Reflections and Resolutions

2011 was a damn good year.  It was my year of FINALLYs.

I finally went on a cruise.

I finally saw more European countries.

I finally got an iPhone AND a Kindle Fire.

I finally started taking Korean classes.

I finally got my root canal fixed! (blog on that to come later)

And many other smaller finallys along the way.

But that is not to say that I am finished.  Not even close.  I actually feel like I am just getting started.  There are still many things that I want to accomplish and figure out over the next 12 months to continue to improve my already good life and to continue building my ball o happiness.

As for last year’s resolutions, I’d say to some extent I accomplished about 25-50% of them.  The biggest success was in the form of travel.  I wanted to visit two new countries in 2011 and I visited 4 (technically 7 if you count airport layovers too).

Here are my aspirations for this year (in no particular order):

1.  Continue my intensive Korean lessons.  This means I should be able to get to level 5 (out of 6) by the end of my employment contract in July.  Also, I want to take the TOPIK test and see how high of a level I can achieve.

2.  Learn more Italian.  I am currently considering doing a 3 month intensive language stint in Italy after my contract ends so that I can achieve a high level of that language as well.  Plus of course the added benefit of not working for 3 months (haven’t been able to do that for 10 years!!) and seeing more of I.T.A.L.Y.  So if anyone has any recommendations on language schools there that have scholarships or work for tuition type deals, please let me know.

3.  Travel even more.  With trips expected to Taiwan and either Philippines or Thailand before the end of spring, this resolution is already in the works.  But I still want more.  I’d like to explore more of Asia while I am here including but not limited to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Jeju Island (Korea).

4.  Live a more minimalistic lifestyle.  Being an expat, and one who likes to live in small spaces, I’m learning to retrain my shopping habits and buy less STUFF.  I’ve talked about this in other posts as well and I want to continue to make this idea my way of life.  (See short, but inspirational TED video below on living in small spaces.  It’s one of my all time favs and I have watched it several times to remind me*).  I prefer to spend my time and money traveling, not cooped up in my apartment, so why do I need so much stuff there?  So this means getting rid of bad purchases, parting with my books and giving up on clothes that I barely wear.

5.  Learn how to balance my moods.  I tend to fluctuate from extreme happiness to extreme sadness and irritability.  This could be attributed to hormones, the emotional swings of a creative mind, a nutritional imbalance or something more serious such as a bipolar or anxiety disorder.  I’m not sure.  So, I need to figure out what it is and control it so that I can live a more balanced life (and stop driving my friends crazy).

6.  Figure out what I want to do with my life.  This will be a hard one to accomplish simply because I figure out what I want to do with my life all the time…and then I change my mind a week later.  (I can see my family and friends laughing and nodding in agreement)  I am known for getting super excited and obsessed about an idea, then changing my mind to something COMPLETELY different.  In the past week alone, I seriously contemplated moving to 4 different countries.

As for careers I am still considering the idea of being a writer, although perhaps magazine writing would be better suited for my attention span than novel writing.  I really enjoying teaching my younger students (1st-2nd grade), so continuing teaching English is an option (just with another company since mine is getting worse by the day).  I am also now researching the possibility of being a flight attendant, not only for the travel benefits, but because I’d like a job where being multilingual (see resolutions 1 & 2 above plus of course Spanish and English) makes me more marketable.  It would be a good fit for me since I don’t mind working holidays and don’t have a significant other, children, pets or a mortgage to go home to so there would be less stress on the scheduling front.  If anyone has any info on that career path let me know.  Also, if you have any other suggestions on what I should do with my life, I gladly welcome any out of the box thinkers.  🙂

I love the prospect of a new year and starting over.  It’s life refreshed.  What’s on your plate for 2012?

* TED video – Graham Hill (only 5 minutes long and worth it!) 


Updates…and Writing for Your Health?

I know, I know, I haven’t written nearly as much as I used to, but such is my life, creativity and focus comes in waves.  I’ve tried to fight it to maintain consistency and dependability, but alas the waves always win out and I have learned to accept it.

Since we last met, not too much has happened, except that I have FINALLY, finally…did I say FINALLY?…signed up for Korean language classes.  I tried a free class, I tried studying on my own, I tried a language exchange, but none of it really works for me personally, so I had to bite the bullet (err…more like bite a hole in my wallet) and sign up at an academy.  And since I have already put it off for so long, I decided the best way to catch up was with an intensive course.  So I’ll be taking 2 hours of classes, 5 days a week, hopefully until I reach the top level which will be for like the next year-ish.  I’m actually really excited about this because I know I’ll be able to pick it up quickly.  I’ll be starting on the 2nd level since I already know the basics and how to read, so I have until Tuesday to do the lessons they’ve already done in lesson 1 to make sure I’m not behind.  I’ve been doing 1-2 lessons a day for the past week and I love it.  I’m actually glad that I waited this long because now the language and words seem to make more sense because I’ve been here long enough to have heard and read and seen the language everywhere, so it seems somehow easier.

NANOWRIMO starts the same day as my classes so let’s see how well I do while balancing 10 hours of classes, 40 hours of work a week and 1,667 words a day in my life!  HA!  I may have mentioned before that I got my best grades in high school when I was working two jobs, so it may actually work since I am more productive when given limited amounts of time.  Not too sure how well that will bode for my blogging though…argh.

Now, on to something less about me, me me…

I read an article on yahoo about this book called The Secret Life of Pronouns and given that I like analyzing things and I love linguistics, I was instantly interested.  The idea of the book is that the pronouns, articles (a, an, the – for the non-English teachers out there) and prepositions we use say a lot about us and our interactions with others.  So I went to the author’s website and played with his linguistic personality exercises and watched his videos.

One of the videos was not related to pronouns, but was related to writing in general and I thought it would be of interest to you bloggers and fellow writers in the universe.  Here’s what he has to say about it…

What are your thoughts?  Do YOU think writing contributes to your health and well-being?  Do you feel physically better when we get it all down on paper (or monitor)?

30 Day Challenge #1

The word Han-geul in Han-geul. Hangeul is read...

Image via Wikipedia

I am sure I mentioned this before, but I am a self-diagnosed, severe….procrastinator.  I have so many things I want to do in life, but if given too much time to get them done, they never get done.  When I was in high school I got my best grades after I started working not one, but two jobs.  My dad joked that if I got a third one, I’d get straight A’s.  He was probably right.  Right now I have the luxury of time on my hands and am therefore not getting much accomplished, so I’m going to try to change that starting today.  I, of course, have tried setting goals for myself before and failed miserably.  However, I’m hoping that if I post my goal on here in a public forum, the idea of having to tell you I failed 30 days from now is much scarier than simply admitting the failure to myself, alone in my apartment.  So if I fail, feel free to laugh, point and mock me.

Any of you who watch TED will recognize the following video:

It is a very popular video on TED because it’s short, sweet and relatable.  Most people I know want to accomplish something from learning a language, playing guitar, getting into yoga, cooking…the list is endless.  I normally don’t jump on these inspirational bandwagons because of, well, the aforementioned failure rate and my ability to stay focused on one interest for more than like 3 days.  But alas, I am desperate.

So, what is my challenge you ask?  I am going to learn at least one new lesson a day from the Talk to Me in Korean (TTMIK) website.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I love languages and am currently attempting to learn Korean.  This seems like an obvious To Do since I live in Korea, but most foreigners here don’t bother to learn it, so I am part of a minority I assure you.  You can get around without it here, but I love languages (I should start collecting nickles…err 50won…for every time I say that) so I want to learn it while I’m immersed in it.  I wanted to go to an academy to learn it seriously, but I can’t afford one since one of the main reasons I’m here is to pay off student loans.   The cheapest academy for 2 classes a week is like $175-ish/month.  I’ve been trying to self study for a year, but haven’t been doing so well staying on track.  I’ve got lots of pretty Korean books on my shelf though!  They have free classes on Saturdays at the Seoul Global Center, but I don’t think once a week is enough time to keep my focus; however, now that I’m actually living in Seoul, I may go just to meet other learners and buy another pretty textbook.  😉

If you are in Korea and haven’t heard of TTMIK yet, it’s worth checking out.  It is much more than just a podcast.  They have 6 levels of lessons that include audio lessons and follow along PDF, plus a ‘workbook’ every 10 lessons so you can practice what you learn.  On top of that, they are very interactive.  They encourage and respond to questions and comments.  They always post interesting things on their Facebook site too like translation challenges and cultural lessons.  I’ve never seen a language website so well-rounded, so helpful and so…FREE.  They are amazing.

I have studied some of their lessons already, but I would get overzealous in one day and try to do like 10 of them and end up not retaining anything.  So I will try for one a day and see how much I can learn from just a website.  I think those who live in other countries might struggle with learning from only a website, but since I live here and interact everyday with Koreans, it should be easier for me to incorporate the lessons and practice speaking.  As of right now, I read Korean and know the basics like numbers, where things are, how to order food and buy things and how to ask if a store has something you need.  You’d be surprised how far that little bit gets me.

So without further ado, the challenge commences.  I may post about what I’m learning from time to time, but probably not everyday.  Cross your fingers and wish me luck!

P.S.  I’ve named this post Challenge #1 because I also would like to make myself read/study Italian for one hour a day too, but I don’t want to take on too many goals at one time like I normally do, so we’ll save that for another day o’ motivation.  🙂