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!

7 of My Favorite Food Moments in Ethiopia This Year


At the end of every year I tend to write a lot of recap posts so I can easily catapult myself into the new year, be a little reflective,  and also so I can remember everything I’ve done and want to improve upon the next year. I traveled a lot this year for which I am extremely grateful!  I spent most of my time abroad in Ethiopia. Who knows where I will travel to in 2015, but April and June of this year were mostly spent in one of my favorite countries in the world. Even though I haven’t seen nearly all of Ethiopia (which I very much intend to do!) I have seen a great deal of it in Addis and its surrounding area, the south to Arba Minch through the Great Rift Valley, and even the northern part of the country on Lake Tana.

I associate a lot of my memories in Ethiopia by what I ate and drank because the coffee and beer are so very good and so is the food! I love that you can easily find vegetarian meals if you’d like because so many Ethiopians fast from meat and dairy and I even love that you can find some pretty decent Ethiopian wine if you look hard enough.

Here are a few of my photos of some of my favorite moments in Ethiopia involving food. I can’t wait to go back. I miss it already!

Washington, Dulles (IAD)

I have my own little beloved ritual every time I fly Ethiopian Airlines out of Dulles. I eat sushi at my favorite Japanese spot in the airport and drink a cold bottle of Sapporo. I love this place because none of the sushi is premade. I sit and watch the sushi chef meticulously make my food to order.  I look forward to this every time I fly to Addis!

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Hotel Harmony (Addis Ababa,  Ethiopia) 

When the International Reporting Project trip I planned was over in June I took a quick trip to Johannesburg and then back to Ethiopia and spent a day and a half in Addis Ababa. After nearly two weeks spent with a team of nine journalists, two translators, one fixer, countless drivers, NGO liaisons, and IRP staff I couldn’t believe I found myself in Addis all by myself. This was my first dinner alone.

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Lewi Hotel and Resort  (Hawassa, Ethiopia) 

One early morning I got up at the Lewi Hotel and Resort in Hawassa, ordered a cappuccino, and just sat quietly and looked out at the lake. It was blissful before a busy day! It’s really hard in the midst of work to stop and reflect. I did more of this in 2014.

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Lake Hawassa

 

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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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Photos: Flowers + Macchiatos #Ethiopia


For the past few weeks the news has been utterly insufferable. It’s just been really bad – there’s no eloquent way to say it. Bad! In fact, I needed to back away from my laptop last week because the news was a little too much to bear.

I am the type of person who reads as much as I can. I get my news from curated Twitter followers, Flipboard, Facebook (from time to time), and my daily rounds of the major US and UK newspapers and magazines.

Now that I think about it, that may be a bit much! 

So, in honor of how much I need to just get away from the 24-hour news cycle again, behold: flowers + macchiatos from Ethiopia. And a great song at the end.

Flowers  in the Southern Highlands - Ethiopia

Flowers in the Southern Highlands – Ethiopia

Double Macchiato - Addis

Double Macchiato – Addis

Flowers in Hawassa

Flowers in Hawassa

Macchiato at Radisson BLU Addis

Macchiato at Radisson BLU Addis

Flowers in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Flowers in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Traditional Cup of Ethiopian Coffee

Traditional Cup of Ethiopian Coffee

Flowers in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Flowers in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Double Macchiato at Coffee House, Addis

Double Macchiato at Coffee House, Addis

Wild Flowers - Great Rift Valley - Ethiopia

Wild Flowers – Great Rift Valley – Ethiopia

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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Fluffy Trees and Ethiopia is 48 Hours Away


It’s Sunday. 48 hours from now I will be en route to Addis Ababa. I’ll be in Africa until July. That’s a long time, but I’ve done it enough now to know the days fly by in one big whirlwind. I’ll be there and then the next thing I know I’ll be home. That fast!

Today is a day for me to rest, but most importantly remember to bring everything I’ll need when I’m in Ethiopia. Inevitably, no matter how prepared I am and how many times I look at my lists, I always forget something. Last time I went to Ethiopia in April, I forgot my travel adapters and I had to buy another one at the airport. In fact, I have a ton of travel adapters just because I always forget to pack mine when I’m traveling abroad. They’re packed now.

This morning, we got up early to take photos of this amazing tree we see when we’re out running. I have no idea what it is. We just call it the “fuzzy tree”. I know, very scientific!  To me it’s oddly ethereal and as long as I’ve lived in the south (my entire life!) I’ve never seen it before.

This tree has lost a little of its spring newness since the first time we noticed it last week. That’s why we rushed to take photos today before the flowers are all gone. And certainly by the time I get back home next month it will only be bark, twigs, and leaves. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Do you know what this tree is? We saw one in pink and white.

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

A little listening…

Ethiopia Dispatches: Days 4 and 5


*** Day 4, Thursday April, 10, 2014

When I woke up on Thursday morning I peeked out my tightly drawn curtains (I was trying to get some much-needed rest) and saw the sun shimmering across Lake Tana in all its splendor. It was beautiful. But, by the time I finally got downstairs to depart for my day in Bahir Dar the shimmer of the sun had faded away quickly, but the lake was still quite gorgeous.

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I am still attempting to wrap my mind around how big Ethiopia is. Friends, it is huge! It’s a country of 93 million people and the sheer size of the country is mind-blowing. How do I know? Because I am working on logistics for the rest of my time in Ethiopia in order to make sure I get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. There are some challenges, but I love an overground adventure!

After getting back from Bahir Dar on Thursday I immediately threw open my hotel windows in Addis  to hear the hustle and bustle of  the city below. There is always something going on in Addis like most capital cities.

Addis  Below

 

 *** Day 5, Friday, April 11, 2014

On Friday I had four office meetings and two site visits with NGOs. It was an intense day for sure, but full of fantastic possibilities for June. I hired a taxi driver for the day to take me around the city and wait as needed as my meetings were scattered throughout Addis.

It has been extremely nice having so many helpful NGO contacts in the States that have Ethiopian headquarters. It makes my life easier when I am in the planning stage. Global offices are in touch with each another. We all get to know one another. It’s perfect!

When I have traveled before I have never taken the time or energy to get a local number for the country I am visiting. But, in this case, having a local phone is imperative. I have loved being able to call and text my, now very many, contacts instead of having to rely on getting to Wi-Fi and reading my emails.

Tomorrow will one of my last days in Addis until the end of my trip where I will stay in the city to attend more meetings, meet more people, and iron out important details.