Category Archives: adventure

my wish for growing old




I want to grow old gracefully. I want my face to have lines and wrinkles that tell a story of a life well lived. I want my eyes to show that I have asked questions and sought out answers. That I felt joy and pain. That I made mistakes along the way but didn’t let those mistakes keep me from continuing the journey. There will be a sparkle of wisdom that glimmers in my eyes to signal that I have lived life with a curious spirit.

I want to feel comfortable in my wrinkly skin; feeling beautiful because of the stories the lines and wrinkles tell. I will dress in colorful frocks and wear interesting jewelry that I have collected during my travels. I will change my haircut and color depending on my mood. I will have developed a deep sense of my personal style and will not let others dictate what I wear.

I want to have colorful stories to tell of adventures I took and things I experienced. Adventures full of family, friends, lovers, and strangers. I want others to be able to read on my face that I have lived a life that was full of joy and hope, love and loss.

A life well lived.

I want my laugh lines to be deep and to continue to grow deeper because my days are speckled with laughter that leads to tears of pure joy.  The best kind of laughter.

I know there will be days of pain, sorrow and loneliness, but I want to be able to gather the wisdom and strength of my years and navigate these days with grace. To come out the other side with the lesson I was meant to learn.

I want my eyes to sparkle with the same curious spirit that was the driving force in my younger days.

My possessions will be few when I am old because I will have learned along the way that too many possessions  have possessed me before.  I will have sold, donated or discarded many of my possessions, paid off all debt,  and spent my money on experiences and travel that fill my heart and life with intangible gifts.

I will have life-long friends whom I speak of with a love as deep as I have for my family; because I will have learned that these people are just as much part of my family as those related to me by blood. I will meet friends and family regularly for long dinners or afternoons chatting over a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

I will have become a great listener. I’ll have learned that being a great listener is much more valuable than being someone who always has something to say. I will have learned to listen with compassion and not always try to fix the problem that might have been shared. I will absorb the stories shared with me and will celebrate the celebrations and be a soft place to land when life seems unfair. I will not preach or try to fix. I will be there to love and comfort and listen.

I will remember stories of days long gone that live fresh in my memory. These memories will live right next to the new ones that I will be creating each day. My age will not mean the end of adventures or make me shy away from learning new things. It will be quite the opposite. I will have realized the true gift of being able to get up for another day on the Earth. I may not be as quick on my feet and I might have more aches and pains, but I will know that I am lucky to be alive and will live with that in mind each and every day.

I will be someone, who regardless of the number of candles on my birthday cake, will approach each day with the curiosity of a child. Allowing the excitement of learning something new or turning a stranger into a friend to pump through my veins and remind me of the gift of another day.

I will continue to be a person who finds solace in being alone sometimes. I will still know that having time alone does not equate to loneliness.

I will be a voracious reader and will write letters to those I love on a regular basis. I will not clutter my mind with things on TV, but will fill my soul with books, music, and the love of family and friends.

I will be old and wrinkled with a head full of stories and experiences, and a heart full of joy.

When I am old and I look back on the life I lived I will not give much time to “what ifs”. I won’t reminisce about things I hoped would happen that didn’t, or spend time on “the hand that I was dealt” during the difficult times in my life. I will just be thankful I was invited to the table to play.

I will know with a full heart that I had a lion’s share of great things happen for me and I will be grateful.



I am a work in progress to become the old woman I wish to be. Here are some things I need to remember now so that my wish for my old future self will happen.


  • Faces are meant to move and bodies are meant to age and wrinkle. No matter what the media says otherwise.
  • Possessions can posses you. Only have what you truly need, the rest just bogs you down. So does debt. Do what you have to do to get rid of your debt. Sell the things you don’t need and give away the rest. Spend money on things like a good mattress, good food and travel. Get rid of things that don’t serve a true purpose in your life.
  • Listen. Don’t always talk. Don’t always try to solve what is shared with you.
  • Don’t gossip. It’s not attractive or productive. It’s also a sign of insecurity, so if you catch yourself gossiping stop to see why you feel the need to do so.
  • Be a good friend. Be honest, even when it is difficult. Be there for friends when they need you and when they don’t.
  • Allow others to be a good friend to you. Reach out when you need to. Real friends will be there for you no matter what.
  • Meditate. It’s hard, but it really does change your perspective.
  • Don’t stay in a job that makes you miserable. It’s just not worth it.
  • Travel. Travel alone sometimes as well as with others. Go off the beaten path. Explore.
  • Help other without judgment.
  • Be comfortable with silence.
  • Make time for the little things, they usually mean the most.
  • Love deeply and honestly.
  •  Be grateful and express your gratitude.
  • And most important….don’t wait. start now.


I am looking forward to becoming my old self, wrinkles and all.







A lack of a 5 year plan makes some nervous. This post will not help with that nervous feeling.


Somewhere in our lives we are taught that we need to grow up, be responsible, have a savings account, be insured, buy a house, get married, have a 401K, earn, save, plan and all of the things that supposedly make us “grown”. As I was thinking about this idea, I am not that person. I never have been (as you will read…I’ve tried to be)…but I am here to tell you that it doesn’t work for me. 
 In a post a few weeks ago I wrote about my lack of a 5-year plan. That thought has been on my mind a lot lately. I changed careers from one in a more creative field to one that is more stable. Before that I had many various jobs that make my resume look like a patch-work quilt of randomness… I am thankful for all of those amazing adventures. The places I’ve been, the lessons I’ve learned, and the amazing people I’ve met have made my life fun, interesting and pretty fantastic!
My current “career” path is one that has stability and longevity. It’s a “respectable” job that has all of the normal bells and whistles that make one “secure”. I have moved up quickly in my profession and now that I have reached the level of being a “leader” (I use this term loosely)… I’ve realized that I moved to my current position for the wrong reasons. When I began in this career it was truly a calling. A moment when I had a realization that I was supposed to become a teacher. It was random, sudden and urgent. It was clear I was meant to follow this path. I went back to school, got my degree and started to teach. it was awesome and I was pretty good at it! I taught for a while and began looking at options. The options were to move into a leadership role. 

My current leadership role came out of necessity (necessity because the position I was in was being cut) as well as a desire to make more money… eventually.  This isn’t how I’ve done things in the past. My choices are based on passion….this was based on money. 
I’ve ventured away from my calling….to “climb the ladder”. I don’t regret taking this detour in my life,  because it has allowed me to see that it isn’t the path for me. I won’t have to wonder if it was meant for me.  I know for sure. It isn’t.  I’ve learned that I like to work where there isn’t much that is black and white…where the possibilities outweigh the restrictions and creativity is looked at as a contribution to the greater cause.  Where rules are flexible or created as you go, where taking risk is celebrated and failure is a tool to learn and do something even better.  I’m never going to work for the money again. I’d rather live in a rented studio apartment and have my soul sing on a regular basis because I love what I do, than have lots of stuff that I don’t really need. 
As my realization grew that my current job isn’t “my calling”,  I’ve discovered that I’ve missed teaching. Teaching brings me great joy. I love sharing ideas, collaborating with colleagues and helping people discover new things. Teaching is as much about sharing as it is about learning. I miss that. A lot.Where I am now isn’t the right “venue” (for lack of a better word). It is too restrictive. I’ve had to box away parts of myself to fit into my current role. I was very idealistic when I took this job and the reality is clear…I need to be in a place where I can be creative, take risks and ask questions that may seem silly to others but that allow me to grow, flourish, and create. 
I miss parts of me that I feel like I gave-up to “grow up”. The risk taker, the parts of me that followed my heart (even when it makes others nervous or uncomfortable). 
In chaos comes clarity. I am working on finding that clarity. It isn’t easy, but the rewards are great. 

 Maybe that is why I am going through a phase where I really want to get rid of a lot of the stuff I have acquired over the years. It’s just stuff. And I think the more I am attached to my stuff, the more I feel I have to be what is considered ‘grown up’ so I can afford all of my stuff.
Sure, I know I need some things…. Money for food, bills, and shelter… clothes and books. Insurance is important. I get it. But I think I got lost in my desire to secure a job that made those around me feel secure about my future… and in doing so I was willing to conform to a point that doesn’t work for me. Now I’m realizing I need something different.  I am  thankful for the career path I’ve been on. It’s brought me so much joy through the amazing friends I have made as well as the millions of things I have learned about myself through the process…but I think I have come full-circle in realizing that somewhere on this journey I neatly put aside some parts of myself that I really miss.  I’m looking forward to “unpacking” and rediscovering the creative risk-taker that has been on hiatus for a while. 

 watch out world…I’m making a comeback!


Planning is key….if you don’t want to be left to die on the Mexico/ Guatemalan border)


When I travel there are some basic things that have to be planned before I head for my destination…transportation and lodging. Since the Mexico trip involved being transported to many different locations it was important to me to know where we would be laying our heads each night.

Talking with the girls about the trip they were more “free” with the thoughts of planning. They were good with just seeing how things worked out. Uh…no. That doesn’t quite work for me. So… I volunteered to act as the planner for the trip. Think “Julie” from The Love Boat…but without the Dorothy Hamill haircut or the boat. (I have added a link for those of you too young to get this reference).

The farming part of the trip was the focus because it would be fun, would keep our costs down and would allow us to be in Mexico for a longer period of time.  We went through the WWOOFing organization. For a small fee you get a listing of farms located in the country or region that you are planning on traveling. You are then responsible for contacting the farms yourself and making arrangements. The list for Mexico was quite long.

I began going through the list, reading the descriptions and deciding which farms to contact. Some of the farms had very specific needs and time requirements, some had age/sex requirements, some sounded a bit frightening and then there were a few in the mix that sounded like they could work for us.  I began sending emails, and had Carolyn send emails in Spanish… as most of the farms provided email addresses and I didn’t want my total lack Spanish to keep us from finding the perfect farm. The emails went out…then the wait began.

It took a few weeks to hear back from anyone. Out of the 15 or so emails we sent, we had only one reply. It sounded great! It was a small farm where we would stay in little tree houses where the windows were made out of the front of old soda machines. We would get to help the families in the villages near the farm and there was also the opportunity for us me to learn Spanish. The head “farmer” was American and he stated that he had moved to this area of Mexico (near the Guatemalan border) to help out the indigenous people.

Awesome! I email the girls to let them know we had found the perfect farm!

 Now…I’ve been told I am a pretty good judge of people and that I have a pretty good instinct…..

As I was emailing back and forth with Farmer guy to solidify our plans, there were some interesting weird things in the emails. First, he seemed a little too excited to have us there. Second, part of the WWOOFing program is that you work to pay for your room and board. Farmer guy started asking us if we could pay him a little bit of money…you know…to help out the people in the village. I found this quite strange. I tried to not let it bother me, since this was the only farm that we had heard back from…and we really wanted to farm.

An email from another farm had arrived in my inbox, but I put it aside. I emailed Farmer guy #1 to go over the plans for our arrival in a couple of months. I sent an email with more questions about the farm and a couple of questions about finding out about getting to the farm, the exact location of the farm and a few other traveling questions.  He replied to the farm questions. It sounded OK, but I was still getting a weird feeling. I couldn’t quite figure it out…but I didn’t like it. I emailed him back to get the answers to the questions about getting to the farm and travel plans….you know, the ones he didn’t answer in the first email.

Oh…this is where the weird feelings came from.

 He stated that we needed to have cash in hand at the airport… and that he would pick us up. He also had raised the price since “he would provide us transportation” since buses couldn’t get us there.   He also let me know there were ATM machines at the airport to get said cash, again stressing that we needed cash in hand…and that since he was driving us to the farm, which was about 3-4 hours from the airport. we didn’t need the exact location. Umm….can you say I DON’T THINK SO?? (to me, it meant transportation of our dead bodies, after he had cleaned out bank accounts and murdered us…I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but it could have happened ya know!)

At that point I had a feeling that we were planning a trip… to be the next headline that later would be made into a Lifetime Television movie, starring Tori Spelling. (Tori would have to play Melissa, since she is the only blonde).

Hell NO! I waited a couple of days to email psycho Farmer back. I politely lied let him know that we were not going to be traveling to Mexico due to [insert lie here] and that I appreciated all of his help. It’s important to be nice to people that you fear might want to kill you…even if they live in a different country. Just an FYI.

He emailed me back a rant that was SO incredibly disturbing that I had to delete it from my inbox. He was livid. He blamed us “spoiled American women” for the downfall of our country as well as the plight of the women in Mexico.

Uh, excuse me? Weren’t we the people who were trying to come there to help?!?

 He spewed some other hateful and frightening things that let me know that my instinct was dead on. This guy was off-the-chain nuts.

I wasn’t going to let psycho Farmer ruin our trip. I called the girls to let them know that I had just saved us from horrific death and our deaths being made into a Lifetime Television movie…and that I would keep up my search for a farm. They were thankful that I saved their lives [it was more like  “Ok Ellen, we trust you, if you don’t like that farm, we’re cool” ]  and I continued my search.

I emailed Farmer #2. He sent some information, but never confirmed that we could come to his farm. We went ahead with our planning knowing that it might have to wait until we get to Mexico to figure out where to farm. I did some research on hostels…and we began building our itinerary, at least for the first week of our trip. We decided to start in San Cristobal.

Now we had a place to start. We booked our flights….and in July, we headed to Mexico.

Next post….Introducing Melissa, Carolina, Natalia and Eyen 

What exactly did I agree to? aka I’m going to Mexico


I am going to apologize in advance for the quality of the photos of my Mexico adventure. My hard drive crashed and all of my Mexico pictures were on it. It’s just too expensive for me to try to recover the photos right now…but luckily I had created a photo book of the trip…so I just took pictures of the photos in the book so I would have some visuals to share.

Also, this adventure will be shared over several posts…there is a lot to share and I don’t want it to become a novel.

Viva Mexico!!

In the Fall of 2007 I took a job that I had no idea would change my life in the way it did. It wasn’t the actual job that caused the change but the friend I would make because of this job. I became fast friends with one of my new co-workers, Carolyn. This friendship would be what it took to get my butt to travel across Mexico for a month and work on an organic farm. For some, that isn’t a shocking thing to do…but for me, it was a big deal.
 Now, I’ve traveled quite a bit…and I’ve lived in New York and London; but the only time I’d ever carried a backpack was at school,…and when I think of an “organic farm” it generally involves the nice people I get to interact with at my local farmer’s market. I’m just not the “outdoorsy” type.

How it all began… 
 Carolyn invited me out to meet up with some friends to hear a local band play. We were all outside talking between sets. All of us were teachers. Carolyn, Natalie and Melissa had been friends for about a year and they all had similar interests (camping, hiking, biking etc…) The girls started talking about the possibility of a trip to Mexico for the following summer. It was obviously an idea they had been throwing around. I was standing around listening to them talk about their plans to go to Mexico for a month… backpacking through southern Mexico and working on an organic farm.  Since they were all bilingual teachers, they all had experiences in places like Mexico and had “backpacked” across various lands. The young ladies (all at least 10 years younger than me) were getting excited about the idea of their trip. I was really excited for them!

 Carolyn looked over at me…

c:  You should totally go with us! That would be so much fun!”

 I looked over my shoulder to see who she was talking to. Maybe another one of their young, “outdoorsy” friends had arrived.  No one was standing there.

 Oh..she was talking to me!

In our short friendship, Carolyn knew that my idea of camping was a night at a hotel and my trips to Mexico always involved an all-inclusive wristband and free airport transfers. I wasn’t even a kid who “camped” in my backyard.

me: Uh….really?? I’m not sure…camping, farming and carrying my belongings on my back  across a foreign land where I don’t know the language….um… not really my thing.

At this point the other girls were encouraging me to come with them.
 It was weird. It only took about a minute for me to decide that this is something I needed to do, even if it was something I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do.

me: I’ll go! It sounds really scary exciting! Now, what do I need to do to get ready?

The girls started laughing. It was October. We weren’t going until July of the following year. To me, it was time to get planning.

I got home that evening and began to freak out a little. Was I REALLY going to backpack across Mexico? The thought of it was really scary to me. Would I be able to keep up? Is it safe? How much Imodium can one take without dying?

 I got a text from the girls telling me how excited they were that I was going to go.

There was my answer. Yep…I was going to Mexico….. What in the world had I agreed to do?

next post……..planning is key (if you don’t want to be left to die on the Mexico/ Guatemalan border)