Sunday, September 28, 2014

Understanding British Culture

I will be the first to admit that sometimes Tim tells a joke and I just don't get it. Usually this is accompanied by a blank stare, confused face, or just continuing the conversation like it didn't happen. We may speak the same language and be lumped in the general category of the "Western world" but sometimes I feel like we could not be further apart.

Jokes, TV shows, food, etiquette, language..the list goes on and on. Tim is lucky in the sense that America shoves its culture out at other people so it is a bit more familiar, but British culture to me is vastly unknown other than tea, the Beatles and the Royal Family.

Slowly but surely I am trying to introduce more British things into my life. Even if I don't end up moving there I feel it is important because I have a British partner. Understanding a little bit more about where he comes from will help me get to know him that much better.

Food - In England I was lucky enough to get to try a few things that in my mind are super British. First thing that stands out, cauliflower cheese - why is this not a thing in America? So yummy and really easy to make. I liked it so much that I made it again when Tim came to visit. He also got us dinner at the chip shop one night and had me try true British chips, battered sausage (this is questionable still to me) and a chip butty. Can't go to England without going to the chip shop and it did not disappoint. In Bath we had a lovely afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones, and little sweets that was delicious. I'm starting to crave British tea and biscuits when I'm in America and I love that a small part of Tim is rubbing off on me.

TV - After getting Hola on my computer I am now able to watch British TV shows. I've watched Downton Abbey, Pointless, Gogglebox, the Inbetweeners, and Gavin and Stacey. Sometimes I still have to turn the subtitles on because I'm not sure they are always speaking English but I like I am starting to understand the humor a little bit more.

Everything Else - Okay, it may be a little weird but I am reading a book called "Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour" just to learn a little more about what makes people tick. Of course the book is full of large generalizations (and I know every person is different) but it is so interesting to me how different those generalizations seem that what I assume they would be about Americans.

I just want to soak up information about this familiar yet unfamiliar culture to better understand Tim and to hopefully better understand British culture so if end up there it isn't too much of a shock! One day I hope I will laugh at all Tim's jokes, be able to make all of his favorite British food, and not look at him in confusion when he uses words like "barmy". If you have any suggestions of shows to watch, food to make, or just general British-ness to learn about please let me know!

Friday, September 26, 2014

December 6, 2013

The nerves I felt on December 6, 2013 are going to stay fresh in my mind for the rest of my life. I had to work that day, my last day before I took a 2 week vacation to hang out with Tim. I checked his flight status all day long - BA 49, refreshing every 15 minutes and tracking his plane getting closer and closer. Since the day we first started texting I don't think we have ever gone longer than 2-3 hours without at least saying hello (other than when one of us is sleeping) so waiting 9+ hours for the flight with no communication was like torture. All day long coworkers were asking me questions; what if you don't like him? do you think you'll recognize him? are you going to kiss him? Every question and every minute that went by the knot in my stomach got bigger and bigger, and I slipped out of work early full of fear.

The picture I sent to Tim so he would know what I was wearing 
The arrivals board letting me know he was in customs! 
I got to the airport and went to our designated meeting place where I had read online international arrivals come out and waited. Sweaty palms, funny stomach, more waiting. Turns out, I was waiting in the wrong place and got a text from Tim asking where I was...oops. If you picture a movie with people making eye contact, smiling, and rushing over in slow motion to greet each other..that is honestly exactly what it felt like. Cheesy and cliche, but very, very real. Backpack wielding Tim gave me a big hug that I struggled to return because of a silly backpack he kept tight on his back. I will remind him of that stupid backpack for the rest of his life and he will never live it down. 

After the backpack is kind of a blur in my head. I can remember kisses on the cheek, watching his bags while he used the restroom and I sent a quick text to a friend, and walking hand in hand to the light rail. On the 40 minute ride downtown I think I stared at him the whole time. We wandered around downtown looking for a place to eat and ended up at a Thai restaurant. I'm not sure what we talked about during dinner but I can remember sitting there with a huge smile on my face. 

I don't think I can ever put in words how happy I was or how amazed I was that he was real and exactly what I had imagined.  We clicked better than I could have hoped for and I initially knew the man I fell head over heels for online was the real deal. And yes, I did get a kiss after the end of the first date :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Communication...and Errors

One of the biggest things people in long distance relationships seem to struggle with is communication. To me, communication is one of the most important things to build a strong, healthy, and lasting relationship. Based on my mindset and the normal struggle of being half a world away, long distance relationships shouldn't work..but someone mine does.

I am very fortunate to have a boyfriend that can survive on very little sleep and one that loves talking to me (I think!). That 8 hour time difference doesn't seem so bad when I call him on Skype before I go to bed to have a chat about my day and say goodnight. Unfortunately for him, that little bed time chat falls somewhere between 4:00 and 6:00 AM, depending on how sleepy I am or how much I miss him.

Technology helps too..being able to stay connected throughout the day with Whatsapp, G Chat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Skype makes the distance feel smaller. Sometimes they close the gap so much that I forget we are in different time zones, different countries and different cities. When I get a text saying, "I'm sleepy, I think I might go to bed," I look in horror at the clock as it strikes 3:00 pm...and then slowly remember it is 11:00 pm in England.

The key for Tim and I making it work is just genuinely putting in a little effort. Send a text hello just because, make a call when you have a spare minute, and send pictures of what you are doing, wearing, and experiencing so they might feel a little closer. Today I ate lunch while I was working and used my lunch break to call him and have a chat. We didn't talk about anything too significant, just spent time laughing and catching up, and I know that it brightened both of our days.

That little extra effort of Tim waking up before I go to sleep to say hi, even if he goes right back to sleep after, really makes me happy and makes me feel connected to him. I don't need minute by minute updates, but it does feel nice having a bit more of an insight into the other person's day, especially when it is in a place that is foreign to you. (On a side note - I'm so happy I visited because now when he says he is going to the shops I can actually picture where the shops are!)

I'll admit - it isn't all roses and sunshine all the time. I don't know anyone where it is and I don't think I ever will. The biggest problem for me with long distance is tone and lack of communication.

Despite all the wonderful things about technology, it can be difficult to detect tone. My boyfriend happens to be a snarky, sarcastic man with his British sense of humor, and a lot of times that does not come across to me how he thinks it does. For me, I get short with people in two situations: when I'm busy/overwhelmed, and when I'm angry. A busy day at work can mean me being short with Tim and him thinking I'm mad at him. Or sometimes I am mad and I have to try to explain how I'm feeling written in a text with no tone and no facial expression, just words on a screen. I'm not the greatest at expressing my emotions all the time so that can be hard for me.

What I may consider as a "lack of communication" can just be him sleeping in, playing sports, hanging out with friends, being in a meeting at work, making a meal, or taking a shower. Without having a totally accurate clock in my mind of what his day is like I forget those things are happening and think he's over me for the day.

I talk a lot. He listens and talks back. We make it work as easily as we can and use all ways of communication to do so. For every hour of confusion and frustration each month I have hundreds of hours without it. That little bit of extra effort can go a huge distance, maybe even enough to bridge a 5,000 mile gap.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


One thing Tim has made me realize in the short time that I've known him is that I am a pretty solid human being. I'm sure he would be a little nicer and complimentary than that, but for me realizing I am alright is enough. I am nice, I am hard working, I am smart, and I'm pretty enough.

The 25 years prior I'm not sure I would be saying that. It would probably be more along the lines of - I'm not good enough, I'm not smart enough, and I'm not pretty enough. Sometimes those thoughts creep back into my mind..why does he like me? why am I not more successful? how can I change?

Change isn't a bad thing (depending on what it is of course!) and I have decided it is about time I change myself for the better.

I have been overweight the majority of my life. Always a little bit bigger than the other kids, I just always accepted it as part of being who I was. I kept being a little chubbier and was fine with it until I got to college. After an injury sidelined me from swimming and some emotional situations in my personal life I let it get worse and worse to the point I am at now. Luckily, I have a boyfriend who finds me beautiful regardless of my shape and size...but I have finally realized I can't use that as an excuse not to change. I deserve the healthiest version of myself so I can fully enjoy what life has to more fears of squeezing into a middle seat of a plane or not doing something active because I am afraid that I won't be able to do it. I can no longer hold myself back and be content. I need to get healthier. Tim deserves someone that he doesn't have to worry about. Someone he knows will be by his side for a long time in the future.

He also deserves a partner that can love him with every bit of their heart and put all of their effort into a strong, loving and healthy relationship. As much as I try to do that (and think I do a pretty good job, thank you) I know that the only way to give my all in my life and to him is to truly love myself. I need to sort through my doubts, my emotional baggage, and learn to be happy with all of me.

I have to start simple and am going to do it in a few ways:

  • Food - Eating simple, healthy meals and tracking it all - I admit some things are going to be "convenience" health food for now (microwave veggie steamers, anyone?) with the goal of eating as "clean" as possible once I am in more of a routine 
  • Exercise - Moving more, nothing fancy for now - walks, elliptical, stationary bike, weight machines and some at home workout DVDs. I want to get back into other things I used to do once I have a bit of my general fitness back - yoga, swimming, Zumba...and whatever else I may want to try!
  • Mind - Blogging is how I plan to start this area of improvement. My blog will be a place to relive old memories, a place to make new ones, and a place to open up about my challenges and my victories. 

I have tried this all before and failed but I feel like its going to be different this time for two reasons. By my side I am going to have my biggest inspiration of all, Tim (fun fact: he walked 15 million steps and lost 90 lbs!). The second part is me. I know I can do. I want to do this for myself so I can live my life to the fullest. I want to be free of worry, free of doubt, and free of hate.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Can't Help Falling in Love

I never knew that 140 characters could change my life forever. 

It all started with a blog. A blog that made me laugh, made me think, and inspired me. What I thought would just be an add on Twitter for some giggles and some motivation to change myself turned into the start of something I did not think possible. Tweets became texts, texts became calls, and calls became Skype video chats. It scared me how much I loved the man I had never met in person and felt I never deserved. On December 6, 2013, after nearly a year and a half since that first little tweet, we both took a leap of faith and he flew 5,000 miles across the world to meet me. Instantly I knew how happy we would be together.

Our addition to the Seattle Gum Wall from the first time we met
We spent those first three weeks getting to know each other and falling in love for a second time - this time in person. It sounded crazy to my friends and family; meeting someone on Twitter by chance, meeting up with them, officially becoming a couple, and learning how deep our love for each other went.

Love of my life
Since that first meeting almost 10 months ago I have been lucky enough to spend 9 weeks in person with the man I love. In that 9 weeks I have learned more about myself, love and life than I ever thought possible. This man makes me want to be a better person, not for him but for myself. He makes me belief in myself, has shown me that love really does exist, makes me want to be a better partner, and has been a light in my life that is finally helping me work through issues I can barely admit that I have. I don't think he even realizes how much he does for me but I hope he can sense how much I love and appreciate him. 

So here is blog #1 to keep track of this crazy journey I have been thrown into with one little tweet. I want a place to remember our adventures, deal with the inevitable changes in both of our lives, and a place to grow - for myself and for him.