getting some Alpaca love
Hey all- it has taken me a while to get this post up as my internet connection in America is not as convenient as it is in Thailand. I find this embarrassing and hard to believe, but true. If you do not have a package, or aren’t bundled, you sit in the public library or in Starbucks…which is where I am now. Thank you Starbucks.
Frances and me
Re-entry into the United States of America has been really weird and awesome. In many ways I feel a stranger in my own country. Some of my first thoughts: Why does “she” look like me? Or, why does he or she look familiar? The women, they all look like me! That’s neat, and weird.
Mini neighborhood library grand opening
I do not wear shoes in the house it feels rough and dirty. I do not feel comfortable crossing my legs= it feels so big and noticeable when feet are out in front.
The first few weeks, I was still washing clothes by hand before I remembered I could put them in my washer and dryer.
I have been pinching myself. I see everything through new eyes – it’s fun. I keep saying, what would my Thai friends’ think about this? The dog park.
What a strange concept, right? Or, the illegal plastic bag. In Seattle, when you buy groceries, you have to pay 5 cents for a paper bag (plastic bags is illegal) – so, you have to bring your own shopping bag, luckily I have several. The skate park, which is cool too.
I am embarrassed about the wealth evident everywhere. The stores are amazing. I can browse entire stores full of healthy organic food and beauty and health products! They are so expensive. I took pictures- I literally walked the isles with my mouth open.
I want to stand in amazement instead of discouragement. However, I vowed never to go back to the Puget Sound Consumer Co-op (PCC). It is an organic food store which I have belonged to for decades. But, it has changed. The first three isles are full of wine. The health and beauty department has grown. It is all so expensive. I still think in Thai baht. I could spend my entire monthly Peace Corps salary in Thailand in just one day in America, and have.
Americans are BIG people -everything is big in America. I miss the smallness of people and small spaces of Thailand. The Ballard community in Seattle, (where my house is) has changed so much. The bars are huge, beautiful, very attractive works of visual pleasure … great for selfies I am sure. So much of the land and old buildings (loved them) and old family-owned retailers (love them too) are gone. Now there are so many big boxes masquerading as apartments. Many buildings have come down to make way for five story rental, retail buildings. The urban village concept has gotten out of control and the race to build the biggest and tallest apartments is facing new challenge. People are voicing the need for a human scale to encourage connection. Change is coming. But, I can still drive to Ballard and find free parking!
a totally “green” apartments- well done
I have not seen a movie in English on the big screen in two years! The two movies I have seen so far are Divergent and Noah. I highly recommend both.
Haley poses near Ballard public library
Last night I went to my favorite park one mile from my house and ate takeout Mexican food and watched the sunset, with a friend. I was so excited to see sea lions lumbering in the salt-water bay by I “barked” at them, only to notice others “barking” at the giant fish eaters too. I am blessed to live in one of the most beautiful areas in Seattle. Close to water, parks, movie theatre, shopping, (six miles from the heart of downtown Seattle) and the nation’s largest marine community.
Golden Gardens Park
My sadness of missing Thai friends and the country’s laid back culture, turns to joy when I think about the honor it is to live in two worlds. I am happy to belong to two cultures and see the richness of the world more now.
I am blessed to be in America to say what I wish and dress and dance anyway I wish. I can’t wait to have a dance party so I can shake free- but inside I am shaking and love my home. I have renewed gratitude for everything America has to offer and feel so lucky to live here. I have more appreciation too, just sitting on my front porch looking at the cherry blossoms. Still the same quiet neighborhood.
my dad, step- mom, brother and his family
I have renewed relationships with friends and find in many ways we share similar thoughts on family and work challenges.
my mom and step-dad
homeless man on pink couch
I am surprised to have taken to the joy of driving so quickly. At first I had to think, what side? Then, the amazing feeling of freedom!
It reminded me of when I turned 18 and graduated from high school. I feel utter freedom.
I did some commercial work for a lawyer friend recently, and earned some money. Here is a pic with his new toy. Talk about culture shock.
It was not disgusting to me though – but just reminded me of what money does… you can buy things. Material things. I don’t have attachment to them, so what? My Peace Corps experience has reinforced the idea that I want to simplify my life and not accumulate more. Living away from my house and all my “belongings” proved that I don’t need much. I didn’t miss anything until I started opening boxes and memories came flooding in. The memories had a sadness to them as the impermanence and fragility of life hit me. None of this is “mine.” I am only here for a short time. The recent tragedy in Oso, a community about one hour from Seattle, reminded me, our lives can end at any time, and that many things in our lives are filled with, the material and immaterial (what our mind thinks) are really just distractions… distractions from connecting with the moment, connecting with people, life. That’s where I feel alive.
I feel more grounded and confident. I have greater acceptance and ease about myself, and in accepting others, and the conditions of the world. I am less reactive. I am able to feel a connection with almost everyone – they are part of my extended family. Serving in the Peace Corps helped me to grow from the inside out.
man walking his dog near leek field
Now, in America, I find everyone (most everyone) is friendlier and kinder than I remember. What has changed? Is it because my heart has grown? Am I giving more people a chance, a break, acceptance, am I seeking to connect?
What is it about Thailand that has opened me? It is a gentler, kinder and more relaxed culture. People smile more there, look in your eyes and connect. We take time to take time. There is time for talk, tea, sitting. For all these reasons, I am being fed.
a recent scouting adventure
Life in Thailand continues to be an expansion of my Dharma practice. There is more life to live there. That is why I am going back for a year and maybe more beyond. That is why I rented my house for two years.
my great new renters, Dan and Rachel
I am not sure where the years ahead will take me. Teaching English? Living the Dharma practice at a monastery? Travel? I do know what I want my life to be about – awakening, connecting and not turning away from what is now- reinforcing the reality we are all connected with everything.
my beautiful neighbor, Christina
And, now, at this time, this particular time in history, the planet and every living thing – needs us to live the truth of connection. I would like to have a planet for future children to live and thrive in, don’t you? I want to live with the intention of trusting and turning toward connecting rather than what fear creates: ignoring, turning away, isolating, separation. I believe we can save the plant and all life, don’t you?
So, thank you! You have all played a part and continue to be part of my life. For that, I am very grateful! Life is not to fear but to jump into. So, today I am jumping! So, go ahead and jump. Jump. Jump jump jump.