lessons from europe & vacations

The post could alternatively be called lessons from vacation because I think whenever we return from a good break, we come back refreshed, inspired and hopefully with new perspectives.

Specifically, I feel like I've been thinking about a few lessons that I learned from Europe and being on vacation.

We are all human: Even though we were in western Europe, which honestly is not that entirely different from the U.S., it was refreshing to be around people who spoke differently, thought differently and acted differently. London, in particular, is a melting pot of people and when you throw in tourists from all over, you suddenly get it: we are all just human. We all have the same wants and needs: to be loved, to be taken care of, and to live will-- despite our zipcode, language or accent.

Slow it down: I do things fast, I like being busy, and I rarely savor anything. Yet in Europe, especially France, the expectation is to savor everything. Coffee is not to go, coffee is for sitting and lingering over as you people watch and as you engage with those with you. After eating, the check is not presented immediately, you have to ask for it and even so, after you finish a meal, you're expected to order dessert, a coffee or just sit awhile longer. There's no rush.

I am trying to carry that sentiment with me. I am guilty too often of shoving people into time slots-- fitting in coffee dates or phone calls into a small number of hours on a weekend day. Rather, I should allow myself to linger, to order a second cup of coffee and slow it down. This is the one life God gave me and there's no rush to get it over with.

 cooking dinner in our little flat in Paris

Small is better: Everything in America is so big. Our houses, our cars, our grocery stores! Being in Europe and shopping at small shops and staying in small hotels and flats and guest houses-- it made me feel like back home I was taking up more room than I needed to. Do I need to go and get things in bulk from Costco? Do I need more t-shirts because Target has them on sale? Does my house need to be bigger? I'm pretty sure the answer to these questions is a resounding no.

Of course all of these things are all just a stream of consciousness-- things that have been bouncing around in my head as I traveled, and now as I've returned, things that bounce in my head as I sit here typing with my cup of green tea. I think I tend to stumble on little truths-- little lessons-- and I forget them quite quickly. I am hoping that in writing them down and sharing them, I am somehow keeping myself accountable. But you are welcome to keep me accountable, too.

xo, erika


  1. I love savoring... everything and not everyone can understand that. Jen does, but her parents don't. The few times we've gone out to dinner with them, I will be the last person to finish my meal and they have that "hurry up, already!" look... I take my time. I'm the same way with nature, and shopping, and even writing. Granted, sometimes it's scarceness to hurry, however savoring everything is just so wonderful. And I agree on your first lesson, too. It's so, so true.

    I am a bit of a shopaholic, and I do love "stuff." Stuff is special to me, memorable. However, I do not like big spaces. I like quiet little areas to live in. Even in our old apartment, we only used our living room, kitchen and bathroom despite having a giant bedroom, haha. NOTHING except a lamp was in there!

  2. Living in Ireland, I get to travel to Europe alot and one of my fav past times is to just linger and people watch and sip some coffee / tea or enjoy a lovely meal. Its amazing!

    i'm off to NYC in two weeks and while its so fast paced there, my intention is to chill out in the amazing cafes and what not, people watch in central park and just take it all in - the european way!

  3. looks like you had such a good time! :)

    ah yes, everything in America is big and over the top, I think... still striving toward simpler living with less stuff, and not trying to fill up all of the space we have.

    thanks for sharing!

  4. I always love being reminded that the American way is not the only way and that less is more!

  5. I remember when I was in Jamaica how RELAXED I was. I'm usually wound up so tight, super stressed constantly, and in Jamaica you just CAN'T be that way.

    It's funny sometimes how it takes getting away from EVERYTHING to change your head a little bit. I ought to bookmark this post when I need a reminder. Thanks lady!

  6. YES! This is all so true, and you are making me miss Europe! There are no where near enough small shops, cafes and restaurants around here, and it makes me really sad!!

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  7. love this -- these are really valuable lessons! hate that busy-ness is so valued in our culture, as if it's a mark of a life fully lived. I love lingering after dinner. and I too want to stop puttin people in time slots, and SIMpLiFy. I've been getting rid of a lot of stuff (or putting it aside to sell) in preparation for our move and it feels amazing!! I would like to avoid accumulating too much once we do move, want to maintain a simpler lifestyle - it is a freeing way to live.

  8. I feel this way every time we return from Ireland. I love the slow lifestyle and the way everything is smaller. Since there is less space and everything (including trash pick up) is so expensive, people are more conscious of what they buy and consume. There isn't so much junk everywhere. I know you can live that way here in the U.S. but it's easier to just accumulate and get more, more, more....because it's cheap and always at our fingertips.

    The way cafes/restaurants are slower and people aren't pushed to leave is my favorite. I so want to move to Ireland because I love the slowness. Life is short as it is, no need to rush through it :).

  9. this is so, so good. i love this :) so glad you guys had a great time! i'm loving all the pics!

  10. I have a small home for an american. . .we live in a duplex, the 4 of us, and we like it. It actually bothers me that couples I know try to expand and feel their home is too small when they have seen our place. I don't understand why people can't be content and want bigger and bigger all the time, so this is cool to know that there is quaint small places in Europe.

  11. It seems like you had a very good time there and gathered quite good memories with you. In this post you have shared you personal experience which will later on be fruitful to others who are planning to go that place. Thanks for sharing you blog with all.

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