European Christmas Scenes….

Some photos of our recent travels.  One of the draws of coming to Europe at this time of year is the wonderful christmas “vibe” everywhere.  So different from our last Christmas in Kuala Lumpur which, while affected, was special and beautiful in its own way.  Still, there is something very lovely about the snow and the markets and all the HUGE “tannenbaums”.  

The year is drawing to an end, the world did not end yet and we are going to have to make our onward plans very soon! We only have thirteen more nights in our little Berlin flat, with no onward plans.  This last minute type of travel that we’ve been doing the past couple of years has taught me a lot and still gives me a sense of uneasiness at times.  I am learning that everything does usually work out in the end and whatever happens is a part of the great adventure. 

Although I don’t know how I feel about New Years’ Resolutions, I do feel that January 1st is a good as time as any for a fresh start and a new beginning.  I have my own such “resolutions” and I have been thinking a lot about the New Year given that it’s going to mean so many new experiences for us.

We have more or less resolved to not head back home and instead settle abroad for a while.  This prospect is exciting and nerve wracking.  As much as we’d love to settle in the EU, it doesn’t look like now is our time.  The job market is saturated, the economy is not at its best and it’s quite competitive.  We are likely Asia-bound and probably back to Japan.  I will elaborate more about our thoughts on this in a future post. 

For now, I hope all of you are well, safe and happy.  Enjoy the holidays!

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Packing up and Leaving Again: Zen and the Art of the Unconvential Lifestyle…

                   Source: onextrapixel.com via Jose Ernesto on Pinterest

Well, it’s packing up time again here.  Sorry about the extra small font by the way.  It always does this after I post a Pinterest photo because it’s copying the font of that “source” link above, and I’m not WordPress-savvy-enough to figure out how to fix it.  Just thought I would give a quick update on what’s going on here.  We have less than a week left before we leave the country and it’s snowing like crazy.  10cm due today and more coming tomorrow.  I can’t help but worry a bit that my flight going out could be delayed.  But I guess there is no point in worrying about what I can’t control.  Anyway, as I’ve mentioned in a few forums before, I’m slightly stressing about the size of my backpack.  I’m dealing with a much smaller bag than I used to travel with and it is the same backpack I took to SE Asia.  Difference being, when I left for SE Asia, I needed SMALL things: tank tops, bathing suits, t-shirts etc.  Now I’m heading into countries experiencing winter and I need all my heavy, winter clothes.  Someone suggested to me just fitting what I can, and buying sweaters second-hand as I need them.  That might be the right idea.  I’m getting very excited to leave, but also very nervous.  I remember being this way before the last trip, so I know it’s normal.  The fear of the unknown.  The indeterminate travel time.  The not really knowing where we will end up.  This is the fun stuff we sign up for and we do it because we love the freedom, but I always need practice embracing the uncertainty.  I’m working on this.  This requires a lot of BREATHING.  A lot of LETTING GO. I’ve spent a lot of time during the past week,  trying to justify to other people my lifestyle choices, which is always annoying because no one can understand why we do the things we do.  We’re mid-thirties, no mortgage, no kids, no assets and everything is in boxes, pretty much.  We’ve spent the better 1/3 of the last ten years abroad and we prefer it that way.  We are happy with the way we live our lives but it makes other people uneasy and makes other people question their choices and makes them get defensive.  I met a perfect stranger on Saturday who gave me the typical, “Must be nice…” when I told her we’ve only been back in the country since May and we’re leaving again.  I immediately reacted, in my mind, defensively, and then I tried to tell myself that she didn’t mean to sound ignorant, but she’s jealous.  To these people, I try to respond in a manner than makes them see my life from a different perspective.  Yes, it is nice.  It is very nice to live my life of relative freedom and to not be tied down to a house or children.  But this came about by a series of choices and sacrifices.  These choices and sacrifices are the same choices and sacrifices and RISK that are out there and available to any person.  I did not come from a wealthy background.  I do not have a lot of money.  I am not “lucky” as some people like to tell me.  I DO NOT have some of the things that you have.  These are some of the things you CHOSE to have.  I CHOSE to have other things.  One day I will CHOOSE to have other or different things.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, or if you know me personally, you will know my life is not stress free, or without worries or challenges as some people seem to think.  Backpacking is not the same as resort travel.  Sometimes it’s hard.  Sometimes it’s tiring and there are bedbugs and missed buses and delays and waits.  But I love my choices overall.  I love my husband that I get to share these beautiful and amazing experiences with.  And I am not going to apologize for them.  I am trying to learn to meet criticism with kindness.  To realize that when people criticize my life, it is coming from a place of fear and misunderstanding and a longing they have inside them.  I am working on my compassion.  So I hope I don’t sound too cold.  I understand that some people’s choices may come across to them as accidents, or being pushed in a corner, or that some people feel they may have limited choices in their life.  That’s a conversation for another time I think.  I know what these feelings are.
I have learned, in my limited experience that we are capable of more than we might think and that choices are there that we may not see and that no one is going to make them for you, or rescue you, or help you.  I believe less in luck (although I do believe in chance and opportunity!) and more of making the best of the situations that you have.  This might not mean traveling, but escaping and embracing change in the small ways you can, in your house, with your children.  Starting a home business.  Doing something creative.  Making something, taking a class.  Reading.  Growing something.  We have this latent need to stretch and grow within us.  It’s up to us how we feed that. See y’all in a different time zone.  xo

Back in Kuala Lumpur…

Petronas Towers-Kuala LumpurPetronas Towers-KL

Back in Kuala Lumpur now after being in Cherating for probably around ten days.  We decided to make the trip back to the city so we could have a Xmas dinner that didn’t consist of rice and noodles (I know, we are so spoiled).  Doubly spoiled actually because we were welcomed by a surprise email from M’s aunt telling us to go out for a Xmas meal on her and she would pay us back! Very excited, we arrived back in KL at about 6pm on the 25th, checked back into our regular guesthouse and went to the Marriott as I had previously heard they were having a buffet Xmas dinner.  Buffets are always better for us since we don’t eat turkey.  There are usually a lot of options compared to a meat based set meal that is wasted in us.  Not surprisingly, the Marriott was all booked up, so we went across the street to the very grand looking Grand Millennium.  We had a huge buffet meal for about $30/person including dessert buffet that had more than enough options for the fish-eating semi vegetarians we are.  Although I have decided to give up most seafood once we are done travelling, I have to say, the oysters on the half shell and the sashimi were exceptional.

Bungalow in CheratingBungalow in Cherating

We are now working out our next move, but we will most likely stay in KL for NYE and then either go back to Cherating (we’ve made a good friend and M is hooked on surfing) and then head to Singapore for a few days before flying out to Bali, or go directly from KL to Singapore. 

Kampung Baru-Kuala LumpurKampung Baru-Kuala Lumpur

I’ve finally figured out how to compress photos on Iphoto so I have uploaded some more onto flickr.  Since I was having such a problem uploading them before (20 photos would take about an hour and a half on the public or paid computers here), I have become a bit discouraged with both taking photos and uploading them.  Now that I’ve figured this out, you should be seeing some more, and I will try to make my posts not so text heavy as I know that can be super boring!

Hoping all of you had a warm and happy Xmas and a fantastic new year.  I am thinking a bit about “resolutions” if you want to call them that.  I know a lot of people are anti New Years resolution, using the argument that you do not need a certain date to start something new etc.  While I totally agree with this, I do like Chris Guillebeau’s perspective.  He uses the end of year and the one coming up to reflect on past goals, set new ones for the future and examine what went right in the past year and what went wrong.  I think everyone could use an annual review and I will be working on my own.  Pretty difficult given my current transient state and not having any idea where I will be next week, let alone the next year, but no matter where I am, I believe personal goals can be set that will involve a more internal management.  What do you think? Happy New Year to my few but growing readership!

xo

Sarah Susankah-The Not So Big Life

Just finished a great book that I admittedly plowed through for an online book club I have been following.  The book came complete with exercises and some big questions, to really get your brain going but I haven’t had the time to get to those yet, so I think I’m going to have to purchase this one. I had a lot of what the author calls “Aha” moments while reading, but one quote stuck out for me in particular that I thought I would share here:

Once you make the unequivocal internal commitment to do something-when you absolutely know this is the time and place to act-the world around you will shift in all sorts of apparently miraculous ways to make it happen.  But they’re not really miracles.  This is the fluid nature of both life and consciousness.  When your intentions are clear, events move to support them and to expand the ripple effect of your efforts. 

(Sarah Susanka-The Not so Big Life)

Okay, it’s a bit hippy dippy, but it resonated with me as I am entering a new phase of my life, taking new risks and willing things to happen.  I don’t entirely know which path this next phase of my life will take me-but I do know that because I am getting out there and opening myself up to opportunity, I am inviting change and new circumstances, something I feel I was previously closed to out of fear of change, the fear of taking big risks or the fear of failure.  I have finally learned that “the worst that can happen” is not enough to make me stagnate and I have found that this new shift in view has opened the world up so much more.  It’s a nice perspective and I am excited about the future!

xoxo

Wow, my very first blog post.  After much obsessing over WordPress themes and thinking about what direction I would like my blog to go in, I think I’ve decided that the best thing to do is to just jump in and start! My intent with this blog is to share with others my thoughts and ideas on making a happy life through meaningful daily observations, life appreciation, food, travel and spirituality.  There are already so many blogs out there set up as one’s personal diary full of rants and negativity.  I think that’s great actually because it helps one to get it out of their system and a lot of people feel better after they write down their negative thoughts and emotions.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m not some blissed out hippy who is living in this imaginary la la land where everything is fantastic.  But for me, I want this blog to be a place of pretty things-peaceful and positive-with the hopes that like generates like and to perpetuate the upward spiral as Eoin Finn puts it.  Thank you to all readers and for all comments!