Lesson #36: Take time for gratitude, for there is so much to be grateful for.

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After a series of significant changes it is hard to capture the rush of emotions that one undergoes. To choose what to write about is tricky when a week and half of ones life feels like a month. Yet today it is gratitude that floods my being.

Gratitude.

It is cliché to come to a place with less and realize all that you have, yet it is also imperative.

To be born a woman in a country that allows me freedom of expression and the ability to make my own decisions.

In most part of the world to be a born a women is to be born with a gender handicap. While the unfortunate reality is that female oppression is still a reality in the world at large, I have been fortunate enough to have been raised in a family, community, and part of the world that value both my voice and my influence as a woman. In my country and in others violence is unfortunately still the norm, every year 150 million woman are victims of sexual violence, and when it comes to human trafficking 80% of all victims are girls. My experience is such that I have escaped such atrocities. As a woman I have always felt empowered, influential, and bold. These traits have contributed to my ability to be confident and ripe with the belief that my voice is one of importance. I am grateful today to have been born a woman who was given the chance to develop her unique and courageous voice.

For creature comforts to be the norm, not the exception.

Here power cuts happen almost daily. Hot water is infrequent. Dirty hair and clothes coated with dust can be expected. It is these simple luxuries that we forget to acknowledge when they are a given, when paying attention to our wants is acceptable because our needs are so easily taken care of. I am grateful to have had these things so that developing myself has been the priority. Here I am taken back to a rhythm of life that is dictated by circumstances outside of myself, where simple pleasures such as the ability to Skype familiar faces and use the electric tea kettle in the morning have the power to change one’s day.

To have a passport that has granted me opportunity and mobility.

I had to add pages to my passport a couple months ago. Now it is a bursting collection of stamps and visas from all over the world. Why so many stamps? Sure I love to explore and have always had the curiosity level of a bright eyed child, yet it has a lot more to do with the blue booklet that I have been issued. As a citizen of the United States I have access to an astronomical 172 countries without needing to be issued a visa (add in visas and almost all 196 are at my fingertips). Compare that to Sri Lanka and the Sudan who are only allowed into 38. As a US citizen I have the most access to other countries where citizen from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia all have the least. Yes, individually I was born a traveler but I am grateful to have been born into a country that let me fulfill this personal desire.

To have an incredible support system that lets me live boldly, unafraid of failure.

I wouldn’t be where I am without the incredible support of my family and friends. Anyone who is able to live boldly, to trust in the future, to take risks most likely has an incredible group of people behind them encouraging them through the process. I wouldn’t be in Tanzania today without the family and friends that helped me through some difficult months recently. Who gave me endless hugs, who told me they thought I was amazing, who Skyped with me at 3 in the morning when I needed it, who told me I could handle whatever I set my mind to. I am incredibly grateful to the people who have been there for me along the way.

To have been provided with an education that has supported my development.

In over 50 countries school is not free, a basic education is a privilege not a right, which means that annually 66 million girls are out of school. Education is power, education is confidence, education is what allows us to create wild dreams and chase them with reckless abandon. Today I am grateful to have been provided with such an amazing group of teachers and school systems that believed in my potential, helped me grow, and provided me with the tools to be resourceful.

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