Merry & Bright

30 Dec

Well, I have just returned from a little holiday excursion back to the midwest to visit family. It was a good time and fun to be back in the midwest, connect with my mom, sister and her family. Even though I have only been away for a short time, it’s always interesting to go home and notice how my life has grown and changed since my last visit.

I haven’t written much lately because in truth… I have been busy.  I have myself a job here in Asheville that has been keeping me on my toes.  I was hired as a contractor to handle some marketing and graphic design needs for a small local health food chain that is doing both some growing and struggling right now.  And since I have been hired,  I have found myself pretty much doing the same.  I was initially hired for some part-time obligations that quickly blossomed into full-on, hands on work.  As we all continue to struggle and grow, I imagine things will balance out a bit so we will see how things develop!

Part of the beauty of this work is that I do much of it remotely and was able to pack up my computer and take my job on the road while I went home for a visit.  Not always easy or fun to work while you’re home for holidays, but much better than not going at all!

I’ve been gone for just over a week but it’s good to be back in the Asheville area. There is something about the air and the mountains here that just makes me feel at ease.  That said, returning after a week with family around to circumstances where I am often “on my own” also feels like its own adjustment.

And while the drive there and back was… long… I returned feeling full from the experience and having some time with family.

So for now, I am continuing to sail my boat here in Asheville paddling along with my new work responsibilities and continuing to find my way in a new community.

Once again I am grateful for my practice with the buddhist organization Soka Gakkai International.  This practice has been one of the cornerstones in my world these past traveling years that in addition to offering a strong spiritual foundation provides a way to meet and connect with new people in new territory.  This always makes things better.

As 2016 comes to a close, I am remembering what Maria Shaw, a New Orleans Astrologer who I appreciate and pay attention to, said about this past year.  She said from the very beginning that it will be a year of change and that has been true for me.  I’ve done my best to go with the flow and allow things to unfold.  It seems, it’s the best way to go.

As we roll out of 2016 and into 2017 I am grateful for many things.  I am grateful this past year for my mother who was a great support to me as I was transitioning back to being in the US.  I am grateful for my Reiki teacher and friend, Elizabeth Ohmer Pellegrin, who has assisted me with her wisdom and insight.  And I am grateful for the friends, old and new, who I have met and seen along the way.

And I am grateful to be in beautiful Asheville.  We will see how 2017 and the next chapter unfolds!

Wishing you courage, faith, confidence, trust and good spirit in the New Year!

 

Featured Photo:  A cool winter morning at the neighborhood lake just up the street from my mom’s home in Missouri.wintermorning

Settling In

3 Nov

I had my first taste of the mountain fog this morning.  I ran an early morning errand for my current host and found myself driving cautiously through the curvy, shadowy streets.  Slowly I am finding my way in, around and near Asheville, still blindly following the persistent and mostly reliable voice of my GPS navigator.

It’s hard to believe that I have been in Asheville for about a month now.  In truth it’s been a bit of an adjustment for me being here, navigating new space and relationships. Drifting again in uncertainty while life rearranges itself around me.

I am currently sharing a house with two lovely travellers, a youngish couple, themselves making their way via helpx.  They are here for the short-term caring for the home and dogs of the owners while they are away.  And me, well, while I am living here, I am doing an exchange with the homeowner’s daughter and family who live not far down the street.

If you don’t know, helpx.net is an international network that connects hosts willing to offer room and/or board in exchange for some needed work with travellers looking for a creative and affordable way to travel.  Helpx has been an important link for me on this mega-journey.  It offered a way to stay longer in Europe opening doors to working and living in France.  It afforded me a way to connect with and see a bit more of Germany when I was watching every dime that I spent. And it was a bridge when I needed to come back to the United States for just a few months to apply for and get my visa to teach English in South Korea.  And now, here I am in Asheville!

My helpx trade here is a pretty simple one.  If you read my blog, you know by now that I pay special attention to my diet, something that doesn’t work in all households.  So, for this trade I am doing a modest amount of work in exchange for my place to stay and handling my food and meal needs on my own.  It’s a start and a great way to land and get to know Asheville.

This past month has slid by as I have been preoccupied with finding my own rhythm in new circumstances, exploring Asheville a bit, making an effort to connect with and meet new people, and of course looking for work. Along the way I have managed to explore and see some pretty great things. Here are a few highlights…

 

A Sunday Ride Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Wow, I truly love this.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is literally just up the road from where I am staying.  A few weeks ago I took a longer drive up the Parkway and was bombarded turn after turn with breathtaking scenery.  I couldn’t take the smile off my face.  As the Parkway noodles through town, it’s a road I can hop on to go almost any ol’ place…  Just yesterday I was heading to a meeting about ten miles from here and lucky me, four miles of my journey was spent on the Parkway.  A remarkable diversion in the ins and outs of everyday life.

 

Getting Out in Nature

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This is one of the things I have truly been longing for – to live someplace with easy access to nature.  What a wonderful treat!  This little trail here is just a few miles from where I stay and meanders along the Swannanoa river.  It’s beautiful, pristine and literally a breath of fresh air. (Trailhead is located at Charles D. Owen Park, 875 Warren Wilson Road in Swannanoa, NC. )

 

Meeting the Neighbors

meet the neighbors

My current residence is part breathtakingly rural part small town/suburb.  Meet some of my new neighbors!   Just on the outskirts of Asheville, it takes only ten minutes to get to town with access to healthy stores, eclectic restaurants and shopping.  While Asheville is the heart of much of the attraction and activity here, it is surrounded by an assortment of little towns and communities many thriving in their own way.  So far it seems an interesting combination of folks from new age transplant to conservative native.

 

The Serious Business of Finding a Job

View Grove Park Inn

It’s not everyplace that you can go for a job interview and end up here.  This is the view from the Grove Park Inn, one of the grandest hotels in Asheville with, as you can see, a spectacular view.  It was a real treat to go there, meet and connect with folks who had worked there for decades, and also get the window seat in an elegant meeting room with a million dollar view.

 

Out and About Town

Asheville Flea Market

Little by little I am finding my way around town and slowly connecting the dots of the flavor and color that is the Asheville area. Last Sunday I stopped by the monthly flea market at Salvage Station, pictured above, filled with original crafts and flea market treasures. Much to my surprise I even ran into a “familiar face,” an unexpected treat when living in new territory.

 

ashevillecommunityyoga

Yoga!

And yes I simply can’t forget YOGA! Tonight I went to a class at a studio called Asheville Community Yoga. Don’t let it’s simple unassuming appearance deceive you – the vibe and energy of the place simply blew me away.  It felt like coming home to the mother ship.  After many years of travel often without a yoga studio that felt like home, or access to yoga at all (other than my own personal practice) it was a relief on so many levels to enter into this warm inviting yoga space.  I look forward to spending more time there.

 

It’s been surprisingly warm here in the mountains of Asheville, with fall brimming in the trees but misleading almost summer-like temperatures.  My new-to-me Honda CR-V and I are prepared for the coming winter as I am almost longing for the break that winter affords after my recent hot-hot year in Thailand.

Good-bye for now as my journey and “settling in” continue in the quiet, summer-like fall in the hills of Swannanoa.

Hello, Asheville!

14 Oct

Well, it seems the cat may be out of the bag….but for those of you who haven’t figured it out… I am in Asheville, North Carolina!  I made the fairly friendly 14-hour jaunt over a week ago and since have been easing my way into the mountainous world of Asheville.

Technically I am in Swannanoa… just a breezy ten-minute drive from downtown Asheville.  Coming to Asheville has been on my mind for some time now.  Since returning to the US, I have been open to and exploring ways, a reason to come here. Thanks to an invitation from a host on helpx.net, here I am!

As you may recall, helpx.net is an international network of hosts willing to offer room and/or board to a traveler in exchange for some needed help. My current exchange is with a small bundle of a family… I am living in the mother’s home and helping out the daughter, a busy mom who lives down the street, a modest number of hours in exchange for a place to live.  Here are a few photos from my new location.

Here I am… learning to navigate the hilly Asheville terrain and blown away by the nearly constant beauty.  I am also exploring work options and opportunities to supplement my current arrangement. It seems my new to me Honda CRV has found her tribe, surrounded by many-a 4-wheel drive brothers, sisters and distant cousins. And me, well I am still adjusting to the hilly landscape doing my best with my manual transmission up the occasionally daunting pitch of roads and driveways.

I am grateful to connect with a friend from New Orleans who now lives in the area.  It’s comforting to see a familiar face (although now fuzzy in a winter mountain-man sort of way) after more than ten years.  He has become a farmer since his departure from New Orleans and so far our meetings have included a trip to pick up a sheep and conversations of chickens, ducks and other farmy things.

In earnest, I like the possibilities of access to a more rural environment and a growing but still small mountain city with a progressive bend.  Like any changes, I am going through my growing pains… the nervousness and excitement of being someplace new, the possibility and anxiety as I sift through the ambiguity and uncertainty.

And so… while I am still adjusting, I am excited about my new chilly, hilly surroundings.  Exploring things one step at a time with still much to unfold!

Turning a Corner

2 Oct

Well, it’s been a long time since I have written.  Mostly, it has been a slow, restful time for me soaking up the much-needed quieter pace and regularity family and the midwest have to offer.  My time has undoubtedly been… low-key.  And honestly, just what the doctor ordered.

I’ve mostly been in my mom’s small town just beyond the suburbs of a midwestern city. I’ve taken in its quiet days and most impressive big blues skies and cloud formations. I’ve appreciated long drives down country roads.

I am very grateful to my mom for opening her doors and letting me hang around her home for much longer than either of us expected.

And now it’s time… I am, turning a corner of sorts.  Tomorrow, I am off to new territory! But the difference this time is I won’t be getting on an airplane.  I am not spending my days meticulously packing trying to fit my whole life into two bags and not exceeding 50 pounds.  No, this time… I will be packing up my car and driving away.  And while my personal belongings don’t exceed far beyond two bags, there is some pleasure in having a little more ease in packing, a little extra room for my belongings to belong.

I am not going to share just yet exactly… where I am going.  But rest assured, tomorrow I will be on my way.  Still feeling at least a little like a “new” nervous driver after being off American roads for 5 years.  Still getting my American legs back and looking forward to stretching them a bit as I hit the open roads.

I will soon share my new destination.  In the meantime, I am appreciating the quiet where I am and feeling a peaceful excitement of a little adventure and travel on the horizon….Grateful for the time I spent here and looking forward to turning a corner and exploring new territory.

Life Back in the USA

24 Jul

It’s a pretty hot day here in the mid-west.  As I look out my window, all I see is the penetrating sun and the quiet streets as there is not much motion in the summer heat.

I am here still in the mid-west in small town USA.  I am grateful for my extended stay with family and earnestly, I am here longer than I expected.  This time is undoubtedly a crossroads for me and I am thankful to be able to explore options and choices for my “what’s next.”  I have had a few opportunities come my way, but so far nothing that has felt like the right fit for me.  So here I am, continuing to pay attention, explore, research, investigate, apply.

In the meantime, I am doing temporary work.  At first I felt like a fish out of water back from Thailand working in the mid-western office scene.  I practically had to wear a parka in the iced air conditioned offices after my months of Thailand’s deep thick heat. Even the little things caught my attention, like I didn’t know how the use the new fancy coffee machines.  Copier technology is WAY cooler than the last time I worked in an office.  And filing is now done… electronically.  Who knew?

While it has taken some time to get my “American office legs” back, I am grateful for the good things it has brought my way.  Of course I appreciate the income, but it has also helped me to regain my confidence back in the American workplace. My first temporary job, intended initially as just a three-day work agreement, extended to nearly six weeks.  I was thrown into the hot-seat of a busy title company, something totally foreign to me. I had to keep my eyes on all of the balls coming from all directions and with equal parts hard work and answered questions, I made my way to the other side… now knowing quite a bit about the title business and feeling successful and acknowledged for my efforts.

newwheelsA new big change for me… I now have wheels! Returning to the US, I was… hesitant to get a car for many reasons.  Part of what has kept me flexible and traveling these past years has included keeping things ultra simple and also keeping my personal expenses as low as possible. Abroad there was almost always a way to get around via public transportation.  Whether it was riding in the back of a red truck in Thailand, traveling the U-Bahn in Vienna, or catching the regular bus to Seoul, there was always a way.  Here in the US it is of course a different story. Public transportation in most cities is just not a priority. Where I am currently staying, it is literally non-existant.  And so a few weeks ago… I did it! I got a car. In many ways I am so relieved.  What a blessing it is to be mobile again as I continue to explore and make my way.

How are things wherever in the world you are?  It is always great to hear from you! Good-bye for now from quiet summer days and life back in the USA.

 

 

Decisions, Decisions

13 Jun

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon here in smalltown mid-usa.  The temperatures are acting like summer and they are quite hot… but after my year in Thailand, in some ways I think I know better of what hot REALLY is!  There isn’t much to do today.  An SGI Buddhist meeting this morning.  The rest of the day a lazy and casual afternoon and then a bit of preparing for… work.

Yes, that’s right.  I said work.  After 5 years of international life and travel, I have myself a little work here in the USA. It’s a short-term assignment and in earnest that gives me some peace as I am still considering, exploring and open to new options regarding what I might like to do next.  It seems these last few days the decision of “what to do now?” has been weighing on me pretty heavily.

I attended a great SGI meeting this morning.  It’s such a comfort to me to connect with the friendly SGI Buddhist members down the street in the comfort of their country home.  To relax and read and discuss and learn.  And also to be offered a change in perspective from the one I entered with.

One of the greater themes of this practice is to never give up and to approach challenging circumstances with the spirit of “turning poison into medicine.”  The lesson today shared that when we face challenges and obstacles there are two choices… 1.  complain and be defeated or 2.  live in invincible spirit blazing your own way regardless of your environment.  That is quite a choice.

These past five years with the help of SGI, it’s practices and other groups and communities I have made that choice to find my way, miraculously at times, around the globe and through a myriad of my own personal challenges and triumphs.  And now that I am here back in the States I find a whole new set of challenges in considering and exploring what is next in the midst of my current circumstances, interests and priorities.

I reached out to my trusted friend and advisor, Reiki Master Elizabeth Ohmer Pellegrin, and shared some of my current concerns.  Her reply was to send me this video and suggest I watch it from beginning to end… It is nearly an hour but it went down quite comfortably and easily.  And while I can’t say it relieved me from all of my present anxiety it did offer a panacea or two worth taking into consideration.

The first idea that I am taking with me is that there is no such thing as a wrong decision… but that any decision we make can be turned into something useful for ourselves and our lives.  And that sometimes taking this pressure off ourselves can put us in a relaxed place to more easily make our decisions.  The other morsel that stood out among many was that we often have an urgency to make decisions for our lives.  And that instead a useful practice is to let it go for a few days, to wait and almost forget about it and see what ideas come to us.

I have to admit I have been wrestling with the possibilities of my considerations, priorities and what’s next in a way that is far from peaceful.  So for today, for now I am going to practice letting go of these attachments, letting go of some of my fears and worries around the circumstance and see what that offers.  And I will also continue on my SGI journey and trust in the path and journey that unfolds.

There was a short story shared in the SGI meeting today that I particularly liked.  It went like this:

“Suppose you are lost in the jungle.  You want to find your way out and reach the ocean but don’t know which way to go. What will you do?  The answer is, keep moving ahead along any course until you come to a river.  Then follow the river downstream, you will eventually reach the ocean.

Move forward.  As you struggle, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and keep pressing ahead even if only a millimeter, two millimeters.  If you keep that up all your life, when you finally look back, you’ll see you’ve made your way out of the jungle.”

So here I am in the jungle of my current transition and in unexpected territory in many ways!  But for now the mission, the goal is to keep pressing ahead on the course that is before me.  And, to relax a bit, to practice being at ease and “turn over” some of the big decisions fighting their way in my mind.

The sun has just gone away outside my window and some grey skies and wind are rolling in.  We have had a lot of grey skies and storms here in these past few months.  I have enjoyed this and appreciate the comfort of being safe inside and watching the approaching rain, wind and storms roll in.

And in just a few minutes I will prepare a few things for my workday tomorrow. After 5 years of international travel and nearly 15 years in New Orleans, I find myself truly in unfamiliar territory pressing ahead in my journey out of the jungle.

Featured image:  Can you see them?  The two little orange beaks poking their way out of the nest?  We have a few baby birds arrive a few weeks ago nestled in a tree outside my mom’s back door.

Additional Note:  The blog page has a featured image at the top of every post. For some reason, this image cannot be viewed through the facebook and other links but only when you visit the main feed of this blog.  I have tried to troubleshoot this, but it seems it is just “one of those things.” So, if you don’t see a featured image… click here gypsywomancafe.com and hopefully you will see the photo.

Embracing Uncertainty

16 May

It’s been a month since I last wrote.  This time of transition has seen its share of quiet, uneventful days… some spent in grateful relaxation, others spent a little ill at ease wondering “what is next” for me.  As me and my life move through this shift that I imagine is… a bit of an end of an era… I am sure my blog too will change and adjust to reflect the landscape of my life and what’s at hand.

I am in bed working on my laptop.  It’s a quiet, rainy Monday morning.  You might laugh if you caught a look at me, draped up like it’s winter in the moderately cool late spring weather.  For me these 50 something days feel a bit like… winter… as indeed they were considered quite cold in Thailand in relationship to the plethora of days shooting past 100.

I am grateful to be home… and also antsy and edgy and some days not quite sure what to do with myself.  But sometimes transition can be that way.  What is different about this “time between” for me is it’s the first time I don’t have an itch to head back out on a new international adventure just yet and it’s also the first time, while I have ideas and options of what I might do short and longer term, I don’t have a real plan just yet.

And then… for those interested or even mildly curious… there is astrology.  We are currently coming out of a period where five planets were in retrograde… an intense time that hasn’t happened in ten years… and still now there are four planets in retrograde.  The long and short of this is, it’s not a great time to move forward with things and doing so might leave one feeling like all you are accomplishing is banging your head against the wall.  It is however a good time for reflection and consideration for changes ahead.

I received some beautiful advice from my appreciated mentor and Reiki teacher… she shared a quote that said, “Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty.  Enjoy the beauty of becoming.  When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”  And so, here I am wading around in that a bit… at times embracing, other time dodging the uncertainty.

Life remains unmistakably simple.  At times this is an appreciated respite after many years of busyness and personal stretching way beyond boundaries and comfort levels.  After such an intense period of growth in my life, I have to admit that it’s kind of nice to have a chunk of time with few expectations or commitments.  And that said, there is an itch for things to be different and for some simple, fresh change to softly enter my world.

But for now I am here and grateful for many things!  It’s so great to bask a little bit in moderate spring temperatures in the mid-western land of big expansive blue skies.  I have been a regular walker and some days the weather is so fresh and inviting I could practically take a bite of it.  I am also grateful for my mom and her little dog “GG” who have been my faithful companions over these recent weeks of reentering familiar/unfamiliar territory.

I am grateful for the local SGI group here in the area.  SGI is an international Buddhist organization that I participate in and time and time again provides a refuge of friendship, support and personal and spiritual development around the globe…. even here in my mom’s small mid-western town.  What a treat it is to be greeted by friendly, supportive faces with opportunities to study, grow and be reminded of the opportunities and possibilities in life on a weekly basis.

The wind is whirring outside today, not an unfamiliar sound in this unusually windy slice of the flat midwestern landscape. The rain and grey skies are lulling me to surrender to a lazy day ahead.  My mom’s dog is resting heavily at my feet with not much ambition to offer herself.

So for now, here I am restful and restless in this time of change.  Explorations and preparations at hand, but the calling still seems to be plenty of walks under the big blue midwestern sky and …embracing the uncertainty.

Featured photo:  Big blue skies in my mom’s midwestern USA neighborhood.

Quiet Days and Big Skies

18 Apr

Wow, it’s a refreshing spring afternoon here in the midwest.  I have to laugh as I stay wrapped up in fleece and sweaters in this mid-60s F weather after my saturation in the Thailand heat.  I saw that a recent day in Chiang Mai was 44 degrees C (about 111 F).  While there are earnestly things I miss about my time and life in Chiang Mai, that number alone is a stark reminder of the joys AND pains of life in Thailand.

These past few weeks have been quite a simple time for me.  I am honestly just trying to rest up and get myself to a place of feeling more equilibrium.  I take the dog for walks. I relax and do Reiki for myself and others. I’ve watched some movies and more HGTV than I care to admit.  I am appreciating simple pleasures like unpacking my suitcases, washing all my clothes and having things feel stable and still if even just for now.

I am visiting with my mom in her friendly but small town in mid-western Americana.  Our days include plenty of shopping.  I believe I have sniffed out most of the organic products in all of the major groceries in her town and near-by.  My healthy-eating appetite has been simply saturated with products, stores and resources simply not available abroad.  I joined her recently at her regular Senior Sneakers workout class at the local community center – doing a little line dancing and weight lifting with my mom and her friends.  Additionally, my mom’s church down the street happens to have a great church wellness center with a caring and gracious staff.  This has become a place I love to go when visiting for yoga classes and other wellness resources.

Today I had the pleasure of connecting with the local SGI group.  This Buddhist practice has been in my life for the past 5 years and has ushered in supportive and wonderful community nearly everyplace I’ve been on the globe.  Genuine and interesting people and a dynamic and challenging practice and approach to life.  How grateful I am that I can turn to this local group whenever I am in town and feel their support and kindness and also develop and grow in my practice.

I haven’t been the most social of people lately and still feel like I am coming out of some Thailand/travel wormhole.  I swear for the first few weeks I felt like I was walking on the wrong side of the planet, as if I was literally walking upside down and might topple over.

As for the “what’s next” portion of this journey… I have opened some new doors and am taking a look around. In the meantime I am paying attention and doing my best to make wise decisions.

But for now I am here, in the land of surprisingly strong winds and big skies.  In some ways feeling a little out of my element, a bit like a foreigner myself, but grateful for the time to ease into a new life of some sort… the shape and breadth of which still to be clarified and discovered.

Jet Lagged and Adjusting

28 Mar

It’s a quiet Monday morning in the heartland of the USA.  In the bleak early morning hours, it’s quiet and dark as life seems to be slowly slinking past the stillness of winter.  And I am… awake.  Or mostly awake as my days and nights are still quite mixed up.  After a few too many afternoon naps, indulging that irresistible call to mid-day jet lagged slumber… here I am when the world around me is just considering rising and I… have been awake for some time.

I arrived here yesterday to a snowy Easter morning after a week of respite and connection with friends in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was an easy stop via a direct flight on Korean Air direct from Chiang Mai to Seoul then Seoul to Atlanta.  I have spent this past week in that strange place of adjustment.  The undeniable feeling of familiarity being back in my home country mixed with the unmistakable shift that occurs with a year and half since my last visit to the States.  My world is a bit mixed up.  I am still altered by and present to the vibrant, crazy and colorful world of Chiang Mai.  Life on the left side of the road and my modest Thai speaking of “sawatdee ka’s” (hello)  and “kop kun ka’s” (thank you).  I’ve already surrendered most of my colorful Thai baht that had become a comfortable companion now replaced by American dollars which feel a bit… foreign… and sadly monochrome in my seasoned traveled hands.

But that said, I can’t deny a need and appreciation for the comforts of home.  That sinking feeling into the familiar that allows me to relax and rest just a little more deeply and easily than life internationally.  Such a life provides a fresh perspective and appreciative for the comforts of American life and my current respite in my family’s home.  The deep sink into the bountiful hot-tub with, yes, jet-action.  Grateful for the easy supply of organic groceries and food items, but admittedly still revelling in the sticker shock after a year of modest Thai income and mostly super-affordable cost of living.

I am returning once again as a familiar face, but undeniably impacted by my cumulative journey of the past five years… and more recently my 7 months in Vienna, Austria and subsequent year of teaching in Chiang Mai.  My body, mind and being are pleasantly shifted and expanded in ways that are most notable to me but perhaps less visible to the outside eye.

But here I am, altered and at home in the mid-west. I am still acutely aware of the daily and moment to moment echo of my most recent foreign adventure. My surprise at the grocery store when I speak English and am easily understood. My adjustment to getting into the passenger side on the right side of the car. And my general feeling of strangeness in the midst of “regular American life.” But also appreciating little things like loosening the grip on my passport now in the land where I am wholly and easily “allowed to be here.”

So here I am, feeling “newly arrived” and a little foreign myself back in the central USA.  I have a kaleidoscope of experiences that now make the world beyond the US a normal part of my considerations, view and landscape.

I am grateful for the allowance of some time for rest and adjustment. Reconnecting myself in the most basic ways with the people, land and world around me. I am of course considering and exploring what is next for me… beginning to reach out, connect and plant seeds and see what opens up and unfolds.

But for now I am awake, yet still sort of asleep in the groggy morning hours after a night of sleeplessness and strange productivity.  While the neighborhood and people around me just begin their day, I am jet lagged and adjusting back at home in the USA.

Featured image:  A slice of the vibrant artwork lining the pedestrian pathways of the Beltline in the heart of Atlanta.

The Final Days

19 Mar

Well, I did it!  I am officially complete with my year of teaching here in Thailand. Many good-byes have been said and there is packing to do.  My flight leaves Chiang Mai on Sunday and from there I am off to a new adventure.  The policies here in Thailand leave little wiggle room for departure.  My employer canceled our work visas this past week and from there we have just a few days to leave the country!  So, off I go.

In many ways it is a good time to leave.  March is the beginning of hot season in Thailand and temperatures are already up into the 100’s Fahrenheit where they will stay and exceed for months in the future.  And while I am told it is not bad this year, it is also the “smokey season” when farmers burn their fields and the city’s pollution is at a high.  But gratefully the mornings still leave a faint remembrance of the cooler season gone by with a few hour glimpse of refreshing breezes and temperatures.

So here I am in this strange time.  This time of packing, change and limbo.  At times it has created that rare pocket of space that feels like absolute freedom.  No commitments, no obligations… enjoying the open roads, freedom and blue skies of Thailand with no expectations to speak of.

Of course this time of transition and change doesn’t come without its tug and pull… being caught a bit in the birth canal of yet another new transition. Floundering between freedom and liberation and compulsion and fear.

I spent my Saturday morning on a as of recent regular outing to an outstanding Thai massage place in the rice fields just beyond the busy streets of Chiang Mai. While finding this place the first time was a bit traumatic… and required some emergency assistance…now that I know where I am going I love to go and appreciate the care I receive at a very reasonable cost.

On the way to Ban Muan Jai

On the Way to Ban Muan Jai

On the Way to Ban Muan Jai

On the Way to Ban Muan Jai

It is called Ban Muan Jai.  It is a modest, clean and friendly place run by a husband and wife both well-trained and experienced in Thai massage. This is the kind of place you go to not just for relaxation but to receive a treatment to tend to whatever is ailing your body.  It’s been a treat to travel there on the quiet roads just off the busy main way and to receive a long, attentive therapeutic massage.  Something I will miss once I leave Thailand.

Ban Muan Jai Massage

Ban Muan Jai Massage

And so here I am.  In the countdown.  In some ways this is a little bit of my favorite time.  Not too much to do except the final packing and taking the time to save this and discard that.  It seems this is somehow an important part of my transition process… having the time and space to slowly “un-nest” in a nesting sort of way.

I can imagine what might be ringing in your head… what’s next?  So what is next?  Well, I think it’s not time to tell just yet. But I will say that the feeling of late is that it’s time for a break and time for a rest.  Travel, while world opening, rich and transformational is also… stressful.  I have had a big ol’ wide heaping of life served up to me these last 5 years that has stretched and opened me up in countless ways…but I am wanting in one or another something different… for now.

And that said… we will see what happens!  I am the woman who started out on a 6 week trip to Germany and ended up in Thailand 5 years, 4 countries and 2 continents later.  And while I am wanting a feeling of stability for a bit, I also feel it’s important to be open and see what might unfold.

So hold tight for just a little bit.  I am on my way and will soon emerge in new territory and in one way or another will continue this journey that began 5 years ago by taking a leap and buying a plane ticket to Europe.  It may not look like international travel for a while.  But we’ll see what unfolds.

And in the meantime… I am grateful Chiang Mai.  I am grateful for your grit, color and beauty, for learning your ways, riding your streets, being opened up and challenged by your children, learning to laugh when I wanted to scowl and mostly for just being part of a wild world that allowed me to see a broader side of life, the world and myself.  Thank you!!