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.

Advertisements

the next step or; like a jumper, man!

Pinned Image

Where are his eyes? On the next jump.

I have a really solid vision of what I want my future to be. I know my dream. It’s so close and tangible I can taste the kimchi.

BUT. <<there it is. There is danger. I suffer from COP and ED*. I’m in real danger of over-planning everything, writing down every single step of the way and really getting myself worked up and frustrated.

I heard some really good advice somewhere recently. Whoever it was said that instead of worrying so much and spending all your time making plans, you should focus on the next few steps. I think he said four, but I actually prefer just one. I think for a lot of people, even four is too much at one time, especially if each step is very involved or will take a lot of time.

When you focus solely and intently on just the next step, you leave yourself room for flexibility in the rest of the plan, you don’t worry as much, and that step is more likely to succeed. For me, the next step is clear; go to school and get a BA. That will take up the next two or three years of my life, and before I complete that goal, I shouldn’t worry about what comes after. Maybe six months before I graduate, I can start serious work on the step after that, but it just doesn’t make sense to plan something so far in advance. For one thing, a lot can happen during two years. Maybe I’ll get married. Maybe I’ll decide to move somewhere other than Korea. Anything could change my plans.

I used to be a jumper. As in on a horse. An Equestrian. (For whatever reason, most people don’t get that when I say “jumper.”) I jumped for two or three years, and absolutely loved it. One of the first things you learn in jumping is to only look at the next jump after you’ve cleared the first one. Once you start the course, you look only at the jump you are about to clear. Once your horse’s forefeet come off the ground, you must immediately turn your whole body and focus to the next jump.

I think this is so applicable to planning your future. Taking it one “jump” at a time and focusing your entire being on that next step means that that step is more likely to come out well.

Take advice from an equestrian and just look at one jump at a time.

(I really miss jumping.)

otter.

*COP – Chronic Over-Planner/Planning

ED – Excessive Dreamer/Dreaming

Picture via Pinterest

my current dream

spring4

A sunflower. Which has nothing to do with dreams. 

I think humans must always have a dream. (I DREAMED A DREAM IN TIME GONE BYYYYYY!!!!!) Even when we are in the midst of depressing or insufferable circumstances, I think we will tend to imagine a greater place of happiness. I knew I wouldn’t stay in Taiwan forever, but until around four months ago, I didn’t have a clear picture of where I wanted to go. I had vague, nebulous ideas, but nothing concrete. I fully believe that those who plan where they want to end up are the ones most likely to reach their destination. My dream could change; it has before, but some things have always remained the same. I want to live in Asia; I love Asian culture and I feel that it suits me. I want to work with language; either as a teacher, writer, translator or blogger. I want to create and enjoy a beautiful life.

So below is a specific outline of where I see myself in five years. (Now I can answer that pesky interview question.)

After I finish school and get my BA, I’m planning on moving to Korea and teaching English. Ideally, I’d like to teach high school or middle school. I really love getting people excited about things, and I would love to be able to go more in-depth on topics related to English, America, and Western culture. I wouldn’t really be able to do that with younger students, and I feel that college-level is a bit beyond me…

I want to build my blog and become a pro, perhaps even moving into vlogging once in Korea. I know plenty of people who live off of their blogs, and that’s been a dream of mine for a couple of years now, ever since starting TFA. But I know it takes a while, and so I need a good job in the meantime. (If nothing else, I would need some better and more expensive equipment.)

I want to build a ministry for girls. Once I move to Korea, I want to connect with a local church and start a Bible/English class for older teens. Or perhaps connect with an overseas mission project and help establish clubs where I live.

Remember my other post about living in the future? These things are what keep me floating in Tomorrowland. I have to be careful not to lose myself in dreams of a future in Korea. I have to rein myself in and buckle down to Chinese even though I really prefer Korean. It takes discipline, but I’m learning and getting better at it, and I think this acquisition of self-control will be invaluable in my later life, no matter where I end up.

So for now, I’m keeping all this in mind, but not my whole mind.

Huzzah! SUNFLOWERS! (Which, again, have nothing to do with dreams.)

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

dance1

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.

learning to live here

I’ve been here exactly 48 days; about a month and a half. Learning to live here is a step-by-step process. It doesn’t come in moments of revelations. I do not suddenly think, “Oh, I know how to do this now.” It comes in bits and pieces, like trash blown in a parking lot. I find after a while that I can look back and my experience has grown. I am confident in the small things, like going through the gates at train stations with my tickets and tokens.

It’s amazing, looking back, how strange things were. I will use the metro here as an example. Like the tickets I now know how to purchase and use, my knowledge has slipped into grooves of the world here.

My first week in Taipei, back when we first arrived, is a haze of half-remembered moments. Between the jet-lag and the mind-numbing hours of prepatory lecturing, I don’t recall most of what we did then. I do remember the numerous bus and train rides, however. We went to a lot of places, and most of it was by bus and train.

Coming from the suburbs, I wasn’t used to a public transportation mindset. In many areas of the US, people use the buses and trains or subways all the time, and it would probably be easier for them to make the cross-over. Not so for me. Not only have I never used a bus or train system before, but everything is in Chinese here (well duh, me). It’s not a matter of just watching people and following directions. So that first week, to save our guides having to tell us in minute detail all the ins and outs, we just followed them like puppies, gazing disinterestedly around at the confusion and watching people stare at us, not really understanding anything.

After we came to our school, we started using the bus system here. The BRT takes us into the town every weekend. Luckily, our leader had been here before, so we were able to follow her. After this long, I feel confident enough to be able to use it alone; paying the fare and such. That’s here.

This past week we went to Taipei once more for training. It was our first time since Orientation. And guess what? It was amazing how much more amalgamated I’d become in that short time. After a few trips back and forth on the MRT, I could lead my group around with little hesitation. I bought the tokens for trips. I watched the stops flash by and knew when to get off. True, there were things I couldn’t have figured out; like when to switch trains to Tamsui, or which exit to go out of at each station. But I was confident, and I am not fearful of doing it alone.

I am learning to live here, little by little. I am learning.

otter.

politeness. perfection.

People treat service here differently. Think about America, you Americans. Think about the fast food and shop workers. How do they treat their own work? How many times have we had sloppy food delivered to us haphazardly as fast as humanly possible, all in the name of “fastness” and “business acumen?”

Well, it’s not that way here. I have no idea if they actually have a different attitude about service, or if it’s so ingrained from the years of propriety and polite behavior that it has spilled over into everything else.

Here’s what I mean; whenever we go to a fast food place, be it Starbucks, McDonald’s, or Subway, they make everything just so. It’s not as fast as America because the workers are so meticulous. I mean meticulous in the way they squirt mayonnaise even. At McD’s, they take your order, and if you’re eating in, they set out a tray square to the counter, and set your napkin and receipt on it under a single packet of ketchup. When the food is ready, they set it carefully on the other side of the tray, put your drink in the corner, place your straw perpendicular to it, and then hand it to you with both hands. Perfect. It might seem like a lot of ceremony, but this sort of perfection of presentation is very nice. Oh, and if you are taking your food out, be prepared, because they will put your drink in a bag too. Huh.

We found a Pizza Hut the other day and nearly cried. Of course we had to eat there. We haven’t had real pizza in a month and a half. Withdrawal. Anyway, we went in, ordered, and waited for our food. While we were waiting, I watched them bring out the other orders. I thought it was hilarious and alarmingly amazing that they stacked the boxes so perfectly, wrapped them up on all four sides with ribbon, and tucked your napkins and sauce packets on the side. Gee whiz. Is pizza that special? They obviously think so.

This is the sort of behavior you’ll find everywhere. When you get food at a convenience store, they’ll give you a straw for every drink you buy, and will heat up any food that can be heated.

I’m sure I haven’t seen many of the types of polite service perfection that are here. But let me tell you, coming from a nation where service is, well, nonexistent, it’s really a nice change to come and be treated like a valued customer.

Like I said before though, I don’t know whether it stems from a genuine respect for all consumers or if it’s one more aspect of a more polite culture in general.

otter.