MIA in the Pacific Northwest, or maybe Alaska?

I have been negligent. Or just tech-weary. Or maybe just playing this big game of life dodgeball. Whatever the reason, I’ve disappeared into the wide web without a word.

So here I am again. Hello, old friends!

I’m about to embark for Alaska for the second time in a month, so it seems as good a time as any to start up on my blog again.

It’s been an odd year since returning from Thailand. A disorienting case of reverse culture shock that left me fleeing the claustrophobic aisles of the American supersized grocery store after a couple of minutes. (Too many choices! Such a bright, alien light 24/7! That tranquilizing music! The sheer material volume of food!) I’ve somewhat recovered from the culture shock, hopefully making more conscious decisions to simplify my life, although I did resist the urge after weeks of living with a rotating selection of 7 outfits from donating my entire closet, for which my husband is grateful.

I’ve also said goodbye to my part-time job at the performing arts center and spent the winter visiting my family in Portland, Oregon. Yes, I escaped the “polar vortex” parked over Wisconsin only to witness cross-country skiers take to the fluffy streets of downtown Portland for a freak series of snow & ice storms. Must be my karma. Though I must say I loved rediscovering the pure joy  of snow. It was like the entire city reverted to elementary school, sledding down hills and making snow caves. In Wisconsin, the snow is a chore, to be shoveled by bleary-eyed teenagers before school on dark, frigid mornings.

I’ve been contemplating my next journey. Lapland of Norway in the dead of winter among the Sami? Hiking Patagonia? Teaching in Bhutan? All hold their own appeal. I would love to return to Omkoi in northern Thailand and teach English again, but for even longer. So that’s simmering in my thinking.

For now, the journeys have been northwards – Alaska. Not as a tourist or traveler, but a niece saying goodbye to her aunt. A couple of weeks ago I snuggled with her and told her crazy stories to make her laugh – my parents forgetting my brother at a remote gas station on the way to Crater Lake (with no shoes. Also I feel it’s pertinent to mention he was 16), my tumble down the stairs in Latvia that led to a whole new understanding of Baltic apotekas as I tried to communicated in pidgin German (apparently medical terms aren’t included in college German), and some other gems that stay within the family. Tomorrow I return to Anchorage, this time to join my family as we lay her to rest. She was a remarkable woman and I will miss her.

I will start uploading photos of Thailand and Alaska when I return, as well as sift through the stories I scribbled in my notebooks. There’s still a plethora to share.

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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