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Five Thangs Friday Life Lately

Five Thangs Friday

Wowwee! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted on this corner of the internet, but I’ve been itching to write/create/speak so cheers to me bringing PseudoMidlifeCrisis back! The last year I’ve learned so much and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how therapeutic words can be. SO even if no one reads this, I know I’m healing myself a lil with each post.

Enough of that. I want to start light so here are five things this week that humored/amused me.

#1 This Kid

Real talk – she will probably always and forever be my #1 for any list, even 5 thangs Friday. But let me explain this picture. This here is my daughter, the thief. You see that chocolate on her face? She stole that out of my purse. This was her face when she got caught. Cutest thief ever.

#2 Goghing on a Date Night

Pun TOTALLY intended. My husband and I finally got out of the house after what felt like five million years to go on a date. We had tickets to see the immersive Van Gogh exhibit. Overall, it was super fun! The music and the animation of the paintings were beautifully done. Of course, the creme de la creme was the abundance of “Gogh” puns scattered throughout.

#3 A Potential New Hobby

School is officially out for the summer so that means I have more time for hobbies, like crafting. A girl I know posted an instagram photo of yarn art and I was immediately enthralled. *cue trip to Michaels* I tried my hand at it the other day, but it didn’t come out to my liking. I’ll be playing around with it more and hopefully, by next Friday, I have results to share.

#4 Good Ole Thrift Shopping

Nothing puts me in a better mood than a good deal! Today, I found I had some spare time so I hit up a Salvation Army. I recently got rid of the majority of my clothes because they didn’t bring me joy (or more likely they didn’t fit as I would have liked) so I have space in my closet that obviously must be filled. I found a few super cute pieces today! Score of the day was deffo the brand new Lululemon windbreaker that I scored for $4.

#5 My New Job!

Last but not least, I found out I secured my dream teaching job this week. Starting in August, I’ll be starting a new cluster program for students with moderate disabilities. It is my dream to start from scratch and to have complete autonomy over the program and I AM FLIPPING JAZZED!

So that rounds out my five thangs for Friday. After writing it all out, I have to say I had a pretty great week. On the downside, I am on my final taper of Lexapro so my brain feels like mush and my face is number, but things could be worse! I’m excited to be back in this space and hopefully you cannot wait for more word vomit from yours truly. XOXO.

On Judaism/Religion/Happiness

I saw this at a bookstore in Auckland and it made me stop. It also made me giggle a little. Was the store implying that religion and happiness are one and the same? Were they just short on shelf space and had to consolidate?

Religion is an interesting thing to me. Personally, I was raised Jewish… and Catholic, simultaneously. Think Star of David atop your Christmas tree and that was essentially my upbringing.

For me, it was hard to believe that either religion was “right” when I was raised as both. If Judaism was the word, why did we also practice Catholicism, and vice versa? Today, I’m a 25-year-old who identifies as Jewish, but only culturally. I feel a little gross writing that out to be honest.

When I see people going to church, or talking about their religion, I almost feel a twinge of jealousy. How nice it must be to truly believe that there is a power above you, guiding your life. How peaceful it must be to know that there’s more to life, after life!

I don’t have that. I have a lot of confusion about religion. In my head, Judaism and Catholicism swirls into a gross cone of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, that was left in the sun for a bit. Who was Moses again? Why is 12 a good coming of year age for a girl?

My brother and I in Israel

When I was 20, I went on my Birthright. Birthright is a trip sponsored by insanely rich Jewish homies (as well as the government) that brings Jewish kiddos from around the world to Israel for 10 day. To prove your Jewish roots, all you have to do is write a little blurb about it. My grandmother was active in the Jewish community and a big supporter of Magen David Adom. My family has a decent number of rabbis. My last name was Feldman. I was Jewish enough to pass.

To be Jewish goes beyond a religion. It’s an ethnicity too, which makes it quite interesting in terms of religions.

Going there, part of me expected to be thrown into the Jewish religion, but instead, I came home with a newfound appreciation for my Jewish culture. I could be Jewish without synagogue. I am Jewish every damn day because of my ancestors. I am Jewish in the same way that someone could be Swedish. That trip helped me settle into myself and my identity a bit.

The Israeli flag

Since that trip, I have been back to Israel twice more. Each time, I feel a bit more connected. I’ve found best friends who are Jewish who help me to understand my roots. I’ve developed an understanding for the intricacies of Israeli culture. Every time I go, I come home with a better understanding of myself and my ancestors.

All the hummus

I think there is a beauty in the Jewish culture that I hope to pass on to my children one day. The family time, the holidays, the time for thought. I love it. Parts of me wish that I was raised “more” Jewish so I could appreciate these more. From what I understand, pillars like these are in most religions, and it makes sense why people follow them.

Humans want to belong. Religion is a group that gives them that, and promises that life will go the way it is meant to go. It gives people hope and grounding. I understand that desire.

Am I religious? No. So I need to find my hope and grounding elsewhere. Do I think that religion means happiness? No. I think that if one relies solely on religion, they’re living quite a naive life. Do I understand and respect why people turn to religion? Yes, I do.

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Uncategorized

A Casual Day at the DMZ/North Korea

We have a scratch off map at home with all the countries we’ve been to, and I’m having a serious moral dilemma. Can I scratch off North Korea now that we’ve been to the DMZ?!

When we were in Korea a few weeks ago, we booked a tour to go to the DMZ – the area between North and South Korea that serves as a buffer zone. The tour included stops at the Doransan Station, 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, the Dora Observatory, Imjingak Park. The tour itself was $40 – so quite a good bang for your buck, in my opinion. Now let’s break it all down.

Dora Observatory

The Dora Observatory is an observatory (duh) that you can see North Korea from. Well, usually. The day we went was extremely hazy so this was the best that we could do.

View of Dora Observatory

According to our tour guide, on a clear day, you can actually see a North Korean town (although she claims it’s a facade and not an actual town). From the viewing deck, you can also hear North Korean propaganda music!

South Korean Artwork

Downstairs, they had videos playing about North Korea, as well as artwork made by South Koreans. All of the art centered around how it felt to lose family in the separation. The picture above was one of my favorite pieces. (For anyone looking for a latte – this is the one of two stops on the tour where you can get one. You’re welcome, in advance).

Imjingak Park

I will preface this by saying this is the second stop on the tour where you can get your coffee fix. Aside from that, this park is located in Paju, South Korea and is known for the Freedom Bridge there.

Train shot by North Korean military
A train that was shot by North Korean military that sits within the park
Train sign to North Korea
Prayer ribbons
Prayer ribbons put up by vistors
Prayer ribbons
South Korean army man
Obligatory South Korean cheerful army man near the entrance to the bridge

While Imjinak Park is an important landmark, as an outsider it was just an okay stop along the way. I think my favorite part would probably have to be seeing all those prayer ribbons, because it made the war and the separations that followed feel real to me. It made me understand that there are people, to this day, that are hurting because of it.

Dorasan Station

The next stop was a train station. Random, right? It’s actually the last train station in South Korea, and if trains were allowed, it would continue on to North Korea. Not so random after all, my friends!

Dorasan Station map

At the station, we learned that South Korea refers to itself as an island. If you look at the map above, if it weren’t for the inability to go through North Korea, you could hypothetically travel Europe via train from Seoul!

Dorasan station and tickets

At the station you can purchase a “ticket” to get inside the station. I guess it was cool to see where we would hypothetically catch a train to North Korea.

Ticket to Pyeongyang
The ticket – pretty official ya’ll

3rd Infiltration Tunnel

After the Armistace Agreement, South Korea found a series of tunnels that the North Koreans dug into South Korea. Most of them routed themselves to Seoul, making the South Korean believe that they were planning a massive attack on their largest city.

DMZ sign
Peep the soldier with the peace sign between the M

Interestingly enough, North Korea claimed they were mining for coal, and after getting caught, painted the interiors of the tunnel black to look like coal.

DMZ

We decided not to go down into the tunnel as it was incredibly crowded but did watch the video that South Korea made to discuss the tunnels. Holy propaganda guys! If you get the chance, go to the tunnels and watch the video. Bring some popcorn. It’s pretty damn amusing.

DMZ chocolate
Didn’t purchase this, but was mildly amused by it.

Also – pro tip, buy the hoodies at the gift shop there. They are the comfiest hoodies I’ve ever owned.

In Conclusion…

No travel post would be complete without a food pic, so here ya go! For lunch that day, we had a choice between bulgogi or bimbimbap. We both went for the bulgogi and it was surprisingly delicious. Lunch was served in what looked like an old government building and was buffet style. I would just like to point out that they had cherry tomatoes in the dessert section. I did not snap a pic because I was too infuriated by the fact that someone could call tomatoes a dessert.

Traditional Korean lunch

At one of the many gift shops, we picked up a bottle of North Korean liquor. It was fine. It tasted like plum wine and communism.

North Korean liquor

That’s all folks! I personally enjoyed the tour, although I don’t know how much of that is just because I can now (kind of) say I’ve been to North Korea. If anyone is looking to book it, book it far in advance as they do tend to sell out! We went through a tour group called Kooridoor, although there are numerous other tours that go out that way.

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Sparking Joy

On Blank Canvas

My husband and I are very systematic people. We thrive on routine and schedules. When we’re on vacation, there’s an Excel sheet that goes along with our days. Letting go is difficult for us.

A few months ago, we took a trip to Texas, which included a few days in Austin. While there, we were inspired by the creativity of the park, and decided that when we got home, we would dabble in creative things.

When we returned, I went to Michaels and bought canvases, water colors, acrylic paints, too many paintbrushes, a pack of oil pastels and some chalk. This bag of supplies remained hidden in a closet for the next three months, as we were always too busy, or not in the mood to do something creative.

Last night, we took the bag out of our hiding space, lined our dining table with paper and cut a cardboard box up to use as our palette. We sat there with our supplies and our blank canvases. We hesitated. There was no system or rules to follow for painting. It felt uncomfortable.

We each picked up a paintbrush, and poured some paint on our “palettes.” We didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t know proper technique. We mixed acrylic with watercolor, and I’m still not sure if that was kosher.

We painted last night, and it was scary in the strangest sense of the word. It reminded us that we need to do things like that more often. We thought about how silly we would look to children – how can these adults not know what to do? It’s clear – you just pick up a brush and you paint!

Last night was a good night. We may not have made masterpieces, but we rediscovered what it means to let go and create. We turned those blank canvases into something, and that felt pretty damn nice.

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Sparking Joy

When Your Commute is LONG AF

I was spoiled – spoiled rotten. My old commute was an easy 12-minute drive down the highway. We moved recently, and now my commute into work is about 30 minutes and my drive home is anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. That’s a total of at least one hour of driving a day! 60 minutes! 3600 seconds, if you will!

It’s going to take me a while to get used to this new drive, but I’m trying to be positive and proactive during this time. I’ve done this drive now for five days and here are some things I’ve been doing to fill that drive time purposefully.

#1. Podcasts

I go through phases with podcasts. One week I can’t get enough of them. ALL THE KNOWLEDGE, AT MY FINGERTIPS? LETS LISTEN TO ALL OF THEM! One week later, and I can’t stand the sound of anyone’s voice. I’ve been listening to podcasts, especially on my drive home this past week and it’s been a nice feeling to know that I’ve learned at least one thing every day. I’ve been trying to diversify the podcasts I listen to and have found several amazing ones! It’s kind of amazing – there’s a podcast on pretty much any topic!

What I listened to this morning – love me some Wellness Mama!

#2. Upbeat Music

It’s hard to get myself out of bed, dressed and to work. My body wants nothing more than to stay in bed, eat paleo pancakes and binge watch Netflix. With that being said, it can be difficult to be jazzed about the day ahead of me. Listening to my monthly playlist on my drive in, even if it’s just for a portion of the drive, has been helping me put myself in a better mood. Sure – you can be cranky your whole drive in, and possibly all day long, but why do that when music can change your mood almost instantaneously? Lately, I’ve been loving this playlist that I’ve screenshot below!

#3. Phone calls

I try to talk to my parents and sister regularly – at least every other day but preferably daily. It’s difficult to find time to sit for a phone call with everyday life, when you’re running to and from but I’ve been finding that I call my dad every morning. It gives me a solid uninterrupted half hour to catch up with my dad, and have more meaningful conversations than I was able to fit into my 12-minute drive. So in a way, my commute has been helping me strengthen my relationships with my family, and that is a beautiful thing.

#4. Mindfulness

I’ve written about being mindful, and specifically about driving mindfully in the past, however I’ve been able to take it to a whole other level with my new drive. For starters, this drive allows me to watch the sunrise every morning. Not only do I get to watch the sunrise, but I get to watch it rise over the beautiful Chicago skyline! It’s something special every morning, and I am hoping that that beauty never gets old for me. My drive gives me a good chunk of time to sit, be still (for the most part) and think. Sometimes, I think about the scenery that spills out in front of me. Sometimes, I think about my day ahead. It’s just a great time to process my thoughts. I’ve been enjoying listening to Petit Biscuit and just noticing/thinking/taking life in on my drives to and from work each morning, and it’s helped me calm myself down. It’s also allowed me to observe my surroundings more, and sometimes I’m gifted with something humorous, like this protest sign I saw.

#5. HYDRATION!

I drink a decent amount of water throughout the day, but I’ve found that my morning and afternoon commute is a great time to put away some water! In the morning, my mind is on coffee and I tend to forget about water. For the last week, I’ve been drinking a bottle of water and a thermos of tea on my drive in, and a bottle of water on my drive home. When there’s not much else to do, it makes drinking water easy!

So that’s five things I’ve been trying to do whilst battling Chicago traffic. How do you pass time on your commute? I tried to do some tasks, like paying bills, but reading account numbers off paper and staying in lanes turned out to be a more difficult task than I am capable of!

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Thoughts

When You Don’t Meet Goals

Real talk: it is February 16th. We are more than halfway through with the month and I… have not read a single book. I have also not gone to a single new workout class. I have been far more conscious of my spending and been more mindful, but I feel like a big, fat failure. Earlier in the month, I set four monthly goals for myself to achieve by February 28th. I realized today that I will (probably) not be meeting two of them this month. As a certified type A human, this has been making me feel quite bad.

It’s been on my mind all morning, and I think I’ve finally found a way to come to peace with this. Yes – I won’t be meeting my goals this month, but why? Well, we moved, and that took a ton of time and energy out of me. Like a lot of time and energy. I also started a new part time job, which has taken some time to figure out. It’s not like I didn’t meet the goals because I sat around on my bum all month. I was busy – packing, moving, unpacking, organizing – and so on and so forth.

So today, I’m here to tell you that sometimes it’s okay to not achieve what you originally set out to achieve. Sometimes, life gets in the way. Scratch that. Sometimes, life happens. It doesn’t get in the way – there is no way! So today, I’m freeing myself from the guilt of not achieving goals that I set out for myself. At the end of the day, I am doing what I need to do to be the best version of myself I can be.

I thought about it similarly to how I see workouts. Sometimes, you just can’t go all out. Sometimes you don’t have it in you because you’ve spent your energy elsewhere in life. In those instances, yoga or a walk can be more therapeutic for you than anything else.

It’s about balance, but it’s about long term balance. You can’t live a perfectly balanced life daily, where you give a little of yourself to everything that matters. It’s about how balanced your month, or year is.

This weekend is a three day weekend, and I’m going to use my time how I see fit. Sure, I could binge read books to achieve my monthly goal, and go to a new workout class today and tomorrow, but I have other things I want to do (like find where I packed my undies).

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Five Thangs Friday

Five Thangs Friday #2

It’s been a crazy week! We packed up our old house, closed on our new house and moved. I’ve also been working on my new part time job and learning the ropes, which has been taking a good amount of my time. Despite all of the life changes, I’ve been trying to stay true to my goal of being more mindful and more present. Without further ado, I present my FIVE THANGS FRIDAY!

#1. Books on books on books on books

One of the fun (or maybe not so fun) parts of moving is remembering what you have. My husband and I are huge bibliophiles. We dream of the day we have a library in our house, filled with walls of books and dark leather chairs. We were packing up our house this week, and realized we had 20 boxes of books. 20 boxes guys! I am so excited to find a home for all these books in our new home. Stay tuned to see what it all looks like!

#2. Green juice!

Eating healthily is a bit more difficult when moving, with limited food and all of our utensils in boxes. I was at Costco this past week and saw that they were offering these Suja green juices again! They tend to sell them during the spring, when people are getting ready for their summer bodies. These were delectable and much needed, after having eaten a diet consisting of falafel for a few days! If you see them, check them out! It’s hard to find true green juices that aren’t loaded up with fillers like apple juice!

#3. This podcast!

My hell yes/hell no mentality applies to my relationships as well. If I feel like a relationship is not giving me energy, I don’t want anything to do with it. As of lately, I’ve been thinking even more about what friendships are, and their cycles. I found this podcast last week and it was great! This episode in particular, really spoke to me and confirmed the decisions I’ve made for myself in regards to friendship. The women who host it are real and raw, and the topics are all so interesting. I can’t wait to listen to more of these!

#4. Valentine’s Day notes

Guys – how freaking adorable is this note? (Side note: he wrote identical ones for all the staff who work in our classroom). Valentine’s Day is special when you’re a teacher. I still see all the students nervously hand Valentine’s cards to their crushes, and we still have fun passing candy out in class. One student gave me some chocolate covered strawberries, and it absolutely made my day.

#5. This man (:

While we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, I do appreciate and love this man a little more each day. We got married when we were crazy young (I was 21 and he was 23) and have grown so much since then, both together and as individuals. I couldn’t imagine life without him – my adventure buddy, my support system and the love of my life. Moving this week made me reflect further on how much our lives have changed since we got married, and I appreciate and recognize all of the amazing, selfless things he does for me, and for our relationship.

So there it is folks – my five thangs Friday! I hope ya’ll have a spectacular weekend! Peace out, girl scouts!

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Sparking Joy

But…Will It Kill You?

Freaking out is my speciality. I freak out about everything: the weather, how much time I need to get to the airport, how many eggs are left in the fridge. My husband, on the other hand, is the coolest cucumber you’ll ever meet, and this has helped me grow. He always says to think about the worst case scenario. Will you die? Will anyone you love die? If the answer is no, then your problem is probably no biggie.

This is easier said than done. For example, this Monday I took a personal day. We get three a year, to use for personal reasons. This was also the first time I had taken a day at my current job. I freaked out. What if they reject it? What if my boss is upset with me? What if my classroom burns and I have to rewrite all the goal books I’ve made?

Today is Thursday – three days post freak out. Guess what? My day was approved. My boss does not hate me. My classroom is still functioning. Nothing happened. I took a personal day, and the world did not end.

I think it’s important to think about worst case scenarios. If you don’t get the job you applied to, you’ll find another one. If the boy you like doesn’t like you back – guess what? There are a ton of fish in the sea. If you don’t like fish, there are also some jellyfish. You’ll survive. I think too many people in our generation overthink what should be a simple decision. People are scared to move out because the place may not be perfect. If it’s not, you signed a one year lease. Life will move on.

In the grand scheme of things, we don’t matter. This is terrifying and relieving all at once. With this in mind, you should feel free to make decisions without mulling over them for a year. Follow your intuition – that sh*t is smart AF. Life is short, as it is. There’s no point wasting time on things that don’t matter in the long run. So, if your decision doesn’t have the ability to kill you, just do it.

What should you take time for, if not making decisions? Smelling the roses!