Raw Honesty

I love honesty.  Like raw…from the heart…true to yourself and others…honesty.  I love it because it forces you to be honest with yourself about your intentions.  And it forces you to be true to others about your intentions.  And most importantly, it’s easy to remember.  I’ve tried to tell white lies many years ago.  I suck. I can’t remember what I did an hour ago on most days, so remembering lies is inefficient, a waste of my life and a waste of my energy.  It’s also a waste of other peoples time to try and decipher lies.

Why do people lie?  My opinion is that it is out of insecurity, fear and the need to be accepted.  Not just accepted by others, but accepted by themselves.  People lie so as not to hurt peoples feelings (supposedly), yet in the long run, their feelings end up being hurt far more by the lie than the truth would have hurt in the first place.

My assessment is that lies are a complete waste of time and life.  How invigorating is it to actually accomplish your goals with TRUTH?  It’s truly incredible!!  Even if it was difficult to tell the truth and express your true heart felt intentions.  The accomplishment of getting the truth across, getting it accepted (or at least understood) and reaching your goal…just wow.  Nothing beats that.  Nothing.  Those ‘athletes’ that use drugs to get further ahead….I bet deep inside, they are not satisfied with themselves because they know it was not the real them that met those goals.  That must feel like crap.  Regardless of the recognition or materialistic outcome of it all.  *They* are not the ones who accomplished that goal.  And that must hurt.

So, in all the years I’ve spent realizing that, even though I don’t (and can’t) lie to others, I still tended to lie to myself.  We’ve worked very hard on ourselves over the last 3 years and I can hear that voice in my head bullshitting me quite blatantly on a daily basis. “Come on!!! Three more scoops of ice cream won’t kill you!”.  It also tries to tell me that people have cruel intentions and wants me to react with anger, etc.  I spend a lot of time telling that voice to shut up.  I’m at the point where I can laugh at it and recognize it almost instantly.

Today, for a split second, the voice came up again.  I recognized it very quickly, calmed myself down and told it to shut up.  In fact, what the voice suggested to me was so rediculous that I almost laughed out loud.

So, trying to figure out the rules around here has been rather interesting.  It’s a whole different set of rules than in North America, yet somehow very similar.  I have sent in papers for my citizenship.  They have not arrived yet.  We were told at the police station, earlier this year, that we have to cross the border and then come back again in order to get a stamp on entry back to Serbia.  This will grant us another 90 days (since there is no visa requirement for here). We have done this once and it went well.  I was hoping the citizenship thing would be completed by this point and we would not have to do it a second time.  Our second 90 period is expiring on December 20.  Even with an extra letter sent to Beograd, and asking them to speed up the process, the citizenship has not arrived (and frankly, I would have been surprised if it had shown up).

So, today, we have rented a car.  We were going to drive down to visit Skopje (350 km away), and toggled back and forth between visiting there or going to the nearest sleepy border crossing to Romania and jump over and back again.  We were slightly nervous that we might not be let back in again.  After jumping back and forth on where we were going to cross, the car rental place made it an easy decision.

They charged us 10 euros more than the last time we rented.  Raising the price during the off season?? REALLY?  And lowered the alloted daily kilometres from 300 to 250.  Um….what?  So when Mike brought the car back home, I called them up with both receipts in my hands.  He explained that they had raised the prices and lowered the kilometres of all the cars.  1.  thanks for telling us and 2. wtf??  We’ve rented from them all summer and had a pretty decent business relationship built up.  So I thought.

So, I hung up and decided we would only go to Romania and not give him an extra 70 euros on kilometres.  He called back and told us he was going to dump the price by 10 euros.  I said ok because at the first price, we can’t go to Skopje.  Then he dumped it another 5 euros.

Interesting.  We decided to just head to the Romanian border.  When we got to the Serbian exit stop, they asked for the ownership, passports, etc.  Check, check, check.  Then they asked for the receipt from the rental.  Gulp!  I’d left it on the table at home beside the phone when I called about the price change.

After a bit of a wait, he looked at me and said “you only came here for the passport stamp?”.  That little voice jumped up in my head yelling NO NO!!!  It told me to say we’re going to visit some town (there’s nothing but farm field for 10’s of kilometres across the border).  Really?  Really voice?  THIS is your advice?  Shut up!!!  You are not only annoying, but also a complete idiot!  And who invited you to this party anyway?  I’ve told you before that I have no use for you, so piss off!  You are not truth and you are not love, so get out of my head!

So, I nearly laughed out loud, but instead I smiled 🙂  I told him that yes, we need the stamp.  I explained my citizenship status and our plans for staying for the holidays and going to Greece after the new year.  I told him that everything should arrive by the time we get back in the spring.  I laid out all the cards in my Tarzan-like Serbian…..pausing for help with proper words.  I also told him we are in the process of shipping our car over so we don’t have to worry about this rental thing any more.

He spoke to a few of his buddies higher up.  There were some loud words exchanged in the office.  They came back and told us the car could be stolen and they don’t know that it’s not because we don’t have the receipt.  So, they cannot let us out of the country.  I told him where the receipt is and if he can call the owner.  They said they can’t.  They asked what we were going to do in Romania.  I told them we were going to have lunch or something and then come back.  He told us to have lunch in their town.  I said yes, but we still need the stamp.  He said….no problem about the stamp, but we have better food here 🙂  Everyone was smiling and friendly and wonderful!  They stamped us all and sent us on our way via U-turn.

Thank you kind border police! 🙂  Now we just need to stop by the police station in town again and we should be good until we head to Greece.  This will be the last time we have to do this, and I’ll be happy once the citizenship papers show up 🙂  I do appreciate how awesome everyone was! Thank you thank you!

Ves

Posted in Serbia | 2 Comments

Why are we doing this?

Hi all!  I haven’t written in a while.  We have been stationary in Serbia getting a lot of things in order, and it has been most fabulous!  I will summarize it at some point and throw out some detail for everyone.

For now, I’d like to share a post I came across today.  There are many reasons why we are doing what we are doing.  The reasons in this blog post are the main core reasons why we are doing this.  We have been riding along unconsciously far too long.

We did not start this life style living fully conscious of what we were doing and why.  We were pretty conscious, but it didn’t really hit home until we started traveling.  I have already written a blog about all the retired people we had met in the trailer parks through the States.  Most of them had started their trip and life change because one of them had become very ill – heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.  This illness caused them and their spouses to wake up.  It caused them to face reality and re-consider what is truly important in their lives.  Even in their final years/months, they decided – finally! – to live their lives authentically.

These wonderful people gave me inspiration, strength and deep understanding that what we are doing is very right for us.  Not necessarily the nomadic thing, but waking up and living an honest and authentic life.  Honest with ourselves about what we want.  Honest in not hiding our feelings or walking on egg shells to make others happy (this is NOT our responsibility).  Living, speaking and loving truthfully and *always* keeping in mind what is important: Relationships and Experiences.

That’s IT – that is ALL that is important in this life.  Relationships and Experiences.  Everything else is noise.  I am thankful that we see this now.  Even though we’d missed it for 40 years, I am thankful that it did not take a near death experience to get to this conclusion.

So, here is a wonderful blog post that pretty much nails it.  I’ve copied and pasted below.  If you would like the original link, please click:  here

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

By Bronnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way.

From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.

Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends
until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier
This is a surprisingly common one.

Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice.

They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

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Summer of Sun

It has been a busy, whirlwind month.  The weather has made the days feel like they are extra long and dragging out, and the busyness has made them feel like they’re flying by, so I’m getting both worlds and loving it.  We have had some incredible weather (the only thing missing is sand and surf!!) with a long run of high heat and non stop sun.  And when I say sun, I mean not a cloud in the sky.  This run has now been approximately 7 weeks long. The other day we had a temp drop and a few clouds for the first time, but we’re back up again and so very thankful (especially after a spring that consisted of a solid 8 weeks of rain!).

Blood and Steel – the 12 part mini-series about the building of the Titanic, has ended.  The Irish actors were so much fun whenever we ran into them in town.  We never did get a call, but we hung out there a few times a week and got to watch them in action.  I didn’t take pix while they were filming since Chris Noth sounds like he’s a little prone to tantrums and doesn’t want pix taken. I didn’t want to risk getting kicked out because I wanted the kids to be able to still get glimpses of the set.  Here’s a link and some pix:

http://perezhilton.com/2011-09-01-titanic-blood-and-steel-miniseries-in-development

Beograd and my Parents: We went to pick up my parents in Beograd and stayed over night in a hostel for the first time.  It was beautiful!  And empty!  Very impressed and will definitely look into this again.  I had quite a different vision of what a hostel was.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pix because we had a fun filled evening visiting the Beograd hospital where Torrin received a shot after having an allergic reaction to something.  Here is one of the only two or three pictures I could muster to take.  The pic was at the very beginning of the reaction.  By the end, it covered his entire body and he was very swollen and scary looking and I was not in a picture mood.

My parents arrived and we have spent every day with them. Hanging out in the park, walks in town, day trips to Vrnjacka Banja, Arandjelovac, and Zdrelo http://www.ruczdrelo.rs/sr/naslovna (nice!!!).  I also had the amazing opportunity to finally meet two half uncles and a half aunt – three children from my mother’s father’s second marriage.  For some reason our family has never connected with them!  Very thankful to have met them and their families and will now be visiting them often.  This picture only shows a few of them.

My dad and Caelin having a blast:

We also had a few broken teeth.  Torrin’s filling fell out and took with it a chunk of tooth. We will be making a dental appointment next week for him.  Also, Caelin attempted to eat the back of a swing as he swung Devlin. Poor little monkey took a small chunk out of his front tooth.  He’s good now, but was very sad about it initially.

We are still on the hunt for land and we’re starting to get a handle on the real estate protocol around here (i.e.: none lol).  We have quite a few that we’re interested in and quite a few that we have left to see. My new uncles and aunt will be showing me land in my moms village next week as well, so we’ll see what we find there.

I’m pretty close to gathering all the documents I need to submit for citizenship.  There has been a lot of running around to villages for my parents birth and marriage certificates, certificates stating that I am not registered anywhere, birth and marriage certificates from Canada, etc.  I just need to make two more photocopies and have some Canadian documents translated (I’m doing this today) and I can submit next week.  After that, I will submit for the children and we’ll get Mike started.  When I was at my mom’s village the other day, the man at the police station actually *typed* out the document on a manual type writer. Apparently Torrin has never seen one and was in great amazement.  He stared silently for quite some time with a grin on his face and finally asked in a whisper ‘mom….what is that?? What’s he doing?’.  It was just as classic as when he asked me what a phone booth was back in Toronto a few months ago.  We talked about it and in the end, the man gave us a type writer he had laying around.  He put a new ribbon in it and we’ve brought it home.  The boys have been fighting over who gets to use it for the past 24 hours.  Too funny!

Mike and the boys have now started Serbian lessons with an English professor here in town.  Mike goes three times a week and the kids will be going once, as well as learning from their friends on the street.  Mike is kicking my butt in grammar with padezi 🙂

My brother is arriving tonight with his girlfriend from Norway.  They are only here until Tuesday and we won’t have much time with him, but I am thankful for the time we will have.  My parents leave on Wednesday, but both my parents and my brother will be heading out on Monday for Beograd.  It’s been wonderful having them here and I will miss them.  We have our friend Alex from Toronto visiting us in October and we are looking forward to having him here!

Next week or the week after, we will be taking a day trip to Bulgaria, possibly Croatia in order to extend our stay past the 90 days.  Some planning needs to be done here yet.

One of the girls that hangs out with the boys lives just a couple of houses down.  They invited us over one night a little while ago and we hit it off with them.  They are so sweet and so funny. We do evening walks or just hang out in their yard after the boys go to bed.  They have three girls (in their teens!) and run Rock Star which is like a game room in the summer for kids to hang out in, a birthday party place (kind of like Chuck E Cheese with out the cheesy-ness of it and on a smaller more intimate scale).  In the winter, they also do fitness classes in the studio.  The girls are also involved in the business with their mom, Bilja.  Toma is in a band and we had the privilege of watching them practice one night.  It’s very old school ethnic Serb music from a few hundred years ago.  Really kind of neat.  Check it out:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Iq4RuwTQI  Toma is the guy in the middle with the black vest.  He also makes the instruments.

Tomorrow evening we are having a huge family reunion at the restaurant in the park.  Looking very much forward to seeing everyone in one place 🙂

So, that’s it for now.  More updates to come!

Ves

p.s. I’ve heard stories from local people who were called to work as actors and extras how they are working 12 hour days in 40 degree weather and not even being water to drink!  I’m actually now relieved the boys weren’t called.

Posted in Serbia | 5 Comments

Movie stars in Kragujevac ha ha ha….and some other stuff…

Things here have been plugging along.  We’ve been hanging with family, meeting tons of locals and foreigners, working our passions, enjoying the hot, then cool, then hot weather, and looking for property.

The boys have really started to get experimental.  Torrin (our Leonardo) started building a boat a few weeks back.  It started when we were in a toy store and he bought himself a model of the Titanic.  Then, they watched the movie every day for a week and researched a ton on the Titanic and events around it.  Then, Torrin started collecting empty water bottle jugs and bottles…..and cardboard boxes…..and packing tape.  LOTS of it.  We *thought* he was just building a little boat to float in the tub.  After about a weeks worth of work between him and his bothers, he asked us to call a cab and take him to the lake.  We realized he wanted to *ride* in the boat!  He’d put together an oar and an anchor even!  Mike and I, full of panic and doubt….and still getting used to the unschooling and not allowing our fears to stop them from learning….followed along.  When we arrived at the lake, Torrin put it in the water and tried to get in.  He was surprised when the water started going in, but I quickly stepped in when I saw there was hope and that all he had to do was balance a little.  So I coached him with some breathing – yoga/meditation-ish style and told him to concentrate on feeling the balance and that he would get it.  He contorted his legs and found the balance and off he went!  He rode on it for 20 minutes coming in and out of shore and grinning from ear to ear!  It was fantastic!  And we were pleased also with ourselves for learning to help him rather to hinder – he surprised us both and it was truly amazing 🙂

Then, the boys have also been interested in movie making.  They even made a movie called Zombie Hunters with Mike and Mike put together part 1.  The boys had a blast and it was quite funny.

Since then, we’ve been checking out the country-side around town and have finally started seeing things that interest us! 🙂  Very pleased.  We’ve also been looking at abandoned land on my mom’s side of the family and the 90 ar’s that is my dads (and by extension mine).  We hope to have something purchased soon.  It is definitely getting close and we are very excited.  The prices are about 20 – 25 euros per ar which puts 1 hectar at a couple of thousand dollars.  We just need to make sure there’s electricity, water, and we are able to build on it.  The other big thing is to make sure we can get internet.  The land here is so amazing for agriculture, but everyone has abandoned the villages. Certainly when and if Serbia ends up joining the EU, some Monsanto-like company will take notice of the agricultural possibilities.   We are in awe of the land.  It is really incredible.

This past weekend, we went to visit a waterfall yesterday and the water was so incredibly clean as we walked the entire length of the river to it’s very beginning at the top of the mountain.  I found it so hard to believe we were looking at a river – the water was amazing.  And freezing!  We drank from the many little waterfalls along the way, and filled our bottles in some of the mini caves as the water dripped from the ceilings.  At the very top where the water began flowing down the mountain, we stopped again and drank right from the source.  I was near tears.  It’s incredible.  I cannot believe how amazing it is to feel so close to the land.  I want to feel closer. I want to see places like this all over the world….just as amazing as Carlsbad caverns. I want to drink in everything this planet has to offer.  Nature is really incredible! 🙂

My parents have decided to come and visit and are leaving on August 22 through to September 14.  I cannot wait!  It will be great to have them here!  We also have a friend from a clients coming to visit us in October!  I am thrilled and thankful for the visits!

Funny how the universe works.  With all this Titanic and how-to-make-a-movie stuff and boat building going on, today was quite an interesting chain of events.  We went to De Vinci’s (one of our favourite restaurants due to the fact that you can actually get a salad there!).  Whilst sitting there, we noticed a group of 9 men who were very obviously not Serbian, sitting at the table behind us.  Then I started hearing English with accents…Irish, British, etc.  Of course we stared over and spoke English loudly and I finally asked them where they are from.  Turns out they’re from Ireland and don’t speak a stitch of Serbian.  Also turns out, they are on the set of a movie that is being filmed just down the street in a portion of Zastava across the river!  Also turns out that the film is about the building of the Titanic!!!!  Serendipity or WHAT?!  🙂  So…I gave these guys our number/email since they’re here for 6 weeks and would like to see some stuff, but don’t speak the language.  Hopefully we can help them out.

So….out of curiosity, we took a walk down to the set after lunch.  And low and behold, they are building a mock up of parts of the ship right there behind a Zastava building across the bridge.  As we freely walked around the set and peaked into a big warehouse-sh building, some guy approached us.  I was sure he was going to ask us to leave, but instead he asked about casting Caelin as an extra due to his blond hair and blue/green eyes!  Then, he noticed Torrin and asked the same.  And then Devlin!  And then he saw Mike’s blue eyes and threw him in there too!  I can’t be cast because of my short hair – and I just happened to chop off my long hair not two months or so ago!!  ARG!  Well, I guess I can be the stage mom haha!  Anyway, I filled in the forms for all of my boys, they were all photographed, etc. and we are awaiting the call.  Mike already has grandiose plans for his stardom, and is thinking of getting baseball caps, sunglasses and various disguises so he is not recognized on the street.  hahaha 🙂

Seriously though – very exciting and I am thrilled for my boys!  I hope the call comes and they get to have some fun!  Also, if they are cast, they get 20 euros each for every day they’re on set!  Although, we would all do it for free ’cause this is pretty kewl I must say!

That’s about it for now dear reader!  Thanks for reading and following our journey.  Please remember to interact – we love hearing from you!

Ves

Posted in Serbia | 2 Comments

Summer heat and temporarily settled nomads…

Not much to report on travel or new adventures these days, but we’re very happy in the current space we’re in both mentally and physically.

We’re getting back on track with our health and I’m reluctant to get back on the move until that’s flowing again naturally.  But, so far so good. No where near as difficult as I made the food issue out to be last year.  This is good because it means I’ve paradigm shifted again, and I love that!

We’ve been busy working and visiting family.  We’re also moving forward with a land purchase and have been viewing plots with agents, but they’re not what we want.

We finally rented a car and I drove for the first time in Europe ever.  Driving is definitely crazy around here and super aggressive.  For those of you who have ever driven with me, you’d think I’d feel at home amongst fellow aggressive drivers, but this is completely different.  Everyone in ON is always poo-pooing driving here and warning against it, saying they would never drive here again.  It’s a bit like people who live outside the GTA.  Everyone outside the GTA knows *one* person who is willing to drive within the city. No one else will even attempt it, but they make sure their GTA driver comes along with them on road trips to Tdot.  So….after renting the car and having that mental block in our heads (even though we knew it was silly), Mike hit the road first.  After the initial few minutes, it was nothing! We cruised around the countryside getting a good idea of what everything looks like around here.  We then went to visit my dad’s self-sustaining farm that his cousin still lives on.  It truly is the best place on earth for me! So many happy childhood memories.  We have a large family on that side, and all the kids in their 20’s/30’s now have little ones running around….all boys!  It’s so awesome to see!

Swimming is going great!  It’s not like swim classes in ON where it’s a 1/2 hour of singing and fun lol.  I mean it’s fun, but they are in there working their butts off. They are super serious about sports around here. The instructors are amazing and talk to me like ‘they’re not ready for the olympics yet’ and I’m all about ‘hey I just don’t want them to fall into a puddle and drown’.  Either way, both boys seem to really love this style.  Today, no one else showed up to their classes, so both boys had 1 hour private lessons because it was pretty cold outside.

We also saw a man have the cr*p kicked out of him a week or so back.  It was about 9:00pm and we were walking back home (the kids were at the house with the teen sitters) and saw a man laying under a table. At first we thought seizure or heart attack, but when another man started kicking his head, we decided it was time to cross the street. Thankfully the boys were not with us.  I’ve never seen a bar fight that bad.  I’ve been in many fights as a kid, but that’s a whole other calibre.  We had some pretty interesting insights after that.  I love finding lessons in everything we experience.  I’m not sure the man on the ground felt the same though…

We saw my cousin Kaca again yesterday.  It’s crazy really.  This year we’ve seen her in three different countries in almost as many months.  We saw her in April in NYC. She was there for a talk at the university, and we were being tourists.  Then, we visited her and her family in Leipzig, Germany in June for a week.  And yesterday, here in Kragujevac. Love it! 🙂

It’s been crazy hot here.  Between 35 and 40 for nearly 3 weeks straight. No rain in sight. It finally broke about two days ago, and I actually miss it!  It’s been funny because there was two days of ‘heat’ in Ontario and all I’ve heard from friends and family is about how hot it is.  Granted, they had the humidity to contend with, but the perspective is funny.

On a toddler note: We have started Caelin on the no-diaper path.  So far it’s been going well!  Just waiting for the habit to kick in.  We never really did much for the other two, but I figure since we’re stationary for a bit, we should encourage it before we’re on the move again.

On a parental note: It looks like my parents might be coming to visit!  I’m very excited and can’t wait!!

On a sibling note: My brother has been in Norway since May, house-sitting for a year with his girlfriend.  They had a day off the other day and decided to head down to Oslo for a bit.  They ended up not too far away from where the bomb went off and were taking cover from falling glass.  Very glad they’re ok.  You can check out some of his pix on his site: http://www.vexedart.com/photo9.html

That’s about it for now. No crazy stuff, no crazy pix, just hummin’ along and feeling very mellow.  I’m taking in my family, the streets my parents walked, and the towns they grew up in. The longest I’ve ever been here is 6 weeks as a full on visitor.  I’ll be breaking that record in the next week or so.  We’re both starting to forget where we are.  I walked out to take the garbage to the street the other night and it was like I’d forgotten where we were for a second.  We’re also running into many people from France, Germany, Montreal, Italy, etc.  It’s neat to see people here from other areas.

That’s about it!  I am full of thanks for a lot of things today (and every day).  I hope you’re all in an amazing space as well!

Ves

Posted in Serbia | 1 Comment

KG – update and ramblings

So, we are two weeks into being here in KG (Kragujevac).  So much has happened, and it seems we’ve been here for much much longer.  We’ve only seen a fraction of family members and friends as we’ve been taking the visits slow.  Between work, re-discovering the city, meeting new people, enrolling the kids in activities, it’s been rather busy.

Our routine right now has set in nicely.  The boys are enrolled in swimming at the outdoor pools.  One hour lessons every week day for two months.  They are building an indoor pool there as well, so after the two months is up, if the new pool is built, we’ll have them start there.

I’m still trying to get them into Tennis.  The easiest possibility is the tennis courts in the park right next to the pool, but the instructor has some sort of block because they don’t know the language yet.  I just want them to fool around…not become rock stars.  Plus we want them to learn Serbian, so have at ‘er! 🙂  There is another possibility of them getting lessons with an English speaking brother/sister from Australia.  We’ll see how that all plays out.

After swimming every morning, we usually hang out at the park and the boys jump on the trampolines and ride the rides.  There are also bikes that they rent to ride around on for hours.

Typically we head to the center after that to run errands and purchase food.  Then we get home, get some work done whilst the boys play with the girls and visit family in the evening.

Mike and I are trying to find a car rental place here.  It’s proven to be a bit difficult to find.  We did, however, run into a couple in the mall yesterday.  The husband, Eric, is from Montreal!  His parents live in Hamilton (where my parents live!) and his wife’s family is from KG. They are visiting from Switzerland with their three kids.  It took him about 6 months to learn Serbian.  They left yesterday and left the three kids behind.  It’s too bad we met them on the day they were leaving, but we intend on meeting up with their three kids, Suzana’s sister and family!  They also have a 7 seater they said we can borrow.  We just need to look into the whole license thing.  It’s amazing to meet people, instantly connect, and all of a sudden you have more friends and family! Very very thankful!

We are looking for a car rental to visit other towns for sight seeing, and also to look for land.  We have an appointment on Monday with a real estate office to look for land. We’re very excited.  I’m also super excited to learn that my mom has a few plots of land from her side of the family.  Old farms – one is even abandoned.  It was the one she used to keep bees on, and the one my grandmother grew up on.  My father also has land around the farm he grew up on (and where my grandfather, and great grandfather, etc. grew up on!).  There is also a house that a cousin of mine grew up in (and is now abandoned) that I wouldn’t mind looking into acquiring.  I’d like to keep these things in the family.  They are all in tiny villages and on amazing farmland.  My moms land is up in the hills, and we are looking at getting out there to see it in the next few days.  We’re also checking out the local interests in eco-farming.  It looks like two separate friends of ours will be visiting this fall from North America to check out this amazing land as well.  I’m looking forward to amazing visits and ideas about the future!

Our friend Lily and her husband are busy building up their farm near Kosovo.  They moved here from Australia 2 years ago with their daughter (and have had another daughter since).  They keep animals, as well as crops.  I’m very inspired by them 🙂

Mike’s Serbian is coming along well – he’s ordering at restaurants and understanding more and more.  I can’t say as much about my Serbian lol.  The padezi are killing me.  The kids are also starting to use it more and more.

The boys have really bonded with the girls on the street.  These girls are so wonderful!  They’re 13 years old and hang out with the boys every day.  They’ve also baby sat for us, as has one of my cousins daughters.  It’s been amazing having so much ‘us’ time!  Very very thankful 🙂

Torrin has had sparks of starting another business again.  I’ll move him forward with it as his interests grow.  The boys are really doing well here and seem excited about a lot.  They were quite bored in Toronto (the rain and cold for 6 weeks straight didn’t help much) and there just weren’t any kids around for them to play with.

After we check out the real estate this week, and get this car rental/borrowing thing figured out, we’ll start sight seeing.  Can’t wait!

Ves

Posted in C. Nomads - Part 2 - Summer/Fall 2011 | Tagged | 1 Comment

Love (real) vs Money (imaginary)

Leftists: people who are often ridiculed for being brave enough to value humanity over cash.

If we believe the world is a miserable place, it truly is. If we believe in and love ourselves with complete truth and honesty, that can only radiate to all others and the world around us.  I am starting to see beauty in people I have not been able to see before.  It’s not 100%, but it’s getting there.  The most difficult for me are the people that insist on living a toxic existence.  It’s like they are addicted to it, but also because they know of no other way to exist.  They were not taught anything but debilitating fear.

The economy is not looking good these days.  Through our travels and before we set out on this, we had decided that the only two things that matter in life are experiences and relationships.  I am so thankful we did what we did, and when we did it.  We are working hard at maintaining our existing relationships and adding more as we travel and meet people.  We are also working hard at making all our experiences be as enriching as possible for ourselves and our children.  This means not living on autopilot and living consciously.  That is still a challenge and we are not doing it as often as we’d like, but it is definitely more than before.  Being in the moment is the only thing that matters.  Everything else is a waste of energy and life. Love in the moment.

Watching the reports and forecasts around the world about the crumbling economies and this coming ‘depression’ being far worse than the ‘great depression’….these reports no longer make me nervous.  In fact, I’m quite energized knowing that it will finally force us full out of the industrial era and into the new era of services, collaboration and knowledge sharing.  What will it look like?  Who knows!  That’s the fun of it! Best case scenarios is that all economies crumble and people finally force the banks to shut down their dirty business of running the world.  Greece is the current one to watch obviously, but it will start rolling out elsewhere.  I cannot see any escape and we cannot go back to how things ‘were’. It is impossible.

What we do know is….the more self sustaining we are, the better.  I have friends and family, who I admire greatly and who are either starting, or currently live sustainable lives.  These incredible people are the happiest and most peaceful people I have ever met.

Our mission is to teach the children to be fully self sustaining and to not know debilitating fear. Fear is a very good thing, but only if it is used to propel one upward and forward into a new level of being and peace.  Failure is also an amazing thing to embrace.  For, without it, we can never move forward and remain forever stagnant and slave-like.

We will continue to move forward closer and closer to self sustainability.  I am curious what the next few decades will bring to the bankster elites and their political and military puppets.  They depend on us.  As Greece is showing us….we should not fear the illusion of economic issues….the elites and banksters should fear us. For they are worth nothing without us believing they are worth something and allowing them to continue what they’re doing.

My message is: do not fear this!  Band together, love ourselves and each other and keep each other safe and healthy. Do not turn against each other. Do not speak ill of each other to friends and loved ones. That only separates us further.  Love is the only thing that can pull us through anything and everything. Do not wait for the elites to give us a solution. Their only solution is for their best interests.

My deepest love to you all! 🙂

Ves

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Family….

It is sooo kewl and such a novelty for me to have so much family around all the time!  We visited my cousin this morning, ran into another cousin at a local shop, met another cousin and went to the park where we ran into an aunt and uncle and their grandchild (cousin’s kid). I love love love having such a huge family!!  After being so isolated from everyone for four decades, this is really incredible and I am thankful for every minute!!  I think it seems like this town is just full of all my relatives!  And tons of them are on the Adriatic at the moment, so they’re not even all here!

One of my cousin’s boys is starting daily swimming lessons at the local pool on Monday.  I think we’ll tag along and speak to someone about enrolling the boys!  I’m very excited!  They were doing amazing with their swimming whilst we travelled the states and had access to a pool daily.  Since arriving in Toronto though it’s been awful and they haven’t swum at all 🙁

We heard high season summer rates for Greece from quite a few people in my family who are going there this summer.  At high season, it’s about $100 Euros for a 5 bed with kitchen, etc. right on the beach for *fifteen* days!  Uh….where do I sign up?  So of course in September/October it will drop down and we should be able to get a pretty decent spot on one of the islands.  WOW!

We’ve also had quite the questions, comments and praises from family on what we’re doing!  I wasn’t expecting anything at all – more neutral responses actually – nothing positive or negative.  But, the support has been overwhelming so far!  From my cousins family in Germany, to the few people we’ve visited so far here…wow…just wow.  The support is awesome!

On a language note, Mike’s Serbian is coming along….he ordered our meals today at lunch!  He only screwed up when I helped him!  He’ll need to teach me more about the grammar. I’m really lost on the male/female endings still.  The boys are also starting to respond with thank yous/pleases, etc. in Serbian. Loving it!

Oh and I finally finished checking in at the police station today, so we’re good there.  Mike bought a book on stuff to see in Serbia and we have a number of people throwing suggestions our way.  We’ll start checking this stuff out in a few weeks.  Yay!

Bye for now!

Ves

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Kragujevac!

It’s been a bit since the last blog. We’ve since visited Berlin. Not bad, but waaay too touristy. Because of that, we found it very frustrating and didn’t really know what we wanted to do…if anything. We walked around and saw all the major things on the first day. The second day we ran into someone who gave us a rundown of what to see and it turned out we’d seen it all already! Sigh…

My German was starting to come back to me more. It was wonderful, and for that reason I would have loved to have stayed longer just to start getting it to flow more.

We took a train from Berlin to Beograd. We wanted the whole train experience. Even though it would only take about 12 hours to drive, but the train took more than double that. We had a sleeper car for the overnight leaving from Berlin to Munich. It was definitely an interesting experience. We do like having control of our own vehicle though, so I think we are finished with trains for a bit 🙂 The next train from Munich to Beograd was supposed to be our own room, but it didn’t turn out that way. We didn’t purchase much in terms of snacks before we got on the train. We assumed there were would be food cars as there have been on other trains we’ve been on. Not so much. So, we were traveling from 8:00 until 23:30 sans food/water. Luckily we brought enough water and the kids weren’t going nuts for food too much. By 17:00 I realised there wasn’t going to be food on the train, so I started poking my head out at the stops to see if I can run out and grab something. The stops were never long enough and the risk of the train just taking off were a bit too great. Some people in our car were so wonderful! They gave the kids some snacks that they had and one woman called ahead to her family in Zagreb to pick up sandwiches, etc. for us when she reached the station! Another wonderful woman called ahead at around 22:30 to her family in Novi Sad to purchase some water for the boys as we had run out.

We are so very thankful for all the wonderful people on our car!! Granted – it wasn’t a dire situation in the least, and I wasn’t concerned, but it was still amazing to see how people just up and helped out. Humans really can be incredible! 🙂

One thing that has struck us since landing in Europe in general is that everyone just seems to know all the facts about the situation around the planet – economically and politically. All the things that we have been learning for the past 6 months. All the things that shocked us into reality of what’s going on in the world and in North America. All the things that most average North Americans think of as alternative views. These are all common sense here! And very obviously in Greece. I’m shocked at how blinded we were by our own media that we did not see this. BUT, I am very grateful that we now see it and understand it. It is much easier to make life decisions when you know what the real story is.

So, it’s incredible to get these perspectives from everyone here. It’s fantastic to learn, and hear, and I am very thankful to meet each and every person and have the opportunity to share their life experiences.

We made it to Kragujevac at 2:30am the other night and settled quickly. It’s almost like we never left! We ran around getting essentials yesterday – cell phones, internet, food, etc. All my phone numbers had been wiped off my sim card from last year, so I’m starting fresh and have no idea how to get a hold of family other than Facebook and Skype. We did the 10 min. walk to downtown and Mike asked jokingly ‘how long are we going to keep our arrival a secret’. I laughed and told him whenever I could get my hands on a few phone numbers, we’d start calling people. Within 5 min. someone was calling my name and we ran into my cousins son on my mom’s side. A few hours later, we ran into a cousin and his wife (on my dads side). So, basically that’s all that was needed I think…I’m pretty sure the rest of the families know by now 🙂 Gotta love it! Not 8 hours in this town, no phone, no internet, and the word is out 🙂

It seems the rain has been following us since we first arrived in Toronto. Nearly 2 months of straight rain and chilly temps in Toronto. We arrived in Frankfurt/Leipzig/Berlin just in time to see the end of their warm spring and hang out for nearly two weeks of rain and chilly temps. Just as we were boarding the train in Berlin, we heard talks that the sunny, 38 degree weather in Kragujevac is moving out and rain and chilly weather will be starting. Sure enough, on our first day here yesterday, the rain started. Today, there’s a chill in the air and it seems to be about 15 degrees. That’s more than half of what it was just before we arrived. I think South/Central America is looking better and better 🙂 Or it’s just that this weather loves us so much!

Another eye re-opener yesterday was the price of technology. Canada really does have the most outrageous prices out there. Even in the states we did not pay as much for a cell and internet stick – no where near what we paid in Canada. And here it’s even more glaring.

Yesterday, we bought a sim card for my phone from last year, topped it up, bought a phone and topped up sim card for Mike, bought an internet stick with a sim card topped up. All this cost $71 Canadian!!!! This is completely shocking! Considering that we paid $70 for an internet stick *alone* in Ontario…just wow…. I have to hand it to the mega corps though – they really know how to stick it to Canada. Food is tripple the cost as was in the states, and technology a full double the cost. The cost of living in Ontario (and I’m not even going to touch B.C.!) is insane. In Leipzig we were surprised as well with the $2.00 bottles of wine (and those are the *good* bottles!) we saw on the shelves! Almost makes me want to take up drinking again ha ha ha ha – NOT! But seriously LCBO – what the heck!? Yup – good ol’ mega corps and government sticking it to the people. Sigh. It’s just so obvious now that we are doing all this comparison shopping that we didn’t have to do when we were just taking vacations.

So, today we wrap up a few more details we need to do to settle in – register at the police station, pick up a blender and some other small items. I am switching over into speaking almost all Serbian all the time. Mike would like to be fluent, and the kids should be 100% fluent by the end of the summer at least. I will be picking up some work books for them and they should be reading full on within a week or two once they learn the alphabet. I’d like them to learn both alphabets, so it might take a few weeks to get them to learn the sounds and then they should be completely literate. We will start that over the weekend.

Well – this post seems to be all over the place again 🙂 The kids are about, so my focus isn’t here, but I think I’m up to date on where we are and what’s going on. Looking very much forward to spending time with my family and keeping in touch via most awesome Skype with now-distant family 🙂

Ves

Posted in C. Nomads - Part 2 - Summer/Fall 2011, Serbia | Tagged | 2 Comments

Germany, family, language

So, after just under two weeks in Germany, I’m finding my German is coming back to me.  It’s slower to come back than Serbian is, but I don’t use it anywhere near as much (or at all!), so I suppose it’s not surprising 🙂  I still understand German surprisingly well (unless there’s a super fast conversation going on), but the recall of words whilst on the spot with three kids jumping around me screaming in English, is quite weak!  But, now by the end of the week, I’m starting to string sentences together and recall more and more.  I find German so easy to learn (compared to French, Spanish, etc.) because it is so much like English, but also because there are surprisingly many German nouns that are also Serbian nouns!  I had no idea!  I’m finding I want to stick around longer just for the language.  But alas, I think we need to ‘settle’ for a bit and are all looking forward to being in Kragujevac for a bit.

We’ve spent the last week and a bit here in Leipzig with my wonderful cousin and her family!  They have two young adorable boys (8 and 4), and our boys are having a blast!  Caelin’s new hero is my cousins husband, Djordje – it’s pretty cute to watch.

I love love love watching the kids roll around, run around and just be kids. Pretty much my only rules with the kids horsing around are 1. that no one gets hurt, 2. everyone is being shown respect, and 3. nothing is damaged.  Other than that, I usually don’t care how much noise, etc. goes on…..nor does it even enter my radar.  So, my tolerance for noise and horseplay I think is a lot higher, and I never notice that the kids are being overly crazy until I see other adults get all weird.  And even that seems to take some time for me to notice…because by the time I notice, they seem to be past their limit already!

I love love love watching the boys and their cousins in Toronto run around and play like crazy.  The awesome thing about those cousins is that there are three of them, and they are all exactly the same age as our boys.  I just sit and watch in awe as they play around.  I never had such companionship as a child, so watching this warms my heart to no end!  I could sit all day and watch them mess around with family. 🙂

Yesterday morning, I thoroughly enjoyed watching and videoing the scene below.  I was sooooo in the zone and I shushed them lightly a few times, but I completely was drawn into how awesomely fun it looked and what an amazing time they were having with their family 🙂  Some might think I should be more of a responsible adult in these situations, but I truly love watching them be kids in a world where adults like myself expect way too much from them on a daily basis.

And so, after an amazing week and a bit here in Leipzig (great city by the way – amazing infrastructure, history, urban layout, and architecture…and WOW Germany REALLY knows how to build train and transit systems….just….WOW!), we are off to Berlin tomorrow for two days before a two day train trip down to Beograd.  I’m so excited!  We have a sleeper car and everything!  The drive down is only something like 12 hours, but for some reason the train is traveling at a slow walking speed.  But, for this time around, we want the train experience 🙂  Can’t wait!!

We also can’t wait to get to Kragujevac and get a life, exercise, and food routine all set up. Looking forward to it!

Ves

Posted in C. Nomads - Part 2 - Summer/Fall 2011, Germany | Leave a comment