Sunburn to my eyes

I am a firm believer in consciously going through times of crisis, of embracing your crisis, so to speak, and acknowledging feelings of pain and fear. In fact, I am convinced that at the bottom of each crisis lies the option of growth. Fittingly, Facebook has reminded me of one of my favourite Rumi/Shams Tabrizi qoutes today:

“The chemistry of mind is different from the chemistry of love. The mind is careful, suspicious, he advances little by little. He advices “Be careful, protect yourself” Whereas love says “Let yourself, go!” The mind is strong, never fells down, while love hurts itself, fells into ruins. But isn’t it in ruins that we mostly find the treasures? A broken heart hides so many treasures.”

~ Shams Tabrizi¹

That is also why I particularly liked the song I last shared; because it, too, contaied the notion of facing it. I am not talking of giving in to dark feelings here; but rather of acknowleding them and moving through them, without letting them take control. Painful as it may be, I found this to always help me move forward in the end. And it turned out to work even this time, when, for a moment, I felt so overwhelmed and numbed by fear and forsaken that I was desperate.

So this is what I did: I became my own best friend; I listened to the signals my body sent and did everything that did me good. Which included having a good cry, or, rather, several of them; wrapping myself in music like in a comforting blanket; and: asking for help. Both explicitly and inwardly.

Blinded by your light, sunburn to my eyes
Guided by your noise, heart speak through the night

I am not a religious person, at least not in the conventional sense. I do not follow any of the established religions. But at this very moment, you could say that I experienced life’s grace. It was as if the whole universe worked on my behalf and answered my every need.

I was granted all the love and assistance I could dream of. It was amazing how my friends, or „my tribe“, as I like to call them, got my back during this hard time by just being there, listening and sending their love in terms of encouraging thoughts and ideas. Especially friends I hadn’t even reached out for initially surprised me the most. And I got all this:

When the world seems empty, you will have my shoulder
And always remember you are someone’s daughter
Join me on this journey like a dancing soldier
On the road to freedom coming home to hold ya-ya-ya

The exchange with my friends also resulted in my getting in touch with exactly the right reading material. Apart from being a music person I am a word person. So reading has always enriched my life, and the books I came across thanks to my friends, and the words I found in them, carried me through my dark times like the wave of a kind ocean. I guess several book dealers quite benefited from my crisis, but I did too, because these books have been providing me with the most amazing insights and ideas and will accompany me for another while (for a brief list of recommendations see below).

Lastly, I made an appointment with my trusted life coach. Sometimes it’s good to talk to a professional. She has never failed me and also this time she helped me come to terms and find my way again. And I got better.

It is true that this was a particularly painful period and the dark feelings didn’t disappear just like that. However, going through them, I felt myself being more and more reminded of the love that is there, and has always been, in abundance. As already Björk had pointed out a couple of years ago.

She was right. As was Shams Tabrizi.

And maybe I just hadn’t been receiving. So this was the treasure I found at the bottom of my pain: The awareness that I am loved. And the knowledge that I will be helped whenever I need it.

And this is also what I want to remind you of. That this is true for all of us and that you can trust to be loved and supported by life.

And, me being the musicfairy, my breaking of a new dawn was signified by a wave of new music that flowed into my life. Which resulted in a short playlist of happiness.

A word on depression

I am lucky enough to never have experienced depression, but I am aware that depression is a serious condition that can completely paralyze you. Luckily I was reminded today that many people still seem to think that all it takes to deal with depression is pulling oneself together. By suggesting embracing painful feelings it is not my intenton to support this view. I know how important getting the right kind of help can be and believe that talking to a professional is the best you can do in some situations. As I did myself, even without having to deal with depression.

What I am convinced of, however, is this:
Everything is going to be alright in the end. The dawn will break and you will smile again.

And the time will come for this playlist:

 


Books and reading material I find inspiring and uplifting:

 

¹ Source: Rumi

Image: Rays of sunshine by Susanne Nilsson, CC-BY-SA 2.0

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Hold your own

So life has sent me a friendly reminder.

It is almost ironic how so often when I have written about a certain topic that has been on my mind life seems to throw it back in my face just a little more fiercely.

Are the details in the fabric/ Are the things that make you panic/ Are your thoughts results of static cling?

So, talking about safety and sticking to it… I happened to come across the latest findings about my heart condition recently. And what I read was devastating. I know I am no expert in statistics, but what I read just made me feel as if I had long exceeded my expiry date and I started wondering why I was still here. It felt as if life must have made a mistake and that it was only a question of time that this error would be corrected. And all the safety I had clung to before in this light appeared to be just vain. That was quite a blow.

Hell, no reason, go on and scream

Although I have drawn my lust for life and energy from the knowledge of life’s being finite, having these studies bring death, or the option of it, so close to me that it was almost palpable was a completely different thing and I felt overwhelmed by a fearful emotion so big that it didn’t seem to fit into my body.

Only rarely do I seek help in moments of crisis, and usually if I do, there is someone around. But this time there wasn’t: none of those I reached out for was available.

I had no choice but to face this moment of existential forsakenness on my own.
And in this time of crisis, I turned to this particular song

Because it gave me comfort and encouraged me to keep going. And because it told me exactly the things I would have wished my friends to tell me:

Calm down
Deep breaths
And get yourself dressed instead
Of running around
And pulling on your threads
And breaking yourself up

And this helped. And step by step the days got better.

If it’s a broken heart, then face it

I want to share this song with you to remind you that the dawn does break eventually. However dim the light might be, it is there. And maybe you are stronger than you think. Just hold your own and hang on a little longer.

My friends got back to me the next day and since then have supported me by simply being there. Like that song had before, when nobody was available. And so, somehow I survived.

Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
And everything, everything will be fine
Everything.

 


 

If music just isn’t enough, there are plenty of other things you can do in times of crisis. I loved this article by Annie Wright:
101 Self-Care Suggestions for When It All Feels Like Too Much

 

Image "At the break of dawn" by Abhijit Kar Gupta, CC BY 2.0

Good enough to fight for second place

Everyone I know, everyone I know's got plans
But they all just play the keys in shitty bands

Are you actually living your dream?

Or are you one of those many people whose answer to this question contains something like “I’d love to…, but…”?
Because, after all, it’s all just airy-fairy daydreams. Right?!

When talking to a friend last weekend he happened to bring up that familiar and somewhat corny quote everybody has probably heard at least a thousand times and yet so few seem to be acting out. Which goes:

“Don’t dream your life, but live your dream!”

And I asked him the same question I am asking you now and which, in fact I’ve been asking myself over and over again.

Are YOU living your dream?

In my life I have encountered so many people who seem to have settled for less than they would actually want. And who seem anything but happy, at least to me.

Everyone I know, everyone I know is great
Good enough to fight for second place
Everyone I know, everyone I know can talk
Until their lives get outlined in chalk

I’ve been wondering what keeps all these people from pursuing the goals they once had, and forget about the dreams they have been dreaming all along. And it has even made me angry, because I see so much potential wasted in this world by people’s rather playing it safe than stepping outside of the live outlined for them.

And of course I know what keeps them.

The city’s gonna kill me, throw me from a building,
shoot me in a drive by.
The city’s gonna stalk me, knock out all my front teeth,
drown me in the high tide

Replace “city” with whatever you like: my friends, my partner, my boss, society…
But how real is this threat, really? And which is our part in its being present at all?

Like many others, I want to live my dream, to live a life that means something. I really do.

For a couple of months now I have been taking steps in a direction as to move closer to that life. Which was fine as long as the goal was lingering somewhere far ahead, hardly assuming a definite form.
However, since everything seems to be working out better than I had ever imagined it has been dawning on me that, with every step I take towards my goal, I am moving closer to the point where I will have to take that next big step into uncharted waters and move way out of my comfort zone. While, at the same time leaving safe and familiar ground behind.
And to be honest: it scares the hell out of me. I am still not entirely sure if I will take that big step eventually. In fact, I have caught myself several times considering less adventurous options which would imply at least some of the safety I have now. And which, of course, are far less exciting.
For the time being I have solved this problem by pushing all fears aside and focusing on one step at a time. Hoping that I will know what to do when the time has come to make that decision.
Still, already now I have the dim feeling that, after all that has already happened, going back would mean paying a high price. Which doesn’t really help with the fear.

What about you?

Have you settled for living the life that has been laid out for you?

Or are you one of those who are already living the life of their dreams?

And what is really going to happen if we decide to step out of the well-trodden path?

Come around if you’re feeling frightened
I can see that the noose is tightening fast
Way too fast, way too fast…

…..

…..

…..this could have been it. Had not this one song come to my attention just today, right before I wanted to hit the publish button. You could almost think it was meant as an answer to what I had writen earlier…

…but the world keeps spinning around.

 


Credits:
Image Wings of the fallen by Garrette, CC BY 2.0
Songs: Everyone I know by K.Flay - High Hopes by Kodaline


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.