Gringa Goes Global

About a year ago I applied to teach English through the Chilean English Opens Doors Program. Unfortunately the program was already full – but it didn’t stop me from applying to the waitlist and researching Chile and the regions of South America with a fervor – devouring articles, photos, travel blogs, and yerba mate all in one fatal gulp. I was hooked on the idea of South America. The dancing, the music, the language, the cultures, the people, the nature, the adventure, the challenge.

But then I began my ‘career’ which consisted of sitting in a car, in traffic, for over 2 hours a day, sitting at desk for 9 hours staring at a screen filled with ads for dentists and coupons for discounted Lasik procedures, and speaking to hardly a soul throughout a 12 hour day. My spirit was quietly being crushed, the life being sucked out with every start of the engine in the mornings. Depression creeped in from every corner of my day and it started to become a struggle just to force a smile for friends and family. The person I was and who I wanted to become was vanishing before my very eyes and I felt powerless, trapped in a cycle of paychecks, to change anything.

So for the past year I began to quietly save and research. Lunch hours spent consuming travel routes through Central America, instead of actual food. Photographs of natural wonders such as Angel Falls, Machu Picchu, and Torres Del Paine became the backgrounds of all my man-made electronics. My bed time reading became books about how to plan for Latin America because it’s all I could dream about. My soundtrack became Peruvian Afro-funk and other Latin-inspired music because it was the only thing that put a spring into my step. My shopping list consists of functionality rather than fashion first, like hiking boots, khaki skorts, and trying to figure out just how many sports bras I’ll actually need.

I had been preparing to leave for my trip in January 2016. But due to circumstances beyond purely my control – I’m leaving at the end of August 2015 to spend a year traveling and working across Latin America.

If I said I wasn’t scared, I would be lying. But if I said that it outweighed my hope or my excitement, I would be lying even more. The only thing I can say with complete conviction is that I may not be ready to leave at this exact moment or even by the time my flight departs – but I know at the bottom of my heart and by the will of my body and soul that I am ready to leave. I am ready to explore once again. I can’t wait to step off a plane into a new city and be unfamiliar with everything. I cherish the day when I get to work on a farm on the side of a mountain and I sit down at the end of day with blistered hands but a bolstered sense of self confidence because I’ll have actually made something to be proud of.

I feel as though my entire life was one big lie. I was told my only option was to go to college in order to get a job. After college I wasn’t encouraged to continue learning or striving to better myself – my only concerns from graduation on out were to climb the job ladder until I reached a position with enough income to sustain myself and my future family.

For the first time I’m making a choice that will fulfill me more than any job title, diploma, or salary could ever do. And for that I am proud. And for that – I know my soul is once again rooting for me.



Pressure Points

Acupuncture needles in African woman's back

A week ago I tried acupuncture for the first time. It had been something I was always interested in – something always featured in movies and television shows as equal parts terrifying and tranquil. Which honestly sums up the experience quite accurately, in some respects. The pins are all positioned strategically over pressure points throughout the body. You breathe deeply, trying to forget that you have chosen to have roughly 30 pins pricked ever-so-gently into your skin, and focus on relaxing. In our busy world where words travel miles per minute, Facebook posts travel the world in hours, and our brains move at the speed of light just to keep up with our day to day activities, when was the last time you chose to just sit for 45 minutes and think of relatively nothing?

Never. I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my life. Ever.

Well let me tell you – the mind races, leaps and bounds, around and around, circling over the same thoughts you’re trying to precisely escape from. The stress of every day life seeps back in. But then to bring yourself back to the present moment you just remember – I’ve got pins ALL over my body right now so maybe it’s not a big deal if my laundry isn’t done at this exact moment.

There are significant pressure points throughout our bodies – each one affecting us differently, with varying amounts of pressure producing varying degrees of sensitivity. Stimulated at different times and by different methods – we as humans almost are all ticking time bombs ourselves. When pushed, we do explode with an outpouring of tears or obscenities depending on the occasion (unless thats just me?) until we let go of said pressure and allow ourselves to feel a cascade of relief wash over us.

And this roundabout metaphor brings us to a recent pressure that finally lifted. I was laid off from my job this week – in a stunning, out of nowhere, kick-you-in-the-ass fashion. My first immediate reaction upon hearing our HR person utter to me that today would be my last at the company?


The second? How much a flight to Costa Rica costs.

Third? How disappointed my parents would be. But how utterly excited I was.

This is only part one. Read part two here.


Rediscovering Childlike Wonder


When was the last time you got on a swing? Lifted your feet off the ground, closed your eyes, and (just for a moment) felt like you were flying? When was the last time you did a cartwheel? Can you even still do one? When was the last time you truly danced – not to seem hot, not to seem impressive and Beyonce-esque, not trying to emulate anything but just moving for the joy of moving to a song that you love? The last time you ate ice cream before bed without stressing about the calories or the time it would take to burn off said ice cream at the gym? When was the last time you jumped on the bed? Sang at the top of your lungs?

When was the last time you embraced life like a child?


It’s argued that as children we are happier because we have less responsibilities. Less responsibility = more happiness. I’m here to argue with that notion. I would dare to claim that as children we are happier because we just don’t give a damn. While to some that can be construed as ‘responsibility’, it rather relates to the idea of doing something for the joy of it – not the outcome, appearance, or ROI (return on investment) of something.

Recess was a time every kid looked forward to every day. Every. Day. It was 30 minutes of pure release from the chains of a school desk. A time of day when we let our legs run as fast as we could, releasing every bit of pent up energy we’d been accumulating since sunrise. In bursts and bounds of joy, we kicked soccer balls, climbed monkey bars, walked and talked about our childhood dreams, and just enjoyed the sense of freedom, knowing full well that eventually we would return to our classrooms and settle in to endure the rest of the day, still smelling like sweat and sunshine for the rest of the day.

Well, what the fuck happened to that?

So many people nowadays spend their lunch breaks at their desks, craving an episode off Netflix or the latest gossip about Kim Whatsherface or Ashley Whogivesashit. We complain about not getting enough exercise, not enough sunlight, and not enough happiness and we blame things like work for our misfortunes. So why not reinstate a recess for yourself? I’ve been going to a nearby park every day during lunch and doing that exact thing. I bring my lunch to the park and once I’m done I spend an hour outside while I swing, run, jump, walk, do yoga and I play. And I return to the office feeling incredible and ready to tackle the second phase of my day. The release from the Internet, the computer, my phone, my job, my friends, and yes, my responsibilities, gives me a sense of peace that I now understand was necessary as a child – and still is as an adult.

I think one of the reasons I enjoy travel is it’s always a break from reality, but it’s also because you approach things with a sense of wonder. You are enthralled by strangers, in awe of architecture, looking forward to trying new things, and not worried what anyone thinks of you because you are essentially anonymous in a place. But if you truly think about it – what does that stranger passing by while you dance down the street matter to you? The worst thing that could happen is that they stare at you and possibly go home and tell someone, “I saw this crazy girl dancing on the street today. But damn did she look happy.”

Isn’t it odd how we cling to things like alcohol and drugs to reinvent that sense of release we felt as children? Alcohol gives you a ‘free pass’ to act a fool in the bar. Smoking weeds gives you the courage (or lack of willpower) to eat whatever you want and giggle as long as you can. These things bring up face to face with the realities of having an open, childlike mind once again. But the real trick is integrating those lens into our every day.

As I take the steps to becoming an adult – like buying a car and working full time – I’m finding it important to counteract these responsibilities with silliness and whimsy. My clothing is getting more eccentric. My goals outside the office soar higher than my childhood dreams. Instead of going through a tunnel on a playground and coming out to the other side, I get in my car and get as far away from reality until I come out onto another side of myself.

If I’m beginning to lose my childhood at 23, I’d rather spend my life trying to get it back than embrace the adulthood that will inevitably be thrust upon me.

2014, Come at Me Bro.

It’s four whole days into a new year and I finally have a little perspective on my last year in the world.

I graduated college. I traveled 3,000 miles across the Western coast of America with my best friend. I moved into my first one bedroom apartment alone. I was given my first promotion at work. I fell in love and I broke a couple hearts at the same time. I finally shed some of the anxiety and stress that was haunting me daily last year, so much so that most of the people in my life describe my default mood as ‘ridiculously happy’. I went to Montreal, Canada for a couple days. I fulfilled my college goal of being the Creative Director for our university advertising team. I finally got a cat. I grew/am growing my hair out. And even though I didn’t get to travel outside North America this year, I was still able to host a few traveling Europeans on my couch, fulfilling my cultural thirst.

Overall, 2013 was a wonderful year.

729da6db8843a2252de972f690b13b00Just a refresher, I posted this blog almost a year ago and outlined what I wanted to achieve in 2013. Below are the resolutions I made to myself last year:

  1. Treat others how you want to be treated.
  2. Don’t let others define your happiness.
  3. Start believing that everything will work out and stop stressing about what could happen.
  4. Have the courage to trust myself and be confident in myself. Commit to actions that push me forward, instead of holding me back.
  5. Be happy and healthy.

I wrote these down on the very first page of my journal I bought and looked at them fairly frequently, enough so that I consciously kept to my goals throughout the year. Daily, I challenged myself and for the first time I’ve been able to clearly look back and say that I actually stayed true to my resolutions for the most part.

In 2014 I want to continue with these same resolutions and building a foundation for a better life for myself and those who interact with me on a daily basis. I’m challenging myself to write down one thing that makes me happy each day, whether it’s something small like drinking coffee in my sun-filled living room while listening to reggae or if it is a wonderful memory that I’ll always remember like dancing in the new year to my favorite band and pulling a neck muscle. Regardless of who, what, or where I find myself in the next year, I want to be mindful of how happiness is threaded throughout my daily life. It will be a nice obstacle to the negativity that can sometimes overwhelm us each day, to try and find the joy hidden beneath the unnecessary daily evils.

26e95b6b654e1f63d66b9498f6e7aca5I hope everyone else is setting attainable and positive goals for the coming year as well! I hope to travel abroad once more- hopefully teaching English somewhere (more on that later) – and travel within America to Nashville, Charlotte, and Washington D.C. on another cross country road trip, complete with camping and debauchery laden stories. But most of all I want to continue to grow into the badass bitch that I finally know I am meant to be. Cheers to everyone starting off the New Year right for you!

2014: The Year of the Badass Bitches