One year anniversary post…

Last year today, sitting on my bed with my legs stretched out before me, reclined on the traditional triangular pillow my husband placed against my back, I pressed on “Publish Post” for the very first time on this site. I have not written in a long time, but knew that I wanted to start collecting memories and recipes so that years from now when inspiration strikes, our son (soon to be 11 year-old) could find his way to the kitchen and produce a taste from home. Hopefully then he will rediscover, and feel surrounded by, the human connection, the shared history of a people, the life little secrets, and the love of our family that food brings together…

I decided to crack open the window into our life for I felt that our stories are shared by many, not so much in the details, but in what lessons they teach, and what they communicate. I have been told at one point that I have lived a privileged life, having had it too easy, not knowing what pain and suffering is, hence unlikely to understand life and the principles I seem to live by. It is true that my childhood, though uprooted, was a happy one, full of escapades and discoveries; I was lucky to have been raised by positive role models who did not let me focus on my life’s shortcomings and blame the circumstances, but who have pushed me to explore the possibilities. I really had no idea if anyone would read my blog, but I was determined to write it all down. At the very least, my family would have a virtual place to gather round.

Over 15,000 readers from 75 different countries later, I sat this morning at the kitchen table to finish typing these thoughts, reminding myself that exactly a year ago I could not walk. You see, it was not by choice that I was writing in bed. It was because almost two years ago as I was leading the first ever cultural exchange to Laos for our music and dance programs in Vientiane, cancer cells had metastasized to my bones, making me unable to walk. But if you ask me what I remember from that trip to my motherland, I would tell you that I loved the colors of the sunset over the Mekong through our bus’ dirty windows, that the fresh coconut juice was the best thirst quencher in the humid afternoon, and the show our students put on at the National Cultural Hall was breathtakingly beautiful… NOT the excruciating pain I experienced while taking the 5 steps to the podium for the opening remarks.

I was first diagnosed with breast cancer during the holidays of 2005: my first obsession was to see my son (who was then 3) go to first grade – we have just finished middle school selection! Throughout the second round of treatment, my family and friends was my biggest cheering squad. Not once had my husband let me doubt that I would cook, walk, and teach dance again. The first thing I did when I was getting better, but not strong enough to stand, was to guide him, from my bed, through the process of making ‘tom khem’ for our son and our nephew, Santi, who would take pictures on his phone to show me the various stages of the caramelization process. Needless to say my husband burnt the first batch and set off the smoke detector! Throughout dinner we laughed so hard at the ridicule of our first instructional cooking session, while eating, though second attempt but still slightly bitter, this all-time comfort dish.

Now that I am able to run around again, those days seem so far away. A lot of times, people even forget the ordeal that our family had gone through. But that is how we have chosen to live, to focus on the light, and refuse to have darkness take over. I am counting on being here for college selections, and definitely on catering my child’s wedding, per his request! I am not one to age myself, but birthdays and anniversaries have a whole new meaning after my diagnosis, as they are iImagemportant milestones, a reminder to reflect on what we have accomplished, to celebrate how far we have come, and to be grateful of the many life challenges we have survived.  If nothing else, I hope that you take away from this blog that regardless of your past and circumstances, you alone can choose what defines you, and decide what to do with your waking moments…

Here’s to many more years of blogging!

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19 Responses to One year anniversary post…

  1. Desary says:

    Cheers to many more years to come, you are an inspirational to me and our family!

    • Thank you euay Dely! I think we all are in it together and have been able to feed off of each other strength and positive outlook on life. More than grateful to have such an amazing support system: thank you for being in it, always 🙂

  2. Sovani Meksvanh says:

    You will cook, walk, and teach dance again… and you will be at your son’s and daughter-in-law’s side on their wedding day.

    • Thank you Sovani for being such an inspiration. I often check up on you on FB: to know that you are here, standing strong, and soaking up the light makes me believe that there’s nothing faith and determination can’t do. If nothing else, we are 2 stubborn fighters!
      P.S.:Hopefully the wedding will come later, MUCH later: I am barely keeping up with the pre-teen attitude!

  3. Khampho Ohno says:

    Know that you have touched so many lives. Your passions; your enthusiasm about life; your love and dedication for your son, husband, family, friends, community, and being Lao, have been so inspirational. I am so fortunate to have known you and looking forward to celebrating future milestones and successes that will surely come your way.

    • It’s been a great journey meeting perfect strangers who have become family in the quest to provide opportunities for our children. Thank you for being part of my life: near or far, I know you are here pushing along my side.

  4. Thao Outama says:

    We have four children, 3 daughters and one son. We are very proud of them, they are our joy, our sadness, we made our decisions in our life to be with them when they need us. WE….can’t continue…..Sorry.

    • Papa – Know that you have been, and will always be, with me every step of the way of my life, regardless of the distance and circumstances. What you have inculcated in me from day one, the seeds you have planted in me, are blossoming in my actions, my positive outlook on life, and my strength to move forward and contribute much to our community. You and Maman have been my rock! Thank you for keeping me grounded while always pushing me to reach for the sky. You don’t have to say much, but I know… Love you very much!

      • Maly says:

        I can always count on you to be the voice and emotions I wish to express. I feel privileged to have been born in this family with loving parents and three wonderful siblings. I feel blessed to have such a great support structure in cousins, aunts and uncles. I’m so glad Aniran and Santi get to experience being in a close knit family like ours. Let’s always celebrate one another! Love you little sis.

      • We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful extended family system. Life challenges seem to have bonded us even stronger, enabling us to be more open with our emotions. I thank you for all that you do for the family. Love you much.

  5. With many biases, I proudly say that your writing is one of the best and that I truly enjoy each and every word. Of course, anything I read, the English teacher peaks her head and tend to be critical of everything; with your writing, it is no exception. I am happy to report that the English teacher in me enjoys each and every word you pen, each and every indentation, and each and every punctuation in your writing. I can only wish I’d come across this type of passion in writing with my students–that would be a utopia in the teaching of English and literature. A near impossibility, but I shall wait for that day ;-))!

    Digression aside, please keep inspiring: you are a true champion for Ravipon, Phon, your pol and mae, and Eauy Air, Eauy Tui, and Dee, and all extended families and friends. You are a rare gem, a one of a kind, a one in a trillion! Your passion in everything you do is contagious, and I am most grateful to have shared a path in this journey with you and yours.

    All my love!

    • I know you’re here every step of the way, downhill, up the mountains, keeping afloat, dancing to Bollywood beats, walking on clouds in utopia… To borrow nong Steve’s words, “You know my jai”… Thank you!

  6. Nye says:

    Happy Anniversary, I have read and followed your blog and not fully understood, but now I understand your words. Thanks for sharing your recipes and you have been a great inspiration to me. 🙂

    • Hi Nye! Thank you for following my blog. Without the family background, it might be a little difficult to grasp what and why I was writing. I was deciding how much to share, but in the end, it is who I am and what made me who I am… 🙂

  7. Jenny says:

    What an inspirational part of your life you are sharing with all of us! Thank you for sharing your recipes so I can share with my family! To many more years of blogging!

  8. seeharhed says:

    Happy First Anniversary and hopefully many more years to come. I’ve always enjoyed reading your cooking blogs.

  9. Mercedez Inthavong says:

    I just discovered your blog today and I love all the recipies I’ve seen. I miss Lao food so much and my boyfriend loves it. So I’ve been looking and learning. Please keep posting! Thanks

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