We all come into this world without really having much thought other than to learn and discover what is and what it all means. We do so in many ways, and it all starts from our roots which for most of us is our families. We learn how to behave and what is essentially the “right and wrongs” of life. As we develop more into the intellectual and unique beings that we are, we create experiences that mold our personalities, interpersonal relationships, and our outlooks on the world. This happens very subtly, but it can also seem like it’s happening all at once. It all depends on where your mindset is at in life. When we feel like our growth and development is slow and progressive, we are probably more focused on external events or other worldly aspects in our lives. When we take the time to look deep into ourselves and into our own realms, it is then that we are conscious enough to realize and understand the changes that are happening within us. To me, it’s when I’m aware of the now and my presence within the world that I feel change happening all at once.

Everyday I’m overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude and enrichment for the blessing of a new day in which I am alive and healthy. I find myself taking in deep breaths of curiosity and exhaling any anxieties that may be attached to my thoughts, actions, or serenity. I do this to keep myself centered and to remind myself that I am alive, I am here, and I am ready. I am alive. Being alive means much more to me than the ability to pump blood from my heart to the other organs in my body. It means that I have the capability to live a life full of love, compassion, and humility. It means that I can walk outside and feel the wind brush against me, while listening to the sweet sounds of the world hum around their glorious tunes. I am here. I am here in Davis, California, with my fellow brothers and sisters in solidarity as they shower me with their love and support.  I am ready. I am ready to continue my journey in discovering parts of myself, the world, my community, and relationships. I am ready to drive into tranquility, and find my inner peace.

So far Davis has been everything and more than I imagined it being. The people in the community are so loving, kind, and passionate. There is this feeling of belongingness that I felt within a week of living here. From the churches I’ve sat in service for, to the farmers market, and even the night life at the local bars! Everyone I have met has already offered me more than I ever thought of receiving. I don’t mean that in a materialistic or subjective way, but more so in creating an environment of openness and love. In just a few weeks I have experienced and seen things that have just made my heart soar. Memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

As I started my service at Lutheran Social Services of Northern California (LSS), I was very apprehensive and nervous for what was going to unfold. I didn’t know what to expect and I was told that it would be an emotionally heavy position. I am a very compassionate and empathic individual so I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. I was worried about how my vulnerability would play a role in my position as a LEVN volunteer at LSS. So far, I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of passion and drive this wonderful organization has. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting has greeted me with open arms, and each with a different fire that flickers through them lighting the fire in those around them. I was given the honor to sit in on a Women’s Empowerment graduation ceremony just a few days ago. I cannot describe with words the feelings I had while listening to the stories of these women and just how far they came in 9 weeks. Most, if not all, of these women, came into this program broken, lost, and with a clouded mindset. Each woman, with the help from the services provided, as well as the discovery of themselves and their own self-worth, have allowed them to blossom into beautiful, strong-willed individuals ready to take on their lives and start fresh. It was truly inspiring and heartwarming to see and FEEL all the love that encompassed those women, and everyone watching and supporting them on their big day. There was tears all around; tears of pain, sorrow, loss, and confusion, but they all turned to tears of pride, joy, and EMPOWERMENT. These women not only empowered themselves, but they also empowered me. They showed me that it doesn’t matter how lost you are or how far away you are from where you want to be, there’s always a way out of a negative situation or mind frame. Discovering your self-worth, and knowing that you are enough, you always have been, and you always will be is easier said than done. Having self-love is incredibly important; without it, how can you love others and accept love? The answer is that you can’t, but once you’ve achieved it, you are in the driver’s seat of your life and can begin a sincere journey with an open and loving heart.

I still feel like I either don’t have enough self-love or that it may be missing from my life. I do love myself to a certain extent and have been showing my body specifically the love it deserves. Recently, I became vegan after learning about the negative impact of eating meat has on our carbon and water footprint, as well as the animal cruelty that these animals are forced to undergo. I also did so because I wanted to be more mindful of what I am putting into my body and how it helps me. I want to fuel my body with the most nutrients and vitamins to sustain my equilibrium. I want to achieve optimal health for my body as well as my overall wellbeing. Becoming vegan has also made me more spiritually involved in my food. Knowing where my food is coming from and what its components are gives me an indescribable feeling of satisfaction and peace. I have only started this new lifestyle, but it is one that I will continue to learn about and grow from in both a spiritual and profound way.

I want to wrap this blog up in a way that will leave me and whoever has decided to take the time to read this with the perspective that there is still so much to see, do, and learn in this life. As so many of us do, I have yet to find and discover parts of myself I didn’t know existed. We are never done flourishing and that’s one of the beauties of the world and being human. We can always learn and grow, even when it seems like we are stuck in a rut or slowly regressing. There is still so much out there for me during this year, and hopefully just being conscientious and aware of where I am, will lead me to the great depths of love and peace. I AM ALIVE. I AM HERE. I AM READY.

 

-Andrea

Lutheran Social Services of Northern California