One's destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things. -Henry Miller

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A Christmas Reflection.

It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve written on my blog. I guess what happened is I moved back to the States and ran out of interesting things to say. You can’t blame me. But as 2011 comes to a close, I can’t help but use these holidays as a frame of reference for how much has truly changed in a year.

I moved from Spain back to my hometown to another state for a job. I started my first “real world” big girl job. I pay all my own bills now (I guess I did before, but now it’s more real). It’s strange. It certainly puts life into a whole different context.

A word has been following me around lately. That word is “hope.” Until recently, I hadn’t given this word much thought. However, this feeling, of hope, is far more important than I had ever realized. To be hopeful, in the face of adversity, is the only conceivable way to move forward in your life with optimism. This part of the year seems to  re-instill a sense of hope in people’s hearts.  For many people, that hopefulness comes from a feeling of connection to their religious beliefs; that Jesus was born into the world to give people hope.  For others, it’s the invisible clean slate of a new year. It’s the hope that in 2012, something spectacular with happen. That you will be closer to your best self. That you will be made new.

Another way I have been reflecting on “hope,” is through my new job. I work for a non-profit, and part of our mission statement is “building hope.”  Our clients have an opportunity with our program to change their lives. To change their children’s lives. This hopefulness inspires a lot of other changes as well; personal changes and professional changes. It’s difficult to quantify the power of hope, but having witnessed it first-hand in my job, and in my own life when I give myself the gift of hopefulness, it can mean everything.

“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”

I guess what I am getting at is this: Never lose hope. Good things fall apart sometimes.  But it will get better. There’s always something new to try and someone new to meet, if you choose to look at life that way. It’s something that I’m working on myself.

Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays!), readers (If anyone still reads this…)!  I am thinking of all my friends and loved ones today, en route to my family, and feeling tremendously grateful for the opportunities this year has given me.

Besos!


Greek Cats?

There were cats EVERYWHERE in the streets of both Santorini and Naxos. I took a picture of the first cat I saw, and then I realized that there were a million cats, and before I knew it there were more pictures of cats than there were of people on vacation (i.e. me and Molly). And what’s really strange is…I don’t really like cats.

Greek cat sleeping in a broken chair

 

Greek cat sleeping on a ledge

 

Greek cat on a roof. (aware he is being photographed)

 

Greek cat on a window sill

 

Greek cat using his mind control powers to make me photograph him

 

Greek cat in front of a flower pot

 

Greek cat watching me eat greek yogurt

 

two Greek cats mid-conversation

 

very slender and sneaky Greek cat

The end.  This was probably my most profound/interesting blog post ever.

 


My Life as a Greek Goddess

I was seriously living the dream in Greece. My dear friend, Molly, met me in Madrid (although, with a bit of travel drama between flights getting canceled and rescheduled, etc. Would it be one of my trips without a problem?) and we flew to Athens, then we took an 8-hour ferry to Santorini. Santorini is incredibly beautiful, but it was surprising to me how touristy it is, and just how many American honeymooners there are. Molly and I started to formulate a daily schedule…wake up, eat greek yogurt, go do something active/fun, come back to shower, read/nap, eat dinner, and go to bed.  We were old ladies. But it was so relaxing.

Greek salad, white wine, and eggplant salad. Delicious.

Just your everyday donkeys.

Postcards

Greek yogurt and honey

Oia

Our toes in the Mediterranean

Where the ships dock at the volcano

Molls and I on the top of the Santorini volcano. (my hair is flying in the wind)

Hot spring

Sunset at a wine tasting (picture one)

Same sunset, a little bit later

Santorini wine is very unique. There is no natural water on the island, so the grapes were grown very close to the ground in baskets so that the dew would water them.

Yummmm Baklava (I normally don't like flaky things...but I thoroughly enjoyed the real deal Greek baklava)

Fava Beans...a Santorini speciality!

Gyro 🙂

My beach day: In a nutshell.

Fira

The village by night

It was such a pleasure to be grounded in one country for 2 weeks and wholly get to experience the culture, food, people and energy. Posts on Naxos, our other island destination, pending.

Besos!


The Pursuit of Pomegranates

This, friends, is my last post of pictures from Granada. After this, I have only photos and musings from my fantastically fantastical trip to Greece. Saying goodbye to this city was overwhelmingly difficult, and Granada will always have a special place in my heart. Sometimes part of what makes an experience so special is its impermanence, and I am trying to honor that fact when I feel sadness that it is has come to its conclusion.

Anyway, if you recall, Granada in Spanish means pomegranate. The city is covered in them. Here are some photos of the pomegranates I spotted while out with my camera.

In the fountain

In a plaza

Sidewalk post (is that the name of this object?)

On a door

On a street sign

As a souvenir

 

As a door knob

 

 

It’s a cute little detail to search for around the city. There are tons more!


A New Season

Roses at my favorite park in Granada

Spring is turning into summer, and my time here in Spain is coming to a close. I say goodbye to my beloved Granada a week from tomorrow, and it’s hard to wrap my mind around that fact.  Leaving Spain means a lot of things for me: unemployment (womp), returning to so many loved ones in the States, leaving loved ones I’ve accumulated in THIS country, and the start of chapter two of my post-grad life. It’s almost too much for my brain to handle.

I like to blame my cluttered mind for my inability to blog for the last couple of months. It’s hard to put what this experience has meant to me, and how its changed me, into a coherent thought. I do feel an undeniable urge to cling to Spain and this season for dear life. It’s so comfortable here. Why do things need to change?

I did have the opportunity and encouragement to reapply for my school here, but this application process began in December, a time when I was not certain that returning was what I wanted. And I still don’t really know. I have loved my job, but in my heart, I believe that everyone should use their passions and gifts to serve our community. I think that teaching has been a wonderful experience, but my gifts may be better suited for another position. The key problem with this idea is that for the first time in a long time, I am not positive of my next step, or my next location. One of my tutoring students asked me if I wanted to live in the U.S. for the rest of my life. I was taken aback by the question because I didn’t know the answer and still don’t. I had always assumed so, but I guess the beauty of life is that you can never anticipate where it will take you.

What I’ve come to conclude is that I need to admire my time in Spain as a really wonderful 9 months of my life filled with world-exploration and consequently, self-exploration. And as a new season in my life approaches, I need to take opportunities as they come to me, and listen to my intuition (how sentimental am I being right now?), as that has yet to fail me.

As per the suggestion of my friend Sarah, I started forming a list of all of things I love about the U.S. (besides my amazing amazing family and friends, of course) to get me excited about going back. Here it is, for your enjoyment. Please note that most of it involves food:

  • Reeses Cups
  • WaWa
  • Brunch
  • Bagels
  • Ethnic food
  • The amazing dairy farm ice cream place in my hometown
  • GREENness and outside loveliness (not a whole lot of that in Granada city)
  • Being able to fit my legs under all tables at all times
  • Speaking in Annie language, and people understanding
  • Driving
  • Dryers
  • Being able to watch TV shows online
  • Big cups of coffee
  • Pumpkin (I didn’t mention that before or anything)
  • Holiday traditions

It’s difficult,  because I have an equally long list of things I will really miss about Spain. And things I am glad I WON’T have to deal with in Spain anymore. It’s a give and take.

I appreciate those of you who have tuned in and read my blog during my time abroad. I’m definitely not done documenting things from my travels…did I mention that I’m going to GREECE for two weeks before I go back to the States? But it’s still to be decided as to whether or not I’ll keep writing on this when my life excitement starts to flatline. TBD, like so many other things at the moment.

Besos, my dear friends.


Best of Budapest

It’s about time…here are my photos from Budapest. I think this was my favorite place of the three cities I visited. I loved the people, the food, the beautiful scenery, and the overall energy. Did you know that Budapest is actually two places: Buda and Pest…separated by the Danube? I only learned that fun fact a few weeks before my visit and I thought I’d share that with you.

These pictures are poorly captioned, but you can’t be entirely surprised, as my blog has been on the steady decline for the last 4 months. This has more to do with the fact that WordPress has been giving me trouble with uploading and less to do with sheer laziness. Anyway, please enjoy and if you want to know about something specific, leave me a comment and I’ll give you information.  Besos!

Inside

The Danube

On the bridge

A view of Pest from Buda

Little market selling lace and paprika

Castle Area in Buda

I think I liked this statue because it felt reminscent of the James Madison statue at JMU 🙂

Pretty assortment of stone.

The bridge at night

Thanks for your understand!


Vienna, Can You Hear Me?

Ok. Step one for this post is to press play on the above song, appropriately titled, “Vienna” by Matt Costa. Then, scroll through my photos of my trip to Vienna 🙂

I adored this city. I thought it was clean, and full of lovely things and kind people. There was not nearly enough time to see and explore everything. I hope to return sometime.

Belvedere Palace. (I saw my FAVORITE painting, Klimt's The Kiss here)

St. Stephen's Cathedral

These people will NOT leave you alone. They will do nearly anything to get you to go to their concert. It's absurd.

Kunsthistorisches Museum

I'm not sure why, but I really liked this painting.

Hofburg Palace

World renowned chocolate cake? Yes, please.

Megan with her slice of amazing cake

Bonnie and I in the Viennese Opera House. We saw the first act of a Wagner opera.

Schnitzel.

Spinach dumplings. So delicious.