01 May 2017

The Netherlands

The whole reason I went to The Netherlands was for a friend's wedding (perks of having friends whose lives are as international as my own!). Actually, Ashley and I met at BYU about 9-10 years ago. We both studied archaeology and did field school together (i.e. that one time we lived in Petra, Jordan). We got to know each other a bit during that time and as weird as it sounds, we bonded over both having recently lost a parent. But we didn't really become close. I think our grief was still a bit too fresh for both of us that it was easier to ignore it for the duration of our field school adventures  than it was to truly befriend and sit with one another in each other's grief. Or maybe I'm just projecting. 

Regardless, it wasn't until I moved to the UK for grad school that we reconnected, because Ashley was also living in the UK attending grad school. And it turns out that we had several friends in common, so we'd see each other occasionally. During this time we realized how we'd more or less been living parallel lives over the last decade. From there we started interacting more via social media, and I think that's when we became real friends. As in the kind of friends that goes to the other's wedding. In The Netherlands. 

It was such a privilege to be there with Ashley and Diederik on their special day. They are a beautiful couple inside and out, and the love they have for each other was literally radiating off of them the entire day. And did I mention, they got married in a Castle? 
Photo Credit: Ashley Wilkinson Linders, @lifeviaashley
Utrecht

Left: Slot Zeist, where they were civilly married (til death)
Right: The Hague, Netherlands temple, where they were sealed (married for eternity)

But obviously, when in The Netherlands...

Zaanse Schans

 

It was VERY windy that day...

 

 

 



And two of my personal Bucketlist Items... Visiting the Peace Palace in The Hague and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam: ✅ ✅

Photos weren't allowed in the museum, so I have no photographic evidence. But I will say that the museum was everything I had hoped it would be, minus pining for the special Sunflowers exhibit to go on all the time, since I was a few years too late. At least they had one of his Sunflowers paintings on display. #illtakewhaticanget


Peace Palace, The Hague


We didn't actually spend much time in Amsterdam, but that was by design. I love exploring smaller towns, villages, and the countryside much more. And Amsterdam is flippin expensive. But I did take one picture while we were there... 
Amsterdam

We stayed in AirBnBs in both Utrecht and Den Hoorn. We had a Beautiful view over the city in Utrecht, as we were on the 12th or 13th floor. But to me, nothing beats the tranquility of staying along a canal in the countryside. Especially when you get to go on magical evening walks. ✨🌅🙋
Den Hoorn


Why yes, that IS a goat on a surfboard.
Post-church picnic along a reservoir: Sabbath Selfie. Still SO Windy. 
During Ashley's wedding at Slot Zeist, it was pretty hot, and my mom was melting trying to wait for us to finish with pictures. So she went over to the castle's outdoor café and ordered some water so she could sit in the shade. Shortly after she got her drink, a couple came to the café with the same idea, only there were no more tables left in the shade. So my mom invited them to sit with her in the shade. (Anyone who knows my mom will no this is not in the least bit out of character for her.) The couple thanked her and took her up on the offer. They visited for at least 30-40 minutes and talked about all sorts of topics. They exchanged information and told us to contact them if we decided to visit Delft where they live. Perhaps the odd part is that we actually DID contact them once we arrived in Den Hoorn, which is near Delft. So they ended up meeting us in the town square and became our tour guides for the day. They showed us all over Delft, treated us to an entry into a historical church, and then to lunch. 
Delft



They had an appointment to go to afterwards, but a couple hours later we met them back at their house where we visited a bit more. Then we all headed out Scheveningen Beach, just north of The Hague. They showed us around the area and then treated us to drinks. (I promise we tried hard to let them pay, but they insisted and became quite sneaky about it! haha) Then we decided to go to dinner at one of the restaurants on the beach. I ordered a deluxe Dutch version of fish and chips, which was one of the best I've ever had. This time around, we were determined to be just as sneaky in paying the bill. So I pretended I was going to use the restroom and went and paid the entire bill before we were even finished with our meal. 😁
Scheveningen Beach
Seagull Selfie




Saying goodbye to our new Dutch friends, Gerald and Sylvia 
Needless to say, they were my favourite, and certainly the most memorable part of our time in The Netherlands. I love how good, kind, and generous people are everywhere you go. You just have to open yourself up to meeting them. And I'm grateful for a mother that is constantly extending invitations of kindness herself, no matter where she is! 💕💞💗

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30 April 2017

Back in the saddle. Again.

It is nearly impossible for me to go to Europe and only visit one country. Besides, why visit one when you can visit three?

This habit has led to me taking not one, but three European road trips in the last year: my European Extravaganza (6 countries in 6 weeks) with my mom and stepdad before moving back to the states, BeNeLux with my mom and a couple friends, and Bulgaria & Romania with my bezzy.

I have yet to share anything about the latter two trips, not to mention my adventures living in the Scottish Highlands in between. I've found it difficult to write anything that didn't either feel like  "Hey look at how great my life is!" or "Woe is me! What am I doing with my life?" by the end. And I haven't been able to post anything I've written because honestly neither is a very accurate portrayal of what my life has been like this past year.

It has been a year of feeling completely lost, found, and lost again. And honestly, I'm still a little confused as to which part of this cycle I'm in at present

There have been beautiful moments throughout the year, like working in the temple last spring; having a sibling reunion and visiting where my dad grew up on the 9th anniversary of his passing; watching the hearts and minds of some incredible youth grow and change (and knowing that I played a tiny part in their growth); reading the Book of Mormon to the kids I was looking after and watching them get into it; a heart to heart with my bezzy in a beautiful cathedral; a much needed heart to heart with my dad at his grave; an overwhelmingly joyous reunion with some of the amazing youth I worked with last summer; hilarious FaceTimes with my niece; and most recently, watching my honorary little sister get married to a wonderful man who adores her.

But as everyone experiences from time to time, I've had my share of ugly moments when I've become overwhelmed by discouragement, shame, and despair. These moments typically follow a session of comparing where I am with where I want to or think I should be in my life. Or not uncommonly, having other people point out the differences to me. As if I am unaware of my homeless, jobless, husbandless state. Hint: I'm perfectly aware, thanks.

That said, one of my goals for 2017 has been to focus more on finding joy in the journey rather than the reaching of some yet to be determined destination. And I can honestly say at the end of month 4, this really has made a huge difference in my ability to recognize and receive joy in the variety of experiences I've already had this year.

So over the next few weeks I'm going to try playing catch up on documenting what some of those experiences have been, covering some highlights from the trips I mentioned above as well as my most recent trips to Iraq and Zimbabwe. #yourewelcome

10 November 2016

Does the Journey Seem Long?

It's been a long time since I've had a home base that felt like home. 

This year alone I've been to 17 states ('lived' in 4 of them) and 6 countries (lived in 2), with 4 more to go before I return 'home'--i.e. the place where all of my other clothes live. 

My family and friends (and most people I meet) think my life is glamorous. Perhaps they imagine me merely floating from place to place, much like a Mary Poppins, leaving a place once I've fulfilled my purpose in being there. But I assure you there is very little glamour in living out of a carry-on sized suitcase for 6 months straight. Or of spending countless hours on various modes of transport. Or of constantly being unemployed, unattached, untethered--always a stranger answering the same set of questions dozens of times a day. And certainly not in working 50+hrs a week in exchange for room and board because one has nowhere else to go.

Don't get me wrong. I don't regret any of it, or wish any of it away (except the mooching off of loved ones--I always hate that). It is a life I get to create, full of random events, unique opportunities, and adventures in gorgeous new places. 

But when I look around me and see so many I love moving forward in life, it's hard not to feel that despite my constant moving, I've actually just been spinning my wheels without budging an inch. 

And while I've always tried hard to live my own life without comparison, this idea has been a difficult one to shake off lately. I don't know what it means, just how it feels. And it's starting to feel like a very long journey indeed; perhaps because the end destination is as yet unknown.

28 June 2016

Back in the saddle

After 9 months of unemployment, soul searching and hundreds of job applications, I finally have a job--and I'm REALLY excited about it! I'm a facilitator for two World Learning youth programs this summer. I moved out to Vermont last week, and I'll be here until the end of July. Then I'll be traveling with a group of students to Louisville for a couple weeks, and ending with a week in D.C. It will be a long, exhausting journey, but hopefully one filled with some inspirational experiences and undoubtedly some growing experiences.

After that I'm going back to England, and as usual I have NO idea what comes next. But I'm relieved to be a contributing member of society once again, so I'm going to enjoy the next couple months and see where they lead!

17 November 2015

London

Because you should always save the best for last. 

Westminster Cathedral--so glad I didn't miss this gem!
Bob pretending to be excited to watch Wicked, which he subsequently hated.
My mom and I loved it, of course. #crazyman
Mom loved Covent Garden. #missionaccomplished
The entertainment had a lot to do with it.
Tower of London
Look who we found! So happy Sarah was able to come
down and spend one last day with me. #notreadytosaygoodbye









Mom still loving those selfies.
Literally on the edge of our seats waiting for the show to start!!!
What show you ask? 
Matilda!!! The best show in London.
This set. Merely the icing on the cake of a spectacular show.
Seriously, if you can only see one show in London, don't miss out on Matilda.
Mom and I walked to Buckingham Palace after the show
before heading back to our flat. #wheninlondon
The perfect end to a perfectly memorable day, and an unforgettable European road trip.