thailand

WE ARE [DSIL] GLOBAL CITIZENS

Phom Phenh, Cambodia | Captured by Zachary Habayeb

Phom Phenh, Cambodia | Captured by Zachary Habayeb

There are some who “believe it when they see it”, who make a plan, trust in rationale, and take that leap only when they have the proof to validate the risk.

There are others who “believe it before they see it”, who have a vision, trust in their intuition, and take a leap of faith, risking it all for the great unknown. 

While I come from a culture that follows the former, I am living into the latter.

Bangkok, Thailand | Captured by Phan Dara

Bangkok, Thailand | Captured by Phan Dara

One big belief I have is that you can be a global citizen.

A global citizen is someone who doesn’t belong to one place or one community but belongs to every place and every community. A global citizen cannot be defined by what language they speak or where they come from. A global citizen speaks from the heart and every heart is their home.

Frangipani Living Arts Hote l | Phnom Penh 

You will know a global citizen when you meet one because they will disarm the default conversation. They will not fit into a single box. They will not walk a prescribed path.

A global citizen lives in MULTITUDES.

To live in multitudes means to be multidimensional; to encapsulate multiple identities, to hold multiple perspectives, and even to be in multiple places at the same time.

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Over two weeks, I had the priviledge of exploring the many multitudes of 15 global citizens as a part of the DSIL Global Course hailing from Costa Rica, South Africa, Hungary, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Canada, U.S.A., and India.

And it is these unique humans, which we now call “Sensei16” (Sensei meaning “Teacher” in Japanese) that have set my soul on fire.

You see we shared something truly special.

With the founder of the  Zero Baht Shop  - a shop that exchanges trash and recyclables for food | Bangkok, Thailand

With the founder of the Zero Baht Shop - a shop that exchanges trash and recyclables for food | Bangkok, Thailand

Together, we leaned into our learning edges, stretched beyond our limits, and leapt outside our comfort zones to discover a whole new realm of possibility. From Bangkok, Thailand to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, we traveled together, designed together, and lived into insanely curious, wicked questions together.

We touched and were touched by life itself.

Collecting trash with the Trash Pickers Association at the  Zero Baht Shop  | Bangkok, Thailand

Collecting trash with the Trash Pickers Association at the Zero Baht Shop | Bangkok, Thailand

We heard the stories of local Thai and Cambodians who lost everything, their homes, their families, their faith and who rebuilt (and continue to rebuild) their lives from the ground up. We used our entrepreneurial mindsets to work with local social enterprises like My Dream Home Cambodia, Koonsoor Kampuchea Training Academy, and the Zero Baht Shop in Thailand.

Collecting trash with the Trash Pickers Association at the  Zero Baht Shop  | Bangkok, Thailand

Collecting trash with the Trash Pickers Association at the Zero Baht Shop | Bangkok, Thailand

We failed forward learning about design thinking, conscious leadership, and inclusive development in realtime. We heard each other’s stories, tales of defining moments that have shaped who we are today and dreams for who we’re destined to be.

I can only stop, stare, and try not to blink. Did this really just happen?

They say you have space in your heart for people you haven't met yet.

Call it synchronicity. Call it destiny.

Ma:D Hub  - a club for a better society | Bangkok, Thailand | Captured by Mo

Ma:D Hub - a club for a better society | Bangkok, Thailand | Captured by Mo

Better yet, as Global Citizen Lili Camacho says, call it SYNCHRODESTINY (and a lot of hard work, thanks DSIL Global Team!).

No matter what you call it, there is space in my heart for you all and I sense there is something important for us to do together. And while I can only begin to imagine the infinite possibilities, I’ll allow the purpose to reveal itself.

So for now, I leave the DSIL Global Course with an expanded vision and a greater capacity to love.

I have a vision of social transformation and planetary regeneration. Where we transform broken systems of exploitation and oppression into generative sources of justice and liberation. Where we value people and planet over process and profit. Where we dedicate our lives first to our inner worlds and self-realization and then to exploring our passionate curiosities and sharing our gifts sustainably

Bangkok, Thailand | Captured by Phan Dara

Bangkok, Thailand | Captured by Phan Dara

I dream of a wiser, weller world where we return to our hearts.

In this vision, I aim to be an integral part of crafting transformational learning experiences that uplift and inspire. I want to create wildly, express colorfully, and weave a divine tapestry of togetherness.

While this vision may sound idealistic and a long way off, I have been blessed to travel around the globe meeting hundreds who ripple out touching thousands of people who are catalyzing their own part of this very vision and building a new world. 

As Global Citizen, Musa Nxumalo says, "Your dreams must be greater than your excuses." at  Ma:D Hub  - a club for a better society | Bangkok, Thailand | Captured by Mo

As Global Citizen, Musa Nxumalo says, "Your dreams must be greater than your excuses." at Ma:D Hub - a club for a better society | Bangkok, Thailand | Captured by Mo

Yes, many of the problems we face are gravity problems (ones we will not solve in this lifetime) but that doesn’t mean your energy and efforts are not worthwhile.

And while this way of living is not always graceful and it can be truly exhausting at times, the Global Citizen looks inward, lives their truth and moves forward, onward and upward anyway.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia | Photographed by Zachary Habayeb

Phnom Penh, Cambodia | Photographed by Zachary Habayeb

So here’s to you Global Citizens, my friends, my family, my teachers.

May you live your wildest visions and design forward your wildest dreams!

With an everexpanding and open heart,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

See full journey photo album and apply for the DSIL 2018 Course with field immersion in Thailand and Cambodia on August 24-September 2nd. 

Ma:D Hub  - a club for a better society | Bangkok, Thailand | Captured by Mo

Ma:D Hub - a club for a better society | Bangkok, Thailand | Captured by Mo

Pursuing a Ph.D. (Pure Heart Degree)

A wise friend once told me that the reason why most brilliant people fail is they burn out. He had been one of those people; an incredibly talented photographer and art director flying all around the world shooting for some of the largest companies in the world. Wayne suffered a severe brain injury that landed him in the hospital where he nearly died.

Ever since Wayne shared that, it’s really stuck with me and over the last few years I've been flirting with burnout. I consult with a firm that is self-managed and mostly remote, which allows me to travel 50-80% of the time.

Moment captured by: Marva Merci Dixon 

Moment captured by: Marva Merci Dixon 

The travel bug more than bit me, it's under my skin, and I have been crisscrossing the U.S. like my life depends on it. For the most part the life I designed looked and felt like a dream. Though it was fulfilling, the problem was it wasn’t sustainable and the very things I loved most (travel, community building, purposeful work) were also creating a tremendous amount of stress.

Even with this awareness, I continued to try to manage and maintain it. With each long trip or 12-hour computer day, I thought, if I just hack at this harder or work smarter I’ll make this ship sail.

But in January 2017, the writing was on the wall and my body, energy, and spirit could feel it. I was overweight, feeling trapped in a body that wasn’t mine. I was having my biofeedback therapist work on me almost every other week, rebalancing my energy, only for me to deplete it two weeks later. And my spiritual practice was an "MVP" minimum viable practice with a bit of stretching and prayer in the morning and journaling late at night.

Moment captured by: Vanessa Deering

Moment captured by: Vanessa Deering

I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew I had to make a change.

From what I’ve learned about change, the greatest transformations occur not in the doing or the thinking but in your state of being.

I was done putting so much of my mental energy towards this state of imbalance. I got really clear on my desire to live in a State of Grace where intention, purpose, and divinity meet.

Doesn’t that sound lovely? It does but getting there felt impossible. 

Einstein says you cannot solve a problem with the same consciousness in which you created it. If I had any chance of evolving into a State of Grace, I needed to do something radical.

Moment captured by: Vanessa Deering

Moment captured by: Vanessa Deering

I decided to pursue what I called a "Ph.D. in KPG" meaning a Pure Heart Degree in Koh Phangan, Thailand. 

Even though I had only spent a week in Koh Phangan I recognized it's an island designed for healing and growth. I felt this was the place I needed to be so I jumped through hoops, made leaps and bounds, let go of everything I knew and crossed oceans to be there again.

It felt risky but I went all in.

“There is no perfect place to meditate.” — Buddha

As soon as I arrived back in Koh Phangan I felt anxious. All of my insecurities and fears began to bubble up and stare me right in the face. I felt naked (which I love feeling now but definitely not then). I felt paralyzed. I felt lost and completely transparent like people could see right through my bullshit (and they could).

Everyone was a mirror.

Everything was a trigger.

It was inescapable.

And with no family and very few friends around to save or distract me I actually had to sit in the sweat lodge of my own shit and sweat it out.

Every day, step-by-step, breath-by-breath, story-by-story, I began to peel back layers of my conditioning. I thought I had already done a lot of internal work but wow was I humbled.

Through formal and informal healing sessions and experiences I began to release code after code of programming creating space for a new way of being. 

Ecstatic Nature Retreat |  Tantra Heart Love  | Captured by  Maxinne Bjork

Ecstatic Nature Retreat | Tantra Heart Love | Captured by Maxinne Bjork

Slowly my mind released control. I became more and more aware of my ego, my darkness, my inner child. Once you start digging you realize how much is REALLY there.

I began to let go of everything I thought I knew. I surrendered.

All with plenty of resistance of course, that’s actually one of my favorite Koh Phangan sayings my friend Wendy and I joke about, “Breathe into the resistance” someone will say when you're having a hard time and all you want to say back is FUCK YOU and FUCK YOUR ELITIST SPIRITUAL BULLSHIT. But then you remember, it’s not about them, you’re having your own experience. Everyone in your life is just playing a role in your dream sequence.

You’re the one who’s suffering and that's your choice. 

Moment captured by:  Maxinne Bjork

Moment captured by: Maxinne Bjork

While I see this as a lifelong journey, what I’ve learned so far from KPG is this:

  • In the cave you fear is the treasure you seek.
  • Health, balance, and grace are directions not destinations.
  • Every trigger is a teacher and an opportunity to purify, thank it. 
  • Anger is not a bad thing, channeled properly, it is an enormous well of creativity.
  • On the other side of anger is often deep sadness, on the other side of sadness is often anger.
  • It's less about what you are doing or how much you gain, it's more about who you are being and how much you're willing to let go. 
  • While we all have differences, we each have a desire to love and be loved.

Though the "Pure Heart Degree" is a work in progress, at the moment, self-love and healing feel like the most important things to study.

 Be well soul friends, 

Lotus

p.s. View the entire Koh Phan photo album and another post about the island: 3 P's of KPG: Pleasure Passion Purpose.

Moment captured by:  Maxinne Bjork

Moment captured by: Maxinne Bjork

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE KOH PHANGAN. NO PLACE.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

There’s no place like Koh Phangan. No place.

People who’ve been there call it a magical island and you can see from the way they light up inside and the pictures that go along with their light that it’s 1000% true.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

The entry to Koh Phangan reminds me of a kid’s amusement park ride. If you’ve ever been you might remember next to each ride there’s a sign that says, “You must be this tall to ride this ride” along with a given height. Well in Koh Phangan, there are invisible signs that say, “Your heart must be this open to experience this magic”.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Located in the south of Thailand, this little slice of paradise has a heightened vibrational frequency that is undeniable. Similar to how at Burning Man people say, “the playa provides”, in Koh Phangan, “the island provides” giving you the lessons, experiences, and abundance you seek in a remarkably accelerated way.

Radiant Photography: Maxinne Bjork

Radiant Photography: Maxinne Bjork

I first discovered Koh Phangan through a friend of friend named Wendy. We both happened to be in Chiang Mai on the first day of the New Year 2017 and though we only met for 20 minutes, the Universe could not have orchestrated it more brilliantly. I had one extra, unplanned week of my Southeast Asia travels and after Wendy gave me the download on Koh Phangan I felt a FULL BODY YES.

My time there was even more delicious than I had imagined, this is due in most part to the profoundly impactful and expanding 5-day Tantra Heart workshop I attended (which is a whole other story) but the credit really goes to Kobi, Anna Maria, and the rest of the Tantra Heart Tribe! This is a testimonial from my experience. 

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Before I made my return journey to the U.S. I made a promise to myself to do whatever it took to come back as soon as possible for as long as possible.

While it was a challenging leap of faith that has it’s own blog post, I’m grateful to say I made all the arrangements, shared my vision with every loved one and made it happen.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Since March 2017, I’ve been living, learning, and growing in Koh Phangan. Here, I’ve found a tropical home away from home where I’ve returned to loving myself. I’ve also been met with a conscious community where I feel whole and accepted.

There is so much I want to express about this sacred place and yet I’m a bit hesitant to share for fear that my attempt at putting my experience into words might diminish the magic and spoil the secret. That said, I believe generosity is the right gift at the right time to the right person and it was most certainly that for me so if this hidden gem speaks to you by all means GO and maybe these next posts will help:

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Part #1: The Three P’s of Koh PhanganPleasure, Passion, and Purpose - a breakdown of what I see as the “vibes” of the island. I also share some pointers on how to get to KPG.

Part #2: Getting my Ph.D. (Pure Heart Degree) in KPG - a story about my personal journey of healing and some of the heart opening experiences I’ve had so far.

Part #3: Soon I'll be writing "Tantra Heart Thailand", about the Tantra Heart Tribe led by the brilliant co-creators, Kobi and Anna Maria. For now, here is one of their upcoming retreats: ECSTATIC LOVE  https://www.facebook.com/events/616640328725646/?ti=icl in Koh Phangan in January and this is a testimonial from me.

Lastly, it's not about just visiting Koh Phangan, while it has become home for me, my wish is that you follow your bliss, answer your call to adventure, go where you need to go.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

You belong where you feel free.

And sometimes it just takes leaving your comfort zone to give you the space to see what has always been within you ready to be unlocked.

So here’s to the magic of possibility and the limitless frequency of love, may it shower you daily.

xx,

Lotus

p.s. see entire Koh Phan photo album

 

COLDPLAY: A HEAD FULL OF DREAMS TOUR

Last night I fulfilled a longtime dream of seeing COLDPLAY LIVE.

Words can hardly express what their music means to me and to be in the right place at the right time, to see them in Bangkok on their "A Head Full of Dreams Tour" was UNBELIEVABLE!

When we lost Max two years ago, the only sounds that could soothe me were Coldplay's album, Ghost Stories. Max loved Coldplay and was listening to this album during his final days on earth.

Rest in Joy, Max Mendoza [1989-2014]

Rest in Joy, Max Mendoza [1989-2014]

"Call it magic, call it true, call it magic when I'm with you..."

Magic. Ink. Sky Full of Stars. 

The waterfall of tears I've cried listening to Ghost Stories could fill an ocean. The hope, the beauty, the spectrum of colors that flood my heart when I hear their album Mylo Xyloto or A Head Full of Dreams is enough to light up a double rainbow.

And last night WOW, they delivered a TRUE EXPERIENCE! The lights, the energy, the fireworks, the bouncy balls, and the sky full of confetti stars was PURE MAGIC. Lead singer, Chris Martin was so gracious. He honored every single being in the audience, the entire band, crew, security, he even dedicated "Everglow" to the recently deceased and well-loved King of Thailand. It was beautiful.

What I find so powerful about Coldplay's music is the way they utilize it as a platform for creative expression. Their storytelling takes you on a journey and through that journey you are heard, seen, loved, whole. Watching them perform and share their gifts, I was stunned thinking about what it must be like to create something over 21 years with so much magnitude that it impacts millions of people around the globe. Music is one of those magical mediums that transcends languages and boundaries. Coldplay's music elevates our collective consciousness and unites us in the human experience. Calling it EXTRAORDINARY is an understatement. 

As I danced and belted out each song, I looked up at the moon and felt Max dancing and singing with me. When they played "Everglow", I howled into the night and shed tears of joy thinking of him.  

"Oh they say people come, say people go
this particular diamond was extra special
and though you might be gone, and the world may not know
still I see you, celestial
like brothers in blood, sisters who ride
and we swore on that night we’d be friends til we die
but the changing of winds, and the way waters flow
life as short as the falling of snow
and now I’m gonna miss you I know
but when I’m cold, cold
in water rolled, salt
I know that you’re with me and the way you will show
and you’re with me wherever I go
and you give me this feeling this everglow
oh, what I wouldn’t give for just a moment to hold
yeah I live for this feeling this everglow
so if you love someone, you should let them know
oh the light that you left me will everglow"
— "Everglow", Coldplay

Someone recently asked me how I honor and celebrate Max's life. Sharing his story and living my life to the max is the best way I know how. To me, living a life to the max means sharing the inner workings of my shy soul, opening my sensitive but courageous heart, and pursuing a life of adventure.

Max inspires me everyday to be a woman who follows her dreams and who's dreams follow her too.

Thank you for always believing in me, MAXIMO.

And an extra special note of gratitude to Nori, Scott, and their motley crew of ex-pats who manifested an extra Coldplay ticket and invited me to join their party bus! THANK YOU for that most generous gift. I'll treasure it for a lifetime.

xoxo,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

#AHFODTour #coldplaybangkok #alifetothemax