It's hard to believe that I recently published my 200th blog post.
When I decided on a whim to start a blog back in 2009, I never thought that 200 posts later I would still find things to write about. Ideas can come from almost anywhere: newspaper ads, news stories, personal experiences. Nor would I have believed that I would have readers from around the world. For some reason this blog draws a lot of readers from Russia, and at times Russian readers outnumber those from the U.S.
It's always interesting to see where my readers come from: Brazil, Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Canada, Romania, Malaysia, Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and so many other countries -- even Armenia! I would love to hear from some of my international readers, to find out where they heard about this blog and what their impressions are.
I love to travel throughout the world, and to exchange ideas with people from other countries. Some of my most memorable travel experiences involve interactions with everyday people. While living in Moscow in the late 1990s, I had opportunities to chat with some local residents who shared my love of dogs. During last year's trip to Croatia, I spent some time sitting on a bench overlooking the water in Split, chatting with an older woman about life in Croatia and how it had changed since independence. She spoke English with some difficulty, but we were able to communicate. When I mentioned that I speak Russian, I she recited a poem in Russian that she had been forced to memorize as a school girl when Croatia was part of the Soviet empire.
I have Facebook friends from Russia, Turkey, Kenya and Ukraine, in addition to Canada and Great Britain. I know some of these people personally, having met them during my travels. I enjoy learning about other cultures, other languages and other people. With so much division and hatred in the world, this personal connection may help bring people together one by one. I have friends from a variety of religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim, as well as non-believers and those from a variety of Christian denominations. Having lived in Moscow, I learned to respect the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church, such as wearing a skirt and covering my head when entering an Orthodox church. While in Turkey, I followed Muslim customs when entering a mosque. When I visit Israel next year, I plan to respect customs in that country. Travel does, indeed, make the world a smaller place. After my trip to Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa earlier this year, I now pay far more attention to news stories from that vast continent.
So to the more than 13,000 visitors to my blog (some of them more than once), I say 'thank you' for stopping by. I welcome your feedback, or if you prefer, just a comment that lets me know where you are from.