Zigs and Zags: The Best and Worst of November

When we lived in Las Vegas, every week was go go go. Dinners stacked on school commitments stacked on openings and other events. It was a truly a wonderful — and fun — lifestyle … and maybe a bit exhausting at times. But we always had something to look forward to, and that kept things interesting.

November was much the same way. As one thing came to an end, something else was just getting started. I packed in a bit of traveling, a handful of social events, a fair amount of work-related stuff, and, yes, even a moment or two to relax.

This is the time of year when time starts to speed up. When I start thinking about getting the tax documents together for the next year. When I start to panic about getting an updated business plan down on paper.

But then I remind myself to slow down, pace myself, and be fully present in the moment because life is great, right here and right now.

salt lake city mormon temple

axe throwing salt lake cityZigs

Amy! Axe throwing! Alcohol (not so much)!

Only a few days into November, I hopped a plane to the United States. This time I flew Ukraine International Airlines from Kyiv to New York City, then on to Salt Lake City, Utah. The trip is always a slog, but I’m just thankful the UIA flight didn’t fall out of the air mid-flight. You never can tell with those budget airlines …

In SLC, I met up with my friend, Amy, who I haven’t seen for a few years. She flew in specifically so we could spend time together catching up. It was so lovely to have the singular goal of just hanging out with a good friend. So much has changed since we last saw each other — we moved overseas, she’s now a mom — yet we basically picked up right where we left off. Aren’t friendships like that grand?

I’ve passed through SLC before, but this was the first time I spent any sort of real time there. We made an obligatory stop to see the Salt Lake Temple, spent an impressive amount of time at the Tracy Aviary, geeked out over fountain pens and books at locally owned businesses, and went specifically looking for a wine bar (something that is not simple in SLC).

The only thing on our to-do list (besides catching up on everything) was axe throwing. Rumor has it axe throwing is all the rage everywhere these days, and I can confirm that it is 100% awesome. Challenging, but So Much Fun. Amy definitely picked up the technique faster and more efficiently than I did — and she won every game we played — but we both loved it and can’t wait to do it again. (I, unfortunately, can’t find anywhere to go axe throwing in Kyiv, so it might be awhile before I get to perfect those skills.)

sundance utahSolutions Journalism Summit

The whole reason I made the trip overseas was to attend the Solutions Journalism Summit, a three-day unconference hosted by the Solutions Journalism Network. Generally speaking, I am not very good at investing in my professional development in a meaningful, strategic way. I registered for this one the day early-bird tickets went on sale way back in the spring knowing a might not attend. Admittedly, it took a lot of coaxing to convince myself to make the trip. But I am so glad I decided to go.

This was my first unconference, which meant the participants made the agenda as the event unfolded. It sounds chaotic, but it works really well because content and conversation is based upon and builds on participants’ interests and needs. This is the first event I’ve attended where I walked away with actual ideas and, because less than 100 people attend, I actually feel like the people I met and connections I made can legitimately last post-event.

A bonus note about the Summit: It was held at Sundance Mountain Resort, which is stunning. And I got to tell my Rooted story about the makeshift road made out of banana leaves from the Sundance film screening stage. How awesome is that?

dinnerTime with the fam

Post-unconference, I hopped a flight to the Midwest. Since I was in the U.S. anyway, I figured I might as well make the trip.

Even though I’d just seen my parents in Liechtenstein, it was nice to spend a few relaxing days catching up over coffee and helping them with chores around their home. Then I headed over to my sister and brother-in-law’s home for quality sibling time. I missed a Midwest fall, but it was perfect for cozy dinners, long walks outside, a visit to the (indoor) farmer’s market, and having breakfast in the most adorable cafe in the Warehouse District. And, the three of us attended a fundraising event, so we dolled up in our Friday night finest.

Time spent with family is always time well spent.

fun socksCelebrating my Name Day — with fun socks!

Our very first foreign exchange student, who is Slovakian, introduced us to the idea of Name Days many years ago. It’s a tradition we continue in our family. I celebrate mine on November 24 for Emilia, a close approximation to my middle name.

Cory almost always gifts me a pair of fun socks for my Name Day. At this point, however, our sock drawer is practically overflowing. I definitely don’t need anymore socks — fun or not! This year, we went out to brunch instead, but we both wore fun socks for the occasion.

A funny side note to this story: We love brunch, and we’ve been frequenting the same cafe the last few weeks. At this point, I think it’s safe to say we’re regulars. The waitress officially knows who we are!

Thanksgiving … Canadian-American style

No, Ukraine doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. But the Americans and Canadians in our community do thanks to a Thanksgiving dinner potluck / games gathering that Cory’s school hosts. Anyone is allowed to come, so it’s actually a multi-cultural affair.

My biggest gripe is that potlucks in general are not friendly for a vegetarian-vegan couple. Bringing a few dishes we can eat is still our best solution right now. Interestingly, people are increasingly curious in what we eat.

(Related: I’m not sure if it’s circulating in your social groups right now, but The Game Changers is on heavy rotation among people we know.)

pink bowling ball

We have a bowling club!

Last spring, a whole herd of us went bowling and hatched the crazy idea that we should actually start a bowling club. So we did!

Winter in Kyiv is gray, cold, oppressive, and very long. Getting together every other week to go bowling is the perfect excuse to get out of the house … even when it would be so easy to stay inside!

I am not a good bowler. In fact, among our group I’m one of the worst. But I don’t just drop gutter balls, and my goal is to break 100 on a single game before our season ends in the spring.


The mid-year yoga struggle

Friends, my yoga classes are not going well this school year.

At the end of last year, people showed interest in having me teach two yoga classes a week. Unfortunately, that had lackluster results. When people could easily skip a day and pick back up a few days later, it actually decreased overall attendance. After all, the next opportunity to go to class was right around the corner.

So, starting in November, I went back to offering one class a week. But, it turns out that it doesn’t matter if I offer one or two classes a week. For several weeks now, I’ve either had no people show up or only one student.

I don’t lay blame anywhere. People are busy. I get that. And it’s particularly hard to balance everything this time of year. I accept that it is what it is, but I do miss the days when four or six people used to come to class.

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

  1. Jill

    I can relate to the bowling struggle. Despite taking it as a “Phys Ed” sport in college…where the instructor actually showed me “technique” etc., I was a disaster. My highest score ever was 60. Fortunately, being PE, it WASN’T graded!

    • JoAnna

      I’m working on it! I think consistently bowling might help!


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