Graduating to a New Idea of Settling

Graduating From My Idea of “Settling”

Earlier this morning, I stumbled upon the following article:

Why Settle For Marriage When You Could Travel Instead?

… Which, unsurprisingly, I could relate to a lot of it.  But what WAS surprising, is that I feel like I have in some ways graduated from some of these ideas of “settling.”

For most of my life I have lived under the mantra of “Never settle” and “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  These ideas bring you to amazing milestones and help you get to points in life you never thought you could experience, and they help you realize that life is truly limitless.  But what struck a chord with me this morning, is maybe I’m beginning to have a different idea of what “settling” really means.  And believe me, it is my biggest fear… the mere thought of the word “settling” makes me physically cringe.

I work in an industry where I am commonly one of the youngest people in the room, and some of the doctors I work with will ask if I’m straight out of college, to which I tell them “No, I’m actually 4 years out… and there’s a difference.”  Without fail, they will respond with a laugh, but I explain to them that yes there IS a difference between 23 and 27.  43 and 47 may have no difference, but I personally have felt a large difference between 23 and 27.  Here are a few examples:

  • Binge drinking (although not entirely absent 😉 ) is certainly rare – **side note – hangovers last for too many days, that’s the main reason **
  • Spending time with my family is something I cherish more now than ever
  • Skipping out on a few social events to get a solid nights rest actually sounds far more ideal
  • Maintaining a close group of true friends over a room full of acquaintance
  • Working out because it makes me feel good, more so than attempting to have the “perfect body”

This list could go on and on… but I think that my newer definition of “settling” can be added.

I was (and I hope I currently am not still… but I probably am) the QUEEN of FOMO (fear of missing out), and the antagonist of “settling,” and a lot of times I get scared.  Now this is a trait that I do not want to change because it is the catalyst that makes me reach for an extraordinary life, and living it to the fullest… but in a way it is unhealthy and I feel like I have needed to graduate from some of my thoughts.  Here are a few:

  • I don’t want to live in boring Virginia, it’s settling.
    1. You know what, there are a lot of amazing places in this world, and yes I would love to experience something different, but the opportunities that have been presented to me happen to be in the state I grew up in and these opportunities have been truly incredible. Not to mention, I have had the blessing of being geographically close to family and friends who love me most and — life’s short, and people are getting older… and I feel fortunate to be able to see them at my leisure.
  • I’m in a relationship, it’s settling.
    1. Now this is quite candid, but I struggle with this one probably the most. I figure that I should be out seeking the perfect “one” for me, and doing otherwise is living a life of settling.  But fortunately, my boyfriend is a realist, and he can help bring my head out of the clouds (for the most part).  We are certainly different people, he the calculator and I the dreamer, and on occasions I have feared that there’s someone else out there for me.  And you know what, there could be… millions.  And there could be millions for him too.  But we love each other, we support each other, we are unconditionally there for each other, we engage in what the other person likes to do, and damn it we have a lot of fun with each other.  If that is settling, then maybe it’s time I grow up and find a new meaning for “settling.”  Maybe it’s time I find a happy medium between realism and idealism.
  • Working for corporate America, and not traveling the world like I had hoped, it’s settling.
    • Yes – I do wish we were like other countries who get a month off every year to travel, and weren’t just working for ‘the man.’ But if you get down to it – my job is truly amazing.  I get to “travel the world” in my own little microenvironment.  No day for me is like the one before.  There is no routine, no monotony, and no boredom when it comes to my job.  Yes, there is a lot of pressure and a lot of stress, but my job’s involved in saving people’s lives and truly making their lives better.  This is all I’ve ever wanted to do in life, and somehow I am getting paid to do it.  I am literally responsible for ensuring people have a heart beat so that they could spend the remainder of their lives with their loved ones and so that maybe they could go off and travel the world.  What could possibly be more rewarding than that?! 

It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie, in more reasons than one.  But probably the most prominent reason is that I identify a lot with George Bailey.  I too want to “see the world” and do something “big and important.”  But what I need to realize, in the same way that George Bailey did, is that I am doing big things in my little ways in my little town.  And you are too.

I will never let go of my mantra: “Never settle” but I think I would like to make a more adult addition to it.

  • Never settle… with losing someone who loves you because you think someone better could be out there.
  • Never settle… on losing your job because you feel like you’re missing the world. You are currently making your world, and people love you and count on you for it.  Only leave your world if you know deep down it’s right.  Until then, make the most of your world.
  • Never settle… your happiness because you are too busy trying to find your happiness. “Life IS what happens while you’re making other plans” – (John Lennon).

With all this being said… I still believe we should all:

Take risks, see the world, up-root, be uncomfortable, make goals you don’t think you can reach, and so on and so forth But don’t be so focused on “not settling,” that you deprive yourself from appreciating everything you have in front of your eyes and making the most of it.

-Take it from me,

Queen of FOMO

 

 

Things I Am Able to Do Because I am a Single Woman in my 20’s

In a world where love is shoved down our throats and your self worth is sometimes measured against it if you are a woman, it is hard to stay positive.  “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” “When are you going to get engaged?”  These questions are asked as if there is something wrong with being a confident, single, hardworking young woman.  I do believe that the idea that women are nothing without their man and they need to be married right away is severely archaic, but our social media doesn’t show enough love for those women who are choosing to be single.

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Here are a few reasons why I have chosen to be single in my 20’s, when the rest of society sometimes tells me otherwise:

1. Building Core Girlfriend Relationships.

I will be the first to admit that back in my serial monogamous days, I had trouble with having close girl friends.  I think it was due to the fact that I grew up mostly hanging out with guys, and I simply just had difficulty relating to girls.  Also whenever I had my boyfriend, they turned into my best friend.  They were basically a crutch for my loneliness as I entered college and didn’t know how to react to building new friendships.  When I had boyfriends I was always secretly jealous of all the girls that were good at maintaining good girl friendships.  Once I entered my single phase, building my solid girl friendships was the most vital thing I could have ever done to survive.  Now I can confidently say that I have a solid group of girlfriends that are with me through this tumultuous age.  They are my rock and my back board.  As relationships that started as “misery loves company” these women have turned into sisters.  If there is a man in your picture or not, make sure you have your ladies.  They NEED to be there first.

2. Spending Time With All Groups of People, With Zero Guilt.

Probably another reason why I have spent the majority of my 20’s single is because of how ridiculously independent I tend to be.  With this, I enjoy beep-bopping around to all different kinds of social groups.  Probably my favorite thing to do on this earth is to meet new, interesting people that I can share experiences with and grow from.  Being single is great because I have been able to get to know all different kinds of people and don’t have a boyfriend to make me feel guilty about not spending enough of my time with him.

3. Traveling, Because… Why not?

I love being able to pick up my stuff at any time, with my own money, and literally be able to go wherever my heart desires.  Since being single I have:

  • Gone on a road trip with way too many college friends crammed in a Key West condo
  • Spent a summer in Washington D.C. for an internship without having to play the distance dance
  • Spent a 5th year at college because I backpacked Australia for a semester and didn’t need to worry about quickly graduating and meeting up with a boyfriend
  • Traveled to Sierra Leone with 13 strangers on a complete spontaneous whim, with nobody holding me back
  • Spending a week and a half in Uganda for a senior design trip because again, why not?
  • Going on a spring break cruise to the Caribbean with all of my best college friends and rooming with whoever I wanted
  • Spending a week in Puerto Rico staying with one of my best girlfriends and a single guy because we could

This list doesn’t include the countless trips  visiting all my amazing friends in their fabulous new cities!  Being single in my 20’s has allowed me to have endless adventures based on one single concept: Because, why not?  Also, in the near future I have plans to maybe backpack alone in Europe… because I can.

4. Getting Closer With My Family.

Because I don’t have to share my time with building a relationship with a boyfriend or their family, I have become very close with my family.  Instead of texting a boyfriend about anything happening in my life, I am able to reach out to my parents and sister who have been there for me my entire life.  At this point in my life my parents have become my best friends and I have so much respect for them.  I don’t know if I would be as close with my family if I had to spread my attention elsewhere during these critical years.

5. Endless Career Possibilities.

I am currently in graduate school, because again, I just wanted to do it.  After college I had no where that I felt obliged to move to, and zero things holding me back from reaching my own dreams.  I could apply wherever, with no pressure.  As I am trying to finish up my graduate degree, it is nice to say at interviews that I am literally willing to relocate anywhere (preferably where there is a beach… buuuttttt you know what I mean).  Want to make a completely bold, spontaneous, life-changing decision? Why not? Who’s going to stop you, that’s right… no body. 🙂

6. Reveling In My Own Weird Habits.

We all do weird things when we are by ourselves, and it’s nice to actually be able to enjoy those things with zero judgement.  I can dance in my room, eat ice cream in my bed, and watch all the horrible Real Housewives episodes I so please.  There is no body to tell me I need to change and definitely no compromises needed.  Thank you very much.

7. Really Taking My Time to Get to Know Myself – Selfishness is Acceptable!

This time has been all about myself (if you can’t tell from this narcissistic post).  I am meeting new people and growing at an exponential rate.  I am taking the opportunity to really embrace these moments and take the time to think about them.  I talk to a 77 year old man once a week, every week, about my life and what I am doing with it.  It’s a great way to reflect and focus on my goals.  I like to live my life by a bucket list, it’s exhilarating to be able to do this at my own pace.  Your 20’s is such a precious time of life, it’s nice that I have been able to totally own it and work on myself with out anything holding me back.

8.  I Know Exactly What Kind of Significant Other I Do and Do Not Want to Be.

First of all, I have gone through several relationships to realize what I did right and what I did wrong before I started my single life.  But besides that, as a veteran third-wheeler, I have been able to observe several couples.  From those couples I can piece together what I do and do not want to be in my own future relationship.

9. I Know What I Want and What I Don’t Want In a Partner – True Trial and Error.

Because I have not spent all of my 20’s in one or two relationships, I have a true idea about all different types of men.  I have been able to date all kinds of people, whether or not they seemed like my “type” or not.  I haven’t had to live with the regret of “I wish I had dated more to know what I really wanted.”  At this point, I really do know what I want and it’s a great feeling. No FOMO happening here.

10. I Don’t Think You Truly Live Until You Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone.

This is a phrase, I absolutely live by.  I think that being single in your 20’s goes hand-in-hand with this phrase.  Being completely alone is a very uncomfortable feeling, but being able to embrace it helps you to truly live.  I think if you can embrace that alone feeling and make it something beautiful, then opening yourself to love will be something you do when you are ready… not because you are lonely.  I also am a huge advocate of people going on dates with strangers.  It is a great way for us to grow, and really prepares you for interviews and meeting new people.  Even if the date is horrible, putting yourself out there for a new opportunity is a beautiful thing.

11.  Following Your Own Passions.

Your career, your religion, a cause, whatever it is you are able to go for it 110%.  I was once in a relationship where my boyfriend made fun of me for how passionate I was about some things.  Now I can chase after those passions with nobody to make me feel stupid, and actually fill that void with people that inspire me.  Nothing feels more fulfilling than meeting people with the same passions as you.  I think this time I will let my passions guide me to love, rather than sharing my passions with someone I think I’m in love with.

12. Taking Yourself on Dates

In all actuality, this could be the only time of your life where you can be completely alone.  If you do end up getting married and having children, I’m sure you will think back on these years and wish you had embraced your alone time more.  Right now I am really trying to do just that.  I can have quiet time to meditate and just enjoy the peace  I have by myself.  Getting to the point where you enjoy alone time, and going to bed alone feels just fine is a healthy place to be.  It has taken a few years, but I am loving this time alone.  Also, try treating yourself to a date.  Recently I took myself out to lunch and a movie, and it really felt amazing.  One day I’m going to wish for these opportunities again.

13. Honestly,
This Entire Post: 
37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old

Pertaining to this post, namely #’s 1, 3, 6, 8, 16, etc. It is a perfect depiction of why we need to embrace our single days.

With all this being said, I do believe that people find relationships that help them grow and be the person they were meant to be.  They are blessed with a significant other that grows with them and inspires them to reach their full potential.

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This post is meant for those who have not found that person in their 20’s, and who struggle with lonely feelings.  Never settle for the type of relationship that does not encourage you to be a stronger and better person than you ever imagined.  Figure out how truly amazing you are by yourself before you share your beautiful heart with someone else.

I think I will let my own passions guide me to love before I share my passions with somebody I think I love.

A Tumultuous Social Age

There is an existential void,

A calling to belong, pressures… annoyed.

A malevolent contest of who’s soul is complete,

A sophomoric malignancy, opportunity to compete.

An ailing way to be self aware, 

Misplaced feelings… a distortion of care. 

Your existence is measured by the more “somethings” you obtain,

Your soul is proportioned by the status you gain.

A source invented to make sure you feel failed,

Engagements, vacations, and bragging prevails.

Quantify your time by the moments you feel undeniably alive

And not by the phony photo opps to portray you survive.  

Comparing Coequals via Computers

I feel compelled to write about a few things that are pressing on our generation.  First, I want to address the fact that I am being completely hypocritical about this topic, since I am actually USING social media to write my thoughts.  Social media has its pros when it comes to connecting with long lost friends, keeping up with current events, and wanting to communicate an idea across a broad audience.

But there are several downfalls to social media that I think we all know to be true, but tend to not focus enough attention to.  I also want to address that I am a hypocrite because I will spend my time waiting on the bus or in a line perusing facebook or instagram just to pass the time.  What I need to add is that I know full and well that while I am doing this, I sometimes hurt myself.  It’s like eating unhealthy food, just a temporary delight when you know subconsciously it’s no good.

So here’s the bottom line:

I want to know if people agree.  I find, in my 20s, putting a lot of pressure on myself.  I think that it is normal for a woman to have an internal biological clock, and to have funny “timeline thoughts,” but these thoughts can become unhealthy when exposed to constant comparison with peers.  Ignorance is certainly bliss, and when we live in a time where there is immediate exposure all the time, ignorance is a hard thing to achieve.  Our whole lives we are raised to complete specific steps, reach a next grade, get a license, graduate high school, get summer jobs, graduate college, etc.  But when you reach a certain point in your 20s, you reach an odd crossroad where you’re not exactly given a next step and the people you have associated yourself with for the past two decades are all off doing different things.  Then you are left with typical uncertainties like “is this the job I want?” “should I go to graduate school?” “Why am I not engaged?” “Where do I want to live?” The presence of social media has left us with an exponential amount of pressure.  I don’t care how confident you are with yourself and your decisions, picking up your phone and seeing how accomplished your ex boyfriend or ex best friend is makes you feel like you should be doing something different.

Our generation is the first generation where a college degree is basically standard and we have tiny little computers at our daily exposure to constantly compare our life accomplishments with others.  Social media has turned more into a contest of who’s life is better than whose.  I realize this is a very cynical point of view, but it would be interesting to see if people posted the actual day to day issues people are dealing with rather than their gigantic diamond ring or their amazing vacation.

I don’t mean to rant, but I needed to type out my thoughts with things I struggle with.  Misery also loves company, so it’s nice to know I’m not alone sometimes.  Maybe this is  just a good food for thought if you are feeling down about yourself because your ex is engaged with an amazing job, or your childhood friend seems to have a “perfect life” while you feel stuck in your first job.

ImageIgnorance is bliss, focus on loving passionately whatever you are doing and the people you are sharing your life with.  Life is too short for us to be staring at tiny computers thinking about how are lives are not up to par with our peer’s.  Make your life what you are passionate about and be happy for others who are doing the same.  

One of the many reasons “Why I Relay”

To Whom It May Concern:

Relay for Life is a week away and thoughts about what it all means have been circulating in my thoughts.  For the past couple years Virginia Tech has been the top fundraising university in the world.  This is something that we pride on and events around campus are taken place on a weekly basis.  But when it comes down to it, it is more than fundraising nights at Moe’s, walking around the Relay for Life track at 4 AM, or even sending out an e-mail, like I’m doing right now, asking for the smallest donation.  What it is all really about, is providing the opportunity to enrich someone else’s life.  To know that because of your efforts, some one else is able to enjoy the life they are so desperately fighting for.
This January I had a very life changing experience.  I visited Sierra Leone on a mission trip where my eyes were opened to a totally different world.  A world where severe poverty reigns, where possessions are few, and people hold close the love that they have for each other.  About a month ago I also visited Uganda for a school-related project and again was faced with a culture where clean water is scarce, the government was corrupt, and a roof over your head is not guaranteed. Ironically enough, after visiting these countries, I came home with envy with how much appreciation they have for life and the love they have for one another.  With all the adversities they face, all they have is pure happiness and love for what they do have.  They taught me what it was like to truly be humble, truly sincere, and live simply.  They were the most loving people I’ve ever met, and maybe ever will meet.
With all this being said, one thing that stuck with me was what seems to be so unfair with this world.  Although we may all want world peace and for everyone to be happy, one thing that really upset me was that countries like these don’t have the access to modern medicine like we do.  Places where malaria is caught like the common cold, while the American travelers are able to take a daily pill to prevent it, the Africans die by the millions.  Places where common sicknesses that we face everyday are life threatening.  But mostly it was unfair to look into the eyes of a 17 year old boy who is suffering from cancer and knowing that the chances are unlikely, simply because they don’t have the same medicine.
With this I am not asking for you to feel guilty or feel pity, but more so to have a sympathetic heart.  More than anything, I want you to take this as an opportunity to take advantage of this wonderful medical technology we have.  You are given the opportunity to save a life.  “Be the change you wish to see in this world.” -GhandiImage
ASABE has set up a Relay for Life team. In order to access is it:
1.) www.vtrelay.org
2.) Click “Donate” at the top of the menu
3.) You can search for a participant’s name (ex: Kelly Morgan) or Search for a Team: ASABE
4.) Click “Donate Now”
5.) Simply fill out the Payment Information and the Billing Information however you would like.
Also feel free to join the team too!
Thank you, God Bless.

And in the end…the plans we make are equal to the plans we break.

I feel like writing because of the quarter life crisis I seem to be undergoing.  If you haven’t already noticed, I have been doing a lot of traveling and trying to accomplish several things because not only do I want to do them, but I am afraid of never having the opportunity again.  I am afraid of the future as graduation is hastily approaching.  As much as I thrive on spontaneity and whimsical thought processes, there is always an underlying set goal behind it all.  Which all sort of led me to think….

We all have some sort of concise plan for what we desire in life.  Some are more detailed than others.  For instance:  I want to be married at 25 or My dream job is to work for ____ (insert company here), etc. etc..  Making a plan for your life is essential when you have goals, but through the past few years and through the people I love I have learned how much the plan is not what is usually going to happen.

Ironically, the plan is the most important thing you have.  It’s what leads to you to your underlying passion.  I just feel like God has a way of taking you the most roundabout way to get there.  It is important to have a list of all the things you want and see what happens from there and have an open heart to the answer being opposite of what you thought.  Not exactly following your plan could be the most stressful and scary leap of faith in your life, but I don’t think anyone truly lives until they step outside of their comfort zone.

All of this is coming to mind because of the Grad School decision process I’ve been going through this year.  A year ago I was about to intern at a pharmaceutical company and expecting to be working the next year.  Then come September I decided it would be smart to apply to grad schools.  Today I have about two weeks to decide between two wonderful grad schools.  I keep thinking about the plan I have in my head, but the feelings in my heart seems to over power.  One of the schools is prestigious, well-known, and very promising, although the feelings I had when I visited were off.  It threw me for a loop because this was where my heart was set.  The other school is less-known, does not have the same prestige reputation but I know in my heart that I would probably be happier there.  The plan of what I thought I wanted has been flip flopped on several occasions, but if I never had a plan to begin with then I would have never been in the situation I am in now.  I am very appreciative of having choices and I thank God for that.  When do you know to go with your heart rather than your head?  Why is the cliche saying ‘Everything happens for a reason’ so undeniably true?

My boss today heard me talk about my decision dilemma and told me a story about how things happen for a reason.  About 10 years ago when she was exactly in the same place as me she was about to graduate and start her new job.  A month before graduation her adviser had told her that she needed to take another class to graduate that my boss had never known about.  She was absolutely devastated because she had already had her life planned out and this was not in the cards.  All problems are relative, but at the time it felt like her future was crumbling.  The way that her school worked was that she needed to stay a whole other semester to graduate.  Her dad told her that “everything happens for a reason” but for a 22 year old ready to take on the world, those words don’t seem realistic at the time.  She ended up staying for an extra semester and met a guy, now her husband, whom she has been married to for 9 years and has a baby boy with.  The job she didn’t end up taking she found was a miserable corporation and she found her calling in another area, that although paid less, was where she found more happiness.

It meant a lot to hear this story.  I’d like to hear about other people’s roundabouts to their ultimate goals and overall happiness.  It is inspiring.  I want to know how you seized an opportunity that your heart said was right against your head’s will.  How you are now thankful for the stress you experienced.  Feel free to share :).

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” -John Lennon

God bless.

Simply Love

My life has been turned upside down…

A few weeks ago 16 of us arrived in Lungi, Sierra Leone immediately hit with the moist African air.  The phrase “culture shock” doesn’t even do justice to the feelings I had walking off of the stairs of that plane.  Jet lagged, scared, walking onto a new continent with 14 strangers I didn’t have any idea that this third world chaos of a country would change my life.

I had meant to blog a while back and give details about the trip.  But honestly, details are just fillers and will come up without trying.  I want to focus on what needs to be said about this trip: Life is much less complicated than we make it out to be, simply love with all your heart.  We walked through villages where houses were huts, floors were dirt, bathrooms were holes, food was scarce, health was uncertain, children roamed, parents were sparse, and electricity was unfathomable.  A country where death is so close while just coming out of war and movies like Blood Diamond based off of their tragedies.  A country where the life expectancy is 41 and one in four women dies from giving birth.  A place where getting malaria is like catching a cold and it can be arduous to find a paved road.  On paper this sounds like a tragedy, but I’m here to tell you my friends, this place is a little piece of heaven.

Everywhere you go you are greeted with a handshake and a smile from ear to ear.  Life for them is simple and with that they focus on the important things; the things that come freely.  Here in America we find happiness in the amount of friends we have, the relationship we are in, the family we came from, the career we achieve, and most importantly the possessions we hold.  In a country like Sierra Leone, in order to be happy all they need is love.  They find happiness in the little things that we look over.  Although there’s nothing wrong with finding happiness with the friends we have, in their country they treat everyone like friends.  They welcomed us Americans with open arms and open hearts.

Yet again, it is important to find happiness in your relationship or your family, but there it is very common to be stripped away from all your loved ones.  We spent the week at a Child Rescue Center and ran a vacation bible school for the kids.  The children were placed here because they are orphans either by sickness, the war, or some other circumstance.  This place was a snip bit of the kingdom of heaven.  We arrived with children clinging to our sides, holding our hands, and embracing our hearts.  They gave all of their souls to us and opened up to us about their lives.  It was the seven most amazing days I’ve spent in regards to getting to know people.  Everything was pure and everything was genuine.  The “white people” (Americans) were stripped away of our cell phones, our laptops, clean water, HOT water for that matter, electricity, large meals, expensive clothes, and make up.  I don’t think I have ever felt more like myself than those two weeks.

I’m writing this in hopes that you feel as inspired as I do by the people we met in this tiny country.  I believe that these people live by the saying “What would Jesus do?”  They don’t care what you look like or where you came from they just want to love you and share with you their hearts.  I’ve never had so many hugs in my life and it is also normal to be holding hands while talking to someone.  As unusual as this may sound, I wish these were things that occurred here.  Also, even in the absence of owning any possessions, they always think about other people’s happiness before their own. Here are a few stories that may warm your heart:

During our first day of vacation bible school the morning started and all we wanted to do was herd the kids into their seats.  A few of our leaders found there weren’t enough seats so they decided to just stand by their group of kids.  During our morning one of the kids named Kemoh age 12 got up out of his chair and started to walk towards the stage.  Our instinct was that he was being incredibly rude by interrupting our lesson because not only did he get up, he hopped on the stage!  We looked around confused about what to do until three seconds later he was lugging two chairs in his hands with a grin from ear to ear.  We were floored by his sense of selflessness and I find myself wondering if I would ever think to do that especially as a kid!  This same child led prayers that brought me to tears because he thanked God for us.  Also at church we all remember him getting up to help guide a blind man to his seat.  These acts were a common thing, and I thank God that I got to witness them.

On New Year’s Eve our group attended the Methodist church that was right next to the Child Rescue Center.  We were greeted with warm handshakes and smiles and dancing and singing like you would never believe.  Church for them is almost like a party by praising God through their musical instincts.  I recommend ANYONE that is at all musically inclined to please visit an African country.  Their ability to naturally make beautiful music through their voices and drums is uncanny.  Anyways it was ten minutes until midnight and the minister asked us to bow our heads to pray.  The first thing he said was “Thank you Lord for bringing us from January 1st 2011 to January 1st 2012.” That line cut me real deep because it made us realize how close to death they really are.  Another year of life is precious and should be thanked.  After this the prayer was opened up to the people.  From all around I heard murmurs of people praying.  Some were loud and some were whispers but they all had the same meaning.  Thanks. They thanked God for everything in their life, for the love they had, and for a new year.  As my head was down I began to sob thinking about how many times I have complained about the most miniscule things.  And even when I did pray a lot of it was to ask God to help me in some sort of situation.  Yet for them in a life where it seems they have nothing, all they have is thanks. 

The next day we took a hike around Bo, where we stayed the whole week and a half, and took a tour of the “city.”  We saw all kinds of things and walked through the slums that were their normal streets.  Per usual we were hand in hand with our kids.  My tour guide in particular was Momoh, 11 years old with the most pure heart you have ever met.  He is a very quiet boy and he does not even live at the CRC, he just loves to come and hang out with all of us.  He was my tour guide and I loved holding his hand and sharing his home with him.  It was a walk that took a few hours and in the middle of African heat it was not easy.  I remember at one point he took my satchel with my camera out of my hands and at first I was a little caught off guard because I didn’t want him to take my camera.  Then he took my water, and I was incredibly thirsty from the hike so again I was a little set back.  He looked me in the eyes and said “I want to carry these for you so you can enjoy the walk.”By the way he was FASCINATED   with our cameras because they are very high tech in their eyes and I know he was probably thirstier than me, yet all he wanted to do was provide me with more enjoyment.  I drank some of the water but ended up giving him the rest and gave him some free range with my camera.  Momoh taught me what it really looks like to be humble, loving, and selfless.  I think about you every day Momoh, I love you.

To big Kemoh, Mariama, Cecilia, Abdulai, Ganda, my little kids: Joseph, Julie, and little Kemoh, Kabela, Idirissa, Rebecca, Mamie, the Mohammads, Johanese, Momoh, Saffe, Tikoh, Coi, Olsen, Ella, Aminata, all the Aunties, Hassan, Lansana, Alieu, and all the wonderful children I personally did not get enough time to spend with.  I love you to all the partners from the US that I traveled with and mis syou very much.  Thank you for changing our lives.  I hope that we can pass on the love and try to live more like you.

“Brethen let’s love one another for this is the commandment God gave us.” – The Reconciliation Song

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