I must confess…I’m addicted to organizing and planning. There, I said it! Now I need to organize a few words around it. As a loyal, addicted organizer I’ll start with making a key word list of items I’d like to write about. Let’s start with describing how organized I am (or not!).

Hiding the unorganized

Can you organize a mess? Yes you can, just put it in a box or in this case a bag.

I wish it would apply to anything I could or should organize, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Yes, my clothes closet is somewhat structured (by color). Same with my books, they are catalogued by the color of the cover. Yet, my kitchen drawers are a mess, same with most of my desk drawers, and I have a few piles of paperwork and knick knacks. Some things are just hard to keep organized I guess…

Artwork by Ursus Wehrli.

Larger scale: Organized parking lot by Ursus Wehrli.

Although they have a different meaning, planning and organizing are two concepts that complement each other. Actually, I think you cannot have one without the other. I wonder why some people (including myself) love organizing and planning, for example, this artist named Ursus Wehrli who takes it to the extreme—with beautiful results I think—adding a new dimension to the meaning of the different parts that make an object or scene. Organization gives meaning to the experience and improves it at the same time. For me, planning and organizing is not only fun to do, it also removes stress, I worry less because I did my homework. I feel I have a little more control over the chaos called life.

Making a list and checking it twice

When it comes to planning and knowledge, you guessed it, I LOVE lists and tables. “Making a list checking it twice”, is my mantra. Shopping lists, to-do lists, itineraries, tracking costs lists, wish list, logs, references (for example, metric conversion)…are there any other lists? Please let me know!

My favorite thing to organize and plan? Travel! There’s so much to figure out and put on lists for a vacation, I usually start months in advance. I just started the organization of a month long trip to Thailand next year, my earliest planning ever, 12 months in advance!

Got itinerary?

Unfortunately I can’t check flights at the moment, because they are not available yet. However, I was able to figure out which airlines have the best departure and arrival times. I also calculated the average price per mile, and found out that Tuesday is the best day to book an International flight. The cheapest flight days are Tuesday-Thursday. How’s that for a start? Research is a major part of planning, and one of my favorite aspects of organizing anything.

The next best thing: finding places to visit and what to do at the selected destination. No, I don’t get this down to the hour, like an organized group travel package would force upon you. Instead, I just make a wish list of possible fun things to do. Thailand is a huge country with a very diverse landscape. I’ve visited 3 times and just covered a few small areas. The often humid and hot tropical climate does not contribute to actively hopping around from one place to the other.

The first time I got off the plane in Bangkok and left the air-conditioned terminal, a wet, warm blanket wrapped itself around me and I immediately had to cut my pace and our itinerary in half. This time I really want to take my time and not travel too much within the country. I selected three places to visit: the big city of Bangkok, a small town Ayutthaya, and a small island near Bangkok.

Bungalows on a Thai beach

Bungalows on Thai beach

Next: a trip to the bookstore and library. One good (Lonely Planet) guide I purchase and the rest I get at the library. The first three times I went to Thailand with friends, this time I travel with my 12 year (will be 13) old daughter, which means I have to look for some teenage activities as well.

We’ll have about 28 days, some shortened by travel. I roughly estimate the time we need for each of the three places, with the beach taking at least two weeks for some extreme unwinding. Tripadvisor is one of my favorite travel websites, not only can I see the trips and tips of my (facebook) friends, I can also find customer ratings and reviews, including pictures.

Organizing Heaven

What to do where? Tripadvisior will show you a huge list and I love the fact I can ask people who just recently visited the place I plan to visit, how it was, how the weather was, how much they paid, etc. We are traveling during the rainy season, so it’s good to know where and when the season starts and flows (it starts in the North of Thailand and moves down, reaching the South near October.

Through Tripadvisor I found a perfect beach (how perfect it actually is I’ll describe in my future Tripadvisor review). It ticks off all the “would like to haves” from my list: Small beach, just a few resorts, no sunbeds and parasols, quiet and peaceful. For the two cities I selected, I gathered information about both lodging and activities. On the beach my accommodation can be pretty simple, since we’ll be on the beach or in the water most of the time. A simple hut/bungalow (comes close to camping) with a fan will suffice.

For both Bangkok and Ayutthaya I selected small hotels with a pool. After lots of walking and biking (in Ayutthaya biking around is a great way to go sightseeing) in the tropical heat, it’s nice to cool down in a pool at the end of the day.

What to bring? Part of my early planning is spreading the budget. There are a lot of things we need before departure, like backpacks and good shoes, waterproof bags, quick drying compact towels, solar lights etc. Buying things now, or when they are on sale will not only save us money, but also take things off the packing list, avoiding last-minute shopping trips and stress.  I have a “before-departure” packing list and a “shopping-upon-arrival” list (because I carry my backback with me, I need to keep it light, and many things are much cheaper in Thailand).

Touts, Tuk-Tuk’s & Gems Scams

The other day I read a story from a dad who traveled with his family to Thailand for the first time. In front of their Bangkok hotel the jet lagged family got immediately lured into one of the most described scams in Thailand, the tuk-tuk tour. I felt sorry for them, but I also think it’s extremely stupid to visit a new country and culture without informing yourself properly.

Tuk tuk driver

Tuk tuk driver in Bangkok.

Do as the Romans do

But what if you don’t know what Romans do? You have to find out! Do your homework! Read, ask! It just makes your life so much easier and your travel so much more enjoyable. For the Thai a smile is very important, so perhaps you should practice replacing that serious frown with a happy expression. They love having fun also called “sanuk”. When asked you can respond with “sanuk mak” (it’s lots of fun). Learning a few basic words and sentences, is always appreciated! Here are a few more tips you can easily find in most travel guides: don’t point your feet at people or things, don’t touch their head, don’t raise your voice (Thai are usually mild-mannered and soft-spoken). Do dress properly when entering a temple, say “thank you” and most important of all: do smile a lot!

It looks like my Thai trip is coming along nicely, I have to return to that unorganized red bag now, it is bugging me!

To be continued…

Words (and a little reflection)

Life seems to be a collection of returns. Return to self mostly, and living seems to be a collection of distractions. Today I re-visited this blog I neglected for months (busy collecting words?) and started with the poem “Inexorable Deities” by Edgar Lee Masters, that re-ignited my wondering around this life and the urge to express myself both through words and images.

10154251_10204000986491183_6924597982645955197_nIn a recent interview with fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg she was asked about the things she was proudest of. The first part of her answer included her children, but then came some words that really resonated with me at a rather deep level: “I trust myself, I respect myself, I know I am a good girl. I know I can rely on myself. I like my own company. I’m funny. I talk to myself and have a good time.”

I turned her answer into questions for myself: Do I trust myself and know I can rely on myself? Do I respect myself? I know I’am funny and a good girl as well, yet I could add a little more respect and trust. Looking back at the rocky past 5 years I know I can rely on myself…

I have to admit something, I am turning 50 very soon, and maybe that’s why I am reflecting on things. No, not worried, I actually embrace getting older, the “ripening” process feels good. I still have dreams, and maybe I should dare to dream a little bigger perhaps…

“When your mind is stretched by a big idea, it will never return to it’s original shape”. – Thomas Carlyle

Getting to this point in life I see as an opportunity to come even closer to my core and from there I feel I have the perfect vantage point of taking in more of this beautiful realm and share and spread out, sparkling up other souls in need of a little light.

All is well,


Inexorable Deities

Inexorable Deities

Inexorable revealers,
Give me strength to endure
The gifts of the Muses,
Daughters of Memory.
When the sky is blue as Minerva’s eyes
Let me stand unshaken;
When the sea sings to the rising sun
Let me be unafraid;
When the meadow lark falls like a meteor
Through the light of afternoon,
An unloosened fountain of rapture,
Keep my heart from spilling
Its vital power;
When at the dawn
The dim souls of crocuses hear the calls
Of waking birds,
Give me to live but master the loveliness.
Keep my eyes unharmed from splendors
Unveiled by you,
And my ears at peace
Filled no less with the music
Of Passion and Pain, growth and change.
But O ye sacred and terrible powers,
Reckless of my mortality,
Strengthen me to behold a face,
To know the spirit of a beloved one
Yet to endure, yet to dare!

Edgar Lee Masters

The missing dot

The other day, during a deeper conversation with my 9 year old daughter, we discussed how by gaining knowledge and insights we can enrich our life and that of others. This is a daily process, and sometimes a “dot” or connection is missing, or out of sight for a while.

We do not progress at the same speed or with the same rhythm all the time. I tried to explain the idea to her and used the metaphor of the “connecting the dots” drawing game. The more dots there are, the harder it is to make some of the connections.

As I tried to finish one myself in preparation of this post, I discovered a missing dot/number, it required me to zoom out and look at the whole picture I had drawn so far. This way I was able to make the correct connection with the next dot. When we stagnate within a certain development or project, seeing the whole picture may help finding missing links towards continuation.

The phrase “connecting the dots” can also be used as a metaphor to illustrate an ability (or inability) to associate one idea with another, to find the “big picture”, or salient feature, in a mass of data. In the case of computer technology, missing a dot can even cause a country to drop off the world wide web, as they encountered in 2009 in Sweden.

“What was essentially a typo last night resulted in the temporary disappearance from the Internet of almost a million Web sites in Sweden — every address with a .se top-level down name. “The .se registry used an incorrectly configured script to update the .se zone, which introduced an error to every single .se domain name,” says Pingdom. “We have spoken to a number of industry insiders and what happened is that when updating the data, the script did not add a terminating ‘.’ to the DNS records in the .se zone. That trailing dot is necessary in the settings for DNS to understand that ‘.se” is the top-level domain. It is a seemingly small detail, but without it, the whole DNS lookup chain broke down.”

I think what distinguishes scientists, artists, and certain entrepreneurs from other people is that their creativity allows them to make unexpected connections between the dots. They can see both tree and forest at the same time, and make sense of it (or as some artists do to make nonsense out of it, like Dadaism). Being able to see and treasure the “dot” in front of you, will show you the path to the next one and/or make the right connection. As far as the human connections are concerned, the Karmic Connection versus Soul Mate is a very interesting one, which is for another post.

My daughter “got the picture” and referred to other related images, like the star constellations and chemical/molecular structures. Our dialog concluded, as I observed that life is not just one “connect the dots” picture, but a whole series. To which she replied: “I wonder mom, how all these images look together, at the end of your life.”

Axiom of Life

Axiom of Life

In my eyes of heart
In my heart of eyes
Magical moon had lit
Many stars smiled
Over my clouded heart

On my drums of heart
On my heart of drums
Songs played magically
Music oozed slowly
Over my beat less heart

To my dreams of heart
To my heart of dreams
Life roused freshly
Smile smiled smilingly
On dry lips of my heart

For my life of heart
For my heart of life
Colors faded naturally
Season changed timely
For me to be my part

Kranthi Pothineni

Sometimes a certain theme appears in your life, and all of a sudden you see it everywhere. It’s the middle of the summer, far away from Valentines, yet hearts show up every day now, in the most unexpected places.

I listened to an interview called “From Heartache to Joy” with Mindie Kniss the other day; her website is titled “Restart your Heart.” Last night I was watching a live Internet event called HeartCore women and suddenly my heart started beating faster, what’s up with all these hearts I wondered…?

One sentence that struck me during the HeartCore discussion was: “What is more important, a great dental insurance, or doing what you love to do?” I love my job, and yes it even comes with a good dental insurance. Can I just love my job, or do we all need to change, chase “success” and earn a lot of bucks?

Another realization I had, was that it seems that 9 out of 10 successful business women are coaches. Is that what it takes, or is it the best way to fame? I don’t want to be a coach! What do I want?

This question and several related ones followed me for several hours, what do I really love to do? How do I like to do what I like? Is there something I could be doing, that I would love even more? Who could help me to solve the matters of the heart?

That same evening I dear friend who lives in Singapore, pinged me on facebook, her newborn baby woke up at 4 am, so while feeding the baby we chatted for a while. She’s a coach, a great one I must say. She told me she needed online marketing and social media help. As we discussed a compensation I suggested that she could coach me, with everything that was currently going on I could certainly need some feedback and guidance!

That night I woke up at 2 am, not sure why, could have been the lightning and thunder. I listened to the sound of rainfall for a while, hoping to fall back asleep. Instead I got drenched in a down poor of words and thoughts. I got up and made a few notes on the first piece of paper I could find. In the dim light my eyes were challenged to focus. In the morning I had a hard time to decipher my mixed words, like putting puzzle pieces of a dream together.

I started to connect the dots (I’ll post more about that later): in 2009 I did everything I could to attend a 3 day workshop in Utah, called Book Publishing 2.0, hosted by Michael Drew and a whole team of other great people. A few years ago, I started not only this blog, but several other ones as well. Further back in time, at least 25 years ago, I wrote a short essay about the essence of being a woman. Finally the fog lifted and I saw the answer to my question: “What do I love doing?” clearly: I love writing!

I love reading, I love doing research, but above all I LOVE WRITING! I’m not a large crowd person, I feel best when in solitude. Writing suits me well. I also realized that what coaches do via personal interaction, I can accomplish via my writing: Inspiring people to living an optimal life.

Bless the heart,

♥ Mo

Update on Aug 14: I received this via an email: “Take care of your heart.  Nurture it and fill it with hope regardless of what has occurred.” Veronica

Your last jacket does not have any pockets

Approaching 50 made me re-evaluate my goals in life, and ponder what is important and meaningful to me to focus on? What do I still want to accomplish before I get really old? What is on my bucket list and how can I realize these things?

I noticed that having certain things is much less important to me than doing/seeing certain things. I think that when you’re getting to that point where the daily trip to your rocking chair becomes a challenge these “things” no longer serve you, they become meaningless ballast. What you need at that point are memories, many of them, and preferably happy ones.

When your body is too old to do major physical work it is nice to “return” to that awesome trip to Joshua Tree State park, when hiking between the cacti, watching the coyotes play hide and seek, or the first time you went down a difficult slope on your skis and managed to arrive in one piece.

When your eyes no longer see sharp, near or far, it is great to see the sights in your mind’s eye like that sunset in the South of France that was so red you thought the lake was on fire, or the hundreds of floating flower arrangements, lit by candles leaving trails of light on the dark sea, during the Loy Kratong celebration on a Thai island.

Making memories is more important than obtaining materials, things break or become obsolete and only satisfy for a short time, memories are always there to cheer up a dull or sad moment. I realize now that these memories seem very small and unimpressive, a butterfly landing on your hand, a banana bread coming out of the oven, a piece of music, the purring cat in your lap.

So many of us are chasing the latest gadgets, a bigger car, a better house, that must have outfit, more money in the bank, a large nest egg, and think that happiness comes from/with that, yet when you’re old you do not remember that iPad, you remember that lake where you found a 250 million year old fossil. My mom always says: “Your last jacket does not have any pockets” and she’s right, enjoy live now to the fullest, collect memories, not things!

Namasté, Mo