Update on Life Post Hurricanes

Hello all my amazing followers, family and friends.

I am so beyond sorry for my HUGE gap between posts and for not posting about my summer road trip with Kris. I honestly have struggled putting words to paper. I’ve attempted multiple times and it’s just been so difficult. Finding the right words, finding the initiative to write, finding the motivation. Every ounce of energy and focus it takes me to write a blog post had been depleted since Irma and Maria. But there is no time like the present to attempt to update you. The words might not fit together perfectly and this post might have lots of random, miscellaneous, scattered pattern but I can promise that I’m going to try.

First, it’s been a little over 6 months since our first hurricane came barreling across the islands and although so much has begun to feel back to normal, we are far away from recovered.

Since Irma, my roommate had been living in darkness and without hot water, cable or internet. We basically spent our lives “camping” Read more

2 Friends, 12 Days, & 3 Countries

WOW.

Just WOW.

I can’t believe TEN month came to an end so fast. I remember thinking back in August that “10 months is going to feel like forever, but yet, it is going to go by so fast.” Well, 10 months definitely didn’t feel like forever. In fact, it went by too quickly and just as quickly as I became friends with my co-workers, our school year came to an end and it was time to say good-bye (for now).

Thankfully, for me, the end of the school year meant one thing…one of my best friends, Kristin, was set to arrive to travel the US Virgin Islands, BVIs, and Puerto Rico with me. Read more

Island Hopping in 2017

Life in the Caribbean has taken off in a full sprint. In January, I ventured to another country and visited the British Virgin Islands for the very first time. Since then, I’ve been two more times and it’s ONLY the beginning of March. Three passport stamps in 3 months. Pretty sure that’s a new record for me, granted it is the SAME passport stamp, but a stamp is a stamp right?!?! However, with each additional stamp came with a new island, so it’s totally appropriate to count them.

Do you know anything about the BVIs? I can honestly say until I moved to St. Thomas, I only knew them as a cluster of islands, which isn’t far off but it’s WAY more than that. To start, the area of the BVIs is only 58 square mile (150 square kilometer); St. Thomas is only ~32 square mile. Think about that for a second. The entire territory of the BVIs isn’t much larger than the island I now call home.

It’s made up of 4 primary islands: Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke. Additionally, there are over 50 smaller islands and cays, in which approximately 15 of those islands are inhabited. Again, think of this in accordance to size. 52 square mile of land, split between ~54 islands. Read more

A Trip without Expectations

When was the last time you took a vacation where you did little to no planning and you had no expectations?!?!

Have you ever taken a trip like that before?

This type of an adventure was a first for me. I usually enjoy planning. You could say I’m a planner; someone who knows the good places to eat, the things to see, the activities to partake in. I usually don’t go into a trip without expectations but Mapless Adventures is about the unknown adventures of life. So taking a trip with my friend-workers, where I hardly knew the final destination, wasn’t something I was going to say no too. Plus, it was an opportunity to escape the rock for a few days.

This “No Expectation” Mapless Adventure took us back to Puerto Rico. I understand this isn’t my first trip to PR, but it did take me and my travel mates to two brand new locations. Both of these locations were west of San Juan and you all know how much I love adventure.

Our first stop on this weekend excursion took us about 1.5 hours east of San Juan to Arecibo, PR. We were originally going to try and go all the way to Rincón, our destination, but when we started mapping out the journey we realized it would have taken too long. Landing at 5:30 PM really doesn’t support a 3.5 hour road trip and let be serious, why waste a perfectly good road trip at night?!? You can’t see things at night. Another fact, the small research I did do told me that Arecibo is the gateway to the CAVES.

You read that right, I said CAVES. Though, these caves are a little different than what you’re picturing. But, again, a cave is a cave. There are a few caves located new Arecibo, but we didn’t have too much “free” time to spend, so we settled on La Cueva del Indio. Granted, I may have “pushed” a little to go see these caves before leaving and I’m blessed with amazing travel buddies who a gracious in our plans. I also believe they enjoyed the cave adventure.

Let me briefly describe this cave. First, this “cave” is located RIGHT on the ocean. Seriously, the entire cave and rock formation are off a cliff with waves consistently crashing against them. The wind on this particular day was pretty intense and there were sections of this cave/rock formation that even I wasn’t willing to risk trying to climb down…via slippery stairs. It was still an unbelievably spectacular sight…minus the HUGE wave that completely drenched me from head to toe. But let’s be real….it was TOTALLY WORTH IT! I was in nature heaven. This was ONLY the first day of our trip.

Once we had our cave fulfillment, we loaded back up in our car and ventured further west to the town of Rincón. Here is what I knew prior to the arrival: Rincón is a surfer town. People who venture to this location are usually escaping the big city to get their surfing fix. It also had a very similar vibe to Costa Rica, from what I was told. (I haven’t been yet) but I got a little Nicaraguan vibe too. One of my travel buddies actually was the one who got us looking into Rincón in the first place.

We arrived in the late afternoon and one thing was an absolute…we needed COFFEE and thankfully we knew exactly where to go! According to our travel guide, a.k.a. my friend’s sister-in-law, who visited a few weeks prior to us, she mentioned a local shop, Cafe 2 Go.

Alright…I’m a coffee drinker and this coffee was not only delicious, it was intensely strong. I like strong coffee and I’ve been told multiple times, Puerto Ricans love strong coffee, but the cold brew was too strong for me…but didn’t stop me from consuming the entire cup. You don’t waste good coffee.

From there, it was simply a wander, shop, find dinner, and explore kind of afternoon early evening, which led u to a hidden beach at sunset roaming the sand with the waves crashing. But let’s pause for a second and discuss the dinner/food aspect.

Oh. My. Goodness. The Food. Holy smokes…the food. This was my favorite aspect of the town of Rincón. Of everything we saw…did…explored…the food was phenomenal. From the fresh coconuts we drank, to the tacos, to the fresh yogurt bowls, to the salads, to the breakfasts, to the cookie…every single food item I ate was “muy perfecto”. Much of the food we ate over the few days was locally grown. My favorite was probably a local food truck Carte Buena, which even had a small garden on the back part of the lot. I secretly wish I would have taken more pictures of the food. Some of the other places we ventured too with an amazing selection of local and foreign cuisine included La Cambija (I recommend the fish tacos and their homemade hot sauce), Green Thumb Grill (amazing cocktails and Asian twist cuisine), Jack’s Shack (vegan chocolate chip cookies are to die for as were the tacos), and The Beach House (amazing place for sunset and cocktails). I cannot speak more highly of these places!

Back to adventures…

We didn’t do much night life in Rincón because we knew we were going to be doing quite a bit of exploring, which turned into beach hopping and checking out the local surf spots. Our first was the famous Dome Beach, which plays host to surfers. Oh Surfers. I probably could have stayed all day watching those surfers. It was so peaceful just relaxing in the shade, drinking strong Puerto Rican cold-brew coffee, waves crashing and surfers catching waves. Bliss. Pure Bliss We Unfortunately, because of the wind and swell level, Sandy Beach, which is one of the most popular beaches, was untouchable and we didn’t last long standing on the end overlooking the extreme high tide.

After a quick lunch, it was off to another beach, Almendros Beach. This beach seems to be a little touristy, however it was still beautiful. Until, the rain came and this happened…

 

Photo Jan 15, 1 07 36 PM
What happens when I get cold and it’s rainy at the beach

All said and done, even if the weather wasn’t on our side for the afternoon, it was still food for the soul sitting in the sand listening to the waves crashing.

Plus, it wasn’t our last beach adventure for the trip. Our condo we rented was overlooking a beautiful beach, as many of them were. So for one final sunset, we sat together, danced a little, laughed A LOT, and reflected on another successful Mapless Adventure (minus the 3.5 hour road trip back to San Juan for our flight home).

Until next time, keep your head up, heart open, and continue on your own Mapless Adventures!!

 

Xtreme Trip of a LIFETIME

Whirlwind.

Unimaginable.

Incredible.

These three words don’t even come close to describing my weekend adventures in Puerto Rico filming an episode of Xtreme Waterparks for the Travel Channel. Yes, you read that right! I was blessed with the opportunities to fly, with two friends (Blakely and Michelle), to be filmed on natural rock slides in the El Yunque National Rain Forest.

How it all started: INSTAGRAM.

Seriously! Because of pictures and hashtags I posted from my first trip to Puerto Rico, the staffing crew of the production company found me and commented on a post. My Instagram is designed around this blog’s headline “Mapless Adventures” and focuses on both my personal life and my travels. After talking back and forth, they interviewed myself and my two friends. They seemed to enjoyed the fact that I was an adventure/travel blogger and before we could even blink, it was our time for our Xtreme Puerto Rico Weekend!

We flew out bright and early on a Friday morning from St. Thomas to San Juan on a sea plane (another first for me on the island). The sea plane was pretty freaking awesome. It was only a 10-seater plane and the views were impossible to truly capture via pictures. Surprisingly, the flight was smooth and only took 35 minutes. At the airport, we were picked up by the production assistant and taken to the filming location, approximately 1.5-2 hours away. This hidden jewel was extremely remote and I didn’t even know it existed (and I googled Rock Slides Puerto Rico prior to leaving), so the trip was even more Mapless!

One of the things that the producer consistently told us was that we were on a “Need to know basis”, so we had NO idea what was in store for us THE ENTIRE WEEKEND. Talk about taking chance.

I guess I should start from the beginning. The particular area of El Yunque is known as Las Tinajas and is located on the east side of the forest. When we arrived, we realized we were on a family’s private land, where they have lived for 33 years. There are two homes located on this land just off the river and the family is beyond kind. They graciously opened up their home, their land, and their knowledge for us and the show.

We spent much of the morning and mid-afternoon being filmed and talking with the family, production crew, and site manager. It started with our introduction interviews and our driving scenes (watch the show to find out). Our producer had an entire plan for the episode and we just did what we were told, but don’t let him know that it was actually enjoyable not knowing what to expect! Because we had individualized interviews, we were able to spend time watching the family make us an authentic Puerto Rican lunch, the traditional way. I mean in a small hut with a wood burning fire (with coconut shells to help the fire).

The authentic cuisine was actually part of our story line and we were filmed talking with the family, learning about the food and enjoying the meal. This was COMPLETELY unexpected and incredibly delicious. I mean, we sat outside on a deck overlooking the rain forest with the sound of the river eating rice and beans, pineapple infused chicken, plantains, and drank freshly squeezed starfruit juice followed by fresh passion fruit and a coconut dessert. SPOILED is really the only word to describe this lunch.

Afterwards, a few more filming opportunities were required. By this time we captured all the footage for the day we were loosing light and our producer wrapped the day! We were exhausted but ready to get to the hotel, sit in the hot tub and enjoy a delicious dinner with the crew, which we did!

Day 2 started bright and early and we knew it was going to be a long, exhausting day, but this was the day we were waiting for; the day we came for! Today was the day we would get to go down the rock slides! What I haven’t mentioned is that on Friday, we learned that this location had more than just the rock slides. It had a rope swing as well as a perfectly placed cliff for cliff jumping!

From the family’s house, the first stop is about of 35-45 minute hike, but because we were filming it took us about 60-90 minutes. Of course we had a ton of fun along the way, though I’d expect none the less from me and my friends, plus the producer, who hiked with us, was just as fun!

The first stop of the day was the rope swing and cliff jumping location and the filming included us walking down to the river, our first looks of the location, us entering the water for the first time, and several attempts at rope swinging and cliff jumping! Do you know what a thrilling rush rope swinging and cliff jumping gives you? AND I did both of them twice, for filming of course 🙂 Though I probably would have done it several more times knowing me.

By this time, it’s around 12/1 o’clock and we’d been filming already for 3 hours, so we took a little break by the river (more being spoiled). They wouldn’t even let us help or carry ANYTHING.

After lunch, we continued our hiking to the rock slides and continued filming along the way. It took us another hour before we arrived at our final destinations and OH MY GOSH…HOLY MOLY…they looked amazing!!! There were a few people sliding down them upon arrival and watching them just built up so much adrenaline. I, however, struggled getting up the rope to climb the rock to get to the slides because my body was beyond exhausted. But I didn’t give up because I had no choice. Blakely helped stabilize the ropes to help me finally reach the top!

This is where we spend the next several hours, sliding down the slide, climbing back up (thankfully we found a much easier way up), then sliding back down the slide. Each time, we were being filmed a different way. Once without GoPros, once with the drone, one holding a GoPro, once with it on my ankle, once with the camera at the bottom of the slide, once holding the GoPro in a different position, etc…etc…etc. I think you get the idea. In total, I calculated that I took the slide 10 times. Talk about fatigue, but 1000 times worth every ounce of energy.

It was time to head back to the houses, but we weren’t wrapped yet. Once we made it back, we had to give our final interviews about the adventures. AND FINALLY, after about 10 hours of filming, it was a wrap!

Back to the hotel we went with a quick pit stop to a gas station for refreshments. We spent our evening with the crew members enjoying quality time talking and laughing about this adventure and our lives! It was a perfect ending to a whirlwind Mapless Adventure!

I’m still in utter disbelief that I had this opportunity to film for a show that will be aired on the TRAVEL CHANNEL. It took me a month to write up this summary because I’m still processing the events of this weekend! I can’t wait to watch the final production this spring! You’ll have to stay tuned for the official air date 🙂

Also, don’t forget to follow me on my social media accounts for daily updates of my adventures.

Instagram: MaplessAdventures
Twitter: MaplesAdventure
Snapchat: Colieolie09
Facebook: Mapless Adventures

19 Minutes to Paradise

Little did I know that upon moving to St. Thomas, USVI, my weekend getaway would be San Juan, Puerto Rico. I mean, when I lived in Seattle Washington, Vancouver, BC, Canada was an easy 4 hour drive and I didn’t think twice about taking that drive. Now here I am, living on a Caribbean island and a 19-minute flight is all that stands between me and my “weekend getaway”.

Seriously, 19-minutes from take-off to touch-down. The only downfall is that since it is a flight, I do have to get to the airport a few hours earlier. BUT, it’s still LESS THAN SEATTLE TO VANCOUVER.

Why San Juan? Puerto Rico, a weekend getaway? Really, Puerto Rico?

Have you ever researched Puerto Rico? I haven’t until my co-workers and I started planning our first official “Off the Rock” vacation. “Off the Rock” might seem like a funny way to describe this trip, however, “The Rock” is a local term for St. Thomas and when opportunities, well Mapless Adventures, come to light to get off the rock, it’s hard to say no.

The main motivation of this Mapless Adventure focused around one aspect, Nature. Working indoors with children ages 3-21, 8 hours a day 5 days a week, including collaboration with other disciplines, teachers, and supervisors, the day to day grind can become overwhelming and quite frankly exhausting, so allowing ourselves time to escape to nature is a high priority.

Now, I get the irony. I live on a tropical island in the Caribbean and am surrounded by beaches. Yes, I get it. Why not just go to the beach on the weekends? To be honest, I do. I don’t avoid the beach, but having lived in Washington for the last 4 years, it’s hard to be away from true mountains and forests filled wilderness. But Puerto Rico provides my rainforest-mountain void with El Yunque National Rain Forest!

El Yunque National Rain Forest, formerly known as Luquillo National Forest, is the only TROPICAL rain forest in the United States National Forest Systems and encompasses 29,000 acres, approximately 30-35 minutes east of San Juan. It became a National Forest in 1903 and home to over 200 species of trees and plants, 23 which are indigenous to this rainforest. Want to know something really unique to this rain forest, the temperature averages 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit and rains year round! Plus, it’s home to 13 of the 15 species of Coquis, which are members of the diverse neotropical frog family, found in Puerto Rico, and their sounds can be heard throughout the forest!  Have I hooked you yet…if not just wait, it gets better.o9o999

What hooked my friends and I, wasn’t the Coqui, wasn’t the temperature, or the rain, it was the fresh water ways, including waterfalls and water slides! Our goal…stand and swim under a waterfall. Here is where our adventure begins!

My friends ended up finding an unbelievable steal at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar in their Villas (privately owned condos), which is the hotel directly across the main road from the entrance of the rain forest, so of course we were going to stay, well for two of the four nights (I’ll talk about the Old San Juan nights at the end). We became spoiled at this hotel, because not only were there hardly any humans in our line of sight, we had TWO huge pools, plus the we had access to the resorts pool and hot tub, which was abused to its full extent, after the rainforest of course.

Our first day started a bit later in the afternoon but it didn’t really matter because the weather was still perfect. Once we arrived, the first thing we did was take a visit to the visitor’s center to gather more information regarding these waterfalls, we’d been reading about online. At the visitor’s center, the park ranger provided details about the most popular waterfalls and one more off the beaten path.

The two most popular waterfalls are La Coca and Cascada La Mina. La Coca Waterfall is the easiest to access waterfall as it’s right on the major road and has parking readily available. Cascade La Mina, which is further into the forest, is fairly easy to access and well marked. It is paved majority of the trail and is ~2 mile round trip, no more than 40-45 minutes depending on your walking speed.

Of course we stopped at La Coca Waterfall before heading to Cascada La Mina, and we knew that Cascada La Mina would be busy, but we didn’t know just how busy. When we arrived, there were quite a bit of people so we decided to not swim in the crowded packed waterfall, but that didn’t prevent us, well me, from climbing all over the rocks on the other side of the bridge. After 20-30 minutes, we decided it was time to head back up the trail and head home, to then swim in the pool.

What I didn’t mention was the Yokahu Observation Tower, which is located along the main road. For us, this was a must stop and see and climb, and the time at which we ventured up the tower, included an amazingly perfect rainbow over the rainforest. Seriously, it was breathtaking and beyond stunning. I mean, come on, a rainbow in a rainforest on our way to a waterfall?!? But, back to our adventure.

We arrived back to our villa and it didn’t take long for us to venture to the infinity pool for a early evening swim, followed by dinner, followed by bedtime. Myself, along with two of my three friends, may have stayed awake in Old San Juan until 2:30 AM Thursday-Friday (oops).

By day 2, my friends and I were already starting to feel the power of nature therapy, but we knew we weren’t done. We ventured back into the rainforest earlier than the day before because we had the swim-up bar and hot tub waiting for us back home. This time, however, we had one mission….WATERFALL (without people).

We were able to get information on our first day from the park ranger, and we took him up on his advise and located the trail  “fairly” easily, but there were tour buses parked near the trail and we weren’t getting too excited. Luckily, the tour buses were on the way out as we were on our way in to the falls. These “secret” falls are call Juan Diego Falls and is a series of multiple waterfalls and can take 5 minutes to 45 minutes depending on how far and how difficult you care to hike.

This is where are picture perfect waterfall experience begins. We skipped the first waterfall (as there were people) and when we arrived at #2, well lets just say, majestic. There were two people but they left shortly after our arrival and we had this powerful waterfall and pool completely to ourselves.

So for the next ~40 minutes, my friends and I stood under a waterfall, waded in the pool, and looked out over nature. It’s hard to believe sometimes that this is my life, living these Mapless Adventures in this beautiful, God created world! Nature therapy has worked its magic on myself and my friends.

We returned to the hotel, took a quick nap, and then headed directly to the hot tub and swim up bar, where we stayed the remainder of the evening, followed by dinner then bed. We have another early morning and would be leaving our Nature Therapy escape. El Yunque truly worked to rejuvenate our souls.

In the morning, we returned to Old San Juan, our stomping grounds on our first night in PR, which was mostly just the nightlife experience included salsa dancing at La Factoria, the most unique bar I’ve been to. Add it to your list when you visit San Juan. The night life in Old San Juan was night and day different than here in St. Thomas, and it was nice to have a change in pace and atmosphere.

The day time wandering of Old San Juan included a walk around the fort, moments in Cathedral de San Juan Bautista, some jewelry shopping, and drinking of local coffee. Each place I visit I alway look for unique jewelry, not the typical silver or gold, but things that have a story or made from something 1-of-a-kind type jewelry. My San Juan pieces included earrings made from Sea Fans and earrings/bracelets made from Coconut shells. Defiantly one of a kind and beautiful if I do say so myself.

Due to complete exhaustion from an adventure packed filled weekend, our night ended early just as our morning began early to catch our flight home. This is one of those weekend getaway trips that re-centered my love for traveling, exploring, and going on Mapless Adventures. I barely touched the surface of Puerto Rico and cannot wait to venture back the 19 minutes to see  what else PR has to offer. Stay tuned for some more Mapless Adventures coming to you in the near future!!!

The Beginning of My Island Life

It’s hard to start this post because since landing on St. Thomas last Friday, it’s been completely overwhelming. People always say “it’s island time” and until you are immersed into the culture and lifestyle that doesn’t mean anything. “Island Time” has a whole new meaning to me, and I’ve only been here for a week. I’m positive that is going to change again and again as I continue to become immersed in the daily living of St. Thomas.

For those who don’t know, St. Thomas is 1 of 4 islands which form the U.S. Virgin Islands (along with St. Croix, St. John, and Water Island), an unincorporated territory of the United States since 1917. The island is home to ~51,000 residents over the ~31 square miles of land (that’s 23 miles from end to end), which sounds small but these roads are windy, steep and rough. So in reality it can take you over 2 hours to get from one side of the island to another. AND Traffic, will be, well horrible, from what I was told. We are a major port on many Caribbean cruise lines and I was told there could be as many as 5 ships in the harbor. So picture 10s of thousands of visitors occupying the island, with only 1 road wider than 2 lanes. Most of the windy “island” roads are 2 lanes and at times only wide enough for 1 car to go at a time. Windy roads is probably an understatement as “windy” should be termed “BLIND” corner roads. Let’s just say, it’s an adjustment to understand the road conditions.

I’ve had a few other learning opportunities since arriving on St. Thomas. Here’s what I’ve been able to compile and summarize to the best of my ability.

  1. They drive on the LEFT side of the road and the LEFT side of the car. This is a combination of English style driving and American style driving.
  2. The speed limit ranges from 10-35 mph. 35 mph is the fastest speed limit on the island with the majority of the roads set to 20 mph, but that’s just a suggestion.
  3. Honking is normal and the locals are not afraid to tell you when you aren’t driving correctly, well their standard of driving. I’m not going to lie when I say it’s makes me a little anxious with all the honking, but I’m sure I’ll get use to it. Maybe one day I’ll
  4. Open-Container is legal here and you’ll find that drinking and driving is a common occurrence on the island, however DRUNK driving is NOT. You cannot cause damage to anything.
  5. Obtaining registration for a vehicle is a strict process. You MUST show proof of insurance. Yes, that’s correct. You CANNOT drive without insurance and you will get stopped if you don’t have the necessary tags on your vehicle. (This I like!) They have check points that will ask for your paperwork and they will tow.
  6. Social etiquette such as “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon”, or “Good Evening” are necessities when entering into a building, or even just walking down the street. It’s frowned upon when these greetings are not used.
  7. It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know, and in our case, it’s knowing our landlord and her family. Did I mention that the island is a small, tight knit community?  Well, our landlord and her family know just about everyone, so we are well connected and it’s a good feeling.

After the initial culture shock and several learning experiences, my time on the island has been fairly relaxing. I moved into a two bedroom 1 bathroom apartment with another co-worker upon my first day, as I was able to secure my living quarters prior to arrival. Honestly, people always become fearful of Craigslist, but securing my living quarters was probably the smartest thing I did, because it was one less factor I had to deal with during my non-working days. Oh, did I mention our amazing view? The apartment is located on the Northside of the island upon a hill overlooking Hull Bay and the mouth of Magen’s Bay. Off to the right, you can see several mini-islands including a beautiful sunrise. Pretty spectacular and I’ve sat on my patio every morning and every night since arriving.

Now aside from living quarters, my time has been spent securing a vehicle (which I did successfully), registering the vehicle (I did this successfully), locating the grocery stores (I haven’t gone hungry), and exploring multiple beaches and hotspots around the island. And by multiple beaches I mean 4 beaches
and I barely touched the surface. At these beaches, snorkeling can be done right off the beach and I made sure to pack my snorkeling gear. You can imagine that I abused this chance and will continue to abuse this freedom to snorkel so beware of picture overload, when I’m able to purchase a better underwater camera, a.k.a. a GoPro. People have told me you’re able to snorkel with stingrays and turtles all within the coast line. Yup, I’m officially in Paradise 🙂

Keep on Adventuring, Nicole

When a Job Lands at Your Feet

I quite honestly don’t know where to begin. It’s hard to say how I landed my next job assignment, but I know it came at the right time.

If you read one of my recent post, then you know I was laid off in May and worked my last day as a full time Speech Language Pathologist on June 1st. Many of you might think, “I thought they were in high demand?!” And you might be right…when it comes to the school systems, but for me, I was dead set on the adult population. And well, um, this population, the demand is…less in demand. With the constant changes with Medicare, insurances, and billing requirements, skilled nursing rehabilitation is changing. This has been my primary setting and primary focus for the last 4 1/2 years. It’s what I’m skilled in; it’s what I enjoy doing; it’s where I thought my heart and passion belonged.

However, as usual, God had another plan for me.

I spend a good solid portion of the first two weeks in June, APPLYING. Applying to any type  of adult or medical position I found on every type of job board that is out there. I posted my resume on Indeed.com, where I’ve been blessed with excellent outcomes. I prayed and prayed that someone would lead to a call back, to an interview, to ANYTHING.

Two weeks went by and nothing. Feeling defeated, frustrated, and scared don’t really give you a good idea of my emotional status. Then came the email. The life altering, life change email. This particular email was from a staffing agency for a school system (not my preference), but what caught my eye was the location in which they were hiring SLPs…

St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.

“Um…WAIT. You mean you are reaching out to me for placement in the VIRGIN ISLANDS?” These words actually went through my head and like any grown adult female, I forwarded the email to my mom and dad. I don’t make decisions lightly nor without my parents approval (mom and dad really do know what’s best). Here were their responses

Dad: “Wow, lot to absorb.”

Mom: “I think you should continue the process, fill out paperwork ect.  Your not accepting and might be dead end but it is very interesting.”

I did what my mom advised me to do and I honestly did not think for one second I had a shot. I haven’t been a school SLP since graduation and it’s been since probably 2010 since I last worked with a child, but I took a chance. How often does a job opportunity like this land at your feet?!!  I could mentally prepare myself for the school systems. I mean, I grew up thinking and believing I’d work with children. I always did love children. At least, that’s what I kept saying to myself.

The time between the interview and acceptance of the job was a little more than a week and I’ve been in a whirlwind ever since.

I got the job that landed at my feet without believe in myself that I’d even get offered the position. (confidence booster and reality check when people see something in me that I couldn’t see myself)

I took the job that’s going to have me move, yet again, out of my known environment and requiring me to sell most of my belongings. (starting fresh, not starting over)

I took the job that is out of my comfort and safety zone in my career in hopes for further growth. (growth is good for the soul)

I took the job that God has given me and opened the door to guide me into a new unknown.  (learning experiences and God’s guided path)

I took the job that is going to teach me more about myself as a person and as a clinician.

I took the job that I’m going to put every ounce of my heart and soul into because I was hired to make a difference in those children’s lives.

I might not have started this summer as a school SLP, but I sure am now! Life doesn’t always take you down a straight path or even a path you are hoping for, but God sure knows how to guide you down the right detour to lead you to a better outcome 🙂