After an 8 month gap in blogging, it’s difficult to know where to start as so much has evolved and changed, in the world and at Gratitude Vietnam!
I hope life is treating you well, that you are finding ways to ride the storm and maintain social connection in amongst the physical distancing, and that entering 2021 brings some level of knowing that everything will work out, in spite of the ongoing global challenges.
2020 - A Year of Challenge
Following the first period of ‘nationwide social distancing’ here in April, we enjoyed 99 days of “case-free” stability in Vietnam, until another outbreak took hold in Danang City in our neighbouring province, resulting in a second month over July and August. As a commune, we stayed open until the rainy season hit in October. Frequent flooding and typhoons forced closure however, as accessibility to the villa became increasingly challenging for those calling it home.
Having experienced the worst rainy season in 20 years, it brings some comfort to know that even when the worst flooding hits, the bedrooms are elevated enough to remain unaffected, and even Typhoon Molave only resulted in one broken bathroom window. (The shell from the pool made excellent transportation between the house and villa!).
Whilst cases have been detected in Vietnam since August, these have all been found in those arriving into the country. With strict quarantine procedures, and an effective track and trace system in place, it is with tentative hope, optimism and faith that I am reopening Gratitude Vietnam for retreats once more, to those living and working in this beautiful country.
It feels strangely incongruent and insensitive to be writing about reopening from a place of relative stability and faith in the government, with awareness of situations evolving elsewhere around the world. As always, and for so many reasons, I am grateful to live in Vietnam, and only wish that other leaderships had been able to act with such decisiveness and put lives above politics.
It might seem foolhardy to hope that other countries might actually learn from the way things have been handled here given that Vietnam so rarely appears in International news,, (perhaps out of embarrassment?), but with only 35 deaths in a country of over 95.54 million people that shares an extensive boarder with China, the statistics speak for themselves.
The easier option at this point would be to close and figure out a life-plan ‘B’, as Vietnam does not look set to reopen international travel in the near future. Having had months of ‘sitting with’ this, and exploring the options however, my heart is still in Gratitude Vietnam, and nothing else feels right. I do have faith that this will pass, and that while the world may look different, international travel will resume, along with visiting yoga retreats, and those looking for a place of sanctuary and healing here in Hoi An.
The Gratitude Family:
On the animal front, Bobo continues to grow in personality (if not stature!), and Dotty remains a little princess! Devastatingly, Poppet was never returned to us, and whilst I still keep a beady eye whenever I venture into Hoi An in what I know to be ‘vain-hope’, hold her in my heart every day.
A couple of weeks after her disappearance, another little bundle was discovered by the pool at the villa. Riddled with ticks, very sick with distemper, and patchy-furred, Rosie became another member of the Gratitude Family. Despite the vet here giving her only a 40% chance of survival, and her then becoming ill with tick-fever, Rosie has blossomed into a happy nearly-adult! She is a little gummy as her adult teeth have not come through (and may not!), and the distemper affected her nervous system, so she has occasional seizures, but she has generally regained her health and is a gentle, sweet, loving presence, if a little shy!
Challenge, Reflection, Adaptation and Change:
Challenge invites reflection, adaptation and change. With this, Hannah made the life-choice to leave the business, and return to teaching. The rollercoaster financial pressures of setting up the business alongside a desire to return to the fulfilling nature of working with young people was compounded by the unexpected and unpredictable nature of the pandemic. Whilst Hannah has been teaching a class of year 1 children, I have taken on remote work for a company transforming university courses for best-practice online learning. What started as a means to keep the business afloat ‘for a few months’, has become a deeply satisfying and rewarding part of my life. Aula Education (for any past colleagues looking to transition away from the classroom!), is an incredible start-up company that lives and breathes inclusivity, diversity, humanity and authenticity. I’ve been so fortunate to have taken on various roles that have not only rekindled my passion for (and belief in) education, but also grow professionally and embrace challenges I wouldn’t have considered myself capable of previously. Working with this phenomenal team has been (and continues to be!) a pleasure, and a highlight in a difficult year all-round!
2021 Retreats in Hoi An:
So… after a whistle-stop tour of 2020, what’s on the cards for 2021 at Gratitude Vietnam?
I’ve decided to stay with the favourites from 2019-2020. Reiki 1 and Reiki 2 training retreats, the ‘Discover True North Retreat’ (previously, the Mindful Mini-Break), alongside the ‘Relax and Recharge Mini-Retreat’. These shorter weekend retreats are offered as an opportunity for gentle, healing, and relaxing city-breaks.
A reintroduction of the ‘Rolling Yoga and Meditation Retreat’ also provides an option for guests to enjoy accommodation, meditation and yoga, whilst spending the days relaxing, or exploring!
The flexible nature of working remotely, in combination with the time-zone difference will mean I can still offer 1:1 sessions and workshops in the mornings alongside evening meditations, (and hopefully, find some balance between the two!), whilst still financially supporting the business through this uncertain time!
More information on the retreats and Reiki trainings for January to May is available on the website and in Facebook events. If you are reading this and know of anyone living in Vietnam who would enjoy a stay with us, I would be immensely grateful if you could share these wherever appropriate!
The venue is also still available for retreat hosts within Vietnam to book for their own retreats, and in the short-term, for accommodation-only on request. The next couple of weeks will focus on a little repainting when the rain allows, and returning the villa to it’s pre-rainy season ‘loved’ state, with bookings for the Rolling Retreat, with 29th January seeing the first of the weekend retreats.
My focus word for 2020 was ‘balance’. This is not something I have come close to achieving, however possible it felt on December 31st 2019! If anything, I have embraced long working days, and ‘sheltered-in-place’ from the world in general as the year in it’s entirely took an emotional toll.
The imbalance has however, provided more tools for a peaceful and present life; certainty that Gratitude Vietnam will be my future for as long as it is possible; time to re-kindle hobbies; a realisation that completing my MBA wasn’t entirely a wasted effort (!); and a deeper faith that unknown and unexpected twists and turns always offer choice, and ultimately, it will be ok, whatever ‘it’ looks like!
Wishing you a 2021 filled with connection, compassion, kindness and faith,
"Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible." ~ Mandy Hale