Tuesday, April 22, 2014

One more week

It's starting to feel very real that I'll be leaving Tacloban this time next Tuesday. It's crazy how quickly and slowly the time has passed at the same time. A whole bunch of colleagues have come down from Manila, and I haven't seen one of them since the last time he came...I would have thought it was two months ago, but it turns out it was four! Madness.

I had a debriefing with our response manager yesterday, and we talked through how the response has gone, the major challenges and major accomplishments. Seeing as I'd already spent three weeks in Cebu at the very start of the response before he'd arrived, I really struggled to remember what life was like in the days before Tacloban. But it didn't take long to remember the 17 hour days cooped up inside a hotel conference room, the fun I had hiding as many song titles as possible in situation reports (because I'm a professional....) and the camaraderie that forms so quickly when you spent so much time with motivated people.

In remembering my first days in Tacloban, I can't help but smile at the enthusiasm we had in over 100 volunteers who were distributing hygiene kits and managing huge cash for work and rice seed distribution projects, though still recovering from the typhoon themselves. We managed to recruit and retain most of these volunteers who are now working at a range of levels, developing new skills, and amazingly, retain the same sense of enthusiasm and excitement almost six months down the line. This is without a doubt the most inspiring office (ballroom) I've ever worked in.

And of course, it's been an opportunity to catch up with other international staff I've worked with before, and make new friends as well. I really learned a lot from our programme manager who was here for four months, he placed a lot of confidence in me and gave me the room to find my feet in management and also engaged me in areas outside my remit for my own development.

There has been a lot of stress, a lot of pressure and a lot of frustration, but there has also been a LOT of success, accomplishment, fun, friendship and karaoke (I think we've also done a lot to support the San Miguel corporation...). As my position has been made redundant this will be my last deployment with my current organisation, and I'm so glad to go out on such a high!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Birthday Jules!!!

It seems ridiculous to me that it was about this time two years ago that Jules and I went to Japan to celebrate her birthday...time really does fly! Anyways, today's Julie's birthday and I just wanted to give her a special shout out as she's one of the best friends a girl could ever want or need!

Happy birthday Jules!!!!

Get Happy

I don't know how I came across the 100 Happy Days website, where people are challenged to photograph something  that makes them happy every day for 100 days. The website says that people who successfully finish the challenge claimed to:
- start noticing what makes them happy every day
- be in a better mood every day
- start receiving more compliments from other people
- realise how lucky they are to have the life they have
- become more optimistic
- fall in love during the challenge

which are all pretty wonderful things. I know I have a pretty cool life, but there are many days where I seem to focus on the negative rather than the positive, even though I would consider myself to be an positive optimist most of the time. So I've started the challenge on instagram (chasingcarly), you can find my photos using #HappyCarly100. Today is Day 3 for me, and though there's only one photograph for the day (I skyped Jules for her birthday, she always makes me happy!) it's already been a happy day in so many ways (like launching a really exciting project to train women carpenters, and booking my holiday to NYC!).

And in case you haven't seen this video, not only will the song make you happy, but the incredible spirit of the Filipinos will have you smiling as well!

Thursday, March 27, 2014


It feels a bit ridiculous to say that this week has been a busy week; all of my weeks here have been busy weeks! But it's getting harder and harder to find the time to do the things I actually need to do for the 4 teams I manage. I seem to be constantly caught up in a cycle of organising donor visits, NGO coordination meetings (organising them, as well as leading them!) and media trips, instead of providing the shelter team with assistance in documenting their innovative consultation approach, or helping the Gender team draft an MoU for a relationship with a local government unit, or any number of other important things. Le sigh.

Added on to the stress of just trying to do my job, there are other HR processes that are affecting me at the moment which is starting to drive me crazy.

But amongst all of that there is light at the end of the tunnel (and no, it's not a train!) in planning a spectacular holiday to the states to witness my dear friend Yassmin (long time readers will remember her starring role in our instructional video...) get married, which will also a bit reunion with other folks from our days in Lebanon.And after the celebrations are over, I'll head to NYC to meet up with Jez and do fun NYC things, like see a show on Broadway, go to a baseball game, eat fantastic food and just wander around.

So while I may be crazy busy, and going a bit crazy, it's good to have something to get crazy excited about!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad!!

Happy birthday Dad, I'm sure you're having a lovely day because you're not on skype for me to call you!! xoxo

Adventures with Emma

Of course Emma and I did other things in Bali. Like shopping at Portobello
 spending a lot of time beside the beautiful pool
 eating lunch (and sometimes brunch) every day at Casa Luna
doing some more shopping
and more lunching
 basically feeling very relaxed and pleased with ourselves
 being blown away every time we went into our bathroom!
 And marvelling at the beauty of the Monkey Forest.
If you're planning a visit to Bali, I can't recommend Honeymoon Guesthouse highly enough. For the price you pay (which isn't a lot) it's extremely beautiful, located centrally and the staff are lovely.

I left Tacloban on Thursday morning to fly to Manila, then to KL and finally arrived in Ubud at 4am on Friday. The following Tuesday it was back to Denpasar, to KL and overnight in Manila, arriving in Taloban on Wednesday at midday. Honestly, by the time 6pm rolled around that day it was like I'd never been away...I'm still catching up on emails. But it was very, very needed, and very very worth it!!

Monkeying Around

I went to Bali for a too short break with Emma. We went a few years ago on R&R from Pakistan, and it was lovely to go back to Ubud where it's so lush and green and quiet (mostly). Last time my body shut down after 3 months of intense work and I was mostly bedridden with fever and didn't do too much. This time I was fighting fit and we enjoyed wandering around the Monkey Forest, which was way larger than I'd been expecting, with a lot more monkeys as well. 

Super cute!!