Morning Pages

Morning pages was introduced to me by my friend and fellow blogger Dana Holt but the original idea came from Julia Cameron. Dana loves it! Here’s how it works.

  1. Wake up (or, rather, open your eyes).
  2. Grab a pad of paper strategically placed by your bed.
  3. Pick up the pen also placed for convenience.
  4. Start writing.
  5. Write three pages of stream of consciousness before you do anything else (including waking up all the way).

I decided to try this and see what happens. It’s supposed to unlock your creativity, get all your negativity out on paper first thing in the morning, clear your mind and work out issues you may not even know existed. It’s not about writing well. It’s simply about clearing your head.

The first morning I didn’t wake up and really start writing until I got to the end of the third page. And then it was over. And I wanted to keep writing, but I had to get in the shower to go to work.

The next day, I woke up a little more quickly, but, again, don’t feel like I really got going until the third page. Regardless, it felt good. It’s always nice to write.

I skipped a few days. Okay, I skipped four days. Then finally got myself up and did it again this morning. This time it was the top of the third page when I felt like I got going, and it felt really good because the first two pages were actually painful to write.

I need to make this a habit because it does make me feel more alert and ready for the day. The problem is, I am soooo bad at getting up in the morning.

Speaking of getting up, the explanation I read of morning pages was that it would take 15 minutes. Not for me. Maybe I’m a slow writer, but it takes me about 25 minutes to write three pages.

My time did improve so maybe it’s like running, and I’ll get faster. It took me 30 minutes on the first day. I know, not much of an improvement but I’ll take it.

I’m curious to see what I think about it after I’ve done it longer.

I’ll let you know.

If I manage to get myself out of bed early enough and often enough to actually see benefits from it.

If you want to look this up for yourself and see what others think, simply google “morning pages.” It’s pretty popular, and people have very different things to say about it. Some love it and have seen benefits in their business and lives; others think it’s a waste of time. Here’s an article about it in Inc. online magazine.

Or you can simply try it yourself! If you do, let me know what you think.

 

Plants Eatery: A Review

Yesterday I had the chance to catch up with a friend for lunch, and we met up at Plants Eatery, a vegan restaurant near the Da’an MRT station.

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This place is adorable and all about clean, healthy eating as the name implies. We were immediately seated at a tiny wooden table, brought water, and given a menu. The wait staff did speak English and were very attentive.

Liesl and I ordered the same drink, Bunny Loves Your Eyes. It had turmeric, ginger, rosemary, carrot, pineapple, banana, lemon and activated cashew milk. The drink was served with a metal straw for environmental purposes. I loved that they lived their talk down to the smallest details! The drink was delicious, kind a sweet and tangy carrot juice. We loved it!

 

For lunch, we ordered different salads. I got the seaweed salad with heirloom lettuce, mixed seaweed, carrots, cucumbers, activated raw caramelized seeds, onions and green onions. It was served with a maple apple cider vinaigrette. Since I love seaweed, I was curious about this salad. It did not disappoint! It was tangy and sweet with a very strong seaweed flavor so only order it if you like seaweed. I would go back and order the same thing again.

Liesl ordered the quinoa salad which had quinoa, pears, cucumbers, baby salad greens, sprouts, and housemade pineapple vinaigrette. I didn’t taste it, but Liesl ate every bite so I can only assume it was good! Both were beautifully plated as you can see below.

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I love a pretty plate!

The prices were higher than eating on the street but very reasonable for the fresh ingredients and good food. They had a big letters on the wall that spelled out “Count Nutrients Not Calories.” I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a healthy meal with timely, professional service in a spotless environment. I was impressed with the food, the service, and the general atmosphere of the place.

It was a lovely lunch!

 

 

Keep Dreaming

I was talking to my friend Holly the other night about growing older and dreams and regrets. Holly and I have been friends since were 15 and are now in our mid-40s. Both of us are only just starting to figure out how to attain the things we’ve dreamed of our entire lives and, although we are pursuing it, the self-doubt and the self-hate chases behind.

Am I too old? Is it too late? Why didn’t I do this before? Why did it take me so long to figure all this out? Is it worth it at this point in my life?

Am I too old?

I’ve literally been asking myself this question about decisions for the past 10 years, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had ever considered the answer “yes.” The best thing my mother ever told me was this, “You are going to be xyz years old anyway. Why not be there with whatever it is you want to achieve as well?” I tell myself this all the time when I question my age.

Is it too late?

The only time it will be too late to do something is when I’m in my grave. Yes, naturally, there are things that it may be too late to do in a traditional sense – such as having a biological child for a woman. But it may not be too late to get a child some other way at any age. There are no obstacles except the ones we place on ourselves. If we are open-minded and creative about achieving our dreams, anything truly is possible. Sometimes you just have to step outside the box you may have built yourself and consider another angle.

Why has it taken me so long to figure all this out?

This is probably the most difficult question, but looking back in regret only slows you down. The one thing I know above all else is that everyone’s journey is different. Embrace your path and don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. This isn’t easy, but it’s necessary to move forward. If you are ready now, then now is the right time for you. Go for it!

Is it worth it at this point in my life?

I don’t know. Is it? When you look back on your life, do you want to see that you went for it or is there something else you’d rather do? You have to decide how important this goal is to you. If you think it’s worth it, don’t let anyone tell you differently. Take charge of your own life, and decide if YOU are worth it.

 

If we stop focusing on that one dream that got away instead of thinking of our lives as a journey with many pit-stops and dreams and beautiful people along the way then, yeah, it’s easy to get stuck in the tar-filled pit of regret and bitterness. But the journey isn’t over until you can’t do anymore.

Keep going, keep trying, keep dreaming, and appreciate the little things along the way because, believe it or not, they are all taking you to the right place even if it seems like it’s taking a really long time.

When I feel like I should give up – a) I get a sick feeling in my stomach and b) I picture myself giving up an inch from the surface and drowning, not realizing that I was almost there.

What if you’re an inch from that dream, and you give up?

Keep going. Keep trying. Keep dreaming.

Because you might only have another inch to go.

A Perfect Day

Sunday was one of those perfect weather days. The sun was out and it was hot, but it was also windy so you didn’t feel hot – one of those days. I love the feel of the warm wind and the sun on my skin. I decided to go for a bike ride on a bike path I knew of in Taipei.

One of the great things about Taipei is that you can rent a U-bike from different stands all over the city – and it’s very inexpensive. In addition, there are parks and trails all over the city as well. I went to one with a U-bike rental and entrance near the Beiman MRT.  It’s right smack in the middle of the city but feels like you left for a little while.

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The views were amazing with the river trailing beside me (although the river was low and a terrible gray color but still glittery from the sun so beautiful in the way of water and sunlight). The city line surrounded the river and the trail and bridges arced over it, a constant reminder of the busy world beyond the trail. There were sections that were covered in trees with the viney trunks that I love offering shade and rest. A few spots busy and I nearly ran over someone once, but others were fairly empty and open.

I passed people fishing in the river, playing basketball and baseball and tennis in courts and fields placed in different areas along the way. There were children on scooters and passengers of their parent’s bikes, dogs running beside their owner’s bikes, people flying kites in open fields, putting on an amazing show complete with sound effects. It was a magical day.

Days like this make me forget about the cold, rainy days during winter when I’m shivering in my coat at my desk because there’s no heat at school. They make me forget about typhoon days when I’m sitting alone at home listening to the wind shake the building and howl outside for hours and wishing I could just go to sleep. They make forget about the terrible, humid heat of summer when I’m dripping sweat walking for five minutes from the mrt station to my apartment.

They are all the more joyful because they are not the norm. Days like this make me happy and grateful because they are a contrast to the days when the weather is miserable for one reason or another. I make sure to go out and embrace these days because I’m not sure when another will come along.

I went home after my bike ride and literally felt full to the brim with happiness. I know tomorrow may not be as perfect, but that’s okay. Another day like this will come along again, and I will make sure to enjoy it just as much when it happens.

Fiction: Driving Lessons

“Where’s Michael?” Ansley’s head bobbed like a cork in a bowl of water as she looked around. As he was short and social in a bar that was small and crowded, he’d been difficult to keep track of.

“I think I heard him tell someone he was leaving.” The girl to her left said then downed a shot of Fireball. A cheer went up from the three men around her, and Ansley rolled her eyes when she giggled.

“He’s too drunk to drive. Seriously? Nobody stopped him?” Ansley was talking to herself as she moved into the packed bodies, pushing between them, her beer spilling on random shirts. “Have you seen Michael?” She asked another person in the crowd.

“Yeah, I heard him telling Pete and Rodney he was leaving. There over by the door.” Jason pointed.

“Damn.” Ansley squeezed her way through to Pete. “Did Michael leave?”

“I think so. A few minutes ago.” Pete turned away. “Hey, who else wants shots? I’ve got five here.”

Ansley tugged on his sleeve. “You didn’t stop him? He was really drunk.”

“He’s a grown up, Ansley, just like the rest of us.” He passed out shots. “You want a shot?”

She set her beer down hard on the table. “No, I don’t want a shot. And the rest of you need to stop drinking soon or someone is going to get hurt.”

“You worry too much. This is fun. Everyone is fine and can get a cab if they need to.”  Pete shrugged at her. “Lighten up.” He raised his voice. “Hey, Sarah, I’m in on the next game! Let me know when it’s done. I got winner.” He left Ansley standing there.

She watched him make his way through the crowd, shot glasses held above his head. People laughed and weaved and drank. It was only 10:00 and over half the people there were too drunk to drive.

Ansley went outside to look for Michael. Not sure where he had parked, she did a visual scan and spotted his truck parked down the hill. She ran as fast as she could in her high-heeled boots and pencil skirt and cursed her own vanity. She heard an engine rev up and his yellow pick-up backed out of the parking space.

“No!” She yelled, still trying to run. The trucks brake lights came on for a minute then went back off as the truck pulled into traffic and disappeared around a corner. She stopped her awkward run, panting slightly and headed back inside the bar.

“Hey, you want a drink?” Natalie stood at the bar.

“No, I don’t want a drink.” She slid onto a seat and put her head in her hands.

Alex got up from a barstool. “I’ll get you a drink. What do you want?”

“A water. I’m leaving shortly. I can’t have any more to drink.”

“A water? Don’t be boring. At least have another beer. It’s early.”

“No, I’m tired and want to go home. Can I get a water?”

“Okay,” Alex held his hands up.

“That’s smart,” Natalie sat next to Ansley with her beer. “This should probably be my last one. I have to head home soon. I have to take Wes to a school thing first thing tomorrow.”

“Yuck. That sucks. Michael just left.”

“He drove?” Natalie looked at Ansley. “That kid takes too many chances. He does this all the time.”

“We never should have let him.”

“No, but look around you. Who’s going to stop him?”

“Good point.” I took a sip of my water.

“You sure you have to leave?” Alex said. “Let’s play one more game first.”

Ansley let herself get talked into the dice game that required shots but had one of the other guys do shots for her. Natalie left before she finally did at 1:00 am. Tired, wondering how she was going to stay awake, Ansley headed to her car. She passed an accident on her way and sent up a quick prayer of thanks as she always did that it wasn’t her in the wreck.

A mile from home, Ansley saw the police lights in her rear view mirror and pulled over.

“Ma’am?”

“Yes?” The flashlight hurt her tired eyes.

“May I see your license, insurance and registration?”

“Sure, but did I do something wrong?” She dug around in her wallet and pulled out her license and insurance.

“Did you know you have a rear light out?”

Ansley breathed a sigh of relief at this response and when she found her registration. “No, I didn’t.” She handed over all the documents and squinted to see the officer’s face behind the light. The female officer had sharp, blue eyes.

“Have you been drinking tonight?” The officer asked.

“No,” she lied.

“Okay.” She took a minute to examine her face before lowering the light and moving away.

A car appeared and hit something, braking with tires squealing. Her car rocked as something landed on it, leaving behind red streaks and cracks in her windshield. Everything froze: time, her brain, her body. There was a ringing in her ears.

As the world came back into focus, she heard voices yelling and sirens in the distance. Someone banged on her window, but she didn’t move. Ansley did not want to know what had happened outside her car. She was safe inside as long as she didn’t look too closely at the windshield or the people around her.

“Miss!” The banging on the window was becoming more urgent. “Miss! If you don’t answer, I’m going to break your window. Are you okay?”

Ansley turned her head and gave a stiff nod. “Yes,” she said. “Yes, I’m okay.”

“Good.” The man turned away from her and started shouting as an ambulance screamed into view and parked. “Over there.” He gestured wildly to the EMTs who were pulling out a stretcher.

Other cars screamed into view.

The EMTs took the stretcher past her car, and Ansley looked in her rearview mirror to see what they were doing. Curiosity overcame fear for a minute, but only for a minute, and she was sorry she’d looked. She jerked open her car door and vomited on the pavement.

Ansley wiped her mouth and closed herself back in the car.

“I’m okay,” she whispered.

Job Hunting

It’s been two days since I’ve written anything, and I’m antsy. I love that! I’m not sure I still have anything interesting to say, but I miss saying anything at all.

I’ve been job hunting. Job hunting is so fun! Actually, job hunting is the exact opposite of fun, but there is something exciting about it. Looking for new positions, interviewing, it lets you peek into and imagine yourself living different lives. That’s especially true for me right now as I look for a position with an international school.

Here in Taiwan, I have been working for the public school system. Although I’m teaching ESL, I teach grades 3 through grades 6 – all of the students. I am a supplemental teacher to the local English classes they get, and I don’t see the students often enough to really get to know them. I miss having my own students and building relationships and seeing progress.

However, I love teaching abroad so I’ve decided to move into the international school world. It’s been an interesting experience so far learning about the different curriculums and expectations. Teaching in an international school will give me the opportunity to further my teaching skills, develop relationships with students to really impact lives, and move forward in my career. Pretty awesome.

I’ve had two interviews so far – one in Turkey, one in Tawain outside of Taipei – and I have another one next week in Colombia. I have to research each country and imagine myself living there to see if I think it’s a good fit.

See, exciting! But also a bit stressful. There are so many unknowns, and life here in Taipei is so easy and nice. The people are friendly. English is common enough that I don’t worry about not speaking Chinese. I never run out of things to do and see. And I have really good friends.

But the job situation is not challenging enough.

So it’s time to move on next year. And moving on is always a mix of both exciting and sad as new beginnings also mean an ending. In the meantime, I get to keep peeking into new worlds until I find the next one I’ll be living in for awhile.

Wish me luck!

40-Day Blog Challenge

My friend Sarah mentioned that she was doing a 40-day blog challenge. I liked the idea and said I’d do it with her. Today is the last day – happy dance! Not that the experience hasn’t been wonderful, but TODAY IS THE LAST DAY! Yay!

Now, if I have a bad day or don’t feel well, I don’t have to feel guilty that I didn’t post. Whew. I did miss two days out of the 40 days: one for internet disruption and one for being sick. I think that’s pretty good. But I am happy to take a little break.

The first few days of the challenge were fun and easy once I pushed “publish.”

Then came the real work.

I had to pay attention every day to things I did and what I thought about the things I did or the things people said or what I was watching on television or what I was reading because I needed something to write about! AND I needed to post my opinions and thoughts for other people to read about and possibly judge.

Gasp and panic.

I found the last few days especially hard as I find I’m a little tired of my own thoughts and imagine my three or four readers are as well.

But the magical thing about all of this is that I found out that it doesn’t matter what other people think. I mean, it does. It means a lot if people like my posts, and I love when people connect to what I say.

However.

I had to let go of the idea that each post had to be perfect or I would never post anything. And I had to let go of the idea that everyone had to agree with me or think I’m brilliant because, well, I would never post anything. And I had to post to do this challenge.

This challenge helped me push through my fear of putting my thoughts and opinions and feelings out there – my sometimes imperfectly or awkwardly stated thoughts and opinions and feelings. It also made me examine my world each day in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise done, and I found myself more thoughtful about my choices.

So I would challenge you to try to write for 40 days. It doesn’t have to be public but write for 40 days straight about your day, your thoughts, your ideas. When you have to write something new every day, I think what comes out is more honest. There’s no time to prevaricate or come up with a different way of stating something or reconsidering an idea.

Hold yourself accountable to write every day by telling a friend or your mom or by posting your writing online.

You may surprise yourself as I did with what comes out. By being forced to pay closer attention to your world, you look at things a little differently. And, even if no one reads it, you will benefit from the analysis and you’ll have an interesting record of at least a month of your life.

Just do it! You can thank me later.