Time to look back: What was 2021 like in the Marieverse?
Break it down!
(“Can we skip to the good part?”
I did this review chronologically, and the first part of the year was not exactly paradise on earth. So if you would rather not start with the heavy load you can scroll down to “Saddle up and Ride Your Pony!”)
When I published my blog post on March 12, 2021 aka the day I turned 50, I was quite optimistic that turning 50 wasn’t so bad, after all.
Turns out that the months that followed had a good laugh about this assumption.
But first: The big day. The big party. Not. The world-famous party-pooper C. O’Rona prevented the biggest beast of a feast my village had ever seen.
Still my friends had organized a little socially-distanced-pop-up-mini-surprise party in the garden. Yep, it was March, so it did rain and was freezing. But I was super happy that they showed up, and in the end it was a nice birthday, after all.
Yep, all was good. As I had written in my bday post I was at peace with life until…
The Shit Hit the Fan
My home situation: I live in a two-party house above my landlords in a little village with no shops. The view, which is the main reason I live here, is this:
I absolutely adore my flat and super enjoy living here. It is light-flooded, big, and cosy (and super cheap in comparison to any city dwelling in Germany, which would be double the price at half the size).
The view is fantastic, the green relaxes me, and often there are herons and other birds on the paddock. If it was up to me I would want to live here till I take the ship to the West. It is my personal Hobbiton.
I chose this sanctuary because I am hypersensitive, and silence is key (I once got sick because I lived under a flight corridor next to one of Europe’s busiest airports, and ever since, I seek out calm abodes).
Except for the occasional lawn mowing, roof renovating or heavy-duty harvesting it is quite a quiet life here. Or I should say, has been quite a quiet life.
On Good Friday I talked to my landlady about the noisy new neighbors who are a bit like the Nazgûl riding thru the Shire. Little did I know that this was my smallest problem.
She said, “well, my daughter and her friend wanted to move in, and we would then move to the basement”, which has an entrance to the garden.
Oh, I thought, there will be even more noise then, as the landlords are very quiet but the younger folks, not so much. Not exactly great news but not a worst case scenario, either. I could have dealt with that.
Then she continued, “um, I did not dare telling you before, er, my brother [who is the paddock owner] is planning to build 5 houses on the paddock, right behind our house.”
Saying I was gutted is like describing a cub-defending lioness who hasn’t eaten for 3 days as a cute little freshly hatched biddy.
And you are right, there are worse things, like losing dear ones, or falling ill, of course. I am also very aware that these are super luxury problems, as not many people on this planet have the privilege of living in such a lovely place.
But each of us has their own ways of making life bearable, and the flat is my haven, my calming safe space. And thus it felt as if the proverbial rug had been pulled from under my feet by Sauron himself.
I often have fierce migraines where I spend the whole day in bed. A family of power shovels and drills directly in front of the window might not exactly alleviate this.
Upon this news, the eternal inner fight took place.
The Squirrel: How will I ever find peace again? What am I gonna do? The real estate market is down, there are hardly any flats, and those few that are available have grown inaffordable. I do not have the energy to move, anyway. Oh no! Oh no no no no no! My life is over! Mount Doom has erupted!
The Buddha: It is what it is. Accept it and stop adding secondary suffering by depressing over it.
Ok ok, Mista Buddha, I will try my best and trust that the universe has my back (while still hoping for a miracle just to make sure).
And as if that had not been enough yet, enter
My first 4 weeks of full-time nursing
Although I was not really waiting for the other shoe to drop, it came down quite shortly after.
My 81-year old mother, who lives 900 km away, tripped in the kitchen and fell down, breaking her pelvis. She had to go to hospital so I was on the phone with doctors and nurses and her ever so often – due to The Rona, I had no permission to visit her in hospital. So I tried to arrange things remotely. And there is a bulkload of things to arrange for later (physiotherapy, nursing service, rehabilitation, etc).
But all that was not the problem. The problem was her pain. Pain from hell. She had suffered back pain and 2 herniated disks before, an on top now came the broken pelvis. My mum is not the whiny type when in physical pain, but this time she often hurled, as it was so bad. Which made me feel super sad for her, and I was completely helpless.
What happened next? They pumped tons of morphines into her. And then the real nightmare began. Not only did the pain NOT subside. She also became paranoid and demented, thinking people were after her and she was imprisoned in hospital. And again I could not do anything about it.
When they brought her home from hospital I hardly recognized her. What followed was the hardest 4 weeks of my life. My mum lives alone, I have no siblings. So I took care of her around the clock – and it literally was around the clock, as she was up almost all night for fear and panic in her paranoia.
I will not go into detail about those 4 weeks but she did not get better, which was heartbreaking, and I was completely exhausted, heavily sleep-deprived, and still as helpless. The doctor prescribed sleeping medicine for her but that made the hallucinations and paranoia even worse. And also the dementia.
She did not recognize me anymore, had no idea who I was or how I got into her flat. In hindsight it was an eye-opening experience to witness dementia from so close. It is the worst.
Then we had a call with the health authorities because I wanted to get her a nursing service for after my return home. Even though she could not live on her own for even 30 minutes during that time, they denied us the service (in Germany you get classified in 4 need classes but we got “no help needed” – go figure).
I was at a loss and had no idea how this was going to work out. I could not go on like this and care for her 24/7 (besides having my self-employed day job which I need to do to pay my rent).
Something had to change. I told the doctors that we had to get her off the morphines. It was a hard price to pay, as the pain was so bad. But at least, after a few days of tapering them out, the dementia and paranoia subsided. Not completely but it was a start.
Then I arranged a rehabilitation. That was the saving grace. Even though I was not sure until the very last minute if she could do it, as she was so weak, this was what really saved her.
At home I had cooked healthy food for her but she hardly ate. In the rehab clinic they got her on her feet again, both with her eating and her physical condition. Thank God!
Now, 8 months later, her health is completely restored to how she was before her fall (which is close to a miracle to all who have seen her back then).
Also there is no trace left of that nasty morphine-induced dementia. And I am as relieved as I could be that she feels so much better now. PHEW!!!
This was certainly my (and, of course, my mum’s) hardest challenge of 2021 – but it taught me a thing or two.
Firstly, the importance of friends. She had some friends who were there for us, brought us a rollator or helped with other stuff. I could not be more thankful, even if they just went on a walk with her, and I could breathe for 30 minutes.
Secondly – we are much, much, much harder than we think. Throughout this whole situation, even though I had almost no sleep and a lot of physical strain, as I had to heave her out of bed etc., I functioned like a fricking MACHINE. I made lists of all the to-dos and worked them off one-by-one (something ADHD me never gets done at home), helped my mum, got out to fetch things, etc. I felt like a clockwork.
Thirdly – massive kudos to all who are working in nursing and caretaking. I had a lot of respect for those jobs before, and now I have even more. And the experience confirmed that these are the people who should get paid like CEOs and not be lowest on the wage scale. This is outrageous.
So in a way it was an interesting experience to see that in extreme situations, we do function, and we do have powerful resources that we never knew we had.
That said, I now wished to have a bit more peace and quiet for the rest of the year (knowing that my mum was getting better already helped a great deal).
cos yeah, in my constant striving for high quality, I had bought the biggest fan for the shit to hit.
My overall constitution is not the best since meno, and I feel more meh than before.
But let me only focus on one thing here.
I had just booked a flight to the Canaries in September to spend the winter there when a “woman’s irregularity” occurred that demanded surgery in order to check if all was good.
That was going to take place less than a week before my flight. And you are not supposed to lift heavy stuff for a while, so needless to say, the flight got postponed.
Luckily, the surgery went well. Still I felt vulnerable and not really in top shape.
Despite all that I managed to sneak in a few mini adventures, in the form of some premieres:
Saddle up and ride your pony!
For my 50th birthday I got a gift coupon for a riding lesson. Yeeehaw!
And so it was my first time in the saddle (more pics here):
The other premiere was water-bound, as that is my element. I dabble a bit in windsurfing, surfing, bodyboarding, and sailing, so I thought, why not be hipster for once and dabble a bit in wingfoiling?
To subsume the experience:
“Wobbly, fun-ish, but I could have easily done without the 2 weeks of muscle soreness from hell.”
Being a board babe at 50 is apparently not quite the same as 20 years before. But does that stop us? Nooooo!
After one of the lessons I had a flat tyre before driving home, and a looong story evolved out of this, but that will be an extra blogpost.
“So Marie”, I hear you say, “this is a travel blog, what about, um, travel?”
Weeeell, weeeell, weeeelllll.
For two reasons – I wanted to enjoy my flat as long as possible, and who wants to go to lands of smiles when all those smiles are hidden behind masks? – I basically stayed home all year.
As I do live in a very lovely region of northern Germany, I took lots of bike trips in the vicinity. Like this one:
And I made some day/2-day trips with a bit of a wider circle.
One was a
Camping weekend in Denmark
Actually another first-timer for me. You are never too old to go novice camping, right?
And Denmark is just an hour and a half away, so there! Luckily the stunning view from the tent made up for the slapstick that was folding it back (read the whole story including a wet tent contest here).
On another trip I went to
The Netherlands, only in Germany
Yup. There is a city in the north of Germany called Friedrichstadt which was founded by Dutch settlers in 1621. This had to do with religion (if I get around to it I will make a post on this city/trip/city trip).
The gist of it: Some old Dude, er, Duke called Fredrik III wanted to establish a flourishing city but was kinda broke. So he attracted Dutch investors (Mennonites) and in turn gave them religious freedom, as they had been persecuted in their country for their religion.
Not surprisingly, the city’s canals and Dutch style houses make it a tourist attraction (mainly for senior citizens like me, but well).
The really stunning thing about Friedrichstadt is that it became a super duper multi-religious-cultural city, as it was so liberal towards any kind of belief. Which attracted a plethora of religious communities – Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Lutherans, Unitarians, Quakers, Remonstrants, to name but a few.
It was consequently called The City of Tolerance, and I do wish we had more Friedrichstadts in the world.
Lastly, a client meeting had me go to good ol’
the maritime capital of my country. I added a day for photos, even though it was gray and rainy and cold and windy. Hamburg is the German Seattle, so in other words just a normal day.
After all these months as a village hermit, going to a big city felt like landing on another planet. Trendy cafés! Huge organic supermarkets! Hip neighborhoods! For a country bumpkin like me, this was more adventurous than talking recipes with cannibals in the jungle or taking that darn ring into Mordor.
Guitar shops! Modern architecture! Street art! What an input for a damsel from the countryside
So that was my travel year in a nutshell. Mind you, I DID have that flight booked to the Canaries, as mentioned above. And let me elaborate a bit more on this
Travel anxiety, or how I rebooked my flight 3 times, and still canceled it
After summer I badly wanted to take up travel again. Something warm, but not too far away because I did not know how my mum would recover. So I wanted to be within reach (flying in from Spain would be quicker than driving thru all of Germany).
One collateral effect of Covid is perfect for ADHDees like me: The airline granted 3 free rebookings for only 10 Euros extra. A non-decider’s paradise!
So I booked a flight for late August. For some reason, though, I did not feel ready to fly – I wanted to declutter my home, also I was afraid that this was the final goodbye to the paddock as I knew it.
Plus, when I looked at pics from the Canaries while trying to book my stay, they did not seem too enticing to me, contrary to other destinations. Granted, it is warm there, but the landscape did not resonate with me, except for some spots like Teide or the sand dunes.
In truth I guess I was just not willing to leave my place and wanting to savor every day I could with the paddock still intact.
So I rebooked the flight to September. That went down due to my surgery, thus I rebooked a second time to November. Then the client meeting came up, which was before the flight date.
Which led directly to the third rebooking. The final flight was now supposed to be in December, as I wanted at least to escape Xmas.
But now, for some reason, travel anxiety set in. It was so cozy in my flat (the construction thing was still not taking place, and even today there is no exact date yet, although they are eager as a beaver to start building). And this reason. And that excuse.
I am a seasoned traveler but for some reason I still suffer from travel anxiety or travel inertia shortly before each trip.
Plus, the Canaries got really expensive due to Covid. Diamonds and Rolexes were decidedly cheaper than rental cars.
So even though I had made 3 free rebookings, I ended up canceling my flight altogether. Boo!
But I did not want to bash myself for it. Somehow it just did not feel right to travel at this point (although it’s been almost two years without traveling, as I renounced traveling in 2020, too, so as not to contract and spread the virus).
To make up for this sedentary and overall meh year – and now comes the most exciting news for 2021 –, I fulfilled myself a long-lingering wish:
A shiny, sparkly new camera!
This would not have been such a big deal, had I not heavily fallen in love with a rather costly one. But the Canaries would have been more expensive and a shorter-lived experience, so now I am the proud owner of a new Sony.
I did not have time yet to delve into it but tried some shots in a coastal town nearby:
There is more to come, and it is exciiiitiiiiing to have such a beast. Eeeeek!
What else was up this year?
My ADHD had me in its claws big time. As in, not being consistent with this blog, procrastinating as if there was no tomorrow, getting lost in 1001 rabbit holes, becoming more cluttered on the inside and outside. Like, who publishes a year end review when next Xmas is already around the corner? 🙄
On the positive side, while I’ve been cooking with fresh ingredients every day, anyway, I upped my game of DIYing – bread, spreads, bliss balls, sugar free stuff. Sometimes I think that healthy food is the only thing that keeps me sane these days. And maybe it is.
Vegan bliss balls – recipe will follow in another blogpost!
So what about 2022?
First I thought my word for 2022 would be “justkeepallthatcrapawaywillya”. Then I decided it would be “consistency”. Aka the thing that squirrels only really reach when they are medicated. Which I am not planning on being, so instead I will try to create routines and hopefully take them up again when I drop them after 5 days.
I do want to get more traction with this blog, as I want to inspire more peeps to get up, get out, get happy, even if the going gets tough.
Also, my personal goal is to overcome my fear of being visible, and I am afraid this will only work by, well, becoming visible. Dang!
So here’s to a consistent and visible and overall better New Year!
Will 2022 be elephantastic? In sha’Allah!
What are your take-aways from last year, and your plans for 2022? Let me know in the comments!
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