Hi everyone, I hope you have had a good start into 2019. I feel like a little recap is in order (I know you know that I can’t keep things short but I will try). My last post on here was pictures and thoughts from the light festival at Amritabha in the beginning of June. That was the first time I came back to visit since my stay as a short term resident last year (that was in the beginning of my trip around the world that ended sooner than I had anticipated – I wrote about that here on the blog). In September I returned to Amritabha, this time for a little longer.
Boy, as I am writing this I am beginning to understand how much I have not been sharing on here, and how it seems kind of complicated to write about it – those of you who follow me on Instagram (@sarineturhede) may have noticed that I have been sharing a little more of my daily life in the stories. I am getting used to talking in front of the camera, and it feels like it may actually be easier to tell you the story of my past year. Why I ended the trip around the world (I can see now that I was being a little cryptic in the blog post), why I ended up in Stade, why I am back in Amritabha now although I still feel in my heart that Sweden is home …
It’s funny, re-opening the blog was what I needed to be able to share anything on any channel – and at the same time it’s also making me realize that I feel like trying something new, like vlogging. It feels so good to be writing here again but it also feels liberating to give myself permission to look at things differently, to consider other forms of expression.
If there is one thing I am understanding about myself better and better it’s that I love change, that I am best when I am free and open to approach things as if I were doing them for the first time.
The consistency is not the form of expression but the fact that I want to express myself, share my story, share my perspective, and to inspire you to express yourself, share your story.
That is the constant in my life, and whenever I have draught periods where I don’t do that, it’s probably because I was holding on to an idea of how I should be doing it, or what I should and should not be sharing. If I have learned anything is that I want to free myself from these constraints, I want to keep allowing myself to explore new media of expression, and also: I want to not take things so seriously that I feel like „Oh, but I can’t share this“/“I don’t want the world to see me like that“/“I need to be better at this before I can show anything“.
Sorry if this is a total rant and maybe this doesn’t make sense to you at all but when I have these phases where I don’t share, it’s like something in me bottles up and when I finally open up again, there is so much that wants out. And that’s ok. I think this is exactly the point: to give ourselves permission to show up and share what we have to bring to the table, whatever it is at that point.
Not everything is going to be our greatest work ever but the greatest work comes as much from inspired action as it does from being persistent, from keeping at it, from writing/painting/filming ourselves through all the other days.
I am aware that chances are there will be more days/phases in my life where I will want to take a break from sharing my story because I won’t feel like there’s a point. But I know that so far I have never regretted anything I have shared, and that I have often wished that I had continued even when I didn’t see the point.
Ok, this is getting super long, but I just want to get into why I took down Road to Walden and the decided to re-open it again (I don’t even know if any of you are wondering about that but I am telling you anyway :-D). I think it all really started when my blog – well: I – was getting more attention, during my time here at Amritabha.
Suddenly there was this possibility in the air that I would go into business for myself (which I did and which was the best decision of my life), and I think I started having this idea that my online presence should be more centered around my person, not some blog title that nobody really seemed to get anyway. Also it felt a little strange starting to mix business posts into this blog that up until then had been simply personal.
So I got the domain sarineturhede.com and started building a more business-focused website. I thought I would just share my personal story on Instagram and Facebook, and I guess I thought it would be a good way for me to practice writing shorter texts. Plus the fact that I was going through a pretty tough time after my return to Germany, where things felt very out of focus, and sometimes plain wrong. I simply had a hard time wanting to show myself to the world that way.
For a while I even thought I would make eBooks from my old blog posts as a symbol of self-appreciation, and then delete the blog completely and not share my personal story anymore at all. I can’t remember what exactly it was that made me change my mind but eventually I just realized that yes, I do believe in creating great content for my business site. I love giving practical tips on different technical issues. I love exploring all these great tools that are out there for us to share our message, and I am happy to help others discover them.
But I realized that I don’t work well when my focus is on this very straight-forward business-mindedness. Like, this idea that I need to produce something with that has to be of direct/obvious value to anyone. I think it was Agni who said
„Follow the money and you will lose your passion, follow your passion and money will follow you.“
That is so true for me and it really shows in my business. Whenever I step into that trap of thinking I need to approach things from a focus on money, that’s when things get really tough. And whenever I allow myself to do what I feel like (even or especially when I can’t immediately see how that could lead to any financial gain), money finds it’s way to me with so much ease.
It was when I started observing what inspires me, who I love to follow, that I understood what I really value. And yes, I am grateful for all the tutorials that are out there that have helped me figure out how to do tech stuff. But what really gets me excited is people sharing their stories and their passion. Like Yoga Girl. Like the Dervaes family. Like Kristie Wolfe. Like Laura Hollick. The person that has been the biggest inspiration over the past days has been Jonna Jinton (and yes, it probably has a lot to do with my longing for Sweden that I think will not end until I move back there).
It became so obvious to me that I would never be happy with just a business site, and just sharing business related content. After all, the way I work, my life and my work are very connected. At a former work place I learned that „people buy from people“. And that is so true! It never takes long for me to recognize myself in the peron who is hiring me for a photo gig. There are a bunch of great photographers out there – so obviously there has to be a reason why anyone would choose me in particular.
We are drawn to kindred spirits. And what a great way to recognize one another through our stories.
This is maybe a paradox but as much as I love how business is personal for me these days, and the lines do get very blurry, it still felt right to re-open Road to Walden instead of just deciding to share personal stories on my business website. Actually, no, I do think it makes a lot of sense even from a business perspective. Because I do want to share my story with you regardless of whether you are interested in working with me. I don’t want my story to be some sort of „gimmick“ that is part of a marketing strategy. I want it to be free. I want us to be connected in freedom. It’s the deepest kind of connection.
Looking forward to breathing life back into this space, and to re-connect with you.
I used to be a hard worker. I thought that all my accomplishments were made of blood, sweat and tears. That stressing out and not resting until I was completely exhausted was a necessary part of the process. That that was basically what got me the good results. Yet there were times where I didn’t study as much as I thought I should, and I still got good results. And although the thought occurred to me that maybe I really didn’t feel like studying more because it wasn’t necessary, I never trusted that part of me. I thought I was lazy – and lucky, if I got good grades despite my „laziness“!
I think differently now: I believe that everything I have ever succeeded at was not thanks to hard work. I think I succeeded despite it. Of course I can’t know how things would have turned out if I’d done things differently. But when I look back at all the things I have done because I thought I had to, it turns out they were not that important. And the things that were important happened even when I did things that could have jeopardized them. More on this in my post On Control. I do know that it was doing too many things for the wrong reasons, the main one being that misguided work ethic, according to which work equals hardship. Eh, it was not just work, I was under the illusion that basically everything worth having requires sacrifice. Except when you believe it, it’s not an illusion. It’s your reality.
Fortunately, even going down the „wrong“ path eventually gets you on the right track. Like Eckhart Tolle says: Suffering is necessary until you realize it’s not. Up until a year ago I thought that as long as I was suffering all was well (I always thought that if I was unhappy, I wasn’t done adjusting to whatever it was that made me unhappy …).
I have always had a voice in the back of my head that wouldn’t shut up when things were at its worst. That voice kept saying that this cannot be the way life is supposed to be. I want to be happy, that voice insisted, and I cannot accept a life where there is no way for me to be happy. For the most part, I managed to negotiate with that voice, reminding it that I was happy, just not in some parts of my life. But that, of course, was normal. Last year everything just kind of crashed and it felt like there was nothing left. That was when there was no bargaining anymore with that voice. First health, then work, then marriage. Once you allow yourself to see that basically all areas of your life have been ruled by the belief in sacrifice and hardship, you can’t help but admit that the only lesson is this: you cannot go on this way. That is when the suffering finally becomes unnecessary.
Don’t get me wrong: there have always been moments of happiness in my life. I am not ungrateful. That is what made it possible to negotiate with that voice in the back of my head in the first place. The ability to make lemonade can be a bitch, though. Because in reality there is more than one choice. Life may be handing you lemons, and maybe you enjoy lemonade. But the thing is: you could also pass on the lemons altogether, trusting that life will offer you something else.
I’m not going to lie: there are a lot of days when my head is having a difficult time trusting that I will be fine if I follow my gut instinct on what I want and what not. (I am having one of those days right now.) But I’ve done it enough times now to know it’s worth it. I never have to wait long for the proof that it is the right thing to do. Same goes for the opposite: whenever I catch myself making a decision based on the fear that I have no other options, I can almost physically feel how this is only setting me back on the path that I have just left. And I am not interested in going in circles.
When I look around, I see plenty of people who are proof that it’s not only possible to combine love and success. I see that it is exactly the pursuit of their passion that is being rewarded. I am not talking about celebrities, I believe those are another story. I am talking about pioneers of happiness. I am talking about a woman building tiny houses and Hobbit Holes and renting them out via airbnb. I am talking about a family who turned their suburban backyard into an urban homestead where they sell their harvest, host classes and concerts. I am talking about opening our minds and creating our own sources of income instead of trying to pick from the menu of available jobs, and trying to fit in.
Don’t get me wrong: If you are happy with where you are, and that happens to be a career „off the menu“, then I am not saying that is wrong or less worthy! Remember, I am all about happiness these days. If your life makes you happy, you’re already where you need to be. It takes all kinds of people. It is those of us who cannot find our happiness in the available selection that need to start understanding that the fact that we will never be able to find it there does not mean there isn’t any happiness for us in the world. OK, I am obviously talking about myself here but I believe I am not the only one.
Here’s what I think: if you’re like me and your kind of happiness just doesn’t seem to be on the menu, the key to finding it is looking at what you feel is missing in the world. Stop waiting for someone else to fill in those blanks. That’s what you came for! I believe that we carry the blueprint for the place where we fit in within us. Why would we feel like there are things missing in this world if not to take on the task of filling in those missing pieces?
That was one of my biggest misunderstandings ever since I left the beaten path (school, university) and tried to find my place in the world: I kept trying to fit in, trying to find a work place where I’d be happy. I was always trying to be that person that I thought was needed. I either couldn’t make that work or if I did, it left me exhausted. I was at times deeply unhappy because I felt like I didn’t recognize myself in the world. I stayed at work places that didn’t feel right because I couldn’t see myself being happy anywhere else, either. I thought I was too picky, unwilling and/or unable to adjust. Until the thought occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t here to have someone else assign me a spot. Maybe I should create my own space.
This idea both fills me with relief and it terrifies me. I do not come from a line of entrepreneurs, I am used to doing as I am told. While that may have worked in school and at university, I find that it does not work anywhere else. At the end of the day, you eat the proverbial elephant one bite at a time. I believe that the way to start is by following happiness to see where it leads us. Since what makes us happy is highly personal and individual, that means entering uncharted territory. There may not even be a destination that is defined from the beginning of our exploration. However, there are those who are doing it already. Whenever we lose faith in our mission, we can turn to those pioneers of happiness. Not to do as they do but to get the encouragement and inspiration we need to for our own journey.
Aaand there’s more. I think this post will just be an attempt to recap this summer so far.
We celebrated the summer solstice with a bunch of friends (old ones and new ones) at our house. Since most of them came from Gothenburg and Stockholm, they stayed for several days and we had a little bit of a collective thing going, which was cool. Lots of barbecuing, talking, hiking, even swimming in the lake (the Swedish summer has been more of a „summer“ this year, but that weekend was great). Plus we made flower wreaths, which I am mentioning because it somehow was really important to me to follow this Swedish tradition. As it turned out, my friend La who was coming felt the same way. Maybe it’s because we’re German … Anyway, as we were standing in a ditch that day, picking flowers for our wreaths, a farmer drove by and held up seven fingers. Luckily we’d read The Six Bullerby Children, otherwise we might not have understood that he was trying to tell us that we’re supposed to pick seven flowers and put under our pillows that night to dream of our future husbands. I don’t know if La dreamed of him, but she seemed to have found the guy alright. 🙂
A few weeks later I went to Stockholm to buy a car. Peter’s uncle is really into cars, but when he bought his third, his wife insisted that he had to get rid of one. Lucky for us, who were looking for one. One that might be better for someone as sensitive to magnetic fields and electrosmog as Peter. The trip felt like a mini-vacation. It might have something to do with Peter’s aunt and uncle having a jacuzzi in their backyard … Plus the stop on my way home at some friends‘ „house“. I say „house“ because they actually live in a church, and a pretty cool one, too.
And then, the big one: after several weeks of feeling like my days at my job are nearing their end, everything happened really fast. Last week I suddenly had the impulse to quit talking about that I need to move on but start looking. I usually don’t even look at job postings. I believe that most of them are usually already given away within an organization and they just put them out as a necessary formality. But the task of trying to figure out where I’d want to go seemed to daunting at that moment, so I decided I’d at least see if one particular institution had anything interesting up (I really have been wanting to work at this place ever since I moved here). Well, they did. No big deal, it was ONLY MY DREAM JOB???!!! Friday I had a talk with by bosses, and they confirmed my feeling that we’d come to the end of the road (the reason being lack of money, not lack of work). I don’t know how many partings go this cordially – but I can recommend it. All three of us shared the feeling that the saddest part about this would be not working together anymore. (I will really miss all of my colleagues.) They too thought I would be perfect for the job I saw (I told them about the ad), and that this somehow was not an ending but a beginning.
I spent most of Monday afternoon writing my application for said DREAM JOB. The hardest part for me in the process of applying for work is usually letting go once I’ve sent them, not fretting over how I maybe should have wrote this instead, what if I left out something important, should I have told the recruiter more about myself when I called to ask about the job … Not quite there yet, I need to proof-read (and have someone proof-read). Still, whether this job is meant to be or not – something new WILL come – and I am excited about that.