Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Love

You know you’re in for a ride when the book you’re reading opens the second chapter with this quote: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you really think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt.

Wow. I’m equal parts inspired and intimidated. I can imagine using the above quote in one of the latter chapters when, as a reader, I’m totally fired up, believing I can do anything and ready to change the world. But, nope. This introduces us to the second chapter, which makes me wonder just where the author is going to take me. Good lord, woman, I’m already challenged by your intelligence, your vision and your confidence! Where to from here?

It’s taken from the book, The Blue Sweater, which I bought after wanting to find out more about how microfinancing businesses in developing countries appears to be more effective than charity in relieving poverty. It makes sense in the “give a woman a fish/teach a woman to fish” kind of way.

The book details the various experiences that lead the author, Jacqueline Novogratz, to form Acumen Fund, a nonprofit that identifies micro-businesses that not only help pull the entrepreneur from poverty but assists their community in a long term, sustainable way.

Currently she has just landed in Nairobi, where she will be working for a bank as an ambassador to African women, helping to create structures so that women with business ideas can get access to loans. Unfortunately, many of the African women she will be working alongside are annoyed that the position has been taken by a white woman, not an African woman, which is understandable. In conjunction, Novogratz has been given little idea as to what her job will actually involve, so she is mentally preparing to roll up her sleeves, work hard and, in doing so, hopefully win favour within the community.

I’m only at the start of her journey and Novogratz has already eclipsed anything far beyond what I’ve done or could imagine doing. Good thing I’m reading this while sipping tea and nibbling chocolate in between naps on a Sunday afternoon. I wouldn’t want to be taken completely out of my comfort zone after all!


This is what a balcony garden looks like in Bondi; small, cramped, barely enough sun but full of potential deliciousness.

My plants really only get about 4-5 hours of direct sunlight, so it will be interesting to see if the strawberries and tomatoes actually fruit. So far I have a few flowers.

It looks like the strawberries may fruit, but I’m not sure about the tomatoes. It’s a bit of an experiment.

Nonetheless, if it doesn’t work out, I’ve always got my pansies (I think) and Rampagin’ Roy Slavin kangaroo paw to keep things looking purty.

Battling the post-holidays blues

Lucky me was sent to Rotorua for work and for four days I woke up to this stunning view, but now I think a bit of post-holidays blues have set in. I’m considering using this as my computer wallpaper, but in doing so I may run the risk of making myself even more blue!

I really do wish I was back in Rotorua, looking out to Mokoia Island, sipping tea and kicking back with a great book.

Incidentally, this book just arrived from Amazon. I’ve only read the first chapter but I’m hooked. I was inspired to buy it after reading this article in the NYTimes and wanting to know more about alternatives to charity work. I want to find out what really works. Once this book arrives, I should be a little more educated.

Mum always said, if you’re feeling depressed, do something for someone else and you’ll feel a little better. This is my slightly ammended version: reading about better ways to help others will help me get over my post-holiday come down. :)