I am 28. White. A Female. And a former Peace Corps Volunteer. I am HIV Positive. This is my story of how a few months, a few people, and a few events in Zambia changed me and my life forever. This is the story of how I contracted HIV and brought my Peace Corps Journey to a crashing halt... and how I am working now to pick up and put back together the pieces of my life as a newly diagnosed person living with HIV. This was not the journey I had originally planned... my path has traumatically and dramatically changed... but it is the one I am on now. There is no going back. There is only forward. I welcome you to follow along with me as I attempt to explore this new life ahead of me, whether you are someone from the Peace Corps community, or someone living with HIV. I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and opinions. Let us go forward together. To start from the beginning, click here He Gave Me More Than A Bracelet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

And Forward I Go...

Wow! A whole 8 months has passed since I last visited this blog. As I wrote in my previous post in February, I have reached a point in my life where HIV no longer affects my daily thoughts, actions, or life in general.

And now, I may shock my readers with how much I've moved forward in the last 8 months...get ready...

On May 25, 2014, my boyfriend proposed to me. The specific timing and location of the proposal came as a surprise, although the proposal itself was not too unexpected. We had been discussing it for a few months, and had a solid understanding and belief of where our relationship was taking us and the future we both envisioned together. So, needless to say, I said YES!
We both agreed that there was no need for a lengthy engagement. We were serious in our love, commitment, and decision to spend our lives together. So, we chose our date, and immediately went forward with the planning. So I spent my summer months working through all the tedious tasks of wedding planning... making and sending out Save the Dates (and later the Invitations), finding a dress, caterer, DJ, photographer, etc. Fortunately, I did not work during the summer and had lots of time to dedicate to the planning... in between our vacations of course. (We managed to squeeze in a 7 day trip to Punta Cana and a 7 day trip to Hawaii this summer!)
When August, and the start of the new school year approached, I prepared to go back to work again. This involved a new school, as well as a promotion. At the same time, we also happened to be knee deep in house hunting.

By September 1st, I had started my new job, he had merged with a larger company and started his new job, we purchased and moved into a brand new home, and we were just about done with the wedding plans! As you can imagine, it was a time with lots of changes and lots of stress. But, we held tight to each other, pushed forward, and made it on through...
 On October 25, 2014, I married my best friend and love. We had a beautiful backyard ceremony and reception with 60 of our closest family and friends. The whole day went perfectly and in my husband's words "was way better than I ever even imagined it would be". From the weather, to the decorations, to the food and photography... all the details came together to make for a magical evening. We rounded out the week with a stay at the beach for a few days. Although, our real honeymoon is scheduled for Christmas Break, when we are taking a 7 day Caribbean cruise. We are now at home happily starting our life as a married couple. Life is good.

 If you happen to be reading this and are in a time of struggle, please have faith that you can move forward. No matter what you may be dealing with right now, I hope you can reach deep down and find the strength to keep going. Don't look back. Don't focus on what is or what has been. Just look forward and know that there is always more ahead of you. Stay positive (wink wink), and just keep going, one step at a time. I did it. And you can too.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hello 2014

Hello to all of my readers, new and old. I have not abandoned you completely, just taken a bit of a break.

You know, I've always quoted from the beginning "HIV is a part of me, but it does not define me".

At this point in my journey, I don't feel like this quote really does the situation justice, and I've been pondering how to make it more fitting. The best I can come up with for now is "HIV is a part of me, but it does not affect me".

For the first couple of years, it really did affect my daily life, my job search, my relationships with others, my mental and emotional stability, etc. It was hovering in the background and weighing heavy on various parts of my life.

But, after 2.5 years I can honestly say that I feel free of it. It does not affect my daily life. It does not affect my job. It does not affect my relationships and friendships with others. It does not affect my mental and/or emotional state. It does not affect my physical well-being. In fact, I would estimate that 95% of the time, I forget that I even have it. My life has gone forward, and I have moved on.

Yes, there are isolated situations that have and will continue to come up over the years regarding my HIV. But for the most part, all HIV means to me right now is a 6 month check up.

As for my current life... my job is going great and I am considering options to move up or grow in my career... I have an amazing boyfriend that I love very much and he loves me, and I am looking forward to growing our future together... I am planning some big vacations for the summer... and I am also toying with the idea of starting to write my book...