Do you ever work? April 2017

Do you ever work? Are you ever home? It must be nice to take off to another country and leave all your worries behind. Wow, you must have no stress!

These are all questions and comments I hear quite regularly. This morning, I woke up to four such comments on social media. I’m sure folks mean well and are just trying to be funny. The fact is, it’s a little off-putting. Yes, I come to Thailand a few times a year for six or seven weeks each time. Yes, it’s fantastic! Yes, it’s beautiful! Yes, it’s totally worth it! No, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.

I work six days a week in Thailand. Due to the 14-hour time difference, I start work at 4:00am, which is 2:00pm in Seattle where my business is located. Waking up so early gives me time to respond to my customers on the same day as their requests, take care of any employee concerns, work on scheduling, etc. So while my friends in Thailand are up partying until 2:00am, I’m the one who makes sure I’m in bed by 10:30 each night so I can get at least 5 hours of sleep before work. It’s a common joke when meeting friends for coffee each morning that I’ve already worked six hours before they’re even awake. I reserve Sundays and Mondays (Saturdays and Sundays in the U.S.) for fun days like diving or other excursions before I start working again Monday night. It’s just how I make do and it works for me. This small sacrifice allows me the opportunity to work while watching the sunrise each morning, keep my customers happy, and go on adventures in the afternoon. This is how I live as a digital nomad.

I still fully run my company while I’m gone. I still have all the stresses of being a business owner and employer… but from nearly 8000 miles away. When an employee gives notice, leaving you high and dry, you make do with what you have, trying to conduct interviews online at 4:00am so everything doesn’t fall apart. When someone takes your company car without permission and wrecks it… you do what you can from 8000 miles away. It’s just like working from home, but with flip flops and a lot more hurdles.

Woe is me? Not even close!

Luckily, I have a partner at home who takes care of all the household stuff and is even coordinating our master bathroom remodel, which is almost finished! We stay connected by talking every day, sending photos and staying close. He’s a terrific partner who has listened through my tears and reminds me of my accomplishments while encouraging me to “kick some ass”. I truly am blessed. And let’s face it, missing each other is really good for our marriage.

I miss my adult children. I miss my family. I miss my closest friends. I miss getting my hair done and having a good pedicure. I miss knowing what each scent in the air is at home, and big hint, it’s not raw sewage or burning plastic. I miss not having to check my bed for creepy crawlies before climbing in. Hell, I miss putting toilet paper in the actual toilet. But I don’t miss mass consumerism. I don’t miss politics. I don’t miss living in a country where everyone assumes your religious or political beliefs are identical to their’s. I don’t miss racism. I certainly don’t miss the rain. Mainly, I miss my people and my dogs.

This little ex-pat community I live in, Kantiang Bay, is filled with people doing the same thing. Most aren’t working at 4am, but each of us has found what it takes to make this nomadic life work best. Interestingly, what we all have in common, is that we’re all doing THE THING. You know The Thing? It’s the thing everyone dreams of doing some day, but most never do. In this ex-pat community, we’ve all chosen a life of travel, adventure, beauty, and often chaos.

Many of my ex-patriot friends are here six months at a time. Some are here indefinitely. Some have no idea how long they’ll stay. All make it work. Some are Dive Instructors, Dive Masters, Dive Photographers or manage dive shops. Some follow the dive seasons around the globe. Some are retirees. Some own bars or restaurants. Some work their asses off for six months in their home country and then come here to chill for six months. Like me, some are digital nomads who rent a house in Thailand year-round and come back as their schedule allows. But what we ALL have in common is that we were all brave enough to do THE THING.

Sure, it’s a pain in the ass sometimes. Even as I type this, the power has gone off about 10 times in 30 minutes. No power = No WiFi. The phrase, “Oh, Thailand” is one I use at least a few times a day. But when I’ve pulled an 8-hour work day before noon and then have the rest of the day to do whatever I want in this tropical paradise, it’s all worth it.

If you’ve ever considered a part-time move, I highly encourage it. You don’t have to chuck it all to live in paradise or to do The Thing. You just have to pull up your big-girl panties and go for it! Give it a try. Plan a trip. Read up on the Visa situation for whichever country you’re interested in. Try not staying in a posh hotel where they make your bed and clean for you. Get a place with a kitchen. Fully immerse yourself in a new, maybe temporary life, to see if it can work for you. And make sure you have a great WiFi connection.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” ~ Mark Twain

The Hole, August 2014

The Hole

Crying in the shower 

till the hot water runs out

The tears could fill the tub again

The heart an unrelenting spout

 

Don’t feed the monster –

Afraid to eat

Vomit the only way for the hurt to excrete

 

Heartache, emptiness, anger –

The endless pain

That never seems to wean

 

The hole can’t be filled.

 

You can’t cry it away!

 

You can’t drink away!

 

You can’t fuck it away!

 

Trust me, I’ve tried

The heart keeps pumping

An endless tide

 

All you can do is stare at the hole

Wish it away

Try to fill it with another glass of Cabernet

 

Like a twisted episode of the Twilight Zone

The hour of my discontent

Time for healing unknown

 

You realize the black hole was always there

Plugged for a while

Waiting to tear

 

Filled with 9 years of lies

While the love rotted

Covered in flies

 

Filled with remodels and websites

With exotic trips

But never insights.

 

Filled with psychotic episodes

Masking the trust

As it corrodes

 

Filled with hope and empty promises

The love was sick

A kidney on dialysis

 

No chance of recovery

The reasons are a mystery

 

It’s alright. I digress

No solution or resolution

Our love was a mess.

 

It’s okay, baby.

At the end of the day

I’ll recover – but you, my darling

You’ll always be this way

 

~ Jen Troyer, August 2014

Day 16

There’s a stench in the air, it’s just hanging there
It’s the smell of a heart that’s dead
Buzzards flying overhead

The ache, the pain. Ah man, the burning sting
that first time you see him
without his wedding ring

“Soul mates” he said, “Spend eternity with me” he said
Those lies rest in a bubble over his head
The vows not kept, the hurt widespread

You tell yourself this isn’t real, this can’t be true
The pain sinks in as his words push through
“I’m just not in love with you”

He talks of family like he’s so noble
but where I come from
families aren’t disposable

Thank you for the epiphany, the realization I didn’t have before
The absolute understanding that I deserve more
The truth… I am no longer yours to ignore.


~ Jen Troyer, July 2014

Cocoon, July 2014

Cocoon

In the past 22 hours, 3 people have told me I seem softer and don’t have my usual edge. I know what they’re talking about. I’m not offended. I am coming into my own.

I now acknowledge what I refused to believe/see/feel the previous year. And now I’m discovering that I can’t be hurt unless I allow it, that I can’t be lied to without accepting a lie as truth, that I can’t be devalued without first lacking self-worth. I am reclaiming my merit, my deservedness and realizing that only I can determine my significance. Speaking my new truth has indeed softened me.

While I know I have a lot to work on still, I am really loving this new me, this new woman. She’s not a new self, a new brain, a new heart or a new body. The core parts of this woman have always been there. She’s a modified version of a former truth. She was just waiting, wrapped snugly in her cocoon. And as soon as she stopped seeing herself through someone else’s eyes – The beautiful butterfly with delicate wings started to emerge. She is, no, I am becoming the woman I was meant to be. And I am going to be okay.

~ Jen Troyer, July 2014

No Gray, January 2009

No Gray

Gray: “Dull in color, lacking cheer or brightness in

mood, outlook, style, or flavor”

My world is black and white

I see no gray

 

I am skinny or fat, tall or short

happy or sad, sunny or cloudy

in-love or not

there are no in-betweens for me

 

You are liberal or conservative

caffeinated or not

middle of the road doesn’t work

this is how I see you

 

You either love me or hate me

you’re with me or against me

you see me as who I truly am

…or you reject me

 

You long to be with me or can’t wait to get away

you are my everything or

…nothing at all

 

I wonder where this came from

it’s always been the case

right or wrong

it’s just me

 

Perhaps with renewed hope

I’ll see different shades

the lightness and darkness

…the different hues of me

 

~ Jen Troyer , January 2009

Little Girl, November 2007

Little Girl

 

Tears shed, happy and sad

Heartbreak, both mine and yours

Unconditional love, my feelings for you

Overwhelming joy, what you’ve given to me

 

I know you can’t see through 15 year old eyes

The decisions I made were for both of us

The times you saved my life because I was coming home to you

My real birth date it’s not 1971….it’s April 1992

 

You don’t have to like me or even love me

But you are stuck with me

I’m the only mother you’ll ever have

And I’m not going anywhere

 

So listen up:

  • I want you to want what’s best for you
  • Demand respect from others, by having self-respect
  • Determine where your life goes, by choosing your path wisely
  • See the world and all it has to offer, create your own destiny
  • Give your heart away, but only to someone who is worthy
  • Give to those less fortunate, but first be good to yourself
  • Shout out loud and make yourself heard, and know when to just listen
  • Have your own opinion and stand up for what you believe, but do your research
  • Vote…every time, it is not your right, it’s your obligation
  • Support other women, there’s a long line of women who stood up for you
  • If something seems too good to be true, say “No, thank you”.
  • Avoid dangerous situations, but know how to protect yourself
  • Hold doors open for the elderly, and don’t be offended if someone opens the door for you
  • Wear clean underwear, brush your teeth, and be thankful
  • Show compassion – through all of your actions
  • Believe in yourself, even when you think no one else does
  • Always – always – always know that I love you

 

~ Jen Troyer, November 2007

 

Limbo, May 2007

Limbo

I am in Limbo. Somewhere between Heaven and Hell – without believing either ever existed. This is where dead souls come to wait, to be rescued from the chaos they’ve created in their own lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t intentionally come here. I just loved. That’s supposed to be good and pure and light – and it was for a while. For a while it was beautiful and amazing, it was warm and it was happy – until it was revealed that it was all a lie. A made up place in a person’s mind, a place I could visit but never stay.

I’m a crack whore or a meth addict. I just want more. I want one more hit of that place with you. I know what could be waiting at the end of the road for me, but I just want more. I want to feel that way again. One more hit, one more kiss, one more orgasm, and then I’ll stop being addicted to you.

I’m a born again Christian, just trying to do everything right so I can get to that place – that made up place somewhere out there, so I can be saved by you. Just like a Christian, who has been made to believe all the scary things you say: Love me or go to hell, Reject me and go to hell. But loving you is hell. Loving you means rejecting me.

Just one more hit, one more orgasm, one more kiss, one more embrace, then I’ll stop my addiction.

I’m Dorothy in my own sick Wizard of Oz, just trying to go home. But I don’t know where home is anymore and I keep following some God dammed brick road stained yellow from the piss of every failed relationship I’ve ever had. And if I look closely, I realize you’re the wizard of oz and I’m every fucking character. You stole my heart. You stole my brain. You stole my mother fucking identity and just gave me a hint of your made up Kansas.

But I just want one more hit, one more orgasm, one more click of my heels and then I’ll go…or you’ll stay and realize that we made heaven ourselves.

~ Jen Troyer, May 2007