Doubt doubt doubt

I am having a massive meltdown over my van plans.

The German dealer is refusing to fix the windscreen on the van I found - which in itself isnt a massive deal.  But it has made me do a total U-turn from being super confident in what Im doing to being crushed by doubt.

Should I be buying a van from a dealer who isnt even prepared to make it road legal?  I think not.  Do I really need a left hand drive vehicle THAT badly that its beneficial to put myself through all this stress, hassle, risk and cost to get one from overseas?  Do I really need a popup roof if it is essentially halving the amount I have available to spend on the thing that matters - a reliable base vehicle?  Am I even going to save that much money by converting the van myself?  Am I even capable of achieving a decent conversion or is it just going to be one everlasting disaster?

I think I have made so many bad decisions recently that I just dont trust myself at all any more.

I emailed the German dealer asking him if he would reduce the price given that I would have to go and get some work done over there before bringing the vehicle home.  He hasnt replied.  He said he would send me the Verkauftrag (contract of sale) to look at.  He hasnt.  I have such a bad feeling about it all now I feel like I should just cut my losses and run.

I am researching vehicles on Ebay in the UK to see what fully done out conversions are going for, and also what I could get if I abandoned the popup-roof idea and put the extra £2000 towards the vehicle.

This is crazy stressful.  I guess the real source of the problem is that, as ever, I only know what I dont want.  I dont know what I want, so I dont know what to fight for.

"Judge not the Lord with feeble strength, but trust Him from His grace."

Who broke your heart?

An old friend of mine once asked me..."Who broke your heart?"  I was too ashamed to answer him honestly, so I lied and said someone's name.  This is one of the few lies I have ever told this person, and I instantly regretted it.  But I couldnt bring myself to voice the truth.

So this is an attempt to make amends for my lie.  This is my theory on broken hearts.

To live fully is to give your hearts to others.  Some of them will deserve it, some of them wont, it really doesnt matter.  These people have the power to cherish, nurture and breathe life into our hearts.  They also have the power to neglect, crush and trample our hearts.

But no-one on this earth has the power to break our hearts.  No-one except ourselves.  Others may have the power to throw the punches, but ultimately it is our own duty to determine what our hearts are made of.

So my answer to the question "Who broke your heart?" should only ever have been "I did."

In accepting responsibility, maybe it will help my heart to transform into a more unbreakable material.

Vehicle inspection...check!

Ok the vehicle inspection has now been done (though I still have no idea what it has cost...or what they tested really)

But whatever the price or thoroughness of the check - it was the best I could find.  And it has been really valuable - as I now know the windscreen is badly cracked and the exhaust blows.  None of which are massive deals, but they do need to be fixed.

So...if I can persuade the dealer to fix them before I pay for the van - then I think Im going to go for it.  Eeek.  Scary stuff.  And I also need to get my contact details over to him successfully (which I have utterly failed to do for the last few weeks as it is surreally difficult to spell things in German).

I have finally caved to the utter monster that is the language barrier though, and asked someone much more fluent in german than I am to ring the guy to try and talk through these last details with. I am just as pleased that I know someone who speaks German better than me as I am about finding the van.  Although I am insanely stubborn and independent, I am not one of those people who refuses to ask for help when they need it.  If someone can do something better than me - then that's awesome.  

And in this case, it means I can be certain that I am going to turn up and be faced with something I have actually agreed to, rather than a smashed up windscreen and a very confused dealer.

Ohhhh its getting so close to being real.  I love the fear.

Maybe you are the one...

I think (hope..pray...believe) that this might just be the one.  The One!  THE ONE!! My van.  My home.  My kingdom.  My FREEDOM.  Its a 1997 LHD VW T4 2.4l diesel which has done 120 000 km. No window on the side door but it has pretty much everything else I want.  After 2 months searching, this one is definitely in the top 10% of what I have seen, and the garage guy's English is decent and he seems pretty helpful and genuine.  Its in Endenkoben which is a bit south of Cologne, so not too far to go either.

Though...I may just be counting my chickens before they are hatched.  After many long and confusing and very German phonecalls, I have managed to arrange an inspection on this van for tomorrow.  So far I would say buying a van from abroad is by no means the easy option, and I am seriously so grateful for the limited amount of German I can speak.

Technical inspections in Germany can be arranged through ADAC (motoring club) or TUV (MOT people), TUV didnt email me back but ADAC did and they recommended the local TUV source anyway.  You need to specify where the vehicle is when asking for a contact number.

I havent been able to extract from the people doing the check exactly what they are going to be testing, I think its going to cost about 100 Euros so Im hoping to get something fairly comprehensive for that.  And some form of results that I can understand and actually get something out of.

So...if the results are all ok, and if I can convince the garage guy to give me the VIN (how do you define VIN to a German!) and some suitable form of legal document in return for my 2000 Euros (apparently anyone who offers to just take a deposit in Germany is a scammer)...then this baby shall be mine!

Im super excited.  My dreams are so close I feel I can almost touch them. 

How do you spend your time?

I believe that time is quite literally the most precious thing we have.  And yet we waste so much of it.  I waste so much of it.

This is how I spend my week...

40h at work - I see this as time wasted as I am investing time in things I perceive to be valueless.
55h asleep - awesome.  I love sleeping.
4h - commuting.  Time wasted.
3.5h - working out.  Time well spent - looking after your physical wellbeing is contibutory to happiness.
3h - agility training with Sally.  Time well spent - she loves it and I love her
5h - housework.  Vital tasks so I dont mind it.
5h - walking Sally.  As above.
3h - getting ready to go out to work etc.  I really dont spend long over getting ready so Im ok with this.
10h - watching TV.  Technically time wasted does keep me calm.
15h - studying.  Given my current life plan this is essentially time wasted.
3h - having meals with my Mum. Time invested in family is precious.
2h - church.  Spending time with God is the most worthy investment of time in my eyes.
3h - showering.  Clean is good.

So that leaves 16.5 hours unaccounted for  I guess most of that is spent eating...or on other timewasting crap.

So.  Of the 168 hours in a week, I believe I am spending around hours on activities that I see as a valid investment of time.

Now I dont feel like checking my Maths, but I am clearly spending only half my week on tasks that I can actually justify doing.  And if I was to exclude the time I spend sleeping from that figure then that is pretty damn depressing.  

So...why dont I fix it right now!  Well, I have no justifiable answer for that, beyond that sometimes you have to play off the risk of futureproofing your life against the possibility that that future may not actually exist for you.  But I dont even see that as a justifiable reason - because from that angle I could argue that I should work 70h a week till Im 80 because by then they will have discovered the secret to immortality so I need to set up a financially viable situation for that.  And we can all see that a plan like that is utterly ridiculous!  So I have no excuse.  I am wasting my life because I voluntarily tied myself down to things I never wanted.  Lesson learnt hopefully, but for now, yes, I am literally wasting my life.

But...once I finish my degree and leave this place  I will get those figures sorted out.  One day I will do another post to prove it.

Bigging up the Disapproving Rabbits

I love rabbits.  I love animals which make funny faces.  So...Disapproving Rabbits is pretty much my idea of Heaven.  

It makes me laugh so much I have to be pretty careful when I check my Google Reader at work...

Im pretty down on the whole van thing right now, and Im too busy doing university work to fix it.  But as of next weekend - the van will be my number one priority.  Well...the van and my assignment.  The day this degree will be done CANNOT come soon enough.  Note to self, never ever do anything again that makes you wish your life away.  I really hope I have learnt that lesson.

Why Im disappointed in is great.  Its really great.  It is super easy to find what you want, they put it all in English and it is crystal clear even for idiots like me...



The dealers on there do not, will not or CANNOT answer emails.  Not one.  Nothing.  

It is literally a total waste of time emailing them.  I must have tried at least 10 different dealers - and not a word in return.  With every length of email and German-English combo you could think of.  Now to me this seems crazy - why advertise online if you arent going to reply to the emails of prospective buyers.  I dont care how much Spam you get through the system - you still answer your customers.  Alternatively, why go to all the effort of providing such a great site if you are going to provide an email facility that doesnt even work! WHY!

So its on to Plan B - Im going to have to call them.  With my limited German and my awkward working hours - this is obviously far from ideal.  Sigh.  Big sigh.  

I should know by now that nothing in this life ever comes easy.  Rant over.  You are now warned.  Great site, just dont use the email system.  Hopefully the phone numbers it provides will be genuine!

What you should take from people

Firstly, I would like to clarify myself to all the people whose feathers get well and truly ruffled by the idea of taking anything from anyone.  I am all for independence, and I truly believe in giving everything you can to those you encounter.  However, independence is not about being isolated, it doesnt mean you cannot merge aspects of your self with the ideas, characteristics and life lessons of others.  And while giving is great, most people cannot do this indefinitely and selflessly while remaining mentally healthy if they do not also allow themselves to be built up in return.  Even if you are one of those utterly amazing people who has the internal strength to never need anything in return - it is wise to remember that if no-one was prepared to take then the gift of altruistic giving would be utterly useless.

My next move to escape the pitchforks and torches is to clarify my choice of image.  This is the graveyard of the church in the village I grew up in.  Askham in Cumbria will always be one of the most beautiful places in the world to me.  Graveyards in general hold no fear for me, I find them to be oases of calm and peacefulness which are vital reminders of our grounding in the past.  Old graveyards are especially fascinating and I just love the way the stones slowly fade and decay as the people they commemorate return to the earth which cradled them in life.

Which brings me to the point of my inspiration for today - as we go through our lives it is impossible not to lose people.  Whether they are friends, family or lovers...and whether they depart through death, arguments or the neverending passage of time, we lose people.  And when we lose them it is usually either very distressing, generating a large amount of anger or sadness, or it unnoticeably and ambivalently happens as people drift away from us.  The things we loved about those people while they were in our lives are either submerged beneath the pain or simply forgotten.

Not only is this really sad when you think about it, it also greatly increases the depth and impact of the loss in a totally unnecessary way.  I think its pretty common to buy into the theory of someone "living on" in those they have left behind after they die, but perhaps this is a concept that we can apply to all those who we have lost.  Obviously this isnt just about keeping the memory of the individual alive - while this is obviously really valuable sometimes in the case of someone who has died, you wouldnt do this for someone who has drifted out of your life without it really even bothering you.  But from all these people, regardless of who they were or why they left, when they were with you they gave you something that was uniquely rewarding.  And you can use this to improve your life today.

For example, maybe your ex could make you laugh like no-one else ever could.  So take that feeling, and use it when you are down.  Remember how you laughed till it hurt and it will still make you smile.  Or maybe you always knew you could rely on your dad to come pick you up when things got rough.  So when things get bad after he has gone, let yourself feel the calm and the reassurance of his support and maybe it will give you the strength to rely on yourself to get through it.  Or when you have drifted apart from that best friend who always used to call you on the stuff you did wrong, think through what that critically honest voice would say next time you arent sure what the right choice is.  Use the past experiences to inform your future, but tie them into the people that you have loved and who have loved you.  Let that relationship continue to mean something regardless of how the relationship ended, but in the healthiest and most beneficial way possible.  People who truly love people cannot help but to radiate love out to the important people in their present.

And to come full circle back to the theme of giving - as well as letting go of the negative aspects of my past in order to let the people I have loved continue to support me today, I would love to be able to do the same in return.  I want to provide enough of my myself to other people that years after I have left their lives there will still be elements of our relationship they can take and use to improve their present.  Even if its something as simple as being the person who is always delighted to see them, or the person who always makes enough food that there is enough to give any unexpected visitors dinner.  You never know how the little things you do can change someone's life.

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