Tag Archives: Beauty

Present Over Perfect

So I’m reading this amazing book “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist and it’s really got me thinking. I was drawn to it because lately I’ve been trying to practice and be in the present. It’s always been difficult for me to live in ‘the now’. I tend to live in the future because I’ve always operated from a get shit done mentality. However, when I’m sad or lonely I revert to nostalgia and my past. 

I’m only a quarter through this book and holy shit I feel like a lot of it was written through me. Ok, maybe not the parts when she references being a mother and her kids and husband but damn. 

Here’s the thing… there was some divine intervention that happened in February. I lost my job and was forced to slow down. Slowing down made  sure the ice that we’ll call numbness melted. The ice was the shield of anything that got in the way of me operating at a gazillion miles an hour. With it melting it made me look at what was left underneath the water of the melted thick block of ice. It truly made me take inventory of where I was currently at. So where was I? Let me remind you. I was lost, scared, confused, lonely, sad, grateful, relieved, stressed. I was all those things and then some. My world felt pretty bleak and so so gray.

It’s now about to be September. I’ve felt even more emotions since then if you can believe it. But where I am now.. presently I’m in a place that feels new and true and challenging and beautiful and bright and authentic and right. This is where I need to be. I’m in a place of acceptance and love and openness and growth and curiosity. I’m digging in deep of the crevices of past hurt that I stifled for so long. I’m grieving. And in doing so I’m cultivating new ways of being. What used to serve me no longer serves me. 

I liken it to the metaphor of a snake shedding its skin. I want to rid myself of all this old skin, these parasites (ideas, behaviors, habits) that don’t serve me. It’s a rebirth of sorts. 

I’m really excited to get back to who I really am and who I want to be. I’m finally ready to start loving myself in all my perfect imperfections and I’m so grateful to be able to remake my life from the inside out and unfold all the goodness along the way. 



I’ve had a pretty emotionally charged year and there is no sign of it ending anytime soon. I keep being reminded by all the powers that be (ie my coach, my therapist, my friends, the universe…) that I am exactly where I need to be.

Only in the last few weeks have I really felt the comfort in being present. Mind you, I’m still not completely 100% comfortable with ambiguity and not being “there” yet, wherever “there” is. However, I do feel like I am where I need to be. There are things I’m now consciously working on to alter my mindset and the toxic stories I’ve told myself over my lifetime that no longer serve me.

I am now an emotionally equipped adult with the aptitude, the insight, and the wherewithal to make sound moral and healthy choices. I have to tell myself that. I’m not dependent on these stories and beliefs that I learned to survive as a child. I want to be free of these harmful beliefs because I want to be the best version of me. I want more for myself. I know I can be better.


This is huge guys. I’m in a place where I am consciously aware and practicing daily how to negate bad thoughts and bring in positive ones. I’m learning how to trust myself, the process, and the universe.

When I started this year I decided my work was TRUST.

It’s so fitting. I’ve made peace with saying goodbye to friendships that no longer serve me. I had to trust in the fact that I lost my job (for political reasons) so that I could make space for something better. That space has allowed me to really look inside myself and start the real work. I’ve been ‘working’ for years on myself. But this shit I’m currently working on is deep. It’s digging through my soul’s crevices and dark corners to bring shit to light I’ve tried so hard to suppress and ignore.

Looks like you can’t really get over anything until you really get into it and fucking feel it. Huh. Imagine that.

When I become present I see the magnificence in it all and I feel more connected. Not just internally. When I say connected I mean connected to the world. To life. To everything that’s bigger than me and us.

I am exactly where I need to be.

With all that I am learning I’m also trying to prioritize myself. That means listening to what I really need. I’ve historically been the doer and the over-extender. The one that made other people feel special to show them the magnitude of how much i really love them. A part of me feels that in doing all these things I will get love in return.

The fact is. People will love me if they want to and it’s completely out of my control.

It’s been exhausting. I kept waiting for my turn while still over extending. It doesn’t usually come and that’s ok. Because frankly, this was my shit. People love me in the way they know how. And if I’m going to be honest I have a lot of love in my life. I choose to act in ways I thought I had to for love.

Looks like I have other choices.

I’m going to put my Self  first. I want to give myself all the love I give out. I know that this will be uncomfortable for a lot of people. For example: when one decides that a friendship doesn’t serve them anymore people will have thoughts and feelings behind it. That’s ok. If these people with these sentiments love you they will respect your decision even if it changes dynamics and status quo.  Ask me if you need more examples. I have them.

It’s tough to feel like I’ve disappointed others. I’m working through this whole ‘prioritizing myself’ thing and all the super charged feelings and reactions I have to things.

Just know that by being a better me I will be a better friend, better sister, better partner, better worker. Trust.


Those things called feelings

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s mainly because I haven’t set time for myself to do the things I want to do. But it’s also because I’ve been so caught up in work. My work days are long. I get in anytime from 8:30 – 9:15, work through lunch at my desk, and leave anytime from 6:30-8PM. Some nights after work I have clients. Those days are extra long.

I haven’t been able to find a balance between work and my coaching certification program and it’s bumming me out. This program costs a lot of money and has provided me such value in so many ways. It’s changed my perceptions on a lot of things. I’m sad I’m not able to give it the attention it deserves especially because it’s so important to me.

I’ve been a bit out of sorts the last couple of months. I”m struggling to find balance and feel grounded while dealing with the loneliness that has crept up out of the woodworks. I had to cancel a trip to go to Tahoe for a wedding that was planned the end of this month. Durring that trip I was going to layover in the Bay and visit with my people. Although it wasn’t the impetus for feeling lonely it was the impetus for being homesick and hasn’t helped. I haven’t seen my friends and family since last Christmas. This is the longest I’ve been without them.

I’m realizing New York is a tough place to build solid connections. I’m realizing the type of friendship some of the people I was close to can offer to me is not one that satiates my needs. It’s not the same kind of friendship I give. So, I’m reevaluating some things. It’s neither right nor wrong. It’s just reality and it’s unfortunate. But in that conviction there’s strength in setting boundaries. Silver linings.

People here are focused on making it, whatever that means to them. Because the sole focus is self serving it’s difficult for real empathy or depth.

It’s strange and not directly tied to competition but I do think there is a correlation. Because of the self serving factor the competition here in New York is one of a different kind. It’s not comparing yourself to Joe Shmoe or keeping up with the Jones’. It’s more of an undertone that is self imposed. Since the focus is primarily on getting ahead and ‘resume building’ there’s no time for human connection. To build relationships with real substance I truly believe one needs to possess empathy and self awareness.

Maybe the struggle of self awareness and empathy in a city so big are the determining factors in a balanced life here in New York. If you can make it here you can make it anywhere. How many times have you or I heard that saying? New York City is like a jealous lover continuously testing to see how far it can push you to the edge. It’s temperamental. Sending you so many good omens one day causing everything to feel seamless. The next day it’s making you feel like the ground is shaking from under your feet knocking you down while taunting you to get back up again.

That electric buzz that this city pulsates is feeling more to me like a burning energy to keep pushing. Everyone seems to be creating the same type of energy and in someway it manifests itself as New York City’s vibrancy.

I’ve bore witness to how people approach relationships and it seems to be very surface level. There are a lot of brilliant entrepreneurial people with crazy grit in the start up world. It’s why I enjoy being in this space so much. I love to feel like I’m part of the movement. As if I were invited to the party exclusively.

Yet, somehow along the way I’ve lost my footing and I don’t quite feel like I belong.

There’s a lot surrounding that.

I’ve been battling feelings of ineptitude and anxiety. In coaching we use the term saboteur a lot. It means one’s self sabotaging inner voice; the inner critic, if you will. My saboteurs have been working overtime ever since I started this job. I have such a strong need to persevere and feel accomplished. I don’t know what I’m trying to prove to myself but the idea of it is looming over me. I realize I’m the hardest on myself. I don’t always champion myself when I need it the most.

Isn’t it funny how that works. I have a great sense of pride in what obstacles I’ve personally had to overcome yet sometimes I just don’t feel like I’m good enough. It’s absurd. I’m narrating a story to myself that I’m giving truth to where there is none.

I wanted to share with you all where my head is at. Apologies, if this post is scattered or hard to follow. Things aren’t always easy. I’m in a pretty deep funk at the moment. I needed to write. When you get things out of your head they don’t seem as weighty anymore. This is why writing is such a great release.

Life ebbs and flows. But the one thing about change is that it’s always constant. So although I may feel this way right now I can change my perspective tomorrow. One thing that will forever remain are my feelings of gratitude. I continue to make choices for myself. Not everyone gets the privilege nor the right to do so.

I’m taking love, good vibes, and virtual hugs. They’re not for nought. When you send them I feel them. And should any of you be so inclined to visit or want to grab a drink and meet to build I would be more than happy to do so. There’s something really beautiful about human connection and building.

Thank you.


Community and cultural learning – Part II

I mentioned in my last post that we visited a local tribe for a day. It was such a cool experience. Because of the distance and the full agenda we didn’t volunteer that day. We packed ourselves in our 2 big vans and headed off into the mountain to a town called Marangu.

The Chagga tribe are one of the largest ethnic groups in Tanzania and they’re predominantly located in the mountains of Kili. The have a long history of war with other chieftans and neighboring tribes like the Maasai. They live in the slopes of the mountains thus being in a favorable area for agriculture because the climate is typically rainforest and dense. The Chaggas mainly produce maize, beans, bananas, and coffee beans. Apparently, Arabica coffee is a huge trade export from this region.

Our first stop was to go see a blacksmith. The men had also made these cool spears below. They actually used spears like these back in the day.












Our next stop was the Chagga market. Lots of dried fish and bananas. Also a lot of materials for kangas (traditional women’s pieces of cotton fabric with a pattern and a saying that is tied into skirts or dresses).

Fellow volunteer Kadir bargaining











During the times of war with the Maasai in the 1800s the Chagga tribe developed a brilliant system of defense.

The Maasai tribe live in the lower plains of the country where the climate is dry. They invest in their livestock and cows are their prized possessions. (I will get more into the Maasai tribe in a later post). There was a time when there was a drought in the region causing the  Maasai to raid the mountains for resources. They resorted to brutality and force. Aside from taking their resources they would kidnap boys/men to turn them into slaves. They would take young girls/women and rape them to reproduce the Maasai blood. After the women had 3/4 kids within a short timespan of a few years they would then kill them because they had no further use for them.

After continuously being pillaged for resources and people the Chaggas started building caves underground in the mountains to stay safe from the Maasai. Ironically enough, this idea originated from Turkey and was passed to the Maasai people but it was the Chaggas and not the Maasai that put it into place. These caves had long tunnels and not only housed the people but also their livestock. To ensure the cows wouldn’t make noise to give way on location they would be fed volcanic ash to keep them thirsty and by drinking so much they would not produce any sound and eventually pass out.

It took 2 generations to build this ingenious system of caves and tunnels. Many Chaggas continued to die during that time but they were very smart and found ways to defeat the Maasai. They trained guards in the different dialects so they could speak the Maasai language. (This was all before Tanzania was nationalized into one language. The Maasai and the Chagga spoke bantu languages)

Within the beginning of the tunnels they had security posts where 3 men would be waiting. As the first Maasai would come down they would be clubbed by one then dragged off by another. The Maassai would then be told by the Chaggas in their own language to go down slowly and low because the tunnels were just getting more narrow. The Maasai would continue to come down one by one and continue to get clubbed. If they cried out the others above would think it was because they must have hit their heads. Each one would be clubbed and dragged off eventually to be chopped into pieces and thrown down another tunnel that lead to the river. Because the Maasai never found any remnants of bodies they would just assume the others that went down just vanished.

The Maasai also thought to smoke out the Chagga people by poison. They would find the opening of the hidden entrances that led underground and hold the toxic powders and fan them into the ground. Quickly the Chagga men would grab cow hides to prevent the fumes for going into the tunnels. They had also built holes for ventilation within the caves so that the everyone else deep in the tunnels didn’t have any issues breathing. During this time most of the Chagga people below didn’t even know this was going on. The Maasai would do this for a week. Once they stopped they assumed the Chaggas were dead and went down below only to be killed by the guards and cut up and sent down the river.

There were thousands of Maasai killed during this time. Even though there is a war history between the 2 tribes they coexist and continue to trade today.

It’s amazing how brilliant the Chagga were in defending themselves and their people. They built a spectacular system that allowed them to preserve their tribe and their culture.

We were able to tour one of the caves that still exist today. None of the caves are inhabited by people. They are just there as a reminder of what was the past. A lot of the caves have been closed off due to natural progression of the mountain. You can see in one of my pictures below that there are roots growing below the cave.




The entrance below would be covered by tree branches, leaves, etc



These stairs were added for tourist use





Below is where the 3 guards would stay and wait to club the intruders







The below huts are where the Chagga resided above ground. It was typical for the animals to be in the hut with them.






After the tour of the caves we got down and brewed some delicious Arabica coffee directly from the coffee bean plants on the grounds.














Once we finished our coffee we drove to the waterfall. I didn’t anticipate that it was going to be quite a hike down to the waterfall. In my naive little mind I thought we were going to make a stop get out of the van and take pretty pictures. That’s not what happened. We had to earn the pretty pictures. I won’t lie and say the hike was fun for me. I’m very fearful of heights; moreso falling from such great heights. I did have a panic attack on my way down. I had to talk myself off the literal and figurative cliff as we descended. There was even a very steep area that a guide was stationed to help people down.








Sisters Mary Grace and Nicole. Nicole was one of my roommates

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Much happier going up and with actual steps.


One of my other roomies Beth


It was such a wonderful day rich with culture, beauty and fun.



Our drive home was serene and just as beautiful. What a day, indeed.IMG_0223_3




These beautiful kids

When signing up for CCS and going over the website there is an abundance of information available. It can get a bit overwhelming. There is info on the homebase, the staff, info on what to pack, there’s a forum for posts on past alumni with tips and shared experiences etc. When you fill out the forms you’re able to highlight your skillsets and request specific volunteer opportunities. I knew when I signed up that all I wanted to do was work with the younger kids. I love being around children, they bring me so much joy. It’s amazing how all they require is love and patience and they are so content and happy.

Prior to leaving for Africa I knew my placement was at Presbyterian nursery school. I was aware that the kids would be from ages 3-7. There was not too much else I knew. I found out during intros and orientation that 2 other volunteers would be at the same school. It was helpful that after our orientation and lunch we were introduced to some of the teachers at the schools to become acquainted and help establish a relationship and talk out any concerns while setting expectations. It was great that we did so as us volunteers were quite a bit nervous and had no idea what to expect. We met one of the teachers, Mama Frida, and her son Ahobokile who helped assist at the school on occasion. Mama Frida didn’t speak fluent English but her son was able to translate. The main take away I got from our meeting was that we were to focus on English and basic math/counting and that there would be lots of singing! Mental notes of old nursery songs ensued..

Although the nursery school is under the church it is open to all children of different religious beliefs and was established in 2010. It has 3 classrooms of up to 150 kids total during the school year. The kids are to wear purple uniforms but some families may not be able to afford them so some kids wear what they have. While I was there 2 teachers were present, Mama Frida and Madame Eva, and there was probably around 45+ kids in attendance depending on the day. The classes are divided into the ‘baby class’ and the bigger kids who were 5-7. Some days I was with another volunteer, Kelsey, in the baby class in one classroom. Most days I had the more advanced of the younger kids, the 4 year olds in my own classroom. I’ll get into that craziness another time… Every day there is porridge served around 11AM.

While it was our summer it was nearing the end of their winter rainy season. Given that most of the kids walk to school not everyone was in attendance as the rain deters. Unfortunately, the biggest need is during their summers as there are more students but there aren’t that many volunteers.

I was hoping that by the time I arrived in Tanzania the sun would be ready and consistent. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as it rained on and off. It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t ideal as when you have with a lot of kids at such a young age the want is to play and to especially play outside in the sunshine.


The educational system is Tanzania is as follows:

  • Nursery school/pre primary: 4-6/7 year olds
  • Primary school: 7 – 13
  • Secondary: Must pass an english exam to be eligible for Secondary school, 14 – 17 year olds
  • Secondary Advanced: 17-19
  • University: 3 or more years

Our workdays started early. We would leave homebase at 7:30 am. There were 24 volunteers and 2 big vans. A larger group than I expected. Typically school starts at 8 AM and ends at 12PM. Because we had such a big group of volunteers some of us would get there before or after 8  depending and get back after 12.











Can I just say I’ve never taught before. With that said I’ve been around kids a lot of my life. I don’t have a big immediate family but I have a huge extended family. My mom is the oldest of 11! And although they’re for the most part in the Philippines growing up there were always a lot of kids around. Teaching kids though? A whole ‘nother story in it’s own.





The first day we were doe-eyed and eager. We met Eva and were so relieved to know Mama Frida. The kids showed immediate excitement when we arrived. They were already in the classroom and in the midst of songs. The greeted us with wide beautiful smiles and such happy faces eager to please. Every morning as the school day begins Madame Eva says a prayer, has the children join her in another prayer and goes over a verse from the bible the kids recite throughout the week.

My first day I had a very special moment. Let me preface this by saying that although I grew up catholic and attended a private school from kindergarten to 8th grade I don’t consider myself to be a very religious person. I do consider myself to be spiritual. My beliefs are that of my own and I probably lean more towards a Buddhist way of religious thought if any at all. I don’t believe in the need to advertise or preach to others one’s own religious/spiritual beliefs. My relationship with God is that of my own. I am openminded to other’s beliefs although I feel religion separates. Which given history seems to be the purpose. I don’t feel that we as humans need more ideas of thought to separate. With all that’s going on in the world right now what we need is compassion and unity. Anyways, that’s neither here nor there.


Back to my sentiment..

That morning on the first Monday of volunteering at my placement I felt something so beautiful and so much more powerful that I can explain. I’ve felt this before. The best way I can explain it is that I felt so humbled to the fact that in that moment I felt that there was a divine power so much greater than me; so much greater than I could explain. It was comforting and full and overtook me. I guess what it felt like was pure love. I don’t know how to explain it better than that. It was love and it was incredible. Eva was leading the kids in prayer in swahili and everyone had their hands up to the heavens and I was getting teary eyed as I did the same. In that moment things felt right. There’s a certain peace in succumbing to the fact that I am just a tiny spec in the universe and that there is a greater power so much bigger than me and so unexplainable.

These beautiful kids and my very short time in Tanzania thus far were already teaching me so much. I couldn’t wait for more of what was to come.