What I learned in Europe

For those of you who don’t know, Clint and I recently returned from Berlin, Germany, where we spent ten days doing our thing. I love Europe for a number of reasons, the primary one being “IT’S EUROPE!” We chose Berlin because it is home to over 60 museums, four of which contain displays directly relating to my husband’s interests in the ancient Roman world (~100 B.C. to C.E. 400) and his new-found hobby in photography.

To some people’s shock and dismay, we did not spend our week and a half running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Nope. We hit up the museums we wanted to see and got some MAJOR rest and relaxation in the remaining six days.

It was fabulous.

What did I learn in Europe? Lots of things. Let’s begin:

  1. ‘Flexibility is key’ or ‘don’t kill yourself trying to make things happen‘. My older brother is stationed in Germany right now and we had plans to meet up. A fluke of events that began with an odd overuse injury in my leg and ended with exorbitant train ticket prices resulted in no meet up. Contrary to popular belief, Germany is NOT the size of Benton County or even West Tennessee. For us to see each other would be like driving to the beach. Now we could have forced the meet up anyway, but I have a feeling it would have been all anxiety and counting pennies for both parties and NOT the joyful reunion of siblings. Sometimes we need to be open to alterations in plans and nudges from a source higher than ourselves. The moral of the story? Life throws curve balls. Don’t kill yourself trying to get everything done and make everyone happy. Life will go on. The world will keep spinning. You and everyone else WILL survive. As such, I’ll get to see my brother next month anyway at my little brother’s wedding. Problem solved.
  2. Biking is a feasible form of transportation. I actually already knew this, but I love, love, love the bike lanes on all the major streets in Berlin. They are complete with bike stop lights and everything! Yes, you may be shocked to hear this, but you can travel on bike. They aren’t just for exercise. This not only is friendly to the ozone, but saves you $$$ on that expensive oil.
  3. Conversation is valued over efficiency. At every restaurant we frequented, we were waited on once, brought our food, and not bothered again until we got their attention and asked for the check. To an American this may seem rude since we are used to being waited on hand and foot throughout our dining experience for refills, more bread, dessert, etc. When you finally slow down long enough to breathe the air, however, you look around and see couples and tables deep in conversation for hours, well into the night. It’s almost like they realize there’s more important things than the number of tables turned in one evening.
  4. Paleo is still possible. In case you were wondering, Paleo is more than possible in Europe. I will admit I ate some cheese and gelato, but otherwise stayed completely gluten-free. See below for some photos of my delicous and scrumptious meals in Berlin!
  5. I am still madly in love with my husband! ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t think either one of us realized how busy we’ve gotten over the past year where we substitute ‘uh huhs’ and ‘nods’ for communication. And we can say that we do spend a lot of time together. A quantity of time does not necessarily equal quality time, however. Almost like we’d forgotten that we don’t yet know everything about each other, that there is still lots of facets of each other that we have yet to discover. I don’t know if it was Europe or simply getting away and not thinking about home that allowed us to remember why we were originally attracted to each other and grow our relationship, but it was refreshing and renewing!
  6. There is food and then there is an idea of food. In America, we value sales and looks over quality and taste. We value the idea of a food. I am here to testify that the food was simply of better quality in Berlin. Each bite delighted my taste buds and inextricably bound me to its goodness. I have to go back…
  7. And finally, rest and relaxation are of the utmost importance. People talk about R&R often, but seldom do people ‘do’ R&R. I had planned to get started on a grant while in Europe and work on my blog and get ahead…. finally. After our few days at the museums, I decided NOT to think about my blog, my business, work at school, or the grant I want to apply for. And it was okay. Everything was still here for me when I returned. It had not changed, but I had. I now have a fresh perspective and am refreshed and renewed.

I know this list is an aside from our normal topics of nutrition and wellness, but I wanted to share a bit of my experience with you because there is a much bigger world out there than your house, your backyard, and your town. We often get bogged down and overwhelmed by the never ending flow of day-to-day responsibilities and the ever-growing pile of work.

How can my experience help you? With the following steps:

  1. Schedule time for R&R, and I mean a chunk. No phones, no Facebook, no computers, no kids, no TV, no movies. Just you and a good book or some alone time in nature. Let go of your day-to-day worries and think and simply enjoy the day. Re-kindle your childhood imagination and find those lost dreams you had of becoming an artist, opening an orphanage, or serving more selflessly. Those things are still possible, but you need to be ready for them and give them time to grow!… which cannot happen if you’re stressed to the max all the time.
  2. Get to know your spouse… again. Like above, no phones, no Facebook, no computers, no kids, no TV, no movies. Just you and your spouse. I assure you that life is not meant to be miserable or simply lived on the surface. Marriage is meant to be an exhilarating experience that yes, has it’s hardships, but overall is a place of support, love and joy. A place where you can let your hair down and be your quirky self. So turn off those electronic devices, get out of town if you must and take a walk, play a game, have some romantic time ;), start a hobby together, or participate in some recreational activity. Quality time is WELL worth the effort!
  3. Buy real food or grow your own. What we purchase at the supermarket that is mass produced is NOT food. Instead, shop at your local farmer’s market OR find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group to get your produce from. Avalon Acres is a GREAT place to start for west and middle Tennessee!
  4. Remain flexible. We cannot control everything. To reduce worry and anxiety, stay flexible and roll with the punches. You will survive! It won’t be as bad as you think OR, if it is your worst nightmare… you’ll still survive and realize it didn’t kill you.

4 Comments

  • Pam Yarbro

    Reply Reply June 8, 2011

    My mouth is watering! The food is not only tasty-looking, but so colorful! Great Advice on slowing down! Love this article!

    • gerilyn

      Reply Reply June 9, 2011

      Yes! The food was DELICIOUS! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Pat

    Reply Reply June 9, 2011

    I agree with Pam…I love this article! WOW to the food you enjoyed! Thanks much for reminding us what is truly important in this life.

    • gerilyn

      Reply Reply June 9, 2011

      Thanks Pat!

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