Thursday, December 12, 2013


As the year comes to an end, there is a part of each and every one of us that sits back and reflects on everything that has happened over the past 365 days. Things we have done well, things we have done poorly, regrets, good, bad and downright awful times, wrongs we want to right and everything else in between. Whether it's over beers with friends or a single glass of wine with a journal in hand, we all use this time to reflect, especially as we start thinking about what our new years resolutions should be. 
So much has happened this year, the places I have gone, the awesomeness I have witnessed, the experience, growth and maturity that have all taken place, it's crazy I tell you. So crazy that at times I don't even remember who I was before this year even began. And I think that's whats made reflecting so hard. Because I have been trying to put into words what this year has meant for me or what it has represented, but I can't for the life of me find the words.
Well I mean I couldn't until yesterday on my flight home when I found an email forward that my sister had sent to me around this time last year. I read it and I knew she wanted me to get something out of it, but I just couldn't. I was not in a state of mind to even fathom or imagine what the words would feel like. But yesterday as I read through every single line of that email, a series of lights went off in my head. And I knew that I had found the best way to describe what this year has done for me.
The email was entitled "The Awakening" and while it may not mean anything to any of you, it definitely represents who and what I have become. And so with that I leave you with the words of this email forward and wish you all the best for the remainder of the year, with the hopes that 2014 represents the year you all are awakened :)
Happy Holidays
- A
The Awakening
A time comes in your life when you finally get it . . . When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere, the voice inside your head cries out - ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying, or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes, you begin to look at the world through new eyes.
This is your awakening...
You realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming and you are not Cinderella and that in the real world, there aren't always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you and in the process, a sense of serenity is born of acceptance. You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are . . . and that's OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) And you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself and in the process, a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval. You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn't do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself and in the process, a sense of safety & security is born of self-reliance.
You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties and in the process, a sense of peace & contentment is born of forgiveness. You realize that much of the way you view yourself and the world around you, is a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. You begin to sift through all the junk you've been fed about how you should behave, how you should look and how much you should weigh, what you should wear and where you should shop and what you should drive, how and where you should live and what you should do for a living, who you should marry and what you should expect of a marriage, the importance of having and raising children or what you owe your parents. You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.
You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with and in the process, you learn to go with your instincts. You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive and that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer" looking for your next fix. You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a by gone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life. You learn that you don't know everything; it's not your job to save the world and that you can't teach a pig to sing. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake. Then you learn about love. Romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away. You learn not to project your needs or your feelings onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man on your arm or the child that bears your name. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love; and you learn that you don't have the right to demand love on your terms, just to make you happy. You learn that alone does not mean lonely. You look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a perfect 10 and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you "stack up." You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK and that it is your right, to want things and to ask for the things that you want and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands. You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won't settle for less. You allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you, to glorify you with his touch and in the process, you internalize the meaning of self-respect. And you learn that your body really is your temple. And you begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and taking more time to exercise. You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest. Just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul; so you take more time to laugh and to play. You learn that for the most part in life, you get what you believe you deserve and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen, is different from working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it's OK to risk asking for help.
You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time; FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears, because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear, is to give away the right to live life on your terms.
You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions, you learn not to personalize things. You learn that God isn't punishing you or failing to answer your prayers; it's just life happening. You learn to deal with evil in its most primal state; the ego. You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls. You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted; things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about; a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself, by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart's desire. You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind, and you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting and to stay open to every wonderful possibility. Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand, you take a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.
~Author Unknown~

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Where did you go NoVeMbER?

There is something about this time of year that gets everyone a bit nostalgic. The streets begin to fill with people carrying massive shopping bags, running from one place to the next, the tree's, buildings and everythings in between are draped in bright amazingly beautiful Christmas lights and the crisp, cold air is full of little white dots that surround you making you feel as though you are trapped in an adult size snow globe.

This past month has been a zoo, how did November start and suddenly come to an end? I have spent so much time in between airports, airplanes, taxi's, hotels and all that other typical travel stuff, that its like I just closed my eyes and opened them 30 days later. I am definitely not complaining at how lucky I have been to see the world through these eyes this past month, but I am sad that I somehow let November pass me by, with out even letting a single Christmas song play out loud in my apartment or hotel while I danced feverishly all around the place, lol.

In feeling as though the days, the weeks, and the months just keep passing me by as I busily get from one place to the next, I keep having thoughts of finding the busiest place in whatever city I am in and screaming at the top of my lungs STOPP!!!!! or somehow pull a Zack Morris and suddenly be able to freeze time for a moment or two. Just to give me enough time to play at least one of my favorite Christmas Songs and get all giddy or respond to an email / letter / text to some of my dearest to let them know that their thoughts, prayers and friendships are the life line to what keeps me going.

I thought I was the only one who was feeling this overwhelming sense of life, but then I came across one of the blogs I follow and realized I wasn't alone. Reading her words, made me feel as though they were written just for me, written so that I would see them and realize I needed to force those one or two moments:

"I’m watching other people wait for something. All around me. People at the door. Flights in the crooks of the terminals. Restless to get somewhere, and go somewhere, and be somewhere, and leave somewhere. And it takes every ounce of human in me not to grab the shoulders of people I’ve never seen before and shake them good. Grab them with an urgency and just admit to someone, “I’m scared of missing the point. I’m scared of always rushing to get somewhere, onto the next somewhere, that I never fully arrive anywhere.” 

And that's just the thing. Lately, I have been feeling as though i haven't been in a place long enough to fully arrive. I mean my mind is full of thoughts of the "what's next", vs. taking in the little moments and allowing things to slow down and stop. Everything will happen in time as we all know, so why this crazy sense of urgency suddenly? IT NEEDS TO STOP. I NEED TO STOP. WE NEED TO STOP. And take that moment to enjoy one of the most amazing times of year.

So as we head into a month and season that tends to be even more crazier than this past November, I challenge you all take that moment or two and really just stop, reflect, and find someone who’s been good to you– all sorts of sweet to you all this time– and grab their hand and say,

“Let’s take this moment or two out together, to do something mindless, fun and crazy, something that we will look back and think about and know we were glad we took that time."

Happy End of November, tootles :)

- A 

P.S. To read the blog post that I quoted, visit -

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I'M IN LOVE.....

With my life that is :) What did all you all in cyber space think I was going to expose my full life out on this blog...LOL...

Anyhow, as I started off I AM IN COMPLETE LOVE WITH MY LIFE RIGHT NOW, probably more than I have ever been before. There is no stress, no anxiety and no sense of the little voices in my head nagging at me. Instead there is just this absolute sense of calm, amazingness and obviii some crazyness. 

Therefore with that being said, after reading the below on Robin Sharma's blog today, I couldn't help but think that this not only summed up how I feel, but also that it was worth sharing with everyone out there in cyber space. 

Hope this brings a smile to all your faces and encourages you all to LOVE your Lives. And if you aren't in COMPLETE LOVE with your life right now, do what you need to do to make it so that you are....

Happy reading 

- A

I'm in LOVE....

...with the idea that ordinary people can do extraordinary things once they start believing they can. 

...with the notion that we all have some unique version of genius within us, begging to see the light of day. 

...with the principle that great things inevitably happen to people who consistently do good things. 

...with the philosophy that our lives do not reflect lucky breaks but hard work and massive focus.

...with the rule that being kind is never a mistake. 

...with the habit of relentlessly delivering more than is expected. 

...with the regimen of living in a way that honours what you believe to be right, even if the world laughs loudly at you. 

...with the prescription of doing one thing each day to make your character stronger, and your heart bigger. 

...with the concept that good manners and personal excellence never goes out of style. 

...with the truth that our lives reflected what we've settled for not what we deserve

...with the insight of "just because you've never done it before doesn't mean you can't do it today. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Thinking back To when we were all Kids...

Think back to that first stumbling block that you ever faced. You know that one episode in the sand box, school yard, park or anything alike. Do you remember how you faced it? What you did? Did you cry out for help, then wipe away those tears, dust yourself off and look the word NO, or the IDEA OF FAILURE in the face and say THAT'S NOT HOW THIS IS GOING TO GO DOWN. Or did you cry, walk away and just think if I have to work for it, it's not worth it. What did you do? Do you remember?

Just take a moment to think about it.

This week, I had the chance to hear some awesome successful entrepreneurs talk about their experiences as part of Chicago's Ideas Week. And one of the speakers talked about how he could look back to the way he hustled and sold baseball cards as a kid and realized in his older age that the way he acted then was completely representative of how he reacted to challenges in his life now. And then he asked us all to think about it in terms of ourselves. Did we all think that how we reacted 20 odd years ago was representative of how we reacted now to the challenges that we face in our lives?

In all honesty, I thought about it for a long time. And likely because I wasn't sure what my definition of a challenge was as a kid. I mean was I challenged when my parents forced me to eat all the yucky Indian food off my plate before I could leave the kitchen at dinner time. Or was I challenged at school when I struggled to be, look or act like the cool kids. What was it?

Truthfully after thinking about it for some time, I realized that every single one of those elementary moments (e.g. learning how I could make my "plate" appear empty so I could be allowed to leave the dinner table), was a challenge and if I thought about it carefully, the way I acted then was and is the way I act now. I think the only difference is that now I feel fearless and pretty much unstoppable. I have the confidence I wished I had as a kid and while my palms still get a bit sweaty, I do react the same exact way.

So what is my reaction? Well when I think back to the Indian food I was forced to finish off my plate, I started off crying, you know the good old girl kinds of tears that get you pretty much out of everything and anything. And then after that worked a few times, I realized just how exhausting crying like that was. I mean I know I am dramatic by nature, but an actress I am not, and I  just can't cry on command like that every single day. So then I realized I had a choice. I either give in and let my parents win or I come up with a solution. And a solution I came up with (annnd not one I can openly share online with fear of my parents finding out, lol), NO ONE was going to stand in the way of me getting to my late night TV, especially not GROSS INDIAN FOOD. And after that if I look at all the struggles and all the challenges I have faced since those very days, I have never given up. I have stayed so completely committed to the things I want and have just learned to look challenges in the face with creativity, determination and belief. If I want it to happen it's going to happen one way or another. No one, no how, no anything is and was ever going to stand in my way.

So what was it for you? That first challenge, that first stumbling block? And did you act the same way then that you do now? And if not, do you wish you did?

Leaving you with some things to ponder. Til next time..

- A

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What are you all THANKFUL for?

Earlier this year I was in a bit of a rut. You know living the life of a Negative Nancy, where the glass always seemed half empty. And while I never let anyone see the negativity that was brewing inside of me, I knew that I desperately needed to do something to get out of the state I was in. I mean things were spiralling out of control and in more ways than one I was a complete and utter emotional wreck. 

So what to do? With out fully seeing or knowing the state I was in, a close friend of mine recommended a book to me that I have at many times talked about on my blog. And while the book shall remain nameless to all of you out there in cyber space, I will say that I was a serious sceptic at first. How was this book and the train of thought it was trying to get me to get into going to help? I mean I can be naive but I am not plain old gullible, at least I don't think so, lol. Anyways, I decided to let go of all my scepticism and just trust what the book had to say, I mean at that point what did i have to lose? 

One of the very first things this book focused on was getting out of the negative state you were in by providing a series of exercises you had to complete. And I don't mean jumping jacks and crunches, I mean positive mental type exercises. And while the book promised these so called exercises would turn you into a golden bright happy ray of sunshine, it was honest in saying that these exercises would not instantly work, so you had to be committed to doing them for at least 30 days. 

So fine, you crazy self proclaimed book, I said staring at myself in the mirror, I will commit to your exercises and try to get out of this annoying Negative Nancy state. 

The first of the exercises was simple. Every morning when you awake you turn to that amazing (/ annoying) thing that helps you get out of bed - your alarm clock - set it for 7 minutes, grab  your notebook and pen and start writing a list of all the things you love about your life. And I mean ANYTHING. My lists always started off simple - I love my bed, I love the comfort of my PJ's, I love MY APARTMENTS, I love my family, etc - and then would evolve into specifics about my life. And while I felt silly the first few times I did it, I will say that my mind shift started to change. It was suddenly really hard to think of all the negative things I didn't like about my life, when after this morning exercise I was drowning in soo much love and positivity. And while no one called me sunshine immediately, I will say that it became one of many nick names on my African Adventure and on my current project team. And it feels pretty damn good, especially because I got out of the state I was in all on my own with out anyone forcing weird oils, exercises, and lectures on me. I changed because I wanted to :)

Now I know all of you people out there in cyber space are wondering what the point of this lovely story is. So let me get down to business. I am not suggesting that you all commit to doing this exercise for the next 30 days (I mean not unless you want to), but what I am suggesting in the spirit of my part Canadian roots, is that we spend this Thanksgiving doing a bit of an adjusted version of this exercise. i mean what do you all have to lose?

Thanksgiving whether Canadian or American, isn't just about watching football, stuffing your face with turkey and pumpkin pie and ending up in an utter state of food coma, it's about being around those you love, being surrounded by what you define as family and really just taking in all the great things in your life. So this Thanksgiving (Sunday), I challenge all of you out there whether you are Canadian, American, Batswana, British, and anything else in between, to set your alarm for 7 minutes, take out a piece of paper and a pen and write out your list of ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE THANKFUL FOR :)

Here is a snip-it from my list to get you all started: 

I am Thankful for the amazing sleep I just had. 
I am Thankful for the dreams I had that let me wake up smiling from ear to ear. 
I am Thankful for my family (including the baby ladoooooooo that will be joining us all sooon, eeeek!!).
I am Thankful for the love that surrounds me. 
I am Thankful for second chances. 
I am Thankful for my re-belief in love, happiness and building life long partnerships and relationships. 
I am Thankful for the friends I have. 
I am Thankful for my silly, carazzzzzy, funny ways. 
I am Thankful for the opportunities in front of me. 
I am Thankful for my battle wounds.
I am Thankful for..........ARE YOU CRAZY, I CAN'T GIVE IT TO YOU ALL OUT THERE IN CYBER SPACE. Not everyone can know the details of what makes me have this goofy smile for every second, minute and hour of these days.

So what are you waiting for!!! Before the Turkey arrives and before the day gets away from you, start your "THANKFUL" lists. 

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving from my Canadian Side :) Till next time. 

- A

Sunday, October 6, 2013

OUT with the OLD and IN with the NEW

"Live the life you Imagined" 

But what if you suddenly wake up and realize you are living a life far beyond what you could have ever imagined? Almost as if you are surrounded by "PINCH ME, IS THIS REALLY MY LIFE" moments. 

This quote was written on a pillow that I walked by as my Bots crew and I raced to find a brunch spot that would allow us to recover and debrief on our awesome Sun City weekend. And while I snapped a quick photo of the pillow that had this quote, it wasn't until I finally got on my flight home that I realized, I have been living a life far beyond my wildest of dreams. 

They say that it all comes together at some point, almost as if you wake one day and realize that all the bad stuff, all the growing pains, heart aches, failures and everything's in between just suddenly make sense. And I don't know if I believed the fact that there was actually a light at the end of the tunnel, until I had my "AHA" moment as I waved "See You Soon" to Bots and got on my plane. 

Since I started this blog, I have talked a lot about how I never imagined to be where I am today in a good and in a bad way. And that is the plain and simple truth. It's never meant to have been a cry for help or a sob story, it's a simple fact. I never imagined that I would be sitting where I am now, with certain people gone from my life for good. A year ago, hell maybe even 6 months ago, I had such a different vision as to how things would go down. And I have no idea when that vision left, or vanished or changed for me, but it did. It could have been on my climb up Khale Hill, or in one of my many deep discussions with one of the most incredible couples I have ever come across or it could have been the love, appreciation and worth that I finally came to feel for myself after being surrounded by such beautiful, amazing, inspiring people. But that moment when it changed, doesn't matter, what matters is that I set out on a journey where I dedicated the awesome Ellie Goulding Song - Anything Could Happen to and in the end anything and everything that I could have never imagined happened. 

I don't even know if I could sum it up for you all out there in cyber space but I can try. So let's see in chronological order of course if I can get you all to SEE THE INSANITY that just went down:

Waved good bye to my life in North America including all the dreams I once had, took the LONNNGESSST flight of life, got madly addicted to suits, began insanity and realized how INSANE it actually is, took on a project that I never had done before and was COMPLETELY scared to do, started a count down to Ethiopia only to realize that booking plane tickets online is something new in Africa that doesn't always work, lol, ate all the injera to my hearts content, travelled to one of the most beautiful places on earth, got lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean with one of my bestest friends (LOVE YOU J), star gazed under the amazing African sky with the sand under me and the waves at my toes, began waking up at 5am like it was normal, started half marathon training only to realize that I have picked the one hobby that makes your feet SOO DAMN UGLY (two black toe nails check!), developed one of the coolest things ever and watched it come to complete fruition, learned that I could actually build a computer,  found me a woman mentor that exceeded everything I could have ever imagined, applied for an extension and got no response, developed a social calendar that made me busier than I am in North America, built a family of some of the most amazing people, got addicted to Amarula, road tripped to Sun City, walked across the Botswana / South Africa border like it was the partition (literally), drank, drank and then drank some more, sang and danced my heart out, giggled till it hurt, began to pack for my return, headed back to South Africa to play with the elephants and giraffe's, desperately tried to get wifi in the middle of no where, scrambled to get letters and emails sent, changed my flight 24 hours before I was set to come home, GOT EXTENDED!!!!, had a couple wild crazy nights with my entire crew, met people I least expected, had my socks knocked off, had a couple of heart palpitations, ate amazing food, realized what Amarula does to people that are lactose intolerant, got some amazing life, love and professional advise, barely slept, packed up everything including my Bots memory box and painting from Linda (shout outtt) and my SSI Bracelet (joooooooannna) annnnnnd an extra scarf or two, laid it all out on the line, left it all up to the Universe and 40 hours later landed back in North America. 

And now I'm back to living in between two awesome cities, with a vision that is far beyond what I ever imagined, with a sense of maturity that I needed to develop in order to really believe and know that I was truly ready for that next chapter, that next phase, that next part of my life that I always dreamed of. 

So you see out there in cyber space, when you really believe, have faith and give love anything could happen, so long as you let it :)

Til next time 
- A 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones, by definition are an undertaking or event that helps one to make progress toward a specified goal. Now looking at our lives, it is clear that they are filled with Stepping Stones...

As babies, crawling is the stepping stone to walking, and walking is the stepping stone to running. As kids we use kindergarten as our stepping stone into the education system and then each grade there on after is a stepping stone to the next. We then venture into the "professional world" and use each job, each role, each responsibility as a stepping stone to the next in the hope of one day reaching our "dream profession". And in between all these milestones, each friendship, each relationship, each battle, each growing pain is just a stepping stone meant to prepare us for the moments we have dreamed, wished and waited for.

Ironically enough, this little African adventure was meant for me to be a stepping stone into the next phase of my life. The phase where I say goodbye to all the things I thought were once true and venture into a new life with a new perspective, new hope new confidence and new set of goals. I say Ironic because the organization i have been working with is "Stepping Stones International". And while the founder of this organization focuses on providing a foundation (a stepping stone) for orphaned and vulnerable youth, she is also providing a foundation for each and every employee and volunteer that walks through her doors.

It would be impossible to say that this woman is anything short of an inspiration to everyone around her. For me, I walk through her doors everyday and sit at a table where I witness her being a loving mother and wife to her four children and husband, a mentor, friend and advisor to her staff and a believer for the children that she is working so hard to provide a stepping stone for. And its crazy, how she can be all these things at once. Especially when as women we are often told that it is nearly impossible to have it all - the career, the kids, the life you always dreamed of. But if there is anything I walk out of work thinking each day now because of her, its that IT IS POSSIBLE. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE...and wasn't that the theme song for this little venture - ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN, by Ellie Goulding?

It's all rather ironic, but at the same time all makes sense. And if I didn't admit that there isn't anywhere I would rather be then right here right now, I would be lying. Which would also mean that I have accepted all the stepping stones that led me to this very moment and now through the eyes of this inspirational lady I not only know, but believe that the best is really yet to come....

To learn more about Stepping Stones International and how you can either get involved or help please visit -

Til next time

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What's your Gobi? An ode to a very inspirational man...

The theme for this weekend, is letters, plain old simple and honest beautifully scripted letters.

Prior to leaving for Africa, I was lucky enough to come across the "Lean In" blog, that had a special feature for father's day, entitled "Letter's to my daughter". The concept was simply beautiful. "Famous" father's were given a chance to blog a letter full of their dreams,visions, hopes and wishes for their daughters as a leave behind that they could revisit for as long as they pleased.

I of course sat and read through most of these letters, while grasping onto a tissue box - disaster - but none the less was inspired and couldn't help but think of how awesome this concept was. Whether we write letters to our daughters, fathers, mothers, boyfriends, girlfriends and Anyone's in between. The idea of just writing out your thank you's and leave behinds is simply beautiful. And while I have gotten a lot better at my verbal communication, I have forever always relied on the power of the pen to articulate my most deepest sympathies, apologies, love, laughter and anything else you can imagine, which is why I thought my blog would be the perfect forum for me to write a letter to a man that most recently has inspired me more than he will ever know.

So the preface... About a year ago I was fortunate enough to attend the TEDx conference in Toronto. As I sat in the audience bright eyed and busy tailed, soaking in every single inspirational word that I could, out emerged Stefan Danis, a CEO of a large organization that was ready to share with us his adventures through the Gobi Desert. Shortly after the TEDx conference, I was searching for a speaker for a work event and in my short list of speakers, Stefan Danis's name emerged. After contacting him and realizing that scheduling issues would prevent him from sharing his story with my colleagues, he mailed me an autographed copy of his book that scripted every waking moment of his Gobi desert adventure. I am not going to lie, while getting the book was an amazing surprise, I brought the book home and left it by my bed side for quite some time. Then shortly after reading the letters to my daughters blog post, I came home and looked at the book by my bed side and thought, I wonder if this would have a leave behind for his daughters. It was that night that I picked up the book for the first time and started to read it. And I continued to read it, unable to put it down. This book traveled with me to Africa and has come on many of my adventures since I got here. And while I have soaked up every word of this man's story, it wasn't until the end of the book when he re-caped his lessons learnt that a light bulb in my head went off that will forever change my life from this point on.

And now to the letter..... 

Dear Stefan,
Thank you for sending me a personalized copy of your book about your Gobi Desert adventure. My only regret is not opening the book sooner, even if I believe that timing is everything. After all I am in the midst of my Gobi, and enjoying every minute of it, lol.
Reading your story of how you and the other's in your book first determined that the Gobi Run would be the best challenge to take on as a method of helping deal with other areas of your life, really resonated with me. After all this is how I encourage all the CA Candidates I coach to get over their exam fears. I always tell them to start with a list of 5-10 things they want to accomplish that they never thought they could and ask then ask them to pick three and focus on them. And while none of my students have the bandwidth to take on the Gobi Run during their exam schedule, I believe that they all learn something so profound from their experiences that allow them to better equip themselves for the CA Exam beasts. I mean I did, so I can only imagine that they too have had the same valuable experiences.
Now while, your whole story was quite inspirational, it wasn't until I got to the end of your book where you re-caped the lessons learnt that I really felt as though something had clicked in my head. I will paraphrase the exact lines for reference  -

" For me, comfort is the buffer zone between fear of failure and fear of success. I always knew I was afraid of failure. I hate failing and I work hard at not failing. It is what has given me most of what I have. But during the race I was confronted with the possibility of actually winning. Strangely, in a sense struggling is my comfort zone. I know that I almost always find a way to kick into another gear and find a way out. In the desert I saw more clearly than ever that when I do well, I am uncomfortable and almost apologetic about it. A misplaced sense of humility robs me of my own power.
It has been fascinating for me to become aware of what stopped me. For five days, "I danced like no one was watching" and then I stopped. It is a subject I am exploring right now, hoping to feel worthy of winning and removing this self-imposed ceiling altogether or at least raising it higher."

Reading these lines made me feel as though everything that was in my own head, had come to life. After recently living through something that has seemed like deja vu when compared to past years of my life, I was forced to take a long hard look at my own life and the patterns of my thoughts, actions and everythings in between. It was this exact lesson that I came to learn about myself. I am really good at coming back from a fall, but am horrible of believing that I actually deserve a win. For years I have had people tell me I was beautiful or worthy of the good things happening to me and for all these years I have uncomfortably smiled and come up with some sort of a Witty remark or excuse for why its so. I have been my worst enemy, I have imposed the ceiling on what it is exactly that I deserve. Which is why I have allowed myself to be disrespected, unappreciated and worst of all ignored. I have made excuses for everyone else's bad behaviour and scolded myself for good, simply because I haven't felt worthy enough and it just hasn't made any sense. Until I realized the very same words you wrote.

Maybe I needed someone else to admit that they felt the way I did, until I could believe it. But regardless I finally see it and like you am working on making sure I no longer get in my own way. Actually yesterday someone told me I was beautiful and had an awesome personality, and I smiled from ear to ear and said thank you with out inner voices going banana's in my head. I think it's because I finally believe it or at least believe that I deserve the compliment.  

There are so many events that led me to your book, and while there are moments along the way i wish I hadn't had to live through, I wouldn't change a thing. Thank you for being the voice in my head and an inspiration to keep chasing after my Gobi.

As a token of my appreciation, I have asked the couple I am staying with in Botswana to leave my personalized copy of your book by the bed side so that your story and your inspiration can leave footprints in other people's hearts as they travel through this home.

Here's to hoping that your story, words and inspiration continue to spread around the globe. Thank you again.

For everyone out there in cyber space, I encourage you to google Stefan's story and set out to find your Gobi :)

Til next time

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When was the last time you simply ASKED for something?

For as long as I can remember, kids always have a way of getting what they want. It's either they stare at you with the most awesome puppy dog eyes, throw an annoying tantrum, or cry and cry and cry til you cave. And I know we all know this to be true, because let's face it we were all once those very kids.

And while as adults we lay our heads low in shame of how easily we are suckered into doing just about anything, we should all take a second to learn from these little culprits because they are onto something. The "Power of the ASK" that is.

Think about it. How often as an adult have you wanted something and followed the easy route? And I mean just asked for it. Not beaten around the bush, danced a little dance around the topic, waited patiently for someone or something to fold, instead just plain out ASKED for it, like an order of MacDonald's french fries. HOW OFTEN? I bet not many. Hell, I will be the first to admit that I'm like a 0.0000001% on the ask scale. And likely because I am ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED of hearing the word NO. I would rather sit, arms folded waiting patiently then be rejected, like a massive B#%^H Slap across the face. WOULDN'T YOU AGREE?

But what if for every five times that you asked for something you got a couple of Yes's. And I mean Yes's that were massive massive WINS that would trump all the rejections. Would you ASK then?

NO? Because I know about a million NGOs that would say YES to those very odds. In fact, welcome to the wonderful world of Non-For-Profit work. Where rejections and door slams are the norm, but where risks of rejection are taken day in and day out all in the hopes of that potential YES. That YES that is often far few and between.

It's incredible, actually awe inspiring to be surrounded by people that live and breath their lives by the " IT AIN'T OVER TIL THE FAT LADY SINGS " motto. The amount of blood, sweat and tears that go into everything that is done for these organizations is absolutely insane. So in insane that it often makes me look at my cushy corporate job and wonder if I am doing enough. Which is likely, how I ended up in the middle of Africa.

And now that i am here, I believe it's time I, like the little kiddies and inspiring people I am working with learn the POWER OF THE ASK. No more dancing around topics or waiting for seasons to change, from this point on only bluntness at its finest. I will ASK FOR EVERYTHING I WANT...After all even the bible stuck it to me:  

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek; and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. [Matthew 7:7-8]"

The question is will you NOW get of your  A%$ and just ASK - ask for that raise, the promotion, forgiveness, that date, you know anything your little cyber heart desires? What do you have to lose? You already know what the word NO looks and sounds like :)


- A

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What are your ANCHORS?

An an-chor /ˈaNGkər/ (noun), by definition is a heavy object attached to a vessel by a cable or rope and cast overboard to keep the vessel in place either by its weight or by its flukes, which grip the bottom. And while I do love the water, and believe that in a past life I must have been some sort of an exotic fish or dolphin, I am not sharing this definition with you all in cyber space for that reason. Instead I am asking you to stop and think of this word and its accompanying definition and ask yourself - What your Anchor(s) is/are? What are those things that hold you back? That keep you stagnate and afraid of inching forward?

Now don't think for a second that I am putting this all out there for you to all think about and not do it myself. I may try to appear inquisitive and ask a million questions of those around me to avoid talking about myself, but there is a huge part of me that knows that during this little African Adventure, I must also ask myself some of these questions and figure out how to ensure that I am no longer held back by the things that keep me stagnate, my anchors.

So here it goes. My anchors, are ironically things that tend to allow most people to move forward in their lives, they are my dreamy, naive, child-like nature. I believe in the good in people, the truth behind what is said and the realness in intimate moments between people,  you know all that fairy tale stuff us girls were made to believe when we were younger. They are the things that keep me believing and holding onto the people around me - whether good or bad. And while its refreshing to realize that my anchors are so positive in comparison to the things that keep most of us anchored in one place  - i.e.  the "baggage", "negativity"or things alike from past years of life that stop you from believing that things can be different and different good - they are still anchors that are stopping me from inching forward and grasping the awesomeness that at times is in front of me. 

So now what? Now that I have realized this, am I supposed to continue to let my anchors keep me stagnette? Or do I cut the ropes that keep my anchors in place and take that giant, scarey step forward? 

OBVI, I had the chance to debate this paradox :) And as I sat around with my African crew last night at one of the local hang outs sharing awesome stories and laughs. I realized that at this point in my life, there really is only one way to go. And it most definitely is the later of the two.

You see, there is a time, place and moment for our anchors to serve there purpose. They are meant to keep you stagnate so that you can re-evaluate, grow and learn. But once you have faced the excuses you have come up with to avoid massive, scary leaps of faith forward, you need to take that long hard look in the mirror and just agree to cut those anchors off and have some faith.

Truth be told, that Mother Teresa likely said it best:

"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” 

Let us begin to face those anchors head on and than in as dramatic as a moment as you need, cut those ropes, release those anchors and walk away light as a feather ready for the awesomeness in front of you.

Off to enjoy the blasting African sun, ex-pat life and every adventure in between.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Why do you do it? Why do you get up every morning and follow that same morning routine? You know the ARGHHH just 10 more minutes PLEASE, the let me drag my feet across the floor to the bathroom to stare at my tired eyes and bags in the mirror, the eeek!!! I am getting into the coldest shower ever so that I can freeze myself into believing that being up this early is NORMAL and the constant go, go, go til I manage to get myself into that office, no matter what it may look like or be. Why? What is that reason that gets you up? Why even bother?

It should be because you LOVE what you do. But do you? I mean how many of us are actually doing what we LOVE? And have any of us ever really taken the time, to think about what that even is? Or what that even looks like?

I know in our world it all comes down to the monetary stuff, the things we like, the lifestyles we have all gotten accustomed to living and all that stuff in between. I am just as guilty as the next in believing that sometimes it's okay to not LOVE the day to day, because the "STUFF" is worth it in the end.

But sometimes it is so refreshing to sit across from someone and have them tell you how much they love every second of the job that they have. In fact to them it doesn't feel like a job, it feels like fun, like every day is worth something absolutely phenomenal. It actually becomes infectious and contagious and makes you turn around and LOVE what you do, even if you are reading the same document over and over and over again, it somehow makes the most mundane tasks feel absolutely amazing.

That's what I love about this AMAZING CONTINENT. No matter what people do for a living, they absolutely love every second of it. A job doesn't just pay the bills and put money on the table and buy them stuff. It stands for the hard work they have endured to get where they are, it stands for the family they are able to support, it stands for the fact that they are spreading some sort of happiness, it stands for the fact that they have the chance to meet so many different people, it stands for their self-worth, their pride, their belief in themselves and everything that comes in between it.  A job is how you spend your life and every moment that people are alive here, they are enjoying it, they are happy and all of that emotion and good energy, is incredibly addicting.

Today I looked in the mirror after having one of the best conversations, with one of the sweetest ladies ever and smiled literally from ear to ear and out loud I said "Thank you big D. Thank you for letting me see that these skills and things that I know sometimes seem so incredibly boring, have brought me here, allowed me to fix something that already seems so amazing and in the end allow me to be touched by such an awesome, awesome group of people."

I know what you all are thinking, I have seriously drank the African kool-aid. But in all seriousness when was the last time you said thank you for the fortune that you have had? You know those mundane jobs that we usually complain about?  When was the last time you thought, "actually, you know what? I'm pretty damn lucky"?

I used to envy people who were living out those childhood dreams they had - you know the pilots, the singers, the movie stars, the teachers, the doctors, the everyone's who were doing exactly what they said they were going to do when they were in first grade. But today, that envy stopped because secretly I realized that I am doing exactly what i want to do and have wanted to do for years and soon enough those bigger dreams are going to come to fruition.

So what about your dreams? Do you even know what they look like? And if you don't, maybe it's time you thought about it? So that you too can feel infectiously happy the next time your morning alarm goes off.

Back to working on my Setswana (i.e. obsessing over my new love for suits) :)

- A

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What has your Fortune Cookie told you lately?

"You will soon be crossing great waters" Now how fitting was that fortune cookie as I waved goodbye to #JFK and embarked on what seemed to be the longest flight of life. At the time, I placed that fortune in the pocket of my jean shirt, but as I unpacked in my new apartment, I took that fortune out of my shirt and sat back thinking, that #signs really do exist.

I know as we get older we tend to become cynics. I mean why believe in signs or the universe guiding you along a path when logic and reason exist? We forget too easily about how open minded and full of hope and faith and belief we were when we were kids and / or even young adults and instead just become these older robots that do things because our parents said it made sense, or because it is rational and logical and everything that the norm would say makes sense. But why? What causes the change? Is it because when we think freely and believe in things like fate and signs we get burned? Or is it because following such a way of thinking leaves us so completely vulnerable to the world as we let go of the control we have over our lives and literally leave it all in the world's hands?

If you asked me these questions a year ago I likely would have gone with the cynic answer. But the truth is after being faced with a reality that I just never imagined, I am going with the later of the two. My nerves the night before my flight or even at the airport as I had a tearful goodbye with my parents, wasn't because I was freaked out about my soon to be unknown surroundings and way of living. It was because for the first time in my life I was embarking on a journey that had no structured plan in place. That flight, this adventure, this journey for me, represents that first step into a phase of my life that is not bounded by a 2, 5 or 10 year plan. Instead its guided by all the things I know I want and the trust that I have in the universe to just lead me down that road.

A few months ago, I read a book that changed my life. Dramatic, I know, but again would you expect anything less? And the reason it changed my life was because it forced me to understand that this idea of signs and fate really do exist, you know that idea that everything does happen for a reason. And while I never wanted to believe it as I read the book, I decided to put the lectures that it was presenting to me to the test. And the truth is, I haven't looked back to that cynic ever since. The way things have fallen into place so easily and so effortlessly make me really believe that this whole weird thing we call life actually has a purpose, as long as we are willing to believe :)

So are you willing to believe? To trust in your  real gut instincts and not the fear that masks them? What's the worst thing that could happen if you tried? Go on, I dare you all in cyberspace.

A very #jet-leg and delirious dreamer signing off for now
- A

Saturday, August 3, 2013

So long Part 1, Part 2 is enroute to begin :)

As I sit here, staring at the packed bags in the corner of my room, while listening to Ellie Goulding's - Anything Can Happen on repeat, I am beginning to wonder WHAT THE HELL I AM DOING WITH MYSELF!!!!!!!!!! T-Minus 8 hours til my flight departs and I begin part 2 of the African Adventure I began about 3 short years ago....EEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!!

Who would have really thought that I would be venturing back to this amazing continent? I mean even if the parting words I got when i was leaving were "You are not done with Africa, you will be back, this I know" - I just never believed. Or maybe I believed, but I had no idea how, what, where or why I would return. It's not like taking a weekend trip to NyC or LA, ITS FREAKIN AFRICA!!!!! And besides that, the path my life took when I returned, never really left space for me to think that it was possible. I guess in the teachings of the Secret, the Power and all other books and schools of thought alike, I just put the idea out there and let it go and let the Universe lead me to it.

And now here I am, breathing into a paper bag every so often, rubbing my sweaty palms on my pj's, while attempting to calm my mind down enough to write this post and perhaps get some sleep in before I depart.

The funny thing is, it's not the new and different surroundings, people and atmosphere that are causing me to hyperventilate and have mini-panic attacks. It's the everything else in between - the idea of knowing that for me this adventure is my full-circle moment. The chance to finish what I started and begin the next chapter of my life. Dramatic? Of course, but would you expect anything less? LOL.

I really do believe that as you get older, your sense of intuition and just knowing grows so strong that while you may never be able to predict what will happen next, you always know when things are about to change. And so as I begin the writings of the last chapter of Part 1 of my awesome life story, I am holding on tight to my seat because Part 2 is about to start, in full swing - Anything could happen, thanks Ellie Goulding for writing a song that is so fitting for this exact moment in my life.

Here is to sharing Part 2 of my African Adventure with you all in cyberspace. After all my love for blogging, writing and putting it all out there began during part 1, so it's only fitting it continue this way.

- A

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The RETURN after a long HIATUS - The Travelling Diaries AKA. The Running Shoe Diaries

While it has definitely been longer than expected, I can't help but have this mild feeling of a deja vu as I sit in front of my lap top and let my fingers begin to do all the talking. My hiatus, while longer than expected, has mainly been in part to the serious and in depth writing relationship I have been having with the pages of my journal. The journal, oh yes the journal...The journal that has taken me to a multitude of foreign cities and onto new life adventures that have only been beyond my wildest dreams. Life has been nothing short of exciting as of late, and while I can delve into all the details right this minute, I feel as though these adventures have the ability to feed blogs to come :) I will say that the amount of pinch me " IS THIS REALLY MY LIFE " moments have been numerous and at times have made me wonder if people looking at me as I walk through the streets, the airport terminals, the hallways of my office and anywhere in between think I am absolutely crazy, on drugs or about to go on a creepy shooting rage. Not saying my smile is creepy, because I believe it is quite the opposite, lol, but you get my drift :)

Anyways, what I have toyed with for quite some time is where exactly to start. Its tough sometimes to start over, or get back into things when you have been away so long and yet while things slowly begin to seem like second nature, its the ramp up that takes a lot of work and effort. So as I ease my way into things I thought it was best to start with a bit of comedy mixed with some life lessons from my travels. I call this MY FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT TRAVELLING, not listed in any particular order and for your reading pleasure. So here we go:

1. EATINGGGGGGGGGGGG - Can I just say how I love that the minute you get on a plane and document your trip as vacation, you immediately allow yourself the ability to indulge in EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING. Jesus!!!!!!! The amount of cheese, crepe's, bread, pastries and everything in between I ate is endless. I'm pretty sure there were moments where I thought to myself, JESUS This is why I was obese in my younger days...LOL.

2. Taking Random and Weird pictures of yourself - So I like to think I am creative with picture placement, although i will say that some of these ideas can come off as weird and absolutely crazy. But I will share, that i was in the middle of a square, where people were taking pictures with statues and lamp posts, NOT ME. I found a whole in the gate that lined this square and tapped a random Korean tourist on the shoulder and was like can you take my photo please. He said yes, and turned to a lamp post, he thought I would pose with and I was like no over here. And went and shoved myself in the whole in the gate and was like now please :) While his reaction was like WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU. The minute he was done, he was like actually can you take my photo in the same way, THANKS! WOOOOT!!!! SO my wacky ideas are rubbing off one picture at a time :)

3. Taking random pictures of other people - Yes I will say it, give me a camera and I can become a bit of a creeper..LOL. But in all honesty, its my attempt at being "creative" I wish I could post some of the pictures I took, but while I sat in many parks and cafe's, squares and gardens. I took so many pictures of other people, just to capture some of the most beautiful moments I was lucky enough to witness.

4. Getting lost  - Yes anal, every moment needs to be planned me, LOVES getting lost at the heart of it. The amount of weird streets, cute little shops, parks, bridges and spots you are able to find make it all that much better. And on top of it there is something about find your way again all on your own, with just a map that makes you feel like you could really survive  and get through even the hardest of times. It sort of makes you believe that even when you feel the most lost in your life, you will find your way.

5. Meeting random people - It's crazy how many random people you can meet along on your travels. Whether its local's or people from other cities visiting, its actually quite refreshing. The conversations you get to have and experiences you get to share make your travels that much more interesting, special and exciting. Plus making friends from all over the world, give you reasons to travel back or to new places you have never been before.

6. Faking accents - I'm pretty sure I have put together a pretty good British accent, thanks to my 2 year old coach little P :) But seriously, picking up the lingo, the terms and the mannerisms make you feel like a local while you are away and absolutely extraordinary when you return home.

7. Being Adventurous - Traveling isn't just about seeing new things, its about testing your limits. So whether you climb all the steps of the Eiffel tower, or ride a bike all through a city almost getting killed or learn how to surf or stand up paddle board in the middle of the ocean, its all about BEING ABSOLUTELY CRAZY SPONTANEOUS AND ADVENTUROUS. It makes your travels so much more exciting and definitely gives you stories to share with everyone when you return.

8. FRESH AIR - Not saying the air isn't fresh where you live. But there is something about leaving the confinements of your every day life and really just breathing on your own. You know with no one to tell you how to think, feel or act. Its just you, your ability  to sit back and really just think, get clarity and come to these revelations you never thought possible. This trip for me was by far one of the best and most life changing, its made me see, realize and believe in things I didn't even think would ever be possible and now here I am living my dream, which is pretty freakin unreal :)

9. Coming Home - No matter how good a vacation or a long trip away is. It is always nice to come home to the people you love. Someone shared this quote with me while I was away and I thought that it was something that could totally be extrapolated to include everyone in our lives  that mater "You can separate two people by distance but you can never break the bridge that connects their hearts, no matter where they are in the world." And its so true. Even for me the nomad that loves the idea of traveling and living out of a suit case and going between cities, experiencing new and crazy adventures, loves at the heart of it all, the awesome hello's at the airport and the exciting conversations you get to have with friends when you return. It makes you realize just how lucky and loved you are.

Annnnnnnnnnnd I believe the list continues, but for now this is all my jet leg brain can come up with :) Do you have a favorite? One you care to share? Drop a comment if you doo!

Til next time interweb :) In the mean time, keep smiling, traveling and living your dreams.

- A