Archives for July 2012

Fun Facts about Ethiopia

How pretty is this? (via Wikipedia)

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be heading to Ethiopia in October! So what did I know about Ethiopia prior to last week? Not a whole lot. So today I bring you some fun facts about it.

  • Oldest site of human existence
  • Source of the Blue Nile (with White Nile makes up Nile river… also this is the river considered to be flowing out of the biblical Garden of Eden).
  • One of the first areas of the world to officially adopt Christianity
  • Only one of two African countries that has always remained independent
  • The Amharic kingdom is mentioned in the Illiad and was the largest kingdown in between Greece and Persia
  • Birthplace of coffee (!!)
  • They do have rhinoceros, ibex, elephants, lions, giraffes and cheetahs
  • The capital of Addis Ababa is a city state of over 7.8 million people
  • Official language is Amharic, with 17.5 million native speakers it falls in the same range as Dutch, Nepali, Romanian, Greek, Catalan, etc
  • Addis Ababa and is at an elevation of 7,874 ft! (For comparison, Denver is at 5,130–5,680 ft)
  • Climate type is tropical monsoon… but there are mountains, desert and grassland. Addis Ababa has a yearly average temperature between 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • I hear it’s GREAT for running.

Oh, and it’s located in eastern Africa.

via World Atlas


Y’all… I’m so beyond happy/excited/thrilled/in major disbelief that this is FOR REAL.


Okay, now that I’ve got that out of the way, I accepted an invitation to serve as a Community Health Economic Development volunteer in Ethiopia. I leave October 1.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the Peace Corps, here’s the short version of what it’s about (from the Executive Order Kennedy signed on March 1, 1961):

To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.

I’ve been hesitant to be completely open about the application process while going through it, so for anyone who has been following the journey, is in the process of applying, or might be interested in applying, here are a few details:

  1. The Toolkit goes offline on July 26… It looks like there will be 3 weeks of downtime. This may or may not be important.
  2. OMS receives my medical packet on July 9. The last date possible to ensure a medical file is opened prior to the system change (and so I don’t have to go through the process again).
  3. An OMS nurse emailed me mid-afternoon on Tuesday (July 17) to ask a couple questions and then let me know she was medically clearing me with the provision I sent in my missing lab work results prior to departure.
  4. I receive an email from a Placement Officer on Wednesday (July 18) in mid-afternoon that says I unfortunately was not invited to the program for which I was nominated, but that an invitation is in the mail for a Health-based Community Economic Development program in Anglophone Sub Saharan Africa departing early October.
  5. I didn’t have a placement interview.

Since everything just seemed to be taking so long (needing patience through this process is a MUST), I have spent the last several weeks convincing myself I wouldn’t be leaving in October. As soon as I made peace with that reality, I was medically cleared and had an invitation in the mail within 24 hours. Unreal.

I basked in the happiness last Thursday. Then ran to check the mail on Friday. And Saturday. And Monday. And Tuesday… by Wednesday I had pretty much given up hope the packet was ever coming (okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic but I thought it was lost in the mail). I checked my mail and the box was empty. Trudging up the stairs at my apartment complex, I saw a large envelope sitting outside my doorway. I walked calmly over and flipped it over. FROM THE PEACE CORPS! My invitation had arrived!

To anyone who is waiting on their invitation (as in, a placement officer told you the invitation is in the mail), it took mine five business days to arrive… It’s true when they say you need patience in this process!

I’m sure I will be bombarding you guys with Ethiopia related material. After the past week of anticipation, I suddenly feel as though nine weeks isn’t near enough time. I know I should have it more together, but hindsight is 20/20.


P.S. I plan to keep the blog updated, but the truth is, you never know. I also am putting together an email list for all my non-blog reading friends and family, so you can click here to sign up for it too.


With Glittering Eyes

via tumblr

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

On Having a Story, Saying Yes and Living with Intention

 “Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits.” – Bruce Lee & John Little, The Art of Expressing the Human Body (via Joel Runyon)

As I mentioned in my last post about WDS, two messages really resonated with me as I left Portland and absorbed everything that happened: having a story and saying yes. A third that I discovered is living with intention.

On Storytelling

The first person to really hit these topics for me was  Joel Runyon of Impossible HQ during his workshop (aptly titled): “Do Something. Do Anything.” He told us the question that propelled him into the creating a list of impossible things and changing his life was, “Are you telling a good story with your life? Would anybody want to read it?

I, admittedly, don’t have much of a story and it’s probably the major thing that I need to work on. My lack of story is a lot of things… fear, insecurities, unwillingness to be vulnerable… but it’s something that I want and am ready to change. So far, I’m just a girl who quit my corporate job, found another corporate job, pays off my debt, but sometimes does cool things on the side. Riveting, I’m sure.

Having a story is clearly one of my greatest weaknesses. I think I’m a cool enough person, but would anyone else want to read my story? Not without a little work.

On Saying Yes

I took absolutely no notes during JD Roth‘s speech on the Power of Personal Transformation (luckily, he posted the transcript yesterday). JD is a man who has gone through major transformations across all areas of his life over the past several years.

The first topic up? The power of yes. JD found that he was saying no to opportunities constantly because he was “afraid of what might happen.” Then he continued:

I made a resolution. I decided that instead of saying “no” to things because I was afraid of them, I’d “just say yes”.

Saying yes is something I’ve been working on in my life already. I don’t want to be the person that says “I wish.” I don’t want to wish, I want to do. As JD said, it is the things we do that make me who we are, not what we think we do.

I don’t wish I was brave enough to go skydiving, I do it.
I don’t wish I could travel, I make it a priority and do it.
I don’t wish I could get out of debt, I work at it everyday.
I don’t wish I had more time to read, I make it.

You never know what kind of friendships might develop or new adventures await, if you would just say yes and allow new opportunities into your life. Of all things that have terrified me the past year, attending WDS is definitely one of them, but I did it. And I think it’ll be one of the greatest decisions of my life.

On Living with Intention

Another workshop, Claim Your AUTHORity, lead by Cynthia Morris of Original Impulse, helped direct me toward my values and the realization that intention living is important to me. During one exercise, we were writing down the core values to our book (or life if we so chose), and I wrote down change, independence and gratitude.

After staring at my little circle with my three words in it, I added a fourth: intention.

It struck me that I wanted to live a life intended. How awesome and ambiguous is that? Just kidding. Intentional living is simply a life ” intentionally chosen by an individual based on awareness of her/his values and fundamental beliefs” (yes, it’s from Wikipedia). Much of the past week I’ve been considering my values and fundamental beliefs and I think I know what living with intention means to me right now: to give freely, live openly and practice gratitude.

Some things I’d already managed to incorporate into my daily life without realizing it, the others will take some time.

What stories did you hear that inspired change?


World Domination Summit: The Magic of People and Stories

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”
– Alan Keightley (via Chris Guillebeau)

I felt absolutely exhausted the minute I woke up this morning. All weekend I had been running on the pure magic that was happening around me and I no longer had the stamina to sustain it.  But then a funny thing happened as the day progressed… I realized that despite how great and inspirational everything was in the moment, the magic only grew as I looked back and reflected on what exactly happened during these three days.

Despite being only the second year of the World Domination Summit, a group of  bloggers, entrepreneurs and game changers converged on Portland for three days full of unconventional speakers and workshops that invited one to think about living a remarkable life in a conventional world.

Weekend roomie & partner-in-crime


After hearing from attendees last year, it seemed so crazy that such incredible friendships could be forged in a matter of days, but that is exactly what happened. My weekend roomie, fellow “Make Sh*t Happen“-er, & soul sister Shannyn (of Frugal Beautiful) and I had a weekend full of playing “Runner!”, Rogue beer tasting, sushi eating and even some Bollywood dancing. We talked, took absurd amounts of photos and walked all over Portland, but I couldn’t have asked for a better person to do so with!

I also had the pleasure of spending time with Phil of PT Money and Jeff of Money Spruce, both really awesome people doing amazing things. Phil wrote about how many financial bloggers were in attendance at #wds2012, which excites me to see what the future holds for them. You know these are cool people if they’re willing to spend three days at a conference that talks about things like vulnerability, creativity, service and change in the context of our conventional world.

It wasn’t just those I spent the weekend with, it was people who you met briefly at lunch or on the street. I found my people.  I found people who didn’t expect me to live life in the way I’ve always been told it has to be lived. I found people who understand what I mean when I say, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” I found people who are doing awesome, crazy things with open hearts. Sometimes it was a little scary and intimidating, but when powerful forces within this unconventional community tell me, “It’s okay to not have everything figured out,” it feels like they get it and embrace it, not criticize me for it.

So to all the people I met this weekend who listened to my story and told me it’s okay to not know — thank you.

Don’t stop believin’!


There was such an outpouring of inspiration from the high caliber speakers, who ranged from world-class researchers into vulnerability and introversion to A-list bloggers and entrepreneurs. Speakers who spoke to our hearts, made us laugh, made us cry and, most of all, made us think.

  • Brené Brown had us dancing and singing first thing in the morning
  • Scott Harrison, founder of Charity: Water, made us reconsider service and convinced most (if not all) of us to give up our next birthdays
  • Cal Newport showed us how astonishingly wrong all the “follow your passion” advice has been over the past 20+ years
  • JD Roth, creator of Get Rich Slowly, spoke on the power of change

Throw in the incredible stories from $100 Startup and Attendees Stories forums, plus any given one of the 80+ attendee-led workshops, and it’s easy to understand how so much AWESOME could come out of one single weekend.

Of all the great messages I heard over the three days, two in particular stood out to me: To say YES and to have a good story. But I’ll save that for another post. 🙂

One final note today: If you’ve ever thought that there’s something more out there, I’d highly, highly encourage you to consider attending WDS next year. You never know in what way it might alter your life. Over half the tickets have already been sold to attendees, so get on the list now!!


images: Armosa Studios