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 6: Vancouver Fun

NaBloPoMo Day 6, Vancouver, 11:19pm

I’m trying to get this in just under the wire. After a day of traveling, eating Peruvian food, and walking through Gastown in Vancouver, the last thing I want to be doing is blogging. It’s especially difficult knowing that an alfajor (Peruvian caramel cream filled  cookie) is on the nightstand waiting to be eaten. 

Remember I said this November blogging would be from the heart in the here and now? Well, right now I’m out of words to describe my recent happiness. I just want to soak up the next two days before I’m off to Thailand for two weeks. So, I’ll leave you with some photos from my day :).

On the way to Vancover…
Peruvian dinner in Gastown
Gastown Steam clock

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 #16: Mourning Monday

I wish it were Wordless Wednesday. I’ve run out of words tonight. I feel exhausted, emotionally and physically, and cannot explain why. Is it this rain that never seems to stop? Is it this news of terror and discrimination that never seems to cease? Is it hearing the words, “I don’t mean to be racist but….” from a colleague? Is it this sadness that overcomes me when I see all the ignorance, subtle and not-so subtle, in my world? Is it this awakening to my Lebanese roots, a yearning to know more? These questions are too much for me tonight. My heart aches for the lives taken and their families left behind;for the refugees trying to find their way and a safe place to stay; and for those who have lost their way and their respect for their fellow beings. As this viral Instagram post starts, “It is not Paris we should pray for. It is the world.”

Today, it is my Mourning Monday, and I will leave you with some hopeful sunsets.

Symphony Splash Sunset 2<a

Symphony Splash Sunset 1

NBPM #14: Sage advice

“Aren’t you too young to be living on your own?” All I could do was chuckle and reply with a question of my own for the white-haired sister, “How old do you think I am?” She looked me up and down, and came to the conclusion that I was a teenager.  When I told her my real age, she smiled and said, “Oh my, you’re well-preserved!” In that moment, she had made my day. Then she continued to ask me the same questions, she’d asked the week before, and when the movie credits started rolling, she asked where she lived. I told her she was home, and she looked around at all the fancy wheels, some fancier then others, and nodded, smiling, “My brother is here, too.” I thought silently, “Oh yes, I know, and he always tells the volunteers they have erotic/exotic names.”

It’s funny, but the more time I spend with older people, the less worried I am about reaching their milestones.  I’ve volunteered with seniors since I was a teenager (a real one), and over the many years, I’ve learned so much.  And I am realizing more and more, that I don’t have to wait until I have white-hair and fancy wheels to incorporate their wisdom into my life. So, I’d like to share some sage advice that I’ve learned from the centennials (or near centennials) thus far.

  •  Be yourself, and don’t apologize for who you are. It takes too much valuable energy being someone else.
  • Ask for what you need. We all need help sometimes; don’t be afraid to ask for it.
  • Say No. If you’d rather stay home on a Saturday night than go to that party, that movie, that dinner date, then just say, “No.” And don’t feel guilty about it.
  • Take the time to listen. We all want to be heard. Listen to someone, even if you’ve heard their story before. Smile and nod (like you mean it), it shows that you’re there.
  • Ask questions, even if you think they’re silly. Questions help you understand the world, and show others that you want to know more.
  • Don’t stop reading. Read large font books or use a magnifier, if you’re eyes are failing you. You also have the option of listening to audiobooks. Keep your mind active and learn new things.
  • Say nice things. Notice the small things. Take note of your friend’s new haircut, or headscarf. Compliment your friends and family, and even strangers. Sometimes, nice words can make someone’s day.
  • Laugh at yourself. Don’t take life too seriously. If you’re locked out of your house, don’t fret, just crawl through the window. If you spill coffee on your favourite shirt, wipe it off, and laugh about your clumsiness. When you are nearing the 100 mark, you’ll have a lot more than spilt coffee on your shirt.
  • Establish a routine. A routine provides stability and comfort. It can promote calmness and greater awareness. It can also help us build our relationships. How so? Read more.

There you have it. That’s my sage advice, in a total random order (that’s my way and I’m not apologizing for it).  I’d like to write more on routine, but I’ll save that for another post.

Good night, NaBloPoMo day 14!

Paris

NBPM #13: Friday for Paris

Last summer, I went to Paris for five days with a dear friend of mine. We stayed with a British/Spanish family in Malakoff, a suburban commune in the southwest of Paris. The couple had fallen in love in Paris many years ago, and had decided to make it their home. They welcomed us into their home, like we were their teenage children, and almost every morning and night, we would eat together.

In the morning, I’d have tea and toast with the Spanish academic, and we would talk about everything from politics to gender identity. During the day, my friend and I would be off doing what tourists do in Paris, visiting the Eiffel Tower, Musee D’Orsay, Arc de Triomph, the Seine River, Notre Dame de Paris, etc.  Then in the evening, we would return for a family dinner with their real teenage children.  Most nights, dinner was out on the patio, but one night, we lounged around eating fresh bread, foreign cheeses, and  fancy salads, watching Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst.  The next morning, we took the train to Versailles. Versailles was exquisite, but to be honest, my best morning was in Malakoff at the market. The market was a fusing of cultures, breads, olives, cheeses, fish, vegetables, fruits, and household goods. It reminded me of an Asian market, filled with the energy of the local vendors, and the haggling clientele.

I had a good five days in Paris, and as much as I enjoyed the museums and monuments, it was the food (bread and cheese) and the family in Malakoff, that left a lasting impression.

A house in Malakoff

NBPM #11: Friend breakup

Day 11. NaBloPoMo just keeps ticking on. Today, I had this blog post all planned out, but right now, I don’t even want to write. I’m upset, so upset that my cheeks are burning, and I’m hurt, so hurt that tears are falling from my eyes. Honestly, I don’t want to get into it here. And it’s not because I think my friend will read it, because I know ‘it’s not her thing’, but because I don’t want to rehash it. We were both at fault. We were dishonest with each other. Part of me feels like our friendship is over, but it is too soon to tell. Losing friends sucks, just like losing love, but sometimes it is meant to be.

NBPM #10: Change of plans

change of planIt’s NaBloPoMo day 10, and I am going to tell you right away that this post is going to be short and sweet.  Do you ever have those days that are filled with little twists and turns? I say ‘little’ because the changes in your day aren’t major, but they’re definitely noticeable. Today was one of those days for me.

After turning off my alarm several times, and rushing around to get ready, I finally bit the bullet and fired off a text to my colleagues. “I’m running late….about 15 minutes late. Sorry. 😦 ” Anyhow, the extra 15 minutes gave me time to prepare lunch and put some eyeshadow and mascara on. It gave me time to walk to the bus stop, instead of running at full speed, like I usually do. What can I say?! I’m not a morning person.  Today, I gave myself permission to NOT be a morning person. I did stay an hour and a half late today, so I don’t feel guilty about those 15 minutes!

Allowing myself to go to work late was the first twist.  The second one came at work, when I felt like I could breathe, and that I was on top of my to-do list. It was an empowering feeling, one that I haven’t felt in a long time. Although I was busy with students and teachers, I felt like I was sailing smooth seas.  The day was going so smooth that at the end of the day I thought I’d give my boss a little scare. In my most serious and official voice, I told him that we should talk in private. I could tell he was apprehensive. My colleague had handed in her resignation two weeks ago. Anyhow, once behind closed doors, I presented him with a Thank you/Farewell card for that colleague, so that he could sign it before he left for his business trip. As he was writing away in the card, he let out a sigh of relief. I chuckled to myself. Sometimes, I have an odd sense of humour.

Another turn was in store, after I finally committed to taking the bus, on such a chilly night, to my Arabic class.  On the bus, I connected with a fellow student and we chatted on our way to class. We had never had an opportunity to talk before, and all I knew was that she was born in Saudi Arabia, left when she was a baby, grew up speaking Arabic with her parents, but soon English took over, and now she was rediscovering her mother tongue. On our way to class, I learned about her studies, her time spent abroad, and her interest in going to law school.When I found out that our class was cancelled due to reading break, I was disappointed, but happy that I had made the bus journey and a new connection.

After we parted ways,  I walked to the bus stop and mentally prepared myself for an early night. Then a voice in my head said, “Why don’t you go to a movie?”  So, that is what I did.  I went to see Mr. Holmes. It’s not the kind of movie I would usually watch, but then again, it wasn’t a usual day. In the end, I was glad I went, and I enjoyed every twist and turn in the story, right along with the beautiful scenery.

As I was riding home on the bus, I recounted the day, and all the unexpected twists and turns.  When I had woken up in the morning, I had had my day all planned out. None of it went according to plan. I never expected that I would go to work late, exchange numbers with a fellow student, not go to Arabic class, and instead  go to a movie. Sometimes, plans change and the day turns out to be a little more extraordinary than you expected!

P.S. I guess this isn’t as short and sweet as I thought it would be.  I’m just trying to stick with the theme ;-).