This East Coast visit recently to celebrate my father's 80th birthday was a beautiful gift of Quality Time together and an amazing family reunion. The topic of my - and my twin brother's - childhood came up for what felt like the 400th time. My parents and siblings were patient but there was a part of me that was thinking, God, can't we come up with something new to talk about? Still, my sister's partner didn't know the details, and so conversation went to this ...
My parents made the most spectacular mistake of their career as parents, they moved me and my twin to America a week before first grade started and we knew no English. I never really thought much about this, and I don't have memories of us crying every morning as we went to school that first year - that came up this time. Of course we did! I have a few tiny memories of school kids being mean and anti-German ... I've always approached it as factual, we just learned English at school by a 5th grader in a hall way with some visual typewriter to help us with vocabulary ... We made it work. By Christmas that year we figured out that German language was OUT and we spoke only English to our German speaking mother who was also learning English, and German and English speaking father.
It took me about 12 hours to realize why we were looking at this for the zillionth time and this time as a whole family, although sadly my twin brother & his wife were not at that dinner table ....
I realized that this has been my big Pattern all these years, but this trip I finally figured out how to flip it into a positive. The story had up until then been a negative, a mistake that should not have happened. The pattern I recreated in my life is that I always have to make things incredibly hard for myself, and - this is the negative - I'm always the outsider who doesn't fit in. The filter I bring to life is I don't fit in. You are an American and we are German. The two don't mix.
The flipped positive! What I'm realizing because of this trip is that this is the best gift my parents ever gave me was moving us to the US, dumping us into an American school and saying, we know you can learn English fast enough. Because out of this experience I have built a life and career on following the challenges ... I take risks where other people don't, and it's partly because it's that familiar to me. You want me to learn English in a month? Sure! You want me to design you a full Brand and other original art without any formal education, SURE! Of course getting paid a boat load of money to do this helps with motivation, but that first move to the States made me - not fearless - but I learned how to use fear to my advantage. If I'm a tiny bit afraid, I know I'm growing and going in the right direction.
It's amazing, and I love this now.
I listen to parents wanting to protect their children from life mistakes ... but again and again it's the living life with the mistakes that makes us grow and learn and BE .... (I'm not talking about abuse of any kind).
Another layer: when we lived in Germany my parents taped all of our voices - verbal letters with everything from Church events to singing to just describing the day to day and of course having their adorable twins speak. These tapes they sent to our American grandparents in PA. Later in my life my friend P.B. explained that those reel to reel tapes start to disintegrate after about 30 years and he just happened to have the equipment to be able to make CD's out of them. That year he created a set of six of those tapes so that I could give them to my whole family for Christmas. I remember listening to my six year old self when I was in my 30's and being amazed at how confident I was ... And how that confidence has just been tested and tested over and over again in my life. So the interesting question is who are we genetically, before life circumstances hit us? I had an incredibly solid first six years of my life ...
It's not a sad thing, or I'm now eternally broken, it's a living thing. It's my particular Spiritual Journey. Each of us has a version, how do we follow our intuitions to learn more ... How do we create openings for ourselves to breathe more? For me it had to do with moving back to the bay area ... Crisp air is a constant source of why my heart opens every day ... OMG I LOVE THIS WEATHER is my BASE.
The other amazing piece that happened is that recently my mother typed up a letter from her mother, my Grossmutti, and for months now I have not known what I want to do with it. I knew it was more than the cute-factor. I know now ... In the scheme of realizing just how deep my spiritual journey runs - connecting the big move from Germany to the States, learning a new language sink or swim style, hearing my six year old Voice have only confidence .... And now this, a little description of me from Grossmutti when I was 14.
Anne ist ein wirklich goldiger Kerl, sehr liebevoll u. bereit für alles. Sie läßt sich zureden oder auch Mut machen für etwas Unbekanntes.
It's not the affirmation of being a cute kid, it's that I had the courage to do something unfamiliar ... And somehow my twin had impatience when things didn't instantly work out. Hmmm. It's not a competition, buddy, it's for me the understanding how and why I function and what we can do to edit our minds to get a different outcome.
I love these photos because they are connectors from then to me now:
It's me being curious about a gift given to me (I still love gifts and it IS one of the five love languages).
Me with my Great grandmother Oma who lived through World Wars.
Me with my Grandmother Grossmutti who lived through WWI, talk about transitions and flipping things mentally.
My tiny skeptical look about having a new baby sister.
I still love red bags, was that my first? :)
I still love amazing print dresses.
Me with my twin brother, my first and amazing teammate in life ...
And the grumpy photo of me is still totally me, only now I have a partner who values the embracing all of life's emotions, so life is not about just being cute anymore, thank goodness.
Mein liebes H, mein lieber B!
Nun will ich doch mal auf eine frühe Morgenstunde nutzen für einen Brief an euch. Fast 3 Wochen sind die Kinder nun schon hier. Es ist nichts Fremdes zwischen uns. Sie gehören einfach zu uns. Ich meine dies zeigt am besten, daß wir sie lieben. Es bedrückt mich nur, daß C nicht schreibt aber ihr kennt ihn ja. Er lebt ja viel intensiver seinen Interessen nach u. ist traurig und ungeduldiger, wenn nicht alles gleichzeitig geht. Anne ist ein wirklich goldiger Kerl, sehr liebevoll u. bereit für alles. Sie läßt sich zureden oder auch Mut machen für etwas Unbekanntes. Nun soll morgen die Reise nach Dänemark losgehen. Da sagt sie: Wie ich mich freue, wenn wir zu Hause einen Tag wegfahren u. jetzt für eine Woche u. dann noch mit “Haus spielen”! Sie hat mir rührend geholfen beim “Befüllen” des Wohnwagens. Heute noch Einkäufe von Gas und Vorräten. Ausserdem Reisebüro für unsere Herbstvorhaben. Wie mag es euch gehen? Anne sagte: sehr viel Arbeit u. war sehr glücklich über ihre Zensuren ...
Wir hatten noch eine sehr kalte Anfangswoche, jetzt eine knuffig heiße Woche. Chris war bei A u. genoß jeden Tag zum Baden fahren da S. Schwimmunterricht hatte.
Er ist dort mit ihm bestens (underlined) gegangen. K. rief eines abends an u. sagte:
Ich habe ja wohl einen lieben Ferienjungen. Er spielte mit beiden Jungen sehr nett u. lernte dann noch den Chef-Sohn kennen mit dem er sich bestens verstanden hat. Sie haben viele gleiche Interessen u. werden sich vielleicht schreiben. Das freute mich richtig für Chris. Ich glaube dies wird eine schönste Ferienwoche bleiben. Vati hat auch viel Spass an den Kindern, weil sie mit ihm reden u. zuhören können. So freuen wir uns auf die kommende Zeit.
Seid in Liebe gegrüßt, umarmt u. geküßt, auch S. u. E eingeschlossen. Die Bilder sind herrlich.
Ich habe große Sehnsucht nach Euch durch die Kinder noch verstärkt.