In November, I read the book, Gratitude Diaries. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s a great book and well-researched. I actually recommend buying the book and reading it over a 21-Day period, like I did. There is so much to absorb, you will lose a lot by reading it too quickly.
Even more so, I recommend making it an interactive book club experience. I actually formed a Facebook Group to share it with 60+ other interested readers. The three week period led us right up to Thanksgiving Week. It was a great way to get myself in a thankful mood.
Side Note: I’d be happy to share my notes and reading schedule with you. Just shoot me a message. Heck, I’d even be willing to read it again and put together a new group if you wanted to. Just let me know, folks. Like Lowe’s slogan, I believe we should Never Stop Improving!
Since I’m taking the gratitude thing seriously, and wanting to revive my love and excitement for my environment, I made a list of all the wonderful things I love about being posted in Hamburg. Of course, there are plenty more, it’s a great city. But, these are the ones that I appreciate the most, that bring value to my everyday life as a resident.
1. I don’t always have to wear a bra because when I leave the house I’m covered in a coat for at least 8 months of the year.
2. I can wear the same outfit up to 4 days in a row – for two reasons. #1 – After four days, I am ready to wear a new outfit since it doesn’t fit so great by that point; it needs washing. #2 – I’m covered in a coat for 8 months of the year and nobody has any idea if it’s the same sweater underneath that cozy layer of warmth. I may change my scarf or coat to look different, but not always. Usually not. I pretty much look the same, Every.Single.Day.
3. I only have to wash my hair once or twice a week. You got it! My hair is usually covered by a hat or ear warmer for 8 months of the year!
4. It lends me the opportunity to pursue an unpaid existence as a writer.
5. I discovered and religiously use as much of the Art Deco make-up and face cream I can get my hands on – which allows my un-paycheck life to justify it’s desire for high quality items that are budget friendly. Plus, the packaging fits the name and I love that period of time, it reminds me of my Gramma.
6. I get to go to the Kunst Museum every few months. I’ve enjoyed exhibits that include some incredible original works by some of the greatest artists – Renoir, Renault, Van Gogh, Hokusai, and Monet. Totally looking forward to next month’s exhibit with some of Picasso’s work.
7. Hamburg is an endless pit of inspiration – like most European cities, it inspires everyday with it’s unique cultural, international and refined character, and the architecture is simply remarkable.
8. I am never more than a few steps from water – Hamburg is an artists’s dream; sitting around the lake provides serenity and inspiration on it’s own. Did you know Hamburg has more canals than Venice & Amsterdam combined? It’s true.
9. It feels like home. Since the embassy is located in Berlin, those of us in Hamburg are far from the usual politics, events and culture shared amongst fellow colleagues and spouses. I have to say this is the first post where I feel like I am part of the host country community. Living outside of the safety of our American network provides an opportunity to engage with Germans in a different capacity. We are making lifelong friends, not just contacts or acquaintances. Instead of my children getting involved in a slew of American activities, they are immersed in the culture of their own neighborhood, just like they would be in the United States. My family has been granted a rare opportunity in State Department life, but it has allowed me to not just feel like a guest in Hamburg, but feel welcomed and accepted. Especially since they look at me weird when I start speaking English.
10. I can eat fish brotchen whenever I want. Think of it as the local Chick-Fil-A. Instead of fried chicken, it’s fried fish on a soft, but crunchy baguette. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
11. I am stronger. Since my driver’s license expired, and Oklahoma refused to renew it through the mail, I made some adjustments to accomplish every day errands. Now, I may walk several miles to finish my shopping, or use my bike as a mode of transportation. It is quite liberating. There is nothing like feeling the air sweep across my face; plus, all the walking gives me a slimmer body and better posture!
12. Hamburg makes breakfast so much better. There is a lot of pork available in the markets. Considering our previous three posts were Muslim, and it was really hard for us to find bacon, we just might be in pig heaven.
13. Hamburgers love their print. Every neighborhood has a book store and there are magazines everywhere. Reading a book on the train is normal, and I like that I don’t look like such a nerd anymore.
14. The city is one of the greenest cities in Europe. Not only do they have water that runs through it, but it is covered in trees and grassy knolls. I am never too far from a beautiful park.
15. The people are fun and know how to let loose. There is an attitude here of Work Smart, Play Often. The city has lots of festivals and parties throughout the year. By far, our favorite one is down by the port during the summer months. It’s a combination of hippy and country, with parades of Volkswagen vans filled with partiers dressed in costumes. Think Austin Powers meets the Wild West. I captured this photo last year. Totally sums up our experience.
How can you not love four guys dressed as unicorns?
And wearing pink tutus?
SO – What do you love about your own city? Tell me in the comments!
Until tomorrow –
photo credit: personal library