Love of Traveling…

I love traveling.

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Seriously, short or far, driving, the train, or flying, I love traveling. Even the obnoxiousness of delays, weather, unforeseen obstacles, I love the unknown adventure that comes with traveling.

I think my love for traveling is why I miss Europe so terribly every day. Seriously, I think about my two-week trip to Europe every single day.

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I replay conversations had with one of my best friends…
Cable car of death

I remember amazing food… and some.. not so fabulous food.
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I laugh to myself about funny conversations, signs, experiences, reactions etc…

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I miss exploring, and walking until I have cankles, and getting to just play and experience something entirely new that I had no idea existed, or had on my bucket list to cross off.
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I love seeing things that take my breath away.
High ceiling

I miss having nothing to do but talk about anything that comes to mind whether serious, silly, ridiculous, precious, touching, memories, heartaches.. all of it.
Venice

I even miss the crazy adventures that were inadvertently created trying to lug everything around from city to amazing city.
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Every single day I miss it.

But, mostly, right now I think I miss how my heart felt traipsing around Europe. I felt full, excited, loved, like God and I were connected, and as though my partner in crime understood me perfectly. For the very first time in my adult life, I had the chance to take a real vacation and just relax and let my mind not think about work or school for an extended period of time. I was able to just focus on the things in front of me, not the things I had to do tomorrow or checking things off my to-do list… I was able to use the time to process through hurts and bounce thoughts off of someone repeatedly as I worked through them over the course of the couple of weeks. I had the chance to look through my camera lens and be creative and see beauty.

Taking Pictures

Barcelona sunrise

Life just looks different when you purposefully look for beauty.
I want to do better at purposefully looking every daily.

Classic Paris

And, we laughed. All the time, every day.

I will often find my heart suddenly transported back to the feelings I had when I see pictures of (any of) my trips… Such as, I will once again find my heart full of thankfulness to God for allowing us to see the sunrise on a completely cloud covered morning.

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While I realize, that sometimes it may just be that it is easier to miss something purely because it was fun and great, and I am in full on hatred mode of winter right now… (since the snow pile in the driveway is taller than me…) But, in reality most of my sentiments are not really a new feeling, every single day since getting back, I have thought about my trip to Europe. I will find myself going about normal activities, and things I learned will bubble to the top of my mind to be mulled over again, conversations we had will replay in my head, people we talked to will spring to mind, and all of the time we were able to just be together and be friends; it was exactly perfect.

I think that the beauty I see in traveling, the experiences that follow me for the rest of my life, and all of the things that I find myself learning and going back to for such a long time add to my love of it all.

I could talk endlessly about all of the things I have learned and the ways that traveling has changed me, but it would be better conveyed over a cup of coffee in person.

Although, in reality, sometimes the learning takes place while you travel will show up in the form of just fun trivia… Like seeing a scene in a movie (Now You See Me) and knowing that the place does NOT actually look like it is depicted on the movie.. therefore it is a set.Lock.KiraLock.MeLock.Both

And, like the one time I was thumbing through a “100 things you must see before you die” book and seven of them I saw on my trip ONE trip to Europe, and three others I had seen on other trips… (And, I even think that some of my pictures were better than in the book!)

I have now experienced two types of travels: Travels to help others, and travel for the sake of fun. Either one is great and honestly life changing in different ways, but both serve a wonderful and unique purpose. I love each type of trip.

All of these things, and so many more are what continue to grow my love of traveling, and why it will always hold a special place in my heart unlike anything else.

Frustrations About Race Talks…

I have a love hate relationship with the current dialogues about race, discrimination, and racism going on right now in the media and among friends.

What you read below is a random splattering of thoughts on the issue. They are not all connected to each other, and are thoughts based off of discussions I have been a part of, heard, read, watched, and my thoughts in response to them. These thoughts below are in response to every side of the discussion because I have friends from every perspective.

To give some understanding of myself first.. I am from Michigan (grew up in the Metro Flint area), I have lived in Ohio (briefly), the south, the Metro DC area, I have traveled to many areas around the country and several countries in Africa, East Asia, a couple Central American countries, and European countries.

Please note before you get into this post, I am most certainly not intending absolutes in what I say, these are my experiences and perspective alone. I have (a few or a lot of) exceptions to virtually every thought and frustration below. My thoughts are in reflection to the entire discussion as well, not to one or two things said by people.. Please read below with a thoughtful and compassionate voice, not anger or argumentative one.

Good luck reading my rambling!

I find myself so incredibly frustrated at every side of the “discussion” on race, discrimination, and racism.

I am frustrated because (all) people do and say terrible things for a slew of stupid reasons.

Maybe I’m frustrated me because I am a white woman from the north.

Maybe I am frustrated because I have traveled around the world and have seen and experienced what this topic looks like through the eyes of so many people from all walks of life that I find the discussion often frustrating, ignorant, and shallow.

Maybe it frustrates me because I (personally) have seen and experienced more women (of any color) discriminated against than blacks in America. (I am not saying it does not happen, just that this is my personal experience)

Maybe it frustrates me because I have seen Africans (in various countries in Africa) hated and treated horribly, and it’s awful.

Maybe I’m frustrated because people are people, no matter how they look. Individuals all have good and bad and beauty and personality and preferences and understanding and experiences and many times that is all boiled down to what “group” you are supposed to fit with.

Maybe it frustrates me because when I try to engage in a conversation to gain perspective, my thoughts on race are dismissed because I’m on the “white side” of “privilege” and therefore my understanding boils down to my skin color too instead of my experience and knowledge.

Maybe it frustrates me because my parents are in an interracial marriage, but because both their skins are white everyone dismisses it.

Maybe I am frustrated ’cause I find darker skin tones more attractive and that instantly puts me in a group to be hated upon.

Maybe I am frustrated because American culture tries so hard to make mixed people choose sides… (ps. They are the prettiest people!)

Maybe it frustrates me because I see so much hate and absurd things said on every side of this issue and I just want to facepalm people who refuse to listen and gain perspective.

Maybe it frustrates me because I have watched more of my “white” friends try to seek out diversity and understanding while some of my “black” friends say “that’s right, you should” instead of also seeking out diversity and understanding.

Maybe I am frustrated because some of my white friends are clueless.

Maybe I am frustrated because I don’t understand the issue at all because some of the people I look up to the most and have learned the most from are not white Americans. They are some of the most well-rounded people I have ever met and I want to be like them.

Maybe it frustrates me because I want true authentic dialogue, not just to be accused of having privilege or being racist or ignorant or for having been born white… I can’t do anything with those accusations, but I can change what I am educated with and so can you.

Maybe I am frustrated because personal experience is belittled and trustworthy news sources are held up as the reliable sources when it comes to the topic of race, discrimination, and racism.

Maybe I am frustrated because in America, the vast majority of people (everyone) are melting pots… even the African-American community is a melting pot… Don’t believe me? Go to any country in Africa or the Islands, they look entirely different, and in some places even kill each other for being from a different tribe.

Maybe I am frustrated because there has been a clear confusion between dislike and hate.

Maybe I am frustrated because I watch “race” being pulled in as a factor more often than it should (from all sides), instead of identifying the hate or actions of people as being just that: Hateful.

Maybe I am frustrated because I get judged for my opinion on race simply due to my skin color too.

Maybe I am frustrated because people on every side love to claim discrimination or a lack there of while they take the media to be accurate and reporting the whole story.

Maybe I am frustrated because racism still exists, but now it is tricky because every side expresses racism.

Maybe I am frustrated because avoidance, dislike, or ignorance is not actually racism at all… doesn’t make those things right or wrong, good or bad (depending on context), but it does not make them racism either.

Maybe I am frustrated because I just don’t understand, why does this need to be an issue? People are people, God made you, beautiful and perfect, and sin ruined us… I wish we could just move on everyone.

Maybe I am frustrated because racism and discrimination won’t entirely go away ever, until after Jesus returns.

And, I’m frustrated cause I am fairly certain there will be freaking out and anger in response to this post… Although, I really hope not, I would love for this to be a time of seeking to understanding and dialogue instead.

Experiencing Culture…

Recently I spent two weeks in Europe. I went to Barcelona, Spain, Paris, France, and Venice and Rome, Italy. It was my first real vacation as an adult.. No, really, usually I take extended weekends, but never two weeks to give myself a break from life. This particular trip was to celebrate completing and graduating from a double masters degree program!

Soon, I will post on the different aspects of the trip, but really, right now, I just wanted to take some time to highlight culture.

I love culture, regardless of the type, it fascinate me. Gender, regions, countries, familial, schools, work, etc.. all have specific cultures that are associated with them. Sometimes they are so subtle you never really feel as though you encounter a cultural difference, and then other times, it feels like hitting a brick wall at 350mph… Then, there are a few times when hitting culture shock is much more like clipping your shoulder when trying to cut around a corner too sharply, not particularly painful, but it causes a certain degree of bounce-back, and sometimes bruises.

What was interesting about my recent travels is that the culture I encountered was for the most part what I expected, there were small instances here and there that were unexpected, and even intriguing, but what shocked me the most is (and actually has always been) the return home.

I think the biggest reason I am always stunned by feeling as though I end up getting culture shock when I return home is that it is just unexpected. I expect to experience culture shock when I travel, but I am somehow always lulled into forgetting that I will likely experience it coming home.

This time, I was literally overstimulated and overwhelmed when we landed in Atlanta for our couple hour layover. I suddenly could understand everything being said around me, and then to compound it, there were hundreds upon hundreds of people talking everywhere we went! I found myself actually trying to listen to all of them because I could understand everything being said.  I felt like a child who was overwhelmed and just wanted to cover my ears and squeeze my eyes shut.

It took my brain a solid four days before I stopped feeling odd that I could understand everyone around me. I think this time, while not the longest trip I have taken to a place where I could not understand those around me, it was mentally an entirely different trip. I allowed myself and my brain to wind down and relax, so as we walked around for hours upon hours every day, I did not need to communicate or understand most of what was being said around me. So, instead my mind wandered, and prayed, and rested, and was entirely present. Whereas normally, I am planning, thinking, strategizing, praying, rehearsing, replaying, planning, and basically anything that needs to be paid attention to, I work to pay attention.

What feels odd is that, there are times that I feel like my mind has not kicked back into full gear yet, despite the fact that I have been home for almost a month already. I end up feeling more than a little frustrated that I have not found my normal stride once more. Then, there are other times that, I am so beyond thankful that my mind figured out how to create space to just be present, pray, think, and relax.

I have no idea if I am the only one who experiences this type of culture shock, but it has happened enough times now that I think I have to admit soundly that returning home is always the bigger culture shock to me. Each time I come home the culture shock is different, sometimes it is the noise level, other times it is being able to understand the people, and once it was the sheer amount of visual stimulation and amount of luxury. Each time I come home, I realize how blessed I am, but how much I actually enjoy gaining perspective on the world and myself.

Cultural differences in and of themselves are not bad things, and in fact, I actually think they are good things because they force us to often look at what we see as normal and determine if our normal is actually good or right itself.