Steady my wayfarer spirit.

Part 1:


I arrived to Bangkok via the overnight train and enjoyed every minute of the 16 hour journey! I had 12 hours to kill in Bangkok before my flight to Hanoi, so I took the BTS metro to Lumphini park first. I always make an effort to find parks in cities and walk around barefoot for a bit to feel connected to the land. I pottered around the lake in the park and watched the giant monitor lizards swim gracefully from rock to rock. After a few hours reading and people watching, I found a Starbucks to sit and grab some wifi. Sipping on my soy mocha frappe, I checked bank account balances to make sure I would be able to get to Hanoi hassle free before my friend Kelsey arrived the next day in Vietnam. You see, towards the end of the month every month my funds are always super tight and at that point, I had been missing my USA and UK bank card after losing them in Pai. So my money situation was a bit dire, but Kelsey had met up with my dad in Virginia when she went back home for part of the long October break and she was planning on bringing my new bank card and some cash my dad so lovingly put in a mini care package. So all I had to do was make sure I had enough money to get me to Vietnam and pay the $25 visa entrance fee at the airport. Well time was ticking and after counting up my baht, I realised in a shocked panic that I did not have enough baht to convert to the $25! I got angry with myself for leaving chiang mai without thinking of this. I used the cheapest mode of transportation from where I was to get to the Don Mueng airport in Bangkok, trains and buses until I was there, sweaty, nervous, panicked. Surely if I did not have the finances to get through immigration, this trip would implode. "Okay, I'll just wait at immigration at the airport all night for Kelsey to arrive if I have to." I came up with a plan A, B and C to keep my mind calm and my panic subdued. It was time to board the plane to Hanoi. And then I realised, I hadn't even converted the Baht I had to dollars! Why was I struggling so much mentally on this trip? As we boarded the plane, I sank into my seat, feeling helpless and wildly frustrated. As I sat, I took several deep breaths as my soul sister Hannah from Belfast would tell me to do. I thought of her intensely in that moment and how she always has an "everything will be okay. You will get through this" attitude. I don't know what possessed me to do it, but I turned to the woman in the seat next to me and asked her if she had pre-paid for her entrance visa to Vietnam or if she was planning to pay on arrival. She explained that Chile didn't have to pay a visa fee into Vietnam and she asked me where I was from and what was wrong. I explained my situation and she too reassured me that everything would be ok. Then a head in the seat directly in front of me turned and a tall gentleman began speaking to me. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I have my credit card, but no one at the airport In Bangkok would let me withdraw money to get out for the Vietnam visa, so I'm in the same boat with you! If there's an ATM at the airport in Vietnam, I'll pay for yours too no problem at all! You don't want to come all this way for nothing!" He said and smiled. A wave of nauseous relief came over me and my cloud lifted. I thanked him immensely and secretly thanked Hannah in my thoughts for instilling me with her cool cucumber mentality. We landed in Hanoi and my heart began to palpitate again as myself and jake from the seat in front of me looked for an ATM. And there it was! Shiny and blue and beautiful! He smiled, gave me a high five and took out the money. We submitted our visa forms and had a relaxed chat as we waited for our passports back. I love people. Genuinely, when people show kindness and compassion it makes me so proud to be a human. I knew I would be paying this and so many other kind gestures forward because if I could fill another person with the sort of relief and love that I was feeling while waiting for my passport, then I would do it every time. We got our visas and agreed to meet up if we both were in Hanoi again at the same time before parting ways. I made my way to an exchange counter and turned my Baht to Dong, booked a shared taxi, and made my way to the hostel I was supposed to be meeting Kelsey and her friend Zoe the following day. After a hot shower and a few messages to my parents to let them know I arrived safely, I passed out for the night.

Part 2:


The next day, Kelsey arrived to our hostel and I gave her the biggest hug. She has become my side kick and overall soul companion in chiang mai since we work together and see each other every day all day.  We exchanged stories from our October break and she gave me the package from my dad. I wasn't expecting this; he had packed a lovely card, my ATM card, cash, and my favourite thing of all: photos of my family and I. My heart throbbed. I missed my family. The images took me back to their visit while I was living in Belfast, my return trip home in March and sweet moments that were uniquely ours. My dad is THE best. Kelsey and I headed out on the town for a day of exploring. Zoe wouldn't be arriving until late that night, so we had plenty of time to get acquainted with this fascinating city. It was colourful and LOUD!! People honking for seemingly no reason, people yelling down streets, music blaring from various bars and shops. This was very different from Thailand, and the smells! I think it smells of incense and stale curry powder here if you can imagine that. We looked at a map and made our way to a lake that looked really close by. When we arrived to the lake, we realised that this was very much the hub to the city. Buskers played mandolins and other instruments, women carrying heavy baskets of snacks approached, cyclos (a chariot pushed by a man bicycling behind you) whizzed by. We beamed and headed to the lake to take a silly selfie, but as we sat on the ledge of the lake, groups of young people kept approaching us to practice their English! This definitely doesn't happen in Thailand! We obliged and group after group came up to interview us about our lives in Thailand and America. We met some seriously interesting people in that impromptu hour and a half! After we said our goodbyes, we walked on and watched the sun set behind the bridge on the lake. We made our way back to the hostel and got ready for a night out on the town. Bars are more or less the same all over the world, so we saw what you would expect to see, bright lights, loud music, club girls trying to corral people into their establishments, more tourist-seeking buskers and so on. After a few drinks and cool conversations with strangers, we headed back to our hostel. Zoe had arrived and we introduced ourselves before I snuck away upstairs to pass out.

Sapa:

The next morning, I had a rough morning as my blood sugar dropped in the middle of the night and I woke up to Kelsey feeding me Oreos. I hate when this sort of thing happens (seems more and more out here in Asia these days) but in that moment she was feeding me with such grace and giggling at me squeaking with delight and horizontal dancing as she fed my face. Low blood sugars make you do weird things. We both began to laugh as my blood sugar started to climb. I quickly recovered, showered and then met up with Kelsey and Zoe downstairs. I was properly able to meet Zoe this time and I adored her aura! She is from South Africa and had been teaching in Thailand for the past year which is how she met Kelsey before. the three of us headed out to the city to find cheap package deals for Sapa and Halong Bay. We booked our trip and realised we had a few hours to walk around before our bus left. We ate a delicious Vietnamese lunch where I had vegan Pho (pronounced like fuh) for the first time! It was delicious and filling! We spoke of our experiences in Thailand and I asked Zoe tons of questions about South Africa. I was learning so much about a place I never knew a lot about. After grabbing a glass of wine and laughing for a good while on a rooftop cafe, we headed back to the hostel to get picked up for Sapa. The buses were decked out with bunk beds and blankets which I wasn't expecting for a 6 hour drive. I made a nest for myself in a bottom bunk and fell asleep. We woke up in Sapa, a mountain town that is often foggy and VERY chilly! Luckily I had bought a coat in Hanoi because this was the first time I had felt that cold in the past...year! I forgot that that was even a feeling! We were taken to a lodge where we got free breakfast and rain boots to prepare for a day of trekking. The actual town of Sapa reminded me of a ski lodge in Canada on the off season with no snow. The architecture was very rustic, wooden, cabin-y and picturesque. We put on our Wellies and joined a group of two couples to begin the trek. Our guide was named Moon, a gorgeous and wildly intellectual 17 year old. I couldn't get over how beautiful she was, her skin was the most copper, gold Id ever seen and she knew 6 languages fluently just from living in her tribal village and working with so many tourists. We followed Moon as she led us down several hills and gardens. The terrain began to change and the stiff ground turned to mud! We slid and squashed through forests (with pine trees!) and jungle landscapes, passing water filled rice paddies and more rolling hills. Our group consisted of a couple from the Netherlands and a couple from Canada, we all made our way at our own pace, talking and sharing travel experiences. I zoned out and began snapping photos of every breathtaking thing I saw; wild pigs, women in tribal clothes carrying cloth-wrapped babies on their backs, wild water buffalo, greenery, misty mystique. I don't think I can ever describe the landscape to do it justice! Everything was magical like a Vietnamese fairy tale enchanted forest back drop. We trekked for hours, sweating and covered in mud before arriving to one of the many native tribe villages. We saw the crowds of tourists in their trekking groups gathered in a crowed pavilion where lunch was being served. The women of that village swarmed around us as we sat trying to eat our meals. My heart began to race, we couldn't even enjoy the meal because these women would not let up. Bags were shoved in our faces, scarves were held up, bracelets, nick knacks, it was all a bit much. We lowered our eyes and tried to finish our food. Kelsey, Zoe and I caved and paid for one thing each as clearly these women wouldn't leave us be until we obliged. This aspect of the trip (the persistent Vietnamese women selling goods) really helped me to look at my own way of pushing things on people. I feel like I have always been persistent, some may describe it as unbearably so; but it wasn't until I felt the utter discomfort with being squawked at by these strangers that I realised there's a point where persistence for the point of persuasion isn't okay. This was a jarring realisation, but as I thought more about my own life and interactions I've had, I was grateful for the learning experience. After lunch, we trekked on until we reached our homestay on the mountain. The homestay we arrived at was gorgeous! We stayed with a family that brought us into their kitchen to cook Vietnamese food; spring rolls, fried tofu, and yummy veg. We were offered 'Happy water' post dinner and drank up as we sang karaoke in the house's living room. After belting out more songs than any of us had planned, we fell asleep awaiting tomorrow's trek and a return to Hanoi.

Halong Bay:

After returning to Hanoi, the three of us got ready for our trip to Halong Bay. I was running late of course and the bus driver was NOT happy. Like screaming at me in Vietnamese and cursing our names. It made me realise the importance of being punctual (many reminders but this one really hit me) and also the importance of keeping your cool whilst things around you implode. We drove for three hours to Halong Bay and as we stepped off the bus, the briney air hovered around me. I love the sea. It is the one place I always feel at peace. We boarded our boat where we would be sleeping for the night and were given room keys to our cozy cabin. While on the boat, I met a man from Italy named Davide who was really enjoyable to talk to. We decided to share a kayak and row along the bay and Kelsey and Zoe shared a boat as well. Davide was such a good sport answering all my questions about Italy (a place I have never been to but am thinking of moving to after Thailand), we chatted about politics, religion, immigration, Valentino Rossi, food, travel, and so much more. As the sun began to set, we rowed back to the big boat and jumped off the docks into the bay for a swim. The water was perfectly salty and I floated along looking at the sky above. 'How did I get here? To a life that continually fills me with wonder and awe?' I asked myself as the fishes jutted in and out of my legs. We got back on the boat and and had a lovely dinner before happy hour. The boat had a karaoke machine and foosball table which Kelsey and I enjoyed thoroughly while very tipsy. We played a few games with the captain of the boat who steered with his feet. After lovely late night chats with the ladies in our cabin and a few knocks at the door to, "be quiet", we headed to sleep. The next morning, I was the only one to jump into the water for a morning swim and it left me feeling re-energised, fresh and excited for the next activity. We all climbed into these small bowl-looking boats that was rowed by a gentleman who whistled and sang Vietnamese songs. I wanted to sit in silence and just take it all in. This landscape was like nothing I had seen before. We got rowed through caves, jungle mountains and the sunniest of spots on the bay before heading back to the boat. Once back aboard, we made lunch for ourselves on the boat and packed our things to get ready to go. Halong Bay was a little message sent to me from the universe. I saw how important it was for me to go and see Italy finally. Before it would have been too early. The moment must not have been right, and I must trust that. When we arrived back to Hanoi, we had one last night where the three of us bought gloriously obnoxious shirts and went out for drinks. I was woken up the next morning by the hostel worker to catch my van to the airport. And just like that, this trip was over. 

Friendships like those with Kelsey and the other people I have met in Chiang Mai have really helped me to focus on what's really important. I love feeding these connections because time spent with any of my friends is something that makes me feel so very full.

With the holidays coming up, I'm excited to see what other travels, adventures, and situations I get myself into.

Until next time, follow that feeling,

-DW

365 Days Later.

So it's been a bit of an impromptu time away from blogging and all multimedia. I must admit I had avoided all things creative for a good few months due to my own hangups. I hit a wall. Distractions. New friends. Lazyness. Poor discipline. Fear. Whatever you want to call it; I felt a pang of melancholy whenever I picked up my camera. Memories of a past life working for my images and videography clashed with my reality of being a full time teacher in a new city with new distractions.

I feel like I'm awake after six months of being buried alive. Yesterday was September 27th...exactly one year since I stepped off that flight in Bangkok. It was a sudden realisation that I had been in this strange place for a full 365 days. How could this be? Time goes on. That's the only certainty there is really. Whether you're participating in it or not. 

After several blissful months of settling into my teaching job, making new friends, traveling to new places like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, being rushed to the hospital for low blood sugars, buying my own motorbike, starting and stopping new projects, being in financial ruin, and enjoying every minute of this mad life, I decided to refocus my mind. 

"What is it you want?" I would ask myself. "And how do you get there?"

Well here I am. It was time to emerge from the weird creative slump and so I have made a new deal with myself. I must continue to grow in my craft. I must continue to not back down from the dream of working full time to be a visual artist. I have plans of making a name for myself one day, big or small, it doesn't matter. All I want to do is create. And share. And storytell. This can't happen if my camera is never with me or if I never spend the time to write or edit. SO things must change.

365 days is a long time to be waffling about. But sometimes we need a bit of a lull to knock some sense into ourselves. I am back at the gym and Hugh and I go most days which has helped my energy levels. I'm looking for new ways to meet other creative people in Chiang Mai and actually properly connect with them. I've enrolled in business and entrepreneur seminars to help further my business plans, and I'm learning when to ask for help. It's a start. We all have to restart from somewhere from time to time. It's a humbling experience to reflect back on where you were and see where you are now, but perhaps this will be the motivation I need to surpass where I ever was.

I've missed creativity. And free expression. So slowly but surely, I'm coming back. Please be gentle with me as I navigate this space.

Life in Chiang Mai is lovely, but I know I must push myself out of my routines. I guess no one told me how much teaching would ware my energy levels down. With 6am starts and 4pm finishes, I had been feeling like there was nothing left in the tanks when I got home. The gym has helped a lot with this debacle and I can honestly say that although challenging at times, this is by far one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had in my life. When your day revolves around interacting with kids, it does something to you. Makes you look at life a little differently. I'm far happier when I'm able to let my inner child come screaming out in a tornado of wild laughter, goofy faces, and loving hugs. My kids at school have completely changed the woman I once was. And for that I'm eternally grateful.

In any case, here's a few quick things I've learned in the last 365 days, I hope these life lessons will resonate with you in some shape or form.

It feels great to be back into this productive mindset and I can't wait to share more of my journey with you in due time.

From my jungle to yours,

-DW 

When life gives you lemons, make fucking vegan lemon streudel!

So this post will be a reflective piece. No photos (I'm a busy woman ya'll...eventually I'll get around to posting new images, but for now I want to write and let some things out).

so the last post I made was before I was supposed to leave Belfast and head back to Thailand. In a strange twist of fate, my passport didn't return from the Thai embassy in London in time with my new visa, so I had to miss my flight and extend the trip in Belfast for another week and a half!

part of me was gutted and devastated for missing Songkran festival with Pat and his family, but part of me secretly knew the universe had something else in store. It wasn't time to leave just yet. It was too early and there was unfinished business in Belfast.

I of course did not budget for how expensive the trip to the west would be on my thai salary-savings, so I knew I had to get creative and make some money fast while in Belfast. I reached out to a good photography friend Joe Laverty and he brought me on to help shoot a wedding in Dublin! How fortuitous, how kind, how magical! I hadn't worked for my photography in ages and to be fair, it was quite intimidating, but also completely natural and invigorating!

I was able to sell some things on Gumtree and get some work in London as well to add to the finances. The UK is a special sort of place that can make you feel so helpless one moment, and then like a complete badass the next. 

I enjoyed having more time with Hannah and Corneilus and other friends that I hadn't expected to see. I spent the remainder of my time in Belfast reflecting. Thinking of the past, thinking of my present and setting plans for my future.

I reached out to a couple of people that I was really secretly painfully hoping would respond to my messages. But they did not. We all have our reasons. Our baggage. Our truth. Our side of a story. Our motivations. Our hurt. Our willingness to be open. I understood. Truly. This whole "meeting people where they are in life" exercise has really helped me to let go of the deep hurt and pain that I used to suffer from when things didn't go my way. The Thai people say 'sabai sabai' which is like the 'hakuna mattada' of their culture. and so I let it be. I believe that when we connect with people throughout our lives, there is always the structure of a bridge between the two people. Over time, the slats in the bridge or the stone or whatever material may break away over time, but the external structures of the bridge will forever remain. A few of my bridges are evergreen, covered in lush vegetation and brand new wooden slats the whole way across....and a couple of my bridges with people are the bare bones of rusted iron pieces. But the structures are still there. I used to hold onto the idea of working with people to rebuild the middle bits to meet them in the middle maybe sometime in the future, but where I am now in life, I'm just grateful for those rusted iron pieces that are out there somewhere. A relic. a reminder of what once was. Some people never make deep connections and therefore have no bridges. Even if abandoned and rotting away, I'm grateful for those bridges. 

I learned a lot more about myself and relationships during my time in Belfast. I saw friends in their relationships and it made me point a mirror on myself. I know what I want and I know what I don't want. I want equality. Full transparency. Independence. Commitment. Delight. Awe. I want to be the woman in a relationship that runs with wolves. Isn't afraid to barre my teeth and show my claws when things aren't just; but who knows when to put my defenses down in order to truly HEAR my partner. I don't think I've been a good listener in the past. I'm working on this.

I also want to be with a vegan man. I told a new friend about this at the hostel I'm currently staying at and he laughed at me. I didn't show it, but my heart broke. Why do people laugh or think it a BIG ask to want to find someone who truly GETS my core? of course I want other things in life besides veganism...I mean I've met some vegans who are quite frankly assholes haha. But it's a starting point. And I don't think I want to be in a place in life where I never get to experience that. I've been broken down from this last relationship and rebuilt into a new version of myself; which is exactly what I had wanted when I first came to Thailand. I'm learning to say "no" and be okay with being a little pickier with the people who I invite into my private life. 

so fast forward to a stressful airport trip from Europe back to Thailand! And here I am. In Chiang Mai! Hugh met me at the gate of his hostel and I ran and gave him a big hug. I missed the big goofball! In the few days I've been back over here, I've made fast and intense friendships, swapped travel stories, sent love beams into some beautiful souls and explored this familiarly new city. 

Hugh and I have a house now! well...sort of. 

we haven't moved in yet...but it's a proper HOUSE! with a HUGE yard that I plan to plant tons of veggies in, make a sister garden, hang a hammock on the mango tree and sit out the front porch to watch the sunrise. When Hugh and I went to look at the house it began to rain. thick, heat-beating rain that cut through the oppressive heat. We looked at each other simultaneously and felt the luck. "We'll take it." we said and the deal was struck.

So now here I am trying to get my affairs in order, sorting out furniture for the house, making plans to rent a car so we can trek back to Mae Sai and visit Pat and Hugh's landlady and get our things. I think a return to Mae sai will be lovely.

I visited the Dara Academy where I'll be working for the next year. I know teaching English isn't my career path or even close to what I want to be doing in the future, but a year saving up money and preparing for switching to full-time photography will be a LOT easier with this new job since the pay is better! The Dara Academy was magical. My new boss Martin greeted me at the gates and showed me around. I walked through the courtyard and the BIGGEST tree I've ever seen in my life rose several stories above us, a canopy blocking out the sky. I felt like I was in that movie Avatar...and I knew this was the place for me. I think the tree and I will become very familiar with each other this next year.

So. Thailand. May we have new memories, new challenges, new learning experiences, new thoughts, new feelings, new opportunities. I look forward to having visitors this time around. And honestly if anyone out there wants to visit, I'll have a spot waiting for you. Fresh veg in the garden, cushions on the floor, vegan food, a bomb housemate, music blaring and good times awaiting ;)

I'm happy I was able to go back to the places in the west that resonated with me because now I can truly see that I can never be and will never be the same woman that I was when I lived in those places. The life of a traveler is a special one. Intense, challenging, beautiful, completely unique from person to person. And I'm forever grateful for the choices I've made.

Have faith in what you are given and trust your gut because the answer has always been inside of us you know?

From my hostel with chickens, bunnies, dogs and a friendly porcupine, I'm sending you my love. I look forward to sharing this next chapter with you all. Continue doing what you love, be open to learning more about yourself and others, and may you find a moment in time where all you feel....is bliss.

-DW

United States of _________

After just settling back into the groove of Belfast life, I was whisked away again across the Atlantic to see my friends and family in America.

My dad picked me up from Dulles International airport and a flood of memories from three years ago and flying to a new life overseas returned to me. Oh man it was great to see my dad! My rock, my Anam Cara.

We wasted no time and headed to Busboy and Poets (our favorite DC eatery with Vegan food!) and Jennifer joined us for great chats, retold stories and great food. 

Being back in America was an odd one. Very telling I think. I rented a car and made a point to visit my childhood home and take some photos. I also managed to see my brother at work and give him a hug (who knows when the next time I'll see him will be) before carrying on my road trip journey to Pittsburgh to visit Claire.

It had been a while since I'd seen Claire and we had a lovely time catching up, going to exercise classes, meeting her group of Pittsburgh friends and visiting the Mattress factory museum. It really hit me how differently we had evolved since childhood, but the friendship connection was still there despite our independent differences.

After Pittsburgh, I returned the rental car in DC and jetsetted to Colorado to meet Cheryl! I love Denver despite it being land locked and a little chilly, but the food and good conversations make up for that! Cheryl and I visited the huge art museum in Dnever where my creative juices began to flow again. Then off for vegan breakfasts before meeting more of her friends. Cheryl's friendship means the world to me and I feel like I can truly speak freely about my thoughts and feelings. Her veganism and passion for social justice is part of the binding glue that surrounds our friendship with love.

The trip to Denver was magical, but short. I was headed back to DC to say my last goodbyes and return to Belfast for another week before moving onwards again. I noticed while in America that many people seemed to be heavy or unhappy. Perhaps it was a mistake in my observations, but I hadn't remembered this 'heaviness' before. I feel like the journey back 'home' allowed me to work at meeting people where they are in life. Without judgement, without disappointment, but with deeper love, empathy and patience to hear what is being said.

I'm back in the city with Hannah and company. Every day waking up here has felt so right and easy. I look forward to seeing old friends and chosen family. Times at the beach with Corneilus up the north coast, potluck vegan food get togethers, lingerie photo shoots, collaborative projects, tipsy pub conversations, musical drum circles, gut busting laughs.

In two days time, I'll be off on my first leg back to Thailand. 36 hour layover in Oslo Norway, Bangkok, then Chiang Mai where I'll be staying for the next year. I look forward to living with Hugh and learning more about how we are as people.

so until we meet again,

-DW

When St. Patrick Cast Out The Snakes, Blackbird Returned.

It's 7am and I've just woken up to my first day back in Belfast! Hannah, Corneilus and Dani greeted me at Dublin airport with signs, sunflowers, chocolate and hugs that would bring a smile to the faces of even the grumpiest of travelers!

I had envisioned this return for weeks, and here I am, in the sobering cold of my old country. I've woken up next to Corneilus in Hannah's living room. We sit listening to the pitter-patter of the grey rain outside as we sip on Burmese tea (the same bag I sent Hannah a few months ago while in Thailand!). 

Little reminders of the "realness" of my stay here are in my face while at Hannah's. My GIANT photo from the Holi celebration hangs proudly in her kitchen. Prints from the city I had given here are in her bathroom and on the walls of her flat.

this was real. This life I've lived.

We ate vegan pizza from Pizza Paradise last night (ahhh the sweet familiar taste of my go-to eatery!) had wine, and bonding conversations to ease me back into the Western world.

Last night my mind was banging from being able to hear all the English conversations. The old familiar cadence of the beautiful accents of my friends.

How can I explain to you what this place means to me? This is where I fell in love. Love with photography, fell in love with my friends, fell in love with nature-based spirituality. Fell in love with who I was as a woman. All I feel is love here. And it wraps around me; a warm blanket in this frosty weather.

Happy St. Patrick's day folks! (this is the 4th st. Patrick's day I've spent in NI and I think it may become tradition now!) I'm off to adventure the countryside with good friends, good music and 40 shades of green all around me.

My heart is at peace, my soul is afire, and my heart is beaming at the possibilities.

To reunions, realizations, connections, and walks down paths once present.

All my love,

-DW

Phoenix Rising.

It's been a while old friend. Yet here we are again. Today is my last full day in Mae Sai before embarking on a jam packed tri-country journey. I'm not quite sad to leave this place because I will be returning to Thailand in April to live and work for a year in Chiang Mai! So things don't seem so "final" like they did when I was leaving Belfast. 

I will catch a bus to Chiang Rai tomorrow, Fly from there to Bangkok (maybe get a manicure and treat myself haha) then Fly to Dublin early on the 16th! I can't wait to be met by Corneilus and Hannah and my other chosen family members who my heart has been beating for these 6 months.

I feel like a different woman. Trials, tribulations, reflections, glee, acceptance, dreaming...all these little experiences compounded into a better understanding of myself and the ones around me. The friendships I've made here have truly surprised me. Hugh and I have grown so close in our friendship that we will live in a house together in Chiang Mai when we return for work in April. I'm excited to share a space and new memories with him. Who knew that us raggamuffins would bond like we have over these months. And the sweet, heartfelt chats with Ann, Hannah and Jody are ones I will hold dear to me forever.

It will be odd being back in the "west" and seeing how the pace of life really differs from this slow, balmy world.

On top of that, I'll be flying back to America to visit more friends and family (which is something I never thought I'd do in the next 4 years!). 

This teaching experience in Mae Sai has pushed me to limits I never knew I had as well as opened me up to accepting other things I never thought possible. I was a Blue woman leaving NI, feeling alone, frightened, unsure and just devoid of my authentic cheer. And here I am on th eother side of that fear and loathing; stronger, happier and excited for the life I'm living.

I cannot wait to continue this ongoing chapter of travel, work, loving, living, growing. 

Here's to rising to new heights.

-DW

Fear.

As I think about how I want to write this post, I can't help but be frustrated at my body. This vessel that I've known for 25 years has become a prison.

I spent the day with female coworkers, at our local coffee shop and then laying by a neighborhood pool. We chatted about every topic under the sun; gender, politics, love, loss, travel, growth, festivals...you name it.

I missed female bonding time. 

I don't know if it was from lack of food or from the abnormally hot temperatures today, but when I got home I could feel my blood sugar dropping.

I reheated some leftovers from the night before.

I retreated into my room preparing to eat my food and catch up on some news programs...but then it hit me.

Things stopped making sense. My head ached. Colorful kaleidoscope patterns blocked my vision. I felt my conscious self retreat deeper and deeper into my body and the "real world" soared further away from me in the distance. Like a pinhole of light that I was struggling to keep hold of.

After thrashing about and beating myself in the head, yanking tufts of my hair, I ended up in the bathroom.

Perhaps my subconscious self was calling for help. Knew that I wouldn't make THIS one out unscathed. I turned on the shower.

"water will wake me up. break me from this darkness"

The next thing I know I had ripped the pipe in my shower clean off the wall and a bullet force of water sprayed in my torso. The floor began to flood. I was fully clothed, drowning on my bathroom floor. A foot of water pooled around me.

"this isn't how I die." I told myself defiantly. 

I saw a bright light. And then another. A calm came over me. I felt as though I had solved the mysteries of the universe. In that moment of darkness I saw circles and infinity symbols.

Pat heard the thrashing.

"Dalyce!? You okay?" he said.

found in a pool in my bathroom. He turned off the water and pulled me out into the courtyard.

I screamed. I cried.

"I've found the answer, but no one will believe me!" I remember screaming this. I screamed for Hugh. I felt I had to tell him what I saw in the darkness. My mind was trapped in my body. I knew I sounded crazy. I knew Pat was scared. I knew I was embarrassed. But my body would not listen.

Soaking wet, a puddle of water collecting around me on the cement.

"Sugar! Pat! Sugar Low! Please Help!" I cried.

He ran and got my juice and test kit. My room was flooded.

I saw tears in his eyes. Phone calls were made.

I sat in a heap gulping juice and soda as if my very existence depended on it.

'Dalyce for FUCKS sake!' I scolded myself internally. 'You really fucked up this time'.

I closed my eyes and leaned against the side of my bungalow.

Slowly, I felt myself grasping the reality of the white light on the horizon. My limbs returned to me. My body shaking violently, I began to see the world around me with clearer eyes.

Pat told me to stay there.

He had called my agent and Hugh.

I'm happy he waited to see if I was okay to call the ambulance. I couldn't handle that I don't think.

When I felt my feet rooted firmly on this planet, I asked him what happened. I was soaking wet, my hair mangled and drenched. He told me he heard screaming and he thought I was possessed by the devil. He had never seen anything like that. And to be honest, I had never experienced anything that violent before. It felt like my own body had assaulted my senses.

It's Midnight now and I am comfortably back in my room, swaddled in dry clothes and cringing at the scene I must have made in my low state.

Diabetes has never scared me, but tonight was a truly enlightening experience. I am shaken. Wildly frustrated. and unsure of what 'god's' plan for giving me this disease was. Tonight I saw death. That wasn't the frightening bit. It was the trapped in my body fighting to escape that has shaken my core.

I write this out as a reflection. A step in healing or understanding. Trauma takes the shape of many experiences and I'm sure tonight will be one for the memories.

Thank you for listening, for reading. I'd like to sit with these reflections for a little while before I return to post anything else. I hope you'll understand.

To my friends, to my family, to the ones I carry in my heart, I love you.

-DW