Thursday, December 11, 2014

brave

Around the end of 2013 I thought it a good idea to pick a word for the New Year. A word that would determine how I wanted to live in 2014. I didn't tell anyone I was doing this, or even write it down anywhere. I just sort of decided one day, and have kept it to myself.

The word I picked was brave. The definition of brave is: possessing or displaying courage. I could list many reasons why I picked this word. The main one is because I've never thought myself to be very brave at all. I don't like scary movies, or huge roller coasters, or even initiating conversation with strangers, therefore I'm not brave, right?

And now that 2014 is nearly over (yikes!) I've been trying to do a re-assessment of sorts to decide if I really did live bravely over the past year. Or, at least, braver than I have in the past. And I am happy to report that, yes; yes I have. I have a long way to go, but here are a few things I've done to lead a braver life (and you could try too).

1. Participate
So often in life it's easier to be a spectator. I've been guilty of watching other people do things that I'm too afraid to try myself. It's intimidating to try something new; not knowing if you're going to be good at it or look like a total idiot. But you'll never know by sitting on the sidelines and wondering. Life isn't a spectator sport, and my first step at leading a braver life was getting out there and doing new things. 

I've surprised myself this year with the amount of things I've said 'yes' to trying. And I've found some things I'm good at, like riding a motorbike and writing limericks, and things I'm not so good at, like surfing.


2. Do things alone
This was a pretty tough one for me. If I wanted to participate in something but didn't have anyone to do it with I would always back out. I'd use my lack of company as an excuse to stay home and binge on Netflix. But once I got over my fear of doing things alone, I became free to try really anything. If you don't have someone to participate with you, so what? You're still capable. 

I did things this year on my own like going to a womens conference, travelling to Sydney, attending writing workshops, going to cafes and libraries and the beach. And I had a great time doing all of it, with only myself as company.


3. Fake it
I believe self doubt is our greatest hinderance to being brave. That little voice in your head that says you can't do something. If we let the voice get too loud we'll never step out and do anything new. So I've learned to talk back. When self doubt is shouting, I like to come back with a whisper; I can, and I will. Watch me. 

In instances like this, after self doubt has been quieted, I've found the best thing to do is just pretend to know what you're doing even if, especially if, you don't. 

I've used this tactic a lot when doing new things alone, like travelling. When self doubt was like, 'you're going to get so lost in this airport' I laughed and pretended like I had been in that massive airport hundreds of times before and knew exactly what I was doing. In the end, the terminals practically beaconed me and self doubt was dead for that day.


So there you have it. BE Brave. Try new things. Do them alone if you have to. And silence the self-doubter inside. I haven't decided on a new word for 2015 yet, but I'm hoping to in the next few weeks. And I'd encourage you to pick a word for the new year too. Then again, I might just keep brave for 2015 as well, and every year from now until I get over my fear of roller coasters and The Shining. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

lineage

Living abroad means getting the "where are you from?" question quite often. Sometimes they know without asking. They hear our hard R's and loud laughs and say, hey! You're Americans! But what does it really mean to be an American? I think much can be learned from a person based on where they're from and their family backgrounds. These sorts of things have always intrigued me, so a couple of months ago I started working on learning about my family genealogy.

I did this pretty easily with a subscription to acenstry.com. It started slowly, just by putting in my Grandparents names and birth dates. The site automatically pulls up census records and marriage and death certificates, so you can piece people together fairly easily. I tried to verify the names and relationships with my Grandparents, just to make sure I was heading in the right direction.

So I've been working on this for over 2 months now, and I have to say, it's so fun. I have learned so much about my relatives, their homes, their family relations, their occupations. It's incredible! I've also come across some pretty great photos of my family members.


That stud is my 3rd Great Grandfather on my Mom's side, Arthur Webster Paxton born in 1820. His goatee alone is worth the mention.

I discovered that I've had ancestors in Pennsylvania since immigrating over from Germany in the early 1700's. That's pretty cool to me because I love my home state so much, and I guess they did too.  My 6th Great Grandfather was a Captain in the Revolutionary War. I've discovered ancestors that fought for both the Confederacy and the Union. Ancestors who owned slaves in Virginia, and ancestors who fought to free them further north. 

Just this week I've traced back far enough to ancestors who arrived in Plymouth Mass from England as early at 1634. When I told Kevin about this he responded with, "wow, you are super American." But I said, "No, I'm just super white." My DNA results (which you get through the site after signing up) told me I am 100% European. I was kind of annoyed with that. How boring! I was hoping for a little flavour in there somewhere. 

But everyone everywhere has an interesting story to tell. You just have to know where to look. Some of my aforementioned family members who settled in Plymouth opened what I can only assume to be one of the very first taverns ever in America. It was called Coles Inn, and James Cole (my 11th great grandfather) was recorded to have had his liquor license taken away quite a few times due to rowdiness, selling liquor on Sundays, selling liquor to Native Americans, and the like. 

But one of the funniest things I've come across was a mention of his son, Hugh Cole, being fined for 20 shillings when he & his future wife were found guilty of "keeping company each with other in an undecent manner, at an unreasonable time and place, before marriage." What life must've been like in the 1600's, right?

My last story is this; Edward Bosworth (my 12th great grandfather) was born in England 1586. He along with his family boarded the Elizabeth V Dorcas to sail to Massachusetts in 1634. During the journey Edward got sick and he died on the ship as it was sailing into Boston Harbor. It has been recorded that in his final moments he asked other passengers to take him up to the deck so he could "view the promised land." He then passed away and his body was taken to shore and buried in Boston.

I'm so glad I found all this out right before Thanksgiving. It somehow makes the story of the Pilgrims and ships and disease all those years ago more real. And no matter if your family members sailed on the Mayflower or you're first generation American, people had to make sacrifices to get us to where we are today. And that's definitely worth remembering this holiday. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

listed


making: plans. for the weekend. for christmas. for my life.
drinking: green tea. I hear it's good for you.
wanting: inspiration.
watching: the walking dead (on a suuuuper sketch website that I'm fairly certain is illegal.)
listening: avett bros (oldies) and--judge me, taylor swifts new stuff
eating: thai take out and grapes.
smelling: outside air seeping in.
wishing: to teleport home for thanksgiving next week.
enjoying: warmer nights around these parts.
hoping: to breakout some new stationary tomorrow and pen a few letters.
needing: peoples addresses for mailing letters.
feeling: content.
wearing: bed clothes. big baggy comfy.
bookmarking: oscar wildes the picture of dorian gray. 


sorry this is pretty lame and uninspiring. see above how I'm wanting inspiration? yeah, my tank is running on E. I usually find inspiration in all kinds of places. from conversations with friends, to music and books, to old pictures which conjure up memories. but I've been lacking lately in this department and need to get the juices flowing again.
if you've got any to spare send it my way. until then I'll just keep writing lists and humming taylor swift.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

living with less

When you get married you get a lot of stuff. Cookbooks, furniture, money (the best), and bread makers that you will never in a hundred years put to use. There are gifts you register for, gifts you don't, and gifts that most likely were re-gifted at least once. We ended up with doubles of many things because people didn't bother with our registry and just went out and bought us random stuff.

But this is not a post to complain about excess wedding presents. Those additional gifts are able to be returned for the best gift (noted above); money! But what I'm trying to get at is that after the wedding you suddenly have loads of stuff. Some of it is necessary, but what I'm beginning to realise (5 years later while most of it sits in other peoples homes) is that most of it is not.


Before Kevin and I moved abroad we sold a lot of this stuff at yard sales. And yes, it was definitely hard to part with some of it. These were the things that made up our first home together. Dishes, bedding, chairs and tables and carpets. But in the end, it didn't make sense to keep it all when we don't know when or where we'll need it again.

Upon moving, we made the conscious decision to live simply. I believe this has always been our goal, but when you are gifted so many nice and beautiful things what are you to do? We moved here with 3 suitcases and a few carry ons. This forced us to be extremely intentional when it came to what we were bringing. We arrived with no furniture, bedding, appliances, or decor. It was like starting with a completely blank slate.


Over the past year we have made this work for us. Finding a furnished place was the biggest thing. And we have been able to add our own personal touches here and there. But when it comes right down to it, we could pack up everything we own in a matter of an hour or two and be on our merry way.

This has a lot to do with the fact that our home here is roughly 80 square feet. It basically one room plus a bathroom, and has been the perfect space for us to simplify. We have had to be very careful about the things we chose to fill our space with. This means getting books from the library or on kindle instead of buying them (which is hard for both of us book nerds). It means I only buy a new candle when the current one has burned out. It means washing our bedding in the morning so its dry by the evening when we need to put it back on our bed, since we don't have spare sheets.


These are all little changes that can be made to maximize space and efficiency. Food is another story altogether, as we need to go to the store multiple times a week since we do not have much room for storage. But this also causes us to eat fresher and better food in general.

I think so much can be learned by cutting things out of our lives. It has definitely taught me the difference between things we need (1 smell-good candle) and things we just want (17 smell-good candles). Most of our things used to be wants, only used to fill up space. When we first got married I think we had 10 or 12 bowls. This seems ridiculous now! We only re-used the same 2 everyday for cereal and the rest just sat untouched on the shelf. 

Life is busy and hectic and crazy enough without the extra 10 bowls taking up space. De-clutter and live simply. I promise, it's a good idea.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

sister stay





Over the past four weeks that sweet little blonde thing (aka baby sister) has stayed with us getting her fill of all things New Zealand. It was so awesome to show this beautiful new home of ours to a family member. Erica is 18, and always up to do anything at a moments notice. While she was here we took a few road trips, soaked in some hot pools, bungee jumped! (she alone can own this), and hiked/swam through a cave stream with headlamps and plenty of spiders for company.

Her stay provided an excuse to do things a bit out of the norm for us. Thai, Indian, & Vietnamese take out all in one week? Well, we really had to because it was Erica's first time trying these delicious cuisines! Sitting on the beach at 11pm with a bottle of wine? Well naturally, since Pennsylvania isn't close to the ocean and wine is off limits to her for another 3 years!

So, Erica was the cause of many fun and spontaneous things that took place over the last month. And now that she's gone, it's much too quiet around here. In moments of boredom I find myself thinking, 'What would my 18 year old sister do?'
I might just have to go bungee jumping..

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

long way home

Last month I took the long journey from south central PA back to Christchurch, NZ. Due to the University booking Kevin's tickets separately, I travelled alone and for roughly 50 hours navigated 4 airports, 3 countries, and what felt like dozens of security checks.

But I always find travelling alone to be a liberating experience. Whether it's a trip across an unfamiliar town without GPS or a few flights across the globe, it's a similar feeling of accomplishment and pride. Like, 'look what I can do! All alone!'

For this trip I booked my flights to allow a particularly long and drawn out trip. It seemed like a good idea at the time; and in the end it was. But 50 hours is a lot, ya know? By hour 42ish I crashed pretty hard a fell asleep sitting up & open mouthed for an hour or two in the middle of Sydney International. Probably not my finest hour.

My check-in was in Washington DC where my flight was set to take off at 9:15am on a Tuesday. If you've ever been to DC you know that rush hour traffic is something that horror film writers dream of. So even 3 hours wasn't enough time for my Mom and her lead foot (love you, mom). We screeched into Reagan at exactly 8:45am. I told her to do a lap around the parking lot while I went inside to see when the next flight was.

It was a miracle, it really was, when the kind check-in attendants called my gate and told me I could make it if I ran. When I boarded my plane (at 9:06am) I was practically dry heaving and carrying 4 pairs of non-matching shoes (my luggage was overweight). Then I burst into tears because I realized that I didn't hug my Mom goodbye and wouldn't see her again for roughly 7-8 months. So, not the greatest start to my solo journey home.


But after a phone call and some blubbering apologies and I love you's later I was en route to Los Angeles. I don't know many people on the west coast of our beautiful country, but I lucked out by having family members and a few friends move to LA all within the past year.

Familiar faces in a town you don't know really make all the difference. My lovely guides took me to some awesome places, beginning with probably the best tacos I've ever tasted. It was sunny, warm and beautiful. Like most days are in LA are, I've heard.

It was exactly what I needed, after a rough start to the long trip. To be around family and friends who lifted my spirits, fed me awesome food and made me laugh. If any of you are reading this now, thank you so much. It probably didn't seem like much to you, but it was the best farewell to the US I could've asked for.

I got a window seat on the 15 hour flight to Sydney, next to a lovely couple who were visiting the states from Perth. I fell asleep before take off.


Sydney was great. I don't know anyone there, or in Australia at all really. But I loved the freedom this gave me to just be on my own and go whichever direction I felt like walking.

A train took me to the harbour, to see the iconic sights of course. A Starbucks provided me hot (overpriced) delicious American coffee and free wifi. And the Botanical Gardens gave me a beautiful quiet spot to observe and finish my book. (Gone Girl--just in time for the movie!)


I ate the most amazing gelato I've ever had (although I've never been to Italy, so theres that). And a street performer held my attention for a solid 30 minutes (even though he blatantly made fun of Americans, his ability to juggle flaming swords was tops). So all in all, not too bad. Not bad at all.

One last little flight left before I arrived home. I sat by the window again and fell asleep before take off again. Upon arriving at customs I had to admit the food I was bringing back from America; Pringles, candy corn, Pop-tarts and Oreos.
Is it any wonder we Americans make a name for ourselves?


And just like that, a trip to the other side of the world. The air is still cold here, but the grass is green and the land is just as beautiful as I last recall.
It's good to be back.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

24



When I was in high school I had a very romantic vision of my future self. She was going to be strong, independent, and have absolutely every aspect of her life in order. I didn't know what she was going to do, or where she was going to go, but she would have it all figured out perfectly. I'm pretty sure I also thought that by the time I was 24 years old I'd be settled down in a pretty little house, with pretty children and a husband who works 9-5 and comes home with a pretty little paycheck.

And here we are. My life definitely does not fit that description, and I'm so happy it doesn't. At 24, I still don't know what I want to do when I 'grow up.' I don't know where I want to live, or work, or even eat dinner tonight.
And that's ok.

Here are 24 things I do know;

1. I love the uncertainty of life
2. I'm constantly discovering new things about myself and those around me
3. For instance, even though I profess to hate onions, I caught myself eating some that came on a dish I ordered the other night
4. I'm an introvert through and through
5. My favorite scripture is Hebrews 10:23
6. I communicate a thousand times better through writing than I do by talking
7. I don't own a hairbrush
8. I enjoy traveling alone
9. I'm deathly afraid of frogs
10. I'd trade my left arm to have a good singing voice
11. Seeing Prince William and Kate in person is one of my top 5 incredible life moments
12. At least a dozen half written in journals occupy space in my room
13. I have come to the realization that with friends quality trumps quantity
14. I don't usually volunteer information, but if you ask I'll talk
15. I've never been pulled over or had a ticket
16. Or a cavity! (knocks on wood)
17. I can name/sing all 50 states in alphabetical order (a good party trick in New Zealand) :)
18. My favorite book is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
19. If I've met you, chances are I've had a dream about you
20. Crunchy peanut butter is everything
21. I tend to overthink most everything, big or small, important or not
22. I compare Kevin to Ross from Friends and it makes me laugh
23. Speaking of Friends, I've seen every episode multiple times and quote it always
24. And finally, on my 24th birthday (Sunday) I hiked to the top of a cliffside with my family and took the picture above and then got stung on my arm by a bee on the way down but it was still beautiful and awesome and worth it.

the end.



Thursday, September 4, 2014

life lately

Labor day has always been a funny holiday. Sort of like a farewell to long summer days and a zap back to reality. For Kevin and I, hitting September means the last few weeks of our time here in the US and getting ready to transition back to the southern hemisphere.

I'm definitely caught in that place of excited to go back and also sad to leave. I'm not sure if that feeling will ever go away, no matter where we end up.

At least here in PA summer seems to be giving us one last hurrah with hot hot HOT weather this week! Such bright sunshiny days here at home are numbered and obviously must be spent taking in baseball games, eating watermelon with a spoon and kayaking quiet streams.
Obviously..

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

don't Instagram that sunset


This sunset and I had a moment last night. Driving home I had one eye on the road and one eye on this gorgeous sky. Do you ever have a moment when you're completely alone and everything just feels so right? The sounds, smells, even the temperature. I was full of joy and satisfaction last night around 8:04 pm when I snapped some blurry moving pictures of the dipping sun. And pictures this beautiful need to be shared, right? But when it came time to post I just couldn't do it. Ya see, I knew I couldn't communicate just how awesome and beautiful and awe-inspiring this moment in time was. So I kept it for myself. Until now, of course.

But waking up this morning and looking at this picture again caused me to reflect on just why I didn't want to share it. Seriously, I have like a few hundred Instagram followers, what's the big deal? But it goes deeper than that. I've been thinking a lot lately about social media and it's effect on society as a whole. There are those who view it as an awesome networking tool, those who only want to keep up with the grandkids, and those who are borderline paranoid and stay away from it in general.

No matter which group you find yourself in (I'm still figuring that out for myself), I have come to the realization recently that over sharing tends to cheapen. Hear me out on this;
Looking back on my time here in the US with family and friends has been so amazing. I've gone on trips, reconnected with decade old friends, shared meals with distant family members, and revisited places new and old. If I was the scrapbooking type this summer have a major picture-filled book to sit on my shelf.

And in a way, our social media accounts are like scrapbooks, right? But do you bring your scrapbook to a job interview? Or to a Sunday morning church service? Or even to a night out with friends? My favorite pictures I have of this summer are not the ones shared on Instagram, or tagged on Facebook. They're the ones that only I and a few others have ever seen. Taken on nights where the only people who knew it happened were the people there.

Hear me out, I'm not quitting social media or rallying for you to do it either. I guess I'm just saying to cherish those quiet moments that don't need to be shared. The great moments/pictures/stories I decide not to share are the ones most cherished to me. And I feel like if I put them online for everyone to see it almost lessens their value. Is that me being selfish and kind of ridiculous? Maybe. But try it sometime. Spend an amazing night with people you love, and keep it just to you. Some things are too good and beautiful and awesome even for Instagram.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

the truth about middle school


Last night I stumbled upon one of my notebooks from the past year. I tend to write on everything and anything I can find at the moment a thought occurs to me. Whether that means a note in my phone, the back flap of a book, or once I even ended up writing on a paper towel. This notebook I found has been written in sporadically since January. As I flipped through the pages I began to remember some of the struggles I've had in 2014.

On one page I wrote, Being anonymous in a new city has forced me to figure out who I am, and where I fit. On another page I wrote about my identity, and why I sometimes struggle with knowing who I am, or where my place is in the world.

Remember how much middle school sucked? I've never met a person who can actually say they loved and enjoyed middle school. It was the worst! I worked with middle school students at our church before we moved to NZ, and it reminded me all over again how hard that time of life is. Why is that? I think it's because in middle school you've just reached that age where you're trying to figure out who you are, what you're good at, who your real friends are, etc. It's a lot to handle as a 13 year old with braces! So during these months of writing in this journal I felt like I was almost back in middle school again. As weird as that is to admit, it's so true.

But it was so cool, because just a few pages later in this journal I wrote down notes taken at a conference I went to. I didn't know anything about this conference until about 3 days before when some dear family friends of ours encouraged me to go and even paid my way.

On the second day of the conference the speaker's message was all about our identity, and who we are through God. She said when we don't know who we are, we become what we think other people want (hellooooo. Middle school!). This is the kind of rut I found myself in. Every word she said felt like it was aimed right at me.

Our society tries to pin so many labels on your jacket. My labels include, my age, marital status, education, employment, even the fact that I'm the first born in my family. We find our identity in all kinds of things, from the clothes we wear to the books we read. I'm even guilty of taking those crazy online tests to see "What Dawson's Creek character are you?" (Joey, if you were wondering). But what do all of those things really tell me about you? Probably not too much.

We as people really find ourselves when we realize and embrace who God has called us to be. The passions he put inside each of us are unique and vital to our identity.  How do you discover your unique God-given passions? I know mine because they are what keep me up at night. The things that you could talk about for hours. The things that you know deep down in your gut that you want to do one day. The things you didn't have to learn to love, you just naturally do.

At the bottom of the page I wrote down one of my favorite quotes;
If you knew who God has created you to be, you'd never want to be anyone else. -Bill Johnson

Finding this journal and reading what I was dealing with this past year has made me so thankful. Thankful to see the transition and growth that has taken place since January. Sometimes I still struggle with knowing my identity. I'm not always happy with who I am. I wish I was good at sports and small talk and cooking. And to be honest, some days still feel like middle school.

But this is what I've learned; your whole life isn't middle school. It gets so much better! But we have to stop pretending like we have it all together, because nobody really does. Reality is so much better than fake middle school kids all trying to impress each other. Real security comes in realizing you were created totally unique and incredible with not a single mistake. Your passions, those things that keep you up at night, that's what you were made to pursue.

Forget what society wants you to be.
The real you [me]  is enough.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New England weekend


Last weekend my mom and I took a road trip to New England. We'd been planning a trip for just the 2 of us while I'm in the states, and this weekend came together sort of perfectly. We logged a lot of miles, but the drive was so worth it. A road trip with someone you love is never a bad idea.

Our first stop was Providence Rhode Island, where my mom had visited just last year and already fallen in love with. We walked the cute old streets, wandered around Brown University's campus and found a great Japanese place for diner. Everyone was so friendly! Providence has a small town feel with the sights of a city. I could easily live there.

Next, we drove north to Boston where we visited the John F. Kennedy museum and library. I'm not going to lie, this was the major driving force behind our trip. I'm a history nerd, especially American history, and have always been fascinated with the Kennedy's. The museum had a great location right on the water. My favorite thing at the museum was JFK's sailboat, which they had on display outside  by the harbor. So cool.

After our morning at the museum we drove south to Plymouth, were neither of us had ever been. I'm so glad we squeezed in this stop on our trip; it was so worth it! Between the Mayflower II (reproduction from the 1950's) and hello, Plymouth ROCK, and the most amazing clam chowder I've ever had in my life, it was a great way to end our short trip.

Thanks for good food, awesome weather, and beautiful sights, New England. We'll definitely be back.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

abroad

As most of those who follow this blog know, Kevin and I spent the better part of last year living abroad. It was the longest time I had ever been out of the US, and neither Kevin nor I had ever travelled to New Zealand before (or anywhere in the South Pacific for that matter). We we diving head first into a totally knew world!
I thought it would be cool to write a little about some things we learned while living outside America for anyone who is preparing for an overseas move, or even just a trip. Of course, everywhere you travel is different, but here are a few generalities that we've learned along the way.

Ask the locals
This is a pretty obvious one, but should always be emphasized. I love talking to tourists who visit my hometown of Gettysburg and recommending places they might not otherwise find. And I've found that people in most places are like that.  Kevin and I make a point in anywhere we travel to ask people from the area for the best places to eat/see/shop. It's also a good way to get away from a lot of the touristy/commercial places that are often swamped with people.

Don't be afraid to say "come again?"
Americans have a bad habit of saying 'huh?' when we don't understand someone the first time. I realized this when traveling overseas for the first time with some Canadians. They were so polite! When they didn't know what someone was asking or saying, they simply said "pardon?" Even in other English speaking countries there can still be a language barrier. Language is so crazy! I've found the worst thing to do when you cannot understand someone is to pretend like you do (trust me, I've tried). Ask them to repeat themselves! Just go with something other than "huh?" :)

Try the street vendors
In most northeast cities, street vendors and food trucks can be a scary thing. I've gotten sick off one too many rubbery hot dogs sold out of trucks on the streets in DC. But in many places, you can find the best food right on the street corner. I've had delicious breakfast sandwiches from carts in East Africa and Kevin and I's favorite Mexican food in New Zealand is sold out of a little trailer with nothing but a skillet. Obviously, this one depends on where exactly you are traveling, so take tip #1 and ask the locals. But don't be afraid to try something just because it's sold from a cart!

Check about local festivals & holidays
Especially since we were in NZ for such a long stretch of time, Kevin and I were able to experience a lot of festivals and events that happen throughout the year. One of my absolute favorites was Diwali (Indian festival of lights) which happened right in our city of Christchurch. It's so cool to experience new cultures through festivals and holidays. I loved seeing the traditional Indian dances, clothing and of course FOOD at Diwali. We learned so much about Indian culture in just one day. Yes, missing American holidays (Thanksgiving!) is a bummer, but celebrate a new holiday in whatever country you find yourself.


Be aware of little changes
The first time I travelled overseas I was 16 years old and totally clueless. I didn't realize we'd be driving on the other side of the road, reading maps in kilometers and gauging temperature in celsius. Thankfully those super polite Canadian friends I mentioned earlier came in handy once again to help me out with many of these things. Come to think of it,  I'd recommend traveling everywhere with a Canadian, if possible:) But really, it's necessary to be aware of things like currency exchange rates and even traffic laws when living/traveling abroad. Like, for example, who knew that driving through a yellow light is actually illegal in New Zealand? Not I! Look into things like this before leaving the good ole USA.

Pop in, but don't live on social media
I try to abide by this rule in every aspect of life, but find it especially important when it comes to travel. So you want to share your Caribbean cruise with Facebook friends? Cool. But please, for the love of all that is good and holy, we don't need to see 84 pictures of your time swimming with the dolphins. One picture is plenty! And when you're constantly scanning your phone for notifications you're missing whats going on around you. So check in now and then, but leave the phone in your bag and try experiencing this new place with both eyes.

And that's really all I have..
Happy traveling, my friends! Smile, say thank you, and give Americans a good name, will ya?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

five



FIVE YEARS
The couple in that first picture look like a pair of little kids. Just 2 kids with love for each other and a wide open world ahead. We had no plans, but plenty of dreams. Some of those dreams have become a reality in the past five years, and some of them are still ahead of us.

God has taught me a lot through marriage. It is not for the faint of heart. It's no cake walk. But there is beauty in this strange yet amazing union of two people. I have become more myself while simultaneously becoming a better partner and person for my spouse. That logic goes against the laws of rationality but makes total sense because I've experienced it. My husband has lead me to pursue goals and explore life in ways I never had before. I encourage him in his passions even though I am totally clueless about some of them (fishing, trees, bird calls) and he does the same for me. He asks me tough questions and encourages me to step outside of the box. He allows me to see things through a new set of eyes. (very very cute eyes)

It's easy to look at these five pictures and think that our whole marriage has been happy and smiley and perfect. But there have been fights and tears and not-so-picture-worthy times too. Picking up and moving around the country and the world has been challenging in more ways than one.

A dear friend of ours sang a song at our wedding that went like this;
If you say go, we will go. 
If you say wait, we will wait. 
If you say step out on the water, and they say it can't be done
We'll fix our eyes on you and we will come

I laugh looking back on that now, because in the past 5 years it seems like it's never been "Wait" and always been "Go." Most times (ok, all times) I was clinging to the familiar and the comfortable for dear life. But we have gone. And I am so thankful for that. Because even though it hasn't been easy to go and leave everything behind, it has caused us to rely on what we do have; faith and each other. And at the end of the day, those are the two things I want in this life.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

summer in the states

A few times in the past couple weeks I've caught myself stopping to look around and just breathe everything in. Have you ever been somewhere with someone and just stopped to think, wow, this is really great. I always want to remember this (?).

The summer so far has flown by. It feel like I just stepped off the plane and gave my mom that bone breaking hug, but my time here is over halfway through. So I've been trying to take my days slower and enjoy each moment, knowing that these memories will get me through when it's time to leave again.

And I don't know about the rest of you, but summer is just good for my soul. The sky at 9pm when the sun is juuuust starting to sink behind the horizon. Eating ice-cream for dinner and spending as much time barefoot as possible. I love it ALL.

The past few weeks have really been good to me.
Here's a few of the highlights;


Hope you all are enjoying these summer months as much as we are.