Jumping off the deep end

I felt like I had just jumped off a huge cliff into freezing cold water. My pencil dive was so stiff I parachuted to the bottom of the water like sinking in quick sand: finding it nearly impossible to get back up to air. I can see the mirage of the sky and sun through my burning eyes but it is blurry beyond its reality. Finally my fingers feel the crisp air and next my head. I open my eyes to visuals of land and desperately gasp for the air I had lost.

This past week has made me appreciate that feeling of deeply longing for air and finally reaching it. The technical training, the friendships, the culture, and the passion I gained this past week have made the constant of drowning in ambiguity all that much more worth it.

The week started with apprehension of how my body would handle jumping back into action after a week laying on the bathroom floor, but surprisingly I ran into no problems. Hallelujah!

Some of the technical training consisted of analyzing several businesses ranging from restaurants to “empresio de creditos” to mercados, a whole day of junior achievement lessons with 6th graders, teaching English to 5th graders, and information technology classes. Mind you this is all being done in spanish. What a week!

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But what a refreshing week. What a gasp of air. Getting a glimpse into actual Peace Corps projects and Peace Corps life has answered a lot of questions. For instance, a big one many of us trainees have “what the heck am I doing here?” Seeing the relationships built between the volunteer and community members, seeing the eagerness children have to learn, seeing things that might be considered struggles to us but are just simple life to the native Costa Ricans. Although the glimpse into life looks intimidating, it looks inviting. At one point of my visit, I remember sitting on the porch having cafecito. It began to drizzle and the wind picked up a tiny bit. A sense of calmness, like a blanket, lay quietly over my body. I’ll never forget that feeling.

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The past week I really let any fear of training I had escape my mind. I didn’t care how many mistakes I made while speaking Spanish, I made each step with confidence (even if I wasn’t feeling confident), and I just had fun with everything. I decided these three things will be a guidance for my life as a peace corps volunteer. It definitely reminds me of living in Hawaii and coming to the realization that fear only exists if you want it to.

And I don’t want it to….

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I am so thankful for the wonderful week I spent in San Carlos. On top of that, when I got home, my host family told me we were going to Limon! It was only a day trip but it was such an amazing time.

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Not quite sure where I will find the energy to go back to grueling weeks of training after 2 weeks away from the training hub but each day down is another day closer to training being over! Annnnddd we have an exciting getaway to Manuel Antonio and Quepos this weekend with no work!!

I miss everyone and would love snail mail. It takes about 2 weeks to reach me and I only have a month left where mail will be easily delivered to me. Get to it! 🙂 xoxo

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The not so fun part

This week has been pretty rough. I have a gnarly stomach virus and it has not been fun.

During the next two years I know when things get ugly, it’s going to be all about perseverance. Feeling down, sick, hurt, lonely – it’s all going to happen. I’m just going to have to let the pain seep in, accept it, fight it, and move on. Butttt it sounds easier than done, especially when you are unable to leave the bathroom that your host family of 6 shares and is located in the very middle of the house with walls thinner than paper machet.

Thankfully Costa Rica is pretty advanced in their medical care and the peace corps sets volunteers up with an amazing emergency plan. I tried waiting as long as I could before going to the hospital. One, because I didn’t want to be a baby, and two, because I was scared to leave the toilet.

Turns out, there’s a really bad virus going around. I was 1 of about 15 just that evening in that specific ER. Everyone was extremely sick; it was a disturbing scene. It made me feel a little at ease that I wasn’t just the weakling girl from Cali who couldn’t handle some flies in her food. (I wish I wasn’t joking). But nope, people born and raised here were more miserable than me.

After sitting with an IV in my hand and 3 liters of “suro” later, the doc said I was ready to go. My stomach still felt the same but I was completely out of it but thankfully no longer dehydrated. But my stomach!!!!! I got tons of medicine I couldn’t understand and that was that. After the first round of medicine I still don’t feel amazing but the peace corps nurse assures me I’ll be better by tomorrow. We leave on Monday for a week long intense technical training so I’m really hoping I can at least stomach a 4 hour, windy bus ride.

I keep telling myself this is my test. I’ve waited so long to be here in Costa Rica with the Peace Corps, and am going through this grueling training process, and then I get thrown this curveball of a gnarly stomach virus that just makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. But I’m not going to. This morning I thought to myself, “of course this would happen to me.” I felt a little discouraged. Of course I would do anything to be sick in a familiar place with familiar faces and a familiar language but this is what I’ve chosen and as bad as my stomach hurts, I wouldn’t change it. Believe me at the worst moments of this past week I didn’t know what to do. But I’m here. And I’ll keep pushing.

I’m sure this is only a mere glimpse into what is really to come in the next 2 years. I’m sure there will be plenty more nights spent on the bathroom floor and more trips to get medicine that will ease the shooting stomach pains. But all I can do is brush it off. They weren’t lying when they said this is the toughest job you’ll ever love.

Ps sorry if you’re offended by any of the toilet talk. But I’m sure any PCV or PCT can appreciate it. During staging a returned peace core volunteer told us “every fart is a gamble.” We all blushed and laughed. But now we know the truth. Can initiation be over yet?!

I’ll post when I’m back from my trip next week. Miss and love you all. Send some positive vibes my way!

Aim

Lost in translation

I finally feel normal in a world that mostly consists of the Spanish native tongue. I say “mostly” quite loosely because when amongst my fellow volunteers, we tend to slip right back into English bro-slang. The first couple of weeks, at the end of the evenings, I felt drunk with confusion and barely had a moment for reflection. I couldn’t keep my mind from wondering to a place of escape during conversations in Spanish but became an expert at maintaining eye contact and chuckling with the group on cue. It was a frustrating feeling; being an ant in a world where spiders rule the grounds.

I feel like I’m starting all over. I’m back in kindergarten trying to remember a is for apple and b is for banana. Except in my case, its r is for “recursos” and s is for “sostenibilidad.” If only the vocabulary building was simply apples and bananas, but it’s that and so much more in order for me to have the specific training to be a business facilitator in my future community. Back to the basics it is. A struggle to get my point across. A struggle to exude confidence while frantically flipping through the weathered pages of my dictionary.

It’s interesting to think how much words and language impact our ability to be heard and to generate complex thoughts. One of my friends here is from China and speaks Mandarin, Korean, English, and is now learning Spanish. I asked him when he lays down at night and is drifting off what language his mind wanders in and he said “pictures.” How interesting, right?! I have such a new found respect for anyone who is speaking a second (or third) language as their primary language. It’s really a testament of your dedication to be heard and understood. Who do you want to be – an observer on the sidelines or the one scoring the goals?

The other night my host dad and I had a lengthy conversation about Costa Rican economics and the US’s perception of the value of a dollar. This conversation is in Spanish, where my vocabulary is nowhere near advanced and I’m trying to convey my knowledge and interest but it comes off so dry and simplistic. My concept of self and purpose were lost well beyond the means of translation. I went to bed tossing and turning because what I wanted to say was important and relevant to our conversation but it came off so robotic and basic. But I keep pushing.

Ultimately, learning is everything. One of our staff members said the other day, “learning is the most intimate act.” It’s a process done through the explanation and guiding of others, but such a personal journey. You get what you put in.

I spend so much of my time in the dark that I often make up stories. I am normally a person of inquiry – wanting to know life stories, but currently, my capacity to communicate is not delving much deeper than the peel of an orange. So I tend to make up the story behind the scar on the cheek, the sadness I see behind her eyes, and the tattered house I pass on my Camino every day.

It’s almost better to just be – living in a land of charades not digging into someone’s past but deciphering what we have together: a few simple sentences in Spanish together. I’m not swishing the paint brush story by story, experience by experience to create the gran dios person in front of me. Rather, I’m looking at the painting as a whole: as I see it. Avoiding curiosity of the paint. Going off the deep blues and violets of the moment. The vibrance of a conversation. Figuring out how we can understand each other right now versus comparing the stories of our past.

Going back to the basics of basically learning how to talk again has been probably some of the most challenging moments thus far. But at the same time, they’ve made me laugh, they’ve made me appreciative, and most of all they made me be creative. The basic fundamentals of learning have insured a sense of imagination into my mind that I never knew existed. I’ve also found a new element of the importance of living in the now. My Spanish level is best by using the present tense. Not a whole lot is talked about in past tense or future. It’s kept me living in the present and focusing on the now. Something I’ve struggled most of my life to do.

Something I am starting to grasp is that for many things I’m currently experiencing, and many parts of life, there is no direct translation. For every word I find myself racking my brain for the English meaning, I have to remember that not all Spanish words are going to come across translated for an English meaning. A meaning isn’t always going to be cut and dry. And life doesn’t come with a dictionary for translation.

As much of  a frustration it is that so much is lost in translation, it also is quite beautiful. It’s moments of reflection. Moments of carefully choosing how to convey a simple point. Appreciating the ability to hear and be heard. Communicating with limited resources of vocabulary but still running lengths in comprehension. Every day is a struggle. Tiny pieces of information fall through the thick cracks of translation, slipping into a black hole that i might never be able to recover, but that is just life in a foreign world – and you keep going.

A quick taste

Last weekend we were sent on “PCV site visits.” A quick taste into service that I am savoring in order to get through training!

All 42 of us were going to different parts amongst the country. It was a perfectly placed trip because I think all of us were starting to feel a little trapped in training. My friend and I were sent together to a town called Penas Blancas, which is in the province of San Jose, about 2 hours North of Panama and 1 hour from the Pacific Coast.

It was our first trip away and I can’t even explain how free the wind made me feel. I so badly wanted to stick my head out the window of the bus and wag my tail with excitement. If it wasn’t 5 in the morning and half asleep, it is quite possible that I would have.

I’m not sure if it was the obvious of our “gringoness” or the bus was really almost sold out but our seats were in the very back of the bus, smack dab in the middle. In middle school, these seats are where the cools kids sit, but in these travel busses, these are the “last resort” seats. Definitely not ideal for 2 girls who get a tad bit carsick. Anyways, we managed to phase in and out of sleep while trying to hold on tightly to our bags like Peace Corps had suggested in our safety trainings.

At first I was a little bummed because some of my “compuneros” were visiting other PCV’s at the beach where activities of “letting loose” were going to be involved. I envisioned them “finding their beaches” with ice cold coronas in hand while working on the perfect shade of bronze. Oh how I was envious! Training can be quite the grueling process. I can see how it is definitely needed to be a successful volunteer, but at times, I feel as though I am jailed. In reality, I think it is just difficult for us recent college grads, independent, thrill seekers to have an abundance of rules and restrictions for three months, but we are all adjusting.

Penas Blancas was a part of Costa Rica I am very thankful I got the opportunity to see. First off, the volunteer I visited was basically what I would call a “bad ass volunteer.” She had/is accomplishing so much as a volunteer. I ended up not staying with the volunteer and her host family, and instead went to the house where the next volunteer will be living. As badly as I wanted a translator and a surplus of answers to some questions that were brewing in my mind, I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone. ANNNDDD I had an amazing time and met such an amazing family.

The second day, us volunteers (2 in-training) went to “el rio” with a group of kids who the volunteer is working with to develop a scouts group. These kids age from about 8-20 and are male and female. The river was probably one of the best times I’ve had in a while. I wish I had a word to describe how these kids inspired me but I can’t think of it. It’s interesting because we don’t even speak the same language, but we connected in a way that really touched my heart. At their age, so many things can influence who you become. What road you take. Who you hang out. EVERYTHING. For me, that’s where I took the wrong turn. Hanging out with the wrong crowd and doing the wrong thing. On the other bank of the river that day, there were a group of boys partying. These kids that were sitting with us easily could have been those kids – smoking weed and drinking. But they were with us – laughing and talking about their futures.
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We played chicken fights, swam in the river, jumped off trees, and drank fresco and chatted on the rocks that were hot enough to fry eggs. It was so simple but I saw how much it was a foundation to these kid’s lives. Positivity to do good things and to know that possibilities of the future are endless. Such a perfect reminder of why I am here. Another little girl I met (6 years old) cried to me how she so badly wanted to visit the United States. We stood on my bed and she was pointing to all of the places on the map of places where she wanted to go. It made my heart melt. Her dreams were endless- I pictured her a captain of a boat, sailing around the world.
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I am so happy I got the opportunity to see the progress and accomplishments that were happening in the town. It was an inspiring weekend. It connected a lot of dots in the ambiguity of a PCV in training. There will be 2 years to “find my beach” right?!
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There are several concepts that I am trying to grasp in my head. I really wish I had more time to reflect on my experiences but days are pretty exhausting right now. For now, I know how happy my heart feels. How I feel like I could not be in more perfect of moments. Yesterday, I lay my head down in bed with the biggest smile. I can’t say things are completely comfortable, which they aren’t supposed to be – but they are exiting. They are inspiring. They are motivating. There are so many things I have taken for granted, but at the same time, so many things I now know I don’t even need; whether that be materialistic things or a way of thinking. A perspective is already shaping and I have only been here a month.

I will try and write more. I don’t have internet and sometimes when I get home from 10 hour days, talk with my family in Spanish, and then do homework, my mind is far beyond capability to write.

MISS & LOVE YOU ALL.

Stay young, wild & free

“Age is the matter of the mind, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain
^my grandpa sent me that quote and I believe it is true for the concept of time as well. Just LIVE! ☺

Tranquila(ity)

I sit here with a break from cramming Costa Rican economics and endless conversations in a language other than my native tongue, and I ponder my future. Nothing dramatic; pretty simple concepts. These are almost incomprehensible thoughts because I am not leaving the beautiful land of Pura Vida for some time, but already, with a light glimpse into the life of others, I contemplate what my own future will entail.

I imagine I’m a bird – flying from home to home with tunes of sunshine. I see my future self in a garden amongst an abundance of flowers. There’s stargazers, birds of paradise, Lilly’s, carnations, and soft pink bundles of roses with their petals graciously spread amongst the freshest of green grass. I’m so happy. Humming along in sunshine with the birds I call my friends. A place for the birds to visit and me to call home.

The simplicity is vast and unattainable at the same time. Like vapor – waving my tiny fingers to savor even just a piece, but it leaves me with only a moment of memory. I’m back to the predecessor. The ideas of the unnecessary but so urgently craved.

Take me back to my rocking chair in my garden that blinds the eye with it’s ever lasting beauty and undeniable scent. Where your ears burst with life by only the sounds of the flapping wing’s of butterflies. There is life. There is death. There is rebirth. There is pureness. Everything is there.

I contemplate my desire with seeing every inch of the world when I escape to my garden of tangled vines and endless trees to climb. A grassy knoll for siestas and a nicely placed stump to rest my fresh brewed coffee. After all of the instability I will be experiencing the next 2 years, am I going to easily exchange living day by day out of a suitcase for a floral tranquility?

My pressing thought for the day.

May your days be filled with joy and flowers

Miss and love you all.

P.s. my garden would definitely have a pug or two running around!!

Xo Aim

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Mailing address update

PCT Aimee DeBacker
Cuerpo de Paz
PO Box 1266-1000
San Jose, Costa Rica

This is much easier than the previous one. Keep in mind boxes might get stopped at customs. Letters and pictures and funny stories ect would be much appreciated!!! xoxoxoxox

Poco a poco – the first couple days

The past couple days have been eventful to say the least. It was pretty difficult to leave the training facility where we spent 6 days bonding and getting a basic, yet slightly tedious overview of what we can KIND OF expect for the next 3 months. There are a total of 42 volunteers, which to me seems like an exceptionally large number.

I swear these people seem so familiar to me. Like I’ve met them before. Maybe I saw them in my dreams passing me by on the streets, or maybe it’s from a past life. But some how, I feel like I’ve known them my whole life and reality, it’s been 1 week. It’s probably due to the fact that we’ve finally found others that are just like us. People who didn’t listen to everyone who said “I can’t believe you’re joining the peace corps, I could never do that!” Well, we did it. We found each other on that unbeaten path.

Saturday was a pretty exciting day. I honestly wasn’t nervous to meet my family because there wasn’t much other choice. We piled our bags into a truck and started driving to make the dumps. And by dumps I mean they literally dumped us off at a stop where our host families were told to meet us. And off we went.

I got to my “stop” and was let off with four others in my novice high Spanish speaking group and basically stood in the plaza looking at families waving to us while we smiled with confusion clearly plastered on our faces. After everyone found their families, the one woman left was for me! Mi mama! 

I was embarrassed to go to the truck where all of our luggage was thrown into because there she would discover how much luggage I had. In u.s. standards, I did pretty dang well for packing my life into 2 suitcases including toiletries and personal items like pictures etc, but in Latin American standards, I might as well have introduced myself as Paris Hilton. We wheeled my entire life away together, not understanding anything the other said. I heard her say taxi and that is about all I got.

We arrived to an adorable house in San Isidro where i met my host brother. I sat down to have cafecito with mi mama and her mama (or Tita). We laughed together over the confusion and I immediately felt better about not understanding a majority of what was being said. I’m not sure what we were talking about but I’m pretty sure I asked if they were going to request another volunteer after me (I’m their second), and she explained something to me and tita started crying. I grabbed her hand and we sat there. I’m not sure if I’ll ever know what was said in that conversation.

mi papa got home and we chatted over dinner. He knew some English so we shared some words and he helped me with some questions I had. Life saver! My host family has 5 dogs. I asked mi mama what kind of dogs she had and she told me French bull dogs. I was so excited to see the french bull dogs so she took me outside where I discovered that French bull dog was really a shitzou poodle type mut 😦 they said their house is like a zoo with 5 dogs, a cat, 3 birds, one chicken, one Tortuga and one fish, and I told them they now have an Aimee and they couldn’t stop laughing.

After dinner we went on a walk to get their daughter. She is 17 and besides the fact she knows no English, we hit it off. We got back to the house and turned on the under 17 women’s world cup to watch Costa Rica vs Venezuela. Costa Rica sadly lost 3-0. Mi hermana and I sat there talking in Spanish about music. She likes Taylor swift and Katy Perry. Her dad put on music to show me all different types of music they listen to in Costa Rica. Him and his daughter got up to show me the bachata and the menerengue. A situation like this would normally fill my heart with sadness but I could not stop smiling at the simple love between a father and his daughter. No matter the country, culture, or anything in between, a dad and his daughter have a special bond.

I’ve felt a lot things these past few days and as I’m laying here in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar country where I’ve spent the past nights speaking an unfamiliar language with unfamiliar people, I feel so familiar with myself. No questions. No doubts. I am in the right place. I’m not going to lie, there are things I am in a bit of a culture shock about and definitely already can see how different my life is in the states. BUT My life is already forever changed.

I guess more than anything I felt confused. Confused how life in the states seems so simple but so different. Today the water was turned off for a majority of the day (which is a normal thing when it’s hot out). Showers are taken by saved buckets of cold water. This would be an outrage in the States, but its every day life in San Isidro. Peace Corps pays families monthly to host us volunteers and by no means is it much. Despite all of this, my host dad still wouldn’t let me pay for my dinner when we went out to “Chinese food” (fried chicken and French fries).

I hope some day in the future I am able to make sense of the way I’m feeling. It’s not a longing for the states, or an unhappiness with what I’m experiencing. More than anything it’s a confusion about my own perception of what happiness is in life. Family is the basis to everything here in Costa Rica. As long as they have family, esta bien.

My mailing address is as follows:
Aimee DeBacker, PCT
Boulevard Rohrmoser
300 m. Oeste de la Farmacia Fischel
El Triangula Costado Oeste del Parque La Loma
LA Favorita, Pavas
San Jose, Costa Rica

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42 of the most ambitious kindhearted people I’ve ever met

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Backyard of my new home.

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View from Peace Corps classes in downtown San Jose

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LA iglesea in my town

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Estamos aqui!

I honestly felt like this day would never come. It has been almost 2 years to the date since I submitted my application. Here I am now, with the most excitement I’ve had in a long time. And more importantly, beyond confident that I am in the right place and following the right path.

After 3 long days of traveling across the United states and south to Costa Rica, we finally made it to our retreat just 60 minutes north of San Jose. The place is absolutely amazing. Our days for the rest of the week will be spent in the classroom training. However, they sure do give us plenty of coffee breaks…and that isn’t just a term. We have literally been loading up on cups and cups of Costa Rican coffee.

The energy at the retreat is so amazing. 42 eager souls ready to make a difference in the world. Ready to sacrifice everything they know to immerse into something completely unknown. We are all so different in so many ways but all so similar. I can tell we are going to make an impact.

So far, a majority of my experience has been extremely ambiguous. And this dates back to initial application process. Now, the ambiguity seems so normal. If the Peace Corps all of a sudden filled me in with a plethora of information, I would think they were crazy.

For now, I will just sit back and practice my broken Spanish while getting used to the luke warm showers. I already fell in love with a stray dog at our retreat and the security man told me the perrito could be my gift. I’m not sure if he was joking or not? He was so excited to say “dog” in English to me!

I apologize for this entry not flowing so great. I have not slept for 36 hours and not sure how my brain is functioning but I just wanted to let everyone know I’m alive and bursting with excitement. I’ll try and post soon!!!

Xoxox

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Some of the girls soaking up the sun on a coffee break

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Taking in the view .

Be pure. Have intent. Conquer fear.

I feel as though things are pure when I am right here. And they are. But then when I step away, my mind withers. My intent lowers. I get lost in the clouds and I lose the fire. 

A grain of sand has traveled so far to this point. Starting as a boulder. Falling down mountain sides. Thrashed in rough waters along the way. Losing its edge amongst the battle. Chipping away slowly bit by bit. At times I am that boulder. Constantly and effortlessly losing to the known. But here, today, I will be opposite. I will start as grain and work up to boulder. Picking up matter through my struggles along my journey. Everything will stick to my being and become constant in my mind. I will not lose.

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The wind may want to drift me in directions I’ve seen before. Gently guide me with an ariel tour of the discovered. However, I will politely decline. I’m sorry wind, I trust you, I do, But I am ready for what is next. What is beyond these horizons. I am chasing the moon who is chasing the sun, who ultimately is life right now. My guidance. She rises, I rise. But again, I apologize to her as well, because at times I must disobey her lead. 

Facing the ocean, my hair blows violently in the wind. I can hear you wind, I can feel you pulling. Pulling me somewhere or pushing me back. But I pull you forwards and push you even harder back. I listen to you and I respond to you because I am ready, not because I don’t trust you. Remember, I do not have fear anymore. I am ready for today. keiki

The development of fear lays heavy in my mind. Is it an innate emotion or a created illusion influenced by the pressures and nonsense of society? Are we injected with tiny ounces of fear in the womb? Naturally afraid of the unknown. Or, is fear the result of the tiny strings society (and media) is able to control. I will no longer let the pressures detour me. I am the king, conquering each element of fear with my army of forceful intent. The amplified pressures should not change those who are hatching. Hatching with eagerness and vibrance. Hatching with no fear inside of them, but fire beneath them; breaking through the shell with the strength of a bull.20140220_074116 

It is so easy to get caught in the whirlwind of a tornado. Spinning out of our control and into the undesired. Instead, we must lead the tornado to the epicenter of our dreams. The creator of our futures. We must make fear ignite us versus hinder us. 

 

Today, I sit here and feel pure. I feel emotion. I have deserted my feeling of comfortability of the small island of Maui. But I am feeding off of my excitement. I feel the warmth that the happiness is brewing. I sometimes have to touch the grass beside me or dig my toes into the earth to remind myself this is real. Where the ocean meets the sand, reality meets the unknown. Solid meets liquid. We can only make so much of it. Don’t over think the simplicity of it. Swim against the waves if you need, because it is part of the struggle, but once you reach a state of calmness in the water, it will guide you back in, but drift you out even farther if you let it. 

It has power. The distractions have power. Fear has power. The wind has power. The waves exude power. But those elements that guide you, they all have purpose. The purpose will reveal itself only in the pureness of intent. Defy the odds if you must. Fight the waves if you must. Battle the wind if you have to. But stay pure. And then guide. 
haleakala

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all”

The difference between being alone and feeling lonely has started to define my sense of self here in Maui. So much of my past has been so reliant on something, anything. As humans, the comfort of another is all we strive for. Finding that someone, or that something to complete our search.

Coming to Maui alone has had it’s ups and downs. Moments of fear and moments of feeling naive in decisions I make. Never turning to another to validate my choices but turning within. Trusting the fear I have and running with the intuition in my heart. Just the other day, a friend and I went swimming in a secluded water spring in the North shore of Maui, I told her I felt scared to jump in. She, a native of Hawaii, told me she would hate to ever feel scared. Such a simple statement, made me reflect on why I spent so much of my time and emotion on fear. Not knowing what is beneath you is scary, but excitement rushes through you. You’re alive. Not knowing what is to come next in life is all a part of living in the moment.

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Most of my days here in Maui are spent alone. Just with the calmness of the waves and the beauty of the sunsets. I have met some amazing souls along this journey, but have felt a necessity to maintain my distance emotionally. That may sound harsh, but I’m about to embark on a 27 month journey, and it’s just the way it is.

As I walk down the beaches of Napili and Lahaina, I turn to see only one set of foot prints gently washed away by the warm Pacific ocean. Two years ago this would have made my heart feel heavy. Missing my dad, a boyfriend, or a friend, but today, it makes me feel strong. I found a note in my phone that was titled “Note to self.” What was written is as follows.
“Aimee. You need to be a warrior. Exude confidence. You are strong. You are beautiful. You have depth. But don’t let these qualities blind your own self.”

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I have to be honest with myself. With the struggles I have been through. With the mistakes I have made. The triumph I have shown. But I can never let those things make me weak, and I don’t want to feel sympathetic for myself. My struggle is not my identity.

The fear of jumping in alone has created an energy as strong as the ocean itself. There might be doubt in actions made, but the higher percentage of my mind says “just jump” and I do.

Thus far, during my journey, much of what I do has been done while living in a land of uncertainty. Awaiting information from the Peace Corps. Uncertain about my finances. Uncertain about much of the future. Uncertainty and fear are the best of friends. My goal is to let the uncertainty evoke a high. An IV straight to my veins. Every breath I take will be heavy with excitement of the unknown.

just jump

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all” -Helen Keller