So how’s my life been after Seattle and iLEAP?
Hectic. That’s what it has been like, hectic. Lately I find myself referring to my organizer slash appointment book everytime I need to do something or if someone asks if I have any free time. My life is in that appointment book. (It’s a little black book too, but in no way related to what a little black book is supposed to be all about).
I got into the Philippines when it was hot and muggy (for December, anyway) and immediately I broke into an allergic reaction. I had unexplained rashes on my face for more than a week and everyone was teasing me about not being used to the heat and the pollution anymore. I agreed and then wished that my skin would just get over it already. I really don’t like looking in the mirror and having to deal with rashes, you know?
During the first couple of weeks, I was walking around holding my iLEAP and Seattle experiences in a protective ball. I left the Philippines back in September amidst mixed reactions: some were happy for me, encouraging me (they felt it was a needed break for me); others were not so sold out on the idea of me leaving my work in the Philippines for three months for something that they didn’t think I needed. I would not open up about the experience unless someone would ask me, and if they did, I would answer carefully, testing waters, seeing how they would react to how I perceived my experience had been for me.
In my conversations with those who were skeptical, I would be having a two-way conversation with myself as well. For example:
Skeptic: So, how was the fellowship? Did you learn anything?
Me: Yes, I did. I learned different leadership styles from the fellows and leaders from Seattle. (To myself: I saw myself clearly during this time, what I am essentially made of, my fears, my strengths, my courage, my passions.)
So it was like that most of the time.
But I am still waiting for somebody who have seen me discouraged and sad and tired, and they would say something like this to me: Something has changed in you while you were in Seattle. What happened there?
And I would tell them.
I will tell them about the fellows and my connections with them. I will tell them about Britt and Izumi and the iLEAP staff and how they created the needed space for us, for me. I will tell them about the circles of trust. I will tell them about breaking hearts and how the other way of breaking one’s heart is so that it can hold more compassion. I will tell them about how I learned how to speak and to tell a story, and how speaking from the heart makes it easier for me to speak (cold sweats, nonetheless) and how people responded to that (open-hearted, with shared laughter, with warmth). I will tell them that in my time in Seattle, I found myself again, as a leader, as a woman, and as my own person – and how difficult it had been to be accepting of what I see for myself, what others have seen in me.
But I can wait. Waiting, I learned, is the best way of becoming.
And so now back to the present, to my day-to-day. What have I been doing?
I am finding my work interesting again, and so my days are filled with it. I have been swamped (and still is) with meetings, conferences, paperworks – the daily cogs of any organization. My days are also filled with our engagement with the concerns of the communities I work with: food security at the community and household levels, aggressive development projects (a large hydro-electric dam, mining applications that cover thousands of hectares of land) that ride roughshod over a people’s welfare for the sake of profits, human rights.
So we are in the midst of designing and implementing campaign plans and environmental investigation missions. We are also building networks and alliances with church people, local government units, the academe, and other non-government organizations. So much work to do!
And the thing is, the really amazing thing is, I am so looking forward to all of it.