Bring it Back

As became evident from my previous post, there’s a lot going on. I haven’t found a solution yet, and maybe I won’t, but I found the time to do what makes my soul sing. Mind you, I cannot carry a tune for all it’s worth- I even messed up on a friend’s recent “Happy Birthday” Whatsapp recording… I refuse to sing because I know I can’t. Not even Christmas songs or the aforementioned “Happy Birthday”. Alright, I don’t refuse, but it makes me extremely uncomfortable. However, I know that it brings pleasure to others – especially when you completely miss a few notes. My friend in Germany was very nice – though he sent me a video of him laughing at me in return. I loved it.

Besides not singing, I found the time to run and take photos. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not very passionate about running – I would never advertise it, but it’s also because I’m not very good at it. I am faster from time to time, then slower, but I always run. It helps me wind down from an office day and see the sights around me. But I need a goal. The next one will be the Malibu Half Marathon in November, and it’s inching closer. I feel prepared, although I don’t expect much, but I have faith in my body again.

Another friend of mine is a running coach in Germany. I saw her in Florida not long ago and in California a few years ago – we always run together when she visits. She sees me struggling when I’m huffing and puffing behind her while her heart rate barely scratches 145. Then she runs ahead of me and starts singing German drinking songs. It cracks me up so hard that I have to stop. I can’t help but laugh – it’s so random. But it takes your mind off of the effort your body is putting in. Your body can do it – you just have to take your mind off it. Easy like that. So I’ll be singing German drinking songs in Malibu soon.

That’s the thing about having faith in yourself – some decision like which country to live in, which side to choose, which career path to take… Those things take time. I do trust myself although I thought I didn’t. It just takes time. Time to get your mind frame out of the panic-mode of having to make a life-or-death decision if it’s not. And time to do the things that make your soul sing.

Photography does that for me. I still have a whole list of photos with ideas, possible examples, and sometimes I set out to shoot one thing and find something completely different. Actually, that happens all the time. I love that. It’s such a cliché, but photography helps me focus and un-focus. To just let my eyes and mind wander, pay attention to details, be silly. And then figure out the technology, play with settings, editing… It becomes a whole thing.

When it comes to stressful situations and you’re not a doctor in an O.R. who has to make that life-or-death call, taking a breath, taking time in general, but specifically to go where your passion(s) take(s) you, is vital. Either way, getting out, exploring and then returning to yourself helps immensely in the journey to trusting yourself again. I found that I could all along, but thought that I had lost it. But if I lose my marbles, at least I know running and photography will bring me back. And German drinking songs.

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Photo Travel Plan

I’ve been making a list (story of my life) of what photos I’d like to take of a certain place (ahem). It then occurred to me while watching a Nat Geo documentary that I could expand my photography bucket list… Why not? It’s never simply a photo, but the journey itself. The planning, the excitement, the boarding of a plane and getting to the first location, finding enough peace to enjoy it before planning the next stop. Here’s a first draft list of photographs for me to take (photos used here except for the feature image, which is mine, courtesy of Royalty-free (Create Commons CC0)  https://pixabay.com/ (until I can replace them with my own ;) ) :

Asia

Taj Mahal (I like reflections)

At the bottom of Mt. Fuji (which looks impressive by itself), there’s a forest called Aokigahara. I like abandoned and mysterious places and this forest is notoriously named “suicide forest”. People go in there with tents if they are still contemplating, and sometimes leave strings of colorful bands wrapped around trees to find their way back out in case they change their minds. It’s said to be one of the quietest and most eerie places on earth. Visitors without an agenda would rub each other’s backs down with salt upon exiting the forest in order to get rid of evil spirits that may have attached themselves in search for an escape.

Bamboo tree alley, Japan

Skyline of Shanghai

Rice terraces, China

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia

Myanmar

 

Europe

Manarola in Cinque Terre, Italy

Lavender fields in Provence, France

Santorini, Greece

Norway Fjords

Geyser in Iceland

 

South America/ Pacific

Easter Island/ Moai

Colorful homes Caribbean Sea

Salt Flats, Bolivia

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

 

Africa

Deadvlei, Namibia (ever since I saw “Cell” with Jennifer Lopez… creepy movie, great cinematography)

 

North America

Northern Lights, Alaska

Slot Canyons, Arizona

Chicago train tracks

Door County, Wisconsin

Yellowstone, Wyoming

24 and counting, with most destinations in Asia… One continent I haven’t been to at all, but am feeling more and more attracted to in photography and travel terms.

 

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 28: A journey

BaLAncing Your Passions

If you had asked me a decade ago what I was passionate about, I wouldn’t have had a clear response. In my early twenties, I was concerned with my studies, improving my foreign language skills and a marriage that eventually turned cold. Don’t get me wrong, that phase was necessary. Some things need to go in order to make room for new passions.

Movies and TV shows have always been my go-to. In the 80s and 90s, I recorded my favorite sitcoms on VHS cassettes and the first movie I watched at the theater was The Little Mermaid, I think. Back when grown­­­-­ups were allowed to smoke in movie theaters… in Germany. There was a button at each seat – if you pressed it, a waiter would come running and take your drink order. We always had Fanta Orange Soda.

That passion hasn’t changed. With the oversupply of shows and movies available through Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc., it is tougher to pick out the right ones, but when you’re determined, the right ones will find you.

Besides getting lost in those virtual representations of life, I liked being active. Physical education was one of my favorite subjects in school and I grew up playing tennis. I played all throughout High School and still occasionally pick up a racket, but my focus has turned to running and fitness in general. There is something about scraping at your physical threshold and pushing to become better. It’s frustrating when you feel that you’re not advancing, but so rewarding when you overcome that mental block. Just in time for the next one.

Writing about all of what has happened has helped me over the years, but I was mostly active in journaling and writing for our school newspaper (way back when). I still consider it a passion because it’s something I like to do and would like to improve.

Three years ago, I held my first DSLR in my hands and a new passion was born. Not right away because I had to figure out how it works and get over the frustration (that and passion seem to go hand in hand). I remember I went to a photo studio in Germany this one time to have my portrait taken to put on my resume. The photographer invited me back to have more photos taken with a friend of mine (my upstairs neighbor). It turned into the most hilarious event ever. The poor photographer had something else in mind and was aiming for a more erotic shoot. Little did he know that he had two absolute hyenas in front of his lens, laughing every time he instructed us to do something we clearly didn’t want to do. We thought we’d go with it, but it turned out anything BUT erotic. It was still fun and we laugh about it to this day. This is not how I got into photography though. Oh boy.

Each person is different behind the camera – that’s what makes it fascinating. Sometimes you look for something to be different on purpose, just to capture it and say “see, it’s not all the same”. I like how versatile it is. You can be in a crowd or by yourself. You can use the camera settings or edit post-shooting. You learn to be detail-oriented and shift your focus (hah, get it?!).

My biggest passion of all, however, is Los Angeles. I know, it only took me three blog posts to get back to my favorite topic. I love exploring LA, finding new places and just noticed that it rolls all my other passions into one: I run through it and exercise, love TV show recordings and movie premieres, write about it and take photos of it. LA can’t be explained. It just lets you be… And do your thing. You can blame the city all you want for your failure or praise it for your success; it won’t judge. It will just be there. Which is exactly what I like and need.

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 13: 5 Things you’re passionate about