Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Tis a lesson you should heed: Try, try, try again. If at first you don't succeed, Try, try, try again

Below is an extract from my original post now available on squarespace:
Do you remember, in January, I listed all the things I want to do in 2015 (to see this list, clickhere)?I had three things I wanted to accomplish in January : 
  • Organise two dates for when I am on vacation and complete them.
  • Make bed everyday
  • Read more
So, how did I do?
Well, if you look at my reading list, here, you can see I already have read quite a bit. I haven't quite sorted out all the books that I WANT to read over the next year but at least I've started reading again. Why, did I want to read more? Well, the truth is I used to have a superpower. Wait, what? A superpower? Ummm, you are not Captain America, kiddo! Yes, I know, but nevertheless I did. I used to be this incredibly fast reader and thanks to that superpower I used to devour books. I easily read 2 books a day, and on weekends even more.  I could read an Agatha Christie in less than two hours!  I couldn't get enough of it. I also would remember everything I read. However, since moving  to Korea I've started watching a lot more TV and it took me a long time to notice but I lost my superpower. So, a warning to all the superheroes out there - if you don't practice with your superpower every day you lose it. This freaked me out and because I didn't know how to handle it, I retreated from books. Well, this year I am focusing on getting my superpower back. When I read now,  I need to fully commit. One of my favourite motivational blogs, Zenhabits, recently posted an article: The Delightfully Short Guide to Reading More Books and, boy, has it ever changed my life. I haven't followed all the steps yet but using the closet has definitely come in handy as has only reading books I enjoy. I think this last is something I have been struggling with. Reading new books is good but if I am not interested in the subject matter, the genre, or the book itself doesn't draw me in, I tend to plug along until I finish it but it takes me months to do so. Well, no more. 

Click here to read the rest of the post.

Monday, 9 February 2015

I stagger on instead.

As you know I transferred this blog to squarespace a year ago. From now on, I'm only going to post a section of the article here and link back to the original post.

I am currently on holiday. So far it has been a mix of the exciting, challenging, self-realisation, boredom, and struggle. The last two are no one's fault but my own and are both a consequence of figuring out somethings about myself. Things I don't necessarily like and I am struggling with tackling them. 
I caught a fish! I CAUGHT  a fish!  I CAUGHT A FISH!
I caught a fish! I CAUGHT  a fish!  I CAUGHT A FISH!
Before, I get into the rather heavy topic referenced above, what were the exciting challenges I set myself:
Two days before my holiday started I set myself the task of coming up with two dates. The first one was - start my date at 5pm by going to Sejong Lake Park at night, take a walk and watch the stars. I would follow that up with a creative night - art and cooking. My second date was to be a two night stay in the Ramada Hotel in Gangnam (you know, the area in Seoul  referenced by PSY in his hit song back in 2012, Gangnam Style), art museums and lots of good food. However, I also wanted to do something that would set the tone of my holiday. 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

We can share the myths, the dream, the prayer, The notion that we can do better

2015. Well, unlike a few years ago when I first started this blog, I'm way more passionate about resolutions. I've been reading a lot of blogs about minimalism, being healthy, getting your life in order, etc. As I tend to be a bit of a chaotic soul, I need some curtailment in my life! I want to improve my mind, my body, my soul this next year. These are my overall goals for the year. I will also add to this at different points in the year and I want to review this every month. For example, at the bottom of this page, I will list my goals in January. In February, I will review where I am on January's goals and revise as needed. My time in Korea is coming to an end and here are some of my goals and resolutions for the next year, in no particular order:

  1. Take a cooking class in Korea.
  2. Take a cooking class in Laos (I am going there for vacation in February).
  3. Take a cooking class in Ireland.
  4. Get some knife lessons. I could definitely use a brush up and lots of tips! 
  5. Try Speed Dating.
  6. Sign up and complete the CELTA.
  7. Get training to be an Adult Literacy Tutor.
  8. Organise a fundraiser for the House of Sharing.
  9. Do the Camino.
  10. Get my hair to a satisfactory healthy level.
  1. Read more. (I want to get to the healthy level of at least 2 books a week.)
  2. Write more on this blog.
  3. Cook more for my cooking blog and Sejong Dish.
  4. Waste less food.
  5. Spend less money in Homeplus (I have a severe weakness!)
  6. Walk more.
  7. Draw more.
  8. Go on more dates with myself.
  9. Wake up at 6.00 every day including weekends. At least once go outside to the roof to watch the sunrise. This one is hard but I'd like it to be achieved before I leave Korea. It will also help for the Camino in September. 
  10. Find a volunteer activity that I am passionate about. I have volunteered for different things over the years but I've never really found something I was 100% passionate about. I loved all the opportunities I have had but I never found the right fit for my time, energy and passion. Here's to some new opportunities.
  11. Drink more tea
  12. Take time to hangout more with my friends in Korea (and at home).
  13. Cook for my friends more often.
  14. Less TV/Computer/Phone time in the evenings. Try to turn it off at least 30 minutes before bed.
  15. Save money so that I'm not completely financially dependent on my family when I go home. 
  16. Keep in better contact with my friends in other countries (SKYPE dates!). 
  17. Go to bed earlier. Basically, get more sleep.
  18. Make my bed everyday. I hate this exercise but it's a good one to get into the habit of doing!
January 2015
  • Organise two dates for when I am on vacation and complete them.
  • Make bed everyday
  • Read more
PS Title from this post is taken from Tracy Chapman's "New Beginning"

And I'm a million different people from one day to the next

View from the hill in Sejong
On the weekend of the 14th and 15th November,  most of the Waygook population of Jochiwon had disappeared to visit the DMZ on a culture trip. I wasn't able to join them as my second school needed me there. And, while, I'd have loved to have visited the DMZ, this weekend was a great one in terms of personal growth for me.  How so, you might ask? Well, I went on a date! With myself. I guess I should clarify that asap, just in case!
I started as soon as I got off the bus. I went to Misoya,which is a Japanese chain restaurant downtown,and had some sushi and read "The Runaway Jury" by John Grisham. Eventually, I made my way home where I ignored the chaos of my home and plopped on the bed with a large glass of wine and some biscuits to watch "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug".  I should take this opportunity to announce I am a HUGE Tolkien fan. I have read "The Hobbit" probably  ten times and the LOTR at least as many times. I have also read "The Similarion", "The Children of Hurin" and  a very long time ago I also read "Unfinished Tales",  I think. It was a long time ago so I could be mistaken! I will also say that I did enjoy the LOTR movies. I felt Jackson, and the cast, captured how I viewed Middle-earth and, whilst there were flaws, overall it was a decent attempt. "The Hobbit" though, thoroughly frustrated me. I will still see the last movie but this is not "The Hobbit". I spent much of my time  seething at the changes and the total underuse of the the maginificent Martin Freeman and, indeed, the main character of the story: Bilbo Baggins. Further,  Beorn was the biggest feck up ever! He is nothing, visually like his literary counterpart, and his behaviour and character are incredibly different. He was one of the characters  I had been most looking forward to seeing realised on screen and I was incredibly disappointed. I really felt that I could handle the stupid love triangle they have going on but Beorn was an atrocity! 
Anyway, this post is not supposed to be a review of the movies but a story about my date so I will, with much reluctance, move on. In the morning I repaired to Plan B for Minty-Hot Chocolate loaded with cream and some honey bread. Similar to my first date, I dressed up in a nice dress, made my hair all pretty, slapped on some mascara and a pair of pretty earrings that I picked up in Vietnam. I continued reading Runaway Jury and I took the obligatory selfie at least five times. 
Down by the river, a moment of calm
Down by the river, a moment of calm
The bridge my bus crosses Tue and Fri
The bridge my bus crosses Tue and Fri
Pathway and resting spot
Pathway and resting spot
Excavation site
Excavation site
This rooftop you could go on. Nice views!
This rooftop you could go on. Nice views!
Nasi Goreng
Nasi Goreng
Around 1pm, I made my way to Sejong City as I decided on an exploration day. I've been putting it off for more than a year and I really wanted to see what my city had on offer. I mostly kept out doors, spending time at the river and walking on the hills behind the apartments and schools. On top of one hill was a small excavation site. You could also go and sit on the roof of building that the hill was adjacent to. That was really nice and quite relaxing. Around 4pm, I decided I was getting hungry as no lunch made for a starving Maggie. I pulled my coats, scarves and bags together and proceeded to make my way to Mekong Thai for Nasi Goreng, some Vietnamese Cha Gio and the "scary" goal of this date - to have a meal without my phone or book to assist me. 
Man, that was hard. I was trying to plan a discussion I was having with some friends the next day but my brain couldn't concentrate. It kept flicking about as the waiters, chefs and staff were at the table next to mine and kept staring over at me. Instead of concentrating on what I wanted to discuss, my brain kept saying things like "Oh, poor girl! No boyfriend" or "Does she have any friends?" I honestly have no idea how I survived and when I finally got my brain to concentrate it wanted to concentrate on NEXT year. Well, at least it helped me to come to a decision. A tough one but one that I had been debating for a while. As readers of this blog already know, I am leaving Korea at the end of this contract. Instead I will move home to Ireland to further my studies (hoping to do the CELTA) and prepare to go to Spain to complete the Camino. I also am going to do the Trans-Siberian Railway for two weeks. Well, at least that was the plan. My brain, once it calmed down, informed me that I would be jobless and I really couldn't condone going on that journey when I probably wouldn't be able to buy myself a cup of tea without borrowing money from my Mam. It was a really bitter truth pill for me to swallow. I really like gallivanting off and experiencing new and exciting things. And I love trains. My heart felt like it was broken but I realised, upon further reflection, it's not. I will get to do that amazing journey and I will be able to have that amazing adventure once I have another job and the Trans-Siberian Railway is going to be my first stop. 
When I left and made my way home to Jochiwon, an overwhelming sense of pride overcame me - I rarely feel like an adult. I tend to feel like an 18 year old trapped in the body of a 30+ year old trying to make adult decisions and being expected to make adult decisions that I don't really know are the right decisions. But on that day, I felt like an adult. I felt mature, responsible and incredibly proud of choosing to follow my brain and not my heart. Growing up is hard to do but knowing that I made a smart decision to postpone a dream until I am financially stable is as a huge achievement for me. 
The only thing that marred an otherwise lovely date was a guy that I met while waiting for the bus on the way to Mekong Thai. I wasn't sure of the time for the 620 and what the name of the stop would be to get for Mekong Thai so I was looking at the route for the bus when one of my fellow waiting passengers interrupted me to ask me where I was going. I told him the Lake Park and he didn't know where it was. I told him that was okay because I get this bus everyday, I just wasn't sure of the stop (I usually fall asleep the minute I get on the bus only waking when I reach my destination!). We got to talking and at first I thought he was a nice guy as he told me he was a student, living in Sejong and that his English was so good because he had lived in America as a child (disclaimer: he said that, not wasn't as excellent as many other Koreans I've met) and that he was a pianist. I told him I love hearing the piano and then he abruptly changed topics to ask me if I'd ever been to America. I told him that I had and so he asked me if I was ever in Las Vegas. I told him no, only for him to inform me that Las Vegas is a very dangerous place. I told him I'd never heard that but assumed he was basing this on CSI (seriously, that show is on TV here all the time, it's a legitimate leap). He then informed me Las Vegas is dangerous because all the black people have guns. I couldn't believe my ears. My bus was pulling up as he made this outrageous sentiment and I quickly informed him as I got in line to board that I have many friends who are black and don't have guns. Of those friends, many frown on the overuse of guns in society as it is. He seemed taken aback and I would have liked to continue the discussion only he didn't get on the bus with me. I hope that I made someone realise that making idiotic statements that are not backed up by actual fact is a dumb thing to do especially when you do it to someone who knows more than you. Secondly, I really hope that I gave him pause and that he realises that make blanket assumptions that all black people are criminals is a stupid lie. I also hope that maybe he gets to meet some really great people of different races and backgrounds that challenge him to see the world through new perspectives and that someday he will challenge someone else's dangerous assumption.
So you might think I'm mad to have given up a bit of a dream in favour of financial stability but honestly, I really want to go for a cup of tea with my friends when I get home. I want to reconnect and be able to pay my own way to do so. I really miss them so putting off the Trans Siberian Railway, while difficult, is manageable on reflection. I feel like in one day I travelled so far that I a million times different than I was when I set out to Sejong. And that's a great feeling. 
*Sorry this is so late I have been sick since the 23 of November - cold after cold after cold so I've  been spending very little time doing anything but sleeping. I obviously never reached my date quota but that's okay there is always next year! I am planning one for Sunday, 4 Jan as I type! Until next time and a very Happy New Year to you all. 
PS The title of this post is taken from The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony".