Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday's Meditation: Teaching

As my good friend Seth put it... "Teaching= most bipolar profession on the face of the earth" and quite honestly I couldn't agree more.

This week was OUT OF CONTROL. And quite honestly this past week is the one of the first that I've felt like a "real" teacher. Now... I'm sure you're thinking, "Gee Sara, you've been teaching for 18 months... and you are just now feeling like a teacher!?"  And the answer is yes... I'm fu-hinally feeling the ultimate stressors of teaching.

And I don't like it. I knew coming into this second year that I didn't enjoy teaching, but for one more year of a great income and other added benefits it'd be worth it.  This year I've put more effort into teaching and lesson plans than I thought possible.

And this week I'd had it. I'd been doing a great lesson on famous cities around the world, gave my kids 5 weeks to study, basically gave them every question/answer to the quiz I'd be giving them, and when the game time came around to quiz them... they didn't know a dang thing! It was ridiculous. And the great part was... they were mad at me!!  My teacher sided with them, and they said they didn't want me to teach them anymore... not a problem. If they aren't going to do their job and study, then I'm sure as heck not going to put all this effort into students that don't care! Well... they ended up apologizing saying they were at fault, and that they would study for me. So I agreed.

And then the next period my first graders were fabulous telling me "Teacher Sara I love you!" It was great!.... Like I said... bipolar city... here I am!

Here's a picture of the afore mentioned turds.  They really can be a fun class, but they are babied like no other, and it's beyond frustrating!

I think other than the fact that I KNOW teaching is not for me. I am coming to the realization of what actual teachers (those that make it there full on career) go through.

Honestly... how in the world do you do it?? I feel so many emotions throughout one single day and it's stressful. It's stressful to actually care so much about the students and about them learning, to have them not care at all! And I don't even get to hold a grade over their heads... I have no way of really giving them a tangible score or grade for what they've learned in my class. 

One thing this job is teaching me though is patience. Apparently it's supposed to be a virtue, but for some reason I enjoy losing my cool and freaking out the Korean students. Seriously though, I've really been practicing my patience, and practicing my "showing love to others whether I feel like ripping their heads off or not" Because to be honest... love is the last thing I want to show to these kids sometimes.

But I'm called to love, be patient, and to give these kids a chance. Because quite honestly most of these students come from a really rough home life and I want to be someone they can trust and turn too.

I honestly feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes... how is it possible to feel so much compassion and frustration towards one group of students? Even now, I can feel myself getting stressed about it and feeling so mixed up about things.

I know God is teaching me things through this, and I know I'll be a better student next year because of it.

Until then... I'll just keep on keepin' on and praying for my sanity, because I truly feel like I'm losing it. I want the rest of my time teaching to be fun. I want my students to enjoy my classes, and I want to feel like I'm actually making some sort of an impact on their a good way. Please, please, pray for me!

So as we celebrate this memorial day weekend, give thanks to our troops and for those that have fought for our country.
But please... also give thanks to those that have fought for our education. For that one teacher who believed in you, who you could talk too, the one that really put a lot of dedication into your learning.

Chances are they don't hear your appreciation enough and honestly hearing an "I love you teacher sara" makes a world of difference:)

So Mom, Mr. Vieths, Maureen Tobin-Stanley, and many many others... thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly never appreciated you so much... until I was in your very tough and bipolar shoes :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sophia Joy

Happy 5th Birthday Sophia Joy!!!

You are one special niece and we love you so much! We wish we could be in Alaska to celebrate with you!!! Hope you have a great day!!!!!

The Hungry Caterpillar

This weekend we had some friends out visiting us on the islands.  We had a great time sitting out in the sun, biking, and barbecuing!  After our little bbq we just sat outside and enjoyed the evening.

And then Jon found this little guy...

There were actually 3 of them on the same little branch and so I grabbed the macro lens and went to town... these are four of many, many photos of these fuzzy caterpillars :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

20 Questions

I got this from my friend Laura's  blog. And thought it was kind of a neat idea. It's fun to know about others around you, and I encourage whoever reads this blog to answer the questions as well! Do it in the comments section if you like :)

1) When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?

  Ugh... do I really have to do the Insanity Plyo workout today???

2) Do you miss anyone right now?

 Ummm hmmm let me think. Only all of my family and friends back home!!! Especially missing my parents who I just got done talking too and they are currently camping at my aunt and uncles cabin... I want to camp dang it!

3) If you could move anywhere else, would you?

   I would truly love to live somewhere in Europe or Australia for at least a year.

4) If you could choose, what would your last meal be?

 This is a toughie...I would have to say my moms Chicken Paprikash and Strawberry Rhubarb crunch pie... a la mode... hmmmmm I'm salivating just thinking about it.

5) What famous person, dead or alive, would you want to have lunch with?

  One of the disciples... doesn't matter which one. I would just love to know what living with Christ, and starting the church was like....

6) What was the last book you read?
   I just got finished with the book of Colossians, but non- biblical books I'm just in the middle of "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood... it's pretty crazy.

7) What was the last movie you watched?

The Book of Eli.... A- MAZ- ING! so good, as always Denzel Washington rocks my face off!

8) What was the last song you heard?

  Hmmmm one from Glee I'm sure. I've been listening to the soundtracks over and over :)

9) What is your dream vacation?

  I would love to go to Bali, go to Africa, go skydiving in New Zealand, and take the Trans- Siberian railway from China through Mongolia and on to Russia.  I have a lot of dream vacations, it's impossible to pick just one.

10) What is the next trip you'll take?

  Well we'll be hitting up Seoul and Busan this summer, China this September, and Eurotrip 2010 starts in October! We'll be toodling around for a good 7 weeks and I can't wait!

11) Did you ever go to camp?

   Basketball camp two summers I believe.

3 Summers at Camp Shamineau, and I think two at Lake Geneva Bible camp. And I was a counselor for 3 summers at YoungLife Castaway camp LOVED every moment :)

12) Have you ever been in Love?

    Well there is this stud of a man sitting next to me, that I'm quite smitten with :)

13) What do you want to know about the future?

    OH my goodness. Everything and Nothing at the same time. Some moments in life I would really love to know what the next step is, what's coming. But other times I really enjoy being surprised by life and where it takes us. It's always different from what I expect and I like the mystery of it.

14) Where is your best friend?

    Next to me, playing video games on the wii.  As for my female best friend, she is in the Twin Cities doing something fantastic I'm sure... Ashley Dee I miss you girl!

15) How is your best friend?

   I think he's pretty sore from the Insanity work out this morning, and slightly frustrated with his star wars video game :) Other than that he's good :)  As for miss Dee, she is finishing up her last quarter at the Art Institute for Interior Design... she is so talented and I'm so proud of her for graduating so soon!

16) Who is the biggest gossiper you know?

   Honestly no idea... in high school this would've been one of the easiest to answer... but now I don't really know.

17) what does your last text message say?

    I have no idea... it's something in Korean....hopefully nothing too important :)

18)  What are 3 things you've always wanted to do, that you still plan to accomplish?

   1) Be a mom (and hopefully a stay at home one)
    2) skydiving in New Zealand
   3) Get my Master's Degree in Psych. and hopefully my Phd someday!

19) What is one thing you learned from your parents?

  Oh too much! My mom has taught me sacrifice,  faith, and grace.
I always look at what she's gone through and feel admiration for where she is now.

Seeing her and my Dad (step dad) together makes me hope that Jon and I can have that type of relationship and be as involved with our faith and community as they are.

20) What is one thing you hope to teach your own children?

 I want to encourage them in everything I do. I hope to show them reliance on God throughout life, and I hope to show them that material objects are just that... material. They aren't the important things in life and there is so much more to life than money and objects.

So now you know a smidge more about me... tell me about YOU! :)

No Smoking

Last year I recall walking into the school and seeing one of my co-teachers, Mr. Choi beating a bunch of the male students. I was, of course, completely shocked and had to know why he was hitting these kids. Now... one thing you should know about Mr. Choi. He smokes... a lot. He was late to pretty much every class I had with him because he was outside smoking. He smoked ALL the time. And he was beating these kids because, get this, he caught them smoking.

I immediately told him this was really hypocritical of him and that he was the one setting a bad example to the kids. This was not taken really well, considering he was an older male, I'm a young female and I was totally going against confucian teaching. But to be honest I didn't really care. I also found out later that he was sexually harassing two of my teachers, which really lit the fire underneath me, and I didn't leave a lot unsaid between him and me. 

Anyway... a lot of Koreans smoke, just like everywhere else in the world, but I guess I don't remember anti- smoking posters in the hallway at my schools. At Jon's school last year they had like an entire exhibit set up for "No Smoking!"

And this year at my elementary school they also have posters lining the hall. I found most of them pretty typical... but one caught my eye specifically.

pretty typical poster, I think it's giving facts about smoking on the bottom, but I can't be sure.

Showing nasty black smoking lungs. ewwwww. This however also reminded me of 5th grade (i think it was then) When a doctor brought in a healthy lung and a cancerous lung... so nasty. It definitely stopped me from ever holding a cigarette to my mouth.

There were some other posters with a pregnant women and little kids and showing that you shouldn't smoke around them.

And then there was this little gem...

Is it a fat tony the tiger smoking a pipe? Is it the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland?
I just don't understand 1) How this is showing children not to smoke 2) What kind of character it's supposed to portray and 3) What in the crap it has on it's head.

If anyone could help me decipher why this cat/tiger thing also has the hands of a human and the feet of a.... *ahem* what animal has that type of feet?  It would be most helpful.

Although I think my favorite part is the writing underneath the creepy/high tiger.  "ART  by: Dragon." It doesn't get much better or more weird than that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


...yes that's right. Urine. That is what the school hallway has smelled like for the past 3 days. Take one step out of the teachers room and you are blasted. It's like living in a litter box... that hasn't been changed in a month. The smell has me disgusted, repulsed, and yet slightly curious.

I mean in the U.S. you don't really get a lot of weird smelling building, but in Korea it's not really that strange. Apartment buildings,  office buildings, medical centers, the subway, heck even some of the little shop/marts I've been in have had some sort of "off" smell.

I, for one, would LOVE to know why!? I mean really, why does it always have to smell here? I guess I know some of the reasons why, but still it just seems like a strange phenomenon.

I think it boils down to these factors

1) Korean do not flush toilet paper... they throw it away. Yes that's right. You have a trash bin next to the toilet and that is where you throw your used toilet paper. Gross.. I know. And the best is their reasoning. They argue that their "plumbing" isn't up to snuff so the toilet paper will clog everything. Ummmm pretty sure you're considered a 1st world nation... your plumbing is fine.

2) Bathrooms are never really clean. and you also have the joy of the squatter toilet... that's right ladies and gentlemen the squatter...

Now to be fair this is the bathroom on the ferry... but I don't believe it's too far off from A LOT  of Korean bathrooms. I also feel I must note that most times there isn't even toilet paper in the bathrooms. Yes... you're right it is a treat going to the bathroom here. Always playing the game of which stall has tp and which one doesn't.

I must also point out that the squatters can be *ahem* a little difficult to use, epsecially if you don't have thighs of steal. And honestly for girls it's close to a nightmare... I mean we are never taught to "aim" it's sit down and go. In Korea it's, squat down, try not to tip over, try to aim right, and not get it all over your pants and the surrounding area. And I'm sure there is some sprayage and spillage (think of really little kids!)... which can also add to the distinct...smell.

3) As for actual buildings smelling that is a direct result of janitorial staff. At our school we have a handy-man, but when it comes to cleaning it's the students. So imagine you teachers out there (i.e. Mom) that your entire school is being cleaned by your students every day after school. The floors, garbage, windows, bathrooms EVERYTHING by the students.  Now I know how capable (and how little I cared) about making things clean when I was a kid... and you can imagine why the school never really quite has that "squeaky clean" feeling. It's more of a grimy, I'm not sure what's touched that surface, why are there cobwebs and spiders in the corner... type of feeling. That and they don't really use vacuums they use short tiny little brooms, open all the windows and basically stir around the dust and dirt.

And honestly I don't think a lot of other building are kept "clean" either. At least not North America, U.S.A. standards clean. There have been many restaraunts Jon and I have encountered and realize that places like that in the states would be out of business in a week! Furniture and couches at some medical offices I've been too have stains and questionable looking material on them.

And yet, we still go to these places, we still eat there and I think we are actually becoming accustomed to it. Which is a little sad. Our standards have really dropped... we've gotten used to that "not so clean" feeling and all the random smells....

except for the permiating urine smell... which is now wafting it's way into the teacher's room because SOMEBODY left the door open... exucse me while I put on my gas mask and sanitize the crap out of my surroundings.

*UPDATE*- I received a comment, but then someone chose to delete it. Although I don't think they realize I get them emailed to I'm going to clear up something which sounded like it offended the person.

I do get that places in the U.S. smell, I know... my parents live on a farm, and we have mules. And I do get that other places don't flush tp. But Korea's excuse for not flushing the tp... isn't a real reason because their plumbing is fine... Trust me, I've been to many cities around the world and all of them have some unique *smelly* places. But considering I live in Korea... I'm choosing to write about it here, for those that don't live here and don't get to experience it. It's just a comic way to look at our lives and things we experience here in Korea-land!


Because I'm done with the half marathon, and because I've been really bored lately I've picked up a new torture device for my body. A new work out and yes, it is called insanity, and yes it is....just that. Apparently I like to take my frustration with boredom out on my body... I don't know if it'll ever forgive me after this endeavor.

We are still working on finishing up P90x, but I knew I would need something new to fill my time and to give me something to work towards. So in spite of the fact that I will now sound like a advertisement we  (read I, and forced Jon) into looking into Insanity... dun dun dun.

I figured to ease us into the transition of insane cardiovascular activity we'd start substituting some P90x workouts with the Insanity ones. Today was round one.

Ok... I thought I was in shape. I mean I just ran a half- marathon for pete's sake. Then I was taken down about 50 pegs, and here I sit shamed and humbled. It... was.... ridiculous. The moves themselves weren't that difficult but it was still a challenge.

This is what awaits you.. fun huh?

So you start the work out and Shaun T. (the main guy) doesn't mess around. The warm up is a work out in itself.  You have already worked up an insane amount of sweat by this time and can't imagine that it can be much worse than that, especially for only 15 minutes. But then, you'd be wrong. And I can't say that it helps much that Shaun is talking about how "worried" and "nervous" he is for the work out. Are you freakin' kiddin' me? Your nervous? Really?

So then you begin. 15 minutes, 15 moves, 1 minute each.  Like I said, the moves themselves.. not to difficult. But man that was the hardest 15 minutes ever! It was never ending. I will say I was happy that all of the people doing the exercises on the video weren't pros or anything. A lot of the time they would sneak off to the side and take a break. That or Shaun would tell them to take a break, and this one chick was NOT happy about it... little bit of an attitude, which was humorous and distracting to watch. But, it was a bit of a relief to not feel like a complete failure for not finishing every single exercise.We came, we kind of conquered, and then we fell into a heap on the floor along with everyone else in the video... including Shaun.

It was a good work out and I definitely felt "worked" afterwards. And as much as I was huffing and puffing and cursing Shaun... I'm actually looking forward to the next time I do the video...

Yes, I am, that insane.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday's Meditation: Blessings

This week I've been in a bit of a funk. A "I don't want to get out of bed, or do anything" kind of funk. I didn't even know what I wanted to eat. I would just sit on the couch, hoping Jon would make the decision for me. I really dislike being in a funk... and I'm pretty sure Jon dislikes it even more.  I'm sure a lot of it is due to the fact that I finished the race, and I'm feeling some post-race blues. And the other part is due to my lack of a social life. While I'm forever grateful that Jon is here with me, I am realizing more and more how much I crave community, and being social. I miss gathering with friends, being part of something bigger than just myself. 

So the past couple days I've been a bit out of sorts, but I'm trying to not focus on the negative of the situation of living in a foreign land. But on the many blessings I have noticed because of this situation.
I am so blessed to have this time with Jon. We are able to really just have time together whenever we want and I know that'll soon be changing when we move back. I'm really trying to focus on how to make the most of this time we've been given.

I'm blessed to have such a fantastic job! The students are fun, I can teach whatever I want, most of the day I can do whatever I want, I have 3 months paid vacation, and my co-teacher is a blast. Truly, I will NEVER have this fantastic of a job again... I need to capitalize on this!

I'm blessed with beauty. All around us is the Korean country side, mountains, the yellow sea. We live in an amazing place and I'm going to be sad when we leave and I'm not surrounded by all of my favorite elements of nature.

I'm blessed with fantastic family who encourages us to do what we do. It's a HUGE blessing to be able to skype and video chat whenever we want. Technology is also a big blessing, I don't know what we'd do without it. I'm realizing how important my family really is, and how much I want to know what's going on in their lives. It's the daily little things that I really enjoy knowing.

I'm blessed with friends who call, send care packages, and are interested in what I'm doing. They are always encouraging and make me feel connected even though I'm thousands of miles away. I appreciate that so much! I don't think I realized how much I rely on them for comfort and laughter, and I miss that so much!

I'm blessed to have been able to travel around Asia. I probably would've never had the chance to do any of the traveling we've done had we not moved here. We've been able to explore Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and hopefully China this fall. If that isn't reason enough to be loving life in Korea I don't know what is.

But most of all I'm blessed to have a loving God and creator. A Father who has planned this from the very beginning and has always known my need for others. I feel that I've been taught so much throughout this whole experience. I've learned how to be on my own, and not rely on others. I've learned that flexibility is good and that things will not usually work out how you planned, but they always turn out good.

It's so easy to focus on things that get us down, or in a funk. And I can complain with the best of them. But it truly feels so much better to focus on the great things that are going on in my life and choosing to see the blessings in disguise.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I have issues.
When I learn a new effect on PS I have to do it, a million times. Lately (i.e. for the past month or so) I haven't been editing any of my photos. They've all be SOCC and I've liked it that way! That and I just haven't felt the pressing need to rip my hair out learning any new tricks.
But today, because it was raining, and we got some cool umbrella pics I thought it'd be fun to try out something new. And now... I've got an addiction. Someone please intervene, it's getting out of control.

We had all of Jon's old co-teachers out on the islands today and we took a few walks in the rain. Here's Sophia, one of our teacher's daughters.

Yes ladies and gentlemen that's right,  I've learned the joys of color selection. It's a slippery slope, once you make one pop of bright color, you just have to see what every other photograph will look like with the same effect.

Someone help... please. Before all of my photos turn b & w with little bursts of color everywhere.

What's your favorite editing tool? I've clearly found mine :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The other night on our way home we were treated to a BEAUTIFUL sunset.

(excuse the smudges... our windshield isn't all that clean)

At random spots the Koreans have these water sprayers up on the side of the road.... it kind of cleans the car and almost makes it worse...

What a fantastic way to end the day.

Be blessed!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The 5 stages of Running

1. Acceptance
2. Slight Panic
3. Runner's High
4. Pain and Agony
5. Sheer will power/ aka stubbornness

1. Acceptance
  The first 3 miles or so of the race I felt good. I had accepted the fact that I had been training for this for 12 weeks. I'd been excited, nervous, anxious etc.  about this moment for so long and here it was! It was finally happening and I really felt peaceful about the whole run.

Here they come! And no... I was nowhere near the beginning :)

Why yes, this is a Korean man dressed in drag.

Here I am still in stage 1.

4 km and I'm feeling good!

2. Slight Panic
 So after I saw Jon I got the sinking feeling that I was, indeed, way far behind everyone else. I started to run a little faster than I'd planned because I got so nervous. I think that's where I went wrong. I should've just kept at my own pace, ran MY race, and forgotten about everything and everyone else.

3. Runner's High
You're darn right this bad boy kicked in around mile 6! I was feelin' Gahooood. Seriously, best I've felt running in a long time. I was feeling strong, confident, and really positive. My legs felt fresh and mentally I was all in. I knew I was going to finish and finish strong. I was even running with probably the cutest little old Korean man... EVER for most of this time. Every time I would maybe get a smidge behind him, he'd turn around and beckon me forward. I never realized how much I enjoyed running with someone else, and in my future runs I will be on the look out.

4. Pain and Agony
  Right around mile 9.5 my runner's high left, and before it walked out the door it stabbed me in the back knee, took my dog, and slashed my tires. I literally just fell over on the side of the road it hurt so badly.  I was thoroughly unimpressed. Especially because not only did it attack my knee, it attacked the knee that NEVER hurts. My right knee I usually have issues with, so what did my runner's high do? It went for the left... It's like I told you... a very fickle relationship with this runner's high deal. The next couple miles would prove to defeat me a little bit. My goal had been to run the whole way, but it just wasn't happening. Walking was proving to be painful so I decided not to push through and I listened to my body. It was a good thing. For the next couple of miles I walked about 3 times for 2-3 minutes each time just to give my knee a little breather.

5. Sheer will power/ Stubbornness
  At around mile 12.5 I realized I need to pick it up and finish strong. I was NOT going to let my knee or my negative mental attitude get in my way. So I started to pass a few people, but that finish line seemed a long ways off. But I didn't give in. And I'm proud to say I even sprinted the last little bit. And just to prove it...

I'm a little behind this guy... and for some reason

I all of the sudden feel the need...

To beat him.

And I did :) He didn't even see it coming. But there was a lot of cheering from the Koreans on the sideline:) I think years of CC running led to this moment. One person to beat... you do it. It's engrained in my muscles and my mind. I can't let that one person get ahead of me (although the 100's before that it was alright).

Overall it was a good day :) It was hot, I was extremely sweaty, my knee gave out, and I had to use the restroom soooo badly... but of course there were none along the way and since we were along a major road I didn't really feel like showing off my waegookin (foreigner) behind to all the Koreans. They stare at me enough without having to add that one in.

Happy to be done! Although I believe my first words to Jon were "I hate running"
I finished the race in 2:14:45. I think it averaged to about 10:15/mile or something around there. 

My goals for the race were 
1. Run under 10:30/mile
2. Run the entire race
3. To not finish last

2 out of 3 goals isn't bad and I feel it was a successful race:) I learned a lot, and am looking forward to another one. In the states and hopefully with a buddy!

There ya go! One girls accomplishment of a 1/2 marathon... 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday's Meditation: Comparisons

Smarter, faster, better, stronger, tougher...

I used all of these words this past weekend, many times while I was running.

I am by nature, a competitive person and a perfectionist all at the same time.

It's a deadly mix.

I don't know if it's just human nature, or if it's just my nature, but I am CONSTANTLY comparing myself to others. Gauging how and what I should be doing. Always trying to figure out the best way to do something. Add this in with my competitive spirit, and it can get crazy real quick. It's not that I necessarily need to be better than someone else I just need to feel that I'm at least on par, that I'm keeping up, not falling behind. This is my biggest fear... falling behind. Getting left in the dust.

Maybe it's the youngest child in me... I've always felt that I'm a "step behind" everyone else, because in reality I am. When your siblings are 5,7, and 8 years older than you, you naturally are behind them in every aspect. You always feel the need to live up to your siblings, what their doing, how they did, and what they've accomplished.

I'm sure it's not healthy, and once I get my degree in  counseling I'm sure I'll spend many years psycho-analyzing my perfectionist ways. But whether it's healthy or not, I do it.

This past Sunday I ran my first half marathon and it was quite the experience. ( I think the fact that it was in Korea and I maybe saw 3 other foreigners added to that "experience").  And while I think I did decently in the race, I let comparisons with others get the best  of me.

I didn't run "my" race. I got panicked when I saw everyone waaaaaaay far ahead of me, I figured I was last, I'd fallen behind, I was the weak one in the herd just waiting for the hyena to take me down. When in reality I wasn't the last person I still felt that I should be doing better! Better... like that other chick ahead of me... ya know the one that is just always at that unreachable place ahead of you? Faster, like the running group of 50 years olds passing me by. Tougher like that old guy I ran with for most of it, who despite the fact looked like he was about to keel over, kept encouraging me to keep up with him and run it all. Instead of comparing myself to all these people what I really needed to do was forget about them, and focus on ME! And while I did this later in the race (because my knee decided to give out and was trying to steal all the attention) I wish I'd done it sooner.

Why do I let myself get caught up in the game of comparing myself? Why do any of us? Are we really not happy being who we are, who we were created to be!? I have to say,  if I were God looking down at my creation, the people I had created to be so specific and unique in their own way I'd get a little p'oed if they were all comparing themselves! We are meant to be different!

 Despite not doing what I think was my best during this race, I think I came away with a life lesson learned.

The only thing I'm ever going to be the best at is being me. No one else can be me, better. Cheesy? yes. Simple and something everyone else probably has figured out? yes. Important for my mental and probably physical being? YES! And while this new sense of self will not lose it's comparing self overnight, it's something that I'd really like to strive and reach towards.

I want to share in others joy instead of wondering if I'm living up to the "expectation" and same standard they are. I want to stop figuring out how to keep up with everyone else, and let myself relax and fully appreciate my own capabilities. I want to enjoy being myself and figuring out all that, that entails. I want to live up to the full potential I was created with by a Creator who specifically made me this way.

So here's my question...
In what areas do you compare yourself to others? Looks, brains, physical capabilities, talents etc.  And In what ways can you fully appreciate who you are?

"When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare and compete, everybody will respect you."
Lao Tzu

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 3: Climb Every Mountain

On the eve of day 2 we finally arrived at our destination, Sokcho/Seoraksan mountain area. Our hotel was a little  The thing with Korea is, the lie. The pictures they show on the internet for hotels is not what you usually get, and once again we were thinking in our American heads "Oh that's what they showed... then of course that's what we'll get. You get in trouble if you lie." Yeah in Korea... you don't get in trouble for lying. Needless to say we were slightly bummed, but it still was decent.

Alright... on to the mountains. We woke up nice and early to a fantastically CLEAR day. Absolutely clear days are really hard to find in Korea. There always seems to be some sort of haze, but today we were blessed with bright blue skies!

This is taken from the car, through the window. So it's got a bit of haze to it, but still look at those mountains!

Walking into the national park (Buddha's Birthday is comin' up so that's what all the lanterns are for)

I know, I know, I'm a creeper... but how stinkin' cute are these kids!?

Those are the rocks we are climbing up to, and climbing up. You see the little crack in the middle... here's the close up... you see those stairs!? Yeah, 808 stairs and we FU-HINALLY made it too the top.

Climbin' on up

Words can't even describe how steep this was. I was literally straight up and down for some of it...a little on the freaky side, and the fact that the railing was loose didn't help.

Surprisingly I didn't have a panic attack... although I think it was more due to the fact that had I had one... I would've died. Amazing preservation skills right there.

The top! It was soooooooo windy! There was a man selling drinks with his little cart and things were just flying off of the cart. Every time the wind picked up we'd immediately duck for fear of being blown off the side, and I truly wish I was exaggerating. But like I've said before... the wind is vindictive and it must've known it hadn't bothered me in a while.

We interrupt these pictures for a brief story.
  So the entire time we'd been following this group of girls up the mountain. They were from another country, but we couldn't quite place it. Later at the top of the mountain we meet these two guys, take their picture, vice versa. And then we get to talking. They are from the Czech Republic, they're telling us how they're here on vacay and have yet to meet other Czechs.  They then offer us some liquor, now we aren't big drinkers, but I start to take swig anyway. Before I do though, I ask what it is and they say it's a special homemade liquor from Czech Rep. So I ask "Is it plum brandy? I have relatives in Slovakia and we would drink Slivovitz." They got extremely excited, and then a voice peeps in a heavy accent. "I'm sorry are you talking about Slivovitz?" It's one of the girls we'd been following. And apparently her and her 3 friends are all from, get this, the Czech Republic! Holy Reunion on top of a mountain batman, those Czechs were freaking out! It was really fun to watch, and more fun that we stayed up there for a good 40 minutes just chatting with them about Korea, Europe, the US... etc.  Just a fun moment and I love meeting people from all over the world!

Alright we are now returning to our regularly programmed schedule...

Ahh the joys of a self timer, me sprinting back and forth, and a large group of Koreans staring at us from the path. yeah... I'm cool, what can I say.

After our hike back down the mountain we were debating between hiking to some waterfalls or taking the cable car up on the other side of the mountains. In the morning the cable car wasn't even running it was so windy (told ya so).

But since we'd just hiked our butts off and stair mastered it up that mountain we opted for the cable car, I am so glad we did!

This is from the cable car, at the bottom you can see the Buddha statue where we started, and you can see the mountain said we got to the top of in the back ground.

Thoroughly enjoying my view at the top. It was INCREDIBLE! I can't even believe it. We were up there forever with our jaws dropped on the ground.

Jon enjoying the view as well.

 A lovely Thai man took this for us. He then introduced us to hi entire family.
Amazing the friendliness you find at the top of mountains.

Again, there are soooooo many more pictures, moments, and memories to share. I do think this gives you a little peak though. Seoraksan (san means mountain in Korean) is my FAVORITE place in Korea... hands down. It was just beautiful!

I know you will all be wondering where we are the next few days (wow look at that humility :) ) But we will be out of internetage... (is that a word?) Because we'll be headed to Busan for the....

HALF MARATHON!!!! yee ha!

you can expect a full recap of the race, and the rest of our trip when we get back!

Have a fantastic weekend!

p.s. if you can name the movie my title is from, you get a high five... and you are my friend for eternity...