Posted in Life Abroad

A Son is Born

Alright. So it’s Sunday night and I’m trying incredibly hard to sit down and focus to write my weekly blog post so that I don’t leave any of you faithful readers hanging but I have to say I’m having a difficult time. Not because of the lack of events that occurred this past week but because in less than 10 hours from now the best partner in crime in the world will be walking off a plane from ‘merica and into my arms.

I. Cant. Wait.

But it is 100 percent necessary to update you on this past week because next weeks’ post will be chaulkful of adventures thanks to Ricky Bobby aka Ericka aka the best partner in crime in the world. Not to mention we will be off to Berlin to see another dear dear dear friend of mine Casey, whom I’ve known since 8th grade. More about them both next week I’m sure.

So back to this past week. MERRY CHRISTMAS! In the last couple of week I’ve been asked multiple times about my staying in Copenhagen for Christmas. “Are you going home for Christmas?”, “Oh…why aren’t you going home for the holidays?”, “Are you sad you’ll be away from family?”, “Where will you celebrate Christmas?” “Staying at home for Christmas Eve?? (insert face of pure pity here)” were just a few of the questions that bombarded me. There are multiple reason why I chose not to go home and yes, I bummed that I wasn’t with my family. But I’m bummed everyday that I’m not with my family. Christmas is a great time to celebrate, be festive, and surround yourself with those that love you and that you love. At the same time, Christmas should really be about celebrating the birth of Christ. Which fortunately you can do at home, or away, alone, or with loved ones. So to celebrate I went to church then binged watching sappy Christmas rom coms for literally 20 hours. Not kidding. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I like to think I’m a pretty strong cookie, but a tear or two rolled out of my eyes, from either the movie plot, my eyes being so dried out from staring at a tiny laptop screen for countless hours in a row, or from looking at my families pictures wishing I was there. We’ll never know the real reason.

After Christmas Eve came and went, I did get to do a bit more celebrating on the 25th which is rare in Denmark.  (Here, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th alone). First I got to get some volleyball reps in with D (Emmy girl aka Ebola), Hardy, and Topher Grace (two guys from our Men’s Elite Team). Then I went home with D, she had invited me over to her host family’s house (Topher Graces’s family) where we had a delicious semi Danish Christmas meal, followed by carols around the Christmas tree, followed by present opening (I received gifts from the family which was SO nice and greatly appreciated), followed by a ridiculous game that includes scarfing down a rice pudding like bowl of dessert in the hopes of finding the one almond (ask me to explain later), followed by hours of a card game called “butthole” (PG version). Perfect for me considering my affinity for the word. It was a perfectly hygge (cozy) night.

Here are a few things I learned about Danish Christmas:

Julefrokost is a big deal. Julefrokost means Christmas Lunch, which all companies, families, friends, pets, inanimate objects etc., participate in. It’s a about 6 course meal that restaurants host or you can have in your home but they all include just about the same meals. Be prepared to eat lots of food and drink lots of adult beverages.

Don’t miss Tivoli in the winter time. Tivoli is a huge amusement park in the city center that has the most beautiful light displays during Christmas time. It’s like Six Flags on crack. I haven’t gone yet. But thanks to my visitors we will definitely be making a trip this week.

Christmas markets are a big deal. Pop up Christmas Markets appear on walking streets in the heart of the city that are the most hygge thing in the entire world. There are about 20 lined up wooden log cabins in a U-shape all filled with different trinkets, winter wear, sausages, crepes (with nutella!!!!), churros with soft ice, glogg (warm wine with cinammon, raisins, almonds), and so much more. They will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit and are unlike anything I ever experienced in the states.

Julemanden is Santa Claus but directly translated means Christmas Man, which isn’t necessarily useful at all but I thought it was pretty funny. Upon discovering this, I proceeded to ask my danish friends if they call reindeer juledyre (dyre=deer)…apparently they don’t.

Ok so it turns out I didn’t actually learn that much about Christmas in Denmark. But what I did learn is if you’re having a hard time with the cold Danish culture, Christmas is definitely the time to weasel your way into their snow queen hearts. Danes love to celebrate Christmas with loads of lights, schnapps, and glogg which put them in a pretty good mood. Just cook up a batch of ableskiver and you’ll melt those hearts to a normal freezing temperature.

Last week also included the end of the Final Four Weekend. After we lost, and I went through my bout of depression I rallied to attend the Danish Volley Galla that followed the Finals matches on Saturday. They had a dinner/award ceremony for us at a banquet hall followed by a live band. I met a nice Polish man from one of the men’s teams that twirled me around the dance floor. It was like I was back in good ol’ Abilene at Guitars and Cadillacs two stepping. But with a little more spice and a lot less cowboy boots. Although, trying to understand his Polish accent was just about as hard as a West Texas Cowboys’. Following the dance portion of the night, the volleyball players from all teams, ages varying between 18-29, decided to go into the city to continue the party. We literally danced our feet off. By the end of the night the twin towers (Ev and Amanda our two middles) were walking out of Kulor Bar with their shoes in their hand and feet as dark as mine. I also did not leave unscathed, still currently sporting two scabs on the back of my ankles as I type.

It was the first night our whole team got to spend together and it was a great time. I’ve said before that the only reason I have friends is because of volleyball. You meet the most wonderful people through the game and you automatically have something in common. I can count on one hand the amount of friends I have met through means aside from volleyball (I still love you equally Kinsey and Saba). That being said, volleyball girls all around the world, take advantage of the built in friends you get because they will last a lifetime if you want them to. I can already say 1 month in that I have new volleyball girly pops that I will be friends with for a lot longer than these short months that we have together.

For now I’ll be on Holiday break until Jan 4th enjoying time with old friends and new and creating memories that will last a lifetime. There are now officially only 9 hours now till Ricky Bobby arrives. I’ve got to go get my rest for the fabulous week that is to come.

Always wanderlusting,

IJ

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Posted in Fitness, Volleyball, & Motivation, Life Abroad, Tips and Tricks

Lessons Learned

Low of the week

Dropping my phone whilst riding my 6 mile trip to work. So so sad. I’m the type of person that has dropped their phone entirely too many times to count and somehow miraculously it stays uncracked. Not so lucky this time. Which is understandable since I was obviously riding about 40mph (just call me Lance) when it happened…and then ran over it. But some part of me still hoped everything would be ok, but this time it just wasn’t. I am now constantly reminded of my failure every time I look at my phone, but such is life.

High of the week

Beating Amager in 3! They were ranked one spot ahead of us until we pulled out the win and moved ahead into the number 3 spot. A lot of people were surprised it didn’t take more than 3 sets for us to win. Including our precious Libero Stephanie. After our match she said that she couldn’t believe that we won so quickly. And my setter self having no doubt in my mind that we would for sure win asked her why she was surprised and she responded with “I guess I just have to get used to us being good”. I mentioned she was precious right. The statement is more acceptable considering the team started out the season with no setter one American MB that is supposed to be on the OH and a handful of Danish players. Fast forward to now having add a couple of Americans that played at big time D1s and my response to her is get used to it.

Amended low of the week

Losing in the semis of the Danish Volleyball Cup. This is the first loss I’ve had as a player in a very long time and it still sucks. Losing is probably the worst feeling in the ENTIRE WORLD I didn’t even know how to act. Yes I’ve lost (a lot) as a coach the past 3 years which also sucks, but it’s a different kind of suck when your on the court. I felt like I was going through the 9 stages of grief. Anger, denial, and then I got delirious and forgot the other 6 stages. As an athlete the ultimate failure is losing especially when you play such an intricate part in the success of your team. As a setter you can assume that every loss is our(my) fault and I willingly take on that responsibility. There’s always something I could have done different to make my hitters more successful. So what now? Not only did we lose but we lost in 3 pretty handedly, just saying that almost brings tears to my eyes. But the Danish Cup is not the end all be all and neither is winning or losing (grimace) It’s what we do with the loss that matters. Will we work harder in practice to reach our full potential come playoff time? Will we settle for who we are now and be content with 3rd place? Only time will tell but for me there is only one choice, to go hard all the time (right wildcats?) and to commit to the process of becoming greater tomorrow than I am today.

Other highlights of the week. I went on a second date with a nice German man I met online (online=on tinder sorry mom and dad) Last week we met up at a coffee shop. Unfortunately during my bike ride there my phone died which means I had no idea where I was going nor could I pronounce the name of the café to ask someone for directions. After biking a mile in the wrong direction I ended up stopping in an electronic store and sat there charging my phone while memorizing directions and messaging (hmmm we’ll call him “B”) B to let him know I wasn’t standing him up but am just lost, scared, and alone. I ended up making it there and it was a great time, so good that we decided to go for dinner the following week. Sidenote: how horrifying is it that if your phone dies you can literally do nothing!!! Okay maybe not you, but me in a foreign country still finding my way around was rendered so helpless without my phone. That extent of reliance on Francesca the 2nd aka my iPhone is a bit scary especially since she’s now cracked and losing power at a rapid pace, she just isn’t the girl she used to be.

Anyways the second date went equally well, he’s been to so many places around the world and has a huge trip planned that’s coming up including stops in Amsterdam, India, and Tanzania. How cool is that?? As the night came to a close I realized that the expectations of adult dating in Copenhagen Denmark are a bit different than those in Abilene TX. So this may just be my last tinderoni story for a while. I’ve decided that I’m fully capable of meeting friends the good old fashion way, so I’ll pretend to be a normal social human being and let them figure out how big of a weirdo I am later on in our relationship.

Last highlight of the week would be dinner at the enemies house, Brooke, a player for Holte that used to play for our club invited us (Myself, Jamie, D) over to her place for risengrød some delicious rice pudding cinnamon dish and some games. Of course what turned into a chill evening with tea and coffee ended up a late girls night with wine and chips. Those of you that know me know how much I love my girlfriends so it was so great to have such a fun evening with new friends. The whole evening D (the girl that deserves an Emmy for getting me out of my first tinder date) and I roast each other. Typical of our new found friendship. She left the night with the nickname “ebola” for mistaking the outbreak of E. coli at Chipotle for an outbreak of Ebola at Chipotle. Seriously. SO. Funny. Still laughing as I type right now. I left with the nickname of 4 in reference to the number of times in a row that I got tooled by a 19yr old in our match vs Amager. Brooke mentioned them being good at tooling and D cough laughed immediately and threw eyes at me…..it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Someone asked me the other day if it was weird to be playing again after coaching for 3 years. It is weird. It is weird because it feels as though I never stopped playing. I literally didn’t play a competitive match for the past 3 years and all of a sudden I’m practicing everyday and playing matches. When does that ever happen?? The critical coaching part of me hasn’t gone away so a lot of the times I think about what I would want to change if I were coaching the team or what I would do with specific players, including myself, but I wholeheartedly trust our head coach and can’t wait to see where we are months from now when we play for the championship (that is the setter in me).

The past week I learned that sometimes you mess up over and over and over again and everything is fine, like it never even happened. But sometimes it breaks and you have to be reminded of it every single day you look at your phone. But that’s ok because stuff happens. I learned that it’s not the loss on your record that defines who you are but what you chose to do with that loss. I learned that tinder is scary. Lol just kidding. I learned that it’s better to live your life content and satisfied with the relationships you have and to not seek out unnecessary relationships with a naive mentality. I learned that I will gain great friends from this experience. And I learned when you follow the desires of your heart and trust God everything will be a-okay.

Ever wanderlusting

IJ

Posted in Uncategorized

Started from the Bottom

Hey friends!

I’ve officially been over here for two weeks and change and am all settled in.

I’ve moved into an apartment with one of my American teammates Jamie, and two other Americans on the team live right next door, Amanda and Evyn. Now you would think that as Professional Volleyball Players in Europe we’d be living in the lap of luxury. But this isn’t super close to the truth. Our apartments, I just found out yesterday, are converted garages….picture that for size. They are studio style with two of us living in each of the apartments, before I got here one of the girls (Ev) joked that she broke a glass in the kitchen and in got in her bed, I didn’t get it before…I do now. Although the apartments aren’t overly luxurious, we make it work and I’ve enjoyed getting to know my new roomie. I should probably warn her that 9 out of the 13 previous roommates I’ve had are now married (just call me Good Luck Eege. Eh, maybe at the wedding). Plus the twin towers aka Amanda and Ev are besties and could survive in their apartment for days with no other human interaction, they’re hilarious, and tall.

In the past week I’ve also had my first few shifts working at our sponsor cafe, Cafe Bopa. Home of the infamous 39dkk (danish kroner) morgenbuffet (morning buffet). That is seriously DIRT CHEAP in Copenhagen, and it’s delicious, so if you’re ever in CPH come in Mon-Fri before 11:30, maybe you’ll have the pleasure of sipping on delicious IJ made with love latte.  Bopa is the same cafe I worked at years ago when I came over for the first time and there is a whopping total of 4 familiar faces, 2 of which are management. Anyone in the restaurant industry would understand that. Thankfully the familiar ones are the good ones :). I think the highlight of working this past week was surviving a 8hr shift off of 3 hours of sleep thanks to a late night out with the 5th American on our team “D” aka my twin according to Danish Volleyball referees. The low point of working was biking 6 miles at about 6:30am IN THE RAIN, without a rain coat. Color me wet. In my defense, it didn’t start off raining, but after about 1 mile in, a drizzle began and about 3 miles in I was so soaked I literally had to stop on the side of the road due to the mascara stinging my eyeballs. Needless to say, I left my apartment with a full face of beautiful makeup on singing “I woke up like this” and got to work how I actually woke up.

We also had our first league match with our full roster this past week. We won in three straight sets and played well. We still have a lot of work to do (granted our full team has played together for a whopping 1 week, our libero was gone on a Caribbean Cruise this past week) and have our next league match on Friday against a stronger opponent Amager that should be a real tell of were we actually stand in the league. We are in an 8 team league with two teams that are usually at the top, Holte and Bronby. Both of our losses this year have come from them, Bronby remains undefeated while Holte has one loss vs Bronby. We’ll be facing Holte in the Danish Cup Final 4, Bronby and Amager will be the other semifinal match (not the same as league play). The Final 4 is a big volleyball weekend consisting of six matches, semis for Men’s and Women’s and then finals for both divisions, the weekend will be capped off with a Gala. Now, the people that know me know that my first thought when I hear Gala is shopping trip (YAY). But remember that whole, sacrifice wardrobe, sell all belongings, “live off less” mantra I’ve been spewing? No? Me either, I want a new dress.

As for grad school, I’m currently finishing up my last semester for the year, one year down one to go(God is good!) I also found out, which only makes sense, that we don’t start our next course until January, SO HAPPY, and my wonderful alma mater, ACU is allowing me to keep my tuition discount for a tiny bit longer to help me out financially (praise Jesus!). Another update, my room in Abilene will be occupied starting in January by the new Assistant Coach at ACU…have I mentioned God is good? So many of the financial burdens that held me back from making this decision are being lifted. Which merits me buying a new dress for the Gala that I could potentially meet my volleyball playing future husband right??? Speaking of God, I think I found a new church home as well, Hillsong in Copenhagen central close to Vesterport Station about a 40 minute commute via train from my apartment in Lyngby. It’s nondenominational and in English and it’s awesome. Additionally, the pastor has an Australian accent which is wonderful on the ears but reminds me a little too much of a former Aussie someone (more on that later…maybe). And he’s tall, and has dark hair, and a prominent jawline (girly girls you know who I’m saying). I digress, I’m super excited to plant roots there and to find a community group that I can start going to.

I also had my first Tinder experience (mom, dad, other adults in my life that care about my welfare and emotional being, it’s to make friends I PROMISE). Turns out my Tinder experiences here will be similar to my ones at home. My teammate D and I (remember the late night mentioned above) met with him in the city and he was super nice, and cute, and will make a wonderful 5’7 friend. She deserves a Grammy for the performance she put on as the “distraught girlfriend that had to go home”, I played the part of “caring girlfriend that couldn’t let her leave alone”. WE’RE TERRIBLE PEOPLE, stop judging me. If it makes you feel better I’m convinced God is going to send me a 5’4 husband just to spite me, but I’ll love them both just the same.

The past two weeks have almost seemed like I never left. It was so so bizarre to be back in the same gym, back in the same cafe, riding the same trains, biking down the same streets. It was all a little bit different but oh so the same. It makes me think, did I just put my life in reverse and take about 10 steps back??? I went from having a career that enabled me to build relationships and a program in a place that I love so much (Go Wildcats!!) to living in a tiny apartment, working as a barista, and playing volleyball. Wait….and playing volleyball, AND PLAYING VOLLEYBALL! Even though my life isn’t as luxurious as one would think a pro athlete overseas should have, I’m starting from the bottom and working hard to get to the top.

Always wanderlusting,

IJ