About Me

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Tainan, Taiwan
I'm an ESL teacher from Colorado. I worked in Taipei in 2000 for over a year, paid off my undergrad loans, traveled, saved $ to travel some more. So when I got pregnant in grad school I thought I could return to Taiwan, be economically self sufficient while my daughter masters Mandarin.We came to Tainan when she was 2. Taiwan is an excellent base to explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety and benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dreams in the Sky

Finally the Yilan rains stopped, and just in time. What a relief to see a blue sky. Z had been looking forward to this day as it was a holiday devoted entirely to kids.

We spent Saturday by the beach  for Rising Sun Surf Inn's hosting the "Kids' Dreams In The Sky Charity 鯉想啟程 2015 神戸スイミープロジェク", celebrating the Japanese holiday of Koinobori.

We (the kids and some of us adults) wrote our hopes and dreams on 3 enormous koinobori kites that were later hoisted into the sky. There was theater, aboriginal dancing, a magician. It was a mellow way to celebrate a long awaited blue sky.

I saw new friends we made at last month's beach clean up. I also ran into Paul whose Bed and Breakfast we stayed at when my folks were in Taiwan (see Waterfalls and Dolphins). He like a few of the surfers I met, kindly offered to teach us surfing anytime, just send him a text, so I intend to do just that. I might of written on my carp streamer, "to really nail surfing down this summer" but I didn't.

I wrote something about the restoration of a dream, some dream of mine left on the back burner for so long I don't even know what it is anymore. It's faded into fantasy, wishful thinking- a trivial pursuit. I think I had lots of those once-dreams. But lately I've realized dreams aren't so inconsequential and I am dead serious about finding them again. As far as I am concerned having a dream bigger than myself is a matter of life or death.

 As for my daughter, I asked her what she wrote, assuming it would be trivial (obviously because I was at that moment trite) and quickly regretted asking when she gave me her blunt answer. The same old wound, knife in my belly, bruise in her heart. "I wrote I wish I had a Dad." Oh! My airy fairy balloon burst for a moment. And then we were both united in this instant of intense significant, silent Truth. Kids certainly 'keep it real'. But unlike previous times when that old grief, her archetypal distress of fatherlessness needed to be held and rocked and soothed, this time she was clear eyed, matter of fact, resolute with her hope and poised with this enigmatic smile.  I wish I could have some of her unwavering hope. The one thing she desperately wants is something I could not of my own control, begin to secure for her, let alone seek out.

 She also told me of what she saw written by another child whose tender message of hope and fear tugged at her heart. Some sweet child had written, "Please don't let my Mom and Dad get a divorce." Seems common place or sadly ordinary right? Not to me, the moment was by now, charged with meaning.These kids are a million times more articulate and emotionally exposed and just in touch with themselves than I am. It was an unexpected schooling to be thrust in front of this kind of mirror and see my lost and hazy reflection. I'm so out of touch with my own inner kid who essentially is a dreamer. How did I get so all around utterly inaccessible? How could I stop dreaming?

Z was thoroughly enjoying herself at today's "kids dreams in the sky" Koinobori activities.

Posted by Kathy Benavides on Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Living Clean in Yilan

Beach Clean Up organized by Rising Sun Surf Inn

I try to keep a healthy lifestyle which isn't impossible when your sh*% broke and working part time. I learned first hand that more important than "clean eating" is quality life. Downsizing my work schedule, and my stress level, even for half my salary is quality life. Changing my kid's school to one that has 2 half days, more playtime and her telling me on a daily basis she is happy- is quality life. Eating clean is important, but not as vital as having a minimally stressed environment. Even organic produce can be affordable when Taiwan greens are always available, many people have their own little gardens and fruits are always coming into season. Legumes are cheap and go a long way.  For example, just today for her post school snack, we had a fruit shake with red dragon fruit, banana, papaya, kefir and chia. (Ok chia seeds are dear, but it doesn't take much).

Health Food:
They are all really small shops here, not like the massive Whole Foods or Trader Joe's in the States. Between the following three places I can almost get everything I need. For rice milk, almond milk, wild salmon and Greek yogurt, Costco is where it's at. Carrefore has organic sunflower and pumpkin seeds, flax and chia, and recently quinoa.

All three of the following have organic wheat flours, flax, chia, organic seeds and legumes, rolled rye flakes and the same crackers, bean noodles, soba noodles and physilium powder. Incidentally after 7 years living in Taiwan (mostly Tainan) I finally found Stevia extract. Unfortunately its flavored which is weird, but you can get it from Subodhi Yoga in Loudong for 288NT a bottle.

1. Santa Cruz on Zhongshan road just after it forks,  from Yixing Rd. coming from Yilan train station towards Loudong its on the right corner.
260 宜蘭市中山路二段139號
tel. (03)933-3551

 Taiwan's island wide chain. At the Yilan branch I get brown rice vinegar, molasses, cereal for my daughter, kefir and kefir starter which I'm making my own now. They also have lots of hormone free frozen meat, teas, organic baking powder and yeast. I bought some organic Okinawa Matcha Tea (read The Newest Tea Craze, if your'e not already a fan).  They also have maxi pads, tampons and panty liners with non-bleached materials.

2. Leezen 里仁
I'm not sure if they are a chain but they have a branch in Taipei.
宜蘭市中山路三段174 號
tel: (03)93334268

This store has lots of veggies, brown rice milk in powdered form. I bought some organic apple cider vinegar with the mother culture to start to grow my own kombucha  Scoby, and brown rice cakes and breads from organic flour. They also have several nut butters (no almond butter though) and more of a beauty section.

3.綠園有機 生活館
tel: (03) 9355767

This shop is really small, they don't sell any refrigerated items, all dried. Their pumpkin seeds and rye flakes are cheaper though. I also bought vegetarian powdered bouillon with none of the msg and crap in it.

4. Vegan Bakery
tel: (03)9321490
Hours: 11:00-2:00 and 5:00-7:00

On the corner of Jiankang Sec 1 and Lanfeng Rd where it forks. Every time I go there I always double check that it's indeed vegan because its hard to believe sometimes, everything seems like normal Taiwanese baked goods and for a vegan bakery they sell both soy and cow's milk. My Sri Lankan vegan neighbors told me about this place. I prefer the French bread here to Carrefore's, its seems fresher and lasts longer.

5. Yilan Honey Museum
403 Yuanshen Rd Sec. 2. Yuanshen Township
tel: (03) 9233668
Hours: 8:00- 17:00

One can't be too careful about honey, its often diluted in Taiwan. Here the honey is amazing and its often comparable or cheaper than the questionable supermarket brands. Right now they have a special on winter honey. Its pale and thick and imaginably perfect on homemade bread fresh out of the oven with butter. Next payday I am going back to see if there's any winter honey left and also buy a big jar of royal jelly. They also sell propolis, honey vinegar, honey cake, ice-cream and pollen. They all taste heavenly. I really don't get excited about honey cake after years of getting my hopes up, only to be disappointed but I can actually taste the honey in this one.

Me at the Yilan County Gov't park

I pretty much practice alone in the park in nicer weather, but I of course would love to find a nice local studio. I recently started teaching private lessons in people's homes. I have found a few studios around town and since I have time will be sure to check them out. I'm pretty picky though; there's nothing worse than paying for a yoga class and being let down because a) its not really yoga   b) the teacher doesn't know what he/she is doing- but that can happen anywhere. (I had an amazing teacher in  Tainan who seriously pushed my limits and comfort zones)

Driving around Yilan I found:

1. Sun Yoga
11 Jiankang Road, Yilan City
tel. 0952-937-760

30 classes cost 3600NT, 50 cost 5500NT, 100 classes cost 10,000NT. They have mostly aerobics and the clientele looks like older middle aged women. The owner speaks English and offered me a free class to check it out.

2. Having Fun with Yoga Studio
tel. 0952-090156
Its at the corner of Fuxin Rd Sec 1 and Jiankang Rd Sec 2, across from Cafe 85 above Ok Mart on the 2nd Floor. Their classes are every morning (M, T, W, Fri.) 7:40-8:40 and evenings (Tuesday and Thursday) 5:40-6:40. They also have packages.

3. L'amigo Gym (scroll down to Gyms)

4. Life Long Center- It's basically a recreation center that offers all kinds of classes for kids and adults, from arts and crafts, Japanese, computers, dance and of course yoga. Its across from Zhongshan Park, on the corner in a red brick building. They have several classes of different styles of yoga, quite cheap, but they wouldn't let me peak in and see what kind of class/teacher I'd be paying for. You pay for a 3 month block. The current session just started March 13 and ends May 1. For example there is an afternoon weight loss yoga class, from the description of using asanas to open blocked meridians for better organ function (sounds good right?) costs 2600NT for 3 months, once a week  90 minute class. I will be there in May.

Back Care

I have a scoliosis in my lower back so one leg is slightly shorter than the left. I also twisted my pelvis in a bad fall (or I should say beach side throw down playing rugby-not a smart choice) and I still think I am only mostly recovered. I get piriformis syndrome under stress, or sitting standing too long and of course modern life with cell phones and computers doesn't' help-so long story short- I need a back care specialist and I need to stay active. Yoga certainly helps. I am sure my back would be in worse shape without it.

1. Dr. Wu  Jing-Yi
265 Yixing Road #83
Email: whaley@yahoo.com.tw

He is located at Yixing and Fuxin Rd. From the train station heading towards Yilan Sports Park, he is just after Fuxin on the right side.

This guy studied this type of medicine in Japan for 15 years and its extremely rare to find in Taiwan.  He is basically a chiropractor but doesn't manipulate or crack any bones. He uses his hands, fingers, elbows to massage trigger points along the meridians to release the tension of tissues around the bones, so that they go back in place gently and without pain. His type of medicine is more yin to the yang of western chiropractic medicine. Like a good doctor he explains exactly what he's doing as he's doing it in very good English. It's also a bit like Thai massage, where he will also stretch the body as he is massaging trigger points.  He was recommended to me by the lovely couple at Mr. Balagov's Cafe. He is not covered by National Health but each visit is 600NT, less than a massage and he often treats me well over an hour, sometimes two if I am really in  need. Usually I go to him when I am in bad shape pain-wise from my piriformis.

2. Renji Clinic
This clinic is TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). The head doctor here was recommended to me by my current boss who tweaked his neck years ago body surfing in Nanfang'ao during a typhoon, They use acupuncture, hooked up to electricity. I did this in Tainan and found it excruciating, I think my nerves are too sensitive to the electricity, but its certainly effective and faster results than with just needles alone. My boss raved about this place, and especially the head doctor who also goes to clinics around Yilan County. I will check him out as he is covered by Taiwan's National Health insurance.

Gyms are not an option budget wise for me, although Yilan sports park is 50 NT a pop to use their weight room. I usually do body weight workouts, TRX or kettlebells at home. There are so many bike trails and hiking trails should the weather favor me. Still I miss the comradely of the gym, the usual goers, the cable machine, bosu ball and the assisted pull-up machine.

1. L'amigo

Its near my back care doctor on Yixing Rd. on the other side of the street near Shabu Shabu. I've heard they are overpriced so I haven't checked them out, they have a weight room and yoga classes.

2. Power Fitness Leisure Club
I've heard they are affordable, I should check them out.

3. YOY Climbing Wall
Located just outside Yilan City. It doesn't look like a climbing wall from the outside and the sign is pretty ghetto looking but the walls are new. For women  its free, kids and men pay 100NT per person. The walls aren't so high maybe 3 stories, yet one of  them is extremely difficult and they have harnesses and ropes to practice technical climbing. I had my kid's 9th birthday party here (see The Two Faces of January).

My daughter cooling off inYongchuan Pond

Swimming Pools
1. Yilan Longchwen Pool (Its actually SW of Loudong and not in Yilan City)
tel: (03)958-1290
Hours: 5:00- 22:30

2. Silks Place Hotel- On the 6th floor they have a pool and spa free for guests. This hotel is attached to Lunar Plaza. I will call and ask how much the spa is if I am too lazy to take the 10 minute train to Jioxi's hot springs (which I think I can usually manage- mineral waters are worth it).
tel: (03)935-8800
Hours: 7:00-23:00

3. Yilan Sports Park- They have a nice outdoor pool, but the hours are weird, very early and evening. I assume because Taiwanese prefer not to be in the sun. I've heard it gets crazy crowded. Many students from my my daughter's school take swimming classes there starting in May at 5:30am-7 and then go to school. I wonder if my daughter and I could pull that off too.
tel: (03)925-4034

4. Yongchuan Pond- Its a good old fashion water hole, an actual cold spring, the local kids use- very refreshing in summer and free! Its not deep, maybe 4 feet and not long, maybe half the length of a full sized pool, but you could certainly do laps. It is super cold beside a banana grove, and its enjoyably emptier than Suao's cold spring s with more blue dragonflies and mozzies (be prepared). If you drive along Jiucheng S. Road turn left onto Huanhe Rd, but you quickly divvy off to the right and then you should find it on your left. There is parking across the street in a field, or take the bus! Just look for all the wet kids hanging around.

It's not difficult to embrace the clean living in Yilan. Just breathe in the fresh air after a rain, take a walk on a trail.

On the trail to Gaba Waterfall
++ I hope to be constantly updating this page. I know of another swimming pool and yoga studio, but lack the contact info- so coming soon.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Consider the Lilies and New Beginnings

Lanterns, CNY holiday, Old Bagan, Myanmar 2014
Lantern festival was last week, formally closing the Chinese New Year festival and Friday the rain stopped after weeks of gloom, so it finally feels like Spring! (Reminds me of George Harrison's Here Comes The Sun).

 I have started my new morning job at a Canadian owned kindergarten just down the road from me near the Sports Park. I am going to start riding my bike in this lovely weather once I buy a lock. I should mention I applied to 2 editing jobs in Taipei before the CNY holiday. I haven't heard from the one, but the other I did hear through the grapevine that they gave it to an under-qualified white, 24 year old dude. I wasn't a top contender, they had a qualified American Asian woman with a 4.0 from Berkley, and they gave the job to him. (Shaking my head in disgust).

We also started going to a church in Loudong, they have English translation and I can't tell what denomination is it which is a good indication to me. ( In the paraphrased words of Peter Tosh, "Denomination is segregation"). It's indubitably a joyous vibe, quite a lot of aboriginal tribes come down from the mountains make up the congregation. Z actually loves Sunday school, which she hated in Tainan. I don't know if she is just older or in more a receptive place, but she certainly can't wait to go. She loves being with the aboriginal children.

A happy dolphin greets everyone at her school entrance

My daughter started at her new local school which is a 5 minute walk away. She absolutely loves it. It's a nice change to hear on a daily basis, "This was the best day ever!" Last semester at her prestigious and expensive bilingual school, it was constant stress, anxiety and her being the victim of bullying. Her previous class went through two different homeroom teachers in one semester to no avail. Managing them is problematic, managing the parents, not much better. Our neighbor, her former classmate said the new homeroom teacher (now #3) neither is handling them with any success.

Her new school and class are like night and day from last semester. Her new class is smaller, with again quite a few aboriginal kids, the campus is bigger, greener, more play time and a half day on Wednesday and Friday. She takes guitar and recorder classes, helps her teacher and classmates in English and to her delight her class grows their own little garden (now she wants to be a gardener or landscaper when she grows up). She pretty much is outside playing everyday, which hasn't happened as a student in Taiwan til now. It should be normal right? Having my afternoons free and not sticking her in an anchingban while I work makes a big difference in our time, in her well being and happiness.

Her first day at her new school

During the gloom of the weather I also felt a bit discouraged. After not working in February and post Chiang Mai trip, I was disheartened at my lack of funds and lack of future funds. Its a bit scary having to plan on living on half of my previous salary, when I was already pretty much living paycheck to paycheck while saving for the next trip, blowing that and starting from zero. But when you believe in Divine Providence as I do, then being at zero means being a prime candidate for receiving abundantly. I built up my inner spirit by realizing the closeness of Presence. I call on that same Christ power that can feed a multitude with a boy's small lunch, and this hope got me through a week or two of 'back of my mind' worry of if can I make it or not.

5 loaves and 2 fish feed 5000

Also therapeutic for me is volunteering at the local orphanage (Home of God's Love) on my free afternoons. There are about 9 babies from 7 weeks to 21 months and when they all wake at 2, its 3 of us quickly changing and feeding and then playing. They eat some solids/porridge at 3:30 and then I leave to pick up my daughter at school. I brought her once during one of her half days, she was like a fish out of water, babies so not her thing right now! I remembered how I always wanted to adopt, since I was a child and now that I'm 40, I can barely take care (financially) of myself and my daughter. I felt disappointed in myself. I had imagined that by this age I would of had my shit together. I had to stop comparing myself to how I thought I should of been and keep my eyes focused on my blessings which are more than sufficient. ("The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not lack-for anything!" Psalms 23)

What is getting us by are three weekly tutoring gigs. I went by a few kindergartens and anchingbans to see if they need an English teacher for an afternoon, but they don't. I hung up a few posters for teaching English and yoga, but havent heard anything yet. I just got a new University student, through my daughter's Tai Chi teacher so I am hoping she will recommend me to her friends. I'm not worried about it anymore. I actually have time to study Chinese (ya right) and catch up on reading. I certainly have been luxuriating in my yoga practice and daily visualizations.

This post became quite unintentionally ecclesiastical (Just say, "NO!" to religion) but one of my favorite sayings of Jesus really has been my mantra. He basically says to take a giant chill pill, stay present, and don't worry.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Happy" Women's Day? The Dark side of Taiwanese Extended Families

March 8th is the internationally recognized Women's Day. Twenty years after "Beijing" when 189 countries committed themselves to a blueprint on gender equality, not one country has yet to achieve true equality  (see Gender Equality is Still Decades Away) -although Iceland is probably the closest.  Sure that bugs the crap out of me, because I'm a women and a mother of a daughter, but even if I was a man and had a son, I'd like to think gender inequality would bother me.

However, whats gets me royally incensed to the point where I want to don a super hero costume and break knee caps and testicles is sexual violence against women and girls.

Chinese New Years wasn't the domestic, extended familial bliss I sort of imagined it- for many Taiwanese women its a time of re-victimization and imposed silence. This isn't the first time it was recently brought to my attention. In fact I had to ask around for the right resources to direct these women to.

If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted/ raped by a family member here in Taiwan-please find help, if not for justice, then for the sake of future little girls and women.

 It is not your fault and local culture and custom can not be an excuse to legitimize male dominance to the point where little girls lose their peace of mind and childhood. It's not just men who are guilty, mother's too afraid to confront or rock the boat who keep silent are delinquent. This is unfortunately real people that are in my life, and the lives of my friends- not some remote newspaper clipping.

Here is some helpful resources to find out your options:

Sexual Assault Prevention Centers (by county)

The Garden of Hope Foundation   (GOH Facebook)
Tainan contact info: 70060 70060 台南市臨安路一段89號
No. 89, Sec 1, Lin'an Rd, North District, Tainan City
tel: (06) 3582995
fax: (06)3580195

Tainan Contact Info: 708 台南市安平區中華西路2段315號7樓
7F, No. 315, Sec 2, Zhonghua W Rd., Anping Dist, Tainan City
tel: (06)295-3315  (06)295-3438
fax: (06)295-1079
email: mwf.tainan@38.org.tw

These organizations need your help, there are many ways you can contribute, contact them and find out. Especially in terms of funding, small, local women's organizations are systematically overlooked by donors  (see Grassroots Women's Groups Must Go It Alone).

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Evidence of a Global Worldview in My Kid

"We shall have World Government whether or not we like it. The only question is whether World Government will be achieved by conquest or consent." 

      – Paul Warburg, author of the Federal Reserve Act, speaking before the US Senate

Why does having an international perspective even matter, and why should parents help their kids to have one?   I think it's important to have have flexible identities, more of, "we are citizens of the world" kind of thing and less, " Us vs. Them". A global frame of reference, may not make anyone a kinder person, but I still think having one is more conducive to world peace. The opposite being ethnocentrism and narcissism which doesn't seem like groundwork for any meaningful conversation. An example of a flexible identity is my daughter identifying herself as an American whenever people ask,  while many times she says, just between me and her, "I'm also a Taiwanese kid"- the irony being she would never be accepted as "one of them" by her peers.  She also sees the world in a markedly wider lens from her years living in Taiwan and from her international travels. She knows what its like being the Other. It will be interesting to see what happens when we return home for good, how her identity will change and form.

Not to toot my own horn; I didn't get pregnant and decide I want my kid to grow up in Taiwan, nor do I think my choice is superior to others. It just happened to be the one gift I unwittingly gave her.


Of course this comes with a price, no extended family nearby, just weekly Skype and Facebook to stay connected to family. Sometimes that separation hurts, but it makes Family even more precious in her eyes.


Obviously its easier to promote a global worldview when you live in a foreign country as we do, or even a big city. This a list of reasons I know without a doubt that my daughter is an Earthling first.

1. A Budding Gastronomist. She isn't afraid to try new foods, she has eaten insects.  As her mom I do think she could do better in this department, especially when we travel, but I understand spicy food doesn't agree with her constitution. Still, she was pretty gutsy to eat things like larvae, grasshopper, fish eyeballs and ostrich. She likes watching cooking shows, as well as working in neighbor's gardens learning how people cook what they grow. A few days ago we were in the park picking a rare herb with ladies who taught us all about foraging and medicinal greens and how to cook them. She went back yesterday to forage some more.

Helping make my birthday lunch, Myanmar 2014

2. Fluent in Mandarin and English- These are the most important languages in business right now (not that our interest is in commerce). Even better, she enjoys learning languages, and has ambitions to learn more, because she knows it expands her understanding of the world. (Read, "If You Speak Mandarin Your Brain is Different"). I am beginning to the think that now she is realizing the many doors of opportunities she has because of her Mandarin fluency. I hope when we return back to the States, she can become fluent in Spanish too.


3. Amateur Anthropologist- This past year she has become addicted to a Korean kid's comic series (in Mandarin) 尋寶記 about traveling archaeologists and their many adventures. Each book is one country and through their adventures, the child reader learns more about that country's culture and history. She has spent her allowance money collecting these as well as borrowed them from the library.


4. The Big Picture- She is interested in world history, religion and how this plays into current events. She is able to form her own opinion on Northern and Southern Buddhism from visiting temples around Asia and observing how people there worship. She has questions about how Catholicism differs from Protestantism and why different Islam factions are fighting each other in Iraq. I am often very aware that I am unable to answer her questions to both of our satisfaction. She believes in the supreme deity of Christ from her own personal journey and not from me shoving religion down her throat.  She recently told me she wants to get baptized and this was a year after routinely claiming, "All those Bible stories are just fairy tales."


As for American history, she has no rose colored glasses, she knows America is full of ironic contradictions- at least she knows some of them; how the US calls itself a Christian nation ("In God We Trust") while also having colonialism, slavery and sexism. For example, she understands Thanksgiving is both a myth and a tradition. We can eat pumpkin pie, miss our family and still know that Native Americans suffer today from colonialism. She is still dumbfounded there hasn't been a female president elected yet (me too). Knowing the truth doesn't  belittle America in her eyes, she believes in the Great Melting Pot, even tho she doesn't really believe in the American Dream. She is proud of her great grandfathers fighting the Nazis and Japanese in WW2, while realizing that American leadership is temporary the way the British Empire, the Romans and Greek empires all came to an end.

The making of a Thai Wat on Malay/Thai border
5. Globetrekker-Its both of our dream to take a gap year off and travel around the world. Although she prefers the comforts of a place like Singapore over the kind of uncomfortable travel in places like Myanmar, she still knows travel is the best way to learn about history, culture, cuisine and languages. We often daydream of the places we will visit on our dream trip.

Burmese trains are not easy traveling

Now to fund our around the world trip...this is where I fail her.

6. Gone Green- She cares about the environment and endangered animals.We recycle, everyone in Taiwan does. When we see trash at the park or beach we take it with us, we try to use reusable bags. We try to be ethical travelers and not have our pictures taken with Tigers or see painting elephants, but use our tourist $ to support legitimate sanctuaries.

 I am currently trying to help her cut down on her meat consumption by appealing to her sense of responsibility to the environment. One way I've seen her consciousness grow about being responsible for the environment is participating in outdoor sports like cycling, kayaking, hiking and seeing all the amazing wildlife in the process.


7. Its better to give than to receive- She cares about inequality and doesn't judge people when they are down and out. If there is a street person, or begger she doesn't condemn them or turn away, she gives them her money. Its the heart of a child, devoid of political party affiliation.  Many times the person is a total Untouchable, no one would want to touch them, people walk over their diseased and dirty bodies, they are invisible. When she stops and looks them in the eyes and shakes their hands I witness both of them being touched, which is maybe more important than the small amount of money she gives.  I hope she can grow up with this compassionate, non-judgmental heart to give and help those in need.

And at the other spectrum, many times, countless, that people with very little, had shared what they had with us. Bless them. Likewise, we have been on the receiving end of those who are well off, dining us, staying at their mansions, their always open invitation. We bask in the goodness of many and all kinds of people. It's the way Divine Being loves us through others.

8. The World is Dangerous- She has had scary experiences, like when the drugged group of thugs surrounded us in Kota Kinabalu and attacked the foot massage lady whose shop we took refuge in. She has to learn to listen to her own internal Flight or Fight response, to honor her intuition and judgment and  know when people in situations are safe or not. For her because she is I think borderline OCD, she has to learn to calm herself down when there is no real danger or threat and its a matter of her perceptions being too heightened. There are bad people everywhere, but I believe there are many more good.

This is not to say my work here as a parent is done in this one area. Now that she is older, I would like to carve more time into volunteering in the community. My friends in Dongshan go into small aboriginal towns and teach. There are 2 orphanages in Yilan County I'd like to visit and see what they need. On our dream around the world trip, there are places I would like to stay for a month or two and volunteer full time.

The seed of her global identity is planted, its been flourishing. What fruit it may bear in the years to come, Jah only knows. I just pray she is in a position of influence to make the world a peaceful, just place.