Archives for the month of: January, 2014

Right before I left Delaware 7 months ago I underwent some big changes, simplifying my life down to 5 boxes stored in my friends attic and the 18 kilo backpack that would be my companion for the next year or so. I sold my car, my furniture, and gave away a large majority of my wardrobe to friends and charities. In exchange I asked for donations for children I knew I would be volunteering with throughout my travels. This is an account of how these generous donations have been put into action across Asia. Thank you to everyone who donated their hard earned money. You can see through these pictures the impact that every bit has on the lives of those in need:

Children’s Orphanage (ages 6 months-8 years)- Nha Trang, Vietnam: $20 used to buy treats for their Christmas meal

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Local Village Elementary School (ages 2-11 years)- Koh Rong Samleom, Cambodia: $20 used purchase building supplies for their new classroom

Pictures to be posted soon

British Non-Profit – Phnom Penh, Cambodia: $20 used to used to purchase handwriting notebooks for kindergarten students in poor villages. This organization provides medical services, English classes, and fresh drinking water to squatter communities that are extremely poor.

Pictures to be posted soon

SEALAO nonprofit organization- Vang Vieng, Laos: $30 used to help support English classes given to local kids as well as sustainability and green education programs in the community. I volunteered as they set up a celebration at the local school for 200 villagers and students as a thank you for their ongoing kindness and support of the programs. The celebration included games for children and food from around the world. As a thank you the local elders blessed us in a cultural ceremony tying white string around our wrists for luck and gifting us snacks.

Pictures to be posted soon

To be continued…The intention is to find valuable organizations, volunteer with them to ensure the money is going directly to the cause intended, and then donate as appropriate. There is still more money I was entrusted with and will continue to update this post as I continue volunteering across Asia. Thank you again!

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1/13/14: Sunrise poetry

Rising awareness

Often I wake before the sun
Starting my day even before it has even begun
Running around left, rushing around right
Getting up early is always a fight
I know once I’m there I won’t care any more
But somehow I struggle reaching the door

The sun my friend, it rises slow
Taking its time with no where to go
Rarely do I stop and reflect
Upon all the colors it does reflect
And if I did, I think I would find
A certain peace envelop my mind

Slow as it goes it has something to say
About life and it’s journey throughout every day
Beauty is there if you take time to look
Simplicity and joy behind every crook
So here I am watching it rise
Inspired to try and and let go of ties
And lead a new life where awareness rules all
Me and this beautiful bright orange ball

1/13/14: Sunrise Poetry

A tides tale

The waves they tell a tumultuous tale
Of mermaids and seamen and the navy regale
Sometimes they crash and sometimes they flow
Stirring up sand wherever they go

Just like a mother they’ll coo you to sleep
Waking you up like a lover in heat
These waves they can be both enemy and friend
Without ever knowing where the ocean will end

The endless expanse gives some reprieve
From all of the things we aim to achieve
Because this we can’t control everything we see
The only thing I can I’ve realized is me

1/13/14:

Last night I learned a new acronym – DMC. Now since TFA I’ve harbored a strong aversion to shortening words, seeing as deciphering them was like learning another language, but this one has endeared me. DMC: deep meaningful conversation. I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to identify phases in my travels: going out phases, solitary phases, hyper active phases, slowed down phases, reading phases, and writing phases. The transitions happen quite naturally when I listen to what my body and my mind are suggesting to me at that time. Yet, there is one phase whose pull is often stronger than the rest; it induces both a physical and emotional sense of need. This is the need to have DMC.

Considering I am spending the majority of time around strangers or recently acquired friends, you might see this as a difficult possibility. However, I have found myself engaging in more deep meaningful conversations and sharing more intimate details of my life and thoughts I have with people I’ve just met than I should probably admit. It’s as if I’m striving to test the boundaries of trust and challenge societal notions of closeness. In conversation with one travel companion the other night we discussed politics, our life and career aspirations, and our fears. The amount of raw honesty and vulnerability was extremely refreshing.

But I wonder why DMC has become so important to me lately that I will shy away from groups and open myself up in a much deeper way with people I don’t really know. I think that is the point–I don’t know them and they don’t know me, yet we are already inherently connected by the nature of the experience of traveling. Our viewpoints may be different, and believe me I have encountered a mixed bag of those, but our intentions are aligned in ways you don’t often find in every day conversation. So many people are out here trying to find themselves and they have many experiences on that journey to share; because it’s through sharing and listening that we are also learning about ourselves. In reflection over the past half year I did not come with the intention of a sole searching journey. I was pretty confident I knew who I was and what I wanted and I was just aiming to challenge myself and fulfill the pull of wanderlust. Yet the DMCs I have experienced have allowed me to realize and develop aspects of myself I didn’t know I needed to.

So here I am waiting anxiously for the person who knows me best in the world to come visit in a matter of weeks. I’m excited to share with my best friend everything I have learned and engage in countless hours of DMC. I’m curious to see if he recognizes me, not physically but emotionally and spiritually. This will mark the end of my time in South East Asia and the start of a new journey to Central And South America. Bring it on Max, let’s create some more amazing memories and ridiculous stories!

1/3/14:

I have a few messages for all of the people in this side of the world who marvel over my long legs. These also go out to all the passerby’s who have commented on how beautiful my super white legs are. Firstly, thanks. It may be a little strange that you keep starring and pointing at me, but you have in the past 6 months managed to give me a bit of an ego. This has begun to fade the impact of years of hearing tan is hot and watching all the short girls nab the tall guys.

However, there is something you guys don’t realize from a distance. Something that has been happening to my body while abroad that I will carry with me forever that has nothing to do with your compliments–the accumulation of an insane amount of travel scars. Now I’d like to call these battle scars, that makes me sound way more badass, but these long, white legs, are now showing signs of abuse from even the most mundane of occurrences. Bug bites, a shaving cut, scooter accident, hazardous dancing, walking down the street, it has all left its mark–a dark purple jagged reminder of the life I’ve lived and loved. There are now so many I’ve lost count. These travel scars are staring to claim land that was once populated by freckles and the landscape of my legs is starting to look like a battlefield.

I used to break bones (knock on wood) now I just cut myself all the time even when I don’t realize–I cut the top of my foot on glass dancing…I don’t even know how I accomplished that one. I’m not sure if it’s the air here, the bugs I co-inhabit with in these guesthouses, or just the traveler lifestyle, but everyone I have met has had a minor cut turn infected quicker than you can find one of the million pharmacies on every corner. Not even my 3 kg medical kit can help me now, it’s just a something you learn to accept as a strong probability. However, my legs are longer and whiter. This means more space to injure myself and more pronounced travel scars creating a mess of shades of pink and purple all over. This is just further exacerbated by the fact that I am what some might call “clumsy.”

So back to my original message to all my leg and skin color admirers. You don’t want what I have. Unless you manage to live in a bubble (which believe me people has been proposed to me a few times before) or want to look like are constantly on the wrong end of a Muay Thai fight, then embrace your tan shorter legs. And I guess if the Internet ceases to exist and my words are lost in the abyss one day, I can come up with some way cooler stories to tell you for why I look this way. Maybe I’ll put it out there as a new writing assignment to my 6 year old students and see what they come up with. Once upon a time, Ms. Gluckman gashed her leg open as she was being chased by a motorcycle gang of angry chickens….to be continued.

1/7/14:

Home is a fairly foreign concept to me. I am a wanderer by nature, never putting down roots for longer than a few years or so. This has never really bothered me in the past. There was always something more to see, do, explore that kept me moving. More recently however, certain experiences have led me to question this lifestyle, desire a home and people that await anxiously my return.

Today was one of those days. I watched a friend of mine reunite with his family after 25 years of separation. Scattered from their homes during war times, they all were forced on buses and led to refugee camps in Thailand. Those who were lucky enough to be sponsored, continued on to America. Those that were not either settled in a new country or waited until conditions were better and returned to resettle what was left of their land.

Sela’s family was fractured in two. His mother, one of four siblings, was brought to the US; the rest settled on a small plot of farm land. As we sat around the family table today, sipping fresh coconut water from their backyard garden and eating a communal meal fit for a king, it was a beautiful sight. His grandmother had not seen him since he was 5 years old. His aunts and uncles with their young children have only faint memories and snipets of stories they’d heard about the young boy in the pictures. Yet, in this moment, distance nor time seemed to matter. They welcomed him home with open arms.

He was welcomed to a place he’d never been or seen with generosity and genuine excitement solely because he shared blood. Now jealousy is not becoming for anyone but this did stir up a bunch of mixed emotions for me. My parent moved away from all of our family before I was born. My limited interactions with my mom’s side and my dad’s small family has left me with a few close connections but essentially many of my friends have become the family I never knew. I chose this route, having had opportunities to connect with blood relatives that I opted not to pursue, and I do believe that I am surrounded by incredibly wonderful people. Through my travels, and having moved almost every two years, my family is spread around the world, made up of people with a mixed bag of personalities, ambitions, and ways of expressing love. Some I keep closer contact with than others, but when we are together it is just like Sela and grandma–excitement and happiness as if no time had passed.

I may not have a home in the physical definition of the word. There will always be places I feel more of a connection to than others and during certain stages of my life, those will feel like home. Sometimes I have to allow myself to feel jealousy and confusion over why there is not one place or home I gravitate towards, yet I must remember that I am lucky in many ways to have both the family born to me and that which I have created. When I am with these people it feels like home no matter where we are, even if it just might break the bank to visit them all. I’m thinking I might need to impose a “family” reunion one of these days. I am thinking somewhere tropical, whose in?

1/2/14:

There is an interesting phenomenon I have been learning about in the past few months: body language. No I do not mean understanding what other people are telling me with their body. I am talking about an internal dialogue, the power of our body to tell us what we need and guide us if we stop and open ourselves up to actually listening. I am definitely guilty of getting caught up in work, going for days on end with little sleep, indulging in food that isn’t good for me, and just generally physically and mentally neglecting myself. We all are. Often times it takes a serious health issue to wake us up or scare us straight. Or if we are lucky we come to these realizations naturally over time. Whatever the case may be, I see it as a form of study. We spend years learning how to read and write in our verbal language, the same must be the case for interpreting our individual body language.

The only one with the true decoder ring to translate is us, and in some more obvious cases our doctor. Just like any other language we must study, learn, practice and listen if we want to become fluent in our body language. The signs will tell us when we are hungry, sick, sad, in need of affection, tired, bored, etc. It tells us when we need to take a break, when we need to be alone and when to have company. However, when we aren’t in tune with our body’s frequency, wants can easily muddle up the messages our needs are sending us. Then we attach feelings and emotions to those wants and soon we verbalizing a “need” for chocolate or acting on a “need” for another drink, regardless of the truth that these are just wants in disguise. Acting on wants is a part of human nature and when handled with care is normal and healthy. It is when we don’t listen to our body’s basic needs that we are neglecting a powerful tool.

I have been learning to stop and listen. Learning to balance wants and needs in a healthier way. I am no expert. My biggest battle has been when it comes to eating too much and sleeping too little. Never wanting to miss out on experiences has led me to some very late nights out and indulging in way too much delicious food. As a result for the past week and a half I have had a cold. My body is fighting back. In its own language it is telling me to get my act together. I still not fluent, and sometimes I feel like a small child who is plugging her ears and screaming “I can’t hear you” when it says something I don’t want to hear, but I am taking time to study me. I have too much I look forward to doing and seeing, and I need a healthy body and mind in order to get there. Therefore, learning to speak my body language is of high priority on my list of things to do.