Maybe your little dream is not as stupid as it seemed.

Saturday afternoon. It was a long day. The four-days seminar I am currently taking requires my full attention – 12 hours per day. This will be a rather philosophical post.

Today, we did a role-playing excercise that really brought me to my limits. The task was to literally move a person out of a room by the power of your voice. Meaning: screaming and shouting from the bottom of your soul to create such rage and anger that the person has no other choice than to leave.

Ehm… right.

Well, I nearly pooped my pants just by the trainer explaining what we should do. After all, I consider myself a pretty balanced and peaceful person. I could not imagine myself screaming at someone like a berserk for no valid reason. And by the time we got started with the excercise and I heard other people scream and felt their anger, tears were running down my face.

Eventually it was my turn and I gave it all I had. I screamed louder and louder and at some point I did not recognize my own voice anymore. It was not pretty. My face turned purple, my eyes nearly popped out, BUT I survived. Not sure if I can say the same thing about my vocal chords, though.

What´s more important – it felt good. Not because there was so much anger stuck inside of me. But just because I did something I would, under normal circumstances, never do. I went out of my comfort zone and tapped into what could become possible if I just decide to do it and stick with my decision.

After the screaming part was over, we all sat down in a circle and closed our eyes. The instructor told us to now picture our greatest passion and take a couple of deep breaths.

That was when it really hit me and I had one of these “AHA”-moments. The first thing, the very first image that came to my mind when closing my eyes and thinking of my biggest passion was: *drumroll* … TRAVELLING!

What? How can that be? After clearing up all the clutter from my mind, all the unnecessary thoughts and the “noise” in my head – what´s left is travelling? Up until today I thought my urge to travel was some kind of instinct to get away from “reality”, or not having to deal with finding out what I truly want to do. I thought it was something my mind made up for me not having to see the “truth”. But what IF actually this is my truth?

What if my little dream is not at all as stupid as it seemed?

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This is what happens when you do something you love

Friday afternoon. Satisfaction has settled in. Today was the first time I interviewed someone for a big fat blogpost. I have been interviewed a couple of times before and believe I have also interviewed someone back in highschool for something… maybe the school paper?

Today was different. It meant something to me. I really wanted to get this straight. And the task seemed simple. I would meet with this designer girl – a female entrepreneur – and talk with her about her company. Then I would take some portraits of her in her office and give her a high five – or a hug. I ended up doing both. High-five followed by a hug. I am making this a ting. The high-five-hug-combination.

I was perfectly on time and the girl welcomed me with a warm cup of coffee which was much appreciated given the current Berlin nastyness (talking about the weather). She seemed nervous. I think it was the first time for both of us. But we did not talk much about it. We knew what we came there to do. So we prepared everything and jumped right into it.

I prepared her a bit talking about what I was planning on doing: Recording the interview, take portraits, publish it on a blog on http://www.wefound.org, maximal time frame 1 hour. She nodded.

The interview went smooth. The questions (I had some prepared but wanted to have an organic conversation) came quite easily and she talked about her experiences super open. And what had started a bit awkward ended quite elegantly with a short portrait shooting. Nice!

To finally get to the title of my blogpost: I felt REALLY good on my way home. The experience really brought me to a state of excitement and fun. As soon as I was home I transcribed the recording and wrapped the text up. Then I edited the pictures and everything was over way faster than I would have predicted.

Now I am left with the feeling of accomplishment. Awesome! That´s what happens when you do something you love. 🙂

Do you like to sleep in? Here is why I stopped that habit.

Monday. It´s all about priorities. I am repeating the same task over and over again and hope some day it will stick.

I keep on asking myself the same questions:

Is it what I really want?

Does it serve me and the vision of my life?

By answering these questions I am able to filter out all the distractions from my life. It allows me to let people, situations, fights and many other things go without ever looking back. I am practicing to ask these questions as often as possible. And from my experience there is always a clear answer inside of myself. My inner voice – what most people would call intuition or gut feeling – gets stronger every day. All I have to do is to listen.

I would like to give you two examples of things that don´t serve me.

Sleeping in. I know sleeping into days can be tempting. Pressing the “Snooze” button on my alarm sometimes happens without me even noticing. And suddenly it´s 10 or even 12 at noon! Sure, sleeping in and being lazy is lovely sometimes. But mostly it makes me feel like I wasted half a day. And usually when I slept until noon it gets really hard for me to get going and to have a productive day. I guess I am somewhat of a morning person. Thus, I realized there is no point in it for me. Sleeping in is cancelled – for the most part.

Getting drunk. Yes, everybody who was there at my birthday party last weekend will think “oh yes, now she has one of these *i´ll never drink again* moments”… And yeah, I have to admit. I was very drunk. And it was a lot of fun. However, I generally dislike getting drunk. It´s not only the evening that usually ends strangely. It´s also the next two days that feel unproductive and like hangover hell. The reason for not liking drunky-leska is similar to sleepin in. I feel like I am missing out on a lot of fun stuff I could be doing the following days. AND I can feel the poison in my body. Why would I do this to myself? Getting drunk – cancelled – (for the most part).

Now you might think: OMG, being focused sounds like a lot of work. And not like FUN. I don´t even feel like I am giving up on anything because the gain outweighs the couple of hours of sleep and glasses of wine by the thousand!

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…

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.

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!

Subway kindness

Subways are a great place to experience stuff.

On a hot, humid summer day you may meet prespiring strangers who unknowingly rub their moist backs against your arm. Whereas on weekend nights, especially the first weekend of the month, when everybody just received their paychecks, trains are THE place to extend your circles. Drunk strangers are willing specimen to practice small talk, hugs, or improve your skills on how to serve as a human sleeping pillow. (apply as needed)

But most of all, I think subways are a good place to get enlightened and practice mindfulness.

Why?

Staying calm can be challenging at times. After all, taking the subway is much more a necessity than a choice for most of us. Cultures, generations and different mindsets collide in a tiny little space. This can lead to loaded feelings and a general “I hate everybody” attitude.  But they are a great place for people watching.

And if we look closely we can see random acts of kindness everywhere on our subway rides.

Kindness unfolds in all different ways. The young girl offering a seat to an older man with a walking stick. The guy who blocks the door for the lady who runs to catch the train. The teenager giving his last coins to a homeless man. The musicians performing with a smile. Yes, even the drunk person giving me a hug or using me as a human pillow.

You never know what the person next to you is going through right now. Next time you think “what the ** is this ** thinking?” just take a deep breath and remember:
A smile or an understanding nod is maybe all they need.
After all, we are all sitting in the same boat, ehm train.