A letter from my past self

The following is the transcription of a letter I found this week.  (Yes, it was in one of the boxes of papers and folders and such.)  I wish I had found it months ago, when I’d first returned from Japan.  However, it still did me loads of good when I read it the other day.  While I missed out on some bits it mentions, I actually did a really good job of fulfilling most of the tasks prescribed in it… a version of them, anyway.

Anyway, it is a letter I wrote to myself when I was still on my college campus, about to leave to study abroad in Germany and Austria.  As per standards of our school’s study abroad program, we all had to write our future selves a letter, which would be mailed to us upon our return from our study abroad programs.  I fully acknowledge that mine is full of grammatical errors, but that was part of why I was going abroad anyway – to improve my language skills.  Also, the whole letter is written in cursive, because I do that.  The third sentence actually caused me to tear up, and the fourth had me crying.  It’s amazing how right I was, and I really didn’t know that I ever would be in the current situation in which I find myself.

……………………

10. April 2012
Dienstag

Hannah Leigh, chèrie,

Ich weiss nicht, was muss ich dir sagen.  Ich kenne dich nicht, weil du so viel gechanged hast.  Welcome home – may it still feel that way to you.  You are forever welcome here, so remember that – you might need it some day.  Okay, here’s what I want you to do:

1) Go record it.  Get on your computer, write up any questions
you would love for others to ask, & then record yourself
answering them.  Then you can do what you want with
it all, but you will have that satisfaction, that completeness,
wholeness of having shared what you needed, desired, wanted
to share.

2) Talk to people.  Make a quick list of what specifically you already
have wanted to share with whom.  Call each person & set up when
& where you will share what you have to share.  Share with them.

3) Talk to Opa.  No matter where he is, go visit him & talk with
him completely in German.

4) Find someone local with whom you can be open, close, & frank, & speak
only German (or completely German) together with ease.

5) Remember that it’s all right not to “know” who you are.  Knowing
makes no difference, anyway, so no good reason to bother with it.
Look yourself in the mirror & see all that has passed, & be open to
all that will come.

6) You are woman & you create the universe with your being.  Your
power is endless, & it is selfless love that feels it.  Love your
mother & your Mother.  Love your self wholly, & your next
step will become available and visible to you.

7) Be at peace.  Even if it was &/or is hard, it is all relative.
Take it for the beneficial experience that it is, & enjoy every
bit you have gotten & will get from it all.

8) Now & every time you see that it just might possibly help,
take a deep breath & close your eyes, letting your thoughts
run around & then calm naturally as you breathe deeply.

I love you & I wish you all the best.  I am here with you always, though I will now be transformed from the time I wrote this letter.  My understanding & my love have only increased & expanded, I promise.  You are wonderful.  You are beautiful.  You are mine.

I love you.  Love me, too.
❤ Peace       Hannah Leigh

 

P.S. Pretend I pressed a flower in here to give you a wholesome smile & kiss.  🙂 oxox

…………………………………………………..

Post-a-day 2018

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Breakdown & Breakthrough: All in a day’s work

Today’s stuff was intense and deep and wonderful.  Rather than explain and describe everything, I turn to selections from the Facebook Messenger conversation I had with my cousin.  As a note that you can understand afterward, I have seven large trash bags crammed in my trunk right now, ready to be donated tomorrow, plus a bag of specifics for my cousin.  I went through two bags of trash – and no, I genuinely do not understand what trash is in the bags for the most part, nor from where it all came, seeing as how I was going through clothing only today…  Anyway, there was hesitation and uncertainty at the start, then paralyzing panic, followed by red-eyed determination, and then finally comfortable relaxation and ease.

At one point, after probably five (of the eventual 8) bags had been moved to the trunk, I opened up my guitar.  I had to cut off the plastic ties that were still around the case from having brought it here on the airplane.  I tuned it up from the extremely loose state in which the strings had been for months, played a song, and then just played around for a few minutes.  All-in-all, it wasn’t even 15 minutes spent with the guitar, but it was blissful, and I was filled with delight by the end of it.  It may seem like little, but having done this specifically speaks volumes about how effective today was – I hadn’t even considered pulling out the guitar until today.  The guitar is enjoyment and relaxation and fun.  Those haven’t really been an option in my life lately.

Anyway, find the selections here, below, and have a wonderful day.  🙂

………………………………………………………..

Hannah Any chance you read my weblog from last night?
I feel stuck
Cousin i have not
Hannah And I’d like your opinion
Cousin I will add that to my list of goals for today
Hannah I guess, essentially, I have planned to do my clothes today, KonMari style
But I feel like I can’t relate to joy sparking feeling
It’s like, because I have so much stuff, it all just stresses me out a little bit
And I feel kind of guilty at having it all in the first place
Maybe not guilt, but something… almost like shame
Cousin I went ahead and read the what you wrote
I hear you. I feel that way every time I move. Which is a lot of times.
Hannah Ha
Cousin I wonder what that ‘shame’ feeling is attached to. Is it a ‘supposed to’?
I’m not ‘supposed to’ have this much stuff?
Hannah Perhaps
I think so
Like that I was wasteful in getting things I don’t love in the first place
Cousin that was a different kind of joy at the time though
Hannah It’s currently just a big sense of stress
No specifics to it
Cousin specifically talking about the clothes right now. it sounds like you’re not being able to relate to confront them on a one on one level because you’re dealing with them as a whole emotionally.
Hannah Like I mentioned, my main issue right now is that I can’t get that spark joy feeling
Yeah, I think so
Cousin And you know there is no benefit to bringing the baggage of what you “should or should not” have done with any of these things.
That baggage is just more clutter
Even if the purchases you made turned out not to bring a usefulness and sustaining joy, there was at least a small amount of freedom and joy in obtaining them when you did. Otherwise you wouldn’t have done it.
That is all past now. You have grown. You have learned. You did good. Gold starts all around.
Now we get the excitement of meeting this new phase in your life. You get to make all these creative choices again with things you already own.
Like editing the draft of a novel.
And you don’t have to worry about making the wrong decision. Because your life si so abundant.
You may never find those plates from college. That sucks.
But. You didn’t know those plates would bring you joy before you found them.
ANd that may happen again with new plates.
Hannah Yeah
M– has always said that ‘If it isn’t a definite YES!, then it’s definitely a no’
[…]
Cousin The ‘definite yes’ thing can be useful, but it can also be a lot of pressure to put on yourself
[…]
Cousin especially because of where you are in your life.
It’s easier to know ‘definite yes’ when you’ve been living with the same stuff in the same place for several years
it’s harder when you’re in flux
there is an episode of gilmore girls actually that deals with that in the last season.
Hannah Ha
Hannah Remember that time I got rid of the multiple black trash bags of clothes?
At the two-Story apartment
Cousin yes
Hannah I did this activity then
It was just the clothes I had at that apartment, but still
It worked great
And I was so happy with it all
Now I finally have everything in one place
I want to do the activity again
I think I’m getting overwhelmed with the fact that there’s just so much sh*t everywhere in my room, in the house, and in my life
And I’m somewhat scared of what life will be when I let go of it all
Slash terrified
Cousin well, I know what you need then
some Tina Turner
Your montage moment is waiting for you whenever you are ready to have it
(and it’s okay not to be ready yet. You can also be scared of it and choose to be a cat instead until you’re ready.)

……………………………………………….

Hannah I just put the second item into the give-away bag, and I’ve started deep crying
It’s like I can see what’s going on for me, but I can’t seem to do anything about it
Because it isn’t just letting go – it is intentionally clearing the space
So much of what I have is out of necessity
That’s why I got a lot of it
Also, not really knowing who I want to be right now makes this tough
My current lifestyle leans toward making me feel useless in life
Cousin That’s why I was serious about my last suggestions. You’ve done your logic homework. This is body primal stuff.
Hannah It’s terrifying to let go of the safety that I’ve known
A lot of my clothes are representative of the safety I’ve had in my life
Mostly financially, but also mentally and all
Cousin Absolutely. This actually reminds me a little bit of when you shaved your head
Hannah Really?
I had no struggle with making that move
Haha
Cousin Conversations we had after the fact I mean
About how you had to find different ways to express your femininity
Hannah About having to deal with people seeing me so differently, and having to examine how I wanted to present myself?
Yeah
Cousin Exactly
Hannah It’s like I’m scared to show a grown-up, feminine me here
In Japan, I was okay with it
Cousin New slate, new rules
Hannah There were multiple occasions where I just stared st myself, ‘cause I envied the woman I was in that moment and outfit and everything
And here, I feel like I’m allowed to be a kid and/or tomboy
Only
Cousin Another identity to contend with
Hannah
Cousin Grl, YES
This is very much an Artist’s Way date
Hannah Haha
[…]

Hannah With quick folding, most of it went into my dresser, and the rest in one laundry basket!
Hannah I also started noticing differences in feelings as I was folding them up. It were as though, now that I have so much less, I could see suddenly all these individual emotions that were difficult to see before. Before, it was a simple ‘good feeling’ versus ‘not good feeling’ with each item. Now that all the ‘not good feeling’ items are out of the picture, I’m seeing what the different subcategories, if you will, of ‘good feeling’ are.

…………………………………………………………………………..

P.S.  Sonntag means Sunday.  It’s German.  😉

Post-a-day 2018

Nerd-ing

I am years into having a smartphone, and my most visited webpages remain almost exactly the same as when I started using one.  They are translation websites and dictionary websites.  Originally, it was wordreference.com and dictionary.com.  Wordreference.com was an easy one, because I had already done the research for my preferred translator for French, Spanish, and German.  But, after some research into different dictionary websites, I found that I preferred merriam-webster.com over dictionary.com.  So, today, my most visited webpages are wordreference.com and merriam-webster.com. (I would add in Google Translate, because of my constant use with Japanese on it for kanji translations and photo translations, but I had to download the app almost immediately, when I moved to Japan, so that I could use it almost constantly to understand things around me.  Therefore, it isn’t a website I’m visiting, but an application I am using.)

I’m just a word and language nerd.  It’s like that day at work, earlier this year, when I spent an hour looking up information on certain punctuation marks – I am a word nerd, and there is ample evidence to support the claim.

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Post-a-day 2017

Time for Multilingual Christmas Stuff

My task for today (from my tea advent calendar) was to listen to a Christmas song in every language I speak.  Seeing as how it was likely to be difficult to find a song other than “Jingle Bells” (which is definitely not one of my favorites on repeat) in a bunch of different languages, and taking into account that it could get quite boring, listening to the same song over and over again, I chose to interpret the assignment as being any Christmas song for any of the languages (i.e. different songs for each language, as opposed to the same one in each language).  These are the songs I picked.

 

German:  Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
(It was originally written in German.  I love the version by John Denver and the Muppets on their joint Christmas album.)

French: Minuit Chrétiens
(One of my favorite Christmas songs, and it was originally in French.  This isn’t my favorite version, but it’s still nice.)

Japanese: All I Want for Christmas is You Japanese cover 
(Clearly not originally Japanese, but I like it anyway, so I listened to it.  I loved the ridiculous Christmas music I would hear in the shops while living in Japan, but I can’t remember any of it.  This one does justice to some of the better covers I heard, though.)  😀

English: Mary, did you know? 
I first remember hearing this song at Mass at my aunt’s Church in a small town in Texas. A boy around my age sang the song during Mass, I believe during the meditation time following Communion (when everyone goes up to the front and takes some bread and wine).  I thought it was magical, hearing this twangy-accented high schooler sing his heart out with these words and notes.  This version reminds me of a grown-up version of that first one I remember hearing.

Italian: Tu Scendi Dalle Stele
(Originally written in Italian.  I love this guy.)

Spanish: Los Peces en el Rio
(I’d never heard this one, but I love it.  It is originally in Spanish, and also quite popular as a Christmas song in Spanish-speaking cultures.)*

 

Seeing as I don’t speak any others fluently or conversationally, I didn’t do them – this took some time and consideration as it was!  But it was totally good.  Just made me want to listen to loads more in each of the languages, really.  Also, I totally forgot about English and Spanish songs until after I thought I was already finished with this task.  Whoops.  😛

 

*If you want some awesome, quality, unoffensive music in Spanish, check out this song.  Be prepared to be a little shocked when you see the artists performing, and how strongly it contrasts to the sound of the music.  It rocks.  Try listening to it without seeing the video for a minute or two.  Enjoy!

Post-a-day 2017

St. Lucia’s Day

In third grade, my friend and classmate Kristin and I did a project together around Christmastime.  We were to learn a bit about how other countries celebrated Christmas, and do a sort of write-up, and then a little presentation for the class.  I imagine that everyone had different countries, and that we weren’t the only ones presenting something, but I really don’t remember.

Our specific project, as my mother and I recall, was over St. Lucia’s Day, a holiday seen as signaling the arrival of Christmastide.  It is a Catholic and Lutheran holiday, mostly celebrated in Italy and Scandinavia.  All I remember from what we researched was that the girls in a family traditionally wore white dresses, made rolls of bread early in the morning, and sang songs at home, while wearing this sort of crown-wreath on their heads, with candles on it.  We dressed up one of my little wooden dolls to look the part.  She had a green pipe cleaner head-wreath, with rolled up tissue candles, and a tissue dress.

Since we had talked about how the girls in a family would sing traditional Christmas songs, we were asked if we could sing one of the songs.  We confessed, however, that we didn’t actually know any of the particular ones sung for the holiday.  Someone asked us just to sing an English Christmas carol, instead, and we somehow ended up with “Silent Night”.  So, Kristin and I sang “Silent Night” to the class together.  The irony of singing a German song for a mostly-Scandinavian holiday struck me only in recent years.  😛

Post-a-day 2017

My real voice

In college, I spent a summer studying in Germany.  It was a language school setup, filled with foreigners, but in such a small town that everyone knew that we were studying German, and so everyone always spoke to us all in German.  I had already studied abroad a few times before this adventure, and I had learned firsthand about what works and what doesn’t work, in terms of language immersion.  I was dedicated to learning German, and so I made sure that I only spoke in German with others, even if they spoke to me in English.  This made friendships hard among the people in my program’s group, since they all used English together; I came across a bit snobby, but I was just really committed to learning German.

I made friends with other foreigners rather easily, though, and especially ones in higher levels of German, which was even better for me.  My German was improving immensely.  But this led to a unique situation one day.

One day, near the end of either my time at the school or my friend Paul’s time there (he’s British), I found myself faced with a desperate Paul, actually begging me to speak English.  Why?! was my repeated question to his pleas.

“Because I want to hear what you sound like!”

I don’t know if he was pleased or not by how I sound in English, but I spoke a little for him.  And it was way weird, using English with him, despite the fact that I’d heard him speak English loads, and that it’s our common native language.  I had just never used it with him.

And then this brought up a unique and interesting sentiment.  He wanted to hear me, and that meant speaking English.  I can guess that my native tongue was the one in which Paul believed my identity to lie.  I know that it felt like I was setting aside a sort of mask when I switched to English with him.  I even felt a little called-out… as though I had been hiding somehow, and it had been behind German.  The real me (I) lay in English, in the English part of me.

Yet, years later, here I am, missing the parts of me that belong to these different languages in which I have lived.  A part of me, true me (I), exists only on German, and others in French, in Spanish, and in Japanese. So much so that the real me (I) is this whole combination of languages – I feel a huge emptiness and feel not myself when I am using only English in my daily life.  I listen to Spanish-speaking radio when I’m in Houston, mostly because I don’t get to use Spanish often enough.  I read every night in French, and trade off an English book for a German one at times for my evening reading, too.  I regularly pull out a Spanish book to read, or my German audiobooks.  And I have noticed that I have been searching for a tolerably satisfying way to have Japanese in my near-daily life, too.  (For now, it has just been the occasional music, and a perpetual repeat of a certain song being stuck in my head.)  When I don’t have them all, it is as though a part of me is missing, and suddenly getting to speak with someone in them, almost reminds me of that mask I was setting aside in Germany with Paul… like I am again setting aside some mask I have been wearing.

Perhaps it is now a mask of monolingualism, pretending that I only speak English, while I long for the world to talk to me in several languages, all the time.

Anyway… I’m exhausted.  And I miss Paul.  He was studying opera, and was a really great guy.  I wonder if he’s been really successful with opera these past several years.  Maybe I can go see him perform one day.  That would be awesome.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

Blessings through a headache

My head hurts.  I think I need food, water, And sleep.

As I thought about just now how my head hurts, I realized that I can express that fact/sentiment in five languages, and without even having to think about it.

My head hurts. (Duh)

Me duele en la cabeza.

J’ai mal à la tête. 

Ich habe Kopfschmerzen.

あたまがいたい。

Rad, huh?  My life is super blessed.  Thank you, God.  Now, I’ll have a bit more water, and then sleep!
Post-a-day 2017