Water Lilies

Okay, I’m making myself sit down, take a break from stressing out about orchestrating all the details of my life, and just write something. So this post might read more like a stream-of-conscious journal entry, but if you were wondering where I’ve been for the past several months, then read on, my friends!

I stopped writing months ago because I had two jobs and wasn’t adjusting well to such limited free time, and then I left the customer service job and even though my job at the school–subbing and overseeing the computer lab–wasn’t too terribly demanding, I spent all my free time stressing about finding an actual teaching job.

Bird chase

Even though writing helps me deal with my stress pretty effectively, I can never seem to tear myself away from all the stressors for long enough to take some time to breathe deep and write. Now that I’ve started writing this, I already feel relief, as if each word is a tiny part of the solution to figuring out what on earth is next in my crazy life!

And in fact, I think I have actually done a pretty spectacular job over the last few weeks of establishing the next chapter of my life. Which brings me to . . .

Becoming a “Real” Teacher

After hours of interviews, days of applications, and months of worrying, job offers for various schools around Florida started to pour in! Ultimately, I made my choice based on location and grade: starting in August, I will be teaching sixth grade language arts in a rural school, about halfway between Orlando and Tampa. I’m so thrilled that I’m going to finally have my own classroom and get to spend the whole year working with the same students–luxuries I never had as a teacher in Indonesia.

Lake Alfred

My time in Bradenton over the last 8 months has been incredible, and I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to know the area so well. Josh and I both thought we’d be living in this area for at least another year or so, but we’re nonetheless excited to be settling down in an area of Florida with so many other points of interest for us: charming historic villages, scenic lakes and parks, proximity to bigger cities, plenty of nature trails for our hiking and biking adventures, and Disney World, just to name a few of the benefits that he and I have expressed enthusiasm for.

This tearoom was a lovely surprise on my rural adventures.

There’s a lot to look forward to over the next few months, and hopefully it won’t be as difficult for me to take some time to write. For now, here’s a bit about what I’ve been up to since my last post!

Disney World

Though Josh and I are no longer going to the parks every week like we used to when we first got our annual passes, we’ve had several memorable trips over the past few months.

Epcot

When my grandparents invited us to tag along on their Disney trip, Josh and I couldn’t possibly say no. Grammy and Grampy are the original Disney fanatics, and I think it’s safe to say that they passed on their faith in pixie dust to me and my siblings. We all had a great time indulging in some of our favorite Disney restaurants, chatting by moonlight on our resort’s balcony, and watching Grammy’s awe at the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot. Josh and I were grateful to be able to spend time with them and also that we got to have a little more of a luxurious trip than we usually do.

Magic Kingdom

When my siblings came to visit during their spring break, Josh and I took two of my sisters to Magic Kingdom for the day. We had a blast catching up and spending time together. With so many kids in my family, I don’t often get to spend time with only those two princesses, and it was just icing on the cake that we happened to be able to spend that time at the happiest place on earth!

Magic Kingdom at night

Soon, Josh and I found ourselves back at Disney when my dad happened to be in Orlando for the weekend. In just two days, we gave him a whirlwind tour of the four parks, as it had been more than 15 years since his last visit.

Monorail by Magic Kingdom

Later that week, we made our way back to Disney to see one of my best friends from college, who was spending a week at the parks with her boyfriend. Since they were staying at one of theĀ resorts, they added us as day guests, so we got the benefits of extra magic hours at the park and pool access at Port Orleans. While the two of them explored the parks on their own on one of the days, Josh and I spent some time recovering from park exhaustion by the pool.

Festival of Fantasy parade

At the risk of Disney overdose, we stayed away from the parks until the 24-hour party at Magic Kingdom a few weeks later. Did we manage to make it the whole 24 hours? That is a story for another time.

Bike Ride Adventures

For whatever reason, I stopped riding my bike when I was about twelve. For years, I’ve refused to get back on a bike because my anxiety convinced me that even a short, easy bike ride around the block would end in certain death.

I finally forced myself to get back on a bike shortly after moving to Florida, and after a few very wobbly weeks–during which I learned that it sort of actually is possible to forget how to ride a bike–I felt mildly comfortable as I rode through the neighborhood and occasionally to the Publix a block away.

Bird by the water

Lately, though, I’ve been genuinely enjoying riding my bike, and rather than a source of anxiety like it used to be, it’s actually been a huge stress reliever. Most mornings and evenings, Josh and I go our for a quick ride around our neighborhood, which has given us some spectacular sunset and sunrise views.

On weekends, if we have free time, we’ll take a longer ride. My favorite so far is when we woke up early and went on our first real bike adventure to the botanical gardens and nature preserve across town.

Robinson Preserve

Josh and I had talked about taking a bike-themed trip sometime soon. (He had really wanted to bike around London when we were there last fall, but I insisted that I would lose control of the bike, take out several tourists in my path, crack my head open, and then bounce into the Thames and drown.) So last weekend, I surprised him with a trip to a town just outside of Miami, where we biked around on our own little photography tour of the city.

Bike riders

Happily Ever After

It really has been a blissful past few months despite all of my anxiety about the future. But I think it’s safe to say that my Disney trips and bike rides and whatever else I do in my free time from now on will be much more enjoyable without the looming threat of no teaching prospects hanging over me at all times. I’m finally getting to the place I wanted to be when I left Indonesia. It took some time to get here, but it’s been a scenic journey!

Robinson Preserve

Love, Elizabeth