I moved to DC just over a year ago and am only a few days away from my 1 year anniversary at PSI. At this point living in Lesotho feels like more of a distant memory than I would have expected after living there for a little over 6.5 years.

The last year has been crazy. Crazy good. Since I left Lesotho I have been:

Traveling at least once a month for 9 of the last 12 months either for work or fun or both. For work I’ve done 7 trips to 5 different countries. All, except one, new to me. I just can’t pass on an opportunity to go somewhere new and advising our country teams has been both challenging but rewarding. For fun I’ve been to four countries (three of them new), two weddings, my 20th high school reunion, a salsa dancing conference, and Christmas at home. There is no end in sight with plans to get on a plane at least once a month through July.

Reading 36 books, 14,145 pages. Mostly on audiobook. Notably I finally started the Harry Potter series and to date have finished the first five books. I rebelled against Harry Potter for a long long time, but after finally hearing so many recommendations for the audiobooks I caved. And I’ve really enjoyed them. I am on track to finish my 17 before 2017 goal of reading 90k pages.

Taking advantage of city life by going plays, musicals, concerts and any other kind of live performance that piques my interest. Between subscriptions to the Kennedy Center and the National Theater and random other events I’ve been to some kind of live performance at least once a month.

Walking 11,637 steps per day on average according to the Health app on my phone. The average, of course, obscures the fact that when I’m not traveling I normally walk somewhere between 13-16,000 steps per day and sometimes up to 18-20,000 thanks to my central location and the fact that I live a 15 minute walk from work. I’ve been trying to be better at getting more steps in while traveling, but it’s HARD.

Hanging out with friends from Lesotho. Lucky for me lots of people I knew in Lesotho either moved to DC afterwards, or have moved to DC while I’ve been here. Not to mention the people who come through town from time to time and the three (!) weddings of Lesotho friends that I’ve attended. Most of my social life here still revolves around the people I met in Lesotho and I feel so fortunate for that.

Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I joined a competitive karaoke league for two seasons, one of which my team (accidentally?) made it to city-wide finals. That was crazy. I volunteer as a case manager for a local reproductive health organization, which has been much more fulfilling than I imagined. I’ve also been taking casino salsa classes, attending a conference last October in San Diego but also pushing myself to get out of the classroom and attend socials where it’s a lot harder when you don’t know exactly what your partner is going to do.

If it sounds like I’m really happy with my life right now it’s because it’s true. I feel so lucky to be where I am both literally (geographically) and figuratively.

Watching: Have I mentioned how much I enjoy the series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”? I was an early adopter, not one of those people who waited until Rachel Bloom won a Golden Globe to start watching (but you should start now even if that’s the case!) Musical + rom-com like twist? Sold. (Also, if you like the show you should read this profile of Rachel Bloom from the NYT)

Anticipating: Doing a big road trip to visit my favourite places in Lesotho this month. Right now my idea is Maseru > Bokong  Katse Dam > Thaba Tseka > Sani Top > Thaba Tseka > Semonkong > Sehlabathebe … Or something like that.

Listening/Reading: I read 8 books in January. A couple I got a head start on in December but most of them I started and finished in January and most of those are audiobook fuelled by my long drive to/from Cape Town. Yay for listening to books at 1.5x normal speed.

Also, FiveThirtyEight has a politics podcast. Nate Silver helps me stay sane/not despair in election years, highly recommended.

Eating: Gazpacho, my summer go-to recipe. I’ve also been making a lot of caramel popcorn recently but haven’t quite got the technique down yet.

Working On: Keeping up with my 10 Commandments of #funemployment. So far, so good – with the exception of the Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred workout. I haven’t done it even once, yet.

Loving: #funemployment. Like way more than I thought I would. This is partially because my job search has been going pretty well so far (… knock on wood!). Nothing is moving too quickly, but I’ve had a pretty steady stream of interviews which has made me feel more comfortable in enjoying this time off.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that I am not going to live in Lesotho for the rest of my life. I have always known this, but these days it feels a little more direct. True Story: While listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on my road trip from Lesotho to Cape Town I cried at the song “One Last Time” where George Washington gives his resignation speech. The line “George Washington’s going home” repeated at the end hit just a little too close to my heart (as cheesy and ridiculous as it is to compare me leaving Lesotho to George Washington voluntarily giving up the presidency …)

I’ve lived in Lesotho for 6,5 years – the longest place I’ve lived outside of the city where I grew up from age ~3 to 18. I call it home not only because it’s where my stuff resides but also because this is where I have had a host of amazing experiences. Therefore over the next few weeks I’m going to pop up here and reflect on some of my all-time favourite memories (focusing only on those that happened in Lesotho specifically, so excluding a bunch of road trips and fun events in South Africa and the region) including:

1. Sehlabathebe National Park
2. Maseru Players Company (generally)
3. Playing Ms. Pennywise in MPC’s production of Urinetown: The Musical
4. Iron Chef: Maseru
5. Bokong to Tsehlenyane hike
6. The river lodges at Maliba Lodge
7. Hashing on Sundays
8. Malealea to Semonkong Hike
9. Sani Pass – hike to highest point in Southern Africa

Stay tuned!

I’ve been officially #funemployed for a month now but thanks to a series of trips it has felt more like an extended vacation than time going by and not actually having a job. Now that I am back in Lesotho the reality that I don’t have to report to work on Monday morning is starting to hit me and I’m increasingly wondering what the **** I’ve gotten myself into …

My sister, in the meantime, was also #funemployed at the end of the year and came up with the great idea of the 10 Commandments of Unemployment. (And then reviewed how she did now that she’s starting a new job on Monday.) This seems like a reasonable idea so I’ve come up with my own list of 10 things I want to do while #funemployed including:

  1. Thou shalt walk 10,000 steps per day
  2. Thou shalt make social arrangements at least 3x per week
  3. Thou shalt block yourself from Facebook between 9am and 5pm
  4. Thou shalt cook dinner 3x a week. This does not include popcorn or meals that primarily involve boiling water.
  5. Thou shalt do the Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred workout 3x per week
  6. Thou shalt connect with two people in your network per week
  7. Thou shalt take a road trip once a month
  8. Thou shalt catch up on your 17 Before 2017 reading goals (currently 960 pages).
  9. Thou shalt participate in Allison’s photo-a-day project called #funemployment
  10. Thou shalt re-visit your favorite places in Lesotho including Maliba Lodge, Sehlabathebe National Park, Semonkong

In addition to this list there are things that I have to do to get ready for my next step like Konmari the house to get ready to pack up, pack up the house, sell/giveaway things I’m not taking with me, figure out the logistics of actually moving my stuff from here to somewhere else, figure out the logistics of moving my animals from here to somewhere else, find a job and figure out where that somewhere else is going to be …

I like the list because it includes some things that I really don’t want to do, but want to push myself to actually do (*ahem* the Jillian Michael’s workout that I’ve had on video for several years now and never even watched …) and things that will be fun to do like road trips. There are also things that can be combined like cooking dinner and making social arrangements. Here’s to making the most of and enjoying my time off!


Watching: The sunset over Patan Durbar (Royal) Square, the last of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley.

Anticipating: Bhutan starting tomorrow! I finally experienced cold weather when in the foothills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley, a little preview for what I think the weather will be like in Bhutan.

Listening/Reading: 25 by Adele and the Hamilton Original Broadway Soundtrack because I forgot to load Christmas music onto my phone before leaving .

Also reading ‘The Iconography of Nepalese Buddhism’ I’ve seen enough Buddhist and Hindu imagery around and will be seeing more in Bhutan that when I came across this I figured it was worth studying up.

Eating: Dal bhaat served Thali style, the national dish of Nepal.  Good thing I live dal.

Working On: Being patient with the guides pestering me. I have a great guidebook that I’ve used to get around. I know they just want work but between a somewhat heavily guided trip in India and a mandatory guided trip in Bhutan I decided I wanted to do this on my own. I can’t tell that to them so I just have to say no, repeatedly to every potential guide who asks.

Loving: Life.

Playing: Badlands, pretty fun once you get the hang of it and better on the iPhone 6S with the 3D touch.

Watching: Borgen about a woman who becomes the Prime Minister of Denmark, aka the Danish “The West Wing.” All the speaking is in Danish, so it’s a lot of work to watch and read sub-titles in English. If you’re a fan of the “The West Wing”, though, you’ll enjoy this.

Anticipating: My big trip in just a couple of weeks!! Most of me can’t believe that my job at CHAI is ending so soon, but the rest of me is downright giddy at the prospect of my trip. In case you missed it I’ll be going to India, Nepal and Bhutan for about a week each, then back to Lesotho for a few days then on to Copenhagen via Cape Town where I’ll be seeing THIS and then visiting my sister and her family for Christmas.

Listening/Reading: I am literally obsessed with the original Broadway cast recording of “Hamilton” – a hip-hop musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton. It’s one of those things that was in my pop culture sphere, and when I finally got around to checking it out couldn’t imagine my life without it. I dare you to watch this performance by Lin-Manuel Miranda performing what would eventually become the opening number of the musical and NOT be completely bowled over by his genius. (Literally, he was just awarded with the MacArthur “genius” award.)

Eating and drinking up the food and booze in my house! It’s time for me to go through all my “food storage” given my travels and that I then don’t know how much longer I’ll be in Lesotho. I don’t have as much “food storage” as my Mormon upbringing might bring to mind, but there’s enough non-perishables on my shelves that I really only need to shop for meat and veggies in the short term. I was even good and kept myself from stock piling on a recent trip to Bloem and Woolworths food.

Working On: Getting ready to hand over my duties in just a few weeks time. The closer my departure gets the more I realise how much information is stored in my head that I am going to have to get out in one way or another. It’s madness.

Loving: That I will be seeing another “generation” of Lesotho friends at the wedding in India later this month. Basically I will get to see almost all of my most favourite people who I met in Lesotho in a 3-month period. So much fun.

Playing: Monument Valley for a 2nd time. After I upgraded to a new iPhone recently I had more space to add games and I rediscovered this gem. Loved it once, loving it twice.

So, I have some news and now that it’s out of the bag at work I figure that it’s time to tell the world that …

… I’ll be leaving my job at CHAI in November. I haven’t figured out what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be next. In the meantime I’ll be doing some traveling and then staying in Lesotho a little longer until I do (or winter comes around again, whatever comes first …)

There. I thought that writing this for the world to know would make it feel more real. It does not. I am both sad and excited, but right now mostly sad. If I think about leaving what has been my home for the last 6 years I get weepy. At the same time I know that there’s a great opportunity out there for me, now I just have to find it. It’s a very strange feeling.

As I mentioned above I plan travel a bunch after my last day with CHAI as it happens to correspond to a return trip to India for the wedding of more friends. (Yes, my third wedding in an 8 month period. All friends who I met in Lesotho, 4 of whom met their partners in Lesotho.) I all of a sudden realised that I had free time to travel and then couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then there was decision paralysis when the number of options started to overwhelm me. In the end I decided to tack on a trip to Nepal and Bhutan at the end of my time in India. It will be a little chilly, but no worse than Lesotho in winter. Altogether it is going to be the longest trip I’ve ever been on and the longest time I’ve spent traveling by myself. It’s going to be pretty awesome.

In the meantime I am very actively looking for my next opportunity. So, people, shoot me an email if you know of anything! I would love to find something in South Africa but am pretty flexible geographically as long as the job is challenging.

I’ll leave you with some cheesy sayings that I pinned on Pinterest awhile ago but that have even more meaning to me at this phase in my life. There will be a lot to process in the coming weeks so I imagine that I’ll be writing here more than usual. Stay tuned 🙂

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Watching: Season 1 of “Mr Robot” (Whoa.) and old seasons of “The Wire.” After “Breaking Bad” ended I started saying that it was the best television show EVER because it went out on a high note while Season 5 of “The Wire” is the worst of the bunch. I’m reconsidering this assertion now that I have started on my third time watching the entire series of “The Wire.” I’m not sure I could go back and re-watch “Breaking Bad” but, man, do I love “The Wire.” Let’s just call it a tie.

Anticipating: So many exciting things happening this month! The Lesotho Wine & Craft Festival is this weekend (aka the social event of the season). Later I get to see the Alvin Ailey dance company perform in Joburg and then I’m off to Jon and Emma’s wedding at the end of the month. Yay for reuniting with Lesotho friends!! I’m also eagerly anticipating the arrival of my first grown-up piece of furniture, a couch I ordered and that should be delivered this week or next. Exciting month ahead!!

Listening/Reading: I just finished “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” as an audiobook and cannot wait to start the next one in the trilogy. It left me wondering, “What the f*** is going on?” in the best way possible.

Eating: Lots of salads (my fave: chopped up broccoli, red onion, cucumber, red pepper plus chick peas and canned corn) but it’s almost time to break out the gas grill.

Working On: The future.

Loving: Spring in Lesotho! The peach trees are in bloom and the whole country is pink. Love it.

Wanting: This bullet journal

Watching: Season 3 of “Orphan Black” (Tatiayana Maslany FTW at the Emmy’s by the way … What she does on the show is pretty incredible) and Season 1 of “Madam Secretary” (Their depiction of the King of Swaziland and his wives was SO OFF. The actors and the clothes they were wearing all looked more West African than Southern.)

Anticipating: Being at home for the month of August. I have no trips planned and I’m looking forward to it. Starting in September I have either work or personal trips planned (or both) at least once a month every month to the end of the year. While I can’t imagine my life without travel, it’s nice being home for long stints too.

Reading: “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania” by Erik Larson. I’ve loved his other books and this is no exception.

Eating: Conference food since I’ve been in meetings every day but 2 since returning from Utah. In Lesotho, at least, conference food usually means traditional food that I don’t normally eat but love to eat at conferences like polony sandwiches, peas, samp and beans, and dessert that usually involves jello and/or custard. This week I was pleasantly surprised to find what I thought was pap was really mashed potatoes!

Working On: Finishing the colouring pages that I’ve started in three separate books, using a combination of markers and pencils but can’t seem to complete.

Loving: The entertainment I’ve been getting by going back through old entries in my “micro-journaling” app from a couple years ago. I’ve gone through a dry spell recently where I haven’t been writing very frequently (or at all). Looking back through my entries I’m reminded that it works best when I write frequent but quick entries.

Playing: Nothing these days but someone advertised that they are looking for people to play nerdy boardgames with in the local expat email newsletter and the first meet up is in the middle of the month.

In 2013 I received two coloring books (this one and this one) and a set of Prismacolor Premier colored pencils from my mom parents for Christmas. I colored a few pages shortly after receiving the books but once my cleaning lady put the books on my shelf they sat there for the next year and a half. About two months ago on a chilly Lesotho winter evening when I was uninterested in scrapbooking and looking for something else to keep me entertained while watching TV (because who just sits and watches TV these days?) I decided to pull the pencils take another stab at coloring in the books. Right after I started coloring again there was an article in Entertainment Weekly on grown-up coloring books then NPR ran a story about the growing popularity of grown up coloring. Who knew my mom was such a trendsetter? According to this article from mid-July, “adult coloring books occupied as many of eight of the top 20 slots in a spot-check of Amazon’s best-seller list this week.” Whoa.

Shortly after the NPR story ran it came up in conversation with a group of lady friends in Maseru, which led to a ladies night gathering where we drank wine and colored together. After that I decided that I needed to get some more books (and a set of markers) during my visit to the U.S. and now, you could say, I’m officially obsessed. I’m finding it a great alternative to scrapbooking that feeds on my love of pattern and color but let’s me take a break from the computer. Of course because I’m obsessed I thought it would be fun to share the latest additions to my coloring book collection and some thoughts on them:

Natural Wonders a Patrick Hruby Coloring Book: This one is a bit different from the others in my collection. The areas to fill in are bigger with less detailed areas. It’s truly a book where you can turn your mind off while coloring as you don’t have to think too much while filling in the areas. It has nice thick paper and perforated pages making it easy to remove them from the book. Plus the pictures are just fun.

Balance by Angie Grace: Unlike the Patrick Hruby coloring book, this one is all about the detail but it’s also proving to be my favorite. Most of the spaces are so small that I have to use only my very fine tipped markers. What I love about the book is looking up color palettes on Pinterest and then finding the right colors to pull it off. The artist has a new release called “Centered” that is on my future wish list.

Mid-Century Modern Animals by Jenn Ski: Let’s just say that the cats on the cover drew me in and when I saw previews of the rest of the pages I couldn’t resist. This has a good mix of detailed and non-detailed work. This book also has really nice thick paper and perforated pages. When I showed it to my mom she said, “I lived through mid-century modern. Are you going to color it in Avocado and Harvest Gold too?” (Challenge accepted.)

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford: One of the most popular grown up coloring books out there, according to what I’ve read. Also lots of small detailed areas, like Balance. The one thing that is keeping this from being a close runner-up to my most favorite book is coloring ALL THE LEAVES. I get so tired of coloring in just shades of green. That said, the artist has a new book coming out later this year with an ocean theme that I am already coveting.