We had 6 weeks of class together and hung out 5 times. I might not ever see him again because he’s from a different country than me. But in our goodbyes, on my birthday, he told me that I changed his world and he sees himself differently now in the mirror. This is what it’s all about folks. Going on adventures and making people’s lives better.

My Tattoo is My Gift

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I have a gift. People who know me well have told me I have a gift. Someone once told me this after meeting them for less than 10 minutes. “I really do have a gift” is what I would tell myself after that. I tried to say it enough so that eventually I wouldn’t have to say it. I would know it.

Now I really know it. I have a gift with people. I have met and been welcomed into the corners of people’s lives everywhere I go. It just happens to me really. I told myself years ago that I can make the world a better place just by a handshake and dammit I’ve been doing just that. Taking time to enjoy my time and to be away from everything I know has allowed me to live with and rely on that. What I mean by the corners of people’s lives is that people tend to take their walls down and unarm themselves when they’re with me. I have learned the darkest secrets of people’s lives by sitting and nodding my head.

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Hagia Sophia of Istanbul

www.Amsterdon.com

The Basilica Cistern of Istanbul

I most certainly have done a lot in the past 9 months. More importantly, I am starting to like myself a lot.

As I lose two phones in the span of two months, I also lost a bunch of my photos. Here are a random collection of ones I’ve managed to save.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Vivan Greene

At moments it’s a leap forward, then a couple of steps back, but then I realize it’s not really a step back but a dance move I’ve invented

Holla from Holland

A Firefighter’s 9/11 Away From Home

My first 9/11 away from the US. How evermore chilling it is to understand what global the effects were. How not only Americans, but Europeons dropped what they were doing in complete disarray of what they witnessed.

When I wear my fire department t-shirt around Europe, people sometimes ask me about it. It’s interesting to get the same praise from people who have never stepped foot on American soil. When I asked my Dutch girlfriend why she thinks American Firefighters receive so much recognition from non-Americans, she tells me that it’s because of 9/11.

I recently moved into a neighborhood in Amsterdam with a Muslim majority population. My neighbor genuinely started conversation with me when I arrived and continues to do so with much enthusiasm and warmth. He tells me he thinks America is so cool and wishes to visit. My girlfriend tells me that it’s common for Muslims here in Holland to have a liking for the US. It’s been quite an experience so far.

With that said, I too remember 9/11 and the craziness that went down. Today I again wear my fire department shirt because of the 343 uniformed men and women who went down with those towers as well as the countless un-uniformed and uncounted for. This year I’m more proud of the fire service in a different way. Because we don’t ever forget.

Bittersweet

It’s my favorite flavor as of late. So many great things that have come and gone. Not just faces, but places that needed some time to become familiar. The countless times I felt lost and the countless times I actually was lost. How fucking awesome it’s been.

To try and imagine what my life was before is difficult at times. Certain days I don’t recognize myself. When my best friend visited 2 months ago, he couldn’t believe the leaps and bounds I took in my development.

It’s the start of the new semester. There are 800 incoming international students that are just as flustered yet incredibly stimulated as I was several months ago. Volunteering to be their guide helped freshen my memory about how I could not have possibly imagined what lied ahead of me. Some say I’m living the dream. That’s not accurate enough. I’ve never dreamed it could be this fucking awesome.

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