I CHOOSE ME

“People which decided simply to live their truth, even when doing so wasn’t simple.”
—Cheryl Strayed, “Tiny Beautiful Things”

My current writing process, looks a hella of a lot more like a marathon therapy session than anything else. Fun? Absolutely not. In fucking fact, it’s hard as hell. Usually it goes something like this. Every morning I wake up, take a shower. I then proceed to drink my coffee, while I read whichever book I am tearing into at the moment. Then spend half an hour on Headspace guided meditation, after which I sit down to write. Each session falls somewhere between half an hour, to an hour.
No, it sure as hell isn’t fun that fuels the engine. It is the necessity of getting it out of the way, so that I can move on to what it is that I really have to write. It is getting to the good shit. If I don’t ‘write it out’, I may never be able to get out of my own way, and deliver what I’m meant to, what I know that I got inside of me. Therefore the show goes on. Most day of the week is set up like this, because I have every intention of getting over this phase, as fast as the universe allows me to.

The rest of my focus are spend in the gym. Currently my coach predicts my training 3 weeks at a time. Honestly this kind of makes everything worse. That’s just the truth. I enjoy and get my release by lifting very heavy objects. So at this point submitting myself to the program that will ultimately produce the best long term results and hypertrophy on a bodybuilding stage, is in ways suffocating me. Most of the time I feel one of tree ways: 1. like smashing objects, 2. crying or 3. screaming into the face of vulnerable baby animals.

I don’t lift heavy to shape body in a certain way (at least I don’t anymore.) I used to do endless amounts of ‘accessory’ work to ensure that I was getting the full effect.
I stopped doing that when I realized that lifting heavy and constantly pushing myself beyond borders, was where I found the flow and peace that I had unknowingly been seeking my entire life.
It took a while to accept these truth or even understand it. In the moment I don’t think I knew just how much lifting meant to me. How much ‘me’ it was to be in the safe environment of the weights. When I switched to a new gym in ‘16, I also found my tribe. A group of people who understood what it felt like to be this kind of ‘different’.

The world doesn’t really understand it. It takes one look at girls with muscles and gets slightly unsettled. Voicing a cocktail of self-doubt and social ideals. It doesn’t know how to handle what is cultural unnatural. It might look fondly with approval on the round butt-cheeks, that our leg-training provides, but as soon as vascularity and upper body strength is mentioned, you’ll be told to be careful not to get too big. If in any case your looks should precede a muscularity of what is considered borderline acceptable, you’ll get a look like you have just insulted their mother or smacked a puppy. Girls aren’t suppose to be THAT strong. We should be fragile, petite and waiting to be saved from evil, evil dragons. ((Hah.))

The way I see it, there is just one problem in this scenario: My own, personal way of perceiving these opinions. These opinions have the least to do with me and my life choices. You make a strong statement or lifestyle choice and sure as shit Sherlock, people are going to bark. I think you’d would be surprised if I told how often I encounter critique about my looks and my weight. It is daily. I wouldn’t be lying if I estimated that my weight is debated among my peers, between 4 and 6 times a week. When I made the decision to start training heavy, it apparently also meant that I signed some invincible contract, making my personal life publicly debatable and appropriate to discuss at any given time. 
It was fucking weird getting used to, but for my own sake I had to get over it real fast.

I understand that this way of training, eating and living is strange, different and at times hard to understand. It isn’t the ideal way to live for most, and it isn’t something that most would desire in a million years. But living in this way, choosing this as my world, is my truth. To deny myself living this way, would ultimately be denying myself. Regardless of what others might be voicing as right or wrong, I have by choosing to refuse ‘the norm of ideals’, chosen me. I have decided to live my truth. Even when it isn’t simple. Even if it isn’t agreeable for most. Even if it means swimming against the stream.

This is what training is to me. Not an addition to living, but life itself. My survival. It isn’t me trying to optimize my body or change the way I look. It is my flow. The love I feel, when my heart starts pounding and how I came to find myself in ways I’d never imagined possible. When things got heavy.

Freja Blay,
26th of July, 2017.
Aarhus, Denmark.

PLAYING THE HAND YOU ARE DEALT

There are bullet-points in life. Points of pleasure and of heartbreak. In hindsight I believe that I have learned my greatest lessons from the latter. Occasionally it happens that they are a combination of both. In the moment the experience doesn’t feel particularly great, but in the long run it will set you up for success.

This is the case with sobriety. It doesn’t feel good the first months, but over time you slowly become more yourself than ever before.
Then there are specs of time, when it appears as if everything suddenly makes sense. You come to understand why this was the only way forward. The puzzle-pieces start to fit together perfectly.
Frankly there are still times, when things aren’t awesome, and by now I am nearly four years into this game. I don’t think life will ever be a constant bliss.
When you give up addiction, you got nowhere to run to. This tends to create descent amounts of anxiety and fear. It’s almost like the tax of being sober and alive; at a certain point life will start demanding that you face yourself. Continue drinking and it will end up very, very terribly. Running with my deficiencies is a luxury I can no longer afford. It would ultimately be the end of me. Professionals agree.

My father taught me this well. Maybe that is in part why I came to my senses, hit rock bottom or made a complete mess out of things, so early on in life.
I don’t think I am special in that way. I just have a tendency to latch onto ideas and beliefs, the belief in this case being that I have a genetic illness called alcoholism. Dad has it too. It’s nobody’s fault per-say. We don’t get to choose the hand we are dealt, but we are responsible of how we act and how we play the cards. These aren’t new ideas, but lessons I have learned from people with more experience than I.

Pleasure is lovely. There are moments in life that we should hold close to your hearts. Cherish.
But in the end I’ve been raised by pain. I understand that suffering teaches me lessons I can use and accumulate practically in life.

What person willingly makes their vacation out to Poland, to experience a 74-year-old concentration camp, in order to explore an existential inner crisis. It’s strange. Most would choose to lay on a beach. I guess am I different that way.

Okay? Okay.

Freja Blay,
Aarhus, Denmark.
4th of July 2017

The Ability to Improve

“For them it’s not about immediate perfection. It’s about learning something over time: confronting a challenge and making progress.”
-Carol Dweck. ‘Mindset.’

Moody. Annoyed with those around me. Short tempered in the morning. Self-centered. Purposely avoided talking to certain people. Left without saying goodbye. Cherry-picked who I had the energy to be nice to.  Expected people to move out of my way. Greed. Anger. Felt like the world ‘owed’ me. Had super focus on my exam studies, (which resulted in) being proud and boastful. Snapped, (at more than just one person.) Impatient. Self-seeking. Rude.

These are (unfortunate) realities of the past week in my life. I know that as a human being, forgiving myself for these flaws are the only way to move past them and improve. However here’s what I don’t do when hormonal imperfections seem to catch up with me.

I don’t chose to ignore them.

When inappropriate mood strikes, I am hyper-aware of my actions. I try to take an objective and observing  approach. This enables me to make changes and necessary improvements in the future.

I tread my emotional life as you would that of a child. I don’t yell, judge, make a scene or send the kid to their room. I sit down and reflect, and try to learn what could have been done differently. I try to draw conclusions on how I am going to approach situations, like this one, in the future.

Regardless of my wish to ALWAYS be humble, smiling, kind and perfect, I know it’s just not the reality of life. I am in a progress. The goal for me isn’t changing into some superhuman saint. The primary goal is the simple progression of learning. Love, kindness and social abilities are not something you wake up one day and just are. It isn’t a epiphany. It is skills you develop over time. Life throws you curb balls and you fall flat on your face? Then you get back up, and you might have a slightly different perspective than before. Everything you go through will serve as experience. Experience is practice, and practice will further your skills and development.

I’ve spend hours, upon hours, guilting myself because I didn’t live up to my personal expectations of love. Why didn’t / couldn’t I, just do it? This approach is the opposite of humility. Without practice the standard is ultimately unreachable.

How do you expect someone to become a varsity level player, before putting them through the basics training first? You don’t. To improve in sports, we practice. We fall down, we get up and we continue to practice. Then we practice some more, and even when we are great players, we keep showing up for practice.

These same principals count when we are in social surroundings. Personally, I find it very challenging to be in the midst of social situations. In sports there is predicted outcomes. To prepare for social situations are quite different. You can’t predict outcomes. I used to think that I was condemned to be a social moody misfit. I have come to believe that the reality is quite different. Social interaction and the love for my peers, are skills that can flourish over time, with practice and a fundamental nurture towards the small steps. Pause, reflect and chase improvement, that is the way of the growing mindset.

Freja Blay.
Aarhus, Denmark.
21st 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.

Next up: Krakow

‘I wanna go somewhere where nobody knows
I wanna know somewhere where nobody goes’
-Miranda Lambert, Highway Vagabond.


[Krakow, Poland]

About a year ago, I was chatting to my, at the time, hardcore gym-crush. Together were contemplating travel locations & places that we wanted to visit before we died. We had this common ground of desiring historic or strange travel-destinations. These places were basically anything but a beach in Spain, or a shopping trip to New York. 
I stated that I’d been wanting to see
(1.) The Harry Potter Museum in England. (Seriously; look it up and steal my idea. It looks so bomb.) I still have in mind to find a partner in crime and/or just go sometime within the nearest as possible future.


[the Harry Potter Museum in England]

(2.) I really wanted to see the Auschwitz Concentrations Camps, I and II, in Poland. (At the time I actually thought Auschwitz was located in Germany. Geography has never been my strong suit. At least I found this out, before I bought the tickets ‘eh?)

It is safe to say that my desire to visit and see the Concentration Camps in Poland, lasted a lot longer than my crush on gym-boy. Tomorrow I am leaving for five days to vacation in Krakow, Poland. 
My thought is, that a visit to a place like Auschwitz is something very essential to the human spirit. Combined with a good six years of existential crisis and lots (and lots) of time, in my own company. My hope is that this place will bring some reflection, to my own experience with suffering and bring some understanding to life as a whole. So I guess going this is kind of an existential crisis, within an existential crisis.

I want to see and get a feeling of what legends, like Victor Frankl, lived through. I’d like to encounter what is possible to survive as a human being. It is my wish to contact some humility and love inside myself for others. It’s a bit difficult to say exactly what I am chasing on this journey. I just know that this is the way, I am supposed to walk. Kind of like writing, art and music. I am not moving: I am being moved. It’s a beautiful thing, really.


This is a trip for a lot of reasons.

It’s a big deal for me to be going alone. I haven’t traveled much since I relocated back to Europe in ’11. So this is kinda scary.  I dramatically imagine it going one of two ways: The first is being abducted by the polish, whom I’ll never learn to fully understand nor speak to. The second, is that they make me their queen. Here the lack of communication this still come into play. I’ll forever have to settle for being unable to speak to anybody, ever again. Someone was kind enough to point out that Poland wasn’t a kingdom, which leaves me back at option one.

I’ll  be leaving a complete and lovely review on my blog of Poland’s amazing attractions, and of cause my experience at the Concentration Camps.
I’m sure it’ll be okay. Okay.

Freja Blay
Aarhus, Denmark.
8th of April 2017.

The life of being a non-instant

“The time that leads to mastery is dependent on the intensity of our focus.”
Robert Greene, Mastery

Let it be told, that I do not in any particular way or form, fit into a world where ‘instant’ is becoming the norm and a necessary of social behaviour. I kindly reject the compulsive tendency to make everything live. I am a perfect contemplator. I greatly prefer thinking things over (a million times) before making my move. I need time to think. I resent making rash attempts or sudden changes, for the sake of making them. I like strong and steady, so when the storm comes I’ll be prepared.

I don’t like instant messenger, or the expectation that I’ll instantly respond to messages and the fact that other people can actually see that I read their message and presume an – instant – response, makes me frigid and anxious at times. Which also lead, in part, to the deleting of my non-active Facebook account, after deciding that it didn’t bring reasonable amounts of joy into my existence and therefore had no purposely good reason, to continue its annoyance of me.

My Instagram is a perfect example of this factor. Most of my posts are either written or taken days, and sometimes weeks, prior to the actual posting date. I’ve had quite different reactions to this matter, because it apparently is expected that instant, actually means ‘This is happening in this very moment. RIGHT NOW’ If this is your belief, then I apologize, because it ain’t the case, and probably won’t ever be, at least for me. I prefer giving the best of my best and maximize quality over quantity. The sad truth is that I can’t perform BOTH. Really well written posts don’t come cheaply, they cost a greater deal of my mental capacity. It takes time for me to dig out the best pictures and footage from let’s say, leg day.

Maybe it’s a bit to perfectionistic of me to put so much energy and though into something like Instagram, but that dear Hudson is simply a part of my personality. I like that the things I give life aren’t shit, and my Instagram is, well, many hours of work and something I’m proud of.

If you take a look at it, you will see a pattern of Amino Acids and daily pictures of my life. Individually they can be broken up, and will tell a story. If you on the other hand, look at it as a whole you’ll see a pattern of art as well. It’s not a strange coincidence that my Instagram profile happens to be that way, it was well though through and mapped out, -before I even started. That’s just how I roll baby, welcome to my OCD* laden world, where everything is symmetrical and the Oxford English Dictionary* is laden with hours of potential entertainment.

(*I kid you not, I have one, it’s porn)

My Amino Acids (on my Instagram) for example are a product, of probably roughly 15 hours of total work including research. I got a back land of an amino acid study, because I actually didn’t know a dahm thing about the amino family, before I stated looking into it. Instagram became my tool or so-called presentation of the ‘finished’ product.

So, in a world of rush I prefer to be slow and calculated. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s both a blessing and a curse. I tend to just not get as much shit done as my peers. What I do get done is aced and diced to the needlepoint, which isn’t a great quality in, let’s say, getting out of a burning building, but when it comes to life in general I’ll take gradual over instant anything any day.

It takes around 10.000 hours to master a skill and become an expert, and there is nothing ‘instant’ about that.

*Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Yes, I am in fact, actually diagnosed with this magical mindset.

Thanks for reading,

Freja Blay. Aarhus, Denmark.
17th of March 2017.