Category Archives: explore

courage over comfort: coming back home

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Growing up I felt that I was truly a rebel. I marched to the beat of my own drum and I felt that I did things by my own rules. I defied the wishes of my parents, and hung out with some kids they didn’t think were a good influence; knowing that I was changing the world by showing love to those that I didn’t feel were getting it from their own homes. I dressed however I wanted, and I drove over the speed limit. In my heart, I was truly a rebel who was also going to make the world a better place.

As I moved through my high school years and into my 20’s, I was always the child/grandchild/sister/niece/friend that everyone always wondered “what will she do next?” For other self-identifying rebels, I was about a 1.5 on a 1-10 scale of rebellion. In my family I was at least a 9.7! Everyone in my family were great at following the order of things and the rules.

You went to high school, you went to college, you got married and you had kids.

I wore my uniqueness and my desire to forge my own path as a badge of honor. I was always acting true to my spirit and to the calling of my heart; even if it made others uncomfortable. In my eyes I was living on my own terms and the rebel spirit was at the wheel! So I went to high school, went to Junior College, went to Cosmetology school, moved to New York to be a Nanny…and the journey went on for a while and was full of great adventures and countless stories I hold dear to my heart.

I was also learning that when you live this way, it can make others uncomfortable and worry about you. They will also judge you. Even if they think their judgements are for your own good, they are still judgements. I have also always been someone who does care what others think, so these judgements had a way of seeping into my subconscious thought.

Back then it was more in a way of taking in what they are saying, but still making the decision I thought was best for me; even if it went against what judgement or opinion someone had shared.

It served me quite well, and it gave me a life full of adventures, failures, sheer joy, and great challenges. You know, Living Life!

Over the next couple of decades my rebel spirit became tame. Society has a way of doing that. You’re told you need to “grow up” and do things a certain way. You need to have health insurance and a 401K or retirement plan. You need to “plant roots” and “settle down”. Slowly you start to see everyone else around you doing this. Getting the stable job with all of the trappings, starting families, buying a house and possibly a mini-van. Although some of these things appealed to me, these things didn’t seem to be showing up at my doorstep. I was getting restless for something that looked like stability, as that was what I was seeing all around me. I was open to whatever it was.

It showed up as a moment in my living room, watching Oprah. The Universe was telling me loud and clear that I needed to go back to school to become a teacher. I heeded the call and took the steps I needed to get started. Although it didn’t seem rebellious to go to college, for me it brought back those same feelings. Fear, excitement, bravery, change; and the desire to make a difference in the world.

I went back to school. I worked hard and earned 2 degrees. I started a career that met all of the criteria that had the big safety net. It has served me well, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way, but as of late, some questions and curious thoughts have entered my mind. Am I truly living my life, or have I chosen to just be comfortable? Where is my rebel spirit? Where is my need to explore new places and to try new things? Have I chosen comfort over courage?

About 2 years ago I began the task of cleaning out my attic space. I ran across some old photos, notes, books, and memorabilia that transported me back to my rebel-self. This also happened during a time of great turmoil in my job and a time of deep self-reflection; as I was feeling lost, battling depression, and just feeling very disconnected with myself and the world around me. I ended up putting the items back into the attic and closing the box on those memories until I knew I was ready to dig deeper. Not into the attic [which will easily be a 3 day project when I get the courage to tackle it, again], but dig deeper into myself.

It is now over 2 years from the time I found those items in the attic. The attic is STILL not organized and I haven’t revisited those photos yet; but now I am excited to see what other treasures I have buried in there. I won’t approach the job with trepidation about what I may discover, but I am excited to relive some of the amazing things I have done in my past.

At the same time, I am finally ready, and have actually begun to find my rebellious spirit again! To be able to find it, I had to really understand what it actually was for me back then.

Upon further inspection I saw that the scope of my true rebel spirit didn’t meet the Merriam-Webster definition. It was more subtle than that. Much more subtle. I didn’t skip school or party. I didn’t sneak out of the house or steal. I actually followed most of the rules, had a high respect for authority and the great desire to not disappoint anyone. But what I felt was the SPIRIT of rebellion. I was the only person in my family who didn’t fit the “mold”. I didn’t follow the same path or the beaten path. My path was forged by me and me alone.

I could see that I felt I could do anything and I KNEW I was brave enough to do it.

I took risks, but didn’t seek out danger.

It was a force within me that only allowed ME to define myself. I was strong, brave, bold, and I knew that life was for living and I was going to squeeze everything out of it that it was offering up to me…even if it made those around me a little uncomfortable.

That was my definition of my rebel spirit.

Now at 46 years old, I see that being a rebel only takes BELIEVING that you are one! It’s being BOLD and BRAVE. Faking it until you make it. Saying it out loud in the mirror to yourself. Saying it over and over again in your head as you’re walking down the hall at work.

Saying it until you BELIEVE it!

Because in the not too distant future, it will become your truth; as it is becoming mine again. The rebel spirit can return. Your bold, brave spirit will emerge from its long hibernation, ready to stretch its legs…and kick some ass!

Rebellion may be loud and messy, but it can also be soft and subtle. Your bold, brave self is defined by YOU. It is defined by choosing Courage over Comfort. Thank you Brené Brown for your quote “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you can’t have both”.

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I have chosen courage over comfort recently, and it is serving me well. It doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. That is where the learning takes place. That is where the rebel spirit resides.

When rediscovering your rebellious, bold, brave self,  it also requires having grace with yourself.  It looks different on all of us and it manifests itself differently based on a myriad of things. It may be that soft, quiet voice or it may roar like a lion. It’s unapologetically yours and can look however you choose.

I invite you to explore your own rebellious spirit. To answer the call of your heart and to see where it takes you. It will be a grand adventure, and I know it will be well worth it.

Allow it to be what it organically is….YOU. POWERFUL. REBELLIOUS. BOLD. BRAVE.

YOU.

 

~e

next….

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As phases go some are abandoned forever, some are started and finished and some are put on the shelf for a while until I am drawn to them again. Blogging falls into category 3. It has been a while since I have posted… and what is interesting is that my life has been extraordinarily busy, disappointing, exciting, sad, scary, joyous, and most of all… challenging…sometimes these feelings happen from day to day and sometimes there is a melting pot of many of these emotions flooding in at the very same time.  From my acceptance into graduate school to the death of my grandmother, life has been moving along at a very fast pace with some of the highest highs and lowest lows.

 I have sat down many times to write, but have felt it wasn’t time. Emotions were too raw or the sadness too heavy. On the joyous days I would want to share but didn’t want to remove myself from the joy to write it down.

Some days I wish that the days would fly by even faster than they already are…wishing bad days away so that I can move onto what is next. Of late, there seem to be more bad days than I am accustom to, as I have lived a pretty blessed life. Through the bad I have learned a lot about myself as well as others. I have seen the magic and power of friendship, the importance of letting people be there for me, being willing to say “I can’t do this anymore” and knowing that it takes strength and courage to walk away from something that isn’t right for me. I’ve also being reminded that I have one of the best families anyone could ask for.

I have refused to harden my heart as the challenges presented themselves. Sure, I’ve learned to better protect myself but I am not going to change the person I am because some people are miserable and want everyone else to be miserable too.

 On other days I ask the Universe to slow down so I can take it all in. The days filled with laughter, friends, family and happiness. Because these days have been less frequent of late, I work to enjoy every second so that I can save up some of the happy moments and sprinkle them into those days where I have climbed in bed at 7:30pm just to be able to say I made it through another day.
My wishes have been granted in both cases, allowing me to move through the difficult parts knowing that the less difficult parts are waiting in the wings.

This has been a year of me having to be selfish at times so that I could hold it all together. I haven’t felt like I have been able to be there for those who have been there for me.  I guess that is what makes the strong friendships I am so lucky to have. I am allowed to let it be about me for a while. What’s even more awesome is that when it shouldn’t be about me, my friends let me know that…and I am a better person because of it. They have kept me sane.

I never ask to not experience the difficult…I just ask for the tools I need to get through it so that I come out on the other side…maybe a little scarred but also a little better. Scars tell stories. A life without stories would be a pretty boring life.

 This has been a very challenging year for me, but with most challenges there are amazing lessons to be learned. I’m trying to find the lessons in the chaos and the calm in my heart to take advantage of the lessons. It is about creating a life that is well lived. It is about trying to find the “awesomeness”.

There is always awesomeness around. Sometimes it is just a little harder to find.

As the light becomes quite bright at the end of this dark tunnel, I am excited about all of the amazing possibilities on the horizon. I will be able to look back on the challenges I have encountered and I will know that they have made what is next that much sweeter.

~e

p.s.
as I was proofreading this post, it almost reads like I ended a bad relationship. In some ways I have but not in the realm of a romantic relationship. This isn’t a post about a lost love but about finding myself and holding my ground when adversity is part of my daily work life. The bright light at the end is only a few weeks away and I owe a big “thanks” to those who have listened, advised, allowed me space, shook me back into reality when needed, made me laugh when it didn’t seem possible, and most of all for showing steadfast love and support. xoxoxoxo

Happiness, Gremlins, and Clarity

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I’ve been in a interesting space in my head over the last few weeks. It’s questioning, fearful, uncomfortable, exciting, creative, and has the potential to move me to the next phase of my life. I am 100% certain that a new, and pretty awesome change is about to take place for me. I don’t exactly know what it is, or how soon it will happen… but I know it is coming. I’m not sure how I know…I just do.

I’ve always had a pretty good instinct so I will trust my instinct right now, knowing change is in my future… and it will be pretty awesome.

Because I am someone who knows when it is time to make a change, I also know that the changes I make will generally cause some upheaval in my life.  I also know that there are parts of the changes that aren’t enjoyable. The good thing is that these parts are manageable if I make sure to take the time to manage them. The areas that generally cause me discomfort or even pain when I am moving into something new, usually revolve around non-tangible things. The discomfort is almost always related to fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what others will think, fear of causing others discomfort because my pursuit doesn’t fit into the mold of what they think I should do.  It is fear that really isn’t necessary but is always present in some form. I think that it is natural to have some fear when making a big change. The fear is there to help protect on some levels, but it is usually quite irrational and it generally fed by my “ego”…that annoying negative thought pattern that always has an opinion about my choices.

As I work on being open to whatever is next in my life, I’ve also been working on managing my fears and negative thoughts. There are two things I have been doing that seem to be working well for me. The first thing I’ve been doing is writing what are called “morning pages”. The idea came from a book I have,  The Artist’s Way. It’s about unblocking creativity. I’ve owned the book and supplemental journal for many years, but had never read it (that is a habit I have….buying books that go unread). As I was working on de-cluttering parts of my house I ran across them. I read the beginning of the book and decided to start on the Morning Pages. In the book there are many other things I could be doing to help open up my creativity…but for now I just need a method and space to clear my head of the things that keep me from being open to what’s next.

As soon as I get up in the morning, I head downstairs and sit down at my desk. I pick up my pen and start writing anything that comes to mind. Anything. I have to write 3 whole pages. The actual journal pages are pretty big, so it can be difficult to fill them up. I don’t censor myself or worry about my handwriting, grammar or spelling.  I just write. I write without stopping, without thinking, without judgement. I am barely awake when I start writing. You see, my “ego” hasn’t had time to wake-up to begin editing my writing. I write freely and purely from my heart.

It’s amazing how much better I feel after I “dump” all of my thoughts out in the morning. It really does clear my brain for the day. It clears my head of my irrational thoughts as well as gives me focus on the ones that need attention. It’s the closest thing to meditation that I have been able to do. It’s also pretty awesome.

The other thing I’ve been doing is a little harder to explain without sounding a little nuts! I’ll try to explain it though. 🙂  Once I am more awake, the negative thoughts start coming out of the dark recesses of my brain. Some call it the ego, my friend Jamie calls it her Chicken Coop (check out her blog!), and I call these negative thoughts my Gremlins. All I do is notice my thoughts. When a negative thought enters my mind, I acknowledge it and then move on. It’s simple but powerful. Once I see that I’m being irrational or negative with my thoughts I can move past them. In some of the books I’ve read, it’s also called “mindfulness” or being mindful…whatever it’s name is….. it is called “sanity” for me.

As I use these two techniques I find more clarity. Sometimes to get to clarity there is a lot of “stuff” you have to get through. I’m realizing more and more that my “stuff” is irrational stuff. It’s all fear based. It’s all based on my ego.  I’m working on quieting my negative thoughts and trusting my own instincts. My instincts have served me well, when I have listened.

A big change is on the way. I can feel it deep down in my bones. I can’t wait to see what it is. It will be good. It will be awesome…and it will happen soon….I can feel it. 🙂

I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

xoxo
e~

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

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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!

~e

Large metal letters and other important obsessions

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I have a few obsessions. They are somewhat random but they all make sense to me.

Saturday morning I went to my local Farmer’s Market. I haven’t been in a while, but I was craving some of their offerings…and the dairy products you get at the F.M. can’t be beat. On my way home I decided to get off the highway and take the neighborhood streets home. In a random parking lot I could see that some kind of art show was being set up. As I glanced over, I saw them… I couldn’t breathe… I had to have them.

Leaning against the wall were these huge letters. The letters M and K were both metal and the A and E were made of wood. (spelling MAKE).  Each letter was approximately 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. They were magnificent!

The logical part of my brain told me that I had dairy products from the Farmer’s Market that needed to get to the fridge…so I couldn’t stop. It just wasn’t practical to allow Farmer’s Market priced milk to go bad while perusing the art show.
What I love is that the logical part of my brain said NOTHING about the fact that I have NO reason and/or space in my home for these beautiful useless letters… Nope…only the groceries kept me from pulling into the parking lot.

After arriving home and unloading my Farmer’s Market goods, I decided I “needed” to go to the bookstore. I really never need to go to the bookstore. I generally go because, for some reason, walking around the bookstore for a good chunk of time makes me feel good.  As I was on my way to the bookstore I noticed that I was traveling in the opposite direction of said store… I was heading toward that parking lot that held the letters that were meant to be mine. I guess I was subconsciously obsessing about the letters. obsessing.

I pulled into the lot.
I walked around looking at the other art, as not to show my excitement for the letters…. You never want to look too eager to purchase art.
I stealthily walked towards them trying to act disinterested.

They were stunning. They were awesome. They cost TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. yes. $2000 for 2 metal and 2 wooden letters. Seriously??

I can be disgusted by the high price tag… since I don’t have a cool $2000 burning a hole in my pocket.
Because I know think if I did, I would have been loading up my 2002 Ford Explorer with these fantastic letters without batting an eye. yes. seriously.

Instead I had to settle for a photograph of the M. The letters were too far apart to get them all in one photo…and since I wasn’t going to buy anything and the guy working there was looking at me suspiciously (possibly because I gasped loudly at the price and the began quietly weeping when I realized the letters weren’t coming home with me) I quickly snapped a photo and left.

Here she is..in all of her glory, the letter M:

I guess I will just have to continue to dream. Maybe one day I will have extra-large useless letters in my home. (I currently own a small metal E and a small letter Q…they are only about a foot-and-a half tall. Small beans compared to these monsters.)

I left the parking lot, blotting my tears as I drove away and onto the bookstore where my next 3 obsessions can be found. These next three items can also be what spurs a new phase, or can be part of a phase.

They are Journals, Calendars & Books.

 It is rare that I ever leave a bookstore in less than an hour. Today’s adventure was about an hour and-a-half long. Not a record…but I have some other things to accomplish yesterday…so I was on a time crunch.

Since it is September they have all of the calendars out on display. I walk by the display.

I think to myself: “I have an IPhone that has a great calendar that can hold all of my work obligations as well as my personal plans. I don’t need a paper calendar.” I high-five myself (in my head…because high-fiving yourself in public leads to sideways glances and whispering by others.)

Since I knew I had tons of willpower today I head over to journal section. Whoever said I wasn’t a glutton for punishment doesn’t know me very well.

I think to myself “You have approximately 10 journals at home. You don’t EVER write in them.”

At this point I am telling myself to quit rationalizing all of my desired purchases…but I know I am right to stop myself. If not, I would end up with another journal I don’t use and a calendar that ends up being twice the work since I would have to write in all of the stuff from my IPhone calendar so I don’t forget anything. It makes logical sense…but for some reason I always find myself wanting these things.

I know that part of it is that the paper calendar doesn’t really work for me right now. My job is one that all of my appointments are done via email/outlook and I have to be able to access my calendar quickly. Lugging around a paper calendar isn’t practical.

As for the journaling… I’ve wanted to be someone who journals, but my handwriting can get sloppy and journaling isn’t really meant to be edited. I like to edit. I think that is also why journaling

I walk away from the calendar and journals empty-handed. It was a small personal victory.  Yay Me!

As I finish up my bookstore adventure, I run across three books that “need” to come home with me. They are:

My purchases actually made me laugh a little. Finish This Book in some ways is forced journaling. It is in workbook style and it also includes whimsical tasks to complete. Since my track record in following through with journaling is an epic fail, maybe this format will help move me along.

thx thx thx is also somewhat aligned with my journaling obsession. This book is filled with little thank-you notes the author wrote to everyday things in her life. It is brilliant! It also falls into my current phase of trying to have more gratitude (which is aligned with  my desire to be more “mindful”). The book itself takes 30 minutes to read, but it will be one of those treasures that stays out on the coffee table to remind me that there is a lot to be thankful for. Which is A WHOLE lot! I also might try her method in being thankful. It’s quick, simple and pretty awesome.

Lastly, (insert justification here) I just really like Malcolm Gladwell’s books. This purchase made some sense. I like the author and it seems like it will be an easy read.

Honestly, it really doesn’t make much sense. I don’t need another book. I probably have 40 books here at home that I have yet to read….

hum…

Maybe I’ll make a list, I LOVE a list… a list of the unread books in my house. Then I NEED to buy the paper calendar so that I can organize my time to get all of the unread books read. And THEN I need to purchase that journal so I can write about all of the books I read in the next year, as well as ideas I get from the books. Plus, I didn’t spend $2000 on the metal and wooden letters…so a little calendar and journal are such minor purchases.

Yep…that is how my brain works. I have a pretty amazing justification process. The likelihood of a future calendar purchase is pretty-much guaranteed.  As for the journal, I am getting my “journal fix” through blogging. Luckily blogging doesn’t cost anything….and it allows me to edit. 🙂

Happy Sunday!
~e

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

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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

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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!

Then…
 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…..is 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)