Zigs and Zags: The Best and Worst of the Summer

hiking bukovel

What a very strange year this has been.

Every day feels like a new and promising day in some weird, strange way. And every day feels weirdly like the one before it.

I am both repulsed and drawn to the news. I feel like time is speeding up and like I have all the time in the world. There is so much messaging out in the world right now — in this highly unusual world of uncertainty — that whatever you feel and whatever you think right now is okay. I try to lean into that idea, letting each day dictate how it needs to unfold.

One of the strange juxtapositions about this age of uncertainty is how routine my day-to-day is. It is more predictable now that it’s possibly ever been. Cory has been home since March, and we’ve developed a daily routine that I’m going to miss when he goes back to work. It’s not exciting, but it’s consistent and appreciated in a time when so much else is wildly inconsistent.

I haven’t written a Zig/Zag post every month this year just because this year is … well … odd. But as we count down days until Cory reports back to school, here’s a sneak peek at what our summer has looked like this year.

odessa ukraine



Exploring a New Side of Ukraine

Like a lot of people, we cancelled our big summer plans months ago. (Or, more accurately, all the parts that had been booked were cancelled for us.) Our summer plans originally included a road trip through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, an eight-day tour in Russia, and a few days in Poland.

The most exciting part is that my dad was joining us on our summer excursion, and then he was planning on coming to Kyiv afterward. He would have been the first family member to come visit us, and I’m bummed we had to cancel all of this.

On the bright side, this gave us a good reason (excuse?) to actually explore parts of Ukraine we’ve never visited before.

It’s so easy not to explore your own backyard. We often think about travel as something that requires going far away from home. And, we think that it’s so easy to visit those places just around the corner from where we live, that we can easily do that another day. Yet, for many people, that means they never really appreciate all that’s within just a short distance of where they live.

I have mixed feelings about putting a silver lining on a global pandemic. But one thing that cancelling our summer holiday did was encourage us to take road trips in Ukraine.

After a few weeks here in Kyiv, we rented an apartment for a week near the Black Sea in Odessa. Our accommodation severely disappointed us, and no one in Odessa acted like there was a global pandemic. Luckily, we found a lovely running trail near our apartment, so we started every day with a jog. Our balcony had sun and shade at the perfect times of day, and we had a spectacular view of the water.

And, best of all, Rudy traveled with us! It turns out he’s a wonderful traveler, which made our summer travels even better.

He loved being on the balcony in Odessa. And, during our second week-long trip, where we stayed in a cabin outside of Bukovel in the Carpathian Mountains, he fell in love with stairs and claimed a bedroom for himself. It’s so nice to get Rudy snuggles and hugs even when we’re not all at home together.

pysanky museum ukraineSo, this second getaway to the mountains was more my style. We had space, and it was so needed.

On two separate days, we went on long, strenuous hikes in the mountains. I loved everything about it: Fresh air. Muddy trails. Sore muscles. Sweat. Traipsing across farmland. Wandering through the woods. Clambering over boulders and scraping up my shins. (It also reminded me of why I love our long-distance hikes. I can’t wait until we have another one on the books!)

Western Ukraine had a lot of different features than we’re used to in our part of the country: Far more Soviet tile mosaics. Different-colored Orthodox cathedrals. Lots of stray dogs and wandering chickens. Tons of sunflowers We loved driving through the countryside.

Oh! And during our week in Bukovel, we also went to the pysanka museum, which is shaped like a decorated egg! See? These are the kinds of things we never would have done if we hadn’t be “forced” to travel locally this summer.

And for that I am thankful.

Slowing Down

Summer can be a tough time for me, trying to juggle my work with all the plans we make. But when Mother Nature (or COVID-19) stops you in your tracks, it can be a great reminder to slow down.

My routine can fall into disarray during the summer months, but I’ve been able to stay fairly grounded simply by slowing down. I start every morning with meditation and journal writing. Cory and I enjoy a slow, leisurely cup of coffee together. We often take a wander through the woods in the evening.

Last night we admired the sunset.

I can choose to be anxious, and sometimes I begin to feel that creeping into my life. But more often than not, I can take a deep breath and step back, slow down, and let it go. I appreciate that space.
hiking bukovel

A New Workout Routine

I stopped teaching yoga at the school in March, and shortly thereafter my own interest in my yoga practice started to wane. I toyed around with several different online workouts for a while early during the lockdown, but nothing stuck.

Fast forward several months: I’m weight lifting with Cory. A few months ago he bought weight equipment since he didn’t want to go back to the gym when it reopened. So, now I’m weight lifting along with running several days a week. It’s new and invigorating.

Some day I’ll pick yoga up again when I’m ready. But right now, I’m all in with my new workout routine.

I’m in Love … with Rooted

You likely know I launched Rooted in the form of a newsletter last fall. So much has changed since then!

The most exciting piece of news from the past month is that I launched a dedicated website for Rooted. I’ve created a handful of free resources and am going to be launching my first set of courses in a couple months. I’m starting to speak on podcasts, and I’m going to be speaking at my first conference post-Rooted launch next weekend. (And, shameless pitch: If you haven’t signed up for the newsletter yet, do it now!)

Before moving to Ukraine, I used to speak at conferences in Las Vegas on a fairly regular basis, and I’ve been wanting to get back into the speaking circuit. So, I am thrilled to finally be making inroads again on issues I am incredibly passionate about.

Quite frankly, I’m head over heels in love with the work I’m doing through Rooted. I’m proud of what I’m creating, and I’m excited that I’m finally answering to myself in this space. I’m no longer giving away skills and knowledge under the guise of developing someone else’s thought leadership.

It was the perfect storm, really: The pandemic and Black Lives Matter resurgence dried up nearly all of my freelance work at the same time I was really starting to birth Rooted for what it truly can be. Once again, I threw caution out into the world and the world responded. Thank you, world.



Wear. Your. Damn. Mask.

Why? Why, why, why?

Why in the world are people acting like there isn’t a global pandemic?

I look out our apartment window and am baffled by how many people are crowded into groups, none of them in masks. And, obviously this phenomena isn’t unique to Ukraine. I read the news out of the United States and it makes my skin crawl.

I know the economy is hurting. I understand why we need to infuse economic resources into the world again. I’m not ignorant. However, I also want to live.

If we would all just stay inside, socially distance, and wear our damn masks for three weeks, we would be so much closer to getting this pandemic under control. It really isn’t brain science, and I’m baffled every day that people still don’t seem to understand this.

A Sense of Uncertainty

Does anyone else have the problem where they play the “what if?” game?
ukraine art

What happens if Trump wins again? What happens if he loses and won’t leave the White House? What will Cory’s school situation look like this fall? What happens if he gets COVID-19? Will he still be required to teach from home? Will we have an October break this year? Will there be a cross-country team? Should we still plan on leaving Ukraine after this school year?

The thoughts and questions go on and on and on.

It’s not intentional. It just happens. But it can lay a whole unwanted layer of uncertainty over everything since everything is still up in the air right now.

I try to catch when I start circling down this train of thought, but it can be hard to reel it back in.

Dear Blog: I’m Sorry

I’ve been terrible about updating Kaleidoscopic Wandering over the last few months. I’ve not been good about sharing daily musings from Kyiv or even sharing highlights from our most recent trips. I have a long list of things I think I want to write, but I’m honestly not very motivated to put the time and effort into writing these pieces right now. I really am all in with my work right now, and I love that I’m so inspired to put my energy toward Rooted. I don’t regret it for a moment.

But Kaleidoscopic Wandering has been a cornerstone for many years, strong and steady for well over a decade now. Some day I’m sure I’ll return to this blog with a greater sense of passion and interest. And it will be here, just as it’s always been.

One Response to “Zigs and Zags: The Best and Worst of the Summer”

  1. Jill

    Love your update! You live in such a “decorative” country….it seems there is an “arty something” everywhere you look!
    And how great that Rudy is such a wonderful traveler…new places for him to explore, too.


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