I Love You, So Go.

Hey world,

My boyfriend recently announced to our team that he'll be leaving work here before October to pursue a life elsewhere. I couldn't be upset, because I've known for months. Within two months of dating, he looked at me and shared his truth. I imagine it was hard to share, probably as much as it was to hear. So at first, I pretended I didn't hear it.

A few months later, he brought it up again. "I can't stay", he told me. He had a calling to go elsewhere - to try something new, to live somewhere else. I understood, because I have that feeling too sometimes. I couldn't blame him; I know that it's really hard to fight. Once you begin to taste the world, it's really really hard to remain stationary (that's probably why I got a dog...and why I try to travel so much).

I also couldn't fault him for following his own path -- I've spent my entire adult life forging mine, and following it wherever it's led me. So, I loved him anyways. 

It's one of the best decisions I've made since I moved here. 

Now that his departure feels imminent and isn't just words, it's a hard pill to swallow. My heart will surely hurt in his absence; in just a year, he has permeated my life so deeply, so quickly. 

But then I focus my energies on this Maya Angelou quote, and I am lifted. 


B, I am so proud of you for following your heart. It's no small feat to follow your path, even if you don't exactly know where it's taking you. I love you (and I would like to be near you), but for now, you must go.

xoxo,
M

How I've Ended Up Writing My Masters in Cambodia

Hey world, 

A couple of months ago, I had the brilliant idea to use my last two weeks of vacation from Year One at work to write my thesis. This way, I could stop paying NYU to remain enrolled, get that fancy piece of paper to go in my office someday, and begin focusing my efforts on repaying my massive loan from said opportunity.

After pouring over websites and blogs, and imagining the environment which I thought would be most conducive for two weeks of intense reading & writing – I landed on Greece. Just think: bowls of feta and olives, royal blue water, evenings at the Parthenon...it was perfect.

…Until it went belly-up, flights between islands increased, and any apartment I wanted to stay in was upwards of $50 clams a night…

Back to the drawing board.

Then came this vision: me, on a bicycle, roaming temples and doing yoga. Me, poolside with a mojito, thinking through important world issues. Me, on a balcony, reading books & articles, and typing ferociously. Me, maximizing "vacation" and "productivity" to the absolute max. 

Basically, I wanted to be Elizabeth Gilbert. And yes, this meant returning to the OG homeland – Southeast Asia.

After a lot of deliberation of where I wanted to go (everywhere) and where was least tempting to not do work, I decided that my best bet was Cambodia.


Cambodia is known for Angkor Wat, and the numerous temple complexes that live within Siam Reap’s walls. I mapped out a week here to allow for slow exploration in the mornings, and readings / delicious food for the rest of the day/night.

I read in a few blogs that it’s worth heading southwest to the water too, so I booked a puddle jumper to Sihanoukville, where I’ll be near the beach for a couple of days. From there, Kampot, which everyone swears is THE hot new place to veg, do short trips into rice fields, pepper farms and salt flats, swim in the river, and relax. That’s where I’ll be in the writing zone.

And finally, I’ll be flying out of Phnom Penh, where I’ll round out my finished (!?!?!?) thesis with a nice dinner & drinks, and perhaps a studio photo shoot to replace walking across the stage. 

Can you find my cities on here?


If you were paying attention, you’ll know that I just mentioned 4 cities. In 16 days. I’ve also referred to completing a 60-80 page Masters Thesis, which I have done 0 pre-reading, research, or writing for. BUT I did bring 8 books, have 25 related articles downloaded and ready to go (and 4 swimsuits...because a girl needs it all).

The challenge now, is to have it all. To bake the cake, frost the cake, and eat it too.

Who says it’s impossible? The word itself says I’m(crazybecauseIthinkthisis)possible.

Send words my way. And well-wishes. I’ll be keeping you updated.

xoxo,
M

Doing What You Love: One Year In

Hey World,

 Life is passing, adventures are happening, and I haven't been taking you with me. To be honest, it's a bit selfish. Since Christmas, I've still not shared my pictures from Italy. Or Sri Lanka. Or my recent safaris. My dog's grown bigger, I've turned 25, my dad came to visit, and I ended up delaying my June trip until now. 

I'm 25. Twenty-five. Quarter of a century! And all I can think about (three months later) is: can it get any better than this?

In the past year, so many things have fallen into place. I have a wonderful job. And a beautiful goofball dog. An amazing man. Memories from around the world. 

"You are the books you read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, the conversations you engage in. 
You are what you take from these. 
You are the sound of the ocean, the breath of fresh air, the brightest list and the darkest corner. You are a collective of every experience you have had in your life. 
You are every single day. 
So drown yourself in a sea of knowledge and existence. Let the words run through your veins and let the colors fill your mind."

---

The last weekend of July, I celebrated my one year anniversary of living and working in Tanzania (round two). I took the weekend to relax, read, and reflect on what my first year in my position and my town meant to me.

The growth – both personally and professionally – I have experienced in the last year is unfathomable.

Personally, I have dedicated my efforts to maintaining a work-life balance, finding peace with my life in Iringa, and sending as much time loving up on Bruce Wayne (ie: making sure his ribs stop showing) as possible. He’s mastered a few key words, and continues to prove that cupcakes are in fact his favorite food. 

Family photo outtakes
I’ve found love here with my BF, and we too are coming up on one year together. It’s refreshing to be in a relationship where we both committed to honesty, rational thinking, and compromise from the very beginning. Never would I have thought I would look forward to watching SciFi episodes or eating chickpeas, but I guess love does that to you. He probably never thought he’d be in so many selfies or have to cook minced meat for the bear-dog instead of going on a date; so clearly we’re both open to change. Also, he makes a delicious buffalo sauce from scratch, so he’s a keeper.   


At work, I went from hardly managing myself to hiring a team of 50, and together, led the strategy & analysis that brought more than 20,000 farmers onto contract –surpassing my personal goal of 18,500, and well poised to double our current client base. I revamped and rolled out a new contract system, which had 99.8% accuracy (overall). My questionable trial to serve farmers better by seeing them less is proving to work – the district is on track (and currently surpassing) other districts in re-enrollment, repayment, and farmer knowledge retention. I continue to tackle new development points, and look forward to all of the challenges that my new position will bring.

And now, this one-year anniversary comes with an exciting announcement – I  will be moving into a senior management position by September 1st, and taking over the entire Field Operations (team of almost 150 individuals) to serve this season’s clients (estimate: 18-20,000 farmers). Talk about icing on the cake.

High-level Field Team: Family of Leaders

All the while, I've managed to also explore Malawi, Italy, Vatican City, Turkey (Istanbul), and Sri Lanka – as well as four of Tanzania’s best national parks, in the last 12 months. I’m currently en route to Cambodia to write my thesis; and eagerly looking forward to my state-side return come December.

I used to pine away for the sun to set at the end of each day in Muyenzi and the weekend to bring me closer to community, normality, and the mark of a new week. That feeling was similar in New York City. There, I was a survivor. Here, I pray that the week doesn’t sweep by me without my noticing again. I count time in brackets of weeks and months; which makes dates like January or next August seem just around the corner.

The truth is, I love what I do. It’s cliché, but it’s also true, and I want you to know that it’s very much possible to have it all: satisfying work, satisfying relationships, and time to travel (except money…but I’m young!) My work is challenging, but it is also insanely fulfilling. I’ve used my vacation time wisely, my weekends to my advantage, and am grateful for friends and a BF who never turn down the chance for an adventure.

I’m going to (slowly) get back to sharing the many paths I’ve explored in this past year –  as I simultaneously look ahead and plan the next few adventures.

xoxo,


M