Confidence is the word for today as I stepped into the role, once again, as driver. This morning Justin handed me the keys and said “I will pay you….”, which was his way of asking me to be the driver for the day! I laughed and said ” You really want me to drive?” He nodded and said it would help him get work done on the way to the Fish Farm co-operative, the same one World Dancers visited during their trip. I had a tiny moment of doubt and then remembered that I am a great driver. I have a father who was a driving instructor for the government and he made sure I knew how to handle a vehicle, which meant he took me to the arena parking lot on a cold winter night and taught me how to pull the e-brake, go into a spin and steer my way out of it – so much fun! I also grew up driving quads, Ski-doo’s, dirt bikes and spent lots of time on the farm and in the bush so these roads were bad, but nothing I couldn’t handle and I was driving a stick shift!
(Meet “Inga Ja”, she was a stick shift, my dream car and I swore I would never sell her – things change!)
(My dad finally warmed up to Inga while I lived at the Ashram and he got to drive her around town!)
I watched as I relaxed into the role and remembered how much I love driving. I have always loved driving and especially love old cars, of which I used to own 2! I sold both of them as part of my healing journey and have been learning a lot about how much I used them as a source of freedom in my life as well as a security net. I have now learned to embrace the world in a new way by relying on others for transportation, public transport, hitch hiking, walking, biking and taking the bus or flying to my destinations, and most recently taking Moto’s! What this has done is opened me up to trust, community, new people, a new slower pace of life with more of a “do I really need to go and do I really want to go” approach. It also helps me practice using my newly forming boundaries, meaning I need to speak up if I want to go home or get myself home in some way that feels safe to me. It also makes seemingly easy things much more of a challenge, like buying groceries. While living in California last fall I bought a pink beach cruiser with a basket just for the sheer joy of owning one even though Santa Barbara is mostly hills and this baby only had one gear! It was such a challenge to get around and yet I loved (almost) every second of it! I love being outside and being on a bike allows me to feel the freedom that a car does, I get exercise and I love to feel the wind or rain on my skin as I do my daily tasks. I am in love with the simplicity of my life at this point.
The fact that Justin just trusts that, not only I can drive a standard vehicle, but I am capable of driving in a different country and on these kinds of “roads” was such a confidence booster for me. He sees me as capable of so many things and doesn’t even bother to ask if I want to do it just asks me to do it, which I love. It is very different than my world of trying to prove that I can do things and being told I can’t, especially when it came to me being a girl as the reason why I couldn’t do it or the classic and most frustrating response of all “Because I said so!” I spent a good deal of my life trying to prove I could do things just like “the boys” because I thought I had to be like them in order to be loved. It took me a very long time to begin to acknowledge myself as a girl and I am still working with accepting that I am a woman. Something about it felt weak or like a bad thing, so I didn’t want to be it and I tried to hide a lot of the things that I really was drawn to doing because I was afraid I would be made fun of (which I was) and that I would be somehow letting my family down. I know this is not the case and I have really begun to feel my feminine strength coming forth in a much stronger way since being at the Ashram and the choices I have made since then fall more in line with my softer, more vulnerable side which is a wonderful and at times a scary place to live from.
(At 27 years old, I decided to start exploring the art of Bellydance as a way of embracing femininity. This was a huge step for me and lead to one of the best years of my life! This was my first Tribal Fusion performance.)
(Me at Healing Waters Spa in Santa Barbara, CA learning the Art of Water Release Therapy which is my most vulnerable expression of myself to date. It is truly my hearts work.)
Justin also had me taking photos for him to use in his business plan for the Farmers. This too was just a given, of course I can take pictures and shoot a video of him doing an interview, there was no doubt in his mind and so there was no doubt in my mind. This extreme sense of not being good enough has really been a barrier to me being happy and to me doing what I want in life. As a nurse, I was subjected to the very common and well known behavior of “eating their young”, which is in reference to older nurses treating the students, new grads and new hires like… well, like crap. It is well known and even accepted that this takes place and it really took its toll on me, it was a big part of the reason for my first sick leave from my job in 2009. This constant criticism, belittling and mean spirited nit picking took me from being the type of person that could walk tall and show up everyday with a smile to a sunken, slumped shouldered, cowering, emotional mess with a major lack of confidence and a lot of pent up anger. In this world, I always felt as though I was a fraud, a phony, and that someday I would be “found out” for not being a good nurse, a smart nurse or even a nurse at all. I even worried I would go to jail for making a mistake. This extra bit of emotional abuse on top of what was already unraveling in my life was enough to push me towards seriously considering suicide.
(Me at 110lbs, doing whatever I could to keep my life from falling apart – I’m so glad it finally did!)
I saw today how important it is to surround myself with people who see me as a strong, capable human being and that hold me to being exactly that. I first found this at the Ashram and I am finding it here as well. I have discovered a love of writing in the last 3 years and today I felt as though a big piece of my mind was just blown open to make room for more potential in that area. I had images of me doing documentary films and really using my voice to make change in the world. Being on this trip with Justin watching him work, seeing what his days look like and how he is making what he feels important in life his mission is inspiring to say the least. He is supported in doing so by “Goats for Life” and “World Dance for Humanity”, which must have seemed like miracle from God for him when they arrived with money to help him do it all! I am grateful to both of these organizations for all that they do for Justin and unknowingly for me as well.
As my mentor and teacher at the Ashram said to me before I left for Africa, I am doing things in my life now that help me find out who I am. It is up to me to give myself the experiences that I need in order to heal and to reach my potential, and they can be as simple as driving and taking photos (in Africa!). As I ran up and down the hillsides taking photos, surrounded by lush green Jungle and looking out at the magnificent view in front of me I felt ALIVE, engaged and so ready to do more. This is a big sign for me that more healing has taken place as I feel ready to move into the next phase. I am preparing to move into my own place and begin to put myself out into the world in a new way, a way that feels like my Love is in Action.
As we listened to “Africa” by Toto for the 3rd time in a row, me driving and Justing singing, it occurred to me that I have only known Justin (in person) for less than 2 months and it feels like and has always felt like, we have been friends for a very long time. I equate this to my own openness towards people in general but I think I have met my match in terms of it being returned to me with the same level of sincerity. He treats me with the kind of respect I have been longing for in my life, especially from a male friend. To know that he and his beautiful family are a part of my life fills me with Love, Joy and happiness. The reasons why I am in Africa keep on showing for me and my commitment is to keep on showing up for them!
Thank you Justin! Thank you Rwanda!