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The Day The Earth Stood Still, In A Good Way by Rachel Abrahams

I celebrated a significant 20th Anniversary recently for the longest relationship I’ve ever had (outside of my marriage). I have been completely and totally in love with Tori Amos and her music for 20 years. 20 freaking years. Sometimes there is a musician or artist out there who grabs ahold of your heart and, no matter how life shifts and moves, stays with you for your lifetime. For me, it’s been Tori Amos.

Tower Bridge - London, England

Tower Bridge - London, England

Now, I am perfectly aware some of you may have no idea who Tori Amos is or you do know and she is definitely not your cup of tea. So I ask, what is the thing that rocked your world and has stayed by your side through all of your life changes? A musician, artist, book, poet, city; anything that when you are in their presence you just feel like they complete you. Wait, that’s cheesy. They are your spirit animal (that’s better) and you remember the first time you experienced it like it was yesterday. That’s what I am talking about. Now you can relate, right?

When I think of Tori Amos, it reminds of a scene from the movie Love Actually:

Harry: What is this we're listening to?

Karen: Joni Mitchell.

Harry: I can't believe you still listen to Joni Mitchell.

Karen: I love her and true love lasts a lifetime. Joni Mitchell is the woman who taught your cold English wife how to feel.

Harry: Did she? Oh, well, that's good, I must write to her sometime and say thanks.

It’s not often in our lifetime we experience that feeling where our entire world is turned sideways in the most eye opening, positive, and uplifting way possible. Those experiences leave a permanent mark on your heart and I feel like sometimes we forget to focus on those and instead think of the negatives, the things that caused us pain.

Tower of London and Tower Bridge - London, England

Tower of London and Tower Bridge - London, England

I remember the first time I heard one of her songs. I was at a dance competition, practicing a routine in a hallway and heard her song “Silent All These Years” float through the air. I ran into the room to watch the performance and, though the dance was beautiful, I was riveted by the song. The notes, her voice, and the lyrics turned my brain and heart upside down, in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I had to know immediately who sang the song.

This was before the iPhone and internet so I grabbed a program which had the dance studio’s name, asked around for the dance teacher, and then (FINALLY) found the teacher to ask her the most important question of my life at the moment “WHO SINGS THAT SONG?”. I know she thought I was insane in the membrane, but I didn’t care. After that, it was game over for me and the true beginning of my emotional education. I was changed.

The 2nd “once in a lifetime positively changing experience” for me was when I visited London for the first time. It was entirely different from my Tori experience in the sense that London creeped into my being slowly, like a fog, over the time I spent there for school and left me a completely changed person when I went home. I look back at that time as a pivotal point in my life where I can actually see the proverbial fork in the road of my life and London redirected me for the positive.

Tower Bridge - London, England

Tower Bridge - London, England

I was in college and had the opportunity to study abroad in London and made the utmost best of it. I lived on the same street as the British Museum and obsessively spent every minute I had trying to absorb the entire city into my memory. I had lofty goals.

It was an addiction of the best variety. I couldn’t get enough of the museums, the history, the buildings, the cultures, the food, the obvious and not so obvious differences of living there vs. the U.S., and navigating my independence. I made the decision to reprioritize the bold, confident, and adventurous version of myself I had lost in the shuffle of college and the pressures of trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grow up.

It is absolutely no accident, in my mind, that I came home from London and within 6 weeks began dating my friend of nearly 6 years who is now my husband (we’ve been together for 13 years).  I also took a quick weekend trip to Ireland, which became my next study abroad location a year later. Again, no accident. My Ireland semester introduced me to my roommate Erin, who is still one of my closest friends.

Tower Bridge - London, England

Tower Bridge - London, England

Do you see what I am getting at? There are these moments in our life which alter our core being in the best way possible. They can either shake your proverbial life foundation so hard you can’t believe how different life looks now or they will grow slowly on you like mold and change your inner world into a soft mossy heaven.

These moments change you into the best version of yourself you had always hoped you could be and shouldn’t be minimized or forgotten. They should be celebrated with anniversaries of happiness and remembrance.

For my anniversary, I listened to every single album Tori Amos has created in order of release date. It was a time warp of the last 20 years of my life and eye opening to hear the music with my adult (I am an adult supposedly now, right? Society says so) ears/mind.

I was so happy I did it because it reminded me of how far I’ve come and that I have so much more to accomplish. I also wouldn’t change a damn thing.

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The Beauty and Heartache of the British Museum | London Photography by Rachel Abrahams

AspiringImagesbyRachel-London-BritishMuseum-Entry-Daylight

When I was in college, I had the most amazing opportunity to study abroad in London while completing my degree. The program was based on my degree, International Affairs, and we spent a majority of our time in London working with the House of Parliament and its members, understanding the government process. While that was definitely amazing, the absolute gem of my time there was living on the SAME STREET as the British Museum. It was so close and, being a broke college student, I made sure to spend a lot of time there - especially when my program was over and I had some time to experience London on my own without a curriculum schedule to dictate my time.

Living in a tiny beach town for most of my life, my experience of museums was piddly compared to the grandeur and extensive history hidden within the British Museum. Of course, the outside was astounding but when I walked in the space opened up to reveal a beautiful glass ceiling and open interior leading to the wings where the historical items are housed. It was not what I expected at all.

At the time, I wasn't sure when I'd ever get to come back and spent hours perusing every inch of the museum practically memorizing the exhibitions. I learned so much and devoured every inch. I've since been lucky enough to go back to London to visit multiple times and on my last visit could finally attempt to capture the beauty within. After my first visit to London, I would come to learn of the controversy that surrounds some of the items housed at the British Museum and the requests of the countries where they came from, in the hopes of getting the items returned.

This did color my affection a bit when I returned knowing countries like Greece, Nigeria, Egypt, China, and more are requesting to have these items returned to them and questioning how they were acquired by the British Government. The list includes items like the Parthenon Marbles (aka Elgin Marbles) from Greece and the Rosetta Stone from Egypt. It's caused quite a bit of controversy and it's hard to tell how much longer some of these items will remain at the British Museum.

Something else I discovered at the museum that had nothing to do with the artifacts? The Horrible Histories book series, which although intended for kids is AWESOME from this supposed adult's perspective. I found it in the book store within the museum and have been hooked ever since. I'll be honest - history class was definitely my least favorite. Even lower than math and that says something for me. These books are written with such a great sense of humor and I highly encourage any child or adult to check them out. I've reviewed several on Goodreads and get comments often about my reviews. Every time I returned to London, I'd look for more books to burden my suitcase with but now (HALLELUJAH) they are available on Amazon.com. My collection has grown but is still incomplete. I'm working on it. That and my Asterix and Obelix comics collection (from France) but I'll leave my geek addictions for a different blog post.....

What is the best museum you've ever visited? Is there a historical artifact you saw in real life and couldn't believe it was there - in 3D? What other activities do you do to help save money while traveling (especially in expensive cities like London)? Any other comics and book collection aficionados/geeks like me?