African Heart, American Summer

Plains of Mozambique

So, let’s just get this out in the open: yesterday my summer Africa trip was canceled and for pretty silly reasons. I had a good cry over the thought of the friends I won’t be seeing, but today I am feeling better.
The truth is, I could let this job stress eat me alive, or I could embrace the new challenges it presents and move along with a smile. I talked to my dad on Sunday for a routine family weekend catch-up and could hear the panic in his voice on the other end when he heard me holding back sobs. It is hard enough going through this kind of emotional nonsense without putting extra worry on those around me. I’ll be fine. In fact, I’ll be better than fine. In that internal evaluation I’ve been conducting I realized that I’ve got a pretty good grasp of running a successful nonprofit. I love public health. My passport proves I’m willing to travel and commit myself to my work. The right agency is looking for a new leader and it is about time they met my resume. And then my baking. But hopefully not my blog.

Hanging out at the orphanage with the workers

While you may be able to take away my plane ticket to Africa, you cannot take away my love for the continent, my passion for my work, my mission to help those in need. Dude, Africa is in my heart. (I feel a bit like that Lee Greenwood song right about now.)

Keith and I walk through the villages

Things I’m pretty darn happy about today (both shallow and divine):
1. Spending gobs of time with my friends and their families during Easter, including the Brennan clan. Meg and I have been close friends for more than ten years and now I get to watch her in action with her first son, Roscoe. He is simply adorable. I love Meg’s husband Scott too (always a perk) and Meg’s family is like an extension of my own. I tagged along for dinner with the entire family last night and it felt routine in a great way.
If I haven’t said it this week, I am exceptionally blessed with great friendships. I have more people who care about me and my well-being than I can count. What more can you ask for?

2. New Madonna! Woo hoo!

3. I’m cooking a southern feast per request of the Salty Senor to celebrate his birthday at community dinner tomorrow night. New recipes, a full house of friends, lots of food and we’re going bowling for dessert. Yee haw!

4. The Wednesday food section of the NYT.

5. I’m so taking this “commute to work on your bike” class. Free classes at REI inspire me to buy a great backpack and see a lot of the Western United States on foot this summer. I’ve got weeks of vacation time to burn and suddenly a month of my life handed back State-side. See? Tell me that ain’t some sweet lemonade.

Lator gators,

26 Replies to “African Heart, American Summer”

  1. Love, love, LOVE to you and your sunny attitude and outlook on all this, and that first picture up there..
    And that Southern feast better have biscuits..fried okra would be a good choice least 1 fried dish..

  2. I have much admiration for people in public health and I’m so sorry you won’t be able to go on your long-awaited trip. The surgeon I work for is in India today and leaving for Pakistan tomorrow to do cleft lip and palate surgeries. I so badly wanted to go with him. It broke my heart to see him go.

    Good for you for being able to see the bright side of life. That’s a wonderful attribute that I think gets honed by working with those less fortunate than ourselves. Been fun reading your blog.

  3. You are amazing. Your ability to take some circumstances that your not thrilled about and turn them into adventure is terrific. Saying a prayer for you today and sending you a great big smile via the internet. :0) :0) Okay, make it 2.

  4. Suh-weet! I’m so sorry that your Africa trip fell through for this summer, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what all life has in store for you on the other side of this transition you’re going through. Very exciting stuff!

    I’ll be praying for you. 🙂

  5. According to my in-laws (who packed it up and lived on the road for over 10 years), the great big US of A is worth seeing. I will leave out their jingo-ist opinions, but you get the idea. Enjoy what life has handed you. Perhaps that new non-profit in search of leadership is waiting for you in the back hamlets of this country. Appalachia? Idaho? Michigan? California? South Dakota? Mississippi?

    Can’t wait to follow your adventures, wherever they take you.

    ps. biscuits and gravy. Nuff said.

  6. Oh, honey. You are just the greatest. What aid agency wouldn’t want you? And now you’ve got Lee Greenwood stuck in my head, god bless him. That song never made me choke up until I was an ex-pat. Now, pass the kleenex! And bike commute while you can. I haven’t figured out how to drop off two kiddos and still make it to work on time on a bike.
    (((Hugs, sweetie!))))

  7. Listening to you pull yourself out of a funk is an inspiration to me. I’ve been lingering in a job unhappiness funk for too long. It’s time to stop pouting and make some changes for myself. 🙂

    Also, I agree with Betsy, biscuits are a definite must… with honey. YUM! And of course fried chicken. My southern grandma also makes excellent garlic cheese grits and mashed potatoes with so much butter they melt in your mouth. Ohh and pecan pie. Ok now I’m just hungry!!

  8. Kelli, you are AMAZING! Your generosity with your time and talents is inspiring – thank you for sharing it all for us wacky weird blog strangers! (or am I only describing myself?)

    Can’t wait to see your southern feast. I haven’t had fried okra since I was in elementary school (I’d probably have a different perspective now), but I do miss Mom’s homemade mac and cheese. I don’t know how I grew up in Alabama without ever eating biscuits and gravy or without ever liking collard greens, but I suppose I was a strange child.

    Take care, and keep moving forward with all your work – with or without that plane ticket!!!

  9. Those who love Africa THAT much will always get back there, one way or another. The times I’ve left I’ve bawled to the point of embarrassment thinking, “I’ll never go back.” I’ve been 100% wrong so far 🙂 So keep your chin up, keep truckin’, keep your great attitude and passionate dedication alive – Africa needs people like you, I know you’ll find yourself there in no time.

  10. Hmmm…makes you want to reconsider a trip to Napa for a wine tasting on July 26th. I have been eyeing ticket prices.

    Good luck with the hunt. Any nonprofit would be happy to have you!

  11. Good for you for re-adjusting so quick! I’m curious – did you always have an interest in Africa, or was it something that developed after being there?

  12. Kelli,

    It has been so hard to read your recent posts about what is going on with you, not because of the subject matter, but because someone as sweet as you shouldn’t be having such a difficult go of things, it’s just not right.

    You’re doing just the thing though, looking at life from the bright side, that’s the way to get through the bad times.

    New better opportunities await you, they have to, because you are so passionate, caring, and devoted there’s no way anything else would happen. You will return to Africa my friend, and when you get there, you are gonna help like you’ve never helped before, it’s inevitable!!

    In the meantime, keep swimming forward…this too shall pass.

    Your friend, Larissa

  13. just keep swimming (imagine a Dory voice here)!

    sorry to hear about the drama, but with the attitude you are tackling it with, you will come out on top for sure!

  14. Bless you, Kelli! I know your heart aches in the Africa trip cancellation but I applaud your honesty in saying so and then pulling yourself up and going on towards a new future. I don’t know if this is in your bailiwick but CDC is hiring and there’s lots of travel involved.

  15. You always do so well with challenges. Your strong will and faith will get you through this too!

    If you come through Denver, please let me know and we’ll schedule some sewing time together! Bring your Anna Tunic and we’ll figure it out!

  16. Kelli, you truly have a heart of gold. I am sure something positive will come your way, because you deserve it.

  17. I love all the positive thinking. Good on ya!

    I just checked my local REI for the bike to work class and they don’t have it. If you are willing to share, I would love to know what tips they have. I’ve been thinking about biking to work, but “professional dress” is required and hoisery and bicycles don’t really work. Neither does changing into wrinkled suits from my back pack. I’m still thinking about an electric bike (solar powered of course), but I’m not fully committed yet.

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