Did we really need that word picture? 

Halló!I (Evin) am sending greetings from Iceland ! If you follow our Instagram, or if you just read that previous sentence. You know that I am no longer in Croatia, or Thailand and neither are Izze and Amelia. Clearly I haven’t written a post since. That’s because I suppose I am better at eating food rather than consistently writing about it, oops. Don’t get me wrong I attempted! But I don’t believe I ever promised I would. I think I just said “get ready for more” or something like that. So I hope you’ve all been getting ready, I gave you all a long time…(Oh you didn’t think this whole post was about food did you…) Well there will be talk of food. And also things not about food. Now enough about what I may have or haven’t said. Here is a update from me. 

The Delightful The T.M.I and The Questionable- A poem by Evin about all the things.

We celebrated my 20th year                   

We had leftover wine and zebra cakes do not fear

Our dirty underwear washed in someones sink

Don’t worry I threw away the sponge…I think

14 hours in a train

Couldn’t poop or I would fall in the drain

Riding scooters all around Pai

Feeling like I could fly

Pad Thai noodles will begin to grow from my ear

And Tom Yum soup was always near

Amelia in a Thai hospital though not from an extra drink

Man, that night really did stink

Bamboo tattoo? We couldn’t refrain

I know I know how mundane 

Caves, waterfalls and temples of beauty that could make one cry

Desired to learn about all of them, but only if we try

Dinner on a stick, played with the little bug like a puppeteer 

He was small enough to come out your rear

Eiffel Tower could use a skating rink

Too over the top? Maybe just on the brink

Dachau Memorial in the rain 

We realize the importance to remember the pain

Little that we can buy

On day 1 salami meat and cheese are desirable to the eye

Reykjavik Penis museum sightseer 

Space pods at night to disappear 

Smiling until our faces are forced to blink

Crying until I turn pink

On a farm there is much to maintain

As well a much knowledge to gain

Horses can be a bit shy

But not Frosti, he is my guy

Don’t milk cows in your favorite casimir

Because soon a ton of shit will appear

Icelandic lambs are softer than mink

If you own mink perhaps you should re-think

Animals don’t seem to be in pain

Despite their being part of the food chain

The sun still sits high

But it’s 11:30pm so I must say my goodbye

Of course that isn’t all that has happened since but I think it gives some good mental pictures ( and some not) and leaves some to be saved for later.

For a quick tid bit of something related to food. Last night we had lamb, not sure if it was our lamb or from another farm. Either way I hope I did not floss little Sean out of my teeth… 

Until next time my friends, no promises made this time, perhaps that will help me post more frequently.

Much love and much smelling like farm, Ev. 

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Amelia Landenberger on – Uncontrollable bodily functions

image

It can happen. It will happen. It’s happened to me.

The other day I got hit with a classic Thai stomach bug. And I got hit hard.

I’ll spare everyone the details because I’m sure we’re all familiar enough to let our imaginations do the dirty work. Under different circumstances it would have only been unpleasant and awkward. But because I hadn’t been taking proper care of myself- not sleeping enough, not drinking enough water, and not having eaten much that day- it turned out to be a more serious problem then it should have been.

Long story short I ended up laying on the floor of a public restroom, almost unconcious, wearing nothing but my bra and underwear, and covered in sweat and whatever -I try to not think- was on that bathroom floor. I couldn’t move but I couldn’t stay there. If it hadn’t been so scary, it could have been comically pathetic.

We ended up calling an ambulance as the very sweet Thai women working there hovered nervously over us making sure I had everything I needed. Her also very sweet daughter apparently offered me her doll to make me feel better – how frieken sweet!

Everything ended up just fine. We made it to the hospital and a blur of Thai doctors and nurses poked and prodded me as I tried, without real success to get sleep on the uncomfortable hospital bed. By around 11 we found our way back to our comfortable new hotel -to treat ourselves- and I slept through the night.

Despite it being easily the worst night of my trip so far I can proudly say that I was able to find multiple silver linings in the mess. First of which being that, even covered in sweat and who knows what else and barely conscious on the floor, my lovely, amazing, hilarious, supporting friends and I were able to find the comedy in the situation. Between the fear and exhaustion that we all experienced that night we were able to laugh, to take photos, and to make poop jokes that most might have thought to be a little too soon to be appropriate.

The second is along the same vein. That however terrible I felt that night, I am sure I would not made it through without my lovely, amazing, hilarious, supporting friends Izze and Evin there doing essentially everything for me.

The next day was Mother’s Day and I got to talk for a good long while with my mama back home who, especially after that night, I miss terribly. I’m feeling very weary of traveling, of the heat in Thailand, and being away from home. But to make up for it, I have amazing travel companions and we help each other, we mom each other, and we make each other laugh no matter what shit circumstances we’re handed. (Pun intended?)

 

p.s. The responsible message to take away from this would probably be to drink enough water!

Some people want tattoos of yin and yang, I want one of a head of lettuce and a donut…

I know I promised that I (Evin) wouldn’t make another super long post…but I did (sorry not sorry). But this time I am writing my first, of many, blog posts about food. The is my first attempt at my witty food blog, so it will get better!!! Or it will plummit and increasingly become worse. So sit back, grab a head of lettuce, bag of salt and vinegar chips, or your own snack of choice and settle in for my first novel about food. 
I was standing in the hostel kitchen cooking my dehydrated pasta carbonara (because cheap and nomz) and just as I thought I was done writing this blog post I decided this post would never be done. This topic is way too large for me and constantly becoming more complex at the same time as it becomes less complex (what? Did I just type that… Yes I did). I was listening to some of my fellow hostel-mates talking about vegans and and all that vegan jazz. I found myself annoyed without a real reason. Maybe cause I was having separation anxiety from my vegan days?….ha. I sat in the bathroom for a second (I find the bathroom a sacred space) and reached this conclusion. 

I love eating like a vegan and doing crossfit. I also love eating bread, cheese, donuts, cheese, Nutella, and absurd amounts of strange things. I like them both. And I want them both to be a part of my life. This past year I thought it was one or the other. But it’s not, because neither one all the time is healthy. So I guess where I’m at or where I am trying to get, is my personal balance. Which I will have to figure out on my own. I have also had to come to terms that it’s not going to happen all of the sudden or be super easy all the time. 

Since traveling, this has been on my mind a lot because sometimes we have to buy what’s cheaper and not always the most healthy option. Or I simply want to enjoy the experience of food and so I say fuck it, let’s eat gelato every day in Hvar because damn, it’s amazing. Hmmmm and then maybe eat a head of lettuce here and there.

 I’ve been thinking about how to go about writing this for awhile. I have been thinking of clever ways of starting, instead of just starting. So here it is. Word vomit of my experience and struggle with being the always “slightly curvier” friend and my love hate relationship I have with food. Everyone who knows me only really knows the love side, the side that could almost out-eat any guy. And don’t get me wrong, I’m proud when I do. I am wanting to experience all the food and not worry that my body may change as a result. 

Some people know that I recently added meat back into my diet. I did this because while traveling, I wanted to be able to experience all that a place had to offer. And I am thrilled with that choice! Food is such a large part of culture, and I felt if I was constantly saying “is there meat in that” or asking for the meat dish without the meat (because I have done that) I would not only be that annoying American, but I would also be missing out on a key part of a culture. 

This is my view towards a lot of things: try everything, and experience it all. From the ham and cheese paninis, from the small take out bakeries to the traditional black pudding (pigs blood) in the Scottish breakfast. I am happy that I am trying everything! So there is the positive side, but something many people don’t see is the struggle I have experienced since puberty – being the curvier of the friends. But always wanting to “keep up” with all the junk food sleep overs and experiencing delicious food. After I started becoming increasingly self conscious as well as becoming interested in crossfit I decided to try something I had never committed to. Loosing weight. So last summer I went to one extreme which was good in some ways but bad in others. I learned I could control how I look but only if I became obsessive about the foods I was eating and the work outs I was doing. I ate the same thing for almost three months (delicious at times and bland at others), had dessert once every two weeks, did cross fit 4 days a week, ran for an hour two days a week, walked for an hour one day a week, and had one light rest day. Sound exhausting? It was. As happy as I was with my body transforming closer and closer to my , and other peoples “ideal,” I also was loosing a relationship that I have had since I was young. The one with food! And some of the positivity towards my views about my body. And I was loosing some of the ones that are created and flourish when food is a part of them. 

Hmmmm isn’t this the opposite of what should happen? I became obsessive. That obsession then drove me to the other end of the spectrum. The “fuck it” attitude. I should eat want I want and not worry about what will happen to my body and then lead to the way society will view me. 

Currently I find my self back and forth between the two as I travel abroad. Part of me is very confident in the person I am and stands by my love for enjoying all that life has to give, especially with all that comes from trying and indulging in food! I love food! Can you tell I enjoy to eat food? I am not ashamed of that! But this is where I tell who ever is reading, for the first time in a public setting about the negative side. There have been days that I said I just won’t eat anything all day so that I can eat some thing wonderful at dinner with Izze and Amelia. Then for sure I will be eating less calories and with all the walking I won’t gain any weight. Sure I could sustain this…. Of course not! For one, my love of food. And second, thinking “Evin, this is not mentally healthy.” And yet I come to the same place as usual. What am I doing and why am I doing it. I wish I could end this with “I feel great about my relationship with food and how it affects the one with my body.” But I can’t because it changes every day. 

This is NOT a cry for help. This is my way of trying to process while I am traveling abroad while also trying to enjoy and process all the amazing things I am experiencing here. I am taking life day by day, I have come to terms with the fact that I can feel something one moment and it can change the next. One thing I am certain of and that I do not question is this: I have a love for food, our relationship is a special one 😉 (no one will understand us), I love experiencing a culture through food, and creating relationships when sharing meals. And lastly I appreciate my body. Like with any relationships there are ups and downs, good days and bad days. Yes, I am comparing my relationship with food to those I share with humans. I know I am not the only woman who struggles with the fear of gaining weight while traveling or just in general! And this is a fear I want to tell myself is a silly one, but if it truly were so silly, I could dismiss it easily. But I cannot. 

There will be days that I will eat meat, bread and cheese and feel absolutely wonderful about it. And there will be days that I eat nothing but vegetables all day. But as I think more and more and go further with my travels, I have also realized that I should be present here in my travels and that gaining some weight is inevitable! I would rather be trying street food and cultural dishes than worrying excessively about eating this or that and how it will make me look. Here are some tips that I have been incorporating into my life to try and find my balance:

1. Stop constantly looking in the mirror (easier said than done…classic. But the more you do it the easier it gets) 

2. Not comparing my body to that of my travel companions and other women (be original Evin… But it’s true. And, again, easier said than done. Trust me, I know. But catching myself while I do it and just saying “I don’t need to do this” truly makes it a practice. 

3. Smiling at myself in the mirror. Do it! 

4. Doing squats when I have spare time, literally at random moments. Great squat times: while brushing your teeth, while waiting for water to boil, in the shower (carefully)… You get it. Also we try and do 50 squats a day! Fun group activity… Kinda.

5. Yoga!!! Stretching!!! And meditation!!! And this isn’t to try and build up physical strength (well, part of it is) but I find myself building up my mental strength with each practice. Doing yoga for ten minutes with a quick meditation after leaves me feeling blissful.

5. Incorporating veggies and fruits when I can. Sometimes it’s not buying a bunch of both, cause that expensive. But buying a bag of apples or chowing down on a head of lettuce, or your veggies and fruits of choice, is more cost effective and yummy. 

6. Not completely restricting! Don’t not eat all day just for that one meal at the end of the day!

7. Eat when I’m hungry, (unless of course there is gelato involved). 

8. And the easiest of all is walking! We walk pretty much everywhere! It feels great to be able to get pretty much anywhere with my two feet! And it burns calories! 

9. Talk to the parts of my body I feel least comfortable about. Yes just sit down and have a nice convo with my tummy.

10. Laugh!! Laugh so hard you almost pee! Laugh so hard it hurts. Relish in the moments with (insert your friendly humans here) 

I hope that this is as helpful to others to read as it was for me to write it. 

Much love and appreciation. 

Traveler’s Exhaustion 

It’s real, unfortunately. It’s a real thing that travelers, like myself, experience from time to time. We get to the point where every church looks the same, every city center is just as full of good food as any other, and we just feel done with it all, it doesn’t have the same effect that it all once did. 
I felt like an ass when I started feeling like this. I thought “Izze, you’re traveling the world right now, you’re literally backpacking through Europe, aka realizing one of your dreams, and you’re unhappy?” I honestly wanted so badly to just throw the towel in and go home. I thought I couldn’t take it any more. 
I had been traveling for almost four months by this time, and I basically felt that my hypothetical experience cup was full. I felt saturated in culture, in new cities, in exploring, in being uncomfortable and I just wanted to have some normalcy, some routine. I had been so many beautiful places, walked through some great museums and town squares, met loads of wonderful people, and ate a ton of delicious food. But these things were beginning to lose their exotic magic in my head. 
I had a moment which I was standing on top of a mountain in Croatia, overlooking the entire island and then a few others, if I looked hard enough I could probably see Italy – and I felt nothing. No feeling of awe, no wonder, no feeling of striking beauty. And after that, I continued to feel a lot of nothing. 
My backpack was feeling heavier and heavier and I thought that if I had to pick it up one more time, I’d just let it pull me over and I’d stay right there on the ground. If I had to take one more overnight bus ride, I’d ask the driver to just take me to the nearest airport. 
The traveler inside me was spent. I thought that I didn’t have the energy which I wanted to put into this journey. If you read my last post, I talk about how I believe the energy which we put into an experience greatly affects how we will then experience it. And for the most part, I had been able to keep my energy up and put what I wanted to into everyday. But now it felt like I just had no more energy to use. It wasn’t bad or good energy, there just wasn’t any. 
I want to remember every place that I’ve been to, to have stories to share at the ready at all times, I want to be able to process everything and be able to use my experiences for growth. 
But I realized a few things.
First, that’s not totally realistic. We don’t remember everyday of our lives, that’s what journals and photos and the Internet is for, to remember things for us. 
Secondly, I don’t have to process everything right way. A lot of my reflection will come when I actually am home, and have this whole experience to look at. For now, I need to remember to just be here. I’ll repeat – just be here. Be present, be active, just be, and then let the reflection come afterwards. If I try to process it all now, I’ll be distracted from where I’m actually at. 
Thirdly, after a talk with my parents and some time to myself, I remembered that it’s okay to be tired, to feel burnt out. I constantly had this feeling that because I’m traveling, that I need everyday to be full of some profound experience, that I need to squeeze in as much as I possibly can to each place I visit. I felt guilty when we had a day doing almost nothing. 
But I realized that my expectations for myself and this trip were set a little too high. Everyday isn’t going to be a crazy adventure. Some days will be spent in our beds watching tv and eating entire blocks of cheese – and that’s okay. It’s okay to be tired. People might think that this is just a long vacation, and don’t get me wrong, I’ve had the luxury of no homework or really any responsibilities besides keeping my backpack safe and myself alive for the last four months, but it gets tiring from time to time. It’s hard work navigating the world. And we need to remember to take care of ourselves, listen to what our bodies need, what our heads need. 
So I did, I listened to my body and my mind, we had some really good talks. I came so close to coming home, I even looked up tickets back to Denver. I gave myself four days to decide what I’d do, to allow both options to be options for all four days while I let myself relax and think and recharge a little bit. 
I’ve made the ultimate decision to stay on this journey. This was a dream that my two best friends and I created together and I intend to see it through. All I needed was some fresh air, some time on the beach, and a little help from my community of friends and family to get through my traveler’s exhaustion. 
I’m lucky to say that I’m traveling with two of the most supportive people in the world. They allowed me to talk through my mental state with them, listening closely, offering advice and ideas, confessing that of course they’d be bummed to see me go, but if it’s what I need to do, then they’ll support me.
So I guess traveler’s exhaustion is a thing, and if you are someone who ever experiences it, or any kind of life exhaustion, just remember first & foremost, it’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to have a day in. Listen to what your body, mind, soul, etc. needs and interact with it. Talk with yourself. Seek help from others if you need it. Disregarding it can only make it worse. And then do the things that you need to do to recharge, re-inspire yourself. 
Create a space for yourself to do so. Maybe it’s going to get coffee on your own, or taking a 30 minute shower and then sitting on your bed in your towel until your hair dries, or maybe it’s going for a run or maybe it’s eating a full pizza by yourself. You know you best, and if you’re still getting to know you, allow yourself to interact with you, to find & create you. We’re not robots, we’re imperfect as human beings, and all we can do is our best. 
This is starting to get cheesier than I originally intended, but those are the words I have for you today. Now I’m off to eat an entire pizza to myself (and probably won’t finish so Evin will end up finishing it for me).

Amelia Landenberger on – the BLARF

Backpacking is tricky for the variety of human who enjoys stuff.

That may sound vague. By “stuff” I mean just stuff in general. All/any kind of stuff. Clothes, blankets, toiletries, sports equipment, mugs, that one book you probably won’t read because you’ve started about 5 times and don’t get past the third chapter. Stuff.

Hello. My name is Amelia and I too am a “stuff addict.” This addiction usually manifests for me in clothes. And so naturally I spent a guiltily large amount of time planning for this trip thinking about what I would pack. We were backpacking after all. There’s just so little space!! We also had to plan for various different climates. Some hot, some cold, some in posh metropolitan cities and some off in some mountain miles from a town. I had a lot of elements to think about.

In this article I will let you in on a little secret. A packing tip, one might say, although I would argue that it has nothing to do with packing, something to do with style, and all to do with the BLARF.

What is a BLARF you ask? Well a BLARF, or less commonly called a Skanket, is a magical, magical little item. It is versatile, it is cozy, it’s relatively easy to pack, and it’s classy fuck.
The BLARF is a blanket, any pattern or fabric of your choice, that, wrapped around your shoulders and or neck, become a type of scarf or poncho.
-But Amelia, you are describing a shawl.
Oh, simpleton, how wrong you are. A BLARF is far more majestic than a common shawl. A shawl is made and bred for wearing. A BLARF, like a wild horse, was forced into your control; it is a blanket you have broken to become a scarf. That is one of the many wonders of the BLARF.

Another of its many talents is versatility. For this reason, it becomes a packing essential. It is warm, can be added on top of almost anything, and -if done right- can make you look effortlessly cozy-casual.
Cold on a bus ride? Blanket!
Neck uncomfortable on a plane? Pillow!
Only have dirty wrinkled tank tops? Cover up!
Suddenly starts raining? Hooded shawl!
Need to burry your face is shame? No problem!

Added bonus- BLARF is incredibly fun to say. Just try it yourself. Do it. Try it!

I could go on but then I would be taking the fun out of discovering the magic of the BLARF for yourself.

Update from Evin… Finally

“Monday March 28- Well I haven’t journaled at all since leaving school. I was really good at finding excuses, like not having time. Which was sometimes valid. But I also think that a big part of it was that I was in a pretty good place mentally and wasn’t struggling with processing a lot. It was actually amazing that there wasn’t many things that happened that I didn’t have anyone to talk to about . At the beginning of my stay in breck I was worried that I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to about personal or odd things. Izze and Amelia were on a different content! But little did I know I would become so close with many wonderful people that I could share beautiful things with…”

….that was the beginning of my (Evin) first journal entry out of the states. Literally. I was in a plane probably over the ocean. Saying goodbye to my cozy mountain habitat that I had become very in love with. I had a wonderful 3 months and exactly 85 days of work. Packed with waist

deep powder days, karaoke nights, humans that have become dearto me and so many other unforgettable moments. As I kept saying in my Instagram posts, leaving breck was bittersweet. I couldn’t possibly be too saddened when I was leaving to travel other countries with my two favorite ladies. I should tell you all that plans have changed from our ordinal itinerary. Which we could have guessed because nothing ever goes as planned, as it should be. That would make life quite boring. So instead of stating out devious plans and then telling our new ones. I am just going to say our new ones, again this is what we know of as now, but there’s always the chance and opportunity for them changing. First I met Izze and Amelia in London. That same night we bussed from London to Manchester . From Manchester we found ourselves in our current location, Edinburgh, Scotland. Now that we are caught up to the present, let’s discuss the future (as we know it). From Edinburgh we will travel to Croatia, from there we will go onto Thailand, next comes Paris and (this is a little fuzzy), but we do know that from Paris and if any other places that we do small trips from we will go to Iceland and then back to the states! The end of our trip becomes a little different for each of us. I will be staying in Iceland for about a month and then heading home to the states. Oh man oh man. 

My excitement hasn’t ceased, each day a rush of excitement comes over me when I realize the journey that we are on. It’s been about 15 days since I left breck and although it’s been quite the transition. I am thankful for all that I have and will learn and this opportunity. As Dr. Seuss says in one of my favorite books: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”. It’s up to us all individually what we will do with our lives and HOW we will will go about living. Much Love- Evin 

P.S. My next post won’t be nearly as long. I just wanted to update everyone. 

  

U oK? Mini Update 

So here  we are in Edinburgh, Scotland.

You might be wondering why the hell we’re in Edinburgh, Scotland and not in Italy. 

Here’s the deal. During our original planning and researching period, we were looking up visas and the laws about traveling in & out of all these countries, and we came across this thing called the Schengen area. Have you heard of it? No? Well let me fill you in. 

The Schengen area is, truly, a fabulous thing. It allows most of the countries in Europe to function as one big country, more or less, meaning that those with European or UK passports or visas can travel through the area easily. Doesn’t it sound great? 

It is. But not for us rather naive set of travelers. For people with American passports and no visas, it means that we cannot be in any combination of the member countries for longer than 90 days. So we couldn’t be in Spain for 2.5 months, then go to Italy for another month, and THEN go to Iceland for one more month without a visa. They’re all member countries and we would have been there for closer to 150 days, and then get kicked out and banned from entering the area again for five years. 

No thanks. 

So, anyway, we read about this thing early on in our planning, with enough time to apply for and get a visa – had we done that. But we were a little confused about this area and what it really meant for us, so we asked a travel agent friend about it. Through some possible miscommunication and/or general confusion, we somehow came to the conclusion that this thing wasn’t actually going to be a problem for us. 

Oh how wrong we were. 

A few months later, literally days before Amelia and I were set to leave for Spain, we revisited our Schengen research and, not really to our surprise, our original fears were confirmed. Our original travel plans were to be thrown out the window. Since Amelia & I had committed ourselves to these families in Spain, we couldn’t get out of spending 2.5 months in the Schengen, and there was no way we were about to get a visa in time, of course. 

So we were presented with a new challenge, to completely reconstruct our journey. One thing we did do right in this situation was that we only had two tickets purchased – our ticket to Spain and our ticket home from Iceland, but everything in between was open, so we didn’t have to worry about canceling any tickets. 

For me, Izze here, this challenge was more exciting than anything. There was a moment of fear at the beginning when we first discovered our new fate. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to do any trip. Plus I felt like a total idiot. But what is a journey without a radical change of plans? Amongst these three jolly wanderers. 

After the brief wave of fear and uncertainty moved over, I got excited. We now had another chance to make our trip into almost anything we wanted it to be. We got to create a new journey with different destinations and possibilities for adventure. How cool is that?

 I’ve always prided myself in being incredibly adaptable. I can sleep anywhere, eat almost anything, and remain content. I find it much better to roll with the punches and see what experiences I can gain from saying YES to things, embracing change, and taking out of it what I can find or generate on my own. (This has created an interesting relationship with myself and my ability to say no and ask for what I want, but that’s another post).

In one of my favorite movies, Across the Universe, there’s a dinner conversation happening between an uncle and a nephew. The nephew is explaining his reasoning for dropping out of Yale, and the uncle is telling him about how that’s a horrible idea and his ruining his future and blah blah blah. Eventually it comes down to the Max, the nephew, saying “Isn’t it about who I am and not what I do?” To which uncle Teddy replies “No, Maxwell, what you do defines who you are.” And Max coming back with “No, uncle Teddy, who you are defines what you do.” After which he turns to his new, English friend Jude and says “What do you think, Jude?” And after being put directly on the spot, he very sheepishly answers “Well…surely it’s not what you do…but how you do it.” 

This interaction can be applied too many parts of my life, and may aspects of this journey, as well, but for now I’ll make it about this adaptability talk.

Basically, I believe that the way which we are inside of a specific situation has much more influence than the situation itself, in terms of how we will experience it and what we will get out of it. The energy and intention we bring into an experience, whether it be a relationship, a new job, a family dinner, a five month trip around the world, literally anything else, is just as important as what exactly it is we’re doing. 

I agree with Jude – it’s not what you do, but how you do it. And I’ve decided to be intentional with the way I am doing this journey. If I am able to bring the energy and values which I want to ultimately get out into a situation, then it has a much higher potential of actually generating that energy and those values. 

This doesn’t mean I have ultimate control of what happens on a day to day basis or of how I will react to something or deal with something. This doesn’t mean that my intentions and values won’t change and alter and shift as the world does around me. But it does mean that I’m conscious of what I am bringing into my everyday life at the beginning of the day, that I am in constant interaction with the ‘how’ of my life. 

And this is what has opened me up to the possibility of intense adaptability. I know that I can be content in many situations because it’s not about what I’m doing, but how I’m doing it. 

So I knew wherever we were, whatever we were doing, I am there to learn, to explore, to expand, to challenge myself, to practice what I had already learned so far in my life, to generate new relationships with others and with myself, and to find out a little bit more about my personal ‘how.’ 

Anyway, this meant that we had to think about some new places we wanted to visit which are also outside of the Schengen area. One of those places is the UK! Good ol’ Great Britain is not a member of the Schengen area, so I chose to bring us here. It has been beautiful and grey, full of music, history, art, and tons of tea.

If you’re ever planning a trip to Europe, make sure you know what the Schengen is and how it works. And if you’re ever planning a trip anywhere overseas, make sure you do better research than we did. 

Shout out! 

It’s been a while (again) since I’ve been here, posting on the blog. Life gets busy. Time is moving a little too quickly and between driving kids around, convincing them to do English with me, and still not working out any more here than anywhere else, time for blogging is rare. 

(Although, there’s time for everything depending on your priorities. Don’t blame it on something else, Izze, c’mon.)

Today I was walking across the bridge between Amelia’s house and my house (what people call the “old bridge”), dreading working with the kids a little bit, and I thought to myself “Okay, Isobel, let’s remember why you’re here, why this tough day is important to the adventure you’ve created.” I believe in the value of traveling, it’s an experience which I’ll remember forever. I’m learning a ton about the world and my relationship with it, and other such things. I’m here because I was tired of the classroom. Phew. Back to walking.

This got me to think about the other people in my life who have done similar things. I often think about how lucky I am to have a great number of these people in my life. People who are adventurous, who take risks, who create opportunities for themselves and take advantage of what they already have, who are living their best lives. People who, over time, I’m coming to realize, have deeply inspired this journey I’m on now. If I didn’t know these people, if they weren’t in my life, I wouldn’t be laying in my bed in a house in Spain. 

So, as someone who values appreciation and acknowledgement, I thought I would give some of these people a shout out, words to say thank you for existing and for, in some way or another, directly or indirectly, contributing to this adventure. And posts to tell you all about some really cool, really special people.  

First post of gratitude & love goes out to my longtime friend Soren Fuchs. 

  

Gotta love that J. Biebs hair cut and cheesy smile. 

I’m sure many of you know the bootylicious blonde I’m talking about. Everyone knows Soren – he’s an absolute people person, and he yells a lot. One cannot forget Soren. 

   

Soren is one of the original homies. We have been friends since we were both in 6th grade at the Denver Center for International Studies. I couldn’t tell you how the friendship started – probably math class. But, through various classes and trips loitering at the mall, we eventually got very close. 

We once flew to Washington DC together when we were 13 to surprise our friend who had moved away. On a fun adventure through the DC mall, Soren left me in a museum by myself, cellphone-less, and I had to use the phone at the gift shop to find him. He felt completely awful when he found me – I’m sure he didn’t want to deal with losing a whole person. 

That’s one of my favorite Soren stories – we’ve all got one. 

Any person is sometimes difficult to describe in words, but if I were to try with Soren, I would say he’s absolutely one of a kind. Soren has a huge personality, he’s big & loud and he loves to have fun. He does exactly what he wants to do, in a (mostly) constructive and determined kind of way. 

If he wants to make money, he wakes up at 4 or 5 am to follow old white men around a golf course for hours in the heat of summer everyday. And then later gets a full ride to the University of Colorado because of it. 

  

Soren & I graduated high school at the same time. From different schools, after he left me to go to East high – a decision I ultimately respect and know it was best for him (even though I no longer had my best friend roaming the halls with me and causing trouble in geometry class). 

After high school ended, most of my friends & I did the classic college thing. A summer of lots of Target shopping trips, reading blogs about being a first year in college, getting out first tattoos because we were finally 18, our parents referring to us as birds leaving nests, and then parting ways for different universities. 

Instead of this classic route, Soren got on a plane to go live in Peru for a year with Rotary. And, well, of course he did. Knowing Soren, it made perfect sense. 

He’s an explorer, he asks questions, he is transparent about the things which he doesn’t know, unafraid of judgements that may come from others, and then he expresses his desire to know them. He never lets a minute go to waste – he ensures that every moment is alive and has the potential to be beautiful, or constructive, or memorable. Sometimes this means he stays out until 2:00 in the morning when he has work at 6:00am the next day so he doesn’t miss anything for something as trivial as sleep. In terms of his year abroad, this meant he took every chance he could to do something, learn something, create something, find something, or even eat something. 

  
At least, that’s how I see it. 

When he came back from his time away, his growth was clear. It seemed as if he took a long, deep breath, and a little more of his identity fell into place. He told the stories of his journey with such a wonderful light. While in Peru, Soren pushed his own boundaries, which were always stretching to begin with. It sounded like he was present, fully & completely, undistracted, simply absorbing the world he was in. 

These are the kinds of things about Soren, about knowing him, and having the privelege to be his friend, which brought me here and which I have brought with me. 

He’s taught me that every moment has the potential to be, and ought to be, alive and full. And wherever you are, be there. Don’t just watch, but participate. 

He’s helped me keep my head on straight when it was shaky, like right before I left on this trip. He told me to enjoy it, to remember it won’t always be easy or great, but it’s all part of the experience. 

So for that, and for a million other things, thanks Soren. You’re a really special human being, always looking out for the people in your life and reminding us to live. 

  
Fuckin’ cutie pie.

La Escuela

Big news! But, first a few little updates since it’s been a little while – I’m shockingly very busy always.

1. I drink fresh squeezed orange juice everyday – thanks to the fact that there’s orange trees everywhere around me. And, despite the fact that I generally can’t deal with pulp in my orange juice – it’s worth the cringeworthy pulp. For some reason, there’s this sense of “active yes” while traveling, as in saying yes to everything as to not miss out on an experience or moment. I wonder why this is harder to access when I’m at home – although, it doesn’t have to be. Perhaps something to bring home with me?

2. Sometimes these kids that I’m working and living with scream loud and resist their English lessons until I want to push them over. Other times, of course, they sit down & pay attention, give me besitos, and they’re my favorite people in the world. It depends on the hour.

3. I went to Sevilla this weekend with Amelia and two of the other Au pairs living in Palma del Rio – and I got to see an old friend from home! It was incredibly beautiful, the streets were small, old, and full of carts selling roasted chestnuts, wildly creative street performers, and tons of horse carriages. We visited the Plaza de España, among other things, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as striking or fairytaleistic in my life. The few photos that I have don’t do justice to what we got to see. Allow me to paint a word picture for you – I would ask you to close your eyes and imagine this while you read it, but you, in fact, need open eyes to read, so maybe find a friend to read it to you, then you can close your eyes and imagine it.

We started outside. The sun was out, maybe one or two small clouds in the sky, and it was that perfect temperature between hot & cold. We were surrounded by a huge palace, a palace made of stone, covered in intricate, colorful tiles, and large arches & doorways, full of history and endless stories. When we walked in, in front of us was a flight of long, wide stairs made of granite.  At the top, it split into two more flight of stairs – one on the left, one on the right. In the center of this first flight of stairs was a man softly playing the guitar, accompanied by a harmonica at his lips, playing the sweetest songs. His gentle music set the perfectly warm atmosphere for seeing the palace. It wasn’t only warm against my skin, or warm in the sense of feeling not hot, but not cold. It was the kind of beautiful warm you feel on the inside when you see your favorite person, or hear your favorite song, you know the soft and comfortable, inner warmth I’m talking about. We walked up the sun-kissed steps to look over the center of the plaza, feeling the soft welcome of the music. He was playing “What a Wonderful World” and what a wonderfully beautiful, awe-inspiring world it was inside that palace.

I hope the word picture worked. I can’t explain completely the feeling of walking up those stairs, seeing what we saw. But, I will say it would not have been what it was without the man and his guitar. The power of music, am I right?

In any case, I’m going to share some photos here of the Plaza de España.

   On another note, these were taken on an iPhone camera – so hell yeah to that.

Okay – now for the big news. When I was first speaking with this family that I’m working with about living here, I had asked about volunteering in the school that the kids go to. I want to be a teacher in a few years time, so I thought it would be great to get some experience inside of a Spanish classroom, while improving my Spanish speaking skills, and offering something to the students.

If anything, I was expecting to be the kind of volunteer I’ve been in the past in American schools. Something close to a teacher’s assistant; cutting these papers, preparing that project, keeping an eye on those kids, doing a couple special activities with these kids, etc. Nothing to challenging. But, when I had a meeting with the head of the English department at their school, she asked me to prepare my own lesson. (Cue overly confident “yeah, I can definitely do that, absolutely.”)

She told me it’ll be American Culture week the following week, so I’d be perfect for doing a couple lessons about culture in America. How cool, right?!

Well, yes, for the most part. But to be honest, I was pretty nervous. I had never created my own lesson, and on top of that, I had little knowledge about how much English the students would be able to understand, what they knew about America already, and what they would find interesting or totally boring. At this point, I was feeling oddly itimidated by 11-16 year-olds – not terribly uncommon for a first time teacher, right?

Then came the challenge of “American Culture.” For one thing, it’s somewhat difficult to speak objectively about the culture you come from. It’s harder to have a sense of things that might be seen as interesting to others outside the culture, when it’s just the breakfast you eat or the music you listen to everyday. Plus, America is a giant (really quite a humongous country) melting pot of culture, full of all kinds strands and variations. It seemed rather tough to pinpoint a few things that are all “American.”

But, then I remembered a couple things. First of all, my own birthday is on the most American day of the year in the U.S. – the 4th of July, AKA the day Americans get to flaunt & love on itself. It’s littered with red, white, and blue, and full of all things American.

The second thing being that this lesson is all about the very thing that I’m dedicating my studies to at school. The values, norms, items, traditions, and everything else that create a culture. Put in other words, I’m an Anthropolgy major. This is exactly the kind of thing I enjoy exploring and breaking down everyday.

So, I used those two aspects, and some other little things, to create a mini lesson about the United States of America. I got to school with a four page PowerPoint, and my entire life of living in the U.S. It seemed like it would be enough.

Upon reflection, I was not wrong. Truly, I could have been sufficiently more prepared (but what teacher is 100% prepared for their first lesson?), I could have spoken slower and clearer, I could have asked many more questions, I could have come with an activity to do so the students didn’t have to spend most of an hour with me talking to them – really, I could have done a lot of things more or differently.

But, I luckily also did a lot of things. I started some conversations, I inspired some little laughs and chuckles, I caused some shocked faces, and I spoke, in total, for three full hours to about 120 students who now know a whole lot about what we eat on the 4th of July and what trick or treating is – so I’d say I succeeded in a couple different ways.

I have an amazing opportunity working at this school, with these students, and I can’t wait to see what other lessons I come up with in these next few weeks.

Now I’m off to memorize the Star Spangled Banner (again…?) and research the difference between American English and British English.

A weekend in England

  
Here we are in England. I’m clearly ecstatic about it. 

The stereotypes are true. Tea is drank at all hours of the day, fish & chips are delicious and popular, there are castles everywhere, and we go to the pub for a proper pint. I feel like I’ve seen so many movies and tv shows set in England – Pirates of the Carribean, Pride and Predjudice, Skins, etc. – that created these British stereotypes. I caught myself a couple times thinking “This is so British and I love it.” Now this is likely because as visitors, Amy, the wonderful woman we were staying with, wanted us to have a classically British experience. In fact, it was. She told us. 

In any case, these past four days have been full of tea, trains, umbrellas, pounds (£, the currency), cobblestone, narrow streets, loads of history, and all kinds of British accents. 

  
This weekend, my family here flew me and one of their daughters to York, England. We were their for four days and we stayed the last Au Pair that was with them, Amy, and her family. They were some of the best hosts I’ve ever met, I’m guessing because they were very used to it. Their house has been a home for many people over the last 12 years they’ve lived in it. They’ve had lodgers from Australia, Germany, Italy, America, Spain, and I’m sure loads of other places, too. In fact this weekend was the last few days there for a lodger they had from Spain who had lived there for four years. On Saturday night they had a little goodbye party for her, full of delicious homemade Spanish foods. While we were eating, the family was reminiscing about all the people who had lived in their home over the past few years. The ones who never did their dishes or hung around the family too much, the ones who brought home strange men, the ones who they adored and the ones that they could have lived without.

  
While they were talking, I was thinking about how I would love a house like that when I’ve got a family of my own. One with open doors and enough rooms for guests to stay. It’s good home, a loving and cozy home. 

We spent our days exploring and traveling. One day in York, one day in Knaresbrough, and one day in Leeds. I saw so much history in one place,  as so many churches and the remnants of so many old castles remained. 

I’d like to go back to the UK again, maybe stay with Amy again. Hopefully I’ll make my way back there soon. Until then, it’s back to beautiful Spain where my job as an Au pair will officially begin.