Repacking My Life and My Blog

Never fear, my free form headspace articles have not been forgotten. As my blog has evolved over the past few years, I have felt the desire to do more with it. With daydreams of being a nomad,  I have watched countless webinars and read many blog posts on how to turn your blog into a profitable business. I already have my own coaching business which I began separately from my blog. I started my blog as my passion project, a way to communicate with my friends and family when I moved abroad to Thailand in 2013. I had NO IDEA what would come of it.

At the time, I was graduating with my MA from WVU in Secondary Education with a specialization in English. My BA was in English. Since I was a young child, I loved to write. I loved reading, creative writing, and creating entire fictional universes. I couldn’t understand why my classmates hated writing so much. If the assignment was one page I wrote three. I couldn’t fathom why it was so difficult for most people, but it just came so naturally to me.

Take a minute and think of your favorite teacher you’ve ever had. Every single one of us have “that teacher.” For me it was my 9th and 10th grade English teacher, Chapman. Chap. Chapstick (my personal favorite.) He is a living legend when it comes to teaching and he saw something in me I couldn’t yet see in myself. I am happy today to call him a friend and mentor to this day. In recent years and more stints living in foreign countries, I haven’t spoke to him as frequently as I would like but he will always be someone who I credit for my passion for English and especially writing. He made me believe I had something special, an actual talent. Mind you, both my parents were incredible teachers and my mother was a phenomenal English teacher whom I greatly admire,  but it’s really hard to believe your parents when they tell you you’re “special.” Mr. Chapman was that teacher for me and for that, I will always be grateful. I wanted to pursue this hobby because of him and I’m not sure where I would be without that spark to this deeply burning flame.

In high school, shortly after Chapman’s English class, my best friend tragically committed suicide. How on earth does a 15 year old cope with that pain? Partying. Check. Drugs. Check. Numbing the pain. Check. Writing. Check. Writing was my saving grace. I turned to this former hobby and past time as a form of therapy- an escape. This was really the only healthy coping tool I had at the time. I didn’t share much with others but finally I decided to share something I wrote for the one year anniversary of Corey’s death(which I shared again here for the piece I wrote about the 10th anniversary earlier this year.) I quickly realized that my words could help people. They could reach people. They might even be able to save people.  Then I thought they might be saving me.

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Bah, Humbug: How to Cope with Holidays Abroad

This is the part they don’t talk about. Quit your job, travel the world, you will have the best adventures, change your life and find yourself. But what about the hard stuff? Moving across the world can’t always be easy… Missing weddings, holidays, birthdays, and all of the silly days in between is not easy. Sure, you are the one who chose to leave but that doesn’t mean you don’t miss the people who you left behind. It doesn’t mean that half the stories out of your mouth aren’t about your family, this one time in college or the adorable photos you just got of your niece in the Nutcracker. The travel blogs and instagrams you idolize may not show photos of them tearing up in the middle of the street because they just want to go home. Or the feeling when all of your family is together and you are sick in bed. As usual, I am committed to being raw and sharing all parts of my adventures with you, so here is the truth behind never being home for the holidays.

Moving abroad to Thailand and Australia and being able to teach and adventure in both places have been the most rewarding experiences of my life but that is not to say they haven’t had their fair share of lonely moments as well. Yes, you will feel homesick. Yes, you will get sick of being the face on the Facetime screen, so close and yet so far from being involved in all the memories happening at home without you. The holidays make it especially difficult so I wanted to send some encouragement to my fellow expats, travelers, or anyone who can’t make it where they consider “home” this holiday season. This is the most wonderful time of the year, but like all good things, that puts a hell of a lot of pressure on you to feel merry and bright. Here is how I survive the holidays:

Bring traditions with you– If you are far away from home, find a way to decorate and spread a little Christmas or Hanukkah cheer. Watch your favorite Christmas movies, bake your Grandma’s famous recipe and make sure to share it with the people you’ve met or love abroad. Sharing our traditions with others makes them special for a whole new set of people. Luckily, I am a teacher so I always get free reign to teach my students all about American culture and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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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