Archive for August, 2010

I can’t say much these days to phase my mom.

My initial scare tactics began as a child, when I boldly announced my desire to go to summer camp.  My parents halfheartedly acquiesced.  I thanked them by yelling in protest when they came to pick me up.

My second attempt at freedom came when I boldly announced my desire to go to boarding school.  Contrary to popular belief, I went there willingly, in full sanity.  My parents neither shipped me off, nor did I commit a heinous crime.  Hey, some people like the taste of a fine wine.  I prefer the taste of freedom.  So, once again, I headed off, much to my dad’s chagrin.

From there I moved away from gateway travel and started hitting the hard stuff.  Spain for a year-long study abroad stint, followed by a summer in Brazil.  I started trying it all.  It didn’t matter what it was, as long as I could get my travel high.  I ventured to South Korea to visit a friend, returned to Brazil and hit up Mozambique, among a bevy of other less potent trips.

Through it all, my mom consistently maintained her cool.  My dad…not so much.

And then, while well-poised to keep my dad’s blood pressure at a cool 120/80, I dropped the unexpected:  “I’m going to Beirut.  Lebanon, that is.  Beirut, Lebanon.  Yes, dad, the one that’s just north of Israel.  Yes, the one that often makes the news.”

This announcement was followed, by a long bout of silence, from both of my parental units.  But I knew that for each parent the silence should be interpreted in different ways.

From my mom:  “I’m processing this.  This is my daughter, and she often comes up with crazy, harebrained ideas.  Has she thought this through?  Will she change her mind in a week?  I’ve always told her to travel and explore the world.  She’s living her life like I wish I would have at her age.  I’m trusting God to keep her safe.”

From my dad:  “I’m processing this.  This is my daughter, and she often comes up with crazy, harebrained ideas. #^@%@&@(#(#).”

I wish I could share the rest, but my dad’s a good Christian man, and even his thoughts are censored.

Let me give this whole thing some context.

While the two screens I was offered at my corporate gig seemed a step up from the laptop my previous Big 4 Accounting Firm offered me, I still couldn’t quite scratch the itch I was feeling to travel.  To see, explore and understand the world.  To put the news I watch on my TV screen into context and maybe even help write some of it.

I longed for the ten-times recycled air generously ventilated throughout the plane, crying babies, irritated by cabin pressure, who felt fully liberated in letting us know about it, and often cranky American flight attendants.  I needed a good adventure.

However, let me be clear, this is no quarter life crisis trip.  This fits into the whole scheme of things.  This is me stepping out in faith and taking a risk to accomplish “that which otherwise would not have been accomplish.”  This is an expansion of my Sand Pails and Beach Balls lists.  Goals can’t just be limited to the summer time.  I’ll clue you in more on how it all fits together in a later post.

You may have heard me say it before, but I ran (and walked) a ½ marathon in Spain, without any training.  The only thing I had to guide me were the words of Muhammad Ali, “When a man says I cannot, he has made a suggestion to himself.  He has weakened his power of accomplishing that which otherwise would have been accomplished.”  And I’m taking that attitude with me now, except this time, I’ve got a little somethin’ extra.

While Ali had all the cockiness of God, God he is not.  And that’s the main advantage I take with me on this trip.  I feel inspired and guided this time.  I’m excited for the adventure, excited to teach my students and excited to learn and grow.

Don’t worry mom, I plan to have an adventure that lets you maintain the ever- present calm that’s fitting of the diva you are.


I found myself in Detroit this weekend, and after observing the expected site of abandoned buildings and dilapidated houses, I made my normal round of jokes.  Blame it on the Chicagoan in me.  But then, after I stopped my clowning, I saw something very unexpected.  In fact, I saw several unexpecteds.

Deep down in the heart of the city, past the abandoned buildings and the rubble of bricks that boasted of better days, I saw a fighter’s spirit.  I was able to recognize it, because I have one too.

I was wowed by the Riverwalk and amazed by the gorgeous loft-like apartment that my friends call home.  Its high ceilings with exposed wood beams hearken to the building’s former life, as a piano warehouse, or a storage facility for car parts or some other industrial location that was required of the formerly industrious city.

After a short stroll the Riverwalk opened to a plaza that hosted a modest African/Caribbean festival set to the sound of the familiar thump of reggae music.  Vendors hawked their wares of scarves transformed into dresses, natural soap, Roti and ginger beer.

I even found some creativity.

Detroit taught me something about unexpected adventures.  As summer is drawing to an end, I’m looking over my Beach Balls and Sand Pails list and I’m checking it twice.  While I’ve touched on just about everything I wanted to do this summer (meaning that I’m working on things in the hopes of accomplishing them), I’m wondering where I’ll find the next adventure, and something tells me it’ll be in an unexpected place.

Are you open to finding your next adventure?

On the 3rd of May, just three months ago, despite my fear of commitment, I jotted down a few summertime goals, hoping to chip away at my life to do list.  The funny thing is, the goal I was the least sure about completing, is the one I finished first.

½ Marathon, CHECK.

What else you got?