(Zi)on the Road to the Grand Canyon

Please excuse the punny title. Dylan doesn’t quite approve, but he doesn’t really have to…I like it ;).

I am finally writing again about ADVENTURES! As I said in Summer Dreams, I have the summer off. It’s finally here: no more getting up at 5:30 to work out before working all day, breakfast and lunch and dinner prepped and ready the night before. No more stressful days with children and exhausted evenings of Netflix.

I make it sound pretty terrible – it’s really not. I do like my job. But, it was definitely wearing me out! It’s definitely a struggle sometimes to remain in balance. It will be much worse next year, with grad school and work and my nutrition program (yep!), but my hope is that the bustle will energize me.

Summer adventures are in full swing, and it’s only Day 3 of summer. Dylan and I drove for 13 hours yesterday to Salt Lake City. My main goal in SLC was to stalk Melissa Hartwig, inventor of Whole30 (no sightings yet). The secondary goal is to hike, hang out in coffee shops, and settle into two weeks of desert sun and outdoor escapades.

First impressions: it’s WARM! We left the cold and rain behind and found the sun. It’s awesome (but I am wearing so so so much sunscreen on my pale white PNW skin – Ghost Anne with Hat).

Dylan and I are making an effort to cook and eat whole foods as much as we do at home. I love having his support, and I think he loves the lifestyle as much as I do (win). In fact, it has stopped being “the whole30” and has started being my life. It’s honestly not worth deviating from when your breakfast is a kale and sausage omelette with some vanilla almond milk yogurt. And matcha tea with honey.

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Our first day, today, has been amazing. We slept in, then went for a hike on SLC’s “living room” trail. It was about three miles, uphill up and downhill down. It was tiring and hot, but short enough that we just got great exercise. Plus, the views:

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It’s called “Living Room” because there are chairs built out of rocks in the hillside. We reclined for a bit and had some snacks.

Now we’re out and about, having coffee and working. Dylan is not as lucky as me – no teacher perk summer vacation for him. Too bad 🙂

Next up: Day 2 in SLC and off to Zion!

(Zi)on the Road to the Grand Canyon

Summer Dreams

The weather is FINALLY hot, guys. The sun came out of hiding. Thank Zeus. Er, I’m sorry, Helios – let’s keep it going, buddy.

I am definitely a cold-weather person at heart. But let’s just say that the past FOUR DAYS of sun have been the LONGEST STRETCH of sunny weather since SEPTEMBER??? Sorry, I’ll stop yelling. It’s been a rough winter.

So anyway, this weather has gotten me thinking – hard – and when I’m supposed to be doing other things – about all the fun things I want to do this summer. Here are my summer dreams:

Become a wellness blogger. One amazing thing that has come out of the Whole30 is that I have discovered this community of people on the interwebs that are doing the whole food/healthy lifestyle thing in really down-to-earth ways. They’ve become my main sources of inspiration and information as I embark on this journey to figure out what the heck is inflaming my system. I have since become really interested in the idea that food and mental health are very connected, and that nutrition could be the key to reducing things like anxiety and boosting peoples’ moods. My goal for the summer is to explore wellness and see what I can give back to this amazing group of influencers!

Read. Lots. Now is the moment when I casually drop into my blog post that I am going to grad school in the Fall. Starting in September, I will be a student of humanistic psychology with the goal of becoming a therapist? Although I still harbor secret dreams of being a professor and researcher and writing a book. And I will be working as well. So, I want to get a head start on my reading for next year as well as dive into the stack of books I’ve had sitting next to my bed forrrrrrever. I can’t wait to be #learning again.

Plan the heck out of next year. Planning is something that I just will not have time to do, and it is also probably the most important thing that I do as a teacher (along with manage the class and stuff like that of course). When I start the year, I want my projects planned out for each level so that I know my major units and when things will be assigned and due. It’ll be easier than last year, because last year I was going in blind!

Do yoga and barre and run and dance and walk and hike and camp and swim and…One of the major, like indescribably major, benefits of getting my health things figured out is that I have way more energy than ever before. A combination of better thyroid performance and less chronic inflammation (no more asthma) makes it so much more fun to exercise! I really can’t believe that I was missing out on this feeling. Plus, with the weather, I just wanna get outside. It calms my mood and body system like no other thing does.

Ciao for now. Time to get back to work. TTY soon 🙂

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Summer Dreams

An Anne in Motion Stays in Motion

My position on “going home” was: I can’t wait, I’m so tired of moving!

Apparently, that was a lie. Since I got back, I’ve been moving non-stop. I gave myself a few days to recover from an intense case of jet lag, which made me feel like I was perpetually drunk. Thankfully that feeling subsided after a few good night’s sleeps reset my Circadian Rhythm. I’m officially on Pacific Coast Standard time.

I rested for three days, and then I went to Seattle several times. I spent a day on the Kirkland waterfront. I spent a day at the lake. On Friday, exactly a week after my flight from Barcelona to Seattle, I spent a day in San Francisco. Now it’s Monday, and I’ve been in Walla Walla for two days. I’m writing this from the Colville Street Patisserie, famous in Anne Land for being the birthplace of many thesis drafts last Spring. The cold brew is still awesome.

I fear I am addicted to traveling. My parents enabled me with the (to be paid off by me) gift of an eggplant-colored Honda Fit, which I’ve named Aubergine (Gina for short), and she and I have already gone many miles together.

The difference between travel here and travel abroad is that I’m visiting all of these places completely for the purpose of visiting my long-missed best friends. I guess this is really my style: I go where my friends are. Even in France, most of my trips were either to go see friends or to go somewhere with friends. It reflects something I realized about myself, which my close friend recently asked me to articulate.

While I am always overjoyed to meet new people, there is a large part of me that is energized by the cultivation of strong, durable, long-term friendships. In life, and especially in Nomad Life, it’s easy to meet new people. I met new people all the time over the past year, and it taught this former shy girl how to be brave and embrace strangers. What’s harder is building relationships that last, especially when there’s a time limit on togetherness. There were some people that I met, thought I’d become really close with if given enough time, and had to say goodbye to. That’s not to say we won’t meet again someday (I hope, I hope!), but every time that happened I became sadder that I had to keep moving.

So, I’ve been traveling at home to recapture those relationships I missed. I’ve been seeking out that feeling I get when I’m with someone who’s shared so many of my past experiences. And because I missed it so much, I’m looking at my relationships with fresh eyes, and I realize how precious they are to me.** The world is big, but friend and family love makes it comfortingly smaller.

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The best thing about home is: it’s where I grew up, and who I grew up with.

** I feel just as lucky to have friends I left behind in Europe that are equally precious to me, who made my year fantastic and with whom I felt totally at home. Val crew, I’m lookin atcha. Miss you.

An Anne in Motion Stays in Motion

In the Pink City

7 AM wakeup. Breakfast. Coffee. Walk to school. Learn things. Get lunch. Sit in park. Plan things. Teach things. Walk home. Make dinner. Watch a show. Go to sleep. Repeat once per weekday.

Thus is the life of a TEFL student: 9 AM-7 PM school days, and very little me-time. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

On the weekends, I explored the Pink City for myself.

First, here’s my fantastic flat! Probably the best lodging I ever had in France in terms of privacy, location, price, size, and facilities. Plus, my landlord was a gem. He would often throw parties in our courtyard/garden, so I met people.

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When I wasn’t in my flat, I was probably either in the TEFL center or in a park. There were several options.

The green space in front of La Garonne, the major river that runs through Toulouse:

IMG_4170 The Jardin des Plantes, right across the street from the TEFL centre: IMG_4153

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And the Grand Rond, which I walked through every day on my way to training:

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It made for a beautiful morning. I started meeting my new friend Imi on a bench in the Grand Rond in the mornings for a pre-work chat (and sometimes a croissant and coffee as well).

As you can see from the pictures, Toulouse was more often than not a sunny paradise. For the first two weeks, it rained a lot, and I experienced the mistral wind, famous in Toulouse for making people crazy. Then, it got really hot (like, in the 90s F/30s C) on our last week. It was even 28-30 C at 10 PM! Luckily, my apartment was in a basement, so I stayed cool while sleeping.

The weekends were a mix of routine and adventure. Each weekend, I spent Sunday at the Marché de St. Aubin, where I bought my produce and eye-feasted on all the pretty handmade jewelry & the cool Toulousain people.

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I sometimes went for drinks with people from the course, making new friends as well! And I usually spent the day walking around exploring.

The Canal du Midi trail reminds me of the Sammamish River Trail, which is right by my house!

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La Garonne, the river! Here’s Toulouse’s Pont Neuf (every city has one):

IMG_4166 And La Garonne in the almost-rain:

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I also managed to find my BFF Cara‘s old haunt (and Ashley‘s, of course!), from when she was a TAPIF assistant near Toulouse and came into the city with her friends. It used to have a flirtatious waiter, but he seems to have disappeared, much to my chagrin. I had a delicious curry crêpe in honor of good memories.

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Toulouse is a “big city” compared to Valenciennes (even though it’s actually pretty small), and the atmosphere is totally different. There’s Spanish essence permeating the air of the pink city. People are out on the streets until midnight every night, dining from 8 PM on the many places filled with outdoor seating. The Southern accent is twangy, and I still have trouble catching everything people say down here. There are also Spanish speakers everywhere. I’ve met Cubans, Ecuadorans, Spaniards, and French people who are half Spanish or spend all their time in Spain.

There is an expat community, just like everywhere else in France that I’ve been, which could’ve been fun had I been in Toulouse for longer! I was talking with friends last night about why we internationals tend to mostly meet each other. Do we attract other internationals because we all have things in common? Do we put off the locals with our transitional nature? Or is who we meet where really just random chance?

I guess we’ll never know. In any case, Toulouse treated me so, so well. I’ve graduated TEFL with a teaching certificate and renewed confidence and teaching energy, and I’m leaving Toulouse with the intention of returning someday!

In a couple of days it’s off to Barcelona, then….HOME. More to come.

I’ll leave you with a cute photo:

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In the Pink City

Sleeping with Crickets

Life on the Ranch

The last time I was in Montana, I was there to attend my uncle’s wedding to Joyce, at Yellowstone with a reception in the family ranch’s barn. It’s still the best wedding I’ve ever attended – partly because I was too young to remember the other ones and partly because it was full of so much joy and love.

This time, we went back to the ranch to visit — we stayed in the guest house and did Montana activities. Here’s a little taste of the scenery:

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When in Montana, one must do as Montanans do. My favorite piece of Montana culture that we got to experience was….the Demolition Derby!

For those who have never experienced one: Demolition Derby is a motorsport usually presented at county fairs and festivals. While rules vary from event to event, the typical demolition derby event consists of five or more drivers competing by deliberately ramming their vehicles into one another. The last driver whose vehicle is still operational is awarded the victory.

Additional rule, for this particular demo derby: you must hit another car every two minutes (or you’re disqualified). The audience is here to see action, after all.

Before Heat 1, this car won Best in Show:

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After Heat 1, where it came in second place, it looked like this:

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As one of our party pointed out, this event is really great for people-watching as well as for the entertainment of watching cars bash into each other. For instance, the kid next to me had a killer haircut:

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Really, these pictures don’t do the event justice. To really get the atmosphere, I encourage you to go grab a cold Bud Light and a cigarette, queue up some car-crash sound effects, and turn them up really loud while sitting in the hot sun. You can even add some whoops and cheers for good measure.

It was the funnest thing I’ll probably never do again. I’m definitely describing it to my French students next year, though.

We also did a ride in the hills above the ranch, on one of the family’s horses! I got to ride Eddie:

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I accidentally let Eddie grab a snack at the beginning of the ride, causing a 15-minute stretch of repeatedly reminding him NOT to eat snacks until he finally got the message (sort of, he was still sneaky). And, he jumped over a creek. Jumped! I have a whole new level of respect for horse-jumpers. But I didn’t fall off! I was just thankful that, even though he totally could have, he didn’t purposefully throw me off.

Flash thunderstorms, card-playing, reading, and a lot of romping with the puppies made up the rest of our free time, when we weren’t on our trips into Yellowstone. A great vacation, in a great place with some lovely people! Couldn’t have asked for more. I’ll leave you with this face, of our uncle’s 8 month old black lab:

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Oh, and to answer all your questions about the title of this post (in case you had them)…I woke up with crickets in my bed. Multiple nights. Sometimes on my face. One of them even hitched a ride home in my clothes when we packed up. Even though it was startling and gross, I considered myself lucky not to run into more dangerous buggies.

Sleeping with Crickets