Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Replacement

Several weeks ago, a dear friend of mine came to visit and say goodbye. As a fellow PCV, she was asking me about how I was feeling about leaving soon... and bless her heart for asking, but everything just spilled out at once. Vocalizing the things that I knew made the feelings that much more real, and so, I cried with her as I told this story. 

This helps to explain the difficulty in me leaving. 

* * * * * 

Before any PCV arrives at their new site, the organization they are placed with is required to help secure proper housing. The nurse-in-charge at my clinic desperately wanted a PCV, but there was no clinic housing available. Because of this, she had to find private housing and asked her family if they would be willing to rent their house for two years. Lucky for me, they agreed, and I was scheduled to arrive on June 12, 2012. 

Well, one week before my arrival, the woman who owned the house, Monica, passed away. They had the funeral for her the weekend before I arrived. I was unaware of the death until weeks later, leaving me bright-eyed and excited about moving in with a family. I did what I know best: I just loved. And played. And shared. I became a part of their family, slowly but surely. 
me in front of my house
I was new and exciting to them. I was something that distracted them. And together, we grew as a family. 

After learning about Monica's death, I asked the family what she was like. She was young (I think late 40's early 50's?), loved the kids, was very active, and missed by everyone. She sounded like a wonderful ray of sunshine, and I felt so grateful to be living with the family she loved so dearly. 

Then ever so gradually over the two years, I became the replacement. The replacement daughter. The replacement sister. The replacement auntie. The replacement mother. 
some of my beautiful family
I filled the gap - however imperfectly - for each of them, in some capacity. 

My granny calls me her daughter - and boasts to everyone about how much she loves me and how much I help her. My sisters share their life stories with me - asking me for advice along the way. My kiddos come knocking on my door each day - Bula boitshepo (open the door, boitshepo!)... wanting to play. 

And now, after two delightful, yet challenging years, I've left them in Kang with the house empty for the first time. My sister sent me a message saying, "U cum nd make us proud nd I forget the loss of mi mum,,,now is hurting me".

The house is finally empty, and I'm moving on to a new chapter of my life. The Peace Corps has been everything I wanted it to be and more...

* * * * *

This morning was rough, to say the least. I left tears on everyone's shoulders. Granny wiped the tears from my eyes, my kiddos held my hands and walked me to the clinic, and I was sincerely touched by everyone who came to see me off. We all smiled at each other through our tears.
my little humans
And little Romeo was the last to give me a hug - - and he says in my ear, "Boitshepo, Ke batago doga." (I want to go with you.) While tears streamed down my face, I gave him another hug and kiss, then said, "Tshameka, ni ni. Ke da go go bona kgantele. Teboga!" (Go and play, ni ni. I will see you later. Run!) And with that, he took off smiling and running to catch up with the rest of the family.

I'll see you all again soon, I promise.
You're all a part of me. 
Boitshepo o le rata lotlhe. 
Sala sentle, ritsala tsame. 

Love & Light, 

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Labor of Love

I just can't get over what an incredible family I have. 

I am SO grateful for each and every little thing that you do. And I am SO proud to call you my family. 

Reve (my sweet stepfather) decided he was going to make reusable sanitary pads for the girls in my village. He got the templates to make the cloth pads from an NGO called Days for Girls... and he went to town! He recruited help from my mom and my aunt terry as well. They worked tirelessly to track down fabric, sew for hours on end, and ship these beautiful homemade kits to Botswana. 

After long discussions of selecting the right girls, I had the chance today to distribute 44 Days for Girls Kits to girls at my Junior Secondary School (the other 6 went to women in my family here). The girls who were selected were identified as the ones most in need.. orphans, students registered with the social work office, etc.  I sincerely wish my family could have been here to see the twinkle in their eyes and their excitement to receive these homemade treasures! 

happy girls! 
It was a long process... and very well worth it! These girls now have reusable pads that will last for years with proper care. Many of these girls face economic issues on a daily basis, so this is just one less thing for them to have to worry about. The girls thanked me profusely, wanted me to pass along my thanks to my family & everyone left with a smile on their face. 

photos with the girls who received the kits and their teacher who helped me organize the distribution!
THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone involved in making such a big difference in the lives of these young women! 

Love & Light, 

God-Given Cheerleaders

This evening when I set out for a run, I was feeling a bit down. I'm bummed to leave this place and start a new chapter... so my mind fills up with all kinds of worries and insecurities. I felt tired before even leaving for my run, so I expected my mid-run slump. But the more I started to feel like quitting, and the more I worried about the future, the more surprises I received. 

God-Given Cheerleaders. 

Tiny humans kept running out from their houses to greet me, yelling, "DUMELA, BOITSHEPO!" Friends kept appearing along the way to share good news about their business I helped them start. The sky was changing colors to paint a vibrant mural for me. My beautiful village was giving me the strength I needed to carry on and to know I've made a difference here. 

It was delightful. 

I was reassured that God has - and always will - provide me with the cheerleaders I need to keep me going. And that is a beautiful thing. 

Thank you to all my cheerleaders out there, you know who you are. 

Love & Light, 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bana Bame

Bana Bame,

Moving away from Botswana will be very difficult for me, since this means we will be very far apart. But I want you to remember something: I’ll always carry memories of you close to my heart.

I watched you grow. I held your hands as you learned to walk. I experienced joy when I heard you say my name for the first time. I kissed your boo-boos, took care of you when you were sick, handed out endless amounts of band aids and sweets, and I smiled down at you when you fell asleep in my arms. I shared all my meals, played with you in the yard, colored pictures with you, and read you the same book over and over again. I forced you to ask nicely for things, give high fives, hugs and kisses. I helped you with homework, taught you to cook, and encouraged you to ask questions about the world around you.

You knew exactly how to turn my bad days around, subtly helping me find the beauty in each day. You didn’t like to be disciplined. You didn’t like picking up your toys. You knocked on my door each and every day asking to play. You taught me how to be thankful for what I have. You challenged me and showed me what love was all about. You invited me to be a part of your life. You asked endless amounts of questions and you learned some questions don’t have clear answers. You met my friends and you loved playing with my kitty. You were eager to help with anything I was doing.

We are a family. We have fun together. We are partners in crime. We make mosadi mogolo laugh, and sometimes I think we annoy her too :o) We nap together. We laugh until our tummies hurt. We sit on the floor and drink tea. We snuggle on cold days and learn new vocab words. We make big messes in my house and then we clean it up. We are a team. We love each other.

Bana bame, ke ratjago thjathja. Thank you for loving me, too. You’ll always be a part of me.

Boitshepo ya go

* Bana bame, ke ratjago thjathja (My children, I love you very much)

* Boitshepo ya go (your Boitshepo)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Let's Talk About Sex

One year of planning, $2,500 from donations, 50 village women, 4 counterparts, 5 Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV’s), 2 venues, a healthy dose of stress, a splash of last minute meltdown… Stir to mix well. Bake for four days in sweltering 100 degree Kalahari sun and what you have is 50 vocal and empowered women! 

GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) camps are trĂ©s popular in the Peace Corps world; they are wonderful events to put on and be a part of. Hundreds of girls throughout Botswana have been energized and empowered, but what about their mothers and grannies? In a grown up style GLOW camp, five PCV’s empowered adult women from the Kgalagdi North District in two villages over four days. Let’s Talk About It: Leadership and Empowerment for the Next Generation as it was a mammoth achievement for us! 

It all started one year ago in the village of Tshane during a Month of Youth Against AIDS event. A community discussion and panel were being held when a mosadi mogolo (old woman) stood up and said, “We don’t know how to talk to our kids about HIV/AIDS.” The old woman talked a little bit more about the cultural practices when she was growing up and how they don’t address current problems. The brain storming began that evening over pizza and wine. 

Because Kgalagadi North is a large sparsely populated district, we decided on two separate workshops, one in Kang to cater to Kang and the surrounding area and one in Hukuntsi for women from Lehututu, Tshane, Lokgwabe and Hukuntsi. Each workshop would be two days long- a full day on Friday then a half day on Saturday so the women could still spend time with their families. 

What about funding? Initially we wanted fund our workshop 100% locally. After several unsuccessful meetings with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture we decided that a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) would be our best choice. For the 25% community contribution required by the PCPP, we used donations in the form of labor and materials. It took months to get the PCPP on the Peace Corps website, but within two months we had P19, 000 pula in our bank account! We were ready to go!

The basis of the workshop was to give women knowledge (and power) to share the information they learned with their families and communities. For sustainability, we chose to make a notebook full of information for each woman to take home and share. Several boxes of wine, a pan of enchiladas, 10 glues sticks, and countless paper cuts later, we had 55 notebooks full of handouts and space for note taking. Making the notebooks was a labor of love, and it was cheaper than buying binders. 

Inviting the women to make affirmation envelopes and to sign our empowerment poster
To advertise for the workshop, we put up fliers throughout Kang, Hukuntsi, Tshane, Lokwabe and Lehututu. Potential participants filled out applications to weed out those who just wanted to come for a free lunch and a t-shirt. The application included questions about challenges women face as parents in Botswana and how the participant would use the information learned in the workshop. The fliers generated so much enthusiasm that we rearranged our budget to accommodate 50 women instead of the original 40 that we had planned. 

The workshop was organized so each session built upon the information discussed in the previous session. We opened the workshop with a session about communication, where we covered basic communication styles, listening skills and conflict management. We then gave the women homework: to have a conversation with their child or spouse that evening at home. After communication, we focused on the meat and potatoes of the workshop, how to talk to children about sex. A large portion of our PCPP was money to buy every woman a copy of Power Parents. This book was written by previous PCV’s who served in Botswana, designed to address the issue of talking to children about sex, specifically in relation to the culture in Botswana. 
Facilitating sessions at our first workshop in Kang
During lunch we screened the STEPS film One Love One Life and had an awesome discussion about multiple concurrent partners, stigma/discrimination, and intergenerational sex. We wrapped up the first day with a session about financial management and gave the women their own budget books, donated by an NGO in Gaborone. 

On day 2, we opened with a communication follow up, discussing the women’s experiences talking to their kids the night before. One woman explained that when she tried to tell her young grandchildren about childbirth, the children insisted that babies are born when a woman vomits her child out of her belly. After hearing that, we were reinforced in our conviction to teach women how to talk to kids about sex and how to protect themselves about dangers like HIV. 

Second Workshop in Hukuntsi 
We spent the next few hours talking about Gender Based Violence (GBV). We discussed symptoms of child abuse, what to do if a child/friend reports abuse, and Botswana sexual abuse laws. We demonstrated GBV warning signs with role play scenarios, including jealousy and explosive temper, and the women had a chance to participate in a heart-wrenching activity called “In Her Shoes”. To lighten things up after the heavy GBV session, we led a short guided meditation. The ladies also learned about stress management skills and goal setting techniques, to help improve their lives, as well as their children’s. 

Day 2 ended on a high note, STIs and condom demonstrations. Who doesn’t like talking about sex and playing with condoms? There was a short ceremony, where each woman was given a certificate, a hug by each PCV, and an envelope full of affirmation notes. The months of stress, the many meltdowns, and the hours on the phone were all worth it when the women, one by one, sang and danced their way up to receive their prizes. 
Learning about condoms, participating in a GBV activity, and celebrating a successful workshop! 
After reading our own affirmations and the feedback that we received from the women who attended the workshop, we are confident that the workshops made a lasting impression here. Many days PCVs feel like we haven’t made an impact, but when you stand in a room with 25 women singing to God in appreciation of your hard work, you can go back to America knowing that you did something amazing and lasting. 

Celebrating our successful workshops! 
Love & Light,

Monday, May 19, 2014

Third Botswana Birthday

25! A quarter century young...

It was my third birthday in Botswana. Now I have been four ages in Botswana: 22, 23, 24, and 25. Typing that out really makes me realize how long I've been here!

I spent the day with the people I love the most in my village: my family! The kids helped me blow out my birthday candles and we played games together in the sand. I got hugs, love, and cards from people all around the globe. Skype allowed me to connect to my loved ones back home and hear them sing me happy birthday.

It was absolutely delightful.

But something I love more than all of that, is my desire to spend time in my village. I've come to love the people in my village and the life I've established here so much that I prefer to spend birthdays and holidays in Kang, living simply.

I spent my birthday just the way I wanted to... in Kang, Botswana as a Peace Corps Volunteer, surrounded by people I love.

Love & Light,

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Fond Farewell to Bots 12

Bots 12.... my original training class, a group of stellar individuals, a cohesive unit. 

We arrived in Botswana as strangers and we're parting as a close group of friends - - dare I say family? We've endured all the ups and downs together. We've laughed, cried, celebrated, and mourned together. We left our homes to come and try to help in Botswana. And although I'm quite biased, I must say that I am very proud of all we've accomplished. 

Meet my wonderful Bots 12 family 
In March, we all gathered one last time as a group in Maun, Botswana for our Close of Service Conference. We had the opportunity to reflect upon our past two years, discuss future opportunities, and say our final good-byes. The conference was very bittersweet. I'm not sure when I'll have the chance to work so closely with such a fabulous group of human beings... so I know I'll always cherish the time we did have together. 

We had time for fun too, of course - - the Peace Corps arranged for us to go out on a boat trip on the Delta and they organized a traditional dance group to come and perform. 
enjoying one last view of the delta
We also discussed all the big kid stuff that comes along with closing our service - - administrative details, how to sell our service to potential employers, resume/cover letter advice, etc. We all stood on the edge together - - the edge between the life we've established for ourselves here and the unknown that life holds for us in the future.
genuinely wonderful people
Our close of service conference went by quick, just like our two years together as Peace Corps Botswana Volunteers. Bots 12 will be in my heart forever, along with all my memories from this remarkable experience. 

All my love, Bots 12. Thanks for everything! 

Love & Light, 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Coast To Coast

A long overdue post. I seem to be doing more of that these days - - I apologize. I have been so busy! So let's backtrack... to January! 

My lovely friend, Kate, came to visit me for a whole month. I first met Kate at the University of Hawai'i where we both spent our freshman year of college. Despite us both transferring for our sophomore year, this gem of a woman has remained one of my very best friends. I'm convinced we would have a great time together just sitting in a cardboard box... HOWEVER, this is a blog about our ultimate adventure, from coast to coast. 
a map our our destinations 
I met Kate in Johannesburg to start our coast to coast adventures. We also met up with another friend and Peace Corps Volunteer, Ashley, to join us on our first leg of the trip. But first, we explored Johannesburg during the day before our bus left in the evening. We went to the Apartheid Museum and Kate received a crash course education on the history of Apartheid in South Africa. The museum was very well done and I wish I could have had more time to walk around... there was a lot to see and learn! Poor Kate was feeling really tired part way through the exhibits, but we carried on! From there, we went to the Lion Park outside of Johannesburg. We got to drive around and see several types of lions, fed some really friendly giraffes, and drum roll please..... we played with baby lion cubs! They were exceptionally adorable. 
Visiting the Apartheid Museum and the Lion Park in Johannesburg
After our day trips in Johannesburg, we boarded the bus for our first stop: Maputo, Mozambique. Welcome to public transport, Kate. Our first bus ride was about 10 hours and she got to experience the joys of sketchy border crossings at 3 AM. We arrived safe and sound around 7 AM and spent the day sorting out some boring administrative details which I won't go into. Let's just say that we were certainly longing for some helpful banks and customer service! We moved on up the coast to Tofo, after another five or so hours on a bus, and wound up in a delightfully beautiful location. It was my first time to see the Indian ocean and I certainly wasn't disappointed. The water was turquoise blue and the temperature was about the same as a lukewarm bathtub. Simply amazing. Ashley, Kate, and I spent our time lounging in the sun (much to Kate's liking), eating fresh fruit, and sipping on cocktails as the sun went down. Sounds really rough, huh? 

delightful Mozambique memories
From Tofo, we traveled further north to Vilankulos. We played in the ocean, enjoyed the beach, and explored the local marketplaces. The main highlight? A day trip to snorkel out by Two Mile Reef. While it wasn't exactly what we Americans would call a guided tour (AKA we were dropped off on an island with a cooler of food), the girls and I made the most of it and really enjoyed ourselves. We also hiked up to the top of the dunes on the islands to look out upon the reef and the Mozambique coast line. Really remarkable stuff! Oh, and while snorkeling, my scalp was severely burnt. You'll hear more about that later. 
Play time in Mozambique with Ashley & Kate
Sadly, we all boarded a bus again after about a week in Mozambique to head back to Botswana. It was time to show Kate my sweet village of Kang! 

Kate in Kang

Kate got the full tour of Kang and all the kiddos immediately fell in love with her (it's easy to do). I showed her a little bit of my life as a volunteer, although it's difficult to actually get anything done with a visitor around. And that is quite a beautiful thing because we got to enjoy other adorable moments. She helped me organize all the reusable sanitary pads my family sent with her to make kits for the girls at the school. She experienced movie night with my family and we appropriately watched Lion King outside under the stars together. Oh and remember that sunburn on my scalp? Kate was a trooper and she also spent that week picking thumbnail sized skin flakes off my head and slathering baby oil on top. It was a really entertaining week. Just ask Kate :O)

Then, we took off for our next country: Nambia. We stopped to see my friend TJ along the way, another PCV who lives close to the Namibian border. Windhoek welcomed us with a delicious meal - Kate tried all kinds of game meet: zebra, ostrich, kudu, etc. - and then we celebrated properly by going to a Karaoke bar. Kate rocked it! After Windhoek, we went to Walvis Bay to kayak with some sweet seals and check out the harbor. The rest of our time in Namibia was spent in Swakopmund. 

Nambia, round 1
In Swakopmund, we met a fun local guy who actually met some of my other Botswana PCV friends. He was our own little personal guide, showing us all the best places to go. Check him out in the photo above - - this guy was nuts. He could dance like a crazy man with a beer on his head without spilling a drop! Oh the people you meet... 

We soaked up the sun on the beach for a few more days, although it was MUCH colder than in Mozambique. The highlight? Skydiving! Kate and I first went skydiving for our 19th birthdays in Hawaii, so we decided it was time to go again. It was breathtaking to see the Namibian desert sand dunes lined up right along the coast. We had an amazing time - and celebrated after our dive with chocolate and beer. Just like everyone should. 

Namibia, round 2
From Namibia, we endured some crazy travel stories that are too long to type out - - so we'll just say that we made it back to TJ's house. After an evening in Karakubis, we were back on the road, hitching to Maun, Botswana. I wanted Kate to see the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve. Kate met a few PCV friends staying in Maun and went on her first game drive! We had good luck and saw all kinds of wildlife - - giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, hippos, warthogs, monkeys, elephants, tons of birds, and even A BABY LEOPARD! It was a lovely end to our trip together. 

End of time with Kate in Bots! 
We traveled back down to Gaborone, ate some yummy food, and flooded the airport with tears. I always hate to say goodbye to Kater -- especially after we had such an amazing month traveling together! 

And my final statement - Kate is a trooper. She endured a lot of crazy things on this adventure and she really just went with it. If you ask her, I'm sure she'll tell you I gave the PG rated account of our travels... but I'll just leave you to hear how crazy things were from her. 

That's it folks! A month of fun with one of my best friends. I sure am a lucky woman! 

Love & Light, 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Made My Day

Here is a text conversation I had today that just melted my heart (I left the spelling exactly as it was, because that just makes me smile too..) Especially in a culture that doesn't express gratitude very well…

* * * * *

ME: That was so nice of you to help out at the event! I'm happy to hear it went well and you had fun too.

FRIEND: I try, it's just like u guys (Peace Corps), I always wanna do what I can to help because u've been selfless enough to come here & help us out & u work so hard, u've such a big heart & I wish u the very best in all u do…

ME: You just made my day :o) thank you! You are such a gem. This community is lucky to have you!

FRIEND: I mean it though, every time I see u guys, I'm like, wow, they endure so much just to help us, it humbles me, u're amazing.

* * * * *

Just a few words made my day. It was such a sweet thing to hear… in a thankless job, it's so delightful to hear any kind of appreciation for what I do.

And to top off my day… I spent the afternoon surrounded by my family I love so dearly. I played with the sweet lil cherubs, went on a walk with my sister, and had a surprise visit from my auntie.

morning play time at my house 

good morning, (my not so little) Ayanda
the sweetest thing to come home to -
Mama snuggling her great-grandbaby

our new tiny human we love & adore
silly Romeo 
my sweet auntie home to visit!
As things start winding down around here, I continue to remind myself that my job is to live, learn, and build relationships in another culture with the freedom to explore new things. And I think I'm so lucky… because I'm living in this moment - this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - that many people never get to experience.

My absence on my blog means one thing: I'm savoring all these precious moments and faces.

My day was made… by the sweetest and most simple things. I hope your day was too!

Love & Light,


Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Gift to Myself

A gift that will keep giving.
A gift that will transform.
A gift that I'll always carry with me.

I'm leaving the Peace Corps and giving myself the gift of YOGA.

I've decided to attend a 200 Hour Yoga Teaching Training Program in Rishikesh, India. The four week program runs from mid-June to mid-July. I will be attending the program with one of my favorite volunteers I served with here in Botswana, and I believe it will also be a great opportunity for us to sift through our emotions of ending our Peace Corps service.

I'll be pushed and challenged, attending classes six days a week and abiding by a strict schedule. I will learn more about yoga, meditation, and human anatomy. I will receive proper training to become a certified teacher. It will be a welcomed change of pace from my life as a volunteer.

I've always dreamed of doing this, and I'm beyond thrilled to take advantage of this opportunity.

This will be my belated 25th birthday present. A celebration of my success as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The chance to live out another one of my dreams.

I'm so incredibly grateful!

Love & Light,


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

100 Days

100 days. 

That's it. 

That's all I have left in my service in Botswana. 

People keep asking whether it feels bittersweet... and quite honestly, I don't quite know how it feels. 
I'm wishing for more time. I'm unsure of what the future holds. I've changed so much since I've arrived in Botswana. I worry that I won't like America anymore. I am afraid of letting my memories of Botswana fade away. 

But mostly, I just can't believe that I only have 100 days left. 

100 days left to keep fighting for my community. 
100 days left to be an advocate. 
100 days left to listen. 
100 days left to spread my love. 
100 days left to tell people I believe in them.
100 days left to squeeze in all the hugs and kisses I possibly can. 
100 days left to read stories to the little ones. 
100 days left to enjoy the African sunrises and sunsets. 
100 days left to sit with my thoughts about my service. 

It may sound like a long time to you, but goodness, I wish time would slow down. 

100 days is not enough. 

Love & Light, 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What Love Looks Like

Happy (belated) valentines day!

I've spent a lot of time the past few days thinking about Valentines Day. It's a funny day. I mean, really… I understand that some people like being showered in flowers, chocolates, and lovely presents. Some people love feeling spoiled by the person they love, and rightly so.

But that's just not me.

I think  love looks a lot different than that.

Love is so much more than romantic. Love is found in all areas of life, if we're looking for it.
Love is accepting your own flaws, as well as others.
Love is the twinkle in the eye of someone who loves you when they see you.
Love is soaking up the silence between two people, comfortable in each others presence.
Love is taking the time to help teach a new skill.
Love is helping to do the chores.
Love is the daily presence of someone in your life.
Love is communicating without words.
Love is celebrating the successes and comforting the failures.
Love is sweaty, dirty little fingers wrapped around mine.
Love is watching the sunrise and the sunset each day, knowing my Creator painted it for me.
Love is hugs and kisses, every day. Not just on valentines day.
Love is blind.
Love is the best kind of laughter that brings tears to your eyes.
Love is knowing that each person has entered the story of your life for a reason.
Love is a daring adventure.
Love is expecting nothing in return.
Love is laying on your back staring up at the stars.
Love is seeing your loved ones after you've been away.
Love is feeling your heart smile.
Love is cuddling with your favorite furry friend.
Love is giving more than you receive.
Love is writing your own life story according to your own heart.
Love is validating the self worth of others.
Love is scattering your dreams with the wind.
Love is empathizing with what others are going through.
Love is promising yourself to be better.
Love is being aware.
Love is sharing everything you can.
Love is continuing to believe. 
Love is exploring without hesitation. 
Love is refusing to let the bitterness in the world keep you from loving more.

That's just a taste of what love looks like to me.

"Love is a verb - it ain't a thing - It's not something you hold - it's not something you scream - When you show me love - I don't need your words - yeah love ain't a thing - love is a verb." -John Mayer

And I'm so blessed to have so much love in my life!

Love & Light,


Monday, February 10, 2014

The Magic of Mirrors

Hopefully you all know of Romeo by now.

He's my little heartbreaker. My family here calls him my husband - - because I told them I won't love any man here (taken!)… but they know I'm in  love with him.

For the lucky few who have met him… you know what a doll he is. I truly  can't even use words to describe it. He's this precious little bundle of joy  that was dropped down from heaven.

Anyway, I have an entirely different relationship with Romeo than I do with  the other kiddos. The other kiddos have an interest in learning English &  talking to me. Some of them just talk to hear their own voice (ayanda!). But  lil Romeo is a man of few words.

Since day one, Romeo has been sweet, respectful, and attentive. If I asked  him to do something (in English or Shekgalagari), he would do it. But never has  he bothered with talking to me. I used to watch him talk to the other kiddos or  his grandmother and wonder when he would ever begin to talk to me…

And ladies and gents - - the time has come. Romeo speaks to me now!

Slow at first…. Just a simple - BONA, BOITSHEPO! (look, boitshepo)
Then…. CATSE YA KO E KAE? (where is your cat?)

And we've progressed to talking about all the animals in books. He'll list  the animals, I'll ask him to point them out, he'll tell me what the animals  say…

Just precious. And why now, after all this time does this sweet lil 3 year  old start speaking to me? To pull on my heartstrings… I swear.

But the best part of all came today.

Romeo LOVES my mirror I had hanging on the side of my fridge. He has taken  it down and plays with it now… and I love catching him admiring his reflection.

This new toy has opened up a whole new avenue of discussion. He's less shy  about talking to me when we talk in the mirror. It's a game! He'll hold things  up in the mirror in front of us and talk about them. He'll hold eye contact in  the mirror. He talks and talks and talks!

A simple joy, I know.

But goodness, my heart just overflows.

And after putting his shoes on to go home and go to bed, a simple "i  lub you, Boitshepo" just leaves me on cloud nine.

These children are my world. Tiny humans are the best!

Love & Light,


Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year, New Resolutions

I've been thinking a lot about new year's resolutions. I think they're funny. Mostly because people make them, forget about them, neglect them, or work at them for a limited period of time. Last year, I chose seven new resolutions to live by. Seven that I just couldn't imagine life without. And I stuck to them. Of course, I posted them in my kitchen to see every day, but I can honestly say I lived by them.

And I'm not ready to let them go. 

So this year, I'm adding to the list. I'm keeping my old ones, because I think they made me try to be a better, more relaxed person, and I'll add my new ones to live by this year. 

This year is going to be a big one for me. I finally feel like I am aware that I'll be saying bye to this sweet place and familiar faces. I'll have 1/2 the year in Bots, 1/2 the year in the USA. It's a lot of change, a lot of good-byes, a lot of hellos, a lot of new beginnings. So here's my list: 

1. Seek simplicity.
2. Keep faith.
3. Notice more. 
4. Love harder. 
5. Stand strong. 
6. Enjoy life slower. 
7. Spend more time under the stars. 
8. Treat others according to my character, not theirs. 

* * * * * and now my new resolutions for the year * * * * * 

9. No comparisons. 
10. Be calm. 
11. Embrace change. 
12. Savor precious moments. 
13. Believe in myself. 
14. Breathe through it. 
15. Follow my own truth. 

Love & Light, 

Girls' Weekend

I haven't been able to figure out exactly how to explain this wild, magical weekend... but my sweet friend, Mignon, did so perfectly. So, I'd like to refer you to her blog post if you'd like to hear more about one of my biggest adventures in Botswana. 

Love & Light,