Tag Archives: travel

Here’s to a month

Yes, I am still on Ilha de Mozambique and enjoying it immensely.
The country is still flooded, there’s still no electricity other than random generators, prices on everything are going up because there’s no transportation abilities with some main bridges in the country washed away, cell phones are the only way to get internet and there’s only service once in a while, but I’m healthy and taking it all in.
I’ve gotten pretty good at washing clothes by hand with only a little water, drawing water from the well and boiling the heck out of it. Thank everything I’ve been an avid camper most of my life, it’s kind of like long term camping really.
I hear we might get power restored by next week but everyone tells me not to hold my breath for that….
In the meantime I’ve been taking in some of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises I’ve ever seen. I’ve sat under completely dark skies and seen a sky full of stars. I’ve been swimming in the ocean, treasure hunting, and learning about the dark but fascinating history of this island.
Here are a few photos ūüôā





I am also truly seeing the effects that come from generations being withheld an education for the purpose of keeping laborers servants.
It sets my mind to purpose.

I’m getting my feet here, meeting people, and learning quite a bit about living with only a little.

I’m safe, healthy, and happy, just wishing for the power to get restored sooner rather than later.

Live life to the fullest.


Posted by on 06/02/2015 in Uncategorized


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12 Ways to Move From Powerless to Powerful

As I read this I realized that I am trying to do the things that good leaders do while feeling completely powerless….. ¬† So I’m going to really work harder on numbers 3 and 4 especially.


And realize that those things the weak people are doing are not in my control. ¬†It’s a good read from one of my favorite bloggers and something I really needed to read this morning.


Thanks Dan for yet another great post.

12 Ways to Move From Powerless to Powerful.


^^^  Yeah click there to read it  ^^^ up there  ^^^


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Greece…. A new favorite!

Greece….  A new favorite!

I loved it there.  The stories, the people, the scenery, the sculptures, the buildings, the ruins, the ocean.

I really do need to live by the ocean.  Just being there made me feel better as a human.  I need to have the ocean near me.   She calls to me, she hears me, she heals me.

Here are a few photos – I’ll post a few at a time over the next couple days. ¬†I’m going to try my 30 day challenge again. I plan to finish it this time! ¬†Day 1


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Posted by on 30/11/2014 in Uncategorized


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My first holidays in Turkey

My first holidays in Turkey

Halloween has always, ALWAYS been my favorite holiday.

Maybe it’s the secret actress in me but I love dressing up and getting to be someone else for a night.

Halloween is not really celebrated outside of the US. In fact, it’s pretty much only “celebrated” in other countries where there are concentrations of Americans that will make it happen whether or not it’s recognized.

Luckily for us here, a few establishments and another US expat held Halloween parties, so Wendi, Robin, and I got to dress up a couple times. First, we went to a house party as 3 Bad Ass Biker Babes!





Dunno who he was, but he kept asking me about serious, so we got his photo!


Then on actual Halloween, we went to a local bar for a little dancing fun. There really aren’t any dance clubs here, so going out dancing is more like finding a space by your table to dance if you want to. And since we bring our friends along, and our friends dance, we danced like we came from out of this world ‚Ķ‚Ķ‚Ķuntil it was time to go get food.




I really like how the colors of the lantern, the flower, and the wine looked together, so here’s a little artsy photo just because.



In between Halloween outings, there was Republic Day. Adana held its first Oktoberfest at one local “pub”, so of course we had to check that out before going dancing.












All in all a good week of first holidays here in Turkey. Now to start planning teaching stuff for November. I’m thinking Gingerbread‚Ķ..


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41 things to do before you’re 41

First a little rant

There’s been a lot of craze about the 23 things to do except get married blog. ¬†I have mixed feelings.

I started college after my children were older.  I have seen the countless girls that go to college to find a husband, with their degree being a secondary consideration, (though they will say and possibly believe otherwise).  There are astounding social boundaries put around these young high school and college girls to marry right away.

I think the blog was written with a need to break free, by someone trying to let loose of boundaries that are far more commonplace than we’d like to acknowledge.

That’s fair.

I also think it was written with a little too much severity towards those that choose to get married earlier in life rather than later. ¬†It’s true you shouldn’t do it just because it’s the norm, just because there’s pressure in the ideal that you’re only whole when you’re with someone.¬†

That does NOT mean that there is an age boundary in which to or not to get married exists.  Marriage should be about love, commitment, and hope.  

I know lots of women that have married at a young age and have been happily married for decades. ¬†I know young women now that truly have found someone special and perfect for them and they are happy. ¬†They didn’t choose to get married because of societal pressures. ¬†And that’s also fair.

My list will not include marriage at all, because hopefully along the way, each of us will find that someone, and whether or not it’s our choice to create a (joyous) legally binding contract with them, is a matter of personal taste.

And Now for My List

And so, at 41, this list includes things I wish I had done, things I have done and hope that everyone does, and things that just belong on the list.

1)   Stop worrying about what others say or do.  

If you can end each day able to say you did your best with what you knew and what you had, then nothing anybody says or does changes that. ¬†It’s none of your business, even if they are trying to make your business their business, it’s their enterprise in futility unless you engage. ¬†So don’t.

2)   Find a hobby.

Or three. ¬†Do something on a regular basis that just makes your soul sing. ¬†I love to make art. ¬†I don’t do it nearly enough. ¬†But when I do, it’s like something else takes over me and I sit back and enjoy watching my soul dance to the song that plays in the background. ¬†Find that something and do it, often.

3)    Grow a plant.

There is one kind of plant that will grow for you. ¬†As a general brown thumb I know there are also lots of plants that won’t grow, but keep looking until you find that one that has the same rhythm as you, then talk to it every day. ¬†Yep, it’s ok if you look stupid talking to your plant. ¬†It will do you both good, so do it any way.

4)    Travel.

A) ¬† It doesn’t have to be around the world. ¬†I never realized until I started travelling out of the US, how few Americans travel within our country! ¬†Or how many people I’ve met who have done little to no travelling inside their own countries! ¬†Yes, it’s completely, totally, amazingly awesome to see other countries, but don’t let it stop you from seeing your own. ¬† America is really a whole lot of little countries. ¬†I’ve been to all 49 Continental states, and I can tell you from experience that no region is like another other than national pride stuff.

B) ¬† Go to as many countries as you can. ¬†When they say life changing, they are not kidding. ¬†Do it. ¬†Go somewhere at least once. ¬†It’s worth the sacrifices to get there.

5)    Do something so outside of your comfort zone that the people you know and love would never believe it was you except you brought photographic evidence.

Take one giant leap out of your imposed boundaries.  And take pictures of all of it.  Then, try something else too.  Why stop at once?

6)    Believe in yourself.  Love yourself.

  • If even for just one day, every single time you hear those self-doubts creeping in – push them back and stand tall. ¬†Believe in you. ¬†It’s always amazing to me to find out how many people believe in me, but yet I still find it hard to believe in myself. ¬†But I’m starting to. ¬†And so should you.
  • Love yourself. ¬†I feel as though this should have happened long before 41, so put this high on your list. ¬†Look at and learn from, then let go of the negatives in your past. ¬†Be who you are today with the understanding that it is what it is at this point. ¬†Let yourself relish in all you’ve overcome and accomplished to be who you are today and then love yourself.

7)    Be a self promoter.

Maybe not the pushy lobbyist type, but when you talk to yourself or to others, talk about your good points. ¬†Leave your bad points out of general conversation. ¬†Accept compliments graciously and give them freely. ¬†Don’t talk bad about others because it makes¬†you look bad. ¬†Self-promote your positivity and positive will float back to you.

8) ¬† ¬†Don’t hunt for your special someone.

It really is true that love comes along when you least expect it. ¬†So stop looking, wishing, waiting etc. ¬†Just live your great life and one day BAM. ¬†My BAM hasn’t happened yet, and I’m 41. ¬†But I’m not out there with my love harpoon; I’m just living my life. I have shared and learned about love along the way. ¬†And I am learning to love me.

(*if you already have a special someone, you can hunt for them. ¬†Hunt for their dinner, hunt for their socks, or make them dress up and then hunt them down, that’s ok)

9)    Complete a 30 day challenge.

It doesn’t matter what your choice of challenge is, but complete a full 30 day, every day, challenge that pushes you out of your comfortable zone. ¬†It doesn’t have to push you out of your comfort zone, but at least your comfortable zone. ¬†Ie, reading a poem everyday isn’t out of my comfort zone, but it’s not something I’m used to so it would be out of my comfortable zone, whereas making my bed every morning is well within my comfort and comfortable zone, I just don’t always do it.¬†¬†Be courageous, pull up your gumption, exercise your will power for 30 days. ¬†Then see how much easier it can be to take on the little tasks of life!

10)    Go to college.

You don’t have to take on a full degree program if you can’t afford it, but take a class every year. ¬†Even if it’s a how to fix stuff around your house class. ¬†Keep learning and interacting with other learners. ¬†It’s important. Just do it.

11)    Read Les Miserables.

Don’t just watch the movies or see the musical; read the book. ¬†It will change your life, you will be amazed. ¬†Yes, the first 200 pages are kind of long and slow, and will make you want to abandon the mission. ¬†But I promise it’s a worthwhile understanding of the characters as they transition into the rest of the story. ¬†Even if it takes you a year to read it. ¬†Read it.

12)   Learn how to ride a scooter, motorbike, motorcycle, etc.

It’s so cool. ¬†It’s fun. ¬†It’s energy efficient. ¬†It’s fun. ¬†And it will help you empathize and be more aware of cyclists on the road. ¬†Did I mention a cool and fun it is??

13) ¬† Be involved in a child’s life for at least one school year.

School is tough.  Give your time to help a child or children get through a school year the most successful they can be.  The reward is priceless.

14)   Get to know a teacher.

If you are not a teacher, get to know one.¬†¬† Be their friend, listen to their stories. ¬†I would personally suggest not having this be your child’s teacher if you are a parent. ¬†But get to know a teacher and see all that is involved. ¬†Appreciate everything that teachers put into teaching.

15)   Dance.

Just do it. ¬†It doesn’t matter if you’re good or have rhythm, just get out on a dance floor and dance. ¬†If you’re a guy, I sincerely promise that a girl will not care about the moves as much as she will appreciate that you got out there and danced with her. ¬†If you’re a girl, think less, feel more and just dance.

16)   Know how money works. 

Understand what it is and how credit works for and against you.  Figure out how to live within your means.  Appreciate the work involved in making money, and how it depreciates as soon as something is purchased.  Be wise in your purchases.  Understand money.

17)    Wear color.

Put a splash of color in your outfits. ¬†Be bold, love it. ¬†Wear a crazy color and don’t give a rat’s ass what anybody thinks. ¬†You’ll be surprised at how many compliments you get.

18)   Walk around naked. 

I was in my thirties before I felt comfortable walking around naked outside of my bathroom. ¬†I’m not necessarily saying become a nudist, do that if you want to, but be comfortable in your skin. ¬†If you have to make sure all your curtains are closed first, do that, but take command of your home commando style. ¬†It is liberating.¬†

19)   Make a collaborative art piece.  

Find some people willing to sit down for an hour and take turns putting something new into the piece. ¬†Let each of your own creative inspirations fall onto the same place and see what comes out. ¬†It’s a magical experience.

20) Learn how to do basic car maintenance.

It’s not just a car guy thing, it’s a driver thing. ¬†Know your vehicle, what it sounds like, what it feels like when it’s running well so that you ¬†know when it’s not. ¬†Know how to check your oil and what different colors mean. ¬†Learn where all the basic engine parts are, what they are, and what they do. ¬†Learn how to change a tire, a spark plug and when it needs to go to a mechanic.

21)   Play lots of board and card games.

They’re FUN. ¬†Have fun, play for fun, enjoy the time with the people you play with. ¬†Bring one with you when you travel. ¬†They are great time consumers that keep you interacting with people. ¬†Heck, invite random airport strangers to a game of go fish.

22)   Get to know your neighbors.

Have block parties and bbq’s. ¬†Invite them for dinner or drinks. ¬†My neighbors throughout my life have been such a blessing. ¬†We look out for each other, burglars beware. ¬†Take them a little plate of something and introduce yourself. ¬†We’ve lost a lot of community by not asking for that proverbial cup of sugar. ¬†So go ask for it.

23)   Love the holiday, not the commercialism.

No matter what the holiday is, be about the holiday.  I have spent too much time forgetting about many holidays as I let my bitter emotions get in the way.  Get the stuff you want, when you want, not when the stores dictate.  Give homemade stuff, be with the people, live in the moment of it all.

24)   Be in a theater production.  

Be a tree if that’s all your comfort level can handle, but go be part of a production. ¬†It’s an amazing feeling. ¬†Theater people are amazing people. ¬†Don’t blame me if you start making a habit of it!

25)   Move house at least once.  

It really helps you see how much unnecessary stuff we can accumulate just by being stationary. ¬†At the very, very least, pack up like you were moving and change something in your house. ¬†Make it necessary to box up your life, then make sure you keep what’s necessary, and start sorting through what’s not.

26)  Have an emergency plan and bag.

It may sound crazy but, emergencies by definition rarely have a time frame to prepare for it in. ¬†So be prepared before hand. ¬†How prepared is up to you, a full year of survival food, water, clothing, first aid, etc.; ¬†or a few days worth of basic minimum’s. ¬†Make sure the people you will want to know where they are, know where to look for or find you too. ¬†Nothing makes an emergency more difficult than the fear of not knowing the whereabouts of the people you love.

27)   Climb a tree.

You can hug it once you’re there if you want to, but just find the joy that we used to know and climb a tree. ¬†If you can’t right now, do what it takes to get able to, because it’s just a fun thing to do and you will be so happy.

28)   Make a bucket list.  

Watch the movie, check out The Buried Life guys, and make your own list.  Then look at it every day.  Remind yourself that you have goals so that you can live today in preparation for them.

29)   Kill a mosquito.

Ok this may not sound like the best idea, but it will make me personally really REALLY happy.  Just squash one for me.

30)   Get your face painted.

Just do it, it’s fun, and as an adult you can appreciate how nice a brush feels against your skin in a way you never could as a kid.

31)   Try really hard to learn a new language.

As a still monolingual language learner myself, I am not going to say you have to learn it in order to gain the experience, but try as hard as you can. ¬†It’s so cool to communicate with a stranger in a different language.

32)   Make a silly, just for tonight, bucket list.

I think you can also call it a scavenger hunt or any number of things, but get some friends to help you make a list of some silly things you have to do, get a picture of you doing it, or a signature, or something to show you accomplished it.  IT IS SO MUCH FUN.

33)   Write a blog.

It’s kind of cool to see that people you couldn’t possibly know are reading your thoughts. ¬†Mine started out as a way to keep family and friends, that refused to use facebook, up to date with the happenings of my life. ¬†But it’s become a thing I just do now, just because it feels good to do. ¬†And who knows? ¬†Maybe, you’ll be the next super blogger!

34)   Make your bed first thing every morning.

If the bed is made, even the messiest rooms look better. ¬†And clean rooms look messy if the bed isn’t made. ¬†It gives a sense of accomplishment to the start of the day. ¬†I mean, you’ve barely gotten out of bed and VOILA, instant success. ¬†Who doesn’t want to start their day that way?

35)   Literally laugh out loud.

Don’t hold back, don’t just giggle, laugh. ¬†For that matter, cry out loud, feel peace out loud, be anxious out loud, express yourself.

36)   Have a heart to heart with people at least a decade younger and older than you for the purpose of hearing their story.

Listen, ask questions, be a receiver, a learner. ¬†None of us know any more truth than what we’ve learned, and there is SO MUCH MORE out there to learn! ¬†Take relationship advice from the younger generations as well as the older generations. ¬†Find out about political views and dance moves. ¬†Vast stores of wonderful thought is out there, be open to it.

37)   Participate in an activity that makes you the master of your body.

Join a sports team, start cycling, train for a marathon, learn how to swim, sign up for an amateur body building competition, start a fitness video challenge, but get out there and discover your weaknesses and strengths. ¬†You’ll find you can do so much more than you thought!

38)   Volunteer.

Help those less fortunate, even if you are in unfortunate circumstances yourself. ¬†There is always a way you can help someone, even if you need help. ¬† Trade services with someone, join a soup kitchen for a month, mow your neighbors lawn for no reason, check with a religious institution if there is any need you can fulfill, read aloud at a local childrens’ library or retirement home. ¬†Be a positive force and positivity will find you.

39)   Have someone else wash your hair.

OH MY GOD does it feel good to have your hair washed for you. ¬†It’s most awesome if you’re both in the shower, just saying, but if right now, the best you got is the local hair dresser, well, honey, pay the $10 bucks and ask for a 15 minute shampooing.

40)   Learn about the sky.

The clouds, the moon, the stars, they are our history, our present, and our future all wrapped in one beautiful eyeful. ¬†You can be just as good a predictor of the weather as any TV weather man with very simple knowledge. ¬†It’s amazing to just watch the clouds, but to have enough knowledge about them to truly be wowed by how remarkable they are is a feeling that is indescribable.

41)   Run/ Walk a marathon.

I haven’t done this yet, but I want to. ¬†So, I can’t give a lot of insight, except it seems to be one of the most commonly suggested things by people I’ve asked what they would put on a list like this.

Bonus)   Hug and Kiss the people you love more.

Be affectionate and caring and say you love them. ¬†It’s funny how living abroad everybody does the cheek kissing. ¬†And it’s wonderful how much of a bond you make with people because they are open, hug and kissy friends. ¬†If you’re one of my friends back home, be prepared, I hug and kiss a lot more now and I LOVE it.

There it is, my list of 41 things to do before 41.  I hope you do them all.  Peace and Love to each of you!







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Today I took life‚Äôs balls to the gorram rodeo and showed Taiwan what Cowgirl Up means.

I woke up this morning and saw the sun shining, looked at the weather report and found a 0% chance of rain. No way in hell was I gonna spend my last day of Chinese New Year vacation sitting around lesson planning.

I sent out a feeler to see if any of my Jhubei colleagues wanted to join me in taking life by the balls and just doing an unexpected last minute trip to see the National Gold Museum and Juifen. With Wendy’s help I planned out an awesome trip and put aside all the lesson planning I should have been doing.

Well, everyone was tired from their other amazing trips and so I was solo. That’s ok, I’m perfectly fine with going solo. If I waited around to do things until someone went with me I’d be doing a whole lot more sitting than I already do.

What a freaking AWESOME day! Cowgirl the f Up, I am so glad I went!

First, having Wendy help me was the best. She helped me look up all the transportation stuff and printed out the schedule for me. Then she wrote out these little cards with Chinese and English on them.

These were seriously incredibly helpful. All I had to do was try and say what I meant first and if that didn’t work, show them the card, BAM taken care of.

*Important to note ‚Äď Taiwanese people are some of the friendliest if not the friendliest people I have ever met. Any time I have needed any kind of help; there has been no hesitation to help. Sometimes I don’t even have to ask, they just see me and ask me if there is anything they can help me with. Friendly, friendly, friendly.

So, I get on the MRT headed toward the bus station and right away I am greeted by this smell. I know this smell and it is good.

I look around and sure enough there is a small group of backpackers. Damn I love the smell of backpackers. Maybe it’s the backpacks more than the ‘ers themselves‚Ķ.. but, that smell is so fresh, like the outdoors. That smell lives outdoors and visits inside, not the other way around. Slightly musky, a little smoky, campy but still fresh; full of new experiences. That smell emits that new experience vibe like no other.

I think, “it’s gonna be a good day”.

I suppose I was given a sign on the way to the MRT.

I can’t say that I knew exactly what seeing a random chicken head just sitting in the middle of the sidewalk meant when I felt the need to snap the picture, but, apparently it meant ‚Äď “Go take life by the balls girl, you got this”

So I get on the MRT, transfer from the green line to the blue line, but woops, wrong direction. No problem, next stop change ‚Ķ dang, I’m going to miss the 1062 bus I was planning on taking. That’s ok, there’s another one in 20 minutes. I get to the station and as I walk off the bus, random guy walking down the street sees me look at my paper and right away comes over and asks if I need help.

Yes. That friendly.

Not only does he point me in the right direction, he insists on walking me there. Just as we turn the corner, he notices the bus about to leave, waves at it and makes sure I get on the bus. The bus driver is super awesome, I show him my little cards asking him to let me know which stop is the one I’m looking for and BAM, I’m taken care of. Sit down, and do some on the bus lesson planning. (so I don’t feel like I completely forsook my duties)

Ok, I’m not totally alone, Monkey joined me on this trip J

Just as I was finishing this week’s outline, we start climbing the mountain into Juifen. I put everything away and just sit back and take in the scenery in shear awe.

It is so gorgeous.

So here I will mention that this lovely mountain road is barely big enough for two buses to go side by side on. The drivers could high five each other as they pass. On one side there is a steep mountainside wall and on the other side there is a steep drop off towards the ocean, down the mountain. The road has u-turn switchbacks the entire way. One misstep in either direction is not a good scenario.

My driver, friendly as he was, was a scary ass driver. I thought, well here’s to life and may I and it’s sac return home safely.

My first destination was the National Gold Museum/ Ecological Park.

WOW. The Gold Park was beautiful, I hiked all over the place seeing one beautiful thing after another.

There were three temples and one giant statue on the ground tour path. I just did the self tour, but there is good information in an English pamphlet. The Cyuanji Temple was really pretty tucked in the mountain.

According to the website, “Cyuanji Temple was built in 1896 and consecrated to what was the only golden-faced Guan Gong in Taiwan prior to Retrocession. The gold and bronze Guan Gong statue on the roof of the temple is the largest idol of that deity in the world, weighing more than 25 tons.”

So here are a few pictures from the park.

There are also these to see…

Monkey praying for gold.

After a couple of wonderful hours just walking around and enjoying the fact that I was on no one’s timeline but my own, I headed back to the bus stop and on to Juifen.

Out of some sort of luck I managed to catch the same bus driver on his return trip from wherever the final destination of the bus line is. He knew me and knew I was heading to Juifen, no need to show my awesome little cards.

One 10 min crazy bus ride later, I was in Juifen. Juifen was a gold mining town with a huge boom and an equal but opposite departure. A nine family town, turned boom town, turned ghost town, turned tourist location. I wrote a little history of it in this blog.

Some Juifen fashion.

Pixie’s newest fashion acquisition

I was curious as to what this was, and I think the owner said it was a hula hoop‚Ķ.. I don’t know though.

Mmm Lunch, Get in mah belly

Apparently this is ice cream, no cone required.

The amazing beauty of the coastline required that I take about a hundred photos of it. I won’t post all of them, but here are a few.

I have a serious dislike for the whole cultural child-like-NESS; everything from how girls act and dress to the type of drinks they have are meant to display this prepubescent, innocent but sexual nonsense. Now the group pictured here is not in the 15-30 year old range of single women, but the drinks are meant for the fake-wide-eyed, dressed up like little school girls to suck on while shamelessly flirting.

Yes, they are kumquat drinks put into cups that look like baby bottles, with an optional straw in the nipple. Ugh. Child porn sales just went up, thanks guys, we weren’t trying to protect those kids or anything.

Now on another front, this little girl was about the cutest thing I have EVER seen. Why? Because she was falling asleep as she was walking. Her mom kept waking her up after almost tripping on her because she would start walking in a sort of circle as her eyes would close and her head would dip down. Then her little feet would sort of shuffle, before her mom would shake her arm a little. Then she would take this giant puppet like step and look around before starting to fall asleep again. I watched her do that twice before needing to take a picture of her. So cute.

Heading down toward the Quan Yin tea house.

My tea was prepared in the most elaborate display I have ever witnessed. It was a 8 step process just to get some tea into that tiny little cup.

These little dried oolong leaves turned into these beautiful green leaves that produced some really strong tea.

The tea house was beautiful and peaceful. I am really glad I reated myself to this stop.

The Quan Yin statue in front of the tea house.

Cool little shop had lots of theings made out of jeans.

Who would have thought I would find a store selling African art in a little Taiwanese tourist town?

As I walked up the stairway leading to the street to catch the bus back to Taipei, there in the middle of the stairs was a lone flower. It felt déjà vu like with the chicken head, so I had to take a picture.

I am glad that I took that picture because if it was the last thing I was going to see, it was lovely.

I say that because of the ball-breaking ride home.

Taiwan tried to show me how it’s done, and I showed Taiwan how to Cowgirl UP.

I caught the bus as it was pulling out of the station. The driver hollered to hurry and get on, so I hopped on board. The doors closed behind me and the bus was on its way as I discovered that the only space available was the one where I was standing, at the top of the stairs.

Yes, folks, I got to ride down the steep, switchback, sheer drop-off or mountain face road, downhill, standing at the front of the bus.

This ride was so jaw dropping out of this world that I barely have words for it.

The craziest part is that the only thing going through my mind was, “Hell Yeah”.

The woman standing next to me was praying non-stop. I am assuming to the god of safety. At least I’m hoping so. I decided it was best to leave that up to her, because I can’t remember that god’s name and I did not want to accidently start trying to pray to the god of the water and have us all end up in the ocean, albeit surely being nicely taken care of by him.

Not only were we careening down this mountain at speeds that should not be allowed, full far beyond capacity, but the driver was apparently trying not to fall asleep the whole time. At every red light he would pull out a wet rag, put it over his eyes for about 20 seconds then wipe his face about 5 times. Then he would shake his head, fold up the rag, and watch for the green light.

Could this possibly be the best part, OH NO. Puh-lease, I do not say that I took life’s balls to the rodeo lightly. I freakin rode that ride the full 8 seconds.

On this stupidly narrow road, in the middle of a switchback, going uphill, an amazingly stupid driver decided it was a good place to make a U-turn. The safety god decided to pull through, what with the constant prayer stream still taking place, and our driver was able to stop without hitting the car.

We drove through the brake smoke with a new rumble happening (that lasted the rest of the way, that bus is going in for repair tonight). Apparently it scared the piss right out of the driver because at the nearest safe place to pull over, he, without saying a word, hopped out of the bus and took off up the side of the mountain. Everyone was at a loss until about 4 minutes later he showed back up, got on the bus, and started back down the mountain.

By the first stop into the greater Taipei area I was able to get into a seat and we made it safely back to Tim, Wendy and William’s home.

Monkey feeling glad we are safe.

Yes, this was one heck of a humdinger of a day. I am enjoying this whole living life to its fullest thing ūüôā



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I am on my way – a most random thought

I am on my way   – a most random thought
English: Taoyuan International Airport art dis...

English: Taoyuan International Airport art display šł≠śĖá: ś°ÉŚúíŚúčťöõś©üŚ†īŤóĚŤ°ďŚĪē (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though the wifi at LAX is free, apparently you only get to be on for about 5 minutes at a time and then have to login again.   So I haven’t checked what I last wrote, and have no idea where I left off.  Therefore, I will write this in word while I wait (alliteration) and I’ll start where I am.

I’m sitting in LAX, having just flown from Albuquerque and headed towards Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan.  I have two of the largest suitcases I have ever seen, 1 raspberry princess pink and 1 bright smurf blue (yes, I can spot my luggage on the carousel) plus my traveling backpack and my computer case.  I am moving to Taiwan for an undetermined amount of time.  I am bringing stuff.

With the newly discovered knowledge of traveling and sleeping abroad (not around), I decided (without hesitation) that my body-sized Tempurpedic pillow would be accompanying me in my travels.

*instant realization РI totally forgot about my super snazzy orange foldable baking pan….. damn.  I will need that shipped to me.*

1 suitcase is almost entirely devoted to my pillow.¬† I am comfortable with that decision and make no apologies.¬† That suitcase is my ‚Äėmake my house my home‚Äô suitcase.¬† A few of the things I wanted to have to decorate or use that will help me to overcome homesickness as it hits me.

I am excited to be going to yet another country in which color is worn with exuberance.  I have come to appreciate the ability to just throw on random uncoordinated bright colors.   All this time that I have spent trying to figure out (rather unsuccessfully if you ask my daughter) how to coordinate clothing, colors, and styles so as not to look like a freak of nature, can be put by the wayside as I embrace the color overload movement.  Maybe.
I’m going to need to take a Chinese painting class along with my Mandarin learning.¬† I’m so ready for this.¬† I was asked today why I didn’t seem giddy.¬† I explained that I have a better understanding of all the newness I’m about to face which is tempering my absolute giddiness.¬† I’m calm because I know I’m doing the right thing.¬†¬† I’ve been a bit of a mess the last few weeks while trying to get to this point.¬† Now, what I feel is calm, peace that I am on the right path.

The flight to LAX was spent in conversation with the gentleman next to me and the woman in the seat in front of us.  I learned about capsulized veggies and fruits, transportation needs for the Schneider company, gratitude for the treasure of human kindness, and was able to happily pass a 2 hour flight in no time at all.  I love getting to meet new people and learning about them.  I love sharing about my students from Washington and all of their amazing-ness.  It makes me excited for the students I will have soon.

I spent $5 for a luggage cart that I could only take from the baggage claim to the sidewalk in front of the bus stop ‚Äď aprox. 16 ft from the baggage claim.¬† Seriously, who thought of that??¬† That was genius.¬† That‚Äôs like $1 for every three feet.¬† They get enough suckers like me to fund something important I‚Äôm sure.¬† Maybe they‚Äôre fundraising for actual leg room on the planes?!¬† I will support that.

Hopefully I can get online long enough to post this.  Let’s cross our fingers.

Yeah, looks like I did, but the pictures are taking too long right now, soon.  I should be turning on my language program and trying to work on my Mandarin, but instead I am writing to all of you.  Or, avoiding all the people around me that actually speak Mandarin.  I will wait until I am quietly somewhere no one can hear me.

Of course that’s not what I was taught at TEFL Worldwide was it?¬† I was taught I need to speak, speak, speak when learning a new language.¬† I should be a good teacher to myself and help me find ways to speak with native speakers in conversation.¬† I know this, but still I want to hide until I know more.¬† Well, I won’t be able to hide after my 14.5 hour flight now will I?¬† no.


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The Money Blog -In Other News, the Team

This week I had a small “Are you serious?!?” moment in trying to figure out how to pay for all this teacher stuff.

Ordering official transcripts to be sent to NM State Board of Ed    $ 15

Application fee to get license                                                     $125

Background Check                                                                   $ 75

Adding Reading Specialist and TESOL endorsements

         to license                                                                       $ 95 each

Travel Insurance                                                                       $325

Notarized birth certificates                                                         $15 each x 3

Certification of transcripts, diploma and background check           $13 each x 3 (9)

Apostillization of  transcripts, diploma and background check       $10 each x 9


And that is just to get there and finish the school so I can get started…..

So during my “Are you serious?!?” moment, I look at my daughter who is home for the summer (internship at UNM’s medical school) and said, “I know everyone wants me to be really happy right now, I just finished this major accomplishment, I’m headed out in September to begin my ‘change the system’¬† crusade, I should be really excited, but I feel sort of depressed!”

That amazing daughter of mine just looks at me and says, “Yeah, this is the time when most kids move back in with their parents.”¬† To which I responded, despondently, “But I am the parent.”¬† “Yep”, she says, “and that’s why you’re feeling depressed.¬† Don’t worry about it, it gives you more to write about.”¬† I really have the smartest kids.

In other news!!

I have entered into an official writing collaboration with another recently graduated teacher.¬† Jamie also graduated with honors and we took many classes together.¬† She is even more analytical than I am, which is a tough job, and rounds out my “Let’s go conquer the world right now!” attitude with, “OK, so the goals are 1) get to Prague, 2) Specifically plan the research, 3) look up all necessities for publication, 4) …….¬† You get the idea.

There is in the process of being assembled a perfect writing combination happening.

Thane – the ultimate editor, nothing gets past this guy, he edits the damn mail; excellent English skills (a Bachelor’s in English); great theatrical skills – which I believe will help with the writing and creating of a project that the public can understand as much as my peers, experts in the field of education and industry leaders.

Me – Enthusiasm for the mission; specific training for teaching; ready to do research until my fingers bleed ink; culturally conscious; determined to make a difference in ESL education – which I believe in turn will create a better overall educational system; and a pretty good writer if I do say so myself,

and introducing

Jamie – also specifically trained; even more analytical than me; just as determined to create positive change for the education of students who are overcoming income/racial/language discrimination; down to earth, a go-getter, my ‘implementer’.

There is a very real end goal now and the who’s, where’s and why’s are starting to find their specific directions for research.¬†¬† I once read an article in Oprah’s magazine (Jan 2010) by Martha Beck entitled It Takes All Kinds.¬† The article is all about assembling the perfect team and how those members work together by being different.¬† She uses Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings to help explain, which personally I found to be FABULOUS.

Each well designed team had a necessary mixture that included the “Quick Start”, “The Fact Finders”, “The Follow Through”, and “The Implementer”. ¬† It is not the only article out there about this subject and not the only one I’ve read, but it did make the best connection from words to real life for me.

I changed the titles for my team to

The overall overseer – the person that has the purpose and end result in mind at all times, the coordinator of the other members to keep the whole team on track

The Starter – the person that has that beginning enthusiasm, the go-get-it-itis to spur the team on, the ‘if I can’t find it, I’ll biuld it’ person.

The Thinker – the person that thinks about all the little details that can be overlooked, creates the organization required to keep the project moving along smoothly, reads the directions.

The Builder – the person that hits the pavement and makes it happen on the ground, the one that can take the ideas, use the thinkers knowledge and work the deal.

The Finisher Рthe person that needs to finish the job, right, on-time, and better than expected.  The one that methodically pushes through because the accomplishment is the goal.

The three of us hold multiple titles, which I think will make us gel even better.

Oh goodness, it’s been an hour -> I’m off to go get my dance on then see about a part-time summer job in Old Town ūüôā


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Trying to raise funds

Hi everyone,

So, I am so close to graduation now!¬† My Les Mis Unit has begun with a fantastic success!¬† The drill team I began coaching in February had their first school performance and it was amazing.¬† They were asked to dance in the National Train Day event here in Albuquerque as well.¬† I’m so proud of them.¬† The after-school tutoring program I’ve been working with has its final days next week, so I’m going to finally have a little extra time to finish my portfolio for graduation.

Then, I begin the fund-raising process for creating the book I plan to write during my travels as an international teacher.  Those of you who know me, know the reason I began working towards my endorsement in TESOL and have really pushed myself for my teaching degrees, is because I really want to help create a change in the way we educate; especially our ESL students.  The way we currently teach ESL students, more often than not, inhibits their ability to succeed.  I plan to teach in several countries that have high International testing scores to learn what, how and why their systems are successful.

As I teach and learn, I will be writing a book that analyzes what I am learning about these systems and comparing them to what I’ve learned about how we teach here in America.¬† Hopefully finding a way to connect these systems in a way that I can instigate some real, positive, and empowering changes in the way we educate ESL students.

Much wonderful and amazing work is and has been done in this field already.  I hope to be able to add to this.

Beginning is always the hardest part.  Being realistic about the process is sobering, but important.

On this note, I plan to begin fundraising through a site called  I will be giving photo cards, hand-sculpting and painting several different items, giving free copies of the book, and other prizes for your contributions to my project.

I am attaching photos of Fairie Doors that I have sculpted and painted in the past to give an idea of my work.

Dragon Guarded door

Thanks for reading my blog and for any contributions you may give.¬† Once I graduate (!) and don’t have 4-5 classes I take on top of classes I teach, I will be able to allot more time for my writing.¬† I’m pretty excited to spend a summer working on art.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Posted by on 06/04/2012 in art, being a student, teaching, travel


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A new Quarter begins, A chapter comes to a close, and Beginning on the Horizon

This is it, the final countdown.¬† 8 weeks, 40 school days, and 22 teaching days left.¬† What makes only 22 teaching days out of 40 school days?¬† Testing. Blauchk……¬† It doesn’t really show anything but they keep doing it anyway.

I’m teaching my next unit using Les Miserables, the movie, text excerpts, and the children’s version of the play.¬† I would really LOVE anyone’s input on how this story has touched your life, how it changed or didn’t change your life or outlook. What you first thought when you were asked to read the book, or did you choose to read it on your own?¬† Have you never read it but seen the movie or play?

I’m trying to give the students a broad outlook of why this story is a human classic.

Also, the students have read Sounder and Call Down The Moon.¬† I’m going to have them draw parallels to those stories, characters, etc.¬† I’m pretty excited about having them learn about the story of Jean Valjean. It has truly changed my life.¬† I was able to connect to the characters.¬† This is one of those books that demand your thought processes in a way that you don’t realize that you are questioning life as you know it until after you do, finding a deeper meaning to morality, justice, stereotype, self-belief, trust, love, and human nature.

I’m at once being faced with finding so much joy in the students I am working with and drill team that I hurt to be leaving, but I am so excited for the future that is rapidly approaching.¬† I have spoken with the Admissions office of a few Universities that offer a Master’s in Education through online coursework so that I can continue on with my education as I travel the globe educating others.¬† I’m pretty excited about one prospective University and am in the application processes now.

The school in Prague is paid for now we need to start funding airfare and living expenses for the month.¬† This school is going to provide skill sets that I don’t believe I could get anywhere else and I know that Thane and I¬† going together is going to be the spring-board to awesome experiences.¬† We’re looking at finding a job where David will be able to go to school as well.

The experiences of education are unparalleled.¬† Not having the education when my older children were small constricted the opportunities I could give them.¬† The more education I get the more able I am to provide opportunities to my children.¬† I can’t help but feel a little frustrated that I could not have taken Mike or Cori to live out of country when they were David’s age, but it wasn’t even a possibility then.¬† They are adults now with their own paths to take.¬† As I get more education I will have the ability to provide my adult children with opportunities that I can’t yet.¬† But it all comes down to education.

That’s how I’m feeling today.¬† I’m off to go see the acupuncturist – dance camp was tough on my poor neck, got keep the healing happening.

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Posted by on 24/03/2012 in teaching


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