Tuesday, July 15, 2014

30. Is. Happening.

Remember when 30-yr olds "had it together"? Apparently it was all a grand illusion.

It's my Birthday anyways!
This is an unapologetic (and mildly narcissistic) post about figuring out what “living the dream” has meant for me, prompted by my impending birthday.

In a nutshell, my 20's were...
...Always in transit
I left for Peace Corps-Benin in West Africa on my 22nd birthday and here I am, 8-years later, back on the Equator, with an incredible travel resume and many more people, in many more countries, who I count as friends.  

Still drinking boxed wine through a straw. (adult juice box?) and still carrying a leatherman and headlamp at all times in case the power goes out…which it just did as it’s the rainy season over here.  Good thing you’re supposed to drink reds warm….
It's been quite the year of reflection, so many things to be thankful for, so many lessons learned, some that I'm still wrestling with. But at the end of the day, there's no way I could have any complaints!
These last few years have specifically been about independent self-discovery and learning what, exactly, blows my skirt up. After a decade of the rolling stone lifestyle, not much moss has gathered on this girl! 

Grandma and her Amazon grandkids 
And ultimately, that mentality has served me well. Case in point: This January, my pen-pal and family staple, Grandma Ruth passed away the day before I left for Benin.  She was well into her 90’s, read voraciously, loved visiting for hours over cups of tea and coffee…. and closed every letter she wrote me with “Enjoy every day.”  Thanks for the tip Ruth!   Noted.  

My community has become global, and I am thankful for every experience to date. I’m learning to own the fact that I will never fit into a box....or a size 8...or 10 for that matter.  My A.D.D. lifestyle has served me well and I don’t intend to slow down anytime soon. Sure, there have been some hiccups, particularly when it comes to figuring out how other humans fit into this equation.  However, I can’t imagine things shaking out any other way and you need a few storms to appreciate the rainbows right?

Frankly, my 20’s eff-ing rocked. I love the fact that I’ve lived on a fishing boat on the Bering Sea, in a tent in Alaska, slept on countless train station floors, have been bled dry by leeches in Nepal, fly fished next to bears, and have shit my pants in more places than I care to (or can) remember…and to boot? The people I did these things with are much more badass than myself.  There's always someone to learn from.
Still learning how to pack light.
BUT: If this lifestyle really is a compulsion and not a choice, how do I sustain it? What does the transition look like from wanderlusty fun-lover to career oriented, family-motivated professional (who really, is still the wanderlusty fun-lover) ?  I do want to gracefully make this transition, but I’ll get back to you on the execution of said plan…

Night market in Marrakech

This year alone, I left my home in the Rockies to live in Benin, West Africa for a spell, took a side trip to Morocco to smell the spices and research street food, camped at the base of the Great Wall of China, and was incredibly humbled by the people I encountered at every stop. 

People shuttled my luggage on and off trains, bought me avocado juice, shared meals with me on their dime, offered up cans of beer they'd tracked down in a dry country, passed along books, made every effort to speak my language, and sometimes just embraced me with a warm smile.  Lesson learned: Pay. It. Forward.

Hiking at the Great Wall
Turns out, I've been building a skill set along the way. 

My journey is just warming up and I wouldn't trade the travels, self-imposed trials and tribulations, nor the bruises and scars for anything.

Latest damage from a moto dump.

 My time this year in Benin has been enlightening on both professional and personal levels.  I moved back here to start MamaCarts and learned a whole lot more than I bargained for.

Biggest lesson? Find good people, collaborate, and then get out of their way!  My team here is shaping up to be a bunch of rockstars and it's been very cool to build this organization with some fellow movers and shakers.  

Which is why....

I am so excited to kick 30 off right!  Very honored to write that this fall I’ll embark on a new adventure back in Colorado as a university teacher (to be clear, not a professor). It’s a year contract, lecturing in marketing, time to travel, and in a town on blue ribbon trout waters
Still pinching myself…and enjoying every day.

My home for the next year :)