A Tuesday in Taipei: Part 2

In my previous post, I took you from the front door of our apartment building (our apartment is on the 4th floor) to the bus stop, to downtown Taoyuan, and left off the post just as I was across the street from the train station. I thought I got a shot of the front of the station, but I guess I had another case of “extra light finger.”

If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

I headed to the train station at about 9:00 am, though I wasn’t really good about noting the time for use in the blog. Just know I left the house around 8:30. And got to the MRT station in Taipei at 10:30.

When I got to the train station, the first thing I noticed was how open and spacious it was. Certainly not like the last several times I’ve been there. On the weekend and during rush hours (the times I usually end up traveling), it is a very busy place. But look at it on Tuesday morning when rush hour is over.

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Here is the platform as I wait for the train to arrive. Just beyond the platform on the other side, you can see some construction going on. This will be a new train station for Taoyuan. It may not be open before I leave, but it will be great. The current station doesn’t have an elevator.

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I was taking the train from Taoyuan to the Banqiao station–a trip of about 20-25 minutes, where I would transfer to the MRT (subway) system.

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I’ll have to get some more pictures the next time I’m at the Banqiao station, but this is the best of the bunch. I also hadn’t yet figured out the settings on my camera. And then later the pictures get a bit blurry, and these are the best of what I took.  I think a practice session is in order. You may be seeing more of my Taipei travels.

Anyway, at the Banqiao station, you can catch the TRA (train), the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit system, or subway), and the HSR (High Speed Rail). I believe that it is the only MRT station other than Taipei’s Main station where you can get any one of these three major transportation systems. I’ve only been on the HSR a couple of times, but it is amazingly fast.

I headed to the MRT platform.

100_0672The MRT system is very convenient. It has expanded significantly in the six years that I’ve been here, and more construction is under way. If you look at the map below, Banqiao is on the Blue Line (#5), five stops from the bottom on the map.

mrtMy destination was the Shandao Temple Station. If you follow the Blue Line to where it turns, the stop is halfway between the Red and Orange Lines. I went to Exit 6 and this was the view.

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And this:

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The day wasn’t very clear, but if you follow the street to that open sky, you’ll see the Taipei 101 Building. Not only is it one of the tallest buildings, it has a great bookstore that has a large selection of books in English. It also has a branch of Jason’s Supermarket, a place that caters to foreigners who are looking for specialty food items from home. I found Bisquick there a couple years ago.  haha

I had 90 minutes to myself before my scheduled meeting, so a work session in a coffee shop was in order. Right across the street from Exit 6 was a Starbucks, but I was after a local establishment. Lo and behold, there was a great one located right next door to Starbucks. I was on my way.

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It had a recessed entry with a few tables outside. The whole thing was very inviting.

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I opted to have coffee inside where it was quieter. They had a lovely menu in addition to their coffee offerings, but I ordered a hot latte (taking a break from my iced latte of summer).100_0697

As I was trying to find pictures for this part of the journey, it was good to realize that I need to go back here to get more pictures. After all, I need the practice.  🙂

Hopefully, you won’t have to wait as long for the next post, but it will have some pictures that will make the wait worthwhile.

 

178 days to 60!

 

What Should I Do Next? (SofCS)

The prompt this week for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: start with a preposition.

Who would have thought that the struggling with the prompt led to the topic?  haha

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Image courtesy of 89studio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of 89studio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With all the things I need to do today, you’d think I’d have gotten off to a better start. I did get to Curves AND do some walking, so it’s not like nothing got done. But when it got to be 2:00, and I was only getting to the first thing on the list, it was a little disconcerting. But I think I know part of what’s going on.

For so long, I tried to kid myself about the illusion of choice. I can do this, OR I can do this, OR I can do this. So many choices. And I waste time and conscious attention wandering around from item to item on my list, spending my limited mental energy playing games about what I feel like doing. Now that I know better, you might think I would do things differently, but today is one of those days that I was on the verge of squandering a perfectly good work day.

On my list for today are six items. I prioritized the list because I have finally learned that just making the list and doing all that pseudo choice thing (choosing something from the list based on what I want to do) just wasted precious time and energy. It took me a very long time to make the connection between my indecision and my tendency to procrastinate. I’ve had people tell me that I thrive on deadlines. NO. What happened in the past is that the deadlines take away choice. Deadlines demand focus, and so there is no illusion of choice. I just do what needs to be done. I don’t thrive on deadlines. Deadlines make choosing irrelevant.

About the only good thing to come out of the deadline realization was that it wasn’t that the stress of the deadlines was the motivating factor as much as not having to decide what I could or should be doing. Or I got trapped in the craziness of believing that I was a good multi-tasker. It could be argued (and undoubtedly will be) that it really doesn’t matter WHAT I’m doing as long as I’m doing something. But that’s not always true. Like everyone else, I find dozens of ways to kill time, and it’s not always a merciful death. So the trick is to make the list, put it in order, and move from one thing to the next. Not that I don’t take breaks, but when it IS time work, I’m actually working, rather than shuffling papers and ideas and possible activities. It’s not like it’s inflexible. If something comes up, I adjust as necessary, but I’m not getting in my own way, by stopping several times a day and asking, “Hmmmm, what shall I do next?” I have many more interesting things I’d like to spend my time thinking about. But I can spend my conscious attention on the actual content of the projects I’m working on rather than a pointless decision process as to what to do next.

Of all the things I’ve learned about the brain and how much conscious attention we really have, the illusion of choice may be one of the most helpful things. Even if the prioritizing is random, removing the choice just makes it easier to move from one thing to the next. I had the perfect example of this today when I sat down to write this post. It was next up on the list, cool! But sometimes I have a hard time making decisions (which is why prioritizing my list really is important). And today’s prompt threw me for a while, because I had to start with a preposition. That should be easy, right? There are LOTS of prepositions. I just had to choose one to start with. DAMN!

For someone who often has trouble making decisions, especially little ones, this prompt really drove it home. Luckily, I came up with a solution. I made a list–just like I do for my tasks. Then I randomly chose one and began. With each paragraph, I stopped long enough to think of a way to start with another preposition and then kept going again. And I know that it wasn’t necessary to use a preposition for each paragraph, but sometimes I embellish things a bit.

In the end, it was the usual thing. Once I started, it was easy to continue, and with each paragraph, I just looked at the list and grabbed one and went. Starting is sometimes the hardest part, but that’s why not having choices really can be freeing, even though that seems counter-intuitive.

At least, the post is nearly finished. It rambles, but I’ve once again learned some valuable things by letting the unconscious part of my brain go to town. That’s the great thing about stream of consciousness writing–you don’t have to think about it.  At least not once you get started.  ☕️

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This post is part of SoCS: http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-august-2314/

 

268 Days to 60!

 

 

Moving Toward Wholeness, Shaman Style

About a week ago, I found this image the Facebook page of one of my friends, Susan Frank. I was struck by the simplicity and the power of these questions, and the easiest way to save it for myself was to share it on my Facebook page.

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The source for this image is Liora’s website, which you can find at http://www.twinflame1111.com

 

This message needed to be saved because over the last several weeks, I had found myself slipping into a cavern of deep frustration. I was able to keep the despair at bay–most of the time, but it was always nearby, threatening to join in. I kept working on projects and deadlines, but there was no joy in the normal day-to-day interactions with students that inspired me or reassured me that the efforts were effective. Occasionally, there would be some extraordinary moments where I actually got away from the desk and the classroom, but they were few. They renewed me momentarily, but they lost the cumulative effect that such encounters have had in the past.

This was my frame of mind then, when I encountered this message. I didn’t have to go beyond these four questions to recognize why I was so out-of-balance. The original four questions got my attention:

  1. When did you stop dancing?
  2. When did you stop singing?
  3. When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
  4. When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

I stopped all of these things when I felt like I had no time. I had plans to do a blog piece about dancing, but that was months ago now. It also had become necessary to stop going to Curves until the doctor cleared me to return. I could still be occasionally enchanted by stories, but it was harder for stories to reach my soul, and I stopped telling my own stories. As a result, my blog became lifeless. And silence lost all its sweetness as anxiety and its endless chatter took up lodging in my mind.

As much as these questions got my attention, I knew I needed to make them even more personal. I needed to create a list of questions that would guide me back to a sense of wholeness. A reminder that there are some activities that are necessary and not optional. By framing the questions in such a way, I could plot a path back to myself. I created a list of personalized questions:

 

  1. When did you stop making music?
  2. When did you stop quilting?
  3. When did you stop sharing your stories?
  4. When did you stop finding comfort in the small moments of beauty and sweetness?

In the couple of days since I created my own questions, there has been a shift. A summer quilting project will be revealed tomorrow. I’ve started blogging again, with more of a focus on stories, including a story about my future blog. I am set up to return to Curves in August. In the meantime, I’ve started walking to a coffee shop that is quite a bit farther than the local shops. The walking is the beginning of putting movement back into my life, while also giving me a source of new things to notice and appreciate. And a few times a week, the coffee shop provides a change of scenery that boosts my creative output.

At the moment, much of the stress has been eased, at least temporarily. I can now focus my energy on creative healing while accomplishing the tasks on my list in a more balanced way. Life is looking a lot brighter.

Winding Down and Being Thankful

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Over at Considerings, there is a weekly challenge known as Ten Things of Thankful. Although it’s been running for a year now (and had virtual cake for their anniversary celebration), I’ve only just joined this week. More about my motivation as I get into my list of the ten things I’m thankful for in the past week.

1. I’m thankful for the people I’ve met virtually through the blogging world. Today, that especially includes Sheena who has inspired me to finally join the challenge this week. She has a wicked sense of humor and a great writing style. Go check out her blog–you’re in for a treat. And I need also need to thank Sheena for the title of my post. Her title so resonated with me, that I adopted it. Thanks, Sheena!  🙂

2. I’m thankful that this semester is finally over (other than exams and final grading). Whose idea was it to have 18-week semesters in college? Geez, it’s like the semester NEVER ends. Even my best students seem to lose their momentum once we get to week 14.

3. Which brings me to how thankful I am for my students. The vast majority of them are a delight, and I appreciate how they become a part of my life and invite me to be part of theirs.

4. I’m thankful that book 3 of the textbook series was pretty much finished this week. A huge heap of frustrations lifted from my shoulder. Sure, I have to start book 4, but I can get a head start on it over the summer break (along with 5 other must-do projects). The schedule for my work this summer looks much more manageable with this part of the project behind me.

5. I’m thankful for people smart enough not to ask me where I’m going or what plans I have for summer vacation. This does not compute. I understand when fellow bloggers ask crazy questions like that–they’re forgiven. But the people who know what my obligations are? Seriously?

6. I’m thankful that I am entering my final year of living in Taiwan. Don’t get me wrong, I love Taiwan, but I don’t love this workload. I’m willing to scramble like hell this summer and throughout the next academic year for the promise of returning to my homeland in summer of 2015. OK, so there is a tiny rant there, but mostly, I’m thankful.  🙂

7. I’m thankful that I still have another here in Taiwan. I’ve had some great experiences and seen some amazing things. But I still have a list of things I want to see and do. I’m thankful to have a year to accomplish some of them.

8. I’m thankful for my husband, Dave, who is steady in his support of me, even when I get so terribly frustrated. I would not be able to get through all the projects and deadlines without him. It’s amazing that I’m able to keep making progress on my weight loss, because his wonderful meals just keep getting better.

9. I’m thankful for my family and friends back in the US, and how supportive they are even though this is the first year I cannot go back and visit in the summer. They understand and they encourage me, even when I feel a little homesick. A special hug to my daughter Kate for being a Facebook friend and fellow blogger in addition to being my daughter and a wonderful mother to Mr. Logan. You can find her blog here.

IMG_034510. I’m thankful for our little rescue chihuahua, Puppy, who is finally learning to come to me when I call her (if she’s already out of bed). That will be the next trick–seeing if I can entice her from her comfy little bed.  She now will sit on my lap while I work on the computer. And she is also wicked good at helping me with Sudoku puzzles.

Isn’t she cute?  🙂

What are you thankful for this week?  Share here or link up with the group at Considerings!

QUITTING AND QUILTING: AtoZAprilChallenge

a-zchallengeI’ve been thinking about the letter Q for a while, and since quilting would seem to be the obvious choice for me, I wanted to do something else. I had a few ideas I was toying with. But then Friday came along and changed everything.

When I wrote this post, it was technically Saturday, but I hadn’t gone to bed yet for Friday. I decided to start this post anyway, since I didn’t want to spend much time at the computer today.. In fact, I decided not to spend much time anywhere near the computer or my apartment or my work. I usually work most of the weekend, but not today. I quit!

I am not going to go into the details, but suffice it to say that yesterday was not one of the better days I’ve had. And while there is a lot to do to make things right and dig out from what has happened, there is something surprising that emerged from all of Friday’s nonsense. I’ve not given myself a break lately, and so this new frustration hit me a bit harder than it might have had I been in better balance. And even if it’s just my lame attempt at explaining why I’m taking a break, so be it. It’s worth an experiment at least. So I’m going to add one more “p” to the list from Friday: PLAY!

So when I got up this morning, I gathered a few quilting patterns, cutting materials, and fabric I’ve been wanting to cut for quilting projects that are currently in limbo. I actually packed them up, along with a picnic lunch, and headed to Jessica’s coffee shop. She let me camp out at one of the tables for the day, where I set up my cutting board and went to work. She had a few projects of her own she was working on between customers. We listened to music as we worked. We talked. We drank coffee. We enjoyed a lunch break half way through. We joyfully admired a large butterfly that found its way into the open front doors of the shop. It spent several minutes with us until it found its way outside again.

No pictures in today’s post, and I’m not going to do any real reporting about today’s progress. But some of it will show up in future posts. But after today, I highly recommend quitting. Sometimes it’s the perfect solution. At least, that’s my story.

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Have you ever had a time where you just canned the plans and had a play day? How long ago was it? What did you do?  Is it time for another one?