Sometimes life gives me lemons, and I don't make lemonade. That was last week. This week, I left the lemons behind and went out looking for strawberries. While I was struggling with my lemons (a slight stomach bug, followed by a mild cold, which turned into a bad virus infection and struck me down for a week), the (hypothetical) strawberries grew in all corners. Now I have harvested them and made a strawberry cream.
But enough of hypothetical fruit. Once again, I have arrived at a point where I have to take a few things at face value. Posting twice a week doesn't work for me at this moment. Once again, I spent too much time thinking about some imagined rule. I write if I have something to describe, if not, I don't. There are many so-called "rules" about how to run a blog. I have realised that they are of no importance to me. My goal is not and never was to build an advertising platform.
At the same time, the realities of my budget are becoming visible. If you have the desire and the means to support me, you can now do so via Patreon. I will continue to post on this blog. However, the texts and pictures published on Patreon differ slightly from the blog content. I will give my patreons access to things I am not willing to give away for free. The interviews try to open up other perspectives, the photos can be downloaded and hung in your living room, and the drawings could potentially become part of your picture wall or brighten up your workspace. Go nuts.
Patreon is a place where you can support artists who create content you love so that they can make more content. It's a little like Kickstarter; only you get rewards for each month you support, whether that is just once or ongoing. I love creating content and sharing my travel experiences with everyone. I am not a fan of ads though. Visually and spiritually I would prefer to be able to do what I love without having to push products on people.
A month ago, a friend told me that when she writes stories about herself or her family, she thinks she is selfish. She also said something along the lines of: "Looking at yourself is narcissistic and has no value for other people." It's something I've heard often, and that floated around on the back of my mind for a long time before I started to do just that, on a regular basis. Since I've left Germany, this question no longer presents itself to me. Somewhere between crossing my first border and encountering the almost three-year-old Saima, I have understood that it's human to look at others and myself, and a potential gift to people around me. Putting my growth on paper and sharing my thoughts has made me find words for things I have carried around in my head for years.
Everyone looks at their life and their life decisions, processes them in personal narratives, justifies their self and actions against the backdrop of a potpourri of values. If this is human, why is the publication of these writings narcissistic? These texts are only narcissistic when they exaggerate or make a situation better than it was. The exploration of thoughts and feelings is the first step on the way to something we call art. It's not the end product, but it's a step that is worth conserving because not only women who travel around the world need role models. The world needs more women role models. Not only the image that I project of myself but also to the women I meet, who are expanding my understanding of womanhood all the time. These are the people of whom I have learned the most on my journey. I have saved their life perspectives in my heart. I will never forget them and hopefully later get to give my characters inner lives with some of the thoughts these women have provoked in me. For this step, I don't need to write them down. I would have liked to have them preserved anyways. Tracing back the potpourri of values that I am going to bring home, will be made possible through these interviews. I can tell people about these women without changing their words when referring to my highly unreliable memory of our encounters. I can tell people: "Look for yourself. What do you think?" And let a new conversation emerge from the previous one.
I would like to overcome my insecure self more often and ask more women to tape a conversation and publish it. So far I have done it once. Once. It was incredible, profound and instructive, but also embarrassing, unpleasant, and unsettling. I know these feelings. Before I published my first blog post, I had to find a place for my fear to appear narcissistic. Before I could interview anyone, I had to overcome my fear of being silly and banal. Before I can ask people to support me financially, I have to leave behind my fear of doing something wrong. Nowadays nothing I do happens without some version of that fear. I have gotten to know and respect it. After having circled the things that frighten me for some time, at some point, I close my eyes and make that one step forward. This is one such step.
Some voices claim that it's unseemly to have your "holidays" financed by hard-working people at home. They are buzzing around in my mind as I type this, and then there are people like Amanda Palmer (whose TED talk I recommend to everyone). I don't know why you read these blog texts. I read them for the same reason that I consume books and films because they convey realities that are different from mine. I can get closer to the thought process of another person than in conversations because I have time to balance and think about our differing realities. Is there anything more fascinating?
In retrospective, my fears look silly and small. They weren't at the time. They were useful and resulted in a sophisticated system of second and third opinions on every text I have published. Through and from them I have learned to write. Now often a fast grammar and spelling check is sufficient, and only in some texts, I need someone who questions the beast as a whole. This growth is beautiful and makes room for new fear imposing things.
On my Patreon I explain in detail, what I am trying to achieve. Take a look and see if there is something that interests you!