Small Planet Studio‘s #GlobalYou365 Challenge was created as a “reflective challenge for global adventurers in re-entry” to aid travelers navigating the often choppy waters of returning home from abroad. This Challenge consists of a question a day and is a tool that can be used to help you create a lifestyle that accommodates both your abroad self and home self. Usually it is used for those coming home, but I sought to use the Challenge in reverse, as a great opportunity to reconnect with my traveling self to create a more global lifestyle today. You too can take the challenge by clicking here.

I started the year off strong, as most do with good intentions, but once February rolled around, I started to fall way behind. But creating a more global lifestyle is important to me, particularly as I have been in a traveling drought for a while now. I know I won’t always be able to take trips when and where I want and for how long, so keeping a connection to the me I become while traveling is proving to be crucial to my overall happiness and life satisfaction. So check out my first month of questions and answers below as I figure out what #MyGlobalLife looks like.

Here are January’s questions and answers. Check back often as I work my way through them. As you read through the questions, comment below if one of them sparks a connection for you.


1. Favorite memories from December

Going to see GMC, an orchestral group made up of local musicians and conducted by a friend, put on “A John Williams Holiday” concert, which was a mix of John Williams’ film scores and holiday favorites. I felt completely absorbed and in the moment. I was present and my mind wasn’t whirling with a million different things. It was also a favorite because I enjoyed something new that I had not done or attended before.

Playing “Bear Bear” with my niece on Christmas Eve. “Bear Bear” is a game P made up where I was the momma bear and she was the baby bear. We crawled around on our hands and knees, made a den under the table, etc. I felt we were engaged with each other and not watching TV. I think I may have scored some Auntie points too.

On the deck at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve on an unusually warm day. What started off as a normal family champagne toast, turned into my mom taking her first selfie and struggling to fit herself in the photo with the rest of us, a dance party and my sister and I putting on a show of her singing skills and my dancing skills.

2. Favorite travel items

First and foremost, I love postcards. It started as a memento thing and then also a cheap and easy to travel with way to have pieces of art. I just like to look at them. They are the memory conjurers. I have probably collected more than 200 from my travels. I have recently purchased some to send to friends on a semi-regular basis to spread the love for postcards. I like them for their brevity/I’m thinking of you style.

I also love luggage.  I love the romance of an open-top wide-mouthed leather weekend bag. I don’t own one but it is on my splurge list. Images of great train rides on the Orient Express come to mind. Or walking down the platform of a railway station as the engine releases steam and it fogs up like a day in London.  This love also comes more from my great enjoyment in organizing and putting things into things to clear clutter than from luggage I have actually used.

3. What I miss about home when abroad

Having known go-to comfort places, rooms, TV shows, etc. I really think that might be it.

4. What makes me smile

A smart, well-timed joke

British comedies

Our cat looking cute

Cuddling with my partner

The view from the beach at Speculator

A champagne toast

Thoughts of London

Plane rides

Crisp weather with the sun shining

Mountain views

Seeing my niece

Seeing/reading/hearing something that reminds me of something from abroad

A favorite jam coming on the radio

5. Top Travel moments

Siena, Italy

Torville aka Village of Dibley

First day in London for grad school



to be continued…

6. Favorite travel snacks

My dad always bought fig newtons for car rides to visit family in Ohio; I love a big bag of homemade trail mix with m&ms, raisins, and peanuts, which later I replaced with mixed nuts. Favorite snacks found while traveling include Nutella on hard rolls (Munich, Germany); pita kaas met salad en frits (Utrecht, Netherlands), Crystal Restaurant (Holloway, London) doner kebab, Kit Kat Big Bar (Holloway, London).

7. My strengths

My parents basically intimated recently that I am my best, my strongest, my self when I’m traveling. I would probably agree with them, and this is why I am seeking to work on this global life. Yes, I have always suffered from lower self-esteem and confidence, and have sought self-actualization as a constant. My best glimpses have taken place while abroad. So my strengths list is based upon what I’ve felt most fully and constantly while traveling: I’m confident, I handle challenges better, I’m adventurous, I handle some/most changes better, I probably smile more, I feel like I’m doing something meaningful, I’m observing and learning and adapting.

8. My goals for 2016

Read 10 non-fiction books with no more than half being “self-help.” I’ve read two so far: Roadtrip Nation’s Roadmap and “The Longest Way Home” by Andrew McCarthy. I’m about to finish “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Have a draft of my children’s book for my niece by the end of July

Read my mom’s high school copy of “Pride and Prejudice”

Save $10,000 by the end of the year for an emergency fund

To day dream more about my travel shop and brainstorm skills I need to acquire and how to get those skills

Work on letting go and going with the ebbs and flows of life

Reading a draft of my friend Kelly’s book

9. Things I want to try

Dance classes – all sorts. So far this year a friend and I have taken 12 weeks of country line dancing, including some partner dances. I’m more of a hip-hop and pop person so each week this class felt like I was actually learning something, which until you feel that, you don’t realize how much you miss it and how rare it seems to happen as you get older. I definitely want it to happen more often.

Cooking classes in the country/region of the cuisine


to be continued…

10. Favorite time wasters

Pinterest – #1


90s and 00s teeny bopper movies

Looking up haircuts

11. How I feel when I’m abroad

Alive, succeeding, worthwhile, happy, going with the flow, in control but know I’m not (as opposed to normal when I think I can somehow control everything), scared but know is only temporary, challenged, me.

12. People I’d love to invite to dinner

I’d have a mini Utrecht reunion with the girls; an Ireland reunion; my sister and her husband;  my London flatmates; Professor Hilmes and Dave Black. If you’re wondering why this list, apart from my sister and husband is a lot of reunions, it’s just due to a natural lack of curiosity on my part and so thinking about who I’d like to meet by inviting them hasn’t really crossed my mind, but I will now think on it.

13. Where I’ve lived

Upstate NY

Madison, WI

Dublin, IE

Utrecht, NL

Washington D.C.

London, GB

14. Ways I’m confident

I have a great sense of direction and also remembering how to get somewhere once been to.


Kimchi fried rice

Eye for layout

15. What I love about my work

The people, the meetings the committee I sit on have, slow pace to really examine the work; boss who appreciates the work I do and tells me so

16. Best photos I’ve taken

My friend Miguel taught me how to take a selfie. Not what a selfie is today but back when phones didn’t have cameras so you used an actual camera. Their purpose was to capture moments of yourself at a location while traveling alone. I thought he was a genius. So some of my favorites are selfies, mostly for documenting my courage in traveling alone to places I wanted to go, even if no one else was able to join me.

A lot of the postcards on this site are favorites.

17. Projects I’ve started but not finished

My children’s book story

This blog when I hadn’t posted in three years

This challenge…

There are plenty more but those are the only ones coming to mind right now.

18. What I’m good at

Baking, well attempting to up my baking game and trying new recipes. Still struggle with chocolate chip cookies though.

Figuring out Excel formulas that I need; they don’t get too complex for what can be done with them but I do feel proud when I can make sense of a sequence.

Bringing people together, party-wise

Making fun, simple posters from just Publisher, clip art and the Snipping Tool

Trip planning, specifically the logistics, calendar-making, and highlights to hit in a given timeframe

Pop culture – up until ~2010

Moving my feet and body and arms to music, aka dancing aka I’ve got rhythm

Remembering jingles from commercials from my childhood, which is why I’m such an advocate for businesses to have jingles

19. What I’m looking forward to in 2016

All the books I want to read, non-fiction and fiction

Figuring out what trips we’re taking and what solo trips I’m taking, one of which I think will be a week-long road trip to Wisconsin

Reaching my financial goals


20. What I’d like to be better at

Talking and sharing instead of shrinking in a group of new people

21. What I do when I have free time



Go for a long drive on roads I’ve been curious about where they lead


22. What I thought about as I got ready today (January 21)

My dad

My bangs

Staying home


Dance class

Lack of shoes for dance class

Getting shoes for dance class

23. What I love to do on a sunny day

Go to Speculator, sit on the beach, drink champagne and eat a little charcuterie (spelled that right on the first go!) and chocolate

24. Habits I’ve picked up abroad

Using/Preferring a duvet

Having a taste for beer (was previously a shot/liquor girl – c’mon, I was a sophomore in college)

25. My morning routine

Hit the snooze at least twice, but out of bed by 6:35am, take shower, depending upon the time, play Words with Friends, check weather and read horoscope, then get dressed, then do makeup and hair and finally out the door.

26. Times I’ve surprised myself

My solo trip to Florence, Siena, Loch Ness, and Edinburgh

Every time a new cake recipe turns out well

Becoming a DJ at WSUM, the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s student radio station

Not being scared in speech class

I think I need to surprise myself more often

27. What I wish for the world

To heal, to renew, to compromise, to understand

28. My favorite recipes

My mom’s goulash

My great grandmother’s bread

My dad’s apple crisp

My partner’s pierogies

29. People I’d like to thank and why

My mom for showing me that you don’t have to be a stereotypical entrepreneur to have your own business; for showing me that if you are passionate about something, you can make it happen; and for the showing me that strength is sometime quiet.

30. Favorite breakfasts

Pretty much any hash my partner creates, Pancakes, Pain au chocolat, Sausage and Bacon.

31. What makes me feel loved

If we’re talking 5 Love Languages, I’m an acts of service and quality time gal. I enjoy making those I love feel special by making them cards, baked goods, etc or by putting together something personal to cheer them up or to mark special occasions and usually by surprise. I like to have the same done in return – someone using their special talents to create or do something especially for me for a special occasion or no reason at all.