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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Go hard, or go home

I'm in a great mood, and I want to share it.

Today was the first day I was able to walk NORMAL again, and it was awesome!! At times, my hip still got stiff and felt a bit of pain, but it didn't stop me from walking. I was SO happy, you have no idea how good it felt to be out again.

I was at school from 3:00-6:15 with my dancers today. Because I've been absent, we havent had any time at all to practice for all of our upcoming events. My crew kids learned more of their new dance, which was difficult to teach it, because I wasn't able to dance yet. Instead, I had to rely on my arms and using the proper words to express the move I needed from them. Surprisingly, it worked great, and the kids did a FANTASTIC job. They have already learned more than half of the dance. Now, all we need is to make it sharp. 
Later, my Zumba girls joined me for practice, because they have a show this Friday!! They will be performing 3 new Zumba songs at a Kango show in the park. What really made me happy was the amount of NEW girls who will be performing. Some of the girls, I'd never seen in class, and I was like "Who are you?! You're an excellent dancer!" I'm happy that I keep discovering new dancers.

Tonight was also perfect. My crew kids joined me for dinner. I made my favorite dish ever, Lemon Zest Pasta. I also prepared a MASSIVE salad, but no one hardly ate it, haha. The kids ate the hell out of the pasta, and they loved it. We also turned on Step Up 3D (a dancing movie), and we all admired the awesome and fancy dance moves. It was a blast!! It makes me so happy to see them get inspired, and I can see the wheels moving in their heads with ideas of new moves and tricks. I loved spending some time with them outside of the studio. I hope I'll have more of them come spend time with me now!!

This week, I am still supposed to take things slow, but I am totally going to work. I've got a busy day tomorrow, and then later I'll have Elena, CJ, and Bill joining me for food and drinks at my place. My week is packed with rehearsals, interviews, dance classes, and English classes. On Saturday, I'll be in Stip all day for the big Model UN conference, but then I'm only 3 days away from MY MOMMA BEING HERE!! Hot damn!! I cant believe it's so close...I really can't. Anyways, enough ranting from me; here is your quote for the day:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.
—Ambrose Redmoon

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Meet me in the morning

I have been stuck on the couch for exactly one week. I have to admit, being stuck at home really frustrated me. I hated not being able to go to work, not being able to dance, not being able to see all my kids, not being able to really be out in public at all! I will say, though, that some excellent things have come out of my time on the couch.

1. Travel Plans- As mentioned before, I got most of my travel tickets booked for my trip in June. Im still not over the excitement of booking those tickets. I began looking up things we can do in each place, and I discovered some really fun things! For instance, we fly from Greece into Milan on the searching festivals and celebrations in Italy, I found that on June 24th, there is a huge celebration over the Como Lake. Fancy that, b/c Como is only an 8euro train ticket away from Milan AND it is on our way to Venice. HOT DAMN!! I'd have never discovered this, if it wasnt for the time on the couch. :D

2.Dance Camp- That's right. DANCE CAMP!! I've mentioned this idea in passing to some of my students before, because I wanted to create something more we could do in the summer. Well, all of my "student dance teachers" came to visit me this week, so I talked with each of them again about it. I then began to put the plan into action. I set dates. I made brochures and flyers, which we plan on distributing to local businesses, schools, homes, etc. I made a website. I made an outline for the classes we will provide. I spoke to people who have offered their time for things like registration and food/water donations. I've done A LOT. The website is complete, but I am not posting a link to it until I get the OK on two more details.

So camp will be a Kocani thing, but it is not limited to Kocani kids. Ideally, everyone who lives within a reasonable distance from the city will be able to attend, free of charge. The website is setup so that kids will register online. From there, I plan on grouping the kids, based off their age, dance experience, and the classes they are interested in. We will have one day of registration and orientation, complete with some activities for everyone. Then we will hold 3 days of dance classes, which will be held in rotational blocks. On the last and final day, we will hold a recital, so the kids can show off what all they've learned. This event will be open to the public, and I hope it will generate even more kids to attend dance lessons during the school year. Furthermore, this will be excellent for my student teachers, so they can start fully taking over more classes next year, allowing me less opportunity to re-injure myself!!

Well, that's all I've got. It is a beautiful day here, and I'm actually going to get out of the house. Enjoy your quote for the day:

"What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."

—John Ruskin

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Junebug Waltz

Just got home from round two at the hospital in Skopje. I got to see an orthopedic doctor today, who basically gave the same diagnosis. The root of the problem all stems from the overuse of my body from dancing, so I need to have some physical therapy before I can jump back into things (no pun intended). As frustrating as that is, I know I should listen to my body on this one and just take things easy and slowly.

The good news is, I can walk much better today!! My swelling is going down, and my limp looks less and less like a gangster's walk. :D My pain was also significantly better today. I'm still not going to be able to go to work tomorrow, but I'm confident I'll be much better after the weekend passes, and I've spent a couple more days on the couch.

Yesterday morning, Ivan and Stefani, two of my dancers, dropped by my house for a visit. They brought me cookies, salami, and juice!! I LOVED seeing them!! They stayed for a while, and we worked out ideas for a big event we want to do this summer. They were just as eager as I was, so I have no doubt we can pull it off. I won't get into it too much, b/c it's still too early. Later, Ivan and Lilika helped get the rest of my belongings from my old apartment. Lilika and I had some much needed time to catch up, and she helped me put some final touches on my new apartment. IT LOOKS AWESOME NOW! (pics to come)

Last night was a real treat though. Arnaud and his gf offered to come make dinner at my place. They'd bought things to make homemade lasagna, so we made a feast. They did most of the cooking, b/c I couldn't be up much, but the final result was delicious. Good god, it was so good!! They also brought me my own thing of Sprite, since I couldn't take part in the wine while on my pain medication. It was just really thoughtful of them to put it all together. I feel really fortunate to have so many people care about me in Kocani. I went to bed more than happy.

My mom is less than two weeks away from getting here, and I'm getting more anxious by the day. I don't know how I will contain myself. I just want to introduce her to everyone here! I do wish she were coming for a longer period of time, but I do understand the anxieties of leaving the dogs behind for the first time. Fortunately, we will have a solid week together, and half of that will be in the comfort of my new home (thank goodness!!) Soon after she leaves, I have my EPIC summer vacation, followed by camp. Expect updates.

I've been thinking of good ways to end my blog updates, b/c I feel like they always lack, so I've decided to start ending them in quotes. Here's your quote for the day:

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Can you CanCan??

Well, I'll get right to the point.

On Monday, I went into Skopje to see the Peace Corps doctors. The pain in my hip was still really bad, and they wanted to give me a proper evaluation. Well we ended up at the hospital, and they gave me an MRI to rule out any possible spinal problems. Although I have some scoliosis in my lower spine, they couldnt find anything wrong that would be causing my hip pain. I was definitely relieved, but at the same time, we were all a little frustrated with not knowing the root of the problem. They wanted to keep me in Skopje to see another doctor to rule out some other possibilities, but I REALLY wanted to just go home and rest in the comfort of my own home with proper pain medicine. After being given some pain meds and muscle relaxers, I got a ride back to Kocani with a local family I know (and now love).

Seriously, this family is awesome. One of their daughters just got accepted into the YES program, which allows students from here to travel to the US and study in an American high school for one year. Their daughter, Elena, is SO sweet. She is going to do an awesome job while she is there. We talked a lot about her thoughts on leaving, and it's really very interesting, because her and I will be in VERY similar situations. She will be missing her family, friends, and home, much like I do here. I also spoke some with her parents, and I offered for them to meet my mother when she comes (in only a couple weeks!!!!), so that the moms could talk...they, too, will have a lot in common. Anyways, this family took me, free of charge, into Skopje with them. Along the way, they treated me like I was one of the family..bought me food and drinks and insisted I didnt need to pain any money. Most people in Macedonia are hospitable, but some people are exceptional. The care they showed me really made my day and my pain so much may not seem like a lot to any of you, but it meant a lot to me.

So I've been stuck on my couch since Saturday. I've watched a lot of movies and TV shows online. I've managed to make food and drink plenty of coffee and juice. I booked my travel plans for the summer trip I will have with Chad. We booked tickets to go to Corfu, Thessaloniki, Athens, Zakynthos, Milan, and Venice. Along the way, we also want to hit up Rome and maybe Florence or something. All together, our flights cost UNDER $400 total per person, which is remarkable!! Living in Eastern Europe sure does have its perks. :D I'm really very excited about this trip.

In other news, I had a some really great things happen today. This morning, 3 of my dancing ladies came by my house for a visit. I was SOOOOO happy to see them. I missed them!! They brought me bananas and juice. We sat around talking for a while, and it made me so proud to hear that they'd been still holding Zumba classes, even when I wasnt there. Furthermore, they did a great job and had an excellent turnout. I couldnt have been happier.

As the girls were leaving, I was at the door, and my neighbor from across the street waved for me to come over for a coffee. Seeing as how it was a couple of feet away, and my only other option was to go back up to my couch, I decided to seize the moment to get to know my new neighbors better. I'm so glad I did, b/c I had a great time meeting the family. The grandmother and mother dont speak English, but we communicated just fine in Macedonian! The son of the family came home near the end. He is 24, and last summer he worked in Gatlinburg, TN. SMALL WORLD, RIGHT?! He spoke excellent English, and the whole family offered an open invitation for me to visit whenever I want. Oh, and they had a big beautiful white dog, which I got to pet and love on the whole time, which also made me really happy. :D

After resting on the couch for the rest of the day, I took some more medicine so that I could tolerate going to the school's French show. I had helped a group of 4th year girls put together a CanCan dance for the show, and my French friend, Arnaud, and his girlfriend offered to drive me. We had a great time!! Honestly, I was embarrassed by everyone seeing me limp so badly. I felt like I looked ridiculous. And I think a lot of people were just confused as to what was even wrong with me, but it's just hard to explain. It doesnt matter though, b/c the girls did an EXCELLENT job. Check it out:

After the show, I really wanted to just go home and rest my hip, b/c I was in pain, but Aleksandra and Arnaud offered to go eat. I love sharing meals with them, so I agreed. We had a feast of frog legs, fried onion rings, and salads. It was great!! Stefani also found time to swing by, which made me so so so so happy. She gave me her senior photo with the sweetest note written on the back, and IN ENGLISH!! I love that girl, and I'm going to really be sad when she goes off to college this summer. 

I wont be back at work tomorrow. Honestly, I want to try to go to school on Thursday, just to observe the Zumba class and see all my ladies and Emilija. This weekend will just be resting, and hopefully I'll be feeling much better. If the pain doesnt get better in a couple of days, Ill need to go back to Skopje to see another doctor, but let's all think positive thoughts. :D 

Saturday, April 21, 2012


It's always something.

Yesterday morning, I woke up in my new apartment. I sat up in my new bed, threw my housecoat on, and slid my legs off the side of the bed. As I began to stand, I fell back onto my bed, because the weight of my body caused an intense pain shooting from my hip down to my foot. Panicked, I tried again and again to stand, until I finally could.

For the rest of the day, the mysterious pain from my hip kept re-emerging. Often times, it would happen right after I'd been sitting down for a while. Other times, it happened out of nowhere, while standing. I even found myself stranded in the grocery store, unable to walk. Not even a limp was possible, but each time it came, it also found time to pass.

By last night, I'd began taking some medicine for the pain. I had a great night with Elena, Arnaud, and friends, but my hip continued to send me spurts of pain. After getting home, I immediately placed myself in bed, but I found myself so uncomfortable while sleeping, I just knew it would be there again in the morning. Sure enough, I found myself immobile in the morning, and only after some time was I able to walk again. I was beginning to panic a little. I knew it felt like a nerve, but the pain was more consistent, so I wasn't sure if I should contact PC about it.

Well today was a big Model UN workshop in Stip. Thankfully, I now live only 2 minutes from the bus station (as opposed to 15 from my old place), so I had no problem walking to the station. Soon after I got there, I felt the pain beginning in my hip again, and it spread across my side and butt. The pain shot down my leg to my foot, so I forced myself to sit. I suddenly realized I would not be able to attend the workshop in Stip. I didnt think I could walk to the bus, much less be able to walk off the bus. The pain began to spread across my lower region, and the next thing I knew, I was in tears.

To make a long story short, I probably embarrassed the hell out of myself at the station. I cried. A lot. PC told me to get to a pharmacy, so Lilika helped me get a cab, b/c I couldnt walk there. I spent about an hour talking with the doctor and the women, and after getting a lot of pain medicine, I got in another cab and went home. They said I have sciatica, which is just a fancy word for the extreme pain I'm having from a nerve, but we still dont know what is causing it. I've been having lower back pain for sometime now, so it could be something relating to a disc. But for now, I was told to just stay at not do anything...and to just rest. So that's what I am doing.

Really, Im just frustrated with being stuck at home. Im so busy lately, and I like being busy. I hate that I cant go to dance practice tomorrow, or Zumba on Monday, or even begin my new ballet class on Monday night. I simply cant. And I HATE that. Last week, I had so many girls come to I going to lose their interest if I miss a week?? My kids want me there...they want to work and dance..and I hate that Im being told to stay home. : ( I feel like I'm letting everyone down if I stay home, and I dont want to disappoint my kids.

If the pain is still bad by Monday, I'll probably go to Skopje for the doctor. I'm hoping it'll all go away in a couple of days though....I just dont have time for this problem. The one good thing about all of this, is that Im in the comfort of my new apartment, and THANK GOD for that!!

Friday, April 20, 2012


I am officially living in my new apartment, and it is AWESOME!!

I moved in two days ago now, and I still have not hardly had any time to settle in. After getting everything moved in, Arnaud and I walked into the center to get some food. We ended up running into some of his older local friends who INSISTED we join them. Upon sitting down and saying my name was Morgan, one of the men who owns a few businesses in the area said "Morgan Paige?" HAHA I was like "Yea, but how do you know me?!" Turns out the first internet I had (the bad one) was another one of his companies, but there were no hard feelings. :D
It turned into a couple of hours of rakija, salads, pizzas, and some new local friends!! Everyone was so nice. There was a mixture of Macedonian, English, and French being spoken, but we all managed to have a hilarious time. Im looking forward to seeing them all again.

After getting home, I "na gostied" with my landlady. She is so nice!! We talked for almost an hour, and she said I spoke excellent Macedonian, which really made me feel good. Later, I began to finally unpack my belongings, and wait for Rachel (a friend I grew up with from Hendersonville) to arrive. Her bus was supposed to get in around midnight, and her phone has internet, so we figured it would be easy to get her once she was in.....well it wasnt.

I was watching the clock...
midnight passed.....1am passed....1:30 passed.....nothing. I checked my email a million times and tried to call her cell phone A LOT, but it kept going to voicemail. I began to get worried, but tried not to be. 2am passed....2:30 3:00 in the morning, I was really worried, and I sent her another email. By 4:00, I decided something had really gone wrong, so I set my alarm to go off every 30 minutes to check my phone. By 7am, I had Lilika start calling the bus station in an attempt to find her. By 10am, I was desperate to find her, and I tried called her phone again, and it FINALLY RANG!! Finally, Rachel had made it, after falling asleep on her first bus to Kocani. She'd gone THROUGH Kocani and made it all the way down to Bitola (near the Greece border), and had to catch a few more buses back!! Poor thing....she was just as stressed and tired. But she was one hell of a trooper, b/c as soon as she got it, we went to work!!

Rachel got to see so many things and meet so many people in the one day she was here. She observed Zumba, went shopping in the bazaar, hung out with Bill, met a new local friend, Kosta, ate fresh fruit an veggies, which we'd bought at the bazaar, met my landlord, Emilija, Lilika, and a lot of my students and teachers....Later, we went to a nice dinner with Arnaud, where both of our exhaustion was kicking in heavily. Sadly, Rachel had to get in a car and ride back to Bulgaria at only 10pm, but I must say her trip here was fantastic!!!!! I LOVED seeing her, and I hope she comes back for a longer trip next time.

As far as work updates go...I've got a lot in motion. We've still got the Zumba classes going, which have had around 30 or more girls in each class. I think the Easter show has made more girls interested again :D The dance crew also began learning their new dance last night. Taking the time to properly choreograph a dance is hard work!! Furthermore, I will begin my new BALLET class next Monday night. I think we will have a huge turn-out. Let's see.....oh, and I'm still doing Model UN with my kids. We are going to another workshop out of town tomorrow, and then they compete next Saturday. I'll be glad to have one more thing done. I think by Tuesday, I'll have a little time to breathe and get settled in my new awesome home. Once Ive got it set up more, Ill post photos.

That's all I've got. I hope all is well at home!! My momma comes in 3 weeks!!!! Cant wait!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Egg Breaking and Being Awesome

As promised, here is my video from Easter:

You'll see the egg breaking tradition, a lot of Lilika's family, the double rainbow, and even a short bit of me chatting with my momma!!

Today, I get to open up my bank account for the grant I got. From there, it should only be a couple of weeks before we get our money and begin installing everything. I'M SO PUMPED!! 

Right now, I'm waiting on my Can-Can dancers. That's right....there's a French show coming up in a week, and I've got some 4th year girls who will be performing. I also get to begin new dancers with my other dancers this week, which I'm excited about (and so are they!!) 

FURTHERMORE, I have a friend from high school coming into town to visit me!! She's traveling around Istanbul and Bulgaria right now, so why not jump next door to visit me!? :D I'm excited for this week. That's all for now. Enjoy the video!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

An Update Through Photos

I've survived another busy weekend, but I must say that this one was one of the most fun I've had here!! 

I woke up at 3:00am on Saturday morning and hopped into a car with Lilika, Lilika's uncle, Martin, and Bill. It was dark out, and without any lights guiding us on the streets, I found myself zoning out in the blacked out world around us. About 3 hours later, just as the sun came up, we arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece for the kids' ACT test. Although we were about 15 minutes late for registration, and things got a little intense for a moment, we managed through it. The first stop after the ACT test was STARBUCKS. Observe pure bliss below:
That's a Venti Caramel Macchiato right there. I inhaled that drink in about 10 minutes and debated on buying another, but my nerves were in shock, so I decided against it. Going 8 months without a legit fancy coffee drink sure can do weird things to your body. :D

The above photo is of the square in Thessaloniki. It was a really nice town!! There were a lot of shops and restaurants everywhere. I miss having such variety. Although it rained off and on all day, I'd still say we managed to have a beautiful day for strolling around the city. After the ACT test was done, we decided to shop for the rest of the afternoon. Lilika and I set off on an adventure in various stores, and often got in trouble for having the camera out....

 For lunch, we stopped at a fast food Asian type of place. They offered noodle and rice dishes, but I instantly found sushi available and seized the opportunity. I was in HEAVEN. Again, not having sushi for 8 months is not pretty. :D

Originally, Bill and I were going to stay the night. However, after discovering that everything would be closed on Sunday and realizing we'd gotten all the shopping out of our system, we decided to ride back with the group. It was a BEAUTIFUL ride home. The landscapes were remarkable. Everything was breathtaking, and we found ourselves pulling over quite often for photos.

This is Bill, the other volunteer who lives with me in Kocani. 

Martin and Lilika....taking advantage of the scenery for some good photos!!

Later in the drive, we were all getting pretty quite. I think our exhaustion was really kicking in. Suddenly, I turned to my right and saw an enormous rainbow...TWO, in fact!! I yelled "rainbow," and the next thing you know, we are on the side of the road. 

You see what I mean about wonderful and breathtaking scenery!?!?!?! We got in pretty late, and my body reacted like it had jetlag. I went to bed early, and after sleeping off about 10 hours, I woke up to Easter in Kocani. 

Macedonians celebrate the Orthodox Easter. I found their traditions to be very similar to ours in the US, and I was lucky to have many people to share the holiday with!! I began my morning drinking coffee and Baileys with Bill and CJ at Bill's new apartment. Bill finally found a new home too, and he is now right in the center as well. After enjoying the morning with the boys, I made the 30 minute walk up to Emilija's house. Upon entering, I discovered Emilija was already hard at work preparing a nice lunch, complete with pork, salads, homemade bread, and meats with cheese!! I finally got to have some good sit-down quality time with Emilija, which was much needed!! 

From there, I walked back down into town to Lilika's family's house. They'd jus finished their first lunch, and were about to begin their next. Here, when you "na gosti" (aka visit people), you are expected to eat. Personally, I have no problem with eating, but after having two meals prior to a visit, eating another meal can be painful. That being said, I was offered one of my favorite dishes, Sarma (stuffed grape leaves), along with some whiskey, soup, breads, pork, potatoes, and endless salads. I was glad to finally spend some quality time with Lilika's family. Her uncle was still there (the one who took us to Greece), and her mother and father were there as well. The family was awesome to share some time with!! They were even entertained when I attempted to carry on in Macedonian. I got to take part in a local tradition of "cracking eggs." I had a running record, but alas, it came to an end. You'll see this is my new video!!

After a few hours, I decided to head back home so I could lay FLAT, in order to breath properly. :D
It was a great weekend, and today has been a much needed day of rest for me. I've been trying to pack up my apartment for the big move on Wednesday. I cant wait!! I'm not sure how crazy this week will end up becoming, but I do hope I have another day or so to play catch up on everything. 

Ah...I almost forgot. VIDEOS!!!!

Ok, first off, I've actually got TWO videos, but one of them is taking FOREVER to upload onto YouTube. So to hold you over, here is a short video from the event we had on Thursday with the school. I promise I'll post the new video once it's uploaded fully. : ) 

Friday, April 13, 2012


It's been almost a week since I've updated!! All I can say is that I've been so busy lately.

First off, my grant got its final approval this week!! I've spent more hours than I can count on that thing, and it feels so good to have it all pay off. With this money, I'll get to install some new proper rubber matting type of flooring for the dance studio. I also get to buy things like an air conditioner, speakers, etc. Yay!!!!

Secondly, I signed my new lease this week. That felt SO GOOD. I even started packing up my apartment already. When I first moved in Laura, the volunteer who was here before me, left me a lot of things, but I havent needed most of the stuff, so going through and getting rid of some things has been helpful. I'll get to move this Wednesday, and I will feel like a new person once I've gotten all moved in!!

My school threw its big Easter celebration on Thursday. Kids from every class set up tents and booths to sell Easter art they made. It was adorable!! Everyone in the city was out on that day, and the weather was perfect. We had 4 dances total in the show. ALL of them did so well!! Here are two links to a couple of the dances:

I also made a video from the Easter event, but my internet cord is pretty damaged, so the internet goes in and out too much, I havent had time to properly get it on YouTube. I will get it up as soon as I get back in town.

Currently, Im waiting for a car to pick me up, b/c this morning I am going to GREECE!! :D Two of my students, Lilika and Martin, will be taking the ACT test today. I think they are going to do an excellent job. Lilika has personally spent hours studying with me. We've gone over everything, and although she is nervous, I feel confident she is going to do well. We will stay the night in Thessaloniki tonight, and then HOPEFULLY head back to Macedonia tomorrow. If buses arent running properly, we might just try to grab a ride over the border and crash with another volunteer. We honestly dont know. It's Easter weekend here, so you can imagine.

That's all I've got, time-wise, for an update. In about 3 weeks, my momma gets here!! Im so excited, you have no idea!! Missing all of you at home still. <3

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What do you go home to?

First thing's first...HAPPY EASTER!!

Being here for the holidays is a mixture of feelings. After having such a hectic week and weekend, and after not being home since Tuesday, I am SO HAPPY to be spending Easter in my new home of Kocani. Of course, on every holiday, I tend to miss home a lot, but that cannot be helped. Aside from missing home, I also tend to examine and re-evaluate my life.

I take inventory.

What do I have in my life right now, that I didn't have before? What do I not have in my life anymore? Do I need or miss that thing? Who's in my life? Who's not in my life anymore? Unfortunately, I've had many people I care about leave my life. Some were just friendships that fell apart. Some were much closer people who seemed to have just given up. Two family members have stopped speaking with me in the 26 years I've been alive. It's still beyond me how a family member can just shut you out and not have any desire to reconcile. As a child, I worked very hard on being a positive staple for everyone, but now that I am older, I've discovered it isn't part of my journey to have such negative people share in the great experiences I've been able accomplish. I'll accept the fact that I'm not worth it to them. I simply dont have the capacity to put forth anymore effort on people who do not wish to do the same. And to be completely honest with you...I am at peace with that.

FORTUNATELY for me, I now have so many people in my life...people I really sincerely care about. Having been in Kocani since late November, I've slowly found and built on some new relationships here. Some have proven to not be worth my time (which is ok), while others have become like family to me. My perspective on what truly makes a person important in my life is much different than it was before I came here, and I'm very comfortable in that.

On a different note, I've been over-worked lately, and I can feel it physically. Last week, I was in Ohrid for a week-long IST training session with Peace Corps, all the volunteers, and a lot of the counterparts. Emilija came with me, and we had so much fun together. I was constantly proud to have her by my side. I really love her and her family, and I think our relationship shows when we are together. Sadly, she had to go back to Kocani on Thursday, and I had to finish the training. By Friday, I was already tired and wanting to go home, but I couldnt. Instead, I had to get on a 3-hour bus ride to Skopje, because the National Spelling Bee was the next morning at 8am.

The "Bee" was great!! I was part of the committee, so I was there from 8am-6:30pm doing every job there was. We had over 900 children qualify, so we held a bunch of "mini bees," and then we held the final ones. I had 5 kids from Kocani compete, and all of them did a FANTASTIC job!! Even though they didn't win, I could not have been more proud. : ) After the Bee, I had to get on another 3-hour bus ride back to Kocani. In the 15 minutes I had to walk home with Lilika, I felt the exhaustion kicking in, and I just wanted to shut my eyes for days....but right now, I dont have that luxury, haha!!

This week is going to be packed, again. We've got an Easter show on Thursday, and my dance crew kids, "Local Gods," will be performing their new dance. The dance is seriously amazing...they've all worked so hard on it, and I cant wait to see how the public reacts. On Saturday and Sunday, I'm riding down to Greece with Bill and two students, so they can take the ACT test. We will hopefully enjoy a nice meal Saturday night in celebration of the Macedonian Easter, and then ride back home on Sunday. By the time I get back, I will need to begin packing my things, because on Wednesday I will MOVE INTO MY NEW APARTMENT!!

I'm a "hot mess" right now, but life is still really good..ya know?? I'm really happy....I'm really tired, but life is GOOD. I wish all the best to my family and friends back home on this Easter Sunday, and I'm looking forward to some new emails. : )