Zen at an intersection

It beats me why I chose this spot to zone out and zen in. In retrospect, perhaps because it’s a fitting analogy to my present status.
Today is day 1 of my 19th month in a new country. While I have a lot going for me, I also have a lot going against. I love Hamburg and the life it offers me, nonetheless there are constantly new hurdles I need to step over, sometimes stomp on or just let fly.

Take for instance Ms. Pretentious in my licensing exam class (in German) who made her disdain of my language very audible. Upon finding out I’m new (relatively) she switched gears and offered to coach me (at a ridiculous price) on my pronunciation. I, of course, happily let her know that she could go fly a kite. In not so many words as actions. Needless to say, she reverted to her former disdain.

Back to finding Zen. For many of us caught in the cross hairs of life; it’s easy to let chaos overwhelm. There’s many a contender vying for top peeve- boss, the absence of or the presence of a partner, a kid, family, money. There’s always illness, an addiction, pesky neighbours, the weather, you don’t need to look far.

So today after Ms. Pretentious grated my nerves once again, I let off steam by cycling a couple of kilometres and found myself sitting cross-legged on a park bench. The soothing hot chocolate in my hand manages to calm more than my hungry stomach.

The intersection is buzzing with traffic, cyclists whizz past, dogs are being walked, children are being cycle- trained and the occasional tramp gives me a curious look.

I find my ears tuning in to the cheerful cries of tiny birds. My nose picks up the scent of spicy chicken being roasted across the street​. My skin tingles in confusion, unable to decide if it feels warm or cold. For though the sun is shining, a cool breeze of 16°C takes over intermittently.

As I allow my senses to be soaked in the stimuli around me; I suddenly feel completely at peace. My heart no longer runs a race, my lungs breathe freely and deeply and the tension in my muscles slowly leaves.

The devil’s advocate in me gets vocal and asks- so how does this solve all of your other challenges

The Zen I’ve tapped into answers- it doesn’t. 

So this was an exercise in futility. 

Most certainly not. Now that I feel better, I deal better.

A barking dog breaks me out of this dialogue in my head and I notice how light I feel.

To some it might seem strange and silly. But to me, this was a lesson in Zen. A lesson in being fully present in the moment and realising that-

I dont need to have all the answers. Nor a problem free life. I just need to BE. Just be ME.

Snow lessons

I hail from south-west India, where it’s always warm and sultry and winter doesn’t exist.

The 2 odd decades I spent acclimatizing to my country and its weather definitely didn’t pay off last weekend. I spent it at a snowy hillside of Germany.

Sure snow fascinates me, but I’m not crazy about it. Yet. Most of the winter sports I allow myself to sample, are usually the result of my husband’s encouragement (his words)/ incessant nagging (my words). Also, I believe pushing myself out of my comfort zone is necessary. Even if I flop on my face and on my arse alternatively, every time I attempt to ride that blessed snowboard. It is fun too! Ouch!

So this weekend, I put myself into an inflated tube and got catapulted downhill through a steep snow way. My tube and I made dancing whirls until the bottom and even caught some airtime as we spun madly on slippery ice. I was then hooked up to a motorized lift which slowly pulled me up to the starting point. And repeat. Ten times.

In the few seconds it took to go from top to bottom and exercise my lungs (not a great idea as I ended up with a mouth full of snow); time seemed to go slow motion. It was as if the mountains decided I needed a lesson on life.

My playful ride taught me this:

  • You’re not always in control and sometimes the pace is terrifying. It’s also tons of fun if you can relax into it. If not, you shut your eyes and get through it.
  • However, shut your eyes too long and you miss the misty mountains, the snow-studded trees and the sheer majesty of life around you.
  • After the top, comes the bottom and then the top and so on. After every dip comes a lift. There’s always hope.
  • There’s always a beginning and an end. Multiple times. You might as well make the most of the journey(s).
  • When it’s cold and freezing outside and you can’t change it; make hay until the sun shines. I’m talking snow-fights, snow-angels and crazy rides in rubber tubes.

It’s insane how nature talks if you’re willing to listen. It knew that day I needed a lecture, because it had just taken someone I loved.

This one’s for you Charlie. See you on the other side.

Day 24: National Chocolate Day

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The picture says it all. You know exactly where that delicious chocolate belongs…. and it rhymes with yummy…. 😉

It’s now only 1 day until Christmas and I must say I’m going to miss our Advent activities.

So to go out with a bang, here’s the whole list of ADVENTuring we did. Today’s your last chance to catch up with whatever you’ve missed.

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year 2017! Cheers!

Day 22: Make a child smile

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There’s nothing more heart-warming than the innocent, trusting smile of a child. Wouldn’t you be delighted to be at the receiving end of that magnificent radiance?

Honestly, it isn’t even hard to make a child smile. I recently saw how parents of a 3 year old, gifted her a beautifully wrapped paper clip. The little darling was so grateful that she couldn’t stop thanking her folks and gushing about how happy she was! A child really does know what’s important- to love and be loved. Everything else is secondary. We were once children too. Have we forgotten?

Today’s a chance to reconnect with that by-gone time and make a little one smile.

Now it’s only 3 days until Christmas…..

Day 21: Do something New!

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Today is the shortest day of the year. Make it count. Do something New!!

The more out of your comfort zone, the better.

Doing something that you have never done before has an effect on you that you wouldn’t quite imagine. It comes with a surprising adrenaline rush that spices up your day.

Are you going to finally going to try that scary sport/dance/food you never had the guts to try before?

Maybe you will muster the courage to tell your crush how you really feel.

Or you will end up falling in love with your beautiful self. That’s definitely new isn’t it?

We are now only 4 days shy of Christmas and if you still haven’t caught on with why we’re doing this- here’s the answer.