Getting naked

Last Sunday in yoga class, my teacher said that we needed to get naked. I know what you think now and it’s not that she wanted us to undress…not at the end of October in New England…

For me and us this much rather means to get rid of all the extra stuff we don’t need in our lives and pay attention to what’s good for us and only keep this! She gave the example of drinking a giant coffee with 4 bags of sugar in it routinely, maybe every day. We know that the sugar is not good for our body, but still stick to this craziness…but why? Are we really enoying this so much that it makes us feel good, that is makes sense to do it, although we have regrets already floating around in our heads?

It seems like we are numbing ourselves with routines that we seem stuck in. We are kind of aware what’s good or what would be better for us, but still choose to ignore it…because this is just the ‘easier’ way to go… someting else would mean CHANGE.

My yoga teacher suggested to just do things differently now and then, to just get out of this stuck place. Thinking of yoga, it would be just throwing in a different pose into our (daily) routine and change things up a bit to be more aware of what we are doing.

So after yoga class I went home and decided on the way back home that I would change up the sewing workshop that I had planned for the afternoon. Instead of sewing beanies, the participants would sew dresses although they had never sewn a single piece of clothing ever before 🙂

The ladies were very surprised about my idea and weren’t sure if they would be able to do that. But I had so much faith in them that they trusted me and in the following 5 hours they sewed dresses for their daughters. Seeing them full of pride holding up the dresses was such a gift to me. I just love to see people proud of themselves. This is probably one of the most rewarding feelings to watch for me 🙂

So since Sunday, I’ve been thinking about ‘getting naked’ a lot and tried to incorporate this idea as much into my life. And the funny thing is that the universe seems to send me reminders almost every day!

And it feels like practicing this idea has so many benefits.

Firstly doing things differently makes us conscious of things that we might not even know that we are stuck in. We are just so used to flying through our day on autopilot…

It came to my mind that my brother once suggested to do everything, you usually do with your right hand, with your left, just to notice what hand you are using and how you are using it for just totally normal things… like taking a shower and using shampoo.

On Wednesday I talked to a friend who is offering a decluttering course to people who want to get rid of things around their house and who want to learn methods how to get themselves more organized. She has witnessed how people transfer these methods into other parts of their lives and don’t just get rid of materialistic ‘things’, but also of blockages in their minds and routines that they seems to be stuck in…  I was impressed that this seemed to fit right into my thoughts of this week 🙂

Later that day I met a friend and she told me that she feels rather happy with her life right now, but also very stuck. She feels that there seems to be something missing. Working a normal 8am to 5pm day five days a week takes up so much time if you don’t feel like you really enjoy it. There are only these few hours in the evenings that you feel like you are too exhausted to really do anything else then eating dinner and watching a TV show before you go to bed. Then there are these two days of weekend that you really want to enjoy and ‘live’! These two days get so precious and they seems to be so special, that you really want to get out the most of them, but what’s about chores around the house? the yard? Other things that need to be done? They seem to be in the way…

So, how can these people who experience to be stuck in this place ‘get naked’? I feel like, of course, it would be best to make your job a happy place for you. Is it possible to do something that really nourishes your soul and you can identify with as ‘your job’? This is easily said, but it seems like this should to be the big goal for everybody…

But let’s go baby steps! What about doing something different every day?! It could just be eating something different for breakfast, driving a different way to work, greeting your colleagues a different way that day, having the goal to surprise one coworker with something special that day, instead of eating lunch in the cafeteria go outside and enjoy it outside while going on a walk, getting yourself a gift, driving home a different way, eating out at night, creating something, maybe sewing in the evening instead of watching TV…I could think of a million things 🙂 …

I think, if you get used to taking chances, to getting out of your comfort zone, and just do things differently, you will get addicted to this new lifestyle and all of a sudden you feel like you still have energy left for fun things, even after a long day at work…because it’s fun to experiment…

Co-creating your life and getting to a happy full-filled life does not just happen, it does need your energy. But the cool thing is that the more energy you put in, the more you will get out!  🙂

Somehow I came to listen to one of my favorite CDs this week, that I hadn’t listened to in years. It’s by the Bright Eyes, called ‘I’m wide awake, It’s morning’.

I feel like this is no coincidence either… Getting rid of stuck places, routines and being mindful about what I am doing makes me super conscious and this feels like I am wide awake all the time ! It’s an amazing feeling, full of energy and power.

I also got my intenSati workout DVD in the mail this week. I wrote about this in my last post. I tried it out a couple of mornings this week and again I was reminded of my week’s goal of doing things differently and getting rid of routines…the affirmation to say while doing one of the ‘poses’ is: ‘Everyday in a my very own way, I’m leaner, I’m leaner…Yes!’

‘Lean’ can mean a lot, but for me it totally means to get rid of stuff that is not good for us, routines that we are unconsciously stuck in and focus on the good things, that make us feel alive and focussed and happy!

Today is Sunday again and I am so grateful for the idea of ‘getting naked’ that my yoga teacher brought to my consciousness for this week! I see a great opportunity in this for everybody to feel alive and powerful and full of energy in this adventure that we call life!

So, who is in? Let’s get naked this coming week!! …just try it out and see if you enjoy it as much as I do! 🙂

Much love, aNNika

That’s how important it is to have a great start into the day!

I’ve been having a bit of a hard time since fall has fallen upon us and we had to close our pool…

Here is why I am soooo grateful to have a pool in our backyard:

For about a month or even longer, at the end of the summer I did my morning swims around 6am every morning. This wasn’t just fun or a workout or a routine or even something I had to drag myself out of bed to do!

These morning skinny dips were pure freedom! As soon as I would put my head under water, the world around me would disappear and left would be pure joy, happiness, laughter (inside my head) and the big feeling of being free!

These swims turned into my morning mediation. You know how you are aware of your breaths when you meditate. Is there a better way to be conscious about breathing than when you are in the water, mostly under the water?!

In my mind I could arrange and remember everything that would be going on this coming day…just to know what’s on the agenda and thinking of it as a happy day, helps the flow of my day in an enormous way 🙂

Time would slow down and I would just be me, and sometimes feel like ‘little Annika’, my inner-child would show and just purely, unconsciously and innocently enjoy the moment…especially on those rainy mornings! Or the super cold ones, where you could see your breath in the air at just a couple of degrees above freezing. After a couple of laps the pool would turn into a steaming whole in the middle of our yard, releasing all the warmth that was stored inside overnight 🙂

But most important for me was the feeling of being free and I tried to store this feeling inside my every cell for that day. And whenever there would be a moment of hustle or time pressure or craziness of any kind going on that day, I would go back in my mind to THAT feeling and my mind would slow down and get more aware of the things that had to be done to bring me and usually my boys back into ‘our middle’.

When I was a child I was adventurous. I climbed roof tops, bridges and playground structures with no fear at all. Friends would stand there and tell me that I was crazy… I rode me inline skates down crazy steep hills, not knowing what was going to welcome me at the bottom, behind the bend…if there was dirt in the road or a car coming around the curve. I think what I most liked about this was the air in my lungs going down quickly and just feeling free (and kind of unstoppable)!

I just had this trust in myself or in something bigger that I would be okay, nothing bad ever happened to me! I have never broken any bones, nor have I been at the hospital for more than a couple of hours of my life. And that only once to have my adenoids removed and to be born into this beautiful world (not to forget).

But this feeling of  adventure is trying to find its way back into my life. I don’t need to do any life threatening things anymore, but feeling free and having fresh air inside my lungs are things that are essential for my wellbeing, I feel like.

So, how do I manage to do this without my morning swims? I tell you how, but am totally open for more and better ideas, because I am not yet totally satisfied with my new routine…

What I found out is, that I have to get up at 5:45am in the morning to be able to have breakfast started and have my son’s lunchbox ready before I wake him up at 7am. Just sitting and meditating doesn’t work for me. I need to move to wake up my mind and body in the mornings, so I started doing some of my favorite yoga stretches.

This usually takes about 15-20 minutes followed by a nice warm shower. I love it when my body gets hot after a couple of sun salutations. It’s a bit like warming up swimming in the cold water. Doing the stretches without clothes makes it feel more free than when I am dressed, for sure 🙂

I have to say that this is not at all as joyful as jumping into the water, but it’s something that wakes me up.

This weekend, that I spent by myself as my husband took our boys out of town, I tried adding music to my routine which was very nice. I will definitely continue to do that. Another thing that I tried out yesterday morning before teaching my first sewing workshop ever, which was also my first teaching in 7 years…I did the tree pose in front of the bathroom mirror and pretty much told myself positive affirmations straight to my face, like “you got this”, “you know how to teach”, “it’s going to be wonderful”, “you will be happy”, “it’s going to be fun”, “it’s going to be joyful for everyone”,…

This first seemed a bit funny, but then it felt really good and empowering… I was totally motivated after this and started dancing to my music… Then I showered and danced a bit more in the shower and sang as loud as I could…things that are probably not really possible on a normal morning at 6am…but maybe I can include something like this into my daily morning routine… It for sure was a lot of fun! I’d call it free-dance-shower-singing…for special days…

Also, yesterday I ordered an Intensati dvd. Online it says the following about this special workout that was founded by Patricia Moreno in New York City:

A TRANSFORMATIONAL WORKOUT THAT WILL MOTIVATE YOU TO LIVE A LIFE YOU LOVE IN A BODY YOU LOVE NOW

Train your  body, mind and spirit with this powerfully invigorating practice. IntenSati combines empowering affirmations with interval training, martial arts, dance and yoga. You will leave class feeling stronger, uplifted and inspired.

Doesn’t this sound incredible? I’ll give it a try and will let you know what I think of it!

And maybe this will be part of my morning routine soon… A very nice side effect of my morning workout right now is that I feel like my body is getting stronger and more in shape from just these couple of stretches…I enjoy this a lot, but of course would like to add some more feeling of freedom to my routine…

I am curious what you do for a morning routine that can carry you through the day!

I am always thankful for new ideas…and as you see I am still on the path of finding my perfect match 🙂

Have a great Sunday evening and good start into the new week!

Much love, aNNika

 

 

Control or giving space

Letting go of control is my calling in this world. At least it strongly feels like it. It’s a topic that comes up again and again. It’s makes me sing and warm around me heart and it makes me want to cry. I just feel very passionate about it.

There are several situations a day that I ask myself if I am just doing something because I want to do it this way or because it has to be done this way…am I stuck in a pattern or am I deciding with my heart what’s good in this specific moment.

Example: My sweet little Niki is going crazy…yelling, hitting, screaming…because he wants chocolate milk to drink, although he has a glass of water and a zippy cup of apple juice standing in front of him and maybe even a yogurt drink, that he had all asked for…

What are my choices here as a parent/guide? In my head are many voices in these moments and really kids don’t give you a very long time to listen to the voices…for them everything seems urgent, even life threatening ;-)…and you need to act quickly…

One voice of course says, stick with whatever you told him…you can’t give in. At this time I probably have told him, no more drinks. So, that voice wants me to fight for my will.

And the voice goes on: I did have reasons to say this…of course we probably had the same craziness already about the two other drinks that came after the water…so, just stop already! If I give in now, he will be crazy with everything and I have no choice to just give in with other things too…he’ll never be satisfied…

The other thing is I really don’t like to be wasteful and I know that at least 2 and a half of these 4 drinks will go down the drain later…

BUT there is another voice! Let’s take a second here to not think about me and my reasons…what happens if we actually think about him? What are his reasons? Why is he acting this way ‘just’ because of a drink when he already has 3 drinks standing in front of him?

He feels controlled by me and doesn’t like it. For a 3-year-old he is a pretty independent child and likes his freedom. He doesn’t just react, he explodes…he is a very expressive child and he probably just changed his mind because he saw his brother going for a chocolate milk (as his first and only drink) and he just thought that this looks very tempting and good to him too and he changed his mind.

Let’s think about it. Do you never change your mind last minute? Do you never have cravings when you walk through a grocery store and buy things that just look delicious to you in that moment? Maybe you even open the bag of chips/crackers/cookies even before you get to the register… What if somebody wanted to stop you from doing so?

Are you never wasteful? What about that tea/coffee that you already reheated three time that day and still pour out at the end of the day because you never got to it?

At the end, our goal is to raise a child that grows into an independent person, who makes good choices in his/her life…

The only way to do this, is to let them be independent and make choices…we can’t decide for them all the time! They only learn by taking action and making them themselves…just like they have to practice so many other things to be able to perfect them…

So, this is what I have been experimenting with for a couple of weeks:

Niki gets a lot of freedom.

I am ok with him coming downstairs into the kitchen and wanting a piece of candy as his first ‘food’ of the day. He then proceeds to make himself crêpes on the hot skillet. These crêpes usually turn out to be about 30 tiny little drops of batter and a couple of bigger splashes that are connected with thin lines of batter…a real piece of artwork, but watch out! Don’t break these when putting them on his red, orange or light green plate! But he eats them with delight and feels good about it 🙂

He picks the cup that he wants his milk in and he puts the chocolate or strawberry powder in it by himself. The mess that lands next to the cup, I clean up, no problem!

A couple of weeks ago this looked very different. Because I forbid the candy, everything went downwards…whining, screaming and wanting to be carried while I tried to make breakfast for three and lunch and snack for Noah for school…he couldn’t decide on breakfast and made me run around like a headless chicken because I was slowly running out of time and getting really stressed.

This is just an example, but there are so many things that seem to flow better since I try to rarely say NO. We talk through things and I try to guide him, but at the end he decides what seems to be best for him. All of a sudden our 30min session of ‘picking his outfit’, only takes 5min and these even happen while I am still in the shower! He just goes to his room, picks the outfit and even puts it on! I couldn’t believe my eyes when he did this for the first time a couple of days ago! And he has been doing it since!

And because I don’t say NO a lot, he is usually totally fine when I actually do so. I also feel like I am getting better in being conscious about where my reasoning is coming from. Is it coming from my controlling mind or from love?!

Today we started sitting down at the breakfast table. On one side of the table Niki was looking at a magazine to circle in toys that he would like for his birthday. He couldn’t decide what he wanted to eat, so I let him do that first and hoped that he would decide after looking at the magazine. Noah wanted to see too, so he said next to him. Noah’s food was waiting for him at ‘his place’ on the opposite side of the table. I asked him to please sit and eat, but he was busy looking at the magazine with Nik.

I  went to the bathroom and pretty much gave them some ‘alone time’. When I came back I couldn’t believe my eyes! They had both pushed their chairs around the whole table to sit by Noah’s food and Noah was eating his breakfast. They were happily chatting about the toys. Niki was still circling in almost every single toy while Noah was eating. Also, Noah did not try to take over and grab the marker out of Nik’s hand, which probably would have happened a couple of weeks ago.

I then made Niki a slice of bread with Nutella without asking him what he wanted to eat and without a sound he just started eating as soon as I set it down next to the magazine in front of him. No fussing! Nothing.

I think he begins to understand that I give him a lot of freedom and when I don’t, it’s ok, because ‘his freedom and independence bucket’ is already full.

What’s really important for me, to be able to give my kids the space needed, I have to have my act together. I need to get up early to have time for myself to be ready to actively create uncontrolled space for them.  I don’t ‘work’ well together with my children when there is time pressure. Under pressure there is no room for patience and without patience there is not extra space for them to live out their individuality and need for independence.

I am very curious where this is going to go. I feel like we are still at at the beginning of this trial, a couple of weeks in, but so far I have been amazed how quick this has made a notable difference in our lives.

If you are interested, read this book: Unconditional Parenting, Moving from rewards and punishment to love and reason by Alfie Kohn.

This has really opened my eyes to another style of parenting and shown me that I can go so much further than I had imagined in letting them be free!

Have a nice weekend and snuggle your loved ones a bit tighter without limiting their need for freedom 🙂

Love, aNNika

Cultural parenting shock?

I’ve been thinking about ‘judging/judgement’ even more in the past week…

There was an incident at a fest one week ago, where apparently my older son hit a kid at the playground, while I was helping with the organization of the  festivities.

This kid’s father came to me and said: “I know that you are helping out here, but your son just hit my son and kicked some other kid.”

What I heard was: MY son was hurting people and I was a TERRIBLE MOTHER because I wasn’t watching him and didn’t stop him.

What I have been feeling: People are still looking at me in a weird way at the playground and other places. I have no idea who the other kid was that he kicked … I would like to at least know who to talk to to apologize or avoid, because they might still be judging me or could still be mad at my son or me. Why do people even tell me this when they could just told him to stop! If he had stopped and handled it all by himself after somebody had interjected, I wouldn’t have even needed to know!

What I have been asking me since: Why do I feel so judged? Why can I not brush this up as ‘this is what boys do at his age’ and nobody is actually hurt, people forget and will be fine and moving on.

Am I being too german? I feel like in Germany kids are brought up by ‘the village’! Nobody would stay quiet, if they see a child being hurt, no matter if it’s your own kid or a different one! Come on! Hurting is not acceptable! And kids need to learn this in an appropriate manner … and in the best case they need to be stopped in action! What a great moment to teach a kid! What an opportunity! You have the victim right there … can look into his/her eyes … can feel the tension/hurt feelings … or even actually see the ‘boo boo’ … teach kids feelings and empathy!

But here, meaning in this community of the US, where I live most people are not taking action. Parents are only focussed to scold/control their own kids (sometimes in the cruelest ways with time-outs and such) and otherwise they just look away! AWAY! Where is this going? Why are people so passive? Is common sense really forgotten or too difficult to handle?

I see this so often, that let’s say that 4 kids are throwing wood chips at each other and 4 adults jump to the rescue and every one catches their own child to stop it… Is it not enough when ONE adult goes there and stops them? And uses the situation as a learning opportunity?

The thing is, it’s not! Not any more! Because kids have experienced this craziness all their life long that only mommy or daddy can tell me what to do! They have seen them jump whenever they do something. They pretty much think that they don’t need to listen to others because they know that ‘MY parent’ will come to stop me when I am doing something wrong. (And then I sit out a time-out or say sorry … and do it again …)

I personally don’t get it!

If we all feel a bit more love and responsibility for ALL children and maybe even all human beings, we could change this world for the better!

All children are our future! We can’t just passively let things happen und look away. It’s time to act and show up!

I hope, I got clear about that I don’t want to say that any rude and hurtful behavior that my son is showing is okay in any way and that I don’t want to be responsible for his actions! I just want him and other kids to have the best opportunity to learn that it’s not okay to act that way and that can only happen in the moment of the incident. This all with the goal of the kids being able to communicate this to each other and solve problems on their own very soon 🙂

And on my part…what I got out of this whole story is that I need to show up, too!

In part I am doing this right now, right here for everybody to see and read. I feel like I can spread awareness this way and if it inspires just one parent out there who can act differently, I would be happy. People learn from examples and there will be a ripple effect at some point.

And I just realized in a therapy session this morning that I could have acted differently, too. I should have SHOWN UP when this father came to me to vent about my son’s behavior…

I felt ashamed, but next time I will tell him that in the future would he please talk to my son (or other child) and stop him/her hurting people, when this father happens to witness it.

If I don’t speak up and show up right there in the moment, I won’t change it…

So again! Let’s all do a better job teaching all children kind and friendly and safe behavior! And let’s stop judging parents for their kids’ behaviors! They are simply KIDS!

I am thankful for this father that he made me feel bad and gave me the opportunity to grow and realize so many things where I can act differently in the future and be my best self 🙂

As always please let me know if you agree or also if you disagree with my thoughts. I would love to hear from you and am open to never stop learning!

Love, aNNika

Pumpkin Soup

I just made a super delicious soup and thought that I could share this here, too. Baking and cooking are other creative outlets for me. I rarely use recipes when I am cooking.

So, you never know how it’s going to turn out 🙂

This is a really fun way to cook, but sometimes when something turned out super yummy, I wish that I would have written down what I actually put in there and how much. But oh well, it’s kind of a performance art with a very short ‘living’ result.

And the next time it could turn out even better…you knows…?

I went pumpkin picking with my boys at our local farm yesterday and besides their two pumpkins that we are going to carve closer to Halloween, we got a butternut squash and a small ‘dark green’ pumpkin to make soup from.

So  I made this vegan super yummy soup and these are the ingredients:

  • half a pumpkin
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 carrots
  • an apple
  • a can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • water
  • ginger powder
  • salt
  • curry powder
  • just a bit of mango juice

I blended about 3/4 of the puree, not all of it because I like some little chunks in there 🙂

Are you enjoying fall and pumpkins at much as I do? Let me know if you like to share …

Love, aNNika

 

My passion SEWING

I’ve always loved to create things… In art school we had to take all kinds of different classes…I hated drawing…was okay with painting, but really loved everything that was 3D. I remember a design course in that we had to design something and then actually build the object…I still see me laying at the beach in a bikini in 50 degrees Fahrenheit, my boyfriend taking pictures of me and the sand shade that I created. It was supposed to stand up when it got windy to shield me from the sand flying in my eyes while sun-tanning 🙂

Or the couple of days that we spent in a quarry to work with stone…learning how it breaks and how to work with it…and then driving back home with two friends for 4-5 with 3 giant rocks in the trunk which made the car drive quite slow 🙂

Then there was my giant styrofoam ball installation that I created in the attic of the art institute. It’s diameter about 5 feet. It was woven into the open wooden structure of the attic space and had an installation with colorful glass and lights inside. You were only able to peek inside through a half-an-inch slit that went around the whole big ball…

There is this kind of funny thing that happened to my when my biometrics were taken for my green card.  I was supposed to give them my finger prints and this nice guy was like…are you an artist?

“Yes, kind of…WHY?”

(In my head thinking: aren’t we all artists? Why can he tell from my hand?)

He said that groves in my finger prints are as ‘bad’ or ‘worked-up’ like the ones of e 70-year-old. “Well, thanks!” He said that he has only seen this before of people that work a lot with their hands and I guess I did not look like a construction worker to him 🙂

But then I told him that I used to paint with my hands…and acrylic paints on canvas did make my fingers quite sore sometimes…but I just preferred to use my hands or my whole body instead of paint brushes.

But now for an everyday…in the middle of something…creative process…or just the process of making something…I ended up really liking to sew kids’ clothing.

What do I like about it? There are a couple of reasons. First of all I like to feel and look and work with colorful fabrics. Looking at something colorful just puts me in a happy mood already 🙂

I like to make things for my children, surprise them, see them in the beautiful pieces that I made and that are probably one-of-a-kind, just like they are one-of-a-kind special humans…

I like to finish things and see what I have accomplished. As a stay-at-home mom there are all these chores that have to be done over and over again, like making breakfast… lunch … dinner …, doing laundry, vacuuming, scrubbing the floors, taking the kids places, picking them up, never ending and it feels like you are never done … there is no finished result to them. The floors will only be clean until the kids come back home and on and on …

But when I take the time to sew, I am at peace, can relax … I might listen to an audiobook … or to my son’s stories, or watch him/them doing their art next to me, but at the end I created something and the result is a piece of beautiful clothing that one of my kids or another child will proudly wear and that will put a smile on other peoples’ faces and that not just once 🙂

The love I put in it while sewing will reach others in ways I can only imagine and I like this thought. It fills my heart with love, warmth, happiness, pride …

And with the good feelings inside of me, I can conquer all the chores as well … I am a better person to my family and others … I can be more relaxed, patient and present. It’s all about the balance …

What do you do that fills your heart? Makes you happy on a regular basis? Helps you live a full-filled life? Let me know! I’m curious 🙂

Love, aNNika