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I love toast. It’s comfort food for me. When I was growing up, we didn’t usually have fancy snacks or other extravagant food in the house (we couldn’t afford it). But we almost always had bread, which meant we almost always had toast. I would sometimes eat 4, 5, 6 pieces of toast a day. Sometimes, it was all I ate in a day. It is what I turn to when I am nervous, struggling, feeling overwhelm, or just need some kindness in my heart. I love toast.

Some days, I am completely disheartened by the actions of human beings. Like the upper-ups in the Massey company, which repeatedly allowed for safety violations, knowing that the lives of their employees were at risk. Or the people claiming that Barak Obama is a Muslim (because that’s a “bad” thing), that he wasn’t born in the United States, or that he is in collusion with any number of countries claimed to be “enemies” of the country.

I go to toast. When I hear these stories, read the articles, I can’t do it. I need toast. Something, anything, to give my heart a little compassion.

But I’ve got a new thing to consider.

The generosity of strangers, of acquaintances, of friends, of loved ones.

See, I’ve got these dreams. You’re probably tired of hearing about them, but this list is much of what I am focusing on these days. Each action I make is toward achieving my dreams. I watch for synchronicities, for the things coming together in my life that move me closer to my dreams.

The primary dream I’m focusing on is two-fold: I want to teach English to women and girls, in India. One of the first things I learned in the Mondo Beyondo class* is that there is a limit to how much you can do toward your dream before you need to turn it over to the Universe. So, when I think about this dream, there are a number of things I can do on my end to make this dream become a reality:

  • Apply for and obtain a US passport
  • Locate and apply for a TEFL/TESOL/TESL certification course
  • Research teaching opportunities in India and the surrounding region (I’m not super-picky on where in India I go, but I’m leaning more toward the northern part of the country {Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, etc}
  • Research and gather resources for teaching English to women and girls in another country (supplies, lessons, games, etc.)
  • Reach out to my contacts for any connections they may have to India and the surrounding regions (family, friends, pen pals, colleagues)

Now, the other part of this dream is to photograph women and children in their native cultures. This is hugely related to teaching in India, as India is one of the places I MOST DEFINITELY want to do this photography. I’m realizing that this part of my dream falls into a category of research one might call feminist photoethnography — using the perspectives of feminist theory to examine cultures using visual/photoethnography. Though, as I think on it, learn about it, and consider calling it “research,” I realize that I’m less interested in the research aspects, the intellectual dissection of cultures in order to “understand” them than I am in the telling of stories.

I want to tell the stories of these women and girls through photography.

This part of the dream also has some planning components on my part:

  • Acquire a Canon Rebel T1i digital camera kit with SD cards (at least two) and an additional 50mm f/1.4 lens.
  • Replace my failing Dell notebook with a MacBook Pro notebook with copious hard drive space and an external hard drive so that I have plenty of room to store all of my images.
  • Purchase Photoshop CS5 (launch announced Monday!) and become comfortable using it to update/clean up my photographs.
  • Upgrade my Flickr account to a “pro” account in order to have more control of my online storage/display of images.
  • Assemble a portfolio of photographs and begin sharing my images with the world.

Right. These two lists make my head hurt. Most of these things require money. Which I’m working on earning, through editing work and freelance writing and a small number of images I have for sale. Though, it’s been a long and difficult road to try and find gainful steady employment, which makes steady income nearly impossible.

So, this is what I have learned: I can do many things on my own. I can put intentions out there, I can work toward my dreams, but sometimes I can only do so much on the resources I have available. This is what brings me to this post.

What if someone suggests that you open yourself for a “fund drive,” allowing others to make donations toward your dreams? How do you work through the challenges of  years worth of it being drilled into your psyche that accepting gifts from people is wrong? That graciously accepting the kindnesses of others (family, friends, and strangers) is somehow flagrant, and means that you haven’t actually worked hard for what you’re getting?

I am all new to this. I have no idea how to go about this. I am on fire with the passion I feel about going to India, about teaching English to women and girls, and to take photographs of women and girls in their cultures. It’s all I think about. I can’t wait to follow this incredible journey.

Do I open myself to the kindnesses of others? If so, what is the tactful way to go about this? Do I ask, or do I allow passive donating?

Has anyone else ever faced this challenge? What are your experiences?

*This is an affiliate link. If you decide to join in the next class of Mondo Beyondo {beginning on May 17th} and do so through this link, I receive a small amount. It’s something I’m trying out because, without Mondo Beyondo, I wouldn’t be following my dreams. I highly recommend discovering your own dreams through this class!