PT – Round 2

 

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Celebrating five days at the gym.

Towards the end of March I decided that I was going to get a personal trainer.  Six weeks have  passed by and its time to do a check in.  Anyone who knows me well knows  that I have seemed to make it my mission in life to avoid exercising. I hate it with every ounce of my being so every time I went to start a routine it was really hard to keep going.

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An introvert finding herself

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Enjoying the sea breeze at Anmok Beach in Gangneung.

The above is kind of self explanatory,or is it? Back at the end of October last year I realized I was heading into a big dark cave I have seen many times before. It wasn’t my first time in that cave nor was it going to be my last day dragged back down into its depths.  I decided to talk to a few friends about how I was feeling and even they noticed how much of a change had overcome me. A few close friends suggested that just maybe, I should reach out for help.

I’ve never been one to actually ask for help. It makes me feel inadequate and helpless. I’d rather trudge through murky water cursing than admit, I need help. Well, I scoured the internet and found a place where I can go spread my fantastical miser-like thinking. Or as my friend, Kerri lovingly puts it, ‘the brain doctor.’ Read More

Finding the Positive Side of Myself

Writing about myself negatively is much easier. My friend challenged me to try to draw the positive. I can only think of 13 things.  My friend added a few to help me out, how sweet she is. Which means this is an image of myself I need to grow and nurture both physically and on paper. I suppose I will have to learn to fill in the blanks as I go.  I never realized how hard it was to find the positive things about myself until I tried. I have always had a hard time filling out lists that tell you to list qualities you like about yourself. It’s not an easy activity to do, but it proves a powerful lesson. The negative in our lives easily overpowers any positives if we let it.

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"Everyone’s goal is to be married with kid(s) by 27?"

“Everyone’s goal is to be married with kid(s) by 27?”

“I have seen too many girls from my high school pregnant waddling down the aisle”,

” OK, you got pregnant you don’t have to rush into a marriage and be miserable”

Three quotes from a friend that happen to resonate with me. While I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that will disagree with me and want to throw shit my way, by all means go ahead. Doesn’t fucking bother me.

If someone were to ask me two years ago, where I pictured myself to be today, I would have given a very different answer than my current reality. I would have told you that I would be happily married with a kid and living in our own place.

Wait. Stop. Rewind.

How old are you? 27.

I’m at the age everyone I know is married, getting married, has kids, or is pregnant. Congrats to all of you. Ahem.

There is this unsaid perception about how life should be. You know…that sequence of life? The all powerful, perfect, traditional life? You know…the one everyone idolizes. The one that people say, “Look at them, been married for 50 years!” Or you see quotes flying around that, “We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away…” Good for you.

Let me add to that last quote, that social acceptance was also different 50 years ago. They might fix broken things, however, if you were a different race, interracially married, an LGBT individual, or had mental and behavioral disorders…guess what? You weren’t fucking accepted. Not only that but domestic abuse was common as it is now, and back then divorce was not accepted. Do we look down on couples who get divorced because of violence? Violence is not something that should be endured.

So let’s start there…these old celebrated couples are not interracial marriages. Mine was and if I had been born during that time where things were meant to be fixed instead of thrown away. I would have weathered a marriage, where words and hurtful insults would be hurled at us daily. But I wasn’t married during that time, I was married in the here and now. But that prejudice of interracial marriage is not gone in this day and age. It still exists and people still stare at interracial couples and they can still hear insults from others. Luckily, I never heard any insults, but there was always staring.

But that is not my point. My point is times are changing. The way people view and accept marriage is also changing. My generation is the first generation to live at home longer than any other generation due to being saddled by debt, unable to get a decent job, and the cost of living out of our reach, unless we landed that well paying job with benefits. Or we had parents who wiped our plates clean of debt by putting a second mortgage on their house without so much as a thank you from their children.

That defines a generation of us getting married later and also submitting to the pressure of society to be married by a certain age. To be bombarded by questions:

Why aren’t you married yet?

You should start looking to date someone.

Maybe if you are married you might hear this:

Do you want kids?

How come you are not pregnant yet?

When can we expect the baby?

The problem with these types of questions is they inflict pain on to an individual if you do not know what is going on in that marriage or that person’s life. Most people used to ask me about having a baby for two years. Not once, did someone ask to say, “How’s your marriage going? ” Because had they asked, they would have known there was no baby on the horizon. Why? Because our marriage was falling apart and it was being hidden from others. The question jabs more at someone’s heart if the questioner knew that the person they were asking wanted children.

I’m the type of person who dreamed of being a young mom with kids. I wanted to have my first child by the time I was 25. However, life didn’t go as planned. I was responsible enough to know that having a child does not fix a marriage. I was responsible enough to know before getting married not to have a child and get married because of that child. Why? Because having children does not fix relationship problems between two individuals.

It is a widely believed concept among individuals desperate to maintain a loved one in their lives, or to rekindle some flame, or help the relationship, I will have a child. Don’t do it. Don’t be so selfish as to want a child for your own benefit.

Some people say you fix what is broken. Sometimes what is broken can’t be fixed. Because if you sit and let yourself think, you realize it isn’t right. That moment when you knew you should have stopped and didn’t listen. You were right then, but ignored it in order to go with what family and friends expected of you. Because there is a guide to life and we should all be following that antiquated guide.

Sometimes we make decions that are hard but right. Somedays you have to ask yourself can I see myself with this person in 20 years? That number seems low to some people, but it is a very long time. When the love in your relationship fades and you become mere strangers in each other’s presence with no words exchanged or loving gestures, it is time. It is time to acknowledge that you cannot change yourself to be the person the other individual wants you to be. Because you are you. That person married you for who you are not who they want you to be. Only you can choose who you want to be.

That is a lesson that is tough to learn. It is a lesson I have learned, I have refused to change for anybody again. Take me as a I am, because if you don’t like it, I will move on. You don’t fix yourself to make a relationship work, because you are afraid of what will be said about you for your marriage failing. If the marriage is failing it is, there isn’t much to do, but acknowledge it, realize where it went wrong and how you and your partner played a part in it. Because everything is a two way street, we each have to accept our own responsibility in success and failure in life.

The part about being knocked up and waddling down the aisle might offend quite a few people. I know people who have done that. A shotgun wedding. You are pregnant, so what? I think our traditionalistic society drenched in Christianity still views everyone has a sinner who has a child before marriage. Therefore a shotgun marriage ceremony is the solution. Now when your child gets older and goes to do the math, they will know you got married because of them. You can say we planned to get married anyway, blah blah blah.  You might have! But why rush it for a child? So that you can seem and appear normal and socially acceptable to society?

Is it really such a terrible thing to have a child before marriage? Are those single mothers and fathers raising their kids alone terrible people? Are those couples who can’t afford a marriage ceremony who have been raising their kids for 10 years so terrible, just because they never tied the knot? Is that how we,
as a society, look at unmarried people with children?

If so, it is a shame. It is sad to know that the type of parent and person they are looked at as, is based on how they had their child. And people will refute that it isn’t true. Why hold in your own bias against it, when you will knowingly pass judgement on that person?

I’m not putting people who have shotgun marriages down, rather I would hope they realize they don’t have to have an impromptu wedding they may not be able to afford, because of a child that is on the way. The people who love you in your life, will still love you no matter the choice you make.

My only advice is that marriage is easy to get into. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get married. Most people can get married for under one hundred dollars at their local city hall. Marriage is a relationship that has a piece of paper attached to it. It recognizes that  you belong to each other for the rest of your lives until death or divorce, that’s what it is.  Some marriages are great and some are pretty crappy. But you know it is everyone’s choice to make that decision. Having been married myself, it is a hell of a lot easier getting married than getting divorced. So before you jump in, realize that. You can raise kids without a piece of paper attached. When you are ready to do it go ahead. Don’t let family, friends, and society dictate what you should do.

I wanted to write my thoughts on this, because a lot of people dwell on this issue especially as we get closer to 30. I’m 27, divorced, and without kids. Will I marry again? Only time can tell that. Do I want kids? More than anything else, but I will wait until it is time. I won’t be a young mother like I wanted, but at that time I will have lived enough to know that I made the right choices in life and am happy to have my children when and if they come to me.

Saltwater and fresh air…a day of healing

I headed home after work with the gym-teacher’s wife, who is filling in for another teacher on absence, and she asked what I was doing this weekend. I said nothing as I only have 2,000 won to my name. (less than $2.00)  So she hands me money and I tell her no I’m okay, after about 3 times of this she gives me about 30,000 won and asks me to pay her back later. My co-teacher also offered me money but I declined. I don’t like owing people or feeling in debt to them.

So I started my Saturday trying to tackle my taxes, which I failed so, I am going to pay turbo tax this year to file my state taxes since I got a totally different refund amount than them. They are giving me more money so they can keep $30.00 of mine.  After that wasn’t going well, I decided to do laundry and tidy up my apartment. I cleaned all the dishes I have been ignoring. Not the ones in the sink, I clean those daily. But all the dishes through the apartment. I probably should have mopped and did some dusting but I’m a bit lazy so that will have to wait. I walked around the track several times last night and I came back and I had a lot of thoughts in my head.

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A fellow EPIK teacher on facebook posted this quote and it resonated with me. I am starting all over again. It isn’t easy, most days I can handle my thoughts. But then there are days when you are by yourself the thoughts rear their ugly heads and wage war in my mind.  Part of my journey while I am here in South Korea will be to learn to grow as a person and love myself. Starting over, fresh, some place new where no one knows me is the perfect place to do that. I can be who I want, I can learn to love myself without being reminded of the past.  Unfortunately webmd or any other online site that talks about health can do a bit of damage although it can also be eye-opening. I looked up body image and came across BDD (Body dysmorphic disorder).  I’m not the classic extreme example of this, as I am not on the thin side and imagine that I am heavy, or I hate myself so much I can’t walk out of the house. But I do suffer from a degree of it. I’m hyper paranoid about my skin and hair. And If I can see it I fear others can and they might make fun of me if I am not perfect looking in that way. I also tend to compare myself to people who are much heavier than me. A lot of the time I find women who are probably on average (50~100lbs ) more than me, prettier or more attractive. Or I feel we are the same size.  I don’t have that inner degree of confidence that I accept my body the way it is.  I always wonder why my skin isn’t as nice, or I have darker hair or more body hair than other women. Why they always look better than me, and yet I never feel pretty enough. I don’t like wearing makeup but when I put it on, I want to take it off because I can’t tell if the makeup looks better or worse on me.  So Saturday, I struggled a bit with myself and my inner demons. And I told myself to go to bed and not think about it.

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Some words of advice I found as I continue to work on myself.

With that being said, my favorite place to go when I feel upset or just like to be alone is the beach. So I knew that was where I would be headed on Sunday. I packed up my backpack and headed out around 10 A.M. It took about 45 mins or so to get to the beginning of the beach which was all rocks but still really beautiful. The smell of salt water just instantly melts away whatever is brewing inside the mind and it dissipates into silence. The ocean is vast, beautiful and always takes my breath away.  It was a perfect time to reflect on myself and realize I am okay just the way I am and it is okay to struggle with that. I am learning to love myself one day at a time. It isn’t an easy road.

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The blue-green water, the crashing waves and the smell of salt water just made me feel at peace. It was warm but breezy and the perfect day to hunt for shells. If you know my family at all we have an obsession about collecting shells every time we go to the beach. Even if it is the same beach we always go to. We always need more jingle shells. Or maybe we will get a cool shell that is finally complete. Because the cool shells are always the  ones that you find bits and pieces of and think, “Oh! I wonder if I can find a whole one?” Yes you probably will say that out loud as you are searching.

The first part of the beach was really rocky but the rocks had this beautiful mineral sheen to them. They were so pretty I actually picked up a few of them along the way since I haven’t seen rocks like that before. Next on the list, sea glass. Lots of sea glass. Which makes sense as we are on the ocean so more sea glass should wash ashore. Blue, green and brown sea glass collected? Check.  Every beach has its own “typical shells.” The shells you always collect and are like these are the cool shells of the beach, the majority of the population. They very in shape, size, and color, but normally the shells you collect the most of are these. What we are after are the prized possessions.  The truly unique shells of the beach. One of the first bits I found was a sand dollar. A SAND DOLLAR?! Could it be…I could find one? Granted it was only a piece but it gave me hope that maybe I would find this elusive sand dollar whole somewhere on the beach.

And when we do find said elusive shell…we say out loud, “oooo waaaahhhhah!!!!!! A SAND DOLLAR!!!!” like a five year old child receiving candy, we have found the ultimate prize on the beach.

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I was so excited it got separated from the rest of the shells as I didn’t want it to break. Collecting sea shells is soothing, because you only focus on the shells. The details of the shells, the curves, lines, designs, colors, is it partial or whole? These are the questions we ask ourselves. If we find a piece of sea glass on the beach we ask ourselves does this constitute being sea glass? Is it smooth enough?  There is something about nature, whether it is an ocean, a forest, a mountain or a field…it soothes the soul. It erases the worries of the mind and gives us a fresh start for the day.

It does not matter where you live, everyone should have a place to go that relieves their mind and soothes their soul. For me that has always been the smell of salt water. The ocean. If there was no ocean in sight or I was in a land locked area it was the nearest body of water. Be it a river, a lake or a stream. I always knew where the closest body of water is, because when I am sad, when my mind is cluttered, when I want to be alone, to clear my head of all thoughts, I go and sit by water. And I stare at the ocean, or that body of water and let whatever is bothering me wash away. I always walk away feeling better.

I have turned my life upside down and am starting new. It isn’t easy and each day is a new adventure. Every day I am challenging the old me and creating the new me. The me, I have always seen inside my head. The pretty woman who radiates confidence and is full of life, charging straight ahead after her dreams. I’m building her day by day. So there are days I fall back and those inner demons chase me, but I acknowledge it. I embrace it, if I feel like crying…I do. If I feel like laying in bed all day…I do. If I need to find water, I will. As I get older I realize no matter where we are in the world, whether you transplant yourself to another state or country, you should always know what keeps you calm. What keeps you centered.  For me that is salt water and no matter where I go in life, I know that is always the place I will go when I need to think things through or free my mind of worries.

Where do you go to clear your mind? And if it isn’t a place, what soothes your soul?

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I was looking at the shells I collected today and the ones that struck me the most were the sea glass. It’s like every piece is a shard of ourselves. And no matter how long we collect it or how many pieces we have in our collection it will never be complete, it will never completely be a testament to who we are. Why? Because we are individuals and no matter how we try to define ourselves it takes many pieces to make a whole and we don’t necessarily make a uniform shape, but maybe we are forever expanding…? Forever continuing to grow and shape ourselves as our lives continue…as life shapes us one day at a time. Some food for thought.

Musings of an overloaded mind

“Did you know…..?”

” Have you heard….?”

No. And no. I did not know. I have not heard.

The moment you walk away from everything you know…it comes back at you. Moving half way across the world there are days I am thankful I am in a new place. I can meet new people. I can be myself. I can hide in a cave if I want and never leave. Or I can be highly sociable and tolerate others.

One thing I was thankful for was not hearing the updates from home. About this person and that person. The ‘did you know’s…’ and ‘have you heard’s…’ I’m cold.

Am I a bad person? No.

Am I a loving person?  Yes.

Because I do not care, does it make me a bad person? Most people will answer that with a yes. You are a cold hearted person. You should care about others.

Should I? That seems like a loaded question.  Most people who feel “I” or anyone else should feel a certain way are the one’s who are bothered by me not caring. And why should it bother you? Because I do not care about every detail in your life? Because I do not need to hear the news about every person I left back home?

So  in the eyes of many I seem like a cold bitch. Fine. That is all right with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. And here is mine:

I don’t care. I never have. Why should I care about people who make minimal effort to be a part of my life? Why should I care about those who are never there for me when I may need them? Caring about others is a task. It isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to always keep the door open for anyone to walk through. Come inside and take a seat and drink some coffee while we talk about our worries and dreams and the future. Yet, I am a person who leaves that door open.  It isn’t a physical door. So if you look for it you will not find it.

No, no. It is the door inside my mind that leads to a set of chairs deep inside my heart. I have always left the door open. For anyone who has crossed paths with me. For friends old and new. For those who have walked out of my life and who have gone separate ways. That door is always open for them. Because that is the type of person I am.

The sad part about always leaving the door open for others is…no one has that door open for you. So when you go knocking…no one answers. When you reach out silently, when you leave clues that you need that extra hand, you are often overlooked. That is the kind of caring I receive. Should I care?

Outwardly no. Do I care? If it is important of course I do. My reaction might not be what others expect. It never is. People don’t understand how I think or how I feel. I often feel that I have always been less than everyone else in my life. I have always had to struggle longer and harder than others. That all the things I want in my life I do not have. When I look at those closest to me who have everything I want in life, they all shake their heads and say, “What is your problem?”

The sad thing is…a friend knows that isn’t the answer. Do you know my heart? Do you know my mind? Do you know what I think about at night? The long conversations I hold with myself?  I want to ask someone, “Have you ever flipped your life upside down?” ” Have you gone after one thing in life to realize everything else has slipped out of your hands?” ” Do you know what it is like to age and look around at your friends and realize you are jealous?” Jealous of all they have. And yet those friends have no idea you are jealous. Why? Because it is hidden beneath a faint smile and a lump in your throat.

My life isn’t planned. It never has been. It never will be. I live day to day. And day to day I wonder will I find happiness? Will the things I want in life come true? Will I find love? Will I have children? Will I finally love myself? Will I stand before all of the people I know with confidence in myself? A feeling of self-worth radiating from my being?

Never leaving. Never changing. Always settling…does not lead to happiness. Making things work just because of how you want to be perceived in life doesn’t bring happiness. That is a lesson I know. That is also a lesson that drives me forward. I am not perfect. Somedays I believe I might just end up by myself.

So when someone gives me news of others…should I care?

I choose not to. If I am close to that person I would hope they could tell me whatever news about themselves first. Why do I need to hear it from others?

Escaping from what bothers you is not the right thing to do. However, if listening to it hurts you and makes you sad. Then don’t listen. You have heard it once, time to move on.

So, I leave these words I have kept in my mind here.  Why should I care? Why do I need to feign interest in others? I don’t. Like it or not, it isn’t my problem how you feel.

When you read this and think there is something wrong with this girl. Or is there? Maybe you will question your own beliefs. Maybe you will reflect on those closest to you. Or the ones you believe to be the closest to you. Being a good friend, a true friend, is not an easy thing to do. It means being there through thick and thin. It means painting a smile on your face when sometimes you don’t want to. It means giving advice you know will hurt but at the same time you know needs to be said. And hoping that your own friends will give that same advice back to you. Will listen to your worries and hopes as you listen to theirs. That they will give you a hug if you need it. That no matter what you think you can tell them and they won’t judge you. They will understand you.

Very few friendships are 50/50. There is always one friend who gives more of themselves to others. The only bad thing about that is they are the ones who never get that same amount of love and affection from friends poured back on them.

I care about my friends. I love them dearly. But, I don’t need updates all the time. If they want to tell me they will. If they want to come and sit down for coffee or tea they will. And we will converse as the closest of friends always do. And they can look me in the eye and smile, “I understand you.” That one sentence…means a lot. Your heart, your mind, your belief…I understand. I’m here for you.

The words I say to others, just once in a blue moon it would be nice to hear back. To go and knock on that door only to realize it is already open. And my friend is sitting there asking, “Do you want coffee or tea? It has been a long time my friend…what have I missed? How have you been?”

{This post became full of rambling thoughts. It might not be easy to follow, but it flows from the heart. Sometimes we just have to express how we feel, even if others have no idea why or what is the matter. All is good. The mind and heart are now lighter.}

Packing Part 1…

I dread packing. I hate it. I always over-pack and wish I had under-packed. With that being said trying to whittle myself down to two suitcases, a small carry on, and a backpack is daunting. I give credit to those who can only have one suitcase. I don’t know how you did it. This will be the third attempt to try and pack my suitcases. The carry on needs a little shuffling work but is mostly planned out.

I was thinking about this while I was driving earlier…packing is a metaphor for life.  The hardest thing about packing is letting go. What to let go of and why. Will I miss it? Do I need it? Do I just want to take it with me? And if so, why? My shit (as I lovingly call it) really has a life of its own. I think it embodies how I view myself. Why am I clinging on to shorts that are 4 sizes too small with only a glimmer of hope that I will once again fit into them? I do not know the answer to that and they have been placed back in my closet for safekeeping. A shirt I like but do not particular wear but I just might wear it because you never know…never know what? Ah…you mean going places and envisioning yourself somewhere that you probably might not be or go to. Yeah, probably shouldn’t pack that.

Packing is frustrating. It shows that I cling on to material things for silly reasons. One day I will fit into this, oh I wore that when, oh I really like this, I wish I could bring that…the excuses not to part with anything. But in reality, I have to make choices and whittle down my clothing choices in order to fit my life into two suitcases and at the end of the day I have never been a fashionista.

Nope. I’m a yoga pants and sweatshirt kind of girl. Mostly because I used to work 6 days a week and all I did was live in work clothes and never really went out anywhere. I just wanted to relax on my one day off, occasionally I would go out in yoga pants maybe jeans. The yoga pants were easier since I will be damned buying a size up at this point. My own stubbornness has gotten the best of me. Moving to Korea is hard in the sense that I don’t particularly care what I look like. In Korea, fashion and looking presentable is important. I want to roll out of bed with my hair a mess, pajama pants on, a tank top, and flip flops and run down the corner of the street to buy a coffee. Yes, just like that. It might even happen while I am in Korea as old habits die hard.

So as I cast my clothing aside piece by piece, the weight on my shoulders becomes less and less. There is no reason to cling to things that hold no meaning. Time to get crackin’ at that packing again. I plan to be finished by Sunday. I figure the coming blizzard will give me quality time with my suitcases.

Once,  I finish packing I plan on making a list and taking photos so that it can help others in the future.

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