Hello there…

I am an adventurous person who enjoys seeing as much of this big, beautiful world as I can.

I keep thinking about my upcoming travel plans. I vacillate between wanting to speed up time so I can be there already and savoring the build up that makes traveling so much more enjoyable when you actually get to go.

I wish I could be more motivated. Lately I’ve been slacking on things that I know I should do and those I want to do.

I love spending time alone and with others, listening to music that stirs my soul, eating delicious food, making plans and being spontaneous, traveling to new locations and revisiting places I’ve been before.

I dance when there’s a beat I can’t resist. I might not have much rhythm, but I bop along anyway.

I sing often when listening to my favorite playlists, but most of the time I lip sync, since I’m usually listening at the gym, while walking, or when riding on the back of a Go-Jek.

I think often about where I see myself in the next few years. I have some ideas, but I’m not really sure. Part of that scares me and part of it excites me.

I really wish I had one more day this weekend. Finding the balance of relaxing and catching up on work/getting ahead is something I struggle with often.

I need to clean out my inbox. If I don’t stay on top of it, it becomes so unruly that I don’t know where to start (like now!).

I should get to the gym more often. My goal is four times per week, but lately I’ve only made it three times a week. I’m going to go today!

I can be silly or serious, sarcastic or straightforward. It all depends on my mood, the situation, and my relationship with the person to whom I’m talking.

I make playlists to match my moods, pancakes on the weekend, plans and lists.

I always request the window seat, pack too much, have lots of snacks, and bring my iPad filled with music, movies and books when I go on a flight.

I really like this format for a slice, especially when I’m not really sure what to write about (like today). This is my fourth attempt at Hello There (see versions one, two, and three), and I like how they are all different, yet contain some of the same themes.

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Around the World in a Summer

Scribbling, researching, erasing, scribbling, researching some more, narrowing down the choices, matching up the dates, looking for the best deals, working into the night, a weight lifted as I finalized my summer plans.

My adventures will take me on a trip around the world this summer. Like, literally around the world. I’ll visit 6 countries, take 10 flights, traverse 29,803 miles, and spend 73 hours traveling on planes and in airports plus many more to and from said airports, all in just under 6 weeks. It’s insane when I think about it, but it’s also going to be a lot of fun!

My Summer 2019 Plans:

2 June- Jakarta to Hong Kong

I’ll spend two nights in Hong Kong visiting friends and eating at my favorite restaurants.

4 June- Hong Kong to London (arrive 5 June)

London stopover for 36 hours, during which I’ll stay in Piccadilly Circus and watch ‘The Book of Mormon’ at the Prince of Wales Theatre, a show I’ve been dying to see.

6 June- London to Tirana, Albania

I’ll spend 5 nights/4 days in Tirana with a friend, where I’ll visit old friends and wander around the city I called home back in 2015-2016, visiting old haunts and taking note of all the changes. I’m really looking forward to going back to a place that I left on such a sour note, now that I’ve moved on and can look back on the fond memories I had there.

11 June- Tirana to Paris

Ahhhh, Paris! I’m so excited to go back to this city that I love, only this time with my cousin Katy. She flies in the day after me, and we will spend a week sightseeing, walking, and eating our way through Paris. We’ll take in my favorite sights, such as the Lourve, D’Orsay, Montemarte, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower, plus a day trip to Versailles. I can’t wait!

19 June- Paris to Calgary, Canada

Katy and I head out together from Paris, but part ways at JFK, when I head to Calgary as she goes back to Texas. I’m so looking forward to spending time with Shaggers, Jeezy, and Marlowe in their new-ish home in Okotoks, near Calgary. I haven’t seen them since 2016, unless you count the many FaceTime calls, so this is going to be a special trip!

24 June- Calgary to Texas

My trip wouldn’t be complete without some quality time with my family in Texas. In addition to my dates with Randi and Logan (a tradition started years ago), movies with my dad, mani/pedis with my mom, dinners with old friends, and the Kesler Family Reunion on the 4th of July, I’m ready for some of my favorite foods that I can only get in Texas- chips and queso, Shipley’s donuts, and Tex Mex food.

11 July- Dallas to Hong Kong

Fifteen hours being trapped in a metal tin can. Oh joy! 😉

12 July- Hong Kong to Jakarta

What I’ll look forward to most when I come back home after nearly six weeks away is my own bed and a bit of routine after a wild, crazy summer!

With my summer plans completed, I’m now looking forward to planning the smaller details, such as where we will stay in Paris, who I’ll see in Tirana, and where I’ll eat in all of my destinations! More to come, I’m sure.

I Love Surprises!

Those of you who know me or who have read my slices in the past know I love surprises. When someone goes out of their way to surprise me, it lights up my day. But you know what I love even more than getting surprises? Being the one to surprise someone else!

I’ve been planning a surprise for my cousin Katy for about a year now. The surprise was going to be for our fortieth birthdays (we are three days apart, y’all!), but since I’m not sure what will be going on in my life 2+ years from now and because I’m impatient, I figured why not, let’s make it a 38th birthday surprise. Not exactly the same ring to it, but what the heck, a surprise is a surprise, right?

Last summer, Katy and I were texting as I wandered the streets of Mandalay on my solo trip to Myanmar. I snuck in an question that would have normally raised suspicion, but since I was traveling and we were talking about “travely” stuff, it seemed innocent enough. I asked her where she would go if she could go anywhere in the world. Her top five places were Italy, New Zealand, France, Brazil, and the Maldives. This information stayed tucked away in my mind.

Seeing as I went to both New Zealand and Italy last year, the Maldives are more of a romantic getaway, and Brazil is just too far away (for now), that left France. Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world, and as they say, Paris is always a good idea. So, after talking to my aunt (Katy’s mom) about whether she could help watch Katy’s kids this summer (she will!), I called Katy up this morning.

After catching up for a bit since we hadn’t talked in a while, I hit her with the surprise.

“Remember when I asked you last summer about where you’d like to go if you could go anywhere?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, I was gonna wait to do this for our fortieth, but I figured it’s a good idea to do it now. How would you like to go to Paris with me?”

“What?!?”

“I’d like to take you on a trip to Paris this summer. Would you like to go?”

With tears in her eyes, she excitedly said, “Yes! I’d have to be crazy to say no to that! Are you sure?”

Laughing, “Yes, I’m sure.”

Since she was so shocked, it took a little more convincing to make her understand I was actually serious.

At the end of the conversation, she said, “You’re the coolest cousin ever!”

Right back atcha Katy! Love you so much and can’t wait to explore one of the most dynamic and beautiful cities in the world with you. Paris, we’re coming for ya! 🙂

Photo credit: travelandleisure Instagram post

What’s My Thing?

This morning I was catching up on a podcast I enjoy called ‘Out of the Ordinary.’ At the end of Episode 19, “You Called Me WHAT Now?”, Christie and Lisa Jo have a conversation about what their thing is, and it got me thinking, What’s my thing?

For as long as I can recall, talking’s been my thing. I talk fast and often and my stories go on forever. I’m getting much better at being more of a concise writer, however my oral storytelling is anything but. I’m the kind of person who could talk the ear off a mannequin. Put me in a long line, such as waiting for a ride at Disneyland, a grocery store check-out line on a busy day, or waiting in the line at immigration, and I’m bound to make at least one friend. I just can’t help it. I love to talk.

Back in elementary school, I got straight A’s, but the thorn in my parents’ side was the dreaded U I got in “Controls talking” on my report cards. I tried so hard to improve. I sometimes got an N, but never an S or an E. Finally giving up on the idea that I would earn good marks in this category, they were content with anything above a U. By the way, can you imagine if our report cards now had “Controls talking”? Ridiculous!

Most people nowadays prefer a text over a phone call, but I much prefer chatting over the phone rather than typing it all out. I like to hear the infection in the other person’s voice; it tells you so much about how they’re feeling. When I tell my stories, I want them to hear the different voices I use and understand the subtle nuances you can only get when listening. Plus, I want to know if they’re really laughing or just using the obligatory lol. I tend to annoy people when I call out of the blue, without the warning text first, but my friends that really know me get that that’s just me, and they answer most of the time. 😉

When I think about why I have the gift of the gab, I guess it’s because I enjoy making personal connections with other people. Having a conversation with someone helps you get to know them on a different level and develop a stronger bond. Texting is okay, but after a while, the connection between you and the other person wanes, unless you regularly talk to or see them.

Sarcastic banter also fuels me. Paying someone out in a playful way is so much fun, but way easier to do in person. So often written text can be misinterpreted. The reader reads into it, putting their own attitude and spin on it. The subtlety is lost, and unless you really know someone, most sarcastic comments and jokes can come across as mean when sent as written communication.

So, despite the changes in how people communicate lately, where much of it is now virtual and that human connection is lost, I still choose to talk because talking’s my thing.

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You Never Know What You’re Gonna Find

I love grocery shopping in other countries. You never know what you’re going to find when you look around. Some things are familiar, others are odd, quirky, or unusual.

After the gym tonight, I popped into Hypermart, a local Indonesian grocery store, to pick up a few things. As I wandered the aisles, I started to notice the differences in stores here and back home, so I snapped a few pictures.

You can buy a bunch of random frozen food in bulk, such as hot dogs, french fries, fish fingers, chicken tenders, and strange colored meats. This idea really grosses me out…all the germs (plus the weird mystery meats)!

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Looking for some fruit covered in styrofoam and plastic wrap? Check! If only nature had a way to protect the inside of the fruit…;)

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How about some oil in a large bag? You’ve got many, many choices of brands!

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If you’re craving a Jell-O like snack in a small plastic container, look at all of the colorful choices you have to choose from!

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Buying small quantities of rice in Asia is hard to do. Hope you like a lot of rice!

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To ward off the would-be thieves, all the jars of Nutella have anti-theft sensors on them. Who would have thought Nutella was such a hot commodity?

If you’re in the mood to try some different kinds of meat, you can grab some chicken heads or feet. Ewwwwww!

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Think all cheese needs to be refrigerated? Think again! You can buy some disgusting processed cheese right from the aisle.

What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen in the grocery store?

A Sweet Surprise

“Good morning, Ms Kesler,” Marson said when he came into my office this morning carrying a bag.

“Good morning, Marson. How are you? What do you have there?” I replied.

Smiling, he handed me the bag. “This is from my mom.”

“Thank you. What’s it for?” I asked, wondering why I would possibly be given a gift when my birthday isn’t for another two months.

Marson shrugged his shoulders, then turned around, smiled and left my office.

Opening up the bag, I was greeted with a bunch of goodies! Along with a fashion magazine, I was given some fancy crackers, a bottle of wine, chocolates, and some delicious cookies from a fancy bakery in town. In addition to the goodies, there was a handwritten note thanking me for my help on the Primary Production last week.

Nothing brings a smile to my face more than a surprise. What a great start to the week!

Story

“I want people to know your story.”

This quote, among others, resonated with me last night when I watched A Private War, a movie based on the true story of Marie Colvin, a war correspondent who courageously went to the frontlines of war-torn countries to write the stories behind the wars, to know and tell people’s stories in a way that would make others care to listen and take action.

To me, this is the essence of the Slice of Life Challenge. Through our stories, people get to know and care about one another. People want to know your story, and by telling it in an authentic and honest way, they become connected to you and invested in your story.

Through speaking our truth, we reveal ourselves and make genuine connections. Putting the words on the page takes courage, as we might not get it right all the time. Writing our stories is essentially putting ourselves out there for the world to see. Some parts may be pretty, others may not, but that’s real life.

This year I haven’t put myself out there as much as I have in the past. My stories have been more on the superficial, easygoing side. As we glide into the second half of this challenge, I’m going to strive to speak my truth and tell my story in an authentic way, because I want people to know my story.

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