Tag Archive: Germany


Lessons from Landstuhl

Hi everybody!

Sorry I’ve been silent for so long.  The jetlag hit me harder than anticipated, as did the simple tasks of getting back to my life after five weeks away.

While in Germany, I started to keep notes on the things I saw and little lessons I learned along the way.  I hope you find something here that speaks to you!

Many things sound scarier than they actually are.

While walking through the hills, I was often stopped in my tracks by what sounded like a large animal pounding through the woods.  Every time the noise was the loudest, the culprit was a bird.  Mice were the next loudest, followed by squirrels.  Deer – easily the largest animal I saw on my treks – made almost no noise at all.

So maybe the next time something sounds scary, I should take another look.  It might just be a bird tossing about leaves in pursuit of its own purposes.

Focus.

I came across several paths that were so narrow I had to stop if I wanted to look around.  Well… if I wanted to look around without tumbling down the hillside.

How often do we go through life in constant motion?  Our to-do lists are so long, or we are so focused on where we are trying to get, that we try to take in our surroundings as we pass through them.  Then we try to make decisions and judgments based on pictures that are fuzzy and incomplete.  What if we actually stopped from time to time?  To look at where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we’re going?  To really see as much as we can.  I know that I often feel I will be wasting or losing time if I stop.  But maybe, instead, by being still and taking stock from time to time, I’ll simply create a deeper and richer experience.  Not to mention minimize trips and tumbles.

Grave Gardens.

I saw several graveyards in Germany, and the layouts were all delightfully consistent.   A majority of the plots where actually their own little gardens.  So instead of row after row of dying flowers resting against headstones, you see row after row of new life growing at the base of a memory etched in stone.  Loved ones tend these gardens with dedication, fostering life out of death.

Blowing in the wind.

While in Germany, I realized that I had never truly heard trees creaking in the wind.  I’d read about it, seen it in movies or on TV, but had never experienced it firsthand.

I no longer wonder that our ancestors filled forests with all kinds of creatures and believed that the trees were sentient or the woods haunted.  The sound is beautifully eerie.  At times I was convinced the trees must surely give in, crack, and fall on me.  The sounds – the sighing and creaking and moaning…. spoke to something deep within me.

No fear.

I spend a great deal of time afraid of a great many things.  Most typically, things that will probably never happen to me.  Perhaps I watch too many crime dramas, but I’ve felt that way for a long time.

But in these hills and these woods?  I was not afraid.  I have no explanation, but I wanted to record the fact.

This-a-way or That-a-way.

Sometimes a path that looks like it goes the wrong way actually goes the right way.

We must learn to hear and trust our instincts and intuition.  Otherwise you can end up at the bottom of a very steep path that is hard enough on the downward run and feels near impossible on the upward re-trace.

Down is deceiving.

Pretty much anyone I know would choose to walk downhill over up.  But don’t let your brain fool you.  Downhill can be way more tricky and treacherous than up.  Choose your ‘easies’ carefully.

Klara and me.

Do you remember Heidi?  She was sent from her home in the Swiss hills to Frankfurt to be a companion to a cranky, neurotic little girl named Klara.  Klara sees the worst in everything and is so convinced of her illnesses that she is confined to a wheelchair.  When Heidi pines for her hills, she returns home.  And when Klara pines for Heidi, her doctor sends her along as well.

After spending time in the hills with Heidi, her friend Peter (who Heidi has since taught to read), and the animals, Klara experiences an awakening – on all kinds of levels.  She becomes kinder, gentler, wiser, stronger, healthier, and regains the ability to walk.

As I hiked through the hills that embrace Landstuhl, I realized I felt like the broken girl in Heidi.  And I began to believe that if I could just spend enough time in the hills, out in the sunshine and fresh air, I would find healing.  I would come to know that I was never truly broken; only confounded.

Did it work?  I think it did.  I am having a hell of a time remembering and applying all I learned in Germany, but I know that it’s all in there somewhere.  I may not have access to hills, but I certainly have sunshine and fresh air.  My land has its own charm; I just have to be willing – sometimes to search, and sometimes simply to see.

Winds of Change….

The title of this blog is dedicated to my husband, who requested it.

Monday I had a big lesson in standing up for myself.

I walked to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch.  We’d been there the week before, and they’d gotten my order wrong, adding cheese when I’d asked for none.  But the food was good and they fixed their error, and Monday’s waitress appeared to understand my request.  When I ordered my meal “Onhe Käse,” she replied, “No cheese,” so I felt confident.

When my burrito finally arrived, it was cheesed.  I’d been informed that this was the last beef burrito of the day, so I’d have to choose, order, and wait for something else if I wanted to fix my food.  But I’d already waited 45+ minutes and just wanted to eat and get back to the apartment.  Beyond that, I didn’t want to cause a fuss.  Be a Problem.  I do not enjoy being the squeaky wheel.  I noticed that the cheese was mostly along one edge of the burrito, so I decided to take a couple of dairy pills, cut out as much of the cheese as I could, and take my chances.

Bad choice.

So simple to say, “Excuse me, but this isn’t what I ordered.”  What is the benefit of choosing silence?  Of being no trouble?  Honestly, I can’t at the moment think of one.  Particularly when faced so recently with the cost.  Twenty-four to 36 hours of pain and discomfort, head-to-toe.  In fact, I’m still dealing with the consequences.

It’s not like I’ve never heard or learned this lesson.  My desire to avoid “making waves” drives my husband crazy.  Particularly since he lives with me through all my unwise decisions.

So if you’re like me, reconsider your choices.  Stand up for yourself, in situations both big and small.  The price for that?  Pushing through shyness, discomfort, angst over your projection of how others will react, what they’ll think…. The price for your silence?  Damaging yourself in little pieces, over and over again.  Sure, it doesn’t seem like much, but over time, who knows what it’s doing?  To our bodies, to our psyches, to our will….  Seems to me like a far higher price to pay.

So if you’re dining out with me, be prepared.  I will be ordering the food I want, the way I want it.  I’m tired of paying the price for my silence.

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