Foreigners

There is simply no hiding it… I’m a foreigner.

Blond haired, hazel eyed, and 5’8″.

Yes, the Koreans in the elevator who wanted to take selfies with me verified it.

I have no clue what they were saying to me.

But at least through hand gestures I could figure out it was because I was so tall.

Oh yeah and they were definitely all business men.

Left that off in my Facebook post to avoid any naughty comments.

Not that I have friends who make naughty comments.

But one can never be too safe.

The weird thing was I had literally been walking back to the hotel thinking about how good for me it is that I do stand out.

I’ve realized during these days in Seoul that how as Americans I don’t think we can fathom what it is like to a foreigner.

I kid you not so much of what I see as I travel this city is written in English.

The spoken part – not so much – I’m very happy to have a translator with us.

But given my physical appearance – every single person I pass knows I’m lost.

No matter how confidently I  walk, how sure of myself I act… they are going to expect me to be lost.

So, I can cut myself some slack, not have it all together, and enjoy being lost.

That’s what I realized tonight at church.

Yes I can follow along with my English translation, but I literally have no idea what I’m doing or what they are saying. And I had to let go and just enjoy being a foreigner.

Somewhere in life I professed to myself that I had to have it all together.

And here I am, totally lost, taking selfies with strange business men in elevators… and the world hasn’t fallen apart.

Actually, the world feels just a little bit lighter.

And by the way the people were happily bowing to me at the sign of peace – they could care less if I’m lost too.

 

April Travels Bring…

It has been a while…  Five trips in one month. Less the one that I had to turn back from because of snow.

I am writing this from the other side of the globe.

Seoul, South Korea. (Yes, dear family and concerned friends who don’t read this blog or even know of its existence… south not north.)

Seoul is a place I never imagined visiting.

I was nervous about the flight but it wasn’t a problem… It may have helped that I had four seats I could lie across. Jet lag was better than Europe. (I may eat those words on the return trip.)

But this city:

It is gorgeous.

Men in business suits.

Clean city streets.

People who get where they want to go but without rushing.

Nearly no horns honking despite the heavy traffic.

Old and new mixed.

Women’s style which seems to have no rules of fashion. Does this cut down on peer pressure?

Kids under immense amounts of pressure for education but happily sidling down the sidewalk.

Men in business suits walking beside the river on lunch break.

English and Korean.

Korean characters – artistic and complete devoid of meaning for me.

Safety – to the point that elementary and middle school students walk the streets unsupervised.

Rocks neatly placed as stepping stones across the river.

The world’s 14th largest city…

… with space for plants and flowers on every corner.

In short  – feng shui.

It is harmony. I may never fully understand this culture, this people, and most definitely not this language.  But I definitely learned something today.

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Hindsight

This song.

It is good for good days and bad days.

Yesterday was a good day.

I have one friend who I hang out with, and when I’m with her I immediately realize if something is up or not with me. Why? Because all my walls come down with her. So if I realize I’m not relaxed and myself with her, it means that something is bothering me that I haven’t realized yet.

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That is what happened last week. We went to get pedicures (one of my three guilty pleasures) and I came home realizing I had been space-y. Time to go back to the drawing board (aka journal) and figure out what has been eating away at me.

It is funny how our emotions get such a bad rap…  How we hide from what we are afraid of facing as if it somehow will make it go away… How little by little we have to realize that emotions aren’t something to be feared but something beautiful… And how we need not be afraid of them because we are strong enough to handle them…

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So while traveling Canada and supervising middle schoolers on a diet of chicken and French fries. I managed to pick up some weight… How much? Who knows. But enough for my clothes to fit differently for the first time in probably over year.

 

Insert… freak out… Me grappling with what to do… Reminding myself that I didn’t need to freak out… Cycling between, “You have to stop eating now” and “You need to eat healthy.” So I watched what I ate for a week, restricted some, drank lots of water. But I was grappling.

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So what was bothering me, not the weight, or the grappling… I sat down and realized, I needed to accept that I DIDN’T LIKE THAT I HAD GAINED WEIGHT EATING CHICKEN AND FRENCH FRIES. And That. Is. Okay. We are not supposed to gain weight eating chicken and French fries. My therapist always used to tell me, that I had to gain healthy weight… not junk food weight (I might have a thing for cookies!)

Weight off the shoulders lifted.

Accepting emotions.

Accepting that I can have a negative thought/feeling about food that is normal.

Have I stopped eating? No.

Am I watching what I’m eating? Yes.

Am I restricting? Maybe some. And I have to watch that and be perfectly honest with myself.

But back to that song about what faith can do. I also realized that I am doing something I once thought was impossible. I am mindfully eating. I literally reached a point when I thought such a thing existed but I had lost hope of every getting back there. But the fact is that in February I got a really bad stomach bug. I couldn’t keep anything in me for four days. And I started to worry. I’m at a healthy weight but there isn’t a lot of me to lose. I knew it would take time to get back to where I had been before. But then I realized maybe I didn’t want to go back there. I used it as a reset. And for the first time in nearly eight years, I am eating when I’m hungry.

If I get hungry at 10am I have a snack. But you are going to eat lunch in 2 hours. And so what? I am hungry and I’m going to feed my body, my mind, and my spirit. Because I deserve it!

I have always been overly optimistic about recovery. I believe the mind is  very powerful. I’ve had a zillion people tell me to lower my expectations. I still don’t know what recovery looks like completely, but I prefer to be overly optimistic and spent my whole life fighting for it, than to settle for some version of “You will always have the eating disorder.”

(Not that I would ever erase what I’ve learned through this – because I’ve finally realized that God is bigger than my eating disorder, now, in the past, or if I were ever to relapse – that is me breathing a deep sigh of relief and letting go of the HUGE fear I’ve had of relapse, because even if I’m different, it happened once and there is no way to prove it might not ever happen again.)

Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe in a recovery that is true freedom. (Not freedom from struggles – those are part of life.) But a true freedom, which comes through trust… trusting myself, trusting those around me, and trusting my God.

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I didn’t think the way I’m mindfully eating was possible. And here I am doing it. Perfectly, not yet. But I’m doing something I didn’t think was possible.

Yesterday, I had a great day at work. I was able to have a discussion and a meeting that gave me a vision forward. I’ve been working on a particular project and difficult situation for over a year, and yesterday finally I saw some fruit from all of that. I have cried more tears over this situation than I can count. And I realized yesterday that I am different. Not only is the situation nearly resolved, but I am a different person – for the better.

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Yesterday was one of those days when you realize how  far you have come, when things come together, when  you realize what faith can do.

Don’t give up! Believe in the impossible! Let yourself be surprised!

2 for 2

So I’m 2 for 2 on not running the races I’ve signed up for this year… The marathon because I will be out of the country. The Holy Half at Notre Dame this morning because we couldn’t make it there because of the snow last night… Which I felt better about when it got called off due to weather this morning.

I’m relieved. I needed a day to sleep in and veg in my sweats.

I’m also dreading the long run on my own that I need to get in today. Not dreading the run… Dreading the fact that I will do it on a treadmill. I’m DONE with running in the snow. Luckily it looks like the weather may finally turn next week.

March came up with 86 miles despite the fact that I only got one long run in.

It is a good thing I dropped out of the marathon. I don’t have time for the long runs.

But I have to get one in today because I’ll be traveling again next weekend.

So I’ve read a few articles this week about cheating in racing. The woman who is permanently banned from the Boston Marathon for giving her bib to someone else and using that person’s time to qualify for the next year’s race. The woman from what it seems cut the course in Canada’s Ironman. I rarely have time to read an article in its totality (much less blog)… But I found myself riveted. I can’t imagine what would motivate someone to do that. (But then again I also know when I make mistakes I often find myself incomprehensible.) But I am not here to question them, what I did find myself focusing on is my love for the run.

We are racing against ourselves. That was the point I loved in the Miller article. That is what I love about the longer distances. I know it is highly unlikely that I would win. 5ks and 10ks – there is a possibility of winning and I’ve won my fair share. Winning is a great feeling. But more than winning I like the feeling of challenging myself, pushing myself to the limit, pushing myself farther than I thought I could, feeling free, feeling strong, feeling powerful.

That is what I why I run. That is why my run today will be great – even on a treadmill in the gym. Because that feeling goes with me not matter where I run. (I’ll just miss the race day adrenaline.)

I don’t want to be better than everyone else. I want to be my best. And that is what I learning by running.

 

Busy!

Too busy to blog…

A good problem – maybe…

Life is busy…

And I blog to take time to sit down and find myself… Someone I know  used the expression: “confront myself”

It is the habit of practicing mindfulness towards ourselves.

To feel.

To think.

To process.

I spent eight days traveling. Seeing so many things (I’ll blog about that later.) But it is necessary to come back and regroup.

But April is a month of 30 days and 5 trips for me. So I guess I will be learning new ways to find myself.

And you find  your moments…. On the back of the 1000 Island tour boat standing on the back deck of the boat staring at the water and the grey skis…

… at the end of the pier in Montreal staring up at the city skyline watching the sunset…

… In the silence of the massiveness of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal breathing in the awesomeness…

… Feeling the reverberations of the majesty of Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls from “Behind the Falls”…

Those were the moments of finding myself as I ate more chicken and French fries (I think we need to review the tour menus for next year) and put students to bed.

We are not alone. We always have ourselves. But we can’t forget about ourselves.