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

How would you act if you are forgettable?

I have just finished reading “The Sudden Appearance of Hope” and I have many thoughts about this book. It’s been a while that a book as stirred up so much within. I figured that would be a good way to sort it out by just writing about it.
I don’t want to take away much of the storyline and I hope I’ll not spoiler anything by saying that the main character “Hope” has a condition of being forgotten after stepping out of peoples eyesight. This brings along a lot of difficulties for her to handle life in general but also stirs up thoughts about existence and behavior.

Now right here is the first question that I have had while reading this book. How would I feel when people keep forgetting me. Like for real – forgetting I exist. How complicated would life get. Imagine having dinner in a restaurant never being served. Imagine being at the doctors and no one tending to you.

The other more important questions are though: How would I act if no one remembers me?
How would I act if my actions can not be traced back to me? Of course I would like to think I am a good human. Does that mean I would only act fairly? It must be very tempting to do something and not suffer any consequences. Have an argument and say whatever you really want because the other person will not remember and things go back to the way they were. Or taking the last piece of cake everyone wants to have. Maybe spill someones coffee because that person was mean to me. It is tempting…
Also this would be the perfect cover for any spy. Imagine how many crimes could be solved. How many information gathered without killing. Or any journalist trying to uncover unfairness. One could do a lot of good too. So the question remains: What would my conscience be like? Because it could go the other way too…

I would like to think I will not harm anyone. But how much can a person take if only rejection, confusion and denial is around one? If you are lonely all the time, if there is no human connection. If your own conscience and your own believes are the sole bar for judgement. Will that judgement be fair? Will I favour certain things? Would I slowly resolve into criminal activities just because I could. I really hope I’d act the way I believe I would act. I am glad I will never be tested.

So if you asked me how I liked that book. Honestly I don’t know. It took me 5 weeks to read and had barely 500 pages. This is very long for me. I had a hard time with the writing style not because it wasn’t good – it fitted the book. But there was no flow to it. And then made it extremely difficult for me to stay focused and have (at times) a positive reading experience. However this book contains so many snippets of knowledge, thoughts, ideas and philosophical sparks that I am pretty sure I only scratched the surface. It is one of those books I believe where you’ll find a new angle every time you pick it up. So it’s already on my “read again” list. For now I’ll give it 3,5*.

If you read the book I am really interested what you have been thinking. Leave a comment here (or on Goodreads) I would love to discuss.

Happy reading

Tobia

The Comparison Trap {BlogLiebe vol2}

Do you fall into the comparison trap? I know I do. There are moments I am pretty good at not letting stuff get to me but then I do have my weak ones. The ones where I feel nothing is good enough. The ones where it feels everyone else is doing a much better job – at keeping up the blog writing, in filling up the Instagram feed, in managing life…

Recently I feel more trapped. Just for my last blogpost I spent a lot of time researching, baking, writing, taking pictures and uploading. The response is meagre… Can you relate? Those times I wonder what I do “wrong”. Why is no one interested or why does “the algorithm” banish me. I admit it feels awful. But honestly isn’t the real problem that I need the likes and comments? Isn’t it enough that I had a wonderful experience creating something, tasting some homemade fresh steaming rolls with melting butter? That I was able to spend some time doing photography that I love. That I spend a few moments remembering my honeymoon in Finland?

In those moments I need to remind myself why I actually signed up for blogging and Social Media in the first place. Do you still remember? My list looks like this:

  • connect with friends and like minded people –> like crafters
  • find inspiration. For me that is mainly artists, I love watching how they paint, what ideas they follow, what inspires them. Because that sparks my creative juices.
  • a chance to write in English

Exactly, that is it. The list is short. I didn’t sign up to stalk people. I didn’t sign up to see if my next door neighbor had a fancy living room or a messy kitchen. I don’t care what celebrity xyz is wearing. So why should it bother me now when it is plastered all over my feed because the algorithm tells me I might like it?!

I recently unfollowed a few accounts that made me cringe. I knew a few people and I still wait for them to say something but honestly my mental health is more important than keeping up appearances. I’ve done something similar in 2015 when I deleted my entire blog roll and feed reader. Not a smart move if you want to grow a following. But what does it help me if I have a ton of people around me I don’t feel connected to?

It does get a bit more complicated when you need to follow certain people to keep up with your job. I have not yet figured out how to manage that part. I need to know about certain trends and happenings. Unfortunately I am sometimes just bored or either overwhelmed. Currently I follow a lot Freelancers they all seem to have it figured out much better than I. (At least that is what it seems like.) What to do then?

I’d be interested in your thoughts. If you also like to chat about it feel free to read the other posts Bine collected in February’s thoughts on comparison – her 2019 blog series #blogliebe!

Always Sometimes Never

I know we just had a self-entered post here but this post was inspired by Lecy and I though it was fun to read. So here is my version of it. (Also might be in a hurry to go on some road tripping this was already half done. Thinking efficiently today. Please forgive.)

I always am instantly happy when I see snowflakes.
I always get freaked out when people pop their fingers. The sound just doesn’t sound right.
I always (try) to visit my grandparents grave on “Last Sunday before Advent commemorating the Dead”
I always forgive really quick. If you say you are sorry we are good.
I always love to travel and explore and see new things.

craftaliciousme seeking creative life urban Berlin streetart

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to wander this world as a man.
I sometimes get overwhelmed by too many people.
I sometimes wish I was living in a remote cabin in the countryside.
I sometimes am too curious for my own good. Then people think I am nosy.
I sometimes want to emigrate to a new country. Hot contenders are Canada, U.S.A. anything Scandinavian.

I never smoked a cigarette in my life.
I never want to experience a car accident or anyone close to me have one. Heck make that no car accidents for everyone.
I never feel good asking people for help.
I never finish all the ideas I have tumbling in my head.
I never drink plain milk.

What is something you always do? Sometimes do? Never do?

Happy Weekend,

Tobia