Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Beginning of a New Year!

After spending nine days at home for the holidays, a five and half hour flight to Hawaii, a three hour layover, almost missing my flight because Hawaiian Airlines wanted to beat President Obama out of the airport in Hawaii, and an hour left of my almost six hour flight back to American Samoa I’ve had some time to reflect on this past year. Here is what I’ve come up with so far:
·         February: swam personal best and season best times in my last swim meet of my college career and earned my fourth year letter.
·         March: traveled to Long Beach, California for spring break and won an international business competition (that I spent hundreds of hours working) while taking the maximum credits and recovering from post concussive syndrome.
·         May: after failing my midterms from my post concussive syndrome, graduated with honors with my degree in business accounting and a religion minor.
·         July: six weeks after graduation, moved to American Samoa and taught accounting and record keeping to high school to wild animals and became an advisor for an after school business club.
·         December: home for Christmas to be with family and friends for the holidays- Thanks Grandma!
What a year full of great life experiences and opportunities! Needless to say I’ve learned a lot. Each of us only has this one wild and precious life (thanks PLU for your mission statement) and I intend to live up each day. My decision to come to American Samoa was impulsive but it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s taught me to live simply, appreciate the little successes, stop and smell the roses, not be afraid to try new things, RELAX, find peace, and to realize what is important in life. I’ve met some amazingly wonderful people who have deeply enriched my life. I’ll admit that I did come to “find myself,” selfish I know, but, believe it or not, I’ve learned to become selfless, thanks to my kids. I’ve taken down the walls that I had built up and am learning/allowing myself to be comfortable in expressing my emotions.  My 140 student give me hell and I often hate them, but yet love them with all my heart.
 What an adventure 2011 was! I would like to thank everyone (family, friends, swim family, professors, Worldteach, etc.) who has made this year the best one yet! I can’t image what this New Year will hold and I’m excited to find out!
Here are my thoughts regarding my resolutions for this coming year:
·         Like everyone else, lose weight. For some reason I thought I could just sweat my pounds off, but apparently just sitting in 100 degree weather doesn’t cut it.  I’ve been told “island weight” comes off easy, we’ll see about that! I purchased new running shoes and an ipod (my sweat broke my last one) to begin the battle.
·         Figure out what the heck to do with my life once my volunteer contract is up in June. I fantasize about all the different things I could do but I need a realistic plan!
o   If I do move back home permanently, I hope I forget everything that I’ve learned living on the “rock.”
·         Continue to put myself in challenging and uncomfortable situations so that I can become a stronger and better person. Never settle and get too comfortable.
·         Don’t go too broke.
·         American Samoa things to do: get over my open water phobia, climb Matafo, go to Manu’a, go to Samoa again, FBLAS be successful, have my students become more active in class, improve my Samoan, etc.
·         Not to lose sight of what is important- beauty is only skin deep and money can’t buy happiness.
This is a two day entry (the first part (above) written January 2nd (one month before my 23rd birthday) and then today, January 3rd). It’s so good to be back in Am Sam. I missed the heat and yes even the humidity. I saw a handful of students at the airport last night as I was peeling off my sweatshirt and shoes for slippers (aka flip-flops) and a t-shirt. A friend picked us up at the airport (which was nice to not take a taxi) and we had a get together. It’s always a fun time when we hang out and drink Coors Light, which I did not miss, and not have a care in the world, except for school starting in a couple of days which a couple of us were contemplating on taking a personal day.
Today I spelt in, unpacked, took a cold shower, went out to lunch, and grocery shopped.  The weather is a bit cool, mid 80s, cloudy, and slightly breezy; a nice break from the scorching 110 degrees the day I left. Therefore, I can comfortably sit in the kitchen, boil eggs in prep for this week, sip on my instant coffee, listen to Adele, and continue to reflect. While home, the material things, fast pace-ness, and the pressures of society’s standards caused some anxiety as I’m used to the complete opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being home, but that’s not me anymore. I love island life. My little stifling hot, three-bedroom apartment and my foam mattress, taking a week to do something when it could be done in one day, and throwing on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that permanently musty and smell of old sweat (coupled with the fact that it doesn’t bother me) is part of my everyday life. I’m having trouble putting into words the stark difference of here and there and what I felt besides overwhelmed- still trying to digest it all. I’m ok without a phone, TV, and internet. I was thoroughly annoyed with the copious amounts of time people spent on their fancy touch screen phones. You can’t live life in front of screen. It makes me appreciate this opportunity to volunteer in a developing country. I live with less but I’ve gain so much. My attitude has completely changed as I’ve learned to reprioritize my values. What is important in life; experiences, memories, people; can’t be purchased.