A tiny town called Horseshoe Bend – today 20 years ago

Today marks the day I first set foot to the United States – destination was Boise, Idaho on September 14th 1999. A few more miles and I ended up in a tiny town called Horseshoe Bend. Never heard of it before? So did I. But I did loose my heart in this town and a piece is still there.

craftaliciousme seeking creative life fishing at payette river near horseshoe bend

How it all began

I am not quite sure what initiated my idea to do an exchange year during 11grade. I only remember that I’ve been very driven about it and really needed to do it. My initial plan was to go to Australia. For financial reasons and not adjoining class schedules this was not possible. So the option was either UK or US. UK was not far enough for my taste though.
The whole process was very time consuming, exciting and nerv racking. I had my first interviews to secure a spot on the program, I had to fill out application papers in a language I’d hardly understand and I had to get acquainted with the thought of not seeing friends and family for a year. It all shadowed compared to the excitement of seeing and living in a new country and new family.

Unfortunately they did not find me a family in time and so I had to go back to school here in Germany after summer break. It was aweful. My mind had me already in the US and everyone here in Germany thought I chickened out.

When my acceptance fax (yes, a fax from those paper rolls) came in Friday September 10th I was more than ready. Departure was scheduled 4 days later the 14th. But I was ready to go – my suitcase was packed for days, I’ve said good bye to my grandparents multiple times and I just wanted to get going.

The fax told me my host family, with four kids and a dog was located in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho. I had no clue where that was. I got out my atlas and tried finding the city. No such luck. After a bit of searching I found Idaho – until then I had no clue it was state in the USA. Many people would think how can you go there but I was happy. I always pictured myself living with Jewish cattle rancher in the middle of no-where to get the ultimate experience out of this trip.

The journey

On September 14th early in the morning (flight departure 7.05am) I was standing at the Tegel airport with a huge suitcase, my family in tow and lots of feelings. Saying good bye was hard. And at the same time there was this thrill of anticipation. My travel took me 23 hours with transfer in Frankfurt and San Fransisco. I don’t remember much besides crying all the way to Frankfurt and a very tired layover in San Fransisco. In SF I had entered the US and all my luggage was handed to me. Conveniently I marched through the US resident gate and therefore was quickly done. Now had I had six hours to kill. In Germany it was midnight to 6 am and I was so tired but didn’t want to fall asleep in case someone steals anything. So I bunkered near a security guard and hoped he would keep and eye on me.

My last flight to Boise Idaho (arrival 6.30pm) and I fell asleep immediately. I remember the descent and all I saw where yellow hills and thinking: “I am landing in a desert”. Only minutes to meet my new family.
A local rep from the agency picked me up in an old car with red velvet. It felt huge and more like a bed. We stopped at a parking lot and I was greeted by my host parents and witched cars. The 30 mile drive to Horseshoe Bend felt long and there are not many memories preserved.

What I remember is the landscape. So much different from what I called home. Yellow hills as far as I could see, tumble weed blowing across the long road. Right there and then I lost the first piece of my heart. And then we came down a hill and nestled in the horseshoe curve of the river was my new home – Horseshoe Bend.

craftaliciousme seeking creative life tiny town of horseshoe bend

Living the American Life

Within the next 11 months I lived life to the fullest.
My family had nine kids and were active Mormons. Very different from what I was used to. I loved getting a peak into how they work as family and what is important to them. I am very grateful for them and will ever be to have taken me in. Only a few weeks earlier they moved to the town and when they heard an exchange student need a place they didn’t think twice. The little kids helped me tremendously in learning vocabulary in a playful way. My older siblings challenged me sports, thoughts and games of rummy.

School Life

I found it very interesting to learn in an American Highschool. How differently certain topics are taught, the focus that is put on some things. I loved classes the German educational system might consider. I had economics where I learnt to fill out a tax form, bought stock in a online game with participants all over the US, we bought a car and had to set up contracts. In biology we took water samples to determine why the salmon population wasn’t living in the Payette River anymore. I had computer class and learnt to type and hit certain word per minutes, learnt how to program macros in excel and how to set up ppt presentations. I loved art class were we only drew and painted and I wonder if the school mascot I worked on is still at the gym wall.

School and social activities

And of course I was able to participate in all the activities one only knows from movies. It started out with homecoming dance and flag football. All tose themed days in school to dress up and have fun. I took a ski trip and went to prom. Worked in the concession stand, participated in cake raffles and sold candy bars to raise money. Went to game days and had team dinners and gym sleep overs. But I also ran into a butchered deer, went hunting and fishing myself. Spent many hours outdoor driving four wheelers and hearing rattle snakes and saw a (dead) porcupine and many hyenes. It was a blast.

craftaliciousme seeking creative life sports experience
Going to State

But most of all I loved the sports program. I had signed up for volleyball immediately. Admittedly I was a bit disappointed when I only made junior varsity since I played in Germany and wasn’t all to bad. But standards were much higher. In the beginning that was all I felt like doing but was challenged to try-out for the basketball team. Having never played before and making junior varsity was a huge success. And I loved playing games so much so that I even played summer league. And then came track season. The plan was to not sign up because I hate running longer than 100 meters but (luckily) I lost a bet and so I was on the track team. I tried high jump long and triple jump, ran relays and medleys and went to State in triple jump and the 4×100 relay and medley.
Along the way I learnt what commitment is – training sessions at 5am before classes, I learnt about team spirit, and how to fight through losses and disappointments. And I gained muscles and could it all the muffins, cakes and treats without a thought.

I didn’t end up on a jewish ranch. But I came close of what I dreamed off. I wanted to be in the middle of no-where – check, I wanted to live with a family much different from mine – check, I wanted to experience a different faith – check, and I wanted to live and feel the American way – check. Until this day the year in Idaho is in my top 3 favorite experiences.

Living with memories

20 years later I still have friends in Horseshoe Bend. I write annual Christmas Cards and don’t want to stop anytime soon.
I have been back three times. In 2001 I spend my entire summer break of 6 weeks there and made it out of the country days before 911. In 2008 I took Mr. ♡ to show him around and we had a blast and in 2012 we went back to attend a wedding. I hope another trip is in the books with my best friend. And in summer 2002 I had C. come to visit for 5 weeks.
I connect on Social Media with a few fiends and classmates and even though I am not chatting much I know how they are doing. And I also follow Instagram accounts to see a bit of #idahome.
On my playlist I have Cliffs songs and also it’s not quite fitting my musical taste I love listening and supporting from afar. However my musical taste has been much influenced during my stay. After only hearing country for 11 months in the radio I left the States 2000 with a Dixie Chicks CD and am not put off by it today.
Also I still prefer using my host moms recipe when baking cupcakes and co. and blessedly I don’t have to import all ingredients any more. However I will always find a bag of chocolate chips in my packages I receive.
And every burger I eat is rated against the Mushroom Burger at the Riverside.
I am grateful daily for understanding, writing and speaking English so well now.

So this tiny town of Horseshoe Bend had an impact in my life. Who would have thought when first receiving a 10 meter fax…

I know it’s been a long post but I hope you enjoyed it. Have you been part of an exchange program? How was your experience? Love to hear it.

Happy 14th of September

Tobia

Living with migraines

September is migraine awareness month. When you’ve read along for a while you know that I also suffer from migraines and have to live with it. I am currently adjusting my treatment plan and read up on current research and medications and I figured why not share a bit. Maybe not helps one of you.

  craftaliciousme seeking creative life living with migraines

My personal migraine story

My first migraine attack was summer 2004. I remember quite clearly. I was looking at the water during my summer holiday and everything just glimmered. I thought I had rubbed some sun screen in my eyes. However after coming back to Berlin it didn’t stop. Obviously I hadn’t used sunscreen. And it continued happening every once in a while throughout the next year. Today I know it was my first experience with scintillating aura.

In Summer 2005 I started dating Mr.  and he urged me to go to an eye specialist to have it checked. Unfortunately she was one of the worst doctors I ever had and did not know right from wrong. After I switched eye doctors I was pretty soon transferred to my neurologist and after running every test possible she told me I was having tension headaches with a tendency to migraines but it’s not quite clear (For some reason I never mentioned the aura I experienced). I should come back when it gets worse.

It did get worse and by December 2010 my colleagues had to cover a function I was in charge of because I lay in a hotel bed trying to survive. In January 2011 Mr.  had me submitted to the emergency room on a Sunday night when I was trying to poke the pain behind the eye with a fork. I wasn’t quite aware.

When I was finally diagnosed in 2011 I didn’t really understand what was going on. I’ve had heard of migraines of course and my mom and little sister seemed to suffer too and just started seeing a research facility at the local hospital. But other than that we really had no clue what migraines really are and where they come from.

I started to read up on it and to learn more about this chronic disease. I kept a calendar and tracked all possible things. I also played guinea pig and tried to breath through attacks not using medication to understand what’s going on. Then there were phases were I just ignored it. Later I just started living with migraines. Recently I have spent more time informing myself again. New medication has just been approved, new studies just published and so I am reading up on latest developments. 

Migraine Facts & Figures

Research has moved forward a lot in the last ten years. Here are a few facts I found interesting but also alarming:

  • WHO is listing migraines as 7th most obstructive diseases worldwide. If counting headache in general it’s number 3.
  • Migraine patients are 1.5-2 more prone to heart attacks and strokes.
  • Migraine patients have an increased risk (3-7x) to suffer from depression, anxiety or even to commit suicide.
  • There are 38 gene locuses with 44 variations known to increase the risk for migraines. This gene locuses are responsible for hypersensitivity to sensory input and overstimulation.
  • There are 367 different main diagnoses for migraines. No others neurological disease has so many classifications
  • Woman are 2-3 times more effected than men. Studies show the reason is a faster and more active stimulus processing of the central nerve system.
  • Newest research shows that lack of blood and energy supply may be crucial in developing a migraine attack

One thing I found most interesting and what is somewhat a newer take in the scientific studies is that the brain itself is completely fine. However the brain of migraineurs can very quickly and very effectively differentiate stimuli. Everything too fast, too many, all too sudden, all that suddenly enters the nervous system will lead to a strong activation of the nerve cells with the result that the energy reserves in the nerve cells are exhausted. This always leads to the derailment of the nerve function, it can collapse and a migraine attack could arise.

If such a malfunction of the nerve function occurs, inflammatory substances can be released on the arteries of the meninges. These lead to an increased sensitivity of the meninges. Each pulse causes a throbbing, hammering migraine pain, every movement of the skull hurts. The overall know symptoms of a migraine.

I personally can totally relate to that. It drives me crazy when I hear the same sound for a period of time. I can not watch when someone quickly zapped through tv channels, the flickering lights of certain stores drive me crazy and should be forbidden in my humble opinion. When there are already other triggers in place I most likely will get a migraine.

And I do believe with everything going on today in our lives we are exposed to more and more stimuli in every moment of our life. We do not stand at the bus stop just looking around, watching what is going on and soaking up the sun – no we scroll our phones while listening to podcasts trying to learn something. When we cook dinner we watch Netflix. All this multitasking is just overheating our brains. Our brains just don’t have enough energy to keep up it seems like. So it comes as no surprise that I often crave high calorie food during attacks.

Tool, Tips & Links to understand your migraine

In the last eight years I have been able to understand my body and my migraine more and more. I am still learning something new every day. I have figured out what works for me and what doesn’t (I think this will be a separate blog post). I mainly did so by using apps. Here are a few I can recommend. Most of them are in German as I need to pass the info on to my doctors but let me know if you have something you can recommend and I’ll add it to the list.

  • PainCal – a German app. The one I use and found was having the most options to track various info. Also export to pdf and cvs and cool charts to show your doctor. Support team is great and you can also ask for stuff to program in. Did that and it was done. Highly recommend and it is totally free.
  • Migraine Insight – It was a real eye opener for me when I started tracking the triggers. Not really a pleasant one as I discovered this way that too much chocolate may not be helpful. Also free to use.
  • Migräne-App – it’s the official app from one of the research facilities in Germany. It also has a calendar to track your attacks. However I use it for the screening of when to use your triptans. Sometimes I am not quite sure if it is already time for popping pills and their questionnaire is really helpful. They also have small videos to see how the different scintillating auras look like. Could be very helpful for people not quite sure what is going on or to help people understand how you feel.
  • migraene_superhelden – an interesting Instagram account all about migraines (in German). Bianca also has a Podcast and her book comes out soon.

There are time when I am really glad that I’ve a migraine instead of any other chronic diseases out there. I don’t want to imagine living with diabetes. However then there are days when I wonder why on earth it’s me. If you also are a fellow migraineur I’d love to hear if you have any recommendations or and experience living with migraine. Please share in the comments.

Hope you have a wonderful Sunday evening and migraine free month ahead

Tobia

VIRTUAL COFFEE DATE | August

If you and I had coffee…
I would like to show you a wonderful little spot I am came across in the countryside when visiting at my family’s home. It’s an revived little corner shop where I used to go shopping with my grandma and the added a little coffee shop area. They serve homemade cakes and cookies and coffee in fancy china. It’s really cute. All the older village ladies stop by for a chat. It feels a bit like being a Gilmore Girl. I would get a coffee and one piece of cake – maybe two if we stay long.

If you and I had coffee…
I would like to know what you think of temporary tattoos. I recently came across those while doing content in my day job and I feel the urge to use them as accessories. I know it’s very childish but would it be weird sporting a pastel ice cream cone on your wrist? Or some cute looking alpacas? I mean I already bought a pack. But now I wonder what people would think.

If you and I had coffee…
I’d tell you about how I spent a couple days in the workshop with my dad and crossing off #61 of my 101-in-1000-days-list. I learnt a few things while working together. On the other hand I realized how different our approaches to a project are. I am much more organized and think it through while dad just starts. Both approaches have their advantages – I don’t have to run and get every tool just when I need it and he doesn’t overthink and just tries if it works out.

If you and I had coffee…
I need to tell you about the book series I discovered by Australian writer Helen Scheuerer. It’s the Oremere Chronicles and I’ve read all three books in one week. It’s been a while since something sucked me in so completely.I didn’t even open the door when the postman rang. (Meet me on Goodreads and read the reviews)
Have you read this fantasy epos?

If you and I had coffee…
I’d tell you about my ambition to learn Spanish. I started to use the duolingo app and working my way through the levels. I try to talk a bit of Spanish to Mr. ♡ and it is hilarious. But I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come already and maybe I will be able to say a few sentences to his grandparents next time I visit. The app is really good to learn a new language in my opinion. Did you try to learn a new language after leaving school?

If you and I had coffee…
I want to hear about your favorite summer moment. While I type this is raining outside and fall is sneaking up on us. I like the cooler temperatures and enjoy the sound of raindrops hitting the leaves in the trees. But I haven’t finished my summer bucket list yet. But it seems summer is coming to an end.

This is a fun little get-together organized by Lecy and I am always happy to join in our coffee dates.
Happy Sunday to you

Tobia

One day or day One – 101 goals to tackle in 1001 days

Every time I feel a bit off I start making list. Like for everything. It makes me feel I have things under control. It makes me feel I have a goal. It makes me feel legit. While making lists is fun it should also make us move forward, challenge us, broaden our horizon, experience new things and take us by surprise. And maybe even be a bit uncomfortable.

craftaliciousme seeking creative life 101 in 1000 days bucket list

It took me around 6 weeks to compile my first 101-in-1001-days list. I never imagined it to be so tough. Some goals didn’t make the list as they felt too meaningless, other felt too personal, then there were too lofty ones…

In the end I could sum it up to the following categories:

  • Adult Things (10 goals)
  • Work Things (7 goals)
  • Travel & Explore Things (17 goals)
  • Fun & Random Things (18 goals)
  • Craft & Make Things (18 goals)
  • Personal Things (22 goals)
  • Kind Things (8 goals)

Read the full 101 things in 1001 day – my personal bucket list with goals and how this works. I am really excited to start on my 101 goals. I am sure I will loose momentum on the way. This is why I decided to do a checkup on July 14th 2020 and 2021 and share here on the blog. It’s already a reminder in my calendar.

. I am really excited to start on my 101 goals. I am sure I will loose momentum on the way. This is why I decided to do a checkup on July 14th 2020 and 2021 and share here on the blog. It’s already a reminder in my calendar.

Have you ever done a project like this? Are you planning on doing something like that? I would really like to hear, find a partner in crime, cheer each other on and keep each other accountable.

Happy list making friends

Tobia

VIRTUAL COFFEE DATE | July

Already mid July but finally I made it to our monthly coffee date. I am glad I did and due to my over all feeling I would ask if you would like to join me on my balcony for a cup. I could serve you a coffee or a blend of tea. I’ve a fast collection. If it’s hot I probably have some homemade iced tea in the fridge.

coffee date balcony craftaliciousme seeking creative life

If we’d had coffee…
I’d say I felt a bit off lately. Maybe one reason why I had to postpone our meeting a bit. It’s just not my time of year. Summer always feels depressive – too hot, too loud, too much going on. I know it’s not a popular opinion but I can’t help the feeling. I’ve been holed up in my apartment for 5 days. Tell me, what is your least favorite season?

If we’d had coffee…
I’d wonder if you believe everyone had a vocation in life. I had a talk with a friend of mine and she mentioned that she doesn’t feel that what I do for a living is done with a lot of passion. And that this might be the reason why motivation feels so hard for me. That I spent so much energy motivation myself doing the tasks instead of doing them. So she suggested I should spent more time in finding my vocation. I have spent time in trying to figure it to. I didn’t find it. So I am wondering. Does everyone have this one passion in life? The one thing to share with the world? I really am not sure about it but I know specially our generation is raised to believe it.

If we’d had coffee…
I’d wonder if you find my blog name fitting. Lately I’ve wondered if I should change it. I feel like I want to share more thoughts and ramblings and less creative and DIY stuff. Also no one can spell it. I kinda like it but it is very me focused (with the me in the end) something I never liked. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

If we’d had coffee…
I’d tell you I am planning on getting a helmet to ride my bicycle. Obviously it’s not for fashion purposes but recently there have been more bike related accidents reported here in Berlin. Maybe I am just conscious. Anyhow it’s never a bad idea to invest in your health. So if you have any good ones to recommend I am all ears.

If we’d had coffee…
I could finally tell you that I finished my 101 in 1001 days bucket list. It took me only 6 weeks to compile. I never knew it is so hard to come up with so many intentional goals. So I was wondering if I am too strict on what makes the list or just aimless? And I also wonder if you would join in the fun.

If we’d had coffee…
I’d wonder how your summer is going? Do you enjoy it? Did you travel somewhere or plan on doing so? Did you write yourself a bucket list to cross off?

As we are heading towards noon the sun is coming around the neighbor’s house and soon the balcony will be scorching hot. So we say good bye and plan on meeting up in August. You head out and I plan on hopping over to Lecy to spend a few more minutes visiting.

Happy day to you

Tobia