When I announced to a group of friends my plan to move to a small university town in Germany in the midst of winter 2011, my Swiss friend gravely informed me “German winters are gray and dark and terrible.” Clearly she was skeptical my years on the sunny central coast of California, and hot, hot Houston before that had prepared me in any way for the long frigid winter I was about to plunge into. I assured her my Midwest upbringing had not totally been forgotten, and in any case, I come from tough stock.
Winding down our third winter here, I can honestly say I find the change of seasons really quite magical. Sure, this year it has been pretty mild, but I even survived the polar freeze two years ago, whilst pregnant and riding my bike. I think what gets me through January and February (because December is so full of fests, it flies, no matter what the temps) is the promise of snowdrop blankets. One of the first signs of Spring, Schneeglöckchen literally take over entire gardens and any spare patch in the forest near our house. Never before have I felt such a sense of renewal and hope just walking around the neighborhood. In a few more weeks, the Osterglocke will pop up, and the Flohmarkt season will swing into high gear.
In celebration of the Spring Awakening, I thought I’d share five fountains of inspiration I’ve found particularly exciting and motivating of late:
1. project eve: in a world of loud-mouthed über-privileged women lambasting regular women for not doing whatever it is they think all women should be doing, Meridith Dennes and Kim Oksenberg created a far more supportive platform to “inspire a new breed of innovative and creative women who are actively reinventing their careers”
2. Hiut Denim and the Do Lectures: if Clare and David Hieatt lived near me, I’d make it my mission to become best friends. Start with the jeans they’re crafting in Cardigan, a town once devastated by closure of the denim factory, with a History Tag that allows you to attach memories to your fave pair, because they’re making these jeans to last. If that doesn’t get you going, check out one of their other projects, the Do Lectures, celebrating Doers the world over. I’ve seen a few good Ted talks, but man oh man, none of them have moved me to change my life like the Do Lectures you can watch online. Needless to say, I’m trying to figure out how I can get to Wales in June.
3. Young Germany: 30 is the new 20, right? So, I still count as young, I’m pretty sure. This site is a goldmine for living the cool life in DE. The topics range from practical to funny. Proof of how valuable this site is can be found in this week’s review of Adam Fletcher’s new book. Adam, if you’re reading, I totally agree with you on the bread. Unless you’re talking about the bread from Turkish bakeries.
4. Flow and Frankie Magazines: Flow is a Dutch magazine with editions in English, German and Dutch. I’m reading the DE version in an attempt to better my language skills. The pages overflow with loveliness, dedicated to Simplifying your Life, Living Mindfully, Feeling Connected, and Spoiling Yourself (but not in a $2000 designer bag way, more in a homemade lavender biscuits way). Frankie is an Aussie mag dedicated to anything you’d sit and talk with your best friend about, and it’s just as witty and lovely. It’s just brimming with fabulous people doing loads of fabulous things all over the world. If I can make it onto the pages of one of these magazines one day, I’ll have fulfilled my most magical of dreams.
5. My big sister: without sharing too much of a story that isn’t my own, watching someone evolve over three decades and go from being a pessimistic fatalist to a determined and diligent woman setting her own path, I can’t help but feel proud and inspired. Hey, she’s even learned German songs so she can sing to her favourite little monkeys.
What inspires you to get through the final throes of winter?