Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Showing posts with label Stephen Russell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stephen Russell. Show all posts

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.





Sunday, 11 January 2015

Multitasking - as they say a woman can...

©photoBrigitta Huegel


Dear You,
the above photo shows you a (once) glazed tile on which I drew a picture decades ago that I had spotted in a Cosmopolitan - oh yes, now you know what you might have always suspected: I was an avid reader of Cosmo (British edition) - and it might have shaped my superficial view on life, career and men. (I bought their Cosmo books for Alpha Women, sniggered through Tom Crabtree's wonderful psycholigical insights; and met my dearest friend Stephen Russell (Barefoot Doctor) in real life - the Urban Warrior, who still visits me in Berlin.
Nowadays I don't read Cosmo anymore - more precise: I don't read women's magazines anymore - too much to do.
So much, that today I wanted to test a quality they say women are good at: multitasking.
My dear Tamagotchi Exprelia (you remember her? Let me assure you: first impressions are very often very right: the exclusive coffee machine is the most demanding and outright brazen thing I own - but her coffee is very good, so I try to come even with her. In Berlin we have horrible calcareous water, and though I always use a Brita filter, the machine insists on being decalcified after less than a month (!!! and it does not - as they pretend in the 82 !!! pages of the user manual they hide on a DVD while innocently (though with a faintly noticeable sardonic smile around their lips) handing out to the naive buyer - me - a little leaflet to read, - pretending ultra simplicity and pure convenience, har, har, har... - oh, I lose the thread (but never, as husband sometimes remarks a bit reproachfully: the point of my crusade) -- SO: decalcifying does NOT take the pretended 35 minutes, but 55 minutes (of your life)!
In which you have to be THERE (because T. gives you a hundred and one little orders, and like a little cat that is wrongly handled it pisses on the floor if you don't dance around her...)
Ah - come to think of it: I might write a backup-book - "Coffee-Meditations for the Modern Woman - How to be fully in the Here and Now" (As I said: you HAVE to be HERE). Might even sell it to dear Cosmo.
So multitasking I took out the wonderful cookbook "Plenty" by Yotam Ottolenghi and prepared inbetween "Roasted Parsnips with sweet potatoes" (yummy! - which takes an hour to roast in the oven). AND multitasked the fridge (taking part in The Kitchn's January Cure Apartmenttherapy - which told us followers to clean the kitchen deeply on this Saturday/Sunday, AND in between I memorized my Italian vocabulary and grammar, AND put down a few hints for some questions a journalist asked me to answer.
In the end I and everything was finished.
I have to confess: from now on I take again the male viewpoint and stick to it - "One thing at a time."
Mindful.
Of course.

PS: Son lectured me on never to personalize THINGS - makes you prone to subtile assaults - and as I follow his advices almost blindly, you won't hear of my Tamagotchi coffee machine again.
(Am too busy for games like that, have to... oh! ...it bellows:  "Fill up the water tank!" Sorry... 


http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/a-better-kitchen-by-sunday-evening-the-january-cure-assignment-6-214535?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=tk



Monday, 28 October 2013

Grand Hotel Heiligendamm: We had Putin's Suite (I think)

Britta Huegel


"Being determines consciousness" says the popular version of a quote by Karl Marx (the original is: "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness"). 
Well, who am I to question that - but humbly I annotate an observation of mine, where the opposite seemed to have happen - vice versa, so to speak: 
Husband worked so long and intensely on his paper about LUXURY (of all people: him -- he is the most modest man I know...) that the topic might have crept in unnoticed. 
Whatsoever: as compensation for my lovely narrow boat trip that I did on my own, he booked a 4 day-trip to the Grand Hotel in Heiligendamm. Five stars. 
Yes - THE one. Where in 2007 the 33rd G8-summit took place - with Angela Merkel, Sarkozy, Putin, Prodi, Blair and so on.  
As the stuff is absolutely discreet, I could only allure a hint of a nod when asking if we had Mr. Putin's suite - and maybe I even imagined the nod :-) 
It was absolutely gorgeous. Luxury at its best - even the weather! 
Heavenly breakfast in heaven (the same room for dinner). 

Britta Huegel

A terrace, and a vast lawn with silvery teak tables with starched linnen and heavy silver tableware that made me think of a picture in the old film version of Galsworthy's 'Forsyte Saga", and we could look from at the turquoise Baltic Sea

Britta Huegel

On the right a huge foundling with an inscription - 

Britta Huegel

it was Duke Friedrich Franz I of Mecklenburg-Schwerin who bathed in the sea at "Heiligen Damm" for the first time in the year 1793 (his physician, Prof. Dr. Samuel Gottlieb Vogel recommended that). So the first German seaside resort was founded. 
"Between 1793 - 1870, the master builders Johann Christoph Heinrich von Seydewitz, Carl Theodor Severin and Gustv Adolph Demmler created a unique classical complete work of art out of bathing and guesthouses. In 1823, the first racing track on the European continent was officially opened bewtween Heiligendamm and Doberan and with it came the foundation of German horse racing. (...) 
Since its foundation, Heiligendamm has been the most elegant seaside health resort in Germany. The highest ranks of the European nobility, including the Tsar's family, spent their summer holidays here.  (...). In society of that time it was a must to have been there at least once in one's life." (Hotel brochure) 
Beautiful, beautiful - and now we have been there :-) 

Britta Huegel


Britta Huegel


Britta Huegel

But I have to confess: though I really, really enjoyed being pampered: this is not the way I would want to live forever. After a very short time I would feel -- immobilized - aimless - childlike. And that's definitely not the way I want to live. 
With 17 I won a Highschool poetry contest with my recitation of Charles Baudelaire's poem 'L'Invitation au Voyage' - and the refrain was: 
"Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté 
 Luxe, calme et volupté.
(There all is order and beauty/ Luxury, silence and voluptuousness). Well, except the last point that would get on my nerves after a while, I think. 
To quote my friend Stephen (Russel): "... it is the mess of it that makes it glorious - and so are you: glorious." 
Nothing to add. 
 






Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Tao of Wishes

Brigitta Huegel

One of the books my dearest English friend, Stephen Russell, The Barefoot Doctor, has written is called: 'Manifesto. How to get what you want without trying.
Had I but thought about it a bit longer! 
But no - carelessly I told Husband that I would appreciate to live on a houseboat. Very much. (I had seen some nice exemplars like that above on the Spree). 
"You?", asked Husband. "On a boat? Living on a damp, narrow, moving boat?
I felt piqued. Said: "Pshaw - I have many undiscovered facets you don't know!"  
The Tao listened. And laughed. 
And so a few days ago I got a surprising offer. 
A friend - and friends of him - will make a trip on a narrowboat from Bradford-on-Avon to Bath, direction Bristol, and back again. 
From the "(2 x) Three Men in a Boat" two had resigned - so Husband and I were asked. He, deep in writing an essay on "Luxury", has no time - but I..? 
For a second I hesitated. Then, without batting an eyelid I stared into Husband's eyes (did I imagine that I saw deep laughter in them?) "Of course I go", I said. "Such a big chance!
Which it is. I hope that the weather will be fine. 
But not being THAT starry-eyed anymore, I bought a dream-shiny-fuchsia Max Mara-down-vest - beautiful,slim and snuggly warm under my Burberry-Jacket. Then I rummaged through my winter wardrobe and pulled out the long black woolen-silk wool-pants with frills around the ankle. 
Yes! I know chapter 3 of Tove Jansson's 'Comet in Moominland' by heart, headline:  'Which is how to manage crocodiles' .  
So: come what may: Be prepared! 

P.S. For those who don't  know Tove's book (which is a fault!): Moomin's mother unnerves the young adventurers before their trip to take wool-pants with them (that's how mothers are) - and later, when they have to fight off crocodiles in a water tunnel they throw the heavy wool-pants into the wide open claws of the crocodiles. Saved!