I left my first job in Somaliland last week, to join a different organization just down the road. Serendipitously, my last day at the old gig coincided with the US Thanksgiving holiday, so all my gratitude was thrown into one bucket. To celebrate, our office hosted a lunch potluck. Some were concerned that things wouldn’t go off well, given this was an unknown holiday (by the majority) and a new dining concept (potluck). In the end, though, things went swimmingly, staff brought mountains of food, and we indulged to our hearts’ content: Somali classics, Ethiopian loaners, American standards, pizza and burgers (but of course@), and more.
Appropriately, this post is an ode to gratitude, for a number of things perhaps elementary but also fundamental.
- Work | For employment, period; for a relatively seamless and drama-free transition; for 9-to-5s and side projects alike; for the organic relationships that grow from contrived collaboration and the friendships that develop among colleagues.
- Love | For the give-and-take, for the patience, learning, and maturing that emerges inevitably (though not always painlessly) from being in loving relationship with others. For this concept that is maddeningly complex but also inherent to being alive. For coming around oh-so-slowly, with age and tough lessons, to self-love.
- Health | Because I’ve had a tough go of late, and my tough go-s seem to be chronic, and right now I’m okay. Because no matter where I find myself in times of physical malaise – no matter the continent or context, and I’ve seen hospitals in too many countries to count! – I almost always have access to resources and medical advice, and I’m still here. Because illness and pain make vigor and vitality feel like the miracles they are. Because listening to your body and heeding its wisdom are not easy, but learnable. Because I’m trying to stay on that path.
- Friendship | For the ones I have, the ones I have less of, and the ones I’ve yet to make. Because friendships sustain you, even when you take them for granted, and even when you’re far away.
- Perspective | The frightening and shocking events taking place back home (US) of late are bewildering in and of themselves. My heart aches for not being closer to the increasingly-vulnerable people that I love dearly, who walk into this new era in American history while I am 8+ hours and thousands of miles away, plugged into the technology that makes me feel like I still take part. I am grateful for the perspective afforded me by watching events unfold from a totally different cultural-historical context, and by listening to the chatter of an international peanut gallery.
Oh, and one last bite of gratitude: For this mammoth, gooey, tender, flaky, dream of an apple pie, concocted by my former colleague, of St. Louis (that’s Missouri) origins. It made for a deliciously authentic Thanksgiving meal.
I’ve been posting less frequently over the last few months, for different reasons. The minutiae of living abroad are less revelatory; a camera phone is so much more convenient and less obtrusive than a “real” camera, but also less conducive to blog-worthy photography; my day-to-day is increasingly full – not hectic or stressed, but full in a way that finds me less interested in distractions from what’s in front of me; I’m relatively new to Instagram and finding bite-size captures resonate more with my lifestyle; I’ve simply gotten out of the rhythm.
I’ll do my best to keep up, and check back in even after the party’s ended. Thanks for reading, and Happy Holidays to those celebrating.
Dear Erin W.
Thanks for this beautiful writing!
Truly speaking you were excellent boss with of leadership qualities! WE WILL ALL MISS YOU!