Yesterday I had an appointment to take my computer in for service. We were lazy and got up later in the day. I was hungry so we agreed to go grab a bite when we got there, not that mall food is spectacular, but once in awhile you can find something good. We ended up at Dukes Chowder House, which is a great fallback since I do eat some seafood and that is their specialty. We both ended up with what is considered a small plate. I truly enjoyed mine and want to recreate Richard’s dish sometime soon. Mine was Prawns Del Cabo, which was a cilantro shrimp with an avocado salad and a cilantro sauce served over wild greens. Not a huge amount of food but just enough. Richard had these salmon sliders. Thin sliced salmon steaks grilled and layered on top of a crostini of good molasses bread. It had pesto then salmon, more pesto and some tomato slices on top. It was tasty according to him. I think I will put an avocado slice on this when I recreate it. But really fabulous food should come in small plates. It makes you take your time to savor every bite.
The idea of utilizing small plates is to keep your portions small. This is especially important at a buffet or potluck style meal. I have this issue, and I am going to try to remember to only use a small plate. We all too often mindlessly eat, which is funny to say since I am reading a book about that right now. I know that I fill a plate, I eat until it is empty. So unless I munch on kale and carrots for the rest of my life this is a problem. I know that I am in need of motivation, and after having that meal I realized what my motivation is going to be. Creating great food on a budget. If I try to keep my cost down, that also limits my portion size, it is a win win situation.
As you may already know, my life is about to take a huge detour. Well actually I am choosing a different way of living. As I get ready for this new adventure there is so much to do in preparation. Things such as apply for my passport and Visa. Get all my shots and a full physical. Thankfully I am not working much this month, so I can get a ton of this stuff done. My dental exams are all done and will be uploaded this week. My immunizations minus my Yellow Fever shot will be done next week, I think. My blood tests will all be done next week as well. I have to wait until late March for my full physical, but otherwise everything is right on track.
Richard is trying to get a job in California to be closer to his girls, which I think is not only important for them, but for him as well. Having your partner run off cannot be easy. I can only imagine since I am the partner running off. As the time gets closer, we get closer, and that I think is amazing. Never in my life have I had someone support me so much.
The other thing that starts to really set in, is that no matter what I do, there is no promise of safety. I actually like it that way. Why do anything if there is not challenge, no danger? That being stated, the idea of my mortality has come up. It actually started with a friend of mine telling me, he didn’t know if I was going to return from Africa. It was a strange comment, but one that I cannot ignore. I have never really thought about my death much, except that I will have all my organs donated, my body donated to science if they can use it minus the organs and in the end I will be cremated. That being said, I also do not want those that are left behind to mourn my death. I want them to celebrate my life. A New Orleans style wake is about as wild as you can get, and that is how I want it done. I want people to understand that no matter what, I lived my life the way I wanted to. This means that when I do go, it will be doing things I love. I think that given the choice, I would choose to live life on the edge and with uncertainty.
Being a person of little if any faith, I do not want my life to be a reflection of fear or of propriety. Instead I want my life to reflect adventure and fun. This means drinking too much, loving too much and living too much. So these are the value that I hope people remember about me. None of us are immortal, we will all cease to exist at some point, in my case I want people to remember how I lived my life, not who I was but the love I have to life and adventure and the people who I include in my life. I love them all. Even my parents, who I often state facts to the contrary. I love my mom and dad and my siblings. I just have nothing in common with them currently. That is the truth, I really am not interested in spending much time with them, but I do love them. You hear that mom? Yes I finally admitted I love you.
I resent many things from the first 30 years of my life. Mostly I resent having no courage to discuss my dreams or even to pursue them. I regret not standing up for myself and allowing people to push me down. However, without those first miserable 30 years, I would not have enjoyed the last 13 years to the point of fully understanding who I am and where I come from. So yes the truth is hard, I tend to hide from my past. I come from people I have nothing in common with and it seems as though I look down upon them, but the reality is they helped build me up. By allowing life to take nose dives, I have learned how to pick myself up. I have also learned how to really love life and to live it as though it were the only one I have. And that to me, is likely the best gift I could have ever received. I love you all, each and every one of you.
Last week I decided to make enchiladas. This can be expensive and tedious, but oh so worth it. I sauteed up some peppers, shrooms and onions for the filling. I also cooked up a 6 grain rice mix and added pinto beans to it. Mixing all those together with cumin and cayenne pepper powder for a kick, this was my filling. I rolled up my enchiladas and shredded pepper jack and cheddar cheese over it. I added the sauce, which unfortunately came from a can, I have no idea what is in the sauce and it is convenient to purchase the can. I again shredded cheese over the sauce. This is one of my few cheese heavy dishes. I had quite a bit of the stuffing left over. The dish itself fed both dinner and I had two lunches from it. Overall it cost about $30 to make and I got 4 meals out of it.
The good news is that there was two half blocks of cheese left, and the filling from the main dish. I took the filling and put it into a pot. I added another can of beans, this time great northern beans, since I had those on hand. I added a few cups of water and more seasoning. I simmered it for the better part of a day. In the end I still have half a pot of chili, and I have already had 3 meals from it. I cut some of the tortillas into strips and made crispy little strips to put into the chili. I also shredded a bit of cheese into it. Overall this $30 worth of groceries has made nearly 11 meals. So at less than $3 a meal ($2.72 to be exact) I have made a great couple of meals and managed to be frugal and healthier than if I had bought a pre-made meal option. And I still have tortillas and cheese left over for quesidillas if I choose.
To next time you make a dish that requires multiple ingredients and they tend to be rather spending, try taking what is left over and creating a casserole dish or a soup and stretch those ingredients to their maximum. Healthy filling food on a budget is not that difficult, you just have to consider the possibilities.
Here I am slowing everything in my life down. Simplifying it, trying somehow to find peace and joy. Stress is a modern invention. It was brought on by the idea of time limitations. By upholding a 40 hour work week, we feel the pressure of obligation to be somewhere at specific times. I have not really had to deal with that idea since I left my lab job in May. Unfortunately, the Peace Corps brought this idea right back to the forefront of my life. I now have deadlines and not only am I dependent upon myself to organize my time, I need other busy professionals to do so as well. This puts a huge stress in my life, especially when I have already had these professionals give me a bit of their time to get documents ready, now I have to go back and beg for their time to fill out forms that I missed the first time. Oh sadness and stress. The great news is I do not work the rest of this month or likely most of next month, so I have the time, I just hate to put them out for my sake, but it is necessary. :(
I am a strong person. I know I am. It still does not change the fact that when someone repeatedly is cruel to you in an on-line forum that it hurts. It hurts more when you actually know the person and considered them a friend. Even though I deleted said person, they are still skulking around on mutual friends pages. Until last night I could not figure out how to actually block all of my posts from their view. They posted what I felt was a weird and negative comment on something I posted to my partner. I guess I poked the sleeping bear by responding that they were negative. They responded back and I just left it alone. Then again last night they put up a ton of hashtags on how horrible a friend I was. My partner got annoyed with the continual notifications, which I decided not to respond to. I finally just deleted the post. I posted on his page simply the word: “Done!” she continued to poke. He called me and was like what the hell is going on? I have no idea why anyone would continue to harass, which is ultimately what it was. Had it been a total stranger I would not have even cared. Also a total stranger would have tired on no response and left it alone to find entertainment elsewhere. I am still confused and angry. The hurt is gone. Replaced by anger.
The problem now is, what to do if I see this person in my life? Do I do what I did last time and pretend it did not happen? Do I walk away and appear the bigger person, or do I confront and potentially escalate the situation? I am going to choose to walk away. I am less then 6 months away from leaving and I do not need any sort of legal problems to hang me up.
To be honest I am not the first person to be abused by this person through social media. I am also aware of other types of criminal intent this person has had. If I were vindictive I would have them arrested. Alas I am not. I just want them to leave me alone. To not say or do anything at all. You can have your poor opinion of me, yes it hurts but I am an adult I can take it. But please for the sake of everyone else, stop attacking any post I make on other people’s pages. It is weird and it is immature.
You have a drinking problem, hell you have mental issues, but I am certain you can take control if you want to, but instead you focus on me. It has taken me years to realize the problem is that my happiness is a alternative universe to you. For some reason any and all things in my life have some sort of impact on yours. I wish I knew how to break that tie? I wish that I could somehow help you see things differently. I cannot, I never could. I realize that my mistake was to try to continue to be your friend. You helped me out a small bit once, but I helped you out on a much grander scale. I am not keeping count, I am just keeping myself from falling for the guilt that you try to place on my shoulders.
Your life is your life. It is not my responsibility nor is it my place to make you feel better about yourself. Buck up bitch and get over it.
So the moment I decided to apply for the Peace Corps, I was informed that I must watch this movie. I had never even heard of it. It took some doing, but I finally just sucked it up and bought it. Then my housemate informs me she has it. Well damn, now I have purchased it and have a copy here. So I watched it.
It is humorous and the story line is quite cute, but overall I doubt that any of this relevant to real PC experience. It is however, a great spin on what life is like outside of our own culture.
I am still in that state of awe. Major changes are happening, dreams are actually coming true. Things that I barely allowed myself to consider are just months away from becoming reality. If you have never allowed yourself to dream, you will never understand the state I am currently in. I am overwhelmed as well. Overwhelmed by all that has to happen, all that has happened and all the support that I have been offered. In case you were wondering, I have accepted an assignment to teach Science in Liberia. My lifelong dream has been to serve in Africa.
I worked only one day this month, which required me to pull from my savings. I had not wanted to, but I realize that to prevent stress and get things done, I need to access that money when needed. I have never had money like this before, so it feels so weird when I start to stress about funds that I think, oh wait I am not broke. Thus being said, I by no means live a life of luxury. Although I will need to start buying more suitable clothing for my next adventure.
So where to begin? How about with this thought, Changing the World is more about changing yourself. Keep that in mind always, especially if you dream of making the World a better place. Sometimes looking at it from a different view makes you understand your own view of things. A year ago I started making changes in my life. I also started on the biggest adventure ever, living life.
I made a decision to join the Peace Corps, which I had no idea it would take nearly a year to get everything together. Amazing how much you have to do, to give up 27 months of your life into service, away from home and family. Once I started my application, I determined that the year 2013 was going to be life changing. And boy was it! I also determined that I would bike across the continent and quit my job. All of this because I got in a scuffle with the person most important in my life. What happened in that scuffle was that I realized much about myself.
I realized that the only reason I was sticking with a job I hated, being stagnant in my life, and basically just existing was because of my perceived obligation to the relationship. Now I have no fantasy that a relationship has no obligations, but for me staying was wearing on my soul. I signed up to bike across the country, and pursued my Peace Corps application with a vengeance. It was not the relationship that was holding me back, it was me. I have these ideas of how things are supposed to be. Once I let go and realized that my reasons for not pursuing my dreams were not real, life began to take shape.
I am blessed with a person in my life, who although it will hurt him for me to leave, is fully supportive. Richard always says things about how meaningless his life is. Things such as: you are going to change the world and I am going to do nothing with my life. I am so happy to hear him now say exactly what I need him to say. It took me months but he now understands that he has a very important role. He is my rock. My reason to come back. My support unit when everything overwhelms me. For every person that changes the world, they had that one person or group of people who supported them. They are as important if not more important than the one making changes. Without them sadness, loneliness and despair would be overwhelming.
The feeling I had on my last day of work was so fabulous. I was thrilled to do my exit interview, which did not actually happen. I was thrilled to never have to deal with certain people ever again. I was sad to know I would miss others. I was scared about not having an income. In fact when I finished my ride this was a huge hang up for me. I struggled with not having money and not having a place to live. I stayed with a friend, bless her soul, but it was an inconvenience to her and crowded. I miss living close to her, but we still hang out.
What I found out was that my happiness was stagnated. I needed to leave that job, it was way overdue. I had lost my love for that job about 4 years ago. The reality is, that I loved the job when I first got it. I was excited to learn and felt like I was making a difference. I guess in my life, I crave that season of making a difference. I think most of us want to feel that our participation is meaningful. It keeps us feeling needed and useful.
When you get to that point where your job is dragging you down, you no longer get up excited to get to work, it may be time for a strategic employment move. I now work in catering, and frankly I find it fun and no stress. Also biking across the continent gave me so much strength, courage and faith in myself, I feel as though there is nothing life can dish that I cannot take.
I am stronger than I have ever realized. I know that 27 months is a long-span of time. The reality is that it is less time then the rest of my life. The other reality is that I am no longer just going to allow myself to just exist. I am going to live an adventurous life. Why do we feel the need to live a mediocre unfulfilling life when we can strip down our fears and our hesitations and plunge in. You can never have dreams come true if you do not first have a dream and secondly let go of your fears.
The first step is always the hardest. I have learned so much about myself in the past year. I now live on around $500 a month. Seriously I am blessed to have a housing situation that requires such small rent. By letting go of the idea that I need things and space, I allowed myself to begin living.
Yesterday I called around looking for insurance coverage for my stuff while overseas. I found that no one will insure me without a storage facility rented out. I conceded that the worst that can happen is my electronics are stolen, but the reality is that in 27 months they will all be outdated and need replacing anyway. Am I really going to trip out about this? No, because insurance equates to some form of security and security equates to fear and hesitation. Strip it all down and face life.
I have this wonderful pair of friends. One is from Jamaica and one from Puerto Rico. I love them both and I admire them for having left behind all they know to live here. My Puerto Riccan friend was raised Pentecostal as was I. We have a strong bond. Having grown up in similar faiths we understand each other. I have walked away from my faith, where he has tried to continue living his. I resent my past, he loves his. We have drastically different views of religion, but we understand the other one.
Growing up we attended many revivals and had several missionaries share their stories with us. I have always been fascinated with Africa and early in my life thought that being a missionary would be great. The issue was that I did not want to go and preach the Gospel, I wanted to heal the bodies that were ravaged by the harshness the World had dealt to them. In some of the revivals we would fill out these questionnaires about gifts of the spirit. According to the Pentecostals, everyone has at least one gift and should be fruitful with it. Each time I took the quiz it came back that I would be best in service as an Evangelist or a Missionary. Noting that I would be rich in spirit and not in money. I would be successful in poverty and lack of money would be of no issue to me.
I always remember those things, simply because the idea of being a Missionary and living an adventure outside of modern society has always appealed to me. I have embraced the idea of never having much money. My marriage was absolutely opposite of this. We lived life of debt to keep up appearances. I loathe paying bills and having that threat of bad credit loom over me. I gave up a life of luxury and any hopes of being well off many years ago. In fact I embraced simplification of life and learned to do without. I have not owned a car since 2005. Wow 9 years ago, incredible to think that I have never once thought about buying one. I am grateful to have one offered in certain cases, but overall I enjoy not having one.
My friend and I have discussed these ideas of missionary and evangelist in-depth. I know that my calling is not one of religious but one of humanitarianism. I understand that being a missionary does not mean I have to spread the Bible around. It means that I am in service, it has taken me years to put this together but that is what it truly means. So yes I am a missionary, but not one of faith, one of compassion. I want to share my life and my love with those that need it. I want to share my knowledge and abilities with those who need it most. I want to make a difference in someone’s life, which ultimately I have. I have a made a difference in my own life and it shows on the smile I put on daily and in my sharing of myself with others.