Failure to Thrive


One word has been resonating through my heart and my head every day. A word repeatedly spoken as a gift by  Onmyfeet . He ends each encouraging comment with:


Every day I go rounds with myself. How do I make this work? How can I find ways to thrive here in Laos? What am I doing wrong? The truth is I just plain don’t feel well. It’s been weeks of using my ‘mind over matter’ approach to sickness with no improvement. It’s a scary thing to admit you’re not physically well so far from home.  I’ve blamed the extreme heat and humidity. I’ve blamed lack of sleep and dehydration. I’ve blamed lack of physical activity. I’ve blamed myself.

I’m strong. I should be able to make this work. I shouldn’t wake up every morning figuring out how I’ll slog through the day ahead. I should embrace it all and be excited. Should should should.

It’s left me torn, confused and sad.

But, a wave of relief came over me yesterday when we bought my ticket home. Does this make me a quitter? I tell myself that the finish line was a point I set myself. I had this idea I’d last a year and anything less would be a failure.

So, now I try to come to terms with leaving. I will miss so much of this life.  The future is totally unknown again and that knowledge is also difficult to deal with. I crave stability and health at this point more than anything.

In a week I’ll be on a plane home. Rob will follow a month after and we will continue our crazy beautiful mess of a journey together into the next chapter.

And we will find a place to grow and more importantly to thrive.

New beginnings await.



  1. Oh, Rachel…

    Held back tears as I read this in a stuffy hotel room in bleak Detroit this morning.
    A few words about failure–
    I have failed more times and in more ways than you can imagine. I know whereof I speak.
    ‘Failure to thrive’ is not failure.
    Failing to try is.
    I once shared with you my wish that you be ‘healthy, happy and whole’… but that wasn’t fully possible in Laos. At least not right now.

    Laos is not the journey. Love is the journey.
    Rob is the journey. Your wild, wonderful, imperfect life together is the journey. Laos is only ancillary to that. A detour which soon will be behind you.. There will be more. The important work lies ahead. Together lies ahead. Love lies ahead.
    And that is where you will flourish. And, yes, Thrive.

    “Some days ask us questions, some days give us answers. Most days we live in the hinterlands between the two, and think about exploring”.

    You explored. You reported back. You’re ready for your next assignment. I will continue to quietly cheer for you, to wish you ALL good things, to have faith in you and your abilities to survive and to thrive.

    Look forward.
    Be happy, healthy and whole.


    • Yes, failure to try is another feeling I know very well. Making this giant leap took all of my guts and then some. So, in my deepest heart I know you’re right and I’m beginning to feel a small sense of pride in the last months of my life. I’m mostly proud that Rob and I continue to put our love and our relationship above money or status. I’m a very lucky girl.

      And I’ll keep reporting from wherever I end up.

  2. You’ve lived the experience ther fully and given it all you had to give. It’s time to move forward. Wish you were coming here, but I suspect this is not “home”. Where are you heading? Washington?

  3. Not feeling well overseas is very hard, I had the same thing. Good to get away for a while.. nothing is forever, if you wanted to come back/go somewhere else there’s nothing stopping you! The world is your oyster!

  4. My comment cannot compare to Onmy feet. He is right. Hoecer, here is my comment: I tell my students on their bad days when we fly…those days are the ones you learn from the most. It’s not that you failed, you learned!

    • Your words mean so much to me! I’m back in the states already realizing how much I’ve grown from this adventure. You’re so very correct- it’s the hard times we learn from.

  5. You’re no quitter kid, you’ve done it before, you’re doing it now and you’ll do it again. Miss what you’re leaving and looking forward to what’s ahead, is not a quitter make. You’re a brave woman and I admire your tenacity, I, in no part of my lifetime would have felt strong enough to do what you’re doing. You and Rob are a unique couple, very commendable. I love you guys and we have an extra room if you want to come visit us in Yakima. Keep up the great work!

  6. What a beautiful post. You have been honest with yourself, faced your fears, and cut your losses. I deeply empathize with you about feeling like making another change means you have failed. I have felt that way too many times! Good for you for doing what is right anyway! Thanks for continuing to share your external and internal journeys with us.

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