Freedom – Am I free?

Freedom. Happiness. Love.

These 3 words are my key goals, my why, for being on this journey of personal growth. This article is dedicated to the all important word freedom. But what does freedom actually mean? What does it mean for me? Am I free?

I have stumbled upon these questions more than once now. Probably because I’m on this spiritual journey. Probably because I’m questioning existing beliefs, behaviours and limitations. Probably because I’m curious by nature.

I have always been. 

Yes, I’ve always been curious, but looking back now, I feel like there was one kind of curiosity that was accepted in life, and another curiosity that wasn’t. Because it was too questioning. Too rebellious. Too scary. Which means that over time, I’ve reduced the amount of questions asked, I didn’t challenge the existing as much anymore, I basically lost my natural curiosity about life. I lost who I have always been.

However, it would be unfair to say that it is fully our society’s fault, because at the end of the day I accepted the existing, I accepted certain beliefs, I accepted specific behaviours as well as limitations. Most likely though, the acceptance wasn’t a 100% conscious process, but I trusted that the existing was right, good and I guess normal. Because why would you question something that seems to work? The answer is you wouldn’t, until you do, which is when you realised that things don’t actually work. Well, for me at least.

I’ve been at this point several times now, but my breakthrough to dig deeper and to really question the existing happened whilst travelling through Latin America, especially when I was in Mexico. Ever since, I’ve embarked on a journey, on my inner journey.

Destination: Myself. 

I understood over the last years that my inner journey with the destination ‘Myself’ has long been overdue and is absolutely essential to the pursuit of freedom.

Whilst we are of course influenced by society, our parents and upbringing as well as by politics etc., it is still our choice – especially when we grow older – which influences we actually accept or reject within our value system.

We are free to choose.

This means we can choose every moment who we are and who we truly want to be. But we will only experience true freedom, once our mind is truly free, allowing us to be, truly and authentically.

True self against Troublemaker

However, our true self often faces our difficult self. I like to call it ‘Troublemaker’. We are scared, our thoughts limiting and our self is less wild. Love is increasingly replaced by fear. We’ve lost ourselves.

But don’t we remember what our true essence is? What our purpose of existence is?

True essence

Our true essence is to enjoy life, to play like a child on the playground, to explore, to be happy and to love.

I am craving that life again, a life of freedom, of happiness and love. I got an amazing taster of life and my true essence whilst travelling through Latin America and I simply cannot go back. I want to get to the bottom of my true self again. I want to let go of all limiting beliefs, I want to express my feelings, I don’t want to live my life on other people’s terms, so that I’m being liked and accepted, I first and foremost want to like myself.

Because I’ve understood: If I like myself, I can dissolve everything that does not serve me any longer. I can blow off the dust of my very own diamond that is my true and authentic self.

And then I can go and get my freedom back, visualising everything I’ve always dreamt of.

PS: Do you see the yellow reflection on the picture? On the left side, right where the heart is? No more words needed…

Go and follow your heart.

Yours, Nina

 

 

 

 

A moving life

This blog post refers to the great German podcast of Benjamin Bulach “Finde deinen eigenen Weg” / “Find your own way”. It was so much fun. Thank you, Ben.

https://soundcloud.com/benjamin-bulach/folge-5-ein-leben-in-bewegung-mit-nina-sadlowsky

I came across a post on Facebook, where Ben was looking for people to interview in his podcast, people with a different CV, people who changed their direction in life. I found that very appealing, which is why I instantly wrote Ben, that I’d be more than happy to support him and tell my story in his podcast.

Since the podcast has been recorded in German, I will do my best to write a summary of the podcast episode here, in English.

B: How did you know that what you’re doing is not right for you anymore?

N: In my first marketing job, I realised that I hardly had any time for myself, I had headaches quite often, my shoulders were aching, so I had quite a few physical signs that I was not at my best. And I thought at 28 years old, that can’t be right. That is not the life I want to live.

B: And how did you then realise that you want to change directions? 

N: That actually took some time and a U-turn. At the time, I thought the issue was the job and it certainly was from a stress level, but I also realised when I changed my job then, that this was not right either. Whilst my first job was too intense, the next one was a bit too boring. It was a long dream of mine to be an actress, and hence I applied to various acting schools in Germany and I got accepted by all 4 schools that I had applied to. So, I felt reassured that my feelings were right and that I held a potential that was waiting to be unleashed. So, I quit my job and visited an acting school in Munich.

But, I also realised that the job issue was only one side of the medal, but that in fact I missed my boyfriend at the time, as we were having a distance relationship. The topics love and relationship were apparently bigger than I thought.

B: Ok, and how did your environment react when you decided for the acting school?

Well, there were some people who were really excited for me and encouraged me to go ahead with my plan, but then there were people, especially my family, who raised concerns over leaving my safe job in marketing and about my financial situation. I heard the word Must a lot. You must have a job, you must work, you must must must. And I suddenly thought “Do I? Must I?” I started questioning things.

B: And then, how did you realise that the acting school suits you more than the classical marketing job?

N: Well, that is an interesting question. I did the acting school for only 5 months in the end, as again I missed my boyfriend at the time and when he decided to move to London, I moved to London, too. I think looking back I just needed the acting school as a way to break out, to leave the marketing world behind for the time being. And it really was the kick off for me to feel myself properly again, to get an idea of who I really am and who I really want to be. I also realised that sitting in an office the entire day is not what I want. I’m naturally someone who likes moving and exploring. And the acting school gave me the opportunity to explore myself and to unfold my personality in many directions. So maybe the acting school served as a kick off for my personal development.

B: Were you always someone who needed to feel herself?

N: Yes, definitely. Since age 4 I’ve been dancing the ballet, jazz dance, and Latin dances. I always moved and I need movement in my life. Movement helps me to feel myself and be in my highest alignment. Without movement, I am not in flow. But I love flowing.

B: And then when you lived in London, you decided to travel a bit further, right?

N: Yes, that’s right. My boyfriend and me broke up at the end of 2014 and 6 months later I was in a new relationship with my colleague. By the way, I worked in a marketing job back then that I really loved, until we were sold to a German company. So, after 3 years in the job, I quit and I said to my bf that I always wanted to go travelling through Latin America when I’d quit my job next time. And he replied that he was in and so we planned our adventure together. After 2 months of travelling, he broke up with me. I was shattered and thought I was in the wrong movie. It woke me up, not gently, but it did. I started thinking about me, my life, about the reasons of what had happened. My sadness quickly converted into anger and that intense feeling helped me to overcome my sadness by redirecting my anger into positive energy. I then decided to continue my travels alone; my first thought was indeed that I will be doing that on my own and that I won’t let someone destroy my dreams.

B: What helped you most in that situation?

N: Basically the fact that I can trust my intuition. I had a strong feeling that my travels were only about to start, but of course there were voices telling me to come home, and also there was my inner voice speaking to me, but I simply knew, that my first thought and gut feel was right and that I needed to travel on my own. Of course I heard my head and my heart constantly fighting, but my heart voice won. Luckily!

B: What were your main insights from your travels?

N: Definitely that I realised that I can trust my intuition and my heart. Hence, I am now able to shorten the inner conflict of head and heart. If I listen … Also, courage. I was quite courageous during my trip and that’s definitely something I want to keep up, as I think it is incredibly important to be brave, to be open-minded, to be communicative, simply to approach people I don’t know (yet). It is a beautiful feeling. And finally, I realised how important it is to live your true self and this is hence my last insight from my travels, that I want to keep going on this path of personal growth expressing my true self. To focus on what I want and what I need. Self-love is the key word in this context. It’s essential to practice self-love as only then we can spread love and serve others.

B: Talking about self-love, I would also like to talk with you about yoga, meditation and physical work in general. I personally find it quite difficult to be still and meditate and since you are a lively person, too, how did you ease into it? How did you start?

Yes, indeed, that’s not so easy. I actually got in touch with meditation for the first time when I visited a yoga retreat in Gran Canaria in 2015. I just couldn’t sit still, not even for a minute. I couldn’t bear the stillness. I got hot & restless, I had to move all the time, it wasn’t nice to realise that I wasn’t able to sit still. It made me think. And so I started meditating for a minute and gradually increased my meditation time. But I had my real breakthrough in Mexico at the end of my travels when I visited another yoga retreat. The combination of the sea, the sand, the beach and the right people surrounding me helped me to let go and to run along with it. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to travel to Mexico now in order to find their way into meditation, but it means to give it a try, and not to overwhelm yourself. Just start with a one minute meditation and gradually raise it to 10/15 minutes, depending on how long you wish to meditate for. The most important thing is to do it daily. Rather meditate every day for only 5 min than trying it once a week for 15 minutes. It won’t work. It’s difficult to sit still for 15 minutes, if you never meditated before and if you are a lively person by nature. So, you need to be patient with yourself and practice. I can now meditate for 15 minutes and longer and yes, of course I have days where my thoughts are still wandering, too, but I notice it quicker and hence I can bring my focus back to my breath way quicker. It also helps visualising that you observe yourself from above, how you sit there on your mat or cushion. It gives the mind something to do, which means you can focus on your breath. Worth trying.

B: And how does yoga and meditation go together for you? How are these two connected?

N: They are strongly connected. Yoga is meditation. And actually I only found my way into meditation through yoga. I’m a person who needs to move first before being able to rest and I’m sure many people can resonate. Practicing asanas on your yoga mat is meditation and everything else around you dissolves. Now after years of practice I can also rest without the physical exercise.

B: Great. What are your plans now relating to yoga, meditation and coaching?

N: Meditation is something I’ve really incorporated in my life. And yoga is so much more for me than the practice on the mat, it’s about being mindful and connected with yourself. Of course, I want to continue teaching yoga, I would like to hold yoga retreats and workshops globally. In April, I will furthermore start a coaching education. Hence, my goal is to combine these themes and to complement them with essential oils as well. I really want to build my own business doing what I love. Living a life that I love.

B: Imagine you would meet your younger self, little Nina. What would you tell her?

N: I would tell her to trust herself. Listen to your heart and switch off the voices outside, as best as you can. Trust that your decision and the ways you are attracted to have their right to exist. Everything makes sense looking back, everything has its positive side. Trust me. Sometimes we need triggers to leave our comfort zone, and whilst it might hurt at the time, these triggers can catapult you to a totally different level. Also, look inside yourself, find silence, find peace, switch off, spend alone time, don’t fear alone time. Give your emotions the chance to come up.

Just imagine you are a crystal and the crystal is completely covered in dust, and gradually you blow off the dust, bit by bit, layer by layer and your true self is being revealed.

B: That’s a wonderful picture, thank you. What would you recommend people how they can find silence if they simply don’t know how…

N: That is difficult. But I’d say one approach is if you really want to change something, then you will. For example start by taking 30 minutes every Sunday, which are just for you, reading, drinking tea, sitting in a cafe, taking a bath. Whatever it may be, do it for yourself and alone. Or sometimes if a change is triggered by external factors, then listen to yourself and your body what it is you need and acknowledge it accordingly. For example you feel tired and exhausted then take some time out, a day, a few hours or whatever you can do to find back to your inner peace. Don’t lie to yourself and really listen. Our body speaks to us and most people are great at hiding and covering up the symptoms and feelings, but exactly then it’s so important to have access to yourself and listen to what your conditions and emotions are telling you. And if you do listen, beautiful things will be revealed.

B: Like you know my podcast is called Find Your Own Way. And of course, there are always different paths to take. What paths do you want to take?

N: I have definitely visualised my future life. In terms of business, I want to build upon yoga, coaching, meditation and essential oils. From a private point of view, well I’m single at the moment, but I do wish for a beautiful relationship with a guy who is on a similar way or is at least open to accompany me on my way. I also see that I’ll have a house by the sea and that I work from there. Nina sitting by the sea, with her husband and her laptop writing articles, her blog, teaching yoga, and so much more, with the picture of living a dream of freedom, happiness and love. I do know that there will still be obstacles along the way, but I also have the confidence that I will master them, based on my experiences, my knowledge and my growth. There will always be obstacles, but it’s important to know that we all have the capabilities to overcome them and succeed.

B: Thanks so much, a beautiful picture to finish on. It will be very interesting to see where you stand in 10 years time. Thank you, Nina, for being here. Dear listeners, I hope you’ll find your dream picture, too. All the best for you. 

N: Thank you, Ben. Ciao.

 

Big Five for Life

My success story and hence realisation of one of my Big Five for Life already started when I was 17 years old. But I didn’t know anything about the Big Five for Life, needless to say that I didn’t understand then that I was about to get closer to realise my dream.

Back in high school, one teacher offered Spanish classes as an extracurricular activity. Since starting school, I was interested in languages. I like the idea of being able to talk to other people in their local language. I already knew German and English, so I signed up for the Spanish classes, with 100% enthusiasm. Only 6 months later my teacher organised an exchange programme to the beautiful and cosy town of Linares, Jan in Andalusia. I was really happy with my host family and my exchange partner Ana, who was 3 years older than me. Jackpot at this age, since I would be hanging out with 20 year olds. The family only spoke Spanish, nothing else, so I really had to make an effort to make myself understood. The result: after only 2 weeks in Spain (plus the 6 months before), I spoke enough Spanish to get by, to order drinks and food, to ask for directions or to introduce myself.

When I returned home, I was sure to continue learning Spanish, but my dream had grown bigger. I was inspired by my teacher who spent 6 months in Argentina plus I was driven by the idea of speaking several languages.

So, my dream suddenly became clear: I want to travel through Latin America someday. I want to improve my Spanish skills and most importantly I want to feel this feeling again. My inner joy like a child, that swings back and forth, a feeling of warmth and openness, that I experienced during my exchange programme, a feeling of extensiveness and independence, and trust that

Everything is possible.

And so one of my biggest Big Five for Life was born: Travelling through Latin America. I didn’t have any idea, when or how, but it was crystal clear why and that I want to do this.

I’m fast forwarding to my time as a student of business administration. In 2005 I had the opportunity to study in Wales, which I grabbed instantly. Why? I felt this feeling again. Of course I was there to improve my English skills, but the university also offered Spanish classes, and so I signed up again, studying Spanish for another 8 months. I mean who says that I couldn’t learn two languages at the same time? Right…!

I moved to London in 2012, as my boyfriend at the time worked in finance, and because I simply wanted to. I had this feeling of travel pleasure again, the desire to experience something new. Of course, it was also my plan to find a job in London as marketing manager, but what drove me most was the desire to speak a different language, to dive into a new culture and to meet new people. It was simply exciting.

After 2 years in that job and a feeling of having settled into the job, I felt the urge to learn something (new) again. And there it was again, my thoughts about Latin America and Spanish. I asked for recommendations for Spanish schools on Facebook and one school that was recommended most was Instituto Cervantes. Said and one. I called the school, arranged an appointment for a level test, and started my classes only a few weeks later. I pushed through all classes, once a week, every Monday, after work, even in summer.

In 2014, my boyfriend and me broke up, but since I was happy in London with my job, my friends and everything else, I simply wasn’t ready to close this chapter. So I stayed, against the exceptions of family and friends.

Do you know this feeling, when you know? When you intuitively know what is right for you? I felt exactly this feeling. I simply knew that my journey wasn’t over. Not here, not now.

Trust your intuition.

In June 2015 I got together with my new boyfriend from London, who was my colleague at the same time. Only a few months later, we were told that our company would be sold to a German company. I saw a big potential for my career at this company, since I was the only one speaking German and English fluently and understanding both cultures. However, during the acquisition, I realised that I didn’t want to continue working for this company. And still, my thoughts were going in circles for weeks, what to do next, back and forth. But suddenly there it was. Clarity. About quitting. Moreover, I was 100% sure that this would be the moment. I long had this dream to travel through Latin America, but still there were always reasons against it (in my head), why this wouldn’t be possible, for example due to a relationship, a job, not enough money, not enough time etc. But in this moment there weren’t any obstacles any more. Not even my relationship at the time was an obstacle for me. I took my boyfriend aside and talked him through my dream of travelling through Latin America and that the timing just seemed perfect. I told him that I swore myself that next time I’d quit a job, I would go on this journey. And he liked the idea.So we both quit our safe and well-paid jobs in London in February 2016.

Our research started. Which countries, how long, when to start, which Spanish school.

I just couldn’t believe that my dream of travelling through Latin America would finally (at the age of 34) become true, yet at the same time it felt so natural, as if was meant to be. I was so much looking forward to this journey and my travels kicked off on the 5th June 2016. Me, Nina, with my 15kg backpack, on her way to the first stop, Havana in Cuba. The return flight was planned for the 26th September, so we had just under 4 months of travelling and adventure ahead of us. The adventure came, but differently.

We travelled from Cuba to Guatemala, where we stayed for 2 weeks in Antigua in a Spanish school. We continued to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. I really wanted to go to Mexico, but my boyfriend wasn’t so keen on it, and since it was more a feeling than anything else, I couldn’t really argue why I wanted to go. We then travelled to Colombia, to Ecuador, and here we visited a Spanish school again in Montañita, a surf town, where we spent 2 weeks in a hotel right at the beach. Next stop was Peru and on the peak point of this country, Machu Picchu, our relationship also arrived at a peak named end.

We still travelled to Bolivia together, but it was clear that we couldn’t make this work, regarding our communication, our wishes as well as our idea of relationship and partnership. Nevertheless, the end came kind of as a surprise to me and it therefore hurt and it was an end full of tears. But in all this emotional drama, I knew, I had to leave this place asap in order to create space, to have air to breathe. So, 2 days later (mid-August) I was on a plane to Uyuni, to see the biggest salt flats of the world. And to feel this feeling again. My Why.

Whilst approximately 95% of friends and family suggested to come back home (but what was that home, London or Munich?) I felt deep inside me, that my journey was not over yet. That this journey would continue. That it had only just started. And so it was.

What is it that YOU want?

The adventure was bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. In the following days I decided to continue my travels as originally planned, but solo. It was my dream, one of my Big Five for Life, remember? I simply couldn’t stand the idea that a break up should erase this dream. No Way! It simply didn’t feel right to stop my travels, actually I felt the opposite. I suddenly had this deep trust, despite the heartache, that everything was happening for a reason and that it was right and important for me to make this experience. For me, my journey and my path of life.

Trust your intuition.

So, I decided to continue my travels on my own. In my pace, and with a feeling of floating, to simply live into the day. And my journey began and with it the fulfilment of one of my Big Five for Life.

From Bolivia, I flew to Chile and spent two wonderful weeks in Santiago de Chile. Due to the emotional chaos that I was in, I had somehow forgotten that my return flight to London was in 2 weeks already. And there it was again, the dilemma, that we all know.

Heart says, head says.

My heart spoke clearly, but softly to me to extend the journey, but my head, also shaped by the opinion of others, requested to fly back to London on 26th September, as it had all been planned.

My heart won! I was getting warm. I called the travel office and asked for flight options  to somewhere nice and warm, with sun, sand and sea. I just knew what I needed for my heart, my soul and a relaxed finale of my journey. Guess what I booked? Mexico. Yes!

But first things first, because from Chile I first travelled to Argentina. Since I had extended my trip for another 7 weeks, I took my time to explore this beautiful country a bit more. I met a nice woman in Buenos Aires who invited me into her casa in La Rioja.

And I felt this feeling again: warmth, openness, and freedom. When I spotted a swing in a giant garden, I was so happy and I started swinging like a child. Playful and content.

I spent my last 4 weeks in Mexico. Mexico and especially Tulum has become my magic place. A place of reflection, of inner peace, of sheer pleasure and the journey to myself. It was most likely the most important journey in my life. An experience I would have never made, if I had given up on my dream of travelling through Latin America.

And in the last weeks I gained even more clarity whilst sitting at the beach of Tulum: I move back into my hometown Munich. I want to deepen my yoga and meditation practice. And I will finally write a blog, inspired by my (inner) journey.

And these visions became reality. I live in a beautiful flat in Munich, I’m doing my yoga teacher training and I launched my blog, this blog. My heart project. The name Nina’s Pink Notes is based on a pink notebook that was my loyal companion during my travels.

Today, I’m very grateful for my experiences, because they showed me how important it is to trust myself, my heart and my inner voice. My experiences made me stronger, wiser and brought me on a more beautiful and authentic way.

If you are currently in a situation and you don’t know what to do or decide, let me tell you one thing. Really trust your intuition and follow your heart!

Yours, Nina