Therapy Thursday!

28 Jul

Greetings! And welcome to Therapy Thursday! Ha! Nah, I’m just kidding. Seriously, though- I’ve had this post bouncing around in my brain for a few days now and just feel compelled today to get it all out there. I like to think that at least one person reading this is going through something similar and might be able to benefit from listening to my perspective. I know I got a couple awesome notes after the last ‘deep’ post I did a month or so ago, so here’s hoping for a repeat!

So yesterday was one of our best friend’s, Andy’s, birthday. I’d already sent his card and sent him a text message first thing in the morning (perhaps the ONE positive of the time difference is being the first to wish folks happy birthday?!), but as we were waiting on dinner to cook last night, Dulcie happened to be doing all sorts of perfect posing, practically begging for me to take her picture, photoshop in a birthday hat and noisemaker and send it to Andy. So I stealthily slipped out the camera and used my finest covert ninja skills to ensure the perfect shot without her noticing. Here’s what I ended up with:

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Yeah. Turns out she’s the expert in fake outs, not me.😉 So I sent Andy the above shot and explained my intentions. He loved it, of course. Ha! But then he asked me something that got me thinking…and ultimately led to me sharing my thoughts with you guys today. He said, ‘You seem so busy this week- definitely different than last week. Why?’

So let me rewind to last week for a sec. I know I said it in a couple posts that jet lag was a bitch, but that transitioning back to ‘Germany life’ was proving to be a bit more difficult than I’d planned. I immediately missed my family, my friends, my home, my city, my boat…And on top of these feelings of sadness, I had several beyond frustrating incidents last week involving culture differences, language barriers and just overall dealing with plain ‘ol assholes. The details are irrelevant. Even though I knew better, I let myself focus on all these things I missed, all these things that pissed me off and hurt my feelings- in other words, all that was negative.

Rather than just give space to these feelings and sit with them, I gave them my power. You see, thoughts are just stories your brain creates based on your feelings. You can change the stories any time you want to- YOU have the power over your brain, not the other way around. But remember the ego that I talked about last time- that little piece inside each of us that is the king (or queen) of story telling, of exaggerating, of spinning…? Well, as soon as you allow your stories to snowball in a direction that’s not where you want to go, your ego hops in the mix and you’re in a world of doom and gloom before you even know it!

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See what I mean? See the difference between merely providing space for your emotions and allowing your ego to come in and convince yourself of the stories? Long story short…Sunday night I had a little heart to heart with myself. I thought back to a conversation I’d had with John the night before- one where he’d acknowledged how I was feeling (bless his heart), but then- being the practical realist that he is- reminded me that all the reasons we came here in the first place still hold true- to travel, to grow, to bond, to increase our savings…And that the challenges I was feeling are the very same ones we’ve faced since we got here. In other words, I was in a place mentally where I could only see the small picture, the immediate picture- I’d completely lost sight of the big picture and the longterm goals.

From there, I gently reminded myself of what I already know- that we’re all spiritual beings have a human experience…That even those of us who are crazy in touch with our bodies and our emotions still have moments- or days or weeks- of doubt and misdirection. That even the strongest of us still have times where we feel weak, where we feel out of control, where we feel bogged down in our own crap- in our own head. That duality of feelings isn’t just possible, but probable. We can be sad or angry or fearful at the exact same time as we’re also happy or excited or confident and that’s nothing to feel guilty about. This goes back again to the ego. It’s human nature to tell ourselves, ‘Oh, I’m sad so I can’t possibly feel happy about that or I’m not really that sad afterall…’ or ‘Oh, I’m so anxious that I can’t even allow myself to get excited about…’ Do you know what I mean? But that’s where we have to remind ourselves that those kinds of thoughts are not the truth- they’re just ways that we’re limiting ourselves. It’s perfectly ‘normal’ (I hate that word- I tell Neve ‘Normal is just a dryer setting’) and healthy to allow yourself the space to feel ALL of your emotions, even when they seem contradictory.

Remember months ago when I shared with you that I have a bedtime habit of listing out all the things I’m thankful for  as I’m falling asleep? Well Sunday night was no different. I used that time to really work on shifting my perspective, determined to have a better week ahead. I acknowledged all of the above- all that I’d been feeling all week long. I took all the judgements away- no more labeling my emotions as bad or good, no more trying to rush through them or ignore them, no more creating stories about them…But then I thought about the so very many things that I’m thankful for and excited about and hopeful for and proud of. I fell asleep in the middle of my list it was so long.❤

So are all my sad feelings and frustrations of last week gone? Yeah right. Hell no they’re not. Self-care isn’t magic and it’s by no means a quick fix, but rather a slow and steady process that is so rewarding all along the journey. So yes, I’m still missing home, I’m still getting back into the groove here, I’m still working through some frustrations I’m having with language barriers…But I’ve made space for these feelings and I realize that feelings are ever changing- the weather of our minds. Again, my newest tattoo is the perfect visual- ‘Until It’s Not…’ I’ve reminded myself that I control my stories- not the other way around- which means that I CHOOSE to be happy, I choose to be secure and productive, I choose to live the life that I want to. And most importantly, I choose to trust myself and the Universe- it will always provide for each and every one of us.

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So Happy Birthday again, Andy! Although it seems like you’re the one who actually gave me a little gift❤

Happy Friday!

22 Jul

The weekend is within sight, y’all! And I for one am beyond happy about that because this week has dragged by like turtles in mud and I’m ready for a little change of pace! You know how when you get home from any (good) vacation you almost feel like you need another vacation to recover? Yeah, well this is pretty much like that except in addition to just being tired from the travel itself and jetlagged from the damned eastward travel (it gets me every. single. time.), I’m missing home and family and friends and Charleston and the whole routine we’d gotten into there something fierce.😦

That being said, it’s been so, so nice to be back in our home with John, as our trio.  And yes, he’s been one happy camper week, even texting me daily on his way home to remind me that he’s doing the happy dance knowing the house won’t be empty when he gets home. Ha! Neve has loved being back next door to Amalie- and her new baby brother who arrived the week before we got back!-back at school with her friends, and back eating at restaurants with schnitzel. Seriously, she didn’t miss a beat whatsoever, even with the big time change! Oh, to be a kid again…So that’s pretty much what this week has been about- settling back in at home, getting in touch with our normal routine, reconnecting with friends (hurry up and get home, Horan family- you’re the only ones missing!), and enjoying what’s left of the German summertime❤ Here’s a look!

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The fountains at Milaneo…

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So happy to be back with these two!

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This backyard BBQ couldn’t have come at a better time! And it was the perfect party for everyone to meet baby Simeon❤

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Neve is absolutely in LOVE with ‘Amalie’s new baby.’ She talks about him every day and is mesmerized by him when he’s around. And she’s so sweet and gentle, it’s precious❤

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My husband knew it was a good week to bring the sunshine indoors😉

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How nice that we’ve only had one rainy day all week, too! And it’s so warm- not crazy hot like in Charleston, but lovely warm- the kind that means you get to eat your dinner outside.😉 And remember before our trip how I was talking about how completely over it I was- the language barrier, the unfriendliness of so many of the folks we encounter, the isolation that can creep up without warning? Well, the vacation worked- I definitely feel reinvigorated after our time at home and I’m back to seeing things as stimulating little adventures- most of the time anyway😉 Right now, it’s all about being present, making space for all the feelings and just sitting with them, without judgement. I can miss things and look forward to things and enjoy the things that are happening right now- all at the same time. Nothing is all or nothing.

And for one more moment of confirmation that the Universe is always looking out for each and every one of us, this shot came in as I was typing on this post. It’s from Lori- one that she’d forgotten to send me a few weeks ago from their lunch date to ChicFilA. Look how happy my girl is. I absolutely love that she’s happy no matter where she is or what she’s doing. We sure lucked up with this one❤

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Happy Weekend!

Home Again, Home Again…

16 Jul

…Jiggity Jig. John always makes fun of me for saying that when we walk in the door from a trip, but my grandmother- on my Dad’s side- always said it and I have the fondest memories of her saying just that as we’d walk through her front door after a morning at the ‘Jockey Lot’ in Anderson, SC…Alas, it always makes me smile even though I have no clue what it actually means!

So I hadn’t intended to write this post today. Truth be told, I’d meant to write it multiple times over the last few days while Neve and I were still in Charleston, but life- the good life- got in the way and before I knew it, our time was done. We arrived back here in Stuttgart this morning after a long day and night of travel, so now my only goal for today is to fight this feeling of death and stay awake long enough to go to bed tonight and pray to stay asleep for the most of the night. (That won’t happen, no, but believe me when I say that sleeping during the day today would only make tonight an absolute nightmare and would start one crummy cycle of getting over jet lag!) Sharing our adventures from the last two weeks at HOME just seemed like the perfect- therapeutic- distraction.

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Ten hour red-eye flights suck. Doing them with a 4-year-old who doesn’t sleep on planes sucks. Already missing home and your people sucks. But watching the sunrise from 35k feet over the Atlantic is pretty damn awesome.

Neve and I had a fun, low key Fourth of July eating pizza with the fam and then continuing our tradition of spending it with our neighbors, the Mathews, just three houses down from our house (yep, we still own it- it’s just being rented right now). We actually met Lindsey, Joey and Savannah on this very day two years ago, at the holiday block party. Our girls are just a few weeks apart and we were all fast friends. Sometimes, you meet people and you just click.❤

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My goodness she loves her Uncle Andy…

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Coincidentally, John celebrated the holiday next door (that’s our yard on the other side of the fence) with our other neighbors- more people we just clicked with from Day 1.

Later that same week, we celebrated quite a special moment, Neve’s baptism. I can’t tell you how many conversations John and I have had about this topic over the last four years. Religion can be such a tricky thing sometimes- the differences in what things mean, what they represent, how different denominations view the same things…In this instance, John was raised independent Southern Baptist and I was raised Lutheran, which means that there are key differences in what baptism actually is and what it represents. I invite each of you to research these differences if it’s something you’re interested in because there really are some interesting discussions on it. But that’s not my goal with this post. I merely want to share the happy news and some sweet pictures. Neve did wonderfully and was so proud of her accomplishment. So were this mama and her family❤

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What would a summer be without some fun times at the waterpark?! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ms. Lori (who was Neve’s first preschool teacher and who has been keeping her in the summers ever since) is one of our absolute biggest blessings. Not only does she love Neve like her own, but she’s seriously one of the best, most nurturing, most creative women- and moms- I’ve ever met. Spending time with her and her two kids was 100% one of the highlights of Neve’s vacation.

And in that same thread, what would a summer be without boating and more boating?! Seriously y’all, I can’t even. Being on my boat on any body of water (I’m not picky) in the sweltering heat with the people I love and listening to some good music…There just isn’t any better for me.

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My other happy place? Duh. The beach. I am a Lowcountry girl through and through- and I’m raising one, too! You’ll remember from the last post that we’d done Sullivan’s Island right after we got to town. Well, we got to round it all out over these last couple weeks…First up, Isle of Palms. John’s Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathi and cousin, Lauren, came all the way from Lexington, KY, just to visit with us and invited us to crash with them at Wild Dunes for a couple days. They stay there often when they visit and I’m always amazed at what a cool resort we have right there in our city. It’s everything you want in a beach vacation- crystal clear pools, tiki bars, umbrella drinks, live steel drum bands playing all day long, lots of people, the air full of the sweet smell of sunscreen and five short steps down onto the sand. Yep, it’s definitely the good life and we certainly realize how fortunate we are to have such awesome folks we get to call family.❤

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Poppy got this kite for Neve when she took an interest in big kites after watching some YouTube videos. This one was so cool. But the wind was too strong, the cords snapped and it flew away never to be found again.:/

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And then there’s Folly, another of my absolute favorite islands on the planet. There’s just something about its vibe…its realness. It holds a very special place in my heart. I’ll just leave it at that.

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And then there were more of just those regular, everyday moments that all too often pass by unnoticed. Those ones I was telling you about before that feed your soul…that tide you over until you get your next fix.❤

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Mornings at the pool with Poppy…And then Mommy’s bestie happens to see their truck in the parking lot and pops in for a quick catch up:)

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Summertime in Charleston = Humidity Ringlets and Blonde Highlights, just like mama😉

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Lazy Sundays❤

And that concludes what feels like a whirlwind trip to the South Carolina Lowcountry. I knew our time at home would fly by, but I had no idea just how quickly…Nor just how sad I would be for it to come to an end. Just keeping it real here, but coming back to Germany has proven to be the biggest bag of mixed emotions for me…so bittersweet. Of course I’m elated to reunite with John and our pups (Neve even warned me as we were getting off the plane this morning that ‘tears will be rolling down [her] cheeks long before [she] even sees Daddy’- and they were! It was precious.) and to catch up with our dear friends here whom we’ve missed so much (our neighbors even welcomed their second baby just a few days ago!), but there’s a huge part of me that’s very much still in Charleston- still in the house I’ve called home for decades, still running errands with my mom, still soaking up the sun and the sand and the water, still taking advantage of having Netflix available, still stopping by my dad’s latest construction project just to say hello, still playing Team Trivia at a local bar with my best friend on Tuesday nights…Right now, being back in Germany and away from home is hard. I’m sad and relieved and excited all in one. But I’m doing my best to follow my own advice- advice that I believe in so fully that I had it tattooed onto my arm just a few short weeks ago. I feel a bit off right now, until I don’t. It’s a sad time right now in some ways, until it’s not. Sometimes being pulled backward is only to ensure our greatest projection forward. Our minds are the atmosphere and our feelings are just the weather, ever-changing and constantly flowing. That in itself makes me smile. Until next time, Charleston…

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Home Sweet Home…

4 Jul

…and it feels SO good. Y’all, I can’t even tell you how awesome it is to be here in Charleston. Of course, I’m sure you could’ve guessed I’d be having this kind of reaction- either because A) you know me even a little bit😉 or B) the fact that I haven’t had a chance to chat with you guys in two weeks, which is always a good sign that time has been limited! Speaking of which, don’t even get me started on how quickly time is flying. Two weeks already?! Sheesh.

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I want to start with the most wonderful BBQ my parents threw for us last weekend. Something like 75 of our closest friends and family showed up to spend their afternoon- and some even well into the evening!- with us in the backyard. Burgers, hotdogs and all the fixins’…Sweet tea brewing, sunshine shining (fans blowing ;))…Kids in the pool…Grown-ups playing Cornhole in the shade…Neve and I couldn’t have asked for a better party, a better afternoon. And we couldn’t have been more perfectly reminded of how great the people we surround ourselves with truly are. Thank you so much to everyone who came to hang out!

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Just in case any of you need to put a face with a name you’ve heard about many a time on here, this is my best friend, Sam❤

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Probably my favorite shot of the day…My dad and his cousin, Billy, having some fun with the potato gun!

In addition to running ourselves ragged the entire first week- getting in all of our doctors and dentists appointments- we’ve managed to pack in as much summertime and friends as we possibly can these first two weeks…

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My dad’s cousin, Billy, recently hiked the entire Appalachian Trail over an 8 month period. Yeah, WOW. (Check out his cool blog if you’re interested- MyATGuide.com) He’ll next be hiking El Camino (Portugal/Spain/France) starting in mid-August. My dad is going to be joining him for the first 2 legs of that one:)

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Possibly one of my new favorite pictures of my girl. And she’s rocking my old shorts from 1985ish.

Neve has loved having playdates at her cousin, Norah’s, house…They even had their very first sleepover this weekend!

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She’s also been loving her time with Ms. Lori and her (not-so-) littles, just like she has the last few summers. I still don’t know how we got so lucky to have them in our lives.❤

John’s family came from Kentucky to visit a bit while we’re here. Always a treat to spend time with them- I know Neve sure loves having them around. And we were able to get in some downtown time on multiple days, so it was beyond win-win in my book! Ha!

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One thing I absolutely miss the most living in Germany…Backyard summertime dinners with family❤

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One extra cool thing that’s happened? I added to my personal art collection and took my bestie along for the afternoon, as if we needed anymore bonding time! Heehee. Her first time in a studio, so it was extra fun😉

And last but not least, my goal for this past week- after all the running around like a headless chicken of last week!- was to touch water, ie. my favorite thing about this city. And I’m proud to say that I did, not once but twice! First up, y’all know we’re a boating family. Very few things in life make me more content than being on my boat- oh, how I’ve missed my boat! Doesn’t matter where we go- the lake, the river, the harbor…All it takes is good people, good music and the sun shining and I’m a happy girl. And you can see from the pictures that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Seeing her truly LOVING something that I’ve loved since I was her age is just so freakin’ awesome. Every summer she loves it more and more.

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When your elastic breaks 30 minutes into the day and there’s not another one around for 100 miles! (*Note: If you don’t know what this is taking the place of the elastic, you aren’t redneck enough to appreciate this creativity!😉 )

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My kid❤ When you give the day absolutely everything you’ve got and just can’t quite make it back to the landing. 

And finally, Sullivan’s Island. It’s by far my favorite beach, mainly because the tourists haven’t really found it yet and you can still go there without feeling crowded in the least. As I sat there watching the sunset, I couldn’t help but think of this…It doesn’t how matter how many beautiful cities we visit or how many beaches we play on, nothing- and I mean NOTHING- do I find as stunningly beautiful and breathtaking as a Lowcountry beach. The marsh leading out to it, the rolling dunes, the soft sand, the shells, the baby waves, the ghost crabs digging their holes, the wide openness of the shore, the salty pluff muddy smell…Even the brownish green water. Again I’m reminded of just how fortunate we are to call this great city HOME. Note: I may or may not have gotten teary first setting foot on the beach- and that says alot because y’all know I’m not usually a happy crier! Ha! Another Note: I may or may not have done that multiple times over these last two weeks!

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Wow, that was alot of pictures, right?! There’s just so much I’ve been wanting to share with you guys (obviously😉 ) and what better time to sit down and do it than our halfway mark! In so many ways, that sounds so crazy because I feel like we just got here and there’s so much left for us to do and people to see and fun to have. But in other ways, I feel like we’ve been gone from Germany- from John, from our pups, from our friends, from our routines- for quite a long time. And we’re really missing all of them. Thank Heavens for modern technology that’s helping to bridge the gap!

In the meantime though, we’re just going to soak up every ounce of goodness that being home has to offer because we know good and well that it’ll be time to go home in a flash. Being here with my parents, in my childhood home, a block from my grandmother, surrounded by so much familiarity and comfort, having slow mornings in our jammies and getting to say goodnight before heading up the stairs to bed, eating dinner together at the kitchen table…THIS is where the good stuff happens, where the real moments are made. THIS is what feeds our souls and calms our seas. THIS is a gift we’ve been given and what really matters. THIS, afterall, is everything.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th!

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Next Stop…

18 Jun

…Charleston, SC! Y’all, I can’t even. I’m like a little kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to come down the chimney- only rather than the jolly big guy, there’s a very long day of travel standing between me and the awesomeness! Ha! But that’s OK- it’s like I’ve told my mom both times she’s come over- the time WILL pass, the flights WILL be over, you WILL be home, and it’ll all feel like blip. OK, maybe a very long blip even after some time recuperating, but a blip nonetheless!😉

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How we’ve been counting the days until our trip! This has been a great visual on time passing for Neve…

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My thoughts on the travel portion of our trip…And about leaving John behind😦

Today’s post is just a quick hello with some last pictures from here in Stuttgart before we hop the pond for a bit…Y’all know how I like to keep things organized and all!

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How nice it is living next door to one of your besties❤

So for starters, that awesome summer weather I was bragging about last week has completely disappeared. I’m talking rain for days straight, some days not getting out of the 50s, howling winds…*sigh* Really not cool.

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How is this June attire?!

Our buddy, Matt, who works with John in Charleston but was working a few weeks here in Germany- a few hours north, came to stay with us last weekend and couldn’t believe how gross it was for us to trek around the city! But regardless, it was so nice having him here. Like a little slice of home. Neve flirted her face off (Lord help us) and John was in absolute Heaven- staying up late to play video games and drink beer, stopping by the pub to watch a EuroCup game…It was SO good for him and couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Remember how I told you it stays light forever here? I took this shot as I was heading up to bed after 10p!

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And every so often, we get a glimpse of the sun for a few moments- sometimes even up to an hour!- and that’s when we all quickly head outside to bask…

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This is deceptive- it was freezing and they’d just stripped off their coats as they walked out of school. Two seconds after this shot, they had them back on!

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Then, just as quickly as it appeared, it’s gone…And we’re back inside stripping off our wet clothes (that’s how quickly the weather changes!) and warming back up:). Looking at pictures like these, I just can’t believe how grown up she is. Time is passing so quickly. I just need a pause button every now and then…

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Which brings us to this special weekend…Happy Father’s Day to all you awesome dads, stepdads, granddads, stand-in dads, and soon-to-be-dads! The world is a better place because you’re in it! Special shout-out to the two most important men in my, and in Neve’s, life- today and always. John, I could not ask for a better father to our Neve than you. You go above and beyond for us every single day and with each passing year, I’m more aware of just how fortunate we are to have you- how crazily blessed I am to call you mine. I love you more than you’ll ever know. And Dad…You will always, always be my hero, my knight in shining armor. I know without question that no one on this planet could’ve been a better dad for me, then or now. And most importantly, they say that the best thing a father can do for his child is to love her mother. Nearly 44 years later, you’re still setting that awesome example. I love you more than words can say.

And since Neve and I are flying tomorrow on the actual day, we decided to celebrate John today instead- the whole day devoted our guy. What a terrific day we’ve had together as our trio. And while we’re all going to miss each other terribly (it really is difficult parting tomorrow…), we know exactly what’s waiting for us here when we return. How great it is to have such wonderful love waiting for us on both sides of the Atlantic❤

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And that’s it! This time tomorrow, Neve and I will be high over the Atlantic (knock on wood!) making our way to Atlanta, then on to Charleston. Our bags are just about packed, our backpacks are sitting by the door, and now it’s just a matter of crossing the last things off the list and getting through the worst part- ‘ripping the bandaid off’ saying goodbye in the morning at the airport! Next stop, HOME❤

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Happier at the thought of the travel portion being behind us!

 

 

Life Lessons with Erin…

13 Jun

So this is a completely different post than I’ve ever done. It’s actually the first time I’ve ever written about such things other than just for myself, in my journal. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize that these are exactly the kinds of things I should be sharing every now and then. Why? Well, because they make up a huge chunk of who I am and who I strive to be, they’re where I’ve spent alot of my time learning and growing over the last couple years, and most importantly, maybe someone reading these words will take away something neat. So yeah, I’m setting a new little goal for myself to make this kind of post a more regular thing here on Thomas Wanderings. I hope you’ll enjoy and that you’ll finish with a little food for thought.


 

When I’m struggling, and temporarily forget who I am, I am always relieved to know that EVERYONE shares this human experience at some point. So in the spirit of keeping it real, here’s a little story…

I’ve been in Germany for nearly a year now. When we moved here last August, I never dreamed that it would be this long before my first visit home, but alas, life and visitors and other plans and bank accounts…Regardless of the reasons- and even if I had made it home sooner- the fact remains that just being here in this experience requires enormous amounts of self-care.

I suppose this is where I’ll plant my first little ‘wisdom’ nugget. Self-care. That’s an obscure term for alot of people and even for those who are familiar with it, there’s oftentimes still a stigma around it. Taking time regularly and frequently for yourself- to grow, to learn, to broaden, to rest, to relax, to center, to ground…It comes in all different forms and varies from person to person, even from day to day in the same person! Meditation, exercise, journaling, massage, physical activity, therapy, art, prayer, REST…Self-care is simply making yourself a priority and taking whatever steps are needed to be- and to feel like- the best version of yourself. And beyond that, it’s understanding and accepting that there’s nothing selfish about any of these things. Most of us were raised in a culture that glorifies busy-ness, sacrifice, hustle, modesty…But that can change.

I exercise every morning, and stretch out on the ground for a bit afterwards. Through this practice, I’ve learned that anything can get us present (back into the flow)- if we let it.

Well, last Friday, I didn’t let myself.

I woke up feeling grumpy. The truth is, I’d been in a funk for most of the week. Language barrier issues, cultural issues, a huge array of emotions about my upcoming trip home… And you know what? Here’s Nugget #2: Like attracts like. My mindset, despite me trying to change it because I know better, was that ‘nothing is going right.’ Everything that happened, I would greet with the inner dialogue, ‘Oh, imagine that. Something else not going right.‘ And by Friday, well, I was fit to be tied from the moment I opened my eyes.

I started the day in my happy place, on my bike.

Ok, let’s ride and get to inner peace.  Everything else will fall into place.

With each passing mile, my thoughts just kept bouncing around back to everything that was pissing me off, everything on my To Do list…everything other than how good it was to be in that moment.

Shit, I’m not present.

Twenty three miles are finished and I notice I’m even less at peace. And now I’m just a hot, sweaty mess dripping all over the floor.

I’m in a state of resistance.

So rather than just stretch out, I jump on my Yoga mat, hit play on my favorite iTunes Zen channel…That’ll have to do

I stretch and breathe, and the resistance keeps building and building. Now I’m a couple hours into my day and I’m not at peace. Well this is a terrific start to the weekend. What to do?

Surrender-my soul whispers.

As a diehard creature of habit, opposer of change and student of life, I’ve been here many, many times before. And I’ve learned, and can only validate that, no matter how much of a ‘spiritual gangster’ we are, we’re not exempt from feeling the human experience. I sure like to resist anyways😉

Peace is not the point, being is. Just be.

Next on my agenda for the day were some errands around the city. I usually enjoy running errands here because they’re on foot (I probably use my car 5 times a month, if that?) and I get to spend that time alone with my thoughts, taking it all in, enjoying being outside…I had high hopes for Friday’s errands. And to help ensure my solemnity and anonymity, I put on my sunglasses, put in my ear buds, and headed out with my ‘Can’t Help But Be Happy’ playlist streaming directly into my head. Sometimes it’s just nice- and perfectly OK- to use barriers like these to make yourself less approachable, to make it less likely that you’ll have to tell someone you don’t understand or speak their language, to not make eye contact.

And as I’m leaving the last store on my list, I start to cry. Ahhhh, finally. Relief.

As I walk, I let the tears roll behind my sunglasses, doing my best not to question what they’re about. Because it never matters. Once finished, I was able see clearly again. Sure, it doesn’t change anything around me, but it does cleanse the lens:

I always have a choice- we all do. And the kindest choice available seems to be to show up for myself like my own best friend;

I’m not at peace. And I accept myself and this experience fully. I accept that I am not at peace.
(Thank you Eckhart Tolle for this awesome insight!)

That’s what I needed to actually feel expansive again: Acceptance.

We are all spiritual beings having a human experience- not the other  way around as our thoughts would often have us believe. And as these beings, we know that we’re here to feel good and that JOY and PEACE is our natural state.

We know that we’re in charge of what we think and how we feel. We create our reality. It’s the nature of our primitive brain- what we focus on is what we attract more of, and is what becomes our reality.

The ego, well, my ego, just looooves to poke around whenever I don’t feel good.

Ego: Ooooh, you don’t feel good?! That’s bad!! You should be feeling better than you are! How long have you been working on this stuff? You know what to do, so why aren’t you feeling good? This needs to be fixed right now! Get to inner peace already. See, if you are in charge of how you feel, why aren’t you peaceful ALL THE TIME. You suck!

Here’s the thing: no matter how empowered or awakened or knowledgeable we are, we can’t get around the nature of things. And it’s part of the human experience to have emotions that don’t feel pleasant. And that’s just fine.

The soul knows not to evaluate and just to accept. The ego judges that as weak and passive. It’s all about choice and consequence. We can’t ride or meditate or intellectualize our way around pain. It all begins with the judgement of the ego that feelings are ‘bad’ to begin with, and that in turn those ‘bad’ feelings need ‘fixing.’ That kind of pressure to always be happy, to always be peaceful, is just another way the ego is grasping, which just leads to more suffering.

When we radically accept ourselves and our situations as they are-life gets a lot more enjoyable and downstream. Which brings me to another nugget: Choosing to live a life that’s downstream. We’re taught from an early age that ‘anything worth having takes alot work,’ that we don’t ever want to be ‘lazy,’ that we must ‘fight hard for what we want.’ Well, that’s not always true. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that life never involves hard work, but rather that by changing our perspectives and our methods, these periods of work can be much gentler, a much better fit. We aren’t salmon- we don’t have to constantly fight our way upstream. We can CHOOSE downstream.

Soooooo, that all was last week.

Currently, I feel more energized, relieved, and downstream- more able to show up fully to life. Am I totally peaceful and centered? No. But I trust that the more I choose radical acceptance and surrender into feeling, dealing, healing what is…the better I feel. In the meantime, I keep taking the steps that I know help me to stay present, centered and grounded. Bottom line: I’m willing to fully accept myself and this moment.

I am definitely having more fun this way😉

 

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Thanks for allowing me the space to spread my wings a bit today. Hope everyone has a great week❤

Summer is (Practically) Here!

9 Jun

Is it the weekend yet, y’all? This week is dragging some serious…Well, let’s just say I’ve been asking that same question since Monday! Ha! I think it’s because I’m in full on Countdown Mode getting ready to go HOME in less than 2 weeks! Oh my God, I can’t wait. For so many reasons. But that’s not what this post about. We’ve had some lovely weather here over the last couple weeks and I just wanted to share some pictures with you of some of our fun times. Y’all know me- keeping it real with our everyday life in between our bigger adventures:)

First of all, a little celebration for SUMMER!

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So back to our (mostly) awesome weather…Neve had a day out of school, so that meant we had an extra day to explore a new (to us) park that we’ve been wanting to check out since we moved here! And we got to take our friends with us😉 The Killesberg Park is a huge urban park (smack dab in downtown Stuttgart!) that covers about 125 acres. Once a rock quarry, it was transformed in 1939 into a hosting space for a huge horticulture event and has remained as such ever since. Today, there’s still the most gorgeous flora and fauna, along with ponds, wildlife (including a petting zoo), observation towers (you can see the main one in the background of that top pic) and ginormous playgrounds. It is AH-MAZING.

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No, that’s not a real tortoise. Duh.😉

We’ve also been taking full advantage of the biergartens and eating outside as often as we can. I think Neve lives for Friday night meet-ups with friends! Ha! And in addition to the weather, not sure if I’ve talked about it on here before or not, but Germany has ridiculously long days with the sun rising around 5a and not setting until at least 10p. I’m not kidding- you could easily read a book outside until at least 930p! So while that’s not always helpful when it comes to winding down and going to bed, it’s super awesome when you have time after dinners to walk, to get ice cream, to sit in the park and to play❤

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What do you do when you haven’t seen your bestie in over a week?

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We sure are raising up some awesome- and beautiful- girls. Ellie is 20 months, Neve is 4 1/2, and Emmie is 6 1/2.❤

So as you can tell, we’re basking in this glimpse we’re getting of the summer ahead. In all honesty, though, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, ‘screw it, I’m going to the SC Lowcountry in a matter of days where the weather really got the memo that it’s June and time for stifling heat and humidity!’ I may not ever have on more than two articles of clothing at any given time I’m there!  Ha! But for now, it really is nice sleeping with our windows open, meandering through the parks and not bundling up to walk to school in the mornings!

We have a buddy coming into town tomorrow just for the night and to hang out on Saturday. Matt and John work together in Charleston (and we’ve all traveled together multiple times over the years) and Matt is on travel this week and next working a few hours north of here. It’ll be so good to catch up with him and show him a bit of Stuttgart- John is really excited as he has so missed his work gang. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Portugal, the (second) Adventure Phase…

4 Jun

…and our final day of vacation! We actually flew into- and out of- Porto, mainly because there’s a direct flight from Stuttgart and it’s dirt cheap. From there, we rented our car and drove the 3 hours south to the beaches of Obidos. And since our flight home departed (yes, that meant an 0’dark thirty wake up time and arriving at the airport before the sun came up *gross*), we knew we’d need to spend our last night in Porto. Luckily, we decided to make a full day of it so we could explore the city. So glad we did, too, because it was every bit as lovely as, if not moreso than, Lisbon!

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This gives you an idea of our travels. We flew into Porto on the coast in the north, then drove south to Obidos which is just south of Leiria on the sharp point. One day, we drove the hour south into Lisbon. For our final day, we headed back to Porto and flew out the next morning.

Once again, it was easiest to park outside of the city and take the train- that’s actually often the case in the bigger cities, especially the one with the narrow, old streets not originally designed for cars! Not to mention that there’s rarely space set aside for parking, so you end up wasting valuable time hunting for a spot!

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Porto is the second largest city in Portugal with about 1.4 million people. Located along the Douro river estuary, it’s one of the oldest European centers- its settlement dates back many centuries, when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire.

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They even have a TV Tower like us!

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Just like Lisbon, Porto has a zillion steep hills, lots of cobblestones and plenty of pretty painted buildings. It also has that same melding of old and new- and alot of grit- that we like so much. And while Lisbon, too, sits on the water, Porto has really set itself apart by making their riverfront, the Ribeira, the heart of their Old Town.

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I’m sure by now you’ve seen alot of the tilework going on in just about every place we visited. Well, painted tiles got their start in Portugal. Originally just for the royalty, in the 1700s, a local Porto artist began taking the craft mainstream, making it available to regular, working-class people. It quickly became ‘the thing to have’ and you can now see it all over the place, including as ‘bricks’ of the houses! 

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Its biggest claim to fame? It’s the world’s #1 (practically only!) producer of port wine. A-ha! Now you know how the wine got its name! Porto = Port, get it?😉 If you’ve never tried Port, stop reading this right now and go buy yourself a bottle. I promise it will be like Christmas in your mouth! Port wine is a fortified sweet wine that is produced from grapes grown in the Duoro River Valley. They are then taken here to Porto to be stored and aged- ie. to get better and better😉 On the far side of the river (you can see it in the picture behind Neve and John) are the ‘caves’ of Vila Nova de Gaia. 98% of the world’s port wines have been stored in barrels in these very cellars. In fact, in all countries other than the US, in order for a wine to be labeled as ‘port,’ it has to come from this region of Portugal. WOW. (In the US, any manufacturer can label their product as such. :/)

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Burmester is one of the prominent ‘caves,’ so we decided it would be perfect for a little tour.

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The Duoro Valley, about 2 hours away, is where the grapes are grown. Each vineyard then has its own cellars in Porto where the wine is brought to age. When the wine is ready, it’s taken back to the vineyards to be bottled. 

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View from the outside…

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We learned so much about port wine in just half an hour! In a nutshell, there are three main types- Ruby, Tawny and White. These are then further divided into dry, vintage, etc. Each kind requires its own types of barrels (upright round vs. laying down round, large vs. small) and its own conditions (humidity, light, etc.) Each has an intended consumption- aperitif vs. digestive- and serving style- room temperature vs. chilled. And each authentic bottle will not only be labeled with the vineyard, the cellar and the city name (Porto), but also the year that it was bottled. This is particularly interesting for vintage bottles as this will tell you the exact age. Neat, huh?

So what’s so special about the Duoro and Porto? Well, for centuries, the climate has been perfect for all the necessary components to make the perfect port wines. The Valley has optimal soil, temperatures, sunlight and rain. The far side of the river from Porto has the perfect amount of shade (it’s rarely in direct sunlight due to the hills) and crazy high humidity needed for optimal fermentation. And in olden days- when all transportation was by boat- it was relatively close.

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Today, the boats are still used for some of the transportation, along with stainless steel trucks.

And being the water junkies that we are, we couldn’t wait to ride on the boat! Yep, we were all in our happy place❤

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Where the Duoro meets the Atlantic…

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And with our wine and water whims satisfied, we headed back across the bridge to do a bit more exploring of the Old Town…

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Their main bridge, the Pont Luis 1, was built by Gustave Eiffel’s protege. Impossible to guess that, right?😉

Can’t beat the views from the bridge!

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Located at the historical city center, the Porto Cathedral is one of the city’s oldest monuments (1110) and one of the most important Romanesque monuments in all of Portugal. 

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Major hill climbing! (Much easier to do the ones with steps than without! Ha!)

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Built in 1283 and located in the historic city center, this cathedral is the most prominent Gothic monument in Portugal and is considered one of the most ornate cathedrals (inside) in the world.

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This is how much I love y’all! See the ‘no picture’ warning right there? Yeah, well here’s not one, but TWO!, pictures for you!

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Now, cathedral decorum can be really personal and super subjective. And this is a perfect example of that. This particular beauty- with all of its intricate woodwork, amazing carvings and unending gold leafing- did absolutely nothing for me. I’m always drawn to clean lines, vibrant stained glass and marbled stoneworks…I found the Sao Francisco interior to be gaudy and busy, too much of everything and alot of places for dust to collect. Sure, some of the carvings were so intricate and beautiful, but I just couldn’t appreciate them with all the glitz and feeling of chaos. John- and Neve- didn’t see it this way at all. They found all the gilded surfaces to be so impressive and truly unique. They loved the gold and were in awe of all the talent- and money- that had to go into crafting such a vision. No wonder there are so many different types of architecture all around the world! Different strokes for different folks!😉

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One of John’s favorite meals of the whole trip! Yep, that’s an octopus steak! (That’s a filet mignon on my plate, beneath the egg😉 )

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Isn’t she a ham?!❤

So after a gorgeous fun day and a delicious riverfront dinner, we said goodnight to Porto, packed our bags and set our alarms for 4a to make our way back home. What a really, really, really good trip it was- the perfect medley of relaxation and adventure. The perfect 6 days for our trio- the kind that makes you truly thankful for what, and who, you have. Not that we don’t always know these things, but a reminder every once in a while never hurts.❤

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Portugal, the (First) Adventure Phase…

3 Jun

…and boy did we cover a whole lotta ground! As I told you yesterday, our main goal with this trip was relaxation, reconnection and rejuventation. Our usual trekking around big cities took a backseat, which meant that we chose to only spend one day in each Lisbon and Porto. And while different than our norm, we all agreed that we thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace! One thing I realized, though, is that I have way too many pictures of each city to combine them into one post. It just wouldn’t do either city any justice!

First up, Lisbon. Our resort was in Obidos, about an hour north of the city. Since we had a rental car (60€ for the whole 6 days!), we got a chance to really get a good feel for the northern part of the country. You’ve never seen so many mountains and hills in your life- in the countryside or in the cities!

See what I mean? They’re gorgeous! Although I will say that these shots make things appear a bit greener than they actually are. We were both surprised, in fact, at how tan/sandy/clay-y/almost arid the Portuguese landscape is. I guess because they’re known for having some pretty good, sunny weather, we just expected more of a lush- maybe even tropic- feel, but not so much…Still so pretty.

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Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal, is the 11th largest metropolitan region in the EU with a population of about 2.8 million people.  It’s one of the major economic centers in Europe, with a growing financial sector and one of the largest container ports on Europe’s Atlantic coast.

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals like London, Paris and Rome by centuries. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. Ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural centre of Portugal. Unlike most capital cities, Lisbon’s status as the capital of Portugal has never been granted or confirmed officially – by statute or in written form. Its position as the capital was formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the Constitution of Portugal.

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A neat little side note here. Neve views- and chooses- all of her clothes based on their ‘tickly-ness.’ She pulls them taught by wrapping them around one hand, then tickles the palm of that hand with the fingernails of the other hand. (The above picture gives you an idea of what this looks like- and shows how ridiculously sweet she is! Gah!) Thin, smooth, slicky fabrics are the best, of course, but it can be done with some cotton and knits with a little added effort😉  Two neat things about this cute quirk…First, she was born with it and started doing it with the fabric of her swaddle sack before she could even roll over (!) and we still can only have pillow cases that a) have a hole on one end and b) are made of the silkiest fabrics (translation: expensive!) as she tickles every single time she falls asleep. Second, I was (and still am) a tickler, too! I had blankets with silk edges that I used to tickle my palms for many years and still get John to tickle my  back at least once a week! So the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with my girl!❤

OK, back to Lisbon! The other reason I posted that picture is to show Neve’s boredom after we’d been waiting nearly an hour to catch the city’s infamous old Tram #28 that takes visitors around to many of the major attractions. Trams are the main mode of transportation in the heart of the city and have been for decades.

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However, still having at least 30 minutes to go before it would our turn to board, up came a Tuk Tuk. What’s a Tuk Tuk, you ask? Well, it’s hard to describe. It’s like a covered moped taxi. That’s probably the best I can do. See for yourself:

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Long story short, for a super reasonable price, we hired a Tuk Tuk- with its driver, of course- to take the three of us all over the city and tell us what we were seeing. GENIUS. In less than 2 hours, we’d been up and down oodles of hills, winded through the narrowest of ancient alleyways, seen several different neighborhoods and ALL of the major attractions…Plus, it was all done with our own personal tour guide, Tiago, educating us along the way! Neve was in Heaven with how adventurous this was. Totally meant to be.

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View from the back seat. That’s Tiago driving. He’s hoping to save the €14,000 needed to buy his own Tuk Tuk by the end of this year. Once he can work for himself, he expects to earn about €7000/month.

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Our first stop was the highest point in the city so we could get the perfect overview. It really helped us to get our bearings and to see just how vast the city is, along with the flow of the Tagus River.

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The Lisbon Bridge was modeled after the Golden Gate Bridge.

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That’s the castle on top of the hill in the distance.

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We were so high that we had to put on our jackets to help block the wind!

Just the riding around the city was fun- and educational- in itself. It gave us a truer sense of inner city life, too. As you might imagine, the trams are on tracks and therefore, have to stay on the more beaten, wider paths. Not Tuk Tuks! We could go anywhere! We got to see the nooks and crannies, the vibrant colors, the locals…

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Remember a few months ago when we were talking about Budapest and how we liked that it felt ‘lived in’ and had some ‘grit,’ just like we felt in Prague? Well, Lisbon has the same grittiness- that wonderful marriage of old and new, of vibrant and dull, of life and decay…We loved the orange tiled roofs, the rainbow painted buildings, the cobblestones…And we liked that they were ‘real,’ as opposed to being painted and pristine for tourists.

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Oldest cathedral in the city, 1147.

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Originally a church, the Pantheo was converted into a burial place for notable Portuguese personalities. What makes it unique is that it’s not religious figures buried here- it’s people who had an influence in the city, including musicians, artists and philanthropists. 

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Lisbon had street signs before the US was even a country!

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Overview of Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon…

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Someone bought this property to build a house on…When they started digging for the foundation, they found an ancient Roman amphitheater! 

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Our Tuk Tuk for the day😉

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This is the entrance to the castle I pointed out in the overview picture above. It’s a Moorish fortress from medieval times known for its well-fortified citadel.

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One of the best doors I’ve ever seen! (I have a thing for doors- I have pictures of them from all the cities we’ve visited- this one was just particularly awesome!) The one a few up from this is also among the awesome- two in one post! Ha!

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John was in his element with all the squid and octopus salads everywhere! This was his favorite of the entire week and only cost €4!

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Dad, John insisted on this picture just so you could marvel at the wiring with him😉

Now y’all know how much we love stumbling onto a good market, right?! Well, that’s what happened just as we were finishing up our day making our way back to the train (we parked outside of the city and trained in that morning). The Baixa Mercado takes up the entire famous Rossio Square and is jam packed with local artists, chefs and mixologists. Be still my heart! And speaking of mixologists, Lisbon’s (and Obidos’) signature drink is the liqueur, Ginjinja. It’s made by infusing ginja berries (sour cherries) with liquor and sugar, then serving in a small chocolate shot glass. Delish.

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And with that, we made our way back to Obidos for the night, feeling like we’d really covered alot of ground in just a day. No, we didn’t get into the depths as much as we’re used to (ie. touring inside the churches, exploring inside the castles, etc.), but we got a really good idea of what Lisbon is all about, its flare, it’s vibe. And we dig it.

You know what else we dig? Porto, Portugal’s oldest- and second largest- city. Please stop back by once more tomorrow- or Monday:) – for our second Portuguese Adventure Phase! Happy Weekend, y’all!

Portugal, the Relaxation Phase…

2 Jun

…and oh how I wish we were still there in that phase! Instead, we’re back here in Stuttgart and I’m listening to the rain fall outside my window. *Sigh* And to make matters worse, apparently I picked up a snot bug somewhere along the way and now I’m wrapped up like a burrito on my couch, feeling like death, and taking solace in oodles of pretty pictures- and sharing all of the last week’s amazingness with all of you guys😉

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So we had the BEST time in Portugal. Seriously, one of the best adventures we’ve been on in a very long time. It’s as though all the stars just lined up- a new country that looks so different than most of Europe, a new culture that is so friendly and inviting, a new cuisine (who knew that the Portuguese eat more fish than anyone else in the world?!), the most perfect weather…But what really was the most special part was that it was just the three of us, exploring and basking in all of the above, and truly enjoying one another. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how important it is to water one’s own garden…and that’s exactly what we did. We came home with gardens full of bright blooms- and very full hearts❤

OK, enough with the feels and onto the good stuff! Y’all, I have 277 pictures from our five days in Portugal, it was THAT pretty! So in an effort to lighten the load, I’ve done everybody a favor and split the post in half- the Relaxation Phase (beaches, pools, countrysides) and the Adventure Phase (Lisbon and Porto). Now to narrow down the best shots to share! Ha!

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Our absolute favorite thing about this trip was where we stayed- outside the small coastal village of Obidos about an hour north of Lisbon. We had done tons of research ahead of time trying to decide the best location- we almost always end up in the heart of the big cities, mainly because they’re the most convenient and give the most authentic feel of immersion. But this time, our goal itself was different. Our goal was just to be together- to relax, to recharge and to breathe. When we found this resort- at least 15 minutes away from civilization, down remote country roads- we knew it was perfect.

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Headed out to paradise…

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Who would’ve guessed the oasis that awaited us at the end of this road?! Perched high on the cliffs overlooking the blue water and white sand beaches, Praia del Rey. It’s one of the most beautiful areas we’ve ever been to.

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Stepping out of our front door, heading down to the beach…

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Before we continue, just a bit about Portugal because…well, you know me! Portugal is the westernmost country in Europe, sharing the Iberian Peninsula with Spain. The land within the borders of current Portugal has been continuously settled, invaded and fought over since prehistoric times. In other words, it’s super old and in fact, some of the first evidence of Homo Sapiens have been found there. The Iberians, Celts, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and the Romans were followed by the invasions of the Visigothic and the Germanic peoples, who were themselves later invaded by the Moors. These Muslim peoples were eventually expelled during the Christian Reconquista. Portuguese nationality can be traced back to the creation of the First County of Portugal, in 868. In 1139, Afonso Henriques was proclaimed King of Portugal, thus firmly establishing Portuguese independence.

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Just a little visual of our travel…

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Every restaurant has these ‘door greeters.’ We never had the heart to tell her their real purpose😦

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Bathing caps are required at indoor pools in Portugal. She thought they were awesome!

And just a few neat Portugal factoids…It’s the leading producer of cork in the world, although the industry is struggling as the wine industry continues to shift away from cork bottle toppers. Eucalyptus forests cover 7% of the country (!) as they were planted in the 1970s to help with erosion- they’ve since taken over and grown rapidly. (The smell is HEAVENLY!) Apparently Portugal is known for its wind- it’s often consistently with gusts of 25 mph! Another interesting industry is pine resin, used in turpentine. We actually had to look this one up ourselves (and examine up close and personal!) after seeing lots of little buckets hanging from the pine trees headed out to the resort. Best part? Tapping the trees doesn’t harm them in any way. Very neat, right?

And last but not least, a few government tidbits…Portugal’s economy is in the rebuilding phase as it was part of the major EU bailout back in 2011. (This translates into it being an excellent time to visit!) It’s the first- and only- country in the world to decriminalize all drugs. Yep, possession of all substances- up to 10 days worth of individual use- is allowed, although trafficking and distribution is not. The government will offer- and pay for- drug and alcohol rehab. The maximum prison sentence for any crime is 25 years- they do not have the death penalty.

OK, on with the picture party!:) Right down the road from Obidos is the little fishing village of Peniche. Two awesome things about this town- it’s had lots of fossils from the Jurassic period and it’s one of the top surfing destinations in the world, second only to Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline. Who knew?!

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Dinner one night overlooking the lagoon…

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A wonderful unexpected highlight of our trip…See those people, and sweet pup, obstructing our lovely view of the lagoon? Well, their soon-to-be 4-year-old, Florence, was playing just out of the shot to the left and about 15 minutes after this picture was taken, Neve finished her dinner and wanted to play, too. Long story short, we all ended up out on the patio until long after the sun had set and a new friendship was born.❤ J and D are from England and have a vacation home just a few hundred yards from our resort. We spent the next day enjoying our vacation all together at their villa, then took the party into town for some walking and ice cream eating. Neve is still talking about her new best friend, Florence!

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Neve and Florence

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The best street performer guy I’ve ever seen!

The most fun day, right?! Such a lovely day for all of us and I truly think that we will see these sweet friends again. We have so much in common, including a mutual travel addiction!, so who knows, maybe we can plan a trip somewhere exotic one of these days!😉 Needless to say, here’s how much fun Neve had and how John and I unwound ourselves:

There really couldn’t have been a better vacation for the three of us if it were written in a storybook. I know I say similar things about many of our adventures- and it’s true that we truly love all of the new experiences and fun that our traveling lifestyle affords- but sometimes you just get extra lucky with an extra special one that refills every single one of your tanks.We really are lucky. And blessed.

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Sunset from our balcony…

Join me tomorrow- same time, same place- for the other half of our Portuguese getaway- exploring the hills and narrow cobblestone streets of Lisbon and Porto! I promise the pictures are (nearly) just as pretty😉

 

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