Moving to a completely new country that I had never been to came with lots of unknown variables and inevitably some fears. Here were my 5 biggest fears before coming to Korea:
- The cold. Everyone goes on and on about how frigidly cold Korea can get in the winter which scared me because I don’t do well with cold. At this point people usually stop me and point out that I am from Minnesota so I should be used to the cold. But I’m not… and I was still nervous about coming. So, how cold does it get here? It does get pretty cold (depending on where you are), however, there are lots of ways to get around this. The Korean’s undol heating system, their constant use of hot packs, heat tech gear and obsessive hot tea drinking all help a soul brave the winter.
- General safety concerns as a girl. I was going to the other side of the world by myself I wanted to know whether Korea was a good place to embark on solo adventures. It doesn’t take much research to realize that Korea is probably one of the safest places that you can go as a solo traveler. The crime rate is low and the people respectful. I am, however, living by the shipbuilding docks and there are all kinds of characters there (Korean and foreigner) and my Korean friends have reminded me multiple times to just stay alert, especially when it’s dark out. Staying alert, avoiding areas you know aren’t as nice (or don’t know as well), and being careful about where you go after dark is just good common sense no matter how safe the general country is.
- Natural disasters. Earthquakes and typhoons are completely new things to me. The first time I felt an earthquake here I was really confused… I thought a big bus was driving by but then it just kept going. Same with a typhoon. I remember walking to school in the rain soaked because my umbrella had snapped in the wind only to realize that we were in the middle of a typhoon. My co-teachers were shocked I had still come to school. Thankfully, neither the typhoons nor the earthquakes were dangerous where I was and I don’t think Korean natural disasters are any worse than they are in other places.
- The bugs. I’m just keeping it real here. You can ask any of my friends. When they asked me what I was most afraid of before coming to Korea, I would respond the insect life. What kind of insects does Korea have? Will I be able to cope? The bugs are bigger than the ones I am used to but there is nothing any more bizarre then what I have seen back home. (spider picture) I have not seen anything which gave me nightmares yet.
- This is not something that scared me but something that scared a lot of people I talked to: North Korea. Actually whenever I would tell anyone I was going to Korea the first or second question they would ask was North or South? And then they would talk about the fact that the Koreas are still technically at war. Which they are but they’ve been at this cease fire for a while and are ready for anything else.
So there you have it: Korea is incredibly safe and I’m glad I came. The general concerns are nothing to stress over and certainly nothing to keep anyone from coming.
Once upon a time, Superman lifting up a car blew peoples freakin minds. He lifted a car! A car! Who does that?? It’s hard to even push a car. Not today! Today cars in movies explode like Grenades and are about as easy for heroes and villains to throw. When the modern audience sees cars as props in current films with super beings, they expect the scene to be epic and unique in order to impress. I’m one of these people, I like my movies fast pace and explosive, I admit it.
BUT, I really like the idea of a simpler time when superheroes lifting a car was enough.
This may be largely due to the fact that I am realizing how far I have to go to become super (I’m pretty far from lifting a car and a lot, LOT farther from throwing it like a grenade). If I’m gonna be super, I don’t mind if the bar isn’t quite so high.
So, the other day I decided to slow down and simplify life. In honor of the good old days when lifting a car was enough, I pushed a car around the block with my brother. And sweat a lot.
If we hit any patch of ground that inclined a fraction I was stuck. Everything was sore afterwards. A couple of my neighbors were confused. (Most neighbors expect this kind of behavior from us though and were probably surprised we weren’t doing anything weirder.) The car metal got hot. It was a constant struggle.
It was awesome!!!!
I felt like I was taking a very real step towards being super and I loved every second of it. This is the kind of fitness I want to stick with. The kind that is worth doing just for itself because it’s totally awesome and fun. I want to push the car because it makes me feel like oddly like a hero, and I love that it also gets me in shape! I guess that’s just one more step towards being Wonder Woman!
So, on this blog I talk a lot about the importance of dreaming and having ambitions, and I have let you in on some of my own personal goals and dreams, hoping that you can relate, be inspired by, or sympathize with me.
A lot of people make goals or resolutions. A lot of people fail too. If I was reading my story, I would be wondering if I make it. Oh, wait, I am reading my story, or at least watching it unfold just like you are. and I am wondering how I will make it. (By the way, you are watching your own story as well (and are probably the main character of it often times to) and you shouldn’t let yourself down as the reader or the character.)
So here is the update on how my New Years Resolutions are going and how my epic quest is going.
New Years Goals
1. Languages are on both the epic quest list and were my New Years Resolutions and thanks to Duolingo my fluency in Spanish, Italian, and German is growing closer each day. Do you have a language goal? Check duolingo out or even better, tell me what you do to reach your goals.
2. Lose 15 lbs. Already lost 5 of them. Check out http://www.dietbetter.com/ if you want to see what worked for me this January. I am looking at doing Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping for my next project not because I am particularly extreme but because I like boxing and they do that for cardio 🙂 Why am I doing programs like dietbet and Farrell’s? I like to have short term goals not just vaguely say “weight loss” because I don’t really care about the weight so much as the feeling I get when I’m strong and energetic and lean! 🙂 Everyone likes being healthy, what do you do to get healthier?
3. Do a handstand was my third resolution. That was not the focus as much last month but it will be this upcoming month or two 🙂 (If you can already do a handstand I’m jealous and if you can’t you should put it on your resolutions list because why not?)
4. Pray a 1/2 hour a day. I have actually been doing an hour. I really need the silence in my crazy life and its been amazing!! 🙂
5. Article published yet? Nope. Just stewing over ideas still.
So over all, not terrible. The year is just starting and I’ve already begun making progress. The trick is not to quit now that quitter’s month has begun (Poor February, the month of quitters and of a holiday which nobody but me seems to like (aka Valentine’s Day).) It’s actually a time to start a new project and keep working towards your goals.
And as a sort of P.S….
How is my epic quest going?
I have gained 4 points so far (+2 for losing 5lbs and +2 for completing a small personal work out challenge). 50 points completes a level so I’ve got a long ways to go (and miles to go before I sleep… and miles to go before I sleep…).
I don’t have much time today, aside from work and such to write but I wanted to make a brief comment on the weather.
What’s this? An Eeyore post?
I’m not trying to be gloomy, I just wanted to point out that some days can be described no other way than gray; I like to think of clouds as pearly white but sometimes they are not. And sometimes the world is not even adventurously stormy, it is just very mono-colored and a little more chilly than we would like.
That being said, there is something really wonderful about days like this in January. I have hours of work ahead of me and most of my friends do as well. If there was even a drop of sunshine out, I would be yearning for the beautiful outdoors and to bask in the warmth with all my friends. I know I like to talk a lot about how great the in-between-really-awesome-moments, but seriously, these moments are so under-appreciated!
So here’s to a day that is beautiful because of the way we grow, the way we persevere, and the way we work to make ourselves better and our dreams come true.
So I was running on a treadmill, in a rather ill-lit basement, squeezing something of a work out in between exhausting lesson planning. I was worn out in every sense of the word and stuck in headphones–the soundtracks on my playlist are the only thing that keeps my legs going. Buried in work, new confusing situations, growing up financially, and all kinds of relationship changes, I’ve had a lot to process and running always helps clear things up. Even if you aren’t fresh out of college you can probably relate to facing chaos or transition in life.
I was listening to the Big Hero Six soundtrack and it was one of those triumphant songs… I hope you are listening to it right now to get the full affect. I tried to understand what it made me feel. “I feel brave” is not really strong enough to capture the feeling. “I want to be a better person” isn’t really specific enough. “I want to climb a mountain” is probably closer… but not quite right. “I want to win” is almost right. “I can win… I am winning.”
It’s the feeling that drives Olympic runners break new world records, it’s the feeling that brings people to the tops of mountain few have reached before, and it’s the feeling brings people to finally ask the one they love out to dinner. And it’s beautiful.
Out of all the chaos in the day and all the confusion…running on a rickety treadmill late at night listening to the Big Hero Six I found a lot peace and remembered a part of myself a person should never forget–the feeling of wanting to win and knowing that you can. It’s powerful.
Why winning is so important? This probably sounds like a stupid question to some people but for me its an honest inquiry and often times very specific. Why do I want certain things? Are the dreams I want to win valid? Are they truly important? I think about the languages I want to learn, the places I want to see, the person I want to be. I have had some pretty amazing experiences, and I want to have them again but I want to know my own motives. Everyone is going to find different motives for their dreams, many people are going to find a variety of reasons for wanting to win. For me there are two reasons that I could think of right away.
The first reason I want to win is quite briefly beauty. I want to gain things, experiences, or skills which I feel brings me closer to beauty.
The second reason is a little more complex and much deeper. When I think about the amazing sense of victory that comes with keeping my eye on the prize and winning it; when I think about the amazing sense of peace that comes with living the dreams of my heart won by hours of heart work and incredible blessings, it is not just satisfying or enjoyable. Suddenly standing on that mountain, my own personal mountain, I feel very close to God. I think, it is when we remember that we are meant for more, that we are meant for greatness and can achieve it, we remember who we really are.
I’ve realized that during college it is easy to grab a group of friends and head out to do something good–carpool to a nursing home and sing Christmas carols. Sometimes you even get pressured into donating to a good cause or running for life which is great.
Then college ends and the career (or at least struggles to figure out and find a career) begins. Loans need to be paid off and you are suddenly slapped in the face with a plethora of responsibilities that are much more real than ever before. Growing up is great but it can also carry with it the danger to focus on the responsibilities you automatically have and forget all the extra good things that are important to continue building who you are.
When I work so many hours a week I realize that, this semester at least, I have no way to schedule a regular volunteer position but there are a lot of little things I can do to remind myself that there are a lot of people out there who’s day I can brighten. There are ways to reach out and not let myself get caught in my own busy little world.
1. Take the time to pick up after others at the house. Whether you live with your family or some roommates or even at your job, it can be annoying if everything is messy. Picking up after people makes their day easier, makes the place cleaner for everyone and can show that you will go out of your way to help others.
2. Take the time to take family or friends out. For me, taking my little siblings out is a really important thing that I have to remember to do. Taking the time to have good conversations is important and not a chore but something that can sometimes get a little lost in the throes of duty that assail life.
3. Write a letter. I don’t know about you but getting a little letter can totally make my day. I have pen pals all over the world and, honestly, I am not the best at always getting back to them. But even if you don’t have any official pen pals, sending a note to a grandma or parent can really brighten their day. It only takes a little time but a lot of thought and shows lots of love:)
These all literally can take a couple minutes and I am sure there are a hundred other options but I just wanted to get it out there-we need to keep thinking about those around us, no matter how busy we get. I need to keep thinking of those around me no matter how swamped I am. Any other ideas for a broke, time swamped college student? Or for anyone in general? How can we make the world just a little bit better of a place? 🙂
Some people laugh at them as pre-failed attempts: New Year’s Resolutions. I personally like them. I think that having a goal for a year often does help me and probably helps others (even if it is for a sadly short period of time). So let’s talk about how to make a real resolution: one that really matters and one that you are actually going to do.
First, I always like to start by looking back. Before we leave the old year completely, lets think about what mattered this year. What memories stick out the most in your head? What things really impacted you as beautiful or meaningful moments in your life?
Here are my top five memories from 2014:
1. Last New Years Eve/Day….that’s not cheating right? It was under the Eiffel Tower with little fireworks exploding around me and my friends while we drank champagne and shouted Bonne Année (Happy New Year) at the swarms of happy (and often drunk) people passing by. It was an amazing book end for an amazing year.
2. My Last night in Rome, my last moment’s looks at St. Peter’s Basilica to be exact. A place so crazy, famous, and beautiful had been home for me since the first moment I saw it. Yes, it was painful to leave but it was because I loved where I was so much. Whenever I am horribly romesick I can’t help but also be incredibly grateful as well-the entire four months there was magic and made me who I am. Its cheesy and 100% true.
3. Singing at a park at midnight with some amazing friends. It was 11:30pm on muggy summer night when the stars were shining that me and some of my friends decided to go to the park. It’s against social norms to go there at age 22 unless you take a small child as an excuse but if you go when no one else is awake no one cares. We climbed things, we ran around, and we sang whatever songs came to our heads (from Phantom of the Opera to Frozen). In other words, we were little kids again and it was awesome.
4. Reading An Ideal Husband at the Wilde Roast. Oscar Wilde did not fail to amuse me and reading the play aloud with the best cast of friends was perfect. And once the restaurant closed (notice that it was Oscar Wilde themed? it was just too perfect!) we went outside into the cool summer night and sat perched high up on a stone ledge sandwiched between a gothic style church and a glittering city skyscraper reading quality literature and laughing at the jokes made by a great author. It was fantastic!
5. Making gingerbread with my family. This one is really quite simple but really important. It happened just a little bit ago. Fresh baked gingerbread + homemade caramels + family + laughter till you’re sore from it. . And that is pretty much all you need to make something really really beautiful.
Some things I learned from it all is that starlight makes things magical, beauty can give you strength, and dreams can be fulfilled – you just have to work your heart out to give your heart what you want.
And with that in mind, here are my five resolutions:
1. Learn three languages. Perhaps not fluently but substantially would be nice. I already know a decent amount of German, Spanish, and Italian so really this is just a resolution to keep studying them and trying to be a little more serious about it so that the next time I travel I will be a little more proficient.
2. Lose 15 lbs of college weight. I’m pretty happy where I am but this one is a classic so why not add it to the list of resolutions?
3. Do a handstand. I love to hip hop dance and I can’t do a handstand which is a bit of a travesty. So I am going to fix that. I have already started working towards this and its tough but I’m pretty confident it will happen before the end of the year.
4. Pray 1/2 hour a day. I want to better every part of me–mind, body, and soul.
5. Get an article published. I have been really working on editing and writing more articles. It’s a lot of work and reading through articles for hours has made me realize that if I want to get published I have to step up my game. So that is what I am going to do.
So those are my resolutions. What are yours? Look at last year to see what you would want to do better, or what you couldn’t imagine missing from your life.
My year has been a combination of 65 hours+ work weeks that pushed me to my limit and a plethora of childhood/big dreams becoming a realities that are now treasured memories. 2015…. bring it on! 🙂
Everyone has a story to tell right?
And a lot of people want to tell that story. So when it comes to trying to actually make a living at writing, or at least making it a consistent hobby, the question arises: What makes me worth listening to?
I have thought a lot about it lately. Out of all the people in this world, what about my voice is remotely unique? And perhaps this can be food for thought: what is something only you can say? Here are three things that I have learned about my voice…
1. My voice is not afraid to speak of sunshine. Today we have a very monotone market: if you can make it depressing enough to make someone want to take a hit, make it shocking enough to make people squirm, or hilariously vulgar enough to make people gasp then your voice gets sold. People will nod their heads at the depth of your words–there is a subtleness in your sadness. They will analyze and admire your boldness–you are not afraid to say what everyone is thinking (but that everyone has said before). It is easy to sell melodramatic soul searching tragedy or quick and disgusting humor.
Sunshine isn’t like that. Sunshine doesn’t let you nod at your suffering, wallow in and analyze it like a disease, and it doesn’t let you escape to a different world to take a laugh. Looking at the happier things in life, can be surprisingly unpleasant. It makes you remember what you really want and so it challenges you if you have not worked hard enough. If you have not worked hard enough to appreciate the beauty in your own life or haven’t really listened to the desires of your heart lately, listening to stories or essays that are more full of sunshine can be a slap in the face. I am not saying that no one else writes about happy things. I am just saying that there is a huge market for depressing right now in the literary world and my voice is unique because its not going to follow the trent.
And I don’t just want to give happy endings. But there is beauty in the world that is sometimes really convenient to ignore because then we do not need to challenge ourselves to do any better. When we remember better we need to reach for it, we want to reach for it and that requires a lot of work.
On a totally different note…
2. My voice is that of an intelligent ditz. Does that sentence work? Nope. Do I care? Nope. I like to think of myself as moderately educated. I am certainly not the smartest person I know by any stretch of the imagination but I am not an idiot. I can write but am hopefully somewhat relatable.
I like my style better when it comes to fiction. I actually really enjoy reading my fiction stories and will some day will become brave enough to share them with the world. My non fiction style is still getting stronger to (I hope:)
3. Extreme Empathy. I haven’t had the most exciting life. I certainly haven’t had the most boring life either–I could tell you tales about running along castle walls 50 feet in the air in Italy, driving the wrong way down a one way in Paris, or perfume filled prank wars. But all these little stories are cute anecdotes, I want to talk about more than these. I have heard so many stories that rip my heart apart both because of the suffering and because of the joy.
I want to tell a bigger story. They say to write about what you know. However, I have realized more and more that I know more than just my own life. Honestly, my sensitivity can be a problem if I’m not careful. Someone can tell me a story about their life and I will be left in tears. Sometimes when people tell me about something they succeeded in, I get more excited then them. My point is not that writers have to emotional roller coasters (although they often are, I believe), my point is that since I have all these feels I can use them. If I can use words that capture a little of the intense sufferings, joys, and experiences of others then my voice is worth hearing.
These three reasons may seem generic but they are certainly a start to a unique voice on the page. A voice that is not afraid of the darkness in each human heart or the intense suffering we wish wasn’t real but is also not afraid to look at the beauty beyond the suffering and challenge us to raise our eyes up and remember to laugh with the joy in our hearts.
So, this is me at the beginning of the winter.
A few things you should know about me if you don’t already:
–>I have renaulds phenomena (sp?) which means that I have smaller capillaries which means that my hands have turned blue in a slightly over air-conditioned room.
–>I am darker skinned (if you couldn’t already tell from my pictures) and need sunlight in order to be happy.
–>That I am that kind of wonderfully talented person who can trip over flat surfaces so snow takes life to a whole new level of coordinated acts. All in all, I am not like Elsa. I love the snow because it is pretty but I hate the cold (almost more than anything else in the world). The cold always bothered me…
How do you feel about the snow? How did you feel about it as a kid? When I was a kid I made a promise to myself that I would never be like those whiny adults who always started to groan when it got a little snowy. I was going to love life even if it was an icy white life! Then I started driving. Basically sums that part of my life up. Driving in snow happens to suck. And for about a year, I hated snow and winter and all things cold with pretty much every fiber of my being.
Then the winter after I decided I was going to try to love the snow. I did. I thought it was pretty. Snow is sparkly and I like sparkly. But I still didn’t like the cold. Or rather, I can’t handle the cold very well. (Why am I living in Minnesota? It’s a very long story…)
So what is my point? Is this a “let me vent about the cold” post or a very enthusiastic “I love my life and its the best day every” post? Well, yes. I have decided to change my outlook: I don’t have to like the cold. It hurts. And it makes me sick. But I can still enjoy life because they say that you can choose how your day goes, how your life goes. I am going to look at the positive side of the winter. Yay, come at me winter! I am going to not whine because whining is annoying. I am going to love the winter and look for the good things about snow. Honestly… I am curious how long I can last. I want to like the winter; I made a promise to myself that I would like it, but despite my best efforts I am going to have to admit to myself once in a while that it sucks and that I have to simply endure whatever tortures that arctic frozen crystals slamming in my face can create. But here’s to trying, right? Here is to trying:)
Happy first day of snow!