International Love For Your Traveling Heart

Do you love traveling abroad? It's hard for me not to fall in love with new places. There is something spectacular about exploring, seeing things for the first time and feeling captivated by the unfamiliar. If you ever happen to fall in love with more than just the place, like perhaps someone from another part of the world, it's a pretty good idea to familiarize yourself with their cultural upbringing. Although this may not pertain to you, may I inspire you to read on anyway?

Yoga Instructor Andrea Bogart shares time with Erik Almas traveling around Norway, blogger for Inspirational Addict. 
Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime
— Mark Twain

After living in Japan in 1999-2000 I increasingly became curious about how to absorb more as I ventured through various parts of the world. Typically you snag your Travel Guide Books, head to Pinterest for how to pack, download your Duolingo and boom you're on your way. You never know when an opportunity may rise for adventure or you become goo-goo eyed and end up sharing your life with someone from a country you’ve never been to and know very little about. How fun is that... and slightly intimidating. 

This is my third winter bundling up and heading to my mans home town of Trondheim, Norway where the night falls nineteen hours of the day during this time of year. For three hundred delicate minutes the sun dances on the rooftops in this storybook town and we hurry out to frolic like school kids at recess in the crisp, fresh air. It reminds me of the perfect scene that once upon a time, only sat beneath my grandmas Christmas tree with little colorful houses and towns people arranged flawlessly amongst the marshmallow puffs of snow. Twinkling lights glimmer from everyone's homes as if stars laid upon the peaks and valleys of the city. The winter wonderland we sing popular holiday carols about... well it truly exists. My bare eyes can hardly believe I get to visit here for the rest of my life. 

After twenty seven hours of travel, four flights and one rock-star five-month-old baby we are welcomed with open arms and brought into Eriks families home who’s bustling with holiday cheer– it's so koselig (cozy). The first two years I did the travel on my own and I wasn't sure what to expect. He sent me this video to prepare me for my arrival. I was nervous after watching it, to put it politely.

Americans try traditional Norwegian Christmas dishes.

Needless to say Erik's family has never made me try anything too crazy and we always have exceptional organic home cooked meals. It's a special part of being in Norway with them for sure. I was also gifted “The Social Guidebook to Norway” that has been quite helpful in my understanding of some differences between American and Norwegian expressions. 

I’ve found this language even more challenging to try to learn than what little Japanese i picked up, so there’s been some resistance. While I often still sit quietly at the table, yet intently watching everyone's mouths as Norwegian dialogue flies rapidly from mouth to mouth and laughter often bursts from a story just told, I wonder, how will I ever learn this?  I’m guilty of not putting enough effort into it yet and shame on me for that... I’m about to marry this man! I do plan to learn with our babygirl and get back to my Duolingo practice so I can at least say a few of my wedding vowels in Norwegian, wish me luck! 

The amount of time you're traveling in a place will often dictate how much you immerse yourself in the culture. No matter how brief or long your stay may be... here are a few very simple tips of mine. 

Find a Gallery

While you peruse a bit ask the employees for their favorite coffee shop or where the best place is to get an organic meal. Gallery peeps are in the know. They will send you to the most superb spots. 

Be Active

I often take a yoga class in whatever city I'm visiting. If not that... rent a bike, go for a walk or run. I love to just feel like a local and doing any of these activities will put you there and familiarize you with the area you're staying. 

Get a Little Lost

I love knowing where I'm headed but being able to wander around without relying on my google maps guiding me every step of the way is kinda great sometimes! Don't be afraid to get turned around and head the opposite way you meant to. Ask around to find your way again and explore the places you stumble upon. (Choose wisely when to do this, don't get yourself in a pickle)

If you're anything like me you can always prepare before you go... research on-line, look at pictures, seek out the cities top 10 things to do and so on. Just make room for some spontaneity and excitement to ensue so you can come home with little gems. Moments that took you by surprise. 

Personal_Norway_Christmas2015__MG_3018.jpg

I hope to keep traveling the world and bringing you guys with me. I love hearing from you and by all means share some of your favorite places you've been with me. Hope you are rocking 2018 so far and thank you for stopping by. 

XOXO ANDREA

 

 

INSPIRED By My Mom, Who Would You Write Your Letter To?

Have you ever wanted to write a letter to your Mom reminiscing about all the things she did that inspired you?  Or anyone special who played a prominent part in your upbringing? A trip down memory lane with them would make you fill up with gratitude... you know that feeling right?

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 1.21.08 PM.png

This is a free write to my mamma... 

You'd wake up and come in singing 'wake up you sleepy head, it's time to get out of bed', give me sweet kisses, a few pats and usually another soft & kind 'rise and shine'. Wild- Tina Turner hair in the mornings. For work days, nicely dressed and simple make-up. A less is more kind of Mom. Always a minimalist pulled together and beautifully natural looking. I would think, wow my mom is pretty. I remember you eating a half of grapefruit in the mornings and making everything from cereal, to donuts holes, to waffles & french toast for Eric and I. You'd put those blue calcium pills next to my plate and see if I might be up for a glass of milk today... juice always won.  I remember you going to aerobics, drinking tea and water, barely drinking alcohol (maybe a wine cooler)... never over-indulging in anything. I remember you working hard at Kroger, Lincoln Homes Sales and our School Office. You took me to dance, the grocery store and to run errands. I'd get to pick my favorite candy bar if I'd been good as we checked out. You took us to see our Grandmas & Grandpa often. You made me the cutest outfits by hand and encouraged me to learn to sew. You always made dinner, we'd sit together and talk about our days. Eric and I would be little shits and you and dad would threaten us with the chicken paddle that hung on the wall. Even when I'd come home from college and LA you'd still make my favorites; ham and beans with lots of cornbread, chicken and dumplings (extra dumplings), spaghetti with garlic toast. If I wasn't a gluten free pain in the butt, you'd still do it today. You'd let me have a pile of peanut butter with my crispy bacon. Corn curls with honey and my favorite grape & sunkiss orange soda. We had to pick green beans from our garden. We ate what you prepared, a balanced meal and asked permission 'may I please be excused' to get up from the table. I learned how to vacuum and dust to help you and earn allowances. We had to make our beds. A summer of doing the laundry helped me get my trampoline. You and dad traveled and went wonderful places like Portugal, Jamaica, Kentucky and lots of others. You did so many arts and crafts with me. Remember the paper angels we decorated with colored pencils and glitter, they took forever we did so many and set them on the TV stand for the holidays? We played games, we walked outside and rode bikes. We played frisbee, catch and swam, gave tennis a few shots. I tried roller skating, ice skating with your skates you had when you were young. You helped us with school work and projects. You got me a keyboard when I really was excited about piano. I had all those crazy sticker books you let me fill with pages and pages of stickers. Toys I begged for found their way under the Christmas tree. You insisted on using manners; always please, thank you, please be quiet- never shut-up. Endless trips to friends houses for sleepovers, dance class and competitions. Giving up so much of your time to be present for Eric and I with anything we did. You always said 'just do your best and smile' and don't bite your lip or play with your hair.

You took so many pictures of us kids. We did so much together. I got to have a Birthday party every year! Camping, boating, fishing trips, vacations, slumber parties, activities, the zoo, science center, roller skating, movies, shopping, mini golf, six flags and water parks. We had awesome Halloween costumes and school play outfits because of your creativity and talent. We have our special holiday movies; "Miracle on 34th Street" for me and "Scrooge" for Eric. Even tho I was a pickle often about church, I loved Sunday's. Family day, together for church, brunch after and usually something together outside. You read the 'period' book with me and although this was embarrassing at the time I'm thankful you communicated and shared with me what was going to happen to my body as I became a woman. You made Dr. appointments and helped me understand growing up and changes. You visited me in college, Japan and take time to come to LA often. We took a mother/daughter vacation to Cabo and it was awesome. You have hand written me cards dazzled with support and encouragement consistently since I moved out of the house at 18.. I have a keep sake box filled to the brim. I observed you having strength, courage, vulnerability, and joy. You we're quiet and more reserved but not uncommunicative, just never needing to be loud or the center of attention. Always having such grace with the way you spoke, friends you cared for, dancing with Dad, holding me and being the kind of mother that any child would be so blessed to have. This is just a peek at some of the stuff I vividly remember... the things that shaped me, supported me, taught me well and will continue to inspire me to strive to be a woman, wife & mom like you. I'm eternally grateful for all you do for me and our family. Thank you Mom for being you. 

In honor of her Birthday this week... Happy Birthday Mamma! 

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.
— Washington Irving

May this encourage you to take stroll into memory lane for a moment and tell the people who helped guide you and shape you, some of the reasons why. What brought a smile to your face and appreciation to your soul. I love the idea of not only giving yourself this opportunity to feel such gratitude but sharing it with those who mean the world to you, perhaps in an old fashion written letter? Lot's of love to you always, comments, questions and shared experiences are always welcome here! I love hearing from you guys.

XO ANDREA

 

Happy Holidays With Love & Cheer

Tis the season to feel full of gratitude and love for all your many blessings.... right? 

Snap by Erik Almas

Snap by Erik Almas

It's been a beautiful day full of relaxing, great meals, exchanging of gifts, holiday movie favorites, stories and the comfort of being surrounded by loved one's in my parents cozy home. On this very Merry Christmas Eve I've had the time to sit quietly as I feel the warmth of the fire, the twinkling Christmas tree lights, the smell of peppermint oil being misted into the air and the simplicity of just being present. My heart feels so full. 

I love taking time as the year wraps up to write and reflect . As we all know it's easy to get overwhelmed and complain we don't have enough time to get everything done we'd like to do but can I inspire you to take time to do this one thing?  

MAKE A LIST OF YOUR 2016 GRATITUDES

  • grab a notebook and write 
  • sit quietly and think about them
  • use your notes on your cell phone and plug them in

There is no pressure to make it a lengthy list or take more than 10 to 15 minutes to do this. However, I'm going to ask you to enjoy doing it! Praise your accomplishments no matter how big or small and see them physically written or in your minds-eye and honor yourself for all you do in a year. These are the building blocks of joy that shine light into our souls and help us get clear to see what's next for 2017. You're amazing! 

From my family to your's enjoy the Holidays! Sending you all blessings, cheer and all the joys this time of year brings. 

XO Andrea

 

BLISSFULLY ENGAGED & INSPIRED

Well, what can I say... I've been dreaming of the day I'd fall in love with the man I felt certain I'd get to grow old with. I've watched Father of the Bride more times than I'll admit, noted the song, When You Say Nothing At All and a few others as potential wedding tunes and looked forward to the day my Dad could walk me down the isle. We all enjoy a good love story don't we? Here is a little piece of mine....

Photo By  Tania Soderman

As a woman in my 30's, may I give recognition to an old English phrase from 1892 extolling the virtue of patience, "All things come to those who wait" often used as "Good things come to those who wait" [Wikipedia], both of which I'm fond of and have always found inspiring. I know we can all attest, one's romantic life isn't just rose petals and dreamy moments but I believe when you allow yourself to be open, get clear on who you are and trust the timing of your life— when the good arrives, you are ready and it will light you up and fill you with love and gratitude beyond measure. 

Photo by  Tania Soderman

I was pretty certain after a short time, Erik was the one. So aligned as we'd share our hopes and dreams. It became evident we both were excited about getting married, starting a family,  continue to support and challenge each other and look forward to the years of growing wiser and older through it all.  Even after countless conversations, laughs and smiles about looking forward to doing all these things .. nothing prepared me for the emotional moment he surprised me with popping the question, "Andrea Bogart, will you be my wife"? A blubbering and ecstatic "yes of course I'll be your wife" came out of me. 

Our families; my mom and dad, his mom and grandpa, all were in Sonoma for a few days overlapping one another's travels for Thanksgiving and we were so excited to have them meet and visit our Sonoma home. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend together and planned to continue to relax, walk, shop, eat and hang together on Monday.  Our families came up with a few reasons why they couldn't go on our favorite hike with us mid-morning. Not thinking anything of it we took off to quickly do it on our own. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, I was in my usual Aloyoga attire and Erik in sweats... we were off! The hike takes us about 45 minutes usually and sits in the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains of Sonoma Valley. We often stop and take some yoga photos and I force Erik to do some Instagram stories with me and we repeatedly talk about how much we love the variety of what nature showcases on this hike. The sky above is a perfect blue with powdery white clouds, the water is flowing through the creek from all the rain, giant mushrooms are sprouting along the path, I'm snapping photos of clover patches & yellow leaves the size of my face, the sun is glistening upon the dewy ground and red berry trees dazzle against the lush shades of green. My soul is soothed. 

 At the half-way point is an adorable, little pond we always stop at. As we neared it this day, I see an old wooden canoe. Blonde as blonde can be I say, "what the heck is a canoe doing here"? Erik says "come on, let's take it out". I reply with a concerned "honey, we can't just take out someones canoe". I notice a pep in Eriks step and as he spins around with a huge smile on his face. Walking closer, I now recognize it's the vintage canoe we shot a piece for our wine launching Stories By The Glass recently and in it laid one gorgeous white rose.  I'm feeling so many things at once; confusion, oh my gosh what's he doing, overjoyed, emotional, shaky, madly in love, nervous, excited, how did he manage all this... lot's of rapid thoughts. He takes my hands we climb in and paddle out. The water calms, I suddenly feel so at peace looking into the eyes of this amazing man. Loving words are exchanged. A stunning ring is placed on my finger. Tears of joy have filled our eyes. I want to leap into his arms but the wobbly canoe advises otherwise. We laugh and enjoy it.  We're Engaged! 

Photo By  Tania Soderman
Photo By Tania Soderman

Photo By Tania Soderman

Photo By  Tania Soderman

Glowing with happiness, Erik informs me our wonderful and talented friend Tania Soderman is hiding in the bushes taking photos, along with the three hardworking gentlemen it took to get the canoe there and Howard the canoe owner.  As we got out to finish the hike and they all emerged from the forrest. I was astounded at the help and generosity he had from several friends to pull this off. And now we are to finish the hike and head home to an intimate engagement party that's waiting for us, Erik explains! What!!!? Am I in a romance novel?

I see my family and his, dressed up waiting for us on the patio that's lined with gorgeous roses everywhere. As I hug him again I'm completely flooded with emotions and I spread that joyous, messy cry to our families. Continuing in, there are dozens of white roses showcasing our beautiful home, additional smiles and congratulations from some close friends that have joined and one of our favorite Sonoma restaurants, The Girl And The Fig is catering. It's all so touching and special. I pull myself together with a quick shower and change out of my yoga attire and into something more suitable and enjoy celebrating all together over an incredible meal and champagne toasts! 

This has been one of the most special times of my life. As my loving brother says, "sis, you've found someone that really shows and expresses how much you mean to him and that's awesome". I cherish how blessed I am to have someone like Erik and I will strive to always make him feel that, as always he does me. I've gotten choked up over and over again writing this. His grandpa asked if it felt different now. I think the most exciting difference for me is calling each other fiancé out loud... it's so fun and exciting to hear it and say it. I love it! Not to mention the rush of love we've felt pouring in from all of our friends, families and those supporting the next steps in our journey is incredible. 

Everyone helped so much and played a part and pulling this surprise off and I'm incredibly thankful. A special thank you to Howard, for so graciously gifting us that canoe. It's magnificent & we have such a special connection to now. And Erik... there is a lifetime of love that awaits us and I'm so very happy to share it with you. 

Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star
— E.E. Cummings

I hope love inspires you everyday in some way. Let it guide your heart to wondrous places and share it with the world. Thank you for stopping by and if you have a favorite love quote or song or story you want to share in the comments, please do! I enjoy our little Inspirational Addict community and hope it grows and grows! 

HOW AWARE ARE WE?

Hi there lovelies, hope you're having a beautiful Sunday.

Photo By Erik Almas in Dubai

Photo By Erik Almas in Dubai

How aware are we I ask?  

We can be aware of the obvious things for sure; emotions we feel, our responsibilities, the routine of how we move through our days, food we eat, amount of exercise we get, what we tune-in to and tune-out, judgments we make on ourselves, energy we put out into the world… you get the idea. Do you ever wonder if you’re just going through the motions of life missing out on that deeper connection to your self-awareness? And even more importantly, how does your answer make you feel?

A few helpful questions to increase your awareness with the examples I listed above:

  1. Do you push away emotions or invited them in? 
  2. Are you enjoying or dreading your responsibilities?
  3. How present are you as you move through your day?
  4. Do you make food choices that support your health and goals?
  5. Is it important to you that you get daily physical exercise?
  6. What kind of environment are you creating for yourself? 
  7. Are you judging the choices you make with compassion or negative self talk?
  8. Would the people in your environment say you are kind, loving and joyful to be around?
Photo By Erik Almas

Photo By Erik Almas

I truly believe, through our awareness it as just as easy to create wonderful, life changing habits as it is to fall into bad ones. It’s the desire to be aware that will dictate how much you enrich your life and strive for your greatest potential. We all want this don’t we? Take a moment to smile here and thank yourself for the awareness you have and trust that you are only going to expand and grow from here on out! 

Various circumstances and mainly excuses kept me from committing to a yoga practice many years ago and I wouldn’t have had a clue how to meditate. Sit still and be quiet, oh my... I couldn’t do that, that’s just weird unless I’m sleeping… would have been my inner monologue. When I landed in a yoga practice I loved, I began to lean-in to how I could expand my awareness and that uplifted me. Being a witness to the challenges I faced on my mat revealed the same challenges I had in life and I wanted to look at that. Yoga was becoming an emotional experience filled with vulnerability, happiness, resistance, letting go of ego, challenges, peace and a wonderful sense of increased awareness. Not to mention, keeping me in great shape. I fell deeply in love and made it a commitment I knew I had to share with others. 

There are days I’m extremely proud of my progress with being aware, present and connected and there are days I ignore my significant other as I create a social media post while I juggle car keys, grocery bags and getting the mail
— Andrea Bogart
Photo By Erik Almas

Photo By Erik Almas

I love inspiring a mindful lifestyle in general and as a yoga instructor I have a responsibility to my students to encourage them to connect to their awareness.  My hope is that it propels each person to want to live a mindful life filled with happiness. Being an instructor doesn’t make me better, more self-aware or give me super powers but I see it as a beautiful gift that serves my life well and supports my core beliefs in the effort to practice what I share.  

In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently
— Anthony Robbins

It's such a pleasure to sit and think and write about things I love and that helped me along the way. If it speaks to you in some way, comment or share something with me.... I love hearing from you guys. Have a blessed day filled with awareness! 

Do you know Prince Ea?

Hello open hearted, motivated people. If you haven't seen any of the works of this inspiring individual, let me introduce you to Prince Ea

I was moved to tears last night as I was wrapping up my day and saw this post at the top of my feed on Face Book. Inspired by his passion, his humble approach to share motivation and encourage us all as individuals to trust we have so much power with-in, I want to share it here as well. May it lift you up and make you smile and understand that none of us are alone in the rollercoaster of life. I love his messages. I'm grateful for people like him spreading light and love and compassion that we can all relate to.

Follow Prince Ea on Face Book - Parents I think he's good one for the teens?

If it moves you the way it did me, let me hear about it, comment or share! All thoughts are always welcome. I thank my brother for initially introducing me to the works of this awesome human who's also representing St. Louis, Missouri... my home sweet home.