In love with…acceptance

Hi lovebirds,

I hope you’ve all had fabulous Christmas holidays? As I am writing this, trees and rooftops are covered in snow, ice crystals are decorating our windows and my morning coffee is most likely to be cold, as I cannot help but stare out the window. My Christmas like that of many others was spent differently this year. My grandmother was sick and my mum didn’t join the ‘festivities’ this year to keep us safe. If it hadn’t been for the Christmas tree and the smell of raclette cheese, it would have been an ordinary day. The circumstances didn’t allow a Christmas as usual and I received loving messages from friends and family. However, many of those messages included phrases like: “May next year be better than this!” or “Thank God, this year will soon be over!” I’ve heard people complain about the distance it has put between people. But was it really all bad? I have to disagree!

2020 may have been a year of unprecedented and unpredictable events, there’s no doubt about that! Many of our plans had to be cancelled, or perhaps postponed and things just didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. I know too well how that feels. But what this year has taught me is to accept things as they are and to be open for change! Acceptance doesn’t always come easy, I know that. Especially when you had made plans that you were excited about. I suppose it’s a normal human reaction to be disappointed and sad; perhaps even angry. However, if you stop resisting change, you might actually be surprised about the positive and beautiful things right in front of you that you hadn’t expected. Things that you might miss out on because you’re so focused on the negative.

I don’t want to repeat myself, I think I’ve made it clear in my previous post that I think it’s a matter of perspective and that I like to see the good in things. I also don’t want to play things down or give you the impression that I haven’t suffered from the restrictions, believe me, I have and I still am. I’m just not the kind of person who wants to let this virus determine how I look back at 2020. I cannot change the fact that this virus is circulating, but what I can change is the way I look at it. I will not allow it to take away my positivity and accomplishments because there is a number of things that I am extremely grateful for and that wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for coronavirus.

For me, this year was about growth. Personal growth and professional growth. I took some much needed time off to think. Think about my goals, my dreams, my values, what I want to do with my life, about who I am and what kind of person I want to be. I took the time to spend a ridiculous amount of time outside doing what I love: picking flowers, looking after plants, connecting with nature and animals, hiking with friends and family, to mention only a few. I was carefree, my batteries recharged; a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a long time and yet there were moments of sadness, frustration, devastation. I don’t want to hide the fact that I was angry with the universe for ruining my plans! Yes, this year was supposed to be different, but yes, this year still turned out nicely for me! At some point, I just accepted the fact that it’s within my own power to make something of this year. Why let this virus determine your happiness? Why give this responsibility to someone else, when you alone are the master of your very own life, your own happiness?

Yes, things might have gone in a different direction, but with a bit of creativity and curiosity, it was and still is possible to go on adventures, to MAKE your OWN adventures! It’s really up to you to decide what you make of the circumstances! You can either sit around, be grumpy and complain about the restrictions, but I don’t think it’s going to change anything. Or you can accept the fact that this is the way things are at the moment and make the best of it! Discover your surroundings, go wild on a new puzzle, start your own DIY project, read that book that has been sitting on your shelve for too long. Your options may be limited but it’s really up to your creativity!

We may have had to stay away from people and I do think this is making us socially awkward at times, but I disagree that this virus and the social restrictions that come with it is only damaging my friendships and family. Again, it’s a matter of perspective! This may sound weird but I have never felt more comfortable and at ease in my skin than I have over those past few months. I spent time with myself, listening to my body, my inner voice and simply got to know myself better. That’s not even all. I reconnected with family and old friends and even made new ones, so I think it’s a little too easy to blame a virus and argue that it’s only torn us apart! I too am sad about the fact that I couldn’t see many of my friends this year, but I think some friendships have grown even stronger over the past few months and I do think this is worth mentioning!

If we stopped concentrating on the negative events that happened this year, but instead started to see the positive sides, our lives would be much happier. At the end of each year, I make a list of things that I have accomplished. It’s something I have done for a while now because it simply makes me feel good about myself and about the past year. This year, I felt the urge to share my list with you, hoping that maybe you too will reconsider the way you think and feel about 2020. Hopefully, this will inspire you to make a list of your own accomplishments or gratitudes. Maybe you’ll see that 2020 wasn’t all that bad after all. I do wish you and your loved ones much joy, happiness, health, success and love for 2021!

  • I moved into a brand new apartment, which I finally get to decorate the way I want and makes me feel at home
  • I made new friends and reconnected with old ones
  • I landed my dream job working in international relations & renewable energy, which gives me the opportunity to contribute to the energy transition and makes me feel good about what I do
  • I managed my first projects
  • I worked on my finances
  • I discovered my love for flowers and plants
  • I spent a ridiculous amount of time outside reconnecting with nature and myself
  • I bonded with our turkeys that I took care of over the summer
  • I hiked up mountains & hills
  • I got to spend more time with my family
  • I rediscovered Vienna & its surroundings
  • I tried new recipes and got really good at making bread
  • I improved my yoga skills
  • I volunteered and got out of my comfort zone
  • I got to visit a friend in London and watched ‘Wicked’ for the first time
  • I made my own scrunchies
  • I successfully completed an online course on renewable energy technologies
  • I managed to stay healthy all year
  • I finally went to see a doctor about my pollen allergy and am starting treatment
  • I felt good about myself

Love,
M

In love with…perspectives & positive mindsets

When COVID-19 had finally hit Europe and more specifically Austria, life changed rapidly. Set to move to Australia with a box of my belongings already waiting for me in Queanbeyan, there I was: stuck in my apartment without a rental agreement, a job that was about to end a few weeks later and a plane ticket that was suddenly worthless. How had I gone from the best timing to move away to the worst timing possible? I was angry, frustrated, and sad. Our borders were technically closed, something I – a true believer in the European project – have never experienced in my 28 years of existence. But what if in the end, we all ended up exactly where we were supposed to? What if the universe wasn’t really trying to punish me – as I had told myself many many times – by making it impossible for me to move to Australia in April? What if it turned out to be a blessing, despite all the tears I have shed?

A dear friend of mine (half Austrian-half Australian, obviously we’re destined to be friends) has accompanied me virtually in those – at least for me – difficult times. He has managed to put a smile on my face and drag me out of my days of self-compassion when I needed it most by reminding me to work with what I have and to take it day by day. Now, patience does not run in my blood naturally and as much as I love the fact that I can be very determined (mum calls me stubborn, but I like a more positive attitude), I keep stinging myself in the back like Scorpios stereotypically do. Seriously, why are we always so hard on ourselves? The other day, my friend – let’s call him A – shared a post on LinkedIn with a quote by Alexander Graham Bell and it triggered something in me:

‘When one door closes another door opens (well that’s not new, but it’s the second part that struck me!), but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. ‘

When one door closes, another door opens

The past few weeks and months have been characterised by many ‘don’ts’ and ‘can’ts’, they are called restrictions for a reason after all! All of a sudden, our focus shifted to the things we couldn’t do, instead of seeing what there is we CAN do. Perhaps, some of you – like myself – adopted a negative mindset and gave the downwards spiral a free ride, as we’d say in German. But sometimes, we just need to accept things as they are and put them in a different perspective in order to shed light on those doors that have opened for us. This isn’t always easy, but I’d like to give it a try.

A few weeks ago, I moved back to the countryside to stay with my family for a while, at least for as long as I have figured out where I’m going and what I’m going to do. Experts say young people are affected most by the recession, so I hope they are not fed up with me just yet. I am the fittest I have ever been (and I haven’t even set a foot to the gym!), I have had the best sleep in years, I have reconnected with my pal nature as I go for long walks, hikes or runs, I have picked the most beautiful wild flowers, I got to spend more time with my family, particularly with my brother whom I had neglected for a very long time, I have practiced yoga and meditation, which has given me strength and has helped me revive my positive attitude, I have cooked healthy meals, baked delicious cakes and bread, and I have finally worked out what sector I want to work in. Now I know those are not literally doors, but to me, all of the above surely do feel like one hell big of a door.

Obviously, I don’t know what would have happened, if things had worked out let’s say ‘according to plan’, but if I had got on that plane one month earlier as anticipated, I probably would have been on that rescue plane a month later anyways heading back to Austria and I can only imagine how devastated I would have been, if that had been the case. Unemployment has risen significantly in every country, rules for migration are becoming even more difficult and hope for change for the better is high. I’m not saying I’m giving up on Australia just yet, I’m determined, remember? 😉 But I am saying that perhaps it’s not the right time for me to do it just yet and maybe I’m exactly where I should be: back home with my family, surrounded by nature and many possibilities to learn new and old things helping me change my direction, professionally and personally. What about you? Do you think you are right where you should be? Or are you still looking regretfully upon that door that so happens to be closed right now?

Bisou,
M

In love with…the little things

Hi lovebirds,

It’s no big news that I get nerdy from time to time, but this morning I was in the flow of reading a book in my hands on my way to work. I just couldn’t put it down and had to make the best of my ten minute walk from the metro to my office, so I continued reading and was thrilled about the red lights that allowed me to read an extra few lines. While I was standing in front of the zebra crossing, I felt a finger tapping on my shoulder and I looked up immediately. A young man was standing right next to me and he wanted to know where ‘Untere Viaduktgasse’ was and pointed at google maps on his phone. Wondering why he was speaking to me in English and uncertain of what language I should use, I went with English and I told him to come with me and showed him the way.

This obviously happened in pre-Corona times, when our lives were still busy and what we like to refer to as ‘normal’. Last summer, I once again participated in an online course, which is perhaps one of my favourites. It’s called ‘Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance’ and can be found for free on futurelearn. One of my Aussie host mums had recommended it to me three years ago, when I was going through a rough time. I don’t think she was aware of what an impact this would have on me when she sent me the invitation.

One lesson I took from this online course is to slow down, enjoy the little things we tend take for granted and to be in the present moment. This is where life happens! It’s changed my perception of my surroundings and my environment, as I began to smile at people, look them in the eye and sometimes even say hello to a stranger, or stop on the way to look at the blossoms on the trees and you know what? It feels damn good!

It’s surely become more difficult to smile at people, when you’re supposed to wear a mask, but if you look closely enough you can still see the friendliness and glitter in people’s eyes, or perhaps it’s just the pollen messing with people’s allergies. No but seriously, we always get so caught up in our thoughts, criticism, anxiety and life that we forget to enjoy the little things in our lives. We began to take everything for granted: our family, our houses, our healthcare system, being able to go to the supermarket. We look at our phones as we walk, we rush by the busy people in the morning without saying anything, yes, sometimes, we don’t really see what’s right in front of us.

So I’m asking you: When was the last time you took a walk and actually looked at the houses or trees around you? When was the last time you sat in a park and watched the ducks chase one another? When was the last time you had a real conversation with your family without discussing dinner, chores or who’s going to pick up the kids from school? When did you last smile at someone and said good morning to a person you don’t know? When was the last time you helped out a stranger? This list is endless and I too have struggled in those past few weeks since the lockdown. My life was turned completely upside down and I too have difficulties with the uncertainties, but that’s a different story. It’s okay for us to mourn, it’s okay to be angry and sad, but there comes a point in life, in which we need to accept that there are some things we just don’t have much power over, but instead as individuals we can, however, control how we see things and react to them.

Ever since I started appreciating the little things, my life has turned around. Consciously looking at my environment has made me realise how many beautiful things and inspiring people I am surrounded by every day. We are currently writing history and you are part of it! Isn’t this exciting news? Traffic in Vienna has decreased by 50% since the lockdown, streets have been blocked and turned into ‘meeting zones’ for pedestrians, residents of Venice are noticing a vast improvement in the quality of their canals. Is this ‘new normality’ really that bad?

Helping out this young man was again a moment of realisation for me. It might seem absolutely meaningless and pathetic to you and that’s okay too, but I’ve come to appreciate those moments more because I know I helped a person or made someone smile that day. Enjoying the little things currently helps me get through this crisis. I’m not saying, I’m doing a great job at it, but I certainly try. Next time you’re on the street, why don’t you try and smile at a stranger? You might be surprised by the friendly reaction! Stay strong lovebirds, we’re all in this together! By the way, it turns out that the book I read was in English.

Bisou, M

In love with…my Diana

Hello lovebirds,

I just discovered an old entry that I was going to publish before I left Vienna. As I was obviously very busy, I’ve decided to post it anyways as it describes what I’ve been and still am going through and some people might ask themselves what it’s like to move away from home…this entry is dedicated to Diana, a true travel companion!

Diana has been a true friend, never has anyone been this loyal. She’s my lady in baby blue and black and is always full of surprises. As I’m slowly emptying my room, people start asking me questions: are you sad you have to leave the country? Are you excited? What are you going to take with you?

Continue reading “In love with…my Diana”