Birth Month Reflections

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast where the guest speaker brought up spiritual bypassing. The guest explained spiritual bypassing as a way some people use yoga and meditation to escape being vulnerable and feeling tough feelings.

As I was listening, I couldn’t help but resonate. Omg this is me. I’ve been using yoga and meditation to spiritual bypass for years!

As I approach my 28th birthday, coming up this month, I can’t help but reflect on the last year. And what a year it’s been. I’ve learned so much about myself in this year. I’ve grown so much, and I think I’m much healthier overall than I was a year ago in mind, body, and spirit. And you know what? I’m EXHAUSTED. From putting so much pressure on myself to grow. Even before COVID I did this–I’ve identified myself so much as someone who actively grows that I’ve hardly been able to enjoy my life for what it is. I just want to be done growing for a while and embrace me as I am right now.

And while I do want to embrace myself as I am now, I’m also so, so grateful for how far I’ve come in the last year.

Two chief realizations I’ve taken away from this year are that I’m really bad at being vulnerable, and that I have embraced a spiritual bypassing, toxic positivity attitude for much of the last few years. And both really go hand in hand–what better way to cover up being vulnerable than with toxic positivity?

This year has taught me to be kinder to myself–and that kindness to myself translates into kindness to others. This year has taught me about boundaries. This year has taught me that the way I show up in relationships matters, but that I can also choose who I show up for.

Continue reading “Birth Month Reflections”

Reflections on the Love Year

Every year, I pick a word of the year to reflect what I hope to focus on on a broad scale during the course of that year. I choose it at the close of the previous year after careful reflection about the direction I internally feel my life is going, and how I believe I can best lean into that direction.

Late last year, I picked love as my 2020 word of the year. Looking back, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

— — —

2020 seems like multiple years and like it just started. I feel like I’ve aged lifetimes, yet I can hardly believe that my 27th year is nearly over, that it was spent almost exclusively at my house. The days at home blend into each other. Time has seemed to stop, and I find that my internal clock is confused that it’s already almost 2021. What? Wasn’t it just summer? We just pressed pause in March, right?

Yet, even though September feels like a lifetime ago now, I know that, despite the monotony this strange year has brought to my daily life, time is marching forward; furthermore, even though my body has been all too sedentary these last 9 months, my mind and soul are moving forward with time.

— — —

When I chose love as my 2020 word of the year in late 2019, I was focused on obtaining external sources of love. In fact, that is what I thought 2020 would bring: external sources of love. In some ways, it has brought that. Yet, what I didn’t realize, and what I have been slowly discovering throughout the course of this year, is that 2020 has all about learning to love myself. Furthermore, those external sources that 2020 has brought were only obtained through a serious dedication to learning to love myself.

I didn’t love myself prior to this year. Not in the way I thought I did at the start of this year, at least.

On January 1, if you would have asked me if I loved myself, I would have said, “duh, of course I do”. I would have given you a laundry list of all the reasons I love myself–I do yoga every day, I meditate, I say no when I don’t want to do things, I eat healthy, home-cooked meals regularly, I try to get 7-8 hours a sleep each night.

That list would have shown that I’ve developed an impeccable self-care routine in the past few years. While self-care is, arguably, a form of love, it also doesn’t encompass love. Self-care says nothing of self-worth. Of having healthy boundaries. Of having joyful interactions on a daily basis. Of feeling secure in oneself. Furthermore, self-care on it’s own is a bit meaningless–as true self-care is meant to reset and rejuvenate oneself in order to show up at one’s best to all other forms of love.

While I had an impeccable self-care routine, I can’t say it supported me in any of those other forms of love until I really started working on myself in 2020.

Continue reading “Reflections on the Love Year”

2018, In Review

At the beginning of the year, I christened 2018 The Adventurous Year. 

I didn’t exactly know what that meant at the time, but I knew it would be good.

There were a couple major wins in 2018, mainly moving out of  a challenging and uncomfortable living situation to a place I actually like love, and getting a full-time job in line with my career goals. I also went above and beyond my reading goals for this year. After multiple years in a row of lackluster reading, I vowed to read 30 books in 2018. When I realized that I would complete this goal by mid-summer, I increased my goal to 45 books.

While the trip my German friend and I were talking about going on to South Africa fell through early on in the year (when I woke up from my day dreaming slumber and actually looked at my bank account to realize how NOT FEASIBLE THAT WAS on a substitute teacher who isn’t called in everyday’s pay grade), I was able to plan a trip closer to home with her. I finally got to see New York City, a place I’d been wanting to go to for years, and I also got to show her around my adopted city.

IMG_20180513_105926694
Liberty Island, Manhattan, May

My parents visited DC a couple of times this year and my brother was in town for multiple weeks near the beginning of the year for work–we were able to spend some time together, and he took me out to dinner for my birthday. Aside from my German friend spending a week with me in DC, I also got to host one of my closest high school Continue reading “2018, In Review”

The Good Year Revisited

What can we make of a year? Of one more Earthen journey around the sun? I suppose it depends–like most things in life, a year is what we make of it. What happens isn’t always up to us, but how we react can define the outcome.

Early on in 2017, I found myself in a few situations that forced me to reevaluate how I perceive myself. When I looked closer, I didn’t like a lot of what I saw. I realized that I was putting my attention in the wrong places, and that was keeping me from focusing completely on myself and my future. In turn, I  was unnecessarily anxious and completely out of wack when it came to evaluating my wants and needs in a healthy, productive way.

How did I react?

I stopped drinking coffee cold turkey when I realized that I was drinking 3-4 cups a day and accomplishing nothing because of caffeine-fuled anxiety; I quit my temp job, which left me feeling lifeless and uninspired, and started teaching ESL online; and, I decided that 2017 was going to be “The Good Year.”

Good hasn’t always been easy. It was a lot of hard days, and it was a lot of confusion. Good has meant a lot of growth, though. It meant slow change as I started to experience more good days than hard days on a day-to-day basis.

A lot did happen this year. I did take a much-needed trip to Germany with my family in the summer, where I got to see an old friend who studied at my high school on an exchange program in 2007. I also had quite a few visitors this year–one of my best college friends came to celebrate my birthday with me in early March, and my mom and Grandma came to visit in late March. My grandma had never been to DC before, and I was so happy to show her around my adopted city. My Kindergarten bestie and oldest friend came for a long weekend in October and all three of my immediate family members came to celebrate Thanksgiving with  me in my DC apartment–the first Thanksgiving we had together since 2014. I  quit two jobs (my temp position in January and my coffee shop position in August) and started three more (VIPKID in February, substitute teaching in September, and a really low time commitment tutoring opportunity in the summer). I am now officially an independent contractor in all three of my jobs, so I’ve learned the joys of removing tax money from paychecks on my own, as well as the frustration of not always getting work. I also moved from my first DC apartment to my current place.

Continue reading “The Good Year Revisited”

2016: A Reflection

2016, I have decided, will be a year of confidence, of poise, of adventure. It will be putting myself out there in more ways while also continuing to nurture the introvert inside of me. It will be sticking up for myself and chasing after my dreams. It will be blossoming even further into the strong, independent woman I know is inside of me. It will be having faith in my decisions, not doubting what my heart tells me.

 January 3, 2016

— — — —

 2016 was a year. On a global scale, many would agree that it sucked.

On a personal level, it sometimes sucked, but it was mostly quite full. If 2015 was the best year of my life thus far (as I’m pretty sure I dubbed it at its close), 2016 has been the most enriching. In many respects, it was a very painful year—particularly in its early months. 2016 was completely losing all sense of self while simultaneously trying my best to live in a foreign country and culture. It was being alone in Thailand on my birthday, with head lice and pneumonia in tow—at the same time. It was striking out independently in search of my place in this world and feeling a lot of uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt along the way.

anuban-2-2
It was also leaving these cuties and the joy of teaching them (on the rare occasions when they wanted to be taught) behind, unsuccessfully holding back tears as I left their classrooms for the last time, because the love, kindness, and intellect of children is grossly undervalued and because they taught me so much.

That said, 2016 did have its bright spots: traveling in Europe with an old high school friend; showing my parents around the beautiful country I called home for six months; having no clue what the heck to do with my life post-Thailand, but trusting my gut in Continue reading “2016: A Reflection”

CHANGES. They Happen Sometimes.

Do you ever get the feeling that something is just off? That something is off and you can’t necessarily put a finger on why. That something is off and you know that, even if it’s not necessarily convenient or easy, you have to make a change?

Today I should be heading to my first day of school at Teacher Britta at a secondary school in Nong Khai.

But…I’m not.

Instead, I’m catching a flight to another part of Thailand to settle into a new placement, to a new life.

— — — —

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Nong Khai. It’s a bustling town. There’s actually quite a lot to do here. It’s in a cool location, right on the border of Laos. There is absolutely no reason to not like Nong Khai.

It’s not you Nong Khai, I promise. It’s me.

From the moment I got here, I had a fleeting sense that something wasn’t right. I pushed it aside, though. This is my placement, after all. I shouldn’t question it. Right?

Still. I found myself avoiding it. I had already had a two day trip to Laos planned when I got here Continue reading “CHANGES. They Happen Sometimes.”

Reflections from the Other Side…Or, Going Back to College as an Alum

This morning I woke up on my college campus for the first time in almost four months.

My college campus alma mater.

I woke up in the on campus apartment that the friend I was staying with lives in, rose from the couch that had been my bed for the night, and promptly went to look out the window.

It was a beautiful day. Gorgeous. The campus mall was brimming with green grass and the sky was blue. As I looked out at this scene, I found myself in awe of the beauty of this place that I had called home for four years. I looked out that window and I thought what a privilege it was to have this view. For four years of my life, I had had this view. Not from that same exact spot staring out that same exact window, of course. But I saw it every day. Early in the morning, I walked to classes on those sidewalks carved so effortlessly into the architecture of the mall. I trudged back from the library at 1 am closing time on those same sidewalks–exhausted, tired, craving sleep. I sat out on that green, green grass–or, in the spring time, grass still dead from six, seven months under snow–working on homework, spending time with friends (that one time drinking vodka disguised in a water bottle, progressively getting drunker as the sun beat down on us). I lived and breathed in that space. My whole being was a part of it.

It was my home for four years. And what a privilege to have called it home.

— — — —

Some places are just magical, you know? My alma mater will always be one of those places for me. This place shaped me. Many of my most critical moments of learning and growth happened not just on this campus, but because of this campus.

When I woke up today on that couch in my friend’s apartment…when I got up to look out that window…I was so very aware of that.

I was so very aware of how so very privileged I was to have had that view; to have occupied that space; and to be have been incredibly influenced by it. To still be incredibly influenced by it…even now, as an alum.

And I knew without a doubt that wherever I go in this world–Thailand, and then who knows where–this small liberal arts school on the prairie, this place that I can now call my alma mater…it will always be with me.

It’s the magic of it all.

It’s a part of me now.

IMG_20150908_083949671_HDR

 

The End (Or, the Beginning of the Rest of My Life)

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. — A.A. Milne

Have you ever asked yourself why you love something?

One of my friends asked me this the other day and I didn’t really know how to answer.

“Er…it’s really complicated, how do I even begin to explain?”

But really?

As I prepare to graduate today, I can’t help but ask myself all the reasons I love Morris. It’s a common string of words for me to say these days. I’ve said it plenty of times here on the blog. “I love this place so much. I’m going to miss it.”

But why? Why do I love this place so much? What is that it I’m going to miss?

Sure, it’s a beautiful place. As a prospective student, I fell in love with this campus Continue reading “The End (Or, the Beginning of the Rest of My Life)”