Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holy Bloggerton Batman! It's another post!

Greetings Dear Readers!

It's the first day of December and I'm feeling rather chipper--I finished my grading earlier than I had anticipated, worked on a few more projects for school, and have had a great amount of coffee! Carpe Diem? HA! Carpe Caffeine!

But here I am, on a glorious Thursday morning...ish...drinking coffee at my local Starbucks (as if I'd be any place else) and Fleet Foxes has come on the sound system. Sounds like a good day to me.

What's going on with the book, you ask? didn't ask? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway.

Things are moving along--I had a meeting yesterday with my team and we are considering splitting the novel into two books for marketing purposes. This will also give me more time to write the second (or really, if the split happens the third) installment of the series, making the series longer. There are a lot of pros and cons that need to be weighed but ultimately we will decide what's to happen soon. I'll keep you posted.

It's getting colder these days (you know, December and all that) and it seems that Fall fell flat on it's face. Too much soju, I presume. But with winter upon us, I'm doing my best to stay warm. I don't generally get cold very easily but the word around the campfire is that this one is going to be a doozy---a frozen doozy. Hopefully my winters spent in Chicago will have prepared me for it--God knows Florida didn't. Hehehe

Considering the fact that I haven't written here in quite sometime (save for my election post last month), allow me to briefly catch you up on my 2016...

January-- I had the worst sinus infection of my life while I was visiting Florida. But I got to see my family and even the extended family from Massachusetts came down for a spell.

February--Not much happened here save for a conversation with Kat that sparked something big: A European Vacay! I was lamenting to Kat that my birthday was going to land ON Chuseok day (Korean Thanksgiving for those outside of the ROK) this year. It went a little something like this:
Me: OMG! My birthday is going to be on Chuseok day! No one will come to celebrate my birthday this year because most of my ex-pat people will probably travel and both you and Annie will be with your families."
Kat: Actually I'm going to be in Europe.
Me: Well, fine. You're going to be in Europe.
Kat: Yeah. I'll be on a cruise and I'll be docking into Rome on your birthday--it's the final destination.
Me: ...Cool...
Kat: Hey! You have vacation time, yeah? Come meet me!

March--Hey! Wrote the second blog post of the year... Go read it if you haven't. It's cool. I'll wait.
Around this time I started helping my cousin's boyfriend's father (Mike) with a story he wrote. Just wanted another pair of eyes and some small editing and it rather rejuvenated me after finishing the book back in December '15. He and his family live in Athens and offered to treat me if ever I was in the area.

April-- Talked with Kat about meeting up in Rome. She asked where else I wanted to travel and of course I said a Greek island. My mother would disown me if I went to Italy and not anywhere near Greece. Since Kat had already been to Santorini, I suggested Crete as I have friends who frequently travel there from England, and my mom has been there once before.

While I was in Chicago for Christmas, I met up with my dear friend h. and she and I had a lunch date. Since she is a writer, I poured my heart and brain out to her about how I was at my wits end with the ending of the novel. In just talking to her, I was able to figure out a new ending by shifting things around and BOOM! I had my ending. I am eternally grateful for that lunch date and her--but I realized that something was missing. I didn't have writer friends in Seoul. I had joined a writers group called Seoul Writers' Collective back in July of 2015 but only went to one meeting because I was incredibly busy editing and couldn't devote the time.
Once I came back to Seoul, I decided it was time to get active again. I saw two announcements for workshops with the group but for some reason couldn't make it to the meetings. Finally, a message was sent out to all of the members of this meet up group in April--the organizer was stepping down and unless someone took it over in ten days, the group would be finished.

So, after attending one meeting prior, I stepped up as the organizer.

May--Itinerary was on it's way to being finalized--2 full days in Rome, 5 days in Crete, 1 day in Athens, and then back to Seoul.

Also, had my first meet up with the Seoul Writers' Collective (SWC). Boy was I ever green, but I put on my game face and powered through. ^^

I believe this was when I finally came to Wordsmiths to perform--and boy, that was amazing. I've performed twice now and the reception has always been so positive. ^~^


July--Robyn came to teach for the summer! I had a great time reconnecting with her and trying to dodge the heat. I met some really amazing people in Chungcheong and we bonded over good food, writing, and copious amounts of laughter.


September-- Happy Birthday to MEE! Had a fabulous few days in Rome, an AH-MAY-ZING time in Crete, and connected with my roots in Athens. Kat and I finally got to meet Nathalie's husband, Drew, on our last day in Rome and he is just such a delight. The architecture and city of Rome is just breathtaking. I will return for sure and dive deeper on my next visit.
We flew from Rome to Crete but had a 7.5 hour layover in Athens. So Mike, my cousin's boyfriend's father (can there be a longer identifier? yeeesh) offered to pick us up at the airport, allow us to freshen up, have a light Greek lunch and then relax until our flight for Crete. A. Light. Greek. Lunch. LIGHT. Mike's family went all out for us--homemade moussaka, Greek salad (with olives from their groves and made oil they made), sausages, pork chops, rice, AND dessert. LIGHT. GREEK. LUNCH. He said. Aiiiigooo! Incidentally my cousin Kathryn (who lives with my mom and stepfather in Chicago) was visiting Andreas (the boyfriend) and they picked us up from the airport and I got to spend time with my family in another country, which was weird but very cool.
Crete was absolutely beautiful and much needed after all the traveling and running around we did in Rome. Nothing was planned save for a winery tour and a trip to Elafonissi Beach. We stayed in Chania (pronounced Han-ya, because Greek) in a house from AirBNB that was super close to the port. Kathryn and Andreas came to Crete a few days later and we all hung out again, so that was nice.^^
Once we reached Athens, I was kinda surprised at how dirty the city is. But when I saw the ruins, I was overcome with emotion. They were absolutely stunning. I won't lie, I cried a bit--I thought about how long it took me to get to Greece and how I made it happen by myself, for myself. And I released those tears because I knew I had given myself a great gift.

I got sick when I came back from Athens--too much flying about in metal tubes, I assume. But I nursed myself back to help rather quickly. Here are some photos from the trip.. ^^

October-- After the culmination of going to Europe, everything seems to pale in comparison. I continued organizing the SWC and have been improving in my leadership skills. Yay for professional development! ^^
Also--Yay for the Cubs! Who knew!?

November--Ahh...And then there was November. Which to be honest, kinda sucked, save for Thanksgiving. The election really sucked a lot of positivity out of me and I'm doing my best to recover, cuz I gotta be on my grind, as it were. In November, the book team proposed that we split the book and now we're in deep consideration. We'll probably know the definitive answer come December.

In other writing news, in November I took on the role of Editor-in-Chief for Nexcite Magazine, a new community magazine that will have its first issue out in January 2017. If you're in the Yongsan area during January, pick one up and read my editorial page! tee hee hee

And December! Here we are. On the 10th, Annie--THE bestie, will be celebrating her birthday at Bennett's Bar in Itaewon and also holding a female empowerment event called #THATSMYBAG Exhibition. I'm super pumped about it! Basically, 130 blank canvas eco bags have been given to women all over Seoul and they are going to decorate them in the theme of "Female Empowerment."
At 8 pm on December 10th, we are displaying the bags so everyone can see them. Then we head to Ming for the afterparty. It's gonna be a good night. ^^ If you're in Seoul, Please come! It's not just an event for women--men are always invited. Empowering women doesn't take away power from men--but actually frees us all of a patriarchal mindset of what we HAVE to be. Allies and partners are the way to succeed in this ^~^

Also, Christmas. I love Christmas! As I said in an earlier blog post, it's a reminder of good things that are coming. And I can't wait for the good!

So there you have it folks. The year in review--there was a lot of growth for me, both professionally and personally. I've gone from completing the novel, organizing a writing workshop group, traveling, becoming an editor AND being a senior teacher/community liaison at my hagwon.

So yeah...things are good.

How are you? ;)

Love and Light.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Wanted: A Ray of Hope

In the wake of this election, I have been going through a lot of emotions. I'm a teacher, so I have to keep up a happy face at work, when all I want to do is kick, and scream, and shout. My friends have been a God-send to me but ultimately they cannot take away the burden of what I'm feeling.

I'm afraid. I'm really afraid. I'm afraid for my brothers and sisters throughout the world who are LBGT+, Muslims, and minorities. I'm afraid for women. I'm afraid for anyone who is going to be on the list of Trump's agenda. The whole rhetoric of "First they came for the socialists," keeps ringing in my ears. These are terrifying times.

And I really, really want to give you hope, dear reader. But I'm looking around and I'm not finding anything to give you that will satisfy the hunger in your belly. And I'm sorry.

Aside from the American political hole we're in, Korea is also dealing with their own presidential woes. If you haven't read about it, you can do so here. So yeah, it's been a very edgy few weeks, to put it mildly.

And yes, I always tend to get tremendously homesick around this time of year. Thanksgiving was always a great holiday for my family and I miss them. Maybe next year I will finagle a trip home for Thanksgiving--we'll see. ^^

So yeah.

I've been a little depressed, to say the least. And I've been keeping myself there because I was just so exhausted. I even told a friend this: "I'm sad for this election. I'm sad for Korea. I'm sad because I'm trying to find something to be hopeful about. I'm sad because I'm lashing out at people for stupid things. I'm sad because I feel too much and if I begin to express any of it, I'm told to toughen up. I just need time to deal with it all, I guess. And I'm not afforded that."

Yeah... you were guessing that was coming, huh?

But you know, I'm just exhausted from feeling this way. And I've been looking for hope in any place I could find it.

And then my dear friend Yv posted something on IG:

And I was reminded. Christmas is coming!

When I was a little girl, I would tell my mom that I wanted something and she would respond in a sing songy voice, "Christmas is Coming!" And yeah, maybe it was not so satisfying hearing that at a young age because I really wanted whatever it was that was going to prove my worth to my peers. But now? Hearing it reminds me that something better is coming.

Seeing the Rockerfeller tree coming down the street on a big semi, it reminds me that no matter what, there is goodness. There is connection. There are families. There is a city that will come together and sing songs. And for me personally, it's a reminder that I have a Savior and I will celebrate His birth. And in times like these, my faith is what I need to cling to.
So there it is, my ray of "hope." My "yes we can." My "change I can believe in." And that's how I can move "forward."

Love and Light to you all.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hello From the Other Side. . .

Hello . . . It' me . . . I was wondering if after these ten months you'd still be reading.

Yes. Hello from the other side indeed.

So yeah. It's been ten months since I've written to you, and I promise it has been for good reason why I've been away. Teaching took a lot of my time, as it usually does, and I met a plethora of amazing people last year who have kept me busy. I spent most of my writing time simply editing the final draft of the novel, and I went home for the holidays. That's simply the overview--let's dive deeper, shall we?

I had amazing students last year and they really helped me to learn so much more about education. I've found that I become better when I simply ask questions and listen to my students--at all ages, they are truly brilliant and are honest in how they feel about their lives. I have always been fascinated by peoples' stories--who they are, why they are, where they've been and what they will become. I love it! Perhaps thats one of the reasons why I listen to so many story based podcasts (This American Life, Snap Judgement, etc). I love those snippets of human existence--especially for the connection found through stories. I recently discovered Alec Baldwin's podcast entitled "Here's the Thing." I really like his podcast because he interviews really interesting people (celebrities, policy makers, writers, etc) and has real and open conversations with them. Plus, hello, it's Alec Baldwin--King of voices!

Speaking of stories (Nice transition, eh?), I FINISHED IT! I FINISHED THE BOOK! Okay. Sorry. Yes, so I finished the novel I've been writing for four and a half years. I completed it on December 31st--as was my deadline and I would be remiss if I didn't thank Holly (h. Anne Stoj) for her help on the final part. I was struggling (as all writers do) with how to end the first book and while having lunch, I finally figured out how the book was supposed to end. Through this whole process, I of course have to thank Ben Hauser, Lee Rose, Jeff Yu-Cho, Mee Joo Rose, Dan Ryu, Marilyn Rose and Bill Hauser for their guidance and expertise in this. It's been quite a journey of self discovery that was not without a lot tears and gritting of teeth.

Writing a book is not easy--and anyone who says otherwise is either selling something or fooling themselves. It is a journey that many never finish, but when you do, you realize how greatly you have dared and you hold your head high yet low enough to remain humble. It's like nothing else I have ever felt--and before I finished this book, I would have never imagined it would feel this. I assumed I would feel relief, resting in the fact that it is done. But quite the opposite. I feel invigorated. Now it's just a last run through of grammar spot checking and making sure the plot flows. I'm excited to think about how I will move forward into the next book, but I am still happy about enjoying the time that I have to write to you here.

I realized a few things while writing this book--and if I could give you unsolicited advice, it would be to make sure you have a support system. Fill it with writers as well as readers. Lean on them and support them too. Now that I finished the first book, and before I go into writing the second book, I am going to make more of an effort to find other writers in the expat community and really make some strong connections. There is a writer meet up that happens in Seoul every few weeks so I plan on being more involved with that group to bounce off ideas and be a resource to them as well. You never know were inspiration will come from--you just have to put yourself out there and work hard to make something happen.

All in all, 2015 was a year of strides for me, and I hope it was for you as well. I feel like 2016 is going to be even more exciting and i'm excited to see what I will write in each month/chapter. ^~^

Happy 2016, my dear readers! Love and Light to you all!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Updates from 2014-2015. The Book. And Marriage.

No, not my marriage. Don't get nervous. ^^

It seems that every time I come back to this space, I am in a mood to apologize and promise. Apologize for spending so much time away. Promise that I will be better. And yet, here we are, again. I'm sorry. I'll try to do better.

Life, as you all know, tends to get in the way of blogging. And unless you're passion is this form of written entertainment, have a lot of time. or are considering this your ticket to fame and (mis)fortune, there isn't much one can do about it.

I enjoy writing on this platform so that my dear friends back home can view my thoughts on life in Korea or just simply catch up by reading instead of figuring out times tables to coordinate phone calls. I'd like to see that added to an SAT question:
If your friend lives in Korea, and you live in an state that is in the EST district, how long will it be till one of you figures out how to set up a time and actually talk?

Hahah I don't know what I'd do without my iPhone's "world clock" but sometimes I still mess it up, because I was an English major and doing any sort of math is like slaying a dragon of sorts. Besides, what are calculators for?

This, of course, is not a rant at my friends who I haven't talked to in a while. Far from it. Just mere observations on my end about my inability to write to you on this here bloggity blog and pick up a phone.

So that being said . . .


Things have been pretty busy since I last wrote to you all in **cough cough** July. . .(아이고)

So let's see. Still teaching. Still editing. Still loving Korea. I chopped my hair off again and dyed it blond. Finally updated my beat up, ratchety iPhone 4S and got the new iPhone 6 Plus...and I love it. I've been doing lots of work on me: meditation, prayer, spiritual reading, podcasts and the like. I'm learning lots of things about me and how to love me--which I know sounds strange, but trust. It's been a struggle for many years.

Aside from that, one of my favorite people on the planet, Sweet B, came to Seoul last year to work at the hagwon's summer camp. It was absolutely fabulous (wink!) and we had a great time reconnecting and just living it up as only Pats and Eddy could. I miss her everyday and while I know that we will always be friends, its hard to not see your favorite people more often.

There were some comings and goings of friends--which is only natural. Some were just naturally ready to leave Korea and I wish them all the love and support in their new ventures. Others left my life for other reasons, but all's well that ends well. ^^

And then there is the book. Ah. Yes. Zee book.

The book has been going well-it is just a long one, over 200 word doc pages at the moment and there is lots to edit. My mom had actually called me about it and said "Be honest," which is her way of calling me out. "You haven't written anything, have you?" Books take a long time to write and an even longer time to edit. I want it to be successful. I want this to do well. I've gone to two different fortune tellers in Korea who have told my book is going to be huge and I'll be famous (YAY!) they also said that I will be married within two years. So watch for that too. ㅋㅋㅋ

Speaking of marriage---2015 seems to be the year of matrimony, and here I thought it was the year of the Sheep. So many of my friends here are getting married! Lee and Mee Joo got hitched last month (Lee works for both the hagwon I teach at as well as a key member to ProtoStar, who is making my whole book deal possible) and his lovely bride Mee Joo (MJ for short) is my editor. Much love and happiness to the both of them on their new adventure together.

My friends Sarah and Kyu Ho are getting married in like two weeks. If you haven't checked out their youtube and Instagram accounts, I don't know what you're waiting for. Consider this your formal invitation. Get on it.

On the same day that Sarah and Kyu get married, my friends Nik and Jiyi are getting married. At the same time. Jeeeez.

Then at the end of this month, two friends who have been together for over ten years are finally going to stroll down the aisle after getting the nod from her parents! Sometimes Korea can be a pretty conservative place. As fast as it has grown up, the country struggles to embrace the future while holding tight to their traditions. But as in every Disney faerie tale, True Love Conquers All! Huzzah!

Anywho...that's about all I got. I have to get back to editing and grading so I can enjoy this beautiful 70 degree weather!

Mwah mwah mwah!


Sunday, July 13, 2014


It's been quite sometime since I've visited you all on zee blog. Sorry about that. Life tends to get in the way of everything and I sit here wondering "Hey, remember that blog you use to write? You gonna do something with that again?"

So yeah. Sorry.

If you follow astrology at all, you've probably heard of this Mercury retrograde stuff. And if you don't follow it, there is this thing called Mercury retrograde and it was basically screwing up everyone's lives. So if you felt odd during the months of May-June then that's what was happening in the good ol' universe. Well, thank God that it's friggin' over because damn, life kinda sucked for those two months. Now, July is here, and everything is on the up and up! HUZZAH!

My dear sweet friend, B, has come back to Korea for the summer, just in time for the humidity to sink in. Our summer camp starts at the end of July and I'm super pumped to be working along side of her again.

Last month I participated in this Kimchi study where I was given lunch and dinner for 10 days to study the effects of kimchi on a person who didn't grow up eating it. It was delicious (except for the fish--blarg) and healthy, plus it was free food. ^^ Pictures are up on Instagram if you care to see the yummy meals.

Oh--and if you've been redirected here because of Instagram, Welcome! ^^

July has been pretty fabulous thus far. Birthday parties. Birthday brunches. Hair cuts. Nails. Reconnecting with old friends. Making new ones. And lots of picture taking.

On the book front...oh yeah...remember that book I was writing. Still editing. And editing. And editing. But there is progress that is being made and I'm super excited about it. Since February I have been working with this amazing editor who has really helped me to shape the story and challenge me as a writer. I'm so blessed and thankful for her.

The sad thing about this time of year, is that because the spring term is ending so soon (like next week!!) it means that I'm going to be saying goodbye to some really special people. One of these is my friend Robyn, who has been here for 19 months and I wish it could be a lot longer. You should peep her blog too--she is truly more diligent than I am and I'm amazed by her discipline to get stuff done. I have learned a lot from her (and I could stand to learn a whole lot more) but I'm thankful with the time I've gotten to know her and for the times we spent together.

So that's it, for now my dears. I hope to update more this week, as I will need a break from my report card writing. For reals.

Stay excellent!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Oh, Hey! How's it going?

I've started a journey.

That's usually what people say when they are beginning something new. "Starting" a "Journey." Maybe it's because we want to put an emphasis on closing a part in our lives. Taking a new path. Moving forward.

Weren't we already on a journey? Starting a journey means that we weren't on one before. Just because you've felt stagnant doesn't mean you weren't already on a route. Maybe you were just on the wrong path.

And I was.

I've done some pretty unhealthy things in the past few years but this year I decided no more. I turned my back on that road because I have seen what lies ahead. And I couldn't keep lying to myself about it.

My biggest changes? I stopped smoking and I crossed over from my boot camp regiment to CrossFit. I was happy doing boot camp and I surely loved the coaches and people in the class. So why the switch? I needed something more. I needed something that was going to scare the bajeezus out of me. It was something that I always thought about doing but was so intimidated by, so I locked up that little dream in a box and placed it on the unattainable dream shelf.

Over the Christmas holiday break, I got a message from Kat (one of my best friends and also the most amazing CrossFit coach you will ever be inspired by) and basically said that it was time for me to make the switch. The box in which I tucked that dream away began to rattle.

Finally, when I came back to the gym after a long time away, a friend and fellow CrossFitter said,"You're signing up for On Ramp." On Ramp is the 9 class course you must take in order to be a part of the CrossFit class. The box suddenly power dove to the ground, breaking the "unattainable dreams" box forever.

So I took the bait. I drank the kool aid. And here I am. Five weeks into CrossFit. And I've never felt happier. have you been?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The month and a Half Long Silence...Did this just get weird?

So here is an update upon yours truly and just where I've been since we've last met.

I left Seoul for the states on Christmas Day (just for a visit, don't get nervous), flying from Seoul to Tokyo, Tokyo to San Francisco, and San Francisco to Chicago. It was nuts. The first leg of the trip was fabulous. The flight wasn't full and I got the whole row of three seats to myself. Score!
Once I got to Japan, things took a different turn. The plane was late arriving from Bangkok and that made me literally 2 minutes too late to catch my flight once I arrived in San Fran. I cried while I was in the security line that helped me to move a little faster to get to my gate. I didn't do it to manipulate anyone, I was just so frustrated. But did it allow people to be a bit nicer to me? Absolutely.
When I got to my gate, the gate agent gave me attitude and asked why I couldn't make it to the gate on time. I burst into tears again. Through tears I explained my situation and she quickly changed her demeanor. I ended up getting on a 1:30 flight and then arrived in Chicago at 8:30, instead of 5:30.

Christmas dinner was awesome. Turkey. Broccoli casserole. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes. Yum. ^^

My time in Illinois was spent mostly with family but I did get some quality time in with my friends. And there was lots and lots of shopping. ^^ Oddly enough, the only time I went downtown was when I was with my friend Holly. We took the blue line in and I showed her the wonderment that is the Harold T. Washington Library. It's one of my favorite places in Chicago. We had dinner at The Walnut Room, which is located in the Macy's on State Street. If you've never been to Chicago, this Macy's (formerly Marshall Fields) is an ENTIRE city block. Now that I am thinking of it, I should have picked up some Frango mints...oh well. I will just have to go home more often. After dinner, we made our way to Navy Pier to see The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. It was utterly fabulous! I ended up running into one of my English Professors from Roosevelt, Dr. Larry Howe, and I chatted with him for a bit. I wish I would have had the time to go to RU to see the rest of my profs, but again, that will happen on my next trip home.
Aside from seeing Holly, one of my most favorite people in the world, Patsy (it's a fake name, get over it. ^^) came down from Madison to spend the weekend. Pats and I met in Seoul, teaching for the same school. We had a truly ab fab weekend and just shopped, ate, and gabbed.
The next friends I met up with were Steve and Jenn. It's so lovely to see such a lovely couple navigating their way through marriage, life, and all that falls in between. I'm so happy for the two of you.

While spending time with family, I ended up getting my mother hooked on Korean dramas. She is almost finished with Secret Garden now and she is loving every second of it. She even bought the soundtrack to it. It was a nice thing to do since it was so frigid in Chiberia, ahem, excuse me, Chicago. It was brutally cold this winter. I'm just happy that I was able to get a new winter coat while I was home.

On January 9th, I arrived in Florida, rented a car, and drove to my sister's house, which is literally a block and a half away from my Dad's house. It's nice to know that my niece and nephews have access to their papa and grandma just like Melissa and I did to our Yia Yia.
My dad had no idea I was coming in on that Thursday. I wanted to surprise him (I've often done this). He thought I was coming in on Friday, and since I was renting a car, I told him that I didn't need to be picked up. My stepmother told him to take the day off, but he adamantly refused because I didn't need the ride. Then she messaged me on FB to say, "Tell your dad that something happened and you need him to pick you up." So I did. ^^
When he got home from work, I hid in the corner of his office, where he wouldn't normally look and when he said he had a rough day, I piped in saying, "Well, it can always get better." ^^ It did get better, in case you were wondering.

The weather was really fabulous in Florida, but even if it wasn't, it was still better than what the temperatures were in Chiberia. I only went to the beach one day, and yes, I wore jeans. I'm not a beach girl. Whatevs. I just wanted to sit on the sand and look out at the horizon. Unfortunately, they are doing so much construction on the beach due to the erosion that was caused by storms/hurricanes that it took away from some of the ambiance.

While in Florida, I only saw three of my friends as I started to feel ill on the last full day in Florida. I was very thankful to see Joey, Sam, and Nathalie. I wish I could have seen more of my friends but again, I will be back more often so there will be time for that.

I did spend a lot of time with my nephews and niece, which was fantastic. I went to Disney World with the two little ones and we had a family freeze out. I really did enjoy the Florida leg of my trip and I was happy to be amongst my family again. While I was there, my paternal grandmother passed away, which rocked me. I wasn't expecting it at all and I had no idea how badly her health had been declining. There, of course, is no ill will toward my family for not letting me know about this. If any of them are reading this right now, I just want to stress the importance of communication. We only have one family. And if we cannot talk to this one family, what can we hope to accomplish? Families aren't perfect. They aren't meant to be, unless it is on some black and white TV show found on TV Land. My dear readers, talk to your families. Drop your ego and your pain. It doesn't define you. You are so much better than that. (Note: to victims of abuse, I am not saying that you should strike up a relationship with the person who abused you--but I am saying that you are more powerful than you think that you are. Do what you can to move past your pain and seek healing. I know this is not easy, but you will thank yourself, and you never know who you could inspire along the way.)

Anyway...Florida was fun and I was glad to break away from the snow. Once I got back to Chicago, I was ready to begin packing for the Seoul exodus, part II.

I had a nice day and a half spent with my mom before I headed back to Asia (only this time, without so many connections). The greatest thing about it was that my mom was pushing me to go through my old stuff at the storage shed that she and my father had saved for me. The statement, "I'll only be gone for a year!" resonated in the car as we drove down to the storage facility. We pulled bag after bag of clothes and shoes and brought them back to the house. As I opened each one, I was reminded of the fashion sense (if you could call it that--I'd venture to call it armor) that I had just three years ago. There were a plethora of hoodies of bands that I either don't listen to anymore or have broken up since I've been in Korea. There were so many pieces of clothing that just didn't fit me anymore--not physically, but spiritually. They belonged to some other girl. Some other girl that never thought she could be feminine or cared if she was well-dressed. The girl who was fine with being underdressed. I am not her anymore.

Did the Land of the Morning Calm change me that much?

Yeah. It did.

And it made it that much easier to throw those old rags away. I'm not that person anymore. And it felt so great.

I hope you are all able to shed some negative image of yourself this year as eel embark on 2014. It's not too late. Plus, with the lunar new year, you get a second chance! (It was just last week, so don't delay!)

Love and Light!