Open Your Door

There was a note in my mailbox yesterday: “You weren’t home when we tried to deliver your package, so we dropped it off at your neighbor’s apartment.”

This happens quite often since mailmen normally show up when I’m at work. What was different, though, was the name on the note.
A neighbor I hadn’t heard of or met yet.

When I rang, nobody answered.
I was already walking further up the stairs when the door opened.
An older man sat there in his wheelchair and invited me in.

I have lived in my apartment for three years, but I have never been in any of my neighbors’ apartments. I roughly know the names, but I haven’t really talked to anyone. Everyone seems to live their own life and is happy to enjoy quiet evenings behind closed doors.

With a heavy accent he told me about his life, how rough things have become after his leg had been amputated some months ago. His wife had died two years ago and the depression had made his whole body suffer. When his granddaughter showed up, they spoke Portuguese. He was sad about the lack of care from so many and yet wanted to enjoy living.

When I left I was deeply touched.
Here’s a story of a man, an individual behind the cold walls of my apartment building. Someone who makes it a bit more alive, more human.
And I wonder who and what else is behind closed doors, everyone with their own stories and problems. Maybe we have to challenge ourselves a bit more to look behind the scenes, to invite others into our homes, into our stories, into our lives.
Often things aren’t as shiny and happy as they seem on the outside – looking at them together might make us more alive, more human.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

My People.

So what is culture anyway?

It is the relationship between a country on the map and its people?
Is it the languages we speak or the food we eat?
Is it our skin color or the nationality in our passport?
Is it the rules we follow or the beliefs we hold?
Is it the way we see the world?

These factors might not tell so much about culture, but actually more about the boxes we like to sort ourselves and others into and our us vs. them mentality.

So what is culture anyway?

Memories come to mind of returning to my passport country and feeling totally lost even though I looked the part and spoke the language.
That weekend so long ago when I met other third culture kids for the first time and felt at home straight away.
All the jokes you don’t have to explain.
Your story that is celebrated and accepted without questions or remarks.
That feeling of being understood even though you haven’t said a word.
So many conversations that blew my mind when people took me to places and thoughts I had never imagined.
The questions you asked and then you’d stare into the starry night sky together, wondering whether you’d ever receive an answer.
That certainty when you know that your heart and doubts and questions would be held well by those who love you still.
All those moments around a table or in the middle of nowhere when we could be our multicultural, mixed up and colorful selves. 

These are my people.
This is my culture.

What is yours? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today (even on a Tuesday).
Photo Credit: Edgar Castrejon (Unsplash)

Why You Matter in this World (Thoughts on the New Year)

I know I’m a little late to the game, but welcome back to a new year on this part of the internet!
Here’s to a new year of making plans, hard work and great achievements.
Here’s to a new year of self-doubt. 

You’re not good enough for this task. 
Don’t overestimate your own talent. 
You will never be able to see it through to the end. 
This has never been done before. 
No one will read your writing anyway. 
So you want to become famous?

I am not saying that this year all your dreams will come true. And if you’ve been around here for a while you know that I am not a big fan of New Years resolutions. I can’t guarantee that this year will be a good one for you.

But there’s something that might make a difference:
Let’s focus on influence this year.

Seek inspiration for your work and creativity. If something or someone doesn’t strike a chord deep inside of you, don’t waste your time comparing yourself to them.
Discover the magic of the unsubscribe or unfollow button.
Slow down and notice the beauty around you.
Dig into a good book and marvel at other artist’s craft.
Challenge yourself and listen to someone outside your bubble, you might just find treasure.
Find your people who are brave enough to dream with you and step into the groundwork together.
Surround yourself with friends who are willing to hold your heart as it cracks open with vision and vulnerability.
Become aware of who you’re around every week and how you might influence them. Take responsibility for the impact you make on others and the world around you.

Here’s to a new year in which growth and strength will slowly, gradually conquer the spaces in our heart where self-doubt once used to sit. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

 

Have a Little More “Ting” in Your Life

A couple of years ago, John Mark McMillan was asked what his greatest accomplishment was. He said the following:

The thing that brings me the most satisfaction is sitting on my porch with people I love and talk. I can build big organizations and people can know my name – But in the end, none of that stuff feels as good as sitting across a table from somebody, telling a story, laughing a little, crying a little, raising a glass and hearing that little “ting”. All of life is inside that “ting”: fellowship and love and laughter, and you can hear Jesus in that “ting”.

There have been quite a few moments in my life when I just stood there, dumbstruck, wondering at what had just happened.
Two people had just talked, and yet, an ocean of thoughts and beauty and depth had opened up between us.
A bond had been forged, a sense of knowing and being known.
A safety of having your soul held by someone else.

I walked away, deeply satisfied and the sound of “ting” ringing in my ear and heart.

Since I am a reflective person, I often wonder how such encounters come about.
What can we do to have them more often?
Even though I don’t believe that every of our talks has to be super emotional and long, I am convinced that deep conversations which show our raw honest selves are essential for our inner well-being and growth. 

You can’t fabricate depth.
You can’t will yourself into having a deep conversation.
I can’t give you a five-step action plan to create good talks.

I guess it comes down to simplicity.

Going for a walk with a friend.
Sitting down for a meal together.
Inviting others to your table.
Spending time intentionally.
Practicing gratitude together.
Sharing more of your life, your thoughts, your heart.
Simply being yourself and taking off the pressure to perform.

Telling a story, laughing and crying together.
Feeling the soft covers of fellowship embrace us.
Hearing that little “ting” resounding in and around us.

Where can you hear the “ting” in your life today? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.