The winds of change amidst downward mobility

Downward Mobility

This phrase was shared with me this year, and I have since read about it some - and definitely have lived it in ways this past year.

To me, it’s about the opposite of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. It’s about choosing to live a life more simply, instead of getting more for the sake of having more.

At the same time, sometimes striving for downward mobility is just no fun. It can often mean delaying pleasures/gratification. It might involve learning how to live in an intentional community for the first time at age 34. It might involve not buying new technology when your current devices no longer function. It might involve more planning ahead. Which takes energy and time. It might mean sweating it out in a ‘fan-only’ room instead of opting for the air-conditioning.

Even when I’m tired and have a headache, deep down inside (sometimes very deep down!), I know that I would prefer striving for downward mobility rather than not. 

  • Because it can also facilitate more space for conversations with my husband, with no wifi/data interference at home. 
  • Because I can relate to some aspects of our larger global community, for people who don’t have as many choices and thus naturally are often striving for upward mobility. And perhaps I have a slightly better idea of what that feels like. 
  • Because limitations can lead to creativity and resilience. 
  • Because I’m more fulfilled now that I watch less movies/TV and read more books than I used to.

As John & I continue along the final third of our journey in Thailand, we continue to talk about what our lives will look like back home. We’re not perfect, and I’m sure our re-entry into American life will not be either. But I’m hopeful that we’ll take some active steps to implement aspects of ‘downward mobility’ into our life back in the U.S.

Boat races!


As there are too many details and too many layers, I cannot and choose not to share the how’s and the why’s. The result I will share: Melissa, one of the two GSVs who came back to join us, left her volunteer year in Thailand and returned to the U.S.

Please keep her, us, Lauren (the other GSV who joined us), and this community in your thoughts and prayers, as we all navigate new waters.

More Layers

These include John’s recent bout with sickness. He went to the doctor, got necessary medicines and stayed home to rest for the better part of a week. Thankfully, he is much improved and already went for a run, and we're additionally thankful that this time there were no hospital stays. So there’s that. 

Sr. Mary ended up in the hospital recently herself, and experienced her 97th birthday in the ICU. She has since left ICU and returned home. Antonia, Sr. Pranee, and the other sisters have been her main support the past couple of weeks and really much longer than that, as she has been struggling with her health in recent years.

Toads on doors, toads on floors, toads beware, toads everywhere!


One afternoon, I was waiting to ask one of the social workers a quick logistical question. I was really tired, due to the emotional toll of everything recently as well as recovering from overnight duty the night before, and somehow mustering up the energy to provide massage to a few patients. I was sitting at the table, and another staff member walked clear across the room to acknowledge how tired I looked and honored my regular efforts to massage the patients. It's moment like these that keep me going, and I'm thankful for Phermsak's awareness and kindness toward me that day.

Hopefully less layers and less change to share in the coming weeks. Hope you are balancing your own worlds back home alright. Much love to you all.