eastern caribbean travel, Peace Corps, peace corps response, singles travel adventure

Adventurous Badass

This year…I want to go on more adventures!  That is what I posted on Facebook on January 1, 2015.  The universe delivered in ways I couldn’t have foreseen.

Go on more adventures meme jan 2015

 

In early 2015 you could find me hiking up a mammoth mountain in two feet of snow and snowmobiling in Vermont, USA with my best friend, Tina, while away at a girls weekend.  Snowmobiling is my new sport love; I felt like a badass and it was exhilarating!  Bucket list item…check.

snowmobiling pic with Tina Mar 2015 VT cabin

There’s no way I could’ve imagined that in October I’d be immersed in a radically different environment trekking through the rain forest and bathing in a waterfall in Soufriere, Saint Lucia.  Surreal.  Incredible.  I feel so fortunate to be in this space and place.  Bucket list item…check!

Enbaus Sau Rainforest saint lucia hike Oct 2015

First sighting of water while hiking the En Bas Saut Trail in the rain forest

As the year 2015 is in its final hours I reflect on what I have experienced, how the universe has delivered, how I was willing to risk everything for the unknown, what I leave behind and what I will take with me into 2016.

What I am leaving behind in 2015…

  • Lost friendships
  • Lost love
  • Lost family
  • Sadness surrounding the losses
  • Failure(s)…I’ve lost count yet shows I keep trying 🙂
  • Split ends (7+ months…yes, I need a haircut desperately!)
  • The hope of a better past

What I am leaping forward with into 2016…

  • New friendships
  • Opportunity to serve something bigger than me
  • Ambition in my work as a Peace Corps Volunteer
  • Problem solving that leads to a brighter tomorrow for me and my hospital
  • Stretching my ability to face and thrive in adversity
  • Exploring more of my home island
  • Openness to what may come
  • Finding greater peace and total acceptance of myself (the good, the bad, the ugly)
  • Remaining open to love
  • No expectations (this remains an ongoing hurdle)
  • Living in the moment
  • wonderful memories from 2015

I wish you all a Happy New Year!  I hope it is all of what you dream.  As for me, I know that I want to go on more adventures in 2016!

Stay tuned…because I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

Other blogs you may be interested in:

-David: http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/

-Bash: http://www.bashhalow.blogspot.com/

-Kate: https://everywhereismydestination.wordpress.com/

-Chris: https://cannitopeacecorps.wordpress.com/

-Shelby: https://shelbyec.wordpress.com/

-Anna: https://hobbsseehobbsdo.wordpress.com/

-Mary: http://www.theknockabout.org/

-Alan: http://www.pcinec.net/

~Brie Messier, MBA

 

 

 

 

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eastern caribbean travel, horses, Peace Corps, peace corps response

She likes to do what?

She was eager to get in the water.  There was no hesitation.  She went deeper into the ocean, small waves crashing against us as I made silly faces of disbelief.  Little did I know I was about to embark on a new experience.  Gem, is her name.  My steady and sure mare who loves to be in the ocean.

Gem and I taking the plunge

Gem and I taking the plunge

Don’t get me wrong, I have been swimming with horses nearly all my life.  My best friend, Tina, and I swam with horses when we were kids in my pond on rte. 89 in Mansfield, CT, USA.  We’d ride bareback with each other or we would ride with the saddle so we could pull the other around.  The rivers were fabulous for lining the horses up and jumping off their butts or be even more daring by swimming underneath all of them.  Horses float.  It is such a cool thing. While in St. Augustine, FL, my beautiful and smart horse, Penney,was willing to brave the ocean surf which is often scary for them.  We even swam in a pond once.  I never trusted the rivers or ponds in the south because of the alligators!  I steered clear most of the time.

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She simply loved the ocean

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On my 3rd month anniversary, 9/26/15, of living in Augier, Saint Lucia I got an experience of a lifetime.  The pictures only show a fraction of the experience.  I sure wish I had a GoPro camera to capture all the moments.  Let me paint the scene for you; we untacked my horse, I got a leg up from Max, and off I went to the beach.  She was slippery, I was wobbly, and laughing.  That can be a recipe for disaster.  I told Max not to laugh if I fell off!

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Blissfully pawing, playing in the ocean

I waded into the water a bit, kind of like dipping my toes in to see how it’d be.  Gem, although for the longest time I thought her name was Jim, pawed the water happily.  I thought that was it but then Max joined me.  He said he was “going to bathe a bit.”  Bathe here means swim.  As Max walked further and further out with Sensai following, we joined.  I figured, if he’s going, I can go, too!  At this point, Gem and I were swimming!  In the ocean!  I had this ear to ear smile plastered on my face.  I went back and forth and around Max.  It was blissful.  Just then, Max said she’s likes to roll.  “Huh?  She likes to do what?  Roll?  In the water?”  No sooner did he say that did Gem lay down in the water!!!  Holy crap.  I slid off of her and stayed close by.  I held her reins in my hands and she proceeded to repeat this five or so times.  It was crazy.  Never, in my life have I seen a horse do this.  Forget me being happy, Gem was happy as a clam.

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Galloping on Honeymoon Beach

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how utterly amazing it was to swim alongside my horse in the ocean.  I rubbed her face, she towed me around as I hung onto her barrel.  I could feel the power of her legs and swoosh of the water as she paddled around.  In that moment there was nothing but peace, quiet, joy…  The seaweed that normally freaks me out barely even registered with me.  I was too in tune with Gem.  I watched the horses nudge each other, Max floating face down nearby, and me, well…I simply took it all in.  At one point, Max said “you look so happy!”  He was right.

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Feeling joyful

When we finally headed toward home, I watched as Max swung himself swiftly onto Sensai’s back and laughed at myself as I could hear my mom’s words of long ago “Get on that horse lard ass!”  It’s been a few years since I could just swing myself up on my horse.  We rode off into the sunset as the moon slowly rose above and glinted off the water….

Stay tuned…because I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

Other blogs you may be interested in:

-David: http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/

-Bash: http://www.bashhalow.blogspot.com/

-Kate: https://everywhereismydestination.wordpress.com/

-Chris: https://cannitopeacecorps.wordpress.com/

-Shelby: https://shelbyec.wordpress.com/

-Anna: https://hobbsseehobbsdo.wordpress.com/

-Mary: http://www.theknockabout.org/

-Alan: http://www.pcinec.net/

-Erin: http://pceasterncaribbean.blogspot.com/2015/07/

~Brie Messier, MBA

Note:  The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps 

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eastern caribbean travel, human medicine, peace corps response

Beyond Impressive

I’m struggling to find my voice, the right voice in order to tell the story of St. Jude Hospital (SJH).  A voice that is honest yet sensitive.  It is a special story.  One that I couldn’t have imagined before arriving on island.  When I read the job description for SJH I knew it was the right fit.  I never even looked at another listing.  It was St. Jude or nothing.  The location was insignificant.  The pull was too strong.  Once I arrived, the CEO, Dr. Chierry Poyotte, told me he envisioned me coming to them.  Me.

map of caribbean

I’ll admit I originally thought my St. Jude was the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital based in the US.  It isn’t.

Rising from the Ashes is exactly what St. Jude Hospital was forced to do when its hospital, originally located in Augier, was destroyed by a raging fire on Sept 9, 2009.   A team of nearly 350 provide primary, specialty and emergency medical care to the southern region of the country which comprises roughly 68,0000 people.  To survive, to be displaced, to reorganize, and to make a stadium work as a hospital is beyond impressive.  There aren’t many organizations that can say they have endured and done what the St. Jude Hospital team has accomplished.

Vieux-Fort (VF) is the town and Augier is community within VF.

Vieux-Fort (VF) is the town and Augier is community within VF.

The stadium I speak of is George Odlum located in Vieux-Fort.  St. Jude literally took a sports stadium and turned it into a temporary hospital, albeit it’s been 6 yrs, so it could carry on with its mission.

This year, on the anniversary of the fire, the CEO, Public Relations, and I went around the hospital meeting with every department impromptu to thank them for their hard work through the years.  We acknowledged the “stadium fatigue” that is consuming them.  We encouraged them in this final push before we get to our new hospital…don’t give up…the light is at the end of the tunnel..  Even though we see the light, the feeling on the street is skepticism about the new hospital coming to fruition.  The people of St. Lucia are tired of hearing “next year.”  They don’t understand why it’s taking so long.

15 acre compound that houses the new St. Jude Hospital. This is the light at the end of the tunnel.

15 acre compound that houses the new St. Jude Hospital. This is the light at the end of the tunnel.

There are things that I’ve seen here that would never fly in a human or the best veterinary hospitals in the US.  The hard reality is the stadium is crumbling before our eyes.  In spite of this, the team pours their blood, sweat and tears into their work to be better every day.  It’s beyond tough to achieve best medical standards when there isn’t enough money to fix doors to a medical ward, replace flooring, provide certain tests, or to treat a certain illness.  Dirty electricity keeps us from putting in new equipment for fear it will be ruined outright.  The main focus though…is that the hospital strives to do right by it’s patients with what they have.  It is inspirational!

ER waiting area

ER waiting area

The generosity of companies and individuals who donate supplies, money and themselves is the human spirit at it’s finest. It is a long standing tradition and a foundation pillar of St. Jude.  During my 85 days thus far I have worked with volunteers comprised of doctors, nurses, educators, and a film maker, from the UK, Canada, and the US.  Also, during this time I have had the privilege of participating in small ways with Direct Relief and Americares through deciding what medications we need to how to logistically handle being the hub for distribution of supplies and medications to the 33 health clinics, two poly clinics, and Victoria Hospital which comprise the public medical system.  And this is simply the tip of the iceberg.

view of pharmacy from ER waiting area

view of pharmacy from ER waiting area

open air, rugged cafeteria area off the East Wing

open air, rugged cafeteria area off the East Wing

I’m honored and grateful to be here.  Those of you who have helped me and support me in my service to the Peace Corps and St. Jude Hospital are deeply appreciated.  By helping me, you are helping serve SJH and the United States.  The next time you go to the doctor, look around and be thankful for all which you have access.

Stay tuned…because I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

Other blogs you may be interested in:

-David: http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/

-Bash: http://www.bashhalow.blogspot.com/

-Kate: https://everywhereismydestination.wordpress.com/

-Chris: https://cannitopeacecorps.wordpress.com/

-Shelby: https://shelbyec.wordpress.com/

-Anna: https://hobbsseehobbsdo.wordpress.com/

-Mary: http://www.theknockabout.org/

-Alan: http://www.pcinec.net/

-Erin: http://pceasterncaribbean.blogspot.com/2015/07/

~Brie Messier, MBA

Note:  The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps 

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2016 presidential debate, american politics, Peace Corps, peace corps response

8 questions I’d ask a presidential candidate

My senior high school picture 1994

My senior high school picture 1994

Next to my year book photo you can find this future plan:  be the FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT.  At the time some laughed. Today, some are trying to collect on bets made (you know who you are).  Then there are still others who wonder if it’ll ever happen.  I had such conviction.  A few short years later I realized I could not be bought.  I could not be bribed.  And then there was this small matter of not playing politics well.  I’m not an ass kisser, period!  I stand up for the things I believe in and for others.  I say what needs to be said.  Although I have grown to be more graceful, tactful, and empathetic so my message is heard the first time…the substance is the same.  Truth.  Granted, it may be only my truth.

Generally, I suspect some politicians forget what they are elected to do and for whom they work. They work for me; a US Citizen, regardless of whether or not I voted.  I believe they lose sight of the significance and critical role they have in preserving our constitution.  At my swearing in ceremony for the Peace Corps, I was overcome by the enormity of what I was actually doing for America and this wonderful country of St. Lucia.  Listen closely to what is being asked of me and what I’m pledging to do; perhaps then you will understand my tears of joy.  In my humble opinion, this is what needs to be in every elected official.  Passion.  Service.  Humility.  Pride.  Love.  Hmmm…perhaps that will be my campaign slogan if I decide to run in the future?!

The most difficult part of presidential races is that no party fulfills my belief system.  No one candidate encompasses all that I wish for the country.  Do you ever find yourself in the same boat?  That is why when I’m asked am I Democrat or Republican I say “I vote for the best candidate no matter their party.”  Most often that means independent.  People who vote party over principle are part of the problem according to Eric Odom of www.libertynews.com and I agree.  At one point, I used to think not voting was the WORST thing someone could do in relation to politics and exercising a fundamental right that not everyone in the world gets.  I can appreciate better now why people abstain.  They can’t stomach what goes on.  The political arena is too complex.  The right things don’t get accomplished anyway.  The right to not vote is equally important.

If I were running a debate, here are at least eight questions I’d ask each candidate.  I’m fairly certain I’d run it like an interview:

  1. What are you going to do DIFFERENTLY to ensure you are living and executing what the American people want for their country?
  2. How will you prevent yourself from being “bought” by lobbyists, Super PACS, and other campaign contributors?
  3. What are the top three areas you want to focus your administration on if elected? Why?
  4. What are you not proud of in your career thus far?  Why?
  5. How do you plan to walk your talk and not fall into the trap of lip service to the American people?
  6. Why do you think there is such a disconnect, misalignment between what the people want and what actually happens by our elected officials?
  7. How do you propose we find balance between taking care of America and our foreign obligations so we can pull out of conflicts/wars?
  8. It saddens me to see the state of our race relations, in particular between the black and white communities; what do you suggest can be an actionable plan to continue working toward harmony?

Maybe my dream of being president isn’t dead.  I thought my window had passed for serving in the Peace Corps yet here I am; therefore, I will keep my heart and mind open in this realm, too.  I still have a steadfast belief that one person can make a difference.  I hope you will be one of them!  Check out http://www.isidewith.com to help you figure out which candidate fits you.

Stay tuned because….I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

Other blogs you may be interested in:

-David: http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/

-Bash: http://www.bashhalow.blogspot.com/

-Kate: https://everywhereismydestination.wordpress.com/

-Chris: https://cannitopeacecorps.wordpress.com/

-Shelby: https://shelbyec.wordpress.com/

-Anna: https://hobbsseehobbsdo.wordpress.com/

-Mary: http://www.theknockabout.org/

-Alan: http://www.pcinec.net/

-Erin: http://pceasterncaribbean.blogspot.com/

~Brie Messier, MBA

Note:  The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps 

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eastern caribbean travel, Peace Corps, peace corps response, singles travel adventure

Nature’s #1 Spa (= Volcano)

In the belly of a volcano, called Sulphur Springs, lays the best, natural Jacuzzi and spa that I’ve ever encountered.  Not only did I experience mother nature in a whole new way but I was able to experience the “world’s ONLY drive-in volcano!”

sulphur springs sign

Leading up to the adventure was mysterious.  I’d never been remotely close to a volcano before.  Granted, the idea of being in sulfur smelling waters, mud wasn’t overly appealing.  But what the heck…I’m on an adventure, right?!  I remember vividly visiting my sister, Holly, in Florida and her water had a sulfur, rotten egg smell  which was almost too much to bear.  I thought, “Oh, please, don’t let it be that bad!”

The volcano is located in the beautiful town of Soufriere, which is about 30 minutes from my home.  Many, if not all, St. Lucia resorts have trips to Sulphur Springs.  It’s a wonder for sure yet can be incredibly dangerous as people have died from falling in.

The volcano has a safety barrier to help prevent accidents.  Notice the smoke as it rises.

The volcano has a safety barrier to help prevent accidents.

It was incredible to see smoke rising from the depths of this volcano and I was in it!

As we drove through the volcano we could see the heat and steam rising from within.  This was taken from the car.

As we drove through the volcano we could see the heat and steam rising from within.  This was taken from the car.

The locals know the earlier you arrive the more enjoyable the springs will be.  As the day progresses, the water gets unbearably hot.  By 5:30a we were soaking in the hot, muddy volcanic waters.

relaxing in the hot sulphur springs.  It was about Jacuzzi temp, approximately 102 degrees.

Relaxing in the hot sulphur springs. It was about Jacuzzi temp, approximately 102 degrees.

soon you aren't going to be able to seeeee meeee...

soon you aren’t going to be able to seeeee meeee…

For the good mud you’ve got to scrape it up from the corners where it’s softer.  The grittiness was wonderful for exfoliating!  In the US I’d pay a few hundred dollars for this mud treatment.

It's on like donkey kong...I'm getting muddy!

It’s on like donkey kong…I’m getting muddy!

Where’s Brie?  Oh, wait…there I am!  I was on a mission to cover myself completely with Verna’s help.  Did I mention I work with Verna at St. Jude Hospital?

Verna and I after we are nearly covered by mud.  Notice the

Verna and I after we are nearly covered by mud.   Notice the “no entry” sign; the closer we got the hotter it was.  Beyond the sign it was no longer safe.

Verna taught me the mud has healing properties and for best results, leave the mud on for at least 10 minutes.  Sound familiar ladies and gents who do facials at home?  She described feeling lighter, rejuvenated whenever she departs from here.  I must agree, I felt wonderful!

People pay hundreds of dollars in the US for a mud wrap and this was free for me.  I was silky smooth afterward.  Best exfoliation!

I was silky smooth afterward.

Soon, droves of people were arriving therefore the peacefulness was cut short.  We spent a few more minutes there then I rinsed off and we made our way down, out of the volcano.

A tranquil pool

A tranquil pool

A stream meanders through the volcano!

A stream meanders through the volcano!

One of the last majestic sights was the Gros Piton so of course I had to snap some pictures.  As of now, I plan on tackling that bad boy.  It may take me five hours to climb it but who cares.  I can say I did it!  Before long I  was back at home, in bed by 7a sleeping away the rest of the morning.

as we drove down and out of the volcano we  could see the Gros Piton in the distance.  Crazier still ...people LIVED in this volcano!

as we drove down and out of the volcano we could see the Gros Piton in the distance. Crazier still …people LIVED in this volcano!

View of Gros Piton from Sulphur Springs

View of Gros Piton from Sulphur Springs

Stay tuned because….I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

Other blogs you may be interested in:

-David: http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/

-Bash: http://www.bashhalow.blogspot.com/

-Kate: https://everywhereismydestination.wordpress.com/

-Chris: https://cannitopeacecorps.wordpress.com/

-Shelby: https://shelbyec.wordpress.com/

-Anna: https://hobbsseehobbsdo.wordpress.com/

-Mary: http://www.theknockabout.org/

-Alan: http://www.pcinec.net/

-Erin: http://pceasterncaribbean.blogspot.com/

~Brie Messier, MBA

Note:  The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps 

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eastern caribbean travel, harassment training, Peace Corps, peace corps response, safety suggestions, safety tips, singles travel adventure

“Hey, sexy!”

“Hey Sexy” is how I was greeted by a young man at the VF bus depot.  So, I said hello.  Within 90 seconds he was asking for my cell number.  I politely declined.  This was the 2nd time I’d been asked for my number since I arrived.  I wish I could say it’s because of my wild charms but alas it’s just how it goes here.  Here’s how I think they’re looking at me…

Prior to arriving in St. Lucia I had read the Peace Corps welcome package which was fraught with caution, guidance, and safety tips on dealing with unwanted male attention.  I’m sort of a novelty, if you will, as there aren’t many Caucasian women here.  I must admit, dealing with sexual advances was probably highest on my concern list.  Would I be able to handle them?  Could I keep myself safe?  How would I know who was genuine?

Upon arriving, safety continued to be an emphasis.  A new friend, Hollianne, also gave me some tips on handling such advances.  This was a big deal.  I’ve encountered outward calls, hissing (sort of sounds like pssssst), physical contact, invitations to see them later, invitations to go out, offers to “stop by” my work, and far less intimidating, hello.  These have taken place on the road, on a bus, in the grocery store, walking through town, and in a food court.

Imagine yourself being pursued, verbally and physically, within the confines of a minibus, like the one below.  What is your recourse?  What do you do?

13 ppl packed like sardines and I'm in back

13 ppl packed like sardines and I’m in back

Can you feel your anxiety climbing?  He leaned his leg against mine; as I inched away, he followed.  I wanted him to stop. Seriously, I was worried that he would take the next bus I was on then see where I lived.  I contemplated getting off a couple houses away from mine or changing up my route in some way.  Those who know me best won’t be surprised that I ultimately asked him to move his leg to give me space.  He complied.  Such a wave of relief!  For added good measure, I told him I was married.  I suppose he felt I wasn’t playing into his hands and THANKFULLY got off one stop before me.

There are different approaches one can take: ignore, play dumb, yell, etc.  For me, acknowledging the men works well.   Better yet, I try to greet first; “Bonjou!”  I suspect by giving a friendly greeting in Patois it startles the guy(s) into not pursuing me.  In essence, I remove the target.  I’ve been told they simply want to be “seen.”  I understand so I do my best to “see” them.  Anything else…eh…they can’t touch this;)  Cue music…

Let’s hope as I gain more confidence and comfort in this foreign land that I will be able to blend in more.

Stay tuned…because I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

Other blogs you may be interested in:

-David: http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/

-Bash: http://www.bashhalow.blogspot.com/

-Kate: https://everywhereismydestination.wordpress.com/

-Chris: https://cannitopeacecorps.wordpress.com/

-Shelby: https://shelbyec.wordpress.com/

-Anna: https://hobbsseehobbsdo.wordpress.com/

-Mary: http://www.theknockabout.org/

-Alan: http://www.pcinec.net/

-Erin: http://pceasterncaribbean.blogspot.com/2015/07/mr-g-is-my-spirit-animal.html

~Brie Messier, MBA

Note:  The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps 

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caribbean music, eastern caribbean travel, Micoud, Peace Corps, peace corps response

The ordinary day that wasn’t…Pt 3

Micoud was a treasure trove of delight for me!  It is the complete opposite of my town of Augier, St. Lucia.   It is a wonderful collection of people living ordinary lives and they probably don’t realize how great their community.  Shops, salons, and goats dotted the landscape while people looked onto the streets from their balconies greeting us “afternoon” every couple of houses.  The fact that there were actual people outside to engage with, that we could walk to the water, and walk to/from Barbara’s work at the library oddly made me feel more connected.

A strangely inviting yet poisonous  tree in Micoud.

A strangely inviting yet poisonous tree in Micoud.

loving on a local goat in Micoud, St. Lucia

loving on a local goat in Micoud, St. Lucia

As we walked through the village, stopping in a shop to get water and chatting with a Syrian store owner, there was a street vendor with a little cart which caught my attention.  The little cart was filled with one of my favorites…ICE CREAM!!!  AAAHHHHH…  You better believe I got a cup of it 🙂  We were nearly to the Library which happens to be on the second floor of the Multi-purpose Center and I kid you not, as soon as we walked up my ears were rewarded with the sounds of a steel drum band.  The biggest smile emerged.

OMG…I was in heaven; ice cream AND steel drums at one time.  Very early on I learned about Panorama which is the largest celebration of steel drum bands on the island.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that I could go for a variety of reasons.  The universe delivered any way much to my delight!

By 4:15p I was standing at the bus stop waiting to go home.  That was the longest ride thanks to a guy who wouldn’t leave me alone.  I was beat and ready to chill after my totally gratifying ordinary day that wasn’t.

Stay tuned…because I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.

Other blogs you may want to check out are:

David at http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/

Bash at http://www.bashhalow.blogspot.com/

Kate at https://everywhereismydestination.wordpress.com/

~Brie Messier, MBA

Note:  The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps 

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