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October, 2008:

Wednesday Gratitude

As we make our final preparations to come home tomorrow, I am filled with gratitude. Here is my list for this week!

  • For the ability to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a matter of hours
  • For the kindness of complete strangers in foreign lands
  • For people’s desire to find more positive ways to express their feelings
  • For apple streudel
  • For the European train system!

I am very excited to get home tomorrow, so my next post will be from the good old U.S.A. See you soon!

Receiving Random Acts of Kindness

Anyone is capable of cynicism. We can all have days when we are disgruntled and down and have a hard time seeing the good in people. However, if we pay attention, there will come a time when our faith in the goodness of people is restored.

Now this may not sound like a big deal, so I will begin by putting these events into perspective. My family and I have been in Germany for a little over a week. Most of the time we have spent with our tour group. The time we have spent on our own, we have relied on my limited German vocabulary and the kindness of the German people. It is still a little scary being somewhere that the language is unfamiliar, the customs are different and you have no frames of reference for where you are. Neuschwanstein CastleOn the day our group visited the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle, we had tickets to attend the Bayern Munich soccer game. Neuschwanstein is about 2 hours from Munich and the game started at 3:30P.M., so we knew it would be a logistical challenge. However we found out that we would be travelling to the castle early in the morning and that the town of Fussen was close by and had train service to Munich. Problem solved.

After a tiring day of travel, figuring out where to switch trains, etc. we finally arrived at Munich’s central station. Not being sure where to go, I’m sure the three of us looked like a group of confused kids on the first day of high school, wide-eyed and vulnerable. Fortunately a young man saw us and asked where we were going. After explaining that we were headed to the Bayern Munich match, which he enthusiastically approved of, he pointed us in the right direction, hopped on the train with us, got off at the next stop, and disappeared.

Next as we stood blankly staring at the ticket distribution machine, we were approached by an older gentleman who calmly explained how to purchase an all day family pass for half the money we would have spent had he not helped us.We were finally able to reach our train and arrive at our destination on time, excited, and ready for a wonderful afternoon of soccer.At the Bayern Munich GameAs we settled into our seats to enjoy the game, we were able to completely immerse ourselves into the experience. The crowd was singing and chanting, the stadium was beautiful, the weather was sunny and nice. When the half time whistle sounded we realized that we were hungry and had to go to the restroom.

As at any other sporting event in the world, the concession stands and bathrooms were packed at half time. The girls headed to the toilet and I got in the refreshment line. We hadn’t eaten all day, so this was important business. It seemed like I had chosen the slowest line possible but I was able to keep my cool. When I finally got to the front I confidently placed my order in perfect German. However I was rejected. Apparently at Allianz Arena, the only way to make a purchase is to use a “stadium card” which is sold outside. For a second I was completely dejected. Not only had I spent the entire half time in this line, I would receive NO payoff in the end.But my disappointment only lasted a second.

Apparently the lady ahead of me in line was paying attention to my situation. She stepped up to the machine and told me that she was going to cover my charge. I tried to pay her in cash, but she wouldn’t accept it. I was absolutely blown away.

Three times that day complete strangers in a foreign country came to my aid. Three times. When I think of how many times I have gotten impatient or frustrated with someone who didn’t understand me or held up a line because they didn’t understand English it makes me sick. This story will forever be a reminder to me that there are always more sides to a story than I can possibly be aware of. It will also remind me to be quicker to offer my help. This day had a serious impact on my perspective. I hope it helps you as well.

B.T.W. Bayern Munich won on Saturday 4-2, it was a great day! Auf Wiedersehen!

My 40th in Germany!

As the years fly by, my birthdays have certainly lost some of their significance. Not in a depressing “ain’t it awful” kind of way, but in an “it’s just not as exciting” kind of a way. I am grateful to be forty. I think it is a wonderful “milestone” age. Spending my birthday in Germany makes it that much cooler. Spending it in Germany with Wendy and Shelby sends it over the top.We have had a tremendous amount of fun. We began our journey in Heidelberg. It was a fabulous city, albeit a bit touristy. We took a 15 mile bike ride to the town of Ladenburg in which there were no tourists. It was fun to venture off on our own. This tour is called  “Once Upon a Fairy Tale”, so as you can imagine we have experienced various activities that support that theme. We have toured three castles so far and been to many of the locations that the brothers Grimm used as an inspiration as they gathered tales from all over Europe.Experiencing the culture of this beautiful country has certainly widened my perspective. I have committed myself to stretching my levels of emotional comfort and a trip like this certainly accomplishes that goal. As our journey continues, I am looking forward to the further broadening of my perspectives.

Wednesday Gratitude

As I said last week, I will be posting a list of things I am thankful for every Wednesday until Thanksgiving. Thank you Tia, again, this is a wonderful idea. Tonight I am sitting in Rothenburg, Germany, a very beautiful city, filled with gratitude. I am grateful:

  1. That I live in a time and in a country that hasn’t experienced the devastation that many places have
  2. That all over the world our men and women who serve our country hold their heads high with pride
  3. For bratwurst
  4. For the time I spend with my wife and daughter
  5. For the opportunity to make my world a little smaller

We’re Here!

We,the Stonebraker family, arrived in Germany at about 9:ooam local time on Friday. Since the time difference is six hours, we were pretty tired. Despite our exhaustion, we managed to have a wonderful first day. 

We are currently in Heidelberg, which was about an hour drive south from Frankfurt. The only thing I had previously known about Heidelberg was that my Uncle Jack was once stationed here. It is actually a beautiful town on the Neckar River. There is a large castle that overlooks it and a ton of old architecture. One great feature of Heidelberg is a walking area that is filled with shops and small cafes. We spent our first day wandering around this area, it was a lot of fun. That night we ate at an unbelievable restaurant called Wirstshaus zum Spreisel.The hotel clerk told us this place is a local favorite, nothing touristy about it. It really was fantastic.

I will post more as we go along , there is a lot to describe.So far it is an amazing experience. The people have been wonderful and very patient with my sub-rudimentary German skills. Keep checking in, I’ll have much more to say. For now I am pretty tired and ready to call it a day. After all, we did take a 15 mile bike ride today!(more to be shared later.)

Auf Wiedersehen!

Wednesday Gratitude

I am joining a friend who last year started a Wednesday Thanksgiving countdown.We are posting 5 things we are thankful for. What a wonderful idea that I am excited to participate in! So here is my first list…..

  • My beautiful wife and daughter, they provide me with joy, security, and happiness
  • My strange pets. They are a ton of fun and…………well, strange!
  • This magnificent state of Georgia
  • My ability to communicate,  my passion is expressed through this gift
  • The autumn breeze, I love the change of season!

Thank you for the suggestion. This will be a wonderful reminder of what is important. Will you join us?

Great Responses

Thank you to all who responded to the last post! Hopefully all of you read each other’s responses, I found all of them interesting. Sandra helped me a lot by replacing “instill” with “nurture.” As a parent, my role is to nurture my child’s growth. I love that and thank you.

As I am acclimating to the European time zone, I have much more time to reflect. I am unbelievably excited about this upcoming experience. To be able to share it with my wife and daughter is the best part. Having never left the continent, I am looking forward to noticing the differences between home and Germany.

I will post as often as I can while we are away( pictures and all), it will be fun to share with all of you. In the mean time, check out what this blog will look like. It is active but we are in the process of moving this content over. I don’t know how that works but I trust the process!

What a Joy

Two nights ago I had a workshop in Alpharetta, Georgia. The workshop was on the limiting beliefs we hold onto that sabotage our relationships and ten techniques that will change ANY relationship. The entire night was awesome.

Everyone who attended was involved, engaged, and ready to participate. As a facilitator it was truly a joy to not have to pull teeth to make progress. What that showed me was that everyone there was motivated to better their lives and improve their relationships. In other words how they treat people and themselves is a priority. How about you ?

Tell Me What You Think

I would love to hear your opinions on a couple of questions. Comment and read other’s comments. 

  1. What quality is MOST important to you in a spouse?
  2. What quality do you believe is most important to nurture in children?
  3.  Which of your relationships provides insight into your definition of happiness?
  4. What defines success for you TODAY?

To help out, here are my answers:

  1. Honesty
  2. clear and compassionate communication skills
  3. my relationships at home
  4. mental clarity

Have fun and feel free to share this with others!