2018. Brave.

I read an inspiring Instagram post about narrowing your goals for the next year into one word. I thought long and hard about this. How could I possibly choose just ONE word to represent my goals for the next year? After a day or two of considering what I would choose, I decided on the word brave.

Dan and I have a LOT of challenges in our near future. Not only are we moving internationally but we are also moving twice within five months. I’m essentially quitting my job and starting graduate school. It’s going to be hard. We will be making friends and finding community in a completely different city.

As I closed my eyes every night for the last few months I prayed “Wherever you lead me, I will go.” As crazy as that sounds, I know wholeheartedly that this journey is going to be full of uncertainties and unknowns but I also know its going to be so GOOD. That is the life we were promised to live. So BRAVE is my word for 2018. What word would you choose? I hope it’s something that scares you because the biggest dreams are often the most terrifying.

Happy New Year.

Love,
Jenny

ps. These are some of my favorite memories from 2017 because y’all know I couldn’t pick just nine.

Spain. Switzerland. USA. Portugal. Germany. Amsterdam. Italy. Formenterra. France. Austria and wherever else in the world life takes us ❤️

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Denmark, A Journey of Love: Marriage

Living in Europe has it’s perks and choosing the perfect spot to say our vows was difficult to say the least. We fell in love in Ibiza, Spain and decided that our little piece of paradise was perfect. It was only missing one thing, we had to be Roman Catholic to officially get married there.

After examining our options (including flying back to the states) we decided to sign our official marriage paperwork in Denmark. We had friends of ours that recently got married in Copenhagen, Denmark through the company Danish Island Weddings. They had such a positive experience, they referred us to them.

From the moment we contacted this company, they made it so outrageously easy. After one email containing a marriage application and a scanned copy of all our important documents….. we had a date to get married. I was shocked when I received the approval email so quickly. I was in Poland at the time for work and it brought tears to my eyes.

We opted to get married on ÆrøIsland in the Old Merchants Courtyard. From the pictures of the island it reminded me so much of my hometown. The people were friendly and very helpful. They spoke perfect English (the small joys in life) and went out of their way to ensure we had a wonderful experience on their island.

The day before we got married we woke up early and had breakfast with all of the couples that stayed at our accommodation the night before. It was around a large rustic dining table and we ate a typical European breakfast. Fresh rolls baked that morning by the owner with a variety of cheeses and meats. There were vegetables grown from the garden including cucumbers and green, red and yellow peppers. The jam selection was made by hand by the owners mother (absolutely the best). One of my favorite new combinations for breakfast is plain greek style yogurt, corn flakes and a drizzle of the local honey. It was sweet, crunchy and tangy #allofmyfavoritethings. In my experience you have to try new things to see if you like it or not. (Ask my friend Marcus… a few weeks ago I made him try everything in my lunch). Exploring your tastebuds is one of my favorite parts of traveling. If you don’t try it… you’ll never really know!

After our meeting with Ulrich we were reassured everything would be perfect the next day. She re-booked our return ferry for the next day ensuring we made our flight in Copenhagen (Just barely… see Dan’s post here–>Punctuality: Panic at the Terminal ). We barely made the connection, not because of the ferry/car rental but because I was buying postcards to send to our families back home. Next time I’ll hurry {maybe}.

The morning of our wedding Dan was both happy and anxious. If you’ve ever travelled with Dan you’ll realize he’s a “Nervous Nelly Traveler.” Or atleast thats what I call them. Every family has one. They’re the ones that show up 6 hours prior to their flight. Then they wait around because it’s far too early to consider going through security because even the flight crews haven’t decided what gate to put the flight at yet (they’re still in line for coffee so they can tolerate obnoxiously rude travelers–>don’t be that one!).

To his surprise I got up EARLY which is a huge struggle for me. (High five to all my fellow 5+ times alarm snoozers). However, the promise of french press coffee and the potential of leaving this gorgeous island married was a huge motivation. Since we were carrying all of our luggage throughout both Denmark and Norway we opted to just pack backpacks for the week. I packed a simple sundress for me and a polo for him. If Dan loves anything he loves the simple life. Opposites attract right?!?

After arriving to the building in Old Merchants Court, I gave Dan the option to run. He looked at me and laughed. He pulled me in close said “Come on you knucklehead, you’re gonna marry me.” So we went up the stairs to this vintage style decor room with beautiful paintings of the island and got married. Dan’s brother Eric joined us via Skype.

It was perfect. So simple. The judge said… “Before performing the ceremony the Council wishes to remind you of the meaning and importance of the promise you are going to give each other. Matrimony implies in general a pledge to live together in mutual affection, helpfulness and tolerance.” {I’m pretty sure she emphasized the word tolerance but maybe I was just imagining that}.

We both repeated the same vows we had said to each other on an ancient tower over looking the Mediterranean Sea (PICTURES TO COME SOON!!). We kissed and it was official. We were MARRIED. We kissed again and signed the papers (that were in four different languages). Then we toasted with champagne and celebrated with a few pieces of delicious chocolate.

After getting engaged in Germany, married in Denmark and having our ceremony in Spain….

We know without a doubt, no matter where in the world this love story takes us… at least we have each other to laugh with, love and tolerate 🙂

Love,

Jenny

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I wanted to see how cold the water was… Not nearly as cold as I imagined it would be.

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I love these rocks.

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Beers in the Courtyard
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The view from the cliffs

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A beautiful Lighthouse near Soby

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The golf course surrounding the lighthouse in Soby
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Squinting hard against the wind
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Storm rolling in

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Danish Island Weddings:

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Eric on Skype
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“A pledge to live together in mutual affection, helpfulness and tolerance.”

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Ulrich was the absolute best!

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Champagne and Chocolate
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Waiting for the ferry with our little white rental car
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Sunrise on the Baltic Sea

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All these hearts led to you

ps. Our Ibiza wedding ceremony coming to the blog soon!

The Art of a Balanced Life: Mission Almost Impossible

As I’m writing this I can think of about 17 other things I “should be” doing hypothetically. However, I’m a firm believer that you have to lead a balanced life in order to create the happiness we all crave so much. A few realities have hit me super hard this week:

1. Dreams will remain dreams if you’re not pursing them.

I have always been a dreamer. I’m not sure when or why I turned out that way but I just can’t seem to be content with the chapter of life I’m currently in. I’m always looking at what my next adventure is going to be. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love traveling. Although I am genuinely happy and I undoubtedly LOVE the season of life I am currently in, I’m dreaming of tomorrow. I’m dreaming of all the adventures life still has to hold.

After graduating college I worked in the ICU in North Carolina. I started contemplating going to CRNA school (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist). I wasn’t sure if this was due to the pressure of my coworkers and bosses always asking “what is your plan” or if it was something I really wanted to do. AHHHH I was 21 years old and I wanted to be an ICU nurse. I was living the dream… finally using the degree I had spent four years pouring over notes and studying boring text books for. Yet here they were asking me what I wanted to do next. Either way, I knew I wasn’t ready. I had so much to explore in life and in my career before I could make a decision that locked me into a new future I wasn’t so sure I was ready to commit to.

Part of my indifference/hesitation was that I knew my support system at the time couldn’t have withstood the challenges/stresses of dealing with me in CRNA school. Part of my hesitation was the commitment to studying and pouring my life into school work and rigorous learning for months and months. Part of it was the generous financial incentives my work was offering me to stay. Regardless of the hundreds of reasons I kept telling myself that it wasn’t the right timing, I never forgot about that dream. It has been simmering in the back of my mind like a slow cooking soup in the fall. I’ve known for a while that it was never going to be easy. It was never going to be convenient. I knew it would take a lot of sacrifice and studying. What I didn’t realize is that no matter what else I decided to do including: moving internationally, switching from the ED back to the ICU and traveling the world I couldn’t run away from that goal. It was still there waiting for me when I decided to settle down. So this week I started studying for the GRE. Whew… I said it. At this point I feel like this dream I let simmer for so long is starting with baby steps.

2. You prioritize your life based on what’s important to you!

We spent two weeks in the USA and it was so refreshing to be home. It has been a year since I have seen my family and about a year and a half since Dan has been home. A lot changes in that time. Our nieces and nephew have grown so much! My baby sister Megan started college. We really enjoyed the quality time we spent with both families and being away from work. We also ate a LOT of delicious food that we had missed since we’ve been away.

Along with family, Fitness and eating healthy has always been a top priority for us. Partly because we love and enjoy it but mostly because eating gluten makes me feel like I’m poisoning myself. (An exaggeration… I know… but seriously it makes me feel awful.) Nevertheless, we have stuck to a pretty strict diet since we returned to Europe. (I’m not going to go into detail because people eat a variety of different ways based on: 1.Their personal preferences, 2. Medical history and 3. Fads they read about on the internet). Simply stated we eat a LOT of vegetables and a mix of everything else. I honestly feel like a completely different person. I’m looking forward to the weather improving and eating more fresh local produce as it comes into season.


As for fitness, I crushed my fitness goals this week! I put my fitness goals into three categories: Cardio, Lifting and Recovery. For my cardio goal this week I did a total of 10 miles. Which ended up being a mix of running and walking (For you Fit Bit fanatics: thats’s ten miles on top of what I normally walk each day). My second goal was to lift weights three times this week. I lifted Legs, Arms and Chest. My ultimate favorite is last… I did 90 minutes of hot yoga this week mostly because it helps so much with flexibility and back pain caused by sore/tight legs and glutes. A huge congratulations to Krissy (one of my power partners in life) who completed her first in-person yoga class this week! I drug her with me to a new place. We both loved it and can’t wait to go back!

3. You can have a perfectly clean home or not.

I love a perfectly clean home… I do (especially the kind out of a pottery barn catalog). However, often I find this goal to be frankly unattainable. Lets be real, we have two dogs (that produce enough hair to drive us insane regardless of how much you brush them). We both work full time. We both prioritize going to the gym and sleeping over clean laundry and polished floors EVERY.TIME. So yes… we keep our home pretty clean most of the time but I’d be lying if I said all of our laundry was folded and put away. And today that’s good enough for me. That Pottery Barn dream home will have to stay right were it sits in the catalog for now.

When it seems like the world is moving far too quickly around you and you feel like you’re drowning in the chaos… just remember to prioritize the things that matter to you the most. At the end of the day, if you still have 9 loads of laundry to do (a reality for me right now)….

It’ll be there tomorrow.

Love, 

Jenny

 

 

Kindness Matters: Falls Church, Virginia

A Day of Pampering:

Warm, cosy and well rested is how I started my day. What an unusual feeling that was…until I realized I didn’t set my alarm and I had a nail appointment in an hour and 15 mins. Don’t mind my stomach that was growling out of control.

I jumped out of bed, tossed on a comfortable outfit and debated on what shoes to wear. My go-to pair of shoes lately has been leather booties that I bought in Germany. With just enough heel and a cute buckle on the side, they’re outrageously comfortable and look great with pretty much any combination of my wardrobe. However, after a pedicure I was sure they would scrunch my freshly painted toes. Unfortunately I didn’t anticipate this beautiful weather and didn’t pack sandals. So I laced up my sneakers, put my hair into a messy ponytail (this is right about the time I realized I only packed a teasing brush… just imagine my disarray) and headed downstairs for breakfast.

I ordered my favorite brunch: eggs benedict with coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. Luckily the hotel had taxis waiting so I hurried along to my nail appointment.

The hotel I’m staying at referred me to Venus Salon and Spa. I was able to get an appointment the next day and they were so polite and friendly. When I arrived the place was clean and had a relaxing atmosphere. Jess was my nail tech and she was FABULOUS!

A friendly lady that I pictured being in her early 60’s sat in the massage/pedicure chair next to me and started chatting away. Her name was Carol. I liked her immediately. She loved dogs and had her precious little chihuahua and pomeranian mix named Allie with her.

On a side note, I talk entirely too much for about 95% of people I meet. It’s even worse when I’m nervous because I speed up and spew words as fast as they’ll come out. I’d like to think that my brain works similar to that of a pin ball machine. It can never really stay in one place for very long. That being said I talk fast, think fast and usually end up interrupting people in everyday conversation. I promise it’s not because I’m being rude intentionally (my friends have come to terms with the fact that I have the attention span of a first grader).

Ok…. so back to Carol. We talked non stop while we enjoyed our pampering. She was such an interesting and well traveled woman. I was inspired by how much LIFE she had in her years. When she told me her children where in their 50s I was absolutely shocked. I thought for sure this woman was much much younger! She had such a bold, confident and beautiful personality. It always surprises me when I run into people that have hearts like mine. People that love traveling, eating, spending time with their loved ones and of course shopping. Carol informed me of all the amazing shopping options nearby and offered to take me there.


Now I don’t usually get into cars with strangers but I felt like Carol and I were already long term friends. She was leaving for Hawaii the next day (please imagine all of my jealous feelings inserted right here). I quickly brushed them away and told her that visiting or living in Hawaii has always been a long term dream of mine and that I too would travel there some day. Then she told me that she has Cancer. That she has had it four times. My heart just sank for a moment. How could such an amazing woman have cancer four times and still have the joyful and happy attitude Carol had? She is a woman of courage and you can tell from the fire inside her that nothing can shake her. I felt so blessed meeting this woman. Honestly, I am inspired to live my life to the absolute fullest, to enjoy all of the wonderful things in life and to always keep kindness as my currency.

When you are kind to others, you make a difference in their lives if only for a moment. When you tip someone more than they would normally receive, when you compliment a stranger or express how thankful you are it can change their entire day. I paid for my nails and sincerely thanked Jess for her meticulous work on the shabbiness of cuticles she cleaned up. They looked awfulllll before and I love the pink color Carol told me about.

As I waited for Carol to get her hair trimmed, I’m pretty sure Jess noticed how kind I was to her. Without asking, she picked up a blow dryer and started blowing my hair out. Let me tell you, it looked a million times better. I explained that I forgot to pack my hairbrush and was actually going to target to buy one and she laughed. I tried to pay her and she refused. She just smiled at me and thanked me for coming. I was so grateful for the outstanding service I received at their spa/salon and would highly recommend it if you’re in the Falls Church, VA area!

Carol gave me the tour of the shopping options and dropped me off at the mosaic shopping center. Target and Lululemon were diagonal from each other {what a great predicament to be in}.


You can just imagine how this turned out. I went into target for three things: a hairbrush, dry shampoo and new dress socks for Dan. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t let myself get too distracted and I actually remembered everything on the list. If you’re female you understand my struggles. Whoever sets up the layout of Target is a genius. You have to walk through women’s clothing, shoes and jewelry just to get to what you actually came for. I left with this and still feel successful.

 

(Dan’s socks not pictured)

 

I preceded to walk into Lululemon and it was quite a splurge I’m not going to lie. No matter how much I rationalize that I wear it EVERY. DAY… I can’t tell you how expensive it is. To me the splurge is worth it because it makes me happy. Lululemon is my kryptonite.


I was chatting with one of the store managers about how much I love their clothing. She recommended the 7/8ths length Align pant. If you’re in the market for a new pair of leggings that you can wear dressed up try these! They are my new favorite. They don’t have the same compression as the Wunder Unders (which are my favorite for any type of workout) and leave you feeling so relaxed! The align pant will be my new travel essential leggings for sure!!!

Overall, I had an incredibly relaxing day with Carol and shopping. I hope Carol enjoys a few sunsets in Hawaii for me and I look forward to keeping in touch with her.

Never underestimate the power of kindness.

Love, 

Jenny



Ps. This book is laugh out loud hilarious and don’t let Dan fool you, he loves Lulu as much as I do 🙂 

Happy Birthday Handsome!

Dan,

Since the moment I met you, you’ve been making me laugh until my stomach hurts. You have such a fun, caring and adventurous heart. As each day passes, I love you more. As we grow older every day, month and year I look forward to life with you. You’ve stolen my heart and I’m so happy you did. Happy Birthday handsome!

Love, 

Jenny

  

Dreaming all the Dreams

I’ve always been a dreamer and a compulsive list maker… so when you put those things together you end up with a fancy doodled form of a To-Do list for Life. Things you dream to accomplish that are important to YOU for one reason or another. I’ve been making lists for years. It’s almost comical reading some of my dreams from ten years ago. Learn to Sew? Who knew that would be something that never really interested me in the first place… but felt more like a life necessity I SHOULD learn. Then there are other things on the list that you just can’t ever seem to live up to…. like “Always give more than you take.” First of all, that is not a measurable goal. My nursing professors and educators would be disappointed in that statement Haha but it’s more of a gentle reminder to stop being so dang selfish in life. We are programmed to be selfish, to fulfill our needs before any one else’s and in my line of work we are pushed to go against the grain. A special thanks to my coworkers, they constantly fulfill the needs of our patients and their family members far before their own needs.

Speaking of work, one of the next things on my list was get a Masters Degree. Whewwwww I’m all about working hard and doing well in school…as a broad concept (my friends all know I’ve always been a committed back row sitter and will be for life). But SO many people are doing things like this just to check the box. When I start my masters, I want it to mean something. I want it to change my career entirely… so I refuse to buy into the “You should start now to get it out of the way feeling” that so many people I know have done. Recently I’ve read “Yes Please!” by Amy Poehler.

Yes pleaseIf you haven’t read it yet… do yourself a favor and BUY IT NOW on your iPad/Kindle/Nook or be old fashion like me and actually buy the book you hold in your hands because it’s HILARIOUS. One of my favorite quotes in her book was about how women tend to constantly compare themselves to others. She reinforces the fact that you don’t have to measure up to anyone else’s standards of success. She says in her book “’Good for her, not for me’ that is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.” So to my friends getting masters right now, CHEERS! I am sincerely happy for you. I hope it leads you to exactly where you want to be in life! But to be completely honest, I haven’t even decided what I want to be when I grow up! I’m still deciding if I want to apply for CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) school or if I want to apply for Nurse Practitioner school. Right now, saving lives in the ICU is extremely rewarding and enough for me. Hands down, there is absolutely nothing better than taking care of soldiers that have sacrificed so much and sending them home to their families. To my friends stuck in the in between stop stressing and just enjoy the season of life you are in right now.  Eventually I too will decide whats next but for the moment, I’m caught up in living the life I’ve always dreamed of. I have spent years dreaming about traveling the world and I’m finally doing it. I keep telling myself that NOW is the best time! I’ll only be young and able to run, hike, swim and bike across the world for a limited amount of time. So maybe by the time I’m 80 I’ll look back with less regrets on what I “should have done.”

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{As for Traveling}

Holy Moly, these last 6 months have been packed with travel. It helps that my trip-planning partner, Dan is constantly asking me “where are we going next?” I love his heart and the way he is always pushing us to enjoy the best things in life. He is on the path to discovering the world, the people and of course the beer/wine selection, one country at a time. Eight days after I landed in Europe he talked me into starting my travel with the most relaxing thing on earth… the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. We traveled to the Balearic Island of Ibiza, Spain. {I will do a retrospective blog post about this later} I conquered so many fears with this trip. First of all, I was out of my comfort zone my first week of living internationally but at least I was back in a country where I could speak the language. (A huge thanks to Señora Walsh and Señora Seamans for teaching me Spanish, a life skill that I’ve used more times than I can count…in work and in life.)

ibiza rock

One of my most memorable moments on this journey to finding myself on the other side of the Atlantic was taking the plunge… literally off of a cliff in Ibiza, Spain. I have always been terrified of heights, as in I don’t even like standing on ladders. Dan talked me into cliff diving with him (as you can tell by the pictures he’s not scared of anything). It seemed like an eternity standing on the edge of that cliff. I was shaking the first time and wanted so badly to return to the safety of the beach with my sun hat and sunnies with a book in my hand. I knew at that moment I had the choice to be brave or to play it safe. Every time we’ve gone to the beach since then we cliff dive. It is exhilarating! (Of course I have to make sure the water is deep enough first…haha) but most times we were diving into places 15-25 feet deep and into schools of fish! The water is more clear than any pool I’ve ever swam in. I absolutely can not wait to go back to paradise. Dan’s front flips were pretty impressive! Each time we jump I get more brave. Here’s to many more cliffs and tackling many more fears in life.

Love,

Jenny

 

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J cliff dive

If you’re interested in my Lists here they are:

A few things still left on my old list:

  1. Bike around Mackinac Island.
  2. Hike the Grand Canyon.
  3. Go on a mission trip.
  4. Take Gram to Hawaii.
  5. Go parasailing.
  6. Swim with dolphins
  7. Own exotic fish.
  8. Learn to surf
  9. Do a mini triathalon

Things I’ve accomplished:

  1. Run a marathon (Marine Corp Marathon in Washington DC in 2011)
  2. Pass my NCLEX
  3. Own a Jeep
  4. Be debt free
  5. Navigate better with a map (this is an ongoing process and it’s accomplishment depends on who you ask 🙂
  6. Conquer my fear of heights
  7. Make Grandma Jo’s peanut butter fudge
  8. Admit when you are wrong
  9. Go shopping in New York City
  10. Rescue a dog (Bonus… I rescued TWO!)
  11. Buy a House with pillars
  12. Spend a few weeks traveling through Europe (and OHHHHH how I’ve traveled! This should have been a few years traveling Europe)
  13. Learn to drive a stick shift and own a car with a manual transmission
  14. Trauma Nurse Critical Care Course
  15. Donate my hair to kids with cancer (twice!)
  16. Passed my CCRN

OHHH the places we dream to go!

  1. Fjords of Norway
  2. See the northern lights in Iceland
  3. Croatia
  4. Italy (again and again and again. I want to see the whole country. Eat all the food and drink all of the wine!)
  5. Yacht week in Greece
  6. Run the Athens Marathon
  7. Go on an African Safari
  8. Hike in New Zeeland
  9. Surf on the beaches of Hawaii
  10. Take a cooking class in Thailand
  11. Study Yoga in India
  12. Prague, Czech Republic
  13. Skiing in Austria
  14. Portugal
  15. Canary Islands

Places we’ve been:

(If I haven’t blogged about them already, I will soon!)
  1. Ibiza, Spain
  2. Paris, France
  3. Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim. (Biggest wine fest in the world!)
  4. Mallorca, Spain
  5. Octoberfest in Stuggart, Germany
  6. Portsmouth, England
  7. London, England
  8. Venice, Italy
  9. Nurnberg, Germany
  10. German Christmas Markets: Trier and Heidelberg
  11. Strasbourg, France
  12. Zermatt, Switzerland

Favorite Big Cities I’ve visited in the USA:

(In no particular order, I’ll blog about my favorites later!)
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • New York, New York
  • San Diego, California
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Washington DC
  • Orlando, Flordia
  • Raliegh, North Carolina
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Austin, Texas
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Portland, Oregon
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Destin, Florida
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Auburn, Alabama

Places I’ve lived for more than six months:

  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • Germany