.I am Here for You.

“I am here for you.” Isn’t this such a commonly used phrase? Sometimes it is even used to say I love you or to say call me, please. Sometimes I feel it is randomly applied for no apparent reason and it falls out of people’s mouths the same way Canadians apologize all the time. I honestly did not really know the true meaning of the phrase I am here for you for a long time. I said it many times and my intentions were good but looking back, I am not sure I was the most helpful person to turn to. Whenever a friend came to me with a problem, I would help them in the ways I knew were best and took on their problem(s) as if it was mine to fix or solve. 

I would come up with a plethora of solutions and judgments and am (is this a German thing?) usually too blunt about it. What I didn’t do was use my intuition to sense what the person really needed from me. I know now that the root of my problem was that I over-complicated things. I had this feeling that I have to go way beyond just being there and had to continuously give advice, self-help strategies and/or judgments. I have mentioned this already many times throughout recent posts but this year has been a challenging one so far. I have had to rely a lot on my support network of family and friends to help me get through certain stages in my life. This particular time taught me so much about what it really means to have people who were/are there for me. Through this experience, I have learned how to truly be there for others in ways that actually help them. 

I finally and honestly can say that I am feeling like myself again and I have found the light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel. I have learned how important it is to just simply being there for someone does not necessarily mean physical presence. Talking on the phone, texting, skyping etc. are all ways to show that someone cares. Many times when I had this urge that I need support, all I really want is actually not to be alone. My friends and family made time and are/were available to answer the phone whenever I called and needed them. 

 Sometimes people need to read between the lines a little bit when I try to reach out for help. I find it really hard to admit that I need help and when I do, it usually comes out in a somewhat subtle way. Sort of like asking this weird question, “how are you” but expecting the other one to ask in return so I can go on with what really bothers me. Or asking certain people to stay on the phone until I fall asleep or to fall asleep together which simply means asking them to be there for me. 
Throughout the last couple of months, I learned that I do not have to fix anyone or anything. I have the tendency to help in a big way without even being fully aware of it. I love to fix things since I am a weird perfectionist. I know that I do not need to fix people or their life and with certain individuals, what you see is what you get which is fine and great. These people are perfectly capable of helping themselves and do not need to be fixed. In the same way, I do not need fixing and do not seek this from others.
A friend taught me that I have to listen without judgment. I used to listen but was often just thinking about how to react, fix or what to say or what advice to give. I love how he helped me by letting me get things off my chest while simply listening while not offering any kind of judgment. The last thing I want to hear when I am down is any form of judgment, suggestions or advice (even if the other person means well). 
 
So, my support network just accepts me and shows unconditional love without offering a ton of judgments or advice and they let me be who I am. I think there is just something awesome and beautiful about vulnerability and whenever others share their struggles with me, I get closer to them. And vice versa. I learned to see and use this as an opportunity to practice acceptance and appreciate openness. What all this really boils down to is love or choosing love over fear. This is where we all become one and that we are all the same. In some way, we all want acceptance and love. Whenever I am not sure how to help someone or what to do, I always come back to love. And love tells me what to do. 
 

.Is This Considered Cheating?.

On my quest to figure out relationships I stumbled upon the podcast “Where Should We Begin” and was hooked. Relationship therapist Esther Perel works with anonymous couples in search of intimate, raw and profound details while analyzing topics such as loss, infidelity, sexlessness, sex addicts, adultery and so much more. One of the things Perel mentioned is that she gives adultery a chance. Obviously, I had to get to the bottom of this. 

Did you know that swans, those beautiful romantic creatures floating innocently around and are symbols for sexual fidelity and romance, have some chronic cheaters among them? I am still surprised how swans were able to keep this from us for so long. I reckon there are other species out there who have shown a consistency in being unfaithful lovers. According to scientists (who gets funded for research like this?), only a handful of animals experience monogamy. One I remember was California mice. You should keep that in mind when buying Valentine’s card searching for a perfect cover. Don’t use anything swan! Mice are okay. 

Humans are also bad at being faithful. According to Statistics Canada, estimates of people who fool around on their significant others vary from less than twenty percent to up to seventy percent. Well, those are the numbers of the cheaters we caught. Of course, we cannot find too much reliable data since cheaters are usually untrustworthy or they do not agree on what actually qualifies as cheating. Is kissing someone else cheating? Oral sex does not count, according to Clinton. Sexting? Or when I tell my partner, “I know you have a very stressful job. Do whatever you have to do to get through this”, entail that he can cheat? I mean I did not specifically say, “This does not include to cheat on me” so I guess it is (also) my fault. Statistics further show that women are just as bad as men when it comes to cheating. A couple of years ago, their adulterous options have been somewhat more limited due to economic dependence or domesticity but since women entered the workforce Pandora’s box of temptations has been opened. 

Anthony Burgess describes adultery as “the most creative of sins,” and yes, he is right. Thanks to social media and the ability to connect anywhere, cheating is so easy. Tinder or Facebook your way through infidelity in no time. So does this mean we can just eat “them forbidden apples” even more hungrily than ever? In the US for example, adultery is still illegal in many states and is even seen as a crime that can justify denial of citizenship. According to Esther Perel, however, the desire to stray is not evil but human. In her therapy sessions, she focuses first on the motives why the partner cheated. “To look at straying simply in terms of its ravages is not only reductionistic but also unhelpful, “she writes. So, it is initially okay to experience rage and hate but then the motives and meaning of an affair need to be explored. Perel states that “now the real work begins. To acknowledge the point of view of both parties [since it always takes two] – what it did to one and what it meant to the other”. By trying to analyze what was joyful, liberating, satisfying or meaningful for the one who cheated should be taken into consideration, she adds. 

Whenever an affair is detected, it is usually devastatingly painful for the ones betrayed but maybe it may also be somewhat invigorating. For example, one may consider the expectations of what marriage is/was in the first place. It has been analyzed that to make a relationship function at its best, comfort, excitement, sexuality and intellectual stimulus need to be present mostly at all times. According to Perel, partners are too quick to look elsewhere the “moment that those needs aren’t being met”.

One has to keep in mind that there is no such things as absolute romantic security in relationships. There is no “affair proof” marriage out there. We can tell each other that trust is the most important thing for us in a relationship and that it also is the only thing that should/can not be broken but who can promise this?

The psychoanalyst Adam Philips said that trust is “a risk masquerading as a promise.” I do not want to be seen as the only progenitor of my partner’s desire but rather as a current enjoyer or recipient. “Introducing uncertainty sometimes requires nothing more than letting go of the illusion of certitude. In this shift of perspective, we recognize the inherent mystery of our partner,” she states which means to me that to love is to have, and to desire is to want, and a balance of the two makes for a more enduring connection.

Perel wrote an awesome book that I can highly recommend if you would like to read. Perel is Belgian-born and practices in New York. I just love her European take on desire, love, and lust. 

.Sleeping.

Sleep is so important for our overall wellbeing and definitely not time wasted. All my teachers at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition so far mentioned that getting enough sleep is the key to rejuvenate and be healthy. Nowadays it is so easy to make zero distinction between day and night. Nights turn into days easily. We get bombarded with artificial light, new things, limitless entertainment and new technology that disrupts our sleep when and wherever possible.

Living a hectic, stressful and busy lifestyle makes us forget pretty quickly that our body needs a sufficient amount of sleep to deal with it all. If we like it or not, our body is not a machine but has its natural rhythms to deal with and adapt to changes. We do not even need to think about it. The body just functions and does its thing. After I have taken and passed the anatomy course at my school I am even more in awe of it all. The human body is fantastic but it needs enough sleep to function properly. Did you know that according to Elizabeth Lipski “our culture is sleep deprived? Set your schedule so that you get at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night. This is where your body heals and recenters. Without adequate sleep, it is nearly impossible to heal” (Lipski, 2012, p. 174). 

The book “The Sleep Revolution” by Arianna Huffington was recommended in class and I read it in one day/night (duh!). I love science (nerd) and to get sleep information from all angles. The book provides information about the history of sleep, what happens in the body while we sleep, the role dreams play as well as all the consequences of sleep deprivation. Whenever there is a lot on my mind that keeps me up at night, I try natural remedies such as chamomile, lavender or passion-flower tea, magnesium or calcium (which relaxes the muscles and nerves), or I take the neurotransmitter/hormone Melatonin (3-5 mg) that supports sleep. Melatonin is also very helpful if you are traveling abroad and there is a time change. You take one pill when you are taking off (and doing an overnight flight) to try to help your body to sleep. Whenever I take Melatonin and arrive at my destination I am not quite as exhausted. I also downloaded a guided sleep meditation app on my phone that works really well. 

Other sleep tips that work well for me:

I do not like to sleep in a very dark room since I love to be woken up by natural light in the morning. Through adjusting my sleep rhythm (going to bed between 10-11 pm and waking up between 6-7 am) during the week, I rarely need an alarm clock. I love to stay up longer on weekend and sleep in but my body tells me at around 11 pm that I should get my ass to bed. Turning off all electronic devices at least about half an hour before I head to bed helps. I usually just read a book and relax in bed. 

Whenever I do not get enough sleep (because occasionally I watch too much South Park/Simpsons/Family Guy, eat too much dark chocolate, drink too much wine or analyze life too much), I take a power nap if I get the chance to do so during lunch break. Usually, 15 to 20 minutes is adequate for me to fill up my energy storage again. Sometimes I do not even sleep but rest, relax and let go with my eyes closed. Amazingly, our body has a way of telling us to slow down and I am listening now; a lot better than before. Reflecting on the last couple of months in 2017 it made me realize how little I prioritized sleep but things changed. For the better, and into a healthier, independent and happier me. Signing off. 

Good Night.

.Ze Germans – A closer look.

“Germans are really awesome,” my friend told me the other day. Are we? Being German in Canada means, I, of course, have my “homesick-store” where I can get German cookies, sausages, sauerkraut and Christmas Stollen and Glühwein in the winter. I go to this store at least once a month (conveniently close to my school!) to get a warm “Leberkäsbrötchen” for lunch since one can only stress-eat Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwiches for so long.

When I tell people I am from Germany, the first reaction usually is: WOW, OKTOBERFEST! Well, honestly, having lived in Munich for a couple of years, this is really what many Germans occupy themselves with for the last weeks in September. It seems like everybody loves Oktoberfest. Lederhosen, Dirndls, cuckoo clocks, greasy sausages, sauerkraut and of course hoisting around one-liter Steins of extra strong brewski while rocking back and forth to Schlager

Outside of Munich, it’s a different story. Fun fact: Oktoberfest originally was a public feast honoring the marriage of the Crown Prince Ludwig to Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. I mean, until pretty recently, Germany was a tangled network of Electorates and even today, every region has its own dialect and weird festivals and culture. Does this all sound like “beer” to you? 

In Canada, a country at least about 60 times the size of Germany, many people think that Germany seems synonymous with Bavaria/Beer/Oktoberfest and giant steins of Bier. Germany is also pretzels (yum!), Tracht (a traditional German dress which is, thanks to the Führer’s affection for “traditional things” always seems to carry a bit of unintentional or intentional (if you are a member of the AfD) Nazism.

Some German words and traditions

Have you ever heard the word Schadenfreude? (My dad’s favorite!) You know this feeling when the elevator door closes just before your evil coworker can step in? Or seeing a parking ticket on a Porsche? There is a word for this mix of joy and malice and Germans invented it. Schadenfreude means deriving pleasure from others’ misfortune. A good word to know. Here are some more: 

    1. Fernweh: The opposite of homesickness. You have this feeling of desiring a place yo have never been to. 
    2. Wanderlust: Similar to Fernweh. To see new places and not stay in one place. Literally the desire to wander around. 
    3. Zeitgeist: It describes the prevalent spirit of an era. 
    4. Angst: Use this word anytime when you worry, have anxiety or are scared. German Angst! 
    5. Zweisamkeit: Being together. A feeling of closeness. Zwei means two (people) and is the opposite of Einsamkeit (loneliness). 
    6. Luftkuss: You blow a kiss through the air. Joel and I do this every morning when I drop him off at school. We then pretend that we catch the kiss with one hand, put it in our mouths and swallow it. 
    7. Freudentränen: Tears of joy! 
    8. Frühlingsgefühle: This sounds weird but is actually just a word to describe a feeling of excitement for nice weather or literally when spring is around the corner. 
    9. Verzehren: This can describe the process of literal eating but it can also mean that one desires someone so much you almost want to eat them. 😉 
    10. Geborgenheit: This word is actually almost impossible to translate. It is an intensely emotional moment like when someone returns home after a long time and being held by family members for example. Like comfort but more! It basically means to feel intensely in the moment and exist. 
    11. Augenblick: Warte einen Augenblick! (Wait a second). A super short moment, a blink of an eye. 

 

Many times I just receive blank stares or weird looks when I mention certain German traditions. For example a few weeks ago, I told a friend that children in Germany receive a huge paper cone (Zuckertüte, literally: cone of sugar) full of enough candy to diabeticize their entire class on their first day of preschool. It’s a thing. It’s a German tradition. My friend replied that she knows a German word. “It’s Schnitzelbank,” (SHNIT-sul-BONK) she said. “What the f*** is that supposed to be, “I replied. She said, “Well, I cannot tell the difference between Schiller’s and Goethe’s skull but I know that this is a word in German.” Well, I never heard of it but here is her memory of Schnitzelbank:

So off I went thinking about Schnitzelbank (traditional song here) and googled it immediately. I thought the song was schön (nice). To be fair here, the ö- Umlaut is pretty hard to approximate in English phonetics, just try to say SCHOOOOOON instead of SHANE. Joel and I teach my friend some German here and there but honestly, I have to admit, learning German is not easy at all. I tried to make it clear that Schnitzelbank is feminine so you have to add the article “die” in German. Articles in English are so easy in comparison; everything is just the. He tries to speak German but some things don’t sound richtig. But it does not matter. We keep practicing since it is fun. Beer he understands. And Stein. Prost! 

.Can I fly like Toothless?.

 

My son is four years and six months old now and conversations with him are changing. He is busting out gems left and right and in some way, I can almost have some adult conversations with him. Tonight he watched his favorite movie these days: “How to train your dragon”. I know the entire movie by heart at this point so I picked up a book to read a bit while cuddling with him. Out of a sudden, he asked me, “Mommy, what are you reading?” I told him and he had a bunch of questions which was weird and cute at the same time. He is at such a funny age now, curious, speaks three languages fluently, wise at points so I can learn from him, but then he turns around and wants to fly out of the window like Toothless, the dragon in his movie. 

When we walked to school the other morning, I was reciting certain terms from my anatomy final exam and explained to him why the heart makes the lub/dup sound. He turned to me and said, “I kind of like learning new things more than I like knowing things, mommy. We learn about the heart at school, too.” Joel’s humor is also developing in some witty way. The other day I asked him, “Joel, what is going on over there? With all that noise?” He answered, “Oh, nothing really, just a headless dragon that I tamed because he was trapped in an erupting volcano.” 

It is getting warmer in Ottawa so we went to the playground. Joel saw a friend from school and asked how long he can play with him. I told him, “Mommy brought a book so you can play at least for two hours.” He looked at me, smiled, nodded and ran off. Five minutes later he came back and asked me, “Mommy, what are hours?” 

Joel: “Life throws a lot at us.” Me: “Yeah, wow, that’s deep and so true, my love.” Joel: (pause and thinking) “Yeah, like meteors, hot lava, space junk and garbage from the garbage truck.”

Although we can drive each other crazy at points, this bond Joel and I have makes my heart melt sometimes. The other day I had a slight meltdown because this final exam was on my mind for days. I got Joel ready for bed, read him a story and we cuddled a bit in my bed. I told him that I have to study some more and he said, “Mommy, you will do fine, don’t worry. You are smart.” [I passed the exam btw!]

The other day I saw my neighbor who just had a baby on Monday. She is exhausted, red eyes, no sleep for days and she asked me if this shit is getting better eventually. I told her that only the exhaustion level slightly changes. My son can be sweet but he can also fry my brain. Especially, when I have deadlines, appointments and things that need to get done it may happen that I am dealing with decision fatigue and just say yes to pretty much everything just to keep him calm. [A little update: I have been accepted to the Ph.D. program at Carleton University; have two possible job opportunities, will self-publish my book pretty soon and have an interview here to see if I can supply innovative help with holistic nutrition/depression/suicide/linguistics/police to eventually decrease aboriginal (youth) suicide rates in Canada]. 

With all this going on, solo-parenting my child and him never ever stop talking, I decided to write down every single question this kid had during one single day even though this turned out to be completely intractable. The list does not include requests like “can you wipe my butt, mommy” or “I peed in my bed and now everything is wet so I need new clothes” to “My belly was sick, all the food came out so I need new clothes”. Here is the result. It is just insane what a mom has to go through. Parenting is no joke. This is the conversation from last Wednesday: 

Can I have the iPad? 

Can I have nail polish, too?

Can I have a muffin and a banana for breakfast?

Can you make me waffles for school?

Can I have a Kinderriegel in my lunchbox?

Can I take this toy to school?

Can I mix almond milk and apple juice?

Can I have a bite of your apple?

Can I play a bit?

Can you turn on the song Low Rider?

Can I listen to “Science”? (Sure!)

Can you help me count my money? (Why is he playing with change?)

Can I have chocolate chips or Nutella on my waffles?

Can I mix it?

Can I eat baking powder?

Can I mix it now? Is it my turn?

Can I watch “How to train my dragon 1 or 2 now?”

Can I watch Paw Patrol now?

Can I have chocolate?

Can I bring Mrs. Sweetman a waffle? (Enough with the damn WAFFLES!)

Can we play Lego?

Can we play Paw Patrol, Dragons, hide and seek?

Can we build a cave?

Can I have pasta and salmon/meat sauce for lunch/supper?

Can we go for Pho?

Can we go for Sushi?

Can we paint afterward?

Can I look at your book?

Mommy, are you writing your book? 

Can we go to the bookstore? (ANYTIME!!!!, he knows me too well)

Tell me who makes you so happy when you text/talk on the phone!     😀

Can we call Oma and Opa in Germany?

Can we meet Judith and Keith? (Oma and Opa in Canada)

What time is lunch?

What is time?

Can I text your friend who makes you happy? What are emojis?

Can we go running together? (He is on his bike and I run next to him trying to work out)

Can I watch Dr. Seuss on your phone? (Out with my friend Judith for ice cream) 

Can I have chocolate ice cream for lunch?

Can I have apple juice?

Can I do a magic trick for you?

Can I take my bow and arrow/slingshot/stick on the walk?

Can we go to Cabelas?

Can I wear your coat?

Can I come to your school? Where are my mittens?

Can I put my mittens in your purse? And my hat? And my scarf?

Do you have anything to drink/eat? (While at the bookstore or anywhere really)

Can I have my mittens back?

Can you hold my bow and arrow?

Can you hand me my boots?

Can you button my sweater?

Can you help me with my shoelaces?

Can I have french fries for supper?

Can we play after supper?

Can I leave the table? (this one is actually cool)

May I be excused? (and so is this one!)

Are you done with your food, mommy?

Why do you like salad so much?

Why is pepper so spicy?

Can I sleep in my jeans?

Can I take my books to bed because I still have to study?

Do I have to go to bed NOW?

Just ONE MORE EPISODE, then bed!

Can you read something to me?

One more chapter?

Can I show you my artwork?

Do I have to sleep now?

Do I have to go to school tomorrow?

Can I cuddle with you tomorrow?

Can I keep my lights on?

Can I listen to Benjamin Blümchen?

What are we going to do tomorrow, mommy?

.Intellectual Masturbation.

These days, I cringe when I hear the word love or someone tells me about the concept of “love at first sight”. Both seem to be perpetuated nauseatingly everywhere I look. Everyone seems to be in love, walking hand in hand, kissing on the street not even overly pointing out all the love movies and songs. Among my friends, I see many different versions of this magic force that depict awesome connections, insane emotions but also tons of patience and understanding. 

When I was a child, I believed in love at first sight. Sort of like, you meet someone in High School and stay together forever. “He is the one”, I told my friend Julia in grade 9. Needless to say, he was not. I started looking for another “the one”, followed by others. Recently, I analyzed this love process a bit closer. Every time I started to experience stronger feelings for someone (anything he said or did that felt really awesome and made me happy) some sort of unexplainable chemistry started to develop within me. These weird, special moments like getting lost in his brown, grey eyes or this moment when I looked at someone long enough at a museum who seemed nerdy like me and he finally walked over to ask me out for coffee (turned out to be a creep). Things like this happen in New York all the time. 

Meeting someone new always had this effect on me that when I liked something about him, that this is automatically it. In a heartbeat, it is necessary to move in together as quickly as possible because this is how you get to know the other person. However, pretty quickly, things start to bother me and I regret the decision made in a heat wave of most certainly irrational attraction. Analyzing these moments, I think that they were all pretty irrational, impulsive and evaded total comprehensions of my brain’s left hemisphere. Usually, if a relationship did not feel like a couple of shots of Black Label mixed with a private internal train crash right away, I thought something was wrong. 

So, what was this all about? Obsession? 50 shades of Grey? What I thought back then was that love is not patient, slow-moving or kind. If something feels good or okay, let’s rush into it with full force. What about romance, patience or just taking it slow? On my quest for knowledge, I stumbled upon an article by biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., who calls romantic love “a craving” and “an addiction”. After studying many love-st(r)uck brains, the research shows that people in love “exhibit activity in the same brain regions that become active when one is addicted to cocaine and other drugs”. Speaking from my experience, there is usually a problem trying to integrate feelings, thought and weird hormones at the same time. It all seems to end up in a strong cocktail of heated-happy-sad confusion. “Dopamine is key, ” she says. “The neurotransmitter is the central component of the brain’s reward system – the brain system that gives the lover focus, energy, motivation, and craving for the beloved.” This all so familiar feeling of we cannot get enough of each other. Constantly waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for text messages … stuff like that. “I can’t think of any bigger reward than falling in love,” Fisher says. Duh! 

Is this specific awesome feeling of getting lost while looking into someone’s eyes “love” or do I need to differentiate between infatuation and love? In my opinion, love is many things at once since love is. It happens in phases over a period of time and either grows in meaning and depth or it simply does not. Fisher adds the strong drive “affects us on a more personal level”. So, the original seed of love may be intense, full of physical attraction and infatuation but I have to/should have look(ed) at the whole picture by using my brain and thought. Without using the brain, infatuation is inevitable. It happened to me that I hit it off with someone right away. This feeling that I know him forever. He is my soulmate.  This sensation usually occurred in milliseconds and I was completely absorbed in the other person. Of course, this did not mean it will automatically lead to a long-lasting relationship loaded with love. 

I believe, when something does not turn into a solid relationship it does not mean it was not love. It was some type of love, maybe not capital-L- Love. When passion and intimacy die, the feeling of closeness, connectedness, and bondness, the base starts to crumble and the relationship is over. If partners do not let this happen, love can get bigger, stronger and even may expand beyond the initial obsessive absorption. The decision and commitment to be together is usually mutual as well as a choice and both partners want to maintain that emotional connection and the treasure the chemistry of friendship. That is probably my favorite things about it all. That I can decide what love is for me and with whom I want to deepen the hormone monster of obsessive force. 

 

.Quality time spent with a Friend.

 

Letting go is healing but it is not always easy. A support network is important and I am glad to have people in my life who care, listen and help. Life is a constant flux and change. We can try to resist change but in the end, life happens. I would have loved to be in a different place many times but life has its way and many things that happen are and were out of my control. So what can be done? I can move forward to the best of my ability. I asked my friend if we are really moving forward when we are still holding on to the past. This question led to hours and hours of discussions. 

What happened, happened. We cannot turn back time. Knowing that everything changes is a positive thing in my eyes. It means that we are never permanently fixed and we have the option to either walk toward greater openness and light or to negativity and resentment. We truly have the ability to transform our body and mind to any higher or more developed state of existence. Whatever we choose it to be. I just have to observe myself and get to know who I am instead of continuously wondering why certain things happen to me over and over again. I thought many times that I am over X, Y, and Z or that I learned from previous “mistakes”, yet it seems that out of the blue I get hit/hurt again. This is a good indication that more inner work still needs to be done. 

So, I have been asking myself what life is trying to tell me. I know I am responsible for myself and that life can feel and be very effortful once I recognize that the way I was living for the last couple of years did not exactly serve me but I never asked myself what needed to change. Some sort of quasi-review of what happened and no conversation with my partner left me trustfully hoping for the best, sort of like “this too shall pass, things will sort themselves out eventually”. There was also a lot of negative controlling involved that wore me down and left me no room to reflect and connect with myself. 

My friend then asked me, “Do you know yourself?” Simple answer: A bit, I reckon. While we drank coffee and spoke I realized that everything still is very unsettling and the healing process is even daunting to think what lies ahead of me. Life throws new curveballs at me almost on a daily basis, new decisions need to be made and I realize that by entangling myself in certain ego version of who I am or was won’t help me to grow. Building a strong core and stable foundation is important. This entails knowing my heart (damn anatomy class), character strengths and skills, vulnerabilities and weaknesses, fears as well as the threshold of my comfort zone. This simply requires deeper self-reflection and most importantly self-honesty. I want to probe the mysteries of my heart more deeply to “dis-cover” why there were so many uncertainties in previous relationships and these battles to keep what no longer works afloat. 

My friend and I agreed that we just have this humbling ability to see life one brief moment at a time. Of course, there may be patterns but that is no guarantee that we are right. Sometimes there are too many options to choose from. Many people are scared to make the wrong decisions so instead, they stay put knowing that where they are right now is not the best place for them but it sure is familiar and familiar means comfortable to some extent. 

We have the ability to either destroy or build in our minds. We can German-Angst-worry and amplify it into a colossal set of potential problems that may never happen but paralyze me with fear. Mental strength is the key and makes me extraordinary. My friend spoke about some of his fears and it was a proof again that it’s inside, not outside, where we determine if someone is happy, lonely, sad, successful, ashamed, proud, overwhelmed, etc. Again, what happened to me, happened. There are no easy or quick fixes to this shit! I just want my brain to rest at night and stop thinking. In my anatomy class, I learned that our brain never ever sleeps. It works even while our bodies are at rest. Great! It makes connections and tries to further navigate us through this life. Awesomeness, but please, I need some rest. 

I know my mind is the only refuge from the rest of the world and I am not afraid to spend some quality time with myself to analyze certain things. And just because my heart wants something, doesn’t mean it is wise to pursue it. I learned that rational thinking and logic are put on silence when the heart is speaking. The language of our wants rarely focuses on what makes sense, but rather focuses on what needs to be quenched and usually, in hindsight, did not make sense at all. 

We spoke about certain fears that can be used to tell the brain to avoid risk; yet, nothing in life is ever safe, secure and can be controlled. What is it we try to stay safe from? Death, which cannot be avoided but maybe delayed? Failure? Nope, I have been there, many times and it is an essential part of growth I reckon. Suffering? Nope, this is an essential tool for survival. So playing it safe does not really cut it since we have little control. I know I have to stop the why-me-complex and stop ignoring my support network that means well.

Everything and everyone changes constantly. Nothing ever stays the same but letting go of the past in my own way enables me to be energized, clear and ultimately ready to enjoy the present and be ready to welcome the future. I am not afraid to get hurt because it is part of life. I learn from it when my mind is open. What I do not like in my life, I heal and what I already love, I love and enjoy more deeply. <3

An evening well spent, Mr. K.L. 

.The Time My Body Told me To Chill.

There was this time in my life when I worked out every single day. I was into marathons, swimming long distances and going crazy at the gym. That was the time when I quit smoking and ate super healthy. I had this feeling that I have to push myself further and proof to my teacher at the academy that I can run longer distances, do better, be stronger and most importantly push my body to the limit. And I did. I ran every single day and ended up finishing two full and four half marathons within a very short time of preparation. At some point, with all this training, my body sent me some strong signals that I conveniently ignored. My knee started to hurt. Initially, it was not a big deal. Nothing some frozen peas in a bag from the freezer could fix. I had to train after all asking myself why my body just cannot do what I say instead of being so insolent. My body is supposed to listen to me, right?! Wrong!

Well, I did not listen to my body at all and pushed it to the limit. Training was all I was looking forward to the entire day. As soon as the lectures were over at 4 pm, I changed into my running gear. Do not get me wrong, some days sucked and I did not even want to run but I always had this urge to get better and to proof something to someone. I even realized that my gym teacher was amazed but also told me to stop when it hurts. I did not. And this is how it started.

After weeks of knee pain, I could not seem to shake it off anymore. I saw the doctor and was diagnosed with iliotibial band syndrome. This meant she prescribed some anti-inflammatory, told me to avoid any activity and recommended some physical therapy. I realized that the half marathon was just around the corner and I trained so hard for it. Also, this would mean that all my other forms of fitness (yoga, cycling, the gym, swimming etc.) would be on hold. This cannot happen. I trained so hard. I was in physically top condition besides this stupid knee so who cares, I kept running slowly. For someone who exercises six days out of seven and made a habit out of this exercising routine, a knee cannot stop me, right?!

At some point, my knee hurt so badly that I did not see exercising at this level as an enjoyable health benefit anymore. I knew I had to stop. My doctor told me that if I do not stop I would need knee surgery for sure. My knee was so swollen that I could hardly walk and honestly when I finally stopped running, it felt like a relief and I finally realized and woke up. The pain was excruciating at this point. So I rested and reflected. Why did I let my knee get to this stage? Why did I push myself to a limit that nobody but my myself set?

So, I rested. It was weird but I relished setting my alarm an hour and a half later than I normally would every single morning. I loved my morning runs usually more than the afternoon ones. Getting this done in the morning made me feel accomplished, happy and satisfied for the whole day. I enjoyed having time in the afternoon for errands or to squeeze in a session at the gym instead of running. So now what the f*** is going on with me? I am continuously resting instead of pushing my body to this intangible limit every single day with no end in sight like a dumb hamster on a wheel because I feel guilty. Because I still feel I have to prove it to my teacher.

You know what I learned? There is no teacher who gives a f*** about me, about my health, about my life or anything like that. It was all in my head. I thought I have to prove to him that I am the best. That I can run faster and better than anybody else. I did not want this knee surgery to happen so I started to create a fitness routine of not having a fitness routine. I also knew that my life as a professional “rester and chiller-on-the-bed” was temporary. It would only last as long as until my knee was fully functional again and I will give it the time to rest and recover. I started working out slowly when after the pain started to dissipate after four months and 10 kg gained. However, there was this weird feeling about starting to run again and my overall relationship with exercise. I realized that I worked out and treated my body badly and pushed it to a limit; a limit that will get me nowhere in the long run. There still was this critical relationship with exercising that threw me in a weird stage. I tried to think of a time when I and my body felt really healthy and came up blank. I remember I always had this feeling that I have to satisfy or proof something to someone. My parents, my gym teacher in High School or in Police Academy. There was always this ingrained messaging that I believe now, wasn’t even there in all those years. All I really wanted to hear was that I am okay, just the way I am without pushing my already hurt body to another level.

Yet, there was my own frustration. Exercising for me has the potential to feel and be really wonderful, enriching, powerful and life-affirming in some way. I love this feeling to bend, run, twist, how I sweat during hot yoga, move around with my son in the park and be able to do all these things freely without pain. When someone told me they ran some particular marathon in under 3 hours I was jealous because I felt so far from achieving this perspective for myself. Then again, I also thought that it is possible to get back into it all and that it is all possible. That I simply have to listen to my body and give it time to heal properly since it took me this self-inflicted injury to come to grips with the fact that the fitness path I was hurtling down for so long was hurting me instead of helping me. So, now I am taking it easy but bringing my mental equation into it all in the first place feels like a good start. And watching South Park here and there with supper that includes sautéed shrimp.

.Gaslighting, and then Time Stood Still.

Of course, we ended up at our Sushi Restaurant since we are both addicted to eating it and it is the best place to indulge in “salmon and tuna happiness” in my hometown. We were both happy to see each other again since it has been a long time and so much happened after we last met. I looked forward to this evening, was excited to meet my friend Judith and the evening that lied ahead of us. Our enthusiasm and anticipation for hours of conversations got stronger while we walked through narrow back streets to the tiny restaurant. Since I haven’t been here in a while, I took it all in. Any unfamiliar spots that may become new landmarks or create new memories. Now, since I call this home again for this week, I am seeing my city in an entirely new light. 

We turned into another street and already slow traffic turned into a complete standstill and finally no cars at all. This peacefulness and silence. While we walk, I scan every inch of the street. I scan every façade, every name on the various shop signs, cheese stores, vintage clothing stores, restaurants and cocktail bars. Home. I observed other people walking by who interacted and went on about their lives. I listened to the noise of an ambulance that drove by but I was silent and content. We entered the restaurant and it was empty. Silence. 

While we ate and she spoke to me, I really focused on her talking to me and the background started to blur a bit when I really looked at her and her face. The reason why I was mesmerized by this seemingly ordinary moment was that I felt that it is so important to really listen to certain people with this level of attention. 

She mentioned and eventually told me more about gaslighting which is, according to Wikipedia “a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief”. 

I hung onto every single word she uttered, my jaw dropped and my eyes were wide. The world around me simply did not exist. What I was l listening to was a perfect example of a state of flow. The waitress came to bring us our food and I snapped out of it. Why am I writing all this down? Because my friend made time stand still for a brief moment; made me think and reflect. I felt like if I was the only person in the room since I was so fully absorbed and sort of morphed into my personal story itself. I simply captured a somewhat fleeting moment of unedited, pure and authentic human connection while listening to her. I felt like everything else around me fade away while I regurgitated my previous relationship but for some reason, it all felt okay since I was with her who truly listened. This tiny magical moment. She told me about focus and how we constantly feel rushed, scattered and busy to really look at the situation we are in. She mentioned her troubles at work and that without focus, there is actually little to no chance of creating anything of substance and we get nowhere. It reminded me that some people start projects here and then another one over there while in the end nothing gets accomplished. Sysiphus. However, they plan project three, four and five in their head while taking flying lessons and finishing two Master degrees online with an IQ of 164. Without focus, they also damage relationships. 

Tonight, I simply tried to focus on the present moment and time started to feel more expansive. I felt I had a clearer mind, was more fulfilled, inspired, calmer and felt less rushed. The key is to set clear boundaries how far one allows something to continue in their life. Suddenly, life became quieter which was a great feeling since I was all over the place in the last couple of weeks. I also refound magic in the mundane since I kept experiencing these pleasures in life; like tonight as well as several others moments in the last couple of weeks. I realize that those things happen when I am mindful. They happen when I actually pay real close attention to what someone says and does (like cooking shrimp) without being distracted or when I focus on the color of the sky, birds singing or the fresh morning air on my skin while jogging.  

Tonight, I really listened and gave her undivided attention and rediscovered her little quirks, the real beauty of her inside and her unique way of laughing about my comments to the waiter at the sushi restaurant. I treasure our friendship and started to love her from scratch again. Tonight I realized that whatever happened recently in her or my life, in the greater scheme of things, nothing matters more than the human moments right here and now because we cannot turn back time.

Many other things going on in my life simple need time, breathing room and space to sort them out but I know I will feel better in the long run without certain people. I have been reminded tonight that I have to make time count and create space for humans and wonders as well as for creation and gratitude. 

.Love Actually.

I experienced love (or so I thought) when I was 16 years old. I had my first boyfriend and realized that I never had a feeling like this before. A feeling of being totally happy and content with the other person. The word for this is apparently love, I thought, so I said it out loud. My boyfriend at that time paused however and let my words hang in the air for a few seconds before he responded, I think I love you, too. He explained to me later that he could not name something like love which is just a 4-letter word to him and he never really experienced or said it to anyone before. For me on the other hand, I thought I knew exactly what this word means since I had this strange new feeling in my chest everytime I thought of him. 

There are so many “firsts” in life. We learn and speak a new language, we start to ride a bike and we sort of know that the initial discomfort we experience is just temporary. Of course, we are expected to fall off that bike and scratch our knees as well as we are expected to destroy the pronunciation of the world “millefeuille”; however, we will figure it out eventually. Whatever seemed impossible at first becomes second nature at some point. This theory applies to a lot of things but it seems it does not so much with being or falling in love. 

What is love anyway? What do we actually mean when we say, I love you

Throughout the years I have learned and realized that love is perpetually uncomfortable rather than constantly thrilling. Yet, love is something that may keep me up all night. Love is a weird game of assuming and guessing and is great to misinterpret or to analyze to some insane point. What is a normal relationship? Do there need to be high highs and low lows at points or is it rather smooth sailing instead or this oscillating wave? 

So being in love in high school meant for me being engaged in silly fights, arguments, and betrayals but also with a lot of sobbing into the shoulder of his shirt after we were “good again”. It meant I wanted him to spend time with me all the time. It meant getting a “friendship ring”. It meant using him as a security blanket yet I knew when I joined police academy and moved away a breakup was imminent which also made my chest feel tight. So many changes and we were so young. It felt suffocating and intoxicating at the same time. It was messy, exciting, devastating, uncertain but all this is what love is supposed to be like, right? 

Is love a game? There are periods of time when I patiently waited for a message from my partners but nothing arrived. I thought this meant he is not that into me. If he does not write back after we had sex, it means he does not want to have a serious relationship. If he wants to move in with me too quickly, this means he really loves me because he wants to get to know me. I changed certain boyfriend’s names in my phone to “asshole”, “do not pick up”, “psycho” or a monster emoji. Sometimes, when people asked me if I am still in love with a partner I said, NO, absolutely not and deep inside I thought I just feel nauseated, pathetic, and precarious. So, maybe love is supposed to feel like that? Does this mean I am still in love? It cannot be love because I felt pain. Pain/love, I am not so sure about since I detest the housewife porn 50 Shades of Grey. 

I started dating again. He did not say I love you within the first week or months and I realized how happy this made me feel. Also, I did not have the feeling to say it either. I realized then and there that this label LOVE may just not be real love but just something you say because one is supposed to say it. “Screw love: respect and honesty are what we need”, a very close friend of mine told me tonight and I reckon he made a good point.

It is a great feeling to realize that fighting is not an issue with certain people. That things can be very easy and simple conversations and valuable time spent together is salient (fancy word for important). Cooking together, talking for hours, watching something or reading together is different without putting the love-label on it all but rather just enjoying each other’s company. Just totally and utterly unremarkable things that mean a lot to me. But this is where I am now realizing that love in its steadiest, truest and rewarding form is just simply dull. Since I do not focus and put pressure on love hence there is nothing to overanalyze and nothing to second-guess, to refuel or pursue, to proof which means it is easy and so contrary to popular stereotypes and cinematic tropes. That does not mean it is not exciting but it is something that does not pick me up and drops me but rather buoys me instead. It just is. And it is perfect this way. For me.