immer hin

There’s a phrase in german, immer hin, which means something along the lines of always going there, always getting there, always moving towards it. Immer hin. Yeah. Things might take a while but you’ll get there in the end. A little conversation about rhubarb cake reminded me of it recently.


I like immer hin you know. I like the idea of not giving up, unless something really is worth dumping by the wayside, but other things, other important things, to keep on doing them, working towards things, even if it’s just a bit every week; it all adds up over the years.

So this last week I’ve talked to the blog a lot. I’ve started thinking again. And I’m glad of that. Astrid and I have been out walking. Walking around the Heath. Over to Swain’s Lane, around past the ponds, up the hill, through the glade, traverse kite hill, down by the terrace houses, over the railway bridge and back home. I’ve given up on coffee for the time being. My nose has been blocked and my energy levels plummeted and I’ve been huffing and puffing barely really pushing the pram. Feeling as fed up as fed up can feel.

We watched a rainbow kite scoot across the cold blue sky. We watched it till the path curved around and we couldn’t crane our necks any further. We watched parched autumn leaves trip across the path, tumbling over and over, their journeys still underway as they pass us. We watched the wind blowing in the trees and we watched the leaves raining down. We saw green leaves, yellow leaves, brown leaves, grey path, happy dogs, barking dogs, playful dogs, blue sky, windy sky, grey clouds, white clouds, big fields, green grass, muddy paths, groves of trees. We ate exciting pan au raisin and we ate not as exciting carrot cake.

Astrid points while I narrate. Most sentences end in little pot, or little chop. Look! It’s a rainbow kite little pot. Shall we get you a kite for christmas little pot? Astrid will point. Yes, it’s brown leaves little pot. In the back of a kubota mini truck thing, little chop. Do you know mummy knows the 1970s theme song from the Kubota ads little pot? Mummy knows a lot of jingles from new zealand from the 70s and 80s. She must have watched an awful lot of television, little chop.

And so the blocked nose just got all too much and the tiredness and the puffedness and the running up and down the stairs and shouting every time the phone went and being bloody fed up and being in a really bad mood. A Really Bad Mood. Saturday morning I decided I was a complete failure so the heath walk narrative to Kevin as we walked past the running track, began this week, this morning as I lay on the sofa not wanting to get up and move I decided I was a complete and utter failure because I’ve never finished anything and I’m always just ok at everything, never really really good. Always quite good, but never really great, I can just never be bothered putting in enough effort to be really fabulous at anything. But Kevin got me up off the sofa and out of the house, and up the road where the narrative begins, and I said well, it’s these stupid damn new age books I was brought up on that tell you you can do anything if you put your mind to it. And you can be the greatest at everything in the world if you want to and Kevin said well, that’s true, which I suppose it is, but I was just so pissed off that there’s all this stuff that says you’re meant to be so great all the time. And you can do anything you can dream of (which I agree with). Anything – but so often these were suggested as being such lofty goals. So you’re meant to be a multi millionaire with your own empire and this and that.

So there’s this great big tug of war where I have set my ambitions a bit lower than best in the entire world firewalk with me Antony bloody Robbins and I’m wrestling with myself that maybe I’ve set my ambitions too low, or that I failed because I haven’t got my empire yet. And I’m not a multi-millionaire when i really should be, because if I am supposed to be able to have everything I can dream of then why am I not all this stuff? And this all boils down to Charlotte in her previous life taking the red pill and her ambitions changed although the mind hasn’t really caught up yet. Charlotte used to be a very good corporate cog, taking her sharebroking papers, wearing nice Charles Jourdan boots, with Lisa Ho black outfits, driving her shiny blue Fiat uno with a personalised plate, working late, feeling happy for giving her soul to a company so she can get given flowers for working late and being a Very Good Girl. And finding herself several years later at a company dinner at The Banqueting House in Whitehall standing up clapping for a Very Right Wing Politician, having no idea who he is, only to find out later and feeling horrified she didn’t actually walk out then and there.

So back to the running track, and the narrative. And this week pondering all these thoughts, the blocked nose, the draining of all the energy. And all this mad running around without stopping to think about anything. And realising I’ve not really thought about much of anything for many many years. And thinking that winging it on my intuition would be fine. When really it was just winging it. And being too lazy to think. (And also being saved as if by magic by my intuition on many an occasion. So thanks intuition. You do deserve credit.)

And I was so annoyed at myself for having given away all control of my life to other people, happily being told what to do, being told what’s important to me, where I should live, why I need to do this and that. And I was so mad with myself, because I had just gone along with it – and never really stopped to sit down and decide what I wanted. So it was high time I came up with my own life plan. To really decide what I want. Where I want to set my ambitions. What I want to do. Things I want for our family. And I must remember for next time the story of the humble japanese potter and gardener. And those kind of ‘ambitions’. That kind of philosophy. And not the grandiose new age you can do it book ambitions. Because that’s what I want to think about. That’s what I want to base the life plan on.

I remember when I was eighteen, my life plan was to be an interior designer. I would have a simple modern clean all white home, and a yellow porsche. A 911. Nothing fancy. A bit of rust would be fine. And I’d still like that (although I might change some of my colour preferences). So this week I decided to work out my life plan. But first I needed to recover. So I sat down yesterday evening and just breathed through my nose, and made myself do it. And eventually I could breathe through my nose again. This morning I had enough energy to go up the road twice in a row because Astrid needed her warm coat for the zoo. And today I’ve knitted on the sofa and drunk tea. And eaten oven fries with tomato sauce and mayonnaise.

Tonight I will roast organic beef from Pomona and cook using the new cast iron pans that arrived yesterday. I will practice my breathing. I will focus on slowing down. I will do my life plan over the next few weeks, but my immediate goal is to simply breathe and to slow down.

We’ll get there in the end. We are here now.






29 responses to “immer hin”

  1. kevin avatar

    Your writing just keeps getting better.

    Everything will be ok in the end.
    If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.

  2. Kristy avatar

    You are so right.So many people are too busy trying to ‘get there’ to actually enjoy the journey.
    Enjoy your journey. x

  3. Allison avatar

    Yes, it’s very easy to get sucked into what everyone else thinks should be your life plan. For now I’m working on little short term plans … here’s what I’ll do for a bit to get to the next place I think I want to be and once I’m there, I’ll decide where to go next. It’s kind of like walking just to the next hilltop to see what’s on the other side. And then maybe continuing, or maybe turning somewhere else.

  4. Anna avatar

    I heard someone say once that you can do anything you want if it’s important to you because if it’s important enough you’ll end up focusing your energies there. So I think we all could be multi-millionaires if we really wanted to be, but at the end of the day we find other things more important to us to focus on. Would be nice though wouldn’t it 🙂 Good luck with your planning!

  5. another anna avatar
    another anna

    phew! we all need a regular reminder to be here now, in the moment and to remember we are part of the whole, such simple words, but such difficult actions.. most appropriate for the turning in time of late autumn heading into winter. also that last phase of pregancy, waiting, not able to do too much, plays with the mind – great to read you making sense of it rather than spiralling downward. one of the greatest thing to me about not being young anymore (i’m in my late 30’s heading towards the middle) is starting to really find out whats important to you and not what others think is important. btw i think sometimes its easier to do these away from home (nz) as well we have a funny perspective us nzers anyway take care and enjoy the journey and thanks for sharing with the group 🙂

  6. kirsty avatar

    I hear you! And I feel your pain, especially today. My DH has a different plan to mine and it’s causing me a lot of heartache at the moment. I had a major meltdown this morning, just sick of everything and feeling bleuh. Anyway, much better now, but it doesn’t change the fact that I want to be somewhere else and not here!

  7. Stacey avatar

    I know what you mean about living in the moment and not allowing what others think influence your direction. Sometime I think that my new role in life as a Mother has made that a little bit easier. She makes me treasure the little thinks and to slow down long enough to appreciate them.

    I have to say that I love your blog. Thanks for being so inspiring!

    By the way, you are not the only one who remembers that old Kubota jingle! I seem to have a speacial memory bank in my brain especially for jingles. Even though we were never their target audience, I think those ad executives would be impressed all the same.

  8. anon avatar

    as i see it, you are still way too concerned with the status of “stuff” to be able to truly slow down and feel at peace with any humble plan.

  9. lies avatar

    Wow. Ehm. Shall we just blow our last dollars/pounds of the week on a 5 five star forbidden sashimi and sake indulgence and tell each other ‘keep on swimming yummy one’?
    cause yummy rimes with mummy hon).
    I just wanted to cheer you up, brave one… I guess it often takes fed up to move on – sorry I’m not more Zen, I’m pregnant eh. Many bumpy cuddles.

  10. Liane avatar

    Wow Charlotte. Just wow. I got here from your flickr and that freaking adorable cat picture (and can I say that I’m not a huge, generally speaking, pet photo fan but that was an awesome one) AND this little bit of writing here was so wonderfully honest. Thank you.

  11. leslie avatar

    breathing. slowing down. reflecting. and life planning. all great things. something i need to do, too.

  12. Creature of Habit avatar

    Wow – it seems to me that you have something wonderful, a loving husband that could write something so brief, but so poignant. 🙂

  13. Lyn avatar

    My goodness it must be exhausting to have all that rattling around in your head! I think all of us would like to think we have contributed something more than a RIP sign over the gravestone when we go, but in truth alot of us do not. Want and material gain is in my mind what is causing so much discontent in todays world, what’s important are the ones that love you and except you for what you are, what ruler do you measure yourself against charlotte, I bet it’s only the one in your head. I’m a great starter, shit finisher myself but i’ve always believed my family can count on me no matter what else is going on. I’m sure you can say the same when the shit come down life’s not how randoms see you its how the people that really count see you. You are too hard on yourself.

  14. Alison avatar

    Your writing is so poignant, so personal and eloquant in it’s search for truth – for your truth – that along the way you transformed words into the narrative of your life – you are setting in place a beautiful wisdom of living. Sometimes that is gradiose. And sometimes it is simple pleasure of time and space, and sometimes it is simple pleasure of object and symbolic images of emergence.
    To not stop and think, to not constantly question and reinvent, would be a path of straight existence. You will choose paths of curvature, of knobbly twists and turns, and you will have adventure, one way or another.

  15. deedeen avatar

    You are writing exactly how I feel in this very moment. Your words are true to you and they resound in me. Thank you. Thank you. And now I’m crying, bloody hormones…

  16. heleen avatar

    i think motherhood makes us lose a bit of our old selves, but at the same time I believe it’s made me a better person. so i suppose i’ve made peace with having changed a bit. I only know you from reading your lovely blog, but you seem like such a great mum who gives her girl a real appreciation of the simple, beautiful things in life; and passing on something so important is a great legacy in itself. Also: whatever your life plan ends up being, please keep knitting on your list; you’re making beautiful things 🙂

  17. lottie avatar

    do you know you’ve written an incredibly inspirational post here? that through the fog you might not see how much you’re doing already? i relate on so many points and the moments when i remember to stop and be thankful for all that i have in terms of life and people as opposed to stuff and things are definitely the sweetest.

  18. erin avatar

    you are a brilliant, thoughtful, inspiring woman, charlotte.

  19. emily avatar

    oh charlotte. this post. your words are so spot on. so spot on. i was just talking with a friend about how i can remember clearly in my mind’s eye the day when i first learned this lesson. and yet i have to keep learning it over and over again. and to read it here, in your beautiful words this morning – i thank you. breathe.

  20. suzy avatar

    I love this post.

    I have similar guilt about being good at everything and exceptional at nothing. Maybe there is too much emphasis on being exceptional? But sometimes I wish that I was just really good at one thing, because it would make everything so much easier. If I was a remarkably gifted cellist / dog breeder / cake maker / brick layer it would be obvious what I should do.

    Good luck with the plan. And I hope your nose un-stuffs soon.

  21. Clare avatar

    We all must feel like we are being swept along by others lives at some time, or quick decisions we make but didnt think through. I’ve been married 3times…I didnt have that plan in mind when I was 20 and working in Victoria for a wonderful French company. i was living on my own, had my independance… Sometimes when I’ve bumped into old school friends I edit my life. I certainly could have done with making a life plan.

    I hope someone reads your words and sits back and makes a plan. That is such a good idea.
    I may make a plan, its never too late, thank you C, much love XX

  22. melissa avatar

    thank you for this post, charlotte. i read it last week and have been mulling it over ever since…
    thinking of you! x

  23. eireann avatar

    This was exactly what I needed to read, after a very difficult yesterday and a lot of work today. I often struggle with the feeling of being average–or mediocre–okay at many things but not a specialist. My metaphor is a telescope: I’m at my best when I can see that there is dimension to things, including time; that not everything needs to happen NOW (that’s one of my worst habits). When I lose sight of that, the telescope collapses and I panic, get lost in feeling helpless.

    This is a hello, too, because I don’t think I’ve posted a comment here before. I found you a few months ago. I’m in Nottingham, so not so far away. Take care.

  24. Zoe avatar

    Wow, that’s a lot of thoughts. I feel and think similar thoughts regularly. You said it better than I ever could. My plan is in motion 🙂 Thank you for an eye opening peek inside your mind xxx

  25. julia avatar

    somehow, i always get behind on your posts (well, everyone’s really), and when i finally get around to catching up, your words take my breath away. thank you for being so honest. i feel the same way so much of the time. being in a perfectly fine job at a perfectly fine organization, yet knowing that this is absolutely not where i want to be forever. at the same time having no idea where i might want to be going. and THAT scares me, into thinking that i will end up sitting here for much longer than i’d like. so thank you. life plans are good. even when they change.

  26. di avatar

    It sounds like your head has been very full lately- not just with the cold. You probably didn’t write this post wanting to hear everyone’s life philosophies, but I do feel compelled to share in the hope that it might help you find some clarity for your own…
    I want to be able to look back on my life and be able to say that I was motivated and interested in what I did. When faced with the frustrations of decisions and wanting to do more than is possible, I try to reassure myself with the philosophy that the stuff that is really important (whether I see it that way at the time or not) will be the stuff that does happen. Sometimes it may not happen exactly when or how I hope or imagine, but do believe that that isn’t always a bad thing. I reassure myself that I’m human, I’m fallible, and I’m not always right.
    OK- Manifesto over.

  27. angie avatar

    In this instant, in these thoughts, you are right where you are supposed to be… growing…

  28. jane avatar

    thank you for this post. It resonated very deeply with me.

  29. claire avatar

    charlotte, you’re an amazing woman.

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