Ten Things of Thankful: The New School Year Edition

The first week of school has been great, so I thought I’d dedicate most of this week’s Ten Things of Thankful post to the good things about the beginning of the new school year.

Without further ado, I am thankful:

  1. for getting a new teaching schedule the week before classes started. Even though it’s been “interesting” trying to prep for a new course, it is so worth it.
  2. …that I now have six classes instead of seven.
  3. …that I won’t have a variable schedule this year. I teach the same six courses next semester. (For those of you who didn’t see my post about the first day of school, most courses actually run across both semesters. They are typically two semester hours–though I did get one three credit one, which is what has made all the difference in the benefits of my new schedule.)
  4. …that even though I was originally given OLD information about new (to me) course, the syllabus, and even the book, I have it all sorted out now. And it turns out that my intuition about how to start the class for the first week was right on target. WHEW!  🙂
  5. …for the amazing students in my classes. Every single class started out well. I was able to engage students and to get them involved in first day activities with no problems. (OK, the one 8:00 writing class was a little sluggish, but I can’t get the department to understand that students already aren’t keen on writing in a second, and that when you put it at 8:00 in the morning, I have to really put on a show to keep them awake, let alone engaged. Luckily, I’m pretty good at putting on a show.) And I’m thankful . . .
  6. …that I only have one 8:00 class this year. I have had two days with 8:00 classes for last two years, so this development is pretty awesome.
  7. …for my colleagues who support me in various ways, but especially for Justin, whose willingness to trade writing classes with me (and give up a four-day weekend in the process!) enabled me to get this new awesome schedule. Thanks, Justin! You are awesome.
  8. …that I was able to figure out a CURVES schedule that works with the new teaching schedule. Especially, since the last time I weighed in and got measured, all my numbers were moving in the right direction. In ten months time, I’ve lost 30 pounds! (13 kilos!)
  9. …that I am feeling like myself again, and that I can immerse myself in the teaching experience.
  10. …that I have this place where I can share all my good news with all of you wonderful people. 

241 days til 60!


Ten Things of Thankful: The Quick Edition

TenThingsBannerWe left the house at 6:20 am this morning, and got back at nearly 9:30 pm. But it’s been a good day. And that is something to write Ten Things of Thankful about, even if it’s quick. Details about today’s trip (with pictures) will follow, but it’s closing in on my bedtime.  🙂

I am thankful for:

1. The ticket agent who found us seats on the express train. We just had to change seats once we got to Taipei.

2. The lovely view of the ocean on our way to the Luodong train station.

3. The wonderful visit at the National Center for Traditional Art.

4. The puppet show and live theater performance at the NCTA.

5. A husband who takes cool photos for me.

6. A most amazing student from one of last year’s writing classes who invited us for this great adventure.

7. A most amazing iced latte at a local coffee shop.

8. An amazing breakthrough on two projects that I’ve been stuck on. (This could generate its own thankful list in a day or two if it continues.)

9. Getting a taxi with no wait at the train station when we got home.

10. Getting my 400th blog follower while I was checking email and blog comments after we got home. My little orange guy lit up with a new follower. I checked, and it was #400.

Awesome day!

Pictures to follow.

For now, I’m off to bed!  🙂

265 days to 60!





Ten Things of Thankful: Tuesday Thoughts

TenThingsBannerI didn’t post a Ten Things of Thankful last week, but I did have a draft nearly completed. It was called the Ironic Edition, because there were many parts of my life that weren’t going that great, and yet I was still able to find things to be thankful for. Unfortunately, I forgot to save that draft, and when I went back to finish it, it was gone. And I moved on. In other words, I didn’t rewrite it at that time. I just posted something else that day. So here we go, with regular saving of drafts.  🙂

1. I am thankful for all my wonderful friends around the world, but today I’m especially thankful for the two young women in the photo below. Between the two of them, they have helped me in countless ways. They are both excellent translators, so when Dave and I get mail in Chinese or we see a posting in the apartment elevator, one of them always helps us out. They also translate take-out menus and the Chinese words in the photos Dave takes at the stores when he wants to know the details about something before he buys.

100_0642Dante (on the left) was part of the fabric play craziness last week. And yesterday, she showed us around some of her hometown (pictures and details in future post). Today, she sent me directions for my appointment (see #2) when I left my map at home. During the school year, she comes over one evening a week to help me with paperwork and odd jobs.

Rena (on the right) was my student the very first year I was in Taiwan, and she and I have been friends ever since. She has spent many working sessions with me at coffee shops. She visited the ceramics museum with me a few weeks back, and she’s my regular partner for The Shen Yun dance performance that I now attend each year (2015 will be our third time).

2. I am thankful for the wonderful health care in Taiwan, that the majority of the doctors here can speak English (as my Chinese is amazingly bad), and that the doctor I saw today made me feel like we were a team in managing my care. And I am thankful to my friend Jean for recommending him.  ❤

routemap2013123. I am thankful for the amazing transportation system here in Taiwan. I knew that it would be a challenge to get to this doctor, and it was: a bus to the train station, a train to Taipei, the MRT (subway) to the part of the city I needed, and then a 20 minute walk. But hey, with the walk each way, I got my exercise in. I am also thankful for how reasonable the transportation is. If I hadn’t taken the scenic route home–don’t ask–I would have paid less than $8.00 US for the round trip. (The map on the left is the for the MRT. They are still expanding this system, but it’s pretty impressive.)

4. I am thankful for my detour today. Even though it cost me a couple extra dollars (and a lot of time), I saw more of Taipei, learned more about how to get from one part of the city to another, and actually enjoyed the process of figuring out my alternate route home, piece by piece. As a bonus, I got extra exercise AND lunch at a restaurant I hadn’t tried before.

5. I am thankful that early on in my adventure (in #4 above), I decided that I didn’t need to worry about being productive today. I decided to view this day as a gift of time. I could take this day and just enjoy the adventure that was unfolding. I decided I only needed to get two things done today: this post and a little research. Which leads to #6.

6. I am thankful for the Internet and the amazing source of information that is available. After today’s appointment, I had a lot to think about, and being able to get reliable information was reassuring and informative.

kite7. I am thankful for the people who sponsor the challenges I’ve been participating in: Green Embers and the Building Room Challenge; Cee at Cee’s Photography for Share Your World; Indecisive Eejit and Mental Mama for the Cartoon Craziness Challenge; and all the people who pass around the If We Were Having Coffee meme.

8. I am grateful to the people who follow my blog, who read my blog, who comment on my blog, and who like my posts. This blogging experience continues to be a great help to me, and I appreciate everyone who interacts with me in some way.

9. I am grateful for the discoveries I’m making in the Cartoon Craziness Challenge about drawing and the need to practice. That it can be developed, and that it can be fun, and that it’s something I’ve kept on the back burner far too long. OK, I actually kept it totally away from the stove. But I’m glad I brought it back into the kitchen.

10. I am grateful the scraps of fun and hope that I am finding in my life, and for the people who join me and support me in the search.

And I am thankful for Lizzi at Considerings and the others who host Ten Things of Thankful.


Ten Things of Thankful: End of July Edition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnyone who has read more than one or two of my blog posts knows that coffee in one form or another is something I’m always thankful for. There have even been posts about specific coffee places I’ve visited. Since several of the items in my Ten Things of Thankful post this week are related to Pisces Coffee, I’m including a few pictures that my husband took while we were there.


  1. I am thankful for Pisces Coffee Shop, especially because it is part of my summer exercise routine AND a place where I can get a coffee reward for completing the exercise routine. WIN! Initially, it was my goal to walk the ten minutes there — with coffee and work tasks during my visit — and then walk the ten minutes home at least three times a week. With such a good system in place, it’s often closer to 5 days a week. Of course, when the semester starts in full swing, I will be going less, but I plan to keep it as part of my fitness/productivity plan. BONUS: During those weeks when we didn’t have air conditioning at home, I was especially thankful that they have air conditioning. It is an excellent place to go and “chill out” while getting some work done. They also have Wi-Fi!
  2. I am thankful for my former students who become friends. This week, Lynn — one of the few lucky students who had me for TWO courses last semester — met me at Pisces on Wednesday. We had a lovely time catching up and learning more about one another. We have both been involved in Summer Camps this year, so we had lots to talk about.
  3. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m thankful that my current hassles with my leg infection are under control. As a result, I’ve been cleared to return to Curves to resume my regular exercise program for August. I had been going from November of 2013 until the end of April of this year, before the doctors told me to stop. So I’m glad to be able to go back. And yes, we have Curves in Taiwan!  🙂
  4. I am thankful that I not only maintained the weight loss I’ve had since November of 2013, but during July, I lost an additional 3 pounds. This was great, considering that I wasn’t going to Curves  for the last three months. That was when I had substituted the walking to Pisces, along with continuing to watch what I eat. The goal was to maintain, so when I lost a little more, I was very pleased. I am optimistic that I’ll see a boost in the rate of loss when I resume my Curves schedule. I will keep up the walking as well. The combo should be awesome.
  5. I am thankful that we finally have our new air-conditioner. Our landlord arranged to have it installed last week, and it’s been wonderful to be able to sleep comfortably again.
  6. I am thankful that I still have six weeks left to tackle several major projects on my to-do list before my teaching schedule starts up again.
  7. I am thankful that in spite of my recent lethargy, I’ve been able to maintain daily blog posts for nearly two weeks. I am also thankful for all the people who follow me and who let me know what they’re thinking. The connections I’ve made on WordPress are really helping me feel stronger. Sometimes, when nothing else seems to get me moving, I feel that there are people out there waiting for me to post something. And it works!  🙂
  8. I am thankful that my husband found an ironing board at a consignment shop for half the price of a new one.
  9. I am thankful that we are setting up a different workspace for me. BONUS: I can sew in the air-conditioned bedroom!
  10. I am thankful that I have a whole fresh month ahead of me, a chance to start again. Let’s hear it for August!

Thank you to Lizzi at Considerings  for coordinating Ten Things of Thankful. Check it out and join in if you’d like.  


And one more photo: Here I am outside of Pisces. I have been successful at avoiding this lovely pastry window MOST of the time.  I gave in once when my husband offered to get me a treat (and give the owners some extra business) in exchange for their ongoing kindnesses to me.  🙂


Ten Things of Thankful: Summer Camp Edition

10553603_904662536216968_1254067680936128336_nIn my Building Rome post this week, I mentioned that my week was busy with teaching at an English Summer Camp held at our university. It was the first time our the university had held such an event. It was an intense, but fun four days. On Monday morning, we met 30 young people–ages 10-16–who stayed with us for four days and three nights.

From the time I was first asked about doing this way back in February, I’ve been thinking about the different lessons I could do. But it took the pressure of getting those materials actually ready for production that really got me moving. And even after we started, I made some adjustments. There’s something especially interesting about doing something for the first time. So many aspects of the situation can’t be predicted. Still, I have much to be thankful for during this last week.

  1. I am thankful for 30 enthusiastic young people from many places around Taiwan to join in our activities, even as we were figuring out the details and making adjustments as we went.
  2. I am thankful for my fellow teachers, Megan and Judy, who were a joy to work with. We also continued bouncing ideas off each other during lunch and other encounters in the hallways.
  3. 10557378_897939373553681_3076575304406176014_nI am thankful for the teaching and residential assistants. They are the ones who stayed with the kids in the dorms. Each of the three teachers spent an evening with the group, but these students from our Department of Applied English were totally awesome and they did so much to make our lives easier. It was especially good for me, since I’m the teacher with the least time in Taiwan (of the three) and the weakest spoken Chinese.  Because of the efforts of the TAs, I was able to communicate with all the campers, regardless of their English ability.
  4. I am thankful for the support staff who helped with the organization, the preparation, the printing, the errands, the shopping for baking supplies, the paperwork, and just anything that needed to be done. And everyone was so cheerful the whole time.
  5. I am thankful for the air conditioning in our classrooms. Which will make more sense after you read #6.
  6. I am thankful that I got an email after Day 2 of Summer Camp that our landlord bought a new air conditioner for our apartment. We thought it would be installed by now, but still, it will happen within the next couple of days for sure. I’m pretty sure it will show up on next week’s list. Living in a place where the standard daytime temperature is 85-90 every day with high humidity. Yeah, even if it’s only in the bedroom, having a place where I can chill is a good thing.  🙂
  7. I am thankful for my husband, Dave, who went way beyond the call of duty in terms of making sure I had the materials I needed, the iced coffee I wanted needed, and lunches that he went and gathered each day from the cafeteria down the hill. When I miscalculated how long some activities might take, he saved the day by searching for extra videos and materials I could use that were related to my topics. He helped keep the sun tea project going between classes, took photos, and carried my materials back and forth. Thanks, Honey!  ❤
  8. I am thankful that the camp was a huge success. The students seemed to have a good time. The siblings, parents, and grandparents who came for the talent show and closing activities were quite taken with things, if the number of times we were photographed is any indication. 
  9. I am thankful that it was only four days. As much fun as it was, it was very demanding, and I needed some downtime to get my mental faculties back up and running.
  10. I am thankful for the memories and for the new friendships that were made with teachers, campers, and TAs.10303749_10204143685053114_4391656008739241687_n


Thank you to Lizzi at Considerings  for coordinating Ten Things of Thankful. Check it out and join in if you’d like.  




Ten Things of Thankful: The “Best Wishes, Steve!” Edition

B&W Steve n Dave at Debbies

Two of my favorite guys at one of our favorite hang-outs

Steve has been my colleague since I first came to Taiwan back in 2009. He was friendly and offered a workshop about how to use some of the computer applications that were available to the faculty. We became fast friends.

After staying in the US for the first two years that I was in Taiwan, my husband, Dave joined me here as I began my third year here. It was awesome to have him here, but an unexpected surprise was how well the two of them hit if off. Over these three years, they have become good friends.

So, Steve, thanks for five years of friendship, fun, and all the many ways you helped me over the years. Here are a just a few of the highlights.

1. I’m thankful for the night you took me to the emergency room and stayed with me, even though it was an all night event. You even brought me home again and made sure I had food.

2. I’m thankful for all the trips around town following the emergency room visit to help me find doctors and clinics who would help me with the ongoing care I needed, for translating when I needed help communicating with the staff,  and for making sure I had food.  🙂

3. I’m thankful for the time you encouraged me to get a new apartment and helped me move into said apartment (even though you thought we had two weeks before school started again and we only had one). Who would have thought we could really do it?

4. I’m thankful for your sense of humor that got us through numbers 1, 2, and 3 above.

5. I’m thankful that you befriended my husband when he arrived in Taiwan. It made me so happy to see how much you two enjoyed each other’s company.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA6. I’m thankful for all the Costco runs. I loved going there with the two of you, but even when you and Dave went without me, it is so appreciated that you helped keep us stocked up in the staples that we use in our meals. (Are you noticing that food is one of the running themes here?)

7. I’m thankful for the fun times we had at Ikea, Debbie’s, Bangle’s , and even at the Police Academy when we judged the speech competition together.

8. I’m thankful that you introduced us to those magical nights at the hot springs.

9. I’m thankful for the rides home from school when we could get our teaching schedules to mesh. And for the rides to and from those faculty meetings in Taipei.

10. I’m thankful for you taking the time to answer my questions about soccer football (haha) and the World Cup. I understand a lot better now.

There are many other things I could mention, but just know that I appreciate you and your generosity, thoughtfulness, and friendship. I wish you all the best in whatever the future holds for you, Steve. I’m so glad that our paths crossed during these last five years. I am delighted to have the pleasure and good fortune to know you as a colleague and a friend. We’ll keep in touch. It will be interesting to see in which country we see each other again first.

Sitting on the bench outside of Debbie's restaurant after a great meal.

Sitting on the bench outside of Debbie’s restaurant after a great meal.



Thank you to Lizzi at Considerings for setting this blog hop up every week.  If you want to join, go on over to link in and then check out what others are saying about their weeks too!


Winding Down and Being Thankful


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!