Sunday, February 19, 2012

All it takes is a new perspective - If you are open....

Photograph by Dewey Kebert
Selam Children's Village Garden - Addis Ababa, Ehtiopia
Re-emerging into the world after hiding behind my passport these last two months has been a bit unsettling.  Nowhere new to be going, no major trip just around the corner. It was addicting. Now with no new language constantly running on my iPod or travel guide weighing down my darling green purse acquired in Milan last summer, I'm confused. Filled only with memories of the last adventure but with nothing new to distract from the inevitable question from friends I haven't seen in a while "How are you?"

When you start showing back up again in your old life after an emotional roller coaster, a journey, an adventure or two you can't help but feel changed. Understanding how and why is the challenge.

Last week I ran into a woman I'd coached briefly on the wiles of social media over six months ago. We met at a cafe I frequently visit to write and she noticed my blog on my screen. After checking it out, she cautiously approached and in a beautiful voice with hints of a Portuguese accent, asked me for help. Barbara wanted to hire someone to produce her blog. She'd been studying spiritualism and meditation and wanted to create a blog to explain to her friends in Brazil what she had learned. I encouraged her that instead of paying someone, to just do it herself! A couple clicks and she had a blogspot blog up and running - called Harmonia & Paz.

When Barbara sat down next to me two days after Valentine's Day and said "Summers, you have been traveling the world and I have been watching you! I had a gift for you in my purse for months. I just finally took it out. I didn't know if I would ever see you again" I invited her to stay and tell me about her last few months.

"I want you to know you changed my life. You inspired me, you changed my path and now my blog has a few thousand subscribers and I am writing a book. Without you, I never would have known how to start. I tell people, there's this girl who made this possible. Thank you."

Apparently over thirty years ago a spiritual teacher of hers had said she would someday return to Brazil to teach and now a few months shy of 70, she was doing just that. I had been her catalyst.

I was touched, moved - and a bit incredulous.

See on my way home that night I planned to hit up the market - pick up some Two Buck Chuck, (Cheap cheap red wine) day old Valentine's candy, (@ 50% off - thanks for reminding me Rex) Cat Food, (on special) light bulbs, (studying in the dark stinks) and search for a box of hair color in an attempt to freshen my summertime blonde (which usually fades come February and I currently can't afford to have professionally done). After that I was going to crack the books on a Finance class that entirely eludes me despite the fact I've sat through 18 hours of lecture and have a midterm in one week and get to work on a research plan for this fabulous project in Ethiopia that terrifies me.

How on earth could I possibly inspire anyone? Seriously! I couldn't have been more stuck that afternoon and I felt bad, as if I'd failed in my responsibility to be a source of inspiration and energy!

So when she asked me, "Summers, how are you?" I paused and then answered honestly.... a waterfall of excessive honesty.

"I've had tremendous adventures and seen incredibly powerful and meaningful things. I accidentally wrote a book about Kenya with a Navy Doctor I met on Twitter who was on The Bachelor that is being published next month and now may have the opportunity to write another one. But coming home is overwhelming and I'm definitely a bit lost. I lost a lot of friends due to my marriage falling apart and I'm a little afraid to be open anymore. I am startled by the magnitude of the impact we could have with our thesis project in Ethiopia and paralyzed by the fear that I'll just screw things up. I should get a formal job because nothing seems to be paying out and I'm fast approaching broke. And I can't seem to get past some anger or heartache. I don't really know what move to make next."

Barbara thought for a moment, smiled and said, "Not knowing what to do, doesn't mean you just stop. You need to be open. The answer is out there. Pay attention every day and think about what you learn. Your path is there - you just need to continue on it."

She then added - "How could you have possibly been married, you look 25???" Since I just turned 34, that also made me smile.

Alright that's fair. I was on a path for sure, but maybe I do need to re-adjust a little bit. Maybe we all do. A very good point indeed. When you are stuck, don't throw the whole journey out - instead take a moment to reflect. A teensy correction in direction.

Feb 6, 2012 - 6:30 AM
Newport Beach, CA
I've reset some goals. I've adjusted. I'm still going to knock out that next marathon and I am proud I finished the half on my birthday with a dear best friend. I may however have to start walking them really really fast versus run em (being 34 an all), and I haven't measured or weighed in weeks. Going to Ethiopia really can give perspective on the issue of weight loss. People say I look thin. I'm thinking I just dress better - but I'm holding steady.

And I am agreeing to be open. This path - that seems to be leading me towards a brilliant opportunity to help people - is going to require that I'm fit, strong, sane, and positive.

What challenge do you face? What do you need to be fit, strong, sane and positive for? We will all need support here and there, I'll ask for it, I'll give it - and together we'll likely re-direct again.

But for now..... I'll accept that even a girl who's part of the way through a box of chocolates, a glass of cheap red wine, with hair freshly "champagne fizzed", a finance excel sheet that is almost hilarious, and a research plan that needs another four hours of writing.....might actually be an inspiration to someone.

You never know who you might inspire,
who you might change,
and who might change you. 

Be open.

Photograph by Marylou Habecker
Yetebon, Ethiopia

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

A Power Blonde Gets Camera Ready - 1 Min - 5 Minute Makeover Not much more too it than that! Here's how I go from just a wee bit mid workday drab, to super camera cute for appearances like the ones on Huff Post Live! It's a five minute job if you start with the right tools. I'm a Laura Mercier and Nars kinda girl!