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  • Writer's pictureNadine Almer

Catching Up: 4 Months in 4 Minutes

I'd like to welcome all of you back to this blog!

It's been 4 months and to some of us this feels like an eternity. Or not. Or both.

For me it definitely is the latter.

Only recently in terms of documenting my journey as I have been indeed keeping up with my Vlog during February, March, April and May. An eternity because, as you all know, I have not been publishing any written content in the form of a blog at all. Don't assume I have been lazy though, the opposite is what kept me from reporting continuously on this personal blog! And yet, because I promised you a 4 minute update, I am not going into all of the details. If you however fancy diving deeper, I invite you to have a look at my You Tube channel and enjoy each of the past months separately.


It has been quite the ride!

Looking for a van (and not finding one), visiting my friends, close and extended family, going through a lot of self-growth and a deeper understanding for boundaries and self-love, and finally doing some really exciting projects in terms of my freelance business - a lot has happened.

Emotionally it has been a whirlwind to be honest. I do really see things clearer these days though. And taking the longest day of the year, the peak of the year if you will, as an opportunity to write down a summary, feels equally adequate and celebratory, for summer solstice.


A fog has been lifted and I can catch my breath again. Not that there wasn't happiness or enjoyment or love or excitement within these past months - far from it. But an underlying ebb and flow, a current of restlessness and pressure and haste, prevailed and dominated throughout. Feeling back into it, reminiscing about it, the image of a lone sailing boat in the vastness of an ocean comes to my mind. And sure, this image can evoke both elation as well as exhaustion, depending on the person thinking about it and the circumstances of the journey. What are the weather conditions? Are you adrift or purposefully able to navigate yourself to wherever it is you want to go? Are you on your own or are you in company? Do you feel at ease with putting your trust fully and irrevocably into the invisible hands of a force that could crush you or hold you tenderly, depending on the outer circumstances?

It can be magical, it can be horrendous and overwhelming, as though you are fighting to just keep alive. It can be mind-blowing and breathtaking - and these adjectives can be interpreted as both beautiful and dangerous, right?!

And so these past months felt for me exactly like that.

Both.


In March I was staying with one of my best friends and her four-legged entourage, three dogs (Silver, Lea and Jackson) and five cats. I mainly spent time with her as it has been a very long time since we last saw each other. On the side I had three very lovely and special meetings with my parents and met up with my oldest friend from high-school for a chat in our favourite coffee shop. I did a huge amount of baking and cooking and enjoyed every single bit of it!

Bread, cookies, brownies, cakes and a lot of vegan main courses, either trying from scratch for the very first time or meals that I know and love very well - and the smiling faces and compliments sort of transformed the biased image people had of vegan food, which to me felt immensely gratifying and special.


I also stayed one memorable long weekend with my granddad in the county of Styria where he got to tell me all of the family's old stories, showed me videography from his own travels and took me to see his friends. I enjoyed being immersed in his vast knowledge about history of Styria while he drove me around, visiting beautiful places in and around the area of his house, which is situated in a narrow valley, surrounded by woods. We also experienced a show in the Grazer Opernhaus and the show itself aside, this baroque styled opera house is pure elegance and flamboyance, a feast for the eyes!

Aside from these special events, another one was taking place over the course of four days with on average ten hours each day: Unleash the Power Within - an immersive self-development workshop by Tony Robbins. What I was able to take away from this one and what will most certainly stay with me for a lifetime, is inexplicable. This needs to be experienced, words wouldn't do it justice. Mostly because the transformation within is not describable with language. It feels other-worldly, to be honest. What I can put into words though is the supportive community, out of which a peer group emerged, created by some of the participants that I met in my Team 55 during the event days (there are hundreds of teams as there were more than 30'000 participants from every country around the globe and we were in Team 55!). We now meet up via Zoom once a month to have a thorough exchange on the goals we have set for us, how we aim to achieve them, what support we might need, how to overcome struggles, how we feel and how we experience life. This group already gave me so much insight, epiphanies and continuing support, that for this group alone UPW was worth it, obviously the workshop itself though was one of the most life transforming events ever.

Then the end was near and I was facing the final curtain... nah, just kidding, it was simply the next chapter of visits.

Leaving Austria, for the first time ever, felt a little bit different. Usually there is not a lot going on emotionally. I board the train and I leave. This time around a small part of my heart or soul, I cannot put my finger on it, but definitely some tiny particle within, felt something. I couldn't even tell you what this feeling was. But I think I felt touched. Touched by the love while staying with my friend, the joy of spending time with her, without interference and not just for a couple of hours over cups of our favourite coffee in our favourite coffee shop. Touched by my parents and the healing, deep and trustful conversations that we shared with each other. Touched by getting to know a relative that I have not had the chance to build a relationship with and during this time was able to start getting to know. Touched by my own drive and creativity and perseverance and endurance... and also, apparently, talent as well as joy for cooking and baking.


May and coming home to Switzerland was therefore the cherry on top of an already lovely time. These people, this Swiss tribe as I refer to them, they are engraved in my heart, edged in my soul. I believe not a single day goes by when I do not think of one of them. Never in my life have I ever experienced relationships, friendships, of this depth and sincerity, authenticity - apart maybe from my oldest friend whom I stayed with in Austria and the new formed bonds with my friends in Ireland and Scotland. I trust these people, I daresay more than my family of blood. Either it has something to do with how I changed as a person, being able to let people in, or maybe it is them simply being the most special of human beings. Before I left Switzerland all of them were there already but since I started travelling, every single time I come back, our connection gains more depth. Maybe it is because of the intensity of these days, the purest form of being present with every cell in my body and every last bit of energy in my mind. Honestly, sometimes I argue if I deserve this kind of bond. Am I a good enough person, a valuable friend, if I am away for the majority of time and only come back once in a while, expecting them to clear their schedule and make time for me? Am I worth of their attention and respect, loyalty and love?

Upon several conversations though my mind was brought to ease. We, friends and I, recounted the times we would actually see each other while I was still living my life in Switzerland and came to the conclusion that the depth of our meetings, the act of cherishing the time spent together and the actual time in hours, added up, was more than we would have spent in each other's presence if I'd still lived there!

How spectacular and unexpected is this!

Deepening the relationships because you are away and not a constant in each other's life!

I am blanketed, tucked in and comforted by the knowledge that I'll have a safe haven in whatever weather I find myself because I am truly and whole-heartedly embraced by my Swiss family, my Austrian family, my Scottish family, my Irish family. Remembering this really leaves little space to despair or feeling lost in the vastness of the sea of life!

Upon coming home to the Isle of Lewis in May (and up until now, June), I threw myself into all the plans I had made for my own business and into supporting my friends here in whatever way possible. I forgot myself, I forgot my limits, I felt so ecstatic, euphoric and enchanted about being back with Marjorie, the people, the animals, this country, this island - I feel like I forgot that I was human!

As funny as it might sound, the fall was pretty hard, coming back down to Earth. And although I had a lot of cautious words and attempts to save me from it by my loving friends, enforcing days of rest upon me, the current of an underlying stream within to achieve, to perform, to execute, to produce, was all consuming. I wasn't even fully aware how much I let life itself consume me, how much I got sucked into day to day planning for the future ahead or the past done. The Now, the Presence only popped up to stay for a little amount of time here or there. Yoga and mediation practice ceased to exist, journaling was too much. Reading late after a long day, immersing myself into the farm work and whatever needed help around the house and in my friend's business, freelance client work here or there and walking with the dogs where simultaneously the only things I wanted to do and all that a day provided the capacity for.

And I beat myself up because of it. I wasn't good enough or worthy enough if I did not have the energy left to care for all of the ideas and future projects I wanted to kick off in moving my own business forward. At times I even felt guilty for reading some romantic novel rather than something that could be categorised as food for thought or expansion of horizons. So lost in the days rushing by was I that I only ever felt discontent once I went upstairs to bed, forgetting the huge amount of tasks completed, goals achieved, energy spent, that I felt unaccomplished and a far cry from the motivated, life-transforming, cheerful, self-loving individual I worked to become.

I couldn't put my finger on it until it was time for the peer group meeting with the wonderful women of the UPW peer group! They opened my eyes to see the full scale of my predicament: Unmet expectations mingled with high standards and people pleasing tendencies. A recipe for my disaster.

Now do not get me wrong - as I mentioned in the introductory part of this blog, the magic and madness within my sailboat journey upon the vast sea lie close together.

Still, this meeting opened myself up to going gentle on myself again. Radically, I abandoned all commitments for my freelance business and my volunteer work. I gave myself permission to watch shorts before bed while eating cake, not sticking to my usual bedtime routine of yoga, journaling and meditation. Being with my friends, helping out alongside their business and farm, hiking with the dogs was about the only things I did for a couple of weeks.

No harsh inner dialogue, no regret, no feelings of inadequacy or not being worthy.

And it worked wonders!

Knock - Knock
Who's there?
The new version.
The new version who?
The new version of you, upgrade 2.0!

Suddenly she peeked around the corner, cautiously.

Is it true? Does she have capacity again to do some Yoga? Yes, she does indeed!

And on another day, she stepped forward and suggested some journaling- and my, oh my, suddenly there was an urge to write again, daily even!

When I shared this gradual comeback of the woman I had trained myself to be, my dear friend Sarah brought back what I already had heard about a while ago, and mind you it suits our theme as well:


The psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill.

Initially unaware of

1. how little competence I have, mainly in the art of consistency: The practice of Yoga, journaling, meditation, a general sense of balancing my moods, emotions as well as knowing myself thoroughly enough to being able to differentiate between laziness and low energy levels. To then

2. taking action with a step by step plan to acquire a skill, bringing me closer to becoming the version of myself that I aspire to be: Starting point for that (if we dare go by back nearly seven years now) my stay in a hospital for treatment of my mental ailments with an on and off practice of meditation, journey of self-development and growth, gratitude journal and an overall pursuit of finding healthy habits and routines that work for me. Ending (or never ending, depending on your choice of philosophical view upon the journey of life) with me taking on one habit per year to incorporate into my everyday life, beginning with journaling for a year, then meditation for a year and lastly Yoga everyday for a year. Or also quite simply (or not, depending at which time of the whole process you would have asked me) all of my skills that I now use for my freelance work, none of which I had before 2021!

From thereon

3. using said skill and becoming aware of stages yet to accomplish or the lack of competence due to a knowledge of what actually is possible to accomplish within the usage of that skill (aka being the best); also resembling a ping pong match, where you continuously try and get better at something for your own benefit or the benefit of others, such as your clients or pupils or customers, still feeling like an impostor at times but going further and becoming better with time and age and most of all, practice. Which brings us, or in this blog and example, me, finally to

4. unconscious competence! Basically this is, in the conversation between Sarah and I, what she referred to when I told her about my urge to journal or crave a Yoga practice instead of watching videos on social media. I, after years of up and down, back and forth, adhering and promising myself to a consistent attempt on acquiring a skill or a habit or routine that I consider healthy for myself, have finally arrived in unconscious competence. There is a natural flow now to my daily routines that I want to stick to, regardless if I put them on my daily or weekly To Do list!


We got a little off track there with psychology, but since we are at the end of June and I promised to catch you up on all the missing pieces of the last four months, this one is the most recent one.

After the season of winter, when we come out of what some refer to as a seasonal depression, our own self dying for a new self to be surfacing, akin to the role model of Mother Nature; after the season of spring when the turmoil of a whole bunch of new stuff, new projects, new Me, new everything and anything has tumbled out of a cocoon and we have a Mount Everest of New before us; arriving in summer, on the 21st of June, at the longest day of the Year, halfway through 2023:

(probably about 7.0 but most certainly the 'I lost count but she is definitely an upgrade!' - version)

The moments I cherish deeply are those with my beloved tribe. The people that surround me and give me a home wherever country I am in, whichever state I am in. The kindred spirits that provide love, understanding, shelter for me and my soul (and obviously for my spirit animal: Marjorie!). The happiness in their eyes when they welcome me, their treasured time they chose to spend with and thus give to me, the gestures and trinkets they gift me with and in doing so showing me how well they know my essence!

Now, all of this said, dearest beloved souls:

Happy Summer Solstice!

How was your first half of this year? How are you feeling about the changes of seasons reflected in our human experience of life? How have you been coping?

Let me know, either in the comments, via mail or ponder this in your own time, on your own terms.

Whatever you chose to do, I sent you all my love!

Be kind to yourselves, be kind to others and may this second half of 2023 bring everything that you need and may wish for!

Love and light from my heart to yours.

Always.


Nadine

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