Beauty in Strength

The first few months of 2016 have been transformational for me for a host of reasons, both personally and professionally. While work at SFH has picked up significantly and Wish for WASH has installed our first toilet, I have worked to grow myself on the personal front as well. Not that my professional developments haven’t required a lot from me personally, but a few months ago, I created a list of personal development goals that were much more intentional to building inner peace and strength.

Throughout my time in Zambia, I have learned more than ever that there is so much to life that is not under our control. And as someone who has always sought to retain control over my life–my space, my things, my relationships – this realization has been a huge shock to my system. I began to feel intensely uncertain about all aspects of my life and have become quelled by the reality that I no longer am in a controlled environment. I don’t live under my parent’s roof or go to school with X number of people, Y of which I would select and call friends or live the comfy lifestyle to which I became all too accustomed. I am thankful for my upbringing and my parents and everything I was blessed to have growing up, but I have officially left the nest; and rather than feeling aimless or confused, I have decided that I need to refocus my energy because its time for me to independently fly.

However, in order to fly, one must be strong—mind, body, and spirit—all of which I had admittedly neglected over the years as I lived close to family, friends, mentors, and communities of support who I knew would always help me if I really needed it. Putting 8,000 miles between me and most of those people made me realize that I needed to find my center again. So with that in mind, I created personal development goals for 2016:

Mind: Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not enjoy reading. Sparknotes were my friend growing up and I always claimed “poor design” when I couldn’t intuitively figure out how to use something without reading the directions. I have since recognized my paralyzingly childish views and that reading is not only necessary but can be such a beautiful addition to one’s life. With that notion, I have charged myself with the challenge to read more with support from people in my immediate reality (shoutout to Kalin) to help keep me remain accountable for this goal.

Body:  Once an athlete, always an athlete. Growing up, I was required to work out as part of my weekly list of chores. My ex-military parents instilled in me the notion that taking care of oneself physically is an important part of life and should be habitual. But then college happened and excuses happened. I dabbled here and there but didn’t commit myself to anything regular. Additionally, the horrendous eating habits that I developed while in college soon became my norm. Since moving to Zambia, I have been exposed to some incredible people who have taught me the basics of cooking and food safety (shoutout to Effie) because Ramen and Easy Mac cannot be my food of choice for life. With that notion, I have charged myself with the challenge to develop a routine workout regimen and learn how to consistently cook at least 2 dishes each week. So far, so good! I am the master of chicken stir fry!

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Spirit:  There is so much release that comes with tapping into one’s spiritual self. And I believe that I had made great strides in intentionally living my faith during college with my incredible friends and growing church community. Then I moved away and things changed. After our GHC Quarter 2 retreat in January, I realized that I needed to actively strengthen my inner spirit through more intentional growth in faith in addition to seeking experiences in which I know I will witness and connect with God. Going to church more regularly than I have in recent years and speaking the Gospel aloud within my communities of support has been a step in the right direction. But beyond that, I seek to create more as He has created me. With that notion, I have charged myself with the challenge to create more, in all forms—painting, drawing, speaking, dancing, empowering, inspiring, and more so as to further realize my faith in my daily life.

As a young twenty something millennial, I find that it is often hard to learn how to let go while also finding purpose and meaning in a new type of worldthe real world. But I have come to learn that there is incredible beauty in inner strength; a type of beauty that I now know equips us with the ability to fly with great strength and on our own amidst the tumultuous winds of life. By intentionally developing through these personal development goals, I believe that I will be able to become the best version of myself despite life’s hardships. This I know to be true.

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