toward the ledge:

changing the world thru loving and serving others. without agenda


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i’ll follow the path of my heart and make my life a work of art

this evening’s post will take a bit of different direction. i hope that you will enjoy it. hmmm, is that what i want you to do? enjoy? maybe i want you to have a better understanding of me, but perhaps i also desire that the message will reach out to someone reading it as well that needs to hear it. so….here goes!

i have often described myself as a seeker. do you consider yourself a seeker? for instance, do you find yourself trying to find your purpose, even if you may or may not use that same word? i consider that my definition of seeking, although i’m always seeking a better way, new ideas, and a way to understand why things are. so there are tentacles of that definition i suppose.

for me? what am i a seeker of? my sense of self, purpose, my mission. sometimes, i think that i should be old enough to know what this answer is. and i get frustrated. but as life changes, i find that i also change and my awareness also changes. i also seek authenticity. peace. true love. spirituality. how i can best make a difference for those close to me and for the greater good. things like that. i strive not to believe that i know everything or that everything that i’ve been taught is the end all be all. that just maybe there is something else to learn. (yes, i’m a lifelong learner!)

as it happens, when you are in the seeking mode – information, people, resources, and inspiration are thrust into your periphery as you need it. seeking led me to my upcoming trip to africa. which i believe will lead me to answers to many of the previous questions of serving the greater good, purpose, peace, authenticity. and probably way more than i counted on.

this week, one of my fav inspirations that crossed my path was a song by claudia carawan. she has written several that ‘spoke’ to me but one of them i have now claimed as my current ‘theme’ song. i hope that you will enjoy it, maybe you will think – yep, that’s deb – and perhaps it will be inspirational to you as well. you might even find another song from claudia’s lineup that becomes ‘your’ song. her song helps lift me up on my work for authenticity.

i claim this song, these words and this energy, for i am fearless.

well, i am trying to be fearless, at least. the decisions that i have made to follow my inward voice and the path of my heart result in risks and consequences that then force me to face up to my ability to be real and authentic. these risks/consequences are not small and i don’t take them lightly. will i be woman enough, fearless enough, faithful enough to do what i have to do? to do what i know i’m led to do? to let go without a safety net?

i admit that this is honestly going to be the test of my life. making that leap. i know in my heart i am meant to do this but wowza, it’s still a test of faith.

please read the words. please listen to the song. say a prayer for me or keep me in your thoughts. i’m truly committed to this and i knew some tough moments would be coming and i think i’m in one of those moments.

asante sana! ninakunpenda! (thank you and love you in swahili)

for claudia’s music and info
fearless on youtube

fearless
words/music; music claudia carawan / copyright august 2008 heart over the bar publishing

i was born to live life fully to let go of regret
to walk the high wire of life without a safety net
to follow something even bigger than my pride
to show up with courage even when i’m trembling inside

i will not worry about what others think of me
i will not be shackled by the chains of conformity
i’ll break the mold set in the past, keep pushing till i’m free at last
i’ll follow the path of my heart and make my life a work of art
call me fearless… i am fearless

i’ll follow the road to adventure everywhere
let the top down and the wind tangle up my hair
hitch my dreams onto the brightest star
on the trapeze of life, i’ll throw my heart over the bar

on the other side of fear lies euphoria and a greater understanding of who you really are
i’ll break the mold set in the past, keep pushing till i’m free at last
i’ll follow the path of my heart and make my life a work of art
call me fearless….i am fearless….

i’ll push outside the comfort zone, remembering i’m not alone
i’ll follow the path of my heart and make my life a work of art
call me fearless….i am fearless….
i’m stronger than i realized! i am fearless!


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tick. tock. must focus. much to do…..

“you cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~author unknown

the clock is ticking and as the days count off the calendar, each night as i crawl into bed, i am reminded of all there is to do. sometimes africa seems so far away…not only in miles but in terms of time. but really i know that it’s going to be here…JUST like that, and i have to get focused. ‘april’ has been the target month of departure; however, since that begins the rainy season there, it would be nice to leave sooner. rain = wet = more mosquitos. 🙂 but when i leave all depends again on how things all fall into place.

major things going on at this time include.

IMMUNIZATIONS: yellow fever and typhoid yet to go and that will be checked off the list. already been stabbed in the arm multiple times. i now have lifetime protection from hepatitis a and b. hey! 🙂 and nothing like the return of childhood vaccinations like mmr, polio, and the like. *shrugs shoulders*

TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS: i will need to finalize my arrangements by end of december.

FUNDING: i am already selling off stuff i don’t plan to keep (craigslist, etc), and raise some funds through other means. considering the possibility of less expensive living quarters (like renting a room in someone’s home or ? i don’t know yet what all the options are) hey – i know it’s hard to believe…but fact is, i’m not a wealthy woman with a bucket load of savings. 🙂 so, this is a leap of faith in many ways. including financial. i’m committed and i will just trust that it will work out.

so….if any of you have special loves for longaberger baskets (from the 80s and 90s), seraphim classic angel figurines, an almost new yamaha digital piano to mention a few things, give me a buzz. that’s not all of it, of course, but some….

thank you to the many friends who have emailed supportive words, called me to talk about this wonderful crazy thing, to say that you are praying for me, to wish that you were going with me, to share in the excitement…..i am so thankful for your continued love and friendship – i heart you all! muah!

Asante sana! (thank you very much, in swahili)


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moshi where?

moshi is at the base of mount kilimanjaro, population about 150,000. it’s considered the most clean town in east africa. i have no idea what the frame of reference of “clean” is. i reckon i will be finding that out. 😉 there is a decent education and literacy rate here and medical care (that’s important should i need it!). the economy appears to be based upon agriculture and natural resources.

as previously noted, i will lodge in a hostel that was opened for people like me – international volunteers. that means i will be in a room with other people. it’s called hostel hoff. would you believe that it was named after david hasselhoff (think baywatch?) well, it was!

i still am in the process of selecting the project(s) that i will spend my time on, but the ones that are speaking to me at this time include:

a. a young girls center (that help at risk girls and women to improve their life skills, ability to make an income to keep them from the paths of prostitution and other limited means of making money to support their families);

b. working with orphans – this is a huge issue in all of africa as there is such a mortality rate from various disease, including HIV/AIDS;

c. an education/economic center that supports marginalized women and their families to achieve economic stability and gender equality. including access to micro-loans and training to run small businesses, development of leadership skills to promote social justice, health, and education and other areas.

it is obvious that there are plenty of needs – this is not a vacation for me, i will spend full time hours during the week in the organization(s). my weekends will be my time to enjoy the terrain (oh, i have heard legendary things about the beauty of kilimanjaro, the serengeti and it will be a pleasure to spend time here).

oh my. there is so much to do to get ready. i have already gathered oodles of information which is gathered into notebooks, excel files and my dining room wall is covered by paper of things to consider, budget numbers, what to take, who to talk to. i have been learning about moshi and about where i’ll be living. i even have a list of basic swahili phrases that may come in handy (altho i suspect that many will be english speaking there). i’ve registered with the department of state, and begun my travel plans. made contact with my lodging company. i am nearly done with my immunization/vaccines. ouch. those hurt. just saying! have a pile of stuff to sell. how much moolah i need – and what i need to raise. list of what i’ll put in storage.

i’m kind of dazed even yet…..in that all of this has fallen into place in 6-8 weeks. but when you know….you know.

“do it. whatever it is. if you have a dream, go ahead, take the risks and make whatever sacrifices you possibly can.”
~robin black

Ninatokea Marekani. Wewe unatokea wapi? = I’m from the United States, where are you from?


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no, I didn’t always dream of africa….but ;-)

this perhaps explains a bit of how it all happened….no, i did not always dream of africa, nor did i have a sense of need to travel the world. because i know you are wondering 🙂

but.

there’s always a but.  well, at least with me there is.

i suppose in the past year or so, i had been anticipating a change in my life..perhaps a new job, moving to a new location, a new relationship, i didn’t know what it would entail to be honest. i usually do have a ‘sense’ of knowing when change is coming and so i had been feeling that SOMETHING was going to change, just not what. after some months of doors not opening, clarity not coming, nothing happening, i decided to alter my perspective in thinking (it was actually a specific thought – maybe i need to open or make my own damn doors instead of waiting for them to open – which is what has happened most of my life, the doors have always opened at the right time)

so my prayer and meditation focused a bit differently from there on out. on what I wanted to accomplish and envision. i didn’t know i wanted africa specifically but i knew what i wanted an outcome to be, in terms of how i felt emotionally, spiritually and how i wanted to connect at the level of doing ‘something’. i left it up to God and spirit on how it would ultimately be executed.

the first little thing that happened was that i considered taking my vacation abroad as a volunteer and started the research of what that would take. (wow, there are hundreds and hundreds of organizations that will help you plan your experience to teach english to monks in nepal, work with elephants in thailand, save the turtle eggs from being stolen, hold orphan babies in romania, work with orphaned children anywhere in the world…it’s an endless sea of opportunity).  it was overwhelming, nothing grabbed me, and it was quite costly.

it was after seeing the movie eat, pray, love – that i thought…what if….WHAT IF i went for 3-4 months instead of 2 weeks?  what would that look like, where would I go then, how much would it cost?  that 2nd simple shift in my thinking caused an entire paradigm shift.

how to determine where to go? one can throw a dart at a map or open a page in a book etc to select where they want to go.  i had done already a lot of research on the organizations and the countries they offered opportunities in.  i had connected to blogs and other resources for information. but i needed a focus on WHERE.

“what in your life is calling you? when all the noise is silenced, the meetings adjourned, the lists laid aside, and the wild iris blooms by itself in the dark forest, what still pulls on your soul? in the silence between your heartbeats hides a summons, do you hear it? name it, if you must, or leave it forever nameless, but why pretend it is not there?”

it was this quote (if you are on facebook with me, you know i love those quotes!) that took me to the next level.  i was seeking the silence between the heartbeats and praying/meditating on where would i go in my what if scenario?  i had in my mind asia (i love the culture), or romania, but it was africa. not JUST africa but AFRICA AFRICA AFRICA. like a drumbeat rising up through my core.  i heard it, loud and clear.  i was surprised, to be honest and went back to my quiet place, listening for the voice, asking God…thinking i might get another result. same results and answer time after time. the next day, i picked up a fashion magazine, only to find an article about a woman that started an organization in the US that helped people in …..africa.  in a fashion magazine. and i continue to have validations for africa still.  hmmm.

okay. OKAY. well, in my ‘what if’ world, i was going to go somewhere, why not africa?  i was perfectly at peace with that. now..where in africa?  continuing the research (i am persistent at this!), i found an opportunity and hostel in Moshi, Tanzania and i KNEW immediately this was where i would go.  yes…the inward voice…..which i had been learning to listen to and honor.

the next sunday’s comic section had a cartoon that included tanzania in the conversation. (baby blues if you read that one). now really. how many times have you seen a comic strip discussing tanzania. and within mere days of the decision?  hmmmm. i get it, truly! another validation.

by now, it was no longer a ‘what if’ exercise.  it was a ‘you are called’ to go to africa.  i knew it, felt it, loved it and embraced it. there is no second guessing, qualms or fears. i have many things to do to ready myself for this but i’m game and i’m in.

so…that’s how and why africa. and moshi.

and for those of you that know my son lucas…oh yes, absolutely he is part of the puzzle of influence and inspiration. not only for my africa trip but for my life as a whole.  i have so admired and appreciated his own journey and he is living his passion.  i think that there have been things working in my life for much longer; and convergence and timing of his journey and a few other things….it all works together. and as they say in his world race family…..lovelovelove.

will share more about the project moshi and planning next.

Kwa herini (swahili -goodbye to a group)


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nope, no fear. yep, it’s a God thing.

alone? afraid? are you sure? how do you know?

are you going as part of a group, organization, missions effort? the answer is…no. i really am going on this one…alone. unless someone along the way decides to join me, and what are the odds? 🙂

for a variety of reasons, but mainly this just unfolded as something that i am doing on my own. the non profit organizations that i checked into that place people into groups for volunteering abroad were more expensive. so in some regards there was a funding practicality decision. and well, i’m just not much of a ‘groupie’. maybe i’m too independent i suppose. i’m not part of a traditional missions team because i do think God calls different people to different works…and that wasn’t my call. i fully support and respect that, it’s just that i’m being called to serve in another fashion.

and although i don’t include scripture in my blogs (or for that matter fb page), i don’t feel that it makes my decision or experience any less of a God thing, just maybe not in the same traditional manner that others are accustomed to. my conversations with Him and/or viewpoints just might be a little different than yours? i don’t know, it’s kind of a personal thing, don’t you think 🙂

btw, no one has commented on this particular issue, but it was presented to me in my quiet time last night that perhaps some were wondering 😉

aren’t you afraid? and honestly, no i am not. i’m at total peace with this decision as i know it’s what i’m called to do.

now…i fully admit that at some point as i near the point of leaping, or during that long travel, or after arriving, i suppose that i may find myself in a fetal position LOL. i’m not going to say that i won’t scream or cry or anything at some point. i am human…and female. 😉 but i guess i’ll find out what i’m made of – physically, spiritually, emotionally – in this journey without a network of known support.

i do have a healthy respect for knowing that i’m entering the unknown zone. but i have done quite a bit of homework and i am not entering this without due diligence. those of you that know me well….i’m too analytical to leap without ample preparation! i won’t be living ‘in the bush’ but in a large city (moshi) – ‘one of the cleanest in east africa’. i will do the recommended safety suggestions and well… trust that God will keep me safe and provide me with the information, wisdom and common sense that i need.

are you sure? yes, because of the sense of peace, because of the inward voice, because of the ‘knowing’. i’m sure.

in addition to those things, i’ve had a fair amount of what i consider ‘validations’ be presented to me. and you know what? if nothing else, i will have the experience of a lifetime, and at some future far off (hopefully!) point, at the end of my life, i will have no regrets having taken the choice to step beyond my comfort zone, discover my limits, explore the world, and understand more fully what it is i need to do to make a difference. i feel as if i’ve done the risk assessment (potential risks of leaving security and the comfort zone, as well as moving into the unknown risks of africa) and the answer is always the same. yes. i’m in….and i’m sure.

i am coming into an awareness that the agenda is love, and that there is a need to love without agenda. that there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’, that we need to open our hearts and minds and discover what it is we are called to do. that might be in our own back yard, our own family, company, community. i think most of us want to be better humans and we have suspected that there is something more to life. it just happens that in my case, for some crazy reason, my call is africa (i’m kinda jazzed by that if you wanna know the truth!)

thanks for asking, thanks for your love, thanks for your concern. what other questions might you have? i’ll be back with more info soon on moshi.


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listening to the inward voice….

“Be yourself. There is something that you can do better than any other. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that.” ~unknown

i’ve been learning lots of things lately. about life, love, listening, loss, letting go. learning to blog too ;-). and in fact, this blog will document my approach to the ledge (as it appears in my mind!) and then my experiences as i leap from the ledge and land…in moshi, tanzania, africa. sometime in spring of 2011, i will spend about 4 months there serving others. immersing myself in the culture, and making a difference. letting go of old mindsets. opening my heart and mind to this need.

some of you reading these words are aware of my decision and pending journey, as i’ve discussed some of the issues with you. and the most common question i’ve been asked is how did this decision come about? how did you know? what did you hear? so i’ll start with that, as i’m sure others will be scratching their heads and wondering the same things.

after 51 and some change years of living a pretty ordinary life, doing the normal thing….marriage (okay a couple of times), one child (who is now traveling around the world on a missions journey of love), and a series of interesting jobs/careers in several states, wonderful friends, a healthy family..i have been blessed in many ways.  on second thought, most of you that know me well probably wouldn’t use the word “normal” to describe me 😉  but the point being that i’ve followed a fairly basic path in life overall.

but over the past few years, i have increasingly felt the desire to ‘make a difference’ (altho honestly? that’s been something i’ve felt most of my life, i just been distracted too many years and the past few years have been paying more attention :).   not truly knowing the definition of that meant, just a ‘knowing’ that something else was out there. even though my friends tell me “deb, you ARE making a difference”, i didn’t feel it was enough.  guess something was indeed knocking at my consciousness.

as i continued to pray, meditate, seek opportunities, and listen for the doors to open –  suddenly a series of shifts in my thinking resulted in a clarity of vision.  one idea/thought led to another and voila – i then understood. NO, i KNEW that i was being called to action.  a specific action.

the research, exploration and discovery began and bit by bit , things began to fall into place, clicks began to happen and plans began to formulate.

it was the inward voice that i heard. nudging. guiding. finally insisting. so…..i’ve decided that i must obey that. there are consequences to ignoring it. and yes there are possible risks to what i am about to embark on. but the risk assessment has been done and there’s no doubt…..

i’ll share my story of the journey here…from the decision to the planning to the travel and the experiences. i hope that you will enjoy the story as well. your questions, comments, encouragement 😉 and love is always welcome along the way.