After more than twenty years abroad, I'm seeing Germany with new eyes once again, as Kim adjusts to life over here. She arrived a little more than a week ago, and is definitely in that honeymoon stage of being an expat. I love experiencing the joy in her eyes as we do things that I haven't had the chance or taken the time to do over the past years, like visiting the Christmas market or looking at the lights. I forget how beautiful things are here until someone else points it out.
Her arrival has also given me the incentive to get out and about more and to look to meet new people. As many of you have experienced, a divorce or breakup means redefining your friendships. I realized that I hadn't invested enough effort in past years into meeting new people or maintaining old friendships. With the rush of kids and family, it's difficult to make yourself get out and do things, especially when you are working a lot and coordinating the rest of your life. I know that Jan is really taking the time to do the same -- and I am glad of it. He's putting time into his running and seems to be making plans to do things again.
Part of my intent with getting out more is to focus on developing friendships for Kim and me as a couple, but also so that she doesn't fall into the trap of expat isolation. You know what I mean...The partner is at work, you're stuck at home, you don't really know anyone, and you end up hiding away. Kim's not intimidated by life here or the lack of language, and is venturing out on her own as much as she can. Even within a few days of arriving she'd gone to an expat meetup and organized a business meeting. Maintaining that independence is so important -- and as she says, it's good for her development!
I expect Kim will be starting some sort of integration course soon so she can learn German and really get moving with her oil business in this part of the world. That will be her main focus from here on out. She's curious about the language and not afraid to use it, so I expect there will be no issues on that front. And the kids keep her on track -- no matter what.Noah's teaching her very important words about bodily functions and such. Watch out world!
Kim and I have been traveling quite a bit lately, either to see each other, or to various essential oils events around the world. In August, we flew to Dallas to attend the Young Living 2015 Convention. In October, we drove to Berlin for the European version of the same.
The Dallas event looked to be a bit too much for both of us on the first day. Tons of people, tons of oils, too many lines. We were jet lagged and hot (107°F anyone) and didn't have the energy to deal with the crowds or the fighting for seats. We were also getting a lot of what Kim calls "three-headed looks" -- there aren't too many same-sex couples at these events. By the second day, though, things got better. We really enjoyed the speakers and the workshops and got to know some nice people. The Gala dinner was also a bit of fun -- I rented a ball gown! The comments from the 7-11 clerk on the way back to the hotel were pretty hilarious. He compared Kim's gorgeous suit to the one John Travolta wore in Staying Alive...but hey, when you need a beer, you need a beer. And I think he meant it as a compliment!
Texas was a bit difficult for us otherwise. Signs in the lobbies of restaurants on rules about carrying weapons are disconcerting to both of us. I realize I don't feel especially safe anymore in my home country. There are just too many people with guns. The arguments about the constitutional right to bear arms just don't fly with me. That was a different time and the reasons behind it were very, very different. I've been out of the country too long to get sucked into that trap. Too many people are being killed for no good reason, and all of those people carrying around weapons for "protection" are part of the problem.
In the meantime, Kim's been in Germany a number of times and I spent some time in the UK. I finally got to meet Kim's sister and to enjoy the stunning beauty that is Cornwall. We hung out in Brighton as well. The sea just gives us both energy and joy. The more time I have there, the more relaxed I am. Our future will surely include a house on the sea. Who knows which one, but we'll see what happens.
We visited Stratford upon Avon, toodled up to Liverpool, and I enjoyed a weekend in Zürich with the kids visiting my friend Dara from Freiburg.
More recently, we spent a weekend in Berlin for yet another YL convention. This one was smaller and more intimate. We had time to hang out with our friends (Queen Bees) and made plenty of new ones. Meeting Gary and Mary Young was one of the highlights, but dancing the night away with the Austrian contingent was pretty cool as well.
These oils have changed my life in so many ways. I'd forgotten how much I love to travel and meet new people. The future is bright and there are many more places to see!
By Kim Lummis
My life has been a whirlwind over the past few weeks. I went to Croatia, met some wonderful people, and one in particular who has turned my world around.
I'm in the process of making the move to Germany. It's not easy, as I'm also running my dog training business in the UK and looking for someone to buy that. A foot well and truly in two camps. In my dusty brain I am prising words from pre O-level classes and a particularly boring evening class where I messed about far too much. I never thought I could learn a language but I will now. I spend far too much time driving in my current job and so podcasts will be playing -- if anyone sees me chatting to myself on the M25 that's what I'm doing.
I'm learning a lot about myself. I've made mistakes and hurt people I care about, never intentionally but I have. I'd like to say here and now how sorry I am for that. However I have a new life that I'm building now. I'm proud to be with my new partner and refuse to feel guilty about it.
Friends have been a revelation. Some close friends aren't going to be close any longer and others I thought I'd lost touch with have been a source of such support and love. They have shared their own stories and it's amazing how many people have gone through the same experience. Spare beds have been offered, sage advice given, Kleenex at the ready.
And my family.... have gone above and beyond. My mum has welcomed her 47-year-old daughter back to her spare room. My sister has been brilliant as always, but acted as a go-between when matters got really nasty. I'm so lucky to have them. I know that isn't always the case.
I never thought I would have kids. I had an early menopause and the one past relationship we discussed it in was never an appropriate place to bring children into. However there are happy faces in Germany, tantrums, hugs, school pickups and weird board games where I haven't got a clue what I'm doing. Not a replacement Mum or Dad, but a little help to both.
I have left my own 4-footed kids behind. It's been one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. I know they are truly loved with my ex and that she will give them all that they need. I will see them when I can.
Because Sarah and I met through the oils, I have been reticent about talking about them of late. That may sound strange but it's true. Like they are some evil force which breaks up marriages. The truth is completely the opposite of course. They support your systems and allow you to see clearly. I wouldn't be writing this now if it wasn't for them. So thank you Joy, Deep Relief and many others too!
It's strange how life takes a turn. Sarah and I have had all sorts thrown at us over the past few weeks. We are coping....no, more than that....we are getting stronger. The time away is hard. Thank goodness for Wi-Fi and Skype at service stations!
This started out as a blog about the differences between the UK and Germany. Well, that can come later. This one was important....
For Sarah's side of the story, read her blog post here.
Don’t get me wrong, I love living vicariously through her and the other girls, thinking that I can do those dances and that I have what it takes (I don’t). It’s the same when I watch Dancing With the Stars too. I always think that I can dance like that, but reality tells me that I am too old, too heavy and not that limber. I love watching her perform, and the joy that she gets from it. I love her sense of pride in her dance and how hard she has worked and how far she has come in this last year. I love watching her little feet constantly moving in some kind of tap dance move while she is just standing around – she doesn’t even realize she is doing it!
You could say that the competition season has been on the stressful side. I am a newly divorced mom, and do most of the parenting solo. (Like 99% of it –wink-wink). Which is actually just fine by me, and it’s what I was used to anyhow. I really don’t mind it. We had a long and unhappy, stressful marriage and I am very, very, very happily divorced now. Everyone is much happier. My kids are wonderful, fantastic children whom I adore. I work full-time, and parent full-time. My ex doesn’t even live near us, so co-parenting is not really an option.
With dance this spring, we have had to travel to three competitions. All of these were between two and five hours away by car. The last couple were only two weeks apart, and the furthest distances. Making sure that you have everything together, don’t lose any pieces of those costumes, packing the car, finding the locations, not being late, and getting hair and make up perfect takes a toll on you. I was so wrapped up with her new-in-the-box tap shoes not fitting her for the first comp that I totally forgot the other pair of shoes for the next dance!!! Thank goodness for grandparents to the rescue! It was stressful.
At each event my dance mom friends would tease me because I made sure to pack my diffuser and every oil in my arsenal. Who knows what you might need out there? For SURE you need that diffuser. Which sadly, I forgot at home for our last trip. Hotel rooms with stale smells were much more tolerable after I would run my diffuser with purification. I really needed it at night too, because Ava and my anxiety/excitement levels were through the roof and we had a hard time sleeping. I also brought my oil bag with me during the competition. Stomach aches/headaches (here try some Peppermint), anxiety/nervousness/drama (Peace and Calming/Stress Away to the rescue!) kids and parents alike were having pain from dancing or sitting too long (PanAway anyone?) muscle cramps (Lemongrass stops them in their tracks). This stuff works! Don’t leave home without it. My kids never ask for medicine anymore – now they just ask for the oils. It’s amazing to me, starting out as a person and family who had a hearty supply of medications for all sorts of things. Now we just are on the oils. No meds.
All in all it was a crazy, great time, filled with irreplaceable memories that we will all cherish. But until next season, I can honestly say that I am taking a deep breath, and am glad that it is over with for now.
By Sarah Fancy
First of all, I do have to apologize for the length between posts of late. I'm going to be brave here: very brave. I'm gathering all my courage to share what has been going on in my life and what is in my heart. Get ready.
In my last blog post, I vaguely referred to changes in my life that I needed to make. I talked about my friends and the things I saw inside myself that weren't quite right. During my time in Croatia, with the help of my essential oils, I finally took the time to look inward and start acknowledge something I hadn't quite managed to admit over the past twenty plus years of my life: the fact that I am gay. Yes, I've identified as bi in a dark corner of my mind for a long time. But over the past few years, that voice has gotten louder. Those who know me have seen how often I post about issues around gay rights and discrimination and feminism on Facebook. I've been a feminist since college and have been vocal about my support for gay rights since I started at the University of Michigan more than twenty years ago. I had crushes on women. My best friend Leah and I once spent an entire rugby tournament chasing around on one of the US Eagles national rugby players. So this wasn't completely out of the blue.
So what happened? I always wondered myself when people came out after having been married for a while. I didn't doubt the authenticity, exactly, but I did wonder why it took them so long. And then I ended up in the same boat. I'm not sure why I didn't go in this direction long ago. Maybe it was the evangelical Christian upbringing and the guilt that was associated with sexuality. Maybe it was fear. My younger sister came out when I was in my late twenties. Even in my college years, I knew I felt most at home and comfortable in a community of lesbian women. I just never took that small step that would have taken me in that direction. But I somehow always fell into relationships with men. And I married them! First one, then the next. In between my two marriages, I dated a woman for a little while. It didn't go anywhere (probably because she didn't want to get caught up in the drama of a "straight" woman with two kids) -- and then I met Jan. I fell in love again, and mostly forgot about the woman thing. Thoughts popped into my head every once in a while. I knew what kind of woman I found attractive. I seemed to fall into friendships with gay women quite often. But I stayed where I was.
And then came Croatia. I met all these amazing women. And I took the time to find my why. Why am I here? What do I want in my life? Am I happy? I knew that I had been going through the motions in my marriage for a long time. We had talked about it before. We tried counseling when we lived in Ireland. But the distance kept growing. I hadn't been able to find my way back and I felt like I was living with a roommate rather than a husband. We bickered a lot, and we seemed to be constantly in state of stress, but otherwise, things were okay. I spent a lot of time feeling like I had to conform to some other version of myself. He is an amazing father and an amazing person. How could I possibly leave him? He even does the laundry. I knew people wouldn't understand. But something inside of me gave way to something else when I was away. I opened my mind and my heart...and someone was waiting for me. The connection I have with her is like nothing I have ever felt before. Maybe it took me twenty years to find my path because she was waiting at the end of it.
Now comes the hard part. I have to unravel my life with my husband and take extreme care with my children. We are being very careful to make sure they feel safe and loved and wanted. I am living five minutes away and we are splitting the school runs and the dinners and the rest. There is no fighting and there is no drama. He knows why I had to leave and he is being supportive and helpful and the kind of man I always knew him to be. I am eternally grateful that I chose this man, even if it is not the right path for me. He will be able to find his way, I know that. And I appreciate his goodness and loving care every day.
So to Jan, thank you for being you. And to Kim, who is there waiting for me as I come out of the woods and into the light.
By Sarah Fancy Fuerstenberger
This past week, I spent five days in Split, Croatia to take part in the opening of a Young Living farm. I booked the trip because I always find these events to be inspiring and motivating. What I got was so much more.
Is it possible to make friends for a lifetime at the age of 43? I'm telling you it is. It has been so long since I have felt this way about a group of women, never mind ones I just met. I went into this trip with a bit of apprehension, because I was driving from Germany to Croatia with two women I had only met online. By the time we reached our first stop in Austria, I knew. These are my people. My family thinks I am crazy. How can it be that you trust and love people you've only known for a short time? How can you know? Why do you suddenly have someone to talk to at all hours of the night. I needed these people. And they needed me.
Each of these women brings something different to the table. Some are fighters; some are peacekeepers, all have experienced both joy and pain in their lives. Some are gentle and some are loud. I watched them grow as the week went on. I watched them shine in the sun and the sea and be transformed by those essential oils.
I thought I was strong when I met them. I needed to finally take a look inside myself and they held me and listened while I did that. What I learned is that I can still be myself, entirely myself, just as I am -- and that is good. Not OK, not acceptable, but amazing.
Of these incredible women I met, each has her own burden. I think all of us went home ready to face our fears and make changes to our lives. I know I did. And now I am having to live with those changes, even if they aren't making sense to anyone in my immediate circle and beyond. I had to do something that I have been avoiding for a long time, and that is face my own unhappiness and take steps to fix it. I can't be a good mother to my kids when I am not satisfied with myself and willing to own my own joy. I can't spend my life being something I am not. So this one's for you guys, my incredible Queen Bees: Woof, Kickass, Blizzard, Hottie, and Rolltide. I love you to bits. Onward and upward to diamond we go.