I Moved to Thailand?!!!!!

Have you ever had a moment where you knew you needed some type of a chance to get you out of a funk or bad habit?

This was me back in February.

After the hurricanes, life changed and almost everything on the island became a challenge. Work was harder: more children to see, more schools to drive to, and lack of internet to be able to access files (thankfully, we did have hard copies). Driving was life or death on every road due to little to no stop lights/stop signs. Even obtaining basic necessities could take a full day if not a couple days. So by February, my mind knew it needed a change…the challenge was the “Where and What” factor.

When I first started thinking, Arizona became the first thought. After all, it is where my family lives and it is where I spent majority of my life. I could…but when I truly started putting my heart and my head together, the pull to Arizona just wasn’t there. So it was back to the drawing board…

It took two days before an old roommate’s story came to mind. When our house in Seattle decided to each go out separate way, one of my roommates took the opportunity to move abroad to Thailand to teach English. I started doing my own research and reached out to her for more information. It didn’t take me any time before my heart and my head started lining up and I knew this was it. This was the change I needed.

The opportunity to travel, learn to speak a new language, put myself in difficult situations, and experience a new type of career, being a teacher…SOLD. My heart, soul, mind, everything lined up. This was it.

I immediately went online too apply for the position. I decided to use a recruitment type company called Greenheart Travel, a non-profit organization to run an extensive amount of programs for people of all ages. These programs include but not limited to homestays, exchanges, teach/work abroad, and volunteering.

Choosing to go through a teach abroad program vs. independently moving abroad and finding a job wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I liked the idea that I’d have endless amount of support in obtaining the necessary visas and work documents,  setting up accommodations, completing and obtaining the appropriate TESOL certification, setting up a bank account, setting up a phone number, AND even help find teaching jobs and placement into schools.

Don’t get me wrong, it probably is cheaper to find a job by simplying moving to Thailand, but I personally LOVED having someone assist me and knowing I had a guaranteed job as an English Teacher takes a LOT of the stress out of moving to a new country.

From the start of the application process in February, to interviewing in March, to paying off the program cost in June,  and purchasing the plane ticket in July, the adventurous spirit inside me slowly began growing again.

I was sad to be ending my time on St Thomas and leaving the children I truly adored and cared for and leaving behind an amazing group of lifelong friends, but a new adventure was waiting for me and I was ready to pack up my life and move to Thailand.

So here I am writing to you in Chiang Mai, Thailand about my “WHY” and my “HOW” I made the leap into moving to Thailand! It has only been 12 days  and I’m in love. Stay tuned for “My First Week In Thailand” blog.

When Family Visits the Island(s)

I have waited for this week to come since my family booked their flights nearly 3 months prior. It’s hard to live so far away from family at times but one of the best part is being able to show them a new part of me and a new country.

This wasn’t just a normal family trip however. This was my younger brother’s FIRST EVER time off the continental United States, and it would be his FIRST time receiving a PASSPORT STAMP.  I mean he’s 26 years old and has only ever traveled within the US and Mexico, so this older sister was beyond stoked. Alright, I get that you might not understand why this is a big deal, but I LOVE being able share travel adventures with my favorite people in the world!

I was eager for my parents too, Read more

Puerto Rico: 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. Read more

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 🙂

A Hiking Adventure- Winter Edition: Lake Valhalla

Here in Seattle, winter can be well…wet and grey. I try my hardest to not let it affect me much, even though it’s completely opposite from Arizona winters. The wet and grey never really stop me from doing anything outside because it is just rain. Last year, I trained for running races and did a few non-snow hikes in the rain and cold. This year, however, I decided it was time to venture out into the mountains and to the snow.

Every since leaving college in Cedar Falls, IA and Flagstaff, AZ, snow hasn’t really been something I seek out for fun and enjoyment. It’s cold. It’s wet. Did I mention it’s cold. I didn’t really enjoy it much in Iowa, though I had more sleet and ice storms than snow storms, and I only did 1 day worth of snowboarding during my 2-years in Flagstaff. To be honest, I only remember a few (<5) times where my family ventured into the snow; skiing in Utah and sledding in Prescott to name a couple. I mean, after all my parents did move AWAY from the snow and cold when I was only 6 months old.

So why did things change this year and my new found love for the snow? Well, first off, Seattle is only 45 minutes from the western boarder of the Cascades Mountain Range, and the beginning of winter included MANY feet of fresh powder, which was something we didn’t get the past couple of years.  Several of my friends started posting pictures of their snowshoeing and snowboarding adventures with beautiful white snow capped mountains. The more they posted, the more I became intrigued and eager to explore.

After talking with my friend Chris, we set a date to head eastbound and have a little snowshoeing exploration of an area just east of Stevens Pass, a popular snowboarding/skiing destination (Chris did the destination planning). I was able to obtain an inexpensive but sturdy pair of snowshoes prior to this adventure, which was a great decision to purchase instead of renting. Renting snowshoes from REI can cost around $40 and I was able to snag mine for $70 at Costco. I didn’t feel like spending more as I wasn’t sure if I’d like snowshoeing or not, but I also didn’t feel that the $30 difference was worth not purchasing.

It was finally time to head off towards the mountains and the sun was shining though the weather was FREEZING. When we arrived at the trailhead (or roadside), Chris’s car temp gauge read 2 degrees. I cannot tell you the last time I was in 2 degree weather, let alone 2 degree weather starting a HIKE.

Chris choose a trail to a place called Lake Valhalla, a known nordic location for cross-country/downhill skiers. Before we got started, Chris spent sometime getting me up to speed on my snowshoes and it took a few steps before I was feeling comfortable (though my poor hands were freezing).

For the next couple hours, we shoe’d our way upwards, stopping occasionally for some pictures and eventually found ourselves at a flat surface, but no lake was located. We continued snowshoeing downwards before turning back towards the flat. It was at this point that we discovered the lake was off to the side of the flat surface but completely covered in snow.  I guess we should have known it’d be cover as the mountains got about 4 feet of snow. After we learned this, we stopped for a short snack break completed with tea and coffee!

These hours spent in the mountains, consistently took my breath away. With the amount of snowfall covering the mountain peaks and treetops, the overwhelming white was beyond perfection. My heart and soul were filled with happiness, peace, and love for the snow. It was this trip that I could truly say, I love the winter and I love the snow. The pictures don’t even do this trip justice.