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Tag Archives: Work
“Mac ‘n’ Cheese – Supermarket” is an animated short directed and created by Colorbleed Animation Studios, in Utrecht, the Netherlands. This short film was established by the “Ultrakort” fund, a collaboration between SNS Reaal Fonds, Pathé and Het Nederlands Filmfonds.
Jim Carrey delivered an inspiring commencement speech to Maharishi University of Management’s class of 2014.
Each year around Christmas I start to think about this year review, that I’ve now written for, what? …4 years? During a year I experience so many things. And I’m actually good at pressing pause and reflect on what I learn from this and that. But if I just let a year pass by and quickly put everything behind me, when I enter the new year… will I then be able to remember, what I learned?
So even though I find this task of writing about my findings, reflections, and learnings like too much to overcome, I still force myself to do it. Because I know, I’m happy about it when I’m done. And from what I’ve experienced these past years of doing so; my year review very often make other people think and reflect about their own life. This makes me happy. I’m a true believer of ‘sharing our stories’ as part of connecting people and making this place better.
So what you will read about in this post, is:
- My 2013 in general
- Work, holidays, family, and love life
- Reflections that popped up during the year
- And chosen photos from month to month
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Like I said in the title; my 2013 was about time. Most of the year I spent using time on work. And not really for my own sake. It got to a point, where I didn’t do anything else. I had no life besides work. Life was working. Every now and then I’d count the hours. Because when you’re still at work at 3 AM in the morning for the 3rd day in a row, you start to calculate, how many hours you’ve actually lived in your office for that week. And how many, or rather… how few hours you’ve slept. Even during weekends. Because you spend Sunday with 14 hours of work too.
I chose to focus on the successes, because when you work this much, you create a lot too. And there’s a lot of successes in between. But what starts to cause pain is when you notice all the things in your life, that you don’t spend as much time on anymore… if any time at all. You start to see yourself react in a way, you know for sure, is so not like you. You start to feel pain in your body. And pain in your head. And pain in your heart – from your true needs not being prioritized. And then you start to reflect on your values. What makes you happy in life. What you want in life. And it becomes obvious, that right now – and for way way way too long – you have put all these values aside.
When this comes to your attention new thoughts arrive. Because how to change this? What to do differently? Do I need help? And can I get it? Or am I on my own with this? Can I make the changes here? Or do I need to go to change? And where do I go? Am I sick and tired of what I do – or is it purely because I spend every hour awake on doing this, that I get these thoughts about escaping?
I didn’t want to escape. But I needed time away to connect with myself again. To see things clearly. To make decisions. And to go back and act on them. All this because:
I wasn’t true to myself anymore. I wasn’t true to my values.
I wanted my life back! And I wanted back Laura.
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I remember one day during the spring, when my good colleague Mads and I sat by the canal in Nyhavn after work eating an ice cream. “Laura, why do you do this?” he said – referring to the past 6 months, where I’d been working 70-80 hours per week after the former CEO quit his job. I looked at him, and told him honestly, that I didn’t do this for my own sake. I did this out of stubbornness and will; I didn’t want what happened at the agency to take away the job from one of our developers. And to come through this, I chose to focus on the good things. The successes, even the small ones, like a happy client calling you just because…
2013 has been my hardest year workwise ever. It has sucked out all energy. And I changed due to this. My life changed due to this.
I couldn’t be present
In February – after 4 months of working 70-80 hours pr. week – I noticed, that I hadn’t talked to either my mom or dad for a whole month. When they called me around 10 PM to check, if I was still alive, I looked at the phone display… and pressed the off button. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to be present and actually listen or give anything of myself, if I picked up the phone. And I’d rather home those 20 minutes earlier… at 2:30 AM.
In March my good house colleague Casper said a joke to tease me. And where I’d usually ping pong on this with yet another teasing comment in return, I told him off in a way, that made me realize, I’d completely lost my true, natural energy.
Missing becomes physical
In March I noticed how much I missed my friends. Every Sunday I looked into my time planner. I wanted to have a life besides work. I demanded to have a life besides work! So I let myself keep one of the plans during the upcoming week. Like a concert or a birthday party. And then I cancelled all other plans. This made me miss seeing and spending time with my friends. I even felt it in my body. And whenever I did see them, I was tired. And my mind was a thousand places, making it even harder to focus and to enjoy just being there.
It wasn’t about having fun while working anymore. It was about getting things done and get them out of the way. Working like a machine.
I learned how to manipulate myself
I’ve always known myself and my body very well. Which means, I also know my stress symptoms very well. I’ve worked in the advertising industry since 1999. So I’ve met these symptoms many times. But never ever to this extreme. And never ever for this long without a pause. During spring of 2013 I learned to manipulate all these stress symptoms. It was as if I knew exactly what minute to stand up or go and get something to drink. When to take 15 minutes in the fatboy chair, before continuing with 7 more hours of work. How much to stretch it… like at 2 AM when my sight started to blur, and my head hurt so much, and I knew I just needed to go straight to bed… but I kept working for yet another hour to get done. As if the work you do after a 16 hour work day is amazingly good.
When ever I went to the kitchen at work to get something to drink, I was hoping I wouldn’t meet anyone. Because when you meet people, you are expected to small talk. And the natural Laura would do this out of joy and normality. But I wasn’t myself. I couldn’t involve myself in my house colleague’s thoughts, projects, or weekends. I didn’t have time to listen. Or to chat. Their information was too much for me. I hated that it had come to this. But taking the time to chat with them in the kitchen wasn’t the way for me to change this.
Wanting to escape
May 2013 was the first time I started to ‘escape’. In my mind. I remember thinking: “What if I had a job… still in this digital, creative, innovative, business developing space… but in an environment, where you can actually have a life on the side. Where, if I leave from work at 6 PM, I’m the last one?”.
I’d gotten a new colleague, who’s temper I had a hard time dealing with. Mostly because he couldn’t control his temper. Twice a week I had to ask him to take a deep breath, and lower his voice when he spoke to the rest of us. We don’t have any employees with hearing problems. But we might get some, if this continued. One meter from us. With a pointing finger in our faces. Caused by frustrations or worries about things that could happen… but hadn’t happened. Sometimes I succeeded with avoiding these yelling temper situations, that not only was uncomfortable, but completely crossed my limits. But many times I couldn’t catch them as his temper escalated. So being yelled at became weekly happenings. And I found myself dealing with them in different ways as time passed by. From feeling empathy in the beginning, and trying to understand his personality. To getting angry because I couldn’t accept this behavior. To shutting my mouth and let him empty his verbal trash can on top of me, just closing my ears, and mentally putting a shield around me, until he’d used up all his energy, and I then were able to reach him with words in a sensible manner. Or tears. Sometimes after 25 minutes of frustrations being poured over me, my system was so tired, that silent tears would start to run from my eyes. And every time this happened, it was like my tears reached his vulnerability. “Laura, don’t cry. It’s not about you”, he’d say. And I’d respond with: “I know. But I’m the receiver of your temper. And you need to learn to control this! It makes me lose my respect for you. It makes me not able to reach you. I cannot accept this – on me or the other guys. I completely lose my energy every single time this happens”. Whenever I talked to the board about this, I got the same answer: “We really like that you guys have such different personalities. The company gains from this ‘good cop, bad cop’ combination”.
In May I started to look forward to my summer vacation – in August. Summer was the best time of work this year, because the office was quiet. The clients were gone on holiday. And I only worked 50-60 hours per week. I worked on some of the ideas, that I’d been putting away for more than a year due to lack of time. So finally I could press off on the machine – and work out of passion again.
I felt alone
During summer I remember thinking a lot about what stress is. And how you need help with this. I felt awfully alone with this issue, because it wasn’t taken seriously at work from my colleagues on my own level. Since I still looked (somewhat) appropriate and was still able to joke around and spread good vibes at work… I was still the same old Laura, right? Even though you can tell your friends about situations at work, they aren’t there everyday. And they never know how extreme this actually is. I had one colleague, who was worried about me. Many nights he’d chat me up on Skype telling me to go to bed. But in situations like this, you need the top level to take this serious. Which is hard, when they, too, don’t see you every day. And don’t experience for themselves, how extreme this is.
A boyfriend would have been a witness
I remember telling my friend Maria, that sometimes I was so happy, that I didn’t have a boyfriend. Because then I didn’t have yet another person expecting something from me. But on the other hand; if I had just had a boyfriend, I’d have a daily witness of this extreme way of living. Someone who’d say: “Laura, it’s not alright to come home from work at 3 AM 3 nights in a row… again this week”. Someone who’d be there, who’d listen, who’d protect me… and who I would protect from having such a tired, un-present girlfriend – never kissing him goodnight, until he’d already slept for hours.
I remember thinking: “Is stress something you’ve got, only if you chose to go to the doctor, so she can write it on a piece of paper?”. Because as long as you don’t have a breakdown – with loosing your voice or crying in front of a client in the middle of a presentation – then it’s not bad enough? So if I choose not to go to my doctor… and not to tell her… then I’m not stressed. Enough. Enough to be taken serious.
And as time pass by, and this is your daily life, things start to blur anyway. Things melt together. Your limits move. When limits are crossed, you find a new level to stand on. Or to survive on. To get through this.
I didn’t tell my doctor. Because I didn’t know what we’d do with the answer I knew for sure I’d get.
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I planned my summer vacation very strategic. I needed time away to look at my life. To look at my values. What I want in life. How I want my life to be. How I want my every day to be. So I decided to only go places, I’d been before – and with family or friends, I really know well. And who I didn’t have to ‘be there for’. I needed to be there for myself.
First stop was Piemonte, Italy
The first week I went to my dad’s ex wife’s house in Piemonte in Italy – with her, my oldest younger brother Eske and his girlfriend Christina. I’ve been there before. And it was nice to go back and see this amazingly beautiful landscape again. Her house is located in a very non-touristy area, which makes the small nearby town called Ceva even more Italian. Very authentic. When I’m there I feel like I step right into the year of 1938.
I brought a book, that I’ve read before. I only read books, when I’m on vacation. And I’m a slow reader, so I never get very far. I’ve got many books on my bookshelves. Because there’s so much stuff in the world – put into books – that I’d love to learn about. But reading is not a great way for me to gain knowledge. I lose my concentration and I get tired.
During my vacation, the total vacation, I finished the book and started on the sequel. Which I haven’t read a single page in, since I got home… in September. But anyway… The last time I read both of the books was about 7 years ago. They are by Michael Newton and about the “Journey of Souls – case studies of life between lives”. I love these two books. Growing up I’ve always been interested in spirituality, personal development, psychology and topics like these. And when I read these books 7 years ago, it was the very first time, I ever read something where my own thoughts and beliefs on what life is and why we’re here and what happens next were put into words. They give me that feeling of confirmation, you know, that “yes, this is it… yes, I know… exactly, I’m with ya… aha, yeah, right”…
Returning to childhood memories in Christiansø, Denmark
Next destination was Christiansø – the isle of Christian, the easternmost part of Denmark. I went here for a week with my mom. As a child we always went here; me, my brothers and sisters, and my parents. Either camping or in our sailboat. Only 100 people live here. The place is truly magical. You’re in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Far from everything. Completely dependent of the weather situation. High season had just ended. And my mom and I blended in with the locals. This week was about revisiting childhood memories, feeling close to nature, being close to history… the place tells a thousand stories from its past – as a fortress with soldiers and prisoners in a way, that you can still visualize the soldiers on guard, when you walk home at night with fresh water to your cabin…
This week was also about silence. Just sitting of the rocks with my mother and a blanket. Looking at the sea, listening to the sea gulls, reading in a book, or taking a nap… and the only todo of the day was deciding what to eat.
Andalusia, Spain – and what I didn’t want
I spent the 3rd week of vacation in Andalusia, Spain, with my good friend Tobias. I’ve been there before, and it’s such a beautiful and relaxing place. We ate well, hung out in the sun, and swam in the ocean. And listened to Moderat’s track Bad Kingdom, almost, on repeat. The chorus “This is not what you wanted. Not what you had in mind” pin pointed exactly, how I felt about life back home in Copenhagen. Work life.
I cried my eyes out one night, while telling Tobias about the situations at work. At this time I was so frustrated. And sad. All these thoughts had nothing to do with what else I wanted instead. I just didn’t want it this way.
During the week in Spain I noticed something incredible one day. My headache was gone! The strong ache in my temples in each side of my head had gone. I couldn’t remember any day in 2013 where it hadn’t been there. It had become part of being awake. But yay! It was gone with the Mediterranean wind.
Unfortunately the headache returned the very night before going back to work…
My dad’s house in Sweden
I extended vacation with 4 days in Sweden with my close friend Maria. We both needed time for peace and quietness, girl talk, huge brunch tables in the mornings, long walks in the woods, starring at the lake, listening to the sounds of nature, and talks about values, work life, balance, and love life, while putting more wood in the fireplace, and look at it burn, as if it was TV. And eating cake and cheap Swedish candy.
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The good thing about returning to work in September, was, that I felt straight away, how much I really love what I do. I felt the drive – and how proud I got and how much energy I gained, when a client phoned me that day with pure compliments. Due to my many thoughts about work the past time, I’d been worried about, if all this had made me lose my interest in my job and the industry.
I’ve always felt, that the ad industry is an unhealthy one to work in if you’re in your 30’s and have a leadership position. The demands are high. And consistent. And you very often think, that nothing will ever be good enough. Whenever you make something good or reach the target, you just need to do it even better the next time. And even though we celebrate with hugs, high-fives, or even fancy dinners and drinks – you barely get to swallow your food, because you need to run into the next meeting about the next briefing for the next project to reach the new goals. We run and run and run and run…
A thousand questions
The first couple of days in September, I was extremely frustrated. I knew I needed to do something about my situation. But I wasn’t sure what yet. I didn’t want to let down the guys at work and just leave as if I didn’t care for them. But I didn’t want this. I’ve never thought about leaving the industry. But now I did. Because would I be able to find an agency, where people worked ‘normal’ hours. And would work life outside of agency life suit me at all? Wouldn’t I get bored? Or feel that everything went awfully too slow? Would it be creative enough for me? What would a hybrid digital creative like me do outside of the ad industry? Would they put me in a box? And make me work with just one area? Who was I outside of advertising and digital? I’ve grown up in this industry. I came here 14 days after high school, when I was 20 years old – and I never left. Part of my identity is here. I know this industry. And I know what to do here – and how we do stuff here. Really, this industry is all I know. I know what I love about this industry. And what is challenging and hard. And unhealthy. But it’s still home to me. Would I feel at home in another industry? Would I even want to, really?
Saying it out loud
I started talking to a few people about my thoughts. The people closest to me. Which helped. Saying these things out loud, which I’d mainly kept to myself all through the year. When you work in a small industry like advertising, in a small city like Copenhagen, you cannot speak freely about thoughts of quitting your job. Because your word spreads like fire.
And the very first thing, people will ask you, when you mention these thoughts, is: “Then what do you want to do?”
But this wasn’t about the replacement.
In the beginning of September I found out, how hard it is to find another job while having a 70-hour work week. Someone asked me to come and visit them for an interview. But having no spare time in your calendar, when do you make this happen? And will you even be able to actually take in the vibes from this new place? Are you able of feel what you want?
Then something important happened…
I got angry
During a meeting, when I got more tasks pointed out for me to do, and I asked us to be reasonable, a colleague of mine looked at me very frustrated and said: “I get so annoyed with you mentioning work hours. So what if you need to work for 10 more hours per week. It’s just for a period of time”. This sentence got important to me – especially coming from someone who only worked 40 hours per week. Because 10 more hours for me would be 80. And I’d done this all through winter time. And I never want to do the same ever again. “Just for a period of time” was not true. The period of time had already started way back in September 2012. And I’d been working like this for 12 months now. So this wasn’t “a period of time” to me. At all! This was my life! How my life had become.
So finally I got angry.
Actually I got furious. I just didn’t show it then. I silenced. Because spending more energy wasn’t worth it. As I biked home from work, I saw a postman in his vehicle. I remember thinking: “What if I had a job, where I just needed to do stuff. Not really using my head. Just deliver, and then leave”. Of course I knew, that a job like this would bore the brain out of me within just 2 days. But it could be an escape. Later this evening I thought the same thing about the waiter: “What if I should just serve people and make them happy. And never be forced to constantly make up new stuff”. If I had a job like this, imagine all the cool projects I could do in my spare time. Of course I know I was stereotyping big time. But it was clear to me, that I had these escape-thoughts once more.
Anger is useful for pushing things away
That night out I was so angry. Which made me not care. And I needed this. Because I’d cared way too much about my work place and my colleagues for far too long. The great thing about anger is, that it’s extremely useful with helping you to push things or people away from you. Anger helped me with this.
The very next day, I felt huge sorrow. Because what happened inside of me would change my everyday life. I’ve put so much work and effort into my job and agency, into the clients, and into my awesome colleagues. And what I knew I had to do, would put myself in a completely new situation without these people. Who I cared for. And without all the work, that we’d build up. And then what? What’s next? What would I do? I cried on the phone with my mom that day. And with my friend Maria too. And then I went to bed – only to wake up in a completely calm state of mind…
The rise of the totem pole
During my sleep it was as if a solid totem pole had risen up through my spine. And this one sentence was clear – and made me feel peace and comfort: “I don’t want this. And that’s all I need to know”.
So a week later I went to the board telling them, that I didn’t want to be partner in the agency anymore. I knew saying this out loud would have huge consequences. Because when saying this, you also say: “I’m not part of the team anymore”. I needed for the board to take action, instead of myself. Because this would give me more time. Time I needed to get in touch with myself again. To find Laura again. And my true energy and being.
I got fired
Two weeks later I got fired. The agency are closing down my position and returning to their core business; being a code house and a subcontractor for other agencies.
I not only felt a huge relief. I felt free.
My last 3 months of working with the agency I spent working from my home office – finishing up projects and assignments. I noticed, that after just one week of working from home, my creativity returned. And also my energy for creating new stuff. Side projects. For years, whenever I’d gotten a great idea for something, it had made me kind of frustrated. Because I never had time to actually develop any of it. But now I could. Now I felt the energy. Now I could build my own stuff and turn ideas into execution. One of the projects being Mindre End Tre, which a lot of Danish tweeps got to know very well during December.
I made new findings within myself during these last 3 months of 2013. Besides feeling inspired and feeling creative again, I also felt extremely tired. For the past 3 years I’d been used to sleeping only 5-6 hours per night. Now I needed to sleep 9-10 per night. It scared me a bit. Hello stress relieve. But I accepted this. And didn’t try to force it being any different.
I found a new life sentence too, that I started to live from: “I want my life back”.
This sentence was in the back of my head every day. Changing how things were – into how I wanted things. With my family, my friends, my love life, my hobbies… everything but work. I didn’t spend time on worrying about work and the “what’s next” issue. I spent time on focusing on life besides work. I started to think, how I want more challenges outside of work. Not hard ones, of course. Challenges as in focus. Like learning how to sing better. Or learning how to speak Spanish better. Like getting a boyfriend. Saying yes instead of the constant no, when a nice cool guy asks me out.
I just needed to deal with a few more things… like my apartment.
The very first week of working from home, I discovered a huge water damage in my kitchen. Water came up from the kitchen floor! For 2-3 weeks all the water that I’d been using in the kitchen hadn’t reached the downpipe due to a major leak. Instead it had run down to the basement – and filled up the floor separation. Only for me to discover this, when the floor separation was so full of water, that it came up through my kitchen floor.
3 months has just past. And even though I’ve went through the hell of living with a noisy dehumidifier, a broken floor – and then a new floor, it’s still an on-going situation. Because the carpenters didn’t do the floor correctly. And they need to come out and either fix it quite a few places. Or start all over and getting the new floor off to fix the old floor underneath and then put yet another new floor on top. How things like this can make you tired!
As I talked to my dad about though… this water damage was quite symbolic: What I experienced was indeed a true change of fundament. I need new grounds to stand on.
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I WANT A NEW JOB
This New Year’s Eve meant more to me than the past couple of New Years. December 31st was my last day at my old agency. And from January 1st 2014 I’m free to find a new job.
I’m also ready for a new job. I’ve needed these past 3 months to finish off my old job. And finding myself again. And I’ve needed the time to not think about work at all. This means, that I’ve only told the people, I met anyway about my work situation. Which have generated interesting meetings and contacts. But nothing that I’ve committed myself to yet. I am looking at this as a fine opportunity to talk to different companies, also the ones I wouldn’t have considered interesting to me workwise just a few years back. But now I look at the non-agency industry with an open mind too – because I’ve seen how many of the companies here have moved into a digital space the past couple of years, where I’d be able to find the exciting challenges and projects, I like working with.
One of the next couple of days I’ll post a blog post (in Danish), where I’ll be more specific with what I’ve worked with for the past +14 years, what I love doing, and what I’d love to find in my next job.
I want a job:
- in the creative, digital, innovative space
- probably within communication, innovation, marketing, relation, or advertising
- in an environment with talented passionate people
- in a down to earth culture, where people have a life besides work, even due to their passion for it
I know, that I’m driven by ‘making a difference’. This is why I like to build up things too. Instead of only managing and running projects. I love to touch people. With creating that flow, mechanism, communication or concept, that makes a difference to them – either through making things easier or more effective, or making them think, touching their hearts, or making them act or involve themselves.
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In May 2013 I was talking to a friend, Thomas, from the same industry as me. Both of us were single. And we were sitting one night after work by one of the Copenhagen canals looking at the water while having a coffee. We talked about love life. And what was extremely clear to me, was that I didn’t have a boyfriend because I worked as much as I did.
Writing a review of your year, like I’ve done for the past couple of years, makes some things stand out! For the past 3 years in a row, I’d been writing extremely similar year reviews; with how I was working too much, sleeping way too little, and how I hadn’t fallen in love.
I’d changed my behavior to protect myself
I told my friend by the canal, that for the past 8 months I had barely given any man a chance. When I went out with my friends, and a man was smiling at me and trying to get eye contact, I’d act very un-true to myself and look away as quick as possible. If he was consisting, and tried to make a move and come over to talk to me, I very quickly had to go to the restroom or to the bar – just to get away from the conversation.
I didn’t want more people in my life having hopes or expectations to me. And involving myself with a new guy would create exactly this. Not to mention: When will you be able to get to know each other, when you can only offer time for coffee on a specific date 5 weeks from now.
It wasn’t that I lived in complete celibacy. I was just very stingy with my time. And I had to be almost overwhelmed by “there’s something so extraordinary in this chemistry between us, that I need to find out more”.
I didn’t like my new behavior. Not looking people in their eyes. Not being outgoing. Not interacting with new people and strangers. None of this was being the true me. But I was very aware of the behavior. I used it to survive during this phase in my life. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted. I used it to help me focus on the friends I went out with. Or myself.
You don’t get a boyfriend when acting like this.
Focusing on my love life
So in September, when I decided, that I wanted back my life, I also decided to focus on my love life as part of this ‘I want Laura back’ path. I should say yes more often. Yes to coffee, a beer, a walk in the hood or forest. I should give men a chance. Not all, of course. But whenever my curiosity was awaken.
After two weekends in a row, where I’d been out with friends (who are couples), I noticed, that you don’t necessarily talk to any interesting hot stranger, just because you go out. So if I wanted to focus on this, I’d have to ‘put myself out there’ more. So I decided to give internet dating a chance, to open up even more opportunities. And to be able to ‘surf’ through potential ‘I want to get to know you better’ men on a normal Wednesday evening…
Putting myself out there
10 minutes after my registration, I was about to delete my profile! Because my God! When you’re the ‘new lady’ on a platform like this, the welcoming from the men are overwhelming. It’s like they barely look at you – they just want a chance for me to check them out. You get so many irrelevant e-mails from men, who find you exciting or attractive. But who hasn’t thought this through on second; would I ever find him attractive? It’s written pretty clearly, that in general I’m not attracted to men more than 5-6 years above or below my own age. So no… I’m sorry – you’re too much like my little brother. Or you look way way too ‘grown up’ for me to ever be sexual attracted to you… another way of saying old. Thank you for liking my pictures. But have you checked your own? Thank you for finding me interesting, but could you seriously see our lives potentially unite and melt together one day? …our lifestyles and interests being completely opposite.
Politeness is tricky online
The good thing is that after just a couple of weeks, it does become that extra window to look through, alongside of meeting people the old analogue way. I just needed to learn how to reject people faster, without sounding rude. Online it’s like men compare “she responded to my mail with answers to my questions” with “then she must be super into me”. Politeness is tricky online. It’s one of the most easiest things to misunderstand – or put more in to.
I dislike secret people
One of the very first e-mails I got on this dating platform, was a man writing: “Your last name is Jul, right?”. There was no hi or no bye, or no mentioning of his own name. So I found this super shallow. Almost arrogant. And I was just reminded how much I dislike ‘secret’ people. People who give nothing of themselves! So I wrote him back with a sentence almost as short: “Why question, when you already know? Regards, Laura Jul”.
A fine add on
To support platforms like this, I have to say, that yes – even though I hear myself say ‘eww’ inside my head, when ever men around 50 has been checking out my profile – or even worse, when they write… and even though it feels completely overwhelming and full of just irrelevant opportunities, you are able to find interesting likeminded people in there… and a lot of your friends… and hot models and ugly weirdos and a whole lot in between. But out of 400 men looking at you, 5 of them are actually good-looking and present themselves as someone, you can see yourself have coffee with. So it’s a fine ‘add on’ to meeting new people on a normal week day.
I don’t do dates on cafés
Meeting men this way and going on dates reminded me of situations that I had basically been avoiding for the past 8 months. How I really don’t like the typical ‘date’ situation. How I avoid having coffee in a café, I usually go to – because I know for sure, that I’ll meet people I know. And this situation is private to me. In the beginning. I want to avoid the situation of the “we’re new with each other” – how everyone besides us listens to our conversation, because what you ask each other in the very beginning reveals that you don’t even know how he takes his coffee. And a public space like this doesn’t create the surroundings, that will make me more interested in him… like digging deeper into topics, that I find interesting. That makes me get to know him better. The topics or life experiences with learnings from love, pain, damage or suffering. Being able to ask how come – and getting the true answer. And not the “we’re at a public café, where every one can listen” answer.
I also like privacy on a first date better, because it allows me to get physical, when I want. And not when and how it’s appropriate.
You need to be chosen
I’ve been thinking about how important it is – to everyone – that you’re chosen! That the other person chooses you. Seriously, guys… and ladies for that matter… don’t keep on writing someone and trying to get someone, if the person never writes you! There’s a big difference in answering a text or e-mail – and writing one. Notice, if you are the one who get in touch always… and she is the one just answering you. Or chats in return. If she never writes you first – or never starts the conversation – she’s not into you enough! Let her go then. There’s much truth in the saying “Set her free. She’ll come back, if blah blah blah”. You need someone who wants you. Not someone who’s just polite enough to answer you.
And be vulnerable. Say what you want. If what you want is ‘get to know you better’, say it. If what you want is ‘just tonight’, say it. Honesty and being brave will make you go far – and with the right people as companions. With less misunderstandings and less hurt feelings afterwards. I have always wondered why this is so hard to so many people. Everyone wants things to be easy. Especially relations. Yet they put complication on top of complication in to it with their insecurity, their fear of showing true feelings, their masks, their games, their fear of rejection. Rejection may hurt. But fact is, that if you get rejected, you’re not made for each other. At least not as the situation is right now. So there’s really no harm done. He wasn’t the next ‘right one’ for you. So why spend more energy on this?
There’s a huge comfort and acceptance in saying: “I’ve been honest to myself. And also to you. I’ve done, what I could. And that is all I can do”.
So put your cards on the table, where we can both see them. Right next to mine. So together we can play the same game. With honesty and clear sight.
Insecurity is a contagious disease. It can affect even the brave ones. I wish more people would be brave – and dare to be vulnerable. I think vulnerability makes everything more… sharp. Pain hurts more. True. But not for as long. Because you don’t protect yourself from it. You allow yourself to feel it! And the body – or mind – cannot feel this amount of pain for a very long time in a row. So it softens with time. Vulnerability also makes the happy situations even more happy – because your heart is straight open. And you feel the happiness run through your body. You don’t just experience it with your mind. Vulnerability add more to life – in both ends of the spectrum. But I believe this is what life’s about; not going through it being all numb. But gaining and learning from what hurts. And what “happys”.
I like my new focus
Ones love life is truly something you need to choose. And I am grateful I finally decided to focus on it, because it brings a lot of great experiences. And kisses. And sex that tells you, you don’t need to see this guy again. And hot and fun and passionate steamy sex that tells you, you want more of him. And reminders to me about how I love living the couple’s life; Doing things together, thinking about each other, the fun, interesting or touching conversations – during the breaks from having sex… If I am to continue my life with getting only 5-6 hours of sleep each night, I want sex to be the reason instead of work.
The digital clean up
A thing that makes me wonder, which you become aware of when being single, is how many single people, who never ‘clean up’ in their digital space. When you and a boyfriend split up, it’s the most normal thing in the world to take down photos from your living room wall of you and him in Thailand. You and him in love. You and him as partners and family. These photos belong to your past. And therefore you get rid of them, like putting them in the ‘memory box’ in the basement. You never look at them. Because you’re done with him. But you’ve got them. Unless of course you throw them out, because your memory is enough.
You couldn’t blame a man, coming to my place and seeing pictures of me and my old boyfriend, for wondering, if I was still living in my past. Or hoping to return to my past. If I was still keeping photos of me and my ex as my screen saver or on the night counter… in my analogue home… you couldn’t blame the new guy for wondering whether I was ready for something new, right? Or stuck in the past?
The odd thing is, that people forget about this cleanup in their digital home! When you have someone over for the first time in your analogue home, you show them around. This is me. This is where and how I live. Today, when you get facebook friends, people show themselves around. But you are still the one who decides, which doors are open! You decide if albums, or down to the exact photo, of you and your ex, is to be exhibited and shown for all your friends. Or if it’s really just a private matter.
I don’t get, why people don’t do a digital cleanup after a breakup. There’s a thousand relevant ways to show a potential new girlfriend about your past love life. When the timing is right. But I don’t find facebook as being one of them. Because you’re not there for the conversation about it. It’s easy to un-tag yourself. To take down albums or photos and save them locally on your computer or in your cloud – like you do in the basement with the memory box. Or to just privatize them. I am aware that many, with ex (or even ex ex) girl/boyfriend photos on their fb-profile, don’t look at them themselves. But then why should others? Make yourself relevant. And present. For now. You’re past is relevant for sure! But not in every single detail.
Men with a package
During the past couple of years I’ve met some men with a kid from an earlier relationship. Every time this happens conversation about ‘replacement’ shows up. What is obvious is, that a parent have no problem with the thought of their own girlfriend acting as a step parent to their kid. Actually they just love the thought. Because they’ve chosen her… me. And they have feelings for me themselves. But. Even though they are fine with their ex girlfriend getting a new boyfriend, what they fear the most is this new boyfriend acting like a parent to their kid! Taking a father’s role. Their father’s role. The exact same fear as the kid’s mom thinks about me. Me – or the new boyfriend – will we be able to replace them? Will their kid like us better than them?
And truth is, that yes – sometimes! Every kid sometimes finds mommy or daddy annoying. And prefers someone else. But sometimes they’ll find me and mommy’s new boyfriend annoying too. Or all of us. But fact is: We can never replace.
I’ve been the kid with parents, who probably had these kinds of fears at some point way back then. My parents got divorce when I was 6, my mom and her husband when I was 15, and my dad and his wife when I was 21. But what I’ve always loved was my parents: My 6 parents. None of the 4 step parents or parents of my half siblings can ever replace my mom and dad. But I have always felt like the luckiest kid in the world – having 6 grown ups in my life, who loved me, supported me, and wanted the best for me in life.
Whenever I meet a man who has a kid, and I see and hear about his fear of replacement, I tell him about the kid’s perspective. The perspective which is so often forgotten, when couples split up. Imagine receiving love from 6 grown ups – or 4 as it is in most situations. It’s possible to give your kid this upbringing, if you – the adult – work on your respect and cooperation with your ex and her new boyfriend. For your kid. And for yourself and your new girlfriend.
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Every year I drop a few lines about my observations or experiences with members of my family. I’ve got a big one, you know. Many brothers and sisters. And many parents. I love it.
Becoming a man
During 2013 I’ve seen my youngest brother grow into a stronger and more secure man. And I’m so very proud of him. For the past couple of years I’ve seen him be the bravest as he’s ever been. Looked himself in the eyes, even when insecurity and worries would look back. Faced them. And worked he ass off inside himself to make the changes. To become someone who stands tall. And even though he’s still not the first to open the conversation when he’s out, what comes out of his mouth is thought through and clear. The gaining of self-esteem has affected his education- and work life. Not to mention his love life. And truly shows how being brave and honest with yourself – and building up yourself through hard work can make you change your life into the one, you want to live. A life – and a change – you can be proud of too. And on top of all this, he’s still as sensitive, helpful and compassionate as always. Now even better.
Working for it
My youngest sister is my sister and friend. We were born 11 years apart. And therefore our lives are at completely different stages. Nevertheless she’s one of my siblings, who I’ve got the most – personality wise – in common with. She’s one of the people in the world, that I laugh with the most – as in laughing so you cry your eyes out. And she’s the one I cry with the most too – as in crying your eyes out from being touched by… well, youtube clips and all this emo stuff, that we find online and show each other. I am still her big sister. And she is still my little sister. I doubt that this will ever change, because this lies deep in our personalities – and in our relation, no matter how ‘alike’ our age and stages of life time will turn us into being. I admire her; how she manages 2 jobs besides her university life, beside getting good grades, and getting into universities around the world, still being a good friend to her friends, a lovely girlfriend – and an awesome and sweet sister to me. I love that she doesn’t let things stand in the way for her goals for her educations, not even love. Because she knows, that she’s still young. And this is what she needs to do. She’s so true to herself. Also in her love life.
Change of roles
During the past couple of years I’ve seen more and more situations where the ‘parent – daughter’ role start to change… or equal out. It’s as if we’re in the transformation time, where I take over with more of the things, that used to be purely my parent’s “job”. Their responsibilities are no longer just theirs. We are grown up kids. And they are starting to get older. All of my parents are bright and well. But my dad’s overview is not the same anymore. My mom’s legs won’t walk as far anymore. My step mom’s patience isn’t as big anymore. So the roles change. And I step in more. With planning, gathering, hosting…
During spring my mom got aware of a lump in her throat. Which she told me about. Not wanting to tell my other sibling about it. Because she didn’t want to worry them. She’s had a lump in that same area twice before – the first one about 20 years ago. But this time it felt differently. And the doctors couldn’t say straight away whether this was a good or bad sign. Or if this was a benign or malignant lump.
I wanted to join her at the hospital, when receiving the answer. Whether this was cancer – this 3rd time. It was obvious to me, that she would have never asked me herself. To not be a burden. But I felt her relief all the way through the phone when telling her, that I’d go with her. No one should receive information like this by themselves.
It was hard for me that I couldn’t tell my siblings. Especially since I started to feel my mom’s concern stronger and stronger. The night before the hospital appointment she was so worried, because this 3rd time felt so differently, that she didn’t behave like her natural calm self.
You don’t get much sleep on a night before an appointment like this. Knowing, that the message you’ll receive at 10:15 AM the next morning, can change your life in a split second. Not to mention your mom’s life. I was really glad that I could go with her. That she shouldn’t be alone. And that I could hold her hand and look at her, not only facial expression, but whole body expression, as the two serious doctors told her, that there was no cancer in the lump. Yet she needed an operation. It was as if her body melted in the chair… a hundred tears at a time. I saw indeed what relief looks like.
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There’s so much fear in the world. And I have a hard time getting why. Well, I know why. But I don’t get why people allow it. Why they chose not to work harder on not living in fear constantly.
Everyone just wants to be seen. Seen as who they really are. And yet at the same time; everyone is so afraid of showing and telling who they really are. No wonder they aren’t seen then.
Fear frustrates me
Fear creates more fear. Two people can sit right across each other, smiling and laughing – but still be covered in fear. One opens a conversation, but doesn’t tell the whole story, because of fear on what the other person will say. The other person feels that the first person isn’t telling the whole story, which makes him feel uncomfortable and this create the reaction to protect himself… too. So two people meet – and spend time protecting themselves towards their own ideas and fears on how the other person will think or react towards them. So many people live in the fear of rejection. We’ve probably done this ever since the story of man began in East Africa. We know, that Homo Sapiens survived due to our cooperation skills. So not being good a cooperating or fitting in – or being liked by the others – would reject us. And we’d be alone. And we’d die. But seriously; is it not time to change behavior then? To work on this fear? To open up? To be honest? Honest to ourselves too?
I must have a strategy
I get misunderstood quite often, due to the fact, that I have – on this planet – an odd way of apparently living with less fear than the majority. This makes this planet a hard one to live on, I think. Because in some people’s eyes I am too honest and too direct. I must have a strategy with being honest, they seem to think. Some kind of hidden agenda.
A consequence of all this ‘living with fear’ is analyzing. When people keep the truths away from each other due to fear, they analyze what they think the person means. Not considering, that she means exactly what she says. So people will start to analyze on truth and make up own stories. Like if I complement a man in the bar for how the color of his shirt suits him. It’s actually a compliment to the match between the guy and the color he’s wearing. It’s not me saying: “I find you hot. I want to kiss you”. But I made him feel seen. And since this isn’t everyday experience, he will now misunderstand my behavior – because he is not used to honesty. Or being seen.
It was still a compliment
When I want to get to know someone better, I say: “I would like to get to know you better”. I don’t sit around and wait for him to say it first – in fear of being rejected by him. I just say it. Or write it. It’s really very simple. And if I get rejected, we weren’t supposed to get to know each other better. Nevertheless “I would like to get to know you better” was still a compliment to him. And an honest one indeed. So both of us are happy. Him with getting an honest compliment. Me with being true to myself and making a man feel seen.
I’d love to see more daring in the world. More braveness. Less fear of losing or being rejected. Screw rejection. It hurts for such a short time if you deal with it honestly. Rejection helps you find out, who you’re not supposed to be with. Or work with. Or hang out with. Or have sex with. At this point in life. It helps you find a better path. With people who chooses you.
I’ve always loved my age! I feel my age. Even though people my age feel so many different ways – and live their lives in so many different ways. But for the first time ever I had thoughts about getting a year older. Because what about my life plans? The family plans? What about the ‘getting married and having kids’ situation.
I’ve always felt blessed, that I only think about having kids, when I’m in a relationship. When I’m not, I feel completely calm about the ‘kid situation’, because I’ve always known for sure, that I will in fact have kids. And that 3 kids are waiting for me.
But! Even though I’ve re-thought this situation over time… that I might not give birth to all 3 kids myself, because at this age it’s quite common to meet someone with one or two already given birth to… then still – will I give birth to my first-born as a 38 year-old? 12 years ago I would have never thought so!
I felt this ‘pressure’ for a couple of days. And then it disappeared again. I’m very sure everything will turn out exactly how it should be.
Ending a 9 year relationship
In December I went to the hospital again. This time to have my 5-years appointment at the oral and maxillofacial surgery department. 5 years ago I went through a big surgery in my jaw – increasing the width in the top jaw and extending the jaw in the bottom… with metal and screws. The planning of this started 9 years ago, when my dentist found out, how much having a small mouth and an unequal bite affected my head (aches), neck, shoulders, and back.
Through all this time I’ve been in the hands of the same team at the hospital. And even though I’ve been in more pain, than I hope, no other person should ever experience, I’ve always felt taken care of by these people. Especially my surgeon Thomas, who was ‘the young hope’, back when I met him the first time. And now the head of the department – with hints of grey hair – as we closed my case in December.
I felt sad and grateful at the same time, biking home from the hospital. During these 9 years Thomas has cut in hundreds of peoples faces. And made a difference to them. The department is always busy. Way way too busy. And since he’s one of the leaders, you need to wait extra, whenever something urgent comes up due to accidents. Still he is able to focus on you as soon as his assistant calls your name. He makes you feel at home and feel safe. He lets you know, that he takes care of you – because he actually does. This is not just a job. This is not just something, he comes to get paid for. He actually does this to help you. And you feel this.
I am grateful for getting him as my surgeon. And grateful for the sweet dear nurses. It’s so weird saying goodbye to a team, especially a surgeon, who you know professionally, but who literally got under your skin, because they’ve seen you and been with you during the most crazy time in your life. The most painful time. The most odd time. The time you looked the least like yourself. Completely vulnerable – and in their hands. A man comes to your hospital bed, he holds your hand and says, that everything will be just fine. You know that in 10 minutes, they will put you to sleep. The same man, who just held your hand, will now hold a knife in his hand instead. He’ll do a 7-hour surgery… in your face. And you’ll be awake – in the worst pain ever imaginable – after 15 hours. Not recognizing yourself until 15 days later… somewhere far behind these eyes, due to all this swelling. You do this out of trust. And I am deeply grateful that my surgeon’s personality and talent was trustworthy.
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You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged as frequently during 2013. I have needed to downscale my ambitions. I used to post new stuff Monday to Friday. Now I tend to skip a day or two during these five weekdays. And my holidays have made me leave the blog empty for longer periods of time. I’m not fond of this. But it’s been important due to too much work. And too little time. Thinking about how busy I’ve been, it’s quite incredible how much I’ve actually blogged though! Because it takes an extreme amount of time. It’s something I chose to do to keep myself updated. And when you don’t got as much time to go out in the fresh air to find the inspiration, it’s nice that you can find inspiring stuff from all over the world with just a few clicks.
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I DARE YOU
Have you actually read this far? …and without skipping a chapter or two? If so, I’m impressed. And honored. And very grateful. I find sharing important. And every year, when I make myself write this thing – what feels like a dairy for a whole year in one big chunk – I’m moved by the response I receive afterwards. I rarely get many blog comments on this post though. I don’t get many personal comments in public either. Me being open – and public about my life once a year – doesn’t necessarily make others be the same. Which I totally get. But I would like to dare this matter!
I get a lot of personal stories sent to me in private e-mails. From readers, who I know or don’t know, who got touched by my words or felt recognized. Or who just want to compliment the ‘novel’ and the naked view into my life. Yet another year. I love getting the response, because it shows me, that it makes sense for me to sit down and get sore eyes from the screen light for this many days in a row it takes for me to write it. Even though the stories and thoughts in this writing are mine, I know that many of them are universal. And through this we connect. If you let me know. So it goes both ways.
Writing about my year makes my learnings stay for longer. They don’t just slip away. Through taking the time to reflect, I think I can live a life with less thinking as I continue. And more knowing! Because I once thought all I needed to do on this topic, until I found my truth – for the time being anyway. Allowing me to live a life with more certainty. And maybe less repetition of fails. Or at least making it obvious to me, what dysfunctional patterns I continue doing – because I wrote about this last year too. So I still haven’t changed the way I do it. And I need to, if I want things to be different.
What I want to say here too is… if you consider sending me your thoughts or your story, because me writing about my year made you think about yours… then I ask you to consider to share this ‘out loud’. As a blog comment. Instead of a private mail. Just consider this. In the name of sharing. And connecting with each other.
If your consideration ends in fear, my e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org ;) You’re also welcome to be brave without being public. I just needed to dare you a little.
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For reading this far. For following my blog. For following me… and my life.
May you be true to yourself and others, may you learn – and get stronger.
And may 2014 be about living, rather than surviving.
THESE ARE MY CHOSEN INSTAGRAMS FROM MY 2013:
JANUARY 2013: Me being tired
JANUARY 2013: One of the beautiful perspectives on riding your bike home from work at 3:30 AM is, that you’ve got the city to yourself. This night new snow had fallen. And I ran over an angel. I only saw this, as I crossed it
FEBRUARY 2013: Working from my local café and hangout during weekends
MARCH 2013: At the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas
MARCH 2013: Incredible view from the airplane on the way home from SXSW. When flying across the US, I listened to Bon Iver’s Holocene on repeat while thinking about a side project, I’d been keeping in my mental drawer for a year and a half. I finally had some spare time to do notes of this project. And during summer I finally had the notes put into a presentation. The project is about storytelling items. And reflecting on this and listening to the vulnerable voice of Justin Vernon, while flying above the earth almost made me cry
APRIL 2013: I bought this vintage S on a trip home to my childhood island, Bornholm
MAY 2013: In May the sun was shining lovely. This is from inside a local café
MAY 2013: One of my favorite places in Copenhagen. The J.C. Jacobsens Garden at Carlsberg. Once the private garden to the founder of Carlsberg, J.C. Jacobsen’s private residence. Now a secret tiny park for the public
JUNE 2013: Walking home from a meeting. The sight was pure yellow
JUNE 2013: Midsummer’s Night – with good friends and the loveliest Copenhagen atmosphere by the Christianshavn Canals
JULY 2013: At the Roskilde Festival
JULY 2013: Great vibes at the Roskilde Festival
JULY 2013: Going for a swim in the public pools at the Copenhagen Harbor
JULY 2013: A weekend in my dad’s house in Sweden picking lots of berries
JULY 2013: My dad’s wonderful house in Össjöa, Småland, Sweden
AUGUST 2013: My oldest younger brother checking the view from the back side of my dad’s ex wife’s house in Piemonte, Italy. Such an extraordinary place
AUGUST 2013: Me posing in Barolo, Italy
AUGUST 2013: Looking at the rock called “The Lion’s Heads” on my childhood island, Bornholm. It’s located by Hammershus – Northern Europe’s largest medieval fortification
AUGUST 2013: The view from “Big Tower” on Christiansø (The Isle of Christian) towards “Small Tower” on Frederiksø (The Isle of Frederik)
AUGUST 2013: The cute little cabin “The Blue Cock” where we stayed on Christiansø
AUGUST 2013: The extraordinary place of La Alhambra de Granada in Spain.
So very impressive
SEPTEMBER 2013: Me and wood. At my dad’s house in Småland, Sweden
SEPTEMBER 2013: With friends at the bonfire at my dad’s house in Småland, Sweden
OCTOBER 2013: Doves by “The Storks Fountain” in the center of Copenhagen
OCTOBER 2013: Beautiful fall color at “Vestre Kirkegård“, the local cemetery, where I love to go for walks. I always see something new here. Some new detail. And I look at names on gravestones and make up stories about the lives of the people resting here
NOVEMBER 2013: I went home to my childhood home in Bornholm for a weekend.
And found a whole bunch of childhood photos – some of which I turned
into this collage of me as a kid
NOVEMBER 2013: My younger sister and good friend Maria and I went to my dad’s house in Sweden for a weekend – to relax, enjoy nature, and listen to the fire in the fireplace
NOVEMBER 2013: The lake Össjöasjön by my dad’s house in Össjöa, Sweden. Such a beautiful clear weather. And the perfect reflection
DECEMBER 2013: Lots of screws and metal. An x-ray of my mouth from the last visit to the hospital. Closing the case of a 9 year long relationship – and a jaw surgery 5 years ago
Shanghai-based photographer Eric Leleu captures various incarnations of the nap in a series he calls Day Dreamers. From factory worker to executive, Leleu shows us there is no wrong way to catch a snooze in the hustle and bustle of Shanghai.
“The sleepers are a testimony to a China where workers wake up early, go to bed late and recuperate with short naps during the day, showing a respect for biological rhythms, and an awareness of the body and its needs. Workers escape from the present, taking a momentary time out, without fear of being seen. These candid siestas reveal the complex link in China between private and public spheres: private life overflowing onto the sidewalk; privacy integrating with the wider community”.
I never google myself. But man, do I know this situation. Just replace ‘Google my name’ with ‘Checked Twitter’, ‘Checked Facebook’, ‘Checked Pinterest’, ‘Checked my mail’, or ‘Checked Tinder’
Ukrainian photographer Olena Slyesarenko captures a few of her native land’s local vendors – unfortunately a dying breed these days – in her series of portraits, Small Economies: Beach Vendors. A delightful document of various ware and good-toting beachcombers, the work reminds us just what we stand to lose with a move to the corporate world – character, originality, spirit.
“This project examines the quickly changing commercial landscape of Ukraine and its impact on the workforce. By moving indoors, into corporate supermarkets and malls, Ukraine is becoming more westernized and homogeneous. The images of street vendors and other small, unlicensed businesses records an element of Ukrainian visual culture as it disappears. Not without irony, the beach portraits capture a black-market economy in the sunshine”, Olena Slyesarenko says.
Pleasant surprise for these commuters in London. When going home after a hard week of work, Sol, a beer brand, wanted to give the chance to prove the working people that they’re still free spirits at heart. They gave them the chance to bin their ties and by doing so they could gain a free beer.
For 4 weeks I’ve known that it was time to write my annual New Year’s blog post. The one where I look back on the past year – and write about my experiences and learnings, my ups and downs, my work, my family and my love. I’m always kind of torn between wanting to write it and not wanting to. It’s easier not doing it. It takes so much time! And so many thoughts.
But I also want to do it. For my own sake. For my personal development. And to share, which is so fundamental to me. But writing this is kind of like writing a diary – for a whole year. Let’s call it a “Yeary”. Seriously, it’s taken me more than 2 weeks to finish writing this. That’s why it always seems so hard when I have to get started …
To remind myself of what happened in my life in 2012, I took a look at all my Instagrams from that year. Apparently I shared 1,156 Instagrams in 2012. So giving myself the challenge of picking out 1 photo from each month was too hard. I chose to pick 2 from each month instead, which you can see in the post, when you scroll down.
I WENT TRAVELLING
It’s been a year with visits to quite a few places.
- In March I went to South By South West (SXSW) in Austin, Texas for the Interactive, Film and Music Festival with some friends. What I love about this place is, that all the digital rock stars are there. And they look just as informal as you wearing their sweatshirts or hoodies. You get to listen to their stories about their success, struggles, and what they learned. And you walk around in a place, having super interesting people to talk to from all over the world, no matter where you turn your head. Some of the awesome people I met were MC and Sabine from Relax In The Air, who asked me “What’s the next big thing”. I talked about this for more than an hour. So no wonder they cut down their video to only 40 minutes
New York City
- Then I went to New York City to revisit the city and stay with my good friend Philip. Unfortunately the air conditioning in Austin had made me awfully sick. So I actually ended up spending way more time in bed, than I wanted to.
Gibraltar and Málaga, Spain
- In May I went to Málaga, Spain and Gibraltar with my Dad, his girlfriend, her son and his family, and my brothers and sisters on my Dad’s side and their families. 15 people in total. My Dad invited us all to celebrate his retirement and how he got well through the clot he got in his heart the year before. It’s so rare that you travel with your whole family as an adult. But it’s an awesome way to spend time together with the people, you’ve known your whole life.
Our house in Sweden and the isle of Bornholm, Denmark
- Summer was spent with good friends in my family’s house in Sweden. And then a visit to my childhood home in Bornholm. Normally, when I get home from vacations, I pick out some photos and make a blog post with them. Not really writing much about the vacation, but letting the photos tell the story. I still have a sticky on my computer saying: “Do blog post about Sweden and Bornholm”. And then one month later I added “and Amsterdam and Hamburg too”. I even chose the photos from some of the destinations. But I never made the posts, because I was too busy. I don’t like that I never made them. So I might make the posts this year
- I invited my youngest brother with me to Amsterdam, Holland in September. I hadn’t seen the city for 20 years! So I wanted to go back – and man, do I ever love this city! So incredibly beautiful. Full of interesting architecture and history and people. Two years ago, on Instagram, I got a friend from Amsterdam called Lieke. I actually mentioned her in last year’s New Year’s blog post as well. Since she’d be out of town for a week anyway, my brother and I stayed in her apartment for 5 days. Thank you so much, Lieke! I’m deeply grateful. Borrowing your two bikes was just as awesome. Everyone should go to Amsterdam and bike around the city!
- The week after going to Amsterdam, I went on a girl’s trip to Hamburg, Germany with 4 friends. We were only there for a weekend. But Hamburg has so much to offer. So I have to go back! I didn’t get to see everything in their extraordinary harbor and I never saw their art exhibitions either.
New Instagram friends around the world
Hamburg made me think about, how I always get new, cool Instagram friends from the cities, I visit, after I’ve been there. Or when I’m about to go home. Checking my Instagram stats, I can see, that I location tag 92% of my photos, which means local people find them. Sometimes I wish I got to know these people before I went there, so I could meet them for beer or coffee and get the cool local recommendations.
In 2012 I became a Partner and Creative Director in the digital agency Contentcube. Up until this time Contentcube was known as a great subcontractor for the ad agencies when they needed awesome code for their digital solutions. But they’d started working directly with the clients, not needing the ad agencies. To do this better, I got on the team. And we started a journey on truly becoming a digital agency, which not only delivered killer ass code. But also strategy and creative development.
It’s been lots and lots of hard work. It still is. But I love my colleagues. We have fun with work! And we make solutions that we are now proud of. One of the things that I truly love about us is, that we value the well-being of our people. I do work too much. But I take time off when I need it too. We’re very much aware of how we are doing. Always trying to create what’s best for the individual person.
My dad moved away
During 2012 my dad moved to Jutland – about 4 hours away from Copenhagen. For Danish standards this is far! I was really torn about this. My mind understood why. He’d been in a long distance relationship with his girlfriend for 10 whole years! She lived in Jutland. He’s from Jutland originally. His girlfriend’s son and his family live there. My big sister and her family live there. And since they decided to find a house in the same town as my sister, I was really happy for them – and for my 3 nieces.
But in my heart I was sad. I felt as if I lost my dad. After all these years in Copenhagen having him close by, I was used to having the opportunity! The opportunity of seeing him. When I needed to talk to him, needed his help or advice, or when I just wanted to share an experience with him like going to an art exhibition, movie or dinner. It even made me sad, that he would be so far away, when I have kids one day. I was sad that they wouldn’t get a close relationship to him, since he now lived too far away. Selfishly I was even sad to loose the opportunity of him taking care of them, when they got sick, and I had to work. I don’t even have any kids yet! But still I thought this way.
What is it with brothers? Pull yourself together
At one point this year I got extremely tired of having so many brothers. My brothers, especially the two oldest, are really bad at taking initiatives. They don’t phone you. Not just me, but any of the family members. They receive phone calls, text messages, and invites. They don’t make them themselves. So if you want to see them, you have to act yourself. Not that they don’t want to see you. They just never get around to take the initiative. And sometimes they don’t even answer my calls and texts, which I had to tell them, made me feel as if they took me for granted, and sometimes made me not invite them at all! Because this way I saved myself from getting annoyed with not receiving a simple “Thanks, Sis. I’d love to!” or “Sorry, babe. No can’t do. How about next week?”.
My sisters are not like this. Just the boys. But I decided I was sick of always having to be the including big sister – even to my older brother. It couldn’t be my problem, if they missed out. But it still made me sad. Because I wanted to see them! My brothers and sisters are some of the people I laugh with the most. We often cry from laughing so hard. Also with our parents. All of our many parents I still want this. I just don’t want to carry all the responsibility and need to remind them to answer the invitation I was so nice to send.
I need people to care for me too
Recently I needed to tell one of my brothers about something that made me sad. Him and I are super close. He’s been through a lot – and from time to time I’ve had an extra eye on him so to speak. Being more aware of him. Caring for him. And helping him with the things, that troubled him. During 2012 he got a new wonderful girlfriend, which was amazing for them both! This lead to the classic silence, that you as a friend or family member often experience, when your close ones finds new love. I still phoned and texted him, like I used to. But he didn’t have time to see me, and didn’t get in touch with me for a whole month – which is long in our case.
That exact same month I went through lots and lots of work. And an emotional roller coaster love wise, even though it was super short. So when my brother finally wrote me, I got quite provoked. Because I felt as if: “Well, sis – now I need you again. I have no clue, what you’ve been through. But now I need you”. So my response to him was being quite annoyed. And honest. This made him become silent for two more weeks actually. I didn’t have time to bother. And I didn’t care, because I knew, that I hadn’t been unfair. And then he started to act as if nothing happened.
This thing is, I was hurt. I’ve grown up as a big sister. Taking care of others, often more than myself. I’m one of these women, that people call “strong and independent”. One who always gets through things, and gets up, no matter how far down she goes. BUT! This doesn’t mean, that you shouldn’t ask me, how I am doing! This doesn’t mean, that I don’t need people to be there for me too. Just because I’m there for them.
I think, the reason why I am able to be strong and get through things, is because I’ve always let people in to my life. My experiences, thoughts, and emotions. I never deal with stuff completely by myself. I always open up. I talk about it. Honestly. And always daring to be vulnerable. Actually because I don’t not how not to.
I told my brother about this. Which made him realize something he’d never thought about. He just saw me as his strong big sister, who was always there, when he needed me. So he got sad by the fact that he didn’t even ask, when I needed him to. Even if I’d had the most amazing month ever, I still needed him to ask! I need for people to show that they’ll take care of me too.
I thought about death. And life!
During 2012 my cousin, who’s only 2 years older than me, got cancer. Fortunately it was the “best” kind of cancer, you can get as a man. Because more than 99% with this type of cancer are cured. But you still have to go through chemo therapy. And this made me sad. 2 month before this, he’d become a father to his first-born. So having to go through chemo, would mean time away from being the dad and husband and man, he would like to be – for at least 8 months.
This made me think about my life. What I still want to do, achieve – and love. Who I want in my life. What I want. And I made my bank lady fix my insurances. She did straight away – and sent me papers… which I still haven’t taken the time to read and sign.
Did you actually read this far? Or did you just scroll down to this chapter?
I just noticed that I could almost just copy and paste the chapter about Men from last years New Year’s post. Because I basically experienced the same things:
- I didn’t fall in love in 2012
- I said no to so many dates (and stuff), because my focus was elsewhere and I wasn’t curious enough
- And most of the men, who did get me interested, where already in a relationship
The difference between the single man and the one in a relationship
During summer I suddenly saw this strong pattern in my way of meeting men. For months and months and months I hadn’t really been interested in dating. I really had to feel curious about a man to even consider having a coffee with him. Or even continue the talk, when I was out at night.
I find it very easy to get sex. But sex is not interesting enough in itself. Not where I’m at. It’s not that I can’t enjoy a man just for the night. I’ve always been able to. But I want way more than just sex. So I noticed, that I instinctively thought: “Would I want to meet this man again on Tuesday?”, when I met someone. And if I couldn’t feel this curiosity – this lust for more. To get to know him even better – then no thanks. During single times in my 20’s, I would have dealt with this completely different. But I’m at another place in my life now. And seriously; I didn’t want to bother with the fact that he possibly would want more afterwards. So it was easier to just say no. And not get involved at all. I didn’t need it. And the compliment of knowing, that I easily could, was enough.
I noticed during the summer, that I easily got very tired of single men trying to catch me up in bars, on Facebook, or elsewhere. They seemed so hungry, that it made them uninteresting to me. They tried too hard. They didn’t relax. And lots of them focused too much on how sexy they thought I was. I’m aware that this is a major compliment. And of course, I like hearing this. But fact is, that it’s a compliment you want from certain people. Not everyone. And if a man tells you, that he thinks you’re hot 3 times within the first 7 minutes, you talk, you really get a feeling, that all he wants is your body. Every now and then I’ve questioned men about this, and told them, that this is how you easily can perceive it. They’ve all given me the answer, that if they weren’t as fascinated by my personality too, they wouldn’t be as interested in my body either. I think I’ll stick to their answer. I, also, become way more attracted to personalities wrapped nicely. Way more than just the hot wrapping.
But what it all came down to, really, with all these single men, was that they were so eager, that I didn’t get time to get to know them. I could just pick them up as I felt. It was so easy. And I truly don’t believe, that it has to be hard. I absolutely hate it, when people play hard to get. But what I was interested in was getting to know them. Not just f*** them. This was probably why I kept on running into men, who were in a relationship. They’d flirt and talk and be interested in getting to know me. And since they weren’t allowed to pick me up, I’d actually have a chance to get to know them too. And become curious. And get that far in the conversation, that you suddenly start to put 2 and 2 together and find out, that they have a girlfriend. Which then is the reason for you to face them with reality and honesty, when they start sending you Facebook mails continuously in the time after. I cannot use a man, who has someone else. Why on earth would I waste time on that?
The bike ride home from a friend
It wasn’t until August 2012 that I felt, that now I’d really like to meet someone. My focus all year had been on building up the company. But now I felt like meeting someone interesting and getting involved. The feeling – or readiness – didn’t make me meet more men, who got me curious though. But I became aware of giving things a shot. Taking a chance. And not be as “Naaah, why bother”, as I had been all through spring and summer.
I remember riding my bike home from my good friend Tobias, thinking: “Here I ride. I’m at a good age. I don’t have any hard baggage or major issues that I deal with. I have an interesting personality. I feel attractive. I look attractive. And even though I have lots and lots of people, that I care for, I still have love to give! But I haven’t found the one to give my love”. And then I laughed, when my thought continued with: “Hey! A man would be lucky to have me!”. When I told Tobias about this though, he agreed. Yay! And I remembered, how two male friends of mine, Jesper and Sune, had called me a “catch” earlier this year. I’m very aware, that I am just human. With faults and oddness and specialties and imperfectness. This creates my personality and makes me aware of what to learn, improve, and work on. But I’m still one h*** of a human catch
The talk about what I needed
One of my friends, Henrik, was talking about his crew of guy friends and this trip they went on. I heard myself saying: “Hey, by the way – don’t you have a great friend, that I should meet”, thinking that if I know this many super great guys, they must know someone – or have a cousin – who I haven’t met or gotten to know yet, who could possibly be super interesting to me. But in this case my friend answered: “No, heck no, Laura – you’re way to good to my friends. You have so much personality and so much edge yourself, that you need someone extraordinaire”.
I felt so misunderstood. Because what I really want is normal. Of course, the man, that attracts me, has personality and edge. And of course, he’s extraordinary – to me! He’s not plain and boring. But I’m not looking for a character. I’m looking for a match. I just want normal. What’s normal to me.
I’d forgotten about this feeling
During the fall I met someone, who became the very first man in 2012 that I’d felt like seeing twice! That was kind of big to me. Because when I’d been out with someone earlier this year, my curiosity disappeared after that one date. And since I couldn’t feel any urge to ‘get to know him better’, I simply didn’t. I wouldn’t want to waste our time, when the interest just wasn’t there.
Wanting to get to know someone better, reminded me of a feeling, that hadn’t felt all year! This specific insecurity that you suddenly feel, when you want more of something – or someone – you don’t know if you can have. Because right of a sudden, you’re not the only one to decide. You’re completely dependent on the fact, that he feels the same. And wants the same. And has the same great timing, and so forth. The awareness of being able to loose what you just found! At first I got really annoyed with this feeling. Because we never really enjoy this feeling, right. But I was actually happy, that I was reminded about it. Because it meant, that I found something – and felt this “wanting to get to know better” – again. And that’s a positive thing – and a great first step! Even though the relation, which had reminded me of this feeling, stopped after seeing each other only these two times.
FraekFredag has been part of the blog since the beginning. But during 2012 I created a FraekFredag board on Pinterest too, that was way more packed than my Friday posts. I was more large with what I pinned, than what I blogged. The very best and most edgy stuff went on the blog. Pinterest was an over all mood board. Until Pinterest had their major (strict American) clean up – and they deleted it without a warning. They even blocked my whole blog as a source of pinning, because OMG! What if people pinned nudity from my blog. Fact was, that people pinned way more design, architecture and quotes from my blog than nude people. So I got really pissed with Pinterest. And I’ve found myself using their platform less and less since their clean up stunt. I wasn’t the only one getting my artistic soft porn board deleted. So Pinterest now lacks edge so must, that there really isn’t must interesting stuff to go there for, in my opinion. Neat Do It Yourself stuff and great looking food tends to look the same after a while.
Am I into women, just because I know who’s hot?
“Laura, are you into women too?”, is a question I sometimes get because of FraekFredag. Only from men though. When I raise my eyebrows along with the thought of: “Really??!!”, the man will continue his wonder: “… but how else can it be, that you are able to pick out exactly those women, that makes me turned on?”.
I have to admit, that I always loose a slightly bit of respect of the person, when I get this question. Because being able to see beauty, art, edge, and sexuality in a human being is so not the same as getting attracted by it. And if you truly think that, I’ll think of you as being shallow, and not relaxed about what sexuality is.
I’m not turned on by women. I’m not into women in any sexual way. But I think that women can look extremely hot and sexy and awesome. And that the female body can look like the finest piece of art – with its form and shape and landscape. But they don’t turn me on. And they don’t make my fantasies run wild. I’m happy to be a woman myself!
Men turn me on. Big time! Always have. Sex turn me on as well. Sometimes, when I see a hot man while looking for FraekFredag’s content, my mind wanders off. My dear colleague Mads said to me at lunch one day: “Laura, I’ve noticed that the men on your blog have a lot of hair!” Haha! That’s really funny. And true. I’m not into these baby face kind of guys. But instead; men that aren’t as clean and metro sexual as the fashion industry wanted them to be a few years back.
There’s still more women than men on my blog. It’s so super hard to find the good stuff. Seriously; I probably look through 600 photos to find 8 useful ones. Which means I’ve seen so much awful, boring, and gross stuff. And also stuff, I could live without having ever seen! Finding great stuff with men is even harder! Nude material with men easily becomes way too gay or way too porn and vulgar for my taste! But every now and then I find something, that’s so edgy, that it’s awesome – but simply too much for the blog. Like this other day, when I found a close up photo of a penis being licked by 2 men at the same time, but you could only see their mouths. And that one mouth was surrounded by a brown beard, and the other mouth was surrounded by a red one. Such a awesome photo, because it made you look twice, just to figure out how many people this actually involved! But the photo was too porn for the blog. So instead of going to waste, I showed it to half of my colleagues instead. All guys I had a good laugh.
FraekFredag touches people around the world
I often receive mails from people from around the world, who thank me for doing my blog and for inspiring them in their daily lives. This makes me really happy. It’s so nice to put a name or some facts and feelings on the many people, who are just numbers in my statistics if I don’t hear from them. Sometimes I have material sent to me for FraekFredag. Only from men though. I’ve never received anything from women. But I’ve never received something, that was good enough for the blog. Yet. I’d really rather for the great photographers and filmmakers to sent me their stuff, than the “normal” ones I also receive great compliments from my blog readers about FraekFredag. I love the fact that I can receive an e-mail from a Canadian woman, presenting herself as 49-year-old, pointing out: “I love your blog, especially on Fridays” – and later that same day receive a mail from a young French gay man, complimenting the fact that I have great taste in men, and respecting me for showing gay photos of men kissing men. This is what FraekFredag is really about: Gathering people in lust and hot energy and make us feel alive!
Oh. And by the way… In 2012 I put myself on FraekFredag for the very first time – in a costume, I had made myself and called The Raven from Allan Edgar Poe, which I wore at my friend Daniel’s Halloween party.
FACING SOME NEVER-ENDING CHALLENGES
As I entered New Year’s I became aware, that I still have to deal with some of my personal qualities – that sometimes turn into challenges; my lack of patience and my straightforwardness. I was, yet again, faced with the fact that people sometimes misunderstand me – even though I am extremely honest and straightforward. It can seem so strange to be misunderstood when being straightforward. But it happens because people over interpret what I actually say – or what they think my intentions are. Instead of just listening to the words I say. They are simply not used to people speaking their true mind and being good at putting thoughts and feelings in to exact words. Instead they mix my words with their own fears – or their own hopes. Which sometimes creates completely unnecessary troubles.
The other day I discussed my honesty and straightforwardness with a good colleague of mine, Rasmus N. We talked about the fact that I am often misunderstood for being like this. When I give a man a compliment for his cool shirt or beautiful beard, that really suits him, he sometimes understands this as if I was saying: “You look hot. I am interested in getting to know you”. And that wasn’t what I said. I give compliments to women too. Like the other day, when I complemented two young women – working in a clothing store – for their extremely beautiful hair. This made them both so happy. And it even made the lady next to me agree out loud and ask, if they were sisters. Then all four of us got aroused by this heart warm energy that spread instantly. In this case I wasn’t misunderstood. I was seen as me. I think I’ve only been misunderstood once in my life, from giving a compliment to a woman. This was when I complimented the green dress of a somewhat famous singer in Denmark, who’s a good friend of my friend Fabian. She acted so protective as if I said: “Hey girl, want to be my new BFF?”. I feel sad, when people misunderstand my intention, just because I let them know, that I see them – and the effort they do.
I think it’s because women in my country are quite bad at giving compliments to men. And when they do, it’s because they want something – so they sometimes have a purpose with saying it. This goes for men too! But what if we all started to say the nice things, that we do think, out loud… way more often?! What if we weren’t so afraid of how people perceived it. Or what they thought about us. What if we made them smile and feel good about themselves?
What happens when I keep it to myself
Every now and then I keep a compliment to myself. Something nice or beautiful that I think or feel about someone. Sometimes because I think it will be misunderstood if said out loud. Or that we’re not in the right place or situation. But I always instantly get this feeling of delusion, which makes me feel bad. As if I’m not true to myself. I don’t know why it’s so important for me to share it with the person, who it matters. But I think it’s because I know, that in the end the other person can use this way more than me. And if I don’t say it out loud, it’s as if it doesn’t exists. And this is a lie. Because I thought it – or felt it. So it did actually exist in me.
Recently this beautiful man looked at me with wonder and curiosity and asked: “Are you always listening this much to your intuition?”. I remember getting surprised, because I felt as if: “What else could I listen to?”. Even though my thoughts can play tricks with me and fool me into feeling fear or worry, my intuition is always stronger than them. Something that I can’t put aside. I feel intuition. And when I’m true to myself I always act out of heart and body. Not out of head and thoughts. When I’m not true to myself, like when I allow fear or worries to take over for more than just a quick thought, I act stupid. So whenever I notice, that my energy has started to move from my body towards my head, I try to use this awareness to cut off my head and bring the energy down in my body again. Where it belongs. Where I am true. And the person I like better.
WHAT I SAID A YEAR AGO
If you look at last year’s blog post, you’ll see, that I had some thoughts and hopes for 2012. Now I can answer, whether this happened or not.
“I think my blog will change its appearance during 2012”
I actually really hoped, that 2012 would be the year where my blog got a new web design. But it wasn’t. I didn’t have time to even take one single step further in this direction. I hope I’ll prioritize it this year.
“I have to spend more time with myself. With no plans. With one-way entertainment, where I am the one receiving. So I can be there for me.”
I did become better at this! I used my iPad to watch tv-series at least 3 times a week. And at least 20-40 minutes. This is so important to me, because it gives me some time, where I can only be. I don’t have to use my head. I’m just entertained. I don’t share it. I don’t talk about it. It doesn’t make me smarter, and it really doesn’t inspire me. I can’t use it. I can just watch and laugh. Then my head relaxes. I still need to focus on this.
“These are the things, I had too little of in 2011. So more of these things in 2012:
TV. Sleep. Teaching. Butterflies.”
TV – on the iPad, was really the only thing I improved during 2012. I definitely didn’t get much sleep! And neither teaching or butterflies. I think for 2013 I’ll focus on keeping it up with the TV watching on my iPad, trying to get more sleep – which is kind of ironic to write, when in fact it’s 1:48 AM right now… and I’m still at work – and getting to know those butterflies again! Some new ones. The ones that come out of this complete sense of “This is right. This is just how it was always meant to be. I feel like I’ve known you always – but just found you now”. That’s what I will go for.
THANK YOU SO MUCH
As some of you know, I’ve never blogged to get clicks or likes. I think I was just born with this sharing chromosome I’ve always shared. My thoughts, my ideas, my insights and learning… through dialogue, letters, e-mails, social platforms and this blog. I think I’ve always been like “What’s the deal with keeping things to myself, that can give something to others too? I won’t make a difference to this world, if I keep things to myself”. But even though I don’t blog for clicks and visits… if I did, you’d find completely different content here… I’m still really happy when I look at my blog statistics. The high numbers lets me know, that you are there! And that what I find and share, does something to other people than just me. And this makes me happy.
But what I like way more, is when people like, retweet, or share. This let’s me know, that what I found made such an impact – like a smile or a new thought – that you feel like paying this forward. And even better; sometimes it turns anonymous numbers in the statistics in to real people. Which I’m way more interested in than numbers! I’ve never really understood why some people are so stingy with their likes. What’s there to loose?
So I want to thank you all for following and taking an interest in me and my blog. Thank you so much for paying it forward, whenever a blog post does something good to you. And thank you for all your e-mails with compliments, thoughts or great finds of your own. Your comments and e-mails make me smile and feel happy and appreciated. And I love to get to know you a bit better through the dialogue.
May your 2013 be fun, brave, honest, and full of love.
These are my chosen Instagrams from my 2012:
This is a keyboard created by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius called My Soft Office. Very practical. Unfortunately.