April 21, 2015

The Versatility of Blogging

I love blogging.

Technically, I started What Up, Swags?! when I moved overseas for my first volleyball contract in 2011. But I've been steadily journaling since I was 13 years old, so I feel like I've been "blogging" a lot longer than just four years. It reminds me a lot of my two years as yearbook editor in high school, and my teenage dream of becoming a journalist has somewhere to play.

Aside from the presence of writing in my life, the idea that Volleyball = Travel has been my reality since I was . . . four years old! Sure, I wasn't on teams until I was 10 or 11, but my parents were coaches, and a 3-hour team road trip was normal. High school volleyball trips took me to Europe for the first time, college volleyball and coaching camps flew me all over the USA (free trips to Alaska and Hawaii!), Canada, and even to the Dominican Republic.

All that to say, whether my life as an expat athlete/coach abroad lasts two more months or two more decades, What Up, Swags?! is going to be here for a really, really long time. It has become how I "scrapbook," preserving great memories, but also serving as a reminder to who I was, who I am, and who I am becoming. Volleyball and sport will always be a part of my life in some form or another, so no matter where I end up, travel will always be on the agenda . . . and on the blog!


Which brings me to this fun kind of "pay it forward" award of the "Versatile Blogger!" Phoebe from the Lou Messugo Blog so kindly nominated me, and I'm thrilled to share this honor with several great bloggers!

I "met" Phoebe through her totally awesome #AllAboutFrance monthly blog link-up that she started a few months ago. The link-up has served as an excellent resource for all things French, and I'm so thankful she has taken the time to host for all of us Francophiles!

Phoebe, an expat her entire life, lives where all of us want to live: on the Côte d'Azur, and runs a beautiful gite (the French name for a holiday rental) that you should all check out! The thing I noticed right away and really appreciate about Phoebe is her global perspective on life. You've got to read her "7 interesting facts" because they will blow your mind! I can't wait to meet her in person someday, preferably while enjoying the sunshine and good life in the South of France.

The way this Versatile Blogger thing works is pretty easy:
-you display the badge;
-write a post linking back to the nominating blogger;
-write 7 interesting facts about yourself;
-nominate up to a maximum of 15 other versatile bloggers and say why you've nominated them;
-and make sure your nominees know they've been nominated!

Thanks again to Phoebe for the nomination, and on to my 7 interesting facts (also known as: what makes me different)!

7 Interesting Facts

1) "Swags" is not some silly attempt to be cool. My last name is actually "Swagerty," and "Swags" has been the nickname of choice for everyone in my entire family. We don't call each other "Swags," though, that would get confusing. We've been called "Swag," "Swags," and "Swaggy," at least since the 1950's, and way before anybody thought it sounded rad in a rap song.

2) The Eiffel Tower is my favorite place in the entire world - and I will never go to the very top. I don't understand the point of climbing to a view of Paris without the Eiffel Tower. The only time I just went to the old first level (now the second level after some refurbishing), I ran into a couple from my 1000-person private university. It was all too weird, and I won't dare go all the way up for fear of my odds of running into someone from my even smaller high school!

3) My job in France is to play and coach volleyball. I literally "work" about 15 hours a week. Best way to understand my life is like a free European vacation with some exercise. I've added things to my life after four years here, but when there's no English tutoring, and the French students go on their long holidays, it really feels like retirement in my twenties. Bummer.

4) I have never been drunk, and therefore have never had a hangover. I was always that athlete who didn't party. I had my first alcoholic drink five months after I turned 21, and thought it tasted like bad medicine. France has gently transformed me into a wine-lover, but I'm just never thirsty enough to drink "too much." I never have to drink alcohol to "have a good time," I can rest in the fact that I remember everything from every great time I've ever had, and I never have to feel like garbage the next morning.

5) I don't Facebook. I was the right age when it first stormed the college scene back in 2004, but finally brought myself to delete all of my data and account last year. Changed my password to something insane I could only remember in the moment, so the chance to reactivate my account is happily long gone also. The "news feed" drove me crazy and it didn't help my perceptions of anyone. It has been one of the best decisions in my life, and my blog (and life) has survived just fine without it.

6) Before I moved to Europe, the only food I really felt comfortable "cooking" was Kraft macaroni and cheese. Yes, the one in the blue box that even 7-year-olds can make on their own. I'd never been motivated to learn, due mostly to avoiding the stereotype of "women who cook and clean" and laziness. But my first home in Belgium didn't have a microwave or an oven, the stores didn't have mac-and-cheese, and I was finally forced to buy real food and make real meals. The gift of cooking is one of the wonderful things I'm thankful to have learned since moving overseas!

7) If I ever get the chance to live south of the equator, I hope it's in Uruguay or Australia. In my mind, I prefer Uruguay for the opportunity to really learn Spanish, but I'll happily move to either locale.

And the nominees are...

Courtney will take you through Spain and the rest of the world through a gluten-free and gorgeous photo perspective.

The Thrifty Gypsy's Travels
Katrina does an excellent job showing off Virginia, the East Coast, and her free time travels around Europe.

Lauren on Location
Lauren will take you everywhere, and will make you want to go again and again.

Pretty Thing & Co 
Madaline does a beautiful job talking about Italy, and how to travel well with her adorable little girl, Florence.

Power Couple Life
Basically anything and everything about travel all over the world, from a couple's motivated perspective.

The Sunny Side of This
Isabel is one of those incredibly interesting people; a Mexican fluent in English who married a Slovenian, and shares her amazing - and relatively undiscovered - slice of Europe she calls home now.

Au Lit?
Holly is an Australian married to a Frenchman, and has the most extensive log of French châteaux I've ever seen.

Crumbs in the Bed
Kerri is a Brit studying her PhD in Belgium and she is laugh-out-loud funny about travel and life.

Bethany Carlson
Bethany is a photographer who just recently relocated to China with her husband and cats. Her honesty shines through her words and photos in all the best ways.

I hope you check out these other great bloggers, and everyone can pass it on to another round of awesome people!

For "How I Travel," check out the series here. Next week takes me to Sweden and Norway, on a spontaneous trip to visit a former volleyball player of mine! (I'm still in a bit of shock that I'm really going to Scandinavia in a week!)