April Secret Subject Swap - What People Teach Us

Welcome to April's Secret Subject Swap. Again 15 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  
Sit back, grab a cup and check them all out:

My subject is 

Throughout our lives we meet people that show us qualities we want to strive for in ourselves. We also meet people who teach us who we don't want to be. 

Who taught you the most about the qualities you wanted to strive for in yourself? What did you learn? 

What was the most important lesson you learned about who you didn't want to become?

It was submitted by Climaxed - thanks, Jenniy!

When I first started, my CEO / direct superior was a role model in everything Starbucks stood for: integrity, leadership, hard work, consideration, humbleness, you get the picture. He could be tough if necessary, but would always make sure people were OK. 
I knew he was an ex-pat and would eventually go back to the US or move on to his next international assignment, but I trusted the people who were in charge to hire an appropriate successor.

They didn't. 

He turned out to be self-centred, unethical person serving his own interests above every other. 

However he was smart. Smart as in sensing what the other person needed to hear so they would serve his purpose. Smart as in asking for your help to do the right thing - it took me a while until I noticed that this was just a deception in order to keep me busy and my goodwill afloat. Meanwhile he would go ahead and do what was right for him. Like hire an HR director behind my back and plant her right in front of my nose.

I was welcome to stay on board as her faithful subordinate. Also my fabulous work ethics, language skills and excellent relationships with the employees might be of further use.

Once I slept on it, I decided to swallow my pride and hurt feelings and to wait and see. Maybe that new person could actually teach me a thing or two, and my workload would decrease, and this would actually make my life easier. Also I love(d) SBUX and the people.


So she joined, and within no time everybody hated her and thought she was the evil HR witch from hell. I ended up spending more time at the office listening to everybody's complaints about her. Only I hated her, too.

Especially on that day. 

The day she fired me. 

Oh, wait. The day she wanted to fire me.
Only she couldn't legally. Because I was pregnant! Nobody knew at the office, I was in my 5th week or so and certainly didn't want to announce / jinx it. 

So we agreed to keep it confidential until I was ready to share, and I would quit as soon as the baby was born anyway.

I don't know if it took 10 or 15 minutes until the whole office knew. That's the kind of untrustworthy, self-righteous and deceitful person I certainly never want to become!


Now on to the positive part of this prompt. 

Let me start with A like Annette - yes, I'm in the A-Z spirit!

If you're a regular you have seen her around here. She's my Swiss friend who picked up and left for Canada in summer 2013. When they first arrived they were living in a RV until they found a house. Her hubby went to work building log homes, and she made things happen at the campground. "Summer home school" for her kids whose English skills were limited to "I like cookies" at the time. Today the girl speaks flawlessly and accent free. House hunting, pumpkin carving, laundry, cooking, she did it all on a couple of square meters. (Thank you, Canada, for using the metric system!)

Now that they're settled at their house she isn't sitting on the couch, watching TV and eating bonbons. Not Annette! She gets up as early as 5am to have breakfast with her husband, pack his and the kids' lunch boxes, get some work done in the garden until the kids are awake. (That's when an ordinary day starts for me.)

There are many things I love about Annette. She is down-to earth, warm, resourceful and - I know she's going to blush - has answers to every question. Once I wanted to grow tomatoes - she sent me instructions via text. Before I was getting started to make my first beer bread I consulted her on how to convert measurements of dry to fresh yeast. The only thing she couldn't tell me for sure is where to find a bear. I'll let it slip for once ;-)

Kidding aside, I think she rocks for following her dream and making it happen!

And it's not like life has gotten easier for her, now that she lives in the middle of the canadian forest:

Staufen, Switzerland 
  • We pay relatively little taxes, but we get stuff in return:
  • Mail is being taken to our house on a daily basis
  • When we need some eggs we can quickly walk to the village grocery store
  • For a major grocery run the next market is 5 minutes by car
  • Elementary school provides books and supplies
  • Trash is being picked up in front of our house weekly
  • Snow is being plowed between 4 and 7am to make sure everybody gets to work / school
  • Every house is "one the grid", meaning we all have electricity, gas, phone, cable pretty much at all times

150 Mile House, BC, Canada 
  • They pay loads of taxes that are basically being used to build / maintain roads (it's a big country, ey!)
  • Mail has to be picked up at the community center, 5km away, by yourself
  • Eggs and other common items can be purchased at said community center / gas station
  • For a regular shopping trip you'll have to drive a good 20 minutes
  • Elementary school provides a books and supplies list - you get to shop for it yourself
  • Trash has to be taken to the dump by yourself - 13 car minutes to get there
  • Snow? There is a lot of snow, and as mentioned, it's a big country, so she has to get busy with the 4-wheeler herself in order to get the road drivable.
  • Not far from their house there is a family who relies on their own power generator. Most families have emergency generators in case the power goes out

PS: Not only is she a mother, wife, cook, baker, gardener, snow plower, crocheter and many more things, come April 20, give or take, she will assume the duties of a vet and mid-wife and help Zinfandel, her Scottish Highland Cow, to give birth to her first calf! Respect!


Candice - she has been featured here as well - is about to pick up and leave as well. 

She knows the drill, though. Daughter of an Air Force Dad she went ahead and married an Air Force guy :-) Seven major moves she has mastered in her life. I didn't even ask about the minor ones. 

Can you imagine the continuos uprooting? Starting over, finding and furnishing a house, evaluating a school, making friends, finding a decent hairdresser…? Only to leave everything behind and start over yet again.

When we became online friends in 2012, her boy Liam was going to start pre-school, and she was pregnant with Kinley, oh, and they were about to move from CA to NM. She seemed to handle everything so effortlessly. How does one pack a house full of stuff with a super pregnant belly?

Candice - like me - likes to bake, only she doesn't have to submit her stuff to BakeFail!

We also share our love for St. Patrick's Day (actually we just recently decided to make March St. Patrick's Month, because one day clearly isn't enough!) and the Elf on the Shelf, and we both contributed to a link-up last season. 

In my next life I want to be a kid in her family. So much fun!

Unlike me, she is a champ when it comes to keeping her house tidy and purging! If I just imagine moving a family of four and a car to another content, I'm feeling sick. Where to begin? Candice has plan and sticks to it. And post her well deserved snacks on FB after all the work is done.

What am I talking about? By the end of this month they are coming to Europe! Mark, her husband, has an assignment in Stuttgart, we are going to be a 2.5 hours' drive apart, exciting!


Manuela is a fellow Hockey Mom and mother of seven - this alone makes her my hero! 

And as if she hadn't her hands full with her own children, on some days she even has more hungry souls over for lunch! Lasagna for 13 people? No problem.

160 Easter bread bunnies for school? Sure thing!

A while ago her whole family caught a nasty stomach bug. Can you imagine the laundry? The sleepless nights? The level of exhaustion? Even though she claimed that she wanted to quit, she didn't lose her sense of humor. Or her energy. That's why her nickname is Duracell Bunny:

I'm not done yet. She also throws crafts supplies parties and sews! One would think she'd be busy enough dressing her own kids, not Manu, though. She was the nice lady who made Colin's beloved pumpkin fleece sweater:

Now, sit down for a minute and let it all sink in… 

What are you thinking? Her kids must be running wild, the house is a mess, bills remain unpaid, and she's probably an alcoholic? 

Think again! 

I haven't met all the kids (they're busy, you know), but the ones I have, look in your eyes and say hello. Every young person has a parking space for their backpacks, jackets, shoes, rollerblades, you name it! 

When we shared a grocery order at junkfood.ch (don't ask), a few days later the money was in my account - and the only beverage her eyes are glazing over? KoolAid!

Meet Manu aka Snow White, her seven dwarfs and some of her activities!

What? What do you mean, she's not in the picture? You are totally right, she tried to trick me. 

Can you say aaaawwwww?

Now am I lucky or what to count these awesome girls to my friends? 

I guess the thing all three of them are teaching me in their own way is 

"home is what you make it"

Happy Easter everyone, relax and enjoy!