Thursday, April 1, 2010

What I Have Learned About Life....

Life continues to be an up and down roller coaster, but isn't that true for all of us? That is what makes life....LIFE.

Since I have been thinking a lot about the choices I have made that have brought me to this point, I figured I would share how I got here and what I have learned along the way. In my never ending search for adventure and living outside the box, I have begun to look back inside the "box" as a point of reference for my life.

What I have Learned...

The natural color of my hair is gray. People used to ask me all the time if I knew what the natural color of my hair was. I have spent the last 27 years coloring my hair. When I was 16 it was all about lemon juice and peroxide. As I grew older, it became more about redefining myself and not getting comfortable with any one look. I have been a blonde (my preferred color), brunette, redhead...yikes not my best look...two toned, or as my friends called it, the Porn Star Hair, and even deep purple, that was a self coloring accident! Why is the color important to me? My hair and my life is now stripped of everything that was ornamental. I am 43 and I am gray. I cannot hide that any longer. I need to embrace the fact that yes, I am aging whether I like it or not. I also realize that like my hair, I do not necessarily like all that I see now that the "color" has been stripped away. There is no hiding behind the color of my hair or my life. Either that OR, I just need to get myself back to my girl Rheana, in the US for a cut and color!

Never take the relationships you have in life for granted. I thought I did a better job at this, however, the past couple of years I truly have left a good amount of carnage in my wake. I thought I was always grateful to the people around me who loved me. I told them most of the time how much I appreciated them from my cycling friends who have continued to support my desire to make a difference in the lives of Rwandans to my family who I appreciate for always encouraging me to be, do and live large. However, what I am realizing the longer I spend away from them is how much I neglected these relationships. How in my quest to "Live Large" I tended to forget the simple connections with people who cared about me.

I received an email from my mom yesterday telling me how my dad has started mentioning to people how much he misses me. I know he is so proud of me living this incredible life in Africa. I know he sits back and is thankful that he, as an uneducated, fork lift mechanic, raised two daughters who have accomplished so much in life (My sister is a doctor so she totally TRUMPS me!) However, at this point, I just want to give my dad and mom a big hug and just have dinner with them. Our contact over the last year has been a handful of emails and a couple of Skypes, when they can figure out how to work their computer and camera! The most important relationship in shaping who I am today has been one of the most neglected.

And then...there's the relationship with my ex...my ex husband, the person who has known me the longest outside my family and still cares...hmmm....that explanation will have to wait for another blog.....


Cher is right...You only have to answer to two people in life...God and yourself!
I seem to have an issue with seeking approval from people in life whose approval really does not matter in the grand scheme of things. There is this great segment from Rudy (all time favorite movie), that features Rudy talking with the groundskeeper at Notre Dame. Rudy had just quit the team because he was not put on the final dress out roster of the season, his last season of eligibility. Rudy says, "I wanted to run out of that tunnel for my dad, to prove to everyone that I was somebody." The groundskeeper, who had quit the team years before due to perceived "slights" told him, "You don't have to prove nothing expect to yourself and if you haven't done that already it ain't never going to happen!"



For some reason, I had been focused on approval from my board. I wanted them to see my passion for what I was doing here. I wanted them to be as invested as I was in the cause. When the article came out in Women's Adventure Magazine a couple of weeks ago I was excited to hear their response. I had been fortunate enough to work with the editor so I knew the story was accurate and reflected the good of Project Rwanda. WAM also gave more space to featuring the specifics of the Project. And you know what happened, nothing...zero...no response, no "Atta Girl!", nothing. I took it personally, why do they not care about all the good I have been trying to do over here? I had told Mark about not hearing anything from the board when he asked about the response from the article. He sent me this video and like in the video when Charles Dutton reminds Rudy he is 5 foot nothing....Mark reminded me I am a mechanic's daughter from Kansas. I do not have a degree. I did not grow up privileged. I have had to scrap and fight for everything in life and in the meantime I have led an amazing life.

What the board thinks means nothing...the fact that I have made a difference and hopefully inspired a few people along the way and lived my life in such a way that I can be proud of it in the eyes of myself and God...that's pretty much it. Cher was right.

Crappy wine is best bought as cheaply as possible. Why pay more for a bottle if you can get the same crappy wine in a box for two thirds the price?
I have no philosophical ramblings about this, it just is a matter of economics.

The unconditional love of a dog should be our model in life. When I have struggled over the past months, I go curl up with Zulu and all is right with the world. He just wants to be loved and how can you not help love this saggy skinned, slobbery, massive pawed, fish smelling non stop growing creature! (The smell of fish is from him eating the only food available here, dried tiny sardine looking fish. He has the most rain repelling coat from all the natural oils, but there is a definite scent of fish to him). Dogs, if we could all be more like dogs the world would be better. There would be no road rage, no depression, no pettiness to others. We would just all wag our tails and wait for some love. Zulu is smart. He knows when I am sad, even depressed. He just looks at me with those big brown eyes, with the little junk of paper he dug out of the trash dangling from his jowl, and turns his head and leans up against me. Damn, he's good!

Rainy Season sucks, but it does end. It has pretty much rained every day for the last couple of weeks. It is rainy season. At first it was nice to lay in bed and listen to it rain, especially in the afternoon with the electricity out. Today, it sucks! I want to ride with Johnny and Molly and it will not stop raining. My clothes are in a potential state of dampness and are infested with little chigger like bugs because they never truly dry, which would kill those little flesh eating insects. In a couple of months it will end. The season will be over and the sun will shine for several months. Isn't that what life is really like? All we can hope for is a little more sun than rain, but the rain we do experience helps us grow and hopefully when the sun does return we truly shine. But could it just stop raining for our ride in 30 minutes!

So...this is life...

...oh...and when living in a third world country, Do NOT drink the water!




Women's Adventure Magazine