Back on the wagon

Why is it that when we need time to recuperate and be a little less productive for a while, some of us beat ourselves up for not reaching our “usual” standards? And why is it that “usual” standards are often the level we manage when we are at our peak? Shouldn’t it be some kind of middle ground instead?

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Sometimes we need to do nothing. To know that yes, in a few days we’ll have to do well at something or other, but that’s way over there in the future. For now, we can rest.

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Bujoing has helped me see the things I actually do instead of the things I don’t do. Maybe it can do this for others as well. Instead of constantly focusing on the future and what we haven’t done, we can go back over the pages and see the things we dreaded last week, the giant hurdle we braved last month, and feel satisfied that we pushed through.

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And while on the subject of bullet journalling, why beat yourself up over the gaping holes in your habit tracker? So you needed a few days off. Who doesn’t? Be sensible: you’re not going to clean the house every day for the rest of your life, no matter how much you believe it while you’re drawing up your habit tracker.

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By all means reach for the stars and reach the treetops, but don’t reach so hard that you dislocate your shoulder. It’s fine to fall off the wagon. The wagon will be there when you want back on, and guess what? You have the perfect getting-back-on list in your habit tracker. A few tasks in and you’ll feel like you were never off track!

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Be kind to yourself. You never know when you’ll pay it back. 😉

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Out of the tunnel

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Last year at this time I was sick with untreated hypothyroidism, my father in law was dying, I was preparing for my nerve-wracking defense, I had severe back-ache and knew I’d probably have to (reluctantly!) change jobs.

Not a good time. I felt like a ghost in my own life.

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And yet I made this video (with a cold!) to explain the phenomenon of Swedish Lucia that always falls on December 13. (And which will have to suffice this year too because I’ve been too busy to make a new one.)

My year since then has been… interesting. January was a complete disaster in every respect, and each month that followed it brought a fresh new twist (of the knife). My back got better, then worse, then better, then worse, etc etc ad nauseam. I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism and got medication. Other stuff happened. I got my good job back again. It was fun and hard and a little bit frightening.

And in the end, it seems I’m destined to survive 2017. Maybe in hindsight, it’ll be the best thing that ever happened. Because now I’m here, soon a one-year-old in academic terms, and I’m not the same person I was then. I’ve even made peace with a certain TV series that broke my heart the very first day of January and then proceeded to royally fuck with my head for longer than I care to admit.

And as we enter the darkest week of the year, I see more light than ever before.

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Oh my God, finally! We’ve only had clouds, clouds, and more clouds for longer than I care to count. And okay, yes, we need clouds if we want snow, but come on. The sun is only up for four and a half hours this time of year, so a sun that’s actually visible is very much appreciated.

And today it was. I headed out before lunch to catch some rays before they disappeared behind the mountains. I chased the sun up snowy forest hillsides and got all wet and cold and snowy, but lord was it worth it. Everything was so beautiful.

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Frozen droplets in the trees.

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Yellow rays on the bluish snow.

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Mist over the snowy lake.

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Fluffy clusters of ice crystals in the trees.

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Clouds turning pink as the sun disappeared behind the tree tops at one o’clock.

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And on the subject of ‘the things we do for a photo’…

But it was a wonderful day that really wiped my soul clean of all the weariness I was carrying around. Now I’m tired in a more physical way, which is better. Time for some mulled wine and Christmas decorating!

What a difference half a day makes

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Normally when I travel to work instead of working from home, I’m away for a total of twelve and a half hours. And normally I try to actually work all that time on the bus and the train, so as not to waste it. Needless to say, I’m exhausted when I come home, and there’s nothing of the day left. All I have time and energy for is dinner, an episode of a TV series, and bed.

Today, inspired by the new insights my bullet journal is giving me, I decided to change it up. I mean, is it worth it to run myself into the ground just to be able to shave off a few hours on Friday? No. So today I worked an ordinary eight hour day instead, and the results were amazing.

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I had so much time! I could photograph, and edit, and write, and all sorts of creative stuff that really is my lifeblood. And as if to cheer me on, the sun came out the moment I came home, and it stayed out while I strayed through the woods and snapped my photos. It felt like I was out there for an eternity, and yet only two and a half hours have passed!

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No matter how tired I am, the forest always manages to rejuvenate me.

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I can never get enough of these seeds!

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I’ll be honest: once I got home again and started loading all my photos into the computer, I did feel a teensy bit tired again. I mean, I did wake up at 4.30 this morning. It’s just that I forget about being tired while I’m out there in the forest, crouching in the moss to capture those backlit leaves.

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But being tired is fine, because you know what? Tomorrow I’m changing it up again and taking the 8.40 bus instead of the 5.35 one and staying later at work.

Variatio delectat!

Preparing for Christmas

One of my favourite desserts at Christmas is lingonberry preserve with whipped cream, and it’s the easiest thing to do. You just need a day in the woods and a mason jar. That’s it!

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We’re not the only ones who love lingonberries. Apparently a bear beat us to one patch..

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Everything is aflame now: the last burst of colour before it all dies. Nature does not go gentle into that winter night, and the dew weeps for the departing souls.

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After a few hours, this was our harvest, and it’s enough for a whole week of yummy jam and one mason jar of lingonberry preserve.

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Agent down

When I got the news, it was like a sliced fingertip. First there was nothing, no sensation at all. Then that hot, tingly feeling that’s the harbinger of pain – the deep breath before you realize you’ve cut yourself, deep. And then… pain and blood, hitting with full force.

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We used to call you “our man in Berlin”. I don’t think you ever knew that. In hindsight, it’s almost too apt. You were undercover, off somewhere doing the impossible, and we watched from afar. Your absence was literal, but also figurative. You had your own Scorpio world, populated by phantoms and screams. We never really knew you. Maybe no one did.

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Our few moments of real connection – Nick Drake, Recoil, And One, always there was a soundtrack to these moments – were unexpected bursts of sun in a gloomy cloudscape where our efforts at communication were, in your own words, exercises in estrangement.

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And yet, even though we never really connected, it feels like a part of me is gone. How’s that for banal? But you once said it’s the banal stuff that counts, so I’m allowing myself a piece of clichéd emotion in your honour.

At one time, I even wanted to be you. I wanted that darkness, that mystery to be mine. Wanted my ordinariness to be excised. I was attracted, like you’re attracted to a sheer cliff. Like you toy with the idea of stepping into that nothingness beyond.

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But your cliff was something else entirely. It was real in a way mine never was, and now you’ve taken that step. This new absence of yours is total, concrete, unquestionable. And I want to tell you. I want to call you and say, “You’ll never believe what happened – you died!” We’d laugh about it – about the obviousness, the improbableness of it all. About how I wrote it in a song fifteen years ago. About ravens and Poe and fate.

But I can’t tell you, and so it’s like you’ll never know. That you’re not here. We’re all here, everyone who knew you, and you’re not-here. As if you’ve taken the concept of leaving a party early to go home and listen to Kindertotenlieder to a whole new level.

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And that’s how I choose to see it. That you left. That death took you with your consent. That you completed your mission and dropped your gun in the Havel.

 

As for us, we no longer have a man in Berlin.

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