Berlin: Day 3

IMG_8014.JPG

I absolutely love football. No, not American. There is no tackling involved (at least not by the rules of the game). I mean the original football. You know, the one where you use your feet.

The last couple of years have been a revolutionary time for me. A lot changed, and a lot of things I had loved, but had suppressed in order to please other people, finally were allowed to flourish. Football was one of them.

Growing up I wasn’t allowed to play or really even watch sports, so I’m not a diehard fan; the culture is just not something I grew up with. But even as a kid I insisted on always playing “soccer” at recess. Yes, I loved the game, but I’d be lying if I didn’t also say I loved that I was taller than most of the kids my age, and could run like a horse (then everyone got their damn growth spurts). Oh, and I’m actually totally OK with the parental decision to keep me out of sports as a kid. It just wasn’t something we did, and my life has been none the worst for it.

BUT.
When I walk into a stadium and know there’s about to be a football game, I get the dumbest grin on my face. I bounce my legs up and down to the bass of the home team entry music, and my heart starts beating faster as I balance on the edge of my seat; all of these things occur completely subconsciously. But today, for the first time, I noticed them; and I thought, “Damn. You’d think I was in love or something.” And then I realized: I am.

Like I said, mine is a bit of a blind love, I don’t have favorite teams (although some loyalties – LETS GO SOUNDERS!) and I don’t know the names of every player and every statistic. If I’m perfectly honest, most of the time, I don’t care who wins – as long as it’s a good game. And today – today was a GOOD game.

If you follow football (or are a living, breathing human) you probably know that this year was the World Cup. And the victor, with seemingly little effort, was the German team.

Going to a European football match had already been on my bucket list for a while before Germany’s street cred went up exponentially so, needless to say, when I found out there was a Berlin v. Hamburg game happening today, I jumped (literally)at the opportunity.

But I had no idea how great it would actually be. Those moments when the home team made 1-2-3 goals made that game easily chart on the list of ‘Best events of my life’. If you’ve ever been to a German football match, you’ll know why. Watching felt like an honor.
Sitting amongst those fans – from young to old – I realized these people weren’t just half consciously at a game, they were living as part of a 90 minute event! And even though it seems like a clean defeat (at 3-0 favoring the home team), the game was neck to neck until the end.

Maybe it was all of the German blood stirring, or maybe it was just loving the game, but over the course of 90 minutes the people who walked into that stadium as strangers, left as friends. We sang together, drank out of plastic beer steins, chanted the whole 90 minutes and half froze in the frigid weather. But we laughed the whole packed out metro ride afterward, even though we couldn’t move because of overcrowding. It didn’t matter that some of us were speaking English and the rest German. We had witnessed a victory, and we left that field waving flags and carrying ourselves just a little bit taller because of it.

I honestly feel so honored, happy and moved that I got to experience the game today. It was the kind of thing that makes you feel like your life has been changed, even though you’ve only been sitting in a chair for an hour and a half. All I can say is: my heart is so full.

IMG_8023.JPG

IMG_8016.JPG

Fear Not, For I Am With You

10306778_10203039492921654_8288730606284838706_n
The tattoo I have on my left arm I got done months ago. It says “I will face my fear. Only I will remain” in French.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” 

― Frank HerbertDune

Before I moved to France, the number one thing people said to me was, “Wow, you’re so brave.” I’ve always thought this was funny, because I would never use that word to describe myself. I was scared as shit to move to France. And even now that I’m living here, I’m terrified of so many things. I’m scared of going to the post office, of buying bread and not knowing how to respond in perfect French when the lady asks me how I’m doing. I’m scared of getting lost when I go on walks, not making any friends, or being in a situation where no one can understand my need for help because they don’t speak English. 

These are real fears. But they are also all futuristic and somewhat ridiculous (even though I’m convinced the lady at the bakery is out to get me). Each one of them has the potential of stopping me from thriving while I live in France. They are barriers to happiness. But they are also motivators to making this experience something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. See, each time one of these fears surfaces, I remember what I have overcome to get here. 

A year ago I was afraid to breathe. I was unsure who I was, what I was supposed to do with my life, and why it didn’t seem like anything was worth living for, anymore. My heart was broken, two members of my family had been diagnosed with breast cancer within months of each other, and I was floundering in my job and relationships.

There’s a reason they say fear is “crippling.” It doesn’t kill you. It leaves you to fight yourself, daily, in some kind of one sided torture. You feel trapped, isolated and like there’s no one else in the world that could possibly understand. But what’s worse, is that you try to talk yourself out of it. You try again and again to fix it, ignore it, numb it until something – anything takes away the pain of admitting that you need help.

But, we weren’t made to fix ourselves. The broken hearts, the self depreciation, the voices in our heads that tell us it’s impossible to get past this, “There is no future, so why even look forward?”

Instead of moving forward, fear holds us back. It can do more damage to us than any other person ever will. Fear of being alone, of being unwanted or of being unable to achieve the standards we’ve set for ourselves. It paralyzes us, sets us on paths to destroy ourselves through whatever means we use to get rid of it. 

I know this, because a year ago this was me. I did everything to try to subdue, freeze, isolate, cover up, conceal and dilute the fear that I felt. Fear that stretched back to childhood. Fears of inadequacy, fear of being unloved – or unworthy of being loved. Fears of never achieving anything. Of the people who had told my mom that for whatever reason (race, gender, socioeconomic standing) I would never amount to anything, being right.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Last year I took a two week long backpacking trip around the UK.

Two weeks is no great pilgrimage. There wasn’t a great cathedral that I would find waiting for me at the end of my journey, and there weren’t any saints to welcome me. But before I left, I decided to take these two weeks to do something crazy – to live in the moment.

You see, fear is of the future, not the present. Danger is in the present, and is very real, but fear? Fear is a manmade, demon of a reality, that will probably never even happen.  When we stop worshiping the future, we drain fear of its power. 

See, as a Christian, I serve a God of the present, who tells me not to worry about the future, because he’s got it covered (Matt 6:34). Which is awesome, because that gives me so much more creativity, ambition and energy to sow into the present – seeds which will grow and produce a more beautiful future, in the end. 

I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been thinking about fear a lot, and remembering what it took for me to overcome my own demons. I tried and I tried and I tried to fix myself, but it wasn’t until I let go and let God start working that I saw any kind of healing happen. Only after I realized it was ok to be broken, could I begin the process of being mended. 

Overcoming fear is as simple and as terrifyingly difficult as acknowledging that it exists. Until you do that, there really is no way of overcoming it. We all have our own unique terrors, each one changing as we grow and evolve as people. But today I’m reminded that where there is brokenness, there are also opportunities for a healing so intensely refreshing, and in some ways, simultaneously painful, that it can do nothing but refine us into a version of ourselves that would otherwise be inaccessible. 

So here’s to taking life one moment at a time, and allowing ourselves to grow and transform into the people we are meant to be. It doesn’t happen over night, it’s a daily chore. But it’s in those little moments, when we decide to conquer the now, that we find the strength, over time, to claim the victory we have won. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 3.05.44 PM
The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

 

Once Upon A Dream

DSC_0837

Today was pretty magical. And even though I’m tired from running around, the fact that I’m tired from running around inside of castles makes the fatigue bearable.The castle pictured is the Castle (or Château) of Sully-Sur-Loire and was a medieval fortress for generations of Dukes in this area of France. I would go on and on about my day, but since a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’ll let you see the results, instead. DSC_0838 DSC_0839 DSC_0845 DSC_0849 DSC_0850 DSC_0858 DSC_0862 DSC_0868 DSC_0869 DSC_0880 DSC_0882 DSC_0891 DSC_0893 DSC_0898 DSC_0905 DSC_0906 DSC_0908

Exploring Your Own Backyard

1966861_10202825741177994_2121498407_n

When I was in college, I forced myself to discover new parts of Seattle by intentionally “getting lost” in my hometown. I would hop on a bus – any bus,  and with barely any cash and no GPS, I would explore. I found some pretty awesome places, and tried some new things I would never have tried during my day to day routine; I made some new friends and got to know my hometown so much more than I ever had before.

Taking these trips, I think, was the first stepping-stone to exploring the world outside of where I lived. It allowed me to gain the confidence to try new experiences, and to be ok with being a little uncomfortable (or a lot). I started to realize that asking people for directions was ok, and that eating at restaurants I’d never been to before could turn out to be awesome. I started to look around me, instead of walking with tunnel vision to my next destination. I started noticing things.

It’s a pretty well known fact that Seattle runs in my veins. I’m madly in love with my city.  I grew up going to Mariners games, rooting for the Sonics and eating Dick’s hamburgers. Rain storms are like lullabies to me.  I am a Seattleite born and raised, but I still find adventures in my home city all the time. Because, contrary to popular opinion, being an adventurer doesn’t mean that you have to travel half way across the world in order to explore. More than likely there are stories, traditions and secret spots in your hometown that you’d never discover, unless you took the time to look for them.

And, you know what? A funny thing happens when you start to let the world show you it’s beauty. Yes, you start to see it differently, but you also begin to see yourself in a different light. You aren’t just a pedestrian anymore. You become a bird watcher, an architect, an art spectator, a food connoisseur, a friend to random strangers, a meteorologist, a cartographer, or a humanitarian. By opening yourself up to the beauty around you, you take part in a conversational exchange that allows you to enrich the world, while you, in turn, are enriched.

If you’re wondering where to start on your travel journey, get out and explore your own city!  Not only will you be building skills that allow you to interact once you’re on your international adventures, but you’ll also appreciate so much more of the world you travel in by learning to appreciate the virtue of what is already around you. So get out there! Find some awesome somethings in your hometown and then share your stories with someone. Let’s encourage a culture of exploration – even if it’s within our own communities!

Here are five of my favorite places I’ve stumbled across in Seattle:

1. Waterfall Garden (Pioneer Square): Did you know that Seattle has a waterfall IN the city? Neither did I, until I started asking around and discovered this one! Not only is this mini slice of nature beautiful, but this is a great way to take a break from the noise of the busy city for a bit and just relax.

2. ReStyle for Ryther Thrift Shop (Ballard): Missing those good old fashioned thrift shop experiences. This little baby shop may be just the thing you’ve been looking for. I love this little shop with all my heart and it really is as “hole-in-the-wall” as you can get.

3. The Backdoor at Roxy’s (Fremont): A little bit more well known amongst the locals, but still an unmarked door in a dark parking lot. This is one of my absolute favorite bars. The atmosphere is 1920’s speak-easy and, from the murals to the amazing food, it really is a great place to just sit back and relax with friends.

4. Magus Books (University District): I’m such a sucker for old books. I love the smell, I love the feel of the pages. It’s all part of the experience. This is such a great used book store and one that I love visiting

5. Street Bean Coffee (Downtown): Favorite coffee shop for their rice milk hot cocoa. So many coffee shops only offer soy alternatives to dairy, that it was extremely refreshing to be able to order my drinks with rice milk. This coffee shop is special because they offer jobs to homeless/transitioning street youth and also host some of the best Open Mic nights around.

Ciao!

1921876_10202825739537953_1061318057_n

 “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Franz Kafka