Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh the Difference a year Makes....or not...

It's crazy to think I have spend my 2nd Thanksgiving, birthday, Christmas and soon New Years' in Senegal. That is not a complaint. Do you remember what last Christmas looked like?

Same but different, I think my feet are more clean now though.

I know Minnesota was recordly cold for the last few weeks and I'm glad to be sitting here while the weather here has it's own mood swings. In a week it went from high of 90's, then rained the other day, and today it might be 70 degrees.

Strangely talking about the weather is very much part of the culture here as it is in the Midwest. And I am constantly asked if things that exist here also are in the United States. It's kinda a fun game until they don't believe you that it exists outside of their world or the world they think they know isn't reality. I'm not here to burst there bubble. It is much easier to give them a Time magazine and flip through it and ask questions.

Back to the matters at hand....
I have been following up on year of end reports, lists, goals for the year to come for myself and my work here AND thinking about what happens when this next year is over. I know I have control over nothing and these are simply thoughts but " Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits,  Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” 

If only I could get this across to everyone else here, right? Maybe, some days. Things change here albet slowly. I have seen it. I know that me being the first volunteer, white person, woman, to live in my village has made people think, sometimes mad (I know I can be infuriating and or stubborn) but also change over the last year. It's quite interesting and hopeful.

Via www.kfoleywellness.com

Thoughts over the past year.

  •  The idea I had before coming here of what I wanted to do and why I came here, is still just an idea. An ever changing, learning, edited idea of what can or could be done while trying to simply be here, today, now. 
  •  This so much as been something eluding to this: 
    • “the year of letting go, of understanding loss. grace. of the word ‘no’ and also being able to say ‘you are not kind’. the year of humanity/humility. when the whole world couldn’t get out of bed. everyone i’ve met this year, says the same thing ‘you are so easy to be around, how do you do that?’. the year i broke open and dug out all the rot with own hands. the year i learnt small talk. and how to smile at strangers. the year i understood that i am my best when i reach out and ask ‘do you want to be my friend?’. the year of sugar, everywhere. softness. sweetness. honey honey. the year of being alone, and learning how much i like it. the year of hugging people i don’t know, because i want to know them. the year i made peace and love, right here.”- Warsan Shire   
  • "Peace Corps is like going through puberty all over again. It sucks but it gets better." Quote from fellow RPCV. I have a tendency to think that this life is a mini-life, I have flash backs from childhood here or having to explain American life brings up things you might not have thought of. Its a strange re-living of things.
  • Learned to be smaller than I ever have wished I could be. I tried to be silent, passive,invisible, that didn't work especially when I live with a ethnic group that is anything but. Now I learned to be quiet, simple, polite when I want to be anything but.
  • "Babies were born to friends, friends were lost to illness. It was a big year. But every year is a big year. Every day is a big day. That is what we realize when we are older. That we are lucky enough—and that is all it is, plain dumb luck—to be here makes it a big day, a big year. "
  • Inchallah and slowing to the moment, realizing that here, now is important than later. And then throwing it all out the window. If I want/need/plan I also know that I can "f*ck inchallah" and just get it done rather than waiting on fatalism to have it's way. I also had a conversation saying inchallah is only a Senegalese thing, Americans have no need for this as we just get things done.
  •  No matter how many books you read, thankfully there are MORE books to read.
  • "The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming." Cheryl Strayed via Sarah Wilson
  • Strangely being in a culture that thinks every woman's only job is to have children does NOT make you want to have them even more. Or be married. 
  • My diet has changed where most protein I eat is either fish, beans, eggs and rarely chicken or other meat (goat usually). I cherish vegetables like nothing else, especially green peppers, carrots and squash. Coffee and coke where once staples but I am off of coffee and maybe will let go of the coke, but with real sugar it's entirely different. Only other processed foods I eat are chocolate, coke, mayonnaise, ketchup laughing cow "cheese" and nesquick.
  •  "While there may be exceptions (as there are with everything), most people who become vagabonds, nomads, and wanderers do so because they want to experience the world, not escape some problem. We travel to experience life and live on our own terms.
    Life is short, and we only get to live it once. I want to look back and say I did crazy things, not say I spent my life in an office, reading travel blogs, and wishing I was exploring the world." -via thoughtcatalog.com
  • The journey changes you - it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you… Hopefully, you leave something good behind. Anthony Bourdain via That Kinda Of Woman
  • Stolen from another volunteer's blog:
    • 9. The whole village raises the child.
      10. I am that child.
      11. They’re poor, they’re not stupid.
      12. A month in the Peace Corps is equivalent to a year in my twenties; the more I’ve accumulated to reflect on, the more I realize I hadn’t the slightest idea what I was talking about or doing…
      13. And who I am today is a direct result of continually pretending I do, which is both horrifying and amusing.

  • "Be patient with yourself and others, Do you and not someone else. Take care of you and what's important to you. Be brave, happy and beloved, loving, remember who you are and where you want to go" -A letter written to myself a year ago after I became a volunteer
Overall am I a better person here than I am in America? Some days, some days worse. Did I come here to do what I wanted to do? I think so, but it has changed or maybe my mindset did. Is this next year going to be better than the first? You better believe it!

I'm blessed to live in a very beautiful, diverse, and "rich" area in Senegal and would like to believe it's a reason why I am honestly so happy here and with what I do. Along with all the thoughts, prayers, blessings from all my loved ones all over the world.

I hope all of you have a safe, blessed, happy, healthy new year and many more days to come.

May the sun bring you energy by day, 
may the moon softly restore by night, .
may the rain wash away your work, 
may the breeze blow new strength into you being, 
may you walk gently though the world and know the beauty of all the days in your life.

Monday, December 23, 2013

"If you still talk about it - you still care about it."

"I think it's intoxicating when somebody is so unapologetically who they are."

"As I grow older, I pay less attention to what people say. I just watch what they do."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

""I am gone quite mad with the knowledge of accepting the overwhelming number of things I can never know, places I can never go, and people I can never be.""

- Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"1. Don't ever tell anyone they look tired.
2. Help people, and if you offer to help someone, follow though.
3. Be kind to people who work in retail and food service.
4. Let someone know you're not interested.
5. Actually "hang out sometime."
6. Be a little more honest.
7. Stop calling each other mean names on the internet.
8. Send more letters (not emails) and gifts.
9. Give more genuine complements.
10. Have more patience while waiting in lines."

- Almie Rose, 10 Little Things We Can Do To Make Life Easier For Each Other 
""A great future doesn't require a great past.""

- William Chapman

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kind."

- Dalai Lama

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"There is no designated time for anything in your life. You don't have
to have your first kiss at any certain time, you don't have to get
married in your 20′s and you don't have to do anything just because
other people think it's best. In fact, you will be much better off if
you just do what your heart says. The day you stop caring what other
people think is the day their opinions don't mean anything, because
you're not there to give them weight."

- 10 Things I Wish I Could Have Told Myself 5 Years Ago
"You never need to apologize for how you chose to survive." - Clementine von Radics

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

- African proverb

Friday, December 6, 2013

""Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't
edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most
intense obsessions mercilessly.""

- Franz Kafka
"Let someone love you just the way you are – as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as unaccomplished as you think you are. To believe that you must hide all the parts of you that are broken, out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room."

- Marc Hack
"Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naive pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you."

- Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things
"Life is not somewhere waiting for you, it is happening in you. It is not in the future as a goal to be arrived at, it is herenow, this very moment — in your breathing, circulating in your blood, beating in your heart. Whatsoever you are is your life, and if you start seeking meaning somewhere else, you will miss it. Man has done that for centuries."

- Osho