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Wander, Linger, Savor

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This blog is dedicated to the idea of slow living specifically as it relates to travel in all forms. When I moved to the island of Crete, it didn’t take me long to appreciate the art of slowing down. And after five years of living in the Mediterranean, I fully embraced the practices of wandering, lingering, and savoring both at home and on the road. If you want to read my writing from my time in Crete, you can see my writing on Cretan Chronicles.

There are times when it’s appropriate and unavoidable to pick up the pace of life. Working on a deadline, preparing a meal for last minute dinner guests, keeping up with an active toddler, racing beyond the speed limit because you’re late for that hair appointment you scheduled two months ago and it’s in jeopardy of being rescheduled.

Ok, that last one is just a product of bad timing on my part.

Which is precisely my point. Most of us lead hectic lives because honestly, we choose to. We cram so much into one day, that there is no wiggle room for the unexpected bumps and/or joys. Realistically, we can’t slow down every aspect of our lives. Only a hermit or a monk would be successful at that challenge. But we can be intentional about the things that are important to us.

I would submit that there are specific activities that should never be rushed if at all possible. Like cooking, praying, spending time with loved ones, and my most challenging “take your time” enterprise – travel.

On this blog, I hope you will be encouraged to wander with me to some surprising out-of-the way places, linger over some unexpected happenings, and savor the delicious moments of the journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE RELUCTANT EXPAT (Coming to terms with coming home)

 

I lost my journal for almost two months – misplaced, actually. It’s like an old friend I can confide in. I can sort out my thoughts in written words and somehow things become clearer. When you write, you have to slow your thoughts down in order to wait for the words to catch up with your pen. This was yet another “slow food for the soul” lesson I learned while living in Crete. I first started putting words to paper in Crete as an attempt to chronicle our lives as expats on a Mediterranean island. Hence, Cretan Chronicles was born and grew into a blog.

There were many things that were born and grew in me during those five years abroad. Things that have changed me forever – like deepened patience, tolerance, compassion, quietness, a sense of a bigger picture and a deep conviction that this world is not my home. It’s because of that firm “knowing” I can be content wherever I live.

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As I write this, my good friend is packing up and moving back to the States with her husband and children after living abroad for more years than living Stateside. (Husband works for the military and it is a requirement that after five years abroad you must return to the States for at least two years before requesting to go abroad again.)   They have loved every minute of their lives in Europe and I can imagine her mixed emotions as she sets her sights on a new life in America.

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Moving to Europe was one of the most difficult things I’ve done, but not as difficult as moving back to the States. Packing up all our belongings and navigating through all the details was nothing compared to packing up all my memories and navigating through all my emotions. I remember the feeling of bewilderment when someone said, “You must be so excited about going home!”

Where is home? If “home is where the heart is” then my heart must be in pieces. A little here, a few there, left behind like an intimate goodbye letter left on the mantle.  It’s hard to come home when you’ve been home somewhere else. In time, the leaving gives way to the coming and a measure of peace settles in. That’s when you know you’re home – again. Until the next time and it repeats all over.

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Sometimes the homesickness for Crete settles in so deep that I can taste the yearning and want to run there. Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong here. But truthfully, I don’t belong there either. Sometimes I think if I’d never left here I wouldn’t have to deal with such a mucky mess of emotions.   But, if I had never stretched out my faith and moved into the unknown, I would not be the person I am today – changed forever. And I realize that there are a few lucky ones of us who can say we have many homes – each one has left its imprint on our hearts and influence in our lives. And the pangs of homesickness are a reminder that God has emptied us into the lives of others and vise versa. But mostly, the restlessness and yearning for home is put in our hearts intentionally by God. We may search the world over but there’s no comparison to the belonging and beauty of our place with Him – our true home.

 

From Crete to Colorado

“The only place we have to see before we die is the place of seeing God.  And His presence is everywhere for those who slow to see.” Ann Voskamp

 

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Welcome to my new blog!  After I retired my five year blog, Cretan Chronicles (www.cretanchronicles.wordpress.com), it wasn’t much later that I began to get the itch to blog again. But coming up with a theme was a challenge since there are so many things to write about these days and the world of bloggers is saturated by every topic imaginable. I finally narrowed it down to the question, “What am I passionate about and how is that significant for my readers?”

Some people are passionate about running, or hiking, or cooking, or politics…the list goes on. But these are merely activities that feed a deeper inner passion – to find something that we can relate to that feeds our need for belonging, peace, control and satisfaction in this crazy world. We all want to make a difference whether it be in our own lives or in the lives of others – in our own home or in the world at large. What I’ve discovered is that I can make a difference anywhere I go just by using the gifts and talents the good Lord gave me as long as I slow down enough to listen and breathe.

My passion for travel has taken me to places outside and inside myself to where I realize that I crave travel not so much to see things on my bucket list, or take great photos or find new blog material. Travel feeds my desire to make a difference – to experience a reciprocal relationship with a different culture where we can all come away with something that makes us better people in the long run. Even if its just a new appreciation of a different slant on life.

And so, this blog is born out of a desire to share what I’ve learned from my travels and living abroad to those of you who have a deep seated need to slow down, to turn off the distractions and to really see and live life intentionally.

I miss many things about Crete especially as I try to navigate through some reverse culture shock here. Everything here is so big and fast – I realize that the small town European culture fits my personality so well (especially the island and the sea!).  But the close proximity to our precious family is priceless and so I’m treasuring every moment with them while still being very intentional to preserve the pieces of Cretan life I so appreciate – like a slower pace, a stronger sense of God’s presence amidst the  busy-ness of daily life, an afternoon nap or cup of tea, not to mention, a better diet!!

I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was feeling so conflicted – comfortable and yet deflated – when I returned to the States and then it occurred to me; The familiarity of American life makes it predictable…”normal”…almost boring. The aggravations of life on Crete were rooted into the very things that made it such a great place to live – slower pace, out of season food not available, inconsistent business hours, new holiday celebrations every week (businesses closed), no regard whatsoever for rules in regards to traffic or queuing up. But I find myself becoming more frustrated with the rigidity of rules and regulations in America – so much so that I nearly “got my Greek on” and blasted right through an obscure stop sign in the middle of nowhere last week. True, my challenges pale to what most of the rest of the world has to tolerate or suffer. We have enough food, enough money, enough material goods, projects and entertainment to live very comfortable lives. We are blessed to distraction.

“Intentional living” is a term thrown around a lot these days but I think it has merit especially in America where our biggest enemy is the black hole of Distraction. We intend to do something, go somewhere, some day get to that thing we’ve always wanted/needed to do but it constantly eludes our best intentions because something else fights for our attention. I remember the days of parenting small children when my greatest wish was a few moments of undisturbed quiet to see a task from beginning to completion. But I also knew that raising my children was far more important than marking checks off my bucket list and in fact, was at the core of intentional living during that time of my life. No matter where we are in our lives, from diapers to board meetings, from our own neighborhood to some far away place across the globe, we have the ability to live in the moment.

The secret to slowing down? You have to choose it. Just because there is a hole in your schedule doesn’t mean it should be filled. Better yet, schedule in a big hole. You’ll be surprised with how God fills it with something satisfying and good for your soul. All because you were available.

Living abroad has changed me – in a good way. I’m more patient, more tolerant, more grateful and more open to any new experience or adventure. I’m more discerning and wiser about our global community and my prayers are bigger than they ever have been in the past.  If you are craving a simpler, more aware, less frenetic life like I am, stick with me and we’ll journey together through more travels, stories, recipes and photos that will hopefully nourish the soul and inspire the spirit.

Teaser:  Next blog…..Under the Colorado Sky