People are staring.

Monday night. It´s just me and my headphones. The song has been playing over and over again and I can´t help myself. I start to dance. My feet are moving on their own. I would not call it moonwalk but something similar – in less perfection – takes place. This beat, lovely lyrics and …

… a car honks at me. Whops. I am in public! I smile and wave at the girl in the car and think to myself “that´s Berlin.”.

This incident makes me think about the impact of music on us. Research has shown that music has greater impact on teenagers as they are developing their brains rapidly generating new synapses. They show strong reactions when exposed to music leading them to feel everything from depression to full ecstasy. Am I still in the teenager development state?

Biologically not. But I have noticed how my mood is strongly influenced by music. A couple of days back I found a note to myself. It stated “Have you ever noticed how you are completely in your own world with headphones? You can walk through a crowd of people and don´t get affected by their mood. Even when people are stressed and angry around you it is possible to stay calm.”

Isn´t that interesting? Music can be a stress repellant barrier between yourself and others? If music is taking the mind away from absorbing how others around you are feeling – mustn´t it be possible to set your mind to such a state at all time? A state where you feel this happiness inside, where you don´t absorbe negative energy from others and a place where you simply start to dance in the streets?

Until I figure out how, I´ll experiment some more with my research on the influence of music on my mood…

Think less. Do more.

It´s sunday. I am sitting on my desk and most people would consider what I am doing right now “work”.

The fun part is – it does not seem like work to me at all. Since my schedule is more flexible I am able to really explore my creative and productive moments. It does not matter anymore if it´s the weekend or a “work day”. I can follow my work-flashes as they come. What a great feeling!

I can really see things taking shape. Every time I look back I am like “Whoooha – when did I do all this?”. I quit my job, became independent, got my first project as a freelancer, enrolled in photography and writing class and still manage to sustain myself. Sounds pretty good to me. *highfivetoself*

My secret right now is to stay on track, not get distracted and keep on moving. Think less and do more.

Whenever I am in doubt I rely on people around me who know my vision as well as me and kick my ass until I am back on track. While on the way it´s easy sometimes to forget where I am going.  That´s when a slight panic and “what the hell am I doing?” sets in. Then I just take a break, breath and stand still for a while. I check my old notes in my notebook about my dreams and my vision until I remember why and what I am doing. I am using “past me” to remind “present me”. Mostly it does not take more than a couple of hours until I remember. 😉

Do you have any tips on how to stay on track you would like to share with me?

Don´t sell yourself under value

I am getting started as a freelancer. Wohoo!!

And now that I quit my job and started photography school it´s really time for this step. As many of you who have worked freelance, have hired freelancers or had a friend who worked freelance can imagine – it can be tough. You are on your own and sometimes a bit desperate for projects. I was not exactly desperate for a project. But definitely wanted to get started – Excitement!

When a client made a suggestion for a possible project together (in my mind) I nearly jumped at him, fell on my knees, kissed his shoes and thanked him for believing in me. I stopped myself. “Hold on”, I thought.

Is hiring me really something to be greatful for? Well, sure I am happy my client trust in me and believes I am the right person for the job. But the client does not do me a favour hiring me. I am hired because I have a special skillset, attitude and personality they need to complete the job. I realized this is not a master and slave relation – it´s a terminal partnership on eye level. I have the power to decide how to go into this project. Do I want to be their thankful slave, or a partner on eye level? I decided for the latter.

And when the client asked me for a full proposal for the project I re-structured the initial idea, thought it through AND changed the budget of the project to something I felt is more adequate for the amount of work I will put into it. I hit “Send” on the email.

And then the worrying began: What will they think? How will they react? Will they think I am too greedy to ask for more money? Will they maybe even tell me we won´t be able to work together at all because I am asking for more money in the first project? Again – I stopped myself and said “wait and see”.

The client replied a couple of days later saying they appreciate my offer and the thought I have given to the project. However their budget is the budget initially discussed. They would like to keep the project the way it was suggested. Phew – see Valeska! No negative outcome. I gave it a fair shot, made my suggestion and still got the job. I will do the project the way they suggested (and put less time in).

Don´t sell yourself short people. As my dad always used to say: If you sell buttons all you will ever earn is buttons.

Ideas taking shape as we speak

Tuesday morning. A girlfriend of mine slept at my place. I love visitors.

For several reasons: Visitors are a great reason to clean up my apartment, buy groceries and put my clothes back into my closet. Spending time with somebody at home is relaxing (well, can be relaxing…). But one reason is even more important than all the other fun stuff you can do with your visitors:

When you have visitors you generally talk about your life and about stuff you want to in your life or have done so far. These talks give me the chance to put things into perspective. Talking to others I realize how far I´ve come and that helps me to practice gratitude for everything I have achieved. AND while I talk to others my vision of where I am going is forming and taking shape.

Do you know that feeling? The answers have been within you the whole time. But once you voice them they suddenly become real?

That´s what happened to me this morning when talking about my life. Even in the conversation I started my sentence with “Well, I am not sure what I will be doing.” and ended it with “But I am interested in A, B, C.”

When I finished my sentence I had to laugh about myself and said: Wow, I had no idea that I have such a strong vision of what I want to do. THANK YOU.

And my counterpart looked confused but happy. Oh life!

Youtubers I love: Ralph Smart

Today I want to share with you another youtuber I love. I have already talked about Marie Forleo who gives great advice for people who want to create a business and life you love.

Today I´d like to introduce you to Ralph Smart. He is one of the most diligent youtubers producing videos almost every second day. His channel is called “infinite waters – diving deep”. And as the title promises: He definitely dives deep. I love to watch him when I am in a philosophical mood. I´ve gained some great insights from watching his videos. He shares with us what he has learned “along his journey” of finding spirituality.

Here you go, Ralph´s channel:

Ralph´s channel

Forced positivity? Sucks.

Many times when people get more into spirituality and the search for happiness they hear about being positive. And yeah, that´s a great thing. But ALWAYS being positive? Sucks.
Check out my latest video here:

In the video:

  • 3 reasons why being positive at all time sucks
  • A technique on how to listen to your inner voice
  • How I handle positivity

Empty fridge

Friday morning. Someone is ringing my doorbell. My alarm did not go off and I am heading towards the door in my pajamas. A handiman is standing at the door ready to do something to my heater. The heater has been waiting for it. I certainly haven´t.

I love the excuse “my alarm did not go off”. Blaming the alarm is in most cases easier than explaining the strange circumstances of your awakening. Either you forgot to set your alarm the day before, slept through it or you turned it off in your sleep. And I guess in some rare and analogue cases it might actually be possible for the alarm to misteriously malfunction. But nowadays most of us use their cell phones and their built-in alarm function. They always work. Yep, my alarm even starts when my phone is turned off!

Back to the story. My alarm did not work.

With the guy in my kitchen I start brushing my teeth and setting up some water for morning-tea. We are having a brief conversation. He with his face dug deep into my heater. Me checking out the fridge for something edible.

Him: “When was the last time they filled up your water?”

Me: “Don´t know.”

Him: “I guess it must have been last year September.”

Me: “mhm” while staring into the empty fridge. All I can see is a shrinkly old lemon, a black banana, an apple I don´t remember I bought, mustard in a tube, a glass of yam and some yoghurt. Disappointment.

Him: “It seems like your heater has troubles with it´s pressure. Have you noticed anything?”

Me: “No, not really.”

I getting a sense our conversation is not headed anywhere. So I close my fridge full of empty hopes, turn on the radio for the guy´s entertainment and start my computer. At least I am capable of making tea. All tea requires is hot water and… well tea bags. And sometimes I even forget to buy those. That´s when my situation gets a bit out of hand i´d say. And the sad part is: it´s not even a lack of money. There just seems to be some inner resistance against being organized. I always find it fascinating to see how long I can manage without buying groceries. I can tell you – it´s a while!

In the case of my empty fridge: I ended up making a smoothie using the apple, banana and lemon as well as the yoghurt.

I could totally write a recipe book: “How to live off of scraps.”
Happy friday everyone!

Happiness NOW

“Wow, it´s so nice here. I have to come again some times.” Or “We had such a great time. Let´s catch up soon.”
Do you know that feeling when you visit a new restaurant, or generally a new place, or you hang out with a nice person for the first time?

It seems like such a normal thing to do and sometimes it might just be an expression of how much we are enjoying ourselves. However, many of us try to extend the good time we had into the future without fully experiencing the present.

What do I mean with that?

If you are already thinking about when to come back to this place, whom to bring and what to talk about, maybe even what you could do better next time – it´s not possible to live the moment to the fullest. E.g. you are hiking alongside a beautiful lake and your mind goes: “Next time I should bring food. We could make a picknick here. Oh and let´s ask Linda and John if they want to come along. Their dog would have a great time. This could be our small hide-away. Let´s come back at least once per year.” Wow. You have build a whole imaginary future for yourself based on a snippet of your current experience. Are you then REALLY enjoying the moment and living this experience to the fullest? Nope, you are not even present. You are living in the future. And you probably missed a great chance to experience happiness NOW. In that very moment.

Many times when we do something without having any expectations we get surprised by how much fun we can have. If we give ourselves to the moment and allow ourselves to experience this moment without clinging to the fun parts we can actually have EVEN MORE fun! Nice.

2 steps forward 1 step back

Did you ever get frustrated along your way of accomplishing something? I certainly have.

Finding out what you want to do and getting started can be difficult at times. But staying on track to reach the goal you have in mind – following through so to speak – is even harder.

Getting on track requires a trigger followed by radical action. In this phase you are taking a leap of faith to get started on your new mission. Exciting!

Then comes the execution of your plan. The first couple of days are fantastic. The first week is going good. But then the slacking starts. Was this really such a good idea? There are no visible results yet.
Yep, staying on track is hard.

Keep in mind: Sometimes it goes 2 steps forward 1 step back

We have this linear curve of success in mind. Reality looks different.

The-truth-about-success

Here are some practical tips of how to stay on track.

  • Breath and relax.
  • Look back and be proud of everything you have accomplished so far.
  • Make small to-do lists with tasks that are easy to do. Break down bigger tasks in baby-steps.
  • Keep your big goal in mind. Working towards something instead of getting lost in the small chaos surrounding you really helps.

Here is Marie Forleo´s advice on how to handle the sh*t sandwhiches life hands you:

Oh you gotta love Marie!

The three hour guacamole

Mondays are a good time for guacamole. Every day is a good day for guacamole.

A couple of weeks ago I would have never thought I´d be more involved in the kitchen when I decided to study photography. Now however these two things seem suddenly related. First of all I have much more time to feed myself in a healthy and more conscious way – love! Other than that we were given a school assignment called “My favorite recipie”.

For this assignment we should prepare our favorite food and take pictures of it for an imaginary magazine. Later on the whole class will create a photo book with all the recipies. Sounds fun! And delicious.

First I thought this might be the easiest assignment so far. After all the assignment is super clear and does not leave too much space for my mind to go mad over. It turns out guacamole is not very photogenic!

And turns out I had absolutely NO experience in photographing food! (This nasty habit of taking cell phone pics in restaurants would have come in handy here!)

Eventually my friend and I spent the whole day in the kitchen. I took about 3 hours for my guacamole. She needed another 3 to bake a cake.

Breathing excercises in yoga are nothing compared to me standing on a stool with a camera, holding my breath every couple of seconds to take a picture. Seriously, taking pictures is the only thing I can do for hours without talking. I am super focused. The flower pot is in the frame? GET IT OUT! The tortilla chip does not look pretty? EAT IT.

See food and photography ARE related. Lovely day.

IMG_9422