A year ago I took this note and occasionally I came across it today. Please, do this exercise exactly today and see, what you are grateful for.And share the exercise.
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 last three weeks I felt like I had time for nothing. As before, I was involved with many very different projects, of course some of them pure fun and unpaid, but still time consuming.
I figured out:
– Even when you are stressed because of the fact that the day only has 24 hours, you should try to do your work with pleasure. Having fun at work motivates also others and you get easier through a long day.
– Also I learned that many things in life sooner or later make sense. Stuff you once did and thought that you may have lost time, some day might turn out to be a useful skill in a new context.
– Another thing is age. Now time only walks ahead. I should take more care of my body but not get crazy about aging. For a married 35 year old woman with no kids, I still don’t look too bad. My skin has its spots and wrinkles when I smile, and it is time I accept them.
– Another topic then is purpose in life. I’ve been talking to my husband and friend about this topic recently. I think the general answer is, it is about helping other people to live better. Your generation and the next generation. It is not about us. Our time and means are limited, but since things have to end for us one day, we can invest our time and help others to have better lives. In return there are more happier people in our society, who do great things to re-contribute. That is the only possible sense in life. It is not simply about money, entertainment or having kids. It is about what you do for others, and this can bring you money, entertainment, and if you have the time and chance, also the kids.
A long weekend is coming! Next week I am taking some days off in order to finish my book project. It will also be very fine to wake up only at eight or nine in the morning.
Have a great weekend!
The photo of the day is a selfie I took yesterday! I drink more tea recently. Even when I go to work I try to nurture this new habit. My friend Lu has given me a wonderful Starbucks China Tea “Tumbler” (as Starbucks call it on their website). It is so much healthier to prepare your cup of green tea at home and take it to class instead of drinking all this bad coffee you are offered in many offices (sorry).