I am living an honest and compassionate life of purpose, service, and overflowing love.
Have you ever met someone that immediately inspires you to take a more active role in your life? To be a better person and to help others in need? That is exactly what happened when I met Kayla Nielsen, the brains behind GLOW (Go Light Our World).
At this point you may be asking what is GLOW, and that my friends is a great question. Go Light Our World is a non-profit organization dedicated to diminishing poverty with eco-friendly solutions. They strive to unite the energy of all their donors, and to spread their collective light around the world.
Stoked Yogi will be teaming up with GLOW to offer a karma yoga event in which all donations will be benefiting Kayla’s project. The event will be held at the lovely Fletcher Cove Park on Sunday March 8th at 10am. To find out more please check out our event page.
We caught up with Kayla Nielsen to find out just how she landed on this path of philanthropy and her response was nothing short of amazing. I could not even trim down her response because every word was really part of her path! Check out what she had to say:
“There are so many things that made me pursue this path of philanthropy and yoga. I believe a lot of that realization came from hitting ‘rock bottom’ of sorts. GLOW was born out of not only my love and sometimes indescribable passion for serving in Africa, but also absolute loss and the choice to ‘lose myself in the service of others.’
Throughout high school, college, and even afterwards as well- I chose the party route. I was surrounded with so many people and things, yet so few authentic connections. This became very clear to me after being involved in an abusive relationship for years; one that ended pretty explosively with myself in the hospital and the guy in jail. It was the first time in my life I was actually afraid of dying, and a night that would soon change the direction of my entire life.
I lost both of my jobs due to the injuries inflicted, and I lost the majority of my friends, as well, by choosing to pursue legal action against the guy. The build-up to the trial itself took place over the course of nearly an entire year; most of which I left the country, traveling through Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. It was here I dove back in yoga, calling upon my breath in moments of stress, crippling anxiety, and depression. I began to rediscover pieces of myself that I hadn’t seen nor loved in years. Most of this resurfaced during my six months in Africa when I was traveling alone.
I came back from this life-changing eight months abroad, to be seated on a witness stand in a courtroom for two weeks while the trial unfolded. And after everything, I lost. Everything was dropped, and the last few people who believed in me turned their backs. To say I was devastated would be an understatement- I had just cut my time short in the places I loved to come home and fight for what? Justice? I felt wronged and cheated, and completely at a loss. I left San Diego after the trial, the painful memories here were something I thought could never be erased. And I certainly never thought I would return.
However, during one of the many long, snowy morning walks I would take with my dad back home in Tahoe- he looked at me and said, ‘I know you think this is worst possible outcome after investing this much time and energy into something so painful. I know this has been the hardest year of your life in so many ways, but how has it also been the greatest? You have the choice right now to allow what happened that night to control your life, or you have the choice to move on and start forward in ANY direction you want to go. You realize you have the entire world at your fingertips, right? What do you want, Kayla? You want to go back to Africa and start your own non-profit there? Then go; do it! You are 24-years-old, you can do anything you want. We will love and support you no matter you do. But your heart is too big to hold on to bitterness and anger like this. Go where your heart is calling.’
So I did. I was back in Kenya within a month after that conversation. This time, I was there without an organization, without a total plan- but completely by myself. I got an apartment there, and decided to work my butt off to make it work. All I could think about was how the unconditional love and hope of my family was the glue keeping me together during all that happened to break me apart- and how there are so many people in the world who are deprived of that same love. It was my goal to share that gift with as many people as possible.
Unfortunately, I was forced to leave Africa after another six months there due to an allergy to an unknown insect there. I was being hospitalized monthly, and the reactions were getting more and more severe. Doctors/specialists told me I should reconsider my choice to live in a place that just might kill me. So I did. I left for Asia to get healthy, and to search for another place/country where I could actually implement my ultimate dream: a solar project. Over that year, I managed to wander almost every corner of Indonesia, falling in love, volunteering, and living fully- though my heart was still in Africa.
I came home when the money ran out this past May. It was then; I realized that just because my hope was distinguished once again, I had the choice to move past it- to modify the plan, to make the dream a reality. This deep-rooted calling/purpose was breathed to life once again through yoga. Through meditation and soul searching- though this time without the adventure and travel, but in the distress of adjusting back to ‘real life’ back home in America for the first time in two years.
I made a move that surprised everyone by heading back down south to San Diego, which I can say with confidence comes with great peace rather than internal strife. My life is different here than it ever was before. I went through teacher training, making new friends with people who love the same healthy lifestyle that I do. And this community of beautiful yogis, has truly been the greatest inspiration and backbone to the rebirth of a dream that never died.”
“I slept and I dreamed that life was all joy. I woke and I saw that life was all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” Khalil Gibran
There is no doubt that this story brought tears to my eyes and left me wondering how I could help out. If you would like to donate to this cause please visit her donor page.
Their first project will be Solar Lantern Distribution in Ethiopia. In April 2015, GLOW is bringing solar light to Kelina village in the Walda Kelina district in Southern Ethiopia. There are approximately 1,500 people living here, and about 400 households total.Their goal is to eliminate kerosene lamps by supplying solar lighting to each home.Providing solar light to one household costs $50. This includes a 2-year warranty and basic education of maintenance on the product provided.GLOW is obtaining all solar products from a local distribution company (SunTransfer) in an effort to contribute to Ethiopia’s local economy.
To catch up with Kayla Nielsen you can visit her website or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Her FaceBook is Go Light Our World and her Instagram’s are @kaylala88 and @go_light_our_world