.Warning: Everything is F****d.

Or is it not? Caught your attention though. Once upon a time, I walked into a famous Vienna coffee house (Café Ritter) during lunch hour, headed straight to the lone empty table and was about to sit and write, when the guy to my right grabbed the chair and pulled it closer to himself saying, “This is taken.” “Oh, okay,” I said, looking for another empty seat. I found one easily and ordered a glass of wine while I got comfortable with my book.

He hogged that chair for about one hour waiting for his date I guess, leg shaking, unlocking his phone several times to zero messages and zero buzzing and locking it again while twisting a full 90 degrees every five minutes to check the door. “She will never come,” I wanted to say but I remained silent. However, it made me nervous just sitting next to this man. There was so much commotion and movement that I thought he was going to have a heart attack. Being alone at a café is not the worst thing in the world but waiting for a date is, I guess. I love to write at cafés. There, I am a little more self-aware and self-conscious. I like to be present, to enjoy the solo time I have crafted for myself by choosing to sit and focus without anyone else. The anonymity is nice. Being away from the quiet safety of my routine at home, I can pause and take in my new environment. My brain fires in different ways and the writing comes out fresher, less inhibited. I am more open overall. This openness has never failed me. Many times I literally do nothing at all. I sit, watch people and get inspired.

“The quality of life is a proportion, always, to the capacity for delight the capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” – Julia Cameron

The unbearable lightness of being bored.

At this point, the hogging-chair person still waited for his date. Still on the phone. Out of a sudden, a little buzz on his phone followed by his sad face. This made me think about technology. When I grew up, there were no cell phones. Or at least no smartphones (How smart are they really?). These days, it is so easy to just send a short message and your date is sad. Our digital age is so full of distractions. It is not unusual to have two or more screens in front of us when we sit down to relax. The first thing everybody does is to put the cellphone on the table before ordering something. For many people, barely a commute goes by without plugging in headphones to listen to something or cramming in another game of Candy Crush on the train. While constant mental stimulation might be the new norm, research suggests that being alone with our own thoughts has surprising benefits. A recent study found that boredom has the potential to spark enormous productivity and creativity. I usually have my strokes of genius while lingering in the bathtub or shower. I know too well that it is easy to feel defeated in more areas than one when it comes to the daily grind. This especially rings true for me this year and I have constantly been on the prowl to find ways to make my life easier.

One of the most delightful benefits of boredom, however, is the ability to fill that brain-space with a daydream or two. Sometimes, letting your mind wander might seem like a crazy thing to do and you may feel guilty because you need to get the spreadsheets to Angela in Accounts but do it anyway because it is so good because our minds are just as powerful as the devices we distract them with. We should give ourselves time to pay attention and allow us to linger in the moment, accept the moment the way it is and cut the garbage out. Just hit the pause button once in a while throughout the day. It is okay to step away and recharge. Also, sleep. Good sleep is crucial; and awesome. Then nothing is really f****d.

.Single-Parenting How to: Bonus- Without Losing your Mind.

Some random kid (I think) 😀

One of the questions I get asked most is how I raise my son alone without losing my mind. Big topic! Through trial and error, I have learned some things over the last couple of months that I would like to share. Things that are important to me to raise a kind, loving child while staying sane. My son thinks that I have superpowers because I am a mommy and daddy in one person. He is damn right.

Talk about things honestly and openly. Whenever it comes to big subjects, like divorce, race, sex, and death, I try to be a soft landing place for him, so he can feel like he can bring up anything that is on his mind. I found that bedtime is especially good for this because when it is dark and cozy, my son seems to feel more comfortable opening up.

I encourage him to help. I have to admit, one of my pet peeves is whenever I am at a party, and all the women jump up to clean the dishes after dinner and men just sit around, chill and don’t help. This drives me nuts. So, from a young age, I have asked my son to bring his dishes in the kitchen. I made sure to tell him that it is nobody’s job to clean up after him and that kids can also help; especially since it is mostly just the two of us. Dinner is special to us and we sit together, talk to each other (definitely no phone or gadgets at the table!) and share how our day was, how we feel/felt, what was the best or the worst of the day. When he is done eating, he asks if he can leave the table and takes his dishes to the kitchen. Then he goes off to play before we watch somethign together or I read to him.

Model empathy. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a (hard) battle!” Do you know that quote? Well, I install that concept in my son. The other day, for example, there was a woman at the register who was very grouchy to the customers for a while. Instead of telling my son that this is a rude person or that I don’t like her, I would say that she probably has a pretty rough week or maybe she is very tired. Then he sees her still as a complex human, who is probably very sweet underneath but maybe just needs compassion or a break. If someone never calls him, then this person is probably just very busy but not an asshole.

Accept him wholeheartedly. Whatever crazy idea he may come up with, I embrace it with open arms. My son has great imagination and when he wanted to wear his Halloween costume to school, it was fine with me. Vienna is not crazy about Halloween and Trick or Treating is not a thing, so we made it fun this way. I love seeing his personality develop and feel grateful to be his mom; even if some days are really challenging.

Teach him consent. It is important to teach him that he is in charge of his body and how to respect himself. If he wants privacy when getting dressed or taking a bath, I respect that. When he does not want to kiss someone goodbye, that is fine, too. If he does not want to hug or play with someone, it is his decision. I teach him that there are different ways to say no than just saying no. I teach him to notice social cues and people’s body language by for example telling that, “Her face looks upset. You have to stop this, please!”

Teach him modesty. I love a minimalist lifestyle so he sees what I purchase on a daily basis. He knows my emphasis is not clothes, shoes, makeup or any materialistic things but that I basically buy (healthy) food, books and spend my time outdoors (which is free), in museums, bookstores, at the local pool or a Yoga studio. He knows that our financial situation is not great these days and also why that is. Of course, he is a child and wants certain toys because all his friends have them and I understand that. I make sacrifices on other ends, to make it happen sometimes. He definitely does not like Meccano or Lego Tech because he is only six-years-old but someone very important in my life helped him build it.

Always read great books. I am a writer and my son knows that. He is proud that I published two books already and write and read all the time. You want to raise a reader, be a reader. Visit your local library. There are so many amazing children’s books; we are currently exploring all the bookstores in Vienna. My son loves it and gets lost in science, spooky, adventurous, funny and sometimes nerdy books. We have a rather big book collection at home and I think it is important to have this diverse group of books. Books are always a conversation starter and they keep his mind growing. Reading rituals don’t just happen at night either.

Single Parenting and I Have a Life, too.

Single-parenting: Being off duty feels awesome. When my son is in school (and currently I am not working), I choose to spend every moment discovering Vienna. It is so essential and important to have a healthy (work)/single-parenting balance. The hustle is fun sometimes but I also need to live my own life. So, I created space for myself and unapologetically celebrate this very concept. Do you want some inspiration on how I spend my days when I am “free” or off-duty?

Coffee, books, reading. Or, I will go to a museum and have a nice leisurely lunch alone or with a friend. I read or write at home or at my favorite bookstore/cafe/restaurant. I will go to the movies at 1 pm. The other day I saw “A rainy day in New York” by Woody Allen (whom I love), accompanied by a bag of salty popcorn. I like to do something nice for myself, like a massage, a session with a Reiki healer, swimming or a Yoga class. I will have some quiet time and do nothing but drink a cup of tea at home on the couch. Some days are all about recharging; I love to be at home. I like to sleep in on weekends. Grab brunch with a good friend, and hit some local vintage stores after. Sitting in the sun/walking around (even in the rain) followed by a trip to the farmers market to buy fresh vegetables and flowers. Or having dinner cooked by someone in my kitchen while I have a glass of wine and watch.

The next time you find yourself at a crossroads, try one of my single-parenting survival methods. There is no pressure in what we, as mothers, have to do. Just try to keep sane througout it all. Realizing this felt like such a relief.

.Running a Marathon through the Five Stages of Grief.

#RunSelfieRepeat

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.”– Joseph Campbell

The big New York Marathon is over and a good friend of mine ran and finished it. Years ago, my goal was to at least attempt it. Things changed when I ran my first full marathon in Berlin. I have never been super big into running but I did it because it made me feel good afterward. I thought, “I did something for myself!” There are times when I just plod along like a sad turtle but this is fine, too because I will get there, in the end.

When I joined the German Federal Police I thought it is a good idea to stop smoking (kinda was!), get in shape and start to train for a marathon. Initially, I trained on my own with a Runners World Book Guide. This all went pretty well and I thought I am ready for the marathon after my longest training-run of 17k. I signed up for the Berlin Marathon. Of course, I had a big breakfast before; an omelet just because. I was super excited. Months of training will pay off. I was all glucosed up and my mental game was on point.

www.comedycard.co.uk. This is pretty much how I looked; minus bicycle and helmet.

The big day arrived. I thought about ways to distract myself with my iPod (yes, this marathon was a while ago) and all the gadgets that nobody really needs. I wore extra layers of clothing because it could be cold. I took squeeze power gels and lotions and potions. With a water-bottle-belt and room for energy drinks, I started the 42.195 kilometers. In the beginning, everything was fine. I was super motivated. After about 17K (remember my longest training run?) I didn’t like running that much anymore. But hey, just a couple of kilometers left, I thought. Can’t be that bad. At around 27 kilometers in I started going through the Five Stages of Grief.

Stage 1: Denial. 27 kilometers in. When my world became meaningless and overwhelming. Life made no sense. I was in a state of shock and denial. I almost went numb. I wondered how I could go on if I can go on and why I should go on. I tried to find a way to simply go through this. I guess denial and shock helped me to cope and make the survival of this marathon possible. Isn’t there grace in denial? Isn’t it nature’s natural way of letting in only as much as I can handle? “I am becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade”, I said to myself as I ran on. As I proceeded, more feelings began to surface and I realized that I am talking to myself out loud. Then the cursing started.

Stage 2: Anger. 33 kilometers in. I have to confront my inner demons. I reminded myself: I hate this f**** marathon. Why is it that bad? On my iPod playing: The soundtrack of System of a Down masked my labor-breathing and tricked me into thinking that I can do this. I shouted: “If I’m in need of catharsis, I go for something that will make me Capital F “Feel” good, now “FUCK THIS SHIT”. I wore sunglasses which is always a f***** good idea, should an errant tear or sadness creep in. MY BATTERIES ARE EMPTY ALREADY? But music will get me through this.

The running troll.

Stage 3: Bargaining. 35 kilometers in. I ran along in a daze. Is there a way out of this? Can I pay someone to drag or carry me to the finish line? At this point, the cursing stopped for some time. My thoughts shifted: If there is one thing I hate more than running, it is racing. In bad racing, you do not aim to win. I set out my two goals: 1) Run; 2) Don’t die. When I run a race, I am given a number. I stared at mine and shook my head while I kept running. At this point, I felt like a horse, perhaps, or a very competitive salmon. I am one with the herd, a GPS dot, a mote of dust in the grand scheme of things. But I am a glorious mote. And that is everything. Did I hallucinate? I realized that I said all this out loud when I got passed by someone who was around 80 years old. Maybe it was a child, I didn’t have my damn glasses. It did not matter.

Stage 4: Depression. 37 kilometers in. I screamed again and cursed: “I am going to die. Why am I doing this? My thighs are raw and I think all of my toenails fell off. What else could possibly go f***** wrong? Oh, everything!” I hit rock bottom. I had never been so tired in my entire life. Even my teeth were tired. “STOP PASSING ME, YOU JERKS!” I am full of empty feelings and grief entered my life. I felt like crying. “I AM SO DONE WITH THIS! I WANT TO SNAP OUT OF THIS! I AM SOOOOOOO SAD! Everyone had to know this and be sad with me so I made sure I was extra loud expressing my anger. There was this 80-year-old someone again. He told me to remove all my gadgets and I will feel better. He added: “I regret to inform you that your petition to die has been denied. There is no such thing as a bad runner.” He seemed to know what he was talking about.

Stage 5: Acceptance. 40 kilometers in. Final stage. I told myself all the affirmations I know. I accepted the situation. Conversation with myself again: “Time to dig deep. Remember that runner who finished a marathon with a broken leg? Pffff, this is nothing. If he can do it, so can I. To finish this marathon is the goal. I will live with all these blisters, and pain in my body for another 2 kilometers. I changed, I grew, I evolved”. I threw away my iPod and all the spare batteries – just because. I felt light(er) instantly. I was okay with all this now while I shuffled along. There was a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. “Btw, where is everybody? Am I still on course? I guess it is just me and myself and the road”.

At some point, I stumbled across the finish line, where I had been decorated in a crinkly foil cape and a medal. I felt so awesome and strutted about (everyone always struts) even though I limped and felt like an aluminum-wrapped rotisserie chicken. Would I run a full marathon again? NEVER, half is okay, though. But looking back, I am pretty proud of myself. Also, nipple chafing is real. Use tape.

As Haruki Murakami puts it, “When running I don’t have to talk to anybody and I don’t have to listen to anybody… All I do is keep on running on my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing.”

Dedicated to K.L. “the truffle shuffle”.

.Password Invalid – A Conversation with my Computer.

I started all over again in a new city; in a new country. This also entails changing phone numbers, bank account, passwords and whatnot which is always very annoying. The other day, I tried to sign up with a government website in Vienna. This is what happened:

Thank you for creating your new online account! We are pleased you are with us. Please choose a password.

Password: lovemyson

Error: Password must contain at least nine alphanumeric characters, including one number

Password: Ilovemyson2

Error: Password must contain at least one hard-to-guess number

Password: Ilovemyson9

Error: Password already exists

Password: Ilovemyson88

Error: Number is inappropriate. [why not?, Ooooooh, 88, HH…. I am in Vienna]

Password: mysonmybestfriend1

Error: Password must be less sad

Password: mysonisagoodfriend1

Error: Capital letters required throughout password

Password: MySonIsaGoodFriend1

Error: Password must contain two numbers

Password: MySonIsaGoodFriend12

Error: Password is easy to guess

Password: IReallylikeSomeoneElseToo12

Error: Sounds great but maybe this is an unattainable fantasy if he does not know it

Password: ItoldhimandhefeelstheSameWay2

Error: Be careful and take things slow. You just got out of a huge mess! [ I guess the internetknows everything!?]

Password: HowCanItaketheRelationshipToTheNextLevel?!12

Error: Did he meet your parents? Did you meet his parents? Does your son like him?

Password: Hedidandtheylikehim!Mysonloveshimtoohecanlifthimupsidedown!12

Error: Enjoy time together. Here and Now.

Password: CanIUsethisasAPassword?12

Error: No. I want to know more about this new guy.

Password: JsusChrst666

Error: Password cannot take the Lord’s name in vain.

Password: ButIamanAtheist777

Error: That makes it worse!

Password: iH8You69

Error: Let’s not take this down that road

Password: HeIsSmartandHandsomeAndLetsMeBeMyselfHeAlsoMakesMeLaugh

Error: Does he give you a break from parenting?

Password: HeDoesanditFeelsGreatMySonActuallySaysThaTHeLovesHim<3

Error: Your son does not have a father figure in his life?

Password: HisFatherNeverCallsButHeLovesMyFriendWhoTalksandListensToHimMySonActuallyHoldsHisHand12!

Error: Why does his father act like this?

Password: IDoNotKnow!HeChoosesToBeThisWay!MaybeHeIsTooAfraidofWhatMayHappenIfheTalksToHisSonAndHowHeWould React

Error: That seems not very smart. Does his son miss him?

Password: HisSonHasEverythingHeNeedsAndDoesNotMissHimButAsksWhyHisFatherNeverCallsAndIfHisFatherLovesHim!IQ164

Error: Haha! Funny. Next you probably tell me that he tried to kill 15 people with his bare hands?

Password: HeActuallyToldMeThatStoryOnNovember1st2018ButThereIsNoEvidenceHowever!FilesHaveBeenDeletedHeSaid12?

Error: Oh wow. This is crazy. Is he at least paying child support?

Password: NopeHeIsNotButHeComesUpWithGreatExcuses!

Error: Wow. Why wouldn’t he pay for his own son and be responsible? When was the last time he saw/spoke to him? Also, I saw on LinkedIn that you currently don’t have a job.

Password: HeChoosesNotToPayHeSawHimLastinMay2018AndHasNotSpokenToHimSince!YesIdoNotHaveAJobYetButWillHaveOneInJanuary2020IDoNotHaveAnIncomeUntilThen12!

Error: Wow! What father does that? How do your son and you survive financially?

Password: IDoNotKnowWhyHeDoesIt!WeSurviveOnMyPensionAndHelpFromFamilyandFriends 12!

Error: Wow. I, as a Computer, am shocked and I am not supposed to have feelings. I have nothing to add at this point. You can choose any password you would like.

Password: JustPaytheChildSupportYouOweYourSon1!

Congratulations! Your password is set!

.Female/Male Friendships – Is that a Thing?

“As different as my friends may be, to me, friendship is to feel safe with someone.” – Amy Fuller

I had a conversation with a friend about relationships, marriages, and male/female friendships and if this is a thing because it is sort of one decidedly divided topics in our “this or that” society. Is trusting our significant other if they go out with a girlfriend/boyfriend the same as if someone says they don’t eat cake? Can we trust a person who doesn’t eat cake? Obviously, I am kidding about cake (I am really not, though), but it is always surprising to see the differences in opinions and mannerisms, especially when dealing with matters of gender. So, the question: Can men and women really just be friends? Is that a thing?

Usually, when popping a question like this, there are the emphatic yes’s, hard no’s, and bouts of yelling when the person is clearly upset. It is difficult to find someone who has never had romantic feelings for a friend, have had a friend have romantic feelings for them, or had a “just friends” relationship turned into an affair. Of course, this is not the case with every friendship. Realistically, there is no definite answer and saying this seems like taking the easy way out. Usually, asking any human if they think men and women can just be friends, their reaction will be based on their own experiences. My take on all this is that men and women can exist as platonic friends, but the key is that they both have to want it. They both have to respect perpetual boundaries and draw lines in the sand, as well as each others’ partners without crossing any emotional or physical intimacy lines. There has to be some sort of agreement I guess.

The issue is that sometimes the lines can cross. We are human and will never feel the exact same way about a person over time. Things change. Situations change. In my opinion, the longer a friendship lasts, the higher the chance those lines in the sand are wiped away. I believe with age our friendship circles begin to dwindle so that only the truly fortified relationships remain. And our friends are more trusted and highly regarded. With this trust, we are able to share more intimate knowledge without feeling as though a boundary has been crossed. As far as physical boundaries, there may be a higher chance of being crossed earlier on because in said “early friendship” you don’t have much to lose by going for it.

When you had a negative experience with men and women existing as friends, it will obviously always be difficult to form an unbiased opinion. To me, it is a “maybe” because character traits are never one-size-fits-all, and neither are friendships, no matter what they look like at the moment. What feels normal for A doesn’t necessarily feel normal for B.

To me, friendship always comes first and then a relationship may develop over time. To me, friendship is about making each other comfortable, protecting and celebrating each other. It means safety and ease and that at times I can feel like I/we don’t have to do anything. We can just make an event out of spending time together. Sitting in the kitchen talking, no pressure- just chilling and no fancy dinner involved.

This is what I desire in a friend/relationship:

Candour: Some of my friendships run pretty deep and I take them seriously. What I love about those small amount of friends, and how they differ from anybody else is how candid and raw I can be. There is no limit to what I talk about, or how much of myself I reveal.

Depth: There is a difference between a friendly conversation and a real conversation. For true friendship, people need to be current in my life. There are also there to champion me, to give advice and one of the greatest underpinnings of those friendships is that they want to see me succeed. Real friends simply should be interested in my life and what I am up to (maybe read my blog, talk about my books, etc. This is what I would do, too.)

Quality Time: With social media, it is easy to call someone my friend. I know that there is still nothing better than spending time with someone in real life. I honestly interact with all (92) my Facebook friends.

Trust/Listening/Sharing: A true friend is going to give me an honest opinion, and because I trust them, there is a certain level of comfort with that honesty. I am able to be myself and vulnerable and know they will be, too.

The real friends: I can meet those after even a long period of time has passed and we can pick up right where we left off. Those are probably the most important friendships I have because there is something between me and them that is strong enough to withstand the time or distance passed. I desire those friendships that see me through different phases in my life.

Seeing the person as they are: Friendship means providing support and love for who the person truly is and not who I think they are or I want them to be. Everyone has their flaws and I would rather see the them than an idealized version of me.

In the end, communication is key but the goal is to listen to yourself.

.The Honest Mom-Genre.

I love my kid so much, I watch her when she is taking a nap. I sneak up to her crib very quietly and observe her. It is the highlight of my day. Sometimes I am tempted to wake her up so I can play with her.” – a woman at the playground

When I heard that, I felt as if I was punched in the gut. I had never, in my few years as a parent, felt that way. I celebrated the time when my son took a nap after lunch. Did this woman have some kind of innate mothering instinct that I lacked?

“These days do you feeling lethargic. Are you getting frequent headaches and feel a loss of identity. Do you rarely if ever get time to yourself anymore? Well then, you might be suffering from PARENTING”. Don’t worry, there’s a cure. Although, I’m gonna be that mom for a second and say I can’t help but think how many more symptoms this video could list if it starred a woman.

It was early in the morning. Time to go to work and this is when (single-) parenting is pretty tough. My son was in a shitty mood, did not want to go to school, wanted to wear no shoes because it is cool, also no jacket and just had issues with everything. I got dressed in my bedroom and I said to myself: “I hate this!” I remember that day when I spoke to a mom at school drop-off and she told me, “I love my son. But parenting? Most of what it actually involves – I hate it.” I am glad I met her. We instantly hit it off and are still best friends. I thought I was a monster for thinking this way. But hey, there are other (most) moms out there who think exactly like that.

Parenting is simply something that many women struggle to enjoy, or at least find themselves loathing a decent percentage of the time. For me, the day-out vagaries of parenting are what is a hard pass. When I told some of the mom’s at my son’s school that I will write this article, I got a few raised eyebrows. Some perhaps reacted to the relative darkness of this topic but I rather would argue that those women are the born-moms and are willing to expose themselves to it all. Well, I am not.

Let’s be honest. Locking yourself in the bathroom helps sometimes but is not the solution either. Sometimes it is the sheer, repetitive monotony of parenting that makes me want to run away. Packing lunches, unpacking backpacks, washing out containers, cleaning a huge amount of clothes, making sure he brushes his teeth, and whatnot. Parenting is just this strange mix of predictability and unpredictability, and that drives me crazy sometimes.

As for myself, I am balancing making a career, making a living and caring for an almost six-year-old by myself. I also know that it is usually the women who bear the brunt of this balancing act. Some days, It is just a lot. For example, after-school activities: soccer, swimming, and guitar lessons have to be balanced. I am not the type of parent who buys into the idea that all these activities are vital for the development of my child but he loves it all so much, so I will take him. All this takes scheduling, time, staying there with him, filling out forms and paying for it all. I just need to make a bit of room for myself, too to stay sane.

The other brutal reality about children: A child exposes the gulf between my fantasy about family and the realities, where my old way of life can feel out of reach and my expectations are way different than reality. It feels to me like I have to choose between long-time satisfaction with moment-to-moment happiness (and spending my day doing stuff I don’t really like so I can make him happy; such as spending 5! hours at the playground). But I carve out time to do the things I love (writing, drinking coffee in peace, reading) but it is more of retrospective happiness – not one evidenced by how much I actually enjoy what I do from hour to hour.

But, what I also love is the bond between my son and I. I sometimes suck at making “pig-muffins” (apparently that is a thing in Vienna now) but I am great at talking to my son for hours, teaching and reading to him, creating things, art, music, exploring books, and puns and make it overall clear to him that I am always here for him, no matter what. I think it is normal to be annoyed by parenting and kid(s) at times. I remind myself that I am not in control of others – just myself. To create a smaller gap, it is important to embrace reality and try to feel how the kid(s) feel. Isn’t it all about the concept of being a good-enough parent because good-enough is great?

How do I deal with the single-parenting thing? Ideas to make things more pleasant is to outsource whatever you can, whenever you can, from finding other like-minded parents, grandparents, babysitters, friends so that you can have more time to do what you love. Whatever you need to do to recover. Just accept incongruity. There is this radical notion that two opposing ideas can coexist at the same time: You can love your kid(s) while simultaneously hating a lot of the day-to-day shit that mothering entails.

From mother to mother: Things that will keep you sane

  1. A trip away alone or with a partner. I needed some time to finally relax on the first time I left on a trip alone while my son stayed with my parents (always leave kids with people whom you trust) Initially, I was terrified and sad. Will he be fine? Maybe I should have taken him? At the airport, I bought a banana because he loves to eat those realizing I am only responsible for my own snacks. Wow, how surreal. I will have a glass of red wine and chocolate then. Flying or doing anything without kid(s) is basically a SPA. As soon as the plane landed, I felt happy and thrilled. I had the most relaxing time ever because I left my parenting-self behind.
  2. An evening out: Having time away from your children is essential. If I don’t work, I write, read, hang at my favorite bookstore, museums, explore….. alone time. You are not failing as a parent if and when you spend time alone. Establish a relationship with your child(ren) that works for you.
  3. Don’t feel guilty. You still have a life, too. A small one, but hey. I need to require space of my own for thinking, feeling, and feeling my center.
  4. I am generally a better and calmer person now that he spends his day in school. I am happy to see him growing into an independent individual, one who requires his own recharge time and enjoys quite building and art activities.
  5. Institute quiet time (for one hour). I scheduled a designated quiet time when I just need to be by myself at home and my son is in his room. This gives me a mental break. We actually even close the doors and each is in their room doing their own thing. I usually have a cup of tea and read a book.
  6. Find a mom who endless F-bombs and become best friends.

I think “The Honest Mom-Genre” will and should be a series. What do you think?

. Relationship 101 & Introducing Ronia Fraser.

Do you think our relationship works? Right here, right now? Do you think we are good for each other? Right here, right now?

How do you feel in the presence of your partner? Do you feel understood and respected? Do you feel secure? Are you laughing together? Can you be yourself no matter what? Do you feel comfortable and happy? Do you have hope that everything will be better someday? That your partner will change? Coulda, shoulda, woulda never works! It either is, or it is not.

Life is short. I believe we should be happy 98% of the time. I also believe that the deeper sense of a relationship is that both partners are good for and to each other and help in their personal development. A relationship that does not make you happy and rather mostly sad, should end – like right now. It either works or it does not. By taking a closer look at my (married) friends and relationships I have to say that most of the time, it does not work. Keep in mind that if it feels weird in the beginning, it will never work out. I believe a relationship works if you have similarities and the same interests such as humor, intelligence, same values and ideas, life circumstances and goals, personal maturity, sexuality and motives of a functioning relationship. Rule number 1: You cannot change your partner. You get what you see!

I don’t believe that opposites attract; this concept just works pretty well in movies. Both characters have to be compatible, understand each other and create intimacy. A relationship can only work if you find each other interesting when there is mutual respect and understanding. So, if you are lucky and find someone out there whose nature is (very) similar to yours (which is rare) you should go for it and give it a chance. Your souls can dance together in silence. No words needed.

I wrote a letter to someone very special who is in an abusive relationship but does not have the strength (yet) to get out on her own. It is so bad that she is not even allowed to leave the house without him.

Common sense taught me some life lessons that I want to share regarding toxic relationships. Just in case you don’t know when a relationship is toxic, I will give you some insight. A relationship is incompatible when there are constantly riddles and explanations. You like each other but both have completely different interests and desires and zero similar interests. You shouldn’t have to explain yourself or clarify things to your partner all the time. Things should be clear and make sense. No huge surprises.

Most importantly, soul connection is missing. You don’t understand him, he does not understand you. Connection on a deeper level takes time, friends. It usually does not happen at a bar after several drinks. After a while, we are facing reality in our new relationship. The first argument occurs because our partner does not see things the way we do.

If my partner would just see things the way I do, things would be perfect.

If both partners fight this fight, nobody will win. The next stage is that one partner loses respect for the other, and finally the joy and excitement of life. The crazy things is that both partners can still love each other throughout all this mess because love and compatibility are not the same. I believe every bad choice we made in selecting a partner is a good lesson. This way we learn, we start to listen to ourselves, we learn what our soul really needs and wants and what was missing. We learn that it is okay to feel good and that you have to find the courage to end a toxic relationship. Leave, learn and move on. It will be hard in the beginning but the future is bright.

“I don’t know if I am in a toxic relationship!”

Before you start a relationship with someone, you may want to clarify: What they think is important to them in a relationship. How they want/do not want this relationship to be (open, etc.). What do they want to share with you? How much alone-time do they need/do you need? Compromises and which ones? Conflicts and which ones? Traumatic relationship and childhood experiences? Do they love themselves? What causes issues/anger issues? What are the strengths/weaknesses? What does love mean to them? Just in case you don’t know: Whenever your partner hits you, it is not a healthy relationship! I am happiest in a relationship whenever I am understood and feel secure and safe. I want to laugh with my partner and have fun. I don’t want to be afraid of saying/wearing/doing something wrong.

Introducing Ronia Fraser

Are you interested in this topic and want to know more? Are you stuck? Are you in a toxic relationship? Do you need help with all this? Contact my friend Ronia Fraser if you are ready to recover the true you. She won’t help you get out of a toxic relationship but she will guide you to get a different perspective.

Ronia Fraser is an internationally certified and award-nominated Transformational & Recovery Coach, NLP Master Practitioner & Trainer, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Havening Techniques® Practitioner, specialized in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching (NARC) – based in London, UK, and Los Angeles, USA. More importantly, Ronia Fraser is a survivor of Narcissistic Abuse and draws not only from her professional expertise but from her first-hand personal experience. She offers personalized treatment, tailored to your individual circumstance and requirements, designed to help you stabilize your emotional wellbeing, remove triggers and identify and resolve long-standing unhealthy patterns and conditioning.

Ronia: “A toxic relationship goes much deeper than being incompatible and being on the same page. So does my work. I’m not helping people through their break up just because it didn’t work out and they guy turned out to be useless. It’s a whole different level. Actual toxic relationships consist of intentional manipulation, identity erosion, emotional blackmail, and calculated emotional and psychological abuse. Domestic violence. Financial abuse. Isolation. Gaslighting. Control and fear. Toxic relationships are based on codependency and addiction and lead to mental health issues. I’m not helping people through their break up just because it didn’t work out. I help them survive and put their lives back together”.

How to connect with Ronia Fraser:

Instagram. Website. LinkedIn. Facebook.

Ronia recently published a book “How to Heal from Narcissistic Abuse” and you can get it for free here.

Stay Happy. Stay Healthy.

.While She strolled Down the Path looking for Flowers.

“Does this all make sense,” I asked myself the other day. Why are certain things in life so complicated and take so much time? Is it a “patience-test”? I cannot say I have always done the most sensible thing, made the safest choices or kept quiet until I was sure of what I had to say. However, usually, I am very German when it comes to those things. I prefer Pro and Con lists and to write things down, mentally or on paper, before I speak them out loud. I am the unwitting architect of my life and these days I build it like a swaddle, some sort of blanket wound firmly around the decisions I have made. A perfect mold for the person I thought I would always be. For myself and my son. I build this protection to hold me still, to keep my feet planted exactly where I am. I build it to weather change, to withstand all the external uncertainties that might seep through and drown my sense of stability and certainty.

I am strong. I got this. That is why I never expected a leak to come from the inside. It caught me by surprise. Suddenly, the other day, I found myself underwater. Thrown in a new situation where things seem more complicated than I anticipated and expected. Everything that seemed nice and colorful now looks blurry, like if I am missing something even though I haven’t lost anything. Like I need something even though I have everything I need like no one “gets” me even though I am surrounded by people who know me. A lot has changed recently and I have to adjust and so does my son. Things go smoothly but the next day they don’t. I feel I am different and new pieces of the puzzle have started to crystallize. I am also reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Not an easy read I have to admit but mindblowing.

I have also experienced this frustration that certain people do not listen to what I have to say, do not want to understand and make things very complicated. They don’t ask the questions necessary and won’t help me in a seemingly never-ending process. It occurred to me that I was the one who had fanned out the clues to a new self, only to hold them against my chest again like a cryptic deck of cards. I have this urgency to put words to it all here but it is all stuck like a lozenge in my throat even though I desperately need air to breathe.

I guess we repeat stories about ourselves to make sense of our wolds. The stories I have told myself so far is, that I am a good person. I do the right things for my son and I. I do take risks (a pretty high risk moving to Vienna), I am a good daughter, an uncomplicated girlfriend, I am overall a happy person but these days the shape of my future is not obvious and not in my hand. And I hate this. I sound strangely discordant now, as if out of tune with my current self. I want to feel understood. I want decisions to be made. I want security and safety in my life but I have built this new situation (or fort) to hold me still. And my son. To face what will happen next. And to give him security; the security he needs.

My mind clamours to dismiss the suspicion. We most likely won’t have health insurance by the end of the month which is a scary thought or is it nothing more than a passing whiff of the classic late-thirty identity crisis trope? However, it is not just about me alone anymore. There is this little guy who keeps following me around for the past six years. There are days when I duck my head and cover my ears and wait for it to blow over so I can wrap myself back inside the life that used to fit me so comfortably. That would certainly be easier, but my body slowly knows the truth, pricking tears into the corner of my eyes whenever another curveball hits me. Some days I spike with adrenaline every time I probe a little further while vibrating with an unbearable hunger to have someone hold my deck of cards in their hands and nod, gently, in recognition. Someone who takes this ship safely to the next harbor.

I always keep things together while asking myself how sometimes. I built this new life for us to keep my feet planted exactly where I am. My new fort is solid, holds me still and makes this new life seem strong even though there are tiny cracks in the wall. And yet, as uncertain and confusing as it all seems, as disorienting as it feels, a curious thrill pulses in my chest. With a thud, it tells me I cannot unknow what I know now. I cannot change people and how they act. But I can give myself permission to chase growth and stability. “Everything will be fine”, I told my son while we strolled down the path looking for flowers.

.Vienna or does where I live define Me?

So far, Vienna is awesome and this city is everything I always dreamed of. Art, entertainment, peace, quiet, culture, books, readings and all for a reasonable price. Vienna has me covered. Also, as a Ph.D. student, I have a student ID. Someone asked me the other day if the area, city or place someone lives in is an indicator of the person’s success. More specifically: Does someone choose to sit in their backyard on a farm on a warm fall day in *insert rural area* doing nothing because they are in peace with themselves and feel fine just sitting with their thoughts, or does one sit in their backyard because they don’t have the capability, motivation or are afraid to live in a different place, to go places, to see other things, to explore and discover? “How did you just leave this small town and move to another country or even a bigger city,” a friend asked me.

I have to back up a tiny bit. I love peace and quiet and rural lifestyle. This is how I grew up. But I also love the thought of being able to go out and have opportunities. I moved from Coburg to Munich, from Munich to New York, from New York to Canada and from Canada to Vienna. I grew up in a place where there were porches aplenty. A few months after I turned 17, I left my hometown Coburg chasing my own version of success. At that time, success meant to me passing Police Academy to become a Police Officer. I had an awesome job and made Big City. I felt successful and fulfilled. And I lived in a big(ger) city. My dream.

The closer I get to 40, the more curious I am about the way people in my life mark their own successes. Take most of my friends, who remained in my hometown while I loved being away in my teens and eventually racing after various career milestones at the United Nations in New York. One of my friends back home has two children and lives in this awesome farm house which has a porch for sitting. It would be impossible to say which of us is more successful because it is simply not objective. We have both put tons of work into making our respective dreams come to fruition. Despite our polar-opposite journeys, we are both motivated, busy, and capable because whether you choose to live in a big city or rural areas, there is always the potential for reward. That is important to remember. Let me tell you, your life is not bad just because you chose to stay in that town to build a life for yourself and your family. If it works for you, then that is fine. It didn’t work for me, so I left. Simple as that.

In the past, I have wished some of my friends and I shared similar paths so we could have grown in the same direction and swapped advice along the way, but now I find solace in our differences. But all this ensures me that we are living our lives as intended. To look around, to realize and acknowledge that everyone can find success, regarding the size of their goals or where they live is key. Thinking this way can be incredibly reassuring because it means your motivations are yours and yours alone. Meditating on a porch and living in Midtown Vienna are two extremes of what it could mean to succeed. Ask yourself if you are happy where you are, right here, right now and what you really crave. Some of my friends back home seem like they are grappling two things right now: What it means to be successful (and work yourself to death) and where they want to live. I think it will be difficult for anyone to parse either until they reconfigure their definition of success into something more personal. Working my ass off somewhere versus slaughtering a pig in a little village are two commercial extremes of what it could mean to succeed. Until you establish your own definition, I think these will continue to feel inadequate to you. What does success mean to you? What do you really want? You are never stuck.

So, what do you want? Move to Vienna, too? Come and visit me. More specifically, what do you want right now? Look at your life; really examine it. Are you happy? Are you alone or with family? Are you stuck at work? Are you bored? Are you calm? Are you exhausted? Are you one step away from burnout or nuclear meltdown? Is the reality of this life crisp in your mind or more like a scene out of a sad movie? Do you want art, culture, artistical intercourse, Opera, entertainment, excitement? If you are finding it hard to answer these questions, I suggest you start to write or journal. It helped me immensely to list everything I want, then circle the things I desired the soonest. Then look at these words and link them together, considering the resources you will need to achieve some measure of them. Get literal: Are your goals related to a specific industry/company that operates out of a certain city? And if so, does that city conflict with any of your other goals? How do you feel? Have you felt any of these things before, and if so, how? My lists usually never go according to plan, but asking myself these questions helped me tap into my own desires, instead of looking to everyone else’s. Keep in mind that you can be successful and valid and fulfilled without ever leaving the country, state, or town you were born in.

These days, what does it mean if I woke up and craved the pace of my hometown? I would buy a train ticket and be home in four hours. Would I judge myself for returning to the place I was once so desperate to leave? No way. This is and always will be my Homebase. Where we live(d) and grew up is a large part of our identities, unpacking our thoughts about where we call home will always be a complex and deeply personal process. Am I successful? Is my life perfect? Nope. Far from it these days.

Sometimes, for some people, their most potent version of fulfillment cannot happen without a drastic life change. If you have those feelings, it is a matter of assessing how hard you want to work to make it happen, and sometimes, making peace with the fact that your other goals (porch/terrasse-sitting) might just have to wait a little. Listen to your gut and heart. Those organs will will tell you.

.On Life changes.

It has been years since I left my previous job, moved to Canada, decided to study and to raise my son. I wrote a lot about all these transitions that were sometimes rather tough than easy while encouraging others to follow suit. I don’t want to give advice, because I don’t know what I am doing 100%. I simply let you know what worked for me and what I learned from certain situations and hard curveballs life threw at me. All these things I did made total sense to me at the time. I followed my dreams and there is nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes I didn’t think things through all the way and then spent months pondering about why I did it. Was it a calling? Am I easily convincible? Was it the proverbial greener grass? Maybe I was too young? In hindsight, it does not matter. I finally mustered up the courage to do it and felt the wind in my hair and the swoop in my stomach which was my reality – this is where I needed to be. As I now skip through the streets of Vienna, while a bit of fear and thrill radiating off my skin, I felt like the leaping proof of a concept and I want others to feel it, too. Do what feels good. Go for it. I can see now that, beyond feeling fulfilled by my new life, I felt validated for my years of wanting exactly this life. It wasn’t until recently that I started pondering the difference. How would I have felt had it all gone wrong?

Every so often, the details of the last couple of months pass through me like a ghost. The beam of sunlight that settles in my heart when thinking about the good times while missing someone very special. The last hug, the warmth. The meditative train ride back “home” leaving a warm, familiar smell of my childhood home, back with my parents. How could it be that, although everything has changed, my mood is still the same? As the days move on since I left and stretch into the weekend, my perception of it all is still evolving. Why did I leave, really? What exactly did I leave behind? Was leaving brave? Fearful? Did it make sense? Honorable? Arbitrary? Should I have stayed? I may have followed my dreams and happiness, but I left another kind of dream, too. Maybe dreams can be vast and fickle like that. Maybe I can be, too. Maybe my dream back home will continue.

When I arrived in Germany this summer, it occurred to me that, despite uprooting my life in pursuit of more and finding it, too, I am not sure the emotional tenor of my life has changed all that much. These days, hard days and incredible days still punctuated the ones that transpire as expected; eagerness and trepidation still inform my perception of the future. Moments of insanity and insecurity still mix with feelings of self-assuredness. In a psychology magazine, I recently read the term “hedonic treadmill” which is coined by two psychologists in the 70s and refers to “the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.” In short, we adapt, regardless of the circumstances. Some research theorizes that our neurochemical processes actually prevent us from experiencing sustained positive or negative emotions at all. So, you can hide, stay, run, leap, cry, but you will still just be you.

My question then is: If not sustained happiness, what are all of us actually pursuing? Also, what is happiness but this is a different essay. If the details of our lives can drastically change without changing us, how do we identify what we truly want? All this lends new depth to an expression I love: Wherever you go, there you are. You can hide, stay, run, leap, cry, but you will still just be you: stupid jokes, worrying, impatience and all.

We know that our society idolizes the hustle for money, recognition, fame, dreams, wellness, and whatnot but we also have evidence in spades that none of these things in excess solve the happiness equation, right? The ones who seemingly have it all still fuck up, oversleep, cheat, get divorced, use drugs, relapse, are insecure while trying to mask it with expensive clothes and tons of makeup, feel lost, and choose wrong while acting cranky and bitchy. All this is just part of human existence. Many amass wealth and recognition because of capitalist ideas that are sold to them about the value of risking everything and going after what they really want. I don’t regret for one second that I followed my dreams and I have gratitude for the version of me that is not afraid to take a leap. I am also privileged that I had the resources to seek out a sense of fulfillment and purpose and of course the luck to find it all. At the same time, I am increasingly aware that there was plenty about my life before this step that made me feel grateful, too. People I met, the connections I made and of course my family who is always behind me. I know I could have found a sense of fulfillment and purpose in Germany, too. Just another kind. But I know that I will be connected with the people who matter no matter what. So, you want advice about leaving cities, careers, or relationships that don’t feel right? Simply listen to your gut feelings and become more open to the idea that conception can shift without seismic uprooting. That big life changes don’t always change us, and that more than anything else, we will always be ourselves. I think it is worth asking yourself: What makes you happiest as you are now? Because no matter where you go, that will most likely never change. Home is where your heart is anyway.