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The Anomaly

Every day when I wake up I am excited to first of all peek out at the sky to see the gorgeous moon and stars. What I love most is opening the doors to our home and looking at the sea. I can never ever get tired of seeing the ocean nor the gorgeous sunrises.


At some point in the day I head over to our project where we're clearing the land to prepare for development. I am the only woman among all of the workers. I've been here with the construction crew for over a month. I have not seen any women working the hands on way that I do in a construction field. I believe I am an anomaly. I remember one person asking why I was not at home taking care of things. It was not an insult, rather a curiosity. I am not sure if they understand when a North American says "All hands on board" that it means everyone has to pitch in. Besides, this is a dream come true for me. I remember sitting at my office desk in my 20's wondering how to get a job elsewhere where I could work outside. I am enjoying movement. Moving my body. Using my core. Strengthening my arms and legs. Using an axe, rake, hoe, saw, lifting and hauling rocks and boulders for now. I feel so much stronger with each week that passes, especially since I began lifting rocks. I've had to train my less dominant left arm to do the work that I am doing.


When I walk on the streets to go to the cafe where we sometimes eat lunch, people stare at me. I'm in my construction clothes and boots that look as if they're too big for me. My silver hair probably makes them wonder why I am working in this field at this age. I usually have lots of dust on my clothes, depending on what I am working on. You see, I get fully involved in what I am doing. If it means I get muddy, then so be it. I smile back, nod at them and send a greeting their way. I have wondered if Portuguese women will ever consider working in this field. I hope they do. I find it very interesting and personally fulfilling and satisfying. I love seeing the daily changes in the land we're developing. Every day there's so much work done, it looks different. I've been keeping an album of pictures to record our progress.


I've had to make adjustments to get used to the clothing I am wearing and the tools I am using. I never used an axe nor a hoe before. I'm learning when I use my core to strengthen myself when using the axe, it works so much better. If I don't get my core involved, it takes a much longer time to chop things down. This is the first time I'm wearing steel toed boots. Both my tall rubber boots and the steel toed ones are too big for me. There are no half sizes. During the first two weeks of wearing the steel toed boots, I struggled. They are so heavy. Every day I felt as if I had two concrete blocks on either feet. The muscles on my legs would ache. At the end of the day I couldn't lift my legs off the ground to put them into the car. I was so tired and the boots felt even heavier. This week I must be getting stronger as I didn't notice the weight of the boots.


After working alongside the men for the first week, they all told me I am a very hard worker. I had other commitments for most of this week. I heard they missed my presence and wondered where I was. When I showed up at mid-day yesterday they said, in Portuguese, "Well, good day to you!" then proceeded to ask why I was absent.


In Karate Kid Mr. Miyagi said "Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything!" I've caught flies with chopsticks twice in my life. I changed my mindset to believe that I can accomplish anything. Was it worth giving up my white collar worker job to be here in my 50's? Oh TOTALLY!



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