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arctic blast

So up until recently, I thought "arctic blast" was just a cute name for really, really minty gum. I have since learned it is an actual weather phenomenon that involves life-threatening cold and record-shattering low temperatures.

Also, it is currently a very real thing here in Minnesota.

It was -18 with a -41 wind chill when I left the pool yesterday. My hair froze in the minute it took to walk from the gym to the car. 

When I went to bed last night, the wind chill was -50 degrees. No, that is not a typo.

Work was closed today because of the weather, and I just got a text telling me it will be closed again tomorrow.

I cough the second I step outside and inhale. Touching the metal handle on the storm door hurts. A friend in Washington wants me to blow bubbles and see if they turn into ice.

I have heard that skin can freeze in less than five minutes, that boiling water thrown from a pot will immediately evaporate, that you shouldn't fart because ice crystals will form on the seat of your pants. 

It makes me very grateful to have a warm, safe place to cozy up in. With cats. Because always cats.

the big picture

As part of the planning process for 2019, my coach started a conversation about vision. And by vision, she means something bigger than a to-do list or a New Year’s resolution, something audacious and scary and possibly even requiring many years of work and commitment.

From our trip to Japan in April 2018: Origami cranes in Kyoto -- they symbolize wishes and intentions.

 Oddly, my long-term, pie-in-the-sky goal has nothing to do with triathlon or anything remotely athletic. I don’t want to go to Kona (racing in heat, humidity, and wind isn’t my thing), unless it’s to volunteer and cheer for my friends and teammates until I lose my voice. I don’t dream about Boston (honestly, I don’t even think I like running stand-alone marathons very much – for some reason, a marathon seems so much easier when it’s at the end of an Ironman – yeah, I am probably insane but whatever). I don’t fantasize about RAAM or swimming the English Channel or running a race on every continent (although all of these sound fun, as long as no drowning is involved).

What I really want to do is live abroad.

Kilkenny last November -- I tagged along on one of Big Gingers businessman trips.

Big Ginger and I have been discussing this for awhile – it’s something we both dream about. I don’t know if this means saving up and taking a year off to travel, or finding a job in another country, but the thought of going somewhere totally different sounds incredibly liberating and challenging and so exciting. (Also: Adopting cats of multiple nationalities, sort of like the Jolie-Pitts, but with more floof and a happier ending.)

We know people who’ve done this (not the cat herd part, but the living abroad part), so we know it’s possible. We have friends who have careers that transferred them abroad, and friends who sold everything, quit their jobs, and are currently traveling (and no, they aren’t recent college graduates with a trust fund – they’re responsible, grown-ass adults who are brave enough to live in a way that brings them joy). But what seems so daunting is how. How do you find these opportunities? How do you get to a place where you're financially comfortable enough to make the leap?

So I’m going to put it out there. Going abroad for an extended period of time is my vision. I don’t know how long it will take to make it into reality, but I can start working on it. I can ask questions and do research and open myself to possibility. I can trim my budget and save money and cut down on possessions. I can brush up on my Spanish and learn French. (Big Ginger is really good at German drinking songs – does this count?) And I can keep traveling and exploring new places, even if I can’t stay for as long as I’d like.

Sunset at Playa Avellanas in Costa Rica, February 2016.