My Life – A Long and Winding Road?

by Al Smith

guest blog post by Barbara Klein

 

My Life – a Long and Winding Road?

  

 

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.

Khalil Gibran http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalil_Gibran

 When Al  invited me to write a guest post for the CARE Movement covering a topic or topics such as Communication, Appreciation, Respect, Encouragement, Improving morale, Optimism, Humility, Gratitude, Listening, Change, Forgiveness, Laughter, Positive Attitude, Open minded etc., my first reaction was a warm feeling of pleasure at this honour and cherishing the trust he put in me. Thank you so much, Al.

 My second reaction was sheer panic: this is my first guest post (and I beg you to be patient with and kind to me), still a budding blogger in my first year, and an onrush of insecurity: English is not my first language (actually it is my third after German and French)

I think I have several handicaps: a very strict upbringing in black and white (dos and do nots), do not talk (or write) about feelings, sit out any conflict and basically have a rather negative attitude, always expecting the worst to happen. Combined with the heavy load of expectations to succeed at everything turned me into a very insecure young adult.

 And I decided I never wanted to be like my mother.

 Followed the years of seeking and searching which can be best described as traveling a winding path, straying to the left and right, following pursuits of personal comfort and defining myself by my romantic relationships.

 My purpose and goals in life in those earlier years? Orientated towards academic achievement and social status, chasing away this small and soft voice asking me whether life is really about all that?

 It’s not what you are, it’s what you don’t become that hurts.

Oscar Lavant  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Levant

 When my daughter was born, my mother gave me that wonderful poem “On Children”

http://www.katsandogz.com/onchildren.html

 by Khalil Gibran, reminding us that our children do not belong to us and that we should not try to make them like us. It has accompanied me all these years of her growing up, trying to live by it.

 And I decided my daughter should not be like me.

 Maybe I did not want my daughter to be like me but do we not also shape our children by what we non-verbally expect them to do and become? Do they not emulate our behaviour?

 Did I see my purpose of life during her childhood as accompanying her on her way to life? Is this enough?

 The other day I was talking to my daughter, now a beautiful woman of 24, about being negative (relating to my mother) and it made me very sad for her when she said: “You know, Mami, I also have this attitude.” At least when I was young I did not feel afraid of doing anything, my head was full of ideas, dreams and plans, some did succeed, some did not.

 Did I listen to my inner self? Did I have time for self-reflection? Probably not. I am glad that soft and small voice grew stronger and compelled me to search further. Maybe it is a shift of interests and an awareness of the fleetingness of all things.

 And I want to become my own self

 That outer shell had to find an inner body.

 Some time ago, I re-started keeping a diary, this is my own personal psychological launderette, my island of self-reflection, helping me to organise my life on several levels.

 And encouraged by friends and family who enjoyed reading my travel reports I started my blog Late Bloomers, sharing my love for food and cooking, travels, daily encounters with a wider audience and having the courage to interact and open up. Over the months this has become less a recounting of travels but an introspective voyage into my mind and soul. 

 I have learned to better communicate, appreciate, respect and encourage others, all the time being faithful to and outspoken about my values and opinions.

 Coming full circle to Al and borrowing his Ghandi quote “Be the change you want to see in the world”, I am on my way.

  

 My name is Barbara.  I am a Swiss living in Basel, Switzerland, next to the borders of France and Germany.   I enjoy a lovely and close family life and cherish my friends.  I love to cook and share meals and recipes, to travel to foreign countries and sit in a roadside café getting the feel of a new place, go the local markets and barter with the vendors.  I grow my own herbs and as much vegetable as possible on my balconies.  My professional background is marketing, with major experiences in selling, buying and communication.   I have always believed that you can realise almost anything by not only wishing for it but also by hard work, perseverance and being willing to learn new things.  And by adding a ton of passion to the mixture.   I started blogging nearly a year ago, in the beginning the focus was on the topics mentioned above but it has developed into a journey into my inner self, mind and soul.

Barbara Klein   http://www.late-bloomers.net

 

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori Gosselin November 18, 2011 at 8:31 am

Hi Barbara,
I have been following your blog and enjoying it so much! It’s nice to see you at Al’s with a fantastic first Guest Post! I love the story of your evolution from not wanting to be like your mother to not wanting your daughter to be like you to wanting to be your own self. How would we grow without our precious daughters who hold up the mirrors for us to see ourselves clearly?
Caring begins with us. If we don’t care about ourselves, we won’t have much of any value to give to anyone else!
Thanks for this inspiration as I head into my day!
Lori
P.S. Hi Al! Great series – hug!
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Barbara Klein November 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Hi Lori,
I imagine you are out in the snow enjoying yourself!
Thanks for your lovely words, I will wear them like a warm cashmere wrap.
Happy to inspire you and have a caring day!
Barbara
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Bill Dorman November 18, 2011 at 8:43 am

Ah, hence the late bloomers title; being your own woman.

English is not my first language either; southern is and somehow English gets woven in there somewhere.

I was in Monaco, Nice and Geneva for a little over a week and I really think I was becoming pretty fluent in French; I just needed maybe another week. Oui oui Mademoiselle.

Our parents influence us but I would like to think I am who I am based on a lot of external factors that make up the me that is only unique to me.

Great post, good to see you at Al’s; and BTW, I didn’t want to be like my mother either….:)
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Barbara Klein November 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Ah, Bill, my favourite Southerner! I will never forget the Florida Cracker! I knew you would count language skills amongs your many virtues.
Probably these external factors (or some stupid mistakes along the journey) also helped me to become who I am.
Thanks for your kindess (as always) and I am glad who did not turn into your mother (did she teach you to love bacon?).
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Bill Dorman November 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Ah yes, mom and dad both helped me develop a love of bacon. We always had breakfast and sometimes bacon was included with the eggs & grits (another southern delicacy that isn’t fully appreciated outside of the south………:). Hamburgers are pretty high on my list as well………..
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Barbara Klein November 19, 2011 at 8:19 am

Amazing how food can unite and alineate at the same time! Grits – not necessarily on my plate, but give me some glazed bacon and fried eggs, mhhh! I adore US hamburgers but you would probably throw a (gagging?) fit with our homemade hamburgers.
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Elena Patrice November 18, 2011 at 9:20 am

Ah, beautiful Barbara … so wonderful you are here!! YAY! What a lineup Al!!

Ma’am you have no idea how much this post hits home and weirdly how it reflects so much of my last 24 hours. What a genuine heartfelt post. You make me cry. There’s a similarity you write and share of here that actually pains me.

You quote Khalil Gibran, who is absolutely one of my favorites! I have several of the lines of this particular work “On children” placed in my child’s room … to remind me.

My angel is only 5 and I am in a constant state of trying to watch myself and not let my personality dominate her outcome or letting “my” expectations rule. I, too, do not wish to be like my mother and certainly don’t want my child to be like me (she can take on the ‘good parts’ though;)). It’s hard, especially as a single mother to find the way to hold the reigns, but not too tight.

I think you’ve done a phenomenal job with your finding of an outer shell for that extraordinary inner body … you gift the world with your insight and goodness. That is such a blessing and thank you for sharing. Stay faithful to yourself friend … it’s a good thing!

Abundant kindness to you (and your daughter!),

Elena
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Barbara Klein November 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Cara Elena,
As always finding those heartwarming words, thank you so much.

Just today, I was thinking of that poem by Gibran again, even now it is so important to know and feel when you have to let go, see the trap of motherly “support”. Specially when we are so close to our daughters and vice versa, we have so much influence.

Thank you, my dear, also for thinking of my daughter
warmest appreciation,
Barbara
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Betsy Cross November 18, 2011 at 10:02 am

Hi Barbara,
I have to laugh! As much as I haven’t wanted to be too much like my mom, I am. But I can see why she is the way she is because we’ve made similar choices in our lives. I’m so glad that I can see that because it makes me more compassionate..in the way I hope my daughters will be when they hear themselves saying things that I’ve said, or doing things that they swore they’d never do. I guess I’m saying that I see a cycle to life. It teaches us. And I like that the biggest lesson is love. And being an adult means being aware of my behavior, regardless of their source, and changing it if I don’t like it. That and like I said before, compassion.
We may not like the way someone behaves, but once we understand the circumstances that helped it to develop sometimes our hearts are softened.
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Al Smith November 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Thank you Barbara. A super job on your first guest post. You are one of the most thoughtful, kind and CARE-ing people I have had the pleasure of connecting with. You share some great things here and are always trying to be of service to others.

I can not thank you enough for this wonderful post and your continued support for me and The CARE Movement. Big Hug ! Luv ya.

Al

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Betsy Cross November 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I wrote a comment..I probably left before it loaded! Sorry!
I won’t repeat t. It was LONG. But I will say that I enjoyed the post and my comment was basically that I’ve learned compassion by living through circumstances that have taught me what made my mother the person she was/is and how I’m able to better understand her.
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Barbara Klein November 18, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Here comes my hero, Al,

Were it not for your kindness and gentle pushing, I would not be here today! As somebody so aptly said when you initiated the October challenge month of CARE: you lit a fire under my butt!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, very big hug,
Barbara
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Barbara Klein November 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Hi Betsy,
Is it not horrible when you put everything into a comment and bingo – it is gone. It has happened to all of us, I think.
Thanks so much (and of course, I really want to have the original LONG comment now!), your mother must be a fine person for having such a daughter, I have been followoing your blogs and comments and I appreciate you very much.
Barbara Klein recently posted..Trees in my Backyard

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Kittie Walker November 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Hey Barbara,

Lovely post – it leads me to wonder whether women of our age generally did not want to be like their mothers? I wonder if that is because they were from another age. The generation before us where as you say very strict, everything was black and white with lots of dos and donts. I know as a child that being seen but not heard was strictly enforced in our household. It must have been hard for our parent who were brought up in one world having to bring their children up in a totally different one.

I vowed never to be like my mother. Like you I found my own path and see the journey through life as a great adventure. One that does not scare me. I take the ups and downs with equal gusto. But, I see fear in my children – fear of the unknown and change – rather than embracing it. They see the world from the glass is half-empty standpoint rather than from the glass is half-full one. Maybe that is caused by the turbulent society we live in today.

I certainly have a much better relationship with my children than I had with my mother, maybe that is because she died when I was still young and the relationship had no chance to flourish after my adolescence (you know that period where you really push the boundaries!). I’m not sure if the world we came from where to different for us to ever connect (she was born in 1922). Having said that, as I travel through my life I have a lot more respect for her and her opinions.

I still think that my children will find their way to happiness and hopefully they will learn to relax and enjoy the ride.

My motto is “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain”

Thanks for the thought provoking post.

Kittie
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Barbara Klein November 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Hi, Kittie, lovely seeing you here! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, how similar our upbringing was and how similar our journey so far (I am still eating meat though!).

“It must have been hard for our parent who were brought up in one world having to bring their children up in a totally different one.” Is that not true for every generation?

On vowing never to become like our mothers – yes, but what was the outcome? I see a lot of my mother in myself, I have got her stamina (not her discipline). I am sorry your mum died so young and you never had a chance to show her your respect and affection. I have a far better relationship with my mum now that all the anger and aggression of my haydays have dissipated.

And I truly hope for our children that one day they will see their cups as half-full!

Barbara
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Carolyn | The Wonder of Tech November 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Wow, Barbara, you clearly touched a lot of people (including me) with this blog post! Way to go with your first guest article!

My mother always said she didn’t want to be like her mother, but I do believe she bore more than a minor resemblance to her mother. My mother died young so I didn’t have much of a chance to resemble her, but I wanted to emulate her in many ways, including her brave spirit as she fought cancer for a good part of my childhood.

I have three lovely daughter who seem to be finding their own way just fine. One is like me in that she loves tech but is different from me in many other ways. My other two daughters are not interested in tech, but I love them anyway. ;-)

I seriously had no idea that English wasn’t your first language, Barbara.

Congratulations, Al, on having the brilliant idea to invite Barbara as a guest author!
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Barbara Klein November 19, 2011 at 2:37 am

Hi, Carolyn, my big helper for all things technical, thank you so much. I feel very humble receiving so much praise from you all.

I can relate to your feelings losing your mother in your childhood, my father died of cancer when I was 8. And more respect to my mother for raising two children on her own, what a montainous task.

Wow, you must be very proud of your three daughters, the love shines through! ;-)
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Kaarina Dillabough November 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Barbara, congratulations on a beautiful first Guest Post. So engaging and enjoyable to read, and so full of sentiment that many of us can relate to, as daughters of mothers and mothers ourselves. (that’s not to exclude our male buddies here…just speaking from my daughter/mother perspective).

I once saw a cartoon where a woman was doing a variety of things she said she’d never do, with the caption: “I’ve become my mother.” And in many ways, I do believe we take on some of the traits of our parents, consciously or unconsciously. The trick is to be aware, and change those things we wish to change, and not “blame” our unwanted habits, idiosyncrasies or behaviours on genetics. Choice not Chance determines our destiny.

Bravo Barbara! Lovely post. Cheers! Kaarina
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Barbara Klein November 19, 2011 at 2:46 am

A very good morning to you, Kaarina,

This is my stone pile, your post really made a lasting impression on me! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and spoiling me with your compliments (I love them!). Would you believe that the words just kept flowing from my pen (figuratively speaking!) and there is much still left unwritten?

And as we were discussing literature before, I would like to quote Oscar Wilde: “All women become like their mothers, that’s their tragedy, All men don’t, that’s theirs.”

And you are absolutely right: “Choice not Chance determines our destiny.” Amen.
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Kaarina Dillabough November 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

How did I not know that quote from Oscar Wilde? Thanks for sharing that. I’ve tucked that away to remember.

It’s wonderful when the words just flow, isn’t it? Let those unwritten words flow forth. Cheers! Kaarina
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Claudia November 18, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Oh Barbara…this is a lovely lovely post. Thank you!. Your post resonates within on many levels. Motherhood is such a beautiful gift filled not only with precious moments but challenges as well. As a daughter and as a mother, I have come to realize some lessons. I am the oldest of three in my family and I am the one with the most insecurities and fears. I adore my Mom and feel lucky to have been raised in such a loving and supportive family….so, then where did all of that inner angst that I experience come from? My theory is that as an oldest child, we experience the insecurities of our parents being first time Moms and Dads and, despite their deep and resounding love, we can pick up on their anxieties. They may manifest themselves in different ways with different people but for me, I gained their loving, generous and compassionate natures but I also became…well…an unsure person. Perhaps it was my parents hovering over their first child, perhaps it was their unspoken fears that I “read” that passed on to me….whatever it was, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t do that to my first born…my sweet son. My children are adults now with their own wonderful lives and, despite my desire to eliminate angst and fear and uncertainty from their lives, I see pieces of anxiousness and uncertainty in both of my sweet children. So, while we can perhaps strive to create a life in a manner which suits us (and that might include altering the way in which we ourselves were raised) there are some things that get passed on that we have no control over…subconscious attitudes, responses, reactions, etc. that, despite our efforts, they are woven into who we are.
Thank you Barbara for sharing a piece of you. You are delightful and I’m so glad to see you here at Al’s place! And this was a WONDERFUL first guest post!
Claudia
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Barbara Klein November 19, 2011 at 3:03 am

Dear Claudia,
When I started opening up in my blog and comments I was able to do so because I felt safe, encouraged and carried by all the beautiful people I had met. Thus, let me return the compliment – thanks!

Spot on “motherhood is such a beautiful gift filled not only with precious moments but challenges as well.” I can relate to your fears (or angst) for yourself and your children. Only yesterday a wise friend said to me: “Even when our children are adults, we have to be aware of how we can support them, of where we are hindering them in their development and where we are disturbing them.” And she gave me an example of a mother she knew whose son was into extreme mountain climbing, whenever he went off on one of his adventures, she felt afraid for him. She was only able to be at peace when she realised it was his life and the way he wanted to live it. So she gave him a blessing on his way when he went mountain climbing.

Blessings to you and your family,
Barbara
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Craig McBreen November 20, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Hi Barbara,

Quite an amazing job for a first guest post! Congratulations. and can totally understand the budding blogger panic ;) I only know English, but do plan on learning a second language. Spanish, French or German. Tough choice, eh?

I’ve had plenty of those, “oh man, I am my father,” moments. I think we all have those “I’ve become my mother” “I’ve become my father” moments. The scariest thing is when I’m talking to my kids and it’s like I am him. Actually it’s pretty funny and he was a really great guy, but he did have his moments. ;)

When I was younger I blamed a lot of my fears, anxieties, etc. on my parents, but as I’ve grown older I realize they did the best they could, and I do like to think I posses their best traits.

Anyway, I won’t ramble. It was great that you shared such a personal post with us. Very well done and again, great to see you at Al’s!
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Barbara Klein November 21, 2011 at 4:43 am

Thanks, Craig, appreciate and love your comment! I think learning a second language only makes sense when you have a use for it. Why should you bother otherwise? Maybe you want to start singing in Spanish? Or enroll for a Cordon Bleu class in Paris? Cannot think of anything for German …

On having those “I am my father” moments: I often think of the tribute you paid your father, our parents really did the best they could and when we accept that we have become like them with a smile, then we have come a long way.
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Anna November 21, 2011 at 9:05 am

Very inspiring article! You are an example that quitting is not an option, not only referring to a blogging. every beginning is difficult but all that make us stronger!
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Barbara Klein November 22, 2011 at 5:56 am

Hi Anna, thank you for stopping by and welcome! Your words are balm on my soul, I will be heading over to your place, you made me curious.
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cath November 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Congratulations on your first guest post, Barbara, and a fine one too! I think there are many of us who want to be different than our mothers. To some extent we can, but we are bound by genetics to a good extent too. How do we surmount this? By awareness. I believe the more aware we are of our shortcomings, the better we can balance the negativity with wisdom.

Here’s to a long and successful blogging career for you!
cath xo
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Barbara Klein November 22, 2011 at 6:01 am

And a good day to you, Cath, thank you so much for your lovely words.

Yes, it is awareness and accepting ourselves for what we are, seeing the good qualities in every person. Today, I am really proud of my mum who is such a disciplined person and thinks she has overslept when waking up at 7 am! (It used to drive me up the walls – haha!)

Love your new post on decoration memories! Can I join you for that glass of wine?
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Hajra January 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Hey Barbara,

Thanks so much for sending this over! I would have missed out on such an awesome post! :)

My mom always says, there is good in every person, you just have to see it. And if you don’t find it, then stop looking for the bad either. Being a mother can be scary, I see my sister raising her two lil angels, and her only thought is “I hope I am not making them miniature – me in the long run.

There are times when we doubt ourselves, and there are times we think we outdid ourselves. The trick is to have that balance in between; not losing the hope that we are capable, and not overtly doing something irrational.

Loved it! :)
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Barbara January 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Hey Hajra,

Your mum is a very wise woman, give her a kiss from my part.

Thanks for your lovely comment, I remember your nieces and nephews from one of your posts, raising mini-mes is never done on a voluntary level, I think we want our children to become happy and independent individuals travelling their own path.

I just told my mum this evening after some heavy discussion on children education: as a mother we always do our best for our children to the best of our knowledge and circumstances, how can outsiders ever judge us?

Yes, it is a balancing act and I love your conclusion “not losing the hope that we are capable, and not overtly doing something irrational.” You make me feel so good – thank you from the bottom of my heart, Hajra!
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Barbara October 3, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Hi Al, thank you for being a staying power in my life and re-reading the post brought back fond memories – hey, it has only been two years but such a lot has happened in each of our lives. And I am happy and grateful to whatever forces that have kept me blogging on and pursuing my way.

And I will never forget the Gandhi quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” you first introduced me to, it holds true!

Feeling grateful and committed to CARE always!

Hugs, Barbara
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