I’d given up my apartment the month before and was looking for something exciting, if not also meaningful to do with my life. I bought one of those everything-you-always-wanted-to-know books about volunteering overseas. I devoured it in two days. Between that book and pouring through the internet I found it. I found the place I would begin my journey: a trek to the base camp of Mt. Everest while raising money for orphanages in Kathmandu. I didn’t know what I would do after that or where I would go or even how long I would be gone. But I had a starting point. I was headed to Nepal. (I actually had to find it on the map first.) I was floating with excitement.
My to-do list seemed unending. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to design a website where I could record my travels. Ultimately, I was hoping my journey would help me discover what kind of non-profit I could start. I was interested in stopping human trafficking, particularly helping children being sold into sex slavery. I asked myself many questions and the one that seemed to resonate most deeply was: What is most important to you? It was simple. Honesty. I learned it from my parents. They taught honesty in everything they said and in everything they did. They walked the talk. So, it became my epicenter and my compass.
To live honestly means much more than just truth in words. It’s a whole way of life. It’s about honoring the path you’re meant to take and taking responsibility for the choices you make. It's about being self aware, and always wanting to learn more.
It’s about getting back up when you fall no matter how often or how hard. It's being strong enough to ask for help and caring enough to give without being asked. It’s respecting yourself and all other living creatures. And your word is who you are. It has to be unconditionally trustworthy. Living honestly is about recognizing when ego might steer you off course and when fear is blinding you or stopping you.
It's about a life that lives WITH the land not OFF the land. It's about balance, fairness, and treading lightly on this planet. It's caring that products are made by slaves and caring that people are starving and not turning a blind eye to children abducted for sex or forced into being soldiers in a war they don't want to fight. It's caring more about people than money and offering a helping hand when it's not only Christmas or Thanksgiving. Living honestly makes for the best relationships, the best work product, and it breeds all things good.
It’s the most nourishing way to live for yourself, for others and for the planet. The caption for my website was inspired by two other aspects I believe are critically important for living a good life. That's when I coined: Live fearlessly, compassionately, and honestly. Feel free to email me your thoughts about what 'living honestly' means to you. _________________
About the photo: I took this picture of my 7-year old elephant, Gao, at my 3-day mahoot elephant training in Thailand. He was so adorable. When we traveled through the jungle down steep slopes he would pin his ears back to hold me on!! On April 23, 2009, I emailed Supat the Director of the conservation camp where Gao lives to see how "my elephant" was doing. Supat wrote back that he "is greatest and calmest tusk elephant at the camp". He also corrected my spelling: Kaew (pro: Gow).