28 Dec 2012

New Beginnings

On New Year's Eve we get this solemn feeling of approaching a new beginning. We think of New Year's resolutions and we really believe we'll keep them. I like that solemn feeling. There's something about putting your efforts into a Resolution with complete determination... like "tomorrow I will be a new and better person".
Unfortunately, some days or weeks into the new year we often find ourselves living on exactly like we did in the old year, having forgotten everything about the resolution, our determination and the New Beginning. That's so sad. We might even loose faith in the possibility of ever changing ourselves or our lives.
The good news is: we can change! At any given day, like 17 March, I can decide to leave what happened yesterday behind, draw the lessons from what went wrong and make a leap not only into a new day but also into a New Life. I can decide to leave one of my bad habits behind,  like making "witty" comments to everything people say.
It only needs three things: Determination, Concentration, and Stopping.
If I have taught myself to stop and take three conscious breaths every now and then during my day, I can use that as a help to catch myself when I'm falling back into unwanted behavior. And the more often I catch myself in the act, the more often I will learn to stop before it has happened - and do nothing. I take a deep breath, instead of making that comment (for example). It makes me feel incredibly good about myself when I succeed, and I promise you: the more often it happens, the more often it will happen again. The famous snowball effect!
So the 1 January feels like an extra serious New Beginning. I have decided on an somewhat more weighty improvement action - and when I wake up after the New Year's Eve party I will ... (The Resolution)... with Determination and Concentration, and with the help of Stopping.
A New Beginning fit for a New Year :-)

22 Dec 2012

The Feast of Light

Soon it's Christmas, and not only children are looking forward to the most important feast in this part of the world. We all have our reasons for loving it: for some it's the gifts and sweets, for many it's sharing time with your beloved ones, and for others it's just some days off from work to relax at home.
In the secularized societies here in western Europe, few persons really celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, it's more a nice family tradition, but I want to think about why I'm celebrating. Why do I decorate my home, why do I prepare special food, why do I get extra nice chocolate and presents for my dear ones?
Having turned my back to Christianity I celebrate Christmas as the Feast of Light and Generosity.
We light lots of candles to symbolize the return of the light after this darkest month of the year. I do it with a strong reminder to shed light inside myself, on how I live and what I think, say and do. The important thing is to really live by my values.
Generosity is symbolized by the gifts and the abundance of food. Luckily it's not only about little Me... We are many who feel an increased need to help others, be it by inviting a lonely neighbor for dinner or donating an extra amount of money to charity.
For me real "Christmas Spirit" comes when I celebrate with less and enjoy it more, and when my heart is full of gratitude and completely open for others, without any exceptions.

Merry Christmas to you, and enjoy the Feast of Light!

15 Dec 2012

Magic December

Kate Bush is so right: there's something magic about December...
It's the snow, covering our dark and cold world up in white, making it shine again. It's all the candles, making any room feel warm and homey. It's the smells: of special Christmas cookies or mulled wine, of spices and incense. It's the sound of favorite Christmas songs or, if I'm very lucky, of crunching snow, and it's so much more in connection with the most important feast of the year in this part of the world.
Having grown up with both German and Swedish Christmas traditions (both countries being almost Christmas-addicted) I am very much into decorating, preparing special foods, beverages and sweets, but most of all: I adore just cuddling up inside among candles, with something nice and warm to drink and a good book to read, while it's dark and cold outside.
The magic of December is enchanting me every year, and I enjoy it all the way into January :-)
And what about the reason for this feast, the birth of Jesus Christ? My reason might be a bit different, but the core is still the same...

Snow in a warm light

9 Dec 2012

The Art of Stopping

This time of the year is often very hectic. Loads of things to arrange, Christmas preparations and events, and I'm not even talking about presents... At work meetings and deadlines are piling up - everybody wants to round of important tasks before the festive days start.
It's easy to be dragged along in this speedy tempo, and start running around at an ever increasing speed with your shoulders under your ears.
That's when it helps a lot to just STOP. Proper Stopping is an art, and it has to be practiced frequently in order to really enter your system.
Whenever I feel I'm just racing and my mind starts to get blurry I force myself to STOP: I stand still and breathe deeply twice. I empty my mind and let go of the tensions in my body.
When I pick up the tasks at hand afterwards I have slowed down enough to be able to - smile :-)

2 Dec 2012

Grandma's Message

Everybody that enters my life is here to teach me something.
This became very evident at the funeral of grandmother Anna. I felt the need to say a few words, to express my gratitude for having been a small part of her life, and I wanted to thank her for her positive influence on me.  What was essential in her life and has become essential in mine, too.
It's the message of love and care: one of our most important missions here on earth is to take care of each other. We are not only here to live our own little lives - there is a much bigger picture and we can only manage the important tasks in life if we help and support each other.
Thank you Anna for being such a good example. Thank you for leaving such a beautiful message.

24 Nov 2012

Take a Leap

For some time I have been wanting to change jobs, do something different, something more "meaningful". I had eagerly followed one trail, but finally it lead nowhere. That left me somewhat subdued... What now?
Then I realized that there are some changes I can do in the very situation I'm in. It's not about getting another job. It's about how I do the job I have! It's about how I live my everyday life.
I know in what direction I want to go. I have a very clear picture of that. It's just that some kind of ... laziness?... hinders me from really walking that path. Because walking that path requires discipline and full concentration.
So standing at the end of that lost trail I understood the lesson: I don't need to change anything in my life situation, I need to change how I live. And I know what to do: take a leap!
I will double my concentration, and double my efforts. With all my energy I will sort out unnecessary things and actions, actively diminish time wasted carelessly. I will concentrate on living each moment in full awareness.
Thank you Life, for showing me. Now it's up to me to leap!

18 Nov 2012

Wake Up To Gratitude

My colleague S came to lend me a book. "Since you're so interested in Colombia, you might find it worthwhile to read. Once I started, I couldn't stop reading it", she said. It was "Même le silence a un fin", where Ingrid Betancourt tells the story about her being kidnapped and held as a hostage by the FARC guerilla in Colombia during 6 long years.
My spontaneous reaction was "No, thank you" - I wasn't sure I was up to such a cruel story, to so much suffering. But I didn't want to be impolite, so I took the book and started reading. She was right: once you picked it up, you couldn't put it away, despite the horrifying story.
I almost think I needed that book: every now and then I have to be shaken up a bit, forced out of my comfort zone. If not for any other reason, then at least to realize what a fantastic life I live, how extremely lucky I am to be safe, healthy - and free.
I am so filled with gratitude. Thank you, Life, for letting me to exist under such good circumstances. I want to show my gratitude by living this life in a caring and generous way and by not holding anything back.

10 Nov 2012

Goodbye

We knew that Grandmother would soon leave us. At ninety three she had caught pneumonia, her body did not respond to the antibiotics and she had stopped eating. She had decided to go.
By "coincidence" I got the chance to see her on Monday.  She slept the whole time, I just sat by her side, holding her hand and gently patted her cheek and softly talked to her. At one point she woke up and was happy to see me. She seemed at peace.
Friday night a very caring lady from the old people's home called and told me Anna had quietly passed away. Luckily I was with my oldest daughter when the message came; so good for both of us.
Anna was a wonderful person with a very big and warm heart, and she leaves such a void among us, her small family, but also among all the countless people she helped and served during her long career as a doctor.
We all miss you very much, Anna, but I agree with my daughter: "if there's a paradise, that's where Anna is now". And we are happy for your sake.

With Tenderness and Light

3 Nov 2012

Yesteray's Quote

In a beautiful little book by Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhist monk, peace activist, and poet) I read inspiring quotes at breakfast.
Yesterday's quote just needs to be passed on. It's called The Best Moment of Your Life.
"If someone were to ask us "Has the Best moment of your life arrived yet?" we may say that it will come very soon. But if we continue to live in the same wait may never arrive. We have to transform this moment into the most wonderful moment, and we can do that by stopping - stopping running to the future, stopping worrying about the past, stopping accumulating so much. You are a free person, you are alive. Open your eyes and enjoy the sunshine, the beautiful sky, and the wonderful children all around you. Breathing in and out consciously helps you become your best - calm, fresh solid, clear, and free, able to enjoy the present moment and the best moment of your life."
In the train to work I tried to convey this feeling to all the sleepy fellow travelers, half-reading free newspapers. And even if I did not succeed in doing that, I myself felt very calm, fresh, solid, clear, and free.

Wonderful Source of Inspiration


27 Oct 2012

Responsible for My Time

A friend read an inspiring book about getting in command of your own time.  The author had deleted the expression "I don't have time" from his vocabulary. He's so right! When we say that we really mean "I don't feel like it" or "I have other preferences".  Of course you have time, you just have to take responsibility over how to use it.
This inspired me to make a list of the things I really want to spend my time on. There are categories like Keep in Touch, Enjoy Nature, My Body & My Soul, Kitchen Pleasures, Creativity, and Inspiration. A very helpful exercise: I immediately saw where I need to invest more of my precious time to be satisfied with life. So today I spent a fair amount of time with Kitchen Pleasures: baking bread, making a fantastic mushroom soup and roasting butternut pumpkin in the oven :-)
Another list to do is one of the Time Eaters, in order to see them clearly and diminish their effect. Thinks like: internet, shopping, zapping in front of the TV... Doing them is OK, but consciously, and for the amount of time I myrself decide.
I want to take full responsibility over my time. I don't want to throw time away, but instead make a conscious choice on how to use each moment of the precious time I have left.

19 Oct 2012

A True Role Model

With an opulent yellow hibiscus flower (still from my balcony!) I went to the old people's home to visit my friend Mr. Laubi. When I arrived at his room, there was another name on the door...
So Mr. Laubi has left us. For himself, I can only feel relief, his last weeks must have been very difficult. He suffered from an awful sickness called ALS, a progressing muscle atrophy.
Almost a year ago, when I got to know him, he was already in a wheelchair and needed help with eating and smoking his beloved after dinner cigar, and I have followed his deterioration.
Still, every time I visited him, he had a smile on his face, even the last time when he could only lie down and his speech was no longer understandable.
Yet, even with such a cruel illness, Mr. Laubi was always ready for a joke - and always grateful for the little things he still could do or enjoy. What an amazing man! A true role model.

Like the one for Mr. Laubi

14 Oct 2012

My Me Day

In the spiritual tradition that I follow one of the causes for unhappiness is the exaggerated emphasis on "me", the ego. To me this seems very valid, so I always try to let go of the "I", the "me", and the "mine" - or as Tara Brach put it, "undo the personhood". I can really see and feel how complicated and difficult life gets when one is constantly having one's own navel as the center of the universe.
However, once a year I completely indulge in celebrating myself - on my birthday!
I make a special breakfast, dust of the special birthday cup (a family treasure), enjoy opening cards and presents and then start into even a working day with a Very Happy Feeling. Congratulations from my colleagues, text messages from family and friends along the day make me really happy, and in the evening I'm out for an extra nice birthday dinner with a friend (thank you Sofia!).
Why do I do this? Well, one day filled with the happy side of *being me* is lovely, and it lasts for a long time (even though perhaps not for a whole year ;-)

Sei Glücklich!

7 Oct 2012

Dignity & Kindness

When I walk somewhere, I try to remember doing it the mindful way, as Walking meditation.
During the years I have tried out different techniques, connecting the steps with breathing or using mantras. Now I concentrate on binding together my posture with feelings of how I walk through life.
Breathing in I concentrate on head held high, spine nicely erect and I think "Dignity". Dignity, like a lion walking (even in his cage): well measured, not too quickly, knowing his strength.
Breathing out I feel shoulders relaxing, hips softly moving, and a warm smile in my heart and I think "Kindness". Kindness that is needed to balance strength, and to make it - human.
This is how I want to walk. This is how I want to live.

30 Sep 2012

In Difficult Situations - Stop and Pause

One of my friends suddenly drew back, cutting off our contact. She lives quite far away, so it was per email;  it made me uneasy and sad. I couldn't understand her silence, couldn't remember having said or done anything that might have hurt her. I asked what I had done, but she didn't want to take it up per email; we'd better meet. She was right, of course: words easily distort a message, and they can be misunderstood.
Months went by. It took half a year before we met again, over a cup of tea downtown. She told me I hadn't been there for her in difficult times, I had "shrugged off" her pain, changing the subject. This was hard for me to take in. I honestly didn't remember the examples, and this is really not how I want to act,  or how I see myself: as somebody who floats on the sunny side, who turns away from hardship and pain. Someone who is not able to cope with "the dark sides of life".
I would have preferred not saying anything at all there and then. I would have preferred letting it sink in and reacting after a night's sleep. Now I felt that was impossible - we would not meet again for a while, and my friend expected a reaction.
In this situation I did what I've learnt over the years on how to deal with difficult situations with others: I stopped and breathed, pausing for a moment. Then I answered very carefully, neither turning to exaggerated excuses nor to strong reactions to the "accusations". I just tried to talk from my heart.
For me, this is essential in difficult situations: to Stop and Pause. I need to take some deep breaths, and relax. Look deeply and honestly at what is being said, and - absolutely crucial - leave the Ego out, and forget any (hurt) pride. Just talk from the heart - from one Friend to another.



22 Sep 2012

Slowly Leaving

Yesterday I visited dear Anna at the old people's home in M. With her 93 years, Anna is very tired. She mainly just lies on her bed, dozing away most of the time. It was one of those days when she doesn't want to speak, so when she was awake she might indicate something with her thin, soft hand but otherwise she'd just lie there and smile. Sleep and smile.
I sat next to her for a couple of hours, holding her hand, talking about  this and that when she was awake, but mainly I just sat there. Luckily I had brought some needlework, not to fall asleep myself!
Even if sleeping most of the time, I think Anna enjoys these visits. I hope she feels my love and gratitude, which I try to convey with little gestures as seing to it that she is well covered upp in her blanket, trying to get her to drink some juice, adjusting her pillow, or just hugging her and caressing her cheek.
As so often I think: "this is also a way to leave life; slowly, slowly, day by day, breath by breath". Who knows for how long we will still have Anna around? Dear Anna, the woman who mainly lived for others; for God, for all her patients as medical doctor, for her son and grandchildren? We all owe her so much, and I hope she can feel our deep thankfulness and love.

17 Sep 2012

Togetherness

I know there's nothing exceptional in loving to do something you like together with somebody you love, but that's what I've been doing for a good week. Now that A was here we did so many nice things together, but the best of them all was preparing, organizing and enjoying our Gourmet Evening.
We invited a very dear friend for dinner, and decided to do The Full Monty: a 5 (almost 6) course menu. So we went through my favorite recipes, googled for more inspiration, crossed two borders for serious grocery shopping, and pondered the presentation, both of the dishes and the table.
The result was wonderful: a lovely evening in great company, a feast for the eyes and the palates :-)
Cooking is one of my (our!) passions in life and when combining it with Togetherness like this it's just... pure pleasure!

The new place mats set the tone

12 Sep 2012

Reality Takes Over

For ten long days I have a wonderful guest at home, and I want to enjoy every minute of her stay.
While I'm at my working place, she writes on her work at home. Afterwards, all these little pleasures of being together: taking walks and talking about whatever pops up, cooking nice meals and enjoying them in each others' company, watching movies and laughing or crying together...
So my computer remains closed and real life takes over the time spent in front of the screen. Luckily!
The most important person is always the one you're with and the most important activity is trying to make him or her happy. Not always easy, but in this case it comes very naturally :-)

Not here, but her

6 Sep 2012

Spreading It Out

Today the Meditation Group at my workplace met for the first time. Six colleagues came, and nobody fell asleep ;-)
I definitely had "forced" myself to start up such a group, but for a good reason: meditation and mindfulness have had such a positive effect on the way I live my life, that for a long time I've felt the urge to spread the word, or better: the practice.  I'm convinced that most people can profit from bringing more mindfulness into their lives.
I had prepared myself well, and gotten quite some good suggestions and support from my friends (Buddhist or not), but still I was very nervous before this first session. Well, just a normal hurdle to overcome -  and it was worth it. I got positive feedback from all six participants afterwards!
For me, this was a big step, and it has also boosted my own daily practice. I am really happy now, just like the little Buddha under the tree :-)
Smile Meditation


30 Aug 2012

Autumn Rain

Today it's been raining cats and dogs, and outdoor temperature has fallen with 10°C. For the first time in months, I was freezing on my (wet) way home. On 30th August, that can only mean one thing: autumn is here. Sigh....
Don't get me wrong: I love this season, being an Autumn Child. Not much beats the rich, full colors of a clear autumn day. I've started loving rain (thanks to Dominique Loreau: "Aimer la pluie, aimer la vie" :-) ), and I love to cuddle up at home on dark evenings with a pot of tea and a good book.
The only thing is I really dislike freezing... Well, the light summer clothes have to make space for socks and full-length trousers, warm sweaters and shawls again.
I just have to realize summer is over for now, set my mind to autumn and winter, keep myself nice and warm - and remember that summer will be back next year!

Soon we're there...

27 Aug 2012

The Glory of a Morning Glory

Earlier this summer I got two little black seeds from my neighbor. I planted them in the big pot with the residues of my big wisteria (which died last winter) and shortly after two little climbers emerged. Well, they grew like crazy and soon enough the wisteria trellis was full of big, fresh green fig tree like leaves. It looked wonderful - but where were the flowers...?
My neighbor told me to be patient, and I can only say: my patience was greatly rewarded. Now the trellis is overflowing with flowers! As the name indicates, the Morning Glory flowers early in the morning and it is a feast for the eye: an abundance of beautiful blue flowers, all turned towards the rising sun. Mine are blue, but they also come in purple and pink.
I want to recommend anybody who has a pot, some soil and something for it to climb on to plant Morning Glory seeds next spring. They need no special care - just sun and water - and every morning they will remind you of the miracles of Life and Growth with a sea of flowers :-)

Good morning Sun, good morning Life!

23 Aug 2012

Angst vor der eigenen Courage

This German saying expresses my current state of mind: You're scared by your own courage... I've never been comfortable being a teacher or leading a group, and now I've decided to initiate a Meditation & Mindfulness group at my workplace!
After having settled it all with our boss and the internal communicator I feel really nervous! How will it go? Will there be any colleagues interested or will just one or two show up? Are they going to be deadly bored or will it actually give them something?
Because I find meditation and mindfulness so important for a good balance in life, I'd like to spread ways of practicing them to others. Now I've decided to challenge myself and DO that. Never mind my personal fears of failing as an instructor! :-)
By preparing myself well I hope to catch my colleague's interest and spread practices that have helped me so much. Hopefully I'll be able to sow some seeds...

19 Aug 2012

Hiking Queen turned to Hiking Joker

Of all the hundreds of more or less great hikes I've done since I moved here, finally one went really wrong...
Unclear information in Internet and bad signing got me to walk, climb and creep (yes!) up a mountain on my way to a nice châlet, where I'd booked a room, only to discover that this first part of the hike was wrong and that I would never make it to "my" room before it turned night and dark. I had to face facts and cancel it.
What do you do, up on a mountain, exhausted after a really strenuous hike, with no place to sleep to be found? It was so beautiful up there that I considered spending the night outside, but since it started getting chilly already at 8 and I only had a light woolen sweater that was not an option.
I just had to hike to my starting point way down in the valley again. Even that distance was too long to make before nightfall, so I hitch-hiked and was lucky to have nice people taking me along.
From there I took the train northwards, an almost 4 hour long trip, bringing me home in the middle of the night. And I had so much looked forward to spending a night at 1.600 m, sleeping in deep silence, waking up in the mountain freshness...
Well, the positive thing about this hiking failure was that I could laugh about it already when it happened. What else can you do? I always have a deep faith that I will be safe and that things will turn out all right. And they do.
This beauty was left behind - for now. But I'll be back!

14 Aug 2012

The Feelings in a Smile

When I smile with all my being I feel...

Alive
Beautiful
Cherished
Divine
Energized
Fairy-like
Gentle
Happy
Intense
Joyful
Kind
Light
Mirthful
Nurtured
Open
Peaceful
Quite good
Relaxed
Satisfied
Trustful
Universal
Vibrant
Welcoming
:-)  XYZ (-:

12 Aug 2012

Singing Inside & Hiking Outside

I take each step in mindfulness
Here and Now

Enjoy each step in mindfulness
Here and Now

So grateful to our Mother Earth
So happy just to be alive

I breathe, I walk, I smile
I breathe, I walk, I smile


Mindfulness was definitely needed here ;-)

10 Aug 2012

Summer Breeze in November

Imagine you could preserve the feeling of a warm summer day, and open the can in November...  Biking home this warm day in August, with the soft summer breeze on my skin, I tried to do the first part of that procedure.
I imagined that I stored this wonderful feeling in my cells, somewhere deep in their centre, like a reserve of sunshine and happiness!
On a very chilly grey day in November, on my way through the freezing rain, my whole being stiff of cold and resistance, I will remind myself of this summer day and check if the procedure works. Perhaps, if I really concentrate, I'll be able to open the can and enjoy a warm August breeze...
Imagine my joy!

Summer sun on my skin

6 Aug 2012

Travel, Not Just Move

Our world is in such a hurry. Everything shall happen in the blink of an eye, and preferably several things at the same time.
Traveling has become more of just moving from one place to another; we fly over many countries in only a few hours, not experiencing anything of the Journey itself - it's merely a transport route.
Of course it's amazing to be able to visit your beloved ones more than 1.500 km away over a week end - but it's not Traveling.
That is why I enjoy my 16 hour summer train trip so much: I pass through different countries and I can see, hear and feel the changes as I slowly approach my destination. I'm not just stressed by all the other people on the same route, but I meet other travelers with time for a chat and perhaps a cup of coffee together in the dining car.
With the Slow Food movement as a model, perhaps a Slow Travel movement should be founded ... ?

Take your time!

2 Aug 2012

Summer Morning Walks

Wonderful summer days, visiting family and friends. Precious moments, shared memories... but it is a lot of sitting and eating! That can make me a bit fidgety after a while. Luckily I've found a remedy: long, brisk morning walks.
Along the yacht beach in H., in the City Park in L. or, what I love the most, on the long sandy beach in M. Waves gently lapping on the shore, seagulls screaming, a fresh breeze and that incomparable light of the seaside... I walk and feel the energy of the universal breath flowing through me, in through the top of my head and out through my feet, into the soft white sand - or the other way round.
My lungs are cleaned, my vital energy is renewed, and I can better keep the restlessness at bay. I return to the house with a healthy breakfast appetite, happy to have restored my mind and moved my body.

27 Jul 2012

Night train to Lisbon

Wrong: that is a very nice book by Pascal Mercier. This night train heads up north, and leaves in only a few hours.
I'm  off for a ten day vacation, to enjoy family and friends, home country light and berries. The long train ride is the ideal starting point: plenty of time for relaxing, reading, eating my picnic, chatting with fellow travelers, and sleeping.  Just the thought of it puts me in a vacation mood!
Once arrived it will be an intense period of coming and going, eating here and sleeping there. I know that I will struggle with the lack of time for myself, but I also know the solution: being Here and Now.
Yes, it's a challenge, a seemingly eternal Work in Progress. Luckily, each time I go it's easier. And luckily, to start off I have sixteen hours on the night train to Copenhagen, all for myself.

25 Jul 2012

Walking on Earth

Finally I am fully incorporating walking meditation into my everyday life. My aim is to walk every single step mindfully! I know that is necessary if I want to live my life fully.
With the inbreath I feel Light  (leaving a light footprint on Mother Earth in every way), and with the outbreath I feel Calm and at Ease. A soft smile is born on my lips, and it spreads all around.
My main challenges are when I'm in a hurry and when I walk in company, but I know that can be done, too. It's just a question of perseverance, and creating new habits.
My footsoles touch the Earth. I am happy to be alive, and to be able to walk and breathe as a free person.

Thank you M, for all your inspiration!

24 Jul 2012

Ponytail Softness

Full summer, over 30°, so on my way through the city I've put up my hair in a ponytail. It's softly bouncing on my back; such a lovely, light and soft feeling!
But not for very long: time has been booked with a hair salon, to cut off 20 cm. Time for some summer hair freshness!
Perhaps that's why today I enjoy the soft hair against my skin so much: it will soon be over...

Another ponytail: Little sister C's

22 Jul 2012

Make Yourself Laugh

Too often, I'm too serious. It's a pity: life is short and there's already much to cry about.
My super coach H. suggested I'd sit down in front of a paper and just laugh out loud - "See what comes up, and be inspired!"
I did. It felt really awkward. But I got myself to laugh and yes, things did come up! Colors, surprises, movement; and lots of childish activities! I wrote them down in "funny ways" on the paper - for inspiration.
What a great practice! I'll continue to do it, be inspired, laugh more - and make others laugh too :-)

My funny V.

20 Jul 2012

Post visitatorum

The first visitor (the Happy Singer) came and went and the second bunch (the Darling Family) did the same. I had a wonderful time with them all, so inspiring and so much fun! We saw beautiful things, visited new places (for them, but also for me), cooked and shared nice meals, discussed, joked and laughed and just enjoyed being together.
After some good nights' sleep I'm back to normal in my own little world again - but, as always after a visit, it somehow has grown.  It is so beneficial to be pushed out of my normal routines, my little circles, and sometimes also out of my comfort zone...
A big Thank You to all of you who enter my world, show me things, and teach me something.
You're always very welcome back! :-)

Happy visitor in the mountains

2 Jul 2012

Blog Pause

Tomorrow visitor I arrives from the US, and stays a week. Next Tuesday it's time for Visitors II, staying another week.
So for a fortnight I put aside my own agenda, reduce meditation, yoga and writing to a minimum, and enjoy the company.
The secret to nice visitor time is to prepare a little, take things as they come, and include the guests in the daily chores ;-) See you in two weeks!

30 Jun 2012

Summertime

(When the living is easy)
I just love being all surrounded by warmth, and how somehow every muscle of my body relaxes into it. My plants seem to feel the same: the balcony gets greener and more flowery by the hour. I can almost see how it sprouts in all the pots! A vacation feeling comes over me - letting go of worries, just enjoying the pure pleasure of sipping some cool water and listening to the children playing football in the park below. I feel like one big smile!
My body loves summertime. And my soul, too.

Warmth, Flowers, Happy Legs

28 Jun 2012

Sleepless in Basel

I know they're here
the Times of Change:
Unrest in my blood
Anxious heartbeat
Sleepless in Basel

I don't know
where I'll go
what I'll do
But I do know
That things will change

From night to day

24 Jun 2012

Lightness

I love butterflies. They have become a symbol for lightness in life - a reminder that I should avoid taking things too seriously, and my wish to live life lightly (without too many possessions and scattered engagements).
It always makes me happy when I see butterflies flutter around, and often I challenge my patience by trying to take pictures of them.
Imagine my happiness, as I sat in the warm grass on a hill yesterday evening, and two small butterflies actually came to sit on my boot. It seemed like a sign that I'm on the right track :-)

Sitting very still for a long time, all three of us

19 Jun 2012

Locked Out

What do you do when you're locked out and know it's going to take some time...? At first I just sat there, staring up the road, hoping for my neighbour to turn up (quite unlikely at 4 PM). Then my friend called and said she'd drop by on her way home with my spare key. Long Live Dear Friends :-)
I went down to the river. Flatboats passed by. Far away from traffic noise I found a bench, still warm from today's sun. Listening to the birds and the river, I closed my eyes and meditated. Never mind the bikers passing by! It was very peaceful, and I got very peaceful.
I realised how lucky I am: it's summer, and I don't have to freeze while waiting. My Friend will save me. And I'm so happy to have a home to return to!

The home I return to

16 Jun 2012

Caring Gestures

Some days...! You're short of time, suddenly a heap of Very Urgent Tasks turn up, and it gets really stressful. Of course, on top of that, some private issue comes up too - and you've had it!
Then, as per miracle, somebody drops you a kind line, opens the door for you or brings you a goodie. Like the other day: my shoulders and pulse were uncomfortably high, when B gave me a warm hug and a delicious chocolate truffle. Suddenly the whole situation changed!
So now I will stock a little bag of chocolate truffles at work for Urgent Cases: for collagues rushing about with something hauntied in their eyes...
The little touch that means so much.

11 Jun 2012

From You to Me to You

You turn your back
I feel neglected
Your silence
a lack of confidence?

Then I realize:
a cry for help
Inaudible
all covered up

And I reach out my hand

10 Jun 2012

Dining Alone

Traveling alone is fine: I can do what I want, and at my own pace. My day can start at 7 PM if I feel like it, and there are no complaints about sore feet after hours of walking. The experiences can be shared later, back home.
There's just one point: the evening dinner. So often I've felt awkward, sitting there alone, believing that others pity me or think I'm strange. So often a good dinner could not be properly appreciated.
Well, the "miracle cure" applies here, too: relax! Savour the good food, a nice glass of wine, and your own company! If you want to comment on something, do it in your head ;-)
With this in mind I thoroughly enjoyed my raclette at the small hotel in the Jura mountains. And I really did not feel strange at all.

Best raclette in a long time!

5 Jun 2012

The Smell of Linden Flowers

I walk along the street this early June morning, still a bit dizzy after a short night.  Suddenly  I smell something and stop abruptly. The smell comes from several lime trees in a row; it's that very special, fresh smell of the linden flowers.
Amazing how a smell can transport you to other times or places in a nanosecond! All of a sudden I am back in my early teens... I had a skin care which was supposed to be "all natural". The skin tonic was called Cucumber, and it actually had the smell of linden flowers. I loved it! For some reason I connect it with the family vacation in Switzerland that year, when I was 15 years old.
But my train does not wait, so I came back to 2012 and walked on, happily humming Fleetwood Mac's "Jigsaw Puzzle Blues" - another memory from that vacation.
And once again I felt that time is only in our heads.

3 Jun 2012

Hold On To My Dream

Very long ago I had a favorite green sweatshirt, with a picture on the front: a wooden house, like a Swiss châlet. The sweatshirt got worn out and had to be thrown away after very frequent use, but the image of the mountain house remained: we still refer to it as my "dream house".
Since then I have step by step approached it geographically, and even though ever living in such a house sometimes seems like an impossible dream, it remains in the back of my mind...
This week end was spent in a similar lodge, high up in the Alps. I remembered my dream as I deeply enjoyed the silence, the fresh air and most of all, the closeness to nature.
This is where I gather force. This is where I become fully alive.

View from châlet Le Bivouac, 1.475 m

31 May 2012

Consume Less, Live More

Yesterday, my consuming behaviours were put to the test: a beautiful shop with a huge range of teas (black, green, rooibos, herbal, you name it), spices, herbs, and many other tempting things.
I noticed that I'm still in the "if there's anything I want and I can afford it, I buy it" behaviour. A number of little bags, boxes and pots were in my hand, heading towards the basket...
... but my attempts to curb consumption start to show results! I am proud that I succeeded in NOT adding that lovely mix of Indian spices, the nice little purple sage plant or the Milk & Honey soap to the few items that actually were on my shopping list. It feels so good to walk the talk!
If I can make a lasting change in my attitude towards consuming, and diminsih the contents of my cupboards, closets and warderobes, then I have reached on of my important goals: Less Consumption Leaves Time & Space for More Life.

29 May 2012

Summer On My Skin

Having grown up in Scandinavia I am a huge Sun and Summer lover. Already the first warm rays of sun in spring fill me with elation, and when temperatures rise to 25°C and it's finally summer I'm just - happy! The light and the warmth fill me with energy and are wonderfully relaxing, but what exactly makes me love summer so much...?
I think it's the physical feeling of warm air against my skin. I love exposing arms and legs to a light summer breeze, my skin breathing through every little pore. It makes me feel very alive, and superbly happy for being so.
The ultimate summer feeling is of course being barefoot. On fresh grass. On warm sand. Or in the cool water of the sea.
I'm simply taking in summer via my skin.

Summer loving feet

26 May 2012

Morning Mist

At breakfast I could see the morning mist rolling in. It was like a soft grey blanket, covering my world. As I walked to the station, it slowly dissolved, leaving space for a shining summer morning. By the time my train left, a bright new day had begun.
An emotion can be like that: rolling in over you, chilling you off in to the bones and leaving you to see nothing but greyness. When in the midst of it, you might despair; it feels so all-encompassing, so hopelessly dense.
Then it's good to remember: nothing remains the same. Everything eventually dissolves, like morning mist.
You will be shining again.

25 May 2012

Merci, Delphine!

Always ...

Straighten your Back
Empty your Self

Listen to the World
and Smile with your Heart

... and see the World

22 May 2012

Die Vorfreude

Everybody who has worked with translations, knows that there very often are subtle differences in the meaning of words that are supposed to mean the same. An example is the German "Vorfreude", anticipation in English. The German version has a much stronger touch of joy (since "Freude" is joy) and I just love the word - and what it stands for.
The Germans even go as far as to say "Vorfreude ist die beste Freude" - Anticipation is the greatest joy. I might not agree on that, but I really like to look forward to nice events :o)
Today I feel "Vorfreude" when I think of the two dear visitors, arriving tomorrow. I imagine hugging them when they the come through the gates at the airport and how much fun we're going to have together.
So the "Vorfreude" almost doubles my joy!

20 May 2012

Visit of a Friend

My friend has left, after a couple of lovely days together. So many laughs, and some serious talk. Nice meals shared with mutual "mmmhs" and "aaaaahs", and some glasses of excellent wine. We always inspire each other, and together we walk unusual paths.
We are different, but have common interests. We share memories and history, but most important of all is our true heart connection. It's the tissue that real friendship is made of; the tissue that keeps you warm when you are cold, and that you can wrap up in when you feel lonely or life is difficult.
My friend, I miss you.

We both love photography



18 May 2012

Eating Nature

I have a book that describes 200 edible plants that you can find in parks, on meadows, in roadsides or forests - just around the corner where you live. Yesterday we took a walk by the river with our noses in this book. To our great surprise, we found some 10 different plants of which either the leaves or the flowers (or both!) could be used in salads.
So for a starter at dinner we had a lovely, colorful salad right from Mother Nature. What a feeling to put pink clover flowers, and mugwort leaves, with just some good olive oil and drops of balsamico added on the fork. Like having a mouthful of nature!

Nature on the Plate

16 May 2012

Spring Set-back

Spring has taken a step back, and it's cold again. Really cold, woolen sweater cold. It's always such a disappointment: we've waited for the warm season for a long winter and then these set-backs!
I have to take in my hibiscuses from the balcony again, and even more important: I have to take out my warm sweaters again. Luckily I have realized that that's a better option than insisting in light, cool dresses now. Freezing just bogs me down me and I don't want to catch a cold - that just makes things worse.
So with a sigh I put on the cashmere cardigan, the gloves and a warm shawl - and enjoy going out again.
Spring will return, sooner or later.

Hibiscus No. 1, back on the balcony

14 May 2012

Beauty of the Detail

In our culture we often celebrate the Big, the Loud, and the Excess.  We live that way too, always wanting "more" and "newer" of everything.
But there is another way to go. Turn to the simple, the quiet, and the detail. Go closer and observe every shade, every nuance, every subtle sound and delicate taste. Refine your senses. Be content with less, but enjoy it with your full attention.
The Art is not to devour as much as possible - quite the contrary: to savour every little detail, to be content with one sweet, homegrown apple instead of a bowl of exotic fruit salad.


You see more when you go close...

11 May 2012

Patience, Plain Patience

Certain truths can be realized intellectually, but they don't really reach my core until I hear them from somebody else. For some time I've been struggling with a specific situation, trying hard to find a way out. A friend confirmed what I already knew: I have to let go, and practice patience.
I will not find the solution by searching intensely - the solution will find me. Until then I can take small steps in the wished direction, but the most important thing is to relax and let go of the wish for immediate change. I have expressed this wish, and it has been heard. I need to settle down now, let things take their course, and - be patient.
Patience is an underestimated virtue, difficult to practice in our rushed world, but oh, so helpful.

8 May 2012

Less is More

Sometimes I feel that ecology is a kind of fake problem. Here I quote Dominique Loreau, blessed French "minimalist" and writer:  "If we would consume less, the problems of recycling, waste, non organic products and saving energy would not even exist."
That is exactly how I see it: it is not about getting an environmental friendly car, and then still drive as much as you always did, or buy tons of organic groceries and then throw away big parts of it, because your eyes were bigger than your stomach. How many different food products do you need in your pantry and refrigerator? And what about clothing items? Books? DVDs and CDs?  Or technical gadgets?
We will soon drown in our own waste, while people in other parts of the world don't even have food for the day, so it's not only about ecology... And, in the end, all our possessions weigh us down and stress us - and make us scared to loose them.
I have made a resolution: I will cut my consumption (which is not really big) by 1/3 as of this month, and see if I can cut it even more, to show myself that I am really serious about this. Less is definitely more.

All things that a man owns hold him far more than he holds them.  Sigrid Undset

6 May 2012

Lungs Opening Up

On a rainy spring day in the forest the air is full of smells and heavy with humidity. I imagine how all the new green beech leaves are busy releasing oxygen. This almost palpable energy surrounds me.
It feels as if my lungs are opening wide up, absorbing freshness and life force.
In the end I'm all lungs
All air
Part of the trees
Of the rain
No more me
Only waves of breath
Only life

Breathing with the trees

4 May 2012

Like Beads Rolling on a Tray

This is too beautiful not to be shared...


You and Wisdom are essentially the same,
Like beads rolling on a tray, light, random, uninhibited.

                                        Hakuin Zenji (Hakuin Ekaku)
                                               Father of modern Rinzai Zen

3 May 2012

This Too Shall Pass

Yesterday was heavy. I felt drained of energy and my thoughts moved in hopeless spirals. Luckily I knew that "this too shall pass".
Everything that happens will pass. Every situation, object, or living being is constantly changing, and will eventually pass (away). Perhaps that is not what we want to happen to what we like, but it is very consoling when we are facing difficult times or situations.
But why should we like impermanence, or dislike it? Life goes on anyway, and it does not care about our opinions. They only complicate our experience.
And this too passed. Next morning, life was smiling at me again :-)

1 May 2012

Rediscover Myself

Can I start with a clean sheet, drawing up myself from zero? No, obviously I cannot; there's history and there are commitments.
But I can rediscover myself. Perhaps some old likes, dislikes, and habits can be dropped? I can question what I believe are given facts, examine the way I live my life - and adapt it to the "me" where it is now.
So I actually do start with a clean sheet in front of me, to find out how I can make my life reflect my values more, and if I spend enough time on what is essential.
If I were to die tomorrow, I want to be   satisfied with a life that has not been wasted.

30 Apr 2012

The Pleasure of Gifts

Yesterday a common acquaintance brought me a present from a dear and far away friend: a lovely kitchen towel, with an angel and the words "Petite Maman" embroidered on it. This gift out of the blue made me very happy! Not only had S. bought me this cute towel, but she had also gone through the trouble of finding a way to get it here.
I often see little things of which I believe they would suit my friends, but then I stumble over the hindrance of how to get them delivered (postage often being far more expensive than the item itself). My learning is: never mind! Always get the gift; a transport solution will be found. You will be happy thinking of the pleasure your gift brings your friend, and your friend will be happily surprised.
Just as I still am!

The Lovely Gift

28 Apr 2012

Balcony Bliss

Spring is here for real! It has been a long winter and, as so often, we got a small taste of spring some months ago before it turned cold and rainy again. It is so hard to go back to winter...
But now the sun is out, it's over 20°C, and my balcony has come back to life! What a wonderful feeling to clean away dead plants, dry leaves, and other winter traces and finally move out all plants again.  Geraniums, hibiscuses and other non-winter plants have hibernated in my spare room, looking quite sad the last months. I could really feel how the came alive again, moving out in the fresh air.
Today I have spent hours outside enjoying the warm breeze, listening to the birds, children playing in the small park below, and the church bells.
A garden would have been great, but my balcony really is my Green Haven and seeing the plants grow and flower is one of my Big Sources of Happiness. Welcome back, miss Spring!

Imagine me, sitting there

26 Apr 2012

The Sicilian Heart Project

Some years ago a dream came true and I went to Sicily with my little sister C. During two weeks we travelled around this amazing island and apart from having a wonderful time, we discovered hearts all over the place: clouds shaped as hearts, oil stains in the street, shadows on a hill... Or real hearts in surprising places, like on a young man's jacket. We ended up seeing hearts everywhere!
When two people who are connected with their hearts come together, amazing things start to happen - the famous synergy effect. I enjoy every minute of augmented creativity and happiness that I share with my Heart Friends. Being with these friends gives positive energy a huge boost and is Life in one of its most rewarding forms.

A wall in Palermo





24 Apr 2012

Sleep Restores

The importance of sleeping is often underestimated. The younger you are, the less important it seems. There's so much to do in life! Why waste valuable time on "just sleeping"?
Of course we know it's no waste. We need to restore our vital energy, we need time to shut off from the outside world.
When after several days of very little sleep I finally snooze off like a baby it makes such a huge difference the day after! Not only do I feel stronger, but also happier.
The challenge is to find the perfect amount of sleep you need. Some need 7 hours, others 9. I think Einstein's 5 hours are a myth. During a certain period I tried to sleep only 5-6 hours per night, but it did not work in the long run. You need to catch up.
So go to bed when you're tired. No reason to stay up because others do or because it's only 10 PM. Sleep is good - and isn't it wonderful do doze of in a warm bed after a long day's work...? I love it!

22 Apr 2012

To You and To You

Can you see it in my eyes?
When I am with you
I feel so much tenderness
seas of tenderness

My heart becomes limitless
it outgrows myself
It wants to embrace you
make you feel safe

What can't be put in words
I hope I can convey
in other, subtle ways
from soul to soul

19 Apr 2012

Self Discipline

In my world, self discipline is an important factor for "living well". I know, the word discipline has quite some negative connotations, but it really is not about aggression or violence, but about refraining from acting in harmful ways, and keeping up beneficial activities.
Self  discipline keeps me from over-indulging in ice cream or buying clothes too often and it helps me to meditate and practice yoga regularly.
On a day like today, however, after too little sleep and too much stress at work, I allow myself to do - nothing. Refraining from being overly strict with myself is also a kind of self discipline...

18 Apr 2012

When I Tighten Up

I know it is important to acknowledge my negative feelings, and to face them. That is not an easy task, so too often I just close my eyes on them.
However, I have learnt a very good way to work with them, and I'd like to share that.
It all starts with the Tightening up. I know there's a negative feeling when I feel my stomach getting like a knot, all tightened up. What now...?
Right there, I have to become aware of what's happening. Acknowledge the feeling, and that I'm stuck.
Then I need to Pause. I don't want to get all worked up (and start a negative chain reaction); instead I stop and take three conscious breaths. Now I lean in to the energy and get to know it. Physically. I don't act it out or speak, but just find out where in my body the energy is concentrated and how it feels.
Step three is to relax, and move on. That's all.
Of course I have to examine why I get stuck in the first place, and work on that, but it is better to do that with a clear mind.

Read more in a great little book by Pema Chödrön: "Taking the Leap"

16 Apr 2012

Top Eight for Ghastly Weather

After days of rain and chilly winds - in April, when I fool myself to believe it's spring - I feel cold deep in my bones.
I've finally understood there is no meaning in reproaching or fighting against the weather; the rain does not care about my grumbling. So I accept the situation and try to do the best of it.
Here's my Top Eight list for Ghastly Weather:

  • Dress warmly (elementary, but often disregarded)
  • Light lots of candles
  • Make a pot of your favorite tea
  • Hug somebody (if nobody's around, a stuffed animal or a pillow will do)
  • Have a nice, filling soup for dinner
  • Cuddle up with a good book
  • Call someone near & dear and tell them how much you care for them
  • Put on your warmest socks (feet cold = all cold)

PS: 8 is my lucky number

15 Apr 2012

Connecting People

I have moved about quite a bit in my life, so my family members and friends are spread out in several countries (even continents). It is wonderful when there is a possibility to introduce these persons, who are all very important and dear to me, to each other. Unfortunately, that only happens very rarely.
This week end, however, was such an occasion. I was so happy when bringing my newest Friend to meet my oldest Friend (my mother!), my first childhood Friend and one of my dear Daughters. It filled me with such gratitude to see how these wonderful people connected, how they laughed together and how true feelings of sympathy and care arose.
Connecting people with the same heart qualities, who all contribute in making the world a better place to live, just makes my heart shine, too!

13 Apr 2012

Children in Need

Millions of children suffer all over the world. Not only because of famine, wars, or other social unrest. Huge amounts of children suffer in their own homes, being mistreated, beaten, and abused by their parents or people close to them. These children need love and care, more than anything.
Living in a rich and healthy country and in a good neighborhood I do not see any of this misery, but I know that it exists.  So what can I do about it?
Every morning I take a moment trying to connect to these children. I focus on all the love I have inside and send it out to them,  hoping it may strengthen them. I try to convey the feeling that they are not guilty of anything, that they also have the right to be happy and live in the sunshine. And that they must find some adult they can trust in (you see it in people's eyes...) to tell their story to, and get help.
I want to do more. Sponsoring a single child, and NGO's supporting children? Good, but not enough. I am still searching, and I will find a way.
Children are our future. Often they will treat their own children the way they were treated themselves. These vicious circles of aggression and abuse must find an end.

10 Apr 2012

When There is Nothing I Can Do

Sometimes you encounter a difficult situation (without being directly involved), and you feel completely helpless. There seems to be nothing you can do to help the involved persons. They seem locked up in their positions and the situation seems completely stuck.
But there is always one thing you can do. It's called tonglen, originally a Tibetan Buddhist practice, here in a simplified version. It may sound strange: you will breathe in the negativity of the situation, but that does not harm you. This is how it goes:
You stop and take a deep, conscious breath. Then you breathe in the pain, frustration or anxiousness you see and feel, like a black cloud. With your outbreath you send your positive energy and a sense of relief, like a bright, glowing cloud. Repeat a couple of times.
Practicing tonglen I have sometimes sensed a slight shift in the situation, and sometimes I even came up with a way to disarm it.

9 Apr 2012

Soft Spring Rain

In the middle of the beech forest it starts raining. A fine drizzle - I have to stop to hear it. The spring rain makes tiny "drip drop" sounds on  the dead leaves on the ground and on the hood of my jacket. Here it's only the trees, the rain, and me.
With my hiking boots firmly on the ground, I feel like a tree. They are all getting their first, delicate, lime green leaves, almost the same colour as my jacket. Their freshness fills my head. I close my eyes and am one with the forest, the sounds, the smells and the feeling.
Being close with nature and slowing down to its rhythm always restores my energy.

The very first beech leaves


8 Apr 2012

Intense Life

It is sometimes believed that meditators draw away from real life into some kind of own little cloud. Actually, it's just the other way round. When you practice meditation, consciously following your breath in This Moment, life becomes more real, more intense. You are there with every sense impression, every thought.
For me, the main benefit of (sitting) meditation is the "spill over effect" it has on everyday life. The guiding light is a meditative life: a life where I am aware of everything that unfolds inside and outside of me.  Every moment lived fully - a truly intense life. I will probably never arrive there, but I am happy just being on the way.

5 Apr 2012

Gratitude

Biking home through the rain today I felt a sudden rush of gratitude.
We often live our lives on autopilot, not really reflecting over what happens, and we tend to take our lives for granted. It it somehow completely natural that we live in a comfortable environment, that we have all the good food we can wish for, that we are healthy...
Of course, all this is far from obvious. We know that, we just have to open a daily paper or watch the news to be reminded.
So there I was, completely wet and tired, and felt really privileged: I am healthy and can bike to work. I have a nice home to return to, and lovely, green tea to warm up with when I'm cold. And not to be forgotten: I can enjoy biking through uncomfortable weather - simply being grateful for being alive.

4 Apr 2012

Watering the Seeds

In spring many of us sow seeds of vegetables, herbs or flowers in our gardens or pots, and we all know they need water to grow and turn into beautiful plants.
We humans also have different seeds within us: seeds of frustration and anger, but also seeds of love and happiness. The ones you want to let grow need water every day.
The negative seeds should just be left alone, and not be watered with any attention at all, because whatever you give attention, is strengthened.
So concentrate on the positive ones, like the seed of happiness. Be with people who spread happiness, listen to happy music or why not make a list of 10 things that make you happy - and do at least two of them today!

Beautiful flowers, grown out of a tiny seed

3 Apr 2012

Lost and Found

Oh dear, all the times I lose things... Countless! I search and search; sometimes I find them in odd places (the camera in the laundry basket), and sometimes right in front of my nose.
Yesterday I lost very expensive train tickets and I looked all over the place (I thought) - no tickets. They were not at my workplace, and it turned out I had not forgotten them at the ticket booth either. *Sigh!*
Before I went home to search again I learned a very nice Turkish saying: the gods make us lose our things on purpose, so that we can be happy when we find them again!  In fact, in most cases we do find our "lost" items after a while.
I found my tickets, too, after having looked almost everywhere, and already having given up on them. I went to pick up a hiking map, and there they were... really an odd place to be. Well, it made me very happy to have them back again!
So next time you lose something, don't despair. It's probably just the playful gods wanting to make you happy :-)

2 Apr 2012

Work With the Getting Worked Up

I don't often get really worked up about annoying things that happen in daily life. Often, I can even take it with a smile (yes, it has taken me decades to get there!).
But when somebody close to me gets all worked up about something, I still find it hard not to follow him or her in that negative spiral and frantically try to solve the issue.
Now, I am working with my being reactive, and I can see it when it's happening. I have learned to slow down in that very tense atmosphere, breathe deeply and relax.
I know I am not doing this only for my own peace of mind, but for the whole situation and everybody involved. Working with, and letting go of my own reactivity, I have something to offer others.
It makes me really  happy when I succeed in just shutting up and breathing. Breathing out calm and ease, letting go of tensions and wait. The issue will be solved.

30 Mar 2012

Magic Moon

The funniest moon I ever saw was by the Caribbean Ocean. There, the moon is "lying down", so when it is thin, it looks like a laughing mouth! The most beautiful moon: early one winter morning over the busy Aeschenplatz in Basel. It was full as it could get, round as a cheese, and completely yellow.
I am fascinatead by the moon; it is magic, and I am drawn to it in a mysterious way. I feel that the moon is influencing me, and I somehow enjoy this force of nature.
The moon is also part of my meditation practice. Whenever I catch a glimpse of it, I stand still, and smile up to the sky. Thank you moon, for being there. It makes me very happy to see you and I am proud to be part of the same Creation.

The Most Important Person

Who would you say is the most important person in your life? Your partner, or your child? Your friend, your mother? None of them, actually. It is you.
You are always around, you can always take care of yourself, support and pamper yourself, when you need it. And you are always there to love yourself.
What about the others...? Well, you can't count on or depend on anybody else to fulfill your needs.  Who knows where your partner or your best friend are tomorrow?
So don't forget to be really kind to yourself. You are the most important person in your life. And unless you have learnt to love yourself, you can't truly and fully love anybody else.

25 Mar 2012

Big City Crowds

Going down into the London Underground at Piccadilly Circus at 6 o'clock a Saturday evening is quite a "crowded" experience. You are being pushed and shoved, and you're lucky if nobody steps on your feet or if you don't lose anything. And actually it isn't much better overground.
As I spend a wonderful, long week end in London it strikes me that big cities are a crazy product of our society. Of course I understand the economical reasons why they have developed, but we really should organise them differently. First of all there should be much more green in a city! Big parks are not enough - there are areas where the only green you see are the labels of Sprite bottles...
No wonder the people I cross at the street or see in the huge supermarket don't really look happy. The only smiling faces I have seen belonged little children and lovers. I am trying to spread my little smile, but what effect does that have among 7,5 million people (plus countless tourists from all over the world)?  But no, I don't give up! :o)

22 Mar 2012

Power of a Smile


A colleague told me that when her 7-year old daughter is grumpy or mad, she asks her to give mummy a smile, and repeats this request very friendly until the daughter produces a strained smile. The mother will continue to ask for “a real smile!”, and at that  point the daughter usually relaxes and gives her a proper smile – and the annoyance is gone.
That’s just what it is about: when you smile you relax the muscles in your face and this relaxation normally spreads down to your shoulders and belly. The tension of irritation or bad temper is released and you actually feel better.
Of course you don’t need a mother to tell you to smile: whenever you feel negativity creeping in upon you, tell yourself to smile. At first it may just be strained, but if you continue you’ll be able to make it a real smile – and you will immediately feel better!



21 Mar 2012

This Food...

Most of us, living in secularized Christian societies, do not say grace before meals. We might even find it a bit awkward when somebody suddenly does it.
I still find it worthwhile to stand still for a second before raising the cutlery or bringing the sandwich to my mouth. To think with gratefulness about Mother Earth, and all the people (and animals) that have brought the food to my plate. To recognize any other person at the table with a little smile. It's such a pleasure to share a meal with nice company!
Try it out: just say a simple Thank You in your head, or use this version of a Buddhist contemplating before eating:

This Food is the gift of the whole universe,
the earth, they sky, and much hard work.
I thank all the living being that have made this food:
the insects, the animals, and the people.

I only put on my plate as much as I should eat
and I will chew it slowly, in order to really taste it.
I eat this food to be healthy and happy,
and to live with my fellow men in love and understanding.

Thank you, Universe, for a nice lunch with a  very dear Friend!

18 Mar 2012

The Power of a Compliment

I have to admit it: a nice compliment brightens up my day!
Out of the blue somebody - a friend, a colleague or a complete stranger - makes a positive remark about what I wear, how I look or act. When it's about my appearance that might sound superficial, but my surface is a part of me. I might have put a little effort in combining colors and in looking "neat and tidy" and it simply makes me happy that others appreciate that effort :-)
I also like giving compliment, assuming that the other person enjoys being seen. Yes, basically it all comes down to that: the pleasure of really seeing others and the pleasure of being seen ourselves.

17 Mar 2012

Shared Sorrow

Yesterday, we said farewell to a dear friend and family member. A small group of people - most family and friends live far away, are very old or already dead.
It was a moving funeral; many flowers, beautiful music and songs, and kind words of remembrance. A long, good life came to an end, and not only the youngest grandson cried.
In these occasions we move closer toghether.  We are faced with deep sorrow and loss, and we try to alleviate it for one another. No mechanical hugs - we hug with mindfulness, conveying our heartfelt compassion. We are touched at our inner core, knowing what it feels like and knowing that this will happen to us (again).
Why don't we always stand so close to each other? Where is this compassion in everyday life?

14 Mar 2012

Persons Who Touch Your Life, and Your Soul

Man is inherently good. That is my firm belief, and that's why I meet all new people with an open mind and open heart. Of course, not always contact is established.
However, with some people, there is not only contact, but it is really special. Very deep, going right through various protective layers. You feel at home, relaxed and happy in their company.
Even though your may be quite different, there is a mutual understanding without many words. Perhaps you have a common set of values. Or perhaps it's because they also have an open heart...
Somehow these dear friends touch your heart and soul. And as with a magic wand they touch your life, and make it shine.

(Dear B1,  thank you for the beautiful heading!)

13 Mar 2012

Break Your Rules

We all have an idea of how we want or think we should live in order to stay healthy. Most of us don't always live that way, and some of us only now and then. The stricter among us try hard, but still get a backlash every now and then. Combined with a really bad consciousness...
Well, let go of that! Know your limits, stay within them most of the time, but let yourself jump over them every now and then. Life is too short to be fanatically attached to your rules. Get in some softness.
Don't punish yourself because you're having the whole bag of M&M's today. Enjoy them, stop eating when you start feeling sick, and then resolve to wait quite some time before doing it again ;o)

12 Mar 2012

The Wall

An infinite wall
white, as in Greece.
Is it protecting me,
or, more likely,
fencing me in?

Luckily a window
(small, but still...)
gives a glimpse
of the other side:
light blue freedom!

There's still no handle
on the window,
but I know: one day
it will have developed
and I can open it up.

Then I will concentrate
all my energy,
all my happiness,
and all my courage
- and fly out!

11 Mar 2012

Home, Sweet Home

Due to a bad knee, no hiking this week-end. Suddenly I had so much time at home! Time to hoover and wipe without stress, to sort out drawers, to do sewing jobs that had been lying around for ages, and to clean some windows. As a finishing touch I bought a small red primula, to enhance the feeling of freshness.
It was great to round off with a biking tour in the sun to air out myself as well, and then enjoy a warm cup of tea at home.
What a lucky person I am, who has a safe home to always return to, and what a pleasure it is to keep it fresh and beautiful!

10 Mar 2012

Never the Same, Always Renewed

Since the trees still have no leaves, I can see the Big River from my window. Its water flows endlessly. The river is never the same, it's always renewed.
That is how I want to live: experiencing every day as completely new. Passed days might have included mistakes; I learn from them, but leave them behind. A new day is a new fragment of life.  What a wonderful feeling of freshness!
It's like seeing life with the unbiased eyes of  a small child. I close my eyes, turn to the river and open them up. And I see the river for the first time.

The river when the trees had leaves

9 Mar 2012

Let the Mind Rest

Our minds are always busy. During the day we process and comment all kinds of impressions; we constantly think or plan.  At night we're doing the same thing in our dreams. Poor mind, always at work...
That's why it feels so good to turn off the input. You don't even have to meditate, just concentrate on what you are doing Right Now, without any speech balloon. It's such a relief to relax from inside.
Finally the mind quiets down, and can get some rest.
The effect is amazingly refreshing.