Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My 2 Year Anniversary in Africa :)

Sunday, June 26:
            Well, today is my 2-year recovery and I almost forgot until I saw the date on my computer this morning.  It kind of stinks because nobody knows that I am in recovery except for Anna, and I haven’t told her that today is my 2-years.  That’s okay though, because my recovery is about me, and the fact that I am in Africa making a huge difference in people’s lives is a true showing of all the progress I have made.  2 years ago, I couldn’t even take care of and make myself happy, let alone other people.  I am very proud of myself, but I have also learned a lot about myself while being in Africa and have realized that there is a lot more progress for me to make. I am still extremely critical of myself and compare myself to everyone around me.  And by comparing myself, I am referring to comparing my body.  Africa has been an extra challenge for me since I haven’t been tanning and am officially paler than I am in the winter at home. True statement.  Also, having to wear clothes that I would not wear at home and also not being able to workout here, even though I know I am being active everyday while with the kids and walking to the bus, exc.  This whole trip has been challenging with ED, and while the days here have gotten easier, they also get harder.  The only time I feel that I am truly distracted from ED and my appearance is when I’m at school with the children, or when I get to come home after school and change into my typical yoga pants and tee-shirts.  I have also realized while being here that I rarely live in the moment.  I am always thinking of the future, and while being ambitious is a great thing, it’s not great when it holds me back from truly engaging in present situations and letting myself take in every moment.  I have really been focusing on trying to do that here, but I am always thinking about what am I going to teach the children tomorrow?, or what can I do today to make me feel better about my appearance tomorrow?, or constantly wondering about the safari and the orphanage.  I really need to make myself stay focused on the present, on this day. Carpe diem.  I want to leave Africa having no regrets, feeling that I gave my all to these children and really engulfed myself in every activity and event that took place.  I know that most of the reasons I am not able to “seize the day” is because I am still so self-conscious about many parts of myself that the thoughts tend to consume me.  Although I don’t act on those thoughts and take it out on my eating, or myself which is huge progress in 2 years! I still need to work on not letting the thoughts consume me.  Hopefully sometime very soon, the thoughts won’t exist at all and I’ll finally be able to think and act completely 100% normally about body image.
            Anyways, today has been a complete lazy day, which I definitely needed! We all woke up at 9 am (got to sleep in, woohoo!) and got breakfast and sandwiches to make for lunch later.  Katie and I came back to our rooms and read (I’ve been reading so much on this trip and Katie’s given me some great books!), and then went back to sleep.  Now it is 2 pm, and I am about to get ready for the dinner Annie is throwing for us tonight at her house. She is cooking us all dinner and there is a cash bar, but other than that I don’t really know the plan for tonight.  I will post again when I get back tonight, probably around 7 is my guess. Katie and I have no idea what we will be teaching this week, but thankfully in that regard there’s only 3 days of us teaching.  Well, touch base later! Peace, love, Malawi.

Tonight was the most perfect recovery celebration I could have imagined thanks to Annie and all the amazing people on this trip with me.  We arrived to Annie’s house at about 4 pm and from the moment we got there we were all absolutely shocked.  We pulled up and were welcomed by a Church choir as well as a tribal dance ceremony.   Her house was, without a doubt, the most beautiful house we have seen in Malawi and Dr. Kelly said that in accordance with American standards, Annie would probably be a millionaire. How crazy is that? (Yes, I do realize how often I am using this expression, but things are continuing to surprise me each and every day.)  We all socialized, drank and danced for about an hour before our amazing dinner was served. It was, by far, the best meal I have had on this trip, and the fact that it was free made it that much better. (Not like the 3-dollar meals here are costing me much money, anyways.) 
The dinner setup was so beautiful.  There were long red tablecloths on 3 long tables, with the exact number of chairs for all of us.  The dinner was buffet style, and I had some rice and beans, a vegetable mix, and a little bit of spaghetti bolognaise.  Of course we all spotted the 2 chocolate cakes from the moment we arrived, so I was saving up room for the dessert when everyone was going up for seconds of dinner.  Finally we had the dessert, and although I probably wouldn’t have liked it in America, it definitely hit the spot and we were all so excited to finally have a sweet.  Of course I indulged in 2 pieces, as most of us did, since we’ve all been craving sweets for the past 2 weeks.  After dinner, it started getting dark and we tribal danced for about an hour and then had another showing from the choir who had the most beautiful voices.  To wrap up the night, we danced in the “Discoteca”, where Annie had huge speakers set up on a stage outside and blasted fun dancing music.  We all got to meet Willie and Annie’s family, which was so nice, and the evening was just perfect.
On the way back to the Lodge at about 8:30, I realized how truly proud of how far I have come.  Even though I have progress to make, who doesn’t have progress to make in their lives?  I’m just fortunate enough to know where progress is needed, and what I need to do to get there.  While I might not be able to eat what I want while I am here, or be able to workout, I am living exactly like 20 other teenagers my age are living and that is a huge accomplishment in itself.  Well, that wraps up another great week. Talk tomorrow. Peace, love, Malawi.

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