Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Peruvian Birthday!

Another year older, another year wiser!

I'm so happy to be celebrating my 32nd birthday here in Peru! Gosh, who would have thought?

Those of you who have been following my blog, and most of my friends know that every year on my birthday, I aim to do "something I've never done before". Last year, I got my "pourquoi pas" tattoo - which I still love, by the way... And this year, well, when I realized I was going to be in Peru, I initially planned on being in Macchu Pichu to celebrate... but then the organization that I'm volunteering in, The Light and Leadership Initiative, needed me to help out sooner than the 25th of March, so... I thought it might be nice and fresh to count "Volunteering to teach English in Peru" as my "never done before" birthday act! To be giving back for a change! And I gotta say, it has been so wonderful so far.

Light And Leadership

Last week, I talked a little bit about the organization... Well, now that I've had more than a week of working experience here, I can now proudly and honestly say that they are an AMAZING group of people working towards a great cause, and I am SO HAPPY and LUCKY to be here!

I teach English (and PE and Art) to both kids and adults, and I gotta say I enjoy them all. I don't have a favorite... At first I wasn't too confident about teaching the little ones because my experience in teaching was mostly for adults... but after my first class, I realized that age doesn't really matter when I teach... I've almost forgotten how much fun I have in the classroom, and how good I am in reaching out to people of all ages and races. I play the ukulele and teach them songs in my class too - which is great, because LLI is flexible enough to give me that freedom. I'm back in my element, and I am having the time of my life with all these people! 

Oh - and did I tell you my Spanish teacher name? It's Miss Tierra. Tierra, in Spanish, means "Earth". No one could ever pronounce my name properly here so to make things easier for everyone, I am called "Tierra" in Spanish and Latin American countries. :)

A student, Cristina, gifted/dedicated her artwork to me <3
Tierra - that's me!!!

The Volunteers

I've said it before and I'll say it again... The group of volunteers in this house are quite possibly the best, kindest, most amazing people to ever come together under the same roof. Every single one of these people could rule the world with their skills and vibrant personalities, and they are here making a difference in Huaycan, right in the middle of nowhere Peru! I am floored and in awe everyday, working with these people. It just makes the experience that much more meaningful and rewarding... because I've only been with them for a week, and already we have become such good friends. I'm so lucky to always be surrounded by bright lights... SO LUCKY.

Double Birthday

I also happen to share my birthday with one of the fierce ladies here in LLI, Karen (she turned 23, I turned 32... PERFECTION)! And so we thought of doing a double birthday bash which involved cake, food, karaoke and some dancing! On the 25th, our actual birth date, the crew got us a Tres Leches Cake (delicious!) for a little candle blowing... We went out to dinner together, and did a little Karaoke (upon my urging).

The next day, we ventured out into Lima for an overnight trip... Lima just has more options in terms of a night life, so we hung out at the rooftop of the hostel they booked, had a really chill out pre-party over there, then headed out to a club for some dancing action...

Nose Piercing

The day after, I went and got my nose pierced. :)

It's weird... I feel like I'm regressing, sort of like Benjamin Button. Lately I've been inclined to do these random things - like get a tattoo, highlight my hair bright red, and get my nose pierced... you know, stuff that people usually do when they're younger. Mind you - these are things that I've ALWAYS wanted to do, but felt I couldn't, because the corporate world wouldn't allow me to. I was always too afraid of the consequences of looking a little radical, because it might dim my chances of being taken seriously, or getting a job. In corporate, and I suppose in a lot of other situations, perception is everything... and I didn't want to be perceived as a pierced, tattooed, and bright colored hippie.

Little by little though, as I've gone through this trip, my world has changed. I think what's really happening is that I'm finally allowing my physical body to reflect what's really inside of me... My true inner self - which is unique, creative, and colorful! :)

I love my new look! You can't really see much of the piercing because the stud that was used had to be tiny first... I'm due to change the little stud for something brighter and bigger in a couple weeks when it's fully healed. Right now it just looks like a silver blackhead... Like a silverhead, basically. But it's heart shaped and cute!

See that TINY dot on my nose? That's not a speck of dirt on your monitor.
That's actually my stud. 

Post-Birthday Thoughts

I was thinking about how - my birthday last year and getting a tattoo was a pretty good marker of when my round the world trip adventure started, because I quit my job a few days after that. And looking back at what I've seen and what I've done and who I've met since then blows my mind. I think you guys are witness to the fact that my year has been pretty incredible.

I keep thinking... Is it really possible for someone to be THIS lucky?

Then I think maybe it's not all luck. I think your world really is just a reflection of how you feel, how you think, and what you give out. My world this year has been amazing and exciting, because EVERYDAY, I feel amazing and exciting! I've always looked forward to where I was going next, what I was going to do, and who I was going to meet. Because I'm traveling, and doing what I feel like I'm meant to do, my heart is constantly just full... and it makes me happy. Plainly happy!

Another thing I noticed about myself is that lately, being grateful has become more of a habit now than something I have to remind myself to do or be. Like - it's sort of automatic for me to whisper "thank you" for anything good that happens everyday... Anytime I arrive safely in one place... or anytime I witness a beautiful sunset... or meet a new person I really connect with... or when I eat a good breakfast... or even when I hear a good song on the radio... Automatically, my mind "smiles" and says "thank you".

Being grateful has given me a better sense of being. It gives me the feeling of congruence... Like I'm exactly where I'm meant to be at this point. In all the choices that I've made lately, from choosing next destinations to hostels I've booked, or even in choosing restaurants to eat in... I feel like I'm being guided. I've learned to trust my instincts more, and it hasn't led me astray.

So I dunno... maybe good luck is only what we call beautiful things falling into place when you decide to start living the life you were meant to live. Maybe we're all meant to be lucky in this world, if we were only brave enough to pursue our own happiness. :)

For my birthday, there is really nothing else I could wish for, because I HAVE everything I need... I am the youngest 32 year old in the world, and I have never been happier than I am this past year. I am content and complete <3

So instead, I am going to use my wish on you guys... My dear friends, on my birthday, I wish for you... The courage to pursue your right to happiness... May your thoughts be clear and hearts be full, and may you all be brave enough to live your true destinies... to "get lucky" in life, as I have been fortunate enough to be.

Cheers to another INCREDIBLE year! Salud! :)