Into The Woods, „As I began to love myself…“

Charlie Chaplin, English actor and filmmaker, once said:

“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

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As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

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As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

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As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

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As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!”

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Today, people are constantly striving for perfection. People build up huge egos in order to hide their lacking self-confidence. But what happens when we forget our mental health and keep focusing on our work instead of taking care of ourselves? Many people are overwhelmed by loads of work they have to do, they do not have a work-life balance and one day, they may fall over.
I have to admit, that I am often too ambitious and too much of a perfectionist.
Although ambition is quite helpful if you want to achieve something, it can be overwhelming. I am sure, many of you know exactly what I mean.
I used to not taking care of myself. I did everything at once, being elected representative of the pupils at my school, doing three different language certificates within 10 weeks, singing in our school choir and being a member of our movie club at school.
In addition to the extracurricular work at school, I went to the gym three times a week, I had Ballet classes one to two times per week and I went running.
For some people this may be „nothing“, but that time was quite busy for me.
Although everything went right, I realised that I had not listened to my body carefully.
Generally, I love working and I like to keep myself busy.
However, there are times when my body shows me that I took it too far.
After having worked seven days a week the past six weeks, I ended up being really tired. I set my alarm clock because I had a meeting at 10 and I planned to get up at 8 in order to go running. Well, I overslept and woke up at 9:59. Quite unfortunate.
Instead of being angry, I realised that I have put my body under a lot of pressure recently and that the oversleeping was just a sign that my body works properly and protects me.
Consequently, I decided to just do what I wanted that day. I was lying in bed the whole day, watching 8 (!!) episodes of Twin Peaks and later got up and went on a longboard tour with my little brother.
It is okay if we are not that productive occasionally. Sometimes our minds and bodies just need a little rest. It is highly important that we listen to our bodies and love them because if not, we will never achieve a healthy work-life balance. Maybe this is the most significant and also difficult challenge we have to cope with in our lives.
Being able to work efficiently and still spend enough time with family, friends and also alone.

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The human body is a marvel. It protects us, it does everything possible to maintain our health, it can stand severe pressure for a long time and if we listen to our bodies, they tell us what they need. Unfortunately, this is the tough part, since most people do not understand their bodies. I guess understanding our them and knowing what they need is something which can be achieved by taking care of ourselves and loving ourselves.
Sometimes I feel that I have to take three deep breaths, close my eyes and figure out what I actually want. After having done that, I usually know if I am able to move on or if I need some rest.
I highly recommend creating a personal guide on what you can to in order to feel better again. My list would look like this:

  1. Taking a nap! 26 minutes are perfect for me, since I will not be very tired afterwards. Naps that are longer than 30 minutes may have the opposite effect and you might feel more groggy than before.
  2. Running! I often say that running saved me because it compensated all the stress I had and all the pressure I put myself under the past few years. I love to go on a run in the woods because I often see deers, foxes and sometimes even boars (although these encounters can be VERY dangerous). When I go running in the forest, I am highly alert of my surroundings, this clears my mind and fuels my body.
  3. Taking online latin dance classes – I love latin music and I love latin dances. I occasionally find myself locked up in my room, curtains closed, music turned on and enjoying taking latin dance classes on youtube. It releases the tension in my body and I feel great afterwards.
  4. Playing and instrument – Although I am definitely not a musician, I love to play the ukulele. The chords are simple and you can play almost every song on this little guitar with four strings.
  5. Decluttering! Maybe you have already read my blogpost My thoughts on MINIMALISM – happiness, a state of being or a state of having? and My personal guide on how to become a Minimalist – if not, check it out if you are interested in Minimalism. However, I often find myself messed up in a messy room. When my mind is messed up, my room is messed up as well. Then it is high time to declutter and get rid of old stuff I do not need anymore. Personally, I can only work efficiently when my space is neat and clean.
  6. Spending time with my family – There is nothing more relaxing than going for a walk with my little brother. We are fooling around, talking about random things and I just feel calm and happy.
  7. Lift weights – When nothing is working properly anymore and I am completely overwhelmed, I head to the gym and lift heavy weights. Lifting weights is a part of my workout routine, but really getting to that point that my muscles are sore and I really feel the burn frees my mind. Even though it may not be that healthy for my muscles if they are still aching two days later, I have to feel my power and really push myself to the limit. My mind becomes creative, it increases my physical endurance as well as my mental endurance. For a moment, it feels like I could conquer every single challenge in life.

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My brother took these pictures, he is twelve and it was the first time that he used a reflex camera. I think he did a pretty good job.
Furthermore, if you are interested in how to be good at work, make sure to read my article Reconsidering – How to survive the 21st century and tell me if you are interested in these kind of personal posts.
Additionally, I hope that you like this quote by Charlie Chaplin as much as I do.
A very wise and clever woman gave it to me and I love to read it over and over again because I think that Chaplin hit the nail on the head. It gives me strength and hope.

Love yourself, because if you don’t love yourself, how should anybody else do it?
Love yourself, because you will have to live in your body your whole life.
Love yourself, because you deserve to be loved.

 

I hope you are all well and I send you so much strength for the next week.
xx, Sophie

Fort Worth, Texas – Participating in the International Leadership Academy 2016

A year ago I returned home from Fort Worth, where I was a participant at the „International Leadership Academy“ which is an international issues forum where students from 8 countries meet and discuss a certain topic.

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Before the actual program started, we visited the Texas Rangers Baseball Stadium with the Swazis.

These countries are Mexico, Italy, Hungary, China, Japan, Swaziland, Indonesia, Germany and of course, the USA. Only Fort Worth’s sister cities have access to the program.

All the people I got to know are very important to me now. I text them almost everyday and I am very glad that certain social media platforms make it possible for us to stay in touch.

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„ILA“ is a great opportunity to meet people who are highly interested in social activities, politics and international friendships. We had two sessions every day where we worked on the topic „Building a Culture of Health“, which was selected for ILA 2016. Additionally, we did many activities together for example helping at a community center and visiting a center where they collected food for homeless people and families who could not afford groceries. We also went to different malls and to the historical district of Fort Worth which was great! I will later write a blogpost about the city and its sights.

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Me fooling around, unfortunately my friend who took the photo cut my feet off.

Generally, all the friendly, open-minded and caring people- including Facilitators, Delegation Leaders and Program Participants made the program very special and I assume that there is no other program in the world where everyone is so passionate about and engaged in working together.

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The campus is huge! It is like a little student village.

Additionally, I really liked the topic „Building a culture of health“ because I think in course of the globalization which is followed by more work and also stress, it is very important to care about other people’s cultures and about oneself. Also stress should not be underestimated because people have to be healthy in order to deal with it appropriately. Furthermore, it was great to do group activities and especially visiting business companies in Fort Worth. Thus we got a brief insight into their work and how they help society.

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This is the Football field where the Horned Frogs play American Football. We used to go running every morning at 6am and did some stair running in the stadium. We had to go running very early because breakfast was at 8 and we even had 28 degrees in the morning. (38 degrees in the afternoon)

In addition, I had the honor to interview three very inspiring business people with two other boys of the program. I am very glad that I had this opportunity because I learned a lot about these people, about their work-life-balance and how two deal with too much work and stress.
At this point I would like to thank Sister Cities for offering me this great opportunity!

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Me and the „Horned Frog“

We stayed at the TCU (Texas Christian University) Campus for two weeks but we also spent a weekend in a host family. This weekend with my host family was probably the best weekend in my life so far. They were very friendly and hospitable. They brought me to all the great places in- and around Fort Worth. It was great because they introduced me to activities they also like to do at weekends and I was able to do „typical american things“. They planned the weekend and also asked my what I would like to do, for example going to the Kimbell art museum where I was able to see some of my favorite paintings by Piet Mondrian or Michelangelo. We also went to the rodeo which was very exciting for me because we do not have similar things in Germany. Additionally, we went to a Drive-In movie theater which reminded me stereotypically of the movie „Grease“ – it was great! But these were only three of many activities. They were also very interested in German Culture and in my everyday life. There was always something to talk about.

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The entrance to the Football stadium

Participating in the International Leadership Academy was the best decision of my life and these two weeks were the best weeks in my whole life so far. I would appreciate coming back 2018 or 2019 and hopefully one day I can say „I’ve been to all the Sister Cities countries and I was able to meet all my friends there!“!

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They even had a huge food court, a Starbucks and the Recreation Center (Fitness Center with an indoor track field, 3 Basketball fields, a climbing wall, a gym and two swimming pools) on campus. There were also Beach Volley Ball fields in addition to the Football stadium and the Basketball arena.

Looking at these pictures makes me really sad because I really miss the time and all the people I got to know there. I miss the hot sun in Texas, I miss candy shopping, I miss dancing salsa with my Mexican friends in the evening in front of our dorm, I miss having pool parties and swimming with my friends from Swaziland and I really miss my host family. Actually it is really hard to write about this experience because my eyes are almost filled with tears.
But I should not be whining because I am grateful for this experience and furthermore, I will be starting my next adventure very soon!

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Me posing in the heat, 100 degrees Fahrenheit

Have you ever participated in a similar program or have you ever experienced something so great that you actually feel miserable thinking about it because you really miss the the people and the place? Let me know in the comments!

Love,
Sophie

Reconsidering – How to survive the 21st century

Every morning you wake up at the same time, moaning into your pillow, wishing you could just stay in bed forever. You crawl out of your bed, exhausted. Your body is aching from all the stress you had the past few weeks. Walking into the bathroom, your eyes are still in pain because of the bright lights you just turned on. Looking into the mirror, your eyes move across the wrinkles on your forehead and the dark circles around your tired eyes. Your cheeks look sunken and the emptiness in your gaze reflects the inner turmoil you are fighting every day.

Can you relate to this description? Then you should probably read on.

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Today many people suffer from this „fatigue“. In the course of globalization and the increasing competition on the labour market, we have to work a lot in order to make a living.
Twenty years ago, it was common to do the same job for decades.
But in the 21st century, the world is moving forward at a tearing pace. And we have to keep up with it. Globalization and technology demands us to accelerate our working, to be perfectionist about everything we do and to give 100% everyday and every time.
Some people collapse while trying to fit in the image of the perfect man/woman of the 21st century, with good cause.

However, life should not only consist of working, worrying, stressing and failing.
The #YOLO hype is (Thank God!) over, however, the idea is important and we should refer to it once in a while.
Since I often think about how to destress and how to (sometimes) give a ****,
I would like to share my personal „Stress-Survival-Kit“ with you, although these tips are very basic I guess.

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You will never be perfect

Doing a perfect job always depends on the view and the mindset of the person who is judging you. Everyone has his own priorities and ideas and you cannot please them all.
There are people in the world who will love to see you stumbling and tumbling and these people will do everything to make you fall. You should be aware of this and try to understand their way of thinking.
What matters at the end of the day, is that you are at least content with what you have already achieved. You will never be perfectly happy with your work.
If you give 80% and people are satisfied with your work, everything is fine. Why should you give 100% if nobody will ever appreciate the effort you put in your work?
What I want to say with this is, that you should not put too much effort into something, when you already know that nobody will acknowledge it.

Learn to manipulate

No, this does not mean that you should hatch plots. What I actually mean is that you should learn how other people think. If there is someone who wants to detain you from being successful, you need to manipulate him in a way that he is thinking that you adapt to his will, although you are not. You need to learn how to act correctly while secretly achieving your goals.

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Know your purpose

Before being successful, you need to know what your goals are. Nobody ever became successful through wandering around without knowing his purpose.
Know your weaknesses and your strengths and elaborate on them.
Admitting that you are not very good at something and doing something about it, will actually make you stronger and admirable.

Learn to say NO

Learning to say no is something which makes you powerful and will give you the strength to manage the important tasks at work and in your life.
Doing everything at once will exhaust you and because of the upcoming stress you will have to deal with, your projects will lack quality.
Hence, you should prioritize and focus on the tasks that really matter and the ones which will enrich your (work-)life.

Down shifting

Lacking energy and motivation is human. If your motivation is gone, you will need to fuel yourself with positive energy.
Find your work-life balance and know your limitations.
Do something that sparks joy, play an instrument or do charity.
Doing charity work will help you to understand that your problems are (usually) temporary and that there are people who truly need YOUR help.
Helping other people will probably get you back on track because it refreshes your mind and you will bear a helping hand.

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What is your „Stress-Survival-Kit“? What do you think about mine? Please share your thoughts in the comments, albeit you may have a completely different opinion on this topic.

 

And always remember: „Every cloud has a silver lining!“

 

Love, Sophie

 

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