The Toughest Job …

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Last week I joined 4 other Return Peace Corps Volunteers on a panel to share our experience, along with a few words of support and encouragement, to prospective volunteers. It was during that time that I was reminded of how much of an amazing experience serving as a volunteer was. I’d like to use this week’s post as a recap.

My experience as a Peace Corps volunteer:

  •    was the most challenging and the most rewarding 27 months of my life
  •    allowed me to view America and Americans through a different lens
  •     helped me to gain an appreciation of cultural awareness and appreciation that no class could ever teach me
  •    afforded me an opportunity to SERIOUSLY nurture my love for reading; I read more books during my time      there than I have ever done in twice and maybe three times that same time span here in the US
  •    assisted me in (re) learning the value or community
  •    taught me the value of communal living and modesty — in both dress and living
  •    enhanced my maturity by leaps and bounds … I often compare 2 years of Peace Corps to 10 years state—side
  •    gave me an appreciation for bucket baths under the stars, daily market visits to buy fresh fruit, veggies and fish and time spans with no electricity
  •    exposed me to people — some of whom became lifelong friends — and places that I will never forget for the rest of my life
  •    … truly was the toughest job I will EVER love. I’m so thankful for my Peace Corps experience!

Obviously people travel and live abroad every day, but I stand by my affirmation that there is NO other experience quite like living in the community, learning the language, eating the food of your host family for 2+ years. To me, very few experiences compare to VOLUNTEERING to live without many of the conveniences of life here in the US. For me, Peace Corps was a life-changing experience that has cultivated the way I now view myself, America, The Gambia and so much of the world. How far are you willing to go???

Show Me a Sign …

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Photo: Outside Jewish History Museum, Cape Town 

Over the last week or so the subject of “signs” has come up quite often. Last Sunday while in church, my pastor talked about signs. I am going to substitute one of his words, but he basically said that signs follow [spiritually connected] people, not the other way around.

Last week I spent some time in New Orleans celebrating my birthday. On Friday during a historical tour, the tour guide drove us through some neighborhoods that are still rebuilding 7 years post
Hurricane Katrina. On a few sidewalks there were markings — signs — of where the water levels rose. And on too many homes, the signs spray painted outside indicated that the home had been inspected and the number of bodies found inside.

On Sunday, I was subbing for another teacher in Sunday School and once again the topic of signs came up. The class affirmed that when God is trying to tell us something, move us some place, and get us to change direction we receive signs. And often times more signs follow once we’ve made the right decision.

Signs. Signs all around us. Signs following us. Signs reminding us. Signs guiding and affirming us.

And then there’s me … having a battle of my own on the inside. About 3 months ago I began struggling with a particular matter. I do believe signs were all around me: physical and spiritual. The signs were keeping me from falling asleep and waking me up in the middle of the night. The signs were pounding on my heart and nudging at my soul. One after another, in various forms, were signs. So why — may I ask — does my prayer remain show me a sign?

Inside A Beautiful Mind: With Sabrina Cherry

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Inside A Beautiful Mind: With Sabrina Cherry.

It’s My (Re) Birthday !!!

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Photo: Cozumel, Mexico, Day Excursion ~ View from Pedal Boat

When writing my previous posts, I’ve tried to stick with the theme of allowing some of my favorite photos to choose me and I willingly submit by writing a post based on the essence of what I see in the picture. But this week, I intentionally sought out a photo from my collection that represents all that I am feeling. So here we go …

My birthday is just three days away — yeaaa!!!! I am so excited and so thankful to be blessed to see another year. I am thankful for all the experiences I’ve had thus far and genuinely excited about all that is to come — which I believe is pretty amazing! While celebrating, I also find myself in a bit of a conundrum with so many challenging events occurring at the same time.

The ocean: clear, beautiful, calm. If you were there, you’d also know that I could look over my pedal boat and see every living creature because the water is so clear. This photo represents all that I am feeling right now. I see myself in a beautiful place in life — a place of renewal and revitalization. I am back on track with ambitiously — but intentionally — involving myself in things that I am passionate about. I am still discovering new things about myself and the world. I am excited about possibilities again. And even though the surface excites me, upon deeper inspection I know there is so much more — more to come, more to me, more to see, more to experience.

The house: There is a beautiful home in the distance; I can’t make out all the details, but I know it’s not too shabby :—).  In spite of how much I revere where I currently find myself, a feeling deep inside tells me that the best is still yet to come. I can only see a glimpse of what that is, but I know its there. I just have to keep peddling to get to my destinations.

The unseen: What you can’t see or decipher is that there was rain off and on this entire day that we spent at the beach. The sky would open up for 20 or 30 minutes and then it would look like this again. Currently, I am in a wonderful space, but not without storms. There seem to be spontaneous bursts of rain — so to speak.  Many blessings and heartaches upon me all at the same time or following each other closely. Much to see and so much more than is unseen.

On this day at the beach, I enjoyed everything I could. I took in all the sites, ate good food, listened to wonderful music, and read a book. I took refuge during the rain and was not fearful to come out again when it stopped. I acknowledged that without the rain, the sunshine just wouldn’t be quite the same. That is exactly what I plan to do in this season of my life. Happy birthday to me!

Mini Indulgences

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Mini Indulgences.

Many Mountains to Climb

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Many Mountains to Climb.

Mini Indulgences

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Photo: Hartness House Bed & Breakfast, Springfield VT 

A few years ago I remember a friend telling me that she had a date night with herself once a week. She’d have a great glass of wine, paint her toenails, read a great book, wash her hair or just veg out. I loved the concept so I started having – insert drum roll here – a date night with myself! It was my time to refresh, replenish or just relax after a long week. I didn’t invite anyone over or along for the date. Just me, myself and I. To add to my self indulgence, one of my cousins coined the phrase “out with myself” vs. “by myself.” 

But time gets away, things happen and we change. Fast forward a few years and I can’t remember the last time I had an intentional date night with myself. Last week I found myself running – figuratively and literally – from one thing to the next. I realized that I’d forgotten about one of life’s most precious indulgences: time with me!

I’ve turned over a new leaf and moving forward I want to spend more time with me. More time reading great books. More time having an occasional dinner WITH myself. It’s such a mini indulgence – such a seemingly simple thing to do. But why don’t we commit to doing it more often? Most recently I met someone who told me she does not like to be alone or do things alone? Have we become afraid of our own inner voice? Our own presence?

Do you ever do things with yourself? Does that sound strange to say? What would need to happen for you to make more time for you? Can you commit to once a week or a month? What special thing will you do for yourself with yourself? 

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