On happiness: Don’t search for love, search for yourself

One-night stands, friends with benefits, half-boyfriends, even full-time relationships. All of them encountered in vulnerable times, all merely serving as distractions from the real issues.  

This morning YouTube suggested I watch a TEDx Talk titled ‘Searching for love to escape ourselves’. My initial reaction was pure surprise and disbelief. Is it that bad? Is YouTube offering me relationship advice now? But then I remembered about yesterday’s night. Snuggled up in a blanket, laptop on my knees, armed with some Ben and Jery’s ice cream I got ready for my dive into the deep waters of YouTube. Just me alone, paddling through never-ending gallons and gallons of videos. I was, after the fashion of many explorers before me, on a quest, a quest for figuring out why all my relationships sucked so much. Why I always felt more stressed, than relaxed and cared for. You won’t be surprised by the revelation that a bucket of ice cream and a few glasses of wine later I finally slammed the monitor shut, moved from my couch to the bed and feeling more confused than before, fell asleep. Now, having described, how exciting and overly social life I live, I’ll return to why I’m writing all of this. I decided to watch the video. What’s the worst that can happen?

Honestly, it was quite a surprise how much the video managed to resonate with me. This brown-haired woman in grey dress standing in the big red circle, was me. Talking about herself and her life story, I felt as though she was describing me. She was in the place I am in now. Lost, confused and just desperately looking for a quick fix, for a distraction, a new relationship, new crush. Just something you can submerge yourself in. She wanted to avoid facing her deepest fears by creating a continuous succession of diversions, keeping her brain just busy enough solving her relationships and sexual escapades, so it had no time to bring up her own issues. Sex, love and dating were a means of pushing the pain and insecurities, she carried deep inside her core, even deeper. She was shielding herself from streams of agonising anguish and despair that would come out given an opportunity.

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever felt empty? Incomplete? Lonely? Unappreciated? Like you’re lost in the whole wide world? … and let me ask another one. What did you do in those times of vulnerability, fear and confusion? Did you take time to stop, focus on what it is that’s making you feel this way, where do those fears originate from, what awakens and fuels them…or did you solve it by half a bottle of red and a good-looking blond that just happened to be the same level of neediness as you?

Admitting to myself that I may be guilty of similar practices wasn’t easy and truth be told, it even took me two tries to finish the entire video. Dismissing it initially, after first five minutes, due to the immense feeling of discomfort it awakened. However, my curiosity got the better of me in the end and I came back.

I hate to say it (yes, ‘hate’ cuz it means I must look at my past from a different angle and feel a bit stupid), but I think she is right. Looking back at the last five/four years of my life, it is clear that I was always running from myself. Leaping over emerging problems and galloping away from the pain, self-doubt and confusion that I carried inside. Being on a constant search for something, somebody who’s presence in my life will magically solve all the problems.

You cannot find your place in life through someone else. Although I was too scared to admit it to myself, I’ve known this for long time. Once you get on board with this fact, the hard part comes. If you really decide to face your ‘inner demons’ you might find yourself on a similar path to the lovely Hayley (TEDx speaker), going through moments when you’re alone at home, crying your heart out and feeling deserted by everyone. You yearn for nothing more than that good old ‘plaster’, ‘quick-fix’, that rapid means of gratification and instant confidence boost. Honestly, it sounds like a hellish process. However, I am at a point in my life, where I find myself more than willing to give it a try. To be completely frank, it is the only way forward at this moment. I dread another relationship entered at an extreme point of neediness, one that won’t deliver on fulfilling me. No relationship can do that, for that is a task resting fully on my shoulders and my shoulders alone. What’s more, if I were to enter another relationship sometime in the future, I want to be the loving and happy person my partner deserves. Therefore, I have decided, rather impulsively, to follow Hayley’s path. To abstain from relationships, dating and one-night stands and to learn more about myself, what I want and what makes me happy. I aim to become an observer of my own behaviour, seeing how I react to situations and people and notice when I feel truly happy and relaxed. I want to find out what holds me back and how I can overcome these obstacles. Most importantly I want to be kind and loving to myself so I can offer the same love and acceptance to everyone around.

The truth is that there’s no time to lose and if you want to implement a change in your life, be brave. Don’t wait for ‘the right time’ to come, for there is never ‘the right time’ for anything.  The promise I make to myself is to face the pain inside me, find its source and deal with it head on. It might not be an easy journey, but I’m dead sure the result will be worth it.

… wish me luck ^_^

Finding joy in the small things: Botanical Garden Brno

A while ago I made a promise to myself to try to look for the little everyday things that bring me happiness. To reflect on those moments of joy and be grateful for them. Well one of those moments came yesterday, when I visited botanical garden in Brno.

Leaving the apartment with just a purse and camera in my backpack I climbed into a half-empty tram. Immediately I saw the opportunity. Empty seats and no one to fight over them with? Well that’s a win. I slid into the first one next to me, the tram started moving and I looked outside. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon, streets mostly deserted as few people had enough energy to get out of the house after their busy week. The sun was shining bright and painting everything it touched just a bit too orange. Trees began to change colours and fist artistically coloured leaves floated round.

Little pool outside the greenhouse

Getting off near the Botanical garden, there were just a couple of steps left to its entrance. I walked around an almost deserted outside part and headed straight for the Greenhouse. As I got closer I saw an old lady, holding the front door open for her granddaughter. The little girl was clearly refusing to enter, defiantly teasing that poor soul by pretending she was about to enter and then turning around in the last moment and running few steps out of her reach. Grandma rolled her eyes and a faint grin appeared on her face as she was trying to hold laughter back. She was clearly entertained by the situation as much as that little devil jumping up and down. However, she had to remain serious, because cashier lady was getting restless over all the cold air granny was letting in through the open door.

I came closer, took the door handle from her and pointed out that I’ll go after her. A moment of surprise crossed her face, but she understood in a second. Smiling and thanking me she walked in. The tiny girl, so fearless a couple seconds ago, stopped. Having lost sight of her grandma she reconsidered her current position and ran in. She slammed her weight into grandma’s legs and wrapped her small arms around her thighs. Letting her head fall backwards, under an awkward angle that might be life threatening for any adult, she flashed an expression of complete happiness upwards. This was met by a calm, loving smile from granny.

I’m not going to lie that was a pretty sweet moment and it caused me to walk around for the next hour with an idiotic smile on my face. But honestly, I don’t think the plants were bothered.

Here’s just couple more photos of plants…because I just like taking pictures of them (mainly because they don’t get camera-shy and tend to remain in one position).

Vienna: St. Stephan’s Adlerturm and Danube-Canal

Every time I find myself in Vienna, there is a couple of places I visit. St. Stephen’s cathedral being one of them. It is, together with graffiti-lined banks of the Danube-Canal, a venue where life is always present. I completely adore strolling around these places, admiring architecture of the former and endless creativity being showcased along the banks of latter.

This week I made my way to Vienna again as some matters demanded my physical presence. However, after that was sorted, I once again found myself standing in front of the monumental giant, head tilted back, eyes turned upwards. My admiration for the makers of this stunning piece of architecture is hard to express in words.

Having climbed the south, gothic tower about a year ago, I decided to explore the other viewpoint available. Following a short wait and a crammed ride in the elevator, was I together with four other tourists spat out to the tip of the north tower, better known as Adlerturm. The first thing that hits you, walking out of the elevator is a strong wind. Not overpowering, but persistent – my personal recommendation is to bring a hat, especially if your ears get sensitive like mine do.

After couple seconds of digging around the insides of my backpack, I finally found it in a pocket of my jacket. I always put it there, so I don’t have to look for it (and then usually forget about it and go on a wild search anyway). With the danger of an ear infection eliminated, it was time to explore the view. And let me tell you, what a view it was.

Overlooking Vienna

Perched behind the rails, mouth open in awe you look into the distance. The city spreading in front of you in all directions, colourful roofs, spiky spears signalising the presence of churches and shiny modern buildings reflecting the clouds above. You walk around the tower, walk up a few stairs and get to the main viewpoint. Despite knowing that the streets below you are full of life, you feel oddly serene. Fellow tourists, happily snapping away selfies from this angle and that other one, laughing and making funny faces. Looking down below, humans on the square are smaller than ants. Tiny dots freely moving around, cheerfully going on about their lives, trying to enjoy those last few sunny days of this year’s autumn. You grab your camera and snap a few pictures as well.

Prater in the distance

One, at least for me, prominent advantage the north tower has, is how close you manage to get to the roof of the cathedral. It may not seem like it from the pavement, but the colourful ornaments decorating it are constructed entirely out of ceramic tiles, carefully layered one on the other. Another interesting feature, is the notable steepness of this tile roof. Surprisingly, at least for me, it results in the roof being mostly cleaned on its own by rainfall and keeps itself free of snow during winters. Pretty neat.

When you had enough of the serene, meditative views, an elevator with a lovely chatty guy operating it transports you back down. You are released back to the cathedral and can go on exploring its beauty for a bit longer. I turn around though, for there is another place awaiting my arrival. Exiting through the main door I go right and join the stream of tourists flowing in that direction. After successfully joining in, you can allow your brain to relax and simply let yourself be carried in a more or less straight line towards the next destination. Stopping on the way in one of the numerous coffee houses or just heading straight ahead, you arrive on a wide road, running along the bank of Donau-canal. Descending on either side of the canal is worth it. However, I have my preference and decide to cross to the other side prior to descending to the promenade.

It is still early in the afternoon and because everyone is busily working away, path stretching across this bank is not that busy. A few fellow strollers slowly walking down the pathway. They pass numerous paintings on the walls, some of them real works of art that inspire and entertain you. Different styles, patterns and messages, all creating a colourful patchwork you cannot take your eyes off.

My favourite part is, where unique sculptures and various installations are placed. Resting underneath a canopy of brightly coloured autumn trees.

Fingers crossed

Walking through this open-air exhibition with no entrance fee, you always find new pieces, for the art is always changing here as one painting layers on top of another. So, if you like something, don’t feel shy to take a picture, you might not find it next time. And that’s what I do as well, slowly wondering down the path, stopping here and there to capture something funny, beautiful, witty …

First fall leaves gently slide through the air, making their way to the ground and I walk on and on.