Wednesday, January 6, 2010

transitions, quiet time, judgement

Leaving home, coming home, traveling in between- I've come to the final leg of this journey. Many thoughts and feelings surge through my mind and soul; some reflective, others superficial, all waiting to be processed when I make time and mind space.

The shock I felt flying into Bangkok, Thailand was a bit unexpected. I nearly burst into tears as I saw the 6 lane highway and the "up-above roads" (later corrected by Janelle- over pass %-)). The amount of people and “stuff” that immediately surrounded me was a lot to take in.

I have a new lens with which to see the world...

I think that's the main underlying feeling right now. It's difficult to pinpoint but this is what I’ve come to. This transition time not only comes with goodbyes to people and places, visiting a new continent/culture, ending peace corps, seeing friends and family, snow, cold, unknown future- it’s all accompanied by this new lens: a new perspective that forces me to ask more questions, walk a little slower, reevaluate values and actions. I’m finding that it’s easy to see the ugly of the world with this lens- numerous disparities, health, income and otherwise, consumerism, materialism; simply unconscious ways of walking through this life. But there is also a lot of beauty this lens can expose- simple peace, love, patience, community, pockets of goodness everywhere, connecting with different aspects of humanity on very basic yet profound levels. It will be my challenge to focus on this beauty. To let the heightened awareness help me grow, not darken my spirit. To find hidden gems and happiness in quality time with those I love. To open my heart in a new way and let compassion and understanding flow through me as I embrace this next step.

Making time to spend with myself will also be important. I always have my self to come back to- a sanctuary within- but I know that in the hustle and bustle of America I’ll have to make time in my day for some quiet time. That is something that has been missing since I left Nkurenkuru. I haven’t taken much time just for me since I’ve been on the road- I’ve been soaking up my time with dear friends and enjoying traveling but I’m realizing that it’s something I want to make a priority.

I want to use my new lens to help judgment pause to curiosity, appreciation, teachable moments, listening, and modeling. I think judgment of myself and others will always be something I’ll be working on, but I think it’s especially important now when journeying home. Everyone looks through their own lens, according to his/her own experiences, privilege, background, understanding and acceptance of the world around them.

These are not new lessons, just reminders of the old. Perhaps with a bit more context now…

As the next phase of my journey unfolds I hope to carry myself in a way that honors where I have come from, what I’ve been doing/seeing/being for the past two years and how I want to be as I’m embrace each morning I am lucky enough to be a part of.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

pictures of the past few days....


"last days in nkurenkuru"

"sunrise breakfast"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Farewell Nkurenkuru

It’s hard to believe I’ve come to this blog post. When I look back at
my journal and at these entries I’m filled with laughter and joy
thinking about all of the ups and downs, the intense emotions
felt/expressed, the challenges and success- all how they have shaped
my entire being. Already the ‘bad’ is fading away and the good,
powerful, and awe-some memories are finding a permanent place in my
heart and soul.

Friday we had a farewell party- it was one of the most amazing
experiences of my life. The setting was beautiful, three lilac
breasted rollers flew into a big tree in Selma’s yard to set the stage
for a great night :) She had her place all decked out with tables and
chairs, wine glasses with napkins folded up beautifully in them, we
prepared all of the food earlier that day- a goat, lots of chickens,
macaroni, rice, salad, soups, and many many drinks. As the sun was
setting the people were arriving, it was a full house of friends from
Nkurenkuru and surrounding villages. Lots of speeches were given,
tears flowed and laughs too. I got through my speech even though I
was crying throughout. Three friends came up to stand with me and hold
my hand as I read and another friend translated. Then lots of gifties
were presented, woven baskets, wooden spoons, other carvings, knitted
clothes and woven grass bracelets, two live chickens and even a baby!!
:) Baby Sarah :) I carried her on my back after dinner for the rest
of the party, it was wonderful :) I felt overwhelmed with gratitude
and blessings, friendship and love and respect- both received and
given to those present. It’s hard to imagine all that was wrapped up
in these two years but Friday’s party was a beautiful summary and
closing of it all.

Today I woke up at 5:20am and met some friends for breakfast at the
river while we watched the sunrise. It was a perfect start to the
day. I came home and after getting a few things in order I headed
west to a few villages over to start a series of goodbyes. First I
stopped at Baby Sarah’s house and helped feed her her morning bottle.
I gave some gifties and hugs. Then to Sam and Otillieas place where
their son “Little Buffie” helped present me with a live chicken for
the road %-) It’s called “podkos” ….road food :) hehe so I put the
chick in my backpack and rode off to the next homestead. I said
goodbyes, gave hugs and cards and some small gifties and otherwise
been running around like a crazy lady! I played “headman” for a
conflict at the bike shop, sold my computer, gave away my clothes, now
cooking dinner for 4 and later saying goodbye to my neighbors!!
Ahhhhhhhhhh and packing sometime before we depart at 5am :)

I will share more reflections when I have more time…

My heart is full and my love for people here and at home is
overflowing. I will be in the capital for two weeks then I start
another wonderful journey of vacation with friends- Tanzania and
Zanzibar, then off to Thailand. I’ll return to America on 15 January
and perhaps you’ll hear more stories and reflections in person but I
will be posting more here as well.

Below is the speech I gave at my party. Pardon the broken English :)

With love and goodness….


As I sit down to write this farewell speech I am filled with so much
joy and so much sadness. My tears begin to fall because I will be so
sad to leave all of you- my neighbors, my colleagues, my fellow
volunteers, community members- all of you, I consider my friends. I
am so thankful and blessed to have so much love surrounding me here in
Nkurenkuru. And this is why I am also filled with so much joy.

Two and a half years ago I decided to join the Peace Corps. When I
applied and was accepted I didn’t know where I would be going. I
didn’t even know on which continent. After many months of
volunteering and medical check-ups I was finally told my placement- I
would be leaving for Namibia in November 2007. I was very excited to
receive this news but still I didn’t know where my new home would be.
After two months of training in Okahandja we were told our site
placements and mine was Nkurenkuru.

I did not know then that this place, and all of you, would become such
a special part of my life. It’s hard to imagine my life without these
two years. What I have learned about life, myself, love, pain,
culture, language, tradition, Namibia, Africa, friendship and the
goodness of the human spirit is more than could ever be taught in
school or read in any book. The experiences I have had here will
continue to shape me even when I am gone. The people I have met and
grown close with will continue to influence my life long after I leave
this place. And for both of these facts, I am so grateful.

I am thankful to all of you for accepting me into your community, I am
thankful for your friendship and kindness that you showed me. I am
thankful for all you have taught me about your culture, your region,
your foods, and traditions. I am thankful for the hugs you embraced
and the laughs we’ve shared. I could probably say something about
everyone here and how you have impacted my life but I know we all want
to eat sometime before no time :) I want to take time though to thank
a few people.
As Ndadi mentioned, I was involved with several projects- you
volunteers and project members that are here, I want to thank you. We
struggled together- to communicate, to work together, to accomplish
our goals- some we reached, some we fell short, but what we
accomplished together is very amazing. You should all be so proud of
yourselves for the time and energy you put into our projects- even
when things didn’t go well you kept coming back and trying to work
together and even when we stopped meeting as a group I never felt like
I lost a friend. Our connection and your involvement in our work and
my life here has been so meaningful. You are the reason I am here and
wanted to work so hard and I hope you know how much joy you have
brought to my life.

To my neighbors, especially all of the kids in the neighborhood- my
heart is so full of happiness and love for all of you. Even some days
when I just wanted to rest, you would still come knocking and ask for
paper or colors, even coming to my window when I was trying to sleep
:) I loved it though. Even if I was having a bad day if you came to
my house and spent time with me I became happy and everything in the
world was good again. I will never forget you, your laughs, your
smiles, your dance moves, and all of the beautiful pictures you drew.
Thank you for being my friends.
To Selma- so many nights I have spent at your house with you and your
family. You welcomed me as your daughter, as your sister, as your
mother and as your friend. We shared the same plate and the same
glass, we ate new foods, ones you shared from your culture and ones
that I shared from mine. You told me stories and we have laughed for
hours. You hosted us when Obama was being elected and when my parents
came you hosted a beautiful party. I feel truly free with you. You
have been my best friend and I could never fully express how grateful
I am to you. I love you so much.

Tate Ndadi- I think I am the luckiest volunteer in all of Namibia.
As a supervisor you have always been 100% supportive of me and my
work. You have offered transport and land, water and time, your
guidance and suggestions, you have always provided a listening ear and
culturally appropriate advice. I’m sure even at times you could have
told me certain things to make the job a bit easier but instead you
let me figure things out on my own so I could grow and learn from
mistakes. All of your teachings have been invaluable. Apart from
being an incredible supervisor you have been a great friend. Not a
single day went by that we were together and I wasn’t laughing. You
always made me laugh and feel free and at home. I know that when
everything else seemed to be going wrong I could just walk into your
office to check-in and you would truly brighten my day. Thank you for
being so kind and warm, funny and open, an amazing mentor, teacher,
supervisor and friend.

All of you here, and even those who could not attend- I thank you from
the bottom of my heart. To walk around the town and hear “supa-dupa”,
to greet in Rukwangli and even Nyemba, to shake your hands and share
smiles every day-these are some of the things I want to thank you for
and that I will dearly miss.

I will hold all of you close to my heart for the rest of my life.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I stood watching the Violet Backed Starling fly over my head. Again I could only clearly see the white of her underbelly and just a hint of darkness on the top. I kept trying to make out if it was purple I was seeing or black like the BouBou. Suddenly it reversed direction and flew back to sit on my shoulder. I was so excited! It was indeed the starling! I’ve wanted to see this bird for so long! I asked friends to quickly take a picture so I could capture this moment when all of a sudden, the bird started to attack me. Digging into my shoulder with her claws then pecking at my head. I thought it was friendly at first but she kept pecking and when I turned to look she didn’t appear to be a bird at all. She was wiry and almost green, the purple and white feathers were still there but my dream bird was now a painful nightmare.
Then I woke up…..

Yesterday I had a moment with myself in the morning I’m referring to it as a revelation. It was more so an understanding, a deeper understanding or realization of truth. Not my truth or yours, but truth as it is…

I have this small book called Mediations from Conversations with God. Jori gave it to me before I left. It’s full of small passages about different topics from death to money to war to self-awareness etc. I refer back to it often and when I have a thought I add it into the book and I’m going to give it back to Jori when I return. I was reading it this morning and I came across one note that I had written on November 19 of last year responding to a meditation about death. I wrote about how it scares me and I don’t know if I believe in a higher power or after life and so on; I just sounded scared and confused....I smiled this morning because I couldn't feel further from that....I've evolved so far past that feeling.... yesterday I wrote this:

"I wrote that last year....I feel so different from that feeling
expressed...I’m smiling. When our body dies the fruit it bears is the
birth of our soul. I want to love my body even more now! I want my soul
to have a beautiful place to BE. When my body dies, I want my soul to
remember a good life, not trapped in my body, but rather having spent many
many years in a sanctuary."

I think my dream this morning was connected to my understanding yesterday.
Things are not as they seem…when we think about something being a certain way, it will be that until we open our minds eye to what it actually is…

Birds represent freedom, community, unity. I’ve been searching for the violet backed starling for a few months now with no avail. The harder I search the further away she seems to be. But if I let go, free myself from expectations, knowledge of where she resides during the summer months, understanding of what she represents to me, I will find her. Or I won’t. :)

There’s no either or. There just is….

Friday, October 9, 2009

VIDEO!!! This is a video of the BEN Namibia Networking Conference

Monday, September 21, 2009