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A Bittersweet Ending

They say all good things must come to an end, and that is true of most things in life. This blog was home to a variety of women who, at one point or another, came together to share their views on life, love, and a myriad of other topics that struck their fancy.

Every woman who posted articles here–Dianne Venetta, Tracy Solheim, Shelia Seabrook, Andrea Wenger, Janna Donn, Kimberly S. Belle, Patricia Yager Delagrange, Sharla Lovelace, Kim Boykin, and yours truly–left a mark on the blog and in the hearts and minds of readers.

Dianne instructed on the finer points of gardening. Tracy catalogued her journey to publication. Sheila brought Canada’s frozen countryside to life. Andrea dove deep into complex issues. Janna shared her emotions with breathtaking honesty. Kimberly gave insight into the wonders of living abroad. Patty showed what it was like to live with a menagerie of animals. Sharla rolled out the welcome mat to the great state of Texas. And Kim brought her roses to life.

Although we part ways and forge new paths, the bond that was created here cannot be broken. It’s been a true blessing to work beside the ladies of Women Unplugged. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for each of you. I’ll be cheering from my little corner of the south.

As for me, I’m around in the usual haunts. Facebook, Twitter, my website, and my shiny new personal blog. I’d be honored if some of you who’ve spent time with WU these past few years visit me on any of the venues above. Until then…

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Are you there, Amsterdam? It’s me, Kimberly.

We’ve been Stateside for two weeks now. Our return is only temporary, a late spring break before another two months of school, a vacation in our own home. When we first returned, Atlanta felt…strange. Hot and big and just plain weird. What was that big yellow ball in the sky? Where was all the wind and rain? I kept listening for the clanging of the trams, but all I heard was the constant buzz of leaf blowers. Amsterdam felt a million miles away.

But all vacations must come to an end, and as much as we’ve enjoyed our time at home, there are a few things I can’t wait to get back to in the NL:

1. The weather. Listen, I’m as surprised as you are to see this one on the list, and at number one no less. I’ve talked long and wide on this blog about the crappy Dutch climate, and it’s not like I have anything to complain about these past two weeks in Atlanta, weather-wize. Low 80s and sunny is about as perfect as you can get. But if you’ve ever come to Atlanta in the spring, you know how bad the pollen is. When we got home, everything was covered in about two inches of yellow fluff, and my allergies (which normally get a slow build-up to the season) went on high alert. I’m looking forward to a little relief.

IMG_57262. My bike. I can’t wait to ditch my car and get back in the saddle. Yes, my bike is old and rickety and rusty in more than one spot, but I bought it that way on purpose. Depending on which statistics you believe, somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 bikes are stolen in Amsterdam per year. Who would want my old, piece-of-crap bike? Nobody but me, that’s who, and just in case, I secure it with a mack-daddy of a lock.

3. My yoga studio. I’ve found a good one, with yogis who are serious about their workout, with classes that leave me loose-limbed and sweaty, with American-style service in the form of mats and towels so I don’t have to lug everything myself. And the very best part? My long, looping commute through Amsterdam’s Vondelpark — by bike, of course.

4. The terraces. Spring has finally sprung in Holland, which means everybody wants to be outside. In the parks, on the sidewalks, in one of the million terraces. Amsterdam has a fabulous cafe-culture, and when the sun shines, the terraces are packed with people soaking up the sun. I plan to be one of them.

5. Amsterdam. I want to ride my bike under the Rijksmuseum and wander up and down the cobbled canals and buy more tulips than I can carry home at the Bloemenmarkt. I want to eat french fries with mayonnaise and drink fresh mint tea. I want to walk my dog and wave to my neighbors and the kids who play soccer in my street. Amsterdam has wormed its way into my soul until it’s a part of me, and I can’t wait to feel like an Amsterdammer again.

Going Dutch

IMG_5175How long does it take to feel Dutch? Six weeks, apparently. Because that’s how long we’ve been in Amsterdam, and it feels like we’ve never lived anywhere else.

We fill our house with flowers (oh, the tulips!). We ride bikes everywhere, and I mean everywhere. To school, to the grocery store, to the gym, to the store around the corner. We eat french fries dipped in mayonnaise and sprinkle chocolate on our bread. Calories, who cares? We work them off on the bike or by foot, because believe me, you do not want a car in Amsterdam. Where the heck would you park it?

None of this really came as a surprise. The husband’s Dutch, the kids are Dutch, we did all those things when we lived here before.

But I honestly don’t remember loving it this much. Mostly what I remember is not loving it. Holland is crowded and the weather’s the pits, and like I said, there’s nowhere to park your car. I know, I know, those are silly, frivolous reasons to not love a place, but when you live here, really live here, when this place is your forever-home, those things start to wear on you. And it’s not just the weather, it’s the weather combined with the overcrowding combined with the fact that though this place may be your home, it’s not your home country. After a while, even Amsterdam gets old.

But this time? Not so much. Maybe it’s because it’s temporary, or maybe I’m just older and wiser and not so concerned with the silly, frivolous things I used to be, but this time around, I’m loving every second.

The Power of ‘What if…”

Last week, my husband and I traveled across the country with a pull-behind U-Haul. At one point in our journey, he almost ran into the back of another vehicle (shocking considering he’d been reading emails on his blackberry) and we pulled over a short time later to check on the stuff we’d packed in the trailer.

I stayed in the car with our two dogs while he got out to inspect our cargo. He left the car running (it was nearly 100 degrees outside) and I filled his ten minute absence by reading. When he got back in the car, he told me that a police officer had approached him and advised him he wasn’t in the best neighborhood to have his back turned inside a U-Haul. The cop stayed right by our car until my husband was finished and we were on our way a few minutes later.

Needless to say, I was shocked. I’d imagined all sorts of disasters before we left for our adventure, but never once did I dream we might get robbed or killed at gunpoint in broad daylight along a busy stretch of highway for the crap we’d packed inside the U-haul. We discussed the incident for a few minutes and then my husband didn’t think another thing about it for the remainder of our trip.  But I’m not built that way, so our brush with fate spurred a series of “what if” questions so familiar to writers.

Here is just a sampling of the things that went through my mind: what if the hero of my imaginary story had been killed on a cross country trip while his wife sat innocently in the car? What if the hero had only been wounded and the wife kidnapped?  What if the dogs had been children and the heroine and the kids had been kidnapped?  What if the couple were on the verge of divorce? What if the hero were a cop? What if the hero and heroine weren’t married, but had only been dating a few weeks? What if they were brother and sister? What if their attacker wasn’t a bad guy at all, but someone looking for a quick escape from trouble? What if he were a cop? What if the U-haul had been filled with stolen goods or the secret cure to an epidemic or a dead body? What if…what if…what if…

“What if” has led to every novel I’ve ever written and the ideas for all the novels I have yet to write. Some days I envy people who don’t have a thousand “what if” questions running through their heads, but mostly I wonder what would fill my mind if all the “what if” questions went away.

What about you? If you’re a writer, are you plagued by “what if” questions throughout your day?  And if you’re not a writer and you do experience “what if” moments, have you ever thought of penning your thoughts? Let me know, if only to make me feel better about all the questions floating around my head 🙂

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