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Little Miss Piggy

I’m walking downtown with a family on a warm, humid fall evening to check out pig night (that is what my family affectionately calls the night before Hog Day).   We round the corner. Three men are loading whole pigs into the back of a golf cart.

One hog is already in the bed wrapped in plastic. The second is in mid-air – being tossed from the back of a trailer into the cart.  It flies almost gracefully and lands with a thud on top of the first pig.  I watch the process as I mosey on by – wondering if my northern husband is shocked by this nonchalant handling of dead pig carcasses that seems so normal.

The driver, a gray haired man with a trim frame, notices us watching and greets our group with a drawn out “Hoooowdy, Hoooow y’all doooing?”  His speech is slow and full with the thick southern accent customary of my home state.

Our group responds with hellos and an exchange of customary pleasantries.  One of our group mumbles something and gestures towards the pigs.

The old man declares, “Oh yeah. Little miss piggies here. They gonna be delicious.”  With that he speeds off.

I watch him drive over to the cookers area to deliver the pigs to some of the cooks competing in the overnight BBQ cook-off.

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The cook-off area is packed full of a dozen or so Pig Masters with barrel smokers, big trucks, and pop-up tents to cover their make-shift kitchens.  The small parking lot is transformed by their preparations.

A man uses a blow torch to prepare his charcoal.

Smoke billows into the air, rising up over the small parking lot clouding the effect of the street light and creating an eerie haze.

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Another man smothers the hog with a secret blend of seasonings and closes the lid to start the night-long cooking process.  As the lid closes the smoke rushes outward and envelopes me in a blanket of pork-scented smoke.  It is heavenly.

This mouth-watering process will continue long into the night.  Barbequing the whole hog is time consuming.  It cooks slowly, producing delectable aromas one succulent drip at a time.  In the morning the meat will fall off the bone, ready for the taste test.

That old man is right… those little piggies are gonna be delicious. I can’t wait til morning!

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Stay tuned for more on the Hog Day festivities and the food it celebrates.

A thank you

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In this post I want to thank Julia, a co-worker and professor.  She unknowingly helped propel me to my future path.

Julia graciously let me audit her grant writing course last semester. The first assignment was to write a grant narrative for a theoretical personal grant of $50,000. It had to be used to fund your dream career. I wrote about travel. I outlined exactly how I’d become a travel writer & photographer. I created a budget, the steps I’d take, and all of my qualifications for the job. I spent hours perfecting my narrative. It filled me with such joy that it didn’t feel like work.

I turned in this assignment a few weeks before I flew to India to visit my sister. Once I went off on my own and started traveling solo, I had a number of breakthroughs. I came back to the states knowing I couldn’t just sit around waiting for another job in a different museum.

That wasn’t what I wanted in life. I wanted a life where I had the flexibility and freedom to work anywhere in the world. So how was I going to do that? I needed to take action.

Fast forward 7 months. Today I’m embarking the journey towards my dream. I’m leaving my job  in pursuit of a life as a digital nomad.

And I have to thank Julia for that.

One hell yeah at a time

I finally did it. I’m leaving my job. I put in my notice a week and a half ago. I’m done on the 23rd of September.

HELL YEAH!!!! Hell fucking yeah!!!!

That was my exact reaction. I was giddy AF. Have you ever seen me do an hour-long happy dance? I tell you it was epic. I drove out of the parking lot at the end of the day with my music blaring, dancing in my seat, and singing at the top of my lungs.

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Then I spent an entire week on vacation. It has been a HUGE relief to be away from that toxic environment. I am so relieved that I’m getting out of there. But somehow I still spent my nights lying in bed unable to sleep. If I did sleep it was filled with nightmares and restless dreaming.

The thing that kept me up the most? Not feeling prepared. Do I have a solid plan for the future? No. Not really…. alright, my plan just isn’t as detailed as I’d like. OK fine you caught me… I have a 12-page plan. But that still doesn’t feel like enough. If you know me, I’m obsessive with detailed planning. It takes me weeks, months or even years to be ready to make a big decision. So changing the course of my career warrants at least a 30-page research paper, right? (I’m kidding… sort of)

My nerdiness aside… I’ve been contemplating leaving this job for the past 2-3 years. (Who wouldn’t with a certifiably crazy boss?!?) But that doesn’t mean I feel prepared now that the time is finally here. There are still many unknowns. Some of those unknowns scare me and some of them excite me.

Needless to say, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster. I’m thrilled, relieved and terrified all at the same time. It is a mix of anticipation and anxiety. I can’t wait to embark on my new adventure but I’m nervous about the future.

Despite all the ups and downs, I keep having moments of extreme calm. A peaceful certainty that sweeps over me. I know that this is the right decision. I have to leave. No doubt about it. I have to save myself.

Every time I start to slip into worry mode, I make a declaration. I choose to be excited about the future. I choose to joyfully anticipate the unknown. I choose to happily kick ass in all of my new adventures. I choose to do numerous happy dances. I choose to sing at the top of my lungs even if it bothers the neighbors. I choose to scream “hell yeah” when I’m happy AF.

So here is to choosing a joyful life and saving myself one “hell yeah” moment at a time.

Hello and Goodbye

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Labeled for resuse

I’m preparing myself to say a few goodbyes and hellos in the coming month. So let’s raise a proverbial glass to all those hellos and goodbyes that will come so soon.

Goodbye to a toxic work environment
Goodbye to a crazy boss worthy of a telenovella
Goodbye to fear-inducing circumstances
Goodbye to waking up dreading the day ahead

Hello to happiness
Hello to new opportunities
Hello to waking up excited to face the day
Hello to spending more time with my future four-legged co-workers

Hello future. I think I’m ready for you.

Hello world!

Welcome to Gutsy Gurl Travel!  This is the world travel blog of gutsy gurl Samantha. Stay tuned for inspirational adventure stories, helpful tips and advice for international travel.