What it is and why it is

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Here is the latest addition of body art!

After my first tattoo, I thought I would never get another. Not because I regretted it, but I because I didn’t want to get hooked on it and have a body full of symbols, pictures, phrases etc. that mean a lot to me. Eleven years later and here it is.

“here comes the sun”

I appreciate that a lot of Beatles songs are popular for tattooing but here’s what this particular one means to me…

Not only is it done in my favourite colour (coral), the colour of a sunrise, and in my own hand-writing, I’ve always gone back to that particular song when times got challenging. It reminds me of a moment where I felt completely happy and at ease with my life.

I was on a run and came across a playground. I decided to jump on the swings for a while and did some reflecting. I had a swing set as a kid and I spent a lot of happy times on it. I instantly got that feeling of innocence and bliss at the exact moment that song came on my iPod. From that moment on, when I hear that song, or sing it to myself, I am reminded that no matter how tough things are, they will always get better or maybe they’re just not as bad as I make them out to be.

I am very fortunate to have a life with abundant love and happiness and I am thankful for every single challenge that has brought me to exactly where I am today. Now, I have a physical reminder of the divine evolution of my life thus far.

 


December 1st

I’m a little emotional today because today is the day that I would be decorating my house for Christmas. It’s a bittersweet sacrifice because it was something that I truly loved doing. Now that all of my decorations are packed away, perhaps it’s the entire tradition that I’ve created for myself that is getting me choked up. 

I would also be planning my annual Christmas party. I always had so much fun preparing for the night where I could catch up with friends to share a drink and/or a laugh. This is another tradition that I will be skipping this year.

My recent thoughts of nostalgia for the holidays brings me to the idea of family.

I have a very broad definition of family. It may be too broad for some to understand or to adapt for themselves, but I am truly proud of it. It is very hard to explain but I will break it down here…

I am the only biological child of my parents. Both of my parents have been married prior to each other. However, my sister and my brother with whom I share a mother with, have always been my sister and my brother – NOT “half”.

My brother and sisters father and his wife are like a second set of parents to me. Their daughter is like another sister to me. They are so much a part of my life that, to others bewilderment and confusion, there is nothing odd about my going to their house for a Thanksgiving dinner. I see this relationship as completely normal but I guess that from the outside looking in, it is rather quite unusual. All three of them have been a big part of my life and I only see those relationships as a bonus amount of love in my life, not an oddity. 

My father had a son, before I was born, who was adopted by another man. He reconnected with us and chose to disconnect himself again. One of the greatest days of my life was to meet my brother. Although it’s been over ten years since I saw him last, and as much as I know it breaks my dads heart that he’s not around, I will never consider him a “half” brother, he will always be whole.

My dad has remarried to a woman with two children of her own. They may not have asked for a sister, they may not need one, but I will always consider them a sister and a brother. Her parents are my grandparents; her sister, my aunt, and so on. 

My point is, I feel as though adding “step” or “half” or “in-law” to someone diminishes their meaning.

I grew up knowing people with a lot of “steps” in their lives and it always seemed that their respect and faithfulness to those people were less than what they would give of the “non-step” people in their lives. I do not think it is fair to do that to anybody and being a “step” is one of the hardest roles in life. 

The same rules apply with “in-law”. My brother in-law is my brother and my sister in-law is my sister. Plain and simple. The day that they become a part of my family, it is my promise to love them unconditionally – just as I would do for every other member. 

As for my “half” sister and brother – I guess that’s where it all started for me. I came into their lives when they were nine and ten and I am so grateful to them for never, not for a single second, making me feel like a “half”.

Some may think my view is naive or hokey, but I truly believe that the more love you have in your life, the better life you’ll have. Because I have never categorized those relationships, I have had an abundance of love and happiness as a result. I will faithfully stand by the people I love to the bitter end. I will fight for them, I will sacrifice for them. I will do whatever it takes to always make them feel whole.


Confessions of a Relationship-aholic

This may be one of the most revealing blog post that I’ve made. I usually shy away from writing about the more sensitive and painful topics because I’m somewhat of an avoider in that sense. However, I am a deeply emotional person so for those who know me very well, they are surprised by that fact.

I am 28 years old and single. I am not married and do not see marriage in my near future. I’ve often made jokes about how I would love to have a wedding but not a marriage. I’ve pretty much made it a personal goal of mine to be the last of my friends and family to walk down the isle (although that hasn’t always been entirely by my choosing). I don’t believe in soul mates or love at first sight but I am a strong believer in true love. I know people that you can tell were supposed to be together but I think it’s a very rare but special occurrence. I have never felt that knock-your-socks-off-shout-from-the-rooftop-write-it-in-the-sky kind of love. Part of me knows that that’s exactly the kind of love I deserve, part of me doubts that exists in real life. 

I’m writing this because I have clarity that I never want to forget, and if it helps someone to finally let go of a relationship they know in their heart isn’t working, or to remind other single women of who they are and what their purpose really is, then I’m happy.

I’ve been in a lot of relationships over the years. Some were long, some short. Some were easier to let go of than others. Some have made me sick to my stomach, not eat for days and even make me feel like I was worthless. And I’m glad they did. I have learned, little by little, what I deserve and what I don’t in a relationship. I’ve made some of the same mistakes repeatedly. I’ve hurt good people. But I still get into these relationships with a rather delusional expectation and sacrifice pieces of myself in hopes for that whirlwind romance bologna.

I’m not very good at the whole trust thing. I don’t believe in offering a clean slate of trust to everyone that comes into my life as I am more of a sceptic. It takes a long time for my bullet-proof wall to crack open, but when it does, the other side (if you make it) can be filled with roses, rainbows and idyllic sunshine. 

Here’s a brief background as to why I may be considered jaded: My parents marriage ended because of a long long long-standing affair. I’ve witnessed first hand some serious manipulation resulting in some serious pain. I’m not one who agrees with making excuses for behaviour because of hiccups in parent/child relations and in no way feel victimized or stinted in any way. However, that being said, overall trust for me is a challenge.

Another thing that seems to get me into relationship trouble is that, as a lot of women tend to do, I make a lot of sacrifices and settle to make someone else happy. I have so many goals, aspirations, dreams and ideas that I am in love with. There are so many things I want to do and see that I could be content for the rest of my life fulfilling each and every single one (like finishing the book I started writing…stay tuned!). But, as I enter a relationship, those things become the number two priority. That is the biggest mistake! To settle with someone else’s dreams rather than your own is the biggest disservice you could possibly do to yourself.

Now that I am single again, I am more excited to continue with my own plans than I am to meet any parents. I don’t believe that I am being too picky or too selfish by not settling for anything less than my kind of perfect. I will hold out for another 28 years if I have to in order to find that person who respects my independence, sees my imperfections merely as minor hurdles and will love me to the moon and back anyways.  

 

 


C + M + L = <3

I would like to introduce you to just a few of the great people that I spent the majority of my time with while living in Berlin.

 

Claire

Claire is my brothers’ wife and the mother of my nephew Maxim.

The first time I met Claire was upon my arrival in Germany a few months ago, even though most of my immediate family had already met her years ago. I had emailed and spoken to her on the phone and heard so much about my brothers’ beautiful wife, but never physically met her myself.

I cleared my mind of others meetings and relationships with Claire and met her with an open mind and heart. I assumed that since my family is so close and my sibling relationships are the most important to me, this would be an easy sisterhood to develop. What I didn’t take into account was the fact that her upbringing was very different from the ultra-blended, dramatically unique family that I was brought up in.

Claire had taken a lot of chances, moving to Germany to create a life for her and her new family. I can’t imagine all of the overwhelming changes that she had to endure all the while being a great wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I may not have understood her at all times, I may have been disillusioned when she didn’t instinctively understand me, but I love her all the same – like there are no differences at all – like family.

My brother calls his wife his “Clarity”. I got to see beyond the cute nickname and understand why she has deserved such a regard. Claire is the definition of clarity. She is obviously super model-beautiful but her depth is also crystal-clear. She is intelligent and practical. She has great expectations that are unquestionably justified. Claire is also protective and private and may hate that I am going into detail about her, but I do so anyways because maybe if she reads this, she will understand just how much I love her…for exactly who she is.

 

Maxim

Maxim is my newest nephew! I arrived in Germany when he was nearly three months old. It had been quite some time since there had been a baby born into my family so it’s easy to forget what it’s like to have one around. It’s amazing and surreal when your siblings turn into parents so it was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss, even though he lived so far away. My meeting Max was definitely a huge motivation for my trip. I had his picture as my cell phone screen-saver for months leading up to it, and every time I was faced with a challenge or a road-block in my plans, I would look at his picture and be reassured that nothing would stop me from getting to him. Every minute that I was able to spend with him, once I arrived, reassured me that every sacrifice that I made was worth it, just to see him smile.

In the three months I was reminded just how challenging caring for a baby is. It doesn’t matter if you are happy or sad or distracted by any other emotional or physical demand or crisis, it all has to be set aside when that baby needs you. I was reminded of all the credit and respect that a mother deserves and may not always receive.

Max is a pure gem. He filled my heart with so much love and joy and I just about burst every time he greeted me with a big smile and a giggle (which he did nearly every single time he saw me) and my heart melts with every thought of him still. 

There were so many picture-perfect moments with Max but I felt that instead of grabbing my camera each and every time, I would take a mental picture and really capture the tender moments with my heart. I know that he will not remember my visit or the many phases he has already gone through in his young life, but I am so blessed that I will. I would sometimes stare at him and wish that he never forgets that every single day of his life, from before his very first day in the world, beyond his capacity to even remember, he is loved. Imagine if we all could remember, and never take for granted for even a day, that there has always been at least one person that has loved us, wished nothing but the best for us, each and every single day of our existence. His young life has reminded me that I am capable of being and doing so much more than I even comprehend and to never take a single second for granted. My little bubba is already making an impact on the world and he doesn’t even know it yet!

As I said goodbye to him, leaning over his crib, he was the typical Max that I love so much. As my heart was breaking, he sent me off with the image of his perfect little smile, his squinting blue eyes, and the sound of his gut-busting giggle embedded in my memory for life.

 

Lucas

Lucas is my brother. He is nine years my senior so it goes without saying that our lives went through different phases at vastly different times. Growing up, I never really knew him. I say that, not because we didn’t see each other or didn’t talk, but because in order for me to feel like I truly know someone, I need to have those intimate, meaningful, personal, soul-baring and fulfilling conversations (I’m very emotional but have a hard shell so…it is what it is). He left home and started his travelling adventure very young, which made me even younger. The extent of my brother-sister quality time was during short visits between stints living in B.C., Thailand, Australia, Ireland, Paris…and on and on and on…needless to say, those intimate conversations rarely happened.

Since he has settled in Germany with a family of his own, I knew it was time to ambush him and get to know who he really is. I could never have anticipated all that I ended up learning about him.

My brother is the definition of the phrase, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. I have never witnessed someone to be as hard-working (since my dad of course), as determined, as positive and as ambitious – all at once – in my life – like I have with my brother. I guess I took for granted the knowledge, confidence and personable skills he has gained over the years immersing in other cultures. Who moves to a new country, not knowing anyone or even the language, to start a business, for the thrill of the challenge? My brother is the kind of person to do exactly that. He works hard to play hard, sometimes to a fault, but always with a laugh.

I happened to be in Germany during a family crisis taking place back home. I got to experience how difficult it is to be so far away from family during tough times, knowing there is nothing you can do to immediately help the situation. My brother has missed a lot of both good and bad times while he has been living his life around the world. While I thought he had it so easy, off living the good life, I came to understand that there are some heart-breaking challenges and sacrifices he has to deal with as well, while creating a life far away from family. It turns out that our coping mechanisms were aligned in this particular situation but I observed his reactions with more thoughtfulness and admiration than I would have had I not been by his side. It takes a kind of strength beyond my imagination to be able to rely on your own self to pull up your socks and get on with life as you’ve created it.

I got the opportunity to observe him run a restaurant, be a boss, a chef, a dad, a husband, a friend, be the nice guy, the funny guy, the charming guy, the personable guy, the sociable guy…and a brother, and that’s the role that I am luckiest to have a part of my life. My life is forever changed because of all of those brother-sister memories that were created over those three months. Luke has a lifetime worth of really cool and fascinating stories that would impress anybody. Cool stories aside, I am so honoured that I had the chance to get to know my brother. He has taught me that great things can happen in life, even if you have to make some tough sacrifices along the way.

 

And there you have it…

Thanks to those three very special people, I have a heart full of great memories to look back on with an abundance of gratitude. I will miss them everyday but will be forever grateful for every single hug, laugh, tear (and sangria) that I got to share with them. I will follow them to the ends of the earth, if need be, to get my fix again real soon!


Sweet Sweet Stephanie

I am dedicating this post on my blog to my sister Stephanie. It’s a measly gesture, compared to everything that she has given me throughout my life. It’s all that I can offer, as I sit here in Germany, wishing she was by my side. It has been hard without her here. It has been tough, not being able to call her or see her whenever and just talk. There are so many things that I’ve experienced in my time away from “home” and I know that she has been going through things back “home” that I have been absent for as well. 

The thing that I’ve come to realize mostly, is that I don’t give her enough hugs or tell her that I love her as much as I should, rather, as much as she deserves. (It’s not really an area that I pick up on or am sensitive to but that’s something I can work on).

When I was packing my suitcases, heading off for the few month, she slipped a few notes in the various pockets which I discovered at random. The first couple of weeks in Berlin, which I was the most home sick, I would find a note from my sister and I would curl up with it in bed, read it and cry. But those notes appeared exactly when I needed them the most. It may sound pathetic but if you could possibly understand what this woman means to me, it wouldn’t seem so nuts.

She’s ten years my senior. She’s from an entirely different decade. But she is my best friend.

I idolized her as a young girl. She would take me to meet her friends, I was a novelty with my white-blonde wavy hair. I would go to her dance recitals in awe. She actually had me convinced that she was Janet Jackson in one of the music videos and I believed her because she was that good of a dancer. She would force my legs into a pretzel and teaching me to point my toes like her. I swear she thought I was a toy born specifically for her to play with. And I loved every second of it.

When she had Trent, my nephew, it was as though little changed. She was still the fun-loving, light-hearted person I always knew her to be. I spent so much time just hanging out with her and Trent. She had become a mom, a single one at that, and she always remained the strong, positive, genuine, thoughtful sister that I had before.

I had lived with her through college. I broke up with a boyfriend and moved out of the place that we shared and there was no question as to where I would move to afterwards. She would make sure that I had a home no matter where/how/when. That is how I ended up living with her again for a couple of weeks before my trek to Berlin. If there is anywhere I feel at home, it’s wherever she is. Whether she is offering me her pajamas, sharing a glass of Amaretto, sitting with me for dinner – my sister is my home. 

Steph has always been on my side. Through relationships, school, work, family drama, hard times and good; she has always been in my cheering section. I know that there is at least one person out there in this world who has my back unconditionally. She has seen me through my worst, ugliest, meanest days and is still able to love me on my kindest, happiest, prettiest days. She is my anchor. She keeps me grounded, reminds me who I am when I have trouble remembering and she never thinks that she is too good to do so.

There you have it: my ode to my sister Stephanie. (Even though I could go on for days…)

Thank you Steph, for being exactly who you are. Be strong, carry on. See you soon, loving you and missing you everyday.  

 

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Die Expectations

(The Expectations)

 

I’ve reached the halfway mark of my trip. I have learned a lot about myself in the month-and-a-half that I have been away from “home”. I have learned a lot about who I am, about the kind of person I want to be, about other people in general and have a clearer idea of what I want for my future. 

A lot learned, you might say, in such a short time. Yes…and no. 

I will admit I had a lot of expectations leading up to and in the beginning of my trip to Germany. I had expected that I would instantly become the person that I view myself to be, but for those attributes to be more apparent to others; that I would fit right in; that I would become this ultra-extroverted person who is fearless in taking the world by storm. 

Until, of course, I learned that having expectations killed almost every single experience I had and was about to embark upon. I found myself playing out every encounter; every engagement; every moment with a pre-existing idea of the way things would turn out. Not only did it make things less fun and spontaneous, it literally made things suck!

I have seen some very random, yet unbelievable things here in Berlin. I have allowed myself to let go of reservations and be a part of the society and culture in any given moment. But I have learned that the moment I place an expectation on any given circumstance, the Gods would put me in line and remind me to let go and just go with it. Honestly, I have had more fun doing so. 

It has sunk in; I get it; message received – I must let go of any expectations and let things happen exactly the way that they were meant to happen. I have given myself the permission to stress less and enjoy anything that is bound to come my way and I could not be happier. It may seem like a mediocre relegation at best, but for someone who is high-anxiety, it is a breath of fresh air. 

I have no expectations for the remainder of my trip, but I can say with complete confidence that I will enjoy every single day and be open to whatever it is that lay before me. 

 

Love and light from Berlin.


Namaste

During the first couple challenging weeks in Berlin, I was hoping to find peace within the emotional chaos that ensued. I had planted myself, uncomfortably, at a few patio bars pursuing social interactions. I spend a good amount of time with my head buried in a map so I was starting to feel restless.

One day I had an epiphany. Yes, I enjoy being social and enjoying some great cocktails with great people but that’s not who I am all the time. I know I’ve demanded for a lot of changes to occur during this trip but my soul is still my soul. So instead of me trying to force certain situations to happen, I needed to take it back to what TRULY makes me happy. 

I believe that life takes you where you need to go and apparently that was to the other end of my street in Berlin. I stumbled upon a hot yoga studio, and without hesitation, I signed myself up. I have questioned a lot of things over the last few weeks but my joining yoga wasn’t one of them – even though the classes are taught in German. I barely understand my drink order never mind a 90 minute yoga class!

Since yoga has been a huge part of my life, it showed up exactly when I needed it, as usual. It was a bit of a challenge understanding the instructions and I spent a lot of time in my downward dog with my neck strained from looking up but the positions are thankfully the same.

Once class had finished, I looked around the room and was so thankful that I was practising yoga in Berlin! I was sitting in a room full of people who, for whatever reason, needed yoga in their lives as I do and it made me feel truly happy. The most important part of that class needed no translation: “Namaste”.


Burlington vs. Berlin

So I decided to move away from my hometown of Burlington and make big big changes because I was bored of the sameness that I was feeling. I didn’t want to get stuck in a rut and years from now wonder what happened with my life. I changed everything. I sold my car, quit my job, left my family and friends and all of the comforts that got too comfortable.

Now, here I am in Berlin. I don’t speak German, I don’t have a job or a place to live in a couple weeks (that’s a whole other story). I have met a couple of friends and am fortunate to have some family here; my brother, his wife and my four-month old nephew. 

I came here with very little planned. I am a creature of habit and am one who prefers plans and structure. Because I wanted complete change, I thought I’d change that as well. Little did I realize how hard it would all be to completely change almost everything I knew as my regular life in a plane ride. 

After a week of cat-sitting (another story for another time) I arrived to the place I had rented. I was alone and scared. Yes, I was scared and I can admit it. I am traveling and staying alone might I add! And Berlin is no Burlington!

This is the photo of my doorway. Yes I did barricade it and I understand how ironic this photo is…

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On a sweeter less scary note, here is where I start my day every morning

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and here is the building for my first month in Berlin

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It is still a little daunting traveling alone and it can be very lonely but I have definitely learned A LOT in the two weeks I’ve been here and can’t even imagine what’s to come next, the good, not-as-good, scary, exciting…

 


Culture Shock

I`ve done a good amount of traveling in years passed and I`ve never really felt `Culture Shock` and I still don`t know if that`s exactly what I`m feeling.

I have been in Germany for one week now and I`m already feeling things that I thought would take longer to feel.

In one week I have met some beautiful people that have helped me and continue to do so with no expectations in return, just those rare gold-hearted people that are few and far between. I think my almost four-month old nephew recognizes my face since he smiles when I see him. He, Maxim, is an angel by the way and has already perfected a cheeky grin. I`ve spent time with my brother – more than probably our entire lives. I`m learning about exactly the strong and positive person I always thought him to be. His wife is a sweet woman who could be nothing less to be married to my brother. I have already had laughs with great people and bumps in the road. I get lost, find my way, see and learn something new daily.

I know how truly lucky I am for this experience.

I have had some brief doubts though. I miss my `normal`. I am missing my family/man/friends/bed/puppy/not getting lost/understanding what it is someone is saying to me/understanding ingredients or menu items/enclosed showers/not living out of a suitcase. I wouldn`t call it `Culture Shock` exactly because I am loving it here already, but it`s still missing what I came here to find.

I am excited for every new experience, don`t get me wrong.

The vodka makes me feel closer to home, I have an international cell number, I have Internet access and a pen and paper. Things should start to feel normal…any day now… 

 


Vienna

Vienna

Got lost in Vienna, Austria, but I will always find my way to a Starbucks! Just what I needed while enduring no sleep for a couple days.

I thought I’d take a mini jaunt in Vienna during my lay-over to Berlin but that turned into me walking around aimlessly. At least I saw a bit of Austria even if the happiest times were sipping on my Frappaccino!


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