Tuesday, September 29, 2015

humble as we grow, brave as we wander, honest as we search

This weekend I traveled to Bayonne, France, San Sebastian, Spain, and Saint-Jean-De-Luz, France.

I sat on a bus early Saturday morning with the intention of catching up on sleep before the very full weekend. Traveling abroad has taught me that some of my most deep, purposeful thinking takes place on a bus. Or a train, or a plane, or walking aimlessly through a new city. I think it's simply the act of going somewhere new and surrendering to an unknown place that gets me thinking about what I ultimately want for myself.

I stared out the square bus window and watched the cities and rolling fields pass by. Sometimes when I am traveling I will I see a pair of shutters, light blue and sun-bleached yellow, and I imagine them on a home I will own one day. I see laundry hanging out the window, and I picture myself in a home with crisp linens displayed on a clothesline. I think about a life where I bike to work, live minimally, and write often.

Staring out the bus window, I thought about the changes I am making to my habits and routine to best reflect the life I want to live. It sounds silly, but I started thinking about how the sun is the same wherever you go. How trees are trees and flowers are flowers. And we are who we are, wherever we go. It's the intentions we set behind the places we travel that change us, not the places themselves.

A new home doesn't change or alter our past. A new city will still remind us of our upbringing and rusty roots. Being anonymous in a foreign town doesn't mean we forget who we are.

Instead, I like to believe that traveling restores who we are while reminding us that we are just fragile human beings with so much left to learn and see. That there is work to be done to become who we wish to become. Traveling outside our homes allows us to venture outside our everyday thinking, beliefs, and mindsets.

It reminds us to be humble as we grow, brave as we wander, and honest as we search.

Here are some photos from this weekend.

aquarium in San Sebastian

is this fish not totally smiling with me or what?!


 Wishing you all a beautiful week! xo, Katie


Monday, September 14, 2015

What's this love?

The rainy streets were empty besides the three of us. Three girls who were nearly strangers just two weeks ago. Now, we walked shoulder to shoulder talking about the difficulties of being so far from home and the beauty in those difficulties, too. One of us would occasionally stop and point out how spectacular something was: the shape of a tree, the shutters of a window, the arches of a walkway.

I don't know who stumbled upon it first and it really doesn't matter. We all spotted the three words carved into the sidewalk: "What's this love?"

Whenever I see a sticker stamped somewhere, words written on a wall or street, or any sort of tag, I try to imagine the person who put it there. What made them feel the urgency to write that, right there?

The small question was written in English so I assumed it was maybe a traveler just like the three of us. I imagined a young man with a backpack big enough for a year long adventure. I imagined him wandering the streets of Pau, France with the same awe and wonder I had for the old city.

I imagined him thinking about all the things he would like to see and all the people he would like to meet but being okay with just being here. Where his feet were firmly planted and not needing to know more than the fact that he was living, pursuing, moving forward, and experiencing love.

What's this love?

For me, this love is Pau, France. It's a stillness in this season of my life. I don't know what the day will bring when I wake up. I don't speak the language, and I am not yet familiar with the streets, the culture, or the people. But I feel a kind of security and safety in my own presence. Not being attached to my routine allows me to roam freely and with curiosity.

This love is permission to pursue my goals. I never thought I would be able to study abroad until I started focusing my energy on just that. I barely had $200 in my savings account when I applied to the study abroad program and started planning for this big adventure. I would wake up each day and set the intention that I was going to make it happen for myself. I had this noisy curiosity for travel. I was always looking at maps, watching foreign films, tracing the spines of every Lonely Planet Guide in Barnes and Noble. Being here is a love and joy that I can't properly explain. We all deserve that kind of love and joy- one we can't properly express with any combination of words and one we know we cultivated for ourselves.

This love is priceless. It's waking up each day and quieting every voice of self-doubt I've had and whispering instead, "you're more than halfway there," when I look out my window and see this new, foreign city. This love is a promise to myself to fully live out my life. I never want to feel like I'm just existing. I want to fully experience joy, support my curiosity, dive head first into my questions, my fears, my desires, and more. I want to constantly challenge myself.

Most of all, this love is shared. We are never entirely alone in our journey, our struggles, or our trials. I realized this as I stood with two of the kindest girls I've ever meet who are both from different yet similar walks of life. Our experiences are not singular. As we share our honest truths, any sort of shame, grief, and doubt, turns away. We make room for connection and growth instead of isolation and fears. We are all trying to find our way. And the road is often messy, covered in rain, and sometimes has questions carved into sidewalks. We don't have to always understand or act like we know just what to do next.

We just have to keep moving forward.

Wishing you all a beautiful week! I would love to hear from you- how would you answer the question: what's this love? I shared a lengthy Instagram post about this, but you can write a sentence, a short story, send a photo, draw a photo, write a poem, attach a video, whatever you feel is fit. You can tell about a specific memory or an overall feeling. There's no wrong way, just send it over to and with your permission, I'll share some of them on my blog. xo.

And don't forget to share what you are grateful for over on Ember Grey for grateful heart Monday.

Here are some photos from my latest adventures in Paris, Tour, and Pau.

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