March 26, 2013

A dream home...away from home

 ...But every house where love abides,
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home, sweet, home;
For there the heart can rest.
Henry Van Dyke

A Dream Home Story...

My blogging friend, Cindy @ Rough Luxe Lifestyle asked me to write about my idea for a dream home. I did not hesitate for a moment. She has an eye for style, so much so, that every post of hers becomes a 'pinfest' for me. I was touched that she would ask. She asked six of us to think of our 'Dream Home' and write about it...interpreting it any way we like. I thought it was an opportune time for me, for in a few weeks, I will be travelling to our home away from home, to start the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.

If you have been reading Collage of Life these past few months, you will know that we purchased a small farmhouse in the wilds of New England in December 2012. I was on a quest last autumn to find a little place, down a dirt road, to hang our hats after our travels. Mission accomplished (here). Since that time, it has been sitting quietly, bracing itself from the winter storms and chills as it has been doing so for over 200 years.

March 24, 2013

Life around Chateau Mango

Weekends are full of promise. The promise of things to do...whether it be relaxing, exploring or catching up on loose ends. As the sun sets over Saigon this Sunday afternoon...I do not have the usual angst...that feeling that time sped by and I did not get it all done. I made a promise, a weekend promise, to take it as it comes, to look more closely at the world around me and to hang up the worries. I find when I do, that life becomes a bit clearer and my organisationally challenged mind is ready to focus by the end of the weekend.

I took Mr. H on a long walk Saturday morning, to show him what I see from day to day. As we turned the corner from one street to the next, we both commented how much our world has changed since this time last year. He was already living in Saigon and I was still holding down the fort back in England. With that thought we both remarked how fortunate we are to have this experience in Vietnam, it is more than we could have imagined and even with it's challenges, it is one that we will long cherish.

Along our walk... 
Click on 'Read more' below...

March 19, 2013

On my graduates

My 1979 Graduate Handbook

If you are like me, you will be in the year of the college graduation or thinking of it. The one you thought would never come when your children were trailing behind you with their favorite doll or truck in hand. Now grown and about to graduate, you guide them, in your own way, recalling the years when you were the same age, marveling at the similarities and differences to yourself at that age. It is natural for us to draw on our own experiences, they are the ones closest to our heart.

I find myself in a conundrum.  I often feel like I am in the dark ages. As a mother, who started her career in 1979 when the world was a different place, I feel at a loss when comparing the differences to women in business in 2013.  In 1979, companies were hiring and they were looking for women. I graduated from a women's college with a Bachelor of Arts in Management. I was focused, I knew what I wanted and was offered a great job with a large consumer products company, renowned for it's sales management training program.  At the age of 21, I loaded up a truck with a few belongings from home and set off for a new job, in a different discover a 'new working world'.

The reality was that it was hard work, very hard work. I did not realize that I was one of a handful of  women in the training program. There were 250 trainees at my first national sales conference and six were women. I stepped into a man's world and the competition was intense. I loved the challenge and felt my time with that company was a changing point in my life. My career progressed and then something happened.

A greater challenge presented itself, my husband, Mr. H. Between marriage, children and moving around the world frequently with his job...I fell out of touch with that side of my life and fell in love with my new life. I held on as long as I could, working full time, then part time until I realised that looking after a teenage au pair was harder work that my three young children and decided to call it quits. The au pair finished her contract and I took full charge. Another new world dawned and I was ready for a new set of challenges.

With time, you tend to forget. I always called my early work experience my 'other life'. With friends in similar positions, we would talk about our 'other life' like it was from a mystical land. We were the Band of Stay-at-Home Mom's...speaking less frequently of days gone by and focusing on our day to day life and cherishing what we had. Occasionally we would come across the Band of Working Mom's who managed to slip into school events when they could. I admired their ability to navigate both world's, some with success and some struggling along the way, just as many stay-at-home mother's did. At the end of the day we were all there for our families, doing the best we could, regardless of our situation in life. That fact still holds true today.

These past weeks, my husband and daughter have been reviewing resumes, reading cover letters and talking through job strategies. Although I feel out of touch, I feel at the very least, I can read as much as possible and guide where I can. I secretly has been exciting, to throw that hat on again...however lightly. I went into my LinkedIn page, found my old resumes and started typing. My last paying job was in 1995 but no matter, it felt good to remember. It helped me to look at my life as a bigger picture and not just segments. If you have been thinking about doing the same...I say do it! There is not telling where it may lead...

Sheryl Sandberg,
Chief Operating Officer
Facebook via

Along the way, I started reading and searching, looking for articles that might inspire, direct and encourage my daughter. First up Sheryl Sandberg and her new book 'Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead'. I have yet to read it but I have to say, if the reviews are anything to go by, I am looking forward to it. She has people talking..and 'leaning in', there is no question about that. Whether they want to or not is another matter. Book aside, if you want a light read into the woman..she has a few book suggestions which I have noted for my daughter, here. If you are curious about her...and want to hear her can watch this.

This morning I came across an article by NY Times writer, Adam Bryant. He writes the 'Corner Office' column. The article, 'When I Hire You, I'm Hiring Your Mentor's Judgement'  prompted me to write this post. Mr. Bryant interviewed Ilene Gordon, C.E.O. of Ingredion, drawing on her advice to young managers. She talks about tenacity and never giving up. She recommends having Plan A, Plan B and Plan C or D..if needed. She looks for people who treat other people well, who are focused and organized.  When interviewing, she asks potential candidates who their mentor was. Who did they learn from? She feels she is hiring not just the person sitting before her, but the four people who mentored the candidate and she wants to know why those mentors were important to the candidate. She looks to see how people have handled adversity, if they came back or walked away. Ms Gordon summed it by saying... "Very few people have perfect lives. You want people who are able to have Plan B and C, and to rise above a challenge, move ahead and just get on with it, and have that can-do attitude". I like the way she thinks.

Illene Gordon, C.E.O. Ingredion
Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

I am enjoying this little quest of mine.  In many respects, as in the comments by Ms. Gordon, I can see that the 'words' have not changed over the years. Many of the qualities considered when I was interviewing are the same as what employers are looking for today. As for women in the workforce today, there has been a lot of progress with still a ways to go.

If you are like me, in a similar place in life, as I know many of you are, I hope there is something here that will resonate, if not now, perhaps later. Interestingly, in exploring this changing world for my daughter, I discovered something about myself. I still have the good fight in me and am looking forward to new chapters in my life. My other life may be in the past...but it's today that matters and what I have planned for the next day and the next. My father always had one word for me....Believe. I believe as strongly today as I did back then and only wish he was here so that I could tell him.

With that, I sign off from this lengthy post, one I felt I needed to write. I thank you kindly for reading. If you have any thoughts on any of this, I would be interested to read them. If you have any links, books or sites you would recommend for my daughter, I would love to know and would love to share.

Let's talk...have I sparked a thought or two in you?


As always, once we start taking, the ideas start flying. 
Thank you for your comments...I love them!
The highlights follow here:

I mentioned Sarah @ Thyme videography..
it's fabulous, look here

for suggesting the book 
'Knowing Your Value' by Mika Brzeniski. 
You can find it here

Vicki @ French Essence wrote a great post 
on the extraordinary women that we are...
'Jane Austen Got It Right' can read it here

I downloaded the Kindle version 
of Sheryl Sandberg's book 'Lean In'.
You can find it here

I mentioned a book review by NY Times
writer, Maureen Dowd,
'Pompom Girl for Feminism'.
You can read it here

Tara Dillard  commented and got me thinking.
I then went off to explore..
Joseph Campbell and 'Follow Your Bliss' here
Helen Reddy.. 'I Am Woman here
'The Feminine Mystique' by Betty Friedan which
led me to an interesting article here

Keep them coming...loving 'the talk'!

March 17, 2013

The luck of the Irish in Vietnam...

We stood in front of the store...
with me enticing Mr. H inside.

Within a flash, 
a woman approached and suggested
we might want to move aside.
We all looked up and there it was, 
hovering above us.

I wasn't surprised, for nothing 
surprises me in Vietnam anymore.
All I could do was smile...
and grab my camera.

Would the beautiful red Vietnamese chest 
make it to the bottom in one piece? 
I admit, I had my doubts.

They must of had the luck of the Irish with them!
For those of you wearing the green today..

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sending you a great big green fan wave from our 
Traveller's Palm.. 'ravenala madagascariensis'
at Chateau Mango!

Photos by a woman with a bit of the Irish in her... me.

March 15, 2013

A woman and her craft...Tricia Rose and Rough Linen

Glory Moments...and Tricia Rose of Rough Linen

For me, there are two types of inspiring moments. I call them glory moments. One is the  'Aha' moment, when I finally get something right and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Lately I have had a few 'Aha' moments with the blogging course I am taking. So nice to feel that again.

The second glory moment is the 'Ooh' one, when you look at something and  say 'Ooh, I love that'. I recently had a double hitter, the 'Ooh' and 'Aha' moment at the same time and I owe that to Tricia Rose of Rough Linen. When I saw this picture, it was unequivocally an 'Ooh and Aha' moment for me.

March 11, 2013

Thinking Zen and Chateau Mango

my mini reclining buddha

It is Monday evening and I am thinking zen and staying calm.
How are you on that front? 
Are you pretty good at keeping it together?

I have undertaken another Blogging Your Way online course.
I am suppose to become my own Blog Boss.
One week down and I am already behind on my homework.
No matter as it has been so fascinating to date, that I am getting
more than I bargained for. I have had to dig deep and think
through what this is all about and where I want to go.
My list is long..or maybe it is not and I just think it is.
Maybe the reclining Buddha above is the only one who really knows.
No matter..I am going to be a good student.
(note tabs above)

But before I get back to work..(because I am the ultimate procrastinator)
I thought I would share a few things happening 
around Chateau Mango via Instagram.
One of the beauties about Instagram is that it is quick and easy.
It is your mind at work...and it can surprise you, when you least expect it.

Read more, click below

March 8, 2013

The Speakeasy...


My daughter, Miss Tine, called me this morning
and asked if I could help her. She is planning a Ball 
around 1920's Prohibition and the Speakeasy.

She asked if I could could get in touch 
with people of 'my era...the older set'
who might have ideas on where she could
look for inspiration. I did mention in passing
that I was not a twenty something in the 1920's.

But I do know of a very talented group of readers who might
be able to suggest a few ideas for the twenty something crowd.


I thought of actress Clara Bow...


and The Great Gatsby.


I then thought of what a twenty something girl 
today would wear to a Speak Easy Ball.



and then wondered what I would wear, being that
I am 'of an era--in the older set'.
It didn't take me long to find this Poirot Design 
worn by Peggy Guggenheim. 
Photograph by Man Ray.
Yes please...

Penny Guggenheim in a Poiret Design
Photo by Man Ray

So my question to you..when you think of the 1920's...
Prohibition...Speakeasy.. what else comes to mind? 
Any books, movies, photographs, links that might
help a young twenty something plan a Ball to remember?

I found this....

With that..
I wish you a rip-roaring weekend of fun and laughter!
1920's style..

Jeanne xx

March 6, 2013

The Tour Guide....

If you want to bring back fabulous memories from a trip,
it is essential that you have a professional tour guide. 
We have a list of qualities that we look for in a guide,
when you have these qualities you can expect 
wonderful things to happen on your trip.

March 1, 2013

The Travelling Sisterhood

Celebrations for young novices on their way to the monastery in Ava, Myanmar

That feeling...
If you have been reading Collage of Life for a while now, you will know that we live a travelling life. Moving from country to country every so often and exploring as we go. Through all it's trials and tribulations...I enjoy it and am happy when others come along to say they share a similar passion. I photograph and write about my travels with the hope that one day I will inspire someone to take a that might enhance their life in some way. It doesn't have to be the big bang could be as small as having that feeling...that one you get when you are somewhere and you say 'this is it'..this is the moment I want to remember. Do you know that feeling? The one when you have connected in some way with your surroundings and it feels feels makes you want to move mountains...or maybe not. Perhaps bringing home a pebble will often does for me. But man oh man...what that pebble does for ones soul. That is the feeling I live for and when someone else feels the same...pure gold. With that, I thought of The Travelling Sisterhood.

If you are a man reading this, I don't mean to slight you, it is just that 'The Travelling Sisterhood' sounds so much better than 'The Travelling Manhood or The Travelling Hood...I think you catch my drift.

The Travelling Sisterhood...
In fact, I am thinking of four ladies in particular who are in the midst of an amazing journey at this very moment. En route for a three week trip through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam where they will eventually make their way to Ho Chi Minh City. The trip to Vietnam comes by way of a mention I made in a post a few months back about Jean Wethmar, a woman who organises Vietnam luxury tours for women at Cape Lux Travels. In fact, I met Jean via Mille at The Laurel Hedge. As the world turns, as it often does in the blogging world ...Linda at Lulu Musings followed along as well and decided it was her time to go on a little adventure of her own. She got three friends together, contacted Jean and they are now having the journey of a lifetime. The travelling sisterhood doing it's magic.

Linda (in grey) and her travelling companions in Bangkok

I am so excited for them all. I love that they decided to travel to Southeast Asia on their own. I love that they are experiencing this side of the world for the first time. I love that Linda is photographing and recording her journey. This journey will most definitely be one she will be speaking of with her grandchildren for years to come. My guess is that all of these lovely travelling ladies will inspire others to do the same. The Travelling Sisterhood will live on. If you would like to follow along on their journey, you can visit Linda here.  

A world class traveller...
I would like to mention my mother-in-law, Mrs. H Sr... who at 82 is the one of the most remarkable travellers I have ever met. She recently travelled with us to Burma/Myanmar...her second trip to the area. The last one was part of an archaeological tour two years ago. She has been a worldwide traveller for as long as I can remember. She travels solo and with friends, with a preference for museum and university tours. Like minds tend to find each other and she has had a ball. She told me her favourite travels have been to Myanmar, India, Iran and Tunisia. She is still keen to travel to Nepal and the Netherlands. She is talking about hanging up her passport in a few years time...something I can not imagine her ever doing. 

Mrs. H Sr...travels Inle Lake, Myanmar

As for me...
I am still at it, working through my Myanmar photos, taking inspiration from the travelling sisterhood and doing my thing. That is me..below, on the left, with our local Myanmar guide, Nyein Nyein Ei, who was fabulous. Mrs H. Sr took this photo, one of the very few that I have of myself for I seem to always be on the other end of the camera. I am wearing my usual travel gear along with my Aussie travel hat which has served me well. It is a sorry sight at the moment but not any sorrier than me in the sandals above. I look strange, I know. I am wearing my favourite Ecco sandals only because I got so tired of taking my shoes off and on for every stupa, temple, monastery, pagoda..that  I decided it was much easier to just velcro snap and go! You are going to get dirty regardless and that is my theory for all it is worth!  :)
Me (l) and Neigh Neigh Ei (r) in the Aulang Sitthou
area of Inle Lake, Myanmar

It is only fitting that would be members of the The Travelling Sisterhood know of Journeywoman.  It is an online travel resource just for women...a great place to start if you are contemplating a trip. Sometimes the best trips are when we step out of comfort zones and just go for it. There are plenty of women who have done just that at Journeywoman.

Armchair travellers...
For those of you who are armchair travellers...and I count myself as one of them too, here are a few good travelling tales... enjoy the journey! 

My travelling armchair

Until next time and at the rate I am going, it could be sooner than you think
(two posts in one week is a big event for me) I wish you well....

Jeanne xx

Contemplating another kind of journey...into the monastery as a novice monk.