Spirituality has been somewhat either of a taboo or a just a “No-Topic” for any conversation whatsoever. Believing to a power, spirit or sense that is higher than us has been either downplayed, critisised, punished, or simply has let others indifferent. And don’t get me wrong religion might have something to do with it but not necessarily. Or not? Can a person be spiritual without being religious? Can a person be religious without being spiritual? What does spirituality even mean to me, to you, to your best friend?

If you end up asking around, it seems all of us some a different kind of view when it comes to how spirituality is perceived. Isn’t that fascinating? One would think that Google and Wikipedia could give us all the information and all the answers. For certain things, it’s not just information that you think. It’s the actual feeling that the belief, trust and hope from a higher power invoke in you. The atheist might argue that all the power that you need is within you and that might be true. Yet, who or what is that power within you? If there’s no higher power, however you may choose to call it, what is it then all about? Is it all about self-confidence and all that bullshit “trusting yourself”?

I’m a rather proud person and do have sadistic tendencies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably equal to every single one of you, I’ might be similar to you but not the same. In my greatest difficulties, in my greatest worries, fears and uncertainties, I’ve lost the self-confidence. Because in those difficulties I had no control over life, over health, over relationships, over money, you name it. In those moments, no matter how long they last we lose control. The uncertainty might be so scary, so that in order to overcome it we need to believe in a higher power and allow the trust in that higher power and others help us and shine a light on our way. Because if that doesn’t happen is all about resignation after that, isn’t? And who wants to admit they are giving up and have others feel sorry for them? I know I don’t. So I choose to believe.

I choose to believe that there ‘s a higher power. What it is or who it is, is a personal question, a question worth asking. Finding the answer might not really be the main point I want to make. Spirituality and religion are moth malleable. Each interprets it the way they choose to. And that’s only fair, as each of us has a unique perspective of the world.

Now, acting upon what you believe is in accordance to what/who you believe in every single day might be more fulfilling and closer to your heart than paying taxes to churches and visiting temples. And when I’m asked I do say I’m a muslim, whereas I’m defining that for me as I go. Where do I draw lines and where do I let go? What brings me closest to Him/Her/It? Art is my way of feeling closest to this higher power I currently call Allah or God. Art in any way; through dancing, painting, playing the violin, learning new languages, taking care of me, traveling, deeply and naturally loving and caring for someone with no judgement. My Allah has only good and positive intentions. My Allah is empowering, trusting, full of hope and unconditional love. That’s my Allah. How’s yours?

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We all have a dark side. Most of us go through life avoiding direct confrontation with that aspect of ourselves, which I call the shadow self. There’s a reason why. It carries a great deal of energy.

Lorraine Toussaint

I seem to keep coming back to the same questions. I seem to keep coming back to the same answers. It feels like I keep landing to the same thoughts. Somehow however I end up -well, at least in certain areas of my life- to different results. Which would intuitively mean that I’m indeed doing something different, wouldn’t it? Maybe the questions are somewhat different, or the answers are tweaked. I’m having trouble understanding how it all changes, and sometimes not.

In the last couple of months, I’ve been love struck by my inner child. And it’s somehow a new-found land. A new place that I haven’t really known, a place that I’m inventing as I go. Invention comes with a certain playful sentiment of curiosity and the allowance for experimentation. I feel I am in a jungle of emotions, thoughts, behaviours, beliefs and values. And weirdly enough it feels scary yet fascinating at the same time. And what surprises me and at times leaves me at awe the most is the courage it takes to lean into the fear, lean into the unknown, lean into this jungle and embrace it for what it is. 

 

I imagine me getting beaten by the annoying mosquitos, being afraid of hissing sounds, being scratched by trees and plants, sometimes being splashed from sudden rain and others being frustrated, tired and breathing heavily because of the endless warmth and humidity. And in this jungle, it’s hard to say if you’ve taken the right path or not. All you know is the way you’ve already passed. The innate hope that there’s something better ahead keeps you going and gives you the strength to explore more.

And the process can be frustrating, tiresome, lonely, exhausting on your body, mind and spirit. But you keep going on. Because apart from all this there’s something exciting about The Unknown. And you can’t help but have faith that there’s something better than what you’ve already seen. Could you go back? Would you go back? Should you go back? Is The Known really known? Is it better? Safer? So, then you decide to just be for a moment, stay dormant, stay still. Maybe then, you wonder at least you know The Now. Or do you? Did you?

In this jungle I constantly find myself taking action and interpret situations based on what I’ve experienced from The Known. Other times, though, I rebel. And I do everything differently. “Fuck the Known, YOLO”, I tell myself. And then I mentally prepare for the thunders and storms ahead. Because they will come. The mind needs to prepare for the worst. Resigning is not an option anyways. Relentlessness is the skill that I’m learning, the resistance and strength my body, mind, and spirit can exert under new circumstances.

How pathetic! I’m sometimes pathetic. But I won’t apologise for that. I’m pathetic for being human, for being such a perfectly imperfectly designed machine. I’m pathetic for doing my best. I’m pathetic for expecting so much from my body, mind and spirit. I’m pathetic for having the hubris to even think I could be better, do better, love more, care more, have more. I’m pathetic for not knowing what I want. I’m pathetic for trying and doing so much. I’m pathetic for it being able to focus. I’m pathetic for not being fast enough or slowing down enough. I’m pathetic for having so many interests. I’m pathetic for being scared. I’m pathetic for daring to dare. I’m pathetic for daring to dream. I’m pathetic I’d even think I deserve better. I’m pathetic for swinging between ideas, goals, skepsis and praxis, avoiding
and confronting, pushing away and pulling in, happiness, fear and sadness, loneliness and belonging, having control and giving it up, freedom and bondage, autonomy and dependence, safety and danger, narcissism and altruism. How pathetic is the randomness of it all and how confusing it all sounds!

I‘m in a blue sea swimming, floating, drowning. And then I’m saved from the light, brutal waves, the sounds of past, present and future calling my name, the Vast, a piece of safe, warm land, this do-it-yourself inner creature of my phantasy.


I‘m in a blue sea swimming, floating, drowning. And then I’m saved from the light, brutal waves, the sounds of past, present and future calling my name, the Vast, a piece of safe, warm land, this do-it-yourself inner creature of my phantasy.

“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear …, Happy Birthday to you!”

Some of us have heard this song, others not. The Birthday song might be important for you and or might leave you indifferent.

When I was younger I did not really like to celebrate my birthday. I would say that the only birthday party that is still engraved in my hypothalamus is when I was turning 18. Before that I do not remember making such a fuss about a birthday party, even though I saw evidential photos of a time during my birthday party I vaguely remember. That must have been when I was 8. I was not looking excited! lol

I was born during midnight so I am blessed (or cursed, depending on how you choose to look at it) to listen to this song and accept “Happy Birthday” wishes 48 hours in a row. My sisters usually start a week ahead and prolong them for another week and at some years they have been doing it for months after or before it! A part of me disliked having all this attention, it was kind of losing its meaning. So you can imagine how delighted I was to realise that in the last couple of years, new beginnings in their lives took the attention away from me. I am now able to have some peace of mind and can be left alone to celebrate my birthday for the time I get to define.

My birthday(s) is important to me and I am always a bit taken aback when other people are indifferent, do not care or are sad during their birthdays. When I ask why they are feeling that way some say they consider it just a day like others with a typical “It is just a day, Sabrina”, others choose to stay silent and look at the floor as if they are regretting something, feeling sad or sorry they are growing up (or as they choose to see it, “getting older”). And when I ask “What do you want to do for your birthday?”, the reply has more often than usual rather the same tone and a simple word, “nothing”. Inside I am thinking, “Is that really true or are you expecting a surprise? How can you do nothing and expect nothing? Is that so bad? ” I eventually accept their opinion and switch to another topic.

Nowadays I am not the person that chooses to make a big birthday party. I would rather spend my birthday alone or in the company of special few people. And this depends naturally on which country I am and if I am actually on holidays during that time. In the past couple of years I allowed myself to be on holidays during the week(s) of my birthday and I must say it was the most I have enjoyed it, whether I was alone or with company. I prefer to be in nature, be either close to the beach or walk in the woods, up in the mountains of an unexplored, new area for me. Experiencing something new on my birthday is the most beautiful present I can give to myself and I gladly share this with beautiful people.

This year my sister Stef and I took a road trip in Scotland. Before we even began the trip I was clear that there will be a lot of walking/hiking and eating mostly vegetables, nuts and fruits. I must admit I had my doubts whether she will be willing to go with it or not. Less than 24 hours from flying we realised that we weren’t actually traveling to Edinburgh, we were actually traveling to Manchester. We were both taken by surprise! But Stef was a trooper, she booked the tickets, and soon we were on our way! My doubts were alleviated 🙂

Scotland is a beautiful land. We had the chance to visit several sites, see beautiful lakes and enjoy breath-taking views and sites. We stayed active by hiking up to Ben Nevis and around the regions of Loch Ness and Loch Lomond. We stayed -this time rather inactive-in a castle/hotel for the first time, enjoyed a luxurious “Tea Afternoon” – one the Queen of England would drool over- and stopped spontaneously throughout the road trip to practice our photography skills (mine currently at 0) and take in the views. We also managed to misfuel our little black and red Citroen, which was retrospectively one of the greatest sister bonding moments. Oh! And we managed to lose our way on the first day. Waze saved the day, or as we ended up calling the male voice behind it, “Louis” did. Within the midst of the adventure we realised that my sister could be allergic to a pinkish flower in Scotland, the ones you can see below. Well, either that or she managed to get a bit sicky. Yes, it was a new experience, full of mistakes and lessons. I would not change anything about it! It was loads of fun and a great way of unloading!

 

Tony Robbins teaches the so called 6 Basic Human Needs:

Certainty/Security

Uncertainty/Variety

Love

Significance

Growth

Contribution

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I stand by them because so far I am able to recognize and identify why people do the things they do based on these 6 needs. You don’t have to be Tony Robbins though to understand how each of my needs have been fulfilled by simply taking this trip. And here is where I come to the meaning of birthdays. What birthdays really mean are connection, love, either with yourself, God or others, taking care of yourself -mind,  body, spirit- and learning through new experiences. Birthdays have been made to review, reflect, grow, act upon new beginnings or opportunities.

20180726_160651One was however missing: Contribution. Well, “What does even contribution mean to me?”, I asked myself. I am not sure I have a concrete answer yet but I knew I wanted to offer my services and knowledge for free, out of my heart. By offering people free coaching sessions I was able to start fulfilling this need. I guess, contribution is about transforming someone’s life because they choose so, because they are committed to do so, and you as their coach are there to support, accompany and help them see, touch, feel, hear and smell things they forgot how to, without expecting absolutely anything in return.

Personally I believe that birthdays are “The Celebration of the Self- Past, Present, Future” and shall you desire to experience it to the maximum, feel free to take the 6 Human Needs into consideration and take action in fulfilling each one of them, the best way you know possible.

Now, it is up to you! How do you choose to celebrate your birthday? How has the celebration of your birthday evolved or changed throughout the years? What could you do to fulfill all 6 basic human needs for your upcoming birthday?

Dedicated to my sister, Andrea

Lately, I was inspired by a friend of mine, let us call him Benjamin, to delve more into the topic of philosophy. He, himself, is one of those people you meet, with whom you can talk about anything and anyone! If you do not know such people, I urge to scout for one, and hold auditions, the more the merrier! I found myself being attracted to this kind of knowledge, maybe him as well 😉

pexels-photo-623046.jpegAfter a long day’s work, I usually have time to explore the small, cute kiosk in the main train station of Basel. This one is a bit bigger than your normal kiosk. Entering it, you see stands of colourful, categorised magazines, newspapers and books, knowledge written in German, English, French, Spanish or Italian. When I enter it, I feel little sparks of curiosity  bubbling around my head. 

One day, as I was in the kiosk, my eyed dropped on Philosophie Magazine, written in German. In my head, I could hear Benjy rambling about what democracy and meritocracy are and if they really exist.

pexels-photo-803844.jpegWhat intrigued me was of course the theme. The writers in that issue were exploring “Where does New come from?” and if new even exists. They dived into it by analysing and deepening opinions of past and new philosophers. I had decided not to buy the magazine. I wished to figure out an answer that is true to me, without any input or bias from others. Since then, questions like, “What is new?”, “Does New exist?” started bombarding my brain.  Personally, this would have never been a question I would ask myself, yet I found myself really searching for the answers, any answer! And the weeks were running faster than a peregrine falcon!

And so began the long, sometimes frustrating, other times confusing, and the rest of times inspiring story of defining what is new and if it really exists or not.

We call something old. This infers, therefore, that it used to be once new. As we were born in this world we were new to this world, and getting old with every fraction  of a minute. Yet, according to the CIA World Factbook and indexmundi.com there are 258 worldwide births per minute or 4.3 births every second (2016 est.) (PS: here you can find a live count of babies born www.theworldcounts.com)

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So being born or having birth is actually quite old, we have been propagating forever! Now, I can imagine a mother reading this and getting furious at what I am saying but looking at this objectively, couldn’t it be true? It might be. It is such a wawawoom statement to make, just to shake the waters. Believing it, however, breaks my heart and destroys my spirits. It is so contra-intuitive to exclaim such a thought! Even when I was writing it down, I felt a bit upset and sick inside. Vomitus alert!

After weeks of deliberation, confusion and so forth, I had decided to buy the magazine for some clarity. Something inside of me, till this day, does not allow me to open it up and read. So, I chose to discuss the topic with friends and colleague.

Benjamin came to the rescue! He gave me a clearer, more hopeful, inspiring and positive piece of his thoughts. He was looking at me curiously, almost weirdly suspiciously and gave me a little smile. He took a breath and said in a rather “I know it all” voice: “Being born might be nothing new to the world, unless you make it mean something. You being born to the world was new to your parents and you! The first time you ate, talked, walked was new to you and your environment.”

Suddenly, I had realised it all has to do with how we perceive the world and what kind of meaning we put to things and events that occur. “The Idea, the Power of New exists in relation to our perception!”, I exclaimed in brightness!

Hmm, doesn’t then everything and the meaning we allow and choose to give to anything happen in relation to our perception?

Now, now… That is enough food for our brain! And you guessed it! It’s your turn! When was the last time a magazine fascinated you? What magazines would you be interested to buy?

Be like Benjamin, be courageous and share a piece of your mind, even your opinion on “New” 🙂 I am curious to know what you think!