Catching up on this year's reflections

December 08, 2010

Really excited about the prospect of reflecting on what an amazing year it has been, I have already fallen behind with my Reverb 10 posts. I admit, the season - shopping for the perfect Christmas tree, December houseguests, trips to the markt for more Glühwein - has taken over and I owe myself a step back to fully appreciate the reflections of the past year.

So, without further procrastination...

Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

I must admit, I kind of scoffed at this prompt when I first saw it. Life often gets in the way of writing (duh!). But when I pushed myself to think about it, I suppose there are a few things that hold me back: learning German has taken over much of the English in my brain, making my spelling, grammar and otherwise general writing abilities suffer; and if I'm honest, abundant online shoe shopping probably takes time away as well. Since I now live in Germany and must learn the language, there's not much I can do there. And considering that shoe shopping is fodder for my other blog, I consider that a worthwhile investment as well. Guess I'll just have to do the best I can...

Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

This is a tough one. My year was filled with amazing moments as I discovered more about this new country I call home, but I think a real turning point for me came on the Spanish island of Mallorca during our September holiday. Standing at our hotel pool, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea (my favorite body of water in the world), I felt so far removed from being American, it was liberating. I do mean this in the kindest sense. I was on vacation with no intinerary, no plans, no stress- absolutely no thought in my head other than laying in the sun for days on end. Completely relaxing on holiday is something unheard of for me (and for most Americans, unfortunately). It always seems there's something back at home to remember, email to be read or tours to check in to. This was my first trip ever where I felt none of those pressures and just spent hours taking in the amazing landscape around me while being warmed by the Spanish sun. I realized just how lucky I am to now be living in Europe and adopting this wonderful way of life.

Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

I Tweeted my first thought when I first read this, and I stand by the wonder I've experienced this year - seasons. Coming from California, land perpetual sun and 60ºF weather, being able to celebrate each season with an explosion of blooms in the park, trees so colorful they look as if set ablaze or waking up to the hushed snowfall outside has been magical. I'm amazed at how each season seems to be more beautiful than the last and can't imagine living without it now.

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

The most significant thing I probably did this year was let go of my irrational fear of speaking less-than-perfect German. Of course, my German is still so far from perfect, it's laughable, but I'm no longer afraid to open my mouth and just let the German I do know come out. Sometimes I ramble, sometimes I still get nervous on the phone and have to jot down a few key things I know I need to say, but I realized that I'll never make any progress if I don't try. And I know that people appreciate my attempt, even though I often sound like a 2-year-old. This language is crazy, difficult and often makes little rational sense (see: Mark Twain's The Awful German Language to get an idea of what I'm up against), but unfortunately for my lackluster language skills, I live in Germany. I owe the Germans my very best attempt - scared or not.

Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Sunday morning pancakes. Materials? The usual eggs, butter, flour, sugar, along with a sprinkling of flaked coconut and chopped macadamia nuts. Next thing to make? Can't tell - it's a Christmas surprise! Definitely going to need to spend plenty of time on it though.

Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

Ahh, the joys of online communities. Connecting with people online has been instrumental to overcoming the often lonely life of an expat. Not only do I hear more from long-lost Facebook friends since they discovered I'd taken up residence overseas, but I also found amazing friends here in Germany through various online forums, as well as through other expat blogs. I am so thankful this technology is around, as I don't know how I would have connected with other people who are in such a similar, unique place in their lives - oh yeah, and speak English.

As for the second part, I would love to connect more with the German community in which I live in the next year. Germans are notoriously hard to get to know, but I'd like to try. It's wonderful to have so many friends here I can communicate with in English, but I seeing as I live in Germany, connecting with more Germans should also be part of the experience. Here's hoping my language abilities can keep up! 

Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

It's funny, but all my life I've felt different. Different from my friends. Different from my community. Different from most of the people around me. It used to be little things like how tall I am, how I dressed or how I always seemed to have different hobbies and ways I preferred to spend my time. After moving halfway around the world, I no longer feel so different. At first it was those little things - that upon arriving here, people took one look at me and spoke German, assuming I was one of their own. More importantly, this new way of life, new friends who have also decided to make a life in a new place and new travel possibilities seems to just fit in a way my life before never did. And so my 'differentness' has turned into a sense of belonging - and has given me a truly beautiful life.

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische