Quelle cliché : life’s a marathon.

VLM2015Today the annual London Marathon is held and thousands of runners are lining up as I type. The publicity, the PR set off in me a sense of excitement: only a year ago, I was prepping to run marathon in Edinburgh and the runners vibe brings back the adrenaline. Not that I would be able to run one now, mind: yesterday, I struggled through my first 5K in a long while. The first run, after six weeks if not two months, when I pushed myself to run a hilly 10K just under an hour… by 12 seconds. Haha, it doesn’t matter. Like writing, running is something I enjoy going back to. (Yet perhaps like running, I would get better or more practised at writing if I made time for it more often. Now there is a thought for Sunday morning.)

Source: Twitter - hard to track, sorry.
Source: Twitter – hard to track, sorry.

Despite the buzz and despite a very tempting offer to accompany the boy on his job photographing charity runners this morning at 8am, I have decided to join the crowds later for the very last bit and cheer them on to the finish line. That moment is magic. I have already considered going back on my ‘once and never again’ but the awful amounts of training, the Chris Hoy thighs (ok, perhaps not quite) and the unsexy moments half-dressed in an ice-cold bath eating a protein bar, do flash back and dissolve that nostalgia once more. For now. (What is wrong with 10Ks? Half marathons?)

The marathon was an amazing experience, a transcending one almost; I now tackle all life’s challenges as a metaphorical run. The discomfort, and there is discomfort when you are schlepping across 26.2 mile, proves to be only temporary and the euphoria of the finish line is worth every effort. I have felt the physical equivalent of  ‘this too shall pass’ and as I am wading once again through a foggy patch, at 3-0 I know it will all work out ok. Good luck to each runner: enjoy the ride, I’ll be cheering each and every one of you!

The Universe Calling. (Well, Ryan Gosling. Sort of.)

In the never-ending undulation of life, riding the wave upwards has been amazing but suddenly I find myself slowly losing momentum: the wonderful workshops are coming to an end, a side blog project finishes soon and the paid-job shifts seem to be becoming suspiciously quiet at the moment. Thus I find myself in the seemingly contradictory position of bathing in glorious Spring sunshine while staring at A Big Black Hole that is thundering towards me with the speed of a Pamplona bull in July.

It’s that moment, when you’re making yourself some tea in the kitchen, you tilt your head to the Universe and shout in Jeremiah-ic despair: “What do you want from me?! Send me a sign!” For your housemate to walk in, grab some cereal and enlighten you: “Listen, this is what the Universe is saying…”

This is what I imagine the Universe looks like.
Note: Not my housemate. This is what I imagine the Universe looks like.

Phenomenal Women.

Last year, I had written a piece on International Women’s Day that was later read by a man I briefly went out with. The blog ended with:

“Live life my friends, especially if you are a woman. To honour those who have gone before us, to advance those who are to follow: be courageous, be woman, be proud.”

The guy started to laugh and asked me if I was being serious. This couldn’t be serious right? This must be a joke. “Live life especially if you are a woman”, what did that even mean? A few conversations on the matter later, he revealed he believed (!) that ‘considering equal rights, women who fall pregnant shouldn’t automatically be able to ask men for maintenance’. In his view, this money was an incentive for the woman to keep the baby. They want the baby, they should pay for it. Reflecting upon this a year later, our affair – though brief – still lasted surprisingly long…

Happy International Women’s Day: the fact that these well-educated and seemingly adjusted men walk around in fairly developed countries as the UK,  is exactly why today is still needed.

Today, living life as a woman means that I appreciate that I have the choice to sleep with beautiful yet misguided men but that I thankfully don’t have to marry them; that I am able to exercise in the gym or in the park because my body is my own; that I occasionally worry about money, because it is me who earns it; that I can waste hours on the internet because I can read and my brain is constantly hungry for information; it means that I can facilitate workshops and write pieces like these, because I have a voice that I want to use to connect with others; it means that I can review plays and bars, because I have the freedom to move around by myself; it means I can momentarily panic about parking the car, because I am the one behind the wheel; it means that at 29,  I am still looking forward to have biological or non-biological children one day, because I choose them in my life.

Living life means appreciating your opportunities: being able to create your chances by using the freedom of choice and personal will, to live a life true to you and your potential. No one should be denied this – just because they’re women.

Starting to write. Again.

After having recovered from last week’s challenges, it was time for a change. So here in new format, the same blog: same-same but different. I got annoyed with the ads, so I decided to buy my domain name and add my portfolio – for those who wonder if I do anything else but whine about wanting write for a living. (“Like, ohmygawd, why doesn’t she like, like, write for other people?” Ohmygawd, she so does…)

While updating this blog, I found a forgotten draft from 2011. I can’t remember why I started it or why didn’t finish it but here it is: it’s short, it’s contradictory but it made me smile!

2011

1. The strong must look after the weak.

2. Just because bad things happen – a lot, doesn’t mean they are acceptable.

3. Be generous, share what you have.

4. If you need to fight, don’t kick a man when he’s down – but kick him hard enough so he doesn’t get up for a while.

5. Don’t be afraid to love.

Order this and cry for joy (Serendipity)

FxCam_1389786807541This morning I woke up with a writer’s hangover, meaning that this was not caused by overindulgent alcohol consumption for a change but by negative feedback on a project. Let’s be fair here, not just the project, more specifically – my writing. It was a short email, the bulk apart from intro and sign-off read:

[…] I really did not like it. Too contrived, too many and too vague characters, too few inspiring, original or even funny situations and very questionable dialogues. I don’t see any way this can be improved (not even through improvisation.) […]

Dear Reader, I cried. This project has taken years of preparation and indeed some stress in the last few months. So after having had to initially control my disappointment because I was in a meeting, all the while self-doubt eating away at my soul, I allowed myself to be upset for about two minutes. It seemed silly to wail for much longer, especially over someone’s opinion, but long enough to process the pain. I got comforted by my amazing housemates and I decided to sleep on it.

 …I allowed myself to be upset for about two minutes. It seemed silly to wail for much longer, especially over someone’s opinion…

Waking up felt like having been through 15 bouts of heavy-weight boxing and not having come out as the winner: physically and emotionally bruised. I am still annoyed at myself for not (yet) being a better writer. Still today is a day to be kind and this has already been  greatly helped along by two incidents this morning:

A radio interview with British crime-writer Ann Cleeves, who is now hugely successful; having two of her creations transferred to the small screen on both BBC and ITV. She confessed herself being very lucky: one of the reasons why a television series was now made was because the person, conveniently in charge of ITV producing, picked up her book in a second-hand shop. Ann had been writing since 1986 and felt that success, though lucky, had also been a long-time coming. She literally told anyone who was writing now to keep on going and to just enjoy it.FxCam_1389786709940

Secondly, I got a postal package. An unexpected package, when not containing Anthrax and the like, is one of the most exciting things that can happen on a day. Most delightful, the package contained a belated birthday present in the shape of Apricot jam with Schnaps and a chocolate liqueur. More importantly, it also contained a postcard with my cousin and her family’s best wishes for the new year and a casual afterthought:

“..you’re already a writer, the rest will come along in time…”

Postcard linesSerendipity made me smile, as I turned the postcard with pictures from the Würstelhütte and Käsekrainer, reading the small print: “Order this and cry for joy…”

“..you’re already a writer, the rest will come along in time…”

Happy New Year’s Resolutions

English: US Navy SEALs clearing cave complexes...
Probably not my new colleagues (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So 2014.

In the early hours of this morning, I spoke with my friends about my plans for the year: my hopes, my resolutions. It is hard to talk about this sometimes, especially if the friends structure their lives in a more mainstream way than I tend to live my life.

It has taken a long time for me to accept my friends’ questions as part of a conversation and not as an interrogation in which I have to defend myself. As a big birthday is approaching this year, I realise (even without their prompts) that I am indeed still renting a room in a shared house, working a job that I hope will get me through the month, every month, and chipping away at what is seemingly a pipe dream.

Thus a familiar question is: What if it will never happen? Well, at the point that this becomes certain, I will have died – so I suppose it won’t bother me that much. Perhaps I shall even die with the demented hope of a 96-year old that my warbling will be published posthumously. I mean, “it” is not trying to become the President of the USA, try to establish peace in the Middle East, find a job as brain surgeon next week, become a pro-basketball player or join the Navy SEALS by the weekend: “It” is to write for a living.

The biggest a priori mistake people seem to make though is to assume that we have the same goals and formulate the questions from that perspective. Despite all the insecurities and challenges in my life (and really, they are just #firstworldproblems. I am hardly trying to rescue my newborn twins from cholera here) I am happy.  Every day I wake up in my rented room, I know I chose to be there; even when I log into a shift at 3am, I chose to do so. Every time I manage to finish a draft of another unpaid writing project and send it off into a black hole via email to reach yet another deadline, I feel hopeful.

The day my dream is no longer my choice but my cage,  I will change again. A creative life is not the obvious life for an inherent worrier like myself but I like the challenge, the variety and the freedom.  As it is a mile-stone year, my resolutions are to make my life A) sustainable and B) more purposeful. Last night, I was told that those are hardly SMART goals,  yet I suppose you could call them intentions or in fact, what’s that word again… resolutions.

I have my dream, my resolutions and yet another 365 days ahead of me.

So 2014, let’s go.

Madiba

In 1990, I was five-going-on-six but I remember the moment I first saw Nelson Mandela on television. He came walking out of prison with Winnie, fist up in the air, smiling. I didn’t know who he was, of course. In fact, I was completely confused why people were cheering on this old man, whilst holding posters and pictures of another, much younger guy!

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...
English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 1998 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That was my first image of the man, at that point already an icon and who would grow into a legend in his own life time. A couple of years later, when I understood what he stood for, I listed Nelson Mandela as a hero in a primary school exercise ( I was a precocious child).  He also strangely reminded me of both my maternal grandparents. It had probably to do with standing tall in the batik shirts (my granddad) and the open smile (my grandmother).

In the next few days, people will mention that some current politicians who praise the man now, were previously against the ANC and Mandela. I don’t know about that as I was too young but I remember being shocked when, in secondary school, a teacher told us that Mandela previously had held pretty radical views himself. That he will remembered for his peaceful reform says a lot about the man himself, rather than just the ideals of a movement. If we struggle with a grudge against those who find themselves on the wrong side of right in history regarding Mandela, wouldn’t that be slightly ironic too?

Let’s not hold grudges then but overrule hypocrisy by simply living a good life by our own moral compass, rather than aim for a movement’s ideals. In Mandela’s self-deprecating style, keep the praise in perspective by remembering as him as a man, who married thrice and had five children: I doubt his wives and kids will see him as a saint.

Still, to get to 95, pass peacefully and to be mourned by all layers of the world population, to be remembered with so many funny anecdotes by those who met him: that is something to aim for, kids.