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!

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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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.

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 26 Home

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This is a picture of my house and home. We moved to Texas from Virginia seven summers ago to take advantage of the housing market. We were able to buy more than twice the house for less money than in the DC area. Although I miss my hometown in Virginia and being in the DC area, I’ve always wanted a nice big house where I can raise my kids and then they can return when they are home from college. Now that my oldest is finished with her sophomore year of college, that dream has already come true. She says she appreciates that she can come home and have her old bedroom. Moving into this house literally changed our lives overnight. We were all able to spread out; each kid got their own room and walk-in closet. We went from one living room to four living rooms. I love coming home to our house and hope to be there for a long, long time!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 7 Feet

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I travelled from Texas to DC on Friday, the day of the ‘feet’ prompt.  I finally took this picture once we got to the hotel and sat down for a glass of wine and a caesar salad with grilled salmon. It felt awesome to sit down after a long day of packing, finalizing things at home, and then travelling to the East Coast.  I was grateful we made it safely and happy to be off the plane.  As you can see, I am wearing sneakers. I wear sneakers all the time because I had two ankle surgeries, and I also have to wear orthotics in my shoes. My surgeon told me not to wear heels anymore.  Whenever I dress up, I have to find a comfortable pair of flat sandals that work for both fashion and function.  I actually don’t miss wearing heels at all. It is not comfortable to wear heels, and they are bad for your feet!

We went to DC for a friend’s wedding. One of my husband’s good friends from law school finally tied the knot.  It was wonderful to be there even though it was a quick trip.  I grew up in the DC area, so it felt great to be home again.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

31 Day Music Challenge: Day 23 A Song that You Want to Play at Your Wedding

Pachelbel's Canon in D - Free Sheet Music for ...

Pachelbel’s Canon in D – Free Sheet Music for Piano (Photo credit: Cantorion.org)

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Pachelbel’s Canon in D” was one of the songs played at my wedding. It’s so pretty. Such a classic song.  We had all classical music playing during our wedding soundtrack, and this song was definitely one of the highlights.  Check out this version too – this guy rocks!

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See the whole music challenge list at DeBie Hive.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

31 Day Music Challenge: Day 6 A Song that Reminds You of Somewhere

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“Sacrifice” by Alaine reminds me of St. John, USVI.  It was the last day of our vacation there in 2007 that I first heard this song on the radio during our ride down the mountain to the ferry.  I thought it was Madonna at first, a reggae version.  Close your eyes and listen, it sounds like Madonna.  The melody was catchy, and I tapped my feet on the dashboard as I looked out the window taking in the lush jungle, rolling mountains, and beautiful blue water in the distance.  When love songs come on the radio, I like to joke with my husband and dedicate them to him. I listened to the lyrics and looked up “Sacrifice” online.  I found it right away and downloaded the reggae gold album from iTunes with it.  That was six years ago, and still when I hear this song, I’m right back in that jeep coming down the mountains in St. John.

Reef Bay and Virgin Islands National Park (St....

Reef Bay and Virgin Islands National Park (St. John, USVI) as seen from road on Cocoloba Point (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See the whole music challenge list at DeBie Hive.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

31 Day Music Challenge: Day 5 A Song that Reminds You of Someone

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“Every long lost dream led me to where you are.

Others who broke my heart,

they are like northern stars

pointing me on my way

into your loving arms.

This much I know is true,

that god blessed the broken road

that led me straight to you.” 

Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts reminds me of my husband.  Love these lyrics about the long and winding road of life and love.  Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing because everything I did led me exactly to where I am now.  Even at the time if I thought it was a tough experience or the end of a road or relationship, I didn’t know where I would be now. Sometimes it’s true that when one door closes another one opens.

We met in 1998 after both having failed first marriages. I had just moved to Reno, NV (long story). I was thirty years old, a new teacher with my master’s degree, a single mom with a five-year old daughter.  He was a  25-year-old college student (started college at 24 years old) working at the gym.  We were in different places in our lives, but we met at the gym, and we fell in love.  We got married a year later and had two children together.  He finished his education and became a lawyer.  I’m so thankful that our paths crossed and hopeful for our future together.

The Broken Road

The Broken Road (Photo credit: aaronmcintyre)

See the whole music challenge list at DeBie Hive.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!