Zigs and Zags: The Best and Worst of January

Over the years, I’ve waffled over how I feel about New Year’s resolutions.

Early in my adult life, I set concrete resolutions, which, as a lot of studies have shown, do not tend to have sticky power. I have come up with general goals and action items for achieving said goals. I have even hopped on the bandwagon of setting an intention or word by which to guide the new year.

At this point, I’ve thrown up my hands. I don’t know what works and what doesn’t. All I know is what I’d like to do, what I’d like to achieve in any given moment, and what makes me feel good.

One of the things I routinely think about is how I want to use this good ol’ blog to continue to share my story. For the last ten years, it’s stood by my side through career changes and international moves, time as a kitten foster parent and exchange mom, the adoptions and deaths of our own adopted critters.

Ten years. 

That’s a long time for a blog. And though we’re not there quite yet — Kaleidoscopic Wandering’s birthday is in the summer — one thing I’ve been considering is that I’m still not completely fulfilling my desire of sharing my story.

In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, every year I decide I’m going to “blog more.” Though I always want to publish more frequently, what I also want to do is share more of the day-to-day.

I want to share what I’m working on, what I do behind the scenes. What happens between those blog posts that celebrate the big travels and monumental moments.

Inspired by my friend and colleague Kristin at Camels & Chocolate, I’m making a new commitment to call out the highlights, lowlights, and a few in-betweens each month.

Call it a New Year’s resolution, if you will. A goal. A pivot. Or simply something fresh and new for my trusty blog.

eiffel tower paris fog


Visiting Paris for the very first time.

Technically, I’ve been to France before. I took the train from England to Belgium a few years ago, so I caught a glimpse of France passing by. But this is the first time Cory and I have actually set foot in the country, so it’s only fitting we touched down in Paris.

After spending two weeks in Morocco, we decided to ring in 2019 with a few days in Paris. The city did not disappoint. At all.

There’s so much I want to write about Paris from just the few days we were there. We wandered the wonderful tangle of streets all over the city, stopping for an espresso or glass of wine just to watch the world go by. We bypassed the busy museums for Musée de l’Orangerie, where I’m pretty sure my heart stopped briefly while standing in front of Monet’s Water Lillies paintings.

Paris is home to Invader, my favorite street artist, and I found more than 50 of his works in just three days. We visited Père Lachaise Cemetery, the Moulin Rouge, and Notre Dame and loved every minute. This short visit offered just a taste of this spectacular city. We’ve been bitten by the Paris bug and can’t wait to return!

New and exciting job duties.

For the last couple years, I’ve been the managing editor for AdventureTravelNews, the B2B publication for the Adventure Travel Trade Association. Like any job, it’s had its ups and downs, but I am immensely proud of what we publish every week and the core values of the organization.

So I’m incredibly excited that my role with the ATTA expanded in January. In addition to managing ATN, I’m also working on developing and curating thought leadership opportunities and content. I have a lot of ideas and organizing to do to elevate this position to its full potential, but I’m thrilled by what the future holds.

I’m meditating again!

When C and S lived with us, I took up meditation. I had to. I was overwhelmed with disappointment from a failed student exchange, and overnight we literally went from no teenagers in our lives to four (C and S with us; N and L with our neighbors).

Meditation was good for me, but I also found that I didn’t always “have time” for it. Wrong. I didn’t make it the priority it should have been, even though it was incredibly important for my well-being.

Recognizing this, I bought back into my annual membership for Headspace and have been meditating for 24 days straight as of this morning. I get up, start the coffee, and meditate — the perfect start to my day.

feet snow


This winter weather.

In theory, I don’t mind winter. I grew up in the Midwest and am intimately familiar with all that winter entails. In fact, I like it when temperatures hover just below freezing and it snows.

But winter in Ukraine has been particularly miserable this year. We went through a cold streak, exacerbated with wind. Then it warmed up and everything melted, followed by more cold that froze everything again. Folks in Kyiv are terrible about clearing its sidewalks. Everything is so damn slick, and people fall all the time. It’s maddening.

The worst part, though, is the lack of sun. Kyiv’s winters are routinely gray and overcast and dark. This year, however, we’ve been shrouded in fog. Fog blankets the city for days at a time, and it’s downright oppressive.

I’m ready to escape the bleakness and find some sun. Spring can come any day now.

pen and journal

Everything In Between

I celebrated another trip around the sun!

thought I wanted a big birthday celebration, but at the last minute decided against it. Maybe next year I’ll work up to having a birthday party. In theory, that’s what I want. In actuality, my introverted self cringes at the thought.

So, my birthday went by relatively unnoticed. Cory and I had a lovely, relaxing day playing board games, and that was fine with me.

I’m back to the hustle.

Yes, I’m thrilled to have more ATTA work. But I get nervous about putting all my professional eggs in one basket.

One of my contracts with an amazing USAID-affiliated project ended last September. Another agency I work with has significantly pulled back contracted work as well. This leaves me with just a few consistent gigs, and I’d like to secure a few more projects, especially with retainer clients.

It’s been awhile since I’ve put significant effort into marketing my professional services, but I spent January working on marketing tasks. I’m currently cleaning up and updating my website, dipping my toes back into LinkedIn, taking a few professional development courses, and making an effort to get some additional clients. It’s equal parts terrifying and exciting.

Riding the waves with friends.

Back in September, I started organizing weekly coffee dates for all the trailing partners at Cory’s school. These weekly get-togethers are absolutely one of the highlights of my week. They’re also a great excuse to get my introverted self out of the apartment. We also went bowling and made pretzels with friends. Both were great fun and a reminder that the effort of organizing these activities is worthwhile.

Living the expat life is tough, though. I’ve witnessed a couple of my friends grapple with their own expat struggles — to stay or go? how to leave a legacy? what is a community? how to keep a foot abroad and one at “home?”

I don’t have the answers — I, too, have these questions. But I appreciate and value those people who trust me enough to share their struggles so we can work through these things together.

I’ve been busy writing.

Surprise! I still journal nearly every morning while sipping my morning coffee. And I managed to get a few blog posts up (about visiting a cemetery in Tuscany, visiting Morocco’s markets, and what I read in January).

However, I also wrote far more articles for ATN this month than I normally do — and a couple of them took on fairly heavy subjects. On the light side, I wrote primers on Pinterest’s travel personas and fighting food waste in the adventure travel industry. In the spirit of thought leadership, however, I ventured beyond strict reporting with nuanced perspectives on adventure travel trends in 2019 and generic geotagging in the age of Instagram.

I really do love writing. I hope I’m able to spread my editorial wings again a bit more broadly throughout 2019.

2 Responses to “Zigs and Zags: The Best and Worst of January”

  1. Jill

    I simply cannot imagine that you will ever stop “journaling”! Didn’t you start in the 2nd or 3rd grade? Once a writer, always a writer! So glad to hear about the exciting new challenges at ATTA!

    • JoAnna

      I started keeping a journal in the 3rd grade – one day, one page. I remember some days I wrote big because I couldn’t figure out how else to fill a page. The journal had a squishy blue cover with teddy bears on it. It’s buried in my journal trunk.


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