Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good-bye 2011

2011 was one heck of a year and I’m welcoming 2012 wholeheartedly.
But before I do I want to reflect on this past year…

2011 was an interesting, eye opening, and life-changing year.
One I’ll never forget.

It was…good, hard, trying, sad, fun, and adventurous.
It was filled with love and full of some heartache.

I learned a lot.
I did a lot.

I grew.
I changed.

I saw the worst in myself.
I saw the best in myself.

I'm grateful for everything I experienced this year and for all the people who were a part of my 2011.

Post that reflect 2011:
What It’s All About
One Year Ago
Lights. Camera. Action.
The Long Journey Home
Shell beach
Why Now?
22 Months + Lessons Learned

Favorite photos of 2011:
Celebrated one year in Peace Corps

Alter Ego party

St. Patrick's Day

Being home and seeing my cousins

I loved meeting baby Reggie

My 25th birthday with good friends

Attended my first Indian wedding and ate curry out of a leaf

Shell Beach-- most amazing thing I've ever done.

Flew to Kato and hiked a waterfall 

Spent 7 days in Tobago with awesome friends
Ate amazing shark sandwiches 

Celebrated our 2nd Thanksgiving in Linden


It sure didn't feel like Christmas but it was a good day spent with good friends. Becky and I baked a lot of cookies and made homemade pumpkin cinnamon bread and eggnog.  We watched Elf and Home Alone.  And early Christmas morning Becky and I went to church.  Most of the day we were welcomed to spend time with Guyanese families, which was nice.  Then at night we had our little gift exchange.

Christmas morning gathered around the tree

For breakfast we had our pumpkin cinnamon bread and sparkling cider

On Christmas Eve we were wildly surprised by the presence of Heather Claus....
Heather Claus enjoying homemade eggnog

Who doesn't love mustaches?

We all had to tell Heather Claus what we wanted for Christmas

On Christmas Eve two kids came by Becky's with a monkey. Becky took the monkey and let it climb all over her then she put the monkey on me, which was creepy...hence the face.

All in all, it was a good last Christmas in Guyana
Becky's handmade Nativity

Friday, December 23, 2011

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

I can't believe it's been 2 years since I was home for's hard for me not being with my family at this time of year. 
But luckily, this year I'm spending the holiday with some good friends in Region 3.  
I'm headed to Becky's house for some cookie baking, Christmas music listening, crafting and laughter.   I'm sure it's going to be a very random Christmas but it will be one I'll never forget.

I hope all my friends and family enjoy this special time of year. 
I'm missing you all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I had the opportunity to help Chelsea with her Food for Healthy Babies program.  She had the idea to develop a program for at risk (malnourished, under wight, or who may be HIV positive) babies. Basically, it's an educational feeding program focusing on introducing solid foods to babies. We developed lessons on feeding baby with a cup and spoon, doing food demonstrations on making porridge, fresh fruit juice, homemade baby food (which they had never seen before),  and baking healthy snacks (focusing on the importance of feeding baby with wholesome foods instead of packaged snacks), and parenting with love (making meal time fun for baby).  Overall, although we ran into some errors, the program was successful and we enjoyed the time we got to spend with cute babies and friendly mothers.

I just love these little ones!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Changes are a-Comin'

As I am beginning to wrap up my Peace Corps service...I've been working on my Description of Service (DOS), summing up everything I've done since arriving in Guyana, and it has been a little overwhelming remembering everything and finding the right, concise wording.  But it's also been a good time to reflect on my life over the past 22 months. 
However, all of this thought about my time as a volunteer also has me thinking about the changes that are going to happen so soon. And I'll admit, as much as I am looking forward to returning home, I'm getting a little nervous...what's my plan? 
 And while I'm going back to old comforts I'm a little scared to leave the safety of Peace Corps. 
But truthfully, I'm so excited for the changes that await me.  I can feel it in my bones that the change my life is about to encounter is going to be so amazingly awesome.  
I feel confident that I have gained the strength I need to start the next chapter of my life and I'm just so ready to take this new breath of life. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

From the Heart

My heart feels heavy with unspoken words. It's healing and still full of emotion.
Although, I feel strength radiating from within me there are words I need to share...

It was a good dream, great even.
You and me and the thought of forever.
I believed it to be true because I wanted you.
I wanted us.
It has been a hard but refreshing realization
to know life doesn’t always work out like we hoped it would.
But I have faith there is a bigger plan for both of us.
I need you to know I’m grateful for the time we spent together,
for everything you taught me.
You showed me what it means to love another person
and for that I’ll always carry you in my heart.
I believe you are my soul mate because you awoke my soul.
You cracked my heart open allowing new light to come in.
Thank you.
I forgive you
and wish you happiness.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Alphabet To Live By

I stumbled across this and love it! I think we all need to live life by following the ABC's. How cool would it be if little kids grew up learning the alphabet and rules to live by this way?

A: authenticity - be real, be yourself, speak your truth.

B: beauty - is everywhere, we need to open our hearts and our minds to find it!

C: compassion - take the time to care for others, ask how someone is and listen.

D: daring - be brave, take risks and have adventures!

E: extraordinary - think outside of the ordinary, go above and beyond mediocre!

F: funny - be funny, see the funny, laugh at yourself, don't take things too seriously.

G: generosity - be generous with your time, your love and your abilities.

H: happy - keep it simple, tune into what gives you butterflies and you will know happy.

I: intuition - listen closely, sit in silence, don't talk too much and you will truly hear.

J: joy - feel the joy in each and every moment, joy is in everyone, learn to release it.

K: kindness - the simple act of kindness has the power to change lives.

L: love - use the word often, you cannot have too much love, the more the merrier!

M: memories - our most precious gift from one generation to another, share them often.

N: nice - be nice, always, expect nothing in return, feel the inner and outer glow.

O: organised - it really does make life easier, make some lists and
break goals down into pieces.

P: passion - discover your passion and follow it, don't do anything without your passion.

Q: quiet - meditate, remove yourself from the noise of life for at least a few minutes a day.

R: reflect - don't dwell in the past, simply reflect with an open mind and be gentle on yourself.

S: self care - do at least one thing a day that nurtures YOU.

T: thoughtful - consider others and what you can do to make them feel loved.

U: unique - look for the thing or the person who stands out from the trend.

V: vivid - life is filled with color, and color improves our mood, live in full color!

W: wonder - always look at life through the eyes of a child, see everything as a miracle.

X: xtra - develop a career that is true to your passion and always do that little
bit xtra every day.

Y: youthful - the feeling of youthfulness need never fade, hold it tightly in your heart and never let go.

Z: zany - be a little silly, don't be afraid to be different.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

{Love} Incubus

I have waited
dined on ashes
swung from chandeliers
and climbed Everest,
and none of it's gotten me
close to this.

I've waited all my life
if not now, when will I...

We've been good
even a blast
but don't you feel like
something's missing here?
Don't you dear?

I've waited all my life
If not now, when will I
stand up and face the bright light?
Don't hide your eyes...
It's time.

No umbrellas
no sunglasses
hell and hallelujah everyday.

I've waited all my life
if not now, when will I
stand up and face the bright light?
Don't hide your eyes...
It's time. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

22 Months + Lessons Learned

I have learned a lot in the 22 months I have been in Guyana. I've not only learned about another part of the world, culture, and way of living but I've learned a lot about life and myself.  I'm just so grateful for this experience, it has truly been life changing. 

The important lessons I've learned along the way...
You can only have expectations for yourself and no one else.
Everyone has their own opinions.
Take the time to get to know people.
People will surprise you.
Be happy with who you are, always.
It’s okay to be alone.
It’s okay to cry and to be upset but you have to find a way to eventually let it go.
It’s okay to tell people no.
Failure is a part of life but don't get discouraged
It’s important to stick up for yourself.
People don’t always see eye to eye, and that’s okay.
We don’t live in a perfect world. It can be cruel and unfair.
Allow yourself to feel emotions.
Express yourself in any way you can.
Be open to new things and new ideas.
Don’t turn your back on people.
Be comfortable in your own skin.
Laugh at yourself.
Laugh at something everyday.
Be polite.
Say you’re sorry.
Don’t hold grudges.
You create your own happiness. 
Always tell the people you love that you love them.
Be grateful. 
Don’t go to bed mad.
Write it down.
Forgive others. Forgive yourself. 
Find something beautiful in every surrounding.
Sing and dance even if people are going to laugh.
Family is important.
Know good things are coming your way every day.
Know yourself.
Accept yourself.
Follow your intuition.
It’s okay to plan for the future but live in the moment.
Turn to God.
I am much stronger than I ever believed.
I am who I am.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by
every experience in which you really stop to look
fear in the face. You must do the thing which you
think you cannot do.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5th.

Happy December!
I can't believe Christmas is only 20 days sure doesn't feel like Christmas around here. But I'm hoping all of you back home are getting ready and excited for this special time of year.  I must admit I'm craving everything Christmas right, eggnog, fresh baked cookies, Christmas lights, decorating the tree, listening to Christmas music, shopping and wrapping presents, hot chocolate, and cold weather {maybe even some snow}.
Last week, during the election period nothing happened except it took the government 3 days to announce the new presidency and we stayed home all week. Let's just say a lot of sitting around took place, but that's okay.

With only a few weeks left in Guyana I'm looking forward to...
A night of baking goodies with friends.
Spending Christmas in region 3 with Becky and Princess.
Celebrating the arrival of 2012!
COS conference.
Packing and cleaning.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Today is Guyana’s Presidential Election and Peace Corps has been preparing us for this day for awhile now. They have enforced that we stay in our houses today and tomorrow and possibly the rest of the week depending on how things go. We have stocked up on food and what not and have a bag packed just in case we have to evacuate. These are just precautions Peace Corps has put in order. So far today has been pretty quiet but I think tomorrow, once the decision has been made things might get a little heated (just my foresight in Linden). But I'm praying things go peacefully and soundly.

In the meantime, while we are instructed to stay home for a few days I’ve been enjoying being lazy. I’ve been listening to music and pinning items in Pinterest. I’m working on filling out a Peace Corps questionnaire and watching Gossip Girl. I’d like to start going through things in my house and thinking about what I want to take back home with me…it’s crazy how much I’ve accumulated since being in Guyana. And it’s crazy that come this time in January I’ll be home…

Please keep Guyana in your thoughts.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Second Thanksgiving in Linden

We celebrated our 2nd Thanksgiving in Linden with Chelsea's mom and brother and our friends. We had 12 people in total take part in our feast and we had a great day all gathered together...there was a lot of cooking, gaffing, laughing, drinking of wine, and thankfulness going on. As much as I missed being home with my family I was so thankful to be surrounded by my friends in Guyana. I'm seriously so grateful for the people I've met here. As we went around the table sharing our gratitude Chelsea and I got a little teary eyed because we have so much to be grateful for and this whole experience has been life changing and it is sad to know it's coming to an end soon. But I have faith the friends I've made in Peace Corps will be a part of my life for a long time.

Our house got painted!

Turkey cooking in a BBQ...ingenious. So grateful for turkey!

Chelsea's mom decorated our tree for Thanksgiving. It was our gratitude tree, everyone wrote what they were grateful for.

Chels, Becky, me, Princess, & Cassie

Becky celebrated Thanksgiving with us last year too!

Brother Tim

So much yummy was amazing!

Yay for Chelsea's mom and bro!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grateful For...

I am so grateful for my life. I'm grateful for the people in my life. I'm grateful for all the experiences and opportunities I've been given. I'm grateful for the lessons I've learned along the way. I'm grateful for all the adventures.  I'm grateful for my health. I'm grateful for love, laughter, joy, and happiness.

I'm just so excited for life!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Chelsea's mom and brother are here visiting for Thanksgiving and today I spent the day with them, our friend Carissa and our neighbor Lisa. We went to Rockstone, an Amerindian village about 45 minutes away from Linden. Chelsea wanted her mom and brother to experience another part of Guyana...a boat ride on the river through the jungle. And that's just what we did. Chelsea arranged our transportation on a mini-bus and a boat man to take us for a tour on the Essequibo river. This part of the river is different than other parts of the river I've seen because it has rapids and rock formations all throughout the river. It was neat to see another part of this beautiful country.

This weekend in Rockstone is the famous fish festival but while we were there not much was going on, they were still setting things up. I guess Sunday is the busy, crazy day of the festival. But to participate in the fish festival festivities I ate curry fish and rice.
It was my first experience eating a whole fish...scales, bones, and head.

Thank goodness the eyes were removed. 

I am so grateful for Tim and Chelsea and Chelsea's mom, for letting me be a part of their visit in Guyana!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Advanced COS

After much consideration and discussion with Peace Corps Guyana staff I decided to apply for an advanced Close of Service (COS) date. I spoke with my Country Director and found out volunteers may apply for an advanced COS up to 90 days before their actual COS date and still be treated as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. However, the approval wouldn’t be up to him, it would have to be approved by the South America desk.

So I took the leap of faith. I had to write a letter as to why I was requesting an early COS and I had to have my supervisor at the health center write a letter saying she agreed that my projects are complete and she was giving me permission to submit my request.

The reasons vary as to why I decided to try and complete my Peace Corps service early. I do no feel like I am quitting or failing because I am completing my Close of Service (our COS conference is the first week in January). I am so grateful for the support of my Counterpart, Project Manager and Country Director because my request for an advanced COS date has been approved and I’ll be home by the end of January!

Wow, I kind of can’t believe it. The request was sent yesterday and I found out today that my advanced COS date has officially been approved. I was not expecting that quick of a response and I can’t believe I have 2 months left in Guyana. It’s crazy to think about. And I’ll admit I have mixed emotions. As much as I am excited to think about life back home I am a little scared. But I am super excited…I’m anxious, happy, sad, nervous, unsure, surprised, excited, happy, sad, excited.

I knew this adventure would eventually end and all my fellow PCVs would go their separate ways but wow, it’s really coming to an end and I’ll be leaving my friends and life in Guyana so soon.
Deep down I know this decision and step is right for me. It’s time to move on.
But right now it’s time to really enjoy my last moments in Guyana.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grateful For...

I am so grateful for my family. I am blessed to have such a fun, beautiful, crazy, caring, loving, supportive family.
There is nothing like family. 

I got this picture today from my cousin and I think it's awesome!
My cousin Holly's wedding. It was a great day!

I am so grateful for...
Dad & Berna, Mom & Dan, Amie, all my aunts, uncles, and cousins, Grammary & Poppy Steve, Grandma & Papa.

Monday, November 7, 2011

21 Months

I can't believe it's November. This year has been flying by.  And I can't believe in 8 weeks we'll be at our Close of Service conference!

Life in Guyana has been streaming along. The roosters still crow, the buses still speed by, it's still really hot and humid and I pretty much eat the same thing every day. 

I've been doing the Be Safe! Program twice a week at the nursery school and I've been working with 10 students from the primary school teaching phonics, reading, and spelling. Work at the health center is so slow. I still see patients every Wednesday for Infant and Child Clinic and I'm there for the monthly Elderly Club meetings.  But other than that I don't do much at the health center these days. We have a new Medex (head of the health center) so it's been a little weird lately.  I miss the old Medex, we got a long well and worked together. 

Chelsea is starting a new program at her health center called Food for Healthy Babies and I'm excited to help out with that.  Her mom and brother are coming to visit next week and will be here for Thanksgiving. So we'll be having a similar Thanksgiving to last year just with her family. I'm looking forward to meeting them. 

I can't believe it's the holiday season already.  I'm trying not to think too much about it because I wish I was home.  I don't know what my plans are yet for Christmas but I'm sure we'll do something fun.  And then it's the new year, which is exciting!

My plans for after Peace Corps change daily.  We'll see where the wind blows....maybe it's good that I don't have a plan. 

Time is passing quickly. 

Today is Berna's birthday and I wish her a very happy birthday!!

I miss and love everyone.

Happy November

Friday, November 4, 2011

5 Girls in Tobago

We started off our vacation by making hand painted T-shirts to wear for our arrival in Tobago. None of us had ever made our own T-shirt before, it felt very spring breakish and they turned out so cute. Since our flight left at 5:30am and we had to leave Princess’s house at 2:30am we thought it best to stay up all night.

We arrived in Trinidad at 6:30am. We heard that a Subway was in the airport and we were so excited when we saw the green and yellow sign. Subway for breakfast was so good! Our flight for Tobago wasn’t until 12:30 but luckily we were able to get on an earlier flight, we were only in the air for 15 minutes and we arrived at our hotel at 10am. Our room wasn’t ready yet so we sat on the back porch of the restaurant, which was attached to the hotel and over looked the bay. We were pretty tired and just wanted to settle into our room and lay out on the beach. But tour guides kept coming up to us and asking if we wanted to book a tour, we told them we were only interested in going snorkeling. One guy came with all his brochures and Princess told him we didn’t have that much money. He ended up making us a deal, he would take us snorkeling and since it was a holiday he invited us to join him and his crew for a cook out dinner on the beach and than swimming at Nylon Pool (a sand bar out in the ocean). We talked it over and even though we were all tired we decided to do it, it would be a good experience to see what the locals do for fun.
When we got on the boat we were a little skeptical but we knew it would be okay. We went snorkeling, the water wasn’t so clear but it was still fun. Then we headed to the beach. We got a few looks from people but for the most part everyone was friendly and welcoming. They were grilling up fresh fish and let us eat it straight from the grill. Then they made duck curry and dumplings, I liked it, the curry was different than the curry in Guyana. Once the sun went down they packed up and we headed back out on the ocean. Nylon Pool was neat because we were in the middle of the ocean and the water came up to our thighs. The local people on the boat were having dance party, which was pretty funny to watch but I think we all thought, “Oh my, how do we get in these situations?” it was a little crazy. At this point we had been up for 40 hours and were beat. Once we got to the room we all passed out.

Grilled fish and duck curry 

We stayed at Miller’s Guest Hour and our room had 3 sets of bunk beds and a kitchen, it was just what we needed and it was nice to be able to cook most of our own meals.

Miller's Guest House

We rented a car for the day and drove around half of the island. It was beautiful and reminded me of Hawaii. The road was narrow and windy. I was excited to try and drive on the left hand side of the road but I waited until the road was not so narrow and curvy. It was weird and I didn’t feel that comfortable with it but I’m glad that I can now say I’ve driven on the opposite side of the road.

We named our car Pepper Ann

Weird to drive on the wrong side of the road

For Princess’s birthday we ended up eating at an Italian restaurant close to the Guest House. The food was amazing, probably the best Italian food I have ever had. The chef, who’s originally from Southern Italy came out to talk to us and gave us free appetizers. We were in food heaven!

During the day we’d pack a lunch and head down to the beach. The beach was pretty isolated and the water was so nice. In the evenings we sat outside, ate dinner, played cards and talked.

On Sunday night food and craft venders were out on the road. It was neat to walk around and look at the local crafts. For dinner we ate shark sandwiches, they were so good.

Monday was Halloween and we spent the day paddle boarding, reading and napping. At night we dressed up as the Spice Girls, making do with what we had and ate at the Italian restaurant again. People actually guessed that we were trying to be the Spice Girls.

We Left Tobago early Tuesday morning and instead of taking a plane back to Trinidad we took a 2 hour ferry ride. We were all impressed with how big and nice the ferry was. Then we had about 8 hours to kill in Trinidad since our flight back to Guyana wasn’t until 8:30pm. We decided to spend our time in a mall because Leighton and Heather really wanted McDonalds. Trinidad was really nice, very developed and modern. Becky and I walked around the mall a little and then ventured out to see what else we could find. We found a supermarket that was just like home and we were impressed by all the big buildings and apartments near the mall. It took us 2 hours to get to the airport because the traffic was really bad. Once at the airport we got Subway again, did a little souvenir shopping, and sadly boarded the plane back to Guyana.

I’m so grateful I got to spend 6 days with good friends on an island in the sun!
Leighton, Me, Becky, Princess, & Heather