Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Struggling with the middle



Do you like beginnings? Some people love them. New relationships, starting a new book, picking up a new hobby, moving to a new place - it may be overwhelming at times, but it's all so exciting. The adrenaline is flowing, all your senses are alert, you feel more alive than ever!

You experience lots of little victories - and failures, too - which makes your days seem fuller and more thrilling than before.

Sometimes, I miss that.

I started on my yoga journey last year, and it was exciting and thrilling for months. Lots of little victories, lots of firsts.
Now I'm 10 months in, and I have noticed that the firsts have slowed down rapidly. The shininess of a fresh start has dulled, and the thrill of learning something new has been replaced by boring old routine.

I'm not at the beginning any more: I'm somewhere in the middle. The middle of anything is never that exciting. If you are a middle child, you know too well what I'm talking about: You're not the proud first-born and not the precious baby - you're the one that's in-between, with no special adjective attached to it.

That's how my practice has felt lately. I'm past the happy glow of first infatuation, yet still so far away from where I want to be - classic "stuck in the middle"-syndrome.
I catch myself being impatient and frustrated more often than I like to admit, but I'm admitting it anyway. Saying it out loud actually takes the magnitude away - I do know that it's silly. But sometimes, I can't help it.

Last night I played the comparison game, which is a game where nobody ever wins. Sure enough, I ended up a loser. I looked at all the advanced yogis on Instagram, and the yogis I have followed from the beginning, and was sure they are all doing so much better than me. They are all more focused, more determined, practice more, practice harder, and are getting so much better.

The irony is that yoga is not about that at all. It's not about the poses, or who is bendier or stronger, but about anybody's own journey. It's about peace, enlightenment, and connecting with your true self.

So what to do? I've slept on it and thought about it, and my solution is this:
Keep on keeping on. Breathe, practice, learn patience. Because the real lesson in this has always been about patience, and learning to accept the things I cannot change.

Instead of grieving the loss of the thrilling beginning, I should be celebrating having advanced a tiny bit on the road I am on. I still can't see my destination, but you know what? That's how it should be.
Yoga is about the journey, not the end goal, and so is life.
Which is what makes this practice such a brilliant teacher.

In a few years I will reach middle age. Or maybe I already have? Nobody knows how much time we have left. It's high time I learn how to make the best of these middle years, and to enjoy them for the good they have to offer: More piece of mind than I ever had before, feeling comfortable in my body, not caring so much any more what other people think of me.
All good stuff.

Maybe that's the best thing about the middle: Being close enough to the beginning to remember what it felt like, the good and the bad. While there was excitement and adrenaline rushes, there were also a lot of angst, insecurity, and lessons to be learnt the hard way. That has gotten easier now.

I'm determined to learn to celebrate the stage I'm entering now: The long haul. I have experience with it in my marriage, and it has brought me so much joy: The trust and deep friendship we have outweigh the butterflies from the first few months by a million.

If yoga (and life) are going to be anywhere close to this feeling, than the middle may actually be the best thing that can happen to us?

At least that's what I'm hoping for.




 
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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Style: Born in the wrong country



Guys, I'm beyond thrilled: I will finally be a Canadian in 14 days!!!
I got the precious letter I have been waiting for for three months yesterday, and I AM SO FRICKING EXCITED!! 
It may be hard for you to understand, but Canada is the country that was always meant to be mine. 
I am going so far as to say that I was born in the wrong country. You know people who are born in the wrong body? They were supposed to be boys, but nature, the moody bitch, put them in a female body?

That's how I always felt about being German. I was meant to be Canadian, but by some weird freak-of-nature accident, I ended up in Germany. Not that my time there was wasted; I picked up some helpful tools to navigate life with: A strong work ethic, an appreciation for the rich history in Europe, and a fondness for Pretzels and sauerkraut. Well worth it. 

The pretzels are the main reason why I will keep my German citizenship (you think I'm joking? I am not), but in two weeks I will also finally become what I was always meant to be: CANADIAN.  

In honour of this momentous occasion (and also because I had no time to take photos), I decided to dedicate this post to all things Canadian I mentioned and/or wore on the blog before.


Only my fourth fashion post on the blog, and it was dedicated to Canada day! Please excuse the poor quality of the photos, I was young and inexperienced. 

But I did make my own Canada bracelet:

Three months later, I inadvertently wore another Canada-inspired outfit: This chevron dress. 

What in the world could have inspired me to buy a red-and-white dress? ;-)

(Or to strike these poses?)

I also told the story of why I chose Canada a few months later, proving that my love for this beautiful country is never far from my mind. 

One year later, I had to go to the dentist, and shared my outfit with you. Wouldn't you know it? My Canadian fan sneaked its way into the photos. 


The Canadian Tuxedo is another classic, and I wore it in this post:


Another red-and-white outfit: My beloved eShakti dress and some plaid, what else.

Last but not least, I represented Canada on our trip to Mexico five years ago:

What did I tell ya? I was meant to be Canadian.

Much love,





Linking up with Fashion Should Be FunA Pocketful of Polka DotsRachel The Hat and Jaymie Ashcraft
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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Being a maker



"What do people do online?", our friend asks. "My wife is sitting in front of the computer at 3 in the morning, and I have no idea what she does." 

"Does she play games? Read blogs? Post stuff on Facebook?" I ask.

"Beats me."

"Is she part of online groups?" I try again. "Maybe they are chatting?"

"No idea. I think she's tweeting and instagramming and all that." 

"You don't instagram on the computer, you do it on your phone." I inform him. 

"Hrumph, it's all the same to me", he grumbles. 

We drop the subject and talk about something else. 

However, on the way home I bring it up again with my husband, because it is a question that fascinates me: How exactly do people spend so much time online? What do they do?

I myself am no stranger to getting lost in the online world. I'd say I spend at least two hours on my computer every day, and that doesn't take phone time into account (if we're being honest here, that time probably doubles when I count all my time spent on Instagram). 

But as I was quick to point out to Richard, while I use the internet passively by reading and scrolling (aka "getting inspired" as I like to call it), I'm also an active contributor. 
Richard agreed, and even went one step further: "You create content for them to consume. You are a maker."

That's high praise from a man who is still deeply suspicious of the world wide web, and gave me a warm, happy glow.

I'm sure every blogger has had moments where we ask ourselves why we do it. We are all part of a never-stopping treadmill, churning out content that's quickly consumed and soon forgotten, just to be repeated the next day. There are probably millions of blogs out there - why even bother? Would it make a difference if I took mine off?

To the world, it obviously wouldn't. But how about yourself? I don't know about you, but to me my blog is a source of pride. Writing and creating content for this space gives me great pleasure and satisfaction. And the thing is: You never know where it will lead you. Blogs have inspired their creators to start their own businesses, become photographers, authors, web designers, teachers, entrepreneurs - the list goes on and on. 

Many of us set out in life on a pre-determined path: school, college, job. A straight road that would lead to a "normal" life: 9-5 in an office 5 times a week, and the weekends spent doing the activities that the people of this particular income bracket do: mowing the lawn, playing golf, going to the movies, raising 1.9 children. 

You may be totally content with this arrangement, and if you are, more power to you!
But what if you feel a bit restless? A bit bored and dissatisfied, without really knowing why? Something is off, but you can't put your finger to what it is.

There is a desire deep within you, so deep that you have trouble seeing what it is. But it is there. 

Here is the thing: Doing something new and different from your normal routing may unearth this desire. Starting a new hobby, writing a journal, picking up photography, or starting a blog may all help you to connect with your inner self.  

Elizabeth Gilbert "Big Magic"
  source


We live in a world where we love to watch other people live their lives. Reality TV and social media seduce us to lean back and be entertained, instead of entertaining ourselves.

We have become passive spectators instead of active participants. 

But we are missing out on so much by doing that! I find no pleasure in watching other people make mistakes and laughing about it. I'd rather make them myself. 

Because I always try to picture myself as a grey-haired old lady sitting in her rocking chair on the front porch in 50 years, thinking back on my life. You only remember the things you have actually done.  
The countless hours spent in front of a screen, be it TV, computer or phone, won't have any memory value unless you created something.  

Don't just be a spectator, be a creator! 

A creator of your own, unique life. 






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Monday, 25 January 2016

What growing my hair out has taught me



For most of my adult life I have had very short hair. Partly because it was easy; partly because I liked standing out in a sea of long-haired girls; but mostly because every attempt of growing it out failed spectacularly.
I would try regularly every 2-3 years, determined to see it through this time. Just as regularly I would give up, sometimes after a couple of months, sometimes after half a year - but I would give up eventually.

Three years ago I once again decided that I would give it a go. I was 33 years old, and had not had long hair since I was a child. I had the sudden feeling that now was my last chance if I ever wanted long hair - if I didn't manage it now, I never would.


After a particularly short pixie cut, I swore to myself that no scissors would come close to my head until I could tie my hair into a ponytail. 
This time, I kept my promise.

And I learnt quite a few surprising lessons along the way:

1. Patience
Nowadays most of us crave instant gratification. Gone are the days when we would have to wait for Christmas and birthdays if we wanted new clothes, books, or toys: Now we simply download music and books in an instant, or order it online to get it the next day. However, there are still things we have to work on and wait for, like losing weight, acquiring a new skill, or letting your hair grow.

2. Tomorrow you will wish you started yesterday
Embarking on a journey that you know will take years can seem so daunting, you may be tempted not to start at all. Trust me, I've been there. But time goes on, no matter what you do. You know how people always go on and on about "how time flies"? That's because it does. A year may seem long on day one, but day 365 will be here before you know it. You will thank yourself later for having started with the first step today!

3. Tenaciousness
There were about a hundred times when I wanted to cut my awkward in-between hair off. At one point it was constantly in my face, being in the way at work, and generally looking very scarecrow-ish. I disliked it immensely, and wanted nothing more than to chop it off.

Can you blame me?
But look how cute my tiny 8-week old Corgi was 

Thankfully, my stubborn streak kicked in. Whenever I was about to waver, a determination I didn't know I had would show up and make me hang in there. Knowing that this tenaciousness exists inside of me has helped me in a several other areas of my life as well!    

4. Visualization 
When you want something that you don't yet have, visualization is a great tool to help you get there. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to hair, and for the growing out phase I pinned long hairstyles frequently. Every time I was close to despair looking at the unruly mess on my head, I would pull out the images of girls whose hair I liked. "This will be me soon", I assured myself, and you know what? It really worked. 

5. Change is good
I had successfully convinced myself that short hair was my "thing". I have always admired women who rock short pixie cuts (still do), because there is something fierce and independent about them. It's so easy to hide behind long hair - literally and figuratively - and taking that protective layer away takes guts.
But in my case, it was the opposite. Short hair was my comfort zone, and stepping out of it was new and uncomfortable for me. There were all these new skills to learn: Straightening, curling, braiding, styling - it was a whole new world! One I had no experience in navigating.
But you know what? Change is fun! And trying out a new look keeps things fresh and exciting.

At the end of the day, hair is just hair. Long, short, grey, rainbow-coloured - whatever you decide to do with yours, have fun with it!
And if you look carefully, you might just pick up a few life lessons along the way like I did. ;-)




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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Before the rain



The other morning I woke up to brilliant sunshine. As I was standing by the window, waiting for the coffee to finish brewing, I watched the group of pigeons that hang out at our farm soar across the sky. They are wild pigeons who have settled down at our place (no doubt because of the free food), but who are such a joy to have around that we don't mind. They were having a great time. 
I swear, I could see their happiness to be alive from my kitchen window!

Their joy was so contagious that I didn't even drink my first cup of coffee, but headed outside in my pajamas to take some pictures.
Wouldn't you know it, an hour later the rain started and wouldn't stop for two days. 
I owe you one, my sweet pigeons! 






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Thursday, 21 January 2016

Style: Where the "magic" happens


Welcome to my office! I usually take my photos outside (the light is so much better), but it looks like the world is going to end today, so grey and miserable, I just couldn't. Add to that that I rearranged my office a bit and actually cleaned it for once, and I thought it's the perfect opportunity to show you the space where I do all my blogging and writing.
The second chair is ostensibly for my husband or any human who wants to watch TV with me, but is really for the corgi. She usually hangs out with me in here, and she takes the big chair, obviously.

Picture me in pj's instead of a dress, and you know what I do (and look like) every single day. My first cup of coffee is always sipped in this space, reading blogs and checking my emails. It's my morning ritual, and I love it!

I bought this dress in an effort to look a wee bit more put together than pajamas or yoga pants, and I actually wear it quite often. It's super comfy, especially if worn without a bra, which is how it's really done. I put one on just for the photos, which proves once again that bloggers make their lives look much more glamorous on their blogs than they are in real life.
Now, if I could just figure out a way how to make all those cords underneath my desk disappear ...


Dress: Old Navy (on sale right now!); socks: H&M (old; similar)








Linking up with Fashion Should Be FunA Pocketful of Polka DotsRachel The Hat and Jaymie Ashcraft


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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Nanny Phoebe



O-M-G guys, life is so busy. Not only do I have a job, a blog, a husband, a very demanding beauty routine (teeth don't brush themselves, now do they), but I also have two young kids who are in that difficult age where they want all the attention.
"Mom, can we go for a walk?"
"Mom, play with us!"
"Mom, feed us!"
"Mom, stop cuddling!" (Ouch, that one hurts. You are my babies!)
Not to mention the fights we have at bath time. They hate bath time. It's a struggle every time!

I'm not complaining (#soblessed), even though I could use some more support. For instance, would it kill my blog to help out more? Like pay the bills for instance? Seriously. Nobody ever warns you about blogs. "They are fun!", they say. "They will fulfil you!", they promise. While that may be true, it wouldn't be too difficult to pitch in a bit more, would it?

Well. While I may not be able to rely on my blog, I can rely on my nanny. In fact, I wouldn't know what I would do without her! 
In the beginning I was hesitant about having a live-in help. You always hear stories about husbands and nannies... 
Oh, but am I ever glad that I decided to give her a chance!
Nanny Phoebe has been an invaluable help with the kids. Thanks to her I can leave the little ones unsupervised for hours! 

Her approach is tough love. Sometimes a bit heavy on the tough, she doesn't believe in coddling children. 

 "Put that down this instance!"



Can you blame her? They are a hand full.
Particularly that young, lanky one. 


But Nanny Phoebe can handle it. She always keeps a steady eye on them. 


The neighbour lady agrees: "That nanny is a saint! So much patience. Their mother is lucky to have her."

Indeed, I am. Nanny Phoebe, I love you!






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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

How to publish a book



You may know that I self-published a book last month. If you would have told me that two months ago, I would have burst into loud laughter and asked you if you'd had one too many. 

I knew nothing about book publishing. I have no friends or family working in publishing, and have a completely unrelated job to this world. And yet, the time we live in is full of possibilities, and thanks to the internet I figured out a way. 

Today I want to share how I managed to get my words from my computer out into the world in form of an eBook and a real book.  

It's all thanks to one company: Blurb
Blurb is a book-printing company that not only produces high-quality photo bookstrade bookseBooks and magazines, but who also help you to sell and distribute your book. 

There is a lot of information on their website, and it can get pretty confusing when you have never done it before. I will take you through the process of how I made my book step-by-step, just in case you want to make your own, okay?

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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Sometimes life sucks. But you don't.


I almost beat someone up yesterday. 

Myself.

This week really got away from me. I haven't done any yoga since Tuesday, my Instagram account feels neglected (it has feelings, and they are hurt), the house is a mess, and my eating habits have been atrocious. When I got home from work last night tired, sluggish, and full of guilt and slight panic, I got close to finishing myself off with a classic putting-myself-down tirade:

If you were better organized, you could have exercised every day. 
Aren't you the one telling people to get up early for their passions? Why haven't you done it?
Look at the mess here. 
Are you reverting back to your carb-addicted days? I thought you know better? Why are you so weak and lazy?

And that's just the warm-up. My inner critic was ready to pounce, to kick her opponent who was already on the floor, and finish her off.

But then, thankfully, a knight in shining armour appeared and saved me: Compassion. For myself. Who woulda thought?

I sternly told my inner voice to shut the hell up and cut me some slack. She was so shocked about this outburst, she was speechless. Perfect. Exactly what I wanted.

Here is the thing: We can't always win at life. Some days (or weeks) it will get the better of us. All we can do is roll with the punches, and remind ourselves that we do the best we can.
Sometimes pizza wins out over salad, a third (or fourth) glass of wine seems like an excellent idea, and Netflix looks so much more attractive than the yoga mat. It's okay. We are human, and humans are flawed individuals, stitched together with good intentions. (Who said that? I've always loved that quote.)

What's interesting is that I noticed several unusual culprits that triggered my guilt complex, and that I ended up having to avoid in order to save my sanity:

Instagram. 
Usually my motivation and cheering squad, I found that seeing everybody [I follow] doing #yogaeverydamnday did nothing but make me feel bad about myself. Sorry Insta, I needed a break from you these last few days. It's not you, it's me.*

*It's totally you. 

Self-help books.
Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but self-help books more often than not make me feel inadequate. I'm currently reading Better Than Before, which is very popular and praised as a life-changing and life-improving book. 
All it did yesterday was making me regret not using my "fresh slates" in a more productive way: Both the new year and the new work schedule were prime opportunities to start healthy new habits, and what have I done? Eaten my weight in pizza, not worked out, not de-cluttered, and now worried that not only did I miss the boat on great new habits, but on the contrary, having started on a path of bad habits that will be nearly impossible to break. This book does terrible things to my mental health.

Other people.
The whole world seems to be on a detox or Whole 30, and I'm just over here, not doing these things.
Which is of course totally my fault choice, but still - I have healthy eating-FOMO. 
I blame it all on leftover Christmas chocolates and winter. 

Let's leave on a positive note, okay?
Anybody can start fresh on January 1st. (Well, apparently not. I can't. But you know what I'm trying to say.)
But have you heard that January 17 is the new New Year? I'm totally re-starting healthy habits today.
I packed a salad for lunch, brought Greek yogurt and a grapefruit for a snack, and finished all the chocolate in the house. Ha!
January 17, you and I got this.

Happy Sunday!

    



 
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