According to Earl Nightingale you need three things to succeed…..You need a plan, a road map and the courage to press on to your destination.
If you haven’t heard my story of how I ended up in Africa…. I’ll drop the link in the comments below, it’s a fabulous story that begins with Trent’s courage to overcome malaria and carry on! Trent overcoming malaria is what led me to going to Africa myself, that’s the part you know about. What I have NEVER told anyone is that as soon as I announced I was going to Africa on a Global Health Learning Abroad trip to satisfy my final credit for my degree I was paralyzed with fear. My mind went wild with all the reasons I couldn’t or shouldn’t do this:
- It cost too much
- I’ve never traveled this far alone (without family or friends that I know…. And TRUST!)
- I didn’t know ANYONE I was going with
- I couldn’t leave my family, I didn’t know if they would be ok without me (or the other way around)
- I’m not smart enough to do research with pre-med students
- Africa might not be like anything I’ve experience
- What if I get lost?
- What if I get kidnapped?
- What if a baboon attacks me?
- What if there is an elephant stampede and I get stomped?
- What if I get sick? WHAT IF I GET MALARIA?
My mind went CRAZY with all the “what if’s” ………however….. going back to school at the age of 46 to get my degree after a 25+ year hiatus had taught me a few things….
- I can do hard things
- I’m smarter than I think
- I’m braver than I know
So, I made a list of everything I needed to do to make this trip happen and each day I would do something on that list. This very act built a courage muscle in me that I didn’t know existed. And I just put one foot in front of the other on that road map, each new day.
Going to Africa and the research we did, changed my life. Working with 23 FREAKING PHENOMENAL women and 1 really cool dude …… along with the OUTSTANDING professors was an experience that will continue to shape me for the rest of my life.
And some of those fearful “What if’s” actually did show up…..
– Our plane was delayed and we missed our connection and got stuck in Paris (lost!)
– But guess what? WE SURVIVED!
– I didn’t know ANY of the people I was travelling with
- But guess what? I FELL IN LOVE WITH EACH ONE OF THEM
– Africa wasn’t like anything I’ve ever experienced
– But guess what? I found incredible respect and reverence for a culture and land I
knew little about
– I didn’t have all the amazing knowledge of the pre-med students
– But guess what? They taught me everything I needed to know and I succeeded right
alongside them with our research
– My family wasn’t ok without me, my dad died while I was on this trip
– But guess what? I SURVIVED….. And had a beautiful NEW family who rallied
around me with love, comfort and support…..
I’m so grateful I didn’t let the fear that gripped me in the beginning of my adventure keep me paralyzed. I wouldn’t have this picture if I’d quietly changed my mind about going because of fear.
This picture was taken of me the day we went into the furthest village for our research. I would listen to the children’s heartbeats with the stethoscope…. Then I would put the ear pieces on the kids so they could hear their own heart. I would show them with my hand over my heart … the thump, thump that they were hearing….. When they realized the sound they were hearing was the thump, thump I was imitating with my hand and THAT was the sound of their heart…. A smile would grow EVERY TIME!!! And my smile would grow as well as I joyfully exclaimed, “That’s your heart!” I got to show kids in Africa what their heart sounded like!!!! Do you KNOW HOW FREAKING COOL THAT IS!!!!!!
Thank you COURAGE….. What a blessed characteristic you have been as I have trusted you to lead my path more and more in my life.