Building a new life

Home and Heart

On Home. On Heart.

The funniest thing happened to me today.  I realized I’m really building a life in Santa Fe.

I’ve been playing tennis once a week as part of a clinic at the Shellaberger Center in Santa Fe, just to keep a hand in, and one of the girls invited me to play in a foursome this Sunday.  How fun!

Then, I was supposed to spend the entire month of September in D.C., and out of nowhere, the Airbnb reservation was cancelled.  My first instinct was to rebook another place with the additional money they gave me for the inconvenience, but then I wondered if it was a sign ….

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Value your time

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I am so disappointed in myself.  I waited an hour this afternoon for a manicure before finally walking out.  The place is called Nail Time on Airport Road in Santa Fe.  It was just that busy for some reason with people getting full-on treatments.  The client turnover was pathetic.  I’m not sure why more people don’t give up and walk out.  No self-respecting NYer would ever  wait that long for a manicure.  But this isn’t NYC, so I was willing to sit around for a bit, as if I had nothing better to do with my time on a Friday afternoon.  Is that really true for everyone else still sitting there?  They just have nothing better to do with their time or are just that desperate for good nails for the weekend?

As for me, I put up with it for as long as I did because I’m going to the opening night party for the New Mexico Folk Art Festival and my nails are super ratty.  I wanted the manicure to get into the spirit of the event.  Instead, I’m super cranky.  And I have bad nails. Continue reading

Make amends with good friends

Friends and Heart

On Friends.  On Heart.

Time goes by so fast.  My first week in Santa Fe is over and it went by in a whirlwind.

But something was off.  I felt the absence of one my good friends out here.  Last week, all the power went out in my house and I got really scared.  When I called her repeatedly, she didn’t respond.  I finally just called the police and everything turned out fine, but the thing is, I felt abandoned.  I count on this one friend a lot, I think more than I even realized.  Not being able to reach her in what felt like an emergency at the time, made me feel very alone out here.

It threw me off somewhat all week, despite having good workouts in the mornings, interesting meetings and calls with new people, and plans coming together for the rest of my time out here and for when I will be in Ghana in August.  It made me realize how important my good friends are in bringing stability and happiness to my life.

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On my way to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Home and HeartOn Heart. On Home.

Wow, Congo really did me in this time!  I literally walked out of the country with no less than 50 mosquito bites.  I’m so thankful to be taking preventative malaria medication… Plus, we lost power one evening which was terrible, especially walking up five flights of stairs in the pitch dark.

Now I’m back in the U.S. for the next month or so.

I’m actually on my way to Santa Fe right now which is something I’ve done hundreds of times before, but I’m feeling on edge and I’m not sure why.  Somehow, this time feels different, more significant. Continue reading

Remember, you’re in Africa

On Work. On Home. On Heart.

I always forget how much Africa challenges me on day one.  Last night was no different.  Arrival in Kinshasa was great.  After a painless immigration process, I was met by Gustave, Dr. Manya’s driver.   Before you think anything, Dr. Manya is a surgeon and he has no idea how to drive.  Plus, if you saw the streets of Kinshasa, especially on a Saturday night, you would get why you need a driver!

We’re staying in Gombe which is actually a nice part of the city. But I’m working with a non-profit so we tend to stay on this one crumbly street that has three hotels, two decent places to eat (one Indian and one Italian), and a variety of unlit street bars with the ubiquitous plastic tables and chairs.  Last night, the noise was horrendous.  Kinshasa on a Saturday night, combined with the World Cup?  Not peaceful.  And though I’m so thankful to have a functioning A/C, periodic erupts into noisy fits, truly scaring me awake. Continue reading

Why am I Procrastinating?

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On Work. On Heart.

It’s still a bit of a challenge to get focussed on work projects.  I know some of my reluctance to get entrenched in the details (also known as “procrastination”) comes from questioning many of the projects I’m working on.

Just one example – I want to build a hospital in Ghana.  Of course, there are many partners and steps involved in this process, but a large part of pulling this together is on me.  Meaning, I will spend my own money to stay in Ghana for one month later this summer and pursue this project.  I have to really believe this is possible to justify spending thousands of dollars.

Most of the time, I do.  But then I read about the Ghanaian government and its economic troubles and mismanagement, and I think, what am I doing?  Why am I investing in this country that can’t even get basic policy stuff straight?

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Dealing with post-vacation blues

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On Home. On Work. On Health. On Friends.

Re-acclimating to life in the U.S. post-Belize and London has been tough and I’m feeling lethargic and unmotivated.  Let me just say those are two very sticky and greasy feelings to carry around.

I had such a great month of May with two of my closest friends in two totally different settings, but now here I am back in NJ.  I’m trying to get settled for a few weeks on the east coast, but I’m struggling to find my footing.

I have three weeks before I leave for the Congo.  After that, the rest of my summer will be spent in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Accra, Ghana.  Continue reading

England’s History is part of the world’s history is part of me

HeartOn Heart.

England’s history has been weighing on me from three totally different angles.

The first:  The Churchill War Rooms.  

For me, visiting this site led to a long reflection on World War II.  It also got me thinking about perspective and point of view when it comes to conflict.   Years ago, when I was in Vietnam, everything I saw in the museums kept referencing the  “American War”.  It took me awhile to realize the displays were talking about the Vietnam War.  But from Vietnam’s point of view, it was known as the “American War”.

After almost all of Europe had fallen to Nazi Germany, Britain was a last stronghold and desperately needed the U.S. and the Soviet Union to join in combat.  Both eventually did.

I’ve been to Pearl Harbor – the bombing of which launched the U.S. fully into WWII.  I’ve been to Omaha Beach in Normandy, where D-Day began Germany’s subsequent defeat.  And I’ve been to Los Alamos where the atomic bomb was developed, and eventually dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing Japan to surrender and bringing WWII to a close (for all intents and purposes).

After visiting the Churchill War Rooms, all that history came home with me, and I re-watched the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan to “see” D-Day – to place that moment in flesh and blood. Continue reading

Living it up in London!

GE120212On Heart.  On Home  On Health.  On Friends.

The sky brightens early in London – around 4:45 a.m. and it doesn’t get dark until well around 9 p.m.  That makes for a very long day with the potential for getting a lot done.

I’d been in London once many years ago, but I’ve never really seen the city or many of its sites.  So this trip is thrilling for me.

I’ve already been here five days and thankfully have two weeks left!  A couple of those days were spent on 8 mile walks around town.  One day, we walked from Notting Hill where we’re staying through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, passed by Buckingham Palace where one of the guards wandered off… to Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, over the Thames River to walk along the riverfront and under the London Eye, back over the bridge, through Knightsbridge, Kensington and back to Notting Hill.  Exhausting but exhilarating!

That night we made it to a late night mysterious party behind an “unmarked door on an unmarked street”.  We also had to dress up like woodland creatures – for us, cute dresses and flowery headbands sufficed and we had a great time.

Some pictures below!

The guard that escaped Buckingham Palace...

The guard that escaped Buckingham Palace…

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San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Friends and HealthOn Friends. On Health.

No real expectations for Belize, but it still wasn’t what I thought it would be.  I guess I didn’t really think about the fact that we would be staying on an island the whole time, even though I knew our condo was on Ambergris Caye, the tropical island Madonna sang about in La Isla Bonita.

If you’ve never been to a Central American country, then Belize may be a great spot to anchor.  But I’ve already seen Mayan ruins and trekked around the jungle plenty while in Guatemala and Costa Rica. So no need for any of that … We did snorkel in the reef and that was cool, though not as colorful as I expected having snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  Even the islands off Colombia had more colorful coral and fish.  Hmm…  We did see a cute turtle though!




We tried to bike around the island, but that was a disaster.  The traffic is actually terrible in Ambergris/San Pedro – too many cars, golf carts and other bikers and walkers all vying for the right of way on very narrow streets.  Even the beach was overrun with motorized vehicles!  And biking on the beach – what was my Lonely Planet guide book thinking?  It is not pleasant in the least as it’s more of a mountain biking obstacle course than a scenic cruise ride.  Yikes. Continue reading