Packing for Permanent: Feet First

Hey world, 

For anyone who knows me, you probably know that I own a lot of shoes. Like, a lot. And that’s after donating over 50 pairs of heels, boots and flip flops over the course of the past couple of years. So, there’s nothing more depressing than realizing that my lovely high heel collection (which rarely sees the light of day) will continue to lose light, as well as a number of other shoes which really have no place making the one way trip to Tanzania.

As I start to pack mentally and literally for my move, I decided the best way to approach the situation is from the bottom up. So, this week, I’ve decided to tackle the shoe and sock question before moving on to the numerous other packing dilemmas I’ll face.

For shoes, it’s best to keep it as simple as possible. Flip flops are so easy to come by in Tanzania, I’ll probably only bring one pair to get me started.

 I’ve just ordered three pair of Toms, which are my favorite close-toed multi-purpose shoe. When I was living in NW Tanzania, I wore through 2 pairs over the course of ten months. I’m hoping with a tad less harsh conditions, three pairs will last me at least one year.


On the close-toed shoe train, I’ll also be bringing my sneakers and my trustworthy Converse from the 8th grade.

To round it out, a pair of rain boots (This girl’s going into the mud!) and my hiking boots (because….hiking), two pairs of wedge heels (I’ve got to be stylish sometimes!) and one pair of ballet flats for formal work occasions. 

Alright, so I just tallied those and that’s 11 pairs of shoes – is that acceptable or too many? I might be able to get away with just 9 pairs…we’ll see how it goes when the whole pile of to-go stuff is together.

And for the rest of my beautiful shoes -- at least half of them will be reaching the end of their time spent in my possession and moving on to new loving owners, and the rest will be stored for now.

As for socks...I think I have enough pairs already, which is great, because that means I don't need to buy anything else this week!

Have a great weekend, see you next week!

xoxo,
M




What Deciding to Move Permanently to Another Continent Means

Hey world,

Are you on cloud nine, because I am! Alright, that could be either the world's corniest pick up line, or it is actually something that I would say...luckily for you, I am in fact on cloud nine still! 

There's been a lot going on in my mind in the last week or so, and no shortage of happiness mixed with being frazzled. So, I'm trying my best to document it all via blog posts, and share what I can with you all so if when you make the jump and pursue your dreams, you can state for the record that I was in fact, completely transparent (and how much I helped inspire you, yadda yadda yadda). 

Therefore, I decided to write down ten things (some general and could be applied to anyone, and others that are specific to me) deciding to move to another continent in approximately two months (or less) means, and got the following list:

1.You all of a sudden have a lot of people to spend time with, and say goodbye to

2. You have a lot of food that you need to eat as much of as humanly possible, before it becomes a rare delicacy

3. You start avoiding food that you know you can get there, for soon it will become an everyday occurrence (sorry bananas and rice)

4. You start to make lists like:
A) figure out how to break your lease
B) figure out how to sell all of your furniture
C) figure out how to cancel your phone, internet, and television
D) figure out how to then unlock your iphone
E) figure out what books you need to read before you leave so you don't have to carry them with you

5. You have a bunch of clothes you need to buy (at least in my case, where I’ll be splitting time between the field – literally – and the office, in a conservatively-dressed nation, that also happens to be on the equator, but which also happens to be located at a high altitude)

6. You have a bunch of clothes and other personal belongings that need to be given away

7.     You start stressing about how much liquid you can bring onto an aircraft in the form of your favorite blue nail polish and jars of buffalo sauce

8.     You realize that while everyone is happy for you, no one is happy about it.

9.     You lose multiple hours a day to daydreaming about your new home


10. You begin planning all of the new places you’ll go and the new trips you’ll plan, and you won’t feel an inch of regret.

It's hard to imagine this was taken three years ago, before I had even been to Tanzania for the first time. But I knew then, as I know now, that I had found one of my forever-homes. 
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There you have it. 

This is what deciding to move permanently to another continent means. It means snuggling on your couch for one of the (soon to be last) times and thinking of bumpity bus rides to towns on a map you're not familiar with as it does searching through the Verizon.com website and wanting to pull your precious hairs out. 

But most of all, it means smiles. and happiness. and all-around content. 

xoxo,
M

The Big Move!

Hey world,

As I alluded to in a couple of earlier posts, I’ve been juggling a few different ‘moving parts’ in my life these past few weeks.

Because I was able to expedite my MA program and am now on-track to finish my coursework by the middle of the summer, I also started to keep one eye open for jobs that I was qualified for / would find interesting / would bring me back to East Africa.

In a not-so-secret secret fashion, I made it through multiple rounds with a particular organization, and a couple of weeks ago found myself slinking off the day before my birthday to the airport, where I proceeded to fly to Tanzania, attend a four day interview, toast myself into a burnt crisp poolside of the Indian Ocean, and slink back to the US by telling people that I was #offthegrid.

It was a bit daunting to try and rearrange my schedule, to leave the US before Mother’s Day and to miss my birthday, and not publicize my trip without worrying people, but I was so thrilled for the opportunity to make it this far in the interview process with this particular NGO, to spend my 3rd birthday in East Africa (out of the last 4 years, I’ve now turned a new age in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania respectively!), and to have an all-expenses paid chance to breathe in the sweet air of the land that I love.



But then I came home...and then I waited. And hummed nervously. And worked slowly but surely on my last final for the spring semester. And I stress-cooked. And I swiffered. And I woke up every morning hourly starting at 6AM to check my email.

But on Friday, at 11:24am, the email came.

I GOT THE JOB!

...AND THEN I IMMEDIATELY ACCEPTED THE JOB!

There is no doubt in my mind that it is the right decision – I cannot imagine spending the time or talent of my mid-twenties anywhere else.

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As I write this, my breathing is calm, my heart is beating softly, and my mind is at ease.

As I write this, I am already packing my mental bags for my one-way move to Tanzania with a smile on my face. 

As I write this, I feel confident that I am marching confidently in the direction of my dreams.

Xoxo,
M


What's Out Your Window?

Hey World,

I've spent a lot of time the last few weeks thinking about chasing your dreams and achieving your goals. Of course, that's the premise of this entire blog...but the lifelong project is how to continue to pursue these things, changing as they change, and constantly pursuing new ways in which to both see the world (literally), and how to see the world.

When I was a kid, my father always told me to get the airplane off the ground, because once the plane is in the air, it's much easier not only to cruise, but to continue gaining altitude. This was the metaphor he used for success back then, and continues to be the metaphor he uses as I talk about achieving goals now. 

As I was flying on a small plane a few days ago while I was #offthegrid (more to come on that later), I spent most of the time soaking in the beautiful views of XXXXXXX from the air. I couldn't help but feel satisfied, and so at peace, that at that very moment in time, space, and my life, I was able to look out the window and see this:



and this:


Of course, being the sassy person that I am, my first post on Facebook after a week's hiatus was the first picture with the following:

Being #offthegrid has never looked so beautiful. 
What's out your window?

Regardless of whether or not we are #offthegrid (although I highly encourage these moments once in awhile to recharge our minds and our hearts), I think a great question to ask ourselves is "What's out my window?"

If you don't like what is out your window...you're probably spending your time/energy in the wrong place. If you are looking out your window and are just stupefied with beauty -- no matter if you define that as a wooded forest or a cement jungle or the swing you got for your birthday one year or a smelly back alley or a view of the ocean -- then you are probably doing something right. 

Like some of the questions I mentioned in earlier posts that we should be asking ourselves consistently, I would like to add this one to the mix.

Why?

Because what's out our window matters.

It matters if we can see trees or other people, if we are happy about being somewhere we want to be, somewhere we should/n't be, or somewhere we have to be. 

It matters that before we lay our heads on our pillows, we think back to all of the scenes outside our windows during the last 12-20 hours and thought, "yes, I was where I wanted to be/where I was supposed to be, and I saw the things I wanted to see and did the things I wanted to accomplish, and now I am here, and I remain content".

As I write this now, I am in a windowless room, where I have been sitting for close to 7 hours. The view, as you can imagine, in nothing spectacular. However, I am making leaps and bounds on a paper that is due in three days, and I am happy that I chose to do my work in this (void) environment rather than somewhere more refreshing, because I know ultimately this will allow me to spend more time with better things out my window in just a few days.

So this is not to say that every moment of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month should be spent near a window with a beautiful backdrop of our planet.

It's just another way to keep ourselves in check - to make sure that we are doing what we want to do, and that our windows provide us a view of the world we want to see.

xoxo,
M




Throw Punches at Ocean Waves

 Hey World,

I’ve come to realize that people in the decade of their twenties fall into one of two camps: people who have everything in their life together, and people who are a disheveled hot mess who have no idea what they’re doing.

It’s alright, I too fall into the latter category. And unfortunately, this may not only be true about 20-29 year olds…but let’s not get into that right now.

I’m writing this post for the young 20ers out there; the people like me who are being bombarded by this crazy thing called ‘life’ and don’t know what to do.

Well, I’ve come to realize that ‘life’ is a lot like a wave. The motion of the ocean never stops moving (thank you, moon), and the way we interact with life is a lot like the way we interact with a wave.







So, I’m going to outline a number of possibilities on how you might react to a wave coming at you (assuming you’re standing in thigh-high water) when moments before you were content simply standing where you were.


1.    Standing looking at the shoreline; unaware of the incoming water monstrosity behind you

Well, if this is you, the first thing I am going to say is PAY ATTENTION AND TURN AROUND! How are you supposed to succeed in achieving your goals and dreams if you aren’t even looking the right direction to see what’s going on around you? Jeez Louise. Avoiding getting hit in the back with a wall of H20 and being tackled face-first into salt water should immediately become your #1 priority.

2.    Feet planted firmly, looking directly at the wave, attempting to avoid being knocked over

If this is you, I totally admire what you’re trying to do. It’s like that kid from the famous Youtube viral video that kept saying “Come at me bro!” You know things might get rough and that you might get knocked to your knees, but you aren’t afraid to look your adversary right in the (hypothetical, unless there’s a fish in the wave) eyeballs and show them you’re not afraid. If you bend your knees and brace yourself; you just might come out the winner!

3.    Ambivalently perpendicular to the wave; neither looking at the shoreline nor the wave, but pensively contemplating how far into oblivion the wave continues, unaware it’s fast approaching

Alright, I know the world is a beautiful place, but with a giant wave is coming your direction, now is not the time to be contemplating the beautiful world we live in. You’re getting too distracted with big-picture questions to engage in the moment. I’m not saying don’t engage with philosophical questions, but NOW IS NOT THE TIME. Save it for the calm between the crashing waves. Save it for when you’re further out in the ocean. Save it for when your feet are planted firmly on solid ground.

4.    Diving into the wave when it comes…disrupting the wave’s power with the forward motion of your own.

This is a top option. You know the challenge is arriving; the hand your opponent is about to put on the table, and you’re willing to lay your flush down – confident the game may be yours. There is nothing better than undermining the confidence of your attacker – life should be wary of wave-challengers like you. You know the risks…you know the power you’re up against. But you also know your own strength, and you’re not afraid to go to battle. All the power to you, I hope you emerge victorious!

5.    With your back to the wave, preparing to bodysurf your way back to the beach

You’ve made a game time decision. You’re not ready to get washed out, and you think you’re clever enough to harness the power of the wave to ride into shore. Clearly, this was a last minute decision, because you didn’t even bring your boogie board, but that’s alright. You know you can ride it out (literally), and being on shore isn’t so bad anyway, right? Maybe. But in order to puff out your peacock feathers a little, you also are willing to relinquish your current ocean presence. I thought you loved the ocean...why are you going to shore all of a sudden? If I were you, I’d reconsider.

6.    Deliberately perpendicular to the wave; hoping it will slice by you and you will remain unscathed.

You might as well crouch in a ball and tie a white flag to your swimcap. You have a 50/50 shot of being tackled head-first into the shore or getting swept off your feet but floating back into position after the wave passes. If you get lucky and you remain standing, it is only because the first wave knew that a larger, stronger, angrier one is coming to follow. Avoidance may work in the short-term, but it’s not going to work forever.

7.    Facing the wave, body crunched, ready to try to jump

Are you Superman? Do you think you really have the ability to avoid the wave completely? Let’s not be cray-cray. Do not choose to deliberately ignore reality. Unless you are an Olympic high jumper, this should not be your game plan. You need to get back to the drawing board…fast.

8.     Looking directly at the wave, uncertain about whether or not you are stronger

There’s nothing like contemplating your strength moments before a fight. Your feet may or may not be planted in the sand. Your knees may or may not be placed. You don’t even know what’s going to happen yourself. Are you going to turn at the last moment? Are you going to jump, or crouch, or dive, or spin around and run? It’s anyone’s guess…the answer will be left up to a split-second whirlwind of strength, water and indecision. You may find strength deep inside you for battle, or you might succumb to sand in your swimsuit bottoms as you get tossed like a ragdoll under the wave’s crashing froth. Good luck, my dear.

9.    With your back to the wave, with a boogie board or surfboard in hand; prepared to utilize its power to get you to shore with little effort.

Clearly, you knew this moment was coming, because you came prepared. If anything, you’ve got a brain in your head and a board in your hands, and while you might have been carrying that darn thing around for days, you’re finally ready to wield your forward-thinking secret weapon! For you, coming to shore was inevitable. You knew the ocean would ultimately win, but you’re not trying to be shamed when you return to land. You’ve picked out something tye-dye, and you’re going to smile with the water out of your face…until you get some sand in mouth. Oh well. It was a fun ride.

10. Feet planted firmly, looking directly at the wave, fists up and ready to punch the incoming water.

This is the person I hope we all become. You are not only challenging the adversary; you are the adversary’s adversary. You are a strong, powerful, confident individual who is ready to throw the first punch. You are not going to let the wave make the first move. You are proactive, not reactive. You know what your position is, and even if you are drowned by water, you will go under knowing you gave it every ounce of your being. You may tumble underwater with no regrets, you may be announced the victor, and with your feet planted, you are already preparing yourself for the next challenger. You will not accept defeat. You love your place in the ocean, and you will stop at nothing to keep moving forward. I pity the wave that stands in your way!


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Did any of these people resonate with you? Which person have you been, who are you now, and which person would you want to be?

The way you react to waves parallel the ways in which we might face that dreaded thing called ‘life’. Do you succumb, or do you face the challenge? Are you ready to shrug off your dreams and head to shore, or are you going to put up your dukes and prepare for a fight?

My favorite band, Envy on the Coast, uses the phrase in their song “The Gift of Paralysis”, and it is a line that I have loved since I was in high school. After a man challenges the ocean,

“The ocean prays for his demise,
But I swear to you, I watched his heart pump blood into those veins,
Throwing punches at ocean waves, throwing punches at ocean waves…”

In the face of Goliath, I hope we become David. I hope we become fearless. I hope we keep our feet planted, and our heart pumping. I hope we are ready to fight for what we want, no matter the odds.

I hope we all become the person who throws punches at ocean waves.

xoxo,

M