Thursday, January 13, 2011

What You See is What You Get

Here it is, the second week in January and I am still struggling with finding my true North. Good thing I wasn't sucked into the New Year's Resolution Vortex because I would have already been shot out the bottom of the tube and trampled by all the Suzy Sunshine's who are keeping their resolutions. Not that I want to come across as cynical, resolutions can give you the kick in the ass jumpstart you might need to read a book, lose 20 pounds or stop yelling at your kids. However, experience has taught me that resolutions are fraught with the fire starters of failure. I think it's the whole sit on the couch with your face buried in the Ben & Jerry's up until the witching hour. If you really need to change or improve something significant in your life, like your health, your relationships, your work why can't you do it on say….February 6th, or April 27th or any day in December. Why must it be the first? If I didn't start on the first must I wait until January 1, 2012? It seems all rather contrived to me. If you need to do something, change something, make a big life alteration isn't it best if you just get busy doing it? Even if it's May 30th? I'm not saying this simply because I procrastinated (although I still am) on establishing my resolutions and feel the pressure to jump on the bandwagon of people falling off. I just want people, this actually refers directly to me as a people, to live their life everyday doing the best they can, taking care of themselves, living lives of higher expectations, loving more and leaping off that ledge into the unknown a bit more. I think we would all be a bit happier.

I was thinking about my life and goals today as I was walking around Nairobi. Yes, we are back to the free for all madness that is driving in Nairobi. Since I decided on January 10th, to try and be a bit more serene, and not throw so many F-bombs driving in Nairobi is out between 7:00 – 9:00 and 12:00 – 14:00 and 16:00 – 20:00 and all day on the last Friday of the month. Why the last Friday of the month? Everyone gets paid and puts fuel in their cars that have sat for a few days to a week and they drive because they can. I do not make this up, it is Africa. Back to my goals…. Years ago, I was the consummate goal maker, from 10 years broken down to 10 minutes. Today I'm thinking, I will be unemployed in March living in Africa and have absolutely no idea what my next goal is. Realistically, you really don't need so many goals once you pare down your life so everything can fit in two suitcases. I don't need to make much money to survive. I work for plane tickets. I don't buy things because I have learned you really can do with very little and still be amazingly happy. For example, I just returned from three weeks traveling in Rwanda, across the entire country of Tanzania, across the Indian Ocean, out to Zanzibar and then back. I was on the back of a motorcycle and I had one pack. In that pack I had one pair of jeans, a t-shirt, my bikini, two pairs of panties, an extra pair of socks, flip flops and a Kikoy (a Kenya hand woven large cloth that can double as a blanket, towel, skirt, shawl, pillow, dress) and a baggie of medications which took up way too much room but grateful for the aspirin, Imodium and Neosporin! Do you have any idea how easy your life becomes when you let go of all the baggage? What if you let go of all your mental baggage too? Seeing Africa from the back of a motorcycle is amazing. I would trade my former 30 pairs of shoes again, to drive through a game park on a motorcycle seeing elephants and giraffe right beside me on the road.

All this is not to say I have lost my ambition and drive, to the contrary. I just have redirected it to things that have more meaning….for me. When we are all about to take our last breath will we be thinking about the big house we had or the fancy cars or nice clothes? No, we will be thinking about the experiences we had in life and the people we shared them with. No one is going to remember that I wore the same two t-shirts for two weeks during December 2010. They will remember how much we laughed after we got all five motorcycles on the deck of the passenger ferry to Zanzibar!

I have expectations and goals this year. The cycling Team in Rwanda is my focus. I need to raise money for them. I need to raise money to see Gasore go to Switzerland this spring to race in Europe. These are big goals, goals that scare the bejesus out of me. I have never had to do anything like this and frankly the task seems daunting, no, the task seems like a Bull Elephant running me down on the road. It's monstrous, yet vitally important. Too many lives hinge on what we are capable of accomplishing.

People sometimes don't understand the amount of passion we have for what we do with the Team. The passion is often played out among the daily frustrations of living in a place like Rwanda. The lack of resources both capital and human, the uphill battle of poor nutrition and the developmental delays that are evident even in these young men today are mind numbing and crushing some days. This is what we are up against. My goal is to ease the financial strain and find the staff we so desperately need to help all of us keep our sanity.

One thing I will never resolve to do whether it's on January 1 or any other day of the year is to change my core personality. I know that I'm not on everyone's list of favorite people. I admit I am a bit outspoken, opinionated and demanding. Frankly, I'm okay with that because I always have the best interest of others at heart. I will continue fighting for the underdog, that's just the way I'm wired. At the core of my personality is an immense heart and a drive to do the right thing. For some, it is too much and that's okay that is why we are all different. There's this great quote by Marianne Williamson:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

It sits above my desk and I read it every day. All I ask from everyone from my friends, my family, any one reading this is don't hide the light that is inside you. If that light scares others, illicit ridicule or passive aggressive attacks that is their problem, not yours. You were made to be great, do not shrink because it makes others uncomfortable. We were all born to be great, we just need to find out what that greatness is and make it come alive. Resolve this one thing this year, today. Its okay, I know it's the 13th, you can still resolve to be great today.

What you see is what you get….with me. I will always be brutally honest and horribly politically INcorrect and will continue from this point until the day I fade away. I guess that's my January 13th resolution…to just keep living this life and enjoying the adventure and doing it all with a spirit of love….as long as I don't have to drive the last Friday of the month in Nairobi.


 


 


 

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