A Different Kind of Easter Weekend

Many years ago when we lived in Ethiopia, one of our favorite outdoor activities was to drive to Awash National Park which is situated about 140 miles (225 km) South-East of  Addis Ababa. It was a wonderful break from work and activities in the city and provided true closeness to nature. We spent one memorable Easter weekend camping there so I thought I’d share a few memories at this time.

The landscape in the park was a fascinating mix of dry grasslands, acacia forests, mountains, hot springs and the Awash River with its spectacular waterfalls. The river is about 745 miles (1200 km) long and a part of it runs along the southern border of the national park. It connects several lakes and provides much-needed water to a wide variety of inhabitants in the park and much beyond.

It is interesting to note that, based on archeological findings, the Awash Valley has been inhabited by humans very early on, almost since the beginning of our existence. Much of the valley has been and still is the traditional home of the Afar people who are pastoralists, raising cattle, sheep and goats in the desert.

We met Afar people several times in the northern part of the park during our visits. They were often herding their cattle, just like this young boy.

Various species of antelopes (Oryx, Kudu, Gazelle and others) dominated the park’s wildlife which was concentrated in the southern part of the park, although we did also spot African wild dogs, hyenas and different kinds of baboons.

In addition, Awash is a bird watchers’ paradise with about 350 species of native birds, ranging from the great ostrich to Secretary Birds and Hornbills. During dinners on the terrace of the park’s small eatery, we would sometimes listen to groups of enthusiastic ornithologists exchange information on this and the other rare bird they had spotted that day.

The amount of water carried in the Awash River varies widely depending on the season. This is apparent not only in the huge variations of the river’s breath and water depth but also at the waterfalls, one of which is situated only a short drive from the camp grounds.

Ethiopia Awash River falls

While most of the wildlife was to be found in the southern part of the park, that is divided by the Addis Ababa – Dire Dawa highway, the northern part was famous for its hot springs.

Driving through very dry savannah one suddenly came upon a fresh, green oasis with bushes, palms and a variety of other tall trees.This was a beautiful place, nature at its best. But it was a particularly welcome sight also for another, more practical reason: there were no shower or other washing facilities at the camp grounds, and the Awash River was not considered safe to swim in.

After a hot and dusty day on the savannah and walking along the river, it was wonderful to jump into the clear blue warm water and actually swim! Seeing the hot springs again on these photos makes me want to jump right in!

This particular Easter weekend in the 1990s was celebrated in the temple of untouched nature – without any modern distractions or conveniences.  With this somewhat nostalgic trip down the Easter-time memory lane I wish all blogging friends, followers and visitors who celebrate Easter a very happy one! Peace.

1497 Words of Thanks!

I’ve been tardy in thanking for the many awards my blog has been nominated for so far in 2013. As for many of you, life tends to interfere. But here it comes – a big THANK YOU for the kindness so many blogging friends have extended to me and my tiny blog! I’m afraid this is going to be a very long post…so I wanted to be transparent from the start, but please keep reading because you may learn about some very interesting blogs that you have yet to discover.

I’m very honored to receive the prestigious HUG Award© from my friend and a beautiful human being, Tazein at http://transcendingbordersblog.wordpress.com/. Please go check out her inspiring blog where she nurtures hope in all its shapes and forms. Thank you Tazein!

The HUG Award© was initiated by Connie Wayne at  http://ahopefortoday.com, which promotes hope, love, peace, equality, and unity for all people. The HUG Award© is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they:  Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity; Hope for Joy and Happiness; Hope for Compassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith; Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation; Hope for Oneness.

The HUG Award© recognizes and honors those who help keep hope alive in our current world, which is plagued by war, natural disasters, and economic recession.  They nurture hope, in any of the above areas (in italics),  by the work they do, or in their personal lives with things such as blogging, public speaking, charity work, etc. You can find the guidelines for this special award at http://ahopefortoday.com/2012/01/14/hope-unites-globally-hug-award-guidelines/. These guidelines are more about eligibility, and nominating at least one other person – blogger or not – for the award, than about talking more about me. I like that.

Hope by tiny lessons blog

I would like to nominate six truly deserving bloggers for this special award. Three of them are educators. They all nurture hope in the young generation in their chosen vocation, and for everyone on their blogs. These blogs are quite different, but all of them are truly worth your visit!




The three other nominees are “advisors”. They nurture hope in the true sense of this award through the insights and wise, actionable advice they provide on their blogs – and in “real life”. If you are not already familiar with their blogs, please make sure to check them out!




Many hugs, thanks for spreading HOPE, and congratulations to the recipients of this award!  Please feel free to accept or to do nothing at all if you don’t have the time to respond or have decided not to accept awards.

In addition, my blog has been kindly nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Akanksha at http://akanksharastogi.wordpress.com – Sharing Thoughts and Insights. Please pay a visit to this interesting blog as well. Thank you so much Akanksha!

My friend Cyndi at http://healthyazblog.wordpress.com/ nominated me early in the year for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award and in late February for a Beautiful Blogger Award. What an honor, I am very thankful Cyndi!

Finally in late February I was tagged by Carolyn at http://abcofspiritalk.wordpress.com/.

Please make sure you visit her wonderful blog! This is a new and different game, the rules of which are:

1. Post these rules. 2. Post a photo of yourself and eleven random facts about you. 3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post. 4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them.5. Go to their blog/twitter and let them know they have been tagged.

In the hope that at least a few visitors would  read this entire post, I figured that by following these rules, I would also “comply” to a certain degree with the rules of the three other awards which all call for 7 facts about me and nomination of 15 others to receive these awards.

So here is a picture of me when I was about 17 years old. I still remember this HS senior year trip and how salty the sea water tasted when I brushed my teeth.

So here are 11 random facts about me – you can jump over this portion. Tiny is 5’7″; likes cooking low GI pasta dishes; wants to continue to grow as a person; sponsors kids in poor countries, loves the freedom of current consulting work; is an extrovert ENFP; is curious about people and cultures; likes singing & playing but doesn’t get to it very often; hates dishonesty and manipulation; has had many “downs” but more “ups” in life (or that’s how she remembers things); and has a hotline to her Creator.

Carolyn’s questions to her nominees were:

1. If life was ‘just a bowl of cherries’… which fruit would you rather be..? I’d be a strawberry, love the red color.

2. Who is your favourite singer? Oh, this is difficult as there are too many singers I really like, but let me say the singers in Playing for Change Movement (I know, they are far more than one, but check them out at  http://www.youtube.com/artist/playing-for-change)

3. Snow or Beach? Beach…I left the snow behind 2 years ago, but still do excursions to beautiful snowy landscapes.

4. Did you have a favourite toy when growing up? Did it have a name? Did you take it with you everywhere you went? No, not really. I had very few toys as a child. I liked to play “real life” with whatever was available….but I remember a little bird on wheels that I got when I was about 3 years old. And I remember two dolls. One was too nice and expensive to really play with, and the other was a knitted rag doll.

5. What are your favourite things to do on weekends? They are many, starting from some pampering like pedicures, meeting friends for great conversations over a good meal at home or out, small excursions, a good concert or movie, and connecting on the phone or Skype with family members in faraway lands.

6. Did you have a hobby when you were a kid? I sang and played guitar and I had pen pals all over the world.

7. Are you a sporty type, or more the studious type?  Maybe you are both…! Definitely more of the studious type, but try to balance with walks, swims and gym visits.

8. If you were in a raft in the middle of the ocean, who would you like for company? Probably my son. He’s fun, would figure out how we’d get outta there, has big biceps for paddling with a piece of drift wood, and I can trust him – he wouldn’t dump me to the sharks.

9. Do you keep your birthday cards? Yes, I try to keep the paper cards and hope people don’t go totally e on me…

10. Is life what you expected as a child? No and yes. No because I had expected to be a medical doctor, but the first part of that did not materialize because my mom’s untimely death of cancer at 39. This was just when I was starting college and the experience made me re-evaluate my choice. But yes in the sense that I feel I’ve been able to improve the lives of some people and as a bonus I’ve seen much of the world. My life has even been fuller than I could ever image as a child. And I’m very grateful for that.

11. Do you have a pet? Yes, I have a little poodle. He is very loving and sweet, a rescue dog. He’s getting old now (about 91 years in people time) and has become completely blind – he’s still the best companion ever!

My eleven questions to the bloggers I’m going to “tag” are:

1. Are you shy or outgoing? Please elaborate.

2. Is your glass half full or half empty most of the time?

3. Which do you enjoy most, city or country side?

4. What’s your most foolish or unnecessary purchase ever?

5. Who is your favorite writer and why?

6. What kind of music do you listen to most?

7. What makes you frustrated, if anything?

8. What are you most grateful for just now?

9. What place in the world would you like to see (for the first time or again) and why?

10. What does faith mean to you?

11. Why do you blog? What motivates you?

To comply with all the award rules, I should nominate or tag over 50 blogs…but I will limit it to 20 – selected among the many wonderful blogs I enjoy/follow and have not yet mentioned in this post. I hope you find some new ones among them.





















congratulations flower

Congratulations to all nominees! Please feel free to select to be tagged, to receive/accept one of the three Awards (Versatile Blogger, Beautiful Blogger, Very Inspiring Blogger), or to do nothing at all if you don’t have the time to respond or have decided not to accept awards.

Whatever you do

please feel appreciated

and keep up posting!

XOXO – Tiny

Which Stars Got Caught Kissing at the Oscars?

Life is full of “news” headlines like this one I encountered on MSN a few days after the Oscars – when the real news about films and performances had faded a bit. These kinds of headlines invite us to click, browse, listen, read or watch in order to indulge in some famous people’s love lives, fashion failures, baby news, jail trips, wild parties, ambulance rides, balloon rides, DUI arrests, incredible homes, posh vacations and sadly even the details of their deaths. Simply to partake in someone else’s private life through a continuous feed.

(photo credit: Creative Commons jdeeringdavis)

I would understand if the “celebrity news” were mostly about achievements. Telling the audience what someone famous actually did as a public persona. How they acted in a film, how they performed in a concert, what awards they received for their work, what kind of book they wrote, how remarkable results they achieved in sports, what political decisions they made (how rare is that nowadays?), how they helped to build houses for storm victims or organized a fund-raising event. Something of public interest whether in arts, sports, sciences or politics. And I’d even understand that celebrities will make fashion news for obvious reasons. But I observe that, unfortunately, the more serious news tend to drown in the chase for gossip. The private life of the “celebrity” seems to be in the focus much of the time, whether or not with the agreement or collaboration of the person concerned.

Some “celebrities” of course make a living just by staying in the gossip lime light because many of them don’t  have any artistic or other achievements to talk about. But this type of news-making must be frustrating to those famous people who’d rather see the news being about their achievements than about the outrageous hat they wore to a family dinner in a N.Y. restaurant or the make-up they didn’t wear to the grocery store this morning. And it gets even worse when their life is spread out publicly in intimate detail when they are going through difficult times or are recovering from a tragedy. Vultures come to mind.

I have sometimes wondered how the term “celebrity” (\sə-ˈle-brə-tē\) first came to be used already far back in the 14th century. I guess these early “celebrities” were kings and queens, painters, composers, playwrights and actors, and that their sometimes wild private lives were subject to lively gossip and whispers in certain social circles. Ordinary folks probably didn’t have the appetite nor the time for or access to these early “celebrity news”. But then things evolved and times changed. And after a few centuries along came the cinema, the television and the internet. More celebrities were born and everyone had access to them.

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Today, the fascination with the celebrities’ private lives provides for a flourishing, lucrative business. But why is that? What drives the demand for this kind of gossip and speculation? Are these people considered by others as role models in their private lives?  As having the best recipes for a happy life and a successful marriage? Or just the opposite? Have they become subjects of worship or envy because they tend to accumulate, and occasionally lose, money and other coveted belongings? Or do these stories just provide the necessary proof to “non-celebrities”  (antonym) that everybody actually has a life full of ups and downs and that eventually we all get older, and finally depart from here empty-handed? Or is it simply so sad that many consumers of this kind of celebrity news need to spice up their lives with someone else’s experiences in all their shiny or gory details, to add excitement and feed curiosity? Just wondering. The psychology of this frenzy seems to be quite complex and intriguing.

I hope that more people would take the time to focus on being fully present in their own lives. But in the meantime, I will need to get to a chore I’ve been planning of doing for some time now – to customise all my home pages a bit more so that I get the news I actually want to read, without being bombarded by rumors, speculation and gossip.

What do you think helps feed the paparazzi?

Life Plan

car on the map 2

You are my coach.

Everyone has a coach. One cannot get ahead otherwise. You will tell me what to do. Give me a plan for life. The steps and turns. Straightforward and easy. One, two, three. I can use a plan.

Instead you ask me what I want. I say everything. Like everyone else. You say, that means nothing.

You are my coach.

Everyone with everything has a coach. One cannot become somebody otherwise. Now give me a usable plan for life. The moves and spins. Effortless and clear. One, two, three. I can follow a plan.

Instead you ask me where I want to go. I say everywhere. Like everyone else. You say, that means going nowhere.

You are my coach.

Everyone who’s been everywhere has a coach. One cannot reach the top otherwise. Now give me a usable and complete plan for life. The dos and don’ts. Plain and simple. One, two, three. I can execute a plan.

Instead you ask me what my goals are. I say all of it. Like everyone else. You say, that means you have no goals.

You were my coach.