Friday, January 31, 2014

Haiti... my trip with the Mission of Hope

In November of last year, I traveled to Haiti on volunteer/mission trip.  This is a trip I have been thinking about for years and finally decided it was time to go.  I did a lot of research to determine which organization I felt was right for me.  My choice, Mission of Hope.  I made a good decision.  I was so impressed with their organization, efforts, and the great work they do in Haiti.  I would encourage you to visit their website!  The main campus is located in Titanyen, which is about a 45 minute ride north from the Port-au-Prince Airport.  MOH also has campuses in Bercy and Leveque.
Prior to my departure, I was sent a packet of items to pack, dress code, what to expect, etc.  I was also given a "wish list" of items MOH needed that are hard to find in Haiti.  I asked for donations from my family and was thrilled to be able to fill a good sized box with items of the wish list.  The night before my departure I double checked that I had everything I needed, had my box all packed up, and was ready to go.      

Time to travel.  Off I go with my suitcase, backpack, and this large box that was a little awkward to carry.  I caught the 3am bus from Portland to Logan airport (always fun).  When I arrived at Logan, I awkwardly carried all my "stuff" to the ticket counter to check in.  After the formal where are you going, can I see your ID and passport please, conversation, she gets that look on her face that instantly made me worried.  She looks at me and says, "You cannot take that box to Haiti."  HUH?  I asked why, of course.  Now, I had researched this ahead of time to be sure I could take the box and what the size and weight restrictions were so I would have no issues at the airport.  The answer came, "An embargo has been placed on any "boxes" coming into Haiti."  My response was of course when?  "Effective today."  Seriously????  I took a deep breath and explained what was in the box and politely said, what do I do now?  She said you can take it in a suitcase, just not in a box.  Luckily, she pointed me a store that sold suitcases.   End result, I purchased a new suitcase and sat in front of the ticket counter at 5:15 am in the morning ripping open my box and attempting to repack all the items into the new suitcase and fitting whatever I could into my other bag as well. It took a bit of shuffling, but I was successful!  After all that, the lady at the ticket counter was nice enough not to charge me for my bags!  Whew!  Glad that was done.  That was the only hiccup in my travel, thankfully.  I had a quick stop in NY and then landed on time in Haiti!

I found my driver quickly, gathered the others that were on flight also heading to MOH, and off we went.  I was so excited to finally be in Haiti.  I took in everything as we drove the 45 minutes to Titanyen.  When we arrived at the MOH campus, we unloaded and had a quick welcome from the staff, and settled in.  I already felt at home!

Over the next week, I fell in love with Haiti.  The people, the landscape, the culture.  Everything.  I toured the campuses in Bercy and Leveque.  I spent 4 days in the village of Simonette painting the local church, meeting the people, and playing with the children.  The people are so welcoming and the children will steal your heart!  I created special friendships with the people in my group, my interpreters, and the staff at MOH.   I was amazed at the bond that was created with the children in Simonette in the four days I spent there.  On my last day, when the children thanked us and said good bye, I cried.  It is hard to put in words the experience of this trip, so I will let my photos say the rest.

"My group" after finishing the church in Simonette.  

Kinsley, one of the interpreters, telling stories to the kids. 

Children in the orphanage at MOH.

Children at Simonette.

I watched the sunrise and sunset everyday from the roof of our building. 


 There is no doubt that I will be making a return trip to Haiti.    


Monday, February 18, 2013

First real snow....

Nemo struck hard and fast we finally have our first real snow in New England.  That means one thing to me.... time to go outside and play.  When I first arrived in Maine 14 years ago, I wasn't a fan of winter.  I learned real quick I better find a way to enjoy winter or I was going to be miserable.  As the years have passed, I have grown to absolutely love winter in Maine.

I didn't wait long to head out to Bradbury to make tracks in the snow....

Michelle on top of Bradbury having some fun.  

Shadows in the snow.

Deep snow.

Michelle and I on Bradbury.

A little tree hugging.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ecuador in pictures

I never posted anything about my trip to Ecuador, but I should have.  It is an amazing country!  Here are the highlights in photos...

Alpaca with a young boy

La Mitad del Mundo (equator)

Riding the cable car to hike the waterfalls in Mindo

Hiking Cotopaxi Volcano

Hiking to Quilotoa Lagoon

Otavalo Market

Random cattle


Amazing produce

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Racing Again

I finally decided to step up the start line again.  My plan was to run my first race on Jan 1st but for some reason I agreed to be part of two team efforts before the end of the year. 

I know I'm in trouble when my friend Laurie calls me and says, "what are you doing next weekend?"   She was looking to field a women's team for the USATF NE Grand Prix XC Championships and they needed one more body.  Anyone in their right mind would not agree to this when they haven't raced in a year.  This isn't some local XC race, this is some serious shit.  But, I said yes...

I started googling past results because my biggest fear is that I might come in last.  Not my usual position, but given my current shape and the caliber of women I would be racing against, it was a legitimate concern.  Then I also went back and looked up the last time I ran this race, which was in 2007.  Ugh.  

I didn't come in last but I was definitely at the back of the pack.  I ran hard.  Really hard.  It hurt, a lot.  And I still posted a really slow time.  I'm okay with it though because you have to start somewhere.  I had to throw that fear of posting slow times out the window and just tell myself to run and know that I will get back in shape, one race at a time. 

Here we are, me, Abby, Laurie, and Sarah.  We had a great time!! 

We are all running at Mill Cities Relay on 12/2.   

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Morning run vs the snooze button

How did I become this person who hits the snooze button??  
I have read numerous articles that all say the same thing ... it's not good to hit the snooze button ... but yet I find myself doing it.  I used to NEVER hit the snooze button but somewhere along the line I started and now it has become a hard habit to break.     

I started thinking about this when my alarm went off this morning and I knew I needed to get up and run.  I shut my alarm off and just laid there thinking...  maybe I'll just hit the snooze ... and then ... maybe I'll just reset my alarm for another 45 minutes and run after work ... and then wow you are so effing lazy, get out of bed!!  A morning run ALWAYS gives me more energy than the extra sleep.  Plus, I am always much happier when I get up and workout in the morning but somehow the snooze button has a way of being the devil on my shoulder saying just a few more minutes.

No more.  I will become that person who hops out of bed to go workout again.  I will break the habit.  There will be no more snooze buttons.  There will be no more resetting the alarm.  But until then, I may need a little reminder every time my alarm goes off... whatever it takes!! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How did I get here and how fast can I get out?

Being out of shape and carrying more weight than I know I should is a tough spot to be for me.  I just don't feel myself.

I have a few excuses that are legit for me not working out.  1) Injury.  2) Being sick.  3) Stress.  (Is stress really a legit excuse? I say yes.)  Unfortunately, that was only part of the reason.  I take full responsibility for not keeping my diet in check during this phase and also having several days of turning off the alarm and going back to bed or packing my gym bag to go after work and then not going.  

Well, no matter how it happened, I'm here.  And I don't like it.  I want to click my heels and instantly lose weight and be back in shape.  I want instant gratification! 

I'm giving myself 30 seconds to whine.  Ready go....  I hate the way I look right now.  I hate the way I feel right now.  I can feel the 10 lbs when I run.  I am slow slow slow.  How did I ever run a marathon?  I feel like I'm starting over.  UGH!!!!  Okay, times up....

My mother always taught me to see the positive in everything, so let's look at the upside. 
  • I can run today!  I'm not injured anymore. 
  • My body is completely rested.  I have no aches or pains anywhere. 
  • I am coming back into it during the best possible weather, no snow or ice to deal with. 
  • I still have at least 8-10 weeks before anyone will have to see me in a swimsuit (outside of lap swimming that is, and that doesn't count).
  • My motivation is coming back.
  • I have no place to go but up. 
  • I am ready to have fun doing this.

Slow and steady, the journey has begun. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Catching up on the changes and everything else

My life has been turned on it's head over the past few months.  I finally feel like things are somewhat back to normal and I can finally breathe!  Just a quick recap of events to let you know what happened to me.... 1) I quit my job after 11 years and traded it in for something less stressful.  2) I finally got released from PT and could run, but... 3) I caught the cold from hell and coughed my lungs up for four weeks straight.  4)  I saw the end of a relationship. 5) I gained 10 lbs due to not exercising during the coughing fest.  I'm not sure that anyone should have that much shit going on at once, BUT I feel like I have made it through to the other side.  Although there were a few times I thought maybe I may not make it....

I love my new job.  I feel as if I have settled in and it feels like a really good fit.  There definitely is something to be said about less stress and quality of life.
I am finally working out again.  My running is slow but I know it will get better.  Practicing patience.  I never feel normal if I can't work out so being back out there again feels great!   I made it into the Mount Washington Road Race again.  I'm pretty psyched about it even though I know it will hurt like hell on the way up.  Other than that, I have not signed up for anything else.  It feels a little weird but I really want to just take it slow and get back in shape before I pressure myself into racing again.  And of course I need to take off that 10 lbs too!!

Traveling is one of things I promised myself I would start doing this year.  So ... I took a trip to Quebec City between jobs.  It is an awesome city and I am planning another trip back up once it warms up. 

I am also planning my vacation to Ecuador at the end of the summer.  Luckily my Spanish is coming along and will come in handy! 

And, I am hoping to spend many more weekends in the White Mountains this year.  In fact, I may never unpack my camping gear!

I have one of the signs in my kitchen that says, "If you're handed it, you can handle it."  I hope I'm not handed anything else for awhile and I can just kick back and enjoy life.