How Leaving Your Daily Routine Changes You

It’s against all logic. We left the empty countryside and voyaged into a packed German cityscape to slow down and step away from the chaos. (Do I not hear the sound of honking car horns or the whirl of an ambulance siren outside?)

I do hear those things.

Oh! But inside of me and inside of Martin, I hear a deep breath. This six-week visit is our chance to step away from our day-to-day life at the airport. It’s so easy to get caught up in busyness in our routines, isn’t it? This trip is our chance to do four things, really.

live abroad in germany

1. Look at what’s working… and what isn’t.

When life gets busy, it’s really easy to hop into a routine. Take journal making at Gadanke for example. Each day, I would wake up and keep doing the same processes over and over. It didn’t even occur to me that there could be a faster, more precise method of, say, punching holes in your journals. I just keep doing what works.

Then I get here. I don’t have the ability to head downstairs to start building journals. That’s when I start thinking. “Hey, that process doesn’t work as well as it could. What could I do better?”

2. Remember passions.

What makes you feel alive? What brings your creativity a giant leap when you pause to do it? Chances are you don’t really make time for it because life gets crazy. It happens.

I’m really excited to start German class again. One big reason outside of the language thing? I’m walking to school again. We’re in a new neighborhood now, and I can’t wait to explore the cobblestone streets and shops. My heart just wants to watch people as I move along. I pick walking over the S-Bahn any day; now I just have time for it.

3. Challenge your way of thinking.

Life would be very plain if we were all the same. How would we find excitement with the first glimmers of connection with a stranger or soon-to-be love? Where would we begin to dream?

cake in germany

4. Discover stories.

I’ll tell you a secret. The pages of Gadanke journals are built by moments. The prompts come from the stories I have heard people tell and the stories I have witnessed unfold. Sometimes, there are stories that go untold or poems that I read and smells that I discover. My job is to help people – all sorts of people – bring their stories to life and celebrate.

I still carry the stories that people I’ve met in Germany have brought to my life. I keep them in my back pocket and pull them out for perspective and for remembering. Stories fill me.

How do you escape your daily routine? Even if it’s just for an hour or two, what do you do?