Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Unexpected Journey: Tanzania Africa

An unexpected journey has boldly made its entrance…Tanzania, Africa.  My friends, family and clients keep asking, how did this journey come to be?

As a travel planner who has spent the better part of my career leading journeys – connecting people and place, this is my first group journey to make as a participant.  The tables are turned on me! I am not leading nor making any of the arrangements. I am gifting myself this journey to step into being among fellow travelers taking guidance from our soon to meet Tanzanian guides and drivers.  And a birthday present as I cross another threshold of living.

For years many clients have asked if I would plan a journey to Africa and I have typically referred them to search out expert tour companies that specialize in Africa. For many years, I was fortunate to assist in planning, researching, writing and fulfilling journeys to Ethiopia, Bostwana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Morocco for members of Noetic Sciences through Cross Cultural Journeys organizations. I would bid travelers safe travels from the comfort of my desk, maps and books, anxiously awaiting stories upon their return.  Paying it forward… here I am, March of 2011 packing my bag (YES only one Duffel) that is allowed on this overland journey.

This journey manifested from my affiliation with a group we call Big Ideas and Rich Conversations with Women.  http://sonomabigideas.blogspot.com.   If you click to the right under the older meetings posts in 2010, click on July 2010 and read about Sue Rickert.

We are a group of women mostly living in the Sonoma Valley and fourteen (14) of us from this group are heading to Tanzania.  We gather once a month anywhere from 35-80 women attending.  We have prepared topics of interest circling around conversations about our individual work, dreams and threshold leaps of change in our lives.  We seek to live inspired lives with our gifts and talents.  Our mission is simple: to be kind, open and flexible as we explore the journey of living the best life possible for ourselves while asking the question: What can we do for making this a better and safer world to sustain us all?  Our biggest surprise has been the inclusion of young teens into our meetings and hearing and seeing the enthusiasm and dreams they have for their future.  We hope through including them in our conversations that we are inspiring them that anything is possible!

I did not have Tanzania on my list to visit.  However, when Sue Rickert from San Francisco came to speak to our group last fall in 2010, we were in awe of her sharing how her ‘Big Idea’ came to be and how she has manifested her work in Tanzania.   We had no idea that this would lead to a journey to Tanzania.

In Sue’s words, her Big Idea came as a "pivotal moment that changed my life!" When Susan visited the Bashay Primary School in the Karatu region, she saw a wing of the school that had a dirt floor and no windows, doors or roof.  She was so moved; she collected the money for the new roof on the spot.

Susan has been collecting money every since. She has traveled each year to Tanzania for ten years and each time, she arrives at the local school with two questions: "What do you need?" How can I help?" Once the villagers select the project, she pledges to raise the money and return in a year to see how it is progressing. "Most of the time, the work is finished and I'm able to cut the ribbon," she says.

Over ten years, Susan has raised over $300,000 and funded new classrooms, schools, roofs, kitchens, dining halls, first-aid clinics and scholarships for thousands of children.

Susan's focus also shifted to another part of the world. Visiting a primary school in the village of Las Palmas in Peru, Susan discovered the need for a first-aid clinic. Within a year she was cutting the ribbon on first-aid stations in two separate villages and creating funds for emergency short-wave radios, solar panels for lighting and refrigeration of vaccines as well as soccer equipment for the school.

Our journey now includes a camera coming along with us to document stories and gather stories from the youth in Tanzania, and specifically in a school Sue supported being built. We will compare this with the short videotape that has been made here in Sonoma with local teenagers asking them similar questions such as, what is the world they envision for their future? Kathleen Quinn, our resident Big Ideas Videographer has overseen this project and will be editing the entire project once we return. You can see her work at  http://www.lifereflectionsvideos.com.

I do not know what dreams and stories I will return to share – but I do know I am in deep gratitude for the support of my beloved husband, family and friends that I am able to take this journey with this group of women that I am getting to know.

We will be in Tanzania camping in The Serengeti Plain during the Great Migration and that in and of itself – is too vast for my imagination. We will visit several schools, clinics and the nomadic tribe in a Maasai Village. 

Whether you travel to a far away destination or take a journey to tune into your inner voice.... oh yes that voice that silently directs your every action…. it may just lead you to a place that you never dreamed of…. Or did I?  It may come when you least expect. Seek out the invitation that is worth accepting.  Listen and observe how your asking of what gives meaning and contentment is shifting in your life.

For anyone who dreams of a journey – there is one waiting out there for you to just say YES! Even if you are not certain WHY – just say YES and the path will begin to illuminate and guide your journey.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Waking Up In Time

This morning I awoke very early and heard the voice…. Don’t go back to sleep…The Universe has something to say, don’t go back to sleep.  The wisdom of the words of Wayne Dyer allowed me to place my feet upright before the Sun….

I sit here lingering over my cup of coffee and Mac keyboard in the still of the blackness outside my atrium window.  I am pondering the words -Waking Up in Time? Waking Up for What?  We are all watching the world waking up, especially Africa. I recently read that 70% of Africa’s population is 30 years and under. They are surely waking up and claiming a life they deserve.

For this moment I am awakened to catch my breath in time. I have another day to wake up.  I am giving thanks for the profound movement of breathes. I think this is worth waking up in time to catch.  

Listen are you breathing just a little?  It can make a difference.  If you can always find some simple way to smile at life, life will always smile at you.