Tuesday, April 27, 2010

bullets kill in many ways, apparently

things i really like about the past week:
  • sorting out my vietnamese visa (this might be a bit premature as i am hoping what i have tried will work)
  • having 10 committed volunteers put on a flawless event to raise awareness about our organisation and human trafficking
  • a 20km run
  • time off last night to get a cheap and cheerful pedicure as i plan on wearing a lot of sandals very soon
  • my herb garden sprouting 10 sprouts
  • being interviewed by cbc radio
  • the new plants & animals cd
  • dinner and drinks with two girls that laugh at my jokes
  • tim finally got voted off american idol.  finally.
  • ironing to destress
  • a new white cardigan, which i call an INVESTMENT
  • having a contact in pattaya AND the hotel i will be staying in in pattaya
things i could've done without:
  • the verbal attack directed towards me by someone at the event who was clearly misinformed and out of turn (she later apologised and acknowledged we knew what we were doing)
  • the 1 review of the event that personally attacked me (apparently i now have enemies) out of about 50
  • meetings where people talked over one another
  • other meetings that lacked leadership
  • stubbing my toe really hard on my suitcase (which illicited fears that my 20km run was not going to happen due to a broken toe) and then whacking my elbow really hard on the corner of my wall (which just really hurt)
  • arrogant people who affiliate themselves with international development causes and then act all high and mighty as if they know everything
  • grenade attacks in bangkok that killed 3 people
  • yesterday's work-related anxiety
  • today's tax-related anxiety
  • tomorrow's packing-related anxiety (ok, a bit premature here, but i know it is coming!)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

29 + 2

a few days early, but i wanted to reflect on the work to my goals for 2010 before i jet off again this weekend.

1 - conquer my anxiety, or at least win a few battles against it.  april has been a good month.  a really busy month, but as far as anxiety is concerned, a good month.  it probably helped that any anxiety felt was because i was utterly swamped with life and work and that type of stress can be overwhelming, but i have always had an easier time dealing with this type than anxiety coming from uncertainty, emotional turmoil, or the feelings i get when i feel stagnant.

2 - be more thoughtful of others, especially around special events, days, occassions.  i haven't done anything particularly effective in april towards this, but have plans to prepare thank you cards and give a good friend who just ran the boston marathon a card to congratulate her on that incredible accomplishment.  this goal is most important and timely as i had 10 committed and hardworking volunteers who made the screening of call + response yesterday a success!

3 - continue making visiting family and friends a priority.  i am booked to visit my papa on vancouver island in june and in an unexpected twist of events, i will be meeting up with and appreciating the hospitality of a friend in vietnam.  i had seriously considered a trip to chicago, but unfortunately, that will have to be put off for the time being as i don't know that i will still have a job if i don't show up for more than 2 consecutive weeks at a time!

4 - nail down some sort of short-term career goals.  nothing nailed down, but this course that i am going on in thailand will certainly open doors and help me solidify if i want to work in emergency situations again (i think i do) and i am really looking forward to meeting the other participants and the facilitators and learning from them and making more connections.

my day job is also gearing up lately and although it is not necessarily exactly what i would like to be doing in years to come, i continue to get more work and opportunities so i am happy to stick it out and have it pay the bills for a little while longer.

5 - lay a nest egg to accompany my nest.  failing.  utterly failing.  but should be meeting with my accountant to sort out my taxes before i leave the country again.  but apparently, international travel is not cheap!  but i promise to get on that nest egg as soon as i get back home.  really, i mean it this time.  this means no more shopping for dresses or eating out at delicious spots or pretty things for my nest.  for awhile.

6 - eat more balanced, regular meals.  i am getting better at this, especially because i have been cooking more often and then eating my leftovers (even for lunch a few times to save my pennies!) so i always have decent food at hand.  i also have been more careful of what i eat the evening before big runs and immediately before a run.  this past weekend i ran 20km and was absolutely starving by 16km though so i still have some more to learn about how to fuel my body properly.

and it pays to mention here that i loved the food in mexico, as i had expected after being away from the country for a few years.  guacamole, pico de gallo, chilaquiles, machaca, oaxacan cheese!

7 - sleep an appropriate amount.  it was great to sleep in mexico (although in a rather uncomfortable bed) and not have to get up to head to work or out for an early morning run.  since i returned, however, i have been sleeping enough (well, barely), but not very restfully.  i have been having dreams about what i have to do the next day and am having some anxiety in my sleep!  not quite like dreaming in bollywood, is it?

8 - maintain my priorities.  wow, this month gave me a run for my money in the priority department.  sadly, i let my running go this past week as i gathered up all the stuff for the event yesterday and picked up deliveries from the bus station, and organised volunteers.  in this same week, i had my car serviced,  lost and found my wallet, attended the volunteer calgary awards (even though we did not win), baked my boss cookies for his birthday, went out for a lovely dinner at san remo (yum!), did an interview with the cbc, went for another dinner at una (yum!) and 3 bottles of wine with my girlfriends, and managed to tidy my nest and do a lot of laundry.  it was a struggle, but i think i managed my time well and was careful not to make too many additional commitments over and above what i was capable of (apart from the cookies, that was excessive, but i need favours as i am taking time off again!)

i am hoping that i can have some more much needed downtime (i know, i know, i just got back from a week in mexico with my family...) in vietnam.  oh, did i mention i am going to vietnam?  well, i am!  a little add-on vacation after my time in thailand, which i am very excited and a little nervous about.

9 - keep asking for what i want.  i am going to thailand!  to stay in a 5 star hotel!  i was supposed to go to bangkok for the training that i mentioned last month, but they changed it to pattaya after the grenade attacks in bangkok last week.  i was a little disappointed as i really like bangkok and was looking forward to doing some shopping in my favourite districts, but i will just have to explore a new city instead.  one that just happens to be on the beach!
all of this came from applying to be included in this training, so i think that asking for what i want is paying off!  i also had to ask for time off (although as i am a contractor, no one can really say no) and that wasn't much fun, but had to be done.  next up, ask my volunteers to plan another kick ass event!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

what's my middle name?

how was mexico, you might ask?

it was fantastic!  i have lots of great photos to post, which i will likely put on facebook, and a few hilarious stories to tell, but it seems that as soon as my plane touched down last saturday, i have been running at full tilt.

one of my pet peeves is when people talk about how busy they are.  and i am as guilty of it as the next person.  i also thought that my life would be able to slow down just a titch once i returned from mexico and this weekend's film screening is out of the way.

but no.  oh, no, no, no.

then this training opportunity in thailand came up (which is still a big, old yay), i decided to go to vietnam after the training, and i have become some sort of 'right hand man' to my boss at my day job.  i am not sure how any of this happened.

except the part where i thought, 'wait, i am going to be in thailand, which is ever-so-relatively-close to vietnam, where i have always wanted to go AND i have a friend living in northern vietnam right now.  is that not sort of like a sign from the universe that i must go?'  and i quickly answered my own rhetorical question by booking my return flight nearly 2 weeks after the conclusion of the training...

in the midst of finalising the details of this saturday's event, i am now up to my eyeballs in meetings with people from all over the company during the days, i am living in an absolutely pigsty because my house is a tip, and i have no idea a) how much i owe in taxes or b) how exactly to figure this out if my accountant doesn't return my phone calls.

but 2 of my herbs in my herb garden have sprouted!  and even though the training location has had to be relocated outside of bangkok due to those protests, they assure me that the possible venues are 'very attractive' and i booked my first night's stay at bangkok airport in a hotel that has 24 hour massage facilities.  and although i am sure they would hook me up with that kind of massage if i requested, i am sure i can get me a nice (and legitimate) rubdown in the middle of the night as i will be jetlagged and wide awake at 4am.

unfortunately, this trip will mean that i will miss the first of 2 half marathons that i am registered in and my fitness will certainly take a hit from not running for 2 weeks.  but in exchange, i will receive an incredible networking opportunity, excellent training, a week in some swank hotel in a beach town, and then 10 days in vietnam.  there will be other races.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

hear ye, hear ye

come and see call + response, a 'rockumentary' about international human trafficking this weekend in calgary and support the Action Coalition on human Trafficking (ACT)!  the film will be followed by a Q&A on human trafficking in alberta, ACT's response and how you can get involved.

the plaza theatre
entrance by donation at the door

more info available here.

Friday, April 09, 2010

waking up to opportunity

after weeks of having no idea what i want to be when i grow up, i woke up this morning to two emails.

one telling me that i have been selected to participate in a week long training to be part of ocha's protection capacity roster in bangkok.  there were only 5 spots for canadians and i got one.  thank you norwegian government.

and another inviting me to be interviewed for a position in uzbekistan with one of the few un agencies that i would like to work with.  i am really not sure it is the right fit for me, but i will answer their questions about my strengths, weaknesses, knowledge of trafficking of persons (lots) and drugs (none) and see what they have to say.

so, yay.

and decisions.

and a little bit of eek, too.

but mostly, yay.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

orphange tourism

if you are interested in making my skin crawl and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, all you simply must do is tell me that you or someone you know are planning on heading to africa to volunteer at an orphanage.

for quite some time, i wasn't sure why exactly this thought upset me so much, but recently i have read some people's clearly articulated thoughts that seem to take the confusing train wrecks of information in my head and put it more succintly than i have been able to.
the only thing that i can add to their insightful commentary is that i successfully convinced someone not to go to africa to volunteer the other day and instead to simply go as a tourist to appreciate the gorgeous flora and fauna, meet some interesting people, and take photos along the way.  just like tourists to other places regularly do.

so that's something.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

as i do when i get lazy

here are some interesting things that i came across, did, or thought today:
  • asian soup should not be attempted in my nest.  i made some, did not enjoy it, and ended up putting the whole pot down the garburator, shame.  the seaweed disintegrated in the broth and it made my house smell.  now what do i do with an entire package of seaweed?
  • i saw a police officer just hanging out in his car outside of the superstore and i am sure it is connected to the recent incidents of food tampering in the city.  here is my question, why aren't the people who are caught (or person, as they've only caught one and suspect there are other copy cats) charged with terrorism?  i must acknowledge my ignorance of laws covering terrorism in canada and alberta, but they are essentially causing terror of a certain degree amongst the million people in the city considering the majority of us buy our food at the major grocery stores.  not cool.
  • i bought m&m's to put in my friend's care package that will be sent to east timor and then i opened them and am now eating them on the couch while watching american idol.  talk about taking the life of luxury for granted!
  • i had 'the canadian' at frilly lilly today and had a giggle when i made my appointment.
  • i watched a documentary on the mormons that was broadcast on pbs in 2007.  fascinating stuff!  the whole thing can be seen on the pbs website and if you are at all interested in how the church of jesus christ of latter day saints came to be or what the hell it is all about, watch this.  it explains it without bias or judgement or without trying to sell you on to their (crazy) stories.  i guess i am not as unbiased and nonjudgemental.  but really, watch the 4 hours of it and are sure to learn a lot.
  • i bought a new dress.  did i need a new dress?  absolutely not.  but it was 40% off!  and that peachy-orange colour that i love right now!  and it is a petite size!  and now that i look it up on the american website, i realise that i could've saved even more money if i bought it south of the 49th with this crazy exhange rate we have going on right now.
  • i returned a book that i wasn't enjoying.  i had never done that before.  i had a pang of guilt, but it passed.
  • i am having some anxiety about not being prepared to go on a week long vacation.  i think i have more stress when going to an all-inclusive resort on a beach than i do adventuring around a foreign place.  so much pressure, i tell ya.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

trafficking on TED

i love the ted talks.  i have been waiting for them to post one on human trafficking that i felt was relevant, timely, and factual.  and here it is: Dr Kevin Bales on human trafficking.

enjoy.  or whatever you say when you want someone to learn something new through watching an interesting and disturbing video.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

challenges the same in canada as in african countries?

today i had 2 meetings.

the first was with a woman representing the epitome of what a non-profit organisation should not be.  territorial under the allusion of collaboration, interrogative, and seemingly all-knowing about what works and what doesn't.  vague, driven by a belief and a passion, but without the professionalism that is needed to build strong relationships and learn how to do what you do better.  afterwards, i felt as though i had been interviewed and evaluated, which led me to do some additional research of their organisation.  i learned that they are younger than we are and there are a number of reasons they cannot obtain charitable status in canada.

my second meeting was wonderful.  with a woman representing a local funder that seems to be innovative, responsive, and open to listening to the unique challenges and funding appropriately.  she listened, she asked intelligent questions, she paraphrased and articulated what i was trying to say with clarity.  she made suggestions on which funding streams we might want to apply for and began a conversation that will hopefully result in a relationship that will devlop into funding.  she liked my ideas on what the funding could be used for and i felt empowered to inform her of where i felt there are gaps in service provision and organisational governance.

my brain has been wrapped around the issues of international development and humantarian aid lately, through the books i have been reading, through contemplating my career path, and in my participation on recent panel discussions about foreign aid to africa.  and here i am, struggling with the same things here in canada.

funny, that.