Traveling solo in Bali: I realized happiness is made, not found

She admits it was daunting. But it also taught her a lesson on reaching out to others. She also proved many would be happy to help.

By Shintya Kurniawan

It was unplanned. It was fun and life changing. These are the four simple lines to sum-up my experience.

It started when a book-review competition rewarded me free plane tickets to Bali on 2013.

I can choose the dates, the sponsor reserved and paid for my tickets. I am grateful and excited. However, I have never bought tickets to travel alone. It was a first time for me.

When I go for trips, at least one friend joins me in the journey. Except having the free tickets, I have no particular reason to be in Bali. I have visited the island of gods multiple times. What would I do there alone?

Then, I remembered there was this annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival to tick off from my bucket list. So I requested to fly on the dates to attend the event on October 2013. The event, however, fell on weekdays. Everyone was working and nobody wants to go with me.

I guess not too many people would take a leave from work for a literature event. My excitement turned into a dilemma – should I cancel or reschedule the trip until we have a national holiday? Should I still go?

Thankfully, my traveling buddy, Mardea, decided to join me. But she could only do it on the last three days due to work. That, at least, relieved me. I have three days to enjoy my own company until she arrives. It should not be too hard.

Shintya’s first trip alone changed the way she looked at the world and people. It also opened doors for more adventures.

I decided to test my survival skills, packed my bags and just took on the challenge. I booked a motorbike and a hostel near the airport in Denpasar – Bali’s capital city. When I arrived, it was already dark and my GPS could not locate or direct me to the right hostel.

That night, I ended up sleeping at a different hostel – the nearest one I could find. The next morning, I decided to go to Ubud with the rented motorbike. I never drove a motorbike in Bali before. I vaguely remembered the road to get to Ubud from Denpasar. Normally I go by car with Mardea’s sister.

With the help of GPS, numerous wrong turns, countless stops and directions from friendly Balinese people, I arrived in Ubud in one piece. Finally! I did a daring 24 km drive by motorbike in an unknown route. Bucket list checked! The first day of the festival was a bit intimidating. I did not know anyone. Over time I learned how to start conversations and made new friends with interesting strangers.

My Bali experience opened my eyes to the world. After that, I have had the chance to travel alone to various places. During these times, I am bolder. These experiences shaped me to be more independent, raise self-awareness in many things in the world, as well as restore faith in humanity.

My prejudices on people got dramatically reduced as my sense of awareness towards new environments sharpened. I have met numerous angels (without wings) who helped me find direction, share travel tips (sometimes unsolicited) and clinch memorable experiences.

While in Frankfurt, Germany, a Spanish guy helped me buy the right ticket to Karlsruhe and even walked me to the right seat in the right coach at five in the morning. When I asked why he did it to me, he simply said that I looked confused and that I reminded him of himself when he first tried buying a train ticket in Germany. He got help from a stranger and he was happy to pay it forward. There is too much goodness in many people around us.

She met Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet, at Ubud Writers event.

When I was in Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia, the hostel owner asked me to help her interpret for expat guests who missed their train. She then insisted to drive me to my next destination at a neighboring city called Malang. She even insisted to pay for my lunch. In Nagarkot, Nepal, two tourists from Italy shared laughter and lessons with me about surviving scams while traveling.

These adventures blur all the labels and boxes that divide us. Although I still enjoy traveling with friends and family, I realized that it is healthy to take time embarking on a journey on your own. Traveling solo encouraged me to be comfortable with myself as company – making peace with myself.

I will most likely not bother to talk to other people no matter how interesting they are if I am with friends. Alone in trains taught me how to live without internet connection and try to communicate even in different language. It makes you creative and resourceful! It also trained my senses to be more alert of what is happening around me.

A female solo-traveler still raises eyebrows in Asia. The risks will certainly make our parents worry – but once you go home safe, it also strengthens trust for your next journey. In the end, traveling alone helped me to be brave and to say yes with many adventures ahead. Indeed, happiness is made not found. Most of it along the road.

Solo traveling can make a conservative Indonesian family concerned. But it also builds trust when you go back safe after a trip.

Shintya is a media and communications practitioner from Indonesia. She used to work as journalist and NGO worker. Currently, she is based in Poland to pursue her second Master’s Degree in Humanitarian Action. Photography, folding origami and collecting batik are some of her interests.

I am the first Yazidi actress to star in a lead role and my first reaction was “Oh, no way!”

Dejin’s dream found her; and never let her go until she said yes. Some girls are just born with their silver spoon waiting for them.

By Dejin Jamil

I smashed a glass ceiling. It felt very similar to breaking borders.

I should perhaps add, I raised the bar for Yazidi women when I said “yes” to star in a film. I did not even realize that the break handed to me on a silver platter can also open the door wide – and on screen, so to speak, for all the women in the world.

I am an aid worker for four years in Duhok, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, working in the camps for the internally displaced people coming from the conflict zones in northern Iraq. I run an education and protection project for children and youth.

This project always gives me mixed feelings. I am sad to see children, women and men of my country displaced by the war, in the process losing family members and relatives. This kind of sadness is painful and indescribable.

On the other hand, I feel happy when I go to the camps and see how strong and resilient the Iraqi families are. It gives me joy to provide support, share in their sad and happy moments. I love it when I go with the children as they gather around me. Many of them would say, “Hey, we saw you on TV! We are proud to see a Yazidi woman as an actress.”

My journey in doing movies began with a friend telling me that a Kurdish friend of hers who is a film director was looking for a woman to act in his film. They need someone who can speak both Kurdish “Badini” and English. She said, “I thought of you.”

Many girls dream of walking in the red carpet. Dejin proved it is possible to make that dream come true.

I immediately said, “Oh, no way!” This came out of my mouth without even weighing the merits of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was also certain that my parents would not allow me to join the film.

The Yazidi men are very conservative. Thinking they will be restricted to do what they want anyway, the women in turn have created their own barriers. But there are also other reasons for such concerns like fear for the safety of their lives and those of their daughters’.

Days after, I told my mom Fairoz, I added that I said no. Surprisingly she said, “Why not?” My mom then said, “I once dreamed to become an actress. At least you will make it come true.” My heart almost screamed. I cannot believe she wanted me to do it. I thought my mom would never support me.

My mom later told my father who never had any adverse reaction. I know he is more open-minded compared to her. The Kurdish fathers love to spoil their daughters.

My worries extended to what the bigger Yazidi and Kurdish community will think. I was concerned of talks about my reputation and that of my family’s. Working with too many men and being on screen are often frowned upon.

Nevertheless, when something is for you, it mysteriously finds a way. Visiting a neighbor, my parents learned that he knows the director and is a good friend. They discussed my refusal to star for the film and he told my parents to encourage me assuring that the director is a very good one and famous among Kurds.

Dejin with Mano Khalil, the first director who gave her a break in the film The Swallow.

My mom told me about the conversation in their visit. That gave me courage. I immediately contacted my friend who was also was having a small part in the movie to tell the director that I am interested. The director turned out to be Mano Khalil, a multi-awarded Kurdish-Syrian director whose documentary film The Beekeeper gained numerous acclaims.

My acceptance, I later learned, was a great news for the director and for the film crew as well, as they struggled to find someone who can match their requirements for the film. No many women are keen to do a movie because of family and traditional restrictions. I am fortunate my family is among those who are open-minded.

What happened next was almost surreal. My “yes” gave me two major roles in films by famous and well-respected directors.

In my first film by Kurdish Syrian director Mano Khalil The Swallow, I played a sister of a man on his 30th who falls in love with a half-Kurdish and half-Swiss girl who came to Kurdistan to look for her father.  During deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s time, her father was the reason why our own father got killed. My brother wanted to take revenge on her, but later falls for her.

My second was A Dream Before Dying (currently on post-production work) by acclaimed director Fekri Baroshi. My role was that of a Peshmerga soldier’s wife. While my husband was fighting the war, I was at home taking care of a sick father and son. This film shows how the dire conditions of the country and soldiers’ lives during the war. It also affirms the strength of Kurdish women left behind as their husbands serve the country, many of them becoming widows. My husband also dies in the movie.

In the film A Dream Before Dying, Dejin plays the role of a Kurdish woman married to a soldier fighting in the war in Iraq.

My first shooting of the first film was in April 2014 in Amedi district. The scene was welcoming my brother and meeting his Swiss girlfriend for the first time. Honestly, I was very nervous because that was my first time to stand in front a camera for a film. I once worked as a presenter in a TV channel but this was different.

The making of the second film is very emotional for me. The theme upholds the strength the Kurdish nation standing up to a group that is also a threat to the whole world. The films shows the sacrifice of men and women for the country and the people. I take pride in showing the courage and suffering of a Kurdish woman in this movie.

When I was around nine years old, I already dreamed of becoming a movie star. I would try to organize a movie shoot along with my younger sister Vajin, assigning my brother Danar as the camera operator. I would act as the director and at the same time take up the role of my father, hilariously imitating him. My parents found the short video we produced as very funny and shared it with my uncle in Germany.

My mom and I shared the same dream of becoming an actress. She did not have the chance. I almost buried mine without thinking. Looking back, I am so happy and proud that I took the challenge with the support of my parents. I take pleasure in the fact that I am sharing the achievement with my mother.

The highlight of these all was gracing the Solothurn Film Festival in Switzerland. I was nervous to be on the red carpet for the  first time in my life. It was also my first time to be in the country. So many strangers surrounded me but I did my best to be confident and show my best.

My parents and the whole family were very proud of me. While in the film festival in Switzerland, not many Yazidis and even Kurdish people got to know I was in a film. Most of the European audience were interested in the content of the film.

But when it was shown in Duhok Film Festival on September 2016, I got a lot of attention from media as a new Kurdish and the first Yazidi actress. For me that was an affirmation that my people are proud of me.

I have learned that I can lead the way for other women to achieve their dreams if I take the courage to say yes to an opportunity. In a way I am opening the door so others can follow. I should not be scared of what I want to do and always believe in myself. Belief in one’s self is very important. I finally realized a major lesson – that life is about taking chances; and taking the courage when daunting opportunities knock in our doors.

Dejin’s passion for her work and pursuit for her dreams is infectious. Crossing boundaries and breaking barriers must be in the to-do list of every woman. She has proven it can be done.

Dejin Jamil continues to work as World Vision’s Project Coordinator, Education and Protection Project for two Child Friendly Learning Spaces in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Marrying in Nepal: Fall in love or get arranged?

By Alina Rajbhandary Shresta

Alina met her knight-in-shining armour with a lot of help from her family. Her resistance was no match to the powerful pull of destiny.

In Nepal, it is normal for a woman to be married with the man selected for you.

Raised as a very independent Nepali woman, I could never imagine doing that. Not my cup of tea. Just thinking about how I would spend my entire lifetime with a stranger chosen for me bring shivers up my spine. I resisted the idea – much more the reality.

Thus, in 2002, when there was a proposal to meet up with a man who passed the criteria of fitting into our family requirement of a suitable son- in-law, I was distressed. Terribly. The potential groom’s photo got especially delivered to me at our house. It was actually a group photo of men and one of them, of course – was my future.

When I saw Pushkar for the first time in that photo, my immediate answer was a big “no”. However, my over-eager family interpreted my “no” as a “yes”. Eventually, I got persuaded to meet and see him in person. I invented many creative excuses I can imagine. To no avail.

Finally, my youngest sister Namrata came up with an idea that was so simple yet did not strike me earlier. She said, “You don’t have to marry him, just meet him. Enjoy a good pastry at his expense (if he is generous enough to pay for it) and come home.”

It was brilliant, for me at least. It sounded like a hilarious solution to my dilemma of being an obedient daughter who cannot go against my parents’ wishes. I thought I had nothing to lose and it would be a good end to the ongoing conversations at home.

The meeting was set up at Hotel Himalaya in downtown Kathmandu. I drove to meet him with the wise matchmaker seated beside me in the car. Families often engage with a matchmaker for arranged marriages. As soon as we reached the hotel, he pointed to the man at the door who seemed very excited. He was friendly and overly accommodating. Of course, I told myself, he will show his best foot forward.

Pushkar had lived in the United States for 11 years and came home for a break after acquiring his engineering degree. I suspected he also came home to find a wife. His acquired accent reminded me of one of the American shows I watched on TV, which I found very funny. This made me chuckle.

We talked about our interest and hobbies in general. I concluded we were poles apart. He shared his love for fishing and I was like “yeah right — fish in the heart of the city” (add an eye-roll)! Since my mind was already made-up, half of what he said flew past my head. I did not find them interesting. This concluded our brief (and in my mind, our supposedly last) meeting.

“I was raised as an independent Nepali woman. I cannot imagine not making my own choices.”

When I reached home, everyone wanted to hear how he was and my answer was ready, “He is not my kind of guy”. I confidently closed the chapter and life became peaceful. Or so I thought.

Two weeks later, I received a call from our landline telephone that was not working for a while. It was Pushkar, and I got alarmed. I soon recalled this was the number I shared with him when we had our short and forgotten meeting. I pretended to be my sister, trying not to sound like myself, informing him about the distant possibility of talking to a girl who was extremely busy with work. I was then working as a teacher.

He did not give up. When he called the following day, I picked up the phone again and this time, I got caught red-handed. He asked, “Is this Alina?” and running out of alibi, I have to admit I am the one on the phone. He immediately added, “I heard you do not like me? What is it about me that you don’t like – was it my looks?”

Before I could answer he continued, “There’s a face cream in the market I have heard about- called Fair and Lovely- do you think I should start using that?” My jaws dropped and I was lost for words.

Eventually I responded, “Yes, do that!” That did not faze him. “Which cheek should I start with – right or left?” My response- “Your call”. The conversation did not stop. He went to say, “What if I am fairer on the right side and dark on the left side”.

I have no idea if it was a joke or part of a vengeful plot to spite my decision. It was a hilarious chat for sure, but I was scared at the same time. I ended the call but this was just the beginning.

The next day he called again. He said, “You know what, you are the first girl to say no to me and I find that quite attractive – I always thought I was good looking.” The calls got frequent. My sisters and I sat together almost every evening to hear his endless tales just to burst out into peals of laughter.

Here was a man who was so confident that his charm would work on the girl he wanted to marry. I strongly believed it was just a passing phase of my life and would end soon for all of us, including the uncalled-for laugh sessions.

The beautiful bride on her wedding day. “It was destiny.”

My parents noticed the buzz in the house and decided it was time for them to meet Pushkar. A meeting was arranged between two families- his and mine.  This formal meeting usually culminates into marriage.

My resistance broke down. I had no time to think when my parents finally decided he was the one. They added to remind me he was better than the Bollywood actors I admired on screen. Yes, they also did question my earlier decision to say no.

After six months of courtship, I happily married the man I have not imagined would be my husband in the first meeting. It was destiny.

This became the most important lesson in my life.  Sometimes the best gifts in life come as a blessing when you have no clue and when you least expect it. Our choices may not be right but when God has plans for you, they find their way to come full circle.

My husband was not a choice I made, but he is my destiny. He was my perfect fit. He became a friend, a mentor and above all my inspiration.  After 14 years, we were blessed with two boys Pratyush, 12 and Pravaath, 7. Both of them asked me once, “Mom, why did you say no to our dad?” adding, “We don’t like this story of yours.” I just smile.

I guess they love that the story has a happy-ending.

“Sometimes your best-laid plans may fail for something much better to happen. Go for your dreams but don’t be disappointed when it doesn’t happen exactly as you want. Better things may replace them and surprise you. For girls on pressure to get married, don’t give in easily. Enjoy life and what you love to do. Your knight in shining-armour will find you, if he is your destiny.” – Alina

Now. Alina is a happily married woman to Pushkar and a loving mom to Pratyush and Pravaath. Yes, there are still fairy tale endings. And they lived happily ever after …

Alina R Shresta is currently World Vision Nepal’s Communications Manager and a very passionate humanitarian worker and advocate for the better future of girls and women.

Stop counting years, let the adventures begin!

The Canopy Walk in Swaziland’s pristine forests was one of the most exciting glides I have done. Doing it with adventurous friends doubled the fun. What is your most daring experience ever?

This March, istoryya.com is excited to share the lives of over 36 women from all over the world. Telling us their life, love and lessons, these women will show us how beautiful life is, and how we can go for the adventures we want – that impossible does not exist.

Limits exist when we impose it on ourselves. You’ve read that so many times. But you must have decided it can happen only to others. Are you crazy? Why not?

My life is a fascinating journey of storytelling. Whether I did it in a silver-chromed chair in a sleek office in Singapore, in a colorful rug under a scorching warm Indian sun, in a freezing tent in a camp in Iraq or a decaying wood in a thatched-roofed African hut, the stories never failed to enchant me.

I was once upon a time, a skinny-weeny girl who wondered how her life could be the same with those who can have dolls that blink and lovely dresses with frills.

Apart from the fact that my life is no fairytale, all I wanted was to afford a truckload of books and write non-stop. These are my definition of luxury those days.

Fast forward, I can now buy books more that I can read them. Do not get too impressed, my favorite hangout was a nearby second hand bookshop.

Honestly, I did not even consider traveling would come with it –too expensive for me even in a dream. It came as a bonus! My succeeding jobs just swept me off to places responding to global emergencies. And yes, my job does a lot of writing, 90 percent of it.

The best part is, I get to listen to stories of people – all colors, all walks of life, all the drama and suspense. Wherever we come from and no matter how boring we think our lives are (we always assume that) – we have a unique life, a story to tell. It can never be the same with anyone.

Nevertheless, there is always that common ground that binds us together. Trust me.

My story as a woman who got married at 18 and have three children before my 30th can be as common as your next-door mom’s life. But mine did not stop there. I took it a bit further – and I did it!

I got to blogging (as most of the bloggers I guess) to inspire more women never to give up on their dreams even when balancing them with motherhood and bills. All because I have proven it is doable.

Ask the person seated next to you. She has a story to share, I bet. Imagine how rich our lives will be if we are able to stop, ask and listen? Have you even listened to your grandma, mother, your sister, your aunt?

I hope this new phase of istoryya.com will give you the courage to pursue the life of adventure you want. Tell us if you have done it. Tell us if you are at it.

One thing for sure, if you can think of it, you can do it. Stop counting years, start logging adventures!

This weekend, our first guest blogger is Alina Shresta from Kathmandu, Nepal.

Alina is a communications manager in an humanitarian organization and a happily married mom of two boys.

Growing up watching Bollywood films, Alina always dreamed of marrying the man she will fall in love with. What if fate intervenes in the form of her parents and saves her the trouble of finding her knight in shining armor?

For all their good intentions, Alina tried to duck and dive from an arranged marriage. Did her parents succeed? What will you do if you are Alina and tradition gets in the way of your plans?

Please join me in welcoming Alina in istoryya.com and her funny but insightful story “Marrying in Nepal: Fall in love or get arranged?” about settling down in Nepal and finding the man of your dreams in a way you least expected.

Then tell us if your courage and your zest to life are as bold as Alina’s!

 

Hold it! Istoryya.com is also coming with a fantastic bonus.

Ready for Taiwan!

Madison the explorer, your tiny adventurer, will soon join us in the Traveling Mom & Toddler page with her mom Diane sharing their travel exploits in Japan, Hong Kong and soon – in Taiwan.

Maddie, as we all fondly call her, will give us tips how to be one-year old and start traveling. Watch them and their fun trips!

 

 

 

Ok, let’s get the secret out: I’m publishing my first book!

This has to be smokin' hot to get to this page (at least in my opinion, don't argue).

This has to be smokin’ hot to get to this page (at least in my opinion, don’t argue).

(Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, 17/10/2015)

“Everything you do along your journey contributes to where you’re going.” – Jen Sincero

That title, I am sure, got us straight to the jugular. I finally found the “main event” of my going to Iraq.

When the communications job was handed to me in almost a flash – while doing frenzied media interviews at the height of Typhoon Hagupit in Tacloban City in the Philippines on November 2014– I was clueless my life was going for that big U turn (and a massive screeching swerve!).

Maybe I was too busy on my headphone at that time talking of and monitoring the storm to wonder what on earth God was cooking up on something exciting. My work on emergencies is a series of non-stop roller coaster ride, what else is there surprising to anticipate? I was dead wrong!

You know that saying “God works in mysterious ways”? He kept doing that in my life I have resigned to the reality that instead of working against it, I’d sit back and relax, waiting how He will unfold his plans right in front of my sleep-wearied eyes.

He always does. He always made me laugh and say, “There you go – I can never ever outguess You!” And that’s so sweet of Him. For someone who is often wrangling with God to do it my own way, it’s a pleasure to be spoiled with His blessings, and His maximum tolerance.

So, my mantra was and is always this: The best is yet to come. Not so surprisingly, my sweet friend Yara Raad was His voice when she said the exact words during a wonderful dinner treat in Erbil. Oh well, if you know God better just like me – He always goes for the big time!

GeorgeBernardShaw_thumb4I am finally publishing my first book! A long overdue dream, honestly. I need to say this and make this public before I chicken out and change my mind. You won’t hear the car backing out from the driveway this time. Yes, and this is not just going after a dream. I owe it to myself to make it happen.

As Jen Sincero continues with a tone that sounds like an order to me, “Our fantasies are the most revealing peepholes into who we are and what we think is awesome. No matter how out-there and ridiculous they may seem, they mean something to us, and usually represent our biggest and best versions of ourselves.” Enough said.

I told Albert Yu once that I dream of my grandchildren saying to a bookworm seated next to them, “You know what, my grandma is the author of the book you’re reading.” And he shot back, “I think there is already a lot of good stuff your grandkids can say. The book is just one of the long list of accomplishments.” I am not too shy today to share this.

Our Istanbul holiday – a September delight – sealed the dream smack into reality (in a quaint tea shop overlooking the Bosphorus Strait, to be exact).

This first book, a collection of my stories, which will be released on home ground, will benefit a project for children with Cerebral Palsy in Koronadal City. It will be my first project before going for the second – and major – book project from Iraq.

Yes, I am certain this is one of the very special reasons God brought me here. A lot of my weekends got burned working on it – I can’t wait for it to go to print!

Can you please be sweet enough to wait for the book to be unveiled here? As they say it well in the movie theaters, coming soon!

PS: My special thanks to Albert YuDiwa Gacosta, Karen Rivera, Chris Lete and Janice Evidente. For varying reasons, you know why.

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“It is a way we make a living, but it feels more like a responsibility, or a calling. It makes us happy, because it gives us purpose… And we also pay a steep price for this commitment.” – Lynsey Addario, war photographer in her book It’s What I doIMG_0580[1]

Dream On – They’re Free!

Beating the African drum in Swaziland. All women should march to the beat of their own drums and dreams. If not, who will?

By Cecil Laguardia

Never settle for anything less than what you love doing and do well. – Colin Powell

I have almost done it all. I got pregnant and was prematurely married at 18. It may not be that shocking today, but in the 80s and on a quiet Filipino family, it was like a whistle bomb dropping in the middle of a family lunch. It broke my parents’ heart big time.

Doing this after finishing valedictorian from high school, my reputation took a nosedive in a small village where my mom was a respected public school teacher. I stopped university for 2 years, tried full-time motherhood and worked in the farm. I admonished myself I can’t be doing it forever!

I eventually picked up the broken pieces to finish a degree in Public Relations. My dream was to become a writer but I can’t remember how I ended studying PR. A year before I graduated, I gave birth to my second daughter.

I had 3 children in all at 27, a single mom at 28. To survive, I juggled on 3 jobs – day job at an electric company, a weekend job at an export business and a Thursday night job as secretary for a Rotary club.

These were apart from accepting writing work that burned too many night candles. But that journalism dream didn’t fade away. It blazed quietly, finding a way out. It didn’t quit on me and I gave it its due.

At a distribution activity in Swaziland and trying my hand carrying a pack of food assistance.

For 6 years, I was freelance correspondent for a national newspaper writing stories from Mindanao. I suspected my stories got published not because I wrote them well but because I send them the earliest ahead of competition.

Every published story gave me fireworks. Remember I was still having those 3 jobs on top of this one. I took every excuse to be able to write. No work was too small or boring.

When I landed a communications job in World Vision, it felt like I won the lottery. I can do what I love and get paid for it. It was normal for me to do 20 stories in a week’s assignment. I rode motorcycles to my interviews, braved floods, climbed mountains, took slow boats at muddy rivers and slept in gecko-laden guesthouses.

But in every assignment, I woke up early – no matter how late I slept – excited to go for that next story. I cried, felt sad, angry and scared, drained and exhausted. But the next day, I’d be like the phoenix rising.

I was raising 3 growing children on a meager income. But that didn’t stop me go for that dream. I worked hard and played harder as a mom. I slept and dreamed and woke up writing stories. I must. I often wrote about the “nobodies”. Their stories must be heard.

I didn’t accept “Oh, there are no stories here” comments. Every person has a story. Millions are waiting to be written. I will never run out of work.

Things got more challenging. I covered relief work during disasters, armed conflicts, famine, a civil war and more. All through these, I never gave up. I almost did, but I know I won’t.

At Lesotho’s snow mountain. When we pursue our dreams with dogged determination, the path opens up. You’ve read this one, right? It certainly does. Don’t doubt.

It would have been unfair to my children if I didn’t pursue what I want and tell people I didn’t because of them. At 49, I saw them complete university and pursue their own life’s dreams. Their dreams are fast becoming mine.

I can’t explain how I got lucky. One thing I am certain is – when you have a dream, never give them up. Don’t quit. Don’t trade. Don’t say you can’t. Just don’t.

Kathryn Stockett wrote her bestselling book The Help for 5 years and wallowed in 60 rejections for 3 and ½ years before she got it published.  She chased her dream like mad.

I’m no Stockett but I am like her. My persistence gets me sailing through the rough seas but I can’t imagine living any other way. Who knows? I might end up doing a bestseller and beat her to the draw by having 200 rejections. Watch me. Yes, I am on to my first book!

So dream away. They come true. It may take time, but they will. Trust me, been there. It’s far sweeter if you do your best for it. I know I made my father proud before he died.

You see, I’ve done it all but I am still at it. I’m not dropping out of the game. No one’s too old for another dream. Winners never quit. Keep telling yourself that. I do!

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So the pie isn’t perfect? Cut it into wedges. When faced with a challenge, evaluate or assess the situation, gather the good things in sight, abandon the bad and move on. Focus on the positive. Stay in control and never panic. – Martha Stewart

Trying my drummer skills at the roadside in Mozambique. No matter how tough the work is, there is always an opportunity to enjoy it. Seize every chance!

The Swazi women’s inner strength to rise above any adversity is inspiring. They love and find joy in their tradition. My over one year in the Kingdom of Swaziland is one of my happiest work assignments so far.

Cecil is a communications manager in an aid agency in Southern Africa based in Mbabane, Swaziland. On weekends and work breaks, she writes for her upcoming book, blogs and edits for istoryya.com, reads the piles of books she hoards in bookstores from countries she visits (currently its Bill Bryson’s hilarious The Road to Little Dribbling bought in Cologne, Germany) and explore God’s amazing creation.

Click to read some of my published work:

Premier Christian Radio interview: Aid workers urge churches to engage

World Vision: I know what it’s like to spend a childhood escaping conflict

Rappler: For travelers, aside from the usual tips

The Guardian: Diary of an aid worker: Desolation and bleakness in Tacloban

Time Magazine interview: They’re walking because there’s nothing else

Devex: Why it’s crucial to save before disaster strikes

Rappler: Living in the conflict zone; I know what it feels like

World Vision EU: The communicator as a humanitarian

World Vision: In Iraq, cash in hand lets displaced families buy what’s needed most

The “Dream” Blog link-up:

We believe dreams are made of the same filling as hope, joy and love – the things that give us breath to run, faith to believe, and a heart to sing. When we dream, nobody imposes limitations on us, and that which can be imagined and hoped for can be so.

We’re writing about dreams this month because we believe when we share our dreams, we are dared to chase them. These dreams have inspired us, changed us, and fuelled our love for life and God. They’ve moved us jobs, continents and through relationships. They remind us that everything is possible.

http://www.lindseytalerico.com/2012/05/08/so-long-old-dreams-hello-new-ones/

http://www.imrichenda.com/?p=449