This is my dad.
For the past four years he has led a medical team to Pignon, Haiti to provide eye care for thousands (yes, thousands) of individuals who are unable to receive the kind of quality care that is readily available and accessible in the states. Mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandpas, children… they all come.
By word of mouth, the arrival date of the "American eye doctors" swiftly spreads throughout the region and anyone in need of eye care flocks to the small hospital in Pignon, many of them traveling long miles, in order to receive treatment that will restore their vision.
This has been happening for years, even before my dad began spearheading the trip (which he “inherited” from a team in Iowa.)
It takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and money to make this mission happen year after year. Months of preparation and a passionate community of individuals willing to give their time and talents - and who believe in the mission of providing quality eye care - are what make this annual trip not only possible, but impactful and successful.
This year, (this week!) a team of 29 is currently in Pignon working tirelessly from 8 am until 8 pm every day, making sure these people’s needs are met. Screening, scheduling, distributing hundreds of eye glasses, surgeries, serving in any capacity… it all happens.
The entire team inspires me, but especially my dad. Since going with him the first time 5 years ago, I witnessed as he wore his heart on his sleeve for those people.
Dad — you are a blazing bolt of light, an energizer bunny who never stops until the job is done. I realize that many people are likely telling you thank you this week, but today I especially wanted to thank you for:
Thanks for inspiring, Dad. You’re my hero.
I love you. ♥️
This time of the year is tough.
I say that not to complain, but because I know there are many of us living in the frigid dark north who are currently sharing that thought. Last week the temperature was a record breaking NEGATIVE FIFTY DEGREES in Fargo (HOW is that even possible??? ) and yet somehow, we continue to live here. And many of us - such as myself - start to question it daily when we have weeks on end of seemingly endless darkness and cruel temperatures.
I don’t know about many of you, but my soul feels as if it's half dead in this weather. The past few weeks I feel as if I have been surviving rather than thriving. I feel as if I’m stuck in a dark hole and am not emerging anytime soon.
I don’t like it; this mindset is not my "normal."
Yet, as I was thinking about it some more, I realized that although this time of year seems especially tough both mentally and physically (and… also emotionally and spiritually), most of us experience ups and downs throughout the entirety of the year. I think back to nearly nine months ago when I was returning to Fargo from spending my final semester of college in Washington D.C.; I wrote the following words while on my flight back home:
Ya know, over the course of the past few weeks, I believe my fire has been rekindled. 😊
For a seeming long while (ok, intermittently throughout the course of the last few months) I felt this overwhelming sense of fear - an entrapment of feeling “lost”. I never talked about it, but it was nearly always there bubbling beneath the surface. I have missed what I’ve known and loved for most of my life. But as I’ve been sitting here reflecting on the plane just now, I’ve realized that previous fear is gone - instead replaced with a reestablished and increasingly reaffirmed confidence in myself, who I am, and what I feel called to do in life. My curiosity in the world around me, drive, passion... they are all back 😁⭐️👣😅🤗🤙🏻👋🏼🦋🐬 And although I still don’t know where I’m going, I feel a peace ... a calm (which is hopefully not leading to a storm 😂.) This is a good life - it really is.
At this moment in time I felt such a peace ... yet, I won’t lie: I found myself caught in an unexpected storm upon arriving home.
Those weeks leading up to and following graduation were tough. I again felt plagued by a sense of fear; I felt lost and unsure of what my purpose and identity was as I realized that I was no longer a student and without a clear path ahead of me.
Yet, here’s the thing: life is full of both stormy and sunny days. For myself there have been multiples of each within the past year, both in regard to the weather and within my own mind. Throughout the course of the past 9 months there have been a plethora of ups and downs, switching seasons, good days and bad days... and I find myself needing to be reminded that this seeming never ending cycle is all a part of the journey. Our self confidence, identity, sense of purpose... it shifts, regardless of how strong or weak we may feel in a given moment. I’m coming to terms with this fact.
I share this because I realize that the “dead” of winter (aka NOW) can be an especially tough time for many people; however, I want to remind you that it is IS only a season and it will pass (both in regard to the time of year and mentally.)
Life guarantees ups and downs... yet, we will get through them. We’re strong. 💪🏼 And tough. 😉And even on a day such as today when we are literally caught in a blizzard... remember that sunny days are coming. ☀️
currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she works remotely as a Policy and Communication Manager for the First Lady of North Dakota. Photography and writing are a passion that help her better appreciate the details of the world.