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 ~

10 Days, 11 States

Doing a road trip in America is a strange experience for a European. You can drive for days and not leave the country! Quite different from where I come from… a state is like a country.

In some states more time was spent than in others: Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and back in the Home state Minnesota.

What was the highlight of my trip? Spending time with family, especially those not often seen. It makes you realize how important connections are, and how special family time is!

The holiday is over, life returns to a sense of normality… the next event to look forward to is Thanksgiving. A moment of reflection on all the things and moments of the past year we can be thankful for. And after that Christmas, thanking God that He came to this world to show us how much He wants us to be with Him. And I get to spend the holiday with my own little family in England. Yay!

Family

This has been some rollercoaster week. The road trip did not end in Memphis (previous post) but went on to Chattanooga.

My wider family is spread across the world. My grandpa used to say that the sun was never setting over the Knopper family. One uncle with all kids in Australia and one uncle with both kids in America. The result of that was that our own family never really saw or had much physical contact with this part of the family. After all, letter writing was never our strong side and phone calls and visits were very sporadic.

Being in America does give the opportunity to reconnect with family here. Not so easy, as I am in Minnesota and the family is now also spread over America. However this road trip was all about connecting with my uncle, who lives near Chattanooga. And that is where my story started…

Unfortunately my uncle is not well, and his son (my oldest cousin) was planning to visit, which happened to coincide with us being there also. I picked him up from the airport, after he graciously sent me a picture of what a grown up cousin looks like… after all, it was more than 40 years ago and I was only a 3 year old when I saw him last…I have some vague memories, but mostly fed by the pictures I stil have from that time. However, it felt like I had just seen him last week! I certainly felt I could talk for hours more, trying to catch up on so many years of life history. I certainly feel sorry for his ears!

The week has flown by, seeing all the places my uncle works at, or spends time at. Tennessee truly is a beautiful area, and seeing Southern University was an experience.

It was also very moving to see the Desmond Doss grave site once more, and be reminded of what it means to stand up for your believes, no matter the cost. At the memorial side is a slogan ‘freedom is not free’ which is so true. There is a cost to everything.

Spending time with family is very special. Treasure it. Time given to us can be very short. Choose wisely, and don’t thread carelessly.

It’s Friday evening, time to sleep and relive some of this weeks memories.

Memphis

Memphis has a couple of interesting memorials…. Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley and Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King lost his life. 2 Icons, 2 very different reasons.
Our day started out with finding Elvis Presley Boulevard… the Boulevard which has the museum and the home of Elvis. Something we only heard about and seen in documentaries and movies. His house was quite small, although the grounds were large. Not at all as I had imagined it. Some rooms a little extravagant but certainly homely and inviting. Not very wheelchair friendly, but mum was parked outside in the carport while we could look in the basement rooms. Below a few pictures, a little impression.

After the Graceland tour and an ice cream we drove to downtown Memphis. Another icon was here in Memphis, but lost his life… others decided he needed to die. Martin Luther King was standing on the balcony in front of his room talking when someone shot him from the opposite building. Suddenly you look with very different eyes to the city. It’s a beautiful museum, dedicated to freedom. You can stand almost immediately below the balcony, see the firehouse and boarding house.. a moment of quiet contemplation. 

2 very different people, but both shaped the world as we know it today. 

A strange day as such… but definitely one to remember and to know I want to come back to Memphis… there is more to explore and see!



4 States in 1 Day

Today was just a very long drive from Missouri, through Arkansas, Tennessee to Mississippi where we are now camped for a couple nights. We sure are a long way from home, as the temperature and even season changed! We left with snowfall in Minnesota and bare trees, to full autumn colours, with here and there a bare tree.

I love autumn colours! I already wrote a whole blog post about that, but lengthening autumn with another week is just fine by me!

Tomorrow…. Graceland/Elvis! Weird how you can be so excited about someone making music so long ago, in a style that’s not even exactly mine… but truth be told, he was the King of Rock and Roll and it’s exciting to go see where he lived and recorded his music! 

More later….


Road Trip

And so we are on our way… as soon as I knew my parents were coming I had booked up the road trip to visit my dads brother. A long way away, in Chattanooga. 

We set off about 3 Friday afternoon with destination a hotel in Independence Missouri. About an hour south of St Paul we saw a massive Cabellas. If you have never been inside you probably don’t know what pulling power that store has for Europeans, who never really see shops where you can buy positively everything to kill and cook animals. My mother had seen a coat in that shop, and our mission was to check if they had her seize on a good colour.

We were admiring the stuffed animals, when my dad realised he was naked…. no phone!!!! I don’t know about you, but without phone these days we feel lost, drowning in a feeling of emptiness without something to hold in your hands… so back we went to retrieve it…

We arrived in Missouri at 1.30am… a little later than anticipated… but on our way!!!! Today the destination is Memphis..therefore… to be continued….

Life…

Sometimes life does not go the way you want it to… this last month has been a prime example of that. Starting it off by breaking my finger 2 days before flying home and topping it off with visa being denied twice and now not being able to fly back and be with my mum and relatives who are flying out there. So yes, this chapter of my year in America came to a close a lot sooner than I thought, but who knows whats in store for me next.

Instead of being easy and straight forward, life served me some serious curve balls. What I have realised though, is that no matter what, we can get through it. No matter how life twists and turns and at that time you can’t see a way out, God is always there with his plan…Do I know that plan yet? No. But what I do know is that I will use these next couple of months spending quality time with friends and seeing more of Europe…Where to first…

On to the next unplanned adventure…

Snow

I have been silent on here, mostly because life just got in the way of taking time to write. Maybe that’s a good thing, to not be so connected to social media. It sure is not intentional to not keep you updated with our adventures.

Life can sometimes be so fast… You live from one day to the next, without taking time to breath… well, it’s Sabbath again, and taking time to breath is part of that plan of rest.

Geert had been following the weather updates and warned me it may snow on Friday…think he was secretly hoping it would start while he was still here, but sadly he had to leave to go back home to the UK.  Me? I am totally not ready for this colder weather. Only last week I was walking along the river with Geert in a t-shirt… now you need a jacket! It’s not the kind of snow that sticks to the ground… but the wet, slushy one. It sure does look pretty when it settles for a moment… but it quickly turned to wet, not so pretty slush… am sure all the pretty trees are now going to be bear… so I attach at least a few pictures from our sightseeing trip last Friday, chasing the colourful leaves…

So … Sabbath… rest…. the snowfall is inviting me to just stay in and to do just that…. rest…. have a good one!

Being Thankful

So the last week has been an interesting one for me…

After mum got sick on our camping trip, we came back home and I already started feeling a bit funny but thought nothing of it and pushed through. A couple days of doing my masters later, and it came to the time that mum had to leave for Taiwan for work for a couple days.

So dad and I made the most of it and went to the Renaissance Festival here in Minnesota. It is an interesting place to go to if you ever get the chance!! It was a true immersive experience with all different types of people…mermaids…knights…wizards…fairies…just about everything! Dad enjoyed his turkey leg for close to an hour…it was that big! But the longer the day went on, the worse I was feeling. That evening when we came home I suddenly felt really dizzy…and yep you guessed it…I managed to get whatever mum had…fever…lightheaded…nausea…the lot! Not great when your dad is about to leave too and you’d be alone.

The next day we had planned to go to church, but due to me not being well, we had to settle with watching it online. It was a blessing to watch and still be able to worship with dad before he left. When it came to the time for dad to leave, I had to fight back tears! I wouldn’t see my dad again for around 3 weeks (when I head back to the UK for a little bit) and even though he does my head in sometimes (a lot!) I still love him to bits! But God really does know how to make a situation better. Whilst in the lift going back up to the apartment after dad had left and I was on the verge of tears…a lovely couple with their dog joined me in the lift and they were super chatty and friendly and managed to cheer me up!

So fast forward 4 days and I am finally feeling a bit better but this week has just been focusing on my health and my masters. The end is in sight!!!! So last night I celebrated by relaxing and watching the Convoy of Hope concert. It featured so many christian artists that I have always wanted to see live! I enjoyed it so much and it really brought my spirits back up! They managed to raise over $500,000 in one evening for hurricane Harvey victims.

Watching that concert and hearing stories of people who had lost everything, made me feel awful. 2 weeks prior when we came back from Costa Rica I had just been the worst. My camera (and for those who know me…my camera is my life!) had completely died! After being caught in that rainstorm it had been apparently damaged so badly that the power board had been fried. In all honesty, I felt like my life had stopped. My camera was my all…And here I was hearing the stories of people who had even lost loved ones. It was safe to say that I vowed to myself to stop being a spoilt brat and to be thankful for something every day! I did get a new camera though! Thank goodness for amazon!!

Today I am thankful for my health…that is not always a given and there are still plenty of things wrong with me…but right now my health is improving and I can get on with my day to day things.

On to the next adventure!!!!

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