So you got into the MCM program…now what?

It took me 4 years of college and another year into Grad School to figure out these tips for maximizing my mindful learning. While this was geared towards USC Annenberg’s MCM Program, these tips are easily applied to any schooling experience you’re going through in a formal program or even in a 1-day class.

So you got into the MCM program…now what?.

50 Shades of __________!

When I heard 50 Shades of Grey was Twilight-based fan fiction, I was determined to dislike the series. No millions raving about Christian Grey could lead me to betray Edward Cullen. When film trailers featured shockingly familiar dialogue, I felt it proved that Christian and Anastasia were faking it!

IMG_5021
Then, on opening weekend, I found myself out-of-town with hours to kill. With no additional Oscar-nom film haikus to watch, I said “WTF! (Watch The Film!)” Since I was the last person on Earth to get into the series, my spoilers won’t spoil it for you. This is my voyeuristic view.

To Get You Off the Couch
Stars: I had no preconceived view of who Christian (or Ana) should be so they were entirely appetizing.
Ladies Scored First: Both Ana and her valedictorian roomie were graduating from college. Ana had put literature before pillow talk and was a virgin at this point.
Throwing Her a Bone: I liked that, despite introvert tendencies, Ana held her own when drawn into conversations, even negotiations, with Christian.
Points for Grey: A good PSA when Hot Guy initiates condom use.

To Make You Come Again – multiple screenings
Fantasy-asstic: Christian’s experienced, diverse skill set. He knows when and how to play different hands …and stuff.
Billionaire Dream, Sex Machine: You, too, could be seduced by a hot billionaire! (That’s not what BDSM stands for?!)
Setting the Mood: Sultry soundtrack!

Left Me Unsatisfied
Eye-rolling, Lip Biting and Boobs: Less is more.
Open Your Mouth and What Pops Out?: When Christian said “I’m 50 Shades of messed up” I was sucked from the theatre into an MTV reality show.
Push Harder: This isn’t about Christian’s playroom toys. Granted, I don’t know much about his preferences, but if both people want to dabble – so be it. But Grey was always black and white. If Ana thought he won’t always use her in the end as another prop, she’s poorly mistaken – or just poor. While Anastasia pulled out, a sequel bets she’ll be back.

Overall, while the film was anti-climactic, I’ll admit, it was entertaining watching this Twilight/Pretty Woman mashup in-theatre, surrounded by gal pals squealing with every anticipated and unexpected moment in living color.

2015 Academy Awards Movie Haiku + Grey Bonus!

While I was on my 8-week leave from work, my kids loved to remind me that I was, essentially, on my summer break. They came home sourly asking if I’d done anything all day while they slaved away at school.

So, here’s my “What I did on my summer break!” report. With a new movie buddy en tow, I finally saw all of the Academy Awards 2015 nominated films for Best Picture – and a few more. The best part was lingering in conversation or online research afterwards to really submersed myself in each film.

Here are my thoughts after loving each film! I’d love to hear your film comments below!

2015 Best Picture Nominees Photo: TODAY.com

2015 Best Picture Nominees
Photo: TODAY.com

BEST PICTURE
American Sniper
Focused fight abroad
Fought to return home wholly
Evil was too near

Boyhood
Two hours, Twelve Years
The growth of these characters
Redefined filming

Birdman
(The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Runs too and from self
Looking for proof he mattered
Ignorance is bliss

Selma
One man led many
Learn what textbooks skimmed over
Still now, we march on

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Fail or fly, Darling!
Lobbying on own behalf
Loyalty pays off

The Imitation Game
War and Enigma
Him being one, he cracked one
Unfair cost for task

The Theory of Everything
Numbers can’t explain
Mind outgrew body’s limits
Live life, love fully

Whiplash
“Good Job!” serves no one
Each beat bore holes in his self
Bled out own rhythm

SOME FROM OTHER CATEGORIES
BEST ACTRESS
Gone Girl
Search for missing wife
Can’t clear him with muddy truth
Who’s the real victim

Still Alice
Insight to illness
She fights to stay for others
While losing herself

Wild
Hiked peaks and valleys
Faced fears, mapped wild heart alone
Load lightened each step

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Into the Woods
Forget fairy tales
Perhaps the happy ending
Lives outside the songs

BEST ANIMATED
Big Hero 6
Boy and his friend prove
Even artificial hearts
Help people soar, heal

The Boxtrolls
Misjudged trolls teach us
Life isn’t packaged neatly
Live in light, not dark

…and for fun (if you are into that stuff),
50 Shades of Grey
He is hot, she’s not
Eye-rolling sex and banter
Untie mess, sequel

Still hungry for more Grey?

PJ WILDERNESS – DESTINATION: SEOUL SEARCHING

The way I manage to end almost any “debate” with my ever-increasingly cynical and tall teen-age son is by reminding him that I’m the fairest Mom in the world and would never ask him to do something I hadn’t done before. (Yes, even the litter box).  So, in that same spirit, I’ll share my Destination brainstorming...

Committing Myself
I recently had the opportunity to take a temporary detour from my life, although with limited mobility.  I regularly indulged in many things I’d love do to if I had more time in the day.  Recognizing how fulfilling they were to me, now that I’m at the eve of returning to my life, I’m panicking about how to keep going: Reading, Writing (a book, if I was not afraid), Immobility (Meditation), and movement – walking or swimming.  Lastly, I’m looking to get in touch with my Korean culture of origin. If money was no object, I’d be on a plane immediately, but for now I’m building a reasonable plan.

SeoulTalking to Myself
WHO: Most will be solitary, but I will definitely reach out to Korean adoptee networking groups or non-profits – including the agency I was adopted through. I’ll share adventures with my kids too, though they’re only 1/4 Korean.

WHAT:  Visit Cultural Centers, museums, restaurants, networking through the non-profit.

I already visited the Korean Cultural Center (Los Angeles)

I already visited the Korean Cultural Center (Los Angeles)

WHERE:  Here in Los Angeles to start.

WHEN:  I aim to visit Korean cultural centers/exhibits 3-4 times/year, but more regularly contribute to related non-profits maybe 1 day/month.

At KCCLA, I learned the bedroom origins of a chest my parents bought me!

At KCCLA, I learned the bedroom origins of a chest my folks got me!

WHY:  What started me on a more active journey was reading: Seeds from a Silent Tree: An Anthology By Korean Adoptees.  It’s a collection of writing from adoptees that, for the first time, revealed my shared history with others.  I’m not searching for lost family, but to help others by supporting non-profits geared to assist with searches and adoptions. I want to pay the opportunity forward to other adoptees. It’s important to me to learn about Korean life from Koreans, not just the American impression of Koreans. I have supportive Korean friends, but currently prefer anonymously learning as I go.

Korean porous pots used to make Soy Sauce and Kimchi. I will use them for decoration.

Korean porous pots used to make soy sauce and Kimchi. I will use them for decoration.

My son asked me, “Why now (that I’m old)?” I answered that any time is a great time to learn more about ourselves and our history.

Korean Artist: Young-Il Ahn Umbrellas

Korean Artist: Young-Il Ahn
Umbrellas

PJ WILDERNESS: 1ST STEP – DESTINATION

The first step in our journey through the PJ Wilderness is to focus on Destination. Gilbert, Strayed, and Bryson had specific travel goals that involved stretching their boundaries and required them to remain present for the journey.

Getting back to nature helps us find a different perspective.

Find a few moments to yourself…

Commit yourself:
Take a few moments from your daily grind – go to a cafe, head outdoors or lock yourself in a bathroom – whatever it takes!  Close your eyes, three deep breaths and ask yourself “What would I do, and where, if I had a more time in the day?” “…if money was no object?” For deeper introspection, ask “What would I do if I was not afraid?”  Repeat this until you have a list of ideas to occupy your daydreams. Don’t know where to start? Start here!  Ideas still escaping you? Consider Crichton’s method of planning any adventure and figuring out your reasons or lesson later.

Consider getting a team to help you Brainstorm! You may get new perspective! Ultimately you finalize the list!

DISTRACTION: Should you involve friends or family in your brainstorming?!

Talk to yourself:
Who: Who is in on this with you? (books read, joining writer’s groups or gyms, BFFs, babysitters, going it solo)
What: Your goals (in as general or specific terms as you’re comfortable with)
Example: Goal – Read 20 books/year; 1 book/month; 10 min./day; 1 page every time you’re in the bathroom. No matter how you define it, it’s all reading and you’re doing it!
When: A good friend called me out saying “If it’s important to you, you will find time for it!” So moving YOU higher on your list of priorities and obligations, where can you steal time? Hour a week; 10 min./day; Every other weekend? Each goal will vary.
Where: Do you need to go somewhere specific or can you do it at home, or by walking out the door? Sometimes setting up a boundary by popping headphones in creates the mental boundary you need (and that others see reminding them to wait to bug you… unless they’re bleeding).
Why: Get a good mindset for why this is a priority for you.  Think beyond the obvious answers!
Example: Goal – Get outdoors daily for 15 minutes minimum. Why? Get creative juices flowing; 1 mile/day keeps the doctor away; Unplugged fun time with kids; See neighbors or cute puppy with even cuter owner!

To help me focus, I’ll work through some ideas here on the blog.  If you are already coming up with your list consider sharing one here with your “Why?”

NEXT STEP:  Asking for time off

WANDERING THE PJ WILDERNESS

I, like many, worked to keep up with Cheryl Strayed on the Wild Pacific Crest Trail. I fell in love with three countries, traveling with Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat Pray Love. I was exhilarated reading of Michael Crichton‘s distant Travels that forged his career change. I stumbled upon the Appalachian Trail following Bill Bryson on A Walk in the Woods. After hungrily devouring each book, I’d sit back, relax my eyes and simmer in the beauty of their journey. Feeling refreshed, I’d inhale deeply, stretch out my hands bemoaning “What do these people do for work that they can afford to take off and wander?!”

Most of us don’t have 100 vacation days or money banked to afford 100-day detours from our lives! Our days overflow with work, shuttling kids to activities or building iron-clad networks. We cram in exercise to improve our quality of life and if we don’t run ’til we drop, our downtime consists of a DVR’d bedtime story, getting a high score or cuddling our kindle.

I feel somewhat accomplished surviving such days, having eradicated a respectable chunk of my to-do list. Ultimately, the kids were loved, fed and progressed one more step towards their next grade. Still, this isn’t what I personally envisioned when planning to conquer or contribute to my world.

Once we’re out of school it’s hard to measure what, if any, progress we’re making! (I know this after 2 years of grad school to prove that I was still progressing towards something). Yeah, I am a tough sell (hard-headed according to my family). I don’t heed advice and carry on. I only value advice once it’s tried and true and I’ve experienced the miracle of its ways.

So with the books planting a yearning for an open horizon of possibilities, I’ve taken the first step into the PJ Wilderness. PJ stands for both the Personal Journey and for the chosen attire. If you tag along, we will traverse the rocky terrain of Personal Journeys using the tips from these books from the comfort of our own surroundings.

While our paths will be individual, It will be a shared adventure.

Ready?! Let’s head out!

NEXT STEP:
Choosing a destination

2015/01/img_4835.jpg

WRITING CHALLENGE: Ellen Mulholland’s Extra Fun with Words

Through a fortunate chain of events, I stumbled upon a delightful author, Ellen Mulholland, with an amazing website sure to inspire budding writers.  I can’t say that I’ve read her books yet, but will report back when Amazon delivers the books to me this week! *(YAY!)*  Still, part of becoming a writer involves writing and she offers a wonderful section on her website called “Extra Fun with Words!”  This month she held a writing contest with a variety of writing prompts.

While I’m not between the ages of 12 – 18, I have a thing for writing prompts and accepted the challenge for my own practice. Since I am at least twice that age, I allowed myself twice the amount of words too. Below you’ll see the writing prompts I chose (In Purple) and the story that filled in the gaps. I welcome your feedback and for sure, share any additional writing challenge websites that I should try!

Photo borrowed from www.glamour.com

Photo borrowed from http://www.glamour.com

     She never loved winter, but it was different now since the events of the past summer. After feeling guilty for lying to family and friends, and being protective of the reason for it, she and her husband had announced her pregnancy.
     Due to her family history, her regimented summer and fall monitored everything she did or ate. She embraced the journey, carefully logging everything. Her husband provided unwavering support and, together, their confidence and excitement grew with each doctor appointment.
     Reaching the 36-week “full-term” milestone, on the winter solstice, gave her goose bumps. They found themselves in uncharted territory having never dreamed of making it this far. While hospitals urge parents to create one’s “Birth Plan,” she never put it in writing, so as to not jinx things. She rode this wave of energy like a chariot, pre-washing baby clothes, assembling bouncy seats, and decking the halls for waves potential visitors.
     Though their large family holiday celebration kicked off Christmas morning, they cooked a special multi-course feast together for their own Christmas Eve.
     “Babe, it’s our last Christmas as a couple!” She smiled to her husband, while artistically placing rosemary on the roast. “Will you still dream up meals like this after the baby comes?”
     He proudly held up her special celebratory juice spritzer. “Sleep deprivation may force me to buy a cookbook. An easy one with 3 steps or less.”
     “Delicious plan!”
After a relaxing dinner, and cleaning up together, she sent him to start the fire. She slipped into her nightgown, adding a large red satin bow around her tummy. She tried to massage out the stiffness in her back from the active week. Before leaving the bedroom, she mused at her reflection, draped in the nightie that had gone from short to scandalous as the fabric tried to cover her belly.
     Rejoining him in the warm firelight, one motive drove her. “Have you ever wanted something SOOO badly that if you don’t get it you may die?” She sat with her back to him on the couch, moving her hair aside, inviting a massage.
     “Keep talking.” He put the remote down, now that the screen displayed the warmest crackling flames. Gently, he worked on her shoulders.
     “Lower back, Baby, please.” She fanned herself with one hand while rubbing her belly with the other.
     He blew lightly on the back of her neck, to cool her off and heat her up. “What do you want me to do?”
     Her breath quickened and she leaned forward. As she threw her head back. “I need ice cream,” she exclaimed to the gods.
     “But it’s snowing…” As he wrapped his arms around her, a kick from the bottom of her belly punctuated the urgency.
     A low moan escaped from her lips. “Unh, I think the baby wants out!”
     “No fair ganging up on me!”
     “I mean it, we need to go!”
     “Fine! I’ll go!”
     “Us! To the hospital! Now!”
     He jumped off couch, immediately into upright position. “But what’s our plan?!”
     Between patterned breaths, she briefed him, “You get the car, we drive down Magnolia – there’s a 31 Flavors, and we go have this baby!”
     He raced to the bedroom, grabbed his wife some pants, and scooted her down the snowy path to the car. He ran back, grabbing his shoes, wallet and their suitcase, already packed. Nerves tied his feet together, stopping him at the door. Seeing his wife sitting in the car, still tied with the bow, he knew the gift of a calm husband was better than a plan for any new directions.
“Rocky Road!” She exclaimed from the car!
     He took a deep breath, exhaled, and walked out the door.

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