body talk: winter hands and nails

In the past, I've always been a mind-over-body type of person. Ever since starting college, the success I achieved with my mind at work seemed most important, most trivial. I set my appearance and body to the side, not really thinking about how all these different aspects are actually connected - and one. Over the past few years, my body and appearance have suffered, and that has played a large role in how I feel about myself as well. As part of my little journey to happiness, I realized that I have to give my body some attention as well. By no means do I aspire to be a beauty blog, that is just not my kind of thing. Through Body Talk, I venture to connect with my body once again - from small things to more trivial aspects, like winter hands or my daily fitness routine -, and give them the attention they deserve.

winterize hans & nails

Hands. Your two little helpers, who are probably at work from the moment you rise in the morning until you lay down in bed at night. Your direct bodily connection to other people, in most cases. And one of the top worrisome aspects of my body. My hands have always been rather difficult: from callous to extremely dry skin, to constantly ripping and tearing nails, my hands are one part of my body that I am always terribly aware of. Mostly, I try to keep them out of sight as much as possible, avoid others seeing the terrible state they normally are in. Especially the colder months are rough, as you can see here. Usually, I never put much effort into them, other than slapping on some polish in order to hide my crackled nails. However, for the past few summers, I've been treated to a little trip to Julep, a beauty parlor where my hands and nails were buffed and polished, ready to take on the summer. I always intended to keep up with this little treat for myself, but never did. Until now, when I received a little winter-tutorial from Julep to share with all, which has been keeping my hands and nails stand strong in this Bavarian cold.


my stories pt. four, therapy

A while back I read the book ‘The Gift of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are’ by Brené Brown. She talks about the power of vulnerability, and owning up to our stories – that is, the painful ones that might be seen as imperfections in this world of ours – to reach happiness in your life and with yourself, which she beautifully describes as Wholehearted living. As someone who is constantly striving for happiness, while in a constant battle with my imperfections, this book seemed as if it were written for me. During the next couple of weeks, I will take a leap, and share my stories with you. Feel free to share yours as well!

Over the past few months, I shared stories about my perfectionism, my anxiety and my eating disorder. Today I want to share my last confession, my last imperfection that wraps up my other stories: I am in therapy. Though it seems that slowly, the taboo on therapy is breaking, it is still one of the stories I kept to myself all these years, only a handful of people that are close to me knowing about it. The taboo always remained in my mind: I didn't want people to see me as one of 'those' people, that they would see me only as a person who is mentally ill. But it wasn't only other peoples' opinions that haunted me during those days when I still resisted coming to terms with my situation. It was mostly my own. Admitting that I was sick, suffering from my perfectionism, my anxiety and my eating disorder, that I couldn't handle it all and function in this world as I should felt like I failed at life. And going to therapy was the official label. I struggled for months and months until I just couldn't anymore. I had to admit that I was not okay and do something I found - and still find - very hard to do: ask for help.

In the end, going to a psychologist is no different than going to a doctor: something is not okay, and you're going to the right person to (help you) fix it. But in a society in which people are rather closed off from each other, emotions are triumphed by rationality and we are driven by our successes, admitting that you go to therapy can be really difficult - even though those factors make up for a world that is sometimes difficult to handle. I have been in therapy since I was nineteen, and at twenty-three, I still go. Talking about my personal issues was extremely scary at first, since I am a rather introverted, closed person by nature. But starting out with psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and a program to gain weight and tackle my fear of food, I can honestly say that it has been one of the best choices and most important experiences I have gone through so far. Not only did I learn to handle my other stories, it has also given my a great insight into the person I am and want to be. Admitting that I am in therapy should not change one thing about the way other people perceive me. It only says that at one point in my life, I was not okay and I needed help. And that is okay.


instadiary november

This November definitely showed its two sides: the first two weeks were filled with perfect, gorgeous fall weather, whereas the last two welcomed a cold and gray winter. It was also a busy month, work-wise: many, many deadlines were coming up and exhibitions had to be opened - but I still managed to plan in some fun here and there!

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1. Early November, the weather was still perfect for a long stroll through the English Garden. The brightly colored yellow and red leaves were slowly turning into darker shades, but it still made an amazingly pretty picture.
2. When going out at night, I often take the U-bahn (metro) to get from point A. to point B. I suddenly realized how many lovely patterns and colors can be found in those otherwise rather dark, smelly and damp stations.
3. I rediscovered the joys of lipstick (and that I should clean my mirror more often)!

4 + 5 + 6. On a whim, I made a short day trip to Salzburg, a beautiful little baroque city, known as the hometown of Mozart! I was surprised at how well-preserved the city is; it takes you right back to the baroque periods of the 17th and 18th century. I visited the museum for modern art, mozart's Geburtshaus, the cathedral and strolled around the city while eating ridiculously good Bosna-sausages and plenty of Mozart-kugeln (read more about it here.)

7 + 8. I got busy in the kitchen as well, and made this delicious savoury puff pastry pie with loads of mozzarella, tomatoes and herbs, as well as a batch of healthy agave-sweetened almond, cranberry and raisin granola bars.
9. Starbucks works well in every season, right? When I want to treat myself diverge from my usual Skinny Vanilla Late, I normally go for the o-so-loved Pumpkin Spice Late (I tried the Toffee Nut, wasn't a fan), though this time they also offered an Almond & Honey Hot Chocolate. So good!


taking things slow

The world around us seems to get faster and faster by the minute – and our lives are hastily trying to keep up with its pace. Our days are filled with work, tasks and appointments from the early morning hours until the late, dark evenings, our cell phones never leave our side and at the same time, the Internet keeps us up to date about what is happening with the rest of the world. We are constantly busy: coffee dates, working out at the gym, blogging, Skype-sessions, going out for dinner or drinks, making albums, openings, readings, lectures, jogging, painting, Facebooking and Instagramming - whatever you can think of. It seems that today, a successful life is a busy one; jam-packed from the moment you open your eyes.

And to be honest – it is wearing me down.

Most recently, I noticed it last week. It was a hectic week, full of work projects, exhibition openings, meet-ups with friends, dinners and traveling back home for a few days. In and of themselves fun activities, but I have to admit: only halfway through the week, and I was already exhausted. From seven in the morning until ten in the evening, I was running around trying to finish my never-ending to-do list, which was actually filled with other things that should bring me joy: work-outs, a writing challenge, blogging, reading, scrapbooking. All of these things should bring me pleasure, but with a day filled to the brim, the element of joy was nowhere near. I felt overworked, sleep deprived and irritated that I didn’t manage to finish my list on any day of the week. I just wasn’t able to do it all with love and up to my standards anymore. It felt like a mindless stream of actions, following each other up. A few weeks back I realized it during the weekend: my Sunday was packed with activities I had wanted to do for a long time, but it felt like as task, trying to wrap up another day. I realized that I started to feel guilty about doing nothing for a moment, and with that lost sight of myself, what I value and what I love.

This got me thinking: why am I letting my life slip away due to busyness? Instead of enjoying my morning coffee, I’m gulping it down as I run towards work. Instead of taking in and noticing my environment during my walk to the office, I’m pre-writing and e-mail I want to send out that day (while running!). Instead of actually watching a movie, I’m also reading an article for my internship and am chatting away with my boyfriend on Facebook. Instead of feeling creative while working on my scrapbook, it has become just one more thing on my to-do list to tick off. Instead of eating my lunch in front of my computer or unconsciously chewing down my dinner as fast as I can, I want to take time for a break and actually have a real meal. I want to have a nice night in without feeling bad about it, instead of pushing my body to its limits and forcing myself to go for an hour-long run after a long and stressful day at the office. It simply has become too much, and it feels as if it has taken me away from actually living and experiencing life intentionally, savoring the moments as they are.

Which is why I’ve decided to slow things down. Cut out the distractions: I want to start doing less and focus on one thing at a time. I don’t want to rush through these things, but enjoy them as intensely as I can. I want to be able to let that strict to-do list and the anxiety that comes with it, go. I want to be able to stop, take a breath, and take it all in. Life shouldn't be taken for granted, but embraced for all the beauty it has to offer, one beautiful thing at a time.

Let take things slow, shall we?


vegan brownies

Today, I will leave my cheesecake challenge for what it is. After having eaten one to many mini pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes, I needed something else to feed my sweet tooth. But what? Brownies. Who doesn't like them, right? Who could say no to a warm and gooey piece of chocolaty goodness? No-one, right? That's what I thought. So when I was browsing for the perfect brownie recipe, my eye fell on these delicious looking brownies over at IKBENIRISNIET. A vegan, refined sugar-free brownie recipe - it almost sounds healthy, right?


My actual reason for baking this batch, other than my constant sweet tooth, was because I wanted to be a good intern and bring some baked goods with me to the office the next morning. This recipe is basically a no-brainer, but with absolutely delicious brownies as a result. Everyone loved them! I loved them so much, I basically ate them for dinner that night. Really, true story - that's either a new high or low point for me, you decide.


picture perfect salzburg

On a total whim, I took a day off of work, hoped on the train and travelled to Salzburg - only a two-hour train ride from Munich away. I had heard so many stories about this little Austrian city, and as an avid little pianist in my early years, I had always wanted to visit the birthplace of Mozart. Little did I know was that there would a pretty picturesque city amidst the mountains waiting for me, once I stepped off my early morning train.


My first stop was the Museum der Moderne on the Mönchsberg. A fine collection of modern and contemporary art. I wasn't allowed to take any pictures inside, but I strolled through the museum, situated on a cliff high above the city, for a good two hours. The also have a panorama terrace, from which you can get an amazing view of the city. Though it was a cloudy day, Salzburg and its surroundings looked absolutely stunning.


my stories pt. three, me and my eating disorder

A while back I read the book ‘The Gift of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are’ by Brené Brown. She talks about the power of vulnerability, and owning up to our stories – that is, the painful ones that might be seen as imperfections in this world of ours – to reach happiness in your life and with yourself, which she beautifully describes as Wholehearted living. As someone who is constantly striving for happiness, while in a constant battle with my imperfections, this book seemed as if it were written for me. During the next couple of weeks, I will take a leap, and share my stories with you – today’s might be considered triggering. Feel free to share yours as well!

As I’ve previously spoken about my perfectionism and anxiety, this story might be the hardest to share. It is the one perhaps most incomprehensible to the outside world. Its physical effects are visible, but the actual problem enfolds only in your own mind, for no one else to really, truly understand.

At the age of 18, I developed an eating disorder. My perfectionism, anxiety and other circumstances had driven my to the point where I was utterly miserable. Completely unhappy with my life, and myself, I planned to make things better and be happy again. Amongst other things, ‘thinner body’ was on my list as well. I had just survived my first semester in college, and spent my days mostly at my studio apartment watching movies, like the little couch potato that I am, and to be honest – I cannot even remember my eating habits from that period. Many things from the time before I got sick somehow seem like a blur, as if I wasn’t really present – the disorder basically took over my life at that point. I started to make a workout schedule and opted for low calorie foods in order to loose some weight. It started out as a way to ‘loose those ten pounds’ I had slowly gained during the last years of high school and first semester. However, the first month or two weren’t successful. I remember the night as if it was yesterday – I weighed myself at my family home, and completely broke down because I thought I had lost weight, but the scale told me otherwise. Tears flowing down my face at the kitchen table, I felt completely shattered, and vowed to work even harder at losing the weight.