I Am Not Anne

When I was a young girl, my favorite book was Anne of Green Gables. I loved reading about the adventures and mishaps of Anne, an eleven year old orphan who’s adopted by two elderly siblings. She isn’t wanted at first, but eventually moves in with the Cuthberts and changes life in the small town of Avonlea quite a bit. With her very open and curious personality she falls into a few traps along the way, but somehow she always manages to win people over. No mater how selfish, bitter or traditional people are – Anne finds ‘kindred spirits’ everywhere.

I have always found Anne’s character quite appealing, considering the fact that she moves into a very tight-knit community. Everybody knows everyone in Avonlea, and everyone is somehow related. This comes with the usual conflicts and gossip: once you do something ‘wrong’ (which basically means something different than traditions) everyone knows about it. And everyone is entitled to have an opinion on it.

Anne doesn’t care. She does things differently, ignores rules, or revises old traditions. She confuses people with her extroverted character and ideas, but in the end she brings the community closer together. People suddenly help each other out and care for each other.

Grandma’s place reminds me a lot of Avonlea. A small village in the middle of nowhere where everyone knows everyone. There are conflicts and there’s gossip. There’s one right way to do it, and a lot of confused stares and hushed comments if you do it differently.

There’s close community and a lot of help, too. You can call people anytime if you need homemade food, farming supplies or practical help. People reach out and are willing to care about each other. My Grandma and my mom as well are used to simply picking up the phone and calling for help. They have no problem walking into other people’s yards.

They are at home there.

As much as I enjoy Grandma’s place I realize it’s not my Avonlea.
When I was there a few weeks ago Grandma asked me to pick up some honey from the neighbor. “You can walk through the backyard”, she said.
I really wanted to.

Instead, I stood there and hesitated.

Unable to walk through the yard I realized that I know of people, but I don’t really know them. I am not the kind of person who just walks into people’s yards and lives. I am not the kind of girl who turns others into ‘kindred spirits’.

I am not Anne.

I have had my shares of adventures and mishaps (and I hope I’m not done yet!). I have walked into cultural traps and caused more confusion than understanding. I have felt unwanted and lost in tight-knit communities.

And yet I have discovered that there’s more of an Anne inside of me than I thought.

I do have a way to look at the world that some might call daydreaming, idealistic, or naïve. I call it finding beauty in the mundane. With the right mindset you can see past the worries, pain, and problems life so often throws at us.

I do clash with people’s mindsets and opinions because I sometimes do things ‘differently’. But it’s such a blessing to see how others live and think – why don’t we learn more from each other? And more than that, why don’t we practice caring about and for each other?


Most of all, I did and do find ‘kindred spirits’ everywhere. It normally happens when I least expect it. At a friend’s birthday party, on my way home from work, in a comment below a blog post.
‘Kindred spirits’ who have traveled the world, who have lived in different countries and fell in love with several cultures at the same time.

Who know what it means to feel lost and want to belong so badly.
Who do things ‘differently’ and yet don’t want to give up themselves.


Who might be afraid to walk through the neighbor’s backyard, but would have no problem finding a place to stay on any continent.

Who have discovered that our Avonlea is bigger than one geographical location – it can be found whenever we let each other in on the new, weird, exciting, exhausting experiences life might bring.

[#write31days] Day 22 Boundaries at Home

Welcome to Day 22 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

Saying NO to the people closest to you – your family – is probably the hardest. But saying NO doesn’t mean cutting off all ties or breaking off relationships. Setting boundaries means to change relations a little bit for the better.

22aHonor Your Parents but Don’t Be Your Parents
As I grow older I am especially intrigued to see how the relationships to my different family members change. My parents – the heroes who took care of me and my little world – are fellow adults with normal problems, normal jobs, and normal joys. My siblings – little kids I used to read to and feed – are now grown up with own lives, own apartments, own opinions.

Even though we have no problem living and acting as adults every day we seem to undergo a strange transformation as soon as we enter our parents’ house: we once again become children with our specific role within the family. May it be the caring eldest one, the rebellious middle-child, or the spoilt last one. I guess we can never fully escape our roles, but maybe we can learn to break free from certain limitations these roles bring.

Yes, we are supposed to honor our parents. We follow their advice while we live with them, and many times I still appreciate calling my mom about a recipe or relationship advice or doubts in my faith. Does this mean I have to do everything they say and talk to them every night? No.

Yes, we should invest in the relationship with our parents, we have the chance to gain wonderful friends with them. Does this mean I have to listen to every single problem of my parents? No.

Yes, we should love and care for our parents since they have taken care of us for a long time. Does this mean I have to be my parents’ marriage counselor and fix their relationship problems? No.

Honoring your parents can mean to say NO sometimes. Allow yourself to get some distance and love them still. Allow them to take responsibility for their lives and actions. Being there for each other does not mean taking over each other’s lives and problems.

Sometimes we also have to say NO to brothers and sisters, who expect us to solve their problems. We don’t say NO to them or our relationship. We say NO to a certain behavior that renders them helpless and us pressured.

Move Out and Move On
We are all born into families to parents and siblings we can’t choose. For a certain number of years they take care of us and teach us everything we need to know about life. But then it’s time to move out. Part of growing means cutting ties with home and creating your own home. Some can’t wait until they finally have their own place, others really struggle.

Cutting ties with home is far more than just having a new address in a different town. I guess especially as a student you feel like in between as you don’t have your own family yet, but you don’t fully belong with your parents anymore. This in-between stage somehow keeps us from becoming our own people, making our own decisions, even though they might not always be what our parents might envision.
Moving on doesn’t mean cutting all ties. We will always be connected to our family and eventually we’ll just add more people to the family by getting married and having children.
22bNevertheless, we need to create a life of our own. Instead of going home every weekend we need to become comfortable in our own four walls. Make it cozy, decorate the way you want. Make it a home you enjoy coming back to.
We need to make our own decisions. We all appreciate our parents’ advice, but sometimes it’s all on us. Our names on the papers, our money at stake, our final say. Growing up comes with a lot of burdens, but also freedoms. Let’s accept both.
We need to take responsibility. Don’t cry for Mom and Dad as soon as a problem arises. Experience the joy that comes from persevering until the end and growing along the way.
I guess many of us can say that moving out has changed a lot in the relationships with home. Mostly for the better. We meet as fellow adults. Whenever we get together, we focus on the precious time, the important things, the blessings.

Of course it’s not easy saying NO to the people closest to us. We don’t want to insult or upset anyone. Yet love and care do also mean honesty and courage at times. Setting boundaries does not kill relationships, it refines and redefines them. They help us to enjoy our families again.

How about your family? Are there areas where you need to say NO to parents or to siblings? Do you have to cut some ties with your family and actually move on?