600 Days to 60

English: Path, Crackley Wood Temperatures for ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several months back, I discovered a blog, 400 Days to 40. Even though I found the blog rather late in her 400 days, it got me to thinking that I might like to try something similar for my next milestone. So I calculated (and recalculated) to find the magical day on which I would launch my new blog, 600 days to 60.

When I first calculated the start date for this new blog, I was keeping a pretty good schedule with Container Chronicles. Until April, when things slowed down, and then lay dormant for four months. This month, I’ve finally resurrected the thing, but I think I need to stick with one blog for now and see how it goes. Also, I haven’t found exactly the right focus for this blog yet. I wander around, and I’ve decided that it’s ok to do that. After all, it is about the journey and not the destination. This blog can be a container for all kinds of ideas and explorations. So it seems to make sense to have multiple threads in just one blog and see where it goes from here.

I’ve decided that I’m not looking at this 600 days to 60 as a count-down, but rather a count-up! I want to think of these next 600 days as a journey to find the best version of me there is to find. It will be a process of excavation and checking the foundation, and finding new ways to create and decorate. It will be a time of new keywords and of intentions that challenge and revitalize me. A time of decluttering, revisioning, and finding clarity. My intention is that this journey allows me to find what is important and discard the rest as I move forward toward a life full of vibrant possibility.

The moment is now. 600 days to 60!

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And now for a bit of Korean cuisine!

The day after Moon Festival, my husband and I went to Taipei to meet a friend and go to a Korean restaurant. I had never really officially had Korean food, other than a bit of kimchi on occasion, so this was a real treat. Especially interesting was the fact that there are many Korean foods that are not spicy. This was a great discovery, as I currently have to avoid spicy foods. Luckily, with our expert guide, it was quite easy to have a wonderful tasty meal with no heat.

Our friend, Jean, took over the ordering. For the three of us, she ordered four dishes (pictured below). She was very efficient about it, giving us a great variety of dishes to try.

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Yukgaejang 육개장 Spicy beef soup. OK, obviously this one is spicy, but it is a favorite of our friend, so she gave Dave some of it to try as well. I skipped this dish, but my fellow diners certainly enjoyed it..

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Bibimbap (비빔밥, “mixed rice”). This was definitely my favorite. It is served in a stone bowl and when it is served, you leave it undisturbed for about five minutes so that the rice can continue to cook, making it quite crispy and flavorful. Then you take your chopsticks and mix all the ingredients (vegetables, egg, rice, and small pieces of meat) together for a great blending of taste and texture. This was my favorite!

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Jajangmyeon (자장면) soybean paste noodle. I enjoyed this dish as well, the rich soybean paste sauce adding deep richness to the noodles. .

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Pajeon (파전): pancake made mostly with eggs, flour, green onion, and seafood.  Jean kept encouraging us to eat this one while it was hot! She was right. It was good when we ate the last slice at the end of the meal. But that first slice while it was hot was quite delicious.

After lunch, we wandered through Taipei City to Molly’s used books, where they had quite a collection of books in English. Although I only bought a book related to English teaching, it is a place I would certainly return. Our final stop before heading back for the MRT and the bus home was a wonderful coffee shop. As all my friends know, no trip is complete without a coffee stop. And even though we had coffee, Jean insisted we stop and get some of the best bubble tea in Taipei to take home with us for later. I’m so glad she did! It was fabulous!

The only downside of our outing was that the rain from Typhoon Usagi really put a damper on things (if you’ll excuse the pun). Sometimes, it would just be barely drizzling; the next minute we’d be in a major downpour. The worse moment was when our bus was arriving. I couldn’t believe how hard it was raining! But we made the bus back to Taoyuan. When we got off the bus, we opted for a taxi to take us back to the apartment. Probably a good idea, because even with a drop off at our apartment complex, we got another drenching.

It was a fun day, but we will save our trips for days when they are not typhoons moving through the area.  But the bookstore, the Korean food, and the possibility of more coffee shops will certainly bring us back on a sunnier day.

Celebrating Moon Festival

English: Moon

Usagi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thursday, in honor of the Mid-Autumn Festival, we attended the family barbeque of the co-owners of my favorite local coffee shop and pasta restaurant. It was quite exciting to celebrate this holiday with a Taiwanese family. Traditionally, the moon festival barbeque happens in the evening so that you can eat great food and enjoy the view of the moon. This year, however, Typhoon Usagi was threatening southern Taiwan on its path toward Hong Kong. As a result, we could expect overcast skies, wind, and plenty of rain.

Since it was unlikely we’d see the moon anyway, the plan was to begin the barbequing festivities at 3:00. As we walked over to the shop, the sky grew overcast. On the porch in front of the building, the first of the coals were burning in preparation for the cooking that would start soon. Luckily, there  is a nice awning over this porch, because by 3:30, it was pouring rain. Luckily, the young people manning the barbeque area persevered and outlasted the worst of the rain. Chicken wings, sausages, mushrooms, and various types of seafood were threaded onto wooden skewers for cooking, while corn on the cob was wrapped in foil before being placed on the barbeque.

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Rotating crews throughout the afternoon and early evening kept moving food from the prep table to the hot coals.In addition to the barbecued food, bowls of pineapple and other fruit was available, as were a couple of salads. We brought along banana chocolate bread and tapioca pudding, two of David’s specialties that he’s known for among our friends. So much great food!

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Above you can see how pieces of corn on the cob and various items from the skewers are then piled on plates. The baby corn on the cob was cooked with its husks and then shucked while still hot.

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The afternoon was filled with great food and enjoying one another’s company. Just after 5:30, glasses of wine were brought around. Since I can’t have alcohol, Mina offered to make me a coffee. It was wonderful. So cold and delicious. I didn’t even miss the wine.

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A picture of me with my Taiwanese friends.

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The Moon Festival is truly an event about food and people. The most fascinating part of the evening is that we all had a wonderful time in spite of the fact that my Chinese is quite limited, as is their English. But we’ve learned to communicate over time with our best efforts and our body language. Besides, food, laughter, and friendship are part of an international language that often doesn’t need words.

As Dave and I walked home, we looked for the moon, but the overcast skies kept it hidden. We didn’t even get a partial view as the picture at the beginning of this post, but it was a great Moon Festival anyway.

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Reimagining my Life

English: Creating a splash

Creating a splash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As many of you know, I have been teaching at a university in Taiwan for the past four years. During each of the past three summers, I have traveled home to the U.S., and I always have mixed feelings about leaving family and friends to return to Taiwan. This past summer, that all changed.

One day in August, I woke up to the realization that I was actually excited about my return trip.Even though I knew I would face the same workload and stressors I had left behind in June, I felt more hopeful than I’d felt in years. Without a doubt, this was a powerful moment for me. I didn’t need to look far to find an explanation for this dramatic shift. During an extended visit with my friend Joycelyn, I had a chance to more fully explore the materials she was developing for her course, Farther to Go. In the process, I gained several insights that changed the way I looked at my life and at the world around me.

It’s hard to pinpoint the strongest idea or tool of the course. Certainly, being more aware of how the brain really works has been life altering for me, but that’s only the beginning. The tools that help focus that awareness into intentions have held real power. I feel like I can reinvent my life, bit by bit; and those bits are gaining momentum. I’ve already changed long-established habits, and the results are allowing me to move in the direction of what I really want to be doing.

For me, the most important aspect of my work with Farther to Go is that I finally am finding out what it actually is I want to be doing. Until recently, it was hard to imagine what a life of my own would look like. Now I can envision all kinds of possibilities, while trying things out to see if they really fit. I am becoming wide awake to the world around me and more alive than I’ve been in a long time.

Stay tuned as I share notes on the reinvention of my life.

Making a Comeback

A New Beginning

A New Beginning (Photo credit: Shermeee)

When I started blogging back in November, I thought about it for a long time before I actually did it. But as a good friend has said to me MANY times, “Thinking about something is not the same as doing it,” so I set up a schedule that was regular but not overwhelming. Tuesday and Fridays were blogging days, and I was able to maintain that for five months, with only 4 “late” posts. Things shifted significantly in the sixth month–April. I started out ok: two posts the first week. Then two weeks with nothing. I came back for two more posts the last week of April. That, however, was the end. Even though I thought about posting in May, it definitely wasn’t the same as actually writing and posting.

Interestingly, I first focused more on the “failure” of falling off schedule than on the success of having maintained a regular blogging schedule for over five months. It took me a while to see it, but blogging as a new endeavor was greatly successful on many levels. And if I did it once, I could do it again.

In many ways, restarting this blog has been as tough as starting the first time. The same insecurities, the same seeming lack of direction, the same concerns about keeping it going once I start. But there is a difference. Even if the direction and content of my blog isn’t entirely obvious to me at the moment, the INTENTION to restart this blog is perfectly clear. As I begin again. I will see where this path leads. I will also be writing more about intentions and how they have changed my life over the last two months. Returning to my blog is only one part of reinventing my life. In the days to come, it is my intention to share these stories.

I am excited about where this journey will lead. See you soon!