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 🙏🏼🌺

Classic A’dam Pic

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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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!

An Emotional End to the Holiday Season

Christmas is over, meaning I said my goodbyes to my cousins, aunts, and uncles, and I used the phrase “see you in six months.”

I had such a great weekend with the company that matters most to me: my family.

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It looks like I have a little hat on.

The long weekend was rounded off by our traditional family trip to J. Timothy’s.

If you’ve never heard me go on about J. Tim’s, you’ve missed about 20% of the things that come out of my mouth. They have THE BEST CHICKEN WINGS that I have EVER had – which is totally worth blabbing about. They’re all over my Instagram…I’m not ashamed of my love for chicken that has been sauced and fried twice.

Look, here’s how much of a fan I am:

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So aside from J. Tim’s being full of delicious goodness, I love it because it’s always brought my family together. Little by little our family grows bigger with our new additions tangling their roots into our family tree. One of my sisters is engaged, another lives with her boyfriend in Massachusetts, and the youngest is one of my best friends in this world. My parents are supportive and want us all to be healthy and happy. There’s no reason to frown when we’re all sitting down at the same table.

Notice the hair down in the “before” and the hair up in the “after” ?

As I drove home after hugging Becca goodbye for the last time until June, I cried. I leave in less than two weeks. This, right now, is the end to so many familiarities…so many things that come to easy for me.

Though I am sad, I can’t help but feel a bit of raging excitement for the world I’ve only seen through the TV screen that’s about to become my reality.

I feel pretty empowered rn. Love you, fam 💋

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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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At Least One Thing’s Figured Out

Our new Instagram name, @ageof_exploration.

Do you know how hard it is to settle on something that is supposed to draw people into you in one glance? Well it’s not easy. After months of going back and forth with terrible ideas with Shan, we are officially declaring ourselves as the @ageof_exploration.

Why?

  1. Shannon’s a history teacher
  2. We are explorers
  3. We both loved learning about the Age of Exploration
  4. We’re at the friggin’ age of exploration!

This doesn’t stop at Insta – we’ll figure out new ways to incorporate it into everything we make so you guys know how to track us on our adventure across the world.

What do you guys think? Comment and tell us if you like the name or if you have any other suggestions worth sharing!

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Close, But Yet So Far

39 days. A month can be the shortest or the longest period of time depending on how you look at it. I don’t know if I want more time or for this year to be over already.

What should I be doing aside from trying to keep my job for next year? I just mailed my 30-day-in-advance notice to my landlord about my exit from this apartment and the lease…I guess starting to move out is the next move.

I’m going to do it with my head down while I try not to linger on the situation for too long. I have to do as I’m told by the me who is in the zone with a pen and a notebook. I have to follow that teeny tiny inkling despite how it’s going to affect my current environment. I must become impenetrable from the outside world. I can’t let it get to me.

So I’ll transfer my belongings like I have a million times before to and from my dorms, except this time I don’t have a break to slowly put them into their proper places. I have to do everything right the first time from here on out, every time.

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Mid-Week Motivation: Remembering You’re in Control

Individuals, society, corporations…they all want to take advantage of how gullible we can be. They tell us that they are in control of our decisions and our fate, and we almost always agree because we don’t know what else to do. This is what we’ve been taught and so shall it be.

Acknowledging that we are in control is powerful and it is fueled by imagination. Imagine where you want to be and accept only that. From there, imagine your immediate next step, which is all anyone needs to move forward toward his or her dream.

Whispers of doubt and the temptation to relinquish control are constantly knocking on our doors. It’s up to us to guard that door, to protect ourselves, and to leave the fucking building altogether.

Abandon the fabricated delusions. Life’s too short to give up on what you believe you truly deserve.

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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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