Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year!

Christmas has come and go.
New Year's is just upon us - like, 2 days away.

It seems that time passes really quickly and with one blink of my eye, I'm thrown a few weeks ahead in time with nothing but a small kick of dust behind me to remind me that yesterday, I was there.

It seems almost unreal to me that 2013 is days away. 2013 is the year that I get to have a wedding with my family and friends. 2013 is the year that I, crossing my fingers, get a job that helps me shape my career into one that I really love. 2013 is the year that a lot of things start, a lot of things end, and a lot of surprise things will more than likely crop up out of nowhere. I know that many people see New Year's as that day that everything becomes 'new.' They make resolutions and promise to be better people, in some sort of way.

I think it's important to really reflect on all of the goals that I've accomplished this year, but remember that there are definitely some shortcomings that I need to make up for in this upcoming year. I think my most important realization in life, up to this point, is that my happiness sincerely comes from within. Do I really like what I'm doing? If I do, then it is great. Do I really enjoy my life as it is? Is there something that I think I should change (not what others may view as weird or wrong or bad)? If I think I should change something, what should I do to fix it? (Not relying on others to change things in my life for me.)

As people, we grow as the years pass by and every day shapes us into the person that we are continually becoming. Maybe I physically stopped growing when I was 16 but that doesn't mean that I have mentally, emotionally and spiritually stopped growing. I think I've grown more in leaps and bounds since I stopped at 5 ft, 6 inches.

I really want to make my resolutions this year something that creates something inside of me that I haven't been able to touch yet. What can I do to make myself a better person, for myself and for everyone else? What steps can I make that will help me grow? Help me change? Maybe I won't accomplish the things in a year, or even two years. But what can I do right now, today, in this exact moment, that will help me to accomplish small goals that lead to bigger goals?

That's what I'm thinking about when I sit down to write my resolutions.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Quitting - For the Second Time

A few years ago, I decided that I would quit drinking sodas just because I wanted to see if I was able to do it. At the time, I was an avid soda drinker - meaning I would drink at least 3 cans a day. I decided that I would quit cold turkey and see if I had enough willpower to get over my soda addiction. I was successful in my endeavor with no slip ups at all. It helped me lose some weight, too.

Fast forward about one year and I was in Honduras,with some sort of weird sickness that seemed to literally tearing the insides of my stomach into a thousand pieces. I was heavily nauseous and could barely sustain sitting up in bed, and I didn't even want to think about walking. I chalked this up to my body getting used to totally different types of bacteria, eating types of foods, and just a new environment in a different country. Javier persuaded me to take some alka-seltzer, which is, by far, the worst tasting medication in this entire world, hands down. After taking some, I was feeling a little bit better but I still wasn't completely healed, so he attempted to persuade me to take some more. I absolutely 100% refused, deciding that it was better to writhe in pain than take that horrid salty-water medication that made me want to gag.

But then he told me that if I took the alka-seltzer with some Coke, I wouldn't be able to even taste the medicine. After over one entire year of not touching any soda, I drank one glass with alka-seltzer and I got hooked again. Down in Honduras, the Coke is so much sweeter than the Coke we have in the USA. It is probably because they use pure sugar cane, but it's really, really sweet and delicious. I started drinking Coke on a regular basis and it again become part of my lifestyle. Everyone in Honduras drinks Coke. Everyone. Seriously, everyone. I think it's the country's national beverage.

After coming back to the USA, I decided that I was going to stop drinking soda because I wanted to lose weight and I knew that drinking less or no soda would help me in that goal. So on October 29, 2012, I stopped drinking soda again - cold turkey. There were times when I really craved it, but I did not give in. Only once Javier was drinking some Coke for dinner and took a tiny sip - but told him that it was just too sweet for me.

It has been helpful to quit drinking soda. There are times when I really want to drink some, but I tell myself no, that I've gone this long without it and instead I drink a Vitamin Water (0 calorie ones), water, or natural juices. It's also nice that it has helped me lose some weight. I'm down 25 pounds (going to the gym regularly as well), and although I have to lose a lot more, I know that by changing some of my dietary habits, it will be easier.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wine & Laughing

I am slowly, but surely, completing some items on my 1001 list.

This past weekend was my sister's bachelorette party. My youngest sister and I had planned it via Skype because I was overseas at the time, and I was glad to see it all come to fruition. We planned a party that we thought my sister would enjoy with things that she was interested in. It just so happened that some of the things we planned were also on my 1001 list.

Wine Tasting
The first thing we did was go wine tasting at a winery in Indianapolis. It was really cool, only $5 for 7 different wines and a short tour. Let's be honest, we only really cared about the wine tasting. At the beginning, the guy gave us this sheet of paper with seven different "barrels" listed with two options for each barrel. He asked us to circle one for each barrel, indicating which of the two we wanted to try. Some of the wines were really good, and I even bought a bottle there. I reaffirmed that I like sweet wines and not dry ones, preferring white or blush wines over red wines. We also tried warm mulled wine which was... different. One of my sister's friends liked it so much that I just gave her the rest of mine. Thanks, but no thanks. The only thing that I wished was that the guy would have slowed down in explaining the things about the wine and giving us more time to taste each one before moving to the next. He went REALLY fast and we were practically drinking the wine like shots.... but it was only $5 so I guess I can't complain that much.

Live Comedy Club
This is the second thing on my 1001 that I accomplished this night. It was also something that we planned for the party, so after we all ate dinner at one of my sister's favorite restaurants, a limo picked us up and took us to the comedy club. We got seated at the front of the room (really cool, considering the room was really packed and we got there about 15 minutes before it started). There were three comedians - the host, a guest, and then the headliner. The guest comedian was really funny, I think her name was Amber Preston. I was dying laughing at all of her jokes. The headliner was Gary Gulman. He was also super funny, at one point tears were rolling down my cheeks from laughing so hard. I really enjoyed the experience there and I would go back to a comedy club another time, for sure.

Javier and I are still adjusting to life here in the USA. We went today to get his Social Security card but he wasn't in the system yet so now it can take up to thirty days for immigration to verify his legal status here. I really hate how circular government systems are here. I tried to change my address at the bank today but they would not let me change it without a current ID, but then the BMV requires an updated address from the bank... uhhh? Luckily I read that they will allow someone that I'm living with to sign for me at the BMV, so on Wednesday my father will take me. Such a pain in my butt, honestly. Really frustrating.
Planning the wedding is still going, too. Waiting on our save the dates to come in the mail and waiting for the lady to call us back about our ceremony site. I really hate that people take forever on things. Ugh!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Swimming the Caribbean Sea with Your Life in Suitcases

It's not very often that someone moves their entire life from one country to another and back again, all under two years. After meeting Javier and knowing that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together, I undertook a rather risky feat of moving my life to Honduras by finding a job there, getting an apartment, and basically moving things from the US in two flights.

After we decided that we wanted to live our future married life in the USA, we started to research how to go about achieving that goal. I knew that any visa that he applied for would take a long time, so we decided that we were going to file for a visa when I went home in Christmas. I spent numerous hours pouring over information on the internet concerning the logistics of US visas, and we decided that our best move was to file for a fiance visa. It was a long and arduous process, one that I sincerely thought would never come to an end (in actuality, the visa is just the beginning - trust me, we have a ton of more paperwork to do).

I had made my life with Javier in Honduras. We had our apartment, our routines, our jobs. The problem was that my family was super far away and I missed them terribly. We had many discussions about sacrifices and hoping that our families would understand. We talked many nights about the realities of our future life - that one of us would have to sacrifice the time with one of our families in order to gain the time with the other person's. Before we even filed for the visa, we had long and lengthy discussions about what this move would mean for both of us - what it would mean for our families - and where we wanted our future kids to grow up.

It's hard, you know, to take in account that half of your family won't be around for important life events - simply because they live in another country. I made an inner promise that we would always stay in contact with Javier's family, and hopefully we could bring his mother over to the US from time to time to visit (or in the future, help us when the kids are born). I also made a promise that we would go visit them in Honduras.

I know that deep down it was hard for Javier to leave his country - the only place that he has ever known. It was deeply hard for me as well - I had made friends, I had many lovely students, I was used to the life there and how things ran, I was used to being around Javier's family. But receiving that visa was so worth all of the pain, stress, and worries. I knew that the visa would help us live the life that we had dreamed of in a place where we were both a little safer.

It has been a few weeks since we landed in the US, and so far things have been great. We have been planning our wedding, looking for jobs, spending a lot of time together, going to different events and out to eat. Javier has met all of my family, my grandparents, and has had the opportunity to do many things that we couldn't have done in Honduras. The weather is cold, but that will pass.

I think, overall, moving is hard. But I think it is harder when you move your entire life (the second move was two people's things - imagine all of the shit that I left behind!) overseas in suitcases, and the airline breaks two of your suitcases (true story). We have many plans for the future, so we will see what life brings us.

[Moving to the USA was one of my goals of my 1001 list, which you can view here.]

Friday, August 17, 2012

New Year, New Students

It's the end of week one!

The week one of school, that is. Classes began on Tuesday and it was probably one of the best weeks of my teacher life. I have an excellent homeroom, we started new wonderful routines that everyone seems to understand and follow, my new 5th graders are lovely and sweet, and I am just absolutely in love with how things have been going.

I have some work this weekend, but I don't feel overwhelmed by it. Sometimes it makes me feel like if I'm making some sort of small difference in at least one of my students' lives, I'm doing my job.

I remember when I was younger, maybe around 8 or 9, possibly 10, and my parents had gotten us some old desks from my elementary school when the school had bought new ones. They put them in our basement, hung up two chalkboards, and complete with old textbooks (I guess the school got new ones of those, as well), I would play School. I would write with different colored chalk on the boards, "call" on my "students," answer problems, read out loud, and do all of those teacher-y type things that I thought were awesome. I remember many days thinking that I wanted to be a teacher, but as I grew older, those thoughts flew out of window and got replaced with "horse trainer," "veterinarian," and "journalist." Some time during my studies for my master's degree, I realized that my initial thoughts of what my career was going to be was coming back into my brain.

After taking a class for teaching ESL, I fell in love with the idea that I could teach people English - something that I am really good at - and help them with something that they wanted to do - and maybe, in the grand scheme of things, affect and/or change some lives. My original idea was to head off to the Peace Corps to teach English in some country that no one had ever heard of, but after a turn of events (meeting my fiance), Honduras seemed to be my calling. First, I thought that my expertise would be with adult learners (which I thoroughly enjoyed working with in the USA) but after switching jobs and signing a contract with an elementary school, I knew RIGHT THEN that my true career was teaching English in the primary grades. It sometimes saddens me that in order to teach primary in the US, I would have to go back to school (again!) to get my teaching license, and thinking that it won't be a viable option for over one year, I will have to learn that I can make the same sort of waves with older students that I can with my sweet 5th and 6th graders.

Teaching overseas has taught me many lessons, mostly about myself. When I was younger, I was really shy and not even close to self-confident. But when you teach, and especially when you teach kids, you MUST be confident and project self-worth. Many of my students look to me for personal advice, many of them come to me crying about a problem or a situation, and many times I am the only one who can give them that one hug that will make the pain disappear for a moment. I never have felt nervous teaching, I have never felt unsure about myself. I have always felt that I CAN and WILL be the teacher that they learn valuable and useful lessons from - inside and outside of the classroom - and that for years from now, when they are much older and I'm already back in the US with kids hanging off my hips, some of my students will still remember me as their sixth grade homeroom teacher or their 5th/6th grade English teacher or the teacher who helped them solve a problem/issue or cheered them on during a sports game.

And years from now, when I'm back in the US with kids hanging off my hips, I'll look back at this almost 2 years in Honduras, and remember all of the good times I spent with my fiance, but also all of the times that I spent at school fielding questions, comments, concerns, and laughing my butt off at something hilarious that my student came up with on the spot.

Friday, August 10, 2012

In the HN

These past two weeks have been quite a whirlwind for me. First, we went back to work on July 29 and I've been here at school almost every day since then. We've had tons of meetings (mostly in Spanish, often I blank out because I get tired of trying to translate into English, but the other day I listened as much as I could and I probably understand 75% of what they were saying without needing to translate inside my head), I've decorated my classroom to the brim with stars, I've planned my lessons for next week, finished my syllabus for the first bimester, and done many other teacher-y types of things.

The best news from the past two weeks is that Javi has received his appointment date for his visa! *cue high-voice singing*

I was at work one day and decided to check my email on the off chance that we would get news of the appointment. I checked it, and I only had junk. At the same time, two more emails came through and one was the appointment email! I felt so happy in that moment and I called Javi right away to tell him. In two months, exactly, we will be sitting at the embassy waiting for his appointment and getting his visa!

The news of the visa is very bittersweet. It has been a very long road to this point, considering we started putting together everything about a year ago and sent off the petition in January. Since then it has been mostly constant waiting. I'm eager to be back in the US because there are many things that I miss from there, and I know that raising our kid in the US will be a better environment for them, but I often wonder about what things I will miss about living here.

So, in no particular order, the Honduran things that I will most likely miss:
1. the weather - it's nearly always hot, and I really love hot weather (most of the time) that I will miss it especially when winter begins back in the US;
2. the bread - Hondurans make really yummy bread and you can buy a lot for cheap;
3. my co-workers - I have two really great co-workers at my job and after spending so much time with them, it will be hard to not work with them anymore;
4. spending the afternoon at the mall - here people go to the mall just because, probably because the mall has everything you need to spend the afternoon: shops, food, and movies;
5. Javi's family - they took me in when I was first here and treat me like their own daughter, so it will be especially hard to say goodbye to them;
6. fruit sellers/street vendors/meat vendors - people here sell fruit, meat, other various items in the street and I don't know why but I really enjoy that;
7. being close to the beach - it's only one hour away and it's on the SEA, not the lake;
8. the juices - I don't know why but Hondurans make really good natural juices... mmmm.

Now, things I will not miss:
1. ants - they are everywhere!;
2. dogs barking at everything at any time - that's self-explanatory;
3. hand washing my clothes;
4. waiting for my clothes to dry in the sun, and if there is no sun, having to bring them inside and blow them with a fan;
5. a lot of dirt/dust - makes my house dirty;
6. the weather - it's really hot haha!!

I love living overseas, and I especially living overseas with Javi, and maybe one day we will be able to do that again.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Setting New Goals

A few weeks ago, I wrote a list called the "101 in 1001." It took me about one week to complete, and a lot of thinking. The reason why I wrote it is because sometimes I feel like my life can get a little mundane and routine. I wanted to give myself a test to complete all of the goals on the list - as little or as big as they seem to me at this moment. Some of the goals that I wrote are going to be really hard for me to achieve, while some will be a piece of cake. Some of them don't even rely on my direct involvement but it's part of my life that I want to see happen before 3 years from now.

I added a new page to this blog that gives you the entire list, and will gladly blog about completing every goal.

It's hard for sometimes to see all the good things that I have in my life, especially when I'm living somewhere that I have hardly any independence. Most days it is increasingly hard to do things without the help from someone, but these past days I've tried to do things myself as much as I can - even to the point where I can get a drink or lunch at work by myself, instead of relying on my co-workers to translate for me. I'm starting to feel much more comfortable in my Spanish skills, but I'm far from being fluent and I'm far from actually holding a normal conversation. But I know that deep down, I'm trying and that is what matters to me the most.

There are some things that I wish could happen RIGHT NOW, but those are things that are completely out of my control so I'm learning to just let go. I tend to be a bit "controlling" but I'm trying to learn to just relax, knowing that everything will happen as it should and when it is supposed to. So I'm feeling good these days, and trying to focus on the positive things instead of dwelling on things that I cannot change.

I still miss my family and friends in the US, but leaving here means leaving my family and friends here. Such a conundrum.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Social Work & Soccer

At the end of the school year, there are 1001 activities that the students and teachers need to complete. Today, we took our 6th graders to complete their mandatory Social Work. The students each provided a new desk/chair combination to another school in the city. We traveled to that school today to deliver the chairs, share time with the other students, pass out cake, candies and sodas, and play some soccer with them. The other school was a completely Spanish school, unlike the English school that I teach at, but after so long in this country, I'm used to being around Spanish. We started the morning with the National Anthem, the Pledge, and some words by the school's principal and by my co-worker. Then our students went classroom to classroom, passing out slices of cake, soda and bags of candy.

It was a nice trip and many of the students who were really helping surprised me. We expected the students to help serving the cake and other things. Many of them stepped up to the plate to do just that, some of them going over and above what needed to be done. To be honest, I really saw true characters in those students.

This brings me to the point that I really want to continue to do volunteer work when Javier and I return back to the USA. When I was younger, I did some volunteer work at an animal shelter, but I think that when we return, it would be a nice way to give back to whatever community we are living in. We can find an organization that we are interested in and give some time weekly to help others -- people, animals, nature, whatever it is that we fancy. I like that. It would also be a way for Javier to give back to the community where he living and feel more involved.

After we returned to school, we had some classes (finally my 5th graders finished their research reports, and we are going to watch a video tomorrow that I made especially for them), and for the last half of the afternoon, I took my 5th graders out to play soccer instead of sit in the stifling classroom doing nothing.

You know that my students love to play soccer. It's fairly common in this country and many kids play soccer with just about anything that they can get their hands on, including caps of bottles. Sincerely, I never thought kids could be so obsessed with the game of soccer, but here in Latino countries, that is how it is. What strikes me as funny is that 40 kids can be playing on ONE field with ONE ball, and it makes no difference to them.

I'll miss most of my kids when I leave. :[

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Been a long, but very long, time...

Time has flown. Literally. The last time I wrote was the beginning of the school year and in less than two weeks, it is the end of the school year.

Writing has been the last thing on my mind, considering that my job is pretty much demanding and when I arrive home, I either: a) continue working/grading, b) take a nap, c) watch tv with Javier and try to relax, or d) make dinner. Thankfully the end of the school year has created a lot of free time for me when I arrive home, but next week I will certainly be grading until my eyes fall from my head because of final exams.

I've been very, very happy with my job this year and I've enjoyed most of the moments there. There are many of my (150) students who I love and cherish deeply, who have impacted my life in numerous, wonderful ways and who I will miss desperately when we return to the USA. I have met people who I would consider my new lifelong friends, who I have spent good and bad moments with, who have shared in my moments of joy (my engagement, my birthday, discussing wedding planning) and in my moments of sadness (Javier's denial of a visitor visa, feelings of desperation about being far from home). Those are the people that I wish, pray and hope that I never lose touch with. Thank goodness for things like Facebook and email, otherwise I'd fear that I'd never see their lovely faces again.

The wait for Javier's fiance visa has been pretty long, and the US immigration hasn't even approved our petition yet. I'm hoping that he will have his visa in August but we don't know yet. I'm crossing my fingers.

I'm ready go back to the USA, but I know 100% sure that I will miss, dearly, the people that I have met here and the people who I'm close with here. Friends are friends regardless of places, cultures, countries, etc. And I want it to remain like that.