by Karin Hallberg
Chaos can be creative, but also exhausting. For Jennifer, the state of confusion she was in made her addicted to many different kinds of drugs and distractions. Doing everything she could to run away from herself, her inner love gradually faded. Jennifer’s journey at New Life has been one of reconnecting with her inner strength and acceptance, something that has been facilitated with the support from her loving and listening friends: the cows Blossom, Bella and Rosa.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you come from and what brings you here?
My name is Jennifer, I come from Berlin and I am 33 years old. I came here because I felt that the “wild 33” is almost over and I wanted to change my life in many aspects. In Berlin I work as a tailor for wardrobes in movies and theatres. I love what I do and I feel so lucky to have chosen something that I really have passion for. But somehow I lost the passion on the way. I realized that I have been living in the past for the last years. I struggled with my childhood, I think that all my life I have been mad at my mother. She is a good mother, she does the best she can and I think she really loves me. My family tries to be there when I am in trouble, but they don’t have solutions for everything. When I was 15 I had to move out from home. I moved from my mother to my father, but then he moved out from there when I was 17. I had a completely furnished flat and they supported me with money, but I think they missed teaching me how to live. I became a really chaotic adult, I am a creative person so it is a creative chaos I live in, but it is not always easy to follow my plans, I often get lost in the chaos. When I was younger I imagined that by 28 I would have my own family; a kid and a man and everything, that it was gonna be like in a soap! But it is not like that, life is beautiful but it is not easy, every day is a challenge. I have experiments with several drugs and I have smoked a lot of pot in my life, probably more than enough for three lives! For two years I have felt that I don’t want it and I don’t need it anymore, there is no space in my life for being stoned all the time.
Did you use the drugs to calm down your creative chaos?
I used it in order to [be able to] stand myself, which is part of what I came here to learn. I haven’t been in a relationship for the last four years; it hasn’t been possible because I lived so much in the past. This is also something that I miss, but I know that I have to fully love myself first. Yesterday Brian [a New Life resident] said, “You can have a relationship when the cup is more than half full, not half empty, because then you are only looking for someone who can fill it up”, and that is so true! I also have addiction problems, first it was pot which I don’t need anymore, but I have replaced it with watching TV, eating chocolate; several things, you can replace it with anything! I would love to find out what this emptiness is, stop replacing it and explore what is there inside of me. I want to enjoy life, to manage and be responsible for myself. New Life is really the best place ever to be with yourself, to put down the walls and realize that you are not alone with you fears and your weaknesses and troubles because there are so many nice, openhearted, incredible, unique people here! I really love them because they are who they are, everybody is struggling and fighting with something and we are not alone, and it is good and brave and okay to be vulnerable. This is something I forget when I am at home hiding in my snail-house.
What have been the major challenges for you here?
Berlin is a big city, it is very fast and can be very rough and anonymous. You are surrounded by people who you might never see again and you can be ugly without facing the consequences, and people can be ugly to you. And here it is like a little microcosmos, a little village, there are people who I really like and people who trigger me, and it is a challenge to handle that in a mindful way. It is also important to take a conscious look behind, why are they like this and what is it that triggers me? It makes me understand a lot about myself and it makes me generous with other people, because everybody has to carry and stand themselves, and what triggers me about a person probably triggers themselves even more!
You connected with Blossom [our cow] from day one! How was that?
Yes, I love them all; Blossom, Bella and Rosa! They are big animals and they can be rough, but I love animals and they are like big dogs. If you are not afraid and you are nice to them, they will be nice to you. That first day when I came I brushed Blossom and she rubbed her head on my leg and on my shoulder and I almost fell because she was so rough, but it was a sign of love! When I saw the cows it was clear: this is the work I want to do! They are very good at listening, they can keep secrets. It is especially nice to do the milking in the morning. I am not very much for this meditation and yoga thing, because I am not a morning person, so I can’t really enjoy being around other people in the morning. But it is very nice to have an animal who needs me, who I am responsible for. Working with animals and in nature gives me a lot, it is like meditation for me. I also like the ducks, they are a little bit stinky but very funny. One follows the other and the first one has no idea where to go! And I can be the Easter-bunny every morning, collecting the eggs. I put some music on and dance and sing while I clean, it is very nice!
You told me that you are planning to come back to New Life in the autumn, what is it that brings you back?
I don’t think I will never stop growing when I am here! I have learnt a lot and I will try out how it is when I come back to reality, how it will change my life. But I am sure there is more to work on! This is a paradise place and it is amazing how much they have built up in such a short time. It is such a beautiful idea to create a place for people who are lost, where they can grow and change and heal. I am so thankful and so proud to be part of this, and I would love to come back and show how I have changed, to give as much back as possible!