A great blog post from Lost Axis GIS about finding a new home in Denver metro area! There are so many things to think about when you’re setting up shop in a new town!!
Since we met, Team Jander has never been able to be stationary for too long. We started our marriage off in Seattle, then moved to central Mexico for the Peace Corps. Now, we have relocated to the sunny state of Colorado!!
And we’re making the Rockies our home for the foreseeable future!
There has been a substantial amount of change over the last few months, and we haven’t been settled in our own home since September 2014. The nomadic life taught us a lot about humility and gratitude. A special thank you to those that graciously housed or fed us in this time of transition. We hope to return the favor by offering our spare room up in our home in the Denver metro area.
For the blog, a house tour is coming soon! Any special requests for blog coverage in our new town?? Also, we have a new address and phone numbers so please contact us if you would like our updated info!
Adventure is out there!
When we were offered the assignment to move to Mexico, we created a pro & con list with the single story knowledge that we had. Safety was a big concern for us, and what was it going to be like to move to the desert? Would we have to adopt new names or join a mariachi band to fit in? We were victims of the single story that is so often painted for US citizens. We had even been to Mexico on mission trips building houses and working with youth groups. The only story we knew of Mexico was that Mexicans were impoverished, less than, and always trying to sneak into our country. I can’t blame you for thinking the same.
Arriving to Mexico, I was nervous and skeptical of what I was seeing. Could people really be happy hear? Is that jazz music I hear in the courtyard? Why are there coffee shops and pizzerias on every corner? Aren’t these people supposed to be poor?
My friend, let me tell you, there are many Mexicos.
Throughout the two years of living in Mexico, I have encountered more Mexicos than I thought possible. I have been to the coast to stay with a Swede in his beachside hotel. I have been to isolated communities that lack clean water. I have been to the jungle and spotted exotic birds. I have been to the city and watched people cram themselves into an already full subway train. I have been to pyramids where indigenous people played soccer and birthed new life. I have been to cold, rainy, and clouded forests that feel just like the Pacific Northwest. I have been to the coffee growing regions and met the poorly compensated farmers.
Over the years, I have heard countless stories of cousins, brothers, fathers crossing the border. You can see the pain in their eyes as they tell you the story of the economic hardship that drove them to trek the 400 miles in hopes of providing for their families. I have met men who started a life in the US, only to be deported and ripped away from their kids who have citizenship. It is not an easy story to hear, but it is an important one.
Mexico is so much more than Spring Break, drugs, and immigration laws. There is vibrant life and culture popping out at every corner. Happiness, joy, sorrows, and struggles. You must not forget that we are all humans, part of the human race.
I encourage you to reject the single story of any one person or any one place and seek a new perspective. On that note, I have to say that I am only one voice, one story in the Peace Corps novel. If you are interested in embracing new stories, I would encourage you to check out these other fabulous Peace Corps bloggers below to help you better understand what Peace Corps truly is and how you can support those who work for peace around the globe.
Meet Jessica, author of prize-winning blog Among the Stone Cactuses, who like myself was in Mexico. Her time was cut short due to a medical injury, and she had a different experience to her time as a PCV. She is an incredible writer and her journalistic photos draw you into her story.
Meet Jedd and Michelle, authors of Simply Intentional, who served in Jamaica as a married couple from 2012 – 2014. Their videos make the stories they have encountered come to life and pop out. They have a similar timeline to Neal and I, and they too are in the RPCV sabbatical mindset.
Meet Sara, author of Guinean Dreams, whos Peace Corps service ended 21 months early because of the Ebola outbreak. Read her true stories on the perspective of Ebola and tell me that the US news has not desensitized us.
Meet Keith and Heather, authors of Sponge & Slate, who are currently serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in China. They are English teachers who record their students during class and work on gender equality issues on the side.
Peace to you, amigos!
If you’ve been following along, you know that teaching youth about cultivating their own food is very important to me. Educating kids on small-crop agriculture is just part of the idea. You bring the kids outside, teach them how to grow edible plants, and they are the ones who spend the time caring for the seed. They are the ones in the garden on a daily basis watering the small plants. They are the ones who watch it grown everyday. When it’s time to cultivate the food garden, well let’s just say you have never seen a kid so excited about lettuce before in her or his whole life. They become giddy over a radish and squeal with excitement over swiss chard. The kids worked for that moment and now that they have spent the time working for the harvest, the relationship between a person and a plant is now in direct harmony.
This education part is just one aspect of the food cycle. A mere relationship to one’s food cannot be overridden by the cultural weight of Coca-Cola. The battle for obesity cannot be fought alone, together we must work towards a healthier future for all generations. Jamie Oliver is a modern hero is my eyes. Sure he is a celebrity chef, and sure he makes money from the products he sells. But there is so much more to his mission than just that. He is a food advocate – he fights for clean, healthy food in American public school systems. He educates the public on how to prepare the most simple dishes in case your parents never taught you how to cook. He is the other half of the food education that was not covered in my small school garden project. Check out one of his TED Talks below!
I hope you enjoyed the video! You can choose what fuels your body. Let me know what you think about the video below in the comment section!
Live long and prosper!
I love the New Year! I love the fresh, clean cut from the past year. I love the feeling of having limitless opportunities. Optimism fills the air as people look forward to the year to come. Everything seems to look a little bit brighter in these moments of the new year. The world looks shinier and you start thinking about the person you hope to be.
Maybe you want to stop smoking, or get in better shape, or get out of debt this year. You resolve to getting to the gym or getting on the patch or making a budget for yourself. You’re doing great, but that first hiccup appears and you miss your gym appointment or you inhale the smell of cigarette smoke or you buy that thing that was just too good of a deal to pass up.
We have all been there.
Resolutions never seemed to work for me, personally. It’s too easy to lose focus on the big picture you’ve set for yourself. Before you know it, you’re the same person you were when you made this resolution. I much prefer goals – big or small – that bring you closer to become the person you want to be. This past year, a friend loaned me the book Creating Your Best Life by Caroline Adams Miller MAPP & Dr. Michael B. Frisch. The book is all about goal-setting and living the life you have imagined. I highly recommend it to those who are interested in moving with bold intention.
For me, goal-setting and list-making have always been a part of my life. Thanks to the book, I have been able to hone in on life goals and living with more clear purpose. Ask me sometime and I will let you see my hearts desires, my 100-thing list. Here are some of the actions we want to take this year.
- Attend a marriage conference (our goal is every 5 years!)
- Neal to do his first triathlon
- Chelsea to do her first half-marathon
- Backpack out in the country for 4 days
- Refine our survival skills
- Read through the Old Testament
- Publish at least 2 books of travels around the world
- Join an intramural volleyball team
- Do a full moon hike
- Continue to document stories from time abroad
If lists and goals aren’t your thing, then check out this TED Talk for a cool alternative to becoming your best self. All it takes is 30 days!
To your best you!
Due to safety reasons, we were never able to publish photos of our apartment while we were living on-site. For your viewing pleasure, I have put up some photos so you can see what our apartment looked like as Peace Corps Volunteers in Mexico. We lived simply, but we were safe and had a host family that took great care of us. This apartment is located in San Pedro Cholula, which is unrelated to the popular hot sauce. We lived on the second floor and to our surprise, never had any problems with scorpions or snakes or any other unwanted creatures that are common to the Peace Corps experience.
You have to understand, life was simple and cheap. Our apartment in numbers… rent was $155 USD/month; internet with router was $25 USD/month; gas was $20 USD every other month; electricity was $4 USD every other month.
Since we’re still not settled in our new life, this still feels like my home. It breaks my heart to see our home and to know that we willingly chose to leave this life. It is easy, however, to idealize the things you’ve lost in life. Mexico will always be a part of my life and our story. I am forever grateful for our experiences there and the many memories we had in this apartment.
We’ve been back stateside long enough to blend in now. The wear and tear of living abroad has worn off now. The shock of repatriation is beginning to wane. We’re still floating and waiting for the job ship to set sail. Until then, the process continues. Our stories are told in English with more fluidity. We have perfected the elevator speech and dwindled 2.5 years of life into 2.5 minutes. Just because we seem to blend in and life seems a little more put together does not mean that we’re no longer affected by reverse culture shock. No, no. Quite the contrary. Enjoy McPherson Time’s perspective on this time in our lives.
The future used to be as big as the sky.
But here, everyone’s tomorrow is as tiny as the stars.
Why reach out for a target so tiny?
To connect with people here is to make constellations.
But there are barely any stars when I look up in this city to begin with.
They don’t want to hear my stories,
They want me to make their imaginations come true.
I’ve collected all these huge fireflies, but they want to make my jar go dim.
Jars aren’t supposed to shine; they’re supposed to keep useful things, like preserves or change.
When I speak of magic,
Why do their imaginations wander away from the wonder I have to tell,
Only to capture things mundane,
Things they’ll see in their tiny tomorrow.
Maybe my world is too jarring.
Maybe I should speak smaller
Maybe my stories need to be less lightning bug,
And more laser pointer.
Thanks again to poet – Anthony McPherson – for taking the time to write these words. I am honored and amazed to read my own thoughts through the artistic eyes of others.
Love someone big today.
We talked about reverse culture shock in my last blog. One aspect of repatriation that I was not prepared for was the inevitable down time. The time in between the fun happy hours and coffee dates. The time in between job hunting and going hiking. The time in between when everyone is at work and you’ve already accomplished your to-do list for the day. The time in between waking and sleeping.
Before I left Mexico, I reached out to friends who have gone through (and still going through) the PCV to RPCV transition. I asked for any advice they could give me during the transition and repatriation. Some responded with a brief, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t do so well in that department and you probably shouldn’t take any advice from me.” Others gave me a long list or ideas of things I could do to help myself. One dear friend who is also a RPCV, actually asked if she could interview me as part of a finals project for her Master’s theatre education program. She studied repatriation, reverse culture shock, and the transition from a RPCV perspective; I was her case study. She interviewed me and used her notes to inform her performance piece at the end of this semester. Being well connected and in NYC, she shared her notes with a slam poet – Anthony McPherson – and he took the time to write poetry about MY feelings. I am honored and amazed at the results; what a blessing to read my own feelings and thoughts through the artistic eyes of others.
I have no goodbyes,
Only good times to come.
The future is big, a target we can’t miss,
Not even if we tried.
Our circle is already coming together again.
Even when I stand in place,
I feel the ground passing under me.
Travel plans swirl in the soles of my feet.
There are too many directions to walk.
All these roads, but for now I am back home.
I can appreciate the familiar sights,
Because soon, my eyes will be gone from them.
It will not last.
People come and go from each other’s lives,
But our circle is a little bit more important:
For the first time in our lives,
We had a place that felt like ours.
We had a place that felt like home.
Here’s another clip of McPhersonTime if you’re interested. This is his piece during the National Poetry Slam Finals.
Thanks for reading! Stayed tuned for more updates and more poetry!