Quicksand economies, medical crises, personal blows, you name it, there’s no shortage of external and internal factors that can cause us to reevaluate how we live our lives. A couple of years ago, I had a wake up call when I realized, like really realized, how much my mom and I are different, how our values could not be more far apart.
I still hold these things to be dear. So why bring this up now? Well, even though my values are the same, I’ve changed, the world has changed, and I feel the intensity of how much my values mean to me. If you’ll humor me, I’d like to talk about each one in turn briefly to possibly get you thinking about your values, too.
For too long I’ve compromised on beauty. I’ve chosen (by circumstances, yes) to live in cities that do not share this same value. I badly want to do something about this. I mean, as much as I can make my home a space of visual peace, I want to be able to walk in nature again. We’re increasingly okay with ugly landscapes, products, even slovenly dress, but I think it does more psychological harm than good.
Does beauty need to be defended? Yeah, well, if those spectacular concrete jungles are any indication of the direction we are heading, then yes, I believe beauty does need to be defended. I like to joke that in another life, I would have been a city planner because I think we have lost some of…Read More
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
The trade off though is I live in a safe city. Thailand’s pretty free of crime. It’s the kind of place where you could accidentally leave your bag, someone will chase you down to give it back, or you’ll find it where you left it. The news gives off a different vibe. We also don’t engage in risky motorbike driving or late night shenanigans. Funnily, I used to think that I didn’t live in that safe of a place. Hello, seasonal pollution, but 2020 changed my mind. We’re alright.
Safety became a priority for me when I moved to Ecuador – until then I took it for granted. Sure, Thailand’s traffic is sketchy, but amazingly, it usually works. Here every expat has a motorbike (or car) story, but in Ecuador it was a mugging. So as much as it’s a beautiful country, I wanted to go back to Thailand where I felt safe walking at night.
An American I met last night asked if I noticed any similarities between Thailand and Ecuador. Having been here only 6 days I told her I had. I made the move from Chiang Mai to Cuenca because I wanted a change. I hadn’t been living in CM for very long, just under a year, but…Read More
“Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless.” ― Author Unknown
I’d like to think that because I revere and respect creativity so much that this has allowed me to never run out of ideas, whether it’s in writing, work, or even cooking. But I think creativity cannot be isolated, it works together with cultivating independent thoughts and in conjunction with self-development.
I’m also a big problem solver. As soon as an issue hits, I’m spinning out idea after idea on how to fix it which sounds great, but in relationships I’ve had to learn that sometimes the other person just wants you to listen. But creative thinking is related to finding solutions and I’m a big believer in creativity to change the world for the better.
“Desirable views have a hint of mystery. We like to understand and enjoy what is happening around us, and to imagine that if we traveled from where we are into the unknown we would meet with pleasant surprises…” – Psychology Today When we first arrived back to Thailand, the skies were muddy and grey. They…Read More
“The creative adult is the child who survived.” — Ursula Leguin
My choices has centered around this value a great deal. I don’t have heavy responsibilities (mortgage, children, a managerial position), but I know that I’ve missed out on what profound things those responsibilities can bring, too. As I’ve gotten older I’ve had more time to second-guess my decisions and wonder ‘what-if’, but right now, I’m okay. I’m more of the “eccentric aunt who knits a sweater out of dog hair” than a “Judy with a van full shopping + kids”. [You see what I did there? I put shopping ahead of the kids.]
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. – Matsuo Basho I’ve done a lot of moving in my life in attempt to discover where I belong. I’ve moved from Portland, Oregon, down to Chico, California, then further still to Oceanside, California. And when we were fed up with the West Coast,…Read More
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” – Charlotte Bronte
If there’s one thing that I did right in my twenties, it’s educating myself to be a more forgiving and mindful person. One of the perks of a challenging upbringing is a strong desire to be different than your circumstances. Now, I don’t quite feel like the enlightened monk on the mountain top while the world burns, but I enjoy some moments of deep peace and happiness throughout my days. Stepping up my meditation practice has recently helped.
I’m binge watching Season 24 of America’s Next Top Model (don’t laugh). In fact, I’ve watched every season (not every episode though) because I’m a wannabe model. Funnily, I take really bad photos, but counteract this by making goofy faces, and accepting the fact that I’m not photogenic. But what has struck me, as I…Read More
“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” ― Henry David Thoreau
This has been the most difficult to achieve financially. No one’s going to take care of me unless I do it myself. And while I’ve started a teaching online side hustle, have self-published my own book and audiobook, and try to submit to paid writing gigs, it’s still not the cozy thousands that allow me utter freedom from 9 to 5. On the other hand, independence can mean mental and physical independence, too. I can proudly say I have those. I think plenty of introspection and self-development prevent me from too much tribe-think.
But actually I don’t know what it is. Perhaps we’re then shading into nature versus nurture. Perhaps most of our adult decisions are unconsciously made during childhood. My mom’s the family rebel. My grandma divorced her abusive husband and gained custody of their son which in 1960s China was practically unheard of as men traditionally got the children. So maybe it’s in the genes.
After I returned from the Great Marathon Race to Laos, I noticed that I fell out of my routine. That is to say, I was starting to have one. I think expats can easily sink into the quagmire pit of: drinking Chang beer at the Freedom Bar all day, sleeping until high noon, and slinking…Read More
“To find yourself, think for yourself.” ― Socrates
Taylor Pearson has a great post on values and a long list to help you choose yours. My friend Daisy also recently wrote about her process here. Finally, have a look around the web, there are plenty of lists out there to help get you started.
What are your values?