Friday 28 December 2012

Coming Home

I always thought that ‘belonging’ is what I crave, to be accepted by the people I look up to, to fit in by behaviour and looks. I thought that achieving in the job and in relationships means compromise to fit it. I thought that after gaining acceptance I might even be able to become the leader of the pack and to re-introduce to my life a few of the things that I gave up in order to get there. I thought that if I tried hard enough, I eventually would feel grown up and confident; that things would fall into place; that I would ‘arrive’.

It never happened.

In contrary: My life has fallen apart. After so many years of hard work to achieve belonging I separated from my husband and along that way I lost the people who were my friends.  I am lucky even that we both do not fight, so the transition from friends to acquaintance is a smooth one; yet, there I was two month ago: Not only my daily life, my habits, everything I thought I am had vanished, but my ways of how to solve problems and to find happiness had become invalid as well.

I had two options: cut and run to a new place and try again using the same method nevertheless, or stay and find new ways. This is a tough yet simple decision; it is one to follow with the heart, and my heart told me to stay. Staying for me means ‘Home’; home in the sense of knowing where to belong rather than to whom to belong; home in the sense of my childhood days.

Back then, ‘home’ was the place, which I knew inside out: the house of my parents, the village, the fields around it, my hiding places. I felt grounded and safe. From those safe grounds I explored further and further, taking the dog for a walk and finding new ways and new places, and making them home as well.

I had lost the explorer in me a long time ago. Maybe I focused too much on building a home that fits in, hence making me dependent on people’s opinions.

When I left for University I felt uprooted and I was told: ‘Home is not a place, it is the people you are with; you are missing your parents, you will feel better when you make new friends’. I lived with my boyfriend and quickly found friends, but I needed more than a year to feel at home. I needed to know my ways, the shops, and the parks; people moved through this space, the boyfriend left, a fling was enjoyable, the husband came; it was the place that kept me grounded.

I however did not questioned this theory of ‘people being the home’; I adopted the viewpoint and moved to England with my husband, found new friends quickly, yet again I needed more than a year to feel safe and settled.

Now that people have removed themselves out of the equation that is my life, I still feel happy in my home. Since I took the decision that I will stay, and since I know that I will be able to keep my house I feel grounded… and I am exploring again: new career, new hobbies, which actually are the old ones, just that I had forgotten about them, and new ways of thinking. I am writing this while sitting in the open restaurant of my second home, Tangkahan. If I accept that home is a place in which I feel comfortable, then I can have more than one.

I love my house in England and I don’t even know why. It just felt right when I set foot into it for the first time. I love Tangkahan, and I don’t even know why, I cried when I set foot on that Green Lodge terrace for the first time and I felt that this is a place where I want to be.

I found wonderful new friends in England as well as Tangkahan; some of them even have become family. I invite them into my life, I show them the Rika I feel comfortable with, and I acknowledge that it is their decision to stay or to move on.

It feels good to be an explorer again. I now know why I was at my happiest all those years back when I was walking the fields with my dog. I was on a quest for new homes.

During my recent soul searching journey I discovered that the different facets of my character appreciate ownership of individual homes: a home for work and challenge, a home for creativity and inspiration, a home to relax. I used to think that the aim is to find it all in one place and if it is not there then to create it, a viewpoint that gives priority to a facet of my character that inhibits rather then encourages: the control freak.

Only a few days back I was asked: Who is Rika? I did not know; I thought I had to ‘arrive’, to see the final product in order to be able to put a name to it. Today I know that arriving would mean stagnation and boredom.

Today I confidently state: Rika is an explorer again!

The answer feels like coming home.

Saturday 25 August 2012

It's a Midlife Crisis

Oh, yes! I admit it: I am in a proper midlife crisis!

... and I have to tell you: From within, it looks pretty marvellous. I only can recommend it. I even think that it should be mandatory to take one.

Mine is manifesting in buying a motorcycle. At age 51 I am taking my license test. I thought that doing a bodybuilding competition at age 50 was already 'it', but people understood that I wanted to get the best out of my body one more time; they even admired me a bit. Well, one could excuse it in a way as: Health efforts gone a bit overboard; I am known for a bit of eccentricity, so what?

But motorcycle is properly mad! Yay!

I kept it secret for several weeks. I only talked to people who ride already; I was just not ready to hear all those concerns about the risks, the amount of money VS the time one actually can use it, the possible discomfort of sitting in hot clothes on a hot day, ... I had heard those concerns all my life and I took them on board. I was glad to have people who worry about me, and: Death was not close enough yet.

As a young person one is expected to do silly things and I guess parents take a breather when their kids eventually settle and they feel that they got them out of the rough. Then we enter this middle phase during which we are supposed to be the responsible ones. We do not do things which deliberately jeopardise our capability to provide for ourselves and others. At the same time we more and more often encounter severe illness and death. As youngsters the demise of a pet or relative is well softened by our parents. Then we encounter it closer to home; it may be our own pet that we have to help across this line of no return or even a close relative and if not, at least we hear more and more stories about cases rather close to us.

We have to come to terms with the loss of souls, human or other, and eventually we have to come to terms with our own mortality. My wonderful example is my grandma who became a widow at the age I am now. She saw my grandpa suffer through cancer, and I know that when he died she felt a huge loss, but relief that the suffering was over, as well. She loved him much, and she never took another partner although there was no shortage of applicants. When she died about 30 years later, she died peacefully because her deepest belief was that she would meet her husband again. She knew she would lie next to him and I heard her ever so often talk to him when I went with her to maintain the grave. She never left without saying: See you soon, daddy!

And that was how she lived her life: Not afraid of death! What for us would be the worst of cases, for her it was the deserved peace at the end of a journey; a journey that was hers and nobody else's. She travelled to all the places she wanted to go, she was wonderfully stubborn when it came to authority, and I never saw her really scared.

We knew about this peace she had within herself and when she died she left a big gap, but we knew that she had no regrets and that she would go to the place she wanted to be, even if we didn't believe that this place existed in a scientific way.

So, see: It is wonderful for me to have people who worry about my safety, but I have made my peace quite a while ago. I have not yet helped a human to die, but I had to kill so many small animals to help nature along, or in order to end suffering. I guided my little cat across and it was not an easy task, and I found that it does not matter in which size death comes, I don't think my heart could suffer more if a human close to me would go. In every passing I have seen myself pass a bit, too. And I am not scared anymore. I am scared of the way to get there; believe me: I'd rather wish to go with a big bang! And if there is a price to pay along that path, I will pay it. The important thing is that I know where I am going, and it is a place I don't mind to be. 

I think that this is what midlife crisis is all about: Learning to assess the risks in a new way. The dream of a young girl of riding a bike, and the vision of freedom that goes with it, was not meant to be at that time. I didn't have the means and then rather quickly I got into the responsible phase during which it was not appropriate. Now that phase is over, I have done my bit! Now is my high time during which I am still fit enough to do all those things. It is this wonderful time in which I can still feel like in my 20s but owning the experience I would have wished to have back then. It is an incredible time of freedom, strength and peace.

So, don't worry dear friends and family, I may appear a bit bonkers, but that is a matter of definition: Looking from the inside of my little world, everything is just fine!

Thursday 3 May 2012

The rift in my soul

I am told so many things
nice things, mostly
about my outer shell and my outer soul
I am an extrovert they say
I listen

The inner side of my soul
is silent, only
wrestles to voice when in pain
they listen.
I am an introvert I say

Happiness of the extrovert
is running wild
is content for the introvert

The rift in my soul
is mine, forever
balancing two halves of the same
I mend you, it says
I listen 

Wednesday 2 May 2012

I took a test...

... no, not an exam, and not one of those magazine style 'How good are you in bed?' or 'How much of a chocolate addict are you?' either. No, it was one of those seriously psychologically analysing ones. It felt a bit like a test, though, and if a friend wouldn't have asked me to give it a shot and to answer the things honestly, yet quickly from the top of my head and the depth of my guts, I probably would have chucked the thing into the bin.

It is called the 'Kiersey Temperament Sorter', which in itself doesn't sound promising to me, and it has seventy, that is 7-0, questions which need a choice of a) or b). And difficult some of them are; rather instantly I started taking notes as if I needed to excuse my choices; it felt as if my answers were all over the place.

This happened quite some time ago until eventually my friend and I found a slot in our diaries to meet in a pub and to go through the results. Still a bit defensively but calmed down due to the time lapse I ticked my answers into the result sheet, he did a lot of mystical counting and then proudly exclaimed: You are something between an INFJ and an ENFJ.


The entire test is based upon the theory that everybody is guided in thinking and doing by four parameters:
  • Energy - Extrovert vs Introvert
    What makes you tick? Interaction + spontaneity, or taking time + focus
  • Information - Sensing vs Intuitive
    How do you gather it? Five senses + brain, or inspiration + gut
  • Decision making - Thinking vs Feeling
    What is a decision giving you? Truth + logic, or harmony + empathy
  • Live Orientation - Judging vs Perceptive
    What are you seeking when attending to lives tasks? Closure + order, or opportunities + flexibility
This is it in a nutshell, and amazingly enough I found in the end that indeed nothing else is needed to describe my ways of thinking and acting. These eight traits describe the ends of their respective spectrum and the 70 questions are phrased precisely enough to reveal the preferences in each of the four.

So far, so very academic. According to my friend I have quite clear tendencies towards the Intuitive, the Feeling, the Judging... and in regard to Energy I hang smack bang in the middle... I am neither an Extrovert nor an Introvert, hence the double result.

So, now what? There are 16 different possible combinations of traits, so there is a sheet for each of them explaining what sort of person one is - which actually is a quite nice mirror to look into. Sometimes it helps to get things spelled out, and even the things I find odd about myself, all of a sudden appear quite normal since somebody bothered to create a case study for it... apparently I am not alone in the world. And there is a list of gentle guidance as well, e.g.'learn to relax', or 'try to embrace imperfection and mundanity of the world'.

And then it hit me!

I had hoped that with this indecisiveness in regard to 'energy' I might get away easily. I thought that if I am neither nor, then it might kind of not be there... until I read the character list for each of them: And I can sign every single line of the assessment.

It is All me!

The person who engages and drives things forward to a decision, the creative one, the dreamer, the party girl as well as the hermit. That is a lot of person to be, no wonders that I am constantly chasing my own tail. I am good in a lot of those things, and I really like doing them all. And not just that I CAN do all of those things - I NEED them all! I need the thought, the focus and the hermitage as well as the attention of the crowd, the teamwork, the stage!

All my life I tried to find out why sometimes I feel like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde personality. I often blamed it on the hormones, but since a while this cannot be an excuse anymore. Well, maybe the respective trait got enhanced by the power of those little chemical buggers, but apparently they only triggered something that always was my nature anyway. A lot of my articles on these blogs are about balance, but I am always referring to balance between tasks, I never could really nail it down to where the balance is supposed to come from. I guess everybody has issues in regard to keeping work and family in balance or a laid-back lifestyle vs a healthy one, in that respect I guess my articles are still valid. But now for the first time I found something within myself with which I can make my peace.

Sometimes that needs just a bit of  help from a good friend!