.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.

.Stay Inquisitive.

Inquisitive is a fancy word for curious 🙂

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: If there is any reaction, both are transformed.” – Carl Jung

When I think about romance, I think of two kinds of relationships. The opposite attracts and kindred spirit relationships. The former is the classic and the one we are taught to aspire to as kids. This couple is made up of two opposites, centered around the passion and attraction that causes mystery. We are curious and drawn to other beings because of their dissimilarities to ourselves. It makes sense to be fascinated by our counterparts, and we can learn a lot by hanging out with our polar opposite. Not to mention the biological sense behind falling in love with someone physically different from us to have happy, healthy, genetically mixed babies with if this is your thing. No, there won’t be a second baby for me.

My romance of choice is the latter, though. For the last couple of months, I have been in love with my kindred spirit. I am sure this type of relationship has been around for as long as the opposite attracts version, but it seems to be going through a renaissance. In a society where feminism is becoming mainstream, and where equality is slowly starting to be valued over tradition, a new type of relationship goal is natural.

For those of us who care very little about tradition and gender, and a lot more about self-realization and freedom of societal demands, a romance is less about who opens the door for whom and who picks up the check on a date. Instead, it is more about being heard and seen and encouraged and wanted. In all departments. For who you are. Not for the typical properties of your gender. To be honest, I never want to be treated as The Woman of the relationship. I want to be treated as Daniela – an equal. And when I look at my partner, I don’t see The Man. I see my soulmate. I see a person I am passionately in love with. I couldn’t care less about his masculinity. After years and years of dating and being in relationships and marriages, I wonder what that could possibly have to do with anything at all.

When I look at my partner, I instead see my teammate and my coach. My manager and best friend, my personal trainer, and my inspiration. I see someone who got my back and makes me feel courageous. I see a capable, beautiful, fascinating human being whom I cannot get enough of, but sometimes get fed up with, too.

This type of relationship might not be for everyone, but it works for us. We might be two people, but we share our life. We get on each other’s nerves, argue, and make up together. And I think this is why I am passionately in love with him. Because of what we have already done together, and the potential of what we will do together in the future.

What works for us:

  • We ask questions: all of them, even the tough ones. And then we listen attentively.
  • Dress up for each other. Go out on dates.
  • We go for long walks, reconnect, look at things together. Sometimes that is all it takes.
  • We surprise each other. Physical things such as flowers, little gifts, or spontaneous trips.
  • We support each other’s evolvement, even if it is sometimes scary.
  • We laugh at each other’s jokes. Even the lame ones. I am a pretty funny Piefke.
  • We start projects together.
  • We read books together. Read to each other. Talk about what we read.
  • We respect the classics: honesty, loyalty, trust, and adoration.
  • We have a kitchen-session. We have a glass of wine and talk. And cook. And eat.
  • We are generous. With time, with money, with matters of the heart.
  • We want to conquer the world together.
  • We don’t fear change.
  • We have the same rhythm.

Life is too short for toxic relationships. It is time to leave when you exhaust yourself to no avail. Or even worse, when the person who claims to love you treats you with outright unkindness and disrespect. It is NOT normal to feel drained, sad, angry, hopeless, or live in fear when being in a relationship. We are also taught to never give up on love, but what about when love gives up on us or if it never was love, to begin with? I want to focus on things that give me energy instead of drain it, things that give me happiness instead of worry, things that give my everyday life beauty and meaning instead of tension and anxiety.

I am by no means a relationship “expert” and I am walking on thin ice here. But I could assure you that I am not suggesting something as drastic as breaking up or letting a toxic relationship fade out if your partner does not meet at least some of the points listed above. But then again, maybe I am. Actually, yes I am.

.The Importance of Family

Of course, the time in Germany flew by in a heartbeat. I always know this before I even get home. I want to meet so many friends, talk to everyone, and spend time with them but it is not possible. Time flies. I just packed my suitcase and soon it is time to unpack all the things I purchased/received as intelligently as possible at home.

I am on the train and cannot even describe the endlessly long number of thoughts that are going through my head right now. I wiped away a tear or two but I always figure out a way to deal with these rotten goodbyes. You know why? Because I have to and things will be okay. And if they won’t, I will rearrange everything and make it work again. There are only solutions.

I felt emotional for two days now and it is strangely always the same painful phenomenon. Saying goodbye to my family is never easy. I just know I am and have been at a very peaceful, loving, good place. My home base, which is a place where I don’t have to worry about anything. Where I can be a child again. Spending time with my family is extra special. Anybody who knows them can relate to what I am talking about. So many really awesome and good conversations. So much quality time. Things are never perfect, but it felt pretty close to it. 

Saying goodbye to my grandmothers does not get easier. They are old, they have health issues. We do talk on the phone or via Skype (82/92 year-olds are using Skype, too!)  every week usually but this is not the same as of course talking in person. I was thankful to have spent some time with them while I was home. I am just continuing to put my positive energy out there by thinking positive thoughts and things. Everything will be okay. I simply have to take out the negativity and sadness of leaving my home-base behind but this easier said than done since I am so close to them.

My life is no way how I ever planned it to be. The only thing I always knew was that I don’t want to be stuck in this small home town of mine forever. I wanted to see the world, explore, experience, travel. All these things did not change but there is a price to pay when moving away. I made all type of plans but life threw curveball at me left and right. Things changed. I adapted. Now I live in Austria and I love and adore it. This is my life. My new life. With no family around but they are a lot closer now than before. I am here now, open,  present, and grateful for what I achieved. Grateful for the relationships in my life, especially the ones that open up my mind to new insights and helping me to embrace ideas and thoughts. As I said, all we can ever do is to adapt to new circumstances.

Even though my heart is aching, I know that I don’t want to change this wild, somewhat uncertain, and crazy life of mine. I beat the German “Angst”, look beyond and take a shot on this crazy life and what it entails. And I will be back at some point. No matter what. Priorities in my life shift. It is not so much exploring the entire world alone anymore but rather having the people I love close by or the certainty that they are just a train ride away.

.Work and Play.

Den Schas kann I späda a no weidamacha.

Eight hours or more a day. Five days or more a week. Forty-something weeks a year. Fifty years a life. You do the math. Because I can’t. All I know is that I spend an incredible amount of time at work. Sometimes it seems that I just live for the weekend, for the vacation or national holiday. Then again, life doesn’t only happen on my time off. It is also lived during working hours. The satisfaction of enjoying (or at least not hating) my “work-life” is a luxury I wish on everybody. Especially in these crazy Corona-times. However slow the clock at work may be moving, however long a workday appears when I am enduring it, time is precious. We all don’t have an infinite amount, and wanting it to move quicker seems like a waste of time. Not all hours of life can be thrilling or fulfilling, but a whole career spent wishing we were elsewhere is probably nothing to strive for. A former supervisor of mine once told me: “You don’t like to work here my dear, here is the door. Nobody forces you to be here!” Good point.

When I was a child, I envied everyone who was retired. I wished I could skip the working years completely and go straight to retirement. I pictured how lovely a pensioner’s day must be. Meeting friends, drinking tea, or sipping on wine, going to the museum, reading the newspaper daily from front to back. Spending hours in a favorite armchair, having all the time to read all the books in the world, one country at a time. Going on trips whenever I feel like it. That was my unreasonable romantic expectation of retirement back then, and it kind of still is.

I remember imagining how it would be, going to work every day. Not being in control of my own schedule or activities. Doing something just for money. It didn’t make sense, and I couldn’t picture myself spending years doing it. I figured this wasn’t anything to worry too much about, that I would in time understand the workings of society and come to accept the concept of livelihood. But should we?

There was also a time in my life when I didn’t work. I studied full-time and took leave without pay. It was a great time. Almost no regrets. Then there was a time when I had to go back to work because I am responsible for this little almost seven-year-old son of mine. There is some sort of pride I feel in providing for him and I. That I am capable of it because I am able to work. Priorities and responsibility, my friends. Sometimes, we don’t have a choice. This is my job and one side of my life. And I am glad to be back.

But there is so much more to be found in a job. I am very lucky because I find purpose, passion, fun, and sometimes even pure joy. You don’t feel lucky? But luck or not, you could at least demand meaning. That what you spend your days, weeks, and years doing has importance to yourself or your surrounding, so the weekends aren’t spent dreading the Monday ahead. I find myself pondering ideas, find solutions, or new ways of doing things, eager to have another great day at work or wherever.

I create to-do lists, I write, I read. I do things that make me happy. I enjoy getting up most of the mornings, steaming cup of coffee in hand reading a bit to my son. A fresh start, a fresh morning. You know what? It is a precious gift to be physically (and mentally) able to get out of bed in the morning. And there is a relief of getting back into an everyday routine which calmed the nerves. By the end of the day, my life is back in order, I do things that make me happy, and if this means treating myself and my partner to a home-cooked meal in front of an easygoing, funny crime-show and laughing until we cry so be it. Do what makes you happy. Remember, there is only this one life.

That’s when I know I am there. I have stopped living for the weekends and vacations, and instead start appreciating all of it, all the hours. Well, most of them anyway. And no matter how alluring those retirement days seem, slowly spent reorganising the library or taking those Italian language classes, I am fine having retirement stay in the future for now.

Friday is still epic. By the time this beautiful day rolls in, another favorite weekly moment is here, and I cannot wait to happily hashtag #TGIF. Work is good and play is good. Both essential aspects of a carefully balanced week.