The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Jessica

I’ve always believed that life is a playground, a bright place where we can be free – to laugh, to cry, to see, to hear, to love, and to hurt. A life enthusiast is one who plays with a sense of abandon, like a child who is awe-inspired by every little thing. 

After pussyfooting around for some time, I’m finally starting this monthly guest series…The Life Enthusiast Chronicles. In these posts lovely individuals will share what makes them all gung ho about life. 

First up is Jessica Korteman, a blogger pal of mine over at Notes of Nomads who, together with her genius photographer husband Hai, deliver the magnificence of travel. Jessica is very much the epitome of a life enthusiast. Indiana Jones in female form, she traipses around the world, fearless and full of grace, showing the rest of us at home how authentically beautiful people and places truly are.

Connect with Jessica at Notes of Nomads on Twitter and Facebook.

Take it away, Jess…

When Britt asked me to be a part of her new ‘Life Enthusiast’ series, I couldn’t have been happier to be involved. 

Not only is she one of my personal inspirations, I simply loved the concept – a series that focuses on positivity and taking life by the proverbial horns, one of my personal mottos!

Take out a pen and write down the things that make you happy, and I guarantee the affirmation of putting them to paper will change something in you.

Here are some of my penned thoughts that make me enthusiastic about life and everything in it. Woot! Woot!

1. A new stamp in my passport

As a traveller, there’s something so immensely satisfying about getting a new stamp in my passport. It’s not so much the material thing, although some can be pretty cool to look at(!), it’s what they represent. Another stamp equals another country visited, a new culture experienced, more foreign foods eaten and special friends made.

With this stamp, I know a little bit more about this amazing world we live in. It’s a visual representation of all the places I have been, but also of all the places I have yet to see. “Oh, the places you’ll go!” Even Dr. Seuss knew that was something to get excited about!

Stamp in passport

Getting stamped. In the past four months, I’ve used about 15% of my new passport already!

 2. Being lost in translation

This may sound like an odd thing to say, but I absolutely love the feeling of being lost (as in having no idea) in another culture. Living in Japan for four years, I got used to being in an almost constant state of not-knowingness and I was completely comfortable with that. Far from causing stress, it just fascinated and challenged me further.

I think I was the only person who floated out of the local post office proud as punch with myself for successfully getting through a conversation about an overseas package, insurance and that letter I needed to send. They may sound like small, even tiresome, tasks to a local or someone well versed in a language, but for me, I had just completed this goal I set myself in a foreign land, in a foreign language, and I did it!

And, believe me, supermarket shopping doesn’t get any more fun than when you can’t read the packaging! Sure, it can be hit and miss, but I love that adventure! You get super creative and you find so many gems that you probably would never have tried if you could understand and just stuck to what you know.

Lost in translation

Taiyaki – a waffle cake in the shape of a fish with various fillings. What will be inside this one?

 3. A hot cup of tea

I’m a big tea drinker. Everything feels that bit better with a hot cup of tea, don’t you think? It wakes you up, revives, lulls you to sleep and brings friends together. It’s those small moments you take for yourself that give you what you need to conquer life’s bigger stuff, and I’m a big believer in “smelling the roses” as they say.

Cup of tea

A hot cup of goodness at one of my favourite cafés in Tokyo.

 4. The changing of the seasons

I adore that period of change between the seasons. There are some temperatures I prefer to be sure, but there is something I love about every season and the changing weather makes me excited for all the special things about that time of year – holidays, events, different foods and a change of wardrobe!

It’s the very fleeting nature of seasons that make us appreciate them. The brief appearance of the blooming cherry blossoms in Japan has to be one of the most beautiful and energizing things you’ll experience.

Despite seeing them every year, the Japanese never grow tired of them.  There’s always an air of excitement as locals monitor the cherry blossom front and prepare for their “hanami” – cherry blossom viewing – parties! Everyone takes time to admire them and you value this shared time with family and friends.

In the tsunami affected area of Ishinomaki, the blooming cherry blossoms have become a symbol of hope and recovery.

In the tsunami affected area of Ishinomaki, the blooming cherry blossoms have become a symbol of hope and recovery.

5. Being helped by a stranger

Nothing restores my faith in humanity more than a helping hand from a stranger. It’s these wonderful, unexpected moments of kindness that have shaped some of my most precious travel memories.

The selflessness of these generous strangers continues to inspire me to pay it forward. If we put positive energy out there into the universe, the world is generally a happier and better place, wouldn’t you agree?

Helped by stranger

Being helped across an icy cold river by one of the “pony men” in the Indian Himalayas.

Have you reached for that pen yet? Do any of the same things make you tick? I’d love to know in the comments section below!

33 thoughts on “The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Jessica

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Oh, my, I could say the same for all of these. I love to travel and immerse myself in other cultures, but there are still so many places I’d love to go.

    Great idea for a blog series. Now I’m off to plan my next trip… 😉

  2. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    there’s definitely no better words to describe Jessica than “life enthusiast”! and those 5 little things that make her happy are also completely on my list but now, I’d have to think about some others too not to be a complete copycat! 😉
    Happy trails to all!
    Enjoy every day!
    Jul’

  3. Letizia says:

    I love this list! From a new stamp in one’s passport to the cup of tea, fantastic! I love looking through my old passports even – seeing those old stamps immediately transports me back to old journeys. And there’s nothing like a wonderful cup of tea. I recently received some amazing Chinese tea (the name completely escapes me now) and I try to take a moment of each day to sit quietly and drink it meditatively (is that a word?).

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yep! Jessica’s list is hard to beat.

      I’m sad/excited to begin a new passport next year. In all of its maple leaf glory, Montreal was my last stamp. When I drink tea, I feel so damn good. I don’t understand why it’s so magical, I just drink it all the time and enjoy.

      Meditatively is an awesome word!

  4. Browsing the Atlas says:

    Britt, you picked the perfect person to introduce this series. I recently had the good fortune to meet Jessica and Hai in person and she is just as beautiful as person as she seems.

    I think she and I are kindred spirits. I try to get at least one new stamp in my passport every year, love trying foods that I don’t have a clue about, and love getting lost in translation, or just lost on the streets. But I must say – I’m more about the coffee than tea. That’s where Jessica and I part ways. 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yay! Jessica love time! Yes, Juliann…she is super amazing and I can’t wait to have a beer with that gal one day soon.

      You travelistas are very much kindred spirits. I follow both of your blogs religiously, my sneaky way of traveling from home. I’m a fan of getting lost, too. Doesn’t bother me one bit.

      I love coffee and tea on similar levels, I’d say. I can’t pick my favorite, so I won’t. It’s like Sophie’s choice! : )

    • Jessica Korteman says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Juliann. It was so lovely to finally meet you in person in Ireland. Hope we get the chance to do it again soon and catch up more over a tea, coffee, or both 😉 And we’ll get that Britt along too! 🙂

  5. Andrea Stephenson says:

    Great idea for a series Britt, this was such a lovely post that makes you happy to be alive just reading it! And talking of things that make you happy, a good book is one of these – I’ve finished reading Beneath the Satin Gloves and thoroughly recommend it to all those reading this – exciting, intriguing, fast-paced, a wonderful protagonist and a really enjoyable read.

    • Jessica Korteman says:

      I know it sounds like a crazy thing to like! It’s not a feeling that everyone feels comfortable with (naturally! :)), but once you get to a place of being comfortable within uncertainty (if that makes sense?), the world shifts and it’s the freest feeling in the world! 🙂

  6. karinvandenbergh says:

    Hi Britt & Jessica, Andrea Stephenson inspired me to visit your blog and what a great post and super idea for a blog series!
    I’m totally on the same plane from the new stamp in my passport to tea indulgence 🙂 I absolutely love to travel. I have worked for a tour operator a couple of years ago and got the chance to travel quite a bit I still kept those old expired passports just for the trace of footprints left behind 😉
    I also moved a couple of times (originally from Belgium) and now happily living in New England where the seasons are so distinctively present..
    Love it!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Hey, Karen! Thanks for coming over! Passports and tea rock my world, too. I’m sad that I have to start up a new passport this year, but I look forward to filling it with new adventures and shall forever look back at my old one.

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