Monday, May 27, 2013

Danke, Oma

Sunday, May 19, my grandmother Hannelore Rosa Elizabeth Auer (Lore), passed away. I mentioned this on Facebook, but she was the strongest, bravest, woman I've ever known. Everyone says that about their grandmothers, or mothers, but I have evidence that mine is the strongest. My grandma faced adversity unheard of (and, these are just the stories that I can actually tell you). Unfortunately for you, the ones I cannot tell you are what define her, and humble me.

You can start by reading her extended obituary here, or I could just give you the basics. For starters, she lived in a castle. No joke. I visited said castle on my honeymoon last May. She lived in the old horse stables, which had been converted into apartments, with her eight siblings during WWII. She faced Nazi soldiers and literally spit at their feet - and lived to tell that tale. She taught herself the English language by reading comic books and listening to country music. She was a single mother, so she worked many jobs to support my mother. This included restaurant Bolton and Hay where all the big deals in Des Moines ate. This included former Iowa Governer Robert Ray, who was a lawyer at the time. As a waitress at that restaurant, she was referred to as "Dutch." She was called some no-so-nice names by her customers because Germans were not really accepted yet. (They called her a Nazi).

She overcame some of the toughest obstacles that some of us will never encounter. She was discriminated against, and yet you'd never be able to tell. She never held a grudge on life, she had a heart of gold, and always put us first. It doesn't feel like she's gone. We have some amazing memories, stories, and beautiful pictures to help us keep her in our hearts. Here are some of those pictures to illustrate her life.

This is a picture that a Des Moines Register photographer took of her. It's our absolute favorite:

I think this one looks like my older sister:

This one illustrates where I got my personality:

This one is at my wedding. I love this moment between her and Ryan:

This picture is special to me because it makes me think of my favorite story of grandma. When I was born, I was really sick. Very sick. A lot of people were praying for me to survive. I've been told that grandma was the one who prayed that God take her life instead of mine. I'm thankful he didn't, and gave us both some time together before she left us. After that, like many other people, she loved me so much and always gave me what I asked for (see cookie and kisses in photo).

Lastly, here are Ryan and I posing in front of the castle in Schwetzingen, Germany, where grandma lived.

Looking back v. Living in the moment

I've waited a few weeks to write this post as to avoid spoilers. We watched the wonderful, perfect farewell to The Office on Thursday, May 16. It made me think back to when I first started watching the show. I was a freshman in college, and the boys down the hall had downloaded the show and invited us all to come watch. We all thought Michael Scott was hilarious. We also watched the special before the season finale where they interviewed the cast. They mentioned in the special that their first season wasn't watched by many, but it was downloaded by many more and #1 on itunes. That's how I got into the Office, so... you're welcome, Office.

The themes in the farewell can touch anyone's heart. The characters thanked the documentary makers (within the show), for documenting their lives. They all felt thankful to see their lives unfold before them, and to relive the good times. Andy's character really touched me when he said this line through tears:

"I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them." ~Andy Bernard (Ed Helms).

When I look back, like I've done on this blog, or when I go through scrapbooks, or I have a school reunion, I always think that. I think about the things I would worry about in that time of my life, and how they'd be so trivial now. My heart always soars when I think of the good things, especially when I see things I'd forgotten about. For example, I was scouring through old blog posts and found this. It's the last blog post I wrote while working at The Des Moines Register. In it, I highlighted my top ten favorite moments as a MOJO there.

The intent of the message, however, is to remind yourself to live in the moment. This is something people think my generation can't do. Conan O'Brien said it best in his introductory remarks at the White House Correspondent's Dinner:

"Quick announcement, before we really get going, before we continue, if any of you are live tweeting this event, please use the #incapableoflivinginthemoment." ~Conan O'Brien

So. True. So instead of sappily going through the great oldies, I'm going to list a few things that make today, right now, the good old times. When I wrote down to think about this list, I instantly thought of the biggest loves in my life: My husband, our marriage, my friends, my family, my garden, my health, my house, my car, etc. So many things fill my heart. In true Niki-fashion, I'm going to try to be unique and list a few different things.

1. I can hop on my bike nearly anytime and ride just about anywhere. This shows not only that I have my health, but I have the time to go biking and have the beautiful bike trails in Iowa to accompany me. (Including the only 100-mile bike loop, set to open June 1).

2. I can buy a beautiful tree, flower, or vegatable and plant it. As a kid, I would always admire the beautiful flowers in the greenhouses, and longed to make a garden of my own so I could watch them grow. We just planted two trees in our yard this weekend, and it was quite lovely. I love having a yard as my canvas to work with.

I'm going to stop there, mainly because this is actually really hard to do. Perhaps that's because you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

Are you living in the moment? What makes today the golden days for you?

2013 goals update:
-I ordered my 8x10 pictures to submit to the fair. Next stop: submit my photos on the deadline date, June 15. Once they have been submitted, I will post pictures of the ones I chose here.
-I went to the golf range. Next stop: golf COURSE for a full round!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The things we worry about

I wrote a few weeks ago about how I do a weekly high/low/looking forward to email with my friends. Something I've really enjoyed about the weekly emails is reflecting on my lows.

Let me explain.

In general, I try to stay pretty positive. If something is not so pleasant in my life, I don't normally tell the world on Facebook or Twitter (I'm not a fan of those depressing status updates). I usually tell my friends and family. Even then, I end the sentence with a positive note, like this: "My car is in the shop, BUT it's under warranty so it won't cost a dime." This is for my own personal reminder that things will be ok, and many things are hardly worth worrying about. Because they are OK. Things always will work out, in one way or another, thanks to this awesome thing called God.

I like reflecting on my lows because I know in a week, or a month, or a year, or five years, they won't be my low anymore. They will become a past experience that I overcame. How cool is that?! This is some super effective therapy for someone with anxiety. If I go back and read those past wrories, like when I wrote that blog post that showed how much my life had changed in two years, I see that very few things in life are actually worth worrying about. I used to worry about some of those things two years ago and now I'm in bliss. I'm happily married, healthy, have a beautiful home and a job I enjoy. I've learned so many things and have seen so many places.

Because I like illustrating with pictures, here are some pictures to explain. Here are some things I worried about before, after, and during our trip to Colorado: (Please note, some of these weren't really worries, but more things that I thought about, or had on my mind).

Before we left, we got our anniversary tier out of the freezer. It smelled like play dough while it was unthawing, making me worried about its taste. Turns out, it tasted as amazing as it did one year ago. Score!

Before we left, I also worried about the weather in Colorado. It had just snowed nine inches there. Turns out, the weather in Iowa was just as bad. This is what it was like outside on May 2 when we left for Colorado. We were welcomed to Colorado with sunny skies, clear roads and beautiful landscape! It ended up being perfect timing.

DURING the trip, I was worried about our drive up Pike's Peak. I get vertigo sometimes (have an Rx for it, actually), and wasn't thrilled about the drive up 14,000 feet to the summmit. But, I did just fine (medicine free), and got some amazing pictures. To prove it, here is us as far up as they would let us drive.

Also during the trip, and before, we were worried about getting our garden planted. All done!

And finally, I am confident about going back to school to obtain my Masters degree. Mainly because I'm very excited to get back into the classrom. But, I do think about the time it will take and if I will be able to fully commit myself to it. I think I can. I think I can. I hope to revisit this in two years and see that I have.
Wow. I worry a lot... is what you're probably thinking. I really don't. As I warned, these were mostly just things on my mind. If you still think I'm a worry-wort, look at yourself. What do you think about all day? What do you worry about? Do those "lows" and "worries" turn into an experience? Something positive?

Just something to think about. Stay positive, readers (whoever you are).

Monday, May 13, 2013

First anniversary! Trip to Colorado.

We just celebrated our FIRST anniversary! What?! Everyone says the time flew by, and some still call us newlyweds. I'm not saying it went slow, but I definitely don't feel like newlyweds. Maybe someone can shed some light on this feeling, but I feel like we've been married for years. We have this thing nailed down and I'm ready for another 80 years. Can anyone relate? 

We had a BLAST in Colorado on a MUCH needed vacation. I won't go into the boring travel details, just short of a slideshow at your neighbors. I will say each view was breathtaking. I definitely want to go back and do it again someday, even though I got some mad car sickness going up and down and around and around the mountains. The highlights included the New Belgium Brewery tour - the best brewery tour we've been on (and we've done a LOT). The food, the view, the relaxing hotel. Thanks, Colorado. We needed that.

So that's that. I'm trying really hard to keep up on this blog. I like seeing everyone's unique ways of blogging - favorites, recipes, reviews, etc. I just don't want to copy everyone. I'll just concentrate on keep coming back frequently.

Update on my goals post. Add pay off student loans to the list of COMPLETED goals! Woot! Just in time to start saving for school. Yep. I'm going back to Drake to get my Masters of Communication Leadership, and crazy enough we're going to try to pay for it without taking out any loans. (donations accepted).

Also, we're currently in the Alpha course at church, and I have the instructions printed off for submitting photos to the Iowa State Fair. I'm on my way to completed a few more and this blog is keeping me in check.