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Archive for September, 2010

She walked over and asked me, “What type of planning did you do to come back? So, how did you get a job when you returned?”

Wow, great question I thought. This was just Meet, Plan, Go (not return). And to be honest, I never really thought about returning. But hey, I did return. And I even returned to corporate.  I had an answer.  And so did many of the veteran career breakers.

potential career breakers listen to the panel...

I fielded the question during the “Meet, Plan, Go” event in New York City this past September 14th & 15th. The sponsored gathering led by Briefcase to Backpack, held across 13 American cities (yes, Canada too) aimed to encourage us hard-working Americans to take a ‘career break.’

A panel of  ‘career breakers’ all with different stories from serial career breakers to one-timers discussed personal experiences, provided answers to questions and concerns and  spread inspiration. For me, I was a volunteer. I worked logistics to assist. I fielded questions afterwards during the networking section as the group mingled.

the panel of 'career breakers'

As for my return, I’d lie to say it wasn’t a struggle at first. It was.  But it’s because I realized how amazing the world can be. It’s an incredible place.

After a internal struggle, I actually used the language skills I learned on my first stop of my journey (“Becoming Pura Vida in Costa Rica”) to obtain my best project. Sixteen sweet months in Mexico. Yes, my career break helped my career. Surprised? Don’t be, it seemed to help everyone I met who took one.

Confident, I was now finally ready for to answer her question. I smiled and said, “Congratulations.”

She seemed puzzled. I told her, “Congratulations on making the decision to take a career break, it will change your life for the better. Now all you just need some advice on how to get back”

She smiled. Ice broken. Fear vanished and excitement entered the conversation. And then I told her my story and advice on how to return.  Maybe she left a step close to taking a career break. Actually with the 1400 people signed up across the continent I trust more than a few left a step closer to taking a break.

the boot camp is next...

I’ll continue to help push the idea of a career break into the American Psyche. I’ll tell my story. I’ll share my memories and continue to live life under my mantra – Stay Adventurous.  Plus, I’ll encourage people to reach out to Briefcase to Backpack for the support they may need. And hopefully with events such as this one, and the stories of success from those who returned and changed, the idea of the ‘career break’ will reach the tipping point here in America. I already believe it’s on its way.

Stay adventurous, Craig

The photos are from Briefcase to Backpack; they obtained a quality volunteer photographer to take them.

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Originally, I started following Wendy on Twitter when I discovered a shared appreciation for Mexico. But when I started Sunset Sunday, she consistently posted photos of sunsets on Twitter. All of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. I wondered what made the lake and location so special?

Well, I asked her share a photo and some memories. She agreed. Enjoy Wendy’s words and sunset moment.

Wendy enjoys the familiar view on Lake Huron...

Here I am again, sitting upon the rocks at the end of the pier, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. This is the very spot I sat last night, the night before and it is where I will most likely be this time tomorrow night. I have sat upon these same grey rocks as a child, as a teenager, as a wife and now as a single mother with a daughter of my own. I have come here time and time again at the end of the day, for the beauty of the sunset.

Although my life has evolved and changed over time, I take a certain comfort in knowing I will see the same sun set each night. I feel like it somehow knows me, has seen me through my ups and downs, and always has this way of calming me from the inside out and reminding me of how great my life really is. Tonight’s sunset is no exception. Happy Sunset Sunday!

by – Wendy Greene

Wendy P Greene, a creative communication professional who blogs at Creatively Speaking and tweets at @WendyPGreene. Online, you can read about her professional adventures along with how she spends her time when she is not watching the sunset.

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After Chichen Itza and a visit to the Sacred Well, the next stop on the Xichen tour was lunch in the colonial city of Valladolid. After some classic Mexican cuisine we set out to walk off the food and find the convent of El San Bernardino. The history on the colorful streets, churches and convent painted a much different Mexico.

this cenote was one of the biggest I saw

After a tour inside the catholic relic, we hopped on board the bus again for one final stop, the main cenote – Zaci.

it's been a great 20 days.... vaya con dios.

An enormous pool of refreshing water sat deep below. As I climbed down the stairs to capture a better view and better photo, I noticed a few folks down on the edge preparing to take a dip. Dry and refreshed thanks to the provided cool facial towels by Xichen, I did not join them inside the water. Yet, I definitely shared in their joy. Simply enormous.

Thanks for joining me on 20 days across Mexico.  Stay adventurous, Craig

Day 20 of the 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute. Day 5 of Cenote Week.

A special thanks to Experiences Xcaret (via Riviera Maya) for providing passage to tour Chichen Itza via the Xichen Tour.

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We found it...

I started my morning en route to San Felipe Ranch, a Mayan community, where Alltournative operates its adventure tours. My host Riviera Maya van sped down the main highway until a small sign and our guide both signaled us to turn off. Then the real journey began.

We drove slowly across the uneven dirt road and continued deep into the jungle. Staying in Playa you can easily forget how thick and vast the Mexican jungle is on Yucatan Peninsula. That morning I was reminded, I was on the Jungle Maya Expedition.

My all day adventure included a packed list of activities. The dance card consisted of: a 4×4 all terrain off-road ride, zip lines across the jungle from above,  mountain biking on trails, a Mayan ceremonial cleansing (possibly needed), and the prize – swimming three different cenotes (including one via a rappel entry).

the entry to the cenote...

But then, as my coffee just seemed the right temperature to drink, we started through this bumpy dirt road.  As I struggled not to spill it, I attempted to take a sip. I knew I’d need the caffeine fuel for this day.

We arrived and it seemed I was on the clock. My guide, an Austrian who now calls Mexico home kept us punctual as we switched from activity to activity. And although my group was just three of us, my Riviera Maya guide, my Alltournative guide and myself, the ranch buzzed with activity. I noticed many other tourists who came to enjoy the same experience, the Jungle Maya.

After an early morning hike, we eventually found ourselves at the first cenote, part of the Nohoch Nah Chich Cenote system.  These connected cenotes, part of the Planet Earth BBC documentary, is one of the longest explored underground river systems in the world. And as I understand it, more is still being discovered today.

enjoying the magic of a cenote...

After a rinse and changing, we obtained the provided gear; the wetsuit (not needed if you can handle 75-78 degree water), and snorkel equipment. We then walked down the steps to the cavernous entry and plunged into the clear, pools. Exploration began. We navigated through the waters admiring the stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations both from above and below. Intense and incredible.

my RivMaya Guide Liz and I explore the tight caverns

The second entrance known as “Heavens Gate”, provided more views of the caverns. Both beautiful and so refreshing, not just for the cool water on a hot day, but rather refreshing to the inner-self. A chance to explore and see an unknown and uncommon world. With bats above and even fossilized shells aged at 65 million years old, you truly enter a unique and different world.

down the Cenote I went...

The third cenote, I needed to rappel down the side of the cave to enter. My first time. Again so different.

Stimulation was unavoidable on the Jungle Maya tour, but looking back the chance to take an adventurous sample of the jungle and also swim in the cenotes remain memories that shall stay with me.

And for the cenote swims, I could have spent all day in the Nohoch Nah Chich Cenote underworld, but perhaps the taste I had will just make me hunger for more. Hunger for a return.

stay adventurous, Craig

Day 19 of the 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute. Day 4 of Cenote Week.

Also a special thanks for Alltournative for proving me access to both Mayan communities and giving me a taste of all the activities available. Also, all photos where you see me – are by the imaginenative team (I purchased them to support the Mayan community)

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Chichen Itza recently named one of the new seven wonders of the world attracts people from across the globe. Visitors come by the bus loads to walk the grounds, view the sites, and ponder the past where both Maya and Toltec civilizations once flourished.

the stairs of a serpent.

However, on both the Spring (March 20/21) and Autumn (September 21/22) Equinox the crowds grow. People come to witness the special illumination of the pyramid steps from the sun and shadows.

The natural spectacle begins when the first shadows appear on the Kukulcan pyramid as isosceles triangles on the steps. The steps seem to make the body of the feathered serpent on the move. As the shadow slithers down it eventually reaches the snake’s head to the spectators delight. An energy arrived for the masses.

The snake apparently (in legend) continues down a path to the sacred pool. The pool, a magical mayan cenote and source of fresh water provides the final resting place for snake’s passage (the energy) as well as other sacrifices based upon the countless rituals performed. The greenish mysterious and murky waters seems to hold more serpents, but secrets.

Although you can’t swim in this cenote (and can’t climb the steps of the pyramid of Kukulkan) you can see witness its power and magic during the days that span the equinox (it happens both a few days prior and post) or even just visit to see the ruins and pool on any “normal” day. There is so much to see and absorb about this wonder.

a view of the sacred pool cenote at Chichen Itza

And to truly understand the ruins and archeology of Chichen Itza and the sacred pool cenote I recommend hiring a tour guide. If you take a tour from Playa del Carmen or Cancun like Xichen one will be included (in spanish and English). Or if explore solo and like guide books, I recommend supplementing the basic book with the Mayan architectural approach guide to enhance the experience. Both helped me on my adventure.

stay adventurous, Craig

Day 18 of the 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute. Day 3 of Cenote Week.

A special thanks to Experiences Xcaret (via Riviera Maya) for providing passage to tour Chichen Itza via the Xichen Tour.

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My guide walked toward the cenote, but I couldn’t see any cavern entrance or surface water. Confused my paced slowed even with the sudden rainfall and darker skies. She started to descend. Stairs?

the descending stairs....

A spiral staircase descended below the surface and I followed her into the earth.

After 20-30 steps and still no sight of the cenote I thought, “How deep were we going?” Still deeper we traveled. Fifty steps, maybe more. I didn’t count. But when we finally came to the opening. Wow.

To my surprise a huge wooden deck platform was built over a vast a pool of crystal clear blue water in a deep, hollow cavern. Incredible. And all this infrastructure created underground for this single cenote. And now it was just the two of us. Essentially a private cenote. Simply amazing.

I’ve explored a few centoes in Tulum on a prior visit to the Riviera Maya and recently enjoyed a magical cenote swim at Hacienda Tres Rios, but this was different. I realized each cenote swim was different. All seemed to contain a magic of their own.

The Coba Ruins close by...

When we first arrived, I changed and rinsed to clean off any chemicals as instructed in an effort to keep the cenotes clean. But the few empty shower stalls made me question why this cenote? No one else was here. The itinerary listed Cenote Multun-ha, but I noticed other cenotes closer to Coba. And I noticed other tourists heading to those.

But now looking over this cenote, I smiled to my guide. I thanked her. Apparently, she knew. She knew of this special place. A place that before today I always wanted to swim in. Now I would. A breathtaking moment.

And after I dove in and swam a few strokes in the sacred pool, I actually started to lose my breath. I dove down to pick up a small stone, and surfaced with the need to pause, the need to catch my breath. I sat on the rope across the water surface to rest for a few seconds. Was I ok?

Yes. Suddenly ventilation switched on and oxygen started to be pumped in. And although we lost the calm of silence, I did appreciate a return to breathing normal.  Apparently, the beauty of this Cenote truly did take my breath away.

the breathtaking cenote-multun-ha

Stay adventurous, Craig

Day 17 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute. Day 2 of Cenote Week.

Also, a special thanks to Riviera Maya for being an excellent guide and host. And special thanks for providing my access to this cenote. Magical.

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I took off my life-preserver device and decided to dive. A deep breath and I left the surface to swim towards the bottom. Not very deep, only a few meters down, I touched, turned and planned to return to the surface. I looked up. Magical.

the entrance to the cenote...

Sunbeams penetrated the clear crisp water and shined on my face, my body, and even seemed to warm my soul. A spiritual experience.  And this was just the beginning of my cenote experiences in the Riviera Maya.

we floated Cenote Aquila y Rio Selva

The entire float down Cenote Aquila and the Rio Selva at Hacienda Tres Rios proved magical.  Above water I viewed the mangroves and listened to the birds or below I snorkeled to watch the fish and view the reflections of the sun illuminate the under(water)world. At times I even floated backwards and waved my arms. The shadow created on the floor mimicked an angel.  A water angel. A sensation I did not witness alone.

We all entered the cenote 800 meters up river prepared to float down to the ocean. And after a coming to our senses on the SenseAdvenutre or understanding our own life’s journey through the doors of a Temazcal, we desired a refreshing, fun event. A swim.

Some eased their way in, others apparently jumped in to the cenote. Regardless of the entry method, I believe, many of us found more than just an afternoon swim along the way. I did.

We found a reason to thank the sustainable resort, Hacienda Tres Rios, for making its mission not just saving this cenote (only available to its guests) but for making a difference to the environment as a way of business. I also found more.

the guides smiles where the River meets the Gulf

I found a connection. A connection to nature through the natural wonder of a cenote. Magic exists in such an experience. A magic I’d find all week in swimming and experiencing the centoes of the Riviera Maya.

Stay adventurous, Craig

Day 16 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute. Day 1 of Cenote Week.

Also thanks for Hacienda Tres Rios for proving passage along the river from the cenote to the Gulf of Mexico and inviting me to share in the experiences of their resort.


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