There Is A First For Everything

20160429_105909

Well, as you can see from the above photo, my trip has had an unexpected stop: the doctor’s office. I thought I could push through not feeling well, and travel on, but in the end, our bodies have the perfect way of letting us know when it is time to rest, and mine has done just that.

It all started last Sunday as my husband and I were in Verona, Italy. We made a stop there on the way to Venice specifically to see Juliet’s balcony (supposedly the balcony and home of Shakespeare’s tragic heroine Juliet Capulet, of Romeo and Juliet), and to put a good word in for my friend, Terri, who deserves to meet her own true love. You see, legend has it that if you leave Juliet a note under her balcony that she will grant a lucky spell on your love life wishes. I have already found my own true love, my husband Erik, but I definitely want to see my friend find her own happiness in love very soon, so I thought why not give it a shot for her? I will keep you posted on how that goes……

20160424_14085520160424_141600 (1)

(Juliet’s balcony in Verona, Italy and my note to Juliet) 😉

Anyway, as I was caught up in the romance of it all, I also started to feel feverish. You know the feeling….you can’t get warm, your entire body starts to ache, and you just have the overall feeling that something is not right. However, I pushed on. After all, we had Venice to get to, and I had never been there before, so I was damned if I was going to let myself get sick (as if we have a choice, right?!)….also, who gets sick in VENICE??!!!!

By the time we arrive in Venice a couple hours after the stop to Verona, I am running a very high fever and my throat is starting to hurt. So, instead of a romantic first night in this beautiful and romantic city, I found myself laying on the couch of our rented airbnb apartment, dosing in and out while my husband enjoyed a nice glass of red alone. NOT how I pictured arriving in Venice, but nonetheless, I WAS in Venice! “Tomorrow”, I thought, “I will be better”. I pushed on.

The next 3 days in Venice were magical. The city is everything and more that you hear it is…..even when you feel like shit. Which I did. I smiled through it though, wandering the streets hand in hand with Erik, enjoying a gondola ride, and visiting the museums, all the while knowing I was getting sicker and sicker. I pushed on.

20160425_184951

20160425_183828

20160425_183727

(beautiful Venice)

Next stop on our European adventure was Milan, Italy. My fever had been gone for a couple days, but my throat was not giving up its fight. I also had never been to Milan before, so I knew I was not going to give in to my illness and get some much needed rest, so I bought some throat lozenges, ate them like candy, and I pushed on. Erik and I enjoyed seeing the sights, and had a wonderful dinner we will never forget with some fabulous Italian red wine. So delicious! One of those dinners where everything comes together just right with the ambiance, the food, etc., and of course, I was with my love. I almost forgot I didn’t feel well…for a moment at least……I pushed on.

20160427_171027

(the beautiful Duomo of Milan, or “white cathedral)

20160427_165808

(I found this piece of art in Milan, and although my husband and I could not figure out why it was in that spot, I knew exactly what it stood for to me at that moment…that’s right….screw you illness!!!….) 😉

Yesterday we headed back “home” to Holland. We drove from Italy back to the airport in Geneva, where our little side trip from spending time with family in Holland had began a week prior. As we made our way through Italy, and then France, we enjoyed lunch in a quaint, fairy tale like town, called Chamonix. This is where the famous Mont Blanc is located. Mont Blanc, or “white mountain” is the highest mountain in the Alps, and the highest mountain in western Europe.  It is quite a sight to see for sure! The entire Alps area is stunning and a true marvel of Mother Nature. During this trek back to the airport, my throat was finally starting to feel a bit better, but I started to have some congestion. I now had a cough, but again, I pushed on. I thought for sure I was coming to the end of me feeling bad, after all, I am usually a very healthy person, so being that I was now 5 days in to not feeling well, I just knew it was about to be over……WRONG!

20160428_131132

(me in front of the Mont Blanc and the Alps, in Chamonix, France.)

By the time we landed at the airport in Amsterdam, I was in a downward spiral of sickness. I could no longer hear out of my right ear, the pressure in my sinuses (not that flying helped with the pressure!) was unbelievable, and I truly thought I might reach my end right then and there. How tragic right? The girl who loves to travel so much, traveled herself right to the grave. Okay, that is a little dramatic (okay A LOT), but at the moment, I really felt THAT bad! I knew I couldn’t push on any longer.

This whole story brings me to the right here, right now……..

My father-in-law was very kind and called his own doctor for me first thing this morning. I had an appointment set for 10:10am. Now, I have never been to a doctor outside the USA, but I knew it was a must for me to continue with our trip, so off the 3 of us go (Erik, my father-in-law, and myself) to the Dutch doctor. As this blog is titled, “There Is A First For Everything”.

Now, you might expect that I would be going to a professional office building, like most of our doctor’s offices are located in the states, but as I found myself walking into what looked like the backyard of a beautiful, traditional Dutch home, I knew this would be quite a different experience. And it was! The doctor’s office was actually in a renovated garage, but you would never have known it (except for the walking in the backyard part…). It was warm and cozy, and very welcoming. The waiting area had everything a US doctor’s office would have, chairs and tables, and magazines, however, it had a beautiful view of the back yard of the home we had just walked passed. Very serene. There was a door in the waiting room that I knew had to lead to the examination room. The doctor opened the door, and instead of wearing a white coat, he was wearing a nice pair of pants and a sweater. He was very welcoming, almost like someone who would welcome you to their home. Erik and I enter the examination room (we weren’t sure if the doctor would speak English or not, so Erik was to be my translator if needed), and it was everything you would see in a doctor’s office in the US. Very professional, but in a very relaxed setting. I actually think it would be great if the US could adopt such a system! Anyway, long story short, the doctor spoke very good English, examined me, and let me know that I have a full blown sinus and upper respiratory infection. I would need antibiotics to make it go away and feel better. I thanked him very much for seeing me on such short notice, and then we headed over to the pharmacy, one street over from his office, to pick up my 2 prescriptions. The entire trip this morning to the doctor and to the pharmacy to pick up my antibiotics was extremely quick and efficient. 3 cheers for the Dutch medical system!!!

I can no longer push on. I have cancelled my plans for this evening, and instead will enjoy a quiet and relaxing night at “home” to get healthy again. I now know that I should have probably gone to see a doctor while I was in Italy, but I kept thinking it would go away. A word to the wise my friend, ALWAYS listen to your body. I need to start doing the same.

Well, there you go…. a wrap up of what I have been doing the last week. Don’t get me wrong, I am still so very thankful for all the beautiful places I have been able to visit, whether sick or not. Although, the being sick part has not been so fun. However, it happens.

Once again, thanks for being here in this GIHY community. Thanks for letting me share my life, my truths, and my adventure with you. I look forward to sharing more pictures and thoughts with you as Erik and I head to the UK next week, but until then, I think I will just get caught up on some books I brought with me for the trip, relax, and enjoy my medications. 😉

Have a fabulous (and healthy!!) weekend my friend!

Much love from me to you…… from Haarlem, The Netherlands.

Kalee xo

Happy Wednesday!

So, I am 2 weeks in to my European vacation and this is just about the time after being away from home that the cravings for chips and guacamole kicks in……….yep, right on schedule! #ilovemexicanfood #justnotthesameineurope 😉

Pasta in Milan doesn’t sound sound bad though! Off I go!

Make it an awesome Wednesday my friend! Chow! xo

No Need For Words

20160422_213550

(Andre, myself, Francoise and Erik enjoying a typical Swiss meal, fondue. So yummy!!)

Hello from Venice, Italy! I am so sorry for the lack of communication these past couple weeks. Before I came on this trip, I had it in my mind that I would be one of those writers who sits in a quaint little European cafe, or on the banks of a beautiful canal, and write everyday. I have watched too many romantic movies I guess. I really do aspire to be one of those type of writers one day, but at the moment the reality is, my husband and I are constantly visiting family and friends, and seeing the sites, and I have had little time to write at all. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am NOT complaining, as we are having a fabulous time, and are visiting some incredible places, but I definitely will need to figure out the balance between “work” and pleasure in the future if I want to take my writing to the next level. Anyway……just some internal thoughts I am having and wanted to share.

Lets get on to what I really wanted to share with you today though…..the concept that people do not have to speak the same language to have beautiful moments together and make lifelong memories. While Erik and I were in Geneva, we spent time with one of his oldest friends, Andre (they went to university in Rotterdam together almost 40 years ago), and his girlfriend, Francoise. We spent every evening enjoying wine, great food, talking about stories from the past, getting caught up on each other’s children and lives now, and just enjoying the moments (sometimes until almost 3 in the morning, but whatever…)….the funny thing about this however, is that Francoise only speaks French, and I only speak English, but somehow between the 2 guys translating (they both speak many languages), and sometimes just by making gestures and looking into each other’s eyes, we understood each other. Sometimes we were left in a room alone, and yet we still were able to communicate. It was fabulous!

As you know, I am a people person. I love people. I love to connect on deep levels with people. So when I realized that although not once had the two of us spoke each other’s language, somehow a new friendship had started. It made my heart so full!

Then, a few days later after Erik and I had said good-bye to Geneva and Andre and Francoise, we found ourselves at a community breakfast table at the bed and breakfast we were staying at in Lake Como, Italy. There were 3 couples, one from Italy, one from France, and then us from America. Again, no one really spoke any English. So between the courteous smiles and reaching of the hands for the items on the table, we all ended up laughing together and enjoying a group breakfast. A few broken words of all languages commenced, and then we were off on our separate vacation destinations. But for one hour, we all came together and communicated with each other without really understanding. But it didn’t matter. A human connection had once again occurred, just like it did a few days earlier in Geneva with Francoise.

20160423_174949

(the community breakfast table at the bed and breakfast in Lake Como)

These simple encounters I experienced made me think about how much we all complicate things most of the time. How we allow the lack of understanding one another get in the way of so much possibility. How frustrated we sometimes get when we feel misunderstood. Sometimes there is validity to the frustrations of course, but sometimes maybe assumptions come into play, so we never even try to relate to each other. Am I right?

I have really taken these experiences as a life lesson for me, and now my friend, I encourage you to take pause this week as well when it comes to communication with others. Most likely you will be speaking the same language so that is already a bonus to what I have been experiencing, but sometimes even then, we lack the understanding of what one is saying. If this is the case, instead of feeling frustrated, look at their gestures, look into their eyes….do the words they are saying actually match what they are trying to communicate? Look deeper. Ask questions. After all, sometimes you don’t need words to understand what they are saying. Just be simple. Connect on a human level instead of only on a level that makes you comfortable. You just might start some new friendships that you didn’t even know you needed.

Have a great Monday! Thinking of you from Venice.

Kalee xo

I Choose And/And, Not Either/Or

20160420_173612

(me yesterday, reading the book on the plane to Geneva)

 

Hello my friend! I am writing you today from Divonne, France, a small town on the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland. The border between these two countries winds in and out of the streets of this picturesque little town, sort of like a peek-a-boo game of now you see Switzerland, now you don’t type of thing. However, whether in France or Switzerland, this part of the world is truly breathtaking! Like the backdrop of a fairytale!

As I was flying here yesterday from Amsterdam, I sat on the plane and listened to all the “white noise” of many languages coming together. I heard French, Dutch, Italian, and German, and they were all being filtered through my English ears. I put the book down that I was reading and just listened. I focused on what I was hearing. Then something strange happened: I began to picture myself back at home, going about my daily routine, and of all things, going to Target for groceries like I do a couple a times a week (I do love me some Target, but not sure why that was the visual that came up first in my head…haha!)……anyway….. as I looked around at the faces where all this combined language was coming from, I thought to myself “wow, I am so far away from home and my “normal” life. I had this weird sensation come over me that almost made me feel like I was someone else. Like I was playing a part of someone else’s life, and that when I go back home, and I am back shopping at Target for miscellaneous things, that this trip and my experiences on it will all seem like they never really happened. And then I thought, no, that was the old me, how I used to think…THIS IS my life now, and both of these things, sitting on a plane to Geneva, and shopping at Target in Texas is WHO I AM! I am not sure any of that makes sense to you, but let me try to explain…..

The book I was reading yesterday during this out of body episode was “Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It”. This is Elizabeth Gilbert’s compilation book of many of her reader fan essays about how her original book, “Eat, Pray, Love” changed their lives. Of course, I am one of those fans (not that submitted an essay for the book, but one that had a life shift myself after reading Eat, Pray, Love…..), and so when I found out this new book was going to be released, I knew I needed to get it just as soon as it came out. It was also perfect timing for the book’s release, because it came out right before this current European adventure I am on.

As I read story after story from many different people about how unhappy they were, or how unfulfilled they were before they read “Eat, Pray, Love”, and that how after reading the book it encouraged them to dream differently, and how it gave them the emotional strength they needed to make big life changes that now allows them to feel more like themselves, I thought….yes, at one time I could truly relate to that, but not anymore. I was reading this new version of “Eat, Pray, Love” through very different eyes than I did back in 2009 when I read the original. Back then, Liz’s story was a reflection of everything I was feeling but too afraid to say out loud. I was ripe for her words, her truth, and I was inspired to make changes from them (and I did), but back then I also thought that my life had to be an either/or type of life, and not an and/and type of life.

I used to think that my travel ambitions couldn’t happen because I was a wife and mom. I used to think I couldn’t take time out in life to focus on what I needed, and what I wanted just as Kalee, because again, I was a wife and mom. I used to feel that the separate parts of my personality and desires needed to stay just that…..separate. When I left for Berlin back in 2009 for my own “Eat, Pray, Love” sabbatical, I was not only physically leaving my life behind in Texas, but it was my first symbolic move of a life in transition. At the time, my life felt very segmented, and I couldn’t fathom that all the different goals and dreams I had for my life could ever come together to make a whole person. A whole me. So, when I took that trip to Berlin, I kept it at arms length from my friends and family back home. It was as if I could not experience both of those together, so I separated them. When I was at home, I didn’t talk about my longing for something else, for somewhere else. When I was on that solo trip back in 2009, I didn’t talk about my husband or my kids. I didn’t think about shopping at Target. I didn’t think about everything my life entailed back home while I was away. Again, the two didn’t go hand in hand….or so I thought back then.

Flash forward almost 7 years from my own “Eat, Pray, Love” trip, and I now know that traveling, experiencing new cultures and people, AND being a wife and mom are all parts of my life . All of those things make up who I am. I am not one without the other. I have learned to embrace those two parts of life that inspire me the most, and have created a version of myself that I am very fulfilled by. Is it a struggle sometimes to balance both those parts of who I am? Absolutely. But don’t we all have that struggle? For you it may not be traveling on your own, versus raising a family, but I know there is something that you debate internally. We all do!

My point of this blog dear friend, is to say that we don’t have to have an either/or life. We are all worth having an and/and life, and that desiring to have that is not selfish. Sure, we all may not need to have a huge life transition as many readers of “Eat, Pray, Love” have had (including myself), but if you are one of us who has at times segmented the different parts of your life that make up who you are, I encourage you to start figuring out a way to blend the parts together to make up a whole you. A unique, creative, and beautiful YOU!

So, just as I have started to live out loud my and/and life, I hope you will do the same. After all, we have one shot at this thing called life, and how sad it would be to not live it to the fullest! Nurture your desires. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others who may not understand your transition. Change is difficult for others to accept sometimes, but always know that has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with their own struggles. Go after your own AND/AND life my friend!

I will now head out of our little apartment we rented on Airbnb, and explore beautiful Geneva. I have texted with my children back home, and so my and/and life is complete. I am a whole me, living a life I love. I hope you are doing the same.

Wishing you a wonderful day ahead…..always.

Kalee xo

 

 

With Love & Hope From Holland

IMG_20160418_104500

My first visit to Holland was when I was 14 years old. At the time, I was living with my parents and 2 brothers in Germany. We were an American military family stationed in Germany, and from time to time we would take advantage of living abroad and explore the surrounding countries. I remember that initial trip to Holland with great fondness. We of course hit some of the top tourist “hot spots”, including the Keukenhof ( http://www.keukenhof.nl/en/ ), and the Madurodam ( http://www.madurodam.nl/en/ ), and I can also still see both my brothers and I playing on the sand of the North Sea. It was a great time, and I could have never known back then that one day I would marry a Dutch guy, and that Holland would eventually become more of a “home” to me than just a place to visit.

The next time I returned to Holland after that initial trip so long ago, I was 39 years old. I still approached this beautiful country with fresh eyes, and wanted to go see all the tourist “hot spots” all over again. My then fiance easily obliged and was the perfect host in his home country. We traveled around to many different cities in Holland, he showed me all the places that were important to him while he was growing up, and it was really special watching him reminisce as we went back to many places he had not been to since his childhood.

Over the past 6 years, Erik and I have been back to Holland many times to visit family. With each visit, I start to see the tourist in me evolve into more of a “local”. I no longer have the need to go see the “hot spots”. Along with spending time with our family here, Erik and I have established friendships in Holland, and so it is now more about going to have dinner or drinks with our friends and family, then it is about sight seeing. There is a sense of comfort and fondness that goes along with that that is hard to put into words.

In fact, as we enjoyed a wonderful dinner last night with friends, I was telling them all about our day in Amsterdam, and walking by the Anne Frank house. One of my friends, who has lived in Holland almost his entire life, said that he has actually never been to the Anne Frank house. Neither has several other people from Holland that I have had discussions with. At first, I was shocked to hear that, and then it got me thinking: we are usually not tourists in our own hometowns, no matter where we may live in the world.

I can relate to this idea. I currently live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas, and when I talk to people about that, usually one of the first things they say is, “Oh, where JFK was shot”….or “Oh, Southfork Ranch is in Dallas” (any “Dallas” fans out there?!)….and then I say, yep to both of those things, and then I say no, I never go to either of those places. Have I been to them? Yes. Once to both, but that was years and years ago. I really never think about the history of Dallas or Fort Worth as I am going about my daily life there. It is just “home”. I am sure all of you living in New York City, or Los Angeles (or name really anywhere), don’t think about all the significant places there that people plan their vacations around. Am I right? Strange a little bit if you really think about it, but it is just the way it is.

Maybe we should all take an annual “sight seeing” tour of our own hometowns to reacquaint ourselves with our local history. Could be fun, right? Then again, the feeling of “home” is not about the hype or taking a million pictures (although, you know me my friends, I LOVE taking pictures no matter where I am! 😉 )……, but “home” is more about quality time with the ones we love.

I feel very lucky that I now have two places in the world that I consider “home”. Not maybe in the physical sense, but in the emotional ties that I feel. My first is my physical home in Texas, and my second is my feeling of “home” I now have in Holland. I am so glad to be here once again, and be able to share my adventures (and pictures) of Holland with you in the next few weeks.

With Love & Hope from Holland…..Happy Monday!

Kalee xo