Helau!

(a cry of excitement to greet fellow revelers)

Carnival/Karneval is finally here! Toby has been talking about it ever since we moved to Düsseldorf. According to him, this beloved tradition is what makes the second half of winter bearable. While Karneval officially marks the beginning of Lent (if you do that kind of thing), it also serves to break up the monotonous cold with a long weekend of free-flowing Altbier, dancing, and crazy costumes.

I have been awaiting my first Karneval with a mix of excited anticipation and ever-so-slight apprehension. I am by no stretch of the imagination a beer drinker, at all. But no worries – I don’t usually need a lot of (read: any) alcohol to get me dancing. The costume aspect was slightly stressful; I’ve never been a big fan of events requiring a costume. I don’t think I have enough creativity or willingness to spend money on something so fleetingly useful. I kind of like what I came up with though – 80s workout video star, complete with leotard, leg warmers, and neon. But how to not freeze your butt off while waiting to get into the party? Luckily it ‘warmed’ up to just above freezing again. Scales are tipped – anticipation is greater than apprehension!

Yesterday was our first day. I had to make a grocery store run over lunch to make sure we had enough post-party snack food at home. The streets were already teeming with all sorts of wild characters getting an early start – muscle men, a shark, a kangaroo with his pouch full of bottles of beer, what looked like the Arizona lottery elf, the grandmother from Little Red Riding Hood (inside was a man). I couldn’t help but giggle my way down the street.

In the afternoon (why not get the party started early?) we met friends to head over to one of the parties. It was me, a fully decked out 70s tennis player, and Snow White and some of her Dwarves. Standing in line wasn’t so bad – the vintage tennis case doubled as a mobile bar (I said he was fully decked out). Inside the atmosphere was fabulously festive! Everybody in costume, loud music, flashing lights. Eight hours later (if you’re going to party, you might as well go all in!), we headed home, me a new fan of Karneval.

The countdown to tonight’s party has begun!

For me?!

I got something akin to a virtual hug! I have been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award, something totally unexpected and totally exciting since I’m still very new to the world of blogging. And how very encouraging!

The Liebster Blog Award is bestowed on blogs with less than 200 followers (I definitely qualify on that point) that deserve more attention (how nice that someone thinks that’s the case!). It’s funny because Liebster is a German word meaning dearest, beloved, or favorite, and I probably would never have started this blog if we hadn’t moved to Germany. It’s been great fun though (the move and the blog)!

There are a few rules to accepting the award:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.

I want to thank Carrie Rubin for nominating me for this award. She has a fabulously entertaining blog at The Write Transition about life and her move from “real job” to writer – you should check it out!

2. Link back to them. CHECK

3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog. I always wondered how people got those nifty graphics….

4. Share the love. Reveal your five blog picks to be given the Liebster Blog Award. HERE GOES

Not sure if all of these have less than 200 followers. Also, sorry in advance if this kind of recognition isn’t what you were looking for. Without further ado, here are the blogs I would like to nominate for the Liebster Blog Award:

My Life’s List – a great blog about setting goals and making things happen

in case i’m gone – a very touching and honestly written blog from a mother to her son

thestrugglershandbook – a hilarious blog from a guy who has great stories to tell and tells them well (and he lives in Tucson, Arizona – gotta love that!)

jessseeker – doesn’t quite qualify with respect to the number of followers, but provides a laugh with every post, who doesn’t need that?

At least you’re wearing pants – a friend shares her candid thoughts through this blog on life as a new mom in a new place

5. Let your winners know that they were chosen by leaving a comment on their blog. OFF I GO

Thanks so much to those who read chanceofsun!!!

Foreign-heit

Yesterday morning it was 9 degrees Fahrenheit when we woke up. I know I shouldn’t do this to myself, but for purely informational purposes (ok, and maybe for its shock value) I have Phoenix programmed into my weather app. At the same time it was 56 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix. That’s like a 47-degree difference! Need I say more?

It’s interesting (and damn impressive, in my opinion) that I’m not only surviving these temperatures but that I’m even thriving despite them. As the degrees of Fahrenheit continue to drop on the thermometer, so do my perceived degrees of foreign-heit.

It started happening in little ways. There was the feeling of familiarity with the clerk at the grocery store who sees me nearly every third day (remember, no big shopping trips here) and achieving the status of regular customer at the coffee house. Then all of a sudden people on the street were asking me for directions. I must look like I belong here!

I also recently started the internship corresponding to my personal trainer certification. I spend several hours at the gym each week ‘observing’ other personal trainers as they interact with members and clients. The more I hang out there, the more I’m getting the really nice feeling that I belong somewhere. People know who I am, and there’s interesting dialogue, joking around, and ‘see you Thursday.’

What’s totally crazy, and speaks volumes to my increasing localness, is that I’m still riding my bike despite the frigid temperatures. Sure, I look like a mummy wrapped in my beanie, scarf, and down jacket, but I’d like to take this opportunity to give myself a pat on the back for rising to the occasion. Pat! While I still reserve the right to comment profusely about how unbelievably cold it is here, I certainly am not hiding from it.

I don’t want to give myself too much credit yet, but maybe I’m not so bad at this dealing with change thing after all….

Balance

There are lots of things I miss from Arizona:

  • Calling or texting my sister whenever something random pops into my mind.
  • Intelligent banter and sarcastic humor with my regional water conservation colleagues.
  • Seeing the bunnies and quails in our backyard.
  • Monday night Turbo Kick and Body Pump.
  • Watching basketball with Toby.
  • The smell of dusty creosote.

But, because life is all about balance, there are things in our new life that I am glad to have gained:

  • Riding my bike everywhere.
  • Sending Toby off to work every day with snacks and a smile.
  • Going out for breakfast more often.
  • Running along the Rhine.
  • My tall boots and skinny jeans.
  • Time to cook every day.

My cast

We all have alternate personalities. Not the kind that make psychiatrists nervous, but the kind that color the adventures of our lives. You know what I’m talking about – Super Serious, Dancing Diva, Quiet Nerd, Invincible Superhero…. Yesterday I channeled Super Housewife. While the laundry was running I not only made Mexican for dinner (yummy!), I also made a potato soup, just because. It’s cold outside. Why not? It was so much fun! Loud music, a cutting board, the enticing smell of fresh ingredients, nibbles. The only thing missing was a martini.

Probably the most amazing thing about leaving my routines and my comfort zones has been the opportunity, and often the necessity, to reflect on how I’ve collected my odd cast of personalities, which ones I can lean on, which ones I should coax out of the corner, and which ones are holding me back right now. It’s been everything from frightening (am I really like that?!) and discouraging (why is it so hard to change?), to eye-opening (that explains that.) and inspiring (cool, that will come in handy!).

I like the fact that I’m well-organized and a bit of a nerd. On the other hand, I can give myself analysis paralysis. I mean, seriously, how many lists can one person write? I want to learn to embrace change and to see the positive side of things more often. I think there’d be a lot less stress if I did. I also need to stop always expecting perfection from myself. After all, the biggest discoveries are often made through trial and error. I like that I’m always up for a challenge and that nothing can stop me when I believe in something. What better time to be unstoppable than now?

It’s all about baby steps, and, like with anything new, practice makes perfect. But who needs perfect anyway….