Of Many, One: National Women’s Equality Day

Wake up at 7am. Feed the cat. Make some tea and breakfast. Pick out some clothes. Try not to wake him up. Brush my teeth. Lint roll all of my black clothes. White cat. Pack my backpack. Make sure I have my badge. Forget my phone. Put lavender in the diffuser. Run to the bus. Make the bus. Realize I forgot my phone.

This is what this morning looked like. It wasn’t glamourous or even noteworthy and in a lot of cases it would be considered a fail. But I’m learning the steps to a new dance. In the last two months I’ve become a cat mom, moved myself into my first apartment, and started a new (dream) job. It’s been crazy. Usually one of those things would be enough to upset a daily routine, but I’ve been juggling them all while having to realize that I’m only one person.

Sometimes I make it to yoga, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I forget to change the kitty because I’m trying to remember to get groceries. Unfortunately one of the big things that’s been pushed to the back burner is my writing, which you’ve probably noticed from the complete lack of posts going up on this blog. It’s been a crazy couple of months and I just haven’t had the time or energy to type in between moving couches, giving flea treatments, and trying to spend time with people who are close to me.

But this is our life as modern-day women, isn’t it? We jump from one crazy thing to another, balancing each while smiling in a pair of taupe chunk-heeled pumps. In celebration of National Women’s Equality Day I decided to take a few minutes today to do something that take my life as a modern day business women and gives it spice: my community.

I feel so incredibly honored to have a supportive gent who has moved far more furniture than anyone should and my friends who have given me advice about how to take care of my cat, given me advice on how to ask for a decent salary (it’s really hard ladies, but you’re worth it!), and pushed me to keep creating even though I have a case of the crazies. Community is what it takes to thrive. And another community that’s been an inspiration in the midst of the chaos has been the one at R. Riveter.

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Me with the Corbin backpack from R. Riveter. Use code RREMILEEM for 15% off your order 🙂

Let me tell you, these women are absolute powerhouses and embody the idea that although we’re from different backgrounds and different geographical locations we are stronger together. We can make a difference by taking our skills and our strengths and building, instead of breaking. I’m so honored to have been a part of a community of women so committed to change. One of the most beautifully impactful ways being Marketplace which is a  collection that donates proceeds directly to an award for other military spouse owned businesses.

We can make a difference. We just have to remember that when things get tough, it’s the village that raises us up to our potential.

 

Tea Talk 5: Johanna Luz | Traveling Environmentalist

It’s been 9 years since I met Johanna at college. We were both assigned to the smallest dorm on campus, and the memories of that year are some that will stick with me the rest of my life. I remember when I first found out that she wore glasses every day not because she had a prescription, but just because she felt like it. How can you not admire someone with that level of dedication?

Johanna and her husband are currently on the trip of a lifetime, driving down from Oregon to South America while providing medical and environmental help/education in exchange for world knowledge about how to live a more sustainable life. They’re driving down in a veggie bus (aka a bus that runs on used kitchen oil), while simultaneously writing a book about their adventures, and it’s kind of the coolest thing ever. Their blog is an absolute inspiration and I would highly recommend hopping over for a read! But first, here’s an introduction to one of the coolest girls I’ve ever met:

What started your passion for traveling?

I think there was never a time when I wasn’t traveling, so for me it became more about figuring out how to continue to travel. My Mom is from Germany, my Dad is from Oregon, USA and I grew up in Venezuela. Since the age of 1, I was on an airplane flying to visit relatives in different places around the world.

What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?

There are many different ways of traveling. Sometimes people have a fixed idea that it requires a lot of money and privilege, and that therefore, it isn’t accessible to everyone. The more I travel, the more I run into people traveling in the most alternative ways. My husband and I recently made our way down Baja California, Mexico. We ran into bikers, hitchhikers, a family living in a school bus, buskers, and artists, all figuring out ways to travel long periods of time on low budgets. We, ourselves, converted our van to work with used vegetable oil fuel. We collect it for free from restaurants in the cities we travel through and in that way minimize our fuel expense on the road.

What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up (ex. food dishes, lifestyle changes etc.)

My husband. We met as teenagers but we re-connected when I backpacked through Guatemala years later. It was the beginning of a 2.5 year long distance relationship (Guatemala-Venezuela). I have picked up eating beans, eggs & tortillas every day, saying “chilero” (cool) and much more!

What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about traveling?

Do it. Period. I did my first extended solo trip when I was 19 through Spain and Portugal. It felt extremely liberating and powerful to rely 100% on myself in a place where I knew no one and where no one had a prototype of who I was. I felt truly free and that feeling is something I try to hold on to ever since.

What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?

I’m always trying to make sure I don’t fall into a tourist trap or get ripped off in an incredibly stupid way. When I was traveling through Central America in 2012, I crossed into Guatemala from Mexico by land without knowing the exchange rate (not something I recommend). After exchanging some money on the border, I hopped on a tuk tuk (3 wheeled vehicle) to go to the nearest bus terminal. I was charged 150 Quetzales for a 5min ride. Then I rode the bus for about 3 hours and was only charged 15 Quetzales. I realized at that moment the tuk tuk driver had overcharged me. I had paid him$20 instead of $0.50, which was the real price!

What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling?

During many points of my life, I struggled with being timid and embarrassed about a lot of things about myself. When you travel, you don’t have a choice. You have to put yourself out there, ask people for directions, get to know strangers and look like a total lost foreigner. You also are constantly getting to know people and explaining who you are to others who have very little context about where you come from. Traveling and meeting people on the road has helped me get to know myself better and feel more confident with who I am in the world.

What is your favorite way to travel (ex. plane, train, automobile?) and why?

The road less traveled, whatever that may be. But usually, it’s not by plane. Right now I’m doing an extended trip with my husband called Camino Casamel. We are traveling in our van that we converted to work with used vegetable oil as fuel (Veggie Bus Diaries on Instagram). We began our trip in Oregon and are currently midway through Mexico, collecting used oil from restaurants along the way. We plan on making it to Panama and possibly further South.

Traveling this way has been a lifestyle choice, as we live in our van and have a purpose beyond visiting tourist attractions. We are also learning about natural medicinal practices from the different regions we visit. It’s been very enriching to travel slowly and connect in a deeper way with the people and places we visit.

What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?

I’ve always wanted to travel more extensively through South America. I grew up in Venezuela and have visited Colombia. I would like to see the rest of the continent and make it to Brazil, especially.

Let’s talk about your current trip! What was your inspiration for your adventure? 

Our current trip is a huge project we began dreaming about a few years ago. We started by thinking about ways of connecting our passions and wanting to begin our lives together in a different way. Our project Camino Casamel (or Veggie Bus Diaries), came about after Aidan had graduated from Medical School in Guatemala and after I worked with community environmental projects in Caracas, Venezuela. Ancestral medicinal practices and more natural lifestyles are areas that drew us together. We decided to travel through different countries where we could learn more about this, using waste vegetable oil as a greener fuel option and living in our van so we could cut on traveling expenses.

What has been the best/toughest part of your current trip?

Getting started was very difficult. We originally thought we were going to start our trip in Spring 2016 but we were delayed a year. We had mechanical issues, a difficult conversion to vegetable oil system, and needed a lot more time and money to prepare.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from your current trip?

We both learned a lot the year we had to wait to begin our trip. At times, we didn’t even know if it was still going to be possible. I definitely learned that sometimes things don’t work out the way you anticipate. That doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. Sometimes you will have to wait, sit back and re-evaluate. Then, do it again but better. And take your time. Rushing things often will set you back more.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve traveled and lived extensively in Latin America and have a few strong opinions about certain things I wanted to mention J Throughout the years, I’ve met a lot of travelers and been one myself. One thing that I think is EXTREMELY important is learning about the local context and history of the places you visit. Often, travelers from “developed countries” will visit Latin America with very little knowledge about how U.S. political intervention and foreign economic interests have shaped, damaged and are currently still harming the region. This is true not only for Latin America, but for most developing countries in the world.

I don’t say this to accuse or create guilt, but as a means to encourage travel a way of educating yourself about what is happing in the world and how your home country may be affecting lives overseas in ways you aren’t aware. I think this type of awareness also creates a deeper travel experience as you hear personal stories from the other side of history and learn things that aren’t included in classic text books.

For example, in Nicaragua there is the Museo de la Revolucion (Revolutionary Museum) in Leon, exhibiting a civil war the U.S. was directly involved in. Ex-guerrilla fighters give the tour. Our guide shared his personal experience of the war, of the friends and family he lost and how the country was destroyed. I remember the guide told us with a depth in his eyes, “There is absolutely nothing worse than war, avoid it by all costs.”

To follow along on Johanna’s adventures, you can check out her blog, purchase the book they’re writing or check out their Facebook page

Time to Move Mountains – Rise Up Women of the U.S.A

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I grew up in a passionately Republican family; one that was racist, homophobic and expressed bigotry on a regular basis. Does this represent all Republicans? No. I am simply telling my story.

Needless to say, this morning when I rolled out of bed to the results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, I didn’t have to “imagine” how people could have voted for Trump. I knew from 18 years of first-hand experience. The power of fear should not be underestimated.

That being said, of course, I was upset with the outcome. As a woman, and a person of color, how could I not be? The next four years are going to be challenging in ways I’ve never had to experience in my lifetime. But whether we want to admit it or not, hate racism and bigotry have all been in the Whitehouse, before.

Women of the United States of America, it’s time for us to rise up.

This post isn’t about right or left or red or blue. It’s about what’s next for us.

I currently live in a city that’s more liberal than most. We try (although, we have work to do) to understand equality and promote it among the people living here. We try. We’re not perfect, and we are on a journey, but we try. I realize that other parts of the country are not this way. Perhaps this election was, if nothing else, a beacon to shine a light on that fact. We are a broken people. We are a broken nation. We are a nation who has been taken in by the false god of fear.

This morning, as I stared at a map filled with red colored states, I tried to wrap my mind around the numbers, the statistics and how exactly this happened. I love analytics. But this was different. Something didn’t feel right. How did the statistics for women voting slide so strongly toward a man who embodies everything we fight so hard against?

Perhaps this is another lesson: the gaps in American equality are not just a problem created by men.

Over the course of the past months we have seen our President-elect slander women again and again. The list of offenses is egregious. Regardless of your stance, the facts are that he’s currently facing, and has formerly been accused of, rape charges.

So why did we, as women, vote for him?

To be honest, I don’t have an answer, but I do know what this points to — a culture where we, as women, are hurting.

A stroll through any history book will show you that existence has never been easy for women. We’ve been raped, defaced, tortured, slandered and brutally killed in our journey for equal rights. And while perhaps not as prevalent in certain parts of the world, these treatments are not just something from the past. And for those of us in the “free” world: Our ballots are our testimonies.

What can we even do to move forward?
You probably already know what I’m going to say.

1-john-418Ladies, it’s time for us to rise up.

It is time for us to speak life, encouragement and power over the next generation, and the generations who came before us. It’s time to embrace a culture that lifts women up, rather than tearing each other down. It’s time for us to introduce ourselves to our neighbors; to hug and care for those who are grieving or in pain.

This is not about politics, I don’t care what side of the “fence” you are, or have been, on. This election is showing us the very real truth behind what airbrushed magazine covers and bright Hollywood lights have done to us. Our nation is crying out for justice. We are hurting. We are stumbling. We are searching for anything to heal our brokenness — even if that means destroying ourselves in the process.

Ladies, it is time for us to rise up.

The next four years will not be easy. Probably for all of us, but it will most certainly be harder for some.

To my sisters who are getting ready for the storm — I stand with you. I will love you. I will protect you. I will speak for you. I will defend you.

Because you are worthy. You are wonderfully made. You are beautifully whole. You are an inspiration. You are valid. You are strong. You are brilliant. You are made for great things. You are powerful. You are so much more than any title.

And we? Together we are immovable, unbreakable and our story will live as long as the stars shine.

Rise up.