Lost control of breath and heart

Mar 06, 2012


I find myself on the matt, rushed from traffic, breathless from worry. The room dims, the instructor’s voice soothes the atoms in the air. We breathe.

The class begins and we stretch, bending over yesterday’s beers and middle-age. We look up, grasping at the sky energy. We stand tall, then lean low, we breathe heavily.

I stoop in to child’s pose, catching my breath and my resting my body. The instructor, calm energy, strong voice, tells the class to rest. “If you’ve lost control of your breathing or your heart, take a minute…”

I’m fading in to my own thoughts at these words. “Lost control of your heart…” The words bounce around the vastness of my mind: a void of sorrow and contemplation. A light, dim at first, starts to shine the very edges of my thoughts. It is not just light, it is the sun. Hope washes over the cobwebs of winter, of poor choices, of indecision. Memories of a being a child, hopeful and independent, of a girl in Germany, of a strong spirit rush back in the void’s space. Suddenly I am strong for the first time in months.

I sit now in a hippie coffee shop. It’s the kind of coffee shop you’d go to after having an epiphany at yoga. I sit across a college girl with her hair in a woolen cap. A grandmother sits near us sipping her latte and writing on twitter. The walls are adorned with swirls of abstract art, most likely a result of a night of cocaine and vodka. I’m high just staring at them.

This space, the hippie place, the women on their laptops, the older gentlemen who just hugged a hello near the cash register: this is a place as familiar as years. I do not know a single person I’ve talked to today but we share this space, this energy, and a collective memory.

I’m heading to Nuremberg again on Saturday. This may very well be the single biggest goal I’ve had since I turned seven: Living in Germany. I will be there for a few weeks at this time with an apartment and a car. I will live like a local without knowing the language. I will walk to work, greet my co-workers with “Guten Morgan” and I will find my way through the market to purchase cheese and meat and wine. I will be alone.

I was recently told by someone close to me that independence is often misunderstood loneliness. Perhaps this is true. Today I find myself alone in a crowd of strangers, all of us breathing together or working together or sharing the mind-numbing art. I understand their language. It is familiar. It is comforting.

Without that comfort I will be isolated. But there are some dreams that make no sense, aside from longevity and a child’s idealistic mind. I go and show my own children how to capture life. They plan Skype chats, videos, and a possible trip to come see my apartment in Germany as well. My children will experience a world I coveted. They will walk to the market with me and pick out the meats and cheese and we will listen on the playground as German children run past my American youngin’s. I couldn’t be more excited, more petrified, more grateful. In this way I have lost control of my heart. The emotions that ruled the past half year or more come to a climax: Life, isn’t it funny? Because if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.



  1. Leslie, I am so excited about where your life is taking you.  Such a scary and unknown world, but more massive than you could have ever dreamed!  I know that through the challenges of this new venture, your family will grow stronger.  And YES, your kids are going to have experiences in these times that they will cherish.  Thinking of you as you transition to figuring out part time life across an ocean, but confident that if anyone can make this work, its YOU!

    By Marjorie Poff on 2012 03 06

  2. Did you move to Europe, Leslie?  My sister lived in that part of Germany for a few years. It’s beautiful!

    By Marie on 2012 03 06

  3. You are in Nuremberg for weeks? Surely this time we have to manage to meet up!! I’m there this weekend, but full of family crap and you’ll be full of jetlag, I imagine, but maybe sometime in the coming weeks? Munich is only just down the road, obv. 

    By Kathie Staub on 2012 03 06

  4. Wow. Wowee wow wow. You are so inspiring, smart and thoughtful. I’m so proud of you. If you ever need to vent, I’m über available (is that German, über? I only know one, well technically two, words n German but they’re not appropriate for a family blog). Love you so, xoxo -syd

    By Sydney Cole on 2012 03 07

  5. Actually, in that part of Germany, you’d say “GrussGott.”

    By Yo' daddy on 2012 03 07

  6. Ah, instead of GutenAben, right. GrüßGott is more common, but I did hear a lot of people saying gutenaben. 

    By Leslie Flinger on 2012 03 07

  7. YES! I plan on coming to München to visit Betty and you! 

    By Leslie Flinger on 2012 03 07

  8. No, I’m working for a company in Erlangen, though, outside of Nürnberg. I’ll be staying there and more than likely coming back to visit again. Hopefully frequently. smile

    By Leslie Flinger on 2012 03 07

  9. HAHA. über. Love you, lady. You always make my day. xo

    By Leslie Flinger on 2012 03 07

  10. And dad, you should come visit. Seriously.

    By Leslie Flinger on 2012 03 07

  11. Ha!

    Looks like you’re learning how German is really spoken there.  Tecnically, it’s “Guten Abend.”  But the people around there drop letters when it’s spoken and many grammer rules are just ignored.  The “der, die, das,” etc. definite articles are often spoken as just “duh.”  So instead of saying “Der Mann,” what you’ll swear they say is “Duh Mann.”  They know the grammer rules, mind you, they just don’t always use them.

    If you want REAL Hochdeutsch, go to Austria.  They speak textbook German almost everywhere.  After a couple of years in Bayreuth, when we went to Austria it was like hearing English.  The German was so pure and precise, it was very easy to understand.

    By the way.  Try to go to Bayreuth while you’re there.  It’s just up the Autobahn about an hour and a lovely place.  Your in-utero home.  grin

    By Yo' daddy on 2012 03 08

  12. Oh, and another common one is dropping the “e” at the end of the first person singular verb conjugation.  So instead of “Ich gehe nach hause,” they’ll say “Ich geh nach hause.”  Other parts of Germany recognize the accent one gets when living around there.  Kinda like when I say “y’all.”

    By Yo' daddy, again on 2012 03 08