.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 DalĂ­. 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.

.Welcome to the Pleasure Dome.

A healthy outside starts from the inside.” Robert Urich

A lovely summer is slowly coming to an end. I realized this last night when I actually needed a thicker blanket and felt how the air and warmth of the sunlight changed. There are many things I am very grateful for these days and not many things I need in my life because all I need is …. actually less. When I cut out the things I don’t need, I leave room for the positive and beneficial things I want to focus on. The same principle helps me to strip away the, for example, unhealthy elements of my diet and replace them with nutritious alternatives or to identify some weirdness in my relationships with people and put them behind me. By learning to prioritize and pare things down I fell the benefits across all areas of my life. So, I want to share how I found my pleasure dome:

  • I worry less and take action instead. I meditate. I lighten the load by chatting with the people who matter in my life. I write about what worries and bothers me.
  • I get active. Physical exercise is an effective way to de-stress quickly as it releases endorphins (Oh yeah, I forgot, I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist: -> endorphins are “feel-good hormones” that make one calmer). I love to run, swim and practice Yoga.
  • I rationalize my worries and be realistic. I don’t let my worries take control so they can get blown up out of proportion. Honestly, if it is pretty unlikely to happen, I focus on the present instead and decide then if I will actually cross that bridge if it (ever) comes to me.
  • I don’t dwell on decisions. I trust my instinct, bite the bullet, and decide. I commit to my plan and take action. With the right partner, this is even easier.
  • I let go of control. There are some things in life I can control and others that I just can’t. I leave for work on time but I cannot prevent the train from not running due to construction. I can always control the way I react to these situations though.
  • I have less clutter. I have access to so much stuff. I can purchase things with a mouse-click. But what do I really need? Most unnecessary things, instead of making me feel happy, have a detrimental effect on my mood. I love a clutter-free home because it is calm, relaxed, and creates a happy haven. When I moved from Canada to Austria, I thought about decluttering my home as therapy, rather than a tedious task. It instantly boosted my mood and encouraged me to go on and score in other areas of my life. I was realistic about what to keep because everything my son and I could take was supposed to fit into two suitcases each.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

  • I rethink my gifting. I consider giving time or experiences instead of items. Tickets to the Opera (For some who might not know – Vienna has an Opera), a hot-air balloon ride, a trip to some awesome place, or a SPA-afternoon. For kids: ONE gift that they really want.
  • I take myself on a date. I take along my favorite book, eat something awesome, visit a museum after or see a movie.
  • I declutter “beauty” products because there are so many additives and chemicals in those that are easily absorbed through the skin. I make my products or switch to the ones as natural as possible.
  • I detoxed my friendship group. My free time is precious and it is important to spend it with positive people. My friends should boost me, encourage me, and make me feel better and valued. And I should do the same for them. I trust my gut instinct. If I am dreading a meeting with someone, I don’t do it unless I have to.
  • I always make time for loved ones.
  • I practice seeing someone. I find a peaceful space and stand or sit cross-legged toe-to-toe with my partner, then simply look into their eyes silently for at least a minute. There are always the initial giggles but once I relax I find that letting someone “see” me in this way is very powerful and I feel equally honored to see my partner, too. It brings us much closer together.

“Bring awareness to the many subtle sounds of nature: The rustling of leaves in the wind, raindrops falling, the humming of an insect, the first birdsong at dawn.” – Eckhart Tolle

  • I don’t take things personally anymore. If people have behaved badly toward me, it is not a personal vendetta but just a sign that they were not able to handle things better. Issues like this are almost always about the other person, rather than me. I might never know exactly why people have behaved in a certain way, but they are motivated by their own fears and are a victim of their own weakness. I rise above these situations and don’t become embroiled in analyzing why they have happened. Life is tricky enough without picking up another person’s baggage. And in the midst of movement, chaos, insanity, and more, I am able to keep stillness inside because solitude has its own very strange beauty to it.

Stay Sane. Stay Happy. Stay Healthy.

.Mindfulness.

Via Judith Lockett

“It’s always weird to see people talking about meditation for relaxation while it’s embedded in systems of belief in the East. The same thing happens with mindfulness sometimes.” – Dat Tran, an awesome friend.

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the art of bringing attention to the present moment and tuning into your senses that we have such as to smell, hear, and see. Mindfulness means simply to become more aware and have a heightened awareness of things. There are so many benefits of practicing mindfulness on a regular basis. From reduced stress and anxiety, a better ability to cope with stressors, more mental clarity, better attention, and focus. I am by no means the best of practicing mindfulness all the time but when I do make an effort to be more mindful in different small daily actions it makes a huge difference. And this is what I want to talk about today. I want to share some small ways that work for me to incorporate more mindfulness into my day. Maybe it works for you, too.

Mindful Eating. This is a wonderful daily practice we can include in our lives. What this means is simply becoming more aware of the eating process and the experience with food and mealtime. It helps us to digest food better, and we are aware more of all the tastes, textures, preparing the food, the smells and it also helps to tune into hunger and satiety cues that help when we are eating.

When eating mindfully, we are better to tune into how we feel when eating. A way to practice this is to turn off all distractions when you eat. Put your phone and computer away, turn off the TV, and really be present with the food in front of you. Also, try to slow down when you are eating. Take a few breaths between bites, put the fork down, and notice the taste.

Morning Routine. Taking time to start your day in a mindful way is a great thing you can do or start to add to your daily routine. It can be just a couple of extra minutes where you can be with yourself in silence, to have a richer experience when you for example prepare your morning tea or coffee and to be fully present when you are involved in preparing those things. Boiling the water, sitting down to fully enjoy it, smelling it before you check your emails, or rush out of the door before you fully have to start our day.

Mundane Activities. A great way to make a mundane activity more interesting is to simply engage your senses and be fully present in it. Even if it is just for a moment or two. And this applies especially to the things that apply your hands, touch, and feel. Notice the feeling of slicing a vegetable, and preparing food, doing the dishes, and the feeling of scrubbing the plate or pan. How do these things feel to you? For me, it takes on a whole new life if I am fully present in the moment.

Another way to be more mindful is to check in with yourself. And you can do this at any time of the day. It is really just tuning in to see how you are feeling. Like, what do I need right now? Do I need to put my phone away? Do I need to stop scrolling through social media? Do I need to get up from my seat and move or go for a walk? Am I hungry or thirsty? Checking in with ourselves is a great way to figure out where we need to take some actions. This is also a good thing to do when you feel any emotions, especially such as anger and frustration, or when you are feeling overwhelmed or upset. Bring your awareness into that emotion and ask yourself, “What does this feel like? Where do I feel it in my body?” When we do this, we are sort of able to detach ourselves from that emotion and take more of an outsider-look at it. Like being the observer of that emotion.

Meditation. Another way to add some more mindfulness into your day is to meditate. You don’t have to do this for a very long time so if you are new to sitting in silence with yourself you can just set a timer for five minutes and there you go. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Meditation is a great way to see what is going on inside of you and you can do this simply by sitting down somewhere, closing your eyes (or not, I can actually meditate with my eyes open while standing), finding a comfortable position, and focus on your breath and the sensation of air going in and out of your lungs. And when it comes to your thoughts, and yes, we are often thinking about so many things, we can take a moment to stop while meditating. Think about “thought-clouds” and observe your thoughts as if they would be indeed clouds passing through your mind. This way, you can better disconnect from them and no longer identify with them or even become your thoughts.

I like to practice “Inner-Body Awareness” while focusing on my hands. I learned about this exercise in Eckard Tolle’s book “A New Earth”. You simply sit and enjoy the liveliness of your hands which is a great way to redirect your focus and just be in the here and now.

Mindful Interactions. The next way to practice more mindfulness is to have mindful interactions with others. Not only is this a great way to improve your listening skills but also a great way to enrich your relationships. Fully emerge yourself in an experience you are having with someone or a conversation but just pay full attention to what it is they are saying by listening fully and giving them your full attention and not getting distracted by things you hear or see around you. Or getting caught up in what your response is going to be. We so easily get caught up in the grind or the need for approval from others that we lose sight of what we want. Reconnect with those things and be specific about what exactly they are, whether or not you’re making space for them in your life, and consider ways that you can begin to if needed. To be more mindful, notice your surroundings. Walk in nature. What do you see? What do you hear?

Doing Less. I think that rest and recovery between periods of work are not only a big part of a less stressful life, but essential for supporting your ability to function at your best. Constantly having things to “do” with no real space to breathe is what leads to burnout. Doing less is all about welcoming this slowness into your life and recognizing what is and isn’t worth your time. We can’t say no to everything, but we can still set boundaries for ourselves. 

Stillness. We have become so accustomed to noise and activity that when stimulation, distraction, or entertainment is taken away, stillness makes us uncomfortable. We often believe stillness has no value or means wasting our time as productivity and achievement are so heavily prized. But if we drop the idea that we need to fill every ounce of silence with some kind of familiar activity or distraction, we can begin to understand ourselves better and recognize what actually matters. Just chill. Just be still.

Stay sane. Stay mindful.

.Hold it Through the Curves – The Book.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

can I please have your attention for this public service announcement: I did it again. My third book has been published. The title: Hold it Through the Curves. 

What my third book is about: 

Like my first and second book, I have written essays on my life in general, about simplifying, about being a mother, about creating what I am passionate about. You will find inspirations, (mental) health tips, and how to be a better version of yourself. This time, more focus is placed on my life after my divorce, my new start in a different country, surviving the Corona-pandemic, and juggling the single-parenting thing while working full-time and studying part-time.

What I hope to achieve with my book is that you get comfortable, enjoy a glass of wine, send your kid(s) to bed, and read my book in silence and peace. I hope it will transfer you into a relaxed, thought-provoking, or inspirational mode, make you reflect, and most importantly think. Publishing a book for a writer is a dream come true. Being an avid reader, publishing my books was on my bucket list for a long time. It is a great feeling to stroll through bookstores and show my son the books I have written nicely placed on the shelf.

I really want to thank my family, friends, blog readers, and the support I have gotten to make this happen. I will have book signings coming up in Vienna at independent bookstores. Announcements and dates will be shared on this website. Honestly, I am still totally overwhelmed in the best way possible and will pour myself a glass of white wine.

Order your copy at your local bookstore or order it here, here or here.

Thank you for reading my stuff. <3

.What I learned & Things You don’t know about Me.

As requested, I constructed a list of “What I have learned” and things that you don’t know about me. Here is an attempt:

  • I have a scar on my right index finger. My pet turtle bit me when I was a teenager.
  • I speak a bit of sign language. I am not crazy fluent, but I can communicate. I have learned the hard way that not all deaf people want to talk to you just because you can sign.
  • I am working on my P.h.D. in Linguistics and will be a Doctor in about two years but I won’t be able to perform open-heart surgery.
  • I am terrified of raccoons. They are so scary. Period.
  • I am not allergic to food but eating pineapple hurts my mouth.
  • I have been pregnant once and never want to do this again. I am fine with one child.
  • My favorite food is fish, salad, and veggies.
  • And Dark Chocolate.
  • I would love to go skydiving but then again I would have to JUMP OUT OF A FUCKING AIRPLANE.
  • I cannot stand Rod Stewart’s voice.
  • I practice yoga almost daily.
  • I faked injuring my ankle to get out fo running a couple of miles in police academy. I lay in the dirt until someone found me.
  • I don’t like crowds of people. I don’t like big, crazy parties.
  • What’s mostly on my mind is my family.
  • I have a thing for guys who make me laugh and let me be myself.
  • I am not sure when I have laughed the hardest in my life, but these days, I am laughing so much that my belly hurts. Also, at work.
  • The best things I have ever bought were books and a comfy bed.
  • I love being in museums, art galleries, vernissages, and actually anything artsy.
  • I love to read and write.
  • I meditate at least twice a day. It helps me clear my mind, get rid of stress and gives me energy.
  • I am a pathological liar.
  • Just kidding.
  • I am an introvert rather than an extrovert.
  • My apartment is a place to chill, read, enjoy good food, laugh, relax, and so much more.
  • I enjoy a minimalistic lifestyle. Owning less makes me happy.
  • I have no debt and rarely use my credit card.
  • My third book is available for purchase in one or two weeks.
  • I like to be honest and fair, and demand the same from others.
  • I like to laugh and make everything more fun and exciting.
  • I would give you the shirt off my back, even if you didn’t ask for it.
  • I am generous and mostly calm. Unless the Air-condition breaks down at work.
  • I can make people feel better.
  • As a child, I had the creepiest clown as a stuffy in my bed and actually took it along at all times.
  • Sex is awesome with the right partner.
  • Sex is fun, but have you ever canceled an invitation to a baby shower?
  • I hate it when people call me sweetheart or honey.
  • I am proud of myself and what I have accomplished.
  • I love my son so much.
  • I have many male friends because it is easier to get along with them than with most women.
  • I don’t want to be the “obvious” sexy mom. Still waters run deep.
  • I dyed my hair blonde once when I was nineteen and will never do it again. Being natural is awesome.
  • TV in the bedroom is not okay.
  • I always ask for what I want. Or I go for it.
  • I keep trying.
  • I barely remember anyone’s name but I never forget their face.
  • Street smart is as important as book smart.
  • Don’t work too hard.
  • I don’t ask people what they are doing for a living but rather who they are and what makes them happy.
  • It is okay to cry.
  • It is not okay to beat each other up after an argument. It is also not okay to take the phone of your partner and control all their moves.
  • Whenever something feels weird, it usually is.
  • Everything in moderation.
  • Don’t listen to “experts”.
  • Trust your gut. Not your brain.
  • If it is not funny, you don’t have to laugh.
  • I love brilliant writers like David Sedaris and David Rakoff.
  • Nobody is looking stupid when they are having fun.
  • Short people don’t want to be picked up.
  • Relax and let them win. Who cares.
  • WhocaresWhocaresWhocaresWhocaresWhocaresWhocares.
  • Make “no” a complete sentence.

How does your list look? What would you add?

.After all is Said and Done, Gotta Move While it is Still Fun.

Title by Keith Richards, obviously.

I love traveling. Going somewhere for the sake of seeing a new place, experience something I haven’t before or learning about the world, is reason enough to plan a trip. The itch to explore is naturally the main reason I travel. It is fun! There is another, less obvious, aspect of going away that deserves some attention though: the feeling of coming home, and this new perspective I have gained upon my return.

It might be silly to go somewhere simply for the pleasure of returning home again. It is the inverted, negative copy of traveling: the purpose of which isn’t going somewhere, but rather, returning to something. Some say that it is the most savory part of the trip. That no matter how magical the journey, there really is no place like home. And there is nothing like a trip to remind me of that fact. This is, of course, under the supposition that I have a home life worth returning to. In other cases, the trip instead works as a reminder of that very fact. In either circumstance, in the moment of returning, I am led to feel something, or see something from a perspective I didn’t have previously. I am able to observe my life at home clearly with the veil of everyday normalcy briefly lifted. The comparison to locations and lifestyles I have encountered in that new place I just returned from makes it possible to determine whether I am happy to be home, or wish I could have stayed at that other place. The direct and instantaneous reaction to this comparison is difficult to ignore. The Corona Pandemic and Lockdown may have been part of all this.

Home is aways where your heart is.

Traveling to my parent’s place: there is this familiar smell which is the same since my childhood. It always will be and means “happy place”, warmth and love. I don’t notice the smell of my own home until I leave and return again. The morning light in my bedroom is normal to me, nothing I either appreciate or dislike until I have been away from it for a few nights. Once I have seen, smelled, heard, touched, and experienced something a few times, my brain might as well autopilot things for a while until something new and exciting happens. And my everyday at-home-routines are definitely not new and exciting enough to waste brainwaves on. Until I go away for a while. All of a sudden, upon returning, my home becomes that new place worthy to discover. For a short period of time at least. Just until the brain realized is it just good old Kansas I have returned to, red slipperless and yellow brick road-free as can be. No matter whether I find coming home to be the best of the worst or maybe just a tolerable part of traveling, it is no doubt an important one.

Most importantly, the two more things I need to feel at home: My son and my partner. Ever since moving to Vienna, I have started identifying more and more with a turtle taking my home with me everywhere I go. These days, even though I still feel like this turtle sometimes, my son and partner are my shell. As long as I have them with me, there will always be a sense of belonging, of being home. And, if you find me curled up in my cozy corner, reading a good book with a glass of wine in hand, my calmly decorated room full of books and filled with the smell of food slowly cooking from the kitchen (my partner), my favorite jazz playlist playing on my laptop, with a few lit candles, you can safely assume I will be quite at ease and content. Even though my son is building a cave next to me. I am happy as long as both are around. Because as it turns out, home isn’t a certain place. Home isn’t even where I hang my hat. Home is where my heart is which is wherever and whenever I am hanging out with myself first and then with the people I love the most.

.Body Image.

Diane Vreeland via Horst Estate

An upcoming fitness test made me think about body image and beauty. Natural beauty is wonderful. It is something I appreciate whenever I see it, no matter if it is a stunning landscape view or in the face of an unusually beautiful person. The reason why I enjoy seeing something pretty, and why it catches my attention, probably has a very logical explanation. Some things are undeniably and almost objectively beautiful, but most things more debatably so. And that is the beauty of beauty, that it is up to personal interpretation.

The majority of us are not undeniably beautiful forces of nature. Most people just look like people do: Great but perhaps not ethereal. As we get to know each other, our physical features often seem to change. For example, the persons I first found quite ordinary becomes a great beauty when I notice their delightful personality. The classic beauty on the other hand starts looking unattractive after she has treated me rudely a few times. Facial features leave a way for our subjective interpretations of the person’s other traits. One way to express my personality and affect the way I myself, as well as others, perceive myself is through my style. Which is by no means anything special. The way I decide to dress says a lot about myself. And it is a way to stop caring as much about what I am born with, and instead, appreciate what I have to offer in personality.

Iris Apfel is 98 years old.

Stay natural: Apfel and Diana Vreeland, two of the most style-striking people imaginable, were never considered particularly pretty by their contemporaries, nor, it seems, by the two women themselves. Nevertheless, they are both great style icons, not just of their generation, but by any standard thinkable. If either of them had been born with an abundance of classic beauty to lean back on, the world might very well have been deprived of their creative and sin pairing senses of style. Not that there aren’t natural beauties out there with an impeccable sense of style. But perhaps the incentive to get inventive is bigger if you are not often showered with compliments.

The pursuit is as persistent as ever. We are all taught through social media and magazines how to best try to fit into the model of perfection. With makeup to cover, not enhance. With clothes to balance, not exaggerate. With rules to follow on body shapes and hair types. All this to even us out, make us normal, hide our quirks. If you have got wide shoulders, you are taught how to make them appear smaller, not how to amplify their width. Isn’t that sad? But, I have never seen Iris Apfel do ordinary or restrained. But, guess what: Immortality was never won by doing “normal”. No matter the degree of classic beauty we possess, we know that age will slowly creep up. Although the character that comes with old age is one of the most attractive features to be found, our society’s obsession with youth, fitness, and perfection often makes us forget that fact. Style, however, is invulnerable to time. If anything, we will have had more time to curate a decent wardrobe by the time we retire, making time an accomplice in building up our chicness, instead of an enemy. Diana Vreeland was hotter than ever when she passed away at the age of eighty-six, and Iris Apfel is still going strong at ninety-eight. There is a lesson to be learned by these gorgeous women. Perhaps not considered the greatest beauties of their time, but who cares, when they are instead considered the greatest stylists of all times.

Just embrace your imperfections. Those insecurities or those features you initially hate about yourself then end up being the ones you fall in love with and appreciate the most. For me, if there is one thing that seems to only grow stronger with age, it is acceptance. The embrace of your quirks and imperfections, because they are the things that make you. Be yourself.

.Woman’s Gone Mild.

Even though COVID restrictions are not as “strict” anymore, things feel weird here in Vienna. I don’t quite know how to put it, but something is off. While a bookstore owner around the corner tries to survive, I strangely catch myself buying fewer books. With the demands of this pandemic, no wonder people are looking for alternative ways to live and to save money. We adapt. We change. I changed to an even simpler living. For me, simple living encompasses all the fundamental values that help me live a more wholehearted life. From being connected to the present moment to appreciating the little things, and taking time to enjoy and celebrate this awesome life.

Of course, there are many things that can hinder us on this quest to live more simply, this glorification of being “busy all the time”, consumer culture and materialism, digital and virtual consumption. I mean all those things that we seem to need to evaluate in our lives and then decide whether we want and/or need a lifestyle change.

The other day a friend asked why some people don’t work overtime. Because this way they could make some extra money to buy new things. Honestly, I rather purchase less and have more time for myself and the ones I love. This conversation then took a turn to success and if it is correlated to how busy we all are and how much time we spend at work. What does busy even mean? Explanations why someone never calls are: He is very busy at work. Some wear it like a badge of honor, taking pride in the fact that being busy implies that they are important. But they are not. Nobody is that important. The thing is that we cannot be busy every hour of every day.

Many people share every step they take and give status updates and let people know what they are doing at all times. People also share their positive stuff, their purchases, their achievements, and that they have the best time traveling the world with two motorcycles at the same time. Many just need to leave or share a feeling of a “picture-perfect” portrait of existence which is most likely not the case. I believe what it does is it leaves them with a feeling like their lives don’t quite measure up. Look at me, world! Look what I did/bought!” Please “like” and leave a comment below.

Others think they are more loved if they own “cool” things”. One of the reasons that consumerism has become such a fundamental part of people’s lives is the fact that shopping and buying things gives a sense of identity, and most importantly, a sense of worth comes from the “stuff” we consume. But hasn’t this crazy pandemic shown us what we actually need? That there is nothing lacking? That we have everything we need? Often, this urge to buy new things is because something is lacking from within, and whatever is consumed will fill that void and fix us.

I think that there is a deeper fear that if we stop being “busy” or buying stuff, for just a moment, we would be confronted by silence, and even more terrifying, we would have to face the fact that perhaps what we are “busy” doing isn’t actually that important at all.

But, what does it mean to be successful in life if it is not the things we own? It is important to remember that success doesn’t just have to be defined by the big moments in our lives or by collecting material possessions. There can be great significance in the small, quiet moments and in life’s little details. If we stop and think about it, there are other ways to evaluate how successful we or our lives are. For example, the time we spend with awesome people, the connection we make with others, how much love and happiness we inspire, the impact we have on our surroundings. By learning to relish the small, simple pleasures along the way, we can all find more meaning and joy in our lives.

It is easy to get caught in the loop of working to earn money, to buy material possessions (that fuel the economy), and to improve social status and happiness by working yet more again to buy more things. But material possessions and consuming things doesn’t do this. Experiences and people, not things make us happy.