Letting Go

Lately, I have a morning routine: Yoga and Jack Kornfield meditation lectures. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I smile, always I feel calm afterwards.

The concepts of letting go and not being attached play a central role in Kornfield’s teaching. Basically, letting go means no longer being attached. You can be very committed to raising your children in the way you deem moral and correct. If you expect as a return your children to become lawyers with a white picket fence lifestyle, you are attached to the outcome. That’s where the misery begins.

Purpose is not derived from results.

The integrity of how you go about things is purpose. Back to the morning routine: I feel great until something throws me off. Feelings of not being valued at work or tiny things like wanting Pho in rural Germany where Vietnamese don’t live. My reactions then become pretty random, far from controlled: they range from crying to me hating everything German to me looking up flights to Boston to sucking it up and tuning into a new Kornfield: meditate, be happy, be angry. Repeat. Really, I thought, I had this letting go thing internalized.

Until this moment when Pouya got really excited about the English Garden, the city life and I happened to ask him why he never complained about rural life. His response, that he’s decided his happiness ought not to be dependent on location, made me ashamed of myself.

And then just the other day a friend who has lived in the UK, US and is now moving to Switzerland, very kindly pointed out to me how complaining about Germany is really German. She said the same happens to her, literally she said: “This is what Germany does to me.” She had a point, though. The point is that the majority of Germans are perpetually complaining about something, not seeing the absolutely amazing quality of life. I do not want to be part of that. And yet, I do not have to leave the country in order to not be part of that.

The integrity of my purpose, connecting people and advocating, should be the guiding force. All too often I get sidetracked. Where is this life leading if I am always searching for the better? What comes after this salary, after the Ironman, after the next big city? Not everything was golden in Boston, not everything is golden here. Where I live, though, is an outcome. Staying true to myself in Germany is one of my toughest challenges, and it took me a year of sad and hard feelings to get to this post. I trust my journey.

Let’s see how long the next Kornfield lecture lasts tomorrow morning 😉.

The German World – through His Eyes

Be careful what you wish for: When Pouya and I decided to relocate to Germany we were telling our friends that it would be an adventure. It’s surely been adventurous, but maybe not the adventure that we had associated.

  • Schorle!

The first word he perfected was “Schorle”, that is the German’s drink of choice: Juice mixed with sparkling water (that kind of sparkling that makes you burp immediately). After a few weeks in the country of Schorle, he was “Schorle’d out” and now we have been trying to order tab water – something that still seems to be an offense in German restaurants, which is funny given that German water is pretty clean on a world scale.

  • Amt!

The first world within the German world he detected was “Amt”, the public administration. When he registered in the town of Aalen the lady behind the counter asked him if he had already registered for “GOA”. He was a little confused since we will be traveling to Goa, India later this year and he was wondering how that lady possibly knew that. Goa, however, is the local trash agency, also called the trash-mafia. Trash is a serious matter in Swabia.

  • Wochenmarkt-Bag

Last weekend he came home in the morning from the baker. Since we’re living in the middle of town we can watch the crowds walk towards the local produce market on saturdays. He dragged me to the window and told me that he has a hypothesis: You are only an eligible member in the Aalen weekly market when you are carrying a wood braided basket. And he was right, every one was carrying the same bags.

  • No!

No, there is no good customer service here. No you cannot return something after 2weeks. No, there is no services that offer convenience services. No, the concept of good enough is not present: You do or you do not and if it is not built to last forever it shall not be build at all.

We are currently in Canada. At Thanksgiving dinner a family member asked Pouya what he thinks is so different about Germany, how this small country is able to compete on so many levels globally. And he told a fascinating and complex story of a nation that values work-live-balance, efficiency and incremental improvement.

The adventure in my head has little to do with what reality currently provides. Administrative craziness knows no boundaries and I have no more conniption fits to give. Yet, there are also wonderful things: weekends with friends from school, great healthy food, enough time for sports&family

It has been five years in the United States and I slowly understand I have hit a point of no return: I am the one who has changed and now experience the country with a different mindset. It is hard to discuss this with Germans that have not left as they think I am pissing on my home turf or think of myself as deserving more when openly admitting that I am struggling with being in Germany. The concept of home is something many of my international Fletcher friends have redefined for themselves and I am currently doing the same. It certainly helps to do this with Pouya whose eyes are open to the small things that I am sometimes not able to appreciate anymore.

This is us last week at the Munich Marathon where we both ran a 10k race – at freezing temperatures.

MUHD0186-20x30

 

Wanderlust 

 

WanderlustAuf meinem Rueckflug von Vegas nach Boston habe ich am Flughafen diese Tasche entdeckt. Noch immer bin ich erstaunt darueber, welche Worte sich im Englischen behaupten konnten.

Gestern habe ich lange mit meiner Mama telefoniert. Viele Leute haben mich in letzter Zeit gefragt, wie ich es so weit entfernt von meiner Familie aushalte und irgendwie hat mich das zum Nachdenken gebracht: Sollte ich zurueckkehren? Vernachlaessigt man automatisch seine Familie und Freunde, wenn man weit weg ist. Pauschale Antworten auf diese Fragen gibt es keine.

Meine Mama sagte dazu gestern etwas, was mich erstaunt, mit ganz viel Dank erfuellt und bestaerkt hat, sie sagte:

“Dein Vater und ich haben Dich doch nicht erzogen, damit Du bei uns bleibst. Wir haben Dich erzogen, damit Du machen kannst, was Du willst und immer weisst, wo Deine Heimat ist.”

 

 

 

The small things

I have this sunny saturday Boston tradition: After my 90′ endurance workout, while walking towards the Boston market along the waterfront I am usually on the phone with my Dad or Mom or sister, catching up on life. It is a scenic walk with a brisk ocean breeze in your face, almost always sunny. At the market, you can get veggies and fresh caught fish and by now the people at the market know me. As much as I love the anomity of a city, the fact that the farmlady calls me “honey” and knows what I am buying makes me feel very much at home!

Yet as of lately, since I learned that I would have to cancel my trip back home, every time I get off the phone with family in Germany, I have this lump in my throat. And although I love freshly shucked oysters, all I want right now is fresh German bread with German (or Irish) butter, a Hefeweizen and all of that while I am sitting outside :-).

When I first felt that way, I thought I was homesick. But the longer I think about it, I subconsciously feel trapped. Although it was my dream to find a company to sponsor my H1-B application, the very fact that I am not allowed to leave this country without giving up that chance feels like a deep cut into my freedom of movement.

And that makes me realize that I do not function as well as I am used to functioning when I feel this way. At the same time, it makes me appreciate the small things: That I will be able to go back soon, that I receive packages from Germany with my top ten list of things that I have a very hard time living without, that I can live stream German radio all day long to get a sense of what is going on in Europe (something that is not captured well in the international news) and that despite the distance I have a wonderful family supporting me.

Tooi im Spiegel, Teil II

Ich freue mich, Euch von meinem Interview mit dem Spiegel berichten zu duerfen:

Vergangene Woche wurde ich von einem Spiegel Online-Redakteur interviewt. Wie es so ist als Deutsche in Amerika mit Donald Trump als potentiellem Praesidentschaftskandidaten.

In 2002 wurde ich von einer Spiegel-Redakteurin interviewt, wie es ist als Deutsche Austauschschuelerin in den USA, nachdem Deutschland sich nicht am Irak-Krieg beteiligen wollte:

 

Gesucht: Politiker mit Leidenschaft

Ich vermisse eine charismatische Persönlichkeit in der Deutschen Politik! Der es nicht hauptsächlich um Machtsicherung geht. Die für etwas steht! Inspiriert! Willkommen in meiner naiven Vorstellung von Politik…

Brüssel, vor ein paar Jahren. Feedbackgespräch. Er, weiß, Mittvierzig, Kleinmannsyndrom, sagt mir, ich sei zu frech! Hätte eine naive Vorstellung von Politik. Karriere hier sollte ich mir abschminken…nach dieser Woche der Schreckensnachrichten möchte ich meine frech-naiv-leidenschaftliche Vorstellung von Politik mit Euch teilen.

  • In meiner leidenschaftlichen Vorstellung von Politik wäre es Mutti gewesen, die mit Joko & Klaas ein #mundaufmachen-Video dreht.
  • In meiner leidenschaftlichen Vorstellung von Politik stellt sich endlich mal ein Politiker hin und sagt: Danke! Danke an all die Helfer, Unterstützer, Spender, an alle, die in den sozialenn Netzen keinen einzigen Spruch rechtes Gedankengut unkommentiert lassen.
  • In meiner leidenschaftlichen Vorstellung von Politik muss ein Politiker Zeit darauf verwenden, seine Rhetorik zu verfeinern. Kein Amtsträger sollte von gerechter Umverteilung sprechen, wenn es um Menschen geht.
  • In meiner naiven Vorstellung von Politik zeigen Politiker wofür sie stehen, sie inpirieren: Auf der Seite www.bundesregierung.de, vom Bundespresseamt betrieben, ist alles 0815, die Woche der Kanzlerin im Video. Eine Nüchternheit, die mich traurig macht.

In der Grundschule wollte ich Karla Kolumna werden, später über Politik schreiben, dann gern selbst mitmachen. Das war, bevor ich das Spiel um die Wiederwahl verstand: Ziel des Spiels ist die Wiederwahl. Strategie: Zwischen unzähligen Sitzungen in einer Vielzahl von Gremien muss sich ein Amtsträger eine Mehrheit erkungeln für die Kompromisslösung, Das Finden einer vernünftigen Lösung bringt zwar Bonuspunkte, ist aber nicht entscheidend für die Wiederwahl. Tipps: Mit einer mehrheitsfähigen Lösung, stringent oder nicht, kommen Sie am ehesten zum Ziel. In der Variante seit 2005 gibt es Bonuspunkte fürs Ausmerkeln. Was wäre das für eine Spielvariante, wenn jemand mit einer Inspirationsstrategie das Spiel durcheinanderbringen würde? Ich weiß, wieder so eine naive Idee. Aber irgendeine Freche muss ja geben.

Martin Luther KIng-Memorial in DC

Father’s Day

It is Father’s Day. And since this is the 30th year of my Dad’s fathership, it is time to reveal some special moments, those that stick in your memory and make you smile (I am sure that lots of Dads and Daughters can relate to this)

  • When I was in third grade, my Dad gave me my first career advice. I had to write a paragraph about what I want to be when I grow up. I had no clue what to write. I vividly remember him sitting down with me, asking me about activities that I enjoy doing and finally saying: You choose something that makes you happy and you will be excellent at it. 
  • Every time we went to the bakery together to get fresh breakfast rolls, we shared a “Berliner”, a jam-filled donut on our way home. It was our well-kept secret. Father's Day
  • When I introduced my first boyfriend to him, Dad was very polite and welcoming. Yet,he gave that poor boy that stare that only Dads can do. The “if you break her heart, I break your legs”-stare. It made me feel very protected.
  • When I had my first skiing accident, my Dad climbed up that steep Austrian ski slope to be there for me. When we were buying new ski boots for me this winter, I was trying on racing boots. The shop owner, an elderly Austrian all mountain guy, said to my Dad that these boots require a lot of strength and he would not recommend them to women. My Dad looked at him, smiling and replied: Well, you do not know my daughter.
  • This is my third year living in the United States and we do not see eachother often. I miss my Dad a lot and I know he misses me. Never, though, has he asked me to not do something, to not go places if I wanted to do it. His parental love is unconditional and I can only thank him for that.

Today is Father’s Day in Germany. Actually, it is a national holiday called “Christi Himmelfahrt” (Ascension of Christ), which is broadly recognized as Father’s Day. If you were taking a walk through the fields in Germany today, you could see hordes of men, pulling a child’s wagon filled with beer, celebrating father’s day.