Pagoda along a stream near my school; from my walk home.
Grateful to feel full of energy today! Fully rested and sparked; hope to keep it up and maintain it through the day!
Grateful for awareness of not wanting to be fully aware of what hides behind my habits; fear is surfacing and it is terrifying... but I am working to be ready and manage it.
Grateful for my lovely plants that brighten my metaphorical and literal views!
Grateful for good friends, co-teachers, and students.
Grateful for healing paths and people leading me down them; for the opportunity to heal.
Grateful that I am recognizing the process is slow, and almost accepting that!
Grateful for financial prosperity and having the icey, silvery despair of money fears flowing through my soul like mercury, alleviated.
Grateful to feel prosperous and "well off"
Grateful for my apartment, which despite the constant clanging and banging of construction out my window, I love very much.
Grateful for my bath tub!
Grateful for massages and body treatments that cost less than $15 USD! (Yeah, wow!)
Grateful that the air is not too bad so far!
Drug myself to a Turkey Day party. The holidays don't make me feel happy or connected, but I am glad I went :-)
I am grateful for starting over --maybe every day--but I keep starting.
I am grateful for friends who care about me.
I am grateful that at the darkest pit of the deepest well, I know that there is still light at the top, and a rope to help me upward.
I am grateful for my new mattress that, along with my heated bed pad--makes my bed so hygge and luxuriously warm!
I am grateful for the herbal medicine tea I drink, it tastes good and makes me feel good.
I am grateful that despite the bad habits, I still have good ones.
I am grateful for my new plants and flowers which make my home so lush and colorful.
I am grateful that the air is not so bad and that it might not get terribly horribly polluted this winter.
I am grateful for my friend and co-worker, JoAnna, that got me a cute stuffed pig.
I am grateful for financial prosperity, that I have an abundance now and am free from the poverty and struggle of the last few years.
I am grateful I get to visit India, the Philippines, or Indonesia for Chinese New Year vacation.
I am grateful to have those choices and opportunity and the money to enjoy traveling.
I am grateful to live in China.
I am grateful for my job.
I am grateful to have met a few truly kind, loving, and accepting people here. M. and M., you warm my heart.
I am grateful to know the fear exists, even if I cannot yet face it.
I am grateful for my TCM doc.
I am grateful to see my friend Capt. Andy, who will be gallivanting across China in December; it's been 10 years!
I am grateful that now and then, I can get myself "out there" even when I don't want to.
Finally starting to bond with the kiddos. Took me several months to get into a rhythm this year. I am grateful for my awesome co-teachers and sweet kiddos.
I am grateful for my new mattress topper, gawd I can sleep better and actually jump into bed now. Chinese mattresses, like Korean ones, are rock hard. Sleeping with torn rib cartilage on a rock is uncomfortable.
I am grateful for all my new plants! They have dampened the construction noise, enhanced my view, and added privacy; plus, it's just lovely to look out onto a lush jungle when it is cold and damp and grey outside.
I'm grateful for my new TCM doc and the herbal medicine I drink daily. I hope it is undoing some of the damage the past 8 months in China--and the past 30 years of habits--inflicted on my body-mind-soul. There a few habits I can't seem to break that are really driving me nuts right now. My motivation and discipline are buried in a trench somewhere, and I can't locate them. But I keep trying.
I am grateful I have friends here whith whom I can enjoy life.
I am grateful there is a lot going on in Chengdu; I choose to participate or not--but there are options. And my friend Andy is traversing China for a month--we will have some fun times in various provinces, and I will get to see some places I have not yet visited!
Days and weeks like these of recent times are when it is imperative for me to recall reasons for gratitude to my heart and mind. The classroom is a daily struggle with the new co-teacher who frequently negates my ideas and a class full of 26 children who do not comprehend or communicate in English (supposedly an International school but has turned into an ESL school) I feel powerless. Construction occurs startingat 5:30am across the street from my building--constant clanging and banging and smashing is smashing my nervous system and sense of peace and the idea that my home is a refuge. The majority of my day is spent feeling down, uninspired, and frustrated in the classroom, and it is followed by overwhelming noise until after 9pm. I fell last week on the slippery, unsafe streets of Chengdu, and now have the burden of injury to add to the emotional and mental burdens I carry. I feel the downward spiral of depression approaching. Once again, I am not using my tools.
However, I am grateful. I am grateful for awareness that I have slipped and am tunneling down the dark spiral. I am grateful I know what to do about it. I am grateful for my beautiful new apartment with its divine bathtub. I'm grateful for friends who care. I am grateful one of my co-teachers is helping smooth things over. I am grateful for my financial prosperity.
I need to find inspiration and creativity in the classroom once again.
Today I am grateful to have found a TCM hospital here in Chengdu. I am grateful for all my friends here who have shown their true beautiful colors by offering me help and assistance. I am blessed with friendships here.
I am grateful for my wonderful friends here in Chengdu; I am really lucky to have made so many good friends in such a short time.
I am grateful for my new apartment; I really love it. There are some drawbacks (less accessible storage space in kitchen and noisy construction across the street), but for those, there are solutions! I spent yesterday researching noise reduction applications while listening to background white noise loops (rain, wind, ocean waves, and the like) with earplugs in most of the day. They don't have construction noise regulations here, thus the noise wakens me around 5:30am each morning, and doesn't stop until after 9pm. There's no avoiding it, but there are solutions! The largest noise leak is from the windows, so I will invest in heavy duty noise-reduction blackout curtains. During my research, I learned ways to muffle sound in my extremely loud apartment. It's loud because I have marble and wood floors and bare walls, promoting sound. Most of yesterday I spent online shopping for rugs and wall tapestry and other sound-reduction items. Along with those, I might by a white noise machine.
The pros of my apartment still outweigh the cons, and I really love it!
I am also enjoying the UC Berkeley course and am so happy to have discovered it through email!
I am grateful!
I have begun another UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center Course: The Foundations of Happiness at Work. I am uber-excited about it! This aligns with my vacation kickstart of increased exercise and overall well-being practices that have been neglected since my move to China 6 months ago! In fact, my six-month anniversary as a resident of China was September 4! Wheee! 祝贺，吉娜! (Congratulations, Gina!) This course will involve much self-inquiry (which I enjoy), as well as reading (which I love), and is based on scientific research and empirical evidence (which I respect).
What I have noticed since I returned to Chengdu from my month-long exploration of the formerly-known-as- Kham-area of Tibet (colonized by PRC and now known as Western Sichuan), is that my stress levels are sky high due to both work stress and personal life events. My energy and desire to exercise has waned, my patience deteriorated, and my feelings of exasperation and frustration at work scenarios have exploded beyond manageable limits. In other words, I am really, really. really, unhappy with the work situation. But during all of this, I have been able to recognize that my reaction to the BS at work is causing the majority of my unhappiness. And my inability to control my reaction is a direct result of decreased exercise, asana, and meditation. I am tuning out with old habits instead of reducing my stress with my healthy tool kit. However, throughout the last few weeks, I have been aware of my stressful thoughts, feelings, and resultant actions. I am trying to practice a bit of self-compassion, when I can remember to do so! A lot has happened with the new school year and relocating to a new apartment. Half the stress has been caused by the move-- the other half by work conflict, drama, and other work-related happenings. I also realize that all of this is temporary, as I get settled in my new home, learn new collaboration techniques that work with new co-teachers, and work on my Self and my well-being.
This course will help me return to my center of balance and well-being, as well as bring useful tools to work for myself and my co-teachers. Yay! I have already started writing daily gratitude posts again, and this one action has helped immensely. I am looking forward to bringing more self-awareness to work (all day!), along with self-compassion, compassion to students and co-workers, and positive change--the biggest positive change being in my attitude, perceptions, and resilience!
Today, I am grateful for my new apartment
"...42 steps from the street... this is where we used to live... "
It seems like I live in luxury now... or again. All I want to do is reorganize and redecorate and get new furniture. I am in a home I can make hygge and have dinner parties...again! I envision dinner parties and girls' nights! Romantic evenings at home... in the marble bath! I see the Chinese tea cabinet and Tibetan furniture. I am creating walls of nature items: bamboo and plants and seeds and pods and flowers. I feel secure and settled here. I want to stay!
I am creating a home, and it feels so good!
Every time the word "apartment" comes up, the old song by Barenaked Ladies pops into my head, "The Old Apartment". A friend sent it to me during my recent move, and it carries my mind right back to Buffalo, NY, circa 2000: apartments and break ups and get-back-togethers, along with struggles and joys.
Struggles and joys, 2018 hasn't changed much from 2000 in that regard. While I have struggles -- many -- the overwhelming thought is gratitude. I do have a good life here in Chengdu, and I am very, very grateful! Is the job ideal? No. Is the city perfect? No. But my quality of life, including my job, new apartment, location, security, freedom, friends, increased prosperity, and access to transportation, healthcare, food, travel, and mountains, has increased so much that it overshadows the inconveniences, the language and culture challenges, the hassles of living in a foreign country. I am very, very grateful!
#3 Anything is possibly in China.
#4 Nothing is easy in China.
So while everything takes me 3-5x as long to accomplish as it would in the US, or even another country, it gets accomplished. I have friends to help me, a "Cultural Liaison" at school, a pretty cush job that provides me with abundant funds, my new apartment is stellar in so many ways, and so much more. Each time I sit down and think about all that I have, and compare it to life in Austin, I am so, so, so grateful I can hardly bear it. I truly feel wealthy here. I have a lifestyle that affords me little extras I never even considered in Austin. My working hours are pleasant and I work with people I truly like.
I am lucky. I am blessed. I am grateful.
I still need to consistently bring to mind that life is cyclical. Here, it is cyclical on an hourly basis. I still need to sustain my meditation and yoga practice, remember The Four Agreements --especially at work-- and work on patience and compassion in the classroom. Actually, I need to remember patience and compassion for myself first!
Life is great! I am grateful!
Walking around the new digs: two butterflies were dancing around my head, banana trees along a (polluted) stream, an old man catching crayfish and minnows in another (polluted) stream, cool cafe I want to visit sometime, and moi listening to some theme music on the walk!
Although I started the day with worry about finding movers--having been unsuccessful the day before--I decided to be unstressed about it. I would do what I could do and refrain from worry, which is useless. By the time noon came, I had movers set and my day planned. I headed over to my new HOME, which is spectacular! I have a divine, large bathtub, an wide and open patio, a solarium alcove in the bedroom, and a foyer beyond the front door. I will miss my city view and the living room/dining room furniture is undesirable, but I can adjust to both.
I am so grateful for this new apartment and the fact that moving will be easy. You see, one rule in China (for foreigners) is: Nothing is easy. And dang if that ain't the truth! Every single aspect of life feels like a struggle most of the time. So to find a moving service that will come and pack, move, and unpack all my belongings is a real treat. They'll do everything except tuck me in to bed that night, as a matter of fact! My Ayi (affectionate term for housekeeper) will spiffy up the place tomorrow and the movers will get me moved in Monday or Tuesday night, leaving Wednesday night open for my first Birthday Dinner. Yes, I said "first".
After inspecting the new apartment, I walked around searching for a restaurant my friend had recommended. I discovered so many cool places around my new digs!!! Lots of great places to visit in the future! And beautiful. I decided the restaurant would be perfect for my second Birthday celebration (the dangerous one) and also found a cake shop. It's not Tous Les Jours, but this one led me to a second --local-- boulangerie where I will order my Birthday cakes! Yes, cakes is meant to be plural: one for Wednesday and the second for Saturday!
Wednesday, a few of us will have dinner at Kathmandu, owned by one of my Kham friends. Saturday, the craziness will begin at Commune--who knows where it will end. Those of you who are my close friends know all about my famous/infamous birthday celebrations! Alas, no parades to crash, and I doubt we will be asked to leave this restaurant bar heeheehee, but hey, that's to be seen, right?
Beside being grateful for my new place, movers, and my upcoming Birthday Festivus, I am very, very, very grateful that I was able to resolve some conflict at work that has been going on since day 2. With that solved for the most part, my apartment contract signed, movers found, Festivus locale settled, and a dulce de leche cake being prepped for the big day, my greatest concern is what I will select at Ikea tomorrow. I love that kind of stress!
The skies have been so clear and bright the past few days. I've always taken clear air and blue skies for granted, especially in overheated Texas, several wind-blown Caribbean isles, the mountains of North Carolina, and in the breezy seaside town of Korea in which I resided. Now, on a clear day, when the clouds transform the sky into a an artful masterpiece, I can see the mountains in the distance, slightly west, and buildings so many kilometers away; I am amazed at clear blue skies. I feel wistful that the fall will come and bring winter and pollution and near-black skies during the day and sickness from lung problems resulting from air pollution.
In the evening, the clouds skirt around the sun, a quick game of hide-and-seek prior to the sun finding its overnight hiding place. Even in shades of greys and whites, pale blues and pinks, the designs of the clouds amidst the rays of sun is spectacular. Every night, it's seems as if I have never witnessed a clear, blue sky or a stunning performance of the sun setting. Wonder-struck, I gaze out at the older apartment "village" below me as the roofs darken and the lights brighten with the contrast from late afternoon yellow to evening blues. Even now, I watch the shadow of my building creep across those same roofs, as the sun rises; the greyness ceding to bright polychromes as the sun rises behind my building, and the rays shine on the oldness of the "Village" buildings, making them shine sparkling like new.
I feel like I'm in the same rut as before I left on my spectacular month-long adventure. Work is stressful, I'm exhausted at the end of the day, I just want a glass of wine, I'm too tired to exercise or cook, I feel down about the work situation. I feel disappointed in for reacting to the situation at work instead of pausing, breathing, thinking, and remaining calm. The struggles are real, with my apartment and language. The stress is real with new co-teacher language barrier and personality differences, leadership mandates that are harmful, and overseas teacher drama. But ultimately, how I react to all of this is what affects my peace of mind and creates the exhaustion, ill-temper, and feeling "down in the dumps".
What will help me most of all is looking for the positives, of which there are still so many--more than negatives! I also need to go to sleep earlier to quell the feeling of exhaustion, and exercise! Earlier to bed means I'm up earlier, feel refreshed, and have time for yoga. In the last two weeks, I have started each day feeling overwhelmingly tired, and then, simply, overwhelmed.
For what is there to be grateful? This one is easy! The lease on my new apartment is finalized, so I can move in by month end. My new place will be a home I can make for years to come! It has a bathtub! I haven't had a bathtub since NC (it was small and fiberglass) or one that I used regularly since living on the east side of ATX in 2010-11! This one is large and set up for weekly spa nights of self-care! It also has an open balcony, with the AC units placed elsewhere outside the building, so I can actually use my balcony! In my current apartment, the ACs are on the patio, making it both ugly and unusable because the exhaust maintains a temperature of about 120F. It also has a larger refrigerator, a dish sanitizer, a microwave, and more appealing kitchen. The master bedroom in this 2 bedroom/2 full bath has a solarium alcove where my happy self is going to design a writing/reading/creativity space (need that specific red Ikea club chair that I have in every house)! The third of my favorite aspects of this new house is the foyer entryway: my door is at the end of the hall away from elevators, the foyer will be a place to keep dirty shoes out of the apartment (yes, I am OCD), and this apartment is out of the damn electric payment room, which means my apartment won't shake day and night as people come and go at all hours to pay recharge their damn utility card (which is directly outside my front door now, so the door is slammed at all hours, which shakes my front door and vibrates all the way back to my bedroom at 4am in the morning--no wonder I don't sleep well)!
My friends at school keep mentioning my Bday, which is next Wednesday, which is wonderful: I have people that care about me and with whom I can celebrate! I still have to figure out the Where and When! I am so grateful for the friendships I have formed so quickly here in Chengdu!
Even though it's been a rough start at school, I am confident that we can create a positive relationship with the new co-teacher and undo some of the damage from the conflict that has arisen nearly every day. I am lucky to have the same teacher from last year, whom I love and with whom I get on so well. This conflict dynamic offers a good opportunity for me to self-reflect and work on my communication skills--as usual. But damn it's painful!
I'm grateful that I am prosperous enough now to enjoy regular vacations, an ayi (cleaning service), and movers, in addition to saving money each month. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to travel to Nepal or Mongolia or wherever I wish during upcoming vacation breaks... that or buy a new motorcycle! I am grateful to be self-reflective and aware. I am grateful for the tools I have to help get me out of this rut, like this gratitude post, The Four Agreements, a wonderful Asst. Principal who actually listens and responds to my concerns and feedback, friends who encourage me, a great school in which to work, and opportunities!
I am grateful!