A Travellerspoint blog

August 2011

The Tie Dye String Bikini

sunny

Yesterday i drove into Hale'iwa looking for a place to buy a new bathing suit. Somehow I came to Hawai'i with only one suit, and it is stretched out so the elastic is unreliable.  I was feeling like a mother should probably stay covered at the pool and not be flashing people when she went to pick her son up, or not lose her top when she lifted him out of the ocean waves, as happened to me several times. I decide I must go buy something that is more amenable to these conditions... attractive yet modest.

So, i naively walk into the first store I find, one of many surf shops, and ask, "do you have bathing suits?" The salesgirl looks at me like I am a purple martian with four heads, and says, "uh, yes"... obviously it was the most absurd question she had been asked that day.  She then recovers, and tells me they are all against the back wall.  I go over and tell the girl I am looking for something with a little more coverage, maybe more 'conservative'.  I pick out six of these more conservative one piece suits, a nice bikini, and one tie dye suit that is a one piece string, with a strip over the belly but open along the sides.  I try on all the one pieces, and although several are nice, they are frumpy.  I know it is what I said I wanted, but I don't like how I feel in these. I try on the string tie dye piece- it's completely crazy, not something I would typically choose, but I just love it.  I am encouraged by the girls in the store: buy it, buy it, it looks great, who says a mom has to wear something conservative? who says age matters?

So I do it. And I drive home thinking, what got into me?  I know... it was something they said about being able to still feel good about how you look even though you are a mother.  Yes, I thought, I can be a role  model for that...  I am allowed to look good, to still wear what I like, to not feel the rules have all suddenly changed with motherhood in terms of what is appropriate to wear and what is not. So I walk out of the store carrying a brightly colored string bikini with a strip down the middle, probably the sexiest most outrageous bathing suit I have ever owned.  Hey, why not?  IMG_2827.jpg

Posted by globalmomma 13:37 Archived in USA Tagged beach surf swimming hawaii suit sexy bikini bathing Comments (3)

Guilty Pleasures

sunny 28 °C

I am currently feeling a bit guilty, since the Eastern Seaboard is about to get pounded by hurricane Irene. And last week there was an earthquake centered in Virginia that shook the coast. And Seattle has had one of the gloomiest summers on record. To have all of this good fortune and summer is really more than one can expect. It is downright obnoxious. I can feel the loathing and jealousy... Yet, this lifestyle is not for everyone. It is filled with its own set of irritations and difficulty. We literally move day to day, and so do our finances. There is not much advance planning or saving. There is not a lot of consistency or rhythm to our days. I worry about the stability of our household as it might affect our son. The only real stability in his life is in our core family, and the fact that we are always here for him, always around, providing a comforting and secure environment...I think it is enough. I think it is what is most important. But he doesn't have the space for large toys and swingsets, his own hand-painted room or backyard. His playground is the local church lawn, where we played yesterday while waiting for Daddy to get out of his interview. The beach right down the street. The cobblestone streets and piazzas of Lucca, where we spent several wonderful weeks. The great room at his grandparents' house, where he could go up and down stairs and throw items into a fountain. He sees everything around him as a toy, a playground, as entertainment. Maybe all children do. I am not sure, because we don't have toys to distract from the interesting play of the world around us. Sometimes I want him to have those things: a doggie, a train set, a plastic playhouse in the yard. Other times I am happy for the way he has learned to entertain himself with everyday items, and I wonder how that will carry over into his adult life. Hopefully he won't be bored, and will continue to look at the world around him as if it were filled with wonder and play.

He did recently take a couple of toys from his cousins that he took to right away...they are called Zoobles. They are small balls that expand when you push a button. They go from eyes closed/ball form to eyes open, arms wide, awake. I must admit, they are interesting, and he now carries one in each hand, wherever he goes. He has even figured out how to open and close them with the push of the small button, our little engineer, always curious about how things work. His second favorite toy is his Daddy's keys, which close up also to be a rectangular black object, but when you press a small silver button, the key pops out. He loves to sit on the floor and open, close, open, close, that key with delight!

Bottom line: Bodhi does not care at all where our home is. He does not seem to get the concept. Maybe that is for the best, in fact, maybe the concept of home tethers us down. He is content wherever we are, and wherever he is. Talk about a Zen master, living up to his name.

The hardest part about living day to day, moving place to place, is missing those that you love, especially as they are going through hard times, like hurricanes, hardships, winter. I miss the community, the connectedness of having shared experiences. I miss day to day contact with people I care about. This lifestyle is not all roses, but it still smells sweet.

Posted by globalmomma 19:18 Archived in USA Tagged winter beach buddhism summer weather hurricane hawaii warm sunshine community zen hawai'i Comments (1)

The North Shore

Turtle Bay, Hawai'i

sunny 25 °C

Ahhh, life is fine. The sun is shining on our 'endless summer', and although it is only August, we have been following the sun since we left Seattle in March. I wondered if I would get tired of the sunny days and the heat, but so far, the answer is a clear 'Nope'. Instead I feel it is incorporating into my DNA in the way a virus might, insidious and silent, until I realize I can not live without it. The sun in Hawai'i is like joy juice lemonade, making me smile as soon as my eyes open in the morning. I love walking to the pool outside our current condo in the morning, taking a cool dip with the baby before breakfast. I love stopping along the highway for a quick five minutes to walk along the beach, getting sand between our toes. Hearing the crash of the waves, smelling the salty, glassy, ionic air... I could get very used to this lifestyle. In fact, I think I already have, as I cannot fathom leaving!

We are running an experiment. On August 24th, we flew Hawaiian Airlines from California to Honolulu. We have a one way ticket, so there is no current set date to 'go back'. We are living each day as if we live here now, jumping in with both feet. When people ask where we are from, we tell them we have just moved here. I try this mental experiment in order to gauge my own motivations and desires. When I tell people a small fib such as this, how do I feel when I speak the words? Do I feel the sense of price and satisfaction I would expect from someone who is happy with their life? Or do I feel somewhat off, that this does just not fit, it is a square and I am a circle. With this particular white lie, I feel good. I want this to be the truth. I like the concept of moving to Hawai'i, so maybe that is just what we will do. Sometimes to get to your deepest, truest desires, you have to try out your thoughts by expressing them to others. This works wonderfully for me, so I recommend it. Another time it felt just right: I was in the auto showroom selling my car in March, before our trip to Italy. The saleswoman asked me, 'What is your work in Italy?". Offhand, I answered, I am a writer. I didn't mention WHAT I was writing about, or the fact that I am a doctor, I only mentioned that my writing was taking me to Italy. "Wow", she replied, "that's awesome". "Wow", I thought, "It really is". IMG_2791.jpg

Posted by globalmomma 09:05 Tagged ocean beach surf sand summer north bay shore hawaiian writer turtle hawai'i haleiwa Comments (1)

The Good Stuff and The Junk Mail

(during a short hiatus)

sunny 30 °C

Sorry for the short hiatus between writings, but I have been 'at home' with family, and while here, the days go by much more quickly. Two weeks at home, and time for date nights, family excursions, shopping trips, beach days, amusement parks, and days spent organizing our build-up of mail and 'to-do's from our long time away. It is odd to again have all of my mail coming to my parents' address...one of the unfortunate downsides of not having your own permanent address is having to use someone else's. But our mail comes in and is stored in a pile on the counter, so when we pass through for a few days or when they mail it, we have to go through a big pile of junk at once, and a major list of tasks begins to form. So does the pile of junk mail and useless credit card offers and advertisements. These days are painful but perhaps better when all dealt with at once; like tearing a bandaid off a wound instead of tugging at it gently, it's no fun, but is over quickly, allowing you to get on to the good stuff.

That good stuff being for Bodhi hours spent on a carousel at the mall with grandma, every morning swinging in the laundry basket with Papa, observing and interacting with his older cousins who dote on him, and focusing all his energy on learning new words. For Momma and Dada it is a little alone time while Bodhi is busy with all his new pals and has no interest in you... it is outings to the pool, working out on the elliptical, getting some projects done, having leisure time. Here's to hoping we all have a little more time for the good stuff, and a little less for the junk mail.

Posted by globalmomma 13:45 Archived in USA Tagged fun pool tahoe time entertainment leisure mail swings Comments (0)

The Outlet Mall

rain 20 °C

Two weeks ago, while staying with my sister-in-law and visiting my husband's family, we went shopping at the outlet mall in Wrentham, Massachusetts. Myself, Bodhi, my mother-in-law and my niece Jenna. It was going to be a great day shopping. We arrive and I soon realize that I have forgotten all things essential for Bodhi. I forgot the diapers. I forgot the wipes. I forgot food and snacks and milk. And the raingear. In short, I totally misplaced my mind, and had nothing I needed...

So, I went about trying to find a solution. First, we drove around the small town of Wrentham trying to find a supermarket or drugstore. No luck. We found a Cumberland Farms convenient store, but they didn't sell baby supplies. We went to the outlet and I was determined to find something. I looked for a baby store, I asked in Carter's and another kids' store if they knew where I could go. I asked where you rent strollers if they had any extra supplies for sale. No luck. So then I did what I thought best. I walked up to another couple pushing a stroller and asked if they knew where I could get diapers. I had left all of mine at home and was desperate, I said.

The woman looked at me. Her baby had the tightest black curls and the brightest smile. Bodhi and the other boy were grinning at each other from their respective strollers. "No, I Don't... What size is your baby?"
"Size 3", I replied.
"So is mine", she said, "And I have an extra here, you can have it". Her husband handed me a diaper that looked like blue jeans, complete with fake pockets in the back.
"Really? You sure you won't need it?"
"We are on our way home anyway," the Dad said.
"You are a lifesaver!", I said, and I meant it.

What a blessing, and what a lesson. I felt that day that motherhood really is a community. And when we are willing to reach out, admit our needs, and connect with it, wonderful things can happen. I only hope I am able to help out another mother and return (or pay forward) the favor. Bless you, mom in Wrentham...

Posted by globalmomma 14:44 Archived in USA Tagged shopping baby massachusetts trip community diapers Comments (0)

5 Questions You Never Ask...

For Mothers Everywhere (pardon me this angry rant, but please comment and add any 'others' I may have missed!!)

Number 1: "Are you pregnant"?
I never believed that someone would have the gall to ask this question until it happened to me...when I was NOT pregnant. Actually, what she said was, "you are not pregnant, are you?" or something slightly more innocent sounding, but equally horrifying. I remember my reply...uh, no. Then she said, "that is a terrible thing to say, isn't it?" and I said, uhh, yes, it is. Then I walked away. I have heard these accounts from many of my friends, both those who have just had children and some who have not had children. Now I believe that there are people dumb enough to ask this question. And 90% of the time, it is a woman who asks, which makes it worse. Men we can shake off, like, well, they must not know what a pregnant woman would look like. Women should know better. I still want to slap the woman upside the head who said it to me, and if I see her, I just might. Basically, unless a woman is buying baby supplies AND she looks like she is about to give birth on the floor, don't ever ask this question. Even then, tread lightly. Otherwise, wait for her to say it, then respond.

Number 2: "Is she (i.e. your baby) still not sleeping through the night?"
Unless you have a child who is five and still not sleeping through the night, don't ask this. Especially if you follow it with a gushing remark like, ohh, my baby was sleeping through the night at only 10 weeks old, it was sooooo easy. In fact, any comparisons like this should probably be left unsaid. It sounds condescending and judgmental. It also implies that the mother looks exhausted and so you assumed that her child must be wearing her out. You know what assuming does, right?

Number 3: "How much did you gain during your pregnancy?"
Women do not like to discuss their weight, in case you hadn't noticed. Especially discussing the time in most of our lives when we have weighed the MOST...it is not exactly enjoyable conversation. Unless you are a very, very good friend or our mothers, do not go here.

Number 4: "Is he circumcised?"
If you know the mother or father to be vocal advocates of this topic, then fine. Otherwise, I find it a bit intrusive to be asked this question. Discussing this with your pediatrician, family, or friends is OK, but with strangers, not so much. Asking someone what they are thinking about it before the baby is born seems innocuous, because they can answer with "I just don't know" if they want to, but asking after the fact about someone's decision on their child's body parts is a little too much. Especially if you just met in a birth class or at the park.
I could add "Who's the father?" to this list as well, because asking that is just plain rude. I don't know many in this position as single mothers, but again, I have heard accounts of people asking this. If you are not close enough to know, then you shouldn't know.

Number 5: The question that has really infuriated me personally is this: it seems sweet at first, "How old is he/she?"
You answer, "14 months." You are expecting some sweet reply like, 'what a darling', or 'he's so cute', or 'enjoy it'. Replies you have heard many times. But instead, this person chooses to say, "Really? My God, he only looks like he's about 9 months old!" Or the other way, they say, "wow, she's so big! my 2 year old granddaughter is her size!" Not cool, people, not cool. Thinking you can size up another person's child's age is just not helpful. Plus if the parent has worries about their child not eating well, or being overweight, you just add to their worries unnecessarily. I used to want to trip those people who guessed my son's age in the airport or at the mall. "How old is he", they would say, "seven months?" "No, he's ten months." "Really? He's so small!" Gee, thanks, and you're ugly. That's what I should have said. :)

Posted by globalmomma 17:30 Archived in USA Tagged friend best sleep child baby questions weight age rude pregnant pediatrician Comments (0)

Love comes shining through

overcast 20 °C

Sometimes it takes a cathartic experience in order to see clearly. Last night was a major argument, an explosion of all things kept bottled inside for months and months. I believe every set of parents - at least the ones that stay together - go through this rock bottom point before they can begin to rebuid and restore themselves and their new relationship. This morning, I feel like I am emerging from battle, a phoenix rising. I am seeing with new eyes, this life, this person. I can again feel things that I had closed off from experiencing, as my emotions came tumbling out like stones turning in a fast-moving river. They are tumbling, tossing, becoming smooth like river rocks as they bounce up against the surfaces of my heart.

I am reminded of an old well-used philosophy quote, by Nietsche, likely the most relevant philosopher for today: "That which does not kill us only makes us stronger" When life gets difficult, when sentiments pour out that cause you to ache to your core, this is when a small portal opens and faith gets stronger.

It has been a difficult stretch for our relationship. What is important is to keep believing in each other, to keep focusing on the best outcome, and to continue to show up and participate in your life. This life is such a beautiful journey - we have to move through the tough times with grace and strength, and embrace the good times with all you can. After a darkest night, that is when love comes shining through.

Posted by globalmomma 23:37 Archived in USA Tagged up love argument relationship make catharsis Comments (0)

Water Park

August 8th

IMG_2752.jpgIMG_2739.jpg

Fun, fun, fun, the water park in Connecticut.

We went with family. Bodhi was still too young for 95% of the rides, but we were not too old to enjoy it!

Posted by globalmomma 01:07 Comments (0)

August in Anywhere USA

sunny 22 °C

We flew back from Italy to Boston on August first. We are at the end of a long, wonderful seasonal journey through Europe. We didn't want it to end, but unfortunately, it had a three month expiration. So here we are, back in the USA, trying to remember how things work here, and trying to find our next true move forward.

We are back spending time with our families... a real treat after months of traveling without family support and often days or weeks without contact. Our days are still as wide open as they were when we were on the road. Where will we go tomorrow? Where will we stay next week? Our next plan is to go to Hawaii, from Lake Tahoe where we will be visiting my family. We have our flight from Sacramento to Honolulu in two weeks. That is our final plan.

I am definitely a bit wary of living month by month through the end of the year. Worried it will get long and exhausting bouncing from place to place, as it is not as filled with events and possibilities, dreams and culture, language and food, as our Europe journey has been. We are currently deciding: Kona, Waikoloa, or Honolulu for our landing spot in September. Trusting our instincts will be our best guide. I must admit I feel twinges of sadness when I see houses for sale that I like, or am in someone else's comfy home... and I realize this is an area that I miss out on, that I give up in order to have mobility and freedom. There is a comfort that comes from a home, that after you have been on the road for months or years you can begin to forget. When you experience it for an instant, those day to day rhythms, it can comfort you with nostalgia. The glimpse, for me, is not worth what I would have to trade in order to have the life of a home... I like the adventure, I like being able to go anywhere, anytime... at this point in my life, I am enjoying the challenge and freedom of living moment to moment. But seeing life on the other side can offer a fresh perspective.

Our path is still open-ended. We hope to find a nice place to land, for a while, until it is time again to go. That may be a few weeks, or a few months. Another adventure, another place to explore. But first, a little time with family. And some time to reflect, recuperate, renew. A pause before the next act.

Posted by globalmomma 18:51 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Travel Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages to Life on the Road --> a joint contribution with my husband Chris

(1) No cleaning for three months
I have not scrubbed a single toilet, not waxed any floors. I have however, hand washed a multitude of clothes in various sinks with various soaps and cleaners. But I haven't vacuumed or done any heavy cleaning since we packed up and moved out of our house in March.

(2) Becoming Improvisational and Instinctive
Traveling forces you to be creative, to try new things, to go without. Often I have not had the regular tools I need. For example, early on in our trip, I lost my baby changing pad. There are not really any changing tables in Italy, so I have changed my son on rugs, benches, floors; and generally I have to use paper towels, wipes, bags, sweatshirts...anything I can find to attempt a sanitary changing area. At first, it can be annoying to not have what you need. As you get into a flow of travel however, it becomes almost fun to see what you can come up with when squeezed for options. I have improved at adapting to situations overall. Making baby food out of restaurant bread and fruit stands, using juice or watered-down rice cereal when I don't have milk, creating toys from scratch. Airplane bags become puppets, pan lids are cymbals, hotel telephones when unplugged become perfect entertainment. It is always a challenge and requires creative thought and new ideas, keeping me on my toes and adapting more than I would if I had everything.

(3) Less is more
When you travel with only three outfits, after a short amount of time you realize that this is all you really need. A sweater when it is cold. A bathing suit for swimming. Nice pants or a skirt for dinner, something casual for touring and travel days. Life becomes simpler, easier. There is no clutter to distract you from your life as you are currently living it. For long-term travel, often people have consolidated their life prior to travel, so their bills are online, their things are in storage, there is not much 'at home' that needs attending. Often when you are living on the road, your whole life is where you are. So you pay as you go, with prepaid cell phones and cash. If you buy something new, it is to replace something you lost or that was ruined. Nothing is extraneous. I most emphatically recommend tidying up your life prior to long-term travel (as in over a month), because it gets complicated to pay bills, deal with mail, cancel memberships, contact people, etc all via email from thousands of miles away. Much easier to eliminate what you can (I cancelled two credit cards before I left, traveling only with one personal card, one business card and one debit card). I made most of our bills automatic payments onto the credit card, so I in fact only have to look at one bill online, and pay it directly online from my bank. Reduce, Simplify, and Go.

(4) Control your expenses
Without a mortgage or rent to keep up with, you are free to travel in a style that suits your taste and budget. There are hostels which can accommodate you for (usually) much less than $50 per night or you can stay in a fancy resort for $400 per night...it is entirely up to you! The best part is that you are not subjected to the greater movements in the housing markets, where the amount you have to pay remains fixed but the value of what you are paying for is steadily in decline. Just ask most any new home buyer in the past 3 years... We personally have diligently tracked our expenses from the time of our first major travel excursion (1 year) in 2002-3 and through 3 different homes. We have found that the amount we spend in an average month while on the road is approximately 2/3 the cost of a month living in a similar situation in a stationary location. In other words, being on the road is generally cheaper than being in one place. Most people do not believe us. This is generally something that shocks everyone when we tell them we spend less traveling than when we were living in a house with utilities and all of our stuff. Part of this is taking a more minimalist approach, but some of it is just a basic equation when all expenses in hotels and rentals are fixed, whereas all of the 'extras' in a house can add up. When we first started traveling full-time on a year-around-the-world trip in 2002, the first question most people asked was, "how can you afford it?" At first this was a funny question, then it became annoying. The real question is how can you get paid, or how can you make money while you travel. Or how much do you have put away in savings? Because the reality is that the amount of money it takes to travel is less than what you need to live in the same place, if you can find a way to do it.

(5) Less distractions
Our life at home was very pleasurable...always something on TV, always something to eat in the fridge, always a bottle of wine in the basement...you know what I mean. Some of you might not want to live without these comforts at your fingertips, we certainly miss them sometimes; however, they can, at least in my case, take away from the things I really love and want to do. We used to eat dinner in front of the TV occasionally... As of today, I have not watched a TV in 3 months. We used to have an Italian night 1X/week, I now study Italian every day. I write so much I am getting carpal tunnel. We get the things we need when we need them... stockpiling is useless when you have to carry everything you own to the next place, so you keep it light. The best part is that, for reasons I am not entirely clear on, we appreciate the simple pleasures that much more... and we live almost entirely in the moment.

(6) The literal ability to go anywhere, do anything
This is all dependent on where you are choosing to travel, your 'means' of procuring income (i.e. can you be anywhere or are you stationed overseas in a particular spot?), and your preferences. But I love that while traveling, if we hear about a great event coming up somewhere nearby, we are often free to go attend. There are no obligations holding us back from experiencing life. For instance, the Tour de France was in Paris, but we were living in Lucca. Well, a quick flight, and there we were for a weekend in Paris to watch the Tour. We made the decision to come to Lucca while we were in Prague, miles away, when we found out my husband could start at his Italian school mid-month, so we planned our trip and booked our apartment. The freedom of life on the road is infectious, especially in Europe where so many different places, events, cultures are only a quick train or plane ride away. There are so many choices you can make, where to go, what to do...

Disadvantages

(1) Less time with family and friends
This is obviously self-explanatory, but the most difficult part about traveling is missing the ones you love. It gets even more difficult when you travel with children...and they don't get as much time with your families and friends as you would hope.

(2) Less social interaction / language barriers
We actually have quite a lot of social interaction when you get into the groove of traveling and meet other fellow travelers, or when you stop in one place long enough to make friends, start conversations and you definitely meet interesting people along the way. But when you are in another country, esp one where you do not speak the language well, it is tough to get past that superficial level of friendliness to have someone to lean on and discuss deep issues of life with...which often leaves yourself and your travel partner as your 'everything'. It can be a lot of pressure on a relationship to provide everything that you need... Often while traveling, you have to rely ONLY on yourself and your partner to get by in many ways, which can be emotionally exhausting. Also, as a parent, there are no babysitters (well, unless you get lucky), no temporary help while you take a shower or run errands, no date nights. You are traveling as a team, for better or worse, all the time. This builds unity and connectedness but can also build frustration and test patience as distance between you is compressed.

(4) The rule of one thing/one thing out
When you have a fixed amount of weight you can carry with you on an airplane you are limited to how many things you can acquire - don't even bother trying to fly on Ryan Air. We do our best to live by the rule that when you buy something you really like or want, then something else has to go...trust me, this will entirely change you perspective on the cost vs. benefit of buying anything, unless it is really needed i.e. an umbrella in a rain storm...

(5) Mishaps, Mistakes, and Adversity
It helps to have either infinite patience or a fabulous sense of humor, but either way, sometimes you lose. There are inevitably those times where something doesn't work out. Your first train is late and you miss your connection. You have to stay an additional night in a place you do not want to be, or you get lost along the way. You lose your tickets, or your money, or your bags... You have to expect the unexpected.

(6) Planes, Trains and Automobiles
There can be so much travel, and so much time spent going from place to place. Logistics, logistics, logistics. It can be exhausting, difficult, tedious, sweaty, and plain painful at times to always be on the move. It can also mean long journeys by plane, train, bus, boat, whatever. You get used to getting where you need to go by every form of transportation, except possibly mules. The timing can be challenging, early morning flights, long mile walks from the train station to the hotel dragging your bags and stroller across town in sweltering heat or thunderstorms...there can be moments when the travel parts are less than ideal, and the travel from place to place is less about the journey than it is about the destination!

Posted by globalmomma 07:42 Archived in USA Tagged travel light to simple what days traveling easy bring expenses advantages long-term disadvantages Comments (0)

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