Tanzania Two Years Later

Today I attended The Social Good Summit ‪#‎2030NOW‬ in NYC. The focus was on discussing ways we can impact global change on many issues like climate change, LGBT and women’s rights, poverty, and more with famous speakers. It was moving and inspiring and I hope to return next year to see the impact and progress we’ve made.

Today also marks my second anniversary of arriving in Moshi, Tanzania. The experience and people I met along my journey changed my perspective on the world and life, my view on other cultures, and inspired me to be a more grateful and positive person. It showed me that the true meaning of wealth comes from happiness and gratitude, not money or status. I saw first-hand what it is like to live in an impoverished country and live without clean water or proper resources.

I would do it all again in a second. I miss everyone I met and think about them all the time. It’s hard to imagine that my kids are two years older now. I still picture them exactly how they were when I left. I often wonder how and what they’re doing. 

The summit reminded me that there is a lot that needs to be done and I want to continue to be a voice for those who cannot speak. I know that volunteering and helping to provide an education for my kids was vital and made a difference in their lives.

Volunteering and working to impact global change not only makes a difference in their lives, but it changes the volunteer’s life, too. I know that these kids and teachers significantly impacted and changed my life in ways words really can not describe and I truly hope we continue to make a positive difference in this world.

Volunteering in Moshi, Tanzania
Volunteering in Moshi, Tanzania

Gratitude: Travel

Today, traffic jams and flight delays frustrate us to no end. We never seem to get anywhere fast enough. But when you stop and put it into perspective, we really take for granted how good we have it today compared to our great-great grandparents.  I found this map of Rates of Travel in 1800 and it just blew me away. That’s about 6 weeks from DC to Chicago. Can you imagine what life would be like without planes that allow us to go anywhere in the world? Think about what a plane is,  (big heavy tubes that fly in the air. It’s incredible how it has revolutionized how we travel the world today. Modern travel truly amazes me.  I am grateful for travel; it rejuvenates my soul and refocuses me. It makes me appreciate life.

Think about this chart next time your flight is delayed even an hour.

 

 

Travel in 1800 via Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)

19 points: Be Thankful

While I try to practice Daily Gratitude; Thanksgiving reminds us to take a moment to pause, eliminate the clutter, reflect on the past year and share what we are thankful for.

gratitude

This year I have quite a bit to be thankful for. 

  1. I’m thankful that Thanksgiving, Channukah AND my 10 year high school reunion all fall on the same weekend, saving me from three separate costly trips home.
  2. I’m thankful I get to spend over a week with my family, since I don’t live close anymore.
  3. I’m thankful I had the courage to move across country to DC.
  4. I’m thankful for new friends I’ve made in DC, particularly Cara.
  5. I’m thankful that I am only two hours away from Terra and Stacey and can just hop on a train at any moment to visit.
  6. I’m thankful for all the experiences I’ve had in the past (two specifically) years that have helped me grow and shape me into the person I’ve become.
  7. I’m thankful for my job. I love that when I get a candidate a job, I am positively impacting their life.
  8. I’m thankful for food, clothing, shelter and clean water. Because really, with these necessities taken care of, everything else is a privilege.
  9. I’m thankful for airplanes. I am still amazed that we can fly through the air in a heavy metal tube to travel to a new location within a matter of hours, rather than days.
  10. I’m thankful that I don’t already have everything I desire. This allows me to have things to work towards, look forward to and strive for, and appreciate it when I receive it.
  11. I’m thankful for my body for allowing me to do everything that I take for granted.
  12. I’m thankful that I don’t know everything. This allows me the opportunity to continue to grow and learn new things.
  13. I’m thankful that no one in my family has any serious health issues.
  14. I’m thankful for my family; although quirky and sometimes I admittedly lose patience quickly, I am blessed to have such a loving and supportive family.
  15. I’m thankful for the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned.
  16. I’m thankful for the difficult times, they have helped me grow.
  17. I’m thankful I don’t have school loans or debt.
  18. I’m thankful that while I like Channukah being so far from my birthday, I am glad that Thanksgivvukah won’t happen again for a long time, another 76,000 years. It just didn’t seem right to be celebrating both together. Hope all you MOT’s enjoyed the combo holiday.
  19. I am thankful for YOU. Thank you for continuing to read, support me and for being apart of my journey. Your presence and loyalty means more to me than words can describe.
thanksgivukah
thanksgivukah menorah and turkey

 

There is so much to be thankful for, my list could go on for pages. So tell me, what are you thankful for this year? 

One Year Ago Today…

One year ago today…

I arrived in Tanzania, Africa for what was the greatest adventure of my life – a month of volunteering & teaching in the community, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, going on Safaris, and visiting Zanzibar. All of it completely changed my life. I’m in disbelief that it has been a year already. I miss Moshi and my experience EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I don’t think a day goes by that I haven’t thought about it in some capacity.

I’m so grateful for that experience.

I can’t believe all that has happened, come and gone in the past year and all that I’ve learned and discovered both about myself and others along the way. Nzuri sana.  It’s funny, I always catch myself first, but my instinct is still to say “Asante Sana” instead of “Thank you.”

In that month, I learned so much about myself, what it means to be a community, how privileged americans are and how much we take for granted. I learned so much about gratitude and appreciating what we have; that being wealthy has everything to do with how grateful and happy you are and nothing to do with how much money you have.  I learned to follow my heart; to express love and gratitude and to live passionately. I learned there is so much more to life than just the items we own or the cars we drive or the life we live. I realized how important it is to experience other cultures and to leave your first world expectations at home when you travel to a third world country.

Time and how we perceive it is an odd thing. I reflect and think about all that has happened in the past year since I first arrived in my host city and I am silenced.

When put in perspective that I’ve already lived in DC for 7.5 months, one year ago feels simultaneously both light years away and just few months ago.  It’s a teeter-totter of emotions and memories. It seems like it never happened; it seems like 6 months; it seems like decades ago and it seems like a year.

So much has happened since I landed in Tanzania. I look back on the impact the children had on me, and vice versa; the fact that I no longer have to dream about someday fulfilling a lifelong dream of volunteering and going on African Safari’s is exhilarating and saddening.  It’s crazy that I actually held residence in Africa. Not at a hotel, but a place I called home for a month. It’s hard to fathom that I climbed the largest freestanding mountain in the world and lived to tell the tale. I think about that accomplishment and it still blows my mind that I DID THAT.  At this point it feels like it is a figment of my imagination, just a dream I conjured up in my head, and I have to look at photos for proof I didn’t make it up. I am still in awe and incredibly proud of myself that I actually did it let alone successfully made it to the summit no less. I accomplished 7 things on my life list.

In the past year since returning, I flew 22 hours alone, my sister got married, I was unemployed for a while, I moved across country on a gut feeling and then I got a new job soon thereafter; one that I love because I know I get to impact lives everyday. I made a new home in that new city and made new friends. I’ve accomplished  2 more things on my life list.  I ran my first 5K. I played league sports and started my own Ladies Only fantasy NFL leagues with friends. I have spent an ENTIRE year eating only meat that was GMO/anti-biotic free.

Man, a lot has happened – and that’s just the start of it all.

From the moment I boarded the plane wondering what this adventure was going to be like – until now – the adventures haven’t stopped. When I woke up a year ago today, I never would have predicted just where my life would be today – all because of that one decision to go to Africa.

I miss Moshi and my students every day. This adventure and experience has become a part of who I am and I am proud of the person I have become. I am strong and brave; I am bold and adventurous. I have learned to be true to myself, to follow my gut and to surround myself with people who make me a better person. I am more positive and grateful. I know that I can accomplish big things; I know I can push myself; I can climb mountains and continually challenge myself. I’ve learned to honor who I am and to do what makes me happy.  I’ve grown more into the person I want to be. Asante Sana.

You can’t predict what the future holds but you do have to have faith that you are going in the right direction. Time is a funny thing. It never stops. And as we get older, it only goes faster. It blurs together and weeks become months and months become years. I still can’t believe an entire year has gone by.

What started as the greatest adventure of my life has evolved into my life being a giant adventure now. I am grateful for my experience and thankful I had the courage to follow my dreams and make it happen. I look forward experiencing (what is now) the upcoming year and reflecting on all that I will have done. Maybe a year from now I’ll be in a different city? Engaged? Single? Maybe I’ll be an Aunt? At a new job? Whatever will be this time next year, I look forward to all the adventures that lie ahead.

Hakuna Matata.

faces

summit

Thanks to All The Amazing Women Out There

Thank you to all you amazing, courageous, beautiful, strong, and motivational women out there for being YOU. Not only do you encourage me daily, you inspire people all around.  Keep it up!

And a personal shout out to all the amazing women in my life. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better person, to honor and stay true to myself, and for helping me to be the strong, independent woman I am. I am so grateful and fortunate to have you in my life. Thank you.

Be sure to support and give a shout out to all the important women in your life, today.

Happy International Women’s Day. Yesterday was a tremendous victory for women everywhere when President Obama passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This historic change will help us take on the challenges of tomorrow and will provide protections for LGBT victims of violence, better prevention and education programs for sexual assault on university campuses, and expanded services for victims of sexual assault. We’re making wonderful advancements and I’m proud of our progress!