.Minimalism Update.

My son and I are moving soon. (I have been asked where we are moving to so I want to add that for many great reasons we stay in Canada!) Moving for me means decluttering, selling and getting rid of things. Having less stuff makes me feel good, makes me less distracted, focus on other things that really matter (to me) and embrace a minimalistic mindset. I want to shift my thoughts from materialistic distractions that take way too much of my attention and time to less stress, more free time and flexibility. Essentially, minimalism for me is doing more of what matters – the little things in life. 

Whenever I tell people I embrace a minimalistic lifestyle they ask me things like, “Oh, so you own like 100 items?” Far from it people- I love books!

When it comes to minimalism, there really is no right way to do it. Marie Kondo’s approach, for example, emphasizes that one should get rid of anything that does not spark joy. 

There are many other methods on how to declutter but there is no right way to do it and there is nobody really can say you are doing it wrong. I read an email from a reader the other day saying that he only owns one cup and one plate and that I am not qualified to call myself a minimalist if I own more than that. Duh! I do not need to call myself anything or be recognized as such because it does not define me. I use minimalism as a tool to remove distractions from my life – any distractions that get in the way of doing more of what matters to me. I love to lower my stress levels, spend more quality time with my son, my friend(s) and those things usually never involve too many materialistic things. 

I use the analogy that minimalism is like my camera lens. I am adjusting the lens and pull into focus what I want while I softly blur out everything behind and in the front. This helps me to realize and make decisions on what matters in my life and what does not. Minimalism is not a catch-all problem solver or the final answer, however. It is simply how I use time and space through a minimalistic approach to change my life for the better. These days, my son and I find joy in donating things for example. Toys he does not play with anymore, clothes that don’t fit. There is a lot of money to be made in selling what I don’t need which is a process that gives me clarity and satisfaction. Minimalism does not make my life perfect but it is a catalyst that gets me there one day at a time because I realize how little I actually need to be happy. 

I have mentioned previously that I have had a pretty rough time for the last couple of months but minimalism created a space for me to handle these difficult situations more effectively. Applying a minimalistic mindset, I overcame financial struggles, relationship issues and other hard decisions that I had to make. I am more ready to handle the move because it is so much easier with a lot less stuff. I have fewer expenses which is helpful because I still do not have a job. Most importantly though, I do not have debt since I won’t use my credit cards to purchase things. In the long run, knowing that I do not need much makes me more flexible in my search for a job. 

I believe that there are substantial advantages to buying and owing only what serves me or/and allows me to serve others. Minimalism is not about deprivation, however, having fun is perfectly acceptable. Just by removing distractions I make space for what I want to do. I slowly built habits that reflect the activities and goals that matter to me. In the long run, flow and creativity built upon those foundations of habits and I enjoy a life more based on curiosity than fear. Of course, living creatively looks different for everyone, but I reckon that habits and minimalism can get me there. Minimalism creates this space and habits that let me show up in the way I like to. My framework of minimalism, creativity, habits, and freeing the mind continues to work well for me.

Maybe it helps you to do more of what matters – whatever it may look like for you. 

.Questions About Suicide.

 

It took me several attempts to write this post and gather my words but the tragic death of my favorite chef and author Anthony Bourdain, who died of an apparent suicide attempt last Friday, made me sit down and type. News like this are still shocking to me even though I worked in suicide prevention for quite a while and just finished my research on suicide notes for my Master’s degree in linguistics and discourse studies.  Firstly, I want to emphasize if you are feeling alone, depressed, hopeless or suicidal, know that you are not. Crisis Services Canada launched the first National Suicide Prevention Service in Canada.  Dialing 1-833-456-4566 from anywhere in Canada will seamlessly connect you with a local crisis or distress center 24/7, 365 days of the year. This website may also be helpful: http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca

After I hear of a suicide, the first question that always comes to my mind is why did the person do it. Why didn’t they see a way out? What was so painful that they chose death over life? What drove Kate Spate, the famous fashion designer, or Anthony Bourdain, to commit suicide? Were there any signs or signals these two send out and nobody paid attention? When I worked as a police officer and dealt with a plethora of suicides, the first thing people used to say was, “He seemed so nice. So calm, so content, I don’t understand why he committed suicide”. I am usually not encouraged to question certain paths that people follow and take, so facing suicide still throws me into shock and into pausing, questioning, thinking and asking. 

Usually, whenever a path changes, I am befuddled but this leads eventually to another path which is better aligned with the new goals I hope to reach. I ask why, determine why, and then, of course, recalibrate my actions around the newly shaped goal or purpose. Some people cannot do this, they do not see a way out. They are stuck. There are no moments of real clarity and revision. 

A couple of years ago, I was crying to my then-husband in the kitchen because I felt a weird sensation of sadness creeping up my back a couple of hours after I got released from the hospital with my newborn son. Postpartum depression with a mix of baby blues at its best – a horrible feeling, but I eventually snapped out of it. What made me snap out of it? My mother. 

What is depression? A friend described her depression as silently drowning in a toilet bowl and someone keeps flushing whenever she tries to crawl up. There is a lot of stress and challenges in my life these days but what is it that keeps me moving forward and getting me back up after being punched? I reckon, my inner incredible strength and my support network. 

However, sometimes this darkness gives me chills, especially when I am very exhausted all day. Then it is hard to make decisions but these feelings pass and I see the dark shadow rolling by smiling at me. These days, I feel it is important and more critical than ever to talk about mental health. I have to admit that even after having studied suicide for a long time, it still seems very hard to fathom. Below I want to share some thoughts and writings I collected that helped me through difficult times and for my research with the suicide notes. 

People who die from suicide don’t want to die.

A person doesn’t try to end her life “because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors.” – David Foster Wallace

Depression is a disease, not a personality trait.

“Even though science has proven it a million times over, our culture doesn’t yet fully recognize that MENTAL ILLNESS IS A BRAIN DISEASE, just like hepatitis is a liver disease. Depression (and bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and everything else) affects our brain — the organ we use to make decisions. If you’re suffering from suicidal depression, it doesn’t matter how beloved you are or how much you love your family or how much money you have, because your brain is telling you that despite all those things, suicide is your only option. (Or that you need to isolate yourself, sleep all day or other behavior that a healthy brain would recognize as bad decisions.) This is one reason mental illness is so deadly: the part of our body that’s affected is the same part that’s responsible for our behavior. It’s like if you broke your leg and then had to use that leg to walk to the hospital… Depression is an ILLNESS. It’s not weakness. It’s not your fault. And it’s impossible to think or reason your way out of it without help, due to the part of your body that’s ill.”  Emily McDowell 

Depression isn’t just sadness.

“[Some] imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow and unendurable.” – Kay Redfield Jamison

“It is very hard to explain to people who have never known serious depression or anxiety the sheer continuous intensity of it. There is no off switch.” — Matt Haig

“It feels like I’m desperately homesick, but I’m home.” — Sarah Silverman

“Is there no way out of the mind?” — Sylvia Plath

There’s nothing selfish about suicide.

Some people say that “it’s selfish to leave children, spouses, and other family members behind… What they don’t know is that those very loved ones are the reason many people hang on for just one more day. They do think about the survivors, probably up until the very last moment in many cases. But the soul-crushing depression that envelops them leaves them feeling like there is no alternative. Like the only way to get out is to opt out. And that is a devastating thought to endure.” – Katie Hurley 

People don’t “commit” suicide, they die from suicide.

“This is a much less judgmental, more straightforward way to talk about someone who dies from mental illness. They are not ‘a suicide’ any more than someone who dies from cancer is ‘a cancer.’” – Kelly Williams Brown  

I am sending out love to anyone who needs it – I especially include myself these days. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Things will get better. Please reach out for help if you are in need. 

.Stepping Out.

I had a great conversation with my friend the other day about looking back on the recent past and how not to think of the pain I felt but rather to think of the strength I gained and to simply appreciate how far I have come since then. I have been through a lot and I give myself credit for my resilience and also step forward again with grace. 

Recall: Recently I had to make a couple of major decision that in the long run will move my life forward. When I told my friend that I was worried about taking certain chances and regretting my choices, he simply said, “Trust me, you won’t regret these steps and decisions. If anything, you most likely will kick yourself in the butt for not taking those chances and more on those real and surprisingly very accessible opportunities you have these days.” He then asked me who I would be and what else I could see if I could simply remove all the stuff that is worrying me. 

As I say my daily affirmations (I can share those with you would like), I realize that life is about trusting myself, taking certain chances, losing things and finding happiness, definitely learning from experience and accepting the journey while realizing that every single step was necessary (and worth it) to get me to where I am today. The key is that I am willing to take each step by giving myself a fair chance. Usually, I regret chances I did not take or decisions I waited way too long to make by wasting more time, procrastinating and hoping while many important words were left unspoken. Why do I make so many regretful decisions in my life? Why did I hope and thought things may be as they were way back when? 

It took me a while to figure this out but it makes all sense now. Those poor decisions I continuously made, along with the ensuing regrets I faced, were caused not by physical problems in my life, but instead because my mind was weak. Those weaknesses encouraged me to avoid discomfort, change and to maintain a routine or rhythm. I try to avoid any type of pain obviously (who doesn’t), and discomfort is one. Stepping outside my comfort zone used to make me uncomfortable, however, after some time of practice, it feels good now. 

The simple idea of taking charge of my own life again and being free is so great. Focusing on difficult tasks while saying a clear no to certain people was difficult at first but becomes easier every single day. In the last couple of years, I became lazy and used to run from discomfort constantly which was wrong. I should have faced and spoked about things that made me uncomfortable for the longest time.  I silently kept in my comfort zone and missed out on many great life experiences and opportunities. I was stuck in some type of cycle that was comfortable in one way but destructive in another. At some point I was tired of this constant headache, worrying, jealousy and self-doubt that it was me who did everything wrong and caused my marriage to end up like this. It was most certainly NOT only me! 

I knew it was time to break this cycle and to move on since those relationship patterns I lived by and with for so long didn’t really help me but they rather hurt. Life is awesome and so many new doors opened since I am open to change. I realized that it was finally time to learn from my mistakes and stop doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result (insanity?). Didn’t Jung or Freud say that one ultimately becomes what one repeatedly does? It was/is time for a change indeed. 

So, this is where I am now. Things changed significantly and I am on a good path to conquer this discomfort I was dealing with among other certain issues by embracing it. These days, I am leaning into it, showing my teeth while growling and putting myself back in control. This control and power I used to have! One thing I can always do is to choose a mindset that moves me forward. Something positive that changes things from the inside out while at the same time allows me to grow beyond all that BS that I thought I struggle with and cannot control. I choose to face discomfort with courage, help, strength and a change in mindset. 

“See, that wasn’t as bad as you thought…”

.What People Think of Me – A Somewhat Fashion Post.

Cool jeans dress, eh.  And organic ketchup for BBQ later.

Fashion versus Style. I have always been more interested in style versus fashion. I also know that I do not need to spend a lot of time in the morning to get dressed to start my day. When I worked for the German Police, putting on a uniform in the morning made everything so simple. I applied this notion to my everyday style as well; however, added a little style to it since style encompasses everything. It is a mood, it is my clothes, it is time and energy put into it. Afterall, clothes are made to wear and not to wear us. 

My style is very simple. I want comfort, at times cute, sexy to go out and sporty when I work out. For some reason, I combine all this with a bit of hipster even though I do not put a label on myself. When someone has style, you feel it and you know that it is not about the latest fashion or the most expensive designers. I never figured out how anyone is willing to pay these amounts of money for a piece of fabric no matter how nice it looks. Style for me is that I am wearing what I want to wear because I want to wear it. Simple! I add a personal touch and nothing is holding me back; such as other people’s opinions, comments or thoughts that anyone cares how I look or if I am accepted the way I dress. I do my thing and do not care. 

Nobody is perfect, and those who think they are while sashaying around in their designer costumes just try to hide things like fear of being rejected, fear of being unwelcome, fear of not fitting in, fear of not being beautiful or fear of being too big/fat/thin/obese/ugly etc. They forget that they should simply dress for themselves and nobody else because nobody really cares. Just dress like this: 

I would like to share other realizations I have come up with that act as my foundation and are a daily reminder to truly not give a f*** what other people think since again those you think who judge you actually do not even care about you. 

We only have a tiny amount of time on this planet so WHO cares about clothes? There is so much more. When I was a teenager in High School, I spent a bit more time getting ready in the morning. There was even a short time I bothered applying make-up. This soon stopped. I never really cared about those things. It was way more important to chat with my friends, read, write or secretly smoke in the school washrooms. People judged me for wearing a leather jacket I found at a vintage flea market but it looked so epic. Quickly I realized, however, that I do not allow this self-limiting judgment of myself or those of others to affect me and what I wear since this is all such a waste of time and energy.

These days, I also love to dress like this: (It comes in handy if you have a partner who owns a plethora of funky socks) 

So, I usually leave the house wearing something like above. 🙂 What matters is that I am happy with how I look. I learned that whenever I was too fixated on what people think of me, I limited myself. The style is about so much more than clothes; I mean, look at those socks. I have style and have a je ne sais quoi about myself that goes beyond what I am wearing. Isn’t it better to feel good, comfortable, charming and unique and that we do not want to be different? I stopped questioning and over-analyzing my outfits because I know if I lack anything in the outfit, I can make it up in presence, intellect, and conversation anytime. 

The only person who suffers is me whenever I care what other’s think of me; like if I would place my success parameter according to other people’s perceptions. I just do my own thing. The less I care, the more life is opening up. 

.The Outcome.

 

I started some new projects in my life and it’s in a shaky new territory. I feel doubt if I can do it while tensely trying to do everything I can to make sure it will all turn out the way I hope. The things that kept me up at night were fear, doubt, stress, and tension because I focused and was attached to the outcome and how things may turn out. 

After many meditations and time I spent with myself, I acknowledged, however, that the outcome is not always in my control. Sometimes certain people make things difficult or get in my way (even unintentionally) and destroy projects by suggesting stuff that makes no sense. Other times, things happen(ed) that I did not even thought about or expected while a marriage hung on an invisible thread already for a long time. 

Recently, I realized that there is always a plethora of outcomes that I did not even see and expect to happen, like making connections with people I haven’t spoken to in a long time, yet, here is my new apartment and lease.

I realized that I have to be open to change and new outcomes and stop focusing on ONE thing only since there are so many other possibilities, opportunities, and options I could be happier with. 

Whenever I put all my focus on ONE outcome and stressed out about it, it felt not even worth to start something in the first place because I thought I won’t have a chance of getting it anyway. And then of course if X, Y, and Z did not happen, I was hugely disappointed in myself because I did not live up to my expectations; I had the feeling I am not enough and that I won’t succeed. 

But, what if the outcome indeed matters? I need a new visa in the far distance to stay in Canada so here we go again. I do need to focus on the outcome since it is not just me anymore; this little sweet boy is strangely following me around for the last 4 1/2 years and wants to be saved from monsters, and protected. I know I should apply whatever actions are going to most likely get me that desired outcome by planning the steps and then accordingly to “walk” by not being too attached to the outcome. 

I always have possible backup-scenarios and plans in my head. This helps me to be more present with what I am doing right now, trying to find solutions, the being, the act of doing things, applying, filing etc. rather than focusing on what may happen in the future. It helps me to have a better relationship with the people who matter in my life because I focus on them instead of the goal. This also helps me to have a better relationship with myself because I focus on being content and my own well-being and health. What I need to add (spoiler): Happiness does not come from external or material things!

So, what do I focus on? The intention. It is what I hope to bring to the desired goal rather than what I hope I may get out of it. I focus on how I want to show up right now instead of how I see or predict things in the future; for example, I write this post with the intention to help others (and myself). Also, I want to be fully present when I am talking to someone and be open with them. Worrying and German Angst are the things I deal with on a daily basis but I am getting a lot better at it since I put effort into it. Instead of worrying about certain things and outcomes, I pay attention to how focused I really am on a problem or situation, how much effort and energy I put into it and how mindful I am while I am doing it. How much love and heart do I put into it and how much love am I giving? The outcome is really a result of the process.  Whenever I do not get the desired outcome I want I rather focus on improving the process by paying attention to how I am doing things. 

Instead of having a fixed mindset on something, I focus on what is particularly beautiful about this moment. What else can I notice or be curious about? What do I appreciate about myself, about my partner or everything around, right here, right now? Whenever I focused on the outcome, I tended to disregard feelings of people who are very close to me which was wrong. I now rather focus on my connection with them and why they are so salient (remember that fancy word for important?) in my life by being compassionate and loving. 😉 

I am reminded on a daily basis that playing and being curious about things are two important lessons.  Being more loving to myself and others while doing every act out of devotion, love and living in the present moment will transform every habit, every act, project and moment; hence f*** the outcome. Everyting will be okay. 

.Brainmassage.

You know what one of my special talents is besides being obsessed to have a clean house or untangling ropes and wires? Making volcanos out of molehills or sand. Also, I have this talent to blow a bad situation out of proportion completely, usually whenever I am on the phone with my mom. During our last (somewhat sobbing) phone call, my mom opened my eyes when I told her that my life is a mess and terrible. “Think about all the positive things happening in your life”, she said and added that I should stop focusing on everything negative and don’t let this stuff overshadow the rest of my awesome life since I already know what to do if I dig down really deep and listen to myself. 

After this particular phone call, things made sense. My mom calmly explained life to me while I am all over the place, trying to focus while being a Debbie Downer and letting the negativity spoil the positive things in my life within one second. Whenever something bad happens I have the tendency to let this unhappiness seep into all other aspects of my life which is definitely not a good thing. So, if things work well in my life, I tend to not allow it to boost my overall morale and well-being but rather seek more. Usually, it is all or nothing meaning that either everything goes well or everything is a disaster. I know this is not a healthy way of thinking and that it is taking a huge toll on my emotional life and for some reason, it takes a tremendous amount of work to snap out of it. But now, I have to. 

A series of events happened in my life that includes trying to find a job, a move, solo-parenting, studying and a plethora of exams. I was losing sleep, losing weight, having this brain fog that did not clear up and breaking down crying at points while trying to figure out where my life is heading. Occasionally, I had this feeling that I did not know where my life was going at all and “German” worrying and negativity was, of course, feeding itself until this massive grey cloud of sadness appeared that I could no longer ignore. 

Throughout my studies, I met so many people who gave me strength, power, and inspiration to break this insane cycle I was stuck in for the last couple of years. I have been reminded again to focus on positive thinking, daily affirmations and to allow myself to recognize and enjoy special happy moments, with no strings too tightly attached. This is all new territory for me and I enjoy to discover it more. All this advice was only helpful once I discovered my emotional agility to get there by myself since I was in the middle of this negativity meltdown, and any moment of recognition and self-worth felt somewhat forced and did not lift me out of the misery I was in. So what to do when I try to lean into optimism but I get a shitload of pessimism and I cannot climb out of the toilet because someone keeps flushing?

I simply acknowledged the facts. I acknowledged that I am in a negative place right now which is helpful to me since I live in the moment. It somehow allows me to recognize all the negative stuff going on in my life in a larger sense while focusing on them and trying to find solutions instead of just wishing things away. Also, sometimes it is helpful to engage in tangible activities or distractions rather than happy thoughts. For example, thinking of a separation agreement I put on my sneakers and go for a run. Or, if I desperately want to write but nothing of value comes to my mind at this point, I just bake some blueberry muffins to distract myself and to make me feel better; even though it may only be a temporary diversion; but yum!  Kinda like, gaining new perspective through blueberry muffins which might be actually helpful. 

I also stopped beating myself up when I am in a shitty mood because it makes my situation simply worse. I just acknowledge when I feel bad and tell myself that it is completely fine and then try to figure out ways to make the situation better. Acknowledging my feelings and recognizing why I feel shitty is important as well as figuring out how to move on. It becomes easier to deal with all this on a daily basis. Being able to reach out to family and friends is salient as well since they offer help and support and ways to shift my focus out of this negativity bs. And you know what? Since I realized all this, I am celebrating the good things in my life (and there are so many) and I let the bad ones just roll off my shoulders by simply taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture. Whenever I am not able to do this, I focus on other things that make me happy such as spending time cooking shrimp and having a beer at the river with my friend contemplating life. I also always have Yoga, meditation, a good book, a good movie and myself.

Has all this positive thinking turned me into some sort of super-zen human? Nope. I simply leave the past behind and look joyfully toward the future. These days, I am actually not really in the past or in the future. I am right here, right now. I am in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time and have the best people possible surrounding me to help when necessary.

My story is unique, my journey is exciting and my life is amazing. Also, everything is exactly as it should be and good things are coming my way since I know what is best for me and I approve of myself. My ability to overcome challenges is really limitless and I am not afraid of my fears since they do not control me. Those fears are just thoughts and not reality. I can and I will since the possibilities in my life are endless. 

The German Angst is still creeping up here and there but with practice, it is more manageable for sure and in the near future I will be able to build an even better mountain out of this molehill by adding tiny bits of sand to the pile.  And there is always a special shelter. 

.The Treachery of Images.

“The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe’, I’d have been lying!” — René Magritte

It has been a while since I worked on my blog, yet I missed this white box immensely. It feels good to write again for pleasure after several weeks of intense work for school. The last weeks have been pretty challenging and turned out to be a somewhat challenging time to endure. 
Since my last post, I have taken two more classes toward my holistic nutritionist degree, studied like crazy, passed all my exams and dealt with rather heavy personal issues as well. How have I been surviving? In a nutshell: incredible support from friends and family and giving myself the time to rest, to cry, to be happy and endless talks with my friend, which all included taking a blogging break. 
Slowly crawling out of this insanity I have learned that although my own little universe seemed to stop for some time, the world kept and keeps on spinning. Every single day brings its own beauty and more challenges that I and everybody else has to face. One door closes and another unexpected one opens. What helped me moving forward was spending time with people who remind me of who I am. There are many who actually care about me and want to see me succeed. It is amazing how the environment and the people in it can have such a big influence on how we perceive and feel ourselves. Whenever I spend time with certain people who know the real me, it reminds me of who I am, why I am here and why I should keep going. 
 
Cooking, helping others, creating things and writing are things that make me happy. It takes my mind off my stress and allows me to put my energy into something beautiful. Being able to tap into my inner creator and follow what I am passionate about is great and makes me happy on a daily basis. At the same time, it is important for me to be able to surrender to pain since it has taught me a lot about healing and how it all takes place.
As mentioned, the last two weeks were very stressful so in order for me to move on from a space of exhaustion and emotional stress I had to surrender to the pain. I had to stop trying to control everything and simply to allow it all to pass. Throughout all this, I recognized my potential and capacity to heal. Additionally, I had to respect that potential by allowing myself to feel it all which was okay. 
It helps me immensely to think about how far I have already come despite hitting all the low points and to realize my inner strength and find even more strength to carry on. People tell me how I have changed which pushes me again in the right direction since I am prone to forget who I am while still lingering around in the past imagining what could have been and daydreaming; what a ridiculous illusion. 
Things did not change overnight but I realized that self-discipline and persistence, as well as daily actions, are most important for me to move on, to make my own decisions and not be influenced anymore via dumb ‘having-power-over-you” games. I had a great conversation with my friend at school today and she told me not say, “I want”, but rather to use “I have” and to be the things that I want to be. It felt silly at first but it does work. She mentioned that if I really really want something deep inside, the universe will make it happen. It sort of works in a visualization but also gratitude kind of way. It makes me visualize where I really want to be but also makes me grateful for where I am already in my life. A good example would be, instead of focusing too much on how sad I am sometimes that my parents live so far away, I rather focus on how grateful I am to have them in my life and how lucky I am to have someone who makes it so hard to be apart. 
 
 
I focus on those I love and those that love me and kind of disregard the rest. Having people to love is a gift and I don’t take them for granted. I learned that some people are toxic in my life and I am better off without them. I have to put myself and my son first which is not selfish. One day at a time. 

 

.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.