Vlog 8: Mystical Autumnal Plitvice Lakes


 

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Plitvice Lakes and the end of summer

 

A month of slowing down, settling in, friends, meet-ups – and a trip to one of the most breathtaking natural sites in all of Croatia: the Plitvice Lakes! Let me enchant you with their mystical beauty.
 

We’ve defintely arrived in autumn, even here in Croatia. The early September footage shows the last of the warm summer days, but by now the days are much shorter and the air has a bite to it, especially early in the morning here on my mountain. Go take a look!
 
 

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plitvice lakes


 

How A Life Can Change In 7 Years

how a life can change
 

Seven is a magical number. Someone once told me that seven years is a full cycle in terms of life phases. I don’t if that’s true, but the idea sounds intriguing to me!
 

Today, I’ll look back 7 years to see exactly how much and in what ways my life has changed through a focus on passion and finding my purpose.
 

Before I start: I know, I know. Here I am talking about passions and purpose, and you may ask whether getting financial security and organising the practical things in life isn’t more important. To which I say:

  1. These things are all part of building a life of passion and purpose.
  2. At the same time, they’re worth nothing without passion and purpose.

 

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Flashback to 2014

 

Holy smokes, I just looked for a picture of myself in 2014. Are you ready?
 

how a life can change
 

This is the only picture I could find, and that’s so telling. Here’s what my life was like:

  • I was high-functioning but depressive.
  • I had isolated myself and used junk food as my consolation.
  • Consequently, I was overweight.
  • I worked in a soulless job that required insane hours.
  • I lived in a nice place but one I had no emotional attachment to.
  • No time or energy to focus on my coaching.
  • The only one of my passions I pursued was gaming.*

`*Honestly, it saved my life. The contact to and friendship with my gamer friends prevented me from becoming a hermit.
 
 

What did I do to change?

 

If you’re expecting a weight-loss story, then I’m sorry to disappoint. My story does involve weight loss, but that happened as a side effect, not because of any major focus on it. Instead, I’d like to list what I did to turn my life around.

  • I moved to a place my soul resonates with.
  • Quit the soulless job and got a work-from-home role.
  • Got lots of rest and took long walks.

When I was healed (only then!), I added:

  • Prioritised pursuing my passions above everything else.
  • Started working on my business.
  • Put the focus of my coaching on passion and purpose.
  • Began to work out again (as part of my passions).
  • Ate delicious food that made me feel alive.

butterfly
 

How a life can change

 

Looking over these lists, I’m in awe. I hardly recognise the woman on the picture above and I’m overcome with gratitude.
 

I got this close to living out my life in limbo.
 

So close to working for a living but not having a life.
 

Where do I even begin to describe the changes in my life? Let’s try and summarise them into categories:
 
 

Life and happiness

 

I spent five years working a lovely job from home. It left me plenty of energy to build up my Coaching and my second business, my first love: working with language as a teacher and proofreader. 1 ½ years ago, I quit the job and became full-time self employed.
 

Both my businesses happen 100% over the internet, so I’m location independent and can spend a few months a year in other places I love. This hasn’t been possible recently because of the pandemic, but it’s still very much on the cards.
 

I’m rested, relaxed, and happy. Nothing gets me to rush around anymore. I’ve also just moved to a mountain village close to the Croatian coast and the peace here is indescribable. At the same time, I’m still close enough to the city to see my friends regularly.
 

True, I’m no longer as slim as I got in the first rush of happiness after “waking up” to life. But I’m nowhere near overweight and still a good 17 kg (that’s nearly 3 st) lighter than I was in 2014!
 
 

Passions and purpose

 

My passions are front and centre in my life. This forms the foundation of the above – being successful, at peace and relaxed with no time pressure or financial worries. These things are the direct result of my decision to focus on the things that light me up: Music, piano, dancing, archery, literature, making videos, and of course, coaching.
 

My life purpose became clear only months into focusing on my passions. It had been there all along, but suddenly it jumped out at me and became so obvious, I wondered how I had missed it all these years. Subsequently I shifted my entire life to align with this purpose, and that’s the connection between passions, purpose, and the happiness I described in the previous section.
 

my new life
 

How you can change yours

 

Here’s the good news: It doesn’t take 7 years to accomplish this. in fact, most of the elements of my current happiness were in place 5-6 months after I had started changing my life. I have since repeated the process – in different ways, because every person’s life is a different story – with my clients, over and over.
 

Basically, it can be broken down to two steps:
 

The outside circumstances
This is your job, your media habits, your everyday life, and it’s about simplifying and downsizing. Don’t say you can’t because you have three kids – I promise you, it’s possible, and my clients prove it. If you don’t know how, talk to me and we’ll do it together!
 

The passion(s) focus
Prioritising your passion does not mean to start earning money with it. You can do that if you wish, but if your passion is something you just like to fool around with, or in my case, some things you’re not even particularly good at, it should simply be a priority because it gives you joy.
 

To learn this goes against all our society teaches, and it’s hard. Make no mistake. It’s a process, but it’s the most worthwhile endeavor you could undertake because your life is going to fall into place. At some point, things become easy. And easier. Suddenly, joy and bliss emerge where you least expected them.
 

Life will be unrecognisable.
 

Slow Down, Simplify Your Life, And Make Space For Your Passion

make space for your passion
 

Social media circulate images of pretty young women looking dreamily into the middle distance whilst sitting in a window seat and holding a mug of tea. It’s easy to relate to a peaceful scene like this, but what does it really say? What does it take to actually simplify, and how can you apply this to your own life? How do you make space for your passion?
 

First, I’d like to hit you with a hard truth: Slowing down is anything but easy.
 

It’s one of those things people would rather die than admit, a bit like their addiction to their phone or social media. We think of these things as weaknesses and typical of shallow people who always chase the next high. Surely, we ourselves are more refined, looking for deeper meaning and savouring life?
 

The truth is that stress addiction is common amongst people of all ages, all social backgrounds and all levels of education and/or intelligence. In short, it’s got nothing to do with how well you’re equipped to handle your life.
 
 

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Why I failed at slowing down

 

This is something I found out when after years of working a full-time job as well as two businesses, I finally gave up the job and moved to Croatia. I had been dreaming of and longing for slow, blissful days of a perfect balance between work and my passions, as well as lots of rest.
 

Six months in, I noticed to my surprise that I was still stressed and short of time. I couldn’t figure out why – objectively, I was doing so much less! But the truth is, stress is an addiction. The way we live in our modern world, the way we are brought up and the ideals we are taught, all promote an adrenaline-fuelled lifestyle. By the time we’re adults, we’re adrenaline junkies.
 

I was perpetuating the stress because on some level, I needed it. It took more than just outward changes to overcome the addiction.
 


 

Make space for your passion: Be prepared

 

In order to actually slow down, you’ll need to be aware that it requires far more than simply “doing fewer things”. Therefore, these are the first steps to take:
 

1. Expect to be profoundly uncomfortable for a while. Being prepared for a hard time ensures you won’t be taken by surprise. You’re about to break an addiction, and those are known for putting up a tough fight.
 

2. Plan for a period of transition. Exactly zero people have gone from stress to zen in a week or two. Realistically, you’ll need at least 3 months to ease yourself into, well, ease. You’ll need reminders to make space for your passion.
 

3. Be 100% clear that you’re choosing to be the odd one out, the weird one, forever. Our world is not designed for the simple life. You’ll fly in the face of everything that makes this society tick, from the need to grow the economy (through consumerism and hard work) to bragging rights as a parent or feeling smug because of how much you’re getting done. Busy is equalled with successful in our world, and it hurts to be seen as a failure or weakling – don’t fool yourself into thinking you “don’t care what other people think” of you. It’ll hurt.
 
 

Make space for your passion: Make the changes

 

Once the above is in place, it’s time to actually take the plunge. Whilst each person’s situation is different, here’s a rough outline of the steps to take.
 

4. This is likely going to be a work in progress: Determine what changes you’re willing to make. It may seem easy for a single person to let go of things and activities, but are you truly prepared to do it? And what if you have children? Are you prepared to move your family to a rural area, to downsize on Christmas gifts and performance pressure in school, to really embrace a whole new lifestyle? Or would you rather just make some small adjustments? Be honest with yourself.
 

5. Put in place the changes you decided on, in whatever way is appropriate. You needn’t – and in many cases, can’t – do it all at once. Easy does it, and coming off the adrenaline high gradually might make the transition smoother. Have a lot of patience with yourself and those around you and don’t expect miracles.
 

6. This is the most important part, and the one most people forget (I did, too): Work on overcoming your adrenaline addiction. This can take many forms, such as severely reducing your time online and/or in front of screens, taking daily walks in nature, taking up meditation, consciously doing nothing for certain periods of time, spending time on your passions, quality time with your loved ones…
 


 

What I did to simplify and create space

 

Full disclosure, I should have titled this part “What I’m doing to…”, present tense. It’s an ongoing project. I don’t feel stressed any longer a lot of the time, but I still get caught up in “busy-ness” occasionally. My recent house purchase and move (which you’ll know about if you follow my vlogs) was one of those situations!
 

All in all, though, I’ve managed to actually decelerate and create a lot of space for myself, the people who matter, and my passions. Here are some examples of what I put in place:

  • Checking and replying to emails and social media posts a maximum of 3 times a day.
  • At least an hour of offline time in the evening.
  • Occasional offline days at the weekend.
  • Actually prioritising my passions by taking a lot of time for them every single day.
  • Cultivating contact with friends outside of texting: Voice messages, long emails, Skype/Zoom, personal meet-ups.
  • Working less. And still less. Funnily enough, my income has increased (no, that’s not a co-incidence. More about this some other time!).
  • Resting when I need to, even if it’s “a lot” and means I’m not getting anything done.
  • No longer stating how busy I am when I chat to friends or acquaintances.
  • Moving to a mountain village where even just the view and the peace and quiet cause me to relax.

And there you have it! Your own path might look similar or completely different. Don’t be afraid to experiment and to discard things that don’t work for you. Stick with it and one day you’ll feel yourself breathing happiness. Your passions will soar. And that truly is worth every effort.
 

Vlog 6: Arriving In My New House


 

Arriving in my own house

 

After months of “not yet”, finally here’s the vlog that shows me arriving in my new house! Or maybe I should call it my old house, as it’s actually 130 years old (almost).
 

Here’s the journey of a summer, with desparation, things going wrong, great friends and helpers, as well as one day away from all the madness with my cousin in Istria. Enjoy!
 
 

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arriving in my new house


 

Vlog 5: Summer Solstice & Luminous Nights In Croatia


 

Summer solstice in Croatia! Living in the mediterranean is like a dream come true in the summer. Let me show you the beauty as I talk about the summer solstice and the progress on my “new old” house.

 
 

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summer solstice