Friday, January 21, 2011

Off again, On again.

Greetings from India. Again.
I am just leaving Anjuna, Goa. I will take a series of local buses to be able to catch my very first sleeper bus to Kerala.
So far I have come across varied travelers and have come to find that Goa, India is a place where the Russians love to visit. Probably half of the countries within the UN are being represented by travelers to Goa this time of year. This is not hard to see why. It is India, but a much more beachy version.
I have been waking every morning at 7am to head to the beach for my morning chai (or even espresso) and a swim.
This whole process during the first 6 days has been much different than the last time. Easing out of jet lag and culture shock has been pretty smooth, and I am filled with gratitude for the travelers and locals I have come across thus far.
I eventually I will be heading north to visit the Magdum family in Sangli, to volunteer in Kolkata, and to eventually volunteer teach in Sikkim for two months. First will be some traveling in Kerala, as it is highly recommended by travelers.

More to come. Including pictures...


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Here are some pictures of my last days in Sangli, India in September. So memorable and filled with closure and connections. Life is constantly in motion. Just doing its life thing.

Sharing the Ganapati festival was clearly the highlight of the last days.

Seeing it from the perspective of local families was an experience that is without words. I have gratitude for the Magdum family for taking me in during this time and making sure I got to share in all of the rituals and ceremonies.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Lesson Will Come in Time.

For now, this will all be such a lesson learned in time.

It still feels as if a blog is not really the place to give lengthy reports about some of what has been transpiring. But what is so, is that for all involved, an agreement was made that we all took a chance to try something really new. And sometimes it is better to say goodbye earlier than later. For the organization, for me, and for the children.

This has probably been the hardest part to swallow, and can only really be truly understood in time.

The set up here posed several challenges that were without tangible resolution. So what to do here? Sometimes I don't know. I've stayed on before, to fight it though. And then, there are times when for all involved, moving on is best. The message here in many ways, appeared to be the latter.

With some perspective, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. This new small school in the middle of India really took a chance in bringing in such new energy to their tight knit group. Both the NGO and myself really bit off a huge bite of life. And someone reminded me this is how we all truly live, by taking the big kind of chances.

And as for you. You have been here all along. Quietly, and sometimes loudly rooting.

The heartbreak comes so much from not wanting this small story to discourage any of you in supporting a cause like this. That because of all of your support, encouragement, hope -- I made it here. I got to see what this was going to be all about. And learned about this beautiful culture, and some of the special causes it supports within its communities.

I didn't have a huge safety net to fall back on, other than the truth. And now I have learned that my visa will not allow for further volunteer work within India. As days passed, nothing tangible turned up. I was not drawn to come for an extended vacation, a service role was not materializing, and the clock was ticking before I was out of place to sleep. So, as my brother said: it's time to come home, eat a pizza, and plan the next step.

This is where turning it all over comes in. My intentions are not to come home. However, the next right thing to do is re-group. That scattered planning will not prepare me to truly be present for another organization, cause, or myself.

So in the end, the plane ticket has been bought. I am more dismayed than I can remember in recent times. And yet, I am constantly moving toward faith in it all. That truth is all we have to work on sometimes. The results are not up to me.

And because of you, there is a renewed sense of dreaming big. In understanding the power of support. And also, that I have shared so much, as well as gained, in this period of time. That it is clear there is still more to go around, more to be revealed, and more to be received. So know, in your efforts, that this is not going to be the end. That I will look forward to being in contact to discuss ways about returning any funding you may have provided. Because it was the energy behind the gesture, not the means, that made the biggest difference in all of this.

I have learned so much from you, and from life. And all of this was carried to the community I got to know here, especially the children.

I will return to India. In service or other. Of this I have no doubt. She whispers softly to me to come back, that I am welcome any time. Her colors are so rich, her people so passionate, her impact is lasting. So for now I will have to say goodbye to her. It feels like love lost. Like letting go. And I guess it is. So all this grieving is natural.

As for closing this chapter, I will stay a little over a week to get some closure with the community here. This part feels important. Many people took me in and shared with me the best part of Indian culture -- that we are all family in this life.

There is also a 7 day Hindu festival just beginning, to honor the god Ganesh. This is a major yearly celebration, involving a visit from Ganesh to everyone's home. And even Smita, my friend, told me that Ganesh was the one who helped me to decide to come home. And maybe she is right. I traveled to a large temple in a neighboring city two days ago. I ended up going to Ganesh. Talked to him, like a buddy, to say all that has been happening. He is such a jolly God. And then the next day, the answer came.

Who knows how any of this works. It all just does.

I love you all.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


A friend, who works as a volunteer coordinator in India, clued me in that the rose colored glasses have come off.

But why? I have found a pair that fit my face so well. I have coddled them with such care, that I have trouble when they droop or, gulp, slide off my face.

I think a lot. Surprise, no. Not my strongest quality. Especially in new terrain.

When I go out alone, with only my thoughts to guide, I can get lost a lot. Pulled in a million directions. Especially when they meet my good friend emotions along the road.

Recently, I have been right in the middle of a nice gooey million direction arena. At times I am not compelled to write in a blog, because what do I write? This last thought or direction? Or the one before that, which was so different? Hmm... I am tired of myself already, maybe I'll take a nap.

Usually I'm in search of the well worn attire of the diplomat. And my rose colored glasses go perfectly. It might make the pain real or felt if I really look at it. So instead, I usually dust off the outfit and put it on. Well, now it doesn't fit all that well. Overwhelm, confusion, doubt, and tears have burst the seams. Also, today it was a nice nudge of isolation.

Here's for more humbling: before school could even begin, I was in the toilet crying. Thinking of some kind of disentary excuse I could pawn off. Because so far stress seems to be translated less easily than digestional issues. Well, in the end, the truth came out instead.

Who knows what will come of all of this? Thank goodness I found out early on, I know little. I have been doing my best. And actually there is a lot of pride and courage behind this little glimmer of light.

Without drooling out all the minutia, it is clear there are some kinks in the dynamics. And there is some relief in knowing that now all involved (myself included) have a better idea of them.

Beyond all this, I recently stumbled upon a chance meeting with a Hindu devotee at the Krishna temple in a neighboring village. I kind of got swept up in the opportunity to travel by bus and didn't return home until late that evening. I am grateful that the currents of life can sweep me up when I least expect it. Land me right in the path of other spiritual women.

For all of the above. I will continue to be honest. I will continue to go slow. As no great decisions are made in haste.

Early this month, my being must have known I would need a little extra backing. I wrote this passage in my journal:

August 6, 2010

Elizabeth, I love you so much. Believe in your being here.
May you continue.
May you continue to rest in God, within, and without.
May you continue to be.
So many thoughts - all the time.
May they be your friend. Not your foe.
May they not tear you up or pull you off course.
May we use them as compost for this beautiful life.
You are beautiful.
We are all here, doing the best we can.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Ups and Downs

A good friend who traveled across the U.S. to move to the S.F. Bay Area said some days she would just go to sleep, if she felt overwhelmed.

I've lived other places abroad for at least a year, so this is nothing drastically new. But somehow feels new again.

Recently I visited a doctor because health issues were popping up. Turns out I have a clean bill of health. However, stress is the biggest culprit for the ups and downs.

Some days are harder than others. May be part of the reason for the recent communication disconnect. I see the roller coaster coming. Or more like ocean waves. Some toss, some lull, some suck me under. And I don't really remember what part of the beach I started at when I surface.

Today sucked me under. Was the fist whole 10 minute period I considered not staying for the duration.

Children, or other humans for that matter, always let me know where I am at in life. Sometimes it is harder than others to be clear about what that means. Or which direction to go next.

So today, I will not leave. I will remember that children acting out has pretty much nothing to do with me. And that stress tears can be healing.

Sharing about it and finding a quiet space, usually lead to some kind of clarity I could not think up on command.

With Love, E

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Worth a Thousand Words...

Our science experiment: can carbon dioxide (air) power a boat?

Two birthday parties in the same evening. Sagri's 11th Birthday was first, then Shravani's 15th.

Scooter with Shruti...

At school. Playtime, and the viewers.

On the left is the students' growing art gallery. Also, they LOVE balloons.

Friendship day. Celebrated August 1st. Bracelets are tied between friends.

The Magdums. My new Indian family. On the left, we are getting Shavani ready for school on her birthday. The right: craft time.

On Saturdays I travel to Nippani, to a youth hostel 2 hours away. I teach an English lesson to the 32 students. The ride there is SO green. This day, we celebrated Laxmi's birthday at the end of the lesson. My heart melts pretty often here. Especially at the amazement that lack of language is only a minor issue.

On the left, is just following a local cell phone commercial advertisement shoot (a random happening, as looking different is good for business). My yoga teacher is on the left. The photo on the right, at the Magdum's. Sino, the golden one, is my new dear friend.

Friendship day. I made flowery bracelets on the spot, as each neighbor dropped in.

These last photos are a mix from around home or at the outdoor market.

For the time being, I may not be carrying on a ticker-tape of the happenings. I am trusting a current internal gravitational pull away from the internet. However, my camera is a near and dear companion, along with my journal.

I am learning to make friends with my heart, my digestive system, experiences of fear and tension, my spirit, and also my community.

I send warm and fulfilling thanks to all of the support sent through the airwaves. Some days as I sense some kind of unwinding, or winding up, I trust it is others' thoughts and well wishing. Just the other day, I pictured some of you. Sitting in my room. Exchanging big hugs. So sustaining.

The days you feel a cool breeze pass you, a strength in your heart, or some restful sleep -- it may be my prayers being sent out. This practice keeps me company more than words could ever explain. It also helps me to realize that love, home, and strength is anywhere I am. Living through the spirit of being.

This last video is a little slice of an evening in the neighborhood. I live in the part of Sangli that was built up in the last 20 years or so. A little quieter and open. In the city center, it is wall to wall houses, history, people, everything. And Sangli is about 10 times the size I had anticipated. About the size of Berkeley, CA -- but feels more like Oakland's eclectic mix (only all of this is in India).