- Apprehensive as ever this excursion through the mountains started less than smooth. We were traveling in a minibus up steep gravel roads, and our driver had a lead foot. In South Africa everyone drives an automatic vehicle. With automatics if your car is idle for too long it will shut off completely, and once you turn it back on and shift into first gear it rolls backwards a little bit. Rolling backwards, idleness, and a lead foot driver were all recipes for disaster and causes of my anxiety. It crossed my mind several times that this would be the end of my life. I even asked the driver to slow down because I was that terrified. My fears were subsided with the setting of the sun. Being able to watch the sun set on the mountains while I sat on a mountain myself, writing in my journal, reflecting on my purpose in the world. Remember that I, just like the sun have a daily task each day, and that I illuminate something positive that brings satisfaction to more than just myself. This idea in itself motivated me to move forward in my dreams and to continue pushing through the sickness I was slowly acquiring on the mountain. It motivated me to keep writing despite the cold feeling in my fingertips as the sun went down and the temperature declined on the mountain. It reminded me that the sun does it's job every day and doesn't complain, therefore I could keep going in life despite an obstacles I may encounter along the way. It was truly a blessing to share that moment and view the same sun I've seen my entire lifetime in an entirely new light (no pun intended). Suddenly the sun seemed more beautiful, more alive, more vibrant in color, more profound in purpose, more closer to the aura and light of my own being. It was almost as if something inside of me was reflecting off of something inside of the sun and vise versa. I felt connected and spiritually fed in that moment. I'm not an outdoors girl, so this new profound feeling was overwhelming in the most beautiful way possible. It was being able to live in the same world I've always lived in, except with new eyes and a renewed heart for everything around me. The mountains kept me company as I stood on my rock alone writing in my journal. And we all stood in our being and our power and our purpose not comparing ourselves to one another, simply marveling in the sun set and the grand illustration that we were all a part of. Moments like that really remind you how awesome God is for creating everything he did in just the manner that he did. I couldn't imagine anything more perfect, and then God outdid himself. A few days later I sat on a different rock facing a different direction in the mountains and watched the sun rise. The temperature changes, the fear of heights, the fear of falling, the fear of failing, the fear of nature and bugs, the fear of inadequacy all left my body at once as if none of them ever existed.
- When you have the opportunity to stop the racing thoughts. Stop the business of your reality and slow down, you are handed the opportunity to connect with the land. I eagerly sat in the 8 minutes before the sun rose thinking about all the choices that I would make in that day, realizing that the sun rises and sets everyday. I made the conscious decision to take the 8 minutes of each sunrise each day (or 8 minutes at the start of my day regardless of time) to reflect on the opportunities that I'm given and the choices that I'll make. In those 8 minutes I decided that I was going to change my life and change the world. I owed it to myself and to humanity to make daily conscious choices, to be self aware and externally driven to be an agent of change and a catalyst of hope for every dream and miracle that I could possibly believe in. I accepted the opportunity with open arms despite how cold it was on the mountains. I sat with my journal on top of a mountain peak and watched the sun rise. I've never seen the sun so beautiful before. Smears of orange and pink mix with a beautiful blue sky. Clouds roll past validated in their purpose as mountains stand tall never questioning their existence or comparing their stature to other mountains. I felt so small in that moment and so big at the same time. Small in my physical stature compared to the mountains, but large, blessed, and profound in my being because the same God that created that mountain created me. Being in a land that validated your very existence is a feeling I can't even explain. This was a land that validated my dreams. It validated who I was as a person, as a woman, as a queen. A land that validated my culture and my very existence. It that proved that race was a social construct because the valleys that I walked through after the sun rose spoke to me in a language that I was denied to learn from my ancestors. There was no audible noise except the wind and my headphones, but I could hear something inside of me exchanging dialogue with the environment surrounding me and it spoke back. Although no words were said I understood everything that was unspoken, and I was validated without any genealogical test that this was my home. The land in the valleys were uneven under my tennis shoes but these uneven paths felt like they were made for me. Through the valleys my walk was stronger, my hips were moved to the beat of my heart as if it were choreographed. My head was held high as I looked out upon the land (the same land that birthed me and my ancestors, my land) my shoulders were rolled back and perfectly aligned over my spine which stood tall and I felt like a queen. In those few moments of walking through the land, watching the sun rise, and letting it speak to my being I felt more confident in my beauty and my essence as a woman than ever before. As a model and beauty queen I've walked on many a stage, runway, and photo-set in the most elaborate of gowns and shoes, done up from head to toe. Yet here I was in the most humble of garments, hair wrapped, makeup off, natural as the day I was born, and I felt more beautiful than ever before. I realized that the value in myself was not in the things that I wore, the titles I acquired, or the things that I accomplished in the past or in the future, but in the beauty of the soul that I possessed, something that can't be made up or mac'd on, something that money can't buy. From that moment on my purpose and identity became even more clear, I no longer felt the need to be ashamed of my strength, or the need to hide behind the power that I've known that I possessed since I was a child. For the first time in my life I felt 100% free to be me, and the idea of being truly me was beyond fulfilling.