about me….

Thursday, January 4, 2018:  My life has taken a convoluted path in the last 11 years. I was surprised to find myself teaching English to university students near Tokyo, Japan for one semester in 2017.  I marveled at finding myself in the south of China, in Nanning, Guangxi Province, from September 2014-August 2015, also teaching English to university students.  I never expected to be living in the Sultanate of Oman, teaching English to Arabs (a nomad in the land of nizwa), which I did for two years, from September 2011-June 2013.  Nor did I expect to teach English to primary school students in South Korea,  which I did for a year from February 2010-2011 (catbird in korea).  In the book of my life, page 2006, I was living a hum-drum and predictable existence that often made me wonder: Is this all there is?  In that year, I was immersed in a Master’s degree program in International Commerce and Policy, married with 3 children, wondering if my life would ever change, and believing it never would.

But.  My life has changed.  I have changed.  I have learned to be more independent, more confident and more adventurous.  I have learned to be less needy and less afraid of being alone.  I have also learned some things about myself I would have preferred not to learn, but now that I’m aware of these character flaws, I guess I should do something to fix them.  Life is a path, and sometimes we energetically and enthusiastically venture down that path, and other times we sluggishly move along it with blinders on.  I was doing the latter in 2006.  By now, in 2018, after numerous whirlwind adventures of working and living abroad, I’ve grown a lot, and I’ve returned home to my husband and family where I’ve learned I can still fit adventures into my life.

A word grows to a thought, a thought to an idea, an idea to an act.  The change is slow, and the present is a sluggish traveler loafing in the path tomorrow wants to take.

~ Beryl Markham

It’s funny how life can lead you down twisting alleys and into open fields and to mountaintops and into wadis deep in the middle of terra-cotta colored canyons.  It can lead you to dead-end streets, up hundreds of steps to monasteries in the desert, and to dancing parties in city squares.  It can lead you to tangled and decaying ruins and marble palaces and manicured gardens.  It can lead you to magical moments in hot air balloons over landscapes that resemble the moon. It can lead you to chaotic streets crowded with motorbikes and rickshaws and elephants and cows.  It can lead you down dirty rivers at sunrise, in the midst of people bathing on ghats at the water’s edge.  It can lead you to encounters with people who open your eyes and hearts or who, alternately, test your patience.  Ultimately, it can lead you back to yourself.

me on the rooftop of the Acropolis View Hotel in Athens ~ September 2012
me on the rooftop of the Acropolis View Hotel in Athens ~ September 2012

Once you find even something of yourself, you can take that new self into further unknown territories, where you continue to discover, hopefully, how you fit into the great scheme of this thing called life.


I arrived home in northern Virginia, in the USA, on August 7, 2017.  Shortly after that, in late September, my husband and I took a trip to Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic.  To me, anywhere in Europe is the ultimate destination.   Despite all the traveling I’ve done in Asia and the Middle East, my European travels have been the ones I’ve enjoyed the most.  I love the European lifestyle, the cafe culture, the history, the general cleanliness and Western mentality.

me in Rethymno, Crete, Greece, September 2012
me in Rethymno, Crete, Greece, September 2012

My first trip was to England in 1998.  Though not exotic, per se, it was romantic and extraordinary.  I discovered the famous ordnance maps, which showed the English countryside in such great detail that we could fashion hikes through people’s yards and farms.  I love it in England that walkers have the right-of-way and that if property owners have fences around their properties, they must provide a passage through the fence where the trail crosses over.  We hiked through the countryside in the Cotswolds & the Lake District.  We explored history in Bath and London.  I was amazed at how different life could feel in a country that I thought would be similar to America.

I ventured to France in 2003 with my husband Mike and then back to France in 2006 with Mike and our two teenage sons.  On the first trip, I went to the south and Paris; on the second, we traveled north, and to Paris again.  I journeyed to Turkey (straddling Europe and Asia) in 2010, traveling alone for the first time in my life (catbird in turkey).  Finally, I went to Greece in 2012 (greek wanderings).  I also went to Spain and Portugal for a month in 2013.  But there is still so much in Europe I want to see. I want to learn the art of lingering.  I’m trying not to pack too much into my schedule because I want to soak in the experience.

Sometimes I wish I could be a European.  🙂

I think if I ever work abroad again, it must be in Europe. 🙂


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30 thoughts on “about me….

  1. Cathy, what a glorious life you are living. You’ve been treading the paths that many only dream – never daring to try. I applaud your intrepid spirit and wish you all the best in your new journey. ~Terri

    1. Thank you so much, Terri. I’m really excited for my upcoming trip and, at the end, going back home again. After 3 years living abroad, I’m ready to stay home for a good long while. 🙂

  2. Beautifully written “about”, Cathy. Nicely said “Ultimately, it can lead you back to yourself.”

    And I too love love LOVE the European life-style 🙂 .

    1. Thanks so much for stopping to read, Tahira. I’m really glad you liked it. I adore the European lifestyle. Too bad I can’t get a job in Europe; as an American I think it would be quite difficult. But maybe possible, if I can figure out a way. I’m really so done with the Gulf! 🙂

  3. hi, cathy!
    great life experiences youve had, judging by where youve been etc…and congrats to you….i doubt if i ‘d have the courage to see even half the places youve not only been to, but actually lived in! touche!
    by the way, i grew up and lived my student life in london, england…that was way back in the 70s….trust me, you do not wnat to be a european right now…i go back regularly as my parents are still there…but its a very different place now….i know if any englishman or woman is reading this, they will echo what im saying….you liked it because its new to you…spend a few yrs there and you’ll be wanting to come back to virginia asap…!
    excellent reading, whatever!

    1. Thanks for your comments, wildernesswalking123. And thanks for visiting my blog. I do love Europe and the whole European lifestyle. I think it’s difficult in all of the Western counties now; I expect it will be a challenge being back in Virginia as well. But I’ve been a Virginian my whole life and now I’m homesick and ready to go back. Spain is in financial crisis now, but it’s lovely nonetheless. I think a lot of people want to escape England for many reasons. The Mediterranean has such a different vibe though. 🙂

      1. yes, true indeed….the whole of europe is in a crisis now….their joining the european community has done nothing at all for england….all the borders are now open for unlimited migration…and people who have nothing to offer the country are now flocking in to take advantage of what is still, albeit very limited than it was before, the best healthcare system in the world…and its free!
        my father told me about the latest outrage they had in london a few weeks back…a british soldier was hacked to death, in the middle of a busy street in broad daylight, by a couple of islamists…and yet, so far, not many people have complained very much….this couldnt have happened in the england i knew way back in the 60s….unlimited immigration is partly at fault!
        anyway, back to your and virginia…from what i know, virginia is a wonderful place to live…kudos to you!

      2. I’m sorry to hear about that horrible hacking death at the hand of Islamists in London, jak. I know that the world is changing minute by minute, and not always for the better, sadly.

    1. We have something in common then, Ruth. I am always wishing I could be a European. I love the lifestyle and it’s like crossing a state border to get to an entirely different culture! 🙂

  4. wow! there are so many interesting people in the blogosphere! I just found your blog via restlessjo’s facebook page. I love her blog too and have been following it for a while now. I too love Europe and hope to retire to southern Spain in (hopefully) 7 years. and you’ve met Marianne too. She and I have a date when we got back to Spain in (hopefully) 3 years 😉 I’m going to have to check out your posts now. Nice to meet you!

    1. Hi Tobyo, I’m so glad you found me, and now I’m going to have to go check you out! There really are a lot of interesting people in the blogosphere, aren’t there? It’s funny how we all know each other through our blogs and may even become good friends one day! Are you European, or where are you from? I guess I will find out when I check out your blog. I’m off to visit! 🙂

      1. not European……yet!! by now you’ve seen that I hope to be European when we retire to southern Spain. I’m in Minnesota. I see you’re in northern VA. I also lived there for a little while (followed a guy, then went back to CA for the guy that I married….life is so interesting eh?) and my sister lives in Clifton so I’m familiar with the area. thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog! I will come back and read some more of yours in the coming days. such fun!

      2. Oh, I love Minnesota and all those northern areas. It seems people who live in those cold and dreary northern climes all want to migrate south at retirement, while those of us who have lived in hot places dream of the cold!

        It is definitely strange how life takes you in all different directions. I guess you were meant to go to CA, for the “guy you married.” Clifton is a nice area, not too far from where I live.

        I think I should “make a plan” myself to retire in Europe. 🙂

  5. Funny how many of us are attracted by the “other”, by what we are not. I am deeply European and have been living in the States for 18 years. Whilst still retaining a lot of my European-ess, and what I cherish about life there, after having lived in Great Britain and Italy, I am not sure I would move back. Right now, Europe is perfect to maybe retire or to live in with financial independence. Making a middle class life has become very hard. Love your musings.

    1. I know what you mean, camparigirl. It’s most attractive to me, and enticing, because I know I can’t have it. I love the European lifestyle and the ease of travel between cultures that we in the USA don’t have. But you’re right in that it’s a struggle financially right now. I think the same could be said in the US, but maybe not to the same degree. Yes, retiring there would be great, or if one had financial independence. Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂

  6. great to have found your new blog… what an adventurous life you have had and are having, what a journey, and isn’t it great to have blogs to write it all down, document it, re-read it, go back to your memories? in the old old days it would be a paper diary, which might then gather mothballs in the loft. Now is an online diary ready by hundreds if not thousands of people… hurray!

    1. Thanks for finding me on my Europe blog! It is so much fun to blog, isn’t it? At least we can preserve our travel memories and share them with other people. Sadly, I’ll be finished posting about my trip to Spain and Portugal soon, and I’ll be posting from America (which I already am doing when I have time!) I am so glad we can do this blogging nowadays, as all my other travel journals are WHO KNOWS where?? And my pictures are buried in boxes somewhere in my basement. 🙂

      1. On my first trip to Europe (many) years ago Greece was an unexpected favourite – the white buildings, the blue Aegean, secluded coves on the Peloponnese … perhaps not so secluded now …

      2. Well, Lynne, the only islands I visited were Santorini and Crete. Though I loved Santorini, it was quite touristy and crowded, whereas Crete had a whole different feel. I loved it there. 🙂

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