Ktown Choir an open Letter to my Mom

Mom, I joined the choir.

You know that all the years I was in school and beyond I was in the choir. I really love to sing. I remember singing along to the radio as early as 3 or 4. And of course I was dancing too. I just couldn’t help myself. Really, I am not kidding.

I began singing in church and doing solos when I was really young, now I think about it. I was probably seven or eight when I sang “Away in a Manger” my first solo at church.

Joining the choir here in Ktown was initially an attempt to improve my Serbian. But, I found I am just filled with joy that I can sing again. The people are so helpful, and I am thrilled to meet new people. The whole choir thing has made me feel so much more normal. I do fear my stupidity with the Serbian language will get old and they will soon tire of helping me. Crossing my fingers I am not overly needy.

Here in Serbia, often I feel like only half of me. Slowly, all of me is beginning to show up.

Nerves strike me often, and I make stupid mistakes while I am singing. I think I will feel at home soon. I practice at home with you tube videos when possible. Some of the songs move so fast that it is a bit of a challenge to read the text in Cyrillic and sing along. All this, while reading the music. But it is good for me. It stretches my brain.

Below is one of my favorite songs in Cyrillic… Just so you can see what I am working with. Here is the photo credit: http://vaspitaci.blogspot.com/2014/01/blog-post_8605.html

 

When I first walked into the choir room, they were already singing a song. I must tell you, I was stunned, it was in English. Immediately, I was a bit bummed! I came to the class for Serbian!! But it was only the first page and then it was onto Latin.¬† ūüôā¬†¬† Soon enough we were off to a another song and it was in Serbian.

I am really enjoying the singing as well as learning traditional songs that speak to the soul with their beauty and culture. I can’t help but smile when I hear the music for the first time. It is just gorgeous! Again, I feel like a tourist in an exotic land with so much beauty, and I get to take part in the action!! Freaking cool!!

Me with mascara running! Photo credit: http://bajo-el-mar.tumblr.com/post/17137369879/about-to-spam-you-all-big-time-with-dogs-available

Foreigner Follie Choir edition….I am pretty sure last week, I went to class with mascara all over my eye. The Munchkin (who is almost three now, is obsessed with snow and the idea of snow ball fights!) had thrown some snow at me when we were walking home from helping out at an English class. I though nothing of it and dropped her . Then, I went to choir. No one said anything. So maybe I am wrong…? But when I got home after choir practice and looked in the mirror, I looked like I had a black eye. LOL Munchkin- 1 Mom- 0

Learning songs it is a challenge. I still don’t know what the words mean. That makes memorization a bit more challenging! But I do love a challenge!

I am a little fearful I won’t be good enough. That my mistakes will be too much. Our choir is very good and the director is amazing! I was a bit shocked as this is a small town. But, I hope they keep me. Even if I am not good enough to sing in the upcoming events that would be ok.¬† This choir is feeding my soul. I really love it.

We are learning old Serbian classics, and they are really really beautiful. Just like the people.  Serbian people are just amazing. Check out the link below to hear one of these great classics. Hymna Sveti Sava

I love you Mom, miss you lots. XOXO

Meanwhile back on the farm…. Pt 1

We are back to work… well, we were for 3 days.

Now, a bit of a break and time for coffee with friends!

Grand Reklama ūüėČ

Almost a month straight of rain has soaked the ground.

Weeds grew like wildfire over the land.

I had to clear weeds from the baby trees by hand or hoe, and the hubby ran the plow and the tiller over the rest of the fields.

When we were sore and tired, things looked a lot neater, and the trees will have less competition for nutrients.

One of our fields slopes down to a small creek that became more like a river after all the clouds burst like water balloons. God’s water balloon battle left the lowest trees with their feet soaking for a few days. ¬†But all is well, unless we get too much rain again.

Mother’s day was another work day, but it was also a great family day. Baba made an awesome breakfast pizza. I love Baba’s cooking!

Munchkin stayed with Baba and Deda for a two nights, and didn’t want to come home! What a nice break for the Mommy and Daddy! ūüôā

Dobar Dan Y’all!

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!

 

 

 

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.

 

Life lessons learned on the farm

I mentioned in my last post we have a new (used) toy on the farm, our Italian tiller. I will call this “toy” ¬†Pecky because it expands and retracts like a pecker. And because there is a rooster on the sticker.

 

Pecky the tiller is a dynamo, it chews up ¬†the ground like cookie monster does cookies. The tilling arm extends until the sensor pushes it back from a tree like we would step to the side to avoid a pole in our path. This machines work hard¬†so we don’t have to hoe the field all up to stop the weeds. Like the rest of us it isn’t perfect. If the machine is tilling without guidance from a human, it can easily chew up baby trees because the sensor is only going to notice the big ones.

Like most farm machines, it is big, and heavy. It has to be. This makes it hard for little people like me to control it. You need a strong arm. Mine is not that strong.

Another downfall of the machine is the jostled while not in use, or it isn’t on level ground, the tilling teeth will slowly extend. *Spoiler alert* Our fields aren’t all that flat, so my job was very difficult.

I learned this all the hard way on the first day. I was the one sitting on the back of the tractor holding our little work horse rooster by the reins.

This is where the lessons began, but they didn’t end there.

As I was struggling with Pecky, I began to explain the problems I was having to the Muz. I guess he thought I was just being lazy or I just didn’t know what I was talking about, because he didn’t believe me.

How could his wonderful new toy be extending on its own, Of course it wouldn’t. I had to be the operator. His mule like wit made me want to quit, but this is my land too. Quitting isn’t much of an option for me. I like to see a job completed.

I worked on noticing one issue after another and tried to tell the Muz, but he wasn’t hearing it. I started to hate the machine by the end of that day.

The next day we were at it again and again he didn’t believe me. At the end of the day he wanted to go to a field of seedlings, and take the sensor off. That means it would be all my arm strength in pulling the tiller to keep the baby seedlings safe as Pecky rolled by with an insatiable appetite.

My arms were both sore and tired. I knew that I wasn’t capable of keeping our new baby trees from the spiraling teeth, so I refused to do it. He would have to drive the tractor and pull the rope himself.

After one row he stopped, he wanted to know if I was really going to make him plow an acre of our seedling sour cherries himself. I prayed for wisdom and the right words as I walked down the field to speak with him. Speaking simply and calmly, I told him, I wasn’t strong enough, I just couldn’t do it.

He pressed on and tilled up the field as I walked around removing large stones from the field that would harm Pecky’s teeth.

I was relieved to go home at the end of the day, and an even better surprise awaited me. We would have no baby sitter the next day as Baba had to go out of town. I was relieved that the Muz and Papa had to be the tilling team.  I knew by the end of the next day, the Muz would see I was right. Thankfully he did. He admitted it immediately upon his return home the following evening.

Even after he worked out some of the bugs he would still complain about how sore his arm and hand were¬†from pulling on Pecky’s cord to make it retract all day. All I could say was, “I told you!”

I am not writing this for him to read and see the” I told you so” thing. I am writing this for me.

Experiences like these are good for all of us. They are painful to go through. But I learned several lessons. Some were reruns or reminders of truths previously learned.

Relationship lessons

1. Sometimes no matter how much you explain something, a person must learn by experiencing it themselves.

2. We need to be patient with our loved ones.

3. Quitting may not be a bad thing sometimes.

4. Trust yourself. Only you know how strong you are. Don’t let others tell you that you are strong enough when you know you aren’t. And don’t let them stop you when you are!

5. Tomorrow is a new day, with more to learn.

6. Perspective is everything. Sometimes getting a new one is the only option.

Pecky lessons

1. Don’t be too cocky, no one is perfect.

2.  If we get too shaken up sometimes we bare our teeth.

3. Gravity can get to us all. We just need to know we can pull ourselves back up, even if it takes a little time and lots of effort.

4. Be sensitive to the big ones and the little ones.

5. Get rid of the weeds in your life. Weeds consume the life-giving water and nutrients.  Without them you to grow stronger and bare more fruit.

 

 

 

Ted Talks Tuesday. For Women and a Better World

One of the purposes of my life is to encourage and empower women. I am finding Ted Talks particular helpful for me, and maybe you will too.

I was incredibly moved by this  Talk by Manal al-Sharif. She is the women who filmed herself driving in Saudi Arabia. She has a lot of great quotes.
The points that most struck me are these.

A country is not free unless the women are free. 

This is so true, and like in her example, it is not just about law it is about cultural traditions and beliefs. Often I feel like I live in a Muslim country. And, in fact, Serbia was ruled by Muslims Turks for 400 years. The hangover of that occupation and oppression has left a serious mark. I feel it daily. Women must be very strong here. They must speak up for themselves and know their worth. Sadly, many do not and it continuing the oppression of women.

It is not only about the system, it is about the women. 

There is a quote I have seen here and there, “What you allow will continue”. It is not only about the people who appear to be in control. It is about everyone. If you put up with bullying and believe what is said, you allow yourself to be made less. It is your fault for not standing up for yourself, and it is a VERY bad example for your children and the rest of society. Everyone benefits from a strong smart society of Men And Women.

You get stronger only if you stick up for yourself and others. Being quiet and keeping the peace not only harms you but also the entire society. If you don’t put forth effort for change, nothing will happen.

Her last statement is the key to it all. “Who do you think is more difficult to face, governments or oppressive societies?”

It is obviously the societies, There are always norms or beliefs held to be true that if you do not heed them there are cultural sanctions. I feel like I fight them daily here, but I am different because this is not my natural society. That gives me freedoms others do not have. It also gives me a different view of what is right or proper. Fighting cultural norms are not so hard for me as for women here.

There are some freedoms in being a foreigner, but there are also some larger constraints. If and when I speak out about things that are wrong in my new society, it may be seen as a mean or unfair critique of that society. But if I don’t speak up, I won’t know if it is or not. I also won’t know if what I say may help empower or enlighten others to things that may not be seen as clearly as me. There is a better than average chance I will speak up if I can speak in English. I am not terribly afraid to rock boats. I like the way they rock most of the time. ūüôā

In my humble opinion, I think that women need to question the limitations put on them. Look at norms with logic. Think, really think about the things you feel are stopping you. It may just be yourself or an idea in the society and nothing more. Take the initiative for change. Trust me, I know that I am no one of great importance. I am just a women who wants a better life for herself, her family and her friends, and for the rest of Serbia. The little steps we take can turn out to be big ones. You just never know.

If you think this applies only to women in eastern countries you are far from the truth. There are so many things that need to change all over the world. Please apply these ideas to your own life for a bit of change for the good. ūüôā

It took 100 women of their society to  make a change in Saudi Arabia. Only 100! imagine what just a few can do in yours.

Please watch this Ted Talk. You may just find it inspiring too!

Please share your thoughts, questions, or any comments you have. Dialogue is enlightening. ¬†ūüôā

I have lost my groove

No, not my dancing groove. In fact, I dance now more than I used too. The Munchkin likes¬†no LOVES to dance and so we do, Daily! IT is my blogging groove that is missing. I have been back and forth so much between the village and town, then with the PMS from hell and trying to balance my new summer life… I am all out of sorts.

This is a big holiday weekend back home, the kick off of summer and the big working season at the beach where I used to live for the last 20 years. (Enter Cha-ching cash register sound here!) I think that has a lot to do with my mental state.  I miss my job, friends and my old life in general.

At the same time, the work on the farm here has picked up. I have written about most of the work I have done, NOT MUCH. ¬†I go with the intention of working. Millie throws a fit and all agree I should stay with her. ūüė¶ It is frustrating. I am used to working for the family, providing, now I just babysit. though I guess it isn’t babysitting when it is your own child. But it leaves me feeling useless. unproductive. confined. IT Sucks!

People here in Serbia say it is the best job there is. I think I have even heard that at home too. but I would agree to disagree. I want a job that makes money.

On the other hand, people here ask me when I will put her in Preschool. and I think, “WHAT?!” she is only 15 months old and I don’t have a job. Why on Earth would I let someone else raise her? ¬†What a juxtaposition of thoughts, huh?

Furthermore, Consternation in my marriage is dismaying. We had agreed we would work on the farm. My lack of work there is the problem for both of us really. and my desire not to go to the village is also a problem. But as I wrote above, often I end up staying with the munchkin in the cold village house. unable to help. This means more time with the blessed in-laws who I don’t dislike. It is just exhausting.. more than most in-laws because we don’t speak the same language. Even though I am not technically working, it is stressful and I get so tired. (So, why bother even going to the village?)

Compounding the difficulty of going to (not) work in the village, we don’t return home when the work is done, we STAY for dinner. The food is getting repetitive and not what I want, in spite of my mother in law trying her hardest to please me… It is also what the hubby has been missing for years. HE is in hog heaven, literally as most of the food is PORK!. for me it is just more time stuck in the cold village house. I think to myself, “What did I get myself into. How long can I do this?”

The time in the village is nice (imagine the italics is a sarcasm font). but when we have a day “off” in town. it is a day to work for me. laundry, cleaning, fitting in coffee with friends if I don’t just sit in the apt recuperating from over stimulation. I think it is all getting a bit too much. it is affecting my desire to write sadly. The writing is my life therapy. my link home. and I am slacking.

Am I complaining? or am I just a complaining? lol Maybe I just need a kick in the @$$. Mea culpa.  Adjusting to a new life takes so much time! Damn this Culture shock.

These are my consolation prizes (for my living here and your reading this rant). The vistas on the way to the village are pricele$$.

Now that spring has turned the hills all green and flowery, the entire drive is eye candy.

Lush greens, purples, and reds so vibrant you can taste them.

And fields of poppies that are like a painting providing the calm of opium. ¬†(strictly metaphorically speaking obviously or I wouldn’t have had to write this post!)

Hopefully this will work as an enema to work all the crap out of my brain and get on with my life. Bring on the sunshine!

Happier posts to come soon.
Dobar Dan

Dear Diary March 7, 2013

This is my life right now.

I am feeling at a loss. I feel the need to have a job. The projects are great. I get a sense of accomplishment from them. But, I am not doing something that¬†propels¬†the family forward. ¬†I don’t have a job that brings in income. and any idea of a job or company that I could start¬†is illusive.

I cannot blame this on PMS. Sometimes I have to wait til that has passed to see clearly, but this is as clearly as I get. At times, I put off posting because I am chemically or hormonally imbalanced.

What is the source of this Eeyore day?

Maybe it is because I FINALLY met another American this week, and he has a purpose here beyond his little girl and Serbian wife.

Maybe it is because I feel I made a complete idiot of myself last night while we had some family members. Conversing in English and Serbian is exhausting, confusing, and I make some ridiculous mistakes. Mistakes that make me feel like I am back in Jr High again.

Maybe it is because the Munchkin is Fussy, like all the time. Or because the Muz is going to work in the village. I feel guilty for not joining him like I did before the little one came along.

Obviously, taking care of little M is productive. just not the kind that adds monetary gain… rather the opposite. Helloo diapers! Come on potty training!

AND How is it that she is pooping more and eating less? The input output just doesn’t make sense!

an added bonus to my day…I think she has discovered that whining is a good tool to get attention. ¬†Maybe that is what I am doing now.

Discouragement comes in all sorts of forms. As an expat, they are sometimes devastating. Trying to buy things for friends is a huge source of downheartedness. Here it is so hard to find things that are good quality. but here good quality is  not only illusive but super expensive. And culturally, something I think would be a good present, may seem really silly here.

The plight of stray animals  is a constant source of sadness. Every time I take a walk outside I am dismayed by the homeless animals, skittish from abuse from humans. They scrounge dumpsters for food do their best to avoid becoming the meal of a larger, stronger animal. Listening to the screams of these animals at night while they fight with one another adds weight to my heart.

So many other things add to my sometimes silly, yet all to real woes. Often hiding in the strangest corners just waiting for me to stumble upon them. But then, they pass. Thank God!

I know that Mentally sunny days are just around the corner. They always are. But my down days always seem much lower here in this big strange land.

If I can…I just need to take a break, then give myself a strong kick in the arse. Remind myself how lucky I am to have a good life and family. Then do something fun or productive. ¬†and that is just what I have done today. ¬†I wrote down my feelings then moved onto some projects that needed to be completed.

Enough whining, onto a new food like for myself, Carmelino! For those of you unfamiliar, it is a baby¬†cereal. Millie doesn’t even like it as much as I do! For the first time, I must remind myself it is her breakfast not mine.
Dobar dan

Whatever Wednesday-Craft bag and blog awards

Lucky Thrift Store find

A while back, I believe I posted about this cool find. I planned to fix it up and I HAVE. I am pretty sure I completed my up-cycling of this little bag.

First the bag was washed to try to remove the light stains at the bottom. They remained, but I waited to wash it again after the project was finished.

Black ribbon replaced the tired old pull string.¬†Embellishments in red were added to¬†the ribbon. The red and blackish embroidery that spells out Amelie was covered with all red thread. On top of that, I added bright red beading. I outlined the yellow name box with black Xs. Child style embroidery, because I haven’t got skills for anything more fancy. ¬†The corners were adorned with black beads.

Finally, I let the bag sit for a day with strong stain remover. The bag came out stainless and much more vibrant than it had gone into the wash.

SONY DSCI still have the tent to finish and a few more little girls skirts. I know I can do this for a while. I find it fulfilling. Bu,t I have been thinking lately, I need to find a real job. But there aren’t any here to be had by a foreigner who speaks little¬†Serbian. I am will have to start my own business. I doubt making crafts will make it here in Serbia. But it is a start! I have another crafty thing just finished this week. SONY DSCThis was my first attempt at this Pinterest inspired craft.¬†I will be doing this again soon. I think they make nice gift baskets. I like to put gifts inside of gifts. (when I have the time)

Now, I would like to lightly and politely decline the blog award nominations I have received lately. I have gotten 2 from a close friend I have known for more years than I would like to write. Another one had just come from a blogger I love to read. I have one award already, and I don’t really have an addictive personality. One blog award, one tattoo, and one baby is enough. I write for fun, not for awards. I write in the precious free time that naps my toddler takes allows. Sometimes, I write while she whines at my feet. That is not quality writing time.

Thank you again for the lovely nominations.