Happy Challenge: Round 2

A little over a month ago, I completed the 100 Happy Days challenge on my instagram. I used it as a way to count down until my trip to Alaska and as a way to make sure I appreciated as many moments as possible in those hundred days.

Challenges like this help to remind me that days are made up of different moments and experiences, and it’s our choice to focus on the good or the bad. For someone who struggled with severe depression for quite a long time, remembering to seek out the light and the good is a very important task. While it’s not a crippling fear of any sort, I do know that for someone like me, it can be easy to sink back into the unhappiness and self-isolation if I’m not conscious of my daily well-being.

All of the seriousness aside, I also enjoyed my first 100 days challenge because I started to find joy in simple things that previously I had taken for granted. A sunny day or simply having some quiet time to write became things that I learned to appreciate far more than before.

I’ve also always been known as somebody who doesn’t tend to finish what she starts. If I was even able to count how many projects I had started and hadn’t finished, I’d be appalled with myself. To say I have commitment issues is putting it lightly. To have completed the photo challenge without skipping a single day or dreading having to post a picture was a huge change for me.

Because of all of this, I decided to do a second round of 100 Happy Days. I’m only three days in as of today, and lot will be happening in the next ninety-seven days, so it should be another fun challenge. The final day (if I did my math correctly- which I didn’t do the first time) is scheduled to be December 31, so I will have moved from Germany to Texas, visited New York City with friends, seen Damien Rice and Jason Mraz in concert, visited family, and moved from Texas to Alaska by the time the hundred days are up. With all the moving and traveling that will be going on, it will also be a good way to keep me grounded.

I wanted to show off a few of my favorite moments from my first round of the challenge. I could have easily picked twice as many photos, but settled with five good memories, because they helped shape my growth during those hundred days.

day8

A few of the girls that quickly became my family while in Frankfurt. I know without a doubt that these three are lifetime friends and I wouldn’t trade our laughs and deep talks for the world.

day11

I visited Berlin for the first time nine years ago, and my visit in May this year was just as wonderful. I got to show off the unique city to my parents, and the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall will probably always be one of my favorite sights to visit in the world

day30

My job isn’t always just fun and playing games with the kids I watch. Sometimes, it gets very stressful and overwhelming. This Wednesday was one of those days of constant running around with no break in sight. The host mom I work for sent me out for drinks with friends, and being able to spend all night talking about everything under the sun was just what I needed.

day67

Another photo tied to a memory of a day that didn’t start out all that well. It was the 4th of July, and the only day where I was painfully homesick. I wanted to go out and celebrate with fireworks and barbecue, but without any Americans to spend the day with, I felt completely isolated. I ended up traveling to the American air force base close to where I live and spending the evening out there. It was one of those emotional days, but I ended up enjoying the evening and learning I can celebrate a holiday without needing to be surrounded by friends or family.

day90

Paris. All of Paris will be a fond life memory, but being able to just sit and enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower from my friend’s apartment was the most serene I felt the entire time I was in France. Oh, to be able to go back there and spend hours writing on that balcony. A girl can always dream.

listening to: Alt-J

Advertisements

Unexpected Request For Advice

I got an interesting email from a friend the other day, an email I was not expecting to get in this lifetime or any other. She just had one request for me: if I had any tips, songs, or articles to help with the moving on process because she knew I had been through a lot and had “come out better in the end”.

While it’s true that I have been through a lot and I’d love to use my story and experiences to help others, I never imagined that other people would notice and truly be interested in my advice. Along with the book that I’m working on about adoption, I have this pipe dream of helping young girls and women through difficult times they might be facing, especially when it comes to family or relationship-related issues.

I’ve tended to hide out in the shadows and avoid giving advice or opinions. I suppose that’s the shyness and the introvert in me. Sometimes, if it’s a topic I’m really passionate about, I can be a bit bolder and state my thoughts in a small group of people, but that’s always been my limit. I’m wanting to change that. One reason I’ve continued to blog (however infrequently) is that it’s a good starting point to share those thoughts, the history of what I’ve experienced, and the ways I’ve grown. I’ve always been better at sharing the deeper parts of my heart and soul when writing is involved.

I think one of the things I’ve discovered most in this reexamination of my life or reevaluation or whatever you choose to call it, is that having some sort of creative outlet is key. For me, that’s writing and sometimes drawing or painting. For others, that might mean doing something musical, or even just finding a system in your house to make menial chores more efficient. Being creative doesn’t always have to mean being artistic. Writing has been my way of getting my emotions out, whether they be happy, sad, frustrated, or just no longer motivated. One big reason I believe I was in such a deep depression for so long was simply because I was no longer able to get my emotions out. Bottling everything up causes people, or at least me, to implode.

Another important key to any sort of recovery that I’ve really been trying to practice is realizing that things happen for a reason. I read an article a couple days ago that presented the idea that each person in life has a lesson to teach. While a relationship might not have been a good fit, it shouldn’t be viewed as a failure either. Remembering that is so necessary for any type of healing. While you might not have any fond feelings for a person, you can at least know that they somehow impacted your life and you can grow from that impact. My first boyfriend was not a very good choice, but I learned to be a little more cautious before jumping into a relationship. The last relationship I was in, while emotionally draining and quite harmful to my mental health, showed me that I am far stronger than I thought I was and people can heal from even some of the hardest mental battles. It also taught me to trust my instincts more.

Obviously, one person isn’t going to have all the answers. I’m still learning more than I can ever express in words. Most of all, I remind myself every day that there are things to be learned and experience, and in order to grow as a person, I need to search out these lessons. Finding the silver lining, despite the cheesiness of those words, is becoming a habit in my life. If I’m able to do that, I can truly be proud of all that I’ve done and gone through because I’ve successfully made it through to the other side.

Lugano, Switzerland- August 2014
Lugano, Switzerland- August 2014

listening to: Damien Rice

A New Move

12 years, 1 month, and 17 days ago, I made my almost 13 year old self a promise: I would return to Alaska to live one day. I was able to visit the first two summers after I had moved, but the visits were always far too short. I certainly made sure everyone I came in contact with knew of my love for the state.

As I got older, I felt like the dream would never become a reality. I thought about moving up there for college, but the schools didn’t offer what I wanted to study at the time. I researched jobs up there, but didn’t feel like I could make enough to cover living expenses. Something just always seemed to be holding me back. After my trip to Alaska a month ago, I was reminded more than ever of that promise I had made myself as a kid. I hadn’t visited for 10 years, but my memories of my home were as sharp as ever. That’s when I first started planning (really planning) my move back.

One thing I’ve learned in my time in Germany, and really in the past year in general, is to start taking more risks. I’ve started living my life in a bolder way, and I think those actions have had a freeing effect on my attitude. While I’m still aware of responsibilities and the need to think things through instead of acting on every impulse I might have, I’ve stopped dwelling on possible outcomes for so long. I’ve learned to trust my gut a bit more.

December 29 is the moving date. I’ve got a couple of jobs lined up, a place to live with rent less than I ever imagined having to pay, friends that I’m excited to reconnect with more, and a new(ish) man that swiftly became the highlight of every day several months ago (more on that later- I’m still trying to figure out all the best words to start that story).

I know this is the next step I’m supposed to be taking. Things keep falling into place, and I feel at peace. Will I be there forever? Probably not, but while I’m living in the states again, there’s no place I’d rather be.

Alaska- August 2014
Alaska- August 2014

listening to: Damien Rice

30 + 75 Days

I keep meaning to write more, but I feel like something is always getting in my way. I’ve been working extra hours, my internet has been nonexistent in my room for three weeks, excuse, excuse, excuse. In all reality, I haven’t been publishing anything I’ve written because I always want the timing to be just right.

I find myself continuously wanting to hit “publish” when I know my writing will have the most effect. I make sure to share any big life changes or plans with some friends and family before going out and letting the internet know the updates. However, this causes me to constantly worry if I’ve shared with the right people, if I left anyone out, etc.

Many of the changes I make in my life or decisions to see where a certain path may lead often seems to be more of a big deal to the people around me than to me. I simply see my choices and directions as the next step, a building block to my life. Life can happen unexpectedly in so many different ways, and I’ve had to learn from experience that if you have a life plan you try and stick to without any wavering, your days are full of much more stress and worry. I’ve been trying to relinquish some of that control.

Obviously, all of this talk of changes and life plans has to lead somewhere. I’m not just rambling to ramble (even though I’m completely aware that is what most of my writing may sound like)- there is a point to this. In 30 days from today, I’ll be moving back to the states. I feel like my time in Germany is temporarily at an end. As a writer (aspiring or actual- I’ll let others be the judge of that), I want to see character development in my story. I want to see transformations, overcoming obstacles, adventure, and newness. I don’t want to look back at any more of my life and feel like it became stagnant. I’ve already had one of those dark periods in my life already and it was easily the hardest part of my life.

This isn’t a permanent move. It’s not a glamorous move. It’s a move of preparation, of being realistic. There will be a lot of hard work and sacrifice involved, but if I want any adventures to be possible down the road, this is the most logical next step. I’ll be in Texas for 75 days, and then it’s off again to the next chapter…I’ll give you one guess as to where I’m headed next.

Tel Aviv, Israel- March 2014
Tel Aviv, Israel- March 2014

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Last week, I got back from spending twelve days in my happiest of all places: Alaska. I stated before I left that Alaska has a way of getting into your soul, and it couldn’t be more true. I’ve visited three times since moving away, and I feel like every time I’ve left, I’ve also left a bit of me there. I think part of it (for me) is also that being born and adopted there means that there’s still some connection waiting for me there. When you spend your entire life feeling like there’s part of you missing because you know next to nothing about your biological history, there’s a tendency to cling to whatever connection you do know of. For me, that’s Alaska. That’s the hospital I was born in, the apartment my biological mother lived in, the lives that my other family members created for themselves up there. There are unknown places and faces left for me to uncover and just being in the same area code soothes that wondering a bit more.

I digress. These are the thoughts and emotions that are constantly milling around in my mind. Today was meant to be lighthearted- an overview of my time up there.

10565115_10202328499404394_7161380786155709524_n

I had a list of about ten things and people I wanted to see while I was up there for this visit. Due to some transportation issues, a few of those places I wanted to visit had to be put off until my next visit. I did get to catch up with several more old friends that I originally had anticipated, so that was a nice surprise. However, one of the most exciting days has to be the day that I got to see my old house. I had already gotten to wander around my elementary school where I spent far more time in than necessary thanks to being the daughter of a teacher, so the day had already been completely successful. I have this (not so secret anymore) dream of getting to live in the house I was raised in, so the friend I was with agreed to drive me by the house. We pulled up next to the front yard and sat idling on the side of the street while I pointed out several different parts visible from the outside. We must have looked a little suspicious, because the man who lived there came out to check who we were. I jumped out of the car, explained what we were doing, and soon we were getting invited into the house to look around! This surpassed anything I thought would happen, and I was overjoyed to see that everything was exactly as I remembered. I didn’t make it upstairs to see my old room and the addition that my mom designed because the stairs were torn up due to a remodel, but even seeing part of the house was a dream come true.

10624761_10202328513124737_1005655488477845833_n

While I was there, I also got to catch up with several friends from elementary school and a couple friends from the church I went to in Anchorage. The friend I was staying with took me out to the zoo, which had completely grown and expanded, and we did some outdoor exploration surrounded by views that no camera can truly capture. I caught myself thinking at least twice daily that if I had the opportunity, I would move back there in a heartbeat. There truly is nothing better than getting the chance to live in Alaska.

15213_10202328887374093_1936067676554465658_n

listening to: The Civil Wars