WCW: Melinda Bell

For November’s Woman Crush Wednesday and in honor of her birthday next week–  I am so excited to bring to you an interview with “My #1 Lady” as she is called in my iPhone contacts. This woman has raised me into the person I am today and I couldn’t be more proud of her and how far she has come. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Melinda.

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My momma. I usually explain how I met the person I’m interviewing but she’s been stuck with me since birth. This photo is my absolute favorite and how I could depict her spirit.  My mother is an extremely impressive example of resilience, kindness and intellect. Growing up– every single person I met was so jealous that she was my mom. Her students worshiped the ground she walked on and she knew how to make everyone feel special. But as a teenager I was moody, my mom was exhausted, and we both struggled with mental health issues and normal mother-daughter growing pains. It was a rocky road at one point. And then I grew up and realized what incredible sacrifices this woman made for us. I saw her as a human being– not just my mother. I realized I needed to be there for her in her times of struggle and remind her all the good in her she lost sight of from time to time. It’s impossible to paint our story without the pain because my mother worked so hard to come back from a hard place. And to me that’s what makes her even more of a superhero. 

But this story has a very happy ending. She is now a retired teacher and her mental health (and physical health) is on a steady incline. She is the happiest I’ve ever seen her! Not to mention she has recently gotten very serious about changing her diet and nutrition and with the help of her coach daughter’s suggestions has lost 31 pounds!!! I am over the moon excited to see her thriving in her retired life after going through such a tough period. She is a prime example of never giving up! 

This woman has taught me how to be a cheerleader. She is the kindest, most supportive person I’ve ever met. She feels every up and down I have and listens to me without judgement. She has read more books than anyone I know and I’m still waiting for her to apply for Who Wants to be a Millionaire? She is the queen of random knowledge. She’s a great cook, loves to go out to eat  at new restaurants and talk about food while eating food(like only the best kind of people do.) She is a pure genius (not kidding), eloquent, funny and  always willing to help. I could gush for days but I’ll let her do the rest.

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But I don’t have time for that…A lesson on Gratitude

It’s easy to get caught up in life being too busy. Since going back to working full time for someone else here in New Zealand- something I haven’t done in a couple years my life has exploded with things I “have to do”. I am working with a very specific end goal in mind- my 10 week trip with my boyfriend all across America and Europe, showing each other our home countries and meeting each other’s families. This trip is so important to us and since the unexpected move to New Zealand came things haven’t gone as expected for us. But we are both willing to sacrifice now to make that trip everything we dreamed it would be.

 It’s easy when we are busy working, running a side hustle, cooking, cleaning, being there for our family and friends and trying to be somewhat social to forget about things that light us up. But just because you don’t have tons of free time doesn’t mean you can’t use the time you do have wisely.

“Oh, I’m so busy right now.” I don’t have time to go for a hike, go to yoga class, write a blog post, or meditate. Hold up. Those are actually my favorite things to do. What is the point of living if you don’t save time for your favorite things? That may mean you have to give up other time fillers that simply don’t light you up as much such as watching tv,  drinking every night of the weekend or attending social events simply because you “have to”.

Make a list of the things that you love to do. With the free time you do have, no matter if it’s 20 or 30 minutes this week, you still have some time for you. Realistically, almost all of us have that time daily.  Figure out how you can schedule in those magical moments. Use it as a reward for completing your work week or simply a celebration of life. There is nothing wrong with taking time out to fill yourself up. Mental health wise- it’s required and I find it’s our duty to ourselves to do the things we know make us the brightest version of us.

If you are traveling, short- term or long term this goes for your travels as well. Don’t feel as if you need to jam pack your days with all the tourist attractions and instafamous locations in that area. Do what you LOVE to do on vacation. If that’s laying by the pool, go for it. If it’s finding the best cup of coffee, scoping out every art museum or hiking to the tallest mountain- do it! Don’t feel pressured to do things you don’t want to do just because that’s what other people do in that country or destination.

Right now, I have to save all of my pennies. I’m working 6 and usually 7 days a week with my own business and my full-time job. But there is still some time for adventure. Definitely not as much as I like, but I find that when I stop focusing on everything I have to do, just make a list of the things I have to do and a list of the things that I want to do. I make sure that I cross off from both lists. This Sunday, that meant waking up, working for an hour, working out, going for a mini adventure that was right near the local grocery store we shop in New Zealand. It was a quick little nature trail that ended with quite an impressive waterfall. It probably took an hour and a half or two hours of our Sunday and then we went on to grocery shop, meal prep, clean and work a bit more.

During that time in nature, I cleared my head and I spent quality time with my favorite person. I got my body moving. We talked about gratitude and how much we had to be grateful for despite the fact that life hadn’t been happening as we expected. Earlier that morning I was crying, feeling anxious, overworked, stressed and I took the time out of my day to do the things that fill me up, and what do you know? I felt better. Something is better than nothing. I would like to be immersed  in nature, deep in the mountains hiking or frolicking at the beach for my entire weekend (well, really my entire life) but if that’s not in the cards, well, it’s time to find little ways to find that calm, joy and gratitude.

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This isn’t the longest blog post or the most in depth and inspiring. But I showed up. Because sometimes that’s all that life is about. Showing up when life is wonderful is easy but showing up when life is less than ideal, that’s the hard part. That’s what sets you apart as someone who lets life happen to them or someone who creates their own reality. I refuse to take a back seat. And when things aren’t going my way, instead of fighting it, I’m working on embracing it, controlling what I can control and accepting that if I can see it or not there is a purpose for this part of my journey.

Make a to-do list of your responsibilities but don’t forget to make a to-do list of the things that bring you joy. Something is better than nothing. Fill up your cup a little bit at a time and focus on being grateful for the beauty. Interrupt that anxiety and stress with gratitude, not just once in awhile. Daily. Don’t just think, “oh yeah, that’s a nice idea.” Put it into action.

This Sunday I’m grateful for:

  1. Finishing 8 weeks of my workout program today feeling super bendy & strong
  2. Casual pit stops at waterfalls before grocery shopping-NZ life
  3. My bf delivering me an awesome lunch from a cafe down the road & meal prepping for us for the week
  4. Booking another flight for our summer adventure solely with my coaching income
  5. Ended the night by seeing a shooting star!

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Focus on gratitude and the feeling grows and spreads. Focus on your worries and they’ll be the one to grow. What five things are you grateful for?  How will you fill up your cup this week so that your tank feels full? I write this because I needed this reminder so bad this week and with the support of my lover, a large dose of gratitude and nature time yesterday, I transformed my mindset. You can do it, too.

Should you book the flight?

I can’t let my streak be blown completely by my travels. I’ve spent two glorious weeks in Bali and the best way to describe my feelings are recharged.  I have tons of tips, photos, stories, and videos to come in the near future on my blog but tonight I am singing a different tune. Honestly, I’m not sure how this song will play out. My words are such a safe and comfortable place for me. It’s as if I could be anywhere in the world and once I start writing it’s like metaphorically being snuggled on the couch on Stinard Ave with my parent’s favorite blanket. They are safe but they are also intoxicatingly surprising. Kind of like a librarian who also has an affinity for S&M. My truest voice comes when I just let my creative one take over and run the show.

As my trip comes to an end I’m feeling reflective( me, reflective? Never) I think that travel in general is romanticized in photographs, blog posts and movies especially to a place like Bali. I know that as an American Bali sounded so exoctic and far fetched to me when I lived in the Northern Hemisphere. The flights alone were way out of my student loan debt teacher salary price range. But once I moved to the Southern Hemisphere, Bali became a totally accessible and logical vacation spot. And one that I simply had to experience.

The first time I went in 2014 was with three of my American girlfriends who I taught in Thailand with and became extremely close to. We traveled to Bali for just over two weeks, Australia for just over two weeks and ended the trip in Thailand for one final shabang on our favorite island Ko Phi Phi.  It was coincidently following my final breakup with my college ex of five and a half years. That trip was one  defined by freedom, exploration and healing. I will never forget the spark it lit in my soul. It is what ultimately led me to move to Australia and fall in love with traveling on a whole new level.

Needless to say, this trip has been a tad different coming to Bali with my boyfriend as opposed to four single American girls.  I wasn’t exactly nervous about traveling with Harry but I was very curious to see how well we would get along with the stressors of an international trip. If you don’t already know this, you may have very close relationships with people but that does not mean that they are always meant to be your traveling buddy. I think traveling exposes the most vulnerable and messy sides of a person and your travel vibes and desires just have to match in order for it to be enjoyable for everyone. No pressure, Har.

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Single, Taken, Heartbreakin: Why we all need Self-Love

Valentine’s Day seems to be a day we obsess over being in love and more so being lonely. I have friends who hate Valentine’s day whether they are in a relationship or single. But love is so much more than the feeling that people share in a romantic partnership. How can you love yourself a little more today? Are you sick of hearing about self-love? Are you confused by what people even mean by that term? I don’t care if you’re married, divorced, or a baby right out of the womb- we all deserve our own affection, attention and adoration. Self-love is a necessary component to being fulfilled, challenged and whole. Ultimately, you loving yourself shapes a better world for all of us. What should you remember to ensure you’re practicing self-love today and everyday?

It’s not selfish– People are typically hesitant to take time for themselves. “I’m too busy.” We pour ourselves fully into our jobs, families, lovers and hobbies so that at the end of the day what is left over for us? Nada. It’s not selfish to put yourself first in fact, that is the only way to ensure you are the greatest lover, teacher, friend, daughter, mother, or  coworker possible. You cannot pour from an empty cup. The first step towards loving yourself fully is realizing it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

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The 2016 Collection: Travel

Travel

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“My biggest takeaway from all of my adventures living abroad in two radically different countries and returning back home to America in between, has been that the world is an absolutely captivating and magical place, if you allow it to be. Being open minded is the key to happiness, success, relationships and quite honestly, life.  I truly believe that for the most part people are their own worst enemies and let their fears hold them back from the life they deserve.”

“Traveling has forced me to be okay with not being in control(which if you know me was a VERY hard lesson for me to learn.) Traveling has forced me to see how taking risks is worth the reward. Traveling has forced me to savor the moments as they pass because you may only have a few nights with these new friends who you feel like you’ve known a lifetime. Traveling has made me realize that you don’t need a lot of money to travel you need a lot of GUTS. You need a lot of resilience. You need the willingness to get out of your OWN way and take some risks.”

“You have to be open minded in your approach to your traveling or you could circle the whole globe and not change a thing.”

“You are someone who decides that the desire to see the world is stronger than any other guiding factor.”

“Every traveler holds those stories in their memory, some to share and some to keep, but no two people will see the same world twice.”

“You can see a big and beautiful world or you can see a world full of pain and darkness. That is totally up to you.”

“Good and evil have existed since the beginning of time and will continue to exist. Traveling has reminded me to be open to the magic that this universe has to offer. Not just when you feel like it. Not just for a week or a stage in life. Be open to what the world has to offer you and see the magic in everyday life. Don’t ever stop seeing life as an adventure and that mindset will manifest your reality.  Leaving home does not mean that I never look back, I look back all the time. But my eyes have changed, my mind has expanded, my heart has opened.  I take life as it comes and I take people for what they are. I control myself (this is without a pitcher of sangria in my blood) because I know that’s the only thing I can control. I EMBRACE uncertainty because instead of holding myself back or being afraid of it, I am learning to celebrate the fact that I have no clue what’s next. None of us do. The more authentically you open your mind and your heart to the world around you the more the world around you opens. Allow the world to be the magical and captivating place that it is. Get out of your own way. I’m not saying everyone should quit their job to travel the world but DAMN, I am glad that I did.”

“The travel bug isn’t a creature you want to take lightly.”

“Traveling pushes me to my limits and pushed me out of my comfort zone to allow me the room to blossom into who I want to be. Or at least put me on the road to who I want to be. Traveling gave me the reason to start sharing my writing and the confidence to believe I had something to say.”

“When I lived in Syracuse last year for a short time, I might have taken for granted a nice dinner with Mom, an afternoon with my niece and nephew or getting ready with one of my best friends, but now, these moments feel like memories as they are happening. I cherish them with the sense of fragility and preciousness they deserve. Because I can’t see everyone I love as often as I want, I am able to invest fully in those moments and give my full self.”

“Wherever you are, and however you celebrate, remember to make this holiday season about love, celebration and admiration for life and the many blessings you have been given. It’s not wrong to miss what you’ve left behind, but don’t let it stop you from experiencing what is right in front of you.”

 

“Home will always be home for me. But the greatest feat of all, is feeling at home within yourself. I can be alone on the other side of the world but I am confident enough in who I am and where I’m going to feel at home.”

Dear Sydney…

Dear Sydney,

The past week has been overflowing with more reflection than usual for me. If I gave you an hour inside of my brain I assume you would be quite exhausted and possibly terrified. I am celebrating a year of living here in Sydney. I moved to Australia at the end of July 2015 but I went backpacking for two months up the East coast and I landed in Sydney at the end of September 2015, for what I thought was a few weeks. When I moved to Australia it was my intention to live in Melbourne. My teacher besties I met in Thailand moved there and when I visited the fall before I fell in love. I came to Australia not knowing exactly where I would end up, but I had an open mind and an open heart. After a few weeks in the hostel I was running out of money, so I knew it was time to get another job. My job search began and I made the Library of New South Wales my go-to spot. Something about being in a library makes me feel safe and at home.  It was while I was living in this cheap hostel, searching for a job, checking my bank account after every purchase, exploring the city on my own, that I began stressing about the future and if I really made the right decision. I struggled with loneliness and intense anxiety.  I wrote in my blog a year ago how I took myself out to dinner for the first time at a fancy restaurant and forced myself to enjoy my own company, without my phone or any hesitation. It felt weird and uncomfortable but overall, it was liberating.

A year ago I had no idea that at this hostel I would meet the man that I am now in love and happily living with. I had no idea that my passion for health and wellness, helping others, and sharing my journey would turn into such a huge driving force in my career and my life. For all my travelers out there, I know you can understand why traveling makes you so reflective but if you don’t travel much, I would love to explain why. When you travel or live abroad, especially for long periods of time, your life goes into a time warp and months seem like years and days seem like minutes. It feels like you just left home but it also feels as if you have existed in this universe forever. You develop a routine in your new turf because despite the need for freedom and adventure, human beings are all creatures of habits. When you move away from everything you’ve ever known, you are left with yourself. You are left to define yourself, in whatever manner you desire. The people you meet may learn about your past from stories, photographs and Facebook stalking, but a traveler meets everyone at face value, as the person they are today. It’s a beautiful way to approach life and a particularly comforting way to approach people.

The whole concept of the travel bug sounded silly to me at first. It sounded cliche and overused and quite frankly, trite. But a harsh reality you face in this world, is that cliches only construct meaning in your life when they are relevant to you. The travel bug isn’t a creature you want to take lightly. Now that I have lived abroad for 2 out of the last 3 years of my 20’s, I am heavily addicted. I am in love with the way it feels to explore new cities and look at every minute moment as something special and worth remembering. I am in love with the feeling of coming and going because it constantly reminds you how good you have it. When I travel home, I see the same city I grew up in with fresh eyes. All my favorites of home become that much more divine and sacred. Even though I have lived in Sydney for a year now, it still feels fresh and exciting to me. When I got my teaching job, experienced a few weeks of summer in Sydney and met my handsome Englishman, I felt an overwhelming feeling of contentment. I felt satisfied, grounded and “home” in a way that is difficult to verbalize. I asked myself out-loud, and many of my friends, “Why would you ever choose to leave this?”

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More is possible

In April, I promised to appear weekly with a “headspace” blog post which certainly has turned into an incredible outlet for getting out my weekly thoughts, experiences and reflections. If you are a writer, you understand the often grueling process that goes into our craft and I desired a space to express myself without fretting over my sentence structure or my word choice. Of course, I pay attention to these things but for my weekly writing the actual use of my blog as a “headspace” or a “brain dump” was much more important than the mechanics of the piece. After discovering that one of my favorite authors Elizabeth Gilbert has her own podcast (called Magic Lessons, PLEASE LISTEN) I am feeling more inspired than ever to continue my journey as a writer and push my creativity to higher levels. Coincidentally, I also got an offer to be a contributing writer to an up and coming website that is seeking to be one of the biggest blogging websites on the world wide web. I am so honored and excited because the offer to write for them is completely aligned with my aim for myself as a writer. They encouraged me to write about whatever inspires me the most and see this as an opportunity to connect to a whole new community of writers and readers. Coincidence? I think not. That my friends is the power of the universe.

After binge listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast (trust me a podcast binge is so much more fulfilling and stimulating than a Netflix one) I felt an intense pull at my heart strings to pursue and cherish the gift and the passion I have for my writing. The stories inside of me are not something that I feel as if I can survive without telling. That may sound extremely dramatic to those of you who do not have specific creative calling(that you are aware of) but to me it is plain and simple. Like the feeling of hunger, excitement, joy, or sleepiness. The feeling to create is plain and simple for me and it is relentless. The more I listen to it, the freer I feel. You can expect to see more from me in the coming months as I pursue my new venture as a contributing writer. I am honored and downright ecstatic based on the continual support I get from those around me. My mother, will always be my most faithful reader and artful critic. But I notice and appreciate every bit of feedback you give me. The truth is, I would and will write despite the fact that anyone reads or enjoys it. But the fact that you read and enjoy it channels my inner “flow” of spirit. The more genuine I am to my most inner thoughts and feelings the more my audience responds favorably. To me, that is simply a testament of this incredible gift. One of my favorite quotes, that I have included on the homepage of my blog, “Great writers remind us that more is possible”- Kiddler & Todd. Simply put, I can not think of a better mantra for what I am to aiming to bring to my readers. More is possible, in so many facets and nuances of life, writing, troubles, and happiness. More is infinitely available but impressively elusive. Let’s go find it together. 

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A Good Guy

I try to be as open as possible about my life, my triumphs and my heartaches, my doubts and my beliefs and I am always willing to share matters that are close to my heart. Sharing is usually something that comes quite naturally and without reservation. One thing that I am always hesitant to share about are my romantic relationships. Not because they aren’t a huge part of my life but because I believe there is a sacredness in the intimacy of being in love that  should be protected and tread upon lightly. Not just falling in love but also falling out of love. I will never play the woe-is- me role. I am strong and independent but like anyone with a seemingly tough exterior have a big heart so I love and feel very deeply. I also was raised that if I didn’t have anything nice to say I shouldn’t say it at all. But today, I feel like I have a worthwhile message for girls who are in love, looking for love and especially those who are broken hearted.  

Around the time I started my blog and moved to Thailand I went through an emotional rollercoaster ride due to my relationship with my college boyfriend of five years. If you know me and/or him personally, please be aware that I write this with the utmost respect and delicacy. I also write it with a simple dose of the truth.  Like any relationship we had our ups and downs and for the most part we had a lot of ups but ultimately our lives were headed in different directions and we couldn’t continue to be a unit and go where life wanted to take us. At the time, I dealt with our breakup privately and in a tasteful manner which I still do to this day. I don’t believe airing his dirty laundry is beneficial for anyone. I forgave him on my own terms and took control of my own life, happiness, and destiny. It feels artificial to box it up and tie it with a neat bow because let me assure you, heartbreak is no simple matter. It was actually excruciating, relentless, isolating and persistent. But I can look back now, after I have fallen in love again… the right way… and be grateful for the pain because it lead me to where I am today. Long  before I started any type of relationship I fell in love with myself and how much I have to offer myself, my partner and the world.

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Simply Straya& Serendipity

It’s been a while but I’m back with a ridiculous surplus of adventures to share from the past two months of my life. I’ve felt more alive in the past two months then I can ever remember. I feel as if I have said that before on my blog but with little fear of redundancy I dare say it again. I must be doing something right if I continue to feel more and more alive with each chapter of my journey. As if moving to Australia wasn’t exciting enough I also stumbled into what still feels like a fairytale right before I left home. There are so many clichés that can make you crazy, especially about love, more specifically about love when you are doing everything in your power to not be tied to anyone or anywhere. But the old cliché that “it always happens when you stop looking for it” has reared its ironic little head into my life. I had no idea who I would find, staggering through Benjamin’s with more wine than blood in my veins, but I couldn’t be happier that I did. Our circumstance seems impossible but as always I am a firm believer that everything works out the way it is supposed to. I am trusting in my gut, the universe, whatever you want to call it and I’m sure everything will fall into place. Thanks to my new partner in crime my last month in America was kicked into overdrive with lots of new friends, good food, long nights, surprises, Coronas and heart to hearts and the grand finale of jumping out of a plane for the first time. We went skydiving the day before I left for Australia and it epitomized how the last month felt; intimidating but extremely exciting, vulnerable but free, anxious but genuinely joyful. I guess it’s most easily explained as serendipity, finding something good without looking for it. And honestly, I still can’t stop smiling.

The next day I hopped in the minivan with my parents, my ridiculously stuffed backpack(s) and boarded the plane with my new traveling partner, and lifetime partner in crime, my older brother Nick. We started off strong by being dropped off at the wrong terminal at JFK. After 27 hours, lots of bickering, and an exploded beard oil can (leading to an extreme drug dog scare at customs) we finally arrived in Australia(or Straya…what we lovingly call it now). We got a shuttle to our hostel in Brisbane, which is the center of the east coast of Australia. We had one night booked at our hostel and absolutely no further plans. I am not exaggerating. We explored the city all day, hit up a street food market and called it an early night. We decided to book another night and wait for the arrival of the final member of the #Wandernuts trio, Jackie, to arrive from Fiji. The owner of the hostel just laughed as we came down to reception the next morning and asked to book another night. He said, “Yeah I planned on coming to Brisbane for a week… 9 years later…” Nick and I looked at each other with an “OH SHIT” kind of glare and #9yearslater became a running joke for the rest of the trip.

It is absolutely mind blowing how many people I have met in Australia in the past month who had no intentions of staying one place or the other but were enticed by the beauty, the freedom and the kindness that saturate every corner of this country. Brisbane served us well and who knows how long we would have been trapped there if it wasn’t for Nick & Jackie’s deadlines to get back to America. If you are visiting Brisbane be sure to check out the XXXX Brewery tour, Koala Sanctuary, rent bikes and tour the riverfront, botanical garden and lagoon. If you are looking for an amazing hostel check out Brisbane City Backpackers, awesome location, sweet set up and the staff was so helpful. The people we met in Brisbane truly made that city come alive. In the blink of an eye, we went from having no plan to having every single day, bus, hostel, ferry and boat trip planned for the next two and a half weeks. Shout out to Jake at Wicked Travel Brisbane, thanks for simplifying our lives and making our holiday experience perfect!

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The Most Beautiful People

Since my last post I have been busy teaching, binge watching Orange is the New Black, picking up a new workout and hobby (Muay Thai) and traveling. I realized I only wrote a draft for this but never posted it, so I will post two in a row to make things less confusing. I love my blog but I also love writing for myself. Blogs can be for yourself but I believe when you write with the knowledge that you have an audience you subconsciously change the way you present your thoughts and emotions. Some thoughts and emotions of this journey I have to hash out on my own…

Jackie and I decided to explore Suphanburi again for a weekend. Teaching is extremely draining and we don’t want to wear ourselves out by pushing ourselves to explore too much, too soon. The last few weeks were all about getting back into a routine healthy lifestyle that I have somewhat neglected in my adjustment to this new world. I am an avid runner and gym-goer who enjoys eating a healthy diet with occasional splurges. I loved to cook for myself back in the US, so eating out every night was a huge adjustment. I also have been warned by just about every person I talk to that I should never run alone here, so that kind of cancels running out of the equation. Luckily, there are many alternatives to explore. I have been going to yoga class with foreign teachers from my school twice a week and I have started up the Insanity dvds (once again).  I swear it is an addiction…

One day on the songtow (mini bus) on my way to yoga, a young Thai girl asked me where I was going in an extremely Western sounding accent. Surprised, I told her I was going to yoga class and she asked if Jackie and I were interested in coming to Muay Thai class instead. Without hesitation… we both replied, “Sure!” Our impulsive attitudes are a great asset to traveling (but sometimes a burden to our bank accounts 😉 ) Muay Thai is martial arts/boxing style fighting that is famous all over Thailand and the world. It was extremely awkward walking into a huge open gym with dozens of half naked Thai children in silky high waisted boxing shorts.

The young girl explained to us that she studied abroad in the US two years ago (explained her impeccable English) and that she would translate for us. The Muay Thai instructor spoke very little English but he was very excited to have us there and paid a lot of attention to us throughout the workout. We worked on kicking, kneeing, elbows, push ups, sit ups and a variety of moves and by the end we felt tired, sweaty and accomplished.  He invited us back whenever we want and we have already been again a few times! It is a great workout and despite the stares burning through us as we awkwardly attempt the moves, it is a lot of fun too! Plus… it’s free… which is a great thing no matter what country or continent you are on.  I love working out and anything that makes you sweat. I love the challenge and I love endorphins. I am addicted to the way I feel after a great workout, no matter what that workout may be. I am so excited to have a variety of options to keep me active and release my hyperactive energy in a positive form.

School remains exciting and challenging everyday. Everyday I realize things about my students and about teaching EFL that I didn’t know the day before. It is frustrating but it is also motivating to discover the most affective ways to help our students better not only their English but also their lives! I enjoy the fact that my job is like a constant riddle or puzzle, which takes tons of patience, creativity, resilience and thinking to be successful. I feel stimulated by this task that others may find daunting. That’s how I know that teaching is the right job for me! I depend on my kids just as much as they depend on me. They are my constant in this new adventure and they give me purpose when I feel like a lonely traveler, when I miss home, when I struggle to maintain my old life and embrace my new one.

In today’s society we expect instant gratification for every aspect of life. We expect every question to have an answer that we can find from a quick Google search. We expect to understand our culture shock and moving away from the ones we love and care about the most. We expect for long distance love to be hard but we don’t really know how hard it will be. Life is messy, human beings are complex, no matter how much the world around us changes and advances, our minds and our hearts are primitive. Our pain is raw. Our love is powerful. Our sadness prevails. Our kindness prevails. Human beings and their emotions don’t fit into the Google search page. I wish I could read a book, “What to do when your life changes” but no advice in the world could prepare me for the emotional roller coaster that I have been on in this fresh chapter of my life. One day at a time… That is the only way to tackle this beast. You can’t break down the world’s wicked ways no matter how hard you try. Some days simply breathing should be enough to be grateful for. Now matter how hard I try, I know I can’t fix everything all at once, but I can fix the way I allow it to affect me. I can let it drive me to be better:  more compassionate, gentle, and mindful. Every single person fights their own battles and it only is easier if we lean on each other when we cannot stand on our own.Human beings hate being vulnerable but vulnerability is an exceptional part of being a human being.

For someone who loves to help and give advice to friends and family, it is difficult to admit I don’t have the answers or even the right questions. It is difficult to admit my utter vulnerability but I can’t escape it and  I am doing the best I can. “Even if things get heavy, we’ll all float on okay…”

“If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice it’s knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully. ” Matthew Fox

“It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”  Stephen Fry

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. “ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross