Life is like the weather in Patagonia.

If you’ve ever been to Patagonia, you know what I’m talking about. Even if you haven’t, you’ve gone through life, and I’m sure it’s felt like this at some point.

This time is such a time. Stay safe!

You’ve checked the weather forecast and are expecting a fine day.

You open your eyes, being greeted by warm, balmy sunlight. You optimistically start into your day hike. The path is easy, some rocks are scattered, but you are feeling full of energy, ready to tackle any obstacles. Suddenly – a strong breeze hits you by surprise. You’ve heard other people talk about these tempestuous winds that seem to occur from nowhere. They’re infamous in Patagonia and can knock you off your feet. You stumble around a little, but keep going. The wind is strong, but you are stronger.

After all you listened and brought a windbreaker. And a down jacket. The cold is hitting your face, but you keep walking. It’s getting warmer again. Time to let go of some of your protective layers. 

You eventually turn into a valley that looks very hazy. This is the path to your destination. The good weather starts to fade and is slowly being replaced by fog and rain. You brace yourself for the weather. One layer after the other. Knowing that it’s never enough. As you’re walking further and further with the weather getting worse and worse you find yourself torn. Should you continue in this miserable weather? Will it be worth the struggle? Or should you simply turn back into the luring safety of the sunlight? You decide to continue because you want to reach your destination, the end of the trail. After all this is what you came here for. 

The rain stops for a bit. Then comes back. Time seems to stretch endlessly. An hour’s walk feels like a never-ending period of time. You really wonder why you’re here, but you simply keep going. The bad weather conditions are at their peak. You suddenly find yourself in a snowstorm just as you hit the end of the trail. And the final view is blurry and hazy. No trace of what you wanted to see. The walk seems pointless now. 

Except suddenly you remember that it is not only about the goal but also your way towards it.

So you put on a smile, walk back through the ice and snow that eventually turns into rain. You can see a bit of sunshine trying its best to break through the clouds. It succeeds for a minute, sending you a feeling of ease and warmth even though the rain continues lightly. It never really goes away, it’s always there, even when you thought it had just left. 

And then you head back, and suddenly you are overlooking a beautiful view. A view you had not appreciated before when you were fixated on your goal and only your goal. But now you’re taking it in fully. It looks mesmerizing.

Your heart lifts as did the clouds. You already forgot about the bad weather. Gratitude and joy are overwhelming you. Only your soaked shoes trace back to where you came from. You’re peeling off your protective layers, ready to enjoy and face the sunlight. Only to realize that rain & wind might come again. That’s what the weather in Patagonia is famous for after all. But you feel stronger now. You are not that scared of the weather anymore. Maybe next time there will be sunshine at the end of the trail. In Patagonia, anything is possible.

Life is like the weather in Patagonia.

Journal prompts ‘loneliness’

The other night I was meeting with my women circle. These are some very close friends to me and with whom I can share anything on my mind. We meet up regularly to discuss a topic of life that we have explored ourselves already or would like to explore more, e.g. ‘inner child, gratitude, anger, connection…’ One of our most recent topics was loneliness. We all felt that this has become such a prevalent topic for many of us with the pandemic. And not only that, it is a part of everyone’s life, which people don’t seem to discuss much.

Our meeting brought up some eye-opening questions and thoughts that I wanted to share. Below are some journal prompts, which you can write about or simply ponder over. Maybe you have someone to discuss these questions. I hope they will bring you more clarity or insights.

  1. Do you enjoy your own company?
  2. If you don’t enjoy your own company, why is that? / Why does it happen in some moments? Do you feel more lonely then?
  3. When do you feel the most connected?
  4. Have you ever felt lonely in the presence of another person /other people? Why was that?
  5. Do you lack close relationships or social interactions in general?
  6. Do you feel a certain lack of something other than company when you feel lonely?
  7. Do you feel low self-esteem when you are lonely, and if yes, why is that?
  8. What sensation in your body or feeling do you have when you feel lonely? Can you locate it in your body? If yes, you can try and sit with the feeling (in meditation) and divert your breath to it. Let it pass through and see how that feels.
  9. Have you developed any bad habits to cover up your loneliness or distract you from it?
  10. What has loneliness taught you?
  11. Can you think about the word loneliness with a positive connotation?
  12. Can you find gratitude for loneliness?

I’m not a professional in this field, but I’ve spent a lot of time looking into this topic. Simply writing down your thoughts can feel healing and bring relief. These questions have personally helped me, and I hope they can add to your life in this ‘loneliness pandemic’.

Stay safe!

Finding freedom in limitation

The pandemic has opposed a lot of limits to our everyday life. Many people have been feeling limited by the consequences. The word limit usually implies something negative. That there is a point after which we cannot progress. And progress is what gives people meaning in life. Progress means that there is always something new waiting for us. That no matter which situation we’re in, we will go on to a further stage with new challenges and delightful moments.

Our world has gotten fewer and fewer limits. You have unlimited choices of places to visit, people to meet, entertainment to consume, subjects to study. We are bombarded with information that wants our attention through every webinar, YouTube channel, podcast, self-published book, blog (like this one ;)), magazine, Netflix show…

The pandemic has shifted this situation a little. We became limited in where we could go, what we could purchase and who we could spend time with.

We started feeling a limit in our personal freedom.

Freedom has turned into my most significant value over the years. I’ve wanted to be free of anything and anyone ever since I set out into the world, ready to become an endless explorer. Traveling limitless across the globe, I felt like the world was my home, and there would be no limit to where I could be and what I could explore.
This sounded like a perfectly sound idea when I started. However, it didn’t make me as happy as I had anticipated. On the contrary, I became restless, feeling FOMO in ‘countries I haven’t visited yet’ and ‘languages I don’t speak yet.’ Chasing country after country, language after language, I never found rest. There was never an ‘I have made it’ moment – because there were no limits as to how much as I could explore
(sure there are limits to the language and countries, but that’d be far-fetched to say that I would get to that).

This realization left me depressed. It felt like running after a goal that moved further and further away, the more you chased after it. The more you see, the more you realize you haven’t seen. And the more languages you learn and speak and dive into the world of polyglots, the more you notice that you’re only scratching the tip of the iceberg.

The pandemic has been a blessing to me in this regard. Knowing that moving around the globe is not encouraged and partly impossible has given me a feeling of inner peace. I am not necessarily in the country I was hoping to be, but that is not what makes this any less satisfying. I am feeling a limit in my vagabond lifestyle, and I sincerely appreciate the experience of it. I have spent more time inside reading and writing the last months than ever. Knowing that there was nowhere to go, no coffee shop to hang out it, no meetup to socialize with people at, no ‘store’ to check out, no ‘off-the-beaten-path destination’ to check out has been liberating. I found real freedom in that limitation. This limitation freed me from thinking I ‘should’ be at other places and wasn’t OK where I was. Instead, I looked at what was right in front of me and made the most of it. Sure, I felt lonely and bored at times. But somehow, overall, I was glad that I finally had something that put boundaries to my moving around.

I have noticed things that had been right close to me that I would have never noticed if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. My family and how similar we are. My friends whom I know from before I set out into the world and who still keep in touch. Living in an area that I used to call ‘my second home’ when I was a child. A job that gives me something valuable to occupy my time with. Less social obligations that make me turn back to connecting with my friends all over the world.

What has this limitation taught you? Have you been limited in a way that felt very frustrating, but that led you to discover something unexpected?

Progress is inevitable, and as we have seen, the scope of the pandemic’s limitation has been moving back and forth. I am trying to see the current restrictions as a sort of intervention to make me reflect on my current path and to see a more limited version of it, something I had always wholly been against.

As with every concept, there is always an opposite side to it. Maybe this is a suitable time to see what we can make out of the limits that have been ‘imposed’ onto us.

If you have ever done a guided meditation against anxiety, you will most likely have run across this sentence: You are OK, right where you are. This statement had always seemed quite vain to me. This year and the more the pandemic stays part of our life, the more I am finding some truth in this sentence. It isn’t speaking about an absolute limit but about the moment in time that we’re finding ourselves in. There might be a limit right now, but it is OK to be in it.