Sights and Sounds of Saint Petersburg in the Fall

Each month, I select three daily goals that I aim to hit each day (thanks to my favorite Nomatic planner).  Over the past 12 months, one of those daily goals has been “Russia” and all the related work involved. Between job searching, visa applications, and language acquisition, I’ve checked the “Russia” box consistently for a year.

We’re here now.  The visa work is done, I passed the migration test, and I know enough of the language to survive and buy coffee.

Entering this autumnal season forced me to reflect more on my daily goals for the month.  Bible reading and working out still made the list but I decided to swap out “Russia” with a more reflective ritual that I’d like to incorporate into my daily life in the long-term: Going on walks.  

This is a bit of a cop-out goal because we have no car here so I have to walk everywhere  but there are still days when I don’t have any real need to leave the apartment.   Luke and I love walking together, but I haven’t done a lot of solo adventures so I was excited about this opportunity to slow down every day, put my phone away, and simply exist for a bit while strolling around.  Here’s a little taste of Saint Petersburg in the fall.

My background beat is the steady beep of the pedestrian crossing lights, mixed with rustling wind in the rows of trees that line each street and the little ones screaming in delight when their babuska shakes a leaf off the tree for them.

I see schoolchildren on scooters in their uniforms and moms holding onto little hands while balancing bulging bags of groceries.  The golden orb of an Orthodox church breaks the backdrop of shades of white clouds.  


When the wind blows my scarf from my head to my shoulders, my velcro hair rushes to cover my ears from the crisp air.  Leaves fly across the path, much to the frustration of a worker raking, although you wouldn’t know it by her face.

I pass cafe after cafe and mentally gamble with myself about whether I’ll go in and try to order something complicated.  I usually chicken out and find a bench for reading since that doesn’t require me to speak Russian.

Now that temperatures are flirting with the freezing line, my walks have a different flavour and feel.  Tune in next time for “Saint Petersburg in the Not Quite Winter but It Sure Feels Like It”

The Uncertainty of Adventures

There is so much I’d like to say to myself.  Things that I’ve known forever, thought about forever, and written down a thousand times.  Repetition is my friend.

I have a tendancy to look at life like this:

Life is a constant exchange, a continous change of location and people but with one common theme of stress.  There will always be a crisis to fixed and struggles to overcome.  I will always be failing in some or every area of life and I will always be trying to pick myself up and come up with a new strategy on how to fail a little less next time.  This semester has been wonderful in many ways but rather stressful in almost every way.  The train of thought I was on would take me to the next stop of summer and see it as just a switch into more stressful circumstances.  Just different relationships to balance and new situations where I’d be over my head and incapable of doing what was expected of me.  All of a sudden, its next semester where I’m no longer a freshmen and I’m responsible for other people and need to grow up in 15 weeks and learn how to micro-manage my time and I wake up one morning to realize that I’m stuck in the adult world forever.

Today, I choose to look at life like this:

Life is a constant exchange, a continous change of footing and placement but I’m not being asked to jump to the top of the mountain.  I’m asked to get through this weekend of finals.  I’m asked to take a few more steps in becoming a better friend and student.  This summer will make me a little less woefully unprepared for the next semester and each day, week, and month will prepare me a little more for the next one.  All of a sudden, each little new stress is really a new opporutnity to grow and be a little more ready for the next challenge.

I could say that life is always full of stress and I just need to learn how to best deal with that reality and that would be true (and Fitwell would agree with me).

But I’d rather say that life is always full of opporutnities and adventures and new things and the small things I am doing now will mean that I will be able to better fully experience those opportunities in the future.
I could find something wrong with life if I wanted to, but I’d rather say that there is nothing wrong with being irrationally happy.