Reflections – how we are who we are

I really thought nothing much of my Asian Respite and Reflection post, and yet it touched so many of you that I have done what I normally don’t let myself do, and re-read my post to try and figure out how it had quite triggered this response.  I have had to learn to trust the keyboard, to let thought travel from mind to screen uninterrupted, and hope that this indeed is my natural voice, that it will be what I intended to say.

This is now my chance to ramble. Less photography, more ramble, for I didn’t think I had particularly been honest and raw (surely there is a lot more to come!), but perhaps I was, and that this is me at my best.  By that I mean uninhibited and in my natural state.  I’m not sure it would be possible to write in another way, this is my voice, my open-book.  Mum always used to say as a child she always knew from my face what I was thinking and feeling.  I set out for this blog to be honest, truth-telling, the way I see it, the way it is.  I can’t be any other way.  Even Big O (as I will refer to Oscar from now on) can sense a subtle change in my mood , and it is deeply unnerving.  At times it is a struggle, to be a Hopeless Pretender.

Curiousity gets the better of me and I always seek to discover, in my heart a traveller, adventurer and bearer of great wanderlust.  Perhaps this is how I have come to shake up our lives every now and again, searching for change,what could be different, what else can we learn, what else can we discover?  I could blame my nomadic military upbringing for this gypsy blood, but actually I accept we are each responsible for our own actions.  I am learning that indeed there is a fine line between being a creature of habit, and seeking the thrill of the new, the exotic and unfamiliar.

I am left with is a yearning to be at peace with all this curiousity, to just Be.  To find my home, to settle into it, and tell myself this is for the long term, or at least for a longer while.  By finding my home, you know I am not exactly referring to a physical home?  I am not sure I’ll ever settle to that!  But, what I mean is home in the sense of people.  To be near to people I take pleasure in being with.  You know who you all are, each and every one of you.  I have met special people all over the world, and from each chapter of my life I have someone significant to remember it by.  It takes time and energy to remain connected, but unequivocally, it’s worth it.  Remember, that special time in London last post?  Well that is testament to when you get it just right, People + Place.  A walk into Hampstead Heath was all the more glorious because I was able to spend it with one of my oldest friends, best friends as 9 year olds we have worked at our friendship, to savour our history and connection.

As children, we naturally are ourselves with others.  We Are Who We Are.  In our most natural state.  We seek interest and companionship in others, we make friends with whom we naturally connect.  I maintain as many connections as I can, each and every person defining a moment in my history and who I am.  I have met with several old friends recently, those with whom we have drifted apart over several years.  On reviving our connection, our time in history, a whole new level of friendship and understanding can unfold.  I am unexpectedly conscious of the importance of this.  How friendships at such a young age can be indeed the most special, important, meaningful ones as we grow older.  Perhaps it is more that in our raw, unnatural state we are able to more deeply connect to others in a lasting way.

Work is coming our way
We have been fortunate to now find work for J which is both very exciting and very clever on is part.  This has proven to us that even a jump out into the Big Unknown may actually help to create a better future.  Seemingly our brave leap into Cambodia, and J’s NGO work, has perhaps makes him all the more employable.  Certainly he has some damn interesting stories to tell at interview.

Financially we have gone as far as we can go.  For now, we have stopped here.  I have never appreciated work, or should I say income, as much as I do now, and serendipity has brought to us the right opportunity at the right time.  J is a Happy Man.  I am too, although this next chapter is not without complexity.  J’s work will take him away from us to near Johor Bahru, southern Malaysia on the border with Singapore.  It is not possible for us to move, so we will embark on a commuters lifestyle that we have been lucky enough to avoid over the past years.  JB is a direct flight from Penang, so we hope to see J most weekends should the price and time for travel allow.  I am reassured by regularly coming across expat women on their own in Penang as husbands work across Asia or at the very least travel regularly.  This does mean it is far less likely that I will continue to freelance due to the complexity of routines with the boys.  This will be our next chapter.  Back to Sunflower School for us all.  This is it’s own journey, and I am interested myself to see how I shall refocus my time and energy, and what will come of this time.

Disco Day
I talk often of the Boys Journey.  Growing up is a journey, perhaps the toughest of them all.   I have seen moments in this past weekend when I know the next few years will take much time and energy to keep those boys on a positive trajectory.  To nurture and protect them, but to also be strong enough to set them free.   We don’t know ourselves as children, we are guided by what others think we are, by what they tell us we are, but they don’t really know until we know.  When experience in the world lets us discover our own place and individuality.

I have watched these boys prepare for their class assembly these past weeks, each taking the challenge in such very different ways.  One hides as the sign-holder, the other happily opting to open the show.    It is not like one is J and one is me, they have their own blend of family gone before.


Monster Mash School Disco was the highlight for Friday.  For the parents it wasn’t so bad, a large chilly bin with beers on ice provided welcome respite and a reminder it was, after all, Friday (no cocktails sadly).  I can’t say the boys participated much in the actual disco, but rather took the opportunity to become tearaways across the school playing field – the scene of controlled play by day, became the chance for kids to break the rules, to run free and be those wild things little boys really want to be.  This wasn’t without trouble.   Big O seems to attract unwanted attention in this way, and I am nervous.  Both at the disco and twice this past weekend I have had O be the subject of a game gone too far, from friendly to not so.  This is new territory and I must learn a fine balance between being his protector and his guide.





A Stretch to Far?
A dear friend of mine remains in Cambodia.  Still on their family learning journey.  They have gone way beyond the time we did there and are truly an inspiration, having to embrace life’s lessons in many more ways than we did.  We met with instant affinity and understanding, as wives, mothers, free spirits.  We didn’t have long enough together with our sudden leap to Malaysia.  Nonetheless, I take comfort in knowing I have another significant friendship in my life.  At our most raw in Cambodia we connected as soulmates.

I’ve been thinking a lot.  Too much.  This voice in my head questions whether Cambodia was a stretch too far?  We still feel it, hear it, sense it.  Perhaps a less sudden departure would’ve allowed us to systematically close the Cambodia Chapter.  Cambodia was the ultimate in our Learning Journey, but I wonder if short and sharp was a stretch too far, ripening us for change yet leaving many unanswered questions?


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2 Responses

  1. shell says:

    Still loving your updates and photos Annie… such a wonderful insight! x