Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Still I Rise

From the one and only Maya Angelou:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Damn, Maya.
Say it again.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Catching the Scent

Hafiz says, "I have become a foreigner to every world except that one in which there is only You and me."

I'm beyond grateful to have Jeremy by my side through this transition from one culture to the next. He is my home. And there's no place I'd rather be.

I'm amazed on a daily basis--all the ways in which Korea and America are so different. There are so many "normal" parts of my life as an American that just do not exist in Korea, like:

-Diversity. Not real big in Korea compared to the States. Quite homogenous.

-Big, diesel trucks that people drive even if they are hauling nothing at all. So many in Korea are on board with conservation. We seem to be the only ones in the world still arguing about climate change.

-Guns. People carrying them. And signs prohibiting people from bringing them into an establishment. The first one I saw in Nashville, I thought it was a joke. And then, I remembered where I was.Tr

-Boats/campers/toys. Where would one store such a thing? No one has a garage.

-Garages and tools. Most of the population lives in apartments. So why would one own a hammer or a tool belt. Most of the work is done my landlords and mechanics.

-Hobby Lobby or any kind of big, craft store. Oh, how I've missed you!


-Mexican food. Taco Bell. Avocado. Cilantro.

-Root beer. Mmmm.

-Decaf coffee! Yay for coffee after 3pm! For some reason, they just didn't have any that we could find in Korea.

-Bibimbap (a traditional Korean food) for $18 where it normally costs $4 in Korea!

-Cleavage. Just not a thing. I saw more cleavage in our first week in America, than I saw in two years in Korea.

-Leggings. In America, some women wear leggings as pants (that's a whole 'nother blog that I will never write), but Korean women wear them with a built-in, attached skirt thingy.

-Shirtless runners. We are quite a risqué bunch by comparison.

-PDA. A couple snuggling on a blanket in the park might as well be sex to me now. Kidding, not kidding.

-Obesity. Just not a prevalent thing in Korea.

-"Bless you", what a strange thing we say when someone sneezes. But I have to admit, when I'd sneeze in Korea, I'd kind of wait for it. Wait for it...Now Jeremy and I say, "Go to hell!"

Lately, I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible
and this quote made a lot of sense to me:

"Once every few years, even now, I catch the scent of Africa. 
It makes me want to keen, sing, clap up thunder, lie down at the 
foot of a tree and let the worms take whatever of me 
they can still use.

I find it impossible to bear.

Ripe fruits, acrid sweat, urine, flowers, dark spices, and other 
things I've never even seen--I can't say what goes into the composition, 
or why it rises up to confront me as I round some corner hastily, 
unsuspecting. It has found me here on this island, in our little town, 
in a back alley where sleek boys smoke in a stairwell amidst the day's 
uncollected refuse. A few years back, it found me on the Gulf Coast 
of Mississippi, where I'd returned for a family funeral: Africa rose up 
to seize me as I walked on a pier past a huddle of turtle-headed 
old fishermen, their bait buckets set around them like a banquet. 
Once I merely walked out of the library in Atlanta and there it was, 
that scent knocking me down, for no reason I can understand. 
The sensation rises up from inside me and I know you're still here, 
holding sway. You've played some trick on the dividing of my cells 
so my body can never be free of the small parts of Africa it 
consumed. Africa, where one of my children remains in the 
dank red earth. It's the scent of accusation. 
It seems I only know myself, anymore, 
by your attendance in my soul."

Monday, December 7, 2015

There Will Come a Day

There will come a day
when I wake up alone in our bed.
When I reach across the sheets
for your warm, welcome arms
and you won't be there.
Ever again.

There will come a day
when I wander this world alone.
When I pass the hours
expecting your call
or a text
or something
and it will never come.
Ever again.

There will come a day
when I think I see your face.
When I look around a crowded room
and anticipate your admiring eyes
but I won't see them.
Ever again.

And thoughts like this can keep me up at night.
As if dreading that inevitable day
will protect me somehow.
But it won't. 
It will only hold me hostage.
Thoughts like this can ravage my heart right open,
as if it's really happening.
Right now.

But it's not.
That day is not today.

Today, I'm laying beside you.
Today, I'm complaining about the lump in this bed.
And you're looking across the pillow at me
with so much fondness,
I'm afraid my heart just might
leap out of my chest and attempt
to join up with yours.

Today, I'm in love and all is well.
And all is well.

Hafiz says,

"Nothing can shatter this love.
For even if you took another

into your arms, the truth is,
my sweetheart, you would






Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Prayer for San Bernadino

Fourteen people didn't wake up this morning.
They didn't kiss their spouses.
They didn't go to work.
They didn't show up to their yoga class or their lunch date.
We've experienced another tremendous loss.

I don't know why this happens.
I don't know if it's guns or mental health.
And the fact, that we always come back to bickering about one of two things, makes me feel like we aren't trying hard enough. Maybe we are so shell-shocked (or so jaded) that we've lost our ability to creatively look for solutions.
And maybe we look for someone to blame because we don't know how to feel this kind of grief.
We're just hurting too much.

After a different American tragedy a few years ago, my sister said, "I just keep reminding myself that we've never been at this exact place in human history ever before. We don't know what we're doing. We're just doing our best."

And so, while I have no answers.
No critique.
No magic words.

I do have a prayer--a petition, a plea--that we can still find each other in our sadness. Because we belong to each other. We are all we've got.

I pray that we hold onto hope. Even when it seems impossible.

I pray for the families that have experienced such a terrible and abrupt loss.

I pray that in misdiagnosing our grief as anger we don't lash out at others.

I pray that we give ourselves time to properly grieve these mass shootings that have become commonplace in our country more than any other place on Earth.

I pray that we are mindful with our words and give each other grace in our quick-witted opinions and rant-worthy posts online.

I pray the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, called "Mercy" by Crystal Davy:

"God of all the
big and small things
Hear our cry for mercy.

Darkness, sorrow
flee before you
Hear our cry for mercy.

Love of Heaven,
here incarnate
Can the dust sing out Your praise?

Hear our cry for mercy.
Hear our cry for mercy.
Hear our cry for mercy.

You have given
all we've needed
You put strength into our bones.

You have taken,
You have weakened,
You made hunger grip our souls.

Father, Father
daily bread give,
You'd not offer us a stone
You'd not offer us a stone.

Hear our cry for mercy.
Hear our cry for mercy."

Sometimes all you can do is fall down under the weight of it all.
To feel it.
Not try to explain it or make it better.
Just feel it.
We can't carry all of these deaths.
But perhaps the greatest honor we can pay to those who have lost their lives is to grieve with them.
To grieve for them.

from CNN.com

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Change is a Form of Loss

Lately, I've felt a strong desire to walk up to people and awkwardly announce,
"I don't know if you know this, but...I was just in Korea."

And I know that they'd stare me down, look for my adult supervision,
and start to walk away. At which point, I would grab their arm, look them
straight in the eyes and repeat,
"No, I don't think you understand: I was just in Korea!"

And then this poor unsuspecting person just might run away. And they probably should.
Because I'm feeling a wee bit crazy lately.

Not really, truly I'm-a-harm-to-myself-and-people-around-me crazy.
I'm just the fantasizing-about-this-every-damn-day kind of crazy.

Because I just can't stop looking around me
at the coffee shop
at the grocery store
at the gas station
on the street
in the airport
at a rest stop
and thinking, "How does this place exist at the same time as all the places I've just been?"

Like Korea
and Cambodia
and China
and Vietnam
and Japan
and Thailand
and Indonesia.

It's disorienting.
It's unsettling.
It's crazy-making.

It's like Narnia. A place you've been to. A place that is real. As real as this chair I'm sitting on. But it's rare to find a person who has been there and can relate to what you're saying. Or someone who realizes that that place you just came from takes up 70% of your thinking on a daily basis. Someone who knows to say, "Tell me about this place you've come from."

It's not a rational question. You can't tell just by looking at me. I'm fine. I'm functioning. But this occurrence, where you've been to such a vivid and unique place, but almost no one in your "new" life has. They don't get it. How could they? So my body is here sitting across the dinner table, but my head is somewhere else entirely. That's a hard one that I haven't quite figured out what to do with.

On Facebook recently, a friend who also lived abroad a few years ago, wrote, "Turns out you can't live in two places at once. I'm still coming to terms with leaving a part of myself somewhere and being a whole person at the same time. It's very difficult. I have to admit that, for me, moving forward means forgetting a little. Heartbreaking but thus is life."

hiking in Bali, Indonesia

Travel is a dismembering experience.

A big part of me is in Colorado.
And Nebraska.
A large piece of me is and always will be in Cambodia.
Another piece of me resides in Korea.
And little bits of me are scattered throughout all the places I've landed in-between.

The farther I go, the more disjointed I become. But it's not only one painful amputation after another. Because some how, like Narnian magic, my heart grows fuller and my eyes more clear.

Rob Bell (who should start paying me for all these endorsements) says,
"Change, even it it's good, is always a form of loss, and loss must be grieved. 
That's the only way it works. Stuff it, deny it, repress or suppress it and it will 
come back to haunt you. It will lurk in the shadows and it will resurface later. 
Your grief then, is a sign of health. It demonstrates an awareness of your 
interiors, your heart, and your desire to face and embrace what's 
actually going on inside of you."

So, as I grieve the loss of this Korea-season of our life, I will do so with real-parts of my beating heart, pulsating from various homes around the world.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Be a Safe Place This Thanksgiving

Today, I sat at a coffee shop on a cloudy afternoon and listened to people share their Thanksgiving plans. I went to the grocery store and bought cranberries and chicken and rosemary and chives. I fought the crowds for a parking spot with the best of 'em. I sat in the kitchen and watched my sister cut onions and make delicious food.

It's been three years since our last Thanksgiving in the United States. Two years since I ate snail soup on Thanksgiving. A year since I blogged that, "we won't always be so far away." And here we are, not so far away, in the States with people we love spending the holidays how we always have and how we likely always will.

There's comfort in familiarity and there's thrill in the foreign.

I'm lucky to have experienced both. What a gift.

Beyond the gift of travel, is the gift of healing. And Thanksgiving will forever be a reminder to me of the healing and growth and recovery that has taken days, week, months, and years. And so on the eve of a day that still haunts and torments many a person with anorexia and/or bulimia, I'd like to share a few thoughts on ways to support a person with an eating disorder, but also EVERYONE at the table. Because there is likely someone in your life that has an eating disorder you know nothing about AND there's always room for a little more compassion even for the other folk gathered around your table:

1. STOP asking people if they've lost/gained weight
     What a boring a judgey question anyway. Certainly, we are far more interesting as human beings than numbers on a scale.

2. Talk about things other than food
     And please-oh-please do not comment on how much or how little a person is eating. None of your damn business, that's what they're eating!

3. Stop rationalizing your food choices
     No one really cares that you were "bad" and ate a muffin this morning. No one really cares that you were "good" and ran three miles this morning. Again, this only makes us all stupider as human beings.

4. Put your bathroom scale away
     Better yet, throw it in the trash. Get rid of it for good. If you're overweight you'll know it because your clothes aren't fitting. Fixating on numbers is what contributes to eating disorders anyway. I can pinpoint precise moments at another person's home when I stepped on the scale and it set me back another few months. Not their fault. Just a nice gesture.

5. Don't use ED-specific language as a joke
     You finding "binging" on pumpkin pie laughable only makes a person feel trivialized. And claiming that you couldn't be anorexic because you lack the willpower doesn't make anyone feel accomplished or proud.

6. Offer something to do before or after the meal
     Sitting around in preparation of eating and in the after-math of eating is about the hardest time for a recovering person. Suggest a walk. Ask if they wanna play cards. Basically, anything is everything.

7. Don't make observations about what their eating
     Likely if a person is trying to hide eating disordered behaviors they won't fulfill your curiosity to witness it anyway. So trust that the person is following a best-laid plan unless they ask specifically for your help.

Basically, leave this person's recovery to the experts. And please avoid body-shaming talk and conversation about fat and calories that often pervades so much of our culture as some kind of weird, national past-time.

We're all getting better, people. Every day. We're all learning how to love each other better.

Here's to that well-worth-it journey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

One Little Cupcake Sprinkle

When did "So, what's next for you two?" become such an offensive question?

We've been back in the States for almost two months now; traveling from state-to-state, spending time with people we love. And along the way, kind, generous, sincere people often ask--as any normal human being would--what we're going to do now. And when it happens I want to shrivel into a teeny-tiny person, the size of a sprinkle on top of a cupcake and just disappear, pretend like I didn't hear the question, and blend in with the other sprinkles until the person walks away.

I don't know what we're doing.

I know we've finished college.
I know we're married.
I know we spent two years in Korea.
But I can't easily account for the past ten years.
I seem to have tragically short-term memory.
I don't know how I got here.

So, now what?

Listening to Rob Bell's podcast recently, he released a series of daily thoughts about forgiveness. About how our failure to forgive people doesn't hold them hostage, it holds us hostage. It keeps us straddled with one foot in the past and one foot in the present. Not. Fully. Living. And, for the life of me, I couldn't think of anyone that I needed to forgive. But I listened on because Mr. Bell always has wise things to say, like this:
"And oftentimes the debts are ones we've racked up, we haven't forgiven ourselves. We are not living well with ourself. We have not made peace with our own story."

Maybe I need to make some peace.
Make amends.
Forgive myself for what was.
For the things that changed my story.
For my short-term memory.
For the ways my 20s seems to have slipped through my fingers.
Like I expected something more, but am left with what I have.

If I'm lingering in the past, it's difficult to be present and content now.
Because part of me still feels like I'm nineteen years-old.

And so...

Dear Heather-girl,

I forgive you. 

I forgive you for being 18 and wanting to fit in so desperately.

I forgive you for the time you stopped eating.

I forgive you for the times you forced yourself to throw-up.

I forgive you for showing up to college only half-way there.

I forgive you for ever believing that your worth was dependent upon your appearance.

I forgive you for the hours you spent with five different counselors.

I forgive you for the women you judged in therapy, positive that you'd never be "that bad."

I forgive you for the reasons you went to Cambodia.

I forgive you for being broke open and torn apart.

I forgive you for Cambodia being the fight-of-your-life.

I forgive you for needing trauma counseling.

I forgive you for the friendships you lost along the way.

I forgive you for the boundaries you had to make to get through the day.

I forgive you for the times you couldn't go to class.

I forgive you for each passing semester blurring into a cacophony of counseling appointments, self-harm, regret, and, oh yeah--college courses, too.

I forgive you for losing track of time and losing track of self.

I forgive you for the six years you spent recovering from that eating disorder.

I forgive you for the 4.5 years (and oh, how much money...) it took to earn a degree you may or may not ever use.

I forgive you for the two years you spent in Korea. Your friends may have shiny careers, but you don't have student loans.

I forgive you for worrying so much about the future.

I forgive you for wanting to play small.

I forgive you for being twenty-eight and feeling lost and unsettled and unsure.

It's hard to let go of what feels like so many pitfalls and drawbacks these past ten years. "If only..." are two of the most dangerous words in the English language. I can think of so many things that I wish had gone differently.

But my life isn't only one of regret.
It's just awfully easy to see them as I'm standing here with a lot of time on my hands and miles and miles to reflect on.

So, here's to forgiving myself and moving forward with hope. Because, as Rob Bell says,
"To forgive is to set someone free and then realize that it's you."

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Every birthday surprises me.
Every year.
Every passage of time.

As if I forget that time is happening whether I like it or not.
Time is happening.
Time has happened.

Today is my twenty-eighth birthday.

And more than once during the past year, I've stopped to tally up how I got here, like, "Okay, we've been in Korea for two years and we came in August of 2013. We were married in 2012. So yeah, I guess I am twenty-eight!"

More often than not, it feels like the math just doesn't add up. But it does.
My heart just needs to catch up to my head.

And so to help ground me in this moment and this year, some thoughts to ponder:

1. What brought me joy?
Living in Korea.
Spending time with my husband.
Playing Ultimate Frisbee.
Laughing with and learning from my co-workers in Korea.
Becoming an auntie in March and meeting her in October.
Traveling to America, Japan, China, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

2. What are some of my favorite memories?
Riding bikes around sun kissed, Udo island in Korea with my parents when they came to visit.

Flying to Nebraska for six days for my best friend's wedding. Jumping on the bed in our excitement. Standing there by her side knowing that I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Coming home to a tent set-up in our living room, camping chairs, a "fire" on the TV (compliments on YouTube), and the movie Wild because my husband loves me so.

Playing women's Ultimate Frisbee with the Mother Huckers and going undefeated in the Summer Showdown tournament.

Standing on the Great Wall of China with Jeremy and re-visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia knowing I'm in a much better place than the last time I was there.

3. What did I learn?
Try as I might, putting people/cultures in boxes doesn't serve anyone and rarely turns out to be accurate. Just let people be people, free from whatever categories I feel I need to put them in so that it can all make sense.

Marriage is hard and marriage is beautiful.

I learned how to record music on GarageBand and how to make videos on iMovie!

I'm learning about culture shock and adjusting to life between homes.

4. How about next year?
I want to spend less time on social media.
I want to read 40 books.
I want to start taking guitar lessons.
I want to--at least--try Crossfit.
I want to be content: here, there, and everywhere.

5. How old would I be if I didn't know how old I was?
     Easy. Twenty-three. Because I spent 18-23 recovering from an eating disorder and 24-28 finding my feet again. That process of healing made me feel like those years didn't "count" and I lost track of time. Of course, part of me wishes I could get those years back, and I wonder if I'll always feel five years younger than I really am.

This is what 28 looks like.

Here's to many more...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


I don't remember how to be a friend.
How to be a sister.
How to be a daughter.
How to be a daughter-in-law.
How to be a normal U.S. citizen.

I don't remember, because we spent the last two years living in Korea
and all I had to be was a wife, a teacher, and a foreigner.

Three things.
Three little things.

And on this side of the world, my roles are different. Not that I've been completely absent from my friends or family the last two years, but we haven't engaged, played jokes, hugged, touched, bumped into each other, or dropped by unannounced in a long time.

Greeley, CO

I'm struggling to find my feet.
I'm trying to remember how to sit and listen to a friend that's sitting across from me.
I'm trying to remember how to be an active part of my sibling's lives.
I'm trying to remember the daughter I was before I left for Korea.
I'm trying to remember how to be part of my adopted family.
And surprisingly, even finding my footing as a American has been tricky.

Boston, MA

Because being a "foreigner" and being a "U.S. citizen" are not the same thing.
As a "foreigner" you are always being compared to the local culture.
As a "U.S. citizen" you are a native with no need to explain yourself.

So, I find myself bowing at people.
Being surprised when someone holds a door open for me.
Says "bless you" when I sneeze.
Or strikes up conversation about the weather. In the bathroom.
I find myself trying to be funny.
And remembering Oh, that was only funny over there...
I forget to make eye contact
because I spent so long training myself not to.
I'm overdosing on all things gluten-free
and my colon is feeling it.
I'm behind on pop culture and politics.

Wilmington, DE

I feel like I'm in 7th grade all over again, trying to observe what it takes to "fit in" and awkwardly bumbling through conversations as a complete fraud in the meantime.

"Disorienting" is one word for it.
Another is "culture shock".

We lived in Korea for the past two years.
We've been back in the States just shy of a month.

So I'm trying to give myself some grace because these things take time. And, to be fair, my mind hasn't yet caught up with my body. Since we left Korea, this body has been in 7 countries and 18 states. I think my mind is still somewhere over the Pacific ocean.

York, Maine

I'm giving myself space to feel disoriented.
To feel homeless.
To feel flitty.
To feel nomadic.
To feel lost.
To feel unsettled.
Because we are.

And during this season, I'm leaning heavily into the idea that how I'm feeling is okay. Even normal. That this won't be forever and that while we get through it I can set some boundaries. I can ask for what I need even if others don't quite get it. Even if it means taking a time out. Sitting the evening out. I may need to be a little selfish.

I love Elizabeth Gilbert's definition of "selfish" that she talked about recently in a podcast
with Rob Bell (in fact, check the whole thing out here):

"In Mandarin, there are two different words that we translate in English 
as 'selfish' because we don't have these two different words, 
we only have the one. 

And one of the words means doing something that's beneficial for you

And the other word means doing something that's 
greedy, hoarding, and taking from others

See, they separated out those two ideas. We didn't. We put those two ideas 
into one. So whenever we do something that's beneficial for ourselves it goes under 
the file as 'selfish' when actually it's just something that's beneficial for you."

Here's to world travel.
Here's to gratitude.
Here's to joblessness.
Here's to fumbling around like a 7th grader.
Here's to nomad-life.

Here's to whole-hearted self-ishness.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

What I Know

Here's what I know for sure:
The more I learn, the less I know.

So, I want to make thought-provoking observations about the things I've seen and experienced the past month in Asia, but anything I start to say is only half-true. I mean, what can a person really say about any place after only a short time there? What can I even tell you after two years Korea? Or twenty-seven years in America?

Pretty. Much. Nothing.
And if I did, it would just be full of generalizations. And those are boring.

But here are a few--brief--observations:

-World travel is a gift.

-World travel is a challenge.

-China is a really big place.

-China is on top of the safe-bicycle commuting train. Oh my word, they had lanes for all the bicycles that was separated from the main traffic via a large median. It was awesome.

-It was tricky to find English-speaking folk. But those we met were super kind and helpful.

-China is a super old country and has a much different history (especially these past 60 years) than Korea does. So China feels very old because a lot of the architecture and transit is dated in a charming way. But in Korea everything is shiny and new. The apartment buildings are identical, because they were all built in recent history.

-The Great Wall is amazing.

-This is a real-life conversation I had with a Chinese guy at our hostel: "Excuse me, do you use Instagram in China?" He answered, "Legally?" I shook my head. Oh yeah, Facebook, Google, and the-like are banned in China because it's a communist country. Felt like a big dork.

-Hostels are the bomb.

-Thai food is favorite food. Ever.

-If you wanted to move anywhere as an expat, I'd go to Thailand. Chiang Mai, specifically.

-Go get a Thai massage.

-During one Thai massage, the gal was rubbing my face and saying, "Pretty little human" over and over again, but I can't guarantee that kind of service if you get yours in Iowa. No promises.

-Train travel was more fun than I thought it would be.

-Going back to Cambodia this last time, felt like going home. Yes, I said "home." I'm still soaking that Beauty in. What a gift.

-Cambodian folk are the friendliest folk I encountered of all the countries. I may be a bit biased.

-In Cambodia, one of my old students (from EIGHT years ago!) came up to Siem Reap where we were staying. It was so amazing to see this gal. Her name is Kagna and since graduating high school where I taught her junior year, she's graduated from nursing school and now she's traveling around the Cambodian countryside with an NGO giving free medical care. I'm so proud of her.

-Angkor Wat is worth seeing. My God, it's incredible at sunrise.

-Bali is as beautiful as you imagine it would be.

-Chicken satay is where it's at, folks. Get it on a stick with spicy peanut sauce.

-There's no such thing as an "Asian" person or "Asian" culture. I don't know what that means. I know about Korean people and Thai culture, but the differences between them are as vast as the north pole is from the south. Asia is the biggest and most populous continent on the globe. Asian countries include Japan, Pakistan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Afghanistan, and off the top of my head, I can't think of a single similarity between Japan and Afghanistan.

But what do I know?

Monday, September 28, 2015

21,718 Miles Later

I write from the family farm in LaSalle, Colorado, USA. It's been quite a whirlwind of travel and activity for the past month. And this is the first chance I've had to write since we landed here four days ago.

Here's the last month in numbers:

30 days

7 countries

21,718 miles 
(34,951 kilometers)
That's 7.7 times across the continental United States!

Thus creating, 2.18 tons of carbon emissions
just in air travel.

10 different modes of transportation:
song tau 

13 stamps in our passport

20 hours of flight delays

5 guest houses

4 hostels

2 jimjilbangs 
(Korean spas)

4 nights sleeping on planes/trains

7 massages

2 surfing lessons

7 servings of mango and sticky rice

8 charcoal pills

1 trip to the hospital

limitless diarrhea

I haven't blogged along the way because I didn't know what to say. How can a person summarize/share/communicate anything meaningful at all with so much to capture and so few words to do it in? So the alternative has been to say nothing at all because that feels safer and truer.

I'll process and share more later, but for now I just wanted you to know that we are safe and sound in the USA continuing our world travels on this side of the planet. Because we're all world travelers when you think about it.

Here are some Instagram pix for now:





And now to sit still for a few minutes...

Nebraska, Tennessee, and Delaware, we're comin' for ya!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Permission Slip

Tomorrow, Jeremy and I are leaving Korea. It's been a lovely two years and it's time to move onto other things. Don't ask me what other things (oh please, oh please don't ask me)I have no idea. It's just time. So here we go.

And we're embarking on a month-long vacation through China, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia.
By plane.
And train.
And boat.
And bus.
By ourselves.
Without adult supervision.

Is this allowed?

I still feel like--in moments like this--I need a permission slip from my parents to do things we're doing.

Not because we're doing anything scandalous.
Not because my parents were unnecessarily protective.
But because time and time again, I forget that I'm 27 years-old.
That I'm the adult now.
And sometimes it's terrifying.

Because I grew up with the sense that I could never get into too much trouble, because there was always someone close-by to help me out: a parent, a teacher, a pastor, a mentor, or a counselor. And how blessed I've been to have people like that supporting me along the way. And it's not as though they all dropped off the map, but I suppose, I just needed them less and they gave me room to explore.

But now that I've explored myself to the other side of the world where there are
different languages
and culture
and currencies
and airline miles
and health insurance
and marriage
and visa renewals
and mammograms
and credit cards,
I just want to announce myself as the fraud that I am:

I'm not a real adult!
I'm just pretending to be one.

And it's like I'm waiting for someone else to give me permission.
That it's okay to make these hard, day-to-day decisions.
When really, this is it.
This is all the permission I need.

Go, child.

That last one is my favorite:

"Dear 91 year-old, Don't listen to other people's advice. Nobody knows what the hell they're doin'."

When my parents were 27, they didn't know what they were doing either. That's comforting.
We're all just doing the best we can.

Grace for each other.
Grace for ourselves.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

730 Days in Korea

Today is our two-year Korean anniversary.

It's been 730 days on this wild adventure living abroad. You'd think I'd have conquered some of my anxiety.And yet, somehow--some way--I feel just as anxious as I was on day one in Korea. The first night we arrived here, I had a panic attack (and wrote about it):

"That something sitting on my chest was fear.
Feat that we've made a huge mistake.
Fear that I haven't changed.
Fear that I just can't handle world travel.
Fear that something awful will happen to those we love at home.
Fear that history will repeat itself."

And I felt similarly this morning the second I opened my eyes.
Like there's something that is waiting to fall.
Like I need to keep checking my pulse.
Like I'm carrying bricks on my heart.
Like I'm about to collapse.
Like there's too many loose ends.
Pay the last bills.
Close the bank accounts.
Cancel the cell phones.
Cancel the Internet.
Say "Goodbye."
Sell that thing.
Find that thing.
Double-check that thing.
Pack up everything we own.

But if there's anything to be learned from our fears--and certainly anything to be gained from writing them down--it's this: 
none of the things I feared two years ago actually happened.

We didn't make a huge mistake.
have changed for the better.
can handle world travel.
Nothing awful happened to those we love at home.
History did not repeat itself.

And so, I think I am allowed to have peace about our future because the past two years have been great.

Here we are on our flight to Korea in August 2013:

And here we are in Seoul our first week:

And then, we started teaching English:

And meeting co-workers:

And making friends:

We visited Cambodia and Vietnam:

We went climbing:

We celebrated our second year of marriage:

We got muddy:

My parents came to visit:

We started an Ultimate Frisbee team: The Cheongju Chewbaccas!

We battled winter. And won:

We went to a Buddhist temple stay:

We went to Japan:

We played Frisbee with good people all over Korea:

We celebrated our third year of marriage:

And here we are now:

What a ride it has been!

We've been married longer in Korea than we have been married in America. So we've had to navigate a lot of things on our own. And I say we've done...swimmingly!

We've lived in two apartments.
Taught at four different schools.
Visited five countries.
Learned about ourselves.
Learned some how to read, write, and (kind of) speak Korean.
Learned about another culture.
Made friends from all over the world.
And paid off $40,000 of our student loan debt!

And so, NOW, looking forward at the next 30 days, 13 plane rides, and 7 countries,
here's what I know for sure:

-I don't have to do this alone, that's why I got married!

-Jeremy is a trustworthy friend and one I am lucky to have.

-We will figure this out one day at a time.

-We will get lost.

-We will be confused.

-We will disagree.

-But eventually, we'll be on the other side of this grand adventure and be grateful that we had the opportunity to take it.