Just in time for Thanksgiving…I am thankful for this nomination and a chance to thank some bloggers who bring sunshine into my life.
When I was a little girl, my parents, sister and I ate every Thanksgiving at our grandparents’ house. Mama Lou was the most positive person I’ve ever known. I can still hear her singing to my sister and me, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey…” She was creative, loving, and fun. She took us on our first trip to Paris via her rocking chair. I am not always as positive, but I try to speak more from faith than fear.
Last month I was surprised and encouraged when I received a notification that I had been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. The nomination came from previous recipient and Sunshine Personified, Natasha, author of A Girl with Geography. I was even more thrilled when I read her story. Born in St. Petersburg (the most beautiful city I’ve seen) and currently living in Paris (sigh), she inspires not only travel but the expat life as one who has traveled 38 countries and changed her country of residence 5 times in the last 9 years. I appreciate her kind spirit, love of learning, and honesty about the challenges of finding work/life balance. Most of all, I love her commitment to living an authentic, happy life. Thank you for the nomination, Natasha!
Here are the rules for The Sunshine Blogger Award:
- Thank the person who nominated you.
- Answer the questions from the person who has nominated you.
- Nominate 11 other bloggers for this award.
- Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated.
- Notify the bloggers you nominated.
Below are my answers to Natasha’s questions—some tough ones. But first, here are 11 bloggers—some recently discovered and others old friends– who make my days brighter by celebrating life, radiating hope, and pursing their passions. Bloggers, I’d love to see your answers to the 11 questions at the bottom of the post (and yes, many of the questions I swiped from Natasha :).
- The Londoner–long-time fav blog on one of my favourite cities. I love Rosie’s recipes, style, and travels.
- Assortment/On Living Well–Carmella is a gifted writer. After the sale of my home last spring, reading her story of everyday blessings since downsizing to 665 square soothes like sipping tea.
- Kirstenalana.com Kirsten, American descendent of Swedish and Finnish immigrants, describes herself this way: “I’m a lover of culture and adventure…I’m a romantic and an optimist at heart.” Her photography is stunning.
- Travelling the World Solo–Ellen is a 20-something Aussie and trained midwife on a mission to go to every country in the world. Join her journeys.
- Gypsynester.com–Americans Veronica and David prove that the empty nest is a beginning to some of the best years ahead. Their sense of humour and adventures have won them rock star media attention. I’ll always appreciate blogging advice they gave me one night while trying to navigate a storm. Good people.
- ChefPaulette–New Yorker/now Nashvillean Paulette the Polymath is currently a celeb chef, painter, and performing artist. She has more accolades than I can list here (but will in a later post from an interview I did years ago). Everything she does is sunshine…pure gold…and I’m proud to call her a friend.
- Mosaic Road–With a photographer’s eye, a writer’s wit, and uber energy Kate Woods is an Australian blogger living in Marrakesh. She, too, is a dear friend, a chocoholic, and one of the most positive people I know. We hope to meet up somewhere in the world for a trip soon.
- Handmade in the Heartland –Angela is a designer, Supermom, and one of the most creative people on the planet. She recently was named Best Blogger in Kansas City–no surprise. A friend who makes me laugh and a tv celeb, should she decide to list yet another goal in her planner–to run for President in 2020– watch out America.
- France Travel Tips–I met Jan at the European Travel Bloggers Exchange a couple of years ago and was immediately impressed by her sweet spirit and sincere desire to build her blog and share her love for France. She is truly an authority on the country, having made 24 visits (and counting) there. If you need help with trip planning, she’s your girl.
- Girl with a Dog and Good Shoes–Adrienne Chinn, another friend I met in Morocco, is a writer, interior designer, educator, photographer and dog lover. Based in the UK, she is writing a novel I can’t wait to read; check out pictures of her garden and her haiku.
- Synnove Holt.com–As sure as Synnove moves nomadically from Norway to Marrakesh to the Sahara Desert, anyone who says in her presence, “I wish I could…” will get her signature reply: “Why can’t you? You can.” Though I’ve not attended one of her retreats, as her friend I can attest to her making you feel all things are possible.
Questions for Bloggers:
- For what/whom are you most thankful?
- What is your source for sunshine?
- What is your most important achievement thus far?
- What are you most passionate about achieving or learning in the future?
- What is the best advice you have on making a major life decision, such as career, family, moving abroad?
- What is the best advice you have for someone starting a blog?
- What is at the top of your Bucket List?
- If you could relive a travel experience, what would it be?
- What is the greatest risk you’ve taken? What were the obstacles and was it worth it?
- What is a book, movie, or quote that has changed your life?
- If you knew five years ago what you know now, how would you have lived differently?
Here are my answers to A Girl with Geography’s questions:
- What would you love to know 5 years ago that you know now? (As you can see above, that’s my all-time favorite.) I wish I had known five years ago (my son’s senior year of high school) that I would survive the empty nest and fly away to a new season of life, too. He was my younger child–his sister had already moved out– and I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with The Three Musketeers no longer under the same roof. I’d taught at the school they attended K-12. Though I had friends, family and work in Nashville, two years after he left I decided my house was too empty and silent, so I followed a dream I’d had for about a decade. I moved abroad. Since then I’ve lived in Morocco and The Dominican Republic and visited 11 European countries. That first Christmas I lived in Morocco my kids met me in London and we went to Marrakesh together—a holiday we’ll never forget. Nor will I forget the beauty and adventure I’ve experienced these last 2+years. Despite the challenges of living so far apart and, my children and I are as close as ever and we’ve all grown by learning to lean on God even more. I don’t know what lies ahead—which sometimes scares me—but I look back on all God has worked out and how far He has taken me the last five years and all is well and will be well.
- What was the one thing you were considering writing about multiple times but have not written yet? A memoir
- If you could speak any new language – perfectly, today – what language would it be? Spanish. I’m taking lessons but have a LONG way to go.
- What was one thing that surprised you about blogging? How therapeutic, fun, and important to me it would be. Also, I love that it puts me in touch with readers and other bloggers from around the world.
- What do you see as the most meaningful achievement of your life, to date? Being mom to Taylor and Cole
- What is the thing you regret not having done in past? Hanging in my apartment are these words, “In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” I truly believe that, so I have tried to push past fear and take risks to avoid regrets. I do sometimes regret not getting a PhD as a path to teaching full time at the university level, but I have always been passionate about a full time writing career and school didn’t seem feasible or affordable while raising kids, working full time, and writing when I could. I sometimes regret becoming a teacher because it can be a thankless job, but when I think of how blessed I was to have my children’s schedule to spend more time with them and when former students reach out and tell me I made a difference it their lives, I don’t regret my career choice. Likewise, I loved acting and writing (still do) but when I was in high school it seemed to mean moving to New York or California solo to “make it” and I wanted a family more than anything. Thankfully, it’s never too late to follow dreams; the hard part for me is knowing where to focus energy next.
- What is your most important objective, for now? I want to transition back to Nashville to be based near family and to do meaningful work based on my background in writing and education that will allow continued travel.
- If a day had 27 hours in it, what would you do with the extra 3? Write
- What are the three things (objects) you absolutely can’t do without? Bible, prayer journal, laptop
- What is the best life-work balance wisdom you have mastered by now?We work to live. We don’t live to work. I learned that from Italian, Spanish, and Latin American friends who speak of enjoying “The Life.” We need a balance of work, play, rest which is hard to achieve but necessary.I grew up an overachiever and still try to do my best at everything I do. When I started teaching, I worked summers, nights, and weekends grading and planning. This left me tired, frustrated, and not much fun. As a young wife and mother I tried to be perfect at work and at home which was exhausting and unhealthy. After my divorce I learned self-care and that my kids would remember quality and quantity time with me—not a spotless house. Research confirms we are more productive, creative, happy and healthy (emotionally, physically, spiritually) when we find balance. Having kids forced me to leave work at school. When they were little, we’d wheel into the driveway, jump out of the station wagon, and head for the swing set. Work must come second to relationships—with God, spouse, children, friends, ourselves. Most people I know work at least 40-50 hours per week. Though there may be periods where more time is required to finish pressing projects, most work will be there when we return the next day. People we love and our health may not be.