First Quarter Growth



It’s been three months since I landed in Vientiane. Twelve weeks of attempting to grow where I’m planted.  Finding a way to thrive in a place such as this isn’t exactly easy. One minute I think I’ve got a hold on things and the next I’m on the floor. The trick is getting back up and trying again. 

I’ve learned a few things for sure in my short time here…

Ants are diehard little bugs. I know I’ll never win, but our battle wages on.

Vientiane and I aren’t strangers anymore. I know my way around. When it’s time to pay for something, I don’t have to stare at each denomination of kip trying to decipher which is which.

I’m immune to the calls of “tuk tuk” on every street corner.

Laotians will be friendly even without knowing a word of English. When I bought apples today, the produce lady smiled as she always does but this time put her fingers to each of her cheeks. She insisted I smile too. I did.

Killing a mosquito after it drank my blood all night feels amazing.

Ordering a coffee or tea is never as simple as I think it will be. Cream and sugar will be in everything unless I can communicate otherwise. Ordering wine is easier. I order wine a lot.

Crossing the street is exactly like a video game I played as a child. Dodging cars, motorbikes, trucks and tuk tuks requires some serious eye/foot coordination. Most street crossings are either a mad dash straight across or a run and halt, run and halt situation.

The extremely high temperatures are teaching me to find more ways to fill my time indoors. No longer do I trek miles a day as I zig zag through town. I wait for Rob’s day off when we can take Scout (our scooter) on the longer errands. Even on short walks I find new places on my body that have the ability to sweat copiously.

Surviving Pi Mai (Lao New Year) is an accomplishment worthy of a t-shirt.

Every day is a fresh start. I remind myself after the more difficult days (there are many) that today could be better (it often is).

A store employee will probably follow me around as I shop.  I’m prepared now to have a human shadow as I peruse the goods. It will never stop being annoying.

Strangers are almost always willing to help.

The power can and will go out randomly and without reason. Always be prepared.

Being an expat in Laos has had me dealing with emotions and situations I never dreamed I’d be facing. Making it through each week feels like an accomplishment. Well, it IS an accomplishment.

Three months in Laos has taught me so much about myself. I can only imagine what the future holds.



  1. You, as always, have learned from your experiences and articulate them so well. I love the imagery of “attempting to grow where I’m planted.” I am so glad (though not at all surprised) to see you growing in adverse conditions.

    In a business context, it is unusual to see much (if ANY) growth in the first quarter. The first quarter tends to be filled with those inconveniences you have detailed in earlier dispatches, reboots, failures, more reboots. It was a first quarter that led me to write “Sometimes the measure of our success must be our ability to limit catastrophic failures. Experiment. Risk. Learn and thrive”. And it was first quarters that had me sure my “check liver” light was going to come on at any moment.

    So, with that first quarter behind you, now is when the real acceleration begins.

    The future holds what you hand it.

    Keep growing. Keep thriving.


  2. This does make me feel better and encourages to keep on going. Making adjustments as needed, taking those risks and learning every time. Thank you! I have a new mantra… “the future holds what I hand it”.

    “Check Liver” light… heh heh heh. Might have to borrow that one.

  3. Lovely post. And you’re right – it *is* an accomplishment. Something I remind myself when I’m having dark days is that I am going to look back one day and say ‘I did that. Me.’ It’s a lovely feeling 🙂

      • Exactly! Every time I meet a new expat the first thirty minutes are all ‘hey do you find this weird’ or ‘did you know about this?’ And lots of ‘me too!’ and ‘I thought I was the only one!’ It’s so refreshing.

Speak Up!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s