Yay! I finally was able to sit down and put together a collection of images from my time in Kenya and Uganda this past February. In the midst of returning home, looking for a new apartment, catching up with family and friends, and adjusting back to work life, it has become a delayed project. Problem fixed though!

I almost feel overwhelmed thinking of all I have to say about this adventure. It tested me in ways I was expecting, and in many, many ways I did not know I would be throughout my two weeks away. The first few days of the trip were spent in Kenya. We traveled from Niarobi to Mochakos to see, Mary, a partner of Venture Corps. We had the pleasure of seeing Springs of Hope, a place Mary created for abandoned and neglected children in the community. I have to say, my favorite portions of this trip was anytime I was present with children. They flock to you without hesitation and crave so much affection. I adored each and everyone of them. We were able to throw them all a birthday party during out last day there, and watching them sing, dance, and eat cake was a memory I will cherish forever.

After spending time in Kenya, we all boared a 15 hour bus ride to Kampala, Uganda. I am not going to lie, this was the hardest part of the trip. I was nervous for this drive prior to leaving, but it was actually longer and more emotionally challenging than I could have expected.  However, we all survived, and I feel I am stronger for doing so, too! Plus, there were many highlights to this ride! Waking up and seeing the sun rising in Uganda felt like I was living a dream. Hands down the most beautiful view I have ever witnessed. Then there was the funny moments that kept us all sane … like when one of the members on the trip had us dying of laughter when we discovered he was eating peanut butter with the handle of a tooth brush. Those were the moments I treasured most. Inside jokes with friends that you can never recreate or forget the echoing laughter.

After taking a day to settle into Uganda, we took a drive to Ronnie’s farm, another parter of Venture Corps. Man, was that van ride a hilarious adventure! At one point while off roading, which this van was never made to do, we hit a root on the dirt rode …. and guess what broke? The air conditioning. Again, those moments were hilarious to me. I loved that I was doing this crazy adventure with my friends, and we all made the best of the situation together! When we finally arrived to the farm, it felt that much sweeter to see the reward of what we had taken so long to drive to that hot afternoon. We had a short time to film Ronnie on the progress of his farm, and enjoy the beautiful scenery surrounding his hard work.

On a different day, we went to the office of, Serve for Hope Uganda. Their mission is to focus on single mothers and helping them with income generating activities, so they can have opportunities to provide for their children. The passion this team has for their community feels almost tangible. I am so excited to see what is store for them and to see what they have accomplished in such a short period of time.

I am certain that Africa will be a place I will return to frequently in my life. It stole my heart, and I am perfectly happy it if never returns it back:)

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f~t~p

This is not the year of “I think I might do this (fill in the blank). This is the year of “I AM going to do this … (again, fill in blank. Good, you’re catching on).

Before going out of the Country in February, I battled for weeks and weeks prior to confirming that I was going to take the leap. I walked away realizing that just doing something outside of my comfort zone is half the battle won. It also taught me to want to be completely in when I make a decision. None of this “one foot in, one foot out” business. True commitment.

Small steps:

– I told myself I was going to take the time to pull out my off camera lighting during my “off” season. Done.

– Plan a styled bridal photoshoot with other vendors. Done.

– Running outside again … even in this cold. Done.

- Reading more. Done and done and done.

Big step: Instead of saying “I think I want to move to the Chicago”,  I am now saying “I am moving to the Chicago.” I have my first apartment viewings this weekend, and I am looking forward to this new opportunity that I have procrastinated far to long when making the commitment. I am always waiting for timing to be perfect, but that may never be the case. I realize now that I cannot force things to happen that just shouldn’t, but I can at least make an effort and walk through the doors that open.

f~t~p

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Recently, with the depletion of internet from my home I have less distracting me from diving into my “to read” list …  and you know what? I kind of love it.

I was gifted a Kindle Paper White for Christmas (Thanks mom!!), and I have fallen in love with it. It is so light, so I always try to carry it with me outside of the house, and now I find myself reading so much more often. WIN. While away in Africa the last two weeks and spending a lot of time in planes/cars, I found plenty of opportunities to finish some really greats reads this month. So if you’re looking to dive into some inspiring page turners, I highly recommend any of these four books below!

Redeeming Love - This book. Oh  my goodness. Back in January my brother’s mother-in-law recommended this book to me, and she was absolutely right when assuming I would love this read. Taking place in California during the 1850’s, this story is a beautiful example of redemption and forgiveness. Angel, a young girl who was sold into prostitution at a young age grew to believe that there were no good men. They all wanted one thing and love did not exist. When she meets Michael Hosea, a man who God calls to save her from her tragic life, she quickly learns that she was wrong about love. It was incredible to see her stubbornness against men fade away as she learned the true meaning of unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace.

 Invisible Thread – This book was recommended to me when getting to know a new client/friend, an avid book lover as well:)I feel like whenever I finish a book I declare it to be a new favorite, but when I say this is my favorite book I really, really, realllllyyyyy mean it. A true story of a successful business women who one day meets a young boy begging for money on the streets of New York. Although she passed by him at first, she felt a nudge to walk back to him and buy him a meal. From there they built a beautiful friendship that saved him from repeating a life of drugs and abuse that he only ever knew from his family upbringing. A true story that inspires you to take a chance on people.

Packing Light – My sister was kind enough to give to this to me as a gift before venturing to Africa. A perfect read as I was about to adventure on a new journey myself. This is a true story of a 26 year old girl, Alison, who quit her job to travel all the States and pursue writing. She left her apartment, a new relationship, and sold anything that could not fit into her car. She dealt with heart break, fear of the unknown, financial stress …  you name it, but she learned to follow her dreams and live a life with less baggage. I loved her bravery and her flaws that she overcame.

Wreckage –  Despite the fact that this book is about a plane crash, I could not stop reading it during my long flight back to Chicago. I have not read a Fiction book in a long time that has had me craving to keep turning page after page, not wanting to stop so I could find out what happens next. I fell in love with the characters and their battle to live on an island and survive before they were ever found, which was not for two years. Yeah … no big deal. Also, I loved the ending. I feel like I have been so dissatisfied when I come to the conclusion of a book, but when I finished this I felt like it came full circle. Please read this, someone, so we can meet for coffee and talk about it:)

Find me on Goodreads!

f~t~p