Most of the contents of my vision board consist of words and places. Affirmations and sights, sunsets, oceans, and landmarks whose awe call onlookers from around the globe. I have been thinking hard (and feeling hard) about “What’s next” and for the life of me I can’t decide. What would I love to do most? Travel the world, take pictures, write about experiences.  Wouldn’t people care about a thing like that?

I keep trying to convince myself that I could have enough of the things I crave if I just took a faculty job. There would be summers to travel, to write…and you would get to teach and learn and grow, in fact it would be your job to do so! Something about it just feels wrong for me. Something I can’t seem to shake.

October 2011 I made a vow to myself not to give money more power than was necessary. Money is a tool, not a dictator; stop allowing it to determine what you can and cannot do, see, and experience. Then today I was reading a message from Necole Bitchie where she posted:

Travel while you are young and able.
Don’t worry about the money, just make it work.
Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.

Following an account of how her travels renewed her spirit, I felt the pull even more to just GO. There are bills though, and responsibilities, and student loans to repay and…so I have to figure out a way to merge my skills and my passions and figure out what demand they fill in this world.  Necole also saw fit to make a bucket list for the year. Things she would like to accomplish. Right now I have about five things on mine:

  1. Buy a camera and a laptop
  2. Get back to Jamaica.
  3. Go somewhere new–solo
    Taking photos
    Meeting new people along the way
  4. Get in better physical shape
  5. Publish my book

Granted “make significant progress on my dissertation” is not on there, but that too. So much of my work has to do with my own process, my own work, addressing my own needs and staring down my own fears so that I can show up authentically in my spaces.

It is, perhaps, my biggest fear that I never become all that I feel I could be…that I know at least on some level I could be. So many people take the safe route, the one with the predictable life of comfort. I do not fault nor blame them, I just know in my bones that is not my path. No matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise. Faith is putting one foot in front of the other trusting that the ground will not give way, and if it does my wings will spread.

I never wanted a home before my third act. What would I fill it with?  Pinterest-able sconces, candles and color schemes, trinkets with no function, or meaning. No…I never wanted that. I wanted a home with a story. Evidence of a life well lived and adventures sought through.  Smells to remind me of the places, photos to show me the people, fabrics and spices to tell the stories. What use is a home if not to hold your treasures? I don’t want to run forever, and when all is said, I want that home to also be filled with love and a family I just do not believe I’m quite ready to take root. Just like I had to change my work to move, I need my life to do the same.  IMG_9730

Jess’ Jamaican Diary entry 1

It’s been a crazy 72 hours. Though, I think things were in uproar before I even left Atlanta. I’ll start from Jamaica though. After a million hour redeye flight (thanks DCam–joking…sort of…) I arrived in easily my new favorite place. After seeing Silver Sands, I was overjoyed that I invited friends down so that I get to share this place with people I love. It’s that kind of a spot.

It’s 6am…the fact that I am up, alert, and writing is a testament to the beauty of this place. Because the sun wakes up around 4:30am from what I can tell, because by 5 there was a beautifully lit sky sitting atop the Caribbean Sea right outside my bedroom window. When you wake up to a scene like that, sleep isn’t as tempting as it usually is.

I had my duck on while I’ve been here…calm cool and collected on the surface but paddling like hell to just stay afloat underneath. My emotions were in an uproar and everything felt urgent and worty-of-sharing. Unfortunately P2AD boar the brunt of my wrath. I couldn’t figure out why I was so triggered until I had literally unloaded everything. Then I realized…this was residual from Summer 2011. I had to remind myself that this was not that. That I was in a new place now, and that even though the scene felt familiar, this was not history repeating itself. When I literally said these words to myself, it is like I came out of the tailspin nosedive and leveled out, instantly. Then I had to suck the poison out, a la Mean Girls, and apologize (profusely and adamantly) to P2AD.

I didn’t explain to him the ins and outs…I didn’t want to tell that story. But afterwards, he said there was no need, I was just working through my emotions, and assured me that I wasn’t as nuts as I think I was. He’s wrong, but I am glad he let it go.

After settling score, I got to tell him about Shantal* teaching me local Jamaican phrases, how I am considering resigning my vegetarianism, and my new love of 5am. It’s an odd thing…I am in this beautiful place but the capacity in which I came puts me in an in-between. What I just realized in typing this is that Chile, my last trip abroad, was also liminal. Something about travel seemingly begets transition. Hm. Anyway, so I am here as a teaching assistant for the Counseling program. It’s weird because the other instructors, all male, are all together in a villa and I am here with students. Although my “students” are my age it is still felt that my role…my space, if you will, holds differently than theirs. But it is not a bad thing, or a good thing, just an observation. Something that makes me wonder about my role within the walls of school…because I believe you always bring your whole self into a place, I wonder how teacher me has affected student me in the classroom and with my peers.

Lastly, I have had the pleasure of several walks (in the hot Jamaican sun) around the property by myself. Often heading from one meeting to another, but solo nonetheless. In these, my thinking times, I’ve gotten to just be 6. Kick rocks, and make up stories about the guests staying in different villas. Dream up how each house earned its name. Admire the art and wonder what I can leave here as my small contribution.

I had this thought yesterday that we are going to leave with so much, what are we going to reciprocate? Not just stimulation to the local economy, tips for our house moms, bartenders, route taxi drivers, and the like, but what thing of real substance can we offer this community? Immediately a list of intangibles: gratitude, appreciation, humility…but I think the real thing I may be leaving are a few definitive limits. What and who is beautiful, what and who are poetic, lyrical, worthy to be a muse. What and who is acceptable, rich, and admirable.

Shantal told me last night that she requested to work every day because she needs the money to finish building her home. She has two sons and her home will be a 2 bed room, 2 bathroom home that right now does not have a roof. Initially, my instinct was akin to Liz Gilbert’s, I wondered what I could do to help. Then after sitting for a minute I wanted less to help, and more to just admire her hustle. Not everyone steps up to the plate like that, even when life is demanding they do. No going out, no new shoes, no trips, she said, every extra dime I get I save for the house. And she’s not paying a contractor, she told me she was contracting herself, finding builders who could do it at the price she could afford. It made me smile to hear her story. It reminded me of a conversation with my mom before I left home. She was talking about how hard it’d been to cut this crown molding trim for the rooms she is painting in the house. I asked her why she didn’t just get the Home Depot people to do it for her, and she just looked at me quizzically and said, because I can do it myself. And while I definitely will not be cutting up crown molding, there are other things that I can do, and should not be afraid to try to do, even if I haven’t yet figured out how. That, I think, is being in the arena…getting your butt kicked.

*Shantal is the bartender on the property, obviously we became friends early on. Judge not, lest ye too be judged.

A Liminal New Year

Let us just begin by stating that prior to Zachary, I had never even heard of the word ‘liminal’ and now I am using it to describe a very real phenomenon.  Not sure that I have mentioned, but I will be travelling to Santiago, Chile soon.  I am going for a class but will be leaving on December 31st and arriving in Chile on January 1. What this means is that I will be “in between” when the new year rings in.  It dawned on me just yesterday that this was less of a hinderance (because New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday and how dreadful to be on a plane instead of celebrating–to further this aside, many have tried to argue that I will be on a plane…heading to CHILE but that, to me, did not negate the fact that I’ll be covered in strangers’ germs and peanut salt rather than glitter and champagne residue) and more amazing happenstance.

Before I continue, a lesson on liminality. From what I understand of it, it is literally a state that exists in between two readily identifiable places; one of a past way (which you have left) and one of a way yet to be (which you have yet to embody, fully).  Zachary calls it the third space. I think of it as grey.  In any case, because of the time differences when travelling, I will be in-between many things:

  • Places–> North and South America, home and destination
  • Times–> time..I’ll move through december on into january and out of 2012 on into 2013, plus time zones–I mean will I fly right through Midnight? Just goes to show how menial and contrived these things really are..
  • Space–> What else would you describe 30,000 feet as?

When I reframed my thinking and realized that this trip will be an extraordinary opportunity to experience simultaneous multidimensional liminal states, I can’t lie I got pretty excited. Zachary described it as magical, and I suppose that in large part I see it the same way. Talk about falling down the rabbit hole…but I wondered (aloud, and to him) what it means that I’ve found myself set up for this experience? Surely it is no coincidence  and of course many people do this sort of thing often, but I wonder if they consider it as phenomenal?  I wonder what it means for me, for the trajectory of my life and my being, for my work (academic and otherwise)?

Of course, there are the normal things to be excited about…its my first time out of the country (out of the CONTINENT/ HEMISPHERE), it’s going to be summer in Chile (not that winter in San Diego is anything to complain about.  I am going to get to take amazing photos which is something I do not do enough of these days. I am also going to get to be learning about change within educational policy.

Honestly though, I am most excited that I am going. What I mean by that is that the trip is booked. My flight is booked. I did not allow myself to see  any other option other than going and I set my intentions to making it happen. I faced any problems head on and kept insisting that I was going. I’ve been working really hard at not letting money be a barrier and it seems to be paying off. This new mindset is foreign and taxing, to be honest, but I am seeing how trust in a way much more knowledgeable than I really works.

Now, I need to brush up on my spanish:-/



…its the hotel lobby and…

Ok so SHHHH I’m supposed to be working as always, and let me go ahead and warn you guys that this is NOT a kid-friendly post. So I’m watching Regis and Kelly today and Mark is in for Reg.  I love when Kelly and her Hubby host because they’re so cute, and I’m seriously kind of waiting for Regis to keel over and errrrr….retire so that Mark can take his place.  Moving on so they were talking about an odd place they’ve had sex and the answer was “A hotel lobby in Capri.” Now….thats so hot. I immediately text Deeds and damn near booked a trip. (This, GOD, is why I don’t have a credit card).  But, incidentally Deeds and I want to travel to Capri !! Here’s the hotel that I picked:

Hotel Punta Tragara

And I looked all over the website but I have no clue what the lobby looks like…yeah I’m messy LOL…but now I feel like I have to have sex with my boyfriend in the lobby of the Hotel. MESSYYYY I don’t care I don’t care Kelly Ripa did it and so shall Iiiiiiiii.  Judge me all day long but if you sit there and tell me that you wouldn’t have sex with the man (or woman) you love in a beautiful location such as this, you are a damn lie. UMPH…yeah…*TDP bizness dance*