I had started writing about my recent trip to India when I was bombarded with work and also took a little jaunt to Los Angeles, and now it's DECEMBER. The last time I blogged was October, which is so wild. Here's the beginning of what I had written out a couple weeks ago (which might take a different direction now):
"I just recently came back from Southern India and quite honestly, the trip was so fast and so jam-packed I feel like I have hardly had time to process in the way that I want to. Was it incredible? Yes. Was it life-changing? Yes. Am I changed? Yes.
A concept that continued to arise for us on this trip was the amazement and power of dreaming big."
Yes. Dreaming big...wow. For me, whenever I have an experience like this and I start to brainstorm the things I want to invest in and be present for - I almost get hypercharged and inspired. I feel like I have to spend the money, commit to the ideas, meet the people, and get it done. Many people admire this quality about me, but there's a danger in wanting to taste and see everything you've wanted to achieve.
Here is a picture of my India team. The trip was 12 days long (including travel days) - but despite the length, it was marked significantly by the lady in the center at the front and her husband: Mercy and Vinci Abraham. This couple challenged our group of (mostly single) millennials in a profound way. Mercy had a dream at 19 years old to open a place of refuge for widowed women in the Tamil Nadu province of Southern India, empowering these otherwise hopeless individuals to have dignity and work again. In order to pursue this dream, however, Mercy knew she would have to leave her family behind - as they were not supportive. She had nothing but a butterknife to her name when she moved from Sri Lanka to India, and at one point was starving herself in order to feed 13 women she had decided to house independently. Single, young, and excommunicated from the only family she knew - Mercy was desperate for support but did not receive it. She was spit on, made fun of, and had years where things seemed hopeless...yet she knew it was a dream she had to fulfill. Fast forward to today, following a stream of literal miracles, and Mercy has a huge plot of land that is comprised of a production centre for the working rescued women, a children's home, an elder's home, and a chapel - as well as her own residence and farmland. This layout and system has helped almost 2000 women and it follows a blueprint almost exactly that she had drawn up at 19. For me, this incredible story spoke to the reality that if a dream is meant to happen, it will come to pass at the right timing - often when the necessary growth has happened inside of ourselves and we are willing to be challenged to get to where we need to be - a place only God knows. But He certainly DOES know our dreams and delights in fulfilling them.
I think of the past 5 years of my life. I accomplished much of what I assumed to be my biggest dreams. Portions of this season were exactly what you'd expect - fulfilling, invigorating, life-giving, and joyous. They're also the type of steps I needed to take to grow up. And I feel like I'm consistently learning more.
Working with a startup right now, I've had very little time to commit to my podcast and building connections I need to get things going. I know the podcast is a valuable step to accomplishing what I believe are meant to be the dreams I need to accomplish, so it's important I am able to focus on that. But at the same time, I know I need to be here. To learn, to grow, to experience, and to commit to a vision of someone else's and watch it play out - in the highs and the lows. It's such a strange balancing act because I'm always on the cusp of seeing how my dreams fit in...and if I had the time and motivation and energy - much more could be accomplished.
But what happens after even that? Can we dream even larger? Does Mercy have bigger dreams for herself and her accomplishments? I think when we engage ourselves in the places we are currently in, we only increase our capacity to learn and creatively create space for ourselves to dream bigger and accomplish our ideas more tactfully. You make use of what you have. You take the butterknife to your name and you turn it into acres and acres of healing land.
I've said this at many stages of maturity and it is still relevant now...but in my opinion, relationships are THE most important thing in the world. I'm learning that putting in the time to be a likeable and valuable team player is actually the key piece of any situation. If you are expecting others to realize your potential and invest in you - you'll be waiting forever. You HAVE to put yourself out there and make your talents and strengths known. And even if you haven't fully developed a certain strength yet, you can hold yourself to the standard you want to be at - and adapt accordingly. It's not faking it - it's welcoming the growing pangs that are needed to mature in the areas you are wanting to mature in. Failure is inevitable in some instances like this, but if you have solid relationships as your foundation, the sting of the fall is cushioned quite nicely. Adapting this mindset also allows for a lot more empathy to recognize others that are looking for someone to see the "special" in them - which is a powerful thing to pick up on. There's not a person in the world that doesn't want that...but some people will never get past limiting themselves unless they meet someone who has decided to reach out to them.
I think I'm approaching a place in life where this is really being tested and tried in me. In Los Angeles at the beginning of this month, I met a slough of incredible people. Within 4 days, I had connected with my long time musical inspirations, Aly & AJ (Pictured) - but I also connected with a Producer at FOX, one of Rebecca Black's close friends, a musician who has written songs for Beyonce, and some YouTube celebrities as well. And get this - all of them were interested in what I had to offer! I couldn't quite decipher if that was because everyone in LA is constantly networking or if they were genuinely intrigued, but I had some kind of crazy luck while I was there. I felt so loved and connected. How I like to sum things up, though, is that people picked up on my genuine nature. The source of which being my love for all of these individuals. I had a lot of opportunity to follow up on some of these connections but I chose to hold off certain aspects strategically. I want to do my own thing, but I also want these people to know I value them as individuals and I respect their dreams and lives. The key to this is loving yourself first. Create your own reputation and steward your own brand.
It attracts people and makes you trustworthy and honourable and I think it opens doors to being in close proximity to important people. If you truly value relationships, it is the most pride-diminishing thing, because instead of seeing people as resources, you're secure in your abilities and you can hold close the well-being of everyone else you meet; becoming courteous in decision and action. There is no competition or fighting to stand out when you aren't pursuing things from a selfish place. You DO shine and you DO take your place naturally. Striving turns people off. Love and support brings people closer.
2018 is going to be a big year. I recently got a new position at work and I will be networking a LOT to promote our upcoming product. I'm headed to Las Vegas in a few weeks to CES and I am so excited to start planning and strategizing. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about this chapter - performance wise, anything can happen. But I know that God hasn't let me down and I know that since moving out, even, I have grown up a lot. In 2017, tough things have happened, I've felt stretched in almost every area, I've experienced grief and confusion and loss of friendships and changing dynamics, but in it all - I have developed myself. I chose to take certain risks at the promise of growing and in that area, I have not been disappointed.
So here's to dreaming bigger, hustling harder, and loving deeper. Don't give up on what you believe you're meant for and support others wholeheartedly in the process.
With all my sincere love,
- j o s i a h