Dear Ethiopia

world globe

Dear Ethiopia,

You stole my husband’s heart first. He’s a man of many passions, the deepest of which is an innermost desire to leave tiny fingerprints on the hearts of everyone he meets – even those he has not. Ken isn’t in the business of grand gestures – instead, he slowly betters the world around him with small acts of kindness. A mowed lawn here, a handwritten note there. A steady and consistent stream of love and service until you wake up one morning and realize that you are a better person having known him. So really, Ethiopia, I’m not at all surprised he’s fallen in love with you – a country of kind and beautiful individuals braided with resilience and grace, woven with strength and joy.

And now, here I am, a few days away from visiting your great nation. I’m organizing toiletries and folding jeans and packing my suitcase, but inside, my heart is reeling. I’m a teenager prepping for a first date – a date that I have a feeling might be a monumental one. What shoes do you bring to fall head over heels in? What raincoat can protect you from the outpouring of emotion?

My experiment with slow blogging this year has changed me to the core. Stepping back to gain perspective and experience our world in a less frenzied fashion has meant that I’m experiencing my emotions in a similar way. There is built-in time for simmering and stewing and bubbling over, no longer covered by the lid of “More!” and “Now!” and “Hurry!” My time is no longer filled researching products to buy and lifestyles to emulate, and instead, I find myself daydreaming about joy. About the simpler pleasures that make me happiest, about the people who bring me joy.

I have a feeling you’re going to make the very tip-top of that list, Ethiopia.

I’m visiting you with a group of wonderful, inspired ladies (and one-of-a-kind, amazing lone dude), and in one of our recent calls, The Lone Dude explained that he subscribes to a very specific theory: I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me. And isn’t that the truth, Ethiopia? I feel guilty when I think about all the valuable lessons you’ll be sharing with me – how joy overcomes circumstance. How resilient a human spirit can be. How we can choose to be happy, to love with our hearts and smile with our souls.

It’s funny to write all of these things on a design blog, but then again, it’s not. You have designed your lives precisely as they’re intended to be: simply, beautifully and filled to the brim with overflowing love.

Teach me your ways, Ethiopia. I’ll see you in a bit.



p.s. To learn more about what we’re doing in Ethiopia, follow our adventures here. And you can bet your britches I’ll be updating you here, here and here. More to come.

  • Sounds like you have quite the experience ahead of (and behind) you. Thank you for sharing it with us in bite-sized pieces. Safe travels and enjoy! xo

  • AHHH! Bon voyage E! So excited for you, and so grateful that you’re sharing your journey (both to Ethiopia and in life!) with all of us.

  • I’ve been all over Africa in the last couple years for work, and Ethiopians are the most hospitable, generous, gorgeous and warm people I’ve met. Plus the coffee, ohhh, the coffee!! I’m scrambling to find a way to get back soon! Best wishes for a safe and magical journey yourself.

    • Ah, thank you so much for sharing this, Jess!!!!! I’ve heard such lovely things, so I’m thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to see for myself. :)

  • Godspeed, sweet friend. You will love this magical country.

    (Also, I beg to differ about your husband not being in the business of grand gestures — within seconds of meeting him, he demanded a hug. He’s straight-up, grand-gesture-lovely.)


  • Very eloquently stated, Erin. I had very similar feelings about visiting India and I can say it was one of the top five experiences of my life. It’s been 11 years but my time there continues to bless me. Bon Voyage!

  • You’ll love this country- my second home. I split my time between Addis and the States and am in Ethiopia until mid September (I run programming for HIV+ families and vulnerable children). Let me know if you need a y insider or packing tips or just someone to meet up with for a macchiato (the drink of choice here).

    • OMG I love hearing this, Eleanor – thank you for your kind words and for reaching out! We don’t have a lot of free time on this trip, but I know I’ll be back in the future and would love a macchiato! :)

  • I like what u wrote about us, I hope you feel the same once you are here!! Hope u have fun, really !!

    • Ah, thank you, Dagy!! I’m so excited to be officially introduced to your beautiful country. Thank you for writing! :)

  • I wish you the safest and most heart-opening of travels, Erin. My perspective has changed for the better for knowing and working with you. Just imagine how many new friends will experience your unique impact on this adventure.

    • Ah, this is the kindest note, Britt. Thank you so much for your encouragement and support and kindness – I can’t wait to share all about this adventure with you when I return! :)

  • Travel makes us whole – and changes us forever leaving marks on our hearts. I can’t wait to see what words and pictures you bring back. Safe journey.

  • Beautiful, beautiful. Safe journey; all the people you have yet to meet in Ethiopia are waiting to meet you. :)

  • What a beautiful, well-written post! Nothing lifts the spirit and fills the soul like a trip to a far off place, discovering new cultures and meeting new people. May Ethiopia bring you everything you hope for and so much more. Bon voyage!

  • What a wondrous love letter in advance of your trip. Safe travels. Consider, from a spiritual standpoint, what you’ll bring home, but also what you can leave behind.

  • So very excited for you. Ethiopia is magical. It’s people. It’s culture. Sending you big hugs on a wonderful trip.

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