Watch out for the Balloons

There are certain things about ourselves that are rather difficult to control. Like our emotions or spontaneous reactions to something we see.
As I rode the subway halfway across town with twelve giant balloons in tow, I noticed people were looking at me differently. Heads turned and followed my every step. Looks lingered just a few seconds longer than normal. And then people broke into smiles, shy at first and then grinning from one ear to the other. Some nodded at me with approval, others voiced a soft “Oh”.
And I couldn’t help myself, I just had to chuckle and wonder about such a simple thing of joy.

Balloons make people happy.
And I believe there are a lot more metaphorical ‘balloons’ in our lives that we tend to overlook in our busyness or are too afraid to acknowledge. 

Dreamy sunrises and sunsets on cold winter days.
The first signs of spring.
Someone singing along to music in their ears on their morning commute.
A stranger smiling at you.
A child talking to you as if you’d known them for years.
A pretty dress on someone else.
A word of encouragement from a friend.
People elevating your ideas to something magical.
The smell of your favorite food at the end of a long day.

It takes just a few little things to make us happy. Watch out for the ‘balloons’ in your mundane life – notice them, acknowledge them, speak them, celebrate them. 

“If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.” 

Ruthie Lindsey 

ruthie lindsey


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

When We Feel Like Imposters to Our Own Lives

When I first started teaching, I would sometimes stand beside myself as if someone else was teaching in the classroom. Even though I had spent quite a few years at university preparing myself for this job, I didn’t feel ready to be a teacher. I was waiting for the day when a student would jump up, point his finger at me and discover who I really was: a fake, pretending to be someone else. An imposter to my own life.

Sometimes in life we might do exactly that: we stand beside ourselves and watch life happen to us.

We compare ourselves to the shiny projections others share online and wonder why we don’t seem to be so happy, well-traveled and balanced.
We long for authentic relationships and a sense of belonging, but we are scared to be vulnerable and rather hide our true selves.
We carry all these big dreams inside of us that we’re too timid to share, so we stick to the same old.
We want to have it all figured out, to know exactly who we are and what we stand for. We want to go far and grow deep, but we lack the courage to take the first step right in front of us.
We think of who we will become.
One day.

In all of this, we might overlook the most important part: We are the ones who can make it happen. In fact, we need to make it happen. No one but us can build the life we envision to have.

The life before had happened to me as childhood happens to everyone. The mark of adulthood is when we happen to life.

Jedidiah Jenkins.
To Shake the Sleeping Self.

If we want to grow and go anywhere in this life, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and the person we want to become.
We can’t escape from the seeming imposters in our lives – we need to get to know ourselves and fall in love with them. We are the only ones who will always be around. We can’t chase someone else’s dream – we need to figure out what we truly want in life. We cannot just repeat what others say – we need to craft our own words.
We can’t hope for answers to come by naturally – we need to sit in the waiting and embrace the unknown.
We can’t expect relationships to grow out of the blue – we need to give away some of our time, our thoughts, our selves to build something that lasts.

We can’t just stand by and watch life happen to us – we need to understand what kind of crucial impact we can have to this life.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Where Are You?

Where are you
when we watch the news and can’t believe
how cruel human beings can be to each other

Where are you
when tragedy strikes so close to home
and we sink into despair deeper than an ocean

Where are you
when our cries for change seem to drown
in an endless sea of apathy and disinterest

Where are you
when our songs have become shallow
and our words sound dull

Where are you
when our questions and doubts roar so loudly
inside our hearts and minds

Where are you
when we stand alone in a wide open space
with no idea of what comes next

Where are you
when we can’t see you in our days anymore
and we have become tired from seeking you in our lives

Where are you
when we pound on your door with weary hearts and hands

You open and welcome us in 
and we realize that 

You have been here all along 
sitting in the rubbles of despair and destruction
comforting the hurting and the wounded

You are here
weeping with those hungering for peace in this world
restoring what has been broken piece by piece

You are here
meeting us in the waiting, sitting with us in the unknown
reminding us that growth happens outside our comfort zones

You are here
surprising us in places, people and situations
revealing who you are when we least expect it

You are here
rejoicing with us at the table as we gather to feast
on the goodness you have so generously given us

You are here
calling us to join you out here, in this wild beautiful life 
to be love
to bring hope
to fight for peace and justice
to be alive – with all the colors it may show.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

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.

 

A Simple and Profound Message for Christmas

This year I went a little crazy with Christmas music. Beginning with the first advent Sunday, I put on my Christmas playlist and the familiar tunes have been blasted around the apartment for the better part of the past month. Songs about snowy landscapes, time with the family and peace all around. 

The melody of this world often sounds very different, though. 

Winter has been replaced by climate change, people dread the drama of relationships and Christmas is anything but peaceful. We’re stressed out, exhausted from the year and overwhelmed by the darkness surrounding us. 

Emmanuel. God is with us. 

In the midst of our busy lives and worried hearts, there is the soft and yet so striking message of Christmas. It won’t solve all our problems, it won’t take all our burdens away. 

And yet there is something comforting, peaceful, profound to know that we don’t have to walk through the wilderness alone. 

Emmanuel is with us. 
His presence is closer than we often realize. 

So as we gather around the Christmas tree at slightly warmer temperatures, as we bask in candle light and maybe struggle with the darkness – be with each other. 
Be present at the dinner table and in challenging conversations. 
Be there to share the pains and joys of life together. 
Remind each other of Emmanuel this Christmas. 

He is with us. 
Where can you see him this week? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today, the last one for this year. Merry Christmas to you agnd your loved ones!

Faith in the Wilderness

It has been four years since my faith bubble burst and I began my journey into the wilderness.
Four long years of deconstructing what I actually believe.
Four years of questions why I do the things I do.
Four years of doubts if this makes sense at all.

Many months of anger at people, the church, God himself.
Many months of loneliness when I just couldn’t go back in there.
Many months of exhaustion when I was about to give up.
Many months of fear if it would always be this way – uncertain, tiring, grey.

Yesterday I spoke with a friend about our journeys and she said: “If I had to boil down faith to one word, it would be still.” 

In the midst of all the questions, I still come to you for answers.
In the midst of the broken down buildings of my faith, I still find new treasures in the rubble.
In the midst of all the unknown, I still experience a peace that is not of this world.
Even though there are a lot of lonely moments, I still discover you in the least expected moments and people.
Even though there are days of exhaustion and surrender, you still surprise me and encourage me to keep going,
Even though there is a lot of grey, I still learn that it has more colors than I could ever imagine.

So I still make my way into the wilderness and find that you’ve been waiting there for me.

I’ve discovered something beautiful: the loneliest steps are the ones between the city walls and the heart of the wilderness, where safety is in the rearview mirror, new territory remains to be seen, and the path out to the unknown seems empty. But put one foot in front of the other enough times, stay the course long enough to actually tunnel into the wilderness, and you’ll be shocked how many people already live out there – thriving, dancing, creating, celebrating, belonging. It is not a barren wasteland. It is not unprotected territory. It is not void of human flourishing. […] The walk out there is hard, but the authenticity out there is life.

Jen Hatmaker in: Braving the Wilderness . Brené Brown 2017.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

How to Navigate Rough Waters

“You know what I’d like to do right now? Go and have a coffee.” My friend had just arrived to spend the weekend with me. The official reason is a photo exhibition she’s about to open here – but it was an added bonus to have a few days together without her kids or my pressing work schedule. So we went for coffee and a second breakfast in the middle of the day.

As we indulged ourselves in pancakes and extra large coffee mugs, we updated each other on what had happened in our worlds since the last time we had talked. We shared news of friends who were struggling at work, relationships that were breaking apart, and the feeling of helplessness on the outside.
We sat there wondering, our hearts aching for all the dear people who worked so hard and saw their lives falling apart nevertheless.

I guess we’re less in control of life than we’d like to be. Often it doesn’t take much to lose it and stand in front of broken pieces, dreams, hopes.

When things on the outside start falling apart, we might have to take a closer look at the inside.
What makes life worth living?
What gives our souls its balance and our hearts its stability? 

The more I am caught up in the busyness of the working world, the seeming expectations of others and the impossibility of doing it all, the more I realize that I cannot just brush up the outside. A nice facade will only look nice until the winds of life start crashing against it.
If we want balance in our souls and lives, we need to work on the inside and create some depth that will navigate us safely through the rough waters.

Maybe this Advent season can serve as a reminder to slow down, light a candle and meditate on this simple, and yet so challenging, message.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today. Happy second Advent, y’all!