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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Three simple things I learned on the Kenyan countryside

and the invaluable stories behind it

One week on the countryside is always like vacation. Leaving city life behind for a short while, I got my battery charged again. And I carried three tremendously simple but very powerful lessons from there:

People are more important than work.

We were supposed to go to the field for work that morning. I was ready. Wearing sunscreen, rubberboots, working clothes and a hat, the water bottle filled, and the hoe in front of the door. But we didn‘t leave.

A son to the family had just arrived.  He doesn’t come for a visit often. So people talked. In a language I don‘t understand. They shared stories while the sun rose quickly.

One hour later the sun had already reached a high point. It makes digging hard and uncomfortable. The earlier you start, the better. And yet, cups were refilled with tea.

I was a bit annoyed, but then I realised: This realtive is who counts now. We haven‘t seen him for long, and we want to share stories. We want to settle things that have been lingering and remained without solution. Work can wait! Let us treasure the visitor, while he is still around, instead of stressing about whether we will dig the field or not.

Now is more important than later.

One day later we wanted to visit a girl whom we regularly support. It was a one hour drive and you never know what happens on the road.

I wondered: Would we reach there in time? Would we get into rain? Should we carry an umbrella? Where would we eat lunch? How would we manage to buy things with her in the market? How would she react? How would it turn out?

What if the whole trip was not going to be successful at all?

I thought all that at the bread wholesale shop of Uncle Bread. He has the same light blue eyes like his mother, whom I call Dani, which means Granny. Suddenly I realised how welcome and secure I am in this family network.  We were in Uncle Bread‘s shop, discussing family matters, while I watched children play and ducks pass by and retailers stack their bikes with crates of bread. NOW was important.

Appreciating each other is more important than profitability.

I am paying schoolfees for the girl, and my mentality is that of an accountant. Every single cent I want recorded in a well-organised table.

But there is also the teacher who brings her to the meeting with me. There is her father who knows that I am paying school fees for his daughter, while he is struggling to feed his family. There is her mother who is hearing impaired and doesn‘t understand why all these visitors, including her daughters head teacher, are suddenly sittig in her living room. There are the older siblings of the girl, and a cousin with a baby who stays there, too. They hide in the back of the house because they think it‘s all about the school girl.

And to all of them, we give money. In secret ways, sometimes through the girl, we let them have some notes. And although they are not recorded nor being accounted for, it makes sense to me much later. It’s a way of appreciating them. They know that the girl has gotten money from us. And they will ask her for it, because money is always scarce. But for the head teacher to continue with his support, we must appreciate him. For the father to keep sending his daughter to school instead of asking her to help farming for food, we need to appreciate him. For the siblings to not become jealous, it is better to leave some money than encouraging their questions and jealousy.

It may sound strange and it took me a long time to accept it, because I come from a country where money is not that scarce, but appreciation with payment is not only accepted but a common thing to do here. And it is an accepted way we can thank those people for their continous help and trust.

Meanwhile, the Outgoing Novemeber Challenge continues, and I post photo at facebook.

I would love to find you on my list, too, so that you never miss a post.

Six lessons I learned in August while moving to Kenya

#1

Have you set goals in the beginning of this year? I did.

But what happens when, after half a year, they become irrelevant and you feel lost? I did!

I finished my studies, moved to Kenya and took up blogging again. Bham! Half of my goals reached – in the blink of an eye. Now I’m confused about the rest I set in January, in Sweden.

Goals change in the course of the year, because we change. The world changes. Conditions change. My plans and goals have become very flexible recently, which doesn’t make me less accountable.

I have redesigned my goals until around coming July. Why not make some resolutions now? We don’t need the first of January to be ambitious and motivated!

 

#2

It’s amazing how humans are creatures of habit. At least I am.

When I moved in with A, I thought we would definitely need a tray for the dishes, at least two more basins, a lot more plates, a replacement for the spongy matrass, and maybe a fridge? A very tiny one to fit into our tiny apartment?

Guess what: After the acquirement of exactly two more plates and one table, I am used to store the dishes next to the sink, washing in the only available basin, stretching tactics to make maximum use of the available space on the matrass and cooking for one or maximum two meals, because we can’t store food for long. Delaying a purchase is still the best method to not buying stuff at all.

 

#3

I learned how dangerously fascinating the internet is. Having unlimited wireless internet is indeed a luxury here, until I took it for granted.

As an unemployed housewife trying to take her blog to the next level, I spend hours and days in front of my laptop.

Luckily enough, we have blackouts now and then, which painfully reminds me that there is a life outside the internet, too, and that real inspiration can only come from there.

 

#4

You want to know how a lot of wonderful things happened to me recently? I engaged.

Taking part in a guided tour through City Center did not only tell me many stories that are sleeping behind old buildings, but it also connected me with a very creative film team.

I met old friends and they told me about their projects and where they want to involve me.

I told The Wandering Samaritan about myself, and they might donate some sewing machines for a school that I support.

I took part in some online courses, challenges, seminars and groups, and my head now has a hard time to handle the inspiration overkill because I met these beautiful people who also engage.

It is often hard to leave my comfort zone, and it would be easier to stay at home, but only if I do something, I can trigger something else to happen.

 

#5

Some things have been annoying me, in this new life of mine.

The ants in the kitchen, for instance. The dust resuming territory shortly after I have cleaned the apartment. The Friday night noises on the street downstairs.

But I realised, it’s not the ants or the dust or the noises. I am the problem.

The ants are just walking their usual ways, and the dust just follows gravity, and the people are just behaving like anyone would on a Friday night, having fun.

I am in their way, so I breath, and step aside.

Hello, little ant, you want to crawl over my keyboard here on the laptop? Oh, even my finger? Sure, go ahead, I will let you, and we’ll be friends forever, walking into the sunset…

 

#6

Meanwhile, not worrying too much has continuously been proven to be a very good mind set, or attitude, or strategy. Otherwise, how can I still be sane, in a city like Nairobi, with a Master in journalism and no income?

What have you learned last month? I’d like to hear your lessons in the comments.

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