No one is fine

I’d like to invite you to take a break and sit back for a moment. And listen.

As I did a short while ago when I realized that, somehow, the things I once used to love had lost their appeal to me and that life, in general, had lost its spark. What was happening?

All I had done the weeks and months previously was work hard, invest all my energy in my job, driven by the constant urge to become better or, actually, perfect. Because nothing less than perfect felt like deserving to be there. Which, looking at it now, seems to be the perfect way of making myself feel like a complete failure. Like I can never be good enough. Like, I suck.

When hitting rock bottom like that, surprised by the intense emotions I was facing, it began dawning on me that this state wasn’t actually just tied to my current work situation or anything that had gone wrong there. Being completely honest to myself I kind of knew that these negative feelings had always been there, that I had been carrying them with me like a default backpack I had got so used to that, most of the time, I wasn’t aware of it anymore.

 

Take the time to peel a few layers*

But I still wake up shaken by dreams
And I hate to say it but the way it seems
Is that no one is fine
Take the time to peel a few layers
And you will find
True sadness*

And I don’t seem to be the only person experiencing this. I might be overgeneralizing here. Still, looking around me and talking to other people I got the impression that everybody seemed to be carrying a similar burden of guilt, self-doubt or remorse with them. What I found was that, in fact, “no one is fine”*. And almost everybody I talked to seemed to be hurting deep down inside.

I am a great fan of introspection. In fact, my best friend has told me several times that she thinks I’m overdoing it. Maybe she is right. And still, I believe in the healing power of listening to the voices inside ourselves and learning from them. It has benefitted me more than just once.

So this is what I did. I sat down and peeled a few layers. And there I found it: true sadness. Over the idea that I might not be enough. That I don’t deserve to be loved. That I will never make it. And like a forsaken child I sat there with these feelings just washing over me.
I don’t know if you believe in the idea of the inner child. To me, it makes perfect sense. And so I started to recognize these emotions as reminders from past times and situations I had long forgotten and which had left a mark that is still hurting. My inner child crying out. But why does it still have to hurt? And how are we to heal this pain?

I still don’t really know what to do with this sadness that likes to pop up time and again. All I know is that if we do not face or at least acknowledge what is going on inside of us we end up stuck at a certain point, sometimes without even knowing what stops us.

And couldn’t these very feelings, or the inner child crying out, be signposts pointing to parts of ourselves we have been neglecting or turned a blind eye to?

I for my part am glad that my sadness has revealed its true face to me. And who knows, maybe, together, we can end up finding true happiness one day…


*Quotes taken from the song "True sadness" by The Avett Brothers
Image Unfair by Runar Pedersen Holkestad CC BY 2.0

 

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Let it be your fantasy

I’ve been nothing but a puppets hand
But nothing ever comes
Without a change*

 

I have a new alarm sound.

And a new life.

Meanwhile I am celebrating my first month in my new position as a freelancer.

And guess what: I survived! And much better than my fears would have let me believe in the beginning.

Truth be told, the first weeks were a mess. There was such a lot to do, organize, and, above all, to be learned that, more than once, I felt like just breaking down under the weight of it all and giving up.

There were moments when I seriously questioned the decision I had made and started doubting everything. And yet, there I was, without any safety net. And: absolutely free.

Time for some motivation, I thought.

Which I found in that song by Grouplove.

I have set it as my alarm which now wakes me up every morning. And the effects are amazing. Once my alarm goes off my spirit is being kindled immediately and I can’t but get into a good mood.

Been wondering, I take a chance
That chance is circumstance
Cause nothing ever comes without a change*

The song keeps reminding me of something I had almost forgotten amidst all the stress and pressure: that if I want my life to change, change is what I have to do. And that taking a step without knowing exactly where it will lead might in fact yield wonderful results.

And also that, by means of my thoughts, I am the creator of my own life.

So I might as well create it according to my dreams. And make it my fantasy.

Welcome to your, welcome to your
Welcome to your world, my girl
Let it be your fantasy, oh yeah
Welcome to your life, yeah, yeahA
It could be a fantasy, oh yeah.*

Which life are you choosing to create today?

 


* All quotes are taken from the song “Welcome to your life” by Grouplove

Plant a seed (mmmbop)

Mmmbop ba duba dop ba
Du bop ba duba dop ba
Du bop ba duba dop ba du
Yeah, yeah

Can you hear it playing in your head already?

If not, here is a little reminder:

Do you remember the radio stations playing this song over and over, so you basically couldn’t but love it?
Well, for me this was the case. This song, to me, always radiated this energy of joy and ease and it never failed to get me in a good mood.

…and they’re gone so fast, oh yeah

And as it is with this ever changing life, gradually, we got used to this song and I hardly noticed when it gradually disappeared from the radio stations’ playlists. Until I forgot about it completely as I moved on with my life.

Until today. Where I felt lost. Once again.

Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose
You can plant any one of those
Keep planting to find out which one grows
It’s a secret no one knows
It’s a secret no one knows
No one knows…

Do you know these days where just nothing feels right?
Today was one of these days. From the moment I had woken up everything, including me, felt out of place. Massive decisions seemed to be looming without my having a clue what I wanted, loved ones felt far away, I had that numb pain in my head…

I have no idea how I finally made it out of bed.

And then, I found this:

Did you know that is has actually been 20 years that the original song was released??

I love seeig what has become of people I had once known as kids, and so I marvelled at these three young men who sat there in the video, still radiating this amazing energy.
And making me smile.

And I started thinking about how much time has passed since I last heard this song, how much has happened in my life since then and what an amazing path I have walked. I wouldn’t even have dreamt of anything I am enjoying now these 20 years ago.

And so I took one decision at least: to keep planting seeds and just trusting in the right ones to grow and bloom in the end. Just as I witnessed the three Hanson boys bloom in the video.

Go higher

Everything in life entails its counterpart: every softness implies its edgy counterpart and where there is noise there is also silence. And so I thought why not embrace it all in one post?
And so, this post comes in different colors, featuring a rough and a corny note. Because, isn’t this how life is?

All my no’s just turned to yes

It has been crazy times lately. I cannot believe this all is actually happening, but apparently it is: My life seems to have decided to rearrange itself. I have found myself witnessing basically everything unfold and fall neatly into place. Things I started last year, just because I felt like doing them with no clear plan whatsoever, have suddenly evolved into solid projects; and castles I had built in the air out of – which I then thought – pure escapism appear to be almost within reach and no crazy ideas at all.

Traveling back in time I can still sense that big task that had been haunting me of finding my life’s mission and of defining the ultimate goal to follow for myself. Looking back, the doubt I carried is still palpable, that doubt if it was ok to just do what felt good at that moment.
Life seems to be presenting me with an answer now. And I am watching all these things I had unconsciously started, things in no way connected with each other back then, unfold and unite into a greater whole.
And there it is: a new and exciting road before me that hasn’t been there earlier and that almost feels like a true calling.

This is where it all begins
It’s right in front of me
Down is not where I belong
This aching heart won’t turn to stone
There’s a fire inside these bones
It was meant to be.

And while everything in me is screaming “hell yeah!”, the corny part comes into play.

At the moment I can’t but just stand there in awe and feel blessed. I have no idea what is happening, but it feels amazing. This goes even as far as my reminding myself of the big picture being enough to get through a rough moment or a bad experience. And to focus on this amazing rollercoaster ride that life is.

…and I’m grateful for it all

It has been dawning on me that every step I have taken in the past, everything I experienced, brought me right here. Where I am following a new path that feels as right as nothing has for a long time, surrounded by the most amazing friends and receiving all the support I could ever dream of. Quite similarly, a dear friend of mine recently recalled that whatever he chose to do in his life, however badly he screwed up, he always ended up in the right spot eventually.

And so I am wondering: could it be true that, after all, this idea of personal failure, is an illusion? And that, whichever direction we choose, it will bring us to some place that holds something for us to find? I find this to be a reassuring thought.
And at the moment I can’t but feel blessed and realize how wonderful life is.

And, yes, I am grateful for it all.

I don’t know how long this blissful state will last. And I am aware that, just as life’s sad and heartbreaking moments, this too shall pass.

In fact, I cannot even tell for sure if the path I have taken really leads me to the right place, or a place where I want to be in the end.

I know only time would tell
If all the cards will treat me well
Cause this hand that I been dealt
Keeps me wondering
So now here I turn the page
I’ve learned to silence all my rage
Tell me who can really say
What will tomorrow bring.

But isn’t even this good? And isn’t this what makes life exciting?

In any case, I have made a promise to myself. I have decided to embrace this feeling of gratefulness and take it with me. Whatever life may bring, I hope that I will be able to stay aware of this beautifully amazing journey it is and every miracle it presents to me.

Corny as this might be, it feels true to me.

The wrestle

I was born with a condition physicians refer to as congenital heart disease. I myself like to call it my unconventional heart. In the course of my life the two of us have become best friends. It’s my heart that reminds me each day that no day is for granted and so in a way I am thankful.

The crumpled ocean is no boat trip

Being reminded like that, however, doesn’t come for free. I know my condition to be tied to a certain risk that I carry in particular, which is, basically, the risk of dying. Or, to put it less dramatically, the risk of my state deteriorating at any minute; and nobody can tell me when this will be. So I just live with the vague certainty that it will happen one day.
Twice a year I go to my trusted heart center to have everything checked, always hoping to receive good news, meaning nothing has changed. Things have been stable for years and these follow-up exams are actually no big deal. But to me they always feel as if the physicians renegotiate my life.

So, as every year, my 2016 started off with the first one of these appointments a week ago. This time I found myself to be especially nervous and the day before the appointment I felt fear building up inside of me and sneaking into every corner of my being. With all my plans and dreams and new projects I have just started, suddenly so much was at stake. Besides, being aware of the fact that by some means or other I will have to face another surgery one day, I suddenly felt my time running out. And who knew? After all, I am approaching the 40, an age nobody had ever expected me to reach when I was born.

So here came the fear…

The clotheless wrestle with the clotheless animal

I’ve known for quite a while that it doesn’t help to suppress feelings. In fact, I have found it to be true that you might succeed in muting them for a while, but you cannot block them out forever. So what I tried was to accept my anxiety and acknowledge it as a part of myself.
And still there are these unpleasant physical sensations that come with being frightened.
The night before the appointment I couldn’t sleep. I felt agitated, my heart beating nervously in my chest, and all kinds of thoughts started to flood my brain, thoughts of bad things that might happen, of existential situations I might have to face and of all sorts of things that might just go wrong. I knew if I followed this train of thoughts it would bring me straight to panic land. So how to deal with this? How to finally calm down and get some rest? I probably don’t have to mention that none of the relaxation techniques I had learned once worked. What they helped me with, instead, was focusing even more on my body and all its creepy sensations.

My enemy, please stay close to me

Finally, when I was already way past the time at which falling asleep would have granted me a good night’s rest before the exam, tired of trying I just gave it up. It was like telling both my body and my mind that, fine, if they wanted to freak out freak out is what they should do. I wouldn’t bother objecting to it anymore. Which was, when, finally, I fell asleep.

It was only a couple of days later that I came across an article that described the handling of fears exactly the way I had done it. Apparently, accepting fear as a part of oneself can be much bigger than I had thought. Maybe it is more about embracing fear as a natural part of life that will always be there. And about surrendering to its presence without bowing down to its logic. In this light it seems only natural to also accept all the negative sensations and thoughts that usually accompany fear; and to, at the same time, take a look at them and recognize them for what they are: a natural consequence of being frightened. And to thus take your fears with you, but without letting them influence your moves.

I received good news at the heart center the next day. Everything appears to be stable and so I can relax for another half year. And oddly enough, one of my nurses told me how deeply and soundly relaxed she found me to be. And so for now I am happy.

I am an anxiety person. I have grown up this way, not least due to my unconventional heart. My fear has been keeping me company for as long as I can think. With every new step I take, at the beginning of each new project or endeavor, it is there, by my side. I take it with me. And yet, I have the feeling that we might get along. And that I will be fine.

Continue reading The wrestle

Leave the sad an the wrong buried safely in the past

One little song
Give me strength to leave the sad and the wrong
Buried safely in the past where I’ve been living
Alive but unforgiving
Let me go, let me go, let me go, let me go

Christmas seems to be a time of year when many of us are facing our old “demons” again. This time of reflection and stillness, when the year comes to a halt, seems to be calling for a confrontation with our innermost – and old childhood memories and experience that had long been forgotten, or buried deep down in our subconscious, sometimes pop up again. Even more so when gathering with family and old friends from the past.
For me, this has certainly been the case.

Spending some time in the house where I grew up, without really noticing I got caught up again in emotional states I thought I had long left behind me. Old grudges surfaced again like old annoying acquaintances and led to all sorts of unhealthy behavior. And, what’s worse, unhealthy ways of thinking. About those close to me, but especially about myself. It seemed as if my whole concept of self, of who I am, who I want to, can, and am allowed to be, had to be renegotiated.

…the past where I’ve been living / Alive but unforgiving

And the more I became aware of this, the more I struggled with this dilemma. I didn’t want to feel the way I felt and so I became virtually obsessed with attempting to finally get rid of these destructive beliefs and behavioral patterns. I wanted to let go of all the childhood trauma and to finally forgive those I found myself to still hold a grudge against. Easier said than done. And so I started pitying myself for being so entangled in my past. Again.

But what can you actively do to finally let go of the past and move on, in a healthy way? I still don’t have an answer to this and I admit that I’m probably not even halfway there. But an idea crossed my mind that I encountered during my NLP training a couple of years ago. Which is that, by focusing on something we do NOT want, we are still focusing on this very unwanted thing – behavior, thought, whatever it might be. And by focusing on it we fuel it with even more energy and attention, making it almost impossible to let go of this issue. The well-known idea that energy flows where attention goes.


…change this way of living

Clearly the attempt to consciously let go did not work. And so, when someone close to me suggested to try something new, make an experiment, I decided to give it a try. There wasn’t much else I could do anyway.

And I came to think that, maybe, it’s not so much about letting go, but rather about letting be. About embracing what is and what has been, and accepting that our past is a part of us. And about reminding ourselves that we are still free to choose anew, each day, in which direction we want to go and which thoughts and ideas we want to cultivate.

At least this is what I am doing now. And what this song by the Avett Brothers keeps reminding me of: that we aren’t captives of our past and that we are free to decide to move on however we like.

And so far it has been working for me. Interestingly, since I accepted these old emotional states and beliefs to be a part of me, they seem to have faded a bit and lost some power.

And so I feel ready to welcome the new year – a year where I will be able to choose, each day, who I want to be and in which direction I want to proceed.

Souls like the wings
Spreading out, away from bad memories
Make us capable of taking off and landing
Alive with understanding.

May it be a year full of new beginnings and happiness for all of us.

My share of epiphanies

It is the time of year some here refer to as „Raunaechte“, or, as Wikipedia told me, “the twelve nights”. Many consider it a time of increased openness to the messages of the universe or your inner voice, or whatever you wish to call it. A time of epiphanies, so to speak.

As far as I am aware, there has been constant debate as to the actual beginning of the twelve nights; many, however, have it that it starts as early as at midwinter. So, basically, now.

And, quite fittingly, I have already been blessed with my share of epiphanies already. As soon as I started to get back in touch with myself, and while I was still pondering on the question if anybody really cared about what I did, all of a sudden I have been receiving all sorts of positive feedback and notes of affection. And I am deeply touched by learning that I seem to have actually had an impact on people’s lives. And that I have been inspiring others by my way of being. People I wasn’t even aware took notice of me.

And this makes me grateful. And, to quote from one of my favorite authors, so I am glad.

So today I just want to say thank you. And to remind you that you matter. Because you add this certain sparkle to the world only you can add.
Each single one of you.

So here it is, Merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
it’s only just begun!

Happy Christmas to all of you beautiful people out there.