Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Amazon betrayed me


Last Sunday was my oldest niece's confirmation. I couldn't be there, because I'm going to see her next month, and I'm not made of money. This is one of the (very few, in my opinion) downsides of living 10,000 km away from your family, but that's life. 

Being confirmed is a big deal in our small town. You have to attend regular classes for a year, write a test, and if you pass it, you get a fancy black outfit and become an adult. At least in the eyes of the church you do. We all know that in real life, giving 14-year-olds the power of adulthood is a frightening prospect. 
(There are times where I don't feel ready for the responsibilities of adulthood - just keep reading.)


For the kids, the best part is all the gifts they're getting. It's customary for friends and acquaintances to give a small(ish) gift, receiving a cake in return. It's a great way to liven up the long weeks before summer, when nothing much is happening in town and people are getting bored and restless. 
Since my niece is a third-generation local with parents and grandparents having a business in town, I expect she got a great haul. 

Maybe not as great as what I raked in 23 years ago:
Towels and candle holders were very popular that year. Please note that I also received several sets of cocktail glasses, 3 hair dryers, and a full set of silverware (45 pieces!) for my dowry. Yes, dowrys were a thing in 1994. Maybe they still are? I have no idea.  


Also, I don't want to deprive you of the glory that was me at 14 years old, allegedly an "adult":
The outfit, the hair, the uncomfortable smile, the bow tie (my mom made me wear it*, I didn't want to) - there are no words. The 90s were rough. All I can say is, thank god this was before the invention of social media.
*My mom definitely has a thing for dressing me in short shorts and skirts. What's that all about, mom? 


Please keep my personal history with gifts in mind for the following, embarrassing story. Remember the towels and embroidered hankies, okay?

I knew that the jewellery-portion of the big day was covered by my sister, a goldsmith by trade. She wouldn't give that responsibility to anyone else, which is fortunate, because none of us would choose the right thing in her critical eyes. It's tradition for the confirmand to receive a gold cross-necklace, and maybe a bracelet or ring, and my sister bought them for her.

To be completely honest, I didn't start thinking about what to get her until less than a week before the confirmation. I'm a terrible aunt! (That's one of the many reasons why I don't have kids.)
Being so far away, the only option I could think of was to resort to my trusted Amazon. I've used Amazon for birthday- and Christmas-gifts for my German family for years, because it's easy and convenient, the main shopping-requirements for me nowadays.

Clueless about what to give to a confirmand these days (I doubted that towels were still a thing), I searched 'confirmation presents' in the Amazon search box. Not one of my proudest moments, and definitely one of the points in my life where I felt decidedly un-grown-up.
You know what came up? Books! Also some candles and clever ideas to give money, but as soon as I saw the books, I didn't look any further.
I love books, and I believe one can never have too many.
I chose one for my niece with great care: It's partly a guide into grow-up life (I should have bought one for myself), partly photo album, and partly a place for friends and guests to write in congratulations and well wishes. I would have loved it. And it got 4.5 stars! And lots of great reviews! And it says right in the product description: "With this book, parents, relatives, god-parents and friends definitely have the right gift at hand for the confirmation."

Sold.

Well, on Sunday night, my sister sent me a few photos of the day. It had been lovely, and she was still filled with joy and parental pride, giving me a pang that I missed it.

She also included this photo:

That's my niece, opening the gift her uncles gave her. You know what it is? A TV.
A.FRICKING.TV.
The tiny present next to it is my puny book.
I have never felt so humiliated. Did I get it wrong or what?

The only thing I can do to redeem myself is give her money, using one of the clever money-giving ideas I saw on Amazon. Except - on second thought, I don't think I can trust Amazon any more. It never told me that TVs are an appropriate confirmation-present now! I come from the towel- and glasses-generation, and it was Amazon's responsibility to inform me of the new ways.

Amazon betrayed me.

So did the photographer by not eliminating this photo right away:
Please note the embroidered hankie. My book doesn't look so bad now, does it?


Adulting may be hard, but being a teenager was infinitely worse!


xoxo Miriam



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Saturday, 20 May 2017

A series of exploding pants


The first one happened about 2 weeks ago. I was doing morning chores, carrying half a bale of hay in my arms to feed the horses, mini cows, goats and sheep, when I suddenly felt it - a breeze. A breeze in a spot where there shouldn't be one - on my left butt cheek. Huh? How did the breeze manage to get past the layer of denim that ensconced my buttocks?
I put down the hay and reached to my backside. Where my fingers expected to encounter soft denim, they found instead warm, slightly squishy flesh. Damn, my pants ripped! I quickly finished the morning feed before hurrying back inside the house to inspect the damage.

Do you remember Kylie Jenner's butt jeans? I now owned a pair, and I didn't even have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for it! While my rip was not below the butt cheek like on hers, but went down vertically just left of the seam, I figured a ripped butt is a ripped butt. Tomatoes, tomah-toes, right? 
I briefly wondered if I should continue wearing them as a fashion statement, but knew in the end that I wasn't brave enough. Off into the garbage they went.

All the while, I tried very hard not to think of the reason why they ripped in the first place. 'They were old,' I assured myself. 'Old and cheap, and I've washed them approximately one gazillion times. That's the reason, and nothing else.'

I suspected that this may not be the only reason, but in the name of preserving my self esteem, I figured a little white lie wouldn't hurt anyone. I happily went on living my life, and forgot all about the ripped pants.

Until it happened again
A week later, another ancient pair of pants ripped. They were Old Navy corduroy pants, at least 10 years old. I had worn and washed them so much that the corduroy part had worn off in many places, making them soft, infinitely comfy - and apparently quite fragile.
Different pants, same rip - a coincidence? Or a pattern? Once again, it was an old pair. It had worn thin in many places. But still - the fabric was just as thin in the front. It could have ripped around the knees, or on the thighs - but no, it was the butt. Again on the left cheek. What was that cheek up to? It needed a sharp eye on it to prevent further mischief, but nature and anatomy prevented me from doing so. I was doomed to keep my back permanently turned on the cheek, hoping for the best. 

Alas, reality doesn't care about our hopes. A few days ago, I was about to visit a friend. Eager to use this as an opportunity to dress up a little, I decided to wear my bright-orange happy pants. I call them my happy pants because it's impossible to be in a bad mood when wearing them. They are summer in pants-form, representing everything that's great about summer: They are bright and sunny, and they make you want to break out in a spontaneous dance party while sipping a colourful cocktail. With an umbrella in it. 
Anyway, I put them on. They weren't exactly lose-fitting, but I told myself that it's because they were in the dryer. 'They will give in a little while,' I reassured myself. 
Aahh, the old dryer excuse. It's been a staple in my arsenal of self deceit since the late '90s.

Off I went, excited to see my friend, ignoring the tightness of the pants. I was filling up the gas tank in town when Rich called - he asked if I could turn around and come back, to pick up the billy goat we had borrowed from friends. I was coming by their house and could drop him off. Usually, a request like this would annoy me, or at least cause me to roll my eyes. But not that day! Thus is the power of the happy pants. I readily agreed, turned back and went home again. 
Thank god for that. 

Because, guess what? Yet another pair of pants had ripped, again in the same spot: Vertically down the left butt cheek. My happy pants had betrayed me. 
This time, I was fresh out of excuses: While the pants were several years old, they hadn't been worn or washed very often. There are only so many occasions that call for bright orange pants. 

I had to face the truth: My butt had gotten bigger. Or maybe just my left butt cheek? The jury is still out on that. 

While the old me would have been devastated, her day ruined, diet- and exercise-regimes planned, and lots of cursing and smack-talking been directed at her, the new me just shrugged. She could even laugh about it. 

I gained some weight, so what? Instead of berating myself, I went to the mall, and bought myself 3 new fabulous pairs of pants. A size bigger. At a department store, instead of my old teeny bopper haunts. 

And it was fine. 

Will this be the end of the series of exploding pants? Only time will tell. I keep you posted!

xoxo Miriam 


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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Yoga with goats - do you want to try?


I love yoga. It calms my mind, makes me feel strong, and has taught me that anything is possible
I also love living on a farm. It calms my mind, it's relaxing, and also hilarious.  
Combining the two is a match made in heaven. 
Ever since I started my practice, I've taken it outside whenever possible. 




Breathing in the fresh air, feeling the breeze in your hair, the sun on your skin, and watching a flock of ducks waddle past you while doing a downward facing dog is the most blissful experience in the world. 
Evidently, I'm not the only one who enjoys that. 

At the beginning of the year, a friend told us of a lady in Oregon offering something called goat yoga.
It's yoga classes that take place on her farm, with a herd of miniature goats hanging out with the yogis, climbing all over them, snuggling up and playing with them.
Right away, it became hugely popular. 

I'm not surprised. Miniature goats are mischievous little creatures, curious and funny and full of life. 
I mean, just look at them:



Amongst the many animals we have on our farm, we also have a few mini goats.  
Here is Matilda:

Matilda (right) and her son Sammy
  That was our first baby Garth, born 11 years ago
Stevie, Jimmy, and Henrietta
Sammy and Matilda wondering what the heck I'm doing...?


Ever since I've heard of goat yoga, I can't stop thinking about it. 
I have the passion, the goats, and the perfect space for it:


Headstand in the winter
Headstand this morning


So, here is my question: 

Would anyone be interested if I started offering yoga with goats at our farm?

We live in Merritt, BC, in the heart of the southern interior. We are 45 minutes out of Kamloops, 1.5 hours away from Kelowna, 2 hours from the Lower Mainland and 3 hours from Vancouver. 

Yoga all by itself is amazing. But add animals to the mix, and what you get is pure magic.
For the past 2+ years, farmyoga has been my therapy, my salvation, my joy. 

I want to do the same for you!
If you're interested, please let me know in the comments!

Are kids in your future?

xoxo Miriam



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Saturday, 13 May 2017

One pet is good - but a hundred pets are better!


Rich and I have been feeling very grateful lately. We seriously pinch each other daily, just to make sure we're not dreaming this life. It may not look like much for some people, but to us, it's everything we've ever wanted: Living where the sun shines most of the year (in Canada! That's rare!), with our dogs, mini-cows, horses, goats, sheep, birds .... it's amazing. We are each other's family, but so are the animals. There's nothing better for us than sitting outside, surrounded by the dogs, watching the peacocks, chickens, ducks, geese, and all the other animals mill happily about. We are so damn grateful to live this life.

Triplets!


My darling Bear. He is such a special dog to me. I bought him with the first paycheck of my 'real' job (= x-ray technologist) 7 years ago. He is entirely devoted to the people he loves, but warms up to new people slowly. Three years ago he was in pretty bad shape, with severe arthritis making it hard for him to get up and walk around. Several times we considered putting him down, but we always hoped he would get better. And he did! Moving to this beautifully dry climate changed his entire life. 
We have never seen a comeback like his: He acts like he's a young dog! He runs up our long driveway to greet us (something he hadn't done for years), he gets up with the other dogs to bark at passersby, and he simply has the time of his life. I'm so happy that he's still with us!

  
We seriously considered selling all our water birds last year when we knew we would move to the semi-desert. In the end, Rich couldn't bring himself to do it. And now we're so glad he didn't! We brought many of our ducks and geese with us, and this pair of black swans. We put up several kiddie pools for them, and they are happy as can be. So are we, for having them here with us!

A little-used section of our back yard. 

Cow-, llama- and horse-heaven. 

Our friend Ted, Rich and Nina.

Donald Duck's aunt. 


Throughout our lives, we have happened upon dogs more often than you might think. People know that we love dogs, and once in a while we get offered one - either because the owners are moving, or downsizing, or because they simply don't want them any more. 
This is how we found Holly. 
She and her brother had lived in our extended neighbourhood for years, and we would often make a comment when we saw them in their yard. We love the big, white herding dogs, and there aren't too many around, so you tend to notice the few that are. 

Last year, her owners approached us and asked if we knew of anyone who would be interested in buying Holly and her brother. They were selling their place, and intended to travel around in an RV through North America for a year - they had no place for the dogs. 
Rich felt sorry for them, and promised that he would find a place for them both. 

He had a friend who was looking for a herding dog, and when he called her, she said she would take him. We couldn't find a home for Holly, so we decided to take her in. Since then, that dog has been thanking us every single day. She is the sweetest girl, and loves people hard. 

Ghost and Neil, our geriatric llamas.

Lily and Nina.

Ladies who lunch.

Have a gorgeous weekend!

xoxo Miriam


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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Cut off



This morning, I woke up to another gorgeous, blue-skied day. The birds were chirping, the air was still, and it looked like a beautiful, calm day. As I was doing my chores outside, I heard my neighbour call my name. 

"Miriam, have you heard? The highway is closed!"
'Sheesh', I thought to myself, 'the highway has been closed for three days. You just heard about it now?'

I went over to the fence for a little chat. 
"I know, it's been closed for a few days already."

"No, not westbound. Eastbound! We are cut off from town!"

That got my attention. "What?!?"
"Yes, the bridge is flooded and they closed it. They're also saying that they'll have to turn the power off soon to work on the power lines."

Sure enough, when I returned to the house, the power was gone. 
Our first concern was our incubator, where 200 chicks were in the process of hatching. The days right around the hatching date are critical, with the babies being at their most vulnerable. A few hours without the warmth and moisture of the incubator will kill them. 

Thankfully, our kind neighbours offered to lend us their generator, an offer we promptly took them up on. They are the best

As you may have heard, over the weekend there has been substantial flooding in parts of southern British Columbia due to the snow melting and recent heavy rainfall.

The bridge my neighbour was talking about is on Highway 8 - the only way into town. With that bridge closed, we were cut off from food, gas, and medical help. An unsettling feeling. 

"I want to see this for myself. I'm gonna take a look. You want to come?" I asked my neighbour, who said "heck, yes!" and jumped into the passenger seat of my car.

Driving along the river, we saw that it had at least doubled in size and risen several feet. Instead of its usual tranquil gurgling, the river roared along its swollen bed, brown and angry looking.

And then we approached the bridge. A tow truck was parked along the road to block it, and several police cruisers were on side. They were not the only ones: At least a hundred people were there to see the flooding with their own eyes! Without power and no cell reception for many of us, the only way to gather information was the old-fashioned way: By going there and talking to people. 
Maybe because of the gorgeous spring day and no imminent danger for most people there, the atmosphere was strangely festive - it almost felt like a day at the fair!
People were standing together in groups, chatting amiably, and craning their necks to get a better look. 

That was this morning. Our power came back about an hour ago, and while we are still cut off from town, as far as I know the bridge is in sound condition, but still closed due to water and debris. Nobody from our area went to work today, and I don't know what would happen if someone has a medical emergency - I hope that an ambulance is still able to come through. Let's hope it doesn't come to the test!

I will keep you posted!

xoxo Miriam


Top image found here.



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Friday, 5 May 2017

Hi! ✌



It's been a hot second since I've been here. Again. This is becoming a pattern, and I'm sorry. Instead of blogging, I like to sit for hours in front of the computer, thinking about writing, surfing the net "for inspiration" (which is BS), then procrastinating by buying stuff online I don't need, and feeling guilty about it. It's great fun!
But seriously, how could I say no to Chrissy Teigen (I'm obsessed with her, OBSESSED!), or new bed linens (I also ordered these and these), and  a protective suitcase cover?

The suitcase cover is for something very special: I'm going to Paris next month with my sister! It's a chore, but somebody's got to do it.
Naw, kidding!! I'm so excited, you have no idea!! We booked this Airbnb, and we keep texting each other how many more sleeps (50!), and I'm agonizing about what to wear. While my silly grin, taking photos non-stop and not speaking French will give me away as tourist in a split-second, I'm determined not to dress like one. I'm planning on sharing the outfits I'll take before the trip, but if I can't get it together (which is likely), you'll get to see them in the bazillion photos I will share after!


Other very important news from my life: I'm on Instagram stories now. I think I joined two weeks ago, but it could be longer - times flies when you're having fun!
A typical story of mine includes dogs, messy hair, quite a bit of angst and "Hi guys!"
I seem to say that at the beginning of every story, but I can't stop. While I never really took to Snapchat, IG stories are strangely addictive, and I'm on it every day right now. Come and say hi!


I'm still reading like a fiend (I counted, and I think I've read 20 books this year already), which is only possible because I cut waaaay down on watching TV/Netflix. I know, who would have thought?!

I have also discovered a few new favourites: The blog Advice I Needed Yesterday, which, first of all, has the best name ever, right? Nova Halliwell, the writer behind the blog, quit her job in February of 2016 and has since been travelling the world, supporting herself as a writer. Talk about a dream life! I would be insanely jealous, if she wasn't such a funny writer with a wonderful sense of (self-deprecating) humour. I've also started to stalk follow her on Instagram, and I highly suggest you do the same. That girl is amazing!

Speaking of Instagram: Have you heard of Celeste Barber? Omg, if you haven't, check her out NOW!!!! I'll wait.

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Did you see her account? Isn't she hilarious?? I know.
Just in case you didn't go to her page, here are some of her posts:


It's a feature she calls "challenge accepted", where she imitates poses or videos of famous people. They are gold.

Well, that's basically it! Writing a book is deadly boring to talk about, and even worse for you guys to listen to. But that's what's been taking up my brain space this year, and that's why I'm a pretty sporadic blogger. I'm pretty confident that I will blog a lot more once I've finished the first draft of my book. I set the end of June as my deadline, which is cutting it close - but I'm determined to do it! I want Paris to be my reward, so that's a pretty sweet incentive.

Before I go, here's a little video from my practice yesterday - I'm heading to the same spot now for another round.

Happy weekend!




xoxo Miriam

P.S. Newsletter. Me writey, you readey? 



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Sunday, 30 April 2017

He is back!


Remember when I told you that our young ram escaped a month ago? After we unsuccessfully chased him all over the neighbourhood to catch him, we found out two days later that he had joined a cult*.

*A herd of heifers

The owner of the young cows told us that he would be moving them in a few weeks, and that we could try to catch him then.
That day came last week, and we did, indeed, get him! I wasn't there, but Rich told me it involved a chute, a large net, and an old cowboy standing by with his lasso, just in case our freedom-loving boy would try to escape again.

Rich brought him him last Monday, and he seems beyond happy to be back with his family. He grew a lot, his horns have developed nicely, and I'm sure he entertains the lambs with tales of his wild adventures! By the way, there is nothing wrong with his coat, just in case you were wondering; our sheep have hair, not wool, and they are currently shedding their winter coat for a nice, light summer one.

I just thought I let you know about his safe return home, in case you were sitting at the edge of your seats for the last 4 weeks, wondering what had happened to him. 😉

Happy Sunday!  

xoxo Miriam

P.S. In tomorrow's newsletter, I'm sharing 16 things successful people have given up. Don't miss it! Sign up here  



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Friday, 28 April 2017

About Body Positivity


Do you know what Bopo stands for?

I didn't either. Until I came across the absolutely amazing, inspiring Megan, aka. Bodyposipanda. Megan has successfully conquered anorexia, has a hugely popular account on Instagram, and will soon release a book about her story of beating anorexia and falling in love with her body. 

Bopo stands for 'Body Positivity'. In short, it simply means to be happy with the body you have right now
Not 5 pounds from now. 
Not after you completed that 30-day workout challenge. 
Not after you cut out sugar and carbs. 
But RIGHT.NOW.

Sounds simple?

It isn't. For most women, it's the hardest thing in the world

We have been conditioned from early childhood on that our bodies are not good enough. It's the raised eyebrows when we ask for a second piece of cake, the implied "you really shouldn't eat any cake, let alone two pieces". It's the magazines urging us to get "bikini-ready", because apparently our bodies are not presentable the way they are. It's the diet culture we live in, where we think it's normal to regularly starve ourselves, slowly destroying our body's metabolism and its ability to function properly.
We talk about "being bad" when we order dessert, about "having to make up for it" when we ate a large meal, like it's something to be ashamed of.  

I used to be self-conscious about my body for as long as I can remember.
Growing up, we had a set of petite, identical twins in our neighbourhood, and we played with them every day. They were dainty and delicate, whereas my sister and I were sturdy and ordinary. We had thighs and bellies, where the twins had tiny limbs and concave stomachs. 
We were convinced that our bodies were less attractive, and always felt self-conscious in bathing suits or shorts.


My mom was on a diet all throughout my childhood. She would diet when she was bored, proclaiming airily that she 'needed a new goal to focus on'. Half a slice of toast was her normal breakfast during her diets, making me feel like a pig for eating two whole slices with peanut butter and jam.  
Still, I was lucky; I was of average size. My sister, unfortunately, didn't get away that easy. She loved to eat, and was sturdy since she was a baby. 
As early as 8 years old, my mom tried to put her on a diet. Both were miserable: My sister for constantly being pestered about her weight; my mom for not being more successful. 

My sister and I differ in our body types: I have a big bum, strong thighs, and a small(ish) waist. 
My sister has long, slim legs, and tends to keep all her weight in her midsection.
We didn't choose this; that's just how we were made.
I was fiercely jealous of her thin legs; she envied my slightly slimmer physique. 

While my body was average as a child, I accidentally acquired coltish long limbs and a taut stomach after a growth spurt during adolescence. Boys began to notice, an older girl made me a compliment about my figure, and my mom couldn't have been prouder. It felt so good, that I was determined to do everything in my power to keep this body. 

Thus began a 15-year obsession with being less. I always tried to lose a few pounds. However, unlike other girls who could drop weight seemingly effortlessly, I wasn't very good at it. Being hungry made me feel lightheaded and nauseous, and I always ended up eating more than I would have if I'd listened to my body.
Due to this starvation/overeating-cycle, I started putting on the pounds. By age 19, I was a good 20 pounds heavier than I had been only a few months before, and I started to hate my body.

I will never forget how horrified and ashamed I was when an old acquaintance of my parents' came for a visit, seeing me for the first time in three years. Tact wasn't her strength, and as soon as she laid eyes on me, she exclaimed: "Oh my god, what happened to you? You gained so much weight!" I blushed furiously, feeling humiliated and worthless.  




I obsessively read books about anorexia and bulimia, secretly wishing I could get just a touch of bulimia. I knew that I was way too undisciplined for anorexia, but bulimia? Just a little? It seemed like the only way to stop me from gaining more weight, something I was terrified of.
But as it turned out, I couldn't make myself throw up. Sitting in front of the toilet, sweaty and teary-eyed, trying to stick my finger down my throat and failing, was one of the lowest points of my life.

I'm not telling you this to shock you or make you feel sorry for me.
I'm telling you because I'm convinced that most women have similar stories. On the website of the Canadian Women's Foundation are some startling statistics:

Over 50% of Canadian girls wish they were someone else.
50% of girls in grade 6 are on a diet; it increases to 60% by grade 10.
Only 14% of girls in grade 10 say that they are self-confident.
9 out of 10 girls say they feel pressure from the media to be thin.

With numbers like these, the Body Positivity movement is more important than ever. It seems that we are in dire need of realizing that we don't have to look a certain way to love ourselves. It should be the most natural thing in the world to be thankful for the body we have, yet it seems almost radical. As if by saying that we like our bodies, we may appear vain or full of ourselves. What BS!

Worrying about weight and being skinny is the biggest waste of time. It kills our joy for life and our confidence. Diets take up so much head space, there is little left for creativity and individuality. Diets make us boring - it's not much fun to hang out with someone who doesn't want to eat, who keeps obsessing about the size of their thighs, and who has nothing else going on in life than counting calories.

I wasted 15 years of my life being stuck in a vicious cycle of overeating, starving myself, over-exercising and hating my body. A body that is healthy, strong, and beautiful.
Learning to love my body the way it is is one of the most radical acts of self love I have ever done.

I'm hairy, I have cellulite, I have an ever-expanding collection of small scars, my chin is slowly turning into two, and the laugh lines and frown lines in my face are getting deeper every day.

And I love myself. I really like the way I look. That doesn't mean that I don't try to eat healthy most of the time, or don't exercise. I enjoy going for walks and I love yoga, but I don't do these activities to lose weight. I do them because I love how they feel, and because I want to honour my healthy body by letting it do what it does best: Move.

For more inspiration, here are some of the Bopo warriors whom I admire:
Dana Falsetti
Kenzie Brenna
Charli Howard
Halle
And of course, the mega-babe and bopo queen, Megan Jayne Crabbe.

If you want to feel better about yourself, check these kickass ladies out! They are truly amazing, and they are doing wonderful, important work.

Love yourself first, ok? You are worth it.

xoxo Miriam


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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Rural hospital diaries, vol. 2



It’s Sunday morning, and I’m sitting out on the patio, enjoying my first cup of coffee. It’s the first time in our new home that it’s warm enough at 7:45am to sit outside, so it feels very special.
Suddenly, the phone rings. And I just know.

“Hey, it’s emerg. Can you come in as quickly as possible? We need you STAT.” I say I’ll be right there, and race to my room to get dressed, hugely relieved that I already had a shower this morning. There are days where a shower is optional, but today wasn't one of them.  I pull my wet hair into a messy ponytail, throw my toothbrush in my purse and run out of the house. I’ll brush my teeth at work.
In the car I eat an apple from my lunch bag (which I packed the night before, a miracle), and then pop some gum to make my breath less atrocious until I get a chance to brush my teeth properly.

I make it to the hospital in record time. Instead of the usual calmness of a Sunday morning, it’s mayhem. The patient is sitting up in his stretcher, gasping for breath, while two doctors, four nurses, and several EMTs work feverishly on him to help him breathe. I dump my stuff on the desk, and grab the portable x-ray machine to do the chest x-ray they called me in for.

The patient is in such critical condition that he needs to be sedated, and a tube is inserted through his mouth into his trachea to get air into his lungs. One lung was collapsed, and they re-inflate it. Another tube is inserted into the side of his chest to drain fluid from his lungs. After every new tube, I go in for another chest x-ray to check for proper placement.

In the meantime, the High Acuity Response Team has arrived. HART consists of highly trained critical care nurses, who care for severely ill patients during their transport to a higher-acuity hospital.
Watching them work is a thing of beauty. The team clearly works together often, because each person anticipates what the other needs before they even ask for it. They are calm, quick and efficient, and it looks like a dance, with one person leading and the other following smoothly.

They insert a central chest line through his neck into his jugular vein, and I'm taking my last x-ray on this patient to check for placement again.

Then they leave. After two intense hours, the sudden silence is unsettling. We all look at each other, and breathe a collective sigh of relief. Housekeeping is called in to clean up the trauma bay, and I finally get a chance to brush my teeth.


After lunch, the combination of digesting food and the aftermath of the prolonged adrenaline rush from the morning hits me hard. In between patients, I find myself sitting motionless on my desk, staring into space, not doing anything. I'm literally just sitting. It's a bizarre feeling, one that I have rarely encountered before I started this job. But it looks like I better get used to it, because this is the second time in a month that I feel like that.

Eventually I force myself to get up and tackle the long list of housekeeping tasks we do on Sundays. The rest of my shift goes by quickly, and at 5pm, I'm done.

But not for long. We've just finished dinner and I'm stretched out on my bed, ready for some Netflix, when the phone rings.
"Hi Miriam, it's emerg, we have some x-rays for you."
Oh, the joys of being on call. I have to return twice more that Sunday, and when I'm finally back in bed at 1:30am, I feel like I have worked a week instead of a day.

But you know what?
It's thrilling. And also ironic. The girl who has successfully avoided answering the phone for most of her life, now has to sleep with it next to her pillow. Life has a twisted sense of humour, doesn't it?

Having been at my small town hospital for almost 3 months, I'm starting to feel at home here. All the staff knows me, even people I have never seen before. Patients are curious about the new face, and I have repeated the story of where I'm from and how we ended up here dozens of times.

I'm so grateful for how things are unfolding. It feels good.

I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.



Rural hospital diaries, vol. 1


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Thursday, 20 April 2017

10 little tweaks to my routine that make me feel like a BOSS



Guys, today is a great day. I have discovered the secret to feeling like a real grown-up! And because I like you, I'll let you in on it. You're welcome!

1. Have a shower
You may already nail this one every day, but I don't. The reason behind my non-daily shower habit is a mix of being European (many of us don't shower daily), living in the semi-desert (I feel the urge to conserve water), laziness, and living on a farm. I checked with the animals, and they assured me I smell fine. Ditto Richard. But rest assured, I always clean myself before I go to work! 


2. "Do" my hair
I put this in quotation marks because I still only did the absolute minimum one can do to one's hair. After shampooing and conditioning, I blow-dried and then straightened it!  I blew my own fricking mind. It felt amazing. 

3. Put on some mascara
AND THEN I PUT MASCARA ON!!

4. Tell the people of the Internet about it
Make sure you immediately take selfies and/or post about it on social media. I have a newfound (and surprising) obsession with Instagram stories, so I obviously informed my impatiently waiting followers about the astonishing changes to my so-called beauty routine.   



5. Find yourself a new doctor
There was clearly an important reason behind all this unexpected grooming, which was a visit to our new family doctor. It's extremely difficult to find doctors around here, but today we were accepted by a doctor who recently moved to town. He is young, nice, and easy on the eyes, and you better believe that I did the full rigmarole, including getting rid of copious amounts of body hair, putting on a new bra, and plucking, primping and moisturizing myself within an inch of my life. It must have paid off, because we got him! Or he got us, I'm not sure who's the winner here. Us, most likely.

P.S. Pro-tip: If you suspect to be weighed (which we were), put on the least amount of clothing you can get away with, and no jewellery. I literally only wore a bra, panties, and this lightweight dress, to add as little extra weight as possible.

6. Put on a pretty outfit
There are weeks where all I wear is yoga pants, old jeans, and scrubs. It may be comfortable, but it's no fun, and it definitely doesn't make me feel pretty or sexy. But once you're in the comfy-clothes rut, it's really hard to climb out of it again! 
Well, once again thanks to the doctor's visit, I have rediscovered my closet, and I have promised myself that I will put a bit more effort into getting dressed again.



7. Bake a cake
Nothing makes me feel like a domestic goddess like baking. I'm convinced that it's impossible to feel like a failure if you have baked a loaf of bread or a delicious cake that day. I made this coconut banana bread with lime glaze, and it's to die for. Seriously, seriously good. 

8. Feed the cake to people and bask in the glow of their praise  
Well, the fencing guys liked it, and they didn't hold back with their compliments. I love them.

9. Go to the dump
Okay, this may sound weird, but hear me out. I don't know about you, but knowing that my garbage or recycling bins are full, is giving me slight anxiety. I can't ignore it; in my subconscious, I know that there are overflowing bins in my life. It bugs me. Every time I throw something away and see the garbage bin in the kitchen get fuller, my anxiety level rises, knowing that once I have to take the full bag out, there won't be any room for it in the big bin. It sounds ridiculous, but that's how my brain works. I didn't ask for it, believe me.
But, on the bright side, going to the dump and getting rid of the garbage is a deeply satisfying experience. It's Feng Shui on steroids! Few things make me feel more accomplished than literally ridding my life of garbage.

*P.S. In case you're wondering why we aren't just putting the garbage out for pick-up: That service doesn't exist where we live. We're truly in the country!


10. Blog about it
Because blogging makes everything better.  



Shirtdress: Work'n Play (a local store)
Booties: Mark's (not available any more; similar)
Belt: Taken from my husband (similar)




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Saturday, 15 April 2017

Why I want to tell my story


I have tried to suppress the impulse for a very long time. Years. There are lots of reasons why I shouldn't do it: For one, it would be way easier not to. Why put yourself out there for all the world to see and criticize? Why not live your life quietly, happy with what you have? 

I tried, but the need wouldn't leave me alone. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Every walk, every yoga session, every beautiful sunset, every time I stared into a campfire, lost in thought - it was there. Nudging me. There was a story inside me that wanted to come out. I tried to ignore it. If you ignore it long enough, it will eventually give up, right? 

Wrong. It didn't. 

'But I'm scared,' I would argue with The Story. 'I'm terrified. I'm not good enough. People will judge me. My family will get mad at me. Why are you making me do this?'

'Because you have to. It will set you free.'

"When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending." (Brené Brown)

I come from a long line of story-deniers. In my family, we don't talk about stuff. We don't share how we feel. We don't interact with the world. You put on a mask when you have to deal with people, and that mask stays firmly in place. You never take it off. You never let your guard down. You never show weakness. You don't share your doubts and insecurities. What goes on inside you is nobody's business. You do your work, and deal with all the unpleasant mushy stuff - heartbreak, depression, anger, jealousy, feeeeelings -  on your own. 

That way of thinking suffocated me. It drove me nuts. I can't hold my emotions in - if I try, they will drown me. They need to come out.
The other downside to this sort of thinking is that if everybody hides their vulnerabilities, you feel like the only messed-up person in the world. You think you're the only one who can't hold it together, who has these ugly feelings. 
You feel broken. Worthless. Less than what you should be.


You know what saved me? 

Memoirs. 

As you may know, I have always loved books. For a long time, all I read was fiction; as a matter of fact, I believed that's what it means to be a writer: To make up worlds that don't exist. I was aware of biographies, of course, but thought only famous people get written about. 

I will never forget the feeling that overcame me when I read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Her memoir was the first one I read that spoke deeply to me. Not because we had so much in common (we don't), but because I was in awe of her courage. Jeannette was a successful career woman living in NYC, yet she decided to bare her soul and openly write about a family that was deeply flawed. And she didn't do it in an accusatory manner - she did it with incredible grace, dignity and love.

I was mesmerized.
From that moment on, memoirs became not only my favourite genre, but an addiction. There's nothing I find more fascinating than learning people's stories. Reading about other people's struggles helped me with my own, because it showed me: I'm not alone.
I may have grown up in a world where people hide behind facades and silence, but that didn't mean I had to continue to live like that for the rest of my life.

There were people out there brave enough to share their vulnerabilities, who opened their hearts and souls for everyone to see!

These storytellers became my heroes. They were doing the bravest thing I could imagine: Owning their story.
Sharing their flaws, because we all have them. 


I want to become one of them.

I'm not a brave person. On the contrary: I've been scared for most of my life. Still am. New people, new situations, arguments, disagreements, judgement, pain, loneliness - I fear all of those things.
(Also: Snakes, falling off my horse, getting sick, our neighbours getting made at us, losing my eyesight, bossy women, teenagers, putting my foot in my mouth, my husband dying before me, not appreciating what I have until I lose it. The list goes on.)

I have learnt that I'm not alone: all of us are afraid. No person is born fearless.
But we have a choice of how we want to deal with it:
Hiding and hoping that nobody will ever discover our flaws and weaknesses; or facing it head on.

Everybody has a story. And I have been saved by other people's stories over and over again.
They made me believe in myself.
They made me believe in the power of love.
They made me stronger.
They showed me that being weird is okay, and that being different is what makes life interesting.

Now it's my turn: It's time to tell my story.

Not only to write my own brave ending - but to show others that they are not alone.

We are all in this together.

Much love, Miriam



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