[ J – 006 ]

On Self Care & Routines

I’ve been meaning to use this journal for more fun, mundane things. So, here’s a list of things I’ve incorporated into my daily routine that really work for me and have helped make life a tad easier and calmer.

  • After applying my skincare, I rub whatever is left on my hands onto my elbows. They’ve transformed from crusty and dry to absolutely baby-smooth!
  • Invest in a water flosser, an electric toothbrush, and a tongue scraper. My dental routine’s got almost as many steps as my skincare these days and my dentist is very pleased with me.
  • Don’t wear gel nails for too long. I adore the simplicity of a good gel manicure, but let me tell you, after a few months, my nails turn brittle and start snapping left and right. Now, I just go for regular manicures every once in a while and carve out an hour every [well, most, ish] Sunday to do my own nails.
  • Get yourself an emotional support water bottle that turns hydration into a fun activity. I switch between a few favourites, but my current top pick is this baby right here [affiliate link].
  • Pick up a no-screen hobby. I tend to hyper-focus on one hobby at a time. Right now, it’s crafting miniatures from scratch. Before that, it was book-binding, and even before that, leather-work. Just step away from the screen. Your downtime shouldn’t just mean switching to another tab.
  • I'm not one to preach the no-screen-time-before-bed rule. You do you. I sometimes catch myself scrolling through Reddit way past my bedtime. We all know it's not the greatest habit. What has helped me switch to reading at night is keeping my current book on my pillow.
  • Go schedule your annual checkups! Once a year, I take a moment to schedule all my checkups for the same week. I call it my medical week. I try to pack in multiple appointments each day—OB-GYN, ophthalmologist, dermatologist, dentist, internist, endocrinologist—you name it. Years ago, I even managed to squeeze five appointments into a single day.
  • Speaking of checkups, get your blood tested at least annually. I make it a point to get a full blood panel at least three times a year—even before my Hashimoto's diagnosis. I often show deficiencies in iron, vitamin D, and B vitamins, to name a few, and I like to adjust my daily vitamin intake accordingly.
  • And speaking of vitamins: Listen, if we're being honest, no one takes them daily. But try to stick to the 80:20 rule. Sure, some mornings I forget, or I just can't stomach anything other than my daily prescription meds. But I take them often enough to make sure my body gets everything it needs.
  • Find yourself a comfort show—especially if you're dealing with anxiety or bouts of depression. For me, it’s "The Good Place." Whenever I feel my mood starting to shift, I turn on that show and it makes me feel better—or at least somewhat safe.
  • Try out ingredient prep. If you're anything like me, you might have tried meal prepping, but it hasn't worked for you. I just don't wanna eat the same thing for days. What I've been doing is prepping multiple ingredients on Sunday. I chop all my veggies, wash all my fruit, and whip up a few different dressings. I also like to cook a sheet pan of veggies, a grain, and a protein, which I can then mix and match into different meals throughout the week.
  • Have anything to add that makes your life easier and better? Let me know!
[ J – 005 ]

On Community & Being an Aunt

It's 4pm on a Friday. Spring has erupted in a riot of colours, and an ice cream craving washes over me. I pop over to my neighbour's door, where she's caught up in a meeting and her kids are stifled by boredom. Seizing the opportunity, I take them out for an ice cream treat. En route, a playful squabble erupts over who has the honour of holding Rufus’s leash. Today, they're treated to two scoops each instead of the usual one, because as an aunt I don't have to say no.

Upon our return, they dash into the community garden, mingling with other children from the building, their laughter melding with the afternoon air. I venture into another neighbour’s flat, where we settle into their garden, drinking coffee and soaking up the first sun of the year. Later that afternoon, one of the kids knocks on my door to play MarioKart.

On Saturday, my neighbours from the garden, kindly offer me a lift to the supermarket. Together, we navigate the aisles, turning the chore into an adventure. Amidst the shelves, their son spots a toy he's drawn to. And I say yes, because as an aunt I don't have to say no. And he has a birthday coming up anyway. Post-shopping, we collectively decide to share a meal. The kitchen comes alive as we prepare protein oat pancakes, and their son sneaks fruits off the counter to share with Rufus. The day unfolds with us spending all our hours together, a welcome respite for the parents, still hungover from the previous night's festivities. Seizing the opportunity to give them a break, I take their son out for a leisurely walk. Our journey leads us to a children's store, where he selects a detective set, his excitement barely containable. We walk past a shoe store and he sees ‘the coolest pair of sneakers in the world'. I knew he needs a new pair, so I buy it for him. Because as an aunt I don't have to say no.

We spend the afternoon in their garden. Rufus basks in the sun and chases the mouse that has claimed dominion over the space. We alternate between sips of coffee and lemonade, the day seamlessly transitioning into an evening where we come together to cook dinner. As we dine, bits and pieces of their meal are affectionately shared with Rufus. Their son declares me the best aunt on the planet, snuggling up beside me and Rufus—a significant leap from just a few weeks prior when he harboured fears of even touching the dog.

I return to my flat, a space that's become a repository of memories from all the children in my building whom I affectionately regard as my nieces and nephews. The front of my fridge is adorned with their artwork, inside there's always a cheese string or two, ready for when hunger strikes them. And nestled between the cushions of my couch, I find the occasional leftover snack package or two. Each detail serves as a testament to the unexpected family I've found within these walls.

On Sunday, I wake up and meet up with another neighbour and her dog. We venture to the dog park together, letting our pups run free while we catch up.  Later, I find solace in a quiet lunch, accompanied only by the pages of a book, before the day transitions into an afternoon of coffee and conversation with yet another neighbour. Then, a text message arrives, an invitation from the garden neighbours, asking if I'd like to join them for a walk.

Despite never having been much of a people person, nor leaning towards extroversion, the discovery of this apartment building and the community within it has filled me with gratitude. On days when the shadow of depression looms near, I find solace and distraction within this network of support. Watching over their children, entrusting my dog to their care in my absence, spending sunny weekends together, the communal act of cooking and sharing meals, forges a bond that transcends mere neighbourliness.

[ J – 004 ]

On the Arrival of Spring

I have a love-hate relationship with spring. As the final days of winter wane, I find myself yearning for its arrival, eager for the promise of renewal and warmth. Yet, the moment spring blossoms, it also heralds the impending approach of summer—a season I view with a sense of dread. The very essence of spring, with its fleeting beauty, becomes a poignant reminder that the swelter and discomfort of summer are just around the corner, tainting my enjoyment of spring's fleeting charm. And yet, here I am, basking in the gentle embrace of the sun's warm rays, cocooned in my winter coat and scarf, cradling a strong cuppa tea. Around me, the world is slowly awakening, and Rufus, ever the embodiment of joy and curiosity, dashes about, chasing the first butterflies of the season.

[ J 003 ]

On Sharing Online

In the twilight of the '90s, my foray into blogging began. Barely brushing against adolescence, I navigated an internet that was the digital equivalent of the wild wild west. My days were spent weaving through chatrooms and forums, swapping Geocities links, and exchanging MSN chat IDs. My personal website wasn't just a digital scrapbook; it was a canvas for experimenting with my first lines of code – an iframe here, a splash of colourful scrollbar there. Our conversations unfolded in lengthy guestbook entries, in hotmail email exchanges, and in the quick-fire exchanges of ICQ chats. Amidst the dial-up connections and the static of the modem, the world expanded and contracted simultaneously. I was catapulted into a virtual cosmos, discovering the intricacies of lives sprawled across the globe. In this expansive yet intimate digital landscape, I, a peculiar outsider with idiosyncrasies, found not just a niche but a community—a belonging.

The digital landscape evolved gradually, ushering in the era of Myspace, which broadened my horizons beyond my immediate circle. In the German-speaking regions, platforms like Uboot and Studi.vz emerged, fostering connections within more intimate circles and bridging friendships. This new era marked the beginning of countless connections; I met hundreds of individuals. The adventure took me on train rides to unknown cities and across town to meet-ups. My communication expanded from writing emails and letters to conversing with many over Skype. It was glorious.

The internet once harboured the essence of a communal gathering spot, a digital agora where minds met and ideas flowed freely. Yet, as time unfurled, this space transformed, increasingly feeling like an endless stream of advertisements. Every interaction, every corner of this vast network, now seems tinged with the ulterior motive of promotion—be it a product, a personal brand, or the latest sponsorship deal. The authentic spirit that once animated its corridors appears to have vacated, leaving behind a landscape where genuine connection and unfiltered expression seem relics of a bygone era.

Don't get me wrong here, I am not condemning the age of influencers as a whole, I've navigated that realm myself, back when amassing ten thousand followers was deemed a significant achievement. However, as the influencer landscape matured, the onslaught of corporate interest became overwhelming. Before I stepped back from the influencer life, there was a month I found myself inundated with over thirty PR packages—a figure that, by today's standards, may seem modest, but was considerable at the time. Among these was a memorable shipment of dairy-based energy drinks, the taste of which could only be likened to that of rotten feet.

Sharing my life online transitioned from an impulsive act to a calculated strategy, to what seemed like a boundless audience.

Over time, I became reluctant to share the small things of daily life, acutely conscious of the real-world implications of online visibility. Engagements on platforms like Twitter, especially on contentious issues such as sexism and reproductive rights, often spiralled into prolonged periods of harassment. Furthermore, my involvement with refugee aid in 2015 inadvertently placed me on the radar of neo-Nazi groups, leading to my name appearing on multiple watchlists. This evolution in sharing—or the lack thereof—reflected a growing awareness of the complexities and risks inherent in living a life online.

The transition of Twitter's ownership served as the catalyst for my departure from the platform, prompting a retreat to the seemingly safer confines of Instagram. Despite this shift, a palpable sense of loss lingered—the absence of a space to share the tapestry of my life, from the nuances of my creative process to the milestones of my work and the depth of my thoughts. This longing underscored the complex relationship I have with social media: a balancing act between seeking connection and safeguarding my peace.

So here I am, embarking on a journey to craft a website that again resonates as a modern-day scrapbook of my existence. The distinctions between work and personal life, once meticulously maintained, have blurred into irrelevance. This space is dedicated to everything I am not just willing but eager to share—a curated collection of moments, thoughts, and creations that together weave the narrative of my life. In this digital haven, I reclaim the joy of sharing, unhindered by the constraints and concerns that once governed my online presence.

What's the latest addition, you ask? I'm rolling out a /now page, a concept I plan to refresh monthly—a dedicated corner for the trivia of daily existence, achievements, discoveries, favourites, and beyond. For those not in the loop, the /now page movement was initiated by Derek Sivers as a means to communicate the ongoing chapters of one's life. This digital space serves as a direct line to what's presently capturing my attention, engaging my thoughts, and influencing my days, inviting you into the continuous narrative of my journey.

In addition to this, I've set myself a new challenge: to undertake a 365-day drawing journey. Drawing used to be a constant in my life, but over the past decade, it became sporadic. There were months where I didn't draw at all, followed by weeks of frenzied late-night sketching sessions. Now, I'm challenging myself to draw every day, seeking beauty in the mundane moments of life.

Furthermore, I've begun compiling resources to share, starting with a collection of type foundries. This is just the beginning, with plans to expand into a broader array of materials. My website is evolving into not just a personal archive but a hub of inspiration and shared knowledge.

[ J 002 ]

On Reading

In 2023, I found myself fully embracing literature again. My aspirations were simple: to surrender to the allure of any book that whispered to me, immersing myself in the pleasure of reading, seeking a sanctuary where the cacophony of my mind could be silenced.‍

Here's the crux of it: I used to read all the time – whether nestled in bed with a steaming cuppa tea, amidst the hum of the subway, or lingering in cafes and eateries while awaiting companions. Books were my refuge, a sanctuary where my mind could both rest and roam freely. They were, unequivocally, my first and enduring love.

I've always been a voracious reader, though there were periods where I barely touched a book. Life's busyness or other interests would occasionally take precedence. Still, there wasn't a year that passed without me devouring at least a dozen books.

Then, I stumbled into a relationship that drained me of vitality, time, and, tragically, my sanity. It wasn't just reading that fell by the wayside; it was any semblance of joy. He usurped everything, leaving no room for solitude or personal pursuits. Even when miles apart, his grip remained tight, tethering me to the phone incessantly. And when he slept, oceans away, I found no solace in other activities. Exhaustion became my constant companion. But that's a tale for another time.

For nearly two years, I abandoned books, leaving an aching void in my soul. Yet, upon breaking free and rediscovering myself, I slowly rekindled my affair with literature. And read I did. Over the span of 14 months, I devoured 74 books. Therapy and heartfelt conversations with friends certainly played their part, but it was burying myself in books that truly led me back to myself.

In short: Take a plunge into the 57 books I devoured last year. And as an added treat – and with a hint of uncertainty regarding EU fair use laws – I even illustrated all their covers.

[ J 001 ]

Hello Again!

It's been some time since I've set pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keys.

Once, the ink flowed freely, weaving tales across the crisp pages of journals, the margins of novels, even the transient fabric of napkins, each surface a canvas for the words that danced within me. Until I found myself in a peculiar state of absence from the act of writing. My thoughts, once so vivid and urgent, now tangled in the labyrinth of my mind, too elusive for my hands to grasp, too chaotic to immortalise upon the page. Even when words dared to surface, there was no place online for their expression. The once-familiar avenues of Twitter felt increasingly discordant, while the relics of old blogs had long since faded into the digital ether, leaving me adrift in a sea of silence.

And so, here I find myself once more, nestled in a new digital sanctuary, a place suspended between the realms of labour and leisure. Here, amidst the ebb and flow of current projects and personal musings, I endeavour to carve out a space for myself. Whether this corner of the internet becomes a regular haunt remains uncertain, a question marked by the whims of inspiration and the demands of the everyday. Yet, in this virtual haven, I seek refuge from the constraints of obligation, embracing the freedom to chronicle the minutiae of daily life, the fragments of nocturnal reflection, and the snapshots of my creative journey.