the wild

This Mumford & Sons song might be my favorite right now. I’ve had it on repeat for a few days. Music is definitely the quickest way for me to connect with my emotions. It doesn’t necessarily help me understand them, but if for sure helps me feel them. And I love the way music can take me right back to a time and place and all the emotions come right back; the good and the shitty.  And I want to remember this song and this moment in my life. I want to remember the “birth and death” that I’ve experienced over the past few years; the denial, the anger, the sadness, as well as the excitement and the newness. It feels very much like the wild.

The Wild
We saw birth and death
Can’t we be still
What makes you kind
From where comes your sparkling mind

Was it under the earth?
Tied up in a knot
Which I forgot you were ever there

Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid

What’s that I see?
I think it’s the wild
Puts the fear of God in me

And was there a grudge
Up from the dust
Inconceivable lie

What’s that I see?
I think it’s the wild
Puts the fear of God in me
–Mumford & Sons

And as I’ve been typing this, I had one of those memories and songs pop into my head. Shortly after my mom died I went for a drive. I did a lot of driving in those days and weeks following her death. I was driving up Provo Canyon near BYU, where I was a freshmen in college, in my little green Mitsubishi Eclipse with Tracy Chapman’s The Promise blasting from my CD player on repeat. I parked in one of the little turnouts part way up the canyon and just cried. I know that sounds kind of depressing (and it is pretty sad), but I love that if I ever want to feel close to my mom I can just turn that song on. It makes me cry every time. But sometimes I just need to miss my mom and cry. Even 23 years later.

The Promise
If you wait for me
Then I’ll come for you
Although I’ve traveled far
I always hold a place for you in my heart

If you think of me
If you miss me once in a while
Then I’ll return to you
I’ll return and fill that space in your heart

Remembering
Your touch
Your kiss
Your warm embrace
I’ll find my way back to you
If you’ll be waiting

If you dream of me
Like I dream of you
In a place that’s warm and dark
In a place where I can feel the beating of your heart

Remembering
Your touch
Your kiss
Your warm embrace
I’ll find my way back to you
If you’ll be waiting

Oh, I’ve longed for you
And I have desired
To see your face, your smile
To be with you wherever you are

Together again
It would feel so good to be
In your arms
Where all my journeys end
If you can make a promise
If it’s one that you can keep
I vow to come for you
If you wait for me

And say you’ll hold
A place for me
In your heart
–Tracy Chapman

too much

One of the themes that keeps coming up for me in therapy is, “Am I too much?” This fear plagues me. It keeps me from asking for help; like the “sit in the trenches and cry with me” kind of help. It keeps me from asking for what I need in relationships. It keeps me from being vulnerable. It paralyzes me.

“Am I too much?” It’s not even a question, really. It’s not, “Am I too much?” What I hear in my head and feel in my soul is, “I am too much.” And because I believe that, I hold back. I put up walls. People think I’m super open because I share facts. I’ll give anyone the rundown on the details of my life; the good stuff, the shitty stuff, the embarrassing stuff, all of it. In fact, most people probably know more facts about me than they ever wanted to know (definitely more than they needed). But the feelings…the feelings are mine.

People get glimpses. My closest people. The people who have proved over the years that they can be trusted. Who have shown me they love me no matter what. And I am so grateful I have those people. I have to relieve a little pressure now and then so I don’t explode. But even then, I’m usually telling them about my feelings more than letting them see me feel. I don’t even know if that makes sense to anyone but me, but I know what it means.

And I’m finally recognizing how this hurts me. How what I want more than anything is to feel connected, but that fear of being too much keeps me isolated. And I feel like it’s a total Catch 22. If I break down the wall, my fear is it will drive people away. But if I don’t, then I am still alone. Only one of those is actually real. So I’m trying.

I told my therapist, as we were talking about these feelings of isolation, that I just wanted to be able to solve this on my own. He responded with a wry smile, “So, you want to solve your isolation problem alone?” To which I replied, “Fuck you.” And then we both laughed. He knows me so well.

So, I’m taking steps. The first one is to get in touch with what I’m actually feeling. To lean into it. Let whatever it is just be. Not try to fix it. Not try to numb it. Not force it behind a wall. And not wrap it up in a package and say, “Look. See. I have this thing and I’ve placed it in this box and put a bow on it. And I can tell you what it is, so everything is okay.” Step one is to let myself feel and be curious about it. Compassionate curiosity is what my therapist calls it. And it’s fucking hard. I’m a problem solver by nature, so just letting myself be scared, or sad, or tired, or hurt, or whatever is a huge step in the right direction. It definitely doesn’t align with my problem-solving nature. But it’s helping.

Maybe I am too much for some people. Maybe I’m not. And maybe it doesn’t matter because I won’t ever be too much for my people. That’s what I want to believe anyway. Unfortunately, the first person that has to believe that I’m not too much is me. I need to be “my people” before anyone else really can be. And I just might be the hardest person to convince.

terms and conditions

With this new purpose, I feel like some terms and conditions would be useful to share. Especially for any of my friends or family who may have notifications on for my blog posts. So here we go.

  1. I will swear in my posts. Not the most important thing, but as the rest of these terms and conditions contain swears, I felt it was a good place to start. I have always been a bit of a swearer, but didn’t swear in any kind of public social media to be respectful of my friends/family/followers who are offended by swear words. Well, to me they are just words. And they are very effective for me to convey my emotions. If this bothers you, I respect that, and also just don’t read my blog. And maybe just stop here because, as already mentioned, the rest of these terms and conditions contain swears.
  2. I have turned off commenting. This was very intentional. This blog is now for me and all about my actual existential dilemmas. It helps to think about an “audience” as I’m writing, but not for the purposes of filtering for that audience or wanting validation. If it’s helpful for any readers, awesome. If not, that’s okay.
  3. If you know me personally and want to share some love for anything I’ve written, great. You know how to get in touch with me. If you have a difference of opinion or hate something I wrote or are sad because I seem sad/angry/frustrated, you are totally entitled to your opinions and feelings…AND I don’t give a shit and don’t want to hear about it. And I still love you. This might sound bitchy…because sometimes setting boundaries can sound bitchy. (There’s a great Brene Brown video here that I highly recommend if you don’t understand the importance of setting boundaries.)
  4. This blog is no longer going to be about my travels and cooking and all the “fun” stuff, but the emotional work that I doing. My instagram still has the fun stuff and you can follow me there. I may occasionally post some of the fun stuff, but it will be with an emotional purpose.
  5. I’m no longer a practicing or believing Mormon. I am not likely going to get into the reasons I left the Mormon church, but I will definitely be processing stuff related to my exit as it’s part of my daily life. This might be offensive to those of you still practicing/believing. If you don’t want to read about it, that is totally valid. We all need to do what works for us. I respect that. If you are still practicing and do choose to read it, DO NOT send me messages bearing your testimony, or telling me you hope I’ll come back, or links to great talks that helped you stay or that you think I might find valuable, or telling me how sad this makes you, or giving me advice for what I need to do to have enough faith. This has been a five-year plus process. I’m sorry if it’s shocking to you because I haven’t openly shared the struggle I’ve been going through. I have read all the talks, prayed all the prayers, tried all things. I made every effort possible to stay. I did not want to leave. I wanted it to work. It didn’t. And now I’m done. Please respect that decision. If it makes you sad that I left, that’s okay. You can be sad. You can feel however you feel and those feelings are valid. Just don’t tell me about them.
  6. I reserve the right to update these terms and conditions regularly.

rekindling my writing

It’s been almost three years since I’ve touched this blog. And even then it had been sporadic. My life has changed a lot. I’ve changed a lot. And now this blog is really for me. It’s been a round couple of years. Rough and amazing and exciting and wonderful. As change always is. At least for me.

I’m not going to try to capture it all in one post. That’s not what this is about anymore. But I do need to write. I miss writing. Not because I’m good at it. (I’m not.) I miss it because it helps me capture and process and reflect. And I’ve been pretty out of touch with myself for a while. Except for the hour I spend in my therapist’s office each week.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but what finally got me sitting here writing was a conversation I had with a guy the other night. We were talking about music and he played a Gregory Alan Isakov song for me called Too Far Away. He asked me what I thought it meant. Being one who likes to have the right answers, even thought I’m pretty sure that’s not what he was looking for, I told him I’d think about it. He joked that I should write him an email with my thoughts on it. And that’s what finally motivated me to sit down to my computer and write something completely unrelated to work or “getting shit done.” (Which is the only kind of writing I’ve done for years, really.)

Even though I wasn’t really planning to write him an email, I have listened to the song about 100 times since then and it’s helped me process some emotions. I think music is such an amazing gift, like any art form, except for me there’s something about music that just helps me feel and see things differently; that helps me get in touch with whatever is going on deep inside; the things I always want to keep deep inside, but need to be let out.

Here are the lyrics from the official website:

hey, how have you been
since you let in
the clouds through your window as it rained

the last time we spoke
you were glued to that telescope
i heard you say it was too far away
was it too far away

me, i’ve been fine
i work most of the time
digging for secrets deep in the ground

a few days ago
they called for that big snow
man, i thought that i would never get warm
did you ever get warm

all inside the rain
we carry what we’re able
among the sewer rats and angels
and all of us in between

before i go
i’ll leave you with this poem
about the galvanized moon and her rings in the rain

For me, this was a conversation between two versions of myself. That’s the short version anyway.

seoul round three

I know there are a number of people who question my love of Seoul, but I love it. Maybe because it was my first Asian city outside of Japan. Maybe it was because when I went for the first time it was magical. Maybe it’s just my love of Korean food. Whatever it was, I fell in love right away, so I was happy to go again when my dear friend, Oliver, told me he was going to be there for work. His wife very kindly gave him the “ok” to head out of the country a few days early so we could meet up and play tourists. And to make the trip even better, I got to stay at my friend Jaclyn’s house and visit with her. It was another amazing trip!

And here are my favorite things to do in Seoul. (These are just in chronological order from this trip.) One quick tip for all attractions: be sure to check what days places are open as there are a lots of things closed on Mondays and some on Sundays and Tuesdays.)

img_7948DMZ/JSA Tour – I did the DMZ tour on my first trip to Seoul and loved it, but I didn’t realize at the time that there was a difference between a tour of the DMZ and a tour of the
JSA. The JSA requires a bit more advance planning (the tours fill up fast) and it’s the only area where you can actually set foot on North Korean soil from South Korea. So, this time I made sure that I got to do a tour of both. It was amazing. And intense. And I highly, highly recommend it. I booked us through a company called Cosmojin and they were fantastic.

 

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View into North Korea

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That little curb between the two buildings is the border between South and North Korea. You can even see a North Korean soldier standing at the top of the steps in from of the large building in the background.  

 

Itaewon – this is a cool little neighborhood that reminds me of a tame Harajuku. Great restaurants and lots of people watching.

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Spicy tofu at Jonny Dumpling. So delicious!

img_8036Nanta – This is a kind of musical / performance art / comedy show. I don’t know how else to describe it, but it’s super fun and equally ridiculous. This was the second time I’ve seen the show, but it was made even better that the first because Oliver got called up on stage and he was perfection. They said no photos, but of course I managed to sneak a few.

Myeong-dong – This is one of two central shopping districts in Seoul. I like this one because it’s not too huge and crazy AND has amazing food stands. Olive made a great partner in food adventures, which is needed you’re going to try everything you want to without wasting a ton of food.

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Changdeokgung Palace Secret Garden Tour – The palace itself is impressive, but it’s the Secret Garden that really makes this one worth visiting. It’s absolutely stunning. During peak times in the fall and spring it can be difficult to get tickets, so plan ahead. It’s one of my favorite palace/shrine/equivalents in all of Asia.

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I love doors, especially old ones in gates or walls. This one was so pretty. I wish my photo did it justice.

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The War Memorial of Korea – My friend Heather took me here the first time I went. It’s such an interesting place. And bonus, this time, there was this amazing Korean calligraphy temporary exhibit. There’s a beautiful exhibit of a teardrop made from dog tags that I absolutely love, as well. In addition to this, just around the corner from the museum is this amazing little hole-in-the-wall fish place. We weren’t able to make it because it was closed the day we went, but if you can go, do it!
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Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Nation Folk Museum of Korea – These are basically connected so you can plan to do them both on the same day. This palace is massive. In addition to that, they do a kind of “changing of the guard” which is very fun to see. (I didn’t take any photos of the Museum because we didn’t go there this trip…no time…but you can see my photos from my first trip here.)

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How adorable are these munchkins?!

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Oliver: “I am walking where Psy walked.”

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Janet’s Cooking Studio – I’m sure there are several Korean cooking classes you could choose from, but Oliver and I both loved this experience. Janet is a native Korean who spent much of her life in the U.S. Her English is perfect, as is her knowledge of Korean culture and food. We started with a tour of a local Korean market (we were the only foreigners there) and it was absolutely delightful. We tried some new fruits neither of us had heard of before and then got to taste roasted seaweed fresh out of the roasting machine thing (I have no idea what it’s called). It was so very good! This was followed by cooking five Korean dishes in her darling studio. There were two things from the class that really stood out to me about Janet as an instructor. 1) She adapted the recipes slightly so that we would be able to make them in America. While some people wouldn’t love this, it was nice to know we could recreate these in our respective countries. 2) She was very mindful of our skills and abilities and adapted her teaching based on that. As I love to cook and do it quite a bit, she didn’t spend as much time talking about the basics and she let me flip my Korean pancake (pajeon) which was super fun!

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N. Seoul Tower – A total tourist trap, but well worth the views! I took no pictures this time as it was my third trip to the tower.

Insadong – This is another place we didn’t get to this trip, but it’s a great little tourist area where you can get all of your souvenir needs met with lots of yummy treats. There are also a number of great restaurants in there. You can see my pictures of this area here.

Finally, watch a Korean drama. Such an interesting experience. I can’t tell you where to do that because I did it in my friend’s home, but do it. You will not regret it.

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I think that’s it…for now. This is in no way comprehensive. Just my favorites.