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.

REUNION (AtoZAprilChallenge)

a-zchallengeAlthough I currently face many frustrations in my work, I love the teaching that I do. I get great joy from helping people express themselves. In my current position, that often means encouraging students to discover ways to express themselves in English, even when they lack the confidence to try. For example, I often hear students say, “Teacher, my English is poor.” I finally realized that I heard it far too often, and many of the students who said it actually had English speaking ability that was quite good. So I finally challenged them to change what they said, AND I made them rehearse it with me before they got away. Now, I have them say, “My English is pretty good, and it’s going to keep getting better because I will keep practicing.” It’s great to see their faces light up when they go through rehearsing that response.
One of the biggest joys of teaching is when a former student goes out of their way to visit me. This was the case last Friday when I had a reunion with Jessica, a bio-technology student I had in a required English class three years ago. She was a junior at that time. She is now completing her Master’s degree doing work in cell biology. She will graduate in June and has just completed the oral interview for continuing for her PhD.
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What is especially touching about these photos is that she brought her graduation garb from home because she wanted pictures of me with her. She told me, “I didn’t get any pictures with you when I graduated from Ming Chuan, so I want to have a graduation picture with you now.”
When she posted the above picture on Facebook, she wrote the following:
Last Friday, I visited my favorite teacher, Deb Kraklow.
We haven’t seen for a long time.
We prepared pasta salad for our dinner together.
I am very pleased to be able to see her again because she always gave me encouragement and gave me a chance to speak English.
We chatted about our lives and I explained what I studied in my graduate school totally in English.
I was afraid to speak English before.
But now, although only in simple sentences, I can tell her what my research is.
If I had not met her, I’m still a girl who afraid to speak English.
I really appreciate her.
 

And I really appreciate Jessica. I couldn’t believe it when she told me during dinner that she wanted to try to explain her research to me in English. Jessica’s research examines the link between type I diabetes and osteoporosis and explores alternative treatments methods that could someday help treat both diseases. As you can imagine, explaining all of that in English is quite a challenge, but we worked together to piece it all together, and it turned out great. She was excited about it, and I encouraged her to think about trying to pursue writing her research in English as well to get even more exposure. I can’t wait to see if she tries. Of course, I’ll be willing to help her if she does.

One more fun fact. Because of her Facebook post, a couple other students have approached me about a reunion. I only taught English to the biotechnology majors here for two years, but it’s a special group to me. In a few days, I may be sharing another reunion experience I had a year and a half ago, with a group of biotechnology students from my first year here. In addition, I have a couple posts planned for next month that tell about my birthday celebrations in Taiwan. Two of them feature biotechnology students. AND Jessica is already working on a plan for my birthday next month.

Even without the birthday plan, I will always have the lovely memories of a week ago when Jessica visited me and shared an evening of reminiscing and research. There are many students who will always be part of my life, and Jessica is definitely one who will always have a special place in my heart.

 

 

When You Don’t Know What to Do: SoCS

It’s no surprise that things don’t always go according to plan, but some things tug at the decision-making process than others. That was the case this morning, when we awoke to a telephone message from back in the States. Dave’s mother had passed away. Even though she had been in a nursing home for several months, there had been no specific warning that this was coming. But apparently, once they got her ready for breakfast this morning, they went to get her tray and when they returned she was gone.

So what to do? Do we get a ticket and send him back for the funeral? There are so many complications. The funeral is scheduled for Wednesday–external pressure from somewhere–not sure where. Even if we put Dave on a flight tomorrow, he would get there just in time for the funeral. As it takes close to 20 hours to make that trip. Then there’s the fact that our resources are very limited right now. Then there’s the fact his sister, Cathy, the one who has been the caregiver for Mom all these years, has already had two bouts with cancer and is being watched for another recurrence. Dave returned to the US last year to help her through one of those times, with surgery and chemo. So the real issue is that if he goes now, there won’t be resources to go again before our final return to the US in the summer of 2015. There are no guarantees about anything, of course, but there are certainly none that suggest that Cathy may not need Dave before our return.

Too many factors, too little time, too little money. The options weigh heavily. Luckily, though, there is no heavy expectation that he return. It’s just his siblings are asking in case he does want to try to make it because it would then make sense to delay the funeral to make it less of a tight fit in the schedule.

Then, of course, there’s the idea of separation again. Dave and I spent the first two years of my Taiwanese adventure across the ocean from each other, and then have spent our summers visiting respective families. We had already decided not to travel this summer, when this surprise came along.

Emotionally, my preference is to not have to deal with it. If he wanted to go, if we had the resources for it to happen easily, I would somehow manage. I have before. But I don’t want to. I selfishly want to keep him near me as I work through the second half of this crazy semester, with textbook deadlines looming repeatedly in the distance–the disadvantage of having so many left to do and a tight timeline if I want to leave for the States by summer of 2015.

Luckily, Dave seems to be ok with the way things appear to be lining up. He wants to stay with me. He wants to believe that things will be good with this sister until 2015 and beyond, but he clearly wants to have the option to go to her if she needs him. And going now would eliminate that possibility. There is no way we could do this twice.

What to do? Not quite sure, but it looks like the dust is starting to settle. In the meantime, the other things that need to be done don’t seem all that important.

RIP Dorothy. We will remember you fondly.

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This post is part of SoCS: http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-april-514/

A Magical Night of Dance and Culture: Then and Now

Tomorrow evening, Rena and I are going to the evening performance of Shen Yun. Here is the trailer:

Last year, I ended up getting an email inviting me to check out the performance. A similar trailer captivated me, and I was hooked. I had recently discovered through a round of list-making that dance was something I missed from my past, and this was the prefect opportunity to reconnect. I had no idea just how deeply I would connect: I got caught up in the festive surroundings of the performing arts center, in the performance itself, and in the fun of chatting with a few of the musicians afterwards at a near-by coffee shop.

Although I never posted after the performance last year, I wrote some notes. I wrote about how the first half of the show immersed me in color, props, music, and the seemingly impossible movement that the human body is capable of. Every time the curtain opened, I was captivated by the movement of form and color. The costume designers, the choreographers, and the dancers brought together color, light, and movement to create moments that were nothing less than magical.

In the second act, something went deeper and I began to see the connection between what I was seeing on stage and what can happen in quilting and other visual art. I was reconnected with the part of me that loves colors, patterns, and textures, even though I’m not always sure how to put combine them to match my inner visions. But I felt my mind totally stimulated by a whirlwind of possibility. I like to think that maybe I’m becoming a little more confident about blending these elements into the ideas I have for my quilting and how to make visual movement possible through such combinations.

I knew from the first moments of last year’s performance that I would go again this year. I kept an eye out for the posting of the schedule. And now it’s here. Less than 24 hours from now, I’ll be experiencing that magic again. I wouldn’t be surprised if this time, you might get to read about some of the details. In the meantime, I’ll have sweet dreams of the wonders that await me tomorrow evening.

Coffee in Paradise: Reprise

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs amazing as that view was yesterday, the Magic Café also has an awesome interior. As if you would ever spend time inside. Well, maybe. If we really did go back sometime, and spend the day (and evening), going inside briefly to enjoy a Round Two latte wouldn’t be bad. Or if the weather didn’t fully cooperate, spending part of the day inside wouldn’t be bad. Though I have to tell you, I’d walk in the rain on that lovely beach!.

To be honest, I just had a brief glimpse of the inside, but I was so intrigued, I asked Dave to get a few pictures of it (since he was enjoying his photography session). He was taking pictures of the building anyway, so I didn’t feel too guilty asking him to take some pictures inside. Though I did have to clarify. I think no one really expected there to be seating inside.

It’s not a big place, but they’ve managed to have lots of interesting nooks and crannies, with an eclectic but charming décor. I find it interesting that with the water and coconut trees that they put so much effort into the interior, but they did, and it looks great!

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I have to make a point to pace myself next time and actually check out the inside for myself.

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As if there aren’t enough interesting things to look at, there are also some lovely seating areas. And next time, we could pose with our beverages at these seating areas.

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Or maybe you would prefer this arrangement. We could pose here as well. You do notice, don’t you, that there is not a single person sitting inside? But I’m sure there are times when the indoor seating is used. But probably not on these beautiful sunny days.

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OK, this one I could see spending a little time in this seating area, since one could glace sideways and see the ocean off in the distance. But eventually, who could resist the sand and the waves?

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We definitely need to plan a full day for this place next time to get the full coffee relaxation experience.

 

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FanFoFeb: http://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/fanfofeb-what-happens-when-i-go-out/

1:23 pm on 1/23/2014: Logan’s Birthday

Traveling in Taiwan

taiwan-map

This post gives just a small glimpse at an overnight trip that Dave and I took this week. A glimpse because I am focusing on a particular moment in time that was targeted during this trip, my grandson’s third birthday. My daughter selected the time of 1:23 on 1/23 as the moment to focus on. You can see the details here.

To get a sense of the trip Dave and I took, you can start by locating Taoyuan, the area where we live. It is located on the northwest side of the island.  Before the trip this week, I had never been further south than Taichung (almost half way down the western coast). Now, if you look toward the southwestern part of the island, you will see the city of Kaohsiung (the name is actually off to the left in the water). To the east of Kaohsiung, you will see Pingtung City. These are the two cities that we visited on Wednesday and Thursday this past week. I will give a more detailed account of the trip in another post, but I want to talk about 1:23 on 1/23, Logan’s third birthday.

While Logan was asleep in Michigan, we were already fully immersed in the day on this side of the globe. What I liked about this day was that in spite of the fact, we couldn’t be with Logan, we were in the midst of an overnight getaway, which was a celebration of its own. In fact, it’s only the second time we’ve been away overnight in the 2 1/2 years that Dave has been here in Taiwan with me. Knowing it was Logan’s birthday added an extra spark of interest to an already exciting outing.

If someone had been watching me at 1:23 on 1/23/2014, they might have thought it was a boring moment, nothing too significant. After all, I was sitting in the back seat of a car that was headed north: destination a train station about an hour away, to catch a train that would take Dave and me on a 5-hour trip back to Taoyuan.

A Whole Lot of Coconuts

But if they had seen what we saw out of the car window, they might change their mind. To the left, there was ocean, to the right there were mountains in the near distance. There were rows and rows and rows of coconut trees. I had never seen coconut trees up close and personal. It was amazing. Prior to the car trip, we had been on the beach and got some pictures of the coconut trees.

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Now maybe you think I’m nuts, but I was so impressed with them, especially their trunks. Check out the patterns and textures!

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Maybe not a traditional way to commemorate a grandson’s birthday. But as I will reveal in posts to come, we had quite an adventure leading up to this car trip, and I think Logan would have enjoyed the things we did. Regardless, I knew that he would have a great birthday when he woke up a few hours later and celebrated his special day.

Pictures of coconut trees may not seem to be terribly related to Logan’s birthday, but they represent a time of stepping away from the everyday demands of life into a place where we could just celebrate being. That feels a lot like a birthday to me. And I know I will have pictures of the festivities in Michigan so that I will have the visual images of Logan’s special day.

Next time, I will share some of the activities and events that led up to this particular moment.

 

A Moment in Time: Logan’s Birthday

I’d like to start with a shout-out to Randee at A String of Pearls. She is the one who got me thinking about these specific moments in time. She would randomly select a moment in time and post it on her blog for others to notice. If you chose to participate, you would be aware of the moment when it arrived and then share your written reflection on what happened. I’ve participated a few times, and my daughter gave it a mention in one of her posts–a moment that she otherwise would not have noticed in the same way. As she prepares for a blog pertaining to time, she thought about focusing on a specific moment in time.

So I plan to join my daughter at Sincerely Kate Mr. Loganat 1:23 pm on 1/23/14, as we notice what happens at that particular moment on Logan’s 3rd birthday. The moment will arrive for me in Taiwan a full 13 hours before it arrives for Kate and Logan in Michigan (the Eastern Time Zone in the US).

The other thing that will make this special for me is I will be on an overnight trip when the moment arrives. Because other people are planning our activities, I have absolutely no idea what we’ll be doing at that moment in time, adding to the adventure of the reflection. This is only the second time that Dave and I have been away overnight since being in Taiwan. The last time was last year at this time when we attended a wedding in northern Taiwan. This time we are headed to southern Taiwan–a must-see destination for visitors to Taiwan, but somewhere we have not yet been. We will board a train tomorrow morning at 8:11 to make the 4-hour trip. We will be greeted at the train station by one of my former students and her father. We will later meet up with another student from our university and will spend most of our time with them. It will be interesting because the parents of the second student don’t speak English. But they have graciously invited us to stay at their home. It will be a great adventure.

So, there you have it. Although Randee has decided to part with this concept, Kate and I are going to do it one last time in honor of Logan’s birthday. If you’d like to participate, feel free to join in and link back so we can see what you were doing at this moment in time: 1:23 pm on 1/23/2014. If you haven’t tried it, give it a go. You may be surprised.

My Journey to Taiwan

As I am approach the halfway point of my 5th year in Taiwan, I going to answer a question posted by one of my blogging friends. So, Bear, this blog post is for you, as I embark on a new series about where I’m headed as I enter 2014.

I can’t find her exact question, but it was basically about how I ended up teaching here in Taiwan. She’s not the first to ask, and she won’t be the last. Every time I get a new class of students, someone will ask the question. The short answer is: I was invited. The long answer is: it happened through a series of invitations culminating in the specific one that led to my move to Taiwan.

In this post, I will offer three narratives about the journey to Taiwan. Two of them are previous posts for this blog, which detail the series of invitations I refer to in my long answer. Interestingly, it was a year ago that I wrote these two posts. At that time, my blog was only a couple months old. Now that I have more followers, there may be others who are also interested in this story. So it makes sense to offer these posts again.

The third narrative is a piece I wrote for my undergrad college alumni magazine as I was beginning my second year in Taiwan.

Here we go!

In the first post, I detail the first seven invitations and one of the consequences.

https://myriad234.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/invitations-my-path-to-taiwan-part-1/

Invitation 1: New Job Position
Invitation 2: Entering a Master’s Program
     Consequence: Decision to Complete BA
Invitation 3: A Marriage Proposal
Invitation 4: Joining the Honors Program
Invitation 5: Becoming a Writing Center Mentor
Invitation 6: Taking a Second Major
Invitation 7: Considering Graduate School

In the second post, I continue with three more invitations and a couple more consequences. At one point, the invitations seem to compete, but we sometimes limit what we think is possible, as I would discover.

https://myriad234.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/invitations-my-path-to-taiwan-part-2/

Invitations 8 and 9: Apply to the Roberts Fellowship Program
     Consequence: Travel to Asia
     Consequence: Shift in self-perceptions
     Competing Possibilities: A Fork in the Road
Invitation 10: “Come to Taiwan to Teach!”

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And now for my contribution to the alumni magazine.

If someone had asked me a year ago where I’d be today, Taiwan would not have made the list of possibilities. Leaving the US wasn’t even a consideration at that point. But life has a funny way of surprising us sometimes.

When I returned to SVSU in 2000 to finish a BA I had started nearly 30 years earlier, I did so because I wanted to enhance my credentials for my work in church ministry. During my first semester back, I took an Introduction to Sociology course both because it fit my work schedule and it met a general education requirement, but I was not looking forward to it. I didn’t think I would be interested in sociology. It turns out I didn’t have a very good understanding of what it was. But I had the good fortune to have a professor, Dr. Joni Boye-Beaman, who awakened in me a love for sociology that changed my life. Within two weeks of the semester’s beginning, I had changed my major to sociology and have never looked back.

Members of the English department faculty were also instrumental in helping me forge a new direction in my life. Judy Kerman approached me after my peer review work in one of her classes resulted in an improved paper for one of the students in my group. She asked if I had ever considered teaching and suggested that I think about graduate school. English would have remained a minor for me, but for Dave Gaskill. Although we lost his gifted teaching way too soon, I will always remember his advice both on my writing and on my approach to project management. He also talked me into majoring in Professional and Technical Writing. Diane Boehm welcomed me into the Writing Center and encouraged me to develop my twin loves of writing and teaching. Kay Harley, Janice Wolff, Phyllis Hastings, and Mary Harmon provided support and friendship as I completed my second major.

In the 2003-2004 year, I was accepted into the Roberts Fellows, and another round of surprises and experiences awaited me. In May of 2004, I visited Taiwan for the first time, and spent time at both Ming Chuan and Shih Hsin Universities. When we went to Tokashima University in Japan, I found myself feeling an urge to return to Japan for a year and teach English. I asked a few people about it while I was there and even mentioned it to my husband, who was also willing to join me in that endeavor. But there were many challenges. My youngest child was still in high school, my parents were recovering from a major car accident, and my age put me in a situation of having to choose between two competing goals–teaching overseas or going to grad school. At that time, it didn’t seem I could do both, so I went to graduate school.

But after graduate school, I began looking for a job teaching sociology in a community college. As I was preparing the materials for my applications, I emailed Dr. Robert Yien (former Vice-President of Academic Affairs) to ask him for a letter of recommendation. I did not realize that he was currently working at Ming Chuan University to assist them in working toward U.S. accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in Philadelphia.

When Dr. Yien responded to my email, he not only agreed to write me a letter of recommendation, but he suggested that if I wanted to come to Ming Chuan and teach for a year or two, that I should let him know. I didn’t respond immediately, but over the next few weeks, I thought more and more about it–both the good and the bad. I knew I would like spending time in Taiwan, but it was a long way from my my family and friends. I knew I would make new friends in Taiwan, but I couldn’t just get on a plane and head home for the holidays. I discussed it with my friends and family, and eventually, I decided to pursue a position teaching English at MCU.

Some things made the decision easier. I had already visited here and had some sense of what I was getting into. I don’t think I would have been so willing to go to a place where I knew no one or nothing of the culture and environment. Also, Dr. Yien was here, so I had someone here that I knew. And most importantly, I knew that I could keep in touch with my family in ways that could not have been imagined even a few short years ago. With SKYPE, I am able to talk to my husband daily,* my parents a couple times a week, and my children with varying frequency. My mother even says she thinks she talks to me more in Taiwan than she did when I was in the States.

I love my work here. I enjoy my students–ok, most of them–and I am learning a lot about them, about their culture, and about myself. I feel very appreciated here, and I’m beginning to pick up a little bit of Chinese. Tonight when the clerk at the tea shop told me how much I owed, I understood the amount without having it translated to English! There have been many special moments–like when one of my students invited me to a student karoke competition because he was singing a Christmas song in English. After he sang, he spoke to me from the stage, thanked me for coming, and told me that even though I couldn’t be with my family for Christmas, that I wouldn’t be alone, that I would have them–my students. I couldn’t really ask for more than that.

*At the time I wrote this piece, my husband was still in the U.S. He joined me here in Taiwan as I began my third year here and has been with me since.

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The opportunity to teach abroad has given me a new appreciation of my abilities and confirmed my love of teaching. It has taught me that some of our best laid plans don’t always work out the way we had hoped. Sometimes, flexibility and creativity are needed to find the path to satisfying life work. And to have a life that’s larger than what I might have imagined for myself.

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If you have more questions about my Taiwanese adventure, please feel free to post them in the comments. I will try to respond, either there or in a supplemental post, depending on how many questions I get.

496 days to 60

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This post is also part of JustJotItJanuary (JusJoJan)

http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/jusjojan-1-the-rules-are-easy/

11:21 a.m. on 1/4/14

Jigsaw puzzle on New Year's Eve

Jigsaw puzzle on New Year’s Eve

As the new year begins, I am doing a lot of reflection and planning for what I want to pursue. But I won’t be making resolutions. I’m not out to resolve things. I am out to live more fully and to embrace my goals and dreams for the future. Part of that involves really discovering what it is I want in life. And I intend to do some explorations in many areas of my life to refine what it is I want. I’ve started making lists, and I’m excited about the possibilities. You’ll be reading about some of them in my blog over the next few weeks, but at 11:21 this morning, I had just revealed one of my fun intensions to a friend, and now I’m going to share it with you.

At 11:21 this morning, I was talking on Skype with my friend Joycelyn of Farther to Go! fame. She and I have been friends for forty years and have been through a lot together. For the last few years, while I’ve been in Taiwan, we try to reserve this time every week to catch up, and to support each other in our respective endeavors. I knew when we started our conversation that the specified moment would arrive sometime during our conversation..

Joycelyn and I were having an interesting discussion about our respective fitness programs and how we were feeling differently because of what we were doing. We realized in the discussion that most people talk about going to the gym as a goal, when that’s not really the goal. It’s the means TO a goal, such as feeling better, getting stronger, getting in shape, or other possibilities. But at this time of year, people set a GOAL of going to the gym as if going to the gym in itself is something we really want. No wonder fitness goals often fall by the wayside. There is no real desire and motivation behind them, except maybe prodding from a doctor or loved one, or guilt, or some other negativity that we’re convinced we can (re)solve if we just have enough will power. Right!

There was much more to the conversation, but we began sharing some of the things we wanted for ourselves in the new year, and at 11:21, I had just finished telling Joycelyn about a challenge I have given myself for the year. Something I’m excited about. Something that will keep me jazzed and move me toward a goal I have had for a while, but was having trouble getting there.

So here’s the background. I live in Taiwan. This is my fifth year here, yet I know very little Chinese. I know enough Chinese to be somewhat entertaining to the natives, but that’s it. To be fair, I’m so busy with teaching, editing, and textbook writing, that I don’t have a lot of time for language study. And I did make a real effort before arriving, but learned the wrong accent, so even my minimal phrases I learned before I came weren’t too helpful. I’ve tried working with a few students who wanted to teach me some Chinese, but that never worked very well.

But one of the students from the new writing group is double majoring in English and in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language. She and I are setting up biweekly lessons for me. Just enough to give me a bit of language without it being too overwhelming. (She is one of the puzzle solvers in the picture above. She’s on the right.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK, now here’s another piece about me you may not know. I use to be a music director for a church. I’m a keyboardist, choir director, and vocalist. Though I don’t do a lot of singing anymore, and never did much karaoke in the past, it seems like a fun way to spend a little time with students. The students tell me that most of the English songs at the karaoke places are “old.” They obviously forget who they’re talking to. I can do “old” songs.

But a couple of days ago, I realized that if I had the Romanized Chinese words and a YouTube video, I could learn a song in Chinese! It would give me an extra motivation for my language study, and satisfy the urge I have to sing. I can go with a group of students and do some singing in both languages. I am psyched!

I emailed the young lady in the picture above and told her of my plan, and she’s already sent me a couple of videos and the Romanized Chinese for both of them. Now I just have to talk to my new tutor and tell her of my crazy plan, but I know she’ll be as excited about it as I am.

And at a future moment in time, I will be singing a song in Chinese. And the plan is to record it and share it in a blog post. Stay tuned!  I’ll keep you posted!

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A Moment in Time is a shared blogging experience, where writers document and share their stories from the same moment on the same day. The day and time for the next A Moment in Time is posted by Randee every few days in such a way that you’ll have a heads up on the exact moment to which you need to attend and focus on and, if it’s significant in some way, write about and add to the list.

http://randeebergen.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/a-moment-in-time-1121-a-m-on-1414/

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I’m also participating in Just Jot it January *JusJoJan.” You just jot something everyday, even if it doesn’t always result in a blog post. Maybe several days’ jottings end up in one post. Lots of possibilities. Check it out here:

http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/jusjojan-1-the-rules-are-easy/

10:23 pm on 12/06/2013

Endless possibilities

(Photo credit: jefito)

Have you ever wondered what you really wanted? Have you ever really defined it? Or dared to admit it to anyone, even yourself? Or do you, like me (and probably many others), avoid the question or answer it superficially. In this post from Farther to Go!, there is an exercise that asks you to answer that question every day for 30 days.

I started about three weeks ago. I can’t tell you exactly without digging out the notebook I was using. I wasn’t using cards as suggested in the exercise–not at first. I am now. I’m doing several things differently now.

On Friday (12/6/13), I realized that the exercise wasn’t going very well for me–for reasons I will share below. But, the bottom line is that I decided that day that I would start over, and change the things that weren’t working. So that evening, at about 10:00, I filled out my first card for the new 30-day period. And afterwards, I had a breakthrough.

It may not have been exactly 10:23, but I suddenly understood with complete clarity that I could no longer settle for mediocrity. I had to think about what I want without limits, especially the limits I put on myself. Thinking that I can possibly know what’s best, or what’s practical, or what’s feasible, or–most importantly–what’s possible. My life to this point is full of experiences that would have seemed impossible by any standards and yet I’m here, living this crazy life that couldn’t have been imagined prior to living it. I realized that the starting over was important, that by changing the way I approached the process of exploring what I wanted, I would be more effective, and more free–I could imagine even impossibilities. Up to the point of starting over, four basic things were getting in my way of making the most of this exercise.

  1. Sometimes, I’d miss a day because I didn’t set an intention for writing in the notebook. If I had it would be on my daily list, and it wasn’t. I thought I could remember something as simple as adding a few lines to my notebook each day. (I know better than this!) To learn more about the power of intentions, look here. Further, the routine itself has an effect on what emerges. If I get in the habit of making the list each day, the pump is primed when I sit down to fill out the card..
  2. I started by using a notebook for making my lists, instead of the 4 x 6 index cards suggested in the activity. I didn’t realize it at the time (obviously), but it really makes a difference to have a confined space with a specific amount of lines for each day. Even if I had used the index cards, I suspect I wouldn’t have written something on every line. Many of my lists in the notebook wouldn’t have been long enough to put something on each line of a card. I took the “easy” way out, If no more ideas were immediately accessible, I stopped writing. Using a notebook made it easy to fall into that trap, so using the index cards is a much better method–for me at least. No stopping until I actually have something on every line. This problem is also related to the next one.
  3. I was approaching my list-making from a place of practicality. I knew on an intellectual basis not to do that, to let my mind go and to explore the possibilities in spite of the reasons for censoring. And while I KNEW that the sky was the limit, my lists had become rather dull and lifeless. At first, I wasn’t sure what had happened, and then I realized something that put a lot of things into perspective. I had fallen back into moving through my days and activities on autopilot. From there, it was more than a slippery slope to falling into old habits: it was a free fall into a pit of mediocrity.
  4. I needed to re-commit to paying attention, to being mindful of the process, and not just make the listing another thing to check off. Yes, it’s important to schedule it to make sure it happens, but the actual process has to be more mindful than that.
My Pile of Index Card

(Photo credit: koalazymonkey)

So on Friday, I dusted myself off and began again with 30 4 x 6 cards, a clear intention, and a plan. I can already see and feel a difference. Each of these cards is completed in just a few moments, but the impact isn’t limited to the immediate moment. Wherever this path leads me, I know that my life will be different because I dared to answer the question of what I really want. As I write this post on Sunday, I just finished my 3rd card, and I am excited about the possibilities that are showing up. Now when I finish a card, I’m smiling. I have gone beyond the intellectual grasp of the concept back to an experience of reimagining my life. I can’t wait to see where this path leads.

If you’ve never thought about what you really want (or even if you have), I recommend this exercise. It only takes a few minutes a day, but the results may change the way you think about what’s possible.

Related articles:

http://randeebergen.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/a-moment-in-time-1023-p-m-on-12613/

http://farthertogo.com/2013/11/11/what-do-you-want-2/

https://myriad234.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/reimagining-my-life/

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A Moment in Time is a shared blogging experience, where writers document and share their stories from the same moment on the same day. The day and time for the next A Moment in Time is posted by Randee every few days in such a way that you’ll have a heads up on the exact moment to which you need to attend and focus on and, if it’s significant in some way, write about and add to the list.