The Gift That Keeps On Giving…

The Christmas tree that was once laden with ornaments no longer adorns the living room.  The carefully wrapped gifts are opened.  The thank you notes are written (hopefully!).  Christmas Day 2011 and the gifts traditionally given are now memories.

Many years at Christmas-time I worry that my girls will not remember all of the gifts that they receive because the day becomes a mass of activity and a resulting blur…This year was different.  This year, Matt’s parents gave all of us a gift that keeps on giving.

One of the rural airports that we flew out of...No air traffic control, no security, and a dirt runway.

Our family traveled to Kenya on a safari for Christmas.  This trip marked the first major family vacation in the almost 16 years that Matt and I have been married.  Worry about leaving my animals and my business for a significant period of time, worry about taking my children half way across the world, and worry about the safety and logistics of the trip all plagued me in the days prior to our departure.  I remember having a phone conversation with my mom a couple of days before we left where my stress-laden voice cried, “Is it worth all of this work just to go on vacation? It would be easier to just stay home!”.

This is my comfort zone...

I am a home-body.  I am comfortable in my world that consists of my family, my farm, and my town.  I am a creature of habit and normal routines are important to me.  While this trait is very helpful when managing a cattle feed yard where the animals need constant and consistent daily care; the down side is that I tend to develop a tendency toward tunnel vision.

When I think back on all of the gifts that I have been given over the years, it is the gifts that bring me additional knowledge and perspective that I cherish the most.  My life is a series of experiences, and each one has played a huge role in making me the person that I am.  From my background in competitive athletes, to my education at Dartmouth College, to my years of learning to care for animals and run a business-I am certainly a different person today than I was twenty years ago.  While I am very proud of the person that I have become, I also recognize that in order to benefit from continual growth that sometimes I need to go outside of my comfort zone.

In order to think outside of the box, I have to go outside of the box…

Straddling the equator--half on the Northern Hemisphere and half on the Southern Hemisphere...

The trip was absolutely amazing.  The culture and the animals both fascinated and captivated the psychologist and animal lover in me.  I filled half of a journal with notes and asked thousands of questions.  I am planning to write a series of posts to share my experiences and insights: agriculture, food and culture, and the beautiful and wild animals that call Kenya home…Perhaps by reading my posts your knowledge and perspective will be broadened just as mine was.  After all, it is not every day that a Feed Yard Foodie goes to Africa!

Perhaps my perspective is skewed, but there appears to be a cheetah on the top of the jeep that my two younger girls are traveling in... That can not be possible, can it?


Filed under Family, Foodie Fun!

7 responses to “The Gift That Keeps On Giving…

  1. Dawn

    What a super gift! I too, am a homebody, happiest on my farm with my family. Sometimes I think, wouldn’t that be a great trip, experience, etc.; but without a push I would never step out of my box. Good for you! I am waiting anxiously to hear about your trip. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. Bill

    You sure nailed the ‘homebody’ part on the head. You are such a creature of habit. I’m sure it has something to do with all that pursuit of excellence stuff you ate as an athlete. I can see Matt pulling you by your hair to Kenya, too. (If not physically, certainly mentally.) Fortunately, one of your other gifts is superior adaptability, which is why you had fun. Good post.

  3. Wow, what a neat opportunity! I can’t wait to see the blogs about your trip.

    I too am a home-body. I want to go out and see the rest of the world and enjoy when I step out of my box. You are right we must look beyond our comfort zone to grow and become better people.

    I agree with you … it is a lot of work to get ready to leave the farm!

  4. I was lucky to go on a pilot trip for a missionaries wanting to take college students to Africa while I was still in high shool. It was one of the best experiences of my life. It’s crazy to be thrown into a world you only see on t.v.! Your girls are so lucky to have this experience at such a young age!


  5. Jim Tomek


    look forward to hearing about Africa thru your blogs.

    Welcome back to the states.

  6. Carol

    Hi, Anne,
    I’m catching up. I neglected to comment on what an excellent and mature essay Megan wrote last time. She has a well thought out perspective and expressed it quite well. I forwarded it to Thad so that Tehya could read it as well.
    I’m also anxious to read more about your trip to Africa. It is hard to make all of the arrangements to be sure everything is taken care of for a trip like that! I’m sure it was well worth it, though.
    I saw you on TV last night (NTV). Interesting that this should come up just after you did that series on the safety of the antibiotics used on cattle. I suspected that you may not have been able to say all that you wanted to in that brief TV clip.

    • Thank you Carol! I will tell Megan. You are correct–I had much more to say to the newscaster than what was put on the TV. We actually visited for almost a half hour. I think that the news cast was less than two minutes and my segment was under a minute.

      Thanks for noticing!

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