I remove my laptop and pile my coat, backpack and zip locked cosmetics onto the conveyor belt in 30 seconds flat. I begrudgingly comply with the explosives test—an all too familiar request that I think is linked to racial profiling… but I digress.

Photo Credit: Liz Chrisman, May 2011
Then I walk toward my terminal with a realization that I know certain airports better than people; a trend soon to change. After all, my intention for 2018 is to settle and build. 

Four months later that seems like a cruel joke. Since setting that intention I’ve been on a whirlwind of adventures—10 flights that circled back to where I started:

1. Rhythm Hut; 2. India (Delhi, Agra & Varanasi); 3. Japan (Tokyo); 4. Rhythm Hut; 5. Blue Mountains; 6. Woodford Folk Music Festival; 7. Melbourne; 8. New Zealand (Kawai Purapura Retreat Centre & Tauranga); 9. Melbourne; 10. Rhythm Hut

It all began with one of the most spontaneous journeys of my life (and there have been a few). This time I set off to undergo three reconstructive surgeries in India. I know this may be fresh news for you but the thought has been on my mind for five years.

Photo Credit: Amy Charles, Apr 2018
The back story is: I lost more than 35 kgs (approx. 80 lbs) leading up to / during my Peace Corps service and was left with excess skin on my breasts, stomach and thighs. I wanted to delay the surgeries until I could fully fund them but impatience got the best of me.

I will skip the details to say I am $10,000 in debt but I have no regrets. :D Body image has been a constant struggle of mine to the point that it affected the clothes I wore, activities I did, and relationships I started.

Until recently I was scared to open up about it because I always thought I was the only one in the room with this problem. When I overheard a woman sharing her story of breast reconstructive surgery; I saw a rainbow in the clouds as Maya Angelou would say.

Photo Credit: Amy Charles, April 2018
Not only did I learn I wasn’t alone, my friend Amy showed me a beauty I never knew existed. One of our most cherished moments together was a photo shoot on a nudist beach. Prior to this I had never worn a swimsuit in public. It was a huge leap for me.

The experience was equal parts empowering and uplifting. Just a glimpse of the photos revealed a beauty I didn’t know was there before. Scars and all.

Now I find myself a quarter in to the year and not at all on track with my intention "to settle and build". Ha! I don't even know where I will live next week. Perhaps what I found is something greater. Within the whirlwind I found a rainbow in the clouds… and here I am... back at the beginning.

"Prepare yourself so you can become a rainbow in someone else's cloud." - Maya Angelou