balance that things work themselves out in a certain way but healing will eventually come nonetheless. I have all the tools to survive this and my broken heart heals. What happened does not determine my happiness; however, the reality is how I deal with those things that occurred. 

By letting yesterday go I realize that some of this pain actually makes a tiny bit of sense yet some other things that happened never will. I do not have this need to make sense of them anymore because it robs me of the ability to enjoy my NOW moments. I simply leave the past where it belongs and let some of the lessons find me slowly like creeping up from underneath my bed. I realized that suffering and going through all this improved my situation and me as a person.  Sometimes new things and situations might be frightening and uncomfortable initially but that’s in some way a recipe for growth as well. I also have to keep in mind that fewer expectations mean fewer disappointments. If certain people still tend to let me down or stop providing and the behavior keeps repeating into a pattern, it is on me to pay more attention and make it stop. In a certain way, blame and power go hand in hand and giving it away may not be the best choice, eh!? Whenever a person let me down, I take the time to figure out if I want to allow that to happen again since the past is just the past. All I am doing now is improving the present choices to hopefully have a better future. Thankfully, I know that my heart is very resilient. I now specifically pay attention to actions over words since they are shockingly revealing in my case. 

Every moment I receive is mine and mine alone. I can choose to waste it in the past or worry about the future or I can simply just be in the present. If people don’t appreciate the way I am or do not want to be with me anymore since they chose to be with someone else, then they simply need to move on without me. The company I keep is also my choice.

I learned that even when things are going well, I have to be prepared for the most horrible scenarios because it will make it less insane when it happens. I don’t have to trust a world or person I cannot control. I am staying focused on my journey one step at a time. There is just so much to experience and learn along the way. Afterall, it is okay to discover, get embarrassed, make mistakes and to be uncomfortable with new things. This life is so short anyway and I have to add now that I did explain to my son what a calendar, days, months and a week is after all those thoughts. 

.Be(a)d transition.

The other day it hit me. I cleaned and went through a bunch of Petit Joel’s things and realized, there is no baby in the house anymore. No high chair, no baby toys, no stroller and no more diapers. I had to buy him new clothes again (he is a four-year-old toddler clothing size 5/6!).  It is just weird and so fast how this all happens even though I only have one child that hits all these milestones so quickly. So, a couple of weeks ago my son told me he would love to have a bunk bed. “A bed where I can climb up a couple of stairs and hide underneath a little tent like my friend Jacob has,” he said. So we did the transition to a twin size loft bed. Something like this. 

I knew he needs a new bed since he had outgrown his crib. To make other moms hate me I have to add that he never tried to climb out of his crib when he was a baby. He stayed in there until I picked him up. I eventually removed the front part so he was able to get in and out by himself to get to the bathroom but this just did not feel right anymore. Whenever he stretched out he touched the end of the bed.

This kid is literally growing in his sleep, I reckon. So, it was time for the transition from crib to bed. I wanted to wait a little longer to get him a new bed and did a lot of research on which one would be the best. I had a bunch of options and ideas and showed them to him since he has obviously a voice in this process. 

Long story short:  He fell in love with the IKEA loft/bunk thing so I bought his dream bed while he played at Småland; I only had 45 minutes to get everything done because this is how long the kids were able to stay in that convenient daycare! There were cases in Germany where parents literally dropped their kids off in the morning but never set one foot into IKEA to buy a LETSFICK mattress, a plant or new bed. They simply used the free daycare. Initially funny, but now they have all these damn strict rules. 

I loaded this bed into my car and drove home rather uncomfortably. It took me four hours to build this thing; in hindsight, it was okay and fun. The instructions are pretty clear but when a four-year-old is running around trying to “help” it is just not easy. He doesn’t understand what it all means and that he cannot climb the stairs if there are no screws adjusted yet. Overall, the bed transition went really well; no incidents, only one accident (the kid is clean for several months now and I am so proud of him; and myself, ha!) I do not want a trophy or anything but I really think I did a great job raising him so far. 

On a different note, the question my father asked was, “How many screws do you have left?” Well, seven but the bed is stable. I spent a rather sleepless night in it; his small body cuddled up next to mine. I have to say that he is the sweetest ever in these difficult past days and weeks since he feels me; we are almost one person. We spent the last four years together, pretty much non-stop. It is so weird because sometimes I think he knows what I need or try to say. The other day he cuddled up next to me on the couch and said, “Everything is going to be okay, mommy!”

And of course, it will be. He is such a good kid who gave me a huge amount of strength when I thought I cannot go on. I did not want to eat but I had to cook because he needs to eat. I did not want to get up but he needed to go to school. I did not want to continue the thesis and thought about throwing it all away but I knew it is the right thing to do for him and me. He showed me that I need to avoid suffering and let go to just play with him and once again I climbed out of this dark hole of self-pity and moved on. The things we are capable of are amazing but only I can realize that potential. The result will be growth and one of the biggest obstacles I have to overcome is myself. A very good friend of mine would say now, “Think about the kids in any slum in South Africa to realize what a problem really is”. The challenges will get tougher but it will all be manageable in the long-run. 

What keeps me going these days is that my son shows me what love is and even though I do not want to use the word unconditional anymore, I feel that he in his little world loves me unconditionally. Change is not scary anymore and I enjoy the present since I don’t get the moments back realizing that all the things I asked to receive for so long I can give to myself; especially love. It is inside where I determine if I am happy and decide what to focus on. 

All I have to do now is to play with trains and build new tracks and slowly ride along on them. 

.what I learned and know.

Really? Sometimes, things change. 

Il faudrait traverser un universe lyrique

Comme on traverse un corps qu’on a beaucoup aimé

Il faudrait réveiller les puissances opprimées

La soif d’éternité, douteuse et pathétique” – Michel Houellebecq

Getting knocked down in life is hard but it is important to get back up and keep moving on. The biggest battle I fight is with myself. I learned that I have to let go and that certain people are not meant to be in my life since they just create pain. I learned that I have to stop feeding myself bad thoughts. I learned that I do not need more evidence. I learned that I have to let go and overcome doubt, fear, negative thoughts and excuses. I learned that I have to be selfish at this point since this is my life, my decisions, and actions that count while of course allowing others to do their own thing. I learned that the fewer expectations I have, the better off I am (e.g. no more waiting for a bit of acknowledgment or encouraging sweet words). I learned that trying harder, yet still not doing enough in some person’s eyes, means I am with the wrong persons. 

I know that instead of trying to find that “perfect”, right person for myself, I rather focus on becoming exactly this person. I know that being around people who I actually do not want to be around with is just a waste of time. There is limited room in everyone’s life and I know that I am the one who allows who can and cannot take up space in my life. I know that I choose the things I focus on and if this entails cutting off toxic relationships, then so be it. Most importantly, I am being honest with myself. No lies because lies suck and do not get me anywhere. I create the life I want by deleting things that I do not enjoy anymore. 

“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” – Lao Tzu

I know that I don’t care anymore what “others” think of me and my situation since I realized how rare and little they did and do in the first place. I know that judgements are really just reflections of us. I know that it is an awesome feeling to surround myself with people who encourage me to be the person I want to be. I know I am most impressed by people who try not to impress me, or are simply “good guys” since those are the ones that really matter. I know that when things were the most difficult in my life, those friends reminded me to see the opportunities rather than just the challenges. 

I learned that losing someone who I thought was special in my life felt like this person ripped out a huge chunk of me. I learned that I felt naked, like a turtle without its shell thinking that a certain amount of time building things with that person simply no longer exists and disappeared. I learned that emotionally I felt like I am losing it and this incredible emptiness like being jolted out of a familiar place that I created for myself. I learned that once the emotions were exhausted (they just got tired of being up all night and so did I), room for logic appeared and I rather pondered on those thoughts. I learned that I do not need anybody to tell me how I should feel, act or what I should believe (e.g. “wipe away those tears and give 200% to make this work” or “you need sun”). I learned that I do not need someone to tell me what my purpose is. I give my life purpose without looking for an easy road because there is none. Monotony was never my things. 

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

I learned to paint my picture the way I want it to be painted since this life is my canvas and nobody but I holds the brush. I learned that the words love and unconditional mean nothing to me anymore since the love I thought I was seeking was loaded with conditions. I learned that independence is salient (there is that smart word again) and dependencies are unhealthy. I learned that other people can exploit my need for affection and love for their own benefit. I learned that I cannot hold this against them but I can stay away from such people. I learned that the strongest don’t survive but rather the most adaptable. I did not learn but have been reminded by my body that health is the most important thing in my life and messing around with it is not good. I learned that whatever I have to go through in life, I just have to deal with it but most importantly learn and grow from it. 

I know life is not fair. Never was, never will be. But I am building this strong, solid relationship with myself while paving my own road with less traffic. 

.Fall 2017.

I just submitted my final course paper for graduation and the research I worked on all summer and fall. I cannot believe I finished both. It feels awesome and I will never forget what I have been through while trying to focus and write. It was the toughest time in my life, yet I continued with incredible strength. I had help from very close friends who listened patiently to every word I said because they care. They love to spent time with me and help. This is when I started to realize things about my life as this year comes to an end.

Many things came to an end in the last couple of weeks while other fantastic things happened. Some people in my life chose to walk on different paths from now on. Others even do this with another person and became less trusting while I am fortunate to build trust with the ones that actually really matter. 

One of the most important questions I asked myself at this point in my life is, “Why?” Why did certain things happen in my life that threw me around and kept me breath- and speechless, sad, disappointed, angry and in intense pain. I had been thrown out of a situation I valued and been kicked into a new world that felt cold and unknown. I felt worthless, scared, sad and cold. Everything I thought I knew, that was familiar to me or I believed I understood disappeared quickly into nothingness.

What I realized is that the heart doesn’t break the same way when something more intense comes along the way. It is this injury on the inside that lingers around like a bad cough and I mostly have to rely on the mercy of time to heal – time that usually does not work on my schedule. This helpless feeling and sickening pain as if I would be drowning thankfully eventually stopped. 

Certain things kept me occupied that I almost lost track of my research and work for a bit. Then friends pushed me out of this dark place of thought and misery. I just felt vulnerable and tons of hurt and in pain. A valuable realization dawned on me as I paused and took a long deep breath. A clear realization that things need to change since I do not want this to go on like it did for the last several months or years. I question this path I followed for several years now because of a situation that caused shock in my life by shaking me awake the hard way.

This situation made me pause, reflect and ask “salient” (cool word mostly used in academia instead of important to sound smart) questions. And yes, I spent countless sleepless hours in bed staring at the ceiling. Nights are tough these days but I am not afraid of them anymore. I appreciate my thoughts, observe them and understand. Thoughts come and go like clouds but I don’t let them affect my health. My health is what is most important to me these days. “Don’t break, get back up!”

These moments of sadness led me to a new path that is a lot better aligned with the goals I, me, this person typing this, wants to reach. I asked why too many times and determined that I simply have to recalibrate my actions around the new goal and purpose. Believe me, it was not easy. Of course, there are other important questions that are easily overlooked, yet they are important to ask to eventually reach a moment of revision and clarity. For example, questions like, “Why am I doing X, Y, and Z in the first place?” I asked myself this questions a million times throughout my research, yet I am about to send out the application and proposal for my Ph.D. The journey is valuable, as valuable as the destination, I reckon. This notion influences what I do on a daily basis and it also in some way determines the outcome of it all since I consider who I may involve to come along with me; even if it might be on a spiritual level for now while considering the bigger picture. 

A ton of pressure went off my back since I accomplished what I wanted to do. These days, I love to do absolutely nothing. I love to just sit quietly, with no music or other distractions since I can even do this why my son plays upstairs in his room. I either keep my eyes closed or I stare at the wall for 15 minutes and it feels awesome to just be for a while. 

To just be for a while is a great way for me to stop over- thinking and analyzing things. I crawled out of this dark hole and I see more clearly now while at the same time looking at the situation very critically. I used the last three weeks as a valuable time to outsmart myself and be a better person by controlling things in my life again. Would I have listened to my inner voice, I should have heard the tiny whisper that resisted a long time ago. This tiny whisper that made me see things usually in a negative way and sometimes trust blindly. This tiny whisper is quiet now. I won’t mistake incompatibility for my personal worth since my personal worth is determined only by me. I realize that all I have is NOW. Yesterday does not exist anymore and the future can only be assumed. Change is the only consistency in life, eh!? Everything is just temporary and looking at the grand scheme of things, I realize how little it all matters since choices had been made (not by me) a long time ago. So, I focus on adapting to the new situation. Moving on.

I am healing and turning again to what I love the most. My son, myself, my health and writing. 

.Following my Dream.

“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” – Lao Tzu

I did it again. I quit another secure job with great benefits, great opportunities and great everything else. It was not easy and there were many thoughts involved that kept me up all night. I went to university to study and finish a Masters degree with no sense of a destination but doubled down on an anxiety attack shuffled with a somewhat mental playlist of worries on repeat all. “I do not want to burn down this bridge. This job gives me security and safety (no pun intended) and a good pension. I should go back to New York “, I said to myself over and over even though I know deep inside that I am not certain if I will even receive my pension in the end when I am like 65. I am German: security, safety and worrying about everything is very important to us. Quitting my job? A nightmare for many or just a dream? Quitting a job is not the end. One door closes and many others open. 

What makes me really happy? Is it a job like this? Is it “big money”? Is it working in a cubicle from 9-5? The answer is no. After I resigned I felt I lost what had rooted me for so long even though I was on “Leave without pay”. What gave me security and to break down this bridge was definitely not easy for me. Initially, I felt small, alone and unsteady, un/and insecure in a way. But, I also realized that I am on a path to something new. Something better maybe and if it even just a clean slate to a fresh start in a new country. So I have done this major step of resigning and now it feels normal. It feels somewhat good and I am content with my decision. I am starting to adapt to something new while continuing to appreciate the simple things.

My living habits have changed even more. I live simpler which makes me happier. I also cleaned my house and sold a ton of stuff that was useless to me and just sat around collecting dust.  For now, I am not defined by my former job anymore and I recently discover a somehow dormant resilience I thought I forgot completely.  Simplicity overall. 

So what actually happened when I quit my job and followed my dream? 

I realized what is really important. It is not money. It is not security because anything can happen anytime. But love for myself first is salient. Next is love for my family and to find fulfillment in what I am doing on a daily basis. It is all so surreal but I see the bigger picture already since I know what I really want to do, what this dream of mine is and I just have to simply move forward to achieve it. I asked myself what would really make me happy. I left my job to make my own. I want to be a full-time writer and my book manuscript is edited and ready to go. I would also love to own a small bookstore with a café selling used books and some homemade pastries and good coffee. Does this all sound too surreal? I don’t think so! Until I open my bookstore I know I will have to find another job which I am applying for and I have some great opportunities coming up. I am not daydreaming, waiting for something to magically happen and relying on ze husband to support me forever. I am grateful, however, that I am able to follow my dream because he supported me so far. Studying overseas as an international student is not cheap so I thank him for that. 

These days I find myself sitting at a café in the morning or in the library working on my projects that I truly love until the afternoon when I have to pick up my son. My schedule is pretty flexible and I love it. That would have been not possible before. Now I have this amount of freedom that feels great but is also terrifying and exciting. Am I eventually going to make enough money to cover our living costs and maintain the standard we have? Making money by solely writing is tough. Since I started this blog, I removed all the advertisement that I initially installed because I don’t want to distract the reader which also means zero dollars for me. This does not matter for now because I created this lifestyle with less stuff and spending by kicking consumerism habits which conveniently added more space and time in my life. Throughout my time away from a “real job” and a lot of thinking I realized that I cannot chase happiness by acquiring stuff. 

I did not rush this decision to resign but thought this step through for many weeks and months and in the end, I have to say that it brings me one step closer to my vision of what I really want to do and our long-term goals as a family which is first to live intentionally. One small decision after the other to change something and aligning them with my daily actions works pretty well so far. 

.diets and health.

So, here is the thing. I love to eat. I love good food. I love comfort food even though I usually feel bad, stuffed and gross after eating it. I also admit that I have tried many different diets throughout my life and changed them up; especially in my 20s but these days I am more into a holistic approach to food and life which makes the most sense to me. Whenever something new came out like raw food, paleo, vegan, gluten-free and whatnot, I gave it a try and pretty quickly realized that this is not “it” either. I don’t want my diet to tell me what I can or cannot eat on a daily basis. When I really listen to my body, I know what I need. I also don’t think that my overall well-being improves if I just eat vegan for one week and then go back to piling up my plate with meat. 

I read an article in The New Yorker recently that a woman tried to live on the “baby-food diet”. Not kidding! This is “a thing”. Other live by eating carrots only with the negative side effect that their skin turns orange. Sometimes when I dieted, the reason was weight loss and I thought that working out like crazy and eating two apples a day will turn me into a new person. Well, it did. I felt miserable and hungry. I thought about all these diets I have been through in my life and will highlight the best, most effective ones for me here while I keep experimenting with my overall health. 

I had been diagnosed with gallstones last autumn and did a juice/gallbladder cleanse on my own which I DO NOT recommend because it is VERY painful. I should have contacted someone who knows more about how to get rid of gallstones naturally. The doctors, however, told me instantly to get the gallbladder removed since it is “useless and the body does not need it”. In any case, I kinda like my gallbladder and what it does, so no removal. I got rid of all three gallstones by drinking freshly squeezed green juice only for about three weeks. It was not easy but I did it. The hunger is initially insane but stops after three days and then it just felt good before I felt really bad again when my body got rid of the gallstones. For more details on how I did it and what books I read, email me. 

At some point in my life, I thought, the Paleo Diet is the thing but I did not last longer than one week. The initial concept is okay; to detox from sugar but I just cannot eat meat in some form every single day or every other day. My son and I eat meat maybe once a week in form of chicken or chicken stock in a soup. I had a crazy amount of energy which was awesome; I blame the tons of veggies for that rather than the meat. The diet is also pretty expensive. All the meat…and I like pasta, so I quit. 

The diet that stuck with me for the longest is probably veganism, yet I do not practice it 100% either. I don’t eat soy products simply because I don’t like the taste of it. Soy products made me feel the worst physically. I tried all types of tofu in all sort of variations but c’mon: SOY CHICKEN or Cashew Cheese? How can I use this in a French Onion Soup? Right! Not at all. Vegan Chicken Wings? Buffalo Cauliflower? Zucchini pasta is okay but not always. On the socially fancy side, this diet is great. I went out, flipped my hair and asked for a “soy latte” or if they have “alternatives and vegan options”. [So annoying, I know.] This diet is not cheap either. 

I tried Gluten-free. Fuck it. Nothing needs to be added here. 

So this is what I am sticking with: Intermittent Fasting. How I apply it to myself is that I just don’t eat for about 16 hours straight three times a week. The awesome thing is, that I can enjoy my French Onion Soup or the occasional muffin and chocolate. I just give my organs rest and this feels so good. I usually eat supper at around 6 pm and then nothing anymore for 16 hours. Breakfast at around 10 am doesn’t sound so too bad, does it? And be aware, I don’t do this every single day. By practicing this diet overnight, I don’t run around like a sad, weak, hungry version of myself and I can still enjoy all this good food that is out there. We only live once, right? And, honestly, whenever I have two or three slices of pizza for supper, I am not hungry at all the next morning so I skip breakfast and have something later. 

Food for thought: Overall, I learned that no diet changed my life so far and I love to eat and enjoy trying new things. I realized that a good night’s sleep combined with the intermitted fasting makes me feel good on a daily basis.  I also love and want wine and Camembert. And dark chocolate. 

.Where Should I Begin.

I had a pretty productive day today. Finished some important work for my research and course and edited my book manuscript that I will hopefully publish soon. I have been a hermit for the last couple of days/weeks and either hid at home in my office or at the library to get as much work done as possible. Not much human contact at all besides spending time with Petit Joel. When it was about time to pick him up from school today I thought he would be really happy to eat a cake pop so I headed to the nearby coffee shop. The little things. 

While I waited in this humongously long line to place my order I realized the woman in front of me silently crying. She stared at her phone, scrolled nervously through messages, put it in her jacket pocket to just take it out again two seconds later. Out of the blue and catching me completely off-guard, she suddenly turned around and we started talking. She told me her husband fell in love with someone else and she just found out a couple of days ago. “Do you think this can be fixed? Do you think we have a chance? Do you think he will stop seeing her? How can I ever trust him again”, she asked me while I handed her a napkin from the little service counter where you can add milk to your coffee and get a lid for a coffee-to-go. [Yes, the line was THAT long!] I smiled at her. No clue why, but I did. I reckon, no matter how heartbreaking a situation is I figured what could make her feel better. Maybe a stupid joke (I am good at that, too), something kind, true, funny or wise may help her. She continued talking while we slowly made our way to the counter feeling like I traveled back in time. She went from frustration and despair to hate and back to love. “We have two children! How can he cheat on me? Okay, we haven’t had sex or good sex and conversations for a while but why would he do this to me”, she sobbed. Her tones kept shifting from complete hopelessness back to being hopeful. “This line is very long, eh”, I said while handing her more napkins. 

What do I know about relationships, marriages and all that? I am not a genius, I made and make mistakes but it felt I am giving this woman a private therapy session while waiting in line since I gave her this feeling that I understand what she is talking about. It was just fascinating to witness. She told me so many great things, too and it seemed like she figured things out by talking to me. We spoke for about 15 minutes and I want to share some of the lessons that were most memorable to me. She told me that time won’t heal her but actually what is happening throughout this time. She told me how she tries to build trust and affection back up after her husband has been unfaithful by using time and action wisely. She added that she does not want to end her marriage and wants to work on it. “Time will tell, I need time to move forward with him. Time will put everything back in place. I just need to wait”, she said why I silently hoped that this line will move forward. Don’t get me wrong. This conversation was good but I was late to pick up my son and this woman is crying, devastated and this is most certainly not a good, calm place to talk peacefully since it seemed everybody in the café was listening at this point. Besides this, I told her that she has to give the time meaning and a shape to make this work. 

She told me that there is a difference understanding her husband mentally and emotionally. It is important to really listen to the other person and have a decent communication and trying to understand the partner. She said, “sometimes I talk to him and I have this feeling he does not get it, he does not understand what I try to say, he does not connect or cares about it. He hurt me and I try to understand”. I told her that it seems they are stuck in some argument and discuss this over and over. Maybe it is time to change the approach and see things from a different perspective that could inspire new levels of honesty? The woman felt understood while we made our way to order cake pops. She said that the weirdest thing for her is that her husband constantly talks about what happened to him and why he “needed” to cheat on her but leaves out what he did to her. “He never said I am sorry or I feel bad for you”, she said now with an angry tone. “Maybe you just need some type of acknowledgment of your experience from him rather than an apology”, I suggested. Who am I? A marriage counselor or what? 

Studying linguistics, languages, and discourse I learned how powerful words can be. Sometimes by just changing the tone,  language and the way we speak things experiences look different instantly. Sometimes repeating the same thing over and over does not make sense, is hurtful and useless. It is like running around in circles.

While we were about to order our coffees she told me that she just realized something. “I realize that I never listened to my husband anymore. I did not ask what he wanted or even considered his pleasures, fantasies, ideas, thoughts, and desires. He came home every night from work, we ate supper, talked a bit and he was off doing something. He fell asleep on the couch. No conversations anymore; no being truly intimate adding pleasure. When did we stop listening and hearing each other?”, she added. 

We ordered our coffees and pastries, paid and she thanked me for listening. Then she left. Just like that. I realized that this quick conversation just scratched the surface of her story but I could see this woman and maybe see myself in her a bit which sparked more room for thought and conversations I must have with myself and my life. 

.now – what next.

"You left me, sweet, two legacies, -
A legacy of love
A Heavenly Father would content, 
Had he the offer of; 
You left me boundaries of pain; 
Capacious as the sea, 
Between eternity and time, 
Your consciousness and me" - Emily Dickinson 

It is getting cold here, especially in the mornings and at night. Cold, grey and wet. One thing that I have been trying in the last couple of days is getting up earlier than my son, make some tea and have time for myself to read and write. It is such a peaceful way to start the day. My son and I are fighting a pretty bad cold for the past three weeks that seems to linger way too long. Looking out of the window now it is pitch-black. Some cars are driving by on the opposite side of the river and I can see the reflecting lights like tiny sparks of joy dancing on the water. 

I am sitting here, somewhat still besides the occasional cough that makes my lungs hurt. If anyone would ask me right now how I am doing, I would say – “I have been better.” Here I am in this house in Canada while the world is going on and it is not easy to simply step away from the things that feel heavy on me these days but I am getting swept away and occupied with everyone else’s everything else that keeps them busy. It is a somewhat odd sensation to on the one hand feel overwhelmed with happiness and joy when I see my son but also to say goodbye to some people I love without knowing if it is/was the last goodbye. Things happened along the way and I am still sorting out my thoughts and even question if it is my fault that caused it all. I experience many new firsts but also many potential lasts that are very time consuming and keep me not being able to focus on my studies. 

All these new special circumstances, possible lies that have been told, possible truths that cannot be revealed and new scenarios that are being created wear down on me. Am I the one who caused it all? Am I? If I really think about it, isn’t it always the case? It aways takes two? What does it mean to fall in love with someone else? What is love in the first place? Is it just a four-letter word meaning nothing? It is easier not to think about this now, so I don’t. It is a bit easier to paddle on the surface without drowning with just some simple questions and answers. Sometimes I want to go way further in. So far in to let myself feel the things I am not letting myself feel and to just stick my finger in the wound and push a couple of times until it really hurts. “That drive to Portugal came to my mind.” 

For some reason, autumn always transports me back to being and feeling very small and vulnerable. A friends told me it is not getting better, this is just the beginning!”, while I silently hoping he referred to the weather in Canada. When I think I am okay and things settled down in my head bits and pieces somewhere in the back of my memory float and creep silently up to the top. Things that have or have not being said, special moments, memories – oh sweet nostalgia. A couple of days ago I had one of those perfect moments. Those lucky ones where everything seems to be perfect: one is in the right place at the right time and the favourite song is playing on top of it all. That kind of perfect moment I am talking about here. Where you just know, THIS IS IT with an overwhelming feeling. Then one little message made it all crumble. Made my tiny empire, love and family island crack; however, not crash. 

What does my stomach tell me? Or should I abandon my gut and betray the inner voice when it tells me that something needs to change. Closing my eyes to my heart but instead listening to my instincts or logic? My logic tells me I want “Salad” but my gut says “Pasta!” damnit. Or is this something different? Let my head or gut lead? 

I want the before-stage again. I want to hold it so close to my chest and protect every single second of it and make us sweep as far as possible to a place where no bad news exist. Like a safety bubble. Back to reality: I know this is not how it all works. So I am taking this new situation just day by day trying to build onward and upward secretly going through the five-stages of grief but being somewhat stuck between anger and bargaining. While lingering on to the bigger picture and special moments my son comes down with a teddy bear in his arm. He curls and snuggles up next to me on the couch and says he cannot sleep. I touch his head and tell him a story while feeling his warm breath on my arm. Another single car drove by followed by complete darkness while Earth continues to rotate around the sun. 

.honesty – the naked truth.

“Yet down the line, lay clear uncertainties: promises made and promises to keep. Buried ambitions too, beckon and prod us to consider the harvest we’ll reap” 

Everyone makes mistaken, everybody lies but the truth will come out eventually. It is funny but if I am being honest: I lie but I am getting better at avoiding it. I lie about when I am late, I lie sometimes when I say “yes” but I mean “no”. Sometimes I even lie about important things that might potentially hurt feelings in the long run. I consider all those lies “my white lies”. Those are kind of acceptable for me. They are sometimes even kind, fine and appreciated. What do I teach my son though? Rule number one: Do not lie. Rule number two: do not be an asshole. Since number one is pretty straightforward, number two is way more complicated it seems. We also lie when we feel that whenever the truth reveals itself it might be risky. We might lose a lot. We might lose a partner, marriage or relationship. We try to cover things up, test things in secret and see how they evolve slowly. 

I have had a bunch of relationships in my life and what I have learned is that truth and honesty are the only rules I want from my partner. But, whatever the relationship looked like: platonic, work-related, romantic, sexual, they all made me reconsider and think about my rules however. For me it is so much easier to tell my partner exactly what I want, require, need or expect and be straightforward about it than talking around the subject or lie. Especially, whenever the relationship is complicated in the first place for example when it is a long-distance relationship, certain lies can make everything even messier. It is such a great feeling when partners can talk about anything freely without having tangled up stuff in the back of their mind. Thinking about how to tell my partner the truth without making him angry is not always possible but I aim for it at least. Life happens, love happens, situations and feelings change. We either adapt or we split up and everyone goes their separate ways discovering new things. There is nothing awkward about it. Again, this is life. 

One question that popped up several times in the last couple of days for me was how to be honest after having my feelings hurt. How does someone do it? Let’s say, you have a long-distance relationship (with someone who is in the military for example) which is very, very difficult in the first place and almost never works. Someone feels lonely, in addition they have trouble at home and useless fights and arguments and they meet someone else who they can talk to for hours while discovering each other, realizing after sharing wine, cheese, sausages and making secret plans for the future that this person might be the one. Better than the person waiting at home. They talk more. They become close friends and need to spend more time with each other to cope with certain horrible situations that they have to deal with on a daily basis. Here, I reckon, it is difficult to be honest to your significant other who is waiting at home. Telling the truth could mean that you might lose this partner. I don’t remember where I read it but it went something like this: honesty is an art, you first have to know yourself. 

“But my heart has awakened, trembles, calls. It does not ask for the future ahead; it asks only to be here with you now, in the shortened days, when green leaves turn red” 

Overall, honesty makes life simpler. If I don’t tell person A that X, Y and Z is okay but say that X, Y and Z sucks it might be hurtful in the beginning but it is at least honest. I am not dreading myself through an event with a fake smile looking at my watch waiting for it to end. I want to be honest when I endeavour to understand and listen to my own feelings. My problem sometimes is that I can feel hate and love at the same time. Same goes for anger or gratitude. Life is not simple. We are not simple but I can try to understand and learn the root for my weird emotions and outbursts sometimes. This leads to -> communicating these issues in a normal tone and voice with my partner. Telling the truth means risk, it means being scared, I already mentioned that, which makes me vulnerable but then again, it feels better later on and to be open for the person’s response that might even hurt. Just don’t be an asshole. This is a start. I think. 

Honesty

I expect to feel shock at any moment when you are gone. I think I am ready for it, yet I know I never will be. I do not expect this shock to be obliterative, a feeling that is discounting to mind and body. When I sometimes think how nice it would be for you to just be here and ask me where I put your shoes but I cannot know the unending absence that follows….. the void. The missing you. The sadness. The lonely nights sometimes where I want to curl up having my head touched by you feeling your breath close to me. Considering that  the person I love  most in the world disappearing from my life would be a chapter I do not want to start to write. I don’t want you to become the photograph on the table, the memory, the thought about good times. I cannot fathom this feeling of letting go of you. Or letting you float off with someone else….

There will be time for us to play, to laugh, to wander down the unseen winding ways. And there will be time enough to revel in presence as we pass these autumn days”. 

. “You should have X, Y and Z by now. I am 36.

I heart the question, “what do you really want, Daniela?; “what do you really need, Daniela? or “really think about it hard, will you” more than one million times in the last couple of days. Also, don’t tell me what I should have, lady at Joel’s school. Thinking about it now though and being constantly reminded, I decided to make a list (I love lists) of things I have accomplished, things that make me me and some random stuff I through in here and there. 

I almost have my Masters degree in my hand. I can basically feel it but I cannot change the damn filter in my vacuum cleaner. I want a new expensive German brand vacuum cleaner that actually cleans my house. I should call the BELL phone person back but I hate being put on hold for ten hours. I should also call the university to ask if they received the cheque. My son almost mentally killed me in the last four days being at home but I love him unconditionally. In addition, I think he might have given me his cold by now, damn. I almost cried at a commercial for cat food the other day. Or at the look of my neighbour’s cat that has diabetes and dementia. I still cannot decide if Yoga pants are pants to wear on a daily basis with other clothing or just to actually work out. Then again, I am a student. 

I love my men-Birkenstocks sandals. So comfortable. My schedule is full of things to do but I procrastinate. I hope this pumpkin pie my friend Joanne dropped of today doesn’t have as many calories as I think it does. I love blueberries. And pie. 

My voicemail has 5,874 unanswered calls by now since I don’t listen to them anymore. Thank you, BELL phone company. I also cannot remember the password. I still buy fish sticks, the ones for kids and I eat them with mashed potatoes. I love to listen to “This American Life” while walking to school. I thought I have been in love a bunch of times, but wasn’t really. I love tomatoes. I love grapefruit but not the grapefruit-diet. 

And apples.

And coffee. Always coffee.

I love cooking and baking things and believe that it is important what is on the plate instead of how expensive the plate was. I made a chocolate tarte and Knaeckebrot and Hummus two days ago, just because. 

Zero fat scares me as well as food labels and ingredients lists. Butter for flavour and taste on everything. Reading is my passion. Nora Ephron and Joan Didion make me laugh, hard. I have given up on Sudoku. My iPhone fell on the floor last year and still has a huge crack on the screen. I removed all the splinters stuck in my finger(s) when swiping and still use it one year after. I definitely need to take it easy on myself and stop stressing so much. I need to start practicing Yoga again on a daily basis. I need to stick to a budget list for now to track expenses. I cannot make crêpe as thin as it is supposed to be. Love terrifies me. I love my son but I think one baby for me is enough. I can never fold fitted sheets. I hate jealousy. I don’t ever want to get Crohn’s disease. I am scared of the dentist and move around on the chair all the time so they cannot get things done. I have a tooth implant that cost me $4500 put in by a dentist who basically stood with one foot on my chest while the other leg was steady on the chair and he tried to drill this metal object into my mouth (sounds like something kinky on pornhub, I know). I love to watch the movie The Dentist before actually going to get a “deep” teeth cleaning done at my dentist’s office. Or Jaws. I love watching Jaws. 

I need to publish my book. I have to go to bed earlier and get some more sleep. I want a baby panda or a puppy. I want a coffee machine that makes awesome coffee at home so I never have to leave the house. I am very comfortable by myself at home. No music, just a book, coffee and couch. I want to spend an entire weekend in bed eating Captain Crunch Berries and Netflix and chill. I want to go dancing. I want to go to a reading again. Or a jazz concert. I want to see Joan Didion’s documentray that will come out on October 11th (Yay, tomorrow!). I think about getting a fancy skin cream and make-up but then don’t use anything but water and my skin is awesome. I love peace and quiet. I want my family around and not 8000 km away. I would move above a pho place and help out in the kitchen. I want to own a bookstore. I want to tell all women who want to have a child to babysit my son for one week whenever he has a tantrum phase, growth spurt, is sick, mean or is simply an asshole for no reason. I want to tell women to look for a partner who reads books. Not magazines. Books! Or studies. Anything that makes their brain work and one can have a decent, intellectual conversation about something awesome once in a while. Also, this person should own a passport and love road trips. The partner should have a bank account by the time he is 30 with savings in it. This partner should also not play games, makes one wonder who he is texting at night in the bathroom with, why he has a “secret” Facebook account with the name Mike Myers or lie. A partner who is nice doesn’t have to be weak. Nice doesn’t mean weak but dangerous and exciting usually means “mean”. I want to tell women they want a partner who doesn’t come home at 6 am on Mother’s day drunk if he/she promised to take care of the kids so you can chill. 

I should sort out some stuff in my life. I should stop cutting my hair at this point (especially my bangs). I should listen to my voicemail and get a new password. I should stop wasting all this money on Starbucks lattes and the damn egg white flatbread. I should throw away my 10,000 year-old black jeans that my mom stitched up pretty well but they ripped on the other side now. I should stop buying things at the University Bookstore (so tempting). I should read all the books I haven’t read in my bookshelf before purchasing another one.