Finishing my 30th year

I thought I’d care when I turned 31. I thought I would feel old. I don’t. I do however feel like I need to make the most of my life.

The insight I have into myself and my body gets better each year. I understand when I need help, whether it’s to talk it out with a friend, head to the chiropractor, or need to cry it out. A good cry can really do wonders!

My dreams are similar to last year’s except they have a little more fire behind them. Priorities have changed a bit and that has helped Sean and I to focus on what’s most important for us.


Jessica's Birthday Party

One of my favorite things about birthdays, are birthday parties! I love having a bunch of my friends together in one place. Some know each other, some don’t, and that’s a lot of the fun! I love having food for my friends and everyone just hanging out enjoying themselves.

We had a cookout, like last year as we don’t know if we’ll be able to have a grill next year and wanted to take advantage! It was good. We had great weather after they called for days of thunderstorms. It was even HOT!

Afterwards, we headed to our friends’ place, The Library for their store’s birthday party. It’s 2 years old! We’ve made so many friends there and was happy to share my birthday with them. Last year I tied for “Coolest Member” with the super sweet Shoshannah, and this year, they asked me to announce the award for “Best New Bar” and my favorite, Porum, won! (If you want a peak of that bar, it’s at the end of this video I did with Amsterdam Calling).

The craziest, nicest part was that the whole room sang me “Happy Birthday!” while I was on stage and I was presented with a cupcake. Talk about emotional.

When people make jokes about why you move to Amsterdam (sorry, still have never hadĀ marijuana), it’s easy to explain how far off they really are. I am grateful for my community and my friends.

Thank you for another AMAZING year!

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What’s Up 2016?

Goals. Goals. Goals.

We all have them (I think), but do we really pay any attention to them?

I struggled this last year on focus and direction in various aspects of my life. And now, after a holiday break, I feel more like the me I should be. The me that plans. The me that gets excited. The me that has drive.

You might ask, “What happened to that Jessica?” Most of you won’t understand this, but leaving everything you know and starting all over does something to a person. For the most part, it is an amazing experience that makes you grow in ways you didn’t know was possible. It makes you think and process more than you knew you were capable of. But it also stretches every mental capacity to where you are just tired of everything and tiring of thinking.

2015 was a pretty good year for us. No complaints. But we were just going through what we had to go through. It’s when Sean started his current job, when I started mine. When we got insurance. When we figured out how to go to the doctor and dentist. Made friends, and planted some roots.

Think about that for a second. First of all, that’s not even half of what we dealt with, but that’s a lot to do in a year. You think about going to a doctor, but you don’t think much of it. You’ve been doing it since you were little. Sure, you might have had to find a new one at some point, but you knew the process.

So, in 2016, now that we are more confident in our everyday life, we can move forward. I really think we needed that time. And I’m happy with that. We are going to grow A Wanderlust For Life by working with destinations, adding affiliate links, and hopefully growing our audience a lot. I have personal goals, but I don’t want to put them out there quite yet.

How will we do that? By posting twice per week, engaging on social media, networking and asking our favorite people to share their favorite post! It’s all about exposure and the right people finding us.

Other than that, I can’t wait to share all of our trips with you! I think we’re going for the #Take12Trips challenge…so I’ll keep you updated!

World Travel Market – London

In early November I embarked on a journey to learn more about the travel industry, meet fellow travel bloggers, and speak with various industry professionals.

It was exciting, scary, exhausting, and productive. I met so many great people and I hope to build on those relationships. I am not, and don’t want to be a travel blogger that feels entitled and just wants things from people…it’s about the human element for me. It’s about creating interesting and inspiring content and showcases places that those on the regular path might miss out on.

If you’re interested in reading more about the World Travel Market and my experience, you are welcome to read it all over on A Wanderlust For Life. But here, I’m going to share some of the other fun stuff I got to do in London!

For the most part I was at the ExCel (the convention center), but I did manage to go to The Who Store, take the Emarits Air Line, go on a food tour, and get a photo with some cops. That sounds more like me right? Doctor Who, cable car, food, and cops. Yep.

The Who Shop

For Christmas Sean got me a stuffed Adipose from the Doctor Who show. He is super adorable and it was a Doctor Who themed Christmas! Well, knowing I was going to try to get to The Who Shop, I took Bob (the Adipose) with me to get a photo with the T.A.R.D.I.S. The guy is the store was super nice. I mean, he sees Whovians all day. And then he told me that the owner has an Adipose too, and his name was Barry. He suggested that Bob and Barry take a photo together. Aren’t they cute?! Those who don’t understand, I can’t help you šŸ™‚

BobCollage

Twilight SoHo London Food Tour

Oh man, so so delicious! I was invited on this food tour in London by Eating Europe, and it was fabulous…except for the rain. Stupid rain. Our tour guide shared so much cool knowledge with us and the bites and drinks were the perfect amount. Surprisingly, I’d say my favorite was the meat pie. I think it was just the perfect thing for that night. Warm meat in a flaky pastry on a cold and wet night. Sounds about right. I wrote an entire post about it, you should check that out if you want to be hungry.

foodtour

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I went to this conference. I felt so guilty about spending money to go. I mean, I don’t know where A Wanderlust For Life is going. Will it be popular? Will it inspire? Does it give enough information? Does it have enough personality? Is it easy to read? Are the photos good? So many questions!

But I came back with a renewed sense of inspiration and motivation. So I can’t wait to see where we go from here!

Couples pictures

Photo by Kelvin Wu

I think it is important to continually take photos throughout your relationship, friendship, time away, while traveling…really for everything. Sadly, memories fade and I love to have something else to hold onto. We wanted photos for our 5 year anniversary … Continue reading

Independence Day in Amsterdam

The Library with Flag

There are some holidays that you just aren’t quite sure what to do with yourself. Maybe it’s not celebrated where you are living, or you feel like you should acknowledge it, but not sure how. It was definitely that way with Christmas, but Independence Day is such an American holiday. How do you even celebrate that abroad?

Red White Blue Flowers

Maybe you have friends who can get you into the American Consulate for their party, or maybe you have friends who own a wine shop with a Dutch and an American owner. They are sure to throw a party!

US Consulate in Amsterdam

When I met one group of friends, I found out about the Consulate party. I jokingly said “How do you get invited something like that?”. I believe the answer was “Just hang around here long enough!”. Of course, that was not the reason we hung around, but it’s so funny that 6 months later we were invited to the United States Consulate in Amsterdam for their Independence Day party.

Red White and Blue

It was PACKED! Unfortunately, Sean was not able to go, so I met up with some friends when I got there. I was decked out in my navy blue dress with white polka-dots topped off with a borrowed red belt and a pin with the USA and Netherlands flag. So patriotic!

The Library

The wine was from California, beer from the U.S., cocktails from Hard Rock Cafe, American sodas, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Starbucks iced coffee, with wedge salad, hamburgers, and hot dogs floating around. Following all of that, a delicious looking chocolate brownie was passed around, as well as mini lemon meringue pies. What a tasty event!

California Wine

I did not get a lot of photo due to the nature of the event and not wanting to be “that” person. But I feel like I should be that person more often.

Shoshannah and Me

With my fellow American, Shoshannah

On the actual 4th of July we headed to The Library. This place is practically our living room at this point…as well as many other peoples’. It was a HOT day (perfect, right?) so we headed over for the evening. I ended up standing in the kiddie pool (there were no kids) while sipping the Cava that El Bulli once served. Lots of friends were there and the smell of burgers and bacon filled the area. American flag decorations were everywhere and all-American songs and videos were playing. What a fun and chill way to spend the 4th of July abroad.

The Big 3-0

 

Turning 30

I have officially been on this planet for three decades…three! It bothered me for a while, but then I thought about so many different reasons why it is amazing.

  • I’m still alive. YAY me!
  • I have some of my own life secrets figured out (plenty more to get through)
  • I think I spent my 20’s well. No regrets.
  • Hopefully I have plenty more time left on this planet!
  • It’s a milestone that makes you think about what you really want out of life

I wrote a post about my birthday party on A Wanderlust For Life and you can read it there. But I wanted to take a more personal direction with the post on this site. This is my quiet place on the internet, where A Wanderlust For Life is my baby, my brand, so I’ll keep the mushy stuff here.

Birthday Cards

This year was amazing, scary, fun, insane, and so many other things. It was just over a year ago we decided to move to Amsterdam. Though we had a plan in place, it fell through. That’s life. But things worked out and we’re still here. Now that I am 30, I am taking stock in what helps me grow, what makes me happy, who is supportive and shows me love.

My life is good. I am happy. Yes, I pretty much always show the good side of things and not the frustrations. Some things can be nerve-wracking whether they should be or not. I hate that I’m not fluent in Dutch and even more annoyed that I’m not trying as hard as I should. I know I need to register with a doctor and dentist but it seems so daunting. It hurts when I reach out to people back home but they don’t seem to reach back. Some days it’s annoying to have to go to the store because you have to go every 2-3 days…on a bike…maybe in the rain. And yes, four flights of stairs to get to my apartment gets old.

BUT, I am working on my Dutch however slowly it may be. I have access to good healthcare even if their philosophies are different than I am used to. I still love those who don’t reach back out and am grateful that they have been in my life. And you know, biking and stairs are good for me.

Birthday Group

As far as my birthday and my party went, the most all-encompassing thing I can say is that I am grateful. Grateful for the friends that came and shared in a great afternoon. Grateful for gifts, which I really wasn’t expecting! Grateful that a few people even took my camera and got some photos I wouldn’t have remembered to get. Grateful for the cards I received in the mail and all the Facebook love. I cherish all of you. Truly. Whether we talk much or not. Each of you has contributed to make me who I am today, and I can’t thank you enough for your love and friendship. You are all so special!

Pentatonix Concert

Image credit: Live in Limbo

Have you heard of the A Capella group called Pentatonix, or PTX for short? I’m not even sure how long ago I heard about them, but I am pretty sure I heard about them through our friend Rebekah on Facebook. I watched them on YouTube and got blown away at some of their songs. My favorites are “The Evolution of Music“, “Daft Punk“, “Mary, Did You Know?“, and “On My Way Home“. Check them out!

We got tickets a few months ago to see Pentatonix in Amsterdam at the Heineken Music Hall in April. It was our first concert in Amsterdam and we were so excited that it was an A Capella group. They sounded absolutely amazing. They even did one piece without microphones and we could still hear them in the back of the standing area! And yes, we stood…and I am short. But it happens. It was still a great concert! Because all the instruments are their voices, there was no way the music could be too loud like it seems to be at many concerts. It was all equally balanced to create a wonderful sounds.PTX Amsterdam

So, Scott, Mitch, Kirstie, Avi, and Kevin, thank you for an amazing show and spending two nights in Amsterdam. Hopefully you were able to experience a little bit of King’s Day, too!

 

Booking.com IT Partner’s Networking Event

Booking wall

Since Sean has started working at Booking.com it’s been obvious how much they are there to support the employee; but what we have found out recently is that they really want to help the partner of the IT employee as well. I don’t know all the details about how the departments differ in their support of partners, but I recently went to an IT (Department) Partner’s networking event. To be fair, I think most of Booking.com is IT. But either way, it was a great event!

Networking

They started the afternoon off with a coffee and muffins so we could chat with the others attending. I met a woman who just landed justĀ 4 days earlier! It’s so great that she was able to take advantage of this opportunity to meet others so quickly. Then we had a session on how to network. It was informative and full of good stories. After our break, we went into a session about getting to know yourself better. It was very interactive! I didn’t mind that so much, but I didn’t really understand it. We were askedĀ to describe someone’s traits just by looking at them. Are you confused? I was too. But it did create a lot of smiles and laughter.

Finger foods

The real mingling came after that session. Our partners got to come and join us to meet the other IT partners and mingle with their co-workers! There was food and drinks involved which seems to help any situation. Booking.com had also brought in various organizations and businesses that might be useful, particularly for the new arrivals. Everything from mortgage information to gyms to language classes to hair salons…they had a little bit of everything.

Such a cool experience! A big thanks to Booking.com for really reaching out to the partners so they can meet and mingle as well. I loved meeting new people and even got some email addresses to connect with later. This is just another reason that I am trying to find a position in the company as well. They really take care of their people!