the big 200

thebig200

Guess what? I just hit 200 posts on TFA! ShaZAM! That’s a lot, and considering I don’t post every day (or even every week sometimes…ahem) that’s a long time. It means a lot, and when I saw the notification, I had to stop and think a minute. 200 posts. What does that signify, if anything? Where have I come from? Where am I going? It’s also kind of a coincidence that I also recently hit 200 followers. That’s not a big number by internet standards, but that’s a really crowded virtual room of people all (reading) listening to me. Kind of blows my mind.

This milestone sparked a train of thought. My history as a blogger has been pretty casual. If you want to read my blog journey, go here. I’ve always dreamed about making my blog my job, but it wasn’t ever very realistic in my head.

Now that I’m going somewhere and have been at this for a while, I can see how I can make it better. Yes, I’m still basically just a dinky lifestyle thought-spilling, stream-of-consciousness writing, mind-drooling blogger. But experience begets wisdom, and I’ve been watching the environment for a while now. I have big plans for when I get to Korea. Before then, even. You notice I’m expanding my talent base to include drawing – expect more new things. It’ll be a slow process. I’m going to self-host at some point, get my own domain name, spice things up a bit. I haven’t really ever had a goal before. I like sharing my life and thoughts, but it wasn’t for any specific purpose. I didn’t have an aim.

I’m working on one now. It’s like starting a business. You need a vision, and then the business plan. I’m still working on defining the vision, but you can be sure I’ll share it when it’s hashed out. And I want it to be big. Something beyond “Sharing about life in Asia from a white girl’s perspective.” That’s been done. It needs to be unique. After all, I’M A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE.

So happy 200th to me! May the next 200 be just as awesome. (And you guys, all you dear readers. You guys are awesome. Mwah.)

otter.

what is my element?

teaching2

Yes, I look silly. No, I don’t care.

Sir Ken Robinson, in his book, The Element, discusses the idea of this elusive concept as the intersection of natural talents and passions. He says that it is at this intersection that you can be the best version of yourself, be most successful and be happiest. He gives various examples of people who have discovered their Element and flourished, from dancers to musicians to cartoonists. I won’t give away the meat of the book – borrow it from a library if you’re interested, but it was a great push for me to search for my Element.

It took me a while to figure out what mine is, or are, since I think everyone really has several.

But I think I’ve narrowed it down.

  • Creativity/New Ideas – I can think of a million and one ideas on any given day. Now, following through on those ideas is another matter. I’m a starter, not a finisher.
  • Enthusiasm/Humor – I get incredibly invested in my ideas, or anything I care about, and can be the most enthusiastic and energetic person there is. I’m also told I’m very funny. I do know that I love funny things and will always be the one trying to lighten things up.
  • Writing/Language – I once took one of those types of intelligence tests and scored strongest on the linguistic side. Which makes sense, seeing as that is my major. I love words, grammar, writing, reading, blogging, and anything word related.

Perhaps because I think I’ve already discovered my dream job of teaching, I can see how well my strengths complement that discipline. Think about it; when teaching, I get to do something different every day or week, I get to create enthusiasm and use humor (best way to teach kids, after all), and I get to work with language and writing as an ESL teacher. Perfect! I hate doing the same thing over and over again for a long time, so a job where I have to come up with new ideas constantly and utilize them in a fun way sounds like heaven!

Finding how my talents and the things I enjoy work together has been a huge blessing. I know so many people who are working at jobs they hate, never getting enough time to spend on what they enjoy. What a drag! I looked at their lives and then looked at how my life could go; picket fence and suburbs and all, and it felt like I was being suffocated. But looking at my life in Korea as an elementary ESL teacher and blogger, well, looks like a field of daises with unicorns and fluffy cats and milk tea trees and clouds that rain coffee. Or something like that. All the best things in the world.

This book was enormously helpful. Yes, I probably could have figured all this out on my own, but having a guide and being able to read accounts of other people who’ve discovered their dreams just puts the wind right in my sails. I get so inspired to find inspiration. I also appreciate how Sir Robinson emphasizes the lack of higher education most of these people had. I’ve always believed you don’t need a degree to be happy or successful. If only the Korean education system agreed with me.

otter.

ehh…

Hey world! Guess what this nerdy chick just got? That’s right, (If you actually guessed, you get like ten bucks. Tops.) it’s a Wacom Intuos Tablet!!! For those of you less nerdy than me, the Intuos is a drawing tablet. It’s awessssome. But insanely weird to use for someone used to pen and paper. Of course I’ve heard that, but…

Oh whatever. This post isn’t about what I think of the Intuos. That will come later. I’ve been messing with it for about an hour and this is my first good(ish) drawing. Honestly, when I started, it was like I was three again.

This is how I feel about all this;

ehhh

see you after some better drawings. *le wink

otter.

living with purpose

gangnam

In many of the motivational books I read, I see the same advice; make choices everyday that move you towards your goal. This rule applies if you’re learning a language, trying to instill a character trait, or wanting to get fit.

First you define your goal or result, then break it down into smaller steps. After that, you work every day on those steps, and every thought, word and deed needs to be aligned to your purpose.

My purpose, or goal of the moment, is to live in Korea. I can break it down into smaller steps like this;

  • be reasonably fluent in Korean
  • play ukulele (I want to use this in my lessons, so it’s relevant)
  • have an amazing blog while in Korea
  • eat organically and exercise

Each of these steps I can also break into smaller pieces, and each of those into smaller, and so on ad infinitum.

What I love about this advice is that you literally have to make every minute of every day filled with whatever your goal is. I can’t have negative thoughts about learning a language, I can’t have low self-confidence, I can’t skimp on my blogging, and I can’t let myself get lazy, because all those are building habits that are stalling my goal. Instead, I need to constantly be thinking of Korean, I need to be working and planning my blog, I need to practice ukulele every day and try to implement small health improvements where I can.

This also means I can’t fill up my head and time with superfluous fluff that detracts from my goal. So even if I’m watching TV, I ought to make sure it’s Korean or be practicing uke at the same time.

I think that this can get exhausting though – maybe some people would be able to keep their goal fanatically in their minds, but I need some downtime occasionally where I really let my mind as well as body relax. Of course, I tend to do this too much, so who am I to advise it? >.>

Here are my small things that I’m doing to move me towards my goal;

  • practice Korean with my friends when I see them
  • listen to a Korean lesson three times a week
  • practice uke 30min a day
  • carry a blog journal/have intense sessions of writing 2 or 3 posts at a time
  • workout 3 times a week/park farther away and walk more

I also need to have a better attitude towards school, since that is something that is making my life in Korea possible. Ah, school, what a complicated relationship we have.

otter.

adventures in cooking–짜장면,떡볶이, 파전

Recently a few of my Korean friends came over to my apartment to cook Korean food. I’ve been wanting to learn for a while so I could make it myself, and it was a fantastically awesome time of friendship and so, so much eating. I wanted to kill myself a little from the massive amounts of food I consumed.

But that aside, the food was pretty darn awesome. Granted, the coconut jjajangmyeon was a little odd…but it was still good.

So what did we make?

20140329_141557First up was tteokkbokki, a traditional Korean snack that roughly consists of rice cakes in spicy sauce. You can usually find fish cake in there as well as onion.

 

This turned out well, although we did forget to take out the anchovies used as flavoring…so we had some friends in our food.

 

20140329_145847

Next up was the jjajangmyeon, or black bean noodles. It sounds and looks terrible but tastes fantastic (when made well). It’s actually a Korean Chinese food, meaning that it’s their version of Chinese food, but it’s just Korean. I’m not sure this exists in China. But it’s a really popular delivery item, and if you’ve ever watched the KDrama Coffee Prince, you may remember the disgusting scene of Go Eun Chan and Hwang Min Yeop mixing all manner of unmentionable things in it.

I was trying to be healthy though, and used coconut oil, which gave it an odd flavor. It wasn’t bad, but next time I’ll use something different and hope it turns out better.

20140329_155705Last up was the Pajeon, and though we were already too full, we dutifully ate. It was so delicious, in fact, I ate until the near death I mentioned above. Pajeon is a kind of pancake made with vegetables, in this case, green onions and white onions. Pa is green onion in Korean, so pajeon is “green onion pancake,” basically. You can also make kimchijeon with kimchi or anything, I suppose. Very versatile.

All the recipes I found on Maangchi.com – this site is incredible. Any Korean food you can think of is on there.

It was actually quite amusing when I told my Korean friends I wanted to make this. I think Tteokkbeokki and Pajeon are homemade quite a lot, but from their comments, making Jjajanmyeon was a foreign concept. A bit like trying to make restaurant hamburgers or pizza or something all from scratch.

But aside from the unfortunate coconut, it was a huge success! Korean cooking GO!

otter.

blog planning

It’s happening again. I can see in my mind how I want my future blog to look; I have the layout, the logo, the posts, the life behind it, everything all ready to go. The problem…is doing something about it.

Alright fellow bloggers, do you do this too? Do you sit and plan and sketch and draw diagrams of blog posts but put off actually writing the darn things? I mean, if I’m resorting to writing about not writing like I am at this moment…well, shoot.

But I love planning. I may even like the planning better than the blogging. I should be a professional Blog Planner, and have a movie made about me. But let’s go with action rather than rom-com.

I digress. Lately I’ve been planning my Korea blog. Once the Flying Armchair flies to Korea, things will change. I’ll have some new topics and a new focus, and hopefully a lot more material to share (school isn’t that interesting). That’s what I meant about planning the lifestyle behind the blog. Right now I’m not a good uke player, I can’t draw the things I want well, I can’t sing, I don’t have a balcony garden, I don’t homestead, I don’t use natural products and cook organically, I don’t tweak traditional recipes, I’m not teaching, I don’t go to indie concerts…the list goes on. All those things are things I want to do once I get to 한국.

But what I am doing is making lots of lists with colored markers that detail the kind of life I want to lead. Now, living it? That’s another matter.

otter.

stop, awesometime!

2014-03-30 14.58.22

Hey yous alls! Just a quick update since it’s been a while…

I got a ukulele! Obviously. And a haircut! And a sore finger!

But seriously, lately it’s been school, sick, school again, and now a ukulele. Ha, one bright spot. I have some posts on the back burner but they’re very intense and academic; all about education and the fate of the next generation. Dun dun dun…

But I need to organize my thoughts better and pare them down from rambling essays to actual post length.

And as some of you have undoubtedly noticed, the blog has undergone some changes. I’ll be redoing it a lot in the near future, so it may look a little wonky from time to time. I’m attempting to move it all to the self-hosting from WordPress.org, but that’s very involved. CSS, *sigh.

In the meantime, who wants to hear me play a song I made up about doing homework? No one? Thank goodness.

otter.