Looking back on 2012

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I know we’re almost two weeks into 2013, but I wanted to take my time for a few days and really gather my thoughts for this little moment of reflection.

2012 was such a year of big changes and happenings for me.  Looking back, it’s hard to believe where I am now, vs. this time a year ago.

I remember how scared I was last February when I up and left for my two months in Europe.  I felt so emotional and nervous when my mom was driving me to the airport.  Actually, I was kind of terrified.  But you know what?  I did it!  I went, and lived on my own, and made connections and new friends.  I went to other countries and saw things I had never seen before.  It was truly liberating!  It made me realize I wanted so much more .

(Kind of like Belle in Beauty and the Beast when she’s singing “I want adventure in the great wide somewheeeere….I want it more than I can tell…!)

While living abroad for two months,  I came to see that I wanted to stay in Europe – the cultural and historical home of art and MUSIC – the land of ancient empires and civilizations.  I had laid the groundwork by securing an agent and getting some auditions – it would be giving up on something potentially magnificent to let it all go.  So I’m giving it another shot and hoping to really take things to another level when I’m living over there.  I truly truly hope that I can build a life in the singing and travel careers (while living abroad.)  I love both of these fields so much.  (So if you’re looking to take a trip, I’m still hoping you’ll use me as your travel agent!  I really want to help you!  (And it doesn’t matter where you or I live – it’s all done via email and phone now anyway – plus I can Skype with ANY of my clients at any time.)

My eyes were even more opened this past year to the fact that there truly are angels out there helping us along our journey – giving us gentle nudges in the right direction.  (Or sometimes big shoves!)  Feel free to scroll past this paragraph if talking about that kind of subject is totally not your thing – I fully respect that people have different beliefs, and that’s cool with me!  But I’ve known for quite awhile now that my late grandfather was still around helping me with stuff here and there – he gave me a huge sign a few years ago that kept me from quitting the music business during a rough spell.  But then for some time, I felt that his presence wasn’t as much front and center.  I knew in my heart he was around, but sort of watching from afar.  And then…. I first started feeling him a LOT closer to me when I was in Disney in June of 2011.  No big signs or anything – only the one night while watching the fireworks over Magic Kingdom, I just felt Pop-Pop with me SO strongly that I began to cry.  It hit me out of the blue.  He was there and he was going to be sticking around for awhile.  He knew I was going to be needing him.  Then throughout all of this last year, he’s given me blatant signs that led me to decisions that significantly impacted my life in so many ways.  I felt him near me more than I ever had.  When I had doubts about things, he sent me reassurances.  When I needed to make a decision, he sent signs to steer me to the right choice.  When I needed to be reminded of something, he took care of that too.  (And I have to say, he really seems to like Miloš.)

On that note, I would be remiss to leave out the incredible stuff going on in my personal life this past year.   In the fall of 2011, when I invited Miloš to come visit me in Vienna last February, I did so with no preconceived notions of what it could lead to.  I did not want to create any expectations in any way.  I just knew it felt right to invite him, and I wanted to see him again – especially after all of our increasing amounts of FB messaging back and forth as the months progressed since our first meeting that summer of 2011.  But as my good friend Jordan kept telling me, “a lot can happen in a week.”  (She said that to me many times before I left for my trip – since Miloš was staying with me for a week in Vienna.)  Well, it turns out she was right – a lot CAN happen in a week – at least when it comes to starting up something really great.  Now almost a year later, I’ve got an awesome boyfriend in my life who seems to love going on adventures as much as I do.  (And thankfully he has exceptional taste, as he is also a sci-fi fan like myself!)   I’m super excited to be spending my birthday later this month in Croatia with him!  (I’ll be in Croatia for two weeks before settling into my apartment in Vienna.)  I will admit that the long-distance thing has not been without its challenges, but he’s definitely shown himself to be worth it, if you ask me.  😉

As for a totally other topic, packing for a big move like this is darn near impossible!  I need to pack winter AND summer clothes.  Shoes for winter AND summer.  Jewelry.  Coats and jackets.  Toiletries (’cause they’re so damn pricey in Europe.)  Work stuff.  My laptop.  Music.  MAKE-UP!   I am having one hell of a time trying to narrow down my clothes to what will fit into two suitcases.  Yup – that’s all that’s going with me – TWO!  That and a carry-on.  *Gulp!*  Heaven help me!  (Adding that yesterday I bought a box at Staples so I can ship myself some things – just couldn’t make the two suitcases work.)

And then once I’m there, I have to hope and pray that all goes well, and I can get a Visa to stay in Europe – either through securing a more standard type of job or gig, or by getting an Artist Visa.  Please cross your fingers for me and hope that it all works out!  (I’m planning to have my first audition in February – for Disneyland Paris.)

Unless something comes up totally unexpected in the work world, I do plan to be back in the States for the next caroling season – to sing and run the business.  I’m still also really hoping to increase my travel agent work and expand my clientele – big time.  I feel that I finally found work that to me is almost as fun and rewarding as singing.  (Not quite there at the same level, but the closest I’ve ever found to a 2nd place!)  However, it’s a sporadic income, as it’s all commission based, and well, you only get paid when people travel.  I’m determined to find out how to increase that from being sporadic to being regular and increasingly successful.  It is a top goal of mine for 2013!

And more than anything, I’ve learned that life is nothing without friendship, love, and kindness.  I am blessed to have these riches in my life.  Perhaps it’s rather Pollyanna of me, but I really do feel that the more good you put out into the world, the more good will come to you.  As the saying goes, Karma is a bitch.  If you are cruel or mean to people, it will come back to bite you in the ass.  (What goes around comes around people!)  Success should be won honorably, not through dishonesty or stealing.  Treat people with kindness and respect.  When push comes to shove, always strive to “do the right thing.”   And perhaps it’s the Aquarius in me talking, but loyalty is key in finding success as well.  If someone goes to bat for me, I’ll never forget it, nor take it for granted.  And then seriously – I said it in a previous note from awhile back – it’s as simple as the Golden Rule.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Hey – you wouldn’t like it if someone did such-and-such to you?  Well, don’t do it to them!  Where is the difficulty in this concept?  Don’t tear others down if you’re jealous of what they have.  Don’t be mean to others to make yourself feel better.  I have never understood how some people can be so cruel to others, and I never will.

Lastly, I want to remind everyone out there to take chances.  In life, in love, in your career, in whatever.  It is scary as hell, but life is short!   Do it now!  Do what you’ve been meaning to do.  Say what you’ve been meaning to say.  An existence of procrastinating or playing it safe will leave you with nothing but a whole lot of regret at the end.  Laugh!  Love!  Explore!  Live!


Here are some of my favorite quotes about adventures from “The Hobbit.”  So many of these can be applied to the world we live in today and the choices that we make….

“There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.”

“It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.”

“The road goes ever on and on”

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”

And my favorite from the movie:

Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back.
Bilbo Baggins: You can promise that I will come back?
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same.


Photo of author
Jennifer was initially drawn to Europe for two reasons: music and love.  She lived in Vienna for four years, and now calls Croatia home for much of each year, as she married a native Croatian. Since 2015, Jennifer has worked as a tour director and cruise director on European river cruises for a major American travel company, and has become an expert in all of the cities along her routes on the Danube, Rhine, and Main Rivers. She also has traveled to Disney World almost every year since 1985, and knows Disney World inside and out. As a travel agent, Disney World is her primary specialty, and she has helped many Disney newbies and veterans have amazing trips with her insider information.

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