"...He prayeth well, who loveth well, Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best, All things both great and small;
for the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all..."

The Rime of the Anchient Mariner -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Life on 'el Rancho'

It's taking me a while to figure out where to begin. Like all new 'beginings' the last two weeks have gone by quickly. Fitting into a new host family, forming new working relationships & friendships, and trying to observe as much of people's routines and interactions as possible. I was sick for most of last week, but am doing much better now.

As if it could be any other way, I love my new host family and decided to stay with them through the holidays. They are the sweetest people; there are seven little kids in the extended family. They are such neat kids and very smart. I've started helping them with their homework, and have started teaching them how to work my computer (1-on-1). I'll start teaching them the English alphabet soon, but it's going to take some brainstorming as I don't have any teaching materials as yet. One thing that's pretty cool is that they chant my name sometimes when I come home, so they are like my own little fan club, lol. I have 3 host-sisters who are about my age. They were reserved at first, but they are starting to get used to me & we've started sharing pictures and stories about our life. I saw a pic of my host mom in custume when she was an extra for the Zorro film w/ Atonio & Katherine Zeta. One of my host sisters was on the cooking crew and had some fuzzy shots of Antonio; apparently she used to get flowers from some of the americans that were trying to woo her & one offered to take her back to the states (as a bride I suppose). My host-family has a very modest way of life & a humble home, but feel honored to be a part of it.

Challenges to life on in 'el Rancho' as they call the community is that it is underdeveloped (no jobs) and appears to have been forgotten by time. It's very dusty since there are no paved roads. The most interesting attraction is the Hacienda where they filmed el Zorro, but it's privately owned & is not counted on as a source of tourism for the community (yet?). There is one elementary school and a tele-middle school (lessons given on dvd/vhs), and few kids actually finish the middle school. There is a big trash problem in the community, along with a myriad of other environmental issues.

My community is part of a National Protected Area. There is a huge errosion problem caused by overgrazing (which is being addressed) & from the brick-making industry (which is not being addressed). The brick-makers actually take all the dirt leading up to and around the trees/cactae which causes them to die; each bricking-maker burns 200 tires a day in the kilns & there are 1500 brick makers in the municipality. There is llegal harvesting of trees to be used/sold for wood burning stoves, iillegal harvesting of rare cactae for sale, and the capturing of endangered bird species for sale. The presence of a thermo-electric plant, a paper mill, water intensive agriculture and exhaustive presense of Thermal Roman Bath houses all contribute to the lowering of the water table...the same thermal waters that have made this area of Mexico famous.

As an Environmental Educator, I have my work cut out for me. On the one hand, I've only been there two plus weeks, and the holiday season is upon us, so I really can't expect to get too much done. The American side of me is starting to feel ancy about needing to do something fruitful to announce my presense and inevetable positive impact on the community (lol, the PC calls this an Early Win). One nice thing is that I have a lot of discretion with how I want to approach formulation of an environmental education program.

On the other hand, I have no environmental education experience, so I'm going to be teaching myself & that will take time. I have'nt really thought about this because I've been busy assimilating other things...

It seems overwhelming, but considering that Environmental Education programs take years (5, 10, 15) to become part of the culture, I believe we have to start somewhere!

Other noteworthy news:
-I'm over halfway through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo--what an awesome book!
-I'm invited to a quiceaniera this Friday! Should be fun
-I'm considering getting broadband for internet usage (if it's feasable, I'll likely get it)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A very special Veteran´s Day

I feel proud that my service to my country continues outside of Coast Guard. Yesterday I swore in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I wasn´t sure how to describe how I was feeling in the days/hours leading up to the Swearing-in Ceremony and departure from our training environment; everything from ready, numb, nervous, and sad. Sometimes i don´t understand the way i feel, but at this point, it could be said that I am in awe of what is happening in my life. Saying good-bye to my friends and host family between yesterday and today was sad, but I can´t help but feel it´s the natural progression of events. I´m happy everything has worked out, and I am proud to be part of a legacy of peace.

Today I will move into my new host family´s home, and my work as a developement professional (aka Environmental Educatation Volunteer).

Today I am living the fulfillment of my heart´s hopes and dreams. I am going to live it, knowing that this is my choice; in the words a mentor of mine, "you love what you choose, you can´t choose what you love."

One quick note, I had the very distinct privilige to deliver a speach at our Swearing In Ceremony. It was short and from the heart, and among those with tearing eyes was the US Ambassador to Mexico! Maybe I´ll shape up to be a diplomat or president afterall.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dia de Los Muertos etc

I've lived in Mexico for over two months now, and next week I swear in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer. I feel ready to move onto the next stage of Peace Corps with all its unknowns & uncertainties...grow or die, sink or swim, thereby go I.

One of my hopes for the next two years that I will be in Mexico is that I never cease to be amazed and that I never cease to be inspired.

In general I am amazed by so many things here: the pretty skies, the weather, the food, the friendly people, the churches, how everyone instinctively knows how to dance, free events for the performing arts on any given day easily accessable to everyone, and the fact that (in my humble opinion) the Mexicans celebrate Halloween better than Americans!

They actually really celebrate Day of the Dead (today November 2nd) but they've started incorporating Halloween, so for the last three days I've seen kids walking around in Halloween customes (for three days). Plus, every main plaza in the city is packed with food stands, custome stands, candy stands, and main stages with free events daily. I'm especially amazed of the Mexican concept of the Long Weekend, which they call 'el puente' or the bridge....so if your Holiday is in the middle of the week, it is most probable that a long weekend/puente will be given and you will get 4-5 day holiday!! I've been celebraing Day of the Dead since last Friday!!

To celebrate Day of the Dead people make alters (alter making competitions, in the plazas & in the homes), and eat Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead). They go to the cemetaries and clean off the graves of their loved ones; I have never see a cemetary so full of people! There were mariachi's singing around graves, the cemetaries were so colorful and festive, with family members working, eating, singing, and drinking. My favorite was an entire family sitting around the grave, strumming the guitar & all singing their loved one's favorite drinking songs-it was so heartfelt, happy and sad all at the same time.

Death being my least favorite subject, I gather that the point of Day of the Dead is more than just commemorating their dead loved ones. It's more to put everyone on the same playing field, and to point out that no one escapes death, whether rich or poor, beatiful or ugly, cunning or otherwise. A socialistic outlook on death...much like many other aspects of life in Mexican society.

Monday, October 4, 2010

An Old Epiphany

I run, I teach, I travel, and I make the Social Section of the local newspaper...yes, it's all true!

1) This Sunday I ran a 10K here in Queretaro (the State capital). It was an excellent event w/over 1000 participants (my guess). It was in honor of the continueing bicentenial celebration. I was so inspired by the runners; these weren't your average American event racers (eg avid cross country runners), rather they were regular people (the fit and not-so-fit) who were running and doing great. As a side note, this was the first time I wore shorts in public here in Mexico b/c women rarely wear shorts. Those who know me know that running has become one of my passions, and I'm so happy I've been able to keep it up (so far). I do a LOT of walking though, and I really enjoy it. BTW, 10K/6.2mi in 58 minutes...not bad for only running once a week.

2) Six weeks into the 12 week PC Training I had the opportunity to move out of my Spanish class and work at an NGO (non-gov org), where I can use my Spanish in a more practical setting. Last week I started teaching an Intro to English class at a local NGO. At first I was a little apprehensive, because I get stage-fright and what do I know about teaching?? Well, like all things in life, you do some reading, you ask knowledgeable people for advice and words of inspiration, and you let yourself be inspired by other people's confidence. So my first day was awesome! I spent three hours on the ABC's, and have been making impressive progress thereafter. My students are women who never finished high school, and are taking courses outside of school (like a GED). My introductory class will help them in their English I class as they progress through their coursework. Their positive attitude and enthusiasm inspire me so much!

3) I traveled to San Miguel de Allende this weekend. I was amazed at the architecture of this colonial city. Truly beautiful (pictures to follow). We visited the neighboring thermal hot springs. The open pool there lead into a circular cave connected by a tunnel. I went, I saw, I bathed.

4) The week before last my host family invited me to go with them to their granddaughter's Christening/Baptismal Fiesta. The grand daughter is four months old, and this little girl had a badass party, but it's too bad she'll never remember it! They was a cover band, we were continually served drinks, a three course meal, and dancing. One of the God-parents is a Mexican Soap Opera star. The local newspaper came and was doing interviews and taking pictures. Since I was sitting at the important table, I got my name and picture in the Social Section of the newspaper (in color)!

On a separate note, I was reflecting on an old epiphany I had about the concept of 'paradise.' Essentially we think of paradise as a place (in heaven or possibly earth), but my idea is that 'paradise is now.' Thinking of paradise as a time in my life gives me a great sense of appreciation for the events in my past, the necessary stages and pivotal people I've met on my life journey. The amazing way doors keep opening makes me think that life is more than just funny, it is beautiful.

A very personal Thank You to all my family and friends who keep me in their thoughts and prayers. You have no idea how much that means to me;)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How did I let my heart harden?

I've been in Mexico about a month & I've seen so many beautiful places, events, colors, foods etc that I still feel like a tourist. It's all still shiney and new and I've been determined to take in every second hoping my memories will serve me like photographs...determined to live my life.
I currently live in a beautiful city in an upper middle class neighborhood where it's easy to forget that beyond my little world encompassed by my home, the university (where we receive training), and the tourist spots, there are people who struggle to make a living.

Somewhere along the line I started tuning out these people, their faces, and even the goods they work so hard to sell. I went for a wonderful five-mile run this morning, all through the city's 'centro' clear to the otherside of town, running along the 18th Century Aquiduct and back up through the centro; as I crested the hill there I saw a 'Maria' (term given to poor women in indigeonous clothing selling craftwork) selling little butterfly windmills.

The first thought that went through my head was 'no, i don't want to buy a useless windmill.' I crossed the street to see some monuments for a break, and noticed two 3-4 year olds playing around and in a tree. Near them was some craftwork laying on a cloth. I sat down for a few minutes and thought how they reminded me of my brother's kids. Then it occured to me that these kids must be the children of the Maria selling the windmills across the street. Just then two young girls will a bag of torillas walked by me and took them to the kids; they all sat down and distributed these tortillas...their breakfast.

I felt ashamed at the sentiment in my heart. I drop an obscene amount of pesos on frivolas things, and my giving nature gives to those who need it the least. Meanwhile, I won't let myself be bothered by eager faces struggling to make an honest living. I asked myself how I became so miserly. I couldn't remember the last time I gave radomly, unexpectedly, a hand out or otherwise. I felt moved today to change the way I view my money.

As I ran home, I thought about the types of giving: thanks-giving (part of your daily life b/c you are happy to share), grudge-giving (giving you are guilted into), sacrificial-giving (this one is kind of hard to define, but I think of it as giving much more than your left-overs). While I do make very little money relative to the American life I lead, I want for nothing and make more than enough to be wasteful.

My spritual ephipahny was confirmed by today's church service that spoke on the adminstration of our worldly goods. The parting thoughts were to use your money to bless others/make friends, because it's not good for anything else.

Quick thoughts on hand outs: I think my intent is what matters...after all it's likely only $1 peso MEX, (equal to 1 cent US). I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this. Yes, food would be more useful to give away, but it's been a while since i handed out food on the street.

Quick thoughts on haggling: I know myself to be cheap and I get a high on haggling someone down a few dollars or pesos...but I feel less inclined to do it these days. I pick and chose when I do it especially if I know they are raising the price b/c I'm American...

In the end, I hope to be known as generous because that is what life is about.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Viva Mexico 2010

A few highlights to cover since my last blog post.
1) My field trip to Ciudad Guzman in Jalisco Mexico:
I had a great time there & one of my best days so far was the feeling of getting to the top of a dormant volcanoe & hearing the sister volcanoe rumble (ok, it could have been thunder too)--breathing at 11,000ft/4,000m really is hard! Basically, they made the top of the dormant volcanoe a National Park (Nevado de Colima); they are working to implement methods to prevent errossion. caused because the area was logged in the 80's (before it became a national park), so while logging is no longer permitted they still have cattle from the surrounding areas whose owners allow them to roam the National Park--illegal cattle grazing. The owners get fined only after the damage is done (cattle are very destructive)...so the answer is never easy, but this national park does make a good effort to educate the visiting public.

2) The Mexican Bicentenial:
Someone told me this was the event of the century in Mexico, but another person told me this is the way Independence day is celebrated every year. Either way, it was an event of epic proportions. It's difficult to explain in words b/c there was so much going on, but I will attemp.

Mexicans celebrate their indepence on Sept 15th by gathering in their town's main Plaza & at 11pm, when the mayor or govornor leads the crowd in shouting "Viva Mexico" and the crowd shouts back "Viva!" (actual indp day is sept 16th)

We knew the Plaza de Armas in Queretaro would be get so crowded that walking would be impossibe, so we staked out out spots in front of the main fountain, where we sat for 6 hours. We witnessed the lighting of the torch that was to be carried by runners to our sister city 65km away. Then, we had live orchestra music until the main event @ around 10:30. At 9ish I decided I had to use the bathroom, which turned out to be one of the worst mistakes I had made in a long while. By the time I got back, the plaza was so packed that walking through it was impossible. It took me nearly an hour and a half to make it back to my group...but I almost didn't make it. People were snearing at me and I'm really lucky I didn't get hurt. Anyway, I was so happy to make it back I hugged the first person I saw (Dan Evans, the Peace Corps Country Director). So I reclaimed my seat on the fountain, and then the festivities started. The crowd, the snycronous responsive shouting, the music, the AMAZING fireworks display snyced to the music, and being around all my friends (b/c all our group ended up finding us & we had the best spot to congregate around)---now picture all of this for a full 20 minutes.

That sets the scene, here's a video from one of my fellow Peace Corps Trainees John Dye:

Then I came home, and my family was celebrating w/ awesome food & music, and best of all my 65 year old host-mom out danced me & out lasted me that night. I went to bed at 2:30am.

I'm not used to having this much fun!

3) I visit La Catrina!
Ok, not really,...but really.

First let me explain that Mexicans give the manisfestation of death 100+ names and it is represented as a female figure and the most common name is 'La Catrina.' The names range from gods of the prehispanic cultural eras to common names of modern day culture. The names and characterizations are female because in the indigeonous cultures, it was thought life started nine months in the womb and that death was the return to womb/mother earth (i think there were nine levels to death too). So death was not feared, rather it was the natural course of life and the continuation of life...so Mexico's Day of the Dead is a celebration of the lifecycle of those who have died (not as macabre as I had thought before it was explained to me).

My host family happens to live two houses down from an actor who gets hired every year to dress up as La Catrina. He's been doing this for about 11 years and has made a business combining his passion for graphic design and his passion for acting, seeded in Mex culture and folklore, by opening a store that sells shirts/mugs/jewlry/bingo/decks of cards/magets etc all of which have his interpretation Las Catrinas. Meeting him was a real treat, and we ran into him on the street this afternoon...so I know a celebrity. Check out his website at: http://www.calakitas.com.mx/

4) Bernal, Blue corn gorditas & Bubblee:
I returned to el Pen~on de Bernal to hike up to the 3rd largest monolith in the world...I thought to myself, I'm pretty outdoorsy for a girl who is not outdoorsy. Then afterward we visited a champaign winery (even though they call it bubbly wine b/c only bubbly from France can bee called champaign). We took a tour of the caves where the wines & champaigns are fermented. Mariachi's, a bottle of Brut & Rose`, & friends--it was nice.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Field Trip

First let me say, I love this!

Secondly, I realize I can't change the entire world in two years.

I was debriefing my host family on my field trip this week; we were debating the effectiveness of our work in the grand shceme of things. In the end I expressed that the world is relative & if I can reach one person, then it was worth it.

Mexico is complex, yet it is simple. People live simple lives in a complex system marred by historical events which have had long standing consequences (embedded in the culture & in the way the govt is run). We visited many projects where we saw the struggle of people to exist & prosper on of lands that where declared National Protected Areas (and rightfully so). On top of that, Mexico has a semi-socialist system of 'ejidos' (eh-hi-dos), where hacienda lands were redistributed after the revolution (100 years ago) to the workers; while the land still belongs to the govt, ejido stakeholders have a deathgrip on the land, its use & funding the govt sends... so in a way, the decendants of the peasants have become the proprietors their ansestors revolted against---meanwhile families grow bigger & lands mass remains the same, so naturally there exists a struggle with overuse of natural resources.

Bueno, bueno...enough of things that can't be changed--i'd rather focus on people...b/c people do change...and slowly so do cultural more`s (i hope i'm using that word in context).

Right now, all i have is 'the jist of it'...so as i know more, i will share. But I hope you get that the 'jist of it' is to share ideas & life & to mutually make each other's lives better.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This is a LONG one--but read on.

I realized today that this is my one year aniversary from having submitted my application to the Peace Corps. I think my intent for applying was more to see what would happen, because I wasn't sure how serious I was about changing careers or how realistic joining the Peace Corps would be.

One year later, I'm in Queretaro for our three-month language, cultural, and technical training. After only being here for about a week, I can say that I'm enchanted (common word in Spanish) with the rich Mexican culture. The people are incredibly friendly, with an unmistakable sense of patriotism and cultural pride/identity. I think Mexico would be considered a 'developing country' not a 3rd world country. 75% if Mexicans acutally live in urban areas, and live quite similar to us in America...at least in this city.

September 16th is the country's Indepence bicentenial and Revolutionary centential (exactly 100 years apart--i think they planned the Revolution that way!)... decorations have probably been up for months & I'm sure more to follow on that later.

During our language training, we're learning how to introduce ourselves in Spanish and how to explain briefly about the Peace Corps and our roles. Most Mexican have no idea what the Peace Corps is (and might I add...neither do many Americans). So......the US Peace Corps is a govt organization that works with other countries on social and ecoonomic development Projects. In Mexico, the projects include Tech Transfer, Small Business Development, Sustainable Livelihood, and Environmental Education (allow me to go on). I have been assigned to the Environmental Education project in Gogorron National Park in the state of San Luis Potosi`. I'll be working the equivelent of the National Park Service, and will be working with the surrounding communities (focusing on Gogorron).

So, after I finish my three-month training, I get sworn in as a volunteer, and that's where I'll go!

First item on the Agenda will be to meet my running-mate/agency-counterpart, and get to know people in the communities in which I will live and be working. This will involve some traveling of course. After a few months, I'll have a better idea what the community needs are and specifics on what the National Park Service's (actually called National Council of Natioanl Protected Areas, CONANP) needs are too.

Today, we had a lecture from a University Professor of Cultural antropology dept. There are many underlying issues in Mexico, chief among them is the great divide between the poverty stricken and the rich. As an example, Mexico has more poor people than the entire population of Central America, while having mega-rich people eg Carlos Slim...the richest man in the world.

So government inefficiencies seem to favor the rich, and it would seem to penalize the poor. As a result, goverment involvement will likely be seen as mute & assosiciated action being perceived as jumping through hoops.

Essentially, he suggested that any projects/goals we might work on be small and attainable within short spans of time. I think it follows the Japanese ideaology to make changes incrementally...in a way that is almost unnoticable; and when possible, instead of implenting entirely foreign ideas/technologies, use more holistic approaches....ei ones that were likely used by ancestors. Also that the sustainability of the change should be considered, and that the communities should have buy-in of the change, so that the change persists after Peace Corps Volunteers are gone.

In the end, our jobs as Peace Corps Volunteers is to--promote, empower, and facilitate change. Not bad, huh?

BTW, Obama wants to increase Volunteers world-wide from 7,000 to 10,000 in 2011... seems like a good time to apply!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hacienda 'el Castillo'

These are a few pictures that are one week overdue--finally some decent bandwidth with which to upload them! These pics are an example of my recent obsession with clouds.
We spent our first few days in mexico having an informational retreat at Hacienda el Castillo, with attached Rancho el Castillo, where they have an organic dairy farm and chicken farm...yum.
More pics later this week from my weekend trip to Bernal (3 largest monolith in the world).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I view that this as an opportunity to reinvent myself. Following that theme, I’m now going by the name “Betty” instead of “Liz”.

I’m very impressed with the PC Mex Program here (well developed and organized). I feel privileged to be among so many talented Trainees; along with that, I feel intimidated too because these people are experts with specialized education. I am more of a generalist, but I hope to fill the role Peace Corps assigned to me.

***I've been assigned to a post inside of a National Park of the Mexican State of San Luis Potosi! I found this out today.

I haven't had enough time to do the proper research on the state of San Luis Potosi etc, because we moved in with our Sponsor families.

My host mom (very sweet older woman) greeted me with a bouquet of flowers, she took me home, then had a tour of the house (it's big). I have my own room & the house has internet! She has two other American exchange students who are here for a while, and there is no lack of family members here. They took me to the downtown area and we walked around; downtown Queretaro is gorgeous and happening!!! Once i know my way around, I'm def going back with some of my friends!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New life, New Blog Title

The beginning of my new life started with a sad farewell of my family & dog Cleo. I arrived to Washington DC for Peace Corps staging & met my new friend Lindsay, who is the spice of life (Lindsay, you rock!). We did some sightseeing of DC before officially registered for Staging at the hotel. We ended up going out for a night on the town.

Next morning, I went for a jog with my new roommate & friend Sara (who rocks too), around the Washington Monument (had been on my 'to-do list' forever). After we got our visas (I made sure we three were the first in line, hehe), we hit the hotel pool for a few hours. It was perfectly relaxing, which was nice because this was the day that never ended. I stayed up until we checked out of the hotel at 2am. In the end I was too exhausted to be sad about leaving.

Right now I feel a real sense of inner peace. I’m happy that I have found laughing-buddies (people who I can laugh with) & that everything is going so smoothly.

I am now a Peace Corps Trainee. On November 10th, we’ll graduate from Training & become official Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV). This Saturday we’ll find out where in Mexico we will be assigned! For the rest of this week, we are having a retreat at a renovated 17th Century monastery; the itinerary is packed with language and cultural training, but also includes Salsa Lessons & Tortilla Lessons (dancing & cooking).

Viva Mexico

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Every new begining comes from some other begining's end"


I am between two chapters in my life.
I am grateful that everything is working out.
I am excited to see the manifestation of a pipedream.
I am scared to think that when I come back everything will have changed.
I am hopful that I can learn new skills & be of service at the grass roots level.
I am saddened by the anticipation of saying goodbye to my family (Am i the only person that cries at airports???)
I am praying that I have the courage, wisdom, and poise to handle all situations I will face in the next weeks and months.

notable quotes worth sharing:
"Have the courage to ask." -my friend Anna
"More things are wraught by prayer than this world dares dream." -my Dad
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, and become more, you are a leader." -John Quincy Adams
"He who dares not, need hope not." my brother Robert

Inspiring Moment:
Yesterday, when I found out that my dad faught as a American gorilla in the Cuban Revolution (just for the adventure of it!).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm Not an Idealist

I had breakfast with a friend in Atlanta today & he pointed out the obvious fact (that I had not really thought about) that I'm leaving in a Month + Seven Days. The only part of the statement that didin't bewilder me was the fact that I'm leaving. "Leaving" implies I'm returning...which is good.

When I think of 'leaving,' I have this nebulous concept of indescribable change...AND HOW DO YOU PREPARE for 'indescribable change'??? I have general notion of what needs to be done (packing, buying, flying, visiting) & a daily planner to help me make sure I don't miss the important stuff, but really?

The one question that went through my mind all day as I was driving was: What does all this mean? I saw the PC poll on the website, asking 'what we expect will be the biggest benefit of service, professional v. cultural.' I didn't vote b/c, while I think I will reap great professional and cultural experiences, I think there is something bigger.

I'm not an idealist, I'm just trying desparately to make sense of the world around me. I have this sense of being propelled into a destiny (that I have never had before, and many may never have), and for the next Month + Seven Days, I am determined to enjoy it & be very grateful.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Life Changing Events and Coincedences


Long drives give you a lot of time to think about stuff. I drove through a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) in VA, then onto SC to visit with friends of the family today.

The BRP is gorgeous & it made me think how lucky I was to experience this part of the country. I tried to memorize everything I saw, so that I could vividly describe this sceane one day...but that's pretty impossible so I ended up taking pictures.

I think in our busy lives, it's way too easy to become numb to the beauty around us. At some point in our lives we stopped being amazed at life around us. I always kid around that certain things 'will change your life' (e.g. reading a book or using my salt Grinder changed my life etc)... So anyway, I think we should be open to letting our lives be changed by small things.

On another note, I should report what I call my 'Mexico Coincidence.' Since getting invited to Mexico, I had found a lot of random Mexico stuff as I was packing (pesos, coins, Mex soccer team jacket). To report the on-going nature of this coincidence, 1) I ran a 5k on Sunday and got a shirt: Made in Mexico & 2) Yesterday, I found matches from a great restuarance called "el malcajuete" from Vera Cruz when I was there in 2006...then today I'm driving down the interstate when I see the a billboard advertizing a Mexican Restaurant called (what else) "el malcajuete"!!

I could go on, but all signs point to Mexico & to Peace Corps (litterally...which is another coincidence story all together).

I still get sad to think about the farewells I've already made and the ones I will soon make...to my family...but I'm good at postponing my feelings as a coping mechanism (good or bad, idk).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Epoch of Change

No matter how badly we want change in our lives, it never comes easy; in fact, I sometimes believe there is nothing harder because we somehow find solace in existance as we know it.

Today I left my life in Marinsburg WV; it marked the end of a three-year tour of duty. It was full of blessings, but more often than not, I kind of just thought I was biding my time for something else. For over a year I would wake up in the morning and ask: what am I going to do? I had a lot of anxiety about the future (most likely to avert my attention from my daily routine).

I looked for answers & I found them in growing closer with my walk with God...and everything else fell into place.

Sometimes I cry because I'm so humbled at the direction my life is taking. These last few days I've cried because I'm sad to leave my life & friends behind...maybe b/c I'm scared too, idk.

Anyway, this is the natural progression of change...in perfect time. I've thought & prepared and I'm ready.

I'll be blogging more now since driving often makes me relfect. I think my next topic will expound upon my quest for personal growth...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Do you believe?

The Convergence of Some thoughts:

1) I'm not one of those people who have dreamt of being a Peace Corps Volunteer my entire life. I think the first time I heard about the Peace Corps was from my mom's cousin, who grew up in a poor family in Honduras, being one of eight children. He used to tell us stories about his experience growing up; how somedays the only thing he would have (to eat) was a carton of 'Choco-Lady' chocolate milk distributed at school through a Peace Corps Program.

Isn't it amazing how something so simple as a carton of chocolate milk can change a life? Not just his, but mine too (and probably everyone to whom he tells the story).

2) I believe in making a difference in the world, one person at time & one act at a time. How many times have you walked past a piece of trash laying around and not picked it up? Up until this morning, I would just walk by & just look at it with disappointment, b/c either I was too busy or didn't want to look like a wierdo picking it up.

Today I made a personal committment to pick up trash when I see it (and I did...some people made a bon fire along the Potomac River and just left it there...ughh). [my dad has been doing this all his life for the shear benefit of the environment, the neighborhood, and humanity]

So, I guess I could say, I joined my dad on his One-Man Crusade to Save the World....which leads me to my next thought.

3) What do you believe in? This question can be explored in so many contexts, but suffice it say that if you focus on your beliefs & your mission (in life) then some beautiful things will happen.

What are you willing to do for what you believe in? What legacy do you want to leave behind?...or should i say: "How far will You go?"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Phone Interview with Language Coordinator

I was contacted by the PCMexico Language Coodinator. We set up a phone interview so she can assess my Spanish Skills...but something tells me I better review my resume to make sure I know how to say all that stuff in Spanish.
I chat in Spanish all the time with my mom, but it's not about work... it's about regular life stuff. I doubt PCMexico wants to know how my dog Cleo is doing, lol.
The interview is Monday 5p.m. Central Standards time, 6p.m. EST.
It just dawned on me that a 20 min convo on my cell phone from MEX might be expensive...hmm.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reflections on Time & Aspiration Statement

I've never been happier now that my time belongs to me. My most recent birthday occured at the juncture of a wonderful and optimistic time in my life, yet it still became an emotional reflection of what I have done with my time.

While I am extremely proud of what I have accomplished, it has been difficult on an emotional, physical, and spritual level. Thinking that the 'best years of my life' were used doing something I didn't love breaks my heart (but I must mention that I didn't realize what my passion was until very recently...so, it's not like I had a true sense of direction either).

I'm as hopful now as I was 10 years ago to embark on a new adventure in my life, but the difference is that the feeling in my stomach is more of an excited butterfly feeling, rather than the gut-wrenching dread I distinctly remember feeling (over and over again).

Being a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, I know that my Coast Guard experience was a wonderful stepping stone for Peace Corps (and beyond). Below is my Aspiration Statement:

A. I see myself as a facilitator of development who will bring new perspective, ideas, and solutions. My goal will be to work with project partners to provide them the support they need for enduring positive impact. I hope that my Pre-Service Training (PST) and my past professional experience will give me a solid foundation from which to provide the support that is needed. I am eager to learn more about my assignment in the Peace Corps, and will dedicate the time it takes learn my job and build relationships with project partners and my community. My strongest professional attribute is my determination to reach goals. I look forward to life in Mexico, where I will adapt to new environments, learn new processes, and meet new people.

B. I intend to familiarize myself with the Peace Corps’ standard operating procedures for the host country, and work within the established process to facilitate objectives. I understand the value of repetitive communication (verbal, written, electronic etc) and its link to better understanding, so I will try to minimize barriers to communication inherent in language and culture, by repeating the message in different ways. Building professional partnerships through conscientious attention and personal motivation has been an important asset in my experience. I believe that building rapport and alliances through personal loyalty are valued traits and will help achieve the program’s success.

C. Adapting to a new culture will be full of excitement, confusion, and mistakes, but most importantly: understanding. There are subtle differences in each country’s culture that can only be understood through interaction and observation. I plan to learn as much as I can about Mexican culture before I depart for Staging and during PST, but I know that I will learn the most through my interactions with my host family and project partners in Mexico. I will try my hardest to use on my intuition and situational awareness to integrate into my new culture.

D. I hope to gain the following knowledge, skills & abilities from PST: a better understanding of Peace Corps’ impact in Mexico; practice good health and safety techniques to avoid sickness; become knowledgeable about local business customs; learn new technical skills and be able to impart those skills to project partners; adapt my Spanish for effective communication in Mexico; interact with local officials, NGO representatives, and community leaders; AND develop an esprit de corps with fellow Peace Corps Trainees & Volunteers.

E. In the end, I hope to look back on my Peace Corps experience with a newly defined sense of direction for my life. My experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in an Environmental Education & Community Outreach project will give me a practical insight to environmental issues and their solutions. At this point, I intend dedicate my future endeavors towards the preservation and conservation of our natural resources. To that end, I intend to pursue a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science or Conservation Social Science from the University of Idaho. I believe that my personal and professional hopes are tied to my goals, and that link will be my key to success.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Post Invitation Musing

Well, I'm still smiling. Everything works out in the perfect time & not a moment too soon.

The Invitation Kit is a 1/2 inch folio containing tabbed folders w/ forms and instructions. It's not exactly as big as a phone book...but it is a lot to read when I am so excited I can barely concentrate.

So, as I worked through my Visa application today, I started thinking...Mexico seems to have been THE place all along. In 2006 I had my promotion ceremony (in the Coast Guard this is called a "wetting down") in Veracruz--which can only have been described as Legendary...a party to top all parties.

One of my car-key fobs is from MEXICO. I pulled out my passport today & it has $40 worth of Mexican currency in it. They were souveniers of my travels to a land which I would likely never return...but life has a funny way of working out & God has an amazing way of reminding me that there is much more at work than my haphazzard plans.

I'm excited to discover what doors open in Mexico.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Invited to MEXICO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The UPS Man never look good as he did today, when he pulled up in his big brown wagon & delivered my Peace Corps Invitation!
I'm going to MEXICO! What a total surprise--I didn't see it coming at all b/c the PCMex Blogs that I stalked mentioned they were shutting down those programs!

I'm going to be working w/ the equivelent of their Department of Natural Resources/National Park Service. This is all I know right now. I haven't even read the rest. This is perfect for me!
Are there enough exclamation points in this yet!!!

ahh....perma-smile on my face. butterflies in my stomach. tears in my eyes. What a wonderful day!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Morning Surprise


My conversation w/ PC Placement was on Friday afternoon, and I know in an office it can sometimes take a while to processes applications...so I wasn't expecting too much forward movement on my Peace Corps Application Status Toolbox over the weekend. But yesterday (Saturday), I had all the checkmarks, indicative of the Legal Office removing the Legal Hold--surprising to me.

Then this morning (SUNDAY) I woke up to find another 5am email from Peace Corps App update. I logged in to find a beautiful sight. Imagine the screenshot that says:

Congratulations! You have been invited to become a Peace Corps Volunteer

I continue to be amazed that the seas are parting for me in a way that I cannot even have imagined. I feel like my life can be likened to a race through a densely clouded/foggy street--where I can't tell what I'm running from or what I'm running towards...and you just don't know where you are going until you are there.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Official Invitation-Cleared but not mailed

Chapter 4--The Begining of a new Begining

My Peace Corps Placement Officer called & left a message, letting me know my Legal Hold had been lifted off of my file (thank you DD214). She wanted to confirm that I was still available for placment into an earlier program departing in Mid-August (vice September)!!

Since I was not @ home when I listened to the message, I called my brother/lifeline to look up what countries were departing in August from PCWIKI. Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala & Dom Rep. After a couple of phone calls, I felt that August sounded fine.

My Application Status Toolbox notes all the checkmarks are complete, but the Official Invitation has not been mailed YET! I should get it in the next 3-5 business days!! That is when I will find out exactly what my assignment (job), country, and departure date will be.

A lot of positive life-changes have happened this week (Last Day @ work, 200mi Relay & Peace Corps Placement)! All of my impending deadlines & dates have come to a close & I'm glad that I've been busy enough to avoid obsessing over them.

Next week my focus is to get my house-hold goods storage set up, have a massive garage sale, and follow-up with the sale of my home... should be going to Closing anyday now.

BTW, I really like the programs available in Panama or Guatemala...I hope i get one of these. Dom Rep is technically in the Carribean, so I will likely not go there (but who knows). Nicaragua has a 31AUG departure & since she said 'mid-August' departure...this may not be it.

Whereever I end up going, I'm sure it's exactly where I am supposted to go! Updates to follow.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

This Is It

My last day at work was full of hopful goodbyes & best wishes. I'm genuinly happy to move onto the proverbial 'next chapter' of my life; all my sadness to leave my past & the anxiety of the unknown has turned into a quiet peace in my mind.

I feel a little numb actually (too). "So this is what this feels like" is what I kept thinking as I walked around today. I walked out of the building into the parking lot for the last time, in my Coast Guard uniform and thought...'so this is what this feels like'.

Life is so unpredictable, that Goodbye rarly means Goodbye.
Life is infinite.
Life is finite.

Peace Corps News:
I sent my Legal Specialist my DD214 (military discharge papers) today. I haven't heard back from him/her...but I think my official Peace Corps Invitation should be forthcoming.

This seems unreal, yet it is very REAL. (I'll reflect more on my contridictory nature later or perhaps in another forum!)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Almost Invited

Chapt 3.1-

It is with a twinkle in my eye that I report I was almost invited today! But not to worry, I was Qualified for PC Service, and once I clear the Legal Office, I should get my Invitation!

Here's how it went down:
I returned my Placement Officer's Friday 4pm call this morning, which lead into a phone interview! I was nervous, grasping for answers at first. A sample of questions below.

Q: What have you been doing to prepare for service?
A: [quitting my job and selling my worldly possession since January; applying for Volunteering in Summer Programs with the State Parks & local Hatcheries Fish & Wildlife Service...but have not resulted in any opporutnities]

Q: Have you done any research on the PC since your interview in OCT?
A: Yes, Aside from the official PC website, I've been scourring PCWIKI & PCJournals. I've also been reading some books about the PC (What to know before you go) and on international social entrepenour projects (How to Change the World).
Q: In the blogs, are there any challenges that the PCV are facing that you anticipate being a problem.
A: [i chocked on this one, I think i went in circles and didn't answer it...b/c I could not think of any]

Q: As a minority, do you anticipate any challenges?
A: I have never felt like was treated differently in the US, and did not anticipate this during PC service & if anything PCV would be the minorities.

Q: Do you foresee any reasons why you might ET?
A: I mentioned that a death in the family might be tough to work through, but that since PC allows volunteers to take Emergency leave, that it should not be a problem.

Q: Would you have any problems being required to live w/ a host family for your entrie PC serivce?
A: [this questions has Pacific Islands* written between the lines!] It wouldn't bother me at all!
*correction: Peru also requires its volunteers to live with host family too!!!

Q: Scenario question; as an Envi Ed Volunteer, if you organized a function and 20 people RSVP'd, but only 4 showed up, how would you handle this?
A: Take the opportunity to alter the venue & to engage in small group discussion etc etc. I understand that sometimes we do not catch on to culture nuances etc.

Q: Enviro Ed Volunteers typically work in a grade school class room 1-2 times a week, have you had any class room experience?
A: No, none besides conducting occasional training sessions at work, but I would imagine the in-country training includes Pedegogy Training, where we could get ideas and learn the fundementals, so I would look forward to this as an oppotunity to develop a new skills. My current volunteering experience is limited to one-on-one literacy tutoring. etc.

Q: When is your earliest availability?
A: This one caught me a little by surprise, b/c i was just stating to make summer plans (Australia/Europe, jack johnson concert, survival style camping in my dad's abandoned cabin, volunteering).
But after fumbling through the calandar, i figured that all my real chores would be wrapped up by mid-June, and I would be available July 1st (yikes).

After all of this, she said she found me Qualified for service, and that she should have the Invitation ready by Close of Business!

Conversation was later followed up by an email saying that I'll have to provide the military discharge papers before they mail the official invite.

Not a big shock, b/c I have known that the PC needs my military discharge papers, so I let her know that I would not have those until June 1/2 & confirmed to whom I should send them to.

But for 7 hours today between the phone call and the email, i walked around knowing that I was within days of an official PC Invitation and it was amazing. Now i know, I'll have to wait longer but it doesn't matter!!! I'm Qualified.

This feeling is kind like being a winner on the Price is Right! You feel like jumping up and down, yelling: I won, I won, I won! I'm outside of myself. I'm amazed at the doors God is opening.

The hope of serving in the Peace Corps has opened my eyes to the realization that my passion is environmental stewardship, and that working in this capacity IS possible. I feel everything I have done up to this point has been in preparation for this very moment & I am humbled. Send me!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Peace Corps Called!

Chapter 3--Real Peace Corps News to report!

So today I took a vacation day & did some sightseeing in DC. I think I was on a narrow windey road along the Potomac's C&O at approx 4pm. By the time I got back home, mowed my overgrown lawn, and ate some leftovers, it was 8:30.
I decide to check my phone as I'm getting ready to kick-it & I see that the PC called at 4:11pm!!! I listened to the message 4-5 times. It was someone from the Placement Office who is looking forward to talking me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Besides the excitement of knowing that MY file is on someone's desk, I'm feel jipped. Surely they must realize that Friday afternoon after the Close of Business may not be an opportune time to chat! Now I have to wait until Monday... but my curiousity is piqued! I hope they have some good news/topics for discussion.

I must note that I didn't get any emails from PC. So, this means they need to transmit info that is best said on the phone, and not on a simple email, right? I mean, I've been combing PCJournals for months, and they generally send an email asking for experience, updated resume, or to schedule a phone interview!!

I should also note that I did not expect to hear from them until after June b/c I do not have my military discharge papers yet...which they need to see before they can process my application further. Obviously, they wouldn't want to invite someone who is under miltiary obligation.
My last day in the CG is June 2nd.

On a personal note, I have been overly sentimental lately...on top of being prematurely nostalgic. I love change and believe that it is the stuff life is made of; not to be dreaded, but to be celebrated. But, I start thinking of saying my personal goodbyes and I tear up. I started chocking up yesterday in front of the staff while I was saying a general goodbye.

I'm feeling a lot of emotions that challenge me to explore who I am at my very core. I live a daily battle which is at the center of every Gemeni's life..the duality. I'm happy/hopeful/excited to embark on a new chapter in my life, but sad to say goodbye...saying farewell to life as I have known it for years & to the people who were part of it.

The duality within me that envies some lady's Louis Vuiton bag (promising myself to buy one someday), while moments later walking by the homeless lady asking for money to feed her four children. *sigh* Suddenly buying an LV seems so frivolous.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My elevator schpeel

Last week I learned about resume`s, interviews, cold calls, and elevator schpeels. You use an elevator schpeel to describe yourself in 30 seconds or less. It is a particularly important to have developed b/c you never know who you are going to meet. In a job hunting setting, you describe the job you want, followed by your skills set & background, followed by asking for an interview.

In general, I think it's important to know how to describe yourself. Do you describe yourself as your circumstance, your job, your home of record, your faith, your character, your characteristics, marital status? How do you want others to describe you?

I refuse to be defined by my job...b/c i'm so much more than my job...but i sit back and think, that's probably how other people describe me. In conversations, I always avoid occupation & education unless it relates to other subjects.

Yet, somehow, if i become a Peace Corps Volunteer...that is how I will be introduced to my community members, and after service I will likely describe myself as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer for the rest of my life. I would be proud of this of course, but i think i like the idea of describing myself in terms of my future, and not my past

"Hello, my name is Liz & I'm a future Peace Corps Volunteer" --I can't wait to start use it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

501 Verbs

I went running this weekend on the beautiful C&O Canal in Maryland when it finally occured to me that my 501 Spanish Verb book might be a good one to take with me. I don't know why I'm obsessed with what books I will take to my future PC assignment, because it's not like I'm a huge reader.

I saw a book in the library about finding a job and explores the idea of identifying each person's unique gifts, passion & abilities.
Gifts: something you do uniquely better than most anyone
Passion: things you love to do
abilities: things you can do
(I don't remember teh title, but I need to get it after i'm done w/ my other books.)

I think my gift is Spanish! I discovered my passion is the environment. abilities...I can do all things to a mediource standard!! (which bothers me sometimes, but i'm not passionate about perfection).

Sitting here thinking, i'll finally get to do something that I'm good at!!

A shout-out (is that phrase still used anymore?) to my PC Journal personalities who have recently gotten or will soon get Invites: Elaina, Jorie & all the other folks! Enjoy--I'm sure you are walking on clouds right now:)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I dreamed a dream...

I'm amazed to think that I will soon be out of the Coast Guard. The wheels are in motion & in June I'll officially be terminal leave/permanant vacation & possibly even start collecting unemployment... My house is under contract & as soon as I get a better idea of when I go to 'closing', I might even have a WV yard sale.

Six months ago, I was wavering on whether I was committed to my dream of joining the Peace Corps & willing to 'pull up chaulks'....so I guess this is what 'pulling up chaulks' feels like: excitment about the unknown [paradigm shift b/c I used to be scared of the unknown until recently].

There's a lot of ground to cover over the next two months. Hopefully, I'll have some Peace Corps news soon (but for now, the PC is waiting for my CG dishcharge papers).

For now, dreaming about my 'summer break' goals (Captain's license, GRE, boating, & joining a tennis club)... literally, living the dream.

Also, as an update I have a really strong feeling I'm going to Paraguay in Sept based on the pcWiki... (Mexico or Peru are other possbilities--but I'm getting ahead of myself [dang it! i always do that])!

BTW, Happy Easter! Enjoyed a beutiful day celebrating many blessings.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Being Sure of What I Hope For

Chapt 2.5

I do enjoy reading the accounts of my fellow bloggers on PC Journals and the comments of those on PeaceCorpsConnect- such awesome information sharing & moral support forums! My nominiation is for an Environmental Educaiton program in September 2010...so needless to say I have all the time in the world to scour the net for what the next step will be (after Legal Clearance) and be prepared.

To that end, I've updated my Resume to include an Objective Statement at the top: Seeking an invitation as an Environmental Education volunteer in the Peace Corps. I also added VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE section which highlighted my volunteering in short bullet format. Overall, i think it looks so much better than the one I originally submitted with my application last Fall b/c the orign resume was the first time drafting a resume.

I also started working on an Aspiration Statement!! Thanks to some of the more detailed bloggers who actually posted their Aspiration Statements w/ subtitles to give you an idea of what you should be thinking of. They ask for Aspiration Statement along with the official PC Invitation to serve, AND a lot of other paperwork, so I figured 'why not do it now?' Yes, it's a little generic, but it will be a great springboard. Plus, why not start thinking about what motiviates you and start imagining what you will do after your Peace Corps experience????

This is an excellent time to practice more than patience...practice positive thinking...being sure of what you hope for & certain of what you do not see.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Finally some time to read

Chapt 2.4
Eastern-Atlantic BLIZZARD of 2010 has afforded a snow day, and some time to read. I'm currently reading Dark Star Safari by Paul Thereux...which is turning out to be a gripping read of his travels from Cairo to Cape Town (this is also the subtitle)! I don't expect to serve in Africa, but I am enjoying the book!

For those who haven't read Banjoree's "What to know before you go: insider's guide to the Peace Corps" he mentions that you should take a new book w/ you as you will likely find a vast library of donated books at you in-country PC office full of all the classics... so no need load your suitcase down.

I'm sitting here trying to think, if I could only choose two books to take w/ me (to the moon), what would they be? The Bible would be one (unless they already had a Bible on the moon)! So my second, I'm thinking should be poetry or philosophical in nature....since I never seem to have times to read these!

The History of God by Karen Armstron is a strong runner-up right now or Genius by Harold Bloom (widely read literary critic). Both books are long and big...and I've owned for more than 5 years! My Modus Operendi (M.O) seems to be that I read 50-100 pages, then stop to read another book, and by the time pick my original book back up, I have totally forgotten what I read and I havve to start all over again!! It's cycle!

I guess I'm trying to figure this out so I don't inadvertantly pack my books away in boxes, and lose them in storage.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Skill Sets

Chapt 2.3
When I originally applied to the Peace Corps, I didn't do too much homework about the programs and countries. I was more concerned about whether my skill sets would be useful to the PC, rather than really figuring out what I would love to do in PC.

Bad idea? Maybe. I had been (and am) volunteering w/ the Lions Club, 1-on-1 literacy tutoring, and occasionally at my church's soup kitchen. I'm also bilingual (English/Spanish). Based on that, I applied for 1. Education, 2. Environment, and 3. Community Development.

I was nomiated for an Enironmental Education project (which thrills me) in Latin America departing in SEPT! But now that's I've working through peacecorp.gov's country and work area maps, I'm kind of remiss that I didn't ask or hint at an assignment in the Pacific Islands for marine conservation (think coral reefs) or natural resource management...after all, my degree is in Marine & Environmental Science!

Looking on peacecorpsWiki.com, I see all the possiblities of Environment projects departing in Sept. FIJI is on the list (but not high up).#1 is PERU.

I would love to be able to exercize my degree in a practical setting/manner. Plus, it would set the stage for my future graduate studies; the University of Idaho offers a great Environmental Studies graduate program & I'm planning to take the GRE before transitioning from the military (and the Post 9/11 GI bill will pay for it).

Oh, the opportunities are endless. A friend once told me, 'you got to make things happen.' If you keep doing the same thing, you're going to keep getting what you've always gotten. I also remember teh Sister Hazel song that says, 'if you want to be someone else, you got to change your mind.' Thus, I set foot in the Real world....where economies are bad, people go w/out health insurance, and the struggle to survive is very real.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Legal Hold

I added this blog to PeaceCorpsJournals.com under the Applicants section!
My audience will now include other Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) hopefuls, who like myself are anxious to share our experience with the long and ellusive PC application process, and who try to decipher what is happening to us based on other people's experiences.

For those just tuning in, I'm an environmental education nominee for a project in Latin America with a Sept 2010 departure. I submitted my medical paperwork on 4DEC09 and was cleared on 24DEC09.

I have noticed that there is remarkably little information on the Legal review process of the PC. They take fingerprints the old fashion way, so I guess they run our prints against the FBI's NCIC database. They probably run credit report on us too.

In my case, my military obligation won't be complete until May 2010, so Ill be on Legal Hold for a while.

In the meantime, I'm trying to sell my home as a short-sale (so I won't have that burden during my PC service); as far as I can tell it should not effect my credit report, and therefore should not effect my Legal elegability...right?? In a worst case scenario I'll just keep my home, but we'll see. Ahhh, financial times like these.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Transition

Chapt 2
I'll be on this chapter for at least the next six to eight months! I alluded to my future plans and wanting to use this blog to chroncicle my life and future, but I'm guilty of being vague.
To be specific, I want to use this blog to chroncile my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I've been wanting to join the Peace Corps for several years now, but it was more or less a crazy idea I would blurt out, but no one believed I would actually do. Admittedly, I didn't think I would do it either...until doors started opening for me.

I started my application process in May 2009 and finished it in late August. Three letters of recommedation (from a work supervisor, volunteer supervisor, and gracious friend), I interviewed with a Peace Corps Recruiter in Arlington VA. It was my first interview (ever). Up until I walked out of the interview, I still doubted my intentions. When the interview ended, he nominated me to an Environmental Education Project in Latin America departing in September 2010. For the first time, I had a clear idea of what my passion in life was...the environment.

After a few months of serious thought and weighing my options, and talking about it...I was convinced that I could not turn down the opportunity to live out my dream.

The anticipated change and opportunity gives me entirely positive outlook. Besides the permanant smile on my face, the wheels are in motion in preparation for a new career.

I put my house on the market a few days ago (my first showing was today). I started my paperwork for separation from the Coast Guard. I gave a lot of my things away, auctioned things off on eBay, selling on Craigslist, and will soon figure out what exactly 'consignment shops' are. Timing is everything...so I hope my house gets sold in God's perfect time.

I hope to be out of the Coast Guard by the first week of June, which would leave me 90 days vacation before departing as a Volunteer. The Peace Corps will not officially invite me to serve in a specific project and country until I can provide official military discharge papers (DD214).

That being said, I probably won't have much a Peace Corps update until after June...meaning this blog might be a little dry.

Based on web resources, I have narrawoed down the countries I might serve in if I depart in September: Paraguay, Peru, El Salvador, or Mexico (if I even get sent to a Spanish speaking country). In retrospect, I should have requested a Marine Resource managment Project in Fiji...so I could finally use my degree!!

Regardless, Envrionmental Education can be a variety of things. It could include grass roots projects promoting environmental awareness in small village, working with EPA-type govt entities, working with non-govt organizations in national parks or preserves, planting trees, finding ways to help farmers employ green farming practicies, and the list could go on.

I would be proud to be a steward of the earth at the grass roots level, which invariably would lead to improved quality of life and society.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Journey of a Thousand Miles...

Let me preface my first blog with this:

I start this as a way to document my life over the next few years. As my friends know, I don't spend a lot of time on the phone, so I don't want to use this blog to isolate myself. I realize some use Facebook as a blog, but I use my Facebook page as a homage to my sweet dog: CLEO.

Chapt 1 The Beginning
I should note the beginging with the very begining, and state that I was born in Miami, FL. I am the youngest of four children. I was blessed with a unique family. I graduated from high school in Lewiston, Idaho. I graduated from the Coast Guard Academy & served a two-year tour of duty on the CG Cutter VALIANT out of Miami Beach FL. My current assignment is at the CG National Maritime Center in West Virginia, where I have a home and a dog.

Today I delivered my resignation from the Coast Guard to the 'front office'. After much prayer and thought I know that this is the right decision; we only have one life to live & at the age of 27 I already feel my 20's slipping away. I believe we all have a purpose in life. Like Esther from the Bible, who knows that I have been brought here except for such a time as this.

We are given special gifts and talents and desires, and we should be so lucky to endevor to use our talents to make the world a better place.

My talent(s) have been honed over the last 9.5 years in uniform, but I sincerely believe my life's purpose lies outside of the Coast Guard.

I sit here, watching the Commander and Chief, President Obama as he gives his State of the Union about how the US needs to be at the forefront of green/clean energy and healthcare reform. He is whitty. He is persuasive. The transformation to a Green Collar economy and healthcare starts with one step. So too, my journey started with one step...like all journies, like all change.

I will write a lot about God, people, coincidences, destiny, purpose, the environment and the cosmos.

I invite you to walk with me.