10 lessons from our first month
First month in Thailand, that is.
Yes! Today (May 6th) is the one-month mark from when we first arrived in Chiang Mai. There have been difficult times, somewhat brutal heat, and tears, but there have also been moments of laughter and joy along with sweet family times. When Shun-Luoi thought it would be fun to blog separately on the top 10 lessons we have learned this first month, I was mostly in. Except for the “top 10” part of it. It’s a bit too much pressure to wade through all of life’s current lessons and pick the top 10, so I instead give you simply …
Ten lessons I’ve learned in our first month of living in Thailand (in no particular order):
1. Having lizards and cockroaches in my house is not the end of the world. I still hate cockroaches but have finally killed a few myself. And the other day when a small lizard darted around the wall behind our bed, I didn’t even flinch. Hooray! Baby steps, people, baby steps …
2. Having small children is both one of the greatest things and hardest things right now. Having 2 little dependent ones keeps me from having too much excess time in which to overanalyze every thought and feeling I experience (see #10 below). However, having Elijah and Abigail is also really hard because they’re so dependent on me (yep, the old double-edged sword). There are times I wish I had a bit more space to process life and just “be” in the midst of all we’re adjusting to.
3. Thai food is very tasty. I’ll be honest – when we went out for any kind of Asian food back in the States, I would order the same “safe” dish; stir-fried vegetables with chicken and steamed rice. I know, I know … boring! But hey, I’m not a hugely adventurous eater and I like to order food I know I’ll enjoy when paying for it. I was pleasantly surprised by the use of potatoes in one Thai dish – yes, I’m from the midwest – and have really enjoyed trying multiple different rice and noodle dishes, as well as a delicious mango with sticky rice dessert. Yum!
4. Being in contact with loved ones in the States is hugely important for me, but I have to be careful to not misuse social media. Doing so could easily keep me from living life fully here. I also have to be aware of not using social media to simply numb myself to any loneliness or other difficult emotions I may be currently experiencing.
5. The familiar can be incredibly therapeutic. Things like spending time with other Americans/westerners, eating familiar foods from home, and listening to American music (from the 80s, 90s, or whenever; it doesn’t matter!) are really good things for my soul. Seriously.
6. Figuring out “life-giving” ways to care for myself is imperative. Things I have found so far that accomplish this? Listening to worship music, iced lattes, writing, sweeping our driveway (!), resting in our air-conditioned bedroom during the hottest time of the day, and morning walks.
7. Flexibility is highly valued by the Thai people. As a result, living here is some sort of cruel joke on me. 😉 Actually, I think it’s going to be a huge gift because even though I have grown in the ability to roll with the punches and let things go, I still have much to learn in this area. I’ll have no choice but to do so in this laid-back culture.
8. My capacity here is very different than in America. I don’t even know the nuances of how that all works at this point (nor may I ever), but I do know that simply living day-to-day life is much harder. Accomplishing even small things takes much more effort. I’m not sure how much is due to the heat, language differences, being car/motorcycle-less at the moment, or other things, but it’s just harder. When I’ve talked with other expats living here, many have mentioned that what I’m experiencing in this area is pretty typical.
9. My tendency toward introspection is both a great gift and great curse. I am wired to always want to get at the heart of why I’m feeling or thinking certain things. My training as a counselor adds an additional dimension to that. BUT – sometimes you just don’t need to analyze your thoughts and feelings. In our current life circumstances, introspection helps me have a better sense of what I’m struggling with or … causes me to freak out. [insert pulling of hair]
10. I need to allow Jesus to meet me where I’m at these days. Whatever I am going through or struggling with is not beyond who He is or His reach. This song, passed on as a reminder to me from my brother, speaks to that truth beautifully.
And believe me, those ten are among many other lessons I am learning. The learning curve is high these days, folks!
Are you curious what Shun-Luoi chose as his ten lessons? Read about them here.