Summertime in Canada and My Blogging Hiatus…

Hello my blogging lovelies! I am not going to be one of those people that constantly apologizes for their absence and then does the same thing over again (or maybe I’m already that person, I don’t know!) but it’s been quite the emotional journey to get me to the point where I feel like writing anything here, again.  Actually, I had been thinking of it for a while, and I was so touched by a fellow blogger and followers question, asking me if I was okay because I haven’t posted for a few months! It’s true-I haven’t and I guess I felt like I just needed a bit of a hiatus.  Coming back to Canada for me this time, has been quite a challenge and I finally feel like I’m at a point where I feel a bit more settled, emotionally speaking.  (I know, I know #firstworldproblems, right?) And I guess that’s another reason why I felt it so difficult to write anything.  Sometimes, I have a problem with this blog because I feel like talking about myself and what is going on with me can sound so trite and petty, or self-congratulatory and, well, just plain lame.  Like, really, who cares, right? But I do have to admit there is a certain catharsis to getting it all down on digital paper and sharing it with the people who do follow me.  Sometimes it just helps me organize my thoughts, and stay positive and present.

So, why was coming back such a problem? I don’t know.  I guess it was because it was rather sudden and unexpected.  We were just starting to get settled in Tokyo, meet new friends at our guesthouse and I was just getting used to my job.  We didn’t really want to come back to Canada for a long while and we certainly didn’t want to come back and work for the parents’ biz again.  We, quite admittedly, are too old to be staying with them for such extended periods of time, and as sweet and kind as they are, it always presents a series of challenges.  We love our independence and become quite used to it, since we spend a great portion of our year, out in the big wide world, far away from anyone familiar, other than each other.  We get quite used to it just being the two of us and we get into the routines that are associated with that.  For me, sharing a kitchen and any sort of creative space is quite difficult here.  Coming back here, this time was different.  Gone was all the previous excitement and anticipation I had for all the spare time I would have to work on creative ventures.  In a sense, I had lost all ambition for writing anything here, or designing or making anything for my Etsy shop or anything like that.  Everything felt futile and I felt like I really couldn’t be bothered to drag it all out and pack it all up each time I wanted to do something.  I really didn’t feel like doing anything.  After a while of feeling quite depressed about this, I decided just to accept it, and relax with it a bit and not put any further pressure on myself.  I resolved not to do anything creative for the summer if I didn’t feel like it.  This included taking photos.  I really didn’t feel like doing any of this stuff.  Even cooking lost it’s flavour.  I guess it sounds like I was actually quite depressed.  I started worrying about the indeterminable future.  About why we were doing what we were doing and if we were screwing up our lives and if we were making big mistakes.  This was all coupled with a lot of stress surrounding some health issues I’ve been having…

Finally, after about two months after arriving, I started feeling a bit better.  And then a lot better.  Things started happening for me creatively.  A local shop wanted to carry some of my items on consignment, so I pulled my stuff from Etsy and decided to go exclusive with them.  This eliminated the annoyance I had around selling my stuff online, which was, mainly, that I had no way to promote my stuff and it was very difficult to get new viewers with something as massive at Etsy.  Now my things are on consignment, in a small, beautiful, local store filled with my more amazing and talented artists than myself and this has been humbling and inspiring.  It has given me some ambition to make more.

I am practicing learning how to relax and be present and not worry about the future or what we will do in the fall, this time.  We have lots of ideas but it will depend on our savings and what they will allow.  We are also considering what our plans are AFTER this next winter, which has added some extra pressure, since before, we just assumed we would come back here if all else fails.  I’d really rather not do that, like REALLY, although I am grateful, always, for the option.  I now don’t feel as worried about our choices and options, particularly when I look at other people around me that are doing things more traditional and more “organized” with their lives and I always feel these things are not necessarily for us, or attractive.  Kids, mortgage, etc.  Unconventional, yes, but I’ve never regretted the choices we have made regarding these issues, even though I am happy for my friends and family that are following these paths.  I do not know too many people that have financial stability or overwhelming blissful levels of happiness, so I think we are doing okay.

Regarding my health issues-this is something that continues to worry me, and I suppose I am just going to have to keep telling myself that worrying isn’t going to change anything.  In fact, it will probably just make things worse.  To make a long story short, I had a neurological attack of sorts in April, while in Tokyo, that has symptoms which are now pointing towards Trigeminal Neuralgia.  Known to be one of the most painful conditions a human can experience, I am not particularly excited about this (potential) diagnosis and I am further distressed by the fact that this condition can be a warning sign of Multiple Sclerosis.  Other symptoms I have been experiencing lately, have only served to deepen this concern, although my doctor assured me that it is not necessarily a link to MS and can be it’s own condition on it’s own, with no other problems associated.  I have a neurologist appointment next week and then I’m assuming, an MRI would be the next course of action.  Again, I realize stress and worry does nothing to help this issue and I don’t know how much of these symptoms I’m experiencing are just things I’m noticing because they are on the list of MS symptoms and I’m over associating, or what.  Trying hard not to be neurotic and annoying.

Lack of personal space here means my spiritual practice is currently virtually non existent.  This has been a great contribution for me, I feel, for the levels of angst and depression I’ve had over the past few months.  I’m still working on how to manage this problem as best I can given the tools I am currently working with, while also lowering my expectations on myself, which I am always, in any regard, struggling to meet.  I am my worst enemy and my greatest critic.

So, spending a lot of time trying to relax with myself, accept things as they are now, and enjoy the present.  I am always excited about our unconventional and indeterminable future and there is always a lot of potential there.  In so many ways, the world is always our oyster and things always have a way of working out, to sound cliche.  I am going to spend more time now, taking photos, enjoying the little things, taking time for myself to relax and taking each day as it comes, since that’s truly the only true thing I have right now, is just today. 

Believe it or not, despite the long-windedness of this post, it’s actually quite the summary of a bunch of other little sub-topics that I’ve tried to wrap up as best as possible into something resembling a few clear thoughts.  There have been other struggles and other good things and a lot of ups and downs that have made up the past few months but what I’ve taken from it all is what I always am working on which is to be present and RELAX! Oh, and any advice is always appreciated in this regard.  I am, after all, a work in progress.  Thank you all for sticking with me.

xo

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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? Seriously?

                                                                Source: trekearth.com via anna on Pinterest


Hey guys! Been a while since I’ve had a chance to post and I apologize for that.  It’s been a wild and stressful past week but it’s mellowing out now I think/hope.  I’m not sure where we left off so I’ll just give you all a little update on what we’ve been up to the past while:

  • Went back to Bangkok from Chiang Mai and picked up M’s new passport, no problemos.
  • The next day we headed out to Thai immigration to attempt to extend our Thai visa.  By this point it was probably March 27th or so and our visa expired on the 1st of April.  
  • Getting to immigration was an all day affair, pretty much.  We had been there before, but the directions we looked up didn’t look to familiar.  It was, however, around the same area as the Canadian embassy so we’d a vague idea, but it turned out it was about a thirty minute walk from the nearest Skytrain station in about 37c heat.
  • When we finally found immigration, after having to ask a few people for directions, we found out that they moved their offices, despite the information on their website.  The office we had previously visited on a past trip now only services Burmese, Cambodian and Laotian applicants.  We felt defeated and it was too late to go find the new office. The map we were given was all in Thai.
  • The next day, probably the 28th by now we set off to look for the new Immigration office.  For whatever reason, they decided to very inconveniently locate the building in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE in an industrial complex out by Don Mueng airport.  Inaccessible by public transit, we had the option to take the skytrain to the end of the line and then taxi it, or take a local mini van service that Thai’s use.  We opted for the mini van service.
  • Rode the mini van till the end of the line, having no idea where to get off, no one to ask and no communication with the driver.  Realized we were lost when everyone else got out and we were at the end of the road.  Tried to get our point across the driver.  He took us to his depot and walked us to the road where we got another mini van going the other direction (back the way we came).  We finally got to the industrial complex and from there it was about another 1.1km walk (according to a sign we passed).  We were seriously in the middle of nowhere.
  • Found the building, and by the time we got there, the office was closed for lunch.  Yahoo.
  • We used the lunch break to fill out forms, glue photos and get everything ready.
  • Office finally opened and we went through a series of desks while they checked our documents until we finally got a queue number to meet with an immigration officer.
  • Number got called.  We were quickly shut down and told that we had no visa to extend, that what we have is an entry stamp and not a visa and that we could either pay to have a 7 day extension, or leave the country and re-enter to get another 30 days.
  • I’ll point out now, again, that it was either the 28th or 29th and we had about 2 days to figure out what the heck we were going to do next.  Rookie mistake thinking we had a visa.  So stupid, considering we’ve actually had a formal Thai visa before, but regardless of what we thought we had, we still thought that you could get an extension.  Anyhoo.  No.  Defeated we took a cab back to the Skytrain station and headed back.
  • During all of this drama, we also formally decided to go back to Saskatchewan for another summer of working with M’s parents.  This meant that we had to cancel our return ticket which we did before we actually found out we couldn’t stay in Thailand.  While we could postpone our BKK-SEOUL portion of our ticket till May 5th no problem, there were currently no available seats in May to get us from SEOUL-YVR.  We had a few options.  Well, I should say, we currently have few options.  We are on two different waiting lists for different dates, or we can reroute our ticket to put us in LAX for a layover before going to YVR.  (Nightmare of an option-have you been to LAX? They’re scary…I can’t imagine what they’d do to us after being away in SEA for 6 months).  Anyway.  Changing our ticket date costs nothing as we had an open ticket.  But upgrading, rerouting and whatnot so that we can have a layover in SEOUL again costs quite a bit.  Not as much as buying a whole separate ticket from SEOUL to YVR which is also another option we are looking at.  So anyway, point being, we planned all of this out as best we could before we found out that we would have to leave Thailand in two days and fly elsewhere.  Cha-ching!  And we still don’t have a ticket home.
  • Surprisingly, despite the level of stress we were going through at this point, we kept fairly level-headed.  We just said aloud that this is the way it was, and there was nothing we could do about it, so we best just find a ticket somewhere.  And that’s where KL came in.
  • We thought about flying to Laos since it was one place we had planned on going on this trip and changed our mind. But we decided against it for reasons that are a whole other long-winded post.
  • KL was one of the cheapest return flights (for some reason flying return with Egypt Air was cheaper than flying with Air Asia-totally bizarre).  We booked the flight and now here we are back in familiar KL in our familiar guesthouse.  
I never thought we’d go back to KL on this trip.  We spent WAAAAAY too much time and money here earlier on in our trip, including Xmas and New Years.  But we’ve decided to quit our whingeing.  There are far worse things than having to spend a few days in KL.  It’s a nice break of modernity after travelling in rougher places.  Our guesthouse is nice and clean and has air conditioning and its cooler here than Bangkok right now and it’s been raining every day since we’ve been here.  I can’t believe I’ve missed the humidity and rain! Thailand feels quite dry and hot now and it’s at least 4 or 5c cooler here now.  Malaysian food is great.  I’ve had laksa twice so far, Indian food for dinner yesterday and super cheap.  Our room is definitely more expensive than Thailand or Vietnam but the food is cheap so maybe it balances out somewhere…at any rate, here is where we are now.  
As for going back “home” I have mixed feelings.  I am not a die-hard living in Canada fan as you probably all know by now if you read my blog at all.  I am very fortunate to have been born in the first world and I am very lucky to come from Canada in many ways.  But I do have my problems with it.  Right now our relationship is classified “complicated”.  Me and Canada. 
A part of us really wanted to go to Japan.  I feel sad that I’m missing my favourite time of year in Japan right now and that the cherry blossoms are starting to bloom.  (I’ve also been told that cherry blossoms are blooming in Vancouver right now and they are soo beautiful there as well, but there is something to be sad for public drinking parties under the arches of the blossoms while you sit in your T-shirt, while Vancouver is raining all the time and VERY strict against public…well public anything, pretty much).  But we have come to the conclusion that in order to accomplish our 1 year goals we have going on, going back to Canada is pretty much the best idea for us right now.  M has writing deadlines he wants to have time for and I have an online business to launch.  And Japan will still be there next year. 
My long-term goal has always been to have a cafe and a shop/art space.  Since we have no plans to “settle down” anywhere long enough to set up something like that I have been working on ideas that allow me to travel and do what I love, which is to make “things”.  I plan to set up a proper website in the coming year with e-shop (and continue my blog of course!), branching into local retail when and where I can.  This gives me the space to build up my long-term goal slowly, while also being able to purchase and source things on my travels.  Huuuuge learning curve for me.  I know nothing about web design.  At all.  I have to hire someone for this.  I have a lot of ideas for what I want it to look like, but conveying those to someone who can bring my ideas to fruition while not financially ruining me is going to be tricky! But definitely doable.  It’s exciting! So I’ll probably continue with my Etsy shop and add things as I go along, while working on this side project of the website, while also working with M’s parents, helping them out with their Kettle Korn business.  Then we have some loose plans to travel again in the fall (to Europe), return for Xmas and then maybe go to Japan or?? We’ve decided it’s too hard to plan too far ahead.  So right now we set smaller, manageable goals.  
Sorry for the long-winded, no photo post! Not sure how many of you kept up till the end there, but I appreciate all of my readers who have been following my journey.  I have gained so many Twitter followers lately too and I love all of you! (except the spammers!! Grr!!)
 
Oh! One last thing regarding the Sharon Salzberg/Tranquility du Jour book club and my 28 day meditation challenge.  I suppose being that it’s April, I’m “done”.  But the journey for this is just beginning.  I admittedly fell off the meditation wagon a little bit during that last week.  The time that I needed to calm down the most (see above chaos) and I barely had the time to sit still at all! But I’m back on the horse this week, sitting on my pillow, on the floor of my guesthouse room.  It feels good.  My brain is no more calm really.  But I know it’s doing me good, I can feel it during the day.  Unfortunately it didn’t really seem like the book club group took off for this book for some reason and I haven’t been able to post anything else on the comments for the club either, and no one else has either.  So I never knew if that was just because of the shitty Thai internet cafes or if there was some kind of problem with the site.  Really? No readers or commenters? It’s kind of weird! As well, there is no book club selection up for April, so I don’t know if the book club kinda petered out or what.  I hope not! 
Anyway, no idea what we are going to do in KL for the next few days but I plan on catching up on some writing and relaxing a bit after the last week.  Then, if they let us back into Thailand, we’re hoping to head to a beach ASAP.  If we’re going back home, we really ought to get as much beach time in as possible.  We actually spent most of this trip in big cities and hardly any of it on a beach so we’re really looking forward to it.  As well, Songkran is coming, which is Thailand’s New Year’s festival and it’s sure to be mental.  It involves water fights, everywhere, which means I probably won’t get too many photos of it as the camera will be secure in a plastic bag wherever we end up! 
Thanks for reading and thanks again for following me here and on Twitter! It really means a lot to me that I have this community of regular readers all over the world that I haven’t even met! I hope we get to meet someday! 
xoxoxox

Sharon Salzberg and my 28 day meditation-a-thon…

As for my daily sitting practice, I’m still plodding along although not yet daily.  My brain is just as scattered but I do get the odd moment of stillness.  What the biggest change has been so far, that I can only attribute to meditation are the moments of mindfulness that I’m having during my day, not during meditation. 

One big change is I’m finding myelf being more conscious of small moments and noticing them more and I’m trying to a more mindful eater as well.  I sually read when I eat which totally takes away from the conscious act of eating.  If I’m reading something, I’m not really even aware of what I’m eating which is strange for someone like me who likes food as much as I do!  So I’m going to try to focus on the act of eating more and have more moments of JUST eating.  I’m also finding (and this is so early stages so don’t get too excited!) that I’m having a slight amount of more consciousness in my reactions to things, which in particular is affecting my sometimes tendancy towards reactionary speech.  Again, early stages, but sometimes when I feel myself getting riled up about something or getting agitated with M which may lead to an bickering or an argument, I’ve been able to pull back, not say anything and notice how I’m feeling.  I’ve been able to say to myself: “Okay, this is obviously pissing you off-why is that, etc.” Usually it’s not about what we are talking about at all.  Sometimes I am grumpy for some totally other reason! Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is because of something he has said (hah hah!) but I can sometimes choose my reaction if I remain conscious of the feelings I”m having.  Okay, that’s a lot of “sometimes” but I want to make clear that this is the very beginnings of a seed of something and I’m not claiming to have the answer to all or anything like that!

But anyway, it’s fantastic! It’s like free therapy! I find myself highlighting many passages in her book which I’m sure I’ll come back to later.  I don’t always have the time for a 20 minute sit but sometimes I’ll just take advantage of some moments during the day. 

Sharon Salzberg and the 28 day Meditation Challenge (getting your ass on the cushion!)

                                                                                                                                                Source: vi.sualize.us via Chandi on Pinterest

 
It’s now the weekend and we have no choice but to wait until Monday to work on M’s passport application which means we can’t go to Chiang Mai yet.  Further to that, we need M’s parents to send a scan of his birth certificate from the passport office back home and they won’t do that until there is a case number, which we can’t get until Monday!
We are definitely moving into Southeast Asia’s hot and dry season.  I can’t remember the last time it’s rained although I was woken up by thunder this morning.  It’s becoming quite difficult the past couple of days to just do our daily wandering around where we stay outside for the whole day.  Either that, or we’ve become slightly de-acclimitized from our time in Vietnam having air-con all the time.  Now we have fan only and no hot water in the most basic of rooms for 290B.  At night, there is a slight breeze so we must keep our curtain open till daylight or you can’t get any of it.  Since one must sleep completely ‘au naturel’, I only hope that while I’m asleep, someone doesn’t check in across the way, but I’m usually too hot to care: “Meh, they’ll be European-they’ve seen boobies before!”

                                                                                                                                                    Source: google.com via Christie on Pinterest

Anyway, ahem…a little over one week ago I responded to a Tweet by Kimberly Wilson of fabulous Tranquility du Jour fame, calling out for book club suggestions.  While travelling, I haven’t always been able to get my hands on her book club selections so I’m not always “present” but I love the idea of an online book club-great for people who travel and I love that it brings people from all over the world together for a common purpose!  Admittedly, I also like it because, believe it or not, I’m a bit of an introvert and public speaking (even if a book club circle) is nerve-wracking for me! (I’m aiming to conquer this within the next five years-Toastmasters or something…)  So I was thrilled when Kimberly Wilson chose my suggestion for Sharon Salzberg’s book “Real Happiness“, her 28-day meditation “training manual”.  A follower of Sharon Salzberg for a while, keeping tabs on her Twitter and website and whatnot, I have been travelling with this book on my Kindle for a while now and I have yet, despite several attempts, been able to get past the one week mark.  I thought that having this book as a club selection, I would be presented with a bit more accountability.  I began March 2nd and I am officially past the one week mark.  Yay me!
I don’t want to make it sound like meditation is a chore but I do believe it is definitely something you must practice to the point of habit in order to make it stick or see any results.  This book is not my first foray into meditation.  I’ve been interested in Buddhism since high school or so.  My early interest in alternative philosophies and religions at the age of 14 or 15 or so lead me to Wicca and occult type books (my mom had a Wiccan friend that lent me some books and my mom had a pretty wide library herself!)  It was from my Mom and Dad’s book collection that I then read Carlos Castenada and from there, because of my love of Beat literature, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, the Beatles, TM which finally lead me to seek out Buddhism.
By university, I was using most of my elective courses for philosophy and eastern religion, delving into Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam philosophy as well as a bit of art and architecture of Asia and the Middle East.  By this time I was also attending the odd day-long meditation retreat and lectures by prominent Buddhists (Tenzin Palmo!) and I then discovered Pema Chodron and devoured all her books.  So I have read a lot on the subject, but through the course of all of this, I have learned that it all amounts to nothing if your ass is not on that cushion! I have since had breakthrough moments on the cushion, usually in day long retreats where I’ve sat there long enough to finally ease the incessant chatter in my brain.  At home, before leaving for travel, I was, on occasion, getting up before work 30 minutes earlier for a pre-work sit.  But travelling has presented itself with a new list of challenges that has thus far, prevented me from getting a daily habit down. 

                                                                                                                                                     Source: kweeper.com via Mary on Pinterest

 
However, for me, I also realize that no excuse is good enough and it’s precisely these challenges that make a daily practice worthwhile and now a perfect time to really get into it! These excuses include such things as: not much alone time (M and I sharing one room in a hotel or guesthouse) so I’ve been meditating when he is sleeping in the morning or when he is having breakfast.  the heat (oooh! the HEAT! ) Such a lame excuse seeing as this whole thing started in Asia-land of oppressive heat, before the time of electric fans!, our ever-changing locale (all the better to overcome since peace comes from within, right?)
Anyway, so here goes nothing again! I will be doing my best to check in weekly to let you know all of my observations and any progress.  In the first week, my mind has been all over the place.  I probably got about four “sits” accomplished but my first couple were 15 minutes, not 20 as the book suggests.  After the first couple of times, I realized I needed at least 20 minutes to get those moments of stillness, so I upped it.  Such topics in my money mind this week have included:  my mom, friends, the plane journey I had to take that day, M, crafts, design ideas, my blog, breakfast, etc., etc., etc…
Practicality wise, I usually sit on the bed these days but I do find that a pillow just under my tailbone works best so my knees are lower than my spine.  Otherwise my back gets tired and I start to slouch.  Counting my breath has been extremely useful when I can’t otherwise  focus, as is labelling my thoughts as “thinking” when I need to pop the thought bubbles!
So I accept all of this as being totally normal progress and I look forward to more sitting this week with the hopes of even better results! I’m a work in progress! I would love to hear other ‘learning to meditate’ experiences with this book.  Head over to Kimberly Wilson’s website to check out her book club, there is always a great book recommended there each month, usually on the subject of yoga and well-being. 
Thanks for reading!

Photo update…

Hey beautiful readers! We are back in Bangkok for the gazillionth time going through bureaucratic hell as we try to replace M’s expiring passport.  Gotta love doing that stuff while travelling, and it’s our second time doing it! So we are here for now, sorting it all out.  A longer post is imminent as I plan to talk about my 28-day Sharon Salzberg Meditation Challenge! But not now.  The internet cafe is going to close soon…

As promised here are some recent photos from our time in Dalat, Vietnam including pics of aforementioned Crazy House!  Note the beautiful architecture.  Is it Europe? Is it Vietnam? It’s Dalat!!

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Check out more at my Flickr account here!

snowy sunday.

Things i am loving:

-The Betsey Johnson window that i pass on my way to work.  I have yet to be able to afford anything from this store, nor do I currently have anywhere to where a magenta tutu but somehow just walking by the window in the morning and seeing the display makes me happy.  There is just so much crinoline, floral goodness going on in there, and a perfect mix of frilly girly meets hard rock badass.  I’m in love. Oh, and I dare you to look at this polka dot bathing suit and not want it. You are welcome to buy it for me 😛

Weekly inspiration:

This weekend I am full of inspiration-which isn’t always the case with me! I find this time of the year particularly energy sucking, especially when I am living on the West Coast. However, a couple things have been keeping me sane(r) lately:

Chris Guillebeau. Man, this guy is great. I am only about 2/3 of the way through his book “The Art of Non Conformity” but every so often I read something in it that hits me on the head like a tonne of bricks. I particularly like what he has to say regarding his “Principles of Unconventional Living” and his stuff on fear:

“When faced with uncertainty about taking a leap of faith, take the leap. You’ll regret the things you didn’t do much more than anything you did so you might as well try new things.”

You can check some of his stuff out here. But you probably should just buy his book.

Added thoughts:

Last weeks meditation class dealt with the topic of “forgiveness” and some concepts that the teacher outlined really spoke to me: Many of us form negative habits and we keep thinking that our negative emotions and feelings are a result of external circumstances. For example, when we feel anger, it is always THAT person or THAT circumstance which is making us angry-an external force affecting our otherwise clear and logical mind. While we have to remember that our original mind is pure, it gets clouded with delusions which bring on negative actions and behaviour and so too is it the same with other people. No one wants to be angry. Everyone ultimately wants to be happy. But they are perpetuating their own negative states of mind which makes them act how they do. But if we can try to remember when we feel angry at someone, that their happiness is just as important as our own and that they suffer from the same delusions and clouded minds as we do, we might take a moment to think before something comes out of our mouth that we will later wish hadn’t. This is a major “work-in progress” theme for me. I often get angry and later wish I hadn’t said things that I had and I also react to other people’s anger in ways I later wish I hadn’t. So this advice seems sometimes unattainable, but at least something to strive towards.

Let me leave you for now with the song of the moment: