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Fearless blue giraffe

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I am a fearless blue giraffe.

As soon as I saw it, 

I wanted to adopt it. 

The sentence. 

 

I’d also adopt a giraffe.

A pocket-sized one.

Or even a horse-sized one. 

I’d adopt its attitude, too.   

 

Fearless freedom, fluffy fur. 

A mantra looping in my mind.

Low volume, rhythm high.

Brown. Blue. Yellow-mellow.  

 

Stretching my neck

I can spot a feeling.  

It smells of ginger candles. 

It tastes like chocolate fudge.    

 

Tell me the truth, day or dark. 

I’m not scared of finding out.

Green. Orange. Lemon pie.

Fearless. Blue. Giraffe.

 

Happy World Giraffe Day! This poem is dedicated to all wonderful giraffe creatures on this planet. It was inspired by a sentence from Lily King’s novel “Writers & Lovers”: I am a fearless blue giraffe. 

How to study in German: A leaky language matter

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Today, I met a dear friend for coffee. As he asked me about my plans for later in the evening, I tripped over my words. I wanted to say I’d be studying, which in German is often referred to as “etwas für die Uni tun”, the literal translation being “to do something for uni”. 

I must admit I feel very much repelled by stating these words. Simply because I don’t agree with them. I’m not doing something for uni. Or for work. Or for any other project. I’m doing something for myself. I feel that by stating I’m doing something for whatever, I’m being externally controlled instead of acting on the premise of my very own will power. 

I strongly believe that the words we choose to express ourselves shape the way we feel about our lives. I’m blessed to draw from a pool of several languages. Thereby, I’m able to compare alternative perspectives

I like the rather neutral statement in English: I’ll be studying. To study. It’s a verb. Quite straightforward. Same as in Spanish (estudiar) and French (étudier). The equivalent expression in Turkish would be “ders çalışmak”. Literally, this means “to work on lessons”. I’m very fond of that expression because it indicates an active behaviour, an effort leading up to something, instead of the external control I perceive when pronouncing the German words stated above.

In German, the verb “studieren” actually does exist. But it means “to study” in a much wider sense, as in “being a student” and “attending university”. So I’d rather stick to the Turkish way of expressing myself.  Next time someone asks me about my plans, I’ll say something along the lines of: “I’ll be learning my lessons. For uni and for life.” 

How about YOU? Do you also sometimes lack accurate expressions in one language or another? How do you deal with such “leaky language matters”? I’d love to read about your experiences. 

Nostalgia

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Nostalgia remembers

the bright sunny days.

Seems like yesterday. 

She sometimes lies.

But generally, she’s shy. 

 

Nostalgia sits by the window

long hair soft as silk.

Like an Izmir girl’s. 

It covers her breasts.

But never her heart. 

A matter of perspective

© aNadventures

what I love about summer is wearing no jacket

what I hate about languages is mixing them up 

what I love about lipstick is feeling invincible

what I hate about mornings is getting up

what I love about books is diving in

what I hate about soup is that it’s not pizza 

what I love about giraffes is their evolution

what I hate about phones is when they ring

what I love about Turkey is beyond words

what I hate about life is feeling stuck 

what I love about Bob is that he’s always right

what I hate about endings is starting all over

what I love about poetry is between the lines

what I hate about happiness is playing hide and seek

what I love about languages is their worlds

what I hate about summer is sticky thighs

what I love about phones is the right person calling

what I hate about love is when it hurts

what I love about love is its timing

On productivity

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“I hope you’re having a productive day and that you’re getting everything done that you planned to.” This statement by a dear friend triggered me today. In fact, it was the word “productive” that triggered me. 

“How’s your day been?”

– “Good, actually, I’ve been very productive today.”

The above is just a random conversation I encounter on a regular basis. 

Uggghhh, whenever I hear the term “productive”, I feel blood rushing to my head. I feel a little punch in the stomach. My hands turn into fists and I have to take a very deep breath. It makes me feel like I’m only good enough if I get stuff done, if I achieve things. If I’m being productive. I get the feeling that my self-worth depends on productivity.

What does being productive even mean? Producing something? Turning myself into a product? A product of whom? Of society? Of myself?

I just looked up a definition of productivity, in terms of it being an economic and business concept: Productivity is “the rate at which a company or country makes goods, usually judged in connection with the number of people and the amount of materials necessary to produce the goods” (cf. Cambridge Dictionary).

Part of what puts me off this term is my assumption that I need to get things done just so that I can get even more things done. At least, that’s what first comes to mind when I hear the word: That I’ll never have accomplished enough. That there’s always more and more to tackle. 

I’m well aware that this is a personal aversion and that there might be other valid definitions or associations with being productive. Author and entrepreneur James Clear, for instance, is of the opinion that “[b]eing productive is about maintaining a steady, average speed on a few things, not maximum speed on everything.” I guess, it’s all a matter of perspective

One of the many things I enjoyed about my life back in Turkey is that I didn’t feel the pressure to constantly be productive over there. During the day, there were many occasions for me to just sit and be. There was time to sip coffee or tea with friends and to just immerse myself in the present moment. Sitting is socially accepted in Turkey. There is no need to be doing anything in particular at all times. I’ve described a situation with my flat mate in which I was taught to take my time over here. I’ve also written about “Six habits of a mindful life in Turkey” here

Why don’t I allow myself to “sit” in Berlin? It’s a relaxed city, after all. But somehow, sitting and breathing and just being don’t count as actual activities here in Germany. Whenever people ask me what I’ve been up to, I feel the urge to come up with something big, something equally important as writing a best-selling novel or winning a nobel prize. Why can’t I just say I watered the plants, I had a cup of tea, I just sat?

Just the other day, my dear friend Trixie admitted that she’d given in to a 1.5-hour nap in the middle of the day. On a weekday. The expression on her face seemed concerned while she made her “confession”. 

I’m dreaming of a world in which nobody feels bad for taking a nap. A world in which I can admit I’ve been sitting and that it will be perfectly fine.  

How about YOU? What do you associate with the word “productivity”?

Love letters

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Butterflies in your tummy won’t feed you. That’s the slogan of a postcard I’ve pinned to my fridge. It’s one of those Edgar Freecards, the ones that used to be available in cafés and bars. Usually placed in metal racks somewhere near the toilets. Remember?

Anyway. Butterflies in your tummy won’t feed you. I agree. But they can make you happy. Does happiness feed you? What makes you happy, anyway? As for me, love letters do. The ones with little hearts on top of the “i” letters. Love letters make me happy. 

When did I last receive a love letter? And from whom? The last love letter I remember receiving was one from my own pen. Words blown my way as light-heartedly as a feather. Words to encourage myself. No romanticism, but authentic trust. Trust in the universe and in myself. 

Building trust isn’t that easy. It’s like piling bricks. You create a tower by putting one brick on top of the next. You keep doing this until the tower starts to wobble. Then you have a choice to make: You can keep building and see if the tower persists. Or you can stop to prevent the tower from crumbling. That’s the thing with piling bricks. And with building trust. 

I trusted my first significant other. “You have faith in the relationship. You’re not afraid. I admire that”, he once told me. Back then, I didn’t understand what he meant. Why would I be afraid of the relationship? I felt trust. Towards him. Towards the bricks. That’s why I allowed the tower to grow. It became very high. That boyfriend wrote me several love letters. I think I still have them in one of the boxes where I keep the remains of my exes. Not their actual human remains, but the memories. 

I liked receiving love letters from him. And I’m wondering when I’ll receive the next love letter. Nowadays, I read WhatsApp chat histories. Some of them also give me butterflies. But unfortunately, they won’t feed me, either. 

Rose

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You’re part of a crowd, a group, a colony. Now you’re standing by yourself. Still close to your relatives but in a separate vase. A vase may be too big of a word. You’re standing in a tiny glass, stretching your neck towards a sunlamp. Do you feel lonely? What are you thinking all while bending towards the light? 

You’re beaming, blazing in pink. There’s no trace of a thorn on your body. You’re perfect without mercy. How do you protect yourself from danger? What do you do when anyone gets too close? 

You’re aiming high, I can tell. You’re making an effort to stand upright. You want to understand your surroundings. You want to face them. And yet, you’re turning your back to the crowd you originally came from. 

One of your leaves is staring at the ground. It hasn’t fallen, yet. It will last another while, I can feel it. You’re getting old. How are you handling it? What will you do once you’ve faded?

Do you wish for a future on the compost? Or do you prefer becoming a dry flower decoration? Maybe you’re up for the closet, jumping into a lavender sachet?  Don’t you worry about that just now. A second blossoming is yet to come, I know it. 

You were the only one of your kind in the bouquet. That’s why I put you in a special place. In your glass, next to your family of origin, you’ve been drawing a smile on my tired face for days. I want to thank you. And I wish you, as well as me, much strength to carry on.

Travels near and far

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Berlin, we were meant to be.

Hamburg, you had me in tears. 

Krakow, I’ll be back soon. 

Madrid, please wait for me. 

 

Munich, oh well. 

Bogotá, back to the roots.

Barcelona, bonding strangers

Izmir, hundreds of stories to tell. 

 

Porto, forever in my heart.

Verona, dreams come true.  

Bibione, mi manca il tuo sole. 

Budapest, counting coins all smart. 

 

Cologne, full of surprises. 

London, I changed my mind. 

Albufeira, a toast by the coast. 

Zurich, chocolate in all sizes. 

 

Granada, beauty beyond words

Montréal, bonjour, hi

Lisbon, taste of pastry and wine. 

Where to next?, I wonder. Goodbye. 

 

How about YOU? What’s a travel destination you’ll remember?

 

 

Things I’ve learnt from being friends with myself

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How to snooze the alarm in my mind

and take a moment to breathe. 

Nourishing my soul with consciousness

How to put lotion on my feet, 

the ones carrying me through life. 

Moving forward, step by step. 

How to celebrate my half-birthday

and every day. 

Raising my glass to the ups and downs. 

 

When to cancel plans Read more…

Starting a new cycle

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March 22, 2014. That was seven years ago. It was a Saturday. I boarded a plane from Izmir to Berlin, returning to my home town of choice after having lived in Turkey for 1.5 years.

Most cells of the human body are replaced by fresh cells within seven years, on average. So it’s safe to say I’m not nearly the same person I was back then. I’m a new person in flesh and blood. But I’ve also renewed myself mind- and soul-wise. I’ve changed on so many levels. Where to start? 

I consider myself richer than seven years ago. Richer in experience, patience, knowledge, self-confidence, compassion and emotional bonds. 

In the past seven years, I’ve experienced reverse culture shock and readaptation. I’ve earnt a second diploma and worked with different companies in various fields. I’ve fallen in and out of love. I’ve invested in durable friendships. I’ve dealt with health issues and have established healthy routines. I’ve decluttered both my flat and my soul. I’ve enjoyed adventures near and far. 

In the past seven years, I almost moved to Switzerland. I learnt Italian. I walked the Camino Portugués. I attended the Carnival in Barranquilla, Colombia. I enrolled in a Masters Programme in Creative Writing, a life changing decision. I kept up this blog and I developed a passion for poetry

In the past seven years, I returned to Turkey twice. I’ve seen dear friends getting married and having kids. In the meantime, I’ve been accomplishing missions of my very own kind. I’ve even done things my teenage self would have been proud of such as expressing my feelings. 

I’ve come to deeply cherish my new self. But my new self wouldn’t be myself without my old self. In the last few years, I’ve come to deeply bond with all parts of myself. The childish and the adult ones. The sad and the euphoric ones. The vulnerable and the strong ones. All of these and many more make me who I am. 

Like a giraffe, I’ve been constantly stretching my neck. I’ve been growing with every challenge, with every day. Lately, I’ve been thinking about circles a lot. About cycles, to be precise. There’s the female cycle. There’s the lunar cycle. And there’s the cycle of the four seasons. Life isn’t linear. It’s circular. Even if it seems rectangularly reluctant, at times. So, here’s to an accomplished seven-year-cycle. Here’s to being a fresh human being. Here’s to a new start. 

How about YOU? What comes to mind when you reflect on the past seven years?