Kenya pics

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Just call me Jungle Tanisha

Bush bathroom break with baboon passing by

Bush bathroom break with baboon passing by

Early morning hot air balloon ride

Early morning hot air balloon ride

Children in the Masai Village

Children in the Masai Village

Masai women

Masai women

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Birding and Smiles

If there is something that makes someone smile, be open enough to learn about it. It might be the thing that comes to make you smile.
Lilac breasted roller

A funny thing happened on my safari in Kenya. I was introduced to the world of Birding. Clearly, I was unaware of how serious the sport of Birding was, because there were a few people on our trip who were more interested in seeing the birds than they were in seeing real (as I call them) animals. There were quite a few older people (75 and up) on the trip. One in particular was a fanatic Birder. Somehow I kept ending up in the same jeep as her which meant we had to stop and look at every single bird that we saw. You can imagine that there were thousands of birds and you can picture the look on my face everytime we had to stop to look at one. At one point, I was so fed up I wanted to scream, “F@*k the birds, I want to see some cats!”. Luckily, I was raised better than that and kept my thoughts to myself.  Eventually, I realized I was fighting a losing battle and decided that if I couldn’t beat ’em, I’d join ’em. So I started actually looking at the birds with the binoculars each time we stopped and grew to appreciate the birds. Some were pretty extraordinary and began to really enjoy it. I had to laugh at myself when one time I actually blurted out, “Stop! There’s a interesting looking bird”. Nancy (the Birder) couldn’t have been more thrilled that I was now enjoying birding. I started talking to her about her love for birding and learned that it brought her so much joy that she has traveled to many countries on birding trips. This is a woman who had lost her husband a few years ago, but always had a smile on her face. I then thought that I wish I could find something that made me as happy as birding made her. Well, I’m not officially a Birder, but I do appreciate the sport thanks to Nancy.  The lesson learned from this experience is: if there is something that makes someone smile, be open enough to learn about it. It might be the thing that comes to make you smile.

Here’s a pic of the lilac-breasted roller which was one of my favorites and one of the most beautiful we saw.

Back from Kenya, back to reality

I’m back from Kenya and things are getting back to “normal”. I am no longer homeless (moved back into my condo after subletting it for the summer) and no longer jobless (more to come in the next entry). I thought I would feel good about this, but it has taken some getting used to. First, moving back into my condo was weird. I didn’t feel completely comfortable and had mixed emotions about being back. Maybe because others had been in my place, but I’m slowly adjusting. Getting my mind around actually working is hard, but I am thankful to have an offer. I guess I’ll have to find a way to tell my sister and brother-in-law that I must turn down the nanny position they offered me.

All in all, things couldn’t have worked out better for me. I had the most amazing summer and have done things that I never could have guessed I would have done six months ago. Kenya was absolutely amazing and I have so many great shot of every animals you can imagine. We saw the Big Five, which are the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot in Africa. They are the Elephant, Lion, Cape Buffalo, Rhino, and Leopard. In addition to the Big Five, we saw Cheetahs, Zebras, Hyenas, Wildebeest, Impala, Tompson Gazelles, Baboons, Birds, Waterbucks, Hippos, Giraffes, Flamingo’s and more.

Summer Adventure #2: Kenya Safari

Update: Something happened to the first picture I posted on this entry, so I updated it with an actual photo that I took while on safari. This was one of my favorite moments when a cheetah killed a baby impala.

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My second (and last) summer adventure begins this week. I’m going on a 13-day safari in Kenya! Tonight, I fly to London to spend a few days before flying to Nairobi on Friday. From there I’ll visit four different camps throughout Kenya. I’ve never been to London or Kenya and I am particularly excited about my first trip to the African continent. I apologize if this comes as a surprise to anyone. I’ve been getting a lot of flack from friends saying that I never mentioned this trip. This wasn’t intentional. I just think it was overshadowed by my spontaneous trip to Spain. This trip was actually planned a year ago and was supposed to be my big trip for the year. Well, life happens leading to infinite possibilities…and here I am having two amazing trips this summer.

I am not taking my computer and will not have Internet access to do real-time updates so I am posting my itinerary below. I will keep a written journal and will upload some posts upon my return. I am all about new experiences and this trip brings about even more “firsts” this year. Who would have thought turning 30 would be this good? Here are a few firsts:

  • London
  • Kenya (anywhere in Africa)
  • Safari
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Mt. Kilamanjaro
  • Masai warriors
  • …to be continued…

If I have done one thing this summer, I hope I have inspired someone to travel. To take that trip you’ve always wanted to take or to go see that statue you’ve always wanted to see or to go visit that relative you haven’t seen in a while. Travel is one of my loves and one avenue that fosters the most growth for me. I know traveling may not be that thing for you, but take some time to figure out what it is, and then do it! Life is too short to sit back and wait for happiness to come. We have to go out find it for ourselves!

Working towards your strengths

A friend told me to take the Strengths Finder assessment a long time ago and somehow I didn’t get around to it until now. Perhaps, at that time, I wasn’t in a place to reap the true value of this. The book came up again recently during an interview. I walked into the Director’s office and saw all three Strengths Finder books prominently standing up on her desk.  I got excited and we ended up talking for a while about the books and how it was used in the company. I was quite impressed and decided I wanted to take the assessment. The next day, I bought the book and took the assessment. The timing was perfect because I’m conducting a very focused job search targeted for  job roles and organization cultures that are in line with my strengths and interests.

The concept of focusing on strengths is a shift from my last career, where the emphasis was placed on developmental areas. Everyone at every level of the company had developmental areas, so there was a greater emphasis on this than catering to strengths.  While I generally liked my job, I recognized early on that it often caused nervous energy for me. I realized that the nervousness came whenever I was working in an area that wasn’t a strengths or interest for me. My belief is that there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to developing weaknesses. There needs to be a certain level of proficiency and understanding, but after that time is wasting trying to develop weaknesses into strengths. It’s unnatural and takes away from time spent working in strength areas.

Here are my top 5 strengths from Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment:

  1. Maximizer
  2. Connectedness
  3. Futuristic
  4. Relator
  5. Intellection

This assessment has insight that is valuable to all types of relationships: co-workers, friends, family, mates/spouses, children. I’ll use the Intellection strengths as one example of how dead on this assessment was for me. Here’s a brief description:

Shared Theme Description: People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

Ideas for Action: People may think you are aloof or disengaged when you close your door or spend time alone. Help them understand that this is simply a reflection of your thinking style, and that it results not from a disregard for relationships, but from a desire to bring the most  you can to those relationships.

The Ideas for Action section gives suggestions on how to put this strength to use and things to share with others. I wish I had read this when I was in business school and shared it with my roommate. I remember one day her saying that she used to get offended when I would go in my room and close the door for a while, but after a while she just learned that its what I do and it wasn’t directed at her.  She didn’t understand how I could go in my room and close the door for an hour and then reemerge ready to talk and play.

I couldn’t believe she thought this was directly at her because it was not my intention. When I read the description above, I thought about her. It is dead on in expressing the purpose for needing to be alone…to ultimately be able to strengthen the relationship. While I know these things about myself, I have to remember that others don’t necessarily know these things about me because they have  a different  way of framing things based on their own strengths. This book is a great way to deepen the understand of yourself and foster better relationships in your life.

So here’s to Quita for learning about my strengths the hard way. Thanks for being patient!

Dwell in possibility

I’ve been back from Spain for three weeks and I’m starting to get bored. The first two weeks flew by because I had a bunch of meetings, coffees and job interviews. I came back with an aggressive, targeted plan for my job search and it worked well, or so I thought. Perhaps I was too aggressive and should have saved some meetings for week 3. This week is going so slow and I have been unproductive to a fault. I know that I am the least productive when I have unstructured free time. It seems counterintuitive, but logical given my action-oriented nature. For the first time since I was laid off six months ago, I actually uttered the words, “I’m ready to start working again”. The horror!

I have not received any offers yet, but I do have a few things brewing. It’s coming…I can feel it. While I’m waiting patiently, I’ll take this time to dwell in the possibility of what’s to come.

Aligning your environment with your state of mind

“Beware of the company you keep. Happiness is contagious and so is negativity. People who are not happy themselves cannot be happy for you. Hurt people tend to hurt people.”

Your environment directly influences your behavior and state of mind. Therefore, there needs to be consistency between your thoughts, actions and environment.  The first thing you consider when you plan a vacation is which location is best suited to support the experience you want to have. If you want a peaceful, relaxing experience you’d consider a small island or cabin in the mountains, not a big city.  We are often very critical when assessing our external environments (e.g. work, neighborhoods, Starbuck’s) and the people in these environments, except when it comes to those closest to us like friends and associates.

Emotions can be contagious. Have you ever noticed that when someone starts complaining, you start to complain as well. Or when someone smiles as you, you automatically smile back. What you put out is often what is returned, and what is given to you often has a direct influence on how you feel. So beware of the company you keep. Happiness is contagious and so is negativity. People who are not happy themselves cannot be happy for you. Hurt people tend to hurt people.