Needing to get out of here.

Halifax is great. I haven’t felt like I have ever had more fun with such a big, loving group of people before in my life. But I’ve totally got an itch. I’m unsatisfied with my life. Mostly because I can’t support myself independently, which I know is something that I value and makes me happy. I feel so much more amped applying for jobs that are. not. here. I think this is a sign. This is a sign that I’m craving something more. There is just absolutely so much more to see, everywhere. I constantly dream up new ideas and places to go and what I want to there. I really am getting to the bubbling point of just fucking going anywhere. Starting it off and taking it from there. 

Money is holding me back a bit. I’m pretty broke right now, but at least not in a lot of debt like so so many others of the same age. So lucky, actually. I’d hate to go somewhere and then be calling back home to get myself bailed out. I just want to go and be free somewhere. Be myself. Do something new. Eat something new. Be someone new. 

I want to write another post entirely about the Otesha experience. I wish I had kept a regular blog of what I was doing and feeling the whole time. I do have a journal at least. It felt like such an accomplishment to fill an entire Moleskin. Started in June 2011. I’m so glad I have it. So much about myself changed in that notebook. But still, theres so many stories I have that still need to be written down. I really need to stop worrying about perfection. I want to have the perfectly composed chronicle of everything I do, but I’m realizing that is not going to come with out just writing for the fuck of it and not worrying about this high standard of quality. Things can be edited. This is what I keep telling myself. 

I think that one thing that holds me back from blogging is determining where that line is between writing about my life and developing my skills and giving too much away about the people I’m connected to and exposing them and myself to a point where I would regret it. I guess thats the challenge behind putting your own self as the author of a blog instead of some internet persona. I need to figure it out as I go. 

 

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Otesha!

I can’t believe this is finally all happening. It seems like it was so much build up, worry and anticipation that it is hard to believe that I am actually physically experiencing training week of my Otesha cycling and performing tour right now. What? Those things don’t sound like they go together? Believe me, I didn’t think so at first either, but now it seems silly to not have realized what a good fit they are together!

I’m still so emotional, but definitely in a good way. Emotional excitement and happiness that I am here doing something that I set out to do. That I’m following through on something that I decided to focus on. Maybe that’s what I’ve learned about myself this summer. That I need to give my whole body, mind and self to whatever I’m trying to figure out or accomplish in order to feel like my momentum is moving in positive direction. I like big ideas and plans. I definitely feel right now that I am a part of something bigger than me. It feels like this is something I want to be an essential piece of.

Just being surrounded by fun, enthusiastic, excited people that have many of the same values that I do is an extremely good feeling. Right now, still at training week in Kitchener, Ontario, I can’t even fathom a better way for me to be spending my time right now. The constant activity, learning, sharing and reflecting is exactly the type of thing that feels right for me right now.

My biggest reservation/hesitation was about the actual biking itself. Not to say that those qualms have been completely quelled, but I am certainly placing myself on the more positive spectrum of things since our first 30km group ride. The pace was excellent, the scenery rolled by and it was honestly really fun to be communicating with 7 others as we rode along country and city roads, clad in our spandex and bitchin’ reflective vests. I felt more empowered than the defeated feeling I had envisioned occurring, increasingly amped to pedal more and see more fall scenes of the province.

The inspiration I have gathered so far from those that I have met is overwhelming. The facilitators, I dare say, are potentially the best people imaginable for the presence and guidance they are bringing to this week. The Olumni chef volunteers are a vegan, local, sustainable food creativity inspiration; the members of my tour and the water themed tour have been a pretty solid group of people to go through all this with. Can’t wait to continue this unique experience and keep the good vibes high!

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Beginning to see through the fog of whatever the fuck I was in.

Ever since I cut off talking to my ex, things have seemed a lot clearer. I am finally able to focus on the here and now of living in Canada and trying to do the things I set out to do here, instead of continuously being wrapped up in thinking about going back to Korea, thinking about what could have been, what I could have done to make the relationship work, wondering if I was making tons of wrong decisions. Over analyzing things is just a terrible quality to have.

But anyway. Now its time to work on my absolutely soul-crushing procrastination tendencies. Not even tendencies, a way of life really. It seems like I have an actual block in mind when it comes to getting things completed. I still haven’t really found out what it is that motivates me. Money I guess, the only thing that I seem to be excelling at these days is my part-time job. I started working a few shifts for a marketing company, and did a one-time promo thing for another. I haven’t actually been able to sell anything, but I have been getting good reviews from the owners of the stores I was working in. So thats good for the ol confidence. Something is going well.

I do sometimes think about the stuff I’m promoting and wonder if I am doing the right thing. These cellphones and cars are not the stuff that the world needs to buy more of or produce more of. The things that we need to produce for a more sustainable and healthy world don’t have these heavy advertising budgets that I can easily get paid to promote. Those industries need to struggle on their own to get recognition. I’m hoping that the skills I learn from these jobs will be able to transfer over when I get a job promoting something good in the world.

Schoolwork, on the other hand, is struggling. The self-motivation that needs to be in place to complete distance education courses is just not present in me. I need to get over myself and just do it. Its so easy to read advice and know that its good advice and then just never put it into action in your own life.

Things I need to work on:

– Not worrying about looking stupid

– Not being afraid to ask for help

– Not being afraid of doing the wrong thing

All of these are super straight forward things to do with your life. What is my problem? Im worried about the people in my online classes and what they will think about my contribution to the damn message board discussions? My thoughts aren’t good enough? Maybe they won’t be life-altering musings, but at least they will be something that furthers my own knowledge. Helps me be a better communicator, etc. GET OVER MYSELF.

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How should my time be spent?

Does anyone else feel like this? Like they are constantly worried about what they do from one minute to the next? That every moment should be valuably spent on something worthwhile that is going to cause something positive to happen? I sometimes feel like this when I begin to attempt school work or fundraising for my trip in the fall. Like I don’t know what specific part of the big problem I should attempt to start with. I find it so easy to get discouraged these days, if something doesn’t work out on my first attempt, it may be weeks before I try to get things sorted with it again. I don’t know why I feel like every little thing I do is just such a constant struggle and something to again be procrastinated. 

I always pick the things I want to do the most first. Its the easiest choice. Im guessing this is not how most productive people live their lives. They get the things that are most urgent done first, the things that are dirty and need to be done no matter what. Those icky things that are the most frequently put off. Household chores can be icky, but I seem to love them when faced with doing something that uses my brain and something that I might be judged by someone else about. Like choosing projects, participating in discussions, sending emails. Interactions with others that I want to impress are the hardest things for me to complete. Its this sense of being a perfectionist that is holding me back in a lot of ways I think. I want to have things done perfectly and to pick the project that will be the most valuable and interesting for me. These ideal choices aren’t always readily apparent, so my struggle in picking something will often deter me from doing anything at all. This is something that I have to change. 

I feel like I might learn things a lot better by using physical materials, paper and pen, rather than getting caught up in copying and pasting everything. I don’t know exactly what that helps anyway. I feel like being creative and physically creating things instead of typing and clicking can really get the connections made and good ideas can come from it. I’ve been way too caught up in what technology can do and planning for the future that Ive barely been able to create anything original. This blog has been one of the best mediums for putting my true self out there and I like it. Its like being naked in public. All my thoughts are out there for the world to see and it feels refreshing. So many others do it so much more eloquently, but at least this is a step in the right direction. 

I miss the adventurous feeling of stepping out my door in Seoul everyday and knowing what it was going to be like, but knowing that not many other people in the world were stepping in the same footsteps as me everyday with the same state of mind. I rarely saw another foreigner in my neighbourhood. I liked that , I guess it seems weird though. I know I’ve heard other friends of mine say the same thing before: they loved being the only white person on the bus, at that bar, in that meeting. Why do we like this? I know that I started to feel like every time I went out side my door, I was representing the rest of the world when I interacted with people there. That my interactions and experiences with them were some of the few they had ever had with a foreigner and that maybe it would be a story to tell their family when they got home that day. If I reacted badly or rudely, it would become legend of that terrible foreigner and tarnish our reputation even more so. I know this might sound a little like ‘who does she think she is? the only white person? the most important white person?’, but think for a second about how you treat foreigners in your own city. I know being back in Halifax that people are pretty racist. They get some ‘Paki’ cab driver or someone they can’t quite understand at the checkout and all you hear is about how that person shouldn’t be allowed a job if they can’t speak proper English. 

Thats the person I was in another country. I know how much it can be intimidating to speak in another language and have to say something 5 times because they are not used to hearing a non-native speaker speak their language. It actually makes me feel so sad when I hear people treat those that are trying so hard to be understood in an inferior way.

I definitely moved from one topic to another there, but it does bring me back to what I started out writing about. What do I focus on? Should I be helping figure out hunger problems around the world through politics or policy studies? Should I be helping immigrants and fighting for better immigration laws around the world? Should I be educating young people around the world about health and nutrition? I need a bit of direction because there are just so many places and problems that need people to be passionate  about them. Its hard to decide to do whats right or what you actually want to do. Harder to decide when you are always second-guessing what the latter is. 

 

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Struggling

I’m having such a hard time with life these days. Every aspect of life seems like a huge challenge and I’m constantly trying to figure out what I want to do. I’ve been reading a book given to me by a friend that is all about living in the Now. To not constantly be going over what happened in the past and worrying about the future. Its hard to do, but I do think it would be a better way to live if I could incorporate more of that kind of thinking into my life. Right now I guess I’m just finding it hard to figure out what my goals are. Sometimes I really think I know what I want to do with my life and other times I wonder do I want to do these things just because its what I think I ‘should’ do.

The book also talks about not depending on external factors or people for happiness. I guess that must be true as well, but I think certain places and people can inspire your mood and focus in positive ways. I haven’t felt happy here in Halifax in quite a few weeks. In Korea, I felt stagnant because of my job, but my personal life and weekend life was exciting. I didn’t really feel like I was moving forward, but I feel like I could be if I had a better attitude about things and did different things in my free time. I have this aching feeling that I want to go back there and try things out again, but I then I am worried about how I look to other people. Look at her, she went back, she needed a man, blah blah. I guess I’m the only one who really knows what I want. I was really excited about this bike tour that I am still somewhat planning for this fall, but I feel like my heart just might not be in it. I feel like I picked it to give me a goal to work towards when I was trying to get over my ex, and now I feel like I don’t want to get over him anymore. It’s hard to open yourself up to someone new, I guess.

I think I also liked being kind of isolated there. I didn’t really communicate with Koreans in Korean, so I never really got a huge insight in their lives. Maybe that is what is so hard for me to get used to here. The fact that I can communicate every little thing with everyone and they understand the nuances of every little thing that I say as well. I did have friends that were native English speakers, but didn’t speak with them everyday. Perhaps it was kind of refreshing to not have to go into every detail about things with everyone all the time.

Every time I talk about going back, its always the same answer – stay for the summer, why don’t you stay for the summer. What is the point if I am pretty miserable right now? I guess I still don’t even know what my dream job would be, but I think teaching could be alright with a better attitude on my part and maybe a different level of students. I don’t want to speculate too much about what would be better, but I know I would have to do a bit more teaching to get by if I go back. It seems fun to me in my mind now.

Its hard not become defined by what you do and what you did in the past, but it is how so many people see the world that it is usually the only way to speak with them. Theres a lot of things I could write about in regards to what I’ve been doing and who I have been spending time with socially, but this might not be the right forum to bring those things up. All I know now is that hard drugs are not my thing. Too intense, too much, paranoia. Sometimes I feel like going back to Korea just to escape it all so its not even a choice for me. Maybe its just because I’m a bit sick right now, but I honestly don’t even feel like drinking that much anymore. I actually haven’t been since I’ve been back. Minus that night I was naked in a live art display for a gallery opening – yep, I got pretty hammered, drunk enough to feel alright walking down a staircase into a room of around 100 well-dressed, well-to-people with my vagina on display for all to see. Might have been drunk that night.

 

 

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Putting things off. A little more stressed out.

I don’t know how many times I have to try online distance education before I realize that I need structured study times to stay on top of things. My study skills are quite horrible. My focus lately has been off even more so than usual. The last time I took a distance course from Ryerson University, I was working full time and trying to have a jam-packed social life. I put things off so badly that I was scrambling to get everything together for the final exam and paper at the end and this stress affected every aspect of my life. I guess what I’m realizing is that I am one of those people who procrastinate to such a point that I can use it as an excuse as to why I don’t do so well, or not know the material well. Pretty self-defeatist attitude. This is really something that I am trying to work on this summer. If I procrastinate all the projects and goals that I have set for myself this summer, really I’ll have nothing to blame it on but myself. That is not what I want my life to look like. I want to be one of those people who succeed at the things they set their mind to.

This is one of the reasons that I don’t think I will be rushing back to Korea right away. The boyfriend that I mentioned in the previous post has been constantly at me, regretting his decision to let me go and trying to convince me to drop everything and hurry back to him. Even though I feel like its the right thing to do in my gut, going back to him right now will mean that my plans that I made to keep my mind of him will never get finished.

I have committed myself to doing a 1500km bicycle tour starting on September first. I found this opportunity when trolling for jobs on Craigslist and Kijiji. It wasn’t something that I planned at all, but as soon as I saw it, I immediately thought of how well it fit in with my future goals. What I will be doing as I bicycle through Ontario, stopping in towns along the way, is educating youth in schools about sustainability. We will be putting on workshops and performing plays about making healthy, environmentally friendly food choices and demonstrating the impact that we humans have on the planet.

It is definitely a cause I can get behind, but its terrifying to me in a few ways. Cycling? I have been on a bicycle roughly twice since I was about 10 years old. I don’t even own one yet. This might be the first step to becoming comfortable about the whole thing. Secondly, it makes me a little nervous to think about performing in front of an entire elementary school. I mean, sure, I acted like a clown in front of groups of 5-15 Korean students, but they barely knew what I was saying. I wasn’t able to understand their remarks or jokes about me if they had any. These kids that I will be in front of will be able to comprehend every word of it, and thats something that makes me feel slightly anxious. Hopefully this feeling subsides after I start getting to know the people I’ll be going with and what the play actually is.

My commitment to this project has made me feel strained in my relationship with my boyfriend. We talk almost everyday and everyday the conversation ends with him asking when am I coming back. Even though I’m nervous about things and I know its going to mean a huge life change for me to become fit enough to travel 15-75km/day on a bicycle with all my belongings packed on it for nearly 2 months, I don’t want to give up on it. I don’t want to look back and regret running back to him when I told myself I would do this.

I am trying to convince myself not to be constantly worrying about the unknown, whether the decision to go back to Korea will be the right one, will I be able to live in Korean society without my close friends who got me through so much? Will we turn out to be the right people for each other in the end? Even though we do love each other, there is not much else in common to be honest.

In addition to putting off studying and participating in my food security policy and urban agriculture classes, I have been putting off fundraising and gathering the equipment I’ll need to embark on this tour. There are only a few months between me the end results of these 2 aspects of my life. I need to make a change in my habits so the results are ones I can be proud of, and not ones of regret because of what could have been.

One thing that I’ll blame my procrastination on is the job hunt. My technique has been to try and apply for the jobs that I think not many others are applying for. This has a allotted to a few part-time, sales/promotion type gigs coming up on weekends this summer. I hope it is enough to keep me afloat in regards to food and life, but I feel like theres not going to be much of a hope to save to fund any new adventure in late fall after the bike trip. I just might have to sign my life away to teach again somewhere. Korea? China? That debate I’ll save for next time.

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Flowing Emotions

I have been trying to figure out the reason behind why I so easily and publicly been displaying my emotions lately. First thing that anyone would tell me – its a lot of life changes. I’m currently underemployed, single and back in Canada. None of these things were the case just about 6 months ago.

In October I finished a 2 year teaching contract at a private English language academy in Seoul, South Korea. I was happy to leave at the time. I was also sad. Even though I felt I was somehow ‘under-utilized’ – just there to please the parents that a foreigner was interacting with their children, I did love some of those children. Some days I actually felt like I was making a difference and that they were learning. A friend that teaches Tae Kwon Do once changed the way I saw my role when he said,”Think of it as a cultural exchange. Don’t worry so much about them actually remembering the material. Realize that you are one of the first non-Korean people they have ever seen, let alone spoke to.” That did change my attitude a lot. Other days I felt like I was a glorified babysitter, just there so that the parents had somewhere to send their bratty kids for the afternoon as to not have to bother with them themselves. I guess I truly never realized the value towards my sanity to being employed. Even when you don’t feel fulfilled, there is at least something getting you out of bed everyday. People notice when you don’t show up. Kids can make you feel special and loved with the smallest of gestures.

The job hunt back in Halifax, Nova Scotia has been a slow-moving process at best. Even with a Bachelors degree and 2 years of job experience, there is little here in Eastern Canada that is exactly what I want to be doing, or even a job that will allow me to gain skills in different areas. Volunteering is there, but that certainly does not allow me to save for future adventures. Even with a few years of serving under my belt, most people who are applying for the same jobs have a lot more, and more recently.

After I had finished my contract on Halloween 2011, I spent the next 3 weeks or so at my boyfriends parents apartment. I really did not want to rush out of the country and seeing as how my boyfriend had been studying for the Korean police exam the whole time we were together, I felt it would be a good chance for us to spend some time together without him having to feel stressed out about not being at the library. I can write more about that whole situation another day.

After spending a week together in Bali, he went back to Seoul and I continued on my travels. It was during this time that I realized some of the things that I was missing. I was missing a partner who wanted to talk about the same things that I did. This was my first real relationship and I was starting to get the feeling that I was missing out on something in the whole relationship world that wasn’t possible with a non-native English speaker. I felt like I wanted someone who was interested in learning about how the world works and never wanted to stop learning. I felt like I might become held back by being with someone who wanted a sedentary, average, stable Korean life. I still don’t know if this is true, but a few days after Christmas, with 4 of my best friends surrounding me on Koh Samui, I broke up with him after over a year together.

It was hard. I never really stopped analyzing it and regretting what I didn’t do to make the relationship better (study Korean harder). I kept thinking about how things could have been different had I done this or that. I travelled around for a few more months and finally got Dengue Fever in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I had also cracked the screen in my new Macbook Air and my saved cash was dwindling. Now after becoming parted from a few of my friends on not the greatest of terms, I was afraid not to stay in the hospital after the doctor recommended it, but I had no travel insurance. Even with my poor math skills I knew my days of carefree spending and eating in South East Asia were numbered.

I went back to Korea for a week with the greatest intentions of fixing the break up that I had started, but nothing I said could undo the damage and loss of trust that that first break had caused. He was worried. Worried about me ending it again, what life would be like for me in Korea if I lived their full-time, worried that I would just find things too hard and give up on it all again. I stayed once again at his families home and cried myself to sleep every night that he was gone to training during the week and again when he was there to hold me during his free weekends. I tried my best to interact with his family and they being so concerned for me were always around trying to get me to eat. I felt guiltier and guiltier that I couldn’t join them at every meal because of my suppressed appetite and fatigue. I felt even more guilty that I wasn’t able to speak to them in their native tongue when I was once again a guest in their homes.

So home I came. Devastated, tired from the remnants of Dengue fever still lingering in my body, nearly broke, and Winter weather instead of the tropical rays of Thailand and Cambodia. I don’t remember doing much else than sleeping for the best part of a month.

So here I am now, a few months later. Still no regular work, but I have training for a few part-time sales-type jobs coming up this month. At least to keep me a float in terms of cash. The problem with keeping my emotions in check seems to be that I can’t be satisfied with any decision that I make. I second guess myself at every corner and wonder have I done things right. I know that this is no way to live. I just wish I had more focus on achieving my goals.
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