Peace Corps Thoughts

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort
of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different
because I was important in the life of a child

– Forest E. Witcraft

I know that I have posted this quote before, but it just seems so relevant to my life right now.  ALL I want is to spend my time helping make the world a little better for the little ones in it.  If I can make a difference…..if I can make a positive change….If I can help less fortunate children, I will give almost anything to do so.

All 3 health forms for the Peace Corps are in my possession and two have already been submitted.  I have been recommended for service by all three health care providers.  WOOT!

Multiple people have asked/said “Why would you want to join the Peace Corps?”  “Aren’t there children and people here in America you can help?” “Two years is a long time”

I realize that I have friends and family members who are concerned about my decision.  To them, I want to say thank you for loving me so much and being concerned about my safety.  Thank you for letting me know that you will miss me when I’m gone.  Thank you for respecting that my values are different.

While it’s true that there are people here in America who could certainly use help, they are probably still better off than the people in developing nations.  I really am not comfortable quantifying how much another person needs help, so I have a different approach to answering this question.  Yes, there are people in America who could use my help.  However, it was such a rich and rewarding experience to me to go to Kenya and learn about a culture different from my own.

Attitude of Gratitude

A Month of Gratitude

November 1: Today, I am thankful for all of the amazing people in my life who have helped me become the person I am today.

Mom: You are the strongest woman I know.  Your faith and your strength inspire me.  You taught me to never give up on what I want, my hopes, or my dreams.  Thank you for giving me life, having faith in me, always loving me, and being a great listener.

Dad: Throughout my life you have always shown me how to treat others with kindness and respect.  It seems your life mission is to help other people.  Thank you for having faith in me, always loving me, and inspiring me to make a difference in this world.

Jac: You are the best big brother anyone could ever ask for.  I am amazed at the growth I have seen you go through over the past few years.  I am so proud of you and so thankful to have you in my life.  Thank you for being a good communicator and always being the most supportive person in my life.

Rachael: You are so much stronger than you even realize.  You are an amazing mother and friend.  Your humility and dedication have shaped the person I am today.  It has been an amazing experience to watch you learn and grow.  I honestly can’t tell you how much I have learned about myself and about life from being your friend for so long.  Thank you for all of the valuable lessons you have taught me, your warmth, your love, and your undying friendship.

Falon: You can’t read this yet, but I want you to know that you make me want to be a better person.  I didn’t realize how much I could love another human being until I held you for the first time.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your life, even though you don’t really have a choice in the matter yet 😉

Holly: You are one of the kindest people I know.  I can’t tell you how much better it makes me feel every time we talk.  I know that water quality is your passion, but your empathy would make you a fantastic counselor.  You always put others’ wellbeing before your own.  Thank you for always being there for me and for showing me that it’s okay to express how I feel.

Cody: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  You are an amazing father and I am so happy for you and Laura Beth.  You helped me gain the courage to be myself and share my story with others.  You have always been there for me when I needed you and have always been honest with me.  I don’t know how to express my gratitude for all you have helped me learn.

Laura Beth: You taught me so much about growing up and becoming a responsible adult.  I’m still not quite there yet, but you have helped me learn about sacrificing for those I love.  Thank you for teaching me how to be a better person and friend.

Hanna: You are so incredibly strong and kind.  You taught me that I can share my feelings and thoughts and still be accepted, even if they are a little crazy sometimes.  Thank you for always being wonderfully supportive, understanding, and kind.

Monica: Your faith in me has been one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced.  Thank you for restoring my faith in myself and for teaching me that I am  a person worthy of love, respect, and kindness.

Shyra: You taught me that no one is perfect and that’s okay.  You have helped me to become more accepting of my flaws and appreciate the positive things about myself.  You showed me that it is okay to be a strong and open woman and that the right person will appreciate me for everything that I am.  You inspired me to go on a humanitarian mission trip that eventually led to me traveling to Kenya and applying for the Peace Corps.  Thank you for helping me learn to love myself and inspiring me to follow my dreams.

Jen: You taught me to take a deep breath, step outside of whatever is going on, and stop catastrophizing everything that happens in my life.  Thank you for helping me learn what focus is truly about, for always making yourself available to talk when I need to process something, and for helping me learn when to let go.

Joanne: You taught me how to rekindle old frienships and appreciate the growth and change others have gone through.  Thank you for letting me always be myself when I am around you.

There are many more of you who have had a positive impact on my life and the person I have become and I truly cannot express my gratitude for all of the kindness, understanding, and support you have all shown me.  I am not super thankful for the paper I have to go write that makes it impossible for me to include all of the people, but it is a part of being in graduate school, which I am very thankful for.


Day 2: November 2, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my amazing dad (Happy Birthday!) and my counseling program.

Today is my Daddy’s birthday!  I am so thankful that he is healthy and a huge part of my life.  I realize that I am biased, but my dad is pretty stinking amazing.  He is dedicated to helping other people, an awesome role model for me, my brother, and a whole slew of previous and current swimmers, and is learning every day about how to be more supportive of our differences and the choices I make.  I am so thankful that I was born his daughter and I hope I get to celebrate 56 more of his birthdays with him.

My counseling program can be stressful at times, but it has awarded me countless opportunities to do what I love and help make a difference in the world.  Some days I am very ready for it to be over, but this month of gratitude thing has made me realize that I should enjoy it while I’m here.


Day 3: November 3, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my rights and my safety.

As I get ready to go to sleep, I am thinking about the lovely children in Makuyu who are doing chores and getting ready to eat breakfast right about now. They are such bright, loving, kind young people and it makes me sad to think about how truly powerless I am to help them as a group.

In 2007, over one thousand Kenyans were killed in riots and ethnic violence following allegations of corruption in the Presidential election. In March 2013, the incumbent could go up against four individuals who have been charged with crimes against humanity for the part they allegedly played in the ethnic violence that took place in 2007. If any of the ICC Four win, Kenya could have a sitting President who will stand trial for crimes against humanity only a month after the election. If the incumbent wins, I fear more retaliation from the opposition. It breaks my heart to think that the children I grew to love so much could be in harm’s way.

It is sickening for me to think that the alleged instigators could not only get away with the crimes many believe they are guilty of, but be elected as important government officials. My experience of the Kenyan people I met was that they were kind, peaceful, and loving. It doesn’t seem that a president who condones violence, ethnic or otherwise, would be a good representative for the general population.

While emotions will run high this Tuesday, it is unlikely that widespread violence will occur regardless of the outcome of the American Presidential Election. Today, I am thankful for my safety and for the fact that I can post my political opinions online and otherwise share them with others without being fearful of being killed. I am thankful that I live in a nation where violence is not widely tolerated and I am thankful that all of my basic needs are being met. I am especially appreciative for the men and women who dedicate their lives to protect the rights of strangers such as myself.


Day 4: November 4, 2013

Today, I am thankful for all of the amazing opportunities I have been afforded over the past year.

I am immensely thankful for my graduate program.  The course work and the people I have met have taught me more about myself and about being a counselor than I ever realized was possible.

I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity I have been given to be a part of Falon Kathryn Renee Lindsey’s life.  I never knew I could love another human being so much, particularly not someone I am not blood related to, until I held my best friend’s daughter in my arms for the first time.

I wasn’t handed the opportunity to travel to Kenya.  That I made happen on my own.  But I am thankful for the circumstances in my life that made that dream a reality.  If my school schedule had worked out differently or if I had had a little less money saved, I wouldn’t have been able to go.

Being nominated for Peace Corps service is literally a dream come true.  I am thankful for the opportunity to work and compete to earn a spot living my dream for 27 months.


Day 5: November 5, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the amazing journey I am on to become the person I am meant to be.

All of the growth and change I have experienced over the past year would not have been possible without my amazing and supportive family, the old friends who always love and support me, and the new friends I have made who are courageous enough to always be honest with me.

As a human being, I am necessarily flawed.  While there are still many qualities about myself that I would like to change, I have come an almost unreal way from where I was in my life at this time last year.  My professors, friends, peers, and family have been wonderfully loving and supporting throughout all of the changes I have experienced.

I still have so much more changing to do and I know I have a long way left to go, but it is reassuring to compare the person I am now to the person I was a year ago.


Day 6: November 6, 2013

Today, I am endlessly grateful for the strong women who came before me and fought for my right and the rights of all my sisters to vote!

Thank you Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and countless others who enabled me to vote in this election for education, a woman’s right to healthcare, a woman’s ability to make her own choices, equality for all, equal pay, the safety of Peace Corps volunteers, affordable healthcare, the environment, responsible and clean energy, help for the people who need it and less breaks for the people who don’t, civil rights, diversity, same-sex marriage, food safety laws, holistic views about violence, and countless other ideals.

They allowed me to vote against bigotry, chauvinism, rich white males making  healthcare decisions for women, trickle down economics, policies based on religion, restriction of the morning after pill, de-funding Planned Parenthood and PBS, elitism, fracking, denial about global warming, abstinence-only education, discrimination, and countless other ideals.

Because of the women who came before us, the women of America were able to raise their voices and vote for their rights!


Day 7: November 7, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my graduate school program.

Even though today was heinous and long and stressful, I am thankful for the opportunity I have been given to learn and grow.


Day 8: November 8, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my support system.

I am grateful for the people in my life who I can turn to in times when I need support.  Their love, acceptance, and support help me to grow and learn and help me to process the things that go on in my life.


Day 9: November 9, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the immense courage and strength of one of my closest and dearest friends.

I am SO proud of you, Holly!


Day 10: November 10, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the love and support I have received from those closest to me.

I can be really hard on myself, but the people I have chosen to surround myself with lately have been amazing at lifting me up and helping me recover a lot of the self esteem I lost touch with over the past few years.  At the end of my last relationship, I was left feeling fat, ugly, worthless, needy, and unreasonable.  Though none of those exact words directly came out of his mouth, it was how I let myself be made to feel.

The people in my life now have shown me that true self-worth comes from the inside and from my ability to stop judging myself based on my assumptions about others’ perceptions.  I may not always think so, but I am pretty awesome at times.  I am compassionate, loving, caring, a good friend, dedicated, generous, funny, and beautiful.  I hope this post will be a reminder to me of that on the days that are tough.


Day 11: November 11, 2013

Today, I am grateful for the beautiful night sky.

There is nothing in this universe that affects me quite the same way as looking at the night sky.   Looking at the night sky offers me a fantastic perspective on being a part of something larger.


Day 12: November 12, 2013

Today, I am grateful for my access to healthcare.

My mom pointed out tonight that she is thankful she had the opportunity to go to the doctor today. We have this privilege as a result of two things: 1) My father working hard to get us health insurance and 2) the availability of quality healthcare in our area.

There are many places around the globe where we could not take a fifteen minute drive, arrive at the doctor’s office, be seen, and be prescribed a simple antibiotic. I am thankful for my access to physical and mental healthcare, particularly after having been in Kenya.


Day 13: November 13, 2013

Today I am thankful for, though saddened by, my many many privileges.

– I am white
– I have health insurance
– I graduated from high school
– I graduated from college
– I am working on my M.A.Ed.
– I have never truly gone hungry
– English is my first language
– My ancestors came to America by choice
– I am an American citizen
– I studied the culture of my ancestors in school
– People in the media look like me
– There were more than 50 books in my house as I was growing up
– I attended private school
– I was encouraged to attend college by my parents
– My family owned the house where I grew up
– My parents always told me I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be
– I have always had access to clean drinking water
– I have never had to go without shoes
– I have always had access to electricity
– I have never had to worry about my family becoming the victims of violence because of their race or religion.

There are so many more…. I am so grateful for my life circumstances, but so saddened by the fact that many many millions of other people will never have the same opportunities I will.


Day 14: November 14, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my parents.

We may have different views on some things, but they are supportive, kind, loving, accepting, generous, helpful, good people.  I could not ask for two better parents.  I love you, Mom and Dad!


Day 15: November 15, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my cohort.

When I entered graduate school, I figured that my relationships with people in my classes would be very similar to those I developed in undergrad (nonexistent).  It was such a pleasant surprise for me when I realized that the individuals in my classes were awesome, caring, supportive, funny, intelligent, charismatic people.

I don’t know where I would be today without my cohort.  We have shared times of great joy and intense sorrow, laughter, tears, hopes, fears, dreams, and insecurities with each other.  They are such an amazing support system to me and I truly value the friends I have made in my program.


Day 16: November 16, 2013

Today, I am thankful for migraine medicine.

That’s all.


Day 17: November 17, 2013

Today, I am thankful for relaxing evenings with friends I hold dear.

Sometimes all you need is to get out of the house and chat with a friend 🙂


Day 18: November 18, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the beautiful mountains that I have the privilege of calling my home.


Day 19: November 19, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my safety and for my basic needs being met.

As I sit in a car riding down the road typing this on my iPhone, I am endlessly thankful that my basic needs are all being met and that I don’t have to live in constant fear for my life.

Since 1998, over 5 million people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, making it the bloodiest conflict since WW2.

Today, I am thankful that I can sleep in my own home each night without having to be fearful for my safety or the safety of my family.

I am thankful for my food, my shoes, my clothes, my access to health care, electricity, running water, and all of the other things I have that I really don’t even need.


Day 20: November 20, 2013

Today, I am thankful for time with my family.

My three favorite people (plus another person who is quickly becoming one of my favorites) are all asleep under the same roof tonight and that makes me happier than I really know how to express.


Day 21: November 21, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my big brother.

Jac is always supportive, hilarious, and a wonderful person for me to talk to.


Day 22: November 22, 2013

Today, I am thankful of the reminder this activity has given me to be mindful and practice gratitude.


Day 23: November 23, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the amazing time I spent with my family.


Day 24: November 24, 2013

Today, I am thankful for good friends and good food!


Day 25: November 25, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the technology that allows me to share my gratitude with all of you.

I haven’t been as good about this for the past few days because I was just SO psyched to get to see my brother, Asher, and Sarah.  It was such a wonderful time spent with people I care about.  It was amazing to have myself, my brother, and my parents all in the same house again.


Day 26: November 26, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the time I got to spend with my mom while she was home.

I already miss her again.


Day 27: November 27, 2013

Today, I am thankful for Rachael and Falon.

No matter how awful my day is or how stressed out I am, being around them makes me feel calm and rejuvenated.


Day 28: November 27, 2013

Today, I am thankful for carpool.

It makes getting to and from class a lot more easy and fun!


Day 29: November 29, 2013

Today, I am thankful for phones.

It’s lovely to be able to communicate with the people I care about when we aren’t geographically close to each other.


Day 30: November 30, 2013

Today, I am thankful for Monica Dyck.

The fabulous friend who is always loving and supportive inspired me to do a month of gratitude.  I have learned so much about myself this month and reflecting on gratitude has made me incredibly thankful for everything I have.