How India Opened My Heart

In the Spring of 1994, I took part in a program called Semester at Sea. We sailed around the world in 100 days. This experience changed my life forever.

I had a challenging start to college. In looking back, the universe was plainly telling me that I needed to spread my wings, and in one way or another she was going to push me out of the nest and demand that I take flight.

Here's what my flight looked like. The Semester at Sea program set sail in the Bahamas and ended up in Hong Kong. We sailed from the Bahamas -> Brazil -> Venezuela -> South Africa -> Kenya -> India -> Singapore -> Japan -> China -> Hong Kong.

The person I was in the Bahamas was not the same person I was in Hong Kong. The first place that broke my wide heart open was Africa.

The second place was India.

First off, I remember being told by someone who was prepping us on the safety of India that if a mother threw her baby at us, we shouldn't catch the baby because the mom was headed for our pockets. If the baby was thrown and we lifted our hands to catch it, the mother would take the opportunity to steal from us. Excuse me, you want me to let the baby drop? There is famine, death and a kind of poverty on the streets in India that you are unable to fathom...this sentiment was told to me kindly, and I still wondered every day before we got there what I would do if a baby was thrown at me. So, my heart started opening before we even got to India. I was fully planning to catch the baby.

Second, there is no point A to point Z in India, there is only what is in between. We call it the journey. I remember most mornings we'd wake up happy and excited after researching where to spend out time. We would head out for the day towards a specific temple or area to visit. We would hail (I use this word lightly and solely because I am a New Yorker) a rickshaw, and ask the driver to take us where we wanted to go. Thirty minutes later, we would end up at the rickshaw drivers friend's store. After a long visit with the friend, we would provide a reminder to the driver of where we were headed. Thirty minutes later, we would end up at a loved and admired temple - not the one we requested. After a lengthy visit and another reminder, we were at a favorite restaurant. We never ever got where we were trying to go and yet the places we went were determined by the heart and soul of the driver trying to take care of his friends and the desire to share the love of home. One driver took us to his actual home for lunch with his family. I started to let go of agendas, trust someone else's impulse and heart, and I wished every day that this was the way we operated at home.

Lastly, India is the definition of chaotic flow and you can visibly see their reverent, overt and deep connection to the divine. People in India pay homage to their gods and goddesses in every step and every breath they take, they are literally adorned with jewels, colors and prayers. There is a kind of creativity that lives there that I have never seen anywhere else. Everywhere you look, there are rickshaws, bikers, trucks, cars, people and cows (sacred animals). There are a lot of all of them, and yet they all move together in a sort of chaotic flow that I have only witnessed in India. India opened my heart to devotion in the open, chaotic flow and a true flavor of color and expressive creativity. I'm realizing just now as I write this that the way I decorate my home space is fully inspired by my time in India.

When I envision who takes part in the upcoming online course I am offering, Be The Change!, I continue to envision community leaders, movement professionals, people who care about the world, and people longing for a better world for their children. The course I designed is in service to a more accepting world, and I am brining my experiences in India along with me. There is room for creativity, devotion, honor, love, the ability to veer from the path most traveled, and a very healthy dose of responsibility.

Please learn more about Be The Change! here. Early-bird pricing is still available.