Think You're Too Small to Make a Big Difference? – You Haven't Spent the Night with a Mosquito…

OR: Life after Malaria

Mosquitoes have always had a crush on me. As a little girl, I often counted 15 mosquito bites a night while others were spared, and I spent many nights awake scratching the itchy bites. And in my adult life, when traveling to places with a large mosquito population, I am usually the first to be attacked. My blood must be extra-delicious… Glad the vampires have never found me!

But it doesn’t stop here. Two tiny mosquitoes changed my life in two instances.


The first time about 8 years ago, when I still lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After several weeks of feeling dizzy, nauseous and dehydrated, I finally decided to make my way to the hospital to get tested for dengue fever… and was admitted right away. The nurses had a hard time finding any blood in my veins to connect the dip bottle for intravenous hydration… I was that dehydrated. Good news is, after a few days I was feeling better and could return home.

The second time happened just recently: Two weeks after my return from Cameroon, I was starting to feel weak and like I was getting the flu. That was on a cold Sunday in NYC after a glorious night of kompa-dancing (when I usually feel energized and high-vibe). That Sunday, something clearly wasn’t right… On Monday, I went about my usual business as it was a busy week and my trip to Qatar was coming up, where I was booked to facilitate a 3-day Transformational Leadership Workshop for a group of women – big deal.

On Wednesday afternoon, I finally decided to take a cab to a medical center, and they immediately called an ambulance to take me to the ER. I was diagnosed with malaria but discharged at 3.30am with a prescription in hands as the doctors had managed to stabilize me. The next day, I picked up my malaria pills and took them as prescribed, but Friday came, and I was feeling so weak that I called 911. This time, they sent me from the ER directly to the ICU… I was completely dehydrated, and my blood pressure was as low as never before.

While I had inner certainty that I was going to make it out of there alive, I must admit it was a bit scary. Medically, I was on the edge. Another concern was of course: Would I get better on time to travel to Doha? I didn’t want to disappoint the organizers or training participants… This clearly wasn’t a good time to get sick (I know, I know, there’s never a good time). Eventually, the trip was postponed by a week due to my condition, but I didn’t know that while I was at the hospital.

But what also came with malaria was a huge spiritual journey. Malaria is about parasites, so I started asking myself some important questions, like:

  • What people and things are parasites in my life? Who and what do I need to get rid of?
  • What do I need to push off my plate to deepen my focus and to put time back onto my calendar for myself and my own needs?
  • Where does my Higher Self want me to play bigger in my life going forward?

In hindsight, and despite some challenging consequences, like catching up with business and not being able to dance in a while, this malaria incident was a gift: A huge opportunity to grow, increase my awareness, make some vital changes that weren’t a priority to me before… and the determination to learn my lessons in a less scary way, meaning that I’ll be more protective of my wellness and my boundaries and more mindful about what I invest my energy in.

Putting myself first, while serving my clients even better by doing so.

But back to the question: Do you still think you are too small to make a difference? – Think again!