Healing Heartbreak with Service

As I have seen over and over again in my life, and I am so fortunate to have learned this lesson early on, the very best way to heal from heartbreak, personal problems and pain, is to get OUT of yourself. How do you best accomplish that? Service.

Serving others takes the focus off of yourself, brings you out of whatever hole of hurting you are in, and lets you actually give something to others who need it, when you didn’t even think you had anything left to give. When you least expect it, when you are finally not being absorbed in your pain or problems or heartache, you receive even more back than you had ever imagined. You receive healing. Peace. Joy. Refuge from being wrapped in yourself. Release. All while contributing goodness into this world that only then grows exponentially.

These past few months, as amazing as they have been here in Guatemala, have thrown some hard blows at me. Thankfully God had already put in place ways for me to serve, to help and be healed by finding a respite outside of wallowing in my own pain. I had been heartbroken. I had been hurt so badly by a love I trusted in. I had a family member die while I was far away from my family. And I kept adding on things to feel sorry about. I was heading towards throwing a pity party, no, a pity-block-party-bash-o-thon. Then I remembered the most healing thing I could do: surrender up my hurting and trade it in for joy by working with others and giving something of myself. I had the most amazing opportunities to do this in Guatemala.

The San Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua is home to many mentally disabled and special needs people, and I was blessed with the opportunity to work with and serve them. My favorite was celebrating birthday parties with the children, playing ukulele for and with them, helping to feed and take care of these precious kids, and just spend time with those who really valued my presence. It was humbling. It was hard to see and have hope at times. But most of all, it was FUN.

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Mickey plays my ukulele like a rock star!

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Happy Birthday! Such Joy is best shared.

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Lupita and I having a silly day. These kids make me smile so much, even when I didn’t feel like smiling before.

When I was living in the mountain town of Magdalena, I was able to volunteer with a child sponsorship program which helps kids continue education and have the resources to be able to go to school and get an education. I delivered gifts from a proud sponsor in Seattle to her girl, Lurian, who had just decided to continue on past 6th grade, thanks to the contributions and belief her sponsor had. I played with the precious children of a woman that made such an impact on my life two years ago, Delia. Her beautiful baby, Raquel, was a twin but had lost her sister last year. Yet the joy and love and warmth of this family radiated and healed me, with my suddenly insignificant problems. Here I was trying to “do good” but having more good touch my life than I could have ever asked for.

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Lurian is so happy to get her special presents!

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The beautiful children of Delia: Raquel and Katarina.

Working in a health clinic helped me to be close to families really struggling with basic needs, the worry of keeping their family healthy, and the stark presence of child malnutrition. Once again, putting my self-absorbing problems into perspective, bringing my blessings to the surface of my mind. I really wasn’t even contributing that much, I weighed and measured children, sorted medical files, took blood pressure, and painted little girls’ nails. But just spending time with others and giving of my time and talents in any way I can, brought with it a tremendous and disproportional amount of joy and purpose.

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Playing nurse and beautician at the clinic.

This blog post isn’t at all to say, “oh look at me and all the good I am doing in the world”, but rather the opposite. It is to say how humbled I am when I, for a second, step away from my problems that may seem huge and insurmountable to me at the time, and start to give to others instead. To contrast my life and all its blessings with those who are struggling in their hurt as well. We can move through it together, I can serve where I can, and I can be blessed immensely by trying to be a blessing for others.

There is no quicker way to feel joy in the midst of pain than service. Service is a healer, and it works on a two way street. Give and you will get. Be selfless and you will receive. I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to serve, especially when I felt a lot of things crumbling around me. Peace enveloped me, and I grasp to that sense of purpose that comes from trying to bring any measure of good into this beautifully broken world.

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peace and blessings, and joy from giving be upon you all — Kira

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Muse-lings – The Seedlings of Change

I suppose 2 am is a good a time as any to let in the tiny thoughts and seeds of change. Sure it invites a feeling of craziness, but that helps keep the harsh judgement of daylight to a small whisper. Newness begs to be drawn out, change is tired of waiting its turn in the corner of the room, and ideas seem plausible with freedom egging them on.

What I am getting at, is that the feelings of a person are validated. Whether that be at 2 am after quite an absence from writing, or whether its just another 20-something BA graduate with too many emotions to keep to herself. Its validated due to my humanity; my person-hood.

So, how much can a person change and in how much time? A solid friendship be stolen away by a disease that changes a person more rapidly than I had imagined possible– that’s change. But that is the kind of change I am aiming to avoid and deny. The change and 2 am ideas I am grasping at here lead to newness, to being shaken up, clean out, pumped up with passion, and revamped in a still, small way, with all the loudness of a soul at peace. I say grasping. Grasping will not work with something as intangible and vaporous as what I’m dreaming up.

What does the morning bring with it apart from the reliable pink horizon of another day? Resolve. A dream memory of the vapors and wishes of change and drive. Live into it. Deny comfort and see the results. Don’t like it? Don’t dwell, move on and journey on to shaking up the next part.

We are never broken. We are all ok, its the journey we must cling to.

Celebrations, Learning, and Garbage

Of all the times to be in Guatemala — this is a pretty great time to be here. Elections, Independence Day, Dia de los Muertos, and the start of the sunny spring season.

Yesterday was the Dia de La Independencia for not only Guatemala, but all of Central America. It started on Wednesday night with runners from central park here in Antigua running a lit torch to the pueblos around the city, with boys running ahead blowing on whistles to “ring in” the Independence day. All day on the 15th were parades of students from the many different schools playing more drums than I have ever seen in my life. Marimbas (the national instrument) were abundant in the square as the people celebrated their freedom and showed their patriotism. Blue and white flags graced the city, and everyone had a sense of excitement and alegria.

Independence Day Parade in Antigua

My roommate and I, however, spent most of this joyous day doing research for our capstone paper which is due very very soon. This stress has been the worst part of this trip, because we want to go out and really See Guatemala and experience the culture; which is difficult to do when we are having to assign every hour to class or homework or writing. But soon it will all be over! This time next week I will be laying out on the Caribbean beach, celebrating being done with University and ready to move onto Spanish language school and my internship. Until then: writing and cramming information into my head faster than it can hold it. Yet I am still having one of the greatest experiences I could have hoped for–I get to be a part of  great things going on here. It was a blessing to see one of those things today.

Today was an amazing experience. The Global Development class took a trip into the capital, Guatemala City, in the morning to visit Compassion International and a church that is partnering with them to help the children and families who live in the trash heaps of the city. We visited the city dump and got to see the community of people who live and work there, recycling anything they find for pathetic amounts of money (about 30 Quetzals a day, which is only about 5 dollars a day). With this money they have to buy the “clean” water brought in every once in a while by a truck. Here is a picture of the tubs of water that cost about 6 of their Queztals:

I loved seeing h0w the kids of this community are still being kids, playing (even if it is around garbage and in polluted water) and laughing. The church and the people who do development in the community try to emphasize that the kids are not allowed to work, but sometimes they want to help their parents.

I got to chat a lot with the wife of the pastor, who also serves as the main doctor of the medical team that gives services to this community and the homeless around Guatemala City. Her name is Laylah, and she was so happy to answer all the questions I had. It was such a blessing to be able to translate for my other classmates and to talk about complicated issues with Laylah in Spanish. Thankfully my time translating at Agros International in Seattle has taught me pretty useful vocabulary, like human development, maternal health, and governmental support. The program in the trash community has been running for about two years, and Laylah described to me how much progress and improvement she has seen since they first started. She remembers going to the dump and seeing the people wrapping themselves in nylon fabrics and sleeping in the piles of garbage. Now there are dirt paths, less garbage, shanties of metal, and they are starting to put in concrete floors for many of the families to improve health.

So a good way to sum up my time in Guatemala so far? Learning. Sure it’s a fatiguing experience, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. I am so blessed to be able to learn in a place like this, and see what I have been studying for years first-hand. Tomorrow? I am going to hike a volcano. No joke. As part of my earth science class, we decided it would be pretty applicable if we got to see actual lava flows. I’ll be sure to take pictures and post as soon as I find a spare moment! Thanks to all who read this horribly long post, and to all of my new SPU readers out there! Many blessings on you all —

Namaste, –Kira

 

Summer in This City, Means…

I’m sitting here in the rare, but ecstatically celebrated, Seattle sun– enjoying my summer and my freedom, and a few much needed days off work. This is my first summer here in Seattle, and I am at coffee shop number two for the day, soaking in all Seattle is best at: unique coffee shops, nature, and yoga. In my rejoicing in the sun, I am wearing a sun dress and watching the ships pass along the canal. Life is good.

It is always so important to remember that. Many of my friends tell me they like or are amazed at how optimistic I am. I try to be that way as much as I can, but of course I am not always in a chipper mood. And when I find myself down, I have to follow one of my own “Rules of Thumb” for my life: It’s ok to cry; it’s not ok to wallow in sadness. So I look at moments like this, where I am happy to be me, happy to have the life and opportunities and friends I have, and I make sure to count my blessings, tracking them in my mind to store at a later date, when I can pile them up and see that the heart of life is good and beautiful.

I am a relational person…very much so. We are made as relational beings, but I mean, I really love people. However, it follows that I really like being in a relationship. So I am learning that single is not just ok, it can be good. It can be great. Those times when I think its not fair that my exes are happily married and engaged and have someone, are the moments when I need to remember most that life is good. My life is good! God has great things in store for me, I know; He promised me so.

So, Optimism, here’s to you sticking with me. Here’s to Seattle being a great place to live. Here’s to the faith I have in God’s promises. Here’s to coffee, yoga, sunshine, dresses, and love. And to finally having the time to write new ukulele songs! Always hope. Always.

Namaste

–Kira

How bitter sweet, this, would, taste

I want this to be a closing of a chapter. Please, please let me move to the other side of this. It sure feels like it. Bittersweet, tears and hope.

I wrote a letter. I needed to be honest with myself; not trying to justify my feelings to others to mold them to how they “should” be. So I wrote out that ball of hurt anxiety in me and it felt good to pour it out through a pen and stain my fingers with it.

I came home from work and felt like it had to be now or never. There is such a finality about marriage that conjured up this anxious feeling in me. So I called. It rang. I finally spoke to him. And after all these months it was ok. I said my piece and even wished him the best. There was no anger in our conversation. There was feeling.

So now I let him go. I have been trying so hard to, for so long. Now that this chapter is closed, he is getting married and I was able to hear closure, I can really heal for good. I know I will find who I am supposed to find, and they will be perfect for me. And so stems hope from this too. Bittersweet.

Adele will tell you the rest–

Peace and Blessings on you all,

Namaste — Kira

Time?

If there is one thing most needed for healing, it’s time. That distancing from what you were hurt by, the experiences of joy and life that make you remember what it feels like to not be so hurt.

The silly thing about time though, is that it never listens to us or our wishes. It never goes quickly enough, or slowly enough, for us to ever be satisfied. I know that to go from painful point A to whole and happy point B, I have a lot of time to cross. I just wish I was closer to point B than I am right now.

But there is hope, there is always hope. I can see, even now in the moments when I want to give into this unfair hurt, that I have made some progress. I don’t dwell on it everyday, like I did before. It still cuts deep, but I can carry on. I know it only gets better…but as I said before, it requires time.

So I carry on, I strive forward to point B where I can feel ok, where I can move on with my life and love, where I know I will be so much better off than I was before. I pray I can make good use of this time, this healing, that I am given.

 

 

Namaste —

Kira

Away We Go

I don’t think any movie has made me cry like this ever…

Away We Go is SO GOOD! I know, that is bad review language…But I don’t feel like this is a review so much as it is my soul responding to seeing such beauty and longing.

I have always had such an admiration for pregnancy. I think pregnant ladies are the most beautiful people on earth, and the miracle of birth brings me to tears and fills me with such hope. I long to be pregnant and cannot wait to be a mother and bring a new life into this world. Because of these deep set hopes and longings in me, watching a movie about a pregnant woman and her man who loves her so well, stirs a deep well in me. Yes, at parts it is a sad movie, but mostly it is funny and searching. It asks big questions of how to love someone selflessly, what raising a child looks like, and where home is truly is. All of this has been weighing on my recently and it broke over me in waves when I watched this movie.

As I type, I am also buying the soundtrack for Away We Go, cause the music is fantastic. It is soothing and acoustic and touches the places in your heart you reserve for the type of love that will last through all of life’s journeys.

Here is one of the hopeful songs that paints the movie: All of my days by Alexi Murdoch

I can just pray that God will bring a love into my life that will take care of me through all of our decisions, that will want to be a father as much as I want to be a mother, who will adore every quirk about me, and maybe will cry at beautiful movies with me…

Here is to trusting the most trustworthy being. I will wait upon the Lord my God.