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5 Things That Changed My Way of Thinking From Traveling Across Europe

5 Things That Changed My Way of Thinking  From Traveling Across Europe

I had the amazing opportunity to travel through Europe this summer. It wasn’t the typical destinations either. It was in the Balkans where some countries are barely touched by tourism. I got a glimpse into how life should be embraced. People that dealt with the rise and fall of communism, then lived through a war and still live with landmines just off main roads. The atmosphere of the past only revealed itself from bombed buildings and abandoned homes with bullet holes. The people reflected something much more inspiring.

1. The Past Shouldn’t Dictate Your Right Now

In Bosnia, we drove for two hours and didn’t see a soul. The houses had seen bombs and bullets. They were being devoured by nature. However, when we arrived in a village, city or campsite, people were warm to me. They were full of life and laughter. Initially, they were always a bit reserved at first but became playful and open pretty quickly. They were very community oriented and laughed with each other. At night in the cities, they gathered in squares and socialized. Despite their tumultuous past of post-communism, war and now poverty, it was amazing to see that their spirit was so alive. Many of us are so much more fortunate. Live life with laughter and warmth.in your heart no matter what is happening.

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2. It’s Not What You Have But How You Feel

In some of the poorest countries in Europe, it seems even more important to have a Mercedes. I’ve never seen so many of them in my life while going through Albania, Bulgaria and Romania. Some people have to live in their car because they can’t afford anything else. The smiles I got usually came from the guy driving an old Trabant or a horse and buggy. Every culture is guilty of wanting things. It’s letting them define you where the problem lies. I witnessed the incredible power of being content with what you have. I saw unwavering happiness for life in those kind of people. Being grateful for whatever you have takes away the feeling of not having enough. You likely have much more than many.

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3. Being Self Sustainable

In the high hills and deep valleys of Montenegro, people still live off what they can grow or farm. While it may be hard work, the families were connected and the food, unbelievable. Fresh goat cheese, vegetables and farm fresh eggs. These hearty people of the villages knew how to treat ailments with natural plants in the area and didn’t rely on society. They were happy, healthy people. While it’s not possible for all of us to own goats and have a garden, supporting local farmers by purchasing their produce is a good option. You support sustainable practise while enjoying farm fresh goods.

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4. Keeping A Sense of Community

The Balkans showed me a side of humanity that melted my heart. The togetherness of families and friends lit up all surroundings. Their uninhibited laughter and how they adored one another was deeply touching. They welcomed me into their lives as though I was family. Having a community of people around you gives a sense of security and belonging in the world. Make the effort to stay close to your loved ones. Help each other and have get-togethers. This is truly a secret.to fulfillment.

5. Honouring Your Roots

Horse drawn buggies and shepherds tending their sheep is still a way of life in the Balkans. They were proud people that were excited.to tell you about the best parts of their country. They value their past and keep on with family tradition. Knowing your roots allows you to have an identity of yourself. This allows for greater conviction in your life. Decisions are easier and you’re secure. You also have a rich family history. Be proud of where you came from and carry on a small tradition. Something as small as using your grandma’s pie recipe can make you feel like you’re a larger part of something.

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Loraine Couturier

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Last Updated on August 20, 2018

35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

Every mature relationship has had a less-than-memorable anniversary. Maybe one of you forgot, or both of you got busy with work, kids, family issues, or something else. Whatever happened, the day came and went without fanfare. And neither of you seemed to notice or much care.

But for the health of any relationship, it’s important to make important days feel special. Anniversaries offer the wonderful opportunity to relive beautiful memories, practice gratefulness for your partner, and to show your love and strengthen your bond. Make this year’s anniversary with your significant other something special  — one that will bring you closer together.

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The best way to create a memorable anniversary is to do something new and different together as a couple. Stretch yourselves a bit.

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While boredom can silently kill a relationship, new experiences reinforce the shared bond you already have and create strong new memories. Just think back to the most significant memories you have right now with your spouse and imagine what new ones you can create!

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While you enjoy your chosen anniversary activity, be sure to keep a positive attitude and make your partner happy too on that day. Leave all arguments and day to day detail behind. Just celebrate your relationship. Whether you’re going to spend the day together at home, getting away, or having a wild and crazy new experience together, you can have your best anniversary yet!

If You’re Staying In

  1. Spend an evening with no technology, just the two of you and maybe a board game. It’s hard to keep ourselves away from our computers and smartphones long enough to have a meaningful conversation. Make a rule not to use your tech and you’ll rekindle your relationship!
  2. Make wine or beer together. If you enjoy drinking together, this is a fun activity to try together. Just remember to buy the necessary equipment ahead of time.
  3. Learn something new about each other. With an open mind, try asking some of the New York Times’ 36 questions that lead to love. They’ll help spark intimacy and will lead to some really honest moments.
  4. Have a lazy day. Breakfasts in bed, spend all day in bed talking and napping. Follow breakfast with champagne and dessert! If you feel like getting more active, cook together or play some games. Here’re some simple breakfast ideas for you.
    • Learn to dance at home. This is best for those active couples who work out together and also enjoy learning something new together. Just go on Youtube to find any music with dance tutorials and learn together.
    • Visit model homes or open houses and plan your dream home.
    • Have a special dessert – champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Having an unusual treat makes a day feel extra special. If you want to make the dessert really special, try these tasty dessert recipes.
    • Create a playlist of your favorite songs as a couple. Choose songs that tell your story, and songs that you bonded over throughout your relationships. Here’re some love songs ideas for your inspirations.
      • Write your love story. Write it together or ave each of you write your own and then bring them together in an interesting, both sides of the story format.
      • Get a fondue pot. Fondue is a fun way to enjoy melted cheeses (for savory items) and melted chocolate (for sweeter treats).
      • Decorate! Turn your home into a dressed-up french cottage, a sophisticated restaurant, or simply with flowers. The different ambience will immediately change the feel of your home and make it feel like a staycation.
        • Talk about the future together. It might sound simple and everyday, but imagining how you want to spend your retirement together, or planning future trips can be exciting and romantic.

        If You Want to Get Away

        1. Take a day trip together to your favorite spot. If you live in a city, it can be incredibly refreshing to get away for an afternoon and drink in the outdoors.
        2. Go on a scenic drive and stop at a wine and cheese bar. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have lots of options where you live, try a brewpub. There are tons of small craft breweries with fantastic food options too.
        3. Go camping. Relatively affordable and, if the weather’s right, beautiful and romantic.
          • Take an overnight backpacking trip. For the more adventurous couples, backpacking is an even more intense way to challenge yourself physically while becoming one with nature.
          • Take a wine tasting tour. If you live on the West Coast or in the Northeast, take a drive to the nearest winery. Many offer relatively inexpensive tastings and deals if you purchase a certain amount.
          • Take a scenic train trip. Taking the train means less stress traveling: nobody has to drive, you don’t have to stop for breaks every few hours, and you can sleep if you need to!
          • Save up for a destination vacation. What better time than your anniversary to enjoy the beach at a beautiful resort?
          • Explore a new city. Whether you’re on a budget or have a lot saved up, you can have a great time just exploring an unfamiliar town.
          • Rent a cabin for a weekend away, in the woods or next to a lake or ocean. If you like the outdoors but can only take so much nature, try glamping.
            • Go on a retreat. Yoga retreats, meditation retreats, beautiful natural surroundings … they’re all the rage. Search for centeredness and calm with your partner.
            • Spend a day at a food festival. Many cities have fun and affordable food festivals, occasionally based on a theme. Check out your town’s (or a nearby city) calendar for inspiration!

            New & Exciting Experiences

            1. Go spelunking. Dark, damp, and utterly exciting!
            2. Go on a hot air balloon ride. Because the basket is relatively small, this can be a romantic and deeply personal – and yet thrilling –
              experience.
              • Try sky diving. If you and you S.O. are real thrill-seekers, sky diving can really push you to the edge!
              • Explore the underwater world by snorkeling or scuba diving. This may take you far away from where you normally live and work, which is an added bonus.
              • Experience white water rafting.
              • Drive or hike to the highest spot nearby for a new view of the world. America has tons of beautiful mountains where challenging hikes (or drives) can deliver breathtaking views.
              • Take a craft or cooking class. Up your craft skills or food  making skills, and enjoy something new!
                • Take a wine and painting class today. These classes are easily found these days and even a beginning painter can create a nice painting. Challenging but relaxing, fun, and you get to go home with some artwork!
                • Learn to salsa dance. Dancing is a fantastic way to actively get closer and coordinate physically with one another.
                  • Visit a nearby festival you’ve always wanted to go to. Have fun and let go with fellow audience-members!
                  • Spend the day at an amusement park together. Laugh and carry on like teenagers.
                  • Meet new people! At a restaurant, concert, or class, make it a point to meet new friends. Striking up conversation with someone you don’t know – but with whom you have shared interests – can be an adventurous and rewarding experience.

                  Whether your budget is big or small, and whether you have a little or a ton of time together, focus on each other. There are tons of options, in terms of location, level of physical activity, and cost. You can make the day special in a way that’s right for you!

                  Featured photo credit: Photo by Taylor L. Spurgeon on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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