2014 in Review and My Hopes for 2015

New Year’s Eve 2014 is here. It’s the time to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the next. For years, I’ve been working on accepting myself exactly the way I am and living each day in the moment, free of regrets from the past and worries about the future. This kind of thinking has led to great changes in my life, and I intend to further develop myself one day at a time.

What a year it’s been! There’s been a wide spectrum of emotions and experiences. Lots of pain and lots of growth occurred this past year. I got divorced after 14 years of marriage. It was hard. It was painful. It was complicated. There was a loss of a fairy tale and a loss of my family structure. I lost fifty percent of my time with my kids. We sold our big, beautiful house (that we moved to Texas for) and moved into rentals, a house for me and an apartment for him. While everything looked great from the outside, my ex and I had some serious personal problems that ultimately we were not able to resolve. We agreed to put the children first and to co-parent in peace. We agreed not to drag each other through the mud and to keep our personal business between us. While I lost half the time with my kids, he gained the other fifty percent of the time, and the kids are adjusting to their new lives well. They enjoy the one on one time they get with him now. And I think that while they might prefer we still be together, they see that life can be peaceful and happy even with the changes. It was a painful experience, but I’ve been brave and have learned a lot from it about being true to myself and taking care of myself. In the new year, I intend to continue using the time to myself for self-care. When I don’t have the kids, I sleep, do yoga, go to the gym, play guitar, do math etc. I use the time to take care of myself and continue growing in all my interests and hobbies. I miss the children terribly, but I know they are in good hands, and I am thankful their father wants to be an active part of their lives.

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For years, I’ve wanted to take college math classes because nobody ever made me take them when I was in school. I didn’t know I liked math until I became a teacher and started specializing in teaching math. So, this year I took advantage of the opportunity since I had time (being a stay home mom) and finally took Trigonometry and Calculus 1. I got an A in Trigonometry, so my professor let me skip Pre-Calculus. I spent the spring semester taking Trig and the fall semester taking Calculus 1. I struggled with Calculus and went from a C to an F to a B overall. I learned so much about what it feels like to struggle as a student and thankfully found an excellent tutor who supported my struggles and helped to make everything make sense. At one point, I considered dropping the class, but I’m not a quitter so I stuck with it. I learned first-hand that hard works pays off and I was thrilled to finish successfully and check that class off my bucket list! In the next year, my goal is to get back to teaching full-time. I would really like to teach high school math this time. I have my master’s degree in education. I’m certified to teach all subjects 4-8 and math 8-12, and although my eight years of classroom experience was in middle school, I’ve been tutoring high school students since 2001. I’ve been working as a substitute teacher this fall and have really enjoyed subbing in the high schools. I prefer the older students and the more advanced math curricula. I quit my job to be a stay home mom years ago, and it’s difficult to get back into a full-time position, but this will be my main goal for 2015.

I took an amazing trip to Aruba for a yoga retreat, another bucket list item. Click here to read about my amazing week with yoga girl Rachel Brathen in paradise. I’ve also been participating in a 365 day handstand challenge and intend to finish it in 2015. I am on handstand number 259!

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My yoga retreat group

 

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My kids are continuing to grow and thrive, and I absolutely love being their mom. I’m cherishing every stage of their lives even though it’s tough sometimes knowing that I don’t have little kids anymore. Those days are over, but they are growing into amazing older children and my oldest is officially an adult now, 21 years old and graduating from college this year. She’s majoring in Business Marketing and Management and plans to move back to the Dallas area to work after graduation. Her laugh is infectious; her sense of humor is hilarious. She’s an avid dog lover and has been helping me take care of my dogs some this year. In fact, she might be taking my Boston Terrier back to school with her for a few months this spring. She’s been working part-time at a hair salon and getting good grades. I’m so proud of her! In 2015, I look forward to attending her graduation, her 22nd birthday in May, and seeing how her adult life unfolds when she moves back to Dallas and starts working.

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My middle child is now 14, a high school freshman on the drill team at school and a competitive company dancer at a local dance studio. Watching her dance is one of my favorite things to do. She specializes in contemporary dance, and sometimes it’s so beautiful it brings me to tears with pride. We spent a week in Panama City Beach, FL in June for national competition, and it was a really fun vacation together. She just got her braces off and has a brand new smile. She is an excellent student and is well liked by her friends. I’m learning to give her more space to be a teenager and love it when she has her friends over to our house. In 2015, I look forward to another season of dance competitions and conventions, a week in Florida for national competition, and her 15th birthday in April.

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My youngest child, my son, is now ten years old and a vibrant, intelligent fourth grader who loves science and thrives on challenge. He loves reading books and playing games and doing all kinds of sporty things with me like bike riding, rock climbing at the gym, swimming, roller skating, and playing games of horse. I love his sense of adventure and getting out to be active with him. We have a great time. He is also really loving and gives lots of hugs and kisses, one of my favorite things about him. He is a deep thinker and asks all kinds of questions about life, nature, and the universe. I know he is destined for great things in the future and in 2015, I look forward to watching him play baseball, spending a week in Florida together, and his birthday in November.

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This year, I had the kids for Thanksgiving, my ex had them for the first week of Christmas, and I have them for the second week of Christmas vacation. In 2015, I look forward to having them for spring break and then for the first week of Christmas vacation. I am super proud of all three of them and want the best for them in the upcoming year with good health and lots of happiness.

This year, I ended a friendship with someone I thought was my best friend in town. She betrayed me, backstabbed me, lied to me, then called me ugly names when I confronted her. All I can control is me, so I ended it, and I’m really glad she is out of my life now as I can see it was really a one-way friendship for years. She is not really worth any more time or space on my blog, so I will move forward to the good news: I gained a new best friend in town this year. She’s another dance mom who has kids close in age to my youngest two kids, and she lives nearby. She’s been a great friend to me this year, someone who has a huge heart and does anything to help other people. She’s been there for me whenever I’ve needed a friend, and I truly enjoy her company! She’s funny, caring, and has a genuine personality. We’ve had lots of great times together this year. I look forward to many more good times in 2015 and hope to continue to develop my other girl-friendships with get togethers and outings.

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I fell in love again this year with a man from Virginia whom I’ve known since we were twelve. His dad caught us kissing when we were in middle school, and after that we were always dating other people but hung out together as friends all the time. He was in a near fatal accident in high school, and we lost touch after he switched to another school and then I graduated and left for college. The girl who was driving the car that night died, and I’ve always been so thankful that he survived. He has always been a precious life in my opinion. We reconnected at a funeral for a friend in 2007 and have been in touch ever since. He went to Aruba with me, and we’ve been traveling back and forth visiting each other in Virginia and Texas as often as we can. It’s been amazing to find love with someone with whom I also have a deep friendship and a long history. I’m super grateful the timing is right for us to be a couple and have enjoyed every single moment we’ve spent together so far. In 2015, I look forward to his February visit to Texas (to celebrate our birthdays – we were born nine days apart) and hope we can visit each other many, many more times also. Since we are in a long distance relationship, and we both have children to raise, people often ask us how we are going to work things out so we can be in the same place. I don’t know the answer to that question yet, and I’m not going to worry about it either. It’s working for both of us right now, and I trust that things will unfold exactly the way they should. I would rather have him in my life to talk and text with every day and see periodically than not at all. So, I am grateful, humble, and hopeful for the future.

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I intend to spend 2015 really enjoying every day to its fullest, loving people in my life, and taking good care of myself. When negative things happen, I will look for the positive lessons, and I will accept challenges as opportunities to grow. I will continue to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the many blessings in my life and face each day with courage, an open mind, and a positive attitude.

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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Tattoo You

Do you have tattoos? When did you get them? Why did you get them?

I waited until I was in my forties to get my first tattoo because I wanted to be sure of any artwork I chose to place permanently on my body. My first tattoo was of my (now ex) husband’s name with Korean symbols for love and family next to it. Likewise, he got the same Korean symbols and my name in the middle. We thought this was a good idea at the time.

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A year later I got a yin/yang with all four of our kids’ names all around it. We both had older kids from previous relationships and we had two together. There was balance.

About a year after that I got a heart with wings and a halo on my upper back. I did that with my father and some friends in mind whom I’ve lost over the years. It’s a way of reminding myself that love is eternal.

Now that I’m divorced, I decided to cover up my ex’s name. He’s removing mine from his body, but I decided to leave his there and to grow on top of it much like I am doing in real life. He’s still a part of me and my life but plays a much different role now in the background. On top of all of that, a new me is growing and my new relationship is growing. Something old is evolving into something new and beautiful. Just like my new tattoo on top if the old one.

My artist went back over his name with white first and then redid the symbols so they would be just as black as my new piece. It’s ironic that in getting rid of the old tattoo, I had it completely traced over again essentially. It’s like the universe saying to me, ‘look you’re starting over but don’t forget where you came from.’

I had the outline done first and just went back today for the colors and shading. I’m super happy with my new piece!

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

21Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 12: Get Shit Done! #yogagirlchallenge

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This is an easy day for me as getting shit done is my nature. I do a great job of it on a regular basis. So today’s list wasn’t all that long thankfully (getting back to Aruba is on my list!). This is a picture of my son’s new shoes and lunchbox. School starts tomorrow, and my two kids are ready. My oldest, a senior in college, is also ready!

I am so good at getting shit done that over the years I’ve learned to chill out and be ok with it, not feeling guilty that I should be doing something or calling myself names if I feel like being lazy for a change. It’s one thing to be able to multi-task and be productive, but it’s also valuable to learn to relax and just be without judgement or guilt. I enjoy both ends of the spectrum and strive to find the balance in between.

I’ve been through a lot of changes this year and feel proud of all the shit I’ve gotten done. Besides going through a divorce, I managed to get an A in Trigonometry, tutor math privately, sell and move out of my house, move into a rental, and continue being a happy healthy mom to my kids. Not to mention I’ve gotten about 180 handstands done for the #handstand365 challenge. When I put my mind to something I do it!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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Reverse Bucket List

Here’s a list of 40 things I did by age 40 (a reverse bucket list):

1. Played Suzuki violin at Wolf Trap, VA and the Kennedy center in DC.
2. Met President Carter.
3. Met Jewel.
4. Got my masters degree (4.0 GPA).
5. Had three babies.
6. Married twice. (Divorced once).
7. completed a 95 day semester on the Rockies.
8. Assisted a midwife at approximately thirty home-births.
9. Got arrested for hanging off the Triboro bridge in NYC to protest ocean dumping for Greenpeace.
10. Edited and self-published my dad’s book for him after he died.
11. Travelled to Europe (Rome, Florence, Siena, Venice, Paris, Amsterdam).
12. Travelled to Hawaii (Kauai, Maui, Hawaii).
13. Got licensed to teach all subjects 4-8 and math 8-12.
14. Started my own math tutoring business.
15. Worked as a classroom teacher for eight years.
16. Went rock climbing all over (VA, WV, WY, CO, AZ).
17. Had sixteen surgeries.
18. Spent two winters studying and teaching in Yellowstone National Park.
19. Kayaked around Isla Espiritu Santo in Baja. (Spent a month there).
20. Played college soccer freshman and sophomore years.
21. Spent a month above tree line in Colorado learning about alpine ecology.
22. Saw the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band many times.
23. Spent a month living on a hippie commune in Northern California.
24. Started writing a blog.
25. Studied French for six years.
26. Learned to play the guitar.
27. Wrote my first guitar solo.
28. Learned how to do yoga.
29. Lived outdoors in Colorado for a year and half.
30. Was featured in a newspaper for a school project.
31. Wrote nineteen episodes of fiction.
32. Survived a fall/slide all the way down a frozen ski run on Mt Rose, NV.
33. Did gymnastics for eight years.
34. Went on a first date to Paris, France.
35. Drove across the country a few times.
36. Saw over sixty live concerts.
37. Hung a banner from a building for Greenpeace in Louisiana (and didn’t get arrested).
38. Grew up without a father.
39. Completed a sprint distance triathlon.
40. Went to Disneyland and Disneyworld.

What does your reverse bucket list look like?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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I love DC

You can take Susanne out of Virginia, but you can’t take Virginia out of Susanne.  I do love traveling, discovering different areas, but it’s nice to go home sometimes too.  Time and time again, I’ve left for various reasons and returned to the DC area for various reasons.

Grew up in northern Virginia from 1972-1986.

Lived in Roanoke and Lexington my first two years of college, 1986-1988. Lived in Virginia Beach summer 1987.  Worked for Greenpeace in DC summer and fall 1988.

Moved to Wyoming to complete Spring Semester in the Rockies (WY, CO, UT) 1989.  Click here to read about it.

Moved away to Colorado in 1989 (Boulder, Telluride, Durango).  Click here to read more about life in beautiful places.

Finished college in Prescott, Arizona 1993.

Moved back to Virginia with my oldest daughter and went through a divorce 1994.

Worked for Greenpeace in DC 1994-1996.

Got my master’s degree 1998.

Moved away to Nevada 1998-2001. Taught sixth grade.  Remarried 1999. Had another daughter 2000 and son 2004.

Moved back 2001-2004 so my husband could attend law school while I taught sixth grade gifted/talented.  Click here to read more about that.

Moved away to Texas in 2006, visited Virginia in 2008 for a high school anniversary reunion, for a short weekend wedding this summer, and again last week to help my mom through a single mastectomy.

Cancer brought me home this time.  It changes everything and puts everything into perspective.  Cancer runs in my family.  My father had kidney cancer and then liver cancer. He died from bleeding complications during surgery.  It was a surprise to all of us because we knew about the previous kidney cancer but did not know that it had spread to his liver.  Knowing my mom was facing it alone, I did what I could to help.

When I go back to visit, it feels like home. The city, the suburbs, the culture and history are all a part of who I’ve become. Landing and taking off over the monuments and seeing Washington, DC by air reminds me of so many parts of my past there. It’s where I grew up, and it’s still intertwined with my life in Texas. Back home in Texas where I am comfortable with my family and it’s another beautiful sunny day, I appreciate both places for what they offer and know that Virginia/DC will always be my home. Texas is my second home, a place where we can spread out and my kids can grow up and call home. This is where I’m growing roots after transplanting from the east coast.

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This is a picture of the house where I grew up in Northern Virginia. My mom bought it and we moved in during 1972. She is still there today. There used to be a big pine tree in front of the left side of the house. I used to climb it as a child and sit high up in the branches, sticky with sap, looking over the neighborhood at roof tops and trees. Those moments were times I would steal away, sit back, and observe life around me. I remember doing roundoff-backhandsprings all over the front and back yards and wonder today how I did it when I see how sloped the front yard was. There were birthdays, homecomings, proms, Halloweens and Christmases in this house. Years upon years of memories, both good and bad reside here. What a trip to go back as an adult and re-experience it from another perspective.

This is truly the “house that built me.”

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This is where I went to take a walk while my mom saw her lawyer to get her will in place. It’s a familiar park near my house where I used to go all the time when I lived there. It was a heavy day emotionally, writing her advanced medical directive and discussing her wishes just in case anything went wrong in surgery. I lost my dad to complications from his surgery for liver cancer and didn’t know he was having surgery or that he had liver cancer, so this experience with my mom was the exact opposite. I did get to contemplate in advance what would happen if she didn’t come out of surgery ok.

Driving into Lake Accotink Park in Virginia, the road meanders through a secluded forest in the middle of suburbia. Tall trees line the road, and the speed limit slows to a pace where it’s impossible not to appreciate the surroundings. During any season, this is a beautiful drive into a pretty piece of nature where you’d least expect it. It’s a man-made reservoir, but it is a beautiful lake with trails around it. It’s a perfect park for picnics, bike rides, runs along the trail, boating, and parties at the facilities. As a kid, I used to ride my bike all around the park and had fun rope-swinging into the muddy water with friends. I loved getting out in nature. As an adult, I ran the dirt trail around the lake and rode single track mountain bike trails off the beaten path.  One of my favorite mountain biking memories is from riding single track at Accotink in the rain.  The trail was really muddy, and I got soaking wet but it was a fantastic time!

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I took a long walk and did some yoga in a secluded flat spot by the lake. Afterwards, I laid down on a bench for a while to let the sun’s rays caress my skin while my body relaxed. Lying in the sun is one of my favorite things to do; plus vitamin d is good for us (the sun is the only natural source of vitamin d).  The fall air was crisp, and the sun was warm, warmer than I expected and warmer that day than the rest of the week. I opened my eyes, looked up and saw this beautiful view of a tree with spectacular fall colors. The striking orange against the clear blue sky reflected a calm yet vibrant spirit within. I truly loved taking in my surroundings at that moment. Pale tree trunks reflected the loveliness of the place with initials inscribed surrounded in hearts with arrows. It was obviously a place where many others sat to enjoy the moment.

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In the final moments before my flight back to Texas, this was my view outside the airplane window. It was a beautiful morning at the end of a special week. My mom survived breast cancer surgery and was in good hands with friends, family, and a home health nurse. I was able to support her through a difficult experience. We mended fences and forgave each other for the past, and I focused on a zen mindset of being calm.

Dream Board 2013

Dream Board 2013

I also got a chance to reconnect with old friends and family members I haven’t seen in years. I appreciated my time there despite the circumstances. I felt reconnected with the place I’ve left so many times.

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US Capitol Building as we began our ascent out of Reagan National Airport.

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Washington Monument, Tidal Basin, and Jefferson Memorial

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Washington Monument, National Mall, and US Capitol Building

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Lincoln Memorial

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Going home

Today, I am flying home to Washington, DC after moving away about seven years ago. I went back for a quick weekend wedding in June and we went back as a family in 2008. It’s been a long time away, and as I’m on the flight I feel both anticipation and dread for the week that lies ahead. This isn’t a so called fun trip; my mom has breast cancer again after fifteen years and is having a single mastectomy on Wednesday. We’ve had a strained relationship and a very rocky road especially the past few years, but cancer changed everything for me. It’s a reason to forgive, let go of past difficulties, and offer unconditional love and support. She lives alone, and I feel it is the right thing to do to go there and help her as she goes through this unfortunate process. As a secondary focus and added bonus, I do look forward to reconnecting with friends and family in the area whom I haven’t seen in years.

It is odd and a little disconcerting to leave behind my husband, kids, and pets for so long, but I am thankful for their support and confident they can take care of everything for me while I’m gone. I know day to day that although I don’t work outside of the home, my job is busy, challenging, and stressful at times, I laughed this morning about how long the list of things I usually do and manage really is. All the tasks I take care of may seem like low level jobs, but they hold our family and household together. My husband works long hours and I’m not sure how focused he is on all my little jobs, so I gave him a long list or reminders this morning:

Please remember to:
1. Feed, walk twice a day, care for the dogs, and don’t let them run away.
2. Feed the fish as much as they will eat in five minutes twice a day. (I cleaned both fish tanks yesterday so they would be ok this week. Last time I went away he forgot to feed my fish).
3. Mail a bill on Monday that I already put in a stamped envelope.
4. Water the hydrangea shrubs every day. Water indoor plants when they are dry.
5. Make sure dogs are in the fenced run when outside because the puppy eats my plants and digs holes.
6. Take our son to Taekwondo Monday and for his belt test Friday(got his uniform ready for him last night).
7. Attend our son’s musical at school Thursday.
8. Take and pick up our daughter to and from school and to and from dance classes (m-Th &Sat). And make sure her dance bag is packed and that she put it in the car. She also needs something for dinner since she is there until 9 or 9:30 at night.
9. Make sure kids take their medications and vitamins every day.
10. Make sure kids have lunches or lunch money.
11. Take our daughter to the orthodontist Wednesday.
12. Take our son for allergy shots on Friday. Don’t forget to bring the epi-pen.
13. Pay any bills that come in the mail.
14. Check our son’s folder for checks from other parents in his class and file them away with the ones I’ve collected so far. (I’m class mom and am in charge of the class parties).
15. Trash goes out Saturday and Wednesday. Recycling goes out Wednesday.
16. Remind kids daily to do homework and chores.
17. Change the laundry often because it will stink if it stays in the washer too long.
18. Our son has a guitar lesson and baseball end of season party today.

He is going to have fun being both mom and dad this week and getting a closer look at my daily life as a stay home mom. I’m thankful for his help and support as well as for his mom because she will also be helping with the kids this week. I know they are in good hands.

As for me, the trip will be a practice in zen and a trip down memory lane. My mom still lives in the same house that I grew up in. We moved there in 1972. Of course, there are many memories from the past and I will choose to focus on the positive ones. I used to climb a big pine tree in the front yard and sit up high looking at the surroundings. I ran wild outside and rode bikes with friends until it got dark. We played kickball in the culdesac below us.

Life was so different back then.

As for the zen part, I’m determined to keep my inner peace and strength regardless of what goes on around me.

Thankfully, I got to see two great friends when I landed at the airport! I arrived from Texas right before another friend was departing for Florida. We stopped and visited over some chardonnay. Talk about serendipity! I love it when things work out like that.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

25 Things About Me

I’m flashing back today, looking back over some of the old notes I wrote on Facebook before I started blogging.  Found this list of 25 things about me and got a kick out of re-reading it and thought I would share with updates where necessary.

1.  Like my friend Eve who tagged me in this note, I have a genius IQ, but I knew it when I was a kid and resented the pressure to be an overachiever.
2.  I like beans….and I make a yummy bean salad.  Whatever I cook if I can throw in some beans I will. (Update-I no longer eat beans!  I’ve been following a mostly paleo diet since August (no grains, no dairy, no beans/legumes, no refined salt, sugars, or oils). 
3. I like to cook, and I am obsessed with eating healthy food like lean meats, lots of fruits and veggies, and whole grains. (Update-no more whole grains!  Was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity (click here to read the entry I wrote about it) in May and have been off most grains (except a little rice since August).
4.  I always wanted to be a wife and mother and never really knew what career to pursue when I was growing up.  Click here to read why.
5.  Because of #4, I went to three colleges, took two years off (one to work for GP and do a NOLS semester (click here to read about it) and the other to work as a cook and live in Telluride, CO), and changed my major twice (#1 French #2 Philosphy/Religion #3 Environmental Studies)….didn’t graduate until I was 25.

Telluride, CO from a gondola.

Telluride, CO from a gondola. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6.  My first ‘career’ was an environmental activist for Greenpeace in Washington DC.

Washington DC

Washington DC (Photo credit: eGuide Travel)

7.  I got my master’s degree in Education and became a teacher after my GP job got moved to Amsterdam;  I was a single mom so I didn’t want to go.
8.  When I was a teacher, I discovered a passion for math, and now that I am a stay home mom I love tutoring math because I can help students learn to love math.  Click here to read about my love affair with math.

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9.  I love to sleep and will sleep until noon if nobody wakes me up.  I also love being pampered like getting massages.
10.  I met my husband, Joe, at the gym when he was working there and going to school and I was his 12:30 appointment for personal training.  We started running together and the rest is history.  Even though he is a lawyer now, we still go to the gym every weekend and love exercising together.

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11.  I am lactose intolerant (like most Asian Americans).
12.  I am an extrovert and love to get together with friends, pot-luck style, with good food, drinks and conversation.
13. When I go out, my drink of choice is gin and tonic (Bombay Sapphire) and my favorite shots are Jaegermeister and Tequila. (Update-no more gin or jaegermeister due to food allergies.  The only liquor I drink is Patron silver tequila).
14.  I drink wine (chardonnay) when I’m cooking and with dinner.
15. I am kind of a control freak and always am trying to avert danger and/or accidents, especially with my kids. Like we don’t let them play outside in the front yard without an adult and don’t even get me started on how hard it is to have a 15 yr. old who is about to date and drive etc. (Update-since I wrote this post, I wrote nineteen episodes of fiction. I realized this theme came up in my fiction writing. Click here to read my fiction episodes).
16.  I like heights and exposure, hence my affinity for climbing trees as a kid, my love for rock climbing and high mountains where the earth meets the sky.  When I stand on a cliff or overlook I get the urge to fly like a bird, but of course I don’t have wings so maybe I should take up hang gliding or something?

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Split Rock, WY 1989

17.  On the flip side, I am claustrophobic and I would really hate to go scuba diving or caving or anything like that.
18.  I am a big flirt, always have been, in fact I won ‘biggest flirt’ in 8th grade with Bill Schraa who ironically was also voted ‘best couple’ with his girlfriend.
19.  When I go shopping I am all about the sales and hardly ever will pay retail price.
20.  I manage all the money in our household and am good about paying our bills on time or early.
21. I correct people when they use bad grammar (I know that is annoying, but I can’t help it).
22.  When I am going through a hard time, I make music mixes full of songs that reflect whatever it is that’s going on.  Before CD‘s I made mixed tapes.
23.  I always try to complement people and tell them what I like about them (something I learned as a teacher when conferencing with parents).  There is always something nice you can say, no matter who it is.
24.  I spend alot of time on the computer.
25.  I give my kids ‘mommy homework’ if they don’t have any from school and make them do reading, writing, and math all summer (for about an hour a day, it’s not so bad) to keep them challenged.  Click here to read about summer learning.

Goodbye Tom Brady

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Tom Brady was a good dog.  We got him with his sister in March 2008 from a breeder in Sherman, Texas.  They were siblings.  We picked Marley (right) first because of her distinctive look with one white eye.  Then we picked Tom Brady (left) because of his classic Boston Terrier markings.  He was handsome and sweet.

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He learned how to sit, and that’s about it. He never wanted to lie down on command. I’d have to force him to lie down.  He and Marley spent every waking moment together and slept curled up next to each other.

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His collar used to irritate his neck. He had pink eczema like spots on his neck, so sometimes we would take off his collar to let his skin breathe.  One day we put him and Marley outside to eat some fresh beef bones from the grocery store, and we never saw him again.20131018-160430.jpg

He had gotten out of our fence before, but we got him back the same day from some neighbors.  We have an email group for our homeowners’ association, and in the past that has been very effective.

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Obviously, I should have learned my lesson the last time they got out of the fence.  We got them both back. They had both been skunked, so I took them for baths and took this picture when we got home.  I thought he didn’t need a microchip.  I was wrong.  Now he’s gone, and it’s been almost six weeks. I don’t think we will ever see him again.  I want to believe someone picked him up and loved him so much they gave him a new home.  But, I know that might not have happened too.  He couldn’t survive this long out on his own.  Nobody has turned him into a shelter. Every day I still check, get my hopes up, then get disappointed all over again.  He’s gone. I have to accept it. He’s not coming back.

Thanks for five fun years together Tom Brady.  We all love you and miss you and are so sorry we took off your collar. We are so sorry there was a crack in our fence and now we will never see you again.  We love you and miss you.  Goodbye Tom Brady.  We won’t forget you.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Happiness Survey

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1.  Are you happy when you wake up in the morning? Why or why not?  Usually no, I am not happy when I wake up in the morning because I need a lot of sleep and rarely get it.  I am usually grumpy because I am still tired and my joints are stiff and achy in the mornings.  I found out I had sleep apnea and had the UPPP surgery to carve out the back of my throat and make it easier to breathe at night. After retesting, I still have mild sleep apnea, although I was much worse before the surgery.  Regardless, I still need around ten hours of sleep to feel good.

2.  If you could transport to the happiest place in the world, where would you be?  Hawaii, specifically Kaui or Maui.  They are both beautiful islands with beautiful beaches, and I am at my best when I’m at the beach.  I went to Hawaii twice in 1999 and 2000 and visited Hawaii, Maui, and Kaui.  Loved the tropical beaches, snorkeling, and swimming.

3.  What activity or hobby do you feel the happiest doing?  Probably yoga. It’s a close call with swimming, but I’m going to go with yoga.  It is relaxing and helps manage my pain, and it’s also strengthening. Yoga teaches me to slow down and pay attention to my breath and the present moment. It teaches me how to be calm and peaceful.  I do a little yoga every single day, and I go to yoga classes a few times a week.

4.  Is your happiness dependent on other people or yourself?  I am learning to depend on myself for happiness. Depending on other people for happiness is a recipe for disappointment.  Happiness is really a mindset of positivity and gratefulness.  No matter how bad things get, it helps to look at the world through humble, grateful eyes.

5.  Do you think happiness is luck or is it a practiced mindset?  I think happiness is a practiced mindset. Maybe when we are children, happiness might be based on luck, but when we are adults with a conscious choice over our attitudes, happiness becomes a mindset.  Without practice, it doesn’t work.  We don’t have to be happy all the time, but knowing HOW to be happy regardless of circumstances is a skill that needs practice.  Every day, we have a choice of how we will look at the world and our lives.  I think to choose a happy mindset means to wake up each day humble and grateful for everything we have.  I think choosing a happy mindset is something that takes work.

6.  What is something small that always makes you happy?  Snuggling.  I love hugging. I love affection.  Snuggling with my husband or kids always makes me happy, even though it’s a little thing.

7.  What is something about you that has never changed since you were little?  My eyes have never changed since I was little.  I’m half Korean and used to get teased about being asian when I was a kid.  I even asked my mom if I could have the surgery to change my eyes.  Thankfully, she said no.  Today, I am proud of my asian heritage and love that all three of my kids got my asian eyes.

8.  What would your younger self tell your current self to do today?  Play. Climb trees. Ride bikes. Swim.  Have fun.  Hang out with your friends. It will all be ok.

9. Is fear of failure holding you back from a certain goal?  Possibly, yes. I want to take Calculus since I never had to take it in college.  I took College Algebra in 2007 and still need to take Trigonometry and Precalculus before I can take Calculus.  I met a friend when I took College Algebra, and he died in a tragic accident.  It made me not want to go back to community college. I don’t want to be out of my peer group again and risk making those relationships.  It just hurts too much.  I’ve studied Trigonometry online at khanacademy.org , but I haven’t completed the class for credit yet.

10.  At age 100, what would be one thing you would regret not doing/trying?  I think I would regret it if I never went to Korea to try to find my family there.  My dad was born and raised there, and his parents died before I ever met them.  My father took my brother there without me when I was in my 20s and I was so hurt by that. I wonder if I will ever meet my Korean family.  I’d like to try, but I don’t know if it will ever happen.

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions!  Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out.

Sunset on Kauai

Sunset on Kauai (Photo credit: Robert Gourley)

Pets

I’m a dog person because I am terribly allergic to cats and have been an animal lover for as long as I can remember. I had several pets as a child and have owned at least one dog since 1990. Pets bring life, love, and companionship into life. While some people consider their pets part of their family or as ‘furbabies’ the reality is that they are animals, not humans, and usually want to get away from us. That’s why we have to have cages and fences and tags and collars and leashes. Given the opportunity, they run away and sometimes find new families. I can’t help but wonder what goes through their minds. They truly do become a part of the family and defend their owners and children, sensing emotions, danger, and ill will. Yet, from day-to-day, it’s as if we are keeping them prisoner. Anytime the door is left open, or the gate is accidentally not closed, or if there is any gap in the fence, they will disappear. Nice people may return the pets, but there also is no rule they have to. They can capture the animal and begin keeping it prisoner until it makes its next escape.

One of my two dogs has been missing since Sunday 9/15/13, and it’s been a rough week looking for him and adjusting to life with one dog again. We got sibling Boston Terriers in the spring of 2008. Marley (the female) and Tom Brady (the male) had not been separated since birth…until now.

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Marley (left) and Tom Brady (right) in Coppell, TX 2013

The female was picked up on a busy street near construction by the owners of a local grooming salon. They took good care of her, including giving her a bath, hung up signs and kept her until I picked her up. They said there was no sign of her brother.

Thanks to a weak spot in our fence, they both got out, and they were both not wearing collars because my daughter likes to take them off to pet them etc. Also, Tom Brady had a little rash on his neck from his collar. They got out in April, and I thought of getting them microchipped then, but they were both found in the neighborhood and returned the same day. I got new collars and tags and thought that would be enough. Now that Tom Brady has been missing for so long, I think I will take Marley in to be microchipped!

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I planted two new hydrangea bushes in an open spot under some trees in our backyard garden.  Disturbing the soil and watering it must have caused the fence to break. 

See the crack?

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Here is a closer view from the other side. I had no idea they would push it open enough to get out!

 

We miss our boy and really hope to get him back, but after six days I think somebody must have picked him up and is keeping him because they like him. If they were going to turn him into a shelter, they have had all week to do it. Today, we are on our way out-of-town to visit our college daughter, and I have a sad feeling inside as we get farther and farther away from home knowing he is missing. It rained last night and is still raining today, and the ink on the flyers I put up this week is running and faded now.

He was such a sweet boy, very shy and absolutely LOVED attention. He would tuck his ears back and hold completely still for us while we held him like a little baby. He learned how to sit and would simply refuse to lie down upon command. Despite being a male, he let his sister dominate him. She learned commands faster and listened better than he did. She wouldn’t let him eat or drink when she was around, so I would separate them to make sure he was getting enough. The two dogs used to follow me around the house and lie down right next to each other in whatever room I stopped in. If was playing guitar, they would lie down and listen at my feet. If I worked on the computer, they would lie down next to me, sometimes curled together heads to paws like a little yin yang. They shared a crate, and I used to find them cuddled up together every morning. I’m thankful now that I spent some time videoing them playing and roughhousing in the back yard. I thought at the time it was kind of silly to videotape dogs playing, but I didn’t realize he would run away and we would never see him again. He loved rolling on his back and curving left and right as he massaged his little spine on the carpet beneath him. He snored when he slept and when being held. I’m slightly allergic to dogs and get a rash on my arms and hands if I pet them, so I used to wrap him up like a little burrito in a towel and hold him on my lap. He would cock his head back with his ears back and snore in my arms.

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Tom Brady, our Boston Terrier who has been missing since 9/15/13

 

 

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Marley chilling next to me on the carpet in our house 2013

My first inclination was to get another dog, but I have done that before and it turned out to be a bad idea. After discussing it with my husband, I think I will focus on Marley as the ‘only’ dog and give her even more attention. She has been acting differently without her brother this week. I took her out and got her a new bed and have been spending more time one on one with her this week.

Since none of the shelters have Tom Brady, I am assuming someone has him and wants to keep him. All I can do is hope he loves his new family and they love him too. I hope he will get more one on one attention in a new home, if that is how it has to be. We do have coyotes and bobcats in our area, so it’s also possible he met his demise, but I prefer to think someone has him. I will keep looking until I have a reason to stop.

I got my first dog when I was in college in Arizona in 1989. Kelsey was half Rottweiler, half wolf. She looked like a Rottweiler but had slightly longer hair and a longer snout. I spent the summer in Colorado with my boyfriend, and she had a litter of puppies with a Siberian Husky the next fall. We gave most of them to our friends but kept two females (Jordan and Freya) and a male (Orion). I took the following year off school and lived in Colorado with Kelsey and her three pups.

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Kelsey as a puppy in Prescott, AZ  1990

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Kelsey as a puppy in Prescott, AZ 1990

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Kelsey and my ex-boyfriend in Telluride, CO 1991

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Jordan at my first wedding in Prescott, AZ 1994

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Jordan in Lake Tahoe, NV 1998

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Jordan swimming in a lake to fetch a stick NV 1998

On my twenty-third birthday in 1991, my boyfriend accidentally ran over Freya, and she died in my arms. Heartbroken over the loss, we rushed out and got two more wolf-hybrid puppies (this time they were 96%) We went for one new puppy and loved two of them, so we got them both. Lupus was a golden tan color with yellow eyes. She was beautiful and wild. Grey Cloud was a black wolf, with kind of grey coloring and yellow eyes. She was timid and gentle, a real sweetheart. They were both very smart and loved our lifestyle, living outdoors and taking daily hikes through the mountains. With our five dogs, it felt like we were one big family, a pack. While I’m still not sure exactly what drove me to get and keep five dogs, but at the time it meant the world to me. I liked the lifestyle too and preferred it over one in a house with no pets. I lived outdoors like many other young people there did for about a year and a half, sometimes in my VW camper bus, sometimes in a tent, sometimes in a shack in the woods, and in a teepee for the second summer I was there. It was a completely different lifestyle, one where I felt wild and free too, like I was one with nature.

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Jordan in Telluride, CO 1991

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Jordan (left) and Freya (right) in Telluride, CO 1990

This is the only picture of Freya I have, and it’s also the only picture of me when I grew dreadlocks.

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Jordan and her sister, Suki in Telluride, CO 1991

My boyfriend and I broke up, and I took Kelsey, and Jordan. He took Lupus, Grey Cloud, and Orion.
Grey Cloud ended up running away, never to be seen again, and sadly Lupus died from accidental hanging at an animal shelter when they put her in a cage with her leash on. Orion went on to live a long, healthy life in Colorado with my ex boyfriend. I think he said Orion was sixteen when he died.

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Jordan (left) playing with her littermates Suki (middle) and (Orion) in Telluride, CO 1991

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Grey Cloud as a puppy in Telluride, CO 1991

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Grey Cloud in Prescott, AZ 1992

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Lupus as a puppy in Telluride, CO 1991

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Lupus in Prescott, AZ 1992

I had to get Kelsey put to sleep when she was about three years old because she bit a few people. It was heartbreaking because she was very sweet and gentle with me, but she would jump and bite people for no reason with no warning. After it happened a few times, I didn’t really have a choice. It was awful having to do that. She is buried in Vermont in the yard of my ex-husband’s parents’ house. She is in a beautiful forest in a beautiful place, and I will always remember her.

Then it was me and Jordan for a while. She was the perfect dog, smart, well behaved, friendly, loyal. She loved taking walks off the leash and would alternate lagging behind me and running ahead of me on the trails. I never worried about losing her because I felt a mental connection with her like I just knew she would catch up or wait for me. And she always did. When catching up, she would run full speed, pass me and continue bounding down the path with her curly tail bobbing in delight. She loved water and never missed a chance to take a dip. She got along with other dogs, and she loved to play in the snow. She used to pounce like a cat when I would throw a snowball for her to catch. She’d bury her nose into the snow looking for it and then pop her head up with a funny expression, snowflakes on her nose. She loved chasing us as we went sledding down hills in Nevada and Virginia. She lived until almost fourteen years of age. I was pregnant with my youngest son (who is now 8) on her last day. She had been very sick and weak and slept outside on our back patio area because she kept having to go to the bathroom or throw up. When I went out there that morning, she looked lifeless in the garden, lying flat on top of the day lilies. I took her to the vet knowing it would be the last trip. The kids said goodbye to her before we left, and sure enough, I came home with her collar and leash but not with her. Again, I had to make that terrible decision to put her to sleep. She was getting so old, and there would be extensive testings and surgeries with unknown outcomes. We had a few moments together to say goodbye. I thanked her for all her love over the years and told her what an awesome dog she was. I told her how much I loved her and didn’t want to see her in pain. It was seriously like saying goodbye to my best friend. Then she was gone, just like that (June 2004). I keep her ashes in a special sealed wooden box from the vet and her collar next to my bed still.

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Me, my oldest daughter, and Jordan in Northern California 1998

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Jordan and another doggie friend running in the snow Lake Tahoe, NV 1998

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Jordan and her buddy, Sunbear AZ 1992

We didn’t get another dog until we moved to Texas in August 2006. With a newborn son in the family, there was a lot to keep me busy, and my heart also needed some time to heal from losing Jordan. My husband liked boxers, so I went out and got a boxer puppy. We named her Honey. We learned the hard way that boxers are called boxers because they stand up on their hind feet and ‘box.’ She was strong and fast and kept knocking over my two young kids. We realized we made a mistake and should have done some research on the breed first. We found a family in Austin looking to adopt a boxer and gave her away. They knew what they were in for, and they spent a lot of time outdoors hunting and camping. They had a large lot where she could run too. Honey was happy, and we started over with the Boston Terriers in 2008.

Five years later, we are back to one dog, and now I also have two fish tanks. Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about them running away. I set up a ten gallon tropical fish tank in the kitchen, and we also have a thirty gallon tank in our master bathroom with two goldfish (for good luck/feng shui). They live their entire lives in the tank and eat and secrete waste into their aqueous environment. Nature is amazing that way, that the chemistry works out to support life in a mini-ecosystem like a fish tank!

Between dogs and fish and children, I find that I spend much of my time caring for others who depend on me. It’s always been part of my nature to care for others. And I’m learning slowly to enjoy the time we do have together and learn to accept it when the time comes to an end. Much like human relationships, having animals is a lesson in living, loving, and letting go. 

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!