Curiosity & Courage Are My Guides

Curiosity&CourageCuriosity & Courage are my Guides 

A Minority Everywhere I Go
Leading in a Global Mosaic Series: Part II

Editorial & Photography by Lucy Shenouda

Global Living Magazine – Issue 15 | Nov/Dec 2014

I wake up disoriented, forgetting for a moment where I am. I feel a deep quiet within, a serene feeling brought on by the early sounds of nature and the rustic, cozy, cabin-like decor. The inner fog slowly clears. 

I am in a tranquil place. I wake up at a yoga retreat, a hundred-acre sanctuary of forest trails, meditation gardens and a labyrinth situated beautifully on a natural spring-fed lake near Bancroft, Ontario, the Mineral Capital of Canada. 

I am a guest presenter in exchange for a two-day weekend getaway! I wonder to myself in that moment of quiet: 

“Why am I here?” 

“How did I get here?” 

“What am I doing here?” 

I am in a particularly reflective mood. The rustic decor, the sounds of nature, the refreshing fall air stop me, bringing me gently into the present moment. I shake off the temptation to reflect on the past. I walk towards the balcony door. 

I am in awe of the scene before me. It is October 2012, the fall season in all its glory! I breathe it in. In this moment, I feel grateful for taking the time to look outside, to witness the present. 

The season of fall is my favorite time of year – a gift for my senses. There’s an early morning wispy fog floating across the lake, the breeze crispy cool yet comfortable. Moving quickly, I get ready and head out to take pictures. The timing is just right.

I walk down the steps through the wood-lined hallways towards the Great Hall and out to the balcony, careful as I step. Even so, I slip in a moment of excitement and recover quickly. I slow down. 

The feeling of slipping, of disorientation, is a familiar feeling, particularly over the past 20 years of living and working globally. Just when I feel settled, friendships formed, adversities crossed, and opportunities realized… a change comes my way.

With changing countries, homes, and jobs through formative and adult years, I am familiar with change. And, being accustomed to change is a lifetime learning process.

I have found my greatest resource is leaning into both curiosity and courage. These qualities in ‘leading in a global mosaic’ are fundamental to navigating life changes – small and large.

GS-LakeFog2The reality is: I am a minority everywhere I go. I am a unique blend of birthplace, international schools, local schools, education, jobs, travels, experiences and, most importantly, mindset and choices. Each choice made for me and by me forms a unique mosaic of life experiences. As global nomads, we blend with others in our path, bringing our unique mosaic pieces, our ideas, purpose, values and beliefs together as our lives converge.

E.E. Cummings said: “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

As I learned to trust and believe in myself, in my instincts, the choices I contemplated and eventually made naturally evolved to shape my life.

Over the years, experience has taught me that shifting from living in the confusion to living in the questions was healing – a way to focus forward to my life’s purpose. Natural curiosity infused my approach to facing confusing and often edgy situations. Facing unknowns is part of the human condition, a fact of life.

It hasn’t been easy. And, it can be simple. Over the years I’ve come to experience and believe that confusion precedes inspiration. I have learned to allow myself to be in the confusion, to gradually feel the shift to revelation through a blend of self-belief, wondrous curiosity and the courage to live in the questions.

As I snap photo after photo, breathing in the inspiration and beauty around me, I realize the answers to my questions don’t matter as much as the questions themselves.

In spite of myself, I flash back to places and events of the past 16 years. Such a strange transition from the years I lived and settled in two remarkable places on the globe today: the historical, magical lands of bustling Cairo, Egypt, and the modern, thriving business hub of Dubai, UAE. And now, back in Canada, my childhood home, and the fall season that I missed so much! 

It has been three years since we moved back to Canada and I feel just as restless and unsettled as the day we arrived.

So, I choose to live in wonder of the questions for this moment. The mystery person on the canoe in the early morning fog inspires my thoughts. 

I am sitting in that canoe, the fog before me, the way unclear yet the lake familiar; the land is before me and the choice to be still, to move right, left, forward or back are all there for me to take, one stroke at a time.

The mystery of what’s before me excites me. And so I do; I focus forward to this day when I meet the guests at the yoga retreat. I have this moment, this day, to make of what I want.

I present my ideas, share my experiences and inspire them to do the same… living the only way I know how, one mosaic piece at a time.

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