The hardest goodbye

I’m now one week away from the big move. I’ve been spending the last month trying to get ready. Figuring out what to bring, what to save and what to give away or sell, this is the easy part, however time-consuming. The hard part is having to say goodbye.

On Friday I had a get together to say goodbye to my friends. We had some beers and talked and had fun, and even though I once in a while looked around at everyone and realized how much I´m going to miss them all, it was pretty painless. I know they´ll be there when I come back and that we´ll keep in touch even though we´re far apart.
Today I said goodbye to my 15 month old niece, and I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the pain I’m feeling right now. It’s two hours since they left and I’ve been crying a quiet gut wrenching cry ever since. She’s my only niece, and while I’m not usually a baby person, I was ecstatic when I found out my brothers girlfriend was pregnant, and I cried when I got a text telling me that she had been born. Since then I’ve been fortunate to have spend a lot of time with her. She’s this little wonderful person, she’s so curious and smart and has a smile and laugh that’ll light up a room, and she just loves her aunt. I can’t wait to see the absolutely amazing woman that she’ll grow up to be, and I think that this is exactly why this goodbye is so much more painful than any other. Come next Sunday I will say goodbye to my parents and three younger brothers, but I don’t worry about being away from them, we can talk on Skype and catch up on Facebook and emails, and when we visit nothing much will probably have changed since the last time. With Freyja it’s different, sure I can see her on Skype and she can see me and as time passes we can even talk, but I’ll miss all the little stuff and I fear that she’ll forget me, and that when I’m visiting the connection we have now will be gone, that I’ll be just another visitor. And that thought breaks my heart, and all I can think is “I don’t wanna leave, I wanna stay here with her.”
But I have a life to live and a man I want to be with, and unfortunately in order to do that, I have to move to the other side of the world, and I have to say the hard goodbyes. I hope that time will prove me wrong and the goodbyes will just have been ‘I’ll see you laters.’

 

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Time to pay it forward – The Liebster award.

About two moths ago I was nominated for the Liebster Award by one of my favorite bloggers, Molly from The Move to America, and for those two months I´ve felt guilty for not having had time or energy to do anything about it. Then a couple of days ago I got nominated for another Liebster Award, this time by Ruminations from an Introvert, so I figured that this is the perfect time to pass the torch. On a funny side note, Ruminations from an Introvert was one of the blogs I wanted to nominate two months ago.

The Leibster Awards is a way to share the blogs you enjoy with your blogging community and hopefully build a bigger following.

If you´re nominated and choose to join, the rules are as follows:

  1. Link back and recognize the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Share between 5-10 facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 5-10 other blogs you love that preferably, but not exclusively, have under 200 followers
  4. Notify your nominees.

 

The facts I have decided to share with you are:

  1. I am a mono-tasker. At least I try to be, I usually get stressed when I have too many things occupying my mind and time, and on top of that I have a tendency to only be able to focus on one thing at each periode of time, sometimes I listen to music all the time for a month, the next I read or watch movies/documentaries, then I´ll be really interested in politics, then in psychology for a month and that´s what I spend the majority of my free time doing.
  2. I have a Photography blog called My Subjective Objective, I haven´t updated it in about 6 months though because I´ve been so focused on getting the Visa.
  3. I used to be a Roller Derby girl with Copenhagen Roller Derby, and I plan on starting again when I get to the states next month.
  4. I´m the most extroverted introvert I know. I´m definitely an introvert, but I have a lot of the qualities of an extrovert as well.
  5. I´m pretty existentially restless. I´m always on my way somewhere else. This used to frustrate me a lot, but fortunately I´ve eventually accepted this as my way of life and come to enjoy it.
  6. My body doesn´t absorb vitamin D the way it´s supposed to, which means I don´t have the energy level my brain thinks I should have. Very often I get tired just thinking of doing something, even things I really want to do.
  7. I like to watch shitty movies. Mostly really sappy chick flicks, Christmas romance movies and pretty any movie with people dancing.
  8. I laugh easily and often.
  9. I love music. Punk rock is what´s closest to my heart, but I also love 50´s and 60´s rock, opera, classical music, and 80´s pop rock classics (and even some pop music… shh don´t tell anyone).

Here are my nominations:

  1. Quintessentially Kris
  2. be.love.live.
  3. the Daily Scraps
  4. The Fight of my life
  5. Kat North

 

Getting ready for the Visa interview – Everything I wish I had known in advance. Part two.

One of the most daunting things about applying for a Visa is not really knowing what to expect from the process. I, for one, would have felt a lot more confident if I knew what was going to happen. So in order to help others in the same situation, I´ve decided to make a step by step guide based on our experience.

In this part I´ll write about the documentation I got, what it looked like and how I got it. I´ll also tell you about what worked and what didn´t so hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. The way it´s divided into subcategories was how I organized everything. Some of it worked really well, and some almost caused me to make a huge mistake that would most likely have meant that I wouldn’t have gotten the Visa.

Brace yourself, this is going to be a long one.

My main mentality while getting the documentation was to get everything I could think of. I asked myself “What would be your concerns regarding approving the visa” and I would think of documentation that would make those concerns go away. For Instance, my fiance is a disabled vet currently finishing his degree in GIS, a concern could be: Right now because of VA education benefits he has an income, however there´s a record high unemployment rate in the states at the moment, what if he doesn´t get a job after finishing his degree. How does he intend on supporting the both of you? To counter this concern I had brought a list of currently available entry level jobs in his field. Of course this was completely unnecessary, they never asked for it or even looked at it, but my philosophy is that I´d rather have something and not need it than not have it and have them ask for it. I recommend that you do this as well. Get ANYTHING you can think of that might be even remotely relevant. What you have to remember is that for everything they want that you don´t have, the longer you have to wait to get the visa (and I assume that there´s a greater chance of getting a rejection as well, but that´s just my guessing).

And make sure you have evidence to prove anything, that your words never stand on their own. The thing is that your words don´t count for a lot if they don´t have documentation backing it up. Rather your case should be able to argue itself, without you explaining anything.

Well, now you have a bit of background information to tell you about why I´ve included documentation they didn´t ask for. Now it´s time to get down to the basics of it all. And remember all documents must be in English.

Economy:

This is what the statement from the bank looks like.

This is what the statement from the bank should look like.

  1. Statement from bank: You need at statement signed by a senior officer of the bank showing your present balance, date account was opened, the number and amounts of deposits and withdrawals within the last 12 months, and the average balance during the year. Most likely your bank will tell you that they can´t get this information for you. Depending on how your net banking works you should be able to copy paste the movements in your account statement to an excel sheet and get the information yourself, it might take you  a couple of hours depending on the number of accounts, but then all you need to do is email it to your bank manager and get him to check it, print it and sign it. If your bank turns out to be as non cooperative as mine, then this procedure will save you a lot of time and grievances. Make sure to point out that you need everything signed and on official company paper, you´d think that this is a given, but apparently it´s not.
  2. Statement of transfer of funds: Basically I wrote that I intend to keep my current account, set up a new one in the states and use internet banking to transfer funds back and forth. Signed yours truly.
  3. Statement from pension company: This one is called `Statement from insurance company´, it should show policies held, and present cash surrender value. In my case the closest thing was my pension savings.  Here I encountered the same problem as with my bank, so what I did was call them up and told them what I needed, I then suggested that I got the numbers from them, wrote the statement in English, emailed it to them so the only thing they would have to do was check that the information was correct, print it, sign it and mail it to me… Worked like a charm. Turns out that people are very cooperative when you suggest doing their job for them.
  4. Statement from employer: Or `Proof of income´. Since I have both salary that will be paid after the interview as well as vacation pay for the rest of this year and the next, I got my employer to find out exactly how much I have coming and then I wrote it in a statement and had my boss check it, and sign it.
  5. Estimated pay-slip: This is the documentation that shows that the numbers that´s on the statement from my employer is correct, it´s in Danish so I needed a written statement in English as well.
  6. Pay-slip July and august: Proof of my income until I quit my job and move. Just in case
  7. Calculation of expected savings: I made this in excel. The savings in my statement from the bank is hardly impressive, but since I have a lot of pending income, I decided that this would be the easiest way to visualize what I was expecting (obviously all the numbers are documented in the previously mentioned documentation). This proved to be extremely helpful to since the lady at the interview actually asked me about it. She took a quick look at it and was satisfied. Definitely helped prove my case

 

About me:

  1. Birth certificate in English: In Denmark you can get it at your local church office, I don´t know how it works in other countries, but it was very easy to find out online. Make sure you bring the original English version, NOT a copy. I made that mistake. I brought a copy and then the original Danish birth certificate just in case they wanted to see it. They needed the original English which I had left at home. I still got the visa, but I had to send the original when I got home.
  2. Passport: If you get the Visa they will take it and send it to you along with the visa and documentation, if you have to go to a different country for the interview (I had to go to Sweden), remember to bring a copy so you can come back home.
  3. Police certificate in English: In Denmark you get this at any police station, obviously this has to be the original as well.
  4. Copy of driver’s-license: I actually don´t think this is necessary at all, but I read a blog about someone getting asked for it, so I thought better play it safe and bring it. And now you´ve read about it here and will probably bring a copy of yours, it´s a never ending spiral.
  5. Certificates of finished education: You know just in case they asked about how I would find a job or something… ok, I admit it I might be slightly paranoid.
  6. Proof of residency: I don´t know if this one is required or not. It said in the appointment letter to bring your Swedish ID (Personbevis) to prove civil status and residence in Sweden. Well I´m not Swedish and doesn´t live in Sweden, but I figured that the same applied to Denmark. So I applied my basic philosophy and brought it.

 

Mike:

  1. Birth certificate
  2. Copy of passport
  3. Affidavit of support
  4. Statement from bank
  5. Proof of income
  6. Statement regarding tax free income: You need to submit a notarized income tax-return, but since VA benefits are tax free, Mike wrote a statement including documentation as to why he hadn´t included the tax-return.
  7. Change of address: Mike moved to a bigger and better apartment that´s big enough to comfortably fit the both of us, obviously there needed to be documentation of the change of address. If I had written the new address on the forms as my future address and every form that he has previously submitted has the old address, they would probably have found that highly suspect.
  8. Degree Progress: To prove how far along in his studies he is.
  9. GIS job listings: Just my general paranoia, I should probably mention that Mike really went above and beyond in order to get me any far out thing that I thought could maybe be thought to be slightly helpful, maybe in a worst case scenario kind of way.

 

Future in-laws: I think all of this is pretty straight forward.

  1. Affidavit of support
  2. Statement from bank
  3. Statement from employer
  4. Notarized income tax return

 

Medical: This is sent to them automatically, and they never asked about it at all. But by now you should know my philosophy on the matter: Bring it just in case. Remember that the envelope containing the CD with the x-rays must remain sealed.

  1. CD with x-rays, do not open!!!
  2. Vaccination documentation worksheet
  3. Receipt medical examination
  4. Receipt X-rays
  5. Questionnaire

 

Appointment letter, forms ect.:

  1. Appointment letter: This has to be easy accessible as you most likely have to show it the security checkpoint at the embassy.
  2. Receipt of Visa application fee payment: I wasn´t asked to show it before I handed in the documentation, but they recommend that you keep it easy accessible.
  3. Checklist: Copy of the one you sent to get the appointment, of course they won´t ask for it but if they do, you want to have it. Same goes for no. 4, 5 and 6.
  4. DS-230 part 1
  5. DS-156
  6. DS-156K

 

The original K1 application: This they didn´t ask for but, surprise surprise, I found that it´s a good idea to bring everything regarding the case (And I actually think they recommend it, so not just my paranoia this time).

  1. I-129F, Petition for alien fiancé(e)
  2. G-325A, Biographic information
  3. Declarations of intent
  4. Letter of petition approval
  5. I-797, Notice of action

 

Evidence of relationship:

Mike eating stegt flaesk med persille sovs, or as he calls it the giant magnificent bacon

Mike eating stegt flaesk med persille sovs, or as he calls it the giant magnificent bacon

This part along with the financial documentation is the most important. However they only looked at the photos and boarding passes, but I made sure to mention that I had the other things as well. One thing I intended to do, but didn´t get around to was to write a short capitation on each photo, explaining the situation, especially if only one of you is on the photo (Mike with my niece, mike with my friends, Mike at the Lego store, Mike eating stegt flaesk med persillesovs).

This turned out to be really important since I got asked twice if I had any kids referring to the photos of him and my niece, and the screenshot from a Skype chat with him, my mom, my niece and me, that I included to prove that he had met my family. Better not to have any misunderstandings like that.

  1. Photos
  2. Letters
  3. Skype log: The original copy-paste was 300 pages, I cut it down to 18.
  4. E-mails
  5. Facebook conversation log: Just like the Skype log I edited it down to about 20 pages. They don´t need to see everything, they just need to make sure you´re not a mail-order bride (or groom).
  6. Facebook screen dumps
  7. Boarding passes and tickets

 

Additional documents: I brought additional documentation in Danish to back up the financial statements, just in case they would question their accuracy.

Copies: I brought copies of most of the documents, absolutely no need to do this. If you feel a need to have copies of important documents that you might need in the future (you´ll need to apply for permanent residency once you´re married) just leave them at home. And I´m pretty sure that they will send any documents they keep to you along with your visa and passport, at least that´s what the lady told me.

You also need to bring stamps so they can send the Visa to you. You most likely will NOT be able to buy them at the embassy. The amount differs from country to country, I had to bring 350 swedish kroners worth, that´s roughly 60$ (if you live in Sweden then you only needed 150 kr´s worth).

 

So what worked and what didn´t?

Somewhere along the line I made the decision to make a list of what I needed, to get it out of my head. That decision was probably the best I´ve made in the entire process. It was able to remove a lot of the stress that comes with trying to remember everything and being really scared that you won´t. And there´s the added benefit of showing your progress in a very easily understandable way. A definite must.

The order of the documents worked really well when it came to staying in control while getting all the documents, however it did work poorly at the interview. What you want there is to put all the financial stuff in one pile. As you can see I had 3 different piles; One with my financial info, one with everything regarding Mike, and one with my in-laws info. This meant that I almost forgot to hand in the affidavits of support.

This is how I would do it now:

Pile 1: Appointment letter and payment receipt.

Pile 2: Documentation about me.

Pile 3: All the required financial documents

Pile 4: All evidence of relationship.

Pile 5 to ?: Everything else.

I used sub-divided each pile into smaller piles using paper clips and used the post-it thingies you can put in books ect. to mark what was in each file, that made everything a lot easier to find.

 

Well I think that was just about it.

In part three I´ll go through the Interview process. I´ll tell you about what to expect when you arrive at the embassy and the order of business once you´re inside, what did they ask and what were their concerns. I´ll also let you in on my experience waiting along with all the other hopeful applicants.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or experiences that you´d like to share, feel free to comment.

Getting ready for the Visa interview – Everything I wish I had known in advance. Part one.

One of the most daunting things about applying for a Visa is not really knowing what to expect from the process. I, for one, would have felt a lot more confident if I knew what was going to happen. So in order to help others in the same situation, I´ve decided to make a step by step guide based on our experience.

  • First things first, obviously you need to file the application. I´m a bit iffy on this one since my fiance was in charge of doing this, but there are some forms to fill out (I-129F, G-325A), letters of intent to write and you need to pay an application fee. All of this, as far as I remember, is pretty straight forward.
  • Now you wait. Once your application has been accepted you get a tracking number, so you can keep track on the progress of your application. We filed in mid to late March, and until July 27th it said `initial review´ so basically you´ll need all the patience you can master. In this phase I recommend you either relax and enjoy life, or prepare for the next phase. Also make sure to enjoy this phase, you might not think it while going through it, but this is the easy one.
  • The letter of approval arrives. This is where ecstasy kicks in. There will be joy, jumping up and down and insanely optimistic Facebook updates, this is natural. You get the notice of action (I-979) by letter from the department of homeland security, this letter informs you about the decision they´ve reached. Hopefully, like us, you get approved. This means that they will forward the application to the embassy or consulate relevant to the case, in our case it was forwarded to Sweden. After a week or two you get a letter from the embassy with instructions on how to proceed.
  • The letter from the embassy arrives. Prepare to be shocked, well at least I was, but I hope that reading this will prepare you. Check out my previous blog posts on this here, here and here. But if you´re in a hurry, here´s the short-cut version:

– There´s a checklist where you check off the things that is relevant to you. This is what they ask for (Remember that not all of it necessarily applies to you): Passport, Birth certificate, Unobtainable birth certificate, Police certificates, court and prison records, military records, 3 passport photographs, marriage certificates/divorce decrees, evidence of support, medical examination, evidence of relationship and translations.

– There are 3 forms that need to be filled out, one twice (DS-230 part1, DS-156, DS-156K)

– Instructions about the medical examination including a list of embassy approved physicians in your country. Besides the examination, you´re also required to get chest x-rays and blood tests and most likely some vaccinations. How many you need depends on a number of things like which ones you already have, your age and the time of year (is it flu season), I ended up only getting one. This part is fairly expensive so remember to have money set aside for this. You also need to fill out a questionnaire about your medical history including any hospitalizations (When, why and where) and any diseases EVER (not including children’s diseases and common colds and flu´s). You need to know type of disease, duration and name and address of attending physician. This might be a good time to catch up on good old childhood stories with mom and dad.

– There´s an information guideline regarding your financial situation, including an affidavit of support with instructions. Unless you´re a multi-millionaire, you might as well get used to the idea that you´re going to need one or more sponsor(s), basically this means someone who promises to take care of you if you´re unable to support yourself. Your sponsor can be anyone residing in the United States. To be on the safe side, I have both my fiance and my future in-laws as sponsors.

I think this is all that´s in the information package, but don´t lean back just yet, this is not even close to all the information you have to get, read more about this in part two.

You should be aware that there can be major discrepancies between the directions given in the papers from the embassy and the ones you can find online, even when it comes to official directions about really important stuff like what documentation you need for the affidavit of support.

Once you´ve gathered all the documentation needed, you send the checklist, a copy of your passport and the forms to the consulate, and they will send you an appointment letter with the time and date for your interview. You don´t have to get the medical examination before sending this, but you do need to get it, I think, at least 2 weeks before your interview.

Remember that if you submit your email, you´ll get your appointment letter a lot faster.

One of the things to be prepared for is that while you get a long list of what you need to submit, you never really know exactly what they want. The instructions given are not very specific and if English is not your first language it can be especially difficult to navigate. In part two I´ll write more thoroughly about what documentation I got, what it looked like and how I got it, so hopefully you´ll have an easier time preparing for your interview. In part three, I´ll go through the actual interview process.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or experiences that you´d like to share, feel free to comment.

The big day

I haven’t been updating for a while. Getting ready for the visa interview has taken all of my energy, and whatever precious spare time I’ve had has been spend decompressing. But in the next week or so I will backtrack a bit and tell you about what happens in the final stages of getting ready for an interview.

But today I have something entirely different for you. Today I’ll let you know how the interview itself went. That’s right today was the day I  were to find out whether my dreams would come true or my heart would be broken. 

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been really nervous. Well scared might be a better word for it. I’ve been so scared that they would find some small (or big) thing that we would think insignificant, and that would be the end of it. You hear so many stories of people being turned down, about people who have to wait a really really long time, and about people who just don’t make it. Who end up throwing in the towel because of the stress this process puts on their relationship, or are forced to live in a country home to neither of them. You hear these stories and you think what makes us different from them? 

Fortunately it turned out that we didn’t have anything to be scared about, we got the Visa. That’s right we freakin got it 🙂 I don’t know what made us succeed where so many others have failed. Maybe it was all my hard work that payed off, maybe it was the present memory of 9/11 and Mike being a vet. Maybe it was the look on my face when I told them about how we met. Or maybe we just got lucky and the lady was in a good mood.

So how goes it feel. Honestly I’m not really sure yet. I don’t really think it has sunken in just yet. I mean I’m happy and once in a while I catch myself with the biggest grin on my face thinking about it, and there were poorly containers tears at the embassy when the lady told me the visa was approved. There were tons of jumping up ad down and hugging my friend Annette who was waiting outside the embassy. But after that was was mostly a weird vacant feeling. I’ve spent the last months with constantly having some pressing matter to attend to, and all of a sudden it was all over. And I found myself not really knowing what to do with myself. But every 30 minutes or so it hits me and I turn to Annette and say something along the lines of “Hey, do you know what just happened today?” she’ll say “No” and I’ll say “I just got a visa!”  “Really” she’ll say, “I don’t think you told me that, when did that happen?” Some variety of this conversation has probably happened 10 times in the last couple of hours.

Today is the morning after and I still feel like this. You’d think that an event that’s going to be so entirely life altering should leave you with a more profound feeling afterwards. But I know it’s only natural, that some events are just too big to fathom.

Right now I’m on vacation, I’m enjoying a couple of well deserved days by myself, with nothing on my to-do list but relaxing. I assume that once I get back and start a new to-do list to organize the moving and saying goodbye to friends and family, it’ll slowly start to sink in. But i don’t think it’ll really hit home before I’m there with him with all my stuff, just going about living every day life. Then one day a couple of months in we’ll look at each other and say “Holy shit.”

Marriage advise that I now have and hope I will never forget.

I read an article about motivational speaker Gerald Rogers´ marriage advice in The Huffington Post today. I read it and immediately turned to his Facebook profile to read more. He wrote the piece on July 28th and since then it has been shared more than 350,000 times.

In my opinion there´s nothing about this advice that we haven´t heard an million times before. But coming from a guy who´s not only recently divorced, but who is also incredibly emotionally eloquent and brutally honest about his own short-comings as a husband. His sadness and despair is so present in his writing that it speaks directly to the heart of anyone reading it.

So today I´ll join the choir of believers, and can admit that I for one, would do well to remember these things from time to time. A lady wrote on his wall that she and her husband had printed the advice and had put it on a mirror so that they would never forget. I thinks that´s a great idea, after all what could be more important than taking good care of your relationship, married or not.

While I think that on a whole Mike and I do pretty well on this front, I also know that our future holds a great deal of potential problems. The nature of our relationship is such that no matter where we live, at least one of us will always be very far from family and friends, one of us will always have to adjust to a culture that, might at first glance seem similar, but in reality can be very different (I´ll probably write more extensively about this at a later time).

His advise is written from a mans perspective, but I believe that at it´s core it is gender neutral, and applies to women as well as men.

 

MARRIAGE ADVICE I WISH I WOULD HAVE HAD:

Obviously, I’m not a relationship expert. But there’s something about my divorce being finalized this week that gives me perspective of things I wish I would have done different… After losing a woman that I loved, and a marriage of almost 16 years, here’s the advice I wish I would have had…

1) Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.

2) PROTECT YOUR OWN HEART. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.

3) FALL IN LOVE OVER and OVER and OVER again. You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else or seal you out completely, and you may never be able to get it back. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.

4) ALWAYS SEE THE BEST in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love, and you know without a doubt that you are the luckiest man on earth to be have this woman as your wife.

5) IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CHANGE OR FIX HER… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.

6) TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.

7) NEVER BLAME your wife If YOU get frustrated or angry at her, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. They are YOUR emotions, and your responsibility. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.

Allow your woman to JUST BE. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.

9) BE SILLY… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.

10) FILL HER SOUL EVERYDAY… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel like a queen.

11) BE PRESENT. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.

12) BE WILLING TO TAKE HER SEXUALLY, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.

13) DON’T BE AN IDIOT…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.

14) GIVE HER SPACE… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered, and to find herself after she gets lost in serving you, the kids and the world.)

15) BE VULNERABLE… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fears and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.

16) BE FULLY TRANSPARENT. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know i she will like what she finds… Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.

17) NEVER STOP GROWING TOGETHER… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is if you stop working on your relationship. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.

18) DON’T WORRY ABOUT MONEY. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.

19) FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.

20) ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.

In the end MARRIAGE isn’t about Happily ever after. It’s about work. And a commitment to grow together and a willingness to continually invest in creating something that can endure eternity. Through that work, the happiness will come.

Marriage is life, and it will bring ups and downs. Embracing all of the cycles and learning to learn from and love each experience will bring the strength and perspective to keep building, one brick at a time.

These are lessons I learned the hard way. These are lessons I learned too late.

But these are lessons I am learning and committed in carrying forward. Truth is, I LOVED being married, and in time, I will get married again, and when I do, I will build it with a foundation that will endure any storm and any amount of time.

If you are reading this and find wisdom in my pain, share it those those young husbands whose hearts are still full of hope, and with those couples you may know who may have forgotten how to love. One of those men may be like I was, and in these hard earned lessons perhaps something will awaken in him and he will learn to be the man his lady has been waiting for.

The woman that told him ‘I do’, and trusted her life with him, has been waiting for this man to step up.

If you are reading this and your marriage isn’t what you want it to be, take 100% responsibility for YOUR PART in marriage, regardless of where your spouse is at, and commit to applying these lessons while there is time.

MEN- THIS IS YOUR CHARGE : Commit to being an EPIC LOVER. There is no greater challenge, and no greater prize. Your woman deserves that from you.

Be the type of husband your wife can’t help but brag about.

Love letters

By Vibeke

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a long distance relationship, or what kind of toll it takes on a relationship to go through the Visa application process? This post consists of two emails we sent to each other a couple of days ago. Ive been reading them a couple of times in the days that has followed, and I think that they give a really good sense of the emotions at stake, as well as show how we deal with it.

Hey Darlin´ 🙂

First off, thanks for the links 🙂 I haven’t looked at them yet but I’m sure they’ll help a lot, thank you for doing that for me 🙂

Second, I’m sorry for last night. I’m very emotional at the moment, and it doesn’t take a lot to rock the boat, unfortunately you suffer for it. I know that we’ve been through worse and that our shoulders are wide enough to bear it, but I still feel bad about taking my stress out on you. I also know that getting the Visa means just as much to you as it does to me and you’re doing everything you can to help at this point, I’m sorry for sometimes forgetting it and not giving you enough credit for everything that you do.

Third, I am feeling a little better, but I’m still not great 😦 The sinuses are better, but mostly it’s just the stress and feeling tired, down and on edge. But I’ll be fine… At some point 😉

Fourth, regarding the bachelorette gig…  I was fine, I wasn´t feeling fantastic, but I was happy to help and I did get some experience photographing events like that, but I have to admit to kinda regretting agreeing to do it, with me being sick and all 😉

Fifth, next chat… Yeah it occurred to me as well that we didn’t set a day for the next chat. Sunday and Monday both work for me, so it up to you and your going back to school schedule 😉 I’m thinking that I might be more relaxed Sunday, but you’ll probably have more to tell on Monday and need Sunday to prep… Don’t know which is better :-/

Sixth, I don’t think I told you, but waking up yesterday and finding little love notes everywhere (mail, fb and twitter) was really lovely, it absolutely made my day and made me feel very loved ❤ even though I’m usually too stressed/busy to reply at the moment, getting those small signs of affection really makes a huge difference in my day.

And it was especially nice that you posted something on twitter, for one thing it was completely unexpected and a huge surprise, but it was also very nice that you were taking part in that 🙂

Seventh, sounds like you have a nice day planned with John. I hope it’s going to be awesome for you, say hi to him and Amy for me 🙂

Eight, hmm I don’t actually have any more to write but I was at number seven and it would just be so cool to get to ten… God damn it :-/

Ninth, I think I might have decided on a dress for the wedding. I’m not 100% sure yet, but I’m pretty excited about it 🙂

Tenth, I love you and miss you so much. I miss holding you and cuddling with you so much that just thinking about it and writing this is making me tear up. I think maybe that’s a big reason why I’m so on edge at the moment, that the distance seem to be over soon and at the same time it feels like I can’t wait even that short of a period. I need to hold you so badly that it literally hurts and I don’t know how much longer I can take it…. No worries though, I’m still in this till the very end 😉

I love you with all my heart and soul :-*

Hello Darlin’ 😉

I’m back home, and getting ready to put some laundry in, unpack the kitchen so I can get some dinner later, and get prepped for classes. Well there are many other things to do too, but rattling off my whole list is boring. But before all that, an email to you. is the first thing 🙂

For the links, hey no problem, I just hope they help 🙂 And as for your second, I know your emotional right now, (you and me both) and I understand darlin’. Thank you for letting me know how you´re feeling about it. It means a lot to hear you say you know how much this whole process means to me and how hard I work at it. It really does mean the world 🙂

It’s good to hear your starting to feel better. I hope you are getting your rest and get back to feeling ship shape in no time. Feeling blah sucks 😉 Sorry to hear that the bachelorette gig wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. I still look forward to hearing about it.

I mentioned in my email last night that Monday is prime time for chat time 🙂 it’ll rock.

I ‘m glad you liked the notes 🙂 You deserve them, and even though I really didn’t know what I was doing, I still made sure one got up on twitter. I don’t know why but I have some sort of complex about posting on that site, but for you I’ll do it 😉

Hanging out with John rocked, we played cards with the guys for a while, went out and got pizza afterwards and then just chilled back at his house for a while. We were gabbing the whole time, it was awesome to catch up. Today I spent a little time with the fam, helped dad out with fixing some drainage in the back yard and caught up with Matt and Miss. It was nice to hang with them a bit before school gets running.

You might have your dress you say!? Awesome! Are there rules against me seeing it before wedding day? I dunno, that’s your call, but whether I get to see it before or on our wedding day, I’m sure it is lovely and you will look beautiful in it 🙂 That is awesome news darlin’.

Ten, I know darlin’. I miss you too. Everyday 😦 I know I don’t show it, but I’m feeling the hurt of being so close to having an answer for the visa and I’m feeling the pinch of you and me being so close and yet still so far away. I’m not fond of the stress it brings me, but I did some thinking on it and want to share:

Moments of action. That’s what I call them, I’m not sure if it’s an accurate name, but it’s the best terms I have to describe those special moments in time. Moments that we have waited for, or moments that mean so much that lives are changed by them. Some are small and not so dramatic while others are huge. I know them in the form of being a child and waiting for Christmas, waiting for a movie to come out, approaching a vacation, or battle. It’s any point in time that one has to wait for, where it seems so simple and easy at first, but as we get closer to the actual moment, time seems to stretch out like an accordion. Minutes become hours, hours become days, and days turn into weeks. All the while the mind runs at normal pace and pressure builds on our shoulders. These moments can be positive like waiting for presents, negative like waiting for the enemy, or a mix of both. Some of them carry both fear and hope all at once.

But no matter what form a moment of action comes in, none of them are easy, and composure is something that I have always had to actively try to maintain. I can remember battles where as we waited for that moment, all I wanted to do was run screaming as far away from that point in time as I could. I wanted to be safe, and never face the unknown of a future beyond my fear and that mind rattling stress and terror of what could happen if things went wrong. But, I couldn’t. That’s not what needed to be done, so instead I held. I held until my mind was screaming so loud I was deaf, until my knees shook so hard I thought they would shatter. I held until I couldn’t hold any more, and then I kept on holding fast. And that was my trick. I was never fearless, I’m not a brave man, but I’m determined and strong willed. So, at every second that I thought I couldn’t hold on anymore, I just focused on breathing and asked myself if I thought I had one more moment in me. I always did, and once it passed I always had another, because why not. If I could give one then surely another was there too. And it dawns on me that this is how I’ve always handled moments of action, on step at a time, moment by moment until it’s passed. I break them down. So, while I am not a strong man, I do have strength. I have strength not because I’m brave, but because I won’t run. I control my own life and although stress and fear will plague me, they are no more my master than any person is. I am my own master.

Right now, I’m stressed. My thoughts come in torrents like stormy tides assaulting a shore. I feel the twitch in my nerves and see the shake in my hands. It’s only a slight tremble, but I can see it as clear as if it were seizure. Deep down inside I’m afraid. On some level I’m terrified. The biggest moment of action I’ve ever known is approaching and I know it. I feel small in the shadow of such a moment, I feel alone and just want to be held by you. I’m scared. But it’s only natural, Hell, I’d be worried if I wasn’t stressed and scared. But, no amount of fear, what if´ing, or stress can rob me of my senses. I’m an old dog at the terror game, and I know how it works. It gets you second guessing, breathing shallow, stressing and on edge. I can’t stop from stressing or being afraid, but I can control it because I know some things that fear can’t over ride.

I know I’m a strong person when I have to be, and I know I have to be now. I know we have prepared for this moment as best as anyone can ask us, and I know we will continue to prepare. I know we are well within the boundaries of what is asked of us to get this Visa, and I know it shows. I know that they will ask questions and that we have answers. I know we will be ready, because I know that the only thing that has changed between June and now is this: 1. We are going to be together permanently before the end of this fall. And 2. Stress is fucking with our heads right now. That’s why we are edgy.

But the big thing I know, the one big thing that stops the fear and stress in it’s tracks is, I know I love you. I know I love you with my whole heart, and will do anything for you. So, let this moment of action come, let the visa interview approach. It won’t change a god damn thing, it can only change how it gets done. I will live my life with you, to cherish you, hold you, bring you laughter, and love you unconditionally. There is nothing anyone walking the face of this world can do to stop me from loving you. What they decide for the visa will be what they decide (I honestly believe it will be a yes), but that changes nothing about my feelings and intentions. Come hell or high water, we shall be together. But I know it won’t come to such dramatic measures, because it’s only stress fucking with my head. Deep down I feel our paper work will met the specs, our finances will be fine, and the interview will end with a yes and a visa in the mail. And if I’m wrong, then we correct whatever small thing it is that holds us and still get you over here in time for our wedding.

So, I know I don’t always show it but this visa gig weighs on my mind too. I only hope my determination provides some comfort 😉 And no matter what, I love you and we will be married.You are the perfect woman in my eyes, there are non like you, your one of a kind. I will not be giving you up so long as there is breath left in my body. Falling in love and loving you is everything to me. I hope this finds you still awake, but if not then it will wait till the morning 🙂

I’m think about you Veber’s :-*, and getting things ready for your arrival 😉 Rest easy darlin’, have a great day in the morning, and know that I love you with every fiber of my mind body and soul ❤

A never ending emotional roller-coaster ride

By Vibeke

I just realized that it´s been 2 weeks since my last Visa application related post. Wow, time flies by when you´re having fun… I wish.

The truth is I haven´t been having a lot of fun lately, let me just try to get you up to speed.

On the 7th I got word back from the embassy that I´m scheduled for the interview on Thursday September 12th. The interview is in Stockholm but I already knew that (and if you´ve been following us, so do you). What I didn´t expect was that the on going list of Visa application expenses keep getting longer and longer. Long story short, another $500 has been added, which was a bit of a chock. Another and far more concerning chock was the realization that I apparently have signed that I already have in my possession the documentation needed….

Here´s the thing… When you get the papers from the embassy, there are a lot of papers, forms and rules that you have to read, fill out and understand. The outcome of the application is going to be the single most important thing in your life, maybe just short of you being born. When you receive it obviously you´re going to be very excited, but you´re also going to be very stressed out by the overwhelming number of things that you have to do and remember. So when the time comes where you realize that you only have to send a couple of forms and a copy of your passport, you´ll get so relieved that you put the pedal to the metal and haul ass to get it on the way. That´s what I expect you´ll do, cause it was exactly what I did, and now I´m scared to death that the officer, I have the interview with, will deny the visa because of this small slip.

I´ve mentioned in previous posts that we had fooled ourselves into thinking that the rest of the process would be easy, that we were past the frustrating part of waiting for an answer. But now I see that that part was actually the easy one. The not knowing and waiting was frustrating, yes, but it has been replaced by fear and stress. Fear that some small mistake will be the end of it.

The stress comes from trying to get all my ducks in a row, booking plane tickets to go to the Interview, getting time off work and booking a hostel. I´m collecting documents, and depending on others to understand the importance of getting things to me in a timely fashion (not to mention signed by a senior officer and in English), and constantly remembering stuff that I had forgotten, and hoping that I didn´t forget anything crucial. Even though everything so far seems to be going according to plan (well besides that one little slip), it´s getting to the point where I´m even stressing in my dreams, hurrying to get somewhere, and waking up exhausted.

And it´s not just me, as my wonderful husband to be, wrote in this post, it´s not easy for him either and sometimes it feels like the only thing we talk about is visa related stuff.

But fortunately it´s not all bad, there are some really awesome things that has happened:

I went for the medical examination and got my X-rays taken earlier this week, and everything is in order. I even got out of there with only 2 needle marks in my arm. One from a blood-test, and the other from the only vaccination that was age appropriate. As you may remember, I was expecting to get at least 7 vaccinations, but I ended up only getting the MMR, which paradoxically was one I was sure I didn´t need, since I´ve already had all the diseases. But it turned out to be cheaper to get the vaccination that I didn´t need, than it was to get the blood-tests to prove that I didn´t need it. On top of less needle marks, this turn of events also meant that almost $650 less got shaved off of the expense account.

We found this awesome website, that magically released a huge part of my stress. One of the major stressors have been that I had no idea what to expect from the interview. I didn´t know what they were going to focus on, how long the interview was going to take or what to expect from entering the embassy (might seem silly, but the thought of entering a Fort Knox like building with armed guards was really freaking me out).

My friend is coming with me to Stockholm, she can only stay for one day and probably can´t enter the embassy, but she´ll be there when I get out. I didn´t think I needed it, but the thought of having her there to either celebrate with me or to comfort me if things go south, really makes a world of difference.

We have finally set a date for the wedding and decided where we want to have it. Obviously nothing is set in stone yet, it´s hard to set a date when you don´t know when, or even if, you´ll be allowed in the country. If all goes according to plan I should be in the states by early/mid-October, so we´re planning the wedding around thanksgiving in the Smoky Mountains. When I visited him last fall, we went to the Smokies for a week, so it´s a special place for us, and with the exception of the hostel court-yard in Barcelona, I can´t think of a better place for us to say our I do´s.

 

Don´t forget to follow us on Twitter for regular updates of all the small and big stuff.

Smell you later

The daily prompt: Smell you later

Wearing the T-shirt he left for me, incidentally it´s the one he was wearing when he dropped down on one knee and proposed to me shortly after this photo was taken.

Wearing the T-shirt he left for me, incidentally it´s the one he was wearing when he dropped down on one knee and proposed to me shortly after this photo was taken.

When Mike left the last time, he left a t-shirt for me. It´s one of those things we do. It started as a coincidence after his first visit in December where he accidentally forgot one, finding it a couple of days later in the laundry basket was the greatest thing ever. So after his second visit in March, remembering how wonderful that feeling was, I snuck one of mine into his bag for him to find when he got home. When he left this time he did the same for me. I found it when I got back to the apartment after saying goodbye at the airport. In the beginning smelling it caused severe pain, it reminded me that he was no longer here and how much I longed for him.

It´s 6 weeks later and the smell has faded, but not completely gone. Every night when I lay down to sleep, I cuddle up with it and the smell instantly takes me back to wrapping my arms around his waist and putting my face in that little corner where his shoulders meets his neck, slowly drawing his sent in while I close my eyes, kissing him right there in that lovely place and feeling his arms around me. The memory doesn´t cause pain anymore. Instead it puts a big smile on my face and makes me reconnect with my ever growing love for him.

The Unequality of Distance

By Michael

In this past month or two a lot has been happening with Vibeke and me in regards to our visa for marriage.  Just the other day we got more news; we got a date for her interview at the American embassy.  In about a month we should be going through last step in getting the visa (fingers crossed).

This got me thinking.  Although we are in this process together, our experiences with it are not.  You see, in order to get the visa, the US government has to examine our lives, finances, and evaluate our sincerity to marry.  At first glance it seemed that our parts to play in this would be equal, and as much as I feel they should be, that has not turned out to be the case.

I feel that I have had the easier path to walk in this endeavor.  Thanks to being a citizen and former solider of the states, almost anything anyone would ever want to know about me, is already on file somewhere with the government.  This meant that, outside of the initial forms, there has been almost no direct follow up on my end.  Beyond those forms, I’ve found a larger apartment for us, found more income, and prepped myself as best I can to make her transition to the states as painless as possible.  But, that still seems trivial compared to the more active role she has to play in the process.

While I share the stress of waiting for a determination, and my half of the costs in the vaccinations and fees, there are defiantly more hoops to jump through and stressors in this process for her than there are for me.

In the end, she is moving her whole world for me.  Everything she knows as routine, straight down to every daily comforts she has in her life.  She is moving everything an ocean away from friends and family, for me.  I feel guilt over this, even though I know I have nothing to be guilty of. Every day I wish I could trade places with her and be the one to go through that.  I wish I was the one with the harder part to play, but things didn’t work out that way.  In a few years, I may be the one in that position as our plan is to move back to Copenhagen once I get some work experience in my field, but that doesn’t make it equal now.

So, here is the take away lesson from our experience.  Whether you are the one moving or the one someone is moving for, things won’t be equal at face value.  Unless you’re one of the lucky couples, at distance, who can physically be there with each other during a transition like this, one of you will have more work to do in the process and the other will have guilt.

I don’t know how heavy that will strike your emotions as a reader, but if it does strike an emotional chord, don’t fret it’s not all bad.  While sometimes it sucks to be the one with a less active roll, it does give you plenty of time for wonderful feelings too.

To share some of that, I invite any readers to be a fly on the wall while this last bit is addressed directly to Vibeke:

Darling, I know I tell you I love you at every chance I get.  I know I tell you I miss you and have you on my mind.  But it’s so much more.  You could probably figure this, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared it, I day dream about you constantly.  I dream about you, us, and our future.  No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’m actively dreaming about our life together.  Not just remembering the past but fantasizing of what the future holds for us.  It feels a little awkward to be a grown man talking of an activity that we think of children doing, but I can’t help it, I day dream of you.  I think of this coming fall and your arrival, of marring you, of the holidays.  I dream of walks in the cool autumn air holding your hand, seeing you smile and hearing you laugh.  I dream of waking up next to you every morning and falling asleep next to you every night.   I am constantly reliving all the moments we have had and dreaming of the ones to come.

Somehow, I don’t think that telling you ‘I’ve got you on my mind’ conveys that.  What I should say is, I every moment we are apart, I’m dreaming of you and when we won’t be apart anymore.  I’m a romantic at heart, and while I don’t think that will win me any awards for stereotypical manliness, I don’t care.  I love you, with all my heart.  I know the visa process is more intensive for you than it is for me, but I want you know that I I’ll never forget that and I don’t have words powerful enough to tell you how much it means to me that you feel I’m worth all the headache.  Falling and being in love with you has brought such joy into my life, I know that my daydreams, as wonderful as they are, will be just a shadow of how fantastic living our lives together will truly be.  Vibeke, my love, my muse and keeper of my heart, I dream of you every day.  This song is for you.