- Biscuit, our fluffy ginger daughter. When we first came to Düsseldorf, it was after months of uncertainty because Corey was living and working in both the US and Germany. After over a year, he was finally given an assignment exclusively in Germany and so we were able to move to more permanent accommodation. At this time, we decided that we would like a pet as we are both animal lovers. I jokingly remarked that it would be cool to have an orange cat as Corey is also a redhead. Little did we know that a short time later our wish would be granted … our neighbour Maha had an orange cat for whom she was looking to find a new home. When I first came over to her place, Biscuit climbed all over me as if she knew that I was to be someone significant in her life. I mentioned to Maha that we were looking for a cat and so she said we could take Biscuit. We did and we have never looked back – this fluffy daughter of ours is intelligent and empathic and has brought so much joy into our lives. She knows when we are sick or feeling down and comes to cuddle. We feel truly blessed to count her as our daughter because we really do think of pets as part of our family, but – as with many things in our lives – it has also been serendipity.
- Regaining our joie de vivre (joy for life) – through meeting our soul mates and improving our health. Today, we can dance and sing (and boy, do we love to sing!), cook together, socialise with friends and be so bloody grateful that we have regained something that we once lost due to illness and life’s vicissitudes. When I met Corey, I was despairing of my life in Germany, I was despondent and depressed. Once again, serendipity struck because at the time I had planned to leave Germany forever, but mentioned to my ex-boyfriend’s mother: “Watch me meet the man of my dreams just before I am due to leave!” I have lost count of the number of times I have called things like this and they have come true, once again confirming that I really must trust my bloody instincts more!
- Regaining our health – I believe that all too often we fail to appreciate what we have when we have it and once we have lost it, it’s all too late. This was the case with our health. For years, I had no idea that something was wrong. I ate like crap, I had stopped working out as there seemed no point because my weight just kept ballooning anyway. And when you suddenly get sick, it hits you like a sledgehammer. Both Corey and I persevered and we never stopped reading and researching. We’re in this together because we both have a whacky thyroid, but that also makes it easier to get through it because we are not alone – Doctors such as Dr Schaudig are people we will never forget. She figured out my food intolerances and she referred Corey to a specialist who finally figured out why his liver enzymes were so elevated – he has a genetic anomaly and now they are, after many years of failure, being successfully treated by synthetic bear bile. The link I have included is, I believe, a product that is available in the US. Corey has tried everything – from infusions with Hepa-Merz, to ozone therapy to Silymarin (milk thistle) tablets – nothing worked until the synthetic bear bile, which really shows you that you should never give up because there may still be a solution.
- Having the opportunity to live in several countries and broaden our horizons and friendships by learning about and engaging in a different culture. I studied French and German at the University of Bath and came here at the tender age of 23. Truth be told, I have spent most of my adult years here. I know German inside out because of my job as a translator and I know German culture pretty well too, partly because of living here and partly because of former partners who were German. I wasn’t always happy here, but I consider myself blessed to have had this opportunity to live here. I believe travel and understanding different cultures is vital for understanding different people and I also believe that this stay in Germany has enabled both Corey and I to acquire some very useful skills.
- Friendships – back in school, I was terribly bullied and felt like an outcast. Today, I feel loved and appreciated by the wonderful friends I have met in my life’s journey, whether through our travels or through our illness. Back in school, I wanted to end it all. Scarcely a day went by without fellow pupils making me feel worthless, but at the time I held out because I knew that there must be something better and I had hope that things would change. Now I am glad that I studied hard, even if I was miserably mocked for doing so, because now I have my own freelance business and all my studying has paid off. I also remember what it was like to feel like a nobody and so I try to be more open these days towards people who are different to me and realise that I shouldn’t judge them too quickly.
- Having the ability to write our own book of life and not having it prewritten from birth. Destiny takes so many twists and turns and it is up to you to decide which one to choose. Even though we have not always felt happy in Germany, had we not been here, we would never have met one another – when Corey and I met, I had prepared to pack up, give up and go back to England (indeed, my dad had already transported half of my stuff back there with a truck he had driven from England to Germany). Instead, I stayed here because I realised that I might always wonder what might have been when Corey asked me to stay to give our relationship a chance. Had I returned home, I may never have got the medical treatment I needed (the UK’s NHS is notorious for bad thyroid treatment) and would never have met the man of my dreams – my best friend for life.
- Our family – whilst my family have not always understood me and not always been as supportive as they could have been, our relationship has really improved in recent years and as tactless as my father may be I know that deep down he really loves me. Corey’s parents died a few years ago at the beginning of our relationship, but as a result we have become even closer to Corey’s brother and my sister-in-law. Through marrying Corey, I have gained a brand-new family, as well as another niece and nephew and for that I am incredibly thankful because they love me for who I am and not for whom they think I should be. I love them too!
- The opportunity to experience a new adventure. In less than a month, we are moving to the US (Hoboken, NJ). We will miss our friends here terribly, but I am so excited about experiencing a new culture and new friendships whilst Corey is so very happy to be finally going home. We’ll always love our friends here, will never forget them and they will always be welcome in our home (that includes you, Susanne!)
- Lifelong learning – we never stop learning. Everyday my translation career teaches me new things and when we both read things about illness, they are often helpful and enlightening. We both have a passion for learning and are also thankful that now we are healthier and more capable of absorbing information.
- Appreciation for life – we’ve been through dark times of poor health, loss of loved ones and periods of being hated. Those have taught us to appreciate the good times, to enjoy the times we have with loved ones and to accept ourselves for who we are, as well as to be the best people we can be. They have also inspired us to change things in our lives such as improving our diet, enjoying to cook more, working out regularly and also being more picky about our friends. We have come to realize that we only live once on this earth and so we deserve to surround ourselves with people who do understand us and want to be with us.
wonderful. just wonderful.
Thanks, AJ! I hope you are having fun wherever you are – are you still in San Francisco right now?
hoboken, eh? sounds like an interesting place… actually, it sounds pretty dutch to me. 🙂
hope you had a nice thanksgiving (i know i did – and i still have leftovers in the fridge from the grad student pot-luck!) and i’ll talk to you soon…
We didn’t do much for Thanksgiving this year, but we did go to a fab mediaeval market today with your sister and brother-in-law. I was sooo miss the Christmas markets here! We got some gorgeous stuff. Glad to hear you enjoyed your Thanksgiving! By the way, we did manage to get your the latest Dr Who mag – promise to send it once we are across the Pond:-).