NEW DESIGN REVEAL!

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It’s finally here!!!

A brand new design. Whew, it feels refreshing, exciting, and a little like- I still can’t believe it belongs to ME! I owe it all to Amanda over at Living in Another Language. What talent this designer has! She has been working diligently on the design over the past month while I have been cheering (and anxiously awaiting) from the sidelines. This girl is darn talented. She’s also living in Korea and so I have no doubt I will get to meet her in person very soon. I have been writing on this blog for about a year and half. It started as a place to document my life towards the end of my college experience. I didn’t write consistently. Then I got married to my best friend. We moved to South Korea. Then we became real-life teachers. I began to document our lives consistently and frequently. Now, this space is my very own piece of the web that I have grown to love so dearly. I have been reminded how much I love writing, reading, and social media as a tool to connect to others.

– I’ll just be over here doing my little happy dance. Check out those social media icons on the left of my screen. HOW COOL ARE THEY?!?!

My hope is that I reach out and connect with you in some way. I believe in people. I believe in loving life. I believe in adventures big and small. I believe that we are one… That God is love…and that life’s a journee.

Life's a Journee

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Confessions from a skinny girl.{Tell all Thursday}

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If you have just started following along then perhaps you may have missed that over the past month I have been ranting  talking about simplicity, confessions, surprises, greener grass, making differences, and being content. I’ve decided that I would like to delegate Thursdays as a day where I talk about my life, love, things I am passionate about, and what makes me tick. Since it’s already Thursday in Korea I’d like to present you with my very first official “Tell All Thursday.”

Almost every woman that I have ever met has thought negatively about their body in some way. I mean, it’s extremely hard not to, right? We are bombarded by a society of consumers telling us to buy the latest lotion, lip gloss, skin care, purse, shoes, or clothing item. The list goes on and on. Media tells us the more we purchase the better we will feel about ourselves. It’s not just women either. Men out there. This is for you too.

The pictures we see in magazines, movies, and commercials. They tell us we “need” it. We “must” have it. They try to create a sense of urgency and desperation so we purchase (and continue) to purchase their products. The pressure women face can often be self-inflicted, but society surely isn’t making it any easier.

While being in Korea I have come to the realization that just because they are #1 in medical tourism doesn’t mean that America is any different when it comes to beauty image. It’s kills me that middle school girls think that eye lid surgery is making them more beautiful. It’s happening all over and not just Korea. I am a petite woman. If you’ve met me you know I stand 5’2 on a good day. I have genetics that have allowed me to eat what I want, when I want, and how much I want of it. I have been 105 pounds for as long as I can remember ( I actually don’t own a scale so that could be different now!) Before you start raging and shaking your fist at the screen first, listen. In America I have literally been asked questions like “Are you anorexic?” – Well, um no. I am not, but you’re freaking rude. Does that count for something? I’ve been told my entire life “You’re so tiny. You’re so small. You’re so skinny” YES, I am. Do you think I don’t know that? I am a small person.  I get that. Does it make you feel better to say it out loud? I wouldn’t tell a bigger person “Wow, you’re really big.” I just wouldn’t. It’s rude.

My point is this: No matter where you are, if you’re a human I would guess at some point you’ve compared, felt bad, or tried to perfect your body. Sometimes we do it unintentionally. We see a picture and we compare ourselves to what we looked at. ” I like her hair. I want her hair. I wish I was taller.” – I’ve been there. We all have. It’s time we stop giving compliments based on appearance and start giving compliments based on a person’s morals, values, and what makes them who they are. Before I go off on a rant again I would want you to know this:

You are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are perfect. People can make it so hard. Don’t give up on yourself and most importantly don’t give up on your confidence. You are worth it. Life is worth it. You are a gem. A gem that is unique. One that can not be replaced.

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Surprises that warm the heart.

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The days keep flying and I just keep wishing I had more time.

More time to read, write, work out, bake delicious food, travel, longer weekends, drink coffee, drink tea. Drink wine with my husband. I keep finding myself wishing for more time.  Our weekends here are precious and valued time that Tom and I spend together traveling Korea and (if we are lucky) sometimes with our friends!

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…and so when Tom and I were presented with the opportunity to volunteer at an International English camp a few weeks back we debated over if we would give up our “precious time” to spend a weekend with kids after working 40 hours with kids. – We all need breaks every now and then 😉 We had heard great things about the camp and decided: “What the heck! Let’s do it.”

So, three weeks ago Tom and I went with 40 other foreign English teachers to volunteer at an International English Camp about 2 hours away from our city of Yeosu. 200 Korean middle school students in grade two (equivalent to our 8th grade in America) lined the pavement holding signs and cheering as the foreign teachers got off the bus upon arrival at camp. This was only the beginning of a fun-filled weekend teaching the kids how to cook food from our native countries, playing games/sports, doing a talent show, having a massive bonfire (fireworks were included!), stargazing, and teaching them a little about the places we originally call home.The best part about this was being able to hang out and have fun with the middle school kiddos in a normal environment! No pressure of studying. Just conversation and having fun. I have talked a bit about the pressures that the kids have in Korea to study, perform, study, perform AND repeat. If you’re interested in learning what these kids go through or just grasp an understanding of our life as teachers in Korea click here for a short 20 minute documentary! The camp was a great opportunity for us to be immersed in the culture of Korea that we so dearly love while getting to know some of the most amazing kids in a fun environment.

It was a heart warming weekend to say the least.

At the end one of the boys gave a wonderful speech that made me cry. He said the camp had given him confidence to use his English in conversation without being scared. Through all the hard days of teaching…feeling like what we are doing isn’t making a difference… that I am not teaching them enough. It’s the moments like this volunteer English camp that reminded me sometimes it’s the little moments in life that make a difference. It’s the smiles, hugs, and love. It’s the company of spending time with kids. Just getting to know them. Having the opportunity at the International camp showed me that what we are doing CAN make an impact!

The weekend we spent with the kiddos was a weekend that warmed my heart. I realized how selfish I was initially to view it as giving up “my time” when the kids had done SO much to warm my heart during our weekend together.

What things have you been doing lately (or have others done for YOU!?!)  that warm your heart?

Confessions of a writer at heart.

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It’s been a whirlwind of a week.

Just one of those weeks when it all comes apart at the seams. I am not talking earth shattering life changes (thank goodness and knock on wood.) Whatever it was that was going on this week I think it was time for it to happen. I have been sharing SO much about how much I adore Korea. While, I do. Life isn’t always perfect. Communication falls apart due to an ever present language barrier. Expectations go unspoken because “saving face” is a big deal here AND lastly…I swear there was a full moon this week because my 3rd and 4th graders were crazy while my 5th and 6th graders were in zombie mode.

Let’s just leave it at the fact that I am really freaking happy that Friday is here.AND. I get to see these amazing friends this weekend.

I have done a lot of thinking this week. It hit me that so many of us aren’t using the talents we have been given. We keep skills/talents dormant for no other reason besides fear. A few of you have reached out and told me that I am impacting your life in a positive way through my writing. Do you know how that makes me feel? It made me feel pure joy. It also brought tears to my eyes. Yep, I am getting sappy for a moment, but hear me out.

In 5th grade my teacher wrote on one of my papers “Elicia, you write exactly how you talk. I love that.” A simple sentence. At conferences she told my mom and I the same thing she had written. Growing up my parents told me that I should be a journalist because I could write (disclaimer- They are my parents so of course they may be bias.) The thought of going to school and having to deal with grammar and editing made me sick to my stomach. I felt like it would suck the life out my creativity. If you just started reading I should tell you: I hate editing. I hate grammar. You’ll probably find multiple mistakes in my writing…and that’s ok to me. I am not perfect. Maybe deep down I was afraid my writing wasn’t as good as the next person? I was always comparing. My college speech professor once told me my biggest flaw was that I was incredibly hard on myself. I guess it makes sense. I have never been afraid to be different, but I do think I was afraid at failing if I pursued writing.

I went to school for teaching so I could help kids/families/parents. Somewhere along the way I had forgotten how much I loved to write. Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you that I am never afraid to say how I feel. It’s true. Sometimes a little too true. So I guess it makes sense that through blogging I am able to combine who I am with what I love. All while being an English teacher in Korea. When I am blogging I am combining the best and greatest of those dreams. I am being able to express how I feel or why I believe what I do. I get to share little pieces of my life with you. Most importantly I have gotten to help people. Helping people was my goal, but it’s different to get messages from real live humans who are telling you that you are impacting them in a positive way.

If someone has been inspiring you lately (a friend, family member, or even someone you have never even met) I encourage you to give them a little shout out. Cause people rock and sometimes all it takes is one person to say something to make a difference.

I am left wondering why more of us aren’t honing in on our talents and skills? Is it fear of failure? Have we forgotten to just get back to the basics?

-Happy weekend my friends.

May you find joy and spread it.

One of my favorite pictures of my 3 baby sisters and I. Pure JOY!

Learning Korean culture through hiking.

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Remember how I told you guys we loved to hike?

That’s pretty much an understatement.

This past weekend we found ourselves back in the mountains after taking a two week hiatus while Tom nursed a sprained ankle from playing volleyball.  I probably said (at least five times) ” I am so happy right now.” It had been two weeks of not hiking and while I had really enjoyed two weekends in our lovely little city of Yeosu I was itching to get back to what we love to do- hike.

7 peaks later and at our 7th National park we found ourselves loving the beautiful fall colors. We started at 10 am and finished around 4pm allowing plenty of time for us to be in nature together, climbing mountain peak after mountain peak, and time to just- think. It dawned on me near the end of the hike that (almost) everything I know about Korea I learned from hiking. I mean we have spent hours in the mountains so perhaps I am bias. Everything from food, culture, terrain, and just life in Korea I have learnt from days we have spent in the mountains. Let me break it down a bit easier for ya. I added in pictures from our weekend hike in Naejangsan National Park.

Korean Kindness-

Our first hike in Korea and not knowing a thing about how long it would take, what to pack, how much we would wanna eat, etc. We set out to find ourselves just a bit exhausted and extremely under packed when it came to food. There have been countless times we have been offered food, drink, or even just company, and it helps refuel us through the remainder of our hikes. Which brings me to my next point…Korean community.

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Community in Korea-

Ah! Where to begin. Koreans love family. They love community. They love togetherness. To be quite frank- I love it too. We love that they sit together in circles sharing food, drink, and laughter. We have seen people dancing, eating, laughing, and relaxing together at the top of the mountains. We have been invited to join the fun and we have sat next to groups admiring the fun. The community reflects back to what I have seen while I have been teaching as well. The students try to share treats, they share picnic lunches, and their class becomes a family. It’s all about community in Korea…and I love that.

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Korea is stunningly beautiful. 

Whoa. We have sat at the top of mountain peaks overlooking beautiful fall colored valleys. We have spotted cities from afar. Seen the sea that looks royal blue for as far as the world goes. Islands littering the backdrop of what looks like a painting. Gosh, the list just goes on: rivers winding through the base of a mountain, waterfalls, people on other peaks, mountain ridges giving you 360 degree views of just plain gorgeous. We’ve seen the seasons change from spring, to summer, to autumn , and have learned that each season brings a new look at beauty as we discover it through hiking. We have learned about the land from hiking Korea and we understand how to adapt for hiking as the weather has changed.

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Koreans are committed!

The majority of people we see hiking typically consist of an older population. They don’t give up and they are pretty tough. I love passing climbers on the way up or down and hearing them shout excitedly after I greet them politely in Korean. Korean’s are the hardest working people that I have met, but they sure do know how to celebrate when they get to the top of a peak. Photos, food, and soju (traditional Korean drink) galore. If they are into hiking they are committed right down to their matching outfits and ridiculously expensive hiking gear/outfits. They work hard and they play hard. They are committed to finish what they start and will encourage you along the way with their greetings in Korean. I love when they shout “ASA” (sorta like: “get it!!!!”) and “FIGHTING” ( sorta like: “don’t give up!!!” which sounds like “Pi-ting”)

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Tom atop a busy mountain peak in Naejangsan National Park!

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Tom and I usually pack nuts, trail mix, ham sandwiches, granola, fruit, and lots of water for our hiking treks. Koreans pack full on meals when hiking. I have even seen them pack hot water in a canvas and concoct up some delicious noodles at the top of a mountain. I never underestimate what they will pack when it comes to food. I’ve seen noodles, Kimbap (Korea’s version of sushi rolls) plenty of soju, and entire ensembles of pots/pans and a full on meal. We have learned that Koreans love to eat (don’t ask me how they all stay so thin) and they love to go all out with their meals- even at the top of a mountain.

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We had an absolute blast hiking this past weekend and I love being able to document our life here on the blog! Here are a few more of my favorites:

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This guy and the beautiful Korean fall. I am one lucky lady.

This guy and the beautiful Korean fall. I am one lucky lady.

Exhausted and full of sweat.  Pure bliss on one of the peaks.

Exhausted and full of sweat. Pure bliss on one of the peaks.

Almost done!!

Almost done!!

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Every good hike must come to an end… finishing at Naejangsa temple.

5 ways to simplify your life. {Inspiration from Rob Greenfield}

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5 ways to simplify your life. {Inspiration from Rob Greenfield}

The way we live our life impacts those around us. Decisions we make not only impact ourselves but our fellow humans as well. I often think about the “butterfly effect” and how one small thing we do can change everything.

I guess it’s been a long time coming. Tom and I have been watching documentaries on eating healthy, living well, and simplicity for over a year now. The more research we did the more we realized how unhealthy we were really living…and I am not just talkin food people. I mean like the way we were thinking, decisions we were making as a consumer, and what we were putting in/ on our precious bodies.

I’d like to start an entire series on the BIG and little changes we have made in our life the past year in an effort to letchya in on some of the ways our lives have drastically improved because of the changes we have made.  Tom is an avid reader of Rob Greenfield’s blog. Tom encouraged me to start reading it and for those of you who don’t know I am kindasorta obsessed with reading, writing, and continually educating myself. His blog is incredible. He is one of those people that you want to be friends with. Inspiring doesn’t really even cut it for how I want to describe him.

This dude has just got it right. I am serious.

Drawing inspiration from documentaries, friends, articles, and now Rob’s blog I’d like to share things we have done to simplify our life. I would love to write more about each topic but for now I will keep it short, simple, and to the point. I am one of those readers who can’t focus for long unless I am extremely intrigued so this one for the souls out there like me. 🙂

1. Eating LOCAL and FRESH food-

If you have been following along you know how much we love our open air markets in Korea. We do 90% of our shopping at our local markets. We try our best to buy locally grown food. The first reason is: that the food is fresh. The fruit and vegetables are grown in gardens either in our city or surrounding cities. I’ve never been a big meat eater and because we are shopping at the markets now we stick mostly to fruit and vegetables.  The second reason is that we are supporting local farmers. Even the smallest of gardens in Korea produce enough to sell at the markets. Tom and I both believe in supporting the locals and would much prefer supporting small businesses than a massive company. We visit the same market stalls depending on what we want to buy. Lastly, we eat what’s in season. It’s been fun being able to experience the changing of food as the seasons change.

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Shopping a local market in Janghueng, South Korea.

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Buying local in Malaysia on our vacation.

2.Buying LESS. 

The American Dream tells you buy more and you’ll be more happy. Buy the newest and greatest because you need it. We have found out that we are happier with less. Less stuff just cluttering up our lives. We have an entire storage unit back in Wisconsin full of STUFF. Tom suggested he would love to make it just disappear… while I partially agree- we did go through our boxes of stuff and donate TONS to Goodwill back home. It was gross how much stuff we had that we literally NEVER used. Ever. So away it went. Car load after car load of stuff. It felt so liberating and freeing to say goodbye to material objects.  To be honest there are material things that I do like. For example, a computer so I can write/ read articles. A new camera is high up on my list of “wants” so I can learn more about photography. Is this stuff I need to survive? Absolutely not. Do I still want it? Yes…and to me that’s okay. It’s the clothes that go unworn, the 100 pairs of shoes, the 4 cars, and the 15 swim suits that I am talking about.

Checking out Central Market.

Tom reminds me daily of this one…buy less. Does it mean I still want all of this cool jewlery from a local market? Yes. It does. Just need the reminders that less is best.

3. Everything in Moderation.

Okay, so if you’re still reading by now you think I am completely nutty. HA! I probably would agree. A rule that we live buy is this: Everything in Moderation. Do we love an awesome glass of wine (or three) and some delicious microbrews ? Yes, we do. Do we deprive ourselves of any and all candy because it’s processed? No! We do try though as best as we can to have it all in moderation. It’s not because we want to loose weight. It’s because when we take it all in moderation we feel better. We are happier. We want to be intentional with how we live our lives and this golden rule helps shape what we eat. I won’t be the mom who denies her kids candy on Halloween because it isn’t healthy. I won’t be devastated if they do decide to eat oreos, candy, and a burger every now and then. Like I said. Everything in moderation.

Taking a break from a 10 hour day spent exploring/hiking the coast of Jeju Island, South Korea.

Taking a break from a 10 hour day spent exploring/hiking the coast of Jeju Island, South Korea.

4. LESS of that stuff we call- Chemicals.

 Well, what the heck does this one mean?!? This is for real: We have been cleaning our apartment with only vinegar and baking soda for over 6 months now. I don’t remember where we got the crazy idea. Probably Pinterest! BUT it works. In Korea we deal quite a bit with mold due to extreme humidity and the ocean being just a couple miles away (I will take combating mold over a long Wisconsin/ Minnesota winter ANY DAY!!!) We heard that vinegar kills mold because it’s acidic. I remember reading articles on how baking soda reacts with the grease in stains to form glycerol, a common cleansing ingredient in soaps. Mixing it with vinegar creates carbonic acid making it great for scrubbing. Also, as a weak alkali, baking soda neutralizes acids to eliminate strong smells. So we have been cleaning with only those 2 things…and water! Our apartment looks fabulous people. I feel better too because it’s simple. Our latest thing is that we are using apple cider vinegar and baking soda as our shampoo/conditioner. Yes, you read correctly. Just vinegar and baking soda!!! Our friend Yvonne over at Daily Deliberations was our initial inspiration over a year ago when she first told me about it. I was hesitant because it sounds…well, pretty scary! I was also worried it would be a hassle while traveling since we live overseas. It’s the greatest thing. My hair and our apartment are reeping the benefits of LESS chemicals! We are hooked on the “no poo method.” The final push came after reading Amanda’s story about her no poo experiences. It’s about time we get back to nature and stop with the processed junk & not just when it comes to our food.

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5. Don’t COMPARE! 

Don’t compare your job or life to others. When we got to Korea our friend Alyssa gave us this tip. I am a FIRM believer in this one. When Tom and I got to Korea we were constantly (not intentionally) comparing our lives to other foreigners living abroad. They have a better job than me. Their apartment is much bigger than ours. They work less. The list goes on and on. We were comparing. My goal is to be present where I am. When you’re comparing your life to other’s you can’t be fully present.  When you aren’t comparing you aren’t cluttering your mind. It become simple: Be exactly where you are. <– click there if you want to read about my latest attempt at being right where I am. Thanks to living in an age with massive amounts of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram we are looking at others lives through their posts. Remember, that these posts are things people are proud of: like their adorable baby, a new engagement ring, brand spankin’ new car, an awesome vacation, etc. The list goes on and on! The point is this: Don’t compare. Your life is great! Plant your seeds and grow them right where you’re at.

These changes didn’t happen overnight and it’s been a process. One that I learn more about each day. There is an incredible amount of information out there and I could drive myself up the wall about all things we want to change.

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Just call me flower child. ;P

Slowly, and surely we will continue to make changes that make our life more simple. Slow and steady wins the race. Here’s to a new adventure in simplicity!

What ways do you live that make life more simple?

Gaedo (Gae Island)

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It’s already been over a month since we took the trek to Gaedo on September 28th!

We are loving living just a quick boat ride away from so many gorgeous islands. Yeosu, our home city, is full of islands to visit just a hop skip, and a jump away. If we haven’t been hiking/camping we have been exploring islands. Gaedo marks our 8th island we have visited since moving to South Korea in April.

It rained most of our day trip to Gaedo, but we didn’t let it rain on our parade.

It was the island of cows. Seriously though. It was.  We trekked through trails overgrown fields up and around three hill climbs. The views of the sea littered with even more islands was completely stunning, but the cows were everywhere. I felt like we were back in Wisconsin. Lisa and I wouldn’t make eye contact with the cows as we passed them.  Just kept our eyes on the prize of the trail lost somewhere under the tall weeds. I am pretty sure these massive creatures of muscle were tied to the ground by a rope…although I am not entirely sure. What’s to say with a pull of their massive tree trunk legs they couldn’t snap the rope and charge at us? Tom trekked through ahead not even phased by the bulls who kept letting out what sounded like a cry-for-help-kinda-moo. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day we spent on Gaedo. A beautiful little, quaint, and quiet island somewhere in the Sea off of Yeosu, South Korea. Tom has documented the trip extensively here for those who may want to venture there yourself. It’s spectacular. You should.

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Our trail.

A trail that once was.

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We made it through the cow invested field.

We made it through the cow infested field.

Lisa in the weeds.

Lisa in the weeds.

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Snuck in a picture with this guy. ;P

Snuck in a picture with this guy. ;P

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Back on flat ground

Back on flat ground

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Linking up with Bonnie @ A Compass Rose

Being exactly where you are.

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My best moments of “thinking” come in the shower.

I realized this last week…when I was running. When I work out I am always thinking about everything that I need to get done. I’m jealous of those of you who see working out as a time of stress relief. This is what happens in my head when I work out:

“OK, I need to wash the dishes when I get home, make cookies, and shower. What will I teach tomorrow? My kids better listen. Tomorrow is Tuesday… will we be going out for dinner? Where will Tom want to eat? What’s our plan for the weekend? How are my sisters doing. Gosh, they are getting big. Only 67 days until I see them and get to HUG them. Will they be taller than me? Man that’s a long plane ride home. I wonder what book I will want to read on the plane. This past weekend was incredible. Korea is gorgeous.” (looking at the ocean or the mountains) and then I let out a scream (after my second time of almost getting hit by a car.)

…but when I am in the shower. All is silent except for the rushing sound of the water going over my ears. It’s my time. It’s the time during the day where I get to reflect, pray, think. There is no music blaring, I am not talking, No kids screaming. It’s still. The steam fills our ridiculously tiny Korean bathroom, and it’s still silent.

When I am laying in bed at night-  I am thinking about the next day.

When I am working out- My mind gets lost in my task list.

First thing in the morning- my brain is sifting through things I need to remember for the day.

– I tend to worry a lot, and it’s the time in the shower I feel God saying to me “Just. Slow. Down.”

Be right where you are. Right now. Just breathe.

I want to be the girl who listens, and not just listens, but listens well. The girl who can push back the worry or all the thoughts consuming my brain space, and just LISTEN. I always take notice of the people who listen well. Who give me their undivided attention. Responding appropriately with valuable input. I remember the teachers who went the extra mile, the friends who make the effort, and the people who just simply listen with hearts ready to receive.

I want to be that for others.

I want to be right where I am. Right now. 120%

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10 Stunningly Beautiful Korean Hikes

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Tom and I hike A LOT. Many weekends in Korea have been spent hiking and we can’t think of a better way to see Korea then when you hike. We absolutely have grown to love it since moving to Korea seven months ago. I have mentioned a few of the hikes we have done. Like Wolchusan and the Bijindo Island hike, but for the most part I’ve left it up to my husband Tom to do most of the hiking documentation in his sweet blog. We have now accomplished six of Korea’s National Parks, and countless more smaller ones in our area. Inspired by our incredible friends, Tom and I hope to make it to all 16 National Parks in Korea. Right now, we usually pick a “loop” route (if the park has it) and we always make sure to summit the highest few peaks in each park. Once we have conquered all sweet 16 we will go back and do other trails we didn’t make it to the first time.

Oh man, and the leaves are changing now. Talk about beautiful.  Next weekend, we have plans to hike another mountain named Naejangsan. It’s apparently the PEAK weekend to see the leaves changing colors and the best place in Korea to view the fall colors. I’m such a summer gal at heart, but fall is tugging at my heart strings. Sweaters, cooler air, gorgeous leaves, and coffee. Korea, your beauty is shocking, and you’ve completely stolen pieces of my heart. From our arrival last spring when the cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom, combating summer heat while frolicking in your sea, and now the absolute natural beauty of fall. You’ve got me hook, line, and sinker, Korea.

I have picked my 10 favorite pictures of our hikes thus far in Korea. Most of the photo credit goes to Tom, but I am his wife so I get to use steal them as I please :p

Deogyusan National Park:

Jeju Island Olle Trails:

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Gae Island (Gaedo):

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Jirisan National Park:

Bijin Island (Bijindo):

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Hallasan National Park:

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Woraksan National Park- (The completion of 10 peaks in 3 days):

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Hwahdo (Hwah island):

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Songnisan National Park:

Gubongsan (The view of some of our city-Yeosu):

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Do you like hiking?

I don’t know if it’s the beauty, the silence of nature, the one foot in front of the other, or the accomplishment of getting to the top that I love more.

Korean food through the eyes of this American expat.

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I haven’t mentioned much about the food in Korea. The truth is: I LOVE Korea, but I struggle with the food. It isn’t Korea’s fault. They dig lots of spicy grub, chili paste, and fish (often raw plain sliced fish.)

and I am just a girl who doesn’t dig that stuff. I’ve also never been a big meat eater which has proven to be a bit of an issue living in Korea.

When I eat something spicy my mouth feels on fire. It hurts. The smell of raw fish makes my stomach turn…and chili paste is a staple ingredient in cooking here. Oh, and the garlic. It melts off the skin of those who eat, and love it in Korea. If you have lived here awhile- you know exactly what I mean.

I so desperately wish I could love the food like my husband does. He craves Korean food. I can’t even imagine what that feels like. I’m over here like #PassTheCheesePlease and #WhereMySaladBeAt?

I love Greek food, I CRAVE Italian food, I enjoy some delicious Mexican food, and yup. I’ll admit it. I love me some classic American food. Indian food?  You bet! I can’t get enough. Why, oh why, can’t I just love Korean food?

Here’s what a typical school lunch looks like in Korea. As a matter of fact this was my lunch today:

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I’d like to add that there was a spicy fish soup that came on the side that I couldn’t squeeze into this picture. So there was that.

…it isn’t  all bad. I have found some things in Korea that I do like, and I should also add most foreigners that I have met really love Korean food.  I’ll first explain the Hodok that is pictured above, and then I will show you 5 foods that I do like in Korea!

A new discovery! It’s sorta like a flat pancake with honey/brown sugar inside.

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1. Mandu:

If I had to explain… I would say it’s a cousin to the American “pot sticker.” Or maybe you call it a dumpling? Basically it’s a dough outside with meat/veggies inside. You can get all sorts of variety, but I stick to plain jane meat/veggie kind.

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2. Waffles:

It’s usually sold as a “street food” or sometimes in a coffee shop. I love them.

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3. Samgyetang:

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It’s fresh chicken soup. With an entire  mini chicken in it. It’s not spicy, and it doesn’t have garlic! The inside is stuffed with a little rice, green onions, and topped with just a bit of egg.

4. Japchae

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This doesn’t have seafood, chili paste, or a lot of garlic!!! Think stir fry. It has noodles made from sweet potatoes, sliced veggies, a pinch of mushrooms, and sometimes has slices of beef. They often times season it with soy sauce and/or sugar!

5. Pajeon:

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Also a pancake like texture. It is made mostly from flour, egg, and green onions. I like the one with sweet potato mixed in.

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Who knows, maybe by the time we leave Korea I will be a kimchi (fermented cabbage with chili paste) loving, spicy food craving, American kinda girl?

Dang. Odds are that I probably will never love that kind of food.

– I’ll just keep trying it with a smile on my face. (While my eyeballs feel like they are popping out of their sockets, and my tongue feels on fire.)

Do you enjoy spicy food?! I am still trying to understand what it is about spicy food that people love/crave.  I want to taste my food…not taste fire!!!

I’ll keep it cool over here :p

-elicia