Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Best of October

I like lists. They help me get my mind in order, and is there anything more satisfying than crossing completed tasks off? I didn't think so.
Then there are the lists that highlight the little special moments: Best of the week, season, year... so how come I have never done a proper best of the month??
I'm as baffled as you are. But all this is changing right now!

As of today, I will post a little blurb monthly about some of the best things that happened that month.
To give it some sort of order I decided on the number 9; mainly because I like squares (instagram, cinnamon squares, stickygrams), and I figure it should be possible to find 9 nice things every month, right? We will see how that goes.

Without further ado: Best of October!


1 This month I continued with some of my home projects. In September I painted the living room and kitchen, and at the beginning of October I did our stairwell. All in bright white, with my long wished for gallery wall. They are all pictures from the farm, and all but 3 (Sasha took those) photographed my me.

2 I also painted the front door red. It was deep brown before and I used no primer, so it took me 4 coats! But I love the result.

3 The weather! Do you see the goldeness? I think we broke some records, driest and sunniest October since Expo '86 or something. If you want to read some more how I go on and on about fall, check these out: ReflectionsSaturday SnapshotsHalloween nights and Fall obsession (in cellphone pictures).

4 My hair is growing, I have a bob now! It may not seem like a big deal to you long-haired girls, but after 10+ years with a super-short pixie - it is.

5 Date night with my love, saw the great Sarah Brightman in an amazing concert. All courtesy of the kids! That made it extra special.

6 Finally, I found a background I love for this blog of mine. After a long search I found the perfect fit: It's red (I love red), cellphone-photographed (cellphone photography is my thing), and the plant is in our front yard (personal touch). Yay!

7 I was featured for a week on the Better Blogger Network. Thanks BBN!

8 We bought a new car for me! After my old one broke down quite spectacularly in the States last week we found another one that has all the requirements I need: it has a story (i.e. it's older, a 2002 to be exact), character (i.e. a wee bit of paint missing here and there), is a 4x4 for our adventurous lifestyle (i.e. it will be used 90% of the time driving around in a perimeter of 30km or so, on solidly paved roads), and the most important one: It's a Ford Escape, and I always wanted one!! I'm SO happy. Plus it has automatic windows, power locks, a CD player, a working horn, AC and ventilation, which are all things my good old Tracker didn't possess in the end (or ever). And the best part? It has a functioning engine!! This one is a keeper.

9 What's the greatest thing about October? Halloween of course! Even though my dressing up this year is limited to skull earrings and a feather mask.

Next month I will participate in another challenge, maybe only halfheartedly - it's a blog every day challenge, and those are really hard. But since the sunny fall days seem to be over for the foreseeable future (do I hear a sigh of relief that my relentless waxing on poetically about autumn and onslaught of pictures will be over now?), I thought some good old writing is just what the doctor ordered. I'm excited for it!

Party your little hearts out my freaks, witches, vampires and Mileys! This night belongs to you.

Love, Miriam
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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Alone

What is your first reaction when you read that word: alone? Do you associate it with loneliness and being scared? Or does it evoke comfortable feelings of precious 'me'-time?

I love me some alone time. Crave it, actually. Going for walks with my dog, listening to a story is one of those alone times that I need. I also enjoy walking with a friend, but it serves a different purpose. Friendships are amazing and heartwarming and precious - but those alone times are rejuvenating for the soul.
There are those quiet mornings alone at home, when Rich isn't there and I have the house to myself: Just a cup of coffee, the day ahead of me, my thoughts and the computer at my fingertips. Love those. So much.

I also love shopping by myself. If I'm really looking for something, either for myself or someone else, I like to be alone. If I'm in the right mindset it can take me hours: Picturing my closet, creating outfits in my mind with the pieces I'm trying on.
Picturing that special person I'm shopping for, imagining how and when they will use the gift I'm buying: If it's something for their home, I try to picture where they could put it. If it's clothing or jewelry, I will in my mind go through the things they like to wear to decide if they might like that piece or not.
You get the picture - I'm a (over-)thinker. But that's part of the fun for me! I can't help it.
Those are the great, treasured, positive aspects of being alone.

However, like everything in life, there is also another side: the dark, scary, lonely aspect of being alone.

I have a feeling that being alone is one of the biggest fears people have. It is deeply ingrained in us, probably from a time when humans couldn't survive on their own. Strength in numbers.

It starts from the moment we are born: Babies cry when they realize they are left alone.
The fear of being alone propels people to get married, or stay in bad relationships. It is one of the reasons people have children, so they will have someone to take care of them when they are old.

We want to create all these guarantees for our life, the promise of people always being there for us to avoid loneliness.
But is it really possible to do that? And why are we so afraid of being alone?
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That really resonated with me.

Have you ever experienced that? Feeling alone in the midst of people? I have. And it is aweful.
Human relationships can be one of the best things about life. I believe that we are not made for a solitary life - deep down every person craves human companionship.

But at the same time, it is also one of the most difficult things in life. Because dealing with people can be exhausting. And aggravating. There are people that feed off other's problems, and like to create drama, and like to make others feel inferior.

If you find yourself in a group of people that make you feel alone - well, it's just the worst feeling ever. You are sure something must be wrong with you. Why else do you feel left out and isolated?
Over the years I tried different approaches in situations like that*:
1. Fake it and pretend not to notice the crushing feeling of sadness that is threatening to spill out in form of tears: Don't do it. It will make you feel empty and exhausted and terrible. And lonelier than ever before.
2. Try to fit in and "be more like them": Being someone you are not? Didn't work for me, and I gave it the good old college try. I really, really wanted to fit in. And one day I took a good, hard look at myself and realized: I'm not true to myself. I don't like the person I'm becoming. And that was unacceptable.
3. Walk away. That's the approach that was right for me. I realized at some point that one can never be friends with everybody; that's a fact of life. Don't even try. So now I live by the simple rule: If it feels right, stay. If it doesn't, go. No shame in it.

To come back to the fear of ending up alone: I try to remember that we have the opportunity to meet new people every day. Not only when we are young - we don't have to gather up a stockpile of people now for the rest of our lives. There will always be opportunities! So I guess what's important is to keep an open mind and heart. Be kind to yourself and others, be true to yourself, and don't be afraid to spend some time alone.

*Climbing off my soapbox now.*

Love, Miriam

* This and that are my nemesis. I never know when to use which. Can anybody explain it to this German girl please?
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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Style: I wanna be a pioneer (in skinny jeans)

Honestly folks, if it were up to me I would go on and on about this beautiful, amazing, incredible autumn we are having this year. Oh wait, it is up to me! I don't want to bore you, but seriously: Could it be any more gorgeous? The answer you are looking for is no. I'm obsessed with this fall, the colours, sun, everything.
Our animals love it too, there are a lot of happy chickens, dogs, llamas, sheep and horses around! Oh, and peacocks, too. (The ducks and geese don't care either way.)

Because of a nicer than usual spring, great summer and now spectacular fall (BC, you are really bragging this year, don't ya) we have spent a ton of time outside. Which always makes us wish to live in our fictitious cabin in the woods one day. Preferably in a semi-desert climate? I wouldn't mind a bit living outside year-round. It's awesome. Cooking over an open campfire, sleeping under the stars... Actually, on second thought, I do love a comfy bed. Scratch the sleeping under the stars bit. Unless we would have a bed outside... Hmm, I will have to give that thought some serious consideration.

To make a long story short, all this was the inspiration for my outfit. Lately I keep buying hats, especially cowboy/pioneer/Western-inspired ones - for that time when we go living out in the wilderness somewhere. But I won't give up my skinnies and pretty dresses! No siree.

Boots: Target
Pants: American Eagle (last year)
Cat-T-shirt: Ross
Chambray shirt: Old Navy
Necklace: Smart Set (2 years old)
Hat: Wet Seal

xo Miriam 
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Monday, 28 October 2013

Reflections

I woke up this morning to sunny blue skies and the crisp, cool morning air wafting in. When you are snuggled up in your warm, cozy bed it is the BEST.FEELING.EVER.
 
Next step: Reaching over to my cellphone to check what happened on instagram, the blogging world, and now, on Twitter. What a happy surprise: New followers (THANK you!!) and some interaction on Twitter!
Right away I had this silly, big grin on my face. Even before coffee!

That's what I absolutely love about social media. Its ability to give you little bursts of happiness. That and the feeling you are connected, no matter where you are in the world. You could live in the middle of the forest, but as long as you have Wi-Fi, you are part of this big world. It's great.

I'm in a reflective mood today, and also feel very grateful. For the people in my life, my love, my dogs, farmlife. I'm so happy I can finally appreciate all its great points, not only see the work and inconveniences like I used to.

Life is good. Don't get me wrong, it has its rough parts, and I may or may not have cried Saturday night after our dinner party (wine makes me maudlin sometimes) about family stuff. You know how that goes.

But documenting everything like I have since March makes me take note of all the positive little things that happen every day. And there are so many of them!
Coffee in the morning in bed, with the window open.
This amazing autumn we are having.

A houseguest who cleans up for me after the party. (Kalle, you rock!)
Dogs that are overjoyed to see me - every single time I come out.
Gummy bears.
Long, lingering conversations about life over breakfast.
Trees rustling in the wind, with the sun filtering through and creating moving shadows on the living room floor.
Glitter nails.
Taking a million phone pictures.

Yup, October has been a good one.
How is fall treating you?

xo Miriam
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Saturday, 26 October 2013

Dreamchaser

Last night was special: The man and I had a proper date night! Weird, I know.
We never really do it. Go on 'dates',  I mean. Of course we do stuff together, but we don't call it a date.
But yesterday felt like one: I gussied myself up (make-up! heels! O-M-G!), Rich put on his best hat and we went into the city to a Sarah Brightman concert.

Three things are special about this:
1. Our kids bought us the tickets for Christmas last year. They were great seats, 2nd row!
2. We never go to the city. It takes a lot for us to make the trek there. Especially on a Friday night.
3. Rich and I used to listen to Sarah Brightman, Russell Watson, and another few opera-inspired singers when we went on road trips. That sort of music always makes us happy.

Please excuse the crappy quality of these phone pictures. I don't really have an excuse. They are bad.  
Here is the thing: We both weren't really in the mood. Tired, it had been a long day, yadyadyada.

We made it in just fine, found parking not too far away, and were in our seats with 10 minutes to spare. Perfect.

And then the curtain opened...


... and it was magical. SO good! One of the few concerts where I was sad when it was over, I could have easily listened for another hour.
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It was outer space inspired (which was awesome for StarTrek-fan Rich) with a fantastic light show.

The absolute highlight for me? This:
(This video is NOT from last night, but it's from the same tour.)

It was a great night! How was your Friday?

xoxo Miriam
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Friday, 25 October 2013

Weekly highlights: the 3 F's

Once again it's Friday. Only 9 more left this year! How fast this year is whizzing by is beyond me.
But enough of that old folk talk.
Last week was filled with fog, friends, and family. It was a good one!


Friday, October 18th
The fog created this mystical, spooky atmosphere that I thoroughly enjoyed. I also wrote about it here.

Saturday, October 19th
Saturday was a day where I cooked, walked, painted, took snapshots, and watched a movie with Rich. Wild, I know. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, October 20th
For the first time in - how long has it been, 8 month? - I did a yoga DVD. Bob Harper's Yoga for the Warrior, to be exact. Oh boy did he kick my out-of-shape behind!
Oh, and I also (re-)joined Twitter!

Monday, October 21st
I was so sore from the workout that I complained a lot, took a hot bath, and then limped off to work.

Tuesday, October 22nd
Met a friend for lunch, which meant I got to wear a dress! Polka dots make me happy.

Wednesday, October 23rd
The day where I went shopping with my daughter, our car broke down and we experienced some outstanding human kindness.
Also, our friend Karl-Heinz from Germany arrived! He will stay with us for 2 weeks. Yay!

Thursday, October 24th
Went for a long (8km!) walk with my friend, her baby and my Snowy. The weather couldn't have been any more gorgeous, the company was lovely, and we had a good talk as always.

Today will be busy: I'm gonna prep for tomorrow where we have the kids and a few friends come over for a belated Thanksgiving dinner. And tonight we will go to the big city for a concert. Which is unusual for us! So I'm excited.

What have you planned for the weekend?

xo Miriam
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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Adventures and kindness

Do you believe in human kindness?
I do. Especially after yesterday! Here is a little story I would like to share with you that demonstrates how kind people can be.

But let's start at the beginning.
Yesterday was the day for Stef's and mine annual shopping trip. This tradition started three years ago when I wasn't quite sure what to buy for her 19th birthday, and invited her to go shopping with me instead. We had so much fun that it became an annual thing.

It was a gorgeous day - fall is a real show-off these days, and after a few days of dense fog the sun shone brilliantly. We always go over to the States, because of their great deals, it feeling more like an adventure (you get to cross a border!), and because of Ross. We love Ross.

We had lunch, shopped for a few hours, and then started heading back towards home.

That's where the trouble started. I was cruising along at a comfortable 60 mph or so when my car suddenly started to slow down. My foot was still on the gas, but the car got slower and slower. So I pulled over and turned it off. When I tried to start it, it didn't work.
Now I don't know about you ladies, but I know NOTHING about cars. Zero. I can fill it up with gas, wiper fluid and oil, and that's it.
Not good. I tried again, and again nothing. At that point (maybe a minute in?) I noticed 3 people waving at us from across the road. Which is a busy state highway. One of them yelled over: "Do you need help?", with me responding: "I don't know, I think so!".
So one of the guys started making his way over to us, which involved having to cross one side of the highway, hopping a fence in the center and then crossing the other side of the highway. I couldn't believe it!

We explained what the problem was, and he tried to get the car running again, but it didn't work. It's an old clunker with tons of miles on it (over 200,000) and a motor we had put in a few months ago that we got for $500 from a junk yard. 'Nuff said.

While our friendly helper was still poking around I called my hubby (aka "the hero") who is great in emergencies. There is no-one I'd rather be in a tricky spot with than him. He stays cool, calm and collected, and usually figures out a solution rather quickly. Once again, he didn't disappoint. He organized his friend Wayne (who has a flatbed trailer) and promised us to be there in an hour.

In the meantime, our helper's buddy and a third person, a very nice girl named Sarah, had come over to lend moral support. They helped us push the car to a safer spot, and after making sure that the rescue team was on its way, departed. But not without offering us to come to their house if we want to! So sweet. I was really touched.
Stef and I spent a very pleasant hour and a half (Rich is never on time) chatting, munching on some bread, and enjoying the view.

The rest was easy: The heroes arrived, we pushed my car up on to the trailer (with the help of the helper's buddy, who crossed the highway one more time just to give us a hand - I love WA people!), and drove back home.

The moral of this story? Our little mishap actually made the day better. What could have been a negative experience was such a positive one!
Granted, we did have the best case scenario: Beautiful weather, a great view, not far from home, the best company, and daylight. It may have felt a bit different in the depth of winter, when you are freezing, it's raining and dark and scary.

But as it was it was a beautiful life-affirming experience. Thank you SO much nice WA people who selflessly helped us, thank you Wayne for dropping everything to come to our rescue, and of course, I can't even imagine living a life with no Rich in it. I can't.

And my partner in crime took it in her stride with no freak-out, even though she had to go to work later that night! Which she managed to get to just under the wire.
Success!

With a heart overflowing with gratitude,
Miriam
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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

5 things I have learned about blogging

I've joined Twitter! Two days ago. Yes, I know, I'm waaay behind. I'm one of those people who are deeply distrustful of any new invention: Didn't get my first smart phone until 2 years ago, I still drive a car where you have to manually lock and unlock the doors (don't even get me started on those fob thingies - how can you trust a car that drives without a key?? It's beyond me), and don't own anything from Apple. This is an i-free zone.
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The picture has nothing to do with this post. Except that I like it. And, you know, it has pumpkins in it and a bird.
Bird for Twitter? Pumpkins for October? Let's go with that.  

Actually, to be completely honest here, I did try out Twitter shortly after it first came out (in 2006, can you believe it?), but without a phone or laptop to use it (and not really knowing who to follow) I gave it up pretty quickly. Can you imagine having to log on to your desktop computer for a tweet?
Yup, it's awkward.
Well anyways, the whole point of this spiel is that I've finally re-joined the movement, and enjoying a whole new world of stalking possibilities. In case you want to stalk back (please do!), click here.

And this leads me to my first point about blogging.
I don't want to claim that I know a whole lot about it (I don't), but I love it so much. After 7 months and 7 days (not that I'm counting) I enjoy it more than ever. It's my little heaven on earth, this place here, and it makes me very happy. But before I get sidetracked yet again, here are the 5 things I have learned so far:

1. Network your little heart out.
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Seasoned bloggers can't stress enough how essential networking is. And also how much they enjoy it, how you can create real relationships and friendships from blogging.

I started very slowly, and focused more on just writing for a few months. That's what felt right to me. Then I sponsored a couple blogs, and I really recommend it: You build new relationships, get more traffic, find new blogs.
It's fun and not expensive (unless you want to sponsor some of the really big blogs).
Now I signed up for Twitter because I keep hearing what a great networking tool it is. It may take me a while to figure out how to properly utilize it, but I will get there!


2. Engage with your audience.

That one I'm sure you all have heard time and time again, but it is so important. Respond to comments. Visit other people's blogs, and if you like it leave a nice, non-generic comment for them. The other blogger most likely is like you in that regard, it will brighten their day just as much as it does yours!  Be grateful and appreciative and tell your readers once in a while.

3. Do whatever feels right to you, ignore "the rules".

Yes, this is my rebellious piece of advice to you! I tried so very hard to find a category in the beginning. To "brand" myself.
And I couldn't really fit into any of them (you can read about it here). For a while there I was disheartened and doubted myself. What does it say about me if I can't even find a proper place to fit in?
I'm interested in a lot of things (books, clothes, dogs, photography, inspirational stuff, thinking about life in general, road trips, yoga), but I don't know enough about any of these things to educate other people or ever do tutorials.  I'm not a 20-something blogger. (Missed that boat by 4 years.) Not a mommy blogger. Not a DIYer. And so on... you get the drift. So I followed the advice of older and wiser people: Follow your heart, do what's right for you.
I post whenever the fancy strikes, don't have a "set program", don't try to do whatever is popular right now. It just wouldn't work for me. Stay true to yourself!

4. FORGET ABOUT THE NUMBERS!

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Yes, shouty caps are in order. It can suck the life and fun out of it if you get too worried about followers, page views, and all that jazz. I have seen several bloggers take breaks, be discouraged, or even give up blogging because of it.
There have been days where it made me feel like a failure when I lost a follower, or the number seemed stuck.
You know what really helped me get over that? Learning that everybody out there feels the same way. It was such an eye opener! That one doesn't only apply to blogging, it applies to life in general: All those fears you have, the things you worry about and insecurities that make you feel insignificant? Other people have them too.
And not only a select few. Nope. Every single person you will ever meet is afraid of something, has lost something and loves something. (I read that on pinterest once and really, really like it.)
For some reason, that realization took the stress away for me. And I hope it will for you, too!

5. Enjoy it!

Simple, but the most important part. If you have fun with your blog, it will shine through. And after all, that's the reason why we started, right?

My first GIF. This is supposed to showcase pure joy.  
What pieces of advice do you have about blogging?

xoxo Miriam
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Monday, 21 October 2013

Style: Booties

I like a bargain as much as the next girl. And the other day I hit the jackpot: cute booties, black, with studs, comfy, and in my size: $19.00!
Target is the best. They were just sitting by themselves on the shelf, all by their lonesome, the last pair left. They were calling for me! Begging me to take them home. I couldn't refuse.
I love rescuing the last pair of shoes: that's happened to me three times now (a pair of snake print ballet flats; a pair of dark blue high heels), and I think it's my calling.
Somebody's got to do it. :-)
Booties: Target
Tights: Smart Set
Dress: found in a small shop in London
Jean jacket: American Eagle 
Scarf: bought in Germany
Sunnies: American Eagle

xo Miriam
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Saturday, 19 October 2013

Saturday snapshots

This Saturday is a cozy one: I cooked breakfast (didn't wear any pants, oops), went for a nice long walk, painted the front door red (I think it needs a couple more coats), and now we are lazing around on the couch. Lovely!  

Love, Miriam
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