If We Were Having Coffee: Happy 2015!

If we were having coffee,

coffeemeI’d tell you that it’s been four years since I had surgery to get my replacement knee. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I remember that even on the day of surgery, I could feel the difference when I moved my leg. The only downside is that the surgery was done during my second year in Taiwan, before my husband had joined me, but there were so many wonderful friends and colleagues who helped get me through the hospitalization and recovery. So happy anniversary to my wonderful knee! Wishing you many more, dear knee! 🙂

I’d tell you I have set several intentions for the new year based on my vision for the new year.

I’d tell you that this is my first post of the new year. In fact, it’s the first post since November 21. But I’m making a comeback in a limited way. And one of those intentions is to reconnect with the blog world. But I’m going for regularity, not numbers. That means the plan is to write one blog post a week. If I do more than that, great, but I will do at least one post every week.  I’ll figure it out as I go, but no time like the present to start.

I’d also explain that here in Taiwan, our college semesters are significantly different than they are in the US. For starters, our weeks are 18 weeks long, instead of 15. And we start a bit later in September than most US colleges and universities. As a result, we’ve been teaching since September with only two holidays. Our semester break comes in time for the celebration of Chinese New Year. (There is talk that Christmas will be included in the holiday calendar next year.)

Now that you know that information, I’d tell you that final exams are this coming week. And then the grading, and then our semester break. Yeah, it sounds great to have a month off, but don’t forget I taught on Christmas Eve day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve. (We did get New Year’s Day.)  I have to admit though, that although I dislike an 18 week semester — everyone gets so worn out, I do like the break at this “unorthodox” time. I feel like it’s more of a break than just being off to engage in lots of holiday hoopla. The Chinese New Year still has a lot of newness to it for us.

I’d tell you that, barring anything unforeseen, the textbook project is over! The relief is amazing. It will be even more amazing when all the ink is dry, and the books are in the students’ hands. My stress level has gone done dramatically.

I’d tell you that I have a big list of loose ends I want to tie up over break, especially things that had to be put on the back burner as I finished the textbook. But it feels good to feel like I will have some time and space to make some real progress.

I’d tell you that I’ve started peeking at a few blogs, starting to read. Not a lot of comments yet, but I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the great people I’ve met here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’d tell you that it’s official. David and I (and our wonderful Puppy) will be heading back to the US in July of this year. This is my sixth year of teaching in Taiwan, and while I have loved almost everything about it, it’s time to go home.

I’d tell you that the next six months are going to be a bit of a whirlwind, as I complete things here in Taiwan and anticipate the move back. But it’s exciting, another phase in our lives. I will especially love being to grandparent at a closer range. Hey, Logan! Grandma’s coming!

I’d tell you that it feels good to write this post. I look forward to next week. 🙂

I’d tell you the days are moving by, and there are only 127 days to 60.

Thanks to Diana for gathering everyone together this week.  🙂  https://parttimemonster.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/if-we-were-having-coffee-the-inaugural-weekend-coffee-share/

 

The One That Got Away

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome days, you would never imagine the things that actually happen. Like Tuesday. It started out like a “normal” day. I wanted to go to one of our neighborhood restaurants for a coffee while I worked on the textbook project. This particular restaurant is half way around the corner of the block from our apartment, so Dave and I headed over there to get me set up for a couple hours.

Along the shops on that side of the block is a lot of parking, mostly for motorcycles. (Motorcycles in Taiwan is a blog post or three all its own, but not now.) As we turned the corner, and walked toward the shop, we noticed something unusual in one of the “parking spots.”

  • instead of motorcycle, motorcycle, motorcycle,
  • we saw motorcycle motorcycle, PIANO

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYeah, I wouldn’t believe it without a picture either. And I know you can only see one motorcycle in this picture, but there was another one parked right next to that one. You can see a traffic cone in the street in front of the next shop, as well as other things you often see on streets outside of shops.

Now, back to the story. As a former piano teacher who has been in Taiwan for five years with no piano, I was slightly intrigued. Dave was less so, but it was fun to dream for a few seconds.

Dave went home, and I got settled into my work, but thoughts of that piano out there kept popping up. So I thought, “Why not just ask the restaurant owners if they knew anything about it.” (As an aside, these are the people who rescued the dog that we adopted from them.)*

Well, they didn’t. They were as surprised as I was to find a piano out there. The wife started talking to people and quickly located the owner in the midst of supervising the loading a truck. Apparently, they were moving. After a couple minutes of Chinese conversation, my friend turned to me and asked me if I wanted the piano. I was dumbfounded and didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t seriously thought about this possibility; suddenly, there were many issues to consider.

  1. Our apartment is on the 4th floor.
  2. We would have to make room for it in the apartment.
  3. The piano wasn’t in really good shape (due to large fluctuations in humidity and temperature), although the key action was decent. And it was not terribly out of tune. (Yeah, I checked.)
  4. We’d need to have someone come to service it at some point.
  5. I hadn’t had time to quilt or do much of anything “fun,” so how would this be any different?
  6. Dave would think I was nuts. Oh wait, it’s probably too late for that.

The two of them talked some more, and I think I was asked four or five times if I wanted it, not impatiently, but with excitement, and I kept saying, “I don’t know.” The owner was willing to GIVE it to me. So I finally said, “OK, I’ll call Dave and see if we can figure out how to do this.”

They put a note on the piano that it was taken, and I called Dave. He’s so awesome. He  just gets his tape measure, measures the elevator roughly, and then heads back over to take a closer look at the piano. In the meantime, the husband of the restaurant team, Karch, started doing some measurements as well, and writing dimensions on a chalkboard that was on the wall of the porch to their shop (the same porch our dog had spent her days on).

When Dave arrived, he took more measurements and said it would be tight if it was possible at all. He looked at ways that some parts could be removed to gain an inch here or there. He went back home with the measurements to check the elevator one more time. While he did, I had visions of ten minutes here and there, moments when I could sit down and lose myself in music like I used to do. In spite of the fact, more can be done in longer periods, having the opportunity to sit down at a moment’s notice was quite appealing.

He returned with the verdict. In his words, it was “frustratingly close,” but no way without putting the piano on its end, which wasn’t a particularly good idea. Besides, that was if we figured out a way to get it that far.

In the end, we had to say no to the piano. But the good news is that I realized if I even dreamed about it for a few minutes, it opened up other possibilities. For example, I’ve been putting off quilting because I don’t have a “block” of time for it, but maybe I can set things up that even ten or fifteen minutes can provide a restorative interlude in the busy days.

It was also a reminder of all the people who have been so thoughtful to me and my husband. This is just one example of the many kindnesses the people of Taiwan have given us. Even though I’m returning home next summer, Taiwan will always hold special memories of generous and kind people.

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*And here she is.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 191 days to 60!

Instructional Igloos: AtoZ April Challenge

a-zchallengeI teach a lot of writing classes to first and second year English majors, but I also teach one English language class to a group of 4th year Architecture students. Even students who aren’t English majors have to take four years of English (or test out of them). In these courses, we technically cover all four skills–reading, listening, speaking, and writing, but it is a challenge because of our class sizes, which range from 40 (if we get lucky to 70). As you might imagine, it’s quite a challenge. Most of our general English classes are taught to groups of students with similar majors and are very general in content. That is to say, that we have a series of in-house textbooks that are used with all students, regardless of their majors (again, this does exclude English majors). For those of you who are aware of my “textbook project,” the purpose of that project is to update these general materials, but that’s a topic for another post. After all, I’ve just finished a very long first paragraph and haven’t even mentioned igloos until now.

One of the departments at our University is architecture, and it is a five-year program. So when these students are in their fourth year, they aren’t following the typical senior schedule (which doubles up some course hours for a few weeks to allow for an early departure a few weeks before actual graduation). In addition, various majors have varying reputations for their interest in learning English, and let’s just say that architecture students have had a reputation for not being terribly interested in English. This is where I come in. Two years ago, I was approached about incorporating some architectural materials into the textbook project (which is no problem, since I plan to incorporate a bit of all departments into the upper division books). But more than that, they wanted to pilot an English course that was more focused on the needs (read interests) of their students. This may come as a major shock to those of you who know me, but I took it on, starting with that second semester two years ago. For the two academic years since that time, I continue to have these fourth year students, and I am already scheduled to have them next year.

From the beginning, I met with the Chair and other members of the Department of Architecture faculty to map out a more specialized course for these students. One of the main concerns was that students were unable to talk about their architectural designs in English when they went to conventions and conferences. So after some basic experiences with speaking in front of the group in English, their presentations over the course of the rest of the semester will be to do just that. They will present their presentations as if they are hoping to win a contract for such a building. For example, three of my students are going to present their ideas for nature centers, so those three students will all present their designs on the same day, in a competitive format to try to convince me, the pseudo investor, that their design is worth pursuing. We have six students who have designs for art museums. I also have students who are renovating space to use for businesses. There are lots of options, and I’m trying to set this up to be interesting for everyone and help them get over their fear of speaking in English. Of course, they also have to learn enough English of the architectural variety to be able to talk confidently about their designs.

As a result, I am always on the look-out for things that might be of particular interest to them. We’ve looked at interesting restaurant designs. We’ve done a project where the students work in groups to prepare a PowerPoint presentation about an architectural structure of their choice. I will also show them snippets of videos that explain particular architectural methods or periods. One such snippet had to do with igloos. I chose igloos because the way they are built is quite interesting, but more importantly, many of my students have never seen snow. So igloos are especially fascinating to them. Although, I try different things with different groups, the igloo has been one constant through the three groups I’ve had so far. In fact, I am planning to add some supplemental materials for next year to help focus on building reading skills and build on the interest that these frozen structures bring out in the students.

Here is one of the videos that give a sense of what’s involved in building an igloo. I think it’s safe to say that even in the US, most people will have to wait until next winter to try this at home.

Stirring up some February Motivation

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

OK, the month of January has been a real slog for me. It’s not that I haven’t gotten anything done. I have, and some people might even say it was a lot. But I’m not going to make a list. I’m not looking for people to reassure me that I’ve done enough. I’m not looking for someone to tell me it’s ok that I didn’t do as much as usual, that it’s enough, etc. I’m not hoping for someone to make me feel better about it or for some kind of cop-out. I’m simply acknowledging that January was less than I wanted it to be, and that I want February to be different.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions, but I did put together some preliminary notes about a few activities I want to experience in 2014. I just didn’t write the post yet. And here it is February.

So while there were things I wanted to do in January, I often sidestepped those items and took the easy way out. One of the things I did when my motivation was low was to clear out some of my blog comments and similar things in my email. Just this morning, I ran across a post from the first of November, New Month Resolutions. Randee talked about how posting every day in October had been easier than she expected it to be and that it might work to set up a goal or two for the new month. Well, she set up three. And in the comments, Yours Truly also commented that she had launched three activities for November (and December). Here is what I wrote at the time.

  1. I joined a quilt-along to FINALLY work on the quilt I’ve been “thinking” about for my daughter for the last six years.

  2. I joined Curves to start working out 3 times a week, and

  3. I made an intention to finish the work on one of my textbook projects this month.

I knew I had written three things in the comment section of that post, but when I opened the post this morning, I didn’t remember what the three things were or if I had actually followed through. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had significant progress on these three items.

  • the quilt top for my daughter’s quilt is nearly finished (upcoming post will have pictures)

  • I am in my third month of Curves, and have accomplished 3 times a week most of the time (a record far better than  any other attempt at regular exercise EVER.

  • One textbook went to press, and I made some progress on the next one.

WOW!

So I thought to myself, “It’s February 1. Set some new intentions! Put them out there. It’s a short month. Don’t worry if they’re ‘the best’ ones. Just get something going! Get the wheels turning! Stock up on exclamation points.”

So here goes! While there are many things that have deadlines and will occur naturally, these are the three things I will focus on in February

  1. De-clutter my work area, and begin work on my closet.

  2. Set an intention to do regular writing and follow through with it.

  3. Continue to make progress on my quilting projects.

It’s too early to tell if this will jump-start my motivation, but I have a focus now instead of just having all those to-do things bumping around in my head. Now I can settle down and put the others aside as I start my new plan: Focus for February!

471 days to 60

I am also posting this for FanFoFeb. You can check it out here:  http://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/fanfofeb-the-lovers/

9:16 a.m. on 12/21/13

Cup of coffee

(Photo credit: Etenil)

Saturday mornings have a bit of a routine, and this particular Saturday morning was no different. At 10:00, I usually receive a Skype phone call from the other side of the world, so between breakfast and the phone call, I try to see how much “work” I can get done. On most Saturday mornings, that means catching up on grading, or email, or doing some editing. On the particular morning in question, it was looking at textbook proofs and writing notes.

I am pretty much tired of the textbook project. The stress involved with getting Book 2 (of 8!) out was worse than expected. I won’t go into details, but I’ll be glad to be able to move along. Book 3 should be much smoother, and most of my attention can now be spent looking ahead at the plans for Book 4. And in theory, things should start getting easier. That’s my hope, along with the hope that this project will stop creeping into my weekend time, but for now, we’re pushing the publication deadline. In another week, I’ll breathe easier. At least when it comes to the textbook project.

Not an exciting moment. In fact, the less time I spend on it, the better. But these textbook moments have become significant in an unexpected way. The more of them I put in, the close they lead me back home to the U.S. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Here’s a bit of inspiration for focusing so I can move on, compliments of my daughter, the Collaborator.

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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/2013/12/19/a-moment-in-time-916-a-m-on-122113/

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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/

Challenge: Making My Life Less Crazy

Resolution - better time management

(Photo credit: vpickering)

As some of you may know, I did a blog challenge in October. For November and December, I’ve joined a quilt-along (cutting fabric later today–YAY!). Last week, I joined Curves for a two-month trial to see if it will work for me and my artificial knee. All of these things are about taking time for me, something which I haven’t been very good at in the past, something I want to change. My first post in October was all about Taking Time for Me, and I am moving well in that direction.

This is because I have a problem with taking on too much, especially at work. If a project interests me, and I have the skills or expertise to do something about it, I’m in, usually without thinking. It doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to realize that this tendency can lead to trouble, especially when several of those projects collide in terms of deadlines or the necessary focus and attention they need. Let me give you just a few examples.

      1. Most people at our university, if they teach writing at all, they only teach one section, maybe two because it is so work intensive. I teach both first year (1 section) and second year (3 sections) writing courses to English majors.  I also coordinate the first year program. (Yes, I’m insane, but I love writing, and I love helping people find their voice.)  This kind of work really feels like my niche. But of course, it’s only half of my course load. I also teach three sections of general English to students from other majors. Which leads to #2.
      2. Our University uses in-house textbooks for our general English program. Since students are required to take four years of English (focused on all four skills: reading, listening, speaking, writing), there are eight books in this series, one per semester. We are currently in the process of producing new books to replace the series that is nearly 15 years old. And when I say “we,” I mean that I am the coordinator of this project. I have completed one book so far, with two more in active production. Five to go! Insanity, but I brought it on myself.
      3. This year, I serve as the advisor on three senior research graduation projects for three groups of English majors. One group has four members, the other two have two members each. I’ll spare you the details, but it does eat up a chunk of time.
The teaching alone could keep me more than busy, in addition to the research that I am doing, but I’m committed to these other projects. I accept that, and I work somewhat consistently on moving forward on them without stressing too much. But it’s only been recently that I’ve managed to get that stress thing under control. As part of that effort, I made a series of intentions to take time for myself and to take care of myself. Sometimes, it feels like taking this time makes things more complicated, as when I sometimes put the blog challenge ahead of other things I could (in the past I would have said “should”) be doing. But the things I’m now doing for me are changing the way I feel about everything in my life. After the experience of the blog challenge and preparing for the quilt-along, I would never go back to the way things were a few months ago. I like this new direction, this new way of thinking, the way I can reimagine my life. It just takes time.
I can credit my work with Farther to Go! with this transformation in the way I think about things. I now view  my life (n general) and my over commitment to work (specifically) in a while new way. I can’t change everything all at once. But bit by bit, I’m taking my life back and making my decisions and activities more intentional. In the meantime, even while things are still crazy, I am less stressed, and I have hope for a calmer schedule in the not-too-distant future.

Invitations: My Path to Taiwan (Part 2)

A Recap Of Part 1 Invitations

Map of Taiwan

Map of Taiwan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m back for the second installment of how my responses to a series of invitations led me to Taiwan. If I had declined any of those invitations, I would not be here. Other invitations would have led me down other roads. Of course, when an invitation comes along, there is no way to know where it leads. One opportunity presents itself, and a decision is made based on its own merits. It’s part of the adventure. To be honest, I only became gradually able to accept the fact of moving halfway around the world. If I had known at the beginning of this path where it was actually leading, I may have talked myself out of accepting invitations that put me in line for something I didn’t feel ready for. But more about that when we get to the next invitation. For now, I think it’s good to only see one part of the path at the time. Taking on each of these experiences was done without knowing what the results or consequences would be. It is only in retrospect that I can see the path. In a way, I suppose it was more like trailblazing, if trailblazing can be considered an unintentional activity.

The first seven invitations on the path are listed below. The details can be found here.

  • 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

 Invitations 8 and 9: Apply to the Roberts Fellowship Program

These were technically more college invitations, but the consequences were significant. An invitation to apply for the Roberts Fellowship comes in the form of a letter. I was not successful in my bid for the program when I responded to Invitation 8. It wasn’t until 9 that I was even called in for an interview. In 2003-04 I was accepted into the program as part of the Roberts Fellows as part of the 5th year’s group. The link above provides information about this program if you’d like to know more.

I can’t begin to tell you how transforming that first year is. Friday morning seminars and a variety of activities, meetings with leaders, cultural experiences, and bonding with the others in the group as we explored our potential as individuals and as a group.

Friday morning seminar of Roberts Fellows, Year 5.

Friday morning seminar of Roberts Fellows, Year 5.

As an aside, my fellowship experiences enhanced my coursework in ways I could not have imagined. As part of a sociology class project, I had the honor of interviewing the benefactor of the Roberts Fellowship, Donna Roberts. That led to an idea of creating a memory book of the first five years of the program. It included her biography, as well as reflections from key people in the university. The President, the Director of the Program, and the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Robert Yien. (Remember that name. He issues an invitation later.) I sent emails to the all the Roberts Fellows from all five years inviting them to offer written reflections for the book. Many responded, and I edited the volume, while another Fellow from an earlier class took care of the graphics and cover layout. At that spring’s banquet to welcome Year 6 Fellows, we presented the book to Donna Roberts (as a surprise!), and every one of the Fellows also received a copy. (The tradition was continued when the Year 10 class also put another book together in 2009.)

In October of 2003, as I was experiencing everything that being a Roberts Fellow meant, my husband and I were married. His love, devotion, and support helped me through all of the work involved with the extra activities that had come into my life. I have never doubted for a minute that he wants what’s best for me and for us. When I doubt myself (which I am prone to do from time to time) he is there to remind me that I can do whatever I put my mind to. With him by my side, I finished the activities of the Fellowship year and prepared for the culmination of that year–a trip to Asia.

Consequences: Travel to Asia

English: Great Wall of China near Jinshanling ...

Great Wall of China near Jinshanling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t begin to cover everything we did in two weeks. Our May 2004 trip included stops in Taiwan, Beijing (where we climbed the Great Wall), Hong Kong, as well as three cities in Japan: Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Tokushima. Maybe in a future post, I can give more details about some of these stops, but for now I’ll briefly review our time in Taiwan, because it affects the final invitation and acceptance that brought me to teach here. While in Taiwan, we stayed at the Grand Hotel and spent most of our time in Taipei, with visits to the Taipei 101 building, the  Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, and the campus of Shih Hsin University before heading to the Taoyuan campus of Ming Chuan University.

During our time in Taiwan, Dr. Robert Yien joined us there to guide us around Taiwan and share his knowledge with us. On a bus ride after we had visited Shih Hsin University, I asked him about starting an English Corner for international students at our university, similar to what we had seen at the Taiwanese university. He was receptive and the following semester, he funded the start-up costs for our own English Corner.

Consequence: Shift in self-perceptions

The best way to demonstrate the shift that happened to me as a result of being a Roberts Fellow can be demonstrated in my entry in the memory book:

This program has challenged me to reconsider many of the ideas and believes I’ve carried with me all my life–especially the ones about myself and what I can hope to accomplish. I found myself believing in possibilities that used to seem out of the question. I have taken advantage of opportunities I might have passed up even a year or two ago. The best part is that it hasn’t just affected my life: it affects the lives of my children and those with whom I interact. I have always encouraged people to reach for whatever they wanted in life and to embrace their talents and gifts, but I have a new sense of urgency and excitement whenever these gifts and dreams come up in conversation. I actively encourage everyone within my circle of influence to think differently and to believe in themselves and in the power of what they can accomplish, both individually and as part of the groups to which they belong. I am excited about this new vision of the world.

Competing Possibilities: A Fork in the Road

While in Japan in 2004, our group also visited Tokushima University in Japan. While there, I felt an urge to consider teaching English there for a year. I did some checking and came home and discussed it with my husband. He was willing to join me in such an 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.

Invitation 10: “Come to Taiwan to Teach!”

When I emailed Dr. Robert Yien (I told you he’d be back), to ask him for a letter of recommendation, I discovered that he, too had accepted an invitation. While I had been in graduate school, he had accepted he not only agreed, but he suggested that I come to Ming Chuan University and teach for a year or two. I took a few weeks to think about it. I knew I would like spending time in Taiwan, but it was a long way from my family and friends. On the other hand, I already had a few contacts and would certainly make more. With SKYPE, I could talk with my parents and my four children. In the end, my husband and I decided that I would go alone, and that if it turned out to be longer than a year or two, he would join me. In the meantime, he kept things going in the US. When things extended to a third year, he did the major work of dismantling our household and joining me in Taiwan. When I flew back for year three, he was with me. I am now in the middle of year four, and we are planning to be here at least through year 5.

Christmas Day my first year in Taiwan

Christmas Day my first year in Taiwan

And now our home is in Taiwan. The invitations converged, resulting in an unexpected opportunity that went far beyond teaching. I’ve been involved in writing and editing projects involving accreditation, academic journal articles, and historical documents for groups and individuals. I am involved in research about teaching writing and the writing process to English language learners.  I’m even coordinating the development of a new in-house textbook project, which involves eight new books for the new curriculum of our University’s English language program.

I had no idea that any of these invitations would bring about such a major factor in my career trajectory. These years in Taiwan will forever change my life. For me, that’s the gift of this experience–making a difference in the lives of my students while doing the work I love. I have found a home half-way across the world, a place where I can flourish in spite of the physical distance between me and my loved ones in the US.

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Independently Wealthy, Right?

Community: A Source of Blessing

This is the first time I’ve actually re-posted from another blog, so if it doesn’t go the way it should, please bear with me. I am re-posting because it has touched me profoundly at a time when I am struggling to accept my own situation and choices. And it reminds me of the power of community. Such a concept is not new, but her blog post (and the comments that followed it) show that community often transcends geographical boundaries and time zones.

Lesley’s story and her request have rallied a large online community that comes from all over the world. And while there may be some who have not understood her vision, or who think her quest to win a contest is self-centered, they are definitely in the minority. Lesley has already done some pretty awesome things in her life, through her hard work and sacrifice. Her desire to experience life fully isn’t just about her, but it motivates each of us to be true to our own visions and to do what we can to bring them to reality. In doing so, we also help others see that their own visions are possible. I voted for Lesley in as many ways as I could, and then decided that I needed to do more.

So I decided to re-blog Lesley’s post to share how she has affected me and in the hopes of getting her a few more votes. A win for her is a win for the community. There is a link to vote within her post. You could also look at the sheer number of people who have responded with their support for her story (but you probably won’t have time to read all of them–it’s a LOT!). She is in the top three for this contest, so anything any of us can do really can make a difference for her. Several other people have re-blogged her, but I probably was one of the most verbose about it. (But that’s probably not a surprise if you’re a regular reader of my blog.)  

Her story has touched a chord with me personally because it reconnected me with my own journey and has helped me see my current path in a new light. I have only recently come to terms with the fact that the only way the textbook project will be completed successfully is if I accept that it requires all of the attention and effort I have. There is no point in bemoaning it or wishing it could be otherwise or trying to find a way to wiggle out of it or make it less than it is. What that means is that the next ten months are going to be extremely taxing—brutal even. But what it doesn’t mean is that I need to give in to feeling deprived or discouraged when I have to pass up other opportunities temporarily in order to accomplish this project that I chose and that I believe in. A project that will benefit a community that I am now part of.

Lesley’s story reminds me that the ups and downs are part of the ongoing cycles that are involved in a life worth living. Her post coincided with my struggle to “make room” for other things I thought were important. And maybe they are–but not NOW! I want to–need to–complete the textbook project in a way that is satisfactory to me. Is it going to be easy? Obviously not! But that’s the reality. I need to create a map, a path to the clearing that focused on the textbooks, in spite of the obstacles and red tape that sometimes threaten to rob the project of its meaning. Focus and sacrifice are what this project require, and I choose to bring it to completion.

The response to Lesley’s story also helped me finally understand why people are so interested in my story: how I came to be living in Taiwan and what I have encountered here. I forgot that the things that have become routine for me still make for interesting reading for people who have not made this kind of choice. In fact, my next post is going to answer the question that I have answered many times from people I meet online and from my students. “What brought you to Taiwan?”  Other stories of my experiences will follow. Stories contain truths; they contain hope; they contain magic.

When Lesley shared her story, she enlarged the influence she already had. Her spirit and determination is an inspiration to many. Being part of a community that supports one another in their quests to become visionaries of their own lives enriches all of us. The fact that our paths can now cross virtually as well as in real time provides a new kind of energy that can be a powerful influence. Sharing our dreams and our stories connects all of us. Thank you, Lesley!

Independently Wealthy, Right?.