As my 51st year approaches quickly, I realize that I have signs of aging that I try to ignore as most do. Aches and pains, and a memory that is not as sharp as it used to be.
I have always admitted to having a bad memory, so I stay organized to prevent myself from being stressed.
Last month was a particularly stressful month for me because I truly thought I was developing dementia, Alzheimers, or some sort of total memory loss.
No, I had not gotten drunk and forgotten what I had done, haha.
My husband gave me a trip back to the states for my birthday and Christmas! While booking the trip he needed my passport.
PASSPORT: THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENT FOR LIVING ABROAD!
I knew where it should be, where I should have put it but it was not there. I went through every possible place that I could have put it. But I could not remember! I seriously thought that I must be having signs of major memory loss.
For 3 weeks I tore the house apart. I looked under mattresses, I unpacked all my drawers and repacked them (more than once), I went through trash, called the last few places we had been to see if it had fallen out of my pocketbook, called friends whom we had visited, …finally, we decided that I would have to get a new one.
I told my husband, I would never again fuss at him for losing things because I had lost THE single most important thing I had living in Denmark.
I had been in tears more than once over this incident.
I decided to look through the office one more time. I do not know what prompted me to look in the printer ….but THERE it was, laying on the scanner face down. Again, I thought I had lost my mind. I did not remember putting my passport there or why. It was a relief, but also scary that I could not remember doing that. I called to my husband that I had found it!!!
He started laughing and he called back to me, “hmmmm, oh yeah, I needed to make a copy of it for the government tax office!”
Seriously!!!!!!! I am not losing my mind, but he is making me crazy!!!!!
The Danes have curiously formed a stereotype that is true! People from all over the world think of blonde haired and blue eyed people who are a bit on the quiet side yet progressive and happy in their life. Though most of that is true, there are many other observances about the Danes that I have gotten from living in this country as a foreigner.
While attending my language class this week, we had a huge discussion about the Danes and their culture. Our perspectives as newcomers from Romania, Germany, Cameroon, Pakistan, India, Serbia, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, and other countries has been basically the same observances of the Danes.
Danes are private people and keep themselves closed off. You do not make friends in Denmark by just starting up a conversation with someone somewhere. The person you speak with has to be a friend of a friend before you are comfortable having a meaningful conversation with them. Simply put: the person sitting beside you on the bus/train will not speak with you and become friends.
Assignment: We had an assignment during class to go to the local mall and interview, 2 people. This was basically for us to practice our Danish with native speakers. We were to ask 5 very simple and quick questions to help us with conversational Danish.
Result: Not one Dane would stop to talk with any person in the class. Not one Dane was open enough to stop for 3 minutes to help others. The class was observed by my teacher and while he shook his head at every Dane that declined the short talk, he realized that he had asked too much of Danes who are private people. He turned to the class and said “Welcome to Denmark!” while chuckling. Needless to say, he was highly disappointed and later told us to try to talk with neighbors if we could and not to worry about talking with strangers.
The Danes also have curious ways of doing things that are similar to all other Danes. Strange to me how you can go from one house to another and all the dishes are washed with the same type of brush. All the dinners have some sort of sauce/gravy. All the lunches have bread.
The majority of the Danes will wear black. They will spend more time with their family than the typical American does. The Danes raise their children with an almost laid back attitude, allowing them to do things that as an American mother make me cringe. But this culture is one of personal responsibility, social responsibility, and a laid back contentedness and security about their lives while maintaining their privacy.
Americans have such diversity that every home you go to will be completely different. Life in the US is more stressful, more competitive, and much busier. Americans work more hours per week than the Danes, they spend less time with their families, and they are always pushing themselves and their children to get to the next level. Fast food takes over weeknight meals because of the lack of time between work, school, and activities. In Denmark, the families have dinner every night together as well as cooking their own food and eating out about 1/10 the time of Americans. The lack of diversity in life here, the slower pace, and the fact that people are living their own private lives leaves me a bit bored.
Mundane life, as in any life, is even more accentuated here in Denmark for me. I can attribute some of these feelings to my age and my situation. Seriously, how exciting can a life be at age 50, without a job and unable to completely communicate in the language of the country in which I live? But I still have ambition, I still have the capacity to learn, to adapt, and to find the uniqueness to every day.
So that brings me to the lack of drive I find here in Denmark. I would never say all Danes have a lack of drive. There are many people, who lack the desire to further their understanding of something or expand their skills. People who choose not to push themselves to the next level because “what I have is enough”. The government is great in helping those who need it in Denmark and is so much better in providing social programs than in the US. I see one huge difference, though. The Danes appreciate what they have in that moment. They appreciate their life, the government, and their jobs. As with any country, everyone has complaints about one thing or another. In Denmark, I have found fewer complaints about the systems, the social outreach, and the class divide than in the US. The class division is smaller, there is an understood personal responsibility code, and there is a level of recognition that everyone is in the same boat here.
Americans tend to be much more greedy, busy, and still unhappy with whatever the situation is. “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence” and “Keeping up with the Jones'” is how everyone lives in the US no matter what class you are in! I am not sure who motivates Americans to be that way. Sometimes I think the media pushes ideals of beauty, power, and money to make it look like it is what every American should want and need. Obviously, it is not every American, but it is a stereotype that the rest of the world has about Americans. I have discussed this in length with Danes and other new friends from all over the world, including many who have lived in the U.S.
Overall, I have found there are many similarities between the Danes and the Americans, but there are more differences than likenesses. I have quite a ways to go before I will be able to thoroughly understand the Danes’ thinking. For now, I am trying to enjoy the slower life while working on my Danish and enjoying my life with my “Great Dane”.
I stood in our bedroom and listened. I was stilled by a sound that distinctly took me back to when I was about 4 or 5. I listened for the longest time, remembering things I had not thought of in probably 30 years.
When I was small, I visited my great great aunt’s beach home on a neighboring island from the one I grew up on. I remember the old house that had recently been put up on stilts. It was basically a beach shack. An old home built in probably the 30’s-40’s that had been raised up due to the erosion on the island. The home was cedar paneled and painted the prettiest blue, but worn from the wind and sun. The porch overlooked the ocean and spanned the length of the house. I played with my cousins all day in the sun, sand, and building what we called “drip castles”. Digging moats and catching fiddler crabs.We walked the beach every evening before the sun went down hunting for shells that had washed up on shore. Then we went to the porch of the old house and would swing in the hammock the rest of the evening just talking and singing.
The beach shack had the most basic kitchen, 2 small bedrooms, and one bathroom. They only had running cold water. But that was perfect for the heat of the summer! There was no air conditioning, so every window would be open to let the breeze flow through. The smells of the beach had penetrated the walls made of plank wood. I felt so at home in that house and like I was a part of nature.
For someone like me, who has lost the sense of smell, sounds have become my memory trigger. I guess everyone at one time or another has heard a sound that transports them to their happy place. For some it is music that takes them back to high school, or the sound of children laughing that reminds them of their children when they were happily playing.
So the sound in my bedroom was the sound of the air rushing through my apartment. The low sound of wind gushing under the door. Undulating with the pressure of the ever changing breeze outside. That sound that took me back to that time in the old beach house with all the windows open. The railings covered in seashells we had gathered over our time there. The worn out house that was alive with sounds of the ocean and the breeze flowing through it. The sound of a time forgotten, but now cherished.
I had a friend tell me that she could not imagine moving to another country. That didn’t surprise me because it really is not something for just anyone to try. But when she told me that I was brave, I guess I understood more about why people do not do things out of their comfort zone.
When things take bravery, people tend to choose the easy path, the one they are familiar with.
I on the other hand have never taken the easy way to do anything. I have always made things harder on myself than was necessary. I tend to leap while having faith that something would work out.
Sometimes I do not know if that comes from courage or stupidity because not everything has gone as smoothly as I had wished.
I think back to when I was going through my divorce. It was a scary thing to decide to leave my marriage of 18 years and start life on my own. I had no idea of what career to have, where to live, or pay my bills. I just knew that in order to become myself again, I needed out of the marriage.
I gathered much of my courage from this movie. Needless to say, I am the same age as Diane Lane, and I connect with her so much. Though the movie was fiction, I felt empowered by a woman newly divorced taking chances in her life, moving abroad, fixing up an old house, creating a new life, and eventually finding love again.
Courage comes from having choices in life and choosing the path unsure of it’s outcome, but going for it anyway.
I guess there are many choices I have made that have been somewhat courageous in the past 10 years. I can say that I feel liberated and unafraid to try more the older I get. It is because of this I know I am experiencing things that many others will not. I feel blessed, and I will continue to try things without knowing the outcome. It truly makes me feel alive!
I opened my email the other day to see one titled in swear words that offended me right off the bat, telling me to “get the **** off ….” How on earth did I receive an email with words that I never use…well, rarely use, and only at myself not at others.
It seems that a fellow blogger decided that they could monetize themselves by creating a blog and a video channel that was not doing as well as they had hoped. I had subscribed, but did not have the time to check out the videos yet, but knew that I would at some point. I was trying to be supportive of my fellow bloggers and their ambitions.
I honestly was shocked, horrified, and disappointed in this blogger and I decided that I did not need to be treated with disrespect so I no longer follow the blog. I understand it was not directed specifically at me, but it was directed at all the followers who did not do other things this person wanted. I could not believe the utter nonsense of curse words that were there in my inbox.
I guess there is always a reason why people do things, and a “why” that they need to fill. Somewhere along the way, some people lose their why for doing something. Or maybe their “why” should not be a “why” to begin with.
I started blogging for myself. Not to sell anything, not to become famous, not to make money, but to have a chronicle of my life, my thoughts, things I have learned along the way, and occasionally a funny story or two about life in general. Maybe someone will enjoy it, someone will notice similarities, someone will learn something they didn’t know. My why for my blog was a personal one without expectations, without hope that it would be viral, and with total respect for anyone who might read my blog. So everyone has a different why, but you should not treat others poorly because of your failures.
I understand that people work hard on their projects and some feel they should be compensated for it. “Go for it” I say, and I will support you how I can. But do not burden me with your expectations that might be crushed when you realize that it takes years to build up something. It takes work, it takes patience, it takes hmmmmm….more respect of those who are supporting you in whatever way they can.
I guess I needed to get this off my chest. I felt violated in a way that I never thought I could. Maybe I am too sensitive, but I rather like that I have values and ethics. Maybe I just expect too much of others. Whatever the cause, I felt I needed to write this post as a declaration from me to everyone:
I will treat you with respect and with compassion and to support you however I can.
It is in these ways I wish to make a difference in this world.
I must admit, one of the things I am enjoying about being in Denmark is this wonderful summer weather we are having. Cool nights and nice days. In fact, the nights are so cool we cannot even sleep with the windows open because of the chill!
Mmmmm, but I love it. I come from the hot, sticky, humid, and sometimes unbearable summer heat of the south in the U.S. Though there are times when I would like to be able to put a bathing suit on and sit in the sun, right now I will just enjoy being able to breathe, wear my jeans and comfortable t shirts without sweating, and walking to the harbor and beach without being worn out from the heat.
It will come though, I know it will. I have been here every summer for the past 7 years and I have felt the heat. The kind of heat that is stagnant, without any movement, and for sure oppressive at best. I lived those days waiting for the nights to come. Some nights were still too warm to sleep.
Oh yes, it will come.
I remember hot nights from my youth. The days before we had central air conditioning to cool our homes. The difference is that we used fans to at least move the air and make the heat somewhat bearable. Those were the nights I spent sleeping in my dad’s old holey undershirts that were so thread bear they did not hurt my sunburned skin. Those nights were ones of tossing and turning from being worn out from sun, heat, and the activities of the day. Those hot summer nights transformed into ones as a teenager sitting in the air conditioned living room watching tv late at night with friends. Best memories are made on hot summer nights!
Those summer nights of my youth were magical even though they were hot. A bit like what I am experiencing now. These magical cool summer nights in Denmark in a home that is starting to feel like mine, in a life that is starting to feel like mine, and married to my “Great Dane”, who is also starting to feel like mine, lol. My new memories being made will include these cool nights with the doors and windows open, a sun that retires for the night at 11 pm, and a life filled with love.
“Skol” to summer evenings, long days, relaxed vacations, and time to reconnect with our families!
Yes, I was once in shape. Many moons ago I was a swimmer and a dancer and choreographer for my college dance team. I think I was born with the love of water and music. As a child I was constantly in motion, cheering or dancing even while grocery shopping with my mother. I guess I will always have that beat, but not the body I used to have. I have however taken a challenge by my new husband to get in shape….. as much as I can. To get back some strength that is so obvious to me I have lost. My balance is also not what it used to be. I can tell that my 50 years of life is starting to show. So, I am on the lookout for information and blogs that will keep me motivated and doing something for myself. I found this blog to give me my initial inspiration especially at my age!