I feel like I’m not myself anymore

I feel like I’m not myself anymore.
My life has been taken over by someone, something else.
The way I eat, work, and interact is dictated by the outside.
I don’t know when I last got enough sleep.
When I didn’t have to worry about the loads of work in front of me. Emails in my inbox pile up – messages from dear friends waiting for an update, and all I can give them is a “I’ll get back to you as soon as things calm down.”
But when is that?

My kitchen looks like a battlefield, I stumble through it in the morning to make a cup of coffee and hope there’s still some food left in the fridge.
I don’t even want to get started on the rest of the apartment.
Piles and piles of paper, clothes, pens.
The air smells of heavy thinking.
I look at this mess everyday and think, “I really need to get some order into this.”
And yet, time runs by far too quickly and I have no energy left to pick up a single sheet of paper.
I want to meet up with friends and share my struggles, but often I feel like I have no ounce of emotional strength left in me to carry a conversation.

© B. Mahler, Fotograf, Berlin

I feel like a grandma when I see my roommate go to a party at 9.30 pm and I start getting ready for bed.

What happened?
Well, I started working.
Welcome to the life of a new teacher.

I haven’t moved, I still speak German, I still surrounded by many familiar things and faces.
And yet, I feel as if I had entered a new culture.
The land of adulthood and working.
The land where clocks ring early and demand full-on responsibility.
A whole new world of terms, people, schedules.
And it takes time to learn them.
There are courses to prepare you for birth, marriage, driving…but why does no one ever

prepare you for work and all the changes it brings to your life?

Another transition.
Not geographically, but mentally, cognitively, and emotionally.
My sense of time, sleep, work, and social life has been uprooted and replanted into a new environment.

There’s the honeymoon phase.
I do enjoy new experiences, like meeting friendly colleagues, entertaining students, teaching epiphanies, and earning some money along the way.
There’s the depression phase I wrestle with at the moment.
The overwhelming feeling of defeat, exhaustion, and hopelessness.
The impression of being lost in your day’s schedule, tasks, and identity that no longer seem to be your own.
The inability to manage my life around this new omnipresent force called school.

© positivepressagency.com

And eventually, hopefully, there will be the readjustment phase.
When my roots are firmly replanted on this new soil of adult work life.
When I find the right balance between work and social life.
When I learn to say no to things so that I have time to enjoy the things and people I have said yes to. When life has found a new routine and I can carve out space to let in joy, peace, and people again. When I discover a new sense of anticipation for what will come next.
When I listen into myself and find that I am still there. I might have been lost for a while, but my identity – my self – has always been there after all.

What Breath Can Teach Us

I breathe in.
Feel the air flooding through my nose, mouth, down the trachea into my lungs and stomach.
I breathe out.
Breathe in again.
See my stomach rise and fall.
The more I listen to my breath the calmer I become.
Nature has its God-given rhythm and I can simply join its pattern.

Yesterday in my speaking class we did breathing and articulation exercises.
Words are a wonderful thing.
They can convey content, feelings, subtle hints, deep suspicions.
They can tear down or build up.
They always resonate with us.
While we experimented with different dynamics and voices the instructor said one interesting thing: “Whatever and however you speak – make sure your breath and yourself are rooted within you. Always come back to that root inside of you.”

This might sound strange, but it is the secret to good speaking.
You need firm roots to manage the different pitches, moods, contents you manage each day.
The people and things you interact with in 24 hours might kick you around, might really challenge you – but you can always come back to that breath inside of you.
Breathing in. Breathing out. Natural order. Peace.

This word sticks with me, not only since yesterday’s class.
Feeling rooted while speaking, returning to that natural breath is a good metaphor for the rest of life.
It kicks around sometimes, doesn’t it?
Calls to take, errands to run, people to meet, counseling to give, problems to solve, fears to face…
Life’s tough and it’s not hard to feel like a tiny boat on a stormy ocean at times.

In the midst of these turbulences we need to be rooted.
We need that place we can go to, where our sense of self and order are restored.
Where our hearts can let go and calm down.
Where we can breathe in fresh air, a new sense of hope and perspective.
That place we can always return to.
That haven of peace.

This place looks different for all of us.
A cup of coffee in the morning.
A night of good and enough sleep.
A song that breaks the gloominess of our day.
A meeting with a friend.
Reading an encouraging book.

Using the early hours of the morning to be still.
Before speaking a word I want to listen.
Listen to my breath going in and out.
Allow my heart and body to be flooded with air, energy, spirit for the day.
Before telling the Lord MY agenda for the day, I want to hear what HE’s got in store for today. 
I face the challenges of this day with peace because I know I can always return to it. 
To Him, the Prince of Peace.

[Five Minute Friday] Welcome

Welcome to 2015, readers! I hope you had a great start into the new year and are excited for all the things to come. It’s Friday, so as always, I join a fabulous writing community over at Kate Motaung‘s place. 

It felt like the first day of school. 
Searching for rooms and familiar faces. 
Meeting new people. 
Slowly finding out who would become your colleagues and friends.
After five years of studying and two months of resting I am back in school. 
Literally, since I will be teaching highschool students very soon.
The new year is truly new for me. 
A new phase of life, full of adjustments, challenges, and changes. 
But I am not sure I am ready to welcome them.

I don’t know how your last year looked like. 
I don’t know what the new one has in store for you. 
And I surely don’t know how you feel about all of this.
Are new people welcome in your home and life?
Do you expect or avoid changes in your life this year?
Do you dread or embrace the future?

Sometimes life and its people overwhelm you. 
They surprise you. In a good way. 

When I entered the school this week I was surprised to see many familiar faces. 
People I didn’t know before turned out really nice and opened great conversations.
While I was mostly hesitant and scared of all the new courses and work to come I slowly rediscover a long lost feeling: passion and excitement for the new opportunities lying ahead of me.

So as we start this new year – each of us with their own challenges and joys – let go of the past and hesitation. 
Let’s welcome new people in our lives or allow old ones to surprise us. 
Let’s welcome interruptions and blessings in disguise. 
Let’s be overwhelmed at times and enjoy times to breathe even more. 
Let’s welcome life.