Why it’s important to listen

Sitting in the back of a car, drinking tea out of my passenger camping mug, I sit reflecting on life, and this guilt that accompanies taking time out to plug off and enjoy life.

I wonder if our lives are consumed by this need to work. That our identities are defined by our work.

I wonder if we’ve lost our natural curiosity for our lives around us. I wonder, that in my teaching, how I can get teenagers and young people to be curious about the world and the people around them.

I wonder if we can get empathetic communication back between all of us, and then I wonder did we ever have empathetic communication?

Then I wonder how do we develop and learn empathetic communication? Then I realise that it’s all about accepting the person as they are, with their life experiences and treating them as a human being.

Because we have a lot to learn from each other and we can make the world a better place by learning from each other.




Being okay to say “I’m afraid”

Learning to be comfortable and okay with being vulnerable on a daily basis has been a challenging journey this year.

I needed to learn to be comfortable with acknowledging my fears. In doing so, I needed to move beyond my comfort zone to face those fears.

Yet the most challenging thing this year has been letting go in order to grow. Letting go of fear, of insecurities, letting go of worries and learning to trust me in the face of the unknown. I haven’t been good at that recently, and it’s not going to be an easy road ahead.

They say that growth comes from reflection and vulnerability. They say that perfectionism blocks us from self-acceptance. I’ll be honest – acknowledging and seeing these barriers that my scarred and hurt heart has put up has been the scariest.

There’s this episode in Doctor Who, where the 12th Doctor is stuck in a tower within a time loop, and he is forced to find his way out. The only way he can get out is by punching his way through a solid wall of diamond, all whilst retelling the story of a bird who sharpened his beak in a mountain of diamonds. By the end of the episode, it took him over 51 million years until he finally broke through.

Whilst my barriers aren’t as thick as the barrier in the Doctor Who episode, nor do I have a time guardian monster chasing me, but fighting those fears, insecurities that are these barriers, feels a lot like that episode. At times it feels like no matter what I’m doing, the punches to break the barriers seem ineffective.

Yet I’m determined to continue to let go of my perfectionist nature, and simply grow, no matter how bumpy the road gets. Because this year is about growth, and I need to make some tough decisions ahead if I want to get where I want to be.



Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Rumi

Holidays + Routines

December rolls around every year, and accompanying December is the process to reflect, and if necessary, change or modify any personal goals. You know, that end of year routine common to many people.

We, humans, are creatures of habit and we seem to really like our routines. Routines let us understand what is coming up and can act as a comparison stick in case anything out of the ordinary arises. Just like in a maths equation, once we know the variables, we can solve the equation. Routines help us figure out the variables.

The lead up to the holidays often means that our routines get interrupted, with all the planning, cooking, that last minute rush to sort out presents and fitting in as many social events before the year ends getting in the way. We are so busy looking out for everyone else, we forget to look after ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, looking after others is an important part of our lives because it builds empathy. It helps us connect with people, and we learn from each other. Yet empathy can’t be developed on an empty tank. One really important part of building empathy is self-awareness, the ability to distinguish between our feelings and thoughts with the feelings and thoughts of others. As such, we need to connect with our own thoughts and feelings, not neglect them.

One thing 2017 has taught me is that it is okay to take a step back from the chaos of life, all the competing pressures in your life and to look after oneself. It is okay to take that 10-minute break enjoying the seaside, or that 10-minute meditation practice or simply to sit down with a cup of tea enjoying the nature around you.

Because in looking after everyone else over the holiday season, we also need to connect with ourselves. So over the next 19 days left in 2017, and in the 12 days up until Christmas, schedule some time with yourself on a daily basis.


liebe letters

Sea breezes and home

Something I’ve realised, now that the craziness of the Graduate Diploma of Education pressure has eased for the year, is how important the salty sea breeze is for me.

It has anchored me, letting a wave of healing flow through me. It calms me.

Over the past year, whenever I took the train to uni, I’d look up and see the ocean, and I would feel calmer, more anchored to meet the challenges of the day.

I have different places where I feel truly at home, and the ocean is one of them.

So, here’s to the places that make up your home.




Books, art and love

 “The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our souls and brings peace to our minds. That’s what I hope to give you forever.”
– Nicolas Sparks

I’m often silent on social media when it comes to my affection, my feelings for my significant other. My partner, my boyfriend.

He is the one more likely to take a photo of us than I would. He is more likely to be able to describe us with metaphors, despite him being the artist, and I the writer.

It is not because I want to hide him and the part he plays in my life; quite the opposite, I want to share that with the world.

But I am often silent because I could never find the words appropriate enough to describe how important he is to me. He once asked me if I could ever describe the way I think who he is, and I replied that I wasn’t sure – and if I could, it might not be for years.

Because how do you start explaining how you feel to the man you never expected to fall in love with?

I never expected to fall in love with a man I enjoy having philosophical discussions at 8 o’clock in the morning on the way to uni. I never expected to fall in love with a man, whose imagination colours his story so that I get lost in them.

A man who, when I doubted myself, reminded me to believe in myself. When I’ve been down, he’s made me laugh.

A man who willingly sat through my brokenness and darkness, and helped me become a little bit more whole. A man who challenges me to be a better person.

A man who without judgement or negativity, and with such large patience, holds onto me when my anxiety causes a breakdown.

A man who loves me for who I am.

Last year, in a year surrounded by darkness, I found a man I never expected to fall in love with. Yet fall in love with him I did, and it’s made me a better person for it.


liebeheart dear life letter

Dear life.

Dear life,

It’s been a while since I last wrote. I’ve had my head down to the grindstone, as the saying goes, making sure I meet deadlines. So my life has become all about the routine. Getting up at the same time, having a morning tea, making a tea in my keep cup to drink on my way to prac. So, nothing at all exciting. Nothing adventurous. (Yes, I know you’ll be saying – that’s just a matter of perspective.)

By the time you get this letter (ha, such a cliché saying in a letter), I’ll be finished with prac. In fact, I’ll have slept the weekend away – that’s how exhausted I feel right now. I’m trying to keep perspective on my uni workload, but I’m finding that hard to do right now. A small part of me is questioning whether I’m doing self-mental-health-care right if I feel this exhausted, and that’s just one of many questions I have for you.

So, next time we meet up I’ll ask you all of them. They’re too many for this letter. But one question I’ll ask now – am I doing okay? I know it’s a funny question, but I need an outsider’s perspective – I get so caught up with the what ifs, that my perspective gets blinded most times.

You asked me in your last letter, if I am loving uni, and the answer is yes, I am loving uni right now, I travel down by train every day and see the beach every day. Although that part of the trip is always accompanied by a pang of longing – I’d rather be soaking up the salty air and the sand between my toes than be sitting in an 8:30-morning lecture. I’ve never been a morning lecture person.

I’ve got several assignments coming up in quick succession, something that I’m not terribly looking forward to because it means the same-old routine of long hours studying, early starts and the creeping exhaustion.

Although, I’m also not looking forward to that same-old routine because I’d rather be enjoying the nice weather we have right now. You can tell summer is slowly coming to an end – days aren’t boiling hot anymore, instead, the weather is more commonly the warm temperatures mixed with the endless blue skies. So I’m trying to make the most of it by walking or running most days.

Talking about running, I ran the other day after months of not running. Ran a 1km! Hurrah! (Walked 800m though, so win some, lose some.) This is the part where I write the same old promise I make every year – “I’ll try to run more regularly, and it’s the perfect weather to start this.”

We’ll see how well that works out this year.

Anyway, I am writing whilst I’ve got food in the oven, so I have to finish here. I’ll try to write soon.

Lots of love,

Sophia x


home liebeheart

Home, Rain and Soil.


Over the past weeks, I’ve been re-reading Frank Herbert’s Dune. It is considered the godfather of the sci-fi realm, despite its storyline (a disinherited prince reclaiming his land and restoring honor to his befallen house) almost being as old as time.

As I’m reading about the world of Arrakis – a harsh, unforgiven planet where there is nothing but sand and water is a luxury – I’ve been thinking about my home. About growing up in a country where summer water restrictions exist, where summers stretch to almost 6 months.

As I’m following the journeys the characters take forced to move homes in a large game of politics, I’m thinking about what makes a home and how home is a funny concept.

It’s a building with walls, floors, doors and a roof to keep you sheltered from the weather, and yet the concept is so much more.

I’m asking myself, what makes a home, a home?

Does a building make a home? Or do you make a home out of a building?

People say home is where the heart is. Home is where I feel safe, with the people that I love, a place where I can put my roots in the soil. It is where the smell of coffee, mixed with homemade dishes, mixed with the sound of German rising and falling in the background.

Home is the place where my roots have found themselves a place where they can grow.

It’s the feeling of sea breeze over the Indian Ocean. It’s the late night cuddles and talks about life with my man. Home is the smell just after it rained. It’s the soil of my plant pot that I’m trying to nurture.

Home is what I’ve made in the four walls of my rented apartment. Home is the feeling of lying in the hammock, with the sun shining through the leaves in the garden of my childhood home.

Home is where I am safe, surrounded by those whom I love.

As I’m thinking about all this, I’m reminded of a passage in Dune. I’m reminded how interconnected we are all are, how people can make up what “home” means for us.

There stand I, [Thufir] Hawat thought.
‘Thufir, what’re you thinking?’ Paul asked.
Hawat looked at the boy. ‘I was thinking we’ll all be out of here soon and likely never see the place again.’
‘Does that make you sad?’
‘Sad? Nonsense! Parting with friends is a sadness. A place is only a place.’ He glanced at the charts on the table. ‘And Arrakis is just a place.'”
Dune, Frank Herbert, p42

So next time someone asks me how I’d define what a home is, I’d answer like this:

“A place is a place, a home is what you make out of that place and the people you meet.”

Sophia x