3 days – 3 years


As you begin to realize that every different type of music, everybody’s individual music, has its own rhythm, life, language and heritage, you realize how life changes, and you learn how to be more open and adaptive to what is around us.

-Yo-Yo Ma

I am 3 days from the end of my 3 year tour in Lagos, Nigeria.  It has been as amazing as I have expected it to be and as good as any other place I have had the pleasure of living and working.  The people are magic and the country is unfound gold.  Yes, there were ups and downs.. good people with bad….like every where.  Unlike everywhere, there were electrical outages, random housing alarms, floods, bacterial and parasitical infections, needing to leave 10 hours ahead of a flight to ensure you get to the airport in time to fly out, and of course chaotic traffic issues.

However, if you open your eyes, heart and mind to what is around you, you can find the smiles and the warmth that exist beyond the frustration, image or object that is directly in front of you.  When you can do that, you will find that as different as everything is around you, at the core of it all, it is still very much the same of who and what you are.. just people in a random part of the world trying to make a living and a life.   You will find that you have become a part of a life that at times had seemed incomprehensible and that life has now become a part of you.

When I arrived in Nigeria, I was considered a tough manager who was too hard on the people I was managing.  My expectations were too high and I did not cut anyone any slack.  A year into my position, I held an awards dinner for my staff because not only did they meet my bar but they surpassed my expectations for achieving a cohesive and high-functioning team.  Before I could even present my award to my team, they stopped me and actually gave me a speech at how much I positively affected their lives and their work.  The team lead started out by saying, “My oga (big boss), when you arrived it was like a hurricane…” another team member shouted out, “MORE LIKE A TSUNAMI!!!” This brought chuckles but also earned me the affectionate nickname “Tsunami Sam”

On Friday they gave me a shirt and told me that on Monday, my very last day of work here, we would all wear this shirt.  I am proud of my team and proud of myself for breaking down walls, changing hearts (mine as well).. and leaving Nigeria on a super positive note.  I will miss Nigeria with a passion.  I basically say this at the end of every tour.. and I basically mean what I say.  Nigeria I will miss you!!

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One of the girls even drew a pencil sketch of me.. amazing…

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I will end with some photos of my last few walks.  I will miss … not miss … some of the hazards of walking on the sidewalks.. not really sidewalks of Lagos.  I hope you have enjoyed my visions of Nigeria as much as I have enjoyed sharing some of my experiences here.

And off I go!!

Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.   – Steven Wright

I don’t know what my path is yet. I’m just walking on it.   – Olivia Newton-John

Who go better do better


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This random hand painted sign on the bumper of a Nigerian truck made me smile.

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Based on the craziness going on in the world, the 24 hour cycle of bad news that the media pushes out, and just the meanness of the people who have always really been mean, I think that sometimes we forget that expression.

In my world, I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunities that I have had and have had the ability to surround myself with amazing people who choose to go better and do better daily.  I have always tried to model myself after them.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a decent person, but not as decent as the people I have chosen to cling on to as my role models.

The last few years have presented some gigantic personal challenges and emotional set backs.  So many that I sort of lost the inner me that has always been able to pick myself up, dust myself off, and truck the hell on.  The last few months in particular gutted me with sadness, frustration, and anger.

The logical side of my brain is always aware that I have been and continue to be blessed.  But the logical side had recessed so far that the emotional heart and brain took over and started incessantly repeating some of the darkest and most insecure thoughts and emotions that had plagued me as a child and teenager and well into part of my adulthood.

The fact that I knew these thoughts and frustrations were all in my head, did not help me overcome the spiral downward I was feeling and the eventual wall I knew I would hit.  That I had hit before.  I knew where that would eventually lead and that made me even more sad.

Logically, none of the bad feelings were real.  Emotionally they were all too real and really all too terrifying.  Like a clamp on my heart.  Because of what was going on in my head and the lack of control I was feeling with my mind and emotions, I started shutting down.  I started feeling that old, old, old angst that I had promised myself years ago I would never allow to enter my heart again.  I started feeling bad about myself and questioning everything and everyone around me.  I started illogically hating myself and who I was and where I knew I was going.

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About 6 weeks ago I woke up and my logical mind for the first time in awhile felt back in control.  It was clear to me that while I felt rational once again I needed to take immediate action to maintain that visible light at the end of a very dark tunnel.  I knew I had to begin the arduous task of reprogramming my mind to focus on all of the amazing things that have happened in my life and all of of the amazing things that were still going on in the world.

I began to limit the amount of far right and far left wind media I would allow myself to watch.  I found some positive social media sites that dedicated themselves to only presenting good news and happy stories.  Facebook pages like “Good news and Happy Stories Only” and Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor“.  I youtube’d funny baby, animal and comedian videos as well as any video that profiled the struggles that other people had overcome and how they overcame odds much greater than I had ever faced.  I spent the first few weeks just sitting on my couch bawling my eyes out during each of these very emotional and wonderful stories.

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Another step I took towards recovering myself was to begin working through my social media and deleting the people and the articles that related to the many things that were bringing me down, had been part of the spiral downward of my confidence and happiness.  I had a tech friend go through my Facebook and delete anything that was causing some weird friend requests and terrible and false news stories to land on my newsfeed.  This did cause some people in my life to disappear that I had not intended.  However, I don’t miss the amount of time I wasted on social media looking at how everyone else’s life appeared so amazing while mine was.. bleh.. and slightly depressing.

I have been focusing on cool facts and documentaries related to historical figures.  Paying attention to why those people were so amazing.  Finding inspirational quotes and just attempting to be a better person who might one day inspire others.

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Everyone has a unique tongue print, just like fingerprints.  Banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories.  It is impossible to lick your elbow (busted).  If you lift a kangaroo’s tail off the ground it can’t hop.  Casu marzu is a Sardinian cheese that contains live maggots. The maggots can jump up to five inches out of cheese while you’re eating it, so it’s a good idea to shield it with your hand to stop them jumping into your eyes.  The average person spends 6 months of their lifetime waiting on a red light to turn green. A single cloud can weight more than 1 million pounds.  During your lifetime, you will produce enough saliva to fill two swimming pools.  Coca Cola would be green if coloring wasn’t added to it.  You cannot snore and dream at the same time.  In a study of 200,000 ostriches over a period of 80 years, no one reported a single case where an ostrich buried its head in the sand. More than 50% of the people in the world have never made or received a telephone call.  Most lipstick contains fish scales.  The first American film to show a toilet being flushed on screen was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.  An epidemic of laughing that lasted almost a year broke out in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1962. Several thousand people were affected, across several villages. It forced a school to close. It wasn’t fun, though — other symptoms included crying, fainting, rashes, and pain.  Honey never spoils.  Earth is the only planet not named after a god.  A “jiffy” is the scientific name for 1/100th of a second.

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I started getting back into my art.

I began to put more effort into my Spanish studies by reading some well-known fairytales.  Nice break from stressful adult Spanish learning.  Also, reading these stories guaranteed successful comprehension.

I started walking places more and eating healthier again.  I cut back on coffee and started drinking herbal teas and even did a few cleanses.  Using the model of positive energy balance.  While I had been living in Korea, I had taken some Reiki classes that dealt with energy healing.  I made myself go back to treating myself and focusing on my chakra practice that I had stopped doing.

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I contacted  The Distant Healing Network  and put in a request for positive energy and love to be sent my way.

Finally, the hardest thing for me to do was to reach out to a counselor to express my concerns about myself.  I requested any type of help that could be provided short of going on medication.  I allowed myself to accept that I was going through a depressive period that very well could be related to hormonal changes due to my age.  (Menopause is real and so is depression).

I slowly began to feel consistently better and better able to focus on the good things in my life and the people that build me up rather than make me feel bad about myself. To realize that I deserve more than how some people have treated me in my life and how even I do not always treat myself right.

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I started writing in my “Starting Today” Journal which is a journal of intention and change.  Every day I write one sentence or a page on things I will start doing today.  One of the things that I have started doing is seeking out stories, movies, and people that will motivate me to be a person who go better to do better.  Every day I do this, I really believe I will be better.  Thanks for reading.

Things to read to go better to do better.

Happier.com – Humans of New York, Amy Poehler Smart Girls, Deepak Chopra, Sweet Green, etc.

Prsuit (@Prsuti)

Prsuit is an Instagram account that posts inspirational quotes as well as links to their articles each day. This Instagram account is dedicated to giving knowledge and inspiration to their followers—not to trying to sell them on a product. If you want an account that is all about giving you the tools you need for success, follow this account.

Achieve the Impossible (@achievetheimpossible)

Achieve the Impossible Instagram account focuses purely on motivational quotes to keep you striving for the goal of your business or life. This Instagram feed is filled with feel-good phrases that will fill you with positive energy.

Zig Ziglar (@thezigziglar)

Zig Ziglar’s Instagram account is made to fuel your motivation with quotes that will be sure to brighten up and boost your day. This account is all about feeling positive with exactly what you are doing in life, right now.

Circles Of Inspiration by Anna Pereira Founder of Thewellnessuniverse.com; Lean in circles; 10 People you’ve never heard of who changed the world

x0xo

We can do better

[Intro]
We can do better
Oh yeah, we can do better

[Verse 1]
I know it hurt bad, your mom left your dad
When you were a little girl
You think I’m gonna leave ’cause history repeats
We’ve seen it around the world
Oh, all that we’re told is this will get old
We’ll cheat and we’ll both get hurt
Against all the odds we’ll pray to the gods
That this love works

[Pre-Chorus]
When all we see is bad blood and mistakes
All we hear are sad songs ’bout heartbreaks
And no matter how long it takes
We’re not gonna give up

[Chorus]
We can do better (ha)
Oh, we can do better
And nothing lasts forever (ha)
We can do better

[Verse 2]
Things can get rough, we might drink too much
And say things we shouldn’t say
Forgive and forget ‘fore we go to bed
And we’re gonna be okay
Some people pretend it’s not gonna end
And end up then walk away
But that isn’t me, I’m not gonna leave
I’m here to stay

[Pre-Chorus]
When all we see is bad blood and mistakes
All we hear are sad songs ’bout heartbreaks
And no matter how long it takes
We’re not gonna give up

[Chorus]
We can do better (ha)
Oh, we can do better
And nothing lasts forever (ha)
We can do better

[Bridge]
I’m not worried ’cause the thing is
We can do better
I know you and I are different
We can do better
I don’t wanna overthink it
We can do better
I know you and I are different
We can do better

[Pre-Chorus]
When all we see is bad blood and mistakes
All we hear are sad songs ’bout heartbreaks
And no matter how long it takes
We’re not gonna give up

[Chorus]
We can do better (ha)
We can do better
And nothing lasts forever (ha)
We can do better

[Outro]
We can do better

 

Reset


Aging can be fun if you lay back and enjoy it.  –Clint Eastwood

To be clear, I do not think I am old.  I also do not think I am “getting” old.  Age happens and everyone does it.  This is why I struggle with some of the things people say to me when they hear I have grandkids or when they hear how old I am.  Things like, “WOW!! You have grandkids, you do not look like you could.”  “Hey, you are 50!!! No way!!” “You do not seem to act your age.” “Incredible, I would not have thought you were older than (give any age younger than what I am)”  They say it like it’s a shame that I am so old. Or like I must be depressed about my end years.  I mean.. seriously, these days my age (51 now) is barely middle age.

Yeah.. yeah… yeah… my joints sometimes hurt, I am sometimes shocked when I think about my oldest child being 27 and my youngest being 25, and sometimes I forget that I am not the exact same age as everyone I am standing around.  However, I am not really old. Or at least I do not feel it.  I’m sure I felt the same way about the older generation when I was part of the newer generation.

My dad put it best about 20 years ago when we were sitting in a local dive.  He said to me, “Sami, you see that guy that just walked in here?  How old do you think he is?”  I looked over and nodded and said, “Well, he’s at least 21.”  Dad said, “Yeah, yeah, but how old do you think he is?”  I looked at him and the scraggly group he was with and said, “Well, he looks to be about 24-26 years old.”  Dad said, “Exactly… and that’s how old I think I am in my head!!! Then I walk by a mirror and I am absolutely shocked.  I can only think to myself, who is that old bastard staring back at me!!”

Well, I am now the age my father was then.  Even though I got it at the time, I really get it now.  I don’t give age a whole lot of thought usually.  But every once in awhile it sort of just hits me.  Lines around my face, grey hair coming in, the above mentioned joints giving out on me when I least expect it, and the amount of time I spend thinking BAAACCCCKKKKK on the follies of my youth.

About a year and a half ago, my younger sister was talking to me and indicated she was going to let her hair go natural and that I might want to join her.  I had been dying my hair since I was about 18.. just for the heck of it.  I no longer had any idea of what the actual color of my hair was but knew that over the past few years, I was starting to see some grey roots. I thought to myself, why not.  I was actually tired of dying my hair.  Further, living overseas it is often hard to find a quality product to use and it can get very expensive to go into a salon and pay someone every few weeks to dye your hair.

I’ve never been a patient person so I did the most natural thing for someone like myself and just bleached my hair white.  I really, really, really thought that it would grow out completely grey.  That is exactly what did not happen.  So for an entire year I looked..uh.. fresh.. recognizable.. kind of cool… and it WAS pretty cool for about 2 months.

Apparently I was not as old/grey as I thought I was and that unless I did something drastic, I would be bleaching my hair every 2-3 weeks for the rest of my life.  My hair was really being destroyed and the chemicals were actually doing more damage than any normal dye.  UGH.. what to do?  Well, not wanting to deal with the grow out and realizing that my hair was completely destroyed at this point anyways, I did the most natural thing for someone like myself… I had a friend shave me bald to reset this entire mad process and for the first time in over 30 years, I saw the true and natural color of my hair.

I’m not going to lie.  For the first 20 minutes it was shocking to see myself in the mirror.  After that, it was liberating.  I LOVED it.  Not always how I looked but how I felt.  I had several women say to me, “Wow.  You look amazing!!”  “At least you have a nicely shaped head.” “I could never do that, I sort of hide behind my hair.” “You will have to start wearing some bold makeup now.. or at least makeup, otherwise you will look like a boy.” Yeah, sometimes women can be harder on women then men.. but I understood the sentiment.

Well, it grew on me.  The look and yes, even my hair. It was a complete reset with my mentality, my awareness of self, and how much I had used my hair as an impetus for how I felt about myself.  Though I didn’t feel old, I guess I was sort of trying to hold back the years from the top down to the bottom.  The reset really worked.  I had not planned on a reset.  Didn’t even know I was doing it when I was doing it.  But I did it and I felt it.

Now, nearly a year later, my hair has actually grown back.  I was slightly concerned at times.  As liberating as it was, it was also a bit intimidating.  At this time, I mostly do not feel any different than I did before the bleach and the cut.  I sometimes miss having no hair.  I have not dyed my hair again and LOVE the look and feel and, to be quite honest, the cost and time saving experience of just being au natural.

I still do not feel like I am that old, despite my half century on the planet, but I accept that I am closer to a century than to zero.  I also feel the words my dad said to me nearly 20 years ago in a more profound kind of way.  Who is that ol’ lady staring back at me … and how in the hell did she become so… amazing… !!!

OK.. OK… sometimes I do end that thought with the word “old”.

I hope you enjoyed the read and the memories…

“It`s not how old you are, it`s how you are old.”  ― Jules Renard

“Your face is marked with lines of life, put there by love and laughter, suffering and tears. It’s beautiful.”   ― Lynsay Sands

Peace out – age gracefully – live long and prosper! – lil ‘ol me and Spock

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Other places to view aging gracefully

The first silver strands, As birthdays go, Beauty of aging, accepting, seniors in the garden, never too old, change, transiliencechange the conversation, Let your wrinkles be your roadmap, fifty and vanity, self loathing to self love, Connected, graceful aging, change, blessings, come dance with me, reinventing ourselves

 

Sky, Land, and Water


I have a limited ability to express my love of sky, land, and water.  Empty of most man made items.  Or in other cases being very limited in what we place in it or on it. It’s like closing your eyes and taking a deep breath of fresh air.

We live in a world of complicated chaos and seem to barely notice or appreciate the loudness, or quietness of nature.  Calms the mind if you can slow down enough to catch it!

Sam