Hiatus and International Travel

I’m in the airport right now, about to head out of the country for my trip to Japan! I’m going with one of my close friends (and colleagues) to explore Japan before we take students next summer.

It also happens to be 10 years since I studied abroad in Japan in college. I never expected to go back so soon. I wanted to, of course, but I assumed I would travel to other places I had never been before first.

I wish I had kept up with my Japanese language skills. I remember thinking in college- when will I ever use this? So after my two required years (and partly because it was really hard and bringing down my GPA), I stopped taking Japanese in college. I went to some Japanese language meetups during junior year and fewer in senior year. I stopped altogether in grad school and beyond.

What I really learned from this is that you can make anything relevant to your career if you want it to be. If you are passionate enough about something, you can make it happen. I love Japan and tried to figure out how I could get there again. When Clare (my friend and colleague) was interested in Study Abroad too, it became a reality!

I tried studying Japanese, but as a non-student, it is much harder to learn. A lot of free sites and apps will teach you the basics- but I really need a more intermediate level, which is much harder. I wish I had spent more time on it, too, this past year. Next year, my goal will be to study Japanese before I go with students!

Either way, I am beyond excited to be going back! I can’t wait!

This blog will be on hiatus for about a month as I travel to Japan for two weeks and then to China for another two weeks for vacation with my family. You can follow my Japan trip on my travel blog (primarily for students going on the trip with us next year, which is why it isn’t hosted here).

I hope everyone has a wonderful month. Don’t give up on the things you love. You never know when they might be back in your life one day!

Happiness and Goal Updates

I’ve been meaning to post about some goal updates for about a week or so now, but I never get around to it. I’ve been frustrated at myself in general for posting less on this blog. At first I told myself it was because I had a crazy busy semester (which was true), but then when things settled down, I spent a lot of time thinking about what to say and not much at all writing it.

I’ve thought a lot about how mood affects creativity. When I was younger I was frustrated I hadn’t had any negative life events because I felt that that was why I wasn’t inspired to write. Now that I’ve had some, that’s really not what’s stopping me. What I’m trying to say is that I think that this year- and this semester in particular- I’m happier than I have been in a long time. And sometimes happiness can be distracting- I’d rather keep doing things that make me happy (finish that book or go boxing or play Magic) than pause to write a blog post.

But here we are, finally. So: the goal updates!

Despite occasional setbacks and snags, my weight loss/health goal has been progressing extremely well! I’ve gotten quite frustrated by a lot of these setbacks, but recently I’ve been reminded in several areas that I’m making great progress. One of the trainers at the boxing gym two weeks ago complimented me on how good I looked. My parents both commented on how it looked like I lost weight. My doctor reminded me that I’ve lost 16 pounds since this time last year. I even managed to complete my goal of a no dessert weekend last weekend (and let me tell you, passing up a free cake party was one of the hardest things I’ve done!) I box at least 4 times a week and I’m hoping to increase that number over the summer.

I’m a little concerned with how my upcoming trip to Asia is going to affect both of these goals. I won’t be able to box for a month and while food in Asia is relatively healthy, I’m worried I’ll go into “vacation mode” and pig out. My hope is to work out when I can (even if it’s just doing core or squats in my hotel room for 10 minutes every day!) I’m going to try to be reasonable with food as well. Last time I went to Japan, I lost a bunch of weight, so I’m hoping that will happen again, or at least that I won’t gain any!

Writing has been not going so well. I failed spectacularly on my short story goal- at least in terms of getting those out once a week. It was a really rough semester in terms of my workload and I often used this as an excuse not to write. On the bright side, I did get a couple of short stories written. None of them won the weekly award, but I am proud of them. Honestly, I think working really hard on this one story that I submitted to the weekly award and a local literary journal and having it be rejected in both places really sunk my motivation. I wish rejection of my writing didn’t affect me quite so much, but I’m not sure how to change that other than sheer willpower (which hasn’t been terribly effective so far).

I haven’t renewed my commitment to my year of spending less, but for the most part the habits continued. Last weekend was the first time in over a year that I had a sort of “shopping spree” where I went out and bought way too many clothes, some of which I really didn’t need. It was especially hard to resist because my mom was buying them and I had the excuse of “needing” some of them for an upcoming trip. I think I also felt that since I hadn’t done it in awhile, it was okay. Some of my wardrobe did need updating, but I did splurge on some pajamas I didn’t need, for example. I’d like to continue to minimize my spending in these areas and give away at least as many older clothes as I buy newer ones.

Unrelated to goals, but an exciting life update: I’m about to leave for my trip to Asia! I’m going to spend the first two weeks in Japan on an exploratory trip in preparation for the Study Abroad trip I’m co-leading with students next week. I imagine I won’t have too much time to post here in the next month, but if you’d like to follow my travel blog in Japan (it’s not hosted here, because it’s mostly for my students who are going on the trip), here’s the link!

I hope your lives are just as happy and, if not, it’s time to start doing something to change that!