Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

I hate that feeling when I know that I am doing something right but it still makes me a little uncomfortable on some level. Part of me wishing that I did not know about anything and could just ignore it. I guess the term is being “blissfully ignorant”. And blissfully stupid. Treading outside the usual comfort zone.

It occupies my mind a lot lately. I know there is always the option to just walk away and ignore but I am not that kind of person. Walking away from something, which I know to be a good thing to stand up for, just because it is outside my every day comfort zone… well that would be much worse to live with. I could not face myself in the mirror, knowing I walked away because I was too chicken-shit to rock the boat.

Taking a stand against or for something is not as easy as it sounds it seems. I mean, look around; every day we are encouraged to just go blindly ahead with our ordinary lives, in an ordinary way, not causing any trouble, not upsetting the order of things. – Who decided the order though?

Go to work and invest your life, give 110% in work because that will make you successful and then you will get somewhere. – But go where and how will that fulfil your life? Working until you are burned out and then what? Will any corporation actually give a toss or just as easily replace you?

Watch TV, preferably a mind-numbing TV reality shows where you can say “well at least my life is not that pathetic”. Watch the news, see how others live and how they mess up so that you can feel good about yourself. – But it is becoming more and more clear that even the news these days are angled for some agenda and no longer unbiased.

With our minds numbed from work, exhausting us to earn money for someone else, to one way TV fed information, telling us that you should focus on consumerism and a superfluous living, why should we care about anything else?

To me it seems that independent thought and a willingness to stand up for others is something that is frowned upon today. Don’t rock the boat.

We have become complacent in our lives. Nothing fazes us any more because we will not acknowledge anything that is uncomfortable to know or hear about. If we do not acknowledge it then we do not need to look into it, we do not need to make a stand for or against. We do not need to care. It has become too easy to not care.

All through-out history people fought for freedom, rights and the very lives that we are privileged to live now.

Does that mean that we can just sit back now? That we are done and we can leave others to whatever end?

There will always be evil in the world. There will always be injustice. There will always be a need for someone to say “stop” and help. If that someone is joined by another and then by another then we can all act together and make a better world. It may sound very altruistic but really, if no-one tries then how will anything change for the better?

“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.” – Dalai Lama.

But no, it is not easy to rock the boat. On the other hand knowing I can help rock the boat and make a positive difference, however small, also means that turning my back on it would be even worse.

Complacency is the worst evil in this world. Look around you and be that someone who reaches out and says “stop”.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. “ – Edward E Hale

One of the best advice I ever got was to write down my thoughts when things felt overwhelming. Initially I could not see the benefit of this. Why would I do this? How could it help me? How would that give me any answers? These were questions I asked myself.

At the time I knew I could no longer express how I felt to others. Not because others did not care but I started to feel like I was a burden. How many times could I repeat the same lament? How many times could people bear to listen?

It is strange when all you want is to feel happy but you just don’t. When you know you need to “snap out of it” but you can’t. I knew I was stuck and I felt like a broken record stuck on repeat. So I stopped saying how I felt. I stopped trying to talk about it. I could not pretend to say things were OK because I just did not have the energy to even do that. I stopped.

With no answers I started to write. Longer pieces, shorter pieces, letters addressed to no-one. Sometimes I pretended I was talking to a friend. Sometimes I just wrote down a mass of words jumbled together. I did not receive any answers but somehow it lessened the tightness in my chest. Piece by piece what I wrote down lighted the burden. Maybe it was because I could be brutally honest. Not having to take into consideration how others might feel. Not having to think about not wanting to worry anyone. I just wrote.

How I felt then and how I feel today is vastly different. Today I look at life and smile. I have a curious positive outlook forward. There will always be down days of course but in general I feel pretty damn good.

I am not trying to say that writing down how I felt back then made me all happy now. There are so many things that made that happening but I am not writing about those changes today. What I am trying to say is that writing down my inner most feelings and thoughts when I was at my lowest helped me getting through it.

Recently, for the first time in a long time, I actually dared to look at those entries that I wrote back then. It was both a scary and emotional experience. I had forgotten how low I felt. I am glad that I once again can put them back in the box. Not forgotten but eased out of mind with a few lessons learned.

Sometimes a simple advice can make all the difference. An advice I will be eternally grateful for.

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Autumn has most definitely arrived in Dublin. The rain has not stopped since yesterday afternoon and the trees are still showing off their leaves. The world is looking colourful. It is beautiful.

Now those who know me, will know that rain is not one of my favorite things in the world. Normally I spend rainy days under a blanket, planted on my sofa with a good book and cup of tea. However today I decided to go outside and take a few pictures before the next autumn storm will scatter all the leaves and just leave us with bare branches for the next few months.

I readily admit that I do not know a thing about photography. If you start talking to me about ISO, white noise and shutter speed settings you will just receive a blank stare from me (you might get that on other occasions as well but lets not go into that…). Which also means that half the settings on my camera are a mystery to me.

You see, the thing is… I spent an afternoon a while back looking at old pictures. I used to only take pictures of people – different gatherings and parties and so forth (if I remembered to bring the camera in the first place). I still love those pictures because they bring back fun memories. However I realized that I hardly ever take pictures of what is around me. It is easy to take all that for granted.

Another thing I have realized lately is that there is beauty to be found everywhere. If you only open your eyes and look. There is enough ugliness in the world as it is – let us not spend our days trying to find more to add to the pile unnecessarily.

So out I went with my umbrella in one hand and my camera in the other – getting strange looks from people hurrying past me as the rain kept lashing down. I can honestly say, I had a great time.

Now… I think I will find that blanket, grab a book and a cup of tea and relax on my sofa.

 

Sometimes it is too easy to focus on all that is annoying and frustrating out there. When you look and all you see is the frustrations in work or school. When you focus on the people who are getting you down. When all you can say are smartass comments about someone’s stupid behavior.

Look around you. What do you see? Everywhere are comments that point out how dumb, stupid and bad someone else is. Everywhere there are programs focusing on people behaving badly. Everywhere someone is saying that someone else did something wrong.

Well… criticism is all well and fine. If it is constructive. Questioning your surroundings and the people around us is something we always should keep in mind. If we do not question, then how can we right something that might be wrong? BUT… when the questioning and criticism just becomes a way to spew out our own shit then what are we accomplishing?

Oh I am no angel and God knows I am guilty of spewing shit with the best of them. Sometimes however I need to pull myself back and remember that if I only look for the bad and spend my time pointing it out then I am also really missing out on all that is good. Funny how we seem to forget to point out things that are good eh?

Sometimes it is easy to forget the good things and the great people in the world. So this time I will remember just those… a few of the good things.

  • The years have flown and much has happened but some friendships just grow and will always be fabulous.
  • Walking out outside and seeing how beautiful Ireland is (even in the rain, horizontal rain at that).
  • Hopping in the car and going to a new place.
  • Getting lost and not giving a damn. (Not that I ever get lost or anything… really.. ever… I’ll deny it).
  • The woman who let me in when I jumped the queue at the turn-off from the motorway (I was late for work… at least that is my excuse and I’m sticking to it…).
  • Seeing the mountains every morning when I drive to work. A sight that always puts a smile on my face.
  • Meeting up with old friends and making new friends. Never a thing to take for granted.
  • Furry kitteh cuddles (even those headbutts that can cause a concussion… what can I say, he is a big cat).
  • Reading Calvin and Hobbes (always makes me laugh).
  • Looking at someone and bursting out in laughter at the same time.

I hope the weekend is treating all of you well and that you will have plenty of laughs. This made me smile:

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Waves crashing against the cliffs, the spray covering my face with tiny salty droplets. Hundreds of seabirds are hovering in the blistering wind. Threatening clouds race across the sky as the drama of the storm unfolds.

A lonely cottage huddles behind some windswept trees. The flickering light from the small window is beckoning. As I enter, the warmth washes over me. All I can hear is the spitting of logs in the fireplace and the muted sound of the wind howling outside.

I sink into the comfortable armchair. A book in one hand, a cup of tea in the other. As I swirl the golden liquid in the oversized cup, I cannot contain the contented sigh that escapes.

Here I can rest. Here I can recharge. This is my place. One day.

 

I know this has been around for a while but I just recently saw it again and for some reason it struck a chord. I printed it and put it up on the wall at my desk. As I sit here I am trying to describe what reading this makes me think and feel but I seem unable to do so. All I can do is share it with you:

a detail of a page from William Morgan's 1588 ...

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I see myself as a pretty well-educated woman. I went to a good secondary school and after that continued to university and have two degrees to show for it. Was I a top of the class student? No. I am no genius nor am I intellectually challenged. I enjoyed learning and it did come to me pretty easily. When I left school I could have a conversation in 5 different languages, translate texts from Latin, have discussions about philosophy, history and in-depth sociological analysis etc. I devoured scientific magazines and was pretty aware of the state of the world in general.

All good yes..? So what has happened? Today I have lost the ability to communicate in 2 of the 5 languages I once knew. Forget Latin. I stumble when I try to remember what I once learned. It actually feels like I have become dumber. The only focus is to learn new things that are work related and even there I sometimes struggle. It is like my brain has developed a teflon shield that makes all new knowledge slide off into oblivion.

It is easy to say “oh just start reading up on everything again and it will come to you in no time”… well that is part of the problem I guess. I have no time to do so or I am so tired that I just cannot focus after work. I really admire anyone who studies in addition to holding down a full-time job.

So at one stage I developed this theory that working actually makes people dumber. In school you are constantly challenged in  many different subjects. There is always something new and wonderful. You discuss, analyze and apply what you learn. There is a never-ending stream of knowledge. In work-life… you focus on your work and the skills needed there. That is all you focus on. It becomes one-sided. Unless you can find a way to continue to grow your knowledge in other subjects and exercise your brain – the ability to learn and adapt is diminished.

I feel I have definitely fallen into this stage for a long time now. It has gotten to a point where I feel embarrassed. Feeling stupid is not something I do well. The worst thing is when a discussion is started and when I KNOW that this is something I used to know a lot about but the words fail me or the details do not appear. Ugh… hate that!

I think I will have to dust of those old books from university and actually make myself reconnect my brain cells again. Because moaning about it is not going to help really is it now…

Now why did I not stay in uni and do a PhD instead…?

Glas of german "Würzburger Hofbräu" ...

Image via Wikipedia

In this particular moment I am sitting on my balcony in my sun-chair with my laptop in my lap (obviously –  as I have yet to invent telepathic blogging…working on it though). I have a cold beer (German pilsner) next to me and let me tell you… it is oh so good! The sun is shining, there is not a cloud in the sky and the temperature is hovering around 25 c in the shade. Can it get any better than this??

It is a bank holiday weekend, meaning that all are off on Monday as well. As we do not get this sort of weather often in Ireland our managers in work decided that we could all leave at 3pm to enjoy the sun and to have a great long weekend. This month will be mad busy in work so they basically told everyone to go home and chill while we can. Yep… it is a pretty decent job that I have, even though it can drive me mad at times.

Tomorrow I will head into the Wicklow Mountains with a friend and go for day of hiking. Ending it with a night in a B&B before heading back to Dublin. The weather forecast looks promising and I am really looking forward to it. Will hopefully remember to take some pictures and maybe put together a post later on – provided I have not gotten lost and am halfway to Galway or something… with my sense of direction anything can happen.

It has been a pretty good week altogether. Busy in work but not mentally… yet. Attended a course yesterday called “Emergenetics”. Not sure if anyone of you ever have heard of it or done it but it was great fun. Basically it is about finding out your preferences and certain behaviours etc. It was pretty awesome. It helps in seeing why some people react the way they do and makes you understand others that you work with easier. I am not going to go through my results here. All I will say is that according to my profile my emergenetics motto is: “Efficiency with feeling”… LOL!!

I will continue to catch some rays now and try to get a somewhat resemblance off a tan. Living in Ireland means that you must take every available opportunity there is to get some sun. I was supposed to clean my apartment but there is no way I am doing that right now. Hope you all have a great weekend wherever you are!

We all have moments when we are not at our best. When life feels overwhelming. When things get to us. When hiding away is tempting.

I struggle with moments like this. I do not like feeling vulnerable, not in front of others or even myself. I normally fight these moments with all I got.

Sometimes though, it is a loosing battle. These are the times when I feel at a loss. I do not know what to do or where to turn. On one hand I do not want to burden anyone with my issues, whatever they may be, even as I know that my friends would be there for me. On the other hand I want nothing more than hear that all will be OK and that people care about me. Pride is a fickle thing.

These low points in life can show up out of the blue sometimes, for no apparent reason. It is not easy when they do. They leave me feeling shaken and vulnerable. I am at the end of a low point at the moment (the reason that triggered it does not matter now) but I am starting to turn the corner.

I pride myself on being self-sufficient. I can take care of myself. I have my faults, like every one else, but I know who I am. What I do not know yet, I am finding out. Gaining knowledge of whom I am is an ongoing process. I have found a strength and a conviction in me that I was not quite aware of previously. I am slowly learning that it is OK to ask for help sometimes. I also have an inborn stubbornness in me that refuses to let me linger in misery for too long.

So yes, this particular battle was lost. I am not losing in the end though. I may fall down many times… but I am getting up each time stronger. Both with help from friends and because I refuse to lay down. I try to learn lessons from the low moments and go on. The good moments are what I choose to define my life with. Life is too short for anything else.

The sun is setting over Dublin. Setting after a very sunny albeit windy day. It has been a great day today. A day filled with sunshine, great company, a nice long walk, good food in a cosy pub and a shandy to polish it off.

I am very happy with how this Sunday turned out… but I am finding myself bored stiff at the moment. No idea why. I do not even know what I would like to do right now. Going out partying does not sound tempting at all. Watching a film is equally uninteresting. If it was not for the late hour I would go to the gym or something I think – which is weird as I am tired at the same time. Maybe it is just that I feel like having some company to chat away to this evening… not sure. I hate it when I get bored and I cannot figure out what to do about it. So I decided to write a post instead. About appreciation.

Anyone who has met me knows that I like to talk. I like to interact with people I know. I am not as chatty when I meet someone for the first time, I can be quite the opposite even. When I was younger I was very shy. You could get about three words out of me if I did not know you. I came across as grumpy a lot (the wonderful teenage years) but in reality I just did not know what to say. As I have gotten older I am no longer shy but I can still be reserved initially. Very quiet and just observing – unless I feel some connection to the person I meet.

At the same time I like silence. I like being on my own as well and just chill but I also enjoy quiet-time in company of others. When you can have moments of silence in company of others without it feeling awkward are rare but very peaceful when they occur. It is something I have come to appreciate more and more over the years.

It is funny how things change of what we appreciate around us with time. I believe it comes with feeling more centered and secure in ourselves. Our experiences in life play their part as well. Some things will always be important, no matter what. The cornerstones I suppose you could call them. For me the cornerstones are: laughter, friends, honesty and an open mind. Pretty simple things but oh so important to me.

People are today being accused of being flighty and restless compared to previous generations. In truth, we are more restless today. The world is smaller and travel has never been so easy and convenient. This is a good thing though in my opinion. I love to travel. I love working in a different country. My appreciations have not changed though. They have actually become more solid. Traveling, meeting new people and having new experiences all contributes to an open-mindedness that was not as prevalent before. Being away from my place of birth has made the bonds of friendship that I have all the more vital and important to me. Without honesty, I would not have gotten where I am today. Finally without laughter neither honesty, friendship or an open mind would make a difference. If I cannot laugh at the world, the situation, with others or even at myself – then what good is there?

So I guess being able to smile is what makes the world spin for me. Funny how this post started with boredom and ended with a smile.