Check out my new blog!

Hi beautiful people,

my last few months have been filled with lots of ups and downs and I’ve been trying to find ways to enjoy my life again. I decided to “Call in the One” and started exploring more of Berlin and Europe. Well, and summer has come to Berlin, which has since vastly improved my mindset. There’s also a new guy in my life…

I started a new blog to document all these adventures and my soul searching journey. It would be hella great if you would check out my new domain and maybe hit follow!

 

https://sunshineandskyline.wordpress.com/

Thaaaaanks,

Ari

Letter to Myself

Dear Me,

Hi – it’s… well, it’s you. I am you, the amazing you you want to be. I know right now is so hard. You keep questioning everything. Who you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there.

I know you miss him. I know you felt connected to him and are trying your best to hang on to that connection, even when two continents and an ocean lie between you. I know how you have guilt for feeling so deeply, for letting your guard down, getting your hopes up, while you never really knew what he felt for you.

I know you miss California and that this is a pain, an actual pain that you mask or suppress but never shake. I know you cringe inside every time you scroll through your Instagram feed and see pictures of your friends at a beach you used to hang out at. That a tiny picture of the Golden Gate Bridge in a board magazine can suck the life out of you. That you close your eyes whenever the plane touches down in London, Manchester, Glasgow or wherever your business travels take you these days, secretly hoping that you will miraculously see palm trees and sunshine when you look outside.

I know that, when you go to sleep at night, you’ll cry…uncontrollably some nights…softly others. You’ll toss and turn. And you’ll dream about it all– some will be dreams that will wake you up sad. Others will be nightmares and you’ll actually wake up happy, realizing what you’re dealing with now is better than what you dealt with in your sleep.

But, instead of letting those memories suffocate you, let them help you remember who you are and who you want to be. You will be that person again. You are (and will be) so kind, loving, open, fun and free. Right now I know it doesn’t seem possible and that’s okay. But trust that those pieces will come together again. It may take the time it takes to complete a 5.000 piece puzzle, but they will start to create an image you can visualize and it will all make sense again.

Until that day comes, however, try and be the best you can be every day. Do your favorite things. Find more good in your days than bad. When you’re back at base – and true to yourself – you’ll be extremely surprised at the great things that will happen to you…and the great people you’ll meet.

I know it’s hard to truly feel like you will get there. Be patient, love yourself, trust yourself, forgive yourself, be kind to yourself. Your time will come, and it’s so soon. Prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, physically. Be everything you picture yourself to be. It will manifest and it will be amazing.

Be the light you are. Share the gift you have been given and watch what unfolds. It’s worth it. And so are you.

Love,

You

 

“But isn’t that awfully little money?”

Just in case you have never been in this situation, let me tell you: Discussing your career and lifestyle choices with the older generation is not fun. But I’m sure you knew that already.

Most of the time I feel pretty grown-up. I have a job. I can afford rent, food and clothing (okay, barely, but I can), I have a long-term partner, I get excited about kitchen appliances and I know how to do my taxes. I even have a re-usable shopping bag that can be folded into a tiny bag and hooked onto my key-chain. Okay, I don’t carry it on my key-chain… it hasn’t come that far. The point is, most days, I know how to adult, and I feel accordingly capable.

Nothing destroys that confidence faster than talking to, say, my mother’s friends. So, dear “older generation”, here’s a few questions that I would really like to never answer again, ever. In the future, please do me a favor and just refer to this article.

“But if you’re still studying, isn’t it going to take a long time before you have a career?”

Yes. Or actually: Yes, it is going to take a long time for me to finish my studies. Yes, I knew that when I decided to go back to school at 25. Yes, I have thought it through. Also, why exactly are you assuming I want or need a “career” in the classical sense? I mean, maybe I want one, but could you just ask before you assume?

On second thought, maybe don’t. I guess assuming is fine.

“Wouldn’t you rather have a secure job and start earning money?”

Ughhhh. Of couse I’d rather be rich. But no, I wouldn’t rather sell my soul to some corporation for a so-called “secure job” that is secure exactly until the next financial crisis, and in the meantime will suck every bit of joy from my life. I have a job. I am earning money. It’s part time, so it’s not a ton of money, because I have my studies as well, but I am independent. Hello. As long as I’m not asking you for loans, please don’t tell me how much money I should be making, or how you think being as poor as me is, like, the worst thing that can happen to a person. Or how you had that great corporate job at 25. The world is different today, okay? And I want to be happy. With my job, not just when I get to go home. It’s a core value of this generation – more so than money for a lot of us. So please take me seriously and don’t assume that I’m lazy, have no perspective and / or will always be as “poor” as I am now.

“Isn’t your apartment very small for two people?”

Yes, it is small. No, it is not too small. We could have had a bigger apartment, but we chose to prioritize location over size. And no, in this or a comparable location we definitely wouldn’t be able to afford the 70+ square meters that you think are appropriate for two people. Also: Who needs that much space? You’re just going to fill it with stuff. Since we moved, I have thrown out more stuff than I have brought in. And I still want to throw out more. Because the truth is, you don’t need a lot of the stuff. It becomes a burden. If anything, I’d really like to learn to live with much less stuff than I do right now. And I really, honestly, want that more than I want a bigger place.

“So, what is your career plan then, for after your studies?”

Okay, so you’ve accepted I want to finish my studies and you’ve grudgingly also accepted the fact that I will need until I’m about thirty to do so. You’re willing to entertain the idea that someone might be happy in a small city apartment with a master’s degree in something she really loves, ready to hit the working world full-time at thirty, finally, rather than being settled in the suburbs with two kids and a car by that age. Now you want to know what my plan is?

Well, see. That’s five years from now. I’ve thought this through, I promise. I have ideas, I have several plans, and I’m excited to see which one it will be. But I am really not ready to tell you exactly what is going to happen in my life five years from now. And to be honest, yes, that’s kind of terrifying, but you know what would be worse? If I really already knew everything.

Voltaire is with me on this, so I must be right:

“Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.”

Lost and Found

Lately, when people ask me how I am doing, I have been telling them that I am feeling very lost. With my US visa about to expire and my imminent departure from San Francisco approaching faster and faster, I have gone back and forth between ignoring my life and falling into sheer panic whenever I don’t. Everything I love is here. Everything I want is here. I belong here. And in a fair world I wouldn’t have to leave. I felt defeated and that’s not a good thing to feel.

When we lose ourselves, what we really mean is that we’ve lost our way. We’ve lost our direction, our end goal, our carefully charted course that we once found ourselves barreling down. We’ve lost the drive we used to use to propel us. We’ve lost the vision we once used to light the way ahead. We feel lost when what we had dreamed our life to be like falls through and it is beyond our influence to fix it.

But here’s the truth about being lost – we’re only ever as lost as we are in denial. When we don’t want the past to be over and the future looks too daunting to touch, we call it lost. When we’re barreling forwards at a thousand miles an hour but gazing determinately out the rearview mirror, we call it lost. When what’s been is so painfully appealing compared to what is coming up next, we call it lost. Because we’d rather be lost than be found in this new, uncomfortable place. And so we bury our coordinates. We toss away our compasses. And we declare ourselves citizens of no-mans-land.

The truth about being lost is that we choose it when we just aren’t ready to be found yet.

When you’re lost, you find yourself in every step you take towards gaining back control of your life. By stopping the cycle of passivity and replacing it with one of autonomy. You find your new self in each small choice you make, each risk you take, each opportunity that you fail to pass up, even if it ends up being a flop. You find yourself by re-creating yourself into the kind of person who is ready to take on what’s next.

Because the truth is, we can’t ever truly lose ourselves, because all ‘losing ourselves’ means is that we’re choosing a story that ended over the one that is still going on. It means we’re gazing in the wrong direction and calling our disorientation lost.

Getting found, by definition, is the simple act of recognizing where you are.  You simply have to recognize that you’re somewhere new now. Somewhere different and challenging and less than ideal, maybe. But there you are. And to find yourself somewhere new, you simply need to start walking.

You’ll find yourself in wherever you end up.

You’ll find yourself in any place where you go with your whole heart.

So, game mode is on. I’m fighting back. It sucks that other people decide that I can’t stay in the place I am so happy in, surrounded by the people that make me happy. It has been driving me mad. But here I am. Moving to Berlin to help my current employer expand to Europe. And working my ass off to come back next year. California is where I belong and heck, I won’t let anything get in the way off that. Well, at least nothing within my power. Now excuse me, I am taking back my life…

11996960_10207610361720040_1901933064_n

Oh San Francisco, how I will miss you

I will miss your rolling hills, in which the city is safely embedded. No matter how often your inclinations may have annoyed me, my upper thighs have never been fitter. If I can walk up Lombard Street, I can walk up any street in the world!

I will miss your beaches, your foggy, never-warm-enough-to-wear-a-bikini-at-beaches. I will miss sitting at Baker Beach, looking out at Marin and the bridge, searching for dolphins in the shallow waters and knowing that this place is all I need to be happy.

Speaking of which, I will miss the Marin Headlands. I will miss the hiking trails and waterfalls. I will miss Mt Tam and its majestic views. I will miss Stinson Beach and the Parkside Café, especially the brunch options there. I will miss the liberating feeling of being so close to nature and so far away from everything while, really, it’s only an hour bike ride from downtown San Francisco.

I will even miss the downtown area. I will miss the unique ringing of the F trains, when they turn corners. I will miss shopping at the farmers market at the ferry building and counting the pride flags in the Castro. I will miss all the restaurants in the Haight and North Beach and every restaurant in between. I will miss getting tanned in Dolores Park and standing in line for BiRite ice-cream.

I will miss being able to be weird without being perceived as such. I will miss walking around with flowers in my hair and long hippie skirts and I will never stop dressing in layers. Because that’s what you do, when you’re from San Francisco.

I will miss Karl the Fog. I love living in a city where the fog not only has a name, but also its own Facebook, Instagram and Twitter account. I will miss watching it roll into the city, devour the bridges and the hills and the ocean. I will miss being annoyed at how it suddenly got 10 degrees colder.

I will miss the sunshine too. Because we do have sun from September till April and it’s awesome. Even after two years of living in California, I have never once taken a day of sunshine for granted. I have never once stepped outside and gotten bored by the fact that it is – once again- sunny. I have never once passed by palm trees without sending a silent prayer to whomever for getting me to this magical place that is called the Golden State. I have never once doubted that I was the luckiest girl on earth for being where I was.

I will miss the Mission, my Whole Foods in Ingleside, the lake I run around, the beach that’s close by, my office on Market; heck, I might even miss my weird Muni encounters occasionally. I will miss Land’s End hikes and whale watching and going surfing. I will miss being only 5 hours away from Malibu, Yosemite, San Diego, or Hawaii.

I can’t believe that I only have 2 more months left in San Francisco. I can’t imagine that there will ever be another city I will feel so at home at. San Francisco is home. More so than Wismar, Bremen or New York ever were. And I am so sad to leave home.

IMG_4259

Home Alone: Now what?

Dear reader,

I know that I have not exactly earned the title “blogger” recently. If it wasn’t for my long-distance roommate, I don’t think there’d be a blog any more. (THANK YOU ARI!) So just to catch y’all up on my life: I moved to Hamburg 6 months ago with my boyfriend. We’d been together a year at that point and we had basically spent the last months in Munich semi-living together, so we figured we were well-prepared for the 400 square feet of adorable apartment awaiting us. (There’s a small garden, too, but you can’t really count those square feet, since being outside is not so much fun in Hamburg in winter).

I can’t even count how many times I’ve earned utter disbelief when I’ve said that I can stand sharing this space with another person. But honestly, it’s perfect. I mean, we fight. We do. Overall, though, we’re one of those disgustingly close couples who hold hands wherever we walk, play footsies on the train if we have to sit across from each other rather than side by side, blow kisses at the other whenever we so much as leave the room to go to the restroom… you get the idea. We’re close. And moving to a city where neither of us had a close social network brought us even closer – to the point where we both realized we needed to actively spend some time apart from each other in order to build friendships and not become insanely codependent.

Picture a couple that’s this attached, and then imagine one of them suddenly has to leave town for four days. That’s exactly what happened. A family matter has required my significant other to go to our home town near Munich for OVER HALF A WEEK, leaving me ALL ALONE in our suddenly very big apartment.

I’m dramatizing, of course. We’ve been apart before. It’s just usually been me who left to go teach a seminar somewhere else for a weekend, or visit my family for a holiday that means a lot to them and not a lot to my boyfriend. So while we were apart, I usually had plenty of things to do with that time.

Now I’m sitting in our apartment with absolutely no “have to”s. I don’t have to work for another four days, I don’t have to go anywhere, I don’t have any extremely urgent tasks. In the morning, I had a mild panic attack wondering: What on earth am I going to do with my life for the next 96 hours?

Unfortunately, after 6 months, my social circle is very much still in the process of being built. I have tentative plans for coffee with someone I can’t call a friend just yet, and to be fair I have pretty epic Saturday night plans with one of my best friends from college who is in town with her cousins. But what about daytime? Netflix seems less fun without my cuddle buddy. Plus being lazy by myself feels lazier than being lazy with someone else. Because then at least you can say it’s “quality time”.

In case you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here’s a random list of things I did today or am planning for the following days… and after some brainstorming I have to say: Maybe four days will go by rather quickly, after all!

  • Gardening: I mentioned we have a garden, right? Well, it’s awesome, but a lot of work. Since the weather is nice and spring-y, I’ve been spending some time trying to make it prettier.
  • Bouldering: Well, that one’s a given, I go at least twice a week anyways. I had the advantage of being able to go early in the day today, when there were exactly two people excluding myself, so I had the walls more or less to myself.
  • Laundry: On my to-do list for today. Might as well get that out of the way.
  • Baking bread: I have an awesome-looking recipe I’m dying to try. Maybe I’ll even save some for the BF to try when he gets back. Maybe.
  • Playing computer games: I feel very antisocial doing this when I’m spending time home with the BF. Now I have all the time in the world to get my nerd on!
  • Freelance work: I actually do have a project I could work on. Maybe not having distractions around me is not such a bad thing 😉
  • Buying and painting a garden table: I spotted one at IKEA that is cheap and just needs a coat of white paint to go with the chairs. My project for tomorrow!
  • Crafting: This is a big one! I can’t properly do this with someone else in the room, because I feel self-conscious about both the work (I mostly do art-journalling, which feels rather private) and the mess I make in the process.

This plus social things plus boring things like grocery shopping… looks like I should stop hanging around on the Internet or I’ll never get everything done! I’ll be back… I’d say soon but let me just promise a shorter break between posts than last time. So long!

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

– Mark Twain.

A conversation I’ve recently had with my boyfriend, made me reflect a little on my life aspirations. I grew up in a family where the absence of money was always an issue, I saw how my parents really struggled to get us by and how it wore both of them down. Because of that, I was taught from early on to look at friends whose parents had more money and to understand that their families were happier than mine because of that.

And that’s what growing up entails! We all have experienced things in our childhood that put us down in some way or another and that have shaped our aspirations. Some of us want to earn a lot of money because we didn’t have any growing up, some of us want to break free and travel around the world because we’re sick of our parents telling us what to do with our lives. Some of us are put down by our skin color, through subconscious discrimination; boys by locker room conversations, girls by pictures in magazines.

So we become insecure, which leads to viewing ourselves in terms of others—their accomplishments and habits, their wealth and their happiness. We compare.

Well, let’s compare. On social media, I post about traveling to Hawaii for business or instagram a picture of a “casual Friday night team outing” where me and my colleagues just have a blast. Or that birthday party in that hip beach bar where we all look young and successful and accomplished. From the outside, it probably looks like my whole life is just one hell of an opportunity- I have my own company credit card, am traveling for business, am being forecasted a managerial position in the medium run. If others compared themselves to me based on the above, the conclusion might be that I am on a promising career path and very lucky. When I compare myself to others, I see them being happier, more fulfilled and more excited about their jobs and I get jealous.

I am starting to realize though that I can’t compare myself to others because: I’m not them. I don’t have their mind or experiences or life, so why should I care if I’m earning just as much money as them or wear the same clothes they have? Why should I envy them for being passionate about their jobs, for having projects that are a matter of heart not money, for living in the moment? The spectrum of my perception, experience and existence should begin and end with me. It shouldn’t matter what others do or what they have.

Sure, others have more advantages or opportunities than you, but that’s their life, and it doesn’t apply to yours. Sure, your life could be better, but anyone’s life could be better. And even more than that, things could be worse.

And so, instead of looking around me to make sure I’m “on track for the career” I should focus on maximizing my situation, and what I have been given in life.

Finally, on the question of the people you are jealous of—do they suffer? Are they happy? Everyone suffers. No one is perfect. Everyone loses both parents. Everyone sees something they worked towards fail. Living is going through pain. Everyone’s life is simply normal to them, and full of both happy moments and sad ones. We need to remember though that we are behind the wheel. Where we go, how fast we go and what route we take to get there doesn’t matter, as long as we go! And I’m gonna try to do just that, instead of complaining about not being where I want to be while everyone around me seems to.