Archive for March, 2009


I just got back from Hawaii a week ago today.  Doesn’t seem possible!  I went with my boyfriend to visit some friends of mine who live in Hawaii.  They were kind enough to welcome us into their home for a week.  We stayed just outside of Honolulu.  It was the longest I’d gotten to see my bf since May.  It was so nice to spend so much time with him while getting to see my friends and all in an exotic locale!  The perfect vacation 🙂

at-dukes-in-hawaiiWe arrived late Saturday evening.  Gary and Karen met us at the airport with leis.  It was already dark when we got there so we couldn’t see most of the island.  They took us for a little drive through the Waikiki hotel district so we could see the beach and all the tiki torches lit.  We went for dinner and drinks at Duke’s.  It’s a restaurant located in a hotel with a patio right on the beach with live music! It was a fitting beginning for our Hawaiian vacation.  We got our tropical drinks and delicious food while enjoying the local music and looking at the waves.

The next day, we drove up the east cost of O’ahu and stopped to see the sights!  We stopped and explored the rocks at Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach as we made our way to the North Shore.  My bf went exploring in the one of the little caves and ended up getting nailed by a huge wave as it came crashing in!  He was a little wet for the rest of the day but he dealt with it, hehehe. We stopped at a little place for lunch across from another beach.  Yummy seafood and Hawaiian Kona beer!  It started raining on our way home but we still managed to see so much of what the island had to offer in terms of scenery. (more…)


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* I will be out of town until the 15th.  Look for a post with Hawaii pictures after that!!

In the comments for my last post, Paddy Shaughnessy asked me some very pointed questions.  He asked me:

“I’m interested in your decisions leading up to become a VISTA, it must have been such a huge crossroads in your life. How did you learn about it, was there any hesitation about becoming one and what sacrifices have you had to endure because of your participation?

In other words… how do you go from regular college kid to a servant to social issues given the sacrifices you’d have to make to do it?”

I didn’t feel as though I could answer his questions in the comments so I’m hoping this post can serve as a response.  I’ve talked a bit before about what being a VISTA entails and what it means to me but this will hopefully be a bit more in depth. Let me set the stage…

It was early early in the morning on my birthday at the end of 2007.  I was entering my senior year of college with no clear career goals in mind.  My boyfriend of almost 6 years and I had just broken up.  Quite honestly, my life was a bit of a mess.  A friend of mine had been looking into Teach for America and AmeriCorps and I was inspired.  I had no plans and was starting to freak out about my future.  I decided I had nothing to lose.  I went ahead and applied for AmeriCorps*VISTA and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  I didn’t really think much of it.  I never thought I would end up where I am today.

When I started getting calls from sites interested in having me as their VISTA I was flattered.  Who wouldn’t be right?  The more I talked with people about VISTA the more I realized it might not be such a bad idea.  It would give me the chance to get a year of experience without having to pay my loans and a chance to see parts of the country I had never seen before.  Part of the reason I ultimately decided to do VISTA was to create a new beginning for myself.  I had just gotten out of the longest relationship I had ever had.  I wanted to redefine myself.  Becoming a VISTA was something I never would have done while in that relationship.  It was a leap of faith, something out of character.  The idea of a fresh start in a new place with new people appealed to me.

I ended up in Nebraska, a long way from home for an East Coast girl.  It’s been an interesting year so far.  I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences that I never would have had otherwise.  I’ve gotten to see most of the state of Nebraska, visited a uranium mine, a horse ranch, 2 Husker games, and multitudes of other fun things.  I’ve also met so many amazing people.  I’ve made life long friends here in a short amount of time.  It hasn’t been without it’s challenges.

Living at poverty level hasn’t been easy.  It’s difficult to make the money work and even more difficult trying to survive on public transportation and charity rides to get around.  I look forward to having a car again.  The hardest part for me has been leaving the people I love.  Family and friends mean so much to me and it’s been hard to be away for such long periods of time.  I am lucky to get home twice a year.  It’s hard to make friends when you only really go to work and home again due to lack of rides.  That has been a difficult adjustment as well but I’m dealing with it.  Thankfully I have amazing coworkers to help make up for it.

The switch from college life to AmeriCorps was a big one for me.  However I’m not sure if it would have been any different if I entered the working world instead.  I have no real basis for comparison.  Our training helped get me in the mindset I needed to empathize with people experiencing poverty.  As long, and sometimes boring (hehe), as it sometimes was, it was worth it.

All in all the experience has been worth it.  It’s had its rough patches but I’ve tried to learn from them the best that I can.  I’ve been lucky enough to be accepted into a Physician Assistant Master’s program for the fall and I am sure my experiences here helped me get there.  I hope I can continue to take these lessons with me and grow.  Well this turned out to be much “sappier”, for lack of a better word, than I anticipated!  Thanks for reading everyone and let me know if you have any more questions!

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Giving Thanks

thank-youIn my last post, I wrote about some of my frustrations with keeping up with my blogging and with life in general.  Thank you so much to all of you who reached out to me in various ways with messages of support and encouragement.

Since I moved, it’s been difficult for me to adjust.  I have been surprised at how much trouble I’ve had establishing a reliable support system.  The friends I have found here though are amazing and I am so blessed.  Part of the problem is I am used to be so surrounded by my dedicated friends from home.  Terrible problem to have, I know 😉 What has surprised me most of all has been the friends I have made through social media.

I used to be skeptical of online relationships of any kind.  I didn’t understand how close bonds could be formed with people I had never met.  However, the support, and yes friendship, I have gained through my online interactions have surprised me.  There are people I have never met in person that I know I could count on as much as I count on my other friends to lend an ear.

I know how fortunate I am to have so many people interested in my life and who care about me in some way or another.  I’m working on my issues and hopefully with their continued help and support I will one day have better coping skills for myself.  I am working on letting go and enjoying the ride and what a wonderful ride it is with all my friends and readers to share it with.  Thank you.  Let me know if I can ever return the favor!

Photo credit:  mandiberg

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