Monday, December 29, 2008

Tadias' 20 Favorite People of the Year



Please go to Tadias.com to read about a super impressive list of Heroes.

Included is photographer, Aida Muluneh who is my final ARTIST SPOTLIGHT of 2008!

Aida Muluneh: Reshaping our global image through photography
"I have spent most of my artistic career promoting alternative images of Africa. DESTA For Africa was born out of my belief that we have to be accountable for how the world perceives us. Even though Africa is ever growing and rapidly changing, the images that we see in the mass media are not reflective of that, ” Muluneh says in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine.

“I feel that African artists have a responsibility to manage how the continent’s image is portrayed, and we can do that by actually providing the necessary education and resources to those who are interested in documenting their own realities.”




Her new organization, appropriately named DESTA (happiness in amharic) for Africa, is a local NGO based in Addis Ababa. Muluneh (pictured above) hopes to encourage a new generation of African Photographers who are able to compete in the global media industry while reshaping the image of Africa reflecting their personal experiences.

Go Aida - We support you!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Celebrating


























Tonight was great because it is Natalie and Dominic's Birthday and I was lucky enough to spend time with my new adoption community family - Nat, Dom , Julie O  - (all have referrals waiting for court date like me), Heather & Chris (Mimi's parents www.2b3soon.blogspot.com) and a very very dear friend Russell (visiting from Sydney).  This journey continues to bring me so many awesome blessings.  What an amazing circle of friends.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Day I met LT

I had been on the wait list 6 months and 2 weeks when my life changed Tuesday, 12/23 at 12:20pm when I was at work and Britney yelled to me, you have a phone call.  I said, "ask Mike to take a message." And she said it's Abbey and I said, "I don't know..." and she said "Abbey from Gladney." At that moment my heart stopped and I sprinted down the hall about 200ft. My coworkers must have thought that I was crazy. I never expected the "call" on my work line, I assumed they would call my cell.
Out of breathe, I yelled "Abbey" and she said, "Amy, I have a Christmas Present for you" from that moment on...I was a little bit in a state of shock.  I saw her and felt so blessed. She felt familiar. Anyone who has gone through "the call" knows that it's so much to process but I was lucky enough to have Sandro, Christian and so many good friends near.

I was not expecting the call. I thought it would take a little longer AND I just assumed the agency would be closed Christmas week --BUT I was wearing my Liv necklace (courtesy Suzanne), my father's ring AND my Africa T-shirt on this day. I was also obsessively listening to an unplugged version of "Africa" on my Itunes. All of these things were special to that day.

Her name is awesome and it made me giggle most of the day. It's charming and melodic and I spent most of the day smiling about her and the perfect timing of it all and thanked my father. Outside of studying her pictures and sharing the magical news, I have been counting my blessings as I know that I am so so lucky to have this special being enter my life. I want to thank everyone who has supported me through this process. I am so grateful and Thank You Santa!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best Christmas present ever!!!!!!!!!!

I got the call on 12/23 at 12:20pm. She is a divine 9 month miracle. More to come but I just had my family unwrap her photos. It can't get much better than this.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Girl Power


New York (Tadias) - U.S. Doctors for Africa (USDFA) and “African Synergy”, an organization founded by African First Ladies, are convening their first joint health summit entitled “Leadership for Health” at the RAND Corporation in Los Angeles. The two-day summit in April 2009 will focus on HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and girls’ education, as Africa’s First Ladies seek to forge new partnerships with U.S.-based agencies and foundations to tackle the continent’s health crisis.

Over 20 African First Ladies are expected to assemble for their first-ever U.S.-based health summit on April 20-21, 2009, and will be hosted by USDFA, a California based non-profit organization, founded by social entrepreneur Ted Alemayuhu (pictured above).

“These First Ladies recognize their powerful position as role models, spokeswomen and advocates for their people,” says Ted Alemayhu, Founder and Chairman of USDFA. “Through collaborations with our organization and the summit’s other partners, we believe they can continue to inspire and work towards even greater change in their countries.”

The expected dignitaries hail from member countries of “African Synergy”, a health initiative alliance made up of 22 African First Ladies, established in 2002. Participating nations include: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Egypt, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Maurice, Namibia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, Central African Republic, Senegal, Sudan, Chad, and Togo.

The April 2009 summit will engage the First Ladies in professional skills-building workshops, identify top priorities for the coming year, highlight key partners on the ground, and name actionable steps towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals related to maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS and education.

“This is probably one of the most empowering initiatives we have ever been involved in,” says Mr. Alemayhu. “What is exciting about this particular partnership is that the entire movement is initiated and mobilized by the First Ladies themselves. USDFA and African Synergy share the common belief that healthcare is a basic human right, and recognize that a healthy population is essential for growth, development, and prosperity in every society and this is a great testimony, commitment, and dedication that needs to be encouraged and supported by all stake-holders around the world.”

The closed door VIP summit is being organized by USDFA in collaboration with the RAND corporation, UCLA, ONE, the Vital Voices Global Partnership and White Ribbon Alliance, as well as General Electric and Procter & Gamble, which are listed as sponsors.

Invited guests include former U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton, Sarah Brown (First Lady of UK), and Maria Shriver (First Lady of California) . The Gala event will be co-chaired by actress Jessica Alba.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Know Love

What's interesting about the waiting is that the longer I wait the more at peace I am. I wonder how I'll feel once I am matched, but for now I wait with a knowingness that she's right around the corner. I no longer question my capabilities or obsess over the timing of her arrival or our connection.  I know.

This feeling was further confirmed when I met a stranger today in the most charming and unique coffee shop. I told her about my adoption. She told me that she felt my father around me and that he is kind and is with me and orchestrating Liv's arrival and while there will be a delay, it's not a bad thing. She said when you get her it's like you're gonna breathe easier and she's going to have great cheeks and will challenge you in a good way and your life will flourish. I looked at her and I said with a pleased "I know". I felt proud to be touched by her insight and thanked my Poppy for speaking through her.

As I sit here tonight and hear the rain coming down I think about the goodness all around us and the connection we all have with one another and I think about the concept of One Love and decide I should write in my blog. One love refers to the universal love and respect expressed by all people for all people, regardless of race, creed, or color. To me, it means we are more alike that we realize and that our stories are all of our stories.

The last two years has brought me a tornado of feelings and all that comes with divorce and losing a parent and deciding to adopt as a single mom to a child of Ethiopia.  I'm proud to say that I've done my best to feel it through and honor my instincts and let go. And I thank Vivian Stringer the head coach of Rutgers Women's Basketball for her reminder that "we cannot always control the circumstances we're met with, but we can control how we react." Like Coach Stringer and my father, I stand tall and know that my baby is right around the corner.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Beautiful Babies


I'm an auntie - Again and again and again and again (just this week :).  Presenting Charles (left) and Avital (right) born to my dear friend Lorraine.  The twins are healthy, tiny and just beautiful.

As children do, they bring us together.  As I celebrate these two, I also thank Alexis for her generous gift to Liv (insert tear) to help Ethiopian Orphans through AHope and I in turn, pay it forward and sponsor a child in honor of my sister-in-law Suzanne's 30th B-Day.  By the way, the party was fantastic.

It's all about kids, honoring mothers and giving with purpose this Holiday Season.



Saturday, December 6, 2008

There are many reasons...

...that I'm smiling today.  

Last night was one of the most powerful nights of my life.  This process has given me so much more than I ever imagined (and I haven't even met my daughter yet).  I never even conceived that I would find a group of people who are going through the same thing, who  love to spend time together AND are super cool.  I've come to think of this group as my extended family and I'm overwhelmed with the thoughts of what the future brings for us and our children.  

So I'll start -  Combined, we had a lot to celebrate.
Heather, Chris and Mimi returned from Ethiopia and shared the most beautiful video and photos.
Julie O had a birthday, a referral and was issued a court date.
Nat and Dom received their referral
Noah (of Ange and Anil) turned one
I'm now third (according to the unofficial FBI list), and my dear friend had her twins last night and I'm going to Bakersfield to see my family/friends today to celebrate with a fun party.

The adoption process brings a range of emotions and moments like last night where good friends can bond, cry, laugh and share make my heart smile.  I am honored and deeply touched to be a part of all of this.  So today I'm just going to smile.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Julie took the words right out of my mouth


Please read this touching and important post from Julie. I'm lucky enough to call her a friend. Thank you for this post Julie and my heart goes out to all the single moms. I was lucky enough to be the next to last of the list (9) to proceed as usual through this current court season but my heart absolutely aches for those who fell behind me.


http://theeyesofmyeyesareopened.blogspot.com/2008/11/friday-friend-or-family-feature-day.html

Saturday, November 15, 2008

To/For the children of Ethiopia


i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

--ee cummings--


As we approach the Holidays, I feel like there is a needed energetic shift taking place. A good shift. Between the economy slowing down and the nation coming together to promote change, I believe this is a time where we all are reevaluating our value system and how we can contribute to the world. I encourage this reflection and hope we will collectively change the Holiday mindset from me to WE and place priority on giving in real ways through time, energy and resources for those who truly need.

In the spirit of Operation Spread Holiday Love, I'm offering a very worthy organization for consideration:

AHOPE for Children is a non-profit organization whose mission is to serve the children of Ethiopia, with a primary emphasis on caring for orphans infected with HIV. In Addis Ababa, AHOPE's two pleasant, well-staffed Children's Homes care exclusively for orphans who are HIV+ and have no extended family to care for them. Many of these children are now finding their forever families through adoption. AHOPE's Community Outreach Program enables orphaned children to remain within their extended families and culture, while receiving medical care, education, food, and other services.

www.ahopeforchildren.org

DONATIONS TO AHOPE ARE THE PERFECT GIFT FOR THE HOLIDAYS AND FOR OTHER SPECIAL EVENTS

Are you looking for just the right gift that isn’t just “stuff” for a person who has everything and needs nothing, whose heart would be touched by reaching out to a child who has nothing and needs everything? Make a donation or sponsor a child in a friend's name. A gift that keeps on giving.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Artist Spotlight




Born in Ethiopia, Yadesa Boja, also known as Yaddi, immigrated to the United States in 1995. Yaddi showed an interest in art since his early childhood. Even though he does not remember when he started painting, as a sixth grader his school commissioned him to paint a mural.
Yaddi’s first exposure and memories of art was as a child gazing at murals often found in Ethiopian Orthodox churches. These murals used line drawings filled with bold, vibrant colors.
Yaddi believes his work is a byproduct of the cultural diversity he enjoyed while living in Addis Ababa and Seattle. In his work he tries to capture the life of those who are ‘invisible’ to the mainstream, and he hopes that his work will become a tool for social change.

From top to bottom the respective names of the paintings are: Prisoners of Heaven, Worshippers & Dreamer.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

5




High five for today - 5 months on the waiting list and 5 months closer to Liv. Technically this means that any day I could be receiving a call as my adoption agency gave me a 3-5 month window to get a match. I do know however that it may several more weeks as there are still a group of families ahead of me. Nonetheless, exciting times. Also very happy that my parents are coming today to help me - once again (painting the house, chores, moral support). And it's a gorgeous day did I say that yet :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Inspired Times





I'm a huge fan of Seth's work check it out:
http://www.papertocanvas.com/

Another site that is truly inspired is Art of Obama website:
http://www.artofobama.com/




And Finally, although I could go on and on with all the art that has been created as a result Obama, This site is just fascinating - spend some time browsing through....
http://www.spellingchange.com/


Spelling Change was developed by a group of creative professionals to spread awareness and passion about the Obama campaign. Its goal is to encourage one-to-one communication by creating tools that help people get out the word on issues that are important to them.

Artists and designers were asked to create a letter of the alphabet inspired by the Obama campaign. These letters were then printed on t-shirts and distributed to photographers, who shot Obama supporters from all walks of life wearing them. The result is a living alphabet that shows the incredible breadth of Obama’s appeal and a widespread desire for real change in Washington.

Now, you can use this living alphabet to create emails, t-shirts, posters, bumper stickers, and postcards personalized with your own messages of hope and change. You can also design and upload your own letter, becoming part of a creative community fueled by a shared passion to change America from within.

How do you spell change?


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

OMG


Another graphic which describes exactly how I feel today (courtesy of my dear friend Kobie). I also want to point you to this link of amazing photos (since a picture says a thousand words): http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/11/the_next_president_of_the_unit.html

What a week! First celebrating Mimi, then celebrating Obama, tonight a rejuvenating evening with soul sista Lexi and so much anticipation in the air for the days to come. Here's what I love about life -just when you think everything will unfold in a predictable way, in a way that you've helped orchestrate via your own preparation and predictions -- it reveals itself in an even bigger way than you can imagine.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Simply Powerful

I am so proud to bring Liv home to a country where leadership is not dead where dreams can come true and where people unite when change is necessary and where one man can touch the spirit of of a nation.

Yes WE Can.

Obama will be the first African-American president
Barack Obama told supporters that "change has come to America," as he addressed the country for the first time as the president-elect. "The American people have spoken."

Monday, November 3, 2008

(updated) Fingers Crossed - WORKED


To see this amazing child go to www.2b3soon.blogspot.com
I am so thrilled I can't stand it. It feels so good to be an auntie!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The poetry of Perfect Timing

CHANNEL YOUR INNER POET

This entry is called:

The poetry of Perfect Timing


I am asking you for poetry submissions (via the comment section or email) that I may post.

Here's mine:

A collection of ribbon
colors varied, waiting
to be wrapped around a present
or tied in a child's hair
or be bundled around a bouquet
beautiful ribbon waiting
to be shaped and positioned
for a moment that is worthy
of unwrapping with this
beautiful ribbon

Monday, October 27, 2008

I want to be a DREAMER

Eleanor Roosevelt:
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Robert H. Schuller:
Build a dream and the dream will build you.

Carl Sandburg:
Nothing happens unless first a dream.

Henry David Thoreau:
Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.

Maya Angelou:
A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.

Kahlil Gibran:
To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to do.

Henry David Thoreau:
Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.

Albert Einstein:
When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Hitch your wagon to a star.

Vincent Van Gogh:
I dream my painting and then paint my dream.

John F. Kennedy:
The problems of this world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.

Charles Du Bos:
The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.

William Arthur Ward:
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.

Barack Obama:
Together our dreams can become one.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wonder & Love

As the time goes by, I feel more and more connected to the little spirit that will be soon introduced as my daughter. I'm officially in the "ok, you really could get a call soon" window (in case you didn't notice, there's a ticker on the left side of this blog that is monitoring my wait time). But because I know some of the families ahead of me in the "wait", I'm pretty sure it will be another month until the life changing introduction.  This wait time I'm so appreciative of because nothing can describe the power of this wait. It's a time of great emotion, vulnerability, intention, reflection, learning, curiosity, wonder and love. I'm falling in love with her and Ethiopia during this wait.

The beautiful photo (below) is shot by Andarge Asfaw in his new Ethiopia photography book called ETHIOPIA FROM THE HEART. When Andarge Asfaw returned to his childhood home, Ethiopia, he had not been there for 27 years. What he experienced and photographed upon his initial return pushed him to get more involved in environmental work, and to use photography as his tool of choice.

Asfaw attended Cornell University and he is a graduate of Hallmark Institute of Photography. His work has been highlighted by Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Esquire and The Washington Post. Through exhibiting and lecturing about “Ethiopia from the Heart”, I hope to build a community that will support my future efforts to facilitate environmental stewardship in Ethiopia and in everyone’s own backyard. The more recognition the book gets, the stronger the message becomes. Book sales fund tree-planting in Ethiopia through Greener Ethiopia and Trees for the Future.  This photo is called "Running through the Fields".


I also wanted to feature this amazing form of Ethiopian Art - video storytelling that I found on youtube called I AM FROM THE SKY.  I've never seen anything like this, beautiful.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Be Inspired



Denver, CO -- Yohannes Gebregeorgis, a native of Ethiopia and children's literacy advocate, has been named a Top 10 Hero of the Year by CNN. Mr. Gebregeorgis was selected from more than 3,000 individuals nominated by viewers throughout the year. Finalists were selected by a Blue Ribbon panel of judges that includes Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall and Deepak Chopra. The Top 10 Heroes will be recognized in CNN's "All-Star Tribute" to air on Thanksgiving.

Mr. Gebregeorgis was first recognized as a "hero" by CNN in May for his work championing children in Ethiopia. A former political refugee who worked as a librarian at San Francisco Public Library, Mr. Gebregeorgis is the co-founder of Ethiopia Reads, a non-profit organization that works to create a reading culture in Ethiopia by connecting children with books. In a country where 99% of schools have no libraries, Mr. Gebregeorgis and Ethiopia Reads are improving lives, one book at a time.


From October 12 to December 15, Mr. Gebregeorgis will visit cities across the United States, sharing his story and vision for Ethiopia Reads. Cities include Washington, DC; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Kansas City, KS; Denver, CO; Albuquerque, NM; Los Angeles, CA; Minneapolis, MN; and New York, NY. A complete itinerary follows.


ABOUT YOHANNES GEBREGEORGIS
Growing up in rural Ethiopia with very little access to books, Gebregeorgis was 19 years old the first time he picked up a book for pleasure. This experience went on to shape his life as a literacy advocate, children's book author, and co-founder of Ethiopia Reads, a non-profit organization based in Denver, CO and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Gebregeorgis came to the United States in 1983 seeking political asylum from the then-military dictatorship in Ethiopia. He worked as a hospital pharmacist and continued pursuing his education, earning a Bachelor's of Arts in journalism and English literature and a Master's degree in library science.

Later, as a children's librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, Gebregeorgis realized there were few books published in local Ethiopian languages. So he wrote Silly Mammo, the first bilingual Amharic-English children's book. He enlisted the support of acclaimed children's author, Jane Kurtz, who helped raise funds for the first printing. Ms. Kurtz is now President of the Ethiopia Reads Board of Directors.

In 2002, Gebregeorgis left his job in San Francisco and returned to Ethiopia. With 15,000 books donated by the San Francisco Children's Library, he opened a children's library on the first floor of his Addis Ababa home. The library was so deluged by children that it soon required the addition of two large tents.

Today, Shola Children's Library records an average of 60,000 visits per year. Additionally, Ethiopia Reads is planting libraries in public schools across Addis Ababa and Awassa at the rate of one per month. Ethiopia Reads has published six bi-lingual story books for children.

Gebregeorgis is the recipient of the 2008 Presidential Citation for International Innovation from the American Library Association, the first to receive this honor in its inaugural year.

Gebregeorgis lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he serves as the Executive Director of Ethiopia Reads.

love it


http://www.trunki.net/

Trunki was created by Rob Law, a young British designer. The award winning design was developed to prevent children carrying heavy bags and damaging their backs. Rob explains;

"I had an idea to utilise the wasted space found in ride-on toys, so designed a hard suitcase like shell that would be fun to ride yet also functioned as hand luggage."




Thursday, October 9, 2008

4 Months Closer to Liv!


Sweet sweet day
a reason to celebrate

souls touch souls
hopes waterfall
compassion connects
journeys imagined

lucky us to be
in this world.

Dedicated to Baby M, Heather & Chris


Ethiopian Children sitting in a row for a blessing.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lucky Us


So what's weird about this blog thing is that the majority of the time that I write, I forget that people are reading.  So to my surprise, I received a gift in the mail today that represented one of my blog entries and it literally blew me away.  
Presenting Suzanne, my lovely sister in law - a truly inspired individual.  She sent me a package of super duper cute clothes for Liv.  So adorable and generous and then I opened a box with a beautiful necklace.  I started reading the card and was completely overwhelmed by the thought and intention behind the gift.
She had a necklace made for me by her special friend base on my blog entry called Liv and Love.  This entry is about the connection I feel between Liv and my father.  Without sharing the entirety of the note, Suzanne so eloquently shared with me how perfect the necklace represented my mindset and inspiration with the 3 charms.  She honored Liv, my father, my all knowingness, Ethiopia's amazing culture and my intention to welcome Liv into this world.  
It's just beyond a major WOW and all I can say is that I'm so honored and grateful to feel so loved.  Thank you deeply.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

What's in a name?

So I'm approaching the 4 month mark of waiting for the call to introduce me to my daughter. Every day I feel closer to her.  I can only explain the feeling like a very long time ago we made a pledge to be together and it will come true soon.  As I think of her and who she'll be I am tickled with possibility.   Maybe she'll love stars, worms, drums, ribbon, pineapple, science, hamsters, etc...

In an earlier post, I explained why I picked the name Liv and it's meaning - a vow with God and all the other reasons I liked it. There's no doubt that names are ultra personal and people choose based on family, culture, meaning, sound, etc... Well, for fun, a friend pointed out this website that defines some one's personality based on the numerology of their name.  Here's what I got when I typed in Liv at http://www.paulsadowski.com/Numbers.asp

Thought, analysis, introspection, and seclusiveness are all characteristics of the expression number 7. The hallmark of the number 7 is a good mind, and especially good at searching out and finding the truth. You are so very capable of analyzing, judging and discriminating, that very little ever escapes your observation and deep understanding. You are the type of person that can really get involved in a search for wisdom or hidden truths, often becoming an authority on whatever it is your are focusing on. This can easily be of a technical or scientific nature, or it may be religious or occult, it matters very little, you pursue knowledge with the same sort of vigor. You can make a very fine teacher, or because of a natural inclination toward the spiritual, you may become deeply emerged in religious affairs or even psychic explorations. You tend to operate on a rather different wavelength, and many of your friends may not really know you very well. The positive aspects of the 7 expression are that you can be a true perfectionist in a very positive sense of the word. You are very logical, and usually employ a quite rational approach to most things you do. You can be so rational at times that you almost seem to lack emotion, and when you are faced with an emotional situation, you may have a bit of a problem coping with it. You have excellent capabilities to study and learn really deep and difficult subjects, and to search for hidden fundamentals. At full maturity you are likely to be a very peaceful and poised individual.

Here's what I get for Amy:
An Expression of 3 produces a quest for destiny with words along a variety of lines that may include writing, speaking, singing, acting or teaching; our entertainers, writers, litigators, teachers, salesmen, and composers. You also have the destiny to sell yourself or sell just about any product that comes along. You are imaginative in your presentation, and you may have creative talents in the arts, although these are more likely to be latent. You are an optimistic person that seems ever enthusiastic about life and living. You are friendly, loving and social, and people like you because you are charming and such a good conversationalist. Your ability to communicate may often inspire others. It is your role in life to inspire and motivate; to raise the spirits of those around you.

Hmmmmmmmmmm, we shall see...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Presenting Eyob


http://eyobartwork.com/

Eyob, is an Ethiopian American artist living in Sioux Falls.  

"Even at this time, my concept of art has come into in accordance with the laws of the inner force. The spiritual subject lives, has its own powers and actively modifies the spiritual atmosphere. Nonetheless, painting is not a pointless activity but a power that helps to refine the soul. Art is like daily bread for the soul. However the artist should have a message to convey. A message revolves to him by his inner voice which also accounts for the beauty of his work. Only that is beautiful."

A change is gonna come



This about sums it up!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

There's a lot swirling in this head of mine-top 10 list

yowza.  I'm making myself write tonight because I have a lot in me yet I feel kinda silent.  Every night I do my "Liv" exploring and research and each night I seem to get more aware of the magnitude of specialness this all is - and it's recently just let me feeling quiet.

I do want to express myself though as to fulfill my goal so that I remember everything I'm going through.  So onward with random thoughts and updates.

1.  Quick recap from the Ethiopian festival.  It was good, really good.  Wonderful, beautiful, diverse looking people crowded the Fairfax street and danced.  Contagious energy.  The dances were so amazing, shoulders jumping, necks turning, feet bouncing.  I loved it and I just stood in amazement so lucky to be joining this beautiful culture.  We also had an amazing dinner and talked to a very friendly merchant who befriended Chris and Heather last xmas.

2.  Heather and Chris have been matched with beautiful baby M and I'm so happy for them.  I look at her and think I get to be apart of her life and she will be a friend of Liv's and I feel so lucky.

3.  I'm starting my travel shots in the morning.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.  Not happy about this but part of the deal.  more to come on this.

4.  Look at this beautiful kid's clothing line  http://www.lemlem.com/about.html
/Lemlem n 1 hand made in Ethiopia from natural cotton.
/lem:lem v 2 [Amharic] bloom, flourish. 3 [history] Since ancient times in the land of the Queen of Sheba, the Ethiopian people have adorned themselves in beautiful hand woven and hand embroidered clothing. The hand spinning of cotton and intricate embroidery was the work of women while the hand weaving was done mainly by men. It is our wish to bring to you an incredible handwork and help preserve this ancient art form by creating opportunities for the Artisans.  Really amazing.

5. Amazing Ethiopian - Poet Laureate—Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin http://www.ethiopians.com/tsegaye/
is Ethiopia’s premier versatile and prolific man of letters. For half a century now he has been continuously productive as poet, playwright, essayist, social critic, philologist, historiographer, dramatist, synthesist, peace activist, artistic director...on matters national, continental and global. Even if he has yet to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, he has often been more appreciated and duly honored abroad than in his own land. Perhaps this is in keeping with that old Ethiopian saying to the effect that ‘a prophet is often not esteemed in his own country.’ In this day and age, when most of us have been preoccupied and indeed consumed by wars and rumors of wars in Ethiopia-Eritrea and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, it seems as though there is nothing else of positive value or of grave concern that deserves or commands the attention of Ethiopians. Today we shall take time out from violence and war and reflect on the life and works of Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin who is a living legend, a literary hero, and as one observer described him recently, Ethiopia’s “biblical sage”.

6. Jan Eleni Collage - LOVE THIS SO COOL.
LOVE and jan eleni inc are proud to introduce the jan eleni collage™ – an exclusive archival art piece of your child’s personal art, being offered exclusively thru LOVE.

Our unique archiving process starts off with collecting your child’s art and other paper treasures you may have collected over the years. We then edit all the pieces – carefully reviewing each one - to pull together a feel of the art. This beautiful, handcrafted piece is created using archival inks, papers, glues and boards - made to last a lifetime, if not longer.

Our end product is a professionally framed collage of little square-sized repro cards for you to treasure. A vast collection of art turned into one specialty piece of art. http://www.shopwithlove.net/ee/index.php?/love/calendarDetail/jan_eleni_collage/

7.  The universe aligns itself for my greater good.

8.  Prompted by Heather, getting California Closets out for an estimate for Liv's closet which is pretty much not functional in it's current state.

9.  Natalie reminds me to savor every moment, this time, the time in the future and just time in general.

10.  LOVE MY FRIENDS.  thank you to Alexis and Kristin.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Important Day


To remember when so many lives where changed.  To honor all those who lost or risked their lives.  To take a moment and pray for peace.

It's also an important day in Ethiopian Culture - It's Happy New Year, called Enkutatash -New Year, 11 September - This festival celebrates both the New Year and the Feast of John the Baptist at the end of the long rains in Spring, when the Highlands become covered in wild flowers. Children dressed in new clothes dance through the villages, distributing garlands and tiny paintings. In the evening every house lights a bonfire and there is singing and dancing.

My friend Heather also made me aware of a local street festival this weekend in Little Ethiopia on Fairfax.  This Sunday from noon -8pm.  Can't wait to check it out.  Sure wish bro was with me ;)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I'm in the Window

Today marks the day where my adoption agency has told me I enter the "window".  This means that historically, waiting parents, have received referrals within the 3-5 month window of waiting. Recently however, infant girl referrals from Ethiopia have been more around the 5 month mark.  Nonetheless, it's an exciting time as this marks a major milestone in the process.  So hold on to your cell phones, stay attached to you emails and send major prayers Liv's way as the next couple months will prove to be life changing.

I also want to send love and support to my dearest friends A & L going through a terribly hard time.  I love you so much.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Yeah to Joss



A job perk - working with people like this.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Run Run Run - Olympics

AND THE GOLD GOES TO - Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba



The fleet-footed duo from Ethiopia underlined their country’s domination of long-distance track running by claiming men’s and women’s 5000m and 10,000m doubles within a day of each other. Both won with consumate ease. Bekele became the first male athlete to do the double since another Ethiopian Miruts Yifter achieved the same feat in the boycotted 1980 Games in Moscow, while Dibaba’s accomplishment was a ground-breaker for the women. Ethiopia’s gold rush was a bitter blow to arch-rivals Kenya but the east African running power bounced back with first ever golds in the men’s marathon through Samuel Wanjiru and in the women’s 800 and 1500 metres through Pamela Jelimo and Nancy Jebet Langat.

Ethiopia's Olympic squad glitters with gold-medal winners

(BEIJING, July 15) -- The Ethiopian Olympic Committee (EOC) has unveiled a squad of 36 athletes bound for the Beijing Olympic Games, and the group glitters with gold medalists.

Kenenisa Bekele, 10,000-meter gold medalist at the Athens 2004 Olympiad, will be joined by countrymen Sileshi Sihine and Haile Gebrselassie in the same event at the this summer's Olympics in the Chinese capital.

Gebrselassie won gold medals in the 10,000-meter race at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. Sileshi Sihine was the 10,000-meter silver medallist at the Athens 2004 Games. Ethiopia's elite 10,000-meter race team hopes to capture all three podium places in Beijing.

On the women's side, two-time world 10,000-meter champion Tirunesh Dibaba, who won the bronze medal in the women's 5000-meter race at the Athens 2004 Games, might attempt an unprecedented double gold in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter competitions in Beijing, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations. She will be challenged by compatriot Meseret Defar, a 5,000-meter gold medalist in Athens in the 5000-meter event.

All 36 athletes on the Ethiopian Olympic team will compete in mid-distance and long-distance running events at the Beijing Games.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Words Matter

Back several months ago, I attended parenting classes. I remember part of the session being dedicated to "Languaging" and the impact that words have on children.  While there were many key learnings during class, this concept has really stuck with me as I understand and appreciate the power of words and how they can shape perceptions and define worth.  As part of a class assignment, we were asked to practice telling a classmate our child's story (where they came from and under what circumstances). Many of us were challenged as it became clear that communicating the realities of her story could come across as potentially shameful and confusing and as a result manifest into negative feelings about themselves, their birth families, their culture and their country.

There is no doubt that there is a crisis in Ethiopia that is resulting in extreme poverty, disease and orphans but there is also no doubt that Ethiopia is abundant in so many positive ways. I have learned this first hand by falling in love with the rich history, culture and art. So this idea of sharing my daughter's story stays with me and I think about it a lot.

Then yesterday, I came across the below post from a fellow blogger (& waiting mother) that made so much sense to me in regards to telling Ethiopia's story:

I think that if we are going to be the country's ambassadors, they (Ethiopians) want us to tell people that they are under incredible strain and fighting against difficult odds and our children are evidence of their effort and not their failure. I think they would rather that we talk about what the government and its citizens are doing to ensure the welfare of children and families. I think they want us to talk about the important impact that they have had on the rest of the world in art, sport, culture, song, and history. 

There is an old song by the Winans called Millions. The song says, "Millions didn't make it but I am one of the one's who did. I made it over. I came through hard trials and tribulations, persecution but I was one of the one's who did." I think they want us to say that for those who will not make it to the U.S.A our children carry their hopes, their strength, their resilience, and their faith. As long as our children live they will always represent the hope of what will come.

I thank Valkyrie for sharing her wisdom and completely agree and check out these beautiful Ethiopian hand woven baskets.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Congrats to my neighbors and friends

Pop open the champagne for Heather and Chris http://2b3soon.blogspot.com/
I'm so happy for them and lucky for myself that I live so close to them and get to be a part of their happiness.

I found this article and although it's a little long, I think it's fascinating.

Artists’ Groups of the 1990s:
Motivating Forces Behind Contemporary Ethiopian Art

In the 1990s, as Ethiopia began to shift out of the socialist period, a group movement of various artists began in Addis Ababa. The most important and active groups were Addis International, Dimension Group, Friendship Of Women Artists (FOWA), and Point Group. As demonstrated in their occasional shows, the technical dexterity, proficiency and artistic intent of many of these artists had never been seen in the history of the country. Even pioneers of modern art and Zemenay artists, modernists of the 1960s, had not attained these artists’ level of education. The founding members of these groups, particularly members of the most influential Dimension group — studied art both at home and abroad for several years. They are highly qualified cultural individuals and patriotic artists.

The themes these artists shared in common were their opposition to and rejection of painting styles prevalent in the 1980s and the frustrating conditions they faced in the country. None of the groups discussed at any time the relationship between ideology and art, and none sponsored any kind of aesthetic ideology. Nor did they show interest in developing a unified style; they opted to be eclectic, open-minded and multi-dimensional. Despite the fact that each member’s individual creative aim differed greatly, they were close-knit groups apprehensive about getting help and recognition from individuals, the public, cultural centers, institutions and the government. As both precursors and products of the social and critical realism art movements, these politically conscious artists, become the New Masters and motivating force behind contemporary Ethiopian art.

By the beginning of the 1990s, an art movement had emerged that in many of its manifestations displayed little or no consistency or accepted style. Few of the members found it difficult to go solo or to move beyond the platform of the group in order to reinstate the concept of the artist as a “solitary genius.” By the end of the decade, many influential artists of these groups had abandoned explicitly social and political subjects. For the most part, contemporary Ethiopian art dissociated itself from issue-based themes, with the exception of those exhibitions sponsored and initiated by foundations and organizations. Soon after, the ‘isms’ of 20th century art and the tradition of Zemenay artists — the formalist, symbolist, decorative, surrealistic and expressive kinds of art — had become the mainstream. The most established painters were less strongly influenced by the formal approach and the theory of the Zemenay than were their students, the younger-generation painters. By the beginning of 2000, many of these artists had consciously turned away from the wider national audience, due in part to the special influence of private cultural centers and partly to the attendance of urban elites.

The grouping movement of the 1990s did help individual members to be successful in their artistic commitments. However, collectively, their ambitious and challenging goals still remain up in the air. For example, the Friendship of Women Artists (FOWA) — whose main purpose was “to encourage and enhance the opportunities of underrepresented women artists of all ages and to promote Ethiopian women artists in any way possible, nationally as well as internationally” — has directly or indirectly contributed to the sudden increase and successes of women artists. But FOWA did not come even close to achieving its stated goals. The Point group whose “motive was not to foster an elitist attitude, with the indifferent multitudes lost in oblivion, but rather to impress and influence it without any mystification whatsoever,” did not keep its promise either. The Dimension group, which claims it was “formed to overcome an artistic trend that has been going on in Ethiopia for quite some time - with little or no regard for the standards of the art-loving public of Addis Ababa” has not really come up with a solution. Its annual exhibition caters to a specific type of audience and not necessarily to the art-loving public of Addis Ababa - Ethiopia. Although working in a country with a growing demand to learn about and from art, even their catalogues were written only in English language. Moreover, the artists have been preoccupied in arguing with critics who question the validity of their group’s origin. Even if these artists cannot fairly be criticized as being too elitist, ultimately many of their attempts on behalf of the art-loving public end up being fodder for nay-sayers who still associate art only with intellectuals and academia. It will not be a surprise if the next generation of artists continues to complain about the inability of the public to grasp and understand their art.

Despite the fact that all groups’ ideas reflect a sincere wish for profound changes in the visual art culture of the nation, there never was any real attempt by any of them to show their work to a bigger audience outside of Addis Ababa. No preparations for any kind of art publications were made, and none of the groups tried to form an alliance to link the many groups and individual artists. There was no attempt to create an association that promotes art and protects artists' social, legal and economic interests. There is no association that seeks to influence topical issues involving cultural policy, such as the nation’s art budget and the funding of art purchases by public entities in order to increase the public's interest in art. Most importantly, none of the groups attempted to create an association that is seriously needed to link Ethiopian artists closer with international artists’ networks, particularly African ones.

Their predecessors — the artists of the 1940s and 1960s, even with their limited freedom, education and opportunities — were ambitious enough to open art schools, to popularize modern art and art education and show a pioneering spirit. Even the student group of the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts in the 1960s and 1970s, the Young Artists group, and the Ethiopian Painters Association — , which of course was short-lived — worked with the intention to make modern art transparent and accessible to the public. Their genuine concern and long-held desire for art to flourish in the nation, and their striving to be a meaningful source of cultural empowerment for possibly social change gave these artists the chance to exert influence among younger generation artists and their supporters.

While there is no denying that the New Masters are proud of their predecessors and were able to infuse post-Derg art with fresh energy, they nevertheless did not succeed in addressing the problems and overcome the obstacles and the challenges their predecessors faced. Even after learning and seeing the global artistic change and crises, these artists are still very much surround and enchanted by the reputation of their predecessors’ accomplishments, great promise and artistic traditions. It appears that the formation of these groups was not based on life experience, traumatic imprints or even political and ideological influences during an important period in their artistic development, but rather by purely emotional involvement and passion. Unfortunately, passion alone is not enough to feed a cause.

Modern Ethiopian artists including these artists’ groups, are set apart from many other contemporary artists worldwide because, they all are full-time government or private employees and do not depend on the sales of their work for their livelihood and security. (Few early modern painters in the 1920s and 1930s and couple other Zemenay painters depended on the sales of their work for their survival.) Despite the fact that these groups possessed the quality and education levels of modern intellectual artists, as well as artistic freedom and opportunity, they did not play significant roles in winning the support of individuals or institutions — national patrons who could have promoted their art. Consequently, for lack of grants, gifts or contributions from individuals, the public or from the government, many of the groups disintegrated in less than 10 years.

The challenges facing Ethiopian artists are the challenges facing Ethiopian society. They are easy to identify, but are not that simple to resolve. These challenges did not suddenly appear unexpectedly — their roots are long and deep. The key factor that has defined Ethiopian artists in the 20th century has been bigger than art - it is Ethiopianness. Presently, visual artists hardly support themselves solely through their art and their pathetic survival condition is spurring many of the best and brightest new generation artists to exit the country and permanently reside abroad. In light of the postmodern art world uncertainty, and considering the kind of education and training artists receive, perhaps before long the essential contemporary question will be this: Should 21st century Ethiopian artists prioritize their survival and their creative futures above all else?

By: Esseye Medhin, January 14, 2007

Saturday, August 9, 2008

2 Months of Waiting!

In honor of 2 official months of being on the waitlist, I celebrate peace.  As Martin Luther King observed "True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice & harmony."
I'll take that as my goal as I approach this month and while the waiting has been fast and slow at the same time, I'm needing to make a major mental note to apply all the same attention to details to my house as my mind, spirit and soul.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that I've made some progress in terms of house logistics but I still have a ways to go with my insides ;) My goal is to simplify as much as possible with my schedule and responsibilities to that I can prepare and get the clarity needed.  Much change is around the corner and I need to be the change that I want out of the world  - right?!?

Thought for the Day - Stay away from:
Politics without Principle
Pleasure without Conscience
Wealth without Work
Knowledge without Character
Business without Morality
Science without Humanity
Worship without Sacrifice.
...Ghandi

Sunday, August 3, 2008

1st Annual Blog Union

Thanks to Drew and Carey and all the families who flew from around the states to come to Hermosa Beach.  I had a great time with mom, meeting and hearing all the individual stories.  I also am fortunate that there's about 7  families that live close to me that I will be able to share with through the years.  Seeing the little smiles made me feel happy and peaceful and clear and certain and hopeful and excited and lucky.  

For those of you who don't understand, one family who has and is adopting a second girl from Ethiopia decided to hold a weekend social for all "like" families that she has met while blogging online about her experience.  It has become fairly popular for people like myself to share their blogs and in turn become "pen pals" with other families.  Because of the strong interest to create community  and friendships many families decided to travel to spend a long weekend together.  It was really special and I feel very honored to be included in this group.  The head of my adoption agency even came with his family to show his support.  The experience was very touching but there were two children in particular that mom and I hit it off with.  Here's a pic so I will never forget how charismatic and charming they are.

The second wonderful thing about this weekend, is that in true Leon fashion Mom and Manuel worked their rears off getting my house together.  Manuel painted the outside and Mom helped me sort through closets to get rid of about 15 bags of "stuff".  So much was accomplished through organization and beautification.  I'm on my way...I think I can, I think I can...I think I can...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tadias.com

is a website focusing of Ethio-American culture - check it out.  Such a great site for stories like:

  • A special visitor from Ethiopia discovers Harlem in 1931
  • Ethiopian Monks maintain the only presence by black people in Jerusalem
  • Obama Team Hires Ethiopian-American Congressional Staffer
  • New Generation of Adopted Ethiopian-Americans
  • NYC art show for female Ethiopian runners
  • The Colors of Ethiopians: Where are you from?

The word Tadias is a popular casual greeting among Ethiopians. It means “hi,” “what’s up?” or “how are you?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hide and Seek...

sums up how I feel right now.

I had a great time at the John Mayer concert on Sunday, 7/27 (poppy's bday).  It was just perfect.  Also thank you to Lexi and Rain for the thoughtful "Luvbug" T-shirt and jacket.  It was really special to get baby ladybug clothes and on dad's bday.  Forever - Lexi is the most thoughtful person .  I am also so happy for the close friends in my life that have children and getting to share experiences with them.  Congrats to KB and the twins, LA and the twins, Yumi and her boys, Wendy and her boys, Becky and Jillibean and the Roy girls - it's just nice to be a part of it all.

I focus on the the goodness right now because this week has been one of those weeks where life feels like a lot, border line too much, mostly because I feel like I can't attack it how I want to or how I think I need to.  Because we all know that we can't control anything but our reaction, I continue to to consider ways to make things more bite size, sighhhhhh.  

It's a good thing that mom and manuel are coming this Thurs.  Not only will this make me feel like I'm managing better but I'm excited for an "Ethiopian adoption social" held near me at the beach.  I'm really excited to share and see the reality of so many families with their children.  It's easy to feel a little detached or in your own head about International Adoption because so few people understand the process and roller coaster of emotions that come with the territory.  So I'm grateful that this social is set up and it's basically in my backyard.  Will give you an update on this later.

Outside of getting my house ready (note - getting more quotes on central air and heat).  I have to start travel vaccinations as there are tons as well as continuing my education......


Ethiopian Language - Amharic:
Amharic is the national language of Ethiopia. It belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family which includes Arabic, Hebrew and Assyrian. Although other languages are spoken in Ethiopia Amharic is the most widely used and understood.

Pronunciation -
Most of the transliteration has been kept as close to English as possible. A few letters will differ:

e': as in the 'a' in ago
ai: like bait
ie: like pie
o': cross between the 'oa' in coat and 'au' in haul.
g: like the 'g' in Gweneth
kw: like 'q' in quick
ny: like the 'ni' in onion

Basics

Hello / Bye: teanaste'lle'n
Hello: tadiyass (informal)
How are you?: dehna neh? (m) / nesh (f) / nachu (pl)
I'm fine: dehna
See you: chow
Yes: awo
OK: e'shi
No (not true): ie
No (not there): yellem
Please: e'bake'h (m) / e'bake'sh (f) / e'bakachu (pl)
Thank you: amesege'nallo'
Excuse me: yike'rta
Sorry: aznallo'
My name is.: se'mea.no'
I don't understand: algebanye'm

Friday, July 11, 2008

Good News!

We are thrilled to share that MOWA has officially started processing cases again!

This is the email that many families have been waiting for for some time. I'm so happy that the process is back on track and congrats to all my friends who have been waiting. In the midst of this, I've been assigned a new caseworker and the agency has told us they are starting referrals today again. I'm expecting lots of families to get matches over the next week. But from what I can understand the Ethiopian courts can handle 10 cases per agency each week so there may been a little bit of a delay in this regard but still there is much to celebrate.

I am still 2 months away from entering my window so in the meantime I'm getting some tasks done around the house. It's all about preparing my house in the next couple months. Today I'm getting a new washer/dyer (yes get excited mom). I'm floored that there's a "baby wear" cycle on it. And a new dishwasher (so I don't have to wash 3 times before things are clean . And new laptop (and going wireless whopee). And I got blue tooth to follow the new cell phone/driving laws. Soon I'll be tackling a much needed electrical upgrade and central air/heat.

Just call me New and Improved

................................................................and broke (sigh).

But it's TGIF - One of my BFF's Sandro has been here the last week as he's helping at the LA office and as a fun treat we're going to Laguna tomorrow for the night to get some beach quality time. Life is really good.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wait Update (1 month)

It's been officially 1 month since I have been on the wait list (for those who haven't noticed I added a "ticker" to the left nav bar that keeps track). What typically happens is after 3-5 months of being on the wait list you move into the "window" which means at any time you could receive a call from your case worker sharing your baby's picture and information. This is called a referral or match. At that point, once you agree, they proceed with setting up a court date which can take up to 2 months. The agency represents you in court and if your case passes you typically schedule travel to pick up within the month. Of course this timeline is flexible and many things can impact extending it. For instance, there's the rainy season in Addis Ababa where the courts close from August to mid Sept. so no cases can happen during that time period. You may also be in a situation where the courts require multiple hearings based on your unique situation. The other factor that is coming into play is that my agency currently has a "freeze" placed on it because the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA - governing force over adoptions in Ethiopia) has ordered an investigation to look into improving the paperwork at one of the local orphanages. My agency is not under investigation but as a result referrals are not being given out until this is resolved. I have no doubt that this will end soon and that the process will resume as usual. This has been hard on many families especially some of those who are farther along than me. I just continue to believe it will work itself out and give prayer and celebrate 1 month down.

In honor or month 1, I am sharing info on the One Campaign - http://www.one.org/

ONE is Americans of all beliefs and every walk of life - united as ONE - to help make poverty history. We are a campaign of over 2.4 million people and growing from all 50 states and over 100 of America's most well-known and respected non-profit, advocacy and humanitarian organizations. As ONE, we are raising public awareness about the issues of global poverty, hunger, disease and efforts to fight such problems in the world's poorest countries. As ONE, we are asking our leaders to do more to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. ONE believes that allocating more of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the world's poorest countries.