Thursday, November 27, 2014

Another birthday and I have had the most interesting year (s).

Last year was my 30th birthday and it felt a little bit like a milestone and a relief. I dealt with quite a lot of crap the past couple years so when I turned 30, I was going to make it about me. I really went through a lot of change the past year. Its really incredible how much has changed. Emotionally, physically, mentally, and life in general.

Feeling on top of the world in Milan, June 2014

I did quite a lot of traveling. :-) From July 2012- Dec 2014: A move from NYC to Singapore. Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Malacca, Chiang Mai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, London, Edinburgh, Zermatt, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lund, Amsterdam, Amsterdam (again), Milan, Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Seville, Lisbon, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Malmö, Lund, Stockholm (again).
As I sit here remembering all those times... I am reminded how truly lucky I am to feel like this world is small. I am lucky to be a global citizen and really enjoy making new friends around the world. I got to practice speaking in Swedish (I read short news articles every day now), learned a few key phrases in Spanish, and German (still struggling through on this one), and try to speak Bahasa as well. Seen and experienced different things and adapted myself to take everything in stride.

Gallerie in Milan, June 2014

What a year of change it has been! I have been thinking very introspectively lately and have shifted some goals around in life that will free me. Funny how people tell you that turning 30 is not that big a deal. I think it has been a big deal.

APAP 2010 Showcase, NYC, Jan 2010. Photo Credit: William Hebert

Two years ago, my life crumbled. I had to move out of NYC. I don't want to get into a big whining boohoo TCK... blah blah blah. So skipping that.
I moved back in with my family in Singapore. Started teaching in Singapore, A LOT! Loved all of my students! They really make my day, even when there were days where I just shut down and wanted to cry. I put on a face and braved it through the dance in the studio. From very young students to older adults - they are truly inspirational to me. Each one coming from different backgrounds and living here all that the present time.

Ironically, in teaching a lot more. I lost my creative mojo. I had no time to recuperate and get inspired. I looked around me and people looked drained. Sapped of energy, I had to force the creativity when making a dance for myself and my group of project-based dancers. I applied to participate in the Edinburgh Fringe. Giving myself a deadline and the unfinished work I had started prior to the move. Through emails, video skype, more emails, more video exchanges, some studio time, adding another dancer, more emails... somehow we came together in Scotland and all that hard work came together on the stage for a two week run (everyday). The work became second nature and it became better than I anticipated although there are quite a lot of challenges and tweaks I would love to make if I ever revisit this work again. (maybe)

Performing Habitat, C Venues, Edinburgh Fringe July-Aug 2013. Photo: Kevin Tadge

Oh what a challenge those few months leading up to the festival was! Balancing 48++ hours of teaching dance classes, rehearsing, dealing with adjusting my crazy schedule, a break up, reverse culture shock on a daily basis, and living with my family again. I was stressed out! Wasn't easy.

Somehow I came back from the UK a lot stronger and ready for a fresh start.

September through December was a daily and weekly grind - slowed down a little because I just couldn't handle the crazy schedule. Was still teaching quite a significant amount. I even made a solo for myself and performed it for a studio charity show benefiting relief efforts for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Planned a solo Euro trip for myself that winter to celebrate turning 30.

Christmas Market in Berlin, Dec 2013

What an incredible trip that was. I fell in love with the places I went to and myself for being able to do that. I was for the first time in a long time, at peace. No inner demon dialogues. Second-guessing. I was just living in the present.

I have always loved traveling growing up as a TCK and love going to experience and meet new people.

I want to have more of a balanced life. Physically and emotionally I was tired. 

A few months passed and I went away again to see tulips in Holland for Spring. I spent a week in an airbnb and loved just being able to chill out for that week. Met up with some old friends in The Hague and a dancer friend in Amsterdam. I also had fun conversations with locals at cafes.

Keukenhoff gardens, April 2014

The following couple of months after my Spring jaunt in Holland were crazy busy. I was choreographing a school musical, teaching classses, students had to prepare for their dance exams, and a student dance recital. May was such a blur. I thought June would be quieter but it was just as busy teaching. Then summer vacation with my girl friends. Started the trip with a solo couple days in Milan. Then a planned trip through Spain and Portugal with my big 'sis'. I ended the trip with a solo week in Copenhagen and Sweden.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona. July 2014

The summer trip really just turned me around and my heart spoke to my brain.

Make travel, helping people, being happy, creative, free spirited - a daily part of your life.

I had been contemplating on going back to school at this point and wanted to study something really different. I knew I wanted to do something international travel related in the tourism/hospitality industry but then wasn't sure up until this trip. When I returned, I became serious about it and kept it a big secret b/c I didn't want to get my hopes up if I didn't get into the school I wanted. I will keep dance in my life and have an idea for a solo dance project brewing in my brain. Started working on some basic phrases to kickstart it but nothing solid yet. ;-) Stay tuned for that.

So once again folks, in Third Culture Kid fashion.

I am preparing to move and uproot my life again. This time it is also to change gears a bit and focus on some new skills and experiences. I am at once scared, excited, anxious, and a bit worried. Next few weeks will be preparing for this move.

To turning 31! Skål! Prost! Salud!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Looking back.... Neither Here Nor There film

Throwback to when Director and Documentary Filmmaker, Ema Ryan Yamazaki interviewed me and 5 other New York City based third culture kids (at that time) for her documentary thesis film at NYU film school.

Neither Here Nor There film is now available for $1.99 (USD) for internet streaming through Amazon.
"Neither Here Nor There" is a 35 minute documentary that explores cultural identity for people who have grown up in places other than their home culture, known as Third Culture Kids. Through the stories of six subjects, the film investigates the often overlooked effects on adults who had international upbringings, their struggles to fit in and an eternal search to belong.

I have a funny relationship with seeing images and videos of myself from times past. Part vanity, part reminders, part memory, but most of all it captures a moment and time from my life. A documentation. I am grateful that we have the technology to take instant pictures and loads of videos to capture precious moments in our lives. Often times I forget to take pictures and going to vow to try and take a picture to remember the places, people, events, and who I was and am today. Its always interesting to make comparisons with our past lives. How much have we grown? How different have we become? Who are you in the past? Who are you in the present? Because we cannot predict the future, we only have our past to learn from and our present to experience.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

#TCKCHAT chronicles: The TCK & Dating

I have been volunteering my time to co-host #TCKCHAT on Twitter with some fabulous TCK folks. There is one every two weeks. The next one is on Oct 2nd and it will be at 10 am EST or 10 pm EST. The topics have ranged from being the new kid to dating to mentoring TCKs to transitions. If you are on twitter join in or follow the #tckchat conversations.

I wasn't available for the #tckchats in July so I started in August. I was looking through an old archive and found this gem:

TCK Chat #2: The TCK & Dating storify highlights

Some difficult questions asked. Inspired to answer some of these difficult and I will try and be a bit brutally honest about it.

Q1.How has your TCK upbringing influenced your dating relationships?

I like interesting people that I can have a conversation with on a multitude of subjects and depth of conversation but also someone who can make me feel at ease, laugh, comfortable, safe, etc. This is not just in dating but also how I make friends and connect with people in general. When you find a connection someone it can often be a turn on! On the negative side of things, I get very restless. I don't know how to stop that often nagging feeling and not knowing how to think about the future in terms of dating relationships. Perhaps my biggest obstacle. I am a little bit skeptical about planning too far ahead in the future. In terms of TCK upbringing, its tough to think about where to settle down to find a partner and maybe have children. Who knows what the future will bring. Dating is like playing roulette. You just never know who you will meet, when you meet, how you meet, etc. If timing is everything then you could possibly meet your match at the most wrong time of your life. And then, if you are in a steady relationship, when and if you two will marry and/or start a family together and where in the world. Its just all a lot of stress to think about if you ask me! hahahaha. A bit of a commitment-phobia is common among TCKs and those tough questions are common among TCKs in relationships. I'd say on a personal level, I have a bit of this phobia because I don't know how long I will stay in one place or what forever means.

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark

Q2. In a relationship with a non-TCK, have you anticipated miscommunication because of your TCK upbringing?

Oh my... this is going to bring up a can of worms but I will spare you of the details.
I think whether a TCK or non-TCK miscommunication is the biggest obstacles everyone faces. With TCKs and Non-TCKs relationships, I think perhaps the TCK could be misunderstood that leaving or planning to live in different countries and cities as leaving the relationship. Someone in the #tckchat mentioned this: @DipKidAmber "A2 I applied for a job in China once. My partner took it to mean that I wanted to get away from him when really I just wanted the experience"
Also some TCKs have a bit of a loner streak in them when they grow older to become adults because they spent their youth packing up and moving without much say in where and when they are moving. They may become adults who want to be in control of where, when, how they move (that is IF they move) without much thought on another person. They just assume that other person will move with them and adjust. This can lead to loads of miscommunication that could ultimately make or break a partnership up.

View from Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Q3. A TCK and non-TCK come from diff backgrounds. What challenges have you faced to make it work? What pleasantly surprised you?

Challenges in my previous relationships include long distance, commitment-phobia, not knowing what the future will hold, communication, and wanting different things in life. With that said, I was in a 7 year long relationship in my twenties. He wasn't a TCK and he tried very hard to understand my TCK restlessness. What surprised me was how much I liked stability in that relationship. It was a solid one and I thank him for giving me that at a time in my life that was hectic and stressful due to being an artist in New York City.

From the #tckchat:
@dp_saxon writes "A3: Some non-TCKs seek out relationships w/ TCKs b/c they've always had the spirit to travel but not the opportunity."
My response will always be the fact that the world is small and time is short. Time and health is the most important currency of all so what you do with your time on this earth should reflect that.

@danautanu: "A3. Challenge:Them not getting why I'm not grounded and why it's hard."
Its not that TCKs are not grounded. TCKs have a different grounding where grounding is interchangeable and adaptable. Just like seasons, our life isn't static. I don't think life should ever be static. We are in constant motion. Learning, discovering, and evolving.

Winter in Central Park, New York City

Q4.Does the idea of “settling down” with a partner scare you? Or do you relish the idea of stability after the constant change?

I used to be scared about this. I like the idea of stability but I don't want my future partner to "shackle" me down or want to do the same to him. "Settling down" with a partner means to me more about a partnership of going through life together with its twists, turns, ups and downs, adventures, stability, and difficulties.

@TweetingAuthor wrote: "A4: The concept of settling down is terrifying. From marriage to children, the idea that moving could stop scares me to death."
I don't think marriage or children should ever cause a cessation in moving. What causes the move in the first place? If the answer is to run away from responsibilities then yes, that needs some growth. But if the answer is a career adventure, then why the hell would you not take the opportunity and bring along the person you love and if there are children and pets involved. Bring them along too!

@unsettledtck wrote: "A4: Admittedly the prospect of marriage or something super permanent makes me hyperventilate a little"
This is quite common among many TCKs. I am still scared of permanence and the idea of forever but decided that in the traditional societal contexts we live understand of it - yes, I am terrified of that. But in my own sense and thinking - no, I am not scared. Nothing is permanent in this life. Marriage is a scary concept but so many couplings are choosing not to buy into the construct of traditional marriages with a huge proportion of marriages ending in divorce - who wouldn't be skeptical.

Then we have these responses from the #TCKCHAT:
@marilyngard "But can I go back to Q4 - we got married and embarked on a life raising TCKs - would do it again in a heart beat"
@dp_saxon "A4: I hope to "settle down" with someone who's open to thoughtful and regular change."
@TayoRockson "Yes and sometimes I wonder if my future kids and wife will like to move as well."

Homemade Pandan triple chocolate cookies, New York City

Q5.Change is part of TCK life & can lead to unresolved relationship probs. Do you struggle w/ this now? How do you address this?

Absolutely! I am hyper cautious these days because I do not want misunderstandings, miscommunications, and ultimately break anyone's or my own heart. But to err on this side of things, it can absolutely backfire on me. I let relationships flow naturally whether its dating or friendships because when over-thinking we lose sight of what really matters most. Enjoying another person's company whether its a friendship or a dating situation. Life is short, time is precious, health is not guaranteed. Live a balanced life that makes you content.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Always flying

This bird flies to places unknown
Every flight builds excitement
The return: a sense of dread.
She spreads her wings to faraway places
Its her meditation.
Her freedom from the monotony and greed of daily life.
New smells, food, friends, experiences.
This bird doesn't have a nest.
She finds comfort wherever she goes.
She feels incredible sense of calm wandering.
Not lost.
Her love is to share what she knows with others
This bird is different
She doesn't care what the flock tells her she should be
She longs for the simplicity of her life to just be herself
Complete and whole.
To live a life full of love, laughter, passion, adventure, comfort.

En route on the train to Edinburgh, July 2013

Planning for summer adventures in Milan, Spain, Lisbon, and Sweden! Travel is my inspiration to life and this trip will be filled with lots of love, laughter, passion, comfort, and wonderful memories. Memories create home for me and to create good memories is sacred ground. Hope all of you have a good summer!!! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Why you should absolutely date a woman who travels

I've been wanting to write this blog post for a while and will write another one about dating a TCK soon...

There was a blog post that has been making its rounds that is titled "Don't date a girl who travels" written by Adi Zarsadias. I shared this post on my facebook wall and it created a little bit of a anxiety among my fellow single women travelers. I can see why it would cause some panic. I think the author of this post has cleverly scripted some reverse psychology. 

Lets dissect the blog post and analyze it here.

Don't date a girl who travels. She is hard to please. The usual dinner-movie date at the mall will suck the life out of her. Her soul craves for new experiences and adventures. She will be unimpressed with your new car and your expensive watch. She would rather climb a rock or jump out of an airplane than hear you brag about it.
There is a bit of truth to this. The likeliness of a girl who would rather go spend her money on travel will not be impressed by materialist items that are flashy for the sake of being flashy. I think if an item has a story behind it, then she would be interested in hearing about it. I like to purchase fun souvenirs that aren't exactly stereotypical as a souvenir when I travel. For a long time, I had an extensive shot glass collection but had to stop purchasing them b/c I never got the chance or had the space to display them proudly after several major moves (I lost count!).
I've always like purchasing a piece of clothing or accessories while traveling and lately have been into purchasing fun pieces of jewelry. On any given day, I could be wearing an outfit that is entirely purchased from different parts of the world without even thinking too much of it. Earrings from Scotland, bracelets from New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Amsterdam, dress from Canada... This is super normal for me.

Souvenir clogs in Amsterdam. Cute stereotypical souvenirs right? I couldn't picture anyone actually wearing these out.

So Date a woman who travels because she will regale you with tidbit stories of her material possessions collected from different parts of the world. I hope you will share your stories too. The traveling woman will appreciate that you took time to tell her a story about your life.

Don't date a girl who travels because she will bug you to book a flight every time there's an airline seat sale.
The woman who travels will encourage you to plan and purchase tickets for trips because she wants you to join her. Take it as a compliment that she likes you enough to invite you along. But whether you accept the invitation or not, she may just go and book her trip without you if you wait too long to reply. This woman knows what she wants, and she wants to travel. Date a woman who travels  because she is an independent woman who will have fun on her trips with or without you.

Chances are, she can't hold a steady job. Or she's probably daydreaming about quitting. She doesn't want to keep working her ass off for someone else's dream. She has her own and is working towards it. She is a freelancer. She makes money from designing, writing, photography or something that requires creativity and imagination. Don't waste her time complaining about your boring job.
Ok... This one hits a bit close to home. I choose to be a freelancer because it keeps my life interesting instead of mundane and I've got many talents, strengths, and interests that I like to explore all at once. Perhaps its just my ADD talking or scared of bricks and mortar commitment. All I can argue with this is... Date the woman who travels because she is flexible. Her career is mobile, so if your career takes you elsewhere in the world she would be ready to move with you (if she thinks you're worth it!)

Don't date a girl who travels. She might have wasted her college degree and switched careers entirely. She is now a dive instructor or a yoga teacher. She's not sure when the next paycheck is coming. But she doesn't work like a robot all day, she goes out and takes what life has to offer and challenges you to do the same.
I don't really see this as a negative or special. There are lots of people who switch careers in their lifetime and do something entirely different than what their college degree. Why would anyone want to date someone who works "like a robot all day" - I have met interesting folks who work at so-called "boring" jobs but they are interesting because they have other aspects of their life that gives them passion. The reason why they have a "work, life balance".
This statement hits a bit on a personal level for me as I have an "interesting" career (according to people I meet at happy hours, networking events, bars, parties, etc.). There are similar responses from people I just met a) "Wow. You have such an interesting life!" b) "I am so jealous you get to pursue your passion" c) "Do you make enough money doing that!?" d) "What kind of dance do you do? (I'd answer) "What's that?" and there are combination of all the above. This amuses me endlessly. :-)
Date the woman who travels because she craves an interesting life.

Don't date a girl who travels for she has chosen a life of uncertainty. She doesn't have a plan or a permanent address. She goes with the flow and follows her heart. She dances to the beat of her own drum. She doesn't wear a watch. Her days are ruled by the sun and the moon. When the waves are calling, life stops and she will be oblivious to everything else for a moment. But she has learned that the most important thing in life isn't surfing.
We can plan our lives out as much as we can but the girl who travels a lot has realized that we can drive ourselves into a panicked frenzy if we are so adamant to sticking to the plan without room for flexibility and spontaneity. I absolutely believe that we should make plans for the future but also leave lots of room for "going with the flow". Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls and we just have to roll with it because its too short and time is precious to dwell on what went "wrong" in our plans. This is easier said than done of course. Its human nature to worry about the future. Thats because we're scared of the unknown. My favorite thing to do when I travel is to just go with the flow and plan for one major activity must-have for that day but then just get lost in the exploration of a new place.
Absolutely date the woman who can just be spontaneous and know that life is the journey. A woman who travels often understands this.

Don't date a girl who travels as she tends to speak her mind. She will never try to impress your parents or friends. She knows respect, but isn't afraid to hold a debate about global issues or social responsibility.

This woman sounds awesome! There is nothing wrong with being able to speak up. The woman that can do this knows what she wants and isn't afraid to voice her opinions. Debates about global issues or social responsibility or philosophy or policies are excellent and makes for a good evening in my opinion. Why would anyone want to date a wallflower unless that person just wants someone to sit there and look pretty. I wouldn't want to date a man who was a wallflower and wouldn't want to be someone's wallflower either. That would make for boring evenings.
Date the woman who travels because she can hold a good conversation.  She will automatically impress your parents and friends. 

She will never need you. She knows how to pitch a tent and screw her own fins without your help. She cooks well and doesn't need you to pay for her meals. She is too independent and wont care whether you travel with her or not. She will forget to check in with you when she arrives at her destination. She's busy living in the present. She talks to strangers. She will meet many interesting, like-minded people from around the world who share her passion and dreams. She will be bored with you.
Neediness is not sexy. The woman who travels wants a companion and partner not because she needs one but because she truly likes you around. If you don't mind dating "a bird", you will be her nest and sometimes travel partner then absolutely date that woman! She won't be bored with you because though she may like floating around, she needs a nest to rest her tired legs and someone to listen and share stories with.

My favorite quote from the post is this ending line.  "So never date a girl who travels unless you can keep up with her. And if you unintentionally fall in love with one, don't you dare keep her. Let her go."

By letting the bird be "free" to come and go, she will always come back to you.
Absolutely date a woman who travels because she will be the most awesome woman you'll ever meet. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Wanderlusting after places you've been and place you'll go

Its that moment when you discover how much you miss being on vacation that you start looking up when you can escape again and the choices are endless because your bucket list is long.

On the train in Switzerland, Dec. 22, 2013

You look at pictures of places you've just been to and vow to return again soon because you had such a great time by the sites you saw, people you met, experiences you just had.

Berliner Dom, Dec. 23, 2013

And then you obsessively think about the stuff you missed out on so you plan your next visit and/or pick another place on your bucket list.

Rundetårn in Købehavn, Dec. 26, 2013

So the best cure for Wanderlust is to plan ahead and dream of the next adventure. :-)

Leidseplein in Amsterdam, Jan. 1, 2014

Who's joining me?