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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