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!

You Mean I’m Not Perfect?

I have heard so many tales from perfectionists, unable to let minor details go and obsessing over small errors until late in the night. I never imagined that I was one of them. I don’t get things done perfectly. I don’t arrange and rearrange until everything is just so. I don’t spend hours searching for the perfect shade of lemon yellow to paint my kitchen. I see a flaw and let it go. I never imagined that I was a perfectionist until I was  I am not your typical perfectionist who must have each detail of a project exactly right before it is considered complete. My perfectionism does not push me forward to complete incredible feats and achieve my greatest dreams. No, my perfectionism paralyzes me. If I think I may be unable to obtain perfection, I am completely unable to perform at all. This affects even the simplest chores in my life, “Don’t have the time of energy for a full workout, why bother at all? Don’t think that you can achieve that goal, don’t even try!” For me, fear of failure, in the past, has spurred me into inaction.

I am working towards being comfortable aiming to achieve things- fear of failure be damned.  While working on my vision and goals worksheet (downloaded from Lululemon’s website here.)  I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to set the right goals, how to make sure my goals are achievable and working really hard to not be scared of setting a goal which I might not meet.

I read a blog post by Lululemon Leadership Trainer, Matt, who explained how he uses fear to motivate himself to achieve his goals. To him, setting goals meant that he was doing something remarkable. With his encouragement to embrace the possibility of failure and use it to succeed, I am creating goals for myself and making use of my fear of failure. Without setting the goals, I would never fail at anything but I would also never accomplish anything. As a result, I am spending this year thinking about goals and giving myself the opportunity to set and re-set goals using the Lululemon worksheet. The goal, for now, is to create meaningful goals that I can start working towards.

On a side note, I started writing this post weeks ago and hadn’t finished it or posted it because I felt that it wasn’t perfect. I find this hilarious and indicative of my long journey ahead towards being comfortable with not being perfect.

Being Okay with Feeling Not Okay (Or Why This Post is Only So-So)

I have been struck by a few of those days when I feel incredibly down and not positive at all. I keep getting lost in those moments of self-pity and negative self-talk where I am thinking that progress is too slow going and that I am not achieving enough. I don’t know what it is that I am supposed to be achieving but I have that feeling that I am not doing enough.

Now, I don’t believe every bit of horoscope I read but I do like checking mine. They often contain good for advice or a bit of wisdom useful for putting some aspect of my life in perspective. I like to check the Globe and Mail horoscopes, and, since I am living in Korea, I don’t get to read it until my day here is nearly over which I prefer. This was yesterday’s horoscope “Cosmic activity in and around your opposite sign makes it appear as if you are losing control but only because you are trying to hold on to what you no longer need. Let go, and life will be fun again.” It may seem corny but I was thinking something similar yesterday morning as I walked to work, hours before I would have been able to read it. I  don’t know what cosmic activity has to do with it but I am  definitely holding onto some thought or expectation that is keeping me in my sullen state.

Every time I pick up a book that might bring me out of my funk I do not even notice what I am reading. I can’t seem to write anything. I had promised myself that I would put up two posts a week and while I have tons of ideas and even the beginnings of some pretty great posts saved, I can’t seem to add anything, edit what I have or even read what I have already written. No doubt about it, I am in a slump. It seemed like a chore to make it through yesterday’s yoga class and even my hips refused to get into the spirit, leaving me slumped in a heap instead of gracefully folded over to hold onto my toes. That is the flavour of my week, just in a heap.

What I may be hanging onto is the ten pounds I have put on since being in Korea. I have been thinking pretty obsessively lately those ten pounds and my inability to get rid of them. I have spent the past week dwelling on my shape pretty heavily. I put a tiny hole in the crotch of my favourite jeans this week. Despite hitting the gym three times a week, yoga classes, working out at home daily, eating well and walking at least an hour a day, I don’t see a difference. This is weighing on me, no pun intended, and I need to let it go, remember that those jeans were a size 24, and, if a size 24 is a little small on me it may not be the end of the world. This is easier said than done when those same jeans fit just three short months ago. Yes, this is definitely contributing to my current lack lustre outlook on me.

What am I going to do? For now, I am just going to let myself feel icky. I am embracing that this isn’t a week for feeling great but that doesn’t mean I am failing, it just means that next week is a new opportunity for growth. Maybe this is what I need to let go and, hopefully, to open my hips.

Seoul, the city of Go.

I am reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Prey, Love and there have been several passages that have stuck with me. One in particular is about finding “your city.” She writes about finding “the word” of the city that you are in. The word being a single word which commonly sums up the majority’s thought towards the city. You knew whether or not you could belong to a city or if a city could belong to you by whether or not you have the same word.

This of course had me thinking about the word for Seoul. Seoul is busy, full and available but the word for Seoul is definitely “Go.” It doesn’t care where you are going or what you do when you get there as long as you just keep moving. There is no standing still in Seoul. You are always moving, rushing to catch the train, pushing your way out of the train and forcing your way through crowds of people. Everyone is moving so quickly. You do not stop to enjoy the view. You just keep going and if you don’t, you will get carried along.

I learned this during my first week here. As I meandered my way to transfer subways lines one morning, an ajuma rushed past me, nearly knocking me over and successfully spilling my coffee to the ground. (As a side note here: if you must (and I must indeed) have coffee on the Korean subway, hold it with both hands as close to your body as possible.) My initial reaction was frustration but then I remembered to appreciate the differences in culture for what they were and was kind of pleased to be learning another lesson on how to survive in Seoul. Always be prepared to move. If you don’t go, Seoul will knock you over and you will be the only person to pick yourself up.

So, Go is definitely the word for Seoul. Go to where you are supposed to be. Go to work, go to the gym, go out, go home…just keep going. And I will. It may not be the right word for me forever, I think I prefer something simpler that allows me to savour quiet moments and watch the world around me. But, for now, Go is my word too. I will take the word for this city and find a way for it to inspire me, maybe “Go, do.”