Tag Archives: Now

Goodbye Berlin, Hello Rasquera

How to turn a Drama into a Romantic Comedy.

by Andree Bock

Not in the picture: The silence

Greetings from Rasquera!

Never heard of it?

Good. That’s why I am here.

Rasquera is a quiet village in the Catalunyan Countryside. 775 people live here and since two weeks I am one of them.

But this story starts almost two years earlier in Berlin.

I lived there for the last five years or so, working as a copywriter in advertising. I worked a lot and wasn’t too bad at it. My agency promoted me to Creative Director. They wanted to announce it two weeks later during a big event.

A week later I quit my job.

Some call it burn-out syndrome.
I call it the best thing that could happen to me at the time.

I was completely exhausted.

I quit the agency very soon after that, fighting my way out. I earned my money as a freelance copywriter. When I had enough money for the month I stopped working. Often I stopped earlier.

I found out a few things about myself. I don’t want to work in advertising anymore, for example. Hey, great. Then again, stupid, did you learn anything else apart from working night-shifts in advertising agencies?

At this point, let me tell you a secret about advertising: Every creative sees himself as an artist. A copywriter secretly sees himself as the coming bestseller author, an Art Director is the next big thing in painting. The list is long. Thing is, we are not in art, we are in advertising. We make money, not art. And we have got a lot of good excuses not to do our exhibition or write our bestseller.

One day I ran out of excuses.

I found an author who took me under his wing: I am receiving a two-year coaching. In the first year I learned certain techniques of writing. How to build up suspension for example. Or how to characterize people. A lot of theory. More reading. And even more writing. The second year of our cooperation is dedicated to writing my first book. That year started a few weeks ago and I am happy to have found my story during the first year so I could do a lot of research before I came here and know the story about 95%.

It’s a story that plays in the 17th and 18th century. It’s the rise and fall of a kid who grows up under poor conditions in Berlin. German Aufklaerung, Napoleon conquering Berlin in 1806, that kind of stuff.

Funny enough, before I got into advertising (at the age of 23), I studied German literature and history. I always joke when someone asks me if I am just continuing my studies now. I am a student of 37 years – and hopefully will still be a student the day I die.

So why Rasquera, that tiny little village in the middle of nowhere? Three reasons:

1. I am weak. I have to protect my writing from big city distractions. Some might say my commitment isn’t strong enough to keep me in Berlin, doing the job. I say my commitment is strong enough to bring me here do the job.

2. One of my best friends lives here, so I won’t be completely alone and shut off.

3. I love it here. I love the rough and beautiful countryside that brought up those rough and beautiful people with their rough and beautiful language and habits and regional pride and…need more? Come here.

So I left my expensive apartment in Berlin Mitte and put what I haven’t sold in a small shared flat in Kreuzberg. I can go there any time I want and get back to big city life (and answer my letters, because the only post that I let come here is the Kicker, a German football magazine). This place in Catalunya is dedicated to the writing, not to bills and tax declarations. I can deal with them properly in Berlin.

With the money I saved I rented a town house here in Rasquera that comes with furniture. Today, 8th of December, I spent two hours on the terrace in the sun, reading.

The lady from THE bakery is very nice (THE bakery because there is only one. They sell baguette in THE supermarket but they themselves buy it from THE bakery). So I chat almost every day with the lady and one day I told her what I am doing here (people are curious in the village, like in every place) and she said that it sounds to her like what she does see in Hollywood productions. The writer on the hill, a cliché de luxe!

(What is missing here to make it a Romantic Comedy is, of course, the stubborn housekeeping woman whose language I don’t speak and she doesn’t speak mine and she messes up my old bachelor life up in a nice way and after a lot of irritations and mix-ups we end up falling in love with each other and when they haven’t died they….)

I prefer to think that I’m just living my dream.

By the end of 2011 they will present my book at the book fair in Germany. I put all my commitment in that goal.

So, see you on the fair!

Yours,

Andree

P.S.: By the time I had the guts to relocate myself, touch my assets of the last resort and write the book, guess what happened? I won my first own client. It’s a big construction company that needs a lot of brochures and catalogues and much more. The marketing director doesn’t care where I am located as long as the texts are good.

P.P.S.: It’s advertising. I love it. It pays my rent.

P.P.P.S.: Stubborn housekeeping ladies whose language I don’t speak and who want to mess up my life in a nice way – you’ll find me in Rasquera.

P.P.P.P.S.: Hell, I shouldn’t be that square headed: Any stubborn housekeeping who wants to mess up my life in a….you probably know by now, don’t you?

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About Andree Bock:

When Andree is not living in Berlin, he is living in a small village in the countryside of Catalunya. He is an author and freelance copywriter in advertising and is currently writing his first novel.

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Breakdown at the playground

Little Jack didn’t need a push. Impetus. Dizzy on the up-rush, he ran in.

First see, first play. To the jungle gym. Up the middle grid, to the tip top. Hinged knee swings like open doors. Hair flying round. Smiles seem like frowns. World upside down.

To the wobbly thing. Horse on a spring. Looked like fun, but it’s boring. So what.

To the wide slide. Singed finger pads on the climb up. The sun has done its part to make the latter hot. Caution to the wind, down the metal tube. Burned backside. Not so bad, but maybe not again.

To the sand box and the cutesy pie. Pink hair ribbon and a yellow bucket. Baking dirt cakes for pretend friends. Not quite so sweet. Unkeen to share with a real mate. Whack shovel smack. Run, get out of here.

What a great day, on the playground!

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Jack standing, by the wayside. Same playground on another day. So many options, potential for mistakes. Better think it through to the end of play.

There’s the jungle gym. Could be fun. Upside-down. But then again. There’s the blood rush in the head. Could lose control or perspective. Why fall off, even bust a crown.

There’s the springy horse. Wobble to amuse. Or a humdrum mare with lackluster flair. Why waste time.

There’s the grand slide. Maybe glide down. Clearly the wrong size. Why get stuck, and be mortified.

There’s that fine girl, sitting right there.  Could cooperate. Maybe build a castle, with a moat and gate. Surely not her taste. Why make things awkward, completely lose face.

Life’s no playground.

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So, what happened to little Jack, his impulsiveness and his joy for life?

He grew up. And along the way he learned to adopt a behavior pattern that many of us are familiar with:

  • feeling an inner impulse only to suppress it in the next millisecond
  • seeing all the way to the imaginary bad ending we fear will come instead being short-sighted and focused on the joy of beginning something new
  • paralyzing ourselves with the idea that we once we start something we aren’t permitted to stop and drop it to do something else if it isn’t what we expected
  • over-thinking our time on this playground that is life instead of playing joyfully

I like to call it “breakdown at the playground.”

Little Jack’s five tips for more fun on the playground:

  1. Follow your impulse to play.
    RUN onto the playground. DO NOT STAND there looking at all the options  from the sidelines.
  2. Do something fun.
    START DOING the thing that attracts you most right now. DON’T THINK it to death. Just follow your strongest inner impulse and do it.
  3. See what happens.
    Let yourself BE SURPRISED. You may find it’s everything or nothing like you expected. You may love it or hate it. But one thing’s for sure: it’s FOR REAL and not just your speculation about how it might be.
  4. Continue or try something else.
    If you like it, great. CONTINUE doing it until the impulse driving you subsides. If you don’t like it, MOVE ON to the next thing that seems most appealing in the next moment.
  5. Repeat
    KEEP COMING BACK to the playground. GET BETTER at trusting your inner impulses each time you play and reap the rewards.

And no matter what, remember not to take yourself too seriously. Life can be your playground, if you let it 😉

Until we meet again,

Shailia

[Today’s blog post is dedicated to Martha, who loves this metaphor.]

T for TODAY

mess in the living room

Me: “I am only going to count to ten: 1, 2, 3 … Clean up your mess in the living room. Now! We had an agreement about this.”

My son: “Just a minute, Mom. Right after I’ve finished the painting.”

Me: “You said that yesterday. And you said the same thing this morning after breakfast. I want you to do it now! There will be no further discussions about it.”

While I’m discussing the same annoying thing over and over again with my son, my mind wanders back to my personal to-do’s for today. There are piles of paper on my desk and a package waiting for me at the post office. I have an unanswered message from a good friend on my cell phone. She’s not feeling well. Could I please call her back a.s.a.p.?

As I’m loading the dishwasher I begin to balance my priorities. The package can wait until tomorrow. The papers can be tackled later. So, I decide to call my friend first. She picks up mid-ring of ring one – obviously sitting on her phone, waiting for me to call. The case seems urgent.

“To make a long story short, he’s an asshole.” she blurts out. “I shouldn’t have picked him up last night.”

Oh no, not again” I think to myself and sit down on the sofa ready for a long and compassionate phone call.

Me (trying to comfort her): “Don’t blame yourself. This won’t help.”

She (now on the verge of tears): “Why do I always make the same mistake over and over again?”

She continues on and while I’m half-way listening, my mind is searching for an intervention – some sensible doorway to help her exit out of WHY mode. In my experience, this three-letter question rarely ever solves problems. So, I consider asking her the unbelievably brilliant WHAT FOR? This seven-letter alternative usually helps in switching from blame to creatorship. But then I hear myself asking her this instead:

“When is the exact point in time you are really going to change your decision about him?”

She stops crying and thoughtfully mumbles: “I don’t know. I thought I already had. But obviously, I didn’t. I guess I need a re-start on this one.”

You see, given the choice, our minds generally choose tomorrow as the earliest possible starting point for dealing with a re-start, a goal or an intention. And for the change-resistent brain, tomorrow is simply a synonym for “doing it later”.

On this typical morning in my life, I had encounters with three people whose brains had decided to do things later:

  • My son: Between you and me, he still hasn’t cleaned up his mess.
  • Myself:  As I write this post at the end of the day, my pile of papers is still waiting to be sorted.
  • My friend: Her approach was more like, “Starting tomorrow, I will do it differently.”

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Sound familiar?

Most of us have, at one point, decided to start a diet tomorrow or a new exercise program next Monday (next week, after Christmas etc.) And certainly, there are enough methods, trainings and books about how to overcome your weaker self.

todayRecently, I decided to add a simple feature to the goal coaching sessions I have with my coachees. It doesn´t replace the process you need to create new and fulfilling results in your life, but it might help you to stay on track.

At the end of the session I hand out a simple piece of paper which has a single word written on it: TODAY.

I invite my clients to put it wherever they can see it and to look at it at least once in the morning and once in the evening.

I have one of my own and it is a nice and simple reminder for me to start transforming a certain behavior now – instead of tomorrow or whenever. To finish something immediately instead of next week. To clear up a problem before going to bed. Or simply to be grateful for everything that happened TODAY.

Here is how I like to think about time:

  1. Things from the past don’t matter – except in the context of how you are re-experiencing and utilizing them in your memory right now.
  2. Worrying about the future is a waste of time. Everything that will happen in the future is a result of an intent you are creating or living in this moment.
  3. Therefore, all that truly matters are the things you are doing (or omitting) TODAY.

I invite you to use TODAY as an easy point of entry.

Yours,

Pat

P.S.: Need some inspiration for things that could be done today? I know it’s quite an old one, but I love listening to it from time to time…

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Free tool: Today