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Category: Lists.

The Bucket List

Living and working and exploring in a new city, especially a BIG foreign city, can be incredibly daunting. So on a quiet Sunday, my friend Tanja and I made a list of the places we most wanted to see and the things we most wanted to do. I love looking at the list when I feel homesick. The list helps me remember why I left home (to see the world!) and why I’m not jumping on a plane tomorrow. (I haven’t seen enough!)

This past weekend we were able to cross two more off of our adventure list: Ice skating at City Hall and seeing The Nutcracker at the Seoul Art Center. The first which involved 20 degree weather and the latter which involved getting lost and missing the first bit of the show. Regardless, it was such a fun and exciting weekend, which helped remind me– Hey, I’m living my dream!

The Importance of Being a Goal Setter.

When I first moved to Seoul, I spent a lot of time staring out my window, watching mindless tv shows, and wishing I was back home. All of these pastimes added up to an unproductive evening in which I would crawl into bed completely unsatisfied and unable to fall asleep.

So I started writing a goal list.

My October goal list was fairly simple: read a minimum of four books, write letters to friends back home, hang out with a few specific people, etc. I hung the goal list above my desk, and looked at it every day. When I was feeling homesick or unsatified or bored, I would look at that list and think about what I could do to help complete one of the things listed. It worked. I moved out of my slump.

Since then, I’ve continued writing a monthly goal list and posted it in the same place, above my desk. At the end of each month, I take it down, cross off what I accomplished and paste the list in my journal. This helps me put away the events of the month, the successes and the disappointments. I usually don’t accomplish everything on the list and those get bumped to the next one. Sometimes I realize that it was a lofty goal, or change my mind about the importance of it.

Through goal writing, I’ve also realized the importance of spontaneity and flexibity. Sometimes I can’t complete everything on my list because something new and exciting presents itself. That is the nature of life, and I’m so glad that each day continues to hold new possibility.

Here, in the name of full disclosure, is my December list. Posting it where others can see is just another way for me to hold myself accountable and work towards those list items that help me fall into bed a peaceful and accomplished girl.

December: 

1. Get a bank account (done!)

2. Transfer money back home. (done!)

3. Mail all Christmas packages by the 9th. (done!)

4. Finish all Christmas online shopping by the 10th.

5. Visit my friend Claire.

6. Go ice skating.

7. Write letters to friends and family, at least 3 a week.

8. Wash my sheets. (This really needs to happen soon!)

9. Read 3 books, and at least one classic.

And 10, which is a little more personal. One of the reasons I wanted to move away was that I wanted to try to spend some time writing. From day to day I have 3-5 first sentences rolling around in my head, but I never sit down and flush them out. I spend most of my time thinking about writing instead of actually doing it. This month I pledge to spend one night a week writing. 

Just making a goal list always lightens my steps a bit. Happy December and happy goal writing!

My Thanksgiving Thankfuls.

I try to be thankful year round. I really do. When I was twelve, my mother told me I was ungrateful. I think ungrateful is one of the worst possible things one can be, and I’ve spent the rest of my life since trying to steer as far from that word as possible.

But Thanksgiving is a good time to hear other’s thankfuls as well. I love hearing what everyone else has been richly blessed with! In our family we have a great Thanksgiving tradition. We go around the table and everyone must say at least one thing they are specifically thankful for that year. We usually end up going around the table four or five times. We are richly blessed.

This year, as I am far from home, I am missing that tradition. I did get to Skype with the boyfriend and my family. Thank God for video chatting!

So here’s what I would say if we were around the Thanksgiving table together:

1. I’m thankful for Tyler.

He is proof that God is so intentional with our lives. We co-existed without even an inkling of attraction or affection until it was the right time for us. Only God could have orchestrated something so beautifully.

2. I’m thankful for my amazing family.

God put us back together 10 years ago, after a long messy divorce. I try not to let a day go by without thanking God for that one. Our family really is special and unusual. We actually enjoy being together. We have jokes. We still take vacations. We are so blessed.

3. I’m thankful for this trip.

If you had asked me about it a month and a half ago, I would have trashed this entire thing. I was miserable. I hated my job. I hated being away.

This is still hard, it’s hard to be far from those I love, but the entire trip has been such a growing experience. I’m doing something I have always dreamed about. How many people can actually say that? I have fallen in love with my students, in love with the culture, and in love with the amount of coffee shops in this caffeine-driven city! I have had so many amazing experiences and have many more adventures ahead before I come home.  My life has been harder, but richer too.

4. I’m thankful for Mail.

We completely underestimate the power of  well written letters these days. Nothing moves me quicker than seeing a hand addressed envelope waiting in my mailbox. Those of you who read this blog and have sent me mail THANK YOU! You’ll never know how much that has meant to me. And I love sending my replys out into the world. Letter writing truly is a lost art.

Things I Love About Seoul.

#1 Mornings

I recently read in my latest Real Simple magazine that one of the most peaceful things you can do for yourself is create a morning routine and stick to it.

My morning routine is pretty simple. I wake up, make my bed and put water on to boil for my coffee. I open the windows, set my breakfast table and take a few deep breaths as I fully wake up. And then I spend an hour journaling, praying, reading my bible, using my Oswald Chambers devotional book, and thinking positive thoughts.

Morning has become the absolute best part of my day.

#2 Street purchases and Convenience. 

I live in a metro area, which means I am privy to a lot of convenience. I am just a few steps away from a little market and a few more steps away from a big market (pictured above)

Produce is also sold cheaply on the street, which is fun and easy to buy on the way home from work. It’s so nice to run out of milk, but only be 5 minutes away from having more. It’s easy to get spoiled pretty quickly.

#3 The Subway

Just like any other westerner, I have a car and love to drive. There aren’t many activities more freeing than a road trip, windows down, music blaring. But there is much to be said for a reliable mode of public transportation.

I love the subway for three reasons:

1. I get to read while I commute. I’m currently averaging about 2 books a week. I think the last period of life I had so much reading time was the 4th grade, when I sped through one Baby-Sitter’s Club book a night.  Right now I’m in the middle of Gilead and am loving every page.

2. I get to look for outfit inspiration. My clothing style fits in quite nicely with Korean style and I love looking at all the outfits.

3. It’s cheap. Seriously cheap. I can get just about anywhere in the city and back home for under $3. You can’t really beat that.

#4 Korean Packaging and Overall “Cuteness” Appeal

Korean culture is all-around more geared towards the younger generation. Most older women and young professional females dress the same. The advertisements typically target 16-23 year-olds and that shows in the cute packaging and prints I see all over the city.

I love it! It’s so easy to find things in cute prints and designs that would cost a lot more back home.  And my hair bow collection is really growing.

Five Favorite Things.

1) Finishing a life-challenging book.  (Just turned the last page in The Alchemist. Incredibly thought provoking! I love it when books align perfectly with my life.)

2) When I french tip my own nails and it turns out perfect.  (and free!)

3) Waking up to the sun shinning through my window.

4) A clean work-space.

5) Oreo-O’s cereal. Nom nom nom.

Yes, Lets.

The best part?

Most of these are incredibly DOABLE.

Personal favorites include: 31, 6-9, 19-21.

In no particular order, of course.

Happy weekend!

Always Remember.

Today I woke up in complete bliss, but The Weepies say it best: “I hold so many people in my suitcase heart.” And I do.

And on days like today, it is good to be thankful–to remember to say “Thanks God!”

Because when you stop to look around, Life is pretty beautiful.

Wish List.

I like ….

Dressy shorts from Urban Outfitters.

Book Art.

And stones shapped like hearts.

To Do.

There. It’s decided. We’re all making today a lovely day.

It’s such a great day to be alive.

Fall: A Study in Pictures.

Fall is beginning to wind down, with the passing of one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving.

I thought I’d pay homage to my favorite season with a few photos that were taken along the way.

(And great photos need a soundtrack, of course.)

Enjoy!

Stop and take stock of what this season has meant to you. Sometimes (okay, often) time passes without me fully digesting how blessed I am. Just looking back at pictures reminds me of that.

It’s been a wonderful fall.