Halfway There

I’m just about at the midpoint in my ‘what’s next’ adventure here in Kampot and so thought it might be a good time to reflect on where I’m up to.

 

Back in February I wrote a post about my next chapter and included a list of what the next chapter entailed, and so, in the spirit of holding myself accountable whilst at the same time doing so with kindness and without the input of Norman, here’s my reflections on where I’m at with the stuff on that list:

 

  1. Find a base in Kampot (probably a long stay guesthouse).
    Mission accomplished! I’ve found myself a lovely little haven a couple of km out of town, a studio flat within a guesthouse complex.  I look out onto open countryside, wake to the sound of roosters crowing and the sun rising directly outside my door, spend days sitting outside doing stuff whilst village like life goes on around me despite being located just off the main Phnom Penh Road and then sit watching the sun slowly set behind the mountains looking out across the complex.

 

  1. Continue to wear flip flops every day
    Mission also accomplished! Thanks to unseasonally wet, stormy weather (the enhanced North East Monsoon according to the BBC), my Crocs flip flops have had more outings than I may have expected and the Fit Flops have stayed home to protect their sequinned fabulousness from the flooding (we got 77mm in a couple of hours the other afternoon) but nonetheless I can safely safe my life is 100% flip flop wearing.
  2. Write for pleasure
    Started well, got a bit stuck, hopefully coming unstuck – same sh*t different day!

 

  1. Write for money
    I’ve managed to get a couple of gigs writing training materials via a freelancer website and really enjoyed the work (even managed to be ok with my bingeing procrastination behaviour). Now need to see if I can work out how to get more of this work – any help anyone can give me is appreciated.

 

  1. Look for online and face to face English teaching gigs
    I have officially been accepted to one of the online teaching sites that delivers conversational English to Chinese students and hope to trial this in the next couple of weeks. Not sure whether I’ll enjoy it or not but it seems like a fairly simple way to earn amounts that will help me live life out here using time in the evenings when I’m not doing anything else (apart from binge watch series obviously).

 

  1. Explore revamping and reigniting renaissance4women as an online coaching business
    Small foray into this with the relaunch of the Way of Life Plan on International Women’s Day led to a big fight with Norman, a brief knock to my confidence followed quickly by a return to a determination to continue exploring this one. Watch this space!

 

 

  1. Test out the feasibility of running small group PT sessions in Kampot
    Norman and I have had a chat, make that several chats, in fact let’s be honest a continuous conversation and I currently can’t beat him on this one.  My fraud complex is looming too large thanks to me not exercising for yonks, carrying a fair few extra pounds and not doing that great on the eating well front (damn the Belgian Bakery and other purveyors of raisin pastries along with biscuit manufacturers the world over).  And no, this isn’t me being unkind, it’s me being honest but, in that spirit, I will add that I do practice yoga 2or3 times a week right now and am hoping to build that to every day and am out on a bike roughly 5 days out of 7 with at least one 20km bike ride in that mix so it’s not all doom and gloom but it’s definitely not the right time to be using those fitness skills I have for monetary gain.

 

  1. Join a crafting community or if there isn’t already one then create one
    Limited progress here.  Have engaged in lots of thinking on this one but not been brave enough to put it out in the community yet for fear of a repeat of number 6!

 

  1. Look at ways to practically support the work of a great project in Kampot called the Banteay Srey Project
    I’m very excited to have started working with the team at the Banteay Srey Spa.  They’re a great bunch of women: Freya, the founder, is an inspiration and the team of trainees and fulltime volunteers have been extremely welcoming and friendly.  Every time I visit I leave feeling super enthused and energised and to be honest, think I get as much, if not more from being part of the project than they can ever hope to get from me.

 

  1. Constantly look for opportunities to generate income through sharing my skills and expertise to allow me to live in the Kingdom of Wonder for the foreseeable future
    Stock photo sites have proved a double-edged sword for me so far.  My first downloaded netted a 25¢ pay out and a rush of positive endorphins.  Rejection emails for photos not deemed to be “commercially viable” on the other hand give Norman free reign and send me diving into the biscuit barrel.

    An online survey site has netted me another 25¢ with the potential to earn more if I can bear the mind numbing clicking through of surveys without losing the will to live.

    My long-held Amazon Affiliates account has been resurrected and whenever I recommend books here on my blog I will be using the affiliate links to hopefully earn a bit of passive income.  If you don’t want to use these links please feel free to search for the books through Google – I do it on other people’s sites sometimes – and will never know ;-D

 

So that’s the list, but I’m excited to say it’s not all.  I’ve become an over achiever and done some exciting stuff (for me anyway) not on the list.

 

First up, I’ve started being social.  It started slowly on safe ground with a meet up for breakfast with the VSO volunteer working here and progressed to chatting to the other expats living at my guesthouse (there’s a whole post in the that one but I can’t quite work out how to write it).   Volunteering at Banteay Srey led me to friendly chats over fruit juices and breakfast with the yoga teachers and even saw me attending a yoga class which Norman unfortunately decided to attend to but didn’t totally succeed in putting me off thinking about trying again.  And I recently reached the heady heights of engaging in conversation with random people in cafes which has twice so far led to arranging follow up meet ups for cake and coffee – Mrs ‘nobody will like me’ is actually making friends!

 

And in a similar vein, I’ve really exposed myself by signing up for group Khmer conversation classes, rather than avoiding endless chats with Norman over my failures and being judged, by either a) not bothering to learn at all (if you can’t be perfect why bother?!) or b) getting a 1to1 teacher who will actually allow me to speak more English than Khmer giving me the false comfort of paying but not having to do the work (a bit like paying your money for Weight Watchers membership being all you need to do to lose the extra 2 stone you’re carrying).

I’ve just completed my first week and have loved every minute of it.  There are five of us in class and the teacher’s Cambodian partner and her children join us and apart from the first 10 minutes of the first class when ‘Be Perfect Sara’ refused to let me practice speaking  I have been a real keen bean, volunteering to try first and answering the teacher’s questions with aplomb.  I dash home to practice my new found linguistic skills on my lovely cleaning lady at the guesthouse who, having answered my questions proceeds to talk to me at warp speed about stuff I don’t understand assuming that knowing three questions and their answers renders me fluent.  And as well as smiling and nodding inanely as I did in the past, I can now proudly tell her I don’t understand and ask her to speak slowly.  Admittedly, I still don’t understand when she does speak slowly but small steps eh….

 

 

So, to sum up – life is good.  Whilst I’m looking forward to heading back to the UK to catch up with people and put on my big girl pants to work as Academic Directing at a Summer School for a month, Kampot is definitely feeling like the right place for me to be.  To that end, when extending my visa I optimistically opted for the 12 month option, putting aside my financial thrift needs in favour of a feeling of belonging that will see me back here in September for whatever comes next.

 

 

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