Just one of those weeks…

This is just one of those weeks.

One of those weeks where you get eight (eight!) skeins of yarn for your birthday and then immediately hack off a good portion of your fingernail while cutting onions so that you can’t knit until it’s healed.  Where you finally bought a new pair of shorts and the weather immediately decides it’s not summer anymore.  Where you stare out at the (appropriately) gray sky and think to yourself “what am I doing?”  for the hundred and seventeenth time since you moved across the Atlantic.  Where you cry every day about how long it will be until you have a job, a life, a baby (especially the baby part).  Where you mope around all  morning and afternoon waiting for someone to come on Skype to talk to, but they’re all in the wrong timezone.  Where all you can do is Sudoku and sulk.

It’s one of those weeks.

I definitely don’t want to say I’m unhappy, but there are good days, great days, and those days, and these days are definitely of the latter sort.  I’ve just been feeling rather lost, and I know the feeling will eventually pass (and eventually come back to visit again), but it’s still not fun when you’re in the midst of it.  I know this is all normal, and I don’t know if anyone in my position would be able to feel any differently.  I feel like my life is on hold and I’m just waiting…just passing the days until it starts back up again.  Sometimes this can come as almost a relief, and I just relax and let the days slide  by, but more often I feel like I’m in a difficult sort of limbo that I just can’t shake.  Baby fever doesn’t help.  At all. I feel that there’s really nothing I can do to help speed along the process, and feeling so out of control in your own life is discomfiting.

Honestly, I think a lot of this has been exacerbated by the fact that I’m one working finger down and can’t knit.  Knitting is my go-to productive activity, and I think it gives me a feeling of triumph and satisfaction that even baking doesn’t (after all, I can’t send my baked goods to family and friends far away).  I hope I’ll be able to pick it back up soon, but for now, I’ll just continue to practice my nine-fingered typing, and hopefully bring you a better, more optimistic post soon.  I’m waiting on a package to reach my sister in Malaysia before I post pictures of the knitted things it contains, so hopefully it gets there soon and I can put up a long-procrastinated knitting show-off post!

Until then, I’ll try to cheer up.  My husband just yelled from the other room “what’s with all the sighs?” as I checked the weather forecast (it’s supposed to rain straight through until Sunday).  Maybe I’ll drink extra cups of hot coffee and cozy up with a few books until Sweden decides it’s summertime again.  *sigh*

Photo-a-day Digest #3

12. Grass

15. Love (nothing but love could make me sort all of my husband’s black socks that are all ever-so-slightly different in color, size, and shape.)

16. What You’re Reading

17. Snack

18. Something You Made

19. A Favorite Place (at my dough-kneading station)

20. Something You Can’t Live Without (food)

21. Where You Stand

22. Pink

23. Technology

24. Something New

Why I Eat What I Eat

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I eat (okay, who am I kidding?  After three semesters of Culture and Food in college, I think about it all. the. time.).  A big reason for this is because with all my big life changes in the recent past, (and all this free time in the present) I’ve been thinking a lot more about everything in general.  I don’t have a job, and often it can feel like my life is purposeless, with gads of free time and it takes a lot not to lose your sense of self when everything in your life is shifting.  Another reason I’ve been thinking about it even more recently is that my best friend back in the states has made the decision to go vegan.

I myself, am technically a “pescatarian” (I eat the occasional piece of fish or tuna salad sandwich) but for the most part, I tell people I’m a vegetarian, to avoid having to explain what a pescatarian is, all the time.  I think going vegan is admirable.  I’m a vegetarian for many reasons, mostly environmental concerns, sustainability, and the awfulness of the meat industry, as well as some health reasons.  These are also some core pillars in support of veganism, but I’m not going to go vegan.  And it’s not because I like cheese.

There’s a quote by Abdu’l-Baha (one of the central figures in the Baha’i Faith) that goes like this “Exercise moderation in all things.” and this quote has been resounding with me so strongly over the past few months.  Moderation!  Of course!  I’m prone to extreme emotions, extreme bouts of sadness and anxiety, extreme joy, extreme homesickness, extreme love, extreme fear.  But whenever I’m in the throes of whatever I’m in the throes of, I try to remember moderation.  I try to remember to moderate my sadness, to recall little things that make me happy, and that all things pass.  Even when I’m euphoric, I try to take big calm, happy breaths to achieve more of a peaceful, contented happiness.  It’s so easy, and makes so much sense to me to extend this to every aspect of my life: computer/television time, exercise, and especially: what I eat.

I’ve also been trying to be less judgmental.  I’m extremely anxious, a lot of the time when I’m not in my own space, alone or with Andreas.  I’m extremely anxious because I’m afraid I’m doing everything wrong.  I’m afraid I’m walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk, I’m afraid I’m speaking too loud in the grocery store.  I’m afraid I’m talking too much at knitting group, or talking too little.  I’m afraid I’m smiling with a piece of spinach stuck between my teeth.  Chances are, I do all of those things, but chances also are that nobody cares.   I’m pretty sure they’re vastly more forgiving, friendly, and open than I am giving them credit for.

There are almost as many “ways” to eat as there are people to support, defend, argue about, criticize, and attack every other way of eating.  There are sciences to support some, there are contradictions, there are moral issues, and far too many people to offend.  I have made a decision to eat the way I eat, and to not judge others who don’t eat the same way.  There are too many different facets to food, food culture, eating styles, etc. to be able to judge anyone on the way they eat.  Do I think people should be mindful and make informed decisions?  Of course!  Do I think everyone should eat the way I eat?  Nope.  There are lots of viable, sensible “diets” that people follow, and so many different lifestyles that there is not one way of eating that fits them all.  I think people should make the decisions that fit their lives.  For some, this is going vegan, or eating the “paleo” way, and for some this isn’t really feasible, and even if it could be…”feased,” making such a huge life decision without passion and commitment doesn’t make sense to me, and in my eyes, what we eat is one of the biggest decisions in our lives, because not only does it help make up our identity and who we are, but it literally builds our bodies and forms us.

I try to be moderate.  I’ve started meal-planning, which has incidentally made it a lot easier to incorporate more vegetables and healthy food into my diet.  I buy eggs from hens that got to be outside because I think that’s nicer.  I eat some cheese, and I use real butter, and try not to buy processed foods, because I like the idea of using whole ingredients and knowing exactly what I’m eating.

I’ve been trying to find balance in my life, between trying to get “work” done and letting myself relax in this pretty neat “hiatus” time in my life that not many people get the chance to experience.  I find balance through food, I find balance through yoga, and through trying to conquer my demons (read: anxiety) and letting myself be an introvert.  I like the idea of balanced food.  Healthy, and wholesome, and sometimes candy.  I’m content with my decisions, but I wouldn’t say I’m proud because I think that’s one of the dangerous things that can cause judgment and separation (it is probably a deadly sin for a reason).

I think my friend is brave and I’m excited to hear about her new adventures in food, and even though my decisions aren’t the same as her decisions, I feel like we’re both right.  I feel confident that I’m doing what I feel is moderate, balanced, and makes sense for me and my life right now, and I’m just as confident that she made the right decision for herself andher life right now.

Mmm, who doesn’t want to eat these!

A Day Out

Yesterday was the last day of Andreas’s four-day weekend (darn) but the first day of real summer weather (YAY!)!  In the afternoon, Andreas left his Diablo III game to walk with me to Pildammsparken, a large nature-y park nearby that we’ve been meaning to explore.  The sky was blue, the sun was hot and even the wind was warm!  After hearing all about the reports of unseasonably warm Wisconsin weather since March, I’ve been (relatively patiently) waiting for our own here in Sweden and here it comes!  We got ice cream and walked around the whole park which is awesome!  It has meadows and a bit of forest, a lake, and flower gardens–basically anything that anyone would want in a park, with the addition of what seems like thousands of geese and ducks.

We’ve vowed to have at least a couple of picnics here as summer progresses, and when I finally get a pair of running shoes, I’m looking forward to having such a beautiful space to run.  But I’m not kidding anyone, there’s also going to be a whole lot of leisurely knitting in the sunshine and endless pages turned (the park just happens to be really close to the city library).

It’s lovely to have days every once in a while to remind me how lucky I am, and to remind me not to look back wistfully on how I felt a year ago (excited about having graduated, and looking forward to our wedding and seeing so many of our dear friends again) or where I want to be in a year from now, but to concentrate on how wonderful right now just happens to be.  I’ve been aiming more and more for that sought-after “attitude of gratitude” am surprised at how easy it’s been to suddenly feel overwhelmed with happiness and thankfulness, especially after a few hormonal baby-fever meltdowns that may or may not have occurred this weekend.

I’m just grateful that there is more than enough happiness and peacefulness in my life to help me get through tough times and bouts of homesickness.

When life hands you failed cakes…

Yesterday, I decided to be adventurous, brave, and ambitious…in the kitchen.  I decided I was going to make an Exciting Cake!  However, I ended up spending the majority of the day browsing Foodgawker for inspiration and a good idea.  Finally I found a chocolate cake recipe and threw myself into cake-making!  Unfortunately, it was just not meant to be.  I burned the chocolate on my first attempt at melting it, and somehow managed to put the oven 50 degrees (celcius) higher than I meant to which resulted in a high-in-the-middle cracked, slightly too brown cake.

I’ll be honest.  I almost cried.  However, it was time for me to go pick up Andreas from the train station, and I didn’t have time for a meltdown so I threw on my coat and marched out the door, imagining that when I came back home, maybe the cake would be magically healed.

It wasn’t.  However, when I saw him walking towards me in the train station, my heart jumped, just like it always did when I’d see him after being apart for 6 months, and my cake-woes immediately felt solvable again.  On the way home, we stopped by ICA and had a fruit-(and laundry detergent)-buying-spree, and I knew we were headed in the right direction.

These strawberries, and their strawberry smell, were pure inspiration, and it was decided that when life hands you failed cakes…you make trifle.  Andreas even took a break from Diablo to come help me put it all together!  And while I’m on that, he is so much better at balancing video games and real life than I expected!  Even though he squeaks “this game is so FUN!” at frequent intervals, he took a long trifle-making break AND even did yoga with me this morning before he started playing!

The fruit alone looked good enough to gobble up, but we were patient, and our patience was rewarded:

with trifle!  Trifle so good that it made Andreas sing “Come trifle with me…come trifle, let’s trifle awaaaaay” over…and over.  Trifle so good that I didn’t even mind!  Not even a little bit.

So I learned not to be upset over failed cakes, and to be thankful I have a husband who    a) makes me feel better when I do get upset over failed cakes, b) helps me turn them into awesome things, and c) won’t mind that I post the following picture.

Awwww, boys and trifle.

Moving into the new apartment was sort of a “fresh start” for me, and I’ve been feeling so much better!  I wake up early in the mornings and do yoga in an airy, light apartment, have kicked my “addiction” to TV, and get out of the house every day (even if it’s just to walk to the train station).  I’m so grateful for every new beginning (even if having so many new beginnings gets wearing after a very short while).

The Courage to Walk Four Feet

I’ve spent the last half-hour being the biggest self-bully I think I’ve ever been.  I was in the midst of baking hamburger buns (coincidentally the best buns ever) when my doorbell rang!  What a lovely surprise!  I opened it to my neighbor and my sister-in-law who invited me over for a chat and a piece of cake (or at least, I think she did.  She was speaking Danish, and my brain wasn’t expecting that, being quite preoccupied with trying to remember what one is supposed to say/do when one opens the door.)

However, I declined the delightful invitation, saying I was in the middle of baking bread and couldn’t really leave.  They smiled and said that’s alright, but they’ll be right across the hall if I want to come over.

They’re so nice.  They’re so sweet and nice and I so want to walk across the hall and knock on the door and talk to them while their sons play wild games, but instead I’m listening to said sons and said wild games through the wall and unsuccessfully holding back tears because I don’t have the balls to go over.  Most people don’t even need balls for that.  To be fair, though, it doesn’t take much to send me into tears lately.  Yesterday I drooled a large blob of toothpaste on my shirt and bawled for fifteen minutes.

I’m trying to convince myself that I’ll go over on my way to pick up Andreas from the train station, even if it’s just to say hi and thanks and bye, and hopefully I’ll be able to.

It’s just hard to stop berating myself for being such a silly, silly person, and I just think about how I wasn’t always like this.  Proof:

See?  I’m so social and confident and outgoing that I don’t care that my new friend seems completely uninterested in me.

Ah to be four again…

Fun and Candy!

The other day, when I was looking around for something for the daily photo theme of “fun!” I spotted a large plate of candy sitting in the kitchen.  Now, just to clear things up, we normally don’t have THIS MUCH candy (despite what my niece might think, who recently drew me a picture which included a written reminder for me not to “eat so many treats”).  However, we were recently in a newly discovered Netto store (a grocery chain) which, by the way, looked like this:

Obviously, we had to go in, and they just happened to be having a sale on candy!  The most common way to buy candy here in Sweden is a candy “buffet” which I have yet to get a picture of because every time I see one, I’m too busy asking Andreas if we can buy candy to get out the camera.  Anyway, they have cute little paper bags to fill with as much of each kind of candy as your little Swedish heart desires, and I’m a big fan.  It seems that candy is as important to Swedish culture as beer is to Danish, and I’m wondering if I wouldn’t fit in better here…

As I sat down to get a picture, I began having WAY too much fun, and thought I’d share a few more cheerful candy pictures.

One of each!

I would just like to add, that I did not eat a single piece of this candy during the entire “photoshoot.”  In fact, I haven’t eaten candy in two days.  Turns out, the way to slow down my voracious candy-eating habits is to have loads of colorful candy just sitting around all the time.  Who knew?

Things I’m Afraid To Tell You

I saw this blog challenge first here and then followed it back to the original post here.  I thought it was pretty neat, because I’ve been a bit more silent lately, and part of the reason is reluctance to share what’s going on, so I figured I’d take advantage of this challenge and be a little more transparent.

Things I’m Afraid to Tell You

1. I’m positive that I have serious issues with anxiety, both plain old social anxiety, and anxiety about life in general.  All this time to myself in this brand-new life that I wasn’t really prepared for has really magnified it all and brought them to my attention, and while I’m doing my best to fix it by myself, I don’t think I can.  The reason I’m most afraid to talk about it is that I don’t want to sound angsty and repeat myself all. the. time.

2. I’m actually pretty proud of the little things I do well, and I think about them when I’m feeling sad or a bit useless, even if I brush it off when people compliment me on them.  For example: typing quickly, knitting quickly, learning language well, writing poems, and sometimes baking.

3.  I’m so afraid that people will take my shyness as being standoffish or aloof that I tend to “overcompensate” by baking people treats, knitting them things, or leaving nice notes.

4. Sometimes, I need to be nicer to my husband.  And also, less stubborn.  I work on this every day, and I think I’m getting lots better.

5. I want children a ridiculous amount.  Seriously.  When I see a baby, my heart melts, when I hold a baby, I basically turn to jelly (not literally, though, phew!  Don’t worry, I won’t drop your baby!)  I browse pregnancy and baby blogs like nobody’s business, and I often feel like the only young, childless woman who does this.

6. I used to think I had really good self-esteem and body image.  Turns out, I just had a great body.  Even letting a few pounds of muscle laze their way into fat had turned me into a belly-fat-pinching, arm-fat-jiggling worrywart.  It’s gotten better, but it’s not great.

7. I feel guilty for being so afraid all the time and not enjoying this awesome experience of living abroad enough.  I feel like there are thousands of people who could “do it better” than I can.

8.  I like watching reality TV (like Top Model, Project Runway, 16 and Pregnant, and all the shows about families on TLC).