Time for another adventure

I leave on Saturday, March 10 to serve on a Global Volunteers project in St. Lucia.  I’ve never been to the island, but from what I’ve read, it is very lush and beautiful.  Unfortunately almost 30% of its population live in poverty.  Community leaders in Anse la Raye invited Global Volunteers to send teams to help deliver essential services to the children in their village with the hope that by working together, over time, the cycle of poverty will be broken.

The St. Lucia project is new.  I will be a member of only the second team, so this will be a learning experience for everyone.  I just got my assignment and was thrilled to learn that my team will be working with 75 preschoolers, from infants to age 5.

The first team returned a few weeks ago with lots of helpful information, including a list of things that the preschool needs.  Books, school supplies, soap, hand sanitizer and baby bibs were in short supply, so for this trip, I am packing very differently.  Ah, Dr. Seuss, I’ve missed you.  We spent oh, so many nights together.  This will be a fond trip down memory lane.

Good thing I own a luggage scale.  This stuff alone puts me at 29 pounds!  Fortunately, I have never been a fashionista because this stuff took up half of the one checked bag I’m allowed.

I chose to work with Global Volunteers because I love their philosophy.  Teams only serve where they are invited.  They work under the direction of local leaders, doing whatever those leaders request.  Because self-reliance is a primary goal, the volunteers work hand in hand with the locals.  In fact a key requirement is that there be at least as many locals working on a project as there are volunteers.

There is no proselytizing–no hidden religious or political agendas, other than a desire to promote world peace.

The organization cautions its volunteers to remain flexible, noting that things don’t always turn out as planned.  Well, considering that my INITIAL plan was to serve in Italy last October, and I had to cancel because my retina inconveniently decided to detach 6 days before I was scheduled to leave, I figure I’ve had a bit of experience with plan changes.

I’ll be going on this trip alone.  I don’t know anything about the other volunteers on this second team–how many, where they are from, who they are, but all will be revealed by next Saturday night.  We will be working all this first weekend, but will have a break the second weekend, so I’m hoping to get a chance to see the island.

Adventure awaits!

Goodbye, 2011

Only one more day in 2011. For me, 2011 was a wonderful year. Our extended family grew through marriage and the arrival of a baby, our son started his MBA at the University of Virginia, we achieved a level of financial independence that allowed me to join Mike in retirement, and we were able to spend time with people that are important to us.

We started the year traveling to Antarctica with Lindblad and National Geographic. We boarded the ship in Ushuaia, Argentina, after a short cruise on a catamaran through the Beagle Channel.

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Here is the Antarctica welcoming committee.

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Counting the days?

I’ve been asked so many times whether I am counting down the days until my retirement.  My cousin gave me a little display that does the job for me, so I know the answer:   35 days from today.

But the reason I named my blog “Destination Now” is to remind myself to fully enjoy the present moments, and not be so eager for a future event to occur.  And quite honestly, I’m not looking to speed up the calendar.  I will definitely miss my “village”.  I’ve been fortunate to have many of the same customers for the past 10 years, so what started as a business relationship has evolved over the years into a friendship.

Of course I will miss my colleagues.  The office has been a central gathering place where I could always find smart, interesting people with whom I shared common goals, celebrated successes and commiserated with when things didn’t turn out as planned.  I’ll definitely miss the camaraderie.   I’m  realistic enough to recognize how hard it is to maintain friendships when the central reason for the relationship no longer exists.  I also know how busy life is for someone with a full-time job and family responsibilities.  So, while MY time for relationships will be expanding, my work buddies will have the same intense schedules that consumed my waking hours for the past few decades.

So, no, I’m not rushing for the end of my MetLife career.  I’m fully enjoying these final days and am stockpiling the memories.