What Happens When You Come Back From Africa

I’ve been back from Africa for one day. I traveled 24 hours from the time I left the Jewel Stone Hotel in Nairobi to the time I got back to my house in New Jersey. I spent most of the plane ride on the way home writing. I wrote about everything I could remember. I wrote about the sounds, the smells, and all of the feels of each moment. I let it really fill me up; this trip to Africa on Seva Safari with Africa Yoga Project. I’ll be honest it really feels like a dream.

I dreamed about doing something bigger in service since I can remember. For 28 years I really had no idea what that meant. Early this year Wanda posted about a Seva Safari with the amazing Daniel McCall who lead my yoga teacher training. I remember like it was yesterday seeing the post and instantly getting this feeling like “I’m going to Africa”. I didn't know the hows or the whys but I instantly felt connected to it.

There were some really rocky times in the weeks leading up to Africa. Mostly it was stress and anxiety leading up to an unknown 10 days of service. I had little to no idea what we would do while we were there. I had no idea how I could be of service other than teaching yoga or being a general manager. How would I fill 10 days to help others when the two things that fill most of my time back home will not be either of the things I would be doing? This was totally out of my element.

While we were there we did everything from yoga practice (of course), to visiting the slums, to building 40 desks by hand, to dealing with a bad accident, to building and completing a two story 8 classroom school, to working on self dreams and visions. We biked through the Savannah and went on one of the most difficult hikes I’ve ever completed. There were plenty of highs and lows as expected on a trip of this magnitude.

On the very last night we all went out to dinner to relax and like every other night we sat and each spoke about what was showing up for us. We spoke about what was so significant for us on this trip. I sobbed through my speech speaking to how much I appreciated the leaders Cate & Patrick (both AYP Teachers) and Daniel for not only walking with us through this journey but for also being there for us. I’ve been a leader for as long as I can remember but these folks showed up different. They really portrayed how to live bigger. I was witnessing it with my own eyes. I was feeling the give and take of living your dream and it was equally beautiful and terrifying.

Mostly all of the AYP leaders thanked us for being big and inspiring them and inspiring the kids in the Kangemi Slum. The slum we built a schoolhouse in had hundreds of kids who were watching us each day. The AYP teachers reiterated how thankful they were that we made a difference. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Here I was in amazement of all they’ve done for us and the thankfulness I felt in my heart for them showing us their beautiful country and they're thanking me?

I let it all sink in at that table and then it broke me. I cried the hardest I’ve ever cried in my life. I got off the bus and immediately went to the room by myself. ALL of the below the line chicken voices in my head that Daniel speaks about were coming up. Why me? Why did I deserve to be here? I shouldn't have come. I’m not big enough. I didn’t help enough. I just smiled and painted and showed up. And there it was. I probably said “ you just showed up” 100x in my head until I got somewhere. It hit me: Making a difference isn't always about what is tangible. We built a school in 4 days and that’s very real. But so are the feelings imprinted on everyone who SHOWED UP those days. I’m coming to find out it’s not about what you have but how you make others feel that matters most. We showed BIG determination to go to Africa in the weeks before leaving. We all dropped what we knew and showed up EVERY day in every aspect of the days we were there. By all showing up we were able to be inspired to be even bigger together as a community and thats what true service is all about. I don't have to be the best yogi, or a general manager, or a yoga teacher, or painter or carpenter. If I just show up and cultivate togetherness big things happen. Big shifts will be organic and will spread so that everyone lives the fullest life.

I always had this idea that doing something bigger would be all angels and butterflies and it'll just happen if it’s meant to. I now can accept that I’m enough the way I am. I’m ready now to do bigger things everyday through the trenches of bad and through the waves of greatness. I’m ready to do to the work and believe in something bigger because I believe it now. Maybe I didn’t need to go to Africa to understand it but I’ll be grateful every day for the rest of my life for the opportunity to feel and accept what making a difference is. I never let myself be open to this, until now. Even on my first day back it still feels like a dream. I feel like a won the lottery. I will dream and live through the people in Kenya and hold them in my heart forever for the new prospective they provided for me.