How I Grew When Life’s Game Plan Changed

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A chapter in my life closed, abruptly, before I really knew how to process my reality and the emotions that would follow a faint goodbye. A month has passed since I moved back to Florida after believing I’d be gone for nearly 2 years.

Plans changed. My roadmap of what my life was SUPPOSE to look like shifted. Being able to write and share that it’ll all work out has given me peace within this chaos of grieving and starting over.

When I chose to go into Peace Corps almost a year ago now, I thought I had found my calling and I knew exactly what I was suppose to do; I was going to be of service to others. I had a glow in me for months before I left, a glow that is hard to describe to this day. Then, one day, I woke up and that spark in me was gone. It faded slowly over time until I didn’t recognize myself, my habits, or my new day to day behaviors. I was going against my intuition at so many turns, and my heart and mind weren’t on the same page. My heart wanted to stay, to serve, to love, to give, to be, but my rational fears were greater. So I broke my own heart, in order to follow what I knew to be right for me. I see now, no one was benefiting from that. 

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to talk about my Peace Corps experience in its entirety because although I left, it doesn’t mean I don’t wonder. I wonder about the people, the work I did, my school, and my kids. I wonder if anything I did stuck or mattered. I wonder if I was of service. I wonder if things could have been different had I spoken up sooner. I’m human and I wonder, a lot. I spend nights awake, hoping that I’m moving in the right direction, hoping that I am taking care of myself.

But as my mind runs wild, I try to calm it.

Knowing that the ‘what if’ game is torture to every inch of me.

What have I learned from starting over again?

I’ve learned, I need to trust my intuition and protect my well-being.

I can be strong by being vulnerable, asking for help, and accepting that sometimes I need a hand to hold onto.

I don’t need to justify my reasons or prove myself to anyone. I know my truths. 

My self-worth is not equated with my accomplishments, titles, or roles. I’m enough, worthy, and loved for just being me. I am enough and I’m free of the burdens to be something I’m not.

This is not a failure for me, this was part of the plan. I did something I had always wanted to do and I did my very best, but there were factors out of my own control, ones I couldn’t live with. So instead of having to justify anything or belittling my time away, I’ve learned to love my experience for all that it was. I even love the parts that left me a little bruised and fragile because it’s allowed me to rebuild stronger, fuller and better than before.

I don’t know what’s next or what tomorrow holds, but I do know that I am stronger now because I am choosing to just be. I do know that it’s dark before the dawn, and this life really is sweet, even when it’s heavy.

Reflection: 2 Weeks Living in St Lucia & Peace Corps Training

Reflection: 2 Weeks Living in St Lucia & Peace Corps Training

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who has reached out to me, wished me well, celebrated with me, helped me pack, and has been rooting for while on this journey. I already knew my family and friends were special, but now I’m blown away by how beautiful, deep, and loving all the relationships in my life are. So thank you again and be sure to follow along the Doer’s Diary on IG!

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On July 2nd, I picked up my life along with 39 other volunteers to move to St. Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean (Grenada, St. Vincent, and Dominica) for the next 27 months. I’m currently in phase one of training for 4 weeks in Babonneau, St. Lucia to become a Primary English Literacy Specialist Volunteer with the Peace Corps to focus on promoting literacy in primary/infant schools. On August 2nd, I will find out what island I’ll be living on for the next two years and that’s where I’ll be for phase 2 and 3 of my training before being sworn in in October. I’ll spend the reminder of my service working at the same school for two years and during that time, I’ll focus on integrating with the community, making lifelong connections, and working with fellow teachers and kiddos from grades 1-3. 

For more information on the volunteers and programs in the Eastern Caribbean!

After weeks of packing up my townhouse, moving 95% of my belonging into a storage unit, and the other 5% in to my mom and stepdad’s house, leaving for the Peace Corps was upon us. I had to fit everything I could possibly need (and then some) into 2 suitcases with a max weight limit of 50 lbs each and one carry on. Let me tell you, that carry was a hiking backpack that weighed as much as I do. The backpack I used was a god-sent, and a best seller on amazon. So check it out, fellow travelers.  

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Packing in and of itself was consuming, and I am currently working on a packing guide once I get settled into the island I’ll be serving on, so I save future volunteers from packing too much or not enough.

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After my first three days of orientation on the island, all the trainees left the comfort of each other’s presence to move into our host family’s homes.

This is where the real fun began. You know the saying: “growth only occurs outside of your comfort zone,” whoever said that definitely knew what they were talking about.

The embrace and instant love I felt from my host mom made me feel so welcomed in a new environment. I quickly jumped into learning about my surroundings— exploring her extensive garden filled with pineapples, limes, lemons, cashews, Chinese cabbage, coconuts, plantains and the list goes on, learning a new language, adapting to new norms, and being on a whole new level of integration into a culture I could have only dreamed of. My heart is filled with so much gratitude for my host mom opening her home to me, and the people of St. Lucia for being so welcoming and kind as I ask a million questions and learn as much as I can. 

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Once I moved into my host family’s beautiful home in Babboneau, I struggled for a few days— feeling the loss of all the things and people I had been comforted by in my typical days back in the states. I cried, I shed my walls, and saw a newer, more open and vulnerable side of myself that I was willing to share with other trainees, my host mom, and my family back home. I began to realize how important this time was— I had shed my ego and left my masks to hide who I truly am back home. It’s been so humbling to just be me, and that’s enough. 

I am not immune to the desire for consistency and normalcy, but I have felt a lightness in my heart that has allowed me to be fully present and loving.

Day by day, I learn how we are all more alike than different, and how loving one another is our most powerful tool.

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Our first week of training flew by so quickly, with amble information on culture, diversity, inclusion, medical procedures, consolidation routes, hurricane tips, and so forth. My head could spin looking back at all my notes, but I’ve learned more about my role in development and leaving judgements at the door. Hearing the point of views from fellow trainees and staff has been such an eye-opening experience, to be more receptive and transparent in my endeavor to inspire and connect with others. I have been able to make so many wonderful friendships that are already starting to blossom, so for now, I’m living each day to the fullest and on Monday, I’ll be hiking with all my friends to the Sulphur Springs in St Lucia, the Gros Piton which is the world’s only drive-in volcano. So stay tuned for a packing guide for Peace Corps EC and Hiking Guides. . .

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I made it on local news in St Lucia where Peace Corps Volunteer share their stories!

Please feel free to reach out, ask questions, and connect. Thanks for being a Doer and enjoy one of my favorite quotes!

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