Off The Beaten Path: A Family’s Global Journey

first_imgWelcome to a new online series we call ‘Off the Beaten Path’, where we showcase the many inspirational folks from across the Blue Ridge who have stepped away from the mainstream path of everyday existence to live a more intentional and adventurous life. From thru-hikers and van-lifers to off-the-grid warriors and tiny house disciples, we’ll be bringing you the true stories behind some of the region’s most interesting and inspiring characters.This time around we’re featuring the incredible global sojourn of a family of four from Asheville, North Carolina. These days Maria Rusafova is back in her Asheville home readjusting to normal life, but for some 450 days she and her husband Kuba Markulis and their two children lived a nomadic, globetrotting lifestyle, staying in hostels and camping while soaking in the cultures of such countries as Laos, Cambodia, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, South Africa, and many, many more.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.27.16 PM“One day I woke up with the idea to take the family around the world,” Maria, who is an architect by trade, writes in a meticulously well-kept blog that chronicles nearly every aspect of the life-changing journey. “It surprised me that (my husband) Kuba cheered me on. The kids—8 & 10—were psyched. Together we told all of our friends about our plan, to prevent us from flaking out, and then spent two years working our bums off and saving while waiting for our US passport application to get approved (originally I am from Bulgaria and Kuba is from Poland).”Read on for Maria’s first-hand account of this epic family odyssey.♦♦♦BRO: What inspired you to leave home and take up a life on the road?Maria Rusfova: Taking up a life on the road was a spontaneous decision. We had happy lives here in Asheville – the kids were going to a great little school, we were content with our architecture business which was picking up pace and we had a wonderful community of friends. Still, I was itching to leave it all for a while and explore the world.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.34.01 PMI felt like our life was too fast paced and we weren’t spending a lot of quality time as a family, but most of all I was suffering from wanderlust. Selfishly I wanted to run away from chores and everyday responsibilities and live a lifestyle of surprise and adventures. At the time the idea seemed like a dream. Now, two months after coming home, the 21 month trip seems even more like a dream that the four of us shared. I am happy that we decided to keep a blog as we managed to keep a tangible memory, however tiny, of what we saw and experienced in words and photos.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.33.06 PMBRO: Where did your journey begin, and what kinds of places did you discover along the way?MR: We started the trip in Asia getting a taste of Japan, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. At first our pace of travel was fast – we were curious and hungry to experience as much as we could. With time we slowed down and started to veer away from the backpacker trail that sneaked through this part of the world.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.32.59 PMWe noticed that we prefer visiting less popular spots and spending more time in one place, lingering and meeting locals instead of other travelers. By the time we reached India we were very comfortable traveling with no idea of what is coming next  and where the road would take us. We truly started living in the moment. This blog post captures our feelings 6 months into our journey.BRO: Where did you stay while on the road? Was there a lot of camping involved or were you mainly in hotels and hostels?MR: Our accommodations varied. We never stayed in hotels, instead we did tons of camping (Africa and South America), couch surfed, crashed at hostels, and guest houses. Whenever we could we stayed with friends we met on the road or supported local home stays which brought us closer to the culture of the place we were visiting. This way of travel was not only more rewarding but also cheaper.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.35.58 PMBRO: Of all your extensive traveling, was there one place that you and your family enjoyed the most?MR: There is no such place. We often hold a sweet spot for a place because of a certain memory or a friend we made or a food we tasted, but I can’t even begin to rate them all.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.32.43 PMBRO: Where did you find the best food on your journey?MR: The food was such a highlight of our trip and such an incredible way to explore a new culture and get immediate connection with the people preparing the meals, but it is impossible to rate our food experiences.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 4.26.40 PMI was surprised how easy it was to find good food anywhere in the world, but if I close my eyes a few meals stand out – the incredible feast prepared by our Sri Lanka friend in Colombo, our very first meal on the road prepared in a tiny Tokyo restaurant by an older lady, the colorful food cooked by Anisha, our hostess in Kerala India, our friend Mashka’s cooking in South Africa, the Banh mi sandwiches we got addicted to in Hoi Ann, Vietnam.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.21.12 PMOf course there was the fresh pad thai on the streets of Thailand and the Bulgarian food in a little restaurant in Istanbul run by a Macedonian man who became our friend and gave us extras of everything. The list is endless and we will need hours to recall all the fantastic meals we have had along the way.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.21.26 PMBefore flying home we spent two weeks in Dominican Republic with my brother’s family and in terms of food these two weeks had the greatest impact on our current lifestyle. Our sister in law is a great cook and she taught us how to bake bread, make simple and healthy meals and best of all bake delicious black bean cupcakes!BRO: How did you get around?MR: We traveled by buses, cars, rickshaws, scooters, bicycles, boats, pick up trucks – anything that moves. We took a few flights only, the rest of the time we traveled by land. We also walked a whole month in Nepal and took short hiking trips in pretty much every country we visited.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.34.43 PMBRO: What advice would you give other families that want to follow in your footsteps and take up the mobile, travel-based lifestyle?MR: I would advice them to embark on a journey like ours with no preconceived expectations and notions of how things are supposed to be. Enjoy every moment with all the good, bad, or ugly an adventure like this would inevitably bring you and keep an open mind.BRO: What is the most challenging or trying thing that happened along the way?MR: Nothing specific comes to mind. Mainly it was the daily challenge of having to constantly adapt to what was happening around us and to search for balance and home whenever we went. Yet overcoming those same daily challenges gave us an immense feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment. We learned to cherish challenges and difficulties as they provided not only entertainment and stories to recall, but also invaluable lessons of patience, compassion and resilience.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.34.37 PMBRO: You are back at home in Asheville, North Carolina now. Tell is about your life here and where you plan to go next.MR: Everything in our life is back to how it was but a little different. The kids go to new schools, we work for ourselves now and life is slowly getting busier and denser. We are determined though to keep fostering the strong family bond this trip gave us and make time for each other and we would love to be able to travel during the school breaks. We are going back to Dominican Republic for Christmas, Cuba in April and hopefully during the summer we would either hike the AT or visit Spain – the family is divided in two on that decision.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.33.46 PMBRO: Has it been difficult to readjust to a traditional lifestyle? How has the journey changed the way you approach your everyday life in Asheville?MR: It has been surprisingly easy to readjust back to living a traditional life style. We enjoy having our kitchen, our kitty and all of our friends back in addition to our beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Yes, we did go through a culture shock, but we consider ourselves lucky to call Asheville home. In terms of how we approach life differently – we can live with less and we try to leave as much free time so we can all pursue the things that make us happy.After the trip we don’t take for granted what we have and are full of gratitude about all the opportunities for growth we have experienced as a family.last_img read more

GOP Considers Gutting Maternity & Preventive Services to Secure House Votes

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York President Donald Trump’s promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and overhaul health care in America faces its biggest test yet, as GOP lawmakers weigh how repealing Obamacare will affect their constituents.Several news outlets reported Thursday afternoon that House Republican leaders decided to delay the vote in the face of opposition from many in their own party, possibly for a day. House Republicans are still on a mission to recruit undecided lawmakers who’ve held out for a variety of reasons. A group of about two dozen hard-line Republicans wants to further gut mandates imposed by the ACA, while more moderate lawmakers have expressed concern about how a change to Medicaid funding would impact their states.The fight may come down to a provision in the ACA requiring health care plans to cover a range of benefits, including pregnancy, newborn care, substance abuse, prescription drugs and wellness services.Conservative House members of the so-called Freedom Caucus argue that eliminating those requirements would bring down the cost of insurance premiums because insurers would no longer have to cover certain services. But people under the new plan would potentially have to pay for those benefits themselves if insurers offer leaner plans.If House leadership agrees to dismantle essential benefits in the bill, it could mean that insurers would no longer have to provide breastfeeding support and counseling to new mothers or pay for preventive tests and screenings for blood pressure, high cholesterol, lung cancer, depression and other conditions.Lawmakers were negotiating throughout the day ahead of a scheduled vote Thursday night on the bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act, though by mid-Thursday had reportedly postponed bringing it to the floor of the House. Republicans require 216 “yes” votes to move it out of the House and to the U.S. Senate, where some Republicans view the measure even more skeptically than their House peers. A vote on Thursday would come on the seven-year anniversary of Obamacare, which Republicans have been arguing is unsustainable and is driving up costs.The bill, which is the brainchild of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has the backing of the White House. President Trump has joined the fray on Capitol Hill in an attempt to appease some Republican lawmakers who remain on the fence. The president delivered an ultimatum to those so far opposed to the bill, warning that a “no” vote would come back to haunt lawmakers at the ballot box. But it’s unclear if Trump can use the bully pulpit to strike fear in the hearts of undecided House members, considering his historically low approval rating for a new president, and Obamacare’s increased popularity among Americans.A Quinnipiac poll released this week found that Trump’s base is shrinking in support and that his job approval rating stands at a dismal 37 percent.As for the GOP health care bill, Quinnipiac found that 56 percent of Americans disapprove of it, 26 percent remain undecided and only 17 percent support it. Additionally, a large majority of voters oppose the proposed elimination of federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which handles many women’s issues, such as breast cancer screening and reproductive health.“Replacing Obamacare will come with a price for elected representatives who vote to scrap it, say many Americans, who clearly feel their health is in peril under the Republican alternative,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.On the eve of the expected House vote, several dozen demonstrators rallied outside Rep. Peter King’s office in Massapequa Park to pressure the veteran Long Island Republican Congressman to vote “no.”Several people at the rally interviewed by the Press said they interpreted the act as an attack on the poor and other marginalized groups, and a gift to the rich and powerful through enormous tax breaks.Despite the bone-chilling cold Wednesday night, demonstrators waved signs and yelled “No Trumpcare!” and “Don’t take away the ACA!”“This health care bill is a bad deal for most people in the United States,” said Lisa Oldendorp, 70, of Massapequa. “The only people it is good for is the wealthy people who are getting an enormous tax break and the CEOs of the insurance companies, on the backs of the poor and middle class.”“It fails the first test of everyone getting health care,” she added, referring to Trump’s “insurance for everybody” claim he made after the election.Barbara Kaplowitz, an insurance broker, said she’s seen the benefits of the ACA firsthand. She said she knew of a couple who delayed opening their own business because at least one of them needed to get the health insurance through their employer to cover them both. Obamacare changed all that, she said.Standing next to her was Ruth Cohen of Lake Grave, which is not in King’s district, who lamented that the new bill is “about making the rich richer…It has nothing to do with what’s good for people.”Phil Esposito of Bayport said he fears the GOP health care plan is the beginning of an all-out assault on Medicare, the government program by which he receives health insurance.“I think they’re screwing the poor people and giving a tax break to the rich,” he said.King has not yet indicated which way he’d vote on the controversial measure. On Wednesday, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Selden) appeared to be leaning toward supporting the bill after an amendment was added by upstate Congressional Republicans that would eliminate all county funding of Medicaid in New York State, except for New York City.House Democrats are all expected to deliver a resounding “no” vote. When Obamacare passed in 2010, not a single Republican on Capitol Hill supported it.The impending vote has provoked a war of words between New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and some New York Representatives after he blasted two upstate Republicans for including the provision cutting county Medicaid funding, which is currently capped at 13 percent. Cuomo called the amendment potentially “devastating” to the state and Long Island’s health care industry. Rep. John Faso (R-Albany) told the governor to “man up” and cover the Medicaid costs so the upstate counties no longer would have to chip in. Cuomo’s staff delivered a barrage of emails predicting millions of dollars in losses in those Republican Congressional districts if the bill is passed, including a collective loss of $14.6 million for three hospitals in Rep. King’s district. The amendment would lead to a cut of $2.3 billion from Medicaid in upstate New York and on Long Island, Cuomo said.That prompted Zeldin to admonish Cuomo for fear mongering.“The amendment is a proposal to shift to the state the local share of Medicaid from the counties outside of New York City, including Suffolk County,” Zeldin said in a statement. “It does not propose a $2.3 billion cut. Governor Cuomo is choosing on his own to react to the amendment, by threatening a cut to scare people. Let’s call this for exactly what it is.”But if the bill passes, the governor is saying that there’s no way for Albany to make up for the shortfall unless it raises taxes statewide or imposes drastic cuts in state-provided health care. According to the governor’s office, under the Trumpcare proposal, New York would lose $6.9 billion over the next four years.Meanwhile, Zeldin’s New York Republican colleague, Rep. Dan Donovan (R-Staten Island), has come out against his party’s bill. “I do not believe that the legislation as currently written is in the best interest of the 740,000 people I represent in Congress and I believe we can do better,” he said.“The proposed amendment exempts New York City, putting an unfair and disproportionate burden on City residents to fund the entire state’s share of the Medicaid bill,” he added in a lengthy statement. “That’s wrong. I cannot support a deal that gives our district short shrift.”last_img read more

REVIEW: ‘Unpregnant’ normalizes abortion through the lens of a female director

first_imgIn the clinic Veronica makes eye contact with another young girl and the two share a soft smile. The moment is meaningful to both Veronica and the girl and provides Veronica with a sense of ease.  The film chronicles the story of a typical Missouri teen Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) from a religious family who embarks on an quest for an abortion with her last resort, her punk rock former best friend. From the moment Veronica’s pregnancy test reads positive, she’s set on her decision to get an abortion. The only problem? In Missouri, parental consent is required. Genre: Comedy, Drama “Unpregnant” is also also a timely cultural commentary in the current battle for reproductive rights. The film is sure to fill your heart with angst as you root for the main character to rekindle her friendship with Bailey and get her abortion.  In a moment of panic, Veronica drops the pregnancy test, and it slides out of the high school bathroom stall. Who should pick it up but Veronica’s former best friend Bailey (Barbie Ferreira), the punk rock bad girl à la Janice in “Mean Girls”? Bailey , ? Someone breaks into the grimey school bathroom, and Bailey quickly tucks the test into her pocket, later disposing of it in the dumpster where it is discovered by the recycling club. News spreads throughout the school, and in true high school fashion, the mystery of who could be pregnant must be solved.  RATING: (4.5 of 5 stars) “Unpregnant” is the coming-of-age movie all young girls need. Stellar cinematography combined with a beautifully crafted female friendship makes this picture a must watch at your next girls night.  Rating: PG-13 Finally, the audience is introduced to the baby’s father, Kevin (Alex MacNicoll) and learns he is a major human dumpster fire who lied about the condom breaking. Kevin proposes to Veronica, and she turns him down but takes the ring to pawn and fund her abortion.   The cinematography in the film is beyond stunning. The pastel coloring of the road trip is truly awe inspiring. Regardless of your opinion on middle America, the tones of the film find a way to give it a rustic charm.  “In my dream scenario, this movie doesn’t make sense to an audience in a couple years because it sounds absurd that someone would have to drive 1,000 miles to get an abortion in a country where it’s supposedly legal,” Goldberg said in the interview with Buzzfeed. “But that’s obviously not the reality right now.” The film is based on the young adult novel by the same title written by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan. Director and screenwriter Rachel Lee Goldberg told Buzzfeed in an interview that she read the book before it was published and really resonated with Veronica since she had an abortion in her twenties. She added in multiple interviews that the driving factor of the movie is Veronica’s never questioning her need for the abortion. center_img The repartee in the film is witty and current. Not one of the jokes fell flat, and all of the language was relevant but not overdone. The nuance of pop culture felt natural.  The film also pulls off a big scare by means of anti-abortion people kidnapping Bailey and Veronica after hearing their plans. In a hilarious moment, Bailey refers to the two kidnappers as “Mike Pence” and “Karen.” Veronica returns home to find that the closest abortion clinic that doesn’t require parental consent is in Albequerquee, N.M. She finds a map and begins to plan and budget for the trip.  “Unpregnant” will make its cultural timestamp on this generation of women. The film does wonders to normalize reproductive rights. Goldberg’s touch as a female director brings the film to life in ways a male director never could.  “We’re gay and pregnant,” the girls scream. As Bailey and Veronica embark on the trip, the bond of female friendship throughout the film is heartwarming and relatable. At the beginning, Bailey is portrayed as a grunge badass loner who drifted apart from the Ivy-League blonde Veronica. As the trip progresses, Bailey and Veronica learn to put aside their differences with a few setbacks. The emotions shown between the girls as they bond over topics like sex and sexuality are genuine for a young adult audience. It’s clear that Goldberg worked diligently to portray the abortion in a way that wouldn’t scare off audiences. Her decision to show it in a montage-esque way by having a voice over of the nurse describing the procedure to Veronica is simple and far from menacing.  During the movie, it is clear to see a woman’s touch on direction. One memorable moment shared between the two girls is at a fairground in Texas. Veronica discovers that Bailey has a crush on a girl. The two girls board a fair ride and use the freedom of rushing wind to scream into the void and expel their feelings.  Photo from IMDb Run time: 103 minlast_img read more

McClimon Soccer Complex kind to UW once again in win over Drake

first_imgHome field advantage is important in every sport. In soccer it is an incredibly important factor. Just ask head coach John Trask and his Wisconsin Men’s Soccer team that has dominated its opponents in Madison the last few years.To find the last time Wisconsin lost at home you have to go back nearly a year to Oct. 10, 2012 when the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee beat the Badgers 1-0.After starting off the year 3-0 at home, the Badgers notched their fourth home win of the season Tuesday against the Drake Bulldogs. The 3-2 victory not only leaves them undefeated at home, but provided them with crucial momentum as they reach the half-way point in their four game home stand.The Badgers started out strong taking a 2-0 lead, but after a late Drake goal brought the lead within one point the game tensed up. A penalty kick after a hand ball once again extended the Badgers lead to two at 3-1. However, the Bulldogs were not done. They notched one more bringing them within striking distance off of a set play with just five minutes to play. Despite some good chances, the Badgers rallied to hold them off and claim a win.“Were 4-0 [at home] this year,” Trask said. “You really want to make your home field a bastion, and I felt it was tonight.”Luckily for Wisconsin, at home they are no stranger to nail biters, and  in each of those close home games, the Badgers always seem to come out on top. On Sept. 8, the Badgers were able to rally with a last-second goal from redshirt senior midfielder Tomislav Zadro to take DePaul into overtime where they later won.The Badgers credit a lot of those events to playing on their home turf, in front of their home fans.“Home field advantage in every sport is worth something,” Trask said. “I know our guys love to play here in front of their friends and family, and the other students. Our field is absolutely gorgeous and I know our guys love to play here in this stadium.”Wisconsin has developed a reputation for being a hard-driven defensive team that can occasionally capitalize on offensive opportunities. This season at home, however, Trask’s men have been electric offensively. The Badgers are averaging 2.5 goals a game at home. That includes three 3-goal games, a mark that took previous Wisconsin teams five years to achieve.Wisconsin’s only losses this year were both on the road, at the end of a five game road series that had the Badgers traveling between Wisconsin, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania.“One of our goals this season was to stay undefeated at home,” junior forward Jacob Brindle said. “That is what we are working for right now. It is always good to defend your turf. That is what we set out to do whenever we play at home.”However, staying undefeated at home is going to be a tall order for the Badgers. With Big Ten games against Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State still on the schedule at home, it is going to require some impressive performances and a bit of luck to leave the McClimon Complex unscathed.“Coach likes to emphasis this is our place,” senior forward Nick Janus said. “Our opponents are going to have to come here and take it from us. We want to make this our fort and hold it down. So far this season we have been able to do that. We have a pretty big test later this week against Indiana but I feel that we are prepared.”The last time Indiana came to Madison two years ago the Badgers dealt the top ranked Hoosiers their first loss of the season in a 2-0 decision. When Indiana comes into town for its Friday matchup with the Badgers, it will not only be looking for revenge but also its first win in Madison since 2009. However, the Badgers will be relying on their skill home field advantage as they try to extend their home winning streak to five and take their first Big Ten win of the season.last_img read more

Tipp continue to play down Kilkenny clash

first_imgHowever speaking on last night’s Extra Time programme here on Tipp FM he said they’ll still be pushing for another 2 points in the League campaign in Semple Stadium. Tipp star Padraig Maher has echoed the sentiments of manager Eamon O’Shea, describing next weekend’s clash with Kilkenny as just another League game.Tipp go into the game at Semple Stadium joint top of Division 1A while the Cats have just two points.The Thurles Sarsfields man says they’ll be looking on Sunday’s match as just another step in their preparations for bigger things later in the year.last_img read more