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a little thailand story

“It’s so tempting to shut people down, to limit the upside, to ostracize, select and demonize. It makes things a lot simpler. Not seeing means you don’t have to take action. Not opening means it’s easier to announce that you’re done. And not raising the bar means you’re less likely to fail.”

-Seth Godin

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog recently when I stumbled upon this quote, and the hard truth of it really struck me.  It reminded me of a situation that occurred during our time in Thailand.

In the far northern part of Thailand, settled in among the mountains you’ll find a city.  Our Thailand home.  Chiang Mai.

And in the middle of that city, you’ll find a little something called Night Bazaar, or as the Thai’s say it “night ba-saaaaah.”


Every single day at about 4 o’clock, rain or shine, the people would begin pushing their carts out to the sidewalk, ready to take on the crowds of people that would come pouring in in a couple of shorts hours.  They sold everything from t-shirts to perfume to oil burners, lamps, watches, shoes and much more.  You could gaze for miles down the busy road and still not see the end of it.

For us, Night Bazaar was a fun date night, a place to get cheap massages and a great people watching venue.  We’d weave through the backpackers carrying their babies high up on their backs and the locals stooping on the curb to slurp up noodles before the next bargaining challenge came along.

And in all the craziness there was always one thing that caught my eye – a small Thai women who looked to be about my age sitting on the dirty sidewalk with a cup held out for change and a tiny baby at her side.  While she wasn’t the only local who had found her home on the dirty streets of Night Bazaar, she was the one who caught my gaze every time I walked by… and held it.  I couldn’t forget her.

After many nights of walking by her, pretending not to see her outstretched hand or her deep eyes, I finally broke down.  I found a stand in the alley selling hot soup and bought her a small bowl and some water.  I inched up to her, feeling quite shy, and taking a deep breath knelt down and, using all the broken Thai I could muster I expressed my concern for her and her beautiful baby.

But night after night of this same routine left me wishing I could do more.  But I wrestled with the idea of it – what more could I do?  Ultimately she needed a place to live, to raise her baby….to be safe.  But I couldn’t provide that.  And with the date of our departure fast approaching, there were only so many more days I could do anything at all.

And then just like that…she was gone.  She stopped coming.  I never found out what happened to her, and I probably never will.  And that lack of knowing, lack of being able to do anything real and significant for her left me feeling disheartened and sad.  And I realize that that is often what keeps me from reaching out to impact the world in any way – the fear of failure.  The fear of feeling like I just can’t do enough.  The fear that if I allow myself to see the need, then I will always feel the ache of what I wasn’t able to do.

And the same translates to the constant pursuance of goals and dreams.  Being scared to death of setting the bar too high because I just might not be able to reach it.  And that would mean failure.  Six months ago I walked into my principal’s office, and I turned in my letter of resignation.  Sure, I did it for a number of reasons, but ultimately I did it because I wanted to pursue more.  I wanted to step out into the unknown and embrace something that would fulfill my vision for my life.  And in these months, I’ve held back, sabotaging myself because of the fear of not being quite good enough.

But I want more.  I don’t want to still be sitting here another six months from now envisioning in my mind what it is that I want to do with my life.  I want to be doing it. It’s time to raise the bar and leap for it because I would much rather be brushing dust off my backside than never getting dirty at all.  I want to see things, open myself to possibility and experiences, and offer myself to people freely, embracing the risk of hurt and disappointment.

What is one thing that you’ve been envisioning in your life for awhile, but you just haven’t quite gotten the courage to leap for?  What are you holding the bar low for because you’re scared of raising it high?

And now here’s a small ray of peace for your day:


**Also, don’t forget to stop by tomorrow because it’s a very special day in the life of ChiaSeedMe, and I’ll have a very special surprise for you!

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21 Responses to “a little thailand story”

  1. I so relate to this post. I am taking a huge risk pursuing personal training instead of trying to find that typical 9-5 job because in the end it is what will make me happy. It is a huge risk but it just feels right.

    Your story is beautiful.

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    So cool, Jen. I’m excited for you! It’s definitely scary doing something out of the norm like that, but I think it’s necessary to risk it all to do something you love. Good for you:)

    [Reply]

  2. Grace says:

    This is beautiful and very inspiring Candice! I’m proud of you and so thankful that you’re my friend!

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    Aw, thanks Grace. You know I’m beyond thankful for you:) I’m really going to miss you:(

    [Reply]

  3. This is a very though provoking post. I often wonder if I am living up to my potential and sometimes fear that I am not. I have wanted to write a book since I was 7 years old and haven’t gotten around to trying because I am worried it won’t be great, that it won’t get published and I will fail. I want to write it for me but there is always that fear in the way. I hope that I can learn to push past it and finally start that book again (I’ve started and stopped before). Thanks for getting me to think about that again.

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    You sound exactly like me when I’m believe I can’t do something. The fear of failure can be a powerful thing. I know you can do it – there’s nothing stopping you but you:)

    [Reply]

  4. Awesome post. It’s a shame you never knew what happened to that lady. At least you tried to reach out. I definitely hold myself back for fear of failure. I want to be perfect at everything I do, so if I think I won’t be perfect, then I don’t want to try. But this year I’m making a big change and trying to step out of that self-limiting thinking.

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    We’ve talked before about our perfectionism…I know we can both break out of that mold this year and really give ourselves the opportunity to succeed at whatever we want to do. I know you can do it!

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  5. such a beautiful story girl!

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    Thanks, Salah:)

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  6. I held back for fear of not being good enough or failing for about two years. I simply thought I couldn’t do it.

    Well, now I am, and it feels wonderful. And of course, I am good enough and I am doing it.

    You will too. You are good enough. Get out there and make it happen.

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    So happy for you Lisa…what a wonderful thing to be able to say! Thanks for the encouragement and the push:)

    [Reply]

  7. Jean schalit says:

    My dear, I sit here with tears in my eyes so moved by your words. Mother Theresa said when told she couldn’t save everyone in India ” no one can do everything but everyone can do something” You did something!

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    What a kind thing to say, Jean. Thank you for telling me:)

    [Reply]

  8. Jean schalit says:

    I’m so happy to find this site. I love keeping up with you and that “McCoy guy”. You have a gift for writing. I’m no expert but I say follow your dream. I wish I had listened to that inner voice when I was young. However I will not let it stop me now. I try to keep trying new things. Going to new places and listening to people.

    [Reply]

  9. beautifully written. thank you for the food for thought. i’m going to mull over “What are you holding the bar low for because you’re scared of raising it high?” for the next month

    [Reply]

  10. Mathew says:

    Good article.

    On another note, does anyone know where I can buy chia seeds in Thailand, specifically Bangkok? My search brought me here.

    Thank you!

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    Unfortunately, no. Sorry! When I lived in Thailand I didn’t even know about them yet, so I never found them. Good luck, though! Bangkok’s a big place…surely they’re somewhere!

    [Reply]

  11. danny avison says:

    CHIA seeds are currently only available @ PHUKET THAILAND.. Phromthep Muaythai Camp located on teh bottom of PHUKET island sell them @ the GYm, shop & restaurant.

    1kg bag = 2000 THB

    [Reply]

  12. Vivien Faye says:

    Great story, thank you. There is also an online health food store in Thailand selling Chia seeds for 350 baht for 300 grams.
    http://www.goodkarmathailand.com

    [Reply]

  13. Regarding the Lady with the baby, I have been here 38yrs with 12 spent living in Chiang Mai, the Ladies with babies on the street are run by local Mafia gangs to milk $$$ from tourists, they are not Thai but usually Cambodians, the reason they disappeared is because they shift them around to diff tourist spots, ALL the ฿ collected is handed over nightly to the Gang in return for accom & food She would get Max 10% of the taking IF THAT? It is a Scam to play on Soft Hearts like your own , they take in sometimes several 1,000 Thb per night depending on how many Gullible NEW Tourists are in town !!! Just thought I would set the record straight, & the Gangs look for the Most Destitute, Ragged, Sad looking ones they can as they make the most

    From a Kiwi Expat who knows & has Seen it ALL , CIAO. Ss

    [Reply]

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