Finding Joy in Thailand

When we stepped off the airplane we were hit with a wave of humidity. Instantly my face felt ten years younger, thank you, Thailand. I haven’t visited this part of the world since I was in my teens, and a flood of memories came rushing back.

When I came the first time I was at one of the lowest points of my life. I waged war with a vicious eating disorder, and more importantly, I waged war with myself. You cannot isolate one area of your life to numb. If you numb your appetite, it numbs every part of your soul, and most especially it numbs your joy.

It was not just my frame that was skeletal.

Now I walk the streets with my kids, and I eat the roti with my hands, and my heart feels joy. I eat my own curry, and half the kid’s pad thai, and a mango smoothie, and my heart feels joy. I put my feet in the ocean and wiggle my toes, and my heart feels joy. I try my best at the language (though I’m sure it’s laughable) and my heart feels joy. A local barista teases me about my second coffee of the day, and my heart feels joy.

I wander across the world and through Thailand today with a full heart. I think that maybe that is what this trip is about for me. It’s about having an appetite for life and drinking in all the flavors the world has to offer. It’s about letting go of control, and choosing life instead of fear.

Old Phuket Town Night Market

Our hosts at Rawai VIP Villas organized a ride on a long tail boat to Banana Beach 20 minutes away for us. The ocean and boats scare me, but I said yes anyway (with some convincing from the husband). As we motored across the rolling waves I was surprised in the best way. It wasn’t anxiety that gripped my heart, it was happiness, the giddiest kind of happiness.

Tuk Tuk’s Boats to Banana Beach

Sometimes you have to let go to fully come alive.

That day we made it to one of my favorite beaches of the trip so far, and I savored every second.

Scout on Banana Beach

When I was young I believed terrible messages like most of us do. Things like: “deprivation and control will earn you acceptance and belonging” and “if you weren’t so weak you’d be skinnier and happier”.

We don’t have to earn our joy, friends, and we don’t have to earn our food either.

Today I celebrate food. I celebrate Thai culture through food, and I thank God that I can eat with freedom.

Eating the very BEST food at a local night market

Today I am 50lbs heavier than I was then, and I am so grateful.

My friend, if joy, if eating, if food, seem outside of what you deserve…LISTEN TO ME: you deserve the good things from life. You deserve to eat big bites of the best things. You are worthy, and you are enough, no matter where life finds you. Have something you enjoy today and think of me.

It is brave to enjoy, but you can do it.

For me eating represents LIFE, it represents laughter that comes from deep in my gut, it represents the absence of demons, it represents a full heart, and it represents four gorgeous kids that I never could have had without food.

Thank you Thailand, it has been so good to meet you again.


Our first week in Thailand was sponsored by Rawai VIP Villas who believe in inspiring families to travel. The owners are passionate about sharing their love of the Rawai area and now we know why. We loved every second of our stay.

These villas include private swimming pools, huge breakfasts, and access to 3 different kid parks. Our kids LOVED it and so did we.

Thank you, we will never forget you!


To follow wonderoak around the world, follow me here, on Facebook and Instagram. Photos by the amazing hubs @grahamsjohnston.

5 responses to “Finding Joy in Thailand”

  1. Seeing your freedom drip from each word written is breathtaking to behold. Empowered and uplifted by the way in which you are choosing to really LIVE and so encouraged to step out and do the same in my own life, even just today. Thank you for using your story to connect with others in such a real way. This is what the world needs more of.

  2. Thank you for sharing your joy with others. Especially for those who may be feeling it is an impossible thing to achieve in their life. Your words bring with it life experience which demonstrates Joy is ours to take hold of! Hugs & Blessings to you!

  3. Beautiful blog post! Beautiful pictures too!

  4. This is amazing! I love following your travels! What a gift you have as a writer! Keep it up!

  5. This is so beautifully written. Travel, I have found, can bring so much healing in so many ways. So glad you can now see just how beautiful you are!

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