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 🙂

Learn Something New, Why Dontcha?

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

Feeling tired of our concrete surroundings, we were happy and relieved to finally see what Vondelpark is all about.

A Vondelightful Walk In the Park

I needed this fresh air away from the stink of cigarettes and greasy food. It was chilly, but that’s something you learn to brave through quickly. Bundle up, shut up, and explore.

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Peep the Rijksmuseum in the background!

We Van Went to the Van Gogh Museum

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I really enjoyed this museum. It made me feel stupid for not having known more about one of the most famous artists of all time. Am I the only one who was unclear about the whole cutting-off-ear-and-dying-two-years later thing? Let me break some things down for you.

Vincent’s Thug Life

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Here’s how the major events went down:

  • 1880Age 27: Decided to ditch mining to become an artist.
  • 1888 – Age 35: Started to go crazy and cut his ear off.
  • 1890Age 37: Shot himself in the chest with a pistol. Died two days later.

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If you’re like me, you’re probably shocked at how quickly his fate turned from hopeful to hopeless. Like…wait a minute. I thought he was so eager for life and success, right? So what made him go from motivated painter to someone medicated by the paint brush in just 10 years?

The Letters

Aside from the progression of his work, his letters allow you to peek inside his brain and feel what he was experiencing throughout his life. His attitude reads like a somber appreciation for the simple things – he communicated his preference for bare branches and mute meadows over the complex city life. And when he began to feel threatened by his uncontrollable thoughts, we grieved the demise of his self-control as if he were our friend.

The Truth Behind How He Became Successful

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Theo van Gogh

I want to include a few other things that shocked me that I didn’t know before:

  • Vincent lived off a monthly allowance from his brother, Theo – an art dealer – for the 10 years he was an artist.
  • Vincent died before he flourished.
  • Theo was determined to honor Vincent when he died, but Theo died 6 months after Vincent.
  • Theo’s wife Jo and son Willem are responsible Vincent becoming mega-famous.

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Heavy Hearts and Hungry Tummies

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The museum left an impression on us as we walked back to our apartment. We were flustered and therefore missed an opportunity to experiment with Dutch cuisine. We chose the barestaurant down the street from our apartment, and we were disappointed to find it had mostly American food as well as endless amounts of American sport’s decor.

I caved and ordered chicken wings. Sorry guys, no pix of them beeeecause what a terrible choice that was! I mean, they weren’t bad…they just weren’t J. Timothy’s 😫💔😢💭🍗

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So, I solemnly swear to order something Dutch the next time we eat something other than the groceries we already bought. Btw, let me give a shoutout to arguably the BEST chocolate milk I might ever have in my lifetime, Chocomel 👏🏼  Screw you and thank you for being so addicting.

I’ll catch you guys up on the next museum and adventurous activity in the next post.

For now,

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Ever been to the Van Gogh Museum? Have a favorite art piece you’d like to share with us? Tell us by commenting below!

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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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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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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Fluctuating Hopes & Possibilities

Uncertainty is taking its toll on me. I’m learning the hard way to dump all expectations because they have nothing to do with what actually unfolds.

I’ve been taking it one day at a time while the move to Europe is right around the corner and things have continued to get more complicated.

I almost got a job abroad at work…sort of. Allies agreed to follow the idea and maybe see it to fruition, but I think it’s already been stopped by an HR department far, far removed from my needs. They shrugged their shoulders and decided it was too complicated. Disappointment sucks.

If I had a chance at staying with my company, I’d be in Scotland or Belgium. I’ve distanced myself from the idea ever since I was turned down back in August and was just warming back up to it. I’d find a new purpose with work. Things would be so much more secure.

So, if I don’t stay with work, it’s really up to the survival skills to kick in. Shan and I will have to find our way with little-to-nothing except the stubbornness we have to make this move a successful one.

Each and every How I Built This podcast episode I’ve listened to and other success stories I’ve read all have one theme in common: the risk. The crazy refresh of life from confusion and dreams into a brand new world. We don’t choose the lives we’re born into, but we can choose to start them over once we’ve finally learned what could propel us into the next one.

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Quotes, or Call It Quits

Everyday is an internal argument – “What are you doing with your life? Do you really think you can succeed on your own? Can you even take care of your minimal needs, let alone create a lifestyle that will make you happier than you are now?”

To silence this battle and inspire my inner strength, I turn to quotes to keep me moving forward. Doubt is powerful, but it’s not impossible to defeat.

Here are some quotes that resonate with me and remind me why I’m doing what I am:

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” – Joseph Campbell

“Don’t settle. Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.” – Chris Brogan

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“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” –Muhammad Ali

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller

What are some quotes that motivate you? Comment below with the ones you turn to when in need of a little boost.

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