Wednesday, April 4, 2012

International Adventures!

I entered into my Himalaya trek as a naïve person; chasing dreams of greatness, new challenges and heights. I came into this adventure thinking "how hard can this be, I have climbed mountains before. The Colorado 14ers are challenging and this is not that much higher up, I got this in the bag".

I wanted to push myself to my limits. I have climbed mountains before, yes the Colorado 14ers, in the summer time. The only winter experience I came to this trek with was one winter attempt at Yale and some snowshoeing. Since I only had a limited length of time, I was going to get
exactly what I wanted, something new and something challenging.

The first day we spent just hanging out, talking, and relaxing trying to get used to the altitude. The following day we went on out first hike – only one word, incredible. Leh sits at about 12,000ft above sea level so our first hike took us to around 13,000ft. I could not believe I was actually there; I was one of the lucky people I got to live my dreams.

We followed this hike with a series of other acclimating hikes and spent time in various villages along the way. The hospitality and the amazing people I was fortunate enough to have met I will never forget.

One of my favorite villages was the one we stayed at the day before we left for what I call "the big hike". The kids in this village were amazing; they gave me a tour of the village, showing me all the baby animals in the village.

The day of the big hike, we trekked in and stayed overnight in a tent at roughly 16,500ft. The next morning we began the climb at 2am, we finished the hike at 20,000ft around 9am! Climbing in the dark is a challenge but climbing in the dark at altitude in the winter adds an even bigger challenge to the equation.

The mountains are so majestic; the beauty and power they hold is unbelievable. They sit tall and proud, lining the sky at various heights, some blanketed with snow and others showing their bare bones.

The Himalaya adventure was just the first of the two adventures I want to talk about in this post. The next adventure was the Jerusalem marathon I completed:

As I walked to the start of this race, it began to rain slightly. I was nervous as I walked through the cold, I could feel my heart pounding as my stomach began to flutter. By the time I got to the start, it was raining heavily and my excitement began to build. It continued raining off and on for the duration of the race. I would lean down to shield my eyes from the rain as I continued through the course going up and down the hills of the holy land, I was running through history.

About halfway through I felt my energy drop as I ran by Mount Scopus, I turned up my music, grabbed an energy gel and thought I am really doing this, I am running my first full marathon, I was pumped!

I continued running, I past people standing in the rain, cheering as I ran by. Once I got down to having only 5k left I got a burst of excitement, I could not believe I had done it, I really was about to finish an entire 42k. I finish my run cheering and thinking about my friends and family.

Once I reached the last few feet before the finish, I saw my friends waiting along the final stretch cheering for me. Next thing I know they break through the gate and run with me through the finish as I slid into home. I could not have asked for a better first marathon. It began with excitement, continued with joy, and ended with love!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Will there ever be enough rice?

I was out the other night handing out food on the streets and as I am passing food out to the first people that come to along this one strip, I realize I did not have enough for everyone. This was one of the saddest moments I have come across here, in India. I never thought as I set out to do this project that I would encounter such a situation. I should have known I suppose, by the many nights in the auto driving past entire communities living on the streets, lined up neatly in a row along the sidewalk in any given area of town. It was this night that I questioned if there would ever be enough rice to go around. I am only one person, can I even make a difference? I do not have the capacity to possibly feed everyone that is in need. I want to challenge everyone to do a little in their own communities, grab some rice and help feed the hungry in your town, on your streets. I may not be able to take on the world myself, but I help a few people get a meal for one night. I want to challenge everyone to do the same and maybe if we all do just a little, there will be enough rice for everyone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

LIFE: a short overview

I have been in India for about two months now and I have seen everything from the most glorious homes to the family sleeping with a blanket on the sidewalk and everything in-between. So, let's take a quick recap of the last few months, since I began LIFE. I began this journey in Israel where we spent time on a kibbutz, learning about composting and organic farming as well as creating buildings out of mud bricks. The mud bricks were my favorite with the seed balls as a close second.

After the week long journey on the kibbutz, we stayed in Jerusalem for another week doing leadership training and preparing for our time in India. Arriving in India was an experience like I have never had. It was the first time, even through my travels in Europe, especially Greece, that I really saw poverty like I did when I got to India. I have never seen an entire family sleeping on the streets. I will never forget the image of the mother with her children, including a baby which could not have been more than a few months old lying in a row on top of a blanket in Mumbai.

We spent a week in Mumbai in leadership development and visiting a few sites including Elephanta Island and the old Jewish quarter in Mumbai. It was amazing; I was able to see a few ancient carvings and yes, wild monkeys (I sent one home to my dad, I hope he got it).

The journey to Hyderabad from Mumbai was probably one of the most interesting experiences of my life. We took an overnight, 19 hour train to Hyderabad, the city I now live in. We began our trip making friends right away with the gentlemen in the sleeps near to us. We began by simply chatting a bit and by the end we had about 5 of them joining us in a round session of row row row your boat, with hand motions. It was hysterical!

Arriving in Hyderabad, I was able to experience my first auto ride. 3 people per auto is should be there but we tend to fit at least 5 on a regularly. Haggling is a regular part of life here, they say fifty and you respond with forty sir we go for forty every day. Really we are arguing over twenty cents. Autos are not the only thing to be haggled over, you haggle over everything. Purses, clothing, food, anything and almost everything is up for a debatable price.
Living in Hyderabad has really given me a new perspective on life. I have never had to experience what it is like to go without anything I needed, I may not have had everything I wanted but I have never known the pain of hunger of the cold of having no shelter. That is exactly what I have seen in Hyderabad, India. I have never seen so many stray dogs and families in need of food as I have here. At every turn there is someone asking for money for food. They hold out their hand then point to their mouth and stomach asking for money so they can eat. If I had all the money in the world I would be able to give to everyone. It is so hard to look into their eyes and say no.

So, we are up to the current now right? As part of the program we have learning days where we learn about the country and visit other NGOs. We were visiting one a few weeks ago and we just got out of our meeting and talking outside on the steps of the office. We noticed a few men coming over talking with us taking pictures. After about 5 minutes we told them no more pictures and that we were talking. Pretty soon, in about 5 minutes we were surrounded by about forty-fifty people all taking pictures of us. I think this was my first real experience of feeling like I was in a zoo. One of the girls in the group got out the video camera and told them well, you're taking pictures of us I will just video you right back. This did not stop the zoo feeling so; we got up and left to sit somewhere else.

You may be wondering about my project eh? I am now well on my way with my project which is amazing, it only took two months to get it going. I am very excited about it and I know the committee I am creating to do fundraising, outreach, web design and other essential activities for the organization will leave a lasting impact on the organization I have been paired with. I can't wait to get further into it.
Till next time,

I love you and don't forget to smile!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This is India

Adaptability is the one word I would use to describe India. The country where waiting is the norm and nothing ever works right, yet I love it. I live in an exciting world here where the rules are different and you have no choice but to let go because this is India. The lines on the road to not exist and when they say be there in five minutes they really mean five days. I guess I had some training on the waiting game during my time through Europe where we live in Ish time and people suffer from manana syndrome. Ah well this is life outside the US. It's funny, once you leave the US things may not work right and they may or may not ever get done but, everyone is more relaxed. There is no such thing as time. Ok, back to India right? You are itching to know more than things don't work. Here it goes….. Everything is amazing the food, cloths, ok not the smells but I don't think the smell of urine mixed with pollution is pleasant anywhere in the world. One of the hardest aspects here is seeing people use the streets as their personal toilet system. In comparison, in the US people go outside in the mountains in private where here just walking down the street people are using it as a toilet, out in the open. (As seen in India: do not pass urine here) Moving on, going to the stores and haggling over a few cents with the "mini taxi" is probably one of the highlights. It's almost a like a game how low can I get them to go and the reality is no matter what it's still a good price to me (we argue over literally ten cents). Another thing about India that is well I don’t know if it is good or not maybe good for me considering I am a legend in my own mind is the constant pictures taken of us because we are westerners. One day we just go out of a meeting and were sitting on the steps and one by one people started to come out to take our pictures and just stare at us. Pretty soon we were like animals at the zoo only we did not have the protective gate around us. We had people surrounding us in a circle taking photos no less than a foot away. I think this is all the excitement we can handle for now, till next time I am MOOOOOOing off.

Oh wait just kidding did I forget to tell you about the random monkeys and cows in the streets? Yep at one of the places we visited there were monkeys roaming the island, Elephanta Island. Yes, I did get a monkey he is being sent home to my father's office as we speak. As for the cows well, you get used to having them around. Don't walk without looking down. Ok there is a brief intro to India exciting I know you can't wait till next time. Love, laughter, smiles, and adventure, till next time


Saturday, September 3, 2011

On the road

Traveling through many different countries in Europe has really opened my eyes to life. I came on this adventure as a self discovery. I had mentioned before how my life was changed and my walls of what I thought should be came crashing down as I became more open to lifes possibilities. Well, I am no closer to finding myself than I was a month ago. Honestly, I'm not so sure I will find myself. I think this journey in life is about growing into yourself I think I have myself its just embracing myself and all the wonderfullness I have to offer. People are always growing and changing with every new experience and with each new person they encounter, I feel like this is my story. I hate to be cliche but, its almost like I am on my own eat pray love adventure. I get to explore and examine what I believe in. I get to indulge in amazing food all over Europe and yes I even had the opportunity to love. To explore further, each one of these can be just a broad topic in my journey. To pray means not only to explore belief but to also hold strong in times of weakness and to trudge forward without looking back. No regrets! Shoulda woulda coulda but I can't go back in time. To think about it, why would I want to go back and change anything that one made me smile laugh or melted my heart. I have had some amazing times. And no, I did not do most things gracefully or "the right way" whatever the right way is but, I had fun and created many stories to tell and gained many lessons. To eat means to be confident in myself enough to just eat what I want and as much as I want. To truly experience the food in each new culture I come into. To love goes far beyond a romance. It means to also love myself as the imperfect, quarkey, beautiful person I am. It means to love my fellow traveler for just who they are. It also means to love the earth with all of its unique beauty; It means to treasure each of my experiences, taking each one as a blessing in my life. It has truly been amazing being able to travel through the rolling hills of each country, experiencing camping by the water, and browsing through the local markets. One of my favorite places was Turkey. Experiencing a Turkish bath is something everyone should do when in Turkey, it is like a spa and a locker room all at the same time. At the end you get a massage and a mud mask but when you first walk in your in a room naked with a bunch of other women where you get washed by Turkish ladies. I also loved learning about another part of the worlds history just as I did in Croatia. Lastly, I have to say Croatia is the most beautiful place I have been so far. The crystal clear water surrounded by rolling hills, that are what I would describe as a crisp green. If I were to sum it up in one word it would be majestic! One final note: today was my last day in Croatia and I had the opportunity to go for a run during the sunset, which by far was one of the most amazing runs I have ever done. the sun was going down to my left filling the sky with the perfect mixture of pink and orange while also creating a diamond like glisten off the water. To my right were hills, they reminded me of the canyon at home. All together, this was the perfect end to a spectacular stay in Croatia.

with much gratitude and love till next time,


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lost for the better

The last few months have been one wild and crazy ride for me. I went from knowing everything, who I was, where I was going, and even the picture perfect image of a man in my head. All that was left was for life to fall into place to meet the package I so neatly constructed. I met someone on my journey who changed me life al of a sudden the walls of my box began to fall and I started seeing through the box. It was almost like having am art project fail and looking at it again to see something cooler. That is what happened to me. I am now an open canvas waiting for the beauty to unfold on my life instead of my holding onto the canvas anxious ing for the perfect shade of green to appear. I learned a very good lesson in being open and not walking away frpm an opportunity in life because it does not fit the box that was beautifully put together. Love this day and all it has to offer tomorrow opportunity may never come and the box may never get filled.

I'm off on another adventure I hope part of my.canvas will be filled along the way.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

heading into an amazing shabbat

We just left Tzfat and are now entering into our second Shabbat in Israel. I never fully kept Shabbat at home, turning off technology, reflecting from within. Beeing in Israel, I have began to keepo more of Shabbat and use the time to just be. It is an amazing experience to have one day a week where I do not have to be connected. Being in Israel has changed what it means to be Jewish. It is so much more than just keeping Shabbat, Kosher, and going to temple for the holidays. Being Jewish means being a good person, helping others when I can, and spending time with the people I love, giving them my time for one whole day placing my focus on them instead of my e-mail, facebook, or other distractions.