Change out of contentment
I read a great article (German) about how important it is to let go of the „in order to“. Meaning, letting go of doing things that we think are necessary to achieve something. It’s a chase for the right job / partner / city that will finally allow us to be happy / be different / focus on what we really want to do.
We „have to“ switch city/job/partner so that the life we really want can finally begin. It’s so easy to fall into this line of thinking that we mustn’t be content what actually is just because it doesn’t really match our idea of how things should be.
I caught myself a while ago thinking that if I allowed myself to accept my situation then that would mean it couldn’t change. This place I chose was only supposed to be a temporary thing from the start! What if I allow myself to find anything good here, and get so content that I won’t want to leave anymore?! That would be terrible because I wanted something else, right!?
Somehow I was still attached to that notion that change can only be born out of dissatisfaction. That is not true. In reality, we receive what we send out into the world. From my experience we’re usually just not very conscious of what it is that we’re actually sending out. It’s not so much the words or actions but the energy/intentions behind them. Loving change is great, life is change! However, if we initiate change out of a sense of discontentment, then the result will be more discontentment.
And vice versa: when we allow ourselves to find the gold in what we have in front of us, allow ourselves to see how this is exactly what we need, while also allowing ourselves to dream and wish for things, then change will come on its own accord. In the meantime we get to enjoy a rich and fulfilling life.
When my trip around the world turned out to be something different from what I had imagined, it took me a while to understand that what was going on was simply that my underlying quest (finding out what I really wanted to do with my life, finding the home within and out there) had been answered a lot faster than I had anticipated. Continuing the trip would only have meant holding on to the form I had started out with.
And still things turned out differently. All of the three places that feel like home to me suddenly seemed impossible. When I came to my grandpa’s house – to get the rest of my stuff, as I thought – this place seemed like a very doable quick fix. An empty house where I could focus on my business. Doesn’t get any faster and easier, right!? I was really sick of living out of a suitcase by that time, so I went for it.
As you know, things went differently. I was suddenly facing a reality that had nothing to do with my preconception. Nothing was easy. I was devastated, thinking „The only reason I came here was because I wanted to make things easy for myself! If I had known, that things would be hard anywhere I turn because it’s my inner barriers, I never would have chosen this place!“
I had somehow managed to make choices out of my wishes while at the same time still chasing ideas of how things were supposed to be in order for me to allow myself to be content. Ever since I understood that everything hasn’t been easy but I’ve been able to meet my own resistance with more compassion.
And that makes all the difference. It’s really all it takes to make a new flow possible. It’s because I don’t feel attached to anything around here, I am suddenly able to make decisions without the pressure of expectations regarding the outcome. For instance, when I saw that my favorite café in town was hiring, I just went and introduced myself. Just like that. Now I work there.
Not too long ago I would have let myself be stopped by the thought that it’s pointless to apply for a job in a place where I have no intention of staying. Let alone something I am overqualified for! And wasn’t I done with employment anyway? Wasn’t I supposed to just focus on my business? That, my friends, is discontentment at its finest. It makes life here and now miserable and almost impossible.
What I would have missed out on, if I had let myself be stopped by this line of thinking: balancing my own work with something where I don’t spend any time in front of the computer screen is a blessing! The time I am spending at the café is not time that I don’t have for my business. Honestly, when I have an entire day to myself, I don’t spend 100% of it being productive or creative. Most of the time goes towards worrying and procrastinating (amazing how in reality the time for being productive is always way less than I want yet always perfectly sufficient). I get to meet people, nice ones, too! I get to make use of my ability to make others feel seen and taken care of. I get to learn new things. That is contentment. Here and now. Not one fine day in tomorrowland.
And since there is my wish for other places, I can’t even fall for the illusion that this is The Job I need to „make sacrifices“ for. So I tried something I haven’t before: negotiating. I expressed that a different form of employment would be a better combo with my own work. I also decided to be honest about my concern: That I enjoyed the work but that I was still thinking about moving because I felt that home was somewhere else. I never would have done that in the past but it was so worth it. And guess what: no problems.
While I don’t need to convince myself or anyone else that I am intending to stay for very long, I still get to unpack my inner boxes so to say, and accept the fact that I am here now. And it’s ok to nest a little on the outside, too. I went to IKEA a few days ago and got some office supplies, throow pillows and picture frames. Up until now I’ve been telling myself „No, don’t start piling up stuff that you need to move, you’re not staying!“. But the fact is that that only made me feel more out of place than I already did. If I already don’t feel at home, it’s all the more important to have a little oasis that is me, and that is home!
And when it comes to what to fill our lives with: the things we really want to do with our life are very rarely tied to a specific place. Or any other prerequisites. No „in order to“, either. Photography, writing, drawing, being creative, healing – those are the things I want to fill my life and this world with. Just because. Of course, I am focusing on making my heart’s desires my business. The trick is just not to fall for the illusion that joy is only worth living when we’re being paid for it. That’s bs, it’s the „in order to“ illusion.
Just like making it dependent on one’s mood, fears or other emotions. I can’t, I don’t want to, It’s impossible – those three will always be there. They are truly the beginning of everything we desire from the depths of our heart.
The right life is not the perfect life (= the one where circumstances are ideal). The right life is the one where we opt for our heart’s desires – and the circumstances that come with it (or, as Elisabeth Gilbert puts is in Big Magic the „shit sandwich“ that comes with it). Simply the one, that makes us face all the can’ts, don’twanttos, impossibles. Again and again.
Speak the language of your inner child, listen to your inner critic and take the couch potato along for the ride – How to motivate yourself in 6 steps
I’ve found a bunch of pretty fabrics in the attic, which have just been lying around since they seemed to precious to use (a habit that I’m glad I ditched – beautiful things are for using, not to be left to a slow and invisible death in a box in the attic!). Seeing them instantly made me want to sew something. Then came the inevitable „I really should do something with these fabrics!“
1. Know yourself.
That’s how it goes, right? „It would be nice to do …“ turns into „I really should be doing …“ Add a „because it’s good for you“ and the whole thing’s dead. For me anyway. I blame the inner child. She rejects anything „good“ (or „healthy“) by default, not even to mention the „musts“. It doesn’t even matter that it’s fun things. So how to deal with that?
2. You don’t need to change your goals, just change the course.
I don’t know about you but I can never win over my inner child. And that’s really a good thing, since she’s actually me! The way I see it, it’s about finding a way to win myself over. I don’t need to want make myself want something else, I just need to use different words and phrases. In child language, things are simply how they are. I would like something made out of my precious fabrics, and I love being surrounded by things made by me. Not because that’s „good for me“, or „handmade“ or any other grown up word. The real reason is the one that is completely justified by kid logic: because. It’s just what I want.
3. Make it easy for yourself.
Maybe you think that should be enough motivation to get going. Ha! So not. It’s not just your inner child you need to get on board with your plans. There’s that couch potato, too. And words aren’t enough to get her going. With my sewing project I ended up booking a class. I know myself enough to know that when I sign up for something, I’ll show up. Especially when I paid in advance! The couch potato may not be completely sold at that point, but it’s a first step.
4. Don’t wait for the couch potato to disappear. Just bring her along.
My inner couch potato obviously did not feel like going to the sewing class when the day came. When I explained that she could just tag along, and not feel like going all the way there, and all the way through class feel like not doing anything, she finally caved. After two days of sewing classes (and yes, the couch potato me didn’t feel like going the second day, either), I had fixed the hem of a favorite dress which had been ripped years ago, made three pillow cases, and learned a ton of stuff about sewing technique. Plus I realized that I prefer my amateur way ignoring technique for the most part and simply do it the way I feel. Too lazy to be a perfectionist.
5. Be proud of yourself.
The dress may be repaired but it has been too big for ages, the pillow cases may be pretty but honestly, I could have saved myself the trouble and just gone and bought some for the money of the class. That is the inner critic’s evaluation of this outing. Of course she had to put her two cents in, that’s what she’s there for. That’s also why I don’t beat myself up over her judgement but I keep in mind that she always finds fault with everything. It’s her job. Luckily there’s that inner child, too. The part of me that adores everything I do, and that sees the good in everything. My inner child was excited that the dress could be worn again – whether by me or anyone else didn’t matter. My inner child loved the pillow cases, and found the priceless, of course – because it was I who made them exactly how I wanted them! Which store sells that?!
6. Share your genuine appreciation.
Genuinely appreciating what we ourselves created is really a way of acknowledging that something was not so much created by us but through us. Technically that’s gratitude. That is something entirely different from demanding others‘ approval, which stems from doubt. When we doubt that something amazing can come into the world through us, it’s because we are under the illusion that what we do is our work alone.
This is inner critic territory: we could make a fool of ourselves, come off as bragging, be crushed by others‘ judgement or on the other hand define ourselves by our accomplishments and become addicted to others‘ praise.
The inner child is connected to the truth: she just wants to show the world the miracle that worked its way into the world through her hands. Not because she’s wondering what the others think of it, or because she wants to „accomplish“ anything beyond her work. It doesn’t even cross the inner child’s mind that her own assessment of her work could be separated from the world’s, that her value as a being could somehow depend on her „accomplishment“, or that she could have any hidden agenda. She is simply amazed by what sprang from her imagination into this physical world. She wants nothing other than sharing her appreciation for that. Nothing to do with being „immodest“ or „show-offy“ or desperate to be liked. It’s a form of expressing gratitude.
And whatever we express gratitude for, we receive more of. That is good soil for future motivation. So let’s be genuine and share our appreciation. In all areas of life.
Under my umbrella| When nothing’s easy
I am slowly coming out from underneath that rock I’d withdrawn to. I came back to Germany with my head full of ideas, and I was so excited to register my business here. It was a very special day for me. And all just to undo everything a few days later, plus deactivate everything I had put up on my etsy shop. That was hard.
And yes, there is this part of me that would like to see itself as the victim of circumstances, that would like to tell you a story of all the injustice I have endured, a story of who is to blame for what, and why I it’s not my fault that life ist just not going the way I want it to right now.
And there is this part that doesn’t want to say anything at all. That wants to just pretend nothing happened, and wait this one out until I have a sunnier story to tell.
Fortunately there’s also this part of me that knows that I am really not interested in either of those two alternatives. The part that knows that I am really interested in being myself and sharing that with you. Not justifying but not hiding either.
The world out there is not to blame – it’s just a mirror
That is also the part that calls bullshit when I feel abused by others. The part that knows that life can throw some nasty stuff our way but that the truth remains: all that stuff comes from our inside. The world out there is just mirroring what’s going on in here. When I remember that, life suddenly becomes a different game.
You can’t choose the weather but you can choose whether you go outside or stay in
That is also the part of me that wants to continue to share my story after a period of withdrawing from it. The part that feels that you don’t need to pretend that it’s not raining but that you don’t need to leave the house without your umbrella, just to prove that the weather is terrible.
That’s the point, right? We don’t control the weather (or the circumstances) but we get to decide whether we want to leave the house or not. Whether we spend our energy insisting that rain is terrible or whether we spend it figuring out what to do with what life is offering us at that moment,
Ignoring barriers is more painful than acknowledging them
My inner barriers that revealed themselves over the past couple of weeks are reminding me that sometimes there is no easy way. Sometimes all we can do is acknowledge that. Ignoring this fact is more painful and also less meaningful than embracing the situation. Instead we should be patting ourselves on our bruised little head, telling ourselves „It is what it is. I am having a hard time with this, and that’s ok.“ Being kind to ourselves often takes down huge parts of the barrier. It’s the umbrella in the rain so to say.
I know I am not alone with this. When I scroll down my social media feeds (which I have to admit I don’t do very much these days), I see that many of you are dealing with something similar. It’s comforting reminder: we’re all in this together. That’s the umbrella we hold for each other – when we share what we’re going through.
Sending you hugs and lots of LOVE,
PS: Photo credit to the lovely La who took this winter fairy pic of me. That’s a pretty good umbrella, too: just go out into the woods with your bestie and act like the fairy (and/or elf) you really are.
Finding the home within and in this world
In the days between the years I like to look back on the past year. I go over what I am grateful for, what challenges I encountered, what I am proud of, and what I would like to get better at in the future. And then I dream and think freely about what I want to experience next year.
A rich year full of unexpected answers that were there all along
2017 was an incredibly rich year – rich in experiences, meeting wonderful people, great views into the distance from mountain tops, and insights into the depth of my own being. In short: it was everything I wanted, because that’s what I live for. I decided to travel. For one thing, because I simply like to travel, but also because at the beginning of the year I did not feel at home anywhere. I wanted to use the trip as an opportunity to get to know myself better, find out what I wanted to do and find my new home.
I received the answers to my questions during the trip, much earlier than I had anticipated. And they were both unexpected and at the same time always there, deep down in my heart.
The biggest challenge
I discovered that I am both bolder and more sensitive than I thought. That I enjoy being visible, and that I can easily see the good in others. That I have so much to give, and that I can give the most when I follow the flow of the moment. That these are good qualities as a photographer, crystal healer and artist. That these are also good qualities as an employee. That I feel comfortable in all of these roles. That I like closeness and at the same time like to spend a lot of time with myself. That I can face great challenges. That I never run away from them, that I always want to master them. That, too, I think is a great quality. It gives me confidence to know that I can do that. But I also really enjoyed going the other way. The one on which everything flows with ease and joy. The path that makes my heart sing. The challenge here is to trust that all the practical details will be solved once we dare to commit to this path, even if we can not yet see how in the beginning. And that they can be solved with ease.
2018 – Focus on the path that makes your heart sing
Next year, I want to focus even more on this challenge. I want to do more of what makes my heart sing. Listen even more to the voice in me that say „Oh yes!“. With or without explanation. This is the way home on the inside.
The way home on the outer level has revealed itself to be part of this inner journey. Again, the answer was unexpected and yet it was there all along. There is a place that makes my heart sing when I think of it. It is a small town on the east coast of Sweden. Life is wonderful that way, isn’t it? I am very curious to see how everything will pan out in the new year.
If you have tips for me, which work place in Sundsvall and surroundings might appreciate my above named qualities, I would be very happy to hear from you.
On wishing and visualizing
Sometimes I make a wish, and I only become aware later of what that wish actually meant. I become aware of it when I experience its fulfillment.
Like now on this trip: I keep seeing my wishes getting fulfilled constantly, and how in a way their fulfillment is different from what I had thought yet at the same time exactly what I wished for.
The tree house epiphany
I had a moment like that today when Frida’s fiancé Jason told me the story behind his tree house. I suddenly remembered how I had written a sort of wish list before I started my journey, places I wanted to go, what I wanted to see and experience. There was a tree house on that wish list, one by a very specific person, so that’s why I didn’t recognize this one at once as the tree house from my wish list. But as I heard Jason speak about his tree house, and realized how well thought out every single detail about it really is, that this is truly the manifestation of a great vision, I suddenly remembered that that was how I had perceived the tree house on my wish list. I saw that that was what had fascinated me, and had been the reason I wanted to see that particular tree house. In that sense my wish had been granted, even though I didn’t end up seeing that specific tree house or meet that specific builder from my visualization.
You get what you imagine
In my experience that’s how wishing and visualization works: you literally get what you wish for, what you imagine. Not literally in the sense that it is in accordance with the words you use but something that corresponds with the feeling your visualization evokes in you. That’s why it sometimes takes me a while to realize that what I am experiencing is exactly what I wished for.
It’s been like this with every stop of my trip so far – on the outside they all may have looked differently from what I’d envisioned beforehand, but the feel was the same as in my visualizations. The more detailed I imagined what I wanted, the stronger the resemblance.
Ever since I understood this, I sometimes check in to see what happened to the things I imagined and wished for. And I am at this point amazed at how it takes less and less time for my visualized wishes to become true – and that any deviation from what I really want is always due to me missing a detail in the visualization or the description of my wish.
It’s our limited view that keeps us from seeing that things are in alignment with the big picture
At the same time I can see how there is a deeper wisdom at work here, too. That even though the deviations might disappoint me for a moment when I realize, „Oh, I forgot to be specific about this, so that’s why it turned out like that“ it always turns out that the way things do pan out is exactly right, that it is in alignment with the big picture. That it’s just my restricted perspective at the time that keeps me from seeing that.
Doing the right thing?
I used to worry a lot more about whether I was doing „the right“ thing. I constantly felt like I wasn’t living up to my potential, that I was doing something wrong for not being better than I was. When I came to understand that there is that bigger picture, that we come into our lives with a certain plan, and that even though there is room for variations on the details, it’s not possible to „fail“ in the sense that we don’t do what we’re here to do. So then when I started worrying I comforted myself that „Either you did the right thing or it didn’t matter that much“.
What if our „forgivable mistakes“ are not even mistakes?
I am not so sure about that notion anymore now either. What if it’s even better than that? What if the things I have taken for forgivable mistakes aren’t even mistakes, either? What if everything is exactly as it is supposed to – all the time? What if it’s only my limited view of things that keeps me from seeing that? For I am experiencing more and more how, even though, yes, I do forget to consider certain details when I wish for things or imagine my future, it always turns out to be exactly what I need when taking a look at the larger scheme of things.
On being needy and recognizing our needs | The VBA Part 1
Something very nice happened to me: I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, by Katey from femenish.com. It’s a little funny because the other day when I checked out her blog, I saw that she had written a post on having been nominated for a blogging award, and how it was such a pleasant surprise for her, since she’d only been blogging for a month. That triggered me because I have been blogging for four years (on and off, but still) and I have never been nominated for anything! So I kind of just shut my computer before I even finished reading that post. If I had continued reading, I would have seen that Kat had nominated me.
I thought, „Oh, this is just your insatiable need for others‘ validation when you should be the one appreciating your own worth. Work on that instead of hoping that someone else will come along and tell you how wonderful you are.“ And I do believe that’s true, others‘ approval will never fill our need to feel good about ourselves and what we do, if we can’t also feel that within ourselves. But here’s the thing: I have a tendency to dismiss entire concepts pretty hastily when there’s really only bits that need adjusting.
When I received a message from Katey telling me that she’d nominated me, of course that made me happy, but I was still feeling conflicted about this. Part of me was going „These type of blogger awards are dumb, it’s just people telling other people how great they are in hopes of having others tell them how great they are. That’s what’s so annoying about social media, so little of what is shared is genuine appreciation or shared from wanting to inspire or be of service, most of it is just a cry for approval from others“.
Accepting that you need others, and that others do want to support you is a greater experience than trying to play the lone wolf
Usually that’s where I close that topic but that day a new voice spoke up, and suddenly the conversation in my head took on a different spin:
„People cheering others on, and wanting others to cheer them on – what is so dumb about that? It’s really wonderful actually because, guess what, if you’re waiting for the day where you become this island, where you don’t need anybody else anymore, nobody’s opinion affects you, you’re fully self-sufficient, that day will never come. And besides, why would you even want that? Being needy is part of the human experience, and yes, it’s great to be aware that others can’t fill the hole of low self-esteem, but whatever happened to kindness towards yourself? Maybe accepting your neediness and appreciating that others encouragement means something to you, and that it exists, maybe that is a much greater experience than that lone wolf thing you’ve been trying to pull off.“
Suddenly I could understand why the neediness I so often observed on social media had bothered me so much (and also: why I was seeing it everywhere). It was my own neediness, or rather: my rejection of the fact that I, too, need other people’s support and encouragement.
We can’t dump our issues on others but if we are willing to deal with them ourselves, there are ways for others to support us
I believe that it takes both: we can’t just take our baggage and dump it on somebody. That always backfires, either immediately when we are disappointed that we didn’t get the reaction we hoped for or in the long run. If we find someone who is willing to take our crap and bear it for us, we will eventually be forced to deal with guilt and a sense of powerlessness. But if we are willing to do the work it takes to deal with our own issues, then there are ways for others to genuinely support us. If we turn to others, not blackmailing them emotionally to save us but rather communicating honestly what we’re dealing with, that gives others a chance to be there for us, not as the hostage of our emotions but as our witness.
Being your own witness is the first and most important step. I also know that sometimes it’s not enough for me to see my own mess. I need for at least one friend (or a friendly person) to see it, too. Not to do anything about it – just seeing it, that is all the doing it takes. I don’t think we can or should get rid of that need. It’s usually the attempt to do so that turns us into that annoying needy person. The emotions we’re trying to bottle up (so that we don’t burden others) are forcing their way out and blow up in someones face. And sometimes we have to be ok with that, too.
Here’s to cheering each other on, and here’s to witnessing ourselves and others in all our glory and all our mess. Here’s to knowing that we need each other and knowing that we also have something to offer each other.
Thank you, Katey, for cheering me on with this nomination!
That’s rule #1 btw: when you’re nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, thank the person who nominated you. In the spirit of keeping things a little not so extremely long anymore, I divvied up this blog post on the VBA. So, if you want to know what this award is about, which 15 bloggers inspire me (that’s rule #2 btw), and which 7 things I want Katey to know about me (rule #3), I have two more posts coming up on each of those. I can hardly believe that this turned into such a big thing but it did! It took me several days just to write the post about which bloggers inspire me. My own „fault“ since I wanted to write a little about what inspires me about them – now I know why that’s not in the rules. It’s extremely time-consuming! But I this was the most important part to me, so no regrets for making that time.
On walking and stumbling
In my last blog I wrote that this is happy although it’s not a constant walk in the park. My coach gave me a picture that I like even better. She suggested that I am at a stage in my life right now where new spaces have opened up, I have entered a new room, and I don’t really know yet how everything works around here. It’s a very good picture because I am going through what feels like extreme mood shifts at the moment, which is the not knowing my way around here part. Sometimes I strike gold, and everything just works, sometimes … not so much.
After I wrote that last blog post, I felt so full of life and energy, that everything seemed to be humming. I recognized this feeling, it doesn’t feel like I am merely being euphoric, it feels like I am in the center of my being, like I am the most me I can be. Yet at this point, I am still not used to being so fully me. There’s still this part that doubts it, and that is basically just waiting for something to show up that it can interpret as proof that this isn’t real. Of course, when you’re waiting for something like that, it’ll show up. And then it’s easy to fall back into other old habits, like criticizing yourself, analyzing everything you’ve done „wrong“, how you could have prevented this, yadah yadah yadah …
This morning, when I was sitting with this question of when things had shifted yesterday, what caused it, what I should have done, and how I could get back to the top again today, it suddenly occurred to me that what I was doing was kind of like putting a kid in a corner for doing something wrong, and telling it that it has to make things right in order to be allowed out of that corner. Now I don’t have any kids but somehow I don’t believe that this parenting style actually works. So if I believe that, why on earth would I think this could work on me or anyone?!
Then I remembered what I do believe in: that the answer to getting out from under something is to get the right perspective on it. I returned to Irka’s analogy of me having entered a new room. And I remembered how I had answered her that I felt like I was taking my first steps on this planet, even though I know that technically I’m 34.
And there it was, the answer: when you learn how to walk as a kid, you don’t do it by analyzing what you do wrong when you fall. You learn how to walk by walking, and stubbornly insisting on doing so no matter how many times you fall. In fact, I feel like we should be celebrating our stumbling and falling to the ground a lot more. It means we’re walking, instead of sitting in a corner, too afraid to even try because we might not get it right the first time.
Here’s to walking and stumbling, to allowing ourselves to enjoy the highs of when we get it right, and to cheering ourselves on when we fall.
On the home within
I have been thinking about how I wanted to make my blog a travel blog and post pictures of the places I’m visiting, and talk about my adventures. And I think that’s where a misconception entered the stage: I suddenly had this idea that I couldn’t talk about what was really going on with me anymore. Plus, after redoing my website so that it also serves to showcase my work, this had suddenly become „a serious place“, where I didn’t feel like I could just „put stuff out there“ anymore. But what stopped me above all was this thought „You get to do all these wonderful things and see all these wonderful places – you have no right to feel bad about anything, let alone speak about that. That is just complaining, and besides, it would worry your mom so much if she read this.“ So I kind of stopped writing.
Change – It’s never about the situation but always your perspective
As you can tell, something has changed, and as always, it’s not the situation but my perspective. Yes, this trip is a big deal, especially right now where it’s still shiny and new (although it’s really not, I have been living out of my backpack since February) so of course there are and will be pictures of the places I am visiting. However, and this isn’t much of a surprise to those of you who know me: it’s the inner journey that I am much more interested in. So in that sense, I don’t think this blog will ever change. It will always be about what I am going through because it’s the only thing I can write about with passion. Not because I am such an egotistical or narcissistic person but because my perspective on life is the only one I can speak about with confidence. Or, as Thoreau put it in his foreword to Walden:
„In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this [Walden] it will be retained; that in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.“
What happened to the Blog title anyway? Why I dropped Road to Walden.
My trip around the world – Why the beginning has been a shock
So, yes, I do get to do a lot of wonderful things, see all these amazing places, meet people who are truly kind and generous to me. And still, the beginning of this trip has been a shock. Simply because this journey is something different from what I thought it would be. When I decided to do this after my separation last year, I thought I wanted to explore the world, see some friends that I hadn’t in a long time, and figure out what I want to do with my life because all I knew was that I couldn’t continue the path I had been on. I had painted myself in a corner, and it was time to get out of it.
When I came to Amritabha, it was to get to know myself better, which I did. One of the big realizations I had there was acknowledging the truth that going on this trip also had a lot to do with running away from myself. I’ve written about this before, and I probably will keep writing about this because it’s what everything I am going through at the moment seems to revolve around. Credit where credit is due, I didn’t just have this realization that I was running away from myself. Jaruh, spiritual teacher and Amritabha resident, pointed that out to me. Of course that didn’t go down smoothly at first, I was deeply offended and rejecting the idea at the time. I wrote about that and why I changed my mind here.
Stop running away from yourself and find the home within instead
Once I was over being offended and able to see the truth of his observation, I thought, „OK, then I’m going to make this trip about not running away anymore. I am going to make this about finding the comfort and security that I’ve been seeking in other people and external factors (e. g. long-term employment). I know that this kind of security does not exist „out there“, it’s in me, and I am going to make this trip about finding it, so that I can feel at home wherever I am – and so that I will be able to settle in a place (and a relationship) eventually without burdening my future partner and my environment with the demand to make me happy and provide that security that only can come from withing.“
2016 | The year the seed for this trip was planted
Well, as always: be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. And it might look very differently from what you might have expected. It usually does for me anyways. This reminds me of the beginning of 2016, when I read Agni’s prediction (I think it was his anyway) that this would be a year of healing. I thought „Oh that sounds great!“ I also wrote three words in big bold letters that I put on my altar, because they were qualities that I thought were desirable, and I wanted the poster to help me focus on them. The words were „Happiness – Courage – Trust“.
Healing sometimes means acknowledging pain
Guess what happened that year? It presented me with plenty of situations where healing did happen – by old pain finally coming to the surface, sometimes with violent force. It was a year that presented me with many situations where I needed to be courageous. It gave me ample opportunity to practice trust, because there was nothing else left. Much of what happened that year was a shock, and not at all what I had in mind when I wrote those words or heard the term „year of healing“: panic attacks forcing me to face the fact that I was burnt-out, my employer insinuating to my doctor that I was pretending to be ill, realizing that I needed to break up the relationship with the man I had been with for almost nine years and whom I had tied the knot with just three months earlier.
Happiness amidst the pain
And amidst all that, yes, there was happiness, too. Big time. I did the crystal healer training with Dauri Neumann. It was such a milestone for me: not only did I realize that I was so much more perceptive and able to follow my intuition than I had thought. It also showed me that that part of me is always working, always functioning, even when I was so overwhelmed physically and mentally that grocery shopping seemed like an insurmountable task even with a shopping list. This training also showed me that I hadn’t just „become“ a healer but rather that being a healer was a huge part of me that had already been there, I had just unveiled it.
Intuition | That thing that always works, no matter what the circumstances
In between the training blocks we were supposed to practice by giving healing. I have a tendency to doubt my own abilities but somehow I had no problem renting a treatment room at Butik Ametist, the local esoteric shop run by the lovely Therese. With just the right amount of trust and naivete I just created a Facebook event, asked Therese if she’d share it on her business page (which she did), and asked my spiritual helpers to send the people to me whom I’d be able to help. My first day I ended up giving five treatments back to back, realizing that four with a few breaks in between probably would have been better but hey: I was just so stoked that people actually were interested in what I had to offer. And that the whole time I could feel the same certainty that I felt during the training: this is me, I can do this. I cannot even remember ever having felt this way before in my life. I had always been the type who excelled while simultaneously struggling with self-doubt. Doing something while also feeling that I was capable of it – that had never happened. So, yes, this was definitely a big fat happy moment of that year.
My wedding | Not a lie, just different from what I thought it was
As strange as it may sound: so was the wedding. There was never a moment, even during the break-up, where I felt like it had been a lie or where I could see how something had felt wrong that day (or that week, we had so many friends and family coming pretty early that it felt like a week-long celebration). It simply wasn’t what I thought it had been. I think it was a celebration of all the love Peter and I had in our life at that time, and I think it opened my heart to accepting the truth that I was holding on to our love for the wrong reason, which was fear. Fear of there not being any love in my life except for this one. And between the fear that there might not be any other love, and the truth that we were just not compatible as a couple, the fear had always won. The wedding showed me how loved I was, am. Like I said, I think this was needed for me to be able to face the truth and let go.
Truth | Sometimes happy and painful are all rolled up into one
And that is maybe the most important „happy“ of that year: acknowledging the truth. I remember how in the middle of the pain and the shock of the realization of this truth that we had been in denial about, I could feel that finally all was well again. That while this was not how I wanted for things to turn out, that was exactly what had caused the suffering: putting all my energy into forcing something (or someone) to be something it wasn’t. Truth is happiness because truth is allowing people and things to be who and what they are.
Not living our truth is what makes us unhappy
I meditate on the mantra „I am happy, I am love, I am light“ in the mornings. And although I cannot claim that I feel this at all times during the day (well duh, if I did, I didn’t need to meditate), I believe 100% in the truth of this mantra. Happiness is at the core of our being. At the same time, we are here as very specific beings, with different qualities. What makes us live out that happiness is different for everyone. It’s when we deny ourselves to express our individual happiness (and most often we make others, especially our loved ones, the excuse for not living ourselves) that we „fall out“ of our truth, and that makes us miserable. When we broke up, we were facing the fact that we had been doing that for a long time. And that was already living our truth again, which is why I could feel how everything was well again at what might seem like the lowest point.
Coming full circle | What last year’s lessons have to do with today
As I am writing this, there’s part of me wondering „OK, where are you going with this? This is just another one of your rants, and how many times are you going to keep retelling yourself the story of 2016? What does this have to do with anything right now?“ And I guess part of it is true: I like to rant, I cannot for the love of me keep things short, I get side-tracked, and lost in details (it does help me get to the core of things, though). But aside from that, there are actual reasons for why all this 2016 stuff is coming up again:
1. Sometimes it’s not a question of love whether you can build a life together
It was pretty much exactly a ago that Peter and I broke up. In fact, right about now must have been the time when we went through the phase were we were constantly crying, talking about everything, and when I was wondering how it was possible that there could be so much love between two people and yet that didn’t change the fact that there was nothing to put back together, that this was still the end not a new beginning, at least not together.
2. Deciding to do things differently doesn’t mean you instantly know how to do it
Because even though I kept telling everyone that asked me when I was starting my trip, that it had already begun, I too, must have had ideas about the significance of the external journey, especially the part that was leading me farther away, to the other side of the world so to say. So now that that part has begun, I am confronted with the reality that so far I have been able to comprehend but maybe not feel right down to the bones: that it’s all one journey, my entire life. That the decision I made last year to leave the path of self-denial and misery was only the first step.
It might seem like I have come far since then but in some ways it’s mostly the physical mileage. Because taking that step didn’t mean that I instantly knew how to live any other way. It’s a learning process. Here I am, moving from place to place on the outside, and it’s making one thing very clear: you still have to take the steps on the inside. You will find yourself in the same kinds of situations no matter where you go for as long as it take for you to learn how to do things differently. This is where the running away part and the making myself at home on the inside comes into play. Because as wonderful and amazing everything and everyone is, I am being confronted with situations where I feel so out of place and home-less that it physically hurts sometimes.
3. When you desire a certain quality, life will probably not just hand it over to you but present you with the opportunity to do cultivate it yourself
This brings me back to the beginning of 2016, where I put those words happiness, courage and trust on my altar: life presented me with situations that helped me cultivate those qualities then, because I had wished for them. Life is now presenting me with situations that I believe are exactly what I need in order to find home within. There is no other way to find it than to be confronted with situations where it’s impossible to fool myself into believing that „I’ve found it out there“. I suppose finding myself in situations where the sense of not belonging is so strong that it sometimes hurts is just a way of making sure I’ll get there fast, so that I won’t be spending the entire trip being homesick and trying to chase an illusion that maybe there is a place after all where everything will feel right …
True isn’t always the same as Easy but Untrue always leads to Dis-ease
That’s where another aspect ties in with 2016: this is happy even though it doesn’t feel like a walk in the park at all times because I am being true to myself, just like I was then. True is still not the same as Always Easy but I’d pick True on any day of the week over the dis-ease that comes from avoiding it. True is hard sometimes, if it weren’t then why would we avoid it. But the hard part is really the fear of the unknown, it’s never really the unknown.
Change takes time, setbacks are part of the learning process
It’s still pretty recent that I quit looking for home and stability „out there“, and making my choices at the expense of True. So if that is how I’d been used to living for 30 plus years, it’s not so strange that I still catch myself from time to time blaming circumstances for my feeling of „homelessness“. It’s simply conditioning, that’s all. When I see it that way, I can appreciate what a big accomplishment it is that I can interpret my homesickness correctly. I know that whenever I feel it, it doesn’t mean I am missing a certain place. It means that I am not in touch with myself. I am fortunate to know how to re-connect with myself, and I am also fortunate to have people in my life who help me when I can’t get there on my own. In other words: I have everything I need.
Running away from myself & Life is beautiful wherever I am | There’s always two sides to the truth
One of my major anchors right now is another truth Jaruh pointed out to me this past summer: life is beautiful wherever I am, if I make it so. I like how the two most important epiphanies of this year (so far anyway) – that I am running away from myself, and that life is beautiful wherever I am – were brought to me by the same person. Thank you Jaruh. (See, even though I take notes from our conversations that say „I am a strawberry“ or „My mind is the center of my nothingness“, my heart remembers the important stuff.) I also like how they seem to contradict each other, because that’s what truth is – it’s always both.
Making life beautiful | Sometimes it takes a little help
So this is where I am right now: I haven’t been sharing much lately because the beginning of this trip didn’t feel quite as wonderful as I had anticipated. Even when I am so caught up in things that I don’t know what’s going on, when I just want to blame the world and when I really can’t appreciate anything, I still don’t want to put that out there like that because I know it’s not the truth of a situation. (Also I really don’t want to worry my mom. I felt pretty iffy just posting about the food poisoning.) Yet when I am in such a state I also feel like I can’t just post a bunch of „happy stuff“ when it’s not really what I am feeling. As little as I want to put out complaints or any „poor me stuff“, I don’t like the idea of creating the illusion that all is well when I can’t genuinely feel it.
Therefore I am very happy that I am back to being what feels like myself again – happy. It means that when I remind myself that „Life is beautiful wherever I am, if I make it so“, ideas start coming to me of how I can „make it so“. That just didn’t work when I was in this state of shock at the beginning of this trip. It also means I feel like sharing again.
I would like to thank my mentor Irka because this was one of those situations where I was unable to pull myself out, and she was the person who helped me gain perspective and create rituals to help me re-connect with myself – and stay in touch. I love working with Irka because although I hired her to help me start my own business, I firmly believe that you cannot separate different areas of your life. I believe that it’s all connected, and I believe that in whatever area of life we are striving for success, being well is the foundation for everything. I love having a coach who knows this and who is able to see the whole picture and work on all levels. Thank you, Irka!
Whatever happened to Road to Walden?
When I decided to let go of Road to Walden as the title of this blog, it was not because I thought the search had ended. I will always be on that road, which is the road to the home within, while also aware that that destination is right here, right now, on this road.
I decided to change the title because apart from the many wonderful things that Thoreau’s Walden represents to me, it also represents a notion which I am leaving behind at this stage in my life: the notion that the quest for happiness (= home) is about finding out how little you need to be content with. I still agree that happiness isn’t in „stuff“, and yes, it is true that so much of what we do in order to afford a lifestyle we think is necessary to make us happy leads us to the exact opposite („lives of quiet desperation“ anyone?).
Yet at this point I feel the question of how little I can live with isn’t all that interesting to me anymore, even though some part of my mind is still playing that game („Will I run out of money on this trip before I can access new sources of steady income?“ is one of those classics on repeat in my head some days). The way I see it now, the two don’t have to be connected, although my brain is still pretty wired that way. I am not interested in tying finical wealth and worldly possessions to judgement anymore. It’s possible to have very little „stuff“ and money and be happy. It’s possible to have very little and be unhappy. It’s possible to have a lot and be happy, and it’s possible to have a lot and be unhappy. At this point I feel like an experiment on how little it takes for one to be happy is not really the interesting question.
I know that might sound strange because it is exactly what I am living right now, not owning more than I can fit into my backpack, proving to myself everyday that yes, it’s very possible to be happy with very little stuff (and yes, some days: not so happy, for all kinds of reasons). As always, it’s the intention behind it that counts. I do believe that while it’s true, happiness isn’t in material objects, rejecting them for that reason is not changing the game – you’re just playing on the other team. Chasing wealth and objects just for the sake of it is just as uninteresting to me as it is rejecting them just because you know they won’t make you happy. Because guess what: joyless asceticism isn’t the road to happiness, either. I imagine that if you feel empowered by experiencing how little you can make do with, then that can be a joyful and thus valuable experience, and that is definitely part of this journey, too.
At this point however I am most interested in the notion of non-attachment. I am interested in enjoying all that life has to offer, including material wealth, without making it my golden calf. I know that is something very „now“ (The Secret/the Law of Attraction), and that just really wasn’t on the menu for Thoreau*. It felt like Road to Walden wasn’t really including this aspect which has become a focus for me in all areas of my life.
The idea to change the title to www.sarineturhede.com was triggered by the process of revamping the site overall in order to showcase my work better but the actual reason behind it was that I wanted to mark for myself that this is my path now, the one that’s still inspired by others but where I am the pioneer after all.
* Although who knows – he only lived at Walden Pond for about a year and not his whole life, so I maybe the question of how little you could live with wasn’t a lifelong quest for Thoreau, either …
Bangkok & Sydney| The inner journey
My last night in Bangkok got pretty ugly since I fell ill with food-poisoning. I hadn’t even eaten from one of the little food stalls in the street that night, like I had the day before. I had been to a rstaurant. Either way, it was a long and sleepless night, and by Sunday I was seriously doubting I would make it to the airport, let alone to Australia.
Note to self: the no. 1 tourist attraction is never low-key, even if it is a temple
Since I had to check out of the hotel by noon (at that point I was lucky enough to only be exhausted, my body was done with the cleansing process) but the flight was in the evening, I thought it might be a good idea to keep it low-key. Like going to the temple of the giant reclining buddha. In hindsight one might ask if maybe I had emptied parts of my brain during the night as well, since the number one tourist attraction obviously didn’t turn out to be a good destination for a quiet outing. To top things off, you had to go there by boat. It went surprisingly well, and I thought to myself, if I can do this, I am going to be good to board the plane that night. I felt a little queasy was when I smelled food, and I was extremely thirsty but could only take tiny sips if I wanted to keep the water down. As far as discomfort goes, that was pretty ok compared to the previous night.
As long as I’m alive … As long as it’s the right soda!
The way to the airport was pretty awful though, and I thought I might need to ask for help which almost certainly would have meant missing the flight. All I wanted at that point was leaving this city, though, so I was determined ta make it. And I did. At the airport all that was left was extreme fatigue – and I was incredibly thirsty for Coca Cola. I hardly ever drink coke, or any other soda. And here I was, with a desire as bad as an addict. Since for some reason it just had to be „the right kind“, too, I found myself going through several stores, because, of course, most of them only had Pepsi … Life can be funny that way, one minute all you wish for is to live (or die, depending on how drama-inclined you are), the next nothing seems more crucial than getting the right soda … Don’t you just love the irony of that?
Sent back off the airplane – That could have been me!?
It gets even more ironic: I was sitting in the middle row of seats, on the left side. Then came two empty seats, then another woman who was looking like she wasn’t feeling very well. It turned out – you guessed it – that she had fallen ill with food poisoning. The crew called a doctor, and the lady was sent off the plane. Of course I felt sympathetic to the woman but I also thought: that could have been me. Thank God it wasn’t! … That’s how I suddenly found myself alone with an entire row of seats, meaning, I was finally able to stretch out and sleep. Such a blessing after the ordeal of the previous night. I didn’t wake up until they started serving breakfast.
All just coincidence – right?
Thus my short visit to Bangkok ended with kind of a shock. And you might know me well enough by now to know that I don’t believe in coincidence. I am convinced that this wasn’t just some random bout of food poisoning. I believe there has been a process of transformation at work in my body. When I left for Sweden for my two semesters abroad in 2007, I fell ill, too, which I could not explain at all, because I had never been afraid to travel. My parents, who had come to Bremen to see me off, even went to get painkillers. I flew anyway – and at the hostel in Stockholm, where I had a stopover, I felt more miserable than ever in my life. When I arrived in Sundsvall, everything was fine again. What I did not realize at the time was how significant this stay abroad would be. After all, I had no idea that I would move to this country and live there for six years, three of them at the place where I „just happened“ to spend my year abroad …
Explanations make it easier for me to accept a situation
I think this trip is similar, but of course, I’m more aware that this experience will make an impact on the rest of my life. So I’m not really surprised by this physically exhausting start, though that does not take away the shock of the experience. I just always find it comforting to have an explanation. That way I do not have to go into resistance and try to fight something that I can not change anyway.
Sleepless in Sydney – homesick …
The shock came not only from the food poisoning. I could still feel it during my first two days here in Australia. Due to the time difference and the sleep disturbance that comes with it (I do not belong to the people who can fall asleep easily anyway), I felt pretty out of it, and this of course also affects the mind. Tuesday night, when I was tossing and turning in bed, I really hit the low point. I felt so out of place (even though I am staying at a very nice Airbnb, I have a room with a family, so it reminds me a bit of my exchange year in the US, which was such a positive experience) and it felt like I would never be able to feel „right“ again anywhere.
… but where is home?
I was so homesick, and at the same time the feeling was not directed to a specific place. Or rather, along with the thought „I want to go back to xyz“ (in fact, it’s usually the nature in Sweden I miss, when the homesickness sneaks up on my), came the certainty that this is not my home. That if I really did give in to the feeling and decided to quit everything and book a ticket to xyz, I would just end up feeling that I was not „right“ there.
Home is where you are – The real reason for this journey
A while ago, I was wondering what the true purpose of this trip is. Even though it may be true that the idea was born out of a certain impulse to escape (namely exactly the feeling „I’m not right here, so I’m getting out of here„), I was sure that there was something else to it. Because I am convinced that on a deeper level, the trip is still right and meaningful. So what is the real reason? I am convinced that it is about finding the home in me. Because that’s what I’ve come to realize about homesickness: it overcomes me when I cannot feel myself, when I cannot recognize myself in my surrounding.
If you do not recognize yourself in the world, claim your place in it
The world is our mirror, and if we stand in front of the mirror and we do not recognize ourselves in it, then that is scary. But the real reason why we cannot see ourselves is that we do not occupy our space. It is understandable that we contract in a strange environment, instead of expanding. It is not immediately clear to us where and how we can take our spot in this strange place. It was this phase of disorientation I found myself in when I arrived here in Australia.
Belonging and alienation – both are in you, not in your surrounding
I am firmly convinced that this experience, uncomfortable as it may have been at first, was important for me. Because it did not allow me to project my idea of “home“ onto my surroundings. Because that’s my pattern, right? I like a place, I call it home. It gets uncomfortable, I draw the conclusion, this is not home, I move on. I believe that in reality the comfort and the restlessness, the sense of belonging and the sense of alienation are in me – not in the places.
In this initial phase of disorientation, the feeling of alienation was just very strong – and also the pain of it. When I realized that, the feeling of being lost did not immediately disappear, but at least I could remember that the answer to my grief was to take my place. That’s how I can feel me again and THAT is the real feeling of home.
Claim your space – Be that which you feel is missing
How do you claim your space? For me, it means starting by observing what exactly it is that I miss in a given place. I believe that we are claiming our space (which is the same as fulfilling our life’s purpose) as we bring into the world what we miss in it. It may sound somewhat counter-intuitive that we should be what we feel is lacking, but the more I put this belief to the test, the more I see: that’s how it works. When I do for others what I wish somebody would do for me, then I actually get the feeling that I long for – it is as if I receive what I give.
I often feel that the mothering energy is missing in my life, in the places where I am. By now I know that this feeling is a call to me: Be caring to others.
I mentioned that my Airbnb is a room in the house of a family. The mom happens to be abroad this week. The father and the son are great, still, at first I felt that it would have been nice having another woman in the house. It took a moment for me to understand: you may not be the mother, but you are here now. And the answer to what I can do here is so simple: give the kid some attention. I often lack the energy when it comes to playing with children. But that is not even required of me! The son of my hosts is already very happy when I just listen to him and watch him play. When I came back from my trip to the Blue Mountains yesterday, he came to the door right away and gave me a big hug. That made me very happy and I am becoming more and more aware that my ideas about what the world expects of me, what great things I have to accomplish to be enough or to „live up to my potential“ are completely out of scale!
It’s the tiny little things that count and make up our life’s accomplishments. Those are the ones that make up our everyday life – and those are the first ones we overlook when we look ponder the purpose of our life, because we think that it must be something larger than life.
„I see you“ is my life’s purpose. And it’s the present moment that reveals to me in what way I can live up to it.