Crazy Things Have Been Happening!

Its been a while since my last post…..Life turned crazy! A good brutal crazy!

Crazy Event #1: I decided to start looking for a different job…. So I have been working with kids for

In Front of Mooseheart

In Front of Mooseheart

about 4 years now, through the Peace Corps and through my employment at Mooseheart Child City and School. Now I will admit that I loved both of those jobs. Kids fill your life with the unexpected every day, and I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t admit that I had grown attached to the kids I worked with. There were even times while talking with family about my work that I referred to them at ‘my kids.’  So as I mentioned in previous posts I am seeing a wonderfully brutal man. (I might have to think of a new nickname for him…he might have took offense to the previous one…hahaha) Anyhow my job caused major restrictions on having a personal life. I am 31 years old, never married, and I have no  kids….. yeah a personal life seems like a good thing to have. So my job at Moosheart required to me live where I worked. I worked basically 24 hours a day for 5 days a week. Now I was allowed to sleep, but you are on-call while you sleep. My days off during the week were generally 2 consecutive days and they were generally on Thursday and Friday. Now that doesn’t seem too bad. Being off on Thursdays allowed me to go line-dancing with the girls, and I got to see the boyfriend on Friday, but with having to be back to work early Saturday morning lat

e nights out were not an option which limited us basically to staying in and watching TV… Though we are quite enjoying watching Game of Thrones and Modern Family together! 🙂 After a lot of thought and struggling over what was the right thing to do…. because I was basically going to leave kids after having built a relationship with them, and that is hard on the kids as well… In the end I decided that if I were going to give my boyfriend a

nd my relationship a fair chance, and if I were going to get back into the workforce at normal office hours so I can have a stable routine, Now, at 31 years old, was the time to do it. So I went for it and started the job hunt. I blasted my resume out on Monster and Careerbuilder, but all of the jobs I saw on there were generic and most of them didn’t tell too much about the company. Though I wanted to get back to having normal office hours, I still wanted to work for a company that was helping people in some way, shape, or form. Then my friend told me about idealist.org. I had never heard of it before, but it basically is a site that lists jobs, internships, and volunteer positions available with non-profit organization and the like. Their mission statement says: “Idealist is all about connecting idealists – people who want to do good – with opportunities for action and collaboration.”  I read that and was like, “How freaking cool is that! A job board right up my alley.”

The Subaru is All packed!

The Subaru is All packed!

So I started to look and the postings were amazing. So much going on in the world and opportunities to get your foot in them. I applied for jobs in the Chicago area for jobs as an Administrative Assistant. About a week after applying I started getting calls for phone interviews! I didn’t expect everything to go so quickly. I had an awesome phone interview where they asked me to come in for an in person interview the next week. That interview went so amazingly well! I left there saying, “I crushed it!” The of course gave me the whole, “We will finish interviewing this week and inform the applicant we choose by the end of next week.” So I waited in anticipation to hear that I got the job that I desperately wanted!!! While I was having breakfast on the next Wednesday (5 days after my interview) I got an email with a job offer contract in it! I was so excited. Of course I accepted it! Then the hard part came…. telling my boss and the kids that I was putting in my notice. The kids were really upset and my boss was completely confused. I felt really bad.  Then the next hardest thing was packing up all of my crap and moving in with friends. I hate packing and moving! And I had over 2 years of stuff that I had accumulated while working at Mooseheart that I need to go through and purge. That sucked! I threw away a lot of stuff and donated even more. Finally I packed up my little Subaru Impreza to the max and got friends to help me get everything out. I will admit that I cried as I drove off campus.

Crazy Event # 2I go on a road trip to Colorado…. The boyfriend has been entertaining that idea of taking a job transfer to Colorado. Neither one of us had ever been to Colorado, so we decided that we should take a trip out there to see what it was like. And neither one of us ever does anything the easy way, so we decided that it would be a GREAT! idea to drive! all 16 hours. I love trips! I get so excited that I have a hard time sleeping the night before. Steven (the boyfriend) didn’t know that about me…though I did warn him that I would probably wake up early. I was up at 4:00am and gently started to nudge him…. he opened an eye and mumbled something about me needing to go back to sleep… at which point I started jumping on the bed and shaking him… I became an annoying 5 year old! I even ran and turned on the light…. He might have definitely yelled at me at the point… I laughed and turned the light back off, but the damage had already been done!!!! He was awake! (I won). So we got dressed, packed the car, made sure that Slayer (the cat) had plenty of food and water, and we were on our way! 16 Hours! That includes us stopping for gas and food, but still. That is a long time to be driving in a car… In hindsight it might have been better to break the trip into 2 days, but we didn’t really have the time for that because I was started my new job on the 1st of June and it was the 27th when we left for Colorado. The first night in Denver we just ate and went to bed. I was passed out drooling before Steven even finished saying good night. The next day we decided to explore downtown Denver. We had so much fun. I had done a little of my Type Awesome researching, and found a few things I wanted to get pictures of and places I definitely wanted to go. So there is a huge blue bear peaking into the Convention Center Windows. Totally cool! I also wanted to picture in front on Union Station just because it was a ‘touristy’ thing to do! 🙂 I also found a place called Voodoo Doughnut that I really wanted to go to because their Doughnuts looked amazing, and they had a captain crunch one that I HAD TO TRY!!!! There was also a Brewing Company that I found called TRVE that I wanted to go to because I love craft beer and Steven loves Heavy Metal…. so a heavy metal brewing company sounded awesome! We decided to try a local diner for breakfast, I believe it was named ‘Doug’s’. It was amazing! I had a breakfast bowl full of potatoes, eggs, veggies, gravy, and other sauces I don’t even know what

Breakfast at Doug's

Breakfast at Doug’s

they were… but all together is was like heaven in a bowl! It was a great way to start our Colorado adventure. So we got to downtown Denver…..after I got us a bit lost, and we started walking around. It was awesome. They even had a free bus that took you up and down the main street mall. We saw a lot of things and I was not disappointed seeing the big blue bear and Union Station. I love doing touristy things. We didn’t make it to Voodoo Doughnut the first day but we were able to get to it on the way out of town (More on that later in this section). In the evening, before meeting an old coworker of Steven’s, we went to Trve Brewing Company, and it was better than anything I had imagined. Steven loved it too! The atmosphere was completely relaxed, dark, and you felt right at home. They had a HUGE long table to sit at, and the bartenders were awesome. Steven and I both tried one of their in house craft beers called Whiskey Funeral.  From the moment they Bartender put the bottle in front of me I was in

Hanging out at Trve

Hanging out at Trve

love. Then I tried it, and OMG! It was so smooth! Now I love a whiskey/bourbon barrel beer….this blew anything I have ever tried out of the water. It was 11.4% and went down like water. By the end of one bottle my nose and lips had started to go numb (of course I am a light weight and I hadn’t eaten anything). It was a good night! Buzzed off of one beer…..I am a cheap date.  The next day Steven and I decided to drive an hour and a half to go to Colorado Springs. We heard there were good trails and hiking, so we just wanted to see the area… and Steven wouldn’t be Steven if he didn’t have a plan for running. So of course we went to a park to run. When we got there we started to doing a few sprints to warm up and then we took off on our run….. I died. Breathing was so difficult, those ‘hills’ were murderous, and I blew out my knee going downhill.  The only satisfaction I got from that run was seeing that Steven wasn’t exactly happy with how his run went either. 🙂 (Misery might love a little company.) We tried to go to a couple of other parks like 7 Falls, but they were closed and not due to open until the next week.  That was a bummer. We ended up going to another area to do a scenic railway tour but we missed the damn train and it was the last train of the day. That sucked. So we explored to cute little town that was at the base of that mountain, had lunch, and then headed back to Denver. It was not the most successful of trips, but we had a good time together. We had planned on leaving Colorado on

Swimming in Style

Swimming in Style

Sunday morning, but the more we talked and thought about everything, with my job starting on Monday morning we figured it would be better to head back on Saturday….. well Steven decided that. imageWe started to morning getting our exercise… Steven went for a run and I went swimming. Then we checked out and started back.  We stopped downtown on the way out so I could FINALLY go to Voodoo Doughnut. The line was out the door, but I was content to wait! I got 4 doughnuts, a Captain my Captain (Captain Crunch), Dirt (cookies & Cream), Memphis Madness (Peanut butter & chocolate on a banana fritter), and a Diablo (chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate frosting and a pentagram design) for my brutally metal boyfriend. 4 doughnuts came to a little under $10… That Memphis madness fritter broke the bank at almost $5. Then we started our drive home. What a CRAPPY DRIVE! I got pulled over in Nebraska for speeding. I was going 86 in a 75 zone.  That cost me $123, and I was as sweet as can be. So after I cried and got pissed off that I had gotten a speeding ticket Steven took over driving cause of course I was then going under the speed limit, and he looked like someone was torturing him as he kept leaning over to glance at the speedometer. So Steven took over and then he got pulled over in Iowa for going 80 in a 70 zone…. He came back with a freaking WARNING! I was so pissed. He laughed and I didn’t talk to him for an hour. Our terrible drive home finally ended at 4:15am. We ate a little snack and then passed out.

Crazy Event # 3: I started my new job…. So I got an email a few days before I started my new job, from my new boss. He informed me that they were moving offices, so that I would not be reporting to the building I had interviewed in…… Great. Now I had no idea where the hell I was heading. I

Bathroom Selfie in my New Outfit

Bathroom Selfie in my New Outfit

immediately started to have an anxiety attack because I don’t know downtown Chicago, the loop, or any of that nonsense. I was imagining myself getting lost and being late my first day on the job. Not to mention that parking in the city is stupid expensive and I hate driving in traffic… so driving to work was not going to happen. So I frantically started looking up how to take the metra train in to Union Station and how to walk from there to the new address. Steven assured me that I would be fine and even took me shopping

Relaxing after work

Relaxing after work

for a new outfit for work to help calm my soul (retail therapy is amazing!). They first day of work was awesome. I like the new office space… it very open and bright. I have an amazing view from my desk. We are on the 21st floor. So COOL! The people I work with are laid back and fun. Everyone is helpful. I feel like I have made the right decision and choosing this place to work. Thus far I am very happy.  Another great thing about changing jobs is that at the end of the day I got HOME. I do not think about work. I am done until 8:30am the next morning. I go home and I get to have a glass of wine (there was absolutely no alcohol allowed on campus at Mooseheart), and sit in the hot tub or watch TV. Just being able to unwind from the day and start fresh in the morning is an amazing thing!

 

View from my desk

View from my desk

Crazy Things I want to Get Started:

I am the type of person who is never content to sit idle. I always want to be trying new things, and now that we are halfway through 2015 (how crazy is that!?!?), and my life is going I. A. Ew and exciting direction – I want to start adding different elements into my routines.

1. YouTube Channel…. Want to talk about all of the things that make up my brutally blissful life…. Kind of an echo to this blog.

2. Add more elements to this blog…. Product reviews, planning craziness (I love planners), book reviews, etc. Maybe even cooking adventures.

3. Starting an Erin Condren Life Planner….. I have been coveting the life planner for about a year. I think I am ready to take the plunge and get one. I also want to try my hand at creating stickers, dashboards, and accessories for it. I LOVE being crafty. I would of course put tutorials and views on my YouTube channel.

4. More outdoor adventures. Now that it’s summer it’s time to get out and see things and take lots and lots of pictures…. Maybe even start a brutal bliss Instagram account!

So those are just a few ideas. If any of you have suggestions please feel free to share the with me.  I also want to revamp the layout of the blog and make it more personalized. So I will be figuring that out shortly.

I will keep everyone posted on how these things are coming along.

More Pictures from Colorado:

Bear Outside the Convention Center

Bear Outside the Convention Center

Union Station

Union Station

Whiskey Funeral Bottle

Whiskey Funeral Bottle

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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.

The God Seuss

So a few things have happened since my last post….  The first being that I have finally be approved the appropriate number of times by the Department of Labor to have my surgery (Don’t ask me what number approval we are one now). YAY! So that is scheduled for October 22nd. In the mean time I have to be sure to get all of my pre-operative testing done, like blood work, Chest X-Rays, and EKG. FUN! And…. the rumor is that I will need to sit through a session and class with the anesthesiologist…. What I will learn I am not quite sure.. I have the basics down… don’t  eat after midnight the night before your surgery because you will barf, they re gonna stick a needle in my arm and I will proceed to fall asleep in mid sentence and then wake up drooling on myself after my surgery is over. What else do I need to know!? I guess I will find out.

I also have started a new blog. This one is for my crafting endeavors. Lets hope that I do enough crafts to post about. I have a knitting post up now and a product review.  You can view the blog here. Also please feel free to follow it and tell EVERYONE you know.. That’s right, I am not above shameful self promotion.

Speaking of promotion! I decided to buy my brother-in-law a birch box. If you don’t know what this is, it is a box of product samples. Higher end samples. (I will do a review on mine when /if it ever gets here.) They have made one for Men too! So I told him that he had a do a review on what he got. The box had to of been filled with the most inappropriate items for a sister-in-law to get.  You can read this hilarious post entitled “Best Underwear EVA” here. (No joke, I almost peed myself).

Moving on… I have been a bit stressed out lately. Just a lot of going stir crazy and not really knowing where life is gonna lead me after this surgery happens. I can try to reapply to Peace Corps. There is no guarantee that I would be allowed to go back in, but there is a part of me that feels like my traveling days aren’t over yet. My best friend also threw out the option of having some place to stay in Chicago if I wanted to start over and look for a job up there. That is a very good option too, and one I would be forever grateful for. So this is where I am at! Where do I go? What is the better option? Is it time to stop traveling and finally set down roots here in the States? Get a “real person” job and maybe find someone who wants to put up with my emotional butt on a permanent basis? Or should I try again to see parts of the world I thought never to go to? AAAAAHHHHH!

SO the stress! My Goodness the stress. My brain just goes in a circle and its a bit overwhelming.  Then I learned something. DR. Seuss helps stress! No joke. So I was just on the verge of pulling out all of my nappy head snarls when my mother suggested we watch the LORAX. I have been wanting to watch it for a long time, and hadn’t gotten the chance while I was in Indonesia…. (imagine that). It was like I was a little kid again transported into a magical land. The colors in the moving were AMAZING and I was instantly drawn in. I laughed AND I cried. It was soooo GOOD.  A few days later I was walking through the store and I saw Dr. Seuss pajama pants! ON SALE! Well how could I not get them with all of their magical healing qualities that I knew they possessed. So I bought them, went home, put them on, and….. thats right, I watched the Lorax again. And it was sooo much better as I wore my new Yertle the Turtle pajama pants!  I started to feel myself unwind and laugh. Dr. Seuss is some form of Emotional Goodness God!

I still have a huge decision to make, and a lot of emotional wanderings to sift though, but I am feeling so much better and calmer thanks to Dr. Seuss and The Lorax.   If you have not seen this movie (Whether you have children or not) I will definitely say go out and get it or rent it from iTunes or the Google Play store. It is worth your time.

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

Sunrise

I remember sleeping-in… The weekend rolled around and all I would want to do is rest like I couldn’t do during the week. Well, that was true for me when I was still living in the States. Now in Indonesia… the call to prayer opens my eyes at 4am every morning. There are some days that I can sleep through it, and there are others when it seems as loud as the singing rooster alarm clock I had growing up. But regardless if I sleep past the Mosque’s wakeup call or not, my feet hit the floor by 5:15 every morning. Needless to say it took quite a bit of adjusting when I first arrived.

Indonesian Sunrise

This morning was definitely a day that I couldn’t sleep through prayer. I decided to get a head start on everything and maybe eat breakfast with the family (normally I am walking into the kitchen as the rest of the household is finishing breakfast). I went through my normal routine of stumbling to the sink outside of my bedroom door to brush my teeth, wincing in agony as I swish Vanilla Mint Listerine in my mouth for the recommended 60 seconds, and then heading into the washroom where I bravely chant “Wake up and embrace the day!”as I plunge the blue bucket into the freezing cold water tub and then throw it on my body over and over in rapid succession (each splash is usually followed by a gasp or scream), lather, and then repeat.

After I was washed, dried, dressed, and was thawing out; I ventured outside to listen to prayer and take a moment to look at my village as the farmers head out to the fields and the women start their daily chores of laundry, sweeping, cooking, and washing. A couple of kids could be seen running around outside, some naked as they had gotten away from their mothers in pure refusal of taking a bath. It the midst of all the happenings the sunrise became more prominent and it absolutely took my breath away. I found myself smiling like a fool and taking in a deep breath. It felt refreshing and renewing. I automatically felt like it was going to be a wonderful day, and I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else at that moment than in my tiny village in Indonesia.

Later I found that my smile lasted all day. My morning portion of rice tasted pretty good, and my classes were even more enjoyable… I didn’t even get upset with my students for not paying attention, and I had a little more energy to teach than normal since my accident.

I have seen my fair share of beautiful sunsets… picture perfect.. with colors rich an beautiful. Yet this sunrise had a bit of a deeper effect on me this morning. Maybe it is because instead of the day ending as it does with the sunset…. I was welcoming the start of a new day. Who knows. Only one thing is certain… It was a bloody fantastic day!

Good Morning

It’s Not Always Easy

** Let me preface this post by saying that I have shied away from going into major details about my current ‘job’ and living situation to avoid wrong impressions, misunderstandings, and bias opinions, that and I am required to attach a disclaimer to anything I write about it… which becomes a bit annoying… but that being said, please know that the writings and ideas in this post and blog in no way reflect the views and opinions of the United States government or Peace Corps. They are mine alone and should be viewed as such.**  

After college I went through a very LONG phase where I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, I didn’t understand about the real world, and things that presented a challenge were easier to run away from than deal with. Then at age 27, I found myself single, living on my own, with a list of employment history that had nothing to do with my college degree. I had just been laid off for the third time in three years and hit a downward spiral of depression and confusion. I was unhappy with my life and myself because I was not doing anything the benefited anyone for the greater good. My contributions to society were nil. I thought about joining the military, but was way too out of shape and had a BMI way too high to even be considered… and the thought of going to war didn’t sit very well with me (I have never been much of a fighter).  So one day I sat crying in my bedroom not knowing what was going to happen to me, when I remembered a Peace Corps seminar I had gone to my freshman year of college. I went to the website, read everything I could, and then decided… “What the hell! You only have one life to live.”

After a very very long application (complete with essay questions and an aspiration statement) that took about a month to complete, I was granted an interview with a recruiter in Atlanta. My interview went great and I was passed to go onto the next part of the process… Medical, dental, financial, and background clearance.  I was deemed acceptable except for still having my wisdom teeth. So at the beginning of 2011 after 7 months of starting the application process I was invited to join the Peace Corps and serve in Indonesia… (Pending the removal of all 4 of my wisdom teeth by 30 days prior to my departure). I would leave in April… over a year after I started the application.

Before this I had never been out of the country.. hell I had never been off of the East Coast. Now I have been living in Indonesia for almost a year (April will be one year). I can say with all honesty that I love this experience. I spend my time teaching in a Muslim High School, and my students mean the world to me. They are always happy to see me coming and

Scenery While Walking

always have a smile to share with me. I live with a host family who is like a real family in every sense of the word… we fight, we annoy each other, we fight over the remote, and who gets the last brownie on the plate! I have visited places and seen things that I would never in a million years have imagined that I would have the opportunity to see. And I can say with all honesty that Indonesia is absolutely beautiful.

But to say that this is easy would be a horrible lie. It is hard as hell. I am living in a country that doesn’t know English. Every day I have to communicate in 3 different languages that I

Flower Lady

barely have a grasp on and try to teach my students English when they don’t understand a word I am saying. I have to mingle with my village and community and try to understand their beliefs and culture. Every day I learn something new about Muslim beliefs and practices and Javanese culture. I don’t always agree with the things I learn but I respect them and follow them when it is required of me. Everyone wants to take my picture. Everyone asks me a million times where I am from, where I am going, what I am doing. etc. Honestly there are times when escaping to my room is necessary. But then I sit back and think about everything I am learning from this experience (about life, people, and myself), and everything I hope that the people I come into contact with are learning from me…. it is enough to keep me going.

But it is not like this for everyone. Since arriving in Indonesia with a group of 30 people. I have said goodbye to 8 friends.  8 people who for different reasons have decided that Peace Corps service and / or Indonesia wasn’t the perfect match for them for their 27 months of service. I have been very sad to see these people go, some of them I was very close to… it has even raised questions in myself about if I am doing the right thing by staying. I got hit by a truck. I miss my family. I have three gorgeous nieces that are growing up without me. I went from seeing them every week to having to send them postcards in the mail so that they don’t forget who I am. I have a sister and a mother who mean the world to me, and they are getting on with their lives without me. I miss my friends. I miss food! I miss TV…. and I know that if I just say ‘enough’ I could be on a plane and back in the United States by next week… But then I think about how far I have come, how much I have learned, and how this is the first time in my life where the need to run away from something difficult is not overwhelming my every decision.

Misty Mountain Field

Am I changing the world? No, probably not… but I guarantee that my host family and my students will remember me for the rest of their lives… They will remember the crazy American who lived with them and taught them for two years. They will remember how Miss Angela pushed them to give their all in class and never settled for second rate work when she knew they could do better. I am not saving the world… but I am changing lives (even if it is just one or two people)…. what about that should be easy?