Why 2012 is My Year

2011 has been a year of slow progress which I find frustrating in the day to day but that only leaves so much more for 2012 to accomplish!!

January- I have a hard time remembering that far back, I do know that I started my Buddhism in Science course at UVU and it changed my life!!

February- Listed my condo for sale. Bittersweet! It's still for sale & has been quite a process but hopefully the latest offer will go through!

Gradphoto

March- Mexican Cruise with one of my best friends & crossing off 'go on a cruise' from my bucket list!

April- Participated in the walking ceremony for my college graduation (but not actually graduating)

May- A trip to Northern California, nothing bring my spirits up like California!

June- I finished 1 of 2 math classes I need to ‘officially’ graduate

July- Going to Breckinridge Colorado with my family & playing with a dear friend I taught English with in Russia.

August- Started my last semester of attending college!

September- I had my 25th birthday & made a birthday list!

October- Had my first Halloween party & best scary season to date!

November- Spent thanksgiving with my family for the last time in who knows how long!

December- Finished the 2nd of my math classes I need to complete my degree and now I’m working on my senior thesis and then I’ll be ALL DONE!

 

Right now my main two focuses’ are:

-          finishing my senior thesis, to complete my degree

-          preparing financially to leave the country

What to expect in 2012

 Fun

Each year I like to dream of all the things I'm going to accomplish. However, I have NEVER been more excited for any single year of my life as I am for twenty twelve!

I WILL sell my condo. I live simply now (for the most part), but I can barely wait for the day when I move into a basement bedroom in the home of a dear friend. I love to de-clutter & lose excess material items.

I WILL finish my bachelor’s degree in Integrated Studies with emphases in History & Political Science.

I WILL no longer work in the Medicare insurance industry. However, it’s still undecided when we will no longer be needed at our location.

I WILL get a permanent front tooth! I embraced my toothless grin and the humor & conversation piece that it is. I’ll almost be as sad when I can’t share my inner-hillbilly at a moments notice, almost.

I WILL leave the United States to pursue my passion for travel and other cultures. I’ve got ideas of where I will go . As other factors begin to resolve themselves I will have a better idea of where & when.

___________________________________________________________________

There is loads of work to be done, plenty of patience to be had and even bigger moments ready to sweep me off my feet! 

I love getting to share my dreams and I’m thrilled you’re here to share what is sure to be one of the most thrilling years of my life!

 

Want to change the world for free? Now my friends and family can try Kiva for free!

Kiva sent me an e-mail today saying that my friends & family can become a Kiva lender for F-R-E-E!!

Just click on this link and follow the directions to start your own microloan.

I’ve decided to start a heathers harmony team, if you’re interested in becoming a kiva lender I’d consider it an honor to have you on my team!

What is Kiva?

 “A non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.”

How does Kiva work?

“Making a loan on Kiva is so simple that you may not realize how much work goes on behind the scenes.

Kiva works with microfinance institutions on five continents to provide loans to people without access to traditional banking systems. One hundred percent of your loan is sent to these microfinance institutions, which we call Field Partners, who administer the loans in the field.

Kiva relies on a world wide network of over 450 volunteers who work with our Field Partners, edit and translate borrower stories, and ensure the smooth operation of countless other Kiva programs.”

So What?

Since Kiva was founded in 2005:                                  We work with:

  • 663,922 Kiva lenders                                                   147 Field Partners
  • $271 million in loans                                                    450 volunteers around the world
  • 98.92% Repayment rate                                             61 different countries

To see daily updated statistics follow this link.

To read more about Kiva & my monthly loans you may go here.

3 signs of my expat life

Each year I choose one little word instead of setting new years resolutions, I will be sharing my one little word for 2012 soon. My word for 2011 is Synergy and I have added it as one of my post topics to share with you the signs of synergy in my life of becoming an expat.

Signsofsynergywinter 

1) Passing my Statistics class! Unfortunately my drive for learning math is very limited & while I worked hard it wasn't my best work and there was a worry in my mind that I might not pass. This would have resulted in re-taking the class which is a time commitment I can live without & it would cost $550 to re-take it so I am thrilled to have that step finished. Now all I have to do is finish my thesis on the Rwandan genocide and I will be finished with my degree in Integrated Studies with my emphases in History & Political Science.

2) my Christmas gifts  This year I had pretty specific gift ideas that I wanted that would help my dreams of traveling come true including:

- I also would like to read Rolf Potts book Vagabonding. It's going to be one of the books to accomplish my birthday goals! I ordered it from an online thrift store and it came with a personalized message from a son to his mom. I wonder if it helped and where she is now.

IMG_1134

 

- I wanted a scratch map but the one I found was too large to travel with me & I didn't think to look for one that was smaller or travel friendly and lucky me, my brother read my blog and found this one! I love my brother & my new map! I'm hoping he will start writing a monthly guest post, he is a very talented writer!

Prod1730075_av1

- I also got an external hard drive from my mother so I can start putting all the pictures, documents ect. on it to have a compy with me and leave one at home.

 3) It's almost 2012  and 2012 is going to be my year! This time next year I could be anywhere! I get asked a lot where I am going and at this point there are still a few loose ends that will play into where I go, so if I go straight to working overseas teaching english I will most likely be in South Korea but if I am able to travel a bit before needing a steady income then its anyones guess.

Still plenty more that needs to happen before I head out but every step little or small is one step closer to my dream!

snapshot saturday: Tradition Edition

I love traditions! I have to admit the adjustment from living at home as a teenager and living on my own as a young adult has helped me realize how much I love traditions and so I’ve started to make my own traditions. However I’ve also realized that traditions take commitment and so I’ve learned a few tricks to selecting which traditions I want to keep and some that just didn’t make the cut. 

These are three tips I like for deciding which traditions you want to maintain throughout the years to come.

1) Sentiment goes a long way. Traditions with a personal or sentimental value are more likely to last through the test of time. Otherwise it will get easier and easier for those participating to lose interest and the drive to fulfill the traditions year after year.

I collect ornaments for my Christmas tree when I travel. Now when I decorate my tree each year I remember all these amazing places I’ve been, who I was with, what I did the day I bought it and the stories behind the trip. It’s a fun and useful way to collect souvenirs and gives me something to look forward to during the sometimes lonely holiday season.

Christmas Scene

2) Not every tradition needs to be major. Include ‘little’ traditions like reading a book Christmas morning, watching a certain movie during the holiday season.

Each Thanksgiving day I watch the friend’s episode ‘with all the Thanksgivings’. Its about 30 minutes long and just what I need to get myself mentally ready for the day.

Another small tradition I have is to listen to River – Sarah McLachlan (Wintersong) – Watch more Videos at Vodpod. when I decorate my Christmas tree. It started from watching You've Got Mail and Meg Ryann talks about this song (the version by Joni Mitchell but I much prefer Sarah's version!) as she is decorating her tree and how much she loves and misses her mother and hangs a silver ice skate ornament. While visiting Minnisota I found a silver ice skate ornament and just had to get it! Can you see it in the picture above? (It's on the far right a little more than half up the tree)

3) Create flexible traditions. Maintaining traditions can be stressful especially the more stipulations you add and defined you make it. Instead of committing to something on a certain day (if the sentiment allows) opt for traditions that can adapt to your schedule each year.

I have made the tradition to watch White Christmas and Meet me in St. Louis during the holiday season. That way I don’t feel obligation on a given day or event & thus I can enjoy the tradition more when I get the craving for it. I've got an old soul, I just melt at the sound of Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. (just to name a few)

IMG_1133

I stumbled upon an article called Family Change: Don't Cancel the Holidays! on Psychology Today where they discuss the importance of having and maintaining traditions. They talk about how traditions mimic cultural traditions, but on a smaller scale. The community can be comprised of a myriad of family, friends, co-workers ect. and we create a sense of identity from our traditions and the community they create. When traditions end it can affect our psyche and can often bring a sense of loss.    

Without being a huge downer I will say I have definitely felt this, some of my favorite traditions have been lost in the shuffle of life and it breaks my heart a little (I'm wildly sentimental) so I’ve made sure that when I commit to a tradition, I make sure its one I can maintain and will be able to incorporate in my future… whatever and whoever that may include.

Happy holidays to you & yours!

How I came to spend Christmas Eve in Bethlehem

I spent my holiday break 2009 in Israel , My friend and classmate from Utah Valley University spent 2 weeks traveling through the West Bank, Jerusalem & Tel Aviv. We spent the Friday before Christmas protesting for peace & justice in Palestine and stayed in Bethlehem at the Bustan Qaraaqa permaculture farm  for quite a few days and celebrated Christmas Eve with new friends.

Even at Christmas time it doesn’t look much like Christmas in Palestine or Israel. This is because of the large Muslim and Jewish populations that most of the decorations (if any) are in businesses hoping to attract holiday tourists.

Gloriainexcelsisdeo

This cobblestone is located at Shepherds Field church in Beit Sahour just outside Bethlehem where many believe to be the ‘Shepherds Field’ where the star of Christ’s birth was seen.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:8-10)

I spent a day while staying at Bustan Qaraaqa visiting the traditional Christian sites of significance which was fun for me since I was raised in a Christian religion and even though I don’t practice a religion now it was exciting to see in person the places I’d always heard about.

Christmas Fruit Cake

I had my first Christmas fruit cake ever, completely soaked in liquor and while its not something I’d go out of my way to replicate it was awfully picturesque and iconic! Which I love! I also had rice pudding for the very first time, and decided to make a tradition of it rather than the fruit cake!

I had really been looking forward to staying at the permaculture farm and it turned out to be so much better than I had been imagining. I heard about the Christmas celebration at Mangers Square located by the Church of the Nativity (believed to be the birth place of Jesus Christ) and could hardly wait to be a part of it.

Christmas Eve

We then headed out to the celebrations and even had the opportunity to get there by walking through the Shepherds Field. Sentiment and significance were layed on thick which only made me all the happier.

 
Dancing in Bethlehem

Of course what is a party without some dancing? The benefit to staying at the permaculture farm is that they knew the locals and the locals love the non-locals almost as they love having a good time. By the time we got there we’d been joined by at least a dozen friends, AND while I was there my mom requested I bring her back a nativity set. how appropriate right?

Traveling Tip: Locals don’t pay what tourists do; I always recommend shopping with a local or asking for referrals and dropping their name. It’s almost always has benefitted me! So while I had a few around me I asked if they knew which shop I should go to, of course they knew a few shop owners and I got a smashing deal on a beautiful nativity set and my souvenir ornament.

Bethlehem Dancers & Audience

Something to know: Because a large majority of Palestinians are Muslim there is very little advertising that has visual stimulation (quite the opposite of most anywhere else you go) so when there is skin or sexuality displayed the men flock! A friend of mine told me while she was floating in the Dead Sea she was reading a German magazine with an attractive woman probably with a little cleavage and skin showing. It’s rare to see anything like this even available in the West Bank and my friend was offered money for her magazine.  Makes for a funny anecdote and when these dancers came on stage the men were all about it and the women in the crowd were all about laughing at the men. Now isn’t that how it usually goes? Notice all the cameras on the right side? haha

I’ve learned that the weight of experiences like this keep me going. I daydream about other moments like this and relish in the memories I’ve made.