View from atop Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai’s most visited Buddhist temple.

I’ve just returned from vacation in Singapore and Thailand, and though I’m happy to be back, some part of me is still in a far off place.

Maybe it’s the jet lag or maybe it’s the balm of living without email, news and Trump for several glorious days, but my world is moving much slower.

I’m worrying less, strolling my neighborhood more and prioritizing time with friends.

This is a much different pace than where I was 10 days ago.

Thailand arrived amid a swirl of writing projects, business-building plans, facilitation commitments, volunteer engagements and the anxiety associated with being over extended without the stability of a clear vision.

The Elephant Nature Park provides a sanctuary for injured and mistreated elephants on 250 acres an hour north of Chiang Mai. Visitors can bathe, feed, and walk with the elephants, which helps them re-establish trust with humans.

During a tarot reading, the reader kept stressing how stressed I was.  She emphasized a need to relax, call in resources and trust that things would “work out.” I resented this advice. I was not “stressed.” Being stressed meant failing. It meant that all my efforts to design a life that centered joy and self-expression were for not. I was not stressed; I was simply spread thin. But then, what’s the difference?

When asked if I was excited about my upcoming adventure, I knew I was supposed to smile and share my plans enthusiastically, but really I felt embarrassed.

Surely, like myself, others must also be wondering how I could “take vacation”  when life was so obviously in flux.

And could I even afford such a trip?
Even though it didn’t make sense, it was clear Thailand was calling …

Naga snakes guard two local girls in festive dress and the steps to Doi Suthep.

In part, my adventure was fueled by my mother’s plan to book a condo in Koh Samui, an island off Thailand’s southern coast. A round-trip, non-stop flight was only $800 from San Francisco, so I went for it.

After some research, it became clear that one cannot go to Thailand without visiting Chiang Mai – the city of temples, food and elephants, so I added that destination to my itinerary.

This meant spending more money on hotels and, in-a-too-complicated-to-explain twist, traveling primarily with my sister’s best friend who’d I meant only once, but at this point I was surrendering to what was unfolding.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware of how privileged I am to make such a trip. I’m incredibly grateful that I have the flexibility in my schedule and resources to travel the world. I also felt though like I was gripping the back of a runaway horse.

I buckled in for the ride.

As soon as I boarded the plane and was no longer able to check in on life back at home, how easy it was to rest my busy mind.

I was fully there — finding my way in new cities, eating strange and wonderful foods, swimming in the ocean, walking with elephants, getting tattooed by a former Buddhist monk, singing along with a local performer to the Eagles while gleefully eating street market fried chicken.

I used that little green bucket to splash the elephants with water. They loved it.

This is how they felt.

A traditional Singaporean breakfast of sweet milky tea, runny eggs and toast. The locals go crazy for it. There were lines. I still don’t get it.

Roti with bananas and Nutella. I’d like another one of these ASAP.

Dining at one of Singapore’s many hawker centers was the easiest way to find good, cheap food. Just follow the crowd.

With my sister and her BFF Melinda in Ang Thong Marine National Park.

Kayaking with mom in Ang Thong. We look synchronized here, but in reality, not so much.

Among the super trees at Singapore’s Gardens By the Bay.

Inside the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.

Wat Chedi Luang. Notice the elephants on the second level. This structure is huge. I’m in the middle on the bottom for perspective.

I didn’t think about the projects awaiting my attention.
I didn’t worry about how things were going to “work out.”
I didn’t wish I was somewhere else.
I read. I enjoyed my travel companions, and I enjoyed being alone.

And when the trip ended, I was ready to come back.

Now with the slowness of my days, I see more clearly what this adventure was about.

Leaving my life for this brief period was like taking my forearm across the kitchen table and letting all the projects that were keeping me overwhelmed fall to the ground.

It was a reset.

Now I’m back at the table but selectively choosing what is placed on my plate.

How easy it is to lose perspective.

Walking behind the elephants at the nature park, I was astounded that though they’re giant creatures, their footsteps make very little sound.  They move gently at an even pace. Through the mud and the rain, they take their time. They exude a quiet confidence. There’s a feeling that they know they’ll get wherever they’re going, why rush?

(An elephant sprayed me with mud at the end of this video, which is why I suddenly laugh and stop filming.)

Where can I walk more like an elephant in my day? While writing, working on this blog, trying to build a business, can I have confidence in my direction.

Can I simply enjoy the journey and welcome the surprises along the way?

In this vein, I’m taking this month to perfect my march. I’ve cleared many of my regular commitments, to slow down, connect with friends and to my environment and simply enjoy the richness of life.