A very intense year in New Zealand

Introduction

I know, it’s ages ago I’ve posted anything on my blog (did you think I was dead?). For a long time I didn’t feel much like writing, but lately my mind is overflowing with thoughts, that I would like to share. I hope this post will help me to bring some order in my mind and reflect back on this pretty intense year in New Zealand. This time I’m writing more about my inner journey. It’s a little bit different from my previous blogs, I hope you enjoy it (plan about 30 minutes of reading time).

Cycling from Christchurch to Cromwell

My year in New Zealand started with a normal bike trip. On the 15th November 2016 I arrived in Christchurch. At first I camped a few days at a friends backyard. In this time I got my bank account and tax number ready, because I wanted to work in NZ as well. After this was done I headed off towards Lake Clearwater. This is an area I hadn’t explored on my last trip to NZ. The first two days I cycled over the flat land around Christchurch. Then, on the third day, I reached Mount Somers. Here I met a French cyclist who I’d met earlier at Christchurch Airport and after this encounter we saw each other coincidentally three times. He had just come from Lake Clearwater and I asked him “How does it looks on the other side”? There were low clouds around Mt Somers and I wasn’t sure if it would be worth to cycle over the pass (700 m height). He assured me on the other side there is blue sky and a stunning landscape. Which he described as looking like Mongolia. After these words I had to go and see for myself. For that I was rewarded with spectacular views. I felt so amazed and happy when I left the mist behind me and this beautiful landscape appeared all around me. Cycling through the valley makes me realize that it was absolutely the right choice to return to NZ and experience this unique natural landscape. It would been many times that I would experience this feeling again throughout the coming year.

This valley was a dead end, so I returned to the Scenic Route 72 after I had camped one night at Lake Clearwater. In Geraldine I bumped into the French cyclist again (literarly!). He was just crossing the road as I was cycling through. He had rented a car in the meantime because his holiday was too short to bike everywhere, and he wanted to cycle only certain routes. Close to Geraldine I found a domain where I could spent the night. After Geraldine I wanted to head to Lake Opuha again, I had visited there on my last trip (this lake is still not located on Google Maps). I carried a lot more food than usual, because I wasn’t sure how long would I stay at this lake. The next shop and stop was at Lake Tekapo. Here I allowed myself the luxury (hot shower and kitchen) to stay at the Holiday Park with direct view and access to Lake Tekapo. From Tekapo I then took the Canal Road. Cyclists are permitted to take this service road, which I had already enjoyed on my last trip.  But this time round the wind was so strong that it took all my strength to push my bike on a flat road (Nor’wester). Arriving eventually at Lake Pukaki I was once again amazed by the beauty of this lake. I think this would have to be my favorite place in NZ. I found a peaceful spot and camped at the lake shore.

After getting some advice from a Kiwi I decided to cycle on the other side of Lake Pukaki towards Mt Cook. The weather was brilliant and I enjoyed cycling towards  Aoraki Mount Cook Village. It took me the whole day to get there. Camping at the White Horse Hill Campsite was very beautiful, I could hear the snow moving in the mountains (I never heard this sound before and it was extraordinary). That morning I walked up towards Muellers Hut, which was a steep and long hike up to 1800 m. But I couldn’t completed, there was too much snow and I didn’t have decent hiking boots. However the view was great and I was happy to go as far as I could. Often I have felt uncomfortable leaving my bicycle and all my gear behind so I haven’t done many hikes. On the way out from Mt Cook Village I had the company of Leonardo, a fellow bike traveler from Italy. When I left Lake Pukaki I spent two nights at Lake Poaka. Here there were over 20 backpacker vans parked up. Everyone kept to themselves. I was disappointed that no one was being social, so I decided to walk around and knocked on doors until I found some people to do a campfire together (at most of the places in NZ it’s forbidden to make open fires, but here it was allowed).

From Lake Poaka I followed the Alps2Ocean Trail and went to Lake Ohau, where I found yet another lovely camp spot. Riding the ridge up to 900 m from Lake Ohau to Omarama is one of my favorite cycling trails in NZ. When I had a break in Omarama, guess who I’ve met there again? Yes, it was the French cyclist. From Omarama I continued along the Alps2Ocean Trail until Duntroon. This part was not so spectacular. I experienced my first day of rain after two weeks on the road, but shortly before the rain started I met another bike traveler. Ian came from Ireland, was always on his phone, because he was selling his car. He used the phrase “okey-dokey” every time and now I do too. He was working several months on a dairy farm and told me everything about it. His stories were quite shocking to me, hearing how cows were treated to get out the maximum of milk.  We camped together at the domain in Duntroon. Ian left to go to the coast the next day while I went into the mountains to cross the infamous Danseys Pass. Danseys Pass is a very remote road, only a few cars coming along here. It was very adventurous to cycle this road.

Coming down from Danseys Pass I arrived in the province of Otago. I cycled parts of a former rail track and now called the Otago Central Rail Trail (it’s only for bicycles and horses). At some point I left the trail to do a side trip to St Bathans (a former mining town). These days it’s a tiny village with a free campsite and a man-made lake, called the Blue Lake. When I arrived there and saw this lake, surrounded by sheer white cliffs I was totally blown away. Immediately I went down and jumped into the water. From St Bathans I returned to the Otago Central Rail Trail which ended at Clyde. The last leg to Cromwell I did on the Highway 8 along the Clutha River, which looks like a long stretched out lake. Cycling from Christchurch to Cromwell took me over three weeks and a total of 1500 km. I was proud of the route I chose, which was mostly scenic and low traffic (except crossing the longest brigde of NZ at Rakaia, that’s quite dangerous and I recommend a detour). I was very lucky with the weather and had only one day of rain. I headed to Cromwell to pick cherries over the summer.

 

Cherry picking at Cromwell

On the way to Cromwell I had applied for a cherry picking job. It was only one or two weeks before the season started and I got really lucky to get a position, because most of the other pickers had applied one or two months before. It’s a very popular job, because it’s not such hard work and you can earn good money. At the orchard I worked in a team of very diverse nationalities. There were people from all over the world: Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Italy, Spain, England, France, Netherlands, Canada, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Namibia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malayisa, New Zealand and Germany of course. Wow, I was amazed. I love to work with people from countries other than my own. It’s so exciting and so much fun. Also it’s a good way to pick up other languages. I’m not a big talent, but I’m very passionate about learning as many languages as I can. On the orchard I couldn’t always recognize everybodys name but I could recognize everybodys nationality. So each day I was greeting them in their mother tongue which brought me always positive feedback and gave me the feeling to be more connected to each other. I’ve met so many good people there, I even got back on facebook and activated my profile again to stay in touch with them and to have the opportunity to maybe see them again one day.

Group picture of Suncrest pickers 2016/1017

During the picking, I was staying in Bannockburn at a big domain. At first I was camping and later I got a cabin for myself. Everyday I cycled to work which took me about 20 minutes. My alarm was ringing at 4:30 am because the picking started at 6 am, therefore we finished around 2 pm. There was a big group of Czech people and French people on my campsite. I had never met any Czechs before even it is so close to Germany. I started to hang out with them and picked up a lot of Czech words. There were two big kitchens at the domain. One kitchen was Czech Republic and the other one French Republic! I felt it was a bit of a shame that they just stayed with their own countryman. There was also a small group of Germans, but since I already knew the language I didn’t need to hang out with them. I hang out instead with the Czechs and the French and learned more about their language and their countries. It was a very good time. When the picking was finished I put my bicycle in the back of a car and traveled with a group of Czechs to Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo for having a few days rest.

Living in Christchurch

At the end of February 2017 I cycled back from Tekapo to Christchurch. Originally I just wanted to stay a few days and then continue by bicycle to Motueka to pick apples there . You know, it turned out totally different. Shortly after my arrival I didn’t feel good. I had a lot of headaches. At first I tried to ignore them but after a week it didn’t improve. At this time my friend Karo already started to look after me while I stayed at her place. I was very weak and physically uncomfortable. A short walk would take all my energy, I was afraid I might have meningitis again.

Karo went to hospital with me, she was even more worried than me. The doctor couldn’t made a definitive diagnosis but recommended to rest and said I should return if it got worse. Of course it got worse. When I returned the second time to the hospital I was just a shadow of myself. My headaches were insane. Normal painkillers didn’t help anymore, only the morphine pill relieved my pain. The doctors did more tests, including a CT and a lumbar puncture. I hated having the lumbar puncture (previously I had this procedure already four times in Germany to me). With a long needle they extract my spinal fluid through the end of my spine (this is the definitive test for meningitis). However the test came back negative. The doctor suspected Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) but it wasn’t showing up in the blood test, however the blood test for this virus is not reliable. He recommended me to stay in bed for at least 4 or 5 weeks and not do anything. What? Okay, I have to say goodbye to apple picking then.

It felt a bit like a deja-vu. Because two years ago I got the life-threatening illness meningitis and at that time nobody could give me a clear diagnosis or tell me if I’ll recover. With this new illness I was very weak and tired as well. But instead of the dizziness and speech and walking disability I had with meningitis, I had a lot of headaches this time, basically 24/7. Everyday I took six painkillers at least. The whole of March I stayed in bed. Fortunately Karo looked after me and did everything in her power so that I could recover. You cannot imagine how relieved I was when the headaches stopped after several weeks and bit by bit I gained some energy back. It was still a long way until I had enough energy to go for longer walks and cycle again. Like with my meningitis I had to start from rock bottom. This last year I had many relapses and often had headaches and migraines as well. I realized again how precious every day is where we don’t feel pain. Later my doctor (GP) confirmed that I had EBV / mononucleosis. I never heard of these diseases before, but since then I talked to some other people who had mono as well and they acknowledged that it takes long time to fully recover from it. It can be responsible for triggering chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) which some people have for lives.

It didn’t make any sense for me to go on to Motueka anymore, instead I decided to stay in Christchurch. While staying with Karo I contributed rent money, but now it was time to look for a job as my savings from the cherry picking started to get low. Fortunately my travel insurance paid for all the expenses at the hospital, which was 2000 $. My friend Karo who adopted me meanwhile has another son who owns a paving company. In the middle of April I started to work with him. More about my work life you will read further down.

Christchurch for me is an underrated city. It’s still got wounds from the major earthquake six years ago, but they are closing. The city center is growing back together (and with my job I’m part of it). However the architecture here in comparison to Europe is disappointing. What I appreciate is the location of this city. It is directly by the sea and one hour to the mountains. There is so much beautiful landscape around here, perfect for many exciting microadventures . Also I was always dreaming to live close to the beach and this dream came true here in Christchurch. For 8 months I was living in New Brighton, just 500 m away from the Pacific ocean. I love this beach, with his dunes and forest behind it (Bottle Lake Forest Park), it reminds me of beaches in Northern Germany where I spent my childhood holidays. It doesn’t matter what weather or time of the day it is, for me it’s always exciting to be at the beach.

The weather here is typical of New Zealand, it can change often in the same day between sun, clouds, rain and wind. Overall I prefer the weather here much more than back in Berlin. There is more sunshine throughout the year, about 500 h more than Berlin. The colors of the sky and the formation of clouds are amazing. There is a specific light refraction that only occurs in the southern hemisphere which makes the colors deeper. Winter is not so harsh, there are days where you can walk in t-shirt and shorts (okay, some Kiwis walk around in shorts all year anyway). The only problem in Winter is, you realize that the houses here are poorly insulated, the cold is coming through every corner. On the other hand it’s a privilege that everyone can live in their own or shared houses. Back in Germany I never lived in a house, always in a apartment block.

It’s very convenient to go by bicycle through the city, because it’s totally flat (apart from the Port Hills). All Buses offer free bicycle transport, therefore they have a front bike rack. It’s very handy and I haven’t seen this in another city yet. But I noticed most Kiwis prefer to use their car and drive everywhere (like the Americans). Corresponding to that there are big malls and lots of fast food restaurants, mostly fish ‘n chips. The cuisine is rather underwhelming. Probably it’s one of the reason I started to cook myself. What I really like is that most of the people don’t care how they dress. But maybe they just can’t afford better clothes, because many Kiwis living just from week to week. Like in Australia there are strict rules of smoking and drinking in public places, which I appreciate.

While I was staying in Christchurch lot’s of people came to visit me, mainly friends from the cherry picking. Together with Karo I’ve hosted people from France, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. So I had the opportunity to give some back of the hospitality that I received during my traveling. With Karo I got into baking and cooking, which made me even a better host. However my guests were staying just for a short time. I missed being around with people of my own age group. So in November I moved to another house in the city where I’m staying with 5 other people in my age (two French, two Chinese and one from India). I’m looking forward to stay longer in Christchurch, hopefully I will get another visa.

 

How I changed my name to Matthew

My birth name is Holger-Matthias. But nobody has ever called me by my full name, just Holger. I never cared much for this name. When I had to introduce myself nobody apart from Germans/Scandinavians would understand my name. People made a lot of variations out of it, like Holgi, Holgerle, Holle, Holgor, Holgerito, Holgermeister, Holghius. French people used to call me ‘olger (which sounds like Olga), because they have difficults to pronounce the H. Also it happens quiet often that people would not use my name, because it’s to difficult for them to pronounce it correctly or perhaps they just don’t like my name. Which feels offence.

In April the German bike traveler Florian came to Christchurch to visit me. We have been in touch by email for the last two years, I admire his bicycle journey, he has been traveling the world for 5 years. Back in Berlin I made a movie night to raise money for his trip. He is very good at photography, so I asked him to take some pictures of me in “fancy” clothes. Usually I wear only cycling clothes, because on the bike it doesn’t make any sense to carry jeans etc. with me. When we looked through the pictures he shot, we came to the point that I don’t look like a Holger. I mentioned to them that I liked the name Matthew and thought already 7 years ago to be called that, but never implemented it. Now, Karo, Florian and Celine were the first ones who started to call me Matthew. After a few weeks I’ve told my collegues at work that I had changed my name and would now like to be called Matthew. It was on my birthday and felt the right time to do it and everybody agreed. I’m now so being used to Matthew that I don’t even look up if someone calls me still Holger. Matthew is not to far removed, it is the second part of my name, anglicized. I feel much happier and more confident with this name.

 

Working in Christchurch

In the middle of April I started to work for a paving company. It was for 3 or 4 days a week, I was still recovering from my illness. One month later I worked full time, up to 50 h a week. Our first job site was in Waterloo, on the other side of town. It’s a new industrial area that just got developed and we paved the first footpath. As the new boy my job was to carry and measure the pavers. Not too difficult at the beginning, but l was working up to bigger things. My co-workers are from Italy and France, later also the UK. When we finished the job in Waterloo and started on the East Frame (now called the Rauora Park), an ambitious new park in the city center, our team became bigger. From end of May to end of December we worked mainly on this project. 

Initially I thought I would work only two or three months. But then I saw this job as an opportunity to gain some experience in construction. I have always wanted to learn a trade. Also I thought again about becoming a fireman, which had been my childhood dream. So if can do a good job in a trade, I can be a good fireman. That was my thinking. Another very important part for me kept me on this job, it is my team and boss. My boss Ezra is just one year older and he could be my brother (we joke that we are brothers from another mother). He looks after me all the time and gives me a good feeling. He is very good in managing the team and explaining his instructions. Also my foreman Matthias (who is French) explains everything in a way that makes it easy for me to understand. It is rare to have such good co-workers who accept me and treat me always as an equal.

 

Microadventures “NZ Edition”

For my microadventures in Germany click here MY STORIES OF MICROADVENTURES

Nevis Road

While I was staying in Bannockburn I had a closer look an the map and I was wondering what would be behind this village, where is this road going? Bannockburn can’t be the end of the world! After the cherry picking I found the time to explore the Nevis Road. This is an very remote and adventurous road. But I started this little trip from Lumsden (the other site) and then came back to Bannockburn. I went on the Around the Mountains Trail first and met in the evening on the side of a gravel road two bike travelers from France, who got the same idea to camp off the road. The next day I left the trail and went on the Nevis Road. I was climbing up on 1000 m and on top I found a old hut which is open to public and where I spent the night alone. I had a fire going in the oven and felt very joyful founding this shelter while the wind was hitting the walls. The ride from the hut back to Bannockburn (civilization) was very tough. I had to fight against the wind and cross more than 20 river fords. In the end I didn’t care anymore if my shoes got wet, I just left them on. Shortly before Bannockburn I had to climb the highest public road in NZ (Duffers Saddle, 1300 m), I was so happy when some Kiwis stopped and pepped me up with some food, it gave me enough energy to do the last leg.

 

Godley Head

This was an very spontaneous trip. My friend Karo was talking about tents and evolving which one she is going to take on her next trip. I suggested then why we are not going to Godley Head and she will set them up there. A few hours later we were on our bikes heading to Godley Head. To get there we had to climb up Evans Pass (250 m). It’s still a miracle for me how Karo managed to get up there with her three-speed bike and trailer. Godley Head was a military base in the 2nd World War, there were large guns situated to defend the city in case of an attack of the Japanese. Nowadays you can see still the remaining of battery points and bunkers. I love this place, not only because of his history, also of his view point. It’s a great place to view over the city and the ocean. I come here often.

 

Pinchgut Hut

Tramping to Pinchgut Hut was one of these trips who memorized strongly and I often traveled back to this place in my mind. To get there I took the bus to Rangiora and from there I hitchhiked. It was only 25 km from Rangiora to the starting point of the track, but I had to change three cars to get there because it was so remote. I’ll always remember the old lady who picked me up in her 4WD, she was almost blind and had a driver. She was the only person who was living out there and I got so lucky she came my way at the right time. She even came down to the river, where the track starts, and picked up a long wooden staff for me and said “You will need this to cross the river”. After she wished me good luck I was on my own. The river was freezing cold and the water was above my knees. I was struggling to keep the balance, luckily I had the staff to support me. The track was ragged and I had the feeling to be in the wild. Just before darkness I reached the hut. I was alone and lighted up a fire in the oven. The next day I climbed higher (up to Mt Thomas on 1000 m) and passed some patches of snow. I took my time and allowed my gaze to wander over this stunning landscape. In the evening I reached Glentui and hichthiked back to Christchurch.

 

Lake Wanaka

It was Friday afternoon while I received a text from my friend Kris who was stopping by in Christchurch to pick something up. I just finished work and was heading home. He wanted to say hello to me. Then I got the idea to go back with him to Wanaka, because he is staying there and had to return the same day. I’ve asked him what he is doing on the weekend, he said “I go skydiving on Sunday” and I said “Cool, can I join you”. He and his boss were agreed and we drove back through the night together and reached Wanaka at 2 am. While I cycled around Wanaka, Kris had to work the next day.

But on Sunday we went with his friends skydiving. None of us had done this before. Surprisingly I was quite calm and didn’t felt much nervousness. Wanaka is a very famous place to do skydiving due it’s beautiful scenery. I really enjoyed the view from the aircraft while we were climbing to our dropping height. When we jumped out of the plane we were spinning, but after my tandem master kicked my legs in the right position we were stable. While we were falling I realized it’s not so thrilling as I imagined but very enjoyable. I would like to do it again one day. Later that day we catched up with Tim, a friend of Kris, and played frisbee golf together what I haven’t done before either. There is a place for this game by the lake with 12 baskets surrounded by trees. You have to throw the frisbee in the basket with least tries as possible, every player got three different frisbees and can choose in every move which is the most suitable one. I like it.

On Monday I went on a bike trail along the lake and found very peaceful spots to relax from the everyday stress. Wanaka is a beauty spot and I envy Kris that he can live here in a house by his own. To get back to Christchurch I had to hitchhike. It was a hot day and I was standing by a lonely crossing, moreover it was in the middle of the week and not much traffic came through. I got picked up by Aussie who was going all the way to Christchurch, he was driving very fast. Good, then I’ll be back earlier I thought. But he got pulled over by the police and had to pay a 120 $ fine. At first he excused he got used to a higher speed limit in Australia, but later he told me he got speeding tickets all over the world and 120 $ is not too bad, back in Australia he would have to pay 500 $ or something like that.

This long weekend was a welcoming change and a good break from work.

 

More Microadventures

 

Self-development and Self-awareness

For a long time I thought that when you are reach the thirties you are an adult, you know yourself and you know how life works. But now I realized we are still developing and discovering ourselves, no matter what age we are and it’s good that it should be that way because we are always evolving. I had to deal long time with depression, which only really changed in the last three years. I’m more optimistic now, it was a hard way to get there. While traveling the world by bicycle and receiving lots of kindness from other people it has helped me a lot to be more buoyant. A turning point in my life was my first trip to NZ three years ago, because I was very touched by this beautiful natural landscape which I felt moved by in a way I cannot articulate. I had told myself I would come back again and spend more time here. In between I had to learn how to walk and speak again, because of my meningitis. Having the strong urge to return New Zealand as a future goal in my mind helped me to go through those hard times and gave me the required willpower to stand up from my sick bed. Unfortunately this year I had another major disease.

However, it was easier for me to manage the physical pain than the emotional pain I have experience throughout my life. Often my feelings got hurt. I always knew that I felt stronger emotions than most other people. I’ve tried to hide my feelings and fight against them. Because being so sensitive it’s not accepted by our society. Yet, I always had the feeling of not belonging to this society and it is hard for me to fit in. One month ago I figured out that I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Let me explain: HSP is a personality trait, which affects 15 – 20% of the population. It describes humans who are processing sensory data more deeply due the wiring of their central nervous system. Identifying myself as an HSP was such an unimaginable relief for me. It’s probably the biggest insight in my life. While I was reading more and more about this trait I started to understand myself better and better. Suddenly everything made sense to me. My whole life was passing through my inner eye with the knowledge that I’m HSP and I found so many answers I was always looking for.

At first I had this huge relief everything is well with me, I don’t have a mental disorder. I was born this way, nothing is wrong with me. I found myself in these typical HSP traits: My inner life is very rich and complex. I spend a lot of time just pondering things. Other people moods affect me, that means if they are unhappy I’m unhappy as well and conversely. I have great empathy and strong altruism. I work hard at avoiding making mistakes or forgetting things. I am conscientious, which is very appreciated by my employees. Also I have detailed perception, high enthusiasm, versatile interests, strong desire for independence, very pronounced long-term memory and in my case a photographic memory. Thinking in a larger context, a strong sense of justice, equality and need for harmony are my characteristics as well.

In fact lots of these traits are very good attributes. But society in general does not have much space or appreciation for anyone who is outside the norm. Especially for me this is true, as it is frowned upon for a man who has too much feeling. It is difficult. No straight man wants to be seen as a softy. You are supposed to be manly, not showing too many feelings or be openly compassionate. I love to be a romantic and have bent over backwards to please women. Everything burns into my mind, either positive or negative things. So I have a long emotional “echo” of the experience. A big issue for me is that I get easily overwhelmed by sensory impressions. Going to a shopping mall, a party or pub is kind of torture for me. My perception works without or only very low sensory filter. For example, on a party I hear the music and everybody talking at the same time and can’t focus on a particular person. Often I have pushed myself to go out, to socialize, to make friends, but usually I feel uncomfortable and can’t enjoy it. My alcohol tolerance is zero, so I can’t “drug” myself to be more easygoing.

Being highly sensitive explains also for me why I have the strong need to withdraw at the end of particularly busy days into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from overstimulation. Often I was wondering why am I so tired? Why do I have less energy than other people my age? Why do I have so many headaches (already a lot before I had mono). No wonder, as a HSP my brain and nervous system is much more active and has to process much more incoming data. So conversely I need more downtime and more sleep than Non-HSP. Unfortunately I have very vivid dreams, so when I wake up I still carry those dreams into the day and don’t feel fully rested. Due my sensitivity I have a very low tolerance to caffeine. So I can’t “dope” myself with coffee or energy drinks. And being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me by disrupting my concentration or mood (I carry always heaps of food with me). Bright lights (sunlights, headlights, ceiling light) is very irritating for me. Specially in New Zealand I’m watching out to have my sunnies with me all the time.

But wait there is more! I’m not only a Highly Sensitive Person, I also discovered I’m a High Sensation Seeker (HSS) as well. Sensation Seeking is another strong personality trait. Having both traits HSP and HSS is a very rare combination. But in my case it totally makes sense. HSS are people who are looking for experiences and feelings that are novel, complex and intense. Already when I was a child I liked to be with nature and was always seeking for new hideouts. I joined the local junior fire brigade and got very interested to become a fireman. In the beginning of my twenties I did a recreational pilot license and was very passionate about flying. Discovering bike travelling was the best thing for me. With this adventurous activity I can satisfy the HSS side in me very well.  It sounds crazy, but for me it’s true: I can cycle with a fully loaded bike through Istanbul, Tehran, Mumbai or Bangkok and feel very euphoric about it, but get stressed out if I have to do some shopping at the local mall. Having this knowledge being an HSP and HSS is priceless for me. It changes my life. Finally, I know who I am. For a happy life I have to take care of both traits in me and make sure they are in balance.

Why I’m writing about all this here? In my opinion this topic needs more awareness. A month ago I never heard of these terms before. I’ve never met someone who said he is a HSP. Nobody in my family is a HSP. No therapist or doctor ever mentioned to me I could be a HSP. I think there are still many people out who may questioning themselves what’s wrong with them and not knowing that they maybe highly sensitive. The HSP trait was only revealed 20 years ago. It’s not only affects humans, it’s also been proven in over 100 species. There is a evolutionary reason why some of us are highly sensitive. At some point I was thinking it would be great if 100% of the population would be HSP then we would all live in peace and harmony. But the world would not function like this, we need diversity. However I think HSP will have an important role in the future. While more and more people are getting superficial and selfish, we are here to teach them more empathy and bring back some humanity on planet earth.