Tag Archives: Intentions

Felices Fiestas from Nicaragua

Dearest friends and family,


When we joined the Peace Corps in 2014, we never thought we’d be this comfortable and at home in a foreign country.  Yet throughout our 27+ months and extension we’ve slowly come to understand and embrace our Gringo Pinolero identities.

Like any year, 2016 brought it’s own ups and downs.

We grew closer to our friends and host families here, but we also greatly missed our loved ones back home.  So we visited home – once to IL (for a funeral) and once to OR (for a birthday/GRE).  And we hosted so many (11) different friends and family members! Showing them our Nicaragua has been an honor and we hope that they now understand a bit more why we love it so much.

We survived a hurricane, and zika, and the long recovery of chikunguyna.  Don’t worry.  None of them were as bad as they sound.

We experienced two national elections – of our host and home countries – through a lens we’ve never had before.  It was quite the experience to be abroad during an election year.

We said goodbye to our cohort since we extended our service, counseled/co-directed 4 camps this calendar year (ACCESS, GLOW, CHACA, and ACCESS again), and celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.

Gallo pinto is now a welcomed staple in our diet.  We learned a lot from teaching in a completely new setting.  We continued to immerse ourselves in Spanish and up our Nica street cred.

We worked hard and earned our keep.  One of our PC Nicaragua staff members says that the longer we’re here, the more qualified we’ll feel to dive deeper into our work.  Now that we’re almost done, we keep thinking of new projects that we could do if only we had the time.

And we’re starting to feel that pressure of time.  So we’re taking as many pictures as we can, celebrating small moments, and striving to live into the intentions we set to aprovechar our time left in Peace Corps.

Life is full of comings and goings, of challenges and lessons, of transitions and blessings.  We embrace what we can, while we can, and strive to have the lessons we’ve learned from our journey guide our way on.  That is what we wish for you this holiday season, and for ourselves in the (big transition) year to come.

Feliz navidad y prospero año nuevo.

Love and light,
Emily and Andrew


May We Aprovechar Peace Corps

In May 2014, we used the ideas of May Day to start a new tradition in our family: setting intentions for the following year together. Just as May Day has been a celebration of spring and new life growing, we wanted to plant the seeds of our intentions with the hope that they would grow over the year to come. And grow they did!

In May 2015, we began reflecting on those intentions, taking a deeper look at our journey into the Peace Corps, Pre-Service Training, our first few months at site and into our first year.  It took a bit longer than we anticipated to reflect on those first five intentions, and we set our “May Day Intentions” a little late (in August) last year.  We chose to focus them on the rest of our Peace Corps service.

Thus, to celebrate May Day this year, we are echoing these intentions and for duration of our time left in Peace Corps Nicaragua:

May we seek to empower others so that our service means more than 27 months.

May we continue to set healthy expectations for ourselves.

May we embrace the present as our time here is limited.

May we be as intentional in our relationships as we are in our to do lists.

May we realize that our Peace Corps Experience is what we make of it.

We’d love to hear from you, too.  What intentions do you have (or want to set) for yourself?

Why Blog?

Like many newly married couples in the 21st century we have an array of media from our wedding online. We have the professional photographers’ photos, digital albums from family and friends, and shakily shot smart phone videos. We even felt like celebrities on Facebook for a bit. As would be expected, after a couple of weeks our Facebook notification barrage & social media fame tapered off. Other than one video.

With over 6000 views on YouTube at the time of launching this blog in 2014 – and for people who don’t run their own channel and only dabble casually in the social media world, that’s a lot of views– it has continued to make the rounds on the web over the years.  The video is of our wedding party surprising Andrew and singing “May I Suggest” by Susan Werner. Emily arranged it all in secret, as her wedding gift to Andrew.

Almost 5 years later it’s still an incredibly powerful, beautiful, and defining moment for us. Continue reading Why Blog?

Support Camp CHACA 2016

For years, gender inequality has been addressed from the perspective that it is a women’s issue. Peace Corps Nicaragua’s GAD Committee hosts‪ Camp GLOW to empower young women to confront the specific issues and challenges facing them as women in a culture of machismo.  But this only addresses one side of the coin, one aspect of the greater issue.

It’s time to flip the coin.

In order to combat the cycle of gender inequality, both women and men must learn about harmful gender roles and how to address them.  Young Nicaraguan men will be given the opportunity to do just that through Camp CHACA, which stands for “CHavalos A CAbelleros,” and refers to the transformation of boys into gentlemen.  The camp will have focused sessions and activities encouraging participants to challenge their current understanding of gender roles and to be positive role-models in their respective communities. The aim of the camp is to help reduce the incidence of gender inequality-related issues such as domestic violence, machismo (which roughly translates to male chauvinism), and disrespect for women, replacing those attitudes with positive means of expression promoting respect for equality among genders. 

Following the success of last year’s very first Camp CHACA, we will again be inviting 60 young men ages 15-120 from across Nicaragua to participate in this 5-day camp in the northern mountains of Nicaragua in July.   

To make this camp a reality, we need your support. The Nicaraguan communities are contributing over 25% of the funds, but the rest comes from outside donations.  One hundred percent of your tax-deductible contribution to this worthy cause will go directly toward our Peace Corps Partnership Program project.

You can donate online through the Peace Corps website hereor you can send a check to the Peace Corps Office of Gifts and Grants Management with this form. You may also call the office at 202-692-2170 or toll free at 855.855.1961, ext. 2170 to contribute by phone. Please see the FAQ Webpage for more helpful information, and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the forms, the project in general, or otherwise.  

Even if you cannot contribute monetarily, please help us spread the word. Share our donation link (tinyurl.com/chaca2016) and/or our blog link (tinyurl.com/supportCHACA) to as many contacts as you can.  Every dollar counts.

You can help young Nicaraguan men learn to share power, give respect, and responsibly live in support and collaboration with the women in their lives. Be a part of building a more gender equitable world.

Wholehearted Living – The Journey in Review

A year ago today on my 27th birthday, I had a desire to live more wholeheartedly. Every month we selected one of Brené Brown‘s Guideposts for Wholehearted Living as a lens through which to see our adventures and encounters here in Peace Corps Nicaragua.  I centered myself in what our blog is all about: embracing that life is beautiful, hard, and worth living, that love and light are actually all around, that this moment, whoever and wherever you are in life, is the best part of your life.

Living into these Guideposts was rarely easy.  They always sounded so pretty, so simple.  Forget about what others think? Awesome! Cultivate authenticity, creativity, or laughter?  Sign me up! But when it came down to it, to actually walk the walk was more challenging than I anticipated. Continue reading Wholehearted Living – The Journey in Review

November Guidepost

Guidepost to Wholehearted Living – November 2015
Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark  

Our thoughts on this Guidepost:
On Jack-o’-Lanterns and History: Cultural Exchange Chasing Away the Darkness

We invite you to join the conversation:
+ How do you remind yourself to be appreciative and joyful?
+ What fears keep you from experiencing joy and gratitude?  

October Guidepost

Guidepost to Wholehearted Living – October 2015
Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting go of Perfectionism 

Our thoughts on this Guidepost:
Chikungunya got you down?  Keep going.

We invite you to join the conversation:
+ What are your experiences with self-compassion?
+ How can we let go of that pesky perfectionism?