Commutes, Kaffe and Swedish rap

IMG_8273.PNGWell…it happened. A few mornings ago I caught the wrong train, distracted by an academic article (thrilling, I know.) I ended up heading back in the direction of home. Crap.

By the time I realized my mistake we had traveled back several stops, lengthening my typical 1:30 hour commute to 2 hours. There was no better way to diminish my cocky confidence in navigating the train-train-bus process like a Swede.

Thankfully, I was only 4 minutes late to the first patient appointment. I’ve never been more grateful for the laid-back Swedish attitude and the even more laid-back and gracious personality of my instructor who greeted me with a cup of coffee.

I cannot believe there is only one week left till I transition to my next rotation (I hear I will be in nursing home but no information yet)Β I have had the best possible first abroad rotation. The private practice is situated inside a gym and Tennis training center where EVERYONE has made me feel welcomed and accepted. I will say this many times, but I believe I have met EVERY exception to the “polite-yet-reserved” Swedish stereotype.

I will miss this place.

I will miss these people.

On the potential bright side, I don’t think Stockholm is big enough to have a longer commute. Hopefully, my next one will be a bit shorter. That is all.

–Written on my commute while listening to the Swedish rap Spotify playlist a patient graciously made my CI and I πŸ‘Œ

Can.Do.

I can. I am. I do.
The past year I have tried to live consciously concerning myself with how I finish these sentences. Far to often I’ve allowed word combinations like “should have,” “could have,” “wouldn’t,” and ” what if?” dictate my thought patterns and actions. While reflecting on the past and anticipating the future have valid purposes, I have come to believe concentrating on how I am living in the present moment is of greater importance.
Life is an opportunity. It is a gift. HOW am I living? WHAT am I doing? WHAT can I do? Answering these questions changed my priorities.

I want to live with purpose. I want to act with intention. I want to see the unseen. I want to love the unloved. I want to serve others.

Currently, 598million individuals do not have access to clean water. Each day they walk for miles to bring home water for hydration, sanitation, hygiene. For those that search in vain–disease and death tolls constantly grow. For those that successfully meet their daily need, tomorrow brings the same challenge, and the next day and the next. Little time is left for education, household and community advancement, future opportunities.

I can’t end the clean water crisis. Not on my own.
But I CAN DO something.
I CAN run a marathon.
I CAN tell you about the clean water crisis
I CAN uncomfortably ask you to help.

$50 provides clean water for life.

I believe clean water is not a privilege, but a human right.
I believe clean water saves lives. Will you consider providing access for another?
Link-http://www.teamworldvision.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=66531
Maybe you are working to make the world a better place in some other way–I support you. I want to hear about it! There is nothing more encouraging for me than hearing about HOW others are changing lives and communities. Never limit the extent of your reach because others are reaching too and suddenly the impact changes the world.

The roomie.

Wietske. (Pronounced kinda like “Veet-skah”)

The roomie.
I’m a big fan of this girl already and my fondness continually grows even though we don’t see each other all the time. When I do see her, I try my best to remember to compliment her smarts and humor for they are quite worthy of praise. Case in point- 5 seconds after we met she showed me a photo book her friends had made of goofy pictures of herself. I can’t think of a better introduction.

Her chill balances my excitement. Her logic and reasoning balances my irrational and sporadic. Her love for kaffe and tea surpasses my own. She is the ultimate cool and puts up with me and my love for vacuuming (no easy task) She also has scissors when I need to cut things out of my hair (and give myself an accidental haircut)

Wietske may not be down for a swimsuit snowball fight (Yes, this happened. Yes Mom, it was my idea) but she is down to play “sardines” in the scary basement with old hospital beds, a morgue and a bike hooked up to a sewing machine. πŸ‘

She is always up to visit a museum, always up for a movie and always up to welcome a new friend. There are few kinder people than she. Her presence helps create the essence of the 3B corridor: friendly, welcoming, always-playing-music-in-the-only-clean kitchen.

Her dance moves are superb. Her cooking skills are on par. Finally, she gives me a more hopeful perspective every time I start fretting for my country’s future. Did I mention she plays the bass and cello?

 

Gio

As my family and friends back in America have already realized, I am having a hard time staying on top of communication. For those that are interested in hearing about my life here in Sweden, I figured a blog post would be the easiest way for me to communicate.

Friends. I like to think all experiences in life are made exponentially better or worse by the human interactions we have. Thankfully, throughout all of my travels I have made at least one incredible friend and met loads of incredible people in each place.

I’d like to tell you about them!

First–Gio.
Gio is a tiger. She is fiercely independent, driven, loyal, compassionate, open-minded, spirited and magnificent. She is strong, intelligent and beautiful from the inside out. Gio was the first friend I made in Sweden. She met me at the central station when I arrived with a highlighted map of Stockholm. She helped me get my SL (public transit) card and graciously lugged one of my bags all the way to my new home! Her welcoming smile and kindness went above and beyond what was necessary. She checks in with me throughout the week and introduces me to all her friends (and willingly comes out to meet mine!) There is no better person to dance the night away withπŸ’ƒ

Last Friday I texted her with a heavy heart of news from back home. Her immediate response, asking me to hang out that night for some much needed distraction, meant the world. Sometimes pizza and friendship is the perfect recipe to cheer up a sad heart.

I can’t wait to celebrate when she wins a Nobel prize one day for her work with infectious diseases. Till then, I am content blocking creepy guys from dancing with her (they literally clap πŸ‘ behind her πŸ˜‚) and marching for women’s rights alongside her.

2017.

img_7773Hi and Happy New Year!
2016 was one of the most important and transforming years of my life. It began with a decision in early January to run the 2016 Chicago marathon for Team World Vision. In April I was given the opportunity of a lifetime and flew to California for a trapeze lesson (an item on my list of dreams.) While there, I was inspired to further develop my life goals list with raising $10,000 for Team World Vision claiming the #2 spot. My inner dialogue went something like this–
“Wow, that will be cool to pursue in a few years”
“Why wait?”
“This is crazy! There is no way I can do that right now!
“Why not?”
“I don’t know enough people and my social demographic consists of young professionals, college and graduate students”
“Excuses”
“Fine”
“Why NOT?”

$10,000 equates to 200 individuals with clean water access for life. Sustainable projects extending beyond collapsible wells and enabling community leadership to preserve and maintain is something I’m all about.

Clean water is a necessity I take for granted every day. Access to an unlimited supply has ensured I have every opportunity for hydration and am spared from the disease and death associated with unclean water. Unfortunately, this privilege is not granted to every life in our current world (hence why I use “privilege” in place of a spot I believe is best described by the definition of “human right”)

The journey to #200 was challenging, inspiring and life-changing. It was a leap outside my comfort zone and forced me to grow mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

I grew in appreciation for my circumstances, I grew in physical and mental strength and stamina. I grew in the embrace of my limitations while embracing a limitless lifestyle through faith in the One above. I became more willing to ask for help, admit my weaknesses and more readily see the possibility in the word “WE

Afterall,
$10,000 didn’t happen because of ME.

Thanks to the compassion and generosity of 168 individuals from all over the world, 200 more individuals received clean water for life last year. As a team, this number climbed to 38,000.

INCREDIBLE. This number impacts CITIES, VILLAGES, and FAMILIES from an INDIVIDUAL core.
2017 is starting off with every impression of having an impact of similar caliber. I’ve signed up for both the Boston and NYC marathons with TWV in hopes of providing clean water to 100 more individuals, and raising $5,000 for child protection services.

I’ve never trained for two marathons in one year. I’ve never trained for a marathon in Winter. I’ve never trained for a marathon in another country (or LIVED in another country.) I’ve also never desired to run for causes more dear to my heart. Im thrilled to see what will happen, nervous about the challenges ahead and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to combine my passions for adventure, running, and helping the less fortunate in their most basic of needs.
Once again I realize I can’t meet these goals on my own but am ready and willing to move these clean water mountains (REALIZING the Man upstairs will orchestrate the move) Will you be a mountain mover too?

Go to teamworldvision.org to learn more about their clean water projects. Search for “Leah Nichols” in the fundraiser search tab to join me in fighting against the clean water crisis.

Cheers!