OCTOBER RAIN

‘Mens sana in corpore sana.’
(sound mind in a strong body)
Ryan Holiday, ‘The Obstacle is the Way.’

It’s October. As much as I love fall, the comfort of candles and the brown and orange leaves falling off the trees, it’s also a time when the light outside vastly disappears and winter gets ready to set in. From my observation quite a lot of my peers are falling under the pressure of the birds declaring their exit, and the rain endlessly pouring down.
I can take all the vitamin D in the world, attempt to drink excessive amounts of tea and dope myself with the endorphins from 80% dark chocolate, but it still doesn’t disown the fact that the weather is getting colder and minds seem to fog up with equal despair. In a sense it seems that everybody around me is looking over their shoulder for a break.
For the past half year I’ve consistently used the meditation app called ‘Headspace’ each day before leaving my house. It’s the first meditational practice that I am actually enjoying and are capable of consistently sticking to. Surely, this practice provides a helping hand, as life gets sucked out of the world and the people alike. Yet, it still doesn’t cut it. At the moment it appears my stress levels are through the roof and every emotion in life are near mediocre. Colors looses their brightness and flavors becomes a bit stale.
That’s winter for you. As depressing as this might sound, I find that this season brings a wonderful contrast to life.

Here is what I encourage you to do: Sit down and write a list of all the things that truly brings gratitude to your life. Everything you do on a regular basis. The relationships that makes it all worth it. The laughter and glimpses of unexpected, delightful joy. Your dog greeting you in the door when you come home. Personal achievements at work, or in school.
Maybe you don’t particularly enjoy going into work on a Monday morning, but does the process and learning experience bring an over-all satisfaction to your existence? If it fundamentally doesn’t, if you can’t write it down as something you are grateful for, then maybe it’s time to reconsider your choices. If your a runner, maybe it’s hard to get out the door, but in the full spectrum, does this practice bring a greater sense of peace and prosperity, or should you maybe take up boxing or playing an instrument in it’s place?
Personally, I don’t always love training legs, however the gym is where my life derives huge amounts of meaning. It’s my flow, so screw the feelings I have in the moment. I know that it is part of the silver lining of my long term goals and happiness. 
Chemistry class can be frustrating no doubt, but it’s part of the journey I’m on. So at the end of the day, I know it makes sense to show up. Even when I’m not feeling it. It’s hard, but I’m grateful for it.

A bit of hurting hasn’t ever killed me. Emotions can be a difficult to conquer, but they brings attention to the genuine gratitude for the things in life that matter. When I am displeased with my current situation, it forces me to seek out change, reflection and a revisited path to happiness.
Fall is a season that makes me reflect on my why’s. If there are things that are truly unbearable, this is a time when I’ll quit what isn’t truly right for me. If New Years is for renewal, and spring is for cleaning, maybe October should be a month set aside for reflection, gratitude and prioritizing.
Realize, that you only have so much time and energy to go around. Your time is crazy valuable, maybe the most valuable thing you got, so invest it wisely and with ease.
I know I need to, because there simply isn’t enough time nor energy to go around to all the things that are mediocre forces in my life. It’s okay to be picky and it’s okay to say no, when something is standing in your way.

Freja Blay.
(Rainy) Aarhus, Denmark.
October 9th, 2017

ONE.

“My best stories, aren’t always my best experiences.”
-Freja Blay.

August 28th. Auuuuuugust twenty-eight.

Well, here goes nothing.
Four years ago to this date, I found myself on a downward spiral, entering a dark pit of self-destruction. It all lit up, about the time when I was eighteen years old and only took me 6 months, to follow in my fathers footsteps and become a first-class, full-blown, raging, alcoholic with a equally terrorising eating disorder. Long story short within a year or two, I was on a path which was at the edge of killing me. Substance abuse and anorexia nervosa was the main curse, but wasn’t limited to those factors solely.
It took me from 2010 and until 2013 to find my way out of this haze again. In retrospect, it may not seem like a particularly long time, but it was a long time to be living in hell. My doctor told me that I had 6 months left to live, until my liver would give out. My situation had officially turned from bad, to a matter of life and death. 
Of cause at the time I didn’t take these predictions particularly personal. My addictions all seemed like a screwed yet functional escape plan, was all else to fail. I didn’t have a death-wish, but neither did I have a life-wish.

It’s a very long story.
It’s a story that brings me here today. August 28, 2017. Today with 4 fucking years of sobriety on my backbone. 4 years.
No shit sensei, it makes me sentimental.

Since August 2013 everything has changed. It’s cliché to point out that I am not the person that I used to be. Yet it would be difficult for me to find a truer cliché to be told. 
When I look back and consider the path that I’ve had to walk, sometimes crawl because of my inability to stand on my feet, I still don’t regret what I’ve had to encounter. A lot of things have happened in the process of bringing me to the place where I am today.
Which takes me to the sole point of this scribbling. My sobriety is the grounding for every right decision that I have made in the past 4 years. There has been missteps and fuck-ups. That’s life darling. Yet, this day sober is the precursor for everything that has gone right in my life. It would be correct to assume that it is, hands down, also the most important factor in my life. That hasn’t changed. And it won’t.

I am not perfect. My life isn’t perfect. My actions are screwed and, oh so not perfect at times. On the contrary everything is perfect, because there is only one thing that really matters at the end of the day. That is ONE.
One day.
One day who adds to another and before you know it I am sitting here:
Four years strong, in a body at my highest, most healthy weight ever. Confident as fuck, with a sobriety that allows me to live, write like a motherfucker and train like an athlete. That is something I won’t ever stop being grateful for.

Freja Blay.
August 28, 2017.
Aarhus, Denmark.

I AM A REMIX

“Everything is a remix, but what is your version of the remix?”
—CHASE JARVIS, From “Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss”

People in general are information processing machines. We consume excessive amounts of information on a day to day basis. The average person receives about 105.000 words, during the 12 period they are awake. This doesn’t include the information absorbed through interaction, nature, emotion, creativity, taste, news, audio-books, music, podcasts, live shows and social media. The list goes on and on. In total this adds up to an average of 34 gigabytes of information every single day!* Every waken moment, goes into processing data. It’s not a choice on our part, it’s in our DNA. It’s biology.

Growing up I was told that I was an original. An artistic child prodigy, destined for greatness. The next Picasso. Whatever I wanted to do, wherever I wanted to go; the world was my oyster. I was given the impression that the gold medal was pre-achieved. I just needed to decide what I wanted carved in the shiny blank golden surface. Nobody was like me and nobody would ever be as special and unique as I.

Looking back, this has me pondering that there is an error in that mindset. In fact, I am convinced that there is a mayor misconception about how we chose to define what is truly original and special. What this teaches young children is a screwed perception, that easily turns into a narcissistic view of the world. Truth be told these qualities are hard to shake when brought into adulthood. ‘The importance of me’ is not a good song to be singing to yourself.

I am a product of my experiences. All the information that goes into me, sub-or-continuously over time has developed me into ‘a remix’ of everything that makes me my own original self. This means that even my most original idea and treasured beliefs, usually are products of several pieces of information, that I have sown together like mental patchwork. The originality didn’t actually originate with me, but came as results of my environment, the books I read, people I associated with, and the lessons I learned along the way.

It is easy to conclude that I am a thinker. I am wise. After all, the thoughts that I voice may be something that is rarely spoken or heard. Consensus is that I must an original. Right?
To fall under the spell of thinking that I am solely my own and ‘self-made’ is easy. Even I have a tendency of forgetting, where an idea I’ve been pondering came from. Hence it becomes mine. A lot of times this is just not the truth. Most often the idea is ‘borrowed’.

What I find fascinating is how I recycle every piece of information I am given. The magic is connecting the dots. Turning everything into own my personal remix. This provides me with the chance to become a version of original the world has not yet encountered.

Freja Blay,
Aarhus, Denmark.
July 16th 2017

*Information consumption reference; http://www.tech21century.com/the-human-brain-is-loaded-daily-with-34-gb-of-information/

BOOK REVIEW: “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck

‘In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.’
-Carol S. Dweck

‘Mindset’ is a book based on the psychological principals, which picks apart differences between having ‘a fixed mindset’ and ‘a growing mindset’.

‘The fixed mindset’, essentially is the belief that our trades are ‘Fixed’. Our qualities as human beings are predestined and unable to be cultivated through learning. You are either a naturally talented singer; good at math; or a rising basketball-star and there is nothing you can do to change these traits. It’s genetic and gifted.

On the contrary ‘the growing mindset’ approaches learning with the attitude that ‘you’ll always have the ability to improve your skills through hard work and effort.’ This idea is groundbreaking in societies where it is easily acceptable truths, that ‘artistic skills’ are either something you are born with or not. The psychology of the growing mindset takes the incision that our brains and our abilities are plastic and have capacity to be nurtured and cultivated to growth.
With this approach we have infinite amounts of resource, as long as we put in time and effort to master the subject of our pursuit.

The books is filled with examples, experiences and exercises, that allows the reader to pick apart their own ways, to make a switch to the growing mindset.
The concepts of this book have completely changed my perspectives on the abilities i got, my work ethic and the approach I take to learning. This book may slaps you in the face [in the best way possible]. It was quite a matrix moment and probably the wakeup-call I needed, to pick up the torch and start taking responsibility for my studies. (This book might have saved my final exams.)

If you don’t have the means to buy the book, or don’t have the time to read it, I can highly recommend looking into ‘the growing mindset’ by checking out Carols TED talk, here,  or by listening to the podcast by Quest Nutrition, here. The talk provides a well-rounded idea of the concept, and was my first introduction to the topic. The time you take to read this book will be very well invested. The book have previously also been highly recommended in regards to parenting and coaching.

Freja Blay.
Aarhus, Denmark.
9th of June 2017

TIE ME UP

“I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living shit out of you.”
E.L. James, Fifty Shades Darker

Fifty Shades of Grey. Soft-core, cheesy porn-a-like.  The title almost comes with an eye-roll from most guys I know. The thing about Fifty Shades is that this isn’t a movie entitled to you blokes. It’s a romantic drama, induced with sex. It is meant to spike the mood, fantasy and sex-drive of the ladies. That’s it. The results? They speak for themselves;

Not only have Fifty Shades of Grey sold millions of books. In 2011 the annual sales for sex-toys grew by 111%. Overall, they’ve seen an impressive 50 percent year over year growth in annual sales.
If those facts aren’t convincing enough, then I don’t know what is.

What you have to realize is that females ain’t got the same biological compounds in our brains as you. Traditional porn, for the most part, has zero effect on the average chick whatsoever. We need different things than you. Fifty Shades of Grey is the kind of porn that speak to our biology.
Females are human emotional roller-coasters. We are raised in a society where we have been spoon-fed stories about princesses and true-love. To light us up like a Christmas tree, we need bit of a story-line. Sorry, but being chased naked through the woods just doesn’t cut it. Most of us just aren’t going to buy into your Violet Blue fantasy.

Let me paint a different picture, so that next time your girl suggests y’all watch Fifty Shades you wont be so quick to write it off and complain that; “Steven’s girl don’t mind watching Fast and Furious 8.” Think about it for a second. Do you think Steven is getting laid tonight? No. Because Steven’s girl is like every other girl. She might agree to watch Fast and Furious 8, but she’ll also be sound asleep 20 minutes into the movie.
Different things turn us on. So, however ridiculous this might sound to you, Fifty Shades of Grey are essentially our way of saying, ‘I want to be turned on.’ Have you ever understood the way of a girl’s mind before? My guess is no. Don’t start to dissect it now.

Fifty Shades allows girls to untie themselves sexually and mentally. This will ultimately be a win for you. The movie is a gateway for our imagination. As little girls we have been taught to ‘be good and play nice.’ This is our free-pass not to play so nice anymore. Fifty Shades invites us to imagine ourselves in a different role, without taking on the part of a porn-star.

Do you understand now why you shouldn’t hate on it? This fantasy isn’t meant for you. It’s not even meant for you to understand. Fifty Shades of Grey, is meant to turn on chicks. In the end, it will be a deal closer in the bedroom. Play nice when she suggests watching it, and you might just be the one to play the main part in the closing scene.

Okay? Okay.

Freja Blay.
Aarhus, Denmark.
30th of May 2017.

BOOK REVIEW “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich” by Timothy Ferriss

“The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is boredom.” –Timothy Ferriss

The influence we as humans have on each other, are unavoidable. This impact that extend far beyond physical interactions.  There are people, fictional or otherwise, who inspire and motivate me to change and see things from a different perspective. They can be viewed as temporary teachers. Exemplary, the author, have the mastery and power in his possession to influence others regardless of physical presence.

Timothy Ferriss is one of those people who have played such a role in my life. Tim is the author of ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’, ’The 4-Hour Body’, ’The 4-Hour Chef’ and most recently ‘Tools of Titans’. He is also the creator of the ever-popular podcast ‘The Tim Ferriss Show.’

First and foremost, the 4HWW is practical. It’s very easily to accumulate the information provided, and immediately put it to practical use. And. It. Works! This is the book, I can honestly NOT stop recommending to everyone. Feel deprived in life? Read the 4HWW. No money? Want to travel? Read the 4HWW. Problems with your grandma? READ IT.

The 4HWW have taken me from ‘being stuck in the daily maze of 9-5’ to living a life based on personal freedom, opportunities, and the ability to do MORE with my time. Most importantly? It has created mental space. The book gives a practical road-map to get ‘unstuck’ from what is ‘normal and expected’ in today’s society. It gives a foundation for putting a why in front of easily accepted truths, that surrounds us on a daily basis. 
One of the most important takeaways, was the ability to do things differently and allowing everything to be possible. The principals in this manual allows you to question everything you thought you knew, and swim against the stream. Even if just a few of the keys in this book is applied, the changes still have the ability to have life-changing impact. I didn’t have to start my own company to apply the necessary foundations otherwise mentioned in the literature and see a mayor changes in my life.

The 4HWW is my first review because it has been one of the biggest game changers, added to my life in years. It’s the one thing that really pushed me to taking a closer look at my fears, and actually getting on that airplane to Poland (ALONE). It was less than a month and a half after reading it, when I found myself 1000 kilometers away from home, feeling excited and proud of my newly found courage and freedom. This book helped expand my horizon and possibilities. It eliminates excuses that clutter life, mind and our ability to maximize the potential we got right in front of us. The potential to truly and freely happy. I suggest you give this book a go. Apply what is appropriate, and leave the rest for someone else. Honestly my life has become much more exiting and real since I picked up the 4HWW. Globe-trotting has become one of my new favorite activities. (Did I mention I’m leaving again next month after finals?)

Freja Blay,
Aarhus, Denmark.
2nd of May, 2017.

 

Auschwitz-Birkenau: My experience at a Death-Camp.

“Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.”
Viktor Frankl. “Man’s Search for Meaning.’


Note to reader: This is my personal experience at the German Concentration Camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau located in Oświęcim, Poland. An hour and a half’s drive from Krakow. (the country’s third largest city). My visit there is solely based on personal understanding and reflections. All opinions are grounded in my own experience at the death-camp. This post is not up for discussion nor disagreement. It is a very sensitive matter for me, as well as many others affected by this tragedy. If you are of another opinion, than my experience I only ask you respectably take it elsewhere, where such matters are more appropriate.

I woke up Tuesday morning. The weather had dropped from 68°F (20°C) the day before, to just above 50°F (10°C) over night. It was raining and grey outside. It wasn’t the sunshine and lovely temperatures that had met me upon my arrival, just days before. 
However, this was appropriate weather for visiting the concentration camps. I felt as if sadness and mourning literally hung in the air.

What happened in Oświęcim, Poland was one of the greatest tragedies in human history. This is undoubtable. This is what you should expect encountering if you decide to tour the Auschwitz death camps. Nothing less. This isn’t a museum, it’s a place where many suffered and were murdered. To this day, people nationwide still mourn this location and occurrence.

My visit to the memorial grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau didn’t hit me till later. When I was there I felt prepared and well-informed by Victor Frankl’s memoir, experience and suffering. In the days up to my departure for Krakow, I read his memoir ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. Victor was a Jewish holocaust survivor. He was held prisoner for three years in the German concentration camps, Auschwitz I and Birkenau II, included. So, I knew what I was getting myself into, before I even got on an airplane to Poland. I wasn’t chasing after this place, as a historic interest, I think that would be very disrespectful. For good reasons. The despair rooted in the place, is suffocating and unbearable at best.

It is seventy-four years since Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated, at the end of WWII. The polish government decided in the years following, to keep the two concentration camps intact as museum, memorial and as reminder of the past. It stands today, as it did seventy-four years ago. Auschwitz-Birkenau is the one of most well-preserved pieces of history, we have left from the war.


6 of these cans of gas was used to kill 2.000 victims at once.

Some of the camp were destroyed immediately after liberation. Four out of five gas-chambers were destroyed. Most war-pictures were burned or buried by the German government. Most is still left in good conditions and the remains of the death-camp is plenty horrifying to bring ever visiting soul to tears. 
There were rooms filled with shoes. Millions of pairs of shoes. Suitcases and belongings taken from war-victims, before they were sent directly to the gas-chambers and killed. Mothers and children, the weaker and unsuitable. 90% of all who entered the camp, was sent directly to be gassed upon arrival. The only Jewish children whom survived the gas chambers where the twins. They were subject of interest. The Germans preformed ’medical experiments’ on them, before they also were sent to be executed.
There were a rooms full of human hair. Tons and TONS of human hair. Some of it were carefully braided. Then it was cut off and collected, to make fabric for war uniforms for the Germans. This happened to every single arrival at the Nazi Camp. It was a very horrible sight, to say the least.


One of the destroyed gas-chambers at Birkenau II.

The most excruciating part of the experience, is knowing that well-over a million people were murdered in that exact location. Birkenau II is the latter portion of the camp build. It’s over twenty times bigger than the original Auschwitz I. They build it because Auschwitz I, just wasn’t big enough to hold and kill the war slaves. They needed bigger gas-chambers. The new gas-chambers they build in Birkenau II, could kill an estimated two-thousand people at once. They build four. These chambers were hardly ever empty. 
The ashes of the people killed where spread on the camp grounds, where they died. When you walk the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau, you walk directly on graves of over a million innocent victims of the Second World War. After liberation the whole place was basically human ashes.


The sorrow and memorial goes on to this day.

The feeling of despair and sorrow lived on the camp-grounds. This was also the feeling that stayed with me hours and days, after our tour was over. I felt cool and collected on the tour, but the aftermath of the shock lingered. These are things, that you can expect from a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. The polish still deeply mourns these grounds. I even encountered some, whom had never visited. The pain and the memory of the past had already made a permanent mark on their souls. They didn’t want to go. They didn’t need to.


If you are looking for a video footage of a visit to the campgrounds, I can highly recommend this one by Heidi Somers.  

I went to the camp with questions. Lots of questions. Questions of suffering. Questions about meaning. I came out of the experience broken, tearful and safe to say; with more questions than before I went in. I was not a pleasant experience, but I do believe that it was an extremely essential one. One that will help shape and form my perception on human life, mercy and love from now on. Yes, I came out of the experience with more questions than ever before. But these are new questions: Questions every human needs to ask themselves at one point or another. I also came out of the experience with a deeper appreciation for life. I came out of the experience with a deeper love for myself. The camps proved one thing to me: Every human being deserves love. We mourn over a million, whom were unrightfully murdered in cold blood. Yet most of us don’t know a single one of their souls, or have any personal connection to the history of the place. This is what binds us together as a human race. The love we have for one another. This gives me reason to forgive. Forgive those around me. Forgive myself. Ultimately learn to love. Because if thousands can love the unknown, I can love what is known. When I start to love myself, I can start to genuinely love you.

Freja Blay.
Frankfurt, Germany
13th of April 2017.