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!” ~

 

 

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

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….

Birthday

Today was my birthday…I always pretend I don’t really care about birthdays, but deep down I do… after all, who does not appreciate the fact some one thinks of them specifically on this day,..

When I woke up, my daughter had already wished me a happy birthday…. it warmed my heart.. however, my husband was quiet… maybe he forgot? He called me in quick succession just as I was getting ready to go to work, so I called them back from my car… such great invention… FaceTime… it truly makes the world smaller. They sang for me… yep… feeling like a birthday girl alright! Shame you are no longer home, my husband said… your present is under your bed…. nooooooo…. now I had to wait till the end of the day!!

Finally I got home, and quickly checked under the bed…. a bag!! My husband had visited me in the US some weeks before and has managed to surprise me! From my favourite Store!! Lovely cards and a lovely sweater…. and my daughter bought me a gnome… those Norwegian ones I love so much….

I am far away from home… but I feel very special indeed!

Thank you!