It has been so long since I have written a blog post I don’t exactly recall how this works! HA! If you are receiving this email, you followed me on my adventure as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay years ago. Well, the adventure continues!

I re-read my last few blogs about my final days in Paraguay and then what life was like one year later after returning. So many tears! I cried for the friendships that were so heartbreaking for me to leave. I didn’t know if I would see or hear from them again.

I shed tears after reading about what life was like a year later after I returned home… I sounded like such a wise, life-savvy individual (pfffft, I am definitely still trying to find my way through this life). Two points I made stood out to me the most that I’d love to share:

Read:  It’s always best to come out of a situation knowing that you have been the bigger, better person.

Another strength I have acquired is the ability to let things go, which sounds a lot like forgiveness. There are developing-country problems and there are first world problems. There are daily struggles and there are life struggles… Where do we choose to focus our energy?

Sometimes life tells us what we need to hear quite serendipitously.

When I read about what my life was like after returning to Bend for a year… I admittedly have to say that my life is exactly the same. I am constantly enamored by the love my community provides me and I still spend all of my free time outside. I struggle to find the meaning in my daily life… if I am happy and sharing that life-stoke with everyone around me, is that enough? But also work, pay bills, eat, sleep, repeat… I can’t help but drift away in my thoughts about what a different life would be like…

One of my survival techniques in the Peace Corps was to always have something to look forward to, so…..


I am ecstatic about the decision to visit. I’ve been thinking about it for quite a long time now. My trip is still a few months away, but the excitement, nostalgia, language refreshing… it feels meaningful. So far I have only told my dear friend, Andrea. She probably won’t believe it until I am literally walking up that hill. And that’s right, I am WALKING up that hill again! Additionally, my DEAREST friend, Wendy, who was also a volunteer at the same time who became one of my bestest friends, is meeting me down there to catch up in person! So far 2023 is taking flight!

Image below from my Instagram feed today. Quite perfect 🙂

One year…

Exactly one year ago today I was on a plane heading to Patagonia… I had finished my two years of service in the remote village of Apyragua, Paraguay… I had my official swear out ceremony as a Peace Corps volunteer, I fit my life belongings into less than two bags… I was a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

Honestly, I left Apyragua and never wanted to look back. It was a bittersweet departure. In the end, I focused my time on the few folks that really took the effort to know and understand me. I let go of the relationships that didn’t. I felt the burden of guilt for my disdain for the folks that saw me for what I had rather than who I was… My need for everyone to accept me was gone; I couldn’t be the bigger person and let their comments and requests for my belongings roll off my back. I didn’t want a going away party… I slipped out one early morning and was dropped off at the bus station in the pueblo.

Over the past year I have thought a lot about the burden of guilt. More than anything I wanted my service to end on that pitch-perfect note, with the best response to the question, “How was it?” and being able to say, “It was great!” In my thoughts and pondering, I connected guilt and forgiveness. I thought that if I forgave the folks who challenged me in such a difficult way, I would stop feeling so guilty for having so many struggles in my community.

The power of forgiveness is incredible. When I decided I needed to forgive and let go, I found out that I was allowing me to forgive myself. I allowed myself to think fondly of all the people, without the negative feelings that I had been carrying. It opened up the idea of returning to Apyragua someday to visit. And I think about what that would be like. I would visit all people; be kind to all regardless of our past struggles. I would forget and forgive the hard times and laugh and embrace the good ones. I would still remember my broken Guarani the best I could… And there would be traditional guitar playing and moonshine drinking and so much laughing…

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I never knew how much personal growth would come out of this experience. I now have the ability to look at myself and recognize my strengths, but also fully take responsibility for my weaknesses. I allow myself to admit my faults and figure out ways in which I can be a better person.  Read:  It’s always best to come out of a situation knowing that you have been the bigger, better person.

One of my strengths I never want to lose is my ability to find gratitude in so many things; even smallest gestures, moments… I have found as time goes on my gratitude has started to fade and it worries me that I will forget what is important in the big picture and what is and isn’t worth worrying about.

Another strength I have acquired is the ability to let things go, which sounds a lot like forgiveness. There are developing-country problems and there are first world problems. There are daily struggles and there are life struggles… Where do we choose to focus our energy? When it is best to take a deep breath and let it go? When I find myself getting frustrated by ridiculous things, I always need to come back here and remind myself: the sun always comes up tomorrow, everything passes in time, and the level of the problem is probably so insignificant; I should let it go.

I cannot leave out the art of “living in the moment.” This is something that I trained and trained myself to do when living in Paraguay and the time was ticking at a ridiculously slow rate. I trained myself to only think about where I am in the present moment and to not muddle my mind with worries of the future. The future is unknown and therefore pointless to worry too much about! Heck, we could die tomorrow, therefore we might as well focus on living every present moment to the fullest and with the best intentions set!

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Other than significant personal growing over the past year, I have been absolutely ecstatic reconnecting with my family and friends. My community in Bend is phenomenal. Everyone in my life has helped me readjust to our culture and remind me of all the wonderful things I sacrificed for so many years.

My enthusiasm for the outdoors continues to thrive. I have been fortunate to go on some amazing trips to Yosemite with my family, several climbing trips in the west, hitting up all the local gems for mountain biking, SUPing, kayaking, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, and hopefully soon snowboarding! I am extremely fortunate to have a job in the outdoor industry that not only helps outfit customers, the company also encourages me to get outside as much as possible. And that, I do.

I’m psyched to have “food freedom,” where I can drive to the grocery store to buy whatever I want, regardless of how heavy it is, and drive straight to my front door and deliver my groceries! Somewhere along the lines of not having a variety of foods, my culinary artistic side of me was compromised, but I’m slowing getting my desire to cook and bake back.

And the hot shower… enough said. 🙂

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A few days ago I received a message from my best Paraguayan friend, Andrea. She and Marcos are making their marriage official today. So much of me wants to be there with her and her family to celebrate in true Paraguayan style… a little traditional music, some wine, a lot of laughter… It breaks my heart to miss such a significant moment in a dear friend’s life. One day I envision myself hiking up that big hill, unannounced, and surprising all of those Apyragua folks. Magic. 🙂

And, I can still speak Guarani. Añe’e porati!

Sadly, I envision this to be my last blog of this incredible adventure… unless a few years down the road make it back to Apyragua and have updates from that tiny farm community 🙂 I hope you all have enjoyed my journey over the past few years and am of course grateful 🙂 for your support and interest. Graciamante! 🙂