I have 52 days left stateside. I am happy and anxious and a little sad all at once. Got all my final lab results in this week. Unless something is amiss, I have no more medical appointments. Just catching up on the bills and packing stuff up. Lucky for me this month is 30 days of biking month. I missed yesterday, I think the weather was depressing and a bit cold, I bought ice cream and cuddled up in a blanket and watched TV. Yeah I do not so much like the gray skies. They pretty much depress me.
I have started helping in some local classrooms in my excessive free time. I could go get a real job, but that seems like a bad idea. I really like the students and find their various academic abilities to be fascinating. I have never really thought about being a teacher before. Yet here I am counting down the days until I am put in charge of my own classrooms.
Today I meet up with a friend and we are going to bike somewhere. No real agenda, just somewhere. I kind of just need to get out of the house and the weather looks decent. I have been packing up some of my winter gear as I get ready to leave. I know that I will not be needing insulated anything in Liberia.
I have borrowed Richard’s car this week. His birthday is Tuesday and I wanted to make him something special. This requires a trip to a store I cannot access by bike. I am sure I could if I could figure out how to get there, but then there is the shopping to be done and I am making excuses. I thought that since I have the car, maybe I should pack some of my stuff up and take it to my dad’s. All my stuff is stored there. I do not have much stuff, but the few things I cannot take with me will go to dad’s. Since I am headed down south, I may as well stop off and see my mom, and anyone else that is around that day. I have one friend that I will stop and see for sure.
Crazy as it sounds, I have one suitcase almost completely packed up. It is mostly clothes and DVD’s and books that I will not be using here. The second suitcase is partially packed, actually it is more of storage for things I don’t need here, but will over there. I only have a few items left to get. I need a couple of can openers, some toiletries, a swiss army knife and perhaps a hammock. I also need to have a bit of cash to carry on me.
As I get closer to the day, I feel more anxious. This is not a huge surprise. I tend to over think and over plan everything. I totally overpacked for my ride last summer. Now I have to plan for 27 months, I know much of what I have can be purchased there, but still some comforts of home are nice.
I have been in a Facebook group with current volunteers and many of the people who I will be heading over with. I at least will have an idea of who I am with and what to expect. The most current thing is the Ebola outbreak in Guinea. This is a very serious and scary disease. As much as I am against ridiculous vaccinations, there are certain things one must do to protect oneself. I am not going to go to a location with water and sanitation issues and malaria and not be prepared. As much as I hate DEET, you bet your big toe I will use it.
In our society there are many things that I take for granted. I am not a fan of chlorination of the water supply, but know it is needed. The whole floridated water is upsetting to me. But these are things I will likely embrace when water is scarce and sketchy.
Stupid WordPress did not publish this. This is an older post that should have been published in the beginning of April. I edited the days left but otherwise read this in a past tense.
For many years I have just kind of meandered through life. I did things because it was expected. I did things because I did not know there was another way. I just did things for the motions of doing things. It has taken me years to process all of my anger and my frustration, it took me years to find love, which I thought I was incapable of. I am grateful for all the trials that have molded my life. Without constant struggle I would have just been content to let life happen. However, this is not how I live life.
I gave up my career last spring. I hopped on a train and took an amazing adventure across the nation on a bicycle. I gave up living life the way I was told to live it and embraced the way I wanted to live. I had a conversation with one of the few high school friends I have left. We talked for a couple of hours and she confirmed something that I knew had happened, but could not confirm. We were “guided” into becoming a wife and having children. Our dreams were discounted, our desires shoved under the rug. Imagine living in a small town and wanting to go to college, but having no idea how to get there. This was our life. We were given small options from small minds. That being said, I do not mean that being a wife and a mother is a lesser life. I am just saying it was not a life I would have chose for myself had I been given the tools to succeed.
So in my 40′s I took my life back. I have always ran to the beat of my own drum. The idea that I cannot do something irritates me and pushes me to prove I can. I wish I would have had this backbone when I was a kid. The fight that rises up when I am informed that I cannot do something is like the Phoenix rising. You cannot stop it, I cannot stop it, it just bubbles up and I do whatever against all odds. My undergrad was a battle. Imagine going to school with no support, working full time, raising babies and trying to manage a household. When I hear someone say they cannot work and go to school, I really want to punch them in the nose. Seriously you can do anything if you want it bad enough. Period, no excuses. Not only did I do it, I graduated Cum Laude, that means with honors. I have a national standing and earned extra cords to walk down the aisle in.
When my husband left me, I felt alone and desperate. I was afraid I could not survive. It is something that I have always battled. Supporting myself and my kids was scary. The funny paradox here is that I am strong, yet weak in my own confidence. I have a huge fear of not being able to support myself and my kids. I can do it, but I battle these doubts all the time. Maybe this is why I embrace the freedom of the simple life.
As many who read this blog already know I am going to teach science in Liberia, West Africa. I joined the Peace Corps, which is a lifelong dream, Africa is my biggest dream. I actually went on to Grad School to get a step up in joining the Peace Corps. I don’t care about a job, I want an adventure. I also want to be somewhere and make a difference. In the midst of all of this preparation a new hiccup has risen.
My partner got a transfer to be closer to his daughters. He will be transferring down to Sacramento in a month. I am excited that this happened while I was still here. I can help him set up an apartment and get settled into his new community. I have never had someone seem so guinuinely grateful that I was going to be there for them. It makes sense that I move with him, otherwise I store all my stuff at my dad’s and then I have to come back and move there. It makes more sense to move once and just return there. I do not live a quiet life. I live life and sometimes it just happens.
I have been thinking lately about why our society seems so disjointed and out of sync with itself. It has come to my attention that something is seriously missing. I am going to go back to my religious upbringing for just a moment. In my Sunday School classes we learned that Jesus overturned the money-changers tables in the temple, he also said something along the lines of “for the love of money is the root of all evil”. As I look around our World, I wonder if Jesus words have been lost among those who proclaim to be his followers. Lets explore this deeper, granted I have no intention of quoting any form of the Bible or Jesus, I am simply going to pull from my memory and my understanding. Maybe I missed the point in Sunday School, maybe I am the one that is completely ignorant.
First off, Jesus always preached peace and acceptance. Not judging anyone and accepting everyone. Seems to me that this is probably the disposition of empathy. So to preach about who is going to hell, and how people are living in sin, seems to me, at best to be judgmental and at worst hateful. So if you follow Christ, how can you balance your prejudice against his teaching? Oh that’s right, the old testament was full of angry God destroying the wicked. Hmm, if you really think about this, first off the Bible is mostly written in metaphors, secondly, you are a fallible human. This means, hold on for a moment, sit down, YOU ARE NOT GOD! Oh snap, yes I just went there. You are not in a position to judge what is right or wrong, I know this for a fact. You see I was judgmental and self-righteous for many years. I felt that I was better than those who lived in what I considered a sinful life. The problem was, my life was a mess as well. I had no place and no right to look at how any other person lived. You see, I am not God, either.
The other missing piece in our life is based in our pursuit of material goods. Christ lived a life of poverty. He traveled and lived off the graciousness of others. He was what we see today as a Welfare Queen. Oh snap, yes I just went there. He traveled and he taught, but he did not hold down a real job. He also lived on very little. He was not focused on owning the best donkey or the best clothes. He simply wanted his health and he found happiness in serving others. Wow, what a concept, living on very little and not needing everything you see. What Jesus embodied was empathy and love. He did not hold himself higher than others. He even forgave those who did horrid things to him. We can all just stop seeking revenge and seek peace through forgiveness. By the way Jesus was not a white man. This is a fact, he was of Jewish decent and he was Middle Eastern. So take your racist views and choke on that fact.
Wow, so yeah, I went to church for many years. It took me leaving the church to understand how the Bible should be interpreted. As a member of a church, I was told that by being faithful I would be blessed. I could expect my money problems to be taken care of. I could expect to be rich in this life, if I was faithful. I expected and was gravely disappointed. It took losing everything several times for me to understand letting go. I now embrace life not things. I see our society as pursuing too much material goods to achieve happiness, when happiness is just out of our grasp.
I read an article this weekend about not pursuing your passion as a means of making a living, instead pursue a career you do not hate. I think this is the worst advice I have ever heard. First off, when you lose sight of your passion you lose sight of your happiness. When we talk about making a living, we have a standard that is unsustainable. We have this need for growth, for the sake of growth. This eventually ends in destruction. What we are forgetting is that when we pursue our passions, we must be willing to sacrifice things like comfort and excess.
The things that are missing in our World are passion, compassion and empathy. We have lost sight of our own happiness and we have lost sight of humanity. It saddens me that my generation grew up with Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street and Star Trek. All of these sent a message of equality and diversity. Loving our fellow humans is natural, yet we tend to find bitterness and hatred easier to embrace. In a generation growing up with the hippy movement and the idea of free love we have totally pushed those ideas away and embraced consumerism and love of material goods. Once we see these things for what they are, maybe then we can embrace the true concept of being Christlike. Until then your religion is not for me, I will find my own path leading a life so much more in tune with Christ’s ideology than anything I have ever seen in a Church. I really hope one day the light shines brightly enough for all to see, until then I will be content in my passion for a better World.
The last month was overwhelming and I am grateful that I only worked one day. I have only worked once so far this month, but again am very grateful. First off, I have everything done medical wise except one Hep A shot and my yearly checkup. The check up happens later this month. The second Hep A is gonna be tricky, I may have to get that abroad. Scary!
There was a screw up with both my passport and my Visa applications. I sent off a new copy of my Visa application, that was the easy part. The passport got mailed to the wrong location, luckily I found where it was mailed and when it got delivered. The PC travel person is going to expedite that for me. I was freaking out, my birth certificate is with the application and that took three weeks to get. I was so worried I would have to start over and then I would miss my deadlines again. Luck was with me this time, all is well. Everything is going to be okay.
Picked up most of my stuff for the trip. I have my luggage and shoes all figured out. I even have some movies to pack with me. I bought a steri-pen, headlamp, small compact blanket and a solar charger today. I have clothes and sandals ordered and they should be here this week or next. So much of my wardrobe was not appropriate for the climate, I had a fun time buying a new wardrobe. The only things i need now are some nice button up shirts and a few more bras and then pack it all up.
I am now volunteering three days a week at the nearby high school. I am being educated all over again. The students are interesting and there is not a lot of structure, it is an alternative school. I now understand how my kids could fall behind in school and end up graduating late. The benefit is that they learn to manage themselves, which can feel like it is backfiring.
Last week Richard messed up his foot somehow, and I ended up taking him to the doctor twice. So my social life is now consumed with medicine and doctor appointments. On the up note, he has decided to not drink for a bit to lose weight. I need the break as well. Maybe we will both drop some weight, not that he needs to.
I bought a jump rope, I forgot how bad I suck at this. I spent about 5 minutes jumping, and I can only go about 4 rounds before I have to stop and start over. It is amazing how much just that little bit will cause your heart to pump. So even if I have to jump for 5 min intervals over the course of the day, I am gonna do this until I leave. I plan on packing the rope with me, it is weighted and small enough to stuff in my suitcase.
I have been so busy that I have not been riding my bike or eating right. Today I got groceries and bought a ton of veggies. I also had some bananas going off and needed to be used. Are you ready for the most amazing recipe? Two bananas, break them up into a blender, add ice, two large teaspoons of coconut peanut butter ( you will thank me for this) add a bit of whole milk and some plain yogurt, I prefer greek, but just plain works as well. Blend and have a happy mouth and tummy. I actually only had about 6 oz of this. The rest I put in a container and stuck in the freezer. You need to pull it out about 1 hour before you want to drink it and pour it out. If you have space I suggest freezing in single servings, but I do not have the space so it all went in together.
I used whole milk because the more I read about food the more I realize all our health issues began when we declared war on fat. All the low-fat, skim, and no-fat items are so overly processed and calorie ridden, you may as well enjoy the full fat and just control the serving size.
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.