If there is anything I have learned in the past decade, it’s that life has a tricky way of working out. It’s a constant bittersweet dance- blissful happiness interlaced with intense moments that overwhelm you in tragedy, pain and heartache. Resiliency. You learn to weather storms, dance in the rain and to enjoy the simplicity of life.
We struggle as we learn to live gracefully, to grow and adjust to the ebb and flow of life. The hardest and most painful part of this process is the willingness to better yourself as a human, as a person. To accept and embrace change.
Willingness to change is essential and instrumental in growing. Unfortunately, change is the single most difficult process – every.single.time. No matter how many times you face it. It breaks you to your core, strips you to the bone and showcases all of your vulnerabilities. Embracing change screams to the world- I am going against the odds, I am at your mercy, I am entering a path of the unknown and yet I have hope. I have hope for change! It’s terrifying, overwhleming, exciting and just simply addicting. At least for some, it is.
Is it normal for one to thrive on change? To have the desire to constantly stir things up in life? To explore the road less traveled? Well, in my case the answer is YES! Simply because this is me, this is my normal.
For so long, Americans spend their waking hours planning, prepping, learning and working hard longing to build a “healthy” bright future. A safety net of being “Responsible”. Sure, there are moments where one may wake up in pure bliss basking in their success. But I guarantee these moments are short and rare. That’s because we all know as true Americans- you quickly move into the next project, job, start up or whatever. Seeking more and more – more superficial, more materialistic – simply because you can. It’s a nonstop, vicious cycle. It is the American lifestyle. You work to live. Now, this lifestyle is extremely gratifying to a lot of Americans, and perhaps this is a great way of living. Perhaps. My struggle…. no one teaches you what to do when you are near success and you yearn for more than this acceptable lifestyle. What do you do when your soul is depleted and empty? Your soul aches for more than just tangible, materialistic comforts. What do you do when you suddenly wake up, look at life and say, “Is this it?”
The words, Choose your Struggle Wisely, hit close to home.
The American life is often disguised by financial reward, benefits of healthcare insurance, a great retirement plan, and cush work hours. It overshadows the reality that you do have a choice every single moment, every single day. You choose the life you live. You choose the job you have. You choose how you spend or save your money. You choose happiness just as you equally choose misery. At the end of the day, you are the only one who chooses your struggle every damn day.
The big question I asked myself …. Is this the struggle I want?
So I made a change. I made the choice to step away from my cush life; away from the materialist comforts of living in the incredible SF Bay Area. I left my love for coastal trail runs in the Marin headlands, the ridiculously amazing FOOD in the bay, Sunday Brunch scenes, the comfort of an incredible NP job, stellar coworkers and endless birthday/holiday celebrations. I left it all behind. I uprooted my life and moved to Africa. I made the choice to join something that was creating change, pushing the standards and raising the bar to help improve healthcare on a global sustainable level. I made the choice to help promote the right that every human should be entitled to receive access to effective healthcare no matter where they are born in this world .
Luckily for me, my timing and urge to be a part of something so ideal was ironically in my favor. In 2013, this organization, better known as the Peace Corps collaborated with Seed Global Health and PEPFAR on what is now known as Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP). The mission is to strengthen health systems, share knowledge and save lives. Pretty dreamy for this little heart of mine.
So as of July 2016, I joined the Peace Corps as a Pediatric Nurse Educator. I am currently working and living in Malawi, Africa.
(Below is a glimpse of my GHSP training in DC prior to my departure to Malawi. Incredible opportunity & experience. Kind of like a dream come true.)
Curious about what this GHSP is all about? Check out this awesome TEDX talk from the founder Vanessa Kerry (yes, that would be Secretary of State, John Kerry’s daughter). Enjoy the TEDx Talk and hopefully understand why I feel this project was worth moving to Africa for.
Global Health Service Partnership, TEDx Talk *Click on link *
Stay tuned for more updates, thoughts and insights on my life in Malawi.
Be well. Be kind. Be curious.
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Awesome. Ashley. Enjoy and be Safe.
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