A Dose of Wedding Inspiration

Hey World,

Despite knowing I would always have a wedding to plan at some point, I came into this past year with truly NO idea on what kind of ambience I wanted to create on our wedding day.

Thanks to Pinterest, Southern Weddings, and a former Wedding Planner as a mom, I've been inspired from thousands of miles away for our NY reception! 

Because I want guests to be largely surprised, below are some images from my favorite weddings featured online which have inspired me. Disclaimer: I am making no promises for what September 17th is going to have in store {but it's going to be amazing}! 

xoxo,
M









Doing What You Love: Two Years In

Hey World,

It's nearly impossible for me to wrap my head around the fact that I started work here in Iringa TWO years ago (to the day!) 730 days. Whaaaaaaaat.  

Last year I wrote what being one year in felt like. This year, I'm going to try to show it. 


August brought me to Cambodia to try and read for + write my entire thesis in less than two weeks. Needless to say, I didn't quite finish the goal I set out but I wrote over 55 pages of academic text, and managed to get some early mornings exploring temples and local sites before 12+ hour days of reading and writing.  



In September, I got engaged to BG. He also moved out of Iringa to a new position in Rwanda, and I took over the Field Operations team of 150+ staff members and 17,000 clients. 



In September I also got to go on my first work trip to Kenya for an all Field-Ops meetup! I took taxis, drank apple pie smoothies, and got to meet people who do work similar to mine in all of our other operating countries. 

In October I visited Rwanda to see BG, and we saw chimps, giant ferns, and went on a sky-walk which nearly stopped my heart. 

November is always busy at work as we are delivering orders to our clients, but I managed a long weekend in Zanzibar with BG, and challenged myself to 30 days of Christmas Movies (which I won). Bruce also started rocking a Batman inspired collar which he was very proud of. 


December took me to Texas, where I visited where the magic of Beaver Nuggets happens, spent time with my future family (nieces & nephew included!), and got my first pair of authentic cowboy boots.


December also took me home for the first time in almost a year and a half, where I met my fur-brother Gimlet, froze my pants off, spent lots of time with family, and rang in NYE in my old haunt -- Washington DC!

January absolutely flew by as farmers finished planting, and I started counting how many books I could read in a year (30 and counting) and if I could run 365 miles in a year (epically failing at this one). 

 February brought me back to Rwanda for a long weekend, where BG & I took 48 hours to hike a volcano in the DRC! 


For spring, I also registered to vote abroad (which has been so satisfying!), put some blue in my hair, and started sending 2 or more snail mail love letters every month to random family & friends. 

In March I went on a girls-only weekend to Kitulo National Park here in TZ, which is known for its wildflowers. Only while camping with me would filet & carmelized onions & avo with horseradish mayo sandwiches be the norm...

In April we visited Slovakia....


Then Austria...


Then Slovenia, with a cheeky 12-hour visit to Venice tucked in there too. I've never seen more stunning mountains or bluer water in my life. 


In May BG got malaria in India (long story) and I went to rescue him in Goa. Immediately upon my return I hosted one of my college besties for a week here in TZ, and we spent a lovely weekend in Zanzibar! I also hired two new staffers to work on my team, both of whom are 100% invaluable and have helped me immensely. 


June started some serious house updates (think: plants, couches, curtains, paint, shelving, photos, art, potato masher...), and a busy busy season of enrolling new clients! 


In July we took an epic long-weekend trip to Oman: think sinkholes and wadis and deserts and camels and fending off constant dehydration...


So in the last year....

...I traveled to Cambodia, Kenya, Rwanda, United States, DRC, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Italy, India & Oman -- adding a total of seven new countries to my passport pages. 

...managed a huge team, and we have (so far) managed to keep most of our targets in line with expectations despite some staffing changes! I was also able to reward some hardworking people with promotions, which has been one of the best parts of my job so far. I've also managed to keep up-to-date blog on my company's intranet, so team members far and wide can keep up with Tanzania operations' happenings. 

...I did not finish my thesis. But I've made plans to finally finish in 2017, and get the diploma by May. 

...I got engaged to the guy who knows how to make buffalo sauce. We've planned our wedding, and three reception parties (NY, TX and TZ), and are within two months of saying "I do". He moved away, and then he moved back. We've renovated the house I still call home, and while there's always more to be done, we'll be next-to-finished by October!

...Bruce just keeps being Bruce. In the last twelve months he's learned where his bed is, how to retrieve a frisbee, and is 70% the way on how to lay down on command (biscuit required). He's gone through 4 fashion statements, gotten used to 3-4 different roommates, and ridden in a car without puking. 

...I decided I need to move back towards goal mapping in my personal life. At work I use an app called Things which has been a lifesaver, and I often review what my longterm and short-term work goals are, and where I stand in relation to them. Now it's time to pull myself together -- any tips you may have are recommended! 

Status Check:
I am still in love with my job. I am really excited for what is in store for the upcoming season, and the members of my team that I get to accomplish it all with! 
I am still in love with life outside of work -- I now have a permanent nights & weekends partner-in-crime to have adventures with, and a pup I love to keep me crazy when I have nothing else to worry about. 
I am still excited about the coming year. A wedding, three massive parties with all of my favorite people, a honeymoon. Year 0-1 as newlyweds, and finishing nesting in our first home. Also we have two of our best friends' weddings in our calendars, as well as a long list of potential travel plans. 

What has your last year included? What makes you excited about the year ahead? 


xoxo,
M

The Bruce Manifesto: A So-Full Heart

Hey World,

I've talked a little bit about my pup Bruce on this blog, like here when I adopted him, and again about a year ago when I was convinced he was a cat (you can read it here). 

Mr B has been an integral part of my life for now more than 18 months. I could go on and on about his silly, sassy (and I mean sassy!) self, but there are no amount of words that could accurately capture the goofball that he has become. 


What I can put into words is what it feels like to have a heart swell so full of love until it wants to burst. It hasn't exploded, but I don't want it to. I want to protect my so-full heart, and allow its weight to keep me grounded. 

I once wrote in an old post:
"Love can be deep. It can be all-encompassing; it can swallow you whole and become you - you will feel it be reflected in every thought and every movement. Love can manifest in hugs and together-time, in shared glances and whispered secrets. Love can wake you up in the middle of the night to glance sideways and make sure your love is alive. Love can disrupt your being, and love can give you a reason to feel alive."

With a year and a half of experience, I want to expand on that feeling:

Love can be a slow throb that you never forget is there. Love can be the confidence that this love won't be unexpectedly shattered. Love can be the lick that shocks you into awareness in the morning, or the wet snout near your pillow that welcomes you into slumber. Love can be the only worry you carry with you out the front gate, and reassure you as soon as you embrace once again. Love can be the pulsating rhythm that brings you from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, in an undulating, unwavering pattern. Love can be comfort in knowing you have someone waiting patiently to love you, whenever you are ready.  


Bruce lives each and every day with a beaming grin on his face. There is no greater gift to him than simple acts of kindness - a quick back-scratch, laying together on a sofa, or a singsong hello. 


He is a constant reminder in our house to live for love -- what greater purpose could we find than that?

xoxo,
M