Owner, artist and face painting instructor at Fine Lines Face and Body Art, Rosie Lieberman
Once upon a time there was a veterinary surgeon in England who knew she had yet to find her true calling.
It was known that she was an artsy sort of person (she had taught herself to paint; she was a semi-professional musician) and on the morning of the veterinary practice open day her boss asked her to man the face painting ‘stall’. Actually there was just a cup with water, one misshapen brush, a small palette of cheap face paints and 2 tiny chairs. With zero experience but always up for a challenge she agreed to do it.
She had the best afternoon at work that she had ever had! Creating smiles and joy with a few quick flicks of the brush and a splash of colour was a million miles away from squeezing the stinky ends of beloved pets and giving owners sad (or expensive) news. Not to say the designs were any good. You could probably tell what they were supposed to be but they definitely weren’t going to win any best child-painted-as-a-sort-of-tiger competition. But that didn’t matter. She came away from that open day with a feeling that her world had somehow shifted slightly on its’ axis.
A move to Leipzig, Germany in 2013 with her young family meant that face painting had to take a back seat while they settled in to their new life there. Stumbling about in the wilderness of unfamiliarity, even the simplest of things took a lot of effort- finding and registering at a childrens’ doctors, then trying to fill out all those forms when she got there; trying to explain why my daughter had 2 odd socks on at kindergarten, getting the broken washing machine fixed. The thought of trying to arrange party entertainment in German was just too much! Her standard answer to anything that was said to her for 1.5 years was ‘Es tut mir leid, aber ich verstehen nicht. Können Sie bitte langsamer sprechen?’ (I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Could you please speak a little slower?). More often than not they just spoke louder and faster! It was exhausting. When eventually I gained my C1 language certificate I finally felt confident enough to hold my own. Not many expats bother to get up to that level as it takes some serious studying.
She spent 2 1/2 years attending a language school in the winter months and sorting the family in the summer months, having been unable to communicate with any German when she arrived.
I didn’t meet an English-speaking person (other than my immediate family) for at least the first 2 yrs. Still it was always such a relief to meet a fellow English-speaker. At It was like coming home! Words came out so easily, almost flowing out without effort. No need to stop and think about sentence structure or grammar before I opened my mouth. I could be funny, make people laugh. I could express exactly what I wanted to say and not just say sort of what I meant with the words I just happened to know. I hadn’t realised how much I missed talking, chatting, talking tittle-tattle. Meeting a fellow English -speaker was an immediate bonding experience. Back home in England you rarely want to be good friends with everyone you meet, but here the immediate connection and understanding of their background, similar experiences they must have had moving to Germany, the same upheaval, trying to build a new life and yes, loneliness.
I began to realise that I wasn’t alone, having gone through the trauma of relocating to Germany. But I realised, too , that I was in a unique position to help people who were in a similar situation. To be their shoulder to lean on, someone who understood what I had gone through, give advice on relocating, finding their way around, and, yes, to offer an English-speaking entertainment service. How much easier my life would have been if I had found someone like me at the start!
In the mean time I continued to improve my face and body painting skills, and indeed am very proud, after intensive studies, to have earned my Diploma from the International Face Painting School.
I’m very much looking forward to getting to know you and help you in your pursuit of happiness and great entertainment!