Friday, 31 July 2015

How to ditch envy for good




Let me tell you an uncomfortable truth: I used to be a jealous person. Not jealous in the romantic sense, as in being worried about my partner's female friends and/or exes - that never bothered me much. I was jealous of other people's lives

You see, even when I thought that I was happy where I was at, I still worried about other people being happier; I was sure I could do better. 

I envied everyone: The newly engaged co-worker (I never got proposed to like that). 
The wedding of a friend (my wedding wasn't as good as that). 
The pregnant person in front of me at the supermarket checkout who was just congratulated on her pregnancy: "That's so exciting! You must be thrilled! What a special time!" (I didn't even know if I wanted to be pregnant, but the attention was sure nice).
The girl hanging out in a big group all the time and posting all these fun photos.

I felt inferior to all of them.
First I thought I wanted those exact things: The well thought-out engagement surprise and the big ring; the huge wedding; the pregnancy; being part of a big group. But upon closer reflection I realized that I would never change our lovestory for any other; that a big wedding would stress me out way too much; that I don't want to be pregnant; that I I crave alone time more than anything and find having too many people around me to be very exhausting.

Once I had gotten thus far, the question remained: Why was I experiencing envy?
The answer was very surprising.
I didn't want to live those lives. What I wanted was to fit in. What they all had in common was that they did things in what I perceived to be "the right way". And my story wasn't like that. I felt like an outsider, and nobody likes that feeling. All I wanted was to be "normal". (Or so I thought.)

I believe that envy is less about wanting the things the other person has and more about our own insecurity. 

In our quest for happiness we are looking for clues all around us. Your neighbour just bought a brand new car, and he looks pleased - maybe if I buy one, I will feel better too?
Your friend treated herself to the latest Michael Kors handbag, and all your friends are oohing and aahing over it, admiring it - and by extension, her? Suddenly you want one too, to feel the warm glow of admiration.  
Your co-worker broke off her long term relationship and is now going out every night, flirting and having fun -  maybe that's better than sticking it out with your guy who you have been fighting with so much lately?

The root of envy is that we compare our inside with other people's outside. We take what we see on social media and what people tell us at face value. But it never shows us the complete picture. Everybody censors their stories, glossing over the ugly parts and emphasizing the good ones. We all do it; it's human nature.

I was determined to get past my feelings of envy. It is an ugly emotional state that doesn't get you anywhere. It makes you unhappy, dissatisfied, and angry.

Here are the steps that helped me ditch envy for good:

1. Make a list. 
First, I wrote down everything that I want in life. This may take a while - it's actually not that easy to figure oneself out! I included everything from tangible goals (learn how to do a handstand) to loftier ones (publish a book). It's also helpful to visualize your future: What would your perfect life look like in one year? Five? Ten? Once you have written it all down, you will realize that some of the things you were jealous of aren't even important to you.

2. Realize that you can't buy happiness. 
If having lots of stuff would make you happy, we North Americans should be the happiest people on the planet. We have so much crap! But as you probably know, it doesn't work that way. Quite the contrary: The more you have, the more you want. There is always the next iPhone, the next fashion trend, a bigger TV. It's a race that can't be won, and if you want to participate you will never reach the finish line. Don't get me wrong, I like material things too. Of course I do! But don't let them control you. Instead of following trends, develop your own style. That way other people's stuff won't even faze you.

3. Celebrate success. 
Celebrating your own success? Easy-peasy. But here is the twist: Learn to celebrate other people's success. What I found to be essential in overcoming envy was realizing that another person's success doesn't take anything away from me. It's tempting to be jealous of  the uber-successful blogger (why aren't I as successful?) or the newbie-yogi who can slide effortlessly into poses that I struggle with.
However, if you change your attitude just a bit you can see it in a completely new light: If they can do it, so can you! There is a joy to be found in being happy for others that will push envy right out of your life. Remember: There is room for all of us to be successful.

4. Document your happy moments. 
Sometimes you need to take a step back and look at your life from the outside. That's what we do with other lives every single day, so why not do it with our own? I first noticed that when I started blogging. Sharing bits and pieces of my life made me realize how great it actually is. Instead of being consumed with the inner voices of doubt and envy, I saw what my life looks like to other people. What an eye opener! We tend to focus on the negative more than the positive, and let the happy moments slip through our fingers. I discovered that by writing down and photographing my happy moments, I found a new appreciation and gratitude for my life.

5. Find inner peace.
This is my yogi talking, but please bear with me for a moment. Finding peace and tranquility within yourself is the key to a happy life. This is definitely a work in progress, and can take a while.
But I believe that with inner peace, feelings of jealousy, envy and resentment simply disappear.
How do you find your inner peace?
Here is the recipe:

Do what you love, and do it often.
If you don't like something, change it.
If you don't like your job, quit.
If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV.
If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.
Stop over analyzing, all emotions are beautiful.
When you eat, appreciate every last bite.
Life is simple.
Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences.
Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them.
Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.
Some opportunities only come once, seize them.
Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating.
Life is short.
Live your dream, and wear your passion.
(The Holstee Manifesto)  


Do you have any more tricks that helped you get rid of envy? Please share in the comments!

Have a great weekend everyone! It's a long one in Canada, yay! :-)





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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

We went on an adventure


On Monday, my friend Brianne and I stepped outside our comfort zones. We both had been talking about going zip lining for a while, but always said we would do it on the infamous "one day". 
"One day" is a magical place, where everything is going to happen: People will organize their houses, start their dream jobs, go on diets, start a serious exercise regime -  and go zip lining. 
You all know this mystical "one day" - we all have stuff saved up for that legendary day in a distant future.

Well, we decided that our "one day" would happen on July 27, 2015 - and boy, oh boy, are we happy we did. 

It probably seems like a small thing to do. Zip lining is very popular, impressively safe, and you need little to no skills to go on a tour.     
But to us, it wasn't small. 
Brianne has been on an incredibly inspiring, hugely impressive journey over the last 1.5 years.
Starting at the beginning of 2014, she decided to turn her life around and embark on a healthier, more active lifestyle. She changed her diet and started working out regularly, and has shed almost 100 pounds to date. 
I can't put into words how proud I am of her. Everybody who has ever embarked on a similar journey knows how hard and awe-inspiring this is!

So to us, this trip was a celebration. A celebration of how far she has come, how much fun a more active life is, and how awesome it is to face your fears!
Because here is the other thing: heights scare me. I've always hated that about myself, because flying/climbing/mountains strongly appeal to me. This fear is something I will probably always try to fight against, but never be able to truly overcome.
Those moments though, when you do something despite the fear? They are incredible.     
They will make you feel exhilarated and invincible. You will feel more alive than usual, full of appreciation for life's beauty and all the possibilities that are out there!
I strongly recommend that you go out and do something that scares you.
The reward will be so worth it! 
Go on - what are you waiting for?
Do it. 






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Monday, 27 July 2015

Gratitude

I turned my face towards the sun, eyes closed, breathing in deeply. After the morning's heavy rain, the air was fresh and clean and smelled intoxicating. A light breeze blew gently across my face, tousling my hair softly.
Opening my eyes and looking around me, at the dogs, the gaggle of geese making their way noisily to the pond, and the blue sky above, I was filled with gratitude.

I sleepily sat down in front of my computer, a cup of hot coffee by my side, opening my emails. There it was, nestled amongst the usual junk: A reader comment. One that was so uplifting, genuine, positive and encouraging, a huge happy grin spread across my face, and I had to blink tears of joy away. Berit, thank you for that.

A Saturday spent playing games with friends. So unlike me, yet so much fun. Trying new things pays off more often than not.

A Sunday morning spent in bed with two dogs, drinking coffee and reading till noon.

A tight hug, brilliant blue eyes looking at me, the love in them so obvious, so precious. A whispered "I love you so much."

Being struck by an idea that sends a jolt of energy through me, filling me with excitement and the feeling of truly being alive.

Off to an adventure today with a close friend, facing fears and chasing the adrenaline rush.

Yesterday I was struck by a thought: "This is my happily ever after." And a feeling of deep gratitude filled me. For this life I have, full of love, possibilities, dreams and happiness.
Sure, it has its share of problems and annoyances, like every life.

But it is the life I always wanted.

The overwhelming feeling I have is one of possibility: Of being able to do whatever I want. Is there a better feeling in the world? I doubt it.
Now I'm asking you: What is it that you want? What makes you happy? Excited? Bursting with gratitude?
Go for it. Remember, all limitations can be overcome. Most limits are made by ourselves, as a result of fear and a lack of imagination.  
You can do this!

I'm rooting for you.






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Saturday, 25 July 2015

What nobody tells you about puppies

Puppies.
If you are like me, joyful images will flood your mind upon hearing the word "puppy": Of happy, lively, adorable and cuddly little furballs, eager to love us with every fibre of their being.
  
You may think that they are cute:
Just look at those ears! Batgirl, only cuter.
You may think that they are the sweetest creatures on earth:
Puppy hug 
You may think that they are playful: 
Dancing dogs
Obviously, you are right. 

But also wrong.

There is another side to puppies: The wild side in them. They descended from wolves after all! They are wild beasts.

After patiently watching our puppy for ages*, I was fortunate enough to see her show her wild side:
The predator. 

*About 5 minutes.
Spying her prey in the distance.
She lies down in anticipation, waiting for her prey to get closer.
"Come, sweet collie, come here!"
Suddenly, she pounces!
Nina is on the attack.
She tries to tackle her prey. 
Unsuccessfully. 
But she doesn't give up. 
Suddenly, Phoebe lies down.
(Playing with a puppy is hard work.)
Is there another chance to tackle her...?
Nope. Phoebe is boss.
Sleepy time.

Never underestimate the wild side in any of us.
Happy weekend my friends!







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Friday, 24 July 2015

Meltdown

source

All it took was an overflowing garbage can. When I came home from work utterly exhausted, sore, tired and grumpy, and saw that he had not emptied the garbage, I exploded. A full-on diva hissy fit was had, resulting in him leaving the house and me being even more mad. Lose/lose all around.

Of course, it wasn't about the garbage. Or work. Or the intense, painful, not-relaxing-yet-necessary massage I had right after. It wasn't even because of the not enough sleep/having to get up early combo, the full-on body pain, the bone-deep exhaustion.

It was all of these annoyances put together, plus PMS, plus my depression = full-on meltdown.

Guys, PMS is no joke. It's not a convenient excuse for rude behaviour - it's a curse. Your emotions completely take over, and you are powerless to stop them. Instead of being in charge of yourself, you are a helpless bystander, being swept up in a tsunami of epic proportions.

On the day of the meltdown, I was on edge all day. Being the modern, tough-it-out woman I am supposed to be, I showed up at work just like I am expected to. I smiled, joked, did my job (maybe with a bit more attitude than usual), and played the part. On the surface, I was a calm duck, gliding serenely across the pond; but underneath it, I was furiously paddling. Everything annoyed me: having to interact with people, talking, listening, being in a group. Not being able to get away. I wanted nothing more than to bolt and run straight home, to hide under the covers and be alone.

But of course, we can't do that. So I gritted my teeth, quietly boiled on the inside, and got through it. Once the blasted 8 hours were finally over, I still didn't get to go home - I had made a massage appointment for my permanently sore shoulders (thanks, work and yoga), and just not showing up is not an option - the German in me won't allow it.

My massage therapist is usually chatty and we talk the entire time, but he must have sensed something: after the initial small-talk, he grew quiet. I sort of zoned out, and was in a weird in-between place: not asleep, not awake, but also not in relaxation bliss (it hurt too much for that) - it was bizarre. After the hour was up, I felt like I had just gone through the wringer - everything hurt.

Such was my state of mind (and body) when I arrived home: Hurting from head to toe, exhausted from having to deal with people all day long when I didn't have the energy for it (introvert here), and PMS. The meltdown was inevitable, because my energy reserves were empty.

Obviously, I attacked the wrong person. But just as obviously, all the penned-up frustration needed to get out. That's the ugly genius of PMS: Everybody suffers. Not only the person having it, but also the people around her. Usually family or close friends, because they are the ones we expose our true selves to.  

There's no moral of the story here. Basically, all I'm saying is this: We all have awful days. PMS sucks. Some days, all you can do is try to hold it together somehow, yell at the wrong person, pout, then feel bad, apologize, take a hot bath and go to bed.

I promise you: The next day will be better. Pinky swear.






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Sunday, 19 July 2015

It is YOUR choice

The other day I heard that one of my friends may be pregnant. And my first reaction was: "I'm so happy for her!"
You are probably wondering why I even mention it - isn't this the appropriate (and only acceptable) reaction to have upon hearing these sort of news?
Of course you are right, it is. Yet for a few years pregnancy announcements would invoke a host of conflicting emotions in me: resentment, joy for them, confusion, pressure, yearning, reluctance. 

Every woman has to decide if she wants children - or not. What should be a personal decision first for herself, and second between herself and her partner, really isn't - everybody has an opinion. Family, friends, co-workers, our society - they all weigh in, whether you want them to or not. And the general consensus is this: women who don't want kids are suspicious
Something must be wrong with them. Isn't this what women were made for, being mothers? If a woman doesn't want children, she is labelled as being incredibly selfish. Also, it isn't natural. Also, everybody tells her that she will regret it later in life, no doubt about it. 
How do these people know? What do they know about someone else's life? Doesn't matter. When it comes to reproduction, everyone is convinced that they are entitled to their opinion, and the public opinion is this: If you say you don't want kids, you don't know what you are talking about. You are just confused. You do, in fact, want them - you just don't know it yet.

Parents seem to have difficulties grasping this one simple fact: We are all different. What is right for you doesn't have to be right for me. 
I completely understand why people want to become parents. For women in particular it is the ultimate achievement: Making a new person. Your own body producing a new one must be an incredible experience. I get that, and I am truly happy for you!

But here is the thing: I don't tell you not to have kids, just because I don't want them. It is your choice, your life, and whatever you do with it is fine by me.

But when it is the other way around, people are a lot less tolerant:
They accuse you of being selfish.
This one always boggles my mind. How is not creating a new human being that isn't 100% wanted, selfish? Wouldn't it be more selfish to want to become pregnant, but for the wrong reasons? 

You may not realize it, but by passing on the whole pregnancy thing you also pass up on a whole lot of attention. Being pregnant is hip. You will get showered with attention. You will get gifts. Everybody will be happy for you. Strangers and friends alike will congratulate you. 

Do you really think that doesn't affect some women? Especially the young, insecure ones? Who may feel like they never did anything right, but by becoming pregnant they are now accepted, validated, and part of something big. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge you expecting mothers your time in the spotlight. You more than deserve it. From all I hear, being pregnant is no walk in the park, and you deserve some extra pampering. 

All I'm saying is this: Making the choice of not having children is the unpopular one. You will have to face criticism and disappointment from others. 
It may be easier to just go with the popular flow, and to get pregnant. For the wrong reasons. Wouldn't that be much more selfish?
They insinuate that you don't know what you want, i.e. basically telling you that you are immature, needing to grow up and "face your responsibilities", which for a woman apparently means popping out a couple of babies.
Parents always say that raising kids is the most difficult job in the world, and I believe that. I also believe you when you tell me it is the most rewarding job in the world, and totally worth it. 

It is that for you. It wouldn't for me. Please don't think you know me better than I know myself. I may not know what it feels like to be a mother, but I know what it feels like to be me. I have lived with myself for over 30 years, and gotten to know myself pretty well in this time. Certainly better than you know me, stranger at the party who met me 30 minutes ago. Or you fellow colleague, who has known me for less than a year. 

I love dogs. They enrich my life and make me very happy. But do I think everybody should have a dog? Hell, no. I know they are not for everyone. In fact, there are people who own dogs who shouldn't, because they don't give them the love and life they deserve. (Which, incidentally, also applies to some parents.)
Some people have children. Other people have dogs. Some people have both. That's the beauty of diversity, isn't it? Live and let live. 

They will tell you that you don't know what real love is. 
Love is impossible to define. It's a feeling, a force, a power beyond mere words. Every living creature deserves love, and I fervently want for everyone to experience it in their life, despite knowing that sadly, this isn't the case.
Trying to put a label on love is futile. Saying one love is more or less than another is lessening the positive force that is love. 
Let me reassure you: I am fortunate to have a lot of love in my life. I receive it, and I give it. Without having born children. It is real, and it is powerful.

Being a mother doesn't mean that you have to be related by blood. It means loving someone unconditionally and with your whole heart.
What it comes down to is simple:
We have to respect each other. For who we are. 
Not everybody is the same. It is tempting to believe that what works for us will also work for others. But that's not true.

What I would love to see is a society that is supportive of all women and their choices. Especially when it comes to such an important, life-changing one: About whether or not to bear children.
It is your choice. Not your parent's, or friends', or random stranger's at a party. Yours. 

Remember:
You are not worth less by deciding to not have children.
You are not loved less by deciding to not have children.

Do what is right for you.






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Thursday, 16 July 2015

If clothes could talk...

... what stories would they tell?
This is what I want to find out.

Clothes are something I will always love: They have cheered me up ever since I was old enough to put an outfit together, and have the power to turn a blah day into an exciting one. When I was younger I would leaf through clothing catalogs for hours, dog-earing the pages of the outfits I liked to cut out later.
For my birthday and Christmas I would make elaborate wish lists, complete with the pictures of the clothes I wanted pasted on it, with the order number conveniently written below to make the ordering process for my parents as easy as possible.

I have entire vacations memorized by what I wore:
Sweden in 1995 was the summer of long, flowing skirts, crotched vests and Swedish clogs.
France in 1997 was all about the mini skirts and short tops.
England in 1998 I loved flatform shoes, skintight pants and homemade bracelets.
Starting in 1999 I went through a somewhat butchy phase (coinciding with a 20-pound weight gain) and I wore baggy army cargo pants (to hide the weight gain) with tight tops (to still look girly) and Buffalo platform sneakers (it was the time of the Spice Girls).

What I'm trying to say is, I like clothes. They are fun, let me express who I am, and make me happy.
Doing outfit posts, however, lost its appeal for me. I haven't done an outfit post in 10 weeks, because I didn't feel like it.
Interestingly enough, it has also affected how I dress lately: I have become lazy. There is a closet full of pretty clothes in my house, yet I have been rotating the same three outfits over the last few weeks: denim shorts and one of my variety of tank tops; my favourite maxi dress; leggings and one of my variety of tank tops (who am I?). Yawn.

In order to fall back in love with my wardrobe, and to include more fashion on the blog once again, I came up with an idea.
How about I pick an item of clothing/outfit, and let it tell its story? A lot of my things are several years old, and looking at them reminds me fondly of the times and occasions I wore them.

Today I want to start with a pair of shoes that have become my "going out" shoes: My baby-blue Swedish Hasbeens Mimmi slingbacks. Take it away, Mimmi!

Ciao bellas, Mimmi here.

I joined Miriam last year in the spring, and I have to say, life is sweet. She has a tendency to abuse other shoes (her work clogs look horrible), and when I saw the state of some of them I was quite concerned. However, 16 months in, and I'm still looking gorgeous! Wouldn't you agree?

She has taken me on some fun outings:
To her stepdaughter's high school graduation last year.
To her husband's 60th birthday dinner at the Banana Leaf Restaurant (it's one of her faves, and I like it too - the floors are nice and clean).
We went to see Walk Off the Earth together, which was not as sticky as I had feared because the concert was held at a theatre (You can read about it here.) And nobody stepped on me, my biggest worry - my bows are fragile.
She tends to retire me in the winter, which is a-okay with me. I am Italian, and I hate the cold. These soles were not made for slush and snow.

Miriam has recognized my delicate nature and takes me mostly out for dinner, the movies and the occasional party. Work is not my scene, neither are any strenuous activities. One time she tried to run with me - the horror! It was only to cross the street (I believe a car was coming rather fast), but still - I don't run. I slipped off her foot in protest, and she got the message not to do that again.
The other shoes have told me that I'm the one who gets to go to the city the most. No surprise there, since I'm clearly the most stylish and urban one. Poor souls seemed to be confused by it.

I like all things fun: Cocktails, eating out, pretty dresses, parties. You may call me frivolous, but you know what? The world needs shoes like me: the fabulous ones that add some sparkle and magic to the everyday.
Arrivederci bellas!

Mimmi


Linking up with Fashion Should Be Fun


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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

These are the days...

... of a seemingly never-ending, wonderful summer
... of spontaneous sushi dates
... of having wine nights on warm evenings
... of tired puppies who played all day long
... of walks in shorts and flip-flops
... of feeling sore every day and loving it
... of dinners and BBQs with friends
... of hanging out with birds
... and dogs
... of watching Orange Is the New Black
source
... of Instagram challenges
#backtobackbends

... and fun with friends I have never met in real life
#humpdayfashionasana
... of writing at home and at work
... of being happy.

How is your summer?






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