The Waiting Place

THE WAITING PLACE 

by Dr. Seuss

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

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I’ve loved Dr. Seuss since I was a young girl. I still do. I am fascinated by his ability to take imperative life lessons and weave them seamlessly and creatively into timeless children’s books. Hindsight is an incredible force and it is definitely one that is relied upon too heavily in our society. Why do we wait until people or experiences are gone to grasp their value? How many times have you heard the saying, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” There is a lot of proven psychology behind the fact that we want what we can’t have. Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. summarized the three main factors as heightened attention, perceived scarcity and psychological reactance. Simply stated, we focus more on things we know we can’t have especially when we think there isn’t enough to go around and even more so if someone tells us we can’t have it. Human beings are creatures of habit whether we like to admit it or not. We complain about people, careers, parents, living situations but undoubtedly miss them when they are gone. When we look back, we realize it really wasn’t that bad and we see the memory with the rose colored lens of hindsight. Nostalgia has a funny way of making people funnier, food more delicious, weather more intense and good times more exciting. How do we transfer the power of nostalgia into right now? How do we actively appreciate life and the world around us each and every day? How do we escape the waiting place?

Once again, this is why I turn to writing. This is why I wish more people would turn to writing. When you force yourself to reflect about your circumstance 9/10 you reflect upon the good aspects of your life instead of the negative things. You can also find solace and strength for getting through situations that are undeniably difficult. It may not be the answer for everyone, but time and time again it proves to work for me. Now that I have finished my long-term substitute teaching position in the inner city and I am not in the day-to-day grind of feeling exhausted, under appreciated and down right depressed; I have gained hindsight and perspective. I knew that I would feel this way because I took the time to reflect and to look at it through the bigger picture while I was immersed in it. When it became too much to swallow, I realized I hadn’t taken the time to reflect and release with my words. Now I am blessed with the time to do so before I embark on my next exhilarating journey.

As a society and a generation, we are loosing the ability to look at situations through a broader scope and focus on the means to an end. I wanted to move to Australia and pursue my travels so that teaching opportunity was the most logical stepping-stone to get me there. It was hard, it was stressful, I cried a lot, but I got experience in a demographic I never thought I would and I touched the lives of young people who need more than anything a positive role model to believe in them. I had no idea I would ever teach that age level or outside of my certification area, but usually the best lessons I learned when we embrace uncertainty instead of running away from it.

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Ode to The Slight Edge

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The past month has been nothing short of an eye opening experience. I have pursued two ventures that I honestly can’t say I saw coming; starting my own business in network marketing and becoming an elementary special education teacher in the inner city of Syracuse. Needless to say, I haven’t found the time to reflect through writing as much as I like to or grew accustomed to while living in Thailand. But no time like the present. Being a teacher in Thailand was the best job I ever had. Being a substitute teacher in America, in an extremely low SES inner city community, is far from the best job I ever had. Every day is a challenge, mentally, physically and emotionally. Luckily I am fortunate enough to have walked into an opportunity where I will now take over full time for a teacher who is on medical leave. It is exciting to have some consistency, build solid relationships with my students and get into the swing of normal classroom life. Except I am teaching a grade level and subject area I have no experience with. “Nothing like biting off more than you can chew and chewing anyway.” I am up for the challenge and despite the extreme differences from my teaching in Thailand, I still get to shape young minds and carve young hearts each and every day. That is something that will never get old.

On a positive note, I am feeling extremely inspired by my other professional decisions I have made the past few months. I feel so fortunate to be a part of such a positive group of like-minded individuals and have the opportunity to build my own business with the incredible platform of Beachbody, LLC to back me up. As a part of my training for being a coach I have incorporated personal development into my daily routine. I read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson (if you haven’t read it I highly recommend you do), which artfully describes the author’s rollercoaster ride from beachbum to millionaire to bankrupt and back again. He gives his key for success; in business, life, happiness,and health  which is the slight edge. “Little things that seem insignificant in the doing, yet when compounded over time yield very big results.”

For me this book and this new business venture came at the perfect crossroads of my life. I read a little each day for the past few weeks and the messages were woven into my brain, just as I have woven them into my writing. I am a very self-aware individual and as a writer and an emotional Gemini, I am always searching to understand myself better. I have realized lately that I always need to be challenged. “The wisest investment you can make is to invest in your own continuous learning and development.” I moved 8 hours away for undergrad, enrolled in a 5 year Master’s program where I did student teaching full time and went to grad school, got extremely involved in my sorority and took many leadership positions, and then decided to move to a third world country and teach. When I came home I knew I needed a new challenge. Something to work toward each and every day. I didn’t realize I was walking into two challenges with both my teaching and my coaching. “There is no treading water in life, no running in place because everything is in motion. If you’re not improving, enriching, building, unfolding- if you’re not adding assets to your personal and professional value every day- then you’re headed down the curve.” Diving straight into uncharted territory has forced me to push myself to become better. I wake up everyday at 5:30 am to work out and go to school all day then I come home and work on my business for a few hours until I go to bed. “The simple things that lead to success are all easy to do. But they’re just as easy not to do.” People always complain that they don’t have enough time, but really we all have enough time to accomplish our goals, it simply is a question of what is a priority in our life. I feel inspired by my reading and by my fellow coaches and teammates who have found such great success in the business. I feel inspired by my own intrinsic drive and my ongoing realization that whatever life hands me, I can and I will handle. My attitude is what determines my happiness and I am in control. “Success doesn’t lead to happiness- it’s the other way around.” It is amazing how quickly you can change your day by smiling at strangers, reaching out to tell others you appreciate them, laughing at confusion or lending a helping hand. “Be happy and the reason will appear.“ Our society has tricked us into the mentality of “I will be happy when…” but if my travels, my heartbreak, my grief and my triumphs have taught me anything; it is we must be happy now. We have to cherish every day. “There is no some day. There’s only today. When tomorrow comes, it will be another today; so will the next day. They all will. There is never anything but today.”

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Leaving the Land of Smiles

After a bit of a mishap in the flight department (I’ll skip the story due to my own embarrassment) we finally made it to Thailand and back to our favorite island, Ko Phi Phi. It was so strange to be back in Thailand after being in such a westernized culture for two weeks. But even more strange was how NORMAL it felt. It was normal to not understand anything going on around you, for men to be screaming “I LOVEEE YOU”, to see a family of four on the motorbike next to you and to see more 7-11’s on one street than in all of Australia. Since we had such a hard month in Bali and Australia we knew we would need time to kick up our feet and relax in Ko Phi Phi for our last week abroad. Hey, c’mon you can’t hate us for planning the best vacation ever. 😉

Unfortunately the weather in Thailand was not cooperating with us. We were there for 7 nights and we probably had two days of sunshine. Lots of rain and mud puddles which caused us to find recreational activities inside… There isn’t much to do on an island when the weather is bad, especially Ko Phi Phi. We kept ourselves entertained with lots of stories and laughs from our trip, food, and an adult beverage or two. I finally got the chance to meet up with my friend from high school, Fallon who started teaching in Thailand in March. It was so awesome to catch up with her, reminisce on life in Syracuse and bond over our unexplainable desire to find what we need out of life even if that means traveling all over the world to find it. As the rain fell the reality of the end of my journey getting closer and closer washed over me. We didn’t want to talk about moving home because that made it real. I was so excited to see my friends and family, meet my nephew, squeeze my puppy, eat real pizza and finally feel clean but I couldn’t help but hate having to leave behind this place that I have learned to call home.

Thailand is a magical place for many but for me it changed my life in a way I will always revere. Thailand taught me what it means to be myself. That is the most beautiful gift anyone can give you. By no means did I feel “lost” in life before, but Thailand opened my eyes to a world I needed so desperately to see. A world beyond sorority formals and football tailgates. A world where people don’t have shoes on their feet or have to share a small room behind their restaurant with 13 family members. A world full of dreamers, teachers, and travelers; young people who have the same desire to see new horizons as I do. Like I said in an earlier piece, I joined a club I didn’t know existed. There are so many people, so different than I am, who went to different unis, speak different languages, were raised in diverse situations that have the same fire burning inside of them. This fire can not be extinguished or “gotten out of your system”. There is a whole world full of people who want to experience life, other cultures, have heart to hearts at 3 am on cruise ships in Vietnam, explore ancient temples in Cambodia, eat traditional Indonesian food at 6 am with locals and talk to strangers about their lives simply because it matters. I am so grateful for each and every one of you I have met along the way and you have inspired me to continue dreaming, no matter what anyone thinks.

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Great Expectations

I apologize for disappearing but I am here and ready to get you all back up to date with my crazy life. I am now back in America sitting in my bed at my parents’ house in Syracuse, NY shivering under 3 blankets. It is 28 degrees and snowing outside. In the past two months I have been in four countries, countless cities and have sucked more out of life than some people will for the entirety of their existence. I wrote this piece before I set out on my month long trip. To be honest, I had no intentions of including it in my blog, it was more for personal reflection, but it does an uncanny job at introducing the past two months of my life and a trip I will remember forever. I am going to try to condense the trip into three blog posts but we will see what it turns out to be. One of my quirks as a writer is that I go in completely blind as to what I want to say and simply let my thoughts guide me. But that is also what I attribute my authentic voice to… I have tried to fight it but ultimately it’s what works for me. Enjoy these expectations and stay tuned for the rest of the stories to come!

Expectations for The Finale Trip

Before I moved to Thailand I read a girl’s blog who lived and taught here and one of her biggest pieces of advice was “to not have any expectations of what your experience will be like because you will most definitely be wrong.” I took this sentiment to heart and shared it with Jackie and we adopted it as our motto jumping into the experience without expectations. My friend who started teaching here this semester shared with me an idea given to him by his aunt. She told him to write down his expectations and hopes for his experience before he left for Thailand so he could have them to look back at once he was finished. She wanted him to realize how different his expectations would be from his reality. Looking back on how much my life has changed in the past year and how “normal” life in Thailand feels today, I wish that I recorded my expectations. Not because they would be right but instead to see how WRONG they would be. I decided that it isn’t to late to use this technique both for my final backpacking trip and for my adjustment back into American culture and life. I won’t be disappointed if I am “wrong” because I know that the reality will be even better than what I can imagine. It is wonderful that my life seems to work out that way and I accredit it to using my knowledge of the law of attraction, a positive attitude and bringing kindness with me everywhere I go.

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Awe-inspiring Awe-gust

August has been full of experiences rich in culture, calories and camaraderie. Isn’t that what life is all about? I continue to laugh, eat and dance my way through life. As my yearlong experience comes to an end, I have a heightened awareness of my surroundings and a greater appreciation for my parallel universe.

The term “parallel universe” is defined through a wide variety of scientific definitions, philosophical terms, music, literature and films. I gained a particular affinity for the term after watching the film, The Beach(2000) starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I saw this film before I moved to Thailand but have re-watched it several times since moving here. Despite the mediocre reviews, the film does an uncanny job at describing what it feels like to transport yourself into a whole new world. It is terrifying at first, but you quickly make new friends, make different routines, decipher your role in your new reality and find that your life begins again; a parallel universe. Life continues on without you back at home. Friends and family text, call, Facetime, and stay connected through social media outlets but no one can understand the parallel universe of living in a third world country without having experienced it themselves.

It reminds you how vulnerable and insignificant we are as human beings but it also reminds you how valuable each and every day is. Ultimately, our memories of reality and the impact that we leave on others is the only way that our universe continues to exist long after we leave the physical place behind. In today’s society it is so easy to become distracted from what is in front of us. We always have a way out of uncomfortable situations. If we feel lonely we can text our friends, if we’re bored we can browse social media and if we want to laugh we can go on Youtube binges. I have made a personal promise to myself to be less distracted and more aware and absorbed in the moments I am existing in. When we are consciously aware of the beauty of life; it isn’t just exciting, it is AMAZING!

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More Than A Something

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Try as I may, being published on Thought Catalog still eludes me. Sadly I fear it’s due to the anti-stereotypical format of my pieces. I can’t bring myself to succumb to the dreaded lists! I am sharing this on my own blog because I think my thoughts are worth sharing! Today is also my 1 year blogging anniversary (thanks for the notification WordPress). No better way to celebrate than a new post that means a lot to me! I went back and read my first post and I truly can’t believe how much I have changed over the course of this year. This experience is so different than my expectations and I have gained more than I could possibly put into words. I have met incredible friends that will be a part of my heart forever and made enough memories for a lifetime. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my journey as much as I have enjoyed writing about it. I can’t believe how fast time goes by! I only have two months left in The Land of Smiles! “The days are long but the years are short”. Read & heed my message, whether you are apart of Generation Y or simply young at heart. 🙂 Cheers! xx 


More Than A Something 

Thanks to the eccentric depiction of “twenty somethings” in today’s society; whether it be blogs splattered all over the internet, television series, films or simply trendy hashtags such as #postgradproblems, twenty something has been turned into an exceptionally stereotyped and dare I say dreaded age group. Most twenty something’s are graduating college, searching for our first “real jobs”, finding our purpose, hooking up, breaking up, making shit up and eventually getting married, buying homes, paying bills, having kids and slipping quickly into adulthood.

It seems like just yesterday we were getting ready for theme parties, eating at the dining hall, planning our outfits for the football tailgate or staying up all night in the library. I’m not sure if it’s just my friends, my acquaintances, or my alma mater (LET’S GO MOUNTAINEERS!) but transitioning from “the wonder years” of college and turning into a “real person” is a difficult transition (to put things lightly). Unfortunately, social media has turned into a barometer for insecure twenty something’s to stack up their life against their peers. Who has the coolest job? Who’s engaged? Who’s having a baby? The real question should be WHO CARES? Turn the focus on who you are and who you want to be. I promise you will feel much better about your life. Many of the articles about twenty somethings depict us as angst ridden, awkward human beings who lack the hutzpah to get out there and grab the bull by the horns. I beg to differ.

Personally, I would like to defend not only myself, but also the majority of my fellow twenty somethings. I am not saying we aren’t angsty sometimes. We are definitely broke and we undoubtedly miss the carefree lifestyle of being university students. We may be heartbroken, we may be confused but I can tell you one thing; we can thrive dwelling in the possibilities.

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If you don’t like the book, STOP READING IT

Once again the anticipation leading up to my two weekends of traveling in July was validated and surpassed by the actual experiences. Amazing Thailand… always amazing. Our first weekend out of our town of Suphanburi in a few weeks was spent in Bangkok celebrating the Fourth of July! Nothing starts of Independence Day like being asked by your boss to sing the National Anthem in front of the whole school (about 2,500 Thai people). We asked for the day off to celebrate and our deal was that we had to sing the National Anthem in the welcoming ceremony for some visiting teachers from America first. Reluctantly we agreed because neither Jackie nor I have a good singing voice and it’s one of the hardest songs to sing for a GOOD singer. But, we already made plans to leave early and meet friends in Bangkok. We sucked it up and luckily recruited two more singers to join us so no ones talent stuck out too much.(Thanks Jared, even if you forgot the words) 😉

After being in Thailand for an extended period of time, when you are in Bangkok Khaosan Road is definitely not the first area that you are eager to visit. Since it was our American holiday weekend, we figured that Khaosan Road was the best place to run into travelers, backpackers and expats and hopefully find a way to celebrate despite being away from the Land of the Free! We did some research and found a great hotel right on Khaosan, D&D Inn with a rooftop pool, swim up bar and decent rooms. After our stellar rendition of the National Anthem we left school and hopped on the bus to Bangkok. We were in our red, white, and blue suits soaking up the sunshine and jumping in the pool by 1pm. Well worth the semi embarrassment.

As the day played out we began to meet new tons of new people. The pool was packed and we were surprised to meet a big crew of Americans. They understood our excitement! Things escalated quickly from there and despite the dirty looks we ran around that pool deck waving our American flag and made sure that every single person knew what July 4th meant to us! We even befriended a few Brits, Irishmen, and EVEN Canadians (LOL inside joke). The party continued that night on Khaosan Road, which is an experience like no other. For the rest of the weekend we continued to take over the rooftop pool, meet amazing people, shop, eat, dance, and especially laugh. We reunited with teacher friends that live in different areas and when we get together my cheeks literally start to hurt. Funny people make the world go round.

On Sunday we made the best discovery of the weekend, a little brunch/dinner spot a short tuk-tuk or even walk from Khoasan called Chomp. The food, coffee, sangria, milk shakes and desserts were heavenly. Yes, we tried them all…And, yes we not only ate brunch there, but also stayed late in Bangkok just so we could go to dinner there too. Nothing and I mean nothing pleases my friends and I more than a good meal, especially a good western style meal. Don’t get me wrong I ADORE Thai food, but in my town there are absolutely no options for other styles of food and sometimes you just need to satiate your craving for Italian, Mexican, Indian, French and ESPECIALLY SUNDAY BRUNCH. A twenty something girl has GOT to have a good Sunday Brunch spot, it’s basically a part of our genetic make up. After an action pack weekend in Bangkok school on Monday was extremely difficult but luckily my students’ smiling faces always make me feel good about where I am Monday morning. I really have the best of both worlds.

4th of July _0

 

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