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?

 

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.

And now I just sit in silence

Sitting in the hospital, waiting, with hunched shoulders, I am finally fully aware of what I feel.
After two of the three scheduled examinations, the doctor in charge was called to an emergency. And so we, the scheduled patients, are waiting.

And in the back of my head, there is this song playing, which, in fact, has been since I got on the train this morning. And is becoming true for me once more.

Watching people in a hospital waiting area – while not being the most pleasant of sights anyway –  doesn’t keep the mind entertained forever, at least if you try to not give yourself over to commiserating thoughts about what particular misery all of the other people waiting are going through here. Eventually the mind doesn’t find anymore sights to distract it. And justgoes blank.

And now I just sit in silence.

I have this emergency program that always kicks in when something in me – my self? – feels threatened by an extremely frightening situation. Whenever this happens I tend to go numb and am completely disconnected from my feelings.
Thinking of it now I get the impression that this is the usual state most of us are in while hustling through our daily grind, being completely unaware of what goes on beyond the surface.

Sitting in silence did the trick today.

All the emotions – fears, pain, memories from past hospital stays – everything just popped up at once and I found myself drowned by a massive surge of it all.

I’m forced to deal with what I feel

And this is a good thing, I think. It may not feel so at first; in fact, it was horrifying. And yet I am thankful. Because I believe that our fears and emotions are trying to tell us something. To impart some knowledge to us that we somehow have forgotten or suppressed. So with this outbreak of emotion I have something at hand I can start with.

As soon as this third exam is over…

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

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


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