Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Official!!!

As of 7:50pm, I have officially accepted my invitation to serve as an NGO Capacity Builder for the HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Project in Botswana!!! Although I don't know exactly what my job will entail yet, the invitation kit says I will be working with NGOs in the area of orphans and vulnerable children. I couldn't be more thrilled to be going to Botswana or to be working in the field I will be working in. It truly is a dream come true. Today will go down as one of the most exciting days of my life!!!

An Apology Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

This is an apology letter. Why do I need to apologize to everyone in one fell swoop? Because you have all been subject to my obsessive nature lately... I am a girl possessed by leaving for Peace Corps! I am eating, sleeping, breathing, and thinking entirely about this upcoming adventure. And it seems that I have developed an uncanny ability to make everything refer back to the Peace Corps. Literally, as I type this, I am having a conversation about pumpkin cupcakes with a coworker and somehow found a way to bring it back to Peace Corps ("you know, they eat a lot of pumpkins in Botswana"). I feel badly because I am sure it is annoying or, if it isn't yet, it will become annoying. Please bear with me. I am sure that in 2.5 years my conversations will return to normal... I hope. Until then, know that I love you all and am so appreciative of your patience and support. Ke a leboga ("thank you" in Setswana)!

Tija the Possessed

P.S. This is how it will look on the other side of this adventure...

(Thanks to Elizabeth for reminding me of this PSA! Classic!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Now that I got the yelling, screaming, and dancing out of my system (for now), I am happy to say that....


I will be leaving on April 1st for Africaaaaa! (Yes, we all know that this departure date means Botswana and I am THRILLED!) My invitation has changed from original nomination of Business Development to NGO Development but my Placement Specialist said that this position is a "perfect fit" for me! I could not be more excited right now! (Excuse me while I go back to doing a happy dance... more later!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Holy Emotional Rollercoaster!

I spent half the day today in a slight panic after realizing that the eight week mark before my nomination date was fast upon me and I hadn't been contacted by my Placement Specialist yet... Welllllllll, that panic turned into some serious excitement because guess who has their placement assessment at 7:00 tomorrow morning!? Yes, that's right, ME! I was on my way out the door from work when I received the official email asking for my availability in the next few days for my final interview! After calling my mom and taking a minute to compose myself, I emailed back and got it scheduled for first thing in the morning! I am so excited I can hardly stand it! Please send positive thoughts my way and stay tuned for tomorrow's update! Hooray!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hello Peace Corps, it's me, Tija!

Hello Peace Corps, it's me, Tija! I just thought I would send out a little reminder that I'm still here, waiting on the day that my cell phone rings with a 202 area code and my stomach fills up with butterflies as I run out of my office to take the call... I appreciate your letting the anticipation build and giving me time to be excited, truly I do, but I am ready for the call now. I mean, it has been a month since you said "within a month" for my placement interview. I even turned my ringer up obnoxiously loud so that I won't miss the call. Also, if you could call Kati that would be sweet because her call was supposed to come last week. Both calls would be extremely appreciated. I mean, we have an epic going away party to plan that we have been putting off in hopes of receiving this call (and a blue envelope in the mail) first. I promise we will send you an invitation in exchange for one...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Choose To Smile

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Despite all of my hard work at my agency this past year (tripling our grant funding, developing a marketing strategy that increased enrollment in our fatherhood education program by 100%, and coordinating our free legal clinic for low-income families), I was told yesterday that my position was being cut back to part-time. Of course, I was really upset - I was frustrated, irritated, disappointed, and crushed. I cried a little bit and then I freaked out about money, bills, saving, etc. I ran the gamut of emotions. I have done a lot for this agency and have stayed the course through all the ups and downs these last four years and could hardly believe this was how I was being repaid. (Ha, funny, "paid"!) I left the office not knowing how all of this would work out or what I was going to do.

In the light of a new day (and being true to my new years resolution), I feel like this could almost be a blessing. I have accomplished a lot in my job, there is nowhere else for me to go in this position, and I am planning on leaving in a few months to start a new journey with the Peace Corps anyway. I can rearrange my student loan payments, I can cut back on some spending, but I can never get this time back. I absolutely refuse to spend any more of my time fretting and dwelling on this. I have been successful in my work and now I am getting a chance to finish some projects while also taking some extra time to enjoy life.

I plan to use this extra time to do the things I love - to go snowboarding, to ride horses, to volunteer, and to spend time with my family and friends. I am rejuvenated and ready to accept this new fate and make the most of it.

So I'm sitting at my desk with a big cup of coffee, listening to my music just "a little" too loud, planning my snowboarding adventure for tomorrow, and smiling because they have no idea how much they are going to miss me when I'm gone.  :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Perspective

To celebrate the start of 2011, I went to Seattle to spend the weekend with some of my best friends from college. We went to a ridiculously awesome hip hop show, ate at some of my favorite restaurants, and "hydrated, dehydrated, and caffeinated" together. It was a glorious weekend.

During one of our escapades, we laughed about our (mis)adventures and joked about New Years Resolutions. Up to that point, I hadn't thought about New Years Resolutions at all, having focused almost exclusively on fretting about placement and the months (way) ahead of me. Our conversation got me reflecting on 2010 and thinking about what I wanted in 2011.

The past year was full of significant ups and downs - I was forced to stand up for myself, I exceeded even my own expectations for receiving grant funding, I was laid up after a bad injury, I said goodbye to an old friend and made new meaningful friendships, I made it through the fifth year after losing my dad, and, finally, I applied for Peace Corps. In thinking forward to 2011, I knew I wanted to take these lessons and the strength I have gained throughout the year and really utilize them. What I have come to is this: I want to be brave, to wake up each day with a fresh perspective, and to embrace moments. These are the areas that I want to continue to develop because I believe whole-heartedly that encompassing them will enrich my life.

I realize that I have a hard time slowing down and this has made times in my life blur together and has probably changed the depth of my experiences. I want 2011 to be full of memories and I am eager to embrace them. What this means for me (and my pursuit of Peace Corps) is that I will strive to slow down and enjoy the process of things, to find happiness and rejoice in whatever comes my way, to be open to change, to see the world from a variety of new and different ways, to trust untiringly, and to be present.