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Big Steps And Long Breaths

This month is something I've been looking forward to for a long time.
And dreading.
Truth be told, going outside your comfort zone, no matter how confident you are, is nervewracking.

I have had a lot of people worry about my sanity for choosing to come to Germany. Many family members texted me the whole way over and have continued to text me often while here. I'm pretty sure they will be holding their breath for six months straight until I return home.

As long as they don't turn blue, I don't mind people waiting on me ;p
People asked me, "Are you excited or nervous to be going to Germany?"

I honestly answered them, "I don’t know. I really haven’t had time for either."

You see, I have finally come to the place where I love my life. Part of me was actually starting to question my own sanity. "Do I really want to go to Germany?"

One of my friends told me I was having traveler's remorse. It may have been partly that, or it may be simply the fact that I have built a life out of the resources God gave me and I love it. At the airport, I asked myself, "What would happen if my passport was denied and I had to stay home?"

I thought about it and decided that I wouldn't regret having to stay back at this moment. I'd probably be perfectly happy, continue my life as it is, settle down and marry and stop my wild traveling days, and ... and then I realized, I'd also feel as if I'd failed.

I'd be content to stop "adventuring". But first I needed to accomplish this mission.

And, so, I was happy when I boarded every plane successfully.
From America ... 
The beginning of this month started with our family going to a church camp for a weekend. The day before we went I realized some friends of mine would be close by, so I invited them over ... and they came! So for the whole first day of the conference, I didn't really meet any new people but hung out with our friends (I write the mother of the family). 
My littlest brothers ... all ready for the first day of the conference 
But on the second day of the conference, I met plenty of people, plus got to know a few other people I'd already met a little better. Overall, it was an amazing weekend that I thoroughly enjoyed. I even went street preaching. Definitely not my thing, but glad I went. 
I've been teaching this lady to knit for the last year and a half. The first week of September was our last knitting lesson for a time ;/ But we both finished projects: she the mittens, and I the hat. 
Two days before I left, my dad took us all out to eat to celebrate my leaving and my mom's birthday. Mostly, for my leaving though, as they are very excited to be rid of me for six months, so they say ;D My sisters and I had to get a crazy picture, of course. 
This was staged, of course, but still holds a lot of Lamb truth. 
Elizabeth has become another of my best friends! The week before I left I went to her house for a bible study, and it was just an all-around fulfilling evening. Hopefully, she'll be coming to Germany while I'm here (she speaks German super well).
 My friend came to see me off! It made my day for sure
The Transition
Preparing my next outrageous embroidery project to guarantee that I never grow bored while in Germany.
The books for my leisurely reading while in Germany ... a lot of this is actually research for my new blog.
One of my best friends trying to figure out WhatsApp. I just love when emojis speak louder than words ;)

For packing, I brought one checked-in suitcase full of too many dresses, bulk Young Living toothpaste and bamboo toothbrushes, my interchangeable knitting needles, and other such necessities.

I carried on a backpack and a handbag, full of books, protein bars, and gifts for the family I'm living with (including three loaves of my sourdough).

My flights were super good. I'll be doing an in-depth post of them over at my other blog, as people over there want to know how I flew without a social security number.

For you all, let it suffice to say that it was my first international flight and like my twentieth time flying. And probably my best flight ever. I sat by quiet weirdos who wouldn't talk, but the flight attendants were all super nice, I had plenty of time for every plane, and I never got lost. Oh, and no one was rude to me. And TSA was a breeze for some reason.

One lady randomly spoke to me (probably because she thought she was crowding me), "I try not to annoy people, but sometimes it can't be helped."

I grinned real wide and answered, "Ah, I like to annoy people purposely."
In Germany
Gifts from the family 
 After flying sixteen hours or so, the father of the family picked me up in Frankfurt and we had about a two-hour drive home.
I was exhausted but managed to keep up a good conversation. All in English. I had worried I wouldn't know enough German for my flight or trip here ... But for my first few days here, I didn't need to use any German.
Actually, I've had to force myself to use German at all. Who'd think it'd be so hard for your brain to simply use other words?
It's really uncomfortable saying words that aren't your normal words.
And my brain freezes up so much.
Love this leather journal from the family! 
And German candies!

They've given me such a nice, spacious room, with a huge bed and a ginormous writing desk. I thought the desk was very thoughtful of them. I'm using it right now to write this post ;)

The children are all adorable. They were shy at first, but super friendly with huge smiles.

On the first day, I slept in until 10am and felt guilty even though they said it was perfectly fine. It is eight hours ahead here, so it's a bit weird adjusting. I've got up earlier every other day, though, thankfully, though every day has been very exhausting.

It's so strange hearing so many words around me, and I'm trying so hard to understand the words, and I think my brain is falling out my eyes trying. But, it's been good.

On the second day here, the mother registered me for this town (I guess one has to register to live?).

On the third day, I woke up suddenly realizing how crazy I am.
I love the family, but I'm like a moth caught in the rose briers. Everything is so pretty, but I don't understand any of it, and I'm not sure which way to go without getting lost or worse, and it's terrifying.

I'm not one that scares easily, or at least, one that allows myself to act on my fears easily, but on that morning I may have been borderline terrified. And I don't really know why.

I knew I had two choices:
1. Blame the fear on instincts, return home, and be one of those people that say, "I don't know if it was of me, or of God, but I had one of those feelings you just can't ignore." Of course, people would've agreed with me, because already people think I'm crazy for having gone to Germany. And I would have been told I'd done the right thing and escaped some horrible thing God warned me about.

Or ...
2. Shove that fear down to the bottom of my racing heart and step outside of my comfort zone, and find power instead of fear, and experience some new knowledge in this beautiful phase of life God granted me.

I chose the second, and with my heart literally bouncing, I stepped outside and walked around the block in a strange, unsettling world that still belongs to God.

And I'm glad I did.
 
The little girl made place cards for everyone. I asked her if mine was a giraffe. "Einhorn," she said.
So that's a German unicorn, for you all. Isn't it fun?
Speaking of unicorns, I found my favorite one recently:
Not my image.
So far I have free mornings, so I've been using those to embroider, and I've started reading the "State of the Union" (pictured with the books), and enjoying those essays. Besides exploring, and forcing myself to explore ;p
On Friday the 13th, I did the most adventurous thing I've ever done.
I met up with two people, one of whom I'd only texted the night before. The meeting up wasn't so bad. It was the fact that none of the three of us shared the same first language, and none of us shared a strong second language either.
We all kinda speak German, and they kinda understand English.
We rode a train into the center of Stuttgart at night, so not necessarily unsafe, but still scary, and we went out to eat. Somehow, we managed to have a great evening and to talk non-stop.

I'm pretty sure that this here proves that the tower of Babel was focused on dividing men, not women because confusing our languages didn't keep our mouths shut, or drive us apart.
 It was the 21st birthday of the girl with the head full of curls, so we celebrated. Very fun.
We spent another day in the Stadtzentrum, walking and taking photos the next weekend. Somewhat exhausting, but a good day as I learned to get around a bit more. We keep in contact through WhatsApp and try to make plans around being Au Pairs and having classes.
But, for the actual reason I'm here ... 
If you've missed it, I'm in Germany as an au pair for six months. An au pair is basically a culture exchange program, where I get to live with a family and help them out while we "exchange" cultures and possibly languages. 

They have three children. Which is a lot of children for Germany, but a breeze for me. 

The children are all very sweet, with an ounce of mischievousness and HUGE independent spirits. Meaning, they are tons of fun and promise to never leave me bored ;)  
I have my mornings free, so I use those to bike or walk around Stuttgart ... as I've already said, it was nervewracking just stepping outside the first few days. I had to force myself to take a single "big step" by just walking around the block. 
The next day I'd go a little further.
Breathe. 
Then further. 
Now I'm biking and walking miles away ;) 
And breathing easily ... 
Until a new big step faces me and my heart races crazily once more. 

The weather has been so nice, so I can spend almost all day outside. In the afternoons I often take the two younger ones to one or several of the many SpielplĂ€tzen (parks). 
I went on a nice red-faced bike ride with the oldest of the three. I hope to do that much more often! We both had so much fun, I believe.
Several times I've taken E and a different friend of hers to the park. I must always use German then as none of her friends understand much English.
Picnik with the two little ones. It has been so nice getting fresh air, when we can.
Every day is a new, difficult but wondrous step
  • I think I got food poisoning because I woke up one night at 3am and threw up a ton. Thankfully I made it to the toilet and it wasn't such a big mess. But I felt pretty weak all the next day. 
  • I went to the post office and bought stamps speaking in German. Soo scary (don't ask me why). And then the guy short changed me ten euros, which is really sad. But I didn't feel like going back and getting it from him when I realized it, so my fault, too. I believe it was an accident though, because I talked to the family about it afterward, and it seems so. 
  • I walked farther than around the block ... I walked streets away through a small shopping center. 
  • I bicycled by myself miles away and didn't get lost. Twice so far. I'll be doing that a lot, especially for my German classes. 
  • I finally found a church, and I took the train for the first time by myself to it. It seems that whenever I conquer one scary thing, there's another to do. But I always come out feeling amazing afterward. 
  • I'm actually meeting people I like. So that's nice. 
I'm getting my last two novels ready for pitching. 
I've also been getting some amazing feedback on my latest novel. 
 Feedback that made my heart so happy
Beta readers that make my heart so happy. (Hint: I'd love you to join them if you still haven't read All The Other Girls.)\
Something that gives me hope
That I haven't died yet. I don't mean from taking the big steps, but from inhaling the long breaths. They say germs are worse in other countries ;p But I feel great, except for that one time I vomited. 

On a more serious note, going to church gave me hope that Germany wouldn't be so lonely. My next post will be all about that. 

Have you ever traveled to another country, or wanted to? What country would you choose? Do you do things even when they make you afraid?

How do you distinguish from rational fears (don't jump off a cliff) to irrational fears (walking into a store and speaking the cashier in another language)? 

What sort of things do you want me to specifically update about here? Be forewarned: I already have lots of German content planned ;)

Also, I guest posted over at Gray's blog, so be sure to check that out if you haven't already! 

Comments

  1. So happy for you, honey!! And love your comment about the Tower of Babel!

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    1. Thanks, girl! I was hoping someone would find that nugget and enjoy it ;)

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  2. Germany!? Maybe you should take my sister along. (She's studying German.) Have fun and stay safe!

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    1. Ah, that would be so fun! Love meeting and dragging new people on adventures!

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  3. I'm praying for you, Keturah! This is such an amazing opportunity, and I'm so happy you got to take it. <33

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    1. Thanks, Gray! I'm so happy too, though now that I have it I'm realizing I actually have to act on it!

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  4. Ha, I get scared talking to cashiers in ENGLISH. You are brave beyond belief!! I'm so proud of you, girl, and will keep you in my prayers as you continue on this amazing journey!

    (Also yes please I would like to read All the Other Girls. It maaaay take me an unreasonable amount of time to actually read it, cuz life's a bit busy. But I need to read this. It sounds amazing.)

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    1. Haha! I used to be that way, but a few months in customer service fixes that ;p I'm not brave by no means. I'm just not allowing my fear to dictate my actions ;p Thanks so much for thinking and praying though! This is one crazy journey, and I never realized quite so much until getting here.

      Ahhhh I was so hoping that YOU would want to! But I didn't want to be that person that asked ;) I'll send it to you to read at your own leisure ;)

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  5. I have actually thought about being an Au Pair. It sounds a little freaky so i was a little nervous to do it, and i have read some things about people having bad experiences with it. Maybe i'll look into it more now :)

    I loved the Tower of Babel reference. :D

    I used to get really nervous just talking to strangers in general, it made me uncomfortable and i just felt awkward. But after having worked in customer service for a year, i could waltz right up to anyone and just start talking about random things XD

    As to the rational and irrational fears, in my experience, i say go for it. Even if it scares you, even if its a little crazy, i would go for it. :) Yes, irrational fears are hard to deal with, but what's life without a little fear of the unknown?

    Sorry for the monster comment, i got a little excited :D (also i really love your titles, you come up with such good ones!!)

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    1. People can and do have bad experiences, so you certainly want to be cautious when doing it. But there's plenty of resources online, plus you can talk to your family before going, and there's a contract. So there's ways to sift out most of the problems before they ever have a chance to happen.

      Haha, I'm so glad!

      Yes, that's so me! But let me tell you, it's a different matter when you aren't sure what words are the correct words to say .... I can still waltz up to strangers, but I can't sing so loudly or I might sound off key. Actually scratch that might. I do sound off key and I have no idea how to fix it most of the time ;)

      Ahhh so love that! And so true! I'm definitely going to be chasing down a lot of irrational fears while here.

      DON'T APOLOGIZE FOR LONG COMMENTS! I love them sooooo much.

      And I'm so glad you love them, because seriously I try so hard ;p

      If you ever actually decide to be an Au Pair, you're welcome to email me at any time. I mean you're welcome to email me whenever, but I for sure want to help you if you want to do it.

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  6. It's so inspiring that you're outside your comfort zone and having a blast. I need to do that.

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    1. I think I'm still trying to reach that point where I feel it's a total blast, but yes, it is exhilarating to keep stepping out a bit further. You totally should--let me know how it goes ;)

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  7. Sounds like quite an adventure! Culture shock can be debilitating, but forcing yourself to get out and do stuff anyway is exactly the right thing to combat it. When I went with a school-group to Paris I saw a friend struggle through it and I don't think there's anything irrational about it at all!

    Can't wait to read more about your adventures in Germany!

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    1. It is an adventure, of top class! Yeah, that's what I've heard and so I keep pushing myself ever forward. Paris would definitely be one for the books! Next for me is Berlin, I think.

      Thanks so much for reading along ;)

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  8. "Ah, I like to annoy people purposely."

    XDD Yes, girl. I do that all the time. 😂

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  9. Looks like you're having a lot of fun over there! Please keep us updated about your trip.

    Also that's Stabby the Unicorn!! <3<3<3 I think the original image is black and sold by TurtleTee, so I believe proper credit goes to them :D

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    1. Definitely fun, and will be trying to do weekly updates (which means we wont' have many of my regular article type posts).

      Yes, I think I did see that someone called it Stabby! Such a funny name ;p I think it looks more hilarious in pink, but I can totally see it in black ;D But when I found this one I laughed sooooo hard. Thanks for finding the proper people to accredit ;D

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  10. Okay, so this post is WONDERFUL and I LOVE hearing about your time in Germany!!

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    1. Ah, I'm so glad you think so! Thanks! Will be sharing TONS, so there ;)

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  11. Wow, sounds so interesting and scary. I would be the same way, scared and excited.
    Hope everything keeps going ok over there. :)

    astordetective.blogspot.com

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    1. Yeah, sure is all of that! But I think the more I do, the less scary and more exciting it'll become. Thanks! Maybe next time I do something like this you can come along ;)

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  12. I absolutely loooooove this post and cannot wait for more updates about Germany!! So glad you're having a good time. <3 <3 <3

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    1. Ah, thanks so much Ash! I plan to do weekly updates (mostly) about Germany. Which means there won't be many of my normal posts ... but should still be fun!

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  13. J+M+J
    Sounds like you're having a dynamite explosion over there... good luck and keep it up!
    I don't think I'd ever see myself in Germany... (though watch, hehe, I'll end up there just because I said that), I'd gladly go somewhere Spanish though!
    And by the way, I tried looking up your book "All the Other Girls" on your story page to see what it was all about, but I didn't see it... is it up there and I just missed it?

    The Doorman.

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    1. Dynamite ... yes, I think so.
      Thanks, and I sure am!
      Yeah, I never saw myself actually making it over here either, or anywhere else for that matter. But I'm so glad I'm here, and I do hope you get to go to a Spanish place ... preferably Spain, eh?

      Ah, yes, I never put it there, because I was thinking of entering it in a contest which would mean I couldn't have it on social media much. If you want to see more of what my book is about you can look at my HIATUS post, and there's a google doc forms attached to the end that has a full description. Or, I can simply email you the full book if you're that interested ;)

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  14. You know when you have a lot to say and so your brain kind of chokes on all of it and can't say any of it? That's me right now. But I love this post, and I love that you're in Germany and having fun and being brave and just yeah. Also can't wait to hear more of your adventures! These types of posts are awesome.
    (And women and the tower of Babel...so true. XD)

    (Oh, and the forcing yourself to speak in another language, yes. My favorite restaurant is this Mexican one downtown where Spanish is the predominant language spoken [though the employees always speak English too], and I've often thought about how I actually totally know enough words to order in Spanish and practice my Spanish, buuuut...too scared to do it lol. But last year I took German and after one of the exams, which was just talking to the professor in German basically, we just kept talking...and had this whole like at-least-five-minutes-long conversation in German and it was AMAZING. Brain falling out your eyes with how hard I was trying to understand is the most accurate thing ever, but I DID IT. I UNDERSTOOD. WE HAD AN ACTUAL CONVERSATION IN GERMAN. And it was awesome. And this reminded me of that. It's just SO COOL to be able to speak with people in languages that are strange to you, idk why.)

    Well, this comment ended up super long anyway, haha. Sorry for all the rambling, and I love this post!!

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    1. Keep the long rambling comments, because they always are amazing.

      But yes I know what you mean when your brain chokes off your mind and won't let you say much. Silly brain ;)

      You should totally go and order in Spanish! The most exhilarating feeling ever. And that conversation with your professor sounds amazing. I can't wait until I can speak two dozen languages as if it is nothing ... first I must master this second one, though. And then another. And another.

      (Are my dreams too lofty??)

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    2. (I don't think they're too lofty! Then again, I have similar dreams...so I'd better HOPE they're not too lofty, haha! But like you said, one at a time, and then just keep going...and eventually we'll know a dozen or two languages and laugh at our former selves wondering if it was even possible. At least that's what I hope. :P)

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    3. But won't it be fun when we can look at our past selves and say, "If only you knew how awesome all these clouds are, you'd have hastened those small steps." But yes, I think our lofty dreams are worth working for ;D

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