Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Where My Mind Wandered (this week)

I was in America the first week of April, visiting my parents in and around Mississippi. I've only been here in winter before, and while it's always green thanks to all the rain and humidity, there's one new addition that I've not seen previously: springtime babies! The field next to my parents' home is filled with baby cows and I loved watching them frolic and play (while staying very close to their mamas). So sweet!

I didn't have much downtime for that trip (I was there to get lots of work done), but my brain worked overtime while my body was in motion. Here's more links to things that caught my attention!

1. I have a bunch of blogs in my reader that very rarely post anything. But there is one I always wish would post more often, and I get quite excited about when there's a new entry. I have no idea how I found it, but it's been in my reader for a couple of years and I'm so glad! Loitering Dog is a collection of short stories from the author's life. Are they true? Author Dale Wickum says, "The truth shouldn't get in the way of a good story." All I know is they always make me laugh. Check it out here.

2. Having raised our kids primarily abroad, they've missed out on certain American traditions because we're either a) too lazy, b) can't get the right items to continue a tradition, or c) focusing our energy on traditions or celebrations or festivals important to the local population in the country we live in. Listen Easter, I'm talking about you. We've never colored eggs or hid eggs or had the Easter bunny find our home to leave baskets or candy or whatever the Easter bunny leaves behind. My sons have been able to participate in some Easter activities a few times due to enthusiastic American friends abroad, and I'm hoping that maybe they'll marry into families who care deeply about things my kids didn't get from their childhood. But I came across this post about how to dominate an Easter egg hunt which is really an excellent life lesson for all of us on how to dominate anything.

3. I love traveling. Clearly. Now that my boys are getting older, I'm looking forward to more trips with just my hubby and I (we're doing a quick night away next week). Though I'm not opposed to solo travel either. Part of my favorite thing about traveling is the planning. I'm not a super detailed planner, because I know the best parts of most of our trips have been when we left space for the inevitable awe and wonder which presents itself while far away from home, but I do like to get the framework built. Country, city, hotels, transportation options, possible things to do, people to see... it makes me so excited! A friend of mine told me about this American-based travel company called Pack Up + Go and it immediately made my skin crawl. You basically give them a budget and a few other details and they plan a surprise trip where you learn the destination only after you've arrived at the train station or airport, bags packed, ready to go. Of course, I couldn't get this idea out of my head (thus it had to go in this weekly round up of where my mind wandered). At first I thought, "How lazy do people have to get to not even pick a destination for their hard earned vacation time?" But then I realized not everyone is like me. Maybe planning is something you dread. Maybe letting someone else make all the decisions is your dream come true. Maybe I need to be in the business of planning surprise international trips? Kidding! Clearly what's exciting to me isn't exciting to others, as this company proves! Please tell me in the comments though, is this something you would love or avoid? Do you (or your partner) love the planning stage of holidays and vacations? I need to know!

4. Speaking of travel, I came across this quote by fashion designer Marc Jacobs: I envy anyone who gets to go to Paris for the first time because there’s nothing like the first time. We went to Paris as part of our Year of the Mouse in 2013, and I was expecting to just check it off my list of places to visit which happen to host Disney theme parks. I was not going to be that stereotypical American girl, falling in love with Paris. No way. The world is big and there is lots to see! And yet... as our Eurostar train left France to return to London, giant pathetic tears streamed down my cheeks and I realized I had, in just four short days, completely fallen in love with Paris. Some days I end up thinking about this a lot. As someone who grew up in California, a State only 167 years old, I'm naturally attracted to any place with a longer history. But I've also found my European friends don't adore Paris the way my American friends do. In fact, I had one friend from Belgium tell me Paris is the worst place on earth, going there is taking my life in my hands because it's so dirty and violent, filled with rude people! I'm a little afraid to go back... not because of violence, but because I experienced only clean, delightful moments and humans during our stay. What if a second visit lacks the charm and wonder of the first? Argh! When looking up the quote above, I came across this excellent piece on Thought Catalog, "Why Americans Romanticize Paris."

5. I'm really loving my life right now. Things are going great, I have so much joy, and I'm working hard for good things that are on their way. I'm always looking ahead to the future with great anticipation of life to come. But this week I came across an old blog post of my own from almost exactly three years ago and it gave me quite a jolt to read about a time when I was truly miserable and in all sorts of pain. It was a time when the future looked dark and cloudy and impossible. You know how when you're struggling and people say things like hang in there, it gets better and such? Three years ago I didn't think it ever would. I cried a lot and had a hard time even getting out of bed. I felt like I couldn't trust anyone, not even myself and my own feelings. Yet here I am, looking back for a bit and feeling so grateful that we pulled through that dark valley. We stuck it out, opened Shanghai Disneyland, and moved to Hong Kong where we live on a beach and are healthy and well and happy. Check out the old post with the spoiler alert that the prayer my soul cried out the night I wrote it was answered beyond anything I could have imagined (it included an entire family of redheads when all I wanted was a single true friend), and enjoy a musical interlude by Jason Mraz (if they ever make a film of my life, it better be a musical!).

That's it for this week! What new and interesting thing did you learn this week? Let me know in the comments (along with your feelings about number 3 up there).

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