新年快樂 (Xīnnián kuàilè): Happy New Year!

Namaste yoga  hands at the temple…reflecting on 2013
photo taken on New Year’s Day 2014

December 28th 2013
I’m a planner so with only 3 days til the New Year I’m already making my list of goals and things I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. 2014’s motto: looking at life from a different perspective. Seeing things from a different angle, a different lights, from others’ eyes, and my own. Upside down, in a new language, a new country, and with new goals in mind. Healthier and happier. So here’s a snapshot of some of the “resolutions,”/ goals for 2014.

1. 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge. I plan on blogging my recipes. Stay tuned.

2. Muffintop-less Fit Body 12 Week program…in addition to yoga 7 days a week and continuing my running progress.

3. Learn Basic Mandarin Conversation and Grammar.

4. Apply to grad school or devise a further education plan.

5. Improve my self-discipline and stop procrastinating!

6. Explore Taiwan more. (Go to new cafes or restaurants and new towns each month)

…Just to name a few!

December 30th
Tried a new restauant and cafe with my friend Yvonne. We did some magic guessing at the random corner shop as the menu was all in Chinese…our food was so good on this chilly Sunday! (She can recognize a few characters as simplified Chinese is somewhat similar to traditional. Her parents are from Hong Kong.) Walked around the neighborhood, got dessert and pizza later as neither of us had eaten all day.

December 31st
Cheers to the last day of 2013! The sun’s out…beautiful run and morning. Met with my Mandarin tutor and she is so much fun already; I can’t wait for classes to begin next week.

She was so excited I wore bright pink
so she could recognize me! 🙂

Smoothie #1:
STRAWBERRY, BANANA, BLUEBERRY
1 c. spinach
2/3 c. water
1 orange
1/2 c strawberries
1/2 c blueberries
1 banana

Smoothie #2:

Almond Joy
Serves 2
2 cups fresh kale
2 cups almond milk
1 banana
2 pears, ripe
2 tablespoons coconut flakes
2 tablespoons cacao powder

My New Year’s Eve night included going to yoga class, cleaning my apartment, and listening to music. Reflecting back on the past 7 New Year’s Eves I realize how much I have chilled out since college. When I was 20, I was on my way to Africa for study abroad and had a drink at 6 a.m. in the London airport (because I was legal)- that year I crossed over 3 time zones of New Years…I have spent 2 of the past New Year’s Eves in Asia. 2 in Arizona. and 2 in Nebraska. Craziness. 
Happy New Year’s 2014 from Taiwan! 🙂

JANUARY 1st 2014!!!!

sunrise New Year’s Day

I’ve made big strides since gaining 13 lbs in Chile.

I’ll take it! 😉
Sunshine on my run!

1. Woke up and went to the breakfast shop around the corner for a sandwich. Made coffee.
2. Talked with Allison and Lori. (4 WEEKS and counting til she comes to Taiwan!)
3. Yoga class. Morning sunshine through the windows. Lovely.
4. Learned a new word: 新年快樂 (Xīnnián kuàilè)… Happy New Year!!!
5. New Music to start the year:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwsYvBYZcx4,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g9poWKKpbU&list=RDxwsYvBYZcx4,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIX-rI-9quM&list=RDxwsYvBYZcx4
6. Attempted to teach my family how to say Happy New Year in Chinese. Love their humor.
7. Went for a 45 minute run in a tank top and shorts; this first day of 2014 is beautiful…sunny, clear blue skies, and 75 degrees!!!
8. Tea time with co-teachers
9. Body Combat and Dancing Yoga with gym friends tonight.
10. Green Smoothie #3:

Quick Pick Me Up 
Serves 2
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups water
½ cup grapefruit
2 oranges, peeled
1 cup pineapple
½ avocado



I think I’m off to a fabulous (healthy) start to 2014!!! 

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

We love tea time!

Cheers!

Metanoia (n.) The journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life

Recap of the past couples of weeks…it rained. all last week. (and still continues to rain today!) However, thanks to recent pep talks and self-discipline/motivational videos I set my alarm clock and routinely woke up at the same time. And even when I got less sleep I felt better. (except this week when I was up late talking to my family for Christmas! 🙂 ) I worked out and had great yoga classes including headstands, handstands, and Chinese dancing. Because of all the rain we have been having it has grown colder and my shower water has dipped in temperature as well. My ceiling also started to drip. I contacted my landlord and him and his wife came over to fix the problems. They are such a sweet couple! And they were so impressed that I keep my shoes in the hallway like a typical Taiwanese person and that I kept the place super clean. Good thing I hung up my clothes and did the dishes earlier that day right? I received the loveliest packages…one of coffee beans from an English cafe and another of a mug with the cutest sweater cover, dove chocolates, and scentcies! Week=made. Best coffee ever. So smooth. On Friday the 20th , my crazy class of 7 year olds and I had this conversation: “Teachhherrr outside it’s– in Chinese 毛毛雨–how do you say in English?” Other students translates: “little rain.” (drizzle) I attempt to pronounce…”Teachhherrr you speak Chinese?” (Oh kids, if you only knew how hard I tried and how little I speak…) But I can pronounce this word! 🙂
Went to a Christmas market in Hsinchu with a good friend (She’s from CA) and found…pumpkin pie! Along with freshly roasted coffee beans for hot coffee (local) and a Chocolatier. The Chocolatier resides in Taipei…and they have their own factory. They also make chocolate covered coffee beans. The beans are from their friends’ coffee bean plantation in the southeast part of Taiwan. Delicious. (And I really hope I can make it to his friend’s place to visit their cafe! 8 hours. For a cafe. Yes.) After the Christmas market (there were only a few booths so it didn’t take very long to tour), we decided to get on a train and go to the Neiwan market. We both had been there (only at separate times), but it’s one of our favorite markets. And it’s one of my favorite places in Taiwan. It’s in the mountains…so cozy with the mist and scattered rain drops against the market lantern lighting. Market food is just the best in Taiwan. Now it’s Christmas Eve. Had a party for the kids at school for a couple hours. Then yoga. When I walked into my second hour of yoga today my friend greeted me with a cheery “Merry Christmas,” totally made my night. Waited up to skype the family at 1:30 a.m.

misty mountain

market!

pumpkin pie and coffee, yes please!

***Holidays are always the toughest to be away from family and dear friends, but I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas day… laughing with the fam via skype, hugs and Merry Christmas wishes from sweet friends in yoga class, coffee at my favorite cafe, kiddos’ craziness, and cake from my co-teachers…plus Taiwan delivers mail on Christmas day so I got to open presents with the family on their Christmas morning!*** So incredibly blessed and no tears this year…

I love this post. http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.tw/2013/12/normal.html
“Do you hear His whisper this morning? “You will find me where you least expect me.”
This, the very most unexpected place, this is where we find Him. Even more, this is where He finds us.”


As I walked back from yoga class and also on my way to school…through the clouds and the mist and the homesickness, I realize that He is all around me. He has shown me himself throughout this entire time…in my kids’ smiles, sweet gestures, tough workouts, and all the family’s laughter back home…and has proven that He is what matters today. His love was sent to us. His Son. Today we are celebrating His birth, not the presents, not the cookies, and not the traditions. But Him. And on this Christmas Day, so far away from loved ones, I have never felt closer to Him. He is making it clearer everyday on why He wants me in Taiwan and it’s unexpected and it’s good.
dancers pose!

my sweet friend

my dancing yoga family

Sisters…near or far…I hold them in my heart.
my lovely co-teachers who can brighten any tearful day!
Thoughts as 2013 fades and another New Year begins…
I feel like I’m on a Metanoia…and that’s a incredible thing. Opening up my heart and mind to what I really want because- let’s face it- ten years ago at 17 I thought I would be married by 25 (ya know give or take a couple years) and living in some city working at a coffee shop or planning events and coming home to my husband in a downtown city condo or something other than exactly what I’m doing now. Now. I didn’t know that life could be like this. I’m doing something with my life that I’ve always dreamed of doing… traveling…living abroad… but I never thought I would be teaching. Crazy how that works, huh? Honestly, I really had this image of me not really doing a whole lot, because back then I didn’t know how to get to where I’m at now; in reality I knew I was capable of doing a whole lot more….and that’s the beauty of life happening, is that when you really want something and dream about it and think about it and deep down know it’s your passion…you’ll find a way to get there. Brilliant.
And this article explains my thoughts. I didn’t like myself, I didn’t like who I was becoming and I knew I needed to change it. So I moved to Korea. And then Chile. After that here to Taiwan. And guess what? I’m probably going to go to another country after this. Slowly I’m seeing a vision. And I’m so excited. To have direction. focus. confidence. inspiration. motivation. I know what I’m envisioning will still take time; I’m learning to be a patient person. Something I struggle with…patience. and goodness knows I need it. lots of it.
http://deeperstory.com/from-loathing-to-love/?fb_action_ids=10101170003146283&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%2210101170003146283%22%3A188261064709849%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210101170003146283%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

Meanderings in my neighborhood:

a couple hours of sun and then it poured

Add caption

fluffy jackets…70 degrees…

I’m on the sidewalk…

pointed to this for my breakfast

busy busy

Saturday the 28th…Found a gold mine of a running path…no stoplights, no cars whizzing by…just me, some fields, some banana trees, and a horizon of high-rise apartment and office buildings…it only took 4 months to find! So thankful…Ran for an hour and the path was still going…the river leads to the ocean I think…one day maybe I’ll run there…!

"Somebody’s Angel…"~ Mandisa


Palm Tree(s). Christmas Lights. Pretty. Sparkles. 

Recent thoughts and ramblings…
(from the past couple of weeks)

“Somebody’s Angel” ~Mandisa. Tears. Every time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IguLJPlb7AU&list=UUj1_-aa8XE6-zhzsRNJZNfw

I have a tendency to smile through every tear drop that falls. Even though my heart is breaking on the inside, I have this habit of not showing what emotions I’m actually feeling. I always make up some excuse why the tears are falling and I will never let the true reason be known. There’s a million reasons why all of sudden I have tears streaming down my face. And most of the time it’s when I’m having a good day and then I hear one song or think of a memory and bam…tears! Maybe it’s the change in weather…or the Christmas season that evokes the sudden emotion.

Some Christmastime favorites!!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKuqMDdpTec
I love Lady Antebellum…wonderful music.
Cannot get enough of this either!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSUFzC6_fp8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ_MGWio-vc

grandma emailed some of last year’s photos…

And then I read this article and realized I have so much to say. Some days I have more to say and contemplate than others. Today is one of those days. Mostly after having conversations with a friend and my cousin. http://deeperstory.com/dating-at-christmas/
Seriously though. I am not lonely, just alone. Being alone does not in any way equate to being lonely. Even people who have a significant other must feel lonely at times, yes? Certain times, Christmastime included, it’s like flashing lights to the fact that I am alone. The author stated this thought most accurately in the following statement: “I’m used to navigating life by myself. Most days I scarcely notice I’m alone because this is simply life and a glorious one at that. But there are moments when my aloneness screams at me: church, Christmas, weddings, funerals, family gatherings.” And it’s true. I am used to navigating life by myself…having someone else to navigate life with I must admit, would take some getting used at this point in my life as I have done so much on my own, but by no means am I ruling out being alone forever … “Not because singleness is awful- I’ll fight anyone who says that- but because I want to share my life with someone. I want to hold my husband’s hand as we sit around the tree at my parent’s house. I want to experience the magic of the season in a whole new way.” And not just Christmas, but traveling, having coffee, watching the sunset, waking up in the morning, working out, watching random t.v. shows, laughing, and daily conversations…I want to experience those and so many many more things in a whole new way.

beautiful sunrise….

Do you ever do something mentally challenging like hanging out with someone who is somewhat weird or that everyone claims is weird under their breaths and warns others around them too? At first it was hard to agree…but, during those crucial 30 seconds when the moment of opportunity presents itself, before the moment passes and no matter what you do to cover up your reaction or response, nothing will resolve the hurt or disappointment…I agreed to go. And you know what? It wasn’t so bad…in fact, it was actually really fun. I mean we went to Costco…food shopping. Hello. Red wine. Natural Peanut Butter. Oranges. Chocolate Chip Muffins. And we chatted the whole time. It was great. Reflecting back, I wish these decisions would come as second nature? Why do I have to even mull over the idea of hanging out with someone whom I normally wouldn’t? It’s hard to push pass social obligations, what other people think…but this I have learned before…everyone deserves kindness, niceness, and respect. Why not take it a step further and spend time with them? It doesn’t have to be a whole day. For me, it was just a couple hours shopping at Costco…and both our days were made. I mean let’s face it…I am…We all are…a little weird.

red wine.

What a relaxing Sunday of catching up with a dear friend, pilates, and a Starbucks Christmas latte outside on the patio (How to write my Starbucks location in Chinese:星巴克竹北光明店), writing postcards and reading…not so much of idea thinking today, but it was a lovely afternoon, a bit rainy, but warm. Just after 5:00, I met a new friend. She is from Germany and so nice. She is here for a week visiting her father as he lives and works here in Taiwan. It was so nice to have someone to talk to for a bit and we are meeting for coffee later this week. Maybe I should hang out here more often and meet all the travelers coming through town… 🙂

my new friend who loves Starbucks just as much as me!

I met Miriam for coffee today and Thursday. It was such a lovely chat! It got colder today…the sky is gray and the wind is bitter. We are going to have coffee again on Thursday before she goes back home. How nice! I met a lady in the elevator from New Jersey. She leaves today to go home for Christmas. I’ve never had such a happy elevator conversation! It was the second time today that I was wished “Merry Christmas!” The first was at the post office by my friend, Ginger.

My Friday the 13th went like this…Wandered into a cafe I hadn’t been into since my first week. It was tastefully decorated for Christmas. Exquisite ornaments hung from the lights and garland was twisted around the patio railings, intertwined with colored bulbs. Blue Mountain coffee on this brisk morning wrapped with a Christmasy coffee holder.

Blue Mountain Coffee

Ugh. I knew I couldn’t escape winter germs again. Last week I had a terrible cold- achiness, sore throat, headache, cough…you know the annoying stuff when you’re a teacher and in charge of 7 year olds. Lost my voice this week, but feel better. Isn’t that always the case? Luckily the kids seem to be better behaved when I’m sick…figures, right? So I’m having my conversation hour with the sociology professor/mother and she asks if I’m ok and I say I’ve been rather sick lately, but know I just need sleep this weekend. This is what she does…after class she goes to the stores and she says to meet me in the lobby of my apartment building (she lives in the same complex) and bring me organic chicken/bones and organic vegetables and a recipe for a “get-well” soup. Heart melt and tears and hugs. 🙂

So I made the soup. You know… boiled the water. Dumped the frozen bones in. Let it simmer. Put the vegetables in..yadda yadda. Then I went to dish it out into a bowl and the first “bone” I pulled out was a whole chicken claw…The soup was delicious.

my fabulous kitchen…sometimes I run out of
gas while I’m cooking and I have to go to the
family mart and buy some…

my “feel-better/get well” soup

see…I wasn’t kidding about the claw…

"…Explore. Dream. Discover."- Mark Twain

Thursday November 21st

After 3 solid months of motivating and encouraging my Level 13 “zombie-never say a word or study” class, they have earned their prize for actively participating in English (less Chinese!) and getting higher scores on reading, vocabulary, and verb tests! They have also asked about Level 14.

bubble tea treats!

 On Saturday…I stood in the longest line at 7:50 A.M

sunny Saturday!

looonnng line! 

For this…

yeah….

I have no idea what it is…it was…uhhh…interesting…

Sunday November 24th

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0PUjvdMbfw&list=RD7z-TcxEx8eA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyhhSwzGGE4&list=RD7z-TcxEx8eA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=io6K8TxzLyY
These are my recent jams.

Lately I have been chatting with my dear friend who I met about 7 years ago studying abroad, then I saw an African song post on another friend’s wall, and the word Milele in another friend’s status…some nights I dream of Africa. It was my first time out of the country. Ever. I hadn’t even been to Mexico. And then I was dropped off in Nairobi, capitol city of Kenya. Those four months were amazing…challenging…eye-opening. From seeing the beauty of the vast Masai Mara, the crystal clear waters on Zanzibar, trying new food, living on a University campus, interning at in the housekeeping department, being surrounded by different languages, making friends with people in a new land, and getting robbed by a street kid. And sometimes I dream of going back being the person I am now. I know I was a completely different person in 2007 when I stepped onto that red dirt for the first time. Africa is a vast continent… and Morocco is on my bucket list, but going back to visit friends would be amazing as well. Someday though, I will go back. I really can’t believe it will have been 7 years in January.

I don’t know if I’ve ever said, but 14 is my favorite number. I don’t really believe in luck, so I wouldn’t call it my lucky number, just my favorite. Some people like the number 7, I like 7×2. So I’m really excited to see what 2014 brings…Want to know why 14 is my favorite? When I was in second/third grade I was super into the Thoroughbred Series…horse books. And the girl who nursed this filly back to health and ended up riding her in one of the triple crown races was 14. I know, really cool huh? But she was a fighter, a girl who believed in the impossible, a spirited girl, and I thought to myself, she’s only 14, only a couple years older than me (at the time of reading…) I can do something big too. I’m looking forward to 2014…can’t believe 2013 is winding down…

 

I made a green smoothie tonight after my kick butt spin class…
http://detoxinista.com/2013/10/pumpkin-spice-green-smoothie/

On Tuesday…in my apartment complex lobby…a lady was selling rice cakes…so I bought some.

one is sort of a chocolate/ peanut butter.. I think?
and the other is strawberry

Wednesday November 27th

Could the Taiwan Postal Service be any better?
Me- “hello!”
Post Office People- “Ahh it’s so good to see you again! We like seeing you, we can practice our English. You should come here more often. That’ll be 129NT”
Me- “aww of course! It’s good to see you too! How long do they take to get there?”
P.O.P- “7-9 days”
(say what?!? and 6NT= $.20)

Tonight in Chinese Dancing Yoga…this song played… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNzCDt2eidg… it was so serene going through the moves and listening to this. And I have more friends in this class, yay! In March, I am signed up with them to run a 7K. I know it’s not as far as I have ran in the past, but hey it’s a start in getting back up to speed. Plus the people I’m running with are really nice!

Thursday…in my USA class…when the kids were supposed to be making food items, a student yells…”TEACHERRR LOOK…” and shows me his crafty detailed angry bird…”soo cute!” as my co-teacher Nikki would say! 🙂

Friday November 29th
Happy Birthday to my dear friend Sara…wish we could be celebrating together! 🙂

Last night was Thanksgiving. My co-teacher invited me to have hot pot for dinner. It was so delicious…the perfect combination of cozy and warmth against chilly winds outside! (Ok so chilly is like 50 degrees, I’m becoming such a pansy, but really the winds are strong!) I was able to skype the family and show them the my friend, the restaurant, and the food. I was laughing and there were no tears… I am thankful for so many many things…including having a friend to share Thanksgiving dinner!

  

Today was a really good teaching day…my USA class was well-behaved, and I’ve finally started cracking down on the mischievous kiddos in my Level 2 class, in hopes for a calmer more relaxed environment…with a revised seating chart and a few stricter rules, the class is shaping up and the kids seem to be more engaged and participatory as well. Phew! In my middle school conversation class, we played Scrabble and during my conversation hour with the Sociology professor, I helped her edit an email and she also asked if I would help her edit her thesis and research papers! SO EXCITED!

I came across this quote tonight…by Mark Twain.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did..so, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. 
Explore. Dream. Discover.

"For all the beauty that you have at your finger tips, take the time to taste it and see it and to be mystified by it. Notice where it leads you…"

BOOTS
-my birthday outfit from the night market!

November 15th

http://deeperstory.com/learning-from-beauty/?fb_action_ids=10152231052128265&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%2210152231052128265%22%3A592784047437252%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210152231052128265%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

my photo of best friends…taken on Boracay Oct. 2012

It’s a beautiful life.  All this earth. Could all that is lost ever be found. Could a garden come up from this ground? You make Beautiful Things. You make Beautiful Things Out of the Dust. You Make me New… (Gungor) Recent pictures of the Philippine Typhoon disaster remind me that amidst what the beautiful norm is, there is also pain, hurt, devastation, poverty…but we have a choice to see these things as beautiful. They help restore our focus that life on Earth is temporary, how precious life is, how beautiful breaths are…and even though what happened is awful, is terrible, it brings people together, it allows a window of opportunity to bless others, to love others, to remind us to care for each other, to put aside anger, selfishness, social status…and give. I don’t think God sends disasters like these for the evil in the world…they happen because of the evil…He doesn’t promise a life on earth free of pain, but He does promise a life of Love And Life through Him. He has a way of turning an earthly perceived disaster into something we can learn to see as beautiful. And we pray we can work for this beauty. To see the people in need and the situation as Jesus would. We pray for the children left without parents. We pray for the millions without homes, food, and clean water. We pray for the safety of the volunteers. And We pray for everyone who has lost a loved one, may they be comforted in this storm.

A rainbow of hope. God’s promise a storm is never too big for His control. 
one of the hundreds of images of the typhoon aftermath http://www.globalpost.com
our perception of beautiful…
taken on Boracay October 2012

Where does beauty take you? Does it take you to the highest mountain, the most exotic beach, the back alleys of poverty stricken nations, or the neighborhood park or a backyard garden? You don’t need to travel at all to see the beauty life has to offer. It’s in the smiles of your best friends, laughter, the silent good of strangers, the fresh smell of rain, wildflowers, autumn leaves, every sunrise or sunset, even the clouds have a way of being beautiful…it’s in the beggar’s face on the street and the light in their eyes when a single coin is dropped and someone actually looks them in the eye and smiles…and I could go on…
Sunday November 17th

Wow!!! So much Birthday love from across multiple countries and time zones…Thank you all for your sweet words, phone calls, messages, cards, and packages…just so overwhelmed with gratitude! I had a great day…went to brunch with Zoe and Nikki, relaxed, worked out, and later went to the city with Zoe and had a delicious vegetarian meal at a local street side restaurant, then went night market shopping- bought cute gray boots and a gray striped dress for less than $35! fabulous. (The night was chilly…but I like the break from the heat…it’s been rainy and cloudy here all week, but the sun is finally out today.)  Can’t believe I’m 27, but each year keeps getting better! 🙂 Cheers!
Sundays are my quiet days…lazy morning…and usually chores in the afternoons…and Church. Online sermons and my worship radio station…surrounded by cool winds through the window and flickering candles and the smell of a freshly cleaned apartment…
You are good, you are good, and your love endures. Voices in unison…charmed by the instruments…and then your Glory came…You are good, you are good and your love endures…today. Everyday. Goosebumps. Not just on Mondays or Thursday or every other Saturday night…but Everyday. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hExtQFcUjpQ
Today’s church…comes from The Journey STL.  About Worldliness. About How He Is a Jealous God and How He Loves. And He wants ALL of Us. About owning our own failures. Admitting our mistakes. Giving to people rather than placing expectations of how we want them to act or behave a certain way. I have much to think about…pray about…and put into practice.
Birthday workout top from my lovely parents!

thanks Google!!!

Chopsticks!!!

天然素食- I had something pronounced…
soo-loo-phan.. I think!!?

"It Goes Like This…"

Tuesday November 5th, 2013

“It Goes Like This…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4keD5Qvya4

This morning I could have really used a hug. Sitting at the bus stop in the misty air waiting to board…Went to Hsinchu City this morning to make a hair appointment. The hairdresser- who speaks English as he studied and went to hair school in Canada- took my name and time. After, I headed to a cafe down an alleyway. No joke, the name of this place was: Marijuana Coffee Bar. (Like really?!) Sometimes I really do wonder about the definition and use of English words in appropriate contexts. The girl at the front spoke fluent Chinese to me; I don’t mean to, but I tend to give the most confused blank look, because as much as I try to decipher, I really have no clue as to what she is saying…and I really do try to fake it sometimes. Apparently I look Taiwanese. And this is the second time this has happened in a week! Two guys at the gym gave me thumbs up and started speaking to me like I knew what they were saying and I smile and nod and then they ask a question and I blank stare it again. And one of them pipes up….”ohhh…you no Taiwan? no Chinese? Me think you Taiwanese.” Umm…Thank you? My blending in skills are working, but in no way does this do me any good when questions are asked and the other person is waiting for a response. Fail. But hey at 6 a.m. when I’m lifting weights, I’ll take the thumbs up. Back to the Cafe…it was really quaint inside and had a nice patio to sit and loft away the garbage smell by inhaling the person next to me’s cigarette. (Which triggers this thought…there is a song called Coffee and Cigarettes by Augustana, now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a smoker, but there’s something about jazzy sounds blended with the rich aroma of my coffee and swirled with the faint smell of tobacco smoke that’s well…cozy…comforting…I just can’t put my finger on it.) The coffee was delightful though and it’s always nice to listen to the rain. The girl was super sweet and ended up speaking English quite well. The cafe opens about 8 for breakfast and she hopes to see me soon! Aww. Went into school for a one on one lesson for a girl in level 7 then spent some extra time prepping for my USA class…the unit is on Food and there are so many activities I can do!

When I looked at my desk there was a note written in Chinese…and the English translation next to it…

One of my new favorite songs!!! Lady Antebellum- “Compass” What a fun song and I love the lyrics…
“No Matter What You’ll Never Be Alone.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30PDGF1_jNo

FYI: I am officially a resident of Taiwan! I got my ARC this week.

Wednesday November 6th

Starbucks has red cups here. AND Christmas decorations. So even under the 80 degrees heavy humid rainy air this makes me incredibly happy! (Though my favorite holiday moment is walking under city lights with a light snow falling and a cup of coffee….) My little place of Christmas cheer. Thank you Taiwan Starbucks! #sharejoy.

Went to Chinese Dancing Yoga again tonight…I love the music mix…and the flowy moves…ya know like dancing.
headstand with my instructor…
so nerve-racking, I couldn’t concentrate very well!

Thursday November 7th

I started the day off catching up with a couple friends, then headed to the track for a workout. The track.was.empty. You know how freeing it is to run on an open track with no one in your way or heavy breathing or pounding of feet behind you? Just great.

Bright and Sunshiny Day!

After my workout, I came back to my apartment to find a Mad Lib birthday card (a game on a birthday card? genius!!!) and goodies from my dear friend Lori…a Husker shirt, caramel dove chocolate and peanut butter dove chocolate and the coolest water bottle ever!!! She’s so sweet! 🙂

Went to school, planned, then went to the local grocery store a couple blocks away to pick up chips for my upper level students because I had made my own “reward system” for them that motivates them better than the stamp goodies case. I got the chips…and discovered blueberries and strawberries. Ok. You must first understand that I have to go to the next town over (about a half hour local expressway train then take another local bus to the supermarket that sells berries.) for specialty items. I was SO excited! I think I may have squealed. YAY!!!

The day went well…on a reoccurring basis the kids tend to jump off chairs and tell me “Teacher, I can fly like an angry bird, look!” (Student collapses to the ground.) The kids also figured out that if they jump high enough they can touch my head…they proceed to tell me…”Teacher, you is is very short…my mom she is eh eh eh very taller than you…” I need to remember to not say to one class “my kids in the xyz class are learning about xyz…” because then I get “Teacher, you have kids? how many? are you married?” Oh snap. “No, I don’t have kids and I’m not married…” “But, why Teacher?” “Because I’m here teaching you…”Oh Teacher…Whhhhyyyy… don’t you say my kids???” Uhh…

Saturday November 9th

Friday at work, my co-teacher Zoe, and I decided to randomly to go to Taipei for a Night Market food dinner tonight. My favorite. We went to Shida Night Market, located just right out of the Taipower Building Subway stop. I love market shopping…the shopkeepers, the signs, the lights, the smells, the tastes…even though I walk outta there with a pounding headache of sensory overload from language, noise, and dodging people left and right I love being there and taking it all in for a little while. Freshly BBQ’d meat and veggies, fresh juices, handmade purses, jewelry, unique shops filled with odd things, and…American merchandise from Bath and Body Works and Victoria’s Secret…gotta appreciate the randomness. The guy that owned that shop has a friend in the states who ships the goods to him.

picking out my own cookies!

rockin’ that Husker red!
brilliant…a sign letting you know which stalls are free…

yay!

yay again!

Sunday November 10th

sunrise today…



Woke up this morning kinda early…but decided to just take it easy; catch up on The Journey’s sermons, and drink my coffee with my cookies from the market last night. It was a relaxing morning and I’m glad I didn’t rush out the door today. Mom sent fall photos from our backyard…I really miss Nebraska during the fall….here are some photos…just beautiful.

When listening to the sermons, then reading my devotion, and also contemplating recent conversations with my sisters and friends, I begin to challenge myself with these thoughts. How can reach a higher level of teaching instruction? I feel that I am taking the easy route out sometimes. Yes, living in another country is challenging in itself. But the actual job? Maybe I’m not being challenged. Yes, I am working on classroom management…I must answer the questions, How can I be a better teacher? How can I keep the motivation and energy high for the students to keep the learning environment positive? Am I finding the job easy and rewarding because I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and spiritually I know I’m on the right path so I feel a sort of peace and confidence when I’m in the classroom? Is leaving the international teaching room my next step to venture into the United States curriculum? My own country is a different world. Especially in the classroom. So many rules and regulations have been implemented since I was a student. Am I ready for this reality check? Am I ready for this challenge? Is this the right decision to make or is my life’s work supposed to be living abroad and going from contract to contract, country to country? Do you ever feel like something is so great that something bad is going to happen or change, that maybe the matter won’t be so great anymore and your perception of a place or plan will be altered? My fear is that I will take the easy way out and will become lackadaisical in my teaching and goals. 
getting new packages of post its= organized once again!
who knew? already ripened avocados are cheaper.
I’ll take it!
Tuesday November 12th
two of my dearest friends are coming to visit me for Lunar New Year…words cannot describe how ecstatic and blessed I feel…this gesture of friendship means the world to me… to those friends who have kept in touch, sent notes and scheduled time to talk….I cannot express how grateful I am to you either. Love love love to all of you. I am one lucky girl to have such amazing people in my life!
Went back to Marijuana Coffee Bar for breakfast and coffee before my hair appointment. I got my hair cut and dyed today at K-Mod Hair in Hsinchu. I decided to go back to a dark color. I love it. Walked around the city for a bit…it was kind of a cloudy chilly…chilly for here… day. Came home and made Grain-Free Brownie Bites. Great Tuesday. Off to Hatha Yoga this evening… 
caramel macciato

breakfast bagel with chicken and mushroom

my  awesome hair stylist
new hair for my birthday splurge

                                                 

Chinese Dancing Yoga.

Traveling Friends…

Saturday October 26th, 2013
these scents Clorox. Lemon. Vanilla. smell like home.

Fall weather has come to the island. I am thoroughly enjoying the cooler air though the breezes are becoming stronger, I’m ok with the dropping temperatures and wearing hoodies and yoga pants. This morning my friend took me to a local, almost hidden, brunch cafe called: 洛印複合式早餐館餐廳. It was so cozy and cute inside! And the brunch was delicious. Hot black coffee, bacon, eggs, and a croissant with chicken, lettuce, and apples. Perfect for a fall morning after a good workout!

A clean apartment on a Saturday afternoon feels like an accomplishment. I think I wiped away a couple layers of dirt that had blown in throughout the week. Gross. Dirt off the windows…the floors…Combine Clorox bathroom cleaning solution, lemon pledge, and vanilla scented candles and add in freshly laundered sheets and towels and the place feels like my home once again.

Saturday evening I ended up meeting back up with my friend. We went into Hsinchu City and market shopped for cute cheap dresses and ate Taiwanese street food and rice dumpling soup for dinner.

raw food…soon to be BBQ’d right before us

Monday October 28th

Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Brittany!

yay for Birthday Skype and wine!


And these are my students in my first class for the week…don’t they put a smile to your face?


Tuesday October 29th

Do you ever google one thing and it leads to a dozen more things and then you realize an hour has passed and you still haven’t found the original answer to the topic you originally googled? yeah. That was me this morning. It started with trying to figure out a running route in my neighborhood and not being able to translate the Chinese words to English. Seriously…and I thought translating the Korean was hard! It’s like one big pictionary matching game…and I’m losing. badly. Got distracted and started googling yoga retreats in India, realized I had received my friend’s Turkish address so I wrote her a postcard, went back to googling- teaching in Ethiopia, coconut oil conditioning treatments for hair, Teach for America in South Dakota, and now I’ve decided to blog because my mind needs to focus. Focus. My mom told this really funny focus joke once…you should ask her about it. So yes. Back to focusing. P.S. You know you visit the post office a lot when the lady at the counter says, Hello! How are you today? Then closes with…See you soon! Love sending love from Taiwan.

Today is the Reading Competition at my school. I am super excited about this because for the past few weeks I have been prepping my students in reading fluency and pronunciation and intonation. And… a whole lesson on the exclamation point and how commas are there for a reason…to breathe. I am looking forward to being a judge…I’m so proud of how hard these kids have worked. So impressed. (Note: the competition went very well!)

Yesterday, my level 7 students (ages 9-10) handed in their weekly journals. They usually just copy the example given in their book. Last week I taught them where to input their own words and we went over examples and brainstormed words that I wrote on the board. I assigned the journal and crossed my fingers. When I read their journals they all have used their own information!!! Ahhh!!! I am one proud teacher.

Last week in my Level 2 class, we were going over “I have, You have, She has, He has…” We were supposed to use classroom items like pens, pencils, books etc. I was calling on students and this is what the first one says…I have an elephant. (WHAT??!) The second catches on and says… You have a monkey…and the third…He has a turtle…and She has a jaguar. The next thing I know half the class is on the floor acting like animals, and I’m just standing there like this is happening…and I’m just going to let them do this. Then my Chinese teacher comes in the room and is like what’s going on? and I’m like umm I’m not sure…but everything’s fine…I promise. 🙂

At a Deeper Story…http://deeperstory.com/15224/
“….Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakable remains.”

What is real? (my version)
You know that shimmer of sunlight through rain drenched clouds?
… That is real.
You know how the waves crash the unspoiled sand of the early morning?
… That is real.
You know the way the ocean’s crystal teal waters glitter?
… That is real.
You know crisp air taste that only fall brings or the freshness of spring?
… That is real.
You know how feeling of loneliness disappears when someone hugs you?
… That is real.
You know the tears that fall when you see someone you love whether they be friends or family after a long time? 
…That is real.
You know the ecstasy of an anticipated event happening?
… That is real.
You know the overflowing amount of joy when laughing uncontrollably with friends? 
…That is real.
You know the stillness and calmness overtaking a noisy, busy, stressful, or irritating situation when you pray?
… That is real.
You know the looks on people’s faces when you surprise them with kindness? 
…That is real.


Wednesday October 30th
I put on some Inspirational music this morning…refreshing and inspiring indeed.

Finally. An outside run this morning. Ahhh! I must admit my cardio has been slacking because I was dr..a..g..g..i.n…g. But I ran for 20 minutes straight. It’s been a tough half year with keeping up my mileage and motivation. After the marathon last January, I was able to run consistently, but from about April until now I must admit I have hardly ran. And now that I’ve been doing a workout program that involves a lot of toning and weight lifting, cardio activity will help my energy level.

After my run, I FaceTimed my grandma. Now I know technology is one of those “necessary” evils…but this is why. Without Facetime, without skype…it would be a year before even seeing the faces I love again. And that would be tough. I am so blessed to be able to talk to my grandma AND see her! It was a wonderful morning of coffee and chatter.

Instead of going to morning yoga, I went to Starbucks for a salted caramel mocha and no wifi…to think. It was such a sunny morning so I sat outside on their patio area. And did my devotions. It was exactly what I needed to read this morning. The readings came mostly from the book of Job…the topic? God’s silence to our prayers. His silence. Sometimes when we think we need an answer right away He is silent. Sometimes when we ask for a million things that we think we need, He is silent. Job 42:1-6 Begins with this: “I know you can do all things, no plan of yours can be thwarted…” So even in our doubts, our suffering, God is still there. We cannot understand God, but His ways are good…too wonderful for us to comprehend…Oswald Chambers goes on to say…It will be a wonderful moment when we stand before God and find that the prayers we clamored for in early days and imagined were never answered, have been answered in the most amazing way, and that God’s silence has been the sign of the answer. If we always want to be able to point to something and say, “This is the way God answered my prayer,” God cannot trust us yet with his silence. I am learning to be silent. To trust Him in His silence. Having faith that His silence will lead me down His path. Knowing He is always there despite by unbelief at times. I need to learn to quiet my mind, my heart, my soul…I am always on the go and I need to learn to listen to His silence. Even though my desire to know “the next step,” “the next direction,” I desire to follow Him more and if that means not knowing, and waiting in His silence this time, then that’s what I will do. And it’s challenging…it’s frustrating…when all I want is a clear answer, Silence drives my planning mind crazy. I have to know what’s going on. And This.Time.I.Don’t. And yet, as the days go on, I feel more at peace not knowing. I feel a calmness settling in, even though I have made options for myself, I begin to give those to Him. Giving up my hold on what I want and giving these desires to Him. Even when He is Silent. Some days are a harder struggle than others, but I continue to pray for strength and a deeper Faith.

sunrise during my morning run

Sunny Day!
And these are my Wednesday-Friday USA kids!

~~~

Every class, a million times a class, I tell this boy to sit his chair on all four legs. I tell him NOT to tip his chair because he could fall. Yep. He fell today. I about died. I really couldn’t help it. I clasped my hand over my mouth to stifle my not so contained laughter. So help me. Literally 2 minutes later he was tipping his chair again. Really child? Clearly you did not learn your lesson…

In my conversation class with three middle schoolers it was a quotable night. The topic? When was the last time you…?

Question: When was the last time you told a joke?
Student A: Now.
(laughter)
Student B: I don’t remember.
(more laughter…what?!)
Student C: TOMORROW.
(even more laughter)

Question: When was the last time you had a hair cut?
Student A: two weeks ago
Student B: maybe I will go next week, so I had a hair cut a few months ago
Student C: today in class I cut my hair. (What?!) yeah I just cut a piece of it.

Tonight…Chinese Dancing Yoga. Chinese Dancing Yoga in the dark. Except for the fluorescent street lamps and signs beaming through the windows. Chinese Dancing Yoga with a verrryyy muscular male instructor. Oh wow. Chinese Dancing Yoga to Aladdin-esq music followed by melodic oceanic tunes, rap, contemporary adult tunes, and ending with chillout-lounge music. What a class. I can’t wait for next week. Though then I found out that the Sheraton Hotel across the street has Wednesday Wine Nights! (for real! it’s like they know that Wednesday is THE night to drink wine…) Wines from around the World…3 glasses for 300NT or about $10…plus wine usually attracts businessmen…and intellectual conversation, which would be really great. So Yoga then Wine? Yes, please. 😉 (Note: I did not go to the Wine Event this week…)

Saturday November 2nd
When dear friends from Korea come to Taipei… I reflect on how marvelous life as a traveler can be… Like hey, you live in Taiwan…we should hang out…oh you’re in (XYZ), I’ll be there next month…

We ate a huge br…lunch…of probably the most Canadian meal I’ve ever had. (My friend is from Ottawa and her friend has been here 9 years and owns a restaurant called Whalen’s) http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2012/08/11/2003539980
Yes, we split a club sandwich, a pulled pork sandwich, a Cesar salad, and…a plate of the classic…Poutine. and black coffee. Simply savory.
After our debatable brunch turned full on lunch…we were off to the National Palace Museum via subway then bus. Rain started to drip from the heavy sky as we arrived…so the museum proved to be the perfect option for this afternoon.
Discovered ancient artifacts including: ornate pottery, exquisite snuff bottles, and intricate calligraphy…that left me pondering…

How do people who write other languages, see English writing? Especially in symbolic languages, such as Chinese. Thought-provoking, isn’t it? When reading the calligraphic poem’s description it detailed that the fluency of the stroke, the boldness of the stroke, the spacing of the lines, the size of the characters, and the slant of the writing could determine the writer’s emotion…his tone…his character…the urgency. The writing. Not just the words or characters used, but the physical writing part. HOW it was written. Something a keyboard can produce only through the italics or bold fonts. This is handwriting…an art. A true art, to create a voice in the way you want the words read… by the stroke of a brush. Is it fluently written or is it pinpointed in exact spacing? Are the brush strokes wispy or bold? Are the characters slanted or straight? What is the emotion portrayed? Incredible.

Met my friend’s friends who live in Taipei, we played this game “Cards Against Humanity,” then had Hot Pot for dinner. Taiwanese food is making its way to the top of food paradise…

What a great day in the city with fun people!

if you ever want to know how my brain functions listen to Spanish radio, count random things in Korean, and take an hour of Chinese yoga…

Oh my goodness, my how time flies… (for the billionth time, right?)! It’s been almost 3 weeks since my last post…and I looked at the calendar today and realized I have officially been in Taiwan for 2 months. Let me recap the past few weeks.

In the last post I was counting down the days for Korea, and now my trip has past. And what an amazing trip it was! The feeling of being surrounded by incredible friends in another country was so comforting and definitely refreshed me for living in Taiwan. It was so cool to breeze through security and immigration within 30 seconds. (This is why I love and can’t get enough of the traveling efficiency in Asian countries…) And I’m not even exaggerating the seconds…I can’t even describe the deja vu…being able to read, to understand some random conversations, and know exactly where I was going to take the subway. It felt…natural…like home. Being greeted with hugs, BBQ, and so much. laughter. these people. their warmth and hospitality…and it’s only been a year… and it felt like only yesterday! My friend and I explored the Gamjeon section of Busan…an area of colorful roofed houses built into the mountains, just overlooking the port and fish market below…with stellar views of the entire Busan area. We toured through the streets, had coffee on a terraced cafe with a stunning view of the city, and roamed back alleyways of flowers, staircases, kimchi pots, old ladies yelling for no apparent reason, and overhanging vines or telephone wires. We also ate so much…coffee, waffle, fruit bing-su, BBQ, 김치, and sesame noodles. I was able to go back to Jangyu and see one of the best women I know, my yoga teacher. We went to a yoga class, then met up my old co-teachers for BBQ and tea. It meant so much to me to see these people I hold dear to my heart. Walking in my neighborhood…seeing the river construction completed, viewing the mountainside with the changing fall colors, and taking in the crisp air. The trip was exactly what I needed to remind myself of the happy memories and spend time with dear friends.

What have you done in a year? It shows how much time passes, make your time count…dreams should be chased, chances taken, and fun had. In one year…I have internationally flown to Korea-Boracay-Korea-U.S.-Chile-U.S.-Taiwan-Korea-Taiwan…I am fully aware it’s a privilege, blessing, and an unforgettable experience…

if you ever need an oasis of palm trees and waterfalls
in the airport…here’s your spot in the Taipei airport
it was the baby feeding room…I don’t make this stuff up!

first deja vu picture of Busan

second deja vu picture

Neil and BBQ at 해운대해수욕장

view of Busan

Korea isn’t complete without a Cafe
playing…
Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars.
On Repeat. The whole CD.
JANGYU~

Noodles!!!

River!
Peppers drying by the river

my school!

yoga wouldn’t be the same without checking
how healthy we are! owww

one of the best women I know! love.
She is so vibrant and filled with life!

yoga snacks at tea time.
Sarah we missed you!!!

my dear friend was actually in America at the time

…but had to stop by…
Brittany and Sarah and everyone else…
Thought of you.
GIMHAE~
pretty.

love them.

Laughter.

BBQ. Day 2.

tea time

BUSAN~

yummy!

back alleyway #1

#2

#3

stellar view

color

orange

recycled material artwork

coffee and beach site.
basically heaven on earth.

Taryn. Laughing.

Terraced Cafe

Seriously.

this food.

selfie.

Last Tuesday (10/15) I made a quick trip to Taipei to sort out my visa documents. And I really do mean quick. I left my house at 7:45 and was in Taipei (a 30 minutes HSR trip away) and finished with my appointment by 9:30. Amazing quickness. The ladies that helped me were so kind. One of their daughter’s lived in NYC. We had a lovely chat. I wandered a few random streets and had a coffee at the “Nice Cafe.” That was the name. It was a great morning, but I was still sleepy from my weekend trip so I headed back to Jhubei early. I had reading competition practice that evening and went to my first Hatha yoga class.
Sunrise from my room
told you it was the Nice Cafe…
                                                                                       

rod iron. my favorite.

mystical looking palm trees hanging in the humid rain

cars.scooters.and signs

it was a happy tea.

outside my school.

On Saturday (10/19), I met up with my TEFL friend in Hsinchu City and met another one of her friends. We ate at a delicious vegetarian buffet for lunch. We then headed for the beach via their scooters…what started as an easy ride turned into an accident…we wrecked, side swiped a car, I jumped off as a passenger, but both drivers fell off and ended up with a few scrapes and cuts…I walked away without a scratch…just a bit panicked. The other girl rode home and my friend ended up coming with me to do some grocery shopping. I bought frozen fruit and a gluten free cupcake mix- yay! As well as a few other goods. We had California Pizza Kitchen pizza for dinner. It ended up being a fun day despite the rough start and freak out moment of shock!

delish. vegetarian buffet.

sunset!

CPK in Hsinchu City

cupcakes!!!

Nikki’s son…

soo stinkin cute!!!
Sunday morning came and I had a great workout, baked cupcakes for the security guards (they are so sweet- they always smile and wave and say either good morning and good night to me every time I walk in the lobby, they also put up with my charades when I need something, and call me cabs.) and my co-teachers who came over for tea later that afternoon. My co-teacher is letting me borrow her desktop computer (Whohoo!) and so we set it up and watched a movie.

This week has been quite successful. In one class, after changing the seating arrangement, and putting a troublemaker in front next to me, he is becoming one of my best students and the class goes more smoothly. I am slowly gaining more control over my classes and it’s beginning to be more relaxed and I can be more fun for the kids. Even in my upper level classes where the kids don’t like to talk I am figuring out how to relate to them…by giving them 5 extra minutes to read or catch up on their homework, by reading the storybook aloud to them, and asking their opinion…one student says to me “Teacher, you are short. Standing makes you look shorter. Please sit in a chair.” I think it makes me more on their level and they feel more comfortable talking with me. In my USA classes, I have been doing extra activities outside their workbooks to make it more entertaining…

Can you bring me back some happy mushrooms?

Saturday September 28th

While skyping my little sister and telling her I was visiting Korea soon, she asks me, “Could you send me some happy mushrooms? And not just one box.” Oh Abby of course. Do you realize how ridiculous you just sounded? Yes. 
Alright my dearest friend who knows who she is right now- this ones for you because well, you do understand, and I appreciated your words today. Thank you. 🙂
The absurdness of it all. For example. Grocery shopping= deer in headlights; shopping amidst screaming children, hundreds of carts, blaring loud speakers that I have no idea wtf they’re saying against an American pop stars squeaky voice and raunchy lyrics, and vendors advertising coffee as they play in their cell phones and don’t bother to look up once. Being surrounded by umpteen different varieties of frozen dumplings, but no frozen fruit. Aisles and aisles of noodles, but no actual pasta to be found. Chocolate bars on one side of the aisle and bean curds and seaweed on the other. Forget asking someone for help, without it being a half hour ordeal of charades and pointing and then finally them calling their neighbor or friend or sister and putting them on the phone to translate and then explaining to them why you’re looking for frozen fruit. And ending the conversation with a bunch I thank you’s and I’m sorries and puzzled looks and “we no have frozen fruit.” And knowing that her fellow employee unpacking the box of almond fish packets will be the first one she talks to about the silly foreigner. I can hear the conversation now. 
The ridiculousness of why my poor kids get up at 6:30 am and are still in school or some type of class until 9pm. And these are 10 year olds. It’s explained to me that we may possibly see these kids more than mom or dad. No wonder they have the iPad babysitter and Homework and a 1000 tests a year to keep them occupied at home. How in the world am I supposed to make a kid sit up straight in my class and pay attention and sit still for 2 hours, knowing their lifestyle and situations? And on top if it, not let them get away with too much that it disrupts the whole class? 
For example, this one kid never sits up, never points to the word, and drags out the sentences in a way that fingernails scrape a chalkboard. He’s smart. He knows how to speak well. I’ve told him so. And he always finds an excuse to leave class. One day, I told him no, he couldn’t leave, because it was like his fourth time getting up. Then he sulked and told the Chinese teacher and he was allowed to go. After class, I explained why I told him no, and she said she would contact his mom. She reported saying that this kid loved having me as a teacher and likes English because of me, but apparently he wasn’t feeling well that day. Sigh. A. How was I suppose to know he wasn’t feeling well? Every other day he leaves class too! B. If he likes my class then why won’t he listen and respect his classmates? 
In another class, I have three boys. They are more drama then a pack of teenage girls. Always tattling, always sneaking blame, always sulking because they have to have all the attention. Oh. My. Goodness! Take a chill pill child. Teacherrrrrr he pushed me. I’m sorry, please turn around. No. Fine, minus 5 stamps, this is the second time I’ve told you to turn around. (Before all this, I warned the whole class that you need to look at your own book while the test is being taken or you would lose points.) Tears. Seriously? You weren’t listening. How is anything supposed to be accomplished when these kids are given into. And it’s also explained to me that they’re spoiled and to not let them get away with stuff. So help me if the next kid tattles on the other  for something that I know isn’t true. We can’t even play Teacher Says without yelling “he is out and I’m not and I’m not gonna sit down.” So should we still play games? What about the other kids who are night and day compared to the three? I’ve never seen anything like it. I brace myself for the storm of chaos. I’ve had crazy classes, but none that didn’t eventually listen and be quiet. These kids are out of control, or maybe it’s me and I am out of sorts on how to settle everyone  down so we can accomplish the day’s schedule of what HAS to be recorded and completed. 
Don’t get me wrong I love my job, but some things I’m struggling with How. To. Deal. 
Of every effort I believe in myself to have a positive day and live to the fullest, it’s hard to explain the loneliness that creeps in. Despite my happy-go-lucky attitude I have, some days it’s all I can do to keep from crying, because no one around me gets the tug of war between absolutely loving the challenge of living abroad and experiencing new things, but missing home and family and friends like crazy. Some don’t understand that as much as I love being here in their country, I love my own country too. It’s hard to explain how much I wish I could mold everything about Here into one big pot of everything about There. How much I wish I could fly everything there- here somedays or vice versa depending on where I wanted to be that day. I don’t have the option to hop on a plane, I’m too strong for that, but some days even though its sunshine and butterflies on the outside, its a freakin typhoon of emotions and sadness and struggle on the inside. 

My co teacher, Nikki

Chocolate and bean curd aisle
Went to the lavender fields and markets in the mountain town of Neiwan… Relaxing Sunday: 
Market shopping!


Lavendar fields

Standing in line for the train

More Kid Pics!

Dragon Fruit
Rain or shine, skirt or pants we ride scooters! 
Eating hot pot with friends! 

October 6th
Happy Birthday to my Mom today! Love you.

I also apologize for the crazy formatting- still on my iPod…

I really like this book. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. You see I am the pickiest book reader. I love cheesy books. I hate books that are too thick or that make you flip back pages. It can’t be too complicated, but not too boring. If it doesn’t capture my attention by the back cover I probably won’t enjoy it. These things I have learned. I thought I wanted to look smart by buying the thickest book under the classic section called Anna…something or other, see, I can’t even pronounced her name. That should have been the first sign I would never finish it, yet some people have read it time and time again like its their favorite book. But, I love to read. Especially young adult fiction. I dislike magic, time travel, and vampires; I like almost real life stories, diaries, travel stories, travel guides, biographies, and unpopular authors. My favorite book? The Silent Storm or this book of short stories about a wombat that I got from a friend studying in Australia. I would spend hours reading when I was a kid, and my biggest worry when I was on vacation was that I didn’t bring enough books. And now I only brought one book. Somewhere along the line I drifted.

Be Megan. The Happiness Project book is helping me get back to the basics. The author is focusing on Being Gretchen. And I need to focus on Being Megan. Somewhere along the line I felt it necessary to partake in the club scene, the party scene, to act dumb when actually I’m pretty intelligent, to chase troublemakers, and slack off in school (even though I still made good grades). I became someone who I wasn’t. I love quiet places. like Home. Cafes. and beaches. Airports at Off times like 3pm on a weekday or past security in a random terminal are the best- just enough people to people-watch, but not so many that I can’t breathe! Parties actually give me anxiety, and even though I love getting a group of friends together for dinners, my favorite part is sitting back and watching everyone talk or listening to funny stories and dying of laughter. Get me one in one and I’ll talk for hours. As I read the month on Fun, I realize I do so many things that aren’t fun, but because of the image I have portrayed in my head and the status I want to uphold, I continue the activities I think are fun. The reality is I need to pinpoint what I find fun. Reading. Wandering around without much of a destination. Scrapbooking (because its the one craft I really enjoy doing). Word Finds. Word Puzzles. Taking pictures. And Writing. Yoga. Trying new restaurants. Visiting places I used to live. Learning basic phrases in new languages. The list goes on. One thing that (probably won’t change) because I had this image in my head of being a college student studying at a cafe, is making myself learn to like coffee. At first, the sweeter the better… Now I drink it black with no cream or sugar and I love it. So I guess there’s no going back on something I now enjoy doing..sitting at a cafe drinking coffee. All because of an image portrayed.

Interesting isn’t it?

The author quoted another blogger: “perhaps I can learn to be ok with being me… Just as I am.”

I need to embrace my alone time now, to regain my purpose, to get back on track, pray more, read more, write more, listen more, watch more, and analyze less. To accept situations as they come and focus on my thoughts, words, and actions towards each challenge. Am I handling it in an appropriate way, are my words hurtful? Is my response effective and respectful?

Turning off the wifi for a few hours is near impossible these days. So this afternoon I went to a Cafe without free wifi because I needed an escape. It’s an addictive habit. Once I leave my apartment for a walk, for school, for coffee, I see people around me, things to look at, and senses to feel and take in… An escape from my own thoughts is welcomed and thoughts of the world and life and others can enter.



Sunny and 75.

Tuesday September 24th

I couldn’t decide how to start this post. Should I open with how I love drying my towels? How I sat on a sidewalk bench and laughed with grandparents and their grand baby while I waited? Or why I chose Sunny and 75 as my title? 

I will actually start with this: sometimes the most planned out day turns out better when the plans change. 
The day started out with drying my towels. Simple as it may be, I love drying my towels. Most take it for granted, but I have lived in places where I did not have access to a dryer. I purposely did not bring my iPod because I wanted to sit on a sidewalk bench outside the laundromat and have 35 minutes to think about some things. I arrived, put my clothes in, figured out how to outsmart the laundry machine so it didn’t eat my money, and sat down on my bench. On another bench just a few feet away was this grandma and her grand baby playing. The baby caught my eye and started smiling and giggling. She was probably the cutest thing you’d ever seen. A few minutes later her grandpa appeared and swung her up in his arms. He smiled and waved at me and walked over. He spoke broken English so we had a nice little chat. Then his grand baby reached her arms out to me for a hug so I picked her up and she laid her head on my shoulders. Heart melt. I think she knew I needed a hug today. It was only for a brief moment then she wanted back to grandpa. Such sweet grandparents they were. I had a few moments to contemplate on my bench, but pretty sure spending a short bit with those three was better than hashing out stuff in my mind. 
It was about 10:15 when I headed to the gym for spin class. I arrived, and the class was fully booked. As I was attempting to sign my name to the list a lady approached me: “you’re too late like me!” “You should come to yoga class with me today.” I had been wanting to go to a class, but I had not boughten a yoga mat and you have to bring your own. I explained this to her and she says…let me see what I can do. She went and asked the trainer and he let me borrow a mat from the gym. (It was super nice too!) So I went to my first Chinese yoga class with my new friend and met another friend in the class. It always amazes me how tense I am until I go to yoga and everything cracks and I can feel the tension being released. Lovely. After class, she taught me the Chinese words for ‘relax,’ ‘left,’ and ‘right.’ I think I’ll trade my spin for 7 days of yoga and try to spin at night a couple days a week. Running my 5k today felt better than it had in the past few days. 
xxx
In my searches this morning, I also found a new recipe blog via my MuffinTopless workout site. Her mom is gluten-free and has just started posting her recipes. I am quite excited about it! 
Today I also went to the store and bought 고추장 to make my own 비빔만두. Delicious. A Korean favorite I cannot wait to have in just two weeks time when I visit some friends still there! 

Ah I forgot how spicy that stuff actually is!

Let’s go back to this weekend
Moon Festival days off. Typhoon blew through and it was so windy and rainy. Went on my first scooter ride through the city. In the rain. I was with my friend Jessica, who works at the juice stand I frequent on my way to school. We spent Friday google translating our conversations,  hiking a trail, having coffee, Tawainese snacks including… Pig blood. Yep that’s right. I was eating away trying to decide if I liked it before she told me the name- it had a different texture an I couldn’t place the flavour- then she told me and I just couldn’t finish it. We google translated more about ourselves then went to this amazing Thai restaurant and had chicken in a coconut sauce and drank mango juice, I also tried a traditional Thai treat called “momo-jaja” I think is how you pronounce it. It was a wonderful day spent with a new friend even though it was slightly challenging google translating a day’s worth of girl talk. 
On Sunday, I hung out with my teaching assistant Zoe. We watched movies and I tried date-stuffed tomatoes, thousand year old egg, and a traditional Taiwanese fruit that was very good! I’m so lucky to have such a great co-worker as my friend! 
Sunset after the typhoon had calmed.

Zoe!

Now…

Today, Wednesday September 25th…

This morning:
Skyped with my Grandma F. So much fun to see her and chat! Love you Grandma!!! Know you’re reading this. 
I was tired, but I knew I had a goal to meet, so I dragged myself on the rooftop area did my workout that included blurpees, mountain climbers, and jumping jacks. 80 jumping jacks in a minute- think that was the most jumping jacks I had EVER done. On to the gym, ran 5K in 27 minutes and 30 seconds, then went to Chinese yoga for the second time. I love it. 
And now looking back at how crappy I felt this morning I went and jammed out one of the best workouts of the week. Mind over Matter. 
My cousin sent me a taste of America and fall today. She is one of the kindest sweetest, most thoughtful people I have ever known. She’s seen me through so much and I can’t thank her enough or express how much I cherish our friendship as cousins. Love you.

So happy. 🙂

 

After work:

I made flourless peanut butter chocolate blondes from the detoxinista.com site. Only to realize I ate almost half the pan… In one sitting… I didn’t mind the slightly burnt bars either! Still trying to get the hang of this toaster oven baking business. 
And yes, they have natural peanut butter in them! (I can get that here) just substituted chopped dove dark chocolate bars for chocolate chips. 

Batter…

Oh Yum. 

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