Self-Living

A year ago today, I had huge hopes and dreams.

A year ago today, I was leaving part of my heart in Germany, but I had a plan. I was moving temporarily to Texas as a stopping point until moving to Alaska at the end of 2014. A year ago today, I was in love.

Those close to me know the story. I had finally gotten out of a marriage that was only doing me harm, and I had reconnected with someone who was the first person I had ever liked. We hadn’t gone into anything with the intention of a relationship being the outcome. We were both still recovering from abusive relationships and found comfort in having someone to talk to who could understand those wounds. What started off as casual emails turned into long Skype sessions and eventually just constant conversation during those precious hours that we were both awake. I visited him that August, and those twelve days were spectacular. Nobody had ever understood me that wholly before, and I had never understood someone else on that level. I thought he was it. The end all in partners.

Becoming involved with someone so soon after my divorce wasn’t something I had planned. I was still in the stage of not wanting to ever be with anyone because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to truly trust someone again. I hadn’t given myself time to heal, because part of my moving to Germany was a way to run away from the problems and allow myself enough time to gather my thoughts before dealing with the serious issues lurking in my subconscious.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise when I moved back to the states, but everything almost instantly fell apart and I had no idea what to do. Suddenly, I found myself unwanted in Alaska, unwanted in Texas…unwanted practically everywhere I wanted to be. However, as I struggled though most of this, I began to realize part of the issues was that I was putting my value in terms of how other people viewed me.

I’ve been back from my reality break in Germany for exactly a year now. For a year, I’ve been trying to learn how to see my value outside of others’ opinions, outside of how people act toward me. It’s been a struggle. A massive struggle. It’s been something that I fail at on almost a weekly basis. The person I thought could actually love me through all the monsters changed their mind. Losing that love has caused a down-spiral this past year, but it’s thrown lesson after lesson straight at me.

In a week and a half, I’ll be getting yet another fresh start. I’m moving back to the only place in the states I’ve moved to solely for myself. I’m returning to school, I’ve got a new job, blah, blah, blah….the only important thing to me in this moment, in this reflection time leading up to my move is this: I’m moving to continue my growth as a person. I’m moving to learn more about myself, to prove that I can survive on my own, to fight my own battles, and to discover what I truly want out of my life.

In my life so far, I’ve tended to live for others. I’ve concerned myself so much with pleasing those around me that I’ve lost sight of who I am and what I can accomplish. If I could condense different advice I’ve gotten from a multitude of friends this past year into one phrase, it would be “you have to be more selfish”. I hate that advice mostly because I’ve been taught to not be selfish my entire life, so the idea of living more selfishly is completely opposite of what I’ve known forever. However, living that way has cost me so much in the past few years. Living that way has prevented me from doing things that I can truly be proud of. Living that way has stifled the life I want to be living.

So this year, I still have huge hopes and dreams. This year, I’ve got goals. I’ve got direction. I’ve got a version of me who is finally learning to be strong on her own. No more outside influences, no more giving up what I want for other people, and no more relationships until I can get myself on the right path. This is probably the most intimidating step I’ve ever taken in my life, but with great risk comes great reward, right?

Alaska - August 2014
Alaska – August 2014

listening to: S. Carey

A Bucket List

I’ve only written one bucket list previous to this one, but it was a simple thing written when I was 14 or 15, full of items like “kiss a boy” and “try alcohol for the first time”. There were a few serious wants listed as well, but I’ve long since lost the list. The following is a list of dreams, desires..things I truly hope to accomplish before my life ends.

  1. Visit at least one new country a year for the rest of my life. Visit it to experience the culture, the life of the people, and how different everything is from my own worldview. I want to be completely immersed in the way other people live.
  2. Get tattoos. Have at least the three that I want right now within the next ten years: the star to match the necklace my grandmother gave me when I turned twelve, “abenteuer” for my time in Germany, and a watercolor feather I’ve painted with the Hebrew word for freedom incorporated within.
  3. Meet my biological family, most specifically my mother, half-brother, and father. I know it won’t make me feel totally complete, but I know it’ll at least answer life-long questions and fill up a partial part of the hole left from all of the “who am I without that knowledge of my past” thoughts.
  4. Finish my book on adoption. I want to have my story out there. Writing is my best form of communication, so I find it extremely important to share this in hopes of reopening some sort of interaction with my biological mom. I also want to help people avoid some of the speed bumps I encountered with my own parents.
  5. Be officially published. It doesn’t have to be a massive project, but something with my name on it. Perhaps it’ll be an article in a newspaper or a magazine, or maybe it’ll be a novel. I just have this idea that one can’t really call themselves an author or writer until there is something published officially in their name. I know that’s a silly way to think, but it’s this thought that’s always been there.
  6. Have the full experience of being in a recording studio and have some sort of professional recording of my singing. The song doesn’t have to be shared with a single soul, but I want to have it for my own.
  7. Take a professional level cooking class involving making something completely from scratch, particularly pasta.
  8. Learn how to throw pottery on a wheel. I want to be able to have a set of dishes that I use regularly that I can look at and be proud of because I’ve made it with my own hands.
  9. Experience truly passionate love. Maybe not love in the proper sense, but have one of those relationships that is all-consuming passion. One of those passions that inspires through wonder and pain. A passion that the truly great poems and songs are all about.
  10. Find that one great love. Probably not the same as the passionate love, but a great love that withstands time, hardships, and all the emotional wreckage I tend to throw in the way.
  11. Learn to develop my own film. Similarly, learn to shoot photos on a classic old film camera. There’s just something captured in the film that never quite translates to digital.
  12. Get henna in India, drink vodka in Russia, make pasta in Italy, wander the moors in Scotland, research my biological last name in Ireland, go through the streets in Morocco, and drink tea in Turkey. Travel, travel, travel
  13. Set foot on every continent – even Antarctica
  14. Become fluent in German. I didn’t fully realize how much Germany would actually effect me until it was time to leave. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t wish I could be back there right now.
  15. Write a novel. Write a fictional love story based on 2012-2014. There were so many life changes that need to be turned into a story.
  16. Own my own house. Something small and simple, but a place that is solely mine.
  17. Live nomadically for at least three years. Live without “stuff” and with every freedom possible. Live without certainty of what the next day will bring.
  18. Learn to fly planes. One of my favorite things about my dad is that he used to fly, and I’d love to follow in his footsteps on that account
  19. Learn to truly appreciate myself and accept all of my flaws. All of these self-conscious thoughts and actions need to stop or at least take a very extended vacation. I can’t really handle being with anyone else or part of any relationship until I get a grip on myself.
  20. Apply for the Jack Kerouac writer’s fellowship. I know that there are far more deserving and talented writers out there, but even applying would be a massive step in the right direction for me.
  21. Have a moment of clarity- a moment when I’m completely aware that something I’ve accomplished has actually been able to make a difference to someone else’s life. That’s the goal behind much of what I do, especially my writing, but I want to experience the realization I’ve done it.
Austin, Texas - February 2015
Austin, Texas – February 2015

The Daunting Dream

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dreams, goals, and what I want my life to look like in five or ten years down the road. At 24, I’m in a perfect transition period in my life: I’m living in a different country, learning a new language, making friends with people all over the world, and learning a ton about myself. I’ve taken to journaling almost every day, and nothing could have been more healing and eye-opening in this life-season. However, I’m aware that this is just a season, and I’ll eventually need to figure out what my next step will be.

In the past year or so, I’ve had one major life goal: to write a book. I realize a lot of bloggers want to be published, but it’s more than that for me. On my old blog, I wrote about my adoption story semi-frequently because it’s one of the stories that makes me different, which I’m learning to embrace. Last year, after finding some of my biological family, I started recording the moments so that I would be able to remember all the little details.

Adoption has become a huge topic almost everywhere I look. Facebook friends, several celebrities, and more bloggers than I can count are all celebrating the fact that they’ve chosen to adopt. While I’m all for adoption and think that it’s a beautiful way to extend love to children that might not get to know it otherwise, I know that many people who adopt aren’t aware of the way it can affect their adopted children. There are so many books on the topic, but most often from the view of the parent or a psychologist. There are nowhere near enough books giving the adoptee’s perspective, and I believe that point of view is the most important. Because of this, I’ve started to use some of my journaling time specifically for covering my thoughts on adoption. Perhaps within the next five years, I’ll be able to combine all of those thoughts and turn them into a book.

The main goal I have in writing this is helping parents who are thinking about adopting or have newly adopted realize a little more what they’re committing to. Adoption isn’t something many people decide to do lightly, but the emotional and mental repercussions on the child can be overlooked. There are many issues I’ve struggled with throughout my life that I’m just now able to recognize as stemming from being put up for adoption. I’m not blaming any of my problems on that, but it’s important to pick out the moments and events that help define a person, and adoption is a major one.

The idea of writing a book is very daunting. I’ve never been a very confident person, and the idea that other people could be interested enough in something I have to say sometimes feels almost laughable. However, adoption has always been a huge part of my life and I feel like I have enough to say that writing a book might be crazy enough to work. I’m fully aware that my opinions on adoption aren’t the only ones worth sharing, so if you’re reading this and think that I’m onto a good idea, I’d love to get some help. If you’re adopted and want to answer a few questions for me, please email me at thekostory@gmail.com or leave me a comment and I’ll get those questions to you!

The day of my adoption
The day of my adoption

listening to: John Butler Trio