flower to express calmness
Blog, For your ease

Overwhelmed October

How about you, have you been busy-busy or productive busy? Do you feel overwhelmed?

I have been more busy-busy than ever over the past weeks. Yet some things, like my blog, have taken its toll. At the same time I can’t say that I have been unproductive. But I did get sidetracked, overwhelmed and a bit lost there.

What do YOU do when you reach such a point?

Are you busy doing all the good things and are productive in many areas and yet… you always play catch up, it never seems to add up? Do you know that feeling? The feeling as if you would be a hamster in its hamster wheel, going around and around and around.

While I was busy with really good and often rewarding things, I lost the “me” in between it all. It felt like trying to juggle with too many balls in the air.

How about you, do you always feel in control, or do you drop a ball here and there, too? I would love to hear what helps you to either stay, or get back, on track.

I started to notice a pattern – I get excited about all there is to do, I plan and go full speed ahead. But I power myself out and that leads to a feeling of overwhelm-ness. Then come the days when it all seems too much and I just push through with the major must-dos and a lot of frustration. At that point I take a step back, pick myself up, get some structure and focus – only to get back running in circles again after a while.

But this time I am trying to do things differently! I want to break my pattern.
How about you, do you have enough of running in circles, do you join me in breaking your pattern?

This time I am working on combining some of my “juggling balls”. I try to see where they overlap and where I can integrate and benefit from one or the other, instead of seeing them all as single tasks.

And scheduling posts is something new I started. It does ease up time and eases pressure on that specific day when something needs to be done and helps to avoid a “brain freeze” on that day. But I still have to get better at that. After all, scheduling requires planning ahead and that means

time management.To be able to schedule posts and to combine some of my tasks I need to dedicate time up front to work on certain topics. And that works sometimes, but often I get inspired and motivated on the spot. So it definitely will take more training and structure. How do you go ahead with your time management and scheduling?

A flexible schedule helps me to keep track on my tasks. I have a magnet board with time- and tasks slots. It seems to fit my personality better than a fixed schedule.

I know it  all can work really well but you see, here it comes back again, I let life take over too much at times! How I admire others who have it all under control and stick to their schedules and plans – and stay focused!

Amazing what you can pull off if you set yourself 30min fixed time! Have you tried it?

Working under time pressure and setting an alarm for certain tasks helps me to stay full on focus, especially for all the unpleasant must-dos.

That counts as well for exercise. What only 30 min can do for you! Yet sadly, the first thing I often drop is my exercise when I have too many others things on my plate. But I know full well that going for a run helps me to clear and calm my mind, to get inspired and energised. That one should really be a non-negotiable for me and it should never be a no!

But that leads me to the last and toughest part,

I need to learn to say “NO” more. Yes, there are so many great reasons and causes to help and support and places to be and people to meet but we all only have a limited time per day. And something has to give at times.

Dear reader, as you can see, I might have been quiet but I was buys, too busy and sidetracked and overwhelmed at times.

And while I hope that the above mentioned points will help me to become less overwhelmed, to stay on track and feel at ease, I hope they will help you too, when you lose track.

But I would as well love to hear from you!

Do you use any of the above, and/or what other methods and other secret weapons to you have up your sleeves to not only fight procrastination, but to keep the balance in this crazy thing we call life?

What is it what YOU do to stay on track, inspired and balanced?

What is it what you do to not let life leave you overwhelmed?

I am looking forward to hearing from you,

AK

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, 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, 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”

 

 

Blog, Food for Thought, For your ease

All shades of pink

Have you ever been to Japan in early Spring?  If so, you will have noticed that almost everything seems to come with a shade of pink. Springtime here equals the bloom of the Cherry Blossom – and the whole country goes a bit crazy. It seems that everybody gets addicted to this ‘pink-spirited-season’ also called Cherry blossom, Sakura or Hanami season!

Weeks prior newspapers and the national TV publish the expected blooming peak! Rain, colder or warmer weather can put it all off by a few days; throwing carefully made up plans for picnics, get-togethers and travels off schedule.

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But once the trees bloom, giving the impression from afar that the trees are covered with large cotton balls, you see the pure joy on people’s faces.

Everywhere you look people are delighted by those little, fragile, pink flowers.
Areas under the trees are reserved by mats as from the early morning, people squeeze as tight as possible in picnic areas, getting cozy with the next-door-picnic-mat. Drinks, snacks and food are available in various shades of pink. And whether you like it or not, you get sucked into it, there is no escape!

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But it can be overwhelming as almost everywhere you find a Sakura tree there are people.

All this can be seen as totally crazy, and at times I have to agree with my kids when they say so. But as I ventured out this year for a walk amongst the Cherry Blossom trees, I took a different viewpoint.

After taking some mandatory pictures of the beautiful trees in full bloom, I shifted my focus to the people around me.

The Japanese do not just go out there to see a tree blooming, no they celebrate this whole happening. And it is simply delightful to see how they go along with it.

8A90C15D-2B76-4883-A224-768EDBFC126APathways lined with vendors offer pink bubbly, drinks with sakura blossom, pink sakura flavoured snacks, bottles with sakura flower prints. Shops and delivery services offer special Sakura boxes, all ready-made and to-go for the picnic. Pink clearly sells these weeks, whether in food or drinks! What a simple thing – finding joy in Sakura watching, don’t you think so, too?

And once you let go and ignore the craziness around you, you just go with the flow and wonder how this little fragile flower can bring so much joy to millions of people despite being surrounded by almost as many.

While observing the crowds I can see that they are simply in the moment – in the here and now. They know how to make the best out of something fragile, knowing it won’t last long. The beauty passes quickly every year. And everybody around me simply enjoys while it lasts.

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To beautiful moments in life, make the best out of them and don’t let them slip by!

AK