i choose to stay.

Last year, I wrote a post about FOMO (read: the truth about fomo as a peace corps volunteer). I mentioned how being a Volunteer means missing out on birthdays and other significant milestones back home. But, there is one thing I left out.

Death.

Because the thought of death still makes me uncomfortable, although death is as natural as life.

On Sunday, February 11, my Gramps was placed in hospice care. He passed away early in the morning on Saturday, February 17, the day after my 31st birthday. He was 87 years old.

With only 3 months remaining of my service, I choose to stay in Namibia. This was not an easy decision to make.

Throughout the course of the week, my days were filled with what can only be described as signs from God. Signs of comfort and peace and understanding. This helped guide me through the grief of being away from home during such a significant time for my family.

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I choose to stay.

Because I want to continue your legacy of service to others.
Because I want to remember your glances as if you already knew you were looking at me for the last time.
Because I want to remember your big white smile and gentle laugh.
Because I know you wanted me to remember your life and not your death.
Because no matter how far away I am in distance, you’ll always be in my heart.

Dedicating my Peace Corps Service to my Gramps
Cary Holland, Jr.
November 13, 1930 – February 17, 2018

❤ Krystal

orlando.

While I was in the process of updating my blog about my life in Namibia, I received horrible news about yet another mass shooting in the US.

My heart is heavy. My stomach is in knots.

I’m trying to wrap my mind around the terrible event that took place in Orlando but when irrational things like this occur there never seems to be an answer.

At least not immediately.

Today, prior to the news I felt an overwhelming sense of being a proud American. Proud to serve my country in a way some only dream of as a US Peace Corps volunteer. As the news broke, my American proud turned into a dark cloud of embarrassment, grief, and anger. This is not America. Not again.

My heart hurts because I feel helpless in Namibia.

My heart hurts because I don’t understand how someone can take away a life as if it doesn’t matter.

My heart hurts because I have LGBTQ friends.

My heart hurts because no one deserves to die in a nightclub.

My heart hurts because it could have been my friends.

My heart hurts because someone lost their friend.

I’m so tired of this hate.

Tonight, as I head to bed with tear-filled eyes, I just want to hug my friends back home. People no different than you or I. Friends with feelings and emotions much like mine. Friends who are afraid to grab dinner and go dancing to celebrate the end of weekend.

No matter your religion, color, sex, or sexual orientation. NO ONE SHOULD BE AFRAID TO LIVE.

Hug your friends and family tight.

To my friends back home and my new PC family, I love you and I’ve got your back. 

♡ Krystal

ove okuninga ove.

One of my biggest fears of moving to Namibia for the Peace Corps was the fear I’d over sleep for anything and everything important. I’ve never been a morning person. Like ever. I’d even go back to sleep wearing my backpack while waiting for the bus in elementary school, see I’ve always been great at time management. While working in corporate America, my biggest struggle was making it to work on time, snoozing for an hour was a norm in my world.

Six days a week, I am up no later than 0600 and most mornings earlier so I can catch up on studies and get my eyebrows on fleek before training.
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If anyone would have told me that I could possible get up before the sun everyday of the work, I’d call them crazy.

To my standards, this is early. So, so early. In Namibian standards, this may be considered a late start on the day.

Technology has made it incredibly easy to still see what’s going on back in the States, as while as sharing with you all what’s going on in Namibia.

Here are a few things I never knew before moving overseas:

I never knew how much time and preparation went into making food over an open flame. I’ve only truly been camping once in my life. I don’t think our menu got very complicated either. Probably beans and hotdogs. Preparing food over a fire may be my reality when I move to site in June. Who knows? I think seeing traditional Namibian cooking, literally from farm to table, makes me appreciate the love and hardwork anyone puts into a meal.
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I never knew how well I could get along with 32 different people who are just as bright, intelligent, or maybe as crazy as me. I learn so much from each person everyday, whether through a group or individual conversation.

When I first left for Namibia, so many people told me how much this two years was going to change me. I choose not to focus so much on the distance future.

I reflect on each day and see how being surrounded by people who are more like the person I want to be is really how I can learn to challenge my own thoughts and ideas. This is where change and growth begins.
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I never knew that I would have more room in my heart to love another family as if it were my own. Hanna has welcomed me into her home as a sister, daughter, and friend. I have had so many special moments living here. I’ve laughed so much with my new family. I’ve shared excitement when the kids brought home good marks on their reports cards. I’ve help consol a few tears when someone turned off SpongeBob. I really love my host family.

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I never knew how small actions could be so rewarding. Like sharing batteries with my family when our power went out,
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Or introducing them to chocolate chip pancakes,
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Or even spending time color with them.
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As you can see, Namibia has been great.

Oshi li wete,

❤ Krystal

thank you for dumping me.

Thank you for dumping me.

Because when it comes down to it, I wasn’t brave enough to dump you.

We were great together. We had fun. We traveled. We loved. We started to dream and plan our future together.

In the end, you decided we were better off going our separate directions. And you know what?

Thank you.

I mean that in the most sincere and honest way ever.

It wasn’t fair of me to expect more than you could give.

I’m going to say this out loud. I have dad issues. They are buried so deep and instead of leaning on you as my partner in crime, friend, and lover, I relied on you to fix the hurt from a past that you couldn’t fix. That you shouldn’t fix.

It wasn’t fair to you. 

I gave up things that made me happy and expected you to do the same. Instead of uniting to make the best two people, I expected each of us to sacrifice everything. We slowly began to suffocate. Our aspirations became a thing of yesterdays.

Emotions aside, I held on to us so hard, because everything around me was crashing down. Instead of being the one by your side or leading the way. I was the one behind you pushing. Ignoring wants, needs, and desires. Pushing. Forcing things in a time and place that neither of us was ready for at the time. Not together, at least.

So, in the upcoming months, things are changing for both of us. Things that would have never come to fruition if we were together neither professionally and personally.

Sometimes there is no “closure”, you just move on. And you know what? That’s okay. To come out of this unchanged, would be a disservice to myself.

For the times we had together, I will cherish forever.

❤ Krystal

 

*Edited September 8, 2017*

 

it’s my birthday and my big annoucement!

“Meetings in the sunroom indicated decline in progress. Ms. B was a breast cancer survivor, but telltale signs told us this horrible disease had returned. She sat at the far end of the table. Uncharacteristically quiet and still, she seemed like a shadow of her former self. Her skin was now a yellow-green, like a half ripened banana picked over at the grocery store. The muscles in her arms had lost most definition as they wasted away from atrophy. Her skin was thin like tissue paper and you could see the blood vessels in her neck and face. Her sandy-brown wig now sat too big on her head. As we began discussing her prognosis, Ms. B sat wordless, while forcing herself to sip the supplement I brought her.

We reviewed Ms. B’s chart, which included her drastic weight fluctuations, elevated laboratory panel, and physical appearance, and suspected the worse. My preceptor, who was the facility’s dietitian and social worker, showed Ms. B her chart. They discussed her options while insisting that she go to the hospital, just for good measure. Ms. B tried to assure us she’d be okay. I didn’t know then that I would never see her again.

I am thankful that most of my experiences with patients end in success and healing, but I never forget the ones I couldn’t help. I understand that diseases, like cancer, can be beyond our control. However, with preventative measures such as education, many other diseases and illnesses can be managed and even avoided.

By being able to share my knowledge with people it may benefit is one of the many reasons I want to join the Peace Corps. My knowledge in dietetics can be used to help others improve and even extend life experiences. Too commonly, nutrition counseling is seen as a luxury, but it shouldn’t be that way. I want to be able to change lives by aiding people to make better dietary choices. The valuable contribution of my knowledge in nutrition, health, and wellness is a way I can be of service to people who may not have access to this information.

I understand that there will be many challenges, both physical and emotional, that I have never experienced. Although it may be impossible to wholly prepare for every unforeseeable challenge, through my life experiences I have learned to always be coachable, adaptable, prepared, and keep my composure during difficult circumstances.

My excitement comes from the desire to see a foreign country in a nontraditional way, raw and unfiltered. I’m eager to venture outside my comfortable American life, and relish the idea of learning a foreign language, seeing new landscapes, and, most importantly, spending time with diverse people that I will come to love, appreciate, and cherish. I look forward to creating meaningful relationships that last beyond my years of service. I want to understand people and customs that are unlike my own while contributing to pushing the world towards peace, respect, and understanding.”

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I joined the Peace Corps, ya’ll!

I started this post over 5 months ago, but have waiting for the perfect time to let everyone know. What better day than my birthday?

With the right support systems in your life, you learn to think outside the box, and it opens your eyes to a whole new World, without borders.

When you find your purpose it’s something that you can’t shake. It keeps you up at night. You visualize yourself in that place or time.

And there is peace in that.

A weird sense of peace. It’s difficult to describe, it just feels peaceful. (I know, you’re not supposed to use the same word to define a word.) My blog, my rules.

After the passing of my friends late last year, I realized even more how important it is to live with purpose and intent. Some people will think you’re crazy or what you’re doing is dangerous. For those people, I will tell you to re-read the previous three paragraphs.

The way that everything will pan out (once medical clearance, by the end of this week), I will be flying out to Namibia, Africa on April 11 of this year. I will be working as a Health Extension Volunteer in the Community Health and HIV/AIDS (CHHAP) program.

My blog will be taking a somewhat new direction as I begin this new adventure in life.

Thoughts and prayers are always encouraged during this exciting time in my life.

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❤ and peace,

Krystal

you owe it to yourself.

As I sat around all morning building up the energy and motivation to get out a conquer the world, I realized something I’ve been forgetting lately. Like most people, I’m pulled in several directions filling multiple roles throughout the week as a daughter, a student, an employee, a friend, a girlfriend, and a sister. Sometimes I forget through all the plans and schedules that I owe it to myself to be Krystal.

I would not trade any of these roles for the world, but I need to remind myself not to let the world pass me by without taking time to appreciate the moments.

I had today off of work, so I decided to finally get out of bed for some “me” time. I’ve been finishing up a devotional called “What is Love?” Quite  opposite of what you’d expect, I’ve come to the portion no one likes to talk about: enemies & hate. I get it, I get it. Love your enemies. I’ll love my enemies, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna like them. This is a battle for me, one that actually came up this past weekend.

My high school hosted an alumni soccer game on Saturday. It was such a wonderful time to get together with former teammates to reminisce on high school soccer days. We laughed about days gone by and celebrated where we are all at today. Throughout the several topics of conversation, certain name was mentioned and my blood began to boil, as a lava off hatred erupted from my vocal chords. (Sorry, people, I’m being real.) Where did that even come from? But, seriously how can you love an enemy you don’t even like?

So today, after reading that devotional, I realized this: I owe it to myself…

1) To forgive. They always say, forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you.

2) To live. Appreciate moments and don’t let the world pass you by.

By no means is this a complete list, but the beginning of things to remember on a daily basis. Both of these thoughts are freeing. Oh-so-freeing!

What do you owe yourself to do?

Oh, I ran today too!!!