It’s been well over a month since the Eldest Girl Child headed out into the big wide world for her Bridge Year in Ecuador, and while life here at home has shifted with her absence, oh the adventures she is having.
First came days of team building in a California Redwood forest ~ not the kind she expected and hoped for with ziplining and ropes courses, but instead, the psychological kind that deals with self exploration and trust. You know, like deep questioning, sharing and reflection ~ all sorts of things that I imagine were hugely uncomfortable for a girl who likes her privacy and space.
Then, a half week at the beautiful Stanford campus with trainings and talks from people doing awesome stuff in the world~ people from Kiva, Change.org, Google. It was inspirational stuff galore (mixed in with some less than exciting, albeit necessary trainings on health & safety etc) before they headed off to their destinations.
The night before they left, there was a send off celebration where we got to wish her Good Luck (I refused to call it goodbye, despite what everyone else referred to the situation as) and then...she was off.
In an effort to help families be prepared, Global Citizen Year offered a parent / fellow alumni session, which I of course, attended. One thing they they stressed, multiple times, was that in the beginning, things would come up that would be hard and would make us want to rescue our kids and fix whatever was going wrong for them.
BUT, they super duper stressed that we should really, really try to just let the kids figure it out as best as they could.
I sat smugly in my chair, rolling my eyes and wondering who were these rescuing parents, anyway? Surely, they must have some helicopter tendencies that I didn’t share.
My kid was self reliant and used to figuring things out for herself. From taking college classes starting at 15 to a fully self planned and self funding a trip to Italy with a lifelong friend as soon as they turned 18, my Girl Child is perfectly competent. She knows how to make her way on her own and would be fine.
I was frankly, not really concerned at all, and pretty sure that portion (that was repeated several bazillion times it seemed) did not even really apply to us at all, and all the while it was delaying our dinner. And I was hungry.
Then... came her first week in Ecuador.
The first few days, I heard very little. Only an occasional facebook message but she was busy and in training, so while I was a little sad, I wasn’t surprised or worried.
Then, no word for days.
Finally, I got news~ some text messages saying that she had gotten pink eye and after prying her crusty eyeballs open without ripping out all her eyelashes and realizing she had to throw away all her eye makeup, she then had to figure out a doctor visit to deal with getting treatment, and she had to do all of it in a foreign language.
She added that nothing ever worked in that country, especially the internet in her apartment. That might have been a bit overly dramatic (where do my kids get that?) but it meant our plan to communicate for free via Skype and Facebook phone calls was not looking like it would be happening.
I normally let her deal with things on her own, but her cell phone was on my plan, and I was in the US, which made it easier for me to just see if I could help figure out how to deal with international communications and not spend a bazillion dollars.
So, I spent 45 minutes with Verizon trying to decide what to do.
A few hours later, I get a message that her iPhone had been stolen.
So much for my newest plan and all that time I had just spent...uggh.
She’s not sure where or how it disappeared, as she knows basic safety and is generally careful. But when most public bus rides are so crowded that at least 5 people are touching you at any given moment, things can happen.
Perhaps in the chaos of being separated from half her group when the bus doors shut and left them behind?
However it happened, it’s a big bummer as her phone is also her camera, and was the only one she had with her. Postal service into Ecuador is slow and unreliable, and fees to import electronics are astronomical. So, this has been rather unfortunate to say the least.
Then, to top it off...there was the earthquake in Quito.
Ecuador has had a number of large earthquakes this year, including one on the coast that was devastating. This one was not nearly so disastrous, although it was a bit disconcerting considering she was living on the 4th floor of a building that may or may not have had building codes involved in its’ construction.
“But don’t worry,” she told me…”My host family sprinkled holy water everywhere just in case, so we should be safe.”
Thankfully, this has been her attitude towards most of the challenging situations, which has helped both her and I so much. She is laughing and breathing and rolling with it.
Still, while I wasn’t totally feeling like I needed to rescue my child, I did really want to help her through it.
My kid was being thrown into some serious adulting~ and all in Spanish!
I guess I did understand a little more about what the alumni parents were talking about after that. Maybe they weren't all helicopter-ish after all....
Anyhoo, now, she has left the capital of Quito to spend the rest of her stay in a small mountain town known for making handcrafted guitars. Her host family has 3 little kids, which she is not so used to, especially full time, and had “kind of forgotten how much they are.”
Noises, mess and smells~ more so than her teenaged brother has provided her with for years are all now a part of her daily and nightly life.
So, while she wondering what is normal preschooler behavior and what constitutes the need for an exorcist, as well as how an infant could create such intense poop smell, she has also gotten close with one of the kids and the sweetness of their friendship makes me smile.
She technically has access to internet now, but it only really works in the living room, so if she wants to be online, she will be getting poked and prodded by little hands the whole time.
This is rather hilarious for a girl who has had her own room since she was 5, except for the last few months when one of my Dear Partner's kids came to live with us. Most of her life she's been pretty used to having her personal space. These days...not so much.
She only connects with other English speakers from her group weekly, so she is pretty well immersed in her little village. She says everyone seems to be a cousin or related in some way or another~ they are friendly and happy and I think she's enjoying the small closeness.
There are also happy and friendly dogs, who are not strays but free roaming and well fed pets, who contentedly wander the streets at will. She has a huge heart for animals, and I think she may have convinced her host family to adopt a puppy in the same way she convinced me to adopt her stinky beast dog who is whining on the floor next to me as I type.
Oh, she also learned an important cultural difference between Ecuador and the US. What we would consider nightclubs are referred to as “discotecas” and you really do want to be specific about that. Apparently, nightclubs are not where young people go to enjoy music and dancing, but are actually where prostitutes and strippers go for work (which I suppose may also include music and dancing, but.....it's kind of a big difference)
You can imagine the alarm of the host mothers when the sweet youngsters under their wings asked to go out to a nightclub! Ha!
Anyhoo, we still have not figured out how to get a camera to her, and she is texting me from a flip phone without a keyboard (her formerly perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation have gone by the wayside, but that's understandable when you have to push the 7 key 4 times just to get a letter S.
But, she is now able to message from her laptop and she is still having an amazing adventure. She has explored cities and mountains, and is enjoying helping teach English in a local high school, while learning more than I could express.
I miss my Girl, but I’m oh so proud of her and am dreaming and scheming as to how to get there to see her in the spring. And if we haven't figured out how to get her a camera yet, I can bring one then. (But boy, I hope we do, because I WANT PICTURES!!!)
If you would like to check out her blog, you can find it here, and subscribe if you want updates.
That’s all for now~ Thanks for following along with the adventure!
Something about autumn always gets me thinking. Leaves are turning, nights are cooler, darkness comes earlier and my mind is refashioning thoughts as quickly as the changing season.
Since all of those thoughts need to come out of me head, writing just goes with this time of year in the same cozy way as fuzzy socks and soup.
This is quite timely because, as I mentioned the other day, I got a scholarship to do this online writing class with the colorfully wonderful SARK and Dr. Scott Mills.
So, naturally, I’ve been trying to get into a rhythm with my writing groove (and also, in all honesty, my life in general, but that’s an ongoing saga) But the super amazing thing about the writing portion is.......
I’ve been (somewhat-semi-almost-) successful in writing a bit every day.
Yes, almost every single day!
(OK, it’s only been like a week and a half, but STILL! I am feeling uber writerly!
Anyhoo, just in case any of you are thinking you’d like to get a little more committed to putting pen to paper, I thought I’d share my super easy 12 step writing routine for your consideration..
Here you have it~ my no fail writing routine:
As you may have already guessed, the only one of these things that is remotely useful to my writing life is #12~ Forcing myself to start writing.
The celebrating is good too, and honestly so is the coffee, but really, the only thing that really matters is starting writing.
The biggest problems with that seem to be distractions~ both real and ones we make up to procrastinate for whatever psychological reasons are brewing in the head. I have a whole lotta trouble with this myself (as you may have noticed) but really, if you wanna be a writer, you just gotta force yourself to start writing.
The other big issue a lot of people have is being blocked. It seems like we block ourselves with whatever internal and external demons we have that we turn into reasons to not write, but like all things in life, the more you sit and lament about all the reasons it’s hard, the more likely that YOU’RE NEVER GONNA FREAKING GET ANYTHING DONE!!!!!
Sorry (notsorry) to yell, but sheesh!
I used to work with a hilarious woman from Oklahoma who had all sorts of country wisdom about life and I think she would probably say something like “Quit yer complaining and get yer arse busy.”
She might also comment on there being more useful things to do in the world than writing, but the point is, whatever you’re wanting to make happen, you just gotta take a little step towards it to get the ball rolling. (And I happen to think writing is a very useful pastime myself)
One of the things Dr. Scott Mills told our class in regards to being blocked is to just start by writing “This is the first sentence.” and there you have it, you started.
I suppose it could go on and you could repeat for the second and third, but I feel like at some point, something else would come out and even if it was awful and grammatically incorrect unusable gibberish, it would still help get the block out, right?
Anyhoo~ if you’re inclined towards creating a writing routine of your own, you could consider trying any or all of my 13 steps, or you could skip the rest, or just doing whatever you need to in order to make step #12 happen.
There are tools and planners and timers and all sorts of helpful doodads to aide in the cause, but not one of them will actually make you write. (Don’t get me wrong, I love planners and gizmos, and have about a bazillion)
But, only you can actually make yourself write, and the good news / bad news is that you can do it without anything besides something to capture your words in. So, grab your notebook and pen, or laptop (and coffee, cause that really does help) and good luck getting those thoughts out of your head and into some sort of reality.
Do you have any tips that help you get into a routine to get things done? Please share in the comments below, and if you like this post, please "like" it on Facebook and share with a friend! Thanks!
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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