auf Wiedersehen

Auf Wiedersehen is not goodbye, but rather a German saying used to express farewell. It literally translates: auf, until + Wiedersehen, seeing again. I couldn’t think of a more ‘perfekt’ title for our final Mustard + Bananas post.

We moved from Frankfurt on March 24th and I knew someday this post would come. I needed to allow the space to acclimate back to American living, and give some time to marinate on our experiences. This blog, with all 87 posts, has been incredible for capturing over two years of our lives. From figuring out how to navigate a new city, new culture, new language – to traveling more than we could have ever imagined, and all the while discovering how strong we are both individually and together as a couple – there is no better gift.

In the spirit of celebration, today we will share Thanksgiving with our loved ones in the States (this is the first since 2013). One thing this whole moving abroad experience taught me is time flies, and before you know it it’s over and you’re figuring out what’s next in your life ahead.

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It’s been nearly 8 months since we Sachsons left Sachsenhausen, and I will always be fond of this place. At first, the experience abroad was challenging, and as hard as it was, I’m grateful. I’ve learned how to find a better balance in my life, to never give up, to persevere when times are tough, and above all to appreciate the present moment.

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Walhof’s – the place of our last dinner in Germany.

Coming home we moved back into the condo we left, and after the first night our place looked like a really bad episode of hoarders. It took us three full days to get everything back in place and what we found is we only really needed 2/3 of our belongings. I think living in 350 sq. ft. for two years taught us a very valuable lesson – to need less than what we think. We were more than happy to donate our 1/3 and settle into our familiar space.

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In our home I LOVE incorporating the items from our travels and gifts from our friends abroad. It was important to not have the space look exactly the same as it did two years ago, so we made changes by arranging the furniture in a different way. We are not the same as we were two years ago, and our place should reflect it.

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The Duke was a gift from our German neighbors and Aperol is for my favorite drink I discovered while abroad, an Aperol spritz.

The glass candle holder is from my favorite Frankfurt coffee shop, Oheim. The bike is from our first trip to Amsterdam.

The glass candle holder is from my favorite Frankfurt coffee shop, Oheim. The bike is from our first trip to Amsterdam.

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A few days later we were reunited with our sweet girl, Natalie. She was well taken care of while we were gone, and it took no time at all to settle into a routine. I love seeing her wake up in the morning and be so excited to go outside, as she leaps off the bed with her tail wildly wagging. Eating her meals, taking naps, and playing with her ‘babies’ (a.k.a. toys) gives her great joy. It’s the simple things that make her happy, and being with her helps me keep things in perspective by not sweating the small stuff.

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Shortly after moving back, I started teaching again at my home studio, Enlighten Yoga. It was a pretty amazing experience to go back to the place where my practice started. Not only have I changed in the two years I’ve been gone, but my teaching has also evolved. Everyone’s been so warm and welcoming, I truly am overwhelmed by their kindness. I’ve been told moving away helped me to “find my own voice” as a teacher. I suppose teaching yoga full-time for a couple of years will do that 😉

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The studio has evolved since I left, and I think it’s better than ever. The teachers are amazing, and I’ve enjoyed taking their classes and learning from them. For my teaching, I have one permanent hot yoga class on Sunday’s at 10:45am. I also alternate three additional classes – yoga basics and yin. It was important for me to keep stepping out of my comfort zone, so this coming February I will be doing a 15-hour yin yoga training – a practice I fell in love with once I got abroad in Germany. I’m excited to keep sharing this love and passion for yoga, and it’s an incredible honor to come back ‘home’.

To get me out of the comfort zone even more, I decided to be open to trying new things. In April, I joined a friend at the bar method and admittedly, I did not like it. Something told me not to brush it off after one class, so I joined for a month, and after class five my opinion changed.

Photo credit: Bar Method Charlotte - Southpark

Photo credit: Bar Method Charlotte – Southpark

I find myself overcoming challenges in each class, and that’s why I keep coming back. You find out what you’re made of and continue to build strength. I started towards the end of April and I’m 16 classes away from hitting 100. This may not sound like a huge deal, but it is, ’cause at 100 you receive a pair of light blue ‘Century’ grip socks. My goal is to sport those socks by the end of the year!

In terms of a great (+ fun!) cardio workout, another friend shared a little secret. A $5 cardio dance funk class! This takes place every Sunday and when I can make it, I take it. For 60-minutes we dance with Lem Houston to hip-hop music with people of all shapes, ages, and sizes. Here’s the website if you’re interested in checking it out. A couple weeks ago, he offered a free 90-minute class at a local brewery, and two ladies from work came along. One of them described the class as “feeling like she was a Carolina Panthers’ cheerleader”, and I like that description. I can promise you this – you’ll sweat, laugh, have fun, and it will be the best $5 you’ll spend!

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Speaking of work – I landed my dream job on June 1st. I worked nearly a decade for Charlotte’s local Coca-Cola bottler, and it was hard to leave. Shortly after the new year, I found out they were hiring a Marketing Brand Manager and the description was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a job that had multiple facets with many moving parts – and I’m responsible for three main objectives:

  1. Event Planning – an internal 2-day sales rally for nearly 1,000 employees, twice a year.
  2. Media – as in radio/billboards and determining what makes sense for our territories.
  3. Grassroots Marketing – overseeing programs/budgets and bringing our brands to life.

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It’s been almost 6 months, and it feels like I’ve never left. My boss lady was a previous supervisor and it is great to work for her again. She is super cool, smart, and highly respected in our organization – I’m the lucky one to have her as a boss.

Photo credit: Paige Winn

Currently, we’re working on an exciting Diet Coke campaign with a few local bloggers, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them. The following four photos are from the amazing Paige Winn.

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In my cube, it was a priority to make it feel homey and create a mix of old and new. The upper shelves are items mostly from my past: pillow was a present from my father-in-law, the three glass bottles are projects I personally worked on, the clock was from my former boss, my last service award, and spirit fingers from a ‘back in the day’ college promo. The items below the shelves are mostly new. To the left is a piece of the tablecloth we had in our German home, most of the pictures were taken during our time abroad, and a few cards given to us before we left Germany made their way into frames. I love this mixture – and completed the space with a gold lamp and a mug from home.

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As you can see the schedule is pretty packed, yet with a full-time job, part-time yoga teaching, and spending time with my family – I find my balance. One way Kevin and I share our limited time in a quality way is through cooking. We tried three of those home-delivery companies and landed on our favorite.

We receive our Green Chef delivery on Wednesday, and three nights a week we cook a meal together.

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Inside the box is everything we need to make a fresh, organic dinner that’s perfectly portioned.

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In general, the dinners take anywhere from 30-40 minutes to complete and each meal is relatively easy to make.

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Voilà! Delicious, nutritious, and we did it together.

Cooking in our kitchen, we always smile when we think of the German kitchen we attempted to cook in and how it was a little problematic to not have an oven or microwave. Moving back to our home, we gained a new appreciation for all that we have – a completed kitchen! What’s even funnier is pre-Germany we would drive to the local grocery store and now we resort to our “German ways” and walk the five minute walk. We laugh that it probably took us longer to get in the car, drive there and find a spot, rather than just using our two legs.

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The above kitchen pictures are from my original condo, just below our current home. A couple months ago we put it up for sale, and received an offer after only 15 days! We will close on Tuesday and hand over the keys to a newly married couple. They sent us a hand-written letter explaining as soon as the front door opened, they knew this place would be their home. The wild thing is that’s exactly how I felt the first time the front door opened, too.

Little did I know five days after moving in I would meet my neighbor Kevin, and a couple weeks later we would go on our first date. That night I knew this was my guy and I could not wait to call him forever mine. Next month we will celebrate three years of marriage.

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At the beginning of this year, I wrote a post on setting the intention for change and I said the follow statement:

“Change is coming, but that doesn’t mean life should stop. It’s quite the opposite. It’s a sign to slip on the cute shiny pumps, pop the good bottle of champagne, and keep moving forward. Our plan is to continue creating as many memories as possible and I know when we look back on our precious time abroad, we will have no regrets.”

Definitely no regrets and we did live it up.

Moving home we’ve had so much to celebrate – a couple of birthdays, births of friend’s babies, two weddings in California, and even a visit from a friend who still lives in Frankfurt.

I’ve even had my heart melt when my Frankfurt girls brought me out to dinner…

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Seriously, I’m beyond lucky and every single day I find gratitude and thanks.

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“Be where you are, not where you think you should be.”

We are living proof that you can move abroad and flourish. I think if you have a dream – do what you can to make it happen. If someone would have told me when I bought the condo that I would be living in Frankfurt less than two years later, teaching yoga full-time and traveling Europe with my love, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.

Like anything else in life, when you are handed certain cards, you learn to play the hand you’re given. For me, I found love and that love translated into an incredible husband, many fulfilling friendships, and countless memories I will cherish throughout this lifetime.

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This is not goodbye, but rather ‘until we see each other again’. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those of you that took this journey with us. We loved German living and we love American living. One is not better than the other, it’s just different. No matter where life takes you, always remember to trust that it will work out exactly how it’s supposed to.

auf Wiedersehen,

Jess xx

The Greatest Gift

Two years of life abroad, and before the big move to Frankfurt, we knew traveling would be high up on our list of to-do’s.

I remember in March 2014, I was still living in the U.S. and Kevin was already six hours ahead in Germany. He excitedly called to say, “I booked our first trip!”. He wanted to show me how easy it was to travel from Frankfurt, and within a four-hour train ride we arrived in Paris. You’re probably thinking I had plenty of time to settle into this new life in Frankfurt before taking this trip. Umm…Yeah, not so much. Five days after arriving in this new city, we were boarding the train.

It’s pretty funny looking back and hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing.

This was the first of many trips during our two years of newly married life abroad. The amount of trips we took could be counted on seven hands, and all can be found under the travels section on this blog. We decided to take our travels full circle, and since we began in Paris – this is where we would end.

We took this final trip over Valentine’s Day weekend of this year, and today I have finally decided it’s been put off long enough. I have mixed emotions as I sit and write this out – don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the experiences we’ve had. On the other hand, admittedly, it’s sad. Along the way, I’ve learned a few lessons from these travels and I’m happy to share them here.

There is beauty all around you.

Whether it’s an ethereal sunset, the cut of fresh flowers, or the majestic view of the mountains – there is beauty all around you. Sure, you can travel to Paris and walk around for hours, taking in the exquisite architecture of each Parisian building. Surrounding yourself with beauty is not hard here, but the good news, you can find that beauty anywhere you go.

Keep your eyes open.

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There is something about traveling to a new place that at least for us, helped us to see the world through fresh, new eyes. In this picture, we were in search of a French bakery that was known for their delicious cupcakes. Sadly, when we found the building, we learned the bakery moved to a bigger location. As I looked at the building, I discovered a sticker from my alma mater, all the way from Conway, South Carolina.

Discover your favorite thing.

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Don’t worry, we more than made up for not finding those delicious cupcakes. To me, there is something about a pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant), walking the streets of Paris, in the pouring rain. It’s called perfection.

Try new foods.

This was a huge change for me living abroad. I was borderline vegetarian (with the occasional seafood) and I quickly realized our new city was not ideal for this type of lifestyle. I decided to become more open about food choices and I’ve loved the variety of new foods with pure enjoyment.

Be open to new experiences.

When we found out the French Masterchef 2012 winner, Jean-Yves offers a unique 4-course dining experience in his home, we simply couldn’t pass up this opportunity on Valentine’s Day.

Photo courtesy of Jean-Yves

Photo courtesy of Chef Jean-Yves

Madame Butterfly Rolls (Chicken grilled with lemongrass, wrapped in rice paper)

Photo courtesy of Jean-Yves

Photo courtesy of Chef Jean-Yves

Imperial raviolis (Raviolis with prawns/tofu and wild mushrooms in a Sabayon sauce)
Photo courtesy of Jean-Yves

Photo courtesy of Chef Jean-Yves

Ducky Duck (Duck breast Rossini grilled with “foie gras” + sweet potato mousseline cream + zucchini cake)
Photo courtesy of Chef Jean-Yves

Photo courtesy of Chef Jean-Yves

French Macaron (Home made with raspberry and Passion fruit/melon ganache)

If you find yourself in Paris and are looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, you won’t be disappointed. We shared this dinner with four other guests, and it was so cool to embark on this foodie adventure with them.

When you can, book airbnb.

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When Kevin and I began to date in April 2012, we started using airbnb every time we traveled. We prefer this method of lodging because it’s more affordable than a hotel, and more importantly, it gives off a more local feel. Going into this last trip, we opted for a shared space, and we were pleasantly surprised with breakfast both mornings.

The view from our room was absolutely breathtaking.

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The greatest gift.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

Each trip has taught me how to be in the present moment, and to fully appreciate each minute. We knew our life abroad wouldn’t last forever, so we made the decision from the start to live it up. We have learned how to pack our bags light, for you will always need less than what you think.

I’ve lost count how many times we’ve heard from Europeans that we have seen more of their continent than they have. Funny thing is, if tables were turned, the same would be true for Europeans embarking on their life abroad. After traveling abroad, it has opened our eyes to seeing even more of our home country.

Above all, the biggest takeaway and greatest gift is knowing I don’t have to travel to exotic places to find adventure. Each day is a chance to take a leap, step out of the familiar comfort zone, and be grateful for this life path. People come into your life for a reason, and it’s easy to see they all serve some sort of purpose.

Meet new people. See the world you want to see. Discover your purpose. And do it all with an open heart.

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Photo by Abbi Wensyel.