.My Stages of Insomnia.

via The New York Times

I usually sleep pretty well but there are just some of those weird nights. Cannot sleep? Find out what I do when counting sheep just does not cut it.

1. Waiting

2. Pondering

3. Recollection of recent mistakes

4. Neighborhood Watch. Across, there is a teenage music student who is very sweet, a couple who seem to fight about every single thing on this planet, and an elderly couple who watch Sissi movies and have breakfasts half-naked every Saturday and Sunday.

5. Annoyance

6. Realisation that this could last awhile

7. Brainstorming

8. Taking notes

9. Disgust

10. Wait, Is It Lying or Laying?

11. Itching

12. Anticipation of tomorrow’s mistakes and extreme tiredness

13. Pillow and blanket adjustment

14. Inventory of personal faults and mistakes

15. Tossing

16. Turning

17. Anger

18. Evaluation of prior caffeine intake

19. Meme remembrance

20. Controlled deep breathing

21. Turning to find the ultimate sleeping position

22. Another cup of tea

23. Corona-Anxiety (the new normal)

24. Debate with nemesis (Win)

25. Hydration

26. Bargaining

27. Wondering what acquaintances I never, ever think of during the day are up to

28. Masturbation

29. Denial

30. Reading

31. Debate with nemesis (Loss)

32. Toilet

33. Awareness of skull inside face

34. Conception of next major creative work

35. Imagined stardom

36. Writing this article

37. Acceptance while considering chocolate

38. Turn CALM App back on

39. Wait, is this a dream?

40. More anxiety

41. Clock avoidance

42. Considering to buy a white noise machine

43. Acceptance. Again.

44. Sex with nemesis (Tie)

45. Searching for sleep aid (Unsuccessful)

46. Maybe a disease?

47. WebMD Search and Dr. Google

48. Self-Pity

49. Should I just get up?

50. Mild Hallucinations

51. Listening to noises outside

52. Alarm

53. Thinking about last night’s discussion, get up, smile nevertheless and go to work.

.A Chat.

So, should I start by talking about all the at-home Yoga workouts I have been pretending to do, or all the banana bread I have been baking for Instagram? Or, what if I told you that everything we knew about slowly going insane on a desert island was wrong? Or, that all you need is a virus that is so dangerous that you need a test to figure out if you have it?

Or, better let me start this way. My computer is pretty old and refurbished and there will be a need for a new one pretty soon. I got a slight reminder that a trip to a computer store is imminent when my beloved MacBook Air crashed after an update. But, I also love to save money, and whenever I can keep this baby with me, I will do so. I didn’t want to bother my brother who is pretty successful and busy with his IT company MR Studios in Prague to help me fix this mess. This is when I decided to have an online chat with a MacBook Specialist at WordPress.

Hi, my name is Daniela. I am having trouble with my computer.

Hi, my name is Anton. How can I help you? What’s the trouble? [for some reason I hear him breezing heavily and I feel a virtual eyeroll. My brother usually does that as well whenever I ask him computer-or math questions]

My screen freezes whenever I open WordPress and want to access my blog.

Okay, let’s try this. Do you see the “System Preferences”?

No, where is that? Ohhhhh….. wait, I see it.

Yeah, it is in the “toolbar”. Found it?

Yes. [I wish I could be at a bar right now]

Click on the Apple icon and scroll down to System Preferences.

Done.

Do you see something that looks like a pie?

Yeah, actually next to me in the kitchen. I made pumpkin pie yesterday. It is awesome. Fall is a great season because everything pumpkiiiiiin, right?

………………. Here is what I want you to do. Do you see an icon that looks like a grey gear? I want you to update your system.

Okay, I did that. It says, “System is up to date”. What should I do next?

Are you able to lick the screen on your computer?

Are you serious? Just like…. lick?

Yes.

Okay. Done. It tastes citrusy.

Now press very hard on Delete and Shift at the same time. Then stamp your feet three times. Did WordPress and your blog open?

Something opened, yes.

Good, here is what you need to do. Walk in. It is narrow. You will have to crawl. Let me know when you are inside the wall.

I am in.

Where are you now? There should be a lever. DO NOT pull the lever.

I already pulled it.

Is there a tiny person with a green jacket on? Don’t ask him to take you to the cyclops or play Song of Storms from the game “Zelda”.

But I love this song. I asked him and he is considering it. I don’t know what that means.

…….. Do you want your computer to work or not? Okay, don’t mind. Just go back to your Apple menu. Are you with me?

Yes.

Are all your updates up to date or is the gnome saying something?

He is asking for a cold coin.

Okay, do you have Apple Pay?

Nope. And this little guy is getting really angry. He wants me to solve a riddle to continue. “What has four suns but only one moon?” What the f**** is going on with my computer? He is now cursing and waving some torch at me.

Let’s try this……. You can answer the gnome by jumping on the Y key with all of your might. Then the cyclops cannot be too far behind you so you can destroy him. There should be a lot of metal and wires and things. Do not be afraid.

I now gave him my watch, which has calmed him down momentarily.

Do you see the damn menu bar?

Uh….. yeah. [Wondering if Anton is getting angry]

CLICK ON THE APPLE ICON! THEN CLICK SYSTEM PREFERENCES AGAIN. CLICK ON SOFTWARE UPDATE. DO NOT DO ANYTHING ELSE.

Okay, okay. Now, the princess is safe and she gave up her throne because she did not believe in social stratification. 🙂 I want to evaporate into pure energy. Now, that my computer works again my corporal body will be gone forever, but my soul will live on.

🙂 You are funny!

Hahaha, thanks. Everything works again. Now that I can watch and open whatever I want, whenever I want, my life has no structure anymore.

Is your screen still frozen?

I AM THE SCREEN.

🙂 I hope this has been helpful. Would you mind taking a short survey to let us know how I was doing?

.CTLR-ALT-DEL… Reset.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott Ye

A couple of days ago, I had a computer problem and could not sign out for some reason. A colleague told me to just, “hit CTLR+ALT+DET and reset because this always works”. Then, a good friend made a fascinating remark which then triggered me to write this article. She and her husband were in the process of selling their house in order to pay off some debt. When I asked her how they came to that decision, she said to me, “We have decided to hit reset on our life. For too long we have overextended ourselves financially, and it is time to take whatever steps are necessary to start fresh. We just put our house on the market and began living within a tighter budget. I don’t know what we were thinking living like that for so long, but it is time to hit reset on our lives.”

I kind of like this phrase: “We have decided to hit reset on our lives.” I hit reset on my life many times.

In speaking with my friend, I was reminded of my own life. In many ways, I hit reset when I discovered a more minimalistic lifestyle. I went back to the beginning, challenging my consumption, and the many unhealthy habits that had become present in my life. Of course, not every life is in need of a full reset. And I am smart enough to know that resetting a life is not the same as restarting a computer. I know I cannot just delete past memories, experiences, injuries, or every unenjoyable responsibility in my life. Resetting the direction requires more than a few minutes of downtime.

Autumn started and we are nearing (or longing?) the end of 2020; the time of year when I naturally assess the trajectory of my life and what direction I am heading. There is truth in the reality that I am in control of my life and I am responsible for the experiences of living. If I do not like the direction I am heading, I alone can choose a new path. Whenever I have become overburdened in my schedule, I alone can hit reset on my life. Even if some of my relationships have turned unhealthy, there is a lot I can do to foster an environment for change. Even this all might be a bit more difficult with this f***ing pandemic. Believe me, I am so tired of it all. Some changes require not just re-establishing a mindset, but also implementing the hard work of making it a reality. Like a divorce. Sometimes these changes require conversations with a partner, an “enemy”, a loved one who may or may not be thinking about the same things. But again, anything is possible.

Things I do these days are: I look hard at my spending. With this Covidiot-uncertainty, rethinking my finances is part of a necessary reset for me. I am rather careful to invest in anything big such as a car, a house, and such. But I will always invest in my health and studies. We just never know and cannot plan anything these days. I also consider my time commitments. My life is pretty stressful and hurried at points. I rush from school-drop-off to work, work 8-hours just to rush back quickly to pick up my son. Then the afternoon-shift and the entertainment programs start. No need to rush from one activity to another, but this is our daily routine. Sometimes, to chill and relax, we go straight home just to read on the couch.

There is great progress to be made in life when I look deeper than my actions and begin checking the motivation behind them. Usually, when I don’t keep my motivations in check, unhealthy ones begin to emerge such as building my own selfish kingdom. The key for me is to check the internal motivations that may have moved me to my current situation.

I hit reset and evaluate my relationships. People are not things and choosing which relationships to keep and which to remove is not as simple as decluttering clothes in my closet. There are some relationships where both parties benefit and there are some relationships where I benefit. Balance is important I guess. But there also should be some relationships in our lives where we are serving and giving and being the one who loves more. Again, balance is important in this area and I evaluate the current relationship in my life.

I figured resetting my life is going to require more than a one-time decision or evaluation. Many times, it is going to require me to rewire my habits from the ground up. My life and many other lives may be a big mess these days but I always keep in mind that I can hit reset if I need to. So can you.

.Fictional Romantic Comedy in Two Scenes.

Scene 1 (signing up at Tinder):

She entered her twenties and wanted to live a different life with the freedom to travel, no children, sunbathing on the beaches of Tulum, kissing a partner outside of the Moulin Rouge in Paris, and have a career. She wanted to be on her own, jumping from a casual fling to fling. But in truth, she longed for a serious relationship. Someone with whom she could share all this awesomeness but also sad-and weirdness which was happening in her life. Then she got married. And divorced.

A while after her divorce, a friend said, “Just sign up at Tinder”. She did. Two days later, she pressed the lock screen and slammed her phone down on the coffee table. She was two seconds away from wanting to delete the dating app from her phone. The humdrum of swiping right, but more, in her case, left had her feel drained and bored. Why did she do this to herself? This is so useless. Why did she put so much of her want and need to be with someone into an app? It felt as useless as those fortune tellers who lay Tarot cards. It seemed worth it to try, to find out what her life might look like tomorrow or a year from now, but honestly, c’mon. She wanted to know if there was a chance for her. She lived alone, which caused her to spend more time in the evening wallowing in how empty the air felt in her apartment. Sometimes, small moments of laughing out loud at a scene in a show, felt as if her sanity was borderline maniacal.

Fruit spoiled faster, food bought and prepped came and went and were stored to only be trashed because one mouth could not finish it fast enough. After her last heartbreak, she saw herself staying perpetually single but at some point, she wanted to find a partner again. Her anxiety of waking up every morning as the slow days of March loomed peak pandemic made her thankful that she was here, alive, and breathing. She had to be strong for herself, but who was being strong for her? Writing daily gave her days their shape, but they soon became monotonous. She wondered if this was it while she hit the water cooker on, made breakfast, and set up to press a smile on her face in the bathroom mirror.

When she went through this divorce, at some point, the exhaustion got the best of her. When the tears crept in the corner of her eyes as she curled up on her side of the bed at night, the rest of the sheets begging to be touched by anyone but her…. feeling as cold and as distant as she did. She thought about how she felt, not connected to anyone but herself. For some time, she had been okay with being single forever. She stared back at her phone. She pulled it toward herself and bent it slightly so it had her face in view, reflecting back at herself. “I love you,” she said and deleted the dating app.

Scene2 (The new Dating Timeline):

The goal: To meet people.

She went out. Lined her lips with Chanel lipstick. Put on a bit of make-up to go out. She does not like make-up on herself. If overdone, to her, it is a façade and another layer of (face)shield on an already cracked ex-and interior. She is not the person who goes to a bar and finds herself crowded around the male bartender, who flirted his way into her wallet and took a shot with her in order to make her not feel so desperate for attention. But her glass of red wine gently caressed her tongue as it made its way down her throat, adding another layer of calmness, and yet her nerves did not quite dissipate. However, she was in control of the ambiance.

So, she met someone, and this felt weird but also good. Her internal calm-down mechanism took over and she closed her eyes – but not all the way. The mechanism: She feels home. She is safe. If she wants this, then she has to let it happen.

They enjoyed dinners and drinks, they talked by phone and spent the summer together. It was special because the restaurants were closed so there were no distractions when they sat across each other at home. There was no waiter to interrupt the initial awkwardness. They had to stare at each other. The forced eye contact left her heart pounding. She can so easily get lost in someone’s stare. It feels good. This has been months ago but they still see each other.

Possible Scene to add (add the restaurant):

“Hello,” she said, smiling when he waited for her at the restaurant. He smiled and his face leaned to the side. He always smiled when he sees her. He gently adjusted his hair, opened the door to the restaurant for her, and said, “Hey, sunshine. I am glad you are here. “

They kissed.

End Scene: (possibly include applause)

.On Friends & Friendships.

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” —C.S. Lewis

Throughout my adult life, I have spent many minutes that have amounted to many hours and maybe even days thinking about friendship – what it means, whether I am good at it, how much of it I have compared to other people, and what I need to do (or not to do) to obtain a certain amount. I have to add that I never really had a huge crew of real friends. Maybe a bit over a hand full. I have many friends from all different areas of phases of my life, each tucked into their own neat little orbit and only colliding on rare occasions. Also, combining friend groups is hard. Making new, genuine friends as an adult is even harder – for me. It takes me a while to really trust someone. I don’t have this anxiety, this need, to go out there and meet new people and make friends. Lately, I started thinking about the future of friendships. A good friend of mine just came back from a mission and I actually had tears in my eyes when I saw her. We don’t spend a lot of time together but when we do, it is awesome. Just the knowledge that she is here is enough for me.

With this pandemic, possible lockdowns, and this slightly buzzing anxiety what will happen next, friendships feel more important to me than ever, but in a completely different way. There is still a sense of pressure, but one that is more internal-facing. One that asks me not what I am doing to make more friends, but instead what I am doing to serve the friends I already have. How can I give more and ask for less? Am I reaching out only when I need something, or when I think they might need something? Maybe “pressure” isn’t the right word, because that tends to have a negative connotation, and there is nothing negative-feeling about this desire. It feels more like a kind of yearning, born from the tender space between missing and wanting to be missed in return. While making new friends will always be a worthy pursuit, re-investing some of that time and energy into the ones I already have and love is often even worthier. I am getting better and constantly learn how to get it right, this friendship thing. Especially after big disappointments when you think you are friends with someone and they rat you out behind your back. I again have distinguished between certain kinds of friends and friendships I have formed. I learned that I have to be careful who I talk to and about what; and who my real friends are.

Since I moved to Vienna, I have made friends in aisles at the local supermarket and in bookstores. Sometimes it is just a few minutes of lively small talk, other times it has a Humphrey Bogart-level of promise. It is comforting, in any degree, to feel seen by another person. Once, on a solo trip to the Albertina Museum in Vienna, I said, “So we meet again!” to a woman who wandered near me into all of the same rooms, and we later ordered snacks at the café. A couple of months ago, on a train ride from Coburg to Vienna, I hit it off with a dentist from Bosnia who told me his life story for four hours straight. And for my gold medal of serendipitous friendships, I met my first friend here in Vienna at the Schönbrunn Labyrinth. We sat on a bench next to each other, both glued to our phones while enjoying the sun in fall. We started talking when my son asked me for the millionth time if he can go to the water park part of the playground. “I won’t get wet, I promise,” he added. My now-friend next to me just told me, “They will always get wet!” I responded, “Does it get easier when they get older?” “Nope, just differently interesting. Many days, I am f***ing exhausted!” The friendship was established then and there and we spoke for three hours straight, walked home together, and exchanged numbers.

One secret to deeper friendship? Doing something random and talk. Whenever I meet with my friends, it is just the simplest things, such as sitting somewhere, having coffee, and we can talk for hours like we have never been apart. I also believe in quality over quantity. With these close friends, there is never weirdness, everything is clear, we are there for each other no matter what. I realize and accept that we are all busy at points so there is no resentment or guilt and I am happy to spend time together whenever we can and there is always love when we connect. This is the secret to friendships for me.

 

.Aim For “Yes”.

My son started prefacing his requests with this phrase: “I know you are probably going to say no….”. One day I was standing in the kitchen, denying his request for more chocolate for the 9 millionth time, when it hit me: I say no to my kid a lot. I don’t think there is anything wrong with “no”. In fact, I kinda love it because it sets boundaries, it hopefully empowers him to use the word himself, and it is a one-syllable answer to his most annoying question. But it started to feel like my son viewed me as the ultimate naysayer, the one thing standing in between him and fun.

The other day I heard someone say, “Just mostly aim for ‘Yes’ if they [the kids] want anything”. Those words have run through my mind every few days since then. That is approximately 850 times. The idea is that there are certain rules kids need to follow such as “try hard at school”, “be respectful to others”, “go to bed at bedtime”, “eat vegetables and fruit”, and so on, but outside of that, if they want to try something out, just say yes.

Here are some “just-say-yes-moments” that recently happened to me:

  • He wants to jump from the sofa to my reading chair and then to my writing desk
  • He wants to mix milk and water and take a bath in it like Cleopatra but with goggles on
  • He wants to wear pajamas to the grocery store
  • He wants to sleep upside down (feet on a pillow)
  • He wants to build a huge cave in his room with all the bed-sheets available
  • He wants light-up shoes so he can run even faster
  • He wants to see if almond milk tastes better when licked off the floor because cats do that.

My knee-jerk reaction is to say no – I mean just take a normal, quick shower, just drink your almond milk – but then I think: why not? If it is not hurting anyone, and he finds it exciting or enticing for some reason, who cares? He might not love the flavor of his drink, but he will feel free and curious. And that is worth it. It is also fun for me to see all the random stuff he comes up with.

On the opposite, what I say yes to all the time is when it comes to reading or writing. Whenever he asks me to read a book to him, even though I am dead tired, I will do it. I currently read one of my favorite books of all time to my son. Momo, by Michael Ende. If you haven’t read it, read it. It is an amazing story for children (6+). Actually, everybody should read this book. Or watch the movie.

I also came up with a little experiment. Three days of saying “Yes” to everything my son asked for. Of course, I established some ground rules that only I knew existed because I live way too far away from Disneyland, and there was no way in hell I will Corona-fly from Vienna to the U.S.of A. Also, I try to avoid Indoor Playgrounds like the plague.

The Rules:

  • I can say no, if I want, to repeat requests after the third ask. This is to save me and my wallet from going out to dinner three nights in a row, and to prevent him from watching Netflix four three hours a day)
  • No crazy trips to faraway places.
  • No toy purchases over Euro 20 for the week
  • Nothing that will hurt us or other people
  • I reserve the right to override any questionable requests but will do my best to say yes to everything

Day 1- Friday

I started the “Three Days of Yes” raring to go, but quickly realized that my default habit of saying no was deeply ingrained in my brain. He must have sensed something because the second we walked into our home he asked if he could watch Netflix. “Yes,” I said, and I told him I will prepare the pizza for dinner. He loves to make pizza so Netflix was not on his mind anymore and he wanted to help me in the kitchen.

Day 2- Saturday

For breakfast, he asked for a smoothie and my iPad. I made him a frozen banana blueberry smoothie (his favorite) and I let him binge watch Jurassic Park The Series on Netflix. I once again found myself enjoying how nice it is to read in bed and enjoy a nice cup of coffee ( I bought a pretty good coffee machine to enjoy coffee as Viennese people do) while he is in a zombie trance. Win-win for both of us.

Day 3 – Sunday

We have settled into tons of reading, writing, trips, Heurige (awesome wine places here in Austria), and ice cream. Then he asked to go to the beach. Well, we live in Vienna, Austria. No beaches but lakes, so we went to Neusiedler See, which is beach-like. It turned out to be one of the most stress-free three days ever.

The Lesson

It turns out, his wants are not that extreme or extravagant or absurd. He does not need a limousine or asks for tons of candy, and other stuff. He also did not want to order pizza three days in a row but make his own once a week. His asks revealed a desire to help, play, be seen, be independent, and responsible. But I learned that by saying “yes” more often, it allows him to grow, helps me to lighten up and relax as a parent, and also offers up new opportunities for us to connect, play, and bond.

Sure, it is our job as parents to set boundaries, say no, and be the “bad guy.” But saying yes to my kid, and experiencing his exuberance that came along with it, felt really good. So pass the ice cream and crank up The Lego MovieI am saying yes to saying yes in general. Just don’t ask me to go to an Indoor Playground on a Sunday.

.Cloud Formation.

“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” – Agnes de Mille

I have weird dreams these days. I recently dreamed about a plane nose-diving from the sky. As it grew closer and the space between us narrowed, instead of feeling fear, I felt this sense of awe and relief. I couldn’t do anything. Things just happened.

The last couple of months have forced me to let go of some plans, projects, and ideas. I have collectively faced unexpected endings in various corners of my life. In some aspects, my life has become narrowed.

The narrowing can be disorienting and disruptive. It feels claustrophobic, even in my own privileged circumstances to have a job and work full-time. Who knows what will happen next? Another lockdown? Schools closed again? All this uncertainty. All this change.

Changes and endings no doubt bring grief, but I am also curious about the sense of relief that some endings can bring. Perhaps, it is the relief of not having to make certain decisions anymore. There is no fear of better options because there are so few options. When an action or ending is outside my control, the fear of getting it wrong is diminished. It is no longer up to me because the decision has been made by someone higher up. Whether an ending brings relief or grief also might have something to do with being comfortable with not-doing that accompanies it. When it is up to me to let go, my natural tendency is to work really, really hard to fill the space it leaves behind. This process further entangles me in what I am trying to let go of. It is like a pit I have been digging, only to tirelessly scoop the earth back in. When I spend my time simply filling an empty pit, I take a lot longer to reach new and steady grounds.

I can make important changes in my life but often neglect to check in with myself to see if they still serve me. I become attached to my identities as not being a morning person, or a certain profession, without asking if these circumstances still require the routine, the abstinence, the doing. An ending can be frightening because it confronts my identity. But an ending or a narrowing of my life also brings relief because it brings me closer to this idea of doing one thing well. For as long as I can remember, I have prided myself on being someone who juggles various projects easily. I have enjoyed the rush of several to-do lists, the calendar that is always filled, and even the sense that I am chasing my own tail brings a certain satisfaction.

What this pandemic taught me is that sometimes my doing, my complicated schedules, and my “shoulds” are of my own making. And it is up to me to let go, to embrace and end without doing anything. Ever since that dream of the plane taking a nosedive, I have been inspecting my “shoulds” and letting go ruthlessly. I have surveyed what I have been putting off and let it be a guide to stop adding something to my to-do list. I have listened to what I don’t want because sometimes the don’t-wants are more defined. Being a single mom and working full-time is not always easy and involves setting boundaries or shifting priorities, but by letting go of what I don’t want, I make space for what I do want to emerge. Letting go is one part, being comfortable with doing less and being in the space is another. But I know I don’t have to do anything to make this space. I don’t need to fill it. I can simply be in it, unsure for a while.

Reducing what I do helps to center my focus and attention. It helps me to take notice, it is the nudge I need to enact my own endings instead of only waiting. I need empty, undesignated space so I can keep figuring it out, over and over, nosedive after nosedive, narrowing and narrowing, allowing myself to inch closer to the mystery, the awe, and the relief of it all, one day at a time.

.Apropos of Nothing.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran

When I started this journey of simplifying my life, I realized how much more freedom, joy, and balance this brought me. It is almost a game at this point. Where else in my life can I remove distraction and simplify my life to focus on the essentials? My son’s 7th (!) birthday is around the corner and he is very excited. Let’s see if it will be possible to host a Halloween birthday party like every year. Damn you, Covidiot-time!

I have countless memories of my own birthday parties as a child. My parents always made it special and kept family and traditions alive. For some reason, very few childhood memories actually include the gifts I received. Well… okay, I distinctly remember the Barbie Camping Trailer which was pretty awesome. I was nine-years-old. Or the Lego Hidden Sight Haunted University. I was thirty-nine. Other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. I had a nice chat with a colleague at work about this which got me thinking: What type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What type of gifts will truly impact their lives? Or anybody’s life for that matter. This is my take on it.

  • Something I created or made for him.
  • Affirmation: Telling him that I appreciate and love him.
  • Challenge him. Encourage him to dream big dreams and follow them.
  • Contentment. This need for more is contagious. But, I lead by example and embrace that less is more. I show him that he has to be content with what he has, who he is, and who he can become.
  • Life isn’t fair. It never will be. There are just too many variables and idiots on this planet. But, when a wrong has been committed, I want my child to be active in helping and solving. I know that any issue can simply be discussed and solved in a normal way.
  • I teach my son to ask questions. Many questions. I will do my best to answer them all without telling him “Stop asking so many questions”.
  • Discipline. Appropriate behavior, how to get along with others, how to solve problems, how to get results, and how to achieve his dreams.
  • Beauty. I help him to find beauty in everything he sees and in everyone he meets.
  • Love.
  • Stability. A stable home and foundation are key. He needs to know that he is safe, his place in the family, who he can trust, and who is going to be there for him. To know that he can always come home is among the sweetest assurances in the world.
  • Undivided attention. Mostly. 🙂
  • I show him to be generous and live it, so he does it.
  • Honesty/Integrity. To be honest and to deal truthfully with others is so much better. No lying. No cheating. No stealing.
  • Hugging and Kissing. The other day I heard a father tell his maybe ten-year-old son that he had grown too old for kisses. No, Sir!
  • Imagination. And he has tons of that. So cute to see what he creates because the world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And those with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
  • I teach him that learning is fun and a passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please a teacher. I love to learn, read, write, and study, and he can see that daily. So he does it, too. You want to raise a reader, be a reader.
  • We spend quality time together after work and school. We eat together, play together, and talk a lot.
  • We spend time in nature. As much as possible. Doesn’t cost anything.
  • I teach him to be positive. Pessimists don’t change the world. They make everything sad. Optimists do.
  • Time. Giving someone time is a great gift. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get- or take back. So I think carefully about who (or what) is getting mine.
  • I give him room to make mistakes. Room to experiment, and explore because kids are fun (to a certain extend, right!?).
  • I teach him to have the right amount of self-esteem and self-confidence without creating a wise-ass or know-it-all. To value himself and stick to those values is important. Even when no one else is. He does not have to be the best in everything or better than everybody else.
  • Uniqueness. What makes him different is what makes him special. Uniqueness should not be hidden and rather be proudly displayed for the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.
  • Humor. We laugh a lot and are both pretty funny.
  • Opportunity. He needs opportunities to experience new things so he can find out what he enjoys and what he is good at.

Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at the department store. But, I think that is the point. Have a lovely weekend.

Stay Happy. Stay Healthy. Stay Sane.

.Things to Keep in Mind.

I had an amazing weekend even though it was also a bit sad because my parents left. I just worked an hour on an email to all the parents in my son’s class because I am actually the “Elternvorstand”, meaning I am the liaison between parents and teachers/school. Actually, I like it so far. It is fun and it is great to be involved. I love to write so, these parents will be bombarded with info, ha! And so will you. What is on my mind lately? Find out.

  • Stop complaining. I don’t waste energy moaning about the things that get me down. It will only make me feel worse and spread negative feelings. A quick rant to get something out of my system is fine but I ditch the negative remarks and put my energy into fixing the situation instead. I like spreading positive vibes and good humor. No toxic aura.
  • I cannot control what life throws at me, but I can control how I react to those challenges. And how I speak about them, too. If I always describe situations in negative terms, I will effectively make up my mind that things will end badly. I rather rephrase the way I refer to things such as I call a tricky situation “a challenge” rather than a “disaster”, and I develop a brighter attitude to life and find that positive results are a much more likely outcome.
  • Forgive: Anger and blame are unpleasant emotions to carry around. I think objectively about an incident that upset me: I try to see it form the other person’s point of view. It is likely that they won’t have meant to hurt me, perhaps thoughtlessness or a lack of courage caused the problem? Now I think about my own part in the situation. Have I been playing the victim? Or dwelling on things and creating more stress?
  • I make friends with failure. Usually, what people regret in life is not pursuing their dreams. What often stops them from just doing X, Y, or Z? It is the fear of failure. From a very young age, they teach us that failure is a bad thing, but guess what: Failure is one of the most valuable experiences I have ever had. For example, a divorce highlights exactly what I need to change in the future when it comes to relationships.
  • I don’t dwell on the past. All the things I should or could have done differently and worrying about it means I am living in the past. It also means I let these experiences control the present and my future. I just make peace with it all.
  • I treat myself the way I would treat a loved one. Kindly, not harshly. I explain to myself that I have done the best I could in the circumstances given and forgive myself for any mistake.
  • On Perfection: “Have no fear of perfection – You will never reach it” – Salvador Dalí. Perfection does not exist. All the images on social media of other people’s seemingly perfect bodies, homes, careers are not realistic images. No need to achieve perfection to be happy.
  • Get organized. We are back to the “new normal” in Vienna and as a single parent, it is important to be as organized as possible. For now, I have our school-morning-routine down. Less stress, and more time to relax and to enjoy every single day. I cut down on tidying time by putting things away as I use them. I plan meals ahead so I don’t waste time on constant trips to the supermarket.
  • Focus. I don’t multitask even though I am a woman and should be a master at this. I rather focus all my attention on one task and get that finished before moving on to the next thing on my list.
  • Prioritize. I figure out what my top four or five priorities are. Things I am passionate about, hobbies, things that really make my heart sing. I know I have to go to work but I also know that afterward, I can play.
  • Less indoors. I love my apartment. It makes me feel good to be home but spending time outside is so much better for me. Especially in nature. It lowers my stress levels, gives me time to gather my thoughts, away from the distractions of everyday life. It also helps me to be more grounded and balanced. I find some grass and lie on it, I could watch, listen to the birds, walk in the rain….. and get wet. You know, normal stuff.

Stay happy. Stay healthy. Stay sane.

Am I the Worst f***ing Parent?

Monday, 7th of September 2020, was the first day of school for my son and it was very emotional to me. My little boy is growing up so quickly. But then again, kids are finally back at school and there is some sort of routine in this “new normal”. Parenting was/is tough throughout the still ongoing pandemic and maybe you are wondering if you are a good mother or father. Maybe you wonder if you did everything you can do to make it as nice and comfortable as possible for your kid(s)? Maybe Corona messed up everything for you and you are slowly getting back into it all. Things were very different in the last couple of months but I held my marbles together with help from my parents, partner, and friends. I guess we all did what we could to survive this and parent through it somehow. Have you ever questioned if you are a good parent? What does it mean to be a good parent? Here is my list:

You are NOT good at parenting if:

  • You never contact your child.
  • You never spend time with your kid(s).
  • You don’t let them have any chocolate.
  • You put too much pressure on the child.
  • You don’t pay the child support you are supposed to.
  • You never take time to yourself, and you resent the kids for it.
  • You never spend quality time with your partner anymore.
  • You signed him/her up for too many extracurriculars, forcing them into an after-school-Karate-Course named “Saved-By-the-Clock-9 mm Caliber-Coffee habit -then -wax- on -and -wax- off”.
  • You signed them up for all extracurriculars because you want them to get into Harvard at some point.
  • You sent pictures of your child to your ex and he/she does not respond.
  • You didn’t read enough to your child and as a teenager and they start reading Freud, Heidegger, Kant, and Kierkegaard to you.
  • You forced your child to read too much and as a teenager, they rebel by smoking weed behind the library and setting the building on fire with the dying embers of their joint or “eh….the doobie, mom”.
  • You receive the dependency allowance from work and keep it even though your ex-partner has sole custody and raises the child(ren) alone.
  • You let them watch too much television, knowing full well that too much television causes The Bachelor.
  • You are not wearing a mask in front of your child on the subway but tell them to wear one.
  • You smoke and drink in front of your child and tell them smoking and drinking is bad.

You ARE a good at parenting if:

  • You love them and show them. Unconditionally.
  • If you introduce them to Freud, Heidegger, Kant, and Kierkegaard at a teenager level.
  • You are always here for them.
  • You listen and you talk to them. Always.
  • You make an effort.
  • You never tell your child that the ex-partner does not love him even though they never get in touch.
  • That, after divorce, the child is loved by father and mother and that it is not the child’s fault that the parents don’t get along anymore.
  • You gave your kid(s) too much freedom to play alone in the park and now they call the squirrel under the shed “Dad”.
  • Your child loves the new partner you chose.
  • You went out for a BBQ with your friends, brought your child, didn’t come home until 11 pm, and you get your child ready for bed with a big smile on your face.
  • You don’t have newborn photos of your child framed all over the house.
  • You don’t have a million pictures of your children on Facebook or Instagram or in your wallet.
  • You don’t show a million pictures of your child(ren) to your friends.
  • You don’t prepare vegan veggie fat balls every day for lunch for your kid(s).

Stay Happy. Stay Healthy. Stay Sane.