- Soul Surfer – the images are so far from what I’m living now, but they convey the lifestyle I want to live – minimalist, simple, beautiful, and pulsing with life.
- Danielle LaPorte - I love this woman and everything she writes. I get her daily truthbombs and love the pop of wisdom they provide. I’m also a huge fan of what she preaches in terms of life design. She asks “How do you want to feel?” instead of “What do you want to do?”
- Condor Trekkers & Quetzal Trekkers – In my last month living in Bolivia, I did a two-day trek outside of Sucre with Condor Trekkers, and their model and what they do has stuck with me. I dream of adapting this concept to what I do for Una Vida.
- SOIL - I’m exploring ways to innovate the way we build latrines for Una Vida, and have reached out to this organization based in Port au Prince and love learning about what they do.
Last night rain fell like its never fallen before. Huge drops pounded on the tin roof, slipping through the cracks, soaking half of my bed – thankfully the half I was not on. This morning, creatures of all sorts are finding places to hide inside, and as I write this my computer seems to have collected a small family of ants.
I woke this morning to voices in English – a collection of scientists here to study what the hell is going on with the lake and its constant rising – and mostly to escape the chaos occurring outside my door, I put on my Haitian fiestas (shoes pictured below), and went on a morning run to Bartolome.
The road was slick and wet, the bean and banana fields bloated with water, the canal almost brimming over. Life continued on despite the persistent wetness, and motorcycles zipped past me, calling out, “Rubia!”, “Americana!”, or the more common deep and curious stare. I’ll usually smile and wave to those who stare, and a smile will crack on their face as they nod to greet in passing. Students in blue collared polo shirts picked through the mud making their way to school for the 8:00am bell (that usually sounds around 8:15). At the crossroads that marks the edge of La Descubierta, travelers wait for transportation to pass by to either neighboring Jimani, or to head up the mountain to Los Pinos or beyond, often hopping in the backs of pickup or flatbed trucks, like the one I drive for Una Vida, hitching a bola, or a free ride.
While on my run I’ve realized what an amazingly delicious two weeks I’ve had – they haven’t all been easy and I am still at the mercy of the incredible highs and lows of living abroad and the challenges of feeling like a foreign object, way out of her comfort zone, almost all the time. And yet, I feel on fire. I’m up early in the morning running, reading, writing, and out late at night dancing and doing all sorts of crazy and fulfilling things in between. I feel light up in a way only an impending change can bring. I am, ultimately, a person who needs deadlines to get anything done, and I must realize that piece of myself may never change. I’ve recently been obsessed with the concept of light and the idea that we all have an internal flame. With two groups I recently hosted, I held a candle lighting ceremony to honor and reflect on the transitions and changes we were undergoing together, and to bond the group in the idea that sharing your light with another does not diminish your own. As I ran, I realize I feel not only light up, but that I’m literally burning up – burning through what doesn’t serve me, leaving behind clarity and brightness. Its a raw and wonderful feeling that I want to cherish and remember as I get ready to move back to San Francisco.
Today, my former employer Chronicle Books is hosting its 5th annual volunteer day. Once a year in the first week in May, the publishing company of beautifully designed books closes its doors and asks employees to spend the day giving back, engaging in volunteer service projects. Back in 2009, the idea for the inaugural volunteer day was inspired by the publication of the book Change the World for Ten Bucks. The book includes 50 simple actions, that although small, have a ripple effect that positively impact the world. Somehow, I ended up on the book’s cover (see above).
In addition to the fact that I despise this picture of myself, I felt a sort of sinking feeling inside me as the book came off press and hit shelves. I wasn’t living with passion, intention, and purpose, and this book’s subject marked that, in a a giant red X, right over my heart. At my core, I was extremely embarrassed to be on the cover of this book. I felt like I was living a lie and not living up to my potential, and more importantly, not doing what my heart called me do. I feel compelled to share this now, because although I’ve spent the last three years living abroad in service and in the name of teasing out my calling, and am about to start a program to work towards becoming a nurse practitioner, there is still one small piece that lives within me, and which I have yet to let come alive.
So, from this confession comes the challenge, which is to myself. One thing I have always felt called to do is just this. Write. And I hardly ever do it.
It took me over a year to eventually get the courage to quit Chronicle. I left in April 2010 and headed straight to the Dominican Republic, to lead my first trip for Una Vida. Since then, I have lived an incredibly rich, crazy, adventurous three years in San Francisco, Bolivia and in this tiny town, where I sit now, in the Dominican Republic. And yet, this current chapter of life and work in the Dominican Republic comes to an end in exactly one month, on Tuesday, June 4th when I’ll depart Santo Domingo on a JetBlue flight bound for JFK at 10:25am.
I have so much to share, and write, and process about my time here, and this is the space where that is supposed to happen. So, I am giving myself the challenge to write, every single day, in the month that I have left here. Because I know, once I go home, everything can and does feel like a dream. So here’s to picking up the pen.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you — it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you… Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
I’ve spent the last few days at the egde of the island on the water, in Barahona (Playa San Rafael pictured above) and on the north coast’s beaches near Cabarete. Life is charmed where the sun meets the sea.
I soon realized that I am only in possession of one bathing suit here in the DR, which is not conducive for beachside vacations, as it means you must sit around in a wet bathing suit most of the time. I eventually found and purchased another one for $20 bucks.
Then I thought: the majority of people living on this island don’t own and can’t afford a bathing suit. And why is running water and consistent electricity a given in tourist parts, and yet unachievable on the rest of the island?