Summer Sweetness

One year ago today we got on an airplane and moved back to California from Amsterdam. It was bittersweet. I cried before the plane landed, not quite ready to give up our expat life and the day to day living and sharing with our new friends and family.

One year already? How did that go by so quickly? I had so many things I was going to do this year but haven’t. It went by so fast.

I still miss my friends and our jetset schedule, but I’m happy to be home in our little house where the sun shines every day.

Kristin walked by our house this week as I was coming home and had a huge bag of plums to share. Her kids are house sitting for another neighbor and their prolific plum tree produced probably 20 pounds of plums. She offered me a fair share and today I made my first gluten free plum cobbler for dessert tonight from the bounty.

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This just made me happy to be home. I am thankful for my neighbors and friends. I am thankful for our beautiful weather. I am happy to be a stay at home mom who has time to be with my kids and cook random desserts and that I have time to think and shop and prepare family dinners.

Today I got to play tennis outdoors and ride the bakfiets to pick up Charlie at a friend’s house, besides the 101 other tasks.

Even though I miss Holland and Barbara and Joseine and my family and everyone else, I am really happy to be living in California again.

Life is good. I am happy.

Namaste.

Hup Holland!!

I am missing Holland.  I believe today was the last day of school at the ISA, and with the last day at an international school, comes some big goodbyes.  Several people are moving back to their original home countries and some are getting ready to take on new expat adventures.  I’ve been thinking of you Cami, Carolyn, Patti Beth, and Amy and Jen who recently left. And I’m thinking of all the friends who stay and continue on a little bit longer, adapting to the changes of good friends leaving and dealing with the loss and change and adapting. There are always new beginnings.  Wishing all my friends smooth transitions and comforts.  

I’m so thankful that we lived in Holland and that I felt such a connection to my Dutch roots. I got to celebrate with my Dutch friend, Pauline and her Dutch friends, watching Holland beat Australia 3-2 in the World Cup today. I was so happy to be dressed in orange clothes, orange boas and glasses and hats, watching the kids prance around with the Dutch flag, and eating off orange plates. When Holland scored a goal, Karen played Dutch music really loudly and began dancing, while I smiled from ear to ear.  The house felt so gezellig and I was happy to be with the Dutch ladies and kids, drinking coffee and listening to Dutch being spoken again. I felt at home and so happy.

Jen sent me pictures of the Dutch flag flying from her new house in Minnesota and seeing all the Dutch celebrations from Holland on Facebook brought me joy.  I miss Holland and my family and friends, but am glad that I’ll always have a piece of Holland with me.

Peace.

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New Experiences

One part I miss about living abroad is the sense of adventure and everything being new. My challenge now is to find new adventures and experiences for our family to share closer to home, that we hopefully all can enjoy.

Today we discovered the monarch butterfly migration in Pismo Beach. The butterfly is an amazing creature that knows when to migrate and follows the sun and warmth of the fall equinox. They fly individually and all know to meet up at the monarch grove. So incredibly fascinating to me. There were about 10,000 butterflies there today and there were close to 80,000 over Christmas time. Some of the butterflies are tagged and one flew all the way from Arizona. Their migration path and distance would be like if we travelled around the world 11 times, based on our relative size. Five butterflies weigh about the weight of one single penny.
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From the monarch grove, we walked along a path to the sand dunes on Pismo Beach.
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We liked seeing the wind formations in the dry and wet sand and looked for whole sand dollars. We considered ATV riding or bike riding, but decided to come back maybe tomorrow as we arrived later than we had hoped.
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The other new experience we shared was going to the Drive – In movie theater. The kids had never been and Jeff and I hadn’t been since we were kids. We picked up dinner at Chipotle and brought it with us to eat in the car. In the old days, you had a little box that clipped on your roll down window to hear e sound. Tonight we programmed our car radio to the FM 100.7 channel to hear the movie. We brought folding chairs and blankets and the kids lasted about 30 minutes in the cold before they piled back in the van.
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The Lego Movie was entertaining for us all and had a great, positive message.
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Of course, I loved it and could relate to the sweet, positive pink unikitty! You just have to see the movie! If you’re looking for a good old fashioned drive in theater, this one is located in San Luis Obispo and is called the Sunset Drive In. Adults are $8 and kids 5-11 are $3. Here is a link to a help review: Sunset Drive In – SLO town

I am thankful that we were outside together, soaking up the sunshine and moon shine too!

Hope you had a relaxing Sunday.

What’s Old and New

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I was walking down a side street in Palo Alto today and flashed back to Europe. One of the things I realized I miss being back home again is discovering charming new places and being curious about what I might find around every corner.

Seeing this brick building with the enticing entrance sign and architectural lights hanging outside made me curious again. I didn’t even really care what was inside. I was just happy to be seeing something new and interesting, and feeling that feeling again.

The feeling of wonder and curiosity.

How was your day? Did you discover anything new?

GGG – Day 20 – Time

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. ~Benjamin Franklin

How do you choose to spend your time? Are you proactively setting up your days to do what you really want to do?  This is what I’m thinking about today as I think about the gift of time we all are given.  We are all busy, but we can always make time for what we love and want, if we know what it is we really want and how to plan for it and do the work.

We all are given equal hours every day. No one is different in this context. Whether you’re the President of the United States, a mom, a CEO, a student, an employee, a child, we all get the same number of hours. How fair is that? I kinda like that thought. So it’s up to us and our circumstances how we choose to live them up.

The other day I was listening to a 30 minute podcast by Jessica Herrin, the founder of Stella & Dot, in the car while I was driving home from the gym.  She was talking about this subject of time mastery and I was totally intrigued how she described time as needing to be mastered versus managed.  We have to link what we choose to do with our core values and be sure to set boundaries to protect our time. We have to learn to say no and to not feel guilty when we choose to say yes to time spent doing what we’re good at and what we want to do.

Right now I’m thinking about my time on the micro level and planning how I want to choose to spend my hours on any given day. I’d like to get better at this and practice mapping out bigger projects too, so they actually get done versus just me thinking about doing them. I practiced assigning tasks that I’ve been wanting to complete to the hour or half hour windows that were open throughout my day. The cool thing is that my task list suddenly became a priority and I have been able to say no to other distractions.  And guess what? I am getting things done that I’ve been wanting to do and the procrastination and time spent on social media and gaming has decreased dramatically. I learned that many times when I don’t know what I want to do, time gets sucked into the vortex of online screen time and house cleaning. Those things are always there and “want” my attention. I want to be more accountable for my time and with the choices I’m making to make my time more meaningful. I want to carve out some time to be creative, mindful, to read, to be a better friend, to exercise, and to sleep more, in addition to my responsibilities. And so I am.

How are you choosing to spend your hours?

One last thought, before I get to bed early tonight since I’m actively choosing to get more sleep… I am fully aware how quickly a year goes by after living overseas for a year and being back again already for four months now. When you’re in the moment, it feels like forever. But looking back, I realize and can feel how fast that year sped by and it’s already gone. Where did the time go?  I know… it’s just a rhetorical question… Good night.

“While we are postponing, life speeds by.”
Seneca

GGG – Day 3 – Nature

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Gratitude Gift Giving (GGG) – Day 3 – How do you enjoy and appreciate nature? Where is your favorite place to be?

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Do you feel a calling to be outdoors? Do you feel peace when you’re near the water, the forest, the hills, open spaces?

Where is your happy place? Where do you go to feel like you’re just a little part of this big, wide, open universe?

My favorite place to go in nature is the ocean. I love the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. I love seeing the sealife and smelling the salt water in the air. I love looking out and not being able to see anything else but water and not knowing where it ends. I love watching the sun setting on the horizon and imagining the daylight being transferred to another location on the earth. I love being on the water, especially on a paddle board, but I’m just as happy on any type of boat.

But today we explored the majesty of the redwood trees in the forest of Big Basin, in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
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Knowing that some of these trees are older than the Mayan Civilization made me feel so insignificant. Our lives are such a small part of the bigger world, but we feel like we are so important right now! Standing next to these trees that have been around for over 1500 years is amazing. Some of the trees are over 250 feet tall. I loved looking up at them, standing inside a circle of them, and hiking through the forest and admiring all their different varieties.

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I liked the shadows, the darkness and the light flowing through them. I liked the old and the new, and even the fallen.

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Hiking with our family at this place less than 35 miles from home filled me with joy, even though the process of getting us all out the door today together was quite the challenge! It was worth the work and effort and I think I can say we all enjoyed our family outing.

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Today I am thankful for the beautiful parks of California, and for family time exploring some place new. What or where are you thankful for?

Gratitude Gift Giving

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” Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us be thankful.” -The Buddha

If we could take all the things we learn about happiness, love and positivity and package them up and see if some how we can really make a difference to change a little part of our world, would you do it?

Would you take part in an activity that doesn’t cost anything, but has HUGE intangible benefits?

They say that when you express thankfulness, you actually reap benefits too. So it’s a win, win situation and everyone involved feels better, with just a small, non-financial cost involved – just a bit of time, thought, and authenticity. You get to acknowledge what you’re thankful for and in return you create joy and receive more happiness. I love this concept and am planning to practice gratitude all month. Join me.

I’ll provide a daily gratitude prompt and then will share my response, just to show you how easy it is. If you want to participate, you can in many ways. You can just think about the prompt on your own and maybe tell someone. You can add your list of gratitudes in the comments, and/or maybe you’ll want to create your own gratitude journal. Thanks for reading and sharing with me!

November Gratitude Month

Day 1 – Friends
Think about why you are thankful for one or two or three friends today.

I am thankful for my friends that make me laugh and exercise even when I don’t want to! Today I’m thankful that Julie convinced me that it was better to kick my booty at our class than sit on my booty and be lazy! Thank you, Julie. You were right again.

Michele, thank you for introducing me to the art of goat maintenance and barnyard duty today. Who knew this could be fun?

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And I’m thankful for all my friends I miss from around my little world, especially when I think of PB and the “backie” she gave me on our way home from Amsterdam, paddling and playing tennis with Barbara, wanderlust in Holland with Cami, and tennis and yoga with Stacey. That’s more than one or two or three…love you all, girlfriends!

Tomorrow’s Gratitude – Your Favorite Food

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