23 December, 2012

Happy Holidays!!

I'm headed up north today to spend Christmas with my family! It looks as if I may even get a White Christmas this year!! And seeing as how I probably won't see snow for the next few years (Africa is in the southern hemisphere, so Christmas is during the summer solstice. UNLESS I can get to Mt. Kilimanjaro!) I will be enjoying every minute of it....snow angels and all.....

I'm still waiting on my birth certificate to come in the mail, so I can get my passport and visa applications out to the PC. Ah, patience is a virtue, isn't it? And I am sure learning it!

I have soooo much going on in my head right now - what to pack, what not to pack, what I need to take care of before leaving the states, etc. Thank God for plane rides and layovers! I will be making lots of lists, so I can get all this stuff out of my head, and on paper....

Oooh - and I received an early Christmas gift from my sister!! She sent me a backpacking backpack. The thing has so many straps to it - I'm still trying to figure out how to work it, and of course, how I can fit everything in there - for my next 2 years! I now have my main piece of luggage, along with a sleeping bag, which my sister gave me about a year ago (I've heard I should bring the sleeping bag to use at night during the winters.....). Yes, I'm already starting to pack...hahahaha!



I've been in contact with a girl in Namibia right now. She is a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer), and is currently teaching. Check out her blog here: naMobia. She has given me lots of info already - though I'm trying not to bombard her with all of my questions. lol I'm aware that the answers to my many questions really depend on exactly where my site will be. I may be in the north, may be in the south, may be living in a mud hut, or may have a western-style house with running water and electricity. But I'm open to it all. I'm actually kind of hoping for the mud hut. I mean, if I'm going to do this, let's do it right! :) So I have calmed myself down, and am just ready for any situation. I know that I really won't know what options I will have for communication (phone, internet) until I actually get there. And you know what? It's ok with me. I plan on contacting my parents as often as I can - so they know I'm still alive - and as soon as I am able, I will post on here as well! I'm sure it will take me a few weeks to get settled....

So, I finally read the 97 pages of the Namibia Welcome Book (I put this link on my My Assignment tab). There is LOTS of info in it....and some I skimmed through, and am sure will be returning to at some point when I have more questions....
Here is what I've learned so far about the beginning of my journey:

March 11, 2013 - I will be flying to my staging city (either DC, NY, Philly, etc.). They will be giving me the info to book my flight to this city a few weeks ahead of time. Then I, along with the other volunteers (I'm thinking, about 30-40 total) will have a 1 day orientation/training/etc.

March 12, 2013 - fly to Namibia!!!! I believe we'll be flying into the capital, Windhoek (pronounced with a "V" - Namibia was once German territory).

The next 8 WEEKS will be extensive training - language, safety, culture, and of course, my job. I think I may even shadow a current volunteer for about a week! A side note on the language - they speak English, as well as some German, Afrikaans, (both official languages) and many more. BUT I found another blog of a PCV who is in Namibia right now, and he is learning a click language!!!! I'm very excited about the possibility of learning this! I've found 2 videos, showing this language....try it for yourself!





Now, during the first few days of this training period, we will all be staying in a dorm-style building. After this, the next 5 WEEKS will be spent with a host family. Each volunteer will be living with a Namibian family! This will help us learn the culture and language even more....Then, the last 2 weeks we will all be reunited, leading up to the swearing-in ceremony!

After training, we each go to our own site, where we will be living and working for 2 years. I may be the only PCV in the community, or I may have others with me. If this is the case, I still may be the only Health Volunteer. I've learned that the volunteers keep in close touch with each other (cell phone usage is pretty widespread), and even visit each other! (Side note again: One volunteer visited another fellow volunteer at her community and job - she is working at the Cheetah Conservation Fund! I DEFINITELY plan on finding this, and am hoping one of my fellow PCVs will be working there, or someplace similar. I would love to see these animals up close!!).

During the first 6 weeks at my site, I will be, again, living with a host family. This will help in my adjustment and assimilation into the community. Then I'll have a mom and dad, and hopefully brothers and sisters, I can always turn to for questions, concerns, and of course, a Namibian home-cooked meal! After these weeks, then I move to my own place. Again, it could be a nurses dorm (attached to a clinic or school), a separate house, a mud hut, or anything in between. I'm learning that you just have to go with the flow during this whole Peace Corps experience....which is totally fine with me!


So, for the next few days, I will be enjoying my time with my family. I will see most of them again before I leave in March, and they are planning on visiting me in Namibia (by the way, you are all welcome to visit me in Africa!! I would LOVE to share with you - in real life - my experience!). My aunt has a friend who is actually a PCV in Nicaragua right now, and she, along with my other aunt, just got back from visiting Carol. I can't wait to hear their stories!!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season....time with family and friends is important, and so precious. I am trying not to think about the fact that I will be leaving Nashville in 2 months, and eventually, my family in March. I hate goodbyes. Actually, I like to look at it as "see-you-laters", instead. So, for now, I just don't think about it....and how I'll have to leave everything I have come to know...and this American way of life....(and, truly, I'm really excited to learn a different way of living!).

Just the other day, I thought "Oh my gosh, what the hell am I doing?". But honestly, I don't know what else I WOULD do.....So yes, this is scary, but exciting and thrilling all at the same time! I wouldn't even think of backing out now....this is supposed to be my next chapter in this crazy life...


Have a happy and safe holiday!!! Stay warm, or cool, where ever you are in the world.....

Peace & Love,
~Johanna


You'll actually look forward to your morning commute. Life is calling. How far will you go? Learn more about the Peace Corps

17 December, 2012

"The Physics of the Quest"

I'm getting 1 of 2 vaccinations today! Well, besides the many I had during the medical part of the application, it will be nice to get this part over and not be stuck with anymore needles...at least for a while....

I'm also waiting on my long-form version of my birth certificate....Apparently, my short version wasn't good enough proof of my birth into this world for the US Postal Service employee who was taking my application....So I had to call a company, pay extra to have it overnighted, then once I received the email confirmation, I noticed the woman spelled my middle name wrong, so I emailed the company, got it straightened out, and so I wait...again...for the package in the mail! Then I'll be able to get the passport application done, and send that, along my visa application, to the US Peace Corps for processing!! Apparently, I'll be picking these 2 items up at "staging" - this is my 1-day orientation in the US before flying over the pond.....

AND I'm sending my updated resume and an aspiration letter to the Namibia Peace Corps Office via email today. I had to write up a little letter, describing my professional attributes and how I believe they will help in my service to the community I will be helping. I also had to explain how I expect to adapt to a new culture, the skills and  knowledge I hope to gain, and how I feel my PC service will influence my personal and profession aspirations afterwords.....

*deep breath*.....and that's all there is to it, kids!

By the way, did I tell you that PC service is for 27 months?? Oh yeah....AND if the project I create requires me to be there a 3rd year, then I get to stay!! woohoo! I'm sure my parents aren't too thrilled about this piece of info, but I know they will understand. They have been so supportive of this from the beginning. I thought I was going to have to fight them on my grand idea...but nope...they, along with the rest of my family, have been wonderfully supportive! I will go into more detail about my family and friends' reactions in a future post....but for now, let me just say that I feel really good about my decision to do this, and know that I will have people here at home behind me 100% :)


"In the end, I've come to believe in something I call "The Physics of the Quest." A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you're brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you." 
- Liz Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love





You'll actually look forward to your morning commute. Life is calling. How far will you go? Learn more about the Peace Corps

13 December, 2012

Overwhelmed...but happy!

Just wanted to give you a quick update:

Today I'm sending in my visa and passport applications, writing up an "aspiration letter" and updating my resume for the Namibia Peace Corps Office, setting up appointments for 2 more vaccinations, organizing and making lists about when I need to cut off my phone, car insurance, etc., looking in to how to transport my "stuff" back home to NY, and of course, reading more blogs, PC info they have sent me, and googling Namibia till I'm blue in the face.... 

.....and finishing up my Christmas shopping!

Oh...and working, of course! lol

Until the next post, I came across this wonderful inspirational video, 
and wanted to share with all of you.
When I'm feeling overwhelmed by everything I need to do, to get to the PC in Namibia,
 I think of this video, 
and realize that Alan Watts' words ring true to me....
And just maybe, if you're evaluating your life, and trying to find your next step, 
I hope this can help....

:)

(via the website: Tragedy and Hope)




You'll actually look forward to your morning commute. Life is calling. How far will you go? Learn more about the Peace Corps

10 December, 2012

Thank you, YouTube....

They say if you want to learn about something, google and YouTube it....
Well, here are few "educational" videos!
:)


 




p.s. I will continually try to update and make this blog as easy to read and as educational as possible. I want to share with all of you EXACTLY what I am going through during this process! So, last night I updated the My Assignment tab and added a Links tab, both with a little more info....check it out when you get a chance!

Peace out! :)

You'll actually look forward to your morning commute. Life is calling. How far will you go? Learn more about the Peace Corps

08 December, 2012

The PEACE CORPS?? WHY??

First of all....MY FIRST POST!! Yeehaw!!

Second of all.....Welllll.....why NOT?

Ok, I know, not the answer you were looking for....

I will try to keep this as short as possible...to explain how I came to this conclusion as the obvious next chapter in my life....

Around August of 2011, I was working as a Massage Therapist and dipping into the singer/songwriter thing here in Nashville. I was traveling every 2 weeks or so, playing at vineyards, coffee shops, and restaurants. Trying to learn more and more about music, and better my craft. My plan was to finish a second album. I already had a few songs recorded, and more written. But when I got back to Nashville in August, with no more out-of-town dates, I realized I needed a break. I was worn out. Between full-time job and full-time music (with very little income from this endeavor), I was exhausted. I would wake up early, or stay up late, just to send emails, book gigs, write, practice, play out, market and promote, update my website, etc....You name it, I was the only one doing it for myself. My mind was constantly going - trying to come up with new ideas, songs, etc. on how to get my music out there! Now, don't get me wrong...I LOVED this! I loved music and creating and playing. I think I just needed a break. So I decided to put the guitar down for about a month. For the first time in years, I would come home from work, and just sit and watch TV, with my mind blank. It was kind of nice. :)

After awhile, I decided I needed to get back at it. But I wasn't quite sure I wanted to continue pursuing the "Indie Artist" thing. And since I never truly chased after the idea of just being a songwriter, that was my next move. So I nudged myself back out to the writers nights and the networking (ugh!). And thanks to a good friend's help and a phone call, I got to play for a BIG publisher and get a BIG co-writing appointment at a BIG publishing company here in town. And we wrote a great song!

But my heart was just not in it anymore. I mean, I love the creating and writing and playing. But chasing it as a career is draining! Especially when I had to have a full time regular job because I had student loans to pay. I finally came to the conclusion that in order to make it in the music industry - whether as an artist or a songwriter (besides the obvious - great talent, look, etc), you really need to do this full time. And, well, the cards just did not fall in this way for me. I came to peace with this. I have done things that many never get a chance to do! I had my own website, am on iTunes, Amazon and Pandora, was in a band, opened for Charlie Daniels and Gretchen Wilson, went "on the road" by myself, played 3-hour cover gigs on my own, made an album, and created some amazing music!!! I cannot complain!

But it was time for me to move on....time to see what else this world has to offer. So - I always told myself, that if and when the time comes where I am done chasing music as a career, I would leave Nashville. I have made amazing friends and family here, and will always stay in touch with them, but it's not my home. I never quite felt settled. So...the question was...Where would I go?? Gosh, I can go anywhere! My family and I are close, but I never felt the need to live close to them - at least, not right now. Maybe in 10 years...but for now, I have other places I need to see and experience!

I narrowed my choices to San Diego or Charleston. My plan was to visit both. I work at a Massage Envy, and they are nationwide - so I would probably be able to move right in to a job pretty easily. But it still didn't feel right. I thought "So, I move to the beach, and continue massaging, and then what?" It felt so unfulfilling....

Until one day at work....

During one of my sessions, a client and I were talking, and he said something about the Peace Corps. It was like a light bulb turned on! I knew right then and there, without a doubt, this was what I wanted - and needed - to do! I had no clue what I was getting into, but I didn't care - this was exactly what I wanted for my next chapter! I went home that night, and began filling out the online application (see the tab My Application Process for all the fun!).

See, at the end of my senior year of college, I looked into joining the Peace Corps. I then realized that the process takes up to a year, and I figured I should just finish school and get on with some job, instead of waiting around to get in. So I put the idea aside and continued on with my schooling, work, etc.....

I feel like everything I have done in my life - from undergrad, to grad school, to Massage Therapy, to Singer/Songwriter...and everything before, after, and in between....has prepared me for this moment right now. Through all my faults and failures, the one thing I know how to do, what I want most in this world, is to put my arms around someone and help them with every inch of my being. And I have a feeling this next chapter is going to probably be one of my favorites!

So THAT'S why! :)


Stay tuned for the most recent fun of getting prepared to go! I will try to update this blog as much as possible, and I've been told that most sites in the Peace Corps have internet. I plan on uploading pictures, videos, and of course, lots and lots of stories!!

p.s. The Oryx (Antelope) is the national animal of Namibia!

You'll actually look forward to your morning commute. Life is calling. How far will you go? Learn more about the Peace Corps