Friday I’m in love. With Bangkok. With Thailand. With my family. With new adventures. With pushing myself beyond what I used to think I was capable of doing. With knowing that inner growth has been inspired by motherhood.
Ten and a half years ago, Collin and I came here to Thailand for our honeymoon. We spent one month traveling, backpacking, hitch-hiking, rafting down rivers. We stayed in thatched-roof bungalows with (harmless) (but HUGE) coconut snakes living inside in the rafters, and venomous cobras dwelling underneath. One of our first days here during that trip, we were on Khao San Road (an international, backpacker scene) and we, newlyweds that we were, spotted a young family of four. The parents looked to be in their early thirties, the kids both under the age of 4; I remember it so vividly. Coldplay’s “Clocks” was blasting on the street, and life felt magical, infinite. Time stood still for a moment. The smells, the sounds, and that little family sparked something inside of me. I wanted that to be us in 10 years. And now it is.
During that same trip, we traveled south to a tiny island named Koh Jum for our last week in Thailand. A woman named Delia gave me something and called it my lucky bean. I never knew exactly what it was; a bean, a seed, a shell, or otherwise. I kept it these ten years, and I brought it back here on this trip for sentimental reasons.
Last week, on our last morning at that beautiful beach where we stayed, I had about an hour to myself. I walked the shores and decided in my heart that I wanted to find something significant. “It seems like the kind of thing that should happen on my last morning at this beach” I distinctly thought to myself. “Send me something God, please, that will give me direction for my life.” Within moments, I heard tiny, little footsteps getting closer and closer behind me. It was Senya. My eyes filled with tears. Yes, this was something special indeed. And yes, this is what I’m doing with my life right now.
Senya and I combed the shores together for beautiful shells and coral. Guess what I found? Another lucky bean. A bigger one.
I may not know where we will live in a year from now. I may not know what ten more years from now will look like. But I do know this; I have been blessed beyond all fathomable belief with true love. Love that brings life. Love that has, at times, cost us everything. Literally, we lost all our dollars (and more) at one point pursuing dreams that didn’t quite work out as planned.
We moved from our cozy, dreamy cabin on our 2.8 acres of wooded property to live in a rustic 450 square foot cabin in Topanga for a year. I drove a crappy car that I had to fill up with water every ten minutes so it didn’t overheat in hot weather. On cold mornings, I had to open the hood and bang the starter with a hammer to get the engine going…in one of the wealthiest places in the USA.
I quit my job and finished my Master’s and traded it all to be a stay at home mom in a culture that considers that Nanny’s work. I learned to drive and navigate my own way for the first time in a land of 5-lane highways that all warrant an article before their names because of how intense they are (THE 101, THE 405, etc).
And THEN. I moved to Arkansas.
That’s love, folks.
No, just kidding. Northwest Arkansas isn’t bad at all.
Here in Thailand, I’ve realized how strong all that has made me. I navigated my way all over this place with Senya and Juniper while Collin worked in Bangkok each day. I took public transportation–the Skytrain–and even used a map to figure out the route and everything. What? Who am I? I’m a mom; that’s who. A mom who would rather get lost in a city where I can’t speak the language than sit around bored in a place full of opportunity for my kids to live, experience, and fall in love with traveling.
And I’m a soul mate. A soul mate promised to my true love forever, whatever that looks like.
I guess all those little anecdotes I noted above are bragging rights now…scars of which I’m proud. I’ve always liked scars; they tell stories of what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve survived, what we’ve overcome. I’ve gotten my most impressive ones living. Truly living. I won’t get any new ones when I’m dead, probably.
Collin’s got his own story of the past ten years of sacrifice, facing fears, digging deeper for meaning and truth than he formerly knew how. He’s worked on himself, on his life, on his career, and in every way possible. He has worked extremely hard. For what? For love.
We are probably some of the happiest people on the planet. We truly love our life. But it would be dishonest if I didn’t say that we’ve worked for it. It would be like presenting a photoshopped image of a magazine model as reality for me to pretend that happiness doesn’t take effort. Happiness and love take work, take strength, and perseverance.
I had this dream once right before we were married. Collin and I stood hand in hand facing the ocean. Others were there, standing in the water scattered around. We were watching, waiting for a tidal wave to come. We could see it coming in the distance. We were bracing ourselves, but not terrified. It came; it crashed over all of us. I saw Collin and me together, under the water…the power of the water above thrashing us violently underneath. Yet our hands remained clasped together securely, and we were okay. It felt so real and so deep. The memory of that dream is as vivid today as it was the morning I woke from it.
Hold onto love, folks. It’s our best gift. It’s a gift that’s meant for more than keeping in a glass case. It’s meant to be used, spent, and allowed to work its magic. The magic is it never fails, it never runs out, it never ultimately disappoints us as long as we Keep. On. Going. It’s strength. It’s life. It’s inspiration.
Believe in Love. Fight for it. Sacrifice for it. Follow the road wherever that love takes you. And don’t be afraid. Oh, and enjoy the adventure…because this is life.