Leaving on a Jet Plane

Eating a quick breakfast along the Delaware with new friends Patty and Brittney

Today I fly away, not sure when I’ll be back again.  Spent all of yesterday getting to know my new “tribe.”  Peace Corps folks are 100% amazing; I feel absolutely at home and as if I’ve known them all my life.  It is so good to be with a group of people who dreams the same dream, yet is comprised of individuals with very different reasons for attaining that dream.  It just confirmed for me that I have made the right choice and I am headed down the path my soul was made to journey.  Know that I amso sohappy and comfortable within my skin today as I head off into the horizon.

A Blessing for the Journey

This morning a gathering of good and generous souls set me in their midst and laid their gentle hands upon me.  A sacred blessing and many heartfelt salutations;  a sense of serenity and holiness pervades and sustains as I make the first step on this long-awaited journey:

Here I am,
I’m waiting for a better day
A second chance
A little luck to come my way
A hope to dream, a hope that I can sleep again
And wake in the world with a clear conscience and clean hands
‘Cause all that you have is your soul
So don’t be tempted by the shiny apple
 Don’t you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a world of truth
‘Cause all that you have is your soul

                            – Tracy Chapman 

Thank you IUCC – you are my forever family

It’s Not Over til the Fat Lady Sings, Oh Lord!

My once seemingly boundless months of self-imposed limbo are just about to end.  From that day in February 2011 when I impulsively clicked the “Life is calling…Where will you go?” banner on some long-forgotten job site, my life has been suspended as if sheathed in amber.  I perfectly preserved my past by not making any forward movement.  Life has been frozen in time, having been effectively iced  that unforgettable day when I was “sent home” from my job of twenty years by a newly empowered board member ensconced in the driver’s seat who disapproved of my professional style (or lack thereof, according to her.)

In retrospect, a bit of the impetus for taking the leap and actually completing the mind-numbingly detailed and protracted Peace Corps application was an acrid bitterness that was poisoning my perspective on just about everything in my world.  I was bitter about politics and the crushing disappointment of an Obama presidency that didn’t deliver on the promise of hope.  I was bitter about diligently and painstakingly constructing my own professional sand castle only to have it swept away in the tumultuous wake of fallout swirling after the former CEO’s decade of mismanagement and neglect.  I was angry about my husband being fired by a pompous, self-aggrandizing fool who couldn’t admit to making a mistake.  I was frustrated by suburban exile masking itself as upper-middle class success; I was alone in my house and most days on my street with little sense of community or even partaking in the human race.  I couldn’t find a job opening that piqued my interest; the only roles I seemed (on paper, at least) qualified to fill involved sitting in an office staring at a computer screen.  I was furious at the arrogant greedy bastards raping our economy on one hand while delivering lectures on entitlement and the meritorious class with the other. I had ten years of mortgage payments remaining on a condo that was sliding into disrepair while my daughter was graduating from Berkeley into an apparently limitless blue sky that had disappeared from my radar decades ago.  Yeah, I was bitter.

So I clicked.  And here I go.  Amazingly enough, though, just by taking the leap I have been immersed in a powerful new radiance, an continuous, serial affirmation that is the best reward for having faith in my ability to remake my world .  In urging us to take that first step to follow our dreams, Goethe reminds us that “boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”  Every step of the way on this journey, I have been sustained and propelled by the encouragement and excitement and validation of friends, family and even strangers.  It has been as if every single person whom I encounter is there to encourage me, reassure me and celebrate the journey upon which I’m embarking.

Since the first weekend of May (just about five weeks prior to my scheduled departure date,) I have been showered with gatherings of love, laughter and cheers .  So – just so I never, ever forget even one moment of this precious time that is so quickly slipping through my fingers – let me shout out my fervent appreciation and bottomless affection for (in order of memorable event)

All the beautiful, wise and generous women who attended the Pilgrim Pines Retreat: Some of you I have grown incredibly close to over the past four years; a few of you I met for the first time.  All of you were integral to the peace and energy of that weekend in that sacred space.  (Not to mention the belly laughter in the circle on the cabin floor after 10pm….)

My serene hippie soul mate, Rhonda who finally lured me back to the stupendous northern coast and sat me down amongst those majestic redwoods and breathed life back into my gypsy yearnings.  Thank you so much for reinvigorating my inexplicable attraction to that land and resurfacing what I’ve neglected within myself for too long.

Charlaine, my mother-crone, my bridge who gifted me a weekend on a cruise ship, all expenses paid, with a generous helping of wisdom from the perspective of her years.  There is nothing in my life as clear and uncomplicated and absolutely unconditional as your love.  Everyone woman in the world should have a mother like you.

Bart, the soul-searching poet whose poignant verse gives voice to the restless longings of my heart; our three day conversation is still resonating within me.  You and I have been there for each other through so many cycles of life; we have always recognized each other’s true face.  It is so damn good to be your friend.

My savvy sister (ok, in-law) Andee who shared my last plate of sushi: You WILL NOT let me get away with one iota less than what you assure me I deserve, sweet thing.  I love you for having my back – and front and bottom and top.  No one can cut through the rapids and navigate the swirling eddies of emotional helplessness more deftly than you.  I may be older but you are sneaking up on wiser, sis.

The Canyon Acres Crew Susan and Tracy and Jill and Mo and Diana and Mike and Gina (and Gigi, inabsentia,) who took over the Fullerton Crowne Plaza and sang “The Piano Man” with gusto and downed kamikazes and tequila shots in memory of the crazy counselors we once were.  You all are a living testament to the love we poured out for abused kids and a worthy cause and a beaucolic five acres “nestled in a canyon;” we have been through thick and thin and gone to hell and back for each other.  You are my forever posse and will be there for me raising the roof and your glasses high until I die.  (And I expect to be there in cardboard cutout for every single camping trip!!!)

My stunningly beautiful grandmother, Lorraine who reminds me to breathe in every moment, to appreciate the richness of sitting in the Ritz Carlton’s lobby just to people watch, who never fails to bring me back into the powerful experience of ‘now’ through the gentle refrain: This Is A Good Moment. All my life, you have been the guardian angel of my soul.

Anne, my icon of incisive wit and poser of confounding conundrums, your relentlessly probing questions, the hours and weeks and months (is it years, now?) of sustained conversation, the virtual universe of our digital exchanges (can’t forget your declared preference, my dear!) have brought me – finally – to a place of unwavering resolution.  You have believed in my quest from the beginning; you know every twist and bump and ditch and detour of the path I’ve traveled to get here.  I couldn’t have asked for a wiser, more compassionate fellow sojourner.  A big hug to you and Edward for ALL the wonderful meals.

My spiritual guides, inspirations, and cheerleader, thank you ladies for a beautiful evening: Teri, proudly 70 mother of nine, who joined AmeriCorps at 62? 63? You continue to amaze me with your ability to hike faster than me, live so exuberantly and passionately, embrace new experiences and always find the silver lining; Sarah, for being so damn wise and adventuresome (and for already having joined a circus) at twenty-one years of age – world, watch out! Here she comes; Elizabeth, for being my original inspiration for joining the Peace Corps. In the desert of Orange County, through the example of your life, you presented me with a startling whirlwind of new options.  I wouldn’t have imagined this, without meeting you.  And Robinmarie, you are always out in front of me, leading the way.  Your flowing spirit has given solace to my stormy soul; thank you so much for your willingness to cry with me, laugh with me, and imagine new beginnings for us both.

Despite having been unemployed for 20 months now, letting go of my home and possessions and now, at last, my country, my life is crazy full of abundance. Bitterness, anger, frustration, and fury are a distant memory. I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world with the love and blessings of all of you buoying me up as I fly away.  I can never hope to convey what a beautiful gift you all are to me.

And wow,

does the road uphead look promising…

Ce mai faceti?

Not knowing how to put the extra Romanian letters (there are five of them) on my English keyboard, I will have to make do with a rough approximation of “How are you?”  This literally translates to “What more you do?” – one of those confusing things about trying to capture the idioms of another language.  I have been working my way through a series of Romanian lessons during the last week; it has been enormously helpful to just listen to the way native speakers pronounce words.  There are a bunch of sounds – schwe, tsi, a very long and deep “ew” that you don’t hear very much or at all in English.  It has a lyrical cadence and musicality to it that makes it quite beautiful to listen to.  Of course, once I’m in Moldova and people are speaking a mile a minute it probably won’t seem so enjoyable.

It is marvelous having Facebook and blogs and email, I must say, as I already am acquainted with many of the current volunteers in country and have received a ton of information about packing and electronics and communications and traveling and food.  I’ve seen YouTube videos of volunteers’ housing and host families and been given a briefing on the Community Development work projects. It feels a bit like cheating, though.  Nothing like the experience of a PCV who signed up ten or twenty years ago, I’m sure, when you got on a plane with little to no idea of where you were headed or what your life would be like for the next 27 months.

I’m starting to add some current Peace Corps blogs I’m following under my “links” heading.  Many of them are quite funny and very informative about life in Moldova.  It doesn’t look all that different from here, actually.  Certainly not as depressed or poor as places I visited in Central or South America.  I do understand it gets very, very cold though.  Anyone have good brands of raingear or winter coats to recommend?

Destination: Moldova!

On Wednesday morning, I woke up and somehow just knew: Today is the day! I actually posted some musings on the topic before making the drive to my parents house – my “official” Peace Corps address.  Little bro wanted some help with a resume and I might as well make myself available for news to find me.  Around 3:00, my dad called up the stairs: Your package is here!  And everyone in the house – parents, grandmother, two brothers (and Zoe the dog) gathered round as I slid the paperwork out of the UPS envelope…..MOLDOVA!!!

That I am going to Moldova is another element in a long string of coincidences and serendipity that have trailed me since deciding to enter the Peace Corps.  My initial meeting was with a delightful recruiter who had served his two years in that country.  When I related this to my husband, he immediately locked onto the name – liking the way it rolls off the tongue while still conveying the mystery of a former Soviet state.  From that point on whenever I speculated about my country assignment, he always maintained that I was going to Moldova.  So I have a psychological – if not actual – familiarity with the country that leaves me not the least bit apprehensive about my departure.

Now I am faced with a daunting number of tasks to cross of my list: new passport, additional writing assignments, final health appointments, new wardrobe (I’m not living in sunny SoCal no more!) gathering personal effects, obtaining good luggage, granting Power of Attorney (doesn’t that sound official), transferring voting registration, etc. I can’t imagine being able to plan and pack effectively while trying to work full-time or complete finals for school – I am so lucky to have this time to focus.