Curiosity Does Not an AHole Make

I’d be the last person to downplay the prevalence of racial problems in this world, but I have to say I do think there’s such a thing as being too sensitive about race. And I think that uber-sensitivity does us all a disservice in drawing attention away from real, actual problems of race, crying wolf when the real wolves are elsewhere, doing far more damage.

Here’s a case in point: an article on Jezebel about how to ask someone about their ethnicity. Let me summarize their answer for you: Don’t. It’s otherizing and exoticizing and that’s offensive. Apparently.

Now, I’m one of those people who never has an easy time with the question “Where are you from?” because the truth is a long story. So my answer depends on the context. If it looks like a shorter answer is appropriate, my response will be either “The States,” “California,” or possibly “Santa Barbara” though I could just as easily say Mission Viejo or Westminster if I’m being city-specific. If it’s a Thai person asking, I’ll usually respond in Thai that I’m a “half-race child: Thai & American.”

Sometimes more detail is called for: “My mom is Thai and my dad is American, but he grew up in South Africa.”

Sometimes it’s appropriate for me to mention that while my dad is an American, he primarily grew up in South Africa, but his family is actually from Norway. He’s as blond and blue-eyed as they come, but he grew up speaking Zulu (clicks and all) before he learned to speak English.

When asked where I grew up, I say southern California. But occasionally I surprise everyone when I admit I was born in Mississippi.

By that time everyone is confused, and I haven’t even gotten to the part about how my brother and sister are actually my cousins (no incest involved, thankyouverymuch) and technically, biologically, I’m an only child.

_1050346-2Like I said, long story. If people try to place me based on looks, they generally think I might be Hawaiian, or Mexican, maybe Indian. Not Thai, though. And not white either. If anyone has a claim to feeling “otherized” I’d think I do because I don’t fit the mold anywhere.

But while the “Where are you from?” question is never easy to answer, I don’t think people are assholes for asking it. Honestly, when I read articles like this Jezebel one, I just have to roll my eyes because, to me, it reeks more of the author’s own insecurity and discomfort in their own skin than racist behavior on the part of the questioner. More often than not, people asking where others are from are just making conversation. You never know their history either–maybe you look like you’re from Lebanon and that person just traveled there last month and is looking for a point of connection and a chance to talk with someone who gets it about the awesome time they had there. Or maybe you sound like you’re from Germany, and my family is from Germany but you’d never know it to look at me. Whatever. If you have an interesting heritage, maybe people are asking because you look like you have an interesting story to tell. Let me put it another way: would you rather forgo an interesting heritage in order to look just like everyone else? Is looking “exotic” such a bad thing? Is there something inherently better about looking obviously placeable?

I’d personally rather have people be curious about me than write me off.

The only time I’ve ever been really annoyed by the questioner was when he kept trying to make assumptions about me, being overly familiar and getting it all wrong. And I just wanted to tell him, “STOP. I’m sorry, dude, but I don’t fit in your preconceived molds so just stop trying to stuff me into one.” But that kind of questioner isn’t curious–in fact, he’s the opposite of curious, when he’s really just looking for the most efficient way to categorize everyone he meets–which sounds a lot more like racism to me than simple curiosity about others. Turns out this particular guy, a restaurant owner who liked to get real friendly with his guests, is now operating a hub for trafficking young girls and boys out of his restaurant, so he definitely qualifies as an asshole.

The world is only getting more globalized and we’ll only begin to see more multi-ethnic people and more convoluted stories about where we’re all really from, whatever that means. There’s no one way to ask a person about their heritage that encompasses all the possible responses. Is it really better to shut up and not ask the question for fear of “otherizing” each other, or is it better to leave open the opportunity for making a connection with each other, either through the magnetism of our differences or because there’s a hidden similarity that might not otherwise have been seen?

Meanwhile, if I feel otherized by or that I don’t fit in with a particular crowd because of my answer to the “Where are you from?” question, then they’re not the kind of people I want to spend my time with–regardless of whether they so boldly ask the question or not.

How Pregnancy Changes The Skin I’m In

4 months preggo

Before I became pregnant, I don’t think I had much of an idea of what happens to your body in pregnancy. You get bigger, you get crazy cravings and eat more, and might have to throw up in the mornings. I think that’s all I thought happened.

{Insert a long stream of slightly manic laughter here.}

While I seem to have lucked out on the whole morning sickness thing, my body is changing faster and in more myriad ways than Aladdin’s Genie let out of the lamp Robin Williams style.

First, I got the dry skin. I seemed to be trying to compete with the Lubriderm gator. So I started putting lotion all over. Until I noticed that every time I did, I’d suddenly break out with an unsightly body pimple somewhere. So I stopped with that.

Then I got the dry eyes and had to start putting in eye drops.

Then there’s the stretch marks. Not on my belly. On my boobs.

Then my nails started growing three times as fast as normal. I’d scratch an itch (see dry skin above) with my suddenly uber-long witch nails, and break out in a mini rash.

Thankfully I work (*smirk* there’s an overstatement, when in the first trimester I could barely stay upright) mostly at home so I can hide the fact that I now find underwear supremely irritating.

Sleeping on my left side is good for my growing belly, but now I wake up with numb hips and pins & needles.

Speaking of that growing belly, it was growing at a nice, steady, slow pace right in line with what the doctor recommended during the first trimester. Second trimester hit and suddenly I’m clocking in a new number every time I get on the scale (which, admittedly, is less frequently these days because, heck, I gotta’ hold on to some scrap of sanity).

Apparently, there’s supposed to be some sort of pregnancy glow? All I know is I’ve had to switch to a super mild face cleanser and then follow it up with a super strength moisturizer strategically placed on certain spots on my face, since spreading it across my whole face makes me break out.

Add to all this, chronically sore feet, a complaining bottom & back, constant trips to the bathroom (all pee and no poo), cravings for sweets that I now find too sweet so that I end up having to bake them myself with a third of the sugar (Toby doesn’t mind this part because I’ll eat maybe three of the cookies, and he gets the rest) and cravings for steak (which is really expensive here, and normally I don’t eat much red meat), crying at the slightest provocation, and throw in a little bit of hot season so I sweat all the time and need more A/C than my husband wants to have, and it’s like: Who AM I? Where did my body go?

To cope, I now have a full skin regimen every time I get out of the shower. I apply a tiny bit of Bio-Oil to my boobs (I don’t know if this will help with the stretch marks, but it does smell nice and make my skin soft, so for $10 I consider that a win). Then comes tummy butter for my tummy, hips, and butt. Aquaphor strategically placed on the very dry or itchy patches of skin, rather than all over. Baby powder on my inner thighs to reduce the sweat. H20 moisturizer spot-placed on my face. Aveeno lotion spot-placed on semi-dry patches of skin. And occasionally at night, Burt’s Bees coconut oil foot creme on my toes & heels.

I’m pretty sure I smell like a pharmacy. Or at least the beauty section of CVS. And I have to trim my nails every five days or so.

Oh, and in addition to dryness, my eyes started getting more sensitive to direct sunlight, so now sunglasses are a must when I go out. I think I’ve officially become Thai now too, because I’ve started carrying an umbrella for sunny days. (What? It keeps the sun off.)

There are a bazillion articles on how to “get your body back” after pregnancy – most of which seem concerned with erasing any sign of pregnancy as quickly as humanly possible to become fitter than you were, with firmer boobs and younger more nubile skin than you had before getting knocked up, like there is some ideal version of you, and as Kate from Eat the Damn Cake observes, whatever ideal that is, it’s probably not the body you have right now.

But the thing is, as much as I jest and kvetch about my changing body, I’m also kind of proud of it. Though sometimes I feel like a little alien has taken over (which, let’s face it, is kind of true – I mean, for crying out loud, if you don’t get enough of a certain nutrient, the baby takes it first, so if you don’t get enough calcium, the baby will suck it up, leaving you with rotted, decaying teeth and osteoporosis), I’m thrilled to be the party host. While I don’t always recognize my body anymore, and new changes spring upon me almost daily, it doesn’t mean I want the old me back. Because the old me didn’t have this little one who dances around doing somersaults and waves at us in ultrasounds. I don’t want to be who I was before, because, before, I didn’t have another tiny heart beating inside. I don’t care if I bounce back tight as a virgin three months after the baby comes, because these rounder breasts and hips are proof I bore life separate from mine. Stretch marks aren’t unsightly. They’re reminders that I became something more than just me. I put on the cream less from vanity and more just to keep my skin supple and smooth, to match the calmness I feel inside. I don’t want to erase that.

I don’t want to erase the fact that I am becoming a mother.

Creating a Family Narrative

My sister, my mom, my brother, and wee little me, back in the days when we lived in a tiny apartment in Mississippi.

An article in the NY Times recently argued that the best way to instill resilience and self-confidence in children is to provide them with a strong family narrative. It’s a fascinating read. Much like other social groups, there is greater cohesion when the group shares its history – the highs as well as the lows – and forms a strong core identity in which children are helped to feel that they are part of something larger than themselves.

As I read the article, I saw how it reflected my own family. I knew where my parents grew up, I knew some of the darker skeletons in the closet, I knew the story of how my parents met and how I came to be, and my mom told me more times than I can count that blood is thicker than water; that friends may come and go, but that family – whether you want them to or not, and even if they sometimes go about it in really kooky ways – will always be there for you.

It wasn’t just words either. I saw our family banking system in action: when one member needs a boost to qualify for a home, the various relatives scramble to put it together, knowing full well one day it’ll eventually come back to them, though they’d do it regardless; when another gets married or has a baby, the older relatives pull together and set up a nest egg; when the younger members get older, they send money home to the grandfolks or even offer them a place in their own homes, and they continue the cycle of sending money down to help out the younger generations. The insurance is better than anything the FDIC can offer and it’s interest-free.

I saw unconditional love in action: no matter what was said, no matter what hurt was dealt, you could always come home. It might not be easy – justice would always be meted out – but you would never be turned away at the door.

Why does a strong narrative instill resilience? How does the family story bring strength? The article suggests it has to do with “sense-making,” identity creation, and group cohesion. Based on my own experience, I think it’s about more than that. Whenever my mom sat me down and gave me her blood is thicker than water spiel, I always took a deep amount of solace in that knowledge. I took comfort in knowing that I always had a home base, that I would never be shunned no matter what I did (I might surely have to pay the piper, but ostracism would never be the price), and that I always had a gaggle of supporters cheering me on from the sidelines.

Besides, when the family unit is strong, there’s no one better than an older, indulgent sibling, who once kissed all your boo-boos and got you that thing no one else knew you really wanted, to tell you when you’re being a schmuck. Because if you’ve gotten to the point where even they have to say something, then you know you better get your butt in gear. Crying about it is not going to make you shine any brighter in their book, so man up.

The flip side of that coin was a deep sense of duty. I’m not sure it was ever put into so many words, but because I had that comfort and the experience of seeing the family in operation, I knew I had a role to play too: that when others needed my help (whether it was asked for or not) the best way to show love was to jump in and do what was needed, that one needs to learn to be open-minded enough to see love in the kookiest of gestures and appreciate even the quirkiest of personalities, and (this was never expressly said, but if it’s true that I would never be ostracized, then the transverse must also be true) that the worst thing I could ever do would be to turn my back on family because they would never turn their back on me.

It’s part of what gave Toby & me the courage to take a leap and fly across the globe. We knew, no matter what happened or how miserably our experiment might fail, we could always have a soft spot to land at home. It’s what kept me going in the darkest, hardest parts of my most painful experiences…when I wanted to give up, when I would have simply let go if it were simply up to myself, I hung on for my family. When I couldn’t do it for me, I did it to honor the ones who never dreamed they could do it for themselves.

This NY Times article shone a light on an aspect of my family that I hadn’t put into quite the same words before. But if it’s true that a strong family narrative creates stronger children, I know what I’ll do when my child joins the fray. I’ll show them each and every day not just how I love him* and not just how my husband loves him, but all the ways all our aunts, uncles, grandmammas, grandpoppas, and cousins love him and what it means to love back. I will tell him again and again where and who we came from, and I will show him that whatever we did and no matter from how far away, we did it together.

* And by “him” I mean “him or her.” No, we don’t know the baby’s sex yet. 

For the month of March, Bigger Picture Blogs is celebrating the turn from winter toward spring with the theme: Rejuvenate! Come join us: Rejuvenate your heart, rejuvenate your soul – pick up your pen, your camera, and your spirit!

Find all the ways you can blow some fresh air into life and link it up with us at Bigger Picture Blogs!

Live. Love. Capture. Encourage.

Raising Men in the Aftermath of Feminism

Photo by Kristi Phillips

It’s no secret now that, while women are still fighting for equal pay and the face of power remains decidedly male, the gender gap in schools didn’t close, it flipped directions. Girls and women at all levels of education, from elementary to collegiate, are outstripping boys – so much so that some colleges are even giving a little extra boost for the guys (yes, you heard that right, affirmative action for white males). Nicholas Kristof provides a nice summary of the problem here and Businessweek has another good one here, but even a cursory poke around Google will bring you a slew of articles from across the Western nations documenting this counter-intuitive trend.

Meanwhile, when we look around at male role models in popular culture, what do we see? Primarily, a glorification of one of two things: underperformance (a la Peter Griffin, Homer Simpson, etc.), or androgyny (types like Michael Cera, “metrosexuality,” dare I even mention Ryan Gosling?). We have to look to Mad Men to find masculinity of the type we used to revere – except they’re all philanderers and misogynists, so that ideal is certainly tarnished.

Toss in rising divorce rates plus a “gotcha!” culture of news media (if I may borrow that phrase) focused on catching politicians and celebrities with their pants down, so to speak (for good or ill), and we have a recipe for stripping society of role models to look towards. I’m being a little blase and overgeneralizing an incredibly complex issue here, but the truth is men these days are often confused about what role they should play and are taught to be ashamed of manliness rather than to uphold its virtues.

We’ve focused so much attention on girl power and what it means to raise a confident, empowered woman, that we’ve forgotten the need to guide our boys too. But we’re doing our girls no favors, when they grow up to be strong, smart, independent women only to find there are no men they can respect to stand strong beside them. Building women up does not require tearing down our boys.

A fellow blogger touched on a growing double-standard in her post, “I never thought he would feel that being a boy was a limitation.” Her children are young, so her concern focuses on erasing gender lines with the toys her kids play with and the cartoons they watch.

But it’s about so much more than that.

It’s about so much more than whether girls can play with monster trucks or whether boys can enjoy watching My Little Pony. As my friend, Brook put it, “we want ALL children to be confident, compassionate and courageous.” Courage is not just for the men, just as compassion is just not for the women.

BUT I don’t think androgyny is the answer either. We do both our children and our society a disservice when we tell them it’s wrong for men to be manly and wrong for women to be feminine. (By the way, we haven’t just hurt our boys either – teaching girls to act like men when it comes to sex has created a host of problems, including, but not limited to: undermining their own sense of value, repressed needs, and increased difficulty in finding and maintaining relationships.) Moreover, we’re simply lying to ourselves when we pretend that there aren’t at least some biological differences between the genders.

That doesn’t mean everyone has to follow a gendered ideal, though – we all suffer when we try to force anyone into a box, no matter what that box is. I’m not harping on anyone who naturally falls towards the middle of the gender spectrum. Gender and sexuality are both complex and we should honor that complexity. What I AM saying, though, is this: We don’t celebrate humanity by wishing (or socializing) away all our differences. We celebrate humanity by encouraging authenticity, harnessing the power of each individual’s strengths, and treating ourselves and each other with respect.

There are two blogs I follow despite the fact that I am neither male nor am I mother to a son. I follow them because I find the articles provide a fascinating discussion of what masculinity means in a post-feminist world: how men can still strive to be the best they can be, present themselves with distinction, be assertive, demonstrate honor and valor – and that masculinity does not have to imply male chauvinism. The first is The Art of Manliness, which grew so quickly and displayed such gratitude from its readers that it showed just how lost men feel in this age, how desperate they are for some guidance on how to be men. The other is 1001 Rules for My Unborn Son. Both hark back to the past for examples of great men, tempered with the greater understanding and self-awareness we have gained in the past decades. It’s a shame how far we have to look back to find great examples.

So whether your boy melts his G.I. Joes in violent combat or plays quietly with a Carebear, teach him to read because great communicators make for great leaders. Whether he prefers World of Warcraft or Sims, teach him to help with chores around the house, because a sense of responsibility breeds great husbands and fathers. Whether his interests lie in the sciences or the arts, teach him to show others respect and appreciation because courage means putting others before ourselves and strength should always be on the side of justice. Whether his hobby is fly-fishing or baking, encourage it because any added skill makes for a more well-rounded human being. Teach him how to change his oil, sew a button, safely discharge a firearm, and iron his shirts…because one day he might need to know all those things.

And roughhouse with him too, because we don’t learn everything there is to learn from “playing nicely” alone.

 

A Conversation

Her: So you’re telling me you live in a gated community with security guards that salute you and click their heels every time you pass through the gate. And you’re in a 4-bedroom house. For $670 a month.

Me: Yes. Except for the first full year I felt incredibility guilty about it, like we had somehow found a way to game the system and it’s all great now, but someday karma’s going to come back and bite us in the ass.

Her: Right. Because God clearly hates people who try to prevent children from being trafficked into prostitution.

Me: Yeah, well, and yesterday I felt like a total schmuck because our maid came, and she normally comes on Mondays, when I’m working, so it’s fine and makes sense, but this week she came on a Sunday, which is my day off, and I felt like a total asshole sitting on the couch reading a book while she cleaned up around me.

Her (blink, blink): Because…why?

Me: Well, you know, it’s guilt. I’ve got this whole white liberal privileged guilt thing –

Her: White liberal privileged guilt — You’re half-Thai – white liberal privileged guilt, and you’re not even all that white. Do even you hear how ludicrous this sounds now?

Me: (nodding while tears of laughter stream down my face)

Her: It’s like the Thai side makes it worse; like your Thai side is warring with your white side…and um, I barely know you, but here’s my assessment of your entire cultural identity. You’re welcome.

Me: (still laughing, but not, because it’s totally true and I’d never thought of it that way before)

::

We met to exchange written words and ended up talking for hours. That conversation stuck with me for days afterward, and I wanted to preserve a piece of it, even if I only caught the gist of how it made me feel, because it made me feel better. I love people who can make me laugh; I really love people who can make me laugh at myself. I wanted to thank her for that.

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us! 

Live. Capture. Share. Encourage.
This week we’re linking up at Melissa’s!
BE SURE TO CATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK
And head there for your daily dose of creativity:
prompts for photos, for words, for inspiration,
and for a life lived mindfully!

Ten Things…

Note: New Writing Circles dates have been announced! Two new dates hosted by yours truly in October! Check my sidebar on my home page or click here for details.

This photo has nothing to do with this post. I was just in the mood to take it.

Ten Things I Know to Be True: (in no particular order)

1. Forever friends are rare in life, and it can be a surprise who turns out to be one.

2. Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I miss good cheese.

3. Everything we do in life is a choice, even if we are not actively deciding.

4. The older I get, the harder it is to pinpoint things I know.

5. I’m tempted to log out of Facebook until the election season is over.

6. The universe is very, very big and I am very, very small…

7. …but even fragile leaves and wee sea shells can leave an imprint behind.

8. I like me better when I wonder more and worry less.

9. Getting good at anything takes practice, practice, practice…and even maestros never stop practicing.

10. Love is magical. Instead of diminishing when shared, it grows. The more deeply and widely you love, the greater expands your capacity to love. The more you give, the more you have.

Ten Things I Should Have Learned By Now: (Must I stick to only 10?)

1. The discipline to stick long term with healthy diet and exercise.

2. That most people don’t consider it “helpful” when you correct them.

3. Basic car maintenance, like changing the oil or a flat tire.

4. Anything related to finance. Once I get any deeper than “this is what I have in the bank” and “this is how much those shoes cost,” I’m generally in over my head.

5. How to shoot in full manual – and to not be too lazy to use a tripod.

6. That there’s a difference between being busy and being productive.

7. Patience.

8. I will never be taller.

9. Things are much simpler if you just tell people what you want. You may not get it, but you do get to skip the annoying mind games.

10. It’s silly to be shy about complimenting someone for fear of looking stupid. When I think something positive about someone, I should just tell them.

This post was inspired by spoken word poet, Sarah Kay,
who bowled me over when she said:

“Getting the wind knocked out of you
is the only way to remind your lungs
that they like the taste of air.”

What caught your breath this week?

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us! 

Live. Capture. Share. Encourage.
This week we’re linking up at Melissa’s!
BE SURE TO CATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK
And head there for your daily dose of creativity:
prompts for photos, for words, for inspiration,
and for a life lived mindfully!

Thirty-two

…is what I’m turning today. In honor of my birthday, I thought it would be fun to write a letter to myself. Well, actually, two letters. One to myself at age 12 and one to myself at age 52.

So here goes.

To my twelve-year-old self:

You don’t know this, but you’re about to enter a period of adolescence where the girls turn mean and manipulative, and the boys turn awkward and dumb. Even the smart ones. Enjoy your childhood and cherish this year. Don’t try so hard to grow up so fast. Believe in yourself. Ask for what you want. You are worth more than you think and you don’t have to try so hard to be liked. Learn to play the flute or the violin. Don’t give up on something you love because you fear what others think. The people that you will really look up to, that offer something worth striving for or learning from, you will find when the time is right. You will find friends worth holding on to, and you will find a man who inspires you.

I tell you all this, but I’m really not worried. You will find your way in your own time. You will find who you are and you will stand up for that when you’re ready. Um, but those bangs you’re trying really hard to get? They’re a losing battle. And that first time you shave your legs, PLEASE use shaving cream. Thanks.

Your loving, thirty-two-year-old self.

To my fifty-two-year-old self:

Remember me? I’m the one who is simultaneously fulfilled and still dreaming. I hope you are the same, only better. I’m coming up on two years lived abroad and I feel like I’ve been able to do so much, and yet there’s still so much more. I have dreams of growing my family, of having more of my ideas turned into print, of seeing more of the world and other people, and of leaving this place better for having had me. Those are my ambitions. Not houses or cars or things. Just me leaving an imprint more positive than not.

How’s all that coming?

And just in case you need reminding, here are some things I hope in twenty years not to forget:
1) Respect in marriage is sacred. Extend it, even when you least want to. (This includes paying attention to your husband when he’s telling you something, even if you’re in the middle of something else.)
2) Love your body. It’s the only one you got, so don’t hate on it.
3) Don’t worry so much. It will all work out, often better than you expect.
4) Breathe. You have a tendency to forget to do this sometimes.
and
5) 
Above all, have fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right. 

With love,
Me.

*     *     *

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.” 
- Author Unknown

 What moments stole your breath away this week? 

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us! 

Live. Capture. Share. Encourage.
This week we’re linking up at Sarah’s!

 

Absolution, in the Most Unlikely of Places

We were taking a long walk through the park, chatting like sisters do, about high school popularity – and the problem of the lack thereof. Except this particular pair of sisters is separated by about seventeen years in age.

It started with an innocuous question. My sister-in-law, who is in her first year of high school, asked me if I had noticed that the popular kids seem to offer the less popular ones opportunities to become more popular – but that usually one has to jump over some ridiculous hurdle to prove one’s worth. And that it can be the kids you’d think were least concerned with popularity who do so, while someone you thought might be the first to line up, who ends up surprising you.

And somehow, over the course of the conversation, I told a story about a friend I had, Helen. She was a very sweet and smart girl and I enjoyed her friendship…but she was definitely on the lower end of the popularity spectrum. One day, in an attempt to be helpful, I suggested we could have a little fun with hair and makeup and such. I had hoped to help her fit in a little better, in a way that was flattering for her face and figure. But that conversation didn’t go so well, and soon after, I lost her as a friend. In retrospect, I realized that she – better than me – had understood that I, in my teenage immaturity, had not valued her very well as her own person. And I felt endlessly guilty about that and sad that I had done so.

And my young sister-in-law told me it was a mark of how wholesome I was as a person that I felt badly about it; many others would do far worse, with malicious intent, and not feel a shred of guilt. And she said, wisely, that more may have happened to Helen where others had tricked, deceived, or bullied her, and perhaps part of the reason for her reaction had more to do with how others had treated her in the past than with what I was suggesting in the moment.

And in that conversation, I felt a burden of guilt ease off my shoulders: the release of a weight I hadn’t realized I carried. I don’t share this to curry more assurances, but to mention how startled I was to find what little packages of self-chastisement I carry, and for how many years I can carry it. There are things that stick with us, hidden in the nooks and crannies of our character. And sometimes all it takes is understanding, even from an unlikely source, to shed light on these things and set them free.

Do you have a packet of guilt you’ve been carrying with you for too long?

*     *     *

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.” 
- Author Unknown

What moments stole your breath away this week? 

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us! 

Live. Capture. Share. Encourage.
This week we’re linking up HERE!

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Homesick

Three weeks away, and I am homesick.

I miss fresh vegetables. I miss raw herbs and colorful fruit.

I miss people who speak volumes with silence and a significant look.

I miss warm rain and the golden hour, motorcyclists zipping alongside rice paddies, and mountains in the distance.

I miss Dot.

I’ve lived in Thailand for only a year and a half, but it’s the home I feel homesick for. And it took coming to Europe, where everything felt comfortable and familiar, to find out that it’s actually Thailand that has become my home.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.” 
- Author Unknown
 

What moments stole your breath away this week? 

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us! 

Live. Capture. Share. Encourage.
This week we’re linking up at Hyacynth’s!

Age {A Bigger Picture Moment}

This week, we’re joining the party at Momalom, where they are hosting a 5 for 5 party. Five topics, for five days. The prompt for today is AGE. So please feel free to set your ruminations this week on “age,” link up here, and then link up at 5 for 5!

In a little over a month, I turn 32. What does this mean? Scientifically speaking, I suppose it means I’ve hit my sexual peak and am moving towards an age marked by reduced fertility. Gray hairs have started to weave their way through my tresses, which are not as thick as they once were. My skin is not as vibrant or taut, my ability to shed weight even less remarkable. Where I might have once enjoyed a few nights on the town, drinking with large groups of friends in loud bars, I now drink in the joy of a smooth cocktail sipped in a quiet lounge, or even a night in.

I remember when life in high school was my frame of reference for most any topic of conversation. Then it became college. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen myself in the faces of college undergrads. They all seem so young to me now.

I recently read David Sedaris’s memoir, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and spent most of it wondering how the hell he remembers all that crap from childhood. Most of my memories have long since faded. Years gained, people and moments lost.

BUT.

At 32, I’ve grown comfortable in my own skin. I know what’s important to me (family, words, travel, creativity, food, new and enriching experiences), and I know what is not (convention, status symbols, money for its own sake). I revel in simple joys more, and more often. I know I have a lot of opinions and ideas and I don’t hesitate to voice them. I know I have the right to be heard and, after many silent years, I’ve now found my voice and I intend to use it. I encourage others to shed their own barriers preventing them from the full realization of self. I know, too, that my opinions are nothing more than that. In fact the older I get, the more I know I don’t know. But I’m okay with ambiguity.

I have a loving husband, a sweet dog, and a large, caring family that extends in many directions. I have a life in which I’ve insisted on pursuing my dreams – even as they and I have changed.

I have many miles left to walk yet and many more destinations to reach, but I’ve never been more comfortable, ready, happy, fulfilled, and proud to be me.

Don’t forget to link up at Momalom’s Five for Five too!

 
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.” 
- Author Unknown

What moments stole your breath away this week? 

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us! 

Live. Capture. Share. Encourage.
This week we’re linking up HERE!

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