A letter … about being rushed.

When  I was scrolling through Instagram stories, I spotted this image and it hit a chord. It hit a chord because it summed up how I feel when I’m feeling like I’ve been rushed (by life, or people, or a conversation). It also highlighted a recent lesson I’ve learnt and I thought I’d share it with you.

Source: @notesfromyourtherapist (Instagram)

It’s been quiet here on Liebe + Letters because I’ve had a sudden increase of my workload (almost two-fold) and have been a duck straddling water to keep above the water. This high pressure to get things done at a last minute has made me feel like I’ve been stuck in the eye of a tornado with deadlines, emails, tasks whirling around me at a far faster speed than myself. Cue a faster heartbeat, increase in adrenaline and stress levels.

I found it harder to fall asleep – my brain wouldn’t switch off. I need to come up with behavioural strategies to deal with this scenario. How do I make kids more engaged in this task? What do I need to do tomorrow? Set a reminder to contact a parent. On and on these thoughts went and in the end I became more exhausted. My mental health slipped and not surprisingly, I became sick.

After a few days of feeling directionless, it was a realisation I had whilst conversing with a friend that snapped me out of feeling rushed. I realised that I was being rushed, and it was to my own detriment. My brain was still processing all the extra changes and responsibilities, and I had not given myself time to slow down and properly process it.

In the middle of the vortex of being rushed, it’s easy to feel unnoticed, misunderstood and isolated. It is a lonely feeling seeing the world blur around you and it can get frustrating.

What helped me stop feeling rushed and more confident about my abilities was to call it out and acknowledge that being panicked would not help the situation. My mantra became “I am okay – there is enough time for what I need to do. Take a breath and have a look at the bigger picture.”

Taking a step back helped calmed things down and highlight areas I was overthinking. Calling it out helped stop the looping patterns that causes me to overthink. By the end, I could deal with my workload in a better way that wasn’t to my detriment.

Rushed is meant to be a temporary state, and I need to acknowledge that more. I’m working on steps on listening to my body more, listening to my anxiety less and slowing down to appreciate what I have. That’s my lesson that I learnt this week, and I’m hoping that it’s helped you too.

Yours,

Sophia

xx

Dearest little sister,

Watching you grow I’ve come to realise some things: a) it is interesting to have little sisters, b) some things never change and c) where the beep did time fly?

Watching you grow, learn to manage and overcome some big obstacles has made me proud as punch and ridiculously grateful to have a little sister like the one that I have.

It’s generally the older siblings to teach the younger ones, and whilst this is the case most times, I have also found that the younger ones can teach the older siblings a thing or two.

Growing up as an only child for half my childhood, one got used to “one-person” games, as well as learning to entertain oneself when bored.

For the other half of my childhood, I learnt when to share and when not to, that younger siblings can often be your best friend (irregardless of age gap), and how to establish a (loving) hierarchy of sibling authority. I also learnt to set up boundaries, and that younger siblings (when bored) can be really annoying when you’re trying to study for exams so you learn quickly methods to annoy one another without getting into trouble.

Yet I also learnt to view life through an energetic, opinionated point of view and through this lens, it taught how to relate theoretical awesome knowledge to young people.

Despite all the arguments, the tricks played on each other, I’m grateful for the friendship and close relationship with my sister. The discussions about Pokémon (what move is good, what Pokémon should I get, what name should I give it), the banter about life and the 10 minute laughing fits are some of the things I cherish most.

Time flies by quickly, siblings shoot up in growth spurts and once when they were shorter than you, they now tower over you (or are at eye level). Treasure the time spent with them because time goes quickly and life is short.

So, to my sister that looks like me but whose personality is so similar yet so different, I love you.

Yours,

Sophia

xx

Motivation and changing habits.

There are some things in my life that I want to do more often because of the positive impacts it has on me, but I find it hard to motivate myself to actually do it.

Take running as an example. I like running – once I get some great tunes going, I’m all set. I’ve got the gear, i just don’t have motivation.

I’ve never been a sporty person; I was the musical kid at school. Yet the days when dad and I would go cross-country training are some of my favourite memories and I actually enjoyed doing them.

I could go on with other examples, but what really is important is this: sometimes you need to put effort into it to do things that don’t come easy to you. Sometimes you actually need to just do it. Your body may be completely filled with nerves and you may feel ill at ease, most days you’re going to have to fight through that.

Something worth fighting for won’t come easily, but it is worth the effort you put into it and the motivation you get out of it.

Yours,

Sophia x

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,

Yours,
Sophia x

 

Dear 2017

Last year was a tough one for me personally.

It was a year of vulnerability, a year of losing things, a year of change. It was a year where I was diagnosed with depression, a year where my self-worth and self-confidence plummeting so low it became a year of wearing masks.

A year where it was easiest to believe in negative voices than in myself. Easiest to convince myself that because things outside my control were completely and irreversibly changed, I was worth nothing.

A year where I felt alone.
A year of darkness.

But in all that darkness, I found things again.

I found love.
I found my self-worth. I found my self-belief again.
I found light, just when I resigned myself to darkness.
I found my strength again.
I found my strength in my vulnerability.
I found strength in my words and most importantly, I found the strength within myself.

So, dear 2017, this year I am going to be vulnerable, I am going to be strong and brave.

This year, I’m going to surround myself and loved ones with love. This year, I’m going to walk a different road and grow into the person that I am. Be the storyteller that I am.

Yours,
Sophia x

Forgiveness.

In July 2015, I wrote a facebook caption forgiving the individual (or individuals) that broke into our car (twice).

I forgave them because I was taught to “forgive those who trespass against us.”

I forgave them, after spending several hours mulling on the problem, not just because my faith told me to but because I started to understand why my faith’s teaching focuses on forgiveness.

But before I continue with this blog post, I need to confess something – I dragged this example out of my Facebook archive not to share a pretty story but because in the conversations I’ve had over the past week, it turns out I haven’t learnt the lesson as effectively as I should have.

Recently, I reverted back to the selfish, self-righteous thinking that my forgiveness is key to the healing of others. And by doing so, my actions were hurting others.

For a while, for me, this meant forgiving others that trespass against us is all about those who hurt us. About forgiving them meant they can heal. That my forgiveness is an important, necessary part of their healing.

But I learnt that I was wrong. I learnt that following that line of logic was easier to follow because other people’s problems are sometimes easier to fix than my own.

Because, just like Prince Ea says, “people suffer when we place our views, our morals onto those living totally different worlds than us.”

“[Forgiveness] does not mean that we condone the actions of wrongdoers, or that there are no consequences, or that you should continue the relationship with an abuser. Forgiveness could mean that you have nothing to do with them ever again. Forgiveness is about your mental peace in your heart. Getting yourself out of your prison. Because forgiveness is about you, them.”

Sometimes forgiveness is a tool in breaking the violent cycle of hatred, of self-doubt and negativity. Sometimes forgiveness can make a difference to other person but most importantly, forgiveness breaks the internal, violent cycle of self-hatred to make a difference to your own mental peace of mind.

I forgave them, not condoning their actions or to say that their actions have no consequence. I forgave them because I needed rest in my heart. I needed to be at peace. Because my anger and hurt at that situation, at all of the frustrations caused by the inconvenience of leaving work early to ensure that someone was home when the RAC came by to fix the car, helped no one and caused more damage to myself and my loved ones, than to any strangers.

I learnt that my forgiveness is not the most important part of their healing. By assuming that they need my forgiveness to move on made me self-righteous, and without knowing it, I participated in a system of judgement, of anger.

I need to show grace and transformation, because just like Glen. H. Stassen wrote “Transformation and deliverance correct the vicious cycle of self-righteousness. Grace teaches peacemaking, not putting all the blame on others and building up hostility against them but acknowledging our own contribution to the problem.”

My faith teaches forgiveness, not just to ignore our own contribution, our hypocrisy towards problems, our own self-righteousness, but to include people in this community of love. It teaches us to name the wrong that occurred, facing it realistically and truthfully. It teaches us to overcome hate and the vicious cycle of vengeance, and it teaches to find empathy for the person, not the deed. In doing so, it teaches us to look at how our actions have hurt others.

But most importantly, it teaches us to establish a friendship with those who hurt us – because if we’ve excluded the person, then we haven’t learnt our lesson.

It’s a painful lesson I’ve had to re-learn over the past few months, and I can only hope to continue to walk in humble, repentant love and ask for forgiveness for the times I’ve tried to remove the speck out of my neighbour’s eye but ignored the log in my own eye.

Yours,

Sophia x

Dearest Opi.

liebe + letters blog photo (4)

Lieber Opi,

Mama reminded me last week that the fifth anniversary of your death came and went. I thought I’d be okay, but I spent the entire day thinking. Thinking of memories we made together. Thinking of how much I miss you.

I never thought that even after you passed away, you’d still teach me so much about life. How you teach me to strive for something, how to be better, how to love unconditionally, how to be quietly proud of loved ones. I never thought that you’d teach me why you loved Loriot, until now.

I never truly understood what it means to have an important pillar in my life to fall down so suddenly because you are not here. I miss you Opi, with every year that passes. But with every day, I understand that the pillar never truly fell down. Because you are still with me, every day. No matter where I go, you are with me.

I am reminded of you with the smell of freshly percolated coffee at breakfast time. When audiobooks are played during long car rides. I see you in my mother’s face. I am reminded of you when I bake Vanillakipferln.

You taught me to hold on tight to family, because life changes so suddenly. So I’ll do that. I’ll treasure my family, and all the memories made.

I miss you with every year that passes, but I know you will always be with me and for that I am grateful.

Deine,
Sophia x