Kenya

It is officially Day 31 in Kenya. I don’t even know where to begin with how I feel, or what I’ve experienced since being here. I’m not one to sugar coat things, nor am I one to sit here and lie to myself.

Since being here I’ve experienced an abundance of different emotions, far from what I had expected. Initially when I started work, I felt passionate, alive and eager, leaving my mark and pushing for social change. As the weeks went by, case after case, I felt myself becoming progressively drained, alongside feeling guilty as a result of this. I kept telling myself that many people would die for this opportunity, and I here I was living one of my dreams…so, why was I feeling drained? I felt obligated to help these individuals to my fullest capability, yet I couldn’t comprehend why I felt so empty.

It took me some time to realize how important it is to be a skillful empath. Rose Rosetree has a quote from her book that strongly resonates with me in saying that it is better to be a non-empath than to be an unskilled empath. There is a substantial difference between being kind, and being an empath.  Many people in this world can be considered kind through acts and intentions, however, empaths literally feel and identify with what someone else is feeling or going through, on a psychological level. Within the past, I can identify as being an unskilled empath (and undeniably sometimes still struggle with this :)), merely because I viewed my sensitivity and vulnerability as a weakness. I did not know when to stop identifying with others, nor did I know how to turn my empathy on or off. It is odd to explain- I would constantly beat myself up for always feeling, when all I wanted was to not feel at all.

 

(Real life pic of me out here cryin’ 24/7 on full blast)

I am a very passionate person and I’ve learned to embrace that quality, as it makes me, me. For the past year, I have worked, interned and volunteered with many different populations. I always feel this strong desire to help everyone around me, particularly those who are willing to receive the help and assistance that I can offer. Through all of this, I’ve neglected myself by not prioritizing my own needs as an individual, forgetting that without my glass full, I am not capable of empowering others in the way I’d like to. My glass can’t even be full…this motherfucker gotta be overflowing with the shit that I intend to do in this lifetime.

I am learning that I cannot be compassionate to others without fully being compassionate with myself first. I am learning how to listen to what nourishes and feeds my soul, simply for me. Whether that is the people who I choose to associate with, the experiences that I wish to have on my own terms, or even developing and challenging paradigms that exist in my head. I am always looking for ways to challenge myself because I realize that we grow where we are not comfortable. I strive to be comfortably uncomfortable because I am constantly evolving.

I love the work that I do and the challenges that come alongside, because it forces me to find a plausible solution, once again showing me how resilient I am. I feel like the universe is always throwing curveballs, reminding me why I do what I do, and showing me ways that make the journey a bit smoother. Progress and healing are never linear, so when things are going exceptionally well, there will undoubtedly be something that pops off. To love yourself is to honour what feeds your soul and makes you happy, as an individual. I used to factor everything into my happiness equation, attributing my happiness to people and things. I’ve learned how important it is to live in the present moment because happiness is not a destination we aim to arrive at, but it is a temporary feeling that comes and goes, and it lies within the palm of our hands through keeping peace within ourselves.

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

I love you :):):)

Reflection

April 12th, 2018

6:06 PM

 

Dear universe,

I’m sitting at professor’s lake, alone. It’s beautiful outside and the sunset is sinking. The breeze is blowing, the birds are chirping, and the water is almost still. I am thankful for the events that have unfolded over the course of the past couple of months- the good, and bad. I am unbelievably humbled and grateful. I am thankful to have such loving people in my life, who support my vision and goals. My loving family, as well as my loving friends who do the most. They are constantly protecting and looking out for me- only wanting the best. Universe, how did I ever get so lucky?

I’m sitting on a bench. I was waiting for Chanti to join me, but now I am kind of happy she got stuck in traffic (sorry if you’re reading this Chants!! I really needed this alone time, however, I shall see you tonight). I have an unpredictable journey ahead of me…I really don’t know what to expect of anything. I haven’t prepared much and it still hasn’t hit me. All I know is that in this moment, I am genuinely happy with who I am and where I am. Without the external validation- I am grateful for being me. Have you ever asked yourself, without the career, car, and home….”Who am I?”. We tend to attach ourselves to physicality when in reality none of these things define who we are as individuals. I am now discovering who I am, detaching from the external validation.

I don’t mean to get too philosophical on all of you. I am just happy with who I am and where I am, being me. I’ve come to realize that there is no perfect time to love yourself…and it definitely will not begin when you get the car of your dreams, the career you’ve always wanted, or when you finally lose the weight. Living in the “NOW” relies on merely accepting what is presented, without criticizing or judging-  unconditionally loving it for what it is. Without the grades, the career, the car, the way I look…I have grown to love myself, with my success and with my failures (and many, many flaws). Words cannot express the love in my heart, and the gratitude I feel for living the life I live. I don’t live a perfect life- none of us do. All we can do is make it a life worth living, by fulfilling our greatest passions. Fulfilling our dharma, and doing what essentially makes us happiest. I am trying to enjoy the little things.

I am trying to smell the roses.

Feminist Tangent

I get that there is a negative connotation associated with the concept of feminism, but it hurts me to hear and witness females firsthand, stating that feminism is a “stupid concept”. I understand that we as Canadians are privileged..as a female living in Canada I cannot say that I experience extensive barriers within gender construct. This I agree with and I can understand…but how can females sit there and say that they’re not feminist BECAUSE we have opportunity in Canada? Because girls have equality and rights in our society? What about the HUNDREDS of indigenous women who go missing per year…or even rape culture?

Instead of living in our tiny bubble…what about the other billions of females who reside in other parts of the world who have their genitals cut off in an unsanitary manner, to demolish the concept of pleasure? What about the women who aren’t allowed to leave their homes? What about the women who aren’t allowed an education, for the sole fact that they are WOMEN? What about the females who are battered? The females who are raped? The females who are forced into sex trafficking? The females who are forced into marriage at the age of 10? Because ‘I have privilege’, is not an excuse to turn a blind eye to humanity…

What Solo Backpacking Has Taught Me, and Why I Encourage Everyone to Drop Their Shit and Travel Alone

Since I was a child, I have been travelling with my parents to many different countries within South America, all pertaining to my ethnicity and the familiarity of cultures. Although I did a fair share of travelling in my earlier years, I can say that I never truly appreciated it…nor did I feel any sort of fulfillment.

Don’t get me wrong—I loved reading on beaches and sipping on unlimited virgin pina coladas every day, but it still felt like something was missing.

One of my earliest childhood memories took place on a family vacation to the Dominican Republic. Although travelling to tropical countries does have its perks, my parents took me into the village of Puerto Plata and for a day, I witnessed a life that I had never known to exist.

Being a 5-year-old, up until that point I did not comprehend what homelessness or poverty was. I could not fathom why people were sitting on the street corners without shirts on or why children were in a school with a missing roof.

That day, I left the village with an empty feeling in my stomach—not only would I never see these people again but, I knew at that point that A) I could not help these people improve their circumstances, and based off of what my parents had told me, B) Nothing would change. I saw similarities between my family and the villagers, not because we were of the same ethnic background or shared similar skin colours, but because we were all human beings.

I did not understand why children there had to miss out on receiving an education in substitute for helping their family make a living, while I whined about not going to school to sleep in.

My need for travel correlates with my desire to push for social change on both a micro and macro level. Yes, I love travelling on its own and I love helping populations who need it most..but even if your reasoning for travelling doesn’t correlate with mine, I still encourage solo travel because it is the BEST thing you will ever do.

Many people glorify solo travelling, when in reality, it is nothing like what it is sought out to be. If you are stuck in the situation where you fall terribly ill…you will have to be the one to drag your own ass to a hospital (with a good chance that they are not fluent in English).

Prepare yourself. If you are stranded in the middle of nowhere, in a town where no one gives a crap to stop and help you with directions…you will have to be the one who saves yourself with a compass and a map at hand.

I am the most horrible person when it comes to directions, so this was a rude awakening!

You will have to face every single fear that you have created in your head throughout your lifetime, and breaking each one of them is it most bittersweet feeling you will ever experience. Although travelling alone is terrifying, it is also so beautiful to learn about many things in which you are capable of. You learn to have great respect for other cultures, learning about their norms and values, perhaps even challenging your own.

You begin to live a life you have never known, and somehow that in its own changes you. I’m not sure if solo travelling has the same experience on every individual out there, but subjectively speaking…it has shown me how brave and resilient I am.

Let me clear this up. 

By “dropping your shit” to solo travel, I don’t necessarily mean that you have to quit your job and hop on the next plane to Alaska.

“Dropping your shit” encompasses the fear and anxiety that surrounds the idea of backpacking itself. The fear of loneliness. This was a huge one for me. I’ve always been fine doing things on my own—living alone, going to activities alone; simply enjoying my own company…but once you are on a plane and you are throwing up, fainting in an airport and have no one to take care of you, the ball game changes.

In this moment, I remember how much I had regretted even hopping on a plane alone. What was I thinking?! I’ve been dealing with motion sickness my entire life. There I was, in PEK airport with sweat and vomit all over my shirt, passing out on the bathroom floor, praying the headaches and nauseousness would stop.

Then, of course, nothing lasts forever. I bought a change of clothes and somehow managed to drag my ass on my next flight and slept off the feeling.

As much as I hate to say it, in that moment of vulnerability, even as an adult…I wanted my mom so badly. She tends to always find a way to make me feel better (I would probably never tell her this because she would never let me live it down). When I recovered from it all, I couldn’t help but feel accomplished and proud of myself, and in that moment, I felt unstoppable.

From all of the horrifying events that I have endured, solo travelling has taught me that no one or nothing will ever come in the way of my dreams, by deeming me as incapable.

There is nothing I can’t do.