NaBloPoMo: Why I Stopped Posting

NaBloPoMo was supposed to go differently – I was supposed to write everyday for the month of November in the spirit of National Blog Posting Month, but  instead I stopped writing and posting on Day 7. The month was going to be about writing in the here and now, and my intentions were to write from Victoria, Vancouver, Bangkok, and some other Thai city.  I  managed to blog from Canada, but then I boarded an airplane bound for Thailand and something happened. There were a bunch of forces that transpired against me; I decided to give in to the here and now, and just live life without blogging about it.

So, why did I stop writing? Why did I stop posting for NaBloPoMo 2016?  Why was I able to post through my 2014 breakup and make it to Day 19 in 2015? What was different about NaBloPoMo 2016?  Why did I drop the ball on Day 8?  I’ve been asking myself these questions, and have come up with some reasons/excuses.

  1. I was told not to write.  On November 8th, while enroute to Guangzhou, I was told repeatedly to turn off my device.  I was mid-way through my post titled, “Giving up my seat for Love”, when the flight attendant spotted me. Stuck between a Bali-bound drinker and a China-bound meditator, I thought I would discretely get some writing in, since I no longer had the luxury of leaning my head against the window. The elderly man in front of me was now leaning his head against the window, as his wife rested her head on his shoulder.  Before the plane had taken-off, through hand-gestures and smiles, I had given up my window seat to this couple. No regrets, but I wasn’t going to just shut off my device with a smile. Well, I did shut it off momentarily, then she caught me again, and I reasoned that my phone was on airplane mode, but she countered that it could still receive calls.  I just looked at her, ready to continue the debate, but then she said, staring at me coldly, “It’s the law.”  With that, I had a flash of prison in China, and powered my device off, forgetting to save my work in progress.
  2. Jetlag hit me. I spent half the month of November in a jetlag induced brain fog. For my first week in Bangkok, I was up before 6am everyday, napping every afternoon, and in bed before 9pm. During my awake hours, I had no desire to sit in front of a screen. I wanted to eat Thai fruit, lounge by the pool, ride motorcycle taxis, hang out with friends, read books, and just enjoy my old Thai life.  Once back in Canada, I was hit with another week of jetlag, and just wanted to enjoy my life here in my sleep-deprived fog. I was a space cadet that was fit to decorate a Christmas tree, but not her blog, with random foggy thoughts.
  3. I felt that I had to censor my writing. I’ve never felt this way before.  My blog is quite tame — I think the most risqué thing I ‘ve ever written about was in Thailand Firsts. However, while I was in Thailand, I made NaBloPoMo Day 3 private at the request of someone close to me.  It was a heartfelt letter that sprung from the prompt, “If you could be completely honest with no regrets, what would you say and to whom?” Funny, I always believed this special person never read my blog. Turns out I was wrong, and after a sleepless night, I moved that post to ‘private’ and emailed her. At this point, I had already decided not to carry on with NaBloPoMo, but this just sealed it.  I want to be able to write freely on my blog.
  4. The heat made me cranky.  The Thai heat did not inspire me to write. I managed to get two 5-kilometer runs in, and then decided swimming would be my new form of exercise. Cooling off in the pool made me calm, but I had zero patience for trying to write a blog post on my cellphone. I could just imagine a bunch of posts that would start the exact  same way, “I’m melting….”
  5. Blogging was not part of my Thai life.  I lived in Thailand for a long time — it will always be a big part of who I am. I was never one of those expats that blogs about all the crazy things that happen living abroad. Thailand was my home, my life was there — it wasn’t crazy. It was when I moved back to the West that I felt off balance and started blogging.  In the spirit of revisiting my Thai life, I didn’t want to blog — I wanted to just be there. I visited my old neighbourhoods, took the bus out to my old university, caught up with my old friends, and enjoyed the simple things — eating fresh mango, speaking Thai, getting a pedicure, floating my krathong. Being back made me realize that Thailand will always have a place in my heart, but it is no longer where my home is.

Those are my reasons, my excuses, for not posting during NaBloPoMo.  Instead of being disappointed with myself because I didn’t post everyday for the month of November, I’m going to rejoice in the November I had to just be in the here and now.  In saying this,  my hat does go off to all the bloggers out there who didn’t stop posting.  It’s not easy — it takes incredible discipline. Well done — I will join you another year :).

Thai house

 

NaBloPoMo Day 2: I Wanna Go

Hello, NaBloPoMo Day 2! You’ve come so soon, and all I wanna do is chill with my new favourite TV show, This is Us, but I’m here instead. My day was long and busy, filled with trip preparations, conversation club, and an 8 Km run with my run group. I’m ready for an early night.

Day 2, Victoria, 9:12 pm

NaBloPoMo Prompt: When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?

This is so subjective. Since I’m nodding off as I type this, I’m going to do something brave right now. I’m going to tell that little perfectionist voice in my head to go to bed. This does not have to be a stellar post. You have had a long, productive day and deserve a break. It’s okay. You’re going to hit publish, then brush your teeth, and turn out the lights.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with my latest musical crush, Yuna. I wanna go……to bed.

 

Me, Myself, and My Running Shoes

It’s National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) again, and I’ll be posting everyday for the month of November. I know I only made it to Day 19 last year, but I promise this year will be different. It will be like 2014 when I stuck it out for the whole 30 days, but this time I will not be dissecting my life abroad in Thailand and South Korea, or my crippling (sometimes humorous) breakup in my home country. This year I’ll be writing to you from Victoria, Vancouver and Bangkok, with no game plan. All I can promise is that I’ll be blogging from my heart in the here and now.

Day 1, Victoria, 7pm

NaBloPoMo Prompt:  “When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?”

I go to my running shoes — they understand. They don’t ask questions, they just hug my feet and push me out the door. Together we chase the bad days away. They remind me that I’m strong and that I can handle the road ahead. They bring me to the here and now. The breeze on my face, the tunes in my ears, the breath from my lungs, the peace of mind, and the realization that everything is going to be okay, all come to me when I’m with my running shoes. That argument, that rejection, that failed exam, those canceled plans, all seem somewhat trivial after some quality time together. I’m inspired to move forward, not just out on the pavement, but on all the paths that make up my life. My bad days suddenly turn a little brighter, even on those rainy runs.

And running doesn’t just brighten my bad days, it turns my good days to great days, and my ‘meh’ days to better days. It’s the best mood enhancer out there, and I’ve yet to discover any negative side effects. So far the side effects have included new friendships, greater mental clarity, better blog posts, fewer colds, more restful sleep, and a stronger sense of self.  So, when my mental health is not where it should be, I lace up and  run, run until I feel that I’m ready to come home and see my world in a new light.

Awesome Memoir on Running!
Awesome Memoir on Running!

 

 

NBPM #19: My 100th blog post

FanTanSo, this is how it’s going down. It’s NaBloPoMo day 19 and my 100th post, and I’m going to write it in less than an hour. I’m already getting anxious and wondering how I’m going to pull it off. You see, I usually let my fingers hover over the keys for at least 30 minutes before the tapping begins. And that tapping usually involves the delete button being tapped repeatedly. Yes, that’s me, never quite certain how much I want to share, and never planning ahead. I’m sure most NaBloPoMo bloggers have a plan, or some kind of outline. Well, not me. When it comes to this blog, I just jump right in.  Whatever is on my mind is what you’ll find here.  Tonight, I’m quite certain that this will be a random ramble. You’ve been warned!

So, why do I write? Yes, I will write about that.  I like lists. Most of us like lists, so here I will share with you a list, a list of the reasons why I write.

  1. I have a monkey mind, and when I write my thoughts down, I stop swinging from thought to thought. It gives me some mental clarity.
  2. I have a sense of humour, but I rarely let it shine through in my spoken life.  Now that I am getting older, I’m trying to let my light side flow though my life, and writing is helping with this. I’m not the quiet, conservative girl, anymore.
  3. I like to share.  I’ve always liked to share. Whether it’s cookies, flowers, or my words, I’ve got enough to go around. Maybe my words will make someone think, or smile, or laugh, or feel a little less lonely.
  4. I think I’m good at it. Yes, I do.  And to be honest with you, I don’t think I am good at many things. Being able to write helps me boost my self-confidence.
  5. I like being alone. Writing is my solitude. It gives me time to recharge for the next social engagement.
  6. It helps me develop and articulate my ideas. Writing gives me the time I need to process my thoughts.
  7.  It’s my mirror, and I can take it wherever I go. It’s my camera, too, capturing snapshots of my life.

So, there you have it.  My 100th ramble on lotusgirl80!  Thank you for reading. (I hope it was time well-spent.)

NBPM #18: Wordless Wednesday

Oh, Wordless Wednesday, you have arrived!  After a long day at work and an evening of cleaning, I am out of words. However, I’ll share with you (whoever you are) a little story about the photo below. Every morning, I catch the bus in front of a trendy, retro hair salon. The flowers in the window change weekly, and I usually Instagram them. They bring a bit of joy to my mornings, so I like to share them.  This morning, a young artist was painting a tree, and when I arrived home tonight there was a lovely, winter scene. It was too beautiful not to snap and share!

Happy Holidays

NBPM #17: Arabic Lessons

As-salamu Alaykum  (Peace be upon you), NaBloPoMo day 17, and all my blog readers!  Thank you for taking this 30-day journey with me. Today was a bit monumental for me for several reasons: 1. A year ago today, I started working at my school. Although I’m no longer a teacher there, I’m the one behind the scenes making sure everything runs smoothly. 2. A year ago today, I was fighting off spontaneous tears throughout the day. (It was a wonderful first day at the school!)  I was heartbroken – part of me still is, but I’m moving on. 3. Today, I wrote my first Arabic conversation. I’m taking baby steps.

Learning another language is so humbling; it puts me in my students’ shoes, the ones they wear after they’ve just arrived in Canada.  I can relate to their pauses, their smiles, their blank stares, their nervous laughter, because I have been doing the same thing for the past 6 weeks. When they skip school, or are late for class, I don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that they are lazy students.  Learning another language can be exhausting and discouraging — sometimes, you need to take a break.  For many of my students, they’re also adjusting to a different culture and/or living on their own for the first time.  I get it; I understand their need to sleep in, speak their own language with friends, and just take some time ‘away’ from English. I took some time away from Arabic, as my class was cancelled last week, and the children at the Sunday Arabic school had a fieldtrip. However, I am back at it — making progress, slowly, but surely.

I have to be honest; I’m not the most diligent student. I don’t study much, but I do my homework and seek ways to practice my Arabic outside of class.  At school, I greet my students with MarHabaa, thank them with Shokran, and bid them farewell with Ma’a Salaama. On Saturdays, I volunteer with a woman from Saudi Arabia, and she checks my homework and helps me with pronunciation. Her brother is a speech therapist, so I think she has some special insight. On Sundays, I greet the children at the Arabic school, and during their break time, they help me with my writing. I know I’m making progress; last week, when I was volunteering, one of the senior residents gave me a chocolate wafer.  I think his family must have sent them from Vietnam. There was French, Vietnamese, and Arabic writing on the small wrapper. I could read the word halal (lawful or permissible). And my manager received a gift from Jordan recently – a small bottle filled with a colourful desert scene and his name in Arabic inside. I could read it, and I knew he had the wrong bottle on his desk!

I love these little language victories! My weekend assignment for myself is to organize all my worksheets, and make some flashcards.  My teacher’s homework for me is to write a conversation in Arabic script. With a little help from my friends, I will manage to get it done, inshallah.

Tonight, I will leave you with a picture of my conversation in class. It is a dialogue between two strangers, Zayeena and Sameer, one is from Libya and the other is from Syria. Zayeena has a sister named Samyra, and Sameer has a father named Jameel, and a mother named Jameela.

Arabic