Thursday, November 11, 2010
So, back to my experience at the gym. I basically dragged myself there because I've been saying "I'll go tomorrow" since last Wednesday, and I figured the pain hasn't gotten any better so, why the hell not just go! I'm on the elliptical in front of a TV screen that is showing an episode of Beverly Hills Housewives. Ok, why the hell do they get their own show? This whole "housewives" pandemic has gotten out of control. I know I don't watch TV, but when did this show air? And why? This particular episode was about a 4 year old girl's birthday party and a spring break trip to Hawaii. The mother of this 4 year old decided that 4 is a good age for your first piece of really expensive jewelry. Seriously? What happened to My Little Ponies and Barbie? Oh wait! The jewelry she purchased was from the Barbie Jewelry Collection. Yes, such a thing exists. As if that Bitch doesn't have enough already. Not only did mom by a $1,700 sapphire Barbie necklace for her daughter, but she also purchased 25 "favor" Barbie necklaces for the 25 girls that will be attending her 4 year old girl's birthday party. The total spent was over $5,000. Ridiculously disgusting!
I attended a birthday party in South Africa for a 6 year old little girl. Her party consisted of a "lavish" spread of chips, sweets and hamburgers. The play room and patio was decorated with princess streamers, missed matched party hats, plastic lawn furniture and balloons. None of this mattered to any of the kids. They were so thrilled to be celebrating and to be able to eat sweets. Her birthday present, which would have been considered to be outdated and unappreciated by most children, especially in Southern California, was a generic, plastic beauty vanity set. You should have seen the look on her face. Priceless. She was beaming and overwhelmed with joy. I'd give anything to see that face again. She was so gracious.
And the trip to Hawaii was all about the stress of calling up the house manager at their home/condo in Hawaii to make sure everything was working. Oh, and getting their driver to pick them up in the morning. Seriously, this woman was sitting with her friends talking about how busy all their lives are and her biggest issue was whether to heat the pool or not. Her friends decided not, because it was just a waste and her response back "thank you for helping me. I couldn't have done this without you." Now, maybe there was more to their conversation and media made them look like a bunch of stupid women who have nothing better to do than travel and spend money...... but that's all it appeared to be.
I know this post sounds very bitter, resentful and angry. To honest, I'm all those things except for bitter. Yeah, the money they have would be nice. But I would not use it how they do nor would I buy my 4 year old and her 25 "friends" diamonds.
My apologies (sort of) to any of you who watch these types of shows. I just really cannot stand shows that portray a lifestyle that the majority of the population cannot afford to even come close to. It upsets and disturbs me.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I've held off for a bit on posting this entry. Mostly because I've been really busy, but also because of some remarks going around about my intentions with my trip to South Africa. We spent Thursday visiting with Oasis board members, staff, house moms, children, visiting a local hospital, and yes.... enjoying a night at Mangwanani Spa. With that said, here is my experience on Day 6.
Today we attended the SA staff meeting. Beth wanted both teams to get to know each other a little better; how long we've been working with Oasis Haven, how we got involved, our role, etc... It was great to hear from those who work directly with the children. How they were called, their struggles, the love they have for each child.
Serena is the house mom at Bou. Bou is our first Oasis Haven Family Home. She has two assistants that help her during the week from 8:00-5:00pm. They alternate days at the home and will help on the weekends as well. The assistants at Bou are Caroline and Minki. Both very sweet, loving, incredible women.
Maggie and Veronica are currently sharing the role as house mom at 54. 54 was recently donated by the local church that supports Oasis Haven. This church, name I cannot ever remember, is our lifeline. They donate often and will always be our line of support if we're ever in a bind and need a helping a hand.
Maggie and Veronica work one month on, one month off at the home. The goal of the month on, month off system is to help provide stability in the home for the children. Rather than having one week on, one week off, or weekday versus weekend... It seems to be working right now. Our goal is to have houseparents for 54 by the end of this year.
Maggie and Veronica also have assistants to help from 8:00-5:00 and on the weekends. Their names are Juliann and Boukley (not sure on the spelling) They too are incredible, loving, kind women.
It was wonderful just to be in the same room as these amazing women who love God and his children. To add to the amazement, we started our meeting off with some worship. Minki led us in the most beautiful worship I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Most of it was sung in Sutu. Although difficult to sing along to, it was absolutely beautiful to listen to her incredible voice, along with the others, sing with such passion.
After our meeting we went to pick up more paint supplies and paint for 54 (our other home) and then headed to Helen Joseph Hospital where we met with virologist and Med Researcher, Francesca Cordobain. (not sure on exact spelling) Meeting with Francesca was an incredible experience. She is such an amazing women. She is extremely intelligent, passionate about what she does, and has a great sense of humor to top it off. Helen Joseph HIV/AIDS center specializes in ARV meds; anti retro viral. ARV medications are fairly new to the med world. It's not a cure for HIV/AIDS by any means. I learned while sitting in her office, that once you're infected, it's not something that can be cured. It's in your DNA. However, that doesn't mean that some day there won't be a cure, but ARV isn't a cure. It allows someone who is infected with HIV to live decades longer than they might have. It's no longer a death sentence.
It was wonderful to speak with her and learn from her.
After our visit with Francesca we we ran some errands and heading to enjoy an evening of relaxation at Mangwanani Spa.
Oh my stars!! Our experience at this spa was phenomenal. I've never experienced anything quite like it in my entire life. We were greeted with a glass of champagne, or delicious fruit cocktail, taken to our table where we nibbled on yummy snacks like biltong (beef jerky, but so much better!) After which we were led to dressing rooms where we changed into robes and slippers for our first treatment. Also, during our "snacking" we were entertained South African style. After changing, we were led down a wooden, bridge like pathway through trees that crossed over a creek. The pathway also had little hut-like rooms that jetted off to each side and stretched into the starry night. We were coupled up in these little huts for our hot stone massage. Tuliswa was my massage therapist and she was fantastic. As a lay there in the warm room, with the hot stones rolling down my back, I could hear the sounds of bull frogs and crickets. Or were they grasshoppers? I think they were locust!? Whatever they were, they were loud! As most things do, our session came to an end, and we were lead back to our table where we enjoyed a light meal with wine, sweets and more beautiful South African singing.
After dinner we were led back out to the pathway and into a larger hut with comfy Adirondack chairs and basins filled with warm water. We each sat in a chair and dipped our feet in our own little basin of warm water decorated with rose pedals. We sat there for about 50 minutes for an amazing grape seed extract foot and leg massage. I left there feeling wonderful and completely relaxed. I'm so grateful to have had this incredible experience thanks to Lori Kimbell and Paula Gillig. I later learned that Mangwanani supports Women's Rights in South Africa and they play a major role in Lead SA which is a campaign/NGO about getting South Africans to step up and take charge in their own country. Not accepting bribes from officers, trying to put an end to corruption..... I was thrilled to find out that our visit to this spa was not just for our enjoyment, but helping women in South Africa. Oh, also, Beth said that every employee, as far as I could tell they were all women, becomes a share holder of Mangwanani after a certain amount of time. That's so awesome! I've included the link to their website if you'd like to check it out.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
So, apparently the trick to good sleep on a plane is lots of walking prior to the flight, Dramamine, a couple glasses of wine, a neck pillow, eye mask, my cozy blanket, eye mask and my stuffed animal puppy, Love. Oh.....and head phones.
I slept about 8 hours of the 11 hour flight. It was awesome!! I literally shut my eyes within minutes of sitting in my seat. We hadn't even taken off yet and I was out.
Our arrival into South Africa seemed pretty surreal. It still hasn't (hadn't at the time) fully hit me yet that I'm actually here. I'm not just taking about going or dreaming of being in South Africa. I'm here! Well, I'm somewhat here.... I'm still out of it from the flight.
Beth picked us up from the airport, we rented a car, loaded all of our luggage into the back of Beth's boyfriend's truck and then went to breakfast. After breakfast, we headed to our B&B, the Pepperwood Lodge, where Donovan unloaded all of our luggage. We had an hour to shower and freshen up before we headed off to one of our homes.
Today I met Amanda, Fifi, Thandi, Caroline, Banelli, Nicholas, Leroy and Kia.
They're all so sweet and cute. And of course they have awesome accents which just melts your heart a bit more. It was so great to finally meet them. I'm excited to go back when I'm well rested and have more energy. They all just want you to play with them, push them on the swings, climb on you, play with your hair and ask A LOT of questions. Question after question after question. They're like every other child I've ever met. They're so incredibly loving and trusting of complete strangers. It was amazing to me. What a blessing they are.
Tomorrow we head to Soweto, the largest township in Joburg. But for now, I'm going to bed. I'm spent.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
It's amazing to me how much I've grown just in the last few months alone.
When I first spoke of my plans to go to South Africa my family was not too thrilled. They brought up questions like; What? When? Why? What about your job, your career? How about your future? Your life with Jacob? Aren't you planning to get married? Can't you just send money? Why do you have to go?
And I have to admit, they were all very valid questions.
At first, I didn't know how to answer those questions. They all hit my like a freight train.
Not having to give it much thought, I answered, "Well, I know the strong passion I have for this organization, I'm not sure yet how the rest of my life is going to pan out, I'm not quiting my job, and I strongly feel called to go." Let's just say that it didn't put their minds at ease right away, but they definitely had a change of heart.
And as I sit here today, currently on an airplane headed to London, all those questions are still there. They haven't all been answered entirely and I'm at peace with that. I have faith and trust that God will take care of all of that.
My journey thus far, the idea of going on this trip alone, has drastically changed. As I left for the airport, I departed with the full love and support of my family. God has used my passion for Oasis and philanthropic adventures to bring my family closer together. He has blessed me in so many ways. I am so excited to see how God is going to use me and where he leads me.
What's God's purpose for me? What is God doing through me? How am I to fulfill what He wants of me when I don't know what that is? Am I on the right path? I'm unclear of the direction He's pulling me in. Can I get some help, please? Something, anything so that I can better serve you, Lord.
Monday, October 4, 2010
I'm sure all of you have a pair of jeans that you just LOVE. You wear them all the time, they're your absolute favorite....... maybe these jeans might even be a pair that you haven't been able to fit in for a while but you just can't seem to part with....? Is anyone able to relate?
(Just a side note, when I say "skinny jeans" I mean the jeans you can no longer fit into....)
I have several pairs of jeans in my closet. Most of these jeans I don't wear for many different reasons; they're too long, too tight, they've got rips in certain areas, etc...etc.
But this one particular pair of jeans I have in my closet I really love but haven't worn in over a year because they're just a bit too, ummm.....well, they're snug and they started to create this sort of muffin top situation. I think it had to do with the combination of being unemployed for several months, boredom, falling in love, being wined and dined ........ It's a good thing I continued to workout because it kept me from gaining too much weight. But I sure did fluctuate quite a bit during those months.
Like most girls/women, we're never really happy with our body. We are our worst critics. And my wonderful, loving boyfriend is probably going to want to smack me for this post, because he thinks I'm the most beautiful woman to walk the face of the earth, but I have to do it.
The other day I was getting dressed and dreading it like I do most days trying to figure out what to wear, when I came across that pair of jeans in my closet that I haven't worn in over a year.
I decided to attempt to put them on. This is where Eat Pray Love comes into the picture because the scene that went on in my room was much like the scene in the movie when they're trying on bigger jeans due to their muffin tops. I was hopping up and down, sucked it in, did a few squats, got them wet.... everything possible. But lo and behold, I got those suckers on. Now they didn't fit perfectly, they were still snug, but I'll be damned, I was going to wear them. I felt so proud. And I lasted all day in them. I'll admit though, at the end of the night, I did have to unbutton the top button. I was just so thrilled to be able to get into them again.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I went to visit some of my family in Palm Desert this weekend and as I was heading back home, my little sister Ashton did the most unbelievably heartfelt act of kindness I have yet to witness.
She knows of my trip to South Africa, she has a basic understanding of my reason for going and she is aware of some situations these children have experienced. But at 10years old, how much can she really understand? How much of the reality of my trip should she really know about? She's just a child. And yet, she completely understands serving God, giving and being kind to others.
As I was saying bye to everyone, along with a few others that were heading out, she was saddened to find that I was also leaving. I explained that I had to get back home because I have work the next day. And this is the conversation that followed .... "why? who cares? why do you have to work" ..... "well..... because, apparently I'm a grown up and that's what grown ups do. I've got to make money. " ... "oh" ...... "Yep. Stay a child for as long as you can. Don't grow up too fast" ..... "ok". And now that I am typing this, I believe I know the reason behind her next action.
I've got my bag packed, purse, phone, everything set by the door. I was saying bye to my friend Megan as she heads home, my step mom and little brother as they head down to Tot Stop, and my Aunt Dena as she leaves. I realized that I forgot my phone charger so I head back inside. At that very moment Ashton's friend Emily is telling me that I can't leave yet, "Ashton has something to give you." .... I turn aroun to head towards the front door and there is my beautiful little sister standing there holding a handful of money which she had taken from her piggy bank. She doens't really say anything, but I said "you're not giving me your money. Ashton, no, I can't take it." She still held it out and said "for your trip". I took the money out of her hands and with tears in my eyes I hugged her tight. I told her that she was the most wonderful, amazing little sister anyone could ever ask for. I looked at my dad and said "your littlest daughter is awesome". My dad had no idea she planned to give me money, so now his eyes are beginning to water. I asked Ashton why she was crying, she wasn't really sure why. I'm not sure why either of us were, but we were having a moment. A moment like I've never experience before. I couldn't believe her. I'm so completely touched by her act of kindness.
I took the money, not because I needed it, but because I didn't want to deprive her of giving. She obviously felt called to give and it was on her heart to do so. She gave with money that she had been saving; money given on birthdays, money earned by doing chores, her own money. I wouldn't dare takt that away from someone. Especially from someone so wonderfully, beautiful as my littlest sister. I felt God's presence around us during that moment and I will never forget it.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I was just reading some of my past blogs....from March and before, and it's funny how things change. I mean, I'm not even going in that same direction. I'm on a completely different path. God has changed my course yet again. And I'm so thrilled!
Reading those posts made me realize that I had been focusing on ALL the wrong things. Things I thought would make me happy. Things I felt I needed. And definitely looking for a future in the wrong career choice.
I've never been one to care about designer labels and brands. I'm not current on the latest trends and fads. I really can't stand Louis Vuiton (is that even how you spell it?) and I strongly dislike Juicy Couture purely for the reason that they call themself "couture". You can't be a ready to wear, mass produced clothing line and call yourself couture. What the crap!? And since I used to work for corporate, I know first hand that it's not worth the price. Oh, if you only knew!
And another thing....I don't give a flying leap about celebrities or reality TV. Not in the least. It makes no difference to me who they are, what they wear, drive....etc. I don't care who they're dating, sleeping with, divorcing, gossiping about.
So, I've come to the conclusion, with the help of God and the lack of response from the countless number of potential employers I emailed, that a career in fashion, is just not in the cards for me. And I am 112% okay with that =)
Sure, I still love clothes, accessories and shoes. Don't get me wrong. I am female. One look in my room/closet, which spills into the coat closet and garage (those of you who know me well have seen it) and you know it's still a love of mine. But it's just no longer a deep passion for me to be successful at. I'd much rather be spending my time doing God's work, serving others, living a fullfilled life. Not a life focused on me. Not one that relies on social status, someone else's opinion of you and your work, who you know and what you wear. But one that thrives on serving God. Being passionate about those He loves the most. The Fatherless.
Friday, September 24, 2010
When I was months away from turning 25 I was freaking out. Literally. I was a wreck. I remember my dad asking me "what's going on with you? you're so short lately on the phone, I can hardly talk to you without you getting all snippy"
Well, what was wrong with me.... I was unhappy with my life, that's what!
My response "well dad, I'm about to be 25, I moved back home (with mom and step dad), I hate my job, I'm nowhere near getting married and I thought for sure I'd be married by now, I can hardly support myself, I'm a re-born born again Christian, in which you'd think life would be easier, but it's not, life is far more complicated, way more difficult, and it just raises a whole other set of questions ....... I really need to do some soul searching.... I'm a mess. What am I doing with my life.....?" My father saying that, really asking me what was wrong, was a huge eye opener for me. I can always count on my dad to be the voice of reason.
Just a few months later, God answered many of my questions, in different ways.
I met a boy. Well, I met a man.......but since we techincally met at Disneyland, I think it's more accurate to say I met a boy. (love you Jacob)
He changed my life. No, I'm not saying that he completed me, because no one can do that. But, he's exactly what I was missing. He added to my life in a way that I never thought was possible. Unfortunately and fortunately, I lost my job just about a week after we became "official" so that added to stress of our relationship. Oh, I think I failed to mention that he lived in Los Gatos, which means I entered myself right into a long distance relationship. Oooo, fun!
I hated my old job anyhow, but it really was not how I wanted things to go. It would have been nice to end things on my own terms but since I had spent 2 years just sittin there being miserable God decided "well, since you're not going to look for another job that would make you happy, and you'd rather sit here wasting your life, guess what? I'm going to pull that right out from underneath you". And yes, that's exactly what He said.
I spent about 9 months doing a lot of soul searching, crying, falling in love, dealing with depression, trying to break things off with the love of my life, crying some more, job searching, more soul searching, sending resumes, flying up North, driving to and from San Diego airport (both joyous and depressing) missing my boyfriend, some more crying, loosing myself, finding myself, and really figuring out who my true friends are.
During the time of crying, applying for jobs and soul searching, I stumbled across an amazing organization called Oasis Haven. Long story short, we put on a concert, formed a small group which became our board and now we're going to South Africa in just a couple of weeks. Life is completely sureal. I had no idea this is where my life would lead. Life is full of surprises.
Stay tuned..... I plan to make this more of a regular habit.
Those never stick though, so....here's hoping!!
After thought....... 26, ain't all that bad ;)
If there's anyone out there that has been reading/following my blog you already know about my plan to go to South Africa with a few other Oasis Haven board members. Well, you'll be happy to know that it is no longer a plan. It is official!! I am in fact going to South Africa!! Yay!!
I am filled with excitement, a little bit of nervousness and some anxiety. I know there is nothing for me to worry about. I've got God on my side, the love and support of my family and friends, a loving and supportive boyfriend, what more could I ask for!? How about a sign.....? Some direction maybe....guidance?
I know that this trip is going to change my life in a HUGE way. I feel it in my very core that when I get back from South Africa, my life as I know it, will have completely changed. And it is going to be so wonderfully amazing I cannot wait!
Monday, August 2, 2010
The truth is, I think I sort of lost myself....a while back. Or maybe I got lost recently, or maybe it's that I wasn't really sure, but now I'm more certain.... Who really knows. Only God knows.
Just to catch you up, I'm still searching for the job/career that I deserve and am being called towards. In the mean time I'm working as a Patient Coordinator at an orthodontist/dentis office. Basically what that means is I seat patients, pull charts when needed, clean chairs.... I'm a glorified hostess in the ortho world.
My mom happens to be employed by them, they needed someone, they like my mom, I needed money, my mom wanted me to work "soemthing, anything, just to get you out of the house".... you get the picture. They hired me!
Along with that, I have taken a permanent position on the board of Oasis Haven. A non-profit organization whose mission is to place neglected and HIV positive children with loving forever families. Our main "office" is located in Johanesburg, South Africa. Our US branch has been operating for just over a year now. We've officially filed for our non-profit status and the board is planning a missions trip to South Africa in October. All very exciting!!
This organization has been my main focus and has grown very dear to my heart. I believe that fashion will always remain close, but it's no longer what I'm most deeply passionate about. It's takes second...possibly third.
Along with my position on the board I will also be leading a post-college/career group called Ignite, with the Church at Rancho Bernardo and will soon be leading a small group study for young women.
God has great things lined up for me in the future. I'm so excited to experience each and every one of them!
I hope to keep current, at least weekly, on the happenings in my life.
P.S. I'm still very much in love with my boyfriend, Jacob. He gives me the support and strength I need to get through each day. Kisses, my love.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I've been without a stable job for slightly over 6 months now and I've been actively searching. Persistence is key and I've definitely got that down. I'm not looking for just any old job and that might be a bit of the problem. I'm not the kind of girl to settle for just anything. I've had plenty of opportunities come my way, the trouble is, they're not for pay. I understand I'd gain experience, it's a networking opportunity, etc...etc.... But that doesn't pay the bills, dress me in fabulous clothes or cover the cost of a little bubbly now and then.... does it
I've had a couple of interviews, a few photo shoots, a temporary job as server/hostess/food runner....etc, at a mom and pop restaurant and have applied to a countless number of jobs in the last 6 months. I'm rather exhausted from it all. Searching for a job is a full time job in itself. Thankfully, I've done a good job at making sure I continue to go to the gym. It's about all I can do these days not to go crazy.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Model and Friend: Tegan Elkins
Photographer: Stefanie Ann
Literally, one day while I was kicking my butt on the treadmill, I had an epiphany. I immediately text my friend Tegan saying "I need to get my portfolio started, will you do a shoot with me and be my guinea pig!?" Her response "Heck yes!!" .... I then text my sister Stefanie saying "when we're in the desert for Ashton's birthday, bring your camera. We're doing a photo shoot with Tegan!!" Thus, beginning the treacherous journey as a starving artist.
This shoot was one of the most gratifying for me. Not only did it serve its purpose as being a portfolio builder, but we got a lot of work done and covered a lot of looks. (I will locate others from this shoot to post, I have more where this one came from) We shot at the Bermuda Dunes Airport, Desert Sands, and my parent's backyard and guest bathroom. Tegan was a trooper... 6 or 7 wardrobe changes, hair and makeup and 9 hours of shooting. Thank you Tegan and Stefanie. I love you both!