29.4.11

The Royal Wedding: In pictures




princesses in waiting (and escorts of course)

the queen on her way to the ceremony


Pearly Kings and Queens

Kate
a tired princess


the queen

Prince Charles/Camilla + the Middletons
the after party



My apologies for the lack of posting....after the marathon I have been kind of dead to the world and only the last few days have felt 100%.

Anyway...other big things to worry about.....a certain wedding happened today.  Not sure if you heard much in the news but William and Kate got married this morning.

We got up early and after an English breakfast headed out.  By 7:30 when we arrived at the mall, it was already completely packed.  We couldn't get very close to palace at all (people were camping out for days), so we pushed through and managed to get a decent view near the bottom next to Waterloo Place.

The atmosphere was absolutely incredible.  In 10 yrs of living in this country....never seen anything like it.  It was wonderful to see all the flags waving, the little girls dressed up as princesses, people dressed in their Sunday best and wedding hats some even dressed in wedding gowns.

It was very hard to stand for so long, even harder to take pictures because of the crowds, etc (James took his film camera, took two rolls of shots and we had an unfortunate incident at the 1hr developers...who completely destroyed the film--thank goodness we had a backup with my digital camera) but it was SOOOOOO worth it.  We saw the queen, Kate and William to and from the ceremony, the horse guards, the bands, the royals, the carriages, the dress, everything.  It was incredible and an experience I'll remember the rest of my life.

Afterwards we slowly made way through the street parties to the Shakespeare Pub near the Thames where we had an English lunch....James.... a toad in the hole and myself...fish and chips.  We then made our way back home to Greenwich where remnants of the street parties were still going on.

Speaking of parties, the palace is still alive and kicking as I write this.  England really needed today.  I'm so glad that I am able to say that I WAS HERE to be a part of it. 

Off to have tea (snacks, etc) in a bit.  To make things even more amazing its a 4 day weekend here.   What an amazing way to start the weekend.

Hoping you are all well.

Christine
xoxo


P.S.  ALL PICTURES IF USED MUST BE CREDITED TO MYSELF AND A LINK TO THIS POST PROVIDED.  NO COMMERCIAL USE PLEASE.

19.4.11

Best and Worst Moments of the London Marathon

Worst
  • Seeing 9 months of training go completely out the window with the weather on the day.
  • Because of the heat/humidity I hit the 'wall' at mile 13 (I ran till then) instead of mile 20.  Had to walk most of the rest of the way just to the finish.
  • An incredibly disappointing finish time.  They were starting to clean up....out of 35K runners I was in the last hundred or so.  If the conditions had been better, I would have finished in 6 hrs.  I finished around 7 hrs. 
  • Seeing people being taken away via ambulance after collapsing.
  • Having to stop 4 times at First Aid tents because I felt like I was having an asthma attack cause of the heat (I don't have asthma), severe muscle cramping and blisters the size of Texas.
  • Being passed by people dressed as a bus, a 90 yr old 'Robin Hood' and a man carrying an entire washing machine on his back.
  • Almost dropping out (nearly called it in at least 3 times....if it wasn't James saying no you can't stop I wouldn't have finished)
  • Having to walk to the train station afterward.
  • Being asked the day after what time we did it in.   I know time doesn't matter but its hard to know we didn't do better. 
  • The pain....every muscle in my body feels like its been hit by a bus.  I've never seen bigger blisters before in my life.  Can't seem to get rid of thirst as well despite drinking non stop. 

Best
  • The crowds.  I was so inspired by the kindness of the crowds.  James and I both put our names on our shirts and to hear your name being called when you were in floods of tears is indescribable.  It especially meant a lot when we were towards the end.  A lot of the crowds had left but there were some groups still there cheering.  Little children giving you sweets.  It meant a lot.
  • The atmosphere.  London was like one big street party.  Bands, pub parties, dj's, it was amazing. 
  • Seeing burn victims, people with no legs, people in wheelchairs, a blind man and 75-90 year olds running.  It was incredibly inspiring and a real testament to the human spirit.
  • Crossing 'thee' London Bridge at the 1/2 way mark.  One of the most incredible experiences of my life.
  • Turning the corner at St James' Park next to Buckingham Palace and seeing the finish line.  I couldn't stop crying.
  • Knowing I raised money for charity. (P.S.  There's still time to donate)
  • Finishing and feeling very proud of myself for sticking through despite the time, when so many were dropping out or being carted away to the hospital.
  • The full body massage at a spa the day afterward and an incredible lunch out where I ate like a football player and didn't have to feel guilty.
  • Getting this:



P.S.  There will be more pics coming in the next week or so as we get them back.  Plus....James and I have decided that today begins our journey to the NYC marathon.  I know I can get a better time and not sure if I want to do London again.  Hoping Nov 2012 or 2013.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime....I've got blisters and sore muscles to nurse.  :)

14.4.11

Marathon survival Kit


They say it takes a village....but on Sunday its going to take all this to get me through 26.2 miles.    Dextrose tablets, fruit snacks, deep heat (for before and after), pure beetroot juice shots (nasty but incredibly helpful), soluble pain tablets to put in our water bottles that will also have re hydration salts in them, a granola bar with spirulina in it and a disposable camera (no way in heck I'll take my compact and have it dropped).

Not pictured is:  our water bottles (strapped to our back), Vaseline to help chafing (uhhumm*) and a banana.  I know that the marathon provides water and snacks too.....but believe me we'll be using everything they give us and then some.

We picked up our marathon numbers last night and it made things oh soooo very real.  I think I'm in disbelief a bit that yes I am doing this.  The jitters and butterflies and the feeling like a fat girl are starting to go away.  I'm just ready to conquer this damn thing now.

I'm signing off here till next week.  Being present and mentally there is something I'm going to be working on the next few days.  Some gentle yoga, walking in nature, getting rid of 'internet' distractions will help me.  I'm going to do everything I can to enjoy the day.  This is an incredible gift of a life-changing experience.  I want to embrace every minute.

I've managed to raise $825 for my chosen charity 'Room to Read' with sponsorship for this race.  This will send 3 girls to school for an entire year.   I would love to see if I could get to an even $1k which would fund the publication and distribution of 1k children's books if you could believe.  That's a lot of good sent in the world.  I know its a tough time financially for many people right now...but even $5-10 would really help

If you can't sponsor me, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers this Sunday.  I shall be back next week with pictures and stories from the day.

Christine
xoxox

9.4.11

Weekend Inspiration: Sarah Winward

I was going to post this tomorrow, but I had some unexpected extra time this afternoon and thought why not just post it today!!

I cant remember how I found the blog 'David + Sarah' but I was instantly drawn to the pictures.  I've seen a lot of blogs and a lot of pictures on internet -and and the number 1 thing that makes me personally want to stay is the photographs.   Sarah Winward's pictures are absolutely gorgeous plus David and Sarah share a love of travel like I do.  So I was hooked.

I should clarify that they aren't expats though (who have been featured in interviews recently).  I don't really think you need to live abroad to have a sense of adventure.  I wanted to throw in a few inspiring people into my interview series who share my values....thus this interview.

1- You recently returned from traveling several months around the Middle East and India. What brought you there?

I am currently on my last semester of studying the Middle East in school. For my major I have to spend three months abroad, and write a paper about it. It is a pretty general requirement, and we thought we would take advantage of that. So we planned our trip to start in North Africa doing an internship at Peacock Pavilions in Marrakech, Morocco. Then we would move to the Middle East and knock out a few of the places we have always wanted to visit. We ended up spending longer than we planned in a few places so we didn’t make it to others….but we still feel good about it. India was a spur of the moment decision. We had been to India together in 2007, this is actually where we were engaged. We saw how cheap flights to India were from Dubai and we jumped at the chance.


2- It wasn't your first time abroad as you've been to Iceland before. Do you think traveling is in your blood now?

Absolutely, yes. It is in our blood like an incurable disease. I have always had a bad case of wanderlust that I rarely attempt to describe to anyone but David. John Steinbeck suffered from it too, he describes it in the book Travels With Charley:

“When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me,
I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.
When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age.
In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever, and now that I am
fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.
Nothing has worked.  


Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to
tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod
hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye,
the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage.
In other words, I don't improve; in further words, once a bum always a bum.
I fear the disease is incurable. I set this matter down not to instruct others but to
inform myself.


When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of
a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet,
the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going.
This to the practical bum is not difficult. 

He has a built-in garden of reasons to choose from. Next he must plan his trip in time and space, choose a direction and a destination. And last he must implement the journey. How to go, what to take, how long to stay. This part of the process is invariable and immortal. I set it down only so that newcomers to bumdom, like teen-agers in
new-hatched sin, will not think they invented it. 

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to
wreckages on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the
blown-in-the-glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the
frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to
be wrong is to think you control it. I feel better now, having said this,
although only those who have experienced it will understand it. 


3- Do you feel like traveling has changed you and David? if so How?

Absolutely. It has changed the way we view the world, and ourselves in it. I think traveling is as essential to a person’s well being as eating, and as important in their education as addition and subtraction. Every time we visit somewhere, a new and different understanding of the world is learned; and each one changes us.




4- Your pictures are GORGEOUS! What's in your camera bag?

I have a Canon 7d with a canon 17-85 mm lens.

I have no idea how to use it, I just push buttons until I get the look I want to achieve. Taking a class to learn how to use is it was at the top of my list of things to do before we left, but I didn’t make it. The panoramic pictures from trip were taken with a little Sony Cybershot…its really only good for the panoramic feature.



5- You are quite a talented floral designer. Do you think studying design has helped you take better pictures?

Thank you! I never actually studied floral design….I was a bucket scrubber at flower shops for years and then I just taught myself. I think that my appreciation for beauty and pleasing aesthetics helps in anything creative I undertake, photography included.



6- What would you recommend to those who may be afraid to visit countries like India, Israel, Egypt, etc? What were the people like? Did you have any expectations beforehand?

If someone is afraid to visit these parts of the world because of fears that have been instilled in their heads (most likely by the media…) I say that the only cure for it is to visit these places themselves.

Culture shock is….shocking. But it is good for you.
India is possibly my favorite place in the world so far. But-India is not for the weak of heart. I heard an acronym for I.N.D.I.A. “I’ll Never Do It Again”. This is mostly funny to me because it could not be further from the way I feel…..but like I said, it is not for everybody.

I had an earth shattering experience the first time we went to India in 2007. I was young and so very naïve. We had to fly through several countries in the Middle East on the way home, and I thought I was going to be flying through a war zone the whole way. All I knew about the Middle East was that the US had invaded Iraq, and I had naively allowed myself to think that terrorism and war was all that there was to the Middle East. I was shocked by how gorgeous and serene the landscapes were, how pristine the airports were and how incredibly kind the people were. However, we just had layovers so it only peaked my interest in the region. I came home and signed up for an Arabic class shortly thereafter. This is how I began to study, and fall in love with the Middle East, an area that I had only negative thoughts about before seeing first hand. The further I got into my education the more I loved the rich historical, cultural, and political history of the region.

When we arrived in the Middle East we were constantly amazed by the kindness of the people, and the beauty of the land. On several occasions people we had just met offered to take us in for a meal or show us around for the day. Being invited to someone’s home for a meal is something that no trip to the Middle East should go without. These experiences are some of our favorites from the trip. In these afternoons in conversation over home cooked food we learned so much about life, and the goodness that is in people’s hearts. We left each of these experiences with clear heads and vows to live our lives differently.

We ran into political upheaval just about everywhere we went on our trip. We found ourselves in some delicate situations. It was in these moments however, that locals took our comfort and safety into their own hands. They made sure that we were out of harms way. Each person wanted to make sure that we knew that they loved Americans, and want us to continue to visit their countries and learn about the real Middle East. My plea to anyone who has fears of visiting sensitive regions is to make sure that you are choosing your media sources well. Balance your media diet, and never take anything you hear from just one source as fact. There are of course things to be aware of, but do not let this stop you from missing out on what their cultures have to offer.



7- What inspires you?

To put it simply, people, nature, literature, food, and travel (!).

8- Tell us one tip that you've learned along the way that would improve a photo.

I am no good for technical advice about shooting pictures, I need
to learn that myself. But I think that the way you frame your picture is the most important. I have specific angles that I like, and I think are more interesting than what you usually see. Sometimes my pictures may not be the most accurate representation of what I am photographing because they are blurry or only show part of a building, I think they catch the emotion that I want to provoke.


9- Do you think traveling changed your photography?

Yes. Even just because it means I have taken more pictures, and through that I have found the look I like.


10- So what's next for you and David?

When we are not traveling we live a fairly normal life at home. David has a 9-5 (albeit flexible when we go on vacations), and I am finishing up school. We have been remodeling our home for a few years, and we usually do yard work all weekend. David crochets abstract art in his spare time, and I am building my floral business. We keep a hive of bees, in our vegetable garden, and enjoy outdoor activity.

We plan on taking a lot of short camping trips locally this summer, and then we will be heading to New Zealand this fall for the rugby world cup :)



All pictures featured in this post were taken by Sarah Winward and have been used with permission.  

8.4.11

Round Greenwich





I've stuck round Greenwich and Blackheath a lot recently.  The weather has been really nice and I've got more time since we've been cutting down on the running drastically in prep for the marathon  next week and well its nice to reconnect with the ole village again.  You can see by my pictures how much I'm sucked into nature.  I love how London has these amazing green spaces.  You wouldn't ever guess you were in one of the busiest cities in the world.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend. 


 Christine
xoxo



P.S.  Have an inspiration interview for you on Sunday.  Be sure to pop by and check it out!

5.4.11

Expat Life: Kat in Italy

I had the pleasure of meeting Kat when she came to London back in January to meet up with some blogging friends.  It was a shame I hadn't slept very well the night before and had to cut my visit short cause of tiredness.  Its very nice when you get opportunities to meet people who are in similar circumstances as yourself (i.e. living abroad) and I would have loved to chat to her longer.

I think that's why I thought it would be fun to interview Kat on her life in Italy.  She's not only a great photographer and very kind, but she's also got a wealth of wisdom that I greatly admire.


1) So where are you from?

I’m from Oregon, in the United States. For those of you who don’t know US geography well, it’s the state above California on the Pacific coast.

2) Where do you currently live?


Vedano al Lambro, Italy. It’s a small town outside of Milan, next to Monza. Motorsport fans will know the Monza Autodromo, we live a couple of kilometers away and can hear the races from our home.

3) What brought you to Italy?

I came to Italy for a two year work assignment for my job. I’m an engineer, and I’m working as the interface for a supplier here in Italy and the company I work for in the US. My husband, ten-year-old son and cat came along with me as well.


4) How has living abroad changed you?

Living abroad has changed me in ways I never expected. Living in another culture cuts things down to your fundamental assumptions of how things work and what motivations people have. I didn’t realize how big a role culture plays in our personal development until living here. An interesting thing happens when some of your fundamental assumptions are proven to be cultural – you start to be aware of assumptions in all areas of your life, and to ask yourself “is this true?” more often. There are more ways of doing things and thinking about a situation than I would have ever realized without this experience; it’s opened me up to new ideas.


Living in Italy and travelling in Europe has come for me at a perfect time, as I was ready to look at life in a different way. The art, the culture and the history of everything around me have helped me to fall in love with art and creativity again. It’s ignited my passion for photography and helped me find my artistic eye. I go home calling myself an “artist” – a big step in a new direction, with living abroad as the catalyst.




5) Whats the best thing about living in Italy? the worst?

Italy is full of art, beauty and history. The attention to beauty and detail in some areas, along with the textures wrought by time and neglect in others, is a perfect combination for my art. I also love the “piazza lifestyle,” where you take the time to get out, sit on the piazza and drink a coffee or eat gelato. The pace seems more relaxed, it’s not all about the quest for the “almighty dollar” but more about enjoying life.


The worst thing about Italy for me has to be the way rules are viewed as suggestions, subject to individual interpretation. It is hard to figure out how to get something done, when the answer changes depending on who you talk to. It sometimes works in your favor, because you can talk your way through some interesting situations, but in a corporate work environment with contracts and specifications at stake it has made things more challenging.


6) What would you say to anyone looking to leave everything and move to a foreign country?

Do it! It will be the most amazing experience of your life. Even as you do it, be ready for the most challenging experience in your life as well. I think a move abroad stresses every “crack” in your self and your relationships. You will find out the truth to the statement, “Where ever you go, there you are.” Whatever baggage you carry with you, it will show up magnified when you are living abroad. The beauty of the whole experience for me has been to work through whatever came up and come out stronger.

Since my experience was only a temporary move, a little over two years total, I think that made adjustment a bit easier. To pick up and move permanently would be quite different.


7) How has the language adjustment been for you? Do you speak Italian? Have you started having dreams in Italian?

Language adjustment has certainly had its ups and downs. When we got here, I had been taking lessons for a few months but could barely function. It was stressful to not understand much of anything, or to be able to communicate basic needs. My language skills peaked eight to ten months into the assignment, when I finished up my lessons. By that time I had realized I could function at a minimal level for day-to-day living and wanted more time for exploring art. Since I work in English (even here in Italy) and knew I would only be here for two years I didn’t have a strong personal motivation for fluency. I made a conscious choice to not actively pursue further study of the Italian language, so I could spend my free time pursuing art and creativity. For me, it has been a good choice.

8) What would you say the biggest difference between Italians and Americans are?


One of the biggest differences is the American individualism compared to the Italian sense of relationship and community. In Italy, you are part of a group and doing what you can to support the relationships and the group is fundamental. They are baffled about things like the American approach to health care.

In every day life here, you see over and over again how having a relationship with someone changes the dynamic of a situation completely. It’s one of the reasons why things work even though rules are often suggestions. Everything is negotiable, you just have to find the right person to discuss it with and develop a relationship. This is completely different from the US, where we have processes and rules which are (for the most part) fixed and it’s frowned upon to bend the rules for your friends or family.



9) As a photographer what's one way that we can instantly improve a shot?

Here’s the first thing that came to mind as I read your question: Have a clear idea of what you are trying to convey in your photo. You might look at something and think it’s pretty so you take a picture. But what about it is pretty? How can you portray your subject to highlight it’s “prettiness?” What caught your eye? Maybe you need to unclutter the background or contrast it with something else in the frame. Maybe you need change your angle, or to zoom in. Thinking about what you want to convey in the photo and then making adjustments to better display your subject is a small thing which can make a big difference in your photos.



10) Do you think living abroad has changed your photography?

Yes and no.


On the “Yes” side:
It has increased my knowledge, since I’ve had the opportunity to practice often and in many different situations. Taking many, many photos in our travels and then sorting through to find the best ones for my blog has also helped me to identify and refine my style, which is a huge confidence-booster. I have been able to get to the core of what I like and don’t like to photograph along with what motivates me in photography. I have learned to be myself as an artist, to be different from what might be popular with confidence.

On the “No” side:
Looking back at the photographs I was taking before moving abroad, I see similarities to my photography today. I can see my style was already there. What was lacking was the clarity of my vision and the confidence which has come to me through the increased photographic experience I’ve had here in Italy. Realizing I’ve always had this inside of me has been a great thing to learn, and is the premise behind my Find Your Eye e-courses. I believe everyone has a unique vision, it’s a matter of finding it and owning it. You don’t have to live abroad to find your eye.



11) What's next for you?


In July we move back to our home in the US. Repatriating will be interesting, I’m sure I’ll learn even more about myself and how I’ve changed from this experience. I’ll continue blogging and everyone will be able to follow along. My next session of Find Your Eye classes will also start in July, I can’t wait to meet some new artists online through teaching the course.

Before the move we are travelling as much as possible, within work and school vacation allowances. I am making the most of my time in Italy, I don’t want to go back with any regrets!

12) If heaven exists what would you like god to say when you reach the pearly gates?


Welcome! You’ll find the library straight ahead, the art museums are down on the right past the art supply stores, and the Mexican restaurant is to your left. We’re about to serve afternoon tea, won’t you join us?


**All picture are the property of Kat Sloma and have been posted here with permission.

4.4.11

Lately











My life lately besides running of course.  Not much time left till the big day.



P.S.

Keep James in your prayers.  His current job at Parliament ends on 30 April.