Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.

Coming Clean

By now you’re probably wondering when this blog was going to finally dove-tail with my present life given all the musings I’ve been writing about the past. I’ve been wondering the same thing, asking myself every time I hit that “Publish” button why the hell did I just spend all that time waxing on about things I used to do? At first I thought this would be a journal about re-entering the field of humanitarian aid and development work and that blogging would keep me on task researching aid topics and reading about how close or far away Laos is from reaching their Millennium Development Goals, and that I’d find it all worth sharing. Well, that didn’t happen. There’s a lot of aid work and need in Laos but it is a small country with not that high a turnover or demand for expat staff, not enough to require keeping my finger on the pulse everyday. Plus, I feel like I have enough personal contacts in Laos by now to network in earnest once I’m there, face to face, my preferred way. Then when I wrote “Happy 10th Anniversary to My One-Way Ticket to Nairobi” my reasoning for writing about the past was a way of celebrating my personal journey of the past decade, also killing two birds with one stone since the “Honeymoon in Dafur” series helped to shore up my confidence to work again, or at least confident enough to present myself as capable to any prospective employer. And since I can’t yet write travel tales and adventures of life in Laos until July, I thought I’d share smatterings of previous trips as a way to fill the time between now and our next jaunt overseas.

Well today I realized that I have been fooling myself with all the above. I did start writing again as an outlet to release strings of thought that tend to entangle me in a ball of stress close to times of big transitions. To get it out, I write whatever comes to mind on a given day, usually around topics with pictures to go along with my thoughts and recollections because I’m a very visual person. Today while attending a class about what it means to be resilient in a transient life*, one of the exercises made me realize that I was holding on to something by only writing about the past because I’m actually not at all that certain or comfortable about who I am now and who I will be after our next move to Laos.

I’ve been painting a picture of the old me, the me before marriage in “Africa Burning” and “Hot Air Ballooning in Swakopmund – Namibia“, the me before kids in “Honeymoon in Dafur” and “Secluded Beaches of Sumatra“. I dared to touch upon the current me only a little bit in “Two Years in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico” and “Keeping It Real“.

The truth is, I was looking to become that old me once we got to Laos where I was hoping to define myself once again by a career and travel adventures. But my realities have changed tremendously and I’m not that old me now. I don’t say that I’m not that old me anymore because I’m still all those things in addition to becoming a wife supporting my husband with his international career, and a mother enabling my children to thrive in our international life-style. Both those roles have probably changed me in many ways that I’ve yet to explore or reflect upon. Both those roles will still be with me when we get to Laos.

I won’t get to be the old me that I’ve conjured up in my recent posts, and my future travels together with a family certainly won’t be anything like the kind of travel that I used to do. It will all be different. I’m different. I see that now.

I’ll still continue the “Honeymoon in Darfur” series to finish what I’ve started and I’ll still regale you with some of my past trips, but slowly my writing and this blog will try to come to terms with finding and accepting the now me, the me best encapsulated in this photo inside a packing box while wrestling my two kids…still the same Wanderlustress but all together so very very different.

Inside an air freight box. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

*The class on resilience was given my my husband’s employer. If anyone is interested in knowing more about it, I would be happy to answer your questions and provide you with some of the on-line resources and recommended readings.

Anyone else out there in the process of redefining yourself?



8 comments on “Coming Clean

  1. Zen and Genki
    March 29, 2012

    Oh yes, redefining daily 🙂 Makes life interesting, I think 🙂

    • Wanderlustress
      March 29, 2012

      It tortures me but it’s fun, too. You are right. Thank you for reading!

  2. growingmuses
    March 29, 2012

    Um, hello? Me! here in the back row, vigorously raising my hand. Aren’t we all (or at least many of us, especially mothers) on a journey of redefining ourselves now that we’re no longer “travelers” but “moms of the world?” I had an identity crisis 10 years ago when I realized I no longer enjoyed “back-packing” and needed to upgrade to “wheeley” luggage. I’m still having an identity crisis about being a suburban mom rather than the glob trotting one I thought I’d be but I’m working on blossoming where I’m planted, sometimes easier said than done. I’m excited for your new Laotian adventures. There are many beautiful parts of that country, and such a scarred past, to explore. Unlike Mexico, I feel certain that you will be safe to explore them and with kids. Just wait, 2 to 4 is ever so much easier than 0 to 2.

    • Wanderlustress
      March 29, 2012

      Hi there! Thank you for stopping by and chiming in. You made my day. I’m in good company if we’ve all gone through/are facing the same struggles. Our guest room in Vientiane will be waiting for you and your wheelie luggage ;D

  3. Nate
    March 28, 2012

    Good lookin’ rugrats. Nice to hear some of your backstory.


    • Wanderlustress
      March 28, 2012

      Thanks Nate. Getting personal is a little taboo for me. Yikes.

  4. mulrickillion
    March 28, 2012

    I am curious about your interest in the UN’s MDGs. As you are no doubt aware, most agree that all of the goals will not be met by the target date of 2015. You also interestingly characterized the goals as Laos’ MDGs, which leaves me to speculate that you may be measuring Laos’ development efforts against the MDGs. Perhaps I missed something in your earlier writings; in other words, I am trying to understand your fascination with Laos’ development programs. Otherwise, your blog is always interesting.

    • Wanderlustress
      March 28, 2012

      MGDs are the universal benchmark by which development efforts are evaluated and measured – “The eight Millennium Development Goals…form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions.” (For more info see: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/bkgd.shtml). In instances where the UN specifies additional development needs, additional MGDs will be assigned to that country. For instance, Laos has an additional MGD to reduce the impact of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO). I’m currently focusing on Laos because I will be living there for two years starting this July and I hope to work on development programs while I’m there.

      Keep you questions coming! You challenge me (in a good way, like having your thesis professor read your blog!).

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