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

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

 

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Creative, Internet

Sometimes we postpone something because we believe that it is going to be difficult or take up too much time, or even question the sense of our idea. But well! I let myself be motivated today in a short WhatsApp brainstorm with my marketing friend Lilly and here we go! I started my author Instagram and it was pretty fast to start!

So, you may as well try now! You might find out, that all the fear of being overwhelmed by the task was absolutely unnecessary.

 

And those who like to read (in Portuguese & German till now), feel free to follow me there!

https://www.instagram.com/kristina_bodrozic_brnic/

Beijos,

Kris

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A Simple Gentlemen from Méier

Memories

It was in 2016 that I worked during the Olympic and Paralympic Games and I stayed in the neighborhood of Méier, one of the neighborhoods with less violence in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. The shops and stores are simple and regular but one afternoon I passed by a small “empório”, a place where you can find imported beer, wine and other products. This was very unusual for the neighborhood and I saw that once a week they invited a food truck to host an evening with them. So I decided to go there. The place soon became my favorite bar, a place to rest after work while still enjoying the heat of the day. Soon I met Kleber, a local banking accountant who regularly met there with his psychologist after their therapy session. Kleber was around 50, never had traveled abroad, not even to another state, but was such a welcoming person. We frequently met and discussed the world and soon another close friend of his, the lawyer joined us. So you can imagine how funny the evenings were: a banker, a psychologist, a lawyer and a crazy world citizen like me. Even though my friends were much older than me and so different from myself, I enjoyed hanging out with them, because I was greeted with pure honesty and friendship.

I found out about Kleber’s cancer only two months ago. Yesterday our psychologist friend informed me about his demise. All I want to say here is that I found a true gentleman in such a simple place as Méier, who had never traveled abroad, who spoke only his mother tongue, a gentleman of a kind we rarely find in our world today. I want to say thank you for all the nice evenings we had together, all the respect and care I received and I want to remind you, dear readers, that the most special people are sometimes those who pass unnoticed by the majority in our society.

 

 

 

 

Thank you 2018!

Memories, Observations

2018 is coming to its end and I am in Svib, Croatia, where I spend the Christmas season with my family. For me Christmas started on the 22nd with the invitation of the father and continued throughout all these days being closer to my family.

In January this year I had written down a post with the title “JANUARY, 1ST, 2019 – WHAT I DID IN 2018“, an exercise to get the things you want to happen in that year and some of them became true, others didn’t. I want to quote the listed objectives of that post and reflect on their fulfillment or non-fulfillment.

Let’s start!

I had a surgery to treat my endometriosis and it went fine. I quickly recovered and had no side effects and my abdominal pain was reduced to almost 0.

The surgery went really well but it was the most painful time of my life. It was not only that a bunch of organic material had been removed but also my intestine had to be scraped clean. The period your intestine needs to get back to function is a challenge, but I managed. The surgery was important in many aspects for me to see life. One is that I believe that my fear in the relationship I had, had caused all these organic materials to grow. But more about that in a later quote.

I have also held some great workshops regarding East Asian cultures and arts which brought me interesting new clients who appreciate my knowledge and which again motivated me to continue broadening my personal knowledge in this field.

I was part of one workshop series about the Chinese New Year and related the Chinese Zodiac to one of artist Ai Weiwei’s works (of course, it had to be intellectual as well). I met interesting colleagues working in related fields but also some of my old and current students attended the workshop and I got to know them better. The beautiful aftermatch was that I managed to get into Ai WW’s project in Trancoso as an interpreter and could observe how a mega art project is actually organized and created which was enrichening for my personal development and understanding of things.

I should not forget to tell you that Carla and me developed a female entrepreneur group in which women learn from each other and gain the right motivation for their own projects.

That was in discussion but did not happen. Carla and me know each other for quite some time now and our friendship, fellowship turns more and more into common business projects. We started “Save Me Teacher BR” on Instagram in November this year, aiming to help those interested in learning Brazilian Portuguese and hoping of course to build up a larger community which will then translate back into language teaching and language solutions.

Also I published three new books, one with my friend Carla on Brazilian culture and another poetry collection, this time in Portuguese. The third book even found a publisher, which is a volume for young Brazilian Chinese learners.

Well! Not exactly but that’s explicable. The projects that survived and are under development needed a certain liberation and maturity from my side. A week ago I published a poetry volume in Brazilian Portuguese named “A Busca Pelas Palavras: Poemas da Minha Alma Brasileira” on Amazon. The book is divided into three phases of my life. The end, the middle and the beginning, covering a time span of 2 1/2 years of my life.

The book for Brazilian kids learning Chinese is half way through and I am looking for investments and publisher (or both in one) to finish it soon. I was very afraid that I might have lost the wonderful person who is illustrating the stories due to the confusions and changes that were going on in my life. But we are still a team and we are going to finish this.

I still want to do the book with Carla!

One new book project, a story about Berlin, is in development. Yes! I am getting there!

Professionally I am pursuing more and more the creative way. I am teaching and translating less and working more and more in the intercultural field, where I can help people more directly with specific problems in their adaption process.

This is actually becoming true! I started calling myself a writer and poet without shame. I still shy away when people give me a compliment because I am only self-published and never sought for a publisher.

Also I believe in all the skills I acquired the last eight years after graduating from university and found a really nice project of learners’ material creation, which again will give me more knowledge to go for my own more contemporary projects in 2019. I started believing in myself again. Isn’t that an amazing feeling?

Our guesthouse Villa Luka also faced a great year. We had many tourists from all over the world and all costs related can be covered easily by the income we have.

Well, we improved by almost 100% but still far away from covering the costs. Estimatedly we’re going to need three more years to record figures in the black.

My relationship is going very smooth and I am happy to say that I am seven months pregnant. Since it is fine for pregnant women to fly I have spend Christmas 2018 with my family in Croatia and we had a great time. Everybody opened up and we strengthened our bonds even tighter.

Well, almost all of you know by now that this did not happen. And you know what? I added this part to my article out of inner guilt. It was my ex’s highest objective to have a child. No matter how our relationship went, no matter how I felt, no matter where I was in my mind. All these years that we had tried and I didn’t manage, I had to listen to his voice accusing me of not wanting to have children. Well, in the end I saw that this was partly true. I was afraid of having children with him, of his teaching methods that I could observe first hand on myself and I could not imagine this to work out. For a while I thought, well, if we have a child and don’t get along, I can still separate from him. But that created other fears, the fear of being controlled for the rest of my life through the bond of a child. It was only during my Trancoso interpreter job that I had managed to be honest towards myself and towards him and I told him that I did not want to have a child with him. In consequence we broke up, smoothly.

About Christmas, I am here. And summer and Christmas strengthened my bonds with my family again. With many of the family members at least. That’s wonderful!

I myself understand life so much better now and really focus on the things that matter to me at the moment. Letting life flow and not being mad about the little things that don’t seem to add up right on the spot, don’t annoy me much and I don’t spend much time thinking about those.

Simply true!

We have moved to a nicer place where we have enough space to be a family and I support my husband in his career as much as he does support mine. He now understands that life is not always a straight red line, that all the things we do can be connected someday and that the experience I have made in all my fields is beneficial for my current and future tasks.

The tension when we actually were working on moving together was so big that I cancelled the whole project. And that was really smart. He soon was not working in that city anymore.

I am sure that my dear ex understands now that life is not a straight line.

And I see that all the experience I made is beneficial to me. Yes, I do!

Thank you 2018! You’ve been wonderful to me!!!

You were! Thank you 2018!

Self Control Through not Buying Goodies

Observations

Most of us have a weakness. To some this is clothes, shoes, accessories and to others it’s electronics, household supplies and others.

On the 13th of December last year, I had decided to not buy clothes and accessories for a whole year. Well, I managed almost seven months until I started a new job and needed some adequate clothing and still these seven months were worth it.

I have this thing that I want things to always match, so you end up buying shoes in a certain color and only use them once a year. Some of you probably know what I mean!

Surprised by myself, I saw that not buying clothes was not a big deal for me, even though I like shopping centers. I didn’t look into the windows with a feeling of longing. In fact, after a very short time I could walk by windows without noticing much the offers. And when I saw some really creative fashion, I was able to simply admire it.

The most positive effect of not buying was for me the simple feeling of gaining more control over my life. I didn’t have the intention to save money since I might have spent only about 600 dollars a year for new clothes, a third of what the average person in developed countries spends. But I just had enough of everything.

Another thing I learned was to have pieces I liked simply fixed. The tailor I selected close to my place fixed and adjusted some of my clothes and the shoemaker was happy about my visits, too.

When you have less, you travel lighter. And to travel light I had to sell and give away still probably about 100 kgs.

The self-control you practice transfers to other areas of your life, bit by bit. I love this exercise.

Now facing the German winter I was stocking up again a bit but it’s December the 14th today and I will go for a second round of regaining self-control.

Just try it! To some it’s easier and to others harder. Once you start, you’ll soon get used to it and see how it changes your mind and your life.

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!!!

 

The People I meet

Memories

It’s been a long time now that I wanted to write this article and there’s a lot of stuff going on these days in Berlin, that I would like to talk about, too. So, I better finish the article on the people I meet.

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Since April and May this year, I have met many people and thus many influences. I learn from the personalities that cross my path. Here I would like to focus only on a very short and specific period of the year for two reasons. The first one is that the article would become a book if I included everyone prior and past this period, because the world brought me luckily many enlightening, inspiring and motivating encounters. Second, the people of this very short period of let’s say eight weeks, were those that I needed to meet to be able to not lose myself.

From the end of July till the end of September I have been working in an art-gallery on board of ships. Yes! Such a thing exists and I really believed in the project. For the doubts that came up, the people I met, helped me to find answers, bit by bit. Person to person.

Let’s start in early August.

 

Mr. Artist

Mr. Artist is a wonderful person from New York and even though not yet a full time artist but surely has an artist’s mind. Ship life was not really something he liked that much since he did not feel as old as the other passengers. No matter his age, he felt and behaved like a young person, while many people of the same age already start talking about how they will pass away soon. Mr. Artist is open, funny and empathetic. He made me believe in myself and made me laugh. I managed to open up and relax in his presence. Also, thanks to him, I did not forget who I was and what I know. Pretty much right from the start I learned to test and expand the rules that were established by others. That was important. My hunger for life outside ships grew.

 

Ms. Scarf

Ms. Scarf was the most important person and friend to me. With her I felt again the pure love a friendship between two women can bring, like one of these childhood friendships, you know? Ms. Scarf is from Thailand and has a great artistic education and expression.

We met sometimes in the smoking room and one night I was a bit drunk already and we started talking about how I felt isolated by the people working around me and she just had the same problem. People often put a stamp on you either due to your origins, looks or whatever. We gave each other hope that things would become better. Often we just met during my break and she was working and we exchanged looks and smiles that would tell us everything we needed.

After less than a month I was transferred to another ship and the night before leaving I had a farewell meeting but only after the official part was over, and I had not managed to meet Ms. Scarf, the Musician (another nice character I met), convinced me to try to find my friend. It was already after midnight when Ms. Scarf and I met on the corridor and she was about to do her laundry. She asked whether the party was still going on and I said, that I didn’t know. She decided to make it a party and well, I could not have had a better farewell. She and her friends prepared drinks and sound and even food and we talked and danced in the pool area. We had so much fun, breaking the rules kind of fun and just letting go and exchanging. It felt so good! The next morning Ms. Scarf and I managed to meet during her break. She had only slept two hours that night. She gave me a scarf, a beautiful batik piece of organic fabric that kept me warm after us parting.

 

Mr. Road Less Traveled

Mr. Road Less Traveled was a very nice and smart person who I met during the second week of my job in a political discussion that emerged among some guests and me. Well, politics is never something one can win and we both soon withdrew from any attempt to convince our republican chat partner and started a conversation in parallel where we figured out that we actually have a great way of exchanging. If I remember it right, all it took was a mere reaction in both our eyes when we gave up on that topic of politics to know that we had better things to talk about. I learned a lot about Mr. Road Less Traveled’s life, how things turned out for him and how he learned from everything and took his own conclusions. Some topics were partners, divorce and how to have a good relationship. But also job, isolation and jealousy, which was something I had to deal with more. We met in the evenings with so much pleasure and in the end I met his wonderful life partner and she also taught me some things she had learned about life and love. They were really motivational and I am so grateful for the book tip I received from him. Ironically I got this book tip twice which is one of the reasons that I am actually rereading it again now. Also, the content needs to sink in better. But “The Road Less Traveled” is about how you approach life and manage to go through your relationships and how you are on good terms with yourself and the people around you. It is a lot about discipline and dedication to the truth, values that help up us to improve.

 

Mr. Courageous

On my flight to the job in the end of July, I met Mr. Courageous, a short encounter and a conversation that lasted about seven hours, I guess. Interesting were the moments in between, the attention and conclusions Mr. Courageous drew from simple hints and observations, some so precise and so deeply hidden that I was really surprised and I wonder till now about how he accesses this kind of information. Mr. Courageous helped me simply by giving me hope and by believing in living the moment. Once you seize the moment you are no longer afraid. At one point of our short e-message exchange he also recommended the book “The Road Less Traveled” and that is another surprise if you consider that the book was written in the end of the 1970s, so it is pretty unusual that two very different people recommend it nowadays within 24h.

 

Mr. Motivator

Mr. Motivator was a great surprise encounter. In the beginning, I mistook him for an employee. Such a young person on board of a cruise ship. Well, there was a lot to exchange with this young Canadian lawyer. To me it is a pleasure to meet special and intelligent lawyers, because we usually share similar ethics and life views. I was in a moment where I had to learn to stand up for myself and believe in what is right to me. By then it had been years that I managed to stay away from typical company hierarchies, so being in such structures was quite challenging. Mr. Motivator showed me what he saw in me and the reflection of his observation helped me to move and get out of a situation that was not good for me. Also, I learned to simply have some fun and finally break the rules so that life became more human again. I remember for example a night in the piano bar, me singing while seated on top of the bar like in an old black and white movie and some secret kissing on the sofa beforehand. Yes! That was really nice! Mr. Motivator is definitely my B&W movie hero!

 

Ms. Travel, Mr. Macabre & Mr. Chess

I met all three of them in the first week on the new ship that cruised Europe. Ms. Travel and Mr. Macabre were travelling together. Mr. Chess was a very nice and intelligent colleague of mine, very clear minded.

Ms. Travel is an open woman and a good observer. She loves exploring new things. Besides our lovely chats, there was one evening when we were sitting with some other guests and Mr. Chess and all of us had had some drinks. Ms. Travel reminded me the next morning that drinking too much makes people aggressive and I reflected on the night before and realized that I and the others had lost our tolerance at some point. Yes! I learned from her to remind myself more often on the importance of listening.

Mr. Macabre is a friend of Ms. Travel’s who went through a separation and started looking positively at all the options life offers him. He has a cookery side business that he would like to do full time and what I learned in the exchange with him is that we are all going to be fine if we continuously seek our path. He said: In a year from now, we all will be doing something different, and he is right. I moved on.

Mr. Chess was a colleague of mine, very positive and helpful and always with an open ear. He is my Mr. Chess because one night we played and I had some fun, even though I was losing fast. But he taught me some strategic moves not only in chess but also in life. His book recommendation was  “Real Artists Don’t Starve” which I am reading now. And yes! It is true! He made me accept, even though he was sad about me leaving, that it is OK when something is not for you and to go out and do your thing. He always knew what to say, had an honest access to himself and therefore he is good with people. Also was he one of the few male colleagues I had, who were attracted to me but also respected me and my decision and managed to be only friends. Thank you very much for this! Had I not had Mr. Chess with me on the second ship, I would not have survived the whole thing mentally and intellectually. At least I introduced darts to Mr. Chess, not sure if I left any other impact.

 

Mrs. Lady and Mr. Barcode

Well, I almost forgot to mention Mrs. Lady and Mr. Barcode! I met them when the ship reached Warnemunde and we traveled together to Berlin by train which is a three hour ride. Without having planned anything, we took the same train and wagon on the way back. They frequently visited me in the gallery afterwards and went with me through my hopes and crisis. And they helped me especially with the incident of sexual harassment I had to go through. Mrs. Lady and Mr. Barcode were simple travelers, loved discovering naturally what life brought them. With them I learned to trust my guts and they were more than happy when they learned that I had quit my job to start over somewhere else. I won’t forget you! Mr. Barcode got this nickname actually because his father co-invented the barcode. Can you believe that? Pretty nice!

So, among many other interesting personalities and helpful people, these are the ones that especially helped me to learn at a high speed about life’s matters. Now it is about me to be patient while moving, observing, listening and filtering when entering other people’s realities. I need to figure out my own version of all this now.

 

 

 

 

Interrupted Flow

Memories

When just meditating with the “Change” package on the Headspace app, I remembered what the thread of this continuation of my story would be. It is the flow of life and the famous saying “Go with the Flow!”. And sometimes we manage to fulfill this, this is when life feels sweet. But sometimes we put up resistance, and that is when we have to discover why.

(Some remark before I go! Besides that it took a break of four days to continue this post, I decided that now is the time, that I do this to let out my hurt heart to the public, even though many others rather wouldn’t do so. I believe that sharing also negative feelings, helps others to see, that it is totally ok.)

I separated from my partner in the end of May this year after a two year period of analysis and discovery. The first days afterwards I felt very relieved. Then, after a week, I had some doubtful days, not about my decision but about how I would continue. I was seeking for answers.

One evening I have met a friend who is the barkeeper of my favorite place in Vila Madalena and I knew that he was trying to get back into cruise ships, something he had done for five years prior to returning to Brazil. I used to follow up from time to time but that evening I also asked, if he believed that there would be jobs for “people like me” on ships, people who are into languages, intercultural relationships and culture in general. And his answer was yes. To cut a long story short. A week afterwards I found a job offer of an art gallery on board of such ships, an old company with a new sub business. And I applied. The first interview was scheduled fast and I was happy because at that moment of my life it gave me a huge amount of energy. Quickly I learned that salary could surely not be something to focus on. But still, I sought succeeding in the process and taking on the adventure, being all positive. And there I was signing one of the worst contracts of my life in terms of clauses and getting all my visas and medical exams after a total of four interviews and selling almost all my things at a garage sale. I met new amazing people in that period of zeroing my life, strengthened my relationships with my dear friends and even got to know better the environment of my own neighborhood.

I negotiated a later start so that I would be able to meet my mother and family in July in Croatia before going on board for six months. That was really great. I was energized, always going with the flow.

The job started in the end of July and I won’t mention any company, neither the places I have traveled to, because what comes now is tough and it is my version of the reality I encountered.

I started on the first ship with all my energy, all my flow, all my positivity and without any prejudices. Soon I felt that I was left out by the people working on board. Maybe I was overly anxious to make friends among the crew because in Brazil this is something easy and natural and fast to do. Well, among guests I met amazing people with whom I connected easily and I have to say that most of these smart people were on this ship and felt like never doing it again. We managed to connect on so many different levels. I believe that it somehow actually had to do with the plenty of experience I had already gained and with the different lifestyle I was used to. One of my guest friends at the age of 65 clearly said that my intelligence would separate me. On one hand that is amazing to hear from another smart person. On the other I have tried so hard to teach myself that I am no different from any other person.

In my new job we were a team of two. My colleague was supposed to be my so-called superior, but I guess she has watched the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” a tiny little bit too often. The first week I tried to deal with things in a very understanding manner, giving the excuse that she has been promoted very fast and feels the pressure coming with it strongly. I tried to make her relax, openly. Showed her in a careful manner that I get her. It surely wasn’t something she was seeking for. To give her credit, she considered many of my ideas and input but not my main message which was doing the sales naturally and not force the “closure of a deal”. She believed in another story. She was an intelligent woman though.

Her behavior started getting to my guts in the middle of the second week and by the end of the second week I was already crying. I was not used to fight with anyone. Always trying to make people see and understand. My frustration is high when I don’t manage to do so. The problems I had with her though, helped me to make friends among the crew finally because people saw that I had changed from a positive person to one with a hanging face. I remember well the positivity I had found in them then, how talking and sharing strengthened me. And I knew it was the whole mix of changes in my life, but what really gave me the rest was the lack of respect I encountered as a human being. It was not that much about the professional component.

Our HR responsible was already asking to let her know how I was and I tried to ignore her messages for some time until I was so down in the third week that we scheduled a call after me having written a very careful email about what was going on. The talk was good and I even managed to talk to my colleague over a latte later on. The consequence was that I was transferred to a better ship to open a gallery with another colleague. It is funny how people clash. While my former manager was talking positively about my new colleague while I still was on her ship, I later found out from my new colleague, that they actually were clashing right from the start due to their different attitudes.

While being on the first ship I got those invitations to watch a movie in a cabin, only from men, but it took me quite some time to find out what they mean. Before starting on the new ship my new manager and I were exchanging already personal matters and I asked him if it meant what I finally thought it meant, which was nothing else but an invitation for sex, he said yes. And he told me more stories about how people in a higher hierarchy think that they can have anyone.

I am a person trying not to have any prejudices about educational level because I have met many great people without much school and many fools with a master’s. But if hierarchy was anything educational on those ships, I would have been on the top by far, so it was difficult to understand why I was considered to be anything less than a captain. And I have to say that the captains on both ships were actually nice people, not abusing their “status”.

But there are all those people in between. And I got into trouble. I thought of leaving the ship after my first week on the new one. It was super difficult again to make friends and I did not like the idea of having to go to the crew bar. I enjoyed the evening when I needed to relax on the outer deck for guests, drinking my glass of wine while having a smoke and usually a nice chat with those wonderful exceptions. I saw that there was no crew at that bar on the second ship but I decided to not ask why and enjoy. The second week I got busted and had to smoke in the crew area. Well, it is surely a reason to give up smoking but you suffer from plenty of stress, so that that is no option either. But since the smoking zone was right beside the crew bar, I started going out there. And that second night I went there, I knew why I intuitively had avoided that place.

That day I had been to Berlin, had met my cousin and friends, all positive about helping me out once I quit and move to the city for a while. I was in an extremely good mood and drank three glasses of wine within some hours, chatting a bit, writing notes into my diary from time to time. And then, I don’t really know how one thing lead to the other. I was invited by a nice waiter for another glass. The DJ came, played popular latino music, I started dancing, there was a guy jumping into the scene, trying to get my attention and we danced even though I was not interested in him but only in dancing and having fun. Soon his hand went off somewhere else, and I moved it away and let it pass as a latino dance kind of thing. But when his hands moved up and I took them away, I felt like I needed to explain something. Unfortunately I did not make a fuss, wanted to be discrete, so none would notice. I excused myself for him misunderstanding me and told him that I had no intentions. Well, the whole thing continued a bit and in the end he bit me while trying to be a Don Juan, I guess. The same night I talked to colleagues about how weird he was and found out that there were frequent problems about his behavior. Also stories that were never reported officially.

The next day I thought hard, whether I should or should not report him, but thinking of the fact that he frequently behaved like this towards women made me come forward. I had some difficult men on parties before but never had I denounced anyone. It also had never been that terrible as at that night. Usually people get the first clear “no”.

The following days were terrible. Emotions changing all the time. Did I do the right thing? Will I ever have to see that guy again?

I talked to the ship HR, to the priest, to my manager, to two people I considered friends by then and got different feedback. When the security manager gave me the informal insight that on the video it looked as if we were “cuddling” I was lost. Man! What the f….?

The guy was dismissed because it has been his third denouncement. Otherwise the story could have turned against me.

What do I hope for him? Probably only that he takes this as a chance to move on, to work on his worldview, to understand himself and the world better.

After that story, I was sure that I needed to leave ships. All the time, there were men around me. And even though people were afraid of me the first days after the story happened, I still did not feel safe. I met a lot of nice people, but it was all about sharing short feelings in bed. That was so far from my reality, where you build up friendships, trust and maybe you are at one point attracted to someone and intimate nice things happen.

I talked to some women about my experience in general and they were all used to it. That’s so sad. They all deal in different manners with it. One told me that especially newcomers are being watched.

I am by my own standards a nice person, greet everybody, I am simply nice. But it was so hard for me to stay naturally nice because there were so many men hungry for something more at any given point. I could not stay. I had to leave in order to not lose my ideals, my learning and my belief in the fact that we can do so much more in this world than just satisfying our basic needs. I love natural things, natural development and then sex is just a natural consequence of a beautiful encounter anyways.

I got off the ship in the end of September. I stayed the whole month of October with my mum in Croatia. Well!

That is the end of the second part of my story. The next part will tell you about the amazing people I met on my path in and out of this very unique, almost artificial situation.

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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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