public declaration

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I get all kinds of excited when I discover initials carved into a willow tree, picnic table or sidewalk fence.  It’s romantic, yes, but it’s also a reminder that two people wanted the entire world to know that E+M= ♥.
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My camera swings around my neck when I’m hiking mountains, exploring neighborhoods, or simply trying a new restaurant.  When I spot initials, I have a ‘this is why I lug my camera around’ moment and snap snap snap away at the design.
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I’m smitten with simple gestures to public display affection, but, for all that sentiment, I’ve never left my own mark.  Perhaps more tellingly, it’s never even crossed my mind that I would spend time etching and scratching JP2=♥ .
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But why not?  I suppose the politically correct response is that I don’t want to deface public property or damage natural resources.  The more honest answer, however, is that I’m too busy taking pictures.
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Which makes me wonder: is carving initials into trees and sidewalks and benches a thing of the past?  Has our public declaration of love moved onto Instagram and Facebook, or are there still sweethearts securing sharpies to tell the world they feel?

Have you ever carved your name somewhere?

behind-the-scenes

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We take pictures to remember moments, but how do we capture inside jokes and ‘pinch-me-perfect’ feelings of joy?  
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Jon and I roadtripped across the painted desert, into the Navajo nation, and right up to the Grand Canyon.  We spent nearly 15 hours in the car, and we filled them with giggles and loud music and foreign languages and silly excuses to get out of the car.
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The scenery was more gorgeous and inspiring than I could have imagined, but my favorite memories are the jokes and the mis-turns and all the ‘behind-the-scenes’ action that made the trip an adventure.  All the memories that, unfortunately, cannot be captured on camera.
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Perhaps my blog is a place to record those memories?
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 If so, I never want to forget our accidental foray to Meteor Crater (the world’s largest impact!!), how Chuck’s Trail took us to Devil’s Bridge instead of St. Teresa’s Hill, or how we couldn’t find a restaurant that served anything we could pronounce.  
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I hope I always remember the quaint Italian restaurant covered in twinkling lights and the way we stayed in the hot tub while the stars sparkled above us.
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What is your favorite part of a vacation? Do you have a fool-proof way to make sure you remember your special moments?

nowhere to be

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We made our own rules and jaunted up, down, sideways, and around three times.  Crowds marched onward and upward while we searched for interesting rock formations, hidden caves and gorgeous views.  
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The original goal was to climb the mountain, but we got distracted by wildflowers about halfway up the trail.  After a bit of a chat and some yoga, we decided we’d rather have an adventure than climb to the top:
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Hiking sideways instead of upward (as advised) made me think about about life — it’s not about seeing how far you can go, but learning how to enjoy every step of the journey.  Pause every now and again to examine where you are and take in the goodness of the present moment — if you’re truly enjoying it, why not stay for a while? 
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love goes round

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“Girrrrl, you get around.”  Has anyone said that to you before?  Today was a first for me.  I was at the DMV getting my Minnesota license, and after the reviewer checked my information, he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said those somewhat creepy words.  More amused than angry, I wanted to know why I gave him that impression, and so I asked him what he meant.  His response? “Girl, you’ve lived in 5 states in 10 years — I’ve never seen that before – like I said, ya getta around.”

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When he took my picture, I was wearing my brand new ‘wifey’ tee, and he commented that I was “all around original with that t-shirt and all my travels.”  I left the DMV thinking about original t-shirts and, before you know it, I drove myself straight to the fabric store to make something uniquely me.
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What to do with the gorgeous greens and flaming reds and fancy florals?  A t-shirt that changes what you love based on where you stand:Image
Jon and I are going to Phoenix this Friday (just 2 days!) and I’m planning to get all kinds of use outta this top when I see my baby sister and my best friends.  Quick and easy way to show everyone the people and things I love, right?

take me with you

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All day long I’ve been thinking about home.  And not in a ‘home is wherever I’m with you’ sort of way. Oh no, today I’m thinking about getting away from home and going somewhere far, far away – all because Twitter told me to.

Would you do whatever Twitter told you to? Or is that the modern day equivalent of ‘following your friends right off a cliff?’

Thing is, Twitter seems to have all sorts of research and science and statistics to support the theory that people get happier the further away from home they travel.   Are we tweeting while visiting the Coliseum and climbing the Eiffel and swimming with the dolphins?  Or do we really just get all sorts of happy when jaunting somewhere new?
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Or, we could spin it all around and say that we’re more likely to be tweeting about our dislike for work and snow and traffic when we’re at home – and so, by comparison, we’re much happier on vacation?  What do you think?

Now, a blessing for my blog and a problem for my close friends: I love reading newspapers and magazines just as much as I love reading books and, in the thick of all that reading, I like asking people “did you know?” and “what do you think?” and “if this article says this and that book says that then can it be possible…?’
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And on that note, I just read a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research that lists the US as the only developed country that doesn’t legally require paid vacation.  If you’re lucky enough to get 2 weeks vacay from your job, well, you’re just that – lucky! It’s not required, which is unfortunate, because according to Twitter – we’re going be much, much happier if we get away for a fortnight or two (or three if you’re me).

But, then again, my little cousin made the happiest little igloo, and she seems pretty content in her home.  Maybe, like most things, it’s about perspective? I suppose some people are happier at home in their warm igloo than traveling here and there and everywhere.
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Side note:  Denmark pays employees more while they’re on vacation to cover travel expenses.  I might leave my igloo and move to Denmark for that kind of pay.

come sail away

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I was swimming in an aquarium and I couldn’t have been happier about it.  Striped fish puffed out and tri-color fish heaved in and small glassy fish sped past like tiny submarines.  When I got back to my beach chair, I told Jon that our next trip was going to be The Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  A classic tale of if If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
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Reflecting, I’m wondering if I should surprise Jon with a pet goldfish?  Just go to PetsMart or Petco or Aquarium World and come home with a friend no larger than a baby pickle?  Bring a bit of the tropics inside our Minneapolis apartment?

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I went to Caribou Coffee when we got home, and I thought it was timely that they had a chalkboard wall asking about dream vacations:Image
Can you guess what I added to the list? Hint: not Jamaica or Australia.  Coincidently, I read an article about the kindness of nations a few hours later, and it made me think the chalkboard was missing a few important places:
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I’ve never considered the kindness of a place when deciding where to vacation, have you?  I’m usually flying to visit my aunt (Chicago), sister (Phoenix), or parents (outside Washington DC).  When I do get to choose, I’m usually just lured in with dreams of sunshine and beaches and adventures and foreign things (and budget, of course).  What about you: how do you decide where to go on vacation?

sparks on screen

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A wander into the woods would be lovely.  If the light would sparkle through the trees and the breeze would blow through my hair, that would be a bonus.  Once I found a clearing I would take out my journal and, under a crown of trees, write my thoughts and doodle my ideas.  When my hand ached from writing, I’d simply lay and enjoy the sun on my skin.  

The sun on my skin is the most revealing part of that little reverie.  In reality, I’m home from my tropical vacation and staring out the window as the snow descends as quick as rain: none of that softly fluttering stuff over here.  It was so cold when we returned to Minneapolis that our tires were frozen to the street.  Can you imagine?  I should have stuck that Jamaican sun in my pocket.  
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All this rambling is getting me thinking: do we have a natural habitat that we instinctively crave?  Do you prefer the mountains to the sea or the woods to the city?  A mix of all things, perhaps?
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I mentioned yesterday that the beginning of our vacation was, well, comical.  The second day, however, brought what Jon calls my ‘Peter Pan smile.’  Background: there is a childhood photo of me grinning like Elf because I’m going to see Peter Pan on *ice.*  My family always tells me to do the Peter Pan smile, but when I swam with the dolphins, it came out all on its own:
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We wanted to get the classic ‘kiss pic,’ but I was squealing too much and couldn’t keep my eyes open – it was that good.  The rest of our day was spent exploring on foot, but we found all sorts of gems:
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meet me at sunset

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Murphy’s Law tells us that anything that can go wrong, will.  If we’re cautious, we follow rules and take pains to finagle a felicitous outcome. In my opinion, all that extra work — the pains and rule following — is a waste of time.  Thing is, according to the law, things will still go wrong. 

Jon and I learned exactly how Murphy’s Law works on the first day of our vacation.  
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The airline lost Jon’s luggage the first time he met my parents, and he ended up petitioning my brother and dad for clothes.  A believer that lightning actually does strike twice, we now only travel with carry-on bags.  Unfortunately for us, that means all sorts of responsibility for getting our suitcase through security, onto the plane, safely through a layover, and to our final destination.  Sort of the airport version of over the river and through the woods, right?

Or maybe it’s suppose to be more simple than that.  Most people seem to manage, right?  

Well, not us.
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A five-hour layover created all sorts of opportunity for dining, shopping, reading, working (Jon), and napping.  With all the commotion (do we seriously enjoy the airport that much? It’s possible) it’s easy to forget (or convenient when it’s so gosh.darn.heavy) the whereabouts of your luggage.
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The final boarding call for Jamaica rang out, and, with a look similar to Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, Jon and I realized that neither of us had our bag (that’s right, we shared one bag).  
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“Wait here, hold the plane, I’ll find it.”  Jon took off running.

Hold the plane?  Are people allowed to do that?  What do I say?  We lost the luggage?  
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A notice about how terribly illegal it is to leave unattended luggage in the airport rang out.

Luckily, Jon found the luggage in the first place we visited (four hours earlier) and made it back to the plane.  
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Our trouble didn’t stop there.  

It was pouring rain when arrived at the hotel, and, what’s worse, the resort restaurants didn’t have any last minute availability.  Hungry and adventurous, we took turns sneaking into a buffet-style restaurant and bringing plates of food to an out-door patio table.  Did we get wet? Yes, of course, but we also got endless laughs.  
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That night, we realized that Jon’s flipflops were broken and his swimsuit was too small.  He lamented his misfortune and I laughed some more.  

I went to bed thinking about how much fun it is when things go wrong.  When else can you exchange Macaulay Culkin and have a forbidden picnic in the rain?  With any luck, we would be kicked out of the hotel and spend the weekend camping or exploring foreign places.  
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no mountain high enough

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When was the last time you were so excited you couldn’t sleep? Just stared at the ceiling while your imagination ran wild with your plans for the next day?

I packed for our trip last night, and then I lay awake hoping the polar-vortex wouldn’t freeze the plane fuel and cancel our vacation.  I managed to convince myself that the freeze was unlikely (even though we’ve had negative temperatures for the past few weeks), but then I started making a mental list of everything I wanted to do in Jamaica.  Before long, I turned on all the lights and made cocoa and created an itinerary for the vacation.

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My personality is a bit of a mashup on the traditional type A and type B categories — I’m more of a mixed up alphabet.  Thing is, I’m a planner with a serious love for making lists (type A) but I’m absolutely fine when everything falls apart and nothing gets done (Type B.)   I want to explore the downtown and visit the caves and tour a lighthouse, but, to be honest, I’ll be happy if we never leave our beach chair.
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I’m also okay with only one or two things getting done –  I guess we could call that Type G or Type M personality?  Thing is, I like designing grand plans, but the goals are always more like nice ideas than necessary tasks.  It’s more about the destination than the journey, right?

When I found a comic of the popular Friedman & Rosenman personality study, my inner artist came out and made a third category:
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not the best artist.  Still, I think my doodling made the comic a little more inclusive.  Was it type C of me to make the change?  I wonder.

Anyway, what are you? Type A or Type B or something in between?

shades on, top back

in my suitcase

We’ll skydive from the plane and land below a waterfall and then swim away with the dolphins.  If I was 12, that little adventure would have knocked one, two, three things off my bucket list with  just one (very adventurous) day’s journey.

Thing about my bucket list, however, is that it seems to be a life-force of its own: constantly changing, growing and expanding.  Life experience prompts me to add new things to the list and, in a similar fashion, decide that other things are of less importance.

A bit of a thrill-seeker, I planned to skydive over the Alps when I studied abroad my junior year.  Well well well, the trip came and the adventure arrived, and I decided I’d rather go for a hike and make a picnic and read a book than sail through the sky (or I have a fear of heights – you decide).  To each his own, right?  And you know what, I was 100% okay with changing my mind — it took planning the trip to make me realize that I was okay with not experiencing every.single.little.thing.

The thing is, I try to get the most goodness out of the things that I do decide to pursue.  This world is large and the possibility for experience is endless, but if we make the most of the choices we make, the slice of life we are given, then it will be enough.  Do little things with great love.

Where is all this going?  Well, I recently finished The Light Between Oceans, and, as soon as I was done, I gave the novel 5 stars on Goodreads.  I also started thinking about the relationship of the lighthouse to character development (I’m a nerd), and, before long, I found myself longing to visit a lighthouse.  Lighthouse adventuring was added to the the bucket list just as easily sky-diving was removed.

And, good news: Jon and I made plans to visit a lighthouse when we’re in Jamaica next week.  I’ll be crossing 2 things off my bucket list while we’re there – the lighthouse is one, can you guess the second?
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