California Christmas Break News!

December 30, 2011

opening presents Christmas morning

It is hard to surpass the joy of Christmas morning with a kid in the household and these photos of bliss say it all. We feel our Christmas Break in California has been a very rewarding travel experience on many levels. Having been gone for 6 years, traveling the world as a family, it's been almost like re-exploring a new place. Quality time with family has been priceless.

California Christmas break

We have had challenges this year, but perhaps that is why we cherish these blessings even more.

I loved this Dr. Dean Ornish quote I recently came upon:

"we sometimes view the time we spend relaxing, meditating, and hanging out with our friends and family as luxuries that we do only after the important stuff in our lives is done...studies make it clear that this IS the important stuff."

Lots of home made gifts of love

My prolonged travel health crisis has certainly made this view absolutely clear. I can see in perfect 20/20 hindsight that keeping up with this blog and social media ( even when I had a paralyzed arm for over a year) added more stress to my life than I probably should have.

Type A person that I am, I have had to learn the hard way that at almost 60, I need to do less and spend even more time relaxing and being unplugged. It still amazes me that after I retired early, I still found ways to work too hard. There is a reason why few blogs, especially constantly-on-the-move,  family travel blogs are not as old as ours. We are ancient in blog terms...more so even in the travel realm that just keeps exploding ( and almost nobody makes any money on it). The problem with being online, is there is always more to do, sitting appears to be a lethal activity and no matter how much I do, I always feel behind because life happens at a faster pace than one can write about it.

  I enjoy the process and adore my readers,  but I am just not going to work that hard any more, especially battling very slow internet on the move and the stress that adds.  Photo blogs with lots of links are time intensive undertakings, creates the most stress in my life and I have been doing this non-stop..despite the many challenges,  since 2006. I am outnumbered and my email alone, is all but impossible to keep up with.

I've struggled quite a long time on how to blog  while traveling, and all that comes with that,  but have learned a few things along the way that hopefully will help me.

I can tell you that 2012 for me...a dragon in a dragon year in Asia...( kidlet is a dragon too in Chinese astrology terms and funnily the description fits us) ...will be dedicated to me getting healthier than I have ever been and losing my excess weight. Asia is a perfect place for that and works well with our goal for kidlet to increase her Mandarin fluency. This illness has been a great wake up call to what my priorities are. I love helping others by sharing our experiences, but the blog has been stealing too much of my precious time, so I will do things differently with the focus on my health first. My body simply refuses to sit for hours any more, getting a simple post like this up. I must find a new way.

Summer clothes for tropical Asia

Alas, I still don't have a diagnosis for this ongoing mysterious health problem that continues to plague me despite going to tons of MD's and alternative healers. It has been quite an amazing journey in itself and I will be writing more about all that I have learned as time goes on.

We have a long-ago-booked flight to Asia this coming Monday. But, we have decided that we should probably not go to Asia until I at least have a diagnosis or more information about what is going on. The hospitals seem okay in Penang, but I don't have my highest confidence in them for a life and death matter. ( The Indonesians love the Penang hospitals which are far superior to theirs, but some westerners complain about their experiences). There is a private hospital in Bangkok that I have more confidence in because I know many who have personally used it and rave about it. Certainly the hospital prices are much better in Asia than America.

The problem is that Bangkok is a 7 to 10 hour train away or short flight away and since my condition often flips on a dime to a level 10 pain ( on a scale of 1 to 10 and 10 being dying) I don't feel confident enough to even take a 23 hour flight or be in a place where I don't fully trust the hospitals close by.

So we have decided to do some more tests here like an MRI to hopefully get more information. I've  also just started quite a radical ( but easy) natural approach to healing my pancreas and that has helped my pain considerably, so I will continue to pursue that which is easier done in California than in Asia. I am cautiously optimistic and grateful to Dr. Jeff McComb for his generous help and wisdom.

The good news is my body seems to respond very well to holistic health approaches, but thus far nothing has been sustainable ( pain returns) and I think part of the problem is no diagnosis ( despite so many tests). Thus, it seems clear that to move forward, we need to know what I am dealing with so we can treat it correctly, instead of guessing. Finding the diagnosis has been frustrating to say the least and my medical file is beginning to look huge.

Our plan is still to get to Asia as soon as possible, but it does look doubtful at this point that we will make our Monday flight. This brings up a whole can of worms because her school starts then and now we have to rearrange all our plans and renew our special health insurance that we get for the USA. BUT, you got to do what you have to do and this seems like our logical next step.

California beach sunrise at Christmas

Hope your Christmas was Divine and wishing you an exciting, prosperous, healthy New Year!!

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Melissa Read (readontheroad

I wwill miss the blog posts but totally understand and wholeheartedly support you putting your health first, I know only too well what a time and attention suck the photos and blog can be, and we never approached what you have done. Those of us who love your blog can enjoy reading through the old posts, they can be even better the second time with the comment stream added in! I pray you soon have a diagnosis so you can completely heal- health is a non-negotiable basic to live your life- so I'm glad you're putting it first, I'm sure the extra time near your family will be enjoyed by all! Wishing you a return of the best of health in the new year!

Jeanne soultravelers3

Aw, thanks so much Melissa! You are so kind and sweet!! I will still do blog posts, but I will definitely be doing things differently.

More slower like I am doing more now, or blogging ahead like I did this summer ...doing just a few hours every morning when my energy is best. Or shorter posts with just one photo...often with links to previous posts that do get lost in the shuffle of time.

It's a full time job just dealing with our photos..who knew? ;)

Right now I can't even sit up that long, nor do I have the energy for long posts, so I will squeak out what I can, strictly on my own terms.

One of my great lessons in this is listening to all my voices within. I have a bad habit of pushing past limits just on sheer will power.

It has served me well in life, but this has taught me a lot about letting go of that "task master" and pacing myself in a much more relaxed way. I can't tell you how much I just enjoyed lazing around reading classics this summer. All spare time doesn't have to be blog or social media time. ;)

This has put me on my knees in many ways and given me insight into what life is like with very limited energy resources.

I am one of those women who "does too much" ( probably sounds familiar too many women!! ;) ) and I am not as good at pacing myself like my husband. There have been plenty of nights that in my enthusiasm, I stayed up all night working on the blog.

I am too old for that nonsense, so have to change my "wicked" ways now. ;)

I hope I will get a diagnosis soon and I do still think that I will beat this and rise again like the phoenix. These kind of big falls and then rebirth have been a pattern for me. ;)

What doesn't kill us, strengthens us, eh? ;)

Wishing you a wonderful 2012!


How I do understand, and sympathize with you! We're about the same age, and there are days when I can hardly do anything, and I still have some working years to go! My doctor I saw yesterday about something very minor compared to your health problem is a wonderful woman, and she said to me: 'I'm going to be unpleasant now, but you're 57 and you need to take better care of yourself.' Lesson taken.
I had a blog that I dropped after one year. Too much stress to get everything in order.
So dear phoenix, do get better and enjoy life and your wonderful family! Carpe diem! (says she, who has so much trouble carping the diem herself...)

Wishing you a much much enjoyable 2012. Hugs.


Thinking of you and your family Jeanne this Christmas, and wishing you a healing and healthier New Year. My husband and I are Dragons too, so we're looking forward to the new year and all the good things to come. I've always admired your ability to blog and travel. I struggle with even the desire to blog, even though I have so much to write about. Blessings to you on a speedy and wholesome recovery. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! Jenn

Jeanne soultravelers3

Aw, thanks Nadine! You ( and Melissa and Jenn etc) are exactly the reason I will keep on blogging...we have met so many wonderful people through it!!

But yes, indeed, as one approaches 60, life is different and we must keep our health in the forefront. This struggle of mine has certainly alerted me to that and I am grateful for the "wake up call".

I am hardy, so have taken my health for granted most of my life. I've known for quite some time that I am too old to be this fat, but haven't made it a priority, but this wake up call has me learning lots about health and eating.

BIG hugs to you and wishing you and yours a wonderful 2012!!

Jeanne soultravelers3

Thanks heaps Jenn! Cool to hear you guys are Dragons too! Blogging long term ( and all that comes with that..especially on the move..and with kids and homeschool) is a bigger challenge than most people realize.

I love it, but one really has to be careful to not get sucked into a never ending, all consuming, online pit with it.

I am still learning how to do that and am grateful that this health issue ( and my total lack of energy, except for a bit in the morning sometimes like today) is teaching me more.

Blogging for me is a labor of love, so all the more important to do it on my own terms in a healthy way. ;) It is not the blogging so much that is the problem, but my tendencies to over do. At all most 60, I'm stilllll learning about energy and time. Things that I think will take a few moments, gobble up my life because of my perfectionistic tendencies and high standards. Those few moments that start with enthusiasm, tend to lead to hours and hours of sometimes "pushing" myself to complete.

That pattern ( in blogging, in homeschooling, in everything) has probably played a part in my health issues ( along with my age). I am grateful to listen more to the other voices that want to play, relax, do less now. It is not a new pattern, but one I've been working on for many years..and even retiring hasn't "cured" it yet. ;)

Might be a Dragon tendency, eh? I love my tenaciousness and willfulness, but time to learn deeper lessons in this area for more balance for me.

I hope you all have a thrilling 2012 and thanks for being in our lives!!


I echo what Melissa said. You're blog has been such a blessing to me. I can't thank you enough for being an inspiration to our family. I pray this new year brings you health and joy. Take care.

Jeanne soultravelers3

So appreciate hearing that Jo! Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2012!

Margaret Sch

Blessings to you and your family. Your decisions all seem sound and right under the circumstances. You know, in the olden days of print media, people would write a book and then sit back and enjoy the accolades for years! You have written many times over what a book about your journeys so far would be.

Your daughter is on track for an awesome life no matter where she is.

I am happy to know that you are united in your determination to discover clearer direction regarding your health challenge.

More occasional posting starting now may be even more exciting because your readership base can treasure and savor anything that you feel inspired to share with a greater appreciation for it.

They say that joy comes in the morning; peace comes at any time, so I wish it for you all. Thanks so very much for all you share.


Thanks for all the posts that you do but taking care of yourself and being with your family IS the most important. Also, I was told I had MS and many other health problems about five years ago. I was 27 years old and a little one to take care of. I had done alternative medicine, vegetarian/vegan diet, etc. Have you ever heard of a paleo diet/lifestyle? I have been completely paleo for one year and my health problems are gone. I still practice yoga and I lift heavy things, as well as homeschool my three little ones. I thought I would pass this bit of info. because I think it could help. Many blessings to you!!

3. (Their cookbook is wonderful. Most everyone in my family now owns one.)


Please, take care of yourself, enjoy your family, all the rest can wait.
Wishing you all the best for 2012.

Jeanne Soultravelers3

Thanks Lauren, I so appreciate your feedback. I have heard of the paleo diet and have tried it and perhaps I will look back into it. At the moment I am doing a raw foods diet that has a lot in common with the paleo diet.

I am not sure what I will end up with, but it's always great to hear what has worked for others.

Jeanne Soultravelers3

Thanks Gabrielle! Happy 2012 to and yours!!

Jeanne Soultravelers3

Aw, thanks Margaret...and I was happy to hear about your latest family adventure!! I hope my daughter turns out as wonderful as yours has!

It is true that I have written more than a few books here. I'd still like to get to some books as well, but just keeping up with the blog while traveling as a family, seems to make that impossible so far. Maybe I will get a co-writer like so many do. ;)

I still think it was hilarious that I was asked to write a book and our NY Times interview happened just after I broke and paralyzed my dominant right arm. Sadly, I haven't really been well since then, so that helped color that.

As I approach 60, I am finally getting it more clear, that I can't do everything or burn the candle too much at both ends. ;)

Everything is a gift...even this mysterious illness and even though I am REALLY ready to be healthy and vibrant again NOW, I appreciate all that it has taught me.

Happy 2012 to you and yours dear Margaret!!


Hello and happy Chinese New Year! I have enjoyed reading your blog and get swept away with thoughts of leaving it all behind. We have a young daughter (8) and my husband is older, and we are scheming as I write. My daughter is not as advanced both socially and academically as Mozart, do you think an only child that is a bit reserved would fare as well abroad for an extended period of time?

With regard to your health, I do hope you find an answer. I have struggled for the last three years with a lack of diagnosis and doctors willing to take the time to help me. However, I did discover that I had Celiac. I'm wondering if you have explored this as your symptoms sound similar to mine.

In hopes of your returned health!

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