Choose To Be Where You Are.

Your life is happening where you are. Yes, things continue to exist when you are not there and other people, who are part of your life, have lives that happen in other places but your unique experience is happening exactly where you are. I have a tattoo on my back that I had done to replicate a beautiful piece of art I have always loved. I have changed one aspect, I decided to get a bird in place of a fishbowl. Birds can go anywhere, to have a bird with no cage staying in one spot was supposed to symbolize choosing to be where you are. All of those times when I wanted to come to Seoul, but decided to remain in Ottawa, I would remind myself that I was choosing to be where I was. Making the decision to be where I was is so important to me.

I feel like such a fraud now. I made the choice to physically be here but I am mentally elsewhere. I can’t seem to convince myself to choose to be where I am. I just keep thinking about the other and how I want to be there. I try to settle my thought into my breath and be with my body, because your body can only ever be in the present, and though it works temporarily, I find myself drifting back into wanting to be elsewhere.

So, I can’t seem to convince my mind to be where my body is thus, I will bring my body to where my mind is. I am coming home.



A Little Chat with Me or Have You Seen My Sanity?

I am beginning to be a broken record. Even I am getting annoyed with listening to myself. I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home – I really do feel like Dorothy now. Everyday the same thoughts jumble through my head, an ongoing internal dialogue that goes like this:

Me:I want to go home.

Brain: But why do you want to go home?

Me: Brain, we have been through this, I want to go to Rama Lotus and Vertical Reality, see my friends and do groceries at Hartman’s.

Brain: But what if you go home and you don’t find what you are looking for, what if you want  to come back here, it is easier to go home than it is to come back here you know. Well, you don’t have to make any decisions until the end of April anyways.

Me: But, what if I don’t want to go home then but then what if I want to go home again by the end of July and then I might as well just stay because it is so close to November anyways and then I have to spend the next 4 month being miserable because I want to be at home but if I just stick it out a little longer I will get my bonus so I don’t leave. Yes, there is the matter of the bonus, but is it really worth it?

Brain: Isn’t it just better if you stay for the whole year, that way you are not being a pansy and you are fulfilling my contract.

Me: …but I want to go home.

Brain: Have you never heard of staying present to your discomfort? Maybe if you thought a little less about all of the great things at home, you would enjoy here more. What if you go home and you still can’t find presence and you are still running around looking for something else, something more?

Me: Who said I am looking for something more? Doesn’t wanting to go home mean that I know what I want and it was what I had before?

And it goes on like this until I am on the point of tears, so confused about what I want and whether or not I should stay. And to top it off I am angry with myself because I know I am not making a decision for another month. I know that I should be easier on myself, it was a big feat to come all of this way in the first place.

By the end of all of this, I am so exhausted and confused. I have almost forgotten what the question is and I just want to go to sleep.

It’s not you, it’s me.

I have hit the 4 month mark in Seoul and I have definitely hit the “culture shock” portion of this roller coaster ride. It is an odd sensation, I am doing quite fine and am happy but still unsatisfied. I like it and will miss it when I leave but, more than anything, I want home. I am enjoying my time here. I like the city, it is interesting and there is always something to do. I am starting to settle into my life here. I am comfortable negotiating the subway, using the equipment at my gym, buying street food, shopping in the subway from small vendors and doing groceries at EMart. I am comfortable with my job. But I miss the comforts and familiarity of home. I want to be able to ask questions at a restaurant, walk out my front door to go for a run, understand the conversations I overhear at the coffee shop (Bridgehead preferably!) and be able to buy the food I want to be eating from a grocery store where I understand what is written on the labels. I want greek yogurt and garlicky hummus. I want cottage cheese and orange-not yellow sweet potatoes.

I  alternate between day dreaming up ways to get myself home as soon as possible and looking for ways to embrace my experience here. I spend time trying to maintain presence in my situation to enhance my happiness here which is easier to do when I am not at work (where I regularly use my mind to escape the monotony of teaching simple vocabulary to students who would rather be anywhere than in my classroom. ) I know that there is joy in this situation, I have felt it and I will continue to hold onto every piece of it I can find. Maybe, by getting out how I am feeling, I will make room inside for more happiness to linger.

I am sure this will pass and by the time my year is up, I will be unsure about the idea of going home but until then…Ottawa, I miss you.

Getting Over IT

Today is International Get Over It Day. Though the day may come off a bit as a lighthearted joke, there is real merit to the idea of a day specified to get over whatever burdens, heartaches, stress or other issue(s) you have been carrying around. A designated “this is the time to stop whining about your crappy job, your last breakup, your childhood issues with your mother, father, sister, brother, dog etc.” may be exactly what is needed to move forward from things that have left us feeling miserable in the past. I think that more than just letting something go, there is a message to do something to improve our current situation: Don’t like your job? Find a new one. Broken heart? Fix it. Mommy issues? Deal with them!

I remember when I first discovered this glorious day, it was last year and right on the heels of that last “don’t want to get out of bed, crying on the floor, I will never love again” relationship disaster and I was certain that my friends were sick of hearing me complain about it (S and everyone else, thank you again for listening to me while I was such a whiney broken record.) I decided I would be over it, the day would be the magic word and that would be enough. I slated this day as the day I would finally get over it. Well, that didn’t work. I don’t think I actually wanted to get over it and, as is often true, it is easier said than done. It may not be possible to get over something in one day but it is definitely possible to use this day as a catalyst to begin letting go and getting over it.

So, I am using this day to make a decision to get over it. And I have many “its” to get over. I don’t expect to immediately over every issue but this is my declaration that I am working towards being over them.

1- Complaints about my childhood. It was not perfect but it happened and that is just that. Plus, there were some pretty great parts too.

2- Loneliness. Being lonely is a choice. I like being alone and I like being with people. If I am feeling lonely I will do something about it rather than wallowing in it.

3- Relationships that didn’t work out. I am saying goodbye to all of the thoughts about what could have been and instead remembering the good times as though they were a movie I watched. I am not just talking about romantic relationships here, sometimes friendships end and letting go of those is difficult too.

4- Any dissatisfaction with my current situation. I may not be doing exactly what I want to do and I may not be able to read of the labels at the grocery store or know where to pay my phone bill but I live in a pretty incredible place and it is amazing that I am actually here.

5- The vision of my future self. You know that plan you have? The one that says you will be married by 25, working your dream job, having your first child by 28? The unrealistic expectations of everything you would be by now, everything you should have by now? Yeah? That plan. I am getting over it. Life doesn’t happen following some cookie cutter pattern or instructional booklet, you can’t designate how and when things will work out for you. Besides, what happens after it all works out? This is an entire discussion point in itself but this is definitely a big getting over it to do.

I think I have some pretty significant challenges ahead!