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WWP: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SEASON?

What’s your favorite season? Yesterday I would have answered, without a doubt: summer! Summer permeates my being in such delicate yet curious ways. I’m drawn to the water, the hypnotic rhythm of the waves and the journey that they travelled. Beach sunsets wrap any day up in a colorful package, gifting me satisfaction and recharged cells to start again the next day. The relationship of sand and water fascinates me – the millions of tiny pieces that support our weight as we walk upon them and the texture and temperature changes as I dig deeper with my toes or Flashdance until sand becomes quicksand. The smell of the ocean pulls me from any moment I’m walking through, instantly muffling out any city sounds and bringing peace and the image of endless horizons to my mind. I worship the sun (more responsibly as an adult) and feel the lightest when the days are bright and sunny!

Used Courtesy of SprayedOut.com

But, after opening my windows this morning, ready to stare down my computer and face the blog post I wanted to write by today (this isn’t the one), a cool breeze came in through the windows – the winds of change!  They tickle me to move, they itch me to forge a new direction! After daydreaming through summertime, I feel the strength of fall! The loud crunch of leaves after falling from the trees thrill me. I revel in the mystery of each day wondering if the sun or clouds will win. I crave natural textures of cotton cable-knit sweaters, the bark of trees, the ironic strength of squash skins, and I’ve already filled my nose and home with cinnamon pinecones! I want to stretch during fall to get ready for this whirlwind winter season that ends each year and ushers in the new year.

I used to think this restlessness originated from my Gemini birth sign – which happens to be an air sign. I don’t put a ton of emphasis on zodiac and personality tests BUT as an adoptee it does put a fun spin on Nature vs. Nurture. Since I don’t have relationships with biological relatives, besides my kids, it’s hard for me to tell which craziness I created myself or inherited. These Gemini and INFJ definitions also remind me that I’m not the only one in the world wired this way.

Used Courtesy of SprayedOut.com

This fall we’re preparing for more change than I prefer, starting with my son moving to college at the start of the new year. He’s a spring admit and I feel so fortunate relishing a few extra months with him while everyone else already dropped their kids off. I’m also stressing about that first college tuition bill. Although it makes sense on paper, until we get past the first one, I’m really stressed. However, the stress fuels my fire and I’m focusing it towards something that I can impact – my website.  Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, my new site will soon feature a) More consistent posts; b) More organized topics to make it a better resource; c) Better features and more levels to provide more for those who visit. Now that I yearn to share more of my personal journey and help others plan theirs, I’m creating and planning! It’s exhilarating!

I do look forward to the winter and the many reasons to reconnect with friends and families to reflect on our highlights while wrapping up this year. I anxiously anticipate spring — sending my son across town to college and a new beginning!  While his campus is only 18.2 miles away, that’s just a hair past my reach and .2 miles outside of my comfort zone but I look forward to watching him embrace the opportunities to learn and come into his own. Thankfully, he’s just an uber or metrolink ride away. My daughter deserves a new level of relaxation at home as an only child (which hopefully overrides the fact that her chores just doubled)! With each year older that my kids grow, I cautiously sample a schedule with more freedoms and learn to appreciate my kids in new ways.

So while this season’s winds of change pick up, I plant my feet firmly on the ground, lean into the winds, and breathe deeply! I am ready for the next season. 

 

What is your favorite season?
Do you feel different with different seasons?
When is the last time the winds of change ushered in something big for you?
What defines the fall season for you?
Can you believe it’s nearing the end of the year already?

#wwp #WednesdayWritingPrompt #Blogtober #Day2 #Seasons #WindsOfChange #Changes #WeatherTheStorms #WritingPrompt #SparksOfInspiration #OMagInsiders #MakesMeWander

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WHY NOW? WHAT SPARKED MY SEARCH INTO MY PAST?

I keep asking myself: Why now? What made me decide to finally go to my birth country of Korea for the first time at the age of 48 (last year)? 

We wore our hanboks to Gyeongbokgung on the last day of our visit! Felt amazing (and gets you in free!)!

It felt like the perfect storm of Impulse (My 2017 Year of Yes and vowing to experience everything), Vulnerability (My 2018 Year of giving in to feel everything), and absolutely my Mindful Midlife (My 2019 Year of trying not to regret anything). While it looked like a sudden whim, my decision built slowly. Along the way, roadblocks sent me down deadends, speedbumps slowed me down, but I’m stubborn and love a good mystery – I needed to see this journey to the end. Surprises rewarded me along the way.

 

OK, this is a Korean pothole not a rabbit hole, but I loved the pattern!

  • DNA SENT ME DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE: When I finally did my DNA to see where my other non-Korean half originated from, I became fascinated by all of my cousin connections!  I read their faces, over-reacting when I noticed any similarities. I’m not really interested in meeting most of the hundreds of cousins, but it amazes me to now see the generations of people that I’m linked to. I’m curious to learn how my ancestors travelled around the globe to wind up where I magically came about in Korea.
    Roadblock: There aren’t that many Asians (from the US and especially not Korea) in all 3 of the big DNA companies: FamilytreeDNA, Ancestry, and 23 and me. The companies are just now trickling into Korea and Korean Asians have their large national ancestry ledger and don’t feel that they need DNA to tell them about their relatives.
    Speedbump: It’s hard to navigate your genealogy as an adoptee because the minute you surprise someone with your existence, they clam up.
    Suggestion: If you’re trying to find relatives, test with all 3 companies and download your raw data into other larger databases.  Many people test 1 time because they are only curious about ethnicity so you could miss large chunks of your genealogy that could be listed in a different database. Leave DNA in the area you’re from. In Korea, the database connects the police departments if there are any matches. Also, enlist professionals – or, as I call them, DNA Angels.
    Surprise: When the Angels got involved, they shot a laser that parted the seas of cousins to find people so fast it made my head spin.

We were able to meet Molly Holt – daughter of Harry Holt who started my adoption agency.

  • INFORMATION OVERLOAD: My neutral attitude towards putting much effort into finding ancestors centered around the number of decades that have passed since I left Korea – not to mention the required language I’d need to communicate what little story I knew. I felt no reason to NOT believe the story in my file and assumed that the record keeping would be poor if files even still existed.
    Roadblock: As an infant found abandoned in the street by a police officer, this enabled me to be logged in the Korean Ancestry Registry – though with a family name given to me by the police. However, no note indicated whether my birth year was accurate, or where I came from.
    Speedbump: Different information existed at the US vs. the Korean Holt International offices.  In some areas, they filled in the blanks from the other file. I learned I’d lived with a foster family and started out as the youngest in the family (before I became the oldest in the family I grew up in). In other areas, the files contradicted each other.
    Suggestion: Ask for all of your files and get translators involved if necessary. Request immigration files through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). I saw pictures I’d never seen and read snippets about my preferences and my day as an infant that shed light on my current behavior and preferences. My inner child wept with gratitude after learning that I’d been so carefully cared for by a foster mother. It also wept at the hint that my history could be woven with that of another adoptee listed in my file.
    Surprise: Turns out one of my files mentioned which orphanage I came through which suddenly changed my birth city to Busan. My file also hid the name of the person who turned me into the agency. A woman. 

We learned to make kimchee from a master! I now love fresh and fermented kimchee!

  • MINDFUL MIDLIFE: At the age of 48, I felt an urgency inside sternly warning me that my life would feel wasted if I never visited my home country. Considering all I have and everything I’ve done, perhaps that sounds harsh and even a little selfish. I started to feel as though I lived to meet this society’s markers, but that my life didn’t feel like my own if I didn’t chase after my roots and learn about Korea.
    Roadblock: Korea’s complex culture – they’re just starting to put down the large stigma associated with adoption. The dark veils of secrecy in our adoption files – to help us move quickly into new lives – still hides much of our histories. Conversations are still awkward, and explanations still hazy. It’s unsettling to me when people apologize.
    Speedbump: The relationships that yielded mixed Korean adoptees is vast and still ongoing. It felt shocking to learn the whole history when only searching for my first 8 months. Overall, I’m at peace with the past because I can’t change it. We all harbor  messes somewhere in our families.
    Suggestion: Go when the time feels right. I wasn’t confident beyond every doubt, but failed to convince myself that I should not go. I recognize it’d have been a much different, more superficial and touristy trip had I visited when I was younger or a different crowd, even full-Koreans (who travelled a different historic path towards adoption). I feel like I would most likely have deflected, not absorbed, the impact of my trip back.
    Surprise: Though almost a half-century old, I found my inner child somewhere along the journey in Korea.  I’m now conscious of her existence and learning to care for her.

 

Beautiful Bomunsa temple at the top of a steep hill in Incheon.

In my opinion, adoptees looking for their history hope to answer questions, feel their roots, find their center and perhaps shed light on their purpose.  Of course, family members may be a part of this discovery, but for me, that would be secondary to learning my story. I would love to make connections, to see behaviors and facial expressions, but not in a sense to replace the family I have. This is just my experience, every adoptee’s journey and story is unique and their own to share.

So why now? It’s been a year and I’m finally unravelling and untying the threads of information that connect me to my home country. More than anything, I want to get it out and make sense of it. Though I’ve fully touched my Korean history and feel myself rooted in that country, I still haven’t married my Korean and white sides here in America. When I do Korean things, it still feels like a field trip for me: Spend a day in the life of a Korean woman!

The famous 💩 Emoji cookies and the cafe where you drink out of mini toilets! We stuck with the delicious cookies!

Since October is #Blogtober, and I love me a strong deadline, I’m using this as a means to try to push the rest of the story out! I look forward to sharing more of the surprises and stories with you! It may be slightly messier than usual just to get it out. I appreciate you staying with me through this exercise!

What about you?
Have you researched your genealogy?
Did your family come here from another country?
Have you visited your birth country?
Are you adopted?
Have any additional questions? Ask in the comments!

#Blogtober #Day1 #Adoption #Adoptee #KoreanAdoptee #KAD #MixedKorean #MyHistoryIsAMystery #ancestry #heritage #DNA #family #relatives #writeyourtruth #SeoulSearch #memoir #personaljourney #OMagInsiders #makesmewander

NOW WHAT? REMEMBER WHAT YOU’RE GRATEFUL FOR…

I’m late with my post for Tuesday 11/8/16 for #NaBloPoMo. I’ll admit that I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV even after the election results were known.  This morning, now that the political  campaign circus has come to a conclusion and we’re all waiting to see where this goes, it’s time to focus inward and find center again.  Remember who you are and the good that you possess and what you can offer the world.  Also, be grateful for the gifts that you have.  It’s the little things that matter most and will help restore joy.

I love the exercise of focusing on gratitude in November – not just on Thanksgiving but everyday!  Since I missed the first few days, I will go back and reflect, then move forward from there through November. Feel free to share one thing you are grateful for in the comments or feel free to copy the list for yourself!

Day 1: What smell are you grateful for today?

ff

Yesterday Today and Tomorrow flowers. One of the greatest gifts from an apartment I used to live in was that somebody in the neighborhood grew these plants. At the end of any day, when the witching hour (after dinner, homework, procrastination, laundry, cleaning time) was upon us, a quick smell of their fragrance wafting by instantly sidetracked me to pause and wander with wonder.

Day 2: What technology are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for the technology that helps people quickly detect large medical problems whether it’s full-body scans for early detection or DNA decoding to educate people how best to care for themselves based on what they learn could be present in their genetic background. When you know better, hopefully you do better.

Day 3: What color are you grateful for?
RED! Usually the rest of my wardrobe tends towards black or white but I feel more energetic and powerful when wearing this color. As simple as a red flower in my hair to a bold red bag helps me shine internally! I also love editing with a red pen.

Day 4: What food are you most grateful for?

 

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Pioneer Woman’s – Roasted Garlic MMM, you won’t regret it!

Garlic makes me grateful because it provides such a wonderful layer of flavor to almost every meal as well as providing health benefits. It’s become a comfort food for my family and no matter how simple or fancy our meals are, we pour on garlic! It’s a bucket list item to get to the Gilroy Garlic festival one year.

Day 5: What sound are you grateful for today?

c
My kids voices. I am grateful that they still get excited to share things about their day with me. I’m less excited about the voices they use to bicker – but to restore overall balance, there are the remarkable moments where they team up and share inside jokes that Mom would never get.

Day 6: What in nature are you grateful for?

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Coast lines. I always pause to reflect that standing with my feet in the sand with the waves crashing on my toes means I’m on the western most point of that chunk of the US.  I also turn my sights towards the horizon wondering if this will be the one time I can actually see all the way to Hawaii.

Day 7: What memory are you grateful for?
How in the world do I pick just one when on a daily basis I’m adding so many more to the memory bank?  I am grateful for my grandparents’ houses because, depending on which one I was visiting, there was a surplus of unconditional love, closets or shelves with treasures just for the grandkids, music pouring from the walls, and outside hideouts that we lit with lightning bugs.  I am grateful that as the oldest child, I remember them and not just the stories of them.

Day 8: What book are you most grateful for?

bigmagic
Right now, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Where the rest of my mind tells me to make practical choices, this book gives me permission and renewed drive to be creative! It’s one I return to frequently.

Here is the full list of Gratitude prompts inspiring me that I found on textmyjournal.com.. Even if you don’t commit to the whole month – what is something you’re grateful for RIGHT NOW?

gratitude journal prompts

 

#Healing #Gratitude #Journal #November

CURRENTLY: November 2016

Here I am again, daydreaming and trying to distract myself from the election!  I’m hopeful for a quick and final decision so that we can shrug and move onto holiday preparation!  If you’d like to give yourself something else to think about and and do this exercise, share your links below!

CURRENTLY LOVING
Holidays are a family affair and I received this fun Knock Knock stuff that will weave the family together for this season. The 20 Holiday Vouchers help you enlist the family for assistance, but also remind you all to take family time over the holiday. The sweet Spread the Love journal becomes a keepsake remembering what about that person tugs on your heartstrings …and I guarantee it’ll pull on theirs!  Sorry, but the Vouchers already sold out for this year, but browse the Spread the Love journals – available in a variety of styles!

nov-hello2

CURRENTLY INDULGING IN
Don’t ever feel guilty about only sending a card again!  Letterpress Holiday cards by Papermum Press are a gift in and of themselves. The impression of the letterpress gives your card depth, and emphasizes the quality of the paper. For every color on the card, they pass each card through the printing press again. The printer’s expertise and artistic eye comes through in every card. Maybe we’ll get an up close look one day soon

nov-llttr

CURRENTLY DAY DREAMING ABOUT
My next themed birthday party.  I love doing themed parties – in the past I held a non-tragic TITANIC party for my son, a SPY TRAINING CAMP for my daughter.  For work, we recently hosted a conference but gave the guests the true California experience. Now, I’m creating an Oceans 16 themed event. Being a Walt Disney fan, creating events that appeal to every sense with unexpected surprises invigorates me. Pictures to come!

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO
This music choice perfectly represents my gemini-ness:
21 Pilots Heathens perfectly portrays the delicate line between pained control of Marvel’s Suicide Squad’s outward appearance but also the betrayal that deeply scarred their hearts.

The Weeknd (featuring Daft Punk) produced a song Starboy that takes me away! The strong beat supports The Weeknd’s dreamy lyrics and the melody just makes my body move –  I’m a star girl!

CURRENTLY OBSESSED WITH
In a world where life is often lived online for the world to see a gift with a secret code feels like something my loved ones would cherish. Though Morse Code was built for communication to connect two individuals, reinventing it into cherished modern jewelry as a way to connect two individuals warms my heart.  The style of the code easily fits with the styles worn by men or women!    

nov-morse

CURRENTLY ANTICIPATING
Every amazing movie from the 80s culminated in the new series Stranger Things!  My children and I binge-watched the series over two nights.  Though they don’t appreciate all of the symbolism from my teen years in the show,  they love the characters and the suspense.  We were thrilled to see that STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2 recently started production!

stranger-things

CURRENTLY WANTING
I know I’m in my mid-40s but the sloth ring may be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and I love the way the designer builds multiple parts to the ring to create depth with her animals. Maybe I’ll get one for myself “and for my daughter” (but it may escape and wander over to my jewelry box one night…)

nov-sloth

WTF: What?! Toes? Feet?

CURRENTLY AVOIDING
The media of all kinds (at least for the next 60 or so hours). Though this blog lives online and we all live in a social media world now, I feel as though the news agencies’ competition for ratings result in exaggerated, sensationalized and even falsified news. This crazy election exacerbated the problem.  So until the election washes over, my screen will be dark except to write my #NaBloPoMo posts. Now if only I could stop political mail from hitting my mailbox.

What favorite song represents you the best?
What indulgence reminds you of your childhood?
What happened to Barb?
Did you vote?

What about you? Consider these:
CURRENTLY REFLECTING
CURRENTLY DRINKING
CURRENTLY WATCHING
CURRENTLY PANICKING
CURRENTLY COVETING
Or dream up your own!

 

#Election #Vote #StrangerThings #MorseCode #Holidays #Sloth #Ring #Jewelry #Journal #KnockKnockStuff #TheWeeknd #21Pilots #Disney #Marvel #SuicideSquad #Heathens #Starboy #Letterpress #HolidayCards #NaBloPoMo #StarboyAMAs

TOP 10 BEST ADVENT CALENDARS

elf-meme

Now that we howled through Halloween I feel like life becomes a game of Chutes and Ladders leading up to Christmas!  On the one hand, time slows down the hourglass a bit as your to-do list becomes filled with larger projects and many social gatherings. On the other hand, it always comes too fast for me. I always wish I had a few more paychecks between now and then to play, gift and donate to everyone I want to.

So let me start by leap-frogging to December 1st!  For me, anticipation builds my excitement for any holiday! For Christmas, my internal clock gets a break because Advent calendars builds my holiday spirit – one day at a time! While some people carry a traditional method of counting down, I love to mix it up a bit to keep my kids on their toes.

In no particular order, because my vision of the holidays changes annually, here are my family’s favorite Advent Calendars!

advent-lego-swars

So many adventures come from one tiny calendar! Play well with other Legos too!

1.  Lego Star Wars – After getting this calendar you may not need to do Christmas.  Lego and Star Wars tie for favorite toys with my children so while this calendar carries a larger lifetime – the life of its daily toy is longer than any other from this group. Plus these daily lego toys spawn creativity and the engineering side of my children’s minds which also goes a long way.

advent-chocolate

Treat yourself!

2.  Chocolate – Coming off of Halloween, you may not be as eager to rush out and get a chocolate calendar – until I tell you it’s made by Cadbury!  You may want to buy one for yourself (and a bottle of red wine) and treat yourself during the season where you’re considering everyone else’s treats!

advent-ring

For a how-to tutorial, click the picture!

3.  DIY Paper Rings – I’d say most of us made these rings out of construction paper and hung them on the wall or framing our door to count down days for the holidays or vacations. Whether as a calendar or decoration, its a fun tradition to sit together and make these. During these still quieter moments, the fun stories of old come forth again.  

advent-mel-doug

4.  Melissa & Doug Tree – This lovely calendar will become a family tradition as everyone remembers their favorite ornaments to hang on this wooden tree.  The whole family’s excitement will grow as the ornaments decorate more and more of the tree! Melissa & Doug products last long enough to be passed down.

nativity

5.  Nativity Scene – As a beautiful reminder for the reason for the season, these calendars recreate the Nativity story with a new addition each day. This gives one plenty of time to ponder each new addition to the story and stop to really consider its significance!

advent-tsum

WTF: Welcome These Favorites to your home!  (C) Disney

6.  Tsum Tsum – Your favorite Disney characters win you over again now that they’re adorably oval! Tsum tsums were this year’s hottest collectible and create stacks of smiles! Again, the hours spent with these will outlast the holiday!

paper

I love the simplicity of this look from the allfortheboys.com blog!

7.  DIY Grab bag – Who doesn’t love opening presents?  This way your family gets a small daily gift you can tailor to fit your style!  Go as simple as a brown paper bag with raffia, all the way to decorative cellophane bags. Gifts can range from Bonus tickets: Watch an extra Christmas special! to favorite treats, or notes to your family! To really torture them, give them 1 clue a day about some surprise that will come their way at Christmas!

advent-grat

Click thru to learn how to make the Gratitude Calendar (originally from pragmaticmom.com blog)

8.  Gratitude – I saw this idea on another blog and LOVE it!  This idea is similar to the one above, only fill each bag with a random act of kindness to complete for others.  OR you can create a Gratitude Journal as they do in the blog post and write down the things you’ve completed – or write down one thing you’re grateful every day. Warms your heart better than hot chocolate!

advent-alcohol

9.  Alcohol calendar – To warm your hot chocolate one step farther – may I suggest Alcohol Advent calendars.  I found a company that creates a calendar for you featuring scotch whisky, bourbon, rum or vodka (to name a few). You can peruse their site like a kid in a candy store and custom make your own calendar.  You’re welcome!

wedge

10. Wedgewood blue and white jaspar ware (Limited edition of 3; only 1 available online) – For that relative who has everything, why not surprise them with this amazing calendar. Wedgewood’s delicately decorative exquisite pieces set the tone for an exquisite holiday.

What about you?
Do you mix it up each year or use an heirloom calendar?
Can you share other ideas for wonderful ways to count down to the holidays?
Feel free to share ideas or links!

Please note that some of these posts contain affiliate links through which I may earn a few coins should you purchase your calendar through them.

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