"choose the life that is. yours."

When I was feeling especially down, I took out one of the “open when” letters a friend wrote me. On shiny silver envelope it said, “To open when you are feeling doubtful.” Inside was poem written by Nayirrah Waheed, starting with, “Don’t choose the lesser life."

I often get asked, and sometimes I wonder, “why?” Why did I choose to come live in Ethiopia for two years? One friend told me, “TWO YEARS!! You could get your masters in that time!” She didn’t understand. Another said, think about how much you could do in DC, which was actually great advice, thanks bruh. Always go through the pros and cons.

And of-course mama said, or rather continues to say, “but what about marriage?”

I hadn’t been writing because I wasn’t feeling like my true self, so I had to go over my own reasons for why I chose this life. Nine months in, I will tell you why I applied, and why I am satisfied with my decision.

Aren’t we all a little like plants? I think so. Some are fruits some are flowers, some just wild little things growing where they can find good soil, water, and sunshine. I am probably one of those wild things, and in order to grow I needed an enriching environment. We understand ourselves better than anyone else and that's why most people are hard on themselves, because they know they always can do more, be more. Everyone knows their own potential. I for one needed a slower environment, I needed time to think about who I was, who I wanted to be. I wanted to volunteer abroad, to travel, I thought I could do something good with my nutrition degree else where.

I needed time to improve my relationship with God, it was lacking in so many places leaving black holes in my heart. My future felt far too unstable, I needed time to develop a vision. And honestly, “how you gonna win if you ain’t right within?” You can’t. Thank Lauryn Hill for the wisdom.

Here is why I chose peace corps instead of another organization. I was completely broke, but if there is a will there is a way.

Peace Corps pays for your travel and gives you a living stipend. (Who doesn’t want to travel without paying a dime.) Although the medical exams cost me a fortune without insurance. Shout out to mobilize green for the paid internship with the best boss I have ever had. 

Peace Corps is long term depending on how you look at it. I didn’t think any short term trip would be any help to me or the people I came to work with. I like to chill, it’s one of the things I picked up in LA.

I read a billion blogs and I realized the volunteers really learned a great deal from their two years, they were placed in rural areas inside the community so they really got to know and understand a new culture and people. Traveling is all about that for me, to understand others. To appreciate differences, and love regardless.

I was internally struggling with my faith, a lot. Although people couldn’t see that. I wanted to depend on God and only on God for help. Some solitude was sure to help with that. (I was right, it’s 100% helping)

I prayed Istikhara, a special prayer when you need help making a decision, and everything became easier. (That was really when I knew.)

Two of Peace Corps goals are about friendship and culture sharing. My own personal goals were aligned with the organizations, which made me content with applying.

As I said earlier, I thought I could do more internationally with my nutrition skills than I could in the sates.

So far, I am satisfied with my decision because:

I have learned a billion and one things here, but most importantly I am learning to be in the moment whatever that moment may hold. Don’t tell my mom, but I actually enjoy taking the time out to clean and organize now. It doesn't feel like a "chore." I know Rohana, my best friend, whose hobby is to “organize closets” is smiling from heart to her eyes. 

I know to trust my instincts and leave a situation where my heart is not comfortable. We are all truly unique individuals. There is true freedom in knowing who you are. Amber said, “in the states we have maybe 21 flavors of ice-cream to choose from and here we only have 5, but it’s all the same.” The only way you can be free is to just be you. (This still makes sense in my head although not so much rereading it)

Comparing will get you no where. I was always intimated by my friends. Lawyer, Doctors, PTs, Creative Directors, Scientists, and the list goes on. They call the clever kids here Gobez, but I like Mame’s word better. I think I was a little Slow-bez. I am grateful for the company, and have really accepted my own pace of learning. Just keep swimming.

Women empowerment, and Gender Equality has always been some of the things I am extremely passionate about. In Ethiopia I am able to work very closely with both. I am currently the communications manager for the Gender and Development Committee and I feel like I can make a difference with this even if it’s small.

I took part in camp GLOW which was incredible! Can’t wait to lead one with my sistas.

Oh, and I live in a sort-of paradise minus the shortage of water sometimes.

Once you have seen the night sky like a black blanket lit up by an infinite number of shining stars, there is not much that can compare. It’s a sight that will forever stay in my mind. A sight I know I will long for every time I look up at the dark sky. I was always that person walking at night with my head tilted all the way up instead of forward. Why would I take my eyes off such an incredible sight, even if there were only a handful of stars in the sky it was exceptional. From my site, on the rare days when it doesn’t rain at night and the clouds are some place else, I let the cold breeze in and just stare at the sky. Tonight is especially clear. The moon is somewhere out of sight. The stars are bursting with light and I don’t want to take my eyes off them, it would be a waste of time to be here and spend the night sleeping instead.

I stand outside my door in awe, I wish someone were here to see this with me. As I stand there silently completely mesmerized, my ears tune in to river a five minute walk away. Its a constant soft roar, white noise to put a mind at ease. People travel far and long to see sights like these, and this is just where I happen to live.

I wrote in my Peace Corps statement that I wanted to help people “less fortunate” than I had been because I felt I had so much. Such a silly way to put it, I think now. These people are not less fortunate than I was. There is so much I am learning from them, from the land. There are things here which we can work on like an access to clean water all the time and education but an environment such as this cannot easily be made. This land is so blessed, and the people know it. I am learning constant gratitude from them. They are thankful in their language, in their respect for the trees and the water and each other.

But, I am really struggling with getting work started. I have friends who constantly praise me and tell me I am doing an amazing “work.” I HONESTLY haven’t done ISHH since I got here, besides the second and third goal of Peace Corps, which is culture sharing. That I do religiously because it’s so important and easy.

Instead of praise, I ask you for your prayers, please! I am currently trying to start a garden in my health center as a model garden to help with malnutrition. Please send a short prayer my way that I can accomplish this with the help of the workers!

Heres the complete poem. The card wasn’t signed but I know who could have written that. Thank you for the absolutely perfect note, you always know.

do not choose the lesser life.

do you hear me.

do you hear me.

Choose the life that is. yours.

the life that is seducing your lungs.

that is dripping down your chin

Nayirah Waheed

Read salt. By Nayyirah waheed

Read salt. By Nayyirah waheed

Here's my little bro with an actual cow heart. This is right after fasting was over for the orthodox Christians so they slaughtered a cow and shared with the neighbors. But look at shirt #obama

Here's my little bro with an actual cow heart. This is right after fasting was over for the orthodox Christians so they slaughtered a cow and shared with the neighbors. But look at shirt #obama

My six am solo runs/walks lead to beautiful hidden places.

My six am solo runs/walks lead to beautiful hidden places.

More from my post Fajr walks. 

More from my post Fajr walks. 

So much green so much peace of mind.

So much green so much peace of mind.

Morning rain.

Morning rain.

They will hate me for this one. 

They will hate me for this one. 

She's my favorite.

She's my favorite.

I guess he's mine too now. He's always chillin on my porch.

I guess he's mine too now. He's always chillin on my porch.

Dear mom, I am sorry. I do own more scarves but this one's my favorite. Pls let it go.

Dear mom, I am sorry. I do own more scarves but this one's my favorite. Pls let it go.

All that I said was true, but this is really why I am here.

All that I said was true, but this is really why I am here.

He looks so defeated.

He looks so defeated.

Oh and if you made it this far in to the post I guess you would care to know.

DC dates : oct 23 to 31

LA- oct 31 to Nov 10

Dc Nov 11

Ethiopia 12th.

See you soooonn. Salams