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I needed a challenge off to get some aspects of my life together and figured out, but while always imperfect, I’m such a better person when I’m doing a challenge. So here I am with the Adventurers once again....

 

Who am I?

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(Yes, this image is to show off my awesome new hair.)

 

I am Ann of Vries, aged 40, diarist, LARPer, stitch witch, traveler, walker, and an aspirational forest fairy living in the city. I’m an American living in London, UK; married to my true love and brilliant partner (Mr of Vries) and my main job/labour of love is raising our adorable toddler son (Rowan of Vries). Which is mostly fun, but occasionally harrowing.

 

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(You wouldn’t know he had a total tantrum meltdown on this same train a few days before....)

 

I immigrated to the UK from Seattle three and a half years ago. I love it here, although I’m still trying to find my tribe (outside of the House of Vries, of course). I long to live in the English countryside, in a stone house with a large garden that grows most of our herbs, vegetables, and fruit. But that time is out in the future—for now, we are city folk and I aim to make the best of that. Not every person gets a chance to move abroad and live in one of the most famous cities in the world! To that end....

 

I am the Dream

Look at my short summary up there. I am, by many people’s standards, ~living the dream~. But a tendency toward Hedonic Adaption, some much wished for (and worked for) dreams that didn’t come true, and a history of depression (which gets much worse in the darker part of the year) means I often forget this.

 

The Challenge

There’s no reason to let these dreams turn into a nightmare. So to help keep the darkness at bay and remain living the dream, I will be:

 

Practicing gratitude/journaling

  • Write and post about something I’m grateful about at least 3 times a week. Many will be about my general status of life, but least one of those per week should be something current.
  • Keep up on my personal journals in between.

 

Meditation and spiritual practices

I’ve recently started a course to help motivate me out of being an occasional witch and more of a regularly practicing one.

  • Practice grounding/centering/meditation at least 5 days a week. Every day is better, but every day doesn’t always happen.
  • At least two more lessons completed for the pagan degree course I’m in.
  • At least once a week, work on book study or a branch class assignment.

 

Get outside/stay active

RoV is now a walker (although not particularly fast or with a destination in mind), and he doesn’t want to be carried all the time. In fact, he doesn’t much like carriers at all anymore and I’ve had to give and buy a stroller if I want to get him around (I’m not sure why he prefers the stroller to the carrier, but he does). This means my days of hours and hours of walking have become more challenging as has my use of public transport (my nearby stations aren’t step-free accessible), despite that RoV needs to go out 2 or 3 times a day to burn off energy. 

  • Go outside at least once a day, even if it’s just the back garden
  • Embrace and enjoy going out.
  • 10k steps a day; more is better.

 

Engage in mind-healthy pursuits (and cut back mindless ones)

  • I’m finding myself wasting a lot of time on mindless Facebook scrolling, news rubber-necking and other such activities. Cut back to only checking a couple of times a day and for no more than 5 minutes a go.
  • Spend that time on reading, appreciating the outdoors, journaling, embroidery, knitting, and playing with RoV.
  • I may resurrect my Instagram account. We’ll see.

 

Don’t (always) eat the croissant

I’m at a healthy weight and I’m generally a healthy eater, but the last few weeks has seen me engaging in a lot of indulgent, often junky eating (made worse by a two weeks cold I’m still recovering from) and my weight has crept up just enough to concern me about the beginning of an ongoing trend. 

  • My household consists of foodies, and I’m not a calorie counter, but sometimes I just need to resist the croissant. (And I definitely need to resist the junk food!) 
  • Sometimes, I’m allowed to have the croissant but it needs to be a conscious choice.

 

There’s a lot going on in this challenge, and you guys know I’m not a huge fan of collecting the metrics. My general intent is that by striving for these things with some accountability, I will do them more often, and I’ll try to update a couple of times a week with how it’s going.

 

Except!

I’m going on an adventure during this challenge! We’ll be headed to Wales for 2 weeks shortly into the challenge. I haven’t decided if I’m taking my laptop or if I’m just going to go with a notebook and my phone and have a bit of tech break. Depending on how this goes, I may go silent for a couple of weeks. But I’ll be back.

 

Cheers,

 

AoV

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I'm really glad you're back. Your challenge looks great, and your upcoming adventure sounds awesome. 

 

Also, your little one sounds like an adorable ball of energy. I know you're enjoying every moment.

 

Let me know if I can help in any way. 

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2 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

So here I am with the Adventurers once again....

 

YAY! Good to see you! I wished you well when you wandered off with the Rangers, of course, but I’m glad to see you back here embracing your #adventurerlife :) 

 

2 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

I’ve recently started a course to help motivate me out of being an occasional witch and more of a regularly practicing one.

 

You’re in a good place for it, from what I can tell. Do you know the work of Tanya Luhrmann? Her book Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft made me a little jealous of the strong and strikingly un-flaky (by California standards, I suppose, where flaky is a way of life) Pagan and Wiccan community in the UK. I’m not a practitioner or anything, but I’ve studied Neopaganism in general fairly extensively, and that study indirectly led me to my academic career (in ways I didn’t realize until I was answering some questions about Tarot for my sister recently).

 

2 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

RoV is now a walker

 

Wait, what? Didn’t you just have that baby? :blink: So glad the Enting is beginning to stride around, though!

 

2 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

I’m going on an adventure during this challenge! We’ll be headed to Wales for 2 weeks shortly into the challenge.

 

Oooh! How fun! Will you make it to the seaside? My Shropshire friends dragged me into a camping and walking holiday in the Devil's Bridge area this spring and it was amazing, green and lush and gorgeous sunny weather. May you enjoy similar good fortune :)

 

Looks like an awesome challenge! Good luck!

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1 hour ago, oromendur said:

You’re in a good place for it, from what I can tell. Do you know the work of Tanya Luhrmann? Her book Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft made me a little jealous of the strong and strikingly un-flaky (by California standards, I suppose, where flaky is a way of life) Pagan and Wiccan community in the UK. I’m not a practitioner or anything, but I’ve studied Neopaganism in general fairly extensively, and that study indirectly led me to my academic career (in ways I didn’t realize until I was answering some questions about Tarot for my sister recently).

 

I’ve not heard of that book, but now I want to read it XD Sounds a bit like the British equivalent of Margot Alder’s Drawing Down the Moon. My initial introduction to neopaganism was among some very flaky and slightly questionable people on the West Coast. The general beliefs stuck with me, but I kept to myself. For a variety of reasons, moving to the UK has pushed this part of me back into focus. I may have to ask you about some of your thoughts when we have lunch ^_^

 

(My iPad is struggling with quote functions...)

 

Re: walking

Seriously, wasn’t he born like two days ago? ;_; He also has more words than I can keep track of, and his understanding of language is boggling. 

 

Re: Wales

We’ll be closer to the English border, in the Wye Valley/Monmouth area. I’m looking forward to a day trip to Hay-on-Wye. Last time I went, we were just visiting the UK and had carry-on luggage. This time I have a car and a house.

 

*manical bibliophile laughter*

 

Oh, and the hiking will be good, too ;)

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ann of Vries said:

*manical bibliophile laughter*

 

 

1 hour ago, Ann of Vries said:

Oh, and the hiking will be good, too

 

Hiking is ALWAYS good. ;)

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48 minutes ago, GoodDoug said:

Though I am a bit intrigued that someone offers a degree in pagan studies...

 

Think more like belts in martial arts than university degrees ^_^ 

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Following along here.

 

Just because you're living the dream doesn't mean things are perfect.  Love the goals and the plans!  Also, RoV is still adorbs.  He'd probably have fun with Bo Peep.

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11 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

I long to live in the English countryside, in a stone house with a large garden that grows most of our herbs, vegetables, and fruit.

That does sound lovely! I have a similar dream of a tiny house in the middle of nature, growing most of our own food.. but that's not happening any time soon, so one of the ways I deal with that is practice my skills and grow as much as I can in our small backyard. 

I think you'll love this; https://happenfilms.com/film/the-plummery

That whole website is incredibly inspiring :)

 

Love the hair btw!

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14 hours ago, KB Girl said:

I have a similar dream of a tiny house in the middle of nature, growing most of our own food.

 

There is (hopefully) no tiny house in my future. When it’s just me, I’ve been happy to just have a rented room somewhere. But the amount of space I need/want to not feel suffocated when living with other people (even ones I love) increases exponentially XD

 

I will have to check out that site, thank you! 

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So far, I’m being quite bad at resisting the croissant. I have an obsession with them recently. I guess in my favour, I only have one on a given day so it’s not as if I’m binge eating them.

 

It’s still Zero Week, and I’m still a little sick and RoV has lapsed from our shared cold into a stomach bug. (This happened last time he had a long illness as well.) So messy. Poor kid. 

 

Anyway, I’m not going to beat myself up about having a croissant at breakfast. I’d just like to bring down the average per week and it’s something to work on.

 

The rest of my goals are proceeding, insomuch as they can when I only started this challenge 1.5 days ago XD 

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See, last time RoV got a post-illness stomach sickness, it was localized to him.

 

Apparently the one he has now is shareable, don’t ask how I know. I’m glad it’s zero week....

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That is indeed incredible hair! I always wanted to get a similar dye, but with gold and pink streaks in it like Image result for oil spill hair dye

 

Hay-On-Wye is incredible, though if you want to do the bookstores justice, bring plenty of cash and a whole day. I've been hiking the Offas Dyke trail in sections over the past two years and part of the route is from Monmouth to Hay-on-Wye, and I dearly would have loved to spend more time there.

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1 hour ago, Infinity.Creates said:

That is indeed incredible hair! I always wanted to get a similar dye, but with gold and pink streaks in it like Image result for oil spill hair dye

 

Hay-On-Wye is incredible, though if you want to do the bookstores justice, bring plenty of cash and a whole day. I've been hiking the Offas Dyke trail in sections over the past two years and part of the route is from Monmouth to Hay-on-Wye, and I dearly would have loved to spend more time there.

 

I think that’s one of the photos I brought my stylist ^_^ She recommended I keep to either cools or warms because of the way that they fade differently and required maintenance, so we went for blue/teal with some purple accents. (I did a lot of pink and purple hair when I was in my 20s.) It’s much bright than the photo indicates, but teal is a really hard colour to photograph!

 

I’ll have to check out Offa’s Dyke on our OS map. Any other good suggestions for the area?

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Gratitude 1.1

I am grateful to my next door neighbour. She’s a 70 year old retired Italian woman, and she can be a bit brusque. But she loooooves babies, and her early 30s daughters are not yet ready to provide her with grandbabies. She was soooo excited when she found out I was pregnant, and when she’s not off traveling with her husband (he runs an orchestra that tours Europe) or engaged in her myriad post-retirement activities, she will ring our bell and ask if she can take Rowan out for a bit.

 

My household has had a cycle of illness for the last two weeks. On the heels of a long respiratory illness, we all came down with a stomach bug this weekend. Rowan, of course, got it Thursday and was feeling chipper by Saturday which is when I went down. (And Mr today, this is the usual rotation.)

 

Our neighbour has been absolutely heroic and taking Rowan out a lot lately so we can rest. This morning (when she’d told me earlier this week she wouldn’t be around this weekend) she rang the bell, took him for 2 hours and wore him out so much he took a 2 hour nap when he got back! We actually got a chance to rest! And Rowan loves her.

 

One of the unglamorous parts of moving abroad is the lack of familial (bio or chosen) support. While British, Mr’s parents have already passed away, and doesn’t have much other family himself. I’m so grateful to our neighbour for stepping in and being Rowan’s Italian Grandmother, and giving us a break now and again. 

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Offas Dyke is a 14 day hike that goes along the Welsh English border, and is determined to go up every high hill it sees along the way T.T 

I know that my favourite place in Wales is probably not that near you, but its a small beach called Fairbourne. Often not too populated, and is a really nice bit of ocean. 

 

And that does sound like a wonderful bit of support <3

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I’m feeling healthier today, and even managed to eat breakfast (rice) without repercussions. Yay!

 

I’m researching attractions in the Wye Valley/Forest of Dean, and getting quite excited. Holidaying now is a new challenge with the little one. Less about  endless walking, board gaming, and fine dining, and more about physical, child-friendly activities that all of us will enjoy. We still plan to hike, but hiking when you also have to carry a 12kg child for most of it limits distance and time (and as recently pointed out—there are a lot of hills). I’m not entirely sure that Mr has fully internalized this truth yet, so I’m looking for alternatives XD  

 

Reviewing packing lists, getting a hold of things we’re still missing. Tried on my hiking trousers, that I haven’t worn since very early pregnancy. Good news: they fit!

 

 

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6 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

Reviewing packing lists, getting a hold of things we’re still missing. Tried on my hiking trousers, that I haven’t worn since very early pregnancy. Good news: they fit!

 

WOOHOO! Yes! 

 

Hello, #adventurerlife! Ann is BACK.

 

And we're just not going to talk about how jealous I am of your upcoming visit to Hay-on-Wye. Really. We're not. <_<

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20 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

One of the unglamorous parts of moving abroad is the lack of familial (bio or chosen) support. While British, Mr’s parents have already passed away, and doesn’t have much other family himself. I’m so grateful to our neighbour for stepping in and being Rowan’s Italian Grandmother, and giving us a break now and again

 

This is so true for us too! Our folks are East Coast, and we're in Colorado. We don't have an amazing Italian neighbor, but we do have an amazing roommate. I haven't asked he to babysit yet though - she and LR are adorable together, but I'm super super sensitive to making sure it would never feel like an obligation (since we're also her landlord). Fortunately our neighborhood is full of babies this year, so I'm hoping as we hit the toddler years we can share the load a bit.

 

Great to see you back! Whenever I wonder if I'm too old (35) for dip dying my hair again, I will refer back to your pictures! :) (although I need to get through the hair-falling-out stage first. ugh.)

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2 minutes ago, DaemonCorax said:

 

This is so true for us too! Our folks are East Coast, and we're in Colorado. We don't have an amazing Italian neighbor, but we do have an amazing roommate. I haven't asked he to babysit yet though - she and LR are adorable together, but I'm super super sensitive to making sure it would never feel like an obligation (since we're also her landlord). Fortunately our neighborhood is full of babies this year, so I'm hoping as we hit the toddler years we can share the load a bit.

 

Yes, it’s definitely also an issue just in that people move around more than we used to in yonder olden days, but I mention it specifically for moving abroad because I think it’s one of those thing that people don’t really think about when we’re seeing others instagramming their carefree expat lives XD


Now that Rowan is older, we also have a childminder (local term for at-home daycare service) for 10 hours a week, which both lets him get some toddler social time away from mum (children behave differently when they’re not with their parents), and mum a bit of a break and time to do things that are difficult with a little one around. When my neighbour was away for 2 months, that was such a lifesaver O_O

 

There are other toddler mums in our neighbourhood, but I don’t quite fit in. Too nerdy and weird, I guess. (It’s very International here, so it’s not my American-ness.) I mean, dyeing my hair teal probably didn’t help, but I hadn’t any luck with them before that anyway.

 

2 minutes ago, DaemonCorax said:

 

Great to see you back! Whenever I wonder if I'm too old (35) for dip dying my hair again, I will refer back to your pictures! :) (although I need to get through the hair-falling-out stage first. ugh.)

 

I jokingly call it my midlife crisis, but I mean, honestly? I suspect most of the mums at the playground aren’t sporting their natural hair colours, either ;) 

 

The hair falling out stage is obnoxious, but it does end after a few months.

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35 minutes ago, Ann of Vries said:

Too nerdy and weird, I guess.

 

Lol. The county I live in is kinda funny. One of my best friends is a fellow scientist-mom who works full time, and she says she's always felt weird at school functions because a lot of the other moms either don't HAVE to work, or are doing a part-time gig from home, and always seem a lot more put together than her clothing/hair/etc-wise. I am beginning to see what she means - I definitely feel a little "odd man out" in mom groups (I still dress like a 12 year old boy, so that may be part of it).

 

The stay at home mom occurs in our area in two arenas - dad makes enough money that mom doesn't need to work, or mom makes so little money that her salary is less than childcare (this is true for many of my postdoc science friends as well, and it's rough if you want to continue a career in sciency things). For me, we COULD get by on either my salary or MFH's (it would be super tight on MFH's, and I could never deal with being the only person working while feeding the tiny one too), but both of us are engaged by our jobs and so we're just working slightly shorter and staggered hours to keep LR in daycare for shorter hours. The flip side of this is that neither of us feels pressure to work longer hours, so we get to spend time with LR - MFH gets a couple hours in the morning with him before work, and I get a couple hours in the afternoon by leaving work before 3. It's been really hard going back full-time, but I know in the long run I'll be glad I did. If I quit outright for a few years, I would never get a job in my field again. And when LR is in school I'll be glad to be working. That said, if it was all equal and I could waltz back into work and still get paid and taken seriously, I could totally see chasing LR around fulltime for the next 3 years.

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1 hour ago, oromendur said:

And we're just not going to talk about how jealous I am of your upcoming visit to Hay-on-Wye. Really. We're not. <_<

 

I talk big, but I’ll probably only buy a few books. I tend to get burned out by looking at lots of things (aka shopping) after a couple of hours.

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Jessie 

16 minutes ago, DaemonCorax said:

 

Lol. The county I live in is kinda funny. One of my best friends is a fellow scientist-mom who works full time, and she says she's always felt weird at school functions because a lot of the other moms either don't HAVE to work, or are doing a part-time gig from home, and always seem a lot more put together than her clothing/hair/etc-wise. I am beginning to see what she means - I definitely feel a little "odd man out" in mom groups (I still dress like a 12 year old boy, so that may be part of it).

 

We send our kids to a private school and some of the parents work and are in the same boat, others don’t or have the part time gigs. Jessie has mentioned this many times. I’ve almost always felt like the odd-man out in a given social group, so I guess it’s normal to me?

 

16 minutes ago, DaemonCorax said:

The stay at home mom occurs in our area in two arenas - dad makes enough money that mom doesn't need to work, or mom makes so little money that her salary is less than childcare (this is true for many of my postdoc science friends as well, and it's rough if you want to continue a career in sciency things). For me, we COULD get by on either my salary or MFH's (it would be super tight on MFH's, and I could never deal with being the only person working while feeding the tiny one too), but both of us are engaged by our jobs and so we're just working slightly shorter and staggered hours to keep LR in daycare for shorter hours. The flip side of this is that neither of us feels pressure to work longer hours, so we get to spend time with LR - MFH gets a couple hours in the morning with him before work, and I get a couple hours in the afternoon by leaving work before 3. It's been really hard going back full-time, but I know in the long run I'll be glad I did. If I quit outright for a few years, I would never get a job in my field again. And when LR is in school I'll be glad to be working. That said, if it was all equal and I could waltz back into work and still get paid and taken seriously, I could totally see chasing LR around fulltime for the next 3 years.

 

I’d be a SAHD in a heartbeat. The best part about where I work is the 4 months paid paternity leave. The boys were born prior to that but I spent the first 4 months of Bo Peep’s life hanging out at home with her. She’s almost 2 and we’re still noticeably closer because of it. I love kids, so I’d take care of them and do voice over on the side. But for money. 

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53 minutes ago, DaemonCorax said:

The stay at home mom occurs in our area in two arenas

 

Mr makes enough that I can stay home, and that was the plan from conception. I was at a crossroads when I got pregnant anyway, so I wasn’t giving up anything career-wise. I wanted to SAHM, so it works out for me. I personally haven’t regretted it, but I know mums who were itching to get back to work and that’s cool, too.

 

Everyone’s got to make the decisions that work best for their reality and desires. <3 

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