Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Santorini, Greece is one of those places that almost seems mythical. Like, we've all seen the photos of the blue domes atop whitewashed stone buildings overlooking the sea, but is that actually a real place? Does it really exist? When I booked out flights to Santorini it was almost like booking tickets to the lost island of Atlantis. But now I have proof! It does really exist. Although as I look at these photos again I have to remind myself that I'm the one who took them. It feels like a dream.

I'm so happy that Kevin and I got to visit in the middle of September, nearing the end of tourist season. The island is small, and seems especially so when walking the narrow streets that wind up and down the island towns. We stayed in Thira, which is a bit touristy but more affordable than some of the other upscale spots.

Probably our favorite thing about Santorini was the fact that we saw the whole island by way of an ATV. We rented one for 2 days and it was so worth it! You can drive on any road, beach, or alleyway that you come to, and parking is free. It's definitely the best way to get off the beaten path and see parts of the island that many tourists miss out on.

We enjoyed a few days in the town of Oia, as it is the perfect spot to see the sun dip below the horizon. And the sea food was perfection. The 3 days we had here was just enough to relax and revamp before hitting the ground running in Italy.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


In 2008, when Kevin and I first started dating, he asked me where in the world I most wanted to go. This is a sly question, because in reality the list of places I don't want to go would be much more concise. Just as I learn about a new city or country or culture and begin to dream of travelling there, another would spring to mind. But the answer I gave him then, and one that I kept going back to year after year was Greece.

Last month--roughly 9 years after our first conversation on the topic- we went to Greece! I was so giddy on the plane, I could barely sleep. Greece lived up to each expectation I had. Most days I just walked around with my mouth gaping open like a moron. Even though I'd seen some of these places hundreds of times in books there is nothing like REALLY seeing it. Right there in front of you.

Everything in Athens is OLD. Like, incredibly old. So it was a fitting place to celebrate my 27th birthday. (hah!) But honestly, seeing architecture and statues that date back thousands of years BC was pretty mind blowing. And the Acropolis museum is definitely worth a visit if you are in Athens. We could've easily spent days here, but still felt like we got a grasp on the place after just a few hours.
Kevin and I like to stay in Airbnb's when travelling to new places and we found a great apartment in Athens. There's something about staying in a local's place that makes you better understand the little nuances of life there. The 'shower' at this place was barely tall enough for me to stand up in- let alone 6'5 Kevin! But we also got to wash our clothes and hang them to dry on the balcony, which I thought was just so cute.
Every meal was a gyro or a croissant. Or fish! A diet I could happily survive on, if only to become an extremely obese person.
A few other things we enjoyed in Athens included an outdoor flea & produce market, the botanic gardens which also had bird houses and turtle ponds, and a circus themed cafe that had delicious tea and crepes. We were sad to leave Athens but had to take in a bit more of the country that we'd waited years to see. Next stop: Santorini. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

glass house


 Next week will mark 10 months since our move to the Twin Cities. And somehow even typing it out doesn't make it seem real. It has been a busy and exciting 10 months and so much has happened and I feel sad for not having written about it all.

     But, like every life transition, it has been riddled with emotions; both highs and lows. On the up days I feel so happy to be back in the US, in a lovely city and in a nice apartment, going to school full time. On the down days I wonder why we moved away from New Zealand to a place that is so cold most of the year! I miss friends who were practically family and the beach and my motor bike. Things that seemed to have happened a lifetime ago.

     But we are slowly settling, me more slowly than Kevin, as per usual. I find the first 8-12 months in a new place to be the absolute hardest of all. It's the time where I think I should be mostly settled, but I find that my mind and heart are still in the last place we had been. I remember this so clearly the first year we were in NZ. I missed my friends and family from home so much that I didn't want to meet anyone new or form new friendships because I didn't want them to take the place of the old ones.

     This is the stage I am in now. We have met so many lovely people here. Mid-westerners are a different breed. They are kind without being overbearing, and welcoming and accepting of people from all walks of life. This has been such a beautiful environment to be a part of, yet I still feel myself being closed up. A bit like a house that's boarded up when a hurricane is on the horizon. There are still people inside, but no one is going in or out. And not much sunlight is coming through.

     My personality makes it hard to get to know people quickly. It's more of a slow burn that takes time before anything deep or interesting takes places. I know this to be true, but I frustrate myself. I wish it were the other way- that I could naturally 'click' with new people and places and situations. But this is not me. Its like I want a Rembrandt masterpiece but only want to put in the time and effort of a color-by-numbers. Ya feel me?

     And I know that good things take time. I am slowly dipping my feet in the water. Taking down the nailed up boards from the windows. And I am reminding myself that new friendships do not take the place of old ones. That they can happily co-exist and even feed from each other. The more places I have been and people I have met all lead me to the knowledge that no one is the same, and that everyone has a story to tell. I hope to meet some of those people and hear their stories. And learn and grow from them.

      If I am a house I'd like to be a conservatory. With glass on all sides and the light shining in. A place with not one single window boarded up. A place where growth is endless and life thrives. This is the goal.

Friday, March 31, 2017

own it

Do you ever lie awake in the middle of the night with a thought just gnawing at you? Your brain is so awake and becomes consumed with this one specific thing? This happened to me last week with something that bothered me more the more I thought about it. And it was this; the realization that I never had a teacher in high school who told me I was good at something. The last time I remember a teacher complimenting my work was in the 7th grade, an experience I recently blogged about. But after that? I can't remember a single instance where I felt a teacher was proud of me. When a teacher complimented me. When a teacher told me I was doing a good job.

Maybe this isn't an unusual experience. Maybe you're reading and nodding in agreement, you didn't have a teacher mentor in your high school career either. Maybe this is the norm-- but it shouldn't be.

I had not desire to excel in high school because I didn't think I was capable of excelling. It wasn't until a year after graduation when I was taking classes at my local community college and finished the semester with a 4.0 did I realize that I could do well in school if I would just work a bit at it. I really think this had to do with the fact that I was paying for my classes with my (and Kevin's) hard earned money and I didn't want to waste it. If I was going to do this college thing, then I was going to do it right.

But I wonder what I could have done if I had a teacher who really believed in me and pushed me to do better. My parents have always been supportive. They were never too hard on me about my grades, but always believed that I could be the best in the room. But I figured all parents were like that and didn't pay it much mind. Do teachers realize how much power they have over a young persons life?

When I was thinking back on my high school career I realised that the closest thing I ever got to a teacher compliment was when a chemistry teacher embarrassed my younger sister in front of her entire class by saying, "Why aren't you good at this? Your sister got good grades in my class."

If those are the kinds of compliments teachers are giving out then they should just keep them. I remember my sister was devastated after that comment, and I was angry as well. I also remember thinking, if he thought I was such a good student, why didn't he tell me last year? My grades were fine, but maybe I would have actually pursued science further if I knew my teacher thought I had potential. But he didn't, and I didn't know I might have been good at it, so high school chemistry is as far as my science knowledge goes.

Anyway, I write all of that to say that with the support of my husband and my parents, I eventually gathered the nerve to give it my best. My first semester on the deans list was such a thrill that I set a new standard for myself. Last night I was inducted into the National Honor Society at the University of Minnesota. Getting into the National Honor Society is something I never thought I could have done in high school. But the truth is, I could have. I just wish a few teachers would have told me to go for it.
Moral of the story: sometimes we have to stop waiting for the encouragement and support of others, and realize the abilities we already possess. Own it. And study!

Friday, February 24, 2017

back away from the book

I was on a mission a few years ago to finish reading every book that I started for that whole year. This was a big challenge for me, because I am notoriously bad at putting something down if it doesn’t immediately captivate my interest. But I hated going into bookstores and seeing shelves and shelves of books that I had only read the first few chapters of. So, for all of 2015 I completed every single book I started, and I felt good about it. Since then, I have to admit I’ve not finished every book through to completion. And upon further reflection, I think I'm okay with it.

I was having this conversation with someone recently and they admired the ability to put something down if it doesn’t fascinate, or even interest you, and never finish it. I began to think of my reading quirk in a new way after this conversation. Instead of not committing to something I felt I should be, I was redirecting my energy to something else that was better suited to me (usually a different, more interesting book).

So, what’s better? Digging in your heels and following that difficult thing through to the end? Or realizing that there are millions of books in the world and you should spend time reading one better suited to your likes? Obviously I’m talking about more than just books here. And maybe there isn’t a solid answer to this question, but it could depend more on the situation and what that ‘book’ is.

This process of ‘letting things go’ has always been quite difficult for me. I remember being one of the few people to cry at my high school graduation, which seems a bit ridiculous now! It wasn’t because I absolutely loved high school, but the dramatic ending of a time in my life that I knew I would never get back overwhelmed me. That sense of letting go was emotional for me and I didn’t completely understand why.

            If you’ve never taken the Myers Briggs Personality Test I would strongly encourage it. I love finding out more about why my personality is the way it is, and why certain things make me tick, and this is a great tool for that. I am an INFP, which stands for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Perceiving. My personality type is called the mediator, and is described as, “a true idealist, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people and events.” I relate strongly with most of the description of my personality type through this test, and have learned more about myself through it.

         One very insightful thing I learned by reading about my personality type is that I long for deep and meaningful relationships, yet I avoid many social interactions. I want to get to the end result of finding great friendships, but don't want to have to go through the awkward beginning stages of getting to know people. I want to read an amazing book, but start at chapter 5 when I already know I'm going to love it.

             Because of this characteristic about myself, friends I connect with are friends for life. It takes so much energy and effort to get to that place with someone, relationally, but once I do I cling to them forever! The idea of having a falling out with a close friend is so foreign to me. That would mean letting go of someone and having to replace them with another friend, which would require making another friend which would require finding another human being that I would chose to spend time with over be alone. I know this sounds cynical and awful, but it's true! 

            Now this is not to say that I am some sort of weird, obsessive friend stalker person. If we’re friends you definitely don’t hear from me every day, and probably not even every week (according to my INFP profile this is true to my personality). However, I treasure my friendships and relationships so much, that it’s not abnormal for me to randomly think of someone in my life and nearly be brought to tears with how much I care for them. The well runs deep!

            So now what happens when one of those relationships is no more? What happens when the plant dies or the book is—for whatever reason—unreadable? Well, obviously, I will use whatever means necessary to hang onto it for dear life. If the book is written in another language, I will buy Rosetta Stone. If the plant is dying I will fill it's pot with fertilizer and water it to overflowing (probably killing it further). I will go to extreme lengths to keep this relationship alive because I’ve invested too much and shown too many parts of myself to just let that person walk out.

            This was my old mindset. I clung to their coattails and begged them not to leave. This sounds dramatic, and it is, especially for a very nondramatic person like myself. I used to think something was wrong with me (doesn’t everyone at some point?). But I realized this is the way my brain is wired. I have a hard time making those meaningful connections, and when I do it feels like I’ve struck gold. So if that connection is lost, it hurts me in a very deep and personal way.

              But through looking inward I've realized that these actions are hurting me in the long run. Watering a dead plant won't bring it back to life. It is just a waste of time and energy that could be spent on a living plant. This thought process has helped me come to terms with being able to put the unfinished book back on the shelf. I am able to see something that is dying and refuse to keep watering it out of pity or guilt. This has been true in my life with relationships, but it could also ring true to any number of things; hobbies, a job, etc. 

           Some relationships and meant for a specific time in our lives, and they are healthy to walk away from. Is it still hard? Definitely. I think probably the hardest part of all this is being able to realize when something is not longer beneficial or healthy for you. But we all know it when it happens, that feeling deep in your stomach, and it is time to walk away. Not out of weakness, but out of strength for ourselves and of what is best in the long run.