Many years ago, I was chatting with an old college friend and he confided that he always felt like one of the keys to a perfect life was eluding him.
“What do you mean?” I said.
“Well, there are four pillars, so to speak, what you need in order to be happy or feel complete. There’s work, home, friends and family, and a romantic relationship.”
“So I might be in a great relationship, have plenty of friends, and a great apt, but my job sucks.”
I started laughing.
“Sometimes you get two out of four, or you get close and have three out of four, but I’ve never had four out of four.”
Last year was a one out of four.
To be fair, sometimes getting three of out of four is fine. In fact, it might be what you need. For example, maybe you don’t need a romantic relationship, or friends and family are a distraction right now as you are going through a deep change, or you’re working hard on a project. So I understand what he was saying, and I realize your four might be different than his four.
WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK…
Being content, feeling fulfilled, and appreciated at the job is HUGE. I’ve had so many jobs that one of the books I hope to write one day will be about work. And the more I’ve moved around and seen of this joint (pulls up imaginary belt buckle), the more I understand how much work is a relationship. Each place has its own culture too, its own set of rules spoken and unspoken.
And when you’re the constant newbie, the outsider, you peek in from a different perspective. You also get to see what people consider “normal” behavior and practices because “this is the way we’ve always done things.” Every workplace is also dysfunctional! Or if it’s not dysfunctional, you’re like, okay, what’s wrong with this place? When’s it going to happen?
It’s too soon to tell how much my work environment is going to improve, but so far, it looks promising.
HOME SWEET HOME
When we moved to Chiang Rai a friend had found a place for us to crash. I wasn’t entirely happy with the place, but I was grateful. Then when we decided we were going to leave town, we stopped looking for a better apartment.
When we came out to Rayong on a scouting trip, I was optimistic we would find an apartment due to the sheer amount of choices I saw online. But I became discouraged after a very hot day of walking around. Then it happened. We got into the same apt our friend was at! We put down a small deposit and they held it for a couple of months.
I can’t tell you the stress it takes off when you are moving to a new town. We were ecstatic. It was pretty much what we envisioned as well – swimming pool, gym, close to work and shopping, clean and safe.
Rayong is not nearly as green or small as CR. It’s a business hub outside of Bangkok so people come from different parts of the country. In other words, folks are here to work. I rather like that even if it’s a concrete jungle. And Rayong has certainly made up for it with the number of shopping centers. As they say about Asia, shopping here is a full-contact sport.
To be clear, I’m not saying it’s perfect, and I realize my new life here is at the beginning. Yet something that I’ve come to recognize is what’s a good fit for me may not be for you, and vice versa. Some folks were trying to make me second-guess my decision to move here. But I laughed it off, you can too.
LIVIN’ VIDA LOCA
I haven’t had a proper social life since I left Chiang Mai back in 2013. After the first few years of being an expat wore off, once I was in a long term relationship, and after I decided to focus on writing, being social wasn’t a priority.
This isn’t to say I never go out because I do. It’s just I’m more a homebody than anything else. I’ve never been a big partier. But I’m good about keeping in touch. I’m also the kind of gal who likes to have a close friend or two, and we do stuff that isn’t centered on drinking or going to the clubs.
Part of the problem is I’m quite comfortable doing my own thing. I don’t mind being alone. I like reading in bed. I attribute this to spending a good chunk of my preteen years living in a desolate town with nobody to play with and nothing to do. And I’ve definitely experienced dry spells of singlehood in which I’ve learned (the hard way) to be an independent woman while wondering when Mr. Darcy would show up. (He never did, instead, I got Mr. Bean. Sometimes you think you know what you want, but…)
BODY, MIND & SOUL
If I could add another key element to happiness, it would be your health. I feel incredibly blessed that I’ve never had any major health problems. (knock on wood!) I have a cyst on the back of my neck that appeared during my first year away at college, but it’s nothing. In my twenties, I had a breast cancer scare, so I know what it’s like to have a mammogram and go through that. UGH. The doctor found a lump in my left breast, but I tried to tell him, “No, that is my breast.” And sure, I’ve had my broken bones, stitches, and wisdom teeth removed, but all in all, I’ve been lucky.
When we lived in CR, my only form of exercise was walking which was better than nothing, but not good enough. Now, we swim, go to the gym, walk, and just as importantly I can cook healthy meals for us in our kitchen. Health is a huge priority. I wish I had made it so ever earlier in life because like most people my health nut phases have been spotty.
Priorities for this year are (in no particular order):
- The blog – Last year, I was getting my memoir finished, so everything else was put on the back burner. But this year, I’m putting the memoir away because I’m sick of it and I need to restructure a few things. The blog, however, is really for me, and as I venture more into the world of writing, I’m realizing how important it is to have a place for me to connect and create without the gatekeepers.
- Short fiction stories – current writing obsession. I’m enjoying playing with my own ideas, but also getting inspiration from writing prompts and contests. I feel like there’s a massive learning curve for me, but at the same time, the feedback so far is I have the basic bones down, just need to continue to work on the flavor of the stew.
- Getting back in shape. Some of my dresses are tight around the sleeves. Seriously. I have wings. Nothing like a handful of arm fat to get you back in the gym!
- Having a more relaxed attitude towards everything. For some reason, I was chill during our move and our transition. I found myself saying “Everything’s going to be okay” more often. I’d like to keep this up.
Happy Chinese New Year! What are your priorities for 2019?