Friday, August 31, 2012

106: My Haiti Experience - Part 1

A home overlooking the Artibonite River. 
It has been almost a month since I got back from my 9-day trip to Haiti. I've been quite busy with work but also a bit distracted, as usual...  I know, it kind of goes back to my "Chasing Butterflies" blog... But I'm here now...

Haiti was my first missionary trip and I'm a convert. I cannot describe the feeling of purpose I got when I was there. Despite the unknown - where and under what conditions we were going to sleep, eat, bathe, etc - my family and I knew that we were here to help in whatever capacity and for however many hours. When life was stripped down to the basics, it all became so outward focused. It's almost indescribable but it was a great to let go of everything and only worry about how to help. OK, OK - we aren't saints either - so it was very, very, very hot so we were also trying to remain hydrated and were carrying around "sweat" rags - we were going through some major detoxing :-) but it all adds to the laughter now that I reflect back... I shared this experience with my mother and one of my brothers, which made it even more special. We are each so different but we all went with open hearts and were ready for anything. Together we experienced the shock of Port Au Prince (from the lack of sanitation to the tent cities to the still collapsed presidential palace), the awe at such beautiful landscape throughout the country and most importantly the pure warmth of the Haitian people. (The team we went with welcomed us with the widest smiles and the warmest hearts.) Most people (outside of PAP) were also welcoming and very hospitable, others were just wary of the "blancs". We were the only non-Haitians on the team and quickly realized we were being called out to as "blancs". People were either very curious of us or were cautious then warmed up or simply wary and stayed their distance.

Our trip to Haiti was amazing on so many levels and the organization I went with was just tireless and inspiring (New Hope Ministries International). Our team ranged in age from the 20s into the 80s - with each person just there to give. It was awesome being part of such an effort.

Below is map my brother created to show all the places we went to - impressive right? ok, maybe just to us because this was out first trip there :-) but memorable without doubt. Our Haitian team members guaranteed us that we had seen more of Haiti than many Haitians :-)

We landed in Port Au Prince (PAP), then headed North then back to PAP before heading South.
It was an amazing journey, throughout such a beautiful country. 
Haitian Mountains

Although I have nearly two thousand pictures, I'd like to start by sharing some of my "Faces of Haiti" pictures. My goal was to capture Haiti and it's people in a respectful way, here are a few shots to start off with. I hope to post more over the next few months. Enjoy...

Port Au Prince: This is one of my favorite pictures. Such beautiful 
faces but the look in their eyes still haunts me. I can't
describe it but it touches me every time I see it. 
Port Au Prince: another beautiful face with haunting eyes. 
Maude, the President of New Hope Ministries International,
with the adorable son of one of the Hinche clinic volunteers. 

Hinche: a wonderful little girl and a fellow missionary (an R.N.)
Pignon: A grateful mother and her adorable infant.
Pignon: Little Sisters - the girls were allowed to select a toy and
they were so good. The eldest let her younger sisters select first...

One of our local, medical volunteers with a little boy.
A curious and sweet little girl from Pignon
Missionaries with a grandmother and her two
grandsons, sadly their parents passed away.
A mother and infant waiting their turn.
Three friends on their way to play soccer. 
Happy little girls in Fond de Negres
A charming little boy from Fond de Negres

A fellow beach lover from Cayes - this is another one of my all time favorites. 
My trip to Haiti was such a gift. It reminded me that love makes such a difference in each of our lives. Whether a person comes from the wealthiest circumstances or the poorest, love is what creates great citizens of this world. In Haiti, as in other countries, I saw people (from the infants to the elderly) with so little but had each other and therefore were able to project love and kindness to others. And this love allowed for laughter and mischief and warmth despite hardship (hardship being a relative word, no matter your economic state, hardship exists everywhere). I thank God, my family and Maude for making this trip possible. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

105: On my way to Haiti!

Headed to the airport now and we are so excited! People tell me I won't be the same after going to Haiti and I look forward to it. Going with my mom and one of my brothers makes this trip so much more special.

I hope to have connectivity there in order to share this experience!

Blog later!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

104: Easy Recipes - Shortbread

I just love easy recipes!! I was picking up some Nespresso coffee pods for my brother when I came across an absolutely beautiful "English Shortbread Pan". It would never have crossed my mind to just go out and get a pretty baking pan... and this one had the shortbread recipe on the back! So I got it and not only were the cookies delicious but it was so easy!!

How pretty is this baking pan!! I got it at Sur la table...
Although there are 9 designs these were some of the clearer ones.
I think I need to press the dough in tighter next time but the taste was there!
So, here is the recipe:  

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease pan.

Cream butter until light.
Beat in powdered sugar, then vanilla.
Finally, work in the flour.
Knead dough on an unfloured board until smooth.
Firmly press dough into pan.
Prick all of the surface with a fork, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.
Loosen the edges with a plastic knife, and invert onto a cutting board.
Cut into serving pieces while warm.


Monday, June 25, 2012

103: Not Enough Time?

"Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number 
of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, 
Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein" 
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr -
Picture I took last week of the sunrise...
Sunrises just make me feel anything is possible!!

I love this quote! How true it is... and the list goes on and on with great thinkers, achievers, givers, and just ordinary people that do the extraordinary. 
Life's funny - I seem to have woken up once I left the corporate world (3 years ago) and am busier then ever. I feel like there is so much to do - like I'm the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, late because I got a late start on the things that matter... My 'to do' list is now full of things that make me feel like I'm LIVING not just existing. Some of the items on my list include: 

- Grow my company while maintaining life's balance.
- Help non-profits achieve their visions and therefore make a difference in the world. Get involved, be active and contribute.
- Help my mom and grandmother in whatever way I can. 
- Explore the world, there is so much to see and so much to learn...
- Continue with creative outlets, even if just for fun: photography, writing, drawing, etc
- Stay fit. Today I am trying kickboxing :-), I'm already running again and I start yoga (vinyasa and ashtanga are my favorites) on August 1st. 

So much to do and only one lifetime... 

Back to the quote... these kinds of quotes fire me up and make me realize it IS possible to do it all. Life, what a phenomenal ride!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

102: The Privilege of Giving

Firstly, my apologies for such a long absence... My life has been quite busy morphing and growing - as well as I had a birthday on June 5th - my birthdays often come with a lot of self-reflection...

Somewhere around the time I last blogged I saw a documentary about Haiti and the fact that there are still so many people living in extreme poverty. I don't typically watch documentaries but this one caught my attention and touched my heart. I called my mom during the show and we watched it together and we cried together and we promised we would see how we could help.

I started reading news and books on Haiti, I really knew so little. One book ("Haiti - Tumultuous History - From Pearl of the Caribbean to Broken Nation" by Philippe Girard) was hard to put down and I don't like reading about history! Then I brainstormed with some friends on how I could help. Some people were immediately wary about anything actually being achievable in Haiti - with its financial black holes, unaccountable NGOs, corruption and the lack of a social welfare programs. I know it's a tough situation but my gut and my heart also know that there are people of all ages (including the forgotten elderly) that deserve my attention. I also got several "I'm proud of you" compliments from family and friends that know this is a tough one and that as unknown as the path may be at least I will give it a try.

The first step I took was getting in contact with a Haitian pastor that worked with my mom a few years ago. He is on the board of a small non-profit that helps Haitians in three ways: a medical clinic, sponsoring school students and have done some micro donations to help families become self-sufficient.

I met with the President and was impressed by this strong woman. Maud was born in Haiti, moved to Canada when she was 20, became a registered nurse and a successful woman. When she was about 40 years old she went on her first aid trip to Haiti (with a group of nurses). She has not stopped helping since and now lives in South Florida. Pictures one of Maud's 2011 trips:

Because of Maud's career, she has been fortunate in securing medical supply donations.
Pride, hardship and determination visible in this woman's beautiful face and attire.
Kids receiving school supply donations.
My mom and I are going to Haiti for one week at the end of July. We will help Maud and her other volunteers in distributing donations (during three events which are estimated to help 1,500 - 2,000 people). Once I get back I hope to assist Maud in executing her vision using my financial planning background. In a small way things just came together - I'm grateful for the opportunity to help.

I feel like an ember has lit up inside of me. I am excited to make a difference in the world - no matter how small. I have also started helping another organization that focuses it's efforts in South Africa - I'll tell you more about that one another day. I truly feel it is a privilege to be able to help people. Life is a funny thing and who knows, one day I may be the one needing a helping hand...

As some of you know, I spent many years solely focused on my career (which I do not regret and absolutely loved) but one day I just realized there had to be more to life. Three years later, owning my own company, I have the flexibility to follow my gut, to give to a greater good and I am thankful and blessed to be able to do so. And I am also so blessed to have a mom that not only encourages me to follow my heart but is willing to jump in too!

Monday, March 26, 2012

0100: Do You Want More?

Happiness is only when you want nothing

‘While trudging on the path he chose in life
He worked a lot for the money he earned
But one day God graced his doors
And the lesson of happiness he learned.’

‘I am impressed by your work my child,
Every pleasure of life you own
Although you have alot
The smile you had is now gone!’

‘But I am happy, who says I am not
I enjoy it, I enjoy a lot.’

‘Now dear, this is the happiness test –
Are you happy with all you have?
The immediate answer was big YES.
God asked again – do you want more?
The answer now was a BIGGER yes.’

‘Things that make you happy are only your desires
The more it grows, the more it pains
Happiness is only when you want nothing
And let the pain go in the drain.’

Monday, March 19, 2012

0099: Appreciate Your Journey

How'd you like a little peek into the future? 

You are on holiday or maybe at home... You're sitting around a warm and cozy fireplace surrounded by friends/family and boisterous laughter. The moment is simply and wonderfully "easy"... Early-morning snow gently falling across the countryside is visible from the enormous, ceiling-high windows beside you. Everyone is sipping a fabulous red or a yummy hot chocolate, and reminiscing about the fabulous circumstances that have brought you all together, brimming with excitement for times ahead. And then you think, "If only I'd seen it, I never would have been so hard on myself and those around me. If only I'd had just the slightest idea that the challenges, lacks, and issues I faced back then were of my own exacting design, and that they'd soon make possible the whirlwind of fabulous events that so swiftly followed, I'd have been, well, as proud then as I am now... and every bit as grateful for every step (good and bad) it took to get here!"  

Source: I get daily positive emails from sometimes I read them but sometimes I am too "busy"... I'm happy I took the time to read this one (although I slightly modified it to fit my future vision, it was a great reminder to me to appreciate where I am today versus being distracted with where I want to be tomorrow. Thanks Tut!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

0098: Happy 100th Birthday to Oreos

Remember the joy of dunking your Oreos or of twisting the two sides and licking or scraping the inside then chewing up the cookies in your mouth and smiling so you could show off your chocolate laced teeth??!?!? Or of seeing who could stack these yummy cookies the highest? Yep, I do and what better reason to do them again!!! No matter what age we are, Oreo turns 100 years old today!!  :-)

So, in celebration - Five Fun Facts: 

1. A 1920s ad for the cookie. A Nabisco worker shows off a ’70s-era Oreo press mold.
The National Biscuit Company factory (now Chelsea Market) before 1932, when the
High Line rail was incorporated. Source: NY Post

2. Oreos can be bought in more than 100 countries and rake in $1.5 billion
in global annual revenues. More than 95 million cookies are sold each day.

3. Did you know that the cookie, which takes 59 minutes to make, consists of 12 flowers,
12 dots and 12 dashes on each side. Each cookie has 90 ridges?

4. Oreos are made from 29 percent creme and 71 percent cookie. They are
made in 21 bakeries around the world. Kraft Foods estimates that more than
500 billion Oreos have been sold since 1912.

5. Oreo will be a cornerstone brand of a new firm to be formed later this year when Kraft Foods divides into two companies. One, a worldwide snacks firm with annual revenue estimated at $35 billion, will be home to brands like Oreo and Cadbury; the other, a North American grocery products company, will have annual revenue estimated at $18 billion from brands like Maxwell House and Oscar Mayer.

So for now, take part in the celebration with the limited-edition variety called Birthday Cake Oreos - twist, dunk, stack, enjoy!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

0097: Good Intentions, a Poem


I watched my good intentions fall to the floor,
Then, I saw my good intentions roll out the door.
They kept on rolling till they rolled into the sea.
Oh! I never should have let them get away from me!

I think it's possible to get them back once more.
This time, I won't let them fall on the floor.
The sea rolled back my good intentions quite happily.
With a wave of joyfulness, the sea called out to me.

Watch your good intentions transform into good deeds.
Because this is exactly what the whole world needs.
Not just thinking of the good that can be done!
But in acting on your intentions, brings good to everyone!

It's healthy for the body, & even healthier to the soul.
For you might also pick someone up who has fallen in a hole!
Good intentions become good actions bringing happiness.
Don't drop your good intentions, act on them, go, & God bless.

Written by Patricia Kubicki on March 7, 2011

0096: Easy Recipes: Healthy Banana Bran Muffins

Today I made mini loaves instead of muffins - just as delicious!!!
I've come across another easy recipe! I've made it at least 6 times now and I love it. Side note - Since I was a baby my mom fed me mashed bananas and honey so how could I pass on bread made with two of my favorite foods... (Yes, I've had this on occasion, as an "adult" :-)

So, the recipe... It is a moist and healthy banana bran muffin and if you just glance at the ingredients you will know it's low in fat too. No eggs, no large amounts of butter, no processed sugar, no oil, just amazing!!! I love knowing I am getting my potassium and fiber in something so yummy... perfect to start my day or after a run.


1 cup bran cereal flakes (I had raisin bran and just picked out the raisins)
1/4 cup milk (I've used 2% and skim and both work well)
1 cup all-purpose flour (I use Eagle Mills, all-purpose unbleached flour with double fiber)
2/3 cup of mashed - really ripe - bananas, I usually use 2 
1/2 cup honey (sweet without the processed sugar :-)
2 tbsp butter or margarine (no guilt even with the butter as all the other ingredients are so healthy)
2 tbsp plain or vanilla yogurt (I use Fage 0% plain)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup pecans or your favorite nuts (I know this adds fat but it's the "good" fat " ;-)

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
2. Mix the cereal and the milk and set aside
3. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients then add the cereal/milk mixture
4. Mix well and spoon into greased muffin tin (about 2/3 full). I sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar and cinnamon on top just for fun. 
5. Bake 20 min or until the top is springy

These are DELICIOUS and moist every time! I tried a couple of other recipes but I couldn't beat the moistness and healthiness of this recipe, which is now a favorite of mine. Unfortunately I got this recipe online and I cannot remember where or find it again - I certainly didn't come up with it on my own but if I find it again I will post the credit to the genius that did come up with it. 

If you would like some other easy recipes, check out my other Easy Recipe posts:
0086: Morton's Chopped Salad,
0073: Blueberry-Linomcello Tini,
0063: THE Best Pecan Pie,
0004: Salvadoran Quesadilla (more like a coffee cake)

And although not necessarily a recipe, don't forget the fun ideas using blue-cheese which is also yummy and good for you... ahhh, food - such a wonderful thing!!! Well, happy eating and drinking!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

0095: Centenarians

My grandma, "Abuelita" - last year, at 100 years old.
My beautiful grandmother is 101 years old. She still reads the newspaper (in it's entirety), some gossip rags (primarily looking for any stories about royals) and novels, both non-fiction and fiction. She is currently reading a novel about ancient conspiracies... She also walks around with her walker to get her exercise and still takes her beauty routine quite seriously - I think she has been using Elizabeth Arden most of her life, maybe she needs to be a spokeswoman for them!!  :-)

I've had several conversations with her about her longevity and her most important bit of advice is to have a strong mental outlook. This will allow you to remain focused on your internal and external self. She also thinks we should enjoy life, everything in moderation! I don't really know if she has ever been on a "diet" in her life but she certainly was always particular with what she ate.

Today I came across an online article titled, "11 Habits That Will Help You Live to 100". It talks about how researchers have discovered that centenarians (people that live to be 100+) tend to share certain traits in how they eat, move about, and deal with stress - the sorts of things we can emulate to improve our own aging process. I found the list interesting so thought I'd share (click on the link above to read the entire article):

1. Don't Retire, stay active whether volunteering or farming or anything else in between 

2. Floss Every Day to minimize bacteria, which can lead to heart disease

3. Exercise to improve mood, mental acuity, balance, muscle mass, and bones

4. Eat fiber-rich cereal for breakfast to help stabilize blood sugar levels

5. Sleep at least 6 hours every night to help regulate and heal cells

6. Eat whole foods, not supplements

7. Be Less Neurotic, roll with the punches - this is also at the top of my grandmother's list...

8.  Be a Creature of Habit, with diet, sleep and exercise

9. Stay Connected, be socially active avoiding depression and having someone watch your back

10. Be Conscientious, be prudent, persistent, well organized

11. Cherish Your Body, no smoking, alcohol abuse or overindulging in sweets. Again, good diet, exercise, with a focus on family and community.

Personally, I am living my life as if I will live to be 110. Some people don't ever want to think of living to 100 or beyond, I'm excited to be planning it this far out!! At the end of the day, I would consider it a privilege to live that long and in case I do, I want to be able to be as independent as my grandmother is today...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

0094: A Free Dream Home Package - $2 million

Front Yard
Great Room
Back Porch - outdoor living room to your right, entertainment deck straight ahead, outdoor jacuzzi to the left...
Did you know that HGTV gives away a "Dream Home" every year? This year's package is worth $2m because of the house (near Park City, Utah), the SUV and $500k in cash!! Ahh, to dream... I've signed up and had enough material for a month's worth of day dreaming :-) You never know...

Anyway, sign up at HGTV and good luck - let me know if you win ;-)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

0093: Lyrics - The Climb

"Three Sisters" - Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
Photo by me :-)

I can almost see it. 
That dream I'm dreaming, but
There's a voice inside my head saying
You'll never reach it

Every step I'm takin'
Every move I make
Feels lost with no direction, 
My faith is shakin'
But I gotta keep tryin'
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down, but
No I'm not breaking
I may not know it, but
These are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most
I've just gotta keep goin', and
I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on, cause

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

Keep on movin'
Keep on climbin'
Keep the faith baby
It's all about, it's all about
The Climb
Keep the faith, Keep your faith, woah

As you may know, these are the lyrics to The Climb, sung by Miley Cyrus and written by Jessi Alexander and John Mabe. I've heard this song several times over the years but I just listened to the lyrics for the first time. I was sitting in traffic and actually paid attention to the words and loved them. 

I can relate to these lyrics because I had a tough climb a few years ago ("tough" being relative...). I left the corporate world and started my own company. It was extremely hard to make the decision and hard to ignore the nay-sayers but something inside me just drove me to "jump off the cliff" anyway. Now that I near my company's 2nd year anniversary (February 2) I am so happy with the decision and the outcome. I would do it again a million times over. Of course I now know it is all okay and all working out but I didn't know that then and I was scared of making the change but even more terrified of not making a change... 

So, as the song goes... despite your head saying you won't make it, despite feeling lost, despite getting knocked down, keep the faith, keep YOUR faith! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

0092: Be Who You Want To Be

Photo: by Me
Poem: by Donna Levine
Potential: Unlimited

You Can Be Whatever You Want To Be!

There is inside you all the potential to be whatever you want to be,
all of the energy to do whatever you want to do. 

Imagine yourself as you would like to be, 
doing what you want to do, 
and each day, take one step towards your dream. 

And though at times it may see too difficult to continue,
hold on to your dream. 

One morning you will awake to find that you are the person you dreamed of,
doing what you wanted to do, 
simply because you had the courage to believe in your potential
and hold on to your dream.