A Different Road….

One of the most difficult decisions I have had to make, came once I finished my physical therapy after my back surgery and the doctor cleared me to go back to normal. Do I apply to return to my Peace Corps service in Indonesia? Or, do I forge ahead and take a different road in life? After seeking advice from many people and getting comments about how I am “Not a Spring Chicken any longer” or how my “baby bearing days are almost at an end” I decided to think about my decision and come up with a plan that was best for me. All I knew at the time was that after being in pain and having limited movement from May 2012 to January 2013, It was time to take action and get my life jump started. After much debate, tears of frustration, and talking to other Peace Corps Volunteers and friends, I made the decision NOT to go back to Indonesia, and try to start my life here in the States. My best friend Emily (We banded together in College when we sat next to each other in an African American Lit class with a teacher that didn’t really appreciate our thoughts and views, and have been best friends ever since) told me that she had talked to her parents about my staying in the States and wanting to start fresh, and they were kind enough to make me the offer to move up to Chicago and stay with them while I looked for a job and got on my feet. There would be no rush, and I could take my time looking for a job that I actually wanted. After thinking about it and weighing out all of my options, I decided to take them up on their extremely generous offer and moved up to Illinois smack dab in the middle of winter in January.

Jacket

Where I am living in the suburbs of Chicago is pretty amazing. I am getting used to the cold out here, though there are days that I look like an Eskimo when I go outside. We have tons of farm fields out here and wide open spaces. Every time I take a drive, I can’t get over how pretty it is out here. There are also tons of birds of prey around here. I see hawks and falcons every day. Harry and Libby (Emily’s Parents) took me to go Eagle watching a few weeks back. It was pretty amazing. We bundled up and went out to one of the dams in the area. There were about 5 bald eagles in the tree, and we watched as they flew around and swooped into the water to catch fish. There were a ton of people out there taking pictures with these amazingly awesome cameras and lenses. I WANT ONE! Maybe one of these days I will be out there with them. We have gotten a couple of snow storms and are due for another this week, but nothing too terrible. Its giving me good practice for the future winters. I even went out and shoveled the walkway (it seems just plain wrong to sweat that much when there is so much snow all around you).

Neighborhood

I am not that far from the city. I live probably 5 – 10 minutes from the train station, and just take that right in to downtown. That being said I have only been into the city a few times. I went a few weeks ago for a night out with my friend Travis. We went to an underground circus show that totally blew my socks off. The people were beyond talented and it was absolutely breath taking. I can’t even imagine the stamina and training it takes to do the things that they were able to do… tight rope walking, trapeze, ribbons. etc. Absolute craziness. But it was an AMAZING time and we had a lot of laughs.

Circus2

Circus1

I also started the craziness that is Job Searching. There is nothing that stresses me out more than having to sit down and search for a job. Its not just looking for a job that doesn’t sound like I would want to scratch my eyeballs out while working, it is the nervous wreck I become while I sit and wait for a call back, or go for an interview. I always wonder why haven’t I heard back from anyone? Am I not qualified for a job that I felt like a monkey could do? So needless to say I have been a little stressed and irritable. That being said, I did find a job, and even though it seems like it took FOREVER, it didn’t take that long… maybe a month total. I was hired at Mooseheart Child City and School as a Family Teacher. Mooseheart is a residential childcare facility, located on a 1,000-acre campus west of Chicago. Its a home for children and teens in need, from infancy through high school. The position requires me to live on campus in one of the homes of the kids. I will be there to help the kids with every day life problems. homework, teaching them how to do every day chores and tasks, learn responsibility, how to do laundry, banking, etc. The goal is to teach them the skills they will need to survive after graduation when they are on their own. I will be working in the boys community. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I start mid March, and have to go through 3 weeks of training before I take on responsibilities at the house. This is exactly the kind of job I was hoping to find. I am still striving to do good, and help kids in need. That to me makes the perfect career, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to start my new life.

Moose Statue on Campus

Moose Statue on Campus

Also new… after over 2 years of growing my hair out naturally and not having anyone touch it (not even a trim) I decided to go and get my hair trimmed to remove the split ends and help it grow. To cut my hair they had to flat iron it straight. I love how it looks. It is tempting me to permanently straighten my hair.

Straight Hair

So my new journey has started here in Illinois… Lets hope this one is successful and fulfilling.

One Year Of Living

Would it be terribly wrong to say that I don’t think my life truly started until I joined the Peace Corps? Don’t get me wrong, I was alive and surviving through the mundane existence that I had… Go to work, go home, make dinner (or get takeout), go to bed, wake up and repeat. Where my relationship status (or lack there of) constantly worried me and took its toll on my self-esteem…. and relationships that I did have always felt like something was missing from them. My favorite times were the days I got to spend with my sister and nieces. When I thought about my future and one day having kids… I asked myself, what are you going to tell your kids you did before in life? What amazing stories do you have to tell them? That made me stop and reevaluate everything. I remember being a kid and looking at the beautiful things around my house…. a gorgeous oriental wooden screen, an oriental trunk, a beautiful black and red kimono, and oriental vases that my mother had gotten when she lived in Japan. Hearing her talk about how much she loved and missed Japanese food and Japan. And seeing pictures from when she lived there. Or hearing about how when she was a kid she lived in Holland with her parents for a year (and had an Indonesian landlady), and seeing the wooden shoes, mini windmills, and cuckoo clocks they had brought back with them. I remember thinking “I can’t wait to do that.”But like so many goals it got brushed into the pile of “Wouldn’t it be nice…” things to do along with medical school, writing a book, rock climbing, and whatever other goals and aspirations I deemed myself unfit or unworthy of achieving.

Then I finally woke up and decided to do something drastic. I decided to just go for it! And I have been living ever since.

It started a year ago. I said good-bye to a less than mediocre relationship, and I said ‘see you soon’ to family and friends as I left for my new life in Indonesia.  I didn’t know what would await me, but I knew that it was going to be an amazing journey.  I left home home on April 4, 2011 and since that time these are some of my unforgettable experiences:

I got to explore Hong Kong and got to see one of the largest Buddha statues in the world.

I visited Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It was built by the Sailendra Dynasty between AD 750 and AD 850. I saw reliefs carved into the walls of that temple that were so detailed they made me gasp. I climbed to the top and saw the Volcano Merapi and saw the toll its eruption in 2006 took on Borobudur. I tried to count all of the 500 and some odd Buddha statues and carvings within its walls (I was not very successful).

I have hiked through some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life.

Naughty Orangutan

I have gotten felt up by an Orangutan, gotten to feed a baby elephant, and been so close to a tiger that when it hissed at me its saliva hit my hand and camera lens.

I have spent all night (13 hours) climbing a mountain just to see an amazing view and then turn around right after sunrise (without sleeping) and climb down so I could take a well needed bath and go to bed for the next two days.

And I have made friends that will have forever impacted my life.

Through these experiences and many more, I have learned that nothing in life should be deemed impossible, and that it is never too late to get started on your journey.  Do I know what I will do in a year when my service is over? Not a clue… but the possibilities are endless. (You never know what you can do until you try to do it).

Always remember, “Not all who wander are lost.”~ Tolkien