Monday, August 30, 2010


Sometimes I wonder if at some point something terrible will happen to us to even out from all the good things we've experienced so far in our life.

I know it doesn't work that way, not really. And, I do know that a lot of it is about your outlook. It's not just luck, although of course that's a part of it. I've had problems in my life just like everyone else. There are things that I've dealt with that others wouldn't even know how to deal with. Like a lifelong weight problem that led to surgery. Or being the sole breadwinner with a nonprofit salary, a mortgage, and a baby on the way. Or having a thyroid condition that requires regular doctor visits and blood draws and medication every day for the rest of my life.

Regular stuff, to me. Nobody's life is perfect. Nobody can avoid having issues entirely. And to me these things are all issues to be addressed, managed, dealt with as best as possible, but not dwelled upon.

But certainly when you look at our lives from a broader perspective, there's a hell of a lot more good than bad. Happy, loved childhood. Good education. Good job. Happy marriage. Baby on the way. Great house. Adorable dog. Amazing work-from-home situation. The ability to make decisions like my husband quitting his job to start his own company without worrying (at least, not too much) that we'll wind up living in a box under a bridge somewhere.

And while luck is certainly an element in all of this, it's not the only thing. A lot of it is down to good choices, careful planning, and hard work.

But not everything can be planned for. Tons of people make good choices, exercise careful planning, and work really hard--and still end up in crappy situations beyond their own control. And it's partly luck that we've been able to avoid crappy situations, at least so far. It's certainly luck that we had no trouble getting pregnant. It's luck that we were ready to buy a house in a buyer's market and not before. It's not just luck that I was able to get a good job with the flexibility to allow me to telecommute--but a lot other people have similar skills and talents to mine and don't end up in such an advantageous situation.

So sometimes I wonder: does it all have to balance out? Are we going to go on leading a happy positive life forever, or will something terrible happen to even the score?

But I also think that a major part of the whole issue is perspective. There are enough challenges in our lives that we could easily focus on them instead of on all the good stuff. We could sit around worrying about money and what would happen if Torsten's company failed. I could worry about what my pregnancy is doing to my body, and how I will get back on track with weight loss once I've given birth, and what kind of delays this might cause and how this might impact my health. We could dwell on how our car isn't necessarily quite right for a family with kids but the accident we were in last year lowered the car's value so it would be hard to sell. We could think about the impact Torsten's lack of income is having not just on our present quality of life but also on our ability to save for the future, for our kids and for our own retirements. We could focus on the incredible expense of Torsten's green card, and the decision he'll have to make at some point between German and American citizenship. And so on.

When you look for the negatives, you find them. But I choose to deal with the negatives without taking my eyes off the positives. We both do. And as a result we both feel that our life is beautiful.

That wildflower garden that we planted months ago? It's blooming, en masse. There are flowers of every imaginable color. There are also a lot of weeds. It's a wildflower garden and it looks as such. It's not a neat, pruned garden. It looks jungly and wild. Some people who look at it probably think it's a mess of weeds. But I think it's beautiful.


  1. I used to wonder/think that same thing a lot - and then I decided to turn my life upside down and go through a lot of crap, and put myself in a position where I have to deal with ignorance on a regular basis (April), so now I figure I've pretty much evened my own score and now I deserve all the good things that are coming to me :-)

    Which is not to say that you don't, of course.

  2. I really liked how you put all this. I think about it too.

  3. I was going to say, this sounds like pregnancy talk [the "should I be worrying more" feeling]--except then I heard myself, and realized how condescending and stupid I sounded.

    But basically, I think your conclusion is sound--an awful lot of what seems like luck IS attitude. Okay, it helps immensely not to have been born in Iraq (for example). And a lot of people's attitudes are sort of shaped by luck (being raised by a stable middle class family in a first-world country does help create an expectation of order). BUT? Having that expectation of good luck and stability means that even horrible tragedies become things to deal with rationally.

  4. I like how positive you are, and I love how thought provoking your posts are. I wonder the same thing - but I always wonder if I'm 'due' certain things, because I've been blessed in other areas. Like, will J & I struggle to have kids after we were lucky enough to find each other at 18 and still be together all these years later? Or will we have trouble finding a place to live at home because we've been so blessed with it over here? It's hard. But you're right, we all have good and bad - it's just how you look at it. x

  5. It's definitely all about perspective. We all have cards that make us worry. Or are unfair. Or aren't as good as someone else's. But, it's whether we choose to dwell on those cards or look at them in respect to the big picture. In a lot of ways, you are very fortunate, because with every thing that could be looked upon as a negative, you have choices for how you want to address them. And while your current choices make sense for you today, the nice thing is, you can always change direction in the future when/if those choices no longer make sense.

  6. Thorsten can have both - keep his German citizenship and become a U.S. citizen. He needs to apply for a Beibehaltungsgenehmigung first though. If that's granted, he can apply for the American citizenship without losing the German one.

  7. But one more thing: If Thorsten decides to just become a US citizen and give up the German citizenship, he should wait until your child is born. The baby is eligible for both.

  8. Sarah: I had no idea that the Beibehaltungsgenehmigung existed! I did a ton of research and all I found was that if you're born with dual citizenship, you can keep it, but if you take on another citizenship as an adult, you have to give up your German citizenship. Thanks for the tip! And yes, our plan is to wait until we're done having kids and they are officially German citizens before we do anything that could jeopardize Torsten's citizenship.

  9. i had a comment, but was so blown away by the fact that Beibehaltungsgenehmigung is SERIOUSLY A REAL WORD that i momentarily forgot it. oh german! with your compound words! hee!

    aaaaaaanyway. i very very very much agree. i had a convo w/chris one time about whether or not you need to go through bad stuff in your life to appreciate good stuff, and i came away from that convo feeling SO LUCKY that i was able to recognize how good my life was. i think that's a big key in the perspective thing as well: not focusing on the crappy hands,yes; and also not just being aware that you have good stuff, but having the ability to legitimately appreciate how good you have it.

  10. What a lovely post. Seeing past the weeds and focusing on the flowers is a great way to look at life.

  11. The website for the German Missions in the United States is usually a good source. It gives Germans living in America information on passport-related questions etc. That's also where you can find info on the BBG (Beibehaltungsgenehmigung), and all the forms for your child you need to fill out in order to get the German passport. The locations for the German Consulates in the U.S. are listed there as well. Unfortunately a lot of things you can't do by mail anymore, but you have to go there in person.

    Here is the link:

  12. I love your attitude, and the flower garden analogy is absolutely perfect.

    Life is all about choices. And while we all encounter crappy situations that are out of our control, we still get to CHOOSE how we deal with it. In the end, it's usually those crappy situations that help us grow stronger in the long run anyway.

    Great post, Jess!

  13. Jess,
    Life is about how you deal with the difficult and unpredictable situations.

    I am thankful every day that I wake up alive. Life is too short to worry.

    You and Torsten are doing great and in a few months will be a family of 3 + pooch.

    I read your posts and am envious of all you have. I am obese, no girlfriend, and just lost my job. But I am happy today.

    Take care and count your blessings.

    Walter Boston

  14. Awesome picture!

    I think about that a lot when something big is on the horizon. Have I been blessed too much so far in my life and that is why I won't get the job/why I will lose a loved one soon/why I won't be able to get pregnant. But I try not to dwell on it too much....

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