bingo!

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Occasionally I’ll look back over my most motivational posts and say to myself, “Yeah, that’s a fantastic point! I so agree with that! How inspiring!” Aside from being shamelessly self-serving, I love going back to see what I was thinking and feeling in the past. I’m sure most of you have experienced revisiting interests and feeling the desire burn once again. It’s the same for me.

Here are some of my favorite motivational, dream-chasing, kick-in-the-pants posts;

otter.

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my dream again; hello old friend

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When I was in Taiwan, I developed a dream. It was a grand dream, well-cared for, nurtured every day with food, pop culture, music, and language, and thrived in its environment, becoming a large creature full of life and verve.

But the dream shrank as it met American life. The old habits, old ways of thinking stifled it somewhat, and a lack of drive and enthusiasm drained it slowly of life, until it was just the most recent of the dusty things on a shelf in some far way corner of the dreamer’s mind.

I had a dream to go to Korea. It was so strong it consumed me from within, pushing me towards itself with vigor. But it did fade. It’s still there, and it is still my plan – but it’s changed and shrunk a bit. Before, I thought Korea would be my end, my future permanent home. Now, I’m not so sure I want to stay there forever. I love things in America, and my family’s here.

It upset me when the dream faded. I was scared that I had lost a good deal of my passion for life inside it. I couldn’t get excited about anything. But I think it was a symptom of my transition period – without a cause or purpose I was just floating, and my dreams suffered for it.

Fortunately, I started school, joined the Korean Club at my University, and that all changed. Having people who share my dream has breathed new, fresh life into the dusty artifact. I’m eager and excited to move to Korea, and spend a lot of time researching study abroad programs, summer language courses, and teaching programs.

And now that I’m excited about my dream again, I’m more excited about life in general. It feels nice to have that energy back. Once the ball starts rolling, it just keeps going! Huzzah! I’m hoping things like diet and exercise will catch onto the ball too and sort themselves out…but, baby steps, right? Baby steps…

otter.

thumb-twiddling

Preparations for moving out are going well. I have at least gone through all the rubbish in various corners of my room and decided what to keep, toss, or sell. A rather large accomplishment and one that has been niggling vociferously in my noggin for some time. Go me.

I have sent off all of the paperwork on my end, signed what needs to be signed, and we have a definite date for moving in and the enlisted help of some friends.

So, what now? I have a couple weeks left until the actual move – I’m stuck at home waiting and twiddling my thumbs, playing hours of pyramid solitaire and trying to blog. Books and TV only vaguely old my interest, and most of the time I’m just waiting in the time between meals.

But never fear, oh readers of mine who despair over my lethargy; I am not all lost. I have created some lists to help me set down good roots in my new abode. For instance, I have created both a morning and evening routine full of relaxing and/or productive things to help me round out my days. A day well rounded is, well, rounded.

I got the idea from the book One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider. She has 52 projects to help streamline your life, finances, and home. I love the book. Simple and doable. As far as the morning and evening routines go, she argues that having a set of habits that you repeat, as simple as they may be, helps structure your life by providing ‘book-ends.’ I agree.

For a taster, my morning routine;

  • Drink water
  • Make bed
  • Shower/get ready
  • Breakfast outside on the patio (my apartment has one. Huzzah!)
  • Pray/Meditate

And the evening;

  • Make to-do list for next day
  • Bible reading
  • Quick Journal/Brain dump
  • Pick out clothes for next day
  • Read for 10-15 minutes

She has more options and ideas – I just picked the ones I thought would work for me. I tend to be on the computer right before bed, and it makes sleeping difficult, so I want to change that.

I honestly think it will help me, especially as I have added brain dump for my list of evening habits. My brain is one of those that like to poke at me all through the night with interesting anecdotes and ideas. Accursed thing.

I’m also slowly working on a meal and exercise plan, to be started immediately upon arrival at the new place, and school will start soon after, so my schedule will be full and unable to be gotten round. I do love being busy because it saves me the trouble of doing it myself. I sound utterly lazy. For shame.

otter.

my blog journey; we’re still trucking

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(A really old picture from my first blogging days. Yikes.)

If, as Ernest Hemingway so rightly said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” then I am convinced that to blog, all one must do is sit down at a computer and drool.

I read a post recently by my fellow blogger Lani about who we write for; ourselves or an audience. It got me thinking about who I write for. Which got me thinking about why I write, which got me thinking about where I started and where I am now. (Yeah, the long, meandering paths of my brainwaves are fascinating.) I know that to be a really effective lifestyle blogger, you have to write what you want. Obviously the quality of writing counts, but the most important thing is to write about something you care about. This was good advice for essays in high school, and it’s good advice for blogging.

I got started on my blog a few years ago. I think I may have changed names a few times, so you can’t find my very first posts. At that time, I was obsessed with A Beautiful Mess blog. It’s changed in the years too, but it was absolutely visually addicting to me at the time. I don’t remember if I started my blog before I found the site or after, but it definitely made a huge impact on my style and intent. I had no focus at first; it was really just a random web log, full of inanity about silly things. ABM helped me create an intent and purpose for my blog.

I struggled in the next few months, trying to find the balance between writing what I wanted and writing for an audience to attract a readership. Elsie from ABM gave very provocative numbers for her viewers, and she made a heck of a lot of money off of her site. I wanted that too, so I was challenged to find some avenue that wasn’t hackneyed that I could actually write about with any authority.

My posts in those days ran from daily life anecdotes, which were awful, short stories, and random cool stuff I found on the internet. It wasn’t any good, really, and I knew it. I stopped blogging for a while before I came to Taiwan. It was only in the, hmm, maybe four months or so before I moved that I started it up again. This time my focus was on natural living and remedies. I’d gotten on a kick of homeopathy, so my posts were a lot of natural beauty care trials, making water kefir, etc. I think it was at that point that I renamed it ‘The Flying Armchair.’ I sure had a lot of fun doing the natural stuff, but it didn’t really attract many readers.

After knowing I was coming to Taiwan, I revamped the blog and started tailoring it for a travel direction. But even then it wasn’t super successful. I still hadn’t gotten a hang of photo-editing, and I was posting almost every day. I knew that blogs that posted more often did better, but only if they had quality stuff. My stuff was okay, but I would push for content and it showed.

I was still writing to reach an audience, one that shared my interests, but I was way too focused on a crowd. As such, by New Year’s, I was flagging. I had lost interest and was just posting to keep my friends and family updated. Fortunately, that all changed.

In February, and I know the date because I know the post that began my new journey, I started a new focus for my blog. I was tired of writing silly stuff or just posting boring play-by-play narratives of what I did. I was really into living the dream life at the time (still am), and was reading a lot about ways to optimize performance, ways to increase productivity, why loving your job matters, and so on.

So I posted a motivational post, and voila. People seemed to like it. I did more. They liked that too. I started getting more comments and more followers. I’m still small, and that’s okay. I like what I’m doing and what I’m writing. It’s finally become as fun as I had hoped. I like posting my thoughts on life. I didn’t think anyone would care, but it seems they do.

Right now this blog is still a travel lifestyle blog, but it’s changed in the past and it will continue to change with me. It’s on this journey of life alongside me. I can’t predict if people who followed me for my Taiwan adventure will care about my college experience, but I’m optimistic that other people will enjoy it.

So that’s my blogging story. I’ve come a long way, and I like where I’m headed. What’s your story?

otter.

the businessman vs. the fisherman or; losing sight of what really matters

fisherman

A businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

The businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The businessman scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then, señor?” The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.” “Millions, señor? Then what?” The businessman said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

-Author Unknown

So many people fall into this trap. I thought only those who were blind to the peril would be foolish enough to act like the businessman, but yesterday I realized that was wrong. I myself had fallen prey to the desire to expand and make money. I came into blogging for fun. I still blog for fun; it’s what I think about most, it’s what I want to do in my spare time, it’s what I see in my future. I’ve always thought it would be nice to make money from it, but that wasn’t why I started blogging.

Recently I’ve become very obsessed with monetizing my blog; making it a breadwinner for myself so I could have time to do all the things I want to do. It’s funny, because it’s just like the businessman and the fisherman. All the schemes I’m reading about or researching involve a lot of time and effort invested in things I don’t care to do, and all for what? Making more money. So I can do what? Blog more, right? If I had all the free time in the world, what would actually change? Sure, I could do a few things I can’t now, maybe travel more, but for the most part, my life would be the same. I’d blog a lot, read a lot, learn languages and eat out a lot. Those are the things I love to do. The environment might change, but my habits won’t.

I have to remember to quit falling into the pit of feeling like I’m missing out without money. I need to quit looking at those mind-boggling success stories and feel like I’m doing something wrong if I’m not the same. I need to remember what I enjoy doing and do more of it. That’s the mark of a successful life. Being with people you love, taking siestas, and doing what you enjoy.

I gotta make my inner businessman shut up and listen to the fisherman. Seems like fishermen always get it right, eh?

otter.

living NOW

Photo Oct 19, 11 58 10 PM

                Always walking forward? Sometimes it’s better to be still.

As a Chronic Over-Planner and dreamer, I struggle with living in the future. While my body is stuck in the present, my mind is far afield in the Wonderland of Tomorrow. Psh. That’s a poetic way of stating a real problem. Let me elaborate. I came to Taiwan in August; an amazing realization of a lifelong dream to travel and live abroad. For the year or so preceding this dream, almost all my waking moments were spent planning or dreaming about life here.

All well and good – moving to another country does take planning and careful consideration. But here’s the kicker; now that I’m here, instead of buckling down and enjoying my current life, I’m already on to the next big thing, waiting and planning and dreaming my next move. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME??? Oh, I know exactly what’s wrong, and it happens to a lot of people. Life isn’t lived in continuous spurts of adventure and awesomeness. Those most blissful of moments when we are so happy we don’t think of the time, when we’re really stuck in the now, happen infrequently. Most of life is lived in the everyday, small moments when nothing happens. My life in Taiwan isn’t all that different from life at home. Sure, the environment has changed, but I’m still on the computer an awful lot, I still read a lot of the same kinds of books, I even eat the same now that I’ve figured out cafeteria food doesn’t like me, and my schedule isn’t that strange now. I’ve settled into life here, and it’s powerfully easy to let myself fantasize about future adventures in places where I’m sure it’ll be more frequently exciting.

That’s a delusion and dangerous. Once I realized what I was doing all the time, it scared me that I won’t ever be able to live in the Now. I Googled, I went on blogs, I read some books…it helped me at least to realize I had a problem, and that it was legitimate.

So, if you struggle with this too, what can we do? There’s a few things I’ve found that helped me. First off, realizing you have a problem will help you in overcoming it. (<<So not original.) If you can catch yourself fantasizing, you can stop and say, “Ah, there I go again,” and actively try and stop. I also created a gratefulness list, which helps keep me focused on what I have now that is awesome. I’ll include it at the bottom of this post.

Another really good tip is to find what you enjoy and do more of it. In “Living the 80/20 Way,” author Richard Koch makes the argument that 80% of our enjoyment in life comes from 20% of what we do. Makes sense, when you stop and think. What activities make you lose track of time? What things do you get really lost in? When were you last happiest? For me, I have a pretty short list. Eating out with good friends is on it. Blogging and working on my blog is another thing. What are yours? What can you include more of in your daily life that will help you settle into the moment?

This subject has the potential to fill a book, so I’ll save some related topics for later posts. But if you struggle with living always in the future, take a moment to think and realize it’s a problem, and figure out what you can do to stop.

My gratefulness list:

  • I’m alive.
  • I’m saved.
  • I’m living my dream of travel in Taiwan.
  • I have good health.
  • I’m with my best friend.
  • My work is fairly easy and enjoyable (cute kids!).
  • I have opportunities to learn and grow through hardships.
  • I’m surrounded by language.
  • I’m making enough money to save.

What would be on yours?

otter.

(Photo Credit – R.N.)

just do it

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Going somewhere? AT 150MPH! HUZZAH!

How many of you are like me? You are major dreamers, major planners, majors in figuring out how to live and do better without doing it. If you are a Chronic Over-Planner, raise your hand. Even in reading all these fantastic books about change, dream jobs, dream lives, more with less, and so on, I am still just waiting, not doing! I’m reading about a better life, not having one. I’m reading about how I should just sit and write, but I’m not sitting and writing. I’m reading and my brain is going, “Yay! THIS is how I should do it. At last, a solution!” But guess what? There’s always another book to read. There are lots of books out there now about how to get off your tush, out of your bad job, out of the drudgery of life and into something marvelous that will be an adventure every minute of the day! </sarcasm> Okay, so maybe I’m being a little harsh. I mean, these books are fantastic. The advice is good. But for the over-planners and chin-in-the-palm dreamers like me, I can spend the next two weeks reading all these books and won’t have accomplished much of anything.

It takes doing. Like Nike, man! “Just do it!” If I had to sum up all the advice in all these books, that would be it. Most of us know what we need to do. For us over-planners and dreamers, we’ve planned and dreamed everything about everything. Even if we don’t have all the steps laid out yet, we have the first one. You do, right? If I want to be a blogger, what do I need to do? Blog. Write. Post this article. Simple. I can worry about just exactly how awesome my blog will look when I get that new software, how I need to work on my photography skills until they’re stellar, how I need to have a full two-month plan before I type a single thing, but in the end, the first step is to write.

So here’s me, writing. I did it, Nike!

otter.