What to think about before you post.

It’s Thursday already!? If it wasn’t for both my calendar and laptop telling me this I’d be in denial.   Either way, after failing to publish my already drafted WIAW post yesterday thanks to no internet connection – me and technology don’t get along well so don’t ask what all I tried to fix it … – I’m following Amanda‘s invitation to think out loud once more. Let’s see where typing a post in a spur of the moment decision leads …

Thinking-Out-Loud

What inspired this post is a multitude of experiences and thoughts so bear with me as I’m trying to work out a clear line. This will very much follow Amanda’s no-script suggestion of Thinking out loud so there we go …

You set a new PR at the gym.

You’re working in an amazing high-paying job.

So you quit sugar, refined flour and all of these other nasty, nasty ingredients.

In short: you have accomplished something in life and are proud. Rightly so. In a world where self-doubt is a prominent characteristic enhanced by many magazines and websites telling us how to improve our [perceived] flaws and always be prettier/happier/[insert adjective of choice] it’s great to see people proud of theirselves and feeling comfortable in their skin. But …

Don’t let your confidence diminish that of others. I will not tell you to hide your pride altogether because like I said: it’s great you’re feeling good about yourself! Yet I think some people are taking their pride and talking about it too far.

favourite magazines

Taking pictures of your ab progress because you worked hard and you’re proud of getting where you are? is Understandable. You couldn’t be more excited to tell everybody on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere how much better you feel since changing your diet to vegan/paleo/sugar-free? Understandable.

I’m still standing in for my opinion on Instagram: it’s your choice what to post and talk about. But for the sake of others it might be a good idea to occasionally consider if your pride has the potential of hurting others. Seeing too many ab shots or hearing people about their weight loss success while you’re in recovery from an eating disorder [or while ‘just’ recovering from an injury that keeps you from training], trying to gain could be discouraging and lead to unsatisfying comparison. But why are you following these people in anyway, then? <- I personally choose not to follow those people but from what I’ve seen and heard others in recovery say it affected them.

The same goes for people who show pictures of their pedometers/fit bits/Polar watches. If you do it: ask yourself why. What might this make your Facebook ‘friends’ or followers on Instagram feel like? Does the text you wrote aboutyour epiphany since you gave up sugar sound judgemental towards those who like their sweet treats? Is your progress picture potentially triggering?

The takeaway here? Don’t be less proud of what you’ve accomplished. But before you go about sharing your pride all over the place keep in mind how it might affect others. Everybody is on their own journey but it’s hard not to get distracted or discouraged when comparison is lurking all over the place.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Successfully work on a presentation [about Immigration in the US] with the exchange student I’m teaching – both of us were learning from each other which is the best kind in my opinion.

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No specific questions today but I’m curious to hear your thoughts and experiences on the issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

110 Things That Make Me Happy

Hi there, Monday! Once again, you came faster than expected.

As bloggers we open our lives up to an indefinably large audience. We share what’s going on in our world. Food. Fun. Maybe fitness. The good and the bad. I’m not a Negative Nancy so while authenticity is a key priority for me on- and offline, I don’t always tell everything – and I fell most bloggers will follow the same approach. Life isn’t unicorns and rainbows 24/7 and the past weeks have been more rain than rainbows for me. There, I said it. However, like I said, negativity isn’t my style so I’m trying to keep my head up. Coincidentially, Kathy inspired me to do some thinking about all the good things in life. It’s the little things that make us happy after all. Without further ado, here are 100 things that make me happy and bring joy to my life. Because photography is one of those things, I added some pictures bringing my list to the marvelous number of 110 things [and counting because once you start looking there are countless things making you happy in life].

  1. Being with people I love.
  2. The sound in my ears when riding my bike.
  3. My bed. The comfiest place on earth.
  4. Riding my bike.
  5. Especially riding my bike in the sunset.
  6. Flowers of any kind – as evidenced by the bazillion of pictures of them on my blog. You’ve got to share the love, right?!
  7. Walks through the woods. Just taking in nature, forgetting about the time and everything else.
  8. Seeing people smile. Especially people I love. I’m happy when others around me are happy. Smiles are indeed contagious.
  9. Silence and rest after loud and long days or nights.
  10. Stopping to smell the flowers. Literally.
  11. Writing letters
  12. Receiving letters.
  13. The sun.
  14. Curling up in bed pulling the blankets up until under my nose.
  15. PJ pants_striped_bed
  16. Reminiscing in childhood memories.
  17. Taking showers.
  18. The scent of my shampoo.
  19. Those rare days when the scent of said shampoo actually sticks in my hair for longer than a few minutes. Just me?
  20. Hand-knitted wool socks by my grandma. ‘tis the season.
  21. Freshly washed sheets.
  22. Fresh fruit. All the fruit.
  23. Ice cream.
  24. Nut butter. I don’t discriminate here.
  25. All the kabocha. At best home-grown from my mum’s garden.
  26. Sleeping in on the weekends.
  27. Talking with friends for so long we forget all about the time. And food.
  28. Buying new writing utensils.
  29. That’s an obvious one: Blogging.
  30. Family walks – on the beach or elsewhere.
  31. Reading thought-provoking articles.
  32. Sunday walk_October
  33. Taking pictures.
  34. Long dresses. Short dresses. All kinds of dresses, really.
  35. Getting dressed up for special occasions.
  36. Watching one of my favourite movies. Like How to steal a million. Mad Hot Ballroom.
  37. When I’m sad and others find just the right words to cheer me up.
  38. Painting my nails. Even if  picking a colour can be tough.
  39. The sound of leaves crushing beyond my feet on walks in autumn.
  40. Things children say in awe of things they don’t yet understand. Yes, it sure is possible to raise a foal in a three-bedroom city apartment. You just have to believe it.
  41. Saying that, I think I should re-read some of my old favourites.
  42. Tongue twisters.
  43. Running. It clears my mind, lets me breathe and fuels my creativity. I can’t wait to lace up my shoes and get back into it again one day. Hopefully soon.
  44. Colouring books. Because you’re never too old for them and it’s important to keep the inner child alive. Adult life can be rough.
  45. Winter sun
  46. Being silly with friends because we should keep our inner child alive forever.
  47. Insider jokes. Oh that one created on our class trip to the Netherlands …
  48. Gilmore Girls.Rory and Lorelai have saved many a boring night for me.
  49. Working out. Those endorphines produced while exercise are amazing.
  50. My favourite magazines.
  51. Listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks. To all Germans: Rufus Beck is brilliant.
  52. Laughing.
  53. While I’m neither a huge cake nor cookie person eating the dough is my favourite part.
  54. Scented candles. I just started lighting one on my table in the morning again. It didn’t feel right in summer but now that it’s getting colder again …
  55. Driving, turning the music up loud and jamming along. There’s a reason I prefer driving alone.
  56. Breaking out into spontaneous kitchen dance parties.
  57. Candles_December
  58. Random conversations with strangers.
  59. Libraries. Going into them with no idea on what to get and browsing endlessly.
  60. Reading. Duh.
  61. Writing lists. Like this one.
  62. Checking things off of my to-do list.
  63. Receiving a new issue of the magazine I subscribe to.
  64. Watching the clouds and looking for cloud animals. Did anybody else do that as a child?
  65. Watching the sunrise.
  66. Watching the sunset. Is it apparent I like the sun just a smidgen?
  67. Surprising other people.
  68. Asking my grandparents about their lives and listening to their stories. If yours are still alive and you haven’t asked them about ‘earlier’ yet: do it.
  69. Exploring cities or new places by simply walking around with no set goal.
  70. houses_Berlin
  71. Finding/buying/collecting beautiful dishes. I have way too many a lot.
  72. Early mornings. On those occasions I wake up early enough to enjoy them …
  73. Watching the stars.
  74. Beach walks with the whole family including my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.
  75. Wearing boots that make me a little taller. Any other short people that can relate?
  76. Unplugging. Some of the best memories are made when there’s no technology around to capture them.
  77. Eating nut butter straight from the jar. The joy of not having to share.
  78. Getting compliments. Not just for appearance but things I wrote or created, too.
  79. Making new friends.
  80. Hearing birds sing.
  81. When somebody unexpectedly calls, texts or mails to simply ask how I’m doing. That’s something to pay forward.
  82.  Finding things I thought I’d lost again.
  83. Baking cookies. Or cakes. Or anything, really.
  84. What's not to love about freshly baked cookies? Tasting the dough might be my favourite part of baking, though.
  85. Figuring out how to do things I had yet to understand.
  86. Rainbows.
  87. Trying something for the first time and immediately getting the hang of it.
  88. Playing board games. Unfortunately not one of my family’s favourite activies so we hardly do it anymore these days. That has to change!
  89. My mum’s laugh. Trust me, it’s the most contagious [and one of the loudest] ever.
  90. Creating new recipes.
  91. Candied peanuts_2
  92. Going to the movies.
  93. When my apartment looks neat and organized. Why does a thorough clean-up never last long??
  94. Crafting. It’s something I really enjoyed as a child but – thanks to many arts teacher telling me I had no talent – lost over the years. With Christmas in mind I started searching Pinterest for ideas and can’t wait to get started.
  95. Speaking English. I’m currently teaching German to an American exchange student and while I’m getting paid the best part is being able to practice my English, too. I’ve always loved learning languages.
  96. When the kids I’m tutoring are successful in school.
  97. Having a sudden flash of inspiration.
  98. Hot showers. Even more now that it’s getting colder outside they’re a real treat.
  99. No matter what’s going on in my life I will always appreciate a hug.
  100. There’s nothing like changing into your pajamas, watching some movie or reading a good book.
  101. Singing [when nobody’s listening].
  102. Listening to my favourite songs on repeat.
  103. Kitten. I guess we can agree baby animals are cute – but so are grown up ones.
  104. Scarves.
  105. Traveling and seeing new places.
  106. Doing puzzzles – even if they take me forever to finish.
  107. Learning something new.
  108. Living in the moment and not worrying about the future. I’m still practicing …
  109. Every comment on here. Yes, I know I’m repeating myself but the blogging community – you. Thank you for stopping by, commenting and making blogging all the better.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Taking a walk outside before the rain set in. Thoughts flowing, feet moving – it was wonderful

 

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Tell me some of the things that make you happy!

Does a snowflake’s weight actually matter?

Change. You either embrace or despise it. I’ll make a guess and say most of us are in the second camp. The change I don’t like about today? Cold weather. It looks like – after different people announcing every day of this week so far ‘the last day of real summer’  – autumn really decided to settle in slowly now. Overall, it’s safe to say we don’t like change we have no say in. The weather s one of those cases in point. However, today I want to think out loud about change we can influence even though we might doubt it at first.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Think for a moment: when was the last time you used some form of the popular phrase ‘they say …’, alternatively ‘society says’ or simply expressed dismay about something common in society nowaways? The obsession with diets stemming from society’s screwed idea of the perfect body. The fact GMOs are becoming more common in the food industry. I could go on here …

How all of this relates to the title and all of us being snowflakes? That one is due to a wonderful story a former RE teacher of mine shared with my class years ago [and you might have heard this or another version of the story before, too]. Possibly the best RE teacher in the world, by the way and not just because of telling us this story but today isn’t teacher appreciation day so I won’t go on gushing here 😉 .

Flowers

Here it goes: A pigeon is sitting on the strongest branch of a tree on a cold snowy day watching the snowflakes fall down on the earth one by one. Soon, another pigeon ‘gesellt sich dazu’. After looking at the snowflakes’ fall for a while, too, the first pigeon asks: “Say, what does a snowflake weigh?” The second pigeon scoffingly looks at a single snowflake falling on the branch they’re sitting on and answers: “Oh, no more than nothing.” The pigeons rest in silence watching the snowfall becoming stronger and stronger. After a while the first pigeon flies away. By now, the huge strong tree branch is covered in a thick layer of snow. Then, the pigeon watches a single little snowflake fall down on the branch – and it breaks.

Source

We are part of this [screwed up at times, maybe] society we’re talking about – and we have the power to change it.

Granted, we as individuals might not be able to create worldwide change. But just because we aren’t the president, the powerful CEO of a big company or another huge influencer in today’s society doesn’t mean we couldn’t make difference. Once more, it’s about the little things.

Stop buying products by a company using GMOs.

Use the car less often. Eat less meat or even go vegetarian – though you know there’s no diet peer pressure.

Raise awareness about mental illnesses/eating disorders.

Talk to that ‘outsider’ in class – not to make yourself feel better but possibly brighten somebody else’s day.

Snowflake effect – it does exist. [yes, I’m aware of the term butterfly effect but let me stay with my seasonally non-suitable snowflake example, yes?!]. We might not have enormous power on our own – but one snowflake never touches the ground alone, either. So what do you think: Does a snowflake’s weight matter?

 

Happiness-inducing today: Harvesting some of the first raspberries of the year in our garden.

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What my grandparents taught me

What is it with me and those random anniversaries and holidays lately? First those  snippets on Sunday  [I still don’t know where they came from]. And then the other day I came across a list of holidays I’d never heard of. Then again it’s not too surprising I wouldn’t know about national holidays in the US. Either way,  there are some that should be celebrated worldwide. Or did you know that September 7th was National Grandparents Day?

They say that boys were looking for a girl who’s like their mum – and girls for a boy who’s like their dad.  While I wouldn’t mind the latter,  either, I hope to find a guy who’s like my grandpa when I grow up [because I clearly am not yet …]. My grandpa is not only a talented craftsman like nobody else I know [he’s well known for those abilities and gets a lot of requests], active .. . Plus he’s the world’s best hug giver and that obviously matters.

And my grandma? Like my mum she’s one if the best listeners and sweetest persons I’m blessed to have in my life. Always there to listen to me, calm me down, teach me how to bake the best cookies ever, … But wait, I meant to talk about something else:

During all the time I’ve spent with my grandparents so far they’ve [uninentionally] taught me a lot about life. So let’s take a moment to thank – and think out loud about – grandparents for the wisdom they offer us.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Life would be boring if all of us looked alike and had the same talents.

This is actually something my grandpa told my sister when she was unhappy about something she’d failed at. And it’s so true: we weren’t all born to be either math geniuses or models. All of us bring their very unique personalities and talents into this world  so in cooperation we can change things and create the world we want to live in. We can learn from and help each other and it’s what ties us together and what makes friendships that much more important.

When you have a dream you don’t let anything stop you.

Though neither of them speaks a language aside from German or Polish my grandma and grandpa are avid travelers.  They’ve spent countless Easter holidays skiing in France, used to drive all the way to Spain for a month every year [my grandpa’s a passionate surfer] and even hopped on a plane to the US. They have trust in things working out in their favour. And these times when it doesn’t …

When life hits you hard, you stumble, fall and take up walking again.

Years ago my grandfather had a heart attack that hit him out of nowhere. All of a sudden he, who’d always been active, out and about and unstoppable had to slow down. Got breathless more easily. It really hurt him mentally, too, and we were worried he’d grieve forever knowing he’d never be able to get his old life back. Fast forward to today: grandpa’s [almost] his old self again. He might have had to give up very strenuous activities like surfing but he found new ones to pursue. We have the ability to turn bad situations around if we choose so.

It’s about the people.

This goes along the lines with be thankful. Like many people from the older generation my grandparents worked hard to raise their children and offer them a good life – yet never complained. Being with family is still what matters most to them to this day. Another part of this is finding happiness in non-materialist ways. The generation of our grandparents usually experienced poverty and didn’t pile up goods. They learned to get by with little and find joy in the little things.

You don’t have to like everybody but accept them the way they are.

The best way they taught me this was in their relationship with their neighours. A slightly … eccentric family. Endless chatterbugs, annoying like no others and obtrusive at times. Yet my grandparents don’t show any annoyance or ignore that family. They taught me that I should respect others – unless they didn’t respect me, either.

Forgive – others and yourself.

Grandparents are some of the least resentful people in our lives. The times we forget to call them back. The times we refuse to let them hug or kiss us during our too-cool-for-everything teenager years. When we approach them again they’ll welcome us back and offer help regardless of what happened. And that’s what they’re conveying to us, too. Just like the fact that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about mistakes from the past.

I could go on endlessly but I think you caught my drift already and can think of additional ones. Life’s biggest lessons aren’t part of any school’s curriculum. We learn them from the people in ours lives. Especially those we love and who love us.

Another couple of warm socks in the make.

Grandma’s handy work: Another couple of warm socks in the make.

**At first I was also going to include what my grandparents taught me about the relationship with food and exercise is a wholly different chapter for another day …

Happiness-inducing today: The fact that while it’d been really cold in the morning by the time I headed out for a walk in my lunch break it had cleared up and I was greeted by sunshine.

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Your turn: Brag/gush/ sing about your grandparents and tell me what you learned from them.

Smile at the grouchy gym guy

I’d originally planned a different post for today but the weekend didn’t go according to plan – don’t we all know how that happens? [Almost ]Everything in life happens for a reason, though, ahd this apparently was meant for me to consult my drafts folder again. A good hint by destiny, indeed, because I’m not sure this post I wrote a while ago [you’ll get a better idea of that while if you continue reading] would have seen the light of the world or at least this blog any other way. After some slightly heavier posts last week I figured it’d be just the right post for a marvelous Monday with our favourite healthy diva Katie.

MiMM_new

Friday night after a not-so-swell day of work all I wanted was to get in a quick workout to boost my mood. Colour me not so happy when my ‘favourite’ trainer was in charge at the gym. I’m not usually one to snark about people in public but with this guy I’d never been surprised they usually let him work closing shifts when hardly anybody was working out anymore. He’s so far from your cheery, jolly trainer but rather one of those salacious guys you’d rather avoid altogether. From his appearance alone he’s not one you’d want to be around as the only woman in the gym. Hence why I usually try to get past him as soon as possible. A quick hello, grabbing the key for the locker room from his hand praying he won’t make any remarks trying to be witty. I’ll just take my key, thankyouverymuch. Not.

At the gym_January 2014

When I hopped off the elliptical and meant to make my way up to the changing room once more just quickly getting my key back he came about with one of his annoying comments. Typical. While I’d been able to relax during my workout this simple stupid little remark reminded me yet again why I disliked him. So while changing clothes I intented to simply drop off the key and leave the gym without even saying goodbye because I hoped he’d be in the weights section in anyway.

Yet sometimes I act against my original intentions on purpose because deep down I know it’ll do some magic. It’s funny but I’ve found that in doing this I’m not only surprising myself but others who likely expected a different [negative] reaction, too. And positive surprises are always welcome. Against my hopes grouchy gym guy was hanging out in the entrance area when I left so at least a short exchange of goodbyes couldn’t be avoided.And that’s where I surprised myself: Instead of happily rushing off after he’d – in charming grouchy fashion nonetheless – wished me a nice evening and happy New Year [four days early at that time, actually] I turned around asking if he’d had a nice Christmas. Apparently totally taking him by surprise because he seemed almost insecure answering. When he gave back the question and asked me if I’d gotten any great presents I flashed him a huge smile at the thought of my gifts and responded a happy yes!  Somehow, this one moment changed our ‘relationship’ [it seems odd to talk about having any kind of relationship with a random trainer at the gym you hardly see a few times a week]. A mere few weeks later  [or now: a few days ago on my last trip to this gym in a while] we got along so well we were actually talking for 15 minutes [or more?] like good friends. While – as mentioned – I’d previously have preferred not spending any more than 15 seconds with this guy.

Why, yes, I just wrote an entire post about smiling. Because in my opinion, smiling can never be overrated. A simple smile might not change the whole world. But it can bring a little joy into somebody else’s life – and your own.

Happiness inducing today: A walk with my dad.

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Are there any grouchy guys in your life that you’d rather avoid altogether? I dare you to just give them a little smile or chat them up – there’s nothing to loose.

Have you ever surprised yourself by acting against your intentions? Tell me your stories!

 

It’s okay [to cry]

Note that yes, I realize it’s the second post in a row having a heavier topic but with a positive outlook. If it’s not for you I promise I’ll be back with more light-hearted posts during the remainder of the week.

Another one of those posts that I’ve mulled over sharing or not. Ironically, in this case, because the reason I pondered not doing it was shame while the topic is promoting to not feel ashamed. Or no, I actually don’t feel ashamed for addressing it but just wasn’t sure how to go about it.  Crying. It’s probably not as taboo as some other topics but I feel we still shy away from talking about it. Because isn’t crying a sign of weakness? Of an inability to control our feelings?

 

But there I was, crying at my mum’s shoulder the day before my birthday [and apparently that’s normal …]. Not Maybe you’re thinking: so what? Why even mention it? What made this special for me was that I hardly ever cry. Even if you spent a longer period of time with me chances are you would never see me tear up at. Somewhere in between childhood and teenage years I worked towards suppressing tears in public – and after a while even when I was alone. I didn’t want to be the shy, easily hurt girl anymore but have a thicker skin that [on the outside] protected me from any mean comments and the likes. Yet – the outside can be deceiving. We can pretend not to be touched by hurtful comments on what we look like, the way we act and are – but that doesn’t mean we’re actually oblivious to any and all criticism let alone invulnerable.

Source

Whatever you might think I’m convinced it’s important we let go, let it all out at times. Bottling up our feelings because we’re trying to maintain the image of a strong person will only backfire in the end. Though looking at it more closely crying does in fact not only not make you a weak but actually a strong, smart person. Reaching out for help – or simply a shoulder to cry on – isn’t easy but it shows we’re taking care of ourselves and our emotional health. Those who know me more closely will hear or have heard it at one point or another: I believe that the only true, real friendships are those where we completely bare ourselves. Where we open up about feelings and … In fact, I don’t judge people for talking about their struggles, asking me for a hug, to lend an ear or shoulder to cry on: I respect them even more and feel honoured they are opening up towards me. Because I know I won’t share all of my feelings with everybody but those whom I deeply trust only.

Writing this post and simultaneously – guilty of multitasking –  catching up on my blog reader a little I saw this amazing post by Chelsea. Vulnerability is human and by showing that we’re not flawless we become even more relatable and lovable to others. That still doesn’t mean I’ll be an open book when it comes to my feelings and share them with everybody just like that.  But none of us has to be superwoman [or -man] and hold back the tears. If everything gets too much to bear it’s healthy to cry. It helps us to move on and live life happily again.

Happiness inducing today: Sleeping in.

No questions today – just whichever thoughts you have on the topic.