The City of Lights and Love: Paris, France.

 

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“There is a perpetual anticipation when you turn a corner that something wonderful is waiting to be discovered. It may be true love. It may be a marble sculpture. Or it may just be the perfect espresso.” -Elaine Sciolino

Falling in Love: Dan’s Version.

So there I was waiting for Jenny to message me. According to her, she was supposed to land around 11am and we were going to get together. I was super excited because it had been over three years since we last saw each other. Before I knew it though it was 6pm and I thought to myself, what the hell? I thought at first she didn’t want to hang out with me but I decided to message her and see what was going on.

Of course, in true Jenny fashion, she answered and said, “Oh you actually wanted to hang out? I thought you meant sometime over the next three years.” I said, “No you knucklehead, get dressed. I’m on my way.” So I pulled up and there she was standing outside her hotel in a beautiful yellow sundress. I remembered her being beautiful but I was blown away at how amazing she looked. We hugged and talked for a little bit and I took her to my house. We shared a beer and caught up and after a bit I took her back to her hotel. Little did I know that would be the last night we would spend apart from each other. The next night I told her to come stay with me (just as friends) because her hotel was, for lack of a better term, crappy.

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(It was a rainy Sunday in August and I remember it so vividly, like it was yesterday. Dan and I were eating brunch at a favorite place of ours. {We are head over heels in love with their Nutella croissants and espresso.} He looked across the table and asked “Do you want to go to Paris next weekend?” I’m pretty sure I almost dropped my coffee I was so excited. Visiting Paris has been a long time dream of mine and we were going to do it… five days from that moment. He snapped this photo of me because I seriously couldn’t stop smiling I was so happy. )eiffeltowerdanjenny
Our first activity we did together was go to the gym everyday. Jenny told me she wanted to get whipped into shape and she wanted me to be her trainer. I don’t think she was ready at all for the pain I was about to put her through. She didn’t realize that I have a completely different personality when I am the gym. My motto in life is work hard and play hard, so I work out hard in the gym and my reward is to relax on the weekends. A couple days into our gym trips I was really starting to like Jenny. I enjoyed spending time with her and to be perfectly honest I loved watching her workout. In all our previous conversations Jenny had said that she was always attracted to jerks. So one day I decided to take on that persona in the form of her trainer and see how she would respond. Since I never act like that, she immediately knew something was different. I was being extra hard on her at the gym. I wasn’t being mean per say but I was having her work out harder than usual. Then she asked me why am I being such a douche (this is a favorite expression of hers, it’s basically a form of affection). I said “I thought you liked jerks” and I winked at her. She smiled and laughed and I could feel real chemistry starting to develop.

Over the next couple weeks, we spent everyday together and traveled all over. We took day trips to Frankfurt (for Chipotle obviously) and went to visit my Aunt in Nuremberg. I never imagined things going any better than they were. She was such an amazing and interesting woman and I seriously felt like the luckiest guy in Europe. She had made a list of her top 5 travel places that she wanted to visit and Paris was at the top. I knew we would make it there eventually but I didn’t realize the perfect opportunity would present itself so soon.

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I got a random Facebook message from my lifelong friend Jimmy. He mentioned that him and his fiancé Sara were coming over for a four day weekend. They were going to look at venues for their upcoming wedding and that he wanted to get together. Jimmy has always been such a close friend of mine, even though he was always “Eric’s friend.” Jenny asked me to describe him and I had the perfect thought. When Jimmy wanted to do something serious or just hang out, he would call Eric. When Jimmy wanted to get in trouble or do something stupid, he called me. The memories Jimmy and I have made will last a lifetime and I couldn’t wait to introduce Jenny to someone I care so much about.

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When we got there we checked into the hotel and shortly after Jimmy and Sara came to meet us. It was such an awesome feeling being able to see those two and spending the day with them. From walking up the Eiffel Tower to bar hopping, it turned into one of our classic amazing nights. All I can say is that when Jimmy and Sara tie the knot in Paris, that will most definitely be a night we will never forget.

-Daniel

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48 Hours in Paris

We looked into taking the Ice train to the city but due to the time crunch the tickets were really expensive so we ended up driving instead. It’s pretty common in Europe for most people to be on vacation for the entire month of August. The traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as it normally is according to the locals. We stayed at Hôtel Le Relais Saint Charles in Paris. It was located about half mile from the Eiffel Tower. I was surprised with how friendly the locals were to us.

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Shortly after we checked in Jimmy and Sara surprised us by knocking on our hotel room door. We had such an amazing time walking around site seeing with such a fun couple. We walked to the second landing of the Eiffel Tower…. YES… we took the stairs. 42 flights of them according to my iPhone app.

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The view of the city was the best. Since we didn’t have time to see absolutely everything we wanted to… seeing much of the city from up high was really cool!

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My favorite view was from behind the fountain with the statue below. There were tons of kids (and adults too) playing in the fountain and swimming because it was outrageously hot that day.

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It was such a blessing getting the tour of the city from someone that is actually from the area and can speak French. Sara knew all of the cool places to see and took us to a wonderful cafe near Notre Dame de Paris cathedral. From the stained glass to the uniquely designed architecture it was gorgeous.

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(I was just learning how to use my DSLR camera but I loved how this turned out 😉
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We ended up spending the rest of the night in an Irish style bar near our hotel. Dan had “just one more beer” about 5 times because sometimes when you’re with people you love it’s just too soon to say goodbye just yet.

When in Paris… take the stairs.

Love,

Jenny

 

Ps. Happy Valentines Day!

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Show me how BIG your Brave is: Boulder, Colorado

In light of the recent Super Bowl Champs… I had to give credit to the Broncos. Their defensive line played an outstanding game (at least the parts I watched anyway.) Let me tell you, watching the Super Bowl at 1 in the morning makes it more of an intermittent napping party in sweat pants especially when you’ve worked all day. However, since they won I figured my next post should be about Colorado. What a beautiful place! It’s even better that it’s completely appropriate to wear lululemon/workout clothes EVERYWHERE you go. If i’m not working, 95% of the time you’ll find me in lulu so I could totally be a local there. I love that fitness seems like such an obvious part of the culture. So why did I go? To surprise my sweet friend Sophia…

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Let’s Back up a minute…

25. Twenty Five. Dang that was a hard year for me. Have you ever woken up and realized you’re not living the life you’ve always imagined you would? Have you heard your own voice and realized the words coming out are not what you WANTED or NEEDED to say? The moral of my story is that: Life is hard. Life is messy. Anyone who tells you that it isn’t, is a big liar. They are most likely trying to make you believe everything in their life is perfect. Here’s the shocker… no one’s life is perfect. Call it a quarter life crisis if you will. To me it was a realization that you don’t have to keep moving on the same path if you’re heading in the opposite direction of where you really want to end up in life. I learned very quickly that I was too educated, determined and stubborn to be content with unhappiness.

So I made big changes in my life. I moved fearlessly in the direction of my dreams. Was it hard? ABSOLUTELY. Did I doubt my decisions? Occasionally along the way but I had to trust that I was doing the right thing. When you go through chapters in your life like this one, you truly find out who is on your team. Who is going to love you through both your good AND bad decisions. Who is going to love the best of you and the worst of you. Once again I leaned on the friends that are practically sisters to me. I also listened to songs on repeat (like Brave by Sara Bareilles, not an artist I usually like but what an amazing song). I read a bunch of books. I’ve always loved to read so it’s really that I needed a reason but I found it was soothing.

If you haven’t read Wild by Cheryl Strayed you should! That girl was a hot mess with all the chaos going on in her life. And yet… I couldn’t blame her for coping in all the wrong ways. In a sense I felt like I understood her pain and suffering. One of my favorite quotes from her book was this one.

“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.” -Cheryl Strayed

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Traveling to Colorado was a breath of fresh air for me. Literally, it felt so clean and running there made my lungs burn like I had never imagined they could. It awakened a part of me that was numb and for the first time in a long time I saw over the edge. I saw the bright future ahead that I would build for myself. These women pushed me to be brave. They brought out the best in me and listened to me cry when I needed it most. Standing on the edge of this mountain I knew everything was going to be better than just okay… It was GOING to be fantastic.

“Let’s go for an early morning run and hike. It’ll be fun.” she said….11 miles later….

Now I only agreed to this nonsense because Sophia woke Katie and I up with steaming hot mugs of our favorite Wild Mountain Blueberry Coffee. After she bribed me with coffee, I drug myself out of my warm bed and laced up my running shoes. Keep in mind we had to run to the staring point of the hike… so my lungs were literally on fire.

Elevation: 5,430 Feet

When they say the air is “thin” up that high… what they mean is you’ll feel oxygen deprived… like you’re dying. Eventually, we watched the sunrise as we finished the grueling hike to the top.

 

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Boulder Colorado Sunrise
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Katie, Sophia and I getting a much deserved cup of Froyo at Spooners.

Surprise

About six months later, I made a second trip to Boulder. I wanted to surprise Sophia at work. She was as a manager for Lululemon (you can see why my obsession with lulu started to grow) and I knew she had to work the day I arrived. So I coordinated with a few of her coworkers to make sure she had the weekend off (but was still on the printed schedule to “work”). I walked into her work with flowers and she looked up and greeted me. She did a double take and was shocked I was actually standing in the store with her. The smile on her face made the trip so worth it!

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I told her the rest of the girls and I had planned to get together in Colorado Springs the next day. It was just after christmas time so we decided to meet for dessert and cocktails at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. It was gorgeous and the cream brûlée was just perfect!

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Catrina, Kala, Sophia and I at the Broadmoor.

I spent a few more days in Boulder with these girls and it made me miss our weekly running and breakfast dates in North Carolina so very much! I am so thankful for the women in these pictures. They push me to be a better person every single day.

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Sophia, Kala and I.

Overall, I would highly recommend visiting Colorado when you have the chance especially if you’re a fan of the outdoors. Don’t get me wrong… hiking, running, biking it’ll all be harder at that elevation. But from my experience, the view was always worth the climb.

Love,

Jenny 

 

ps. I almost forgot. Sophia, Mike and I went to this outrageously good brunch place (after she almost killed me at her crossfit class). Coffee is by far the fastest way to my heart!

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Let’s talk Savannah, Georgia

Wow. Just mentioning Savannah in my last post brought back so many memories. The first thing that came to my mind was GIRLFRIENDS. I honestly think God blessed women with girlfriends so they can laugh, drink red wine and dance until sunrise with their favorite people on earth. I’ve gone to Savannah a bunch of times mostly because of it’s close proximity to where I lived in both Georgia and North Carolina but also because one of my very best friends lives there. Here I’ll highlight my favorite moments.

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The first time I went to Savannah I went with a big group of friends. We were in our early twenties and could drink until 4 am, take a two hour nap and get up and run six miles during the sunrise. (see picture below… because thats exactly what I did.) Ohhh how I miss those days. One of my biggest power partners in life Ashleigh invited me to go with her and a bunch of our mutual friends for a long weekend on Tybee Island. By power partners… I mean the girls at the gym that are so incredibly fit… you hate them just a little bit… but you’re friends so it’s okay for her to be a million times stronger and faster than you. We spent so many days in North Carolina lifting weights, swimming, running, doing cross fit and making healthy meals together. Power partners are seriously my favorite kind of girlfriend. They push you far beyond your comfort zone and are ALWAYS rooting for you. These are the confident, driven, outrageously intelligent, beautiful women that I surround myself with and I can’t  imagine living life without. Y’all know who you are..

A few cool things about this trip:

  1. I had just gotten my first tattoo. So I reapplied sunscreen WAY more than I normally do. Which is probably why it was the first trip I didn’t get sunburned. Also I would highly recommend NOT getting your first tattoo on your ribcage… It was miserably painful you can tell by the picture below. It’s so red because I bled SO much!
  2. Three of us were floating about waist deep on inter tubes. I saw a few fins in my peripheral vision (immediately the tune from JAWS started playing in my head).. all three of us sprinted to the beach… just to find out 30 seconds later they were just dolphins.
  3. I wish I was as fit now as I was during this trip! See those Abs…. I should call them Abs by Ashleigh! That girl pushed me so hard in the gym I felt like I was going to throw up after every workout. Ashleigh… hurry up and move to Europe so you can be my trainer 🙂

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A Savannah Sunrise
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Savannah Take 2

A bunch of my ICU coworkers wanted to run the Savannah Rock and Roll half marathon. So naturally we decided to take the Slow ride pub crawl, bike pedaling tour and see all the cool bars and hydrate prior to our race. Thankfully we all finished our half marathon that weekend and had a wonderful time. We also did a lot of shopping down town. One of my absolutely favorite stores—> Savannah Bee Company is located in downtown Savannah. If you love tea as much as I do… I’d highly recommend you try their different honey’s (their Tea Honey is my favorite because it’s subtly sweet… and not overwhelming). They also have amazing Royal Jelly Body Butter and Beeswax hand and nail salve that will change your life if you wash your hands as much as I do (obsessively!).

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The ICU Crew! I miss y’all!
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Katie H and I post race.. She almost killed me trying to break two hours. 😉 I’m clearly the slow runner of the two of us.

Savannah Take 3: Girls trip to the beach

Another reunion for the incredible women I met while I lived in North Carolina. One thing I’ve learned with moving as much as I do… Is that friends of friends are the best! They’ll help you get settled in your new area, tell you what places to avoid, give you a written must do list while your here and they’ll also give you tips on where to get your hair cut (no one likes the regrowing process after a hack job… ps. all these pictures were taken right before I donated 11 inches of my hair!).

Hands down one of best things in Georgia is the beach. We played beach volleyball…Katie rocked her amazing skills and made us all look like we were trying out for the middle school volleyball team all over again haha. Also on this trip, I got a 3 minute refresher on how to drive a manual transmission and then drove 4 hours home. Thanks to Abby and Laura for not giving up on me regardless of how many times I stalled while I was learning!

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Catrina, Katie D, Laura and I cruising in down town Savannah.
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Katie D, Katie Z, Catrina, Laura and I at Dinner.
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From the bottom of my heart I love you Katie! We’ve gone through hell and back together and I would visit Savannah a hundred more times just to see you!

Savannah Take 4

Saint Patricks Day. Lets just say… I don’t own a single thing that is green… at least not bright green. From road tripping with my favorite southern girl Laurie…. to mimosas and watching the parade.. that weekend was unforgettable. We stopped at our favorite place, Lane Peach Orchard on the way home because they have THE BEST peach cobbler with home made pecan ice-cream on top!

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I hope y’all enjoyed this walk down memory lane with me. These southern memories will last a lifetime. If you’re in Georgia eat some peach cobbler for me!!

Love,

Jenny

 

 

 

Falling in Love: Ibiza, Spain

“I want to dance by the water beneath a Mexican sky. Drink some margaritas by a string of blue lights. Listen to the Mariachi play at midnight. Are you with me? Are you with me?” -Lost Frequencies

This song played over and over in my head and on the radio in Ibiza. Every time I hear that song it takes me back to paradise, even if only for a moment.

How we met:

Jenny’s version

{Summer 2012} I had been working in the ICU in North Carolina for over two years and we were short staffed that night. Dan had just graduated the new RN program and obviously picked the short straw on his unit because he was the one that floated to help us out. We gave him the most hemodynamically stable patients on the unit (yet he was still anxious to hear the alarms constantly going off for one thing or another). It was kind of sweet he was so nervous… I too remembered what it was like to be brand new to the ICU and it can be a little overwhelming.

On the other hand, I had already gotten my patients mostly settled and the majority of my initial charting complete. I had a few moments and after chatting with a good friend I worked with (Amanda, Miss you so much girl!) I was looking for a new pair of boots online. If you know me well, shoes are an addiction of mine… I don’t discriminate but I especially love leather boots. In walks Dan… the newbie. He was so friendly and extremely hilarious, he made me laugh all night (and teased me mercilessly for online shopping). At the time I was in a serious relationship and completely friend zoned him. However, I had a few hot single friends that I immediately thought of… and this says a lot because I don’t set my friends up with just anyone. There was a mixed group of 15-20 people going to Savannah, Georgia and Tybee Island for a long weekend at the beach. That first day I met Dan, I invited him to come with us… so he could meet my friends (that I attempted to set him up with). Luckily, things didn’t workout with my good friends but he did end up meeting someone and I was sincerely happy for him.

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Sweet sunrise. Tybee Island, Georgia 2012
{Fast forward a few years}

As the years passed, both of our relationships didn’t work out. Thank God for that! I had moved from North Carolina to Texas and eventually to Georgia. I was very fortunate and got the opportunity to move and take a position in the ICU in Germany. MANNNNNN I was nervous to move internationally with just my puppies. I was leaving my wonderful adopted southern family (the Loughmans) and friends I had made in Georgia behind. It was such a bittersweet and tearful goodbye. {To this day I still miss the peaches and the sweet tea. Laurie, JB, Yoko, Lori and friends drink a glass for me!}

The realization hit me that I didn’t know anyone that was currently working in Germany. Hhmmm so I did a little research just to make sure and BAM…. Dan popped up on my Facebook with pictures from Ireland. We started chatting as friends and he helped me tremendously with organizing my international move. The day I got here I was super jet lagged. Rachel picked me up from the airport and got me settled into my hotel. I took a five hour nap (aghhh jet lag is awful!) and I woke up to a few texts from Dan. He basically said “Are you alive? I haven’t heard from you.”  I assumed I would see him eventually when I got here but he was motivated to see me that day.

So I got dressed in the only thing I had that wasn’t wrinkled… a summer dress. He met me with a welcome package: Harbro gummy bears, Milka chocolate bars and Magnum Ice cream bars. He showed me around his little village and I had my first German beer and döner with him. It was delicious and it was really cool to catch up on life with him. He dropped me off at my hotel and I fell asleep for a few hours until I abruptly woke up STARVING. (Little did I know that I would eat chocolate and gummy bears for breakfast at 4 am because nothing else was open). Dan would always joke that we were perfect for each other. I on the other hand told him that things would never work out between us. I knew we were both incredibly independent, driven, active, stubborn  and funny individuals. Ironically, he ended up being right about this one. When I first got here I watched him play a LOT of softball while I learned how to use my Nikon. Heres a few favs I snapped of him. We ended up spending a lot of time together and he saved me from the mini hotel room I was given until I could find a house.

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A week later we went on our first trip to Ibiza, Spain. The beauty of this island took my breath away. Never in my life had I ever seen such a beautiful place. At that moment… I knew without a doubt I had made the right decision moving to Europe. I didn’t know it then but looking back on our trip to Ibiza I was falling for him (even if I didn’t want to admit it).

Our Ibiza Trip!

We started by checking into our hotel which was located half a mile from the beach in Sant Antoni de Portamy. We stayed in a minimalist hotel (70 euro a person for three nights!) and I’m so glad we did because we spent the majority of the time at the beach anyway! I asked the owner in Spanish (finally using that second language I spent so many years learning) if she could recommend her favorite restaurant in the area. This is something I do frequently when we travel because the locals usually recommend far better places than we find online. It was still early so we rushed down to the water for a quick swim and a drink from the beach side bar.

ibiza sunsetThe restaurant she recommended was tucked away in a secluded alley and we drank Sangria as the sun went down. We ate freshly caught fish from the area (just kidding I had fish… Dan had steak or something) but he did actually try mine. I am always the adventurous one when it comes to food where as Dan will play it safe EVERY.TIME… if given the option. For example, I had to try paella that weekend and Dan refused :). 

The next morning we woke up early and put on our expensive sunblock on (I insisted on buying it at the airport…. Dan was right about this one too… it was much cheaper on the island).

Cala Conta

Cala Conta was the first beach we went to and by far my favorite. This is why: we couldn’t keep these cheesy smiles off our faces. A lot of my friends here have told me the sparks between Dan and I were obvious from the start… even when I insisted that we were “just friends.” haha DSC_0027

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They used to have a zoo on the island but it closed down. The interesting part is that they turned it into a massive techno bar. Each of the areas that previously housed animals became a new bar/techno dance area. They called it the “Zoo project.” It was so much fun, everyone was painted like animals (pretty sure this was Dan’s favorite night) and there were a lot of entertainers and musicians.

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Cala Salada

I spent most of the weekend with an Island girl in my hand (coconut rum and a splash of sprite/pineapple juice) and relaxing on the beach. However, we also spent a LOT of time cliff diving and swimming with the fish. This place was perfect to cliff dive for the brave at heart. The water is outrageously clear and looks shallow but I promise it’s not!

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So that’s how our love story began. I’ve suckered Dan into writing the second half… So come back to visit for the next post with his version. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Love,

Jenny