I’m chipping away at my manuscript one daunting page at a time, but I’ve also been doing some continued hefty research on the topics it addresses. I’m interested in sharing what I’ve found this week in order to spark your thinking. I encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comments so that everyone can benefit from your point of view.
NOTE: If you’ve never considered that voluntourism can have negative effects, the following might be a hard pill to swallow. And if you’ve never considered service abroad to be problematic, I’m very glad you’ve decided to read this post. I wish I would have known about or considered these perspectives decades ago. Read More
Aside from the thrill that he remembered my silly convo starter from months back, I got another thrill. An idea. Perhaps I could bake bread! What was stopping me now from baking delicious bread, making my own sourdough starter, churning out some unique flavor combinations, and selling to friends? I had a home now. A working oven. I had time. And most importantly, I wasn’t worried about money just yet (that’ll come… thankfully I planned for this income drought). Read More
Iceland was one of those trips I set my mind to and willed company to follow. Thankfully, my brother was up for a very different kind of trip than his usual beach or city visit. And his daughter, my 8 year-old (now 9) niece. And finally my colleague and co-advisor from TGS. Somehow, our crew came together… different age groups, some strangers at first, novice and experienced travelers… and what transpired was truly enjoyable. Read More
I like the idea of New Year’s resolutions in the same way I like the idea of year-round goal setting and constant self-improvement. That was something I enjoyed about my two- to five-month stints abroad for work. My TGS terms sectioned life into manageable time periods in which I could feasibly take on challenges, improve skills, change habits, or assess a shift in my thinking from start to finish. I was always reflecting on the pre- and post- trip “me.”
For the last few years, I’ve chosen reading challenges on New Year’s, and for the last few years, I’ve fallen short of every resolution. 13 out of 20. 29 out of 40. If I counted all the books I started, then both years would have been “missions accomplished,” but what’s the point in cutting corners with personal challenges? Though we humans seem collectively terrible at keeping NYE resolutions (just observe gym attendance alone throughout the year), I don’t believe they’re made to be broken. Read More
Using Roxanne Gay’s 2013 AWP article as inspiration, I answered these questions for myself as an exercise of reflection in this somewhat solitary practice of writing. If you’re a writer looking to take stock of your own progress and engagement with writing, I encourage you to try this for yourself! It required me to put into words what I had been struggling to communicate with my friends and family regarding the third draft of my WIP and my new stationary writing life. Read More
When I left my job and the transient lifestyle, a lot of people were excited for me, albeit curious to see if I might get restless or bored in one place. I wondered the same but was convinced it was my time to test this settled life regardless.
Because for years, I struggled to leave my friends and family behind with every flight, even though I knew how lucky I was to be boarding those flights. Even though I liked where I was headed. And it was tiring—physically and emotionally—to pack up possessions that felt increasingly worthless and sleep in one more IKEA bed. Apparently all that movement, all those time zone changes, and many awkward nights of sleep gave me adrenal fatigue, amongst the effects of constant travel that could be measured or pinpointed. Read More
I recently came across an Instagram account called @nowhitesaviors, run by a collection of people from Uganda, Kenya, USA, and possibly more locales (some are anonymous). I spent the following two hours browsing their content and comments and going down the rabbit holes of articles they referenced, accounts they hope to educate for their wrongdoings, as well as accounts they support for their ethical storytelling and advocacy. Read More
I interpret these as supportive and encouraging questions—from people who have been cheering me on through the gestation of this book. But these questions also relate to the self-study of the publishing world that has consumed the “gap year” I just began, an industry and a process that surprises me regularly in its opacity and complexity. Read More
Yes, I think my new life started a month ago, on July 1st, when I officially closed out the three major experiences of my early adulthood: my 2.5-year stint in graduate school, my 7-year tenure at THINK Global School, and my 10-year lifestyle on the road.
In what felt like one swift Band-Aid tug—amidst what I tried to make a slow and smooth transition—I stopped becoming a nomadic educator and started the life of a stationary writer. It took me off-guard, that simultaneous and instantaneous change to my identity. Read More
My choice to stop traveling with TGS comes with a big implication: I will no longer be nomadic. Perhaps you might call it "settling down." I've always hated this concept because of what it implied: that I'm accepting a less desirable fate, pausing the whirlwind of my twenties and letting the dust settle in my thirties, that I'm hanging up my backpack and passport for good. I don't think any of these are the case.
Cover image by Ina B. Read More
So I read, adrenal fatigue appears to be a 21st century issue, in that the diminishment of real physical danger in our daily lives has manifested itself into a constant stress that treats all threats as equals. If this is the case, take me back to the days of subsistence farming, jumps in the swimming hole, and dinner by candlelight. I guess I want to be Amish! Or better yet, Fijian!
But obviously I've gained a tremendous amount from this active, dynamic life bouncing around the world. I'm trying to take it easy, give myself a break before Botswana amps up, but as my previous list indicates, I treat "breaks" like stolen time. I will fill the time I have, a compulsive little worker pumped with caffeine to complement a puny trickle of cortisol.
Parkinson's Law, they call it. Well, C.N. Parkinson has officially taken over my wet, hot, American summer break. And even if that means more of this compulsive, fight or flight mode, as long as I have a finished book by next February, I'm fine with that. Read More
I'm watching the Vancouver Marathon from my apartment window and giggling as seagulls drift by at eye-level. Canada represents my final destination of this academic year, and though it was an exciting year and an important one for my own growth, I am glad it's behind me.
Traveling with a math expert this year introduced me to the beauty of slow data. With every car ride or room change, she plugged miles traversed or beds switched into a spreadsheet. By the end of 220 days "on the road," she presented to us the impressive numbers of our #cdtravels:
- 110,745 kilometers of transit = 2.76 times around the world
- Total hours on planes, trains & automobiles (not layovers or wait time): 246 hours / 6 work weeks
- 50 beds roughly, averaging 4.4 nights per bed
If you're wondering why I spent the last year making an epic carbon footprint (not proud of that), take a peek at the TGS Changemaker Program and read my post on this curriculum development mission. If you're not sure how I went from travel media to writing curriculum documents for a high school, I understand your confusion. It surprised me, too. Here's something on my evolution.
Last year at this time, I was living in Florence, Italy with THINK Global School, plugging away at graduate school and enjoying as stable a lifestyle as I've achieved in the last decade. Between then and now, I changed jobs, visited ten countries, and wrote two years of projects with three colleagues.
Here's what it was like... Read More
Two months have passed, and I still don't know how I feel about America's new leadership, about the media outlets that edit and influence, about all the subsequent rhetoric and activism, about what constitutes a responsible citizen or, better yet, a content human being.
No answers came to me in that hiatus from informative networks for how I care to deal with differences of opinion that assume the guise—and sometimes form—of an attack. Walking away from a piece of writing seems to provide clarity of thought upon one's return, so why not this? In fact, I feel I distanced myself from dialogue to the point where I've lost sight of my convictions, especially as they continue to face the steady deluge of challenges brought on by world travel, by trying to be open to new and sometimes contradicting perspectives. Read More
On August 1st, I started my new job, and I could use your help, if you're interested.
After five years of living in thirteen countries, I'm saying goodbye to the Media Specialist position at THINK Global School. I'm 90% energized to move forward and 10% nostalgic for the sweetest job on the planet.
Featured photo courtesy of Liisa Toomus Read More
Together, we ignore the folk music that fills every conversation gap and develop our bitter coffee breath. Turtle-Neck nudges the stool where my feet rest and quickly apologies with a wave. I crack a full smile, eager to be acknowledged, quick to prove I’m open to chatter myself, though we exchange none. The Daydreamer folds his paper and stands to deliver 1 KM to the bar for his espresso before walking out the door. He waits a beat before turning right, then walks straight towards his car. I notice the others don’t question his departure. He backtracks to the edge of the patio and turns left to saunter by the rest of the shops on the ground floor, hands in pockets–breaking for oxygen, I imagine. The patio door swings open again, and the newest member lifts a cheek onto a stool, pulling his Marlboros from a pocket as first order of business. Read More
I continue to mull over my initial impressions of this city as they compare to my pre-conceptions without extensive research. How do I explain the feeling of dropping into a new city whose energy I don't know? What are the true risks to safety? Where's the highest concentration of lively people, impressive food, and gorgeous architecture? What does life feel like in this city, and how ever-present is the memory of its recent war? Read More
I keep erasing the opening sentence of this blog because I don't know who I'm addressing. You, my audience, are unknown to me, but I know I have something to tell you. I know it's time to update you on what has changed since I last applied the necessary time and effort on Nomadderwhere this summer, and now is as good a time as any, here in the Air France lounge at Washington Dulles airport. I have three more hours until my plane departs for Vermont. Read More
Each streak garnered the same reaction. The crowd grew, feed still with fingers pointing to the sky. And then a streak became a band, a dim bow across the sky above that slowly grew in intensity. We were babies bouncing under a green headband in the sky. Read More
To my knowledge, there is no perfect equation that all can use in order to strike that balance between experience and processing time. Homework, books, projects, trips, community building, sports, and other desires or pressures will tug at one’s attention and make it difficult to prioritize processing time for maximum personal benefit.
Over my years on the road, I have witnessed in people who prioritize - even slightly - the documentation of their experiences:
- more emotional stability
- more ease with forming concluding thoughts about a place or experience
- more clarity in drive or future path
It will take time to experiment with travel writing techniques in order to access inner thoughts, make the most meaning out of your world experiences, and utilize time most wisely for maximum gain. That time, however, will be fun and rewarding. Read More
I had heavenly expectations of the highland air. I thought it would be uncommonly sweet, a cold drink of water for my lungs. Instead, the air I invited in smelled like fresh biology, life and death but more of the former. Somewhere nearby, there was undoubtedly a cow sweating, a rooster breathing heavily, an earthworm realizing it could now slither back underground. From a 1st floor window, I sucked up all that biology in a moment of wonder and discovery, in the specialness of a start. Read More