Poetizing Life

When I read the expression “to poetize life” it instinctively appealed to me, even though I wasn’t really sure what it meant. Checking up the expression I learned that to poetize life means to “bring beauty and love to man, to make life poetic”. Well, that is exactly what I strive for in life. ☺
To poetize life doesn’t necessarily mean to write poetry. To read it, however, already is a great start, if it appeals to you. Since I picked up reading poetry again I have noticed the difference poetry makes in my life. Reading my favourite poets (Pablo Neruda, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi, and Hermann Hesse to name a few) and discovering new ones (Mary Oliver, Robert Frost , Edna St. Vincent Millay) sharpens my senses and brings me closer to feelings and sensations. It opens me up to connections, surprising insights, and to other people’s struggles and pleasures.
Nobody wants to live life along a uniform, grey track, shielding off from what could move him or her. We all want to live life to the fullest. I find “poetizing” it is a good way. It helps me to live with all senses wide open, taking in the way the sunrise colours the mountaintops with a warm pink, the sound of bleating sheep, the presence of an upset friend, a gush of wind in my face – or whatever life brings my way.
The prerequisite for a poetized life is to be relaxed and open, and to slow down your pace; not an easy thing to practice in our rush-around society. At a slower pace we are much more open for the beauty and wonders in our world. This is my little list on how I
poetize my life:

• Read poetry
• Write poetry (I work with haikus)
• Spend time in nature (hiking or working in the garden)
• Meditate
• Look for beauty everywhere: in nature, in art, among the people you meet
• Note what moves you during your day in a Poetic Notebook. Enjoy the notes in the evening, grateful for what any “ordinary day” brings you
• Write beautiful cards (preferably home-made) to friends
• …perhaps you have any nice idea?

What it all comes down to is to experience and get connected with the beauty in life, to consciously enjoy it – and to pass it on to others. To poetize life is to live it fully. Like Edgar Morin put it: “Living prose is only surviving. To really live is to live poetically.”

Let’s walk into another lovely day! (Thank you, @rumi_poetry)

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At Home Outdoors/Draußen zuhause

When I was a little girl there was a period when my mother had to make me go outside.
I just wanted to remain in the house, being a bookworm already then. There were not
many kids nearby that I liked to play with, and I didn’t really know what to do out
there on my own. Often I spent this enforced time outside on the swing in our garden….
Since then my attitude to outdoor life has changed radically, especially since I
discovered hiking and moved to the Swiss Alps. Here, spending time outside is the
rule and not the exception, at least during spring and summer. I adore my long hikes
with pick nick, photography and flower studies or working a whole day in my garden,
cleaning it up and taking care of flowers, herbs and vegetables.
Even during autumn and winter I go outside for hours, hiking or show-shoeing. Sometimes these winter tours seem even more precious since they’re so urgently
needed: the feeling of getting sun on my pineal gland in December is just wonderful.
The positive effects of an intense outdoor life are manifold:
• You use lots of physical energy and always have a healthy appetite. That is one of my favourite effect, since I also adore cooking and eating ☺
• You most often sleep well at night, since your body has had the possibility to make a real effort and get pleasantly physically tired.
• You get a good complexion, since you always get enough fresh air and sun. Of course it’s crucial to protect the skin against too much sun, but luckily I have found an excellent, organic sun shield (Solar 7 by Soglio).
• When hiking you “walk off” any concerns and worries or other things that may burden your mind. Your thoughts fall into place and you can see clearly again. As the old
Romans so nicely put it: “Solvitur ambulando”, solved by a good walk. You can also practice walking meditation, a wonderful way to nourish your soul, make you
peaceful and happy.
• You nourish my need for beauty every day, spending much time in nature. There are so many wonderful things to see along your path: from the small details (a rock, a flower, some lichen), to the grandiose views over the mountains. All this fills your soul with
deep happiness and a feeling of peace and belonging.
• Spending time in nature will inspire you. I get ideas for little haikus, for blog posts
or small DIY projects.
• Last but not least, during the warm seasons there is the great pleasure of enjoying the effects of my garden work! Because my soil is filled with mountain rocks and rain is
scarce here plants take a long time to grow and develop, but sometimes flowers thrive at unexpected places and I have wonderful surprises in the veggie garden.
I know I am privileged being able to spend so much time in the fresh air in such a beautiful area. Working full-time at an office obviously makes this kind of life-style much harder. However, if you try to go outside on your lunch break and make at least half an hour evening walk every day, you will already be surprised by all the positive effects!

Enjoying outdoor life

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Profuse Pumpkin Period

Even if we don’t celebrate Halloween up here in the Swiss Alps, we’re still in the middle of the pumpkin period. A kind neighbour, more successful in growing these gorgeous fruits than me, gave me a big specimen and I tried out several nice recipes I found a new variety of my beloved pumpkin soup, made a tasty stew with lentils and cocoa cream – and this beautiful jam.
This is the kind of jam that I like – with a luminous colour and a sweet, tangy and a little bit spicy flavour. As the Swede that I am I sometimes eat my sandwiches with cheese and jam, and this one pairs perfectly with a mild and creamy cheese.
It takes some time to cook, but it’s worth every minute you invest!

Pumpkin Jam With Ginger
1 kg pumpkin
2dl water
1 organic lemon – the zest and the juice of it
30 g fresh ginger
6 dl jam sugar

Peel the pumpkin, remove its seeds, and cut it into 2 x 2 cm cubes.
Peel and grate the ginger.
Grate the zest off the lemon and press out its juice
Put water, pumpkin cubes, grated ginger, lemon zest and juice in a big casserole and bring it all to a boil.
Add the sugar and boil it until the pumpkin is thoroughly cooked and starts to disintegrate (30 – 40 min.).
Rinse jam jars with boiling water, fill them with the hot jam, close them immediately and turn them upside down to cool off.

I love becoming creative in the kitchen with what the season (and a generous neighbour) has to offer! Don’t you?

Always a welcome gift, too 🙂

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Be There for the Elderly

It is now been 8 months since my mother passed away. At the age of 89 the day she left us did not come as a surprise, but of course it was still a great loss. Apart from being the mother of my brothers and me and the favourite “Oma” of all her grandchildren, she was an amazingly positive and inspiring woman, who left a void that will always remain. Living far away from her my visits weren’t as frequent as I would have wanted, but I did what I could to keep in touch: daily telephone calls as long as that was possible, and later I wrote letters and postcards to her.
All around me, members of the older generation leave one by one, and that reminds me of how important it is to care for the elderly, be they close family members or people I meet where I live. As so often in small villages, the average age here in Mase is quite high: several of my friends and acquaintances could almost be my parents. I highly enjoy their company, the peace they emanate, their broad knowledge and, yes, their wisdom. Spending time with my older friends helps me to slow down and be patient and I am always grateful for being reminded about that.
I am well aware that the older people are, the more you need to seize the occasion to spend time with them or simply to let them know that you think of them, so I grab each occasion. If I’m not in a hurry to catch the bus I always stop for a chat when I meet my elderly friends in the street or in the grocery store and returning from my hikes I sometimes do surprise visits to them. At first they might be embarrassed by not having cleaned up their living room or showing up in an old sweater, but once they realise that I couldn’t care less about such things, they’re always happy to have some company and someone to talk to about their worries or problems or to simply share a cup of coffee with.
I’m not much of a “telephone person”; instead I’ve decided to write at least two cards or letters per week, one of them to an elderly person. It’s not just because I look forward to receiving cards or letters in my own letterbox, but simply the pleasure of knowing that a little written greeting will make the receiver happy, especially if it’s an elderly person.
Make a list of all the elderly/lonely people you know and decide to call, write, or – best – visit one of them within the next two weeks. Perhaps you can even make it into a
recurring event?
Your reaching out will be very appreciated and you will make a real difference in their lives. As they will in yours ☺

Don’t wait too long to visit

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Sunny Mood on Rainy Days

All my life I have resisted any kind of dependency. Many years ago, just as an example, during a trip to India, I got a bad headache because I did not get my morning coffee. It made me realise that I was addicted to coffee and I immediately quit drinking it regularly.
The latest facet of needing something (to be a certain way) has been “weather dependency”. If the weather was grey and rainy I often got into a grey mood. So I asked myself: how can I avoid being dragged down by “bad” weather? How can I be happy despite compact grey skies, heavy rainfall or any kind of unwanted weather?
First of all I’ve trained in not wanting or rejecting any weather. Unfortunately not yet translated into English, Dominique Loreau’s book “Aimer la pluie, aimer la vie” (“Love Rain, Love Life”) has been an inspiring guide along the way. The author is fascinated by rain and she has listed literary texts, poems, haikus, and music that have accompanied her through different kinds of rain. She shows how loving rain can change your perception of the world and open you up to accepting whatever life brings. A small quote: “In rainy weather, the intimate contact with nature reminds us of this truth: every phenomenon is transient and in constant change.”
I also worked out some strategies to remain in a sunny mood on rainy days:

Visualise the sun behind the clouds. I close my eyes and feel its light and warmth inside, and how it still nourishes me despite the thick clouds.
Learn to see the beauty in the kind of weather I instinctively rejected. Even if I have to push myself, I dress up appropriately, grab an umbrella and go for a long walk. Soft shades of grey move like fairy mist and little raindrops glitter like pearls on flowers and leaves. The smell of rain on warm asphalt makes me close my eyes and smile. I thoroughly enjoy the freshness of the humid air, breathe it deep into my lungs and return home full of vitality and joy!
Feel the happiness of vegetation. I go out into my garden (if you don’t have access to one, go to the nearest plant in your street or local park) to see and feel how the vegetation thrives, knowing that rain is just what it needs to grow strong and beautiful.
Write a happy card to an elderly person or a child. I put all my love, care and positivism into it, writing a kind or funny message, perhaps even with a beautiful poem or quote about rain. It makes me happy to know that it will spread joy to the receiver.
Pamper myself with Rainy Day Pleasures. Perhaps I’ll have a fragrant tea in my finest cup, light my favourite incense, wrap myself up in the softest shawl I own and read a good book, or diligently do time-consuming things like cleaning up photos from my cell phone and computer, sorting out clothes I no longer use or even clean out and organise the book shelf or spice rack.
Make special plans for the next sunny day. Once the sun is out again, we shouldn’t just take it for granted, but consciously enjoy it. I might plan to take somebody out for hike (or a bicycle ride), to have a glass of wine at the restaurant’s terrace, or to prepare a lovely lunch salad and have a picnic.
Prepare a favourite meal. I have made a list of easy, favourite meals, fulfilling and tasty, that make me happy inside out. Lentils with apricots, Avocado pasta, a fragrant soup, and of course, the famous and oh, so delicious Banana Bread.

Do you have any specific strategies for turning “bad weather, bad mood” into “whatever weather, good mood”? I’d love to hear about them and perhaps even add them to my list!

Grey drizzle in Mase

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Crispy Crunchy Knäckebröd

Some weeks ago I blogged about this season’s favourite soup and I think a soup needs to be accompanied by some nice bread. Most often I serve my beloved sour-dough bread, but a homemade crisp bread is also an appreciated alternative.
This recipe comes from a good friend back in Sweden, home of the knäckebröd , and every time I bake it, it disappears in no time since it’s also great as a healthy snack in the evening.
This crisp bread has a wonderful taste of corn and seeds and it is a favourite of mine since it’s also really simple to do. The hardest part is flattening it out, because the thinner you make it, the crunchier and yummier it becomes. I use a soft dough-scraper for the perfect finish!

Corn Crisp bread

1 dl sunflower seeds
½ dl sesame seeds
½ dl linseed
> 1 Tsp salt
(plus other spices, e.g. turmeric, fenugreek, nigella…)
2 dl corn flour (chickpea or buckwheat flour work well too, but give a different taste)
½ dl sunflower oil
1 ½ dl boiling water

Preheat oven to 150°
Mix all the dry ingredients
Pour over oil and boiling water
Form a dough
Flatten the dough out on parchment paper with a soft dough-scraper
Bake 30-45 min – or until golden

When cooled off your whole house will be filled with crunching sounds and the smell of happiness!

*Crunch crunch!*

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Flower Power

Flowers makes us happy and I think even clothes with flower prints spread jollity. They are not serious or elegant, but they manifest a joy of living! Flower prints might be regarded as a little ridiculous by those who want to be cool, but to me they feel happy, relaxed and show that you have a positive outlook on life. Wearing plain black might be practical and chic, but to me it does have a “mourning” touch, and it is quite harsh against lighter complexions.
I like all kinds of colourful and happy prints, but as a fervent amateur botanist I find that flower prints are a wonderful expression of nature and poetry, carried along in big cities and other not very “natural” places. Seeing somebody with a colourful flower print shirt always makes me smile. Why? Perhaps because flowers are like the stars of earth: their beauty just makes them (and us!) shine. Flower prints remind me of somebody sweet and delicate from my childhood, somebody who is long gone. Perhaps they makes me smile because the person in flower print clothes dares to stand out and takes the risk of being regarded as a bit cheesy or frumpish. Such a person openly displays his or her love of flowers and nature, doesn’t take herself all too seriously and reveals a little playfulness. Life might be heavy and grey, but we can still do our best to spread some lightness and joie de vivre around!
After years of dressing far too seriously to fit into the corporate world, I am now the happy owner of two pairs of flower print trousers (one for spring, one for autumn), a skirt and two shirts. They are still quite discreet and not strikingly colourful, but they are a good start on my way into Flower Power Land!
Do you – man or woman – have any clothes with a flower print, at least a scarf or a tie…? Wear it tomorrow and feel how it lifts up your spirits!

Slipping into this shirt always makes me happy!

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Your Health is Your Capital

Luckily we do not know what the future has in store for us. Despite a healthy lifestyle we might fall seriously ill tomorrow or have a severe accident next month, and there’s nothing we can do about that.
What you CAN do is to treat your body (and mind) well on a day-to-day basis. That still has the greatest impact on your health. Nowadays a “healthy lifestyle” has become a full-time occupation for many – almost a kind of tyranny – but you can keep things simple and stick to a few basic rules:
EAT WELL – Eat when you’re hungry, and in portions that are adapted to you size and lifestyle. You are what you eat; best choice is pure products (as little ready-made as possible), locally sourced. Refuse to buy products that have travelled across the globe, e.g. apples from New Zealand (unless you live there)! Avoid white wheat flour and sugar as far as possible, and watch out with the meat…
MOVE A LOT – Make it a habit to do morning exercises (prepare a little program, adapted to your personal needs, e.g. a weak back). Spend time outside! Whenever possible, walk or bike instead of taking the car or bus and eat your lunch in the nearest park as soon as weather allows it.
SLEEP ENOUGH – To have a good sleep you need to move your body and get physically tired. A simple evening walk after dinner can do the trick. Good sleeping habits are key: regular times for going to bed at night and getting up in the morning. Avoid screen watching (TV, computer or cell phone) directly before going to sleep. Constant lack of sleep is a big threat to good health.
MIND MATTERS – Meditation might sound difficult or boring, but you can start small: try five minutes per day, sitting on a chair, concentrating on the sensation of air entering and leaving your body through your nose. Walking meditation is an excellent alternative for the restless 😉
DO WHAT YOU LOVE – Working full-time leaves little time to do what we love (best case scenario: your work is what you love most!). Still, try to find at least one hour or two a week to paint, build ship models, work in your garden, play with you children, knit or play the accordion – simply indulging in a hobby. Your soul needs it.
And last, but not least:
BE HAPPY! – Don’t take life –or yourself – too seriously. Bad things happen, but they should not define us. Don’t dwell on the negative things people say or do. Smile as soon as you catch yourself with a serious face and spread happiness around with small,
friendly gestures.

I feel that certain parts of the body need extra care, and these details I find
especially important:

TEETH – Bad teeth have many unpleasant side effects (infections, stomach problems, bad breath, and difficulties to eat) Apart from standard oral health (brushing teeth and flossing them) oil pulling is a great thing to do. It takes 20 min each morning, but you can prepare your breakfast or lunchbox at the same time. After practicing oil-pulling for some years I only need to visit the dentist once a year for a regular check-up, and she always praises my oral status.
FEET – Even if you don’t believe in reflexology, standing or walking on your feet for hours each day already implies the importance of taking good care of them. After washing my feet in the evening, I give them a through massage with some nice, perfumed oil (lavender, rosemary or peppermint). It makes such a difference for tired feed and for the general well-being! Check out trigger points for different parts of your body here.
SKIN – Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it deserves some extra care. Once a week I do a proper dry brush, from head to toe, and I try to use as clean products as possible for its care: almond, coconut or sesame oil, good quality aroma oil, shea butter and beeswax, and I do my own creams (blog post will follow!) but a good quality ecologic cream with as few ingredients as possible is fine too. Remember: much of what you put on your skin actually enters your bloodstream, and you don’t want nasty chemicals and E-numbers that are found in most ready-made products in your body!

Mens sana in corpore sano

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Different Places, Same Life

A couple of times per year I leave my mountain paradise to visit family and friends in different cities across Europe. I am always quite excited about these trips; first of all because I’ve been missing my loved ones so much, and secondly because the hustle and bustle of city life can be stimulating. I do love my simple, monastic life up in the mountains, but at times it is nice with a little more “action”.
In the beginning when I dressed up for civilization I seemed to switch over to a different mode: faster, more impatient, and less conscious. I fell back into old habits, but I also tried to adapt to the different pace. When I returned home I had to adapt back and that often threw me off track.
It became clear to me that even when I go to a city I must not return to “city mode”, but I can remain in my own slower modus vivendi. Today, when I go to a city I will make an effort not to fall back into the old habit of rushing around. I actually can move more slowly and consciously through a crowd without bothering anybody and I can relax in long queues and patiently wait for my turn, taking the time to observe the variety of people I find so fascinating.
I have learned to remain in full awareness despite a hectic rhythm around me. In my slower, smiling mode I am able to enjoy the surprising people, colours, smells and shapes that I come across. Relaxed I stand in the crowd, trying to catch people’s eye or waving at little children, and I feel immensely grateful for having quit the rat race and for living at a more down to earth pace.
When you slow down you notice how rich and multi-faceted life is, how much you can experience and learn from everything and everybody around you. You just have to stop running around like a crazy chicken and instead take your time to really be with what you encounter in your life.

One of my favourite cities – Santiago de Chile

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Soup Season

Even this year’s amazing summer came to an end; autumn has arrived bringing chillier mornings and beautiful shades of yellow and red replacing the variations of green. With some regret I’ve had to switch summer’s eternal shorts to trousers, and dig out the
woollen cardigans.
It’s not that I don’t like autumn – I actually adore it! After the intense summer months there is a certain calm about this season and up here it is just incredibly beautiful. Crisp skies and vibrant colours make it easy to cope with cooler temperatures and more rain. I just have to adjust and pack away my summer habits until next year. Fresh salads and frizzy rosé wine enjoyed in the shade of the trees in my garden have been replaced with warm soups and hearty red wine inside the house, next to the fire.
I am an absolute soup fanatic, and have gathered a large amount of fabulous soup recipes throughout the years, but I’m always up for trying something new. From one of my favourite chefs, the talented Valentina (@vdepertis on Instagram) I recently got this recipe, and it just has it all: it’s uncomplicated, involves standard ingredients, and is quick & easy to prepare. On top of that this fragrant soup has the most wonderful taste of an autumn day in the woods and is very fulfilling. Here’s this autumn’s Big Soup Hit:

Mushroom and Chickpea Soup
Serves four
1 can of chickpeas (400g)
30 g dried mushrooms
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, pressed
2 branches of stalk celery, finely chopped
½ Tsp. chili powder
1 Tsp. dried thyme
1 Tsp. sugar
9 dl water
1 dl cream
2 cubes of stock / 2 Tbsp. of stock powder
Mash the chickpeas with a fork or mix them roughly with a hand blender and put them in a bowl.
Crush the dried mushrooms roughly between your hands and add them to the chickpeas.
Heat oil in a pan. Fry onion, garlic and celery.
Add chili powder, thyme, and sugar and let it sizzle for a moment.
Add the mashed chickpeas and mushrooms, water, cream and the stock powder into the pan. Let it all simmer for 30 min., stirring now and then to avoid sticking.
Serve with some chopped parsley (or other herbs of your fancy) and a nice sour dough bread.
Enjoy your trip to Soup Heaven!

My ticket to Soup Heaven

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