Coffee Withdrawal…..

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The most delicious of coffees and views

Coffee…..nope unfortunately, coffee is not considered an herb for bone healing and what’s worse, IT actually can negatively affect the repair of your bones, so it’s a no go…for SIX WEEKS. Now, this would be hard for any average American coffee drinker, but humor me with your sympathy for a moment. I have been living in a country with the finest coffee (granted they export most of the best, but I had my go-to people for the best caffeinated goods ;)), and I walked to work through streets where coffee (“tinto”, rather) was wheeled up to you in a cart and handed over for a mere 500 pesos.

              By now your sympathy has run out, I understand, but this means my coffee addiction had risen to nearly 6 cups per day which means cold-turkey coffee cut-off is KILLER. I’ve tried to replace it with teas or even decaffeinated coffee, but it just isn’t the same.

        Anyone who has overcome the powerful clutches of a caffeine addiction, please impart upon me your great wisdom!

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Harvesting Fresh Coffee Beans in Colombia….when I could walk without crutches
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New Adventures, New Families

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Each summer is a new experience and even more than that each summer I get to make a new family.  Whether it’s a group of crazy gals on an Island in Greece, a house full of goofy humans working at SeaWorld Orlando together or a group of urban farming gals as it was this year.

I love my summer families. We talk about everything and tackle life together, day in an day out we share food, fun and frustrations. We argue politics, beliefs, redefine our perspectives and furiously defend our feminism together. And it’s beautiful.

I am elated for one member of last years family to be getting married this fall as I got to be there for the adorable proposal and I got to witness another amazing young woman fight for food security and make it into the New York Times. Another family member is moving to Lebanon to tackle international relations while another is making our world more sustainable. These are some incredible young women and men who inspire me and make the experiences of my summer more incredible and educational than ever before.

This echoes so many experiences in life from internships, to travel to school: it is the people that matter most. From those five second interactions that change your world to those eternal friendships that cover thousands of miles. And this summer just as the summers before (and most certainly the seasons in between) remind me that in the next steps of life, the scary, exciting NEXT that is before me there will always be a new family to be made.

There will be those humans so inspiring and wonderful whose world with collide with my own, and I am so grateful for the humans who are already a part of my world. And as we each adventure off into our own city, country, continent, and worlds, I am so elated to see what each of our journeys hold.

 

Springing Forward

This semester has began again and is moving faster than the last, but simultaneously slower. I wake early, eager for my 8am. It’s ground school and as the next step to becoming a pilot, how could I not be excited! The rest of my day is filled with oceans, and microscopes, organisms and new friends. Even the bitter cold weather can’t chill the warmth of this semester, the joy of things yet to come, the delight of things that are.
And I feel a beautiful nostalgia, as I Skype with one of my best friends, Canada, and we laugh over nights spent wandering around Tokyo, and talk over NGOs in Africa, about boys and the dreams of our future, I realize how content I truly am. It was a year ago that I was on my way to Hawaii, the sunshine growing warmer as the MV Explorer glided into the South Pacific, but I don’t long for that again. Sunshine? Yes. The friends and adventures? Certainly. I will never cease to seek those things, but I am not nostalgic for a repeat of the past, I am not eager to climb back aboard a ship where I was so naive. I’m ready to go as the girl who stepped off the ship in London, who grew from every interaction, who will never stop dreaming of going, but for now must be in one place. I am the girl who will rendezvous with adventurous wild ones at a United Nations Conferences in New York, at a Worldwide Conference in Miami, where we take our next steps to even grander adventures. The girl ready and eager to fly a plane, study cancer and travel to the ends of the earth.
I don’t want what I can’t have because what I have now is so incredible, the momentum I found once again propels me to greater things. And as I fill out a plethora of research abroad applications for the summer, and get sidetracked by the cost of hostels in Pakora ($3/night!!), I’m so content, theres nothing left to do but smile. 🙂

 

The Surreality of a Cinderella Life

Tuesday February 17, 2015

This night last week I sat in the elegant maroon seats of the Westin Hotel in New York City, among CIA Agents, Entrepreneurs, Investors and Inventors, I sat among the elite, the brilliant, the Harvard Graduates and Business sharks of New York. My hair was curled, my make-up perfect and I was dressed to the nines, in true New York Socialite fashion. Wine flowed freely as we discussed which young, new entrepreneur to fund. The food never stopped coming, even as plates of fine cheeses and rich, creamy pastas, fresh salads and sizzling, spiced meats lay full before us. I barely noticed the server, let alone the busser.

Tonight I ran around the restaurant in my bussers uniform: black slacks, a men’s small shirt and a tie, my hair pulled back tight, not pretty, merely practical.  I bustled around serving fine steaks to robust business men and wine to women in heels and perfect styled hair. Clearing plates, cleaning tables, dishes and tending to the needs of the servers and guests, throwing away pounds upon pounds of untouched food. I work hard, I have to just to keep up with the guys, it’s typically a man’s job. And just as I barely noticed anyone below my realm of fancy people, all night I went unnoticed save for the one time I accidentally bumped a customer.

The surreality of my life feels like Cinderella, dressed and sparkling one night, covered in ashes and food scraps the next. But unlike Cinderella, I won’t get to the palace through  a prince, I’ll get there on my own volition. I will know what it’s like to be on both sides of the table. I will work my hardest to be the very best, but never climb without remember those who helped me there. I will find happiness not in the money I can spend on that dinner out, but with whom I have to share it, and end the end of the day, I’ll cherish the beautiful ball gowns and comfortable life, because I know the nights spends cleaning dishes and studying late after work that it took to get there. And sometimes I wonder if those already there see the value of the castle they’re already in.

Study Break

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During a study break, I went to buy a cup of tea, and after it cooled I took a sip and was whirled straight back to Kyoto. On a particularly chilly, rainy morning, we discovered a tiny cafe, more of a house, really, that we happened upon in the backstreets of that stunning old city, with a beautiful garden and koi pond. Before going in, we removed our shoes and sat upon the floor at a small table as they served the best Macha in the world, with tiny, green tea cakes. We sat in peace and serene joy as the raindrops pattered against the room above us.

The flavor of Macha was the one that drew me straight back to that chilly but perfect morning in Japan, and amidst the struggles of studying, I found a peace that came from thousands of miles away. Peace within this cup of steam that holds more memories than molecules of water 🙂

Sea-Renenity

The regulator goes in your mouth and your heart races…deep breaths, you remind yourself, keep breathing…your heart rate slows again and you begin to submerge your head under-water. Then the panic starts, breathing quickens, heart races and you will yourself to breath, underwater. And the amazing thing is, you can.

Your first breath underwater and you feel so alive, your eyes adjust to the new refraction of light and you hear silence. You’ve entered another world, a world reserved for the few willing to bow their head beneath the air we need to breath, willing to sink themselves meters down to see through a whole new medium, and willing to suit up as if you’re ready to move in space. Welcome to scuba diving.

This is my work, for now and my job entails at least one daily visit to the underwater world! As you swim around the crystal blues waters of the Mediterranean your mind goes a million ways. Excitement draws you towards the deep canyons in the ocean floor, while caution keeps your breathing slowly and near your partner. The millions of small moving life forms at the bottom catch your eye as you grab a perfectly whole spiral shell, whose inhabitant just moved out. “Shell for rent”, you think and pass the shell to your buddy, hoping he understands the laughter behind your goggled eyes. Colorful fish rush before your eyes, curious as to this odd new ocean dweller, but welcoming, nonetheless.

You toss an “okay” sign your partner and motion onwards towards deeper water. Remembering your checks. Equalize. Breath. Be in awe. Check, Check, and check.
The dive rounds bends into a canyon, over meadows on the ocean floor and around rocks that climb into the open air!

You’re thoughts under this much pressure become more vivid, you remember your training in case of emergency, eyes darting from the incredible world around you to your partner, balancing between awe and caution. But as you glide through this world, weightless, you began to feel free, you know you’re both safe and you begin to spin, float, drift and dive, feeling the water hug you as you move, using your breath to move up or down in the water, and all of the suddenly you look up. Light shines through the water, as if heaven has opened up beneath the waves. Streams of lights shoot towards you in soft, wavering lines, the water sparkles as the photons move through the eagerly drifting water molecules. The world around you is perfectly illuminated by the afternoon Aegean sun, offering it’s own simple searenity like nowhere else.