Thursday, April 14, 2016

I want out of this box

I woke this morning staring at the painting my husband's grandma painted many years ago. It is of a house one might find in a small town of Germany, surrounded by luscious green, a small fence, and a blue sky above. We talked about the house, what it would be like to sit on a bench outside taking in the sights and sounds and breathing in the warm and sweet summer air.

This painting is yet another reminder of my desire to break out of my box. When I left Germany, I left behind the only place I would call home. I uprooted myself, and I can't imagine there being another place in this world, where I feel the way I do in Germany. But, it seems that with this move came a Wanderlust, that I cannot explain. Even within Germany I moved around during my early 20s, like someone who just cannot rest. In the States I lived in Arizona for 6 and a half years. It was mostly the weather, that drew me and my family to Oregon. But, when we packed our bags and hit the road, that old familiar feeling of Wanderlust just washed over me.

And here I am, 10 years after settling down in Portland, and I feel stuck and unhappy... never really belonging anywhere. Sure, I made friends, some very, very good friends, whom I would miss if I left. But this feeling of being stuck remains. And what's worse, I feel stuck in society, stuck with the expectation to do my part, to raise children and send them down the same path I took. After all, why are we here if not to take our place and keep this machine running?

What if we just left "our place" and just did our own thing? Who would notice? And really, who would care? What keeps us from truly pursuing our happiness as we see it rather than what we are told to see? Won't we be looking back some day wondering what the hell we did all our lives? And how much regret will there be?

Or, and this is what really worries me, will we be so numb from the daily grind, that we quietly accept our place inside this box, and will that be our "normal" that will not be questioned and therefore there won't be room for regrets?

Why do we wait for the next phase of our lives rather than to pull ourselves out of this rut that is our reality? Why hope that someday all will be well? What makes it all well? It is for US to decide, not for us to wait it out and see what happens someday down the road.

I want out of this box.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Teenagers have entered the building

Teenagers, I'm convinced, are a different species altogether. They pose as humans, but they are really some sort of alien species, possessing the bodies of our sweet little angel kids with the sole purpose of testing parents how much aggravation we can handle. Naturally, this is the time, during which we as parents grow our most grey hair, our need for alcoholic beverages increases by 500%, and we question our own sanity on a daily basis.

I have two teenagers in my home nowadays. Remember those days when I spoke about the Blue Eyed Boy and the Toothless Fairy. I made the decision not to name them right now. I shall refer to them as T1 and T2 from here on out.

T1 is 15 and I swear I don't know this person. T1 will take ANYTHING you say and turn it around on you and you won't even know how it happened. Case in point: we sit in the car. T1 talks about rough skin on chin and thinks it may come from the acne product she uses that dries out her skin. I recommend using coconut oil at night. T1 states that coconut oil doesn't work. It dries her skin out further. I reply, "Okay." I am calm, relaxed, driving. And now watch, as this situation escalates and shit hits the fan.
T1 snaps, "You don't have to use that tone on me." I'm sitting, grabbing my steering wheel a little tighter.
"T1," I say, "I simply said okay."
"But it's the tone you used. You're being so rude."
"I was perfectly calm, T1. I said okay. You decided you didn't want to use coconut oil. So be it. I just made a recommendation."
"Of course! It's all about you, isn't it! God, Mom, why do you have to make it about you?"
"I don't understand the problem. Why are you yelling at me?"
"Oh, right, now I'm the bad guy. I'm the problem child. Geez!"

Here is where I'm making my crucial mistake. Instead of being quiet I point out to her, that she was the one to escalate the conversation, and that I was completely unprepared for what just happened. Now, T1 flips out. She is convinced I'm being condescending, mean, rude, and I don't take her problems seriously.
I swear, I feel a hair going grey right now, this instant, as I'm grabbing my steering wheel with sweaty palms. I have the desire to go home and pour a glass of Bourbon and curl up in a ball.

Of course there is a reason for this behavior. And that is, why I as the adult have to be... well... the grown up in the relationship and wait it out. Want to know more about the teenage brain, click here and here.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Therapy

I never thought I'd need therapy someday. I always considered myself one of those happy go lucky kind of people. Well, sometimes life throws you lemons, and instead of making lemonade, I have been unable to dodge the damn lemons. They hit me hard and left their marks, and well, when the world looks grey and bleak and you just can't pull yourself out of it, regardless of the gorgeous Portland spring weather, then maybe it's time to go get some therapy.

What's interesting about this experience is, that I instantly liked and trusted my therapist. There was not even a moment at the very beginning where I thought, no way, I'm not telling her the story of my life. No! As a matter of fact, as soon as my butt hit that cushioned chair and she told me that no matter what I'm telling her, it will stay between the two of us, I started bawling my eyes out and talked and talked and talked. I felt completely safe, and perfectly happy to talk about my life to this woman I had just met. My hour passed too quickly, and I only scratched the surface. There is so much to talk about, so much to reflect on, and I'm already counting the days until I go back.

I'm not sure what the outcome is going to be ultimately. I expect I'll be meeting this woman a lot in the next few months. I'm guessing she'll ask a lot of questions, I'll tell a lot of stories... But what comes next? Will just talking somehow make it all better, make it all go away? Will she have a magic trick up her sleeve that will help me put these things behind me? I really don't have a clue. All I know is that I want to go back and cry some more. Something tells me I have a lot more crying in me.

How does a psychologist do this, I ask myself. When I walked in, she was with another patient, when I walked out, the next patient had just arrived. How does this woman listen to all of these stories all day long and manage to show just enough caring support to come across as though she really cares without caring so much that she takes all of this baggage home with her at night? I have to admire people like her, and I am truly grateful to have found this particular person for me.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

R.I.P Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey's family posted this on their announcement of his death. How beautiful and fitting.








“It’s Your World Now”
Written by Glenn Frey and Jack Tempchin
From the Eagles’ Long Road Out of Eden album
A perfect day, the sun is sinkin’ low
As evening falls, the gentle breezes blow
The time we shared went by so fast
Just like a dream, we knew it couldn’t last
But I’d do it all again
If I could, somehow
But I must be leavin’ soon
It’s your world now
It’s your world now
My race is run
I’m moving on
Like the setting sun
No sad goodbyes
No tears allowed
You’ll be alright
It’s your world now
Even when we are apart
You’ll always be in my heart
When dark clouds appear in the sky
Remember true love never dies
But first a kiss, one glass of wine
Just one more dance while there’s still time
My one last wish: someday, you’ll see
How hard I tried and how much you meant to me
It’s your world now
Use well your time
Be part of something good
Leave something good behind
The curtain falls
I take my bow
That’s how it’s meant to be
It’s your world now
It’s your world now
It’s your world now

Monday, January 18, 2016

When everything just falls into place

I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 15 years. My world has pretty much always revolved around my kids. We made a conscious decision to homeschool our kids. My job was to show my kids what education is, how to get them excited about learning things, and of course to drive them to the many homeschool classes and activities over the years.

I have never lost myself in that time. I always somehow managed to have a life away from the kids. I took writing classes, wrote a book, wrote countless articles, worked for a paleo website, and finally went to school to study Nutritional Therapy. I became a CrossFit athlete, ran a number of races, including my first marathon last year, and stayed active in so many ways.

And yet, the biggest change in my life has just happened last month, when I took on a full time job as the nutritionist at a doctor's office. My kids are now teens, and while they continue to homeschool, they don't need me much. As a matter of fact, in the last month they proved that they don't need me at all. They take care of their stuff, they still go to their classes. We have friends driving them. Years of poking them to get going, to make their lunches, to get their stuff done, have resulted in my teens being perfectly capable young people taking care of themselves. Well, I guess it does help that there is a dad around who works from home.

I love my new job. It is fulfilling, my coworkers and boss rock, the money is right (I make real money!!), and things just kind of fell into place. You might say, it was meant to be. Nutrition is a truly rewarding field, and combined with modern medicine, it is extremely powerful.

Having said that, I miss my kids. I miss seeing them in the morning. Even when we have arguments about supposedly silly things, I still miss seeing their faces. I miss hugging their sleepy, warm bodies, and to stroke their cheeks. And I am confirmed that I took exactly the right path. I may not be making a shitload of money, although I'm quite happy with my salary. But what's more important, I can say from the bottom of my heart that I really know my children. I have spent so much precious time with them. I really did see them grow up, was there for all their challenges and accomplishments. I know just how lucky this makes me.

And so, even as I miss them now, I make a bigger effort to spend quality time with them at night. This is partly why I started drawing. It gives me a reason to be with them, sit around a table, draw, laugh, listen to music, talk about the day. I love that I have no regrets.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fear of failure... fear of success

I have grown up in a world where every piece of information was force fed to me either by teachers or by other adults, superiors, people with authority. In 7th grade I was told by a teacher that my desire to be a writer was bullshit because I was 1) a girl and 2) writing was no profession in which anyone could thrive and make a living.
Well, obviously we know this not to be the truth. Plenty of writers make a good living with their writing. And no, I am not one of them. I am actually a pretty decent writer, even in the English language which is only my second language after German. I've written several pieces and even a book and had plenty of positive feedback from family and friends.

However, and I believe, this is the real problem, I am actually full of fear. I am desperately afraid of failure. The "what ifs" haunt me every time I submit an article to a magazine. I have plenty of published articles, so one would think that I could finally get rid of my fear of failure. But the truth is, I'm actually fearing success as much as I fear failure... and sadly, I don't have an answer for why. I've asked myself many times, and I cannot figure it out. If you have an answer for me, I welcome it. Just be aware, that I monitor comments and will not approve any spam comments on this blog. :)

Anyway, I have been wanting to try something new for a while. I have always wanted to be able to draw. But so far, every time I gave it a try, it looked like the drawing of a 6 year old. I'm not joking. I guess it's understandable. How are you supposed to be good something you've never learned? Two days ago, my husband and I went to Michael's for our daughter who is quite the little artist, if I say so myself. I stood in the aisle with all the drawing supplies for a good 15 minutes trying to talk myself in or out of purchasing a drawing kit. It's just a basic set of pencils, a pen, an eraser, a sketchbook, and a small book with some instructions. It must have been quite the sight for others... this woman having conversations with herself (and her husband) about why she should or shouldn't purchase the silly kit. This whole conversation was, of course, due to my fear running my life. I did end up buying the kit, and at night I sat down at the dining room table and started drawing, all while badmouthing my art. "That's the ugliest pear I've ever seen." "This doesn't look like an apple." "Weird window."
I was not only getting on my own nerves with my self-destructive talk. I also annoyed the heck out of my 15 year old daughter, who, upon seeing the result of my drawings gave me a piece of her mind.
"This is so great! What is your problem?" she said in a very teen anger voice, that would have normally made me not take her so seriously. But, she was totally right. For someone who has never drawn anything but stick figures, my attempts at creating art were actually not half bad.

I am a woman in her 40s. What on Earth needs to happen for me to lose my fear? Am I really just the product of my upbringing, and why wouldn't I try a little harder to shake this fear? It could only make my life better and my experiences richer. And really, who reaches the end of their life and asks themselves "I wish, I'd had more fear and tried fewer things."

Yes, the picture is of my very first drawings. There you go, world! :)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why do I have to be politically correct all the time?

I just read the headline of an article, saying it is dangerous to tell someone they look great after they've lost a lot of weight. The first few lines of the article were something like, "it might be a person who has severe insecurities and feels terrible about themselves".

I'm also reading articles about how you should never ask an introvert this or that question, how you can't tell a gay person x, you can't say y to a Chinese person, you can't say z to a homeschool person. The internet is full of such advice columns!

Don't get me wrong, I am in full agreement, that there needs to be some sense of politeness in a conversation. People should use their manners when talking to others, and sure, you sometimes need to think twice before you something like, "Oh hey, I see this ugly bump on your face, what the heck?" But honestly, out of fear of offending someone, do I really have to keep my mouth shut all the time?
Maybe, I really do want to know, "How and when did you know you were gay?" or "Why on Earth would anyone homeschool their child?" or "What does it feel like to be Chinese in America, when we have such bad things to say about China?"

Learning happens through conversation. I want to understand why people do what they do, why they feel a certain way. I want to tell someone, "Hey, you lost a shit load of weight. You look great!" And if they come back to me and tell me, "You know, it's because I have cancer and I'm undergoing treatment." or "The truth is, I'm throwing up after every meal." (This may not happen... but it may!), then I have the opportunity to be supportive, helpful, caring... and even apologetic. It's what makes me human. It just may be the conversation we need to have that helps me understand, or that helps them talk about something that might otherwise never be discussed.

Yes, sometimes I might be stepping on someone's toe. And I truly am sorry when that happens. But I would argue that a heartfelt apology on my part will usually repair what has been broken... if it has in fact been broken.