I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror this morning and it caught me by surprise.  I hadn’t seen my face in a while.  Since I don’t wear makeup and my hair doesn’t listen to me anyways, my morning routine doesn’t have me looking in the mirror very often.

My strategy for staying body-positive in our social media world has been to ignore how I look.I work out because I want to be strong and my capsule closet is an insurance plan to cover clashing so there’s no reason for me to spend much time examining my features.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • Looking at my face isn’t as scary as I thought
  • My eyes really are more green than brown
  • My hair really is out of control

I’ve found myself with more time for reflection (both literal and figurative) during this time in Russia.  I don’t plan on becoming a millennial selfie queen but I am very grateful to be forced to take life a little more slowly.

In high school, I studied and volunteered and worked to fill out my college applications.

In college, I studied and volunteered and worked to fill out my resume.

In California, I studied and worked to fulfill my duties as an employee and make a living.

Here, I’m finally free to take a deep look in the mirror and learn more about what I actually enjoy doing.  There are no more applications to live for, no more resumes that cry out to be updated.

For the last 10 years I’ve been running away from not being enough, not doing enough to get where I thought I needed to go.  And now I’m finally able to look forward and whisper “Onward and upward!” and mean it.  I walk slowly and cautiously as I explore what the future could look like.

Not A Travel Blog

When asked what I write about on my blog, I always respond with a tentative “lifestyle things?” although I don’t really know what that means.  I started writing here 8 years ago and since I’m free from all pressures of monetizing the site, I’ve never defined my genre. Content marketing has a powerful gravitational pull and I’d like to keep this corner of the Internet free of all gimmicks, content gating, and gotchas.

What I do know is that this is not a travel blog.  My husband and I currently call Saint Petersburg home and we hope to travel more than we normally would over the next few years, but this will still be my place to share my musings on the world around me, which just happens to be in Russia right now.

Moving to Saint Petersburg has felt like becoming a child again.  I’m slowly sounding out words on buildings as we walk by them, am fascinated by the bright colors of the buildings and parks, and it takes so much longer to do simple tasks than it feels like it ought to.  Just charging my phone is a 3 apparatus ordeal.  And there is the child-like wonder to it as well.  New sights and sounds amaze me and each day is a new adventure as we explore the town, transportation system, and shops.

Daily life here so far is very similar to life in the States on a large scale, and very different in many minuscule ways throughout the day.  The downsized toilet paper and circle electrical plugs, for example. Differences that are neither bad nor good, just different.  These small changes were threatening to throw me off-kilter (is this what they call culture shock?) until I read this passage from C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet:

It was only days later that Ransom discovered how to deal with these sudden losses of confidence.  They arose when the rationality of the hross [a being from a different planet] tempted you to think of it as a man.  Then it became abominable–a man seven feet high, with a snaky body, covered, face and all, with thick black animal hair, and whiskered like a cat.  But starting from the other end you had an animal with everything an animal ought to have–glossy coat, liquid eye, sweet breath and whitest teeth–and added to all these, as though Paradise had never been lost and earliest dreams were true, the charm of speech and reason.  Nothing could be more disgusting than the one impression; nothing more delightful than the other.  It all depended on the point of view.

By no means am I suggesting that Russians are extraterrestrials, rather, I’m realizing more and more how similar we all are.  But moving to a foreign country can feel like an other-worldy experience and I’ll drive myself crazy if I’m finding the small differences “disgusting” instead of appreciating things for how they actually are and finding the similarities delightful.  As Lewis put it best: It all depends on the point of view.

I’m a big believer in dreaming and doing but reality is a  strong force to be reckoned with. Our expectations about what reality should look like often cause us to be disappointed when life doesn’t deliver.   I’d rather rejoice in the ways it gives me joy instead of constantly comparing reality to what I think it ought to look like and ending up feeling like everything is just a little bit (or a lot a bit) off.

Welcome On Board

I’ve been sharing my thoughts, fears, and musings on this web log (blog for short) for over 6 years.  If you’ve been following along, you’ve patiently bared with my 16 year-old angsty self, saw me navigate the perils of my freshman year of college, fall in love with my husband, move to San Diego, and read all the laughs & losses along the way.

I started this blogging journey on Blogspot, moved it to Wix over a year ago, and finally took the leap and bought my own domain name.  After months of painstaking copy & pasting, I have my whole history of blogging under one happy blog roof called chloejsayers.com.

I’ve been slow to announce this change because if you followed my blog while I was moving posts over, you’d be getting 5 annoying e-mails a day.  Now that everything is in its place and the dust has settled, I’d be honored if you’d follow my blog (see the button on your right).  You’ll get an e-mail when I post a new blog, nothing more and nothing less. I’m fanatical about keeping my inbox clean so I promise not to clog up yours.

Since I’ve been on a blogging fast while getting this one set up, I’ve got lots of thoughts bursting to get out.  Stay tuned & thanks for joining me on this journey.

Until next time,


I Didn’t Know

I have officially written as many drafts here as I have actual blog posts.  The fact that this blog has has over 10,000 views also seems remarkable.  Yet what really caught me off guard when looking back through this blog’s history, was that I started scribbling thoughts here 5 years ago.

I don’t feel like I am old enough to have been doing something for 5 years.  I’m sure some hobbies can claim that longevity, but in my mind, I started blogging when I thought I had something worthwhile to say which is  when I thought I had achieved some standard level of maturity and adulthood.

5 years ago, I was a freshman in high school.  I knew nothing.  But I also knew that I knew nothing, which helped a lot.  I knew that I was the product of society and my school system and The Town and my family.  I didn’t do much about it, yet I knew it.

But there were a lot of things I had no idea about.

I didn’t know that I wasn’t going to be an engineer.  I didn’t know that I was much weaker in some ways than I thought.  I didn’t know how many people that I would see die.  I didn’t know how much brokenness there was in this world and how little I could do about it.

But I also didn’t know how much of a help I could be if I looked beyond myself.  I didn’t know about the sleepless nights and tired days.  I didn’t know how writing would simultaneously save me and destroy me.  I didn’t know that God was truly my only Savior.  I didn’t know that I would go to a Christian college, or even that I would still be a Christian at this point. I didn’t know about the incredible friends and memories I would find here.  I couldn’t have anticipated the amount of mental strain I would have to learn to overcome. I didn’t know that I would see lives fall apart and God piece me together.

While I’ve never put much stock in who I am, I have an inexhaustible source of confidence of what can I can do.  Even so, alone, I am nothing.  With God, I am still nothing but I am with God.  Being able to say that is more astounding than 5, 10, or 15 years of life-changing experiences.

The One Thing Unfathomable

Music is moving.  It can move souls. It can transform lives. It can save lives. It can bring a nation to tears.  It can bring a stadium to its feet. It can define a generation.  It can define a human being.  The one thing that this all-powerful music can’t move? Me.

I’ve tried so hard to get into music.  I see how many people enjoy it and I see what a strong influence it can have.  But try as I might, music really doesn’t move me.  You might say this is because I don’t understand music.  You would be right.  My brain loves making supply and demand graphs and writing essays, but it can’t wrap itself around music.  This is how it usually goes down:

Me: “Listen to it. Feel it. How does the music make me feel right now?”
Brain: “Hungry. Oh wait, that’s just because you were too lazy to eat breakfast.”
Me: “No! Try again! What different instruments do you hear? How do they blend together?”
Brain: “Its all one thing! Music: •an artistic form of auditory communication incorporating instrumental or vocal tones in a structured and continuous manner”
Me: “I didn’t ask for a definition.  Let the music move you.  Connect with the music!”

At this point, my annoyingly sarcastic brain starts ignoring me and begins hatching some new plan on how to make an underwater trans-Atlantic highway leaving me quite alone to just stand there, straining to hear something that my brain refuses to listen to.  It’s frustrating to say the least.

The best I can do is concentrate on the lyrics.  See, what melodies and notes and the essence of all that is music is to you, is what words are to me.  The way they blend together, play off of each other, create meanings and skew meanings, that is beautiful to me.  I’m not just talking about poetry (which happens to be my least favorite genre).  Writing can say so much or so little.  It just is.  So, the music that I truly enjoy is the music that has  lyrics that I find the most significant.  I realize that good lyrics doesn’t mean good music but focusing on the words is the only way music and I can maintain a semi-amicable relationship.

It doesn’t help that my entire family was sprinkled with magical music dust at birth.  My dad has his degree in audio engineering, my mom can play various instruments, and my sister dances as her career.  The extended family is equally gifted (masters in music, organ players, violin players, soon-to-be in an orchestra trombone players).  Everyone……except for me.

If you are like my family and have a super deep connection with music, good for you.  Please don’t hate me or this blog.  Instead, go and listen or play some incredible music and enjoy it to its full capacity for me.  I’ll be sitting here with my words, typing……….and typing………..still typing…..