Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Link Up Reminder

Happy Monday Tuesday all! Just a quick note to remind anyone who wants to link up with us - this Thursday the 1st is the next What's New With You link up.

We hope you'll join us!

What's New With You

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trying new things

I am not good at trying new things.

The thing is, I'd kinda had myself convinced there wasn't anything new I wanted to try.

But lately I have been thinking about really trying new things, getting out of my comfort zone, not being so scared of everything all the time. I started thinking about this when I was watching No Tomorrow (bummed there is no season 2) and then Gina posted about taking chances.

The more I thought about it, the more this voice in my head kept asking me was I sure there was nothing new I wanted to try? I argued with the voice in my head (I'm sane, I swear) and said, self, I do lots of things! I run races, I just bought a new house and knocked down walls! I have been to Europe and I'm going to New Zealand in a couple months! There, take that! New things everywhere!

But still, the voice wouldn't shut up. It kept bringing things up things that I had smooshed into corners of my brain. Cooking classes, sewing, kickboxing, volunteering, donating blood, skydiving.. the list was longer than I had originally thought. It kept reminding me that life is short.

I have bookmarked a groupon for kickboxing classes. I actually bookmarked it way back about a year or two ago. I shit you not. It's right across the road from my work. It's really affordable to start and the class times are often and flexible. So what was stopping me? I have no idea. I just never hit purchase. I was so terrified. I kept telling myself it was because I didn't really want to, but I did! I do, brain. Shut up and let me do things.

But last week I did it. I signed up. I DID IT. This may seem SO silly. But it was a huge deal for me!! Just the signing up part, that was enough.

That day, I was so proud and kinda on a high from feeling all brave and whatnot, I went to participate in a blood drive at work - another thing I've always wanted to do but was too afraid. I enlisted/dragged a co-worker with me as I was too scared to go on my own (baby steps guys), and I went and.... I did not conquer. They sent me and my too low iron away. Very sad, but hey. At least I tried!

Even though donating blood was a fail, I didn't give up and actually went to the kickboxing class that I signed up for the next day. I really thought I would sit on the groupon purchase for at least a couple of weeks, but I told people at work and the ahole bros group to keep me accountable.

It was hard. Really hard. I was dripping sweat, I couldn't do half of the things they did, my fingers were so sore after punching, but I felt like a bad ass. I'm going back tonight and hopefully Thursday. I'm not sure if it's something I'll be able to do long term, it gets expensive after the first few classes (doesn't everything!).

Lastly, I signed up for a 5k at the zoo with my work. This doesn't sound like anything exciting, scary or 'new', but I'd never been to the Louisville Zoo and I'd always wanted to do the 5k there. But I didn't want to do it on my own, didn't even want to drive to a new place on my own. Things fell into place when my work decided to start doing 5ks as a team, and then I signed KC up as well. Funny story, KC doesn't run because he hurt his ankle like 5 years ago. I figured he could walk it and then we could spend the day at the zoo.

Well, we spent the day at the zoo, but KC ran it and beat me. How rude! But I did pretty well I think, it's a very hilly course and it was the fastest 5k I've done in a while (28:41). The zoo itself was fun, even though I have mixed feelings about zoos in general (don't we all...).

Of course, the new scary thing I did that day was touch a snake. I wasn't going to do it but then a little kid did it and I was like if he can, so can I! It felt so weird. Not like I expected a snake to feel.

So there you go. New things everywhere. Sure, they aren't big scary inspiring things, but I will get there. I've been in my comfort zone a long time, I'm not going to get out of it overnight.

When was the last time you ventured out of your comfort zone, and what did you do?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Swapping Countries with Erin; Going Home

For anyone new around these parts, Erin is an American who lives in Australia, and Kristen is an Australian who lives in America.  The two of us regularly talk about our experiences and lives swapping countries. 

Well, not sure if "regularly" is the correct word because we both admit to being pretty inconsistent, but we have the best intentions to keep this series going.  (Is it a series if we've only had one post and one guest post?)

Both of us are traveling to our original homes in the next couple of months, so we thought we'd share our thoughts, feelings, and anticipations about that visit.

Erin's story:  It's been exactly two years since I've last been to Texas.  I am suffering from some serious homesickness, I ain't gonna lie about that.  Two years is a long time to go without a hug from my daddy, a laugh with my mama (in person), and the taste of chile con queso in my belly. 

Two years ago, my trip was planned around niece #1's high school graduation and a cousin's college graduation.  This year, my trip is planned around niece #2's high school graduation.  I will also get to spend Memorial Day in the good ol' U.S. of A.  As a bonus, my mom, my niece, my sister-in-law and I are having a quick San Francisco getaway together.  And, as a further bonus, three of my bestest girlfriends are meeting me in Northern Cali after the relatives go back to Texas, and I'll complete my trip with a couple of days in the Sonoma Valley with my girls. 

When I go home, there is no time for rest and relaxation.  I am constantly on the go, doing all the things and seeing all the people and eating all the food.  I love Texas food.  I may have an unhealthy relationship with it, but seriously, when I'm home, I gorge on alllll those things that I miss when I'm in Australia.

Neither of my parents live in Houston anymore.  I split my time between Huntsville (with my dad and stepmom) and Tyler (with my mom and her guy), and I squeeze in a little College Station time where my brother and his family lives.

Often, I get overwhelmed because I never get to see all the people I want to see or do all the things I want to do.  I have to prioritize, and in this situation, as cliché as it sounds, it's family first for me.

So, this might sound bad, but I also see the folks who are willing to be flexible and put effort in our relationship.  There are folks that I was really close to when I lived in Texas, yet I never hear from them anymore.  That's fine.  Our lives have gone in different directions.  So, I see the folks that are currently a part of my life, and not the ones that were once upon a time.

There is always some feelings of guilt.  I feel guilty by the pain in my father's voice, and the tears in my mother's eyes.  They support my happiness here, but we miss seeing once another more frequently, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I feel guilty about it.

And, when I visit Texas without my guy, I miss him.  Three weeks without your partner in life is a significant amount of time to be apart.  But, it's something we knew would be a part of our relationship with the reality of me living on the other side of the planet of so many of my loved ones.

The most difficult part of the trip?  Saying goodbye.  Especially when I don't have an exact plan of when I'll be there next.  So, so tough.  I get on that plane.  I sigh.  I reflect.  I may cry.  But, I head back to my second home where my husband and stepkids and life awaits. 

I feel fortunate to call two places home.  To have people that love and value me.  To love and value others.  Through the hardships, the feeling of gratitude for that love and appreciation outweighs all.

Kristen's story:  It has been almost 3 years since I last went home, and almost 5 and a half years since I left for good (though, I didn't know that at the time).

Like Erin, I am suffering from some pretty awful homesickness as well. I am very excited that I will be back in my home country, eating all the food I miss, hearing people talk like me, seeing words I recognise, driving on the side of the road I learned to drive on... all those things. But I am obviously most excited about seeing my family, especially my mum.

My mum and I have always been extremely close and living on the other side of the world has been so hard. Sometimes I wish it were different, but you can't help who you love. Mum loves America and has visited a few times since I moved here (only once to Louisville though) and her last trip was September 2016. I met up with her and a friend in LA & Vegas and we had a ball (and of course, fought a ton). The next plans were for KC and I to come home in June 2017, and then mum wanted to go to Graceland sometime in 2018.

my mum loves Toby Keith
We booked our flights for this June back in December. December 30th to be exact. As most of you know, my mum had a stroke early January. If we hadn't just booked our flights, this trip may not be happening. I probably would have hopped on a flight home immediately. I almost did, several times, but she was surrounded by family and I was able to talk to her immediately after the stroke and she told me not to come. Things got a bit worse before they got better, but she is doing really well. She is not home yet, and she is not back at work.

Before my mum's stroke, we had lots of plans - I wanted to take KC to see the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley. I wanted to do more touristy stuff because I didn't know when I would be back. I thought about doing another mini trip, like to Uluru or something. Busy busy busy, doing all the things and seeing all the people. Like Erin, I had friends that I was 'so close' with before I left, but they don't put any time and effort into the friendship when I am gone, so unfortunately when I am home, I don't make an effort to see them - time is far too precious for that. Moving across the world sure shows you who your people are.

Now, after my mum's stroke, we probably aren't going to go to the Blue Mountains or the Hunter Valley. We won't go to Uluru. We will probably spend most of our time at home. We had already booked New Zealand before my mum's stroke, and I don't want to waste any of the time I have with her. We will be in Australia for 2 weeks, and we are spending a few days in Melbourne like last time.

I am excited. I can't wait to see my mum, my nana, my cousins, uncles and aunties. I can't wait to see Pacey, my beautiful golden retriever. My cat Agatha couldn't give two shits about me and wouldn't come near me last time, which is definitely more than a little heartbreaking. My little brother is somewhere I'm not going to be able to visit him more than once and that also breaks my heart.

Saying goodbye is stupid hard. Flying home is crazy expensive, KC and I want to start a family soon and won't be able to travel as often. The thought of more long flights makes the butterflies in my stomach go crazy. My mum probably won't be able to travel for quite some time. The unknown, the I don't know when I will be back, when I will see my mum again, it's so freaking hard. I feel so guilty that I am not there. That my dog, Pacey, gets SO excited when she sees me (will she remember me this time?), but my cat Agatha could not care less. They are both getting older, and I am not there for them. Yes, I realise they are animals, but I'm not there for my mum, little brother or nana either.

Like Erin, I do feel fortunate that I can call two places home and that I have people who love me enough to miss me, and I them. Sometimes I have to work a little harder at my appreciation and not turn into a sulky child, but at the end of it all, there's no real solution. I am who I am because of where I've come from and where I am today. My heart - as corny as it sounds - is forever split between the two places. Instead of sulking about it, I will appreciate the visits home more than I ever appreciated actually living there.

As I'm sure you can tell, being an expat going home is all sorts of emotional. But I'm sure I speak for both of us when I say excitement about going home and doing all the things definitely outweighs all the not so great feelings. And of course, I am making Erin see me when I am in Sydney, and who wouldn't be excited about that?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Books Lately

Ahhhh books. There was a large chunk of the end of March/beginning of April that I wasn't really able to read. I mean, sure, I could have put down the paint brush and picked up a book, but responsibilities and all that. Thankfully life calmed down and I was able to finish many books since the last link up.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid - 5 Stars
fictional celebrity memoir

I expected to like this because I've liked everything by TJR so far, but based on the synopsis, cover and title, I didn't think I would love it. Well I'm glad I was wrong. I can't even exactly tell you why I loved it, I just did. Many emotions. I wish Evelyn Hugo was real. It's about so much more than it looks or sounds like. Loved it. Highly recommend.

Received copy from NetGalley
Mean Streak - Sandra Brown - 5 Stars
romantic suspense

Maybe it's because I don't really read mystery/thriller type books that often but I was shocked so many times reading this. Finished it in one sitting, on the edge of my seat the whole time. I thought I'd be more into the romance, but I enjoyed the story as a whole and I didn't guess a thing.
Cocaine Blues - Kerry Greenwood - 3 Stars
the first book in the series that my favourite tv show is based on

We all know how much I love Miss Fisher's, so when I found out it was a book series I was like the happiest clam who ever lived. But then I found out it was quite different and decided to skip it.. obviously I changed my mind, and if you are a fan, I do recommend it, but absolutely take some time to let the TV show fade from memory. Especially because it's pretty much the same as the first episode, mystery wise. Few differences. No Jack (well, yes Jack but not Jack if you know what I mean) but I knew that going in. Anyway. Enjoyed well enough. Teensy bit curious and might continue the series. Maybe.
When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead - 3 Stars
middle grade book kind of about time travel

This was a cute read about a 12 year old in the late 70s, with a dash of time travel. For what it is, it was good. Honestly, this was more like a coming of age story and the time travel could have been removed if not for the ending.. but it was cute and sweet. I think it absolutely would have gone over my head as a kid though. There was a little part I really liked:

Sometimes you never feel meaner than the moment you stop being mean. It's like how turning on a light makes you realize how dark the room had gotten.

Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry - 4 Stars
contemporary ya romance, girl doesn't remember bad thing that happened to her

I liked this book more than I thought I would! The cover makes me roll my eyes, as did the 'bad boy sees and loves me when no-one else does' cliche, the overuse of 'baby'... but other than that I really liked it. It's a lot grittier than I thought it would be - his parents died and he lives in foster care separate from his two younger brothers he's trying to get custody over, she went through something that scarred her and she doesn't remember. It has its flaws for sure, but overall it was a sweet book, I liked it.

Read for Erin's challenge - set in my city book.
Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay - Jill Mansell - 4 Stars
chick lit, rom-com kind of beach read

I have only read a couple of Jill Mansell's books but I already know what I am getting when I open one. and I LOVE it. Her books are enjoyable, predictable, cheesy, light and SO fun. I thoroughly enjoy them, and this one was no exception. I really really loved the characters and the story, and even though it is 'chick lit' and you know a happy ending is on the way, I just love the way she gets there. Her books always make me laugh - and face palm over embarrassing moments - and get a bit teary. Definitely enjoyed, definitely recommend if it's your kind of read.

Received copy from NetGalley
Ink and Bone - Rachel Caine - 3 Stars
world where the great library of alexandria survived

I just don't have any strong feelings about this book. Pretty meh. Some of it was confusing, other parts were boring. The parts that were good were really good though. Interesting world. Great diverse characters, though I didn't feel like I connected with any of them really.  Liked that the romance wasn't a focus, but that made it seem not so authentic when it did come around. I don't know. It ended on a kind of cliffhanger but I'm not curious enough to actually continue it. I'm not mad I read it. It might have been a case wrong book wrong time kind of thing.

Received copy from NetGalley
nothing this time!

King's Cage and (still, because it's so bloody long!) The Secret Keeper.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

Life According to Steph

I unfortunately did not finish Erin's challenge - maybe next time. Read anything decent lately?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

April 2017 - What's New With You Link Up

Good morning everyone! Time for another link up with Gretch & me, all we ask is that you link back somewhere in your post. Thanks a bunch. Quick apology for last month's link up only being open for like, 2 hours. That was my bad! Thank you to those who pointed it out to me. Promise it won't happen again today. I hope. Ha!

What's New With You

So, normally I'd do a recap of the previous month, except I shared all the house details here. Yay house! We have not done a single thing since that post. I kid you not, we have zero motivation and zero dollars. Jk about the dollars, but really, our bank account needs to recover. We have big plans for after our trip though, can't wait.

I did run the KY derby mini which was a pretty sucky race experience. It was delayed an hour and a half and it just really threw me off and I wasn't feeling it.  I ended up staying with my friend the whole time and just enjoyed running with her regardless of time. Free food at the end of course, which is always my favourite part.

Funny thing though, the day after the half marathon, I fell over in my friend's backyard. Just walking. Because I'm nothing if not a clumsy idiot. Sigh. I really hurt my knee though, so keeping off it for now.

Even though the last half of April was quiet and not busy, I feel like we are still recovering from all the house stuff in the first half. Many boxes still unpacked, things aren't organised properly but I just really can't find that missing motivation.

If you'd like to link up with us, please do so below!

I am really hoping May is a super quiet month. Just over a month before we leave for NZ & Oz!

So, what's new with you?

Monday, May 1, 2017

Link Up Reminder

Happy Monday all! Just a quick note to remind anyone who wants to link up with us - this Thursday the 4th is the next What's New With You link up.

We hope you'll join us!

What's New With You