Ready or Not

I’m almost packed and ready to move ahead with my new life back in Colorado. I am sad, but ready to take the plunge. Positivity and confidence are my main fuel source at present and I’m trying to burn them as copiously as possible while approaching my next steps. Why is this so hard? I have had two friends recently inform me that there is a surprising adjustment between living abroad for an extended time and then coming back to the US. I already feel this in my body, in my soul. Uncertainty continues to poke its head into my every frame of being. There isn’t a moment that passes where I’m not caught up in the reverie of where I’m going to live, buy clothes, get a car or a job. All of which is out there right now for the taking. Even though this is the land that I left, I am entering it a stranger in many ways. Very few of my old friends are able to reach out with support. There is nothing more humbling than asking to sleep on someone’s couch and the most I could scrounge up were three nights. Please, please don’t feel sorry for me! This is life and most people have continued on with their own as they should. I completely understand and am not feeling resentment in any way. I expected this in many ways. How strange, to travel alone within four different countries, only to come back to feeling true solitude. Imagine the feeling of being completely in debt with only the items I can fit in my suitcase. How does one pack for a new life? Again, I want to be very clear that I do not desire pity or remorse. I made these choices and I will never regret them. I merely ask you to be present and see what comes up for you when your eyes cross over the words. It’s surprising, but there is a lot of raw power when I am stripped down from things or people that were once apart of my normalcy. It turns out my material possessions aren’t important. I have things I carry with me that I am attached to, but even those I can leave behind without much after thought. Friends, family, people we think will show up for us even in our darkest days turn out to only be another belief. A nice thought that gives us comfort. Ultimately, they can change as easily as the wind when timing and circumstances come into play. I think it’s important to happily (with joy and appreciation) let them all go, along with any other evidence of my old ways of thinking. Ask anyone of a certain age and they will affirm that everyone will eventually fade away. The only thing that ties us to this world is our love and compassion for ourselves.

It is a good feeling to be able to look at this fear head-on instead of crumbling beneath its weight. I am basking in it. Right now, in this very exposed, vulnerable moment I have the realization that nothing can hurt me. I know the key to creating an abundant life is as easy as opening myself up to it. I have the capabilities of excelling within a career that brings me happiness. While working alongside coworkers that I will enjoy and respect. I look forward to sharing brunches with new friends who are more closely aligned with my compassion and morales. It makes me smile to think about living with someone that appreciates the warmth and laughter I bring into a home. All the while loving myself enough to let it all in. I no longer have to live feeling trapped or locked in chains of fate or the belief that shit just happens. We all create our own world every minute of everyday. I am so grateful for the tremendous feat of understanding this on essentially every level.

Since I’m on the topic of gratitude, I am very fortunate to have a big powerhouse in my corner. Joe will never allow me to be homeless. His love and support has have given me courage to pursue anything I wish to accomplish. He has allowed me to settle in to the perspective that anything is achievable. I foresee remarkably fabulous times ahead.

Exquisite Estate

I arrived yesterday to Bristol. This is my first time ever visiting the United Kingdom. Chewy and I entered immigration without a hitch. Whew! I received my new passport before the plane ride, rented a car and then immediately drove to Newbury to the gorgeous estate where I am staying for the next 9 days. I am watching four fantastic Doxies/Doxens and we are about to go for our morning walk. Currently, it is overcast and very green as far as the eye can see. This is such a big relief after the blazing sun and intense humidity I encountered in Spain. I chatted with a few people from the UK during my flight here and they mentioned Barcelona was extremely humid and not as enjoyable as their previous visits had been. Here in England there is a comfortable humidity in the air. Just right I would say. It’s about 20 degrees cooler as well which is absolutely fabulous!
I’ve certainly done some crazy things in my life as many of you are aware. But nothing even compares to driving a manual car on the left side of the street. This is a tremendous challenge for me!! I didn’t realize it was going to be so disorienting. The concern isn’t so much with the turns, countless round-a-bouts, or even the bikes on the left. It has to do with the spacial feel of the car. It’s like I can’t tell where the center is or how much room there is on the left or right sides. I didn’t even know this played a part in how I drive. It’s simply unexpected at how different the car feels just a few feet in the other seat. The mirrors are not where I expect them to be and produce images that are completely askew, my left hand grabbing the stick shift is awkward, and then when I get out of the car I feel completely out of whack like I have been drinking or just got off a rollercoaster. I can say with complete certainty that this is the most challenging act I have ever taken on. I mean, even walking feels very muddled! Hopefully, I get used to it as I will have this car over the next 3 months. I dread driving again but I need to go to town soon to get yet another power adapter. I also need to get a new sim card for my phone as my Norwegian one doesn’t allow me to refill it in other countries. So I will be switching phone numbers yet again. Hopefully for the last time. 🙂
I am sharing some photos of the estate I am staying at and also more of my time in Spain. The area I was staying in the past two weeks is called Tarragona. It is incredibly beautiful with both mountains and a pristine coastline. It’s hard to get a true representation of how blue the ocean is here. More spectacular than the Caribbean or any beach I’ve seen so far. I learned from my conversations with others that this area, known as Catalonia or Catalunya has the richest soil in all of Spain. Which is partly why Spain doesn’t want to relinquish this land. Catalonians are currently in a very heated struggle trying to gain their independence from Spain. This is felt within the people I engage with. Some are very angry with Spanish people as they feel this restricts their freedom and they worry about their culture disappearing. Unlike Barcelona, which is mainly Spanish speaking, in Tarragona they speak mostly Catalan. I originally thought this would be very similar to Spanish, but in fact, it’s completely different. I’m not so great with placing languages but it sounds like a combination of French and Italian with a splash of Vietnamese?? Basically, it is worlds away from Spanish. Of course the people here are just as warm and inviting as every other latin individual I have crossed paths with. Much like in Barcelona, they have more physical contact with one another here. I see it with strangers, friends, couples (all sexualities) and even within siblings. They are far more physical with one another than in the United States. It is very endearing to watch. They have a deeper level of connection than we could ever understand, I believe. At least America is better than Norway in this area. The only time I had any physical contact with Norwegian strangers was when I did a face-plant on the aisle of a bus. Then I had a few people try to catch/grab me. Which made such a ridiculous situation all the more humorous!
I hope you are doing well wherever you might be in the world. I will post more pictures of the countryside very soon.

Spain, I really want to stay, but…

It’s really too hot here. Most of the European countries have had record highs this past summer. Even in Norway! Norway is typically known for consistent rainfall all throughout the year. Of course, while I was there they were experiencing a heat wave. In fact many of the farms near Oslo had to slaughter some of their animals for fear they would not survive the winter due to lack of food. I learned from the natives that this was something that has never happened before. In typical Norwegian fashion, they are currently in the process of building up support in case this happens again. Needless to say, the European Union has been very hot this past season. Unfortunately, Spain is by far the hottest I have experienced thus far. Chewy had a terrible incident at the farm I was going to stay at near Tarragona. He was panting so hard that he eventually threw up blood! Several times, intermittently over 5-6 hours. It freaked me out!! I quickly google’d what was happening and many websites listed this as a common symptom of heat stroke. Poor Chewy 😦 Fortunately, I was able to rescue us to a nearby small city. Here we have central air-conditioning!!! This is the first time I’ve had this comfort since living in Boulder. Oh the luxuries in life ❤
This wasn’t my only issue at the farm. I won’t go into the details, but needless to say I am very proud I was able to do something I have never done before. That was making a decision that was best for me while knowingly, hurting someone else in the process. Most of my life, I have learned to put my head down and just carry-on with whatever unpleasantness comes my way. While growing up, this was just a part of life. Life always equated to struggle no matter what. I would often wear this like a badge of honor. My ego was always happy to take pride in the ability to survive unsanitary, sometimes harmful conditions that many people I knew would never be able to deal with. I was stronger, resilient and able to persevere. “Building character,” as my mom would put it. All the while, I never had the courage to stand up to her or the rest of my family even when it felt unacceptable to the very core of my being. I was taught to not complain, put my nose to the grindstone and endure. Well, not anymore. I am proud to finally start listening to my needs and ardently making decisions that are true to myself. Even if I feel like shit in the process. Life doesn’t have to equal struggle. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Sure, we all become victims of unfortunate circumstances at some point, but this is always 100% because of the choices we’ve made. Sometimes what we are willing to “put up with” eventually closes the door to our true happiness. I’ve come to learn (thank you Abraham Hicks) that paying attention to our feelings is the most important power we have in order to make the correct choices in our lives. We are our own compass. We must follow this zealously.

Inner Voice

Today is my last day in Norway. I planned to stay until the end of the month, however situations have taken place that have pushed me to change my plans. I will now stay in Barcelona for a couple of weeks. I need to visit the embassy to update my passport, buy a few things that I have been without, and relax, relax, relax. It has been a very rewarding volunteering experience on this farm overall, but it has also been very tiring. The hours are very long and the manual labor is more than I expected. Yesterday, after a long day of moving heavy stones and wood, I fell asleep around 8pm!! Hopefully I won’t have quite so much exhaustion when I housesit on the farm in Amposta, Spain, which I recently discovered is actually part of Catalunya. My friend, Olau is also staying at this farm here in Norway. He is from Catalunya and has told me so much about the area. He has also been helping me with my Spanish which is extremely rusty to say the least. 😀 

I have learned so much about spirituality staying here with Raphael, Marianna and their daughter Inglend who lives next door with her 4 year old daughter, Joya. Also, the other volunteers have been incredibly important to my development and sanity. I consider myself to be very open-minded but am constantly surprised when I come up against my own personal walls and/or beliefs. Much of this has been in the form of learning to say no, even if a host is completely taking advantage of the volunteers. When I first signed up for this WorkAway, the profile says I will be working no more than 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. This isn’t even close to the amount of work I put in each week. Right now, for example, as I am taking about 45 minutes to write this at 6pm, Raphael keeps interrupting me, asking me to do more of his flower research. I look at Raphael and think, this is such a good person, I don’t want to upset him by telling him, no. I don’t want to appear as lazy or uncaring. Actually the idea of standing up to any authority figure makes me feel physically ill. I want to help wherever I can and be useful. Well, until I finally I hit my breaking point and just leave, like I am doing tomorrow. In fact, most of the other volunteers have already left or will leave today/tomorrow as well. It’s unfortunate that we are unable to communicate with him our issues. I truly believe that it will come across very poorly in his eyes. Maybe that is true, maybe it’s not, but why do I care so much? I will never see this man again after tomorrow. He orders people around all day while giving gratitude only to the trees and plants. The only positive comment he has made about my work has been for my flower research, which he really, really wants me to complete before I leave. Why do I ignore my needs for someone that cares so little for me? I think it has to do with the fact that I need to prove to myself that I am useful perhaps? I’m sure this stems from when I was a child trying to be useful, grown up to my family. Always working so frantically hard to try and please everyone. This is something I really need to change. 

One great thing I acquired during my stay here is a much better understanding of Rudolph Steiner. Many people back in the states know of him and his incredible gift he has provided people all over the world with the Waldorf schools. I only knew a little about these schools prior to leaving the US. I knew that the Waldorf schools were important, but I didn’t really understand how important until now. Waldorf prides themselves on allowing children to remain children for a very long time. Much longer than in the US. They teach kids about all religions, art, spirituality, loving themselves, not to mention advanced math, physics and science classes. They have one teacher (or 2) from the time they are young until they graduate. This is what Inglend does, she has a class of 28 student and she knows every one of them inside and out. She can be an appropriate mirror back to them. Encouraging them in the areas they individually need to develop further. Not just in studies but with feeling their emotions, knowing and trusting themselves, developing their intuitions and helping them form a stable platform so they are able to make their own choices all throughout their lives. With this and much more, they become extremely self-confident and trust their own instincts. Intuition is everything! It’s like we all have this huge superpower within us, guiding us, except we are never told to listen to it. I grew up very quickly and was discouraged from showing any kinds of emotions besides joy and happiness. I was constantly given praise by how much of an “adult” I was already, even at such a young age, around 8 or 9. This is one of the reasons why Waldorf schools are so incredible. I think it is very common, at least in the United States to raise ones kids the way they were raised. It is even more common to direct children to become just like the parents. I don’t necessarily mean they will have the same job. It goes much deeper than this. It seems to me that normal children are getting just a small view of the world and that is the parent’s view. This could be politically, nutritionally, emotionally, financially, honestly everything! Like it or not, most of us become our parents. Now imagine a child growing up with the power and influence to be able to make their own decisions from a very young age. They’ve already had an unbiased view of the entire world through their studies and development. This gives them the ability to have more of an idea what they want to accomplish. If they still don’t know, then they trust their instincts about what and who they love and how they feel as a starting point. What’s even more important is the kids love going to school. The way the schools operate in the US, at least in Kansas, nobody likes going to school. Mainly because they don’t have time to wait for kids if and when they fall behind. Then it becomes this mad dash to just finish. Who cares about doing what you love? People in Kansas don’t often get that opportunity. Which I believe is why depression is such a problem, especially for our younger societies. It has to do with the loss of connection with ourselves. When we do something or are in a situation we don’t like, we really feel it. This is our innate guiding compass in life. When we are in a relationship where we aren’t happy, we feel this within our bodies and souls. We can’t ignore it. In fact, the more we resist these feelings, the bigger it grows and the harder we fall. It’s completely normal to feel good or bad depending on the situation. How else are we able to determine where we want to go in life? Unfortunately, what I often do is I dismiss this feeling and bury it down very deeply. I start to feel emotionally sick, drained and all the while I continue to do that thing that doesn’t feel good. It gets to the point where I become depressed. In my opinion, depression is anytime we continue to do something that doesn’t feel good. We feel trapped, hopeless. But we’re not. In fact, I am just now realizing that if I pay close attention to how I feel in the very beginning and then act on it immediately, this would save me weeks/years of depression and despair. Why are we often so resistant to how we feel? We all want to have a job and purpose, this isn’t for lack of effort. Especially when I spend far more effort denying my feelings than if I would have just walked away in the beginning. Ahh life. At least I am able to feel a sense of gratitude for my stay here and walk away with a feeling of accomplishment. Not because of what I have accomplished while I am here, but because I have the courage to walk away from something that makes me feel awful. Maybe someday I will be able to communicate my feelings with others who are authority figures. Baby Steps 🙂 

I feel a little sad to be leaving Norway. I know I will be back again very soon. I already have several long-term options where I can stay for many months if I desire. But for now, I am going to avoid the cold weather and travel south. Talk with you again in Spain!!

Life with a Husky

I addition to Chewy, I am currently living with a Husky/Malamute mix named Ceasar (pronounced Say-Zar in Latvian). I’ve never lived with this type of dog before but I must say, he has a ton of personality! He is very vocal, mostly when things are not going his way. When he wants attention or to go for a walk he bounds up and down the stairs making “AARRRROOOOOO!!!” noises. It is very entertaining. When I start to brush him he cries like he is in pain and rolls over on his back. When we are hiking and I won’t let him go where he wants, he grabs the leash in his mouth and chomps down while making baby gurgling noises. Fortunately, he and Chewy are getting along great. Ceasar loves little dogs and I’ve even caught the two of them playing a little. Very sweet. I am enjoying him very much.

Another great thing about Norway is almost everyone’s home has a beautiful lake view. They are called fjords and were constructed by glaciers long ago. Fjords are filled with very clear fresh or seawater if they are connected to the ocean. There are over 1,000 fjords and are one of the main landmarks that distinguish Norway. The house I am staying in is about 50 feet from a freshwater fjord filled abundantly with fish. I actually tried to swim here for the first time today. The water is very cold!! It’s also worth mentioning the water here is very pure. Most families do not use filters or purification systems in any way. In fact, they balk at the idea. Much of the water is snowmelt from the mountains or glaciers. Which is why the “premium” water bottle company, Voss came to light. However is widely known locally that Voss is just Norwegian tap water. 😉 It’s so funny to me that so much money and preparation exist to get a $6 bottle of tap water to the US and people like myself will occasionally buy it thinking we are getting something special. Ahh Life!

 

Life Abroad

 

Velkommen!

I have been in Norway for 4 days now and I couldn’t be happier. Currently, I am dog/house sitting for a fabulous Latvian/Norwegian family in the Central part of Norway near a town called Jølster. The weather is absolutely beautiful! Most days have been in the lower 70s. The people here are nice despite the stereotypes that Norwegians are not very social. The scenery is truly wondrous. The Hucky/Malimute dog I am watching named Ceasar, is such a joy and he gets me outside everyday. Besides the landscape, the biggest things that have stood out so far are the following: everything is very clean, Norwegians follow all rules without hesitation, learning Norwegian is appreciated as citizens are very patriotic and proud of Norway, lastly, I am already addicted to the fantastic brown cheese – brunost.

Norway is the first stop on my journey. I will be here approximately 8 weeks total. Of course, this could always (and probably will) change. That’s the main tip I’ve learned so far about being an international nomad: trust that everything will work out. I’ve had a few bumps in the road already due to the misunderstanding of Norway’s dog policies. However, I think I am over the hump. What stood out to me most prominently, was a habit that I have been struggling with the past year. When something goes terribly wrong, my first reaction is to feel despair. I want to curl up in a ball and just cry. By the third time in one very long, exhausting day, I realized this is my go-to emotion. I crumble. I think of the worst case scenario and tend to go there immediately and play it out in my mind as if it’s reality. My life coach would probably tell me that I am addicted to this emotion. She is obviously right. Even though feeling despair is a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling, it sort of feels like home. I continue to come back to it again and again if only just because it’s my familiar habit. It’s as if somewhere, deep down I think this is my only choice. Well, one thing is for sure, I definitely need a different go-to emotion. The energy depletion that comes with despair alone is enough of a reason to reprogram something new. Not to mention the inefficency. Well, when I figure out how to do that I will let you know, for now – ha det.