I read this quote yesterday and couldn't think of a better way to start this much contemplated post.
This time last year I was planning my last month of teaching as well as considering that chances were high that it would be my last month of teaching for the foreseeable future or longer. I was quite open in proclaiming an 80% chance that I would not be returning to teaching. But, somehow, that 20% window of returning made packing up my classroom and saying goodbye to Eagle Valley High School much easier.
I'm not a bettin' woman but I should have gone to Vegas with those odds.
My plans for the next year began to take shape a few weeks after landing in Peru. The landmark events took place, more or less, like this...
I was beginning to realize how much I was enjoying my lifestyle...traveling and the culture created by fellow travelers, living simply (with just a backpack), free from stuff and embracing the unknown. I began to think about how many have encouraged me in this year by saying "Do it while you can." I have done it. And I began to consider that I still could. More and more I was considering extending my travels but I decided that the litmus test for further consideration would be to check in with Elise and Sean, the AWESOME couple renting my condo. (They are actually the subject of my very first blog post I wrote at the end of May last year. If you haven't read about that story, you shoiuld check it out.) I had decided that if they didn't have any interest in extended their lease for another year, I had no interest in attempting to find renters that could live up to the high bar they had set. (I'm pretty sure their only question all year was where to dispose of the Christmas tree.) So, sometime in February, I sent them an email to inquire about their plans for the future and if they might have any potential interest in staying longer, as in maybe a year longer. I was shocked when Elise emailed me back an hour later to say that they had already talked about that possibility. I maybe gulped a little bit too as in a "this just got real" kind of gulp. Over the next couple weeks, emails went back and forth on some clarifying details and on March 31st, they gave me a positive response, that they would love to stay for another year, with one caveat being that they have to come visit wherever I end up. ;)
And so now I began to consider what would come next. I was also very aware that the bank account indicates that the work-free sabbatical travel year will soon be over, or maybe should have been over a month ago. This would also mean that I would re-inhabit my childhood bedroom for much of the coming summer while I regroup and try to replenish the funds some. (Thanks, padres, for letting me come home!)
So, for now, this is what I envision the near future looking like:
May 13: Arrive back to Peoria, Illinois and begin the festivities for my little brother's wedding!!
May 24: Luke and Rachel get hitched!
June 6-8: Head to Franklin, Tennessee for my cousin Olivia and Brian's wedding!
June 16-ish: Make my way to the mountains! Spend a month or so catching up with friends and enjoying summer in Colorado! (And thus begins my request for couches to sleep on. After this year, I'm really not picky. Normally I would offer to take you our for dinner but any gracious hosts might have to settle for my cooking instead. Pick your menu, I'll make it! Any takers?)
July 14-ish: Head back to Peoria for the remainder of the summer and/or until I have the funds to set out on the journey again. (And now a shameless plug to offer my services for monetary gain. Right now I'm in a data-entry frame of mind. Have a pile of CD's or photos you've been meaning to digitize but now realize you will never actually get around to it? I'm the girl for the job! Or need your kitchen re-organized? I can send references from multiple friends and family about successful home organization sessions. But, as my mom can attest after a week long entire home organziation fest, it's not for the faint of heart. And after living a year without much stuff, I can promise you I'll happily encourage you to throw away or donate a lot of your own stuff! Or painting. I like to paint! Or anything you might be willing to pay an educated, organized, self-proclaimed tech-dork, to do that you are not willing to so yourself. Anyone in the Peoria area, hit me up! firstname.lastname@example.org)
August/September-ish: The Journey continues back in South America. I'm thinking Argentina and Chile. One thing has been consistent this year and that is beginning to explore the world of hospitality as a new career. And so my plan is to find an inn, B&B or hostel in various areas of interest and work in exchange for a place to live, or cash if possible. I'm thinking I'll spend a month or two (max) in a town before moving on to the next. I've discovered that two months seems to be the maximum amount of time to spend in a place without collecting more stuff. And that will give me an opportunity to see how things are done at different inns as well.
Or maybe I'll go to South East Asia and do the same thing.
As you can see, I'm open to whatever opportunities present themselves. I look forward to seeing how The Lord will direct me. (And a final request for any contacts you may have in aforementioned locations. Gracias!)
But in the meantime, plans for "Invite the World to Dinner" are on hold. So for the 8 of you who made your reservations, can we postpone until July of 2015? Thanks for understanding!!
In other news...
Utila, Honduras was awesome! I'm not sure I've ever experienced so many new activities in one week: scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming with a whale shark, stand-up paddle boarding, and sailing on a sea kayak. Unfortunately I don't have many pics to document as none of these activities are very iPhone friendly. My friends, Claire and Tim have had Casa Colorado for 3 years and I've heard the stories of Skid Row and the fun people of Utila. But I finally got to experience it for myself. They were right when they say Utila is an island like no other! I loved my time catching up with Claire and Tim and living the island lifestyle. They were amazing hosts, Claire always putting to use her southern hospitality and Tim always up for whatever we suggested. When I planned this trip, I knew I wanted to be with friends for my birthday, and Claire knows how to do it up right! Thanks, Lipmans, for loving me, taking care of me and for sharing your little slice of island paradise. I look forward to returning again some day!
And I'll end this post with thankfulness of the beginning of whatever is next. As I was telling my mom today, I've never been ship wrecked, imprisoned or beaten like Paul, but one thing this year has taught me has been to learn to be content whatever the circumstances. I have a ways to go, but I'm embracing the experience for whatever it is... like sitting in the San Pedro Sula airport for 8 hours and then sleeping in a corner of the cantina of the Guatemala City airport tonight. No pasa nada. I really don't mind. I'm not particularly excited about this night of sleep, but I can deal. But most importantly, I'm grateful to the one who paid my debt on Calvary so that I might live a life of contentment knowing that I am loved with an everlasting love, a love that I hope to share with others. I know I could do better, but this is my aim.