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

But at least we’ll get hurt trying

The piano is not firewood yet
They try to remember but still they forget
That the heart beats in threes
Just like a waltz
And nothing can stop you from dancing

So I took that step and jumped.

All my ideas, so elaborately planned and scheduled, were turned into action much sooner than expected. And suddenly I am experiencing myself in a completely new and unfamiliar situation, wondering how this all could happen so fast.

All it took was an open door. Not really open even. In fact, a slight possibility being cast through the crack of this door like a faint ray of light was all that was there initially. And without really thinking much I found myself pushing that door wide open and boldly stepping through it. There was this inner urge that made me do it.

I have left my permanent position of eleven years behind to follow my passion and go all in for the job of my dreams. And here I am, starting from scratch again. In the realm where I was truly meant to be. At least that is what I had thought…

After eleven years of routine and security I get to experience once more what it feels like to be an absolute beginner. I cannot remember the last time I have made so many mistakes in a row. And, me still being a hopeless perfectionist, this feels rather devastating. After my first two weeks in the new situation I wasn’t sure anymore if I had made the right decision. I started to seriously question my capacities of doing this job; my capacities to adapt and learn and to finally do it right; my capacities as a human being even. Was this really the place to be for me?

Rise from your cold hospital bed
You’re not dying
Everyone knows you’re going to live
So you might as well start trying

This is where, luckily, Regina Spektor stepped in and reinforced me.

Her song reminded me to take a closer look at things as they actually are, while putting the negative-colored glasses away. And taking a moment to reflect on my current situation I realized this much: it HAD been the right decision. Looking back I found that the old job and everything tied to it had simply vanished from my consciousness completely. Leaving it was the only sensible choice. And I became aware that, mistakes or not, this new thing in fact IS everything I can think of doing at the moment. And which I absolutely want to do.

Everyone knows it’s going to hurt
But at least we’ll get hurt trying

Right now, it is not perfect, I know that much. But then I asked myself: Isn’t this something that is inherent in new beginnings? That you have to adjust and find your way? And is there a way of viewing making mistakes and falling from a different perspective?

I have decided there is. By making all these mistakes I get the chance to learn a lot first-hand. So, rather than thinking that life wants to bring me down, I acknowledge that it may want to show me the way; that life actually presents me with the opportunity to grow, even further than I have grown so far. And to, by making all these mistakes, learn everything I will need in the future, to be right there where I belong and do an amazing job. It might as well be true. And, for now, I will continue pursuing this route and see where it leads me to.

I recognize that these are hard times. I am falling a lot and it takes a lot of strength and courage to get up and try again. And still, this is what feels like the only sensible thing at the moment.

And isn’t this what I wanted after all? Experience life to the fullest and accept everything it offers me? And to live now and postpone nothing that is important to a later date, when I might not be able to do it anymore…?

At least I get hurt trying.

Because in the end, this is what I will be looking back at.

You’ll want to go back
You’ll wish you were small
Nothing can slow the crying
You’ll take the clock off of your wall
And you’ll wish it was lying

How about you?

 

Spirits in my head and they won’t go

I’ve been lookin’ at the stars tonight
And I think “Oh, how I miss the bright sun!*

This song has a special meaning to me for two reasons:

The Strumbellas album was my travel companion on my trip through the States and as such is connected in my head to this adventurous feeling of heading off into uncharted waters and being free. Whenever I had taken my comfy seat on the ponderous Amtrak train I had become so fond of and the train started, I put on that album; and listening to it intensified my joy.

Now that I am back it keeps reminding me of that trip and the amazing time I experienced in America. And it also reminds me of what I am missing.

I got guns in my head and they won’t go
Spirits in my head and they won’t go*

It is true that also before my month-long trip I had been having these „spirits in my head“. And they basically never went away. They were there, lingering in the back, asking for more. And even though I knew there was a constant craving for something in my life that wasn’t there in my current situation; that I just was not living as would become my true self, I kind of settled for less. Because, well, ….
I thought I wasn’t ready yet. And that making a move might end up taking my security from me. Because I tended to listen to those voices telling me I had to content myself with what I had because, you know, who wouldn’t want to have security?

I’m just waiting for my day to come
And I think “Oh, cause I don’t wanna let you down.”
But something inside has changed,
and maybe we don’t wanna stay the same*

Now that I have been back from my trip for about a month, it has been dawning on me that, indeed, something inside has changed. Call it an attitude, or maybe just the increased craving for freedom. Whatever it is I feel different. I’ve been experiencing a shade of serenity that is new to me and that comes with a new tinge of audacity.
And with this feeling comes the urge to change something. And also the notion that, maybe, security isn’t all there is to life. Or might it even be possible that trusting in life provide us with a different type of security?

The decision has been taken in the past few days. Maybe it’s true what Lemony Snicket said: „If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.“

At least this quote appeals a lot to me at the moment and so I have decided to try my luck…:

And I don’t want a never-ending life
I just want to be alive
While I’m here*


 

Quotes taken from the song „Spirits“ by The Strumbellas
Image "Crossroads" by IcE MaN, CC BY 2.0

Ready to begin

I’ve just returned from a month-long trip through the Southeast of the USA.
And while this in itself has been a dream come true for me, I had the time of my life when finally seeing the Avett Brothers live in Baltimore.
In fact, the whole trip was planned accordingly, as to be able to attend their performance.
And I could hardly believe my luck, when I was standing there, right in the middle of the cheering crowd, and they hit the stage.

And I will certainly live on my memory of this truly amazing concert for a long time.

This is not a post about a particular song. It is rather about the music and the vibes that carried me during this precious month and will remind me of this amazing time for the rest of my life.

The concert had just been the start of an almost completely aimless journey through my favorite country. I had „planned“ it like that deliberately, to find out what would happen if I started off with only vague ideas of certain places I wanted to see. I wanted life to take over. And I was handsomely rewarded. It was, without doubt, the time of my life.

Now, being back, my perspective on life seems to have somewhat changed. My focus on certain things has sharpened and I seem to be much clearer regarding certain things I want and need and others I want to bid farewell.
I have the feeling to be on the brink of something new; something new I cannot name yet, but wich is just around the corner nevertheless.
I’m curious.
And I hope that I will be able to stick to this approach which I had adopted for my journey. This approach of trust that whatever happens, and wherever life leads me, is fine and will have me right where I am supposed to be.

I will certainly need it tomorrow. My next heart check is due and the usual fears are lingering in the back of my head.

Of course, I’ll have my music with me. This might be a good song to cheer me on:

Wish me luck.

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

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

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.