Well to say this week was a doozy might be a small understatement. You can bet as female, small business owners we’ve been paying attention. One thing we can say for sure was that no matter the outcome, the acknowledgement of empathy and kindness to your fellow human has been uplifting. We’ve been reading stories of how people went out to just do good in the form of purchasing coats for refugee families, filling meals for hurricane victims, or just giving a smile to a stranger. So in true Jack style we’re going to do some good by giving the world a little creativity and inspiration!
Recently Lindsay and myself were able to fly off to Europe to enjoy a trip full of new experiences, eye-opening places, and some of the kindest people we’ve encountered. One Jack had never been out of the country, so holy cats, there goes the questions waterfall.
“How do you say thanks? You eat pizza without your hands & whole?! Who runs this fast during a drinking game? There’s a built in nap-time? Where’s the ice cubes? Really, that’s all I tip?”
On and on she went. The other Jack had never been to Europe, but let’s face it, she kept it together way better (here’s the game- guess who’s who).
So what truly inspired us while we travelled? For me the first thing that gave a new perspective was the sheer amount of history behind the places we went. Reading about a place or event and physically being there and seeing how the world has kept trekking along is a totally different experience. The human experience that correlated with these places was even more to me than just the place. I can explain this easiest with the Gedächtniskirche in Berlin. Here you have an intentional reminder of what man can do, here you have irrefutable evidence of what man has done, and yet here you have the busy city streets of people living life. You have respect for past, present, and future flowing all around you.
As where past and present mingle together in Berlin, we could write an entire post on the purely medieval sites we traversed too. But I’ll spare you that right now. Instead I’ll tell you about how the world’s oldest rose bush is situated within an amazingly symmetrical courtyard that creates beautiful angles if you just look. Or the stones that created a fortress wall in the 1400’s create such an intriguing pattern today. There were painted buildings, brightly colored doors, and color palette worthy rooftops.
Of course the history and atmosphere was overwhelming for someone who only has 200 years of history in their homeland, but even more inspiring were the people we met along the way. How about the gaggle of circus performers in Berlin. Jugglers, trapeze artist, diablo performers, all devoted masters’ of their craft. Or the muralist creating art in Madagascar, the retired police officer who played tour guide gracefully and eagerly while his wife fed us unbelievable meals, or the welcoming AirBnB hosts that allowed us to live like locals.
And if being a foreigner opening a business in a new country isn’t justification enough for inspiration, you need to go try an ice cream sandwich and a coffee.
I’ll mention one more time being a self-employed small business owner (oh and female) to preface why this next person stops the press for us on inspiration. On a small tree-lined street in Prenzlauer Berg is a unique little space shining in teal, backing the former resting place of the Berlin Wall, and outfitted with just the simplest touch of some Wisconsin-love, changing the ice cream sandwich game in Berlin. Cookies and Cream is the brain child of Katie Cantwell and her newest location is the proof of hard work and dedication. She’s an expat from right here in Wisconsin, but did not let a little thing like government hurdles stop her from opening this beautiful shop overseas.
With a healthy dose of inspiration, let’s move on to creativity. Something the streets and alleys of Barcelona did not lack in. Getting lost in the maze of artistic alleyways the Gothic Quarter offered could have kept us entertained for far more than the 4 days we were there. And we definitely got lost. But exploring the old layout of the city and the new art each wall or shop so proudly spewed, only made it that much easier for the the city to steal our hearts. If there was a place to recommend, I’d be likely to say “Barcelona, Barcelona, Barcelona!”
Photography by one of our favorite collaborators Ian Peldonia. Check him on Instagram.
We were inspired, we were creatively recharged, and we had a plethora of new experiences to add to our lists. But what we both took away the most were the the smaller moments where you’d look around and see people of all backgrounds, from all over, smiling over a simple meal, getting to know what makes one another tick. Because when you take a moment to listen, you can truly start to understand it all. Creativity, inspiration, kindness, empathy, it doesn’t matter – go out today and spread something good to someone who seems like they need it. In the end we’re all in this together so do your little part to make sure that we keep moving forward.