In 2009, I raised over $20,000 to help fund the building of a birthing center and school in Uganda. In 2010, I traveled to Uganda for three weeks to oversee the projects. Each day was hard work, eye-opening and profoundly life-changing.
Our trip fell over Valentine’s Day, which was a “rest day” for us to personally reflect on the happenings of the trip thus far and to prepare ourselves for our final three days of intense work. We had a two-hour long yoga practice in the morning, and the teacher gave us a lot to think about. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, she brought into question how we’ve been showing up and expressing love in our own lives, before and during our experiences in Uganda. How will we carry our new ideas of authentic love back to our everyday lives? What do we need to accept about our past in order to truly let go and love bigger? A lot of people had an emotional release. It took me a while to get there, but eventually, with the help of the Beatles playing in the background, I did.
I realized that I was still holding onto a lot of the sadness of 2009—the death of several loved ones and the fear of death itself. I’m always making acute adjustments in my perspective so that I can better handle this fear, but it kept showing up again and again in the faces of the women and children I met in Uganda. Despite their contagious joy, my sadness lingered.
The women and children there do not latch onto their traumas and circumstances. They are constantly releasing emotions through passionate song and dance. Perhaps the majority of the men are aggressive because they do not engage in these traditions. Most Ugandan men are addicted to alcohol, drugs, sexual abuse or power. They are acting out because, like most Americans, they are not moving the negative energy out of their bodies naturally. I can certainly relate to their struggles, and am so grateful for the support systems in my life that encourage the release of tension in my heart and in my hips every day.
I was the youngest woman on this trip. There were and still are several life lessons that I have yet to experience, and I must remain patient with myself. I cannot be so critical and hard on myself. I must love myself and trust in my deepest truths to continue to love and serve others effectively. This has been my mantra for the decade.
On that Valentine’s Day, I sat and took the time to remember all of the great loves of my life. My very first valentines—Mom, Dad, and my Grammy. I fondly remembered the crushes, the necessary heartbreaks. I even wrote a letter to my beautiful companion and now husband, Christopher. And I especially basked in the awesomeness of the women that were with me in Uganda, sharing in an experience that bound us together in love forever.
I thank Spirit every day for that incredible opportunity to serve.
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