Sometimes you’re on top. Stay humble. Sometimes you’ve hit a low. Stay hopeful.
I received my Lokai bracelet in the mail the today. After reading about them via Liz at Young Adventuress a few weeks ago, I was both inspired and intrigued. I felt an instant connection to the bracelet and everything it represents. I did some further research on Lokai’s official website, and knew I had to buy one of my own.
Lokai bracelets were founded by Steven Izen in 2013. The names derives from the Hawaiian word lokahi, which means “unity,” “harmony” and “balance.” The simple design contains three colors of silicone beads: black, white, and clear. The black bead is filled with actual mud from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. Izen explains that this represents the lowest point in his life, when his grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Directly opposite, the white bead is filled with water from Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Even though Izen felt extremely sad about his grandfather, he was still extremely grateful for where he currently was in life, and still felt on top of the world. The bracelet is a symbol of life’s cycles, connected by clear beads, which represent the clarity and balance among life’s joys and sorrows.
My Lokai bracelet
Balance is key to living a healthy and happy life, and it is especially important (though extremely taxing) to have balance while living abroad and in the midst of constant change. Living and working in another country, speaking another language, and adapting to another culture can be exhausting, overwhelming, and defeating. At the same time, it is equally (and if not more) fulfilling, rewarding, and just downright simply amazing. It’s important to take risks, try new things, and put yourself out there. At the same time, be sure to listen to your body and how you are responding to your surroundings– take a break when you need one, and trust your gut. I love the life I have created for myself, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. But, regardless of how happy I am, these highs haven’t come without lows.
I had to leave my family and friends back in the United States to fulfill my goal to teach in France; I settled in the south of France, then found myself back stateside, only to uproot shortly after again for another new start in the north of France. It was physically and emotionally exhausting. But holy moly, I certainly have had some amazing travels, learned an infinite amount of things about the world and myself, and most importantly, have met some incredible people along the way.
I had the absolute worst summer working dead-end jobs way below my skill level, yet I am now working a job in my field which is both rewarding and just the right amount of challenging– I have colleagues with whom I share a mutual respect and students who are motivated to learn. Happily, I’m traveling and making monthly payments on my student loans, even if I’m not saving much. Because of all the moving around I have done, I now have diverse, fun, interesting, open-minded friends, in France, abroad, and back home. My love life however… is another story.
I had all of my paperwork stolen the past September, and it was a long and extended process to have everything replaced. But thankfully, I am organized and I am intelligent– I am learning to be more patient. I have a healthy, beautiful, working, abled-body. I gained some weight, however, and for awhile I was unhappy with how I felt and how my body was adjusting to it.
My grandfather is currently very sick and in hospice, and I can’t be there. My best friends from home are celebrating milestones, but I can’t always be there to physically partake in the celebrations. My living situation changed at the end of December, causing a lot of unnecessary stress for everybody, although it has certainly worked out for the better.
Thankfully, I have a life that I deeply, truly, love.
There have been times this year where I’ve found myself laughing until I cry, and others where I’ve literally sobbed myself to sleep. Life, and especially expat life, is full of ups and downs; the best thing one can do is find the silver linings and maintain that fine line of humble and hopeful.
It’s all about balance.
Without our lowest points, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate our highest.
How do you find balance in your life, whether it be at home, at work, on the road, or abroad?