Friday, February 29, 2008

Weekend Chatter.....

I've made the decision to surround myself with positive books and positive thoughts for a while. This is like anything else. It's a habit. Thinking negatively and my own personal downfall, cynicism, takes a deliberate effort to change.

I ordered a few books this morning based on the recommendations of Olivia at Happy Luau. Any of you who have not visited her blog, please do. She is someone whose thoughts resonate very well with my own - but she has the added advantage of being good at translating motivation to action which is not one of my finer honed skills.

So I am following her lead on the books. I've ordered "The Yoga of Eating" and "The Ascent of Humanity", the latter of which I suspect more succinctly says what I've been trying to say on this site for the past seventeen months. The difference of course is that Charles Eisenstein is an educated, clear thinker where I am tangential.

This changing.. this changing our thinking.. I've never believed is a matter of simply choosing to do it differently. It's a process of education, of learning. We have to learn to think differently. Saying "I refuse these thoughts" is useless unless we replace it with something else.


On another issue, I was reading a blog this morning that seems to be promoting bigotry. She says (the only reason I am linking is for verification, not because I want to give her the link or unknowingly promote her blog.) that learning to say (and teaching others to say) "I hate fat people" will be one way to discourage people from eating too much, from getting fat to begin with. I find that manner of thinking to be small-minded and utterly hateful. In a way that is not typical of me, I left a snarky comment.

It wasn't anonymous. I own the comment and am willing to defend it.

The dialogue continues. Please feel free to come by and join. It could get interesting.. but please be nice. :)


There are a lot of people who believe that shaming works, that we can shame people into changing patterns or doing things differently. Shame and fear. "I better not be fat because people will hate me and I'll be shunned" is very different than "I don't want to be fat because I respect my body and my life. I want to be healthy."


So.. what do you do to stay positive?


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Moment of Truth

Has anyone else seen that horrible reality TV show "Moment of Truth"?

It is the one that puts people on the hot seat and ask very pointed questions while hooking them up to some sort of lie detector equipment.

They ask questions like "do you love your husband", "would you rather be married to your former girlfriend" and "do you think you are a better mother to your children than your mother was to you?"

I find this horrifying! They exploit these people, break up marriages, hurt family members, embarrass and humiliate friends, all in the name of "entertainment"? The people who choose to go on are trying to win money? It's sick! And it's socially irresponsible.

What are your thoughts on this? What do you think should be the limits of reality TV?


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wellness Wednesday.... Wisdom

Shortly after I went to Thailand the first time, I recognized how culturally conditioned I'd become. When I made the decision to become a part of Thailand rather than apart from it, a lot of my assumptions came up and bit my behind.

While being called "blue-eyed Thai girl" and all that made me feel all warm and fuzzy since it represented acceptance, I felt ersatz. I wanted to understand the depths and find all the hidden corners. Thousands of years of history and I knew next to nothing about it. I wanted to lift the rug and find out what might be hidden beneath, both good and bad.

I discovered how hard it was to get beyond cultural conditioning. I was raised in an environment where a lot was assumed and I didn't realize how arrogant, how colonialist, I could be until I forced myself to live in another culture as one of its own. I didn't know idealism could be another blind spot. Without realizing it, I was shoving my ideas down everyone else's throat (gee, just like I do on this site! Wow!) , saying and believing I knew what is best for everyone and how they should run their lives individually, their communities or their country.

It was kind of like Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady". Why can't a woman be more like a man? Why couldn't they be more like me?

We get really attached to these things, this conditioning, until we realize it's not quite so wise after all.

One of the problems most of us develop is compulsivity. Obsessiveness. There are so many "shoulds". When you create ideals, they become compulsive and the shoulds start in earnest. Idealism is nice.. but it's not real life. I don't think any of us should give it up but we need to recognize its limitations. The feeling that we always have to be in motion, that we always have to be making things better, that we always have to have more to do, more to be, more to have.

It's not that the shoulds are necessarily wrong. Most shoulds are rooted in truth. Of course we can be nicer, be kinder, be more open, better-natured and so on. If things were perfect, I'd be perfect, too. I would be ideal and my society would be ideal. We would all be perfect. Then there would be nothing more to do. But that's not the way life is.

That is where 'conventional wisdom' begins to fall apart. It sets us up for failure and constant dissatisfaction. It sets us up for constant unhappiness. We set ourselves up to believe something can always be better than this, whatever this is.

Sooner or later, we come to realize that the very things we spend our lives craving are all subject to change and loss. Everything changes and everything eventually ends. Then we suffer.

It seems to me that the better part of wisdom is that recognition.. and knowing that what we have is right now, this moment, and what we have is each other. And that is perfect enough.


Monday, February 25, 2008

It's None Of My Business.....

As you can imagine, my recovery from years and years of being a crusader is a challenging one.

(Another one of those things that makes quitting booze look rosy in comparison.)

Saturday night, I had a marathon phone conversation with someone very important in my life. We talked and the hours flowed. We are somewhat accustomed to these calls and there are very few stones left unturned in our discussion of the spiritual challenges in our lives. We share our experiences with each other and to the best of my knowledge, neither of us hang up unsatisfied.

It's like a wonderful, filling meal that's also healthy.

Offhandedly, I commented that I am still having some difficulty in letting go of my need to spout my opinions and be critical of cultural conditions that bother me. I need to find peace with here before I can go there.

He said, "I can give you peace about that right now."


"It's none of your business what they do over there. Leave them to their business. You tend to yours."

What a concept! I'd never thought about it with quite that level of clarity - and I've been chanting it like a mantra ever since.

When I find myself getting irritated with something, I silently repeat "It's none of my business...."

On my sidebar, I have put a statement that says "May all beings be free from the tyranny of my expectations." That's there to remind me, especially when posting here, not to get involved in the usual complaining about situations I can not control, nor should I. We all have our own and it's much healthier to let others learn their lessons their own way. My determination of their rightness or wrongness is inappropriate and mostly unwanted and unnecessary.

It is very freeing to take this approach. It frees our minds to concentrate on the things that really matter instead of spending so much energy trying to control other people or situations.

What do you think?

Addendum: Just to clarify, he was not suggesting that I renege on my personal responsibility to make the world a better place whenever and wherever I can. We are both socially conscious people and care a great deal about larger issues. What he meant is that I should stop allowing the cultural values and customs to rile me up so that all of my energy is consumed by that. If anything, that has caused me to have less energy for the big stuff. Hope that explains. :)


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday on Saturday: Suffering

Because I am notoriously bad at following the rules... I am posting Sacred Life Sunday on Saturday.

It's all about identity. The identities we choose. The identities we claim.

I am too fat. I am impatient. I am sloppy. I am not smart enough. I am too smart. I am too skinny. I am American. I am Thai. I am British. I am tall. I am short. I am loud. I am quiet. I am a sister. I am a daughter. I am a mother. I am a father. I am a survivor of child abuse. I am a formerly abused woman. I am a student. I am an elder. I am ....

I am....

And then....

It's too hot. It's too cold. The neighbor's music is too loud. This doesn't taste good. That doesn't sound good. This fabric is too rough on my skin. It's too windy. My groceries cost too much. There's too much traffic. Everyone keeps bugging me.

How often we declare these things and in the process make them true. How we attach ourselves to them and use them as definitions of who we are.

We use them to separate ourselves from others and to bond to others. How often do we use our suffering as a way to bond with others? We are a group of child abuse survivors. We are a group of formerly abused women. We are a group of men who have been in prison. The sangha of the oppressed.

From the minute we come to this planet through our mother's womb, we start screaming. We start criticizing. All of our senses scream. Taste, feel, smell, hear, see. All the input from the external world begins to irritate us.

That's the suffering inherent in being alive in the material world. All these sensitivities. The sensitivity, the impingement and the irritations come through until we die.

It becomes important at some point to view these things differently. We have to see the world as it is, instead of judging it - or each other. We become identified with the ideals. Our critical minds tell us what others should be, what governments should be, what parents should be, what our partners should be... It's always predicated on some peak experience. Peak experiences are wonderful but they're not sustainable. Everything changes. Constantly. We can become conditioned - or we can become open.

I've noticed myself doing this a lot. I have such strong ideals, such a strong sense of what's right and what's wrong and balance everything against that, that I am making myself miserable.

There's a huge difference between being depressed and pessimistic or truly accepting the world as it is but still finding the beauty in it. The more we are attached to our identities, the less we can see the beauty because we're too caught up in defending our ideals.

Suffering becomes noble when we can finally see it as a learning experience, as an opportunity - even a challenge if we choose it that way. Rather than fear sensitivity, be fully sensitive instead of trying to protect ourselves endlessly from pain or misfortune. Embrace it, understand it, be open to it, admit it, and finally to accept it. That begins to give us some freedom from the pain, the frustration and the irritation, no matter what form it takes. Instead of asking "why me", just say "why not me".

And the final, most important thing, is to detach ourselves from our identities as "those who suffer."


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fat, fat, fat.....

Okay. I'm still dealing with weight loss stuff.

I'm bored with it. By now, I should be so thin that slipping through a keyhole shouldn't be a problem. I should be non-existent!

When I was over there in the place that shall not be mentioned, I was beginning to lose pounds. Even though I just looked like a smaller pear instead of a big one, it was progress. We lived largely on a diet of rice and vegetables, rice and fruit and occasional meat dishes from the local food stalls. We drank lots of tea and water. I never felt hungry or deprived. Occasionally, I'd have a diet coke but it wasn't every day.

So... being a reasonably intelligent person, you'd think I'd be smart enough to continue that here. Right? And I have. To a degree.

But I'm munching again. Yesterday, I plowed through an unseemly number of crackers and onion dip. I drank diet Coke all day.

It didn't take long for the emotional eating to start again. This is my greatest downfall. I have an addictive personality and I replaced booze with food. The problem is that I can't choose to stop eating the way I chose to stop drinking.

As of today, no more Diet Coke and no more coffee. I'll go back to tea, rice and vegetables, rice and fruit and an occasional meat dish from... well.. somewhere.

So.. again.. today... no more. That's it. I'm going to lose this weight if it kills me... which it very well might.

If I can quit drinking, I can quit this. Right?


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Voting with our feet.....

It's Julie day again. Thankfully. I can honestly say there's not a single one of her prompts that I haven't liked, that haven't made me think, even if I chose to not participate that week.

In this case, she prompts a few different scenarios with a "what would you do" undertone.

The different scenarios didn't speak to me but the common thread running through them did.

How do we deal with conflict?

The first thing that comes to mind is that we all deal with situations according to our own conditioning. We are all socialized differently and the way we'd respond to any particular situation depends on how that was modeled for us, what we've done that works and what doesn't. And, of course, our own objective. Do we want to please? How invested are we in resolution?

When it comes to customer service issues, I am rather heartless. If my expectations are not met, I vote with my feet. Chances are I won't verbally confront. I just cancel the service without explanation.

When it comes to social situations, I can be equally heartless. I find it exceedingly difficult to stand by and say nothing when I believe something is wrong or potentially harmful.

Given my personal conditioning, in the past I would simply spit my opinions out like olive pits with little regard for where they land or who they hit. I was blunt. Tactless. I had no particular regard for diplomacy because I lived in a black/white world. If something was wrong, it was to be crushed. If it was right and wholesome, I supported it in an equally strident manner.

But then... we grow up eventually. And in my case, Thailand came along. I began my acculturation process there. My style changed. My values changed.

Both of those things forced me to view it a bit differently. The first consideration is that while I do still confront the things I see as wrong (potentially harmful to me, others, the community, the world), I try to do it with a bit of softness, allow others to save face and still get my message across.

It's all about speaking your truth with kindness. When we see something that's wrong, we don't have to be angry. We can use it as an opportunity to present different values, a different way of doing things - perhaps a way that will benefit everyone.

I've come to believe that the way we do these things is similar to the flow of water. From stream to river to lake to ocean. In the same manner, what we put out flows from self to others to community to nation to world. The way we choose to treat others in our daily lives will ultimately translate to the way a nation treats other nations and has a worldwide effect.

So now I try to stop myself. I've made no secret here how I feel about social networking, inclusion and exclusion. Just this morning while blog-surfing, I saw something that irritated me. In the interest of diplomacy, I won't say what. It was just evidence of cliquishness.

As another minor example, one in which I am not constrained by diplomacy, I was irritated recently by the exclusionary behavior that was on GoodReads where people gathered "friends" and it's put out along with our profiles in numbers. Naturally the purpose of this is to create competition for "friends" and the usual acceptance/snubbing behavior began. Lord of the Flies on a community literary site. Charming.

Because of my old conditioning, I was tempted to simply sign off and forget about it. I really detest that behavior and it does make me angry.

What is wrong with simply enjoying books? Why does it have to become some social nonsense like that, I thought.

This is only about books for me. I am not looking for a bosom buddy. I'm not offering to make casseroles, pay anyone's bills, go to their funeral or have their baby.

It's about books, for crying out loud!

The old me would have simply signed off and disappeared. I would have voted with my feet.

The new me thought about it a bit and decided to let it go. A lot of that kind of behavior is age-dependent. It's also a result of other people's conditioning. I chose to ignore it. Was it a bit of a struggle? Yes. It was. But that's part of growing up on my part and living my culture rather than just mouthing on about it.

In the case of something blatant, I will still say something - kindly - hoping to create change but another part of the process of aging is choosing our battles with a bit more care.

GoodReads was hardly worth it. Day-to-day annoyances are hardly worth it.

Julie's example of exclusion in the case of the birthday party or the dad in the playgroup would have had me speaking up because both of those things do have potentially damaging results in the long term for individuals and communities.

So I guess this is how we choose. How important is it? What would be the potential long term outcome? Is it really harmful to ourselves, to others, to our communities or to the world? Is this based on principle or is it just my ego speaking?

Most things are the latter. I wasn't treated right. I got snubbed. I didn't get what I want. It's not that important. It's important to differentiate between those things that involve truly universal principles and stand up for them and those things that are just our egos running wild, wanting validation.

Stream to river to lake to ocean.

So.. that's my hai dong for the moment. :)


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If you had to design a life....

Last night I was reading and began thinking about something.

If you had to design a life for yourself, say you were a life coach, knowing what you know now, what would you have designed?

I would have encouraged me to be a nurse. The reason is multifold, not the least of which is that I am quite good at practical things. Not so good at the theoretical and in that sense, my sociology degree has not been helpful in any regard.

I like international travel. As a nurse, I would have spent my entire working life traveling to different countries, helping people with their medical issues. At the same time, I would have used that as a platform for human rights education which is very important to me.

Refugee camps and villages would have been my choice of where to use my skills. I would have done it through an independent agency, nothing with any government connections because that would have left me free to support my own beliefs and not be an unknowing propagandist for any government. (And, yes, that would include Thai.)

That would have worked well for me because I am simply not the type of person for typical family life and I can not see me ever having a career in the workplace environment here.

So.. what about you?

On an unrelated topic, I was listening to the news and heard that Fidel Castro is stepping down. The immediate assumption is that the Cuban people will naturally choose the way of life here over their own. Already, the US government is planning and plotting how to make the "transition to democracy." Does it ever occur to anyone in power in the US that everyone else in the world might not agree that its way of life is the only one worth living?

Does this strike anyone else as incredibly arrogant?


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Put a little love in your heart....

First of all, I want to thank all of you who left me comments and sent private notes over the past few days. You have no idea how grateful I am for that thoughtfulness (even when you challenged me) because I don't have the words. May the karma gods smile on all of you. I know I am.

I was reading a post earlier on Annie's site and it got me thinking.

We are all in this together. There are thousands of us, literally, reading posts at this very moment. There are thousands more of us sitting in living rooms, watching TV or listening to music. Reading books. Some are sitting in dark bars, sucking down the next drink. Someone is smoking crack. Someone is crying. Someone is alone.

Thousands of us are alone.

This simply doesn't have to be. It leads me to wonder why there is so much loneliness when there are so many of us. We waste our time forming little groups, validating ourselves by shutting others out (I'll be writing a post on social networking sites later - and, yes, it's biting), spend inordinate amounts of time on our own petty concerns and then claim we don't have any time and allow ourselves to be mindless. We forget the real purpose we are all here.

This should be simple. It should be evident. And no one should have to be alone unless they want to be. And we shouldn't have to shop for companionship the way we shop for our shoes or our kitchen appliances.

One of the things I experienced in Thailand is a social openness that I can't even imagine here. I was included in things when I didn't even know the people. I got casual invitations at markets, in stores, during walks. I was another human being and was invited by other human beings who assumed that I was just like them.

People waved to me as I sat on the balcony, exchanging pleasantries and smiling even though we didn't speak the same language. I can "swadee ka" with the best of them but this went beyond that. We communicated with our eyes, with our touch, with our gestures.

There is very little loneliness there. In fact, if anything, alone time is rare.

I could go into a full tilt rap about all the reasons for loneliness here. I could write a sociological analysis but I don't want to. We can unknowingly justify this stuff by over-intellectualizing it. It isn't an intellectual issue. It is a human issue.

It is a choice. Not inviting is a choice. Being mindless is a choice. Snubbing is a choice. Judging is a choice. Not being kind is a choice.

At some point, we have to decide who we are going to be in this world. We have to make choices that stretch us, make us a bit kinder, make us more conscious of others. A post like Annie's should never have to be written. My warrior spirit wants to slay that dragon.

Speak to someone. Pick up the damn phone. Do something to make someone else's world better. Please choose kindness.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Second Massage....

If I wasn't a believer before, I'm a believer now.

One of the things on the list of "things to do" when I get back to Thailand for good is to continue getting a massage every few weeks.

The second time I went, I was barely recovered from the first. This is one type of massage that really seems to get to the depths of who we are, pulls it to the surface and gets rid of it. It's similar to Rolfing.. or even Reiki.

When I went for the next treatment, it was with the same guy. He remembered well enough what had occurred the first time and went easy in some respects and but was even more challenging in others.

He sat on me, he pulled me, he put me in positions that no 56 year old, arthritis-riddled body should have experienced. They were actually contortions.

Still, I stuck with it and kept doing it because I knew it was important.

One of the most significant things that occurred is that I began recalling old memories, things I'd buried years ago. The memories that were stored in the cells of my body started coming into my consciousness, vaguely at first ~ then more clear as time went on. They were snippets really, glimpses, but I knew they were real.

Before anyone cautions me about how dangerous it could have been, I'll say outright that at no time did I bring anything to the surface that endangered me in any way.

Some of you know, some of you don't, that I have dissociative amnesia. There are things in my background that are like a blackout, similar to a drunk who wakes up the next day and can't remember what he or she did the night before. For me, it is chunks of time, years, that are unknown to me.

Still, our bodies are wise. There is no way I would have captured a memory that I was not ready to process.

This brings me to certain conclusions, certain things that seem so clear to me now. The first is that our bodies, as I said, are wise. They store information in the core of our muscles and organs, information that for all we know could go back generations. It's awfully hard to tell at this point whether some of this stays with us through DNA, ancestral memory. I lean in that direction though.

It appeals to my logic.

I'm not a believer in talk therapy. I've done it plenty in my life and never found it particularly satisfying. What is the benefit in sitting and talking to someone about memories I don't have? It also just didn't work for me because of other factors. I know it works for some and I'm all for it ~ as long as it produces desired results. For me, it just doesn't.

The massage does work. The herbal treatments work.

I'm not going to say I think the massage will cure all that ails me. Dissociative amnesia is a complicated issue that is outside my knowledge base. There are parts of my past that will always be inaccessible to me and most of the time, that's perfectly okay. Still, if these massage treatments are detoxifying my body of old crap that I've been carrying for decades, I'm going to stick with it.


Thursday, February 14, 2008


I caught a bug, coming back. Not complaining though. It is what it is and I'll get over it.

Still, for now, I'm not feeling very well. Virus aside, I'm having a harder time being back than I anticipated and will just ride it out until it becomes "okay" again. Being as truthful as I know how, that makes reliving it a bit painful though. The main thing is that I know for certain now that I belong there.. with those people.. in that setting.. living that kind of life. I believe I hungered for that all my life ~ but didn't know where to find it or even if it really existed.

There's so much to figure out. Being a person of reticent nature anyway, it's hard for me to write about that part. But I do want to tell about some of the things.. how they changed me, how they confirmed what I know is right - things like spending the afternoon cleaning at the temple. There's nothing like sweeping floors and dusting to put things in perspective. Those are the things that remind us who we are supposed to be and what really matters.

There's so much to tell, so much to say and I feel a bit overwhelmed by it. I'm not a storyteller. I'm just an old opinion columnist, accustomed to forming and writing opinions about issues. My personal experiences ultimately end up churning around inside for a while and then become assimilated into the great mass of "stuff" that lives in all of us. Parsing it out, weeding out the irrelevant and the things that matter only to me, I am trying to come up with the things that will be of interest to others.

My time there wasn't all that different than my time here with the exception of the family feeling I experienced daily. And the feeling of being where I belong. That's what stands out. That's what's most significant. The contrasts. Between my life here and my life there. There were things to be done. People had their jobs and their duties. I was on my own in the mornings. Yet I never felt alone.

I had a strong sense of acceptance and inclusion from people who had no obligation to do so. I become a different person there. Light and airy. Happy. Talkative. I hug and laugh. And share. Entirely different than the guarded, cool, aloof person I am here. We ate together, played together, talked together, worked together, hung out together, shared ourselves and our resources, made plans, and all of it was as natural as being alive should be.

I worked on their computers, upgrading some software, networking the computers so they can share the same printer, fixed problems and upgraded the memory in one of them.

And it felt right. It's a skill I was able to share freely and was happy to do it.

We ate around a big table each night, mostly rice and vegetables. (I'm continuing that diet now. Weight is dripping off!) We talked to each other in a mixture of Thai and English but were always understood. While it may sound prosaic, the language of the heart, HeartSpeak, doesn't require a translator. Everyone had something to say.

The balcony was unofficially declared as "mine" because I love spending time out there, sipping tea, reading, watching, absorbing, taking it all in, breath by breath. It was the perch I established, like a bird in a tree, and watched the world from there. That street, that field, that grove of trees, those neighbors, those animals were all the world I needed or wanted. Just being there was a salve on many wounds and I could feel the healing, from the outside in.

People would wander in and out to visit and then go somewhere else. We talked about the serious and the mundane with equal intensity.

I asked if I could stay forever and be their pet farang. I only need to be fed and watered regularly. There was plenty of laughter.

If I'd died on the spot, I would have died happy.

And that's just the beginning.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Privacy Policy....

Julie asks an interesting question this week and it is timely for me.

She asks: How do you handle writing about people? What are your criteria for discussing the people who affect you? Have you ever dealt with someone finding themselves in your writing and reacting (in any way)? Share with us your ethics and mores as a writer, when it comes to characterizing others.

Last week, my host and I had an interesting discussion about blogs. My blog in particular. He is not especially supportive of this site. It's not so much about my content as it is his own feelings about people putting their personal business out all over the Internet. He asked me to not write about him, his family or our relationship. Needless to say, because I respect him and value his approval, I will not discuss him on this site. It's a temptation of course but it would be unethical and disrespectful for me to disregard his request.

That would be Rule Number One: Do not write about people who have specifically said they do not want to be written about.

The ethics of writing about the people in our lives, like everything else, doesn't have a steadfast rule that will apply in all situations. There are a few general rules but after that, it's just a question of personal boundaries.

My Other Absolutes:

2) I will not write about anyone in a way that will directly identify them. I will not include names, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses unless I am asked to do so. An example would be choosing to write about someone who is campaigning for something I support or someone who explicitly or implicitly gives permission to be linked here.

Some time back, I wrote about a person in my life who has been troublesome. I talked openly about my feelings about her and my experience of her. Even though I was very angry, her identity was cloaked.

On the other hand, Julie gives implied permission to be linked here because she runs the Roundtable forum.

3) I will always stick to my perspectives, my experiences and my feelings. It is not my right to take someone else's inventory in this space.

It is not okay for me to use this site as a way to denigrate someone else and expose all of his or her character flaws, his or her background or his or her private business. No gossiping.

4) I will not write something here for the express purpose of embarrassing, humiliating or hurting someone.

Again, returning to the person in #1, I was tempted to identify this person because she is an Internet troll. In some ways, it would have been a service to others because she is still out there, possibly looking for other people to exploit. That is a very hard line to draw. At what point do we expose someone because their behavior may prove harmful to someone else? I grappled with that.

I decided that in this case, I would have been doing it only for revenge and to humiliate her, not for some higher purpose ~ so I didn't identify her. There are websites that are designed to expose trolls. I will leave it up to those folks.

5) I will always give the people I do write about fake names and protect them as best I can while still being true to my own experience and my authenticity as a writer.

Those are five rules I use here. In general, the old "treat you the way I'd want to be treated" works fairly well. I'm not a masochist so that old refrain doesn't work. Actually, I squeal rather loudly when my toes are stepped on.

I have not had any negative reactions from others I've written about so far, although I'm sure the troll would not be pleased. :)

What are your rules?


Monday, February 11, 2008

Running In Circles Before Laying Down.....

I've been back a little over 28 hours now. Still tired. A bit weepy. I can't seem to let go of what I left behind.

Within minutes of getting back, I was changing the locks on a house, helping with an eviction. It's rather amusing in its own bizarre way. I was breaking into a house with the consent of the police. In fact, one was standing there as I did it. I'd called the police department for a lockout escort, the squatter's parole officer and organized the next steps since the judgment came in while I was gone.

It's not my house. I was helping someone else who had squatters take over the property. They stayed there for two months rent-free and did a fair amount of damage before leaving. The landlord won in this case and got a judgment against them. Not that it will do much good since the squatters were both criminals and have no visible means of support.

The point is that I was barely off the plane before having to act as someone else's enforcer.

If not me, who? That seems to be a chronic situation.

I came back when we were done and fortunately was able to relax in front of the TV. Watched the Grammys. Watched. Didn't comprehend. Didn't care.

It was rather surprising that I thought to do all the appropriate things before I left which made it possible to not care. The only casualty was some nasty fruit in the refrigerator. Everything else was orderly.

Not bad, considering what it could have been.

And I sit here tonight, heart still at my home in Thailand, trying to accept that this will be it for the next several months at the minimum. It will take that long to clean everything up so that I can return, free of all obligations here.

My home in Thailand is a quiet but full place. It is a house on stilts with a balcony that has a panoramic view of a large field. Each morning I got up, made tea and would sit out there, meditating on the grove of trees. The air wasn't heavy - nor was it light. The color of the sky looked like warm honey.

I could smell animals and jasmine. Plumeria. Unknown flora. The sun came up as I sat there, listening to the sounds and feeling the air around me. It was fairly warm. People started to come and go, often waving to me as they walked by, on their way to their jobs or some other activity. Kids walked in groups to school.

The visit was absolutely wonderful, having solidified and expanded the relationships I established six years ago. The absence didn't dim our draw to each other. If anything, it was enhanced.

Children that I once held on my hip are now in school. They showed me their school work and I taught them funny words in English, like "hippopotamus", "mosquito" and "nose". They giggled delightedly which brought me delight, too.

The older ones are already speaking English and we had interesting conversations. They expressed themselves very well, including abstract concepts. It was wonderful to know what they were thinking. Our discussions covered the gambit.. from history to philosophy.

In the afternoons, we went shopping, walking, eating ~ all the while catching up on our lives and making plans for the future. It all seems so natural, so right. When all is said and done, we are related even though we share not one strand of DNA.

I miss it. Terribly. Already. I have no words.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I'm back....

Just to let everyone know.... I'm back.

I'm not sure how to feel about it yet. I'm still rather numb, not to mention tired! I've had the longest Sunday of my life. (I left Thailand on Sunday and arrived here on Sunday, flying backward in time). Kind of Asimovesque but it really does work that way. So many things happened. So many extraordinary things, some of which I can talk about and some I can't.

Mostly, it helped so much to get some of my perspective back. It does take reinforcement and as much as we all like to believe we are totally independent and can create whatever we want on our own, it's simply not true. I do feel reconnected and it is because I went there and hung out with other people like me. Amazing, that! People like me.

In order to get back on track, I took Ambien during the flight so I slept but am still a bit weary, not quite up to leaving comment crumbs around yet. I'm looking forward to doing that tomorrow. (If you don't want comments on previous posts, please leave me a comment and let me know. Then I'll just read.)


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Massage...


Since yesterday is now today, I can say that I am scheduled for a second massage this afternoon.

I had my first one last week and it was an amazing experience. Over here, it is called "nuad bo'rarn". It is an ancient healing method, often used with herbal medicine. S and I went together into a small massage room off an alley in Khon Kaen. The young man who was to do my massage asked me to lay down on a mat on the floor. He was intense and solemn about his work. The minute he touched my body, I knew he was a healer. I could feel it in his fingers. There was no frivolous chit chat or make-nice conversation. He didn't use any lotions or creams. He had a job to do and took it seriously. S. sat in a chair along the wall and watched.

While I had a vague idea of what would happen, I was far from certain. I know enough about Thai massage to know it is rough, I'd get flipped around a lot and kneaded like bread dough ~ but not a clue beyond that.

My instinct was to cringe from the touch but also found that I got into a meditative state rather quickly. It was important to remain mindful. My mind and body were actually connected. That's often unusual for me since I tend to be rather dissociative.

He pounded and kneaded very slowly. Each point of my body. Again and again. He stretched my body, put me in some positions that actually reminded me of yoga. He worked a lot on my abdominal area. According to Thai medicine, this is the most vulnerable part of us and is the area where all the major energy pathways are located. The health of all the rest of our senses depend on the health of our abdominal areas.

When he began working on that, I began reacting. Strongly. I alternately wailed, keened, howled and tried to curl up in a ball. Not because he was causing me physical pain, but because it was loosening all the pain I've been carrying around for so many years. It released so many toxins into my system that I felt a bit weird and sick for the rest of the day. By the end of the session, I was softly weeping. It was such an amazing experience. From the sound of it, it would make sense that I would have disliked the experience but I didn't.

It was a good indication that I need more treatments and I go for another one this afternoon.

One of the things I've come to realize while I've been here is how touch-deprived I am over there. While I've been here, I've been massaged, hugged, touched, petted and there has been the inevitable "skin rubbing" that strangers often do when they meet me. Thai people touch each other and they love to touch farangs.

That led me to think about how it's going to be when I come back there. I will not be touched anymore and I need that. Really. Just common human touch.

It really does matter.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Okay... so I'm flip-flopping :)

In my spare moments here, I looked into making this blog private which seemed like a really good idea. There are things I want to be able to post about that I can't do publicly and want to do with people I know and have established a good blogging relationship with.

However, I'm linked to a few sites like Thailand Voice, Sacred Life Sunday, Just Posts and Wellness Wednesday that won't be able to connect here without... well.. you know... global access. (clearing throat)

So what I will do when I get home is create a silhouette site. I can't do it from here because of the page load and, honestly, I don't want to take the time away from my family in this house. And that, they truly are! I'll have much more to say on that when I get back and set up the private site.

While they watch goofy movies that I can not understand because of the the language barrier, I often get on the computer and answer email, maybe write a quick post or try to read a few blogs. They understand and all is well.

But creating a silhouette is going to take uninterrupted effort and I can't do it until I get back. I'll name the blog something obvious so that when those of you who have told me you'd like access get invitations, you won't have to wonder who the heck it is! :)

Posts on this site will be obviously public and less detailed but I hope they'll still be good. Well, they will be good because I'll make them good.

Sorry for the bouncing around on this. I realized the other day that I do want to be able to share more freely and can't do that in an open forum. I just didn't think through the implications.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

This post will be up for the next week.....


I have decided to make this blog private.

The primary reason I am doing so is that I'd like to discuss things in more depth and create a better, more meaningful, connection with those who read here. It will allow the site to be more interactive in the comments section and I will be free to be more open. My privacy and yours will be protected. We will be able to ask questions of each other and interact in a more "forum" style setting.

Truthfully, I'm not the sort of person who enjoys putting my thoughts and experiences out for everyone with a browser and an Internet connection. I'm an extreme introvert who is happiest with a known group, even if it's a small group. I am also a very private person. It doesn't make me feel good or safe to have people breezing in and out. My life is not casual entertainment. The things I talk about are too important to me. If I happen across someone new who I think would find the site useful, I will invite him/her.

There will be a lot of changes occurring in my life when I get back that I don't want to discuss publicly.

In so many ways, this seems like the perfect solution.

Given that, I would ask those who would like access to please let me know. (Anyone who wants it will get it, unless we've had considerable problems and I don't think those people will be interested anyway.) Leave a comment or send me an offlist note at thailandchani at yahoo dot com.

I always write for Just Posts and will forward my post for that to the administrators each month ~ without the comments. It might be necessary to open it up for that day.

I will leave this post up for a week so that those who only visit once in a while but do value the site have a chance to respond.

When I get back at the end of next week, I'll switch it over.


The Dangling Conversation....

Looks like I went off the beam again yesterday.

I apologize.

It appeared to me that I was being "punished" in a sense for my lack of commenting. When the site remained inactive for 16 hours, it just sent me over the edge.

I suppose some would say that on some level, I must feel so guilty for *not* commenting that I would assume I'd be punished. That would be fairly consistent with who I am.

And truthfully, I do feel bad about it but I'm stuck with the condition for now. I wasn't exaggerating about the page load. This is like typing through tar.

At any rate, I apologize for my (as usual) going off half-cocked without checking my facts. I read all of your comments and I listened.

The truth is that it is very hard for me to accept that I will have to leave here one day, this place where I am surrounded by so much acceptance and love and come back there where my life is, frankly speaking, less than satisfying.

I can try from now until the day I die ~ and I will never fit in over there. I will never be surrounded by the kind of community I have here.

It's hard to say why I found it here and I have my opinions. Simply put I think it's that people are important here. They need each other. People are more important than time, busy-ness and making money. Because of that, they are less likely to put someone out of the herd because they're a bit different. The expectations aren't so high and the price for acceptance isn't quite as high. They don't demand as much. That isn't to say they don't have standards we're all expected to meet ~ but the standards are very different. If you are a kind and considerate person, you'll likely be accepted without question.

This is really too big a subject for me to address right now but I will after my thoughts are more congealed. All I know is that the idea of coming back there is breaking me apart. It's like being asked to go back to prison after a few weeks of freedom.