A couple weeks ago, we took a group of students to the redwoods and guided them on an 11 mile hike where along the way we passed around 4 waterfalls. At one point we even hiked down steps that descended alongside the biggest cascade! I was awe stricken by the waterfalls, the giant trees, the ferns that decorated the forest floor (which did you know is called bracken?😳) and I felt so grateful to be able to show these students one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on🌲🌲 These students were some of the most dedicated, intelligent, determined young adults I had ever met and they inspired me and saddened me at the same time. These students had their sights set on schools like Yale, the cross country runners woke up at the break of dawn to run 16 miles before they would later embark on that 11 mile hike. Their dedication, their determination for their future is something to admire, yet at the same time I could see how society’s forward looking mind set had filtered into their every moment. The 11 mile hike became a race to the finish, to the point I could barely even keep up, and the waterfalls didn’t even encourage a second glance from the ‘finish line’ mentality🏅 I was once one of these students. I felt society’s pressure. I never stopped moving, playing sports, doing homework. I never stopped thinking about how every little thing would influence my future, what college I got into, even when the present passed me right by💨 Now, I stop, watch, listen to, play with the waterfalls. Now I am much happier✨ The students themselves did not sadden me, but society’s influence does. Setting your sights high for yourself is admirable. Believing you can be successful is inspiring. 24/7 dedication is incredible. I’m in no way saying that these things are bad, I’m in no way saying these ways of life are wrong. I’m saying that we as a society should find a balance and teach balance. That the future IS important, but the present is too. School for some IS important, but it isn’t everything, it’s not the only way. Pushing yourself IS important, but so is allowing yourself to slow down so you don’t push past the beautiful things in life. Balance IS important✨🍃⛰💫
Besides gratitude, one of the biggest lessons I learned in China was about my ego, about accepting non negotiable things I have when it comes to my own happiness✨ The particular camp we were scheduled to work at was one that was completely unexpected (I haven’t posted any pictures). It was an environment that made me feel trapped, isolated and with a lack of freedom. These things were no one’s fault, they were not intentional. They were simply cultural differences, variances in ways of life🌎 But I learned that just because something is from a different culture and I want to do my best to understand, respect and accept different ways of life, they will not always align with me, and that’s okay. I was trying with all my might to stay and teach in an environment that was not conducive to my well being, just so I could say I did it. So I didn’t have to explain why I was leaving, so I didn’t feel like I was giving up🌻 These are all struggles I have always battled: perfectionism, fear of failure, belief that choosing yourself first means giving up instead of showing courage. But I had to reframe my perspective, understand that it is okay to choose myself. That if I know I’m not happy and will not be, it is okay, it is wise to make a change. And it is best for everyone if I do💫 Best for me, best for those whose energy is influenced by my own, and even best for the children. Because I want to be myself for the kids, for the world. I want them to have a role model who is inspired, excited about life, goofy, uninhibited, and if I can’t be those sides of me, if I can acknowledge my unhappiness and leave the situation, it’s not giving up, it’s choosing me, choosing my purpose of spreading light and it’s okay to do that. It’s okay, it’s good to recognize when you feel you’re not shining your light and bring yourself back to the spaces that help you shine it. That’s what we’re here to do⛰🦁🐞🍄☀️🌈
Going to China made me realize how I’ve been to some wonderful places in my travels🌎 Places that have opened my eyes to new ways of life I wanted to adopt, brought color to my vision of the world, gave me options of life I didn’t know I could live out. Travel always had me dreaming of leaving. Dreaming of where to go next, where to leave home for. China was the first experience I had with really missing home. China had its beautiful places. Its people, its temples, its gardens, its historical boats that had me dreaming of cruising down the Li River and China is also the biggest culture shock I’ve experienced yet. It expanded my mind in different ways than other countries have. Not of ways to live by, but in ways that made me grateful for how I don’t live, and for ways I do live in my home country. Like I said, the first experience that made me ache for home, that made me feel lucky to be where I’m from🏡But it is everything I needed✨ I needed to feel the gratitude for the country I call home. I needed to realize the intangible things we often take for granted. We all live differently in this world and I’ve always said that seeing the world through another culture is the best way to learn. It seems that this summer, my lesson was to learn to have more gratitude for what I was born into at home. I’m so grateful to have the freedom to go about life as I choose. To express that freedom physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I’m sitting at home, not taking off on a plane, or driving thousands of miles trying to find the ends of the earth, and I’ve never felt freer🌕💫🌻🌼
Just because I love to go on adventures doesn’t mean I don’t still get nervous some times. I’m all packed for China, I’ve got 6 weeks worth of clothes, shoes and things to keep me healthy, it’s my last full night with my little family and the nerves are starting to set in a bit! I’m more excited than anything but I’ll still miss my mom, miss my doggies, I know there will be major culture shock (which I welcome and seek out) and yet I know I’m meant to do this and I can’t wait for the experience/the chance to grow even more as a person. The things that make us nervous, the things that may scare us no matter how excited we are, are the things that get us out of our comfort zone and make us realize how unstoppable we truly are. How much power we have the potential to embrace. It doesn’t matter if your scared or fearful, we’re meant to be afraid sometimes because we’re human. What matters is that you still do things regardless of your fears. I tell this to the kids before they climb, I even tell this to myself before I climb, before I go into the deep ocean, before I open my heart or commit to being vulnerable with my soul. So yes, I am a little nervous about leaving my country and living in another for a little while, but there’s still no doubt in my mind that I am stoked to go and it’s going to be the most incredible summer. It’s the things that excite us and make us feel butterflies at the same time that make life so rewarding and fulfilling. Chase the things that you find beautiful, chase the waterfalls, but also chase your fears. Chase them when they go away and even when they don’t.