Thursday, August 2, 2018

Let's Pretend This Is Normal.

Something I love about the blogging community is the inevitability that you can, and likely will, get to know other bloggers. It's kind of a given. After all, when you pop your blog onto sights like Bloglovin' (basically a giant online platform that organizes blogs by topic so that you can find great new ones to follow), you are essentially joining a community of bloggers. We read each others' posts faithfully. We like, comment, and share. We may even spend a few hours reading through old posts just so that we can 'catch up' and feel like we somehow know each other (or is that just me?) We are just a bunch of people who like to write in our free time, and we form relationships with other people who like to write - all over the world - in their free time. Which in my opinion is pretty darn cool.

So when I first started blogging back in college, I met one person in particular who I connected with instantly. "Farm Girl Miriam," as I grew to know her, had overcome the immense obstacle of moving from Germany to Canada, facing all sorts of adversity, to start a life with her now-husband. Her posts grabbed my attention every time a new one was posted on Bloglovin', and the more I read, the more I realized we were destined to be friends. She wrote about her frustrations and triumphs in the new country, about her job at a hospital, about living on a farm (with the most adorable dogs you've ever seen!), about fashion, and about her current likes, dislikes, and ideas. After exploring her blog and leaving a few comments, we started a conversation. She was reading my blog as well, and it seemed a lot of our thinking processes were similar. It was great to have someone to see as a sort of 'mentor'. Miriam talked about things that resonated with me, like not always feeling like she fit in, feeling lonely at times, not always feeling like the advice of her family and friends made sense, and having this great, big sense that there was something more to her life. I mean, she bought a one-way ticket from Germany to Canada. My head was screaming YES! 

As you know, over the past year and a half or so I took a break from blogging. But despite being off the 'creating content' wagon, I did continue to read other blogs - Miriam's blog, of course - and loved keeping up with my blogging community. And then one day, Miriam went and wrote a book. Like, an entire novel. It was something she'd mentioned a few times in her blog: that maybe one day she would become a published author and be able to hold an ink-and-paper book in her hands. I saw the countdown, I saw the first envelope, and there it was: Let's Pretend This is Normal. She did it!
Of course I had to read this book. Miriam - my blogger friend who lived some 2,000 miles away - had written not just a post, not just a really long post, but a full BOOK. She had taken her incredible writing ability and used it to share her story with the world. The book dropped (officially) on June 5th, and I had it shortly after (thank you, Amazon). 

One of the things I always loved about reading Miriam's blog was her complete, sometimes blunt, honesty. Nothing in life is perfect, and there is never a moment in which she sugar coats anything. The same holds true for her book. Miriam has had quite the adventure: not loving her life in Germany, moving to Canada for a sort of work-study, falling in love with someone quite a bit older than she was, going back to Germany, moving back to Canada, and eventually getting married and staying put. And so many things in between. Things went down with her family. Things went down with her schooling. Things went down in her sex life (no pun intended). Things that really weren't that glamorous happened and she wrote every single detail without hesitation. Reading her book was like having a conversation with her, learning all about her amazing journey and the incredible love story between her and her husband. Yes, there were some things I knew already because of what she'd shared on her blog, but finally reading the entire story woven together in one solid piece was something else. It was something big.
My favorite quote from the entire book was at the very end: "I realized that listening to my heart and soul has never led me astray, unlike listening to other people did." I'm just going to let that sink in...

There were themes throughout the book that I identified with in particular. First and foremost, she talked about feeling trapped: about feeling like she was in the wrong life and it needed to change. (If you know me personally, you see why this struck a chord.) And then she went and did something about it. She talks about 'running' but I see it as being incredibly brave and chasing something that does feel like the right life. Yes, there may have been an incredible amount of uncertainty in some of her decisions, but that's life, you know? You make (sometimes spontaneous) decisions and roll with them. And you hope and work hard for the best. Second, she talked about fear and how it can give you more happiness than staying put or turning down an opportunity just because its 'scary'. This is something I know all too well. When my grandfather died in 2016, I threw all caution to the wind and booked a solo trip around Germany and Greece. (No, it wasn't extravagant; I used AirBNB and Couchsurfing, sleeping on an air mattress at one point and getting robbed at another). It was terrifying. It was terrifying to my parents. But it was possibly the best experience of my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything. (And yes, I'm planning to post about it.) But the idea that fear is something to be embraced and not something to stop us from following our hearts...that's a pretty big realization. Reading Miriam's story made it so clear that happiness - true, legitimate happiness - really can happen once you leave your comfort zone (I'm not crazy for thinking so!) Third, and perhaps most importantly, is that we are so much stronger than we think we are. Miriam literally moved across the world. For love. She taught herself to be fluent in English, went back to school and got a degree in something she was actually interested in, made new friends, went through some pretty awkward encounters as everything was getting sorted out, and had some rather intense confrontations with her family. And she's not the only one who face these kinds of things! Every day, we all struggle with things that take us outside of our comfort zone. I know I do. Sometimes it seems like a situation is so overwhelming or so difficult to break out of that we can't possibly manage or make a change.

Reality check: if I've survived 25 years on this planet, so can you.

Miriam's book was by far one of the most inspiring and encouraging books I've ever read. (And I swear I'm not just saying that because she's a friend!) If you're at a point in your life where you're wondering, 'Is this all there is?' or 'I know there's more to life', if you're someone who needs a little kick in the rump to make a big (or little!) change, or if you're just someone who likes a really good (really true) love story/adventure, this book is for you. I'll even make it easy for you: click this link right HERE to buy Miriam's book. 

Have you read Let's Pretend This Is Normal? Have you read another book that inspired you? I'd love to read about it! Feel free to drop me a comment down below and I will check it out! 

***This post is not sponsored in any way by Miriam or her book. I just really like to share things that I enjoy and this was definitely one of them. All comments/thoughts/ideas are my own and if you want to check out her book, you can have some pretty great thoughts, too. Ok happy reading!!!***

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