Hello my Valentines, hope Tuesday was all it should have been for all of you. I am not and never have been a fan of this day (except for the chocolate – that’s the best) but 2017 is all about being different. I might have to learn to love love after all. So happy wishes to all from a brand new romantic. May you all roar.
Know this space isn’t for politics but be warned it’s going to come up for certain for me. Since I was a small girl, life has been about your stories, my stories, our stories. I think of my friend village as a collective of experiences and lifestyles. That’s going to open the door to sharing that in this space too as that rainbow is under some dark clouds.
Stay the course. It will always get back to the lions, the cows and all the places they live.
Life under the gun metal gray sky of January in my cow town always has been a bit soul crushing so headed south to see my Cuban family and the sun for a few days. Nothing warms the heart like a few days with all of them, doesn’t hurt that vitamin D shines down from the sky.
Here comes the politics. Scroll down if you want to skip it.
It’s hard to be a child of a political refugee that has at the same time never known a day of worry. If that was what my father wanted for his American girls, he got it. Leaving his beloved island for a new life in the land of the free, he guaranteed us, my sister and I, the chance to get all the way to middle age (almost) in safety and prosperity. That dream of his seems under attack. One side claiming victory for this and the other fighting like hell to expose that victory for all the misses and vulnerabilities. It’s complicated these days.
The loop that plays in my head is what if after being willing to give up everything, my father arrived at Miami Airport, where my plane will land in just a bit, and was sent back. My heart actually aches. I love my country, all of the faults and all of the amazing things that make us a resilient people but I am saddened at the direction immigration has taken these past weeks. I won’t get started on how I feel about being a woman. I do believe all lives matter but the reason that some need to cry from the rooftops that theirs do a bit more these days is that they feel they don’t, not at all. Not mention the wolves, the trees. It’s a strange and hard time.
So. Sunshine. Cafe con leche. Being with my family can heal any hurt. The fierce and passionate love of a Cuban, even this Cuban American, shines as brightly as a day in July.
Meanwhile…. plans firm for a return to East Africa. It’s a problem to leave one’s heart behind in a far away land. Love is not predictable. After years of joking around about it and having Cinderella style dreams about going to the life love ball, as cheesy as that may sound, I find myself at a life crossroads, one glass slipper in my hand and a real live prince out there with one in his. No one is more surprised than me. We will see what the fortunes hold for us. Faith and the ability to suspend my disbelief has never been more important.
Don’t be so surprised my readers, I promised more this 2017 year. I don’t have any travels on the horizon that I can share about yet – some ideas and some dreams are swirling in my mind. It won’t be a year to sit still for certain.
Today, I worked on my intention of kindness. Not on purpose – a sort of by accident. I was in the supermarket.
I am a smiler – gets me in trouble, crazy people approach me all the time but I cannot help it, I smile. I don’t want to be one of those crank pot old ladies with a grumpy face. Besides, I was born under the bright August sun – maybe I am moody and mercurial, my resting nature is sunny. It’s how I love, it’s how I deal – not on purpose, I shine a bit of sunshine around. It’s completely annoying to my cynical side and not for nothing, it’s a bit of a chore too. Not in a happy go lucky kind of way, goodness no. But sunny all the same.
You might as well all really get to know me this year – no more cryptic references and 30 year old stories – and for my friends and family who already do, stay the course. I care for my octogenarian year old sassafras of a mother. I didn’t plan this but this is anchor that keeps me in this cow town most of the year and why my wings cannot spread and fly me so so far away from here permanently – just now and again, more again please always. And so on Sundays, I need to go buy the food as the unintentional caregiver I have become. Don’t worry, I always buy her gin. It makes her happier. She’s old, don’t judge.
Back to the supermarket, smiling me first got a sweet old man to hand me coupons I didn’t need – he insisted. I turned them down three times but I took them and walked on. The market was humming with people and long endless check out lines. I chose one and the woman in front of me, dark circles under her eyes, frazzled was unloading her towering cart. No bagger, slow check out clerk – so she was bagging herself and left her still half full cart in front of me. So, I unloaded it for her, one of those selfless, selfish things we can opt to do. The person behind me thanked me, clearly we all were tired of the market. I offered her the coupons just because but she said no and then gave me another coupon instead that I could use. After she was done, I gave the old man coupons to the frazzled woman ahead of me because someone needed to take them. Weird paying it forward backwards moment. Why am I even telling you all this story which is nice but maybe a bit too much information and smidgen boring?
I am telling you all because it’s been a hard weekend and a hard 2016, it started hard, ended hard and sometimes, we all forget that the tiniest act of kindness can be like a butterfly wing’s beat, that flows out into the world like wind of goodness – kindness is sunshine on a winter’s day. Even my cynical heart believes in this concept (in a sort of fairytale I refuse to not believe it kind of way – I am complicated). And if it’s not under a foreign sky, I’ll accept the commonplace supermarket kindness kind of sunshine on a holiday Monday, 2017, on day two. You know why? Summer is invincible and it will always warm your soul.
And that dear readers, is #2 of of 2. Not so bad for a reformed blogslacker.
Happiest of New Year’s wishes to all.
2016: I promised stories. I promised pictures. I promised much. Unfortunately, I am not the best at sitting down and writing. I had a great year of travels to Martinique, Canada and my amazing and special time in East Africa this fall – as deeply in love with that land as ever.
2017: As always on Jan 1, I am feeling the pressure for something to appear here. Something meaningful, insightful to inspire and engage my ten regular readers (up from my four!!). Maybe a travel life blog wasn’t my best idea after all. Stay with me though. Perhaps this will be the year.
Here’s the deal. I am not a supporter of new year’s resolutions – I prefer intentions. So many intentions this year but really just one. My intention is to be kinder – to myself, to my body, to my people, my co-workers, to strangers.
Our world is on fire and certainly in the USA, it’s been a rocky fall. For me, despite some knocks, I am solid, I just need to do some rebuilding and some renovations on this house of mine.
So…. I started this year at yoga. They say you should do on day one of the year what you want to do all year. I want to be the person I am five minutes after class. I want to feel strong and relaxed. If I can hold on to this, I can handle the storm that swirls around my house, calmly and I hope kindly. There’s a bit more at stake this year for reasons I will share as I go along (I am 100% fine, just reasons, people).
A large part of 2017 is going to be showing up. I am showing up this year. I’m going to give it my best shot.
Still processing an amazing adventure. Came back to a country on fire. I will just leave you all with this snippet of a video of a Lutheran Choir practice in Karatu, Tanzania. A very special moment in the middle of my trip. Voices unite us all.
I write this on the shore of Lake Elementaita. Listening to the waves crash and the calls of the remaining flamingos. Most have moved on from here. Their food source depleted by pollution. Reality of conservation and sometimes lack of conservation. Kenya. A beautiful land facing such challenges to their north. Here in the south life goes on. And my trip back to East Africa carries on. No pictures can be shared yet. Come back in three weeks and I will add them. Dodgy wifi is the trade off to so much better. After all as it is said often TIA: this is Africa. I don’t know yet how to explain how this land speaks to me. It has a piece of my heart and always will. I don’t belong here forever but for a little while, cover me with dust, let me bump along the roads and visit the lions (and not for nothing a whole whole lot of cows).
(Update: added the lovely view! one by day and one by dawn)
“Africa has her mysteries and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them.”
Miriam Makeba (South African singer and civil rights activist)
Tomorrow it is – meanwhile, surrounded by piles of clothing, twists of plugs, missing adaptors, stray Euros, matchless socks, you’d hope that someday I get better at this part, the leaving.
Why do I go? Why must I go back? Zebras. No really, I travel because my mind gets too cluttered and being in new challenging places makes me a bit more honest with myself, helps me clear up the clutter in the face of the unknown. Who is the traveler in me that I meet on the road? She’s the best version of me now, I’d hope. The one who has an open mind, an open heart and let’s all she meets have a moment, even those on the hustle. I am not as good at that at home. I judge, I grouse, I get bogged down, I am petty on my bad days. The mystery of the unknown, unplanned makes it all better somehow.
I’ll try to update from out there but out there has spotty wifi. Be well, ten readers, thanks for reading, following along.