100 Things To Do Before I Die :: My Bucket List :: Part Two

Make sure to check Part One of my bucket list and come back for Part Three.

Travel (34)

  1. Visit South America (completed)
  2. Visit Asia (Thailand :: completed)
  3. Visit Africa (completed)
  4. Visit Australia (completed)
  5. Visit New England
  6. Visit Florida
  7. Go to a luau in Hawaii
  8. Visit Canada
  9. Drive cross-country
  10. Take the ferry to Sausalito
  11. Stay at a B&B/hotel with ocean view (Thailand :: completed)
  12. Go camping with Griffin and Emma
  13. Visit Neuschwanstein (Germany)
  14. Fly First Class (completed)
  15. Ride a train in California
  16. Eat a croissant in Paris
  17. Sail (half)around the world (High Seas High School project :: completed)
  18. Go on a cruise (completed 2007)
  19. Cross the Equator in a ship and get equator-baptized (completed)
  20. Sleep in a rain forest (Equador :: completed)
  21. Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef
  22. Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand (completed)
  23. Visit the Oracle Of Delphi, Greece (completed)
  24. Gamble in Las Vegas
  25. Attend a wedding in a foreign country (America doesn’t count, it’s my home)
  26. Have a romantic getaway at an exotic location
  27. See the Statue of Liberty (completed)
  28. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
  29. See a performance at the Sydney Opera House (completed)
  30. See the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace
  31. Hear Big Ben ring (in real life)
  32. See the Grand Canyon
  33. Visit New Orleans
  34. Go on a girls-only getaway

Sports (7)

  1. Learn to snowboard (completed)
  2. Learn to surf
  3. Sail the bay (completed)
  4. Go white water rafting (completed)
  5. Play beach volleyball with professional players (completed)
  6. Shoot a gun at a shooting range
  7. Go horse riding on a beach

What fun things are on your bucket list?

100 Things To Do Before I Die :: My Bucket List :: Part 1

Empty Bucket at Punta Del Este

Photo: David Wilbanks

I’ve always wanted to put it on paper. So here it is, part one of my bucket list (part 2 and 3 to follow). Or in other words ’100 Things To Do Before I Die’. Better get on it since I’m not getting any younger…

Family & Home (11)

  1. Marry my soul mate (completed)
  2. Become a parent (completed)
  3. Adopt a child
  4. Live in a house with a porch and drink homemade lemonade on said porch
  5. Rescue a dog (completed)
  6. Renew wedding vows
  7. Make love in places you aren’t supposed to
  8. Own a house
  9. Own a convertible
  10. Let my husband pick an outfit at a store and wear it for a special occasion
  11. Take my child on a vacation without Papa

Food (5)

  1. Eat at every fast food chain in the U.S.A.
  2. Eat a clambake
  3. Learn to make the perfect Mojito
  4. Eat lobster at a fancy restaurant
  5. Eat something unusual (completed)

Entertainment (9)

  1. Go to Disneyland (completed)
  2. Go on a tasting tour at a microbrewery
  3. See Cirque Du Soleil
  4. Go to a drive-in movie theater
  5. Attend an NFL football game
  6. Attend an MLB baseball game
  7. Go to the World Cup
  8. Go to the Oktoberfest (completed)
  9. Drive on a race track
What’s on your bucket list? Do you have a lifetime bucket list? Or one per year? Or just one for a season? Check out our family bucket list for the summer.

Happy San Franniversary!

Six years ago today, I left my home, my family and friends and got on a plane to America. With me I had two bags and a work visa. I didn’t have a place to live, had no idea what a Social Security Number is and didn’t know anyone besides a few co-workers I had met once during a short business trip.

Now, I am married, have a super baby and am applying for my U.S. citizenship.

Thank you, Lord, for calling me to this country. It is so obvious that I belong here and I love celebrating my San Franniversary every year.

Top 15 Reasons Why I Love America :: My Life Abroad

Here is my Top 15 of things I love about America…not to be taken too seriously and in no particular order.

  1. Complimentary toilet seat covers in (nearly) every public restroom.
  2. Movies coming to theaters on their actual release date.
  3. People picking up their dog poop. (I’m not naming a country I recently visited where it seems to be common to just walk away without removing your dog’s stinky business.)
  4. Drive-thru’s.
  5. Chilled tab water served as soon as you sit down in a restaurant (slices of lemon, orange or cucumber optional).
  6. Free refills.
  7. Bottled water: I love being able to get a bottle of water at nearly every single store in the entire United States.
  8. 24/7 opening hours: In Germany, I could easily starve on a Sunday due to the lack of food in my fridge and no open grocery store to save me.
  9. Bagging groceries at the store: “Need any help out, Ma’m?” “Sure, why not.”
  10. The position of traffic lights: You can see them way better from your low-riding sports car if they are positioned across the street/intersection from where you stopped.
  11. Right turn at a red light (unless stated otherwise).
  12. Acceptance of debit cards anywhere for any amount: Ok, the (ab)use of credit cards has brought America into this financial mess but if you’re responsible and stay within your financial means, the accepted use of plastic as payment is quite nice.
  13. The One-Dollar bill: Coins are just clutter in your wallet.
  14. Advanced use and offers available on the internet: Forget privacy issues, I want free shipping, free returns and easy check out processes.
  15. In God We Trust – the official motto of the United States of America.

Now tell me, what are your favorite things about America?

 

Home Is Where The Heart Is :: My Life Abroad

(This post is dedicated to my Mama, my sister Meike, my Oma and my faithful friends Philipp, Mobbel, Anabel, Diana, Wiebke & Wiebke and Antje.)

The Germans have a wonderful word to describe “home” or the “feeling of home”. It’s called “Heimat”.

Heimat is a German word that has no simple English translation. It is often expressed with terms such as home or homeland, but these English counterparts fail to encapsulate the true meaning of the word.

“Heimat” is a German concept. People are bound to their ‘heimat’ by their birth, their childhood, their language and their earliest experiences.
Source: Wikipedia


My recent trip ‘back home’ to Germany brought up this question again: What is my ‘Heimat’? Is it my new home – the United States of America? Or my home country – Germany?

After over 5 years of living abroad, miles away from family, friends and childhood memories, I can finally say that my ‘Heimat’ is…America.

During our last trip to Germany, I actually got home sick. As in, I missed America. In all its glory and imperfection. That was a first. Don’t get me wrong, I still love and dearly miss my family and the few remaining, faithful friends I have in my home country but I can now say that my new ‘Heimat’ is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

"What do we leave behind?" from the exhibition at the Emigration Museum Hamburg.

‘Heimat’ is not only a place, ‘Heimat’ is simply the place where one feels home. But what creates that feeling? Even after all these years living in a foreign country, I have these moments where I get really excited about my immigrant life. I call them my ‘America moments’. I stand still for a second and remind myself of my journey and all those who supported it. I look around and think about how my life has changed. I smile. I have come so far (literally) and have accomplished so much (with the help of many).

So I guess the feeling of ‘achievement’ plays a big role. And then there’s the change in me which plays an even bigger role. In Germany, I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, where I should go. I was depressed, angry and felt empty. In England where I lived for almost two years, I remained restless and searching for something better. In America, I found Jesus and therefore answers to all those questions. I’ve become a new person and left the old Wiebke behind – at least the bad stuff, the junk, the baggage. That void inside of me was finally filled.

Thesaurus offers another word for ‘achievement’ – arrival.

Maybe that’s what makes me love America so much? Maybe it’s not only about friends, family or things? Maybe it’s more about the change in me and the peace I’ve found? Maybe I have finally arrived?

But then, if ‘Heimat’ is all about feelings, emotions, peace, then this all makes perfect sense. Doesn’t it?

Thank You For Being A Friend :: Relationships

Friends. Girlfriends. Sisters. Nothing in life goes without them.

Every woman needs her Golden Girls.

As I was chatting with one of my dear girlfriends this morning, I felt inspired to write a post about the amazing women who travel alongside me on this journey called life and why true friendships are so important.

When I left my friends (and family) to move to the other end of the world, I was scared and afraid that I would never have ‘best friends’ again. I was expecting to find a couple of acquaintances and possibly a few slightly superficial, friendly connections. Little did I know that God had taken His project to provide a home for me in San Francisco very seriously: I wasn’t just blessed with a job, means to enjoy this amazing city, a lovely apartment and delicious food. I also found the best friends in the world!

From Wikipedia:

Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:

  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and empathy
  • Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one’s counterpart
  • Mutual understanding and compassion
  • Trust in one another (able to express feelings – including in relation to the other’s actions – without the fear of being judged); able to go to each other for emotional support
  • Positive reciprocity – a relationship is based on equal give and take between the two parties.

or as the apostle Paul writes in his letters:

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~Corinthians 13:4-6, New King James’ Version

Speaking of Paul: When I first came to visit this church Paul (my husband, not the apostle) was going to, I was swept off my feet by the warm welcome I received. At first it felt a bit overwhelming and I was skeptical that these girls were truly interested in me and my story. But the more I let them into my life, the more they shared about theirs. And I was quick to realize that I’ve met some of the most genuine, generous and loving women whose desire is to protect and encourage you to grow, develop, thrive, be successful and have loads of fun and ridiculous-ness.

Of course, there are struggles, arguments, maybe even fights, certainly a few white lies here and there (I’m not gonna lie!), and a healthy amount of gossip. I get mad at them, they get mad at me, we all get disappointed, feel rejected, sometimes hurt. Hey, we are human. And women. Not saints.

Women often guard themselves too much because they are wounded and afraid to open up and get hurt again. There’s jealousy, envy, the fear of rejection, competition and mostly, it’s because we nurture lies in our minds about what others think about us or what we think they think about us (did I lose you here?). But none of those thoughts have anything to do with the truth. And the truth is that your girlfriends love you for who you are. Period.

ENVY is a symptom of lack of appreciation of our own uniqueness and self worth. Each of us has something to give that no one else has. ~Elizabeth O’Connor

By the way, a true friend would tell you that a hair do like this looks hideous.

Whatever the struggle, whatever the cause for disagreement (sounds nicer than argument, doesn’t it?), I can say this with the utmost sincerity, my girlfriends have their hearts in the right place and forgiveness, love and respect are not just empty words but values for them.

Are we hot or what?

While most of my leading ladies are part of my church family, I met other wonderful, honest, trustworthy, fun, inspiring, caring and smart women on my way. I believe that we need many ‘best’ friends, not just one: there are those who are best at encouraging, some are best at listening, some are best at giving spiritual advice, some better at giving mommy advice, there are friends who are the best at inspiring you. See, what I mean?

Image by Carina Olsen

I’ve recently stumbled across a blog post about Cotton Candy friends – a term associated with the Facebook generation where it’s ‘totally awesome’ to have, like, um, a thousand friends or so. Well, we know that the social network friend is not helping us flourish yet alone heal when we get hurt. We may know what they had for breakfast, what their favorite local bar is, and where they went on their honeymoon. But, we miss knowing what they are afraid of, why they worry at night, and if they are really happy right now.

Now, go ahead and call that girlfriend of yours, make time to meet up for a cup of coffee, put gift shopping aside if it leaves you less time to spend with friends, or write a quick note to one of your besties letting her know how much you love having her in your life. Add a genuine compliment and tell her what you love about her, and you may have just made a huge difference in somebody’s life. Who knows?!

Freude Schöner Götterfunken

So proud of my husband as he practices his German:

Thanks to his co-workers Yuko and Kevin at Dogster.com for supporting that our baby girl will be raised tri-lingual: German, English and Paul’s German.

And here’s a version where Germans can actually understand the lyrics:

Happy San Franniversary!

(This post is dedicated to my Mama who always supports my crazy dreams, believes in me and loves me for who I am.)

Five years ago, I arrived in San Francisco with nothing more than two large suitcases and no place to live. Little did I know that God had an intense plan for me.

My suitcase was packed with dreams, expectations and hope. I can’t say what exactly I was hoping for but I had this dream of a new life in California. Someone said ‘California is not a state. It’s a state of mind.’. This pretty much sums up my idea of the Golden State. I was hopelessly in love with the romantic idea of emigrating and finding whatever I was searching for in America.

I moved across the pond – 5514.31 miles (8874.18 kilometers) away from home – leaving friends and family behind to embark on a new adventure that turned out to be so much bigger than I could ever imagine.

I was definitely searching for something. I just couldn’t define what it was?! For some reason I thought that moving further away from home and all things familiar to me, would allow me start over. Was I secretly running away from myself? My past is (was) paved with regrets. Failed relationships, fall outs with close friends, trouble with the family, and the worst: an empty heart.

I guess a life thousands of miles away from home, would appear to others as brave, romantic and inspiring. Though all it was for me was an escape. There is a beautiful word in German that describes this feeling perfectly – ‘Fernweh‘.

So here I was in San Francisco. Meanwhile, I had found an adorable studio in San Francisco’s Marina neighborhood, I had settled into my new job and started making friends. Nonetheless I struggled with this emptiness I just couldn’t explain. I was truly lost, slightly depressed and looking for purpose in all the wrong places.

That’s when God started calling me. Believe it or not, He sent an angel to come and rescue me. And since God has a sense of humor, He introduced me to my angel at a bar.

Fast forward.

I have now been married to my angel for over three years, found my salvation and God-given purpose, raised a rescue puppy, started my own business, moved into a house and am now expecting a baby.

I am indeed living my dream.

Photos taken at the Emigration Museum in Hamburg, Germany.