August 2021: Selfcare

August 2021: Selfcare

Vacation in Northern Germany

Pilsum lighthouse

August started as June and July had ended: stressful and with an immense amount of work. However, knowing that we would go on vacation from August 7 for a week motivated me to put in all my remaining energy to finish all my tasks until then.

On Saturday, August 7, we (that is: me, my boys and my partner) started our journey in the early morning hours to arrive 11 hours later (traffic was a bit slow) in the very heart of East Friesland. I had booked an apartment for the week and from the minute we arrived I felt myself relax.

We were up and about every day, exploring the wonderful landscape, the picturesque harbour towns and windmills. We enjoyed long afternoons at the sea, swimming, wading in the mud flats and just sitting on the beach, watching this incredibly beautiful world heritage side and breathing in the wonderful sea air.

For the first time in years, I allowed myself to relax again, at least for this one week. Or so I thought…

Vacation at the North Sea

 

17th birthday of my eldest

A few days after we had arrived back home from our holiday, my eldest son celebrated his 17th birthday.

17th birthday

Good lord! Only one year to go and he’ll be legally of age. Next week, he’ll be registering for driving course. Where has the time gone? It’s seven years now that I am single mom and although I sometimes want to hold my sons’ childhood for a little bit longer, I’m also very proud to see them turn into wonderful, empathetic, handsome – well, “men” would be too much a term at that point. Let’s just say “advanced teenagers”. 😉 (Hope, they won’t read this article… 😬)

 

Selfcare isn’t selfish

As I said earlier, I had planned to take a break from work for the one week we went on vacation. Afterwards, I wanted to dive deep into research again for new blog articles, videos, diction topics etc.

But: I couldn’t. Already during our vacation I had realized that I was more exhausted than I had thought. Back home again, I continued to do coaching lessons which always energize me. In some lessons, I could even witness wonderful breakthroughs and as usual I enjoyed it a lot to work with “my” singers.

Although I had no trouble whatsoever in preparing lessons, concentrating on creating new content simply didn’t work.

My mind was exhausted and all my usual coping methods (willpower, coffee,…) didn’t help. I went through the whole emotional rollercoaster: fear, panic, disgust, depression.
After a time of drama, I decided to accept my situation and give myself the time I needed to recover.

This immediately took a lot of pressure from me.

Self-care

Hiding wasn’t an option

During the last weeks, then, I “learned” self-care. I read a lot, I went running, exercised moderately, adjusted my diet, gave coaching lessons and enjoyed being with my family. It was bliss! It felt a bit like those long summer holidays when days seem to be endless and there’s nothing to do but enjoy life. I felt my body become strong and my mind clear again. My energy level raised and finally creativity waltzed in again, full of motivation and ready to rumble. 😄

Thus, my epiphany this summer was that self-care isn’t selfish but necessary. In fact, it’s the number one task to perform every single day. If we don’t care for ourselves, we can’t be fully there for others. I know I sound like a self-help book, but it took me until this summer to realize the truth in it and I’ll make sure to never forget it again.

 

 

 

July 2021: Farewells And New Beginnings

July 2021: Farewells And New Beginnings

For me, July and December are the most intensive months of the year! This July, however, was also marked by two things that came to a halt and a new beginning:

Running again!

I restarted running through the woods. During the last months I had to struggle with pain which made it impossible to do some exercise, let alone running. Now (fingers crossed!), I have my health state under control again, although it’s not yet as stable as I want it to be.

However, I’m fit enough to resume running again. It’s a feeling like coming home!

No matter how many thoughts I have, how overwhelmed I feel, running never fails to ground me. I think it’s the mixture of looking at all shades of green (I love the woods!), listening to nature’s sounds (especially birds’s song) and the monotonous rhythm of breathing and running that calms body and mind.

Forest

Wonderful view, isn’t it?

My youngest’s in mutation

Every July, the so-called “Fronhofkonzerte” take place in Augsburg and the choir my boys sing in is usually a part of them.
This year, these were the last concerts my youngest performed in as boy soprano.

I had already suspected that these concerts were probably his last before his soprano voice broke forever so my eldest (who’s already in mutation) and I attended the open-air in the beautiful Augsburg Fronhof just behind the cathedral. It was beautiful to watch a concert after such a long time and at the same time it was sad to know that now that both boys are in mutation there will be a mandatory break for all of us.

For the last twelve years, first one then the other have been part of the renowned boys’ choir “Augsburger Domsingknaben”. Numerous drives to rehearsals, concerts and tours marked and structured our years. The choir became their second family – and mine, too. Whenever my boys were there, I knew them to be safe. They enjoyed being part of the choir, had lots of fun while at the same time learning some healthy discipline.

I’m grateful for this wonderful time and look forward to their comeback as tenor or bass (I’m curious myself)

Domingo's hair

If his vocal cords grow as long as his hair – he’ll become a very dark bass!

My boss has retired

Some of you may know that I work part-time in a school. Apart from the rewarding work, I most enjoyed working together with my (now ex-) boss (let’s call him MD). We not only were a good team, but we also had several interests and views in common. Above all, we shared the same sense of dry and subtle humour. Believe me when I tell you that we often were heard laughing throughout the vast premises.

Devil puppet

We share a devilish humour…

MD was one of my pillars during my separation, divorce and rose war with the boys’ father. He made it possible that I could adapt my working hours to the boys’ needs and I often asked for his opinion and advice.

Now he has retired, and we’ll see what working life will be without him. What I’m very grateful, however, is that he promised to stay in contact. Actually, we have a bet running: whoever loses will cook for the other party (+ partner). I’m looking forward to being a guest at his house 😊.

July 12: Not my day – anyway… 12of12 / 12von12

July 12: Not my day – anyway… 12of12 / 12von12

Documenting the 12th of every month in 12 pictures (called “12von12”) is a tradition in the blogger world and like in the previous months, I documented my twelvth of July 2021:

Angela in the morning

It’s half past six – and I just realized it’s the 12th! That could have been an indicator for the rest of the day… Anyway, at half past six I have already been up for one and a half hour, did my daily Hungarian lesson, planned the day and was ready and motivated for the day to come.

 

Angela doubting sanity

I had a really exhausting morning with lots of weird encounters. I don’t want to go into details. First, because I don’t want to embarass anyone and second, because I don’t want to give any more of my energy to people who I do have to deal with but who will never be part of my tribe.

Nevertheless, after heading home in a hurry, grabbing a bite to eat and my youngest son, hurrying into town for his voice lesson, I couldn’t just let go of this feeling of bewilderment.

 

Car inspection

Mondays are usually very hectic due to the boys’ appointments which is why I usually don’t schedule lessons on Mondays but try to squeeze in some errands. Today for example,  I had an appointment with the TÜV for my car inspection. Thankfully enough, everything went well and I’m done for the next two years. 🙂

 

Stadtbücherei Augsburg

As I still had time before I had to pick up my son, I went to the library to get some scores. Or at least, that was my intention. Turned out, they had archived all (!) opera scores because they had “to make room for something else”. Well, how about taking out the zillions of outdated counseling books on topics no one’s interested in?

When asking a one of the staff members, they told me that I had the opportunity to “pre-reserve” the scores online. It takes up to over a week till you can fetch the scores – and to make things even worse, you’ll have to pay for every single reservation! Excuse me?! Customer service looks different!

 

parking ticket

I was still annoyed and frustrated when I got back to the car – only to find a parking ticket. 😩

 

Angela sticking out her tongue

Take that, universe!

 

Angela in the woods

Back home I decided it would be best for all if I let off some steam and so I went into the woods. And it works every single time: the green, the smell of grass and forest soil and the birds’ singing always have a calming and soothing effect on me. So when I could be sure I wouldn’t accidentally murder someone, I went back home…

 

az ebéd

… and prepared food for my hungry men.

 

Franz Schubert "An die Musik"

While everything baked in the oven, I took the time to work on my soon-to-be-published blog post on a Schubert song. Stay tuned.

 

Rapid blog flow

After dinner, I finally got to watch Judith’s input to this weeks #rapidblogflow, a blogging workshop I attend. As usual, her information is invaluable and I sketch some new blog posts.

 

view from the balcony

It was an exhausting day and so I decided to spend the rest of the evening on the balcony, doing nothing but sitting, breathing and taking everything in…

 

sunflower

… every single detail. Although I count this day to the less great, it ended calmly and peacefully. Good night – and here’s to a marvelous new day!

Monthly Review: June 2021 – Lessons learned

Monthly Review: June 2021 – Lessons learned

Time flies by and June’s already over. Half of the year gone, can you believe it!
I’ve never done before a monthly review but I thought I’d give it a try this June. After all, it may turn out a similarily great concept like 12of12 and I might add it to my monthly list of blog posts.😊

Looking back on June 2021, I can make out several lessons I learned through seemingly unimportant events:

A new lamp OR:
If it annoys you, fix it

 

A new lamp

After almost two years, we finally have a lamp above the dining table. (By the way: the lamp in the background replaces the second light bulb. Yeah!)

 

In September 2019 my family and I moved into our current flat we call “crow’s nest” as it is located on the second floor. Until very recently, we still had light bulbs dangling above the living room and dining table. At first, we couldn’t find anything we like, then I wanted to make some DIY lights by myself (which turned out pretty massive) and then – we forgot!

“Really”, you’ll say, “how can anyone ‘forget’ ugly light bulbs when they’re seeing them every single day?”

Well, that’s exactly it. After a while you don’t notice them any longer and there is nothing more lasting than a provisional solution.

It was only when I wrote my bucket list in March that I realized how much I wanted some real lamps in our dining and living room. Still, it took me two months longer to pull myself together and head for the furniture shop. Can you imagine my delight when I finally found the perfect lamp for the dining room table? I couldn’t wait to see how it looked, went straight home and hung it up.

It was wonderful – until I put the lights on. The lamp made a very obvious, very awful buzzing sound! At first, I thought I’d get used to it but after several evenings of nerve-wretching buzzing I gave up and wrote to the customer service that I wanted to change the lamp. It still took several weeks but a few days ago I could finally install the new lamp. And voilà: beautiful light, no sound! Hooray!

Lesson #1: If it annoys you, fix it!

First harvest OR: Stay consistent

Eight years ago I had to give up my comparably large vegetable garden and since then I had neither had the opportunity nor the time to cultivate one. Last year, however, I felt such an urge to dig up soil and plant that I looked for some space I could use as a garden. Fortunately enough, I found a vast meadow in walking distance where I could rent some 100 square meters to turn into a garden.

Spring and early summer were comparably cold and wet here in Southern Germany. It’s no wonder for that matter that my newly created garden was a bit reluctant to produce… well… produce. 😊

I was quite frustrated for some time that the plants didn’t seem to grow properly and that all treatments and caring didn’t bring any results.

It was my eldest son who, when I was complaining and grumbling about everything I did being in vain, reminded me about what I had always told him: “Consistency is the road to success”. It really isn’t fun to listen to your own words presented to you by a smug teenager!

Anyway, you may imagine my delight, when last month I finally harvested my very first lettuce, rucola and cucumber. I made a large mixed salad with plants I had raised myself. I couldn’t have been more proud!

first harvest

The first lettuce from my garden

 

Lesson #2: Stay consistent in your efforts, even if you don’t see results immediately.

 

My new website OR: If you’re stuck, get help

 

Finally, my new webdesign is online. You know about it, obviously, as you are visiting my website.

Already in March I have taken a course on the Divi-Theme a sort of design template for websites. It was a lot of information and things to do but I was positive I could publish a new design by the end of April. Yet, April turned into May and then June and although most things were ready for publication, I found myself postponing.

Had I realized sooner that I was just afraid of crashing both sites, I’d have looked for help earlier. Instead, I polished and edited until it dawned on me that this was just another way of procrastination. I decided to reach out for help and found it in Joachim who had set up my first site years ago. Within an hour the move was completed – and I was not only relieved but energized. Honestly, it felt so good to have accomplished this similarily small task that I could have uprooted a tree!

Lesson #3: If you are stuck, reach out for help.

 

What else happened in June:

The boys and I went camping for a weekind during their school holidays. I’m so grateful that they still want to do something together as a family! God knows they’re growing so fast…

We also did a hiking tour in the Alps which we enjoyed so much that we decided to do that more often. Shortly before we reached the summit, the soles of my youngest’s hiking shoes tore off and he had to walk the rest of the path in his sports shoes!

Hiking through the Alps

Summit in reach! Soles are still where they belong – but not for long

Lesson #4: Carpe diem

 

Several blog articles have seen the light of the world:

What July will bring

July is a bit like December: bursting with appointments, closing events, birthdays (six in my family!), end-of-term coachings… Every year I resolve to take it easy, stay calm and focused but I also know that it’s no use. So let’s face the unavoidable chaos but make plans nevertheless:

I have several ideas for upcoming blog articles on pronunciation issues and aria/song analyses, stay tuned.

I want to update my free offer (which is why you won’t find it on my website yet). Again: stay tuned.

What was your June like? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

My 12th of June – 12von12 / 12 of 12

My 12th of June – 12von12 / 12 of 12

In May, I took part in the bloggers’ tradition of “12von12” (12 of 12) where you document every twelvth of every month for a year.

It turned out to be quite some fun, so I decided to stick to it and in no time, the twelvth of June has arrived.

Here’s what it looked like:

Alarm clock
An early rise

For a Saturday, I got up quite early, at 4.30 a.m. to be exact. As I have a lot on my plate for today, I’d better have an early start.

vegetable garden
My garden

This is the scene of my first task this morning: my vegetable garden.

Unfortunately, not only the vegetables but also (and more than anything) weeds are growing like mad and it’s time to pick them and make room for tomatoes, peas and cabbage.

 

sunrise
Sunrise

When I’m done, I cannot but admire and enjoy the sunrise. I often get up early in Summer just to watch it but no matter how often I’ve seen the sunrise it never fails to take my breath away.

Angela in car
Time for a nap

After gardening, I went home, grabbed a shower and headed out again for grocery shopping and taking some garbage to the recycling center. I drove my partner to the station and the boys to their first live choir rehearsal in I don’t know how many weeks!

I’m grateful they can rehearse live and see their choir mates again. It was about time.

Nevertheless, I’m a bit tired by late morning and decide to take a nap in the car. Honestly, I’m a firm believer in power naps and whenever I can sneak one in, I’ll take one.

In summer, I always have a picnic blanket in the car so that I can sleep in the park, in winter, the sleeping bag’s in the car to hold me warm during naps.

Angela eating ice cream
Reward: ice cream

Refreshed, I feel able to buy some clothes with my youngest. He has grown so much during the last weeks and urgently needs some trousers that don’t stop right above the ankles.

Successful clothes hunting deserves a reward: we indulged in ice cream of one of the best ice cream parlours in town.

Angela
At my parents’

On Saturday mornings (and Wednesday afternoons), I usually go to my parent’s and help them with household chores. We established this routine during the extraordinary circumstances that started last year in March and although time’s a bit tight sometimes, I manage to keep it up.

I’m very grateful that I still have both of my parents and enjoy having these dates fixed every week with them.

white cat
there are the cats!
cat on meadow
And of course:

I also happen to enjoy the cats. ?

In our flat we are not allowed to have pets which is why I love my parents’ cats all the more.

book
Mail surprise

Back home, the mail has arrived and delivered a book I had ordered a few weeks ago.

To be honest, I had already forgotten about it – which makes its delivery an even greater surprise!

noodle making machine
Making noodles

Two hungry boys can eat you out of house and home!

As I wanted to make some noodles anyway, I decided to make a large quantity to have some for storing. Turned out there’s nothing left and I have to make some again soon… ?

Angela at laptop
Newsletter time

With every mouth fed and the boys doing the dishes, I sit down to work on a blog article and on my newsletter for Monday morning.

Rose and salvia
“Feierabend”

It was a long day and I enjoy its end with my boys and a glass of elderflower lemonade amidst the flowers on my balcony.?

An Ordinary Day in May – 12von12 / 12 of 12

An Ordinary Day in May – 12von12 / 12 of 12

Have you ever heard of the blogging concept “12von12” (12of12)? I must admit I haven’t.

Yet, lately I chose to become a part of the blogging community “The Content Society” by Sympatexter, where I was introduced to the idea of documenting every twelfth of the month in twelve pictures.

12 von 12

I’m not sure if this is for me but hey: I’ll give it a try.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is my May 12 or rather: an ordinary day in May!

Alarm clock showing 5.01 a.m.

My days usually start between 4.30 and 5.00 a.m.
Today I obviously slept in…

Star wars socks

The Force is with me!
These were my youngest son’s socks but he has outgrown them (honestly, I hope he’ll stop becoming larger soon; otherwise I’ll have to punch a hole into the roof). So, I’m the only one left who fits into these ‘gorgeous designer pairs’…

Coffee machine and grinder

But first coffee…

Funny accessory

Without coffee, I’d be lost. So: “In case of emergency: break glass!”

Laptop display with Hungarian vocab

WITH coffee, however, I’ll be able to take over the world! – Or do some revision of Hungarian vocab at 6.00 a.m. in the morning.

 

 

Laptop display with Pronunciation Coach website

After that it’s working on my website design.

 

Angela Braun

I love it when I have accomplished at least part of the work I planned to do.

 

 

View from the car onto a rainy street

Time to drive to school. Even when it’s raining, I enjoy the route as it leads through the woods and I love the ’50 shades of green’.

 

Angela Braun doing vocal practice

It’s noon and time for some vocal practice. I’m lucky as I’m allowed to practice at the local music school when there are no lessons. Which means early mornings, noons and Sundays. I prefer that to practicing at home.

 

Angela Braun driving a car

On Wednesdays and Saturdays I visit my parents to help with household chores and drink coffee ? Today my mum asked me to do some grocery shopping for her. She just realized that tomorrow’s a holiday – and there’s always the imminent danger of starving ?. Especially if you live on a farm and have milk and potatoes at hand.

 

picture of Noragami DVD

Cleaned up, helped my youngest with French, gave an online coaching lesson, cooked dinner and worked on my blog post on Schumann. Time for a time-out. I had promised my son that we’d watch one of his Japanese manga films as a reward for learning French. He just happened to have “Noragami” lying around but after 20 minutes we switched to “Haikyuu!” which we both like very much!

 

Alarm clock showing 11.00 p.m.

Time to say “Good night”.