Germany, Inspiration

Managing your mind

We go home on October 10th. We will have been in Germany for 368 days. For the most part things have been fairly smooth sailing. It has definitely been a learning curve to figure out how life works in a foreign language.

At home, we rented our house to some friends of a friend. That has been a rocky relationship the entire time. Long story made short: even thought we were renting to them below market rate, they really couldn’t afford our house. We were hoping renting to someone we had a relationship with in real life would mean that they wouldn’t leave us high and dry while we were 5,000 miles away in Europe.

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But it would not be. We told them as soon as we knew, over three months ahead of time, that we would be moving back. They decided to just leave that week and not pay us the last month’s rent. So now our house is empty but, because we move back in only three months, we won’t be able to find another renter.

Before I learned about managing my mind, this situation easily would have sent me into a spiral of worry and stress. Can we find temporary renters? Will the house be ok? Will the renters pay us the money they owe? Who will help us do a walk-through and get the keys back? Should have, could have, didn’t…

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I like to think that managing my thoughts has really brought me to a mental space where I am just not worrying or stressing about the whole thing. It just is what it is. I have little control over how this situation plays out, and worry won’t help. I’ve done what I can do. And I have decided NOT to worry or stress. I have faith that it will all turn out just fine in the end.

This is the power of managing your mind. Choose your thoughts carefully. Think about how you want to feel and what thought will get you there. It seems simple, but as has been a mantra for me lately, simple does not equal easy.

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Being aware of and choosing my thoughts gets me excited! It gives me a sense of control over my life that I have never had before. True, I may not be able to control the situation, but I can control my attitude and behavior toward it. And now I finally understand HOW to do that. I can write my own story and make it a good one!

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Can you share an experience in which you managed your thoughts or emotions? I would love to be inspired by you!

 

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Baby-making years, Background, Germany, Homeschooling years

In Retrospect

My husband says I am never happy. Of course that’s not entirely true, but what he really means is that I am never content. I am always looking to the next thing. After we were married and still newlyweds, I really wanted a baby. Even though we were young and both finishing college, it seemed like the thing that would make my life perfect. Later, when our beautiful little girl came along, the transition to full-time motherhood was really hard. I had spent my entire life getting good grades and proving myself to others through academic performance and all of a sudden there was no one giving me that A+. That combined with my ingrained desire to be The Best was the perfect storm for a huge hit to my self-esteem. Looking back, I think that was the beginning of me feeling really lost in my life.

Of course raising a baby keeps you pretty busy, so I didn’t really think about it all that much. It’s only now in retrospect that I can see what was happening. And I do think I was a pretty good mom, but one with really low self-esteem. The things of life took over: we bought and sold a house, we moved states, bought another house, had another baby, and then a third right on the heels of the second. Those years are still a blur in my mind. My second and third children are only 21 months apart and there are days (or weeks?) that I just don’t remember at all. The status of BUSY kept me from figuring out why I didn’t ever feel content.

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When that third baby came along, my oldest was starting kindergarten and there is a huge learning curve in that whole rigamarole. When she went to first grade, it all just felt wrong. I loved the preschool years, but sending my kid off to school for 7 hours a day only for her to return home hungry, tired and grumpy left a bad taste in my mouth. So, for that reason and many others, I started down the path of homeschooling my kids.

This seemed to be an almost-thriving part of my life. I had always pretended to be a teacher as a kid, and it just came naturally to me. It was still really difficult, especially with a preschooler and a baby underfoot as well as a second grader. But I liked it! It gave me a sense of doing good and spending my time well the way nothing else since becoming a mom had.

Five years of that went by and suddenly our family was faced with an opportunity to move to Germany temporarily. What homeschooling family doesn’t take advantage of that? “It’ll be a grand adventure! We can learn another language! What a great bonding time!” we said. The pickle was that homeschooling is illegal in Germany. We are not a military family so if we took that plunge, it would shift our lifestyle tremendously. “But it is only temporary, two years max.”

And here we are, seven months into our stint in Germany. The kids, especially the oldest who was more than ready to dive back into public school already, are doing well and love their school. It keeps them busy.

But me? Well, not so much.  I get up with the kids and get them off to school, making them breakfast and lunches before they stampede out the door at 7:15 am. While my husband goes off to work all day supporting teams both here in Germany and in the U.S. eight time zones away, I am home.

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Because I am not accountable to anyone for how I spend my time, I have gotten really lazy. This makes me feel very guilty. I have a hard time not being productive with every minute of my time. And since the dust has settled on our international move, the silence of my days has been very loud. I am not busy. I don’t have friends or extended family vying for my time. We rent a house so we are not responsible for home improvement projects. I am involved in some church responsibilities, but it doesn’t take much of my time. I don’t work because I don’t speak the language. I actually thought I would spend this time getting some years-in-the-making projects done, but I don’t work on them.

Why not? I am living someone else’s dream life– seems like I should be able to write a novel or something. But instead I sleep a lot and pretty much just figure out what is for dinner and make sure all the dishes and laundry are getting done. I don’t even watch TV or movies; they make me feel like I am wasting my time- oh the irony! And I just feel…. lost. It’s like all the silence has made me realize that my soul hungers for something more. I am missing the passion and purpose in my life.

I have wondered if I am suffering from depression. It is a thought that has come up in my mind regularly over the years. I have lost my ability to feel happy for more than a fleeting moment. I am often angry. I remind myself of my mother and in many ways that scares me. I have no doubt that she was depressed.

I don’t want mental health issues to be a part of my story, but sometimes we don’t get a say in how the story of our lives unfold. And sometimes the protagonist in the story only has their own demons to overcome. I am certain there will be a time when this chapter is  behind me. Today I am trying to make it so.