Lying there in my warm bed I look up and glance at the ceiling. I see a pattern of small glowing stars glued to the ceiling that have now been there for almost 30 years. Still shining bright like the first night when I glued them up there.
I think to myself„ Wow there are a lot of chemicals in those stars.” It feels like a lifetime ago when I placed them there, a different time altogether.
For the last 5 months I have been living in Germany and haven't been to my Brooklyn apartment. I live out of a suitcase in my childhood bedroom. In those months I've always tried to be tough and positive. From time to time I ask myself: what is the gift here in the situation? I have managed to find a lot of metaphorical and emotional gifts and have grown in a direction that I didn't expect to grow.
Of course, the first weeks were super difficult, and I also needed time to understand and digest what was happening. I cried a lot about feeling helpless and being dependent on decisions made by politicians. Those decisions directly affected my life and turned it around completely. The kinds of stories I read in newspapers about people living in war areas or countries where the culture is very different, separated from loved ones, were actually occurring to me in the developed world.
I honestly thought this is stuff, that happens to other people but not to me. Well, was I wrong!
I guess by 2020 we all realized that political decisions are important, and we are all dependent on them in some way and we should all take part in the election process and be informed. Through a series of decisions my life situation changed and I was now stuck in a small Franconian village. My childhood home. I did previously enjoy visiting home and having time with my friends and family, but it always felt more like a temporary visit in which I take in all of the experiences and recharge energies that I grew up with. This time it felt like moving back home after just celebrating my 40th birthday a few weeks prior to that.
In the beginning I still had the New York City mindset stored in myself. I was tough, resilient and I knew that I had to go through this and make the best out of the situation. I just accepted it and enjoyed the time with my parents. It also gave me the opportunity to spend some time in Munich where I lived for 17 years. I reconnected with friends and former work colleagues.
The weeks passed by and all of a sudden, I realized old dynamics kept popping up. If you're living with your parents again it's totally normal that a parent child dynamic starts kicking in. In some ways it's nice, but it's also very strange as I am a grown-up woman who lived her own independent life before.
When I was a child being cooked for and not having to do laundry or maintain a household were all fine with me. I was busy dancing away and having fun! But now as an adult I realized that my own personal daily routine had been taken away. I started to adapt to my parent’s routines and was just following along. Eventually I felt an inner rebellion and I started to take on my own daily routines again and taking part in the household. It made me feel a bit more free again.
Two months later I suddenly realized another shocking change. Thoughts that belonged to my younger self started to combine with my thoughts of being an adult. They were of the insecure, doubtful and small-minded variety.
„No, not really! I can’t let that happen! “
I have spent so much time and effort to get rid of those childhood thoughts and living in London and New York have helped me adopt a bigger, broader and more confident mindset. And now all of a sudden, those old belittling thoughts came back. I got frustrated and exhausted by these feelings.
First I actively tried to neglect and ignore those thoughts without success. Those thoughts and feelings appeared again and again. Insecurity and shyness kicked back in. Suddenly I started to worry about a lot of things and it lead to a thought: „Maybe it would be better if Mike and I move back to Germany!“
That was the moment where I knew the tactics of neglect didn’t work. After years of effort and challenges this was the result? I had to hit the emergency break to stop this carousel of thoughts spinning out of control. It felt like giving up. All my hopes and dreams were gone within one second. Like pinching a soap bubble. BOOM!
OK, I needed to find a strategy to get me back into the New York City mindset. And I found two methods that helped me to feel free and inspired again. Maybe they also can help you to tune into a feeling that you enjoy and that make you feel good. Feelings that help you feel happier instead of listening to a boring carousel of repeating, annoying, self-defeating thoughts.
Listening to music. I started listening to music that connected me with New York City and its energy. Music that instilled this vibrant buzz back into my cells. Songs like “Empire State of Mind“ or “New York State of Mind“ are my favorites. These are my Eye of the Tiger/Rocky movie resiliency type songs! When I listen to those songs I can feel the energy of the city. If you like to transport yourself to a moment for example on the beach, because you want to feel relaxed and recharged then I would recommend choosing songs that reflect those feelings for you. If you don't find any, you can always listen to Ocean Sounds. Or try Bob Marley – that man can calm anyone down! I even listened to the sounds of the New York City subway and instantaneously it put me in the situation of standing on the platform waiting for the F train. You can listen to it here
Also, the act of visualizing a walk through the streets of Brooklyn or Manhattan, sitting on the water and looking at the skyline helped me feel the New York City energy and letting it rush through every cell of my body. Like I mentioned before you can take any location and let that energy rush through you. Sometimes you need a buzz type of energy and sometimes you need a slower recharging variety
I started dressing up like I would when walking through my neighborhood in Brooklyn. The casual version. Recently I observed that I started to not care about what I was wearing and just picked random combinations. I started to dress a bit “villagey” and not the Greenwich Village kind if you know what I mean.
Also I started to use dry shampoo far too much. I just didn't care anymore how I looked like because I thought: „No one cares about how I look in Franconia in this Village during a lockdown! “ But the way I dress is all about how it makes me feel. Dress for success wherever you are, it gets you moving in the right direction again.
Those two tips helped me to re-align myself. Of course, on some days it doesn't work that well, but the more often you practice the more you can incorporate those strategies into your daily routine.
Our environment shapes us and I think the most important thing is to be aware of it so you can change how you react to it. Let a bit of Nurture beat Nature, remember to take care of yourself.
I'm still living in my childhood bedroom, but I now take it as a new adventure. Not going back but going forward. That reminds me of a quote I once read: Don’t underestimate people taking a few steps backwards. They might sprint forward next.
I stepped back into a world of my old self, to take a good look at my foundation Now I can run forward and be proud of what I have achieved. It was a good reminder. I can get more grounded and from a firmer ground I can run faster when it is time to do so.
We should all be proud of ourselves and where we come from and where we are now. You are not the same version you were 10 years ago. We’ve all upgraded so let's just look back and wave at our old self and tell it: „You’ve done well! keep moving forward and growing!”
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