Wishbone

ginger pumpkin pieThanksgiving has come to a close, the lamb eaten, the pie demolished. Even the dishes have all been put away.

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We eat lamb here because turkey isn’t easy to find in Thailand, but really we could get it if we want, but we don’t because we’re fans of lamb. In four years away from home, I haven’t once missed turkey.

Except this time I remembered there’s something I do miss: the wishbone tradition. Every year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, my dad would carve up the turkey and he would offer to break the wishbone with me. Whoever got the longer part of the forked bone would get their wish. I always loved this tradition, and as I got older I also got smarter about surreptitiously sneaking a look at which side of the bone was longer because I was a sore loser. (And I kept on doing it even when I was old enough to tell my dad wasn’t blind to my trick but let me do it anyway.)

I miss that tradition. So this year I’m going to extend that tradition and pretend I got the long end of the wishbone to say that my one wish is for all of you to have an inspired year next year. I hope 2015 is a year in which you get to grow, unfold, stretch, expand, see more of yourself than you knew was there before, and I hope it’s among the best of things ever.

And I just want to say I’m so grateful to you, my readers. You’ve supported and encouraged me so much the past few years. It’s because of you I had the courage to put out my book this year, and it has been one of my bucket list things. I know I haven’t been up to my usual standard about getting around to responding to comments and commenting on other blogs. I promise I do read them all (and think responses in my head), but I still haven’t managed to balance this life with parenthood–it’s something I’m working on, and hope to be better about in 2015. This community has been a wellspring of support and inspiration, and for that, I thank you, and wish I might return the favor.

Happy Holidays!

 

Simple Joys

This week two of my favorite holidays begin to coalesce: Loi Krathong and Christmas. Like East meets West, all in one week. Loi Krathong is a festival of lights, where the entire holiday surrounds spiritual time at temple and then releasing paper lanterns into the night sky and floating it down the river in an annual cleansing of sins. I’m also preparing for Christmas: gifts that need to be shipped overseas, cookies that need to be baked with kids before we close for the holidays, decor that needs to be hung and joyful tidings strung.

As different as these two festivals may be, at root, they do have similarities. They both offer time for spiritual reflection. And they both encourage us to revel in the simple beauty of lights shining through the dark like little beacons of hope and warmth.

The pure joy of Loi Krathong lies in watching lights ascend in the night sky. No crazy commercialism, no pressure, no expectations. Just pretty lights floating like stars.

As complex as Christmas can become (Just what is that perfect gift? Who’s going to be here when? Is Auntie Susan still not talking to Uncle Mark? Will we have time to do everything I’ve pinned?), when it comes down to it, the highlights are always the simple things: that look of joy when a loved one does open that perfect gift, stolen kisses under the mistletoe, pecan pie, champagne glasses clinking, and hands holding hands while hymns are sung.

The joy of giving.

It’s going to get all kinds of busy real fast up in here.

But for tonight, I’m grateful for the simple joys. Incredibly generous friends and family*, cuddles with a warm puppy, a husband who makes me laugh, comfort food, and a good book. These are my lanterns in the dark.

*I only wish I could give a shout out and link up to everyone I’m grateful for.

For the month of November, we’re focusing on Gratitude and sharing what joys in life we would like to give thanks for. Share your blessings with us, and link it up at Hyacynth’s this week!

Happy Thanksgiving!

:: from my house to yours ::

On this day, I give thanks for

family – friends, old & new – opportunities to grow – challenges – days of rest – health – laughter – coffee – a husband who makes said coffee (and makes me laugh) – soft, fluffy blankets – books that touch my heart & open my mind – music that I can’t live without – Calvin & Hobbes – love when you’re happy – love, even when you’re annoyed – the opportunity to travel – food safety regulations – kisses on the corner of my mouth – kisses from a puppy curled up beside me - Love Actually - my Macbook Air, pretty journals, and cocktail napkins (everything I write on) – Toby’s D300 – my Kindle – my wedding jewelry  - words & inspiration - cinnamon & nutmeg - cozy coffee shops - fresh fruit and tropical flowers – fall days & summer nights -

…and for roads less traveled by…

 …for they’ve made me who I am.

Scenes From My Weekend – AND a Giveaway!!!

I actually have hundreds of photos from this weekend, but I’ll limit myself to a few because today I have something super exciting to tell you about!! (Well, I’m super excited, anyway.)

Last week, I read this quote by Augusten Burroughs:

“Generosity feels something like gratitude and pleasure blended together.”  - from This Is How

And it really got me thinking. I mean, one, that’s so right. But also, it seems true to me that, when we feel grateful and happy, we become more generous – more open-minded to others, more patient, more giving, etc.

So, in honor of feeling grateful for my readers, old and new (and crossing the 100 fan threshold on Facebook).

And because this week is Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on gratitude and blessings.

And because Christmas is coming up, a time to share and give….

I’m hosting a giveaway right here on my blog!! Jerin, from Out of the Blue, makes amazing vintage-styled jewelry (seriously, you should check it out…I’m in love with these Cameo Bobby Pins), and when I saw the necklace I’m about to show you, I gasped, and thought, “I want that.” That would be perfect for me my readers! And when I contacted Jerin, she most generously offered to contribute one for my giveaway.

People are awesome. Jerin is awesome.

Wanna see the necklace?

Here it is:

They’re word necklaces! Aren’t they charming? If I were to get one, my word would be COURAGE. What would your word be? The winner of this giveaway will receive a necklace with the word of their choice. (Or, if you’re gifting it to someone else, the word you’d want them to have.)

All right, so here are the rules to play. To participate, you can enter in up to three ways:

1) Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what word you’d wear in the necklace.

2) “Like” my Facebook page and post a comment on my wall with the word you’d wear.

and

3) Mention this giveaway in a blog post with a link back to this post and be sure to send me a link to your post too!

So that means you can have as many as three entries to win!

The giveaway closes at midnight, Friday, November 23 Bangkok time. (In case you’re wondering what time that is, there’s a nifty little clock for your reference at the top of the page. It’s easy to remember though: just add 12 hours from Eastern time, so that would be noon on Friday, EST.)

Bonne chance! And thank you.

::

Also linking up with Communal Global

Gratitude for Happenstance

I often don’t shut off my camera before I shove it into my bag, and it’s later, as I scan through the slide show of recent photos that I sometimes come across an unexpected…and even surprisingly stunning shot like the one above.

I had plans today. Not specifically planned plans, but a list of things to do…

…until I got a phone call.

My cousins were randomly in town – and not in the town I live in, but the one I work in, three hours away. There was in invite to breakfast, and sure, I have time for breakfast.

And breakfast led to a meeting with a prominent artist, and soon we were traveling to his house and the houses of other artists, galleries, and temples….

…amazing places…

 

…fantastic spaces…

…and kind, sweet souls….

 

 

To me, there’s nothing more beautiful or inspiring than seeing people do what they love, with joy. With peace in the heart comes a generosity. Sometimes, I feel – I know – I lead a charmed life. But I’m also surrounded by charming people doing good in the world, by starting with themselves. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started out today. It was only towards the end, as I began to look back, that I truly saw it.

I’m grateful that I said yes to breakfast.

P.S. I’m trying out Intense Debate as my new commenting system. For those of you who might not have used Intense Debate before, please know it is not necessary to create an account to comment.* Just be sure to include your name and email – and if you wish to receive email notifications of any replies to your comments (from me or other readers) so you don’t have to keep checking back, hit the button “Subscribe to:  Replies” at the bottom left.

Please let me know how it’s working for you! Yay or nay?

*If you’re a regular reader & commenter, it may be worthwhile to create an account for greater ease of use (and that’s how you can get a nifty little picture by your name too).

On Being Thankful

For the month of November, Bigger Picture Blogs is bringing its spirit of intentional living to gratitude, not only to count our blessings, but even to find those blessings in disguise. Each week, we will share our bounty, full of thankfulness for the extraordinary as well as ordinary.

This past week, I’ve battled jet lag, then the flu, and just as I was healing from all that, I got hit with wicked food poisoning. My whole family did. We’re still not sure what it was that did it, but it’s like a bomb hit the household and we’ve been lying, strewn about like dead bumblebees on the lawn.

It hasn’t been a pretty sight around here.

But we’re on the mend. So I have that to be thankful for. I’m thankful I can sleep through the night again. I grateful my stomach is no longer staging a revolution. I’m grateful I can eat, and that the congestion has subsided enough that I can hear (mostly) out of both ears again.

I’m thankful that fever has made the transition to tropical Thai heat easier. And that it went away in due time.

I’m grateful for tea. And bananas. And puppy cuddles.

And for a husband holding my hand as we walked home, in awe at the lightening flashing across the night sky.

I’m grateful for elections. And I’m ever more grateful that they’re over.

I’m grateful for Gone Girl and Everything is Illuminated for soothing a restless mind. And I’m thankful for long, flowing light dresses for keeping me in comfort.

(Would it be horrifically wrong of me to be grateful for the 3 pounds I lost while sick too?)

And this year has shown me just how many wonderful people we have in our lives – I’m grateful that, because of them, we never have to ever feel lonely.

Do you have something to feel grateful for? Share it with us!

This week we’re linking up HERE!

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Grateful Indeed

We could ask for no greater reason to inspire gratitude than the one we were served on the night of Thanksgiving. My husband’s father has been in the hospital for a week. He had lost all feeling in his legs, and when the doctors went to look, they found several growths along the spine, ones they feared might be related to cancer. The news sent our family into a head spin; we were so unprepared for such a prognosis. Not that anyone’s ever really prepared to hear such a thing. But after many days of anxious waiting, we heard the results of the biopsy: in surgery, they were able to remove all of the growth, and no sign of cancer could be detected.

If my husband hadn’t already been sitting down, he might have collapsed in relief.

We had much to be thankful for, and we celebrated, our little family of two.

I surprised my husband with a miniature Thanksgiving dinner. I laid out the table with flowers and candles.

No turkey for us, but I did make a traditional green bean casserole and of course sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, along with pork loin that I had marinated in a balsamic & Dijon sauce. Plus a slice each of some amazingly decadent, but not too sweet, almond-coffee-cream-cake and German chocolate cake for dessert.

(Our oven is on the blitz, so I did have to improvise a bit.) It wasn’t much, but it felt festive. And after dinner, my husband pulled me into an embrace, the kind that tells you more strongly than words that you’re appreciated.

And then we watched Cowboys & Aliens. ‘Cuz we’re traditional like that.

Anyway, I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely, fun, and full of warmth. Much love to all of you in the holiday season!

Giving Thanks, for a Year Survived

On Thanksgiving Day, my husband and I celebrate the mark of one year lived in Asia. We survived! But more than that, we lived. We grew. We thrived.

We learned a new language, and the depths of a culture.

We learned some of our strengths, as well as our limits.

Photo taken by my husband

My husband grew professionally, learning ever more about his field and feeling strong in his opinions and theories about how things should operate…and gaining so many accolades, he’s even caught the attention of head hunters at a big web company I’m not supposed to mention.

Also taken by my husband

(But I guarantee it’s one you know.)

Yes, this is me holding a baby tiger.

And for me, this year has seen the most creative output yet. I blogged my heart out, took photos almost every day, wrote the draft of a book, got into a practice of free writing, and spent the rest of my time trying to inspire at-risk children to discover their own dreams.

All that to say…we’re very happy people. And very lucky.

Did I mention we got a puppy?

Because, yeah, we got ourselves a puppy.

Wishing you all a very wonderful Thanksgiving, and hoping you’re all feeling as blessed as we.

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