The leap

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I am standing at the opening of a new chapter of my life. Excited, worried, nervous, ready to start. The title of the new chapter is “Studying Counseling and Psychotherapy”. I am excited about this new opportunity, ready to leap into something I believe to be my calling and that will bring me closer to become the person God has intended me to be. But I’m also incredibly worried, if I’ll get all the money for such an expensive course and self-doubt is creeping up on me from behind. I’m living in this tension between joy and the next moment I’m overcome by vulnerability and fear.

In a world, culture and society where our value is measured in our productivity, the house we live in, the car we drive, the holiday we take it is hard to live a life that is trying to follow your passions, a calling, a dream. It is something many people don’t understand, because it is against all rules. By choosing to pursue my dream, I am ( and I have been) risking a lot! I have no secure job or income and yet I just signed up for a new college course. I have my moments when I go to bed, switch off the light and wonder if I’m choosing the right thing. Sometimes even the smallest comments make me feel vulnerable and insecure. And then I realise that I am not as strong as I thought I was…….I found this quote form a photographer: “I think authenticity is being real and being genuine and is also a process of truing up. It’s finding yourself in alignment with your hearts’ desires, to your values… it’s listening to your voice. It requires courage.” 

Pursuing my dreams and my passions requires courage. Courage means ‘to put heart into something’. I will need to put my heart fully into following God’s direction. I am  trying to embrace this messy part of my life, I am trying to let the truth sink in, that I am on the right way. But yet I also need to sit in the tension of joy and vulnerability.

Scientists can be creative

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Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics = Science is very complex and hard to understand (well for me it is). So I was absolutely euphoric when I stumbled upon this: Dance your Ph.D.  A group of Ph.D students came together to explain via dance  the Selection of a DNA aptamer for homocysteine using SELEX. If you are like me, you won’t understand anything what that means. That’s why I love this attempt to explain complex research studies in a creative way which is very accessible!

And if you love this video as much as I do, you can watch the other videos from the competition here: http://gonzolabs.org/dance/2010-videos/

The art of breathing

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For some people practicing yoga and following Jesus contradict each other. There is a common fear that by doing yoga you open up yourself to (evil) spirits and therefore it is considered dangerous. For me it is the exact opposite and here are my reasons:

I have been starting practicing yoga to do something about my constant back pain and also to relax my mind. I soon felt the benefits of the workout on my body and mind, as I came totally relaxed and re-focused out of my weekly class. Yoga is very aware of the body-mind connection, something I believe we have forgotten over the centuries in our western culture. There is something so fundamental about the art of breathing in yoga that connects with our humanity. Yoga teaches self-kindness ( don’t push yourself to hard in the workout, except where you are right now, because you are on a journey), it teaches gratitude ( for your healthy body) and to be in harmony with yourself and others. What is not christian about that?

Breathing well is a central part of your every practice. It is something we do without noticing, something that is the very essence of life. Something that makes me think of God, who is the breath of all life and the one who breathes life into me. During my summer reading I stumbled across something really interesting; The word for God, Yahweh, YHWH, is unspeakable for Jews. Its correct pronunciation is an attempt to replicate and imitate the very sound of inhalation and exhalation. It is the sound of breathing. I think that is such a beautiful explanation of the nature of God. Bearing that in mind yoga can be an expression of prayer for me. It teaches me that I have limits, but the limit is not the end in itself and not to be too critical or hard on myself and to take better care of my body and soul.

Every yoga session ends with the namaste (you bring your hands in front of your heart, close your eyes and bow your head), a gesture which should remind us, that we all bear the Divine spark in us. But this pose is also a beautiful reminder of the equality of the students and the teacher showing love and respect to each other.

Love, community, respect, gratitude, harmony are all part of gospel living. So following Jesus and practicing yoga are not that different……

The art of being

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It has been a while since I last blogged. My excuse: I was on holidays. And despite all my great expiration to write over the summer, I did the exact opposite. But I re-learned something more important than how to refine my writing style – instead I discovered how to be. Instead of being productive, I was resting, sleeping, playing. I lived in the moment. It felt like my whole body and soul learned how to breathe again. And all the scattered puzzle tiles that make me who I am, got put back together. It was very freeing to embrace the moment and enjoy either the silence or the company of friends and family and not thinking of what needs to be done or the worries about college fees, work or the future in general. I was not pushing all these things aside, but I knew that I couldn’t solve them right here and now and that the fear and worry would steal away the joy of living right here and now. I am struggling for words to describe what happened on a very deep soul level, I think I learned to practice self-kindness instead of being self-critical all the time. Or in the words of Teresa of Avila: “You find God in yourself and yourself in God.”


The book nerd in me

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“Read something”, was my mother’s advice when I came to her as a little girl complaining that I was bored. One day I took her advice seriously and started to read. She soon regretted saying that, when I was trying to fit 5 books into my suitcase for 2 week-long holiday. Needless to say that I read all of the 5 books before the holiday was over. Since then I was a ‘book eater’/ ‘nerd’ /book worm’. So I felt like a little girl who gets her first Barbie for Christmas when I held my Kindle in my own hands. I don’t want to over dramatize its impact on my life, but it indeed changed my life. I can now easily take more than 5 books with me and whenever I need/want a new book, I have it in less than 5 minutes. Incredible!

But I’m not only a fan of the written kind of literature, no I also have an audible account. Heaven. I can now listen to books while driving, being on a plane or bus, in the shower, packing – endless possibilities.

As I’m packing for my holidays I downloaded Game of Thrones on audible (16 hours for Part 1!), The Lantern (excited about this novel) and The Gift of Imperfection (because I need to challenge my heart and my head). My hammock awaits me!

Processing

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If you have been working with teenagers who are broken for the last two weeks straight and also feel and see your own broken parts and the areas in your own life that need healing, you would need to process all that.

This is my attempt to process:

 

To everyone out there

who cries themselves to sleep

and put on a brave face the next morning.

To all who say ‘Amen’,

but wonder daily about this distant old guy on a cloud

listening to harp music all day long,

so that he can’t hear the prayers of the one’s in need.

To all who have experienced the cruelty of reality

and to whom giving up seems like the next rational step.

To all who think that living your dream is only for dreamers,

but not for people like you and me.

To all who cried out as a child “mummy I’m cold”,

but instead of a warm cuddle your parents put on the heating.

To all who think that living is purely about survival:

Let us be courageous and face our Giants,

because once upon a time we heard about a Promised Land,

where people like us can be free

and where life is celebrated and wounds will heal.

Let us come together and believe in a future,

where our past has no power over us

and no longer defines or stigmatizes us.

Let’s dare to live

let’s dare to hope

let’s dare to step forward.

Frustrations and Pain

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One morning when I was 18 years old I was trying to pick up my socks from the floor in our bathroom and as I was trying to get back up again, I realized that my back was stuck. I couldn’t move anymore. I felt an excruciating pain in my lower back. So I crawled from the bathroom to the phone in my parent’s bedroom, called my mum, who called my dad who called me, and told me that he will leave work as soon as possible and pick me up to go and see a doctor. I was 18 and I was in school at that time. But it also happened to be the day of one of my important exams. Well, that was not going to happen……

Since that day I always had to be very careful with my lower back. But sometimes it just throws a tantrum and reminds me that my sciatic nerve is quite mean and cruel at times.

I am not good in dealing with pain. It makes me feel frustrated and I don’t want to feel weak. But you know that your body has reached its limit when an 1 hour 15 min car ride and a 5 minute walk wears your back out and your thighs and hamstrings are in muscle spasm.

But I don’t want to be needy. I don’t want to start crying because of my stupid back. I definitely don’t want to ask for help. So instead I am frustrated which makes me feel very discouraged. Dangerous cycle. How to break it, no idea. At the moment I’m just wrestling through.