Let There Be Rain

If we only ever wanted sunshine, we’d never get rainbows.

Rain brings the Earth to life. It is essential to our existence. And yet we resist rain  — we complain about it as if it really weren’t necessary. It messes with our plans. We resent it.

And so it is with most things in life. Rain comes pouring down on us in the form of conflict, disconnect and misunderstandings. We lose our jobs, our partners, our sense of self. We step out into the downpour without an umbrella, completely naked and soaking wet.

We oftentimes forget how important these times are for our own growth. We kick. We scream. We wish all the discomfort away.

All the while we are deaf to the sounds of our own depth, growing deeper.

If we are attuned to the broader vision of our lives, we may see the storm around us as a momentary event that will bring us further into ourselves. The raging winds, the pelting rain beating against the pane and the swirl of seemingly never-ending wetness all serve a greater purpose toward self-discovery and a more meaningful connection to the world. Rain is transformative. It shapes us into who we are.

Water brings more richness to our lives — even in the form of tears. We can choose to see such moments as a gift – or as a curse.

Let there be rain, my friends. Only then, in concert with the sun, is it possible for rainbows to appear.

 

The Kitchen Goddess

Change has been on my mind lately. It may have something to do with the book I am currently reading by Chip and Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.

In my mind, change is always hard. It’s uncomfortable and messy and rather inconvenient. It requires relinquishing control and becoming accepting and patient and…you see where I am going with this?

For years I thought we had a limited capacity to learn certain things, such as cooking or economics. That we have propensities that lean toward the arts (me) or the sciences (um, lots of other people who are not me). But I have since learned that we are capable of anything, if we try.

As a young adult, I had not yet experienced the delight of food, for instance. I remember even saying once that eating was a waste of time and I’d be just as happy taking a food capsule over sitting at the table for a full-blown meal.

Such a typical, pre-Slow idea – why waste time eating when you could be doing something — anything — else.

Only we have to eat to live.

That truth whizzed right over my head, like a buzz cut.

Looking back on my 21-year-old self, I am shocked that I ever thought that way. One of my favorite pastimes now is to sit for hours and eat! I entered a new culture of fun food fantasy, but it wasn’t until very recently that I discovered my own ability to cook, bake and whip up a delicious meal whenever my fancy strikes.

A lot of our resistance to change, according to Switch, has to do with our self-understanding. We have an image of how and who we are and, if we have a fixed mindset that states we can’t really change much about ourselves, we get stuck. When we entertain a growth mindset, we open the floodgates of possibility.

Bake a batch of cinnamon rolls? Who, me?

Yeah, me.

This morning. Just because.

cinnamon rolls

Tapping into our inner divinity is a nifty thing — it unleashes us from the confines of our limiting beliefs. Once a culinary philistine, I am now a kitchen goddess.

It feels good to move beyond who we think we are to the person we are meant to be.

Change might be hard, but think of the alternative. Getting a few stretch marks for a better life seems like a very good trade to me.

Mountains and Molehills

The crushing weight of anxiety placed firmly on our chests, we face new challenges — or avoid them at all costs — with a pending sense of impossibility. We know we have done something similar before this moment, and yet we cannot help but feel we are trudging up another mountain. And somehow we think that this time we won’t be able to master it.

Before every talk I give, every article I write, every call I make, I see that mountain off in the distance. The vice of fear curls its fingers around my head and I wonder if I may have lost my touch in the seconds it took between agreeing to the assignment and actually doing it.

Then, despite the mild paralysis, I step over it and onto the stage, tackle the keyboard and pick up the receiver to do it anyway.

I am not alone in this feeling. My expertly skilled friend feels the same. Before every job, he gets the tingle of performance anxiety. And yet he is a master of his craft. A true artist that moves me – heart and soul.

And so it is – we see molehills and think they are mountains. Before we know it, we are in the midst of that very thing we feared. Only we have forgotten to feel bad because we feel so good doing what we do best.

Stevie Nicks, the lead singer of Fleetwood Mac, once said. “If you have stage fright, it never goes away. But then I wonder: is the key to that magical performance because of the fear?”

I think so. A little bit of fear mixed in with the passion that pushes us through it to the other side is what keeps us moving forward. And makes us so excellent.

Expand that comfort zone. Never give up. Stretch beyond what you think is possible.

Because anything is possible.

Anything.

Friday – In Pictures

A picture speaks a thousand words. And because my super-duper webmaster finally fixed the bug that made my blog sick (and pictureless), I am honoring his efforts by posting a few of my favorite snapshots today.

Enjoy the view!

I gave my best friend this mug before I set off for a new life in Freiburg, Germany. I had no idea what awaited me…

(c) 2014 Tanja Bruch Photography

(c) 2014 Tanja Bruch Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing I hoped for was a lot of sunshine.

freiburg sky april 11, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got it.

And sometimes, with change, comes upset. Like spilled milk. But look at how pretty it can be!

Freiburg spilled milk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freiburg is special. I knew I was on to something.

Freiburg tree 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Even the trees smile here,” my visiting sister said.

I had to agree.

Freiburg Erdmännchen_2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s even a local petting zoo within walking distance.

For free.

Freiburg - road less travelled

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes taking the road less travelled is scary.

Foto-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can get into deep water.

But truth be told, it has been so very worth it.

Cuz what you get in the end is the sense of being free. Which means FREI in German.

Kinda like FREIburg. Yeah. Life is funny like that!

herman

Dancing Outside of Time

Have you ever wondered why you can pick up where you left off in a conversation with really good friends, even if distance and time separate you?

Have you ever considered why time seems to fly when you spend time with someone you truly love?

Researchers will tell you it is because your time perception is skewed by desire, expectation for reward and motivation to achieve a goal.

But I have another theory.

We live in two systems: the first arranges our lives around the clock: 8 am breakfast meeting; 10 am Skype call; noon lunch meeting and don’t-forget-to-pick-the-kids-up-after-soccer-practice this afternoon. It is a structured existence in which we operate much like machines. 

Only we aren’t machines. We are living, breathing human beings with feelings.

The second system relates to our emotional world. Because love is the strongest emotion, it suspends time altogether, making the clock, and everything bound to it, absolutely irrelevant. We literally dance outside of time when we spend it with people who give us positive emotions.

Time is a construct, an organizing principle that alleviates commercial trade. It isn’t real. And yet we live as if it were. When love enters the picture, its power overrides our sense of time crunch, hurriedness and desperate lunge to the finish line. All of it fades into the background when we experience the wonders of love.

It explains why I can talk to my best friend for two hours straight while it feels like twenty minutes. Or why a week spent with my love feels like an hour. Or why a chat with my mom whizzes by at the speed of light.

The ties that bind us feed our souls.

The only solution I’ve found to clock combat is to love time itself. Even though it is something we’ve made up — like an imaginary friend — it feels real to us. If we embrace time as a friend, it will give back to us just as our real friends do.

And then we can all dance in and out of time – together.