Hey lovely readers,
After our ten days of beach life, we flew up to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, based on many recommendations from my friends who had spent time there. On our second day in Chiang Mai, we booked an all day long tour, where one of the stops took us to see Long neck Karen. I didn’t quite understand why we would go see a woman just because she had a long neck, but it turned out to be really eye opening and an emotional experience.
We walked in to what looked like a tribe’s village. Very sparse and vacant, but for a few huts, locals and tourists. Our guide told us a little bit about the village and its people. The families in this village spoke little Thai a they had come from Myanmar (Burma) to escape the fighting in their country. they each had their own stalls selling beautifully woven, bright coloured scarfs and shauls, bags, jewellery, paintings, statues and little figures. Anything they could make with what they had to earn money. The women sell the goods, look after the children whilst the men are out earning money in any way they can, fishing, building or working on land.
We were led through the various stalls to see Long Neck Karen. She had gold coloured rings around her neck, she started wearing them at the age of 5, adding to it continuously throughout her life. It was tradition to wear the golden neck piece, and of course because it was never taken off, it stretched out their necks. We were shown a photo of them without and their necks were really elongated. Unsurprisingly, they suffer with headaches and neck ache when they don’t wear them so they keep them on, even to sleep in.
We walked past a small hut with a donation box outside. Within the hut was a blackboard, and 5 rows of wooden planks about a foot off the ground. It was the village school. No bigger than most UK family bathrooms, the school room was there to learn basic English, Maths and Thai. This was all the education the children received. As much as I feel schools can do so much more with the education our children receive in the UK, it is lights years ahead of what others in the world get. We forget this, but seeing that tiny classroom really brought it home and tears filled my eyes.
Each and every one of us in the Western world are born into a world where we can make a difference.
We are born into a world of opportunities, but the mindset some that take it for granted seem to believe they are owed something, or that they have problems bigger than everyone else. The fact is that everyone makes their own choices, influenced by their friends, family, upbringing and environment. What we see growing up is who we believe ourselves to be, the beliefs that are those of our parents shape us without even knowing it, but whatever life you’re born into, in countries such as the UK and USA you can step out of it with a desire and a dream that is big enough. Sadly, this is not the same of the long neck tribe. For they do not have the same resources and opportunities that we do.
At first I said it was like a zoo, something i don’t particularly agree with as I believe animals should be kept in their natural habitat. However, if it weren’t for tourists coming to the village, leaving donations in the school box, buying souvenirs or items of clothing, then these people would struggle to survive. They rely on visitors paying to see their long necks and buying their stall items. One woman spent 20 full days weaving a cotton top, charging only 500 Baht, £10. Isn’t that an upsetting life? Isn’t that just surviving, existing, when life is for living?
They didn’t seem particularly happy and unfortunately are just existing as they don’t have the opportunities that we do in life. Life is an adventure, a picture of bright colours, happy faces and sounds of joy. Life is not to just simply exist to earn money to pay the bills and put food on the table. It is to to grab with both hands, jump in with both feet, with every ounce of your soul and seek what’s in your heart.
8 STEPS TO BEGIN LIVING:
1. Love yourself unconditionally.
Don’t be hard on yourself, celebrate your own successes, learn to love your flaws and focus on your strengths. However you think of yourself is how you will treat others, so be kind to yourself and your relationships will improve as a result. This may take time, but it’s worth it. It’s your only life!
2. Find Your Passion.
Find it and do it. Forget where you’re from, what the ‘normal’ life is and what your parents want or expect you to do. Their intentions are always real, heartfelt and genuine, but may not be right for you. When you find a line of work you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
3. Dare to be different.
Find your inner strength to break away from the mould and do something different, if that’s something that’s bubbling within you. If it is, then it will always be there no matter how hard you try to bury it. Don’t do a job just because that’s what your degree is in, skills are learnable in everything, and if you’re passionate about it you will be successful. Passion is the fuel to success.
4. Self expression
Stop caring what others think, as they aren’t the ones who pay your bills and live your life. Don’t we all love how a child say it how it is with such inner authority? When we grow into adults, this authority is lost through a need for the approval of others, our focus is turned outward rather than inward. This means being true to who you are and not hiding parts of yourself that you don’t like. Put yourself and your dreams first. Find your own self expression, remain true to your values and lead with your heart.
5. Raise your awareness.
Treat everyone as an equal. We are born from the same source, the same energy, the same planet. Confucius said, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” This needs an awareness of your actions & behaviour, as awareness is the first step to change. No matter how much or how little you have, what car you drive, what job you have, what beliefs you have, everyone deserves the same respect.
6. Prioritise Health
Respect your body, treat it well. Your Health is your most prized possession, your body is the only one you have, as is your mind. Problems, illness and disease don’t always just happen; they can be caused by years of abuse from a variety of factors including the wrong foods for your body, excessive sugar, alcohol and drugs, stress, negative thoughts, chemically based beauty products and toxic relationships. Everything can positively or negatively impact your health, so the smallest daily changes make a huge difference.
“Let food by thy medicine and medicine be they food.” Hippocrates.
7. Have gratitude.
This possibly has the most profound impact when you appreciate every single thing you have. Focus on the good in your life, no matter how hard life seems to get, a happy, fulfilled and abundant life does not stem from focusing on the bad, on what you don’t like, it stems from the goodness you have and that which you appreciate. Wake up each morning and write down 5 things you’re grateful for. When you do this every day, you start the day off with a smile and get out of bed on the grateful side of the bed.
8. Chase the vision, not the money.
Anyone can make money, but it’s making a life worth living that’s the real test.
Much love until next time,