You will be fine

I just had another bucket poured out over me. (I wrote elsewhere about things happening in bulk. Now I like to think about them happening in buckets.)

A bucket of feeling low, having no motivation and being terribly unproductive. I was supposed to do certain things but I couldn’t get enough motivation to do them, so I basically wasted a good amount of days doing nothing.

I hated myself for that.

Which didn’t really make things much better. On the contrary. When you hate yourself, it’s even harder to get yourself motivated again to do something. And as the days slipped by, as the to-do lists got longer and as the procrastination got worse, I sank deeper into the hole I was in, and my feeling of guilt grew.

Until I remembered two things.

One: The best way out is always through. Robert Frost.

So I waited. I sat it out. I meandered through the low days, knowing that this was the best way to overcome them and get my motivation back.

I knew that at some point I would become bored of my own boredom and be inspired by something again. I had to force myself through it to get out of it.

It’s like walking in a tunnel and you don’t see the end yet, but you know there is no diversion, you must walk on until you see the light at the end.

Two: You will be fine.

Or as Leo Babauta writes: You’ll Be OK. Feeling low, unmotivated, uninspired is a phase that shall end and afterwards I will have even learned something.

This post is the best proof for it. It’s about the lessons I learned in a really low phase.

We all get stuck in painful situations, definitely much more painful than just being uninspired.

A break-up. The death of someone close. An accident. Financial problems. An argument with someone. These are all terrible things that nobody wants to be in, including myself.

But if stuck in such a situation, be sure that there is something that can sooth our sore souls, heal our wounds and give us enough strength and inspiration to keep walking through it.

In a self-discovery course I realised that avoiding pain is human, but going back to some pain from the past and exploring it – carefully, lovingly and only with the best intentions – can teach us some tremendous lessons about ourselves.

In retrospective, things look a bit smaller than at that time when we are stuck inside the mess. If we keep that in mind, as hard and old-fashioned it may sound, then the mess we are in right now is a bit easier to endure.

Even if later you will not laugh about it, you may be able to learn, so wait, sit through it, take care of yourself, gather the pieces afterwards and put them together in a new order.

What did you learn from a moment you were really low? And what helped you through? Let me know in the comments.

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Relationship advice from a bicontinental couple

There are two things I learned from being married for two years. Well, to be honest, there are probably a million things I learned. But most of it is boring, obvious, old couple kind of stuff: communicate the heck out of it, always always always be grateful and say it – and mean it! Don’t try to change the other person, and do your thing independently. See? Boring!

But I recently became aware of how important these following two things are:

  1. Always have something to look forward to.

It’s actually not my own advice. I read it on Jeff Goins’ blog. For our two year jubilee I gave my husband a photo of us looking out of the window of the train going to Mombasa. And I put that sentence in fancy retro letters next to it.

Always having something to look forward to doesn’t necessarily mean holidays, but it generally involves a break. It’s important to break the routine, make life interesting again, trigger new feelings, experiences and some learning. Some excitement.

This serves as a motivation to keep pushing through the daily life, even if it’s hard or boring or almost not bearable.

You need that new thing that you both can work towards and that you both will then enjoy.

When is your next holiday? Or when is a friend of you both coming to visit? Are you going to move? Do you want to paint a wall in your apartment or throw a party? Go to the cinema, the theatre, a concert, a restaurant? Are you going to get a pet or a car, or sell your car, or start gardening?

Make it something big, work both towards it and then enjoy.

  1. Leave with a smile. And then return with a smile.

My husband goes to university almost daily, and I remain home. Recently he told me something he had discovered:

“Whenever I leave here smiling, it is going to be a good day.”

That really struck me. When we say goodbye, both of us might already be entangled in the day’s duties, in the problems and tasks ahead, that we forget to actually treasure the moment and person right in front of us.

If something is lingering in the back of your mind (The dishes are still in the sink unwashed. – He’s wearing yet another pair of shoes. – I wonder whether I will get all the things done today.), it will keep eating on your spirit there (What if she doesn’t wash the dishes until I return? – Where shall we store all these shoes of his? – This is too much meaningless work, I will never finish.) and lead to an explosion upon return (What? She didn’t wash the dishes? The lazy lass! – What? He bought yet another pair? I’m going to throw them out of the window! – Obviously I didn’t tick all the tasks. What a useless day, and tomorrow is going to be worse.).

Two boiling pots, and we are about to witness what happens when we pour them together.

Explosion! Misunderstanding! Hurting!

Yes, everybody carries their baggage, but when we say goodbye for the day, let’s just switch those voices off a bit and truly smile. Because in that way, despite a horrible day, we will know that there is someone who loves us and whom we love back.

Do I already sound like an old married lady? Let me know in the comments please, and be honest!

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When it’s 2015 and you get your first smartphone

or: On changing people and principles and what really defines a person.

I recently took down the sentence “I don’t own a smart phone“ from my About-page. It was true until April 2015.

I am generally not very good with phones. That is not a big problem in Germany, where I relied on the good old landline. But even there I got a lot of complaints because text messages could go unanswered for a week or longer because I just never opened my mobile phone.

Since in Kenya I don’t have a landline, a mobile phone is essential. My mobile phone is yet again unique, because it is so old that it is unable to show 2015 on its calendar. (I put it back to 1998, because the days and dates are the same.) It also doesn’t have ringtones, it only vibrates and sometimes even just blinks blue. You generally have to be a bit lucky if you want to reach me through my phone.

Then I started working on my entrepreneurial venture and figured that I will

  • one: spend more time in traffic jams going to town and back for meetings
  • two: spend more time on social media promoting my organisation

That is why I got my sister’s old smartphone. This gives me the opportunity to do emails and social media on the go, during the long commute to the city centre and back, and also some reading of other blogs and websites. Like that, I have more time at home and answers to emails or messages don’t get delayed.

When I started writing friends emails from my smart phone, it must have indicated it, because I got a lot of surprised replies: Laura, you? With a smartphone? Halleluiah, a miracle!

So a part of my claim to be an old soul, a traditionalist, consciously slow and mindful, unique and independent, not giving in to the “evil rush of technology”, all that went to pieces. It’s almost like a satisfaction for people to point their finger and say: See, you are finally giving in. You are not that strong and unique and standing for yourself as you always pretended!

But I realised that is not the point.

It doesn’t matter whether I have a smartphone or not. The point is to know what I am standing for and continue to live the way I want to live. It also depends on how I use it. I haven’t become less of an old soul, a traditionalist, consciously slow and mindful, unique and independent, just because I now own a smartphone.

People change and so do principles because time changes. Principles should not define people.

I may wear the same hat for years and be known for it, but only because I give it up one day doesn’t mean that I am now less of what I was standing for before. We tend to focus on superficialities, because they give us easy orientation.

But the true character of a person doesn’t lie in their accessories or principles. It lies in how people do their things.

What defines you? What are you standing for? And how to people perceive it? Let me know in the comments.

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