Breaking barriers. That’s the theme this month at Kadi Fit, and as studio goers we’ve all been challenged to recognize, confront, and begin to overcome our barriers. Lately, there have been so many barriers staring me in the face I didn’t even know where to start. There has been one barrier in my life, however, that seems to be continuously present and that is facing the fear of writing. I started this blog a year and a half ago with the intention to overcome it, and though I made strides, at the end of the day I wimped out of the race. I made excuses. I found other ways to distract or busy myself, but all of those things didn’t make the internal pull of knowing I needed to write go away.
Most of my excuses revolved around the fact that I kept waiting for the next “big thing “ to happen to write about. I knew I would be traveling to Kenya with my family to work with The Kilgoris Project. I dreamed of sharing photos and adventures and bringing cultures together through blogging and photography. I could share the real moments and barriers I faced knowing I was bringing my daughter who has a life-threatening allergy to insect bites across the world in a remote area with little medical care and lots of bugs. I could share about the incredible land, the beautiful people and the amazing relationships that were formed, or being face to face with a cheetah as it stalked a gazelle, or the smiles and warmth of the children that enveloped me as I held them. There were no barriers at the thought of sharing those stories and when the trip came, I was ready. My laptop and camera cards were chock full of story seeds waiting to take root. Before I could even think of tending to them, however, my entire world shattered.
Twenty-four hours after returning home from Kenya, my baby brother tragically passed away. I hadn’t even adjusted to the time difference and I was picking out his coffin. My heart, which had just been overflowing with love and joy, now ached unbearably. Life sucker-punched me hard and I didn’t know how to get up.
It’s hard to get up when you feel as if part of your soul died with your loved one. It’s hard to care about barriers when you feel so broken and exhausted you know it would be so much easier to have them crumble on top of you because you see no way of ever breaking through them. It’s hard to be near light when darkness surrounds you. And it hurts.
In my head, I could see all of the good placed before me. I knew God sent me to Kenya, not so I could experience stories to blog about or to bring goodness and love over there, but to give me what I needed to make it through what awaited me upon my return. I saw that I was given an extended family there, through the team I traveled with and the Kenyans that hosted us. I learned the importance of prioritizing relationships over tasks, of being present versus productive. Because of that trip I could receive the love my family wrapped us in in NY, by rushing to our side, by making sure my children were taken care of, by traveling, by holding us, grieving with us, and my gratitude for them was intensified a million fold. In my head I saw how incredibly blessed I was by the incredible love in my life. It was because of the incredible love of family and friends I found the strength to get up and face another day even if I just stumbled along. I could see each and every one of them trying to knock down the barriers from the other side. I heard their voices calling out to me. I could feel them fighting and pounding for me even if my heart left me too weak to answer back.
The thing I am learning about barriers, sometimes before you can break through them, you have to break down. Perhaps it’s that struggle of being present versus productive or the desire to hurry pass the pain and sorrow, but until I became completely broken (in a very public arena I might add), until I acknowledged all of the hurt inside of me and admitted out loud all of the ugliness smothering my soul and was willing to open every painful wound and turn it all over to God, I didn’t stand a chance against my barriers. There has to be a willingness to embrace and come face to face with the pain and hurt, there has to be a point of getting so completely vulnerable that you are willing to come completely undone only to find the strength to build yourself back up again.
Is it scary? Yes. Does it hurt? Sometimes so much you don’t even know how to take one more breath. Is it worth it? Without a doubt. And in that broken vulnerable state I am finding a renewed strength to tear down those barriers, to build bridges where holes have been left, and to fall into the embrace and support of all of the amazing souls that have been fighting hard from the other side. Suddenly facing those barriers and joining back in that race doesn’t seem so hard.
This post is dedicated to AJ. I know the gift and frailty of life because of you. You overcame more barriers than anyone I know.Your incredible laugh and beautiful sparkle in your eye light my path. I love you forever.