School Crossing

school crossing

I hear the coffee maker de-calcifying, as I sit in my living room, drinking a second pot. Even with the gurgles and steam blasts emanating from the kitchen, the only other sound I hear is that of our labrador’s too-long nails, clacking on the floor as he searches for the kids.

A certain energy seems to have been packed up with their school books and taken out in rucksacks.

My kids have never been to a brick & mortar school before–not in their entire lives. And now, they make the daily trek to a place where they’re expected to learn in a completely different language.

They HAD to go to school somewhere–that was evident. But they did have the choice. They could go to the US or stay in Germany.

They chose Germany.

So, I walked them over on the first day of school and handed over the reins to people I’d never met.

Having been a homeschooling Mom for 12 years, I thought this would be tougher to do. I thought I would have tears or sadness. But honestly, it was a relief.

The teachers were friendly, the principal helpful and the students, as I would hear later, were friendly and curious about these American kids who’d just been woven into this tightly-knit Franconian world.

As I walked home alone from the school, I felt happy and excited for my kids.

I was so proud of them.

Proud that they saw German school not as an impossibility but merely a challenge.

While they were gone (for a whole 2.5 hours); I distracted myself with some deep cleaning and brownie-baking; as baked goods seemed a first-day-of-schoolish sort of thing.

When the bustle and energy returned to the house, I heard story after story about teachers and students and books and language and food…

My youngest even walked home with a new friend, and though there was a limited mutual vocabulary, these two had become buddies on day one.

I was relieved.

Sometimes you charge forward, not knowing if you’ll wave your flag on the hilltop, or if you’ll have to retreat and regroup, and figure out where the hell you are on the map.

But for this day; for this hour; for this very moment, my kids have won a significant battle that will change the course of their histories.

And I am damn proud of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 


It’s Called Camping, Buttercup

The tent smells like wet shoes and last night’s onions. It is so damp that the calluses on my hands have taken to peeling off by themselves, as if they have decided to go home early. I wake up, certain that my hip bone has dug a grave for me beneath my sleeping bag during the night.

This is camping, Buttercup.

And yet…

..as I wrap my cold hands around a hot cup of coffee and listen to the ever-present rush of the waterfall, I feel a little warmer about this adventure.

The sun will rise over the canyon around 10:30, and a rainbow will appear at the tip of the waterfall. The tent will heat into a sauna, and we’ll unzip the doors.

I find I am still inspired–jotting down scraps of notes at every turn: fragments that will turn themselves into stories.

Reading and writing and running and the setting so spectacular, I can’t fully capture it–not on film, not on paper–only in my memory.

Yesterday we visited the Trummelbach Falle: ten waterfalls, running from the glaciers through the mountains.

We climbed the stairs, which were carved from rock and gleaming with spray from the falls.

There is nothing jagged or harsh in the cave, only rock that is smooth with the ceaseless caress of water.

But for all the gentleness there is also power. The rush of water so loud, you have to cover your ears. Looking over the railing to the broiling brew below, your stomach gets a knot when you realize one false slip would mean an instant end to your life.

Rob told me during training, ‘The mountain will not be kind to you!’

I know it won’t.

Nature is beautiful.

And powerful.

It is a privilege to be so close to it.

To be immersed in it.

To be inspired by it.

I want to take its beauty and strength

and run with it.

 

 

 


Positive Energy and the Color Green

I love my tent. And I love my car. Both are green and quirky. It sounds ridiculous to talk this way about inanimate objects, but when I think of them, it gives me a warm, happy feeling.

The tent feels more like home than my rental house, probably because I chose it from among hundreds of others; and there are nothing but good, happy memories zipped up inside of it.

And green. The color of life. I’ve gone from years of silver cars and white walls to color–papaya & glacier blue & forest green–vibrant and alive.

Now I’m surrounded with this incredible amount of positive energy, it’s almost overwhelming. Not long ago, if someone other than a physicist had used the words positive and energy in the same sentence, I would have rolled my eyes.

I was such a hypocrite.

Letting nature fill up my soul during long runs, yet denying its inherent God-given power.

I have a million thoughts, sitting here in my sleeping bag, listening to the rush of the waterfalls over the cliffs beside our campsite. But my thoughts return to the fact that we are connected to the world around us. And our mindsets are important.

No. Not just important but vital to everything we do.

Running.

Crossfit.

Parenting.

Living.

But this positive outlook can’t be faked into existence. It’s cultivated, nurtured and must be protected. Because people will try to destroy it, especially if they don’t understand it.

It’s easy to be inspired sitting next to a waterfall. Maybe less so when I’m home cleaning up dog pee.

For now, I’m letting the good things fill up my tank. Because in 6 days, I’ll be running up the mountain, and I will need all the positive energy I can get.

 

 


Pixie in the Box

short snatch

No ponytail required

I’ve been looking at short haircuts on Pinterest for months.

That’s how I do things.

I agonize over decisions, whether it’s a haircut or a weekend road trip.

A bad vacation you can edit: “The hotel was really close to all the sights [and was right above the biker bar].

A bad haircut is right out there for everyone to see: “My, what an [*cough] interesting haircut.”

But I’ve always wanted a really short, Pixie-ish haircut, and not just because I like the word ‘Pixie.’

A short haircut can go from classy to wild with one swoop of the hand and a little gel. As a runner and CrossFitter, my hair was usually in a ponytail or some variation thereof.

I wanted a new look. Some ‘oomph’ to my hair.

But I needed the right ‘do.’

One morning, I found it. A very simple picture of one side of a woman’s head, her hair cropped short.

Bingo.

I downloaded the picture for future reference. Because someday, I would cut my hair short.

Someday.

But then later, I was out running errands, and I realized I had some time free, which is kind of a rare thing for me. I could, conceivably, stop at a place downtown and see if they could chop off my hair.

Why not? 

What held me back?

Myself, mostly, and worrying about what other people would think. It was a risk.

That’s the thing with risks–you need to take them once in a while. Sure, you can’t plunge blindly into something, but you CAN plunge. In fact, you should take risks sometimes, because without them, your spirit flatlines.

So, with my Pinterest photo on my phone, I walked into a hair salon. The girl with the half silver, half black hair escorted me to a chair, and strangely, I felt I was in good hands. Because a person with half silver and half black hair wouldn’t give me the traditional Franconian, old-lady hairstyle #3 (they MUST have a book of Franconian approved hairstyles somewhere).

I showed her the picture.

She asked a couple questions, stretching out strands of my hair.

“Kurzer,” I answered a couple times.

And then she went to work.

It’s the best haircut I ever had.

I nearly hugged the girl.

I deliberately did not publicize it on facebook right away, because I wanted to have the experience of walking into the box and seeing people react (whether for good or bad). Not that I cared, really, if people liked it. But the point is that I loved it. And I did it for myself, without worrying about how other people would see me.

Maybe the confidence from the haircut translated into the way I carried myself, but the reaction has been more than I expected. I’ve heard that I look younger and that I ‘rock’ the hairstyle; and I’m learning new German adjectives, like geil.

I didn’t lose anything with the haircut. But I gained something intangible. Something that never tangles or needs conditioner.

For men, a haircut probably isn’t very significant. But a woman’s identity can be wrapped up and braided on top of her head. And while I did love my long hair, this Pixie feels pretty damn good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Therapy by Bonfire: A 20 Year Reunion

She wore black combat boots and had hair that looked like she cropped it herself with kitchen shears. She asked questions. She had opinions. She was passionate about everything. She was the exotic German in a ho-hum Midwestern school.

THE foreign exchange student.

Though I was probably her polar opposite, we became the best of friends.

After I graduated, I sold my car so I could buy plane tickets to visit her in Germany.

We had our adventures. Drove to Italy. I got drunk for the first time in my life. And we even sang Beatles songs in a little German bar (what IS it with drinking, Germans and the Beatles?).  I cried when I left Germany because I ‘knew’ I would never be back again.

*At this point, the universe laughs.

There’s just some kind of magnetism that draws people together. You can’t explain it, really. It has nothing to do with hair color, height or politics. Sometimes you just know a good friend when you find one.

So, it amazes me that twenty years have gone by without much more than second-hand information, and more recently, minor facebook stalking.

It pains me that after eight years of living in the same country, I had never made the three hour drive to see her.

But timing is everything. Even if I had seen her a year ago, I was a different person, and it might’ve ruined this new friendship. And finally, now, at this time in my life, I could finally see my friend.

It was a little awkward at first, being in her home, watching this new/old friend move about her kitchen, both of us with SO much to say, but not knowing how or where to begin.

Thankfully, she still has opinions, she still has questions, and she is still passionate, though the combat boots are gone.

After a couple of hours, we plunged right into the big issues of life: politics, religion, love, life. All the things you shouldn’t talk about in polite conversation.

It was therapeutic.

Sitting in her magical garden by the bonfire, drinking champagne, sharing hopes and dreams and failures.

We are in our forties now, but laughing and dreaming with girls’ hearts.

Older. Wiser. More beautiful. More passionate. With hands rough from building dreams.

As I go through this process of rediscovering myself, it’s good for me to have friends like this. People who encourage me to be myself and to have opinions. People who value my words and ideas. And especially creative people who feed my own creative passions.

Life is hopeful.

And pursing dreams can and should be done.

Using wisdom.

Working hard.

And connecting with others who are doing the same.

 


Being a Super Woman

I’m not always brave or strong.

Sometimes I put on my gray sweats and curl up under my quilt and wonder what the hell I’m going to do.

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do but watch life play out in front of you. Things beyond your control come crashing in, and you can’t stop it. You can only observe.

Once you observe, then you have a choice to make.

Curl up in your bed. In your cozy gray sweats. Under your tattered quilt.

And hide.

Or you can get up.

You can get your ass in gear. Run far. Lift heavy. Stop thinking so much and get things done. Pursue opportunities. Live passionately.

Stop standing in the ruins, staring at the smoking piles of rubble of your old life.

Put on your big girl spandex and explore the new landscape.

Look up.

Walk on.

They say when one door closes, there might be an open window.

And if you put on your cape, you can fly right through it.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Shadow of the Cat

rack hold2

I’m tired of being treated like a mouse.

Expected to squeak and scurry from the shadow of the cat.

I’m tired of the cravings and fears and emotions and other traps that try to pin me down by the neck.

I’m tired of being told what I should think and say and do.

Don’t tell me not to be angry. Anger is an emotion; and I have every right to feel it. It’s what I do with it that matters. If I write a bad word, it lets it out; and then it’s gone.

If I run up the side of a mountain or lift heavy, I can sweat it out; and the anger disappears, so I can be myself.

My real self.

Calm.

Alert.

Content.

I might look like a mouse.

But I have a lion’s heart.

And I’m not afraid of the damn cat.

 

 

 

 

 


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