Spending a Day With Smart, Global Innovators


Haw River
It’s early, early Friday morning. In a few hours I will be back at the SwitchPoint conference in Saxapahaw, North Carolina, a quaint, small town that is known for the global health innovators summit it hosts every year. SwitchPoint is a gathering spot for global change-makers who work to drive social change through data, or drones, or communications, or photography, among many other disciplines. I wrote a full post, Can Creative Innovators Drive Global Health and Humanitarian Change? about my first day at the conference in one of the most beautiful places in North Carolina on the Haw River.

Tomorrow I will take more photos. I always vow to take more photos when I am at events, but usually I rely too heavily on my phone. I’m putting a stop to that because I don’t want to miss a thing and I also want to share Saxapahaw in photos, not just words. The town is about twenty miles from Chapel Hill and has really grown into a destination of its own. The New York Times  even wrote a piece about the sleepy, little town in essentially the middle of nowhere.

I am attending SwitchPoint as a guest of IntraHealth International who I met last year on a trip to Tanzania where I saw some of their work with male circumcision that helps curb the spread of HIV. The presenter of SwitchPoint, IntraHealth International does innovative work with health workers in 100 countries. Working with IntraHealth International is really a full circle moment. I remember being in Zambia and seeing their offices in Lusaka in 2013. I wasn’t fully aware of everything IntraHealth International did at the time, but I knew I had heard about them and I recognized their logo. I am thrilled to now know more about their work!

I will say that I am excited about all of the talks we’ll hear tomorrow. I am equally excited about a scheduled field trip I am going to take to Saxapahaw’s brewery. If you read me often you know I love beer no matter where I am in the world. It’s my thing. I can’t wait to try Saxapahaw’s beer. And, of course, I will be taking photos.

 

Why This Is My Favorite Time of Year


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It is always amazing to me how beautiful spring is. After a very long winter all of the flowers and leaves come out and it’s wonderful to see — exhilarating really. Even though the years seem to fly by now and days and weeks blur together nature still reminds us that there is some rhythm to the world despite the changing climate and its effects.

I am really thankful for spring. It sounds rather cliché I know, but I look forward to this time of the year just as much as I look forward to the fall after a scorching summer. And, because time flies by so much (at least to me) I am trying to stop and notice life as it goes by instead of just waking up, working, traveling, writing, going to bed and repeating the routine over and over again. I’m doing this by posting more on Instagram (jenniferjames_) because it’s nice to look at your life in photos. I haven’t always been a fan of Instagram, but last year I realized that, yes, it’s definitely worth my time and a nice tool to help me reflect.

I also love the spring because generally this is the time of year when I start traveling again. My year is oftentimes filled with a lot of travel internationally and inevitably I vow to take months off from even getting on an airplane. So, spring is also my resurgence into traveling again and that makes me incredibly and unabashedly happy!

 

Beautiful spring day! #nature

A photo posted by Jennifer James (@jenniferjames_) on

It doesn't get any prettier than this. #spring #flowers

A photo posted by Jennifer James (@jenniferjames_) on

New leaves. #spring #beautifulday

A photo posted by Jennifer James (@jenniferjames_) on

Beautiful #spring #nature #love ❤ #flowers

A photo posted by Jennifer James (@jenniferjames_) on

Happy Spring! I hope it is getting warmer if you have been through a very, very cold winter. #flowers #nature #love

A photo posted by Jennifer James (@jenniferjames_) on

My New Year’s Goals Because I Don’t Believe in Resolutions


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I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions because I think there are just too many ways in which to break them. So I don’t even bother.

Instead I simply set clear and concise goals before the new year hits. Goals and resolutions are pretty much the same, but I am happy to work with goals because I can work towards them, tweak them in the middle of my journey, and then revel in the success when I have accomplished them. Or, even revisit them if I don’t reach one of my goals.

My goals this year are varied. I plan to travel more than last year even though I always vow to travel less. I also plan to read and write even more. Reading and writing go together. You can’t write well unless you read well. I wholeheartedly believe that. Always have. I already read an impressive amount (I really do!), but I want to start turning pages again instead of scrolling through endless Internet content.

One of the things I like about myself is I set fairly overarching goals for my life and then I leave ample room for new, short-term goals because you just never know what will come up or pique my interest in the months to come.

More than anything this year I look forward to spending more and more time with my family. My girls aren’t getting any younger and will be in college before I know it! I also look forward to traveling more and reporting more as I mentioned. Traveling keeps me on my toes and makes me work harder for the stories and the people I cover. I love it.

Happy New Year!

Photos: My Morning Walk


This morning I resisted every temptation I had to crawl back into bed and just curl up for most of the day. I’m proud of myself, friends. I got up and started my morning even though I am forcing myself to slow down for the remainder of the year. Emails have slowed down to a trickle and most projects have nearly finished, so I figure I need to take it easy, too, while I have the chance.

I decided to take a walk on this cold, dreary Sunday morning and get an espresso at Starbucks as one does when there’s one right around the corner! That means I won’t be dozing off anytime soon. I’ve taken this Starbucks walk a million times before so I challenge myself every time to find new photos to take. I know this walk like the back of my hand so finding something different to photograph is hard to do. Mainly nature catches my eye and, of course, obligatory Starbucks photos.

As I walked this morning I thought about how I have been home a little over a month since visiting the Philippines. Now, I am really itching to go somewhere new and embark on my latest adventure, wherever that takes me. Hopefully in January I will travel again and gather new stories. That’s what I really, really love to do!

In the meantime….Happy Sunday! I’m going to find a good book to read….

Birds of a feather

Bare trees

Holly

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I Miss Joan Rivers


When Joan Rivers died….I cried!

Yes, I did.

I admit it.

I cried like a baby…..and I couldn’t stop.

I really loved that woman and I never met her in my life.

Crazy…I know!

When my girls were really young and I would tuck them into bed I used to listen to the radio and for some reason I was able to get a clear feed from New York. I was able to listen to The Joan Rivers Show…. every weekday and I loved it!! Loved it and loved her! She gave me life!

She was great!

She was definitely a firecracker and a controversial figure. But she was never afraid to speak her mind. And that is what I really miss.

Where I’d Rather Be…


New York City

… in New York City!

I haven’t been to New York all year and I really, really miss Manhattan.

I think I took this photo in September of last year! That’s a long time in traveling years and too long to be away from NYC!

There was a time when I was in New York every other week just a few years ago. I was that busy! But, now as I spend most of my time traveling abroad, I am feeling that I cannot forget to travel a little north to the greatest city on Earth.

September can’t get here fast enough! 

Fingers crossed that I can get to New York and I am not on a plane with passport in hand and a new time zone to adjust to.

My Morning Walk


Every morning, the first thing I do almost immediately after I wake up is check my email. That’s not a good thing I’ve determined, but I can’t seem to shake the habit. I’m not sure I ever will or even if I want to. For the most part I do enjoy email until it gets overwhelming which is more often than not.

One thing is certain, I am too tied to my devices. I need to back away from them from time to time. I do take some time (although limited) to just walk and think and get away from technology for a moment. Today was one of those days. Instead of making coffee at home this morning, I walked to Starbucks and appreciated all of the loveliness along the way.

It’s a rare moment when I stop long enough to notice the flowers and the trees. It’s definitely something I need to do more often especially before summer ends. This morning I felt a slight nip in the air. It was lovely. That signals to me that fall is really just around the corner even though it will be nearly 100 degrees for much of August.

I’m glad I chose this morning to take a walk and clear my mind for a bit. It was good for my soul.

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