Blog, Food for Thought, For your ease

Expectations – not always easy  

Expectations are a strong belief that something will be the case, happen or that we are looking forward to something.

And if we think about it , we all have them in almost everything; the small and the big things in life; in others and in ourselves – a holiday, the weather, friends, how a day should be, the job, a dinner, a concert, a movie, kid’s behavior, the partner, marriage, the parents, the siblings, the test, the assignment; or how the (next) move, country, posting will turn out… you get the picture.

The higher we set our expectations the more we are set for disappointment, frustration, hurt or sadness, no?

Don’t get me wrong, it is good to think about things and possible situations and outcomes. But don’t forget that most of the times we do depend on another person, a third-party or a random situation and we can’t influence that part. It is fully out of our hand, and don’t forget that others do have expectations of their own that may not match with ours! It would be too easy to just blame the other party. So, where does it leave us?

To have no expectations is delusional

We will always have them and they are important, too. After all they can drive us and are a part of who we are, how we tick and how we lead our life.

But I do believe that we might want to rethink our expectations, to check, not only if they are reasonable, but as well if we can, if not lower, but at least adjust them to protect ourselves from disappointment.

I, for myself, started to “adjust” some expectations, especially if/when I do depend on others or factors that I really do not have any control over. By adjusting my own expectations, I am not shutting down, much more the opposite. I leave more room to be positively surprised and space to (re)act.

It leaves more space to “juggle” and control my reactions, my emotions and, if the situation allows, I have space to adjust my expectations. I (try to) leave room to look at the other person’s behavior and try to see their side. Their own expectations might leave them hurt, too! Our expectations might not be aligned.

Lowering expectation for self-protection

And, yes, it is sort of self-protection! The dagger won’t go that deep when my “adjusted” expectations are not met . It will still hurt, but a bit less. I can get myself up quicker.

I do admit, all this sounds good on paper but damn it can be hard at times. Especially the reflecting on the other person when we feel hurt. Such a reflection won’t happen in the moment. Only after the initial hurt is digested we might be able to see something else, something that soothes the situations a bit.

Having high expectations is often seen as being an optimist. Would that then mean lowering expectations makes me and you a pessimist? No, I don’t think so at all – it makes us a realist, with a still very open outlook for the positive.

I believe (and experienced myself) that lowering some expectations can make us happier and more at ease. It can reduce the feeling of being hurt, disappointed and stressed. It allows more space to reflect, focus on your own emotions, behavior and triggers.

Do you believe that having lower expectations is a way to go or is that a pessimistic thought? How do you handle or protect yourself against disappointment, whether caused by people or other circumstances?

Yours, AK

Blog, Yoga, Fitness, Wellbeing

The summer holidays buzz

Would you agree that summertime and Christmas are special times? There is certain buzz in both of them as both are filled with fun, joy and excitement. But they can as well bring tension, stress and exhaustion.

For those living far away from family, summer holidays often mean going home or having family visiting. And while it’s great to see family members, weeks of being away in hotels and/or a guest in other people’s homes, or having guests staying in your home, can take its toll on everybody.

We find ourselves having to juggle and keep our own family happy and entertained in a new setting. Often juggling a jet-lag on top. Added to that are expectations, hopes and wishes from family members and friends that we want (and at times have to) fulfil.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a nice excitement and joy in the air despite it all! But there might come a moment when everything just feels a bit … too much. There is too much “buzzing”. We find ourselves feeling torn between sightseeing, catching up, meeting and mingling with others, while feeling tired, deflated and perhaps simply craving some quiet me- and down-time.

Taking a time-out is not always possible but we have to find a way to deal with the “buzz”. We need to find a breather.

The At Ease Toolbox helps to create small spaces of calmness while sharpening your senses. It gives suggestions on how to get grounded, to connect to the breathing and to use the fives senses of taste, feeling, smell, touch and hearing to create some space for yourself. Whenever you need it and wherever you are.

For a free download simply subscribe here.

To all, I hope you have a lovely summer filled with laughter and joy and that you create happy memories!

All the very best,
AK

Blog, Food for Thought, For your ease

Same same but always different 

4216FA21-B4ED-4A82-B128-8E96B021B2B6As I walk the streets these days, the sound of “ritsch-ratsch” comes out of open windows, moving trucks are parked around many corners. A clear sign that summer holidays are about to start – and so does moving time for many. With 16 years on the go, summer time is kind of “same – same – but – different” every year. 

  • Sometimes you stay, sometimes you move 
  • Sometimes you are excited of what comes next, sometimes you are worried, concerned and anxious
  • Sometimes you leave great friends behind, sometimes they leave you behind
  • Sometimes all goes according to plan, sometimes not 
  • Sometimes you take it all in a stride, sometimes it is damn hard 
  • Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry 

No matter how often I experience this time, it’s always different, it always brings up different feelings and emotions. 

This year I’m the one staying again. But it’s a summer with a huge turnover of friends, for myself and the kids. All three of them will be affected this time. 

I’m excited for my friends, about the new places they will go to and experience. But I’m well aware that a lot will have changed once the new school year starts for us back here. It might feel a bit like a new start for us again, too – despite staying on. 

Reaching the end of the school year you will give many, many hugs and send well wishes, with hope that friendships will remain. But knowing full well that often life happens and some friendships, no matter how close and dear they were, may not survive. Hope is always there but reality is often different. But that is part of this life, too. For every hello often comes as well a good bye. Friendships are always important but some happen for different reasons. 

I had a discussion with my kids about how they feel about their friends leaving last summer and that discussion stayed with me, still today. 

My daughter (then 8) said: “Yes, I am sad but I will be ok.”
My son (then 10) replied: “Yes, I am a bit sad, but this is our life. After all we have this every year and we have been ok.”

A moment that made me proud and broke my heart a bit at the same time.  But, as long as we stay open to new people and still embrace friendships, reach out to newcomers, are open-minded when we move and ask for help when needed, we are ok, more than ok!

For now, I will fondly listen to the sound of movers packing when I walk the streets, enjoy every talk and memory I make with friends still here, be excited for what lies ahead for them, be open for a new – and old – beginning when school starts again here for us end of August. 

Here is a big “cheers” to memories and friendships made and that we made a life like this happen.

To all moving, to all staying behind – I wish you all the very best and to new beginnings! 

AK

Blog, World of recipes

Chicken Meatballs with Teriyaki Sauce

Finally I did it! I did it the Japanese way! I am not sure why I waited that long, but better late than never – I tried different approach to (chicken) meatballs – I added tofu. And I am happy to report that they we were well loved! The tofu adds a lighter, softer texture to it all. 

And no, you do not  have to be a tofu lover to appreciate this dish. The tofu used here is rather tasteless, it is really about the texture ~ nice and fluffy. 

Having said that, eating tofu now and then isn’t too bad, after all it is said that tofu is not only a good source protein and essential amino acids but as well a good source of vitamins and minerals. 

So don’t fear the tofu, instead embrace the lightness it adds and try this dish! 

I found this recipe under Just One Cookbook (justonecookbook.com). It has a great Teriyaki sauce with it, but the meatballs are nice without and kids enjoy the sauce free leftovers (if they leave any) in wraps the next day for a school lunch. I might have to make double batches in future if I want to have an easy school lunch! 

And as usual this one is quick and easy, you get around 20 meatball served served up within 30min! 

But now, here we go: 

6B850371-9D8B-411A-ADBA-CD15C78680DC

Chicken Meatballs with Teriyaki Sauce

400gr ground chicken
140gr firm tofu
1 1/2 sweet bell peppers
1 green onion / scallion
about 1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 large egg
sea salt
ground black pepper
neutral flavour oil

 

Start with the tofu – make sure to set it aside, wrapped in a paper towel to drain for around 15 min. Omitting this (yes I tried to do it the quick way) leads to a very soggy mixture. Also, if you want to add the Teriyaki sauce see below first!

Now once that is out of the way, start to clean, de-seed and finally chop the sweet bell peppers, chop the onion and grate the ginger.

Use a large bowl to combine the ground chicken, peppers, onions. Break the tofu into small pieces, add the egg and mix it all together by hand. 

Lastly add the ginger, salt and pepper and make sure to combine it all well. 

Use two spoons (I prefer to use an ice-cream scoop) to make small balls. 

Heat a large pan, and fry the meatballs until one side is brown, then turn over. Make sure they are cooked all the way through (no pinkish meat colour in the middle!). You may want to reduce the heat to avoid burning. 

If you don’t add the sauce you are done and ready to serve. If you prefer to “spice” it up then go one step further and add the Teriyaki sauce: 

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon potato or corn starch 

Do this before you even start with the meatballs! Mix all ingredients and set aside. Then once the meatballs are all done, add the sauce and reduce the heat until the sauce thickens. Turn the meatballs for an even glaze. 

PS: This dish is for chicken meatballs / hamburgers but I meanwhile added firm tofu to standard beef-meatballs and hamburgers and it works well, too. Try it, and see what appeals to you.

I hope you will enjoy your light and fluffy chicken meatballs, and if you have a recipe that includes Tofu and is easy to do I would love to hear from you!

AK 

Blog, Food for Thought, For your ease

Book – Playing Big by Tara Mohr

AF936780-799B-43DD-9F91-72A72B1ED321Book review take away. Similar reasons may lead us to this book but we are all coming from a different angle, a different background and we will connect to it in a different way. Therefore, rather then writing what I liked or didn’t like (*), I’ll share a few points that inspired me, while reading it – and long after. And hopefully you will get inspired, too.

What drew me to the book was that it wasn’t just a book telling me to “just do it”, to just get over my fears. This book does not downplay on fear, worries and concerns, instead it gives ideas and tools on how to work with and how to look at them differently. After all, most of us deal with fear and such. It’s not made up. Some of us do have a very strong – and verbal – “inner critic”, whether we like it or not. And this book really helped me to work with mine, I named mine Bob. Bob and I, we do have some good talks at times!

I read the book a while ago, but it is one of those rare books that stayed with me. And while I’ve been rather quiet here on the blog my life was not quiet at all. I’ve been busy with a course and as much as I wanted to keep all my balls in the air, I dropped a few so that I could focus on what was just in front of me.

Too many new things came up and I could not attend to them all. Grudgingly I gave in and learned to let go for a certain time, to make space for something new. And to make space to have some meaningful chats with Bob! He was pretty dominate at times I have to say!

“The inner critic is like a guard at the edge of our comfort zone!”…

… and I do like my comfort zone, and Bob clearly likes it too and guards it well. But it was time to step out a bit further. The book helped me to change my perspective on my fears, concerns, doubts and self critic. Rather then working against them, trying hard to suppress or ignore them all I let them (him) speak. But Bob didn’t end up by himself, he got good company! Because my “inner mentor” is now there, too! She still shows her softer side, doesn`t always speak up but she is there in moments of need.

The inner mentor “helps us to keep things simple”, “she helps us to see the bottom line.” My inner mentor has a very matter of fact personality, and we get along just fine. I just have to listen to her more and give her space to speak up!

If we are really honest to ourselves it is mainly fear that is holding us back, blocking us, do you agree? Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not being liked, being criticized, fear of not being good enough, not bold enough, fear of being too bold, fear of being too open, fear of being compared, fear of being judged, fear of being misunderstood, fear of…you name it.

Fear by definition is an “unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that is happening or might happen.” (Collins dictionary)

Tara Mohr gave a different perspective. She brought in a definition based on the Hebrew Bible, that has a second word for fear, the word Yirah. And Yirah defines fear as follows:

  • “It is the feeling that overcomes us when we inhibit a larger space than we are used to.
  • It is the feeling we experience when we suddenly come to possession of considerably more energy than we had before.
  • It is what we feel in the presence of the divine.”

I let you sit with this for a moment…

If life could just be easy and simple! But no, too many things and mindsets are holding us back! I’m getting back to the book and into Praise and Criticism; “we have to unhook from praise and criticism – to no longer depend on other’s positive feedback or fear their disapproval.” Another big one for me and one that requires more work. And it leads as well to feedback and how we deal with it. Isn’t it funny (or sad) how we tend to brush off positive feedback yet tend to dwell on the negative one?

The criticism that most hurts us
mirrors a negative belief we hold about ourselves.” 

For me, the book was full of eye openers, and there were moments I felt myself nodding and thinking “yep, me!”. It reads more like a conversation with a friend than an I-tell-you-how-it-is-done-book.

Acknowledging fear, being held accountable, dealing with feedback (the good and not so good one), receiving and giving support and guidance are all crucial for me. After all, only having an idea, a vision is not good enough we have to take action somehow.

My new journey is just starting and it is not all smooth sailing and I feel very vulnerable. But as I tell others, to me being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. And I am getting stronger. But in those moments when it all comes tumbling down on me, I allow myself some space. I reflect on the WHY (**) I want to do what I want to do, instead of letting fear take over. And this “why-” thought is a powerful tool, leaving me feeling focused, more determined, and energized.

Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big came to me at the right time. And I could go on and on there are so many gems in there. But this book is better read individually rather than having me digging deeper into it!

If you feel you are a self critic, a doubter, unsure what is holding you back, want to do something but let fear block you then this might be a book for you, too! Perhaps it helps you to take those first tender steps towards something new!

Is it scary? Yes! Am I fearful? Yes. But as long as Bob and I keep chatting, my inner mentor speaks up and I keep my “why” close to me, I am moving forward.

If you got curious about this book I hope you will enjoy your chat with YOUR inner critic and find the parts that speak to you! And if you want to discuss the book further with me, please contact me! I would love to hear from you,

Have a lovely day,

AK

Find your Ease – whether your live abroad, are in transition or have returned home

(*) I can’t really think of anything that I didn’t like to be honest!
(**) in Playing Big this is your “calling”