Words of Wisdom with Oma • Adulting 101

Hello world,

Today I want to talk about my grandmother, my Oma.

Oma is turning eighty-five today. She has seen so many things in eighty-five years: She was born at the dawn of the Third Reich era, experienced the horrors of WWII, was separated from her father for a long time because of war captivity, was separated from her family for an even longer time because of the division of Germany and witnessed many important events we read about in history books today.

Oma is generous, funny, and smart. She has always been multi-talented, but as she has now entered a new stage in her life in a retirement home, she continues to amaze me with her newly found passions, ambitions, and zest for life.

On my recent visit to Oma (and Opa), I took the opportunity to ask her twenty questions I have never asked her before.

20 Words of Wisdom with Oma

Tea or coffee?

coffee

Sunset or sunrise? 

sunrise

Bungee jumping or skydiving? 

skydiving

Dogs or cats? 

cats

City or country? 

city

Favorite birthday ever? 

#80

Favorite author?

T. Mann

Favorite city? 

Barcelona Rome

Favorite flower?

forget-me-nots

Favorite smell?

yellow roses

Most important characteristic?

cheerfulness

Who was your first kiss?

Opa Günther

What is the secret to a long lasting marriage? (Oma + Opa = 58 years)

tolerance

What would you major in now at university?

art history

If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be? 

A. Merkel

What is your most precious material possession? 

golden necklace

What should always be in my pantry?

water

Which nickname you ever got was your favorite?

big girl (Oma is really short)

What do you think the world needs?

insight

How would you summarize your life? 

no ragrets regrets (*edit by the author)

Oma has lived eighty-five years on this earth. She has done a lot, seen a lot, said a lot, discussed a lot, and cooked a lot of good food.

Old people are often seen as a burden in today’s society. They are from a different age and may be more conversative and part of a different belief system. But they are also people, people full of wisdom and experience.

I used to work at a retirement home. One resident once said to me: “Isn’t it cool, how this house is made out of so many stories?” Our grandpartents are people full of stories who won’t be with us forever. So, dare to ask your grandparents for all those stories.

Ask them. That’s what most people forget to do anyways nowadays.

xo

My Bullet Journal • Adulting 101

Hello world,

Today I am here to talk to you about my bullet journal, because as a prospective adult it is important to be organized. Plus, bullet journals are so pretty.

What It Is

The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.

This quote is from the official bullet journal website. This ‘analog system in the digital age’ was created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer. Here you can see an overview of his successful system:

His idea was adapted by many people across the globe, who also chose different approaches. It is the biggest advantage: There are no limits and no rules. I encourage you to look it up on Instagram or Pinterest; There are so many inspiring ideas.

I started bullet journaling this January after spontaneously purchasing a black Moleskine soft cover in a dotted layout at the Cologne train station. I had been using the Moleskine calendars for years, but my bullet journal is so much more than any calendar, and thus I am not planning on going back. It has become my pensieve — Harry Potter fans, raise your hands — or my brain dump (if you are a philistine).

So, let’s begin looking at my bullet journal after 2.5 months of usage:

Set Up

Basically, a bullet journal is set up to track your past, organize the present, and prepare for the future. It is divided into an index, a future log, monthly logs, and weekly logs, (daily logs are an option), and additional pages. That is the basic structure; there is an infinite number of page ideas to be added.

The Index

I use the index to keep track of my tracker, so to speak. All my pages are numbered and logged in my index. Looking at it, you get an idea of my set up and additional pages.

The Future Log

The future log gives me an overview of the year ahead. If I need to check a date, this is very convenient. Especially, since I continually add my monthly and weekly overviews instead of having it set up in the beginning already.

The Monthly Log

My monthly log consists of a calendar with important dates, which are also explained below, and goals for the month. Additionally, I have my monthly gratitude log to practice thankfulness and my habit tracker to keep track of certain habits I want to maintain.

The Weekly Log

I do not do daily logs, because my weekly already satisfy me. In the beginning of the week I set up goals. My to do list of tasks not bound to a date is continually added to and continually checked off. During the semester most days are full to remind me of chores.

Additional Pages

I keep a lot of important pages in my bullet journal. As I mentioned before, it is my pensieve, thus I contains almost everything I want to keep track of. An example is my bucket list, however, there is much more. For example, I use it for:

  • list of books to read
  • list of movies to watch
  • my social media statistics
  • travel planning
  • university planning
  • my 5-year-plan
  • notes on sermons, workshops etc.
  • my running log
  • my favorite quotes
  • etc…

I love the system of bullet journaling because of these additional pages. It is all about making it your own, trying out different systems and adjusting them. It is a creative outlet and some real me-time every Sunday night, when I sit down with a mug of tea and some good music to set up the next week.

You do not have to be artistic to try out this system of organization. There are many journalers who are much better at lettering or drawing than me. There are just as many journalers who prefer minimalistic designs. Ryder Carroll himself does not do fancy headers.

Just make it your own.

I hope I could inspire you a bit with my bullet journal. Have it a go, if you like. It has already turned into one of my highlights of 2017. (Because I am a freak and love organization and calendars and lists.)

xo

My First Solo Trip • Adulting 101

Hello world,

Let’s talk solo travel.

I’ve traveled alone before, however it was always part of a program or meeting up with friends at the location. I have never been on my own from start to finish fully responsible for myself.

Admittedly, the prospect scared me a bit beforehand: Would I be lonely? Would I feel uncomfortable? Would I regret going and be stuck in a foreign country?

No!


Going on a trip all by myself turned into one of the best trips of my life. It was truly eye-opening and something I would recommend everyone, especially every woman, to do at least once. It might not be your way of travelling, but it also may be just what you have been craving unknowingly.

Let me thus clear up some wrong expectations and assumptions concerning solo travel (as a woman).

  1. Solo travel does not mean travelling lonely. I instantly made friends before even having the time to feel lonely. Everyone going abroad is naturally open and eager to meet new people, particularly if you or they are a solo traveler. I now have new friends from Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Hungary; friends I would not have made had I not gone solo.If you are still worried, there are a couple of ways to ensure meeting others:
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    Stay at hostels.
    Join tours.
    Stay active. Go out. Take classes. Get out there.
    Do not be afraid to walk up to people. There is nothing truly bad that could happen.
    English only. For all German tourists, please do not just find each other and stay together. Branch out.
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  2. No one cares, if you are by yourself. I ate alone several times, and nobody gave me any weird looks. Take a book or your cellphone along; you’ll be fine. We constantly overestimate the amounts of sh*t others give about us.
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  3. Going solo means ultimate freedom. I could do everything I wanted and nothing I did not want to. On some days, I could get up at 5am to hike up a mountain to catch the sunrise. On other days, I could decide to stay out and party. This concerns big decisions such as destinations as well as small decisions such as what to eat. Both add up to be important.Ultimate freedom is something I was not used to on trips. Each day, it was entirely up to me to make the most out of it. I love my friends, but not many of them love to hike up mountains, go to museums, spend money on good food, be outgoing, and go out. With friends, it always comes down to compromises. There were none on this trip.
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  4. Travel lightly and spontaneously. I traveled with carry-on luggage only and did not have a concrete plan for my stay in Edinburgh. A lot evolved on the go as I met other travelers. As in Canada, I could’ve also stayed in Scotland much longer with newly friends who invited me to. As in Canada, I was very tempted to do that.

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  5. Do not be careless with your freedom. Having no companion from home means no backup. So, do your research and listen to your guts. Say ‘no,’ if you feel uncomfortable. Plus, no one you’ve just met has to know that you are by yourself. It makes you vulnerable, thus it is wise to wait to share that information.
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  6. Go out with caution. Night life is an important social aspect, however, as a female solo traveler it is crucial to always stay in control. You will get offered drinks, and sadly many men think they thereby automatically buy some kind of entitlement. Thus, never drink enough to lose control; You should always be able to say no and find your way home.
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  7. Join organized groups. I did a tour through the Highlands, which was fabulous. Confined to an isolated bus or hostel, I got to know and love my fellow travelers a lot more. The tour may have been a bit more expensive, but it was definitely worth it for me. As was the Harry Potter Trail in Edinburgh and organized activities by the hostel. Those are aimed at solo travelers, so make use of them!
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  8. Re-invent yourself. No one know you abroad, hence you can be whoever you want to be. Although I am technically more German, I always introduced myself as Swiss, because Swiss have less stigma attached to them. I was also more outgoing than I would’ve been at home, because I knew I would unlikely ever meet these people again. You are under no obligation to be the person you were yesterday. This not only goes for solo travel, by the way.
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  9. Do not be afraid to ask for pictures of yourself. I have better pictures of myself from this trip than I do from others with friends, because I do not want to annoy them, and because we all do not want to seem too vain. Traveling alone I did not care about all that.Some tricks to get people to take pictures of you:
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    • Offer to take a picture of them. They will feel obliged to do the same.
    Be explicit. Tell them exactly what to do. Tell them to hold the camera straight with focus on you and however much background you want. I tend to overestimate people’s abilities. (Example on upper picture, I should’ve told my photographer explicitly to focus on me.)
    Joke about travel blogging. Funnily enough, this is a good trick. Joke about travel blogging poses, do a couple jokingly, and you will end up with great pictures.
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  10. Learn more about yourself. Take and embrace time spent on yourself. Reflect on what you are as a person. It may sound absurd, but I truly struggled to find alone time on my trip. Once others know you are going solo, they assume they have to take you in and that you want them to. Learn to say ‘no’ and spend time to get to know yourself.
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    The world is a beautiful place. I would never get anywhere if I always waited for someone to have the money, time, and emotional connection to join me explore it. I went solo after unsuccessfully looking for a companion (which does not mean I do not have friends!), but it made the trip into the trip I really wanted, beginning to the end. It was one of the best times of my life.

I cannot wait to go solo again.

Toss away your fears. The world is full of friends to be made, sights to be witnessed, and wonders to be admired.

xo

A Letter To My Younger Self • Adulting 101

Dear Layla,

Congratulations on starting school this year! You are five years old and have already lived in four different houses and two different continents; You are so cool!

I know you are very excited for what is to come in your life. I know you already cannot wait to be independent one day and move out, even though you have great parents. I know you have big dreams of your own apartment, exciting trips, and a cool job.

Let me begin by saying that you as a girl are very lucky to have been born in the late 20th century. Unless many women before you, you will have the right to make decision whether these be concerning politics, your career, or your spouse. In four years, you will move to a country where women did not even have the right to vote until thirty years ago!

Still, all of your dreams would be easier to achieve if you were a boy. Even fifteen years later. 
In the next fifteen years, you will often be reduced to your weight. In P.E. you will feel more comfortable in loose pants. Going out you will see boys scan your body and walk away.  Your friends will cry on your shoulder, because they gained weight.

In 2016, 66% of German women will still be unhappy with their body. Women’s confidence will be on a general decline, which will greatly affect them: 89% will opt out of important life activities if they do not feel good about their look on that specific day. Just because of their looks!
This has a lot to do with pressure from media. You will grow up with magazines, ads, and television telling you to look a certain way. They will tell you how to dress to ‘hide your problem areas’ and what to do to ‘keep him interested’ or to ‘get any guy’. Women in movies will all seem prettier than you.

69% of women will feel and suffer from a permanent pressure from the media in 2016.  Living in a modern country, you will be more aware of this pressure, however, you will face increasing tension to ‘be it all’ and ‘do it all.’ You will be pressured into taking sewing instead of crafting class. You will hear classmates say that as a girl it ‘is excusable’ to be bad at sciences or math. You will be in all-girls-class, because humanities are so much more popular with girls, since few girls are truly encouraged to pursue sciences.

In the next fifteen years, the gender pay gap in Germany will not change. Women will still earn 21% less than men on average. Only 18% of CEOs will be women, because half of us will work part time due to family reasons.

In fifteen years, a woman will run for president in the US. She will be called a witch, because she had a successful career and voices her opinion. She will lose to a man, who openly disrepects and degrades women.
In fifteen years, the world still has so many issues concerning women’s rights. Yes, we have made progress, and politicians are moaning about having to address women’s right again, but there is still a lot to be done. The word ‘feminist’ has turned into a slur, yet we must keep on fighting.

We must keep on fighting every day to achieve equal rights, a better body image, and more confidence for girls and women everywhere. Germany is far from perfect, but the situation is much worse in many other countries across the world.

Dear Layla, I encourage you to keep dreaming big. Keep dreaming of independence, a career, travels, and a good life, because you can and you will achieve those dreams. It will be harder for you, because you are a girl, but your life will also be extra cali fragilistic expialidocious, because you are a girl.

Keep being a bossy, nasty, proud woman, Layla.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Sources: The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report (2016); Vereinbarkeit von Beruf und Familie