My list for a happier life! Rated “E” for Everyone!

Lately, I have been on a mission to find a way to live my life more fully. I was overwhelmed for sometime after moving to Serbia. Getting my “Sea Legs” has taken more time than usual. I think having a child pull your attention does that.

Now I have found some purpose just looking for one. Ironic right? But I know that won’t last long. I must find something to do here besides the farming bit that I love.

In the mean time, I have found that one must choose to be happy. One must look for the things that will do that. Here are things I have found super helpful to me as an expat but would do for anyone anywhere. Really.

They are in no particular order. Lots of them will work in tandem with another!

Take a walk and enjoy the scenery. This can be difficult in some places. But it can be done if you are dedicated. I do this all the time in my “new” small town. I find gorgeous sites locals don’t even notice. They ask me, “where is that house?” Of course they have passed it a ton of times, but have forgotten the beauty around them. I found the same to be true when i visited the U.S. last winter. We really do become immune to beauty that is all around us.

The walk will clear your mind. New ideas or solutions will come to you. Being outside is good. Get out of the house! You don’t know what or who you will discover.

Make friends with your neighbors if you can. But really. Make friends. It is important to your well-being.

It is important to have good friends. Sometimes that friend is a dog or a cat. That is o.k. Chances are, you will find someone. Be open. and make some friends!

Helping others can do wonders for you. It really makes you feel good to do things to help others. it could be just listening to an old person who is lonely. It could be opening a door for someone. Moving a snail from the sidewalk to the grass. Whatever! just help someone!

Give Giving is like helping. It really does make us feel good. Even if it is just a smile, give your smile to a stranger.

Smile. Even if others don’t smile back. Living in Eastern Europe makes this a bit challenging at times. People don’t smile back. They don’t even wave back at my little girl when she waves. But she keeps on waving. And I keep on smiling. I hope that the smile does something to brighten someone’s day. If not, it gives some sour old coot something to wonder about. “why was that weird lady smiling at me?”

Adopt an animal. Animals bring an immeasurable sense of joy. An animal friend can limit loneliness to nothing. It can ease culture shock to a minimum. I know this from experience.

If you live in a place where you can have an animal and there are street animals. Adopt one of them. Take food with you when you go for a walk and share with your homeless furry friends.

Listen to music! It is medicine for the soul. Find some fun stuff. Upbeat Dance music always does it for me. and Dance it out!

Write! This blog is a huge bit of therapy for me. It is an outlet, a diary, a chronicle of my life that clears my head and gives me purpose. I hope sometimes that it helps others. But there is no doubt, it helps me beyond belief. I am happier because I write.

What makes you happy?

The Healing Power of Nature~in honor of Earth day

I want to urge you to take time to get out and enjoy the feel and smell of the freshness of spring.

Camping in Byron Bay, Austrailia

I have always been in love with the outdoors. I love big water. I was born next to Lake Erie. Later moved to an ocean town.

At the same time I love camping in the wilderness. Walking trails and watching for little critters as I go.

I found the best fit for the two of those loves at Anastasia State park in St. Augustine, FL. I would go there and pitch my little mini tent all alone and just breath for a few days.

Working in the field, Vina, Serbia

At night, on my way to the toilet, I may cross paths with a raccoon or a opossum.Something that people only see on discovery channel or youtube videos. . And there they are in my path.

On our farm here in Serbia, I get my chance for soul breathing every time we go out into the fields. I see birds nests in the trees and on the ground. I see the tracks of wild pigs. I hear the call of birds in the air and the wind in the trees.

A monarch on Milkweed Assateague, Maryland

Soul breathing is something I came up with as I wrote this. It just seems about right. We are animals. Mammals. Our souls know where we belong. And when we are in natural surroundings, it is a bit of good medicine for the soul. Not to mention the vitamin D we get from the sun!

A wild horse that crossed out path. Assateague Island

If you are keen on being inspired by nature or downsizing for super sizing your life, one of these two Ted Talk videos may be the ticket. I enjoyed then both.

The first video inspires humility, gratitude, and grace. All good things. I could use more of that in myself.

Next up is the not unattractive scientist who loves turtles. I loved a turtle once til it bit me. I may or may not have been petting its head at the age of 4. Mr. Turtle didn’t like being pet like a cat. Lesson learned!

I digress. This is an inspiring nature video. If you are interested, click the link below!

Dobar Dan Y’all!

 

 

 

Srecan Uskros~ Happy Easter

I hope y’all have had an awesome Easter like we have.

It started out with Munchkin’s first Easter hunt. I just set Eggs around the house and told her to look for them. The first thing she went for was in the toy box. It was our NFL American football. She calls it jaja or egg. Who can blame her. It is almost the same shape!

Then when she saw the real eggs, she went to town. She was so excited! I forgot how much fun Easter egg hunts were. Next year I must spread the fun around and make it a family and friends event!

We were off to the village right after. It was a gorgeous day to be in the village. This was the first day in 4 days it hadn’t rained. The green  leave and grass were vibrant! The flowers hues were electric.

After some time with the family, a walk was in order. Our plan was to walk up to the Village cross.

Obviously, we eventually made it.

But we made several wonderful stops along the way. The first was to see Baba Ljubinka and her clan. That is always great. We chatted a bit and I got to take a pic of their eggs. They have such a different tradition for eggs here. It will never lose its coolness factor with me.

We rambled up the hill slowly. Every few feet I would have to pick up the Munchkin and carry her. Then she would walk again for a short while. We stumbled upon some grazing sheep, and chatted with the shepherdess.

We made it to the cross and the pavilion was empty.  The cross was beautifully adorned.

When we got home, Munchkin and I had some barn loft play time. She loves jumping around the barn, but is clearly unimpressed with the “selfie” concept.

Upstairs for a diaper change, playing loudly in the bedroom, and all of a sudden the Munchkin says, “deda spava.” Sure enough. I look around the corner and there he is sleeping of domestic wine. Natural Serbian Easter celebrating tradition.

Soon we were all around the table having the most wonderful food. Some of it was even extraordinarily beautiful.

Happy Easter Monday to you all!

 

Elementary School Easter Fair

Srecan Uskrs or Happy Easter Cards

I love kid made cards. They have so much more feeling and character.

 

This year Orthodox Easter and Protestant Easter are on the same Sunday.

There were a bunch of fun Easter goodies crafted by the children. Lots of sweet treats being sold, and some really cool art!

The atrium in the center of the school was pumping with techno beats. Body heat and radiators filled the room to excess. Children’s cheeks were flushed. The place was a mad house. Pack to the gills! I hope they did well!

I think this was my favorite craft of all… maybe tied with this one below.

What great imaginations, Thinking outside the box to create unique art! Brilliant!

Life hacks… How to make Coconut oil, Coconut Milk, and Coconut Butter!!

You put the lime it the coconut and drink ‘em both up. Ah, I love that song, it makes me want to dance. My love for coconut is just as strong… and it doesn’t have to be in a Pina Colada for me to enjoy it! But that is one of my fav ways! ;)

Just yesterday I found a video that will give me an even greater love for this sweet treat! I am seriously giddy and I can not wait to go out and buy a coconut or two!!

What is stopping me you ask? Well, for the third, or maybe the fourth day in a row is raining cats and dogs and I am feeling a bit achy with a sore throat.  Who knows. Maybe I will venture out in just a bit when the rain lets up.

Oil pulling the strong come of an ancient Ayurvedic practice is all the rage right now. I admit I have become a follower. The Hindu people are really savvy, what proof do I have of that? The Kama Sutra is actually a part of their Bible! HELLLOOO!

I have made oil pulling a part of my morning routine for over a month. My teeth are slightly and I mean just slightly whiter. But I continue to do it because it is improving my gum health.  My gums used to bleed every time I brushed. I noticed a few days ago, they hadn’t been bleeding at all for a week or more.

For the last six months or more I have been reading about the benefits of coconut oil on hair and skin, and of course in food! While I was home at Christmas, I bought a large jar of it. It is impossible to find here in Serbia as far as I have heard. It is an hours drive to find coconut milk, and I had never even heard of coconut butter before. But!!! I just found a video on how to make it. I am thrilled.

I can’t wait to buy a coconut and give it a go. Especially since the oil I  have been using is really poor quality. There is no coconut aroma or taste, and I wonder what process it went through to lose all that yumminess. I am sure it wasn’t the healthiest way to go. But it was my first time buying it.

Now, I can do it all myself and I know it will be healthy!

If you can find a coconut you can make the oil or butter or milk! Get to it. No more excuses friends!

Bonus Classic Coconutty Music!

Ah, a slumber party like that would be awesome! Of course a long lie in the next day would be key as well. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

Join my Expat Book Club

Hi all!

I have joined a few FB groups in the Belgrade area, but I am at a loss for real community. I recently had an epiphany… I could start an online book club! It is an effort in sharing ideas, posting reading revelations, making friends, and finding direction for expats who have been uprooted and are trying to get their “sea legs”.

It really doesn’t matter what country you are from or where you are in the world. You just need to be able to read the book and share your thoughts on what you have read.

The first book we will read is A Career in Your Suitcase by Jo Parfitt.

The book has a great website that sports a blog, stories, resources, events and more. You can see it all here!

You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Career-Your-Suitcase-Practical-Meaningful/dp/1909193143

 

Now in its fourth edition, it has had amazing success. I think we will find it the perfect book for Expat inspiration.

Please join our group here.

 

https://www.facebook.com/expatbookclubserbia

The Balkan life….

Sometimes when I am in our village I have blogging ideas. I may be in the field, or stuck upstairs waiting for my Munchkin to wake up. Often I am with out pen and paper but the trusty IPhone is there willing and able with a note pad! I write my thoughts and now I am sharing them with you.

Notice the lady with the large heavy hoe. She is wearing the traditional Baba uniform. The Black skirt and stockings. The large wool sweater and probably an apron. The foot wear is like a thick rubber ballet shoe. Normally they are accompanied with thick homemade wool socks that cover the stockings. This is good for all types of work. Even working the land.

 

 

Language Acquisition: my TT Tuesday

I think I have done three of four Ted Talks Tuesdays. I will continue to do them. I use them as a mini class to inspire me to learn about something I have great interest.  If you have an interest in language learning, I hope they inspire you as well.

Benny the Irish Polyglot gave this great speech on becoming fluent in many languages. Hope you will find it inspiring too.

 

Munchkin Monday 4.14.2014

Wee haw is still the word she uses for swinging. it is her own word. not Serbian or English

Chuti i Bezi is  what she likes to say to Daddy most right now. Actually that isn’t true.. but that is what he claims. Bezi means go away. and Chuti is like shut up. Not very nice. she has a very bossy streak… not unlike me. ;)

Making a tent in the bed and playing in the home-made one are the next best things to Peppa Pig.(Peppa Pig is on non-stop.) Making the bed tent equals us laying down and lifting our legs to hoist the covers up and create the tent. Presently, she calls all tents tunnels. I try to correct here, but I am getting used to being wrong already. It is inevitable she is right.

She loves running into friends in the park. We get a little play time in and then we walk home together.

Eating is only an occasional pass time. One day she will, and the next she won’t, but milk is always on the menu!

“Oh dear” is her new exclamation for angst. “Oh no” when something is broken or she has thrown dropped on the floor.

Play dough is best ground up in the fingers till it becomes flour again. Or Mommy is to make balls and eggs from it…. so she can again become a human mill creating Play dough flour.

She loves sitting on Daddy’s lap and reclining against his chest.

She is saying Pweez (please) and Thank you when she wants things. But not all the time.

That’s “the end” for this episode!

 

 

Farmer Problems, love stories and other village tales

Now that I am working on the farm here (in Serbia), I see that problems facing farmers in this neck of the woods are quite often different from the ones at home. The history of the land changes how things are done. The land is cut up into tiny sections or plots to farm, unlike back in the US where the fields being farmed are most often acres and acres for one farmer.

When a person decides to farm instead of moving to the city to get a job (like everyone else) a delicate process begins, finding land that is flat enough and close enough to other plots. All this at a good price. This can be tricky, and more complicated when people know you have worked in the U.S. and have an American wife!  Yep, the price goes up for us… but we are savvy and patient, we don’t buy over priced land.

This how it works for us: Mama makes calls to family member and friends begin to see if anyone has land they want to sell. When she does manage to acquire some, Then the game of “Connect the Plots” gets more interesting. And maybe you get lucky with some that are almost side by side.

This is where we are now. A few of the plots are quite close together, one is only separated by a long strip that is literally only two or three meters wide and a football field long.

Enter a love story half a century old. A woman long ago scorned and her thwarted desire breaks the connection. Quite literally, she was arranged to be married to the hubby’s father. He married someone else, my awesome Mother-in-law and they had my adorable hubby.

Rabbit trail…….Arranged marriages were quite common here not all that long ago. The hubby’s grandparents had an arranged marriage. Two prominent village families combined their land and their children. Talk about family business!

Back to the blog in progress~The sour old bitty won’t let it go, even though the land it just sitting there, and hasn’t been worked for YEARS. Still, she won’t let it go even for monetary gain! Her loss.

This is not the only love story of old that marks the village. Once I came downstairs to Mama having coffee with two of the neighbor women. I am not sure how they came to be sitting next to each other, but I noticed they only spoke to Mama and not each other. A strange tension was tangible.

After they left, Mama had a giggle about how they didn’t like each other. Back in the day, when they were both young girls, they had liked the same boy. One married the now long dead fellow and had a family. The other lived with her mother the rest of her life. These women were practically next door neighbors for eighty years!!!, and they refuse to speak to each other. :( Sad.

 

Choosing to be happy and letting things go is such a healthier lifestyle. Imagine the laughs they could have together if they only let the dead guy go and focused on life and friendship!

I can see how these things fester. We take a couple of dirt roads to get to our fields, this spring while one farmer was plowing his field, he decided to widen it a bit. The rest of the farmers using the gritty dirt road were a bit put off by his adding a few feet to his field by plowing into the well-traveled earth.  That kind of thing sticks in your craw. And when Papa drives the tractor on that strip, he steers the wheels over that bit of plowed patch so that the road again will be widened and the greedy goose won’t prosper from common property.

This is not the only episode of over plowing this season that has been an issue. One of our new fields (that abuts the sour old bitty’s unworked patch on the left) was measured, marked and planted. The knowledge of how much space we would need for the tractor to get around the trees guided our work. Two very large stones were placed at the edge our field and his to be out-of-the-way of the plows. The farmer, then plowed a full meter into our field. It isn’t like it will ruin our crops, our trees are another meter over so no harm done to them. But he won’t be reaping anything from our fields to be sure!

Distrust is something that seems to be ingrained in the heads of people here and it is no wonder. The hubby and I were interested in some land not far from one of our families biggest field’s. The very old village drunk was keen for some more beer and was eager to sell us land he was far to old to work.

We made arrangements to see the plot and picked up the antique gent for a look at the piece that was his. His rickety frame wobbled out to meet us on the road and we helped him climb slowly into the wagon.

To make a long story short, it turned out to be a nice piece of flat land with complications staggering. The son didn’t want us to buy it. From what I heard, he was a drunk too, and he didn’t want to work the land he wanted to sell it to spend the money on adult beverages. That apple didn’t fall far from the tree! He threatened my husband, but the hubby isn’t easily intimidated. ;)

When the paperwork was to be done and all was on its way to being signed in the city office, hubby got a look at the plot of land on a computer. It was not the same one he was shown.

Dah    Dah     Duh!     What a twist to this tale! After seeing the land, working out a price, repelling threats, and paying fees for paper work, we find out we almost bought and worked a completely different piece of land!

It pays to do things the right way and make sure things are handled properly!

I am positive there will be more village tales to come, I am always hearing old stories and experiencing new cultural things.
Thanks for stopping by!  I would love to hear if you have had any similar experiences. or interesting cultural stories. Please leave me a comment! :)

Dobar Dan Y’all!