Sisters From Other Misters, Brothers From Other Mothers

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I’m an only child by birth but that’s where my oneness ends.

For over 40 years, I’ve adopted siblings – some my blood relatives, most not – and created a family that is heart-focused, smart, formidable, diverse, and stunning. This tribe, consisting of approximately 60 people, has saved my life, taught me about commitment, proven that love is above all else, and gifted me the opportunity to share in their miracles and challenges.

The whole is the sum of its parts; my world is rich because each of these individuals is gold to me. I burst with pride daily because of their accomplishments. I thank God for them before I sleep and when I wake.

Happy Siblings Day to my sisters from other misters and brothers from other mothers. I love you with every molecule that makes up my bag ‘o bones. Please know that you make a difference, always.

March 10

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“But nobody wants to hear this tale

The plot is clichéd, the jokes are stale

And baby we’ve all heard it all before

Oh, I could get specific but

Nobody needs a catalog

With details of love I can’t sell anymore”

~Aimee Mann, “Invisible Ink”

My mother knew when I was bullshitting; her intensity kept me honest, at least with her. Today’s her birthday. She would’ve turned 66.

Since her passing, I take time on March 10 to run an authenticity evaluation in her honor and for my sanity. It ain’t fancy; it’s an opportunity to check in with brutal honesty. I moved to Sweden as a result of last year’s findings.

This year, I’m in the midst of my unconventional reinvention. I’ve decluttered, unplugged, and let go to a staggering degree. This really ain’t fancy, but starting from scratch never is. However, I’ve never felt more authentic, less mucked down with bullshit. And as I look in the mirror today, I see the resolve that was missing from my eyes; I’m confident my mother’s struggle to raise me right hasn’t been wasted.

I’m creating a new book, not just a new chapter. Pattie would be proud.

Skål!

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February marks four years of play on eatingatme. This fact didn’t register until generic congratulatory messages via LinkedIn forced my hand to pay it some mind.

“Happy anniversary, you hot mess.” This is what I read every time I received a new ping.

Prior to my stint in Sweden, I viewed eatingatme as yet another ill-defined project I created or participated in as an attempt to establish identity and foster self-worth. Translation: it gave me something to say I was up to because I must always be big and impressive and on par with all of the fancy people.

Truthfully, since the heyday of Red Letter Days Events, I’d been anything but big and impressive. eatingatme reflected that; it didn’t take a rocket tinkerer to recognize that the thread of this blog had often been challenging to follow. It’s served primarily as a mirror for my life’s consistent inconsistency and a mixing board for sounding off. eatingatme’s been valuable to me, and the handful of loving readers who’ve stuck with me, but it hasn’t attracted a large attentive audience. Why would it?

I was about to call curtain on the whole thing, but then Åstorp happened. In the cold calm, this hot mess found her identity, renewed strength, and a bit of lagom (Swedes don’t really have groove, unless they’re AnnaKarin). I had something engaging to express.

And now, this, partly unnerving, all exciting: I’m temporarily in San Diego, the place where I slowly lost my game, but this time the player’s a pro. I’m in the midst of an unconventional reinvention and I’m using every ounce of my energy to stay focused on my priorities determined in Sverige. The luxury of quasi anonymity and partial solitude solidified a new perspective on life by making critical distinctions apparent.

  • I’m a writer, regardless of what I do to earn an income, where I live, or how this rates among the cool kids. It’s my most authentic craft. It’s how I breathe.
  • eatingatme is all good, whether plain and simple or big and impressive. It’s where I share my curiosities and escapades. It’s where I wander and wonder. It’s where I’m me.
  • eatingatme is also a place to engage in generous conversation that provides positive impact for others. It’s a place to satiate the soul through communication on whatever is eating at all of us. The ways this can play out are infinite, just like life. The way it can grow in reach is limitless and I’m jazzed about this process.

Today, eatingatme is something I choose to celebrate. For better or worse, richer or poorer, clearly defined or abstractly chaotic, it’s been my online home for four years.

That’s pretty fucking fancy to me.

From A Starbucks In Orange County As I Plan My Week

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I write to give authenticity, kindness, and fairness a fighting chance in my snarky, opinionated, judgmental world.

I keep starring and asking questions because I want to understand as opposed to make cavalier assumptions that don’t promote progress.

I’ve let go of those who show no interest in me and/or don’t have the guts to have a conversation. I don’t travel one-way streets.

I continue to see the value of not overwatering reality in alcohol, food, whatever. The buoyancy that comes from that is temporary and messy.

Get to the ocean as much as possible.

I Love Sverige (Reporting From Sin City And Sun Diego)

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The United States of America. The heat of southern California, the blinding lights of Las Vegas, that particular hustle and bustle found from sea to shining sea…

I’m on the other side of stoic Sweden’s salvation. I’m absorbing what just happened.

I know three months anywhere isn’t a lifetime; I’m clear that immersing myself in another country doesn’t make me special. However, the impact from my experience is HUGE.

I’m proud of myself. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I could say that.

That feeling ignites intellectual curiosity. It creates a craving to fill every moment with progress, expansion, love, good. It’s food for the soul.

Since returning home, I haven’t known what I’ve been up to until I’ve been in the midst of it; I’ve been playing full out in the present, acknowledging my senses and appreciating the gifts I’ve been given. But the dust is settling and I’ve launched an exploration of what’s next, armed with some vital intelligence accumulated since November. My confidence in my ability to build my future is unshakeable; I’m kicking ass.

Sverige resoled my combat boots. And that’s just the beginning of the story…

(And yes, there’ll be a post about Swedish food soon.)

This Satiating Sunday (Blog Edition)

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This Satiating Sunday…

Sweden has saved my soul and my time spent in country is coming to a close for now. I’M TAKING ACTION ON WHAT I’VE LEARNED.

Tomorrow I begin Write Yourself Alive. I identified during the past three months in inspiring Sverige that I need tutelage with my writing; I’m craving mentorship and training. I miss the classroom and the breakthroughs that happen within that environment. Write Yourself Alive is a perfect way for me to launch that process while I’m in geographic transition.

My most important goal for 2016 is give more, take less; this requires financial stability. I’m in the process of a hunt for employment with multi-faceted rewards, location anywhere. Thanks, Sweden, for teaching me that I can create home internally and that a major missing in my world is providing for others generously, ways infinite.

I love again but more to the point, I care again. Like, down deep, ugly-embarrassing-cry-because-I’m-so-moved give-a-shit. I have several friends and family (is there really a difference?) to thank for this breakthrough; the warming of my heart was the most important outcome from my time in chilly Sweden. TO THOSE WHO, STARTING IN APRIL 2015, MADE THIS POSSIBLE, GRACIAS AND BESOS. Y’ALL KNOW WHO YOU ARE; I OWE YOU EVERYTHING. (And, yes, I’m crying while I write this.)

Thank you, Sweden. See you again in late summer.

February, get ready. You’re going to be filled with #agapeerosphilia.

I Love Sverige (Part Two of Many)

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Winter is alive and well in Åstorp. The neighborhood looks like a scene from a children’s mythology book, driving the point home: THIS – Sweden – is the real deal. Nothing fabricated, duplicated, or imitated.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the history of the country. Helsingborg is, and likely will be, the largest city in Sweden that I visit during this stay (I’ll devour Stockholm in August or September when I return). My experience has been in small coastal towns and on vast acres that aren’t overly developed or internationally homogeneous in appearance. I’ve rarely witnessed anything that’s conjured a feeling of familiarity or made a remark about how I’m reminded of x or y in the United States. I feel American in Sweden; it’s a sensation of being a naïve teenager.

Because me, with my flashy 1776 wearin’ history, is just so funny compared to Sweden’s 1397 swagger. That swagger has a poise and calm that I simply don’t possess.

I learned to identify this difference as lagom. (If there’s any word in Swedish you should know in addition to fika, it’s lagom.) Like much of the language, lagom has several definitions but the best sense of the word in English is “balance.” It’s with everything even that Sweden has maintained its internationally recognized culture of gender equality, the truth of which I can vouch on a day-to-day basis. There’s a way of being and communicating among women and men that’s level; it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or woman performing a job or raising a child. Is the task accomplished or the child well cared for? That’s what matters. Just right. Lagom.

As I’ve previously mentioned, some Swedes with whom I’ve broken down this concept have rolled their eyes in annoyance over its existence. There’s irritation that what it’s created is apathy. (The country’s neutrality on the world’s political stage seems to run through the blood of its people too thickly, they say.) Although I get the concern, and appreciate a little Viking fire rearing its head in debate, I admit without apology that it’s been a welcome break to live in a society that avoids drama whenever possible. (Nobel Peace Prize for the win.)

And it’s to this that I attribute my bold declaration from my previous post about Swedish children being better behaved than those in the United States. I’ll modify that statement slightly because since making it, I’ve in fact seen a few kiddo meltdowns while out and about (hey, kids are kids in any country) but seriously…let me give you an example.

The first weekend I was here, AnnaKarin and I were at IKEA, feasting on meatballs, mashed potatoes, and lingonberries in the store’s cafeteria. IKEA: the place that evokes an anxiety attack from just the thought of it.

Not in Sweden.

I sat for an hour among at least a couple hundred kids who were eating lunch with their parents. NO ONE screamed or cried. NO ONE. Children conversed with their parents, parents laughed with their children. I honestly wondered what planet I moved to. And I’ve seen this time and again over my two plus months here.

Children play an equal role to adults in the Swedish societal dynamic. The only titles that are formally used for adults by children are “mama,” “papa,” “grandma,” and “grandpa.” Aunts, uncles, teachers, neighbors, etc. are all addressed by first name from the moment a child can speak. Everyone here is an individual and is treated with the same respect. I mentioned to AnnaKarin and her friend this week that I’m surprised when a parent shares with me that she was just disciplining her child; from body language and tone of voice alone, it sounds as if they’re just discussing that evening’s dinner menu.

Here’s the deal: I don’t have babies and have barely a clue as to what it takes to raise one, let alone many. But I’m struck by what peace, priority, and respect do for relationships, within the home and in society. It’s impressive. It’s made an impact on me.

Lagom + David Bowie rock ‘n roll attitude = perfect pairing for my 40s

 

Up next on I Love Sverige…

What I’m now eating thanks to Sweden. Awesome.