Hasliberg @ Night

Last weekend Mufasa and I went up in to the mountains to hike and hang out with a gang of friends. The village was tiny. It took a bus, two trains and a lift from someone to get up there. This is what you need to know about Hasliberg at night: it’s DARK… and noisy. ‘Gives a whole new meaning to “tie one on.”

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How Sunday Should Look

“It is this broken road with pitfalls and sharp turns and unexpected traverses that has brought me joy and adventure. ”  ― Alice Walker

This is how Sundays should look:

Wake up happy and give thanks. Check.

Delight in good people, fine food, beautiful weather. Check.

Run a little, walk a lot in great big woods. Marvel at the seasons changing. Check.

Laugh out loud at the old dog’s antics. Check.

Have faith. Check.

Only thing better would be you here with us.

Yes, you.

“Oh, she say. God loves all them feelings. That’s some of the best stuff God did. And when you know God loves ’em you enjoys ’em a lot more. You can just relax, go with everything that’s going, and praise God by liking what you like.” – Alice Walker, The Color Purple

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Tuesday Tidbit from Tara Sophia Mohr

A while back I wrote about Blank Slating. Here’s an update, in the form of a Tuesday Tidbit.

One thing I’m learning is I don’t have to be anything I’m not, or go too far out of my way to please anyone. I know this sounds basic, but it’s revolutionary really. I’ve been trying to do things “Right” for so long. It’s exhausting. Some people worry they’re not enough… I’ve been hearing I’m “too much” my whole life… and it’s not true. Too much… who ever heard of such a thing?! And I bought it, silly me. Internalized it deep down and have carried it around and into relationships at home and work. Trying to pipe down, scale back, not stand out too much… don’t let them know I’m too much, unmanageable. Do things “normally” or worse yet someone else’s way. Hooey! For the birds, I tell you. Especially because it’s a game I cannot win. (And you know how I feel about that.) It leaves people thinking exactly that I am too much, unmanageable and yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. Irony! Hmpf.

That whole paradigm’s just not helpful. I have no desire to be manageable, reasonable, or normal. Never aspired to that set of adjectives at all.

A friend wrote to me the other day, in the middle of a message: “You don’t have to be perfect to be loved. (on the contrary)” Holy moly! I’m not too much at all. I just am. You’re not too little or too much, either, you hear me?

In his oft-quoted Stanford commencement speech Steve Jobs said, “Keep searching.” Do what you love and keep searching. For your Right Work, for someone who’s just right for you… because you are already just right the way you are. I mean, really. What’re you gonna do about it now? So onward with the search, Fellow Adventurers!

We all do what we can do. We’re each sloppy sometimes. I’m learning to fly. So are you. This Tuesday Tidbit is brought to you by the lovely and talented Tara Sophia Mohr, who is just right, too. It’s called “You Shaped Hole:”


You-Shaped Hole
Sometimes the world feels inhospitable.
You feel all the ways that you and it don’t fit.
You see what’s missing, how it all could be different.

You feel as if you weren’t meant for the world, or the world wasn’t meant for you.

As if the world is “the way it is” and your discomfort with it a problem.

So you get timid. You get quiet about what you see.

But what if this? What if you are meant
to feel the world is inhospitable, unfriendly, off-track
in just the particular ways that you do?

The world has a you-shaped hole in it.
It is missing what you see.
It lacks what you know.

And so you were called into being.
To see the gap, to feel the pain of it, and to fill it.

Filling it is speaking what is missing.
Filling it is stepping into the center of the crowd, into a clearing, and saying, here, my friends, is the future.
Filling it is being what is missing, becoming it.

You don’t have to do it all, but you do have to speak it.
You have to tell your slice of the truth.
You do have to walk toward it with your choices, with your own being.

Then allies and energies will come to you like fireflies swirling around a light.

The roughness of the world, the off-track-ness, the folly that you see,
these are the most precious gifts you will receive in this lifetime.

They are not here to distance you from the world, but to guide you
into your contribution to it.

The world was made with a you-shaped hole in it.
In that way you are important.
In that way you are here to make the world.
In that way you are called.
– Tara Sophia Mohr

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Fall in CPH

I booked myself two extra days in Copenhagen this trip. Two whole days  – with friends and solo – in sunny, crisp, cool air… wandering streets, shopping, eating good food. It was a rare treat in one of my favorite cities.

There’s a misconception in the U.S. that because the Danish government levies taxes and administers public services it is socialist. That is not what socialist means, and if it were I’d be asking to sign right up.

Working in a multimillion dollar corporate headquarters then shopping on Strøget, I can tell you capitalism is alive & well in Copenhagen. Yes, it’s true that accumulating tremendous capital is challenging with Danish tax rates, but the quality of life is fantastic & if you have 3 or 4 kids the benefits outweigh the costs.

One thing I loved was all the gluten-free options, as tons of Scandinavians are celiacs & I’ve discovered I have a nasty reaction to wheat (not convenient but I feel so much better). I actually bought a big box of cereal & brought it back in my suitcase. I tried 3 groceries before I found these. They’re in the basement of Magasin du Nord.

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Mufasa’s Big Adventures, Part 3001

It’s time for Mufasa to have his own facebook page. He’s on dogbook, but it’s just not enough. People tag me in photos of him… you know like they do with womens’ kids, too… only the inference is somehow not the same. Right now all the little photos that show up on my facebook Wall are of Mufasa. I love him madly, but the implication is that I’m a dog.

I’m single and that simply Will. Not. Do.

He needs his own page.

Plus, he has adventures like you would not believe. We must post his own photos.

It’s amazing how even six years into this expat adventure everyday occurrences are still remarkable enough that I wish I’d brought my camera. NOTE TO SELF: Remember to carry phone or camera everywhere.

Today Mufasa and I walked to the grocery store in Zollikon. It’s a big store, busy, on the town square. I tied him up right in the middle of the action — something I’d NEVER have done in the U.S. because you just don’t do that as often and because he was much younger and wilder and apt to misbehave.

He’s older now, more subdued. Actually, I have to face that he is quite old. It’s so difficult for him to sit I cannot ask him to do that anymore. He had a seizure Saturday night before last and seems fine now, but it was a pretty long one and he’s never had one before. The vet said it may not even be worth all the tests to see what caused it, just watch to see if he has one again, and then we’ll decide what to do. He’s old.

So there he was today: giant old dog, tied up in the middle of the town square in Zollikon, Switzerland. Instead of telling him to sit I had him lie down on the ground facing the grocery (he was pretty far away looking across the square). I peeked over my shoulder as I walked into the store and he was holding his head up so straight and proud, like a baby allowed to sit at the Big Kids’ table for the first time.

I shopped quickly because you never know what kind of trouble a hundred pound dog might get into while you’re not looking. I didn’t hear him, which (unlike with kids) was good.

The scene that greeted me outside in the square made me laugh out loud. There he was, paws straight out in front of him still holding his head up all regally as if he were the most gorgeous dog ever born, smack in the middle of a tight ring of crouching 4-year-olds. They were very close to him, only inches from every part of his body, and had clearly been instructed not to move or touch him. It was something to see – about 10 perfectly still preschoolers in special bright orange reflective outing gear, feet flat on the ground, little rumps resting on all their heels, hands held behind their backs, peering into his beaming face. The dog was smiling as if he’d been crowned Miss America and given a beefsteak bone instead of a tiara.

I told the teacher it was ok, they could pet him, and four or five nearly dove onto him. He didn’t move at all, just laid still and let their little fingers pet his crazy-long, silky fur.

I wonder how many of those sweet little Swiss German kids will tell their parents about him at dinner tonight.

Every day this dog amazes me. He teaches me patience and consistency. I might not have lived this expat adventure the way I have if it were not for him.

Wednesday morning we’re going on the train back out to HundeLand, his new favorite place, and they will surely post more photos of him on facebook. He’ll have his own facebook page by then.

ADDENDUM: When I tried to make him a facebook account it told me he was ineligible, I guess because he’s too young. LOL.

At the Olten train station after his visit to Hundeland he fell asleep on the platform. It’s hard work playing so much!

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Count Me Among The Crazy Ones

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” 
         – Steve Jobs, in this unaired version of the 1997 Apple commercial

I am honored and grateful to know so many of the Crazy Ones: Letha Sandison, Maggie Doyne, Esra’a Al Shafei, Bill Liao, Jeroen Hermkens, Estrella Roseberg, Gail Mooney, Subhash Ghimire. We’d planned to meet up tonight in Amsterdam for the 5th annual European Summit. Schedules and funding and overextension on my part meant that we are not. Tonight I salute you, Crazy Ones. Thank you for all that you do.

Blessing 744

Scenes from a walk Sunday, September 11, 2011. This first shot seems perfect given all the 9/11 coverage:

Do you see the couple gathering chestnuts in this photo? They loved Mufasa & straightened themselves up from their hunched over chestnut gathering positions to pet him.

You know how in the States we’re divided along Red state/Blue state lines? In Switzerland there’s a class or snobbiness/formality division that may be best illustrated by people’s opinion of dogs: there are those who believe, as this couple does, that mixed breeds are best; those who’d never stoop to the mixed breed, and those who’d never have animals around at all because they might get a stray hair on a navy blue Armani suit or in their Porsche Carrera.

This couple reminded me of Italy & Ticino… it’s coming on the time of year for truffles and chestnuts. I need someone to go to the truffle festivals with… who’s in?


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Blank Slate: the Ultimate Adventure

Greetings fellow adventurers! I am in the midst of something perhaps you could sense and I have referred to in bits and pieces. The time has come to just own up and write about it here. It’s been so long since I sat quietly and let you into my world in a meaningful way.

I’m Blank Slating. What does that mean? Literally making a blank slate, a fresh start, a Do-Over. Making way for what’s new and next, as always of course, but also making time for quiet and reflection, for what matters. I’m doing it here with this site by participating in Gwen Bell‘s Align Your Website, revisiting every thought, idea and assumption I have about what XpatAdventures is and will be (including those designers I shared a couple months ago).

I’m also doing it with my life. I’ve just taken on a couple big new work projects and indicated in negotiations that they should run only through the end of 2011. 2012 is a completely blank slate. Everything will be re-evaluated. Everything.

It’s terrifying and liberating all at once.

My usual M.O. would include shoving in every paying gig I can get and volunteering to do more than humanly possible. It’s a recipe for disaster — or illness. I know because I’ve tried. And the truth is, it’s not what makes my heart sing. I’d like to fill 2012 with the things that matter. With making new friends and visiting loved ones around the globe. With singing gigs. With work that both builds on my talents and pays the bills. I am asking myself to slow down and take conscious steps, to pay closer attention to what is right for me instead of creating at a full-out sprint and collapsing in a heap alone at the end.

Here’s the real truth, and I know I’ve shared this years ago here: when I was 24 years old a nephrologist walked into an examining room, told me I should sit down, and explained that I should expect to have 10 good years to live. It was one of the most incredible days, because I realized there was nothing else I’d rather do, nowhere else I’d rather be than exactly where I was right then and there.

That is not the case with my life now and it is time to begin living again like this is the very last decade I’ve got. Funny how easy it is to grow complacent. Our machinery – the thoughts that go on between our ears and shape how our lives look – takes over so quickly. It is time for me to run the show  again, instead of it running me.

So I am Blank Slating, questioning every assumption. Slowing down to check the validity of every agreement, trying to be true to myself.

I can see how Blank Slating will contribute to many areas of my life all at once: my health, relationships with friends & family… if the Universe conspires in my favor Mr. Right may have room to appear once the slate is wiped clean.

And you? What would Blank Slating even a part of your life provide? What would it look like to clear out all the assumptions and activities and put back only what really mattered and worked? Keep the things you love. What would stay ? What would go?

I’ll keep you posted on the project. Thanks for being here.

In the Meantime

I am really, really good at not living for Someday. I believe that Life is Short. I don’t put off travel for Someday, or asking somebody out. I don’t wait for kismet or the stars to align…

I have been living life like it’s In The Meantime, though.

You know… until I get my career figured out or my business built… until I meet my match and settle wherever he is or we go off gallivanting together.

I’ve been filling time, waiting (not so patiently), saying, “Yes!” to what the Universe throws me… waiting for the Main Course, the Feature Presentation, the Big To-Do.

Have you?