Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Some Pre-Thanksgiving Gratitude

Thanksgiving is in two days. (I never know if you’re technically supposed to count the day you’re in, but I don’t like doing that.) I don’t know if that came quickly or not. I guess it did when I think about the fact that this time last year, I was wrapping up last minute details for our wedding on the 7th of December.

Last year, Thanksgiving came and went because we were so busy with our wedding. The year before that, some friends and I did celebrate; but every year (in South Africa), it’s hard to make Thanksgiving Day feel like Thanksgiving, and this year has felt the hardest. It’s hot here (we’re in summer), there’s very little holiday decorations, leaves are not changing colors, and pumpkin is very far from abundant here. But mostly, I’ve been missing my family, friends, and various aspects of the States more than normal, I think, so it feels better to not think about those things sometimes.

But then last night, as I was cutting red, yellow, and orange, paper leaves for a Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow night with friends, I suddenly really missed Thanksgiving. I missed celebrating it in cool weather; I missed decorating the house; I missed being festive. And then this morning, as I realized that I missed being grateful. Yes, there is a lot that I miss right now and it is totally a fact that I won’t be with certain people on Thursday or have a cold, cozy day full of pumpkin galore, but I have so much to be grateful for! And gratitude is truly mind changing.

So, I wanted to share just a few things that, at the moment, I am particularly grateful for. Wherever you are this week or on Thursday, I hope you see lots that you have to be thankful for and that it transforms your day.


In no particular order…

- Technology. Lately, I am so aware that my life abroad...and specifically, my relationships...would be completely different (and difficult) without technology. Skype, Facetime, email, Facebook, Instagram, blogging, etc...it all comes from technology. I am so thankful for ability to get a hold of my family or friends (relatively) any time I want. AND for the ability to create holiday festivity through printable cut-outs found on Pinterest and to listen as much Christmas music as my heart can handle.

- My family. Sometimes the distance makes missing them feel like more than I can bare, but every text message, every Facetime session, every email makes that distance a little bit smaller.

- My husband. I'm so thankful that he makes me feel so loved. And that he just listens and hugs me when I cry and miss home. And that he happily and eagerly participates in my festive activities. And that he eats my baked goods. And that he has worked so hard and has now finished his law degree!! (He's been done for a week now but we're still revelling in the joy of the end.)

- Music. I'm thankful that I can pretty much listen to it anywhere at any time and that it lifts my soul. And I'm thankful that I have working ears to hear it with.

- I'm thankful for my in-laws who have completely pulled me into their family for (more than) the past year and who have planned a wonderful, Christmas holiday for all of us!

- I'm thankful that I get to celebrate Thanksgiving twice this year! With a dinner tomorrow night and Thursday night.

- And I'm very grateful that I since I now work an American institution, I get Thursday and Friday off! :)

Happy Early Thanksgiving, everyone! :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

True Tales of Gumption - the first installment!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I am so excited to introduce a new feature to the blog!

This quote encompasses so much of why I started this blog. I’m sure many of you have heard this quote from Marianne Williamson before. It is possibly my most favorite, inspirational quote (aside from anything in the bible). I think that often is our biggest fear: ourselves and the great things we can/could do. It takes courage and confidence to see your talents, skills, gifts…and to admit what you really enjoy in life…and pursue it. And not just pursue it but give it everything you’ve got. Although I’ve learned lots in this regard over the past few years, I’m still trying to figure these out myself. Sometimes I think the hard work required to get the job/life you want is half of what is so intimating. Hard work and fear of not being good enough – big life traps. But that is why I love the new feature: True Tales of Gumption.

True Tales of Gumption will be a feature that highlights someone who has showtrue gumption in their life. Our news is so filled with the negative and with stories of people who are everything that is the opposite of courageous, bold, or inspiring. So, each feature will introduce a real-life story of someone who has shown some of those qualities in their life.

Today's story comes from my side of the world. With all the negative attention Africa receives, I believe it so important to highlight the good and amazing things going on in the continent of Africa. This story is especially inspiring because it is one of the many examples of someone who doesn’t have much, butdoesn’t make excuses or play the victim. (How easily I can do that, when I do have so much!): It is the story of Kelvin Doe from Sierra Leone. I hope you are moved and inspired by his passion, talent, compassion, and vision!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wild South Africa

I live in South Africa; at the bottom of the continent of Africa, 7,357 kilometres from Antarctica (or 4,571 miles).

It is an incredible country. There is so much ethereal beauty and an immensely deep history. South Africa has mountains, beaches, vineyards, bush...great white sharksblack mamba snakes, and rhinos. There are so many different foods and pieces of art that come out of here, and natural resources and human talent. South Africa has so much to offer and will always provide you with an incredibly rich experience.

I am not from here. I'm American. But after living in South Africa for just about three years now, I have grown to deeply love this country, the people and the nature. I don't know if you've seen this in the news lately, but it's just heart-wrenching. I'm not sure when I became such an animal lover...it was probably somewhere between getting my first dog and seeing wild ellies (elephants :) for the first time...but I have.

So, I just wanted to share some pictures from my most recent trip to Kruger National Park.(And here are just a few more photos from another trip to the park.) I hope they inspire you and that you enjoy and appreciate the beauty and nature that this country offers, as much as I do.



Monday, November 18, 2013

So much greatness is ahead!

Two months.

Two months is not a long time, really. But two months is a fairly long time not to blog and actually, a lot can happen (and has happened) in two months.

Thanks so much to everyone who has asked “where” I’ve been or told me they missed reading posts here. It encourages me and inspires me so much more than you know.

Since the last time I wrote, probably the two biggest and most immediate happenings over on our little side of the world are:
- I got a new job!! (This has been a TREMENDOUS blessing) and
- Hubby is almost (like TOMORROW-almost) done with final exams and done with university!

I cannot begin to explain how excited I am that G is almost finished! It has been a long few weeks (in terms of finals) for both of us…obviously, he’s doing all the hard work (and an absolutely brilliant job, I must add) but I’ve kind of felt like I’m missing my husband. He’s not totally himself when he’s this busy and ever so slightly stressed. And neither am I. So, it will be so wonderful to have both of us “back to normal”. :)

Also, on the first of October, I started a new job. This has been a gift from God. For various reasons, I very much needed to get out of my other job. Naturally, though, I couldn’t resign until I had another job lined up. After searching and praying, and God just being incredibly kind to me, I have started something that I am enjoying so much! It is pretty out of my norm and skill set, but it might just end up being my future career (if blogging doesn’t work out). ;)

I’ve been learning a lot over the past two months. A lot of life lessons, a lot of marriage lessons, and a lot about myself. It’s been challenging but amazing. I hope to share some of these lessons and discoveries in the days to come. But one of the most exciting realizations I’ve had is about how much I love blogging. Not just love, but it’s one of the few things I can see myself doing everyday, for almost ever, and it’s one of the things in life that “gets me going”. Not going in an irritated or angry way, but going as in pushing me to keep growing, trying, and push passed the tiredness that can build up in life. I think everyone needs that. So, I started taking an e-course on blogging that is awesome! It’s been helping me define the purpose and future of my blog so much more and I seriously can’t wait to unveil the betterments over the course of the near future!

Thank you so much for sticking with me! Whoever you are – whether you read every post I write or just one every now and then; whether you comment or just observe silently – I am so grateful for you. You are making my dream job a developing reality. I hope you keep coming back, for many years to come. So much greatness is ahead!