Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Settling Back in Saint-Jean-de-Védas

Although I didn't arrange the transportation until a week out, I knew while in Venice and Munich that I'd soon be headed back to Montpellier. And despite this prior knowledge, it still felt a bit surreal to arrive at Gare St. Roch and step out into the sunny, familiar streets—like I'd hacked time and jumped back to a prior chapter in life.

A fifteen-minute car ride later and we were back in Saint-Jean-de-Védas at the Rius residence, where I felt right at home.

French Eats

Damien's mom made paella on my second or third day—what luck!


That first weekend she also made beignets à la citrouille—her mom's recipe—with chocolat chaud:

• • •

Monday, April 10, 2017

Moment Catching in Montpellier

After an early morning train from Strasbourg, I arrived in Montpellier on Thursday, March 30, where Damien picked me up and took me to his parents' house in a nearby suburb. On Friday afternoon I took the tram into Montpellier to sketch at Parc du Peyrou for the weekend's Moment Catchers challenge.



It was a special sketching session for me because it's here where I painted my very first on-location watercolor last September, dabbing at colors and not knowing what I was doing. Below are my watercolors and the painting:

Watercolors: September 2016

• • •

[Photos] Maxing* in Munich

*Maxing = Hanging out with Max

A few days before my train to Munich, my friend Max—with whom I'd be staying—found out he'd have to work in Frankfurt during the week, and thus would not be at home when I arrived. He gave me directions to his apartment, made sure a roommate would be home to let me in, and welcomed me warmly with this awesome spread:

Umbrella, apple, towel, warm socks, tram map, cloth bag, key, handwritten welcome note with info + tips, and snail mail sent to me via Max. Amazing!
He also made and shared with me a Google map where he'd marked over 30 places, with his comments on each. Incredible!

One of the places he recommended was a nearby cemetery, where locals often go for a stroll or to sit in peace on the benches:


• • •

Sunday, April 2, 2017

I asked 44 pilgrims what they learned from walking the Camino de Santiago. Here's what they wrote:

For a month in the fall of 2014 I walked the camino francés of the Camino de Santiago—a pilgrimage across Spain.

Partway through the journey, I began keeping a running list in my mind of small lessons I was learning, which made their way onto a page in my journal and eventually became this reflection.


At some point along the journey, I decided at the end I'd ask other pilgrims what they had learned as well. After finishing, I bought a little notebook from a souvenir shop, grabbed a pen, and headed to the line of pilgrims waiting to get their certificate of completion in Santiago de Compostela. 

(This is the short version of how it went down, by the way. Here's where you can read a behind-the-scenes look at what was running through my head, and how the project almost didn't happen!)


• • •

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I Puked, I Sketched, and Then One Man in Munich Changed My Day

Very early this morning, between the hours of midnight and one, I was kneeling over the toilet in my friend's apartment in Munich (he, out of town for work; his roommates, asleep), throwing up the day's consumptions. Another bug, something I ate, I have no idea.

Regardless of the cause, I spent most of today lounging in bed. I watched 500 Days of Summer on Netflix and a writing seminar which had been on my list for a while. I left the apartment briefly around noon, to buy ginger ale from the grocery store across the street, and picked up a pretzel from the bakery too—because goddamnit these are limited days in Munich!

Around 3 p.m. I decided to leave the apartment and walk around for a bit. My stomach didn't feel totally at ease, but I wasn't about to hurl either, and I couldn't bare to spend any more of this sunny day indoors. I walked to the center and through a food market, where I sat down on an open seat and pulled out my sketchbook.

• • •

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dining in Dozza

I had two Saturdays—my days off—while working on the farm near Dozza. I was also on my own for lunch, so both weeks I went into town to dine.

Dozza was very close to the farm—you really just walk up the grass hill, then five minutes down a straight road you enter the town through an archway. There are two parallel streets about two blocks long, with the castle at the other end, and that’s the old center.

The walls in Dozza are covered in over a hundred paintings by contemporary artists, the oldest date I saw was perhaps in the '70s.


Every two years there’s a festival in Dozza where artists are invited to paint in the town. So it's basically a free outdoor art museum!

• • •

Monday, March 20, 2017

Two-week HelpX Farm Stay in Dozza


Victoria picked me up from the small train station in Imola, and then we were off to the farm. Once I got settled in, my first task was to organize the tupperware drawer. "Do it however you want," she told me, "just as long as everything fits." Yes!

On the first evening, I asked Victoria what time I should get up in the morning.

“The girls are up eating breakfast at 6:45, 7” she said.

Seeing the look of horror on my face, she then added "but... you could get up… quarter past, or..., um, 7:30, yes, I think that would work if you’re up by 7:30.”
• • •

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Barfing in Bologna

On Wednesday, February 22 I arrived in Bologna, from Firenze.

Bologna Italy map

Wednesday

On my first evening I had an hour or two before dark, so I left to do some wander walking, map in hand. I took note of some markers along the way, so I could easily find my way back: "WIND" store under the arches. Got it.

Except when I took a few turns to come back a different way than I’d headed out, I quickly got turned around. Why? Because, as I quickly learned those first hours in Bologna, practically all the sidewalks are covered in arches! (Plus WIND is a chain store all over.) Oh, and also my map disappeared—that was the clincher. I really don’t know what happened to it.


I eventually found my way back before it was too dark, only stopping to ask someone the direction of the train station. I’d reasoned that worst case scenario, I go to the train station, because from there I could easily walk the 5 minutes to the hostel, as I’d done a few hours earlier. 

My direction intuition won again that evening, and I didn’t have to go all the way back to the train station! I got another map from a different hostel worker the next morning, and later in the trip painted this postcard for myself to remember Bologna and its covered walkways:

Bologna watercolor postcard
• • •

Moments in Firenze

I've only shown you photos of my time in Firenze, so here are some moments that took place during that week (February 15-22).

Followed on Arrival

After boarding the train to leave Roma, I double checked with the couple on my left—asking in my default Spanish thinking they were Italian—which direction the train would be leaving (to make sure I wasn’t sitting backwards the whole way, while I had a selection of seating).

They answered in Spanish, and it turns out they were from South America. We perhaps briefly chatted a bit more, but then it was a nice, quiet train ride to Firenze. When we were one stop from the last, called “Firenze [something or other],” I wasn’t sure if that was my stop or not, so I asked the same couple. They didn’t know, so I checked with an Italian woman in the next row who told me my stop was the next one, the last one.

When I returned to my seat, that couple asked me if I had lodging in Firenze. “Yes…” I said, and told them I’d booked a hostel. They asked the price, and I told them roughly how much per night for a shared dorm room. Then they told me they hadn’t booked anything yet, they were just showing up.

“Can you show us where it is?” asked the guy. I said yes before I realized what I’d agreed to. “It’s a 15-minute walk,” I told them, hoping they’d think it was too far. Then we didn’t talk for the remaining minutes of the ride. Hmm, maybe that’s not what I’d agreed to after all, I thought. The train stopped and I got off before them, then was like—dang, do I have to wait for them?
• • •

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Resolutions Checkpoint 2017: February


Wow, and here we are, halfway through March already. I was in Bologna the last week of February with limited Wi-Fi, then spent the past two weeks on a small farm near Dozza—which also had hardly any internet.

This was no problem, as it was great to unplug—though what really kept me from blogging was the time! I’ll be playing catch up soon, including my typical day on the farm, but first an overdue check-in with my resolutions and action items for February.

Spoiler alert: I nearly didn’t complete anything!

• • •

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

[Photos] Freezing in Firenze

I've spent the past week in Firenze (Florence), wander walking and observing per usual.


So I wasn't really freezing, but in the shade and in the mornings/evenings, it was quite chilly. Plus, two days there was this Argentine guy in my room who would always open the window because he "was hot"... but it was freezing in our room!

Anyway, I survived and I'll be looking to buy a hat here in Bologna. Meanwhile, here's some of what I saw in Firenze:



I really liked the designs on the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, and you'll see below that I used this section as inspiration for a painting one day.


• • •

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The 100 Day Project Ideas

What could you do with 100 days of making?

That's the question asked by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent over at #The100DayProject. (If this is the first you're hearing of The 100 Day Project, pop on over to The Great Discontent and check out this page first.)

The main takeaway is that you give yourself a short action to do every day for 100 days. Although there are now some very beautiful creations on Instagram, it's not at all about the result. This is the core of the project, which I cannot stress enough: It's all about the process—the making—not what's made.

Last fall when I wanted to do my own 100 Day Project, I was looking for a list of all the projects that have been done—but searching the hashtag on Instagram had me scrolling and scrolling, yet still only seeing the most recent projects. On The Great Discontent you have to read through old newsletters to see some featured past projects... so in the end I decided to make what I'd been looking for: a huge list of #The100DayProject projects.

I hope it helps to spark ideas for your very own project!

And if you know about a #The100DayProject project that's not on this list, I would be so grateful if you'd let me know via comment or tweet (@RebeWithaClause) so I can add it. Thank you!

The 100 Day Project ideas #The100DayProject

#The100DayProject Projects (A-Z)

#100DaysofAbandonedBikes
100 Days of Abandoned Bikes #The100DayProject

#100DaysofAnimatedPaperPack
#100DaysofAnimatedPaperPack #The100DayProject


#100DaysofAwareness
#100DaysofAwareness #The100DayProject

• • •

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hostel Night of Hell

I came to Rome with a cold, and wasn't very impressed with the hostel I'd booked. You see, I went to the main building to check in, where someone's at reception 24 hours a day, and turns out my room was in another building just around the corner. But that's common enough, no problem.

So, key and keycard in hand, I get to this other apartment building, go up to the second floor, and inside the unit discover the "common room" (kitchen?) has a fridge, an electric kettle, and a sink that I discovered hiding in a closet. (No soap.) Also, the bathroom door off of this room did not open, and no one was inside. (aka if the bathroom in your dorm room was in use and you really had to go, there was nowhere else to go.)

So I did some grocery shopping under the worst-case-scenario option that there was nowhere to cook. Later on I realized we can call the reception desk from this phone in the old reception area in my building, so I do so and ask "Where is the kitchen?" to the woman who picked up on the other end.

She says it's down on the first floor. (Note: This isn't connected or anything, you leave the apartment, go in the building's stairwell, and enter another apartment.) I had checked the first floor earlier, to see if there were another part of this hostel down there, but all I could see were signs for "Melissa's Guesthouse" on one door (and "Private" signs on the other two).

So I responded, "You mean the door that says 'Melissa's Guesthouse'?"

"Yes, that's it."

• • •

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Following the Flow and Letting Go on the Path of Gods

When Luca, one of the hostel staff answered my "Can you go hiking on the mountains" with "You mean, the volcano Mount Vesuvius?" (whoops), I followed up with: 

"Well, are there any cool parks in Napoli?"

Laughter followed.

Turns out, Napoli is Italy's most densely populated major city (Wikipedia). There's a reason why I wasn't spotting any green from the 360-degrees lookout point that afternoon.

Then he asked if I liked hiking and that sort of thing. Yes, yes I do.

He proceeded to tell me about the nearby Amalfi Coast, which is where one could go hiking on the famous "Path of the Gods" (Italian: Sentiero degli Dei).


It was the first I'd ever heard of the walk, but I was sold! After several grey days with scattered drizzles, Tuesday was going to be gorgeously sunny. And although it would be my last full day in Napoli, I decided to do the hike then.

Here are the directions I was going from: Go to the train station. Take the train to Sorrento (same train I'd taken to Pompeii, but all the way to the final stop). Then take a bus to Amalfi. From there, take another bus to Bomerano, where the 4-hour hike begins. Sabrina (another staff member) then printed this PDF for me, which was super helpful once I was in Bomerano.

Normally I like to know a bit more. Questions that popped up in my head were not limited to: Where is the bus in relation to the Sorrento train station? How often do the buses leave? How much do they cost? How long is the ride? Where does the bus drop you off in Bomerano? How do I get from the end of the hike back to Sorrento? What time does the last train leave? What time is the last bus? Etc. Etc.

But the day ended up being an exercise in going with the flow and accepting what is, as I'm continually reminded by my Daily Calm meditations. I trusted that I would figure everything out.
• • •

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pompeii

This past Sunday I visited Pompeii, an ancient Roman town that was buried under volcanic ash in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted.


It happened to be the first Sunday of the month, which meant museums in Napoli—including Pompeii—were free. (Saved me from a 13-euro entrance ticket!)

I've heard that you haven't fully experienced Pompeii unless you visit both Pompeii (the remains of the city) and the National Archeology Museum of Naples (which houses the artifacts that have been found in Pompeii). Well, if that's the case, then I have an incomplete experience of Pompeii—as I never made it to the archeology museum.

But what I did experience were five hours of walking around this ancient city (and still not getting to all the sections—there's a lot of ground to cover!).


It was amazing how organized the Romans were. As you can see below (and in many photos to follow), sidewalks were raised so that people had an easier time avoiding water when it rained and animal droppings from the road.
• • •

Monday, February 6, 2017

Napoli, Italy

When I met with my Spanish friend Esther last Monday in Madrid and told her I'd be heading to Napoli (Italian for "Naples"—feels right to call the city by its name in its own language) that Thursday, she immediately told me that Napoli is such an ugly, dirty city. She'd spent just a day there once, and really didn't like it. This didn't phase me one bit, as now every cool thing I'd discover would be that much more beautiful and wonderful—because I'd find it in this supposedly "dirty" city.

I didn't do any research before I bought the ticket and flew to Napoli, so expectations were nonexistent (and thus, quickly surpassed).

My first 20 minutes in Napoli revealed some of the less-flattering aspects of the city. On my bus ride from the Napoli airport to the port, I'm fairly certain I witnessed a small drug sale and subsequent drug bust (or at least altercation) outside the train station, from my bus window.

For the second half of this short bus ride, I was fascinated with the traffic and driving—which is both insane and entertaining. In the center it's often gridlocked, but slowly moving. Cars side-by-side in different lanes are scarily close to one another—a mere inch or two. Then when people double-park on the side of the road, everyone's got to maneuver around. Not to mention the mopeds going in and out, all over.

Not long after we passed the train station, I heard an ambulance. The siren got louder and louder, it had to be right by us. It was two cars behind our bus, but again: gridlock. So everyone's gridlocked and this ambulance is trying to get down the street. No one can pull over to the side, because the side of the road is full of parked cars, not an inch to spare.

When exploring on foot later that day, I quickly learned that at pedestrian crosswalks (without lights) you simply must start walking into oncoming traffic (quickly) and trust that vehicles will slow down enough not to hit you. Otherwise you'll be standing at the side of the road all day waiting to cross. If you've just started to cross a one-way, multiple-lane street, cars will continue to drive down the other side of the street. Basically if you're not standing directly in front of a car, all the other traffic will continue to move as long as it can. So look carefully as a pedestrian, but if you wait for the cars to stop they never will.

Pizza

Our hostel recommended the two best pizza places in town, which also happen to be two of the cheapest.

The first two days I got pizza for lunch at Di Matteo, which costs a mere 1.50 euros each and is served on a piece of paper, folded into fourths. (In the below pic, I'd unfolded half.)


It was good, and tasted unlike any pizza I've ever eaten. Here's what the front of the restaurant looks like:
• • •

Sunday, February 5, 2017

First Stop: Back to Madrid

On Tuesday, January 23 I was up early, and around 12:30 my mom picked me up and took me to the bus stop for my 1:20 bus to Chicago. Three hours later I was at O'hare, and painted with my watercolors while waiting in the terminal for my 7:20 flight.


I didn't sleep a wink on the 7-hour flight, got to Dublin around 8 a.m. local time (~2 a.m. Wisconsin time) feeling exhausted as ever, and had seven hours to wait before my connecting flight to Madrid at four in the afternoon. The hours felt just as long as they sound, and I progressively felt more and more like a zombie.

I got into Madrid around 7:30 p.m. Madrid time (1:30 p.m. Wisconsin time, the following day), took the metro to Gregorio's work (to pick up the apartment keys), had a caña there with one of his friends who works in the building, then he ordered a pizza, we ate, and I got to the apartment close to 11:30 p.m., I think. I had been awake for well over 35 hours.

Normally it takes me a few days to totally get over jetlag when I go from the states to Europe, but this extra layover really did one on my sleeping schedule. For several days I was staying up until 4 or 5 a.m., and then sleeping in way past noon. One day I woke up at 10 and thought I was finally getting over it, then the very next day I slept past noon.

• • •

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Resolutions Checkpoint 2017: January

Resolutions Checkpoint January 2017 - Rebe With a Clause

January is over! Time to look back at the resolutions I set a month ago and then get an action plan in place for February.

January Progress

I didn't set January focus items for each resolution, so here's a general evaluation of each:

1. Leap

I only felt as though I took one leap this month, and that was testing out my 5 in 5 Connection Challenge on two strangers at a cafe—well, the only cafe—in my hometown. I will write about this in detail soon, but I wanted to try it on more than two people before I share it.

Due to the original purpose of the challenge (briefly: to connect with fellow Americans I wouldn't normally talk with, inspired by the election), traveling doesn't seem the place for it (I usually have lots in common with travelers)—though I can certainly give it a shot when I share a language with someone.

2. Stretch/yoga/pilates

Before I took off, I researched a few good pilates moves for spinal fusion, made a quick one-page reminder with some images and printed it off to bring along. How many times have I done pilates in Madrid? Zero. I did sit and stretch while I had a half an hour to wait in Sol the other night, and did a quick nighttime yoga in bed last night, but I have a ways to go to make this one a daily practice.

At the moment, though, my only must-do daily is my journal writing (new 100 days project). I've had four things that I want to do each day—write, read, meditate, stretch/pilates—but when I tried tracking them earlier in the month I'd never hit all four (+ walking). I think I need to focus on just one daily thing until it's automatic, or give in and start a routine that incorporates them all. I've been excited not to have a routine on these travels, though.

3. Unplug/be outside

While sick earlier in the month I watched so much Parenthood on Netflix, and during the month felt like Twitter was getting the best of me. Here's my month report from Rescue Time, which feels yucky and scary to see all at once (182 hours!?, which includes 19 hours on Twitter!)—but this is why I'm tracking it:



At least I'll have some hard data to compare with in the coming months.

Also:

  • Values: I'll share a quick story from today. I was eating my lunch outside by Madrid's Public Art Museum, watching the taxis all lined up. Passengers get in the taxi at the front of the line, and then all the taxis roll forward a spot when it takes off. I was curious how long they'd all wait before getting a passenger (there were about 7-8 taxis lined up at the curb). During the whole time I was watching, only four taxis left. While watching, I noticed each taxi had a letter painted on the side, in the rear. Some said "V," a few said "X," but another said "J." What could that possibly mean? I thought about it some, considered asking a taxi driver, then just continued thinking. When I finished eating and got up to walk away, I thought to myself: You want to explore your curiosities, right? So ask! This is a great chance to be curious! So I went up to one of the taxi drivers who was standing on the sidewalk smoking and asked him what the letters meant. Any guesses?
    It's the day of the week that the taxi is not in service. So, if you see one parked on the side of the street with a "V" (viernes) and it's Friday, you know the taxi is not in service. After the man told me this, it actually rung a bell—I'm pretty sure Gregorio has told me this fact before and I'd forgotten. The man was very nice about it, found it amusing that I asked, and was happy to feed my curiosity. Anyway, I wanted to illustrate that by highlighting and deciding the directions I want to move towards via my personal compass, it is resulting in changes in my actions, however small they may be.
  • Meditate: January was much more sporadic than December; below is a screenshot of January in Calm. 

(A screenshot which, by the way, I'm lucky to have gotten at all. As of early January my power button stopped working on my poor old iPhone 4—as in, it is basically stuck down, no spring—yet that's one of the two buttons you must press for a screenshot. Got it on the second try this time! But I'll certainly be on the hunt for a used phone in the states come May, maybe an iPhone 5...)

February Focus

1. Leap
  • 5 in 5 Connection Challenge with 10 people
  • Contact five schools about using Alexandra Franzen's "Email Is Wonderful" PDF. (<<< Speaking of, have I mentioned yet how happy I am that this lady has come into my life? Her philosophy and writing is such a match with my life outlook! So inspirational and uplifting.)

2. Stretch/yoga/pilates
  • Make stretching tracker in bullet journal
  • Stretch/pilates 5x/week

3. Unplug/be outside
  • 50% online time - reference and learning
  • Make meditation tracker in bullet journal
  • Read >30 min. daily

How are you coming on your resolutions? What's one thing you can do in February that will get you closer to where you want to be?
• • •

Saturday, January 21, 2017

What's in My Backpack

At this time on Monday I'll be on a bus to Chicago with a backpack and purse. Then it'll be a flight to Dublin, 8-hr layover, and then a 3-hr flight to Madrid where I'll probably crash for a week before I go elsewhere.

Here's what I'll be bringing for 3-4 months of living out of a backpack:

• • •

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Contemplation on a Debit Card Transaction

The other day I had a little start while going through my recent credit and debit card transactions to make sure all was up to date on YNAB.

Context: I only use my two debit cards (Charles Schwab Investor and Capital One 360) for cash withdrawal, because they have no foreign transaction fees. I use my Capital One Venture credit card—as one would a debit card—for all other purchases, as it also has no foreign transaction fees (+ its points pay for free travel every couple of years). Point being that my debit cards haven't been used since I last took cash out in France/Spain this fall.

So when I saw a $10.44 charge dated January 1 on my debit card for a bar in town, I was really confused.

I wasn't even here on January 1, I was two and a half hours north with family.

Plus, I'd never used this debit card at that bar, because I only use my credit card for purchases.

I immediately disputed the transaction online—but man, what a mystery.

• • •

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Impermanence of Words

I've been thinking a lot lately about the impermanence of words.

When I was in sixth grade, we had to make a poetry collection in language arts.

For a little age context, here was the cover of my binder:


(This was right around the time when cell phones were coming out, and Verizon had that "free at last!" commercial.)

Take a look at one poem in this collection, "Tangled Feelings":

• • •

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sunday evening flag patch sewing project

After I ordered my backpack last summer (goodbye Jansport from college!), I thought it would be cool to display on it flag patches of the countries where I've lived. Conversation starters are always helpful!

But I didn't want them sewn permanently on the backpack; there are places and times where you don't want to stand out as a traveler.

My parents got me the patches for Christmas (thanks mom and dad!) and I had some scrap fabric lying around from a project years ago (St. Vinnies $1 fabric). I'd wanted a solid color fabric, but you use what you have, right?


• • •

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Facebook-free: Liz Pelton

Facebook-free Project - Liz Pelton

My recent reconnection with Emily quickly turned into another beautiful high school reconnection with Liz Pelton—who also happens to be Facebook-free. Liz left Facebook a year before I did, meaning she's been facebookless for three years, and I'm really excited to add her perspective to this project! Take it away, Liz:

The basics:

Age: 27

Location: Madison, WI

Interests: Traveling, yoga, cooking, weaving, reading, writing, hiking with my absurdly adorable beagle Ramona

Length of time with Facebook account: 7 years

Amount of time since leaving Facebook: Almost 3 years
• • •

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

Stuck in Bed, but Letting Go

I've been sick in bed since Thursday, which makes today the fifth day here.

I cringe at what a waste these days seem—no reading, no meditating, no stretching, no writing—but my body needs these days to heal.

I cancelled four various plans over the weekend—two dinners with different groups, which had been planned over a month out to be sure we'd see each other before I left the country again; a day helping grandma take down Christmas decorations; and a Skype call with a new online friend.

It was frustrating to watch it all slip away in a snap, but there was no other option. I then had to let go and accept what was, instead of holding on to what was supposed to be.

My biggest worry in the thick of it was that the my cold would turn into an ear infection, which often happens with me (the most recent being July). I'm not afraid of the potential pain, but more so of the fact that I'm currently uninsured in the USA. (Kind of a long story.) Fingers are still crossed that my ears will remain unharmed. (I'm really pushing the ginger, Cathleen—thank you.)

Also as of Thursday, I've been without phone service. Chatting with my company online told me it's either the phone or the sim, I would need to take it into a store to find out which. If it's a problem with the sim, they told me, then I'd have to buy a new one. (What?!) And if it's a problem with the phone... yeah. So with only two weeks left here, I'll probably just continue without any service. That also means I probably won't drive anywhere, because driving in the winter in Wisconsin without a phone is not a smart move.

But among all of these frustrations, I let the gratitude seep in.

Grateful to be sick with a warm roof over my head, soup in the cupboards, and parents who bought ginger and lemons for me at the grocery store.

Grateful that I'd had any plans with friends in the first place.

Grateful to still participate—albeit a day late, from bed—in Candace Rose Rardon's Moment Catcher's Project (first Saturday of each month).


In times of stress or frustration, it always helps me to take a step back and turn my attention to gratitude.
• • •

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Homemade Postcard Binder Book

In 2009 I read this entertaining Everywhereist post (which I just fished up now—super impressed with my memory there) about what to do if you lose/break your camera while traveling. Camera or not, I really loved Geraldine's second piece of advice: to buy a postcard, write memories from the day, and then mail it to yourself as a memorable souvenir. I often send postcards when traveling, but after reading that post I started to buy a postcard for myself as well.

I'd write a quick day's summary on the back, date it, but then keep it. Over the years I've collected many little postcard bags of these self-postcards, stored in various places in my room at my parents' house.

At some point (last year?) I got the idea to make some sort of book with them. But I wanted this to be a simple project—nothing time consuming. Slipping the postcards into sleeves from a photo book/binder would be easy, but I wanted both sides of each postcard to be viewable. I like things in chronological order, and also didn't want to have to rearrange everything if I later found a postcard from an earlier time.

And then the idea came: Binder rings!

The project got added to my "do while home" list for this fall/winter, and now that I have less than three weeks (ahh!) before I take off again, I'm feeling the pressure to finish several projects I won't be able to do on the road.

So I did this one today while listening to a few episodes of Meg's awesome Couragemakers podcast. Here's what I started with: six binder rings that my mom already had, and five years of postcards.

• • •

Monday, January 2, 2017