Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Rituals and Targets


©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
thank you for your kind wishes! I am myself again, and happy about that.
The good thing about growing older is, that by now one knows oneself a little bit better - and I do not only know my reactions (and the time they will approximately take to heal - and if I forget I can browse through my more than 150 diaries) but also some measures I can take (or: continue) to find my balance again.
One of these wonderful stabilising tools are rituals.
"It's vital to establish some rituals - automatic but decisive patterns of behavior - at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way",
writes Twyla Tharp in her interesting book "The Creative Habit".
Every morning I light a little candle on my table, and have tiny fresh flowers for the whee little buddha, and I thank the Tao for being alive. A little bowl on the windowsill reminds me to see my day as a beggar's-bowl: wide open, but without knowing (or expecting) what the day will put into it. (And to clear my mind of too many thoughts and concepts, so that - as in the Zen story - "new tea can be filled in that cup without making it overflow by too much tea that's already in it.")

©Brigitta Huegel

                                 I once told you that I do not only eat a rich breakfast, every day, come what may (porridge with wheatgerm on it and blueberries, a boiled egg every day, half a grapefruit and a little bowl of cottage cheese and a mug of strong tea - yes, with sugar - and then a big French bowl of hot milk with an espresso in it) - but that I also greet the day - summer, winter, every day: I step on our balcony (which is large and protected by the glass front behind me and 2 walls beside me, and the floor of the balcony above, and I sip my tea, greet Berlin's skyline silently and then look at my flowers, and feed the birds (in summer only with water). I write in my diary, and then I do my version (more correct: my dear friend Stephen Russell's) version of very quick Tai Chi (that takes about 18 minutes) - and than I hop into the bathroom.
Where I remain a while, because an exact Amy Winehouse eyeliner takes it's time :-)
Then I'm ready for the day.
Yes - I am a lark,  meaning I get up very early.
The only other ritual in the day is much later a meditation (and one of the three sports: weight-lifting, yoga or walking).
If I still feel under the weather, I try to come into contact with nature or beauty:

©Brigitta Huegel

- that's why I have subscriptions for museums and the Botanic Garden and photo-galleries.
I draw (wonderful to bring my mind to rest).
Reading poetry, and then getting into touch with my own creativity works also:

©Brigitta Huegel

I meet people - and talk with them - sometimes with mere strangers who tell me often very interesting things. To satisfy my "wanderlust" in a normal week, I often go by train to a spot I do not know (I have Knut, but I prefer trains to cars when I go on my own).
Sometimes I keep my mouth shut for a while - very invigorating too (for those around me, and myself)...
And the discipline of learning Italian is sometimes like a wonderful "girdle for the brain" - though I might whine and wail that I have forgotten all I learned three days before, and that I will never get fluent in it - I see my plodding progress - and plod on.
And of course - beside my work - there are wonderful people to thank and think of - and letters or mails to send, blogs to read or to write.
You see: I won't get lost in Alice's Pool of Tears.

©Brigitta Huegel

I mean: that would ruin my Amy Winehouse-eyeliner -- than I would have to start drawing it again....
Oh no - I feel better this way, quite centred again.

PS: Before you ask - the dog does not belong to me, I saw it and quickly took a photo.





17 comments:

  1. You are quick to right the boat and know all the reasons why. Most especially the Amy Winehouse eyeliner.
    I believe the little Westie is concerned he may have to defend the umbrella. "Please don't touch it. How would I ever explain?"

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    1. Dear Joanne, you always make me smile! Yes - it was a thing (book contract) that annoyed me immensely - but now I have a new plan :-)
      The dog is sweet, isn't it? I have a pink umbrella (of course), and a turquoise one - so he doesn't have to get agitated about me nicking it...

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  2. You have a marvelous morning ritual. Rituals are a good way to set yourself for the rest of the day.

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    1. Dear Emma, I really like the ritual - and when I travel the little buddha accompanies me. (But of course I adapt to breakfast in hotels or at friends :-)

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  3. What a healthy program of rituals you have assembled! As I have got older, I find some routines quite stabilizing when I get the jumps. Aesthetic appreciation and creative efforts are good for getting me out of myself too --Norma just simplifies it as needing to have fun and, of course she is right.

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    1. Dear Geo., Norma is a wise woman! Yes, my program is healthy, but I have fun too. And as you write: important are ways to get out of oneself - that's why I love those little surprise 'journeys' into Berlin's neighbourhood - I never expect anything from villages with names like 'Kaulsdorf' or 'Köpenick' - but there is always something surprising to find (the smallest beer brewery of the world, for example - in Köpenick - who would have thought that?)

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    2. Dear Brigitta, you have struck a chord deep within me --I HAD to look up Schlossplatz Brauerei Cöpenick, and was very impressed. Oh, to sit there and sample from Hell to Dunkel...and smoked beer --I have never heard of smoked beer but the idea is compelling. This may be the smallest brewery in the world but, to me, it rivals the dimensions of dreamland.

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    3. Dear Geo., you always look deep into things - as any true researcher will, and I always admire how you work things out. In case of beer-knowledge we have a friend (he was on the narrow boat) who knows a lot of small beer brewers in Germany and England who go long ways to create (absolute pure) beers, that taste interesting and lovely. Only when I knew that, I understood, why every stop of the narrow boat was near a craft brewery... If you and Norma ever come to Berlin, we will invite you to Köpenick, so you can find out how smoked beer tastes, "in situ".

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  4. What a lovely way to start the day - bringing peace and calm into your life. When we feel down it is often the simple things that bring us to life again.

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    1. Dear Elaine, yes, I love a little time of quietude and gratefulness. The the day might serve its surprises.And I agree: simple things often have a very deep charme of their own.

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  5. I loved this post but didn't dare to be the first to comment last night! I have had a little knock of confidence maybe. I am glad you are back to normal, as I am too. I have many little "same" things I go through each day and some of them are in my head but still have to be visited. But whatever it takes I say. The discarded umbrella and the dog on his own make a wonderful photograph.

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    1. Dear Rachel, thank you! You as an artist will love rituals - Twyla Tharp, the choreographer, calls her first chapter "I walk into a white room", and in it "The blank space can be humbling". I think that is the same whether it is a room, a sheet of paper or a canvas. "Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That's it in a nutshell." I agree with her.

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  6. Britta.. I often think of my days..since retirement ...as a blank space...to fill as I choose. I do have a few minor rituals, but am not bothered if they are set aside for happier pursuits. I am glad you are feeling ourself again... You are too special as is!! Smiles...Susan

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    1. Dear Susan, thank you for your very uplifting words! Blank space: such a chance to fill them as one likes.
      I keep to my morning ritual (of course adapted on journeys), and to the other things most of the times, though I don't have a bad conscience when I skip e.g. meditation. But feel very soon that I need it again.

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    2. Dear Susan, thank you for your very uplifting words! Blank space: such a chance to fill them as one likes.
      I keep to my morning ritual (of course adapted on journeys), and to the other things most of the times, though I don't have a bad conscience when I skip e.g. meditation. But feel very soon that I need it again.

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    3. How is it I reread and reread before I post and still see a mistake after publishing? Oh well, perhaps the intended "yourself" was replaced more appropriately by the "ourself" since I often feel such a kindred spirit with you!!

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    4. Dear Susan, it is an absolute enjoyable "mistake" - and thank you for your feeling that we are of the kindred spirit, I often think the same when reading your blogs!

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