Showing posts with label 2011. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2011. Show all posts

La Mer

I've had a strange few weeks. I've jumped time zones as though the act of leaping across continents was as simple as a game of hop scotch. I've seen wonderful things and met people who are kind and inspiring. And in recent days I've also found my way back to the sea.

We are currently in Cha-am, Thailand, a little holiday place filled with mostly young Thai families who have come here to get out of the city and old Scandinavian people, many of whom probably spend months of their year here (at least it would appear so given the orange brown tint and leathery texture of their skin). It's not as pristine as the island resorts further south with their aqua marine water but it is relaxed and the sun shines and the people are mostly friendly. I've been interspersing sleeping and reading with trips down to play in the sea shore (which is right across the street from our guest house, we have a sea view). The water here isn't quite as warm as it was in Mexico, but it's pretty close. Over the past few days it's been a bit windy and we've spent our time jumping over waves, gasping and sputtering as we climb out with salty lips and tangled hair.

We're not sure how long we're going to stay down here. Tomorrow morning we're looking at a little condo that's available - slightly over our budget but we're desperate to settle down in a place with a kitchen and some privacy. Neither of us have felt like we've really been anywhere long enough to unpack since Laos. I would love to not have to eat out for the next week and there's a Tesco Lotus in a nearby town where we can stock up on everything we want. Dan even found Branston Pickle today, albeit for more than we would pay for it in the UK.

The alternative to staying here for another week is heading North to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, which both sound like lovely, easy places but with no sea. I imagine them to be a more modern version of Laos.

I arrived in Bangkok only a few days ago after my 48 hour jaunt to California. My interview was such a good experience and everyone was so genuinely kind and clever. If the Visa gods smile down on me, I would be a fool to not seize the opportunity to do such interesting work at such a great company. Time will tell.

The above picture of me was taken by Dan when we were in Versailles, France in February 2009. I stumbled upon it in an old folder today and couldn't help but look at that girl and wonder a bit who she was. When I was in Vancouver this past summer, I read Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking and as I reflect back on this year of flux, reinvention, growth and change, I can't help but feel like I've been afforded this wonderful slot of time in which I've been able to re-imagine my life, my professional practice, my passions, my art. And although I didn't have to suffer the kind of horrible loss that sparked Didion's year of magical thinking, the experience of travel is also one of always leaving something behind: a shoe, a book, an elastic band ... and along with these things, the sadness inherent in the realization that nothing will ever be exactly the same again. Laos will never feel like it did those few beautiful weeks in December, just like Versailles will never be the same crisp, colorful place it was during that beautiful and delicate weekend in February 2009 - and I'll never be the same either.

I used to cry about this on birthdays when I was a kid. I would have a wonderful day and then get into bed and sob for the year that was gone and that would never be again. And my god, when they play that horrible Auld Lang Sine song at New Years it slays me; and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland. All songs about time and loss woven into our precious celebratory moments to remind us that the time is slipping by far more quickly than we can possible realize.

But the sea feels constant and restorative and the daily act of allowing it to toss us around makes waiting for the next change much, much easier. It's like an hour glass, slowly washing everything clean.

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Welcome to 2011

It's  beautiful, sunny New Years day in Luang Prabang, Laos. Yesterday we ended the year with a 34 kilometer bike ride (up mountains) that almost finished us off, a stop in a hill tribe village to take polaroids of the kids and leave them as gifts (they were amazed!), a wander through some of the most beautiful waterfalls I've ever seen, a visit to an Asiatic bear sanctuary, a lovely meal, watching dozens of handmade paper lanterns float up into the night sky, and a count down at the stunningly beautiful local bar Utopia. It was pretty much the most perfect way to end the year and I couldn't have dreamed up anything better.

We stumbled home along the river, slightly tipsy and a little bit achey from our bike ride, but happily calling out "Sabaidee Pi Mai", which means happy new years in Laotian, to passersby and settled into our little room for a long sleep. This morning I was briefly woken up by the resident rooster and then again around 9 am by the sound of monks chanting across the street. Then a nice brunch next to the river.

Dan and I have discussed resolutions a lot this New Years and I think I've narrowed mine down to a few basic shifts in behavior that can mostly be boiled down to mindfulness:

  • I want to eat less meat and when I do eat it, I want to be more conscious of what it is I'm consuming. I love animals and in a country like Laos, where water buffalo wander out into the street, and chickens are part of the community, it's much harder to divorce what I'm eating from the idea of a living, breathing animal. I just want to be more responsible and aware of what I'm putting into my body and the impact that has on the world. 
  • No more pop for me. It's bad and filled with nasty chemicals and I don't need it in my body. 
  • I want to do a better job of letting things go and spend less of my time dwelling on people and things that make me unhappy. There are so many wonderful things in the world - I don't want to waste any more time on negativity or on trying to work out the motivations of other people. I would like to master the art of throwing up my hands and walking away (in a good way). 
  • I want to do a better job of really committing to my creative writing practice. Setting tangible goals seems like an important things to do so here's mine: 5,000 words a week creative writing. Doesn't matter what it is, doesn't matter if it's any good, what matters is that I put in the time. 
  • Be more mindful of how I'm spending my time and do a better job of setting hard daily goals so that I spend less time floating around the internet without any direction. 
  • Move my body more. The bike ride yesterday was hard and I don't know that I'll be doing 30+ km uphill on a regular basis, but it felt good to by physically active. I want to spend more time walking, swimming, biking ... I don't want exercise to be something I need to go to a gym to do, but something that is just part of how I live my life. When I see the kids running around here playing, I'm reminded that our natural state is to move through the world and to take pleasure in doing it. I want to remember what it's like to enjoy my physicality. 
  • Career wise, I want to keep moving forward, keep feeling excited and inspired by what I'm doing and continue to surround myself with passionate, creative people. We started Contentini: Content Strategists this year and it's been more successful than I could have imagined (thanks clients!). I've done a lot of thinking and writing about web content - something I'm passionate about - and have had some great responses. The idea of content strategy as a professional focus is still relatively new and I am beyond excited to see how it evolves over the next year and how my own practice will change with it. 
I hope you all had a peaceful and joyous New Years and that you're as excited for the year ahead as I am. We've got another few days in this country that I've fallen completely in love with and on January 3rd we fly to Hanoi, Vietnam. I will be sad to leave Laos and I'm always a little nervous when visiting a new country but really, I couldn't be in a better place to enter 2011. 


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