Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Chained Bird has Flown into the Indian Ocean

Traditional dress in Zanzibar
Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. Think only of the best, work only for the best and expect only the best. Forget the mistakes of the past and press onto the greater achievements of the future. Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you!
-Christian D Larson (on a card given to me by a Peace Corps volunteer, Ashley, during the time I was unsure of myself in Zanzibar)

Exactly five months ago today I boarded a plane to begin an unplanned adventure that commenced in Europe. Scared because I gave up a great life, sold most everything I owned and decided to jump into a life not knowing what was next.
Our group (mostly Peace Corps) in Zanzibar in front of our hotel. We played with the kids all the time!
The morning I left, I glared in the mirror with a slight shake and placed a gold chain on my neck. Tied to it was  a dragonfly, a heart and a bird. I paused, stared at the necklace, wanting to believe in myself, wanting to believe I was fully capable of flying in a world most people wouldn’t step foot in. I was scared. Scared of myself and scared of my dreams. 
Doubts started streaming in. They were interrupted when my dad called me upstairs; it was time to go. With one last glance I noticed a glimmer of hope in my eye. I took a deep breath and headed upstairs. It was time.
Over the past five months I have learned how to be free. Free to enjoy life, free to live in the moment, free to be scared of unknown places and free to see it’s not as scary as it may seem.  Most of all, I have learned that I am free to love myself wholly. Yes, there are doubts and slip ups of insecurity of course. I am human. It’s normal, and I am definitely free to love the fact that I slip up and forget who I am.
Making sugarcane juice with ginger and lime! It was absolutely delish!
This morning I was getting ready in the mirror in Zanzibar after an African music festival about to head back to Zambia and the necklace slipped off. It has fallen off three times before, but I always immediately connected it back. This time I paused and stared face to face with myself. The last time I looked at myself bare, I was filled with an indescribable fear. I realized the necklace covered up my freckles that form a big dipper on my collarbone. I smiled- I am finding the stars that illuminate my soul. I am finding my big dipper. It’s time. I packed my things and placed the necklace in my pocket.
The boys went in to catch fish all day. This is right in front of our bungalow. 
Here I am on a boat headed back to the mainland arriving into Africa for the second time. Realizing I have once again let insecurity and feelings of self doubt creep into my head over the past couple weeks. I remind myself the things I have learned about
myself- I am a powerful, strong person. I have a choice to make. So I am doing what I know will make me happy. Gazing at the coastline ahead of me listening to Lynyrd Skynrd’s  Freebird! I free the useless, hurtful thoughts.
One of the streets in Zanzibar!
I am now ready. I have learned to fully love myself and only then can I now strive to love others. Holding the necklace in my hand, reflecting and listening to Where the Wild Things Are “All is Love” I smile. I have become stronger, more confident and capable of many things I didn’t think I was capable of. It’s time to let the bird fly. I am freeing my chained heart, dragonfly and bird into the world. I have learned many things and expect to learn a million more. The Indian Ocean will be my first witness to my heart’s freedom.
With a simple slip of my hand…. It’s in! And somehow I feel lighter!
A boy I played with and his toy car he made!
I raise my water up to the sky and- cheers to the next part of my journey. Smiling, choosing happiness and freedom and looking at my future! My village awaits me and I am ready to let them know we are all the same. I am focusing on loving and empowering. We are all powerful people if we let ourselves be. Life is meant to have ups and downs, frowns, and -if we let ourselves- a whole lot of smiles!


  1. That's my life story since I was 17 years of age. Facing fears and doubts head on is the only way to subdue them, set them aside to give yourself and other people justice. A Chained Bird has landed in the Ocean, But A Free Bird has just taken flight! I love it... My Big Dipper

  2. hey babe,
    i love this, i truly love it! do you know that I have a similar necklace I have been wearing, I bought it at the start of this new job at a hotel-a splurge and small treasure bought with my new found funds. I have been here at the front desk for 9 months now after being unemployed and desperately looking for work for half a year. Over my heart my necklace holds a birch leaf, which reminds me the shedding of layers,boundries; a dove, that gives me peace, freedom and courage to fly; a lastly a medallion that speaks me love everyday- every time i wear it.
    The thread used to be white and hang crystaline on my neck, but time and wear has soiled it to where it is now a part of my skin, soiled with the labor pains of life and the shaking dust of my days.

    I guess it has become a big dipper of my own to guide me and remind me of my worth, my strive, my direction.

    I am so proud to know you. Your heart is beautiful and full to the ends of yourself. I pray that as the days pass you not forget your God, that he would grow inside you, and lead you on.
    I pray lovingkindness envelope you, light you anew every morning with the sunrise.
    I pray forgiveness set its foundation in stone under your feet to ground you and keep you out of the wayword self obsessed virtigo that life can spin us into.
    You are in my heart sweet girl.
    Look for a singing package from me soon.

    Live. Love. Pray. Write. Dance. Sing. Work. Rest. Forgive and give Grace. May these things all abound in you and at the end of each day. Remember your Creator is with you, has made you, as you,
    Dance on.
    And Be.
    Sincerely, Your Mountain Muse and fellow songbird