6 In Lifestyle

Look Within Your Heart

small children IMG_0890

Is it not strange that as babies and toddlers we are at one with ourselves, safely cocooned in maternal love and family adoration? When does it change? When do we start to feel uneasy and insecure?

I had meant to start this post off with a great quote on the beauty of difference but nothing came to my mind nor did Google oblige. I was up very early this morning watching the sunrise and wondered whether it could tell me something. Did it? It amazes me that a picture is not a true rendition of what I see and perceive as my reality – the aperture and the shutter speed will distort it.

7.23 am

7.23 am


8.03 am

8.03 am


8.20 am

8.20 am

Now dusk is slowly falling and the day has said goodbye with a glorious pink sky.

I had a happy childhood in my early years, living with my parents and my brother who is three years older in a big house with a beautiful garden. Both my grandparents lived close by and I enjoyed a very sheltered life.

I grew up in Basel, Switzerland, a small town boasting a medieval centre, with a long history dating back to the Romans, a lot of culture and one of the oldest universities in the world.

I was a chubby girl with plaits and I fell in love for the first time when I was about 5 and we spent the summer holidays in the mountains. However, my love was not reciprocated and my paragon did everything to ward off my hugging and threw me in the dung gully. I forgot to mention that the focus of my first love was a bull.

I had a happy childhood until the day my father died of cancer.

I was eight. In those days you did not speak about cancer, illness or death. You kept the grief bottled up and wished for it to go away. Outwardly, you kept on going with your daily schedule.

I became keenly aware of my surroundings: the lady stupidly asking me why I was wearing a black button when I went back to school the first time after the funeral and not showing any empathy when I broke into tears.

The weekly visits to the graveyard because this was expected from us. The constant reminders of having to behave better than others as we were half-orphans now.

I think I stopped putting on weight from that time onwards and for a certain time I believed I had been adopted. It must have been horrible for my mother.

I turned into a big mouthed teenager, my protection shield for preventing any stupid questions being thrown at me. And I could not stand being hugged or kissed. Little did I realise that I would do far more (emotional) harm to myself than to others.

I did not feel comfortable with my peers, I felt too thin and ill at ease. I wanted to be part of a group and yet I never really fit in. I was the one telling the best jokes and getting belly laughs as a reward.

I do not know when the point in time came (many years later in any case) for the wake up call:

It is ok to be different, everybody is different. Do not judge, do not blame. Listen more, talk less. – Barbara Klein

The world is not an oyster and I am not a pearl.

Growing up pains – we all have them irrespective of our culture, ethnicity or education. They serve a purpose for giving us a chance to grow from the ugly ducklings into the beautiful swans we really are.

Years of travelling have enriched my life and I have made friends all over the world, coming together to share food, wine and stories. These encounters have broadened my horizon and made me a very rich woman.

Life is good and long live the difference of beauty!

But eyes are blind. You have to look with your heart. – The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

About the Writer:

Barbara Klein lives in the lovely town of Basel, in northwestern Switzerland, next to the borders of France and Germany. For more from Barbara, check out her website, online store and blog, and Like her Facebook page.


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  • Barbara Klein
    December 11, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you, Janine, for inviting me to be part of your lovely series “The Beauty of Difference”, you did well to relaunch it. I enjoy reading the posts and see the different facets of how we perceive the beauty of difference. For me it was a walk down memory lane, painful at times but also relieving to share the burden that is not a burden any longer.

    • Janine Ripper
      December 16, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Barbara, Thank you for baring your soul, and I hope you got something from the positive comments 🙂

  • Muriel
    December 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    What a great post! Thank you, Barbara, for sharing such a story. I am glad that times have changed and that people are now showing more empathy. Grieving is important. It is the shame that your grief was just ignored. You could have gone completely off the rails. Congrats for being who you are, and for your wicked sense of humour!

    • Janine Ripper
      December 16, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      I agree – Barbara could have gone off the rails totally but rose above and chose to become the woman she is today 🙂

    • Barbara Klein
      December 16, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      Thank you, Muriel, this means a lot to me! Do I really have a wicked sense of humour?
      Luckily times have changed! Unbelievable that in those days cancer was only whispered about and the afflicted were sometimes even left unaware of the illness they were subject to (that was the case with my father and the doctor treating him was his brother-in-law, idiot). We all carry our experiences and hopefully come to terms with the unpleasant ones. Mind you, everybody in the family ignored their grief and did not talk about it, a wall of concrete silence.

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