“Climbing Mountains” in Georgia… & A Few Updates!

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir.

Dear Fellow Warriors,

It has been more than a month now since my last piece, and so many things I want to share here!

I want to be sure that I at least post here once or twice a month if I am unable to keep my weekly promise at the moment. I always have many pending drafts. I will have to find a way to get them out more frequently. Admittedly, I am still putting the pieces of my life back together, but things are going in a positive and productive direction, and I anticipate being able to post here more often on a weekly basis perhaps in the coming months. Overall I am excited about the different projects I am working on and some of which I hope to share with you soon!

One exciting development was that I recently returned from the most magical and beautiful trip from Tbilisi, Georgia!

I went there as part of a service-oriented role through the non-profit organization I work for in DC. I also had the opportunity to speak at a relevant event in Tbilisi. You can find all the details about the experience here on this post I recently shared on my professional blog: http://www.elsatkhwaja.com/2022/08/18/suitcase-stories-in-georgia-a-storytelling-moment-on-cultural-immersion-in-pakistan/ 

“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”– Unknown.

I believe Georgia was the perfect destination for the experience I was looking for to open up my new chapter after completing my doctorate about a year ago and graduating last summer! Actually today, August 21st, is a year from my official degree conferral last year. So it is great to be sharing this with you today!

But it is always a little difficult to return from such a transformational, transcendental, and empowering experience, feeling like you can do anything, you can climb to the highest peak of the tallest mountain, you can wrestle alligators and grizzly bears, you can conquer the world... and then go back to the “places and spaces” that don’t recognize the change within you.. that might stunt your evolution if you’re not careful.. or just keep you where you were before you encountered the ‘magical place’ … as if it was truly just a dream… But it wasn’t a dream! And I am grateful I had captured so many photos and videos from a truly wonderful time in Georgia’s capital! 

I hope to be making photo albums on Facebook. Here is Part 1 of the Georgia photo album I created recently: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10158499447756572&type=3

I plan to be adding more photos and creating other albums for Georgia over the next few weeks or next month. I won’t be doing international travels as often at least this year, so in the meantime I can reminisce on my previous international trips the past few years… In a sense it is a good thing, because it allows for you to cherish those moments more before you create new memories…

Further, before my trip to Georgia, I did not get a chance to share that I finally started my YouTube Channel!

Here is the About page and link to my YouTube Channel to learn about the purpose of the Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCobDJefvGqLEU3xTk-whiLA/about

I made it to 10 subscribers on YouTube! Yay! Thank you so much to those who have subscribed! I do hope that some within my networks might drop by once in a while to hear from me if there is any interest. I appreciate you. There are many reasons I started it, and partly as an attempt to find a tribe or a community which I don’t feel I have at the moment, as I have discussed in past posts. 

I actually started the channel the same day a year ago from when I defended my dissertation virtually (July 23, 2021). Well I created the channel on New Years Eve, this year, but I could not make it happen, along with many attempts over the course of the year and in previous years. I thought to honor that one year anniversary of my virtual defense by breaking that barrier and pushing myself to start the channel!

Here is my first video on YouTube and the description I wrote in the video is worth reading as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEI-PndOv5Y&t=1266s

As I note in the introductory video, the Channel was something I wanted to begin alongside this Warrior Queen blog 6 years ago and something I had always wanted to do long before that too, alongside my social media activity. I never could get the courage to do it until now. It may not be as big of a mountain as the doctorate, but it indeed a huge thing to tackle for me, especially with my personal challenges over the years.  Even now, it was and is extremely hard, not only in having the courage to be in front of a camera for a video I would post in a public forum, but also because of the time and dedication it takes to create video content, amid other responsibilities. 

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – Les Brown

Botanical Gardens, Tbilisi, Georgia, August 5, 2022.

I may write another post about the Channel at another time in the near future, or just keep posting about it and not feel a need to rationalize or explain my reasoning for it! But as I note, in sum, the Channel will consist of videos from both my professional life as well as my personal, and also the intersections. I will discuss many relevant topics that you may find interesting and relatable, many that are relevant to my identity intersections and broadly within the niche of self-empowerment to community empowerment. I will also talk about my academic research agenda there as well… and some lessons and observations from my academic and personal and professional experiences. Over time, I will try to narrow down or refine and define the niche better…

On the video descriptions in the YouTube videos, I will also post any blog pieces that may be relevant to that video.

Here is the video I recorded in Georgia and my most recent video on my Channel, which captures all that needs to be said about that experience : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx01gAp05t8&t=18

My next video will be a brief video on “Azaadi” the notion of Freedom at a personal and collective level, as I had been working on a blog post for that too. I will keep it brief and Part 1 of a longer conversation which I hope to connect to some concepts with future videos and posts.

So I recorded this recent video while on trip to Georgia after ziplining for the first time over Turtle Lake, a reservoir on top of a small mountain just on the outskirts of Tbilisi city. I just briefly speak on the “mountain metaphor” with reference to completing the doctorate last year and will expand on the concepts in future videos/writings. Soon after that, I would end up going down the mountain in the longer and steeper Zipline, which was the longest zipline in Georgia. Ziplining was something I never thought I would ever do before! Perhaps it means nothing to the dare devils out there or those not deathly afraid of heights as I am, but it was an incredible moment for me. 

I have shared that particular video on YouTube as well as my other social media accounts, but I guess others didn’t feel the same about that moment as well. But here it is if you’d like to watch it (credit to Nikita, who did the Zipline with me!!!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anCgHM9mx1c&t=22s

As I have noted in my first video, I aim to get better at my performance in the videos. I noted in my introductory video that I will be giving myself the permission to suck for at least 100 videos and get better over time. You do not fail if you keep trying!!!

And most people you know will not support you on your different and creative endeavors while you are attempting to access the creative and suppressed artist within… But you brush that off and you keep climbing!

I do hope those who have known me for a long time can see the evolution in my ability to speak and feel proud of me for it. Because I am proud of the progress I have made in eliminating my stutter when I speak, which has been connected to my anxiety disorder. And I really do believe that Georgia empowered me in this as well!

“The top of one mountain is always the bottom of another.” – Marianne Williamson

I had recorded the invited talk, which I refere to earlier. I may only put a segment of that on my Channel. I watched it and was very proud of my progress, it was actually not too bad at all. The organizer recently informed me that the insights I shared that day was “truly inspiring and eye-opening” which really meant so much to hear!.. so I will share a segment of that video on the Channel perhaps in the coming weeks. 

Even with that talk, I have to say that I had a few panic attacks the night before and the morning before my talk. I think it was because it was the first time I finally had an opportunity to speak about my experiences and that people showed up to actually listen to me. It was a very special moment for me. It can be sad that those in your personal and professional networks don’t feel what you feel about certain special and unique moments that you experience, but don’t let that make you feel any differently about it, or downgrade your achievements! 

Botanical Gardens Waterfall. August 5, 2022.

When you are someone “starting from the bottom” and rising up, these moments will always be special. I honor these moments, because I hope it will also inspire or motivate or empower others too, especially those who feel they are “at the bottom” as they work to “change their stars,” and pay it forward. This is how it should work. 

In the pieces I shared earlier on my professional blog, I also share acknowledgements for the amazing people who supported me during that week. I remember during my fieldwork in Pakistan, some trips I made to places around the country were brief trips, or day tours, which are equally special. Given that Tbilisi was yes only one week experience, it was still extremely rewarding and eventful, from the moment I arrived in the country, to the hours I left the airport back to my home, after leaving the remarkable Georgian exchange students.

“Go where you feel most alive.” – Unknown. 

One of my favorite monuments in Tbilisi was the Mother of Georgia. One of the amazing students that I met on this trip told me about her. She shared that in her left hand the statue is holding a cup of red wine (which symbolizes a special Georgian sense of hospitality) and in the other hand, she is holding a sword/weapon (symbolizing the fight for liberation and freedom). Simply Beautiful. 

The “synchronicity” emulated from this symbolism for me was evident with my time in Georgia… as these two themes of fighting for freedom, in part seeking empowerment (coming from freedom) and hospitality, was what I addressed in the invited talk, in the context of my time in Pakistan, conducting fieldwork, and also what I experienced during my time in Georgia. That is really beautiful and what really made this monument extra special for me, and even what has been integral to the “Warrior Queen” that has been my mantra for “inward revolution” and self-empowerment.

I really love how The mother of Georgia fits with the theme of my blog. She was a Warrior. She would fight for freedom, liberation, empowerment (hence Azaadi). She would at the same time demonstrate a sense of humility, compassion, kindness, and softness to all. Truly a beautiful balance for a real Warrior Queen. And I just love the moments when I saw her in the evening and the moon appeared right above her as if they were lovers. Perhaps He may have been worried that I was jealous. But I’m not a jealous person. The sisterhood was much stronger and it was heartwarming to see she has His companionship at times throughout the night…

So did I actually climb mountains in Georgia? No, I only visited Tbisili, but I did in a sense climb difficult heights, go up and down small mountains and plateaus, zipline, and figuratively I “climbed mountains” throughout this trip, and the days leading to it, by finally pushing through the barriers that were preventing me from doing things I aspired to do, and facing my fear of heights, public speaking at an event, posting videos of me speaking online, among other things… As I say in the YouTube video, the trip brought some things into perspective for me. And I am looking forward to more exciting challenges ahead in facing fears and continuing to climb the bigger mountains!

“Thank you, Georgia, for empowering me!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdqIO-btJj4

Thank you for giving my voice a chance and sincere gratitude again to those who have been there in my journey, who are joining me now, and who will stay… I appreciate you!

Top of a mountain near Turtle Lake in Tbilisi, Georgia. August 7, 2022

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

Peace, Warmth, and Blessings, 

Your Sister, 

Dr. Elsa, 

Warrior KQueen

“She wasn’t looking for a Knight. She was looking for the Sword.” – Atticus

From my visit of The Mother of Georgia. August 6, 2022


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