Everything Doesn’t Always Go to Plan

Everyone plans…for their future, for their day out, for their holidays. You can plan everything down to the second, but life has taught me over the last month that no matter how much you plan, things can fall apart.

A couple days before Christmas my relationship of 4 years fell apart and all the planning I had done just disappeared. Do I regret anything? No. Would I change things if I could? No. Life throws these curveballs, there is no way around that. But how we grow from them is up to us. I could have chosen to be a wreck and cry the entire time we were on holiday in Scotland. Instead, I dusted the dirt off my shoulders and picked myself up and had a great holiday!

So no matter how much you plan, you also have to give space for the what ifs in life. This year definitely didn’t start the way I thought it would…But this is the year that I take things under control. My health for one…and take time to be me and grow even more as a person. Whether that is going out more and taking pictures and growing as a photographer, to trying those Pinterest recipes that I have wanted to try for a while now.

When you are going through a tough time in life, what do you do to pick yourself back up? For me, it’s surrounding myself with friends and family, laughing and remembering all the awesome things that have happened! And of course, comfort food such as chocolate and pizza was consumed! And a whole lot of shortbread and mulled wine instant tea (Whittard) in Scotland too!

So instead of Italy, this year I’m going to explore other countries, work on my photography and finally dye my hair! What’s something that you planned that fell through? How did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments or email me!

~ My entire life can be described in one sentence: It didn’t go as planned, and that’s ok – Anonymous ~

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Friendship

Friends come in different shapes and seizes… some friends have been in my life for 30 years, others walked into my life just almost a year ago… some are older, some are younger….

‘If you have crazy friends, you have everything you need’ is a quote I read somewhere….

The definition of friendship for me is being with someone whom I can trust and can be myself with…

We need friends. We need people around us that guide us, mold us, shape us and protect us. And it’s a 2-way street ofcourse!!!

Today was spent in the company of friends. A leisurely lunch and wonderful conversation.

Below a collection of my friends…. if you are not there in the picture, it does not mean you are not my friend… but it means I have no pictures to share…. and we certainly should remedy that!!!! Looking through these pictures I can truly say… I am blessed!

East, West, Home is Best

These last 10 days have been a real adventure… deciding in the morning which way to travel, or which campsite to let our motor home rest. The initial intention was to drive the total 500 route along the Scottish Highland coast. We managed a fair bit, am happy to report… but needed to turn back at Thurso due to the weather. We visited John O Groats, the most northern point in the British mainland. A couple years ago we visited Lands End, the most southern point. So we can now truly say we have driven the total length of Great Britain!

We loved spending time at Chanonry Point, searching for dolphins. We did see a seal, but the dolphins did not decide to appear for us. Nonetheless, we walked the beach there and found other treasures…. shells and sea glass… the area is breathtaking… I could be parked up there for hours with a nice cup of tea.

We have been truly blessed by the weather… we have seen snow, had a little rain, but had mostly sunshine… that was until last night when our stop happened to be near Carlisle, just outside Gretna, the Scottish bordertown. We did see the amber wind warning, but assumed we were going to be ok…. well, we were ok… but as the winds battered the caravan we were strategically parked behind, the whole motor home rocked… for most of the evening and night… not too much sleep for us all there!

That brings me to today… we have returned home… and even though I have truly loved our adventure, evenings playing Yahtzee, crochet or reading… this is my home… and I am very glad to be spending another night here before flying back to my Minnesota home. We have seen east (Scotland) and west (Scotland)…. but home truly is the best!

New Year

It’s the day before the last day of the year, and time to reflect on that which is now the past…. What did 2017 bring you?

For our family, 2017 has brought a lot of change. Melody passed her Masters in Zoo Conservation Biology (a great accomplishment and I am very proud!), Geert bought another car to replace the car he had…. and I have lived in the US now for 7 months.

At the moment our family is reunited in the British Isles. In Scotland to be precise. We had read a lot about the area above Inverness and therefore decided to explore it. Currently we are driving the Route 500 in a Motorhome. We are hoping to ring in the new year in Durness, on the beach. Who knows… we might be lucky and spot the Northern Lights! So far we are loving every minute of it. Below you can see a few snapshots.

In a few days, life will return back to our normal. 2018 will have begun and with it, the promise of another blessed year. No one knows what the future holds.. am sure glad I know Who holds the future. Even if our family will spend some more time apart, we are together in love, faith and knowledge that we will spend eternity together.

A blessed 2018 to all!

Christmas Lights

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The first couple lines of a Christmas poem, which was played on the radio by one of the houses we went to have a look at… Christmas lights… a joy to go watch what other people do to decorate their houses… it was even synchronised to music which you could hear if you tuned in through the radio. Most houses were decorated to raise money for a good cause. One house stood out though.. their website said that their aim was to tell people about the good news of Christmas… a Saviour born, to restore the relationship between God and man.

Our favourite area was a neighbourhood in Plymouth, MN. The houses were beautiful even without the lights… but with the lights it was just magical… that’s what I really do love about Christmas… the cosy atmosphere these little twinkling lights bring to an area…

Are you a little twinkling light bringing good cheer to men? Or is this time of the year one of sadness and loneliness? Whatever it is, I hope you will find some comfort in the lights all around you, passing it on to others… knowing that The Light came to save us all.

Merry Christmas to all!

Waiting

Everyone probably knows the feeling…. suspense, nervous, excited, with anticipation…. something has been worth waiting for and is drawing near..

That is what I feel.. I have not been home in the UK since May this year, and in only 6 days I will be going home to visit. Am excited to see those things I hold dear, spend time with my family that I miss. Making new memories along the way.

Am also a little nervous. Will my cats remember me? Will my home still feel like my home? Will I be ok to leave again after the holidays?

Having been travelling between the US and the UK extensively, I have truly had the best of both worlds…when in the UK I miss the US and vice versa. And yet… the UK is my home. Or is it?

What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for the Christmas period to end so all can get back to normal? Are you looking forward to spending Christmas with loved ones? Are you eagerly anticipating the presents you will receive? You are not alone….

Know that your biggest gift is freely given. And all you need to do is to accept it. Christmas is a reminder of Gods love for us, and He is waiting eagerly for you to be with Him.

Maybe that is what waiting is about? Anticipation to be reconnected?

Christmas is coming!

Christmas…… I have these dreams of cozy family time, roaring fires, love for all, peace on Earth, home cooked meals etc. Am sure you get what I mean…

Instead, I find myself still on another business trip at the end of this year, wondering how I will manage all I want to accomplish before I fly home to spend a couple weeks in the UK. I have not bought any Christmas presents, although my emails are bombarded with ads, promises of cheap and cheerful presents. I have not decorated my apartment, other than the below Christmas trees in the window. No roaring fire, I don’t even have a fire place! Today in the news I saw a New York bomb attack, California wild fires.. peace on Earth is still far away.

What is Christmas really about? Why is there so much pressure on this season? Should we not be celebrating the fact that Jesus came to this Earth as a little babe, to reconcile us with our Heavenly Father? Would it not be sufficient to just be grateful for that, and let the rest pass by?

Maybe that’s what I will do this year.. just be… a little Mary, sitting at His feet, rather that Martha..always busy… I still have a couple weeks to ponder that some more…. what about you?

You Can’t Save What You Don’t Love…

The title is a quote made famous by Joel Sartore, who decided a couple years ago to start a project called the photo ark, and if you haven’t checked it out yet…you should!!! What an incredible project! But in the documentary, he mentioned the quote “You can’t save what you don’t love” and for me, it is a quote that resonated very deeply.

 

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Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved animals, and the older I got, the more I realized that I loved animals more than people…It got to the stage that when a person died in a movie I was sad but didn’t cry…If an animal died, however, I would be crying for days on end.

There is just something about protecting animals who have no voice that meant a lot to me from very early on in my life…Movies like Free Willy and Flipper just sparked something inside me. So the earliest opportunity I got in life I wanted to make a difference. I will talk about this in future posts but I went to Madagascar for 3 months with Frontier to help with the research out there and educating the local people how to be sustainable without damaging the environment and then a couple years later I went to Zakynthos for a month to work with protecting the turtles there and again educating both tourists and locals about what they should and shouldn’t do to protect the turtles.

 

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Every moment of my life, I am trying to think of ways in which I can do something to help protect not only the marine environment but all animals. It can start with a simple thing like adopting a pet from an animal shelter and giving them a new chance at life to shopping with reusable bags rather than plastic ones and shopping for sustainably sourced fish and knowing which fish are currently thriving and not eating a fish to extinction.

So back to this quote, Joel talks about the fact that we are not going to save an animal species or the environment as a whole without falling in love with it. Everyone has some animal that they love, why not try to protect that species, even if they aren’t endangered yet!

Maybe for Christmas instead of buying something material, why not buy an adoption pack of their favourite animal? Or buy something from a charity where the funds go to protecting our planet’s wildlife.

What is your favourite animal? And what are you going to do to make a difference?

~ When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal. I see a living being, I see a friend, I feel a soul – A. D. Williams ~

When Everything is Going Right…​

I woke up today in Costa Rica and just had a feeling that things were going to go well today! It is not often that I have this feeling as I am normally a pessimist, a glass half empty kind of girl. But not today for some reason…Today I woke up with a glass half full feeling.

As some of you are aware, I was still waiting to hear back about my master’s degree as I had handed it in a couple months prior. I had received an email to say that my results would be published from today (6th December 2017). So with this new feeling of positivity, I logged in at 4:45am and to my amazement (not to my mothers though!) I had passed!!!! I’d done it! I had completed a Masters in Science by Research in Zoo Conservation Biology. It had been an extremely tough 2 years with lots of struggles, but I had done it and no one could take that away from me anymore!

Now, not everything has been smooth sailing for me over the last couple weeks…After having broken my finger in Boston whilst whale watching, I managed to get a job, but the first day of officially starting it, I had contracted a nasty chest infection with a high fever. Not an ideal start…Dad luckily was able to cover me whilst I was sick in bed. Finally, after a week and a half of it not getting any better, I finally gave in and started on some antibiotics. It still took another 2 weeks before it finally cleared up enough but by this time I was already able to work.

A month later and I was getting ready to pack my bags and head to Costa Rica to finally see mum again, after almost 2 months of not seeing her! The following morning, the alarm went off just before 4am and dad and I climbed into the car and headed to the airport. I was still early so I was able to have a bit of breakfast with dad before I went through security…Going through security I followed all the rules and took out my large electronics and liquids, but my rucksack was still pulled to the side to be searched. I suddenly started to panic wondering what I had left in my rucksack that would set off alarm bells. Turns out they couldn’t understand the gimble and case that my GoPro was in… So off I went to the gate, the closer I got, however, the louder the commotion and I wasn’t sure what was happening. It took me a couple minutes to find out that the pilot had come out just before I got to the gate to let everyone know that we weren’t taking off at 6:30am but that he wasn’t sure when we would! Amsterdam was apparently covered in frost and fog which meant that no planes were allowed to take off or land…This normally wouldn’t have been an issue, if I didn’t have very short layovers in both Amsterdam and Paris before flying on to Costa Rica. I straight away started panicking and thinking of worst case scenarios.

Long story short, the flight left for Amsterdam 2 hours later than planned and we arrived in Amsterdam the time I was meant to take off for Paris. But during the flight, we were already told that most flights from Amsterdam were also delayed! So slight panic over…Turned out that my delay in Amsterdam was another hour and a half! The fun bit was landing in Paris however, I had 30 minutes to make my connection…Now those of you who have flown through Charles de Gaulle airport know that it is huge!!! I had to go through passport control and take a bus to the right terminal! 30 minutes suddenly didn’t seem long enough at all! Luckily, whilst I was waiting for the bus, I overheard some couples talking who were all going to Costa Rica as well! A group of 30 of us were all trying to get on the same plane! Again we did make it and before I knew it I was in the air on the way…

 

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Almost 11 hours later, we land in Costa Rica and I thought, now I can relax…Sod’s Law struck again…My suitcases didn’t arrive…I was severely overdressed for the weather…hmmm…now what! I was told that hopefully, my suitcases would arrive the following day, and luckily I had packed a clean t-shirt and underwear in my carry-on. So at least I had something!

Fast forward a couple days and one of my suitcases arrived 3 days later and the other one arrived this morning (4 days later). So now I can fully enjoy Costa Rica and relax!!! The first time that I can properly relax in about 5 years…

What is a way that you love to relax? Let me know in the comments and message privately!

 

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~ I asked God “Why are you taking me through troubled water?” He replied “Because your enemies can’t swim!” ~

 

 

Favourite Things About Autumn…

Autumn is a time of year where some get depressed with the falling leaves and the temperatures dropping. I, however, love it! And here are some of the reasons why!!

As a photographer, autumn is one of the most inspiring times of year to take pictures…the changing colours, the coats, the scarves, the hats! So many possibilities without being too hot or too cold!

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The smells!!!! Apple orchards are in full swing and the smell of a fresh apple is unbeatable in my opinion! All the variety of pies that are being made, the smell of rain, the smell of crisp fresh air! Autumn really does have the best smells!! This time of year also brings around my favourite drink of the year! Hot apple cider!! The smell of apple, cinnamon and star anise really warms me from the inside out!!! It is also a time of year where teas come out more and more from our cupboard. I start drinking tea on a daily basis, not English breakfast though! More fruit and herbal teas! The perfect way to warm up after a day outside in the cold crisp air!

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Of course, there is also Thanksgiving, a day where we can reflect on what we have been most thankful for that year! Now I am living in England where it isn’t normal to celebrate Thanksgiving, but I love the thought of acknowledging what you are thankful for that year and what you are looking forward to (plus the good food!!!!!).

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The layers…So I’m a girl that whatever the time of year, I will be wearing multiple layers, 2 strap tops plus a t-shirt. But at this time of year, it starts becoming socially acceptable to wear these multiple layers and I suddenly become fashionable!

Autumn also means that it’ll soon be winter and that means Christmas! A time of year we can reflect on the birth of Jesus and what that means in your personal lives!

So what is your favourite thing(s) about autumn? Let me know in the comments!

~ Autumn shows how beautiful it is to let go! – Anonymous ~