Category Archives: relationships

Good Bye Taiwan – 2 years of fun, learning, teaching, and growing Part 1

Good Bye Taiwan – 2 years of fun, learning, teaching, and growing Part 1

I’ve now been stateside for a few days. I am exhausted and happy.

Thanks to good friends, I have been picked up from airports, dropped off at airports, and given a place to shower, sleep, and catch up; even a toothbrush!

So as an ode to Taiwan here is a picture fest of some great moments and places in Taiwan.

Part 1 is dedicated to my Taiwan family; William, Wendy, Tim (Kent), Jordan, Grandma, and all the Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins that made my stay so incredible. Without them I wouldn’t have gone to Taiwan. I wouldn’t have learned about this wonderful country. I wouldn’t have seen as much. I wouldn’t have enjoyed as much. They welcomed me in and I am very grateful!

Arriving and first days

My first sightings of traffic, the amazing water displays, and the 101 building

My first understanding of just how much people in Taiwan eat at one time! I learned my first phrase, how to say “I’m full”

Awesome structures, gates, and Morning Markets

First hikes, nature, and beautiful sculptures

First visit to Wulai, crafting, day markets and learning about aboriginal culture, super awesome!

Night markets, more food, and family fun

My first New Year in Taiwan

More coming soon!


Accountability in Education

Accountability in Education

*though I am writing this mostly about what I’ve noticed in Taiwan, Americans, take note, because the Taiwanese are trying to emulate American educational systems and we are not setting a very good example.


Yes, we need more accountability. The problem is that the accountability is being firmly placed in one lap rather than shared amongst all those responsible for a child’s education.

Firstly, and in my estimation most importantly, the accountability for a child’s education has been taken away from the child themselves. It is such a gigantic disservice to a child to not hold them accountable for their own education.

Why should they care if they are educated if they feel no responsibility for it? Why should they feel pride in their education if they barely do anything to receive it?

Some politicians and directors/ board members of educational institutions etc., would contend that there should be more private schools, ask more money for tuitions, create more charter schools, or anything else to charge parents for their child’s education.

HOWEVER, that is NOT putting responsibility on the students. That’s putting it on their parent’s wallets. It creates a crevasse between students whose parents have the financial ability and those who don’t.

How is it fair to a child when the education they are able to receive is dependent on the financial ability of their parents?

They didn’t choose their parent’s lives. They have no say in the financial situation of their parents. It is devastatingly unfair to strengthen or curtail a child’s pursuit of knowledge based on the circumstances of their home. It always has been. It always will be.

All children have potential to be good, upstanding, contributing members of society. They learn how to do that as they grow up. Children spend the majority of their maturing lives in school. So the schools are teaching them, directly and indirectly what kind of society member they can become. If they are taught that they deserve less or deserve more because of their parent’s situations, then they become adult members of society that both directly and indirectly blame their life choices on those of their parents and other adults in their lives, instead of taking responsibility for their own behaviors and actions.

Taking away the child’s accountability for their education harms EVERYONE.

Children are no longer being asked why their grades are failing, teachers are. Why would a child care about their grades if they know that the teacher will be penalized for it and not them?

Instead of trying to learn what is being said in English, they wait for the Chinese translation. They don’t have to earn their grade. They know they will get an 80% or higher even if they sit there and stare at me blankly.

Instead of accountability, they’re being given undue amounts of power.

Kids are by nature manipulative little guys. They have to be. It’s natural. That’s how they get taken care of when they can’t take care of themselves. OK, but they unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) use that in every situation until they mature enough.

Secondly, the school’s Administration and the Department of Education are not accepting any accountability for the programs that are clearly designed to fail students. Schools have become businesses instead of Institutions for education.

Institution: noun: an organization, establishment, foundation, society, or the like, devoted to the promotion of a particular cause or program, especially one of a public, educational, or charitable character.

Schools are fundamentally necessary to pass on and continue the educational advances of mankind. They are instruments of the proverbial “Village” to nurture and develop our young into well-functioning, creative, and contributing members of society.

They are NOT supposed to be money making machines that churn out masses of simple minded, cookie-cutter, semi-educated sheeple for the other money making machines to feed off of.


Thirdly, parents are more concerned about the grades the child gets than whether or not they are actually learning.

This sends me back to the 80% or higher no matter what the child does. Schools will not allow teachers to give grades based on actual learning. They have to be based on what the parents will “accept”.

It can be argued that an 80% is considered a very low grade to Taiwanese students and parents, but it’s an unrealistic consideration universally.

There’s very little accountability from the parents on ensuring that their child is doing their part in learning. They don’t want the students to have a lot of homework. They won’t “accept” homework they don’t understand.

The way the word ‘accept’ is used here in Taiwan is a whole other blog…… oi.

They want to see mastery without the work involved. The ‘work’ is supposed to be done in class, by the teacher. If they don’t know what is happening in class, they assume nothing is. They can’t “accept” that the child could be at fault. And it cannot be pointed out that the child might be having difficulty learning due to a disability. Disabilities are entirely ignored.

Unlike American schools where disabilities are integrated but still given extra support, here in Taiwan the kids are all thrown together and the class has to be toned as close to the least able as possible.

I’m all for equal educational and social opportunities, but the extra support is necessary to fulfill that. I taught a First Grade class with a wonderful young boy that was disabled. The class loved him being there. But he had a support tech with him to help him as needed. She was invaluable in both his education and that of all the other students. The class moved along at a consistent pace because she was dedicated to his needs and made sure he got the extra instruction or practice needed to keep up. Everyone benefitted.

His disabilities were not ignored, they were observed. His needs were not overlooked, they were given consideration. It’s a big difference.

And again, these kids, who could really excel with proper support, are underserved because they are still given that 80% without any help to have earned it.

Finally, we get to teachers. Sadly, too many foreign teachers here are just in it for the paycheck. Not all, so don’t get your knickers in a twist, but too many.

It’s far too easy to not care if the children are educated because no one else does. . It is sadly far too true here.

We don’t dedicate ourselves to ensuring there is understanding, practice and mastery. We have a pace we have to keep. We have students of all levels in the same class. We have unrealistic expectations.

Many, many of us put in a lot. But we are also here short-term and it shows up in our efforts.

We could really make a change for the better if we chose to, but we don’t. Yes, I am including me in all this. I have not made myself as accountable for my student’s education this year as I should have. I listened to all the people at the school instead of sticking to what I know would work.

With all the accountability for a child’s education being placed in the laps of teachers, many teachers are shrugging it off and justifying it through blaming the system, which shrugs it off as cultural differences.

Unfortunately, the ones who are being harmed by all of us adults not being accountable or responsible are the children we are supposed to be helping.

So what do we do?

We start holding the children accountable. They need real consequences and real rewards for taking responsibility for their own education.

We need to help them discover how this education we are providing will impact their future, and how their role in learning impacts what they learn.

We need to hold the Administrations and the Department of Education accountable for the amount of time students have to learn, for the quality of materials, and for understanding that language is inexplicably tied to culture and though we, as adults, need to respect the culture we are choosing to live in, they, as educators, need to respect that teaching English cannot be done using Taiwanese methods.

And we need to take accountability for educating these children, for preparing them for their future. We are their glimpse and we need to make it a good one.


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The picture post I’ve been promising

The picture post I’ve been promising

The Best Saturday Fundraiser I’ve ever been to!

Great Job Minke Mari!!!

Check out her page


Chubby’s in Jhubei, eat there.



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Thank you Mama

Thank you Mama

I got to talk to my mama today!

Jean Dominguez you’re the best!  Thank you for teaching me so much.  Thank you for being such a great example.

You’ve shown me how to let go and move on.  You’ve shown me how to find the good in people.  You’ve shown me how to meet and be with people for the person they are with and to me, and not their past or mine.

You’ve shown me how strong I am.  You’ve shown me how to face life as it really is.  You’ve shown me how to go after my dreams.

Through your example, hopefully my children, my friends, and the people I meet along the way will also benefit from your shining example.

YOU are proof that the world needs people to shine and not shrink, embrace themselves for the people they are and not hide from their own greatness.

The saying “Everything happens for a reason” is great, and the reason is usually to learn.  I’m so grateful to be a learner!

Thank you MAMA


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I am everything and nothing I see in my reflection

This is the last painting I did before beginning my travels.  I’ve come a long way because before I didn’t like either side, now I love them both.  I was asked one time about the girl in the reflection.  My answer was then as it is now, how do you know which side is the reflection?

I am everything and nothing I see in my reflection

I am everything and nothing I see in my reflection


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I am not afraid…… of much

The bad stuff is easier to believeanigif_enhanced-buzz-6015-1389474753-18

The negative is a record that plays over and over again like this gif.

It repeats in our heads, in the background, in the forefront, all around us.

We’re taught from early on NOT to feel good about ourselves.  It’s stuck up, conceited, arrogant, narcissistic.  We have to see the bad and have the bad pointed out in order to be acceptable. We’re human after all.

Every direction we turn we hear don’t do that, don’t wear that, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t be yourself.  Be what every one else thinks you should be because you are not good enough as is.

Fear is instilled and leads our lives.

A while ago, but not too long ago in the grand scheme of things, I gave up religion.  I did not give up the idea of a higher something, but I gave up religion.  I gave up being afraid.  For me, religion is man-made, fear-based.  It began in fear of the unknown and continued in the fear of nonconformity.

Religion was perhaps necessary at its origins.  People needed a way to understand.  Leaders needed a way to manage people.  Ok, I get it.  But, for me, it is currently unnecessary and creates far more harm than good.  Faith is great.  Morals are great.  But the whole my god is better than your god, or lack of god, is a whole lot of bull$it.

I got tired of being afraid of everything.  I was afraid of not being good enough for anything.  If I don’t pray often enough, for the wrong things, too much.  I was afraid of whether  I went to church enough, was faithful enough, believed enough.

So I stopped being afraid.

I heard a quote about fear being the root of all negative emotions.  It resonated.  All of a sudden so much of my life was clearer.  I was angry, jealous, or judgmental about this thing or the other, but those emotions were based in my fear of inadequacy.  I was dependent, hurt, controlling, or tried to do everything for someone else, but it was all based in my fear of abandonment.  We yell because we’re afraid of not being heard.   We’re afraid of not being heard because we’re afraid we’re not worthy to be heard.  It’s just true, the negativity is based in fear.  I stopped just reacting and started trying to uncover the underlying fears.

I started just being me.  I started learning to like me.  I started, slowly, healing.  The less afraid of being myself I was, the better my life got.

I started facing my fears.

Am I inadequate?  I looked through as many ways as I could think of and nope.  I’m not.  Turns out I’m not only adequate, I’m generally more than.  I still have a few areas that I need more work, but generally speaking, yeah, I’m fine.

Am I going to be abandoned?  No.  I’m right here with me all the time and I like me.  If people come into my life and choose to leave, it’s their loss.  That’s not being conceited.  I’m not perfect, I am human, but I am also worth people’s time.  I do my best to be the best me I can be to everyone I know.  Therefore, quirks and all, I think it’s a loss not to be my friend.

Is it ok if I’m not heard?  Yep.  I will say what I feel.  I will be diplomatic as possible, but I won’t sugar coat anything.  I’m open about me and who I am.  And, just like I don’t always hear what others are saying, I won’t always be heard.  I won’t always be listened to.  The things I have to say are not always important to the people I’m saying them to.  End of story.  I am worthy of being heard, and if someone else chooses not to hear, it doesn’t devalue me.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 

And then I found this quote.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  Marianne Williamson



I still have a few deep-rooted trees I need to dig up in my fear forest, but I’d give myself a 85% clear.  I know what they are, which helps a lot, I just haven’t gotten them out.

I was blessed enough to find my “mamma”.  With her help, with a lot of hard work, with a lot of therapy, some more hard work, and a bit of time, I have discovered that I really can shine.  I really am great.  I really can be exactly me and I’m awesome.

There’s so much less drama

I used to HATE that saying “nobody can make you feel bad”.  I used to think you have obviously not lived my life, because a lot of people have made me feel bad.  But through this fear understanding I finally realized it’s true.  t really is a choice.  I’ve had a lot of really crappy shit happen in my life.  A LOT.  But,

Who I am is because of how I choose to deal with it.

I WAS a victim for a long time.  I allowed myself to feel victimized.  I behaved like a victim.  I replayed those negative messages over and over and over and over again.

I had drama.  Oh did I have drama.

And then, I didn’t.

I stopped choosing to be a victim. I faced fears, I learned lessons.

I stopped choosing to be helpless.  I stopped choosing to feel hurt and started choosing to learn.  I stopped accepting blame for things that weren’t my issues.  I stopped taking on the guilt from other people’s actions.  I stopped putting blame on others for my actions.  I stopped giving my power over my actions to other people.  I stopped giving my power away to reactions.  I stopped living in past recordings of negativity.  I stopped the drama.

Am I perfect?  Hell no.  Do I always remember right away. Nope.  Do I have it all figured out?  Not at all.


But I have a lot more figured out than I used to.


I’m not afraid to be me. I’m not afraid to be alone.  I’m not afraid to travel the world.  I’m not afraid to be told I’m wrong.  I’m not afraid of new ideas.  I’m not afraid to experiment.  I’m not afraid to try.  I’m not afraid to let others be themselves.  I’m not afraid…..   of much.   (I’m still afraid of dogs, but not like I used to be)

What I am is hopeful.

Hopeful that I can help others stop living in fear.  Hopeful that I can lead a good life.  Hopeful that if I have a maker to meet, I will do it with a continued clean conscience.  Hopeful that my life will continue to get better and better.

And I think it will.








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I don’t break

I don’t break

The first night


The second night, adding shading where I want the pheonix to be


part 3 starting the pheonix




5 adding in gold


6 a little more


8 orange?? maybe not


7 a little fuller


9 toning down the orange


10 body detail


11 add in the face


12 hmmmmm the face of the pheonix needs more…..


13 there we go


14 the face


Posted by on 05/05/2014 in art, Expat, poetry, relationships, Taiwan, travel


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Life is about relationships/interactions

The topic, as suggested in a comment,

I think life is all about relationships/interactions , no matter how brief or seeming insignificant they may seem at the moment.

I’m not sure I think life is ALL about relationships and interactions, but I would definitely say 85% of it is.

The other 15% I think has to be completely about self.  Simply and solely about self.  The 85% is about self and others, but, that 15% is really important.  Without it, how we interact with others wouldn’t be the same.

That said, our relationships and interactions are extremely important.  They shape who we are, how we think, and react.  They help us decide how and when to begin acting instead of reacting.  They teach us how to be us.

Every face we see, every action we notice, every person that accidentally brushes us, they all mold us.  How many happy faces do we see each day vs how many angry or sad ones.  How many people do we see sitting quietly or animatedly reciting something to the person next to them.  I think these glimpses into other peoples lives help shape our lives.   We instinctively make decisions and judgments and run scenarios through our heads about it.

Once upon a time a long time ago, some one told me, “Never talk about something you don’t have personal experience about.  If you haven’t been part of an event you can’t really know what it’s about.”   I can’t really remember what spurred it on, but I’m sure I made some hasty decision about something and got called out on it.   I was young, maybe 10 or 11, but that has stuck with me.  HARD.  It made a profound, subconscious effect that I still can’t shake even though it can actually cause problems.

Cause problems you ask?  How can that cause problems?  Quite frankly, people can get thrown off because apparently it can sound as if I only want to talk about myself.   This is really not the case, I’m just thoroughly unable to talk about a subject I haven’t had something to do with in case I get the whole thing wrong.

Now, I have learned how to talk about subjects I have only experienced through reading, watching, etc, so it’s getting better, but the point is that, that one brief moment made a HUGE impact.

I have met so many people along my path, that I have only known briefly, that really have significantly impacted my life, in ways they will never know.

For example, for a short time I was training a couple in their home.  I had some car issues come up and was strapped for cash to get them fixed.  Never ever expecting it, this couple gave me a check to help fix the car problems on their last appointment.  All this happened at a very personally difficult time.  A friend was able to help me fix the car myself, saving hundreds of dollars.  After a singularly difficult evening with the personal issues I had at the time, I made a split second decision to buy a ticket to San Diego and go meditate at my Ocean.

I needed to clear my head, figure out how to get through what was happening, and how to take the next steps.  I needed my ocean to do that.  Living in New Mexico, thousands of miles from ANY ocean, was difficult.  I needed to sit by the ocean and hear the sounds, smell the smells, and let her work her magic on my crazy life.

I never saw that couple again, but, that trip was the pivotal moment in an extremely important time in my life.

I’ve always been a people watcher.  My parents were hardly an example of how to parent.  In fact growing up the best examples I had for parenting were the TV parents.  I began running away early, I knew it wasn’t healthy for me to be there.  Most of my early teen years were spent in several institutions, so really after about 12 or so, I didn’t have any example of parenting.

It has been all the many amazing, terrible, wonderful, average parents out there, that I’ve watched and asked, and read about, that helped me become a good parent.  All the interactions with other parents helped shape the parent I was becoming.  I never shied away from asking or listening to advice.  I would gauge it against what I knew or had seen or had tried already.

Every parent I saw, every where I went, great, terrible, and everything in between, knowingly or oblivious, helped me decide how to act during situations with my children as they came up.  Hells bells I screwed stuff up!  And yet, I know that in spite of their dad’s influence, I raised three really great kids.

I have lived in so many places……  and I have met people who changed my life in every one.  The neighbors in WA that came to look after me when Cori was born.  My old housemates when the ex and I were first married.  The couple we shared Christmas with in CT.  The teacher in NJ.  The many people at the dinners we attended at Princeton.  The other wives from the submarine days.  The dear friends I’ve made that have stayed my friends for so many years, and the momentary friends that helped me understand me and my world better.  The woman who taught me to belly dance in order to avoid being put on bed rest.  The guy who drove me to get my tire fixed.  The guy who told me to “just open the lid and pour it in”.  My classmates in college and university.  My amazing amazing instructors and professors.  The new friends I am making as I go around the world.

The guy who told me I had a nice smile.  The lady who stopped and picked up something I had dropped and gave it back to me.  The girl who moved over on the bus so I could sit down.  The man who politely gave me directions.  The woman who stared in amazement as I asked for directions from two black boys without reservation.  The girl confidently reading a book by herself at a crowded restaurant who still gives me strength to do things by myself even today.

I could go on with this list for HOURS!

These seemingly insignificant interactions shape how I choose to behave.  I try to make sure there is room on the bus.  I try to help people smile.  I return things to their owners.  I share anything I can.  I try to be gracious.  I try to be a good friend.

I know that I can be someone’s example of how to be polite, or unafraid, or unbiased because so many people have been mine.

Every interaction you have affects your life.  Large or small, they affect who you become, they affect how you see the world.  These interactions, no matter how fleeting can later become the thing you look back on and think about the most.

That 15%  of self is important because

You decide if it’s for negative or positive.

You decide if you are going to harp or heed.

You decide if you move backward, stay in limbo, or move forward.

You decide if you are going to blame or learn.

But once those decisions are made:

Life really is about the relationships and interactions you have with the inhabitants of planet Earth.


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