The Flaming mountains, dirty shoes and edelweiss flowers

Waking up in a room with a view like this.

As Goethe quoted “A picture book come alive “ is the the best way I can describe this little town in the Bavarian Alps. I had no idea what is this place all about and I was totally clueless. All I know is that we’re going somewhere near Garmisch-Partenkirchen . While on the road,the element of suprise was there for sure and as the days went by, I am just glad that we visited this place. We spent 4 days in Mittenwald and Garmisch-Partenkirchen area and there are bunch of things that really stayed in my memory.

Someone asked me “Why do you always go to the mountains?” I thought, why not?

For me, mountains are so special as beaches are gems in my life, they have such magic to them that nothing substitute. I think ,nature absorbs boredom and everything. It’s another world up there. I wrote here in my Blog how many times nature provides solitude and peace for me personally. I always love a great adventure but somehow I am always guilty that I am scared of heights and altitude. It really takes time to get used to all the deadly curves in the high Alpine roads and the crazy mountain culture. Maybe it is the fact that mountains are can be so dangerous or maybe it is because they make me feel so small, both figuratively and physically speaking.

I was even bewildered seeing myself that finally now I have proper mountain shoes! This is really what expat life does to me.

Tired feet and dirty mountain shoes

I felt that even if I don’t normally climb the mountains so to speak, the mountains really has a way to call you, its like wanderlust.

Beautiful small villages and towns with ornate walls are tucked in at the foot of the Alps

As a parent of an active toddler, we visited many playgrounds that are way up in the mountains and I really find that super exciting. The views pays it all plus the children really have unforgettable experience as well as eating in restaurants with the panoramic views of Glaciers and mountains covered with snow! I have this feeling that all my problems in my life dissolve when I am around them or that life slows down a bit . All that I can tell you is that after spending time surrounded by them, my views about everyday routines were changed. For me, its priceless just to drink my cup of coffee surrounded by these gigantic peaks. It’s pure luxury for me because I don’t have them everyday.

A charming find from the valleys

The mountain views we have from our balcony everyday and the richly ornamented houses especially in Mittenwald’s inner city (or Obermarkt) are really worth the effort. I really wonder if the people living there know how lucky they are.

View of the mountains from our balcony, not a bad birthday threat, right?

In Mittenwald, we rented an apartment with a direct view of the mountains (Karwendel) in our balcony. I think its definitely better than a penthouse view! It’s like having a giant wallpaper changing non- stop. I can’t forget how it looks in any time of the day. At one time covered with clouds, on a rainy day, dawn and dusk and one time with the full moon hovering over it! In the surrounding countryside, the scenery of the Wetterstein and Karwendel peaks constantly changes and one lovely afternoon, it looks like flaming and turns to burning orange! The feeling can be surreal that I can watch it nonstop.

Whenever I see these mountain peaks it directs me to a goal.I wanted to see and explore more but I always wondered how it is to be on top. I can still remember the time we are sitting on a cold winter day on New Year’s day in Fulpmes in Schlick 2000 where we have the snow capped mountain views for hours while I watched my daughter playing with all the skis. It’s becoming a habit now that we celebrate special occasions with mountain views! This summer, my five- year old daughter had her first walking stick when we trek up to view the Krimml Waterfalls where we reached up to 1,390 m (Bergerblick Platform) and wandering and playing through the Mooserboden at 1,200 meters. I think we are getting used to these altitudes more often. What is even fascinating is that mountains nowadays are not intimidating because of the high technology lifts that brings you up in minutes!

The mountains are calling and I must go…
Watching the clouds dissapear from the peaks is magical, like a time relapse!
The elusive mountain flower –the Edelweiss ( Leontopodium nivale)

It’s a surreal feeling when I finally got to see the Edelweiss flowers which are totally highly treasured and valued. The Edelweiss flower symbolizes the Alps and prefers rocky limestone places of about 1,800–3,000 metres (5,900–9,800 ft) altitude. Now I understand why its called the cliffhanger’s flower!

Don’t look at the whole mountain take it one piece at a time…This is something you will come to understand. You will learn to never give up; to know that the reward will be worth the work it takes .
Mountains that teach me to value the small luxuries in life. It taught me how to treasure a great jacket to protect me from cold winds and chill.
I’m sure, every mountain that I see now in my life taught me a lesson.

At the end of the day, its only the good things that we cherish that matters. Flaming mountains, dirty mountain shoes, loaded backpacks, 200+ photos in my camera and empty water bottles meant only one thing : FUN.

Until next time , Tchüss and Have a happy week!

Baggersee and wind of Changes

When life gives you a picture-perfect lake, then write your thoughts about it.

Here comes the sun and it’s finally June!

I am welcoming this month with an open arms because it’s a beautiful month. With sun and sunshine, summer flowers, BBQ and grilling! My plants are happy and back to life again, and the best thing of all, I can finally wear shorts and sleeveless, minus the chill. Oh June, how elusive you are but you are the month that is the gateway for summer! It’s been a cold and long winter here in Bavaria but smiles are returned on all our faces now—-we’ve got sunshine finally!

See the photos below, aren’t they stunning?

This is Baggersee , before a reclamation area and turned into some kind of green oasis located in the western part of Ingolstadt. This is another private gallery that I wanted to share with you guys. This lake is a special lake ( or See in German) that is super close to where I lived. It’s about 10 minutes by bicycle and a 15 minutes lazy walking distance. It’s the second largest lake here in Ingolstadt with about an area of about 50 hectares. It is connected to the Donau ( Danube) river and offers a beautiful cycling path that connects Ingolstadt to other neighboring Bavarian cities through the Donau Radweg.

I often mention this lake here in my Blog. This place can be boring for others but for me, Baggersee is a perfect family getaway . It’s actually an advantage that we have it so close to us. It’s the venue for annual Triathlon in Ingolstadt , Kids for Run, and Fishermen’s Festival. There are Biergartens, water play areas, playgrounds, sports activity areas for volleyball, tennis etc., Wildpark or a reserve for wild animals, restaurants, BBQ & grill areas, lounging areas and so much more. You can actually do everything here, even camping! People enjoy so many water sports like kayaking, canoeing, swimming and diving. This place is turned into a winter wonderland when it is covered with snow! I once walked on this frozen lake and it was an unforgettable experience.

I thought of this subject because I’m using the photos I’ve took from my last visit to Baggersee. This place reminds me every time of the winds of changes that I’ve been through and going through. Time flies so fast, I can’t believe that I’m already three years living here in Germany. Anyhow, I have seen this place in every single season but my favourite time to visit is during summer! This lake is so peaceful, a nature haven and the feeling of tranquility is all over the place. It’s beauty is raw. It’s an image of pure beauty, unfiltered. I usually do a 5.4 km walk-jog-run thing here whenever I have the feels for it and going through this lake brings me to a whole lot of meditation and spiritual intercourse which brings me back to sanity. It’s actually my first-to-go-place if I wanted to go closer to nature and cycle.

A sight of migrating birds in Baggersee
It’s all about perspectives!

After all, not all Bloggers create stories about their experiences, sometimes, they just plainly write about their life.

Here in Germany, it seems like we missed Spring. It was not like last year where it was more cooler , warmer and sunnier. For the last two weeks we were drenched with heavy rains , with cloudy and grey weather every single day. The waters of the river Danube was on the highest I’ve ever seen! It’s actually quite a sight to watch the raging waters from the dam. I was already wondering if the sun would finally come out.

The serene beauty of the river Danube in Spring. This photo is taken from one of my early morning cycling.

I have been away for so long that I haven’t written so much and updated this Blog. This is actually my first post once again after a long period of blogging hibernation! I have been so busy nowadays and squeezing time for writing, blogging, painting and working is such a dilemma. Sorry that it’s only now that I discovered the feedback and contact options of WordPress. I didn’t know about it so it’s only now that I’ve read the messages you guys are sending me. Thank you so much for all the feedback and appreciation for my writing. I truly appreciate your support and comments. For those of you who keeps on following this Blog and sticking out with me, thank you. I realized that you really need to find time for all the things that you loved—that’s it, no excuses!

Anyway, here’s another shot of the beautiful sunny day photo from Baggersee. As I watched the fishermen doing their own thing, the Nordic walkers, and the glamorous sunbathers kill their time here as I did, I just thought that I’m really grateful to have access to this place.The winds of changes blows here wild on a cloudy, cold winter day, but in Summer, this place is something else–an escape, an oasis, a lounge for tired souls.

The magic of watching sunrise and sunsets.

There’s so much things that happened to me personally for the past months.I am checking up on my Blog and wanted to complete all my drafts and write about so many things but the moment that I’m sitting behind my laptop, the ideas seems to fly and I can’t squeeze it out and directly going to bed.I missed blogging and being in touch with my other fellow Bloggers and reading about their writings. I wanted to write comments to many articles that I’ve read but I was just too tired to complete them. I think that when it comes to Blogging, you need to be in a community– with interaction, and motivation to be involved .You can’t blog all for yourself. You need other people to read your stuff for you to survive. It’s not a one way track.

Anyways, since last year, I am back to working and I am trying to balance my time as a working Mama. It feels great to be back again and have another purpose and reason to get up every single day.After I finished my German course and passed my exam, one month after I got the chance to work . What I love about working in Germany is the privileges of a working mother. Here, you can work part-time and you don’t feel the social stigma. I noticed that most of German mothers are really investing their time on the first 3 years of their child and work less and focus more on their family. This setting fits me perfectly because afternoons are for my daughter. My daughter is 4 ( Oh how time really flies! ) and she goes everyday in the Kindergarten. She was often sick last Winter and took a long time to recover so it really gives us a stress. She always bring home the germs from the Kindergarten and most children are always sick so it’s a kind of one thing from another.Honestly, it’s really difficult when your child is sick and you need to go to work. We are alone here in Germany and we don’t have any relatives living nearby so we don’t have anybody to ask for a helping hand . The weather doesn’t help either. When its rainy and cloudy everyday, I just want to stay in and it makes me feel depressed.

The winds are blowing hard sometimes and I can’t help but to make a pause, a sort of a much needed break.”

Lakes of Dreams –This is the place where I often meditate and think about the brand new life I have now here in Germany.

Going back to my daughter, she was total rolling ball of sunshine. She got to dressed up as an Astronaut last Kinder ball or something like a Carnival, dressed up party here in Bavaria. She is in love with superheroes like crazy. She doesn’t want ever to wear a dress because she thinks that it’s not cool. Lego and Ninjago were her versions of being cool. For her, Kindergarten was fun, she really made a breakthrough this year. She speaks perfect German and English and she can now read and write, and scribbles a lot! She made quite a number of friends in the Kindergarten and she knows all our neighbors! She calls them all whenever she see them. She is very friendly, talkative, active, and the best of all— now she loves to ride her bike! Did you know that it’s a parent’s milestone when you finally taught your kid to ride a bike?! It was such a joy to see her cycling on her own pace. She even wants to cycle even when its raining and going to school. One special thing that she did yesterday was to cycle from home to Baggersee–on her own and back!

My little monkey doing the Tree-climbing activity in Baggersee!

Do you also have a special place to go to when you just needed a break?

Thank you for reading my friends and hope you come back again for another worthwhile read! Thank you for following this Blog and have a wonderful weekend!

In German we say it “Tschüss!”

The Beauty of Manholes

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Manhole cover in Amsterdam,Netherlands

The title says it all, this post is all about my fascination of Manholes or drainage covers.

Well, since I came to live here in Germany I got hooked into looking down , staring for a couple of minutes and just marveling at these drains.I find it  interesting to look down and taking photos ( if I have the chance to do so…) of unique water drain designs and the way every city has its own pride, normally it shows the city’s  name and the official seal.

But the big question is why?

In my home country and way back in Kuwait, it is quite different.Manholes are usually plain, dull or somewhat far from sight of the pedestrian or I’m just oblivious then. From the time I remember, I heard about accidents involving people falling off crazy in these filthy holes.With traffic crazy streets in Kuwait, no one stays longer in the streets or you’ll be ran-over ! Ok, maybe I sound a bit dramatic but the thing is, the culture says it all. For me, in Philippines, manholes never appeals to me because I grew up never having the “liking”into it or it sounds dangerous  and traumatic experience especially during rainy season and heavy flooding. People falling into a manhole may sound funny but actually it is NOT. It’s a serious accident.

I guess it shows how different each country value the water drainage system and its covers here in Europe especially in big cities. In a very touristic areas here in Germany, most inner cities observed car-free , therefore encouraging more people to walk, rather than drive into the city. So it means, we have more means to explore by foot at our own pace.

I must say that here in Germany, I have seen quite few interesting manholes. I haven’t had the chance to photograph them all , or I forget about it but this post will be updated from time to time once new updates are available. For starters, here are some of the fascinating manholes I’ve discovered.

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Manhole in Münich , Germany

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Welcome the Dutch  Royalty, Manhole from the Netherlands

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Manhole image from  Nürnberg, Germany

Sometimes it’s easy to spot them on but sometimes it’s also hard , especially when we are walking in a hurry or traveling by car.I know it’s not  everyone’s fancy , but one thing I noticed, in social media, I see so many photos of feet selfies, or shoe selfies . They all show a sort of individuality and personal choices.For photography, It’s all about our choice of subject and we have all the right to take photos of anything we want as long as it is rightful and doesn’t harm others. But here in Germany, public photography has some limitations as well.

So, why manholes?

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Looking down on a manhole in Berlin, capital city of Germany

First I got this habit of looking down where I walked into the streets when I ventured into exploring all the Stolpersteine or stumbling blocks or stones— those artistic stones for the victims of Holocaust and murdered Jews. I am living in Germany and I have learned these things in my class and everyday, as I explore the historical places, It is impossible not to be aware of the dark past of German history including the stumbling stones. It made a great impact on me to stop for a minute and think ..“Oh, there’s a victim of Holocaust who lived here…” I think its a very decent way of paying respect to their story and being grateful that war is finally over and hoping “Never again...”

So, back to my old habit, whenever I walk around into a new place, I took particular notice of where I’m stepping into. There’s so many landmarks, engravings, plaques of memorials, grave stones, or some sort of legendary marks which is imprinted into the ground for the sake of  history  and remembrance . One thing for sure,  you can learn so much from it.

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Caught a glimpse of the Manhole in Regensburg, Germany

Just like standing over a precious stone or a border mark, it has a profound effect, like “I’m walking over where a great war happened ,where heroes dies and fought for somethingor “I’m standing where the  wall of Berlin before stands “. So just like taking a minute to appreciate manholes, I also took time to admire an important city’s  landmark. I realized that what they do underground is as much as important as what they do over it. The street’s quality are also differ from place to place and the way they build it. Normally, these manholes are built with high-end steel, painted or engraved, or just personalised to city’s parameters.

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Walking through the cobble stone pavement in our little town of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, Germany here shows the official seal .

There’s also something nice about looking at manholes through each season. Here in our old town, summer time is the time where road maintenance is being done and road works are really important especially the “Fußgängerzone” or walking path. Manholes or drain covers withstand the never-ending change of weather and seasons.

I therefore conclude that It takes a good government to pay attention of where the normal people drive, cycle, walk, and run into. So it goes with drain covers. 

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Looking down on a Manhole in Ingolstadt during first layer of snow last year’s Winter

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While exploring the oldest city in Germany, Trier

Do you also have a habit of looking down while walking?

How does the manholes in your area looks like?

Want to participate in a global project?

If you ever seen an interesting Manhole in your area, please feel free to send me a photo of it or a link so I can include it here in my list. My goal is to collect as many as possible depending where my feet leads me to.

Send me some photos in my Email : justbluedutch@gmail.com.

I hope you find my story interesting and something to ponder about. Over here, Autumn season has begun here in Bavaria and I am excited to wander off in the streets and continue exploring!

Wishing you all a happy weekend…Tschüss!

Spring All time Favorites

I’ve tried to gather my all-time favorite photos for Spring. Each photo has a story to tell, a fragment of special, well-spent and gratified moments of solitude and self-nurturing experience captured in photos. For me, Spring is a wonderful season to cherish, a quick one, but also the most treasured of all because it signals rebirth. The first days of Frühling always bring to me much energy, excitement, renewed spirit and yes, new dreams to chase. This week’s theme is so timely, a collection of primed, all time favorites and I was excited to participate.

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Savoring life’s simple pleasures…

Last night it rained, and for me, it’s one of the few times here in Southern Bavaria where the rain really soaked up the grass. It’s followed by lightning and roars of thunders, it definitely sounds like typical Springtime! I love it because it watered all my plants in the garden and  eventually cooling down the house. Nowadays, it gets really toasty during the day and a simple retreat through the woods and green sanctuaries is quite a threat.Can’t believe that May is  already over and today we welcome the warm June breeze.

Few more weeks and its officially Summer here in Germany. Anyway, to start my all time favorites, above is a photo from Baggersee, a nature park with a beautiful lake which is only 15 minutes away by bike from our home. It’s always a great time cycling around in this place and having picnics.  In Winter, we enjoyed walking in the frozen lake  and watching the birds . The wooden bench in the photo against the golden sunshine is my perfect symbolism for a warm welcome invite, a reassurance that for  a short time to sit and appreciate the view, I can forget my worries and let nature communicate.

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Spring blooms in front of the Museum für Konkrete Kunst

On the other side, I love as well how nature can add more colors in a  dull, solitary place. Last month, I visited the Museum für Konkrete Kunst with some classmates. They had an exhibition about “Colors in Motion ” by Carlos Cruz-Diez. I love everything about Art and the color composition with Optical technology.  Colors creates an astounding  effect  same as the simple blooming spring flowers rejuvenate the drag moments from Winter, the Artist also showed the effects of colors in everyday motion.

He quoted “Do not complicate, simplify ..”

Below is one of my favorite photo from the art exhibit.

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Carlos Cruz-Diez ‘s Color in Motion Art Exhibition in Museum für Konkrete Kunst

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Fairy tale city and Cherry Blossoms

Some parts here in my town turns into  a fairy tale like setting during Spring. With the pink cherry blossoms trees surrounding the Neues Schloss  which create a postcard worthy shot. Ingolstadt has a fascinating inner city but surrounding the zentrum are  the old walls that creates a historical path in lush greens for exploration for visitors. Along the river Danube, a beautiful post-card scenery awaits for those who took time to wander around.

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Wild flower fields for your dreams

Cycling around the city is never a bore when I see fields covered with wild flowers like these. Here, there are so many of them. They are unkempt, but so wildly beautiful. I wanted to gather all these flowers and make hundreds of photos of them.Just like Dandelions and Poppy flowers, they are a sight to behold. You won’t see them all-year around, but when you saw them popping out everywhere, you know change is coming.

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My burst of sunshine in the garden!

“Gardening is like an Art, you use plants and flowers like paint, and the soil like your canvas “.

A great part of my Spring time is spent working in our garden.I am trying to squeeze my time to give way to my personal addiction : Plants!  This photo below is our Lavender shrubs blooming with gorgeous locks of purple buds! Whenever I looked at them, I am reminded that a change is essential for growth. These shrubs have withstand the long cold winters but then when the sun finally comes out, they are blooming, announcing their beauty. Their scent, their proud stems alongside with my roses exudes a character of resilience, elegance, and classic beauty. I am only using my iPhone in capturing this photo and yet, it does not need any more filter!

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My Lavender shines against the bright Spring sun

Most of the things I share here in the Blog are my personal passions. From art, traveling, expat life, and of course, nature. I love  gardening and creating an urban jungle inside our house and recreating a cozy garden. Aside from my indoor plants, this year, I planned to create a pot garden in our terrace. I combine different flowering plants to create a personal pallet of colors and life. Spring had given me the chance to nurture and grow plants that give me so much positive energy. I am not a plant expert, but I am a plant lover and I embrace the positivity it brings.

“I truly believe that when you start to learn how to grow things, you let yourself grow as well.”

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Spargelzeit is here once again

Spring time is the time for white Spargel  ( white asparagus) here in Germany. It’s lovely to see how this seasonal vegetable creates a nostalgic moment in restaurants, supermarkets and in the weekend market. Germans love them I see it almost everywhere!

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Hops, the heart of Bavarian beer

The flower Hops is the vital ingredient in beer brewing. Last month we had our Frühlingsfest and once again we recall the 1516 Beer Purity Law which is now almost 500+ years old. In fact, it is the oldest food decree in the world! Spring signals the new growth of Hops and just looking at this photo reminds me that I am living in a place where beer is a food, and not an alcoholic drink! My previous post talks more about this German culture and the ever-unforgettable beer feast!

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The secrets of Water lilies

When I took this photo from our last visit in the Mediziniches Historisches Museum last month, I am quickly transported to my childhood in the Philippines. The sister of my Grandmother had a big garden with a big fish pond where water lilies grow in abundance. I always love to spend time looking at these floating leaves with their gorgeous white and purple flowers. I love the solitary moment I spent in that pond.They remind me of the “Water Lilies paintings and  murals by Monet. To think they are the birth flower for July, seems to me that they are also present in welcoming Spring!

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Biotechnical border crossings

Also one of my favorite photos for Spring is the captured  Baroque building in front of the growing shrubs in the  Deutschen Medizinhistorischen Museum  in front the  Botanical garden. If you are following my Blog, then you must have read why this place is quite special, and definitely historical. I am not a history buff but I love stories behind a story. It’s a chain that I love to follow. It’s one of the setting of the novel of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus” . Surprisingly, she had the young Swiss Victor Frankenstein study at the Bavarian State University in Ingolstadt. Here he discovered the secret of life, and here he finally brought his own “creature” to life. Thus, “Frankenstein” became the most effective symbol of Biotechnical border crossings

I love visiting this place  I found new things for learning . Just recently, I watched the exhibition about “Radiologie im Nationalsozialismus “( Radiology in Nazi era 1933~1945 ) . This year, the Deutschen Medizinhistorische Museum is celebrating the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein with a diverse program.

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Yellow fields forever

Of course, Spring won’t be complete without the yellow fields. Be it rapeseeds or summer  yellow wood forget-me-nots, periwinkle, or milky orchids, a field full of wild yellow spring flowers are a magnet.I  must stop and enjoy the view. Full horizon is painted in yellow and it seems endless like hope. When I see a field like this, I am happy.This is what I love about taking bike rides, it gives me a way to discover and slow down.

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Fresh strawberries on a sunny day!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love strawberries and when I say strawberries, we like it hand-picked. Here in Germany, strawberry season starts from last week of May and runs up until a month. Last Sunday, we went to the strawberry fields and picked out a bucket of juicy strawberries and eat almost a kilo while picking! Every single piece is so delicious! My daughter went home with a red mouth and stains on her face because she just devoured strawberries non-stop. I love the simple pleasures in life like this, savoring and feeding your taste buds ! Whenever I look at this photo, I am reminded of the smell, the taste and of course, the whole lot of fun we had!

So, these are my Spring  all-time favorites! Spring is not over yet but within a couple of months, it has been all good and I am enjoying every singe minute of this beautiful weather!

What about you, what are your Spring time favorites?

This post was inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge | All-Time Favorites

1516 Beer Purity Law (Bayerisches Reinheitsgebot)

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In Ingolstadt, we always have a reason to celebrate and say “Prost!”

Let me tell you something, I don’t know anything about beer. But since I came to Germany, I got somehow “educated” about German culture and yes, about beer drinking culture.

Here’s how Beer changed my view ;

I live in a town where not only the sleek Audi cars rule the streets, but also a town full of fun-loving Bavarians  who loves to drink beer. It’s a lifestyle here, a culture, a tradition and a LIFE. It’s like everyday, people here have a reason to always celebrate and sit in the Biergartens and of course, its not complete without  a Beer!I have written about this in so many posts here in my Blog and this one is not an exception, after all, this is a expat-lifestyle Blog!

Wilkommen in Bayern, that’s what my neighbors say.I think everyone who moves to Germany can relate to this. In Germany, beer is a F-O-O-D, and not an alcoholic drink. I learned this from my Deutsch teacher. That only means that here in Bayern, beer is considered as important as staple foods such as bread.Speaking of bread, Germans have a wonderful world of bread.It’s also another culture but I’m not going to talk more about breads since this post is intended for beer.

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Hops , And from these came the world famous Bavarian Beer

I have to agree that after almost 2 years of living  here, I am convinced that Bavarian beer is  among the best in the world. It is in fact a “No wonder”.Since 1516, for centuries now, this amber golden liquid has been brewed from nothing other than barley, hops and water of the highest quality.  Duke William IV issued a decree for the Bavarian Purity Law in 1516 at a meeting of the Bavarian Estates in Ingolstadt. The ruling was proclaimed in the spacious courtyard of the Neues Schloss and extended the existing brewing regulations to the whole of Bavaria.

And to think that I don’t know anything about Hops!
For beer brewing, hops are so important because they add spice, durability and, last but not least, lather to the drink. But in hops  is  so much more! This creeper plant  contains a resin with valuable bitter substances and essential oils. They are also used as Arnzei and help with loss of appetite, stomach weakness and restlessness. Hops generally have a calming effect but stimulate the metabolism!

Last month, I attended a private Stadt führung (an organized tour)  and our Tour Guide explained to us that in the early days, people are getting sick from drinking beer. Not only getting highly intoxicated but for longer times of drinking, its quite unhealthy. Up in the north of Germany, there are rumors that they are adding intoxicating herbs in their brew that’s why they came up with Beer Purity Law. So you see, be it consumer protection or not, Germans not only wants to enjoy drinking beer, they also take care of what they drink, making sure it does not damage the health.

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My Little Sunshine enjoying the Beer Fest last April and gamely posing beside the Bier brunnen (Beer Fountain).

In short, here’s the apex of the 1516 Beer Purity Law :

“In particular we decree that from now on, no ingredients other than barley, hops and water are to be used in all beers in all our towns and markets as well as in the country.”

Bier ist unter den Getränken das nützlichste, unter den Arzneien das schmackhafteste und unter den Nahrungsmitteln das angenehmste.” 
{Plutarch}

or in English ;

“Beer is the most useful among the drinks, the tastiest among the medicines and the most pleasant among the foods.”
{Plutarch}

What is so interesting to know that half of the world might not know this but Beer here in Bavaria is actually made from finest ingredients.Water, hops, malt and yeast. These are the ingredients prescribed in the Bayerisches Reinheitsgebot which are predominantly essentials in  brewing beer. The plus points:  these ingredients not only provide a tasty result, but also provide valuable ingredients.

Every year, we have 2 major feasts here. The Frühlingsfest and the Herbsfest. In this time we have the traditional Volksfest where Beer tents are laid for 2 weeks just like the major Oktoberfest in Munich. On a typical day, like on Weekend markets, the market square in the city center is always filled with locals enjoying this tradition.

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Yes, we have Beer Queens as well!

From April 27~29, we had our “Fest zum Reinen Bier” and we watched the reenactment or “Die Ausfuhrung des Reinheitsgebot 1516 “. What is so exciting about this historical event is that the declaration of the law was read  at exactly 15:16 hours, or 3:15 in the afternoon.The festivity started with a colorful parade and lead up to the Beer exhibition tents  near the Hohe Schule and to the Bier brunnen. On the following days, a series of “Walking Act”through the Dollstrasse, Roseneckstrasse  and Kanalstrasse was made.All tables are full of people, visitors, and families enjoying beer .

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Bavarians always parading in style.

This event was filled of many fascinating programs.I find it quite cool because they always have something for children so the parents can enjoy time while kids are playing.There’s also the Probierführung 1516 ( or the Beer Tasting) organized by the top Breweries where participants can learn more of the history of Beer brewing and sample a taste of different types of Beer.

 

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Fest zum Reinen Bier 2018, Ingolstadt, Germany

Classical performances by different bands and talented artists graced the event with their musicals and concerts.

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1516 Bayerisches Reinheitsgebot or Beer Purity Law

The Georgitag, which happens on Monday, April 23 was the actual date of announcing the most important Food Law probably in the whole world here in Ingolstadt.On this day, almost 100 Liters of Beer flows from the fountain for everyone to enjoy! FOR FREE! Two of the major breweries here in Ingolstadt, the Herrnbräu and Nordbräu sponsored this wonderful event.

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More free beer please!

I am not a heavy beer drinker, but what I like about this culture is  the “gemutlich ” or the coziness it brings. It’s always lovely to see people dressed up in Lederhose and Dirndls and having a festive mood no matter what your status in life. Germans still rides their bikes after drinking beer and I find that outstanding!

On the health side, its good to know that drinking beer also has proven to be a means of preventing osteoporosis, it reduces the risk of getting kidney stones and its blood-thinning effect affects strokes. The important thing is an “appropriate and moderate drinking pattern”. Those who consume about 0.5 to 1 liter of beer a day in connection with food achieve, on average, the greatest health-promoting effect.

So what happens when you enjoy the Beer culture? This photo of my daughter says it all.

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Fully Integrated, fully enjoyed!

When you have the chance to visit Germany, you should try it yourself and have a taste of the authentic Bavarian beer, and don’t forget, when you say “Prost!” (Cheers) , you should have an eye contact!

Until next time, Tschüss!

Silence | If Statues can talk…

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Bronze statues in the Hofburg church in Innsbruck

Innsbruck has been marvelous so far, as it offers us complete diversity of things to see and explore. So far, we didn’t just marble on the magnificent snow-capped mountains , and devoured plateful  of  delectable Kaiserschmarrn, but we also found ourselves silenced and impressed by  these 28-larger than life Bronze Statues inside the Hofburg church, or formerly a Court church located in the Altstadt of Innsbruck, but now houses the cenotaph for one of the most important person in  history —Emperor Maximilian I, 22 March 1459 – 12 January 1519] the Holy Roman Emperor or also known as The King of the Germans.

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From what I’ve read and seen in this museum, He seemed to be a very  important person, just look at how grand his cenotaph is and considering the numerous tributes for him. Actually, the Hofkirche ( Court church) is built by his Grandson, Emperor Ferdinand I as a memorial for him,  and also houses the tomb of Tyrol’s  national hero, —Andreas Hofer.

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If Only statues can talk…

These large statues (200-250 cm) are really impressive. Compared to the white-washed busts we’ve seen in the Walhalla, these bronze statues are actually the ancestors, relatives, and heroes during the lifetime of Emperor Maximilian I. My daughter was delighted to see all of them. She keep on asking me who are they and what are their costumes? She is not even scared. I felt eerie for a moment especially looking at the fierce faces of the women, and the strength these figures emanates. They are even larger than I am so its really like seeing them for real!

If only  statues  can talk and tell stories by themselves…

 

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The cenotaph of Emperor Maximilian I lies in the center of the church

The great thing about visiting places like this is the experience itself. It is so much better to see this place rather than just reading about them. I know that it’s quite normal everyone that during Museum visits and the like, silence is observed, noise is forbidden most especially for religious relics like this.

Yes but how can you even make noises while visiting a cenotaph or a tomb?

The moment I stepped into this place, I was silenced by its beauty. The grandeur and  solemnity of this church, the architecture itself is a history in the making and the story behind this church. Imagine, the cenotaph itself took 80 years of construction!It is so true that when we are in awe, we are silenced.

Silence  is  golden for statues like these in Hofburg. Since only through silence that we can be able to fully appreciate the art behind it, the legacy of their existence and their part in history and in our modern times.

Silence is respect, paid in full, and observed in willingness.

It is just right that they have a place in history and we marvel in them.We should be silent. We can’t add anymore for their life story, it has been written and impregnated through their magnanimous effigy.

But then, If only statues can talk…

 

 

 

Inspired by this week’s DP Photo Challenge |Silence

The Blue Flock Art project

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Der Blauschäfer by Rainer Bonk ( Blaue Friedensherde )

I know the nursery rhyme ‘ Baba Black Sheep’ but Blue Sheep ???!!

While I was living in Kuwait, I knew Sheep because of Ramadan and Eid Al- Adha. If you must know, they are prime element of Islamic celebrations.I saw them from the same “Camel farms” I’ve visited and they don’t  normally “graze“in Kuwait city but they are being ushered to the animal market especially during the Muslim festivities of sheep ritual slaughtering.

But here in Germany I’ve seen something different.

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Blaue Schafe!

Why Blue?

Today we’ve seen a flock of ‘Blue Sheep ‘ grazing right in front of our Altes Rathaus ( or City town Hall ). Totally eye-catching and one-of a kind. In the middle of the square, there are approximately 150 pieces of Blue  sheep sculptures, erected as a symbolic art project which promotes mutual tolerance and peace.

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Someone is feeling ecstatic watching and counting all these Blue Sheep.

From the artistic minds of German artists Rainer Bonk and Bertamaria Reetz from the design series ‘Blue Sheep’, the Blue Flock Art Project  was first exhibited to public in Lido, Venice in 2009 as Germany’s contribution to the “OPEN 12” , an international sculpture and art exhibition. Since then, they continue to roam around all over Europe to promote their advocacy for peace , tolerance and equality. They normally “graze“in historical places, landmarks and iconic cities to create an artistic juxtaposition.

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Where Art and Culture meets

I live in Bavaria and our region is celebrating now the world-renowned Oktoberfest and the sight of overwhelming men in Lederhosen and lots of cleavage sight for women in Dirndls in beer tents downing mugs of beer has now been a  typical sight for me. But seeing these blue sheep for a change is really refreshing, especially for kids. You can imagine how delighted my daughter is when she saw the sheep, and she explained how many are they!

Why they are painted Blue?

They  come in bright Ultramarine Blue color, which is the color of the Earth, ocean and the sky. I recognized this color since I have these in my paints. Blue is a primary color, a powerful base of the color spectrum. It symbolizes peace, unity, freedom and space. It embodies all good moral aspects.

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Grazing in Bavaria !

What makes the Blue Sheep special?

Every blue sheep is  painted and crafted in the workshop for mentally disabled people  ( Duisburger Werkstatt für Menschen mit Behinderung GmbH) , SBK Gmbh in Cologne,Germany. If you are interested to get a collector’s item ,you can learn more about this project here.They have a special offer for schools and hotels.

 

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Blaue Schafe ( The Blue Sheep Art Project)

The Blue Flock of Peace Art Project have been to key places around Europe like Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Köln, Bozen, Dresden, Heilbronn,Dessau, Berlin, Hannover and Strasbourg among others.

 

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( Alles sind gleigh Jeder ist wichtig ) Ambassadors of Peace, Tolerance and Equality

I must say that my Wandertag with my daughter today has been a fascinating one. It’s definitely Fall here now in Germany and I am so looking forward to wander and discover nature’s best, its vibrant colors and festivities.

How about you, have you ever seen this type of sculpture?

Are you fond of sheep?

 

The Streets of Nuremberg

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Wandering in the streets of Nuremberg, Germany

Isn’t it  good to be out and have a short trip once in a while? There’s something about getting lost in a new city. Wandering through the unknown alleys, skimpy streets , clueless, and  eager is a feeling that is familiar to all travelers, backpackers and curious wanderers. There is always the mixture of excitement and ardent anticipation to see what is beyond over there, maybe on the look for a surprise, or even wishing for your imaginations to be real. Can you relate?

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Let me share with you our wanderings in Nürnberg, the second largest city in Bavaria. Nuremberg is a 950-year-old city with romantic flair, drawing in heritage buffs, foodies and artistic souls alike and yes, a haven for the little ones as well.

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Street sightings, intricate details

We decided to skip the museums since my daughter will surely get bored in it and since its a nice weather, we opt for more outdoor activities. But walking through the streets of Nuremberg ( or Nürnberg as the locals referred to ) offers anyone a great kaleidoscope of history, arts, and charm. It is impossible not to stop and take a closer look because there is so much detail to ponder about, making me think what is it all about. For the record, Nuremberg was once one of the most important residences of the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and has an almost completely intact city wall. The distinctive pink stone gives the city a fairy tale atmosphere.Its not everyday that I see a city with a palace on a hill, the Kaiserburg, or the Imperial Palace looms in the view the moment you start to wander in the Haupmarket,so that must be very distinctive.

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Local art gallery

Do you also find  it fascinating to follow the current of the river while sightseeing? I find it so relaxing to have a few moments of peace while admiring the Pegnitz river , and when I turn my head around, I see the rows of cafes, filled with chattering tourists, and the streets filled with clash of cultures. There are two bridges, Museumsbrücke  and Fleischbrücke , crossing the Pegnitz river to the Hauptmarket .The main street north from here, Burgstrasse, runs up to the skirts of the beautiful castle which we managed to climb – the Kaiserburg. This is something we never regret despite the uphill part because we had lovely views up above the castle.

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Admiring the architecture and intricate details of the old and restored buildings.

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Getting lost in Burgstrasse,one of the busiest  street of Nuremberg

As we continue to explore, we head straight to the Haupmarkt ( Central Market), which is famous for the Christmas Market and Christkindlmarkt during Christmas season. This is a huge square with tons of sights to enjoy. On normal days, you can see a huge stalls of different local produce such as fruits, veggies, sausages, cheeses, honey, garden plants, souvenirs and so much more. There are so many street food as well. We bought some grapes and it was really good. On the right side of the square situated is the Frauenkirche, a beautiful church and you can never miss to see the Beautiful Fountain ( Shöner Brunnen).Aptly named “The Beautiful Fountain”, this is a major  highlight of the central market square in Nürnberg. It was designed in the 1380s by Heinrich Beheim, a stonemason, and was intended to top the Frauenkirche.It stands at an impressive 19 meters (62 feet) high and is bedecked in gold. There are 42 stone statues surrounding the fountain that depict allegorical figures, churchmen, electors and heroes. This fountain is always full of tourists trying to rub the copper ring  believing that your wishes can come true!

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The Frauenkirche and the Schöner Brunnen

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Wish I may, Wish I might…

Do you spot the precious ring?

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Das Narrenschiff or the “The Ship of Fools”

It’s a sunny day and we are eager to cool down, but knowing there is not much shops with Air conditioning in Germany, we decided to walk further to get ice cream then we found this  statue called “Das Narrenschiff” or The Ship of Fools. Children loves to swing in here,even adults, a famous meeting place. My daughter played here for a while so we spent an ample time looking at this bronze statue of a boat carrying seven people, a skeleton and a dog . It is planted in a main road, in an intersection, and catches the eye of travelers. Based on a popular sixteenth century book by Sebastian Brant, this piece was sculpted by Juergen Weber off of woodcuts by favorite Albrecht Dürer. This artwork shows an expelled Adam and Eve, their murderous son Cain and other violent figures. It is a scene showing the destruction of the world. Another fascinating fountain that we saw along the way and everyone should not miss is the Ehekarussell, or the Bitter sweet Marriage Carousel.This is my favorite so far.

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As part of discovering the local culture, you’ve got to taste the local food as well. With all the walking that we’ve done, it is imperative to eat. As I wrote before that as a foreigner living in Germany, the amount of Sausages can be overwhelming! But then again, in a country known for its bratwurst, many German cities have their own specialty sausages, including Nuremberg. An authentic Nürnberger Rostbratwurst is made from low-fat pork enclosed in a lamb casing, twisted into sausages that measure from 7 to 9 centimeters long.Another must-see and must-try to do is shopping for some authentic Lebkuchen! Just going inside this store makes me hungry. I love everything about the dainty bakeshop of  Lebkuchen Schmidt.

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Delicious and authentic Lebkuchen and yummy goodies!

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Tourist’s mementos displayed in the Haupmarkt

If you love shopping, visiting Nürnberg won’t disappoint you. Wandering in the city center leads you to one busy shopping district line up with shops, and yes, it’s that time of the year to not miss the Summer Sales so you can give it a go.

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The busy streets with shops on both sides.

Once you get tired, you can always grab a bite and drink and sit in one of the cozy cafes alongside the road. Another wonderful pastime is just watching people and taste the local beer.There are plenty of restaurants, clean bathrooms, and even changing rooms for your little ones. One thing that disappoints me is that I didn’t find any play areas near the city proper. Maybe they are nearby but it seems that I haven’t seen any directions through it.

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Hustle and bustle in Nuremberg

 So much to see, so little time. I leave the rest for you to discover by yourself. If you love street art, you need patience. You need to explore further. To find good street art in Nuremberg is really hard. Best is to get lost completely then your chances are high to find some nice murals. If you are not the history and architecture buff, you can always hop on to other off-the beaten path attractions in this city.

Nuremberg, I will see you again sometime soon!

Have you seen Nuremberg? Do you think it’s a fascinating city?

If you’ve been there, what are the other cool things you can add to this list?

Strawberry Fields forever

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Long wait is over, Summer is finally here!

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Fresh strawberry bunches sold in the erdbeeren Punck-Bayern, Unserherren Fields, Germany

Did you know that Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each Spring?

We can’t even get over with the ‘Spargelzeit’ (White Asparagus season) yet and now here comes the season of one of my favorite summer fruit : Strawberries  ( or Erdbeeren)! Since we had a sunny Spring, strawberries came earlier here in Bavaria. In Germany, it is very easy to distinguish what time of the year it is, just look at the seasonal fruits displayed in the shops and you’ll know. Strawberries and Raspberries are flooding the grocery shops, as cheap as 2.99 Euros for 500 grams! Last time, I bought a bunch of strawberries for only 1.99 Euros!

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A walk in the strawberry fields with a Toddler
So last Sunday, we decided to spend quality family time on a sunny Ruhetag by visiting the Strawberry fields and pick strawberries by ourselves. It was our first time to go in the fields so we are all excited!  I am so thrilled by this idea since I wanted to explore the strawberry fields here in Bavaria and for my daughter to pick strawberries by herself. All over Bavaria, from the start of Strawberry season,  there are so many fields are open, for locals and hungry-pickers to enjoy!  These yummy goodness fresh- tasting strawberries can be harvested over six or seven weeks. In the second week of May strawberries grown in tunnels in the open field reach the market, followed by strawberries grown under plastic by mid-May. And the season reaches its peak with regular open-field strawberries from the beginning of June. In July the greenhouses are prepared for the next season that can be harvested from the end of September to Christmas.

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On Repeat : Tasting , Eating, Playing 

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The best strawberries in town, fresh from the fields
We checked out the site of the strawberry Fields in Bayern and we discovered that there are so many nearby fields that are opened for public picking. There are also remnants of the White asparagus being sold in the stalls, but a wide supply of  raspberries, honey, Bio-eggs, and ice cream  are also available for purchase in the same fields. It was such a lovely experience and the weather is just right to pick them.Families with small children ran around the fields, old people with their buckets, picking with smiles on their faces, eating and just enjoying the early summer sunshine. What a delightful way to spend a Sunday morning!

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One of our handful picks, half were already eaten along the way!
Strawberries belong to the favorite fruit group in Germany; the 3.4 kilos of strawberries consumed per person last year are proof of that. They follow apples, bananas and sweet citrus fruits in the ranking of most successful fruit. And a representative survey showed that strawberries are a proud favorite of consumers between the ages of 10 to 25.

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Toddlers and Strawberries are always a perfect combo!

Stop and smell the strawberries! They are considered members of the rose family, they give off a sweet fragrance as they grow on bushes.

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Father and daughter bonding time!
We got more than 2 kgs. of fresh, juicy and super delicious strawberries and we headed home to have a Strawberry -coma weekend!

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Toddler life: Eating hay, rolling in the hay
You bet someone really had a great time in the strawberry fields. Going home covered in hay, smelled like grass and mouth-smothered with strawberries are a perfect way to end our trip! While cycling back home, I can’t help but to hum the song “Strawberry fields forever by the Beatles… ”

Will definitely check out the other fields next time so stay tuned for more of our Summer escapades!

What are your summer plans?

How do you enjoy the warm sunshine? Don’t be shy to share in the comments!

 

The law of reversed effort

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The Law of Reversed Effort 

A personal post about what I’m experiencing for the past days.There were days where my mind is like a muddy puddle, unclear and chaotic, and desperately in need of clarity.

The truth is, a struggle  creates struggle and  my life as an expat  is not all  bed of roses.Let’s face it, everyday, more often, it’s bleak and grey ,you are  faced with the hard realities, instead of the fairy-tale fantasies of living in a world of different culture and language. I don’t know, maybe I need to blame the weather, the cold, the situations or my attitude and the way that I reacted to events.

I needed clarity but it is so elusive, the harder I tried to figure it out, the less output I get,  it only gives me all the blurry ones.I’ve felt like I’m in a rat hole that I couldn’t get out.I can’t say what I wanted to say in exact words that I wanted to say. I feel helpless.

I wanted to do things but it doesn’t work the way I wanted it to be.It felt awkward.I felt like my effort were all wasted.I even tried to paint my emotions but I ended up making a mess.

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C’mon Spring, do your thing!

I heard you, I know you might say; isn’t it should be “Try and try until you succeed? ”

So I decided to take a walk in the park one day and just sit there and wait for clarity. At best, I am hoping to just stop fighting myself. As usual, the sun is elusive, hiding behind the clouds.I gazed upon the buds in the branches and the sprouting leaves in the bushes. The grounds start to get greener once again. I saw signs of new beginnings, new chances. A rebirth.Spring is definitely on the way.

How odd but sometimes I felt like I am a plant who wants to grow in the middle of cold winter. I realized that my negative thoughts are apt to be more effective than the positive because the negative usually has more feeling with it.

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A budding signaling a rebirth

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone”. – Alan Watts

Like a muddy puddle, it’s best to leave it alone to clear.I let my mind rest and my body to just do nothing. Literally nothing. Like my daughter in tantrums, I let her sort her own emotions by staying calm, just watching how things naturally sort themselves out without my constant “interventions “.

Today,the clarity that I needed came.Along the way,and out of my stubbornness, I discovered something beautiful about the law of reversed effort.This came like a wake up call. Many times, things in life only sort themselves out only when we don’t do anything, taking the concept of the Law of Reversed Effort a bit further, it sometimes refers instead to a state of mind, a state of  mind of ‘not doing’, perhaps this is akin to a flow state of automatic action, a mindset of effortless concentration that only resides when we are present and ‘in the now’, because if we try to mentally push things too far in this mindset we just get the opposite result.

Isn’t this also the truth when writing a blog post? Or finishing a project? Our deep need for a clear slate to write down our thoughts? A state of mental relaxation is the only way for clarity to be achieved. Easier said than done but yes, it’s the only way to get things done, naturally, without causing stress in my mind.

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The Law of reversed effort

Like these buds which reminds me that nature has its own course to follow. It’s an autopilot that only nature comprehends.Nobody can intervene. I can’t hurry up the seasons or mold the people around me the way I wanted them to be.Nature has its own way, and it’s definitely not My way.

Here is the original quote from Huxley about the Law of Reversed effort.

“The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. Proficiency and the results of proficiency come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity, of letting go as a person in order that the immanent and transcendent unknown quantity may take hold. We cannot make ourselves understand; the most we can do is to foster a state of mind, in which understanding may come to us”. Aldous Huxley (The Law of Reversed Effort).

Any thoughts ?

Have you ever felt like this? How did you overcome it?

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