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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 ~

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!!!!!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 ~

Why the blue life…

Since documentaries such as Blue Planet have come on to our screens, people are more and more interested in the ocean and the life that is found there. However, on my search for finding a blog that made marine biology and everything ocean related accessible, hasn’t worked.

This is why I’m starting this page called the blue life… I am going to attempt to make everything to do with the oceans from sharks to recycling to my personal experiences readible for the average person who does not have a bachelors in marine biology.

The importance of this? Everything is connected and if we don’t take care of the oceans then we will lose, what is in my opinion, the most stunning place on our planet.  Those of you who know me, know that when I talk about anything ocean related I start glowing and come alive! And I would love to see that this page will excite people and open peoples eyes to whats out there and to figure out the facts from fiction.

Let me know what you would like to know or have any ideas? Place your ideas in the comments section or send me a private message! Will love to hear from you!!!

– There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize what you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean – Dave Barry

Living with a hidden (not so hidden) illness…

So some of you are aware that I have been fighting fibroids for the best part of 6ish years (that I am aware of). It is far from easy and I feel like it isn’t as well known an illness as it should be! So here is my story and how I am living with it!

So around 6 years ago I realized that my periods were getting more and more painful and lasting longer…Not ideal at all! Eventually, I said to my parents that I need to see a doctor. And so off we went. One of the members of my dad’s church at that point kindly agreed to see me and ran so many different tests to see what was wrong. A couple days later I came back to get the results. Suspected fibroids…so I needed to go a couple doors down and get a scan done. This is where it was confirmed that I had multiple fibroids in my womb…and they were large!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue my treatment with them, and so I went back to the NHS where I needed to be rescanned and all the tests had to be done again…by the time that all the results had come back, I knew they had grown. I started to look pregnant…So they decided to scan again…this was almost a year after the initial scans had been done and this time they were 30x30cm and there were 2 main tumors. This explained why I looked pregnant and couldn’t lose weight. Unfortunately,  it affected my everyday life, at this point, I was in my second year of university, about to start my last year. Just walking up the stairs was difficult and I would lose breath…let alone having 12 hour practicals where I had to clamber over rocks and try and hold my balance. The issue was, was that because the fibroids were so large, they pushed everything to a different place. This meant that my intestines were pushed up, which in turn meant that my lungs were squashed.

That time of my life was incredibly hard. My last year of my undergrad was easily one of the worst years of my life. My boyfriend (Jamie) had to basically move in with me to help me for days on end as I could barely get out of bed without collapsing and I just had no energy. I had other serious health scares in that last year too, but somehow I managed to finish and got my degree! However, that was not the end of the story for my fibroids. They kept growing and growing and the pain on my spine was becoming unbearable. They were so large that they were actually pushing my spine outwards…as you can imagine, everything hurt then…even lying down!

Eventually, I got in contact with a specialist in fibroid care and he took my case seriously and was shocked to see such a young person going through this. I was only 20 when it was finally diagnosed. He suggested that I go on hormone therapy as the tumors were too large to operate on unless I wanted a hysterectomy, which I really didn’t. So for 6 months, I was taking daily hormones to try and shrink it, and it did! At the end, one of my fibroids had almost completely vanished and the other was down to 10x15cm. A HUGE improvement! However, that doctor went away on a sabbatical, and here I am a year later and still haven’t heard anything new. So my fibroids have grown again and now I’m chasing the doctors to hear what my next step is. So here I am, still waiting…

IMG_8380IMG_0034IMG_0218IMG_4914

I know my situation is a weird one, as I am a caucasian girl in her early 20s and I have fibroids that are normally only seen in African women…It is almost unheard of here in western Europe to have fibroids this large and this fast growing. What I do know is that my fibroids are caused by a hormone imbalance, I make too much estrogen…So even though surgery is imminent for recovery, unless I stay on low-grade hormone tablets for long-term periods, they will come back and it will happen fast.

One thing that has bothered me the most through all this is that when you’re going to get ultrasounds done to see where the fibroids are and how large they are, they do put you in the same area as expecting mothers. Now most of the time that is not a big issue. However, in my case, I have been told that I might never be able to have kids. That was devastating news for me and then being in a room with expecting mothers is a bit of a kick in the stomach! Another thing that has bothered me a lot is people coming up to me asking me how far along am I…I really want to have kids of my own, but I also know that that might not happen for me, so it hurts…

But through all of this you have to keep a smile on your face, otherwise, the days will become dark and you lose hope! Know someone who is going through this? Give them a huge hug and just be there for them! It’s not easy!

Have any of you experienced the same thing? Know of any treatments? Want to know anything in particular? Write a comment or message me privately!! Would love to hear from you all!!

For now… the adventure continues!

 

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.

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…

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!!!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.