Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Field Hospital In Haiti

This is where I have worked for 2 months. 
This is what I have been a part of.
This helps me remember why I am here.
Please check out this link on Youtube.

Poems and Proverbs

A friend of mine wrote a poem for me based
on my favorite African proverb.
I think it is beautiful and I wanted to share.  

In African rain, on barren plain, a single seed was sown,
A score ago, this plateau bestowed, a tree growing alone.
Strong and tall, from summer to fall, leaves of noble green
Change to golds as weather colds, as if to crown a Queen.
As years pass, this oaken lass, outlasts drought and storm -
An endless exchange of season's change into another form.

But then one day, a seed fell astray, and buried in the earth
Out of the norm, with resilient form, a second tree was birth
In the cascade, of the older tree's shade, advantageously,
Side by side, the sapling hides, and will raise up cautiously.
These two trees, hardened by breeze and by bending wind
Will forever last, as time shall pass, lest their roots rescind.

Standing there, this branching pair, they overlook all of life
Able to see, the scrutiny, of the world's strides and strife
With thickened skin, and resolve within, growing up and old
The bigger tree, told her baby, as other's soul's were sold:
"In life you'll find, the very best time, to plant a tree, I vow
Was years ago, but please know, the second best is now."

Now that I've heard, the spoken word, of that taller tree,
I'm finally aware, that growing there, are my mom and me.

Alex Ottenstein

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Other Side Of Haiti

I had worked, collectively, over 2 months in Haiti.
I had never left the city of Port-au-Prince. 
I had never taken a day off.  Until Wednesday, when I finally did.  
And this is where I went.
 Two days at the beach.  No one asking me questions.
No one wanting me to fix the problem.
 Just me, and the sand, and the ocean.  That's it.
 There is still beauty in this country. 
Wahoo Bay, Haiti
June 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beautiful Girls!!!

Just a few of the beautiful girls I have been 
fortunate to be surrounded by.

The smiles are irresistible!!!

Little beauties everywhere.
Project Medishare Field Hospital
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I have a little secret I would like to admit.  Something a lot of people don't know about me - I often sleep in my car.  Yep, I admit it.  Sometimes, to fill in the accommodation gaps of the travel life, I have to sleep in my car.  This isn't really as bad as it may sound.  I have a really cute car.  It is a red Subaru hatchback.  So, plenty of room to sleep in back.  (This is, in fact, why I bought the car - because I could sleep in the back).  I also sleep in some pretty amazing places.  I always sleep at a campground.  Sometimes it might be overlooking the ocean, sometimes it might be deep in a mountain valley. 

It also is not as glamorous as it may sound.  No matter where I am, I am still sleeping in my car.  Often on these nights when I have to sleep in my car thoughts start running through my head.  Often these thoughts are about how "normal" 43 year old women do not sleep in the back of their car on a regular basis.  And I start to feel like something must be wrong with me. 

Then I wake up in the morning and I remember that "normal" 43 year old women don't get to wake up to the sound of the ocean, or the smell of pine, or the sun rising over the mountains.  And I also remember that any 43 year old woman can be "normal" but not many of them can sleep in the back of their car in pursuit of something different.

I am writing this from the airport.  On my way to Haiti.  This is why I sleep in my car.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
 - Robert Frost -

I have always loved airports. 
Ever since I was a child - always. 
We did not have much reason to go to the airport when I was little.  But when we did, I remember, I got this feeling that I still get to this day anytime I am around an airport.  I did not know back then what that feeling was, but now I do.  It is the feeling of being alive.  It is the feeling of excitement, of wonder, of imagination, of dreams, of things yet to be discovered.
I love to wander around the airport.  Any airport, anywhere in the world.  I love to watch all the planes taking off and landing.  I love to see where all the planes are headed.  I love to look at the people.  What do the people look like that are going to Prague?  or Cairo?  Do they live here, or do they live there?  I make up brief little stories in my head.  Those people are Grandma and Grandpa coming from the Old World to visit all of their loved ones who have now moved to the New.  That guy over there, he has got to be some sort of foriegn correspondent for CNN - his life must be so exciting.  Pretty much where ever they are going, if I have not been, I wish I were going too. 
When I was a child and we would pass by our little Lansing airport, I would get that feeling of excitement and I of course had no idea that feeling would end up being the compass that guides my life.  That little girl, way back when, could not know what was to come.  She did not know that she would take the road less traveled by.  And that, for her, it would make all the difference.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


One of these days,
I'm gonna sit down
and write a long letter
To all the good friends I've known
And I'm gonna try
And thank them all
for the good times together.
Though so apart we've grown.

- Neil Young -

Tonight I am thinking about friends.  The quote above is the first verse to a Neil Young song.  Many years back, a year or so after I started living this different life of the road, my awesome friend Jason made me a mixed tape for the road. (So we all know it must have been a while back because, yes, it was a cassette tape).  "One of these days" was the first song on the tape.  I got choked up every time I listened to it.  It is about, I imagine, his life on the road and the great people he has met who have touched his life.  Even though he will probably never get around to writing that letter, those people still mean a lot to him.
In this strange life of travel we meet people and for a time, sometimes days, sometimes years, we form a connection with that person.  But then inevitably we move on to another destination.  And it is hard.  I never get used to saying good bye.  Except for a few family members and a few core friends, once I move on I know the friendship will change and often times we will eventually lose touch.  But they will still always be in my mind somewhere and I know that the moments that we had together were very real.  And sometimes I miss them and those moments.  I have traveled to and lived in so many different places that sometimes I feel that my life is very fragmented.  I feel like I have many different lives.  Sometimes my heart longs for Alaska so much that it actually is painful.  Sometimes I wish I could instantly transport myself back to someplace in Africa.  Sometimes I hear a song and it reminds me of some perfect moment I had out at sea and I just wish so much that I could really describe it to someone.  But I know there are very few people who will really get what I am talking about.  
The other night one of the neighbors had an evening gathering.  I could here everyone talking and laughing and for a while I felt really lonely.  Sometimes I will see someone on Facebook with their group of friends, doing some cool thing, and I am envious because I wish I had a group of friends all in one place.  One of the lines in this same song is "My friends are scattered".  I so relate to this line.  Because of this life I have chosen and created for myself, my friends are scattered.  We don't all get together to go out to the desert for the weekend or just to hang out on Friday night.  And that is one thing that is sometimes hard about this life I have created.
Please don't get me wrong.  I know I am such a lucky person.  I have many friends all over the world that I keep in touch with on a regular basis.  And I am also so fortunate to have a handful of good friends and family that I know would be there for me through anything.  But sometimes I just wish I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with them, face to face.
And tonight I am also thinking about one very amazing friend in particular.  On his path of life he has just found out that a great big mountain has been plopped down right in front of him.  And now he will have to climb that mountain, there is no way around it.  But I know he is strong.  I know he will make it to the top to see the amazing view.  This is how I envision it.  He will make it to the top of this mountain he has conquered, he will catch his breath, then - he will just keep walking.  But the next section of the trail will be just a little bit different for him.  After his long struggle up the mountain he will have so much appreciation for the ease of the trail ahead of him and the amazing vista he gets to now look at all along the way.
His name is Richard and he is in Australia.  If you met him there is no way you would not think he was great.  To anyone who reads this I just ask that you pause for a moment, first to send every ounce of positive vibes his way that you can muster, and second just to be thankful for all that you have in your life.  
Thanks for taking the time.
If you have the chance please listen to "One of These Days" by Neil Young.  It is really such a great song.