Deep breaths. I am off to Uganda.
It started when my oldest and dearest friend sent me some books, urging me to read them in the hope that I would find some peace after the last few years of craziness. Said friend is very wise and I always listen to her advice. She is never wrong. Sorry to put you on a pedastal P but you know it's true.
One of the books was called "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Maybe you've read it, or maybe you've only heard of it (in which case, please read it). I not only read it, but I digested it. This book spoke to me like only a few books have done in my lifetime and in fact I am already reading it again. It is beautiful, honest, spiritual and forced me to ask myself questions about choices I had made previously and the direction I was heading in now. Suffice to say, it struck a cord and I knew it was time to "get real".
And that's where I have landed my focus. On the get real bit. The last few weeks have been exciting as far as my thought process goes. On holiday with my son and his girlfriend, I did a heck of a lot of thinking and reading. I emptied my mind, basked in the sunshine and had a serious word (or two) with myself. I came back to England energised and excited about a few conclusions I had reached . . .
To cut a long(er) story short, I have always been interested in volunteering in a third world country - this may come as a surprise to some of my friends as it has been a "silent" dream, quietly stored at the back of my mind with various other "to do's" on my list. Growing up in the States and being 'bomarded' with Peace Corp information in schools and on television, and then attending a Montessori school where our teacher was a hyperactive but loveable "eco-warrior", forced me to keep my eyes open to the world. When I explained all of this to my family recently, there were raised eyebrows and a general vibe of "You?! My dear, you would die from lack of room service". Okay okay, I hold my hands up - I do like my creature comforts and my childhood was spent in the All American Dream World of gated communities and private schools. But I'm not unaffected by the world around me or a "plastic fantastic" who won't get her hands dirty; my privilaged childhood does not define me. And I know I can do this.
I have found two volunteering placements that I am very interested in and excited about. One is a school/orphanage in Uganda (cue my mother freaking out - and then me, slightly, when another dear friend informed me that she had been shot - in the face! - when she herself was in Uganda) and the other is an amazing centre juggling women's health and foster care for street children in New Delhi. I emailed both and had responses back saying "Of course you are welcome to come. When?". Wow. That is about as real as it gets.
So at the moment I am busy booking injections at the doctor, fine tuning a packing list, downloading visa forms, and of course reading up on the places I will be visiting. This is all very exciting, and very scary. I'm stepping far outside my comfort zone . . . but I believe it is what I need and I can't wait to get out there!