Sweet, Sweet, Samana

2This past weekend, we had 4 day vacation. I know what you’re thinking. A four day vacation from your summer long vacation? But yes. A vacation on our program means our teachers get a break from teaching or doing service work. Which means Derek and I get a break from “working” as well.

44

For our vacation, we decided to go to the beautiful beach town of Samana. Derek and I knew that we wanted to hike a certain waterfall and zipline while we are here in the Domincan Republic, so Samana was a place that was towards the top of our to see list.

3024We planned our vacation, and 9 other volunteers from our group decided to join us.  We stayed in an Airbnb that was right on the ocean. Even though we saw a total of 6 spiders the size of Derek’s hand, falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves made up for it.

19

571If you are ever interested in ever seeing the beautiful town Samana, Domincan Republic I recommend staying in this beautiful jungle home. The hosts are so friendly, the home is beautiful, and they even have horses and a dog. (just be aware of spiders. 😉 )

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/15529655?search_id=276616a1-3fc2-036c-eb9e-2d10aac0f77f&federated_search_id=0e9d392f-3022-4315-91d3-26d0d9567e8129Our first day on our vaction, we hiked the beautiful Casda el Limon waterfall. I am going to post about this hike in a seperate post because the photos I took that day are some of my favorites I’ve ever taken. (and there is a lot).31Our second day we went zip lining through the jungle. The zip line had 12 cable lines, and it was 350 ft up. Most of us have been zip lining before, but we’ve never been able to ride together, or go on one as long as this. We all had so much fun!15

136

After zip lining, we headed to Playa Rincon, which is one of the most beautiful hidden beaches on the whole island of the Dominican Republic. We were the only ones on the beach, and the water was the most beautiful, tourquise, clear water any of us have ever seen. It did not disappoint!

1011

The third day, we took a ferry to the beautiful island of Cayo Leventado. This island is known as “Bacardi Island” because this island is where they film the Bacardi commercials. On our program, we are not allowed to drink any alcohol, so I wasn’t able to drink any Bacardi on Bacardi island, but this virgin Pina Coloda almost made up for it.  🙂23

8172225Today (Sunday) we are heading back to our “home” here in the Dominican republic to do another week of service, before heading out on “vacation” again next weekend.26281218This weekend was amazing, and I am adding Samana to one of my top favorite places I’ve ever visited (spiders, bug bites, and all).

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Advertisements

Mostly Rainbows and Butterflies, but sometimes not

IMG_5183We’ve called the Dominican Republic our home for 3 weeks now, and as much as we are enjoying our time here, it has also been a little bit of a struggle. I was going to write a very long caption on Instagram, but I know myself too well and know that I wouldn’t be able to explain my current feelings in a short novel/caption, so here is a long one. 😉 (hooray for blog posts!)IMG_5181IMG_5182Our experience so far has been mostly rainbows and butterflies (pun intended) but we’ve also had our fair share of adjustments. Since Derek and I are the head teachers (in charge) this time around, we are the go to’s for the other 30 volunteers we are here with. Which means we are the ones who deal with health problems, teaching assisting, personal issues, vacation plans, coordinating schedules for teaching and service projects, and dealing with issues that come up with our house, all while adjusting to this new lifestyle ourselves.IMG_5146I absolutely love our role here, and know that in the end, it will be very rewarding, but it can be exhausting at times. It’s definitely teaching both Derek and I a new kind of patience. These are a few things that we’ve experienced since my previous post.IMG_5147Spent a day in the beautiful Sosua Beach with our group and I rode a banana boat for my first time ON THE OCEAN.IMG_5352Visited all 4 of our schools and evaluated our amazing teachers in the first couple weeks of teaching (I am not exaggerating when I say amazing by the way.)IMG_5155Derek covered for a teacher who was sick, and got to be “Teacha D” again for the day.

IMG_5226Untitled

We experienced our first Dominican Dermatologist (for 3 hours) due to one of our teachers having a bad rash. We also spent a total of 11 hours at the hospital because two of our teachers had severe dehydration. With all 3 of these experiences, and 14 hours spent at the doctors this week, we’ve learned that all doctors here are on island time, and take their time. And we have also learned that the Caribbean sun is not messing around.

IMG_5348IMG_5349

(this photo was taken at 2:30AM ^ practicing mom life 😉 )

We got more rain this last week, and enjoyed two beautiful tropical thunderstorms. (top of my most favorite things in this world)IMG_5153We’ve gone to the beach a handful of times, have found two restaurants that we love and have spent a few nights staying up too late laughing with our new friends.IMG_5351IMG_5354We are definitely getting used to our new temporary home, and everyday I wake up and think “I love that this is my life” but change always comes with challenges and between all of these things that we’ve experienced this week, homesickness hit me hard. IMG_52902I am currently missing my Harvey snuggles, my bath tub, and my car rides alone with my windows down a little more at the moment. But I’ve also been constantly reminding myself that just like I am currently missing those things and many others back home, I will miss this chapter of living in the Caribbean as soon as it’s over. New adventures always feel exciting, but they also bring new lessons and some self-growing pains. And I’m just accepting it all. (Even if that means being overly emotional and spilling my feelings out on the internet.)

IMG_5356toby

I remind myself that It’s okay to lose patience, to get frustrated, to miss things and people, to experience separation anxiety, to scream in my pillow, or cry myself to sleep. Because with the bad, also comes good.

IMG_5353IMG_5355

Like finding my new favorite meal, or being told by five 10 year old girls that I am the most beautiful teacher and they love my blonde hair, or waking up to random nice notes from the other volunteers. And I have days where I find my new favorite spot on the beach, and nights with my new friends who will quickly become family. And sunsets that remind me of home, and the neighbor’s dog Toby who always wags his tail when he sees me. And so much extra time with my favorite person in this world.IMG_5350I am constantly aware of just how amazing it is that Derek and I get to have this experience together in a place as beautiful as this. And I remind myself when I need to, that most of the time life is filled with rainbows and butterflies, but sometimes it’s not, and that is okay.

 56

Onto the next adventure (and a happier week!)
Wren

 

 

 

 

Hola from our new home!

IMG_5023.JPGWe’ve officially lived in the Dominican Republic for just over a week and so far, we are adjusting great. The culture shock here isn’t as bad as it was in China. I don’t know if it’s because we knew what to expect this time around, or if it’s because the time change and life changes aren’t as extreme.IMG_5086IMG_5087.JPG

IMG_5076

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5099.JPGI don’t think it’s hit me yet that we are here for 3 and a half months, but I know from past experience that it will eventually. I’ll get home sick, I’ll get my separation anxiety from Harvey, I will miss certain things and certain people, but right now I am just taking it all in and enjoying this beautiful chapter that Derek and I are lucky to experience together with 30 strangers.IMG_5101

A few things that are different here than back home:

The humidity! On Monday, it was 90 degrees with 60% humidity. We don’t have AC in our house or schools, so we are all constantly covered in sweat, and we’ve just accepted it. I am glad we are all here to stick together through it all (literally and figuratively). My hair and nails are thriving though.

IMG_5027IMG_5085

Our water and electricity situation. Without fail, one of them is always off every other day for a couple of hours. The area our house is in doesn’t have city water and power, so our house runs off of a back up system. (Batteries and cisterns) It feels like we are all camping, but in a very nice house.IMG_5077.JPGIMG_5078.JPG

In addition to not having water sometimes, we never have hot water or good water pressure. With that being said, showering is a whole new experience. Since we are constantly hot and sweaty, cold showers haven’t been that bad. But I know I’ll probably cry happy tears when I get my hard water pressure back (in 90 days) 😉IMG_5079

We also can’t drink the tap water here, which is a habit that Derek and I got used to in China, but I do miss having the luxury of constant access to water. Especially here, where we are always thirsty from the heat.IMG_5083.JPG

Our house situation is similar to what it was like in China. Our “home” is like a larger hotel room with our own bathroom, but we share a kitchen and laundry room with the other 30 volunteers. Since we are the head teachers this time around, we have our own “hotel room” but the other rooms in our house are filled with 6-9 volunteers who all share a bathroom together. (props to them!)IMG_4917.JPGIMG_4928.JPGThe good news is, we can walk 20 minutes from our house and be in the ocean, which makes all of the “bad” and different things worth it. I’ve also learned that most of the dogs and cats that we see on the street are people’s pets, and not strays, and that has eased my emotions and culture shock a little bit.

IMG_5102IMG_5100.JPGIMG_5091Unlike our first living abroad experience, the language barrier here isn’t too bad for us. I love being able to read the Spanish words in the restaurants and grocery stores which I was never able to do with Chinese characters, and Derek loves practicing the Spanish he knows with our personal taxi driver/ neighbor, Papi.

IMG_5080IMG_5081

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
IMG_5084.JPGWe also have pretty skies, good food, a comfortable bed, and regular toilets which were all things we struggled with our first week when we lived in China. If you want to read the post that I wrote back then, here is the link: https://thestellarstories.com/2017/09/09/ni-hao-from-our-new-home/

IMG_4975.JPGIMG_5088IMG_5026

IMG_5089.JPGIn the last 9 days, we’ve adjusted to our new living situation, we’ve made some new friends, we’ve organized all of our groups’ teaching schedules, and we’ve started teaching the kids. Being greeted with a million hugs and hearing “teacha Wren and Teacha D” again as we arrive at the schools almost makes me tear up.IMG_5090.JPGIMG_5092.JPGIMG_5093

IMG_5094IMG_5022IMG_5103

IMG_5097.JPGIMG_5102

We’ve also explored our city center (with the best architecture), ate the yummiest food,  spent some time at a beautiful country club, and have been to the beach three times, which makes me the happiest little soul. I am so excited to see what accomplishments, experiences, and adventures we have in the next 13 weeks.

IMG_5021Like I’ve said before, with adventure comes change, and with change comes growth. And I am so ready for all of it.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

Goodbye to this chapter, and A very “busy” April.

IMG_4758Today is May 1st, and to be honest getting through the month of April has made me feel like I can do absolutely anything. I know I always start my posts by saying that me being busy is an understatement, but I have recently learned that “busy” is just a sad word to say that I have been taking advantage of every single moment.

I love being busy. I love being on the go. I love taking advantage of every single day. And even though I feel like I haven’t had “a break” since February, I’ve had so many beautiful experiences in the meantime, and have been surrounded by so much love. Here’s a few moments that I took advantage of and captured from this crazy month:

Celebrating our beautiful angel, Ashley, with my work family.IMG_3944.JPGHiking those beautiful red rocks with our best friends.IMG_4757Practicing yoga in my backyard, and cuddling way too often with Harvey

IMG_4741Being crazy hooligans with my favorites, including my sissyIMG_4755Our first swim day of the year at Grandma’sIMG_4122.JPGThe prettiest work sunset IMG_4193.JPGVisits from Kenzie from San Francisco IMG_4761.JPGCoffee date with MarieIMG_4754

Visits from Auston from Salt LakeIMG_4752

Loving on and saying goodbye to my favorite girls
IMG_4249
Double date with my sissy and TylerIMG_4256

I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve consciously taken advantage of the time I have left before we leave the country again, but I’ve learned that when I am “busy” time slows down…

A LOT.

Each day felt like a whole week, and the month of April felt like a whole year. It was filled with so many emotions, temporary and final goodbyes, growing pains, life lessons, and so many little moments that made me feel thankful to be living. I took advantage of every single one of them, and every single emotion and feeling that came with them.

A no sleep, beautiful night in Vegas with my Derek

IMG_4373.JPGIMG_4751

Crying and dancing not once, but twice to my favorite band, The 1975IMG_4753Celebrating Derek’s birthday at dinner with our DurstelersIMG_4749.JPGShowering these two beautiful mamas, super model best friends of mine (both of those bellies will be babies next time I see them!)

IMG_4429IMG_4491

Pulling off a 400 people Easter brunch (and a handful of more events) at workIMG_4748.JPGVisits from mom from Arizona (I hadn’t slept in 3 days in this photo)IMG_4583.JPGGame night/ going away party with my work famIMG_4747.JPGLeaving town again to celebrate this girl’s birthdayIMG_4729And so many more, that I didn’t remind myself to capture

IMG_4279IMG_4585

IMG_4746.JPGI know I’ll look back on April 2019 of being one of the busiest, hardest, but most beautiful months of my life. I’ll remember it as the time that I learned that “busy” doesn’t always mean something bad. Sometimes  being “busy” just means that you are living your life to the absolute fullest and taking advantage of every single minute with the people you love, the places you’ll miss, and the feelings you want to hold onto forever.

IMG_4760We leave to the Dominican Republic in just a few days, and even though

I CAN NOT WAIT

to “have a break”, live on the beach, and spend every single minute with my Derek, I can’t help but feel so proud of the things I have accomplished in the last few weeks. I am proud of myself for looking at my to do lists and thinking “I am going to miss this” instead of “I am so stressed out”. For still working 50 hour work weeks, because I know how much I’ll miss the job that I worked so hard to get and the people who come with it. For giving up sleep to cuddle Harvey a little longer,  and taking advantage of my good internet, bath tub, air conditioner, and washing machine. For giving up my alone time to spend time with the large amount of people I want to see and hug before I leave, and constantly thinking “I am so lucky to have so many people who fill my heart”. And the most important, for allowing myself to feel every single emotion, instead of blocking them out.

I know that change is always good, but I am also very aware that it means new chapters, new self growth, and changes in relationships. I know from past experience that things will be much different when we come back home, and this month has taught me that that is okay.  It taught me that emotions, busy-ness, anxiety, stress, tears, love, happiness highs, and missing moments before they’re gone, are all a part of being human and living. And if you read my previous post, you know that I think, there is nothing wrong with LIVING. 

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

Using your Limited Time to Live Your Freaking Life

IMG_3985.JPGIn the light of recent events, I’ve been paying more attention to time. Time has always been something I’ve been observant of, but for some unknown reason, I’ve felt more thankful for the subtle reminders lately that our time here is limited and that it all eventually comes to an end. The time spent with the people we meet, and love. The time we spend in the places we go or call home, the certain little moments that we want to hold onto forever, it’s all limited. And it will all eventually come to an end.IMG_3984.JPGYou may be thinking to yourself “wow Wren, now I am depressed, thanks for the reminder.” But it’s the truth. And the thought that we’re not here forever shouldn’t make you depressed, it should make you want to live. All too often I hear these lines, and lately I’ve paid way more attention to them:

  • “I’ll do that one day.”
  • “I’ll be happy when… I lose the weight, I find true love, get a better job, move away.”
  • “I wish I could do that.”
  • “I am jealous of their life.”
  • “If only things were as easy as that.”

Do you know what I think when I hear these? Unhealthy mind sets, excuses, and future regrets. I know that things come easier to some people than others and it’s a natural reaction to feel jealousy, compare, and wish for different life experiences especially in this time in society.

It’s also a natural reaction to make excuses as to why you’re not doing the things you want to do with your limited time, but I’ve learned over the years that even though they’re easier, excuses are just blocks to living our best lives and taking advantage of our time here. If you really want to accomplish something, you’ll stop putting it on the back burner and do it. No matter how difficult it is, how crazy it sounds to others, how much sense it doesn’t make, or how the timing might not feel just right.

57021324_2078565508863194_8340089111666753536_n

 

I personally think humans make excuses because we can’t comprehend how it will feel when our time runs out. We think we will always have the weekend, the summer, the next year, the “one days.” Until it runs out and we don’t have any more time to accomplish the things we once promised ourselves that we would do. 56622488_2078565578863187_5963440933763547136_nCan you imagine how different your perspective would change if you knew for a fact that you only had 5 more years to live and that the count down started today?

You would quit your job that you hate. You would go do the things that you always wanted to do and see the places you always wanted to see, no matter how much money or uncomfortable situations it took. You would tell everyone how you felt about them, because why does it matter if they feel the same way back? You would capture more moments; write them down, photograph them, record them, so that your life and your moments would be remembered when you were gone.

You wouldn’t care about the way you looked, or the way you did things. You wouldn’t try to impress anyone and be unapologetic-ally yourself.  You probably wouldn’t care that your food order was wrong or that someone pulled in front of you while driving, or that a certain person ignored your text or phone call. You would begin to care more about making each day better than the last, and not let the little inconveniences upset you. You would absorb the moments that make your heart sing and surround yourself with the people and things that make you feel complete. You would take in all of the beauty of the world because you would constantly be aware of how much time you have left to enjoy it all.IMG_4124Your whole perspective would change, and that is the point I am trying to make.

I don’t mean to depress you, or rush you to spend the money that you don’t have on that plane ticket, or make you think “wow, what the hell am I currently doing with my life?” But all I’ve seen lately is time passing… excuses, wishful thinking, and not a whole lot of living. I hope that this post is a simple reminder that your time with a person, your time in a place, your time here on Earth… it’s all limited and I think we should all take advantage of these beautiful lives we are lucky to live.

IMG_4015IMG_4122.JPG

 

 

 

So, if you want to start living, start small. Tell people how you feel, how much you love and care for them.. even if they don’t care to hear it or don’t say it back. Visit the places you’ve always wanted to see, not for the Instagram photo, but for the sake of fulfilling your dreams. Study hard in college because you want that education, not to impress your parents or your friends. Sing really loud with your windows down, jump into the swimming pool, dance like a fool, crowd surf, get the tattoo. Do everything you’ve always wanted to do, and be everything you always wanted to be., all for the sake of feeling alive. Fulfill yourself and your life as if all of your time is limited, and remind yourself when you need to, that it is.

Onto the next adventure, (with my favorite quote lately ) Wren
57191735_2078565518863193_3720755775119818752_n

 

 

 

 

 

Onto The Next Adventure

IMG_3731If you know me personally at all, you know that I live my life in a way that when someone asks me “what’s new?” I have a whole list of things. Unlike most people, I thrive off constant change, getting out of my comfort zone, and taking the opportunities and adventures that come my way.  It’s one of my favorite things about myself. 

I sometimes wonder if there is ever a time in my life that I won’t want this, and eventually “get comfortable or settle down,” but for now, I am just enjoying this crazy, constantly changing, growth period time of my life. And having my other half by my side through it all has made it that much better.gopr0509.jpgWith that being said, what crazy, life changing thing are we up to next?!

No, we’re not selling our home and moving into a tiny house to travel the states. No, we’re not moving to a farm, or adopting 2 more dogs, a pig, and some chickens. No, we’re not opening our own business, or selling our home to build our dream home. And no, we’re not having babies or starting our family….yet.

Believe it or not, these are all conversations that have came up in the last couple of years, and maybe one day we will accomplish those fantasies that we have, or they will stay fantasies, but for now…

We are moving to the Caribbean for the summer to become beach bums!12509477_940303516022738_7543440047604848957_nI know I have a lot of dreams, (see above)  but living near the ocean is near the very top of my list, so when this opportunity was handed to us a couple months ago, I told Derek we HAD to take it.

Who, what, when, where, why?? You may be asking.

I already answered the why, and I hope you’re smart enough to figure out the who. 😉10.JPGThe What: We are teaching English again with the same program that we went to China with. However, this time will be a little different. We are the head teachers, which means we are “in charge” and the go to help for the other volunteer teachers who are going for their first time. We are also working as humanitarian volunteers this time which means we will be teaching, as well as doing humanitarian work for the kids and their families, who are underprivileged.EGLO4168.JPGThe When: We leave around May 10th and come home around August 10th, just in time for Derek to get right back to school and me to jump right into fall wedding season.

The Where: the most exciting part. We will be living, teaching, and of course- exploring in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. One of the most beautiful islands to exist, and right in the middle of my favorite place (that I’ve visited) in the world.11986431_916439311742492_5780921689488802445_nAs you can imagine, we are so excited for this adventure. We learned so much about ourselves and each other while living abroad in China. It was the best thing we’ve ever done together, and we are so happy that the opportunity has come for us to do it again.

A few things that I am really looking forward to:

  • Immersing myself in another new culture
  • Practicing my Spanish (which I think will be much easier than Chinese. 😉 )
  • Being next to the ocean EVERY DAY – I think happy tears will happen just about every morning.
  • Spending every single minute of every day with my Derek, because to be honest we work best that way.
  • And of course, being called “Teacher Wren”.
  • IMG_E4061Onto the next adventure, Wren

Celebrating 25, and many more!

It’s been a week since I officially hit the “quarter life crisis” mark, and to be honest I’ve been celebrating way more than my body planned too, resulting in a head cold. (That time of year right?) It’s the 11th day in March, and I feel like all I’ve done this month is celebrate. Now that life is slowing down a little bit, and I am able to finally rest, I have time to post my celebratory month so far. (Even though I never actually stop celebrating. 😉 )IMG_3748On March 2nd, I hosted a surprise birthday for my wonderful grandpa who turned 80 on the 6th. I held the event at my work, and invited my extended family, who mostly came from out of town, and some I hadn’t seen for years. We had a pretty good turn out, and my grandpa was so surprised that he couldn’t even look at me for days with out getting tears in his eyes. Watching him light up all weekend was the highlight of my entire year so far.IMG_3752

IMG_3561IMG_3753

IMG_3750IMG_3749

Whitney and mom were also in town, and it was so fun to spend time with them, the girls, and Tyler and Adam of course. 😉 We celebrated an early birthday breakfast for me before they all left town Sunday.

IMG_3755.JPG

IMG_3754IMG_E3573IMG_3751PS- these two are two of my favorite people. I can not wait to have another one of them in August. (hooray for new babies!)

IMG_3747.JPGMy actual birthday was on Monday. It was a usual Monday spent at work, but I woke up to flowers, a card, and coffee from Derek, and got spoiled with nice messages from friends and family all day. I ended the night with a (much needed) pedicure with Shara, Michele, and Jamie. IMG_3719.JPGSince Derek worked Monday night, we decided to celebrate together Tuesday. We both had the day off, so we got lunch together, caught up on house chores, and just enjoyed a day alone together. He also surprised me with rise festival tickets in October. I’ve always wanted to go to the rise festival, so I am looking forward to that!

That night, we met up with our friends for dinner and ended the night watching the two night special of the bachelor at Buddy’s. Yes, we all watch the bachelor together, no its not weird. 😉

(I didn’t take any pictures that day or night, so here’s a few cute ones of my favorite boys from this weekend in Vegas.- Buddy missed the memo 😦 )IMG_3724.JPGIMG_3722Since Leslie and Kallista were also celebrating their birthdays this week, we all headed down to Vegas Saturday to celebrate together. (I told you, SO. MUCH. CELEBRATING.) We stayed in the Real World Las Vegas (season 12) suite at Gold Spike, and as always had way too much fun. IMG_3729.JPG

IMG_3727

IMG_3726IMG_3746IMG_3717I love these Pisces babes/ birth week twins of mine.IMG_3721

IMG_3725.JPG

IMG_3720I am another year older, and thanks to my head cold, definitely feel that way, but am also feeling so grateful for this life of mine. It’s meant to be celebrated, not just on my birthday, but every day. I’m loved by the best people, blessed with the greatest opportunities, and so proud of the person I continue to grow into. My motto has always been to live life like it is a constant celebration, and I’ve never stuck to it more than I am right now. I am so excited to see what growth, adventures, and memories my “late” 20’s bring.

IMG_3730.JPG

IMG_3732

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onto the next adventure, Wren