'wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking. we're all wanderers in life.' -spanish poet, antonio machado

Thursday, July 30, 2009

oh, just one more small request...

...i ran out of perfume and can't justify spending my czech-slightly-above-average salary on a new bottle. So, if there is anyone out there who wants to ship me over some DKNY Red Delicious or DKNY Be Delicious yummy-smelling-goodness, that would be more than amazing.

love you all!

be delicious,

me

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

what i love from the states...

mmm...here was my pile o' goodies when I returned back from the states (of course it is all gone now:))! I know I owe you a blog post about home, travels to Berlin, my 6 month anniversary in Prague (nearly 7 months now - can you believe it?!) and my most recent adventure to a Polish wedding (one word: wow!), but for now I have a wanted to get a very vital blog post taken care of.

First of all, I am wondering if anyone is even reading this?! I know, I know...I've lost you due to my blog negligence, haven't I?! Ah well. I'll get you back. Maybe I will butter you up with some czech treats (can anyone say slivovice?! ;))...

So I always get the "what do you miss most from America/what can I send you from America question". Since I get this question so often, I thought I'd throw out a broad-reaching answer so we can all be a lot more efficient...and I think this spread (see pic above) pretty much says it all. If you are looking to send me a package...no more mac-n-cheese! The word got out and I have a cupboard full (thanks Laura, Stacy, Dad, etc...but I am turning into a yellow/orange noodle - no more mac!;))...so my awesome dad also sent me some good spices for cookin' (which I haven't done enough of).

I miss organic fruit leathers (see bottom left of shot for the variety), Vosges Red Fire Bars (bottom right of pic), anything from Patina - especially cool birthday/get well/thank you/etc. cards (blank ones for me to send from here, as the cards here look like they were derived from my late grandmother's card collection - nothing against it...of course...but flowers and teddy bears and the like, you know?! I'm more of the vintage 1950's crude-card or offensive + delightful card gal), shitbegone (from the green store on hennepin in uptown..because you can never have enough) and one thing I'd really love is some yummy candles. Greta sent a Voluspa candle for my bday (Vervaine Olive Leaf) and it smells gorgeous, but it is almost gone. I would die for a Voluspa santiago black huckleberry (I think that is what it is called) variety right now.

mmm.
The list goes on. I love a lil' piece of home sent my way...even (especially!) if it is a sweet card with a sweet message!
So, there you have it.
Oh, I can't tell you how excited I am to get your post! ;) hee.

Happy sending,

Me

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

a lil' prayer'll go a long way...like from praha to utah!


Hey guys...I'll keep this one short, but that is not to say it is not important. In fact, this one is very important. A week ago today a friend in my ski world sustained major head trauma after falling 30 feet off of an escalator (read about it on skiracing.com).

Here is an example of one (of the many, many) reasons I absolutely adore and value all things social networking-related...his family started a kick-ass
blog that they update daily with information about Cody's recovery. It is beyond impressive to see the outpouring of love, prayers, anecdotes and encouragement from (literally) hundreds of people - if not thousands - around the world, who are able to hang right there with the fam as Cody gradually recovers.

Cody was in Park City when the accident happened, training for the 2010 winter olympics in Vancouver. For a guy who has reached 80mph on the most challenging verticals around the world, this is certainly a tragic and unlikely accident. Reminds me more and more that life is so very fragile. So give thanks every step of the way.

Cody is a force to be reckoned with...I'm praying massively huge prayers for him from Prague (couldn't get any bigger!)...and asking that you do as well.

Thank you...each and every one of you...for being in my life. I am blessed. We all are.

(Up and at 'em, Cody!)

Love, me

Monday, July 13, 2009

(really cool) recycled words (of wisdom)...

At what moment does change happen? At what moment do we make change happen? The obvious answer to the latter is New Year’s Eve. It’s already picked for us to resolve to make a change. So we jump on the change-wagon and decide to lose weight, gain muscle, start fresh and make our lives and ourselves better.

Any moment can be significant, whether it’s 04:05:06, 07/08/09—or not. Why don’t we pick the moments to make a change? Why give New Year’s Eve the exclusive? We all know change is constant and that most change is beyond our control. So I say, let's take the reins back and be the CEOs of change. The ones who make “it” happen, because we want to and we can.

We all enjoy a degree of determination in deciding the extent that change impacts our lives. This is vital. However, any change can be stressful, whether we bring it on or it just happens. Remember: it's not so much what happens to us, but how we respond to it that really matters.

So, I now ask, "How do you respond to change?"

How we handle change is mostly inherited from our family and our upbringing. How we cope is typically how our parents coped, which stems from how their parents coped … resulting in the perpetuation of coping skills—good or bad.

Hindsight reveals what hasn't worked in the past so we can learn to be more successful in our personal and professional lives. As they say, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

So, the next question I pose is, "What is your WHY?" The answer must have sufficient meaning in order for you to lead change and keep the momentum. If you are comfortable where you are, you'll stay where you are. At that rate, why don't you just go and buy a rocking chair, as it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere. (MH: dang! preach it, Jay! Love this!

Sometimes we have to heal the past to free the present. To let go of our past so we can be who we truly are... to live our WHY! Letting go will also greatly reduce the stress in your life and free you to make change happen.

Here’s an exercise I practice in this ever-changing world that we work, live and play in. Try it yourself and see where it leads you.

STEP ONE: Think about an issue in your life that you are holding onto. Something that is holding you back from change.

STEP TWO: Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, honestly and openly.

STEP THREE: Answer the questions below "Yes" or "No" with a minimum of thought involved. Can I let this feeling go? Can I allow this feeling to be here? Can I welcome this feeling?

STEP FOUR: Are you willing to let go? If the answer is no or if you're not sure, ask yourself, "Would I rather have this feeling or would I rather be free?" If you're ready, ask yourself this question: "When?"

This is an invitation to just let it go NOW. Letting go is a decision you can make any time you choose. Repeat these steps as often as needed to uncover your freedom. Decide TODAY to get more out of life this year, this month, this day—this moment and every moment.

After all, it's just another moment in time, a moment in the middle of the year for you to decide if you want to make a change. Happy 04:05:06 07/08/09.

Always me, Jay

*I get these IMAGEHAUS (an agency in Minni) newsletters every month or so, and I love 'em, always think they're chock-full of good insight. Take it or leave it. I think I'll take it. To go, please. :)

I think this is a good lesson for us all...sometimes it's hard to let go of the pass and move on, in order to accomplish what we set out to do...*

So go on and be a change catalyst...it's fun and exhilarating,

Me

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Love in Prague...

...yep, that's right, bro - I'm stealing the title of your blog post. Sorry, couldn't help it. This is just one (of many) examples that really show you how much I look up to you! ha ha...seriously.

So, the background story on this video is that a couple of months ago my fabulous friend, Brittany sent me an email informing me that she came across this song on the radio and it reminded her of my relationship with Tom.

(side note: After returning from a 2-year stint in the Peace Corps in Niger, Africa, Brittany is embarking on a new global sojourn in Fiji. Her zest for life and traveling soul inspire me. Learn more about what she's doing on her south-spacifics blog - i love the name and i love the content. check it out).

Intrigued, I went on youtube to check out the video. Not only were the words so completely apt for my relationship with Tom, but the music video is incredibly beautiful. Here's the premise - Jason Mraz is singing to his love (Colbie Caillat) from the gorgeous cobblestone streets of Prague...while she is in some warm, sunny, brilliant location that sort of reminds me of Nicaragua (I think it is Hawaii, though).

For those of you who know me well, I've been on this whole "live abroad/work abroad" journey for quite some time, with numerous opportunities having come and gone throughout the last few years while working at global corporate giant Carlson Companies. I think I've told my story to just about everyone I know (sorry guys, but thanks for listening to me!:))...but basically I realized at some point that no matter how much time I gave corporate America, corporate America wasn't going to give me back the one thing I really wanted - a global work/life experience.

After trying so hard to seek out the opportunity that was right for me and relying on others to help me get there, I decided to take matters into my own hands and realized it was time for me to leave corporate America and move on to something...maybe not necessarily better, but different. I began to broaden my network outside of the contraints of the walls of Carlson and seek opportunities that directly correlated with my strongest passions (what a novel idea! work that correlates with one's passions?! whoa! revolutionary! ha ha...oh, and this will be a 'novel idea', as at some point I plan to write a book about this journey!) - adventure, outdoors, travel, building and sustaining relationships, etc. In doing so, I realized adventure tourism was something I wanted to pursue. Many hours -and adventure tourism website visits - later, I realized this was something I was keen to look further into.

After spin one fine Saturday (and before yoga), I was on a walk with my sweet, sweet Julie Rosenbaum, who gave me a couple of great contacts, including Larry Thraen...who was a friend of hers who had recently moved down to Nicaragua (yep, this tangent is starting to make sense now, huh?!) to start an adventure wellness tourism company, named Bodhin. It was just too good to be true. The notion of adventure wellness made me totally jazzed...organizing and facilitating hike/bike/yoga/scuba/surf adventures for burnt-out corporate executives on 'Raddical Sabbaticals' and the like?! Wow. Amazing. I loved it from the get-go.

My enthusiasm for Bodhin and Larry's mission grew after Jules put us into contact with each other and I learned more and more about the company and Larry's story. Funny enough, Larry (a Minnesota native), had worked for Carlson Marketing about ten years ago (in event planning), a sports marketing firm in L.A. with accounts like Nike (those of you who know me well know Nike has always been a dream of mine) and then relocated to Nicaragua to finally make his dream a reality. I spent the better part of June-October 2008 corresponding with Larry about a potential partnership opportunity and had the chance to meet Larry and take him to Jess' yoga class in Minneapolis when he visited.

In the midst of building this relationship, I remember having a conversation with my bro about the possibility of living in Prague. He told me, "Meg, don't make any rash decisions yet...there might be an opportunity in Prague with these guys who own a group of hostels here." As utterly amazing as Nicaragua sounded, I tabled the idea and Tom and I readied ourselves for our debut European adventure in mid-October, to Italy (Rome and Florence), Czech Republic (Prague - to visit my bro) and Poland (Krakow, Tarnow, Tuchow). Prior to the trip, Zach put me into contact with Jason Chin, Mathias Schwender and Chris Syvertsen, who owned three hostels:

1) Sir Toby's - now, I know we're not supposed to play favorites, but this one is dear to my heart for the warm vibe, communal environment and ecclectic decor (and guests!) - it is a traditional backpacker hostel Mathias opened 10 years ago (the 10th bday celebration was July 4th!). I just love it.

2) Miss Sophie's - after Sir Toby's, Mathias had a vision for a boutique/designer hostel and Miss Sophie's came to be. With lacquered cement bathrooms, rain showers, brushed steel beds, and more, the design is minimalist and gorgeous and continues to 'wow' guests (and dominate the press) today.

3) Czech Inn - I know, I know...ha ha..."Czech" - get it?! ;) Czech Inn also holds a special place in my heart, as the Hub (the central office) is located on the third floor of this beautifully restored 19th century building. Czech Inn is like a Miss Sophie's on steroids - an extension of this whole designer hostel/hotel concept, where value collides with luxury, it sleeps around 190 people and recently added 13 new double ensuites with a funky shabby-chic (you know I'm a sucker for shabby-chic!) decor. This is where I've spent much of my time here, both working in the office and managing art gallery-openings, music, comedy, etc. events.

4) Mosaic House - Still in the works, Mosaic House will be a new breed of accommodation. More to come in the future, but I can assure you it will be cool. This project will become more of a central focus in the coming months, as we ready the property to open its doors in early 2010.

So, after months of trying to make opportunities a reality, it seemed as if everything was just falling into place. I ended up interviewing with the hostels while Tom and I were visiting my brother in Prague and shortly thereafter got an offer, thought about it and prayed about it, and made a decision in November to join the gang here in Prague in January 2009. The rest is history, and I have been here for 6 months now. Wow, time flies.

Often I ponder what life would have looked like had I decided to travel to Nicaragua rather than Prague. It is interesting what direction life leads you.

I know many of you have asked me about my work here, so I thought it made sense to fill you in now. I manage the central office, where we manage reservations, guest inquiries, marketing initiatives (campaigns, collateral, partnerships, etc). I am blessed to work with an awesome group of people day in and day out.

SO...back to this video. I thought it especially interesting that she is in a warm, warm place (that looks like Nicaragua) and he is in the beautiful cobblestone streets of Prague. Finally...coming full circle here (thanks for hanging with my crazy mind!):). The words of the song are simply beautiful, and the video captures the essence of Prague's beauty so perfectly. It may have been overplayed in the States, but being in this Eastern block country, I hadn't heard it so I absolutely love it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...



Thanks to Boo for sending me this beautiful song. I love you, Boo - and I am thinking about and praying for you as you begin your new journey in life!

Love from Praha,

me

p.s. I am continually amazed by the art of writing...much like the creative designers I work with, I always seem to start with a concept (simply showing this video and giving a little background) and end up with a completely different product than I had anticipated (telling the story of how this whole journey came to be a reality)...simply brilliant.

Monday, July 6, 2009

i just drank my spin class...

I know just what you're thinking. Well, it's two things, actually. #1: first REAL blog post in a while...where the heck have you been, girl?! and #2: she doesn't even make sense anymore...what does that title even mean?! Well, allow me to explain myself.

First of all, I must apologize for my little blog hiatus. I know I keep telling you I have all of these amazing blog entries up my sleeve and then I come up short. NAWT GOOD! :) Well, now I hope to make it up to you with some amazing blog entries in the coming days...starting with this one, "i just drank my spin class." Phew...this one has been a long time coming!

So, I ventured to Praha with some high hopes for my physical shape during my stint here. All this talk of saugages, fried cheese, potato dumplings, beef in gravy, strawberry dumplings, schnitzel and etc. didn't scare me. I was determined...

...that is, until I realized that there were a) very few suitable gyms (hey, I have high standards...for a reason. two words: The Firm) and b) eating dumplings is a way of Prague life.

Wonderful Greg (he's a pastor and he rocks!) holds the Firm float's sign!

(11 July) I just got this note from my dad, "Please take care of yourself and get some sleep and exercise." Yikes...he knows I've been eating too much syr (cheese) and dumplings too. :)
So, it is sad - but true - that I haven't worked out consistently in 6 months. Who would of thought?! But, when I went home for vacay a couple of weeks ago I had a chance to dive back into The Firm. And man, did I dive! First of all, my amazing Firm family accepted me with open arms and let me clean while I was home so I could do the whole workout thang on the cheap. Thank you to Laura, Doug, Kelly and Neal for being the best gym managers and owners a slightly-soft-missing-the-gym gal could have:). It was so refreshing to be around these people - these people who have become some of the most special people in my (and Tom's) life.

me, tom and John (who has been such an amazing friend + hairstylist to me/us!)

I feel blessed to be a part of this family...mostly because I feel like it's a rarity to find a 'home' in your gym. I mean, not just in a sense that the gym was my 'home away from home' (but it really was)...but in the sense that it was truly a safe haven for me, a place where I have been able to build real relationships with my fellow fitness fanatics. When I go to the gym, I don't just go to the gym. I get a chance to do what I love, among people who love me and love working out.

dressing up and working out=two of my favorite things!
80s week at the firm!

There were countless times when I would be lying on my couch or in my bed, not wanting to do anything when I would get up and force myself to go to the gym. And, inevitably when I'd get there, I'd feel like a rock star. After a long day at work, the gym provided me with undying energy and a unique zest for life. And, I went through some really rough stuff in life, I spent a majority of my "free" time at the gym...I was not only in the best shape of my life, but I also had the chance to meet some of my (now) absolute best and loyal friends. I remember the first conversation I had with my friend, Brian Blake. I think we spent two hours at the top of the stairs just talking. These moments are moments I've cherished and will continue to cherish. Those two hours blossomed into a meaningful friendship...many, to be fair...as I gained a big gay (both literally and figuratively:)) family.

me and Brian - goofing off at one of Andrew's fabulous dinner parties!


My very gracious and loving fairy godmother, Andrew (at Ingrid!)
(he's coming to visit me next week!)


the boys + megs at dinner at Andrew's

My fab Tony...has a killer smile...and does killer color (I call him and John the "dynamic duo" - couldn't live without 'em. Seriously...not sure how I am doing it now in Prague!)

my bday celebration at the Loop - me and my boys!

I'd be on my way from work to the gym...late for class (duh...my instructors all know this wasn't rarity) with near-empty tank of gas, about to run out and end up stranded on the side of the road, but I'd keep on truckin' (actually, car-in') in order to make it to what was, without a doubt, my absolute favorite part of the day. I always figured it out post-gym. Because, of course I didn't care if I ran out of gas post-workout...for I knew I'd be flying on a euphoric endorphin-abundant cloud.
What I thought of a 'cult' at first, spin class turned out to be my addiction. There's nothing better than a kick-ass workout with Kelly on Sunday afternoons, Terry on Mondays (paired with Funk, of course), Laura on Thursdays, Kiki on Fridays, TJ and his ghetto rap on Saturday AM (after a long night out...detox it was...literally) and Sunday morning with LVB (Oh goodness, LVB...she killed me, even when she was 6 months pregnant...it was inevitable that I would feel nauseated at least once every class, as if post-class spewage was right of passage - although that could have been from the previous night's cosmos! Sorry...I had a thing for 'em!)! Sweat-spillin', energy-surgin' endorphin-swirlin' workouts. I loved it and lived for it.


Laura is totally wonderwoman. She rocks the spin bike!

Rebecca both amazed me and challenged me on Thursday when we'd move our hips to the sweet sounds of Olivia Newton-John and Prince. Brad conditioned my muscles on Friday. Jessica's lil' yogi body - and big personality - were perfect compliment to Saturday and Sunday AM spin. And, when on the verge of falling over with exhaustion, Jess would utter the craziest little antecdote (comparing the feeling that comes from a yoga pose to an orgasm, for instance) that would make us all giggle.
And then there's Doug...'Diva Doug' as we like to call him. There's no one else quite like Doug. He is the man whose legs and booty every woman and man wants...but for different reasons (it makes us women green-with-envy way...we'd die to have a booty like that. and, as for the guys...well you know...). He's crazy, cool and an inspiration to many. Best of all, he makes people laugh. Having fun while working out is so important. For me, they go hand-in-hand. I mean, there can't possibly be anyone else as shiny as Doug...check him out!

Doug as...a big sparkly, rainbow-colored superhero
(Rebecca in background on left as rainbow bright. I love her.)

And, as if it couldn't get any better, there's Kelly. She's the owner and she kicks ass (excuse my language - but amazing people deserve strong adjectives!). One of the best business women I've met, Kelly simultaneously dazzles us with her spin skills and smile. She is the very reason the Firm vision turned into a reality...the very reason I am able to call this place 'home'. I owe her lots and lots of 'thank you's'...and then lots more.

My gym friends always joke about the gym and refer to it as "church."As silly as this may sound, I realized the other day after not having gone to the gym in a while, that it is actually a place where I do a hefty amount of my thinking...reflecting...and praying. I love the feeling after a good, sweaty spin session when the cool down music comes on and I just give thanks to God for giving me the legs to spin and the fine people who surround me. I'm truly blessed.

With all of that said, you can imagine why I had a massively difficult time coming to Prague and leaving my gym behind. It's not just a gym. It's the people. I was asked not too long ago what I miss most. Without thinking too long, I uttered, "my gym!" My friend started giggling and said, "YOUR GYM?! WHAT ABOUT YOUR FIANCE?!" Ha ha ha..."Well," I said, "Tom would laugh if he heard me say that." And he did. Because he knows I love him and miss him greatly, obviously (more than the Firm, of course:)). I have been here nearly 6 months and haven't worked out consistently the entire time. My mind is groggy and I miss the over-stimulation the Firm added to my days.

Everyone asks me what gyms are like here, and well...let me paint a picture for you: about 1 month into my time here, I decided to check out a bikram yoga studio so cleverly named 'Bikram Yoga'. ha. I got into the class and was surprised to see the instructor not dim the lights at all - we were in a gigantic room with neon lights and I was seemingly surrounded by Eastern euro men in banana hammocks. Sweet. The class was heated to a balmy 43 degrees celsius, because (duh) it was bikram. But the difference was, I felt like we were going through the poses a mile a minute without any relief, and on top of that he sounded like an auctioneer (not-so-soothing) and was yelling "hey you - in the red shorts - don't give up...push through it!" Um...excuse me...last time I checked, this was bikram yoga, not the marines. Dang. Oh, and class cost me the equivalent of 20 dollars. I knew then that I was in for a ride.

So, what's this whole 'i just drank my spin class' blog title, you may ask? Well, the fact of the matter is that the night I started writing this post I had just had a cosmo...which costs about 100 Kc in the Czech Republic (equal to about 5 USD...which sounds cheap, but it is expensive here!) -and coincidentally, spin classes here cost around 100 Kc too. Moral of the story? Spend your Kc on spin class rather than cosmos.

I miss the Firm, but I am finally getting over it and readying myself for some good, consistent workouts and good (non-dumpling-filled) eating while here in Praha. The detox was an experiment...and I passed, so I know I can do it. I'll get there, slowly but surely! :)

Here's to workouts (or not so much) in the good ol' CZE!

Na Zdravi!

Love,


me

p.s. I was excited to see a majority of the pics above out on facebook - they come from the most recent Pride parade in Minneapolis, which happened the week after I left Minni for Prague. They all look like superheroes! That's becuase they are!

p.s.s. I can't possibly name every special Firm friend here, because if I did the list would be endless and this blog would turn into an even longer novel than it already is. But, you all know who you are. I love you.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

some more Godin wisdom...

Here's a lil' food for thought:)

There's always room for Jello

This is one of the great cultural touchstone slogans of our era. A culture where there's so much to eat we need to try to find a food that we can eat even if we're stuffed.

Often, we'll decide that something is full, stuffed, untouchable but then some Jello shows up, and suddenly there's room.

Think about your schedule... is there room for an emergency, an SEC investigation, a server crash? If you took a day off because of the flu, is your business going to go bankrupt? Probably not.

So, if there's time for an emergency (Jello), why isn't there time for brilliance, generosity or learning?

Think about it,

me

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