Insta-Life

Here are a few more details behind some of my favorite Instagram photos lately:

  1. We have had some pretty beautiful views lately from this sweet little cabin. I snapped this shot one evening after a full day of hard work stacking wood, taking down trees, and cleaning out the basement. Most and rakija were most definitely a part of the day. 
     
  2. This picture is from a few weeks ago when Damir and I were asked to appear as guests on a TV show on Slovenia's POP TV. They did a brief interview with us and after watching it I realized that I smile too much. Noted. But we did get our hair and makeup done together, and that was a first! Adding another strange and cool experience to our list...
     
  3. I really like this one dish that everybody seems to eat and serve here. Basically you take skuta (sort of like ricotta) or cottage cheese. Chop onions on top of it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then drizzle with a generous amount of pumpkin seed oil. You guys, pumpkin seed oil is my new jam. So much flavor and such a rich color!
     
  4. We made the paper! Our friend Petra wrote a little piece on our move to Koroska that appeared in the local newspaper. I must learn to take better pictures... But it was so nice of her to interview us!
     
  5. I've been hitting the trails quite a bit with this little guy, especially now that the snow is melting and the sun has been showing itself a little bit more. I'm using the Nike+ running app sort of obsessively and I'm doing the 5k training program because I am a massive beginner when it comes to running. I don't think he minds all the exercise. :)
     
  6. I spent last Sunday exploring a part of Slovenia I'd never been to before (the chicken head and neck). I snapped this shot of a cat lounging in the sun at a flour mill. I made a mental note to lounge in the sun more, myself. 
 

March Mood Board

 Some visual and mental stimulation to help kick off the month of March. 
Thank you tumblr...

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  1. New goal for March, and for life: spend more time naked in bed. Why? Because clothes are overrated and being in bed is the best. It also wouldn't hurt to have a setup like this one pictured. In fact, this whole scene reminds me of my wedding a little bit. This image will serve as future bedroom inspiration for my next home...
  2. I've always had a fascination with lips. They're so sensitive and sensual and unique. I have a tendency to stare at people's lips when I meet them. I draw them in all my notebooks. And when I came across this oil painting by Nena Klein, I couldn't stop staring at it. I would love a print of this. It would serve as a great reminder to make out more, wouldn't it? 
  3. Yossy Arefi is a phenomenal photographer who actually shot and wrote for The Violet back in the good old days. I came across this photograph on tumblr and automatically knew it was one of hers. I'm hoping that the month of March contains a good amount of chocolate cake. 
  4. I've found this statement to be so true. In my life, I can't express how many strange connections there have been that I would never have expected. I'm still waiting for more pieces to come together, but I have faith that they will. As disjointed as everything can feel sometimes, I believe that the universe is complicated and complex and even sometimes cruel, but "eventually, everything connects". I've been feeling like I'm floating a bit lately, and perhaps a little lost once again, so I am going to write this on a post it and stick it somewhere I will see everyday. There is a purpose. There is a point. There is a path. Have faith.
  5. This watercolor by Tim makes me smile every time I see it. In fact, all of the illustrations on this fantastic instagram bring a little more joy to my life. I see Odin in this image — curiosity, tenacity, and whimsy. In love. 
  6. And finally, I've found my new life goal: to be as cool and carefree as this badass pup. Stick your tongue out and taste the shit out of life while wearing rockin' shades. 

 

Happy March!

The Sun is Out and Things Are Looking Up!

The sun is out today and I'm feeling better. I am pretty sure the two are related.

I hesitated a few days ago about publishing that post on homesickness, because I didn't want people to really worry too much. But I'm an open book and I pretty much NEED to share whatever is going on in my head somewhere. I have a diary too, and I write in it everyday but there's just something about putting your innermost thoughts out to the public to read and potentially judge that helps me to really own my feelings and actions.

And I think it really helped to get it all out there. Thank you to everyone who reached out to make sure I'm doing ok, and to my friends here who told me I need to take my mind off of everything and make sure to be social — you are right, but I've been bordering on anti-social behavior for quite a few years now, so this is new territory for me. :)

After I wrote that post on Wednesday, I packed a bag, got in the car with Odin and drove down to Damir's family's apartment in town. We spent the afternoon with various friends. I drank something called Winter Jack (think hot, sweet, spicy Jack Daniels), which immediately calmed my spirits, as did the conversation and kindness. I spent the night down in town and when I got back here yesterday evening, I felt a lot better. I cooked dinner and vacuumed and even scrubbed the floors (though I need to do all of that again because, like I said last time, this winter weather/mud with a dog is brutal). 

Then I decided that in order to get through the next two weeks, I need to a.) take my friend's advice and be more social b.) be brave and just go do things on my own and c.) set up a schedule for each day to accomplish little things so I don't feel like I'm floating all the time. My best friend, Morgan, moved to Russia and Puerto Rico by herself for volleyball many years back, and I remember being blown away by how fearless she was (and really, how fearless she is everyday). So I'm taking inspiration from her and from everyone who shared their stories with me about leaving their homes — thank you for that, you are all my heroes — and moving to a foreign place, mustering up the courage to get through the homesickness and create a new life.

So today I woke up with a plan that I had already written down in my journal. I got the fire going again while I drank green tea. I did yoga for the first time in over a year with Odin thinking that all my downward dog poses were actually play bows and that it was time to wrestle a bit. I put on my hiking boots and hit the trail running (fast-walking, actually) with my pup and the Nike+ Running app. And now I'm writing this post to tell you all that I love you. I love being able to share my thoughts and fears and hopes and anxieties and dreams here. I love that you read it. I love that you share your stories and advice. I love you.

"What gives value to travel is fear. It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so far from our own country … we are seized by a vague fear, and an instinctive desire to go back to the protection of old habits … this is why we should not say that we travel for pleasure. There is no pleasure in traveling, and I look upon it more as an occasion for spiritual testing … Pleasure takes us away from ourselves in the same way as distraction, in Pascal’s use of the word, takes us away from God. Travel, which is like a greater and a graver science, brings us back to ourselves." — Albert Camus
 

Homesickness is no joke.

I've been in Slovenia for over a month, now, though it feels like much, much longer to me. The first thing I've learned is that living in a place is very different from visiting a place, no matter how many times I've visited before, or how long I've stayed in the past. There is an emotional shift when I realized I can't go home anymore, because, well, I already am home. 

Except I'm not home. I call it home, and I have all my stuff around me, but it doesn't feel like I belong here. I've moved a few times in the last 10 years within the Bay Area and never had a hard time adjusting, so I thought this one would be easy. It's not easy. Particularly because of the fact that Damir — the one thing I actually need to feel at home anywhere — isn't here for two more weeks. And as much as I am trying to adjust, as I start to understand more and speak more, being without him in a new country has left me feeling more homesick than ever before. Also, it is worth noting that you really do feel physically sick when you're homesick. I've had a pain deep in my chest for a few days now that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.

And I feel so bad saying that, which only makes it all worse, because the people here have been unbelievably kind and welcoming and it feels a bit unfair to them to express just how much I miss my home. Just this morning, my incredible neighbor came by to make sure I had enough wood for our heater. My in-laws stayed up here for 4 days working all day every day to fix up this little place. My friends are always offering to hang out or give me rides when I'm nervous about driving in the snow. People tell me to let them know if I need anything at all — and they really mean it, which is really surprising to me because where I'm from, we say that all the time but we really hope nobody will ever actually ask us for help.

There are so many positives to being here and so many great lessons being learned that my rational mind can pinpoint and appreciate. But then my emotional mind steps in, as it always seems to no matter how hard I try to exclude it from the party, and shit gets a little crazy in my head. I cried for 2 hours last night and I don't even really know why. Then this morning, I fell down the stairs and hurt my back and neck a bit, and I cried for another 2 hours. And now, as I'm writing this, I'm trying to work up the courage to drive down the snowy mountain to visit friends and family and take my mind off of all this loneliness. 

So, because I really don't know what else to write, and this is the easy way out of finishing this post, here are a few lists:
 

Things I miss about home

The weather — I had romanticized living in snow-country in my head for years, clearly, because as peaceful as soft falling white snow is, driving in it is not fun, the cold isn't fun, and neither is the mud that results when it melts. Especially with a dog. 

Whole Foods — And wild salmon. And almond milk. And green smoothies (but we're buying a blender soon). And all the glorious healthy choices. But to be fair, we're going to end up eating much better here than we did in California once we get the garden going, and once we get our freezer and refrigerator situation figured out.

The TV — There's only so many times I can watch the same Kardashian episode on E, which is one of  the only english channels we get up here on this mountain. 

My family and friends — But you knew that was coming. Oh, what I would give to walk up to my parents' place for a cup of coffee and a chat. I miss my family desperately. And I miss my friends there more than I expected to, since I usually go long periods of time without seeing them as it is. Thank God I have a good family and good friends here, or I'd be completely lost. 

The unlimited internet — This speaks for itself. I am constantly checking my data usage. I have to plan every download and Skype call and I hate it. But I guess I should be thankful we have internet at all up on this hill.

The coffee — I miss my American coffee maker too much. Filtered coffee may get a bad rap around the world, but I love it. I love that I can drink a big hot steamy cup of it. I love that I can program it to wake me up in the morning. 

Things I do NOT miss about home

The stress — Undeniably, the past few years have been some of the most stressful of my life, and all of those worries and all of the problems that took up so much of my happiness over there simply don't exist here.

Whole Foods — Specifically, the prices. I cannot get over how affordable all the food is here. Even the organic stuff. The quality is fantastic and to be honest, I do like the idea of buying meat from the local butcher, and getting the best milk I've ever tasted from our neighbor's cows. 

The pace — Things move at a different pace here. Business happens differently. Happiness is prioritized. Coffee breaks are a mandatory part of life. All of these things are things I need to learn and make a part of my life. But I'd actually say I do miss a little bit of the pace and the energy back in the states. I think some kind of a hybrid is what I want out of my life. 

The pretense — I have found the people here are generally more sincere and genuine than in the states (with the exception of a whole bunch of people back home and you know who you are and you know I love you to death). What I mean is, people give it to you straight here. There's very little small talk. And they mean what they say. It's very refreshing. One thing that frustrates me in America is that many people are trying to live a certain lifestyle because of the way it reads to the outside world and I just don't see as much of that here. If you like something, it's because you actually like that thing — not the way it makes you seem in the eyes of other people. And that is one of those big life lessons I'm learning over here.

 

 

AND FINALLY, THINGS I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO HERE

Because this blog is my therapy sometimes, and right now I need a little therapy.

My garden — This is easily the biggest thing for me. I cannot wait to really learn to grow food. I have already learned a lot about trees and food storage and I am hoping this will be the biggest skill sets I take away from this chapter. Blueberry and mushroom picking with Fazila are also high on my list!

Summer — Shorts and t-shirts and sandals and being tan. Also being warm. I love summer in Slovenia. I love the humidity and the heat and even the bees. I love cold Slovenian beer in the summer, the rainstorms and the naps they inspire. I love leaving the windows open, but closing the shutters. I love hanging out at the pool and watching Damir swim in the sunshine. I love the trips and the adventures and the fruit. I love the tomatoes and peppers from Bosnia. I love summer in Slovenia.

Fixing up this house — There are a lot of things we need to do in order to get this house where we want it to be. A few bigger projects and a bunch of smaller ones, but we've already tackled quite a few things. I'm excited to see what we can do with this sweet little cottage. 

Life with my husband — This is the reason I moved here. Because 3 years of an on and off long distance marriage just wasn't ok anymore, not when I could do something about it. I got a little taste of what it was going to be like with him before left for this training camp and it is just so delicious. This is the one thing that will make all the homesickness, all the frustration, all the adjustment worth it for me. I am so excited to have a life with my husband. 

XO

 

 

 

Oh, and P.S. I just want to give a really big thank you to my dear friends and family from home and abroad who have taken the time to check on me, send me sweet packages and postcards, or even just chat with me for a while while I vent a bit. Your kindness and thoughtfulness literally blows my mind and I feel very lucky to have you all in my life. Your love and support means the world to me.