Cue Phil Collins on the Drums

Yeeeaah you know which breakdown I’m talkin’ ’bout.

OK – I think this is when the little kid inside of me acknowledged that I’m on a kick-ass vacation. I realized that I’m now used to the ringing of bicycle bells…the convenience of culture at my fingertips. Every European accent catches my eye and ignites me with inspiration. Every day ends with a violet sunset over the canals, just like the famous Dutch artists painted. I’m beginning to feel what they felt.

We Went to the Zoo

My excitement went through the roof the day we went to the zoo. The Artis Zoo has a giraffe, baby monkeys, and Shan’s favorite – a sloth! We were grinning with glee all day long.

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This next one goes out to the McCormick ladies, Shaun O’Connor, and everyone else who knows how important this video is.

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Though I did get some decent shots of these magnificent animals, I couldn’t help but kick myself for realizing I left the magnified lens at home. Regardless of how close-up these shots are, I hope you enjoy a scenic route through the animal kingdom with us:

The Artis Zoo is Amsterdam’s oldest city park, the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, and one of the oldest zoos of mainland Europe. It also contains an aquarium and planetarium! What a lovely place to be present in the moment.

Weirdly enough, the memory that sticks out the most in my mind from this entire day is one I have of a grandmother playing hide-and-go-seek with her two grandkids. She was hiding behind a tree, and they were pretending not to know where she was. I shook my head with disbelief at the sight because it was organic and it belonged in a movie scene.

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“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha 🙏🏼🌺

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Like every single perfect day here in Amsterdam, we found a canal to watch the sun set over the water among the boats and city lights.

Our Eat Pray Love-esque day wouldn’t be complete without pizza and wine, so we got pizza and wine. The pizza was aight and the wine was eh. It sparked an idea to visit Italy for a bit…maybe…

It also “inspired” us to grab a €6 bottle of wine from Albert Heijn (the grocery store) because we’re Cla$$y! I fell asleep the earliest I have since we’ve been here – 11:30 pm (23:30) on a weekend night because that’s how you really do it here in Amsterdam.

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A Moment of Mindfulness

Here’s your moment of mindfulness while I reflect on mine:

(It’s a 360 video)

I’m starting to connect the dots between the moving parts in my life.

I used to try to think that everything was connected, and that everything happens for a reason. I’ve read books, exhausted mantras, and begged for signs. Little did I know the energy was aligning itself around me this whole time.

What sparked this sudden appreciation for the universe? Awareness…”duh” moments.

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I got a message from my friend David this evening. A simple “sup man” spiraled me into word-vomit typing fueled by inspiration. A puzzle piece found its home in my brain. Another synapse secured.

David makes music, and he’s been at it for about a year now. By making a conscious effort to refine his talent, and learning how to translate from beats his head to the world, he’s gotten so freakin’ good at it. I’m so happy nothing has stopped him from getting better at what he loves to do.

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Shoutout to Molly Dupont

The “duh” moment came when I recalled a scenario from earlier today. Shan tasked me with picking songs for one of our ever-so-fun YouTube videos and I tried my best to choose ones that made sense. Music is the most important complement to the visuals – it’s not easy to find a song that communicates the vibe we feel we’re while in awe. It’s calm and exciting all at the same time, like a bath bomb. I don’t know anyone who can capture that essence better than David. I can’t wait to share our new mixture of media with you.

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All in all, the more energy you spend on making your dreams come true, the stronger your dreams will be attracted to you.

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The 411

I woke up this morning and practiced meditation for the first time in a long time. Rather than chasing sporadic ideas of what I should do next, I want to let the true answer materialize once I’m ready to listen.

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I got some mail from my cousin Jill (whaddup Jilly Cat!) who was inquiring about some of the things mentioned in a post last week that are due for some updates, like:

  • The apartment search
  • Job search
  • Other travel plans

I will try my best to answer those questions!

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Gulp

Truth is, Shannon and I haven’t figured out what we’re doing yet. We’re in an AirBnB that is up on January 29th and haven’t secured anything beyond that point. Stupid? Maybe…

The thing is – I like not having a plan. Last week I almost had a heart attack thinking about the job I left and the security it brought me. I wanted to get on the next flight home and beg for my cubicle back because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing out here. Though I may not know exactly what the plan is for tomorrow or next week, I’ve begun to surrender into my big, comfortable chair of not knowing.

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The more I discover about this city, the more I love it. Amsterdam emits eccentricity, acceptance, and love; which vibrates off its towering buildings and into the hearts of its inhabitants…not to mention everyone we meet encourages us to stay here to find happiness like they did. We’re making friends and content…what could be better? Oh right…making money would be nice!

Knowing very well this will hinder our bank accounts, we’re going to turn our adventure into a Eurotrip. Not the kind where you stay two days to go snap pictures of famous buildings and hop on the next train, but something similar to what we’re already doing. We’ll plop ourselves in a city of our choice for an extended period of time and really get to know our surroundings. Why? We’re growing fond of this place we’re temporarily calling home. I want to ride this feeling as long as I can, wherever I can.

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A Lingering Possibility

Another interesting tidbit we learned from our favorite bartender, Lucas (owner of our favorite bar – Café het Dwarsliggertje, aka Always Opposite), is that we are eligible for a Working Holiday visa in Australia which lasts up to a year. I could go there, potentially get a job in social media/marketing, and keep this adventure moving full speed ahead while developing the skills I wish to perfect.

For now, I’m enjoying today – we’re going to the zoo! I promise to check in with more info on our decision-making process once we have updates on progress or factors influencing our choices.

Letting go and living in the moment feels good.

Thank you for reading our blog and traveling this journey with us. Your support means everything, and it is a solid staple in our success.

So I put my hands up
They’re playing my song, the butterflies fly away
I’m noddin’ my head like, ‘yeah’
I’m movin’ my hips like, ‘yeah’
I got my hands up, they’re playing my song
I know I’m gonna be okay
Yeah, it’s a party in the A’DA(M)

-Miley Cyrus, kind of

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Have you done a Eurotrip and have any suggestions of places we should visit? Stories you want to share? Maybe we’re waiting from a sign from you! Comment below and share your experiences with us 🙂

Ok, Sooooo…

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted and there’s been a weird reason why.

I know it’s only week #1, but I’ve been homesick! Kind of. Well, I’m physically sick with a sore throat, and I’ve been confused as hell over what I came here to do.

Not sure how many of you guys are into astrological signs…

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I’m a Taurus (if you disregard that new weird sign that’s popped up over the past year). According to astrology-zodiac-signs.com (which I’ve never used, but the definition is consistent with all other resources I’ve used), here’s how to describe my sign:

“They love everything that is good and beautiful, and they are often surrounded by material pleasures. People born under the Taurus sign are very sensual and tactile. Touch is extremely important for them, both in business and in romance. Stable and conservative, Taurus is among the most reliable signs of the zodiac.”

Check out those keywords I’ve so graciously bolded for you. Those are the characteristics I identify with that are making me feel extremely out of my comfort zone. I crave security, my support system, and a strong sense of purpose. Neither of those things are with me today in Amsterdam, but I’m learning to accept that I don’t need them.

I’ve had to ask myself a few questions:

  • By coming here, what did I expect to do?
  • How will this impact my life?
  • What do I desire to change?
  • How can I improve myself?
  • Who do I want to become?
  • What do I want to go back with?

I didn’t come here to party. I didn’t come here to feel homesick. I came here to give myself a fair shot at becoming a better person by having the space to do it, and that’s what I intend to do.

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Yeah, I’m still sort of freaking out about my future a bit because I know how difficult it can be to get a job. I’ve fumbled through ideas of grad school and going back to where I was working before I came here, but those thoughts are premature and impeding my ability to be present in the moment – right here, right now.

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So, that that mushy stuff being said, let me update you on what we’ve been up to 😁

Stay tuned,

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Now That It’s Been a Few Days…

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

…I can write a post about how it’s been adjusting to being in the city. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve already had a few waves of homesickness.

We’ve had our fair share of the nightlife thus far. When you’re six hours off from what you’re used to, you wake up late in the morning – or early afternoon in our case. I think we deserved ourselves a bit of fun to kick our adventure off right.

Night #2 started at the bar across the street.

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Inside was a drunk man named Kevin who insisted he was gay but proceeded to hit on us and try to kiss our cheeks. He may or may not have stuck his tongue out at us, and it wasn’t in a childish way. Don’t worry, it wasn’t just us. He did it to everyone in the bar…including the owner who was drunk off his ass on a Wednesday night. The other folks inside the bar included the bartender, another bar employee, and a man gambling his money away at a machine that was not being very nice to him.

Though I don’t remember their names, I remember everything about them.

First, I spoke with the other bar employee who has a brown ponytail and beard. I could barely hear him over the Dutch music reverberating off of the shiny foil-looking walls, but he told me he was from Romania and had lived in Amsterdam for 11 years. Apparently he came for a week’s visit with his friends and never went back. I’ve always wanted to meet someone who said “fuck it” that way, especially since this transition hasn’t been an easy one for me. I admire the way of the nomad – free to go wherever they’re drawn to rather than being stunted by the attachment to one place. It’s currently something I’m trying to master.

He pointed me toward the corner where another employee was curled up asleep in bed. This guy’s job was to be ridiculously cute.

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Okay, so the cat lady in me got out before I could stop her. This little nugget had piercing blue eyes and a thing for walking on the bar, and he almost fell asleep in my arms! My Romanian friend pictured above on the left told me he likes to call him “Friend”…which I misheard, so I called him Frank (shoutout to you, Frank!)

While I was drooling over kitty Frank, Shannon was making friends with the bartender. She only bartends two nights a week, and for the rest of the time she’s an office manager and is running her own business of being a stylist. She told us that Shannon’s color is coral, and that I’m a bottle-green or cherry. “It’s all about the subtle accents,” she said. Nails, lips, jewelry…all of these things go with a white blouse and black pants or jeans. I asked her where she was when I packed all of the other unnecessary shit in my suitcase.

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Because we were wide awake at midnight, we ventured into the Square again.

We walked around a few blocks to get to know the area and look for an ATM. Neither things happened, but we did find a cool McDonald’s where you pay on an LCD menu screen you’re ordering on. We also ran into two guys from Texas who said “y’all” many times. They had come to Amsterdam to indulge in the greenery.

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We found a bar that was open late named Woody’s, which we quickly discovered was a gay bar. The bartender poured us fireball shots that tasted like jaeger while putting his entire mouth around his glass of beer and knocking it back. People were dressed up in togas and singing Whitney Houston. All of it reminded me of college.

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I’m totally watching this show right now (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).

Our last and final stop was a tourist bar, Prime. Not gonna lie, I loved the familiar music that I could understand and dance to, but the best part about it was the free drinks we got from our new friends from the U.K.

All in all, we stayed up too late and missed half of another day because of it. Yesterday we wandered around aimlessly and visited the Red Light District before 10 pm, which we may go back to tonight to see it in its true late-night form. More to come on that one and the Rijksmuseum we visited today 😁

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“Hold On” – Alabama Shakes

I’m sitting in my cluttered room listening to the likable blues rock band called Alabama Shakes. The featured song is one that my sister Brittany and I enjoy belting in the car, which we just did on our way back from the pet store in Wallingford. We cherished a beautiful half hour with a Weimaraner named Jade.

Jade was a wittle sweepy 😴

So yeah, I put off cleaning up the tornado of a bedroom I’m living out of for another week…and the car that has my summer clothes thrown all over the backseat because they were in a garbage bag that ripped back in October – that’s how lazy I am. I moved out of my house into my parents’, and I’m being resistant.

Song change:

As terrible as it sounds, I don’t want to tie up my loose ends here. I don’t want to say goodbye to people over dinner or a drink or a tight-squeeze of a hug. I’ve learned that I’m really bad at goodbyes, so I’d rather just not do them in the first place. Nobody should take that personally, I just don’t like being sad.

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I still don’t know what perfectly prepared looks like on paper, all I know is that I’m not it. Is anyone ever ready to take on a new adventure? All I feel is the knot in my stomach that’s reacting to the doubt whispering in my ear that’s telling me this could be a huge mistake.

In a sense, I went and fucked up my whole life…not necessarily in a bad way, but I pointed out the biggest pieces of foundation and I ripped them out of the ground. There’s rubble everywhere, and I’m being forced to clean up the literal mess that I’ve created for myself.

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What if somedays I don’t feel like dealing with this massive thing I’ve plopped on my to-do list for an indefinite amount of time? I’ve signed myself up for a struggle I can only tackle when I feel like I have the ability to, which will force me to find strength in unfamiliar places. I can no longer hide from my responsibilities. I can no longer choose to feel small when I have an endless amount of tasks to complete. There’s no more room for feeling sorry for myself.

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I’m someone who draws power from the people I love that love me back. I want to focus on ways to keep connected with those who are fueling me even before I leave, like a Flat Stanley-type idea, for example, where myself and my support network will stay close in our hearts no matter the physical distance between us…and then we can Instagram it, of course.


While wrapping up that last paragraph, somebody rang our doorbell. My dad answered and I heard a familiar voice saying my name…it was my friend Steph‘s dad and he had an envelope in his hands. He handed it to me as he said “Steph is in Hawaii so she isn’t able to say goodbye to you and she wanted me to give you this.” Inside were exactly the words I needed to hear from such a dear friend.

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Steph, if you’re reading this, I want you to know how lucky I am to have you in my life. You and I have been friends since God-knows-when and I know we will continue to be rooting each other on for the rest of our lives. Thank you for considering me even while you’re exploring freakin’ Hawaii…I hope you can come visit and show me around the places you went to while you were in A’dam. I love you ❤️ & hope you have an awesome trip!

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Man, I am feeling thankful.

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We Found A Place To Live!

Best parts about our new apartment:

  • It’s in the heart of Amsterdam
  • It’s 2 bedrooms
  • Modern AF
  • And for the grand finale…IT HAS A WASHER/DRYER!

I am not one to commit to a place without having seen it first, even for a weekend getaway on AirBnB, but that’s just something I have to get over.

We live in an era where we have to learn to trust the power of transparency even though photoshop pokes its ugly head in almost every picture posted on the Internet.

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Me reading the comments on AirBnb.

I would’ve never taken a leap of faith on renting a place if it weren’t for the fact that Shannon and I leave in 18 days and we need some sort of security for when we get there. I just wish it didn’t have to be so expensive to buy personal space in other parts of the world. But so it goes…

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Do any of you readers have experience with trusting your gut & the Internet to commit to something you haven’t seen in real life? If so, please share to make me feel better 🙂

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Decisions, Decisions

I’ve received yet another offer from work attempting to make me stay, and I’ve got to be honest, it’s a friggin’ tempting one. They want me to do the same things I’ve been doing, somewhere else, and I don’t want what they have to give me anymore. (Someone told me it’s like dating a man – you want him when you can’t have him. Then when he wants you, you’re over it.)

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I’ve already made my decision about what I’m going to do in 2017 and I made it a long time ago. I’m just scared to make it real…to make it known. Well, part of me’s afraid, the other thinks it’s no big deal after the mental and emotional shit I’ve already been through. This is the easy part – I haven’t even left yet!

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Yes, the self-journey has begun, and people say starting something is usually the hardest part, but I’m holding my tongue until I’m actually en route to my destination. I’ll have left my life behind on the ground that I’m staring at out the plane window. But how about we start with quitting my job first.

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I try not to let worry bother me because there’s no point. A little paranoia is healthy, but questioning things that have already been answered so many times in your head is like a sickness. If there were ever a time to get rid of any doubt, now is it.

Like the things I respond to and move on from in life, I must learn to accept my own decisions.

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This here’s the first biggie, and there are thousands – millions, even – to follow. I have to begin depending on my own skill and intuition in this new era. Those things have always been with me, they’ve just never been acted on…never been in control…never dictated any outcomes.

Why do I want to believe that trusting myself will be a mess when every other super successful person in the world became great by doing the same?

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7 Characteristics of A Great Personal Advocate

Journeys are rarely faced alone.

No matter how physically isolated you are, other people are with you in spirit (unless you’ve really cut off all ties and no one knows where you are).

The ones who are with you are the ones who sent you off with a smile, curious about your next move and how you’re going to handle it. They have faith in you and can actually face the reality of your whereabouts – they ask for details about where you are in life and what it’s like rather than refusing to acknowledge that the person they know is gone.

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These are our advocates, and they are the absolute game changer to any dream.

An advocate is someone…

  1. You respect whose eyes widened with joy when you told them you were embarking on an adventure.
  2. Who encourages and assures you regularly because they know you need that little boost from someone.
  3. Who believes you are making the right decision for yourself, regardless of what others say.
  4. Who puts your personal well-being before anything else, in every scenario.
  5. Who has attained a level of success in the same context that you wish to achieve.
  6. Who suggests solutions to potential problems and helps diminish reasons to be afraid.
  7. Who either wishes you well or begins the first leg with you.

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Got any characteristics or names of advocates that you’d like to share? Comment below and shout out a few! Or share this article with an advocate you want to recognize!

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Letting Out That Something

Ever feel like there’s a burst of energy within you waiting to be recognized?

Sometimes it’s stagnant – surreptitiously savored by the subconscious while shallow encounters steal your focus. Other times it’s ignited – bouncing around your insides waiting to burst off the tip of your tongue or fingers.

The bouncing one – that’s what I’ve been feeling lately. When I really sit down to let myself in, I feel this intense need to release this soft, glowing burn that craves attention by the rest of the world.

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Sometimes it can be relinquished by a song, or any type of art for that matter. It does the trick for me when the buzz I’m feeling feels simple enough to be extinguished through audio. Lately, that isn’t the case. Songs and pictures from someone else’s page don’t describe what I’m trying to say.

The energy within me is taking on a course of it’s own, growing more complicated and harder to tame…harder to explain…

I’m no longer identifying with what used to help me express myself. There is a true need for my own voice to be broadcasted and heard by the others who can’t quite hit the spot with superficial shit. To misrepresent what one is feeling inside is a sacrifice nobody should make. We live in an era of multimedia and increasing transparency…might as well be honest. Identifying with any piece of expression other than what you feel is bullshit that is dictating your life by causing you to settle for something other than truth.

Time to start taking my own advice. I’m not settling for shit.

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