March in Latvia

March was full of small joyous moments. In between them, I felt uncertain and sometimes empty, and that’s okay – it allowed me to enjoy the following brightness. The first two weeks were very active, while the second two: not so much. 

First week (01 – 06.03.2022)

On the last day of February, I gave Olena a spring bracelet (martenichka – a bracelet made from twisted strings of white and red yarn Bulgarians give each other on the 1st of March every year for health). On the next day, I brought the spring bracelets I made to the Youth House and gave one to all of my colleagues and to Elina. They like them and spent most of the month with them. <3 I asked Elina to tie mine on, and I decided to take it off on the 7th of March. 

On Wednesday, Dagnija brought a cake for Diana’s name day, which was the previous week. 

On Thursday, Jekabs, Diana, and I began the Open Stage event planning with the first meeting. We listed what needs to be done and asked the Youth and Student Councils for volunteers to help organize it. After that, there was a lecture on the link between body modification and mental health. Jekabs translated the whole event for me, it was interesting. I also tried what’s it like to work with a tattoo needle.

Somewhere during the week, I got myself a meal box! Finally! 😀 Latvians eat lunch around 2-3 and that’s awfully late for me, but the working times are also difficult for me to adjust to without food, so I can now bring it with me and eat when I’m hungry. Yay! I also did some serious spring cleaning – I found out that I enjoy cleaning once a week. 

On Friday, I think, Elina had her first Bulgarian lesson with me. We had one almost every week in March, teaching her how to read, write and ask for bundles of money 😀

Saturday I went to Riga. While waiting for my bus to Riga, I wrote some short poems in Bulgarian. I met up with Livio and Alrun, who were on my on-arrival training, and their co-volunteer Paul. We walked around Riga, and talked to each other, in the evening Paul invited some friends to the Airbnb we stayed at. Party time! One of Paul’s friends had his birthday on Sunday, so when I was going to bed at 4 am, I translated one of the short poems I wrote, wrote it out on a piece of paper, and gifted it to him. I’m grateful I got to spend the weekend with them. The next day we walked around some more, found a neglected Jewish monument, and talked about how our countries’ educational systems handled the past oppressions and wrong-doings and how currently Bulgaria has a sort of ethnic separation. 

Sunday, the 6th of March, was Sirni Zagovezni – a Bulgarian holiday, where we ask forgiveness of our elders, and they ask it of us. On my way back to Liepaja, I called my mom, my grandma, and my dad. I chatted with each of them a bit. When I got back, I went on a walk and watched two more episodes of the “Just between lovers” k-drama with Jekabs.

Second week (07 – 13.03.2022)

On the 6th, I got invited on yet another date by the guy that asked me out in December. I was trying not to discuss this, but it got to a boil on the 16th of March. This guy has no concept of boundaries and is unable to take ‘no’ for an answer – I already turned him down via text and in person a few times. On Monday, I replied with a very direct message, telling him how uncomfortable he is making me feel with how he’s trying to shorten the distance and his persistent wish to take me out on a date when I’ve told him I am interested neither in dating nor in him. I asked him to stop inviting me to hang out. He responded a week later, on the 16th, with an attempt to twist the truth by being condescending, and even acknowledged he was trying to step over my boundary and take me out on a date after multiple rejections. Somehow, he didn’t mean to make me uncomfortable by forcing his wish on me?? I felt mad at how disrespectfully he acted towards me and blocked him because people like that do not get to enjoy my attention. 

On Tuesday, Woman’s day, I presented a few options for youth mobility to the Youth and Student Councils of Liepaja. It went well, and I noticed how stone-faced Latvians are, which made it difficult for me to gauge their interest in what I was saying. Elina later told me what to look for in terms of body language (forward leans, no phones in their hands, looking at me/the presentation). One of the guys from the Youth Council gave each girl a tulip for the holiday, including me – I felt flattered he counted me in. I also translated and posted a poem I wrote in February. After the presentation, I played the board game Pandemic with some of the participants and Ance. In the evening, I went on a walk with Jekabs to the beach, where we found benches to lay on and look at the stars. The light pollution in Liepaja is very little, so all stars are visible on the beach! 

On Wednesday, there was another cake in the YH – to celebrate women’s day. It was tasty! In the evening, I got talking with a new friend about spirituality and pleasure practices, which got me hyped. After that, Jekabs brought me with him and his friend to an indoor skate park, which got me even more hyped!! I finally did an ollie (jumped with the skate) after about 10 years of inactivity in this extreme sport. I missed the feeling of freedom the skate gave me. Jekabs fell and sprained his wrist, I was doing the more boring things as I didn’t want to hurt myself 😀 We finished the night at Miezis, the bar, chatting away – the guys asked me to speak in Latvian if I could. I’m so unsure whether I want to learn this language… I feel like my passion for learning languages has died down a bit after Dutch (which, granted, I learned for the wrong reasons) and I don’t know if I want to revive it.

I had so much energy on Thursday that I painted half of the big bathroom in the YH myself! I am scared of doing the ceiling as I have to be on steps, and there is nothing I can grab or lean on for support. We’ll see if I’ll manage it when I get to it. As every Thursday, I posted a new chapter of Confessions of a woman in love.

My mom got me to teach my brother English, which I have no clue how I’m going to do. We had our first class on Saturday, where I tested how much he already knows. This week, I was working hard on keeping my emotions regulated and focusing on what I want. 

On Sunday, Elina and I had a 4-hour meeting, where we discussed my strengths and weaknesses and she asked me to do a SWOT analysis of myself. 

Sometime this week, I think, Ance and Dagnija interviewed the new volunteer – I didn’t participate in the selection process, which I feel is a shame since I will be living with them for 8 months. As I listened in from a distance, I didn’t get a great feeling about him, which could have also been because I was already worried about who will he be and felt excluded from a decision that affected me directly. Aand I didn’t say anything because I didn’t really feel like it – I was practicing trusting the universe.

Third week (14 – 20.03.2022)

On Tuesday, I gave Elina a Bulgarian lesson – she is picking it up rather quickly, which gives me so much joy!

On Wednesday, Ance, Diana and I went to Nīca for me to present the same Youth Mobility Opportunities presentation I did on the 8th. The girls were talking to each other in Latvian both on the way there and back; the youth, for the most part, were uncomfortable talking to me in English, so I ended up doing my bit and sitting on my phone while Ance and Diana answered questions. I miss being able to understand and eavesdrop on conversations, even when I can’t participate in them. And I still don’t know if I want to learn the language – I would if I knew I wanted to stay in Latvia after my year is off, but I don’t think I do. I understand enough for my daily survival but not enough to be social, and I love meeting new people. 

The next day, we began organizing the Open Stage at our first meeting with the volunteers from the youth and student councils. After it, I hosted a Board game night, where some new people showed up, and we played Mysterium (Jekabs and I had finally figured out the rules), Saboteur, and Pandemic. On Saturday was Liepaja’s birthday, so there were light installations throughout the city from Thursday to Sunday. 

On Friday, I had my mentor time with Elina, then went around the installations with Jekabs to look at the installations until I got cold, so we only managed to see half of them. Saturday was a very chill day, I gave my little brother an English lesson and relaxed the rest of the day. 

On Sunday, Jekabs and I went on a walk and looked at the sunset before finishing the walk across the installations. 

Fourth week (21 – 27.03.2022)

Another week of teaching Elina Bulgarian and I even lured Jekabs into learning it as well!! 😀

On Wednesday, I asked my Latvian teacher for the basic grammar because the phrases she’s been giving me weren’t sticking. She obliged, which was great, and I spent most of the week organizing my notes and the grammar in a way that made sense to me.

On Thursday, I think, I finished the big bathroom in the Youth house on my own. Take that fear of heights! I am so grateful for loud music and for my long arms 😀 I had asked Jekabs to spot me when I’d get to painting the middle of the ceiling, but as it turns out, he didn’t have to as I could reach it even leaning on the walls. 

On Friday, I virtually met my new fellow volunteer – a guy from Italy, Manuel. Dagnija asked me to send him a video of the apartment and gave me his number. He is very chatty and seems cheerful, we had a good talk. We texted quite some in the following weeks and hung out on video chat. I like him, hopefully, we’ll still find each other pleasant and interesting when we do meet in person. 😀 Let’s see what living together will bring! 

On the weekend, I prolonged my stay in Bulgaria for one more day – I’ll be home from the 16th to the 26th of April to celebrate Easter with family and catch up in person with some friends. 

On Saturday, the Youth House had an orienteering game planned – [Ka]VIENS ([As]one). I was at a checkpoint with a local volunteer: we told the participating teams to do a quiz and braid a rope braid. It was nice, excluding the piercing cold wind. After that, I gave my brother an English lesson, which I didn’t really want to do. The evenings were spent watching Just between Lovers with Jekabs on Saturday and Sunday evenings. I introduced him to frozen pizza then 😀 

Fifth week (kind of, 28 – 31.03.2022)

The 28th was my mom’s birthday, so I wished her a happy birthday before I checked in on people’s progress on the Open Stage planning tasks. I felt a bit bummed I wouldn’t celebrate with my mom even though I had the day off. In the early afternoon, I went on a walk with Jekabs, after which I took some fun pictures at home 😀 

On Tuesday, I went to my first ceramics workshop! Ance arranged for me to join the weekly ceramics and sewing classes, as they are some of the activities the Youth and Children’s Center Liepaja offers. I am so excited to learn how to sew!! I made a mug and a candleholder, which looked like this before they were baked in the kiln. Here is the teacher’s Instagram: @cynthia_lasmane – she is also a visual artist, she has cool things: 3

The next day, I went with Ance, Diana, and Jekabs to see the venue for our Open Stage in May. That got me excited about being on stage myself, so I began looking for a dance to cover or a song to which I could choreograph something. 

The weather this week got very cold – it was snowing on the 29th, 30th, and 31st. Just as I was getting hopeful that it was warming up. :/ So, my social life was mostly at home 😀 

I ended the month with a book by a Latvian traveler and coach Becoming Human Again – it was interesting, a relatively quick read. She talked about getting to know herself and her spiritual journey. At some point, I felt triggered by her sharing how she’s always compared herself to others and didn’t feel enough. It’s not that I don’t understand where she’s coming from. I got frustrated as so far, I haven’t seen anyone confessing how they knew their own worth since they were kids but felt they should undervalue themselves to fit in with everyone else. Even when others refused to play with me as a child, I felt sad for what they were missing out on – I’m awesome. I’m a mirror for others and I see everyone’s unique light, therefore, I have never felt the need to compare myself to anyone. Jekabs held space for me to talk out this frustration of mine, Ance also asked if I’m good and even stayed to listen. After that, we had an Open Stage meeting, checking in with people on how they were doing with their tasks. 

Emotionally, mentally, and spiritually throughout the month

I’m tired from Latvian classes, but after I finally got the basic grammar down, I am a bit more motivated to start speaking here and there, which I did throughout the month.

I learned that I can somehow, unintentionally, astral travel?? I feel like I got so tired of inner work and decided to step back, however, my guides were like ‘nope, now we’ll do it for you while you sleep, so you’ll feel tired as you don’t want to do the work consciously’. This loving torture went on for most of the month, so I also felt tired most of the month – at some point I was choosing to ignore my feelings in an attempt to rest. It didn’t work. 

This month I didn’t write much as I felt tired and depleted, as if my light was gone. I know I go through such periods, but they always sneak up on me and make me feel sad, apathetic. I even missed a few days at the beginning and end of the month from my gratitude journal. These periods are necessary, yet feel unsavory as if I can not even do the things I enjoy. My energy is lacking for joy and stays in the neutral zone. The last few days of the month I slowly got back into cheerfulness and creativity through dancing and ceramics, I got inspired to look for sewing classes/workshops, so I could make my own clothes. I might take a break from writing Confessions of a woman in love as I’m getting to more recent, thus more painful, events there.

Because of the month of living on my own, I confirmed what I already knew about myself – I love being around people. Staying in the apartment alone drained me. I’ve been getting progressively more alone since I moved to the Netherlands 4 years ago and even though in Latvia I have more friends than I did there, I need more acquaintances and random one-off conversations. I even miss eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations! Preferably in person, even though I enjoy chats and calls as well from the people I can’t meet up with. I love to share my space with people as long as we get along, and respect each other rhythms, wishes, and personal bubbles. Hopefully, that will be the case with Manuel once he comes. 

The last week of March I was very anxious about the new volunteer’s arrival as the girls characterized him as chatty as if that’s a bad thing (I mean, I am too!). Elina and my sending organization mentor mentioned a bunch of stereotypes about Italians, men, and Italian men I should consider and be aware of before he arrives, which fueled my worries. My body felt calm and somewhat excited, while my mind went on a rampage. At the time I’m posting this, we’ve already met – you’ll read the first impressions on the 15th of May 😉

To conclude, I want to shout out to my friends and family – I am so grateful you’re by my side! <3

That’s all for March! Check back in on the 15th of May to read about my April in Latvia with my new companion and my Easter trip to Bulgaria. 

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