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

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“We celebrate life when we celebrate Thanksgiving. We celebrate peace and camaraderie; devotion and reverence; melding cultures and making friendships. We nourish our bodies with the amazing bounty of the autumn’s harvest, and we nourish our hearts and souls with laughter, conviviality, acceptance and love. Gratitude takes center stage as we rejoice in the astounding blessings of this amazing life.” – Corina Benner, beautiful words from my beautiful yin yoga teacher that perfectly described our Saturday evening.

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I met Alissa nearly one year ago when she and her Mom took my yoga class. Her Mom was visiting from Charleston, SC where Alissa grew up and finding out she was from the south, I had a feeling we would become friends. She moved to Frankfurt for her job and also writes a cute blog to update family and friends on how she’s doing. “The CURIOUS Ginger” is worth checking out and you can find it here. She is smart, incredibly witty and a fantastic cook, so when she suggested Friendsgiving to celebrate Thanksgiving, we were in.

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Just a few weeks ago, Alissa and I took a yoga class and when we came out I heard a girl speaking American English. Without hesitating, I asked, “Where are you from?”. Rachel moved here from Salt Lake City and has lived around the States.  A couple of days later, Rachel took my class and afterwards we exchanged our contact info. It has been so great getting to know her and it was exciting that she and her husband Mayk joined this Friendsgiving.

Just before dinner started, one of Alissa’s co-workers joined us, too. Her name is Yasmin and she moved here from Canada just a couple of weeks ago. It was so fun to see her sweet excitement for this new chapter in her life.

We all brought a little something with us to contribute to this delicious feast.

Rachel doing the honor of carving the turkey.

Rachel having the honor of carving the turkey.

Now for the menu…

Starters:

Soup: made of chestnuts, onions, butter, soy milk, salt, pepper, paprika powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and vegetable broth.

Veggie platter with dip: cream cheese, mayo, cucumbers and lemon, cayenne, salt and pepper.

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Main Course:

Turkey: rubbed with macadamia nut oil and stuffed with lemon, garlic, shallot, fresh thyme, rosemary and sage.

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Sweet potatoes: boiled, then mixed in coconut milk, an egg, some maple syrup, topped with pecans and baked until warm.

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Green Beans: with Dijon mustard, garlic, thyme and toasted almonds

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Additional foods:

Kale Salad

Cranberry Sauce – made with cranberries, blueberries, orange zest and sugar

Stuffing: sautéed onions, mushrooms, apples, celery, gluten free bread, fresh thyme, rosemary and sage.
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Dessert:
Pumpkin Pie: almond flour, coconut flour, teff flour (gluten free Ethiopian grain) and coconut oil crust. filling: one pumpkin, baked and mashed with 2 eggs, coconut oil and spices.
Pecan Pie Bites: almond flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, pecans and dates all mixed together and baked.
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Beverages:
Various Red Wines
Cider: apple cider with cinnamon sticks, cloves, apples, oranges, champagne and vodka
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Kevin was in his glory sharing one of our favorite beers from Charlotte.
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When our bellies were full, we sat around and enjoyed each other’s company. At some point Rachel asked, “What’s your favorite characteristic about yourself”? We heard all kinds of answers from “I like that I can talk to anyone by finding a common ground”, “I like that I am witty”, “I like that I have a warmness that attracts people into my life”. What an amazing way to demonstrate love towards ourselves, but also how we can give that love to others.
Last Thanksgiving, Kevin and I didn’t know these four amazing people. We feel so incredibly lucky to know them now…sharing our friendship with this memorable Friendsgiving.
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(L to R): Rachel, Mayk, Alissa, Yasmin, Kevin and Jess.