This year, I decided to take the time to look back and identify what I learned. Then what’s next and forward. From this practice, I hope I can learn from the past and make life better for the future.

I'd call 2018 The year of discovering values, risk taking, and adapting.

Early this year, I watched the documentary Food Choices, and was exposed to all the facts of how much suffering and pain we can cause to other animals, the most innocent sentient beings on this planet. I also learned that we, human, don't have to consume any animal products to be healthy and thrive. I stopped eating animals, followed the plant-based diet and changed my lifestyle to become vegan, after almost 30 years thinking eating animals is normal. About me going vegan, I also want to mention that I'm grateful for my family and friends for their understanding and support. My dad and mom cut down meat consumption, and make sure there is something I can eat on the table. My friends are willing to go with me to vegan places and even take me to vegan restaurants. Without their awesomeness, my journey will be much harder.

I developed a passion for sustainable living, organic farming, minimalism and tiny houses.

I met my cat, Alex. I wrote about her in this post.

I started my website, Green Schug.

I quit my job overseas and returned to Vietnam.

I spent time to reconnect with my family.

I travelled for 10 days with my younger brother.

I self-managed and worked towards my dream market garden. In a short period, I learned that things were more complicated.

I decided to slow down and returned to office work.

Now, at this moment, while I'm sitting comfortably in my room, writing this essay and thinking “so what did I learn and how can I make my life better?”

Two things.

First, mindfulness. I want to spend more time for meditation. Recently, after I discovered how meditation has helped me to become calmer, I love practising it. I just need to do it more.

Second, express gratitude. I should do this daily.

So, what's next? 2019 is almost here. Happy New Year.

I'm thankful you read my stuff.

I book a ride on a motorbike, the driver arrives, and we ride through the masses of scooters, tree lined streets, mixes of old and new architecture, and street vendors. I smell a strong, overpowering smell of street food, coffee, incense, and exhaust.

I feel the energy, the heat and the noise. This has been a part of my everyday life since I'm back in Ho Chi Minh City.

Yes, I'm now back in Ho Chi Minh City, and is working an office job at the moment.

If you've been reading or following my personal journey, you’ll remember how much I love the idea of starting my own garden. Thank you again for your support and encouragement, I'm forever grateful for that. Now that when I’m back in office work, I want to write this essay to update you why.

I started my career in the library field. I fully enjoyed the journey, but after several years working in education environment, I thought it was time to move on. At the time, I was right. What I didn’t foresee was that the world would have plan to pull me back. When I decided to change, I didn't plan enough. There're factors that impossible to see in details after only a quick glance. The farm project was too big for me to handle by myself, plus resource-constraint, and whether it’s true or not, there’s the perception that an office job offers more stability.

In between this awkward back and forth transitions of my life, I choose to slow down and take the time to reflect. In the short time learning to self-directed, and managing my own time, I got the chance to know myself pretty good. I’ve found things that I don't like about myself, and realised but there’s things about myself that I didn't know I had. I've learned that patience is key for me (hope I'll remember). Although my time in the start-up trial was short, I still feel proud that I gave it a try. My decision to go back to the workplace seems like a better option for me (for now).

My dear friends, this essay doesn't end here. I want you to know that I still keep my vision for the garden, and will continue working on it. Just take it slow, take it easy, and probably, try to smile more.

This essay is about some of my random childhood memories.

I grew up a small, simple house, in a small street lined with other houses. We used to share the house with one dog, two cats, and in a short period of time, a hen. When I was 10, on a visit to my grandparents, my uncle, a farmer, gave the hen to us so we can turn it into chicken salad. That plan was cancelled after I found out that the hen was laying eggs. I negotiated with my parents that we would butcher the hen after she finished giving eggs. They agreed. Some weeks later, when my parents saw that I had developed a strong bond with the hen, they let me keep it. The hen stayed with us in the house as a pet until my parents convinced me that our house was too small for her, and she would be happier to stay in my aunt's garden.

My hometown was a small town. Although it wasn't a city, the town wasn't a countryside either. My mom tried her best to teach me about nature when I was at a young age. When we visited my grandparents in the country, she took me out to the garden and showed me the vegetables, the fruits, the herbs.

These memories from my childhood were becoming clearer recently, after I had some time reflecting on my first 30 years of journey through life.

This photo is from our family photo catalog.

I don't know how to end this blog post, so that's that.

Best wishes.

©2020 by Hien Minh Tran.