Amsterdam: 5 Things I Won’t Miss

Gasp! There is actually something Julie won’t miss about living in Amsterdam? She’s always singing its praises. 

Guys, let’s keep it real. Life in Amsterdam isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. In fact, depending how you read that, it mostly isn’t. Here are some things that I definitely won’t miss about our brief Dutch life:

  1. The bike culture. But wait, I thought you said it was something you would miss? Well, there are two sides to that story. This other, evil side is the one that whizzes past you, pedaling the wrong direction in the bike lane (or not), but somehow you, pedestrian/motorist/innocent soul, are the moron and you are in the wrong for not seeing them first. I have been clipped by many a biker. And when you aren’t prepared, that bell is startling. Consider this a warning: Bicyclists always have the right of way. That includes when I’m riding, thankyouverymuch.
  2. The ignorant comments from people that never have visited Amsterdam and claim they know it’s all about prostitution and pot. Guess what? It’s not. While the Red Light District and coffeeshops do exist and are a legal boost to our economy, they have nothing to do with my life and it’s easy to forget they are even here.
  3. Actually, I take that back. The tourists that visit such places and then create scenes in otherwise peaceful places (like when I’ve been harassed by junkies in the park… at 11am). We’re just trying to live our life, so keep your dalliances to yourself. I don’t care what you do, just do it somewhere that is not in front of my face.
  4. The weather. I’ve gotten used to it, and I suppose I can make this positive by saying that now I really truly appreciate a nice, sunny day. Most of the time, it’s like this: 
  5. It’s dirty. Coming from Chicago, which I guess is very clean, this is the other end of the spectrum. Trash is left in the streets, the canal water is polluted, and no one ever picks up after their dogs. Unbelievably, it doesn’t smell! Must be all the flowers…

These lists are fun.

xxx

Amsterdam: 10 Things I’ll Miss

As we wrap up our time in Amsterdam, I’ve been reflecting like whoa on everything that I’m going to miss about our Dutch life. While there are countless things that I’ll miss, here is a short list of some more “general” things:

  1. Market shopping. Obviously. This is basically my main pastime. I love strolling through the many markets that are squeezed into tiny Amsterdam. It’s where I get most of our produce, and a lot of our poultry and cheeses. And it’s always fun to check out some of the interesting trinkets being sold. 
  2. There’s no panhandling. I’m told that Amsterdam has a lot of programs and shelters to limit this activity. I have never once been asked for money in the 14 months we have lived here. In a way, that has contributed to the safe environment this city maintains. There is low crime and little to fear as I come home alone at night, which I’ve done often.
  3. The architecture. Charming, quaint, and cute are the first three adjectives that come to mind. Amsterdam is a small city, and the building style, which is highly regulated, helps to keep the small town charm intact. There are rules on what you can do to the facade and how tall you can build.
  4. The bike culture. I occasionally moan and groan about riding my bike, but that is mostly out of laziness. I really love riding it. And with all the bike lanes and signals, not to mention how fast we can get places, it’s a wonderful convenience. 
  5. The parks, specifically Sarphatipark and Vondelpark. For its size, Amsterdam has a healthy amount of green space. We had many picnics, long walks and good ole fashion fun in ’em. 
  6. Those canals. I know we’re moving to a place with lots o’ water, but it’s different. It’s not as intimate. There is something incredibly romantic about a stroll along the Dam canals. 
  7. The abundance of flowers. Hello, we’re in the the tulip capital of the world, despite the fact that they did not originate here. Fun Fact: Tulips are really from Turkey and were imported here in 16th century. We always had fresh flowers in the house this year, which became a daily luxury rather than a once-in-awhile treat. 
  8. The street style here has really changed the way I look at everyday dressing. While the 90’s grunge look is definitely seeing a resurgence, people also just embrace their own unique style, whatever that is. While Dam Style is an homage to the younger, quirkier set, its a glimpse at some of the more eclectic fashion. Many people dress more subtly.
  9. I have definitely taken this for granted, but the centrality of Amsterdam in Europe; its magical ability to be a 1 to 2 hour flight from seemingly everywhere, is something I know I’m going to miss. Stockholm, while a major city, is at least one connection away from a lot of places we may want to visit and often will be a much longer flight.
  10. Raw herring. I don’t care what you say, I like it. Especially on a crunchy bun with onions and pickles. 

Of course, this is not a full list. These were on the very top of my head. 😀

xxx

Stockholm: 8 First Impressions

Hi pals. Happy Monday. I hope you all had a nice weekend. We went out with friends on Friday, met friends for lunch on Saturday and stayed in that very rainy night with pizza & beer. We’re really enjoying these last few days in Amsterdam, rain or shine.

So, Stockholm! We’re moving there in two weeks. If you’re reading “live”, we are there. Right now. To house hunt! Okay, more like tiny apartment hunt, but still. I hope we find our little home.

But let’s back up. If I’m going to do this right, I have to go wayyy back to July when we first visited. We went for five days, smushed between hosting visitors and our two week trip to Italy. To say we were a little frazzled (or maybe that was just me, Jaro tends to take things in stride better than I do) is an understatement, especially because this trip was booked only the week before. It all felt rushed and I felt unprepared. I hadn’t researched much about it and wasn’t sure what to expect.

As we arrived, I have to admit… I did not want to like it. I love Amsterdam. I’m not ready to leave. It really feels like home and a place I could stay for a long time (read: more than the 14 months we’re getting). I love our neighborhood, our lifestyle, our friends, our apartment, everything. Okay, maybe not the weather, but even that has stopped bothering me like it first did.

Our focus of this trip was to get an “overall feel” for the city; explore some different neighborhoods, see where people shop, eat, hang out, etc. So we rode the T to our teeny holiday apartment in Södermalm, the alleged bohemian neighborhood (much like Amsterdam’s Pijp where we currently live), and I had my doubts. I was ready to point out all its flaws and shortcomings. As I stared up at high-rise condominiums, modern glass buildings, and so much concrete, I wasn’t feeling it. I missed Amsterdam’s charming, cobblestone streets.

But over the week, we found Stockholm’s charming, cobblestone streets, rode bikes via the shared bikes program, shopped in lots of glorious boutiques, ate hot dogs from street carts and dined at fancy restaurants. I warmed up to this cool city. (See what I did there?)  Here are some initial thoughts:

  1. It’s very stylish. Shopping is a huge part of the culture and the city’s somewhat recent rise to fame, something which Amsterdam is not exactly known for. While I have happily adapted to the Dam’s casual street style, I’m going to have to step it up a notch with this move. And no complaints! I love fashion and even though my passion took a hiatus for the years that I was an accountant, I think it’s really going to come back in full force.
  2. It’s hilly. Whoa. I have never lived in a place with actual hills. I love the added interest it gives to the city landscape. It’ll make walking and cycling a better work out, that’s for sure.
  3. Speaking of interesting landscape, this city is comprised of 14 islands all connected by 50 some-odd bridges. Smitten!
  4. They eat lots of herring (and fish in general), much like they do here in Amsterdam. But theirs is pickled, not raw. I still like it.
  5. They eat lots of other delicious things too. Chutney, Urban Deli, Bageriet by Urban Deli, Restaurang Östgötakällaren, and the many others we tried, were all great. Good food, friendly service. I know the culinary scene is going to rival (and maybe beat?) Amsterdam’s.
  6. Swedish wildlife (as we learned at Skansen) includes brown bears, coyotes and wolverines!
  7. Neighborhoods are all very different. We only checked out parts of Södermalm (hipster), Gamla Stan (historic), Norrmalm (touristic), and Djurgården (green space). On this current visit, we’ll also see Kungsholmen (residential), Östermalm (posh), and Vasastan (residential) during our apartment hunt. There is a lot to explore.
  8. It’s expensive. Beers can be up to €8. A one hour T fare is about €5. And trying to convert the Kronor back to Euros is dizzying. It took several months to start “thinking” in Euros instead of dollars, but I think we’ll get used to our new currency faster in Stockholm.
  9. Bonus Thought: I like saying that we’ll be living in Scandinavia. It just sounds cool, yeah? Much like how I love saying we have been living in Holland. Sigh.

Enough talk, here are some pics. We surprisingly didn’t take a lot because we were so busy trying to soak it in and not be too distracted by what aperture setting we were using.

Moving is tough. Not going to lie, it’s stressful to visit a new country, trying to imagine yourself settling in there. In many ways, you can’t. We were more than ready for the initial move to Amsterdam just out of sheer excitement (I’m riding a tram! I’m eating herring! This is all so exciting!), but we are a little more cautious about this one. We hope we love it just as much. And you know what? I think we will.

So there you have it. Some initial thoughts on Stockholm. Looking forward to sharing our house hunting adventure with you all soon.

xxx

Stockholm Here We Come

Woo wee! Man, it feels good to finally let the news out that we are moving to Sweden. I wish Jaro had more time to contribute to the blog. What a sweet post, right? He is the best. That’s why I married him.

This has been in the works for months. To be honest (because I always am on here), it was a slow, painful process that kept us wondering if it really was a good idea. Most of the time, we were frustrated by delays and problems that were out of our control. The rest of the time, we were frustrated with our own anxiety about this decision. Now that it’s all over and the contract is officially signed, we feel a huge relief. Time to get excited.

It looks like we’ll be moving around the beginning of November. In the meantime, we have already begun the torturous process of immigration and all the paperwork that goes with it. Yuck. It’s all too familiar as we were faced with this mountain of to-do’s just one year ago. As with our move to Amsterdam, this is another permanent relocation. And by permanent, I mean we’ll stay there until another opportunity presents itself. We don’t know how long that will be. And we’re okay with that.

Like I said in my homesick post, Jaro and I are a team. We share all our excitement and hesitations, talk through every decision (big & small), and chose this new path together. There was a lot to consider, trust me. Making this transition will hopefully be much easier than the first time around. We’re pros at being expats or “foreign migrants” now.

However, having each other is good and all, but also having an amazing support network is helping us tremendously. We know we have the unwavering support of our families and friends. As cryptic and vague as we’ve been for the past couple months, everyone has been so patient and understanding as we’ve navigated our next step. Thank you. This decision has not been easy, but all of your support has helped us be less frantic.

And yes, we did visit Stockholm in July. Obviously, I have LOADS to say about it. And I have loads to say about wrapping up this year in Amsterdam. So many thoughts, you guys. I’ll be sharing that soon.

Right now, we are setting off on an epic road trip. We decided this… yesterday. We don’t know where we’re going (though we do have some ideas). We don’t know when we’ll be back (though we know it will be within 2 weeks). All we know is that we’re cranking up the Stones, throwing caution to the wind, and hitting the road. We’re off on an adventure. Yet another.

Onward.

[photo credit]

A new home.

After a long stretch of uncertainty, the setting for the next chapter of our adventure has finally been decided, officially bringing a conclusion to this first year of life in Europe.

We are moving to Sweden.

In a little over a month we’ll be packing up our Dutch life and moving north, to the beautiful city of Stockholm – home to picturesque Scandinavian landscapes, IKEA and some of the world’s tallest (and most attractive) people.

We paid the city a top secret visit before our trip to Italy and found it suits us very well. We know we’re going to miss Amsterdam but we leave knowing we’re going to love Stockholm. It’s another beautiful European city with it’s own unique character. And though the people are a wee bit shorter and the population is just a tad smaller, Stockholm certainly feels BIGGER than Amsterdam. And in many ways, it is. It’s spread over an archipelago of 14 islands and much of its architecture is based on the grand buildings of Paris. Julie said it reminded her of Vienna. We both felt that some parts even reminded us of sweet home Chicago.

So what is taking us there other than the meatballs? I’ve accepted a new opportunity with Nike as Running Brand Manager for Stockholm. Working on running will be a great new challenge for me as it is the sport at the company’s core. But I’m probably more excited about that last part, Stockholm. Notice it’s Stockholm and not Sweden. For now, I’ll get to focus on a city. Not a territory, not a country, but a city! And a great one at that. But the best part is what it means outside of work.

Julie and I have had an unbelievable but difficult year. We had the perfect wedding followed by the perfect honeymoon then we uprooted our lives in Chicago to start our life together in Europe. I spent half the year in Ukraine, most of that without Julie. I won’t get into how stressful it can be trying to get things done in Ukraine. Add on an ambitious personal travel schedule and you’ve got one year that takes the toll of five. Though we did a lot together, Julie and I had very different experiences. We spent a lot of time apart. I never had a chance to settle in and really feel at home.

The new job is, more than anything, an opportunity to take a deep breath and slow things down. Sure, I’ll work just as hard as I always have, but I’ll be in one place, dealing with first-world problems. I couldn’t be happier that for the next indefinite period of time I will find myself, very comfortably, located in a city, with my wife. Exactly where I want to be.

They’re Souvenirs, Not Stuff

Just read this article on NYT and it inspired me to share some of our favorite souvenirs that we collected this year. We always thought carefully about our purchases, after all we don’t like a lot of clutter around the house (ask Jaro about his OCD) and never wanted to suffer with tons of luggage to cart it all home. These were a few of our non-wearable, non-edible treasures that we thought (and still think) were worth the weight.

This kilim (rug) from Turkey.

This pouf from Morocco.

This globe from Russia.

This teak dining table from the Netherlands.

This blanket from Morocco.

This tile from Morocco.

We did, of course, buy much more. These were the more interesting pieces. And nobody (not even me) should delve into the risky business of my reasonable exponentially growing, enormous scarf collection. I’ll leave that behind closed closet doors.

Fun Fact: For the first 365 days that I have lived over here, I spent 127 outside of the Netherlands. That’s a third of the year, folks. Crazy. Let’s not get into Jaro’s stats, then you’ll know how often we were apart.

xxx

One Year.

On this day, September 4th, exactly one year ago, we took the scariest, most exciting, thrilling and exhilarating leap of faith in our life. We moved to Europe. It’s been one whole year already. Looking back at my very first (very naive) post, I can’t believe that was only a year ago. “Only.” It feels world’s away.

This milestone day, surprisingly, has made my heart so heavy. I’m sad. All year I have tried really hard to be optimistic; to enjoy this experience as much as possible. (Duh.) And I really have enjoyed it. But I’ve also been doing everything I can to stay in touch with family and friends back home through a constant cycle of skyping and emailing; to stay relevant and present in their lives. It’s been a challenge. I haven’t stayed as close with some people as I would have liked to. Some have slipped. Others have surprised me and I feel closer to them now more than ever. Mostly, it has been a wonderful change. I’ve learned so much about the world and about myself. I’m thankful.

But I’m giving myself a break today. I’m homesick damn it. And we’re not going home for a visit until December. This day is a difficult reminder of some painful things. It’s been one year since I have given my sister a hug. It’s been one year since my brother has teasingly shoved me after one of his jokes. One year since I have seen many of our close friends & family. Today and many other days this year, that has made me cry. A lot. Knowing we’re missing out on impromptu dinners. Quick phone calls. Hugs. I think I can speak for both Jaro & myself when I say that is undoubtedly the hardest part about living abroad.

Obviously, this isn’t the first bout of homesickness I’ve experienced. It comes in waves. Today is a tidal wave. I’ve developed some remedies, however, that make it less painful. I can’t make this whole post a sob story, you know? I don’t roll like that.

Today, on the hardest day, this is what I’ll be doing to be happy:

Watching the picture montage our wedding photographer put together. I still cry when I watch this. At least it’s happy tears.

And just looking at all of our wedding pictures because they are amazzzzing.

Following that with some laughs by watching our wedding Smilebooth montage right after.

Skyping with friends… anyone around later?

Eating this. And drinking wine. Lots of wine.

Now a message to Jaro. My partner. I wrote something similar at our 6 month anniversary and I’d like to reiterate: We are getting through this together. We have each other. That is my greatest comfort. Our marriage has already been an incredible adventure; welcoming a transatlantic move, exploring 8 18 countries, and building a bond that gets stronger every day. I love you. And this extraordinary life that we get to share.

It may be “only” a year, but it’s a whole year. And it’s just the beginning.

xxx

If you’re still reading, thanks for letting me get that out. Need to vent today. This blog has been another source of cheerfulness knowing it keeps me connected to those who care. I love you all too.

Booked: Sweet Home Chicago

We have booked our flights home to CHICAGO for this December. We’ll be home from December 7 through January 8. A solid month. It’s long overdue… It will be 15 months since we last set foot on American soil. We miss it.

Skyline views from North Ave beach.

Jaro & I on the roof of our old place. Summer 2010. Photo by Kate.

My beautiful sister & I at the Bean just before we moved. August 2011.

I can’t wait to go back. However, the bean is going to look more like this:

My handsome college roommate and I. December 2010.

And the streets will look like this:

Our old street, Leavitt. January 2011.

Oh well. There is something lovely, even romantic, about Chicago in the winter. (Though I much prefer summer.)

Thinking about everything we’ll want to do and everyone we’ll want to see is overwhelming. How are we going to fit it all in? The biggest focus is, of course, people. Then food, then sight-seeing (like tourists!). But I’ll save those other topics for future posts. We have already begun to think of ways to spend quality time with the people we love. Such as:

1. Couch surfing. Many of our friends live in the city. When we did, we had countless sleepovers with people from out of town (and sometimes people from in town too lazy to go home). And while that might have had something to do with our world’s-most-incredible couch (which I’m tempted to sleep on in our storage room while we’re back), we’re hoping there’s a pay it forward system here and people will take us in. It would be fun, right? Maybe we can even pay our rent for the night by cooking breakfast before they head off to work the next morning? I think it would be a great way for us to have private catch up time with some of our closest friends.

2. Hosting a bar night. This way, we can see lots of people at one time for a fun night out. There are so many people we would love to see and I wish we could do individual gatherings with everyone, but some are going to have priority… For one, my best friend Stacy (who visited in May) is getting married on NYE and she will be a huge priority for me since this is her special time. Missing her showers and bachelorette party is an unfortunate consequence of living so far away and I want to make up for it in whatever way I can. Secondly, Jaro’s brother & wife are having a baby in early December (good timing!) and we’ll want to see the little munchkin as much as possible. It’s our first niece or nephew! I think it will also take some of the attention off us. Babies are cuter/more exciting than me & Jaro. Thirdly, we are going to Florida to see my family down there for Christmas and that will pull us away from the Chicago scene for a few days. So… bar night? I think yes.

3. Lunch dates. Practically all our twenty-something/thirty-something friends work downtown. Since I will have free time during the day, lunch dates will be a super convenient way to see more friends. Plus, there are a million restaurants I want to visit, so that will knock some of those out. More on that later.

What else can we do? Thing is, we’ll also still need to find time to just be together back in our home city. Where we met. Where we fell in love. Where we got married. So we need to squeeze some at least one date night in there as well. And spend time with our parents. And siblings. It’s going to be the fastest month of my life. Like I said, I can’t wait.

xxx

Are you too busy?

I read this article on the New York Times over the weekend. I think the author shared some  valid points about American society and that how busy we are defines us. “I’m just sooo busy.” How often do you hear that? I couldn’t agree more with his point:

It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.”

Right? It’s so true! I was absolutely a victim to it when I was working in the corporate world. It was always go, go, go. A full calendar, with both work and social events. Committing to multiple plans in the same evening and racing from one to the next. Always running. Always late to dinners. Always Sometimes canceling last minute because something more urgent (or more preferred) came up…

It’s funny. I asked my friends that visited in April if they noticed anything different about me. Had I changed? I was curious and had no idea what they would say, if anything.

Stacy didn’t hesitate. She said:

You walk slow.

And you know what? She’s right. I guess my priorities have changed. Busy can wait. I’m too busy (uh..) not being busy. Walking slow. Smelling the flowers. And enjoying my life.

It’s absolutely a result of the move, of not working, of traveling.  Would I have kept running the race if we were still in Chicago? Probably. A life-changing experience forced me to re-evaluate how I want to live my life; it was a unique situation. Most people don’t have this opportunity.

I’ve become really reflective on the past year lately. It’s been such an incredible year. I guess the takeaway from this particular topic (and why I wanted to share it with you) is to slow down. Which reminds me of another of my favorite quotes, an appropriate close to this post:

The days are long, but the years are short.

Enjoy them.

(These aren’t our dogs btw, we are just borrowing them for a few days:)

Kiev: Final Reflections

1st annual anniversary photo
Kiev, Ukraine

We are now finished with our brief stint in Kiev, Ukraine. <Insert choirs of angels singing “Hallelujah!” here> In the final weeks there, we celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary (picture is on our crappy apartment balcony… complete with chairs that stained your butt green, but we later went to a beautiful terrace dinner at Concord). I helped Jaro photograph The Chance final week. We feasted on varenyky at Pervak one last time. We got to enjoy a live concert from Elton John in the Fan Zone (fo free!). We found an incredibly chic and modern lounge/restaurant a few blocks from our place called Sad and went twice in three days. We went to the European Championship Final (and watched Spain embarrass Italy), any true football fan’s dream come true.

Espana vs. Italia

 

And now we’re home. When I sit down and think about it, living there on and off (more off for me than Jaro) was an interesting challenge…

Looking back on this year, not only did we have to adjust to a new life in Amsterdam, but we also had all this other incredible change: A new marriage, my decision to stop working, adjusting to occasional life Kiev… the list goes on. Out of all these big changes in our life, Kiev was our biggest challenge by far. I enjoyed our transition to Amsterdam and our Dutch life. Our new home. Our new friends. Hosting visitors. I have enjoyed not working. Instead, I’m working out. Learning to cook. Learning to take good photographs. Learning Dutch. So, what did I find so difficult about living in Ukraine?

1. Jaro worked all the time. All. The. Time. This was part of the deal though, right? I mean, someone has to pay the bills! Initially, I didn’t (couldn’t really) predict how lonely I would be.  After my first trip in September (which I wrote candidly about here and here), I avoided going back to Kiev until the April visit when his family would be there to keep me company. I couldn’t stand to be alone, in a tiny apartment and once you see #4, it will make even more sense. Avoiding it may not have been the best idea or most courageous, but I rationalized it by remembering how much milder the winter was in Amsterdam. (Kiev, according to Jaro, was like this) Jaro continued going there regularly, which meant I was home alone in Amsterdam for much of the year. Sad face. Remember this pathetic dinner? Yep. Did that more times than I care to admit. But, being apart taught me to be self-motivated, keep myself busy and stay optimistic.

2. No one speaks English. And I don’t speak Ukrainian. Or Russian. See a disconnect there? I realize that is my own fault. I wasn’t there enough to take consistent language lessons. Or make friends. Living there without knowing the language was next to impossible. Thankfully, Jaro’s Ukrainian and understanding of Russian is what carried us through. He handled all the communication really. Over time, I became more comfortable winging it. Admitting I didn’t understand when people were talking to me. Trying to communicate anyway. Lots of hand motions and nervous laughing. This was a challenge!

3. The food. I go back and forth on this one. But really, it made things difficult for me. I LOVE varenyky as much as the next warm-blooded Eastern Euro (I am 1/2 Polish after all), but you can’t eat that every day! And as much as I tried to embrace cooking there, our cheap (provided) apartment utensils made it all but impossible. So did not having a dishwasher. I managed to “make the best of it” toward the end and just suck it up with a sink full of dishes each day. Jaro would often chip in with that. What a guy.

4. Our constant internet problems. I can’t even really get into it; I’ll have a hysterical fit. In short, for the last two months we didn’t have a connection at all. After multiple phone calls and technician visits, we gave up. (Sidenote: What did people do before the internet? Watch TV?) Oh and CNN, our only English TV station, stopped working too. So what the heck would I do? Go for walks. Slow ones. Read. Sit outside and enjoy the sun.

5. The fashion. Women of Kiev, take note: There is NOTHING chic about wearing stilettos with exposed nails in the heels that make that horrible clicking sound as you wobble around. Also, there is nothing chic about you stepping on my foot with said exposed nail at a concert and causing it to bleed. I may hang onto that grudge for awhile… at least until this cut heels heals.

Again, the list goes on. For someone (i.e. me) used to western comforts, it’s just a tough place to live. I found myself sighing a lot. Taking deep breaths a lot. Crying a lot. However, as I reflect on my time there, I realized the impact it had on me.

I am so proud.

I’m proud, firstly, of my husband. He did some tremendous things over there, including this for an underprivileged community in Kiev. With the well-known corruption and other problems in Ukraine, I am just so proud that he made it happen along with everything else that he worked on this year. He made friends and bonded with a lot of talented, wonderful people. He is inspiring in so many ways. And to be a loving, thoughtful and romantic husband as well? As frustrated as I got with his demanding schedule, at the end of the day, I realize I’m quite lucky.

I’m proud also of myself. It’s not easy to give up a career, move abroad and spend so much time in a country where standards are not as high. It’s actually really hard. But you know what? The lessons I learned there will last me the rest of my life. To be more positive. To be more patient. To be more kind.

…To still laugh at some of the outrageous fashion. And cringe at the heels.

I’m thankful for my time in Ukraine. Now it’s time for the new challenge.

xxx

P.S. I might miss the mad scientist door across the hall from us. Just a little bit.