The End Of My Unplanned Sabbatical

Just Me

A year has passed. On July, 9th in 2018 I left Brazil and landed in Split, Croatia in the evening. After driving into the mountains, my cousin’s wife had prepared a cake for me to celebrate my birthday, celebrating freedom, celebrating…, we were not really sure and not everybody knew what was going on in my life. And this year, on the 9th of July, it was my birthday again, here in Berlin. I celebrated with my friends, whom I have told about how much I had learned in this unwanted sabbatical and the lessons will turn into a book that I can share with all of you, for you yourself being brave to go on your journey and learn your own lessons.

In this post we can then discuss what it means to end a sabbatical. An unplanned sabbatical. Now I am 39 years old, single for more than a year (I have never beens ingle so long in my adult life, that is really amazing), free and smart, but always a bit broke, never though giving in when it comes to my life style. I need to stay me! Never stepping back, always moving forward!

Forward was the word I wrote in the sand of the wild forest in Trancoso, Bahia, last year in May, a few days before the whole avalanche started that leads to this post today.

What will change is that I now appreciate much more what I do and what I can do, without any self-pity. I have also learned to embrace the uncertain but also to create inner positivity which helps me to take better decisions. We need to stay calm, we should never panic. When we are tranquil, we can hear, listen, see and recognize much better what options are lying right there in front of us.

Accepting the responsibility one has for one self is one of the richest things I could have done. And I would like to teach younger people just that. Don’t step into the same traps. You can go straight to the point where you build the reality you want to live. Give priority to yourself and to what is best for you, under general ethical considerations of course. But don’t hand over the power of your creative life for the sake of following an old-fashioned dream brought to you by your society. You can do what you truly like doing.

So, ho ho ho! The future is bright, the present is real, and the past is a source of everlasting learning, and sometimes, you just need to close the box for a while. Ho ho ho! Merry rebirth!

Thank you 2019

Just Me

2019 is a strange number! Yet I adapted to it very fast. It is also the Chinese Year of the pig, and to summarize the little lazy pig, it still means money. I guess, this is true for many farmers nowadays, too. Well! I will repeat the exercise I did last year about 2018 and imagine that I am writing this post on January 1st of 2020.

2019! You have been wonderful! I had a rich year in experience, learning, travels and friendships. It was incredibly fulfilling.

I had several trips that lead me to different places in the world, starting with Morocco, the Bosnian country side, one other amazing place on another continent, and the most amazing trip of all, which I did in April. My good friend and literature colleague and I went up to the state of Acre in Brazil to live with an Amerindian tribe for two weeks. The people were very receptive and Juan and me produced a lot of poems and collected material for his story telling events. Also we were lucky to have been invited to a traditional Ayahuasca ceremony, which was not only beautiful, but very enlightening. What I learned from that experience was, that I am fine the way I am, that I do not have to try to be someone else and that if I only relax a bit more in life, I can see clearer and advance with my plans. In the end it is all about the true human connection. Since this experience I feel so much more self confident, secure and I can fully live my love for myself and the world. I would not say that my perspective on life has changed but it became clearer and surer.

I developed professionally a lot in the intercultural sector in Berlin and happily close the gap between Brazil, China and Germany in several areas related to immigration and adaption. I have enough clients, so it was possible for me to escape Berlin winter in November this year and I rented a place in Buenos Aires, where I am still now. It helps me to improve my Spanish and get a feeling for another great place in the world. It is a great experience for me! Just wonderful to get to know all those wonderful people. All in all, I gained financial independence, even though I had to be very patient the first months of the year. It all worked out for me and I am happy.

My literary works weren’t few this year. Besides the poetry volume I published with Juan on the lifestyle of the Huni Kuin, I also managed to create my first audio book with a wonderful Italian musician called Vito here in Berlin. We got great resonance and even had papers publishing articles on our collaboration. The audio book sells internationally pretty well for its aesthetic dimension. Another book I finished was the one on Berlin culture for Brazilians which is out and available to all the wonderful people who want to be prepared before moving over to the city.

In terms of love I am still open! I met amazing men and learned a lot from our encounters. My emotions are lively, I am open and I get into honest exchanges which bring growth to both sides. In 2020, there might actually be one person with whom I might get more serious. Opening up is easy, trusting someone again completely takes time but in 2020 I shall be ready to try again.

Thank you 2019! I am healthy, satisfied and self-confident!


fuck yeah

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Berlin, my new kind of home

Just Me

And may the future come.

I arrived in Berlin on November, 5th. So it has been a bit more than four weeks by now. And I really don’t know where to start right now.

Maybe with the pre-history. Well, after giving up my art gallerist job on ships and returning to my mum’s home in Croatia, it dawned on me that I was in fact in an ongoing sabbatical year. It started so naturally that I was absolutely not aware of it but it made total sense. And my sabbatical is quite different from those that people plan carefully, those where people already have a vision about how they want to move and learn. Mine started with me leaving Brazil in early July, and being in Berlin now represents the middle.

My cousin offered me some time ago to come to Berlin as an alternative option and while I was not really deeply thinking about it, the idea started to manifest bit by bit after leaving Brazil. In September I was sure that this was what I wanted, since I felt uncomfortable and imprisoned on ships.

A day trip from Warnemunde to Berlin in early September made it possible for me to settle first things. The initial idea was to come somewhen in October or November and stay until the end of the year to figure out whether this place could become a new base.

I had also gotten another invitation to visit my Brazilian friends in Paderno Dugano and relax a bit with them. Therefore I planned a slow trip to arrive at my destination. Maybe a kind of maidentrip, even though by far not as intense as Laura Dekkers experience when crossing the world in a tiny boat at the age of 14. But there was something that had to do with it. A new beginning, the freedom to decide for yourself and learning on the way and somehow learning to grow up a bit maybe. (I still don’t consider myself fully grown-up at the age of 38.)

I met friends in Paderno, Milan, Munich and Nuremberg and then set foot onto the streets of Berlin. Surprisingly, everything went smooth. Here I already knew people whom I had met in different stages of my life. Some from university, different jobs, Brazil. I also have family and it is easy to meet new folks with whom you can connect. It seems to be the place where everybody goes to at some point. A place of re-encounter.

So, right from the start I felt good here but many things were also different or new. Christmas sales were already going on and my eyes in the supermarket were huge when looking at all those tasty chocolates and decorations. You must know that in Brazil Christmas is during summer and that people are not really as crazy about decorating, listening to Christmas songs and all that as we are. There, Christmas is very different.

Also people’s behavior was something very new, different and shocking to me after having lived for seven years in São Paulo. Again, like during my visits, I can see the extreme frustration people throw at each other openly in Europe. This is something I have to get used to again, maybe it was one of the reasons why I never felt like really at home in Germany in the past.

Home. I may not have such a thing right now. There is always my mother and Croatia but that does not feel like home. Berlin sometimes does. It is a big city, there are people, options, opportunities. But also, I may not really be looking for a home right now. Still, I may have found my base.

In my second week I got frustrated for some days. My savings were running out, I could not find ongoing short-term projects to get in and I felt like looking at a huge pile of undoables. Then I realized that I was limiting myself. Half a year ago I had the idea of returning to Brazil in February to settle things there and travel a bit. This idea that it had to be February made it impossible for me to look further. Once I realized that, I simply took out the time limitations from my equation and things started working out bit by bit. I applied for some interesting language projects, found a temporary job to keep myself up for some time (selling chocolates at the Christmas market, yes!!!), finished my soon to be published poetry book (and started working on the next non-fiction novel), and I decided to stay in this city already and therefore started dealing with the annoying bureaucracy of being a citizen of the European Union again. I now feel relieved and smoothly-minded enough to take the right decisions.

The people who invest their time in me now make me feel supported and everything seems easier, because there is always a solution. In fact, there are many and I am learning now and probably also during the second part of my sabbatical to pick wiser.

We shall see!!!


It’s not always easy, and that’s OK, too!

Just Me

It’s time for me to write that overdue post on how things have changed drastically, luckily not dramatically, and I have been writing this in my mind for three months now, I guess.

Well, it might look a tiny little bit crazy for all those who do not have the slightest idea of what happened lately in my life.

So, let’s start at when the changes finally came. It was in April this year that I started to work as an interpreter at Ai Weiwei’s art projects in Trancoso, Bahia. There were two big projects in total and each of them had their own interpreter. It was a five week job for me, receiving only one visit in the beginning by my partner.

Trancoso lies at the beach and me and my translator colleague managed to sometimes get up around 6 am in the morning to get a swim before heading into the forests, where our projects would take place. That’s such a nice thing to do, heading early in the morning to the beach and just swim in the warm Baiano water. It was very relaxing. It gives you a glimpse of freedom, too.

Working with Chinese and Brazilians was a great experience, especially because the Chinese colleagues were not who you’d usually meet on such jobs. I learned a lot! I learned from all the circumstances. Interpreting in such a project is much more than just translating words. You transmit culture, lend an ear towards problems, and you role up your sleeves when something needs special attention.

Often I summarize it like that: I did my job and everybody respected me and took my opinion into account. Even though I was working in Sao Paulo and always had a good reputation in my job, I did not get that kind of recognition at home. I was never doing something “well” enough. To me the opinion of my partner mattered by then, even if I tried to ignore it, it got to me all the time. So, I got back home after five weeks of Trancoso, feeling very strong and positive. I even prepared dinner that day. Something I had done less and less in the relationship, because I also had not done it ‘good enough’.

While working away from home, I managed to see clearer through my relationship, mainly by encountering someone else who was in an emotionally manipulative relationship, too. And he was yet at an early point, but I recognized myself in him. I knew, I thought and behaved like this young man some years ago. Whether right or not, I started helping him to get another perspective on situations, to build up his self-confidence. And this act helped me to be able to be truly honest to myself and to be honest about our relationship problems, and therefore I had made a clear decision to not want to have a child ‘with’ my husband. There were many things not working out and it would have been just crazy to bring a child between us. We had tried for three years though one could say and the topic itself is very complicated when pressure becomes part of the equation. I mention this after dinner and what happens next is that we decide to split up and it was about time, since we were both not living a healthy relationship. That’s the keyword: healthy relationship. That’s something to achieve and maintain.

It took me two years to get to that point. Two years in which I had tried to solve things by therapy, couples therapy, talking … . Those two years had such a tough impact on our happiness because after opening your eyes, you can never really get back to ‘innocent’ again. Either you manage to work on the issues together or time will tear you apart. And it is Ok when it does. Otherwise you would become one of those long term couples where one is always walking far ahead of the other. Yes! That’s never a nice thing to see!

So, how does a break-up of a ten year long relationship (seven years of marriage) feel? In the beginning I felt relieved. Meditation practices, transactional analysis and my natural optimism helped me to keep my eyes open to reality and to not panic in the time where we had to decide together on certain things, such as living in the house together for a while or not. Who takes care of the cat and until when? These and other matters that can be a problem for many separating couples. But when you manage to calm down yourself, they do not become problems.

I knew by then, that I could not have left sooner. I had not analyzed our problems from a realistic perspective yet and I was not strong enough either. I did not have control enough over my reactions and we could say, I had no control over my feelings.

How does it feel now? Well, just like the title says: It’s not always easy, and that’s OK, too! There will be another post coming up these days to talk about the things that have happened since that day in the end of May.

dawn sunset beach woman

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