Stumbling towards something better

As I was nearing 13 kilometers, my longest run since my half marathon in May, I caught my toe on the curb and stumbled into a superman dive. I would like to think it was the dive of a superhero, and that’s why I walked away with just a few scrapes and bruises. Lately, I do feel like I have super human powers as I juggle my three jobs, but today, as I nurse my wounds, I’m realizing that I can’t do it all. I need to stumble towards something better.

Honestly, it wasn’t just today that I had this realization. It’s been building up. I guess it started a few months ago when I bought a Hallmark birthday card, just because it spoke to me. “The little things in life are the big things.” Inside it reads, “Happy Birthday to someone who’s always known that.” It sits on my kitchen table, a daily reminder to appreciate all the wonderful little things, and to remember that my decisions, no matter how little, will lead to something bigger.  A series of decisions have led me back to where I was a year ago.  Indeed, it is bigger – more responsibilities, more challenges. Both are good, but my work-life balance is going out the window. And when I do indulge in things that bring me joy, like running or spending time with loved ones, I feel guilty because I am thinking about work or receiving work-related texts.  I know I shouldn’t whine – we all go through periods like this, right? And I chose this. Even though I knew it wouldn’t bring me joy-money-flow, I chose it.

What is this “Joy – Money – Flow” formula? Back to the build up of my realization. Last month, on a day that I was feeling particularly frustrated, I took an extra long lunch at a bookstore.  Chris Guillebeau’s, Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant To Do (The Crown Publishing Group, 2016) spoke to me, so I bought it. (Just so you know, I don’t buy everything that speaks to me!) I loved his $100 Startup (The Crown Publishing Group, 2012), so I thought I could also gain some inspiration from this book. Tonight I finally dove in.  In Born for This, Chris outlines his formula for what we should be looking for in a career, as follows:

  • Something that makes us happy (joy)
  • Something that’s financially viable (money)
  • Something that maximizes our unique skills (flow)

This combination always seems to allude me. I’ve been lucky enough to have work that has brought me the joy and flow, but the money rarely follows. When I was younger and living in the East, I was able to let this slide as the cost of living was cheaper and I was still developing my skills. However, now that I am older and living in the West, the money part is a key ingredient for stumbling towards something better.

It goes beyond the money. I want to feel valued, and know that my work makes a positive impact. I want to build a full life for myself, a life in which I am more than my career, where I can cultivate my hobbies and develop my skills, and  be there for those who matter to me. My superman dive, my brush with the unforgiving pavement, has made me realize that I am not super human, and that I need to find my balance and a space where I have Joy-Money-Flow. I may stumble towards something better slowly, but I need to make a move in that direction.  “The little things in life are the big things.”

But sometimes we can’t and that’s OK!

 

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Status update: Everybody loves love

I changed my Facebook status from ‘Single’ to ‘In a Relationship’ 24 hours ago, and so far I have received 71 reactions – mainly thumbs ups, but a few hearts too. The funny thing is, I didn’t intend it to go public in the newsfeed.  As I was updating my ‘Education’ and ‘Employment’, I noticed that my relationship status had expired some time ago. In the spirit of honesty, I updated it. Then I saw it in the feed, and little notifications started popping up and a few comments too. (My favourite comment so far has been “What??? I want mooorrreee.”) The introvert in me is debating taking it down. (This is my relationship. I’m not sharing the juicy details!) But the nerdy me, who once upon a time updated Facebook regularly, has kept the post up. My reasoning, everybody loves love. I’m already sharing my love on Instagram. Why not celebrate my happiness and ‘In a Relationship’ status with the Facebook world?! More love, less fake news.

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Quarterly Resolutions

It’s never too late to make New Year’s Resolutions….or is it?  Maybe these should be my quarterly resolutions, as we are a quarter of the way through the year. The first three months of 2017 have gone by in the blink of an eye, and to be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve been very productive. I’ve managed to start a handful of books, and just completed one tonight, and I’ve had a week off my marathon training, and am nursing a two day old cold. This cold has got me tired and rethinking my priorities. So, before I lose this urge to write, I am going to share my resolutions for the next three months.

  1. Read more. Last year I started instagramming all the books I finished, and making lists of the books I had read and wanted to read in goodreads.  For a while, these apps kept me on track, but then I fell into my old habit of reading too many books at once, and not finishing any of them. And Netflix and cable TV did not help in my literary pursuit. Tonight I finished my first book of 2017 – a true crime, Deadmonton! It’s a small victory, but I hope it will motivate me to read more. My cable has also been cut off, so I have one less distraction.
  2. Stop apologizing and be more direct.  I’ve spent most of my life saying sorry for things that are often not my fault. I’ve spent most of my life stumbling to get what I want because I don’t speak my mind. In my professional and personal life, I have suffered the consequences of this passive behaviour. Today I stopped myself from apologizing to my late student, and informed her that I would charge her for the full session, even though she was 30 minutes late. And you know what? It was easier than I thought, and empowering too. Going forward, I will only apologize when I am in the wrong, and be more direct about what I want.
  3. Make weekly to-do lists. Sometimes I fall into an unproductive rut. I become overwhelmed by the exhaustive lists I write in my head. Although I use an online calendar, I like to breakdown my tasks even more. I’ve started printing out a weekly list that includes things like “lesson preparation”, “go for a run” , “do laundry”, “arrange social activities”, “write a blog post”, “read a book”, “grocery shopping” , and much more. After I complete these tasks, I can check them off and feel a sense of small accomplishment.  I schedule and edit my activities on this Excel sheet, but Coach.me is a great app for checking in, too.
  4.   Write More.  It’s been nearly four months since I updated my blog. My emails are getting poetic, and this is a sign that I need to let my creativity out. I’ve started  reading Eat, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Profile Books, 2003) by Lynn Truss and Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (W.W. Norton & Company, 2016) by Mary Norris.  I tuned into Michael Hyatt‘s online webinar, The Busy Person’s Guide to Writing a Book the other week.  I love writing….I do. I do want to write a book one day, but I am a procrastinator and a perfectionist, who is too timid (lazy?) to get serious about it.  Anyhow, I want to write more, so I will write more.

Since this is my quarterly list, I’ve kept it short and sweet. I find resolutions are more digestible in small bites. What are your quarterly resolutions?

NaBloPoMo: Why I Stopped Posting

NaBloPoMo was supposed to go differently – I was supposed to write everyday for the month of November in the spirit of National Blog Posting Month, but  instead I stopped writing and posting on Day 7. The month was going to be about writing in the here and now, and my intentions were to write from Victoria, Vancouver, Bangkok, and some other Thai city.  I  managed to blog from Canada, but then I boarded an airplane bound for Thailand and something happened. There were a bunch of forces that transpired against me; I decided to give in to the here and now, and just live life without blogging about it.

So, why did I stop writing? Why did I stop posting for NaBloPoMo 2016?  Why was I able to post through my 2014 breakup and make it to Day 19 in 2015? What was different about NaBloPoMo 2016?  Why did I drop the ball on Day 8?  I’ve been asking myself these questions, and have come up with some reasons/excuses.

  1. I was told not to write.  On November 8th, while enroute to Guangzhou, I was told repeatedly to turn off my device.  I was mid-way through my post titled, “Giving up my seat for Love”, when the flight attendant spotted me. Stuck between a Bali-bound drinker and a China-bound meditator, I thought I would discretely get some writing in, since I no longer had the luxury of leaning my head against the window. The elderly man in front of me was now leaning his head against the window, as his wife rested her head on his shoulder.  Before the plane had taken-off, through hand-gestures and smiles, I had given up my window seat to this couple. No regrets, but I wasn’t going to just shut off my device with a smile. Well, I did shut it off momentarily, then she caught me again, and I reasoned that my phone was on airplane mode, but she countered that it could still receive calls.  I just looked at her, ready to continue the debate, but then she said, staring at me coldly, “It’s the law.”  With that, I had a flash of prison in China, and powered my device off, forgetting to save my work in progress.
  2. Jetlag hit me. I spent half the month of November in a jetlag induced brain fog. For my first week in Bangkok, I was up before 6am everyday, napping every afternoon, and in bed before 9pm. During my awake hours, I had no desire to sit in front of a screen. I wanted to eat Thai fruit, lounge by the pool, ride motorcycle taxis, hang out with friends, read books, and just enjoy my old Thai life.  Once back in Canada, I was hit with another week of jetlag, and just wanted to enjoy my life here in my sleep-deprived fog. I was a space cadet that was fit to decorate a Christmas tree, but not her blog, with random foggy thoughts.
  3. I felt that I had to censor my writing. I’ve never felt this way before.  My blog is quite tame — I think the most risqué thing I ‘ve ever written about was in Thailand Firsts. However, while I was in Thailand, I made NaBloPoMo Day 3 private at the request of someone close to me.  It was a heartfelt letter that sprung from the prompt, “If you could be completely honest with no regrets, what would you say and to whom?” Funny, I always believed this special person never read my blog. Turns out I was wrong, and after a sleepless night, I moved that post to ‘private’ and emailed her. At this point, I had already decided not to carry on with NaBloPoMo, but this just sealed it.  I want to be able to write freely on my blog.
  4. The heat made me cranky.  The Thai heat did not inspire me to write. I managed to get two 5-kilometer runs in, and then decided swimming would be my new form of exercise. Cooling off in the pool made me calm, but I had zero patience for trying to write a blog post on my cellphone. I could just imagine a bunch of posts that would start the exact  same way, “I’m melting….”
  5. Blogging was not part of my Thai life.  I lived in Thailand for a long time — it will always be a big part of who I am. I was never one of those expats that blogs about all the crazy things that happen living abroad. Thailand was my home, my life was there — it wasn’t crazy. It was when I moved back to the West that I felt off balance and started blogging.  In the spirit of revisiting my Thai life, I didn’t want to blog — I wanted to just be there. I visited my old neighbourhoods, took the bus out to my old university, caught up with my old friends, and enjoyed the simple things — eating fresh mango, speaking Thai, getting a pedicure, floating my krathong. Being back made me realize that Thailand will always have a place in my heart, but it is no longer where my home is.

Those are my reasons, my excuses, for not posting during NaBloPoMo.  Instead of being disappointed with myself because I didn’t post everyday for the month of November, I’m going to rejoice in the November I had to just be in the here and now.  In saying this,  my hat does go off to all the bloggers out there who didn’t stop posting.  It’s not easy — it takes incredible discipline. Well done — I will join you another year :).

Thai house

 

NaBloPoMo Day 6: Vancouver Fun

NaBloPoMo Day 6, Vancouver, 11:19pm

I’m trying to get this in just under the wire. After a day of traveling, eating Peruvian food, and walking through Gastown in Vancouver, the last thing I want to be doing is blogging. It’s especially difficult knowing that an alfajor (Peruvian caramel cream filled  cookie) is on the nightstand waiting to be eaten. 

Remember I said this November blogging would be from the heart in the here and now? Well, right now I’m out of words to describe my recent happiness. I just want to soak up the next two days before I’m off to Thailand for two weeks. So, I’ll leave you with some photos from my day :).

On the way to Vancover…
Peruvian dinner in Gastown
Gastown Steam clock

Saturday Birthday Party?

Day 5, 9:41pm, Victoria

Here I am again writing from my phone. Love technology! I’m on my way to a birthday party for someone I don’t know. Why? She’ s a friend of my new guy. Yeah, I really like him. For an introvert, this is huge. 

I’m a bit of a stress ball right now. We’re going to Vancouver tomorrow, and then I’m off to Thailand on Tuesday. I’m not as excited as I should be….not sure why. I am all packed, but feel like I’m forgetting something. 

Ok…..off to the party. Good night, NaBloPoMo Day 5!

Friday Night

I’m writing a new story to my Fridays. Tonight I went to prison, but it’s not what you think. We went on a date; every year the inmates perform a play- this year it was the Sleeping Giants. 

Anyhow, the play is over and now we’re enjoying chocolate pudding and pisco at The Livet. I’m also being anti social because Im typing this as my date patiently moves a strand of hair behind my ear, and waits for me to publish this. 

Happy NaBloPoMo Day 4!

NaBloPoMo Day 2: I Wanna Go

Hello, NaBloPoMo Day 2! You’ve come so soon, and all I wanna do is chill with my new favourite TV show, This is Us, but I’m here instead. My day was long and busy, filled with trip preparations, conversation club, and an 8 Km run with my run group. I’m ready for an early night.

Day 2, Victoria, 9:12 pm

NaBloPoMo Prompt: When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?

This is so subjective. Since I’m nodding off as I type this, I’m going to do something brave right now. I’m going to tell that little perfectionist voice in my head to go to bed. This does not have to be a stellar post. You have had a long, productive day and deserve a break. It’s okay. You’re going to hit publish, then brush your teeth, and turn out the lights.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with my latest musical crush, Yuna. I wanna go……to bed.

 

Me, Myself, and My Running Shoes

It’s National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) again, and I’ll be posting everyday for the month of November. I know I only made it to Day 19 last year, but I promise this year will be different. It will be like 2014 when I stuck it out for the whole 30 days, but this time I will not be dissecting my life abroad in Thailand and South Korea, or my crippling (sometimes humorous) breakup in my home country. This year I’ll be writing to you from Victoria, Vancouver and Bangkok, with no game plan. All I can promise is that I’ll be blogging from my heart in the here and now.

Day 1, Victoria, 7pm

NaBloPoMo Prompt:  “When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?”

I go to my running shoes — they understand. They don’t ask questions, they just hug my feet and push me out the door. Together we chase the bad days away. They remind me that I’m strong and that I can handle the road ahead. They bring me to the here and now. The breeze on my face, the tunes in my ears, the breath from my lungs, the peace of mind, and the realization that everything is going to be okay, all come to me when I’m with my running shoes. That argument, that rejection, that failed exam, those canceled plans, all seem somewhat trivial after some quality time together. I’m inspired to move forward, not just out on the pavement, but on all the paths that make up my life. My bad days suddenly turn a little brighter, even on those rainy runs.

And running doesn’t just brighten my bad days, it turns my good days to great days, and my ‘meh’ days to better days. It’s the best mood enhancer out there, and I’ve yet to discover any negative side effects. So far the side effects have included new friendships, greater mental clarity, better blog posts, fewer colds, more restful sleep, and a stronger sense of self.  So, when my mental health is not where it should be, I lace up and  run, run until I feel that I’m ready to come home and see my world in a new light.

Awesome Memoir on Running!
Awesome Memoir on Running!