Are you you ? Diving deep.

This is a question I would love to discuss with my friend Patrick Aigner from Sunnyside Café in Coburg. Check this place out whenever you are in Coburg/Germany –  it is magically special. As a book lover I think it is great that you are able to order your books through them (Amina & Patrick) at the café or on their website. Good coffee, cake, choices of breakfasts or snacks, and an awesome selection of books (from spiritual to Bukowski and back to spiritual) and simply a place to rest, think and stay awhile.

So, I walked the streets of Paris the night before my birthday and saw this sticker at one of the poles on the street. “Are you you?” I had to stop and take a picture while wondering who I really am and why I am born in this place and time and not another. Why not 400 years ago or even 500 years in the future? Maybe there is the possibility that I would not have been born at all? Do you think these questions make sense?

These questions are just big to me because it  addresses a fundamental aspect of being and so much more. So who am I really? Am I really one person? Maybe we are are all just characters (well, some of us are for sure!) in a novel or some story written down somewhere. Or we are just part of a dream or movie? How do we know all this around us is really there? Or why are we this particular person instead of another?

I personally think that these questions make a lot of sense and I have my own thoughts and ideas on all this. I think it all depends on how you describe “you”. I think you can be your story, your memories or your body. Then it is pretty clear. Then you are not someone else because nobody else is connected physically to your brain. The other take is the philosophical one when you think of “you” as the consciousness. Then you can say that you are you I believe. That you are unique sort of because you think. (“And therefore you are” – René Descartes)

I believe that there is just no way to be 100% sure that I am who I am. Simply because there is no way to tell if I am born only in this place and time. There is just no proof that I have not lived at any other point.  Isn’t it simply a miracle that one single tiny sperm is the fastest and creates life? Like WHY this one? Why am I me? Or why is my son my son? It could easily be that another sperm would have won this race to reach the egg no? Is it all meaningless? Is this just life?

Or is it possible that two or even more people have the same consciousness but we do not know it because we are not connected?

Philosophy Tuesday I guess 😀

Let me know your thoughts!

 

How to: Blueberries, Spinach and lots of cheese on a Sandwich? Yes!

This sandwich was just a creation of things I had left in my refrigerator and some of it was about to turn bad. Also it includes everything I love to eat! Especially blueberries!  It is comforting (yes to cheese!!) and has this nice flavor to it. So stop counting the calories and add some more cheese will you? Plus it is quick to make!

Here is the recipe: 

Baguette (slice in half)

Cheese, a lot! (I used Gruyère and Goat cheese)

Fresh arugula or spinach

1 cup of fresh blueberries (or even more. Can be used as jam for the next couple of days while you keep it in the fridge)

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

2 tbs sugar

 

How to: 

  • Take a small saucepan and combine blueberries, vinegar and sugar and cook on medium heat. It just needs a slow boil. Mix it all up in saucepan. Let it slowly  boil for 5 minutes. Done!

 

  • Now spread blueberries onto the sliced baguette, add cheese, then the spinach or arugula and then of course more cheese!! Add some pepper and then top with other slice of bread and put it all in a grill. (I used a panini maker)

Enjoy!

The Book Review: “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” –  E.L. Doctorow

I love to write. English is not my first language but reading a lot and consistently improving by writing a lot is a good training. I have read that “Bird by Bird” is just an awesome book for any writer to get new ideas and inspirations so I purchases it and read it in one sitting.

I was always into writing. As a child I had a diary and wrote something in it daily. I also loved writing assignment and research papers in college. Writing in English however is challenging for me. In my working life I was able for a while to write, analyze and assess but I could not really live out what writing ability I may possess. At some point I thought it give it a try with my own blog. I love to read other blogs and follow some on a daily basis but I thought I could never start my own. Then again, why not? I love to read so I can definitely write a review about any book.  Who else than Anne Lamott can describe and advice how to go about the whole business of writing? I have read many other books on writing but none of them left this deep feeling of “yes, I can do this!” 

I connect with any book I read. Some great books I cannot appreciate however because of where I am in life at that moment but when I read them again under different circumstances it changes my entire take on the book. Do you have this feeling sometimes? I just want to kick my writing up a notch and Lamott helped me just getting more confident. “Bird by Bird” is just full of wisdom if you want to start writing but are afraid of having no ideas or if you are just uncomfortable. She describes and offers advice in a very funny way which I love. She tells you what to do if you are stuck (writers block). Lamott also states that almost all good writers started out terribly. Sometimes I thought that a writer just sits down and types along until the book is done. Of course they all have drafts that they rewrite the next day because it simply sucks. Lamott gives writing lessons as well and this book is basically what she teaches in her class.

She offers a plethora of tips and ideas if you just want to write more generically or don’t want to start out with a novel.  You get a great idea on structure of writing and to simply keep your readers interested and entertained.

Lamott describes how difficult and painful writing really is. It is a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong but it is hard. Especially if you doubt that your stuff you put out there is good. She is a great teacher who lets you know that with a lot of discipline you can do it if your true passion is writing. The book is a pleasure to read if you are feeling depressed or down (about writing.)

Enjoy!

 

On Missing my Family

“Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I miss you until we meet again.” – Jean-Joseph Henry [my husband says this all the time so it is kind of his quote]

I think it is normal to be homesick. Especially if your family is as awesome as mine and you have been away for quite some time now.  Here in the U.S. anything that reminds me of home triggers a little flash of homesickness. Yesterday I got some errands done with my son and we drove by a huge billboard that invited to the annual Oktoberfest here in Connecticut. Instantly I felt a little sad thinking about my family, the food, the people, the real Oktoberfest in Munich that starts soon. I was so fortunate to have spent a huge amount of time in Germany when my son was a baby and I can say that it was one of the best experiences I have had. Having been away for almost ten years and only visiting my family once or twice a year (and I consider myself very lucky on that one as well) it was great to actually live there again. To be back there and be able to enjoy all the goods and bads. This feeling of joy and comfort being around my entire family was the best.  To see all my good friends again after all this time was great too. (Hello Judith and Kirsten!) It is so much better to meet in real life even though we all have been in touch via Facebook, email and many other tools but you know what I am trying to say here. There is nothing like hugging an old friend at the Christmas Market in Coburg and crying your eyes out. 😀 Classic! In this world where everything is just so fast-paced you isolate yourself very quickly and end up losing touch to certain people if you do not work on it.

When it was time to say goodbye to my parents on July 10th I was overcome with this huge feeling of sadness. The way we said goodbye was different this time. Not like “Valley of Tears” (Frankfurt Airport) kind of crazy. It was calmer but made my heart hurt all the same. It is natural that we get older and everybody needs to go on their separate paths at some point. I cannot live with my parents for the rest of my life. I had to leave my “home-base” behind. So it is all back to good old Skype and FaceTime and tons of phone calls because I love to stay informed and connected to them and like to hear about their life, their stories, especially any major changes they go through.

This is life. We all make decisions to move in another direction – sometimes even drastically when I moved to New York. I am happy however that my family always supported me and helped me out when I needed them the most. I also know that no matter what happens, my family will always be there for me.

It does not matter where you go in the world as long as you are happy and you love the people you are with. Home is where your heart is, right? It sounds cheesy when I say I go wherever my husband goes but it is true. We will be going to Congo next and I think about it as a great opportunity as well to explore and learn new things. Has it all been worth it? Of course! Has it all been easy? Of course not! But life is not easy, especially if you think you have it all figured out and you found yourself a little routine then life throws you another curveball.

So how do I deal with my homesickness? Well, I consider myself really lucky to have my family in Germany, all alive and healthy. I can talk to them, see them and be with them. They are basically one plane ride away and I have to keep this in mind. I appreciate that I can travel and discover so many things here. And I always have to keep in mind that I chose to leave. The good part about traveling the world is to see and explore and to sort of let go of the past. When I get really really homesick I call my mom. I call her at least once a week (or emails, Skype messages etc.) and this way it is all good. I am up to date on everything, I love talking to her and we usually talk for three hours. Hab dich lieb Mama! <3  She could send me some of her world-best chicken noodle soups once in a while though. <3

You never know where life will take you. If you have been reading my blog from the beginning you know I am the perfect example. It is important to make the right choices for ourselves and go with the flow. To see things in a positive perspective and just don’t be afraid of change. You might miss out on some awesome experiences.

 

 

Five Things.

This heat in Connecticut these past couple of days was just insane. I don’t like it at all – constantly sweating and this humidity that does not let one breathe. I am exited for the change of season, fall, cooler weather, Halloween all this good stuff. I will miss the long hot summer days of course when it gets really cold but hey… these days were just insane and not comfortable anymore. This summer was definitely one for the books! We have been traveling since July 11th to Martinique/France, the U.S. and Canada. But as I said, it is time for a change. Change is good, wanted  and needed.

Here are some things we currently love:

  • What we drink: Well, being married to a Frenchi this is usually easy – Red Wine. I am totally into Médoc these days. Then again, gallons of water with lemon and cucumber. For my son: Water mixed with apple juice – his all-time favorite!
  • Working out and practicing : Me:  yoga and meditation every morning after I wake up.No excuses! And consistently practicing how to improve my writing. My son: Practices Yoga with me. So cute. He tries.
  • What we eat:  Me: Salads and healthy vegetable stuff; usually Tomato and mozzarella salad whenever  it is so hot outside. My son: Anything pasta or rice – mostly plain – he does not want anything added. (WTH?) Then again, I made my own pasta the other day which turned out great and we enjoyed it with Gruyère on top. So simple, so good!  [I will share the recipe soon]
  • Traveling/Thinking: A big dream came true. We finally bought land in Canada so I am looking forward to starting the projects there as soon as possible. Also, I am excited about the ton of traveling and writing about it all I will be doing. Canada, Congo… our journey continuous….

Have a great weekend.

 

The Book Review: “Where the Wild Things are” by Maurice Sendak.

“Then from far away across the world he smelled good things to eat, so he gave up being king of the wild things.”  – Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are [“Wo die Wilden Kerle wohnen” – the German translation of the book] 

I heard about this book a long time ago, however I did purchase it at STRAND Bookstore for my son two weeks ago. And of course a little bit for myself as well. This book is just awesome. The illustrations and drawings entwined with the story is just really well done by Sendak. I want to share the story here and why I love it.

Max is the main character and he just loves to scare things by putting on his wolf suit. His mother calls him “Wild Thing” and one night just sends him to bed without dinner. That night (is he dreaming or not) a huge forest begins to grow in Max’s room and ocean built up to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king and then the craziness. As soon as he sent the monsters to bed and everything is quiet he is feeling so lonely that he decides and realizes that it is time to sail home to the place where someone loves him no matter what.

Now Max gets hungry and goes back home where his mother had left his food still warm for him. First I thought, “Okay, leave the supper out for me before  my room is becoming a freaking forest inhabited by monsters and then put me to bed”. What do you think I am gonna do that night? Sleep? Nope! All I would do is hide under the bed with a knife, my husband’s flashlight and simply just hoping that if THIS is the night it all goes terribly wrong I have the courage to look all these monsters directly in the eye and not peeing myself. Any other kid would probably made a nest in his bed or a fort protected by a teddy bear and some pillows and did not sleep but stayed quiet until the next morning. But not Max.

This is the story I read to my son last night and I think it is just awesome. Hands down! It feels like reading through intimidation and fear. Sendak’s message that even if you misbehave sometimes, there will be dinner waiting on the table is just great. Interpretations of unconditional love as well as that it is just not that good to be a king who has all the power over these wild creatures is my take on the story. And in the end Max still misses his home. Simply a subversive masterpiece.

And while doing a little more research I found this! However, this movie is a lot  different than the book with so much more story added.  Enjoy!

 

On doing the single parenting thing for a while

The last couple of days were just crazy. I knew my husband is about to leave and everything was just crammed into each hour of the day. Now he left and I am alone with my son trying to get everything done and still grow and to watch everything else around me grow and picturing the future. I found it hard the first day to find a sense of accomplishment of some sort. It seemed to me like if all this waiting for my husband to return or trying to fill this time with productive things is turning the day into a blur and these blurry days keep flying by. Well, things changed by now.

It is September now. The “ber” months started which is usually an indication for me that winter is not that far away. September is usually the most beautiful month in New York City so we will definitely be all around town next week for sure to enjoy it. [Kind of like trying to make the best out of every situation in life]

All my friends who’s husbands serve on a mission somewhere told me that single parenting is hell. “You are alone all day long and the worst is if you do not have family around to support you”. I think it is okay to put my life on hold of some sort and just be there for my son in this situation. I also have been told me that my days would be “chaotic, that I cannot event take a shower in the morning and that I should cherish every moment in solitude”. To clarify things: I am fine. We are fine. Motherhood is a challenge but my son is just so awesome. Since my husband left it seems like he is the boss in this house without being annoying. He is so easy to handle. Easier than before because I am the only person around to guide and teach him.  The days go by so smoothly and I love it. I cherish every moment with him these days – I enjoy it because I know it all goes by so fast. We are like best buddies of some sort.

I take him to the park or to the community garden next door and we go for walks. Library, book stores… it is all good. It is just amazing how easy things are if you just have a positive attitude and a loving partner even far away.  But we know he is HERE so it is all good. People usually warn you about the bad but forget to tell you about the good.

I keep in mind that I have been born to move mountains. As it always has done – everything in my life will fall into its place. I will find my balance. We will find our balance and these fall months that I am alone now with the leaves (and feathers) changing I know this all will be remembered as a great challenge that this family of mine overcame.

I found a Dr. Seuss book in my son’s little book collection last night. This quote was the last thing I read to him before he fell asleep peacefully, curled up with his teddy.

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

How to: Salmon, Spinach and poached eggs for brunch

I made this brunch for my husband and I a couple of days ago and it was really awesome. It is pretty healthy and quick to make and put together. The best part about it is it kept us fueled until late in the afternoon which is great.

Preparation time: 2 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

15 ounce salmon filet already seasoned (I bought the Salmon at Trader Joe’s which is where I buy fruit, veggies and bread if I am not at Wholefoods) – [You can take the girl out of Germany but you cannot take Germany out of the girl]

1 onion

4 teaspoon dried or fresh parsley

4 large handful of fresh spinach (or frozen)

4 eggs –  one for me, three for him 🙂

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper and fresh garlic to taste

How to:

Put some oil in the pan and let the salon filet steam slowly on medium heat for 10 minutes or so. Then turn salmon to the other side and let again steam for 10 minutes until cooked all the way through.

Cut the onion in small pieces and heat up in oil until onion turns slightly brown. Then add spinach. I only had frozen spinach at home for my recipe which turned out great. Just add salt, pepper and garlic to it. Also a bit of milk to make it creamier. Cook on medium heat.

While all this is cooking prepare the eggs. Have you ever poached an egg? Well for this recipe it was my first try and they turned out great. All you need to do is to fill a saucepan with water and add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Heat water until it begins to simmer. Now stir the water so a whirlpool starts to form, and crack the egg into the middle. The water movement will cause the egg to wrap into a ball. Leave the egg in the water until the white has cooked fully. This usually takes around 2-3 minutes, however if you like the yolk not that runny leave it in slightly longer.

Now place everything nicely on the plate. I put the salmon at the bottom; put the spinach on and the poached egg on top.

Enjoy.

On Why reading to your child is important

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

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I wrote an article on reading where I described my son’s favorite book and my passion for reading to him. Also how I want to get my son interested in books. I do order books constantly when I am not in a bookstore to browse which is actually one of my favorite things to do. I ordered some books for my son but somehow they have gotten lost and mixed up. A few weeks ago a package arrived out of the blue in my mailbox. This is why I love to order online. Every time you receive a package it seems like a gift to yourself from yourself! Awesomeness!

So I unwrapped the envelope of my lost order and out fell The story of Babar”. Instantly a thousand memories flooded back into me when I saw this book that I actually did not have ordered but was so happy to have received. I remembered the entire story almost by heart having read it so many times to my sister and brother when they were kids. And my mom read it to me almost every single day when I was tiny. I remember Babar was our friend. My siblings and I used to love this story so much. Babar was definitely our friend way back then maybe because the story was just so sad and we wanted Babar to feel better. If you haven’t read the story yet (and I recommend you do) here is a little insight. Babar’s elephant mother is killed and he is chased by hunters and escapes to a foreign world of the city. He returns to his community and finally becomes king of the elephants. Enough, this is not supposed to be a book review! 🙂

When this book arrived the other day I just realized again how important children’s books really are. And how important it is to read to your children. I forgot about this book I have to admit after all these years. But it finally arrived here. Back with me. I was so happy – all these dreams, love and forgotten memories came back up. Having been through so much reading I know how a single book can make you happy. How a single book can guide you and simply this magic that comes for a fairytale like this can inspire. So I want my son to know this as well. I want to help him to find the pages and words that he needs to make sense of this beautiful world – the same chance I had in life.

I will read Babar to my son when he is ready. These days we are more into “Where the wild things are” by Maurice Sendak and “The very hungry caterpillar” and a plethora of Pixi “Connie” booklets in German.

Connie

Since my second address is either Barnes and Noble or The Strand Bookstore my son’s address is the same. Our next goal is; besides discovering our neighborhood,  to go to the Public Library. Reading fairytales to my son will help him make sense of this big world outside – just in time. And of course I am proud and honored to be his mother who is reading to him all these great stories  while he listens in wonder.