It’s hard to know where to begin. Or whom I should thank first.
With Terry Netto of People Potential? For inviting me to the February Initiatives of Change conference held in Kuala Lumpur? If it hadn’t been for that invitation, I wouldn’t have come to Malaysia this year in the first place.
Terry connected me to Susanna who in turn introduced to me to an impressive list of amazing Malaysian and Malaysia-based women, some of whom I hope to see again on this two-week return trip, only three months after my “maiden voyage.”
Of the women who shared their stories with me on that first trip, I’ve only published Zainah Anwar’s so far; she’s an Islamic feminist with attitude AND an agenda for change. (Oops. Wait a minute, this just in: a hot-off-the-press letter about Cambodia from Ann Njeri, who I also met in February – definitely take a look if you feel in need of an attitude adjustmnent…)
This time around I’ve been faster on my feet with a story and on-the-go podcast featuring amazing Shaimlee and her can-can do attitude.
Those of Mano, Tini, Ju Lin, and Madeleine await the time and technology solutions, but they will see the light of day sometime in the future…
Or should I thank the Initiatives of Change delegates first for making the conference experience so powerful? They were energized, passionate, creative and committed – what a spectacular group of people.
My friend and colleague Jacqueline Throop-Robinson, of PassionWorks fame (see her article on leading passionate teams in tough times), was also at the conference. To be honest, the prospect of seeing her was the factor that tipped the scales in favour of me attending in the first place.
In typical Maritimer fashion, she dragged me out for drinks with several cohorts including the ever-patient Malar Ramalingam, who chauffeured the ragtag group, introduced us to a VERY cool pub (and to the OUTSTANDING band playing therein), then finally convinced us (too late for our own good I’m afraid), that it was time to go home and crawl into bed instead of on to another nighttime establishment.
Coincidentally, it’s mainly because of Jacqueline and Malar that I’m back in Malaysia. The former is going to accredit me to deliver PassionWorks (watch out world!), and the latter is my gracious hostess for a week of exploration in Ipoh and Penang (watch out Malaysia!).
Surprisingly, I rang in 2009 with no intention of visiting Malaysia. And yet by June 1, I’ll have made two trips here for a total stay of four weeks. Even more interesting is the fact that as the plane landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, I had an overwhelming feeling that I was “coming home.”
And yet, as I stood in KLIA, recalling an emotional experience I had last year at the Karachi airport (airports, it would seem, bring forth tears of joy, loss and/or loneliness, depending on the occasion), I sms-ed my Pakastani friend Hassun to say: “I’m not sure why I’m here, but I am. The universe knows I’m sure…”
I’m easing into the understanding that for me, at this time, home isn’t a place anymore….Or at least I’m easing into it when the universe isn’t dragging me kicking and screaming into the possibility of understanding (lol).
Home doesn’t have to be a roof over my head, or even a familiar environment. It can be much less tangible than that. I’m discovering that home can be wherever I meet and connect with people, wherever I have the opportunity to share joy and happiness, and/or wherever I have the chance to inspire and be inspired.
So this week and next, today, tonight, and tomorrow, Malaysia is my home. And here too is part of my ever-expanding extended family.
I guess that means I should start by thanking God/Spirit, the angels and the universe, for providing me a home away from home no matter where in the world I am.