anger management…

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Gautama Buddha

I’m not an ‘angry’ person. Ask just about anyone that knows me or has known me for any extended period of time and they’ll probably say I’m pretty easy going. I usually care more about how I am making others feel and that trumps how they are making me feel. Sure I get hurt, annoyed or pist like the next person but then time goes by and it’s supposed to go away. Well, while it doesn’t consume my days and nights (usually), it never goes away. I’m still pist about stuff from elementary school – yes, elementary school. From about the 4th grade through 8th grade I was a very angry, depressed, rather morbid child and it manifested in creative ways at home and in school it did not lend itself to making friends. I was made fun of, I was bullied, I was ostracized…the kids pretty much hated me and at  the time I had no idea why.  I didn’t think  I was such a terrible person, but y’know schoolyard politics dictate who the misfits are. Which is why I am forever grateful my best friend (of 30+ years now!) stuck it out with me.

Because I was such a little shit as a child, when we moved to Hawaii and I got the chance to ‘start over’ in  high school, I made a concerted effort to remake myself and suck less as a human being. To a large degree it worked and my inner anger dissipated. Being in a stable location for all of high school helped. Going to church helped and aside from nearly getting my ass kicked freshman year of high school – I was able to make an amazing group of friends, hopefully, many of whom I’ll see this summer at our 20 year high school reunion.

When I got to college I saw kids from elementary school…they were going to the same college…they were in MY dorm – karma!? We were civil, had our own circles, wasn’t a big deal – but on seeing them, the anger came back. You think you have something resolved, you’ve moved on with your life and low and behold…

“Mother! f**@ss chomping monkey vomit son of a heartless goat sh***bag gahhhhhh…i hate you…” – No not a stream of consciousness, I think at some point this sentence actually came out of my mouth.

Continue reading “anger management…”

Goodnight Moon…

So it’s about 1:30 in the morning and I’m sitting on husband’s computer writing this reflecting on my past year. I’m actually pretty proud this post is less than a year from my last post, granted only by a month but hey – it’s progress right? I’m drinking hot limeade with honey, my own home remedy for the raging cough and sore throat that I’ve had the past several days now. Caveat of kids…when they go to daycare they bring home all manner of viral madness that you and the spouse get to take turns doing battle with…

Oh ya…so I had a baby this year.

In fact my last post on Macchu Picchu I was nearly 2 mos along. It made that trip all that more special for my husband and I to be able to travel and cross a bucket list item off my list with little peanut tagging along. While I did not relish the insane nausea that kept me from enjoying so much Peruvian cuisine the experience was nonetheless amazing.

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Following that adventure began the adventure of getting larger and larger as peanut became kumquat became grapefruit eventually on her way to small watermelon.  Pregnancy treated me well and occupied most of my year. Skip ahead 9 mos, I’m not going to go into too much detail other than to relay what I learned by 40 weeks of pregnancy:

  • naps are awesome
  • waiting for said child to debut is tedious especially when one cannot (or shouldn’t) work
  • baby movement is awesome and will be what I miss most
  • morning sickness is not awesome – even if you aren’t vomiting constant nausea blows
  • toward the end you will hear ‘Wow, ready to pop yet’ about a MILLION times!!!!! and you’ll reply ‘Nope, still XX weeks/months to go” about a MILLION times!!!
  • Is it just East Coasters like to schedule their babies? – I’ve been asked a ton of times when my scheduled induction or cesarean is and am met with surprise when I say; nope just waiting for her to come on her own. It’s like I’m a cave woman!
  • pillows are awesome
  • food is awesome
  • ice cream is awesome (husband! so you’re fault!)
  • pregnancy in the hot humid summer is not awesome
  • people smile A LOT at pregnant women – it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to know I can make someone smile just by cooking a minion and waddling past them.
  • pregnancy doesn’t have to ‘slow you down’ like I’ve been told. Long as you listen to your body the world is still your oyster! HOWEVER, if you over do it your body will definitely rein you in sometimes not nicely!

I had lofty goals of what I was planning to accomplish before heading out on maternity leave because while I had hopes, I had no delusions about the fact I was most likely going to get nothing done during maternity leave. Figured I’d be lucky to get a shower. I managed to finish up analyses so others could write manuscripts and literally the day before I went into labor I managed to submit a manuscript detailing a study I did during my Ph.D. work!

My daughter arrived Sept 8 – and my husband and I found ourselves in the tailspin of sleep deprived newborn stage. Thank God my mom and then my husband’s mom showed up to help us navigate for a few weeks! FMLA allowed me up to 12 weeks off my job only part of which was paid at 60% of my salary. Welcome to the U.S. land of no paternity leave and in my case maternity leave was called temporary disability – y’know because expanding your family is a disability!? But enough about my discontent with ‘the system’. Just because that’s ‘how it is’ all over the country doesn’t make it right though. And I was fortunate, there are several jobs where there’s no FMLA or anything set up for women having kids – so I have to count my blessings where I can.

My precious girl is now 4 mos old…I’ve since gone back to work, had fantasies about going all ‘office space’ on my breast pump, 

managed to see my name in print again after a coons age of languishing publications –

and as of recent, caught a nasty cold accompanied by a heinous cough – hence the home remedy I am currently drinking.

4 months…having children is challenging. Not to go all Dicken’s about it but the husband summed it up nicely with “It is the best of times, it is a the worst of times.”  And I’ll expand on that by adding some more Dickens”…it is the age of wisdom, it is the season of Light…it is the spring of hope… we have everything before us…”

We call her our incredi-baby capable of being unbelievably challenging and adorable all at the same time!

In keeping with what I learned with 40 weeks of pregnancy, here’s what I wish with 4 mos of parenthood under my belt:

  • I could bathe in caffeine
  • My boobs would automagically fill bottles during the night so I can sleep rather than pump.
  • I wish I could freeze moments of time when my daughter has a huge smile and gives me massive eyes.
  • I could find the ‘off’ button on my body and conversely the ‘on’ button when 2 am pumpings come up
  • I could be at work and at daycare or home with my daughter at the same time – so apparently I want to be in several places at once…what’s that thing called where Hermoine turns back time again so she can be in several places at once Harry Potter fans?
  • I had more tolerance. There are days when it’s just not there and I feel horrible about it.

We are getting to know our daughter and she is getting to know us and even on our most challenging days – her smile and laughter just seems to erase any difficulties. When she’s cuddly you just want to hold her forever. Currently, she’s discovered she loves to stand up – I think she may skip crawling altogether!

I’m learning to love routine, the predictable – unusual given most of my life I’ve associated routine with mundane. Having a child is teaching me the beauty of routine, the small things, the rituals, the prayers, the quiet and loud moments…

Tonight my daughter was very tired and pitching a fit as husband was attempting to get her into pajamas. I took over to give him a breather as she was hollering up a storm which can grate on the most zen of nerves sometimes. There is such solace in being able to tag-team with your child – ensures some modicum of calm which is absolutely essential when attempting to quiet a baby in the midst of an emotional riot! Part of me couldn’t blame her, she has been catching back to back viruses from daycare for over a month now! And she’s been a trooper for most of it.

I read in a book, (great read by the way – Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers by Tracy Hogg et al. ) that, in general, there are no “bad” parents and no “bad” children – just learning on both fronts. Learning each others cues, learning to communicate – it’s a steep curve but one that you master over time and can’t really rush.

I picked up my little minion still in the midst of her meltdown. As soon as I held her she started to quiet down. We went to the TV – “good night TV” and shut it off, we went to the baby changing area “good night baby changing area” and turned off the light, we went to the extra bedroom “good night playroom” and turned the light off, we went to the kitchen “good night kitchen” and turned the light off, we went to the bathroom and and looked in the mirror “good night baby in the mirror” and we blew kisses to the baby in the mirror as we shut off the light. With each good night she grew quieter and quieter. We grabbed her bottle and sat on the couch and sang as she settled down for the night and for bedtime.

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“Good night sweetheart well it’s time to go, good night sweetheart well it’s time to go, I hate to leave you but I really must say – good night sweetheart goodnight.”

She drifted off and started snoring – because lets face it she’s got my husbands genetics 🙂

I put the bottle down picked her up still singing and placed her in her crib.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

Goodnight moon…goodnight 2015.

Machu Picchu 101 – for those that have limited time and aren’t using a company

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

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A hassle that’s totally worth it.

 

So I figured it might be helpful to post my adventure getting up to Machu Picchu in January 2015 because it’s not as straightforward as one would desire for such a trip. I had limited time and didn’t want to go through an expensive travel company that would book me at a budget hostel or expensive hotel that I wouldn’t get to pick and give me an itinerary and guide I didn’t want. I like to explore things on my own so being on a regimented tour is not my idea of fun.

The below is for a 4 day trip Friday to Monday. But you can do this in 3 days too…see below.

Checklist (from Lima) – I’ll elaborate below:
1. Get your tickets to Machu Picchu
2. Get your train (or train+bus in rainy season) tickets
3. Get to Cusco
4. Either go directly to Aguas Calientes (now called Machu Picchu Pueblo) immediately after arriving in Cusco or stay a couple days – if altitude sickness bites you like it bit us, staying in Cusco is going to blow royally and you’ll need time to acclimate. Given my work schedule we had to fly to Cusco at night so we stayed one night. But you can get early early flights to Cusco that’ll get you to train transfer in time.
5. Get your bus tickets to Machu Picchu
6. Enjoy.

Lastly…cheaper alternatives and links at the bottom…

Elaboration:

1. Get your tickets to Machu Picchu:
So the first thing I did while in Lima was research how to get tickets into the site. They only allow 2000 visitors into Machu Picchu per day and 200 into Huayapicchu which is an epic hike up a mountain for a different vantage point of the lost city. I started off by looking at http://www.seat61.com/Peru.htm because if you are looking to travel via train – he’s the best. His train time tables off a bit though. But we’ll get to that. Tickets first! Seat 61 (and the internet in general) say buy your tickets from http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/ . Now this site does not function fantastically on the English version – I couldn’t get past selecting my dates to actually seeing confirmation of my reservation. So I switched to the Spanish version which I recommend if you know Spanish. I was able to get through the whole reservation process this way and get my confirmation number of my reservation. Now here’s the kicker – your reservation is only good for 6 hours! You have 6 hours to pay and MC/VISA didn’t seem to work for me no matter what I tried on the website in English or Spanish. I assumed my reservation would be good and I could pay onsite when I got there so I left it at that. Yes, you can pay onsite – no they don’t hold your reservation beyond 6 hrs. SO, if you want to guarantee your reservation especially if you’ve reserved going up Huayapicchu (which fills up even in the rainy/low season) then go through paypal on the website instead. This option seems to work well and you can get your official tickets this way. Make sure to print them out and bring them with you. OH – and the government site didn’t work for me on Firefox – I had to use Chrome.

Cost of Tickets to Machu Picchu Only: ~128 soles/person (~42 USD)

Cost of Tickets if you go to Machu Picchu and Huayapicchu: ~152 soles/person (~50 USD)

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Because I failed on the whole only having 6 hrs to pay – we ended up having to pay onsite for tickets when we arrived at Machu Picchu Pueblo. When you get off the train – head through the market and downhill essentially til you hit the main plaza – the tourist office will be off one of the corners of the Plaza (or just ask anyone and they’ll point you the right direction. “donde esta la plaza?” or “boleta machu picchu?”).

Only Machu Picchu tickets were left, Huayapicchu was booked – it ended up being ok because apparently it’s a death hike that’s super cool at the top, but still a pretty ridiculous hike and because we were still acclimating to altitude we ultimately were pretty thankful we didn’t go.

Tickets to Machu Picchu – CHECK

2 and 3. Train/Bus and Air tickets:
So this will be fun as there are only morning trains from Cusco to Machu Picchu Pueblo and only late afternoon trains from Machu Picchu Pueblo back to Cusco so you’ll have to arrange your flights accordingly. We flew LAN Airlines (which was comfortable and they give you a snack). Yes snacks matter when you’re from the US and you pay for absa-fing-everything on any flight. We close to fly into Cusco Friday night then catch the early train Saturday morning…I didn’t want to stress about delayed flights. Know that in the rainy season electric and thunderstorms are a daily occurrence in Cusco – so your flight could be delayed or cancelled. Alternatively, you can travel on the first LAN flight of the day then take a taxi straight to the train/bus depot which assuming no delays you’ll be tired, but it’ll work out. And bad weather typically arrives in the afternoon/evenings in Cusco so your flight should be pretty solid on timing.

Our flight was ~320 USD/person (LAN Airlines: http://www.lan.com/en_us/sitio_personas/index.html) and you have to book it on the English version of the site (or via Orbitz, Hipmunk…). It won’t let you pay with a US credit card if you book your flight in Lima from the Spanish version of the site. When I did the conversion though, if I had been able to book it in country on the Spanish site the price diff wasn’t that big – about ~20-40 USD. At this point if you are going to Machu Picchu you should be resigned to spend money –  especially if on a tight schedule like we were, so this didn’t matter that much.

Seat 61 (http://www.seat61.com/Peru.htm) has a great rundown of the PeruRail (http://www.perurail.com/) train options with pictures. We took Vistadome as that was the one that provided the easiest schedule for us. Remember – TO Machu Picchu Pueblo, morning schedules only. FROM Machu Picchu back to Cusco afternoon/evening schedules only. So if you want to get back earlier than the offered train schedule you’ll need to go to Ollantaytambo which runs just about every hour during the day (timetable: http://www.perurail.com/destination-machu-picchu). Then you’ll need to pay a private taxi to take you back to Cusco ~20-25 USD and could be the ‘ride of your life’ – but it’ll work. We picked Vistadome (The Backpacker is slightly cheaper on PeruRail but left earlier and well…we’re lazy and like to sleep) – cost RT 175 USD/person.

  • Double check train and flight schedules so you don’t miss your connections or try to arrive in Cusco a day early and spend the night, catching the train in the morning.
  • We rode PeruRail but you can check out Inca Rail too (http://incarail.com/) perhaps their scheduling might be more convenient.
  • The latest Vistadome (or any train) that leaves is at 7:50 am in the rainy season (Jan/Feb) when they do bus+train mix and you’ll arrive in Machu Picchu Pueblo just after noon – so plan your flight accordingly if you are going to come in day of your train ride.
  • The last full trip all the way back to Cusco leaves at 5:25 pm but the last LAN flight in the evening is 7:10 pm – so even if you take the first schedule back at 3:20 pm from Machu Picchu Pueblo to Cusco you won’t arrive til 7:30 pm so you’ll still miss that last flight on LAN. Alternatively, as mentioned above you can get back in time if you go to Ollantaytambo and pay a private taxi to get you back in time.
  • Also remember, rainy season = afternoon/evening lightening/thunderstorms so you could get stuck. We came back on Sunday night and flew Monday afternoon 4:30 pm flight – and ours was the last flight out – all the rest were cancelled because of epic storms coming through and our flight was also delayed because of an electric storm.
  • We stayed the night in Cusco at the El Balcon Hostel (http://www.balconcusco.com/en/cusco-hostel-el-balcon, http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g294314-d318940-Reviews-El_Balcon_Cusco_Hostel-Cusco_Cusco_Region.html) It was adorable, quaint, clean but a bit of a hike up a hill to get to which isn’t a problem if you take a taxi. But we just went down to the plaza (3 blocks away) to get dinner and nearly died getting back – we also got altitude sickness which doesn’t help.  They offer Coca tea upon arrival which is awesome and tasty but unfortunately didn’t help me overcome being super ill that night. We were on the second floor and from the balcony could see the city – it was awesome. They offer complimentary taxi to the hostel when you come in, but you’ll have to pay when you leave. Cost ~50 USD/night (my review on TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g294314-d318940-r251143026-El_Balcon_Cusco_Hostel-Cusco_Cusco_Region.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT)

Tickets to Cusco –  CHECK

Tickets on Vistadome RT to Machu Picchu – CHECK

4. All I want to say here is what I said above: Either go directly to Machu Picchu Pueblo immediately after arriving in Cusco or stay a couple days – if altitude sickness bites you like it bit us, staying in Cusco is going to blow royally and you’ll need time to acclimate. If you go directly to Machu Picchu Pueblo the effects of altitude won’t be as onerous and might be worth the earlier schedule – you’ll be tired but altitude sickness I think is worse.

5. Machu Picchu Pueblo and Buying your Bus Ticket EARLY!:

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The line for tickets is on the left of the picture, the line to get on the bus is on the right side of the picture. You have to have a ticket when in line for the bus – they check while you are in line.

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So in addition to all the tickets above you’ll also need to buy a specific ticket to actually take you from Machu Picchu Pueblo up to Machu Picchu itself. The ride is about 30-40 min. Cost 19 USD/person. What we should’ve done since we were in the town a day early was get the bus tickets for the following morning right away – but we waited til about 5:00 am the following morning and the line was out to kingdom come. Now this ultimately didn’t matter too much cause even though it seemed like  it was sunrise and getting super light out, sunrise actually up at Machu Picchu doesn’t get up over the Andes into the Incan city until between 6:15-6:30 (rainy season). So initially we were super bummed because we thought we’d missed the sunrise but after buying tickets then waiting in an even longer line to get on the bus – we did end up getting there just as the sun peaked over the Andes =  awesome. But know that the later you go, the more people will end up in your pictures – so if you truly want a ‘solitary’ experience – buy your bus tickets the day before and be at the bus depot at 4:30-4:45 am to get in line for a bus; that’ll ensure you are literally on one of the first buses up. The site doesn’t open til 6 am though and the first bus will not leave til around 5:30 am but the line for the buses will be insanely long so I still suggest an early arrival if you are a die hard about getting on that 5:30 am bus to be apart of the first group into the site.

Bus Tickets to Machu Picchu Site – CHECK

  • In Machu Picchu Pueblo we stayed at the Panorama B&B (http://www.mapipanorama.com/en/, my review: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g304036-d7159063-r251145329-Panorama_B_B-Aguas_Calientes_Sacred_Valley_Cusco_Region.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT). Biggest pluses: Christophe will store your packs while you explore Machu Picchu, breakfast served at 4:30 am, free bottle of wine (or beer), AMAZING view from balcony or river, quiet area of town yet close to everything. Cost ~$60/night double.
View from the front of Panorama B&B. We were on the 4th floor. Amazing view of river - very serene.
View from the front of Panorama B&B. We were on the 4th floor. Amazing view of river – very serene.

6. Enjoy. It was a hassle to plan but totally worth it.

COST SUMMARY:

  • LAN Air tickets RT Lima > Cusco > Lima: $320/person
  • Cusco accomodation – El Balcon: $50/night
  • Machu Picchu ONLY site tickets: $42/person
  • PeruRail Vistadome RT Cusco > Machu Picchu Pueblo > Cusco: $175/person
  • Machu Picchu Pueblo accomodation – Panorama B&B: $60/night
  • Another night in Cusco before flying out – El Balcon: $50/night

Total: $697/person

Cheaper Alternatives:

  • Stay in cheaper accomodation than we did. So our accommodation was between 150-245 soles/night which is actually pretty high but we’ve done the ‘gap-year-backpacker-don’t-care-where-i-sleep-hope-bugs-don’t-crawl-on-me’ traveling thing. We’re older, have good jobs and quite frankly like to sleep a little more comfortably. We didn’t need five star – but we didn’t want the backpacker hostel experience either (been there done that, was great when I was 23). You can get accommodation for a lot cheaper at backpacking hostels that still offer warm showers and private rooms (25-50 soles/night) – so do a little research and look at the links below on blog posts of people that did this cheaper than us. 🙂
  • Take more time – do your research and find a cost effective tour doing the Incan Trail. Here’s a blog post to get you started – your biggest concern is going to be finding a reputable group that will not rip your off or leave you stranded (it happens). http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/trek-the-inca-trail-to-machu-picchu,3268/.
  • Advice for traveling on the cheap via TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294318-i3352-k5199780-Cheapest_way_to_do_Machu_Picchu-Machu_Picchu_Sacred_Valley_Cusco_Region.html
  • Trekking – permits sell out quick, book in advance with a good company. Take a look at the reviews for these companies – many offer the Incan Trek as well: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g294314-Activities-Cusco_Cusco_Region.html. Alternatively, check out the reviews of the Incan trail and the high reviews – see if they mention what company they went with: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294314-d311715-Reviews-Inca_Trail-Cusco_Cusco_Region.html
  • Machu Picchu on the Cheap Blog Post 1: First Day was travel from Cusco to Machu Picchu Pueblo, Second day was Machu Picchu, Third day heading back to Cusco. Prices are a little different as her travel was in 2013. This does not include the cost of getting nor staying in Cusco prior to actually doing the trip. But it is pretty darn cheap how she did it – $115 total. She has a lot of good tips as well.  http://undertheyewtree.com/cheap-way-to-do-machu-picchu/
  • Machu Picchu on the Cheap Blog Post 2: Not as informational and doesn’t list her final costs but still a good read and the more tips the merrier: http://fullofwanderlust.com/machu-picchu-on-a-budget/.
  • Machu Picchu on the Cheap Blog Post 3: A GREAT blog post – again doesn’t include cost of getting to Cusco or staying in Cusco prior to your adventure  – but breaks it down lovely and end cost/person awas ~$107 USD. Bear in mind this was posted in 2009 but still super informational with pictures and advice. (http://www.chanatrek.com/the-cheapest-way-to-get-to-machu-picchu-machu-pichu-peru/)
  • Machu Picchu on the Cheap Blog Posts 4 and 5:
    Another great breakdown: http://www.drivenachodrive.com/how-to-visit-machu-picchu-on-the-cheap/ and experience: http://www.drivenachodrive.com/2013/01/death-road-to-machu-picchu/ by Drive Nacho.

Best of Luck and Happy Travels!

wandering another year later

coffeeMel

So the husband pointed out that it’s been over a year since my last post and perhaps I was due to start blogging again. Oddly, the past few years since coming back to the US from Bangkok – specifically to Maryland/DC I just haven’t really been inspired to blog…as I’m sure you can tell from the copious lack of posts freakishly apparent on this blog.

It’s difficult for me to write without a reason. I typically don’t update my teaching blog for months on end because I only update it when I feel I have something useful to relay. I typically don’t update this blog unless I have something, again, useful to mull over.

Fact of the matter is, while I may not be wandering geographically much anymore I am still very much wandering inside. Struggling with the pros and cons of my current life, debating what will really make me happy, both loving and hating what I do, turning 35 in a couple weeks and coming to grips with the decision of whether to have kids during the last portion of my 3rd decade of life because I’d rather not have them in my 40’s if I have them at all, being told I’m over thinking everything – yet that’s my nature…

I’m finally seeming to get my legs under me in this new field I jumped into during my postdoc…took awhile. Realizing the majority of what I do and how I live is to make those around me happy and accommodated; but not necessarily myself – and yet making other’s happy does make me happy, but then it doesn’t, but it does…it really is a vicious circle.

I haven’t blogged because I’ve been in limbo – eating, sleeping, working, rinse, repeat… And what is there to say when you are in limbo? “Wow, it’s been 2 years and I’m still in limbo.” – inspiring right? Not really.

I have a bookshelf and Kindle full of books I am uninspired to read, I have a book of recipes yet I am not inspired to cook, a book for programming yet I am not inspired to program, I have a basket full of partially finished cross-stitch that remains in the basket, I have a gym membership languishing, Manuscripts and blogs – yet I am uninspired to write… sounds depressing? It really is not – I’m just in limbo, internally wandering, going through the motions, until I find a renewal of passion for something again.

Mid-30’s life crisis, maybe.

I could blame my phone, those infernal addictive app games, social networking sites, LOL Cats, youtube etc…for becoming the unproductive ‘filler’ in my life – how many hours can you spend just on youtube videos or looking through buzzfeed posts, but while I’ve lost time to those at some point or another, most of my time loss stems from just ‘existing’ and being unable to put what’s going on my head into coherent form. The husband really is a saint for putting up with this by the way.

I’m not really looking for answers here. I’m not happy nor unhappy, just reflecting…yet another year later.

PS. Happy one-day-early birthday Mom, I love you.

A year later…providence or pfftttzz…

So in a random turn of events I just decided to check this blog…today is July 15, 2013. My last entry was July 16, 2012. Coincidence?

I find it humorous that this blog has taken the form of most of my journals (diaries) where I have fits where I write everyday and periods of no activity until one day I randomly decide to write again. I don’t particularly advertise this blog aside from the facebook linking for family and friends that might be interested and I think you can find it via google searching. But this white screen that I type into is more for reflection than anything else, if others derive benefit from that, great.

Perhaps it’s providence that I’ve decided to check my blog. My last entry was about ‘dreams’ and where I was at. Since then life has been eventful but I still struggle with what will make me happy in my work…similar musings as to my last entry. Since then, I’ve gotten married, been quite productive if not incredibly frustrated at work, been back to Thailand to teach a workshop, been to Europe to attend a workshop, started a teaching blog for things I learn at workshops, started online newsletters for my field so others can tap into what I find on the internet, finished up a teaching fellowship, explored DC during free time… Life is clipping along as it should…

Somethings I’ve figured out in the past year:

Continue reading “A year later…providence or pfftttzz…”

what’s your dream?

Devotional Blog:

“Regroup”, 7/15/2012, Proverbs 9:9

So last weekend I was talking to my mom and last night I was talking to my sister and with both conversations I found myself pondering my choice of ‘life path’. If you’ve read previous entries in this section of my blog you will know that I’ve said that I’ve always just walked through the paths I feel like God has opened to me assuming that’s direction he wants me to go. It is after all the only path that’s opened up, so I just walk through it. Did I think ‘this’ is where my path was leading? Actually no.
Continue reading “what’s your dream?”

It’s hard to be ‘from’ somewhere when you are not

Born in Los Angeles County, CA in a hospital that no longer exists, moved from California to Washington when I was 5, moved within WA a bit, moved to Hawaii when I was 11, moved around a bit within HI, by the time I reached high school I’d attended at least 10 schools that I remember distinctly. I get asked a lot if I’m a military brat…nope, my family just went where the work was.

Thankfully we settled in Maui long enough for me to attend all of high school in one place. Then what happened? I promptly started moving around again, summers working in HI, school years back in WA going to college, followed by a move for 2 years before settling in MT for grad school, followed by living in Thailand and now settled in Maryland.

Growing up I used to say I was equally from 3 states (CA, WA and HI)–after grad school I had to add MT because as far as length of time it was up there with where I was born (CA) and the other places I’d lived (WA and HI).

But length of time doesn’t dictate if you are ‘from’ somewhere I’ve learned. Now I’ve always said my home (or where I am from) is where my family is and that’s true. I know I will always be supported and have a home where ever that may be with my folks. So currently, I am from Hawaii. Technically that’s not true though, I was born in Cali but then spent many of my formative years in Washington, albeit I hated grade school and jr. high, and then of course feeling like I actually ‘grew up’ in Maui.

Montana also had a profound effect on me, I did live there longer than anywhere else unless you count my forays back to Hawaii in between school years and my two year hiatus there after college. But MT isn’t ‘home’ to me. I have many great friends there and I loved Bozeman…it’s a great place, but it’s not ‘home’.

Is where you are ‘from’, where the highest density of friends and family are?

I used to envy kids that grew up their whole lives or most of their lives in one locale. They have friendships already rooted and as an outsider I can always come in and become apart of those friendships but never attain the life-long level that comes from being rooted I guess. And that’s ok, surprising at times when I discover I am not as ‘close’ to someone as I’d previously thought, but understandible. No matter how close I get with someone or certain people, I don’t root–never have, it’s a habit for me not to root as the likelihood I’ll ‘move on’ is usually pretty high…I do attach though (epiphytically for you geeks out there). So I’d be lying to say it doesn’t surprise when I am shed.

And wonderfully I have a few ‘unrooted’ life long friends partly due to experiences and longevity that’s super glued us for life. If I asked them to travel 5,000 miles to see me for a few days–they’d seriously consider it and try and vice a versa and I so treasure those people in my life.

Should I say I am from nowhere? Or everywhere? Well I haven’t traveled so extensively as to say I am from everywhere, so I guess that leaves ‘nowhere’. Nah…that makes me feel like I came out of a test tube. I guess I’ll just stick with Hawaii as that’s where I long to be, I miss Hawaii, I miss my family, I miss the smells, the climate…perhaps that’s why I attached to Thailand. Although, Thailand is way more hot and humid than I would’ve liked but it was also ‘familiar’ not to mention we just made some really awesome friends out there.

So my high school is planning another reunion…a 13 year reunion this October I want to say? Not sure…or maybe it’s a 15 year reunion being planned for 2014. I didn’t go to my 10 year reunion in 2007 as I was a poor graduate student that didn’t have the money to flit off to Hawaii, much as I may have wanted to. It’s interesting to see how lives drift apart and back together in some cases. Many of my high school friends and acquaintances did stints in the mainland sometimes for a decade or more and are now moving back to Hawaii. Whether you were born in Hawaii or just spent your formative years there…the islands always call you back.

In high school I used to say I’d never want to go back and settle in Hawaii…it’s expensive, it’s boring, its an island I can drive around in 8 hours (Maui)–this was my high school mentality…but then over the years I find myself yearning for the familiarity of it. While I have friends back there, I’d go back for my family and Hawaii in and of itself–having friends there is definitely a plus, having the chance to reconnect after so many years would be fun. Would I still consider Hawaii ‘home’ if my family moved from there?

Excellent question, I haven’t decided yet.

Just some general musings of a nomadic child.

When the mind breaks…

Devotioanl Blog:

“Looking for love in all the wrong places”, “You Can”, “There is a Plan”; 6/23/2012, 6/22/2012, 3/12/2012; 1 Peter 4:8, Luke 13:12, Jeremiah 29:11

You ever hear the joke that you should listen to country songs backwards? Why? Because then they become exceedingly happier…you get your house back, your dog back, your woman back, your tires un-slashed and your guitar un-smashed.

I’ve noticed a trend in many entries of this book. In many examples of people’s lives that she uses…when it rains it doesn’t just pour–it’s a fricken hurricane and it’s not ‘waves of life’ that hit people, it’s a damn tsunami! Continue reading “When the mind breaks…”

The ominous projector screen of ‘life’

Devotional Blog:

“Lights Flashing”, 6/21/2012, 1 Corinthians 4:5

Ok, back to the book after quite the hiatus.

When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives… ~1 Corinthians 4:5

Well now isn’t that a scary thought? How many secrets does one carry throughout life? How many thoughts do we think would we be ashamed of if someone were to actually crawl into our head and listen to. Thankfully people can’t crawl into each others heads and truly hear the thoughts that roll through them.

Funny thing is, growing up this verse made us wary of the ‘big’ secrets…infidelity, sex before marriage, stealing, physically hurting someone etc. Our pastors would often times use the image of a huge projector screen showing all our sins and evil thoughts to the world for all our family and friends to see. Oh the embarrassment! Oh the judgement! Oh the pain we would cause ourselves and other people with our hidden sins that haven’t been brought to light and forgiven. I used to live in fear as a kid, paranoia even that when I died God would put me on a stage and broadcast my entire ‘evil’ life of every little thing I’d ever done that wasn’t 100% ‘saintly’, down to beating the crap out of a stuffed animal because I was angry. Yes, as a child I occasionally beat the crap out of dolls and stuffed animals out of frustration. I ripped pages out of my journals and threw tantrums in my room out of sight and earshot of anyone. Much of my anger and frustration growing up I kept inside, in fact all of it I kept inside. And while these ‘tantrums’ and stuffed animal beatings seem harmless enough at first sight, my thoughts got darker as I grew up.

What about the little ‘secrets’ the thoughts no one hears about, the thoughts that will never be voiced but are nonetheless there… the dark thoughts. Continue reading “The ominous projector screen of ‘life’”

My definition of good must be broken…

Devotional Blog:

6/14/2012: “When good isn’t good enough” Romans 8:28

This isn’t out of the book I am going through which coincidentally arrived in the mail from Thailand in our first round of boxes–this is one I am just going to write.

If you’ve read my previous blogs in the devotion section or perhaps in my life section or such you’ll know how I was raised. In a faith that stresses undying, unwavering faith in God and that everything works toward his plan and purpose. That no matter how ‘rough’ life gets ‘it’s all good’ because God knows how it’ll all turn out and that’ll be what’s ‘good’. I was raised in the midst of prophets who communicated God’s promises to my family, the plans he had, the constant assurance that he hasn’t forgotten us that his plans will come to pass–that we will walk into the awesomeness he has in store for us. I was raised to pray. I was raised to believe. No matter what happens, how many years pass, how many people hurt in the meantime…it’ll all ‘come out in the wash’ persay.

I’m currently encountering an all out mental rebellion occurring due to the clash of what I feel logically should be done and faith.

My mother says when things get difficult and things don’t seem to come to pass its because of choice. Everyone has free choice and certain people choose to ‘bar your way’ in essence, toward achieving the plans God has for your life. It doesn’t mean you won’t achieve it, it means it’ll take longer. My question, if God knows all this, knows people will stand in the way, knows this will drive you mad with frustration, why does he put you on that particular path to your purpose? Why does he pick that path for you?  Why does he put you at the mercy of people who could give two sh*ts or less about God and his plan? Is it supposed to be character building? Faith building? Ok, so God wants us to ‘learn’ something…but what happens when a ‘lesson’ controlled by the choices of people who don’t care about God and his ‘plans’ but directly affecting your ‘promise’ seems to be destined to extend to the end of your days. Ok perhaps that’s a bit melodramatic, but when you are getting past 20 years and have seen no end leading you to the goal of the plan, or even worse, you ‘see’ endings that get taken away from you, I really want to look up at the sky and say WTF.

I was ready to jump ship after 7 years at my Ph.D. it seemed like it was just becoming ‘impossible’ to finish but I knew a ‘finish’ was there, I saw it, it was tangible and I knew exactly what I had to do to obtain that finish. What happens when you don’t know HOW to obtain the finish line? What happens when the ‘finish line’ turns into a moving target of which you cannot predict the direction? What happens when your best, your devotion, your walk, isn’t good enough–why after 20+ years you must still continue to walk through hell, taking it on faith that the promise is somewhere…out there…on the other side? The response I’ve gotten from friends and family in these situations is…well we’ve walked this far for this long we ‘have’ to keep going.

My logic: this situation must change, change it

My faith: keep walking or let them keep walking

My ‘power’ over the situation: i am but a ‘spectator’ in this

My duty: to just pray

My frustration: Magnified a 1000 fold.

My understanding: Apparently very little

My desire: for the situaiton(s) to change or the promise become realized.

There are the examples of Joseph and Job. Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers for decades, God gave Joseph dreams and visions and he ended up an advisor for Pharoh, rich and well situated. Job who lost absolutely everything; his family killed, his land and assets taken, his health stricken and he still never denied faith in God and God rewarded that and restored everything to him in the end. There are miraculous stories within the Bible of God coming into peoples lives and speaking to them directly or such other manifestation of his presence/power. But God doesn’t manifest himself, his power or his promises like he used to…such as in the old testmant or new testament…making ‘faith’ that much more important and easier to lose I suppose too. Honestly though, in this day and age I think if God threw a bolt of lightening down and spoke people would shrug or run screaming thinking we were being invaded by aliens. Such is the skepticism of our time.

Perhaps I have to just ‘come to peace’ with the fact I cannot or am not being allowed to actually change situations myself. Perhaps the first step is to understand that we are not ‘promised’ our purpose. We are promised God’s purpose and it’s our decision to accept or reject that. And apparently accepting that opens us up to all the ‘events’ that come with it whether its personal or mental injury, lessness, starvation, watching those we love suffer…

Therefore, God’s plan and purpose can come with a fantastic potential grab bag of human crap that is out of our control and his because of human choice.

Human choice. It frees us and enslaves us all at the same time.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28

 That’s a hard verse to swallow when those you love most suffer. And when life crashes down, and our own expectations of what’s “good” or “fair” even, fall apart, perhaps we think God has failed us. Perhaps we think he does not love us. Perhaps “all things” don’t work for the good, just some things…

I don’t doubt God…but I do have a lot of unanswerable questions.

I wish I had a summation that says “Never Fear! God is Here! HUZZAH and POOF, everything will work out and your dreams and promises WILL all come true, keep fighting the good fight you are almost there!” Why can’t I say that? Because it hasn’t happened yet, because I don’t know if ‘you’, ‘I’, or ‘they’ are almost there and I am personally not privy to God’s plans.

What I can say is that, of all the people in my life that do things by the purpose they believe God has given them, the people that walk through every fire imaginable in their lives, and they spit out the other end…I haven’t encountered one who regrets it. No matter how hard everything got…in the end, they don’t regret it and most are quite happy and successful at the end. So along with the virtual grab bag of human crap you inevitably have to deal with…apparently, in the end, it’ll all be worth it.

Doesn’t make it any easier to watch at present but I suppose its of some small consolence.