Learning Through My Children

Boys KohLanta
“Once the indigestion has passed, the real answers will come to you.

There is nothing in the path of life that we don’t already know before we start.

Nothing important is learned; it is simply remembered.”

I was reading a book by one of my favorite writers, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and this quote resonated with me. It obviously has very broad meaning but I applied it to what my family is experiencing on this journey. It’s now been 8 months since we started out.This trip has been like a good bottle of wine that has gotten better with a bit of age and perhaps a little reflection. What seemed to have no framework (other than a list of countries to explore) at the beginning, has now morphed into a full fledged adventure. It keeps surprising and developing with it’s litany of events that range from sheer frustration to moments of near perfection. All in all, this was to be expected. What was not, is how this journey is making my enlightenment and my children’s go hand in hand.

Children are much wiser than we give them credit for. They have an innate sense of life. This may be why babies and young children are revered so much in many emerging nations. I can remember my own very young childhood, when I had a much clearer understanding of basic values like love, compassion and true happiness than I ever had as an adult. Seeing my children on this adventure all day, every day, has reawakened these feelings in me. It has given me a new understanding and a new appreciation for life.

We have now been to over 15 countries on this trip and I can tell you, people are the same in their core values. Yes, they have different languages, cultures, traditions, religions etc. but they all share the same love for children and family. You can believe this in your heart but experiencing it daily really hammers it home.

When we started out, I wanted to teach my children about different cultures and hoped they would gain something from the trip, maybe just that they liked traveling and would want to continue doing it when they got older. This trip for me, has been a metaphor of life in the above quote. Now that we are 8 months in, I am remembering things long forgotten. My childlike appreciation of life had been destroyed long ago. My children on the other hand have always known this. This time they are the teachers and I am the student.

Now, we are in Asia and we have seen both extreme poverty and wealth. What doesn’t change between the economic classes is their love for children and in most cases, their kindness to strangers. When people see our children, they are overwhelmed with joy. This is universal and does not differentiate by age or sex. It is a pleasure to witness and it makes me remember these simple emotions from long ago.

So far this journey has taught me many things but nothing more precious than the value of childhood joy. Moving forward, the trick will be to hold on to these memories and never forget again.

Best,

Dana
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A Very Powerful and Proud Moment

BoysHanoi

Today we we spent several hours in a special and creative place for the kids.

The boys painted, colored, built legos, and many other fun things.

After a little while they went upstairs with a group of kids and they all played together. I sat below and could see and hear them but they couldn’t see me.

I have tears in my eyes as I write this because there was a point today when I truly saw the powerful impact of this trip on their precious little souls.

A woman was up there asking them lots of questions. They were so enthusiastic, animated and expressive. They were full of joy and life.

They told their names and ages and where they are from. They told her we’ve been traveling around the world for 8 months and that they love their lives and their parents. They went down the whole list of countries we’ve visited so far and highlights from each. They got so excited sharing the list of upcoming destinations and the fact that they will be going to Disneyland in Hong Kong very soon. They shared about all of the different languages they are hearing and the efforts they make to understand. Aston told her they will learn the languages so that they can talk to everyone.

As I was witnessing this, I found myself so proud. I was so proud to see them communicating so openly and enthusiastically. I was so proud to see them standing together as brothers and sharing their happiness with others. I saw their light and love shining brightly as they expressed themselves. I saw my two little boys as two young men. It was a moment. A very powerful moment.

I just wanted to share this with you. Time passes so quickly and to witness the marvel of your children growing and evolving is unlike anything else.

New Friends. Wonderful Memories.

The Krinskys blog

I would like to introduce you to one of the most special families I’ve ever met, the Krinsky’s. This lovely family is from Israel and we had the most wonderful time with all of them in Thailand. I knew from the moment we met, that we would be life-long friends and I thank my little Aston for introducing us. He was listening to Drorit and her daughter and asked me to find out what language they were speaking…so I did.

I bonded with Drorit immediately and we had such an open and honest conversation. Our husbands arrived a little while later and when I first met her husband, Yoav, I immediately felt his warmth and kindness also. He and Dana began talking and we were all happy sharing with one another while our kids played together.

They are terrific parents and individuals. I loved watching all of the kids connect despite the language difference. Ely, their 14 year old, speaks English very well. Pierce saw him as a big brother and wanted to do everything with him. It was precious. Lihu, Shayli and Tahel speak Hebrew but that didn’t prevent them from finding common ground and happily playing together. It was like being with family. They just took us in with open arms and shared so openly and honestly about their lives, their kids’ education, growing up in Tel Aviv and so much more.

KidsPool

I learned so much from them. I was fascinated by their mentality, along with the beliefs and values they hold and live their lives by. The warmth of their hearts, touched me deeply. I felt for the first time, since having kids, that I was part of a community and that we, as a family, were part of their family. It was an experience I cannot put into words. It was heart warming and amazing.

KidsIpad

There are a few things I want to share which I learned from them. They believe it is best to encourage childhood curiosity and for an extended period of time. The combination of this curiosity with the structure that comes later, supports their inquisitiveness. They encourage their kids to explore and discover the world around them. Daily routines and core academics have their place, but beyond the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Creativity should be encouraged. Knowing how to make decisions is important and they teach their children to understand their values. This builds a stronger foundation in which to learn and nurtures their curiosity into a focused inquisitiveness as adults. This ability to remain curious and inquisitive should never be taken for granted. This, and the understanding of one’s values, helps children develop strong ethics early in life. The way they live inspires me and I do my best to live this way, every day. I felt like in so many ways, we were speaking the same language and were so connected. The fact that we were raised and now raising our own children across the world from one another, doesn’t change this.

I also learned that everyone in Israel is required to join the army when they turn 18. Men are required to join for 3 years and women, for two. After their army term, they are encouraged to travel for one year. It is after this period, that young adults begin University. They enter their University education with more of an understanding of what it actually is. They are more focused and have a better idea of the world around them because of their travel and army experiences.

I learned so much more in the short time we spent together, but most importantly, I am grateful to have them as friends. I feel very lucky to know them and I am so excited and inspired to visit Tel Aviv. Thank you Drorit, Yoav, Ely, Lihu, Shayli and Tahel for sharing your precious family time and your sincere warmth and kindness, with us.

Sending you lots of Love and many hugs and kisses from Vietnam.
We will see you again very soon, dear friends.

I also want to mention other very special people we met in Thailand. This country and this part of our trip were truly enriched because of the people we crossed paths with and had the pleasure of spending time with.

First, I’d like to acknowledge Fah and Sven. We met this lovely couple and their adorable daughter in the hallway one evening, in Bangkok. They are the ones that led us to, what is now, one of our very favorite places on Earth, The Pimalai Resort and Spa in Koh Lanta. We were still undecided on which beach we wanted to spend time in so, because of their enthusiasm about this place, we booked it upon their recommendation. The meeting was definitely one of those that felt meant to be. When we were enjoying Koh Lanta during our stay, we kept saying how it was because of that brief meeting with them, that we ended up there. Thank you, you guys. It was so nice meeting you and we look forward to seeing you in Beijing.

Drorit Krinsky’s brother and his wife and children from Israel. Her brother taught the boys a little Hebrew while we were there and the kids happily played together. We all spent time talking and learning about each other and our travels. We look forward to visiting your country and spending time together very soon.

Drorit Krinsky’s brother, Eli and his wife, Yonit and their children Lihie, Rani and Yali. Eli taught the boys Hebrew while we were there and the kids happily played together. We all spent time talking and learning about each other and our travels. We look forward to visiting your country and spending time together very soon.

Helga and Gerhard are from Austria and have been living in Shanghai for 17 years. We plan on visiting them while there. They are very special people and the boys practically took Gerhard's hand off daily with all of the high fives they gave him! Thank you both for all of the valuable information you provided for our remaining time in Asia. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Helga and Gerhard are from Austria and have been living in Shanghai for 17 years. We plan on visiting them while there. They are very special people and the boys practically took Gerhard’s hand off daily with all of the high fives they gave him! Thank you both for all of the valuable information you provided for our remaining time in Asia. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

~ Priscilla and Alec from Palo Alto…I look forward to seeing you again in California. You are a beautiful couple and I enjoyed the brief time we spent together. Priscilla, I will always remember Frankenstein! xoxo

~ Roman, Dana’s scuba instructor from Czech Republic…It was so nice meeting you and we will definitely see you again soon.

~ Frank and your truly, lovely wife, Z…(I was so busy trying to get the pronunciation correct when we met that I am now afraid to write her name in fear of messing it up) 🙁
This couple is from Berlin and I just adored them. I wish I had a photo. They have been together for 25 years and look like they are 25. They radiate happiness and joy and love. They swam in the rain, they always held hands, they made me smile…every day…from afar. It was so wonderful to be in your presence and to feel your powerful energy. Sending Much Love to both of you. We hope to see you in your amazing city on our next visit.

…and to all of the wonderful and friendly people at Pimalai Resort who high fived all day long and spent time getting to know the boys and our family. We will be back and we thank you for your kindness and hospitality.

AstonPlayroom

Pimalai

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…Until Next Time.

Boys Boat

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Flying Through My Fear

Malaysia plane
We just arrived in Vietnam after a long day of traveling. I am happy to be safe and tucked into our new, temporary home. The boys were just amazing through all of the different modes of transportation today. We were in 4 vans, a boat and 2 planes. They passed out on our way here tonight from the airport. They didn’t wake up in the lobby as we checked in or when we brought them upstairs. This should explain our day 🙂

Pasleep

Aasleep

It is very quiet and peaceful and I’m happy to have this time to share something with you. I wrote a post several months ago after our long and turbulent flight to Spain from Argentina. I told you my story about why I fear flying and also why I never let it stop me from flying.

When we decided to take this trip, I knew there would be numerous flights within it. I just kept telling myself that all would be fine and I wouldn’t let my fear stop me from truly living my life. I still won’t.

I stay strong for my boys and never let them witness my fear. They absolutely love flying! They get so excited on flight days and their only complaint is that the flights aren’t long enough. They run to board the plane and high five everyone on it as we walk down the aisle. On many airlines, they play upbeat pop songs after the safety demo and the boys and I dance to them while in our seats. They are so expressive and happy and free. Today, Aston said to Pierce, “P, don’t forget to put your ipad on Airplane mode” and he also instructed him to put his tray table up before take off. They watch the safety procedure demonstrations with enthusiasm, they look forward to the drinks and meals, and mostly, they enjoy the speed during take off and watching as we ascend into the clouds.

They want to discuss, while I’m just begging inside to land safely asap, the whole emergency safety card…on each and every flight. They explain that if we can’t breathe, to pull down the oxygen masks, but, “Mommy, make sure you put yours on first.” They say that we will put on our life vests after we blow them up if the plane decides to go for a swim. We can then slide down one of the many yellow slides located at each exit, which they happily point out to me. Today, the question was, “Why is this guy on the card bending all the way over in his seat?” This question, while bumping up and down through the storm, and while my insides were terrified. “Oh, he’s just bending over to stretch, Honey.”

Dana is reading his book, the boys are giggling, discussing their world travels and talking to me about the safety card, and I am realizing for the first time in my life, that I am really afraid of flying. I also have to admit that I feel very alone in that fear. I have to rise above and be strong for my boys who don’t feel this and I don’t want to change that. I giggle along with them and act like everything is fine when we suddenly drop down like we’re on a rollercoaster from turbulence. I stare right out the window and face it. I imagine the possibilities from 40,000 feet above ground. I remain calm. I talk my fear down and do my absolute best to replace that fear with positivity and strength.

It is a true test for me in this life. I literally fly through my fear and envision that a long life is still ahead for all of us. I have faith. I pray. I let go. Although I don’t let it stop me and I work so hard to free myself of this, I still wanted to share and admit the way I really feel about it with you.

When we fly above Malaysia for example, pictured above, or the bright and shiny lights of a big city, I realize how lucky I am. I realize how exciting all of this is. I realize how much I love discovering new worlds and in order to do that, sometimes I just have to get on a plane. People do it every day, all day, all over the world. I am just one of those people. This was my choice and I will still choose it every day, in spite of my fear. I am thankful the wonderful world of aviation exists and that it is such a safe form of travel…probably the safest, right? I am thankful for the captains and technicians involved who assure we arrive in far away lands, safely.

I am thankful for the fearlessness and enthusiasm our boys have for flying. They give me strength. I was never afraid in the same way I am now. When I was alone, I didn’t feel this. It’s because I am so happy and thankful for the precious and most important gifts I’ve been given. My family. With this fear however, comes the strong desire to live completely, happily, fearlessly and with all of the love in my heart. Those desires win over my fear.

Lastly, I want to share a little something the boys said today that made it all just fade away. Aston asked me to do something and I can’t seem to remember what it was. I recall saying, “Oh, Sweetheart, I don’t think I can do that. I don’t think I’m strong enough.” He replied with, ” Mommy, you are the strongest, most beautiful, smartest, most loving ‘gurl’ in the world. You can do anything, Mommy.” Pierce chimed in with, “Yes, Mommy, you are the strongest person I know, except Daddy has really big muscles, and I think you are amazing.”

I cried on the inside and smiled on the outside as I kissed them and gave them the best thing I have to offer in this life…My heart and my pure and unconditional love. Today is another gift and I will continue to enjoy and live fully in each moment.

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Koh Lanta, Here We Come

Ko Lanta Thailand

Our journey begins through the islands of southern Thailand. We took a few vans and this beautiful boat ride to get here…the magnificent Koh Lanta. We are enjoying every second of this journey so far and I can’t wait to share more.

Love in Bangkok

Oriental

I still have so much to share about our stay in Bangkok but for now, we just want to send you all big hugs and lots of Love.
Thank you to the lovely Oriental Residence for welcoming us with such kindness and hospitality. We are happy to have a new home away from home in Bangkok.

We Love Tuk Tuks

tuktuk

We Love cruising around town, with the wind blowing through our hair and taking in all of the energy that is…Bangkok.
The boys now want to move to Thailand because they love Tuk Tuks so much. We are loving this city and all it has to offer for your family and we appreciate the warmth and hospitality so very much. We Love you, Bangkok.

Connection with Humanity

BangkokBoys

Many things happen each day which make me grateful for this journey we are on. I witness the powerful impact on our boys and their awareness and connection with humanity.

Today I wanted to share a couple of these things.

As we traveled across the river on a small boat this evening, we passed an impoverished village. Two little boys were happily rowing on a mattress near us. This photo captures our boys watching them.

After realizing it was a mattress, they thought the boys were so creative and wanted to get on there with them. The four of them stared at each other and seconds later, each waved and smiled very sincere and thoughtful smiles.

Later, as we strolled through the night market, a woman asked for change while her little girl was asleep on her lap.

The boys stopped and asked what we could do to help her. My husband gave them money to put in her cup. They still seemed unsettled. We proceeded a little further and Pierce stopped me and said, ” Mommy, let’s go back there and give her our drinks. I don’t need mine and I’m sure she’s thirsty because it’s so hot. “

These are the moments. The joy and pride I feel being their mother and being a part of introducing them to all that surrounds us. The love and compassion in their hearts amaze me.

Happiness Never Decreases by Being Shared

happyboys2

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared. ~ Buddha

These little boys sure do love spreading and sharing Love.

My Time with Ketut Liyer, Medicine Man

Ketut Sandy
When I visited Bali 13 years ago, I was told there was a very special medicine man, Ketut Liyer, who lived in Ubud. I didn’t get a chance to meet him then. Years later, I read the book, Eat Pray Love and he was was one of the significant characters Elizabeth Gilbert met on her journey. I remember the way I felt when I read the book and saw the movie. I recall feeling like I understood the depth and connection she experienced meeting him as well as the connection she had with Ubud. I related and always knew I would return.

When I found out Ketut was right around the corner from us, I could hardly wait to meet him. I felt his presence in the village. We asked many locals about him and they explained the EPL, Eat Pray Love effect. They said on one hand it’s wonderful that Elizabeth put Bali and especially Ubud, on the map. She definitely inspired a boost in tourism. On the other hand, the Balinese feel that their landscapes have changed so dramatically and are continuing to do so at rapid speeds. Many rice paddies are being taken over by shops, restaurants, villas and massage houses. They are grateful for the changes yet, they miss the quiet and untouched countryside that was once, Ubud.

Ubud is still my favorite place in Bali. It remains tranquil, earthy, artsy, filled with culture and so much warmth and kindness. It is in this peace-loving village that I had the pleasure and honor of spending time with Ketut.

boys2Ketut

I felt deep joy from the the moment we entered his home. I saw him and felt connected immediately. When I sat down with him, I was so, so happy to see his toothless grin and the sparkle in his eyes. I experienced the wisdom of a 100 year old man sitting before me just by looking at him. I felt every bit of his healing energy, without him saying a word. He was so charming and funny and had me laughing so hard, I was crying. This meeting was part of my path. This day, exactly as it was, couldn’t have been more perfect.

KetutSandy2

He read my palm and he analyzed my soul. He told me I would be returning to Bali in the near future and that he wanted me to come back and spend time with him. He adored my family and asked if we would all come back to visit and to please not forget about him.

My husband visited with Ketut also. I never saw a smile on Dana’s face like I witnessed on him in Bali. He opened his heart and let all of the light in. Ketut really liked him and they also had a lovely connection. It was a very beautiful and magical day for all of us.

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DanaKetut

After we each had our time, Ketut asked if the boys would come and sit with him. They were fascinated and must have felt something that we couldn’t explain to them. He asked their names and then asked if they knew his. Little Aston replied with, “Yes, you are Ketut, the medicine man.” He laughed out loud, hugged both boys and we all held hands and savored the special moments we had together.

I will always remember this day. I will continue walking on this path with my heart open and the willingness to see and accept life’s teachers, lessons and answers along the way. I will continue questioning, observing, learning, giving and growing with all of the love in my heart.

Boys Ketut

Lastly, I’d love to share this deeply poignant excerpt from Eat Pray Love. I truly believe in and agree with this sentiment:

I’ve come to believe in something I call the Physics of the Quest. The rule of quest physics goes something like this…

If you’re brave enough to leave everything behind familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house, to bitter, old resentments

And set out on a truth-seeking journey, externally or internally

And if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue

And if you accept everyone along the way as a teacher

And if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then…

The truth will not be withheld from you.

I couldn’t have said this better myself. The truth is being revealed each day and shall continue…

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