Don’t Panic!

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Hello, Bonjour,

Something I’ve been saying a lot the last few hours as I try to get adjusted to the cultural and language difference here in Madagascar. I use the word “try” because it has definitely felt like work for me.

Air travel by myself was the easy pert, very little language barrier anywhere, excellent hospitality and even better, a ton of room on the flights. Upon my arrival in Antananarivo, however, I had an astonishing realization. This was the first time in my life where I have really felt alone. I have no one travelling with me (yet) and I have a bit of a language barrier, not to mention how overwhelmingly different life is here.

I’ve watched documentaries and television programs about parts of the world similar to this, but have only ever traveled in “first world” nations. Once the initial uneasiness wears off I’m excited to explore some of the many tastes and sights of this country but for now I can’t help but miss home a little bit.

After spending the last few months with intense support and love shown to me by so many amazing people in my efforts to make this journey to Madagascar possible, I’m now on the opposite corner of the world feeling very opposite emotions. I’ve been in this country less than 12 hours and I already miss my family, miss Eric, miss my friends and wish my goodbye hugs were longer

The good news is, this will pass, not the missing of people, but the feeling of loneliness. It’s been a big realization for me how much I depend on my relationships with people, but maybe took that dependence for granted more than I thought. I may be in Madagascar away from everything I know but I am so very excited about the opportunity to keep in touch with all of you via my updates.

One of my good friends said to me before I left, “You get the opportunity to head on a journey that many of us won’t often get the opportunity to do, but it feels like we all get the chance to go with you.” This is something i remind myself of constantly, thinking of all of you alongside me. The picture at the top of the post was taken in the Johannesburg airport and I thought it’s words fit perfectly with the sentiment of this post.

I feel as though I’m in process similar to those at one of the personal development workshops or camps I frequently volunteer at. Being put in a place of emotional and physical vulnerability to be able to release stuff I’ve been holding on to, and rebuild. I guess this is necessary work if I plan to be fully present for the next 2 months of being here.

Sending a TON of love and gratitude your way and I’m looking forward to the next update!!

(Update: I went into the city today to explore for a few hours on my own. The taxi driver I was with decided to put on music, and I smiled, was thrilled, and put to ease as one of my favorite songs came on, putting to music exactly what I needed to hear. See Below. )

Fightin’ Round the World…

…Not really though. But much like Russel Crowe’s spoofed characterization in an infamous South Park episode, intention is everything.

As i sit here in Heathrow airport awaiting my flight to Johannesburg, on only 7 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours, i can’t help but smile that the most uncomfortable part of my journey so far has simply been that lack of sleep. Allow me to elaborate a little.

Living on the West coast of Canada, some of the best places nearby to visit are in the United States, and as such I have frequently flown in the states. Those of you familiar with flying in the United States (or simply crossing the boarder from time to time) know that the screening processes for entering the country can be a little…stern at times. Being so familiar with the security processes they put into place for air transportation, I was expecting the same treatment internationally because, lets face it, terrorists can be from anywhere, right?

I was so happy to be blindsided by some of the most polite and hospitable security agents I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Offering tissues after tearful goodbyes, walking elderly people patiently through the screening process and apologizing for the inconvenience of having to search bag and even promising to keep the process as swift as possible for the eager travelers.

This experience reminded me of an article i read recently of a writer’s attempt to travel from Montreal to New Orleans in lieu of his late father’s love for jazz and the French Quarter. In this article he describes in great detail the treatment he received from border agents because he had previously visited parts of the world that these uneducated boarder guards deemed unsavory. Long story short, after hours and hours of being detained, searched, interrogated and threatened, he was denied entry into the country and vowed to “Never travel within the United States again.”

This is a great example of not only how controlling fear can be for an individual, but how it can affect relationships with others. It’s the same on a personal and global level.

those-were-the-droids

I now complete this entry from a hotel room in Madagascar where I can still say with assurance that I still agree with my previous thoughts above. Heading into a “third world” nation [side note: I’m not sure I like that term, nor do i like the term “underdeveloped.” Content for future blog updates i guess?] like this, or even through South Africa where political unrest was not unheard of, I was surprised at how comfortable the entry process was. Walked up with my Visa, got a “Merci!” and away I went.

The reason I share this entry? moreover a simple insight i noticed from traveling through 4 countries & 3 continents int he span of 2 days. The world is smaller than we think, and the way we relate to our brothers and sisters around the globe says a lot about who we are.

We Are Active Participants

“When it comes down to it, it’s pretty simple. Adventure is what you make it. And whether it’s the travel, the discovery, or just the feeling of letting go, the only way we will ever find out is to get out there and do it. Enjoy the ride.” – Travis Rice

7 days from now, I’ll be boarding an airplane and heading to Madagascar, and I’m reminded of how quickly time does indeed fly. This trip is something that as been on my heart for 3 years, always rolling in the back of my head. It seems like just yesterday when I shared with the world my decision to head to the opposite side of the world to do volunteer work there that means a lot to me, and my need for support in order to get there.

These last few months have been some of the most humbling, heart opening, and also celebratory months of my life. Witnessing just how much we are all part of a global community, and we want to see nothing but the best for one another and that the experiences we all have are affecting those that bear witness to them. It’s the reason we become so upset by death, destruction, famine or injustice but it’s also the reason we smile with playful children, cheer for an athlete and watch uplifting videos and photos shared through social media. We see a little bit of our own personalities, relationships and experiences in the faces and lives of other people (and animals/environment) and it’s what makes us all interconnected.

When I started fundraising for my trip to Madagascar, I had to move through many feelings of guilt. Why would people want to donate money so I can head to the other side of the world? The answer, I thought, was that I simply need to provide them with value so it becomes worth what they donate, so I came up with as many “rewards” for donating as possible. I felt this was the best way to create value that was budgetable for me in exchange for money. These rewards are fun and many people were excited about them, but i learned something else through this process…..

I was able to learn exactly what was valuable to people. By speaking what was on my heart about this trip, the work I wanted to do and why this was so important to me…..people wanted to show support regardless. I found 2 important lessons for myself through this experience. One, that we are supported. Each one of us has support systems in our lives (whether we are aware of it or not) that see the best in us and want to help support us to see the best in ourselves. The second is that everything we do and say has an affect, and it’s up to us to choose the type of affect we wish to have on the world.

The Most Astounding Fact.....

The Most Astounding Fact…..

We are all members of a global community and what we put in is what we get out. This is karma. Many treat the idea of karma as a points system rather than the enlightenment that an individual knows what they contribute has an effect, and that effect can come full circle. This is one of the reasons that the work that I do with my Mom’s workshops, because it teaches us that we all have a role to play in this world and no matter how big or small that role is, it is important to the successes of the globe as a whole and it doesn’t matter if it’s scrubbing toilets, making airplanes, painting or passing bills.

Through this knowledge, I feel as if I have found new value in the experiences I’ll be having and it makes me all the more excited to share those experiences with all of you through photography and through this blog.

The next time you’ll hear from me I may be in a different country, experiencing new sights, sounds and people but it will still feel like home…I’ve simply entered a new room…..I’ll be back for dinner. 😛