It is happening! I am officially going to Sri Lanka, also known as the teardrop of India. Surfing The Nations has been doing international trips to Sri Lanka for several years. This years is July 5 - 29 and I get to be part of it!
What started with a thought some months ago is now becoming reality. I have been accepted to go and serve the community of Arugam Bay for a month. The heart behind this trip is building relationships with the locals through cooking meals for them, taking the kids swimming and surfing and teaching them English, watching movies together and loving on the people there. Surfing is used as a tool to connect with the locals. A big project is developing the surf base that more people can stay there and serve the community.
Here is a little introduction video of Sri Lanka.
I have a strong desire to pour into the kids, to help build the base, to give back to the people of Arugam Bay. Now, I NEED YOU! To make this all possible, I need to raise $3000. I am looking for one time donors and monthly supporters. If you are interested in supporting me and my mission, these are the ways to give:
Thank you so much for considering this. It means a lot! If you would like to know more about the whole trip shoot me a text!
Why do we always wanna be were we are not? Is it because we think life is better somewhere else? More exciting or easier?
Maybe you saw these fun pictures of your friends that are on a concert. You want to be part of that too but you have to babysit your niece. Or your co-worker is on a vacation in Greece while you have to study for exams at home. Is life actually better elsewhere?
Honestly, I‘m not sure. If we always have this view of wanting more or something better, we will never be content with what we already have. Life is a true blessing. We should really appreciate it more. I think it is just a question of perspective. We can make the best out of our day and life wherever we are. And the truth is, we will always miss out on amazing things somewhere. If we are gone from home or at home - we will miss out since we can not be everywhere at the same time (sadly). You have the choice: Eather you can be annoyed about your life, always waiting for the next exciting thing to happen. Or you can seize everday, live in the now and enjoy it. Do you wanna be waiting or living?
For my part, I try to apprechiate what I have and try to see every situation positive. This is not always easy. Nevertheless, it makes life overall brighter.
Why am I writing this? Today I left my home for a long time. The longest I have ever been gone from my loved ones and my beautiful country. Saying goodbye and entering the plane wasn‘t as easy as I thought it will be. Although the goodbye was short and sweet, I didn‘t realize until we departed for how long I won‘t see everyone important in my life. Again, there were all these questions. ‚Isabel, why can‘t you just go the easy way?‘. I now know, that the easy path isn‘t always the right path. I know that God is in control. I know that he has a plan for me. Now, I am in Toronto at the airport waiting for my connection flight. Everything worked out. From not getting charged for too heavy baggage to getting a 1 year stamp after having another interview at the airport in Honolulu. And I know that I will miss out on stuff at home. I know it won’t always be easy in Hawaii. But this is life and right now, I am at the right place.
1. Be thankful
Is it really necessary to do a volunteer trip to learn what true thankfulness is? Of course, I was thankful here and there. But now, I am learning to understand how truly blessed I am. How blessed I am to have grown up in a safe environment with a loving family, to be able to do an education, to have friends that support me. My family means everything to me and sometimes we take our parents and siblings for guaranteed. I am really lucky to have a supportive, helping and caring family. Being thankful opens a lot of doors and your mindset will shift. Trying to be more thankful each day will make you more content overall. If we look closer, we have a lot to be thankful for.
2. If your heart really wants something doors will open
Most recent event was me deciding to go back to Hawaii. Like I said in “worrying about the future” I never thought it would even be a possibility. Especially for 15 months. I felt God totally calling me to do the Leadership School with Surfing The Nations and to serve the community. I already knew back in April this year, that I want to apply for the School. I came home from Hawaii, applied and then I started to question my decision. Will everything work out? Will I get accepted? Will I find a job to save up money to be able to go back and volunteer? Will I get my visa? Although I felt a lot of peace over my decision, I wasn’t sure if the right doors will open. A lot of patience and months later, I am now waiting for my flight to leave towards America. After I finished working my first temporary job, I instantly found another job. I got accepted to the school and got a one-year visa, which was such a huge surprise! The guy at the embassy told me that if I get a visa it will most likely be a 6-month visa. My conclusion is, that no matter how crazy your dreams may sound, doors will open. If not, they won’t work out for a reason...
3. Things don’t work out for a reason
The year after I finished my apprenticeship was a year of change. I thought a lot about how my future will look like. Since I did my apprenticeship in a travel agency I was really interested in travelling and getting to know new cultures. I also knew some people that were working as flight attendants. I visited an information event of an airline, was all for it and applied. After doing the necessary assessment and some waiting I received a rejection. I was really disappointed. Summer came around and I applied for a marketing/ sale internship, since I am into marketing. After two interviews, which went awesome, it turned out, that the internship is all about selling selling selling. Pretty much what I did for the past three years in my apprenticeship. Again, I didn’t really know what to do. Suddenly, an idea popped into my head. What about volunteering with Surfing The Nations? I already knew about the organization for 2.5 years. It was the best decision to I apply for the 3-month internship. (More about that later). Honestly, I had the idea of doing this internship for a long time already. But I was too scared! I wanted to find something that was easier. Something inside of my comfort zone. Luckily, all the other possibilities didn’t work out, so I could experience 3 of the best months of my life so far!
4. Your future is shaped by the people around you
Have you ever looked at the people around you that you spend most of your time with? You have your insiders, you laugh about the same things. You even adopt their behavior, the way they talk. Don’t you? Do you support their manners? Is this how you are seeing your future-you? Of course, maybe you have amazing, inspiring people around you. But sometimes, especially if we know someone for a long time, we don’t see that they are actually bad company. They potentially influence you badly. Think about your future and how you see yourself. Who can help you to become that person? Who doesn’t? The people around you have a tremendous impact on your future, chose them wisely.
5. Growing up means losing people
Growing up means changing. We are constantly changing and the world around us as well. When you are becoming more and more yourself, it is totally normal to lose people you consider friends. Maybe some people are just meant to join you for a chapter of your life. Maybe some relationships just happen to teach you something. In the end, a relationship should be both giving and taking. If one person takes more it is not a balanced relationship and you should figure out, if this person is still worth your time.
6. Be honest
Honesty becomes rare nowadays. We hide, we leave out, we just don’t tell. We all do it to not hurt the other person. Especially if the person is really close to you it takes a lot of willpower to be honest. Because in this case, you can hurt their feelings even more. It might be easy to hide something at the moment, but it gets harder as you continue. As the truth comes out it will hurt them even more than if you told them the truth from beginning on. Be honest from beginning on, people deserve to know your true feelings.
7. Don’t force things that are not meant to be
Another thing that I learned those past years is that you can’t force things. You can’t force someone to like you, you can’t force feelings towards somebody, you can’t force situations to turn out well if it is just not meant to be. Everyone has an intuition. In a lot of situations, we know from the beginning on that this is not where we are supposed to be or who we are supposed to be with. We don’t want to admit it but the feeling in our stomach is there. Sometimes it is hard to admit it to yourself. At the same time, it is even harder to admit something to someone. For example, admitting you don’t have feelings for someone takes a lot. It is not that you don’t like them but the chemistry is just not there. This brings me back to my previous point: be honest! It does nothing to anybody if you pretend something that is not there.
8. Enjoy the moment you are in
This year has been filled with a lot of highlights. If you are on a high for quite some time, it hits you pretty hard if the low awaits. That is life. Therefore, we need to enjoy the good times, the special moments. This year, I wanted to seize the moment I am in more. I remember one special moment from this summer. I had a couple of days off from work as I went camping with my best friend. It was on both of our bucketlists to visit this place. Since we live in a really fast pace world, I had to pinch myself to realize we finally made it to this beautiful lake. We even rented stand-up paddles. I remember laying on the SUP, looking up in the sky and truly enjoying the moment. No thoughts about yesterday. No thoughts about what is to come. Just breathing and feeling deeply. I really soaked it in. It was when I felt alive. I want to have more of those truly beautiful moments.
9. Serve people
No matter where we look, there are people feeling down, less looked after, in need. There are people waiting for someone just like you. Some people need a kind smile, an ear that listens or a warm hug. Make time to do good. It doesn’t matter if you know the person or if not. It is so rewarding to the see the shining eyes and we always have enough to give away.
10. You can make a difference
I caught myself often having the thought of: “Who cares if I do this or if I don’t do it. Because I am just one human being and I am not able to make a difference. Maybe someone is already doing it anyways.” It doesn’t matter what you refer it to. Whether if it is spreading positivity, sharing your smile with a stranger, picking up this bottle in the train and throw it in the trash can, donating to a charity. Trust me: YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Also, if everyone is thinking that the other person will do it, no one is really doing anything. So, go for it.
11. Take time for yourself
I already learnt this lesson some years ago. In this connected world, we always want to participate everywhere. We want to join all the fun activities with our friends, we want to spend time with our family, we want to please everyone. While doing this, we quickly forget ourselves and what we truly want. Taking time for ourselves is so important to refill our batteries and to give the brain some rest. While spending time alone, you can reflect and discover what your true desires are. You are not influenced by anybody. Also, you learn to love yourself and accept yourself for who you are and not for what people tell you.
12. I am enough
In a world where we constantly compare ourselves, it is hard to be content with yourself. We see “perfection” everywhere we look. The thing is, every human on this world is exactly made how they are supposed to be. Everyone is a special, unique, beautiful individual. “Comparison is the thieve of joy”. Why are we letting the system rob our joy? Humans made these ideals by themselves. Let’s break out of the system and embrace our uniqueness. Because comparing ourselves to others just takes energy that we could invest elsewhere. Also, if you tend to be jealous, choose to be inspired by the people around you. I am still working on this point ;-)
13. Try new things
Playing the piano, horse-riding, playing tennis, dancing hip-hop, dancing Zumba- these are all things that I tried out while growing up. Nothing really lasted so I was still looking for a new hobby. I had this idea of participating in a surf- and yoga camp in Portugal 1.5 years ago. October last year, I spent 8 days in the north of Portugal with a friend mostly doing yoga, surfing, cooking and exploring. I never tried surfing and yoga before and it was a leap in the unknown. Even if I was a bit nervous in the beginning, we enjoyed trying these things out. Yoga is something that I am really interested in and it helps with my back pain. One goal of mine is getting better at it. Another thing that I discovered this year is squash. After doing it once I became a total fan. It is just so much fun, especially when you do it as a group and then you can change opponent. Always try new things, there is nothing to lose.
14. Open up more
I know, it is hard to trust people sometimes. Especially when you had bad experiences in the past. But I think with growing older and having those experiences, it becomes easier to find the people that you can open up to. You get to know how human beings act in specific situations so you can distinguish better if you can trust them or not. Maybe it is people that are similar to you, people that share a part of your story. We humans are created to have relationships, to have community. We all long for love. So why are we trying to handle our problems on our own?
15. Don’t push hurt away, deal with it
This is a hard one. Everyone makes bad experiences. Everyone was hurt in the past. How you handle these situations will decide how long you will carry the burdens around. There are many bad ways how you can deal with hurt. Pushing away is one of them. The problem with this one is, that one day all the emotions will come up and it will be worse. Deal with your emotions now and allow the sadness. There are a lot of options how you can do this. Maybe it is writing in a diary, expressing the emotions in art or in music. Maybe you prefer talking to a close person, to a counselor, someone who might have gone through something similar. There is always help and there is always a way out, I promise. In the end, you will grow with every situation and you can always take something out of it. Because…
16. There is something good in everything
When I am in a bad mood, I always ask myself: “What happened that I am feeling like this? What has the power to destroy my happiness?”. Oftentimes, it is something stupid, something that shouldn’t bother me any longer than 5 minutes. I realized, that there is something good in everything, no matter how tough the situation looks like. Even if you don’t see it at first, all the things you are going through will help you somehow in the future. Try to have a positive mindset and your overall happiness will increase.
17. Don’t worry too much: read my previous blog post :D
18. Have big dreams
“If they don’t scare you, they are not big enough”. We all want to accomplish, see, experience things in our lives. Having dreams is so important. Trust me, a lot of your dreams will come true. Because often times, your thoughts determine your actions. Having big dreams gives you a push, it inspires you to work harder to chase and reach your dreams. Take a journal and a pen and write 20 crazy dreams down. Be creative with it and you’ll be surprised in the future :-)
19. Tell people how much they mean to you
As a child, I spent a lot of time with my family going on little adventures where I live. With growing older and having more responsibilities we get busier. We work, meet new people, eventually move away. Especially the three months that I have been gone from home, I realized how important it is to tell the people you love how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate having them in your life. You are never too busy to show it to your family or friends. Because someday it will be too late and there will be no more possibilities anymore to do so.
20. Travelling is far more valuable than possession
For me, there is nothing better than making new experiences. It doesn’t matter if it is near to where I live or somewhere far away. I love visiting new places, meeting people and getting to know their culture. I think it is so interesting to see how different people were raised, where they are coming from. Travelling teaches you so many things from patience to stepping outside of your comfort zone to appreciating life more. You realize who your true friends are, you learn how to be braver and you get to know yourself better through the challenges that you may face. Also, you learn what else is out there, because sometimes we get caught up in our daily life and we don’t really see what is outside our little shell.
21. Stay teachable
There is still a lot to learn and there will always be. I just want to stay teachable, I want to keep trying new things. I want to go through life with an open mind and open eyes. Who knows what you can learn from a stranger, a kid or a grandma. Your counterpart might tell you exactly what you have been waiting for the whole time.
I could have written way more things that I have learnt, but there are the keypoints. :-)
I hope, I might have helped some of you. What did you learn in 2017?
This time last year I was in a similar situation. While I was working my last days at a travel agency, I couldn’t wait to leave for Hawaii to do my 3-month internship with the non-profit organization "Surfing The Nations". Now, months later there are only a few weeks left until I return to this special island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Never would I have ever thought that I will end up going back..
During working and saving up some money I was longing for more clarity over my future, guidance, ideas. There were some areas that I could potentially see myself study in. However, a subject of study that I was 100% sure of didn't exist. I also couldn’t see myself staying in the office I was working at this time. I had to change something. Some people know from a young age on, what they want to study, what they want to become. I never had a specific goal.
Spending three months in Hawaii meeting new people, travelling and learning more about myself seemed like the perfect idea to set long-term goals or at least have a more specific vision. 2.5 months in, I still didn’t know what to do after I returned from the island. I quit my job so I didn't have something to go back to. At this point, I was worrying and stressing a lot about my future. Suddenly, one step at a time, things were getting clearer. "Surfing The Nations" has this thing called “Surfers Leadership School” (SLS) which contains 3 months of training and a 1 year commitment. After going back and forth with this thought, I felt a lot of peace about coming back to Hawaii for SLS. I was immensely drawn to Hawaii. The place and people have a big place in my heart. I wanted to help more in the organization, grow more as an individual and gain more leadership skills.
I totally became aware of how it isn’t important to know all the steps or your ultimate goal. You don’t have to know what you will be doing in 5, 10, 20 years. The only thing you need to know is, what makes you happy at the moment, where your heart and passions are. Take little steps, because every step is important and will teach you something. Every step will be part of the bridge you are building. Without one, it is not possible to arrive on the other side. Even if you need to take a step back, it will be worth it in the end.
Don’t worry too much. I know that we human beings prefer to have everything figured out and we struggle with being patient. But worrying doesn't make it any easier. People tend to worry about things that mostly won’t ever happen. Try to live in the moment, fix your eyes on what’s right in front of you and be present. Also, talk to people! This helped me a lot because you are never alone with your struggles. A lot of people are in the same boat as you.
If you also have struggled or are struggling with same things, comment down below.
Let's share some tipps :-)
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.