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

 

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

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…

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

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.