Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

May photos

It's the last day of May! Which just rhymed, I like it. 
I wanted to share with you the last installment of May photos. In case you missed it, the first 20 were featured in this post
Here they are again:

And that's the next 11:
 Working hands | A peacock from behind
 Ferns, Bear and a princess skirt | Happy Hour
 Baby ducks and geese | Dramatic Washington sky
 Goose family | John Irving (I reorganized our bedroom)
Best friends 1 | Best friends 2

 Backyard

See you in June!

xo Miriam

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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Style: Why is it cold again?


After a few beautifully warm and sunny days that promised an early summer, the temperature has dropped again and it rained like crazy last night. My gum boots are back in service, even though I foolishly believed that I could put them away for the season. Silly me!
The silver lining about this scenario is that I also dug up my old faithful, this fake fur vest.
I love that vest.
It makes me feel like a pioneer woman, out to gather herbs for dinner and waiting for her man to return from hunting. Never mind that I don't have a herb garden...


Hat: Pacsun (from last year); dress and fake fur vest: Winners (old); gumboots: Dunlop



Best friends.

Happy Friday!

xoxo Miriam

Linking up with Lena and Tara

P.S. Don't forget to link up this Sunday with Mariah and me at Shannon's School of Life linkup

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Being a teenager

Having to go through puberty is one of life's crueler jokes. As a rule, I try not to think about it much - it is a period of my life best left in the past. Oh, you are wondering why? Okay, you asked for it:

That's me at 15 with my first boyfriend. We were at his sister's wedding. Yes, this was my outfit for a wedding. Also, fun fact: after coming back from the bathroom, the skirt had been caught in the waistband of my tights, exposing my sticky-out bum to everybody. I walked across the full dance floor before my boyfriend saved me by pulling it out. Yes, it was the first time I had been invited to a social function of his family. Amazingly, they invited me back. 
That's me and him. Teenage love!
Our first real vacation together: we went to London. I'm 17 in these photos.
I thought I was hot sh*t. Red streak, leather pants, dressed all in black. 
The chubby phase had started. Look at that moon face! I was 19.

I saved the worst for last. Do you remember photo booths? I think they may still be around, but I haven't set foot in one in about 15 years. In case you are wondering why, here is the answer:
Worst pictures ever. I hesitated putting these up, but couldn't pass on the entertainment value. 
Fun little anecdote: The photo to the right was my passport photo. Back then we were still allowed to use photos where we creepily smiled. One time when I went through customs, the customs official laughed out loud when he saw that picture. Not very professional, now is it? I know for sure he laughed about the photo, because he then looked up and told me: "Nice picture!".  

All I can say is this: I will be eternally grateful that we didn't have cellphones with cameras back then (it was the 90s, kids). And believe it or not, nobody took their camera with them when we went out. Hard to imagine nowadays, isn't it? As you have seen for yourself, that was a huge blessing in my case. 

Why am I bringing all this up now when I try so hard to forget those dark times? 
Yesterday I had a brush with teenagehood, and all the memories came slamming back. 

Being 18 is so celebrated, like it's one of the best times in your life. This couldn't be further from the truth. 
People still treat you like a kid, yet expect you to have your future figured out. 
They expect me to know who I will be, but I don't even know who I am right now.

All their questions are hurting me, so I have to hurt them back. 
I feel like shit afterwards, but too awkward to apologize. 

All these thoughts in my head are getting too much, but I don't know how to switch them off.
Who are my real friends?

There are a million different paths out there, how in the world am I expected to figure out which one to choose?
I don't know what to do with my life. 

I don't want to disappoint my parents. 
My parents don't understand me. 
Why can't everybody just shut up and leave me alone?

How do you know if you love someone?
Should I break up?
But if I break up, I will be alone.
Does everybody feel so lonely, or is it just me?

I'm ugly. 
I need to lose weight.
I smoke to lose weight. 

Nothing makes me happy. 
Why can't I be happy?

I need somebody to tell me what I should do. 
Don't tell me what to do. 

Does everybody feel this way?
Or is it just me?

I haven't thought about this time in years, not in great detail anyway. But yesterday I did. And I remembered what a truly awful time it can be. 
Don't get me wrong, it was also fun: hours spent at the skate park with the guys, epic parties, the feeling that your friends are your family. There was a time when I would walk into our favourite club and knew so many people, I felt like a (very minor) celebrity. Nights spent just kissing and kissing for hours. Dreaming big of all the amazing things I would do. Sometimes, knowing that my entire life stretched out in front of me like a blank canvas, waiting for me to fill it with colour, was an exciting feeling. 

But more often, it paralyzed me. The sheer responsibility of it made me want to give up. And the many uncertainties were awful. Not knowing who you really are was one of the worst ones for me. 

But listen up kids: It will get better. You will figure it out. I promise. Time helps; but also, trying things out. (No drugs, though! It's never worth it.)
You learn by trial and error. And by talking to older people. You don't have to do what they tell you to; just listening is enough. Maybe there is part of their story that you can relate to. Something that strikes a chord.

Don't forget:
  
What do you remember from your teenage years? Good memories? Bad ones? Share below!

Lots of love, Miriam

Linking up with Nicole

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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

10 reasons why blogging is like dieting

Like most women in the Western world, I'm no stranger to diets. I started when I was a teenager and tried to get rid of my bubble butt - unsuccessfully, for which I'm now very thankful. But at 15, all I wanted was a flat boyish behind, and not that round, sticky-out thing I was cursed with. Combined with my flat feet I felt like a duck, and who in the world would be attracted to ducks? Little did I know that 7 years later I would meet a passionate bird lover and hobby farmer, who actually likes ducks a lot - so I guess there really is a lid for every pot.

I haven't dieted since I was 23 years old, just trying to live a healthy(ish) lifestyle.
Suck it, diets! I feel comfortable in my body nowadays, and have made peace with a round butt, flat feet, and all the other quirks that make my body mine.

However.

I will never, ever forget the agony that is dieting. And it occurred to me the other day, blogging can be a lot like dieting. Don't believe me?
Let me prove it to you!



1. You have thought about it for a long, long time. You know you want to do it. Finally, you are going to!
You are a faithful blog reader. You admire your favourite bloggers, have been following for years, and have been thinking more and more: "I can do this too. I should start a blog!" You know you want to, and finally, the desire is stronger than the doubt and fear. You are going to do it!
Your favourite pants haven't been worn in over a year because they don't fit. You go to bed each night regretting the food choices you made, and wake up each morning avoiding the scale and your reflection in the mirror. You know you want to lose weight, and finally you are determined: You are going to do it!

2. You are super motivated in the beginning. 
Yes, you started your blog! It's awesome, you love it, you are on top of the world. You will become famous! Bigger than Ree Drummond!
Yes, you started your diet! You are super-duper motivated. This time, you will do it! You will get the body of your dreams, become the envy of all girls, and the object of desire for all boys. You will be perfect! Tinier than Victoria Beckham!

3. After a shockingly short amount of time, the first hurdle appears. 
Yikes, this is harder than it looks. Turns out, blogging is hard work. Who would have thought? Reading posts is so much easier than writing them. How can people post every day? My mind is a blank. I don't know what to write about, and it's only week 2.
Yikes, I remember why I hate diets. This is hard. I'm so hungry! Reading about diets is so much easier than doing them. How can I keep going like this? I'm bored with the bland food, and I WANT FRENCH FRIES!

4. Where is the success?
Okay, I have been blogging for a few weeks now, and I only have 5 followers. Hello blog world, why haven't you taken notice yet? I'm delivering quality content! My layout is pretty, easy to read, not too cluttered, everything you told me to. Why aren't I famous yet?
Okay, I have been dieting for a few weeks now, and I only lost 5 pounds. Hello body, why aren't you dropping the fat? I'm doing everything the diet told me to (okay, maybe I shouldn't have eaten half a dozen donuts, but the secret to lasting success is cheat days, right?), and I should be halfway to skinny by now. Why aren't I skinny yet?

5. You think of giving up. 
This sucks. Why did I want to have a blog? I can't remember any more. So much work for no reward, I think I've had it. Why don't I just throw in the towel? I was perfectly happy not having a blog.
This sucks. Diets suck. Is being skinny really worth this torture? Isn't it just vain and shallow? Besides, I should be proud of my body, no matter what. Maybe I should just start to love my body the way it is. Be a role model for chubby girls, spit in the face of a diet-obsessed society. 

6. You are consumed by self doubt and jealousy. 
How is it possible that so-and-so has so many followers already? She just started as well! Her blog isn't any better than mine, is it? What's her secret?
How is it possible that so-and-so managed to stick to her diet and lost all that weight? She was fatter than me, and now she is way skinnier! What's her secret?

7. If you stick to it, you will see results.
Despite all the obstacles, you stuck with it. And it's starting to pay off! You get more comments, you have gained more followers, and you actually really like this whole blogging gig! You are getting good at it!
Despite all the obstacles, you stuck with your diet. And it's starting to pay off! You have lost more pounds, gained some muscle, and you actually really like this diet. It works!

8. You start to dream big - again. 
Now that I know how it all works, I will grow big in no time! I may be the next big blogger after all! Watch out The Daybook, I'm gonna get ya!
Diets work! Who said they don't? Look at me, I may be the next big diet success after all! Watch out Renee Zellweger, I'm gonna get ya!

9. You get setbacks - again. 
I lost followers? Nobody commented on my last post? But why? What did I do wrong? Should I even continue my blog?
I gained weight? Nobody noticed or commented on how much weight I've lost so far? Why? Should I even continue this @#&^%$ diet?

10. Repeat.
Congratulations if you've made it this far. That means you are in for one hell of a roller coaster ride. You will have ups and downs, highs and lows, you will have triumphs, you will despair at times. And it never stops. Welcome to the fun house!

Does this count as confessions? I sure hope so, because I'm linking up with Kathy's humpday confessions.


What do you need to get of your chest? Come on over and tell us!

xoxo Miriam
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Monday, 26 May 2014

Motivational Monday


Living life to the fullest. What does that mean to you?
I think it means different things to different people. For some it may be to travel the world and experience as many different cultures and places as they can. For others, it may be to embark on parenthood and be the best parent they can be. Then there are the ones who are the adventurers and adrenaline junkies, going skydiving, rock climbing, deep sea fishing, or braving the elements in other, more inventive ways than I can think of.
Embarking on careers that are challenging may be the definition for others yet - climbing the career ladder, leading people, maybe, hopefully making a difference.

Whatever it may be, knowing what it is for you is the first big step towards a happy and fulfilled life. Some people may find it easy and know what they want; others, myself included, needed longer to figure it out.

Yesterday I got lucky: I hit a series of fortunate links, and found a whole bunch of great, inspirational people. I love when that happens. Let me take you on my little journey that rocked my world: First, I came across this pin. Anything blogging-related catches my attention right away, so I had a look.
Amongst the many really great pieces of advice was this one: to write a manifesto. Which is something that I have never considered, but have to do! It's always good to define one's goals, and putting it into words is the best way for me to visualize it.
Anyway, the author mentioned this man: Chris Guillebeau. He wrote a pretty famous (I think) and ass-kicking manifesto: A Brief Guide To World Domination. The gist is this: Chris started a blog in 2008 that was sort of a movement: The Art of Non-Conformity. It's about standing out in a sea of mediocrity, choosing an unconventional path as opposed to the broad conventional one, and achieving your wildest dreams.
This is right up my alley!

I haven't read too much yet, but what I found out so far is this: Chris has travelled to all 193 countries! He's only a little bit older than me, 35 years, which is simply crazy. He published two books, has been self-employed all his life, and writes a lot about how you can achieve that as well, if you want to. Like I said, I have just begun to find out more, so if you are interested, check him out!

In the manifesto, Chris mentions several people, and I want to share one with you: The late Randy Pausch, who was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 45, and when he was told he only had a few months to live, gave his famous "last lecture" about "really achieving your childhood dreams".
Guys, it's amazing. He is funny, self-deprecating, and incredibly inspiring. This video below has been viewed over 16 million times on youtube since 2008, and you should watch it too.
It's over an hour long, so grab yourself a cup of tea and get comfortable: I promise, it's worth it!

Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Inspired by these people, I have been toying with the idea to start a series here: Motivational Mondays. It's just an idea, and I wanted to ask you guys: Would you be interested in something like that?
Right now I envision sharing inspiring people, success stories, unconventional ways of living.
But I'm wide open to ideas: What else would you be interested to see here? Interviews? Introducing new bloggers? Something else I haven't even considered? Let me know in the comments!

America, enjoy your Monday off. (Jealous!)
The rest of the world: Ease yourself back into work, and treat yourself a little!

Lots of love, Miriam

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Sunday, 25 May 2014

School of Life v.3

It's Sunday school time! This week's lessons border on the embarrassing, because they mostly deal with social media. Somehow, it feels like it's not "real life". But it is a big part of being a blogger, and it got me down a bit last week, so I decided to share it with you. Despite (or because) it making me feel vulnerable and slightly ridiculous. Okay, let's get started!

1. You win some, you lose some - and it's still hard
Social media, you fickle beast. I know it ebbs and flows. I know hat people will follow you and unfollow you. But you know what? Some days, it sucks. You get caught up in the numbers game, and let it get you down. It's sort of ridiculous, but real nonetheless. You remember the first time somebody unfriended you on Facebook? I was hurt. It's a bit embarrassing to admit, but a true fact. Same with this blogging gig: I'm super excited when I gain a new follower, and bummed when I lose one. 
Lesson learnt? You win some, you lose some. You can never please everybody. But damn, it's hard. 

2. People's preferences are unpredictable
Here's another one related to social media. Can you tell I had too much free time on my hands last week?
This time: Instagram. I love insta-G because, duh - pretty pictures. I follow a lot of  "real" photographers, and just love looking at their amazing shots. Here is the thing I will never understand: how some pictures get a bazillion likes - and it's a picture of a coffee cup. And others that I find incredible, only get a few likes. Instagram, how do you work? Is the secret in the right hashtags? It can't be, because some people don't use any (gasp!) and still get a bazillion likes. How do you become insta-popular? I will never get it. 
Lesson learnt: Instagram is beyond me. People's preferences are unpredictable. It's all a big mystery!

3. Too much solitude messes with my head
To sum up the first two points: I had to much free time last week and got caught in my own head space. Which is a scary place sometimes.
Lesson learnt? Stop overthinking everything Miriam!

4. My sister's keeper -  now I know what the fuss is all about
source

Jodi, I owe you an apology. Years ago, when I was working in a book store, I picked up one of Jodi Picoult's books. For the life of me, I can't remember which one - all I know is that I didn't like it one bit. Sort of hated it, actually. Based on that book I decided that I don't like any of her books. No matter how popular they were, or how many people told me how good they are, I never gave her another try.
Until last week. I was roaming my book shelves, looking for something new to read, when I saw My sister's keeper. A friend had given it to me last year, and I put it straight on the shelf without opening it.
For whatever reason, I decided to give Jodi another shot - and I love it! Huh, who woulda thought?
Lesson learnt: There is something to be said about second chances.  

Share your stories with us my friends! And if you so desire, you can grab Mariah's nifty button and link back to Brass Honey.

xoxo Miriam

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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Style: Enchanted forest


This skirt is so dreamy. I did another post about it almost exactly one year and one week ago, which is weird, but then it isn't - it's the perfect late spring/early summer skirt. 
Looking back at a post I did over a year ago makes me cringe a little bit: the photos are pretty bad, and I hadn't found the right format for my photos yet - what's with the strange sizing I did?

But I guess it just means that there has been some progress, and that's definitely a good thing. I found out along the way that traditional posing is not my strong suit - I simply can't do it. It looks very awkward and posy, and you can tell that I don't have fun. Doing these little shoots a bit differently is definitely working for me, and I love doing them! The most important props are, of course, my dogs. Today I got a special treat: Bear made an appearance! He is very camera-shy, so I guess the enchanted forest enchanted him and made him brave? Yes, let's go with that. ;-) 

Here he is! Peeking out from behind the ferns. Such a sweetheart.


T-shirt: Joe Fresh (very old); skirt: etsy; shoes: American Eagle (old); necklace: so old, I can't remember where I got it from (sorry!)


xoxo Miriam

Linking up with Lena and Tara


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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Who's the prettiest of them all?


The other day, Jenny asked me if I could do an entire post about peacocks. Why, what an excellent idea! I wonder why it hasn't occurred to me before - the peacocks are by far my favourite birds on the farm.

We have 3 grown-up males and females, respectively, and a pair of young white peacocks. The whites are just teenagers and still in a pen - if we would let them out, the older ones would beat them up pretty bad. It's a peacock eats peacock-world, man!

The three ladies are sitting on eggs right now, so there may be babies in the future. If there are, I will take pictures and show you - they are the sweetest little things, with tiny crowns on their heads! Just adorable.

 They are even pretty from behind!
Trying so hard to get the chicken's attention. Bitch doesn't care.  
Yeah, better pack it in.
"I'm done." (For now. They never stop for long.)
"What are you looking at?"
(White female.)
The lady is admiring the new set-up the boys have done today. (My boys, not hers.) We now have a bench in front of a rose garden in front of the canary aviary. It's a beauty! Snow and Phoebe agree. In the future we will be sitting there, admiring the roses while simultaneously listening to bird song. We may even sip on a cold drink at the same time! It's absolute perfection. 
"Itchy."

One of the best things on the farm is how well all the animals get along. The dogs hang out with the peacocks just fine, without trying to kill them. It's the most peaceful sight ever! The secret is to have herding dogs, no hunters. Plus, once you have an established pack that follows the rules, the newcomers simply copy the older dogs. 

"Meh, I'm done."
"Oh, there you are!"
"Look at meeee!!"

So vain.

xoxo Miriam

Linking up with Nicole

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