Caravan Sonnet: 2018

12/31/18

goodbye 2018, hello 2019

2018 is a year that seems impossible to put simply into a few words. 

Like many of you it held some incredible highs (even starting off the first day of the new year in a castle on our European river cruise !!), amazing places in the world that I fell in love with (hello Switzerland & Alaska!!), time with family, special relationships & precious text/skype messages, lots of laughter, starting to see HUGE healing steps in my health journey, an official "Cancer Free" 5 year celebration, learning to ski, starting to run, adventures with friends, a special Disney trip, seeing dreams starting to come to pass...& a hundred million other little details that happened behind the scenes...

but 2018, among the joy, has held tears & brokenness (especially since the accident). These last few months have been incredibly painful, difficult (in intensely private & personal ways) & finishing up the last treatment round of 2018 these past few days have seemed to be more about "surviving" than "thriving"...and I know many of you have also experienced that feeling this year in various ways...

So as we approach this new year, my prayers are simple for us friends...not for a bunch of resolutions to make things "better" to be met, but for tender grace to meet us all each day, for resolutions on believing in hope in the waiting, for plans that change our hearts to love lavishly those around us, for blessings & miracles to come from the seemingly impossible, for peace in letting go & living in forgiveness, for longings fulfilled & prayers answered & most of all for hope as we watch expectantly at what God will do...

May God bless you abundantly as we embark on a new season & year friends! Cheering you on in this upcoming year...

"I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year with Thee, O Father, as my harbor, Thee, O Son of my helm, Thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails." 
//The Valley of Vision//

12/24/18

Merry Christmas Friends!

“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair shall not go on forever.”
- Isaiah 9:1-

Friends, I wish I could send each and every one of you a Christmas card this year! Let me be honest... not everyone even on my list got a Christmas card and some of you reading it are saying ... "um... and my envelope was definitely not decorated." True. True. *smiles* Thank you for your gracious patience with understanding that finances were a bit tight this year in being able to send out all of the cards I would have liked to. 

Please know that from the bottom of my little heart I am sending warmest wishes for a wonderful Christmas to you and your loved ones. May you be abundantly blessed by His love, joy, comfort, and most of all His peace these next few days and as we approach 2019. 

I am taking a bit of a break from work and blogging these next few days and look forward to connecting over on Instagram (after Christmas) some in the next week but will be back here in blog world regularly starting Wednesday, January 3rd. From now until then, I am sending love across this space. I know that some of you are feeling very "unseen" and "forgotten" this Christmas season... please know you are not. I am praying right now that you will feel specifically and tenderly loved by God in unique and personal ways these next few days.

With Lots of Love and warmest wishes,

12/23/18

Self-Confidence Is The Aim Of The Game

Self-confidence is something that you feel when you trust in your abilities and your qualities as a human being. It’s an important part of your health and wellbeing, and it’s a way for you to feel good about yourself every single day. The problem? If you have no confidence in yourself, you won’t believe that you can be successful in your personal and professional life. When you believe in yourself, you’re willing to try something new. Whether that’s switching between hobbies or getting dressed in the morning in something that makes your soul sing, you need to find what it is that makes you feel confident and run with it!

When you feel more confident in yourself, you are more willing to try new things and this then translates into feelings of logic when it comes to working out what would make you happy. You can devote as much energy as possible to what will make you feel good and feel confident in what you’re doing, and it’s how you find passions in life. Perhaps you aren’t feeling confident enough to go shopping for new dresses in https://www.fillyflair.com, but that can change. You shouldn't waste time and effort worrying that what you’re wearing isn’t good enough, you should just spend time thinking about what will make you look and feel good. The right shopping trip can make you feel beautiful and ready to take on the world. The question is whether you are ready to take on board what you need to do to boost your confidence or not.
Silhouette of Man Raising His Hands
Image Source


  • Stop comparing yourself to other people. There is so much of yourself that gets snatched away because you’re busy thinking about what others are thinking about you. Worrying about what others are doing with their lives just snatches your own happiness. Feel pride in the way that someone else is living their life, and then concentrate on how to improve your own.
  • Take care of your body with exercise and eating well. You are going to feel more confident with more energy and the more you eat well, the better the energy you have. Being sluggish and not working out is only going to make you feel bad about yourself, and you shouldn't have to put yourself through it. Making self-care a priority for you is going to help you to see that you are important; as vital as anyone else.
  • Treat yourself with more kindness. Use kind words when you are describing yourself and think about the way your words are like needles in your skin if you didn’t clean them up. You need to consider how you speak about yourself, too, because the way you talk about yourself to other people matters.

Confidence is always going to be the preference, and no matter how many people you have around you, you need to consider the way that you feel about yourself first. You matter, and as long as you know that, you can grow your confidence well.

*contributed post*

12/20/18

CBC Holiday Sing-In 2018

If y'all have been around this blog for even a short amount of time than you know that I love music ...and this holiday season has been incredibly special as every weekend has held a beautiful Christmas concert of some sort. Some have been local (and included a high school choir- which y'all know I would love!), some have been at a nearby university, and two weeks ago we headed up to Montreal for the CBC Sing-In which was so incredible! 

We had never done this before and it was a little bit of a trip but it was simply delightful! The CBC Sing-In (it was the 39th year of it happening!) is Montreal's biggest and oldest sing-along which takes place at the Church of St. Andrew & St. Paul and also is held at Bourgie Hall. 

Several months ago I was looking for holiday activities to do in the surrounding area and came across this event. The tickets (which are free but are still required to guarantee a spot at either location) went on sale in November and we grabbed a few- excited to experience this event. 

Y'all... it was seriously just lovely. The concert featured a choir, the Sing-In Brass and percussion ensemble, and  organist Jonathan Oldengarm and conductor Jean-Sébastien Vallée.

If you would like to see more photos from the event (or listen to it) you can find more on the website HERE

It was such a fun holiday event to do and we are already planning to go back again next year! 

Happy Thursday friends! I hope your week is finishing up well! 

12/19/18

Travel Advice For The Money Conscious

Photo by sasint from Pixabay
Money drives most of the decisions that we make in life. If you’re someone who has a passion for fitness then you might be looking at new workout equipment or a diet plan like the KetoLogic lose weight in 30 days strategy. But us travelers like to get out there and explore, even when our budget isn’t as high as we’d like it to be. So here are some suggestions on saving money when traveling abroad.

Flights
Getting around is usually the most expensive part of any travel. Flying comes with high expenses and finding out how to save on them can be easier said than done. Well here are some ideas for those of you looking to travel on a budget.

There are many companies out there who are looking to save you money on your flights, but you should be careful who you book through because there are scams out there and some websites also give priority to paid advertisements. One group that is leading the fight against airline prices is Scott's Cheap Flights. They scour the web looking for the best flight deals and collate them all for people signed up to their service. There are equivalents around the world where rather than relying on algorithms, experts take the time to find the best deals for you.
Photo by Tama66 from Pixabay

Accommodation
After flights, it is fair to suggest that accommodation is an expensive part of the travel process. However, it doesn’t have to be thanks to the many different avenues you can now use to have a roof over your head on your travels. The traditional hotel has become cheaper in certain parts of the world thanks to the competitive nature of online booking websites like Booking and Trivago. However, there is also a newer market that has taken over which you are no doubt aware of, which is the ability for the average person to advertise their property on websites like Airbnb for travelers to use. This market has grown in a way that few people saw coming ten years ago and is now one of the leading, and cheapest, ways of booking accommodation when you travel. Cheap is good but what is even better is that due to the much broader range of options now available to the average traveler you get more bang for your buck as well.

Things To Do
Finally, once you’ve arrived in your destination and put your bags down in your accommodation you’re going to want to get out and about. Before you set foot on the plane you should research all of the free things that the city or country you are visiting has to offer. Different countries have various approaches to tourist attractions, some offer you the opportunity to buy a pass that heavily discounts activities while some just ask for a donation.

That word research is key to anyone who has the travel bug. You must research to make sure you get the best price, accommodation and attractions.

*contributed post*

12/18/18

Zermatt // Switzerland

Happy Tuesday friends! It is hard to believe that there is only ONE week left till Christmas! Have you finished all of your Christmas shopping? We are pretty much ready over here. This year we have gone simple. Simple in decorations. Simple in expectations. Simple in delighting in the seemingly "small" but most important aspect of each of our lives: people. This has been one of the richest holiday seasons... finding joy and beauty in the everyday... honoring the space between what was and not yet... and falling in love with the true meaning of this season.

My heart entered into this season broken in many ways... I was hurting deeply from some personal situations and I have found grace meeting me at each day...and some beautiful answers to some deeply personal prayers that are the best gifts. I hope that you have encountered peace and grace meeting you each day friends.
Today I am so excited to share with y'all some pictures from our trip to Switzerland last year! It is hard to believe that it is a year ago that we embarked on our Viking Cruise trip (absolutely amazing!) and that trip remains a very special place in my heart. While it was a writing job trip, it was the most beautiful and sacred trip for my mom and I. I will truly treasure it always! 
Before the Viking Cruise trip started on December 29th, my mom and I decided to spend a short 48 hours in Switzerland exploring on our own. We flew out of Boston on December 26th and landed in Basel, Switzerland (where our cruise was departing from) on Wednesday, December 27th. We checked into our hotel in the early afternoon (around 3pm) and then took a quick hour nap before heading out to Bern. We spent a couple of hours exploring that city, walking around, walking through the Christmas markets, seeing some beautiful cathedrals, before heading back to our hotel for the night. The next day (December 28th) we left early in the morning to catch a couple of trains that took us down to Zermatt.
We chose Zermatt because my mom had always wanted to see the Matterhorn, and I was desiring to see any of the beautiful mountains of Switzerland. I had never been to Switzerland before (but had heard so many beautiful stories from my mom and my grandmother) that I had always wanted to go. 
Now, if you have been around this blog for any amount of time you know that I say this about a lot of places but I truly fell in love with Switzerland. I honestly think that is why I was so enamored with my time in Hatcher Pass (Alaska) this past summer- the beauty reminded me of each place. Anyways... there are places that you visit when you travel and sometimes you walk away and say, "wow, that was really amazing to see" but you don't necessarily want to go back... and then there are places that you visit and you say, "when is the next time I can come?" *smiles* For me 2018 held two of those incredible travel trips with the time in Switzerland and my trip to Alaska. All of that to say... plan a trip to both places. *smiles*.
Zermatt is a beautiful place located in southern Switzerland (from Basel it took us about 3 hours by train to reach it). It is a mountain resort city that is known for skiing (obviously) and hiking. The town lies beneath the Matterhorn peak and as you walk along the adorable streets you can see the mountains surrounding in 360 views this beautiful place. 
The main street (Bahnhofstrasse - you saw a picture of the street sign above) is lined with boutique hotels, shops, and restaurants. The town also includes homes, apartments, and various lodges and includes a cathedral and has public outdoor rinks for ice-skating. 
What started out as a agricultural community till the mid-19th century has transformed into a booming tourist skiing and climbing attraction place to visit. Much of the local economy is now from tourism and as of 2017 we learned that there is only approximately 1/3 of the permanent population that was actually born in the town. Most have moved from other places outside of Switzerland to come and work and live and play in Zermatt.
The village was "discovered" in the mid 1800s by British mountaineers. It was Edward Whymper (a British mountaineer) who made the village famous because of his conquest of the Matterhorn. What was surprising for me to learn in my research was that the Matterhorn was one of the last of the Alpine mountains to actually be conquered (1865). That really isn't that long ago when you consider the span of history.
While the beginning expedition of the Matterhorn ended in tragedy (only 3 of the 7 hikers survived the descent trek), the mountain was officially conquered and is now the starting point for many hikes, including the Haute Route which was first used at the conquest.
There are 12 total towns that are considered "the Best of the Alps" with Zermatt included as one of them. It was honestly easy to see why it was chosen as one of the 12 because the quaint Switzerland architecture and village life surrounded by the mountains was stunning.
We spent most of our time up at Gornergrat (which I can't wait to share more about with y'all!) but it was fun to walk through, explore, and see the village of Zermatt. This church was particularly a special and unique thing to see because of my family's historical connection to it.
Many decades ago, my grandmother ("Ba") and grandfather took a very special trip before he passed away to Europe. There are pictures in her home that I have always seen from their trip, including this church and the top of Gornergrat (at a restaurant that my mom and I ate at!). It was surreal to see this place and walk in the same area that my grandmother had done so many years ago. What a neat experience to see this part of the world like they did!
Just a side note too- we looked at staying in Zermatt for a night but the cost was just too much. If you want to explore Zermatt and are finding the same issue I would definitely recommend looking at staying in Basel or Bern like we did and then taking the train down to Zermatt. The train ride itself was breath-taking during the day time and at night it was a beautiful ride back through the lit up Swiss countryside. It was a beautiful experience in itself that I can't recommend enough. 
Thanks so much for reading along today friends! I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Zermatt! I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday!