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 😉.

Why I don’t want stuff – Project 333

33 items of clothing for 30 days, can you do that? I just unconsciously lived a minimalist lifestyle, and you know what I missed: Nothing!

With a big move from Boston to Germany looming, there are a lot of thoughts about leaving stuff crossing my mind: my big plants, that one nailpolish that perfectly fits my one iridescent skirt. I spend all this money on it and now I am loosing it. But then a documentary and an hour of journaling brought me back to more positive thoughts: the nailpolish looked great that one christmas party, but now I don’t need it anymore; the plants will all move to my old roommate’s Mark’s new house where they’ll hopefully survive.

As long as it gives you value, keep it

Stuff adds value to my live as long as I use it. After that, it’s just stuff that takes up space. That’s, in a nutshell, one idea of minimalism. In the documentary Minimalism lots of women talk about the experiment of downsizing their closets for one month to 33 things, project 333; they anticipated shame, feeling discontent for not having more variability. And all of them report how much it has freed their lives.

How much do we need versus how much do we buy to satisfy some other longing?

I got up this morning, threw all my clothing on the floor and counted. Not counting workout clothes and underwear, I am adding up to 34 things of clothing that I have been wearing since arriving in Germany. And that is basically all I need. Having more will at some point make moving with one suitcase an issue, and I want and need to be flexible. One thing that minimalism is asking us to do it to ask: Am I buying this because I need it or out of a compulsion?


“You cannot deprive yourself of luxury all your life”

That’s basically what my parents said last weekend. My mother offered to purchase a set of dining china for Pouya & my new home. I told her pretty boldly that I have zero interest in that. My Dad predicted that there will be a time when I need to own more than I own right now. Obviously, my parents are older and maybe project their experience on the me.

What brings value to my life

The more we have these conversations, though, the more I am able to understand my true longing. And that is liberty! Attaching myself to things, potentially becoming unable to move because of all the things I have accumulated, is a dystopian vision for me. That does not mean that it could not bring value to somebody else’s life. A young colleague of mine just told me that she has just added a kitchen aid to her dowry – a fully stuffed, top brand, kitchen equipment that she will contribute when moving in with her boyfriend.

Minimalism is not against consumption or capitalism, it is for mindfulness

I have treated myself to carbon bike, carbon bike shoes and many sport equipment things that I love. I guess that is what I appreciate about the idea of minimalism. You may consume, the question we should ask ourselves is: What do you really want?


3 Minuten am Fenster zum Park

Neulich las ich einen Artikel “Are you addicted to doing?

Der ultimative Test: Kannst Du drei Minuten nichts machen ohne nervös zu werden?

Drei Minuten ist eine lange Zeit.

Das Küchenfenster mit der breiteren Fensterbank ist der Lieblingsplatz in meiner neuen Wohnung. Hier sitze ich oft und gucke, beobachte den Sonnenaufgang, den dichten Nebel. Je nach Licht verändert sich das Bild: Strahlende Metropole, in der Träume wahr werden; schlecht gelaunte Wolkenkratzer, die einengen. Nachts hingegen ist die Silhouette wie ein Malbuch für die Fantasie: In jedem Fenster wird gerade eine eigene Geschichte geschrieben, von der ich nicht Teil bin. Ein Wochenendarbeiter im Büro, heimlich, damit die Kollegen nichts davon erfahren. Ein Ehestreit. Ein Sonntagabend-Film.  Daumen drücken für die Patriots, ein Diplomatenempfang. Fertig für die Oper? Bringst Du die Kinder heute ins Bett? Die goldene Kuppel des Massachusettes State House, der puritanische weiße Spitzkirchturm und die leuchtenden Buchstaben der Superbank “State Street” objektivieren das Triumvirat aus Politik, Religion und Businessmacht, das dieses Land auch irgendwie ausmacht.

Sonnenaufgang in BostonSonnenuntergang Boston

Im Park ist eine Eisbahn, jeden Abend voll, der Anlaufpunkt für Dates; ein Kindertraum, im Boston Common bei leuchtenden Bäumen mit Papa Schlittschuhfahren. Die Heerscharen an frechen, überfetteten Eichhörnchen lauern auf jeden Krümel, der von den Eindringlingen fallen gelassen wird. Wenn der Wind günstig steht, höre ich die Durchsage: Keine Getränke auf dem Eis.

Eisbahn im Boston Commen

Neben dem State House, an der Ecke, ist der Fernsehsender Fox. Im selben Haus das Nobelrestaurant 9. Gäste werden hierhergefahren, am Wochenende abends stehen die Chauffeure rauchend vor dem Eingang und erzählen sich Witze. Kurz nach Thanksgiving waren überall Gärtner und haben die zum Park schauenden Fenster für Weihnachten dekoriert. An dieser Seite des Parks sind Gaslaternen, wie früher. Der Bordstein ist roter Backstein, kein Spaß mit Rollschuhen. Eine Ecke weiter, Tremont Street. Ein Seven Eleven, vor dem immer ein Obdachloser steht und die Tür aufmacht. Daneben ein Dunkin Donuts, das Starbucks nur eine Minute entfernt. Hier gibt es ein Museum, dessen Eingang hinter einem Vorbau mit Säulen liegt – hart umkämpfter Schlafplatz im Winter. Dahinter beginnt der Theater District mit dem Boston Ballet, dem alten Loews Kino, Leuchschrift, ein Hundertstel Broadway.

Im Park darf nicht geraucht werden. Joints sind anscheinend davon ausgenommen, sind ja schließlich pflanzlich. Hoch darüber Flugzeuge im Landeanflug auf Logan Airport. Wenn ich müde bin, spielen mir meine Augen einen Streich, rechne mit dem Flugzeug im neuen Millenium-Tower. Ein traurige, aber normale Assoziation in der heutigen Welt.

Test bestanden: Drei Minuten still zu sitzen. Ohne nervös werden. Ich werde eher klein. In jedem Fenster schreibt jemand seine eigene Geschichte, hat sein eigenes Weltkonstrukt, seine persönlichen Herausforderungen. Drei Minuten an meinem Fenster zum Park.

Winter in Boston's Public Garden.jpg


When was the last time you have…

  • switched off your phone for a whole day or a couple of hours?
  • sat down to journal about how you are feeling?
  • paused, anywhere, to simply look around and soak in your environment?
  • simply done what you felt like and not what you were supposed to do?
  • spend the whole day outside?

Mindfulness. A word that I have come across only recently. Yet, it is becoming a part of my daily life. My monday morning started with disturbing news: Two men that I have known from my political and Youth Press work in Germany have died on the weekend. They were both my age. I wish their families a lot of strength.

I am not exactly sure what feelings these news triggered. A mix of anxiety, gratitude and awareness. I do know what eventually got me going and I wanted to share it with you: I am extremely thankful for what I can do every day to follow my drive (to wherever it might lead me). And that, even after two years of living abroad, I have a supportive and encouraging network of family and friends at home. That makes all the difference! I complain about my home country a lot, but the source of this anger and disagreement is passion. It is my relentless drive to bring out the best in this country. And given the current state of Germany and Europe, it will take a lot of driven people in our generation to keep the European idea alive.

This summer makes me realize how much the ocean means to me; it is currently the source of my peace of mind, my replenishment, my encouragement. During the last two weeks, I have bathed in the Pacific and the Atlantic, in California and Massachusetts and spent many hours listening to the calming, yet powerful sound of the waves, letting my feet sink in the sand, taking walks with friends along the coast, being mindful.