.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.

.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.