7 Life Changing Lessons from Ghana: Episode 208


Hey, sister! Welcome back to a Taylored Adventure to Happiness. If you are new, welcome! If you are a regular, I love ya, I love ya, I love ya!

Today I’m taking you through four of the seven things I learned from my trip to Ghana, Africa (you can hear about all seven on my podcast episode, here!). That’s right! Africa. I spent two and a half life-changing weeks there this year, and I want to pass along some of the high-energy vibes that the Ghanaians shared with me. Prepare to have your perspective of time, productivity, community, dirt, and physical touch challenged and elevated.  

One of the things I heard my friends in Ghana say over and over again was, “Are you here? Are you okay?”. At first, it kind of made me panic. I was like, “Yeah, I’m here. Should I not be? Am I okay?” As I was there longer, I realized these questions were their way of saying, “Hey, what’s up? Are you grounded? Are you floating? If you’re floating, come back. Be here right now. Are you here?”

Such a beautiful reminder, right? I’m turning this lesson into the practice of checking in with myself throughout the day and saying, “Hey, are you here?” because sometimes the world can carry us away. It’s easy to slip into the victim role of our stories and challenges instead of being the writer of our stories. Our life can kind of take us out of our body, so I love this simple greeting that has turned into a centering question for me “Are you here?”

Take it for yourself, or, better yet, ask it to yourself now. Bring yourself, all your senses and all your thoughts about life, here. Are you here? Settle in. And get ready to read about four of the sevens gifts I received in Ghana. They will make you smile, rework your schedule, reconsider what actually matters, and cover you with the kind of chills you get when something good is happening. Are you here, sister? If so, let’s get started! 

NUMBER ONE: Time Is an Illusion 

How many of you have heard the phrase “Africa time”? If you have any Africans in your life, you know they’re almost always late. They take their time because they don’t operate by the clock. They operate by doing what feels right to them in that moment. 

While I was in Ghana, I made an appointment to meet with Fred, the tailor, to go over quotes and measurements for new school uniforms at 3 PM. I was really excited about this project because donations from my friends and followers funded all the uniforms. It felt like a moment of accomplishment.

After confirming with Fred via WhatsApp that we were still on for 3 PM, I left my house. I got there nice and early so that I could sit and chat with whoever might pass by. At 3:15, Fred still wasn’t there. The shop’s open. He just wasn’t there. So I message Fred. “Hey, are we still meeting at three today? He’s like, “Oh yeah. I’ll be there soon.” 

So I settled in to wait another five or ten minutes. At 3:30, there was still no Fred. Admittedly, I was annoyed because I could be doing something else instead of waiting. Did you read that? I was annoyed because I could be doing something else instead of waiting. I message him again, “Hey, where are you at?” He calls me, “Hey, actually I had to go and help my dad.” What the actual fuck? I thought. Should I just leave and give up on this meeting?! But he assured me he would be there in about an hour. So I stayed.  

While I waited another hour, I decided to press into my triggered emotions. Taking a deep breath, I sat with my feelings, and I asked myself, “What’s coming up? Why are you so frustrated? What’s going on?” At that moment, I realized I was triggered when people weren’t on my time, my schedule, or operating around my expectations. 

But what are expectations? What is time? Did I need to get the measurements done at that time? No, I didn’t. It would’ve been great to get it done, but that wasn’t aligned with the dots of the universe. The universe had my friend do something else. That was what came up for him and what he needed to take action on. It was my time to get present and to learn a lesson on releasing control over people being on my time. 

As this understanding hit me, I realized what a beautiful gift his delay could have been if I had decided to get present. I spent so much time and energy getting frustrated that Fred wasn’t showing up on time because of the million other things I could be doing. What if I had allowed myself to be, sit, observe, surrender to the moment, and surrender to what was happening around me to surrender to life? God, what a gift I missed! Could you imagine the conversations that I could have had with new friends and the things that I could have seen if I just allowed myself to be there at the moment? 

I get that there are deadlines in life, projects that we have to turn into our boss by 5:00, but what if we can enjoy each moment as it is along the way? What if we allowed ourselves to love when someone is late? What if we gave ourselves permission to go with the flow and listen to where our soul calls without worrying about what other people will think? Because when we operate from the space of “What do I want to do right now,” everything aligns and everything gets done, because the little things, the fluff things, fade away. 

NUMBER TWO: Do One Thing with Full Intention

You become an observer when you choose to immerse yourself in another culture. One evening we were people watching on the street, and the woman who owned the restaurant across the street was grinding grain. She was the epitome of being fully present. There was chaos all around her, loud boys dancing and laughing, and the boisterousness goings-on of passers-by. She wasn’t phased by it for a second. 

When people tried to have a conversation with her, she didn’t stop, look up, or respond. She was just present to her task at hand. I know, because I was one of the people who tried to ask her a question. Could she have had a conversation while kneading the dough? Abso-fucking-lutely! But that’s not how they operate. They’re so fully present in what they’re doing. Whatever they’re doing, they give their full undivided attention. 

As I watched her grind her grain, I couldn’t help but think about all the love that she poured into needing that dough because she gave it her undivided attention. Her full love, her whole heart, it was all pouring into that dough. I watched her eyes meet the dough and her hands so intentionally kneading it with rhythm. Nothing rocked her — nothing around her took her out of that zone. When she was done, she turned and set 100% attention to the conversation that she engaged in. Nothing else mattered, just the conversation. So fucking powerful.

How present are you with each task you’re assigned? How could you be more present? What distractions could you put aside to be more present? Because here’s the thing, when I had a conversation with anyone in Ghana, I felt seen and special. Why? Because I was seen. Their full attention was on me. Let’s give the people in our lives the gift of feeling seen by choosing to be present to our work, to our conversations, and to our lives!

NUMBER THREE: Support Without Expectation

While I was in Ghana, I was blown away over and over again by how everyone supported each other. If anyone needed anything — BOOM — people were on it. If someone needed a classroom wall painted — BOOM — the community banded together and got the walls painted. Individuals in the community would literally stop what they were doing so they could help someone else. Often they would grab a friend to help on their way. They truly supported one another without expectation of reciprocation or anticipation of what they would get in return.

For example, every afternoon, I would get three ice creams on my way to the main intersection of the town where everyone socialized for the evening. About halfway there, I stopped at a stump and ate my ice cream. During that time, someone inevitably stopped. I would hand them ice cream, and we would chat. After one of these afternoons, I made it back to my house, which is about a mile walk, and discovered I had left my water bottle. 

By the time I got back to the stump, my water bottle was gone. On my walk back, a young man caught up with me and said, “Taylor, I found your water bottle and passed it to a friend who was on a motorbike to take it to your house.” Turns out that friend and I had missed each other by moments when I was at my house. In the end, he took it to the school for me to pick up.

But what I want you to get from this story is two people who barely knew me went out of their way that day to return my water bottle just because that’s how they do life and support one another. When I thanked them, they just said, “Oh yes, of course.” They had never even expected, and “thank you.”

What expectations have you had lately when you served someone? How can you be intentional in supporting others without expectations this week?

NUMBER FOUR: How Fucking Epic My Online Community Is 

Before I left for Ghana, I created a GoFundMe. In less than two weeks, my followers donated $2000 to fund school uniforms, purchase school supplies, and send Tim, a deaf boy, to school. Sending your kid to a deaf school in Ghana is like sending your kid to college in America. You’re expected to purchase everything they would need to live, including a mattress that adds up to about $600 US dollars, and cover the child’s travel expenses to return home three times a year. 

The evening my mom and I returned from helping Tim settle in at school, a mother and her daughter, Mary, knocked on our door. Mary’s mom asked us if we could help her daughter to get to the deaf school too. I could have financed it, but I felt in my soul that there was someone out there who would want to make the difference in Mary’s life. So I shared a quick post on Instagram, inviting anyone who wanted to cover Mary’s costs for school to send me a DM. I genuinely thought I would get one or two responses.  

The next time I opened my Instagram app, there were hundreds of DMs with people telling me they wanted to be a part, but they could only donate $20. So I started another GoFundMe, and we raised $1000 for Mary to attend deaf school. All that happened in six hours! Not only were we able to cover all of Mary’s tuition and school supplies, but we also put the leftover $400 into a fund so that Mary’s mom could have money to get her daughter three times a year. How fucking beautiful is that? 

What good work do you feel called to? Is there an organization you could be a part of or donate to? When we link arms with each other, we create positive change in other people’s lives.  Your little bit or big bit matters. So, whether it’s my community or someone else’s, get in on the good they’re doing in the world!

Why You Need To Listen To This Episode Right Now…

I have this very innate soul calling, not just to Africa, but to Ghana specifically. This trip was my first time in Ghana, and for the first time in my entire life, I felt like I was truly home — like every part of me was exactly where she belonged. I’ve shared many times that one of my big whys is creating massive wealth and abundance so I can share that and create beautiful opportunities in Africa for those who might not have the opportunities that we have over here.

I feel so blessed that as I gave out the depths of my heart, the people of Ghana gave out of the depths of their hearts. I truly hope you felt all the love that was poured into each of these lessons. Not through me, but my family over in Ghana. If you did, then be sure to listen to the full podcast episode so you can learn about the three other gifts the Ghanaians taught me!

If you want to make an impact in Ghana, know that my mom and I are putting together another trip. You can give or apply to join our team and travel with us by shooting me a DM or emailing me at assist@thetaylorsimpson.com SUBJECT: Africa 

As always, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram (@iamtaylorsimpson) and share what you loved about it on social media and tag me!

Alrighty, guys, catch you next time. Until then, remember to always choose happiness because well, why the fuck not?


Key Takeaways: 

+ Just give love to the people around you
+ When frustrated, take a deep breath
+ What are expectations?
+ It was my time to get present and learn a lesson
+ Time is an illusion to keep things in order
+ What if I allow myself to observe instead of complaining?
+ Appreciate the gift of being in the moment
+ Why am I rushing?
+ Be fully present in what you do
+ How can we see each other as family?
+ Hold hands more, be more friendly
+ Support without expectation
+ How can you be more a hugger?

Standout Quotes:

“It was my time to release, the universe had a different plan for me.”

“Where can you insert time to just sit in silence and enjoy?”

“We are all connected in one life in the universe.”