Wrapping up the Year (and the presents)

I realize that it’s been nearly 3 months since my last blog post… I’m usually not absent from my blog that long, but suddenly September arrived and these past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind. It’s amazing how quickly time flies. One moment it was the end of summer and suddenly it’s almost the end of the year. There have been new experiences, vacation plans that didn’t end so well, new projects, last minute trips and finally holiday preparations.

#TCKchat

Over the past few months, I have been a co-host for a twitter chat for Third Culture Kids (#TCKchat). These one-hour chats happen every 2 weeks (Wednesday at 10am/10pm US EST) and every session has a topic and a series of questions. We have participants of all ages, of all personal and professional backgrounds, located all over the world. However, you don’t have to be a TCK to take part in the conversation, so please feel free to join us anytime!

I joined twitter earlier this year for the ParfittPascoe Writing Residency. Although I never expected to use twitter much, TCKchat is a great way to connect and share experiences, lessons, stories and so much more. I hope to connect further with some of you in that forum!

You can find additional information including highlights of previous chats, upcoming topics, and short bios on the founders and co-hosts here: www.bateconsult.com/category/tck-chat.

Expat Resource Directory

A few months ago, I also started working with Global Living Magazine as Expat Resource Manager to help create an Expat Resource Directory. The aim of the directory is to be an ongoing list of expat/TCK resources, including services, organizations, projects, blogs and active expat twitter accounts/chats. There are resources covering a wide variety of topics, ranging from counseling/mental health, to consulting, education, relocation, TCKs, parenting, finance etc. We’re always looking for great new resources, so all suggestions are welcome (Dounia@globallivingmagazine.com).

This photo below is just a sample page of the directory to give you a sneak peek; the full directory can be viewed in the latest issue (Nov/Dec) of Global Living Magazine and will be updated in all future issues.

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Paris: City of Light and Love

After a brief vacation in Florida (that unfortunately ended with all of our personal belongings being stolen), there was a last minute whirlwind trip to Paris to see my family after 10+ long months of only seeing them on Skype… It was short (isn’t it always when you live far away from loved ones?), but very sweet. We visited parts of Paris that I remember so well and also made new memories in some quartiers that I didn’t know as much. Even if it had been over 2.5 years that I had been there, I still remembered the familiar streets, smells and sounds that make Paris one of my homes.

Here are some of my favorite photos from my quick November trip:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Finally I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas (or happy holidays for whichever festivities you celebrate)! I hope you all have a wonderful end to 2014 and an even better start to 2015! I hope to catch you all more in the new year!

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Buon Natale! Feliz Navidad!

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Early Summer Sights

It may have taken a while to get here after a long winter and short spring, but thankfully summer is just beginning… I’m looking forward to many more sunny days, walks in the evening, beautiful sunsets and hopefully some much-longed for beach time. For now, I leave you with a few shots of some early summer sights!

Happy summer to all (or happy winter, for those in the Southern hemisphere!)

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Winter Beauty

Since this year we have the winter that keeps on giving (I actually say that genuinely since I absolutely love winter!), I figured I would share some photos I’ve taken along the cold, snowy way. Make sure to click on the photos to see the slideshows!

During the snowfall it may be overcast, but the beauty is nonetheless apparent:

The day after the snow falls is often a spectacular day – crisp blue sky, golden sunshine and a breathtaking world of glistening diamonds:

And finally a little bit of sunset snow:

Here’s a little extra for a fun comparison:

Since we just got a fresh snowfall again yesterday and we also have some pretty impressive ice formations, there will probably be more snow and ice photos in the near future, so stay tuned…

Joyeux Noel

Growing up I was lucky to spend my first Christmases in winter wonderlands, surrounded by grandparents and cousins. They were magical and perfect in every way. When we started moving around there wasn’t always snow and extended family couldn’t always join us but it was still a magical time. No matter where we were we always celebrated with the same joy and love as those first snow-filled Christmases.

My parents did an amazing job and passed on a love and appreciation for Christmas that we will always have. The most important thing they passed on is that Christmas is a time to be with loved ones. They taught us that as long as you’re together it doesn’t matter where you are in the world. Today we’re heading off to join my family for Christmas – to talk, laugh and make new memories together. I hope that this Christmas you are surrounded by loved ones, wherever you may be.

 

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Buon Natale! Feliz Navidad!

(Please share in any other languages you may know!)

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“Autumn…”

“…The year’s last, loveliest smile.” William Cullen Bryant

I have always loved autumn. All four seasons have something beautiful to offer, but for some reason, autumn holds something special for me. Growing up I didn’t always live somewhere with four proper seasons, which meant that for many years I didn’t get to enjoy a true fall. I was lucky to spend my first years as a kid playing in leaves and watching the beautiful fall colors in Wisconsin…But I admit that I mostly remember jumping into the leaves! After we left the U.S. it was quite a while before I saw a proper autumn again. Mexico and Sydney barely had fall and the Philippines definitely didn’t have those temperate seasons since it’s tropical… I had to wait several years before seeing four well-defined seasons and my beloved autumn once again.

When we moved to France, I rejoiced at being able to see and feel each individual season. They all had their time, they were not fleeting or melting together; they were four distinct seasons. And finally, I found autumn again. The colors lit me up inside and the crisp fall air made me want to laugh out loud, for no particular reason other than feeling so alive and so invigorated. And autumn does that to me every year. The years when fall isn’t so prominent or passes by quicker, I feel the absence and I long for that season I love so much.

Then three years ago my husband and I moved to New England, and I suddenly experienced autumn like I never had before. This is now our fourth autumn here and every year I am amazed by the beauty this season has to offer in this part of the world. Although I love fall, I do love all of the other seasons too and so it was always difficult for me to choose just one favorite season… But here in New England, it’s easy. Autumn is by far my favorite season here. None of the other seasons inspire me and invigorate me the way fall does. There is something so exhilarating about the crisp autumn air and the clear blue sky. The flowers in the spring are lovely and bright, but it’s hard to compete with the rich jewel tones of autumn leaves.

There’s something about this season that makes me want to explore and try new things. I want to write more, take more photos, see new parks, go for long walks and just be outside. I want to feel the cool air turning my cheeks pink, heading back inside with windswept hair and hands full of colored leaves. Then I want to sit down with a mug of hot chocolate or tea and watch the glow of the sun on the fiery trees.

Whether I got to see fall every year or not doesn’t matter. I get to experience it now and I intend to take advantage of every minute.

 

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Click for a bigger version – this small one just doesn’t do justice to how beautiful this scenery is…

“I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.” Lee Maynard

Ode to Autumn

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I have always loved all four seasons,

They each have their beautiful reasons.

But one stands out above them all,

My favorite and glorious fall.

 

Winter is biting and cold,

Hiding everything in its frosty hold.

Although a snowflake is magical to behold,

Its novelty soon becomes old.

 

Spring is a well of showers,

Followed by beautiful flowers;

But the pollen falls in powders,

Making me rue the spring hours.

 

Summer is golden and bright,

The sun setting with a glowing light.

Although it may seem just right,

After a while I long for the heat to take flight.

 

The autumn sky is clear and blue,

And the grass is damp with dew.

The trees know their cue

And begin to change their leaves anew.

 

I love winter’s sparkling white

And spring’s colorful delight.

I am warmed by summer’s golden light,

But I am exhilarated by autumn’s sight.

 

I have always loved all four seasons,

They each have their beautiful reasons.

But one stands out above them all,

My favorite and glorious fall.

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Summer Loving

I’m happy that autumn is approaching, as I’m ready for the cooler temperatures, the brightly colored leaves, snuggling under blankets and drinking hot chocolate… But I loved the summer and all it entailed this year – road trips, air trips, beaches, champagne, exploring new places and fondly re-discovering childhood ones, burgers and shandy, lots of family, lots of laughter and lots of love…

… And also a wedding celebrated among wildflowers and butterflies. Although the scenery was beautiful, it was the love and celebration that really made this special. Since it was a cousin getting married, it meant lots of family, which is the best way to go. Lots of family means LOTS of fun, laughter, great conversations and most importantly love. It always feels so good to be surrounded by family and I feel so lucky to have them all, no matter where we are in the world.

 

… Beautiful views of Vermont on our drive back from Montreal, after visiting some cousins and my grandma. It was a wonderful, memory-filled weekend, visiting places I hadn’t seen in 12 years and that were a huge part of my childhood. We reminisced about all the mischief we managed growing up, and I got to show my husband some places that are very special to me. It reminded me yet again how lucky I am to have this amazing and close-knit family, despite the distances that separate us…

… And then there was the extra-special trip of the year: our honeymoon in St. Croix. We had much to celebrate – 10 years of being together, 2 years of marriage, and the honeymoon itself – and we made sure to enjoy every minute! From the warm Caribbean Sea, to sunset shows; from a day out on the catamaran to snorkel in the most pristine water, seeing rays, turtles and barracudas (not to mention all the other amazing sealife!), to dancing on the terrace after dinner… It was simply amazing and we made memories to last us a lifetime…

Until next year summer…

Summer Storms

Gathering clouds darken the sky,

As the rain pours down with a sigh.

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Lightning flashes through the sky

With thunder rumbling in reply.

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Rain drops like waterfalls from the sky,

And the ground drinks it up, thirsty and dry.

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The wind tears across the sky,

Causing loose leaves to float, drift and fly.

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Soon we see again blue sky,

With sun piercing through with a sigh.

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Behold the beauty of nature in the sky,

Where dreams float and drift and fly.

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