Happy new year, Ghana!


Many people all around the world make New Year's resolutions. I have never been one to make any that I actually kept, but this tradition has inspired me to make a list of three goals, and see how I do in 2017. 

First, I want to unplug more often. I know people commonly have this resolution. But, coming to a place with less accessible internet and television, I have really been able to follow through on this one. The challenge will be keeping this habit when I return to the States with more accessible internet and television. Unplugging was actually something I was very excited about when accepting this opportunity with the Humanist Action: Ghana.  I have been aware for a long time that I watch far too much television and spend far too much time online. In the States, I lived in an apartment with too much media. We had every satellite channel, HBO, STARZ, Netflix, you name it. We even had a 3D movie channel. Needless to say, television as a habit was far too easy, and I am sure I reached a point of being unhealthy.  Far too often, in the States, I would pull my phone out to check Facebook just seconds after my last view just out of habit and impulse.  There was a coworker at my last job who did not even have a Facebook account, which I always admired, but couldn't bring myself to emulate. Though I see Facebook being useful for certain things, like staying in touch with long distance friends and family, I always felt my way of using it was unhealthy. So, I've taken a break from Facebook. Here in Ghana, I do not even have the app on my phone and using social media for work has been my main exception to this separation. I hope to continue this new habit upon my return to the U.S., and hopefully I will replace these habits with time outside, reading, and honestly just giving myself time to sit, and be, and think, which I feel is a healthy habit that people miss out on in a world of constant stimulus.

Second, I want to live in a town bigger than my last one. I have lived in Springfield, MO for about five years. Coming from a town of fifteen thousand in Arkansas, the town of one-hundred and fifty thousand of Springfield was quite a move up for me. Though I am unsure of where I will be in the months following my commitment here, I do know that Springfield was starting to feel a bit small and did not have much diversity.  This goal creates a lot of unknowns. What work will I do? Which city would fit me as a person? What is life like in a city bigger than these places I have lived? I will be learning everything on the run while adjusting to a new job, new friends, and a new culture. This chance for change is both exciting and stressful for me, but I believe, wherever I go, it will be the right decision. If I can make the leap half way across the world and adjust to a new way of life, I can surely make this leap when I return.

Third, I want to be able to walk without pain. For about the last year, I have had constant pain in my right knee.  My last job had me on my feet about 10 hours a day. As the pain got worse, I eventually got to the point where I was limping and the pain would keep me awake at night. I visited a doctor and a physical therapist, and I even got an X-ray, all which came back to nothing. I was not perfect about the therapeutic exercises my doctor told me to do nor my personal health, but I really hoped this issue would have been done by the time I arrived in Ghana. Unfortunately, even then I still could not walk more than a half-mile before my knee started hurting again. But in Ghana, I have gotten on track. I have diligently been trying different things, different stretches, different exercises, and I feel that every day my leg is a little better. I am an athlete and not being able to walk, much less run, has been really difficult—not just because of the physical limitations. I have yet to play football (soccer) with the neighborhood guys who play on the weekends. I am literally fearful of any activity that requires me to walk long distances. I hope that here soon I am at least at a level where I can run and play for a while, even if it means hard resting for a day. At this point, I  hardly remember what it was like to walk without pain. At the end of this next year, I hope I find it difficult to remember walking with the pain.

All of these goals are things I am truly determined to do. They are also things I have already begun working on. The end of a year is a good time for reflection, but we can decide to work on ourselves at any point. Though New Year's resolutions can be helpful, I want to be in a habit of constantly being self-aware and ready for change whenever needed.

Photos: Top, a sunset in Bimbilla. Bottom, taking a leap over my hometown in Arkansas.