And a crazy buzz in the pit of my tummy which I had rarely felt since becoming a mother!
These were just some of a multitude of swirling emotions which engulfed me on my recent trip to East Africa. Travelling solo to a part of the world which has a bad reputation regarding health and safety measures was a challenge indeed! Not being able to sleep for about two days due to the length of the journey was just one of the obstacles I had to face. My main worry on the plane was planning tactics on how NOT to contract yellow fever, typhoid, malaria, diarrhoea, aids… the list was endless.
I really did NOT want to spend my time in Africa perched over a teeny hole trying to perfect my aim in a delirious state. Most Ugandan toilets are basically small ( to my European eyes) holes in the ground with no flush system or water. So getting sick there is no laughing matter. As it happened, I shared my hole with another 5 families, in a shed which could barely host my ample hips. Fortunately though, this daily, aerobic activity turned out to be the most dangerous experience of my whole stay – I never felt threatened in any other way during my visit. Close friends in the medical profession had made sure my suitcase was packed with enough medical supplies to fill a pharmacy/chemist shop.
I actually needed NONE of them and even stopped using the eye drops I normally use in Greece. I didn’t even get a tummy bug or headache but was the healthiest I can remember being in many years in fact. I do believe I had more kilos in healthcare products than clothes packed in my bags, all of which were unnecessary.
Despite being full of trepidation on the outward flight regarding the dangers of bad hygiene and drinking water from a suspicious source, my main emotion was that of euphoria. I had done it!
I had thrown caution to the wind and embarked on one of my life’s ambitions after putting it on hold for decades.
Starting a family usually means, for most mothers, a period where work and life goals are put away in a storage cupboard to be taken out and savoured on rainy days whilst enjoying a cup of tea.Unless you are fortunate enough to have a full time nanny or family member to take primary charge of your offspring, most mothers are busy with the daily needs of nurturing and running a household.
That usually means our (pre-motherhood) burning ambitions and personal life goals are stored away in the closet and reappear for a brief dusting and airing once in a while but rarely see the light of day. That’s what happened to me when I had my two sons. I had always wanted to go to work with Mother Theresa in Kolkatta and had actually made the application to go and do my gap year in India. Life had different plans for me however, and due to a series of events I ended up going to Berlin to do my year out. I had an unforgettable life experience living in Germany and one of the first things I did was volunteer to work with senior citizens. Having been involved in volunteer work since secondary school, my needs in this area were certainly fulfilled and I have absolutely no regrets about my time spent in Germany. However, there was always a nagging regret that I hadn’t gone to India. I was devastated at the death of Mother Theresa on several levels and it was a final confirmation that I would never meet her personally – at least not in this life.
When my two sons were old enough to be left on their own at home I became much more active again in the community and focused my efforts on working with the huge number of Syrian refugees who have been entering Greece the last few years. I also became active in trying to encourage sponsors and supporters for a start-up or charity in Uganda.
The regret I had about not going to India manifested itself once again during my developing friendship and admiration for the group of young African pioneers who were striving to bring about change for children in their community. It had always been my dream to go and learn in a third world country. After receiving several invitations from the charity organisers to go and stay with them, so we could share our culture and ideas, I took a major decision; I thought it’s either now or never!
I really needed to grab that quietly smouldering dream and yank it out of the closet once and forever.
My family and friends were touchingly supportive and encouraging so the whole preparation went really well.
I don’t want to go into too many details in this post about my actual time spent in Uganda. It would take too long! I’ll save that story for my next post.
The point I want to share with you now is that however long you have shelved and stored your dream its RARELY too late to fulfill it or at least do some slightly altered version of it.
Where will YOU go or what will you DO to fulfill your dream(s) … which have possibly been put on hold?
Photo Credit: The Author