It’s RehabTime

@TrentShelton, I just returned from Haiti. If I had a smart phone with international data, I would have tagged you then. Instead, I’m writing almost a week later. #RehabTime #OneLove #Blessed

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The fight we are fighting internally, to be a better version of ourselves, is not the only thing we need to focus on and fight for. When we’re aware of our own fight, we also realize the fight others are fighting. While I was in Haiti, I noticed and respected the fight they were all fighting. It’s their personal fight to become the better version of themselves. There is absolutely no way I can know their story, of course, but they were all fighting to see another successful day. Every single one of them had some kind of thought throughout their day about a fight they’re fighting.

This realization is why I smiled at everyone. I prayed when we drove through a large group of people who were mourning the death of a close member in their society. In doing so, I made some kind of connection with those I made eye contact with and shared space with. In every interaction, I was 100% real. I have fought my fight for long enough that I was able to shed my outer shields and be real all the time. My realness is intense. I’m bold. I’m passionate. I may have been a little difficult to handle sometimes; but I was real!

This allowed people to see me for me. I believe they knew they were getting the realness of Jo. They knew I wasn’t hiding. It made some confident in me. The only reason they like me is simply because I love myself. Because I have worked so hard to be a better version of myself, people have noticed and I’ve been able to brighten their lives – even if it was for a split second.

It’s #RehabTime

I’ve been through my own rehab and I am ready to be part of the encouragement committee for those who are just starting their rehab or still fighting their fight. Where do I go from here? I will continue to do me and I will continue to be a better version of myself. It’s not really a fight anymore. I’ve let go of ego and I’ve learned to love it. I’ve lost. I’ve shed so much. I’m ready to move forward. I’m ready to up my game. I’m ready to be about it instead of talking about it. I’m ready! Sharing this with everyone is simply my way of letting y’all know that I’m ready to listen. I’m ready to share life with you. I’m willing, and quite able to help. Let’s work together

#OneLove
#Blessed

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I’m back from Haiti a changed woman, indeed

This shouldn’t be too long of a blog. Keep in mind this is a rough draft and won’t be edited in the future. Typo’s and run on sentences will happen – deal with it! J My trip to Haiti was mind blowing. The only expectation I had was to come back a changed woman; and, I sure have! I have over a dozen topics to touch upon so the coming blogs will focus around these topics on an individual basis. I am still processing and dealing with some emotions so I am unable to clearly articulate what my opinion is about it. Also, I’m writing my senior thesis paper, so that’s going to take up a lot of my writing time. All I know is that I am brainstorming and processing my personal accomplishments and they’re starting to become increasingly prominent in my thoughts. I find myself writing about me while I’m trying to explain a specific section of my paper.

What I will share with you now is that my life has changed. My view has changed. The culture shock I have experienced has been mostly coming back to the states. Honestly, I felt more at home there then I did here. The people I met took me in as if I was their family. I’ve missed my family gatherings and considering it’s the holiday season, I’ve been thinking about our Bruno traditions that I haven’t celebrated in 4 years – maybe longer! Before I left for Haiti, I thought about how much I miss my aunt and grandmother. They would be so proud of me – They are proud of me! Considering I thought and spoke of them so often, I don’t doubt they were with me on my travels. The Haitian family culture is exactly what I’ve missed in my own family. At the same time, however, I am so grateful to have been received into their family as quickly as I was.

The intimate connections I made with the family we traveled with are more rewarding than any service work I did. I played with the kids, yeah, and it was fun, but it was no different from playing with kids here. There was nothing special about it. There was nothing special about the work we did either. There wasn’t a moment when I said, “Yeah, I’m doing a great thing” when it wasn’t in direct collation with something I did or said with the family. The reasons I thought I was going to Haiti were not the reasons at all. I thought I was going to do some much needed service work for a group of children who, I guess, I assumed were orphans. However, they weren’t. Yeah, there were children who were obviously poor and suffering from insufficient food. I saw children with rotted teeth, holes in their clothing, dirty bodies and even physical disabilities. Overall, however, they were just kids. I didn’t have a motherly reaction to any of them like I thought I would.

Honestly, I don’t know why that is either. That’s something I need to further explore later. I don’t know why I connected with this family on the level that I did. I don’t know why I came back to my reality in Oregon only to find that I am unhappy. I don’t know why I had to travel hundreds of miles to express myself on certain matters. I have no idea why I am filled with so much love and compassion that it makes me sick sometimes. LOL! I seriously feel like I should be in the Disney movie Snow White when she’s talking to the birds, squirrels and critters of the forest. There’s a constant ditty in my head and I slightly feel like my face won’t stop smiling. When I walk, there’s a slight feeling of floating. Where is all of this coming from? It’s a combination of things, I know!

Seriously, I was able to celebrate the last full moon of the 2013 calendar year in Haiti with unexpected company. This new years is significant too; there’s a new moon on new years. That hasn’t happened in 19 years, I think. It’s not something that happens often and it’s believed to be the start of a brand new. I have let go of so much in the last year. I’m finding new things to fill the void from letting go of stuff – and people. This is, indeed, a new beginning!

I pray that you, the reader, finds peace, love, and bright beautiful blessings in as many moments as you can throughout your life. It truly is a beautiful thing, life! There is so much we take for granted. There are too many things we hold value to when, really, there is no value in them. The one thing I’ve learned is the only real thing we can put value on is the love and compassion we have for others. The love I share with people and the passion I feel toward some people is what I hold valuable in my life. I hold those connections true to me. I want to make more of those connections. I want to share more with them. I want to express and share my gifts. I want to learn their gifts. I want to encourage them. I want to be encouraged. I want more …

Life Changing Trip

On December 12, 2013, I will board a plane in Portland, Oregon and head to Miami, Florida. From there, I will go to Port-au-Prince, Haiti where I will spend nine days. This is the first time I’ve ever traveled out of the U.S., and really, it’s the first time I’ve traveled out of the West Coast. Honestly, I cannot put into words how I feel about traveling to Haiti. I’m an extremely passionate person and everything I do has some kind of deep meaning for me.

This particular service-learning trip is going to introduce me to millions of things I never knew existed. Yeah! I’ve read scholarly articles, books and I’ve learned some history of Haiti, but that is not going to prepare me for my time there. I may think I know what to expect, but I’m trying hard not to have unrealistic expectations. All I know for sure is that there’s a group of 10 going to Haiti. We’ve been meeting weekly all fall term and we have built quite a strong, interesting group. We will work together. We will communicate, have fun, and share an experience of a lifetime. I expect to build relationships with the people I go on this trip with. I expect to be safe, not get in trouble and come home in one piece. I expect to change.

The overall purpose of the trip is to help a small community strengthen their homes and lives. We will work with an orphanage, so I expect to play with many kids. I will also use this trip as my senior project. My choice of study, while attending WOU, is anthropology; cultural anthropology to be exact. I will take many notes and have many opportunities for photos. I am unsure what my thesis is or how I am going to write about this experience, but I’ve been brainstorming and I believe, while I’m there, my topic will present itself.

On a more personal note, this trip has the purpose of self-growth and inner-connectedness. Like I said, I’m a very passionate person and no matter what I get involved in, I tend to turn it into a spiritual experience; it’s usually a growing opportunity I encourage. I want to learn more about myself and about the world, so I soak in all that I can. I process quickly and deep. I believe this trip is going to guide me toward my dreams and life passions. I believe I am going to learn a lot about myself. I believe I am going to realize more of my strengths and notice more of my weaknesses.

This trip will provide another foundation for me to build on. I’ve always wanted to travel and since this is my first big trip, I’m going to be introduced to international travels. Excitement doesn’t even begin to explain how I feel about traveling internationally. I will have my passport stamped for the first time. I will set foot on land I’ve never set foot on before. I will fly over water I’ve never seen. I will see a way of life I never knew existed. I will write more when I return!