Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Dear September

What to say about you? September, you are usually my fave and this year - well, you started out right, but towards the end you rapidly went downhill, weather-wise.

What's with the torrential rain lately? Our pasture is starting to get muddy already, which is at least a month too early.
We have about 6 months of that shizz coming up, September is supposed to be golden, blue-skied and sunny.

Which, to be fair, you were some of the time.
Like at the beginning of the month: We had 32 degrees Celsius, it was awesome!

There were other highlights:

A beautiful one-day roadtrip

Many dog walks

A campfire

Coffee dates

A dinner party

Brunch and drinks

But there were also some not so nice things: A bout of depression, insecurity, and the feeling of being different. The rain. Too much work. Did I mention the rain?

Haha ok, enough with the complaining. Things are already looking up, I'm doing some projects around the house (painting, gallery wall, orange door), met with a couple girlfriends the last couple days, and just had a drink handed to me by my darling husband.

Cheers!
xo Miriam
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Sunday, 29 September 2013

A cabin in the woods

 
It's the very last day of Blogtember. What a fun challenge, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I skipped two days (the creative writing challenge and the facebook one), but I'm still pretty proud.
It was actually way harder than I thought it would be - everyday life is such a demanding biatch, with no understanding for one's blogging needs. So it's mixed feelings today: I'm partly sad that it's over, but also relieved. Feels a bit like the last day of school.

The best thing about this month? Meeting so many new bloggy friends! I'm always excited to find fun new blogs, and I found plenty through this challenge. So thank you Jenni!

Okay, let's get cracking. Here is today's prompt:
Share a photo of something old. Maybe something that has personal history for you, that was passed down to you, and that has special meaning to you. Tell us about it and why it's special.

I had several ideas. First, I wanted to share a photo of Richard, my husband. He's old (I'm saying this in a loving way, but facts are facts), and he's the dearest and best part of my life.
Then I took a few photos of children's books (Pippi Longstocking, Ronia Robbersdaughter, Jim Button) that I have loved and treasured ever since I was young.
I also considered a little teddy bear that a friend made for me when I passed my driver's test and that was riding with me for many years in various cars.

But, for whatever reason, I wasn't really feeling any of them. So I stepped away from my computer, watched a couple episodes of The Big Bang Theory, until I felt more inspired. Thanks Sheldon Cooper and Penny! Can I get a 'Soft Kitty'?
I can't find the source for this image - it's all google's fault. What don't you understand about "wood cabin by stream"?
Yup, this is what I came up with. More of a sentiment than an actual object.
These kinda cards have been secret obsessions of mine since the time I still believed in Santa. Looking at them always makes me wish for my own cabin in the woods by a stream, and a simpler life.

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When you want something in life, you are supposed to visualize it, picture yourself having and doing it. These cards are my mini vision boards. I would like to live even more in nature than we do now. Somewhere where you sit on your front porch, and see deer in the distance. Where you hear wolves howl in in the distance (a long distance please) at night. Where you can take the horses for a little ride in the evening without having to load them in the trailer first.

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I'm a bit of a Christmas Grinch, mainly because I dislike the commercialism around it. But these pictures? They make me dream of a white Christmas, with a roaring fire, family and friends gathered around the table, and the child-like joy of believing in miracles again.

Peace out Blogtember! It was a blast.

Miriam
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Friday, 27 September 2013

Weekly highlights: Nature with a dash of city

How can I describe last week? Basically with one word: blues.
For whatever reason I was feeling blue. Can't blame the weather (SO gorgeous), or the hubster (just a peach), or people at work (everybody behaving themselves), so work itself must be the culprit.
Or life in general? Hormones? I also blame it on the season finale of Dexter which I found thoroughly unsatisfying. Didn't like it one bit.

But yesterday brought a definite change for the better, so things are looking up :)
And, like I said, the weather is just 'zum Helden zeugen'. (Translation: to father heroes. Don't ask.)

*Disclaimer: This week's pictures are heavy on nature. It was either that or hospital pics. You're welcome.

Friday, September 20th
My typical days these days: BWW. Blog, walk, work.

Saturday, September 21st
Yes, miracles do happen. Once in a blue moon, we brush off the hay, clean ourselves up, and venture out to the big city. The occasion this time? Our friend Jonathan wrote a book! And he did a book signing in Vancouver.
It's a mystery/P.I-story/romance/witty adventure all rolled into one.
I've just started reading it, and it's the coolest feeling, reading a book that someone you know wrote, because I hear his voice when I read it!

Sunday, September 22nd

What to say about this day? I had picked up an extra day of work, which I obviously regretted by the time the alarm went off. Work was okay, but the interesting part was a conversation we had: about forced sterilizations on mentally and physically disabled people that happened in Canada (shocking, right??) throughout the 30s till early 70s.
I don't know how that came about, hospital workers are a strange breed; but it makes you wonder about the cruelty of humanity.
So it was that, plus the (disappointing) season finale of Dexter (who is a serial killer) - an overall odd theme for the day. Needless to say, there is no picture to document it.

Monday, September 23rd
A cow creamer/milk jug! How cool is that?? Very, my friends.

Tuesday, September 24th
We had a fantastic fire, braved some rain, drank some wine, planned our future. A perfect day, no blues to be had. (I was also off work. No work, no blues. Coincidence? I don't think so.)

Wednesday, September 25th
I know I'm jammering on about it, but just look at it: how pretty are these fall days?

Thursday, September 26th

I also can't release you into the weekend without sharing this little gem a co-worker introduced me to. Hilarious!
Don't you wish it was Wednesday now?

xo Miriam
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Thursday, 26 September 2013

10 reasons to love fall

Images found here, here, here and here
Only 2 days left of Blogtember, it's going so fast! Today's prompt is the following:
Go to a coffee shop. Order a favorite drink. Write about what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Or write about anything you'd like!

I'm interpreting this loosely, no coffee shop, but vanilla coffee at home in my living room instead of the bed (where I usually blog).
 
Here are 10 reasons why fall is awesome (in no particular order):

1. Spectacular campfires

2.  Nature is so pretty

3. Apple cider
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This is Emma's recipe from A Beautiful Mess - I haven't tried it yet, but will asap!

Needed: 4-5 cups apple juice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 ounces spiced rum (optional), cinnamon sticks and apple slices to garnish.

In a small pot heat the apple juice, spices and rum (if using) over low/medium heat. Stir often while the mixture is heating so the spices will blend into the juice (you don't want any spice clumps). Once it's hot pour into two mugs and garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks.

4. Fall fashion

Images found here, here, here and here
Layers are where it's at: flannel shirts and leather jackets, dresses and cardigans, skirts with thick sweaters and cozy scarfs - and, of course, boots. Clothing heaven!

5. Knitwear
All images found on Pinterest
Knitwear deserves a mention on its own: knit sweaters, hats and scarves are sooo cozy!

6. Crockpot
Fall is the time when I start to enjoy cooking again. In the summer I never feel like slaving away in a hot kitchen, but as soon as the leaves start to turn and there's a slight chill in the air I'm in the mood for stews, soups, and roast chicken. One of my favourite slow cooker recipes is chicken stew with rosemary dumplings (from the cookbook 300 slow cooker favorites):
Soup:
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 cups chicken stock, divided
1 cup frozen peas

Dumplings:
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten

1. In a heavy plastic bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. In batches, add chicken pieces to flour mixture and toss to coat.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until brown on all sides. Set aside.
3. Add carrots, celery, onion and rosemary to slow cooker stoneware. Set chicken pieces over vegetables.
4. Pour 1/2 cup stock into skillet and cook over medium-high heat, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan. Pour pan juices into slow cooker along with remaining stock.
5. Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours or on High for 4-6 hours, until vegetables are tender and stew is bubbling. Add peas and stir gently to combine.
6. Dumplings: In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, rosemary and salt. Ina measuring cup, combine milk and egg. Mix well and add to flour mixture. Stir with a fork to make a lumpy dough (do not overmix, lumps are fine). Drop dumpling mixture over chicken pieces. Cover and cook on High for 25-30 minutes, or until tester inserted in center of dumpling comes out clean.
Enjoy!

 7. Candles
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Is there anything more romantic than candle light?
Nope, I didn't think so either.

8. Downton Abbey
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I'm deeply jealous of anyone living in the UK right now because the 4th season of Downton Abbey started there. We will have to wait until the new year before we get to see it, and I can hardly wait!
I simply love this show, and Maggie Smith alone is totally worth watching it, she's marvelous.

9. Hunting/camping

Rich and I both love being outside, and we both like fresh deer meat. A match made in heaven!

10. Mulled wine
Images found here and here
That's the traditional drink you get at a German Christmas market. There's nothing better to warm you up than a steaming mug of hot, spiced wine!

What do you love about fall?

Love, Miriam
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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

My biggest mistake

I skipped yet another day of Blogtember yesterday - I didn't review anything. Oops! As an easy copout (and because my type A personality can't handle missing two topics - I also skipped the creative writing one), here is one I wrote a while ago: Paths of Glory, a book and audiobook review. Two in one, I hope that makes up for not posting a new one yesterday.

Moving on to today's theme: Write about a time you screwed up - a mistake you made.

Generally I'm a firm believer that all mistakes are lessons to be learned and should not be regretted.

However.

There is one mistake I make over and over, and it really bothers me.
I let other people influence my happiness.

It is weirdly important to me that people like me. And when I feel like they don't then I think something is wrong with me. I've been working on this for years now, and sometimes I think I'm getting the hang of not caring what people think - but then someone unfriends me on facebook and I'm hurt. Pathetic, I know, and I actually typed and erased this a few times - but I might as well admit to it. Does anybody else feel like that or is it just me?

I hate the thought that friends might talk bad about me. I know I can't change it and it shouldn't bother me, but it does. Bummer.
You should see my Pinterest board just sayin' - it is filled with motivational stuff like this one:
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So yeah, that's the mistake I make over and over again.
But I'm working on it.

I guess I've been in a bit of a funk the last couple of days. Two angsty posts in a row? Yikes! I promise tomorrow's will be happier.

Love always, Miriam
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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Being different

For the last few days, random thoughts have been swirling around in my head, getting louder and louder, wanting to get out so I can find some inner peace again.
So I oblige, and here they come. I let my thoughts direct my fingers, without thinking or planning too much - let's see where they will lead us, shall we?
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If my husband wouldn't absolutely despise tattoos, this would be on my body now. As a reminder, a confirmation, a positive affirmation.

You see, I have always felt a bit different. Different from the people around me.
That feeling is what led me out of Germany, a country that doesn't feel like home, despite being born there and having lived in it for 23 years.
That feeling also made me feel restless and incomplete with perfectly nice, age-appropriate boyfriends who were sweet and even wanted to marry me.
That feeling made me retreat from girlfriends whose lives I can't relate to.
That feeling has made me feel like an outsider many times.
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We tell our kids that being different is good. Be unique, be yourself, don't worry about what others say. I say these things all the time to one of my girls who is the most unique, special and beautiful person I know.

But you know what? It's f**ing hard sometimes.
It's a struggle that makes you feel lonely, and strange, and doubtful. Is something wrong with me? Why can't I just be like the rest of them? Wouldn't life be easier that way?

It may feel great on the good days.
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You feel proud and unique and you own it. You are a role model to all the young kids out there, teaching them to find their own path.

But.

On the not-so-good-days, the days when you feel vulnerable and not so great about yourself and full of doubt, then it's hard. Being in a group of friends and feeling like an outsider.
Looking at other people's lives and feeling like your own life is backwards.

I was a part-time mother to school-aged kids when I was 23 years old. Picking them up from school I was terrified of the other mothers because I felt like a fraud. (Plus large groups of women frighten me.)
We have friends whose kids are my age and I can't even talk to them because I feel that we have nothing in common.

Our wedding was a sad little affair with every guest expecting it not to last. Happiest day of our lives? Oh no, far from it.

I have parents that are so indifferent it hurts. They never call. They don't know much about our life. About my job (x-ray technologist) my mom told me: "They could pay me a million bucks and I wouldn't wanna do it."
I envy everybody who has a close relationship with their parents. Who can call their mom or dad their best friend. It is so special! Don't treat it like something ordinary, because it isn't.
(No worries that they will read this - they don't read my blog. Think it's weird that I have one.)

When co-workers are planning their weddings, I always feel both too old (I've been married almost 9 years) and too inept to participate.
I know a happy marriage is a million times more important than a beautiful wedding. I do. And I treasure our marriage more than anything else in my life.
But, once in a blue moon, envy and self-pity rear their ugly heads and I feel the urge to whine come on. Sorry about that, and I promise I stop now.

Hmm, I veered off topic for a bit. That happens if you let your emotions free rein without thinking first.

But it needed to come out. Because I feel here, in this blogiverse, I'm not alone. There are lots of bloggers who know what I mean. Who feel different too. Who are self-described nerds. Who blog because you belong to a community of like-minded individuals.
Even if we are mostly proud of being different, everybody wants to belong somewhere.
And we belong to this. Even though it's virtual it's also real, because there are real people sitting behind their laptops somewhere, writing about real lives, and about their struggles and insecurities.

Writing it all down is cathartic. It's like a major clean-up, it organizes your thoughts and emotions, and quiets the restless mind.

And it makes you realize the good things about being different:
It made me find my husband, the love of my life. He loves that I'm different from other women.
It made me find my way to Canada, a country that is my home now.
It made me a stepmom, and find a new family I treasure and love.
It made me realize that age really is just a number. I honestly don't care how old someone is, and generally feel most comfortable with people older than me. The older you get the less you care about what others think, and I strive to be like that one day.
It makes me connect with interesting, special people, even if it is just for a short little while sometimes.
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Do you feel different sometimes? Have you grown to love it? Resent it? I would love to hear your stories!

xo Miriam
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Monday, 23 September 2013

Life lately

 Dog walks...
... where I see pretty flowers...
... and falling leaves
Playing around with the Cymera app
Waiting for these ModCloth dresses to arrive
Reading and listening to Harry Potter...
... in front of the fire...
... with a steaming cup of tea...
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... contemplating a new haircut.
 
What have you been up to lately?
 

Blogtember
xoxo Miriam
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Friday, 20 September 2013

Is there such a thing as being too comfortable?

Hi there blog challenge, did you miss me yesterday? I unashamedly skipped a day. Did not feel in a creative writing mood whatsoever, was pressed for time, and had more urgent things to write about, like being pressed for time. Sorry about that.

It's a dangerous thing, skipping: Once you've done it and experienced how deliciously wrong it feels, you wanna do it again. That's how I ended up skipping more days than I attended in grade 12 and getting into HUGE trouble with my parents. Massive. Not a fun time at all. Don't do it kids.

So that's why I'm back at it today to react to this term: comfort.
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Hmm. My first reaction is: warm, cozy, soft, pleasant.
But then, not far behind is my second reaction: complacent, boring, restless.

Is there such a thing as being too comfortable? I think there is. There is no progress and development, no personal growth when one is too comfortable.

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When people get too comfortable they often also get dissatisfied. We need challenges to overcome, because that gives us a sense of accomplishment and pride.
That rush of adrenaline you get when you try something new, maybe something you have been afraid of, is what makes life exciting. It makes you feel alive!

I think comfort is way too overrated in our Western society. The whole sweatpants-, la-z-boy-, drive-thru-society we live in does us no favours in my opinion. Are people happier because of it?
I doubt it. We are bored. Life gets too easy and people get restless. We try to fill that blah feeling with stuff: New toys, clothes, furniture, Netflix. We love watching shows where people have to overcome hardships and fight their way through obstacles.

Why? Because it makes for good entertainment. And also, we secretly wish that once in a while, our lives would be a bit more like that. More exciting. Less predictable. More worthwhile.

I remember a whole bunch of moments when I had that proud, accomplished feeling: Making it down a hill on skis for the first time in 10 years - no falling! (That came later.)
Crossing a river on horseback and being - first: terrified, then: thrilled and oh-so-proud.
As a newbie at work, getting a difficult case and managing to do a good job all by myself.
Public speaking (which always makes me wanna die a bit) - and surviving.
Admitting an uncomfortable truth - and getting an outpouring of support. (I love you all for it!)

But despite all that, I'm always in danger of forgoing the discomfort in favour of comfort. Comfort is alluring, it's safe, it's - well, comfortable. So easy to give in to. But I want to remember the times when I stepped out of my comfort zone, how thrilling and satisfying that felt!
I want to experience that again.
Here is to living life more adventurously!

Love, Miriam
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