On the Road Again

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!

Ceebs

The In Between Poems, Part 3

Part 1 // Part 2

This is the final installment of Anthony McPherson‘s poems written based on notes from an interview. The author is not me, but the sentiments and emotions are mine.

 

3.

When you say goodbye,

No one leaves,

Not until everyone glues plans to each other.

Do the stars know that the constellations exist?

The future used to be as big as the sky,

Now, it’s a bunch of agendas in a jar.

Every step I take is scheduled.

How can you run free when you’re always a step ahead of yourself?

It’s already tomorrow

I need to make resolutions for the year after next.

Fireworks are no longer spontaneous –

They’re marked down for two days out of the year.

Am I calendar?

Am I dates and windows, matched with pictures of exotic locations that most people will never see?

On what day do I fulfill my purpose?

 

If Elvis were to come back to the world,

Everyone in my family would fall still.

He’d tell them about heaven,

But no matter what he says,

Inevitably,

Their mind will imagine clouds.

As hectic life rips the months out of us like pages,

Elvis will eventually become a normal celebrity.

A tabloid magazine

That people might pick up

Glance through

But probably won’t buy.

 

Thank you to those who have been intentional about reconnecting with us during this time of transition. To those who have invited us to dinner or let us stay in your guest room, your hospitality and generosity will not be forgotten. Thank you to friends and family that have cheered us up with packages and rallied behind us with loving phone calls, emails, and texts. Thanks to those that have listened to our stories and cared about the endings.

 

We are so thankful for the amazing friends and family in our lives.

 

With gratitude,

Ceebs

 

Resolutions vs. Goals

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.

 

  1. Attend a marriage conference (our goal is every 5 years!)
  2. Neal to do his first triathlon
  3. Chelsea to do her first half-marathon
  4. Backpack out in the country for 4 days
  5. Refine our survival skills
  6. Read through the Old Testament
  7. Publish at least 2 books of travels around the world
  8. Join an intramural volleyball team
  9. Do a full moon hike
  10. 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!

 

Cheers,

Ceebs

Nuestro Departamento

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.

 

Our garden patio – chives, lettuce, tomatoes, and our compost!

 

Our economy bathroom – shower, sink, toilet all right there!

 

Part 1 of our kitchen – limited space, limited pots and pans.

 

Part 2 of our kitchen – Note our mini fridge!

 

The living room where friends and family have spent many hours together!

 

The view from our bedroom door. I love our little apartment!

 

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.

 

¡Feliz Navidad! 

Chelsea Beth

The In Between Poems, Part 2

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.

 

2.

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.

 

Cheers,

Chelsea

The In Between Poems, Part 1

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.

 

1.

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.

Elders say,

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!

 

Abrazitos,

C

Sustainable School Food Gardens

If you were to just look at our blog up until this point, you would be convinced that being in the Peace Corps is all play and no work. Well today I hope to set the record straight.

As Peace Corps volunteers we have a unique opportunity to apply for Small Project Assistance (SPA) grants which are small pieces of the USAID budget.  These grant funds provide a way for Peace Corps volunteers to partner with USAID to support development efforts in rural communities. I applied for funds to begin a gardening project that focused on teaching rural community members about climate change adaptation measure such as school gardening, compost, and environmental education. One of the most exciting outcomes from this project included publishing a manual specifically regarding school gardens, one of the first of its kind available in Spanish.

Why school gardens you ask? Well since schools are already an educational institution, we decided that working with the schools would disseminate out to the communities via the students.  We focused on sustainable food gardens as they can be used for climate change adaptation, environmental education, food generation, income generation, recreation, and conservation of native plants.

The implementation worked like this…

1. We selected three schools who previously demonstrated interest in themes of environmental education in three different socio-economic levels to show that regardless of access to resources, all schools can grow their own food.
2. A group of local garden experts united together to technically educate the schools in four different trainings that increased their capacity and knowledge in the theme of school gardening and small scale agriculture.
3. Depending on what the school had in regards to resources, we implemented one of two options for school gardens: the keyhole garden methodology or container gardening in huacales, wood boxes from the market. The keyhole garden is a circular garden bed with compost integrated in its center, this is a closed loop system which is essential for schools that are busy and have little time to manage another project during school hours. Below are some images for clarification…
vista lateral sin
Side View of a Keyhole Garden by Jesi Friedly
Birds Eye View by Jesi Friedly
Birds Eye View of a Keyhole Garden by Jesi Friedly
4. As a demonstration of their learned knowledge, we asked the schools to host an ecological fair which focused on the knowledge dissemination of the keyhole garden method.
5. Our technical team has completed a manual which offers a definitive voice on school gardening which is the first of its kind available for free to the Mexican communities. The manual covers a variety of themes, all of which were included in the various training during the lifespan of the project.
 

Here is a picture of me and the finished product!

 

Here’s a sweet story from my project… During the ecofair in Rancho Viejo, which was the most rural school we worked with, the students gave a tour of the different ecological elements throughout the school. The local beneficiaries, including parents and other community members listened intently to each of the students placed at their stations. Some of the students were shy and some were very excited to explain why their school was in-line with environmental practices like limiting water use, recycling, upcycling, composting, and of course, gardening. The highlight of the event was when the students gathered to explain how important it is to garden and to learn how to grow your own food. They explained how the keyhole methodology works and why it was so effective at their school which had very poor, rocky soil. Before the tour concluded, the student plucked a radish from the ground and handed it to me as a gesture of acknowledgment and gratitude.

 

097-P1120385

 

Exciting news is that the Ministry of Public Education has demonstrated interest in picking up the project and launching it on a state-level. With this manual, we are continuing to train advisers who will return to their regions and are responsible for training and assisting the schools in their region.

 

Once I get the link to the manual, I will post it here so you can check it out yourself!

 

Paz,

Ceebs