Little drummer girl

Little drummer shoes

Years ago, one cloudy December, I bought a CD called Putumayo – Celtic Christmas. It contained among others, an instrumental adaptation of that Christmas “Ram pam pam pam” song, called Little Drummer Girl on which I obsessed for a looooong time.

Seasons changed. Spring came and I reached my maximum weight and I did my best to show to people that I don’t give a damn. Well, I succeeded!
I watched people running every day and I was secretly admiring them. I could barely walk more than half of hour before becoming too tired. Though, I’ve always done some sort of sport regularly, I could not run more than 50 meters.

Some people told me not to run, because it will be bad for my knees. Others told me,  that everybody can run. Sure! Easy peasy! Well, many people can, however, it was not easy for me when I started.
If now I have a few extra kilos, back then I had a few more (18 to be more precise). If you’re a pretty good runner with a normal weight, try getting those flexible weights for the arms and legs, a backpack full of sand in front and another one in your bag and try doing your normal routine. That’s how running felt for me.

However, it was not the extra weight that introduced me to this sport. Like all the hobbies and passions that I built over the years (cinema, writing, yoga, sauna, facebook…), this one also originated in times of distress and deep frustration.

It was the summer of my separation. I was still living in the same apartment with my ex partner, though he was there only the weekends.
One sunny Saturday, I woke up too early, with a very uncomfortable feeling. Back then, during the rupture of a relationship that lasted almost a decade, the world seemed to fall apart. My world. The apartment has become too small and I could not stand the idea of being under the same roof with him, who was peacefully sleeping while I was contemplating my failures. I grabbed the first clothes that I’ve seen which happened to be a t-shirt and a pair of leggins, I’ve put on some sports shoes (the only ones I had anyway) and I went outside in the park.

As I stepped under the light and the warmth of the sun, with my ipod, I shuffled this song Little drummer girl. Here I was: the first warm day in Luxembourg and me listening to a Christmas carol.
But there was something in the rhythm, a force that pushed me into running. And I did run, up to the middle of the song, more than ever before in the previous 10 years. I walked the rest of the song. It was a tiny little step, but a step forward.

Next day, I imposed myself not to stop until Little drummer girl was over. It worked. One Little drummer girl. I walked another one, and I managed to even run up to its middle again. That summer I started to count my workouts in Little drummer girls. I managed to 3 without stopping.

What went in my head during this instrumental 3 minutes was a mix of motivation and despair. Towards its last third, the song has a short pause, as if it stops “Pam pam”. At that point my brain starts cheering “Yupii!! I did it!” But the song starts again Ram pam pam pam…
And then I get those moments when my mind just screams to me to stop:
“You’ll suffocate”
“You’ll drop dead in the middle of the street. Inexperienced runner found dead on Kirchberg! That’s what L’essentiel will show tomorrow!”
“Look, a hedgehog! There are snakes around! Stop!”
“Look a squirrel! How rare in Luxembourg, honestly, never again will you be able to take a picture of a squirrel in these parks.”
“You’re gonna’ loose your hair band, the hair will blind you and you’ll be hit by a car!”
“Look, a hair band on the street. Is it yours?”
“Look, what a beautiful view on the city!”
“Are there two people having sex in that house across the street?”
“Your bra will break. Is there a crack in the pants that makes you feel like a airflow in your back?”
“Look! A field full of poppy flowers. Did you know what can be produced from poppy seeds?”
“You ran 3 songs in a raw, now you can stop!”
“The ground seems so close! The sky is falling! It’s the end of the world!”
In those moments I started to motivate myself back:
“Comme’on one more song, one more pam pam pam!”
“Common’on! You ran two songs in a raw, you can’t stop now!”
“Comme’on. You don’t even have the hair so long for the hair band!”
“Comme’on. One more pam pam pam. I’ll show you, you little drummer girl!
“I’ll show you, you little bitch! I’ll beat you with your little drum, smug little bastard!”

During those conversations with my imaginary little friend, one day I could not stand to hear the same song  over and over again. So I created something incredible called a playlist.
My first playlist consisted of : Little drummer girl and Du Hast from Ramstein – which fitted my feelings for the girl towards the end of the workout. Then I started to add all kind of songs like Daughter – Home or Sweet Dreams from Eurythmics. At some point there was even some opera there.

Then it got to a point when doing a number of Drummer girls didn’t help any more to increase my resistance and then I learned the secret of alternating running with brisk walking.

Little drummer girl is still my favorite song to start my workout. In the meantime the frustration that started all this has gone. The apartment was cleaned of memories and I found new rhythms. My knees are better than ever, but I do listen to them. It’s all in the rhythm. In these two years I increased my average workout distance from 0.5 km to 6 km and I earned two things: courage to run in the ING Team Run (tomorrow!!!) and hope that one day I will manage to hold more than 100 drummer girls which would be a whole marathon.

Little by little, step by step, I’ll do it. I promise you little girl, one day you and I will do more than what seemed impossible the day I bought that CD.

 

10 things I learned from dating in Luxembourg for two years

Dating and trying to find love

All the places you have been trying to find a love supreme

Two years ago, I ended a long relationship and found myself on the dating market “scene” after almost a decade of being in a couple. I know that it’s actually a sort of “market” with buy and sells and value and all but let’s use the euphemism “scene”.

I was feeling like in one of those comedies where the character is thrown in the skin of someone else, or in an unknown place and has to learn quickly what takes years of practice.  And unfortunately, I’ve never been one of those connecting people who walk in a bar without knowing anyone and get out leading a group of strangers towards the next pub. At the beginning, I was also extremely shy and lacked any sort of confidence. So I did what most people do these days when they find themselves in a similar situation, I went first on meetic, then on badoo, then finally on Tinder.
I like to think that I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) some things. In fact I learned enough to write a few books on human relationships, but to resume here are just some of my conclusions about Luxembourg dating market scene.

1. Men, women, gay, bisexual, transgenres… We are all lost here, it’s not a competition!
This does not apply only to Luxembourg, but the fact that there are so many expats and foreigners makes things a little more complicated.
Each generation has their own struggle. Ours has new challenges like balance between security and freedom, or between exposure and privacy. In my opinion the current state of the world of relationships is ironically resumed in the lyrics of this old song from Robbie William Love supreme:
When there’s no love in town
This new century keeps bringing you down
All the places you have been
Trying to find a love supreme

Everybody is looking for love. But then, everybody is looking for other things as well: money, sex, security, comfort, excitement, something to show off with, etc. etc.
What I’ve learned while looking for love in Luxembourg is that most people don’t know what they are looking for. They all (ALL those whom I’ve met) have a great ideal of love and want to find LOVE, but most of them get lost in the way distracted by too much choice (of people, of option), and in the end many settle for less than they even worth.

2. Look and you shall find… something
Looking for love is like having a blind date. Don’t expect to be exactly like in the picture.
One time, when I was in a holly place where everyone was throwing coins I put a wish: Please God, or the Universe, help me find love! And my wish was granted. In the following years, I’ve found lots of love.
In the course of the process of “searching for love” I’ve become closer to some friends and I discovered the real meaning of the word “friendship”. It’s a form of love too!
I’ve also met people whom are not close close friends but who supported me, helped me or simply offered time and kind words of encouragement. That is also a form of love.
And I’ve also became closer to my family, which made me understand how you can love and hate someone at the same time.
Not to mention the people that I’ve met while attending speed networking or social events at which I went to the hidden agenda of finding a boyfriend.
Love is all around. I found many forms, except the one I was looking for. But again… we are all lost, and we don’t know what we’re looking for.

3. Never say “I don’t  want to see you again!”
Honestly. Not in Luxembourg! If you really don’t want not to see someone ever again, then move out or pray that they would move out.
This place is too small, there is a limited number of bars and restaurants where you can go. Once, for a concert, I bumped into 3 men I had dated in the course of half of hour.
Another time, I was trying to forget someone and just when I thought I had him out of the system, I opened City magazine exactly at the page with his smiling picture. And to add injury to insult, his new girlfriend popped out in Femmes magazine, while I was in my gynaecologist waiting room.
What I learned from this was to get over people and accept the fact that I’m not living in a big City like Berlin and I just have to deal with the fact that the only way of forgetting someone is to mentally letting go.
As my gynaecologist says: if you relax the experience can be close to enjoyable.

4. Did someone order a cocktail? A language cocktail?
French
If someone says in French “Je peux te baiser?” and you’re a beginner in French, don’t go for the dictionary. It says there “I want to kiss you”, but in French, the steps of flirting hug, kiss, fuck are just a little bit displaced. Or it’s just that French is a language that has a “formal” written version, and an informal “oral” version.

In the formal you have the below verbs:
embrasser = hug ; baiser = kiss ; faire du sex = fuck
That’s in theory. In practice is more like this:
embrasser = kiss; baiser = fuck. How about hug? you may ask. Simple: they don’t hug, they kiss directly. Two times at least. On both cheeks. Or on all four.

 Luxembourgish
Don’t bother waiting for your Luxembourgish boyfriend to say “I love you”. This ain’t going to happen. Be happy if you receive a bretzel on Bretzel Sondeg. That’s their way of saying it. Prepare to give chocolate back for Easter, or he’ll ask for the bretzel back.
And pay attention to the leap years (like 2016): that’s when giving the bretzel becomes the woman’s duty.

English
If he’s from the Great Britain remember that shag means fuck, a nob is a dick and you will be confronted with some very bizarre idioms and some sounds that will make wonder if is English you’re hearing.  Despite the Dutch, things that disturb them are rarely expressed in a direct way, My advice (of course if you’re not accustomed with) is to keep your Google translator close and to sharpen your brain to distinguish sarcasm.

German
If it’s not a main proposition, the verb always comes at the end, after all the meaningless details and words that are glued together to seem a longer unique word. If it starts with “I was thinking …” and that’s how it usually starts, be patient.
Example: “I was thinking … in a week, after work, hopefully on good weather, on August, 5…, 25th at 8. p. m., or at 7 p.m. around a roundmetaltable, on the woodenterraceofthatbar in the city centre, surrounded by people, but alone, maybe with you, maybe without you, depending on your will of joining me, a white unfiltered beer shall I have.”

Spanish
If you’re Spanish girlfriend says “Soy constipada”, try not to feel shocked by such a gross comment for a woman. Give her a second chance, though sex might still be out of question.  It means she has a cold.

These are just examples. As we all know that communication is the key in everything, the only advice I can give you is this:
BE PREPARED and DOCUMENT yourself before most dates.

5. Rejection hurts. Especially when you’re the one initiating it
Rejection is something that is very probable to happen when you’re on the dating scene. However I’ve learned that for the normal person (who has a minimum of common sense) it hurts more when you’re the one rejecting.
I know, being rejected is like getting a slap in your face. Ok, ok. First time is like being slapped with a big bible. In comparison, rejecting is like a paper cut: it doesn’t seem like a big deal but it provokes a very very uncomfortable feeling.
But the simple truth is that the more rejections you get, the less they hurt. Instead, the more you reject, the more you start fearing the paper cut.
So this make it that most people chose instead of rejecting to go on hiding or just disappear.
This is, in my humble opinion, the worse situation ever because of the arguments explained in point 3 and secondly, because when someone who used to be more or less present just disappears, it feels like getting a door in the face when you thought that you were almost in. It not only hurts, but it leaves marks.

What I learned from dating in Luxembourg is that you need to learn how to take rejections with grace, and you need to learn how to reject with grace. It’s not an easy way but it’s the only way.

6. The only person who annoyingly gets in the way of your dream relationship is you.
Our generation has a problem of self esteem, besides the issues enumerated at the beginning. Listen to me people, this is a big issue, and it will grow in importance in the years to come, you’ll see!!
A few decades ago, the family was important for survival and the entire society was pressuring for it. Now the roles have changed and everyone craves for freedom, but we still live with the false believe that a relationship is suppose to limit your freedom, and to make you behave as society does.
In this we are missing an important point: there can be a better way! We are not made to live alone. There are people who are made for this, but the majority still has an ideal of love (see point 1). We can have healthier relationships, but this requires to find a partner with the same values, independent enough to not rely on you, but willing to have a companion. And here’s where self esteem comes into place: because if you don’t have it, you’ll always fear any commitment. And if you’re too high, and you’ll always fear that someone better will come along.
And if you’re not, if you’re sure that you found your dream partner and you’re ready to jump in the pool of a happy intimate long-lasting, enriching love, then remember that for your dream partner the above is also true.

 7. Tinder and other dating websites are just tools

             1. Go on Tinder.
2. Find a fling.
3. Screw it up if he/she doesn’t screw you first.
4. Curse Tinder for being a superficial environment.
5. Go out of Tinder for a few month / weeks.
6. Find out that real life is as superficial as Tinder is.
7. Go back on Tinder and dislike all the people you met before.
8. Complain that there is not enough choice in Luxembourg.

 Dating applications and websites are just tools, and they can be used for multiple purposes according to the creativity or the ethical principles of the user. There are and will always be scams, people who will take advantage of vulnerability, or misunderstandings. Some will like you, some will hate you, some will pretend to like you. It’s your responsibility to protect yourself, to weight wisely what is dangerous or not.

 8. Share your worst experiences with your best friends
I found it very useful to share the knowledge. I remember once when I met a guy who seemed nice on Tinder and it turned out that a friend of mine had dated him before. She predicted with high precision how the interaction was going to end.
In the same way, one time, a man I’ had met on Tinder introduced me to who is now one of my best female friends.
Also be aware that women talk (I don’t know about men, but I think is similar) and here the market scene is not so big. Speaking of big… that’s the type of information that can be very helpful and time saving for your friends, but careful: it can also be very misleading.
However, if you screw it up completely, be aware that in Luxembourg your reputation might precede you.

9. You’ll never walk alone
Some time ago, when I was in long term relationship, living with someone, I was terrified by the idea of being alone. Probably, without this fear I would have stepped out of it sooner. However, as soon as I did make that step out, I discovered that it’s not so difficult to have a social life outside the couple, especially in Luxembourg.
In the last two years I don’t remember to manage to spend one day alone. I was lucky to have cultivated a handful of friendships that came in handy in times of trouble and I earned new ones on the way. Turns out, nothing brings two women closer together than talking about their exes.

Plus, there was always someone with me and I used to forget that she will always be there for me: myself. And that’s the one we should always, always love first…

10. Don’t take it too seriously

Really, don’t  ;-)!

The world isn’t working

IMAG0063-1-1

As the day began, I thought it would be a beautiful day. I was feeling better after a long and harsh flu, I was waiting for my parents to come to spend the long weekend together, the sun was shining and I was heading to the post box to send my sickness papers. Everything seemed peaceful, that’s when I saw two missed calls from my father.

I called back and he told me that they were not coming today, because of what happened. I looked at the clear blue sky. What the hell was he talking about?

It turned out, that their flight was in the afternoon on the Brussels Airport. Just yesterday I had made them a table with the train connections to Luxembourg. When he told me that there has been an attack in the airport and in the metro, my first thought was “what day is today? We’re not the 1st of April yet.” Then the emotions started to flow. I didn’t know if I was feeling grateful that my loved ones are home and safe, or if I was feeling angry for this bloody world, for all this hate that exists between people.

In any case, this time I felt that the shadow of this mad war is spreading much faster than I thought, and is coming closer and closer. Who are we, the Western World? What is this Europe made of? Where are the human values everyone is talking about and why can’t we take over these ideologies? Are we really doomed to live in fear?

I don’t know what this war is made of. Its roots are multiple, complicated and deeper than my understanding. All I know is that these events put light on the state of the world today. I know that others before us lived greater and bloodier wars but we, our generations: the boomers, the millennials, the social network generations we lost things on the way, virtues we need to survive. We thought that we live in a safe place, that we have everything we need. We don’t. We have wealth, we have meanings, we have technology but we need more courage, more love, we need to change the perception and to give meaning to our lives.

Because the day has gone dark, I will just throw my thoughts in the air now, without any real purpose, just for myself, for my own mental health.

I will pray. We need to pray more. I heard many times “Don’t pray for Paris, we don’t need religion!”, but for me, a prayer is not a religious act, it’s just a simple conscious act of hoping. And we do need hope, because without it, nothing will ever change. We need to imagine a better world, for us, for the future. We need to put those hopeful thoughts in the world. I don’t know if there is any greater power, any God, but I know that we have a collective intelligence, a collective conscience that could be shaped through education and acceptance and through willingness to change things into better.

I pray to whatever power exists in the world, that we will find our way.

We need to give more chances to the youth, more means of expression, means for people to find what’s missing in their lives, a spiritual form of education. I had myself a youth crisis, a time when I was asking myself questions about my life, what is my purpose. I was lucky to be able to turn to people and to find my way out. We don’t need religion, but for God’s sake we need spirituality, philosophy, art, we need to feed the souls or other young people will turn extremes in their search for a meaning. And if they did turn towards these extremes we need the help of moderate religions to pass the message of peace. We need to be more united and understanding.

We need to let go of some social pressure: pressure to look good, to be popular, wealthy. We need to encourage creativity as a style of living and authenticity. We need to change our perception of ourselves, to let go of fear, so that the new generations and those coming from other wars to have a reason to integrate, more than winning their living.

We need to encourage tolerance and equal chances: between men and women, between races, cultures. We need LOVE, yes, pure human love and acceptance. We need to let go of competition and open the doors for cooperation. We don’t need superheros, idols, stars. We need to take each other by the hand, stand by ourselves, for all the ideas of kindness and to use what we have learned to transmit it to others. We need kinder words and quotes, and humour. We need to make use of any means we have to reach more and more people through kindness and courage.

We need many things. So today, I just hope and pray.

For a better world.

IMAG0062-1

* pictures from Alters of Madness – exhibition at
Casino Luxembourg 2013

I’m lucky to be a woman in Luxembourg

Lucky to be a woman

Thanks to all my lucky stars for being a woman now and here.

Yesterday was the

international women’s day. For me it comes in a busy, confused and overwhelming period, and the sun shining over the city put some light on my thoughts.

Being a woman has not always been easy. I had a normal life from childhood to now, I’m not traumatized, but now and then I was put into situations in which being a woman was considered low or meaningless.
I remember just a few snapshots of life: being whistled on the streets, called names if I wasn’t accompanied by a boy in school, being told by a teacher that sometimes women and girls are responsible for being raped and not being able to stand against this statement, being ignored in a group of men, being annoyed at the sauna by an individual who had to receive three NOs before accepting that I wasn’t interested (luckily for him, because the 4th No would have been a punch in his exposed male parts), a day at the university in France when a teacher told one of my colleagues: “could you please explain to her, girls takes more time to understand”.
And my favourite example of karma: We were in the bus, coming back from a student’s fair with the colleagues at the Computer Science (3 girls for about 50 boys). It was the last year. One boy said out loud that before finding a job, he needs to do a trip in the East of Europe because there, he could have “two whores between three dicks at a blink of an eye”. When someone pointed out that the only girl in the bus was from the “East”, he said that he actually meant “two girls between three pens”, as a way of saying that women from Eastern Europe are very “studious”. At the end of the trip, as I seemed unimpressed by his comment, he did another gesture: he offered me a pen. I am glad that I just politely refused instead of doing what I wanted to do, which was to stick it up his… That was spring 2008 and because I was a woman from the East and I had to apply for a work permit, I started to search a job in summer when for IT in Luxembourg there were plenty of jobs. The others wanted to have fun, so they postponed the job searching for autumn. In autumn the big crisis hit hard the job market and I was one of the few to have a stable job. I hope he had his whores at least, because from what I heard he wasn’t able to find a job in the coming years.

That being said, still, being a woman is the best thing that happened to me, as a wonderful lady, Hedi Hoka wrote on the dedication of her book (Love to be a woman).

Let me say something first: I LOVE men. I have a group of honourable male friends and acquaintances that I really appreciate and value, who’s different style have brought me a lot of comfort and joy in times of troubles. But I still prefer to be a woman. I like the way the male mind is built to take an easier approach on life, but I still prefer the feminine complexity.
There comes a time when we all should acknowledge how lucky we are.

I am lucky to be multitasking… to have multiple orgasms… multiple thoughts of multiple kinds… multiple questions (comments from ex boyfriends to be done in private, please!).
I am lucky to have a more feminine type of creativity, to feel less pressured to compete and to perform and to see more details, that sparkle on things that men sometimes miss.
I am lucky to live in these times, in this place where I don’t have to keep my mouth shut, to be able to express my opinions as a woman. When I started dating I was once told that “I am one of those twisted women who like to steal men’s souls” which made me think that in other times I would have been a good candidate for “a witch”.
I am lucky to be able to show my face, my hair, and my legs and even to walk naked in a sauna, and say NO.
I am lucky not to be expected to be pregnant most of my life.
I am lucky to have my clit intact and functional and to have the possibility to embrace freely my sexuality.
I am lucky that I (and the other person) can decide who my long run partner will be… despite the difficulties of the process.
I am lucky to have a job where I can openly say to my boss what I think and I am lucky to be able to choose it, in the first place.
I am lucky to be able to express myself in writing, speaking and to say how many times I want “Fuck, it’s good to be a woman”.
I am lucky not to have the perfect body, because, let’s face it, how much perfection one could take? 🙂 Seriously speaking: I am lucky to be as I am, not to have to fit in any procrustian standards.

And Gentlemen, there is something for you as well. You, who live in this place in these times, are also lucky.
You’re lucky not to be expected to give your lives for causes which are not your own.
You’re lucky not to get circumcised at 12 or to have to provide for a bunch of women to show your status.
You’re lucky to be able to choose independent, smart, sexually free women or even a man, if that’s what you want.

We are all lucky to have a choice. We are all lucky to be able to live together, different and diverse and to put our forces together to create better, more constructive relations.

We are lucky to be able to be human! Let’s not forget that.

Don’t take yourself tooo seriously

Embrace the glorious mess that you are

Embrace the glorious mess that you are – Liz Gilbert

My friend and life coach at Proactive, has a saying: “Never take yourself too seriously!”. Lately, thinking about that, the below story came to my mind:

My parents had an acquaintance. They always referred to her as a single mother (divorced) with a 6 years old boy with angelic face. She was dating serious men, trying to find a decent step father for her child. She was herself, a pretty hard working, intelligent woman. But the main character of these stories was her mother, a retired respectable doctor, a widow at the time when this took place, and of course the granny of the boy with angelic face.

Granny is one woman that I would have loved to meet in person. She was, from what I heard, a very smart woman. She had worked in the emergency hospital and I can imagine that it was a very stressful work sprinkled with very dark, gross or heartbreaking incidents.

So granny had developed her own methods to keep her mental health, as close to some sort of normality as possible. She was also a very opinionated woman. She hated politics with all her heart (no comment on that), but mostly the president at that time. On occasions when the president was passing on TV, she would pull her skirts up and show him a nice piece of Granny bottom. That made the situation for her single daughter quite difficult, because they were living in the same house. Try dating and finding a serious man who would have to accept both a step child and a lunatic Granny !

At the time, the little boy was going to kindergarten or school. The only issue with little boy with angel face was that as soon as he would open his mouth in classroom, it was like the doors to hell would open and a river of curses and slang words would come out. Soon the entire classroom was contaminated and the teacher was appalled, so she called for a meeting with the mother.

To her surprise, the mother could not take time off that particular day so she sent Granny to talk to the teacher. Granny was dressed in a very elegant suit. She was still a good looking woman, inspiring self confidence. She greeted the teacher and even gave her flowers. Impressed, the teacher started to explain:
“Madam, your grandson, I hope you won’t take it the wrong way, but he uses all the time very very bad words. Some of them I don’t even know myself.”
“Oh, my grandson?” Granny said obviously concerned. “This is unacceptable. We are a good family, with a very intellectual background… Can you call him to explain his behaviour. This is unacceptable.” The teacher nodded in approval, relieved that she had found sympathy. She called the boy with angelic face.

Granny leaned from the waist, looked him kindly in his blue eyes, pinched his cheek gently and said something that, if it would be translatable, it would sound something like this: “Listen, you little piece of shit! Where in the fucking hell  have you learned to talk like this? If I’m told again that you speak like a mother fucker, you’ll be grounded for life! Understood?” The little boy, listened carefully, put on the Shit! I messed up with Granny! face and said seriously “OK”, and apparently he decreased the frequency of bad words.

It is said, however, that the most valuable lesson was learned by the teacher. Not only she became less uptight, but she also found different creative ways to pass some politeness message to the children.

Of course, our days, the scene can be considered anti educational, probably shocking, who knows, especially if taken out of context. What I think, however, is that she gave more credit to the child assuming he is mature enough to understand some borderlines.

It’s not about being a clown all the time. I hate these eternal clowns. But let’s not be constant martyrs. Both eternal clowns and martyrs are such tragic characters! It’s not about being rude either. It’s about letting yourself go once in a while, finding a valve to release stress and remembering to be a honourable human being the rest of the time.

So, dear fellows, let me make a point here: from time to time we all need to be a little bit like Granny!

The day when I took a nap

SOMEtimes all you need is agood sleep

Since we get close to the big event, I feel that I have to confess that I don’t really like December (this is what I’ll celebrate on the New Year’s Eve: its ending).  It’s a month with a lot of pressure: buying presents, social events, finding ideas for season’s greetings (at which I suck, by the way). There’s also this delusional deadline we put on all our small achievement, the father of all deadlines: before end of year. Buhuhuuu! (guess why I’m writing on the 30th!)

It’s also the month with the winter solstice, the darkest of the year. I noticed that the older I get, the more sensitive I am to the solstice. I might be in denial but my body knows it. So, as we approach the solstice this wonderful body of mine starts to send signals of exhaustion: muscle pain, bad sleep, dark shades under the eyes. From time to time, it just shouts: have a break!!!

This reminds me of a day when I took that break. It was a day (in December) when many urgent stuff started to cumulate at work in a short amount of time. Most of my colleagues were on holidays. I couldn’t sleep the night before.

At the coffee machine two people told me that I look “really sick”. I did my best to deny it and smile. As the morning progressed, I started to fall deeply into stress. With every new email that seemed to be urgent, my hands were shaking. With every new file I was trying to work on, I was doing more and more stupid mistakes. Then I would realise that I saved and closed and that, like Sisyphus, I needed to start over again to correct and I would do another mistake.

When I got to a 3rd trial of a task, I had an enlightening moment. I took two hours for lunch, went home and had a nap.
That was the first time in my life when I experienced a power nap. I barely had time to throw my shoes off, I dived in the sheets, closed my eyes and the next thing I knew was the alarm that 45 minutes have passed.
I dreamt during those 45 minutes. I dreamt the warmth that was surrounding me, the void in which there was no thought about work or deadlines or emergencies.
And when I woke up, I brushed my teeth, I threw cold water on my face, and looked in the mirror. Indeed, I was looking very bad, but better than before. And most importantly, I could keep going.

 

I was looking in the mirror and I started to recall the other big time when I took a break, despite all the emergency alarms which were shouting at me: You already had enough breaks! 
It was the day when I presented my final project and paper for my Bachelor degree. Stakes were high, and I had had many (unhealthy) breaks. So many that my project and my paper were still not entirely finished at 5 a..m.. in the morning. That’s the exact hour when I came home from the printer shop, which, thank’s God in some countries these shops. are open 24h/24. I was still determined to work until the last minute and started to do a last fine tuning of the software that I was supposed to present and… tadam! I broke it.

 

That’s when, I turned off my PC, confident that I have a backup of the previous version and I decided to take a break. I slept until 10 and I went to have my presentation at 11. It turned out that I had taken the wrong version of my project: unfinished and not working, but somehow, in the torment of my stressed mind, the sleep had made an effect and I pulled out of my ass a joke which saved my presentation. And the most important: I didn’t fall that day in my bathroom and didn’t hit my head on the bathtub.

 

No, that had happened the year before when I needed to submit another project and hadn’t been taking a break. It was the enlightening experience that makes me today listen to my body. I only had a bruise, but I was lucky.

Coming back on the day when I took two hours for lunch. I came back and my phone was flashing red. There were three call backs. I took me an hour to have the courage to return those calls. In the meantime, for all three of them, people had found solutions without me.

The moral of these stories is pretty simple. Sometimes is good to take a break. Sometimes is absolutely vital. Usually your body knows it and the world keeps turning even if you take a nap.

Unfortunately in Luxembourg, in the world of banks, audit, traffic jams,  under a constant threat of losing your job, we can see through the glass building, but not through ourselves.

After I finished my bachelor degree, I’ve never been close to a burnout. That was a question of choice. That morning at 5 a.m. after coming from the printer shop, I took a short video of birds singing and the sun rising over the city and I promised myself solemnly to never get there again. Ever. And I kept my promise.

 

I do know, however, (too many) people in Luxembourg who have been in the territory of burnout. The law does not fully recognise it as a medical condition nor are people very empathetic about it. Like many other things, it’s a big taboo.

For the coming year, that’s one of the things I hope for to change. Among others.

I’m wishing you a hopeful year 2016!

A new blog is born

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I started to write a blog when I came to Luxembourg. I wrote in my native language. It was my personal space where I was sharing my experiences of living abroad for those whom I don’t get to see that often.

It was fun to write, it was something that I enjoyed. I wrote about trivial things: how I arrived here, what I found interesting, my trips, and short attempts of clumsy creative writing. Nothing extremely serious or important, but still a piece of me put out there in the public space. Well, nothing important in appearance. Some good things happened thanks to it. I own my blog at least one friend and a big bunch of courage.

I stopped a year ago because some events diminished my mood for sharing my thoughts.

Then, following a chain of not so pleasant events, my life took a twist and I experienced a series of changes. One was that my social life took a boost and I met many people from all over the world living in Luxembourg, so I decided to write in English and maybe to expand my audience to people outside my circle.

Off course, I procrastinated, because I couldn’t find the right name, the right rhythm, because I was afraid that no one will read it, because I didn’t have the banner that I imagined it would have, in short I postponed it for one year.

Until one day I decide to screw it all, and just put it out there: bad or good name, no banner, no imagine, just my thoughts.

Because it is mostly about me, about how I see life, how I live in this country with contradictory faces and how I perceive the light/dark side of Luxembourg, while exposing part of me.

So here’s how Luxposure is born.