I look at the calendar every day and wonder how it can really be mid-May, because it doesn’t feel like it! Here in Madagascar, the seasons are changing and we are approaching winter. It’s gotten cooler and the past few days have let down buckets of rain and lots of cloud cover.

Cyclone season just ended and we finished April with an ominous cyclone with more bark than bite. I finally admitted I was depressed and increased my anti-depressives. I accomplished a third year of marriage with Ruben, half of which has been aboard the Africa Mercy in Madagascar. Those are just the highlights!

What hasn’t changed? I still surf the web a lot, and last month I decided I couldn’t keep all my helpful finds to myself. I can’t help but take note of stories that inspire me and challenge me.

What are people saying? What is the world getting angry about? What horrific things are going on that no one is getting angry enough about? I’m still running across things that make me want to shout, “Yes, everyone needs to hear this!”

This blog isn’t simply a space for my random musings (that would be extremely boring for everyone but me). Rather, this is a place for dialogue, inspiration and joy in the face of differences and challenges. If I want to add to the conversation, I need to know what the conversation is. Tragedy throughout the world will continue on no matter what, but I might as well give up this very instant if I can’t make a difference.

I’m still holding on to the possibility of change. Change in myself, and maybe one day, change in others. Devastation and horror will be around as long as this world is, but can we give more room to compassion in our own hearts?

Here’s a mix of stories and articles this month. I hope you learn something new that gets you riled up!

Here are the top five articles that grabbed my attention:

  1. The Reality of Travelling Depression and How to Cope
    • A couple weeks ago I shared my struggle with depression while travelling. I recognize that depression is misunderstood by many, especially when the affected person seems to have an ideal life. The struggle of others to understand is a no-brainer to me precisely because I can’t make sense of it myself most times. My deepest depressions occur even when nothing is going wrong. I can only imagine that an outsider would crinkle their nose in confusion. It doesn’t make much sense. Trust me, it’s just as frustrating for me when I want to just pick myself up but feel powerless to grasp a single strand of hope. This article might shed some light on how someone who is travelling the world can feel sad. I’m happy to report that a few weeks of an increased medication dosage have me at a good point. I’m much closer to the normal me again.
  2. 8 Ways for Expats Who Stay to Stay Well
    • I’m a stayer (is this a real term?) and it takes conscious effort to do that with grace and not bitterness. A “stayer” (I’m keeping this word) is someone who made a big transition to a drastically different life, but instead of a season or phase, it becomes the everyday, routine, new normal. I live in a community where “stayers” and “leavers” switch places without much warning. It can be hard for each side to understand the other. This article from A Life Overseas gives the most relevant, actionable tips for living long-term abroad. If you’re abroad read it. If you’re at home, this might help you understand our struggles. Some suggestions I do well already, like being honest about the hard things. Other pointers I could use some improvement on, like saying hello well and being open to the newbies.
  3. Syria Hospital Bombing: Are The Rules Of War Blowing Up?
    • This was yet another personal wake-up call: there have never been boundaries to war and terror. It can affect anyone at any time. We never know when our last breath will be. I read the tragedy outlined in this article and I see it through the lens of someone contributing to free healthcare to the disadvantaged. I consider myself very safe where I currently work but I have a perhaps naive outlook for the future that leaves me with little to no fear about our time in West Africa fast approaching. However, realistically, we will only be closer to the countries where extremist terror groups operate. Just another reason to count my days and make every day count.
  4. This 23-year old is saving mothers with an app
    • Genius does not have to be complicated. Simple works, too. We need more simple. Simple starts off by suggesting that women should not die (or develop obstetric fistulae) during childbirth due to lack of maternal health care, superstition, lack of support or fear of health facilities. Simple keeps going by figuring out how to get basic medical knowledge into the hands of women in rural communities using low-cost technology. Fun fact: Cameroon is the birthplace of this idea and that is where Mercy Ships is heading in Fall of 2017!
  5. Midwives can cut deaths in childbirth, but there aren’t enough of them
    • I became a nurse because I wanted to be a midwife. My memories are clear; I wanted to advocate for women by offering them tools and knowledge to have healthy, safe, and empowered births. I lost steam for that passion once I received my degree because I really wanted to be well-rounded as a nurse and I thought I’d get more of that on a medical-surgical floor. I also knew that I didn’t want to be a labor and delivery nurse. Rather, I wanted to be the healthcare provider! As I headed toward Mercy Ships and continued through two field services, I can see how much influence a female educator could have for women with limited access and low levels of education. I guess I didn’t lose steam after all; this topic still gets me pretty excited! This article only fans the flames!

What have you been watching or reading lately? Have you read anything that actually impacted your daily life?


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