Hello…It’s Me!


It has been many months since I have been here.  Not the way I planned it or hoped it would be, but such is the case.  Charge it to my head and not my heart.  Many of you know when I returned to the US for Christmas all the things I had hoped I would do and all the people I had hoped I would see just didn’t come into fruition.  I got sick…like violently ill sick.  Like not being able to keep food down, I slept thru Christmas dinner, and was in bed at 4 pm on New Year’s Eve and missed the ball drop countdown, sick.  Yeah.  It was awful.  I suppose that my digestion system is more set up for Chinese cuisine or food preparation, than I am US food now.  I have never experienced such illness in my life…so, I don’t have a lot of photos to share from that time at all, but…it was good to be home with my family and friends; my daughter especially.  She is so very mature and wise now.  She was that way when I left her, but she has come into full blossom since my departure and I couldn’t be more proud of her!


December 2018

The Christmas Crew. Kayla, Kaz, Yoshi and Jayna
I am not quite sure whose idea this was but since I am officially the outlier in the family (due to my living in another country), I am not sure I got a say! All of us had onesies for Christmas and Kayla took on the job of ordering them for us and included Smokey, our beloved Cocker Spaniel, as well! It was the silliest, loveliest thing we’ve done in a long time!
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Even Smokey got in on the act.  Little did I know, that this visit him would be my last time seeing him.  He passed away in February. Definitely a devastating loss.


February 2019 Happy  Chinese New Year!

Source: Wikipedia  CNY History

Chinese New Year[a] (or generally referred to as Lunar New Year globally) is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The festival is usually referred to as the Spring Festival in mainland China,[b] and is one of several Lunar New Years in Asia. Observances traditionally take place from the evening preceding the first day of the year to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the year. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February.[2] In 2019, the first day of the Chinese New Year was on Tuesday, 5 February, initiating the Year of the Pig.

Chinese New Year is a major holiday in Greater China and has strongly influenced lunar new year celebrations of China’s neighbouring cultures, including the Korean New Year (seol), the Tết of Vietnam, and the Losar of Tibet.[3] It is also celebrated worldwide in regions and countries with significant Overseas Chinese populations, including Singapore,[4] Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar,[5] Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines,[6] and Mauritius,[7] as well as many in North America and Europe.[8][9][10]

Chinese New Year is associated with several myths and customs. The festival was traditionally a time to honour deities as well as ancestors.[11] Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the New Year vary widely,[12] and the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is frequently regarded as an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. Another custom is the decoration of windows and doors with red paper-cuts and couplets. Popular themes among these paper-cuts and couplets include that of good fortune or happiness, wealth, and longevity. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. For the northern regions of China, dumplings are featured prominently in meals celebrating the festival.




Bali, Indonesia. Chinese New Year Holiday

Just after the New Year, I returned to Beijing, still not my best, but definitely on the mend.  I was about 15 pounds lighter, but as they say…the show must go on.  I resettled myself in my own space and at work, knowing that it would be only a matter of weeks before another national holiday and another vacation…this time in Bali, Indonesia!  This trip was arrange by only 2-3 people who have become great sources of inspiration and information here in Beijing.  A group of 17 of us; mostly educators (a few were significant others of the educators).  Not many of us knew one another very well.  We had networked over the course of time and attended various events that would bring us together (particularly women of color) every now and then.  We stepped on on faith …we trusted that we would have a great time on this week long adventure…and we did!  Bali is the place to be.  Loads of photos!  Enjoy!


Place where the white dinner was held on our last night in Bali.
Fabulous art!
This arch way lead to our villas!  The name of the place was Sally Villa.
All white dinner.
This gentleman owns a business (cafe) not far from the villa where we stayed.  A number of folks in our group had met him.  He has a book published on his life story.  Tough roots in the UK but has overcome it all to be a successful business man, husband and father.  I wanted the book but he had no spare copies in the cafe.  Amazon…here I come.  He was so delightful and energetic.  Great spirit!  LaTondra is an American as well.  She teaches here in Beijing and also makes her own soaps!
Wall of the cafe!
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People in Bali are very talented..from the looks of these bottle openers…too talented!  LOL Yes, they are shaped into the object that you are thinking… your eyes are NOT decieving you!
Old phone
Very cool sign outside a cafe!
How cool is this old flyer?
We were headed to a temple to see a dance performance and had a chance to admire this beautiful scenery.
Paper Lantern lighting and release.  Rhianna (trip organizer and her new fiancé, Cliff…he proposed on this trip) are next to me.
Nothing like a Pina Colada inside one of these.  Cool and refreshing!
I was showing off my more slender figure…lol
You cannot really see it but around my waist I have an orange scarf tied.  Because we were entering a sacred temple we had to do so out of respect.  If your legs were showing then you had to put on a purple skirt they provided to cover up.  This went for both the men and the women.
The youngster behind me is named Kayla.  She is far more gregarious than the one I gave birth too but she is sweet just the same!
The day after learning my father had died the beach trip happened.  I was there physically but mentally, I was elsewhere.  It was so unexpected and shocking…I was just in a daze that whole time.
The end of an amazing night…and the end of an unforgettable trip.
Yes…this place made me smile…A LOT!


This open area is in the villa where 5 of us stayed.  Breakfast and another food we ordered was brought and served to us here everyday.  This is the group BBQ we had.  The pool was conveniently located outside of me and Tigra’s room, just steps away.
Those flowers kept falling in the pool, so I had to make use of them.
Me and the neon glasses!  There were tons of those glow sticks.  After the BBQ, they were all thrown in the pool.  While it looked good, they couldn’t stay there.  Luckily a few people pitched in to get them out!


Tigra from Texas.  She was my roomie (we”d also travel together to Japan after this) and prayer partner when the news of my father’s passing came in.  She’s nutty but a kind soul.  Definitely keeps me together with her craziness. I am glad we have grown close.  She’s like a daughter to me.
After seeing this woman move these bricks this way…no one should ever complain about heat and working hard in it ever again.  Enough said!
#24kBali BBQ We had a great time!

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Cool restaurant with a pool!

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My room
Dining area just outside our room.
Night view of the pool outside my room.
Kitchen area




See how close the pool is from my sliding glass door?


I was not brave enough to get on this swing!


I forgot the name of this animal but the interesting thing about it is that it’s poop makes for great coffee in Bali.   I would not know…I didn’t try it.
Sunset at the Temple after the Indonesian Dance Performance.


Indonesian Theater performance


The Beach where the white dinner was held.
This one shot,  this one moment probably best described the way I felt on this vacation…even with the news of  my father’s passing. I have never felt more free and grown up in my life!  A beautiful place…glad I got to see it!  Everyone should experience this place at least once.  I hope to get back there again with someone special!


February, 2019. The passing of my father Guy E. Braxton and an unexpected trip to Ecuador



The night of my second day in Bali, I got word from my twin sister Yoshi that my father had suddenly passed away in Ecuador.  I was in complete shock.  I knew over the past few months that he was having some issues with his health. My sister would keep me updated periodically with what was going on.  You see, for several months prior to my coming to Beijing, my dad and me were not on speaking terms.  Periodically, throughout my 50 years on this planet…we’ve had a tough go of things.  It hit the highest level of tough (or lowest level perhaps) just before my departure and I had to make the decision to “put him in time out”.  (This was a phrase that we used when we had to sever communication for  a bit.)  It was necessary and I have no regrets about my decision. Sometimes you just get tired of being tired…even with family members.  I am glad he is no longer suffering and I take comfort in knowing that I gave all that I could to him, for us, for as long as I could.

Out of respect, I won’t air the dirty laundry here, but I felt it necessary to share this because it is my blog and his passing impacted my timeline/travel plans, so it is quite appropriate.  So, without much more on what was or wasn’t between us, my twin sister Yoshi and I got on planes from our respective locations (she in NJ; me in Beijing) and headed to oversee my fathers affairs and residence in Ecuador.  Mind you, I finished my vacation in Bali, because it was economically advantageous to do so.  I had previously planned to travel to Vietnam the following week, so I cancelled those plans and booked a ticket to Ecuador.  I returned to Beijing for two days, repacked and headed out again.  (Thank God for the Chinese New Year holiday…I had two weeks off and subsequently took bereavement leave after my return from Ecuador to recover.)

Yoshi and I met up in Houston, Texas for the long journey over…a total of 3 planes for her and a total of 4 for me… we were greeted and cared for by his neighbors, who in many respects, were like family.  They looked after him and his property; in sickness and in health. Upon arrival, we were given that same wonderful hospitality each and everyday.  They were there every day, every step of the way assisting us with navigating through the town, interpreting (thank God for my three years of Spanish in high school), running from office to office in order to do all that we needed to do.  Here are a few photos of our time in Ecuador… we are grateful for the ongoing support from the neighbors during a very difficult time. Keep us in your prayers…we still have work to do…







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