Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Below are a few quick photos I snapped at the Snowboarding world cup - it only makes one stop in the United States - and Telluride is the host!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Snow Globes – you know those cute Christmas globes that have magical scenes, and when you flip them over, all the snow gently lands on the houses and precious neighborhoods and trees and hills?

I live in one. Telluride is one magical snow globe.

Updates – seeing how I have not posted a blog in a while:

I moved to Telluride on a whim. After finishing Southwest Conservation Corps in Durango, I just knew I was not finished living in Colorado. I now live with 2 other crew members and another friend, so it is 4 of us in a cozy 3 bedroom.

I officially have 2 jobs!!!! One of which is working in the Gold Hill Photography Gallery – while selling my work and making commission. They asked me to have rights to 14 of my 20 sample photographs, and I could not be more honored! This is a dream come true! I also am an evening hostess at Capella – an international hotel chain. I want to work there so I get sweet discounts around the world!

I began skiing. I got skis out of a dumpster behind a pro shop, ski boots out of the free box, and ski poles from my roommate. I get free ski lessons and a free season pass through my job at Telluride Ski and Golf, so basically I have no excuse to suck at the end of this season.

I have been to 2 ski lessons and pretty much love it. I am terrible, but on the positive side, I have potential to be ‘most improved’ so that is great news!

I went to San Diego for Thanksgiving and was able to see my sister (newly engaged) and visit with my family-which was great! Overall, it was wonderful to spend the holiday with my family, since last year I was 6,000 miles away.

My roommates and I are setting up our Christmas Tree tonight, along with watching the classic –Love Actually.

Overall, I could not be happier in this cute, sleepy ski town, with great house mates, super sweet jobs, and a ski pass that will (hopefully) keep me motivated all winter long.

Now for the pitch: EVERYONE SHOULD COME VISIT ME! I get 10 half-price full day ski passes, so come up, drink hot chocolate, ski, and hang out with me!

Happy December everyone!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Oh heyyyyy Fall Time!

September 26th

ROUND 3! Here we go again! Our routine is pretty straight forward now, in regards to ‘rigging up’ all our gear and getting out to our campsite, however, we are switching camping locations this hitch.

The new place is even prettier than before, and there is so much wildlife around us! When we got out of the van today, there was a snake right outside our car door welcoming us to our new home.

We cooked spaghetti and hung out while David played the guitar. This job gets better and better every day!

September 27th

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, its off to work we go! Today our work day began after climbing up to 9,500ft at Ponderosa Point. There is a small spring below where we work, and it sounds SO pretty!

I really enjoy my ‘commute’ to work now, which is about an hour and fifteen minute hike. Tomorrow, we start more rock walls (retaining walls that catch the sediment from when the rain erodes parts of the trail).

Last night was FREEZING. I am nervous to go to sleep tonight.

Quote of the day “ The most un-classy thing to do is wipe your booger on a rock because it is too sticky to flick off your finger”.

September 28th

Today I sprained my wrist moving a boulder down part of a hill to make as part of the rock wall, and that made me really upset. It got swollen and hurt all day. Cranky face.

We had to go into town today to Alberstons for water, and I bought 12 orange cream popsicles for the group, because I was really craving ice cream. Theran and I made hot dogs for dinner and then we all went on a night walk, followed by coconut-roasted marshmallows over the fire. Today was great!

Quote of the day “I feel like Michael Jackson with this one glove on, and if I get hurt on the worksite, I can say OWWWW” – Blake

September 29th

Today Kaylie and I finished our beautiful rock wall and had an overall great day at work. Tonight, Theran led us through a meditation circle which was really great. Although, I realize I am very bad at meditation, I cant sit still for very long!

Tomorrow, we are waking up at 5:15 to do an 11 mile hike up to the summit. We are doing it tomorrow because a huge boulder fell in the path at mile 6, so we are taking up rock bars and piks to move it.

Quote of the day “Is your shirt real”? “No, it’s a hologram” – David

September 30th

Today we did close to a 12 mile hike (round trip) and I can hardly feel my toes. I feel very accomplished however, because I had to carry a rock bar (20 lbs.) {1 of 3 rock bars needed to move the rock} down the mountain.

Overall, great day, but I am really missing my family and friends. A lot.

October 1st

HAPPY OCTOBER! Today is our last Friday on the La Luz train and I am so very happy! I feel very accomplished when we hike up the trail and pass all the maintenance that we have done on this trail in the past month and a half.

Kaylie and I put in 2 check steps today – awesome!

*Blog story that may be quite entertaining: today I pooped on my pants and shoe *

I dug the usual ‘cat hole’ to poo in, which needs to be 6-8’’ deep. I don’t know if I was just in a rush to poo, or if my poo came out crooked, but after I finished, I realized that I had pooped on the side of my shoe, and on the top of my pants. I really don’t know how this happened, I thought I was becoming a professional woods pooper, but I guess not.

October 2nd

Today was our 3rd recreational day, and we went to the International Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I got a breakfast burrito, donuts, and cinnamon rolls then we walked around the city and I got some used photography books. GOSH I love rec day! I also bought hot pink nail polish at Walgreens for $1 and painted all the girls’ nails on my crew.

Things I don’t want to eat ANY MORE: peanut butter, oatmeal, dried potatoes, dried milk.

October 3rd
We only have 2 more days left on the Sandia Mountains! Kaylie and I finished our rock wall-check step at the last switchback and we are now slowly moving down the trail with our tools.

Yesterday, when I was in civilization for our rec day, I ate so much junk food and today I had a bad tummy ache all day. No more carnival food before having to hike 6 miles!

There was a huge rainstorm last night, another tonight; fall is definitely here!

October 4th

We just finished up some more benching today (widened the trail) and that was pretty much it, very un-eventful!

Blake and I tried to sleep outside last night under the stars, but it began to rain after 40 minutes, so that was unsuccessful.

October 5th

LAST HIKE UP! Today we did some re-vegetation and collected all our tools from our tool cash, and headed down the mountain. I feel so accomplished! From the first day to the last day, I feel so much more empowered, and very confident in my work. I am so happy, our trail looks AWESOME!!!!

October 6th

Its time to sharpen tools, clean tents, and head home! We are headed back to the farm tonight to do a service project for AmeriCorps again, and then we begin our break soon! All I want is a shower : )

October 7th

This morning, all the SCC bosses cooked eggs and bacon for us at the farm, it was so good! All of the crews (around 50 of us) got our PPE on and went to go take down barbed wire fencing for the farm. It was really boring and I got stabbed by the fence a few times. Our de-rig time is late today, but that’s okay. Tonight, Kaylie and I are headed to Telluride, and I am looking forward to finally being on break!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hitch #2

September 12th

Today it took all of my strength to get back into “neckbeard” (our van name) and go back out on hitch. I was debating even coming back, but thought that I should give it another shot. Plus, once I try something, its usually the most difficult time at the beginning, then it gets easier…

So we loaded up all our dried foods, packed our tents, grabbed our tools, and headed out. Overall, today, I am glad I came back. My crew members and crew leaders are just super, and I enjoy the idea of living in nature.

As soon as we got to Piedro Lisa Trailhead, my crew leader, Ross, said “home sweet home”, and at that moment I got really cranky. This part of the job of living outside is an emotional roller coaster, but overall, it is a very positive experience.

Tomorrow morning it is back to the grind at 5:45am. Jumping back into hiking, push-ups, and plants, and trail restoration. WOOT WOOT!

September 13th

Today we hiked up to where we left off, its really cool to hike past parts we have already restored. Today I can proudly say that I was not out of breath within the first 5 minutes. THANK GOD!

We made more check steps, water bars, rock walls, and drainages. I really enjoy re-vegetation where people make social trails and “spider off” the normal trail, its cool to patch those places off so that people stay on the normal trail and don’t contribute to erosion or damaging natural restoration areas.

While I was picking away at the granite today to widen parts of the trail, I realize that I have so much time to think! Its really a different mind-set to have 9 hours a day just to think.

YES, it sounds weird, I know, but there a really not many distractions on the trail while I am working (except for the flies circling around me). I think it is really great to be alone with all my thoughts, but also very intimidating. Whenever I get an idea in my head of what I aspire to do, or what I dream of, my “rationalism” always talks me down… of ‘oh I can’t do it”. My goal for this hitch is to believe in myself, and not let my doubts interfere with my potential. Every day that goes by, I feel as though I am learning so much just by listening to my thoughts.

September 14th

Last night I slept outside, with no tent. Just my sleeping bag on a tarp. This is the first time I have every “cowboy camped” and I was really scared. We all layed out our sleeping bags under the stars and told stories and jokes and went to bed way after our ‘bed time’ (aka when the sun sets).

I was 99% sure that I was going to wake up with a bear licking the chap stick off my face, but luckily, I woke up in 1 piece with no animals eating my flesh. To wake up and make breakfast with the stars still above me was pretty cool!

Just being in civilization for 2 days between hitches gave me a great appreciation for the things we have, but also it reminds me of how much I enjoy simplicity.

Today when we were on trail, we met some business men who were taking the day off. They told US that they were jealous of OUR view from the office. Pretty cool! Just another reminder to keep things in perspective!

September 15th

Last night we cowboy camped again, it was so wonderful! This morning I got a bloody nose on the way to work and we were already really far up the trail so I could not turn around and go get some tissues I had, so I had to rummage through the first aide kit, and the only thing I could use to stop the blood was a tampon up my nose!

Today we worked a 10 hour day and then hiked up to Ponderosa Point, it was a MARVELOUS view, but I am really sore and tired now. Looking forward to cowboy camping night #3…

September 16th

3 things made my day:

1) we cowboy camped again for the 3rd night in a row
2) this morning we did a toast (with our water bottles) at safety circle and physical training. Every time a person did a stretch or an activity, they toasted to something they were thankful for. Some people toasted top sunsets, hiking, night starts, a simple lifestyle etc. I toasted to a healthy and able body, because too many times I take for granted the ability to hike up a mountain with my own two feet.
3) this morning I was the 3rd person to get to work – meaning I was not the last person hike up and arrive at our trail destination! YAY!

Tonight I am on dinner and our food cash is really low, so I will be making powdered potatoes and mac and cheese… YAY CARBS!

September 17th

Today was a lot of hard work on the trail. My crew member, David, and I, had to make a water bar on the side of a switchback, and it took us 5 hours to place a 350lb. rock.

We made it down from the mountain in less than 1 hour, so that was sweet, I am really tired. Tonight we are having our 1st ever campfire, and we are making s’mores. Tonight is night #5 of cowboy camping!

Quote of the day: “The things you own will end up owning you”.

September 18th

Today was our 2nd rec day and we went to Santa Fe for our day and met up with 2 other crews! We walked around art galleries and ate delicious food, and went swimming at a recreational center. I also went jewelry shopping and got some sweet turquoise earrings!

Tomorrow I am on breakfast and we are heading up closer and closer to Ponderosa Point!

Quote of the day “A little less talk, a little more action!”

September 19th

Today David and I finished up our 3 day long project of placing a water bar at the side of the switchbacks. The view today from work was the best EVER! The higher we get, the more I love it!

We got back from work and Theron’s family brought us chili dogs after work, the were amazing and the greatest surprise ever! We then took a hike after dinner (crazy I KNOW, I never thought I would do more hiking after work hours), and watched the sunset, I got some great photos of las lunas (the moons) from the top! Hahahahaha

September 20th

Today the trail was pretty calm, we are still working on the last switchback before Ponderosa Point, and we are hiking approximately 5 – 6 miles a day.

Today we met Dave, the 83 year old man that I wrote about in my last blog, who has hiked the trail over 1,000 times and is a legend on the Sandia Mountains! He just got back from a 8 day hiking trip in the Sierra Mountains, can I say badass? What an inspirational man!

I am at the grossest and stinky-est and dirtiest phase I have ever been, and it is starting to really make me sick. I love nature and all, but I also do love running water and showers.

Quote of the day “I promise to never take my body for granted. It is the best gift I have”.

September 21st

Today was our last full day of our 2nd hitch! YAY! The thunderstorm last night made everyone get poor sleep, since we were all 100% sure we were going to be struck by lightning. Today it was humid because of the storm, I felt like I was in Flordia!

We “cashed” our tools at the top of the mountain, so that we don’t have to carry them up next hitch, which I am SO thankful for! Tonight we had our 2nd campfire, and we made banana boats: which consist of a banana split in half, with marshmellows and chocolate pieces on the inside. Next time I am going to step it up and put graham cracker pieces on the inside too!

September 22nd

BACK TO THE FARM! We packed up all our things and headed back to Durango, Colorado. We had to do an AmeriCorps service project that consisted of shoveling cow shit into a huge pile (and I mean HUGE) for compost reasons to make the farm a sustainable agriculture location.

I never thought I would be shoveling shit with a Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology. It was a humbling day.

September 23rd

Weekend synopsis: I had no place to stay or shower when I arrived, so Blake and I went to the local soup kitchen to shower and eat. We then met Tyler, a fantastic guy who let us Couchsurf at his place. Today I went to “Mutts on the Mountain” and we took all the dogs for a nice long hike along the Lightner Creek Trail to get the dogs out of their cages. I WANT ALL OF THEM!!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Southwest Conservation Corps

August 29th

Today was somewhat indescribable. I showed up at 8:30 am to see 60 young individuals who are all here to make a difference. They are all granola eating, bike riding, dread-wearing, nature loving hippies. I was looking around an saw that I had better hygiene than 90% of the people. Moral of the story: I am not in Orange County anymore. We got crew orientation and AmeriCorps briefing, and did a lot of paperwork. We then loaded up all our dried foods, got assigned our gloves, hard hats, safety goggles, and shirts and packed into a van. We then went to a grocery store to buy fresh produce for the 12 day hitch.

We are all now staying at a farm tonight to get up at 5:45am to drive to the Sandia trail that leads to New Mexico. My crew mate, Blake, and I made hamburgers and pasta with BBQ sauce for dinner, and we did a dish was that made me want to vomit. There are 4 disgusting bins that we put our dishes into, and then rinsed them with water. Its disturbing. We did a few ice breakers, like saying our favorite vegetable with our tounges out, and the last person to laugh wins the game. I was dying laughing.

I am nervous tomorrow because:
a) I am not a morning person
b) It hailed today, and it was freezing!
c) I forgot I signed paperwork that said something to the effect that I can walk 15 miles with a 50 pound backpack on
Day 1 was a success

Quote of the day: “How many people does it take to flip burgers?”

August 30th

This morning we woke up at 5:45am to pack up tents and get going on the road. On the way we got all our tools to work on the trails, and I can honestly say I have never seen half of them. We met with a forest service ranger and did a 5 hour hike with him to discuss what needs to be done to the trails.My body is already sore from carrying the tools and hiking, we are at a base elevation of 7,000 feet, and I was sucking wind after 10 minutes of hiking. My crew is super funny and entertaining, and I am really happy to be working with them.

The mountain here is beautiful. When I am tired and sweaty, all I have to do is look up and be reminded of why I am here.Today we are told by the forest service that there is an 83 year old man who hikes the trail every week, and has done it over 1,000 times. His name is Dave, and I am really excited to meet him. What a cool person!

The camping aspect of this is really cool, but also intimidating. I am already sweaty and have multiple coats of bug spray + sunscreen + dirt on me. Yum. Overall, the serenity here is awesome. I would write more, but have to wake up at 5:30am to make breakfast for the crew. We have a strict chore list.

August 31st

Today was our first real 9 hour day of work and I almost died. I had to cook breakfast with David and we made eggs. We had to do dishes and be in Safety Circle/Physical Training at 6:30am. We start with push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks etc to get our heart rate up before starting the climb. I wanted to die. After safety circle, we collected all our tools and headed up. Our crew is only 7 people, since a couple of people already dropped. We carried up 22 tools and they were shovels, pick mattocks, sledge hammers, rock bars etc.

I had to carry 2 picks and 1 hoe (ahahhahaha) along with my gallon of water, hardhat, and lunch. No joke, when I got to the spot where we were supposed to work, I wanted to vomit. We began work and made water bars, drainages, and rock walls. After 4 hours of swinging a pick, I could NOT move my back. The trail we are working on is beautiful, so that keeps me going.

To be honest, I hate nature today. And I hate camping today.

September 1st

Today was the 2nd day of work, and I got up at 5:45 and could hardly roll out of my tent. I feel as though I have endured a lot of pain by training for a marathon, but have never felt this type of pain before. It is a whole new feeling. It was like I had metal rods in my back. Yesterday we “Cashed” the tools so luckly we did not have to carry them up today. However, my crew are part billy-goat, and RUN up the mountain. Not cool.

After using the double-jack for the first time and also using a saw, I was able to mix up my muscle usage, and began to get feeling in my back again. I drank 5 liters of water today and didn’t pee once. Sweaty much? The flies are already following me.

I am scared and nervous because I don’t like to quit things, but I am tempted to hitch-hike back to AZ right now. This is my first really physically demanding manual labor job, and I am not liking it. Today I also got really offended, because a few hikers thought we are part of a chain gang. I was legit PISSED.

Quote of the day “Its not the destination, it’s the journey”

September 2nd-
After just 27 hours of intense manual labor and hiking, I have bloody ankles. I am covered in a stinky paste. When we had to do our safety circle and physical training today, I almost barfed during push ups. They do this thing called “super happy fun times”. Its pushups, plank, push ups, side plank, push ups, other side plank, pushups, plank. All for 30 seconds each.

Positive note: my stubbornness is paying off. I am not quitting this shit. I like the people, and the view, and that is enough to keep me going. I was looking for a new perspective, and I am getting it. When I was complaining about pooping in the forest, Blake positively said “its beautiful, you get a new view every time!!! Bathrooms are so boring”. I love it.

I get to see the sun rise every morning, and the sun set every evening. I really shouldn’t complain.

September 3rd-

We are working on retaining walls today, and its to help erosion from happening on the trails. We widen the trails, called “benching”. We also work on dry masonry, which is pretty sweet. You build a wall with rocks and dirt. No cement. No nails. No wood. We have to ensure that every rock on the rock wall has 3 points of contact, and its kind of like a puzzle piece. Its cool to see hikers pass us by and tell us that they appreciate the work we are doing to restore the trails, and its nice to see people out and enjoying nature.

I am happy to be here because I am finally matching my actions with my words. I preach and preach about conversation efforts and being involved with nature, so I am doing it. That, in and of itself, makes me happy.

September 4th

Today was our first recreational day and we went to the aquarium and botanical gardens, compliments of SCC. It was pretty sweet to hang out with my crew members and have a nice day off.

September 5th-

Today we talked about goals after work:

Personal goal: to finish

Professional goal: to carry my weight of the group, and be supportive

Educational goal (AmeriCorps): get a job for early November, or make sure I have a place to travel to.

Today at work we make a check step and did more trail widening. Kaylee and Blake made some delicious Thai pasta and Theron busted out his ukulele and Blake started playing a harmonica. It was great!

I wish (CRAZY) that I had my phone to call people, I love being part of the wilderness, but also miss keeping in touch with people. I want to start looking into graduate schools when I return, as well as picking a new place to visit.

Also today I realized that my biggest weakness is being vounerable. I hate asking for help, I am stubborn, and I have a hard time trusting people…..

My goal for the next 2 months is to work on that. Being out here in nature, meeting nice people on the trail, working with people who are dedicated to the greater good, thinking of friends back home who are loyal and kind, and missing my supportive and loving family, these are all GREAT reminders that I should have MUCH MORE in people, including myself.

Quote of the day “ This large boulder in our trail can be used as a metaphor in life, when a large rock gets in your life path – jackhammer the shit out of it”

September 6th-

Today was labor day, and we were definitely laboring over the trails. WE are building our second retaining wall to prevent erosion down the mountain side. I really like my crew and their free spirited nature, I have so much to learn from them

Quote of the day “ Life begins where your comfort zone ends”

September 7th-
Today is our last full day of work! Horray! This is just giving me a little life lesson to slow down. As I realize we are going back into town, my mind starts racing of all the things I have”to do” when I get back, then I realize I am NUTS and just need to relax.

September 8th-

Today we packed up camp and headed back to the farm to clean our tools and tents, there was a huge thunderstorm, (I mean crazy storm), and we re-joined with the other 13 crews and shared stories.

I am really excited to get back and shower, as well as catch up with family and friends!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Backcountry Diva

Hey Friends! This will be my last blog before I begin my trek up the Colorado mountains with the Southwest Conservation Corps.
As I check and double-check my packing and equipment list that was given to me by SCC, I thought it may be entertaining to see what I am bringing for a 60 day backcountry working/living/sleeping/eating experience.

Just looking over this list makes me SUPER excited, nervous, and nauseous. By participating in this program, I have a feeling that it will provide me with exactly what I am looking for: a fresh perspective, a chance to help the environment, a change in living, and an opportunity to meet more really incredible people. I may die from altitude sickness, or chop off my leg with a chain saw, but overall, I still cant get the smile off my face!!!!!!!

High-traction, weatherproof hiking boots
Rain Gear
Wool Socks
Long Underwear
Safety Glasses
Quick-Dry Pants
Backpack – internal frame 55L
Sleeping bag with compression sack
Sleeping pad
Water bottles
Stuff sack for food
Day pack
Lunch Tupperware
Warm hat
Bathing suit
Insect repellent
Head lamp
Nylon cord
Tampons (I refuse the divacup)
Plastic bags
Pack rain cover

We are not allowed to bring computers, iPods, cell phones, etc. We are encouraged to bring books, fishing gear, sewing kits, songs, and stores….

I am going to do my best to keep an up-to-date journal and then post it on my blog when I have a chance.

For everyone who has helped me by lending or buying me equipment, I cannot thank you enough. Also, for those who have offered me support just by believing in me, I am so very thankful. I am looking forward to seeing what the next 2 months will bring!


Monday, August 9, 2010

South Korea vs Colorado

Hey Friends,
For those of you who know my recent struggle with getting a job in South Korea; I will now sum it up. I applied through Footprints Recruiting and was accepted to teach in Daegu. After all the positions were filled in that providence, I was then asked to fill out a supplemental application and was then re accepted to teach English in Seoul. Long story short: My visa and Notice of Appointment was not given to me in time, so now I am locked out of a position until the next wave of applicants. I am currently on a waiting list for positions that may open up, however they say that this year is the lowest drop out rate of the program - meaning that my paperwork is in order, but now all the spots are filled.

In the mean time, I applied for a job with the Southwest Conservation Corps in Durango, CO, and was accepted. As much as it sounds tempting to stay here in California and live with people I love, work at a job I know, and stay in weather I enjoy, I just can't. I preach so much about being too young to settle, so I guess now it is time to put those thoughts into motion.

I am really really scared about this whole thing. Yes, I have camped before, and yes, I have done some backpacking, but not to this extreme. Not showering for 11 days while doing manual labor for 10 hours a day, all while sleeping in a sleeping bag (that I hope is warm enough), and pooping in the forest... it all sounds a bit scary.
HOWEVER: I think I may fall in love with it. And if not, well, at least I tried.


Explore the Southwest – Experience the Outdoors!
The Southwest Conservation Corps is currently hiring motivated young adults to complete conservation projects throughout Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Projects may include, trail construction & maintenance, fencing, habitat improvement, hazardous fuels reduction and re-vegetation. Each crew consists of 6-8 members and 2 leaders. Crews work and camp for up to 11 days at a time in frontcountry and backcountry locations in all types of weather conditions. Schedule may vary depending on location and program. SCC crews work in a variety of national parks, national forests and other areas throughout the Southwest. Crews prepare all their own meals and work together as a group to complete all the necessary chores.
Our programs focus on place based learning, life skills development, appreciation of diversity, civic responsibility and career development. SCC also has an educational program that offers corpsmembers an opportunity to learn about the local environment, environmental issues and introduces individuals to recreation and resource management careers.
General Qualifications
Corpsmembers must make a strong commitment to complete the program.
You will be expected to take a serious attitude toward safety all day and every day.
Corpsmember must be willing to work hard, participate as part of a team.
Corpsmembers MUST be willing and able to refrain from smoking, alcohol, or drugs while participating in the SCC program.
The use of technology, including cell phones, iPods, MP3 players, and other battery powered devices is prohibited in the field, unless it is a day off. Corpsmembers must agree that they will not use these types of technology while participating in an SCC program.
Substance Free
Corpsmember must be willing to appropriately represent the SCC Program.
Members are expected to complete projects that involve heavy lifting, hiking, and living outdoors for an extended period of time.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Just waiting for life- oh wait....

I feel like I am sitting around, just waiting for life to happen. I am waiting for job offers, visas, paperwork, housing, friends to come back, people to see, weddings to attend, families to visit.... and then it hits me:

We are supposed to be living right now. NOT in the future, and not until life gets a little bit better. Life is perfect, as is.

This is just a little self-reminder that things are WONDERFUL - right now.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An Honest Thought...

I am sitting at a computer in the library trying to read 2 scientific articles in regards to my marine invertebrate laboratory that I work in.

The reading is not going well.

Being back in Orange County has flipped my world upside down. Not in a bad way, not in a good way. I just realize how much my priorities have changed. I am completely lost - just and wondering what my next step should be. Sometimes I get caught up in our societies 'meaning for success', and then I take a step back and realize what I learned throughout the past year.

Enjoy every day. Be thankful. It's pretty simple.

It can be a day at the park, getting ice cream with kids, eating dinner with friends, taking naps on a picnic blanket, romping around tulip gardens, reading a good book, taking a bike ride, enjoying a good conversation on the patio while sipping wine, laying by a pool, Skyping with friends, visiting friends on the other side of the world, eating watermelon, taking pictures, giving good hugs, talking with family, listening to travel stories, taking a road trip through France, listening to great music, or just remembering fond memories.

 I wont forget the people who made a difference in my life.I miss my friends dearly who are still living in Europe, and for all my friends who live back East.

It kills me inside to hear people say "try not to think about the past, just look into the future". That is complete shit. The happy memories that I have with the greatest people in the world are what keeps me going. It is what keeps me motivated to continue to travel, try new things, and meet new people - because I would have never moved without the support of my family, high school, and college friends; and I would have never stayed in Europe without the acceptance and love of my European friends and host family.

Visiting with my friends who still live in Orange is the only thing that is keeping me in the area. Having the comfort of seeing familiar faces is so refreshing and heart warming. For those of you who are here, supporting my transition back to California, thank you. You don't know how much it means to me.

TO SUM IT UP: it doesn't matter how many possessions I have or what job I am working. It comes down to being so very happy to have the greatest friendships in the whole world, even if we are 2,000 or 3,000, or 6,000  miles away - just know you are greatly appreciated.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Last Blog in Belgium

Hello Friends! I guess the saying “time flies when you are having fun” is not just a cliché, its real life. I only have 10 days left as a resident of Belgium before stepping back into reality and moving stateside. Thank you everyone who has read my blog throughout these 10 months, it means the world to me.

As for a few fantastic events within the last couple of weeks…

My sister and I ventured up to The Netherlands to visit the Keukenhof gardens, which is by far one of the prettiest places I have ever been. I believe it ties for beauty and awe with the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef. I mean, it was unreal. There are a few pictures below that can’t even begin to really represent how nice it was. For all of you who will be living or visiting Europe between April and May of next year, put this on your to-do list! 

Glory and Filip surprised Joy, Kate, and myself with Disneyland Paris tickets!!!! They woke the girls up extra early in the morning and asked them to eat breakfast. The girls were really confused as to why they were up so early, then Glory and Filip handed us the train tickets! SO, we packed a little backpack and were off! We spent 8 hours there and it was just marvelous! I took the girls on the Indiana Jones ride for the first time and they loved it so much we went on it twice! Then I took Kate on the Hotel Tower of Terror and she was SO brave! She is only 6 years old!!!

I just returned from a 4 day road trip to coast of Northern France to visit the Beaches of Normandy. That was an unforgettable road trip with Louise, Henriikka, Lucy, and Alisha, and we camped and sat on the beach, ate, and drank. It was an incredibly spontaneous trip; we had no plans and went with the flow (and actually had to sleep in the car one night- which had so many funny moments I laughed till I cried). We went to the American Cemetery where over 9,000 soldiers are buried after World War II, and paid our respects at Omaha Beach. It was a great closure to spend a weekend with the girls who have so positively influenced my experience here in Belgium.

Now for the sappy part. When I got home from the road trip Fillips’ parents (so Joy, Kate, and John’s grandparents) were here and I wanted them to sleep in my room so they could have their own space. Upon arrival, I was tired and wanted to sleep. There is an extra floor mat in John’s room so I slept on his floor after showering and unpacking. By the time I laid down on the floor in John’s cute little room, he was already sound asleep. Just laying there and listening to that little angel snoring had me in complete tears.

Looking around the room I saw all his puzzles, his make-believe kitchen set, tool kit, car and train track set, and his cute little books he likes to listen to at bed time. At that moment it hit me: I am going to miss every single aspect of living here, and I love  this family so much. 

These children are my inspiration; they keep me young, honest, and dreaming. I am going to miss their random questions, their thoughts about the world, the way they hug me, the way they run in my room like there are no boundaries, the way they sing in the car, and the way they use their creativity.

When Glory’s wallet got stolen, the first thing Kate said was “well, maybe that person needed the money more than we did”.
John pretends to talk on the telephone when he has a question.
Joy always gives me riddles to figure out, and makes me laugh.
Kate holds my hand when I take her to gymnastics.
John likes pooping in my toilet the best.
Joy is always creating things (like Polly Pocket houses) with leftover garbage.

I could go on and on about how much I love these kids, but I don’t need to. Anyone will be able to tell how dearly I am going to miss them by the way I smile when I talk about them.

SO: this blog is dedicated to the most wonderful host family I could have ever dreamed of, and for more life-long friends that I met in Belgium who are going to stay etched in some of my fondest of memories forever.

As for my soul mates who are back in the states: I am REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU ALL!!! Thank you everyone who has visited me in Belgium (that was incredible to have so many fantastic visitors), written me letters in the mail, kept in touch with Skype, e-mailed me, Facebooked me, and called me. I appreciate your support and your time. I am looking forward to catching up with you all… but after I give you a 20 minute hug!!!!!!!!!!