How does an ant eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Big problems are composed of smaller, albeit interconnected, problems. Solving the smaller problems will have an implication on the larger problems.

30 September 2010

“I believe in sleeping in. I believe in giving 100% when you only have 80. I believe in kisses on the forehead. I believe in long kisses, smiling till your cheeks hurt, and laughing until you have tears in your eyes. I believe in having someone tell you that you’re beautiful. I believe in having someone play with your hair. I believe in sitting on swings and running in the rain. I believe in miracles and random acts of kindness. I believe in saying hello to anyone and everyone. I believe in second chances. And most of all, I believe in love.”

23 September 2010

When you look at the world in a narrow way, how narrow it seems! When you look at it in a mean way, how mean it is! When you look at it selfishly, how selfish it is! But when you look at it in a broad, generous, friendly spirit, what wonderful people you find in it.
-Horace Rutledg

18 September 2010

Can't wait for December 3 girl's night with Scarlett to see this! Looks SO good and I love Natalie Portman!

16 September 2010

“When love is lost, do not bow your head in sadness; instead, keep your head up high and gaze at the stars because that is where your broken heart has been sent to heal, and remember, we gather strength from sadness and from pain. Each time we die, we learn to live again.”

09 September 2010

I hope you have someone who loves you for you. Everybody should have at least one friend who loves you and your quirkiness. Someone who will view your nerdy side, dysfunctional family, odd sense of humor, and crazy clothes as, 'intelligence, loving family, great sense of humor, and fantastic clothing style.' You deserve to be loved. There is someone out there waiting so patiently right now for someone like you.
I am happy I can always act like a total dork with and around my friends (as is demonstrated below).

05 September 2010

Travel Story, Week 1

I have so many fantastic travel stories that remain undocumented. I have been meaning to start a journal of some sort to write down all the random stories that I love, but have yet to do it! My blog is my best journal, so I am going to start documenting them here...hopefully, depending on time, I will write one a week. We'll see if that actually happens though.

So here we go. After hunting through a few thousand photos, I came across this photo and felt the the picture alone wins the competition. You look at this and KNOW there has GOT to be a story behind that photo. Don't worry. There absolutely is! This photo is actually what happens when you miss your first flight - yes, the one leaving your home city - to Ghana, where you don't have many options to buy what you might need if your luggage gets lost in the process of getting there.

I have always had a tendency to pack last minute. Yes, I am a procrastinator, to say the least. I will be up all night stressing about what to bring and whether or not I am over-packing. Over the years, I have become much better at this. However, I generally tend to over-pack. Now let me stop right there and explain something. Never do I actually over-pack, but for an international trip that you aren't allowed to bring much, I tend to throw in those few extra unneeded items that put my bag overweight. So there I sat late into the night, before departing for Africa and all I could think is, "who the hell goes to Africa?! What in the world am I doing??" I must have panicked and thrown my whole room into my one bag I was allowed to take. I got to the airport, slightly after I had planned. I had forgotten my camera (duh! who forgets these sort of things), so we had to turn around and go back for this necessary item. Anyhow, I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. However, the down-spiral had already started, after forgetting the camera. I went to check in with my travel buddy and former roommate and coworker, Steph, and the guy was rather inexperienced, to say the least. He looked at our flight itinerary and immediately felt our pain.

Let me discuss our flight itinerary really quick; it was MORE than painful. We had tried to save ourselves a few dollars and ended up with not only a painful itinerary, but in the end, we spent the exact amount everyone else did. We had set the tickets up so we could spend a week in Spain on our way home from Ghana. However, we had also gotten a rockin' deal on a flight from Spain to Ghana, so we decided to split the other leg of the ticket again and purchase from SLC to NYC and then NYC to Barcelona. Of course. Why would we not? This actually would have saved us quite a bit of money had it not been so close to the Fourth of July! Just in case you didn't know, flying to NYC within a couple days of the Fourth of July is very, very pricey! We ended up with a flight itinerary that looked a bit like this:  SLC --> Minnesota --> NYC --> London --> Barcelona --> Milan --> Nigeria --> Accra (final destination). Brutal, eh? Well, the worst part about having a schedule like this, is that if you miss your first flight, leaving SLC, it could potentially really mess things up for every. single. one. of your other flights. Somehow we got lucky enough though when missing our first flight, to be put on a direct flight to NYC, which allowed us just enough time to catch up with all other flights.

So after the man checking us in expressed his sincere pain for us, he decided he'd see what he could do to at least get our luggage checked all the way through to Accra; how sweet, right?! Well that normally would have been awfully sweet, but not in the situation he was in - he was pretty new, he also admitted he didn't know he was completely sure he knew exactly how to do it because of the variety of airlines and the way we had purchased our tickets. His manager wasn't close either. So as I rearranged the weight in my bag (yes, I of course was 5-7 lbs over my weight limit), he got Steph all checked in. He then proceeded to my bag and my carton of supplies I was taking with me for Dr Alder, for our projects we were working on in Ghana. The process, all in all, took him quite some time, which in turn, made us miss our flight! Awesome. So now we have bags checked going on who knows what flight and we aren't on any flight and are thinking we likely have just missed every one of our flights following. They immediately re-booked us on another Delta flight, however because of this, we were randomly selected to do additional security screening. This meant we had to leave the secure area back into the lines we had already gone through once. We almost missed our second flight leaving SLC. Our down-spiral of "bad luck" continued. Every last terminal we went to during our 48 hours of travel happened to be the VERY furthest terminal from where we currently were. This, I'm sure, is when my 15 lbs weight loss (over a 4 month period of time - thanks to Ghana, South America, and a tonsillectomy) began. I will never forget all the running I did, in a variety of airports, wearing fleece pants and a sweatshirt (yes, I freeze on airplanes, so I have to prepare).

Long story, we hit all of our flights. Barely. After missing the flight in SLC, we had a 2 hour delay in NY, because our cabin was 100+ degrees. We then had a 20 hour layover in London, where we napped in the park and spent some time with my little sister, Karen, who just happened to be in London with her school group. How convenient for us! We ran into trouble again when we hit Barcelona, where our flight was delayed by 2 hours. By the time we got to Milan, we decided to shoot towards our terminal, but just KNEW our flight wouldn't be there, as it was scheduled to leave as we landed, literally. To our surprise, it was actually there and we were grateful we had sprinted. Flights leave only once a day to Ghana and we were happy to know Dr Alder and the other students wouldn't be waiting on us for nothing. We found out that a whole slew of Ghanaian had been on a delayed flight coming from Germany, where the World Cup was going on, at the time. Since that flight had been delayed, they had no choice but to wait; more than half their passengers were coming from Germany, on the same flight.
Ironically, no, not too much to carry!
We had what was supposed to be a quick layover in Nigeria to pick up a few passengers, but it ended up turning from 15 minutes to about 2 hours. We finally arrived in Accra late at night, on what I believe was the end of 48-60 hours of travel. The most unfortunate part of our travels came full circle upon landing in Accra. We got off the plane just to realize that NO ONE on the flight got luggage. Yes, you heard right. No luggage. Period. That not only started a riot, but also made Steph and I slightly upset we had missed our first flight to allow the new guy the time to figure out how to check our luggage all the way through.

As we left the airport, I thought about how lucky I was that I had packed 2 tshirts, a pair of cargo pants, and 2 extra pair of underwear in my backpack. Whooo! Lucky me! Well, that sort of luck only lasts about 2 days in the heat of a country sitting at the equator. Unfortunate when you still have no sign of luggage upon day 2 or 3. I was able to stretch it out to day 4, with what I had. After that, I couldn't stand myself, which means only the other handful of those that didn't have luggage upon arrival, could semi-stand me. We all stunk, I'm sure. We were all dirty and needed to do something about our situation. By this time we had left Accra for Kumasi. Dr Alder made multiple phone calls a day; our luggage was simply lost. We had heard by word of mouth that the Heathrow, in London (where all of us had flown through), had a massive glitch that had shifted luggage every which-way and had caused more than 2,000 bags to be "lost". They gave each of us $50, probably hoping to shut us up. To make an already long story slightly shorter, it took a lot of hassle, but bags slowly started filtering in. About 2 weeks into the trip, my bag finally arrived. It was one of the last to filter in.

Steph and I got creative in our packing and thought to partially pack together, in case one of our bags did get lost. She, unfortunately, still hadn't received her bag. So the two of us put my bag to good use until we left Ghana. Our last couple of days in Ghana, Steph and I spent in Accra. When we arrived from Kumasi, we decided to check out the airport, see if there was any word of her bag. We went to lost and found, where they perused the lost luggage and told us it was not there. The moment the man turned his back, Steph jumped the counter and whoa and behold...she found her bag! Who knows how long it had been sitting there, but we were happy to have clean clothes and yummy food while we were in Spain. However, it would have been much nicer to have had our bags from the very get-go! As for the bins both of us had checked for our public health projects in Ghana, they never surfaced.

So the picture you ask? What is the story behind the picture? When you travel to a country, such as Ghana, where your only option of buying clothes and underwear is out of a basket on the top of a woman's head, you think twice about how much you really need something. I was fine buying shirts like that. Underwear though? No thank you. I would rather be safe than sorry. My only other option was to borrow. Disgusting, I KNOW! Between the two options, I decided to go with my friend Emily, who I trusted not to have anything. She had brought a pair of underwear for every day we were there, which meant she brought a lot of old underwear so she could throw it away along the way. I think I was the recipient of some junior high-era underwear! They were high cut and sat very high on my waist. This was very unfortunate. I rolled them the best I could when I had to wear them; I was just grateful to have some clean underwear though! Megan was also generous, donating her capris to my cause. Please note that Megan is 6 feet tall, so her capris were pants on me. Too funny! Between the outfit and my big, frizzy hair (thank you humidity), I felt like a freak of nature! Now I think about it and see this picture and don't feel embarrassed at all...I just laugh, really hard, at the misfortune! Not to mention the misfortune that followed us - Steph's luggage was lost on the way back to the USA. It showed up on her doorstep about 2 weeks later.

As a friend put it best in one of our emails back and forth:  "Rock on Afro woman, with Grandma underwear!" I love it. It was quite suiting for the moment. I don't think I have felt much more unattractive than I did during my first two weeks or so in Ghana. It was worth every bit of it though!

03 September 2010

I just have to say that I pretty much love my life! One of my best friends, who recently got a flight attendant job, just added me as her travel buddy with her benefits at work. They kicked in last night, so now I can fly for free (stand-by). I am ecstatic that the benefits kicked in just in time for the long, Labor Day weekend! So this morning I called my friend and got it all worked out and am now sitting at the airport waiting to get on a flight to Washington, D.C.! I love it. It'll be fun to head out there and just hang out with friends and old coworkers.

02 September 2010

Are You a Part of the Other 5%?

I hope I am part of the Other 5%!

I came across this article and LOVED it, so I want to share it with all of you. This seems to be something that continues to repeat itself in my life as of late. After having a variety of conversations with different friends, I realized how easy it is for each of us to get emotionally wrapped up in the lives of our friends and/or family, because we care about their well being. However, how often do we get wrapped up in a friend or family member's (or even a stranger) situation(s) in life, but we weren't invited to be involved? Should we be there, even if we have not been invited is the question I keep asking myself. I say no. If it isn't directly affecting me, I should learn to cut my curiosity and work at cutting the emotions out of it. It's hard to see people you care about suffer or make decision you don't agree with. However, like this article discusses, it is important not to focus on the peripherals, but to set your focus ahead. One of the best things my therapist could have taught me in a recent session, was about the three businesses: your business, their business, and God's business. My business is anything and everything that DIRECTLY relates to me; their business is anything that relates to other people, which sometimes, and maybe oftentimes, may appear to overlap into your business, but it doesn't, unless it directly affects you; she classified everything else - everything that we have no control over in life - as God's business. Then she told me the main focus is ALWAYS your is the only thing we have control over and it only makes life that much harder when you start focusing on what everyone else is doing and/or saying. Don't be part of the 95% that is talked about in this article - those that are focused on what everyone else is doing. It's hard from time to time, but vital for our own happiness, in my opinion!
Are you a part of the other 5%?
by Matt Cheuvront on March 15, 2010
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
We’re living in a world today where 95% of the population is focused on what everyone else is doing and what everyone else thinks. 95% of the world looking side to side, following in the footsteps of those who have come before them. A vast majority of the world is saying “Why can’t I be doing that?” – instead of getting out there, and, you know, actually doing it.
Then there’s the other 5%. The Waldo's. The people of the world who don’t focus on the peripheral – but instead, set their sites toward what’s ahead – those choice few who boldly state "Warp Speed - Engage!" rather than wandering around in space. These are the movers and shakers – these are the people who are taking control of their own lives and making waves – standing out – real-life, bona-fide innovators.
Stop what you’re doing, right now, and ask yourself - “Do I belong to the 95% – or the other 5?”
To the 95% – your job is simple – figure out how to get out of the 95th percentile. Then go do it.
For the other 5% – if you’re not already sharing your story with the world – what are you waiting for? The only way you learned and the only way others can learn from you is by being willing to help – offering to share information instead of hoarding it all for yourself. If we all focused on pushing one another to be at our best, rather than honing in on how to bring everyone else down – we’d all be a hell of a lot better off.
We all need that 5% – We need those who exude enthusiasm, and devote themselves to worthy causes. Those who are willing to stumble and sacrifice to achieve greatness. Sometimes, you’ll fall in and out of your “place” in the grand scheme of things. Your roles can and will change from follower to leader (and that’s OK). Focus on being part of the cycle instead of becoming overly content with your situation.
Things to think about:
1) What’s one thing you are doing right now, today, that you are extremely proud of – Something that truly makes you stand out?
2) What’s one thing you want to be doing – you need to be doing – but for whatever reason, you’re not doing it? AND, once you’ve answered that – write out what it will take to get you to where you want to be.
A lot of us get caught up amongst that 95% - but every one of us has the full capacity to be part of the other 5%. What’s it ‘gonna be for you?