Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gratitude, in the Year's Best Photos

Though our Thanksgiving this year is vastly different than all Thanksgivings in the past (Tomorrow is just a normal day here in Prague--school, work, etc.), we're still remembering those things for which we are thankful.

I've been blogging a whole year already (this is the 56th week), and out of gratitude, I'm posting, here, my best photos from the past year ...

I'm thankful for:

... my husband, and the daily fun we squeeze out of life ...

... our three precious sons ...

... glimpses of God's art ...

... and power ...

... our new home, in Praha ...

... and the incredible place in which we now live ...

... for life's seasons ...

... the beauty of Summer ...

... the painterly beauty of a simple garden ...

... the great canvas of the Hand that paints the sky ...

... and the monochrome of nature's gifts ...

... for new places to discover ...

... and new spots to refresh ...

... the immensity of Freedom ...

... and finally, the tremendous gift of friendship.

I'm thankful for so many slices of life.
Thank you for sharing in my blog, and the View through My Lens.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!
From our home to yours,


Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Writing Time of Year

I had to suppress a laugh this morning, when one of my sons went to pour milk on his cereal, but poured water instead.

I couldn’t help laughing because I, too, often do absentminded things, especially during this time of year.

During this time of year, the scenery in and around Prague is glorious. The final leaves of autumn glow in ochre and lemon brilliance in fading sunlight, and flutter and twirl their way to the chilling ground. And as the seasons give way to the frosty entrance of winter, I prepare to hunker down in my writing chair, and set off to write my next novel. Then, when I’m submerged in writing a new story, I drift toward committing absentminded deeds. Thus, why I had to chuckle, and enjoy that my sons love to read and get lost in a good story, too.

I’ve had a few people write and ask if I am writing, amongst the changes and busyness of expat life. I am.

November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month in the States. The goal is to write a short novel, or 50,000 words in one month. If you do the math, yes, it’s a lot of writing. Somehow, though, November is a great month to start a novel.

I always find, as I begin to write on a new project, the hardest part is getting past the blank page. There is something paralyzing about the endless possibilities of a white piece of oblivion that causes the writer, the painter, the musician—creative people—to lock up. And though NaNoWriMo is the month to write a novel, perhaps the greatest accomplishment achieved in the entire month is getting past the blank page. Putting the words on paper. Overcoming the gripping paralysis that keeps a new story from coming to life. Whether it’s 50,000 words or 50 words, a true success might be birthing the courage to triumph over the Blank Page. For only once there, moving forward, can the true literary genius begin. Only there, moving onward past page one, can the beauty of a story take shape. And only there, putting our seat in the writing seat, can the habit of daily writing begin.

From here, in November, we have the rest of the glorious days of winter to draft, rewrite, and polish. November is a great beginning …

Happy writing, and finishing up with a successful NaNoWriMo!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Twenty Years Ago ...

It’s been an exciting time to be in Europe, this November 2009.

Velvet Revolution, Prague, 1989

Twenty years have now passed since the historic fall of the Berlin Wall. And on November 18, 1989, the Czech people staged the Sametova Revoluce—the Velvet Revolution, which fed off of the collapse of communism in Poland, Hungary, and East Germany. The term Velvet Revolution is freely used in Prague to describe the relatively peaceful transfer of power from the Communist Party to the civil rights movement in then Czechoslovakia. This month is indeed a historic and monumental month in the area of the world in which we now live, as expats in Prague, Czech Republic.


For the past several months, I’ve been taking Czech language lessons from a lovely Czech woman who lived during Communist times and actively participated in the Velvet Revolution protests. Last week, I told my instructor that we were getting a new puppy in our family, and of our excitement in getting our puppy. My instructor then reminisced of the Velvet Revolution days, of protesting, and of the presence of a puppy, similar to what I described our puppy as looking like. She said one of her friends, a protestor, brought his small puppy burrowed in his coat, to the protests on Wenceslas Square. And the trained police dogs went a bit crazy by the scent of a puppy in the crowd. My instructor then laughed, and said, “Puppies bring humor to a very serious situation. It made us all smile. Every time I see a puppy, even today, I think of the maly pejsek (small puppy) that broke the tension between opposing sides.”

The stories I hear, places I see, and monuments and photos as tribute to the struggle for freedom from Communism, are wholeheartedly humbling.

I’m so grateful for the brave souls who stood up for the cry of the human heart—the fight to be free.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pisa, the Italian Riviera, Switzerland, and Home to Prague: a photojournal

The opportunity to drive to Italy for a family vacation was truly a dream. Not only did we experience the grand mountains of the Alps, but also saw things we did not expect to see: countless castles, gravity-defying vineyard terraces and hillside towns, and sailboats dotting the azure Italian Riviera. It was surely a trip to remember for a lifetime.

Out of all the places to see in Italy, our boys were most excited about our first stop on our drive home to Prague from our beach villa in Maremma-- Pisa. The Leaning Tower of Pisa!

 View of the square in Pisa

A statue on the square in Pisa

the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa

Who knew that the mountains surrounded Pisa, as it sits also near the sea?
A view of the Italian Alps as they sweep into the Northwest coast of Italy by the Mediterranean Sea.

The view that took our breath away, driving on the Northwest coast, the Italian Riviera.

Looking out over olive groves, to the Sea dotted with sailboats beside Lavagna, and across to the snow-capped Alps beyond.

The amazing villages built onto the sides of mountains.

We turned north at Genova, Italy, and crossed into Switzerland near Lake Como. Below, the beautiful Lake Como.

In the lower part of Switzerland wedged beside Italy, castles appear on every mountain ledge.

The magnificent waterfalls and views while climbing through the Swiss highlands.


Before our trip, we had hardly heard of Liechtenstein ... we ate dinner in Liechtenstein, a country of 62 square miles and 35,000 residents. Beautiful!

 The royal family in Liechtenstein lives in a castle (not sure if it's this one, though).

We love, love, loved Italy, and cannot wait to go back. There are so many regions to explore, so many new foods and wines to taste, and so many beautiful sites and works of art to experience. I have a feeling this trip is only the first in a long love affair with Italy, one of the most beautiful countries imaginable.

Back to the rolling hills and mysterious mists of the Czech Republic ... the place we now all feel is home. A wonderful feeling for new expats, indeed!

Thanks for coming along for the ride ... -JK

Monday, November 2, 2009

Italy: Tuscany and Rome, a photojournal

Our October vacation in Tuscany, in the Maremma region in sight of the Argentario peninsula, was spectacularly refreshing. Not only was the beach completely deserted, but we were so far out of civilization we were without television or internet during our stay.

The silence felt deafening, at first. But soon, the hum of modern noise faded away, and all that remained was the gentle Tuscan landscape and the four other people I love most on this earth. We spent our timeless days gathering seashells, listening to the lulling song of the Mediterranean Sea, feeling the breeze whisper its way through the olive groves, smelling the light scent of sunbaked earth under the Tuscan sun, and experiencing the cleansing serenity.

The time was beyond all description ... and thus begun my love for Italy.

 On a couple days, we ventured to nearby hill towns...

Capalbio, an charming town built around a castle, set on top of a hill

The view through Capalbio's walls

An unsurpassed view of rural Tuscany, from Capalbio

From the terrazzo of a recommended Tuscan restaurant, set in the countryside beside a castle.

We rode to Rome on the local train (1 hour). The sights there in Rome were beyond our expectations.

My favorite Rome sight: the Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon, an incredible architectural feat for its time (31 BC). The dome, the oculus, and architecture as a whole--wow!

the Vatican

Trinita dei Monti, the Cathedral at the top of the Spanish Steps

a sculpture inside, by Michelangelo's pupil, Daniele da Volterra

the streets of Rome

And back to the sun-kissed Maremma

Thank you for sharing in our adventure to Italy. My final post of our Italian trip will be of our drive home to Prague, including Cinque Terre and Switzerland.