Very recently I hit my ten year anniversary in the Foreign Service. Aside from a 12 year stretch as a riding instructor, this is the longest amount of time I've ever had one job.
My first thoughts: That was fast!
My second thoughts: Isn't it time to do something else?
Let me admit that in the past year or two, I've had itchy feet to do something different, as if there were another chapter still in me to be lived. Some little bit of favorite dessert that I've tucked away in a corner of the fridge for later. This "something else" has a nebulous shape: just something creative, a life under my own direction with unstructured time to travel, write, photograph, watercolor, tend the garden and pet the cats. Who wouldn't want that?
In a series of long walks on unending stretches of the Costa del Sol, my husband and I have had some good "what are we going to do with our lives?" navel-picking (his term) conversations.
|Long beaches for long conversations|
Of the very few conclusions we reached, which admittedly stands a good chance of being a) forgotten, or b) reconsidered, was that our current life already gives us the opportunity for travel and certainly for immersion in a place that regular tourism doesn't. (Or at least tourism that we could afford.) Second, although perhaps this should have been first, is the practical aspect of getting off the government wheel. Frankly, we need to keep saving for our dottage and there's no better way to do that than to keep our heads down and keep going.
Now that that's decided (although see caveats above about our fickle nature), I've changed my mental pacing on the next ten years, knocking it back a gear from a dash to get onto the next greatest thing, to a steady chug. More of a slow down and smell the roses sort of mentality, if you will. And you know what? Instead of feeling resigned, I feel more settled, like I don't have to wait to do what I really want, maybe I can start doing it now.
Therefore, let this anniversary serve as a time to appreciate the best (and some of the worst) of this past decade in the hopes of fueling the next, and as proof that I can get through it and maybe keep on enjoying it along the way.
Where to start? At the beginning.
I loved the camaraderie of having two orientation classes: First as a Foreign Service Specialist and then as a Foreign Service Officer and excitement of TWO flag days!
|FS Specialist Class - 2011|
|FS Officer Class "A-100" -2012|
|And now the moment we've all been waiting for...|
Checking out our assigned house/apartment at post for the first time. THIS is the stuff!
|Bogota: Now THAT'S a door!|
|Suburban life in Juarez|
|Daphne explores the house for the first time.|
Bine ati venit (welcome) to Bucharest's apartment life.
|Virginia apartment for our DC hardship tour.|
|Notice the bikes in the living/dining room and mismatched furniture as we furnished the place from second hand stores.|
|We love our San Salvador garden and you get used to the concertina wire quickly.|
Hearing the spontaneous gasp and seeing tears of relief from an immigrant visa applicant after telling him/her that their visa has been approved. Knowing that after years of living undocumented in the United States, now for the first time they can return to their family and job without the daily fear of possibly losing it all. This happened a LOT in Juarez.
|Consulate 4th of July in Juarez with some of the women it was such a pleasure to call coworkers.|
|Juarez: Life on the X|
|Bien venidos a Mexico!|
|Arcul de Triumf on Romanian National Day|
|Castelul Peles, Sinaia, Romania|
|Pomp and ceremony of the 4th of July celebration in our final days in Bucharest|
|So much more fun to see FSI as a teacher than as a student.|
|Counting the vote in front of party representatives.|
|Voter roles and an observer.|
|Observer chatting with electoral officials.|
|Volcano view over San Salvador.|
|Fishing village of Los Cobanos.|