Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Travel: Along the Road of Life

This month I traveled to four states, journeyed an estimated 8,500 miles by plane and train and driven two rental cars (one of them a hybrid).

When I was in college I dreamed of the day I would travel for my job. The day I would be a jet-setter and so important that I would need to be in multiple places (outside of my office) in a short period of time to attend meetings, finish important business or cover a breaking news story. I idolized the liberated career woman, the empowered female executive and the brave reporter on television, in movies and in real life. I never had one, but given my aspirations, I would have been the type of child with a Barbie doll in a business suit, carrying a briefcase.

Well, after living the reality, I want a vacation Barbie. And I want a vacation.

All of this travel (and more to the point, the point of the travel) has made me wonder: what it is that drives my drive? Why would I want a Barbie in a business suit? The word success comes to mind. But when I look inside, I think the saying – “the journey is more important than the destination” – is what my drive is all about. What drives my drive is excitement, seeing new places, meeting new people. What drives my drive is doing things that I love: writing and editing for social change.

While these things may “drive my drive,” I still wonder how far I’ve come. My frequent-flyer miles statement will quantify the journey in numbers. By how do I quantify the journey of my life? What have I learned about my drive?

In Brandi Carlisle’s song, The Story, the singer says:

“All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am.
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am.”

Well, that might not be a pretty picture – lines across my face. But there’s definitely some truth to that. Here’s a little more of what Brandi Carlisle has to say:

“But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true – I was made for you.”

So, the lines are fine, as long as you aren’t the only one seeing them.

The lines of this song point to two things I’ve learned in my travels: There’s no escaping reality, i.e., lines across my face; and Tell your story.

I’m a writer, so telling the story isn’t much of a problem. Finding time to tell my story can be a problem.

There’s no escaping reality. I find excitement in what I don’t know or haven’t experienced in my current reality, so you could say that I like to escape reality. But there’s no escaping reality. Whether reality is lines across my face or reality-checks at 34,000 feet in the air when I’m on my way to a meeting.

The reality check is this: Where am I? I’m a late 20-something. I’m creative. I’m single. I’m talented. I’m healthy. I’m successful. But where am I? Where is the real me? Where’s the driver of my drive? What defines me and confines me? How do I find answers and find release?

The answer: keep traveling. Vacation Barbie and I are ready to go.

Friday, January 26, 2007

This I believe

I've had an essay posted at "This I Believe."


Friday, December 08, 2006

Twinkling Lights

I have lots of lights in my Christmas decor this year -- white lights on the tree, colored lights in the living room and blinking colored lights in the kitchen. (Yes, I decorate my kitchen.)

I love Christmas lights. When I was a child I would sit at the foot of our live Christmas tree and watch the "bubble lights" start to boil. I was also accustomed to LARGE Christmas bulbs and not today's mini-lights. The large bulbs would get pretty hot. My mother was always worried that the tree would catch fire from the heat. The tree was covered with the afore mentioned colored bulbs, bubble lights and other lights that were in the share of snowmen, houses and Santa Claus. We also had small metal reflectors that would sit under the bulbs. The reflectors shimmer and enhance the light of the colored bulbs.

Our Christmas bulbs were always stored upstairs in the attic. They rested in old faded boxes that at one time contained fancy chocolates, linens or (surprise) Christmas lights. Annually, we would search through the boxes, untangle the cords and test the lights for the tree.

My dad liked to turn off all the other lights in the living room where our Christmas tree was displayed and enjoy the room being lit by a couple hundred twinkling lights.

Light is a symbol of hope. Lighthouses guide ships to shore. Candles burn in memory or in honor of someone. The lights on a Christmas tree are equally hopeful. They are welcome bright spots in the midst of a cold and sometimes dark winter season. Light is hope in the dark spots of life -- loneliness, injustice, sadness, loss. Light can show us a way out of the darkness or be a source of illumination in the middle of darkness, like the lit Christmas tree in the middle of a dark room.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Covered With Love

Relationships are like blankets.
Blankets dull winter drafts and soften hard ground.

I want a quilt; specially made with a gentle touch.
It wraps me up and keeps me warm.
Memories in the fabrics,
Creativity in the design.

He wants a loosely knitted shawl; nothing too heavy.
He can move around easily and not know it’s there.
Versatility and practicality.

A quilt will take time; to make and to grow used to.
A shawl, too, takes time and needs a crafter’s touch.
Can we make a blanket together?

A new pattern, new materials, new thread.
New adventures, new romance, new love.

Or do I go back to sewing my quilt?


Moving on
I pull into the station.
This seems like a nice town.
I get out and walk around.

He was standing near a coffee shop.
We met and he took my hand.
We walked through the park,
We went to the zoo.

He let got of my hand.

We walked back to the station.
The train was about to leave.
I stepped on.
He’s still on the platform.

I found my seat.
He’s still on the platform.

I wave from the window.
He’s still on the platform.

The train leaves.
He’s still on the platform.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Flag: The Symbol of a Country

The flag of Cote d'Ivoire has three stripes: orange, white and green.

The orange stripe is a symbol of the desert landscape in the north of the country. The green stripe is a symbol of the forests and green landscape on the coast of Cote d'Ivoire. The white stripe is a symbol of peace and unity where the two different regions join. The peace and unity is a dream and a hope in the midst of civil strife. The flag is a symbol of the beautiful landscape and the beautiful country that is a very hopeful place in West Africa.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Children in Cote d'Ivoire

Monday, August 21, 2006

One Beautiful Girl

What makes beauty? Confidence. Assurance. Grace. Peace. Eyes. A warm smile. A soul exposed.

This little girl stood next to me when we visited the Abobo District in Abidjan. Young children flooded the open-air building where we were being entertained with dances and skits (performed by children.) This girl let me photograph her, but wouldn't tell me her name. She is beautiful.

She's standing next to me.

Strong Women

Women in Africa are strong and beautiful. They are the foundation of the family and many times the main provider. Their courage and entrepreneurial spirits have made them successful at supporting their familes and themselves in the midst of growing social and economic challenges.

Dr. Nicole and her mother

Gisele, one of our translators

Women preparing attieke

Adele Yed, the president of the Sarepta micro-credit bank in Abidjan

Woman holding her Sarepta savings book