#NomadicNordgrens March Travel Update by Rachel Nordgren

#NomadicNordgrens March 2018 Travel Update

Hooray, Springtime is (almost!) here!

March was a bustling month! After leaving the farm in France, we dropped Banjo off with our friends Paul and Jenny in Le Vast (because taking a dog into England is rather a pain with paperwork, and we would only be there for a little over a week) and then crossed the channel. We housesat for a lovely woman named Lizzie near Petworth, and had the pleasure of watching her two darling dogs, cuddly cat, and a characterful French hen named Florence.

After leaving Petworth, we spent a night in London before picking up Dean (Rachel's father) and his girlfriend Roxann from the airport. They flew over for a whirlwind week with us...we covered London, Normandy, and Paris! It was so good to spend time with Dean and Roxann. We saw a lot, too! Some of our favorites were Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Normandy beaches, and seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night!

(we also ate far more pastries than is dietarily advisable, and we regret nothing)

After they flew back to the USA, we headed North to Leer, Germany. In high school, Hans did a foreign exchange student program with a guy named Thilo from Germany. They’ve kept in touch all these years, and we spent a delightful week in Leer with him and his family. After that, we made our way to Bielefeld to visit some of Hans' extended family. We'll tell you more about them next month!

On to the photos!

1. Hans the Giant
2. Roxann, Rachel, Dean, and our guide Leo on our Parisian bike tour
3. Hans, Rachel, Dean, and Roxann by the Tower Bridge in London
4. During Dean and Roxann's time with us, Banjo got booted out of his normal spot in the car and had to squish at Rachel's feet...and was superbly disgruntled about it
5. The Golden State Coach at the Royal Mews in London

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Most Interesting Things We've Done or Seen

Hans' favorite: touring Utah, Omaha, and Gold beach with Dean

Rachel's favorite: basically all of London, but in particular going to a sung Eucharist service at Westminster Abbey and seeing the Crown Jewels (so sparkly!)

Mutual favorite: spending time with Dean and Roxann!

Best in Food

You guys. The French have food figured out. In Paris, we took a "Bike and Bite" tour with a phenomenal guy named Leo. We cycled around the central Arrondissements of Paris and gathered supplies for a (cold!) picnic by the Seine. We visited a fromagerie with hundreds of varieties of cheese, where Leo selected half a dozen types for our picnic and had us sample a bright blue confection with lavender flowers in it.

After that, we picked up charcuterie and baguettes before heading down to the banks of the Seine. It was a history lesson (Leo knows Paris like the back of his hand) and quintessentially Parisian picnic all wrapped into one!


A Note From Banjo...

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I h8 Deen. I had da hole bak of da car 2 myseelf untel he and Roxxann shewed up. I had to be squeeshed ento where my lady hooman puts hir pawz. HIR PAWZ. Iss not comfee down dere, u kno? Im not a cheewahwah. Iss all Deens fawlt. He deednt geev me any of his crisoonts eeder, 'nd he ate lik, a hooondred. I got 2 stay weef my freends Poul, Jeeny, May 'nd Alfee 'nd I got lotz of petz. Dey deednt make mee squeesh ento the pawz spot.

I still have feelings for that cheese shop in Paris, you guys. Take me back!! March was incredibly busy and fun, and we felt like tourists way more than we usually do. While we are generally in favor of slow travel that feels more rooted down to the places we are in, there is something to be said for the excitement of seeing as much as possible in one short week. I think there's space for both kinds of travel, and advantages and disadvantages to each. One thing is for sure, though...I definitely want to spend more time in Paris, preferably when it's warmer!

Have you been to Paris or London? What did you enjoy? Let's chat in the comments!

Truth + Beauty + Goodness by Rachel Nordgren

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I sit tucked into the corner of the black leather couch in the small room in the unassuming office building, arms crossed tight.

"I don't know how to...do...faith right now. I don't even know if I want to..do? have?...faith right now. I don't know what it even means anymore." I haltingly confess.

Our counselor gently smiles, my husband reaches for my hand.


It was our last meeting with our marriage counselor before leaving for Europe. She is, for all intents and purposes, a saint. She has composed herself with heroic non-judgement across the coffee table from us while we've stormed at one another, asked just the right questions and raised her eyebrows in expectant silence when she knows we haven't told the whole truth. She has a dry and slightly off-kilter sense of humor (my favorite) and literally began one session by saying, "So, we haven't talked about sex yet. How's that going?"

Of course, she was not surprised by my confession. My husband wasn't either; it was something we'd been talking about for months. It's natural, I suppose, that I ended up there. I'd watched my "super Christian" marriage nearly crumble, my Mother suddenly die, my father practically be broken by grief, the white church-goers of my country elect a racist pedophile, my own sanity dance just outside my grasp.

It's natural, I suppose, that I started asking questions and pushing against everything I'd ever known, because so much of it wasn't holding anymore. I had no use for watered-down theology. I needed something a little stronger, thankyouverymuch, preferably on the rocks in a cut glass tumbler.

There was tremendous guilt in that, too. My parents' Evangelical church had swarmed around us in the wake of my Mom's death, stuffing our freezer full of meals and mowing our grass and inviting us over for dinner and praying their hearts out for us. There was sincerity that I could not deny and was so grateful for. I felt ashamed and guilty for being frustrated with the Church when the Church was loving my little hurting family so deeply.

Yet there was also this deep-seated, thrumming sense of "I don't belong here anymore."

Eventually, I squarely extricated myself from the "Evangelical" box. This is not to say that I abandoned Jesus (although to some Evangelicals, leaving Evangelicalism equates to leaving Jesus), but merely that I decided I was done defining my faith in Jesus strictly by the terms of Evangelicalism...particularly white, patriarchal, western Evangelicalism.

My ideas about faith are sliding in and out of focus, and there's not much I know "for sure." It feels incredibly vulnerable, and frightening at times. It's essentially like the entire framework of my existence was kicked out from under me, and that's a terrifying sensation.

Yet I could not, with emotional and intellectual honesty, cling to my belief systems any longer.

This is known as deconstruction, apparently. There's a name for all of us out here in faith freefalls.


Our counselor tilts her chin and considers this for a moment. "I think," she says, "that God isn't beautiful to you right now." I nod. She goes on, "It will probably be helpful for you to see God in different places...to ask yourself how God looks beautiful in different cultures and communities and churches as you travel."

She encourages us to engage with books and theologies that make God beautiful, and rattles off a couple of authors...James Bryant Smith, Brennan Manning, Brené Brown (duh), Brian Zahnd, St. Francis of Assisi. She asks us to consider spiritual formation habits as we travel...things like silence, solitude, gratitude, physical exercise.

One of the most freeing things to come from her lips is this: "There is going to be a pendulum swing when you go from one narrative of God to another. You might overcorrect, and that's okay. That has to happen so that you will come back center."

I'm being given permission to wander.

I am, as Sarah Bessey says, making peace with an evolving faith.


Truth.

Beauty.

Goodness.

It's the last big idea that our counselor imparts before we leave, and it buries itself deep in my mind.

They're known as the "transcendentals," and philosophers have been pondering them for basically ever. They're considered the properties of being, representative of science, art, and religion. If you want to give yourself an instant headache, go read through the Wikipedia page and try to wrap your mind around this sentence: "The transcendentals are not contingent upon cultural diversity, religious doctrine, or personal ideologies, but are the objective properties of all that exists."

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Some Christian theologians have purported that truth, beauty, and goodness are the essence of God and the ultimate desires of man. This is a bit more of my lane. In his essay entitled “[CS] Lewis’s Philosophy of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty,” Peter Kreeft says...

"For these are the only three things that we never got bored with, and never will, for all eternity, because they are three attributes of God, and therefore all God’s creation: three transcendental or absolutely universal properties of all reality.

All that exists is true, the proper object of the mind. All that exists is good, the proper object of the will. All that exists is beautiful, the proper object of the heart, or feelings, or desires, or sensibilities, or imagination.

We are head, hands, and heart. We respond to truth, goodness and beauty. We are this because we are images of God."

When you're deconstructing (or perhaps, restoring) your faith, the basics are everything.


Our counselor suggested I reverse-engineer a new narrative of God by looking for truth, beauty, and goodness every day.

So, I assigned myself this project for 2018...to daily enquire, "Where do I see truth? Where do I see beauty? Where do I see goodness?" While other parts of faith feel confusing and shaky and exhausting, this has become my transcendental liturgy. I don't know where exactly it will lead, or what "box" I'll end up back in, and I'm at peace with that. I'm in no rush to get this figured out.

If you want to follow along, check out my #TBGproject hashtag on Twitter.

For more thoughts on Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, head here.

PS - I've seen Evangelicals, at best hurriedly attempt to silence with platitudes and book recommendations, and at worst mercilessly mock and belittle, those who ask questions and don't tow the theological line. As such, I'm not about to crack the lid on all my thoughts and feelings about faith for the whole world to take a shot at. In time, I will. For now, I'm slowly processing with my husband and a small circle of trusted friends, and that's enough.

2018 Themes + Goals by Rachel Nordgren

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In 2017, I set exactly one goal: keep going.

I was coming out of a hellish 2016, still reeling from the death of my Mother and the subsequent cascade of changes, my mental and emotional health could be classified as “limping” at best, and my marriage was struggling under the weight of all of it. The election didn’t help matters (I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on; the 2016 election was traumatic for all of us) and my eyes were being opened to a horde of modern day injustices in America.

I felt spiritually homeless in a faith expression that no longer fit. I didn’t have a four-walled definition of “home” either, since Hans and I had sold our house in Topeka to move in with my father, and that house felt more like an empty shell without its heart: my mother.

I was restless, edgy, chronically stressed and tense, and increasingly feeling like I was trapped in the bowels of a sinking ship. There was no room in my head or heart for lofty aspirations or cheery goals or dynamic plans. Honestly, the thought of trying to set goals was exhausting.

There was one thought: keep going.

Looking back over 2017, I can say confidently that’s exactly what I did. Listening to my 2017 Playlist, I'm reminded how much 2017 was a year of survival, recovery, tension, grit. It started with a weekend in Waco with three of my dearest friends and ended in the guest room of a house outside London.

Now, a few weeks into 2018, there’s room in my heart and head for forward thinking again. Despite the fact that so much about 2018 is unknown (for example, I have literally no answer to the question, “When are you coming back to the United States?”) there are a few things I do know for sure.

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But first, a note on tools…

In the past I’ve used (and loved!!!) the Day Designer Planner from Whitney English and the PowerSheets from Lara Casey. Both are powerful and practical tools that I sincerely cannot recommend highly enough. However, neither one was going to be a good fit for my life in 2018. I am a pen-and-paper girl through and through, but I also have limited space on this nomadic journey through Europe. I needed one place for schedule keeping and goal setting, and landed on the MiGoals Goal Digger Planner.

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Because my schedule doesn’t involve a lot of day-to-day right variation, a weekly format works well. I particularly love that this layout has a spot for daily habit tracking! There are also a few goal-setting prompts at the beginning of the planner, designated Goals and Review pages for each month, a Budget section, and plenty of note pages in the back. My husband and I are also using a shared iCloud calendar to keep track of travel plans.

To curate my goals for 2018, I watched this webinar from Whitney English and also worked through Lara Casey’s annual Goal Setting Series, using the Notes section at the back of my planner to gather my thoughts.

I'm also loosely color-coding my life, because it genuinely helps my brain. Using Whitney English's HEART Goals system and 5 Flair pens, here's what that looks like...

Here’s what I came up with…

I tried to make a list of traditional goals, but it didn’t quite work. I kept coming back to these big themes and questions that couldn’t quite be broken down into concrete, actionable steps. I kept finding little goals and projects that I wanted to work on, but that didn’t quite carry enough weight to be deemed a “2018 Goal.” There were small rhythms and routines I longed to cultivate that cropped up over and over again.

My vision for 2018 broke down to themes + questions, long term goals, short term goals + projects, and rhythms + routines.

 

Themes + Questions

1. "Where do I see truth, beauty, and goodness?"
As I travel far from where I grew up, both geographically and in terms of my Evangelical upbringing, it feels as if I am stripping my faith down to the studs to see what will hold. I am, as author Sarah Bessey says, making peace with an evolving faith. On the advice of a really good counselor, I am asking myself everyday where I see truth, beauty, and goodness.

It's not new; philosophers have been pondering the "transcendentals," as they are called, for literally thousands of years. In Christianity, these three things are seen as the essence of God and the ultimate desires of man. In his essay entitled “[CS] Lewis’s Philosophy of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty,” Peter Kreeft says...

"There are three things that will never die: truth, goodness, and beauty. These are the three things we all need, and need absolutely, and know we need, and know we need absolutely...For these are the only three things that we never got bored with, and never will, for all eternity, because they are three attributes of God, and therefore all God’s creation: three transcendental or absolutely universal properties of all reality."

For someone who is in the process of deconstructing her faith, the bedrock basics are everything. If you want to follow along with my daily answer to this question, head here.

 

2. Traveling Europe well
Towards the end of 2017, Hans and Banjo and I began our nomadic journey across Europe. We're housesitting from place to place, working online and looking after other people's animals. Traveling Europe had always been one of those "someday" dreams of ours, but it got pushed to the forefront in the wake of my Mother's death. We'd sold our home, we weren't rooted down in a careers or a community, and we are young and healthy. We figured there would never be a better time than now, and that life is too short to put off the things that are important to us.

We want to use this time WELL. This broadly means immersing ourselves in local culture, trying new foods/experiences/ways of living, looking after the homes and pets entrusted to our care, and documenting our memories along the way.

I've consistently gone back to this quote from Shauna Niequist's book Bread and Wine...even though we don't have kids yet...

“...we travel because it’s there. Because Capri exists and Kenya exists and Tel Aviv exists, and I want to taste every bite of it. We travel because I want my kids to learn, as I learned, that there are a million ways to live, a million ways to eat, a million ways to dress and speak and view the world. I want them to know that “our way” isn’t the right way, but just one way, that children all over the world, no matter how different they seem, are just like the children in our neighborhood—they love to play, to discover, to learn.

I want my kids to learn firsthand and up close that different isn’t bad, but instead that different is exciting and wonderful and worth taking the time to understand. I want them to see themselves as bit players in a huge, sweeping, beautiful play, not as the main characters in the drama of our living room. I want my kids to taste and smell and experience the biggest possible world, because every bite of it, every taste and texture and flavor, is delicious.” 
 

3. Strengthen + sweeten our marriage
Along with the adventure of traveling Europe together, this year is for Hans and I to re-establish who we are as a couple. Our marriage was struggling before my Mom died, and things didn't exactly get easier during the process of grief and upheaving our entire lives to move to be with my Dad.*

*this is a decision that Hans and I made 100% together. It's one of the few times the Holy Spirit told us the exact same thing at the exact same time, and we don't regret it a bit. The season of living with my Dad was bitter because of grief, but sweet because the two men I love most in the world ended up becoming really good friends.

The story of how we got here (the photo below was taken by our good friend Emma when Hans and I renewed our vows in October) is a long one. It involves fighting, leaving, coming back, counseling, the prayers of a lot of good people, hard decisions, hard love, and essentially yanking the emergency brake on our marriage so that we wouldn't crash.

It's a good story, and I'm so grateful it's not over.

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I'm also grateful we have this time together where it's just the two (well, three if you count Banjo) of us, far removed from everyone and everything we've ever known. It's making us rely on each other in ways in new ways, deepening our understanding of one another and our marriage, strengthening our love, and giving us memories that we'll still talk about when we're 80.

 

4. “Where is home?”
As I mentioned earlier, we don't feel particularly "rooted" right now. After we moved to be with my Dad, we briefly considered making our life together in my hometown, but it wasn't going to be a good fit...and that's okay.

As much as we love traveling, we also find ourselves wanting to put down roots. This dichotomous tension pulls at me as we wander the aisles of foreign IKEA's and put mugs away in other people's cupboards. It's something that author Tsh Oxenreider so beautifully captures in her book At Home in the World...

“Two opposing things can be equally true. Counting the days till Christmas doesn't mean we hate Halloween. I go to church on Sundays, and still hold the same faith at the pub on Saturday night. I shamelessly play a steady stream of eighties pop music and likewise have an undying devotion to Chopin. And perhaps most significantly: I love to travel and I love my home.” 

We don't know where we want to put down those ubiquitous roots. In many ways, America doesn't feel like home (for reasons that go beyond the current occupant of the White House) but we're unsure about living overseas. In short, we don't know...and that's okay.

 

Long Term Goals

1. Continue to pursue mental + emotional health
If I don't have these two things, all hell will break loose. My mind and emotions impact everything: my health, marriage, other relationships, work, and my general ability to be a functional human being. I owe it to myself and the people I love to be mentally and emotionally well. It's a lifelong process involving continual maintenance, but one that I am especially prioritizing in 2018.

This looks like...
- prayer + meditation
- journaling
- yoga
- reading
- finding + exploring my Enneagram type*
- regular periods of rest + retreat
- periodically touching base with my counselor back in the States
- cultivating life-giving daily rhythms + routines

* in 2017, I heard literally everyone from monks to stay-at-home moms talking about the Enneagram, so I figure it's time for me to explore it for myself

2. Manage our finances well
After my Mom died, basically all attempts at budgeting went out the window. We were survival mode. For about two months I got massages every week (and then every month-ish afterwards), because my body was wound tighter than a drum. I bought pretty things on the internet because it was nice to have something to look for in the mail other than sympathy cards and junk mail addressed to my Mother. Hans and I took a much-needed vacation because our marriage had been neglected (on both sides) and we were about to crash.

We made financial mistakes in 2016 and 2017, but my sanity and our marriage survived, so I ain't mad about it.

Now, we want to manage our finances well during this nebulous year of travel so that we have money for whatever is coming next. We want to build the life we want in the place we want, while still being wise and generous with our finances.

This looks like...
- tracking our expenses*
- meeting with our financial advisor on a regular basis
- spending less
- saving more
- exploring investment options

* right now we're using Spendee; we'll see if we stick with this particular app going forward

3. Write 50,000 words
Writing is one of my deepest gladnesses. Simply put, writing is life-giving to me. It's how I process the world around me, and it's something I have consistently been told I'm good at. (Should you, dear blog reader, not share this opinion, that's perfectly fine...my Mom thought I was a good writer, and that's enough for me) I want to hone and strengthen my writing abilities by cultivating the habit of consistently putting pen to paper.

I'm not putting pressure on myself to publish every single word I write, but consistently creating content for my blog is a part of this goal.

This looks like...
- butt in chair*
- writing
- writing, writing, writing
- reading 2-3 books on writing
- writing some more

* thanks Anne Lamott

 

Short term Goals + Projects

1. Get organized for 2018
This encapsulates basically all my goal-setting, planner prep, and obsessive color-coding.

2. Be confident taking photos with our DSLR camera
We bought a "fancy" camera right before leaving the States, and it scares me. I've practiced a bit, but I want to get more comfortable with it.

3. Create photo album "yearbooks" for 2013 - present
Considering Hans and I are approaching 5 years of marriage and I have yet to print our wedding photos, I'd say this is long overdue. I plan to put books together with Artifact Uprising, and hit "order" when they run a good sale.

4. Read 52 books
After 2017, I have a renewed appreciation for the healing powers of easy-breezy fiction. This year, I'm pushing myself to read books that grow and stretch me, while still giving myself permission to dive into novels. Follow along at #readwithrach.

5. Learn to bridge shuffle a deck of cards
I am embarrassed to say that I can't do this, but I've always wanted to learn!

6. Find my signature perfume scent...in Paris?
I have wanted to find my signature perfume scent for years. I want to find the perfume that feels as at home on my body as my wedding ring. Also? Scent is strongly linked to memories. Paris literally has a History of Perfume museum, so I figure that's a good place to start. 

7. Write more reviews and leave more comments
I'm so grateful for the people that make the podcasts I listen to and write the posts and books I read, and one of the most practical ways to say "thank you!" is to leave positive reviews of their work online.

 

Rhythms + Routines

These are the things I want to make sure I stay (roughly) consistent about on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, as well as a few things I want to do on a semi-annual and annual basis. I keep these organized with a mix of iPhone reminders and notes in my planner. During this year of travel especially, rhythms + routines will keep us sane!

DAILY
- "Morning 5" (water before coffee, vitamins, wash face, brush teeth, floss)
- ask Hans, "How can I make you feel most loved today?"
- meditate/pray
- yoga
- read
- write
- journal
- track spending
- get outside!
- use Clue*

* if you're a woman and you're not using Clue, consider this your formal invitation

WEEKLY
- do a face mask (I have this one currently)
- review monthly goals/projects
- check in with my goal buddy*
- prep planner for the week ahead
- meal plan + go grocery shopping
- quickly curate photos from the week
- clear my email inbox
- schedule blog posts

* in this dear group of friends, we're rotating through each other every 2 months for goal encouragement + accountability

MONTHLY
- take a day or an afternoon to just rest + unwind
- schedule a Skype date with a friend or two
- check the ladies
- "Marriage Meeting" with Hans*
- check my "Hard and Happy Days" calendar**
- review themes + goals
- record my running word count
- prep planner for the month ahead
- back up photos to Google Drive
- back up Notes***
- plan blog content for the month
- send out our travel newsletter
- send out my blog newsletter

* we touch base about our relational health, schedule, finances, goals, etc.

** I keep a digital calendar with recurring reminders for birthdays/anniversaries, as well "hard days" for the people I love so I remember to check in with them

*** the native iPhone Notes app is where I keep half my brain

EVERY 3 - 4 MONTHS
- check in with my counselor back in the States
- if possible, visit a spa to get a facial and a massage
- check in with our financial advisor
- brainstorm blog content
- digital declutter*
- make sure we're stocked up on toiletries, vitamins, etc.

* this means clearing out/organizing my Notes, Reminders, PocketPinterest, internet bookmarks, email folders, and unsubscribing from things that are no longer useful

EVERY YEAR
- go on a personal spiritual retreat*
- schedule a check up with my primary care physician and OBGYN**
- dream, hope, and plan with Hans
- set themes + goals for the upcoming year
- declutter clothes + possessions
- buy next year's planner
- print that year's photo album

* I did this in 2017 and it was literally (LITERALLY) one of the best things I've ever done for myself

** not entirely sure how this will work while we're traveling...

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Whew! That's a lot.

I confess...this post was just as much for me as it is for you. After roughly a year and a half of being in survival mode and not having particularly clear-cut goals, it feels good to have some structure and direction, and to have my rhythms + routines written out. Our circumstances will vary wildly this year...and these ideas and goals will probably change a bit, too. That's okay. I'm starting somewhere.

What themes, goals, projects, and/or rhythms do YOU have for 2018?

#NomadicNordgrens February Travel Update by Rachel Nordgren

#NomadicNordgrens February 2018 Travel Update

Hello, friends!

February was fairly quiet for us, which was a lovely change! As fun and exciting as travel is, it's also really nice to unpack our bags and settle into a routine. We've been looking after a small farm in Laz, which is in the Brittany region of France, near Quimper. There are 10 horses, 7 sheep (and three lambs that have been born this month!), a lovely dog named Harry and a super cuddly cat named Robinson. It's kept us pretty busy!

On to the photos!

1. Banjo frolicking through a nearby field after a storm left a gorgeous rainbow in the sky!
2. The Le Vast Cascades
3. Two brand new baby sheep! We've named them Nottie the Brave and Her Ladysheep Effie von Fluffenstuff III
4. The French version of a grocery store wine aisle
5. One of the lovely horses we've been taking care of!

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Most Interesting Things We've Done or Seen

Hans' favorite: chopping firewood for the wood-burning stove in our gîte, and sitting by the fire reading Seabiscuit by Lauren Hillenbrand and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Rachel's favorite: going horseback riding through the French countryside

Mutual favorite: taking care of baby lambs!

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Best in Food

We've eaten a lot of meals at home this month, like the one pictured above. However, at our AirBnB in Le Vast, our hosts Paul and Jenny graciously invited us to share a family meal with them on our last night. They invited a couple of neighbors, and we were treated to one of our favorite dinners of this entire trip so far! Paul and Jenny used to own a restaurant, so the food was excellent.

We had prawns roasted over an open fire, a goat cheese and pear salad with honey and balsamic vinegar, delicious risotto and fish that we think was called St Pierre, more varieties of cheese than we could possibly keep straight, Belgium waffles with a dark chocolate rum sauce for dessert, all accompanied by 5 bottles of wine. A decent portion of the evening's conversation revolved around the merits of various wines and cheeses because it's France.

It was a beautiful evening. We felt truly blessed by Paul and Jenny's hospitality and stellar cooking!


A Note From Banjo...

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I want 2 stay heer furever. Der are big doogs called "horsees" dat I lik to play wif. My hoomans wont let me chase dee sheeps and dat sux, but I lik looking at der fluffy bumz. I git to run and run and run with Harreey. But I want to chase dee sheep insteed. At nite we sit by dee fireplace and iss warms. Sometimes I eet hoorsee poo and my hoomans git mad. I wood stahp if dey let me chase dee sheep. I want to chase dee sheep. I need to chase dee sheep. Halp me chase dee sheep.


February felt deliciously slow, quiet, cozy. The farm was definitely a lot of work, but incredibly rewarding at the same time. Because I work online, it's always refreshing to reconnect with things that are tangible, solid, earthly. Although, because I work online, Hans ended up doing a lot of the tangible farm work, ha! But it was always a lovely and satisfying feeling to end our evenings together with our feet up in front of the fire, glasses of wine in hand, after delivering dinner to nearly two dozen animals and tucking them in for the night.

Do you enjoy slow-paced travel? Why or why not?

On Grief and Love by Rachel Nordgren

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Grief is the last act of love we can give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.

Grieving the loss of someone you love is, in its own way, honoring that person and the part that they played in your life. It is saying that they mattered, that you will miss them and that they deserve to be missed, that the loss is worthy of being felt fully.

In many ways, grief is also the inverted reflection of love. For the heights of love, there are the depths of grief. For every elated feeling of love that cannot be put into words, there is an equal and opposite feeling of grief that defies language, too. Love and grief are two sides of the same coin. Grief and love the dual halves of an elliptical orbit; as far as you travel on one, surely you will travel on the other.

Some dear friends of ours had their first child just a few months ago, and I brought them a meal soon after they got back from the hospital. In theory it was going to be a home cooked meal, but it was also a week before Hans and I were leaving for Europe, so I ended up sending Emma a text that said, “I'm admitting my limits and a home cooked meal just isn't in the cards, but takeout totally is! What sounds good?” and showed up with Chinese food later that night.

Sidenote: Food seems to be the answer to both immense joy and immense sorrow, you know? Shauna Niequist says it so perfectly in her book Bread and Wine, “Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us, when we don't know what to say, when there are no words to say.” Food is one of the most tangible ways we can show love to our people, in good times and bad.

I was snuggled into their couch, with their tiny sweet daughter Evie asleep on my chest, listening as my friends Emma and Jonathan told the story of Evie’s birth. Through an insane series of events, Evie spent her first night earth-side with Emma’s husband Jonathan, while Emma was in the ICU in a separate building. Jonathan stayed up all night with his tiny newborn daughter in his arms, solely responsible for her well-being.

Jonathan told me how his good friend Zach stayed up with him, mostly in silence, because no words could encapsulate the intense love and tenderness and gratitude…the sheer sanctity…of that night. He struggled to put it into words, and in an upside down sort of way, I understood why.

When a human being enters this world, the experience is holy and heavy and too much for words.

When a human being leaves this world, the experience is holy and heavy and too much for words.

There’s a reason that there are so many love poems and songs in existence; for eons, people have been desperately trying to capture the experience of love and fit it into kernings and serifs.

There’s also a reason that hardly anyone knows what to say when they hear someone has died; the experience of grief and loss is so deeply profound and painful that any words seem wholly inadequate.

Grief is, however painful, an act of love. When I gave myself permission to fully feel the grief of losing my Mother, I was also giving myself space to acknowledge and honor the deep love I have for her and the pain of losing all the love we had yet to share. 

Grieving said that the love mattered.

They say you know it ain't easy
I wouldn't want it to be
Cause ease is for the shallow
But we were from the deep


I don't want no distractions
Don't try to please me for one day
You are worth the joy, my love,
you are worth the pain


- Johnnyswim, Let It Matter