Following a Dream

The past few weeks since coming home from our last trip back to the States have been filled with deep soul searching. There’s something about going home, seeing all of my friends and family and being stuck in a car for long periods of time that takes me mind to a deep, thought provoking place.

I thought about all kinds of things ranging from when should we really have kids, to where we should move back to, to what fast food chain sounds the best for dinner that we can’t get in Germany and where my career is headed.

This last thought is a tough one for me. I’ve always been super driven, knowing what steps to take to get what I want from my career, which used to be an office with the words “CMO” written on my business card. Even before our move to Germany, I was questioning my career. I was growing tired of being in meetings all day long and following orders of someone I didn’t respect and working so hard to earn someone else money. I still loved marketing and working with creative people and my co-workers were fantastic, it’s not like I hated my life, I just didn’t wake up in the morning and feel excited about the day.

And when our move happened, my career stalled. I don’t want to say that it stopped, it just started to take a different direction. I wasn’t working for the first 4 or 5 months, which was nice but hard since I didn’t have any social interaction for most of the day.  I stayed in contact with my network and was able to land a part-time job in marketing and also work as an English teacher the days I wouldn’t be in the office. At first I really enjoyed teaching but I’m certainly not passionate about it. And my marketing job is only 12 hours a week, so it’s hard to really get full-on projects, but I am so thankful to have something in my chosen field.

Now that’s it’s been about a year since I started working both jobs, I have started to really think about what I want out of life now and in the future. I’ve had conversations with my mom, my sister, Vinn, and friends surrounding this topic and one thing remained clear: my future career involves writing. I just love putting my thoughts down on paper (or Internet, as it were). I don’t even care if anyone reads them, I just love writing. It makes me feel sane. I can process my feelings easier and I love sharing my experiences with other people. Being able to document our time living in Germany is honestly the biggest blessing. I don’t think I would be scrapbooking with paper and printed photos, so this blog is a great diary to take people along on this crazy ride.

And while I’m thinking all of this inner turmoil, a turn of events happened that brought everything into the light. My marketing job offered me more hours!! Basically, my current contract expires on June 30th and they were able to get me a contract that ends whenever Vinn’s contract ends and with 20 hours per week. I am very excited about this for several reasons: 1, I can start to feel more part of the team. Because I only work 12 hours a week and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I don’t get to attend the team meetings, so I have no idea what’s happening day to day, and 2, I can start to have a more precise schedule.

With more hours in marketing, I have now made the choice to stop teaching. My heart just isn’t in it and it’s not fair to the students to only be available to teach Mondays and Fridays, and both of these days are prime days to be away traveling for a long weekend. That’s not a great experience for anyone if I am rescheduling lessons at least once a month thanks to vacation.

So, this week, I gave my official resignation to my online teaching platform. And now I have two days every week to devote entirely to blogging/writing. I even signed up for a blogging mentorship program to help keep me accountable, provide me some insight into making this blog a success and to figuring out a strategy to growing it into a larger community.

It feels so great to type this. I feel very content with where everything is going. My schedule will now look like this:

Monday: blog

Tuesday: Marketing Job until 3 PM

Wednesday: Marketing Job until 5 PM

Thursday: Marketing Job until 3 PM

Friday: blog

Ah, structure! Before, I would have some classes mixed in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and they wouldn’t be consistent and sometimes they would be right in the middle of the day so I couldn’t really go anywhere too far for fear of being late to a class. I have so many ideas on what to post and am really excited for the future.

All in all, I think this post is more for me so I can remember what this felt like. I came to realize that if I want my future to be writing, then I should be writing. I should be spending my days focused on making that dream a reality. I’m no longer just talking about how much I want my career to be writing, I am taking the steps to actually make this happen!

What are some of your career dreams?

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Esslingen Wine Walk

Yesterday, Vinn and I went on quite an adventure with friends. We went to the Esslingen Wine Walk, or the Weinwandertag. It was the perfect recipe for a great day, wine, friends and gorgeous weather.

The Esslingen Wine Walk is a one-day event where the local vineyards of Esslingen (we went to the Esslingen Christmas market with my parents, in case you don’t remember) set up stands where they sell wine and food and then participants walk through the vineyards from stand to stand trying wine after wine. It started in 1983 and has about 6,000 attendees each year, which is insane to think about because the vineyards aren’t huge.

We met some friends around 1 PM on Sunday after a rough train experience, thanks to the Stuttgart soccer game, and were ready to start drinking immediately.

 

vineyard_stuttgart

 

The wine stands were full of people so our group decided to buy bottles instead of glasses to save time, which proved to be smart because it was actually cheaper in the long run. We each had a small wine glass attached to a lanyard type thing for easy walking through the vineyards. Although, it also made it super easy to spill. Oops! We all spilled at least once I think.

 

esslingen_vineyards

 

We first picked up a bottle of white wine and once we finished that, we headed towards our next stand. We hung out there for a little bit snapping pictures and sipping on rose before taking a snack break at the next stand.

 

vineyard_stuttgart

 

I had read online beforehand that stands run out of food and that it would be wise to bring food with you. So, I did just that. I packed a caprese salad, strawberries, prosciutto and some cheese, which we all shared at a picnic table. It was so nice to take a break from walking, the hills were quite steep, and eat.

 

vineyard_day

 

We made it to one more stand before we decided to head back to eat something more satisfying and realized the quickest way down was to walk through the vineyards. It was a little steep, but super fun to see the vines up close.

 

stuttgart_wine

 

vineyard_stuttgart

 

We said goodbye to everyone and then headed home on the train ready to snuggle with Copley on the couch. Vinn and I both fell asleep on the couch while watching Big Bang Theory because we were so tired from being in the sun all day.

All in all, it was a fantastic Sunday and I hope to do the Esslingen Wine Walk again. What did you do this weekend? 

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Friday Favs {May 19}

Thank Goodness it’s Friday, right? The first full week back from vacation is always hard and this week was exactly that. I’ve been super tired lately and spent this week thinking that Monday was Tuesday and Thursday was Friday. I absolutely hate when that happens. This weekend I am looking forward to some relaxing couch time, hard work outs, a dinner with some work colleagues and a wine walk through a nearby vineyard. It’s going to be a great weekend!

But before we get to that, I’m going to share my Friday Favs for this week.

Coffee shop reading

 

starbucks_coffee

 

There is something about coffee shops that make me want to go back to college and study for exams. But only the fun, marketing exams. Coffee shops also make me want to sit in a big, comfy chair with a good book and a decent latte.

Copley was getting a haircut and I had some time on my hands so I swung by Starbucks to read for about 30 minutes. This book, Dark Money, is extremely interesting but scary and I’ve had a hard time getting into it but I’m determined to finish it.

Copley’s new raincoat

 

cute_raincoat_dog

 

My mom got Copley this raincoat and it is great because it zips into itself, so it’s super easy to transport. I love the color and the little hood. And as my dad said, “It looks like she’s going to serve fish at Long John Silver’s.” This look didn’t last either because there are elastic strings that go under her legs and she hated them. She walked funny for a few steps and then she would just sit. It was hilarious. But this picture is amazing.

Little Venice in Colmar, France

 

little_venice

 

This weekend we went to Colmar, France and walked around the Little Venice area. IT was very small, like two blocks long, but super quaint. It really did look like Venice, there were even little boats like gondolas on the water.

I also just love the rows of colorful houses. This city is just so picturesque and I could seriously visit every month. The great thing is that it’s only a 2 hour drive for us.

I think that will do it for this week! What are you up to this weekend? 

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Life Abroad Q&A

Life in Germany is pretty darn awesome and whenever we go back to the States and we meet up with friends and family, we get asked similar types of questions. A lot of these questions are really good questions but I can’t think of a really good answer. Now that I have some time to think about my answers, I thought I’d put together a list of the questions we get asked most often with responses after I’ve had time to really think about it! If you have more questions, please leave a comment below.

 

questions_life_abroad

 

What do you miss most about America?

Taking out the obvious answer of family and friends, I miss Target the most. I know that sounds odd, but I really do miss Target. It’s the only place in the world where you can get a cute lamp, picture frame, bathing suits, food, wine, vitamins, make up, cards, anything I could ever want. My wallet is much happier, but there’s just nothing like Target. And I go every time we go back!

Starbucks drive-thrus. Or any drive-thru really.

Whole Foods, especially the hot bar and sushi. I would go to Whole Foods at least once a week for a quick dinner after working out or on a Saturday to grab a roll of sushi for lunch because Vinn doesn’t like it. I guess, I really just miss the food convenience. There are so many options for quick, healthy food in the States that just don’t exist here.

And on that note, I should also add Panera…and Chipotle because Vinn loves it so much!

Nordstrom. And their shoe department. I guess, shopping in general.

Carr’s crackers. A really strange thing to miss, but I have yet to find a delicious cracker for a cheese plate!

Brunch. More specifically, a boozy brunch with bottomless mimosas, Eggs Benedict and crispy bacon.  Brunch isn’t a popular concept here.

What do you wish America would implement from life in Germany?

The metric system. Seriously, why is America the only country that doesn’t use the metric system? I still have to think about what temperature it is when I hear it on the radio and couldn’t tell the doctor how much I weigh or how tall I am.

The work/life balance. Or maybe I should say the acceptance of vacations. Whenever someone is on vacation in Germany, no one even thinks to call him or her. People respect that holidays are necessary and should be relaxing. There is also a law where employees are not allowed to work more than 10 hours a day. If a person did work over 10 hours and got into a car accident on his way home, the company would be liable. The thinking is that you are no longer at your highest mental capacity if you work longer than 10 hours. I wonder if something like this could ever be implemented in the States?

The fact that small children walk to school by themselves. This is not the case in larger cities, but in our little town, kids walk themselves to school every morning. It’s incredible to see. These kids are probably in first grade and are trusted to make it to school on time! That’s really cool.

The value of learning another language. Children learn English very early in school and then are required to take another language once they hit middle or high school. Most people here speak at least three languages. That concept is lost in the States. You might take Spanish in high school, but that’s it. Vinn is lucky that he stuck with Spanish throughout high school and college, and then lived in Mexico for six months, so his Spanish is really good. We hope to teach our children Spanish when they are little and then they take German as their foreign language in school. It is such a gift. I guess that means I have to learn Spanish?

Are Germans nice? 

Short answer: yes. Long answer: for the most part, everyone we’ve come into contact with is super helpful, willing to answer questions and overall nice people. It is, however, difficult to make German friends. It takes a long time, stereo-typically, to cross over from acquaintance to friend in the German culture. But, overall, I have been very surprised with how nice everyone has been.

What’s been the hardest adjustment you’ve had to make? 

The language, hands down. It has definitely gotten easier over the past year and for the most part people speak English, but not being able to read something we get in the mail right away or not 100% understanding someone at work, on a walk or in a restaurant has been the biggest adjustment.

Getting adjusted to the fact that nothing is open on Sunday also took some getting used to. At the beginning, I would forget about it and then realize on Sunday that we didn’t have anything to eat for breakfast and be SOL. Restaurants are open so we don’t go hungry, but it took some adjustment to make sure to run to the grocery store on Saturday just in case.

What do you do all day if you’re not working? 

I go to the gym, write on this blog, take Copley for walks, meet friends for lunch, research vacations, watch Housewives, you know, I’m surprisingly busy. I really don’t know if I could go back to working full-time because I am enjoying working part-time and traveling and hoping to write a book. Life is good. If you’re interested in a more detailed post, here’s a day in the life post.

What’s the best place you’ve visited?

Oh man. Seriously, how can I answer this question? We’ve been to so many amazing places and I’m not sure I can pick one. But what jumps into my mind right away is  London. Although, Venice was pretty great.

Where are you going next? 

Milan, Italy! I can’t wait. If you’ve ever been, I’d love some recommendations.

Are you going to have a baby over there? 

Not sure. There are definite pros and cons to having a baby here but we just aren’t sure if now’s the right time. There’s also too much wine to drink.

When are you coming back? 

Again, not sure. Vinn’s contract is for three years, starting February 2016 until January 2019, but he has an option to extend the contract. We’ll see. It all depends on job opportunities back in the States and where we are on the family front like mentioned above.

Have a question about life abroad? Ask away in the comments! Or have you ever lived somewhere totally different from where you grew up? What was that like?

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Going Home…Or is it?

As I mentioned on Friday, Vinn and I spent two weeks back in the good ol’ USA to see family and friends, work a little bit and, of course, celebrate the wedding of my best friend. I wouldn’t exactly call this trip relaxing because we were in three states and coordinating time to see as many people as we possibly could, but it was a great two weeks with memories that will last forever.

This past trip was the trip where I realized that I no longer live in America. Everything looks pretty much the same, Target is still as glorious as it’s always been, but it was different. am different. I noticed how big the highways really are and commented every time we saw a huge SVU because I haven’t seen a Yukon in ten months. I noticed how expensive eating out really is! In Germany, we can go out to a nice dinner with several alcoholic drinks and spend less than 100 Euro. In Michigan, an average meal with one drink per person is at least $100. Germany wins in that regard. Silly little things like that I became more conscious of. And so much Mexican food was consumed because it just isn’t the same over here. Of course, seeing friends and family we just jumped right back to where we left off and being able to communicate with anyone and everyone is certainly easier, but I didn’t feel as “at home” as I have in the past. It’s kind of like when you come back to your parent’s house after your first semester in college. It’s still your room, your house, your family, but you feel different. Maybe a little more grown up, a little more aware of your surroundings, but oh so happy to be there!

We spent our time in Michigan with some great friends that we haven’t seen since we moved and got to see their new house, eat some of our old Michigan favorites and then hung out with my sister who flew in from Atlanta.

 

detroit_mi

 

We went to the Tigers game, which was really fun! Eating a hot dog, an actual hot dog and not a brat, was the highlight of the game for me. Nothing in the world like a ballpark frank, am I right? And then we shopped our little faces off. We have officially crossed over to Europeans because the clothes are so much less expensive in the States as opposed to Germany. I left with a pair of jeans, a dress, an entire Lululemon outfit, a pair of shoes and Kendra Scott earnings. Vinn was the big winner of the trip with three pairs of shoes and three pairs of jeans. He hasn’t bought any clothes in like six months, so he was definitely due.

 

baseball_games

*This was one of several attempts at a selfie. This one turned out ok, actually! 

After Michigan, we drove seven hours to Milwaukee so we could spend time with Vinn’s parents and some of his friends from high school. It was great to be in Milwaukee again and to go to our old stomping grounds from college and the first few years of adulthood. I went back to the hotel spa where I got ready for our wedding to have a glorious hour massage. I really should get those more often!

We said our goodbyes after three days in Milwaukee and drove to Chicago to spend time with the bride and groom before their big day! We also saw my cousin who goes to college in Chicago, which was super nice. Megan and I went to SoulCycle and got our nails done, while Vinn ate Chipotle two days in a row. That guy just loves Chipotle. We had dinner at RPM Italian, an all-time favorite, with Megan and Sebastian and Jenna and Jason, another best friend from college and her husband. The dinner did not disappoint and the company wasn’t half bad either.

 

chicago_friends

*A stop at Eataly is always required. 

 

chicago_italian

 

celebrating_chicago

Then we drove out to a Chicago suburb for the rehearsal and the wedding. We got to see my parents since they were invited, as well. Getting ready for the wedding with girlfriends is always a favorite part of the day. Everyone just sitting around, watching Housewives, drinking champagne and getting our hair and makeup done is such a bonding experience. The wedding itself was absolutely beautiful and Megan has never looked more stunning. The reception was spectacular, with the best playlist that has ever existed at a wedding and a father of the bride speech that will go down in history.

 

best_friend_wedding

Tears were shed when we said goodbye to everyone on Sunday. When you have such an epic weekend and you remember how much fun everyone is, it’s so hard to part ways. But we will always have the memories and the remembrance that distance may be felt, only in miles, but never at heart.

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