Sunday, November 16, 2014

To Each Her Own Sanctuary

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The landscapes are intriguing, beautiful, even breathtaking, but what really keeps me traveling is the people.  Like snowflakes covering northern lands, no two people are exactly the same; each twirls and soars and falls and lands differently.  Each has a different journey.  Through conversations and shared experiences, I love to discover all sorts of people.  But there is one kind of person that particularly inspires me.

This kind of person is found among both young and old, educated and uneducated, travelers and homebodies.  I've found them in every country I've ever been to.  It's the person who finds a passion, a purpose, and joyfully throws him- or herself into it wholeheartedly.  It's the person who finds what that special thing is that gives back even more in personal satisfaction than the work and time and money and energy they may have put into it.  As the author of this next excerpt so elegantly puts it, it's one's own "sanctuary".

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Marking One Quarter of a Century

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My 25th birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks.  I never wrote down specific goals or even thought about what I would have hoped to do or experience or accomplish during my first 25 years on planet Earth, but looking back, I can say that I'm quite content with the journey thus far.

Many people, in their mind's eye, stop growing older after a certain age.  The years pass by, but their identity is frozen in time; they continue to perceive themselves as that one ultimate age.  My mom always thinks of herself as a 24-year-old.  It seems to have worked well for her because now, at almost double that, she can still pass for 30.   As a kid, I always wanted to be 17.   It seemed magical in my imagination, and I truly felt invincible as I lived that year out in Belgium, Bosnia, the US, Australia, and China.  In fact, that year went so well, I didn't easily move on.  I've continued to think of myself as a 17-year-old out exploring the big, wide world.  Until now.

Twenty-five is a big marker in my mind.  One quarter century.  I want to do something extraordinary to kick off this year, so I begin to scheme, with 12 days left to come up with a proper celebratory plan.


Meanwhile, my past few weeks haven't been the easiest: Full of philosophical brooding, a lot of questions for myself, a bit of self-doubt at times.  I've been waking up wondering: Is anything I do today really going to make a difference in the world?  It's a daily cycle:  Questions, Temporary Depression, Long Walk, Prayer, Praise, Encouragement, Meaningfulness, Enthusiasm for the day ahead, Excitement for my present work.   At first it took a full day to come around to a place of peace, but has become progressively shorter.  As I found the rhythm, wrote out the script that I need to read every morning, the process has been reduced to something I think about over my morning tea.  I've found solace in the small opportunities to make a difference, like listening to friends and encouraging them as they go through their own transitions; helping my brother and new sister-in-law organize their new home.

I know many, many of you, my dear readers, are much more mature in years, wisdom, and experience than I, and I'd love to learn from all the skills and perspective you've honed over the years.  It would be an honor to receive some words of advice, encouragement, warning, counsel, or anything else you would like to suggest as I move into this next season.
Your messages will reach me at shiraheden@gmail.com.  I look forward to hearing from you!
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