Time out from my “usual” schedule to share something more personal: my interview with BlogExpat.com has been published!
If you’re interested in learning a little more about me beyond my About page — especially a deeper understanding about the reality of “expatriate life” for a middle-aged woman — please click over there and give it a read.
And, while you’re there you can read other interviews and impressions of people residing in countries other than their native land. It’s a fascinating and connected world we’re living in, isn’t it? 🙂
This week I read an insightful post by a new blogging connection, Hanne. A Norwegian living in Bolivia, she has traveled to over fifty countries and has the focus and philosophy that Jan and I share: Get your nose out of a dated and not so authentic guidebook. Look for wonder and amazement around you. Enhance and support the local economy. MEET THE PEOPLE.
She’s just had a lot more experience in putting that in action than I have! 🙂
Instead of sharing one of my earlier posts in my occasional “Flashback Friday” format, I thought this was much more appropriate — especially since we recently returned from a trip where we didn’t have the opportunity to meet too many new people, and as wonderful as the trip was, I feel I missed out a bit on beginning to understand that area of the world.
I invite you to click over to visit Hanne and read her thoughts, and let her know what you think!
“9 Reasons I Don’t Read Lonely Planet” by Hanne Hellvik
September 2, 2014
Many travellers see Lonely Planet as their bible. I don’t! Here are nine reasons why I don’t rely on Lonely Planet when I travel.
1. I don’t want to be a Lonely Planet Zombie
You have probably seen them. The Lonely Planet Zombies. They are everywhere. Walking around in the touristy streets of destinations all around the world. They almost run over people or get hit by cars due to that they refuse to look up from their Lonely Planet book. The travellers so dedicated and obsessed with this book that they refuse to sleep or eat anywhere that is not mentioned in it.
My blog has been offline for a few days. I moved it to a new server, hid it behind an “Under Construction” screen, and had fun experimenting with new themes and a new look.
And after hours (ok, it was a few days…) of tweaks, changes, and increasing frustration — I realized that none of the other themes I tried were satisfying. I don’t *want* to change my look right now. I like my theme. I like my photos with the darker textured background.
So it’s back to the same theme. I’ve adjusted the display to make the font size and contrast a bit easier to read, and made other minor tweaks, but basically my blog home is right back where it was … just on a different server, where I have more control. (I’ve lost all the WordPress “Likes” my posts had, the subscriber numbers seem to be taking the long road to my new blog home, and all of your comments were jumbled — many of you seemed to be having conversations with yourself — but we all know that glitches like that are to be expected when moving, and I’ll get those comment conversations sorted out eventually!)
I’m comfortable in my blog home and the display of my blog’s “room” … and that segues nicely to this week’s photo challenge of room. (Yes, I know, that’s probably a stretch, but I’m running with it anyway. 🙂 )
Ben writes: “Like a few other English words, Room means two contradictory things. It can be the four walls that enclose us, giving us shelter and comfort but also limiting our movement. It’s also the limitless space into which we can wander and which we can fill — or try to…”
In my 55 years on this earth, I’ve moved about 25 times. I think. Every new place brought adventure, learning, awareness, education, comfort, love, friendships … well, I could go on, but you get the picture.
And in each of those 25+ places I have found or created rooms that comforted and contained my personality and needs so that I could grow and love, and create connections with those around me.
But with every new place there was also a little uncertainty with the newness. If it was a different State or Country, that was an adjustment. But even if it was in the same area, there still was an adjustment with new sounds, new neighbors, new routines.
In thinking about it, every room in every new home that I’ve created has been a place I connect with the people I love most in the world. Isn’t that the most important aspect of life?
A room can be a place where the foundation of family is nurtured …
A room can be a place where we’re comfortable to let a little sneakiness and silliness occur …
A room can be a place where magic or music happens …
A room can be place of unsettlement and discontent, or a place of settled contentment …
And a room can represent the heart of a home: the kitchen, where wonderful aromas, tastes, and conversations and connections with those most important to us occur …
Many of us have figurative “rooms” here on the Internet: blogs where conversations are exchanged, information is shared, photos are viewed, virtual friendships are forged. I enjoy visiting YOUR Internet room, and am so glad to welcome you to (my slightly updated) corner of our world!
(EDIT June 23: I finally found a theme I’m happy with: I’ve customized the Sixteen Nine Pro theme from StudioPress. What do you think?)
This week Cheri challenges us to “… share a photo with letters — no matter the alphabet. As you look through your lens, think about how your image might convey something bigger: a snapshot of how we communicate with one another, even if we don’t speak the same language.”
I have images from my living and travels in several languages other than my native tongue, as well as those from New Zealand and the States in English. The letters are interesting, and the story behind the photos are also good memories.
But I decided to go in a different direction with this challenge:
This image isn’t just about the letters. It also speaks of much deeper emotions.
Years ago — maybe 15? maybe 20? probably before computers were in either of our houses — my Mom mailed me something, and enclosed this plain little note. It was cute; it was her personality. I stuck it on the kitchen bulletin board.
I can’t remember what she actually mailed in that package now, but over the years the note stayed on the board. And when I move to Norway it came with me, and has its place just above my computer screen — with notes received from my daughters around it, but that’s for another post!
Every time I look up and see her handwriting — even just two letters and an exclamation point — and her little smiley face, I feel as if she’s smiling right at me.
I love you, Mom, and oh how I miss you.
This week’s photo challenge is Inside — “So much of life happens inside something.” There can be many interpretations of this, but mine is quite literal.
The back story (which, if you’ve been following this blog, you already know): I moved to Norway in January 2007 and brought my chocolate labrador, MacKenzie, with me.
To travel more comfortably on a long International flight, I bought her a large crate. Several months before our move, I put it together and set it up in the room where I was gathering all the items for my move … Mac was afraid of it.
I left it sitting in the room with clothes, blankets, and other items around and on it. I figured the smell of those items mingling with the crate would comfort her … Mac sniffed the clothes and the crate, and then ignored it.
I placed a couple of her toys in the crate to encourage her to walk inside … Mac sniffed with interest, backed off, barked at her toys, and left them alone.
I crawled inside and played with her toys … Mac probably thought I was nuts. If any human had seen me, they would have probably thought I was nuts too.
I placed her food bowl several feet in front of the open gate, with a few tidbits added to her regular food … Mac wolfed her food, sniffed the crate, perhaps began to accept that it was now part of her life.
I moved her food bowl closer each time I fed her … Mac accepted this. (She’s a labrador. Food overrules *any* sense of caution).
I placed her bowl just inside the gate’s opening … She stuck her head in and ate.
And finally, quite a while after the crate first became part of the furnishings, she willingly walked into the crate to eat her dinner … INSIDE! Success!!
(If you’re interested, I wrote a post about the actual experience of the trip — and how wonderful SAS airlines was when an issue cropped up in Copenhagen — here.)
Are you participating in this week’s photo challenge? If so, post a link below; I’d enjoy clicking over and visiting your post!
This week’s photo challenge is “Treasure.” We’re asked, “What do you treasure? What’s most important to you?”
This is difficult! I treasure special moments in my memories and in my present life. I treasure physical time spent with those I love. With so many special moments in my life, how can I choose just one to photograph and capture the nuances of all those moments – and honestly, how can I photograph memories?
– I have an old “school house” type clock hanging on our wall here in Norway. (On her Travels and Trifles photography blog, Tina’s Photo Challenge post has a professional image that is very similar to my clock – and she includes words to go with it that are insightful and deep.) My family’s clock hung on our wall in my childhood, and I love looking at it here on my Norwegian wall. It’s not a true antique, but it is loaded with memories. I treasure it.
– I have an antique cedar chest that my Grandpa gave my Grandma for Christmas 1929. I brought it to Norway with me. It represents the love my grandparents had and the love that my Mom and my aunts were born into. I treasure it.
– I have a stuffed teddy bear and a quilt made out of my Mom’s favorite clothes. After she passed away in 2008, her sister and my sisters-in-law and I went through her clothes to help my Dad. We chose our favorites to have bears made out of, and later my Dad surprised us with quilts too. My bear is made of the outfit my Mom wore on one of the last big trips we took together, to see my oldest daughter graduate from Army Basic Training in 2006. I treasure both these physical reminders of my Mom.
– I have a “generations of love” ring that I had made several years ago. It’s my wedding band from my first marriage, with the birthstones of our two daughters and a treasured stone from the ring my Dad gave my Mom on their 50th anniversary combining with the band. I look at it and feel the love it represents, from the life-long love my parents shared to the affection David and I still feel and the deep love and pride we share in our feelings about our daughters. I treasure it.
I treasure those “things,” what those items represent, and so many more of my memories. But I’ve also struggled my whole life to live in the moment, and while I do have great memories, dwelling on them causes me to miss special moments of my *now* life.
So, for this challenge, I decided to focus on j-u-s-t t-h-i-s m-o-m-e-n-t. I treasure this: this exact moment in time that I’m typing this.
But since I need to include a photo for a photo challenge, this is what I was seeing when I realized that on my walk earlier today:
Which, if you want to use it as an analogy, is appropriate. Metaphorically, my life’s treasures are a mixture of a little blue sky, a little sun, a few brooding clouds, some puffy white ones, a little rain moving in and then moving out again, the mosaic of the fjords’ changing waters and their reflections … and the resulting beauty of the whole tapestry! (And, about an hour earlier, there was a rainbow – but instead of running to get the camera, I stood and lived in that moment. That also fits with treasuring those special moments!)
So tell me: What do YOU treasure most?
I’m on the fence about blogging awards …
and I feel a “devil’s advocate Cindi discussion” coming on.
I appreciate the recognition from other bloggers.
But accepting these awards also means I should pass them on. I know how busy everyone is, and to follow the “rules” of an award can be a little time-consuming. I hate to impose.
The fact is that the ones who have nominated me are a few of those whose writing and subjects speak to me loudly. That makes their recognition so much more meaningful, and I would like to pass on the award and recognize *other* bloggers who speak to me.
But EVERY blogger I follow speaks to me; how can I choose?
My blog’s overall subject is about being an expat and traveler. Writing about awards isn’t part of that topic.
But my blogging voice has grown, and I find my writing is evolving to more personal reflections of how those experiences have shaped the 55 year old woman typing these words to you today. A couple of the awards have questions for the recipient to answer, and even though I don’t have time to answer them, those questions help to expand my understanding of who I am, how my experiences have changed me, and – even if I haven’t written them out for you to actually read – have been prompts for future posts I think might make it to the WordPress “Publish” button stage.
I’ve received recognition from three wonderful bloggers recently, and even though I’m on that fence, I want to recognize them, thank them, and encourage you to click on over to their little corner of the Interwebs and be moved by their writing and experiences.
And so, just as I did back in October when I was nominated by two of my favorite bloggers for the Liebster Award, I’d like to recognize those three … but not officially nominate anyone else. (I encourage you to visit those bloggers that are hanging out together in my Sidebar as part of my Community. We have some great conversations here, and right now they look like they’re having a great party, don’t they? I know they’d like you to join!)
Eli is a Norwegian expat (from Bergen!) married to her Greek husband; they live in India with their two teenagers. She writes mostly about her life as an expat, and their travels back to their native countries to visit family:
… living, loving, exploring in a Greek-Norwegian-Indian world. Being an expat means to live outside your home-country, and for me it has also been about moving faaaar out of my comfort zone. To move to the other side of the world to a country where I did not know the language or culture and where I had no family or friends … I have tried to take with me the best from Norway and the best from Greece to our new life in India – and at the same time live here with an open mind, ready to embrace a new culture and new challenges.
Her writing is honest, entertaining, and enlightening. I enjoy it because her foundation is the Norwegian culture I’m trying to adapt to, and I can see how it influences who she is in another culture and climate. And, our motherhood/new language/new culture connection also has a huge influence in my understanding and enjoyment of her writing!
Lita is new to the blogosphere. She describes herself as an …
Emerging Writer. Busy Emerging.
… but after reading a few of her posts, I wouldn’t call her “emerging” – she’s HERE. Her descriptive words capture my imagination; reading a brief post about children and the theater, I almost felt as if I was there hearing the kids enjoy the experience. And her overview of her play “Storm” – an Oxford Playhouse New Writing Competition Winner – pulled me in completely. I want more!!
You will too.
I don’t know mewhoami’s actual name, and that’s OK. It’s her introspective writing, and the honest exploration and sharing of deep emotional moments (powered by observations about her son, her extended family, and her life experiences) behind her “Me – Who am I?” handle that I respond to.
I can’t explain her motivation behind her wise words any better than she does:
Life is a road full of experiences that mold you into the person you are today and the person you will be tomorrow. But, what if one day you find yourself lost in the middle of the road, asking yourself “Who am I?” Discovering the answer may be quite a journey and you have to be ready, as you don’t know what you’ll find in the process. The inner you can be brilliant and sometimes haunting. This blog is a journey of discovery.
Every one of her posts resonates. A mother and thinker, she writes with the voice of my more-mature peers … and she’s in her early 30’s. Honest and introspective, you’ll come away from her posts with much to contemplate.
Eli, Lita, mewhoami – you honor me and my blog with your recognitions, and I thank you sincerely. I encourage everyone to visit their blogs and discover the amazing women that I’ve discovered! Please explore their blog posts, and follow them if you aren’t already!