Somewhere on the cusp of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning after the longest 15 hour drive of my life, including a hellacious thunderstorm bordered by tornadoes to the south of where I was driving, Edie and I rolled up to the driveway of my folks’ house in the Swedish Meatball. Three weeks into a six – seven week road trip was cut short by my sobering realization I could not maintain the focus I needed on my final round of edits of my dissertation for my committee to approve and allow me to move on to my defense.

As much as I hate having to miss my niece’s first dance recital and one on one time with my best friend, most definitely not something to enjoy, this was a hard, but right, decision to make. I’ll look forward to getting to Connecticut later in the summer, and then maybe the water will even be warm enough for a swim! Amidst some disappointments, there’s still plenty I found this week to be beautiful.

Something to Enjoy

Something I’m Listening to…. Chris Cornell – Sunshower

Thursday’s news absolutely gutted me. As were many others rocked by the revelation of Chris Cornell’s unfortunate and untimely death. I feel like all of my idols are being taken away. I listened to this song – as is a frequent repeat on my playlists. If you’re at all feeling what I am, you’ve likely been hitting the Spotify Audioslave, Soundgarden, and his solo playlists all day. Er, weekend? He’s gone, but I can tribute the heck out of his art.

Something I’m Reading…. Modern Love

My obsession with the New York Times’s Modern Love podcast grew into reading the weekly column on the website. I wait, every week, for the indicator on my podcast app to inform me of the next episode. And I wait, every week, for the NYT site to update the newest digital draft to read. Two Modern Loves in any given week. And, when I’m planning a road trip, I’ll hold off on the podcast so I can binge listen to the stories. 

Something I’m Loving…. 

Feminista Jones‘s Twitter, in particular, her cheeky call out and “to piss a man off today” challenge. I feel hopeful more women are speaking up and calling out behaviors and ideologies that need to change. 

something to enjoy

Whatever you are looking ahead to with the rest of your weekend and heading into next week, make it beautiful! As for me, I’m enjoying the empty house while my folks are exploring the northeastern sea shore and riding out four straight days of thunderstorms and tornado watches. Welcome to Spring time in Kansas! There’s no place like “home.”

XO,

Jennifer

something to enjoy something to enjoy

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I haven’t hit the something to enjoy sequence in a while. Quite a while! To say I’m distracted is a most obvious observation.

While I would rather be in Oaxaca than anywhere else at this time, I have been contending with rather significant challenges and frustrations with this final dissertation process. The short: it’s written. The good: it’s written. Yay! The bad and the ugly: my chair and I don’t see eye to eye on the result so I’m  – still writing.

Which means I haven’t been to Spanish classes in a month. So, in other words, my language only improves by the few instances I force myself out of my house and peel away from the computer to interact with locals. I’m most familiar with the ladies in the mercado. I’m hiding from the yoga instructor who, to his credit, tried to lead the class in English for me but that just didn’t go great.

I transitioned into my new community with as much awkwardness as a baby deer on new legs. But don’t let my whining betray how happy I am here! I believe I made the right choice to leave the U.S. when I did.

Without any doubt, I made the right choice selecting Oaxaca. The city is as charming and beautiful as the sweet nothings courting Oaxacanos whisper in my ears. The climate is as delicious as nearly every meal I’ve eaten here. Seriously… the food lives up to, and in my opinion, surpasses its reputation!

Few places are as electric, vibrant, and creatively energetic and inspiring as Oaxaca. I’m actually heartbroken I have only six more days in the city – it feels like I just arrived here – before I head to the coast. From what I have been told, I’m about to experience another sumptuous feast for all of my senses!

Something I’m Listening to…. Stardust – Music Sounds Better with You

This one is fun, for sure. It’s a throwback and is a tiny tribute to a friend of mine, here, in Oaxaca. To protect the innocent I will not name him, but refer to him as Cutie Chilango (he’s from Mexico City). Cutie Chilango, or CC, for short, was one of my first friends in the city. he loves this song, so I learned earlier in the week.

Earlier this week, underfed and dehydrated, I had a couple of mezcals and because that liquor is so strong, I went full The Weeknd a la not being able to feel my face. We ordered some more, him believing I was drinking within my limit as a grown woman should be able to do…. The short story is my emotions erupted into a panic attack resulting in a “scene.” Like, I’ve personally witnessed rabid bobcats behave better….

This week was the anniversary of my dad’s death. I thought I was doing ok with the anniversary. This year made for five years. I wasn’t doing as well as I thought.

Oaxaca is actually a small town once you enter the social scene. As in I heard from people who weren’t even in the bar that night about my little show. CC wasn’t quite as lucky and his friends, and boss, were witnesses. I’ll spare you all of the details that poor CC had to endure. Rabid bobcats have been known to behave better.

Man of the year goes to my friend who stayed with me and nursed me through the crazy emotions, even after I threw up on him, and took me to a breakfast of mineral water, coffee, and a lot of fruit to get something in my system to endure a proper hangover.

And is willing to laugh about it – at me, I’m sure – and not let me hide and wither under the rock beneath which I wanted to put myself. Artisenal mezcal is a beautiful liquor, friends. Especially cuixe and tabola… at least these are the two I like the most. Artisenal mezcal can also pack a 52% alcohol volume punch. Which means….

Be very smart when drinking mezcal.

For women who like to travel alone this is especially important: be very smart about your surroundings when drinking alcohol in any foreign city. I was lucky because I was with someone who respects and protected me in what could have been a very dangerous situation if the character of my companion was not so strong as his.

Something I’m Reading…. The Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems by Natalia Toledo

The Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems Something to Enjoy Round Up

When most people think of indigenous cultures of Mexico, Aztec and Mayan are the ones that primarily come to mind. In Oaxaca, Zapotec culture runs deep, wide, and is still lived. I found this book inside Amate Books, located on the Alcala about one block south of Santo Domingo Plaza.

Half of the book is a translation from Zapotec to Spanish and the other half translates the same Zapotec poems to English. The poems are beautiful.

My heart’s sky hold you as the night does her stars.

Something Pretty for My Self Care….

I can only accurately say this week wasn’t really great about my self care. I wouldn’t have drunk more mezcal than my limit can tolerate if I was. Right? Drinking to the point of, and beyond, drunkenness (public intoxication nonetheless) is not caring for the self.

But, something I find a lot of comfort in is the sharing and support among the female blogging community. I don’t consider myself a travel blogger but I belong to several networks and communities because it’s good for me to have someone to help me normalize my current nomadic lifestyle. One of my friends, Cory, has a beautiful blog that is a great escape from the 9-5 drums. In this post, I share a small tidbit about why I travel in the manner I do. She also has some vignettes from other “travelettes.” Read some if you’re needing an extra push to make your 2017 travel plans.

Whatever you are looking ahead to with the rest of your weekend and heading into next week, make it beautiful!

XO,

Jennifer

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Why I Can’t Get Hygge With It

Hygge here, hygge there, lots of ladies are hyggeing it up everywhere! Fun, if not a bit difficult, to pronounce, with the benefit of cozy socks and a full heart, Hygge is giving a lot of us all the lovely huggable hygge feels. But here’s a rather controversial and unpopular thing. I’m NOT comfortable. Not emotionally, mentally, and certainly not physically comfortable. Everything in my life is at complete odds with Hygge. And I don’t necessarily think that is a “bad” thing. For the record: I love Hygge! I want to get Hygge with it (yes, I know that is not how Hygge is pronounced but just roll with me, and roll your eyes if you must, it’s okay I do it to myself, too). So, to be clear, this is not a Hygge bash.

Hygge - why i can't get hygge

For those who don’t know, Hygge is a Danish concept: to live well. To take genuine pleasure and enjoyment in simplicities in life. In short, Hygge is pretty fantastic, and in better, nay different, circumstances, is in the realm of life goals in lifestyles that feel increasingly harried and rushed and so dang busy. I want to immerse into the comfort my fuzzy alpaca wool socks, a mug of hot Trader Joe’s peppermint tea, and yummy floral candles burning around my (no longer existing) condo. But, I just… can’t… get Hygge right now.

 Hygge - why i can't get hygge 

Right now, I’m profoundly uncomfortable.

To curl up and snuggle in soft textiles in this moment in time feels, to me, antipodal. Hygge is rooted in an absence of annoyances and emotional overwhelm. Well, my dissertation, alone, excludes me from falling cozying up to Hygge! Hygge, essentially, is against controversy, foreign ideals and values, and is gentle, calm, with a nod toward personal social censorship. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m saying. But that’s not where I’m at in my present, with my experience.

I’m politically uncomfortable.

Call me a snowflake because I’m still pissed Hillary lost the election. Heartbroken, actually. And tremendously worried for my country. Well, let’s add the world. Hygge doesn’t exactly jive with the kind of discomfort and frustration needed to be truly itchy enough to be civically engaged. Snowflake, here! I moved to Mexico. I marched. Even before the election I volunteered for Hillary’s campaign. And I don’t want to get comfortable. I want to act. As much as I’d love to snuggle in those fuzzy socks and a sweater and listen to Edith Piaf on Spotify I feel more obliged to move and act on the benefit for civil rights. I am deeply opposed to nearly everything our current administration promised and represents.

Hygge - why i can't get hygge

But let’s go beyond and let’s talk about awkward.

How about calling legislators from Mexican payphones? Oh, I can be stubborn as an ornery burro when my mind is to it.

Even more uncomfortable, we must, no matter how left, right, or “I just want to see kitties and puppies and babies on my Facebook feed again” we may lean, it is essential for us to openly listen to and receive the point of view and discussion from others who believe differently than us. Expanding our views, being willing to shatter our own comfort zones of beliefs and understanding, is the way we stand to make sustainable progress. For my fellow fair skinned, hetero lovelies, that means we, especially, need to gut check our views of feminism to insist on and represent advocacy for intersectional feminism.

I’m personally uncomfortable.

Well, on my best day, in my home town, I was socially awkward. INFJ MBTI type, here, folks. I’m not only a snowflake, I’m a weird, obsessive, overthinking and over feeling snowflake. We won’t even go into the nearly constant catastrophes that my oversensitive and analytical little ego embarks upon while dating.

I’m experiencing a different type of awkwardness. One anyone who is or has been an expat can relate to feeling.

I’m quickly learning and improving my Spanish by the day, but right now I’m also in that stage where I can hear, as I’m saying or immediately after saying, exactly what I’m doing wrong. Like the day I told my little old (conservative and Catholic) lady neighbor I’m pregnant instead of embarrassed. Talk about “embarrassing.”

I have no hot water, and that’s accounting for the days I have water. Bienvenidos a Oaxaca! I’m taking the quickest showers of my life! Whether the gecko in my courtyard, neighborhood dogs barking, the bells of the basilica, or my neighbors blowing up firecrackers at night (they love to blow things up), I’m not getting that much sleep. Crossing the street has become an extreme sport. I’m cold in the mornings and a hot, sweaty mess in the afternoon.

There’s a weird outsider isolation I feel. I’ve always been proud of my words and my ability to access language. The level of frustration I feel for my inability to express myself in my new language is infuriating. More than once per day I want to clam up and shut down in the middle of conversation. I miss my condo and my little balcony with twinkle lights shaded by a giant ficus tree and overlooking the Spanish style fountain. And I miss my quaint little neighborhood tucked into a mountain preserve. I miss my little pup. And my friends. I have thought – for maybe half a minute at a time – of moving back and immediately work to rebuild my savings. This could have been a massive mistake I will regret in time. But, no.

Hygge - why i can't get hygge

We grow in discomfort.

Think about the times you stepped out of your comfort zone. Even in failure, there is a lesson, that lesson itself is a win, and in that win is a growth opportunity. And what of the times we step outside our comfort zones and we succeed?!

If we stay in comfort, and stay doing what has always been done, we might keep what we have, but likely not to get any more. What is the biggest risk in asking for that promotion for which you have been working your butt so hard? Train for that Grand Canyon hike. The waterfalls, the stunning force and power of the Colorado River, the quiet… worth it. Striking up conversation with that cutie you see every Sunday at your coffee shop? Well, you never know….

What about saying “no” to the happy hour invitation you really don’t want to go on, anyway? There’s a ton of value to saying “yes,” and “leaning in.” We retain and generate so much positive power in saying “no.” There’s power in not apologizing for stuff that isn’t yours owing apology.

There’s warmth and comfort in seeking small pleasures, and by all means, we ought to celebrate them. We have a lot – a lot – of benefits to seeking safety and security. But, dangit, I think – right now – we have so much more to gain by seeking a bit more discomfort.

Hygge - why i can't get hygge

What do you think?

XO, Jennifer

Hygge - why i can't get hygge and marched on washington

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Man Crush Monday | Bob Dylan

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature this past year. While many people responded with shock and awe, and his own reaction appeared to be more ambivalent, I was happy. I love his music and poetry, and even though I’m too young to be considered in his generation, much of his music spoke to me when coming of age as it did our parents. He is the first musician, ever, to receive the award. When Rolling Stone can catalog 100 of an artist’s “greatest” songs, that is a massive contribution to art.

My favorite song is one of his more critically acclaimed, but I love it even if that makes me not as cool. It’s not really a love song. At all. It’s wistful and disappointed. But NOT disappointing.

I also recommend this small sample if you are in need of an introduction:

Blowing in the Wind: made popular by the band Peter, Paul, and Mary, this sweet ballad may be one of his more popular songs. I’m including it because I feel obliged to do so. :o)

Simple Twist of Fate: is really so heart wrenching! If you look at the lyrics he tells the story of a seemingly perfect relationship that ended for reasons neither person can explain. Ugh. All the sad feels. One of the top songs to replay when feeling love worn.

Like a Rolling Stone: Yes. Just… Yes! And, yes, I’m obliged. Happy to do so…

Abandoned Love: super simple…. No chorus. With a lot of “ouch” in his punch. Kind of like how some break ups hit you… you know?

Well, good day and good night. I’m really excited. Not because my edits went well. They went okay. Not to mention the massive change my chair wants me to make – I cried to my mom and then took her directive to go have a glass of wine. I’m such the achiever I had two. But I literally did cry when I saw what he wanted me to change. It’s just part of the process even though the rewrite is massive and I don’t really agree. But — although the PhD dissertation is a massive undertaking and body of work made by me, I learned a while ago it is not at all about me in the eyes of my university and the process is political and bologna, but it’s the price of admission to the “doctor” club. And, I swear, if I hear one more person tell me that a PhD is “not a ‘real’ doctor” I might become physically violent. I’ve actually had men tell me that thinking I would find that endearing and agree to go on a date with them. Seriously, WTF does that???

So, today it’s my dissertation, Dylan, and me.

Who is your #MCM?

XO, Jennifer

Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet. Bob Dylan

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Today is the final day of the first month in our new year. How are you checking in with your goals? I could be doing better, myself. But I refuse to let me berate and abuse what hasn’t been done (although my personal gap review is long – that’s the inveterate MBA in me speaking). Fact is, when reviewing my own goals check in this morning (yay for insomnia m while my progress is not as fast or far as I wanted, I’ve covered a lot of ground during these past 30 days. I have wins! And not of the tiger blood variety, either. I feel good enough to be encouraged but not cocky.
~My dissertation, all five chapters, is written. Fina-f*cking-Lutely! It’s a hotter mess than my sweat saturated ponytail after a #parytonabike spin class, but it’s written. I’m not saying I haven’t cried during edits. But it’s written!
~I went out on an limb and displayed great vulnerability at the expense of almost painful emotional discomfort in effort to break a haunting pattern. Twice. Wait… three times. In the moment of one particular ignorer of boundaries, instead of my usual pattern of annoyance > frustration > total devolution into emotional anger, I felt unf*ckwithable and held my boundary. Fact is, while a troll doesn’t deserve your kindness, you don’t deserve the emotional fallout of meeting him (or her) at that same level of petty disrespect.
~I relocated and am settling into my new city with lost in translation embarrassments every day.
~I marched in the Women’s March on Washington in my new home city and stood with other US expats among our Mexican neighbors in solidarity. We expected approximately 300 people to show up and march. Over 2,000 US and Canadian expats residing in Oaxaca along with tourists from other nationalities visiting the city who heard of the march showed up and marched with us. It was beautiful.

And there are more. But these… I’m most proud of and I’m not going to let energy spend dwelling on what wasn’t done. I’ll review and reset my priorities for February.

Because we get to start over every month, day, hour, minute. Every breath – in and or out – is an opportunity for a reset. There’s no rule stating when your revolution must begin. Isn’t that beauty-full?

Jack Keruoac - I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page - goals check inNow, how are you checking in? What are your January wins?

XO, Jennifer

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