Every year I take a break, sit down and do a little review. Like New Years eve, but my own. This year, the birthday time has come again. This year has been amazing.

The story of my 35th year started in Sweden with lovely friends around me, food and wine included. I was considering if I was to accept a job in Thailand or not and realised I had absolutely no reason to stay in Sweden and freeze another winter when I didn’t have to. So I enjoyed my summer with friends in Sweden, left for some weeks to Italy to spend time with friends there and improve my Italian. I had a great summer and enjoyed having another ticket back to Asia.
When the colour of the leaves started to change I left Europe. I spent a couple of nights in Bangkok and it was just the time when their beloved King died. It was a remarkable experience to be around a people that loved, truly loved their king. I moved on and reached my final destination on one of the islands. I started to work as a music teacher and I haven’t always before in my life been totally satisfied with the profession. So I was nervous I would’t be it now either. But I’ve changed and it turns out that I love teaching music, absolutely love it. I met wonderful kids and my colleagues were sweet, loving, funny and inspiring, both as people and as teachers. Since the island is very touristic I didn’t get to know too many Thai people, but I did get to know some and they are naturally caring people. One thing that I love about that culture is that you don’t take other peoples things. If you forget your bag in a restaurant one day, three days later the owner comes running after you in the street to give back your bag. In Sweden people steal a lot, they think they are entitled to other peoples things, meanwhile in Thailand it’s the opposite. Yes, there are always exceptions, both ways. But there are a general trust in the country, which is beautiful.
Something happened to me in Thailand, something I can’t explain. Maybe it was the work that I enjoyed, maybe it was the colleagues that told me how proud they were over me and that I was so proud being a part of, but something happened. I’ll come back to this later.
I found some people to play with and wrote a couple of songs, which I haven’t done for some time. I needed to focus on other things. I’ll come back to this later too.
I wasn’t certain about going to Thailand, because I’ve just never dreamt about it. I’ve been there before, but still I thought maybe I should’ve stayed in Sweden for a longer time. I realised I had absolutely no reason to stay, so I left and I’m so happy I did. I had a wonderful time in Sweden too before I left and maybe that was why I considered not to go, but I did and I’m so grateful for this experience and all the people that crossed my path.

For the Christmas break I went back to my old home in Malaysia and a few hours after my arrival I was on stage and playing with some musicians from the old days. I went for some runs in the jungle with the same people as last time, and I now know for certain that I will always have a place in Penang. A part of me is always home there, thanks to the loving, caring and funny people. It was 2,5 years since last time, but it might as well have been 2,5 weeks. Once a Penanger – always a Penanger I guess.

I finally went to Australia, which is the only country I’ve actually planned to go to, but I’ve always missed the directions and ended up in other countries. Finally it was time. I saw lots of kangaroos, tried to surf way too big waves witch ended up in my five first surf stitches, drove around, ate chocolate, drank wine, having nice jam sessions. My friend was getting married and it was without a doubt the best wedding I’ve been to. So many nice people and just celebrating love. I played and other people played and it was a beautiful moment. Australia was already in my heart before I got there and I’m happy that I got to know some more people so I can come back and visit them on both west and east coast.IMG_2414

I took a little trip to Sri Lanka to improve my surfing, as I know have unfinished business with the Yallingup waves in Australia. I’ve learned that I need to surf better before I can go for them again. I’m looking forward to improving my skills and to finally surf those waves. Sri Lanka is beautiful, I met some lovely people, both travellers and locals and my friend from Sweden, decided as a spur of a moment, to come and join me. Great surprise! I’ve thought about surfing with dolphins of course, but now I’ve had the experience to surf with turtles and that was even better. Another thing that’s been on my bucket list was to see a Blue whale, so me and my friend went on a whale safari and I’ve seen about seven of them now.

My time in the Asia/Australia part of the world took a big part of this year.

What I was coming back to was, I’ve found a balance that I haven’t had before. Life was trying me out some time ago and my first time in Thailand life was testing my balance, but I kept it and it made me proud of myself and as well, made it turn into a wonderful time.
I’ve heard for years comments about me not finding balance and searching and if I’m not going to settle down. I had the discussion with a Swedish male friend in Thailand. He’s a traveller too and he was surprised, he told me that he was sorry and no one had ever told him anything like it and that I get to hear it just because I’m a woman. I think it’s true.
I have found balance, maybe not the kind that you can see on paper. By that I mean, house, car, 2.5 kids etc. I have a balance within me of love and self worth. I will always, always, always keep on searching. To be curious is a state of mind I will keep as long as I live, learning new things, exploring. That what makes us grow and I will always be searching for new knowledge in every perspective, books, languages, spiritual, surfing, dancing, music and whatever there is to learn.

What I’ve learned this year:
I’ve improved my Italian.
I’ve learned a little Thai.
Improved surfing.
I’ve learned that I should realise my limits and not go surfing with too strong, too big waves when I’m still a beginner (specially not when you’re bleeding in a water full of white sharks. I’m writing here so obviously, I was lucky and I became a little religious as I feel blessed for still being alive.)
Diving (and the names of lots of fish)
Improved setting boundaries.
Learned Yoga and that it actually can be challenging (used to think it’s the most boing thing in the world)
Improved drumming skills.
Driven both scooters and cars on the left side of the road.
I’ve written a book in 30 days (a challenge and it’s not worth reading, but I wrote it and I know it’s possible.)
I’ve learned that I have a talent for eating with my fingers, as you do in Sri Lanka and India.
I’ve discovered that I actually love teaching music.

Maybe I didn’t learn so much new things this year, maybe I just improved what I already started and I feel very good about that. I’m looking forward to what this year has to bring, new experiences, new people, new moments, new places, old places. I know nothing about the future – I have a million ideas, but I know nothing. I welcome this year with open arms.

Thank you to all the people that made my 35th year a great experience. Looking forward to this year with new challenges and opportunities.

Lovisa Ståhl