Thursday, June 28, 2012

More Rwanda Thoughts

I finally got my police clearance and finished my application process. Upon entering in the final information, I got an email from my coordinator with a link to the online journal. I was so excited because I have been wanting to read about some experiences of people who've gone to Rwanda. As I read about stories of people getting sick, bus rides, etc, and the reality of what I'm doing started to hit me.

I know that this is going to be a life changing experience but I realize that it's going to be very hard. One of the entries talked about how the babies in the orphanage just hang on you because they need attention. They want love and affection and they will follow you around. Another entry was about the "mothers" disciplining the children and it sounded harsh! I'm not there to judge and I'm not going to be there for any amount of time to change, so I am going to have to keep an open mind and an open heart. I love kids, and I think I'm pretty good with them. Newborn babies, not so much, but 2 and above, I get better. But the idea that these little babies are going to be attention starved sounds rewarding but draining. In reality, I know that I'm going to have to give a whole lot of love and a lot of effort and time and I think it's going to be very demanding. It's not going to be super comfortable considering there's no hot water, and sometimes we might have to take bucket showers. I'm nervous about the food simply because I don't want to get sick. I have an iron stomach when it comes to eating food (well, home made foods - greasy restaurant food will tear me up) but I mean, if I eat some kind  of funky bacteria, there's not much I can do.

So - this is going to be a time where I just have to pray. I think I'm going to be asking God for lots of help with this because it's beyond me. It seems like it's beyond my capabilities anyways. I'm going to have to be open and let my guard down which is an uncomfortable place for me. Maybe the time I spend here is going to be less about me helping people and more about them helping me. What I mean is that, maybe this is going to the scenario that finally forces me to let go of my fears, break down my walls, and completely put my faith in God.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


If you have read my blog before, or know me, you know that I tend to struggle with body image and diet and have done so for the past 12 years. Really, I've done so for the past 32 years, but a significant change happened in 2000 that has made that issue the main area of focus for me.

In the beginning, I was a slave to the diet industry. I tried atkins, kind of, weight watchers, kind of, the Zone, etc etc etc. I tried one diet where you don't eat any carbs at all, not even fruits or veggies and that was absolutely terrible. When that didn't work (because I couldn't maintain any of that stuff for any length of time), I turned to exercise. Crossfit, endurance running, triathlons, The Firm videos, Nike Training Club, insert whatever new exercise has come out to make one skinny and look like Jillian Michaels. The thing is - none of it worked, but it worked, if that makes sense. It probably doesn't which is why I'll explain. I got thinner. I got more muscular, I ran half marathons, all of that stuff. Physically, my body change. Emotionally, I did not. The desire to be thinner was always there, even at my thinnest. I got down to a size 4. But eventually, I would gain weight again because I wasn't happy and it wasn't working, so I turned to food, like always.

I sought outside help, meaning a therapist, to figure out why I'm like this and what needed to change. With her help, I realized that it's not about the food, it's not about the weight, it's about the fact that I am seeking happiness. If I weigh this much, I'll be happy, if I earn this much, I'll be happy, if I dress this way, I'll be happy. And when I achieved a variety of those goals, I realized that the happiness wasn't from some goal I wanted to achieve, it had to come from within. Through some serious seeking and prayer and meditation, yoga, I realized that I'm really not even going to be perfect at that. I'm always going to struggle with body image and food. It's my go to, but it doesn't have to control me.

After reading lots of books, spending more time with my therapist, and lots of yoga, I've realized that I have to let go. I try to eat intuitively and sometimes, I'm not that good at it BUT the one deal I made with myself is that I'm not allowed to "control" my eating and I'm not allowed to "restrict" and I'm not allowed to feel guilty. The end result, I've gained weight, I'm stable at a size that I thought was previously unacceptable but I'm trusting the process and trusting that in this very moment, God wants me to be the size I am for whatever reason. Maybe the message I have to give right now can only come in a size 10/12 package.

Where I realize that I've had growth is in listening to others. I've encountered a lot of people lately who live in a life of can't. I can't eat that because it's got this many calories, if I ate that, I'd be 200 lbs, etc. And I finally realized that I am SO GRATEFUL that I have the freedom to do what I want. I can eat what I want. I no longer allow myself to live by the rules of what the diet industry has developed. And actually, I eat pretty healthy. I love veggies and fruit, and I also love Gelato :) - but I do not have any guilt for eating it. It's pretty awesome. I may not accept my body fully for as it is, but I also am excited at how far I've come.

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Fears

As the time for my trip approaches, the reality of the fact that I am traveling to Africa all by myself is setting in. I know that I still have to get a police clearance and send that to GVN as well as my travel information. I have gotten all of my shots and I have to email the orphanage to see what items they may need. All of the duties are pretty much done and so now, we wait.

Obviously, I'm afraid of the standard things like traveling by myself. Am I going to get lost? What if I miss my flight? Will I know where to go when I arrive? I'm also nervous about all of the things that everyone else is nervous about for me such as will I be safe? Am I going to be attacked by a wild animal? What if I get bitten my a mosquito? What if I eat the wrong thing and get sick? Some things that make me feel better are the fact that many of my friends have traveled to Africa and done a very similar thing, so I know that I'm not the only person that's ever done this and I'm sure I'll be fine. The other thing I think is that I feel strongly that I have been called to do this so I doubt that God would move me in the direction of doing this without giving me some protection. That being said, I'm still bringing along some of my favorite lucky charms like a small rosary that a friend gave me (she actually had it made for me), a St Benedict medal and a Our Lady Guadalupe medal, and maybe some deet :).

Overall though, I think the biggest fear is that I will be afraid that I will miss the opportunity. I only have 2 weeks. I don't have time to "adjust", I tend to be shy in new situations, especially when every single thing around me is different. I will sit back and observe, I'll find someone I have something in common with and latch on for dear life. But I cannot do that here. I have to go in with an open mind and an open heart. I'm not 100% sure what to do with the kids, or really what I'll be doing so I've got to come up with some ways to entertain them! I love children and I think I'll be okay but I just don't want to waste my time being shy and afraid. When I was in Costa Rica, there was a safety issue and I spent a lot of time afraid of going outside. I did a lot of cool things, but I feel like I could've done more. So my goal for this trip is to let go of fears and throw myself into the experience. I'm going to be safe, but I just don't want to be lead by fear.