Under 25 and married – and I love being a wife!

You know the situation, if you haven’t been in it yourself, you might have witnessed it, either in real life or on TV… a young person is in the throws of telling their colleague/acquaintance about their plans for the weekend involving their spouse and all of a sudden there is this outraged request for clarification: “You’re married?”

Mr & MrsI hate it when that happens; since I am never really sure what they are implying. Am I not attractive enough in your eyes for anyone to want me? Do I appear too incompetent to sign the contract? Or were you maybe eyeing me up as a potential mate yourself and are now displeased?

Common sense and past experiences dictate that this baffled question will immediately followed by some line that runs along the line of “Aren’t you a little young to be married?

To which I usually eloquently reply: No.

Legally speaking, most western countries allow marriage at the age of 18 (we are still working on legalizing this magical affair for all people, but we’re getting there)… If you’re over the age of 18 (in most countries) you are old enough to: drive a car, buy and drink hard liquor, have a job/be responsible for your own taxes and in some (insane) places even to buy a weapon of some sort. And guess what? You’re also old enough to marry… so no, I am not too young but you can check my ID if it pleases you.

Do you think it stops there? You did? Oh you’re cute… no no, this is then followed with an indignant string of interrogations about whether my feelings are true, and how do I know I love him and how can I be sure I did the right thing at such a young age. Let’s put this to bed once and for all, shall we?Titanic Walk

First of all, there is no “ideal” age for marriage. Some marriages begin at 18 and last to 22, others at 18 and last to 80. Some marriages begin at 35 and only last to 40, some at 35 and go on to 90… There is no ideal age. Next!

How do I know I am ready? How did you know you were ready??

We are happy. We cook together and for one another, we share the adult responsibilities so that we can enjoy being dorky childish goofballs together, quicker. We watch movies together (even the ones we don’t really like, but we know it will make the other happy). I know what soup he needs when he’s sick. He knows what comfort food to make me when I’ve had a shitty day… he anthropomorphizes my cuddly animals and gives them personalities which is very handy if we have one of our very rare arguments… who can say no to Maple bear? Maple

He makes me laugh every day. Makes me feel loved and appreciated. He sends me emails at work, just to check in and see how I am doing, and he has dinner ready for me if he gets home before I do. We go on adventures together. We’ve been backpacking, and family visiting and staying in luxury castles … together we have been to: Jasper, Vancouver, London, several towns in Germany, Rome, Salzburg, Dublin, Lough Eske Castle, the Causeway Coastal Route and Switzerland. We are now planning our trips to Edinburgh, the west coast of Ireland and France.

twelthcolusseumSt. Patricks

He always has my back and I always have his. We poke fun at each other as only best friends can , play video games together, as well as backgammon, chess and pool… we go for walks and bike rides and we just laze on the sofa in each others company.

I love how he warms me up before we go to sleep (I get awfully cold) and watching him in the last moments of his dreams in the morning, just before we get up. I always wake up to kisses.

IMG_0728Even the mundane things have become special since we’ve been married… I need to clean the kitchen anyway, but now I know that he’ll love seeing the kitchen all sparkly (so that he can mess it up again while cooking dinner) and that makes me smile. He does so much for me all the time and we take great care of each other.

So no, I don’t think that I am too young to be married at all. I think I am incredibly lucky to have found my partner, the one that makes me laugh and smile, and feel loved and protected, this early in life… so that (hopefully) we get to enjoy each others company for decades to come.

And if that still isn’t good enough for you… well… you know that little expression that starts with “fu” and ends in “off”? 😉

portrush

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Thanks so much for reading and take care. xoxox

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I will never be the hero…

I wrote this quite a while ago, but then second guessed myself and shoved it in a file… I found it today, and now I do want to share it – because what I wrote is true. It may not be true for everyone, but it’s true for me. 

I am selfish and I am a coward…

People don’t usually admit that sort of thing, and I don’t think I usually would either, but recent world events, large and small have gotten me thinking and I have come to the very sad conclusion that there are things in this world that terrify me and I have had to sheepishly admit that no, I will never be one of the heroes.

Why? Because I am selfish: afraid of consequences and repercussions that I couldn’t handle in my own personal little bubble. And because I am a coward: terrified of the larger things in this world, that could, if I were ever on their radar, snatch away the things I love.

Having lived in several different countries in my life already, I am only too very aware of the bureaucratic red tape that immigrants have to deal with, to live in any country but their own and this is one of my biggest boundaries.

Since I can remember, I have had a very strong sense of justice, I knew what I considered right and what I considered wrong, and I was raised never to believe the first story I heard or read, but to research, question and think critically. This has left me in a very frightful position. Anyone who has been paying the slightest attention recently, knows that we all live in a very volatile world. Questions pile upon questions, with political and natural disasters, wars, acts of terrorism, gang crimes and much much more. I have opinions and feelings on a lot of these things – many of them affect me so deeply that I sometimes just sob uncontrollably or sit in stunned silence, because I feel like there is absolutely nothing I can do. Nothing, to help the innocent people in this world. Nothing to stand up to the overgrown bullies, gangsters and evil doers. Knowing that I will never be a hero.

Then, for just a moment, I feel as though I have discovered my superpower after all: I own a computer, have a stable internet connection and a passion for sharing ideas! This way I can at least share my views with other people, and maybe convince those who weren’t doing so before, to start thinking critically as well.

But then, just as I have finished writing my self righteous and long winded Facebook post, or blog entry, with nothing standing between me saving even just my little bubble of the world but the ominous ENTER key – I remember.

I remember that I am terrified.

Stone cold terrified of publicly expressing a political opinion that might land me on someone’s “list” just because I shared an opinion in the heat of the moment. My husband and I don’t know yet, where we want to live. We might choose to go back to Canada one day; I have a dream of working in a little Café in Paris (how cliché, I know) and he wants to be a part of a video game company; we might try teaching English in Japan for a while or adventure in Australia. But these things could be so easily taken away from us, just because I’ve written something that someone out there, one of the faces you never see but decide your very future, didn’t like.

Everyone knows that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs and the like all get shared with the relevant agencies if they bring up enough “red flags” and anyone who believes otherwise is very naive… and I am terrified that by trying to express a thought, and emotion – or even worse – rally a group of people to sign a petition, take up paper signs in protest or to boycott something for one reason or another, I could be labelled an “enemy”.

Some people would wear that badge with pride. Saying that they will happily sacrifice their freedom to travel and move, proudly live with a  limit on where they may work or go into retirement, for “the greater good”.

But I am selfish. I am very young, and if I am one of lucky ones, I hope to live for a very long time yet – hopefully together with my husband and my parents and my siblings for as long as we are all here. I am a coward too, because I know that someone somewhere might see what I have written and throw a road block in my way… and I don’t even dare to imagine what would happen if I insulted the wrong groups. We know now, that people can and have died for something as “simple” as a comic.

I am not willing to be on anyones radar. I am terrified of having my life or my life’s choices taken from me, in any capacity due to something I have said, and so, I will satisfy myself with being an “armchair activist”. Debating only about relatively safe topics and sharing recipes and travel reviews. Knowing full well, that I will most likely never make a difference, even if I could.

I want to be strong, I want to be brave, I want to make a difference – I feel so ashamed of myself for not being able to have the backbone to fight for change, stand up to the systems. And the only thing I can say is that I am so so sorry… but in the end, I can’t help that I am selfish and that I am scared.

Chances are I won’t even publish this, because I don’t know who might read it… besides, what difference would it make?

As always, thanks for reading, and take care. xoxo

Stop the silence…

When someone we care about dies, we enter the 7 stages of grief. There is disbelief & denial, then comes the bargaining, followed by guilt; then anger. Usually this is followed by a depression before we finally reach acceptance and maybe even hope for the future. When someone we care about dies, we go through these phases together, as a community, as a family. We talk about what happened and usually by the time we’ve all passed through the “guilt” phase, we use the anger and sadness to tackle what ever enemy took our loved one from us, in the hope that we can prevent it from happening to anyone else. Catching the criminal, fighting to find the cure, petitioning to fully ban driving under the influence… we can do something in their name, in their honour and their memory. Something to make the world the type of place that we should have made it for them, before we lost them. It doesn’t take away the pain, but it gives us something to focus on and helps to bring closure.

But what if the cause of death wasn’t a physical illness, a drunk driver or a cruel villain… what if the cause of death was suicide?

The effects are devastating. For the one who has passed it seemed like a way out of what ever was causing them to suffer; but most of the time that something is a something that will forever haunt those left behind. It’s a gaping black hole of pain. Forever asking themselves “why” and whether they should have known; whether they could have done anything.

For those left behind after suicide, it’s hard to find that final stage… acceptance and hope – for there is nowhere to point the anger – nothing to blame and sometimes they turn that blame on themselves. And to make matters worse, this is one form of death that we don’t face as a community, one that we don’t talk about. It’s a death that we face in misery and fear and loneliness. Why is this? Because as a society we have deemed suicide taboo. Even in the 21st century suicide is treated as shameful and something that isn’t to be discussed.

We teach our children how to safely cross a street, how to not ride with strangers and not to play with matches – but we don’t teach them how to protect themselves from their own feelings, if ever they turn dark. As a society we still haven’t figured this out and it is a tragedy.

I am writing this today, because there has been another such tragedy. There was a young man, whom I met briefly last year, who was very dear to a family member of mine. He had a charming smile and a firm handshake. The type of young man you would love to get to know better.

I am writing this today because I will never get that chance to know him better. No one ever will.

This wonderful young man, full of potential and life has now become a statistic. He has become one of the three and a half thousand Canadians who take their own lives every year and no one, but those who directly knew him and those who loved him, will know. The media doesn’t cover suicides. Most of the time there won’t even be an obituary in the paper.

It is still not proper to talk about it and I am sick of it. Why won’t anyone but his loved ones know about his life and his death? Why won’t his community get to know that another beautiful young soul fell victim to one of the most common killers in our modern society? I don’t know why, but I think it is time that we break the silence.

There are plenty of amazing organizations out there trying to spread awareness and offer help in methods of prevention and bereavement counselling – but it isn’t enough. As a society we can not sit idly by as an epidemic of suicide fuelled by depression, sadness, bullying and hatred kills our friends and loved ones.

Suicide has become the 10th most common cause of death in the developed world.

It is widely known that suicide doesn’t just happen out of no where. It’s not a freak accident- it’s a disease. A disease that feeds on fear, sadness, depression, loneliness and so much more and we need to start talking about it. We need to stop equating these emotions with weakness and scaring those suffering from them away from those who could help them. We need to start listening. We need to start talking. We need to break the silence.

It felt like the whole world held its breath and cried when we discovered that one of the funniest and warmest people to ever come out of Hollywood, the beloved late Robin Williams, took his own life. We were horrified and hurt and everyone wondered how this could have happened. I know that because I was one of them. In the aftermath of his passing, we talked about it – for a while. For just a moment the disease that took him, the epidemic that is spreading was talked about and examined but it didn’t last very long. And it was an exception; he was famous and widely loved. Normally the world tries to sweep suicides under the rug and to pretend like it’s not happening.

This time no one is going to report on this wonderful young Canadian man who is no longer among us. There will be no headlines, no breaking news coverage and no investigation. He just slipped away.

But I want everyone that I can reach to know that it happened. I want to speak about it and I don’t want him to be forgotten. I will not allow him to be just a statistic.

I want you to know that it’s still happening and most of all I want you to know that we can fight against it. We can raise awareness. We can educate ourselves and really listen when our loved ones and neighbours need us to.

Personally, I am going to be reaching out to my own local suicide prevention centre, just to ask if there is anything I can do. I don’t know if they accept donations, or if they need volunteers – but I am going to see what I can do.

If you, or you suspect that someone you know, may have been thinking about suicide please turn to your family and friends, or for confidential assistance, please reach out to any of the following organizations, who offer professional help and advice.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA)

Supportline (UK)

If you, or someone you know, has been bereaved by a suicide, I am truly and deeply sorry for your loss. If I could, I would hug you tight and tell you that it’s not your fault and I would ask you to please get it touch with any of the above mentioned organizations that offer professional help and advice and to not hide your feelings. Turn to your family and friends. Reach out to a support group if you need to.

Let’s stand together and let’s stop the silence.

What a month…

I can not believe that we are already in March!!

I have drastically fallen behind on the things I want to blog about, it feels like my professional life is doing its very best to kill me and my social life has taken a drastic downturn for it. *sigh*

Yet, with so many things going on in the world, that feels so menial and unimportant somehow… I digress.. There have been several things on my mind lately and I am hoping to really find the time this month to tackle those problems a little more.

I would love to continue working on my “Around the world in 26 breakfasts” series, I am itching to do more research on “Irish Castle Accommodations”, but there have also been other more worldly topics that have been occupying my mind, such as how we live in the most technologically advanced age humanity has ever seen with the whole worlds knowledge accessible from tiny devices in our pockets, and yet it seems that we have never been more happy to be blissfully ignorant of what’s happening in the world around us. There are issues in the world (and at each of our doorsteps) that need addressing, some of them on a political-world-issues sort of scale and others of a more personal nature, such as local discrimination, homelessness and the like.

These things have been keeping me up at night, and I sincerely hope that I will get to post about them more soon… right here of course.

Are there any particular topics that you would like to see addressed? If so, please let me know.

Thanks for reading (this odd mix of thoughts) and take care. xoxo

Gender Neutrality

heshe

If I hear or read this neurotic, propaganda-fueled insanity as a criticism of parents who cater to their children’s wishes, one more time, I will become a very very unpleasant person.

Let’s make this clear: Boys are boys. Girls are girls. Some grow up to be one, the other or both. They can like all kinds of things. Boys can like race cars and sparkly dresses. Girls can like Barbie and Karate. This is normal. This is fine. And anyone who would force their children into a stereotype such as “Tommy you can’t have a Barbie, that’s for girls” or “Jenny, you can’t have a Firetruck, that’s for boys.” is clinging to a seriously damaging and antiquated set of questionable morals.

HOWEVER – if a girl wants to be a girl and want to play with a pink sparkly Barbie and get her nails painted – THAT’S OKAY and if a boy wants the new Nerf Gun so that he can take down his buddies in the mud while they play cops and robbers – THAT’S OKAY TOO!!

The quarrel of the fanatical “gender neutrality” activists who are insisting, that every child needs to be offered a gender neutral option lest it scar them for life need to just shut it.

They claim they are avoiding gender confusion, and allowing for the true inner nature of the child to blossom, but if you tell little Timmy that wanting a Nerf gun is bad because he’s never tried to play with Barbie before, and little Jenny that she should be offended when someone buys her pink sparkly dresses because it’s a sign of the patriarchy, even though all she wants is to be a princess for Halloween – YOU are the one causing damage and confusion. YOU are the hater who is hurting their development. And that makes YOU the bad guy. Let kids be kids, no matter what they’re toy/hobby preferences.

GIVE IT A REST!

So many things…

There are so many things going on at this time of year, that I am not even really sure where to put all these thoughts, feelings and information…

So, in order to clear out my head a little bit, so that I might focus a little better on my work, I would like to share a few updates and thoughts with you, and then get more thorough with it, later this evening. 🙂

1) Derek and I are proud to announce that we have gotten a beautiful new apartment in the heart of Belfast. We can not wait to finally be able to walk to a) work, b) the cinema, c) some pubs, d) restaurants, e) shopping and to finally have the opportunity to socialize with our colleagues after work and start making some new friends.

2) With that in mind, I can not wait to no longer be dependent on the most abusive Public Transport System I have ever come across in my life – Translink NI Railway. (→ more on that one later… maybe after Christmas)

3) I have now gathered information on Christmas Traditions from Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Italy, France, Poland, Australia, Canada and Japan with the help of great friends from around the world, and I think that is plenty to be getting on with for my desired “Christmas around the World” blog post; I am excited to get that underway.

4) Political Correctness around Christmas. Wow. What a pain in the ass; long story short there are a lot of wanna-be pseudo-social “activists” out there, who think that changing “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” and “Christmas Market” to “Winter Market” makes it less offensive, somehow… What Horseshit. The only thing that is offensive is that some jacked-up-on-their-own-uselessness political Assholes with something “to prove”, choose to divide cultures even further rather than joining them. I’m not even a Christian and I’m offended! It’s Christmas, same as it’s Chanukka, Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice.. there is also: Ukrainian Christmas, Orthodox Christmas, Chinese New Year, Easter, Canada Day, Independence Day, Oktoberfest, Thanksgiving (→ more on that one later…), Halloween and many more… we don’t change any of those…. Back off of Christmas and the Christmas Tree…. FFS.

5) I also have a lot of festive hairstyles and recipes I would like to share, and am terrified that I am not going to have the time! hahaha

Finally… I feel better now. lol

Well, I am hoping that I can get all of these varying topics covered relatively soon. Does anyone have any ideas for topics to add? Or an opinion on any of those I have mentioned?

Thanks for reading. Take care. xoxo

Speedo vs. Swim Trunks… Big Deal?

Now, there are some very interesting sights to behold at a public swimming pool or beach, and I am very sure that everyone has experienced either some sort of bathing-suit jealousy, horrors or both (depending on your tastes and expectations)… however, I was talking to my Italian colleague the other day and he was telling me about how he had gone to the pool with his girlfriend; an experience from which he was left with the peculiar realization that people would stare at him, or physically turn away when he walked by, followed by an unabashed commentary about his choice of attire – a Speedo.

He assured me that in Italy, this is a very common choice of swim wear for men, as most men would find swimming trunks to be very heavy and awkward. A sentiment I can easily appreciate, despite never having worn a pair, due to … well… physics.

We concluded with the realization, that this seems to be a form of sexism.

I admit, I am only able to base my assumptions on public pools in Canada and Ireland, but we both realized, that there seems to be a very negative stigma associated with Speedos, when worn by men who are not visibly competing in a water sport. Parents feel the need to shield their children’s eyes, young women cover themselves more and walk briskly on and other men got oddly aggressive. It seems, that the speedo is associated with being “scantily clad” below the social level of acceptability, which struck us as incredibly bizarre.

Anyone who has been out on the town or to a public pool lately, must have witnessed the near nothingness that passes as women’s bathing suits these days, and almost no one says a word. If a woman, covers less than 20% of her body with skimpy fabric and strings, it’s perfectly acceptable – a little risqué perhaps, but nothing malevolent. However, as soon as a man chooses to wear a well fitting pair of briefs as his choice of swim wear, he is demonized in some way; accused through the looks, stares and glares of passers by of being some sort of misfit, socially deplorable or a pervert even.

What I find outrageous, is that it seems to me like an overwhelming amount of society is on a huge “stop sexism” trip, that includes but is not limited to, allowing women to wear what ever they want, when ever they want and where ever they want, whether it is appropriate or not, and anyone who questions a woman’s attire is either a sexists, member of (or enslaved by) the patriarchy and gets instantly accused of “slut shaming”; all the while the same is not true for men. If they are unsuitably dressed, we still tell them what is and isn’t appropriate, judge them by how well shaven or not they are and shame them for a choice of attire that if the equivalent were chosen by a woman (bikini vs. speedo for instance) we were to holler “you go girl”.

In my humble opinion, this needs to stop.

Equality, is the most important goal and as long as we are scolding one but not the other, or even worse empowering one and not the other, we will not reach it.

I am not saying that speedos are the most attractive choice for every man out there, and come on, not every gal can rock that itty bitty yellow polka dot bikini, but if we’re going to be body positive and pro-choice, then that has to include everyone.

As for my Italian colleague, for those of you who were wondering, I have not seen him in his speedo, but, let’s be honest, he’s Italian; I’m sure his girlfriend is very happy. 😉 teehee

Thanks for reading, take care. xoxo