The Heels Have Clicked

Back in another airport. Are you sick of reading those words yet?

As I wait to board a plane to the coast where I spent the last dozen years, it is no triumphant return.

For better or for worse, I have made a vow to California. This visit East is to say farewell – at least, for now. There is reluctance, trust me. I am fearful of what it means to make a decision to stay in a place with no definitive reason to do so. There is no job offer enticing me to stay in the Golden State. I still find myself impatient with some of the slower-paced San Franciscans. When fall hits, I am going to be longing for the rock-your-world foliage of the Adirondacks and wishing deeply for the plentiful apple cider of upstate New York.

Yet thanks to some pretty fabulous weather, a grandmother who brings me bananas after I fall asleep (ask me about it) and a church community that has given me roots and growth at the same time, I can’t deny the longing to stay here. Blame it on the drudgery of wanderlust, or the allure of start-ups and playground-like offices. It’s not quite ‘home’ yet, but the potential. Oh, the potential.

IMG_3898

Sonoma

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San Francisco

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay

 

And if I were holding Toto and wearing shiny ruby slippers, I have a feeling I would open my eyes after three heel clicks and find myself facing the Pacific.

#nolongerinnaefarawayplace

Link

A Tragedy that Reflects Back Hope

For all those who took the time to read Ki’s story (and comment online or to me directly!), thank you.

Leah Loves That Photography

Credit: Leah Loves That Photography

Toya didn’t flee from country to country. Her first language is English. Yet what this Pittsburgh woman made of her life is inspiring, incredible and illuminating. Even without meeting this woman face-to-face, her story drew me in. Take a look.

Link

When Two Worlds Collide

You may accuse me of being quiet.

(This is partially true. I feel that my tendency to be an extreme extrovert has weakened with time).

The words are still spilling out, though! The reason for my silence on my blog and other social media outlets is all the planning and tweeting and writing I’m doing for Kiva Zip. If you don’t know what that is, I will cast no judgment if you go now and make a $5 loan! 😉

That being said, I still wistfully think about my former reporter life. Having conversations via Twitter is not quite the same as face-to-face.

Then the opportunity came in the form of a meeting with a Cambodian woman who was forced to take refuge in Vietnam and then immigrated to the U.S. She and her husband want to borrow $5,000 to help their small sandwich shop succeed.

Ki Giang

For a little while, philanthropy and reporting are going hand-in-hand. Meet Ki. 

Not in Kansas Yet

A few confessions:

  1. I avoid Home Goods like the plague.
  2. The photo of my family in my living room dated back to my high school graduation until I changed it out just two years ago.
  3. I refuse to buy a salad spinner even though I desperately covet it.

 

Stay away.

Stay away.

 

Let’s unpack these, shall we?

 

Since college, I discovered that I inadvertently chose a nomadic life when I chose to enter broadcast journalism. From contract to contract, I found myself in places I had never even heard of. Moving became commonplace. Minimizing my possessions seemed necessary.

Then I’d enter a friend’s beautifully decorated house and feel envy.

 

I dream of a home. Home means a space I can decorate, with the creature comforts of ottomans filled with board games, a wine cabinet and a memory foam bathmat. I know, my fantasies are extravagant.

settlers

Source of fun. Takes up too much space.

 

There are so many physical items I have refused to purchase until I can guarantee the next and possibly final destination of my life. I am waiting for the freedom to call a place home without an end date in place.

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas... yet.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas… yet.

 

There seems to be potential in the area of San Francisco. If only I could click my heels twice and know. However, I will be lugging a percentage of my belongings across the country in a meager few suitcases. The rest will remain in a generous and clever friend‘s basement and wait to be unpacked… one day.

 

Did I tell you how much I enjoy unpacking? Ask my friends Annie and Steve: I unpacked their entire kitchen in an afternoon and managed to send a few boxes to the dumpster while I was at it. The enjoyment comes from knowing each item has its place. It will return to the space in which it dwells.

 

Unlike their kitchenware, I’m still #innaefarawayplace. Sure, I lived in NYC for two months but I tacked that hashtag all over my Instagram feed. I know New York isn’t an exotic place. In fact, I remained in the same state as my last job. Not so far away.

Also, even though the opposite coast awaits me for the first half of 2015, it’s very likely that I will continue to use that phrase. This journeying isn’t over yet. I have yet to find my Kansas.

 

And when I do, I’ll buy my first salad spinner.

How to Make the Right Decisions

A wise man (also known as a friend of mine) says he faces at least 20 forks in the road each day. How do you decide which direction to take at each crossroads?

 

In his words:

Pick the path that means more for someone else and less of yourself.*

 

This is not to say that you allow yourself to be stomped on, crushed, ignored and forgotten. Rather, if there is a benefit to someone else, it is very likely that should be the choice you make, even if you walk away with no apparent reward.

 

Completely counterintuitive. What about getting ahead, stepping atop others to attain success? I looked at him a bit skeptically across the table.

 

—-

My mother came and sat down on my bed right after I pulled the covers up to my chin. “I have something I want to talk to you about.”

I sat up.

“I’ve been thinking this for awhile. You are too nice.”

“Huh?!” my high school self exclaimed.

“You are too nice,” said my mother. “You will be taken advantage of, if you haven’t already. You need to be more selfish. Your dad and I have discussed this. Stop being so nice.”

I fell back onto the bed in disbelief.

 

As my friend and I unpacked this concept, I realized that my parents and I were both wrong.

 

As painful as it is to admit, there have been too many ulterior motives in my kindnesses. Was I really offering to cook a meal for a family because I genuinely felt the burden of a newborn child? Well, yes and no, because I have never raised an infant. However, there is a tiny corner of Innae realizing there is some social perk to performing this public deed. I will be viewed as altruistic! I will not be wasting my time! I will be considered a great cook! (highly unlikely) And I will feel good about myself!

 

Select service, Ted* urges. Give my time, energy, wisdom, all of it away.

 

He isn’t the only one to say such nonsensical words. Who can forget this?

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

[Mark 12:30-31]

 

‘Tis the season for giving. Time will tell if I’m ready to make it year-round.

 

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*This is paraphrased. Sorry, Ted.

One More Airport

I haven’t been in New York City long, but I will admit the Big Apple has become quite satisfying. Sure, I’m still the person who takes candy from strangers on the subway and then spins like a ballerina to orient herself once on the surface. At the same time, there is a coffee shop I can call mine and I have successfully completed multiple loads of laundry at my local laundromat in my six weeks here.

 

 

In the middle of all this comfort, though… there’s another airport waiting to greet me.

Hint: It is one of the two that feels like home to me. Who remembers? Prizes if you know! And by prizes, I mean a shout-out and an enthusiastic high-five if you’re anywhere near San Francisco or NYC.

 

Oops, there it is.

 

It’s an unconventional decision, but I am going to take my next very large step over to the other side of the country as an intern with the non-profit Kiva.org. If you don’t know what they do, well, that’s why there’s a hyperlink for you to learn! So click and get to it!

 

All kidding aside, I have been intrigued and inspired by what this organization and what many other microfinance groups are doing to encourage entrepreneurism, and more importantly, empowerment. My interest in small business development grew throughout my reporting career as I witnessed and contributed to the growth of the downtown areas of Salisbury, Md. and Troy, N.Y.

We dressed like this every Friday night.

We dressed like this every Friday night. [Main St, Salisbury]

I am pretty sure all – and yes, all - my hard-earned dollars went to wine and cheese at the Confectionery.

I am pretty sure all – and yes, all – my hard-earned dollars went to wine and cheese at the Confectionery. [Troy]

 

 

As someone who often lacks courage, I admire the bold spirit of these visionaries and I only hope that I can help foster that among men and women in countries where aid can’t be found in the form of loans.

That’s where you and I come in.*

 

 

I am leaving for California in January for five months. That’s the charted territory for now. You’ll be learning more of the life that’s unmapped alongside me as we go. Well wishes are welcome. So are food, hugs and prayer.

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*Check Kiva.org again, please, if you don’t understand.