Category Archives: enlightenment

Being a quinquagenarian

Awwww being a quinquagenarian is exciting.  First of all, finding out that a person my age is called a quinquagenarian is exciting!  For those who don’t know (and probably don’t care), it’s someone who is between the ages of 50 and 59.  You learn something new every day right? 

There are many reasons to be excited for this decade.  You get to experience menopause – you know, the hot flashes, mood swings and all the other fun things that happen to a woman of this age.  Hair on my chin?  Yup, and learning to have tweezers close by for that one just popped out of nowhere on your upper lip.  So much fun.

You also get to experience the thrill of unexpected releases of bodily fumes whilst walking, running, exercising and even when you stand up.  Yeah, farting for no reason – another great thing about being this age.

There are some other fun things about this age.  Waking up and hearing everything creak and crack (and yes that includes more bodily fumes being released).   Having to wear glasses to read anything and watch TV, and even at work now.  Oh joy. 

You’re probably thinking – there has to be SOMETHING that is enjoyable about being this age.  Of course there is! 

At the age of 55 (the age I am slowing creeping up to in less than a year), you get some select senior discounts at different stores and restaurants.  And yes this actually is a good thing, and one that I am looking forward to!!

You also get the satisfaction of saying no to people without having to give a reason for saying no, and feeling empowered at doing this.

As a woman, I love when people ask my age and are always so sweet and kind and lie to me when they say “wow you don’t look that old – I thought you were in your 30’s”.  Thank you sweet old ladies who tell me that to make me feel good.  It really does make me feel good, as I stand behind the counter at Tim Horton’s wearing the god-awful hat and hairnet and knowing that there is no way on earth I look like I am in my 30’s.  I do appreciate the compliments!

I also love that I can state my opinion on things that matter to me, and know that I can stand my ground and state that it is MY opinion and that we are all entitled to our opinion.  It’s neither right nor wrong –it’s just my opinion.  Some people just don’t get that, and that’s not really an age thing.

Today I am relishing the fact that I am a proud quinquagenarian, and if I want to fart while I work out, I can.  If my body creaks and cracks as I get out of bed, that’s fine.  It just means that everything is working itself out and getting me ready to start my day.  Like a car, it needs to warm up and the creaks and cracks help me out with that.

So be proud – creak, crack, fart and do anything else you want to as a quinquagenarian – we have all earned that right!

In search of myself

When I first started traveling three years ago (which seems more like a lifetime ago!), I never really thought that I was in search of myself.  I just knew I needed a change in my life, that my job was making me feel stagnant, and that I was ready to discover more about the world.  I thought I was a well-grounded person then, who knew what she wanted and what she was going to do with the rest of her life.  What has happened in the past three years has definitely changed all of that thinking.

 

A friend asked me recently if I felt I had been “living a lie” before I started out on this new life.  If I had noticed a change in myself after a few short weeks of my new life.  I answered pretty quickly and said that while I didn’t think I had been living a lie, I think what I had been doing was living a life that everyone else was living.  A predictable, safe life.  Working 9-5, paying my bills, hanging out with friends.  Don’t get me wrong – I had a fun life in Calgary!  I worked at a great company, I had the best friends (and still have them!), and lived in a nice area in a nice house.  It was safe.  It was what everyone expected someone of my age to be doing.  And I really loved my life in Calgary.  So what made me want to leave such a great life?   I wanted to travel.  I wanted to live in another country. 

 

I never considered my life BP (before Prague) as an unhappy life.  Was it an unfulfilled life?  Yes, I believe that now.  My job, while it was a really good job, was just that.  A job.  Not a career.  Not something I could see myself doing for years (even though I had done it for almost 30 years).  I knew in my heart that there was something more that I wanted to do, and that I just needed to find out what it was.

 

One month after arriving in Prague, I graduated from my TEFL program, and was officially a TEFL certified teacher.  I knew right then that my life had changed.  I knew I would never go back to my old life.  I knew that Europe was where I was going to be for a while.  Prague was amazing.  I found my self-confidence grew while I was there.  I found out that I loved teaching – that teaching was not a job but a career.  My self-esteem improved.  I no longer felt awkward.  I no longer felt like I was in the shadows of someone else, trying to show that I was just as good as they were.  I no longer felt that I needed to be in a relationship to be truly happy. 

 

So, almost three years later, I can answer that question my friend asked me honestly.  No, I wasn’t living a lie.  I was living my BP life.  I was living the life I needed to then.  I am now living the life I dreamt of, and am happier than I have ever been!  I don’t regret a moment of my BP life, nor do I regret any moment I have had since leaving Canada.  I am happy.  I am content.  And I am strong.  That is the biggest thing I have learned about myself.  The strength I have inside.  And I am now ready for my SA life!!  (South American life haha).

​Grade 2 ~ oh the challenges!!


Grade 2 kids ~ these kids are so smart, they are gaining confidence with their English, and are very inquisitive.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked how old are you (answer is always older than you), are you okay, where do you live, what’s your phone number, and the list goes on.


They love games ~ Teacher Says is their favourite.  Its been challenging to keep them interested and motivated but I have succeeded.  


I definitely have favourite students ~ I would be lying if I said I didn’t. Leo, Tom, Hardy, Ang Lee, Lucy and Ella are the ones that I love seeing every day.  


Seven grade 2 classes, average of 40 students in a class ~ a lot of inquisitive children who are always excited to see me!  They love feeding me their snacks too (usually with their hands right into my mouth ~ no wonder I had so many colds!).  

The unabashed hugs, taking my hand and leading me into class, the excited faces when I stand at the front of class and say “Teacher says stand up!” ~ those are the moments I will miss the most.


These kids have made me a better teacher with their questions and their eyes lighting up when they realize they can understand what I am saying.  Their quick minds, short attention spans and endless fidgeting made it challenging, but I can say that I came, I saw, I conquered!!

Whatever you are, be a good one

An extraverted protagonist. Sounds interesting right??  I recently did a personality test and my results show that I am an extraverted protagonist. A diplomat People’s Master.  It all sounds very confusing. It was something a close friend thought I would find interesting. And I did!!

It showed me results that definitely resonated with me. All but one section definitely is my personality.  And it also showed me some ways to strengthen my weaknesses. Things I will definitely start to do!
So why am I writing about this here? Really, who cares about someone else’s results of a personality test?  

I am not writing about this to share my results.  No. I am writing about how personality traits can make us stronger or weaker as we grow older and explore our self-worth.  

When I was younger, I was very shy. I did well in school but kept to myself a lot. As I went through many struggles in my adult life, my self-esteem grew stronger, I became more assertive and my personality changed. I became the person I am today – in my eyes, I am a strong, self-assured woman who can do anything she wants and be a success at whatever comes my way.

Traveling has changed me.  Seeing different cultures and dealing with situations I never would have had to in Canada have made me humble. 

We take for granted so many things in life. So many of us want material things (and I am not saying anything against that – it’s just not for me), but living in northern China has made me aware of so many struggles these people have on a daily basis that are beyond their control.  Living in the conditions they do have made them stronger than any other culture I have seen so far.

While my complaints of China are many, the strength and perseverance of these people is truly admirable. 

So like the title says, whatever you are be a good one. If you are a neighbour, be a good one. A mother, a daughter, a teacher, whatever it is you are – strive to be a good one. The people here in Changchun have shown me that, despite the conditions they live in, they take it in stride and they are the best they can be. Their personalities shine through. I will take away from this chapter in my life the strength I have seen of the Chinese people. And I am now, and forever will be, a better person because of it.

Live without regrets


Regrets, I’ve had a few… words from a great and memorable song.  My way ~ the way I choose to live my life.
Do you have regrets in your life? Is there something that you wish you could go back in your life and change?

I have regrets. Less than I used to but I still have regrets.  There are times that I think maybe I would go back in time and change things, but then would I be where I am today? Not likely.

I truly believe that everything in our life happens for a reason, and that we meet certain people who are only in our life for a short time but have the biggest impact on us.  Do I regret that this person is no longer in my life? No because I know the time we had together helped me grow into the woman I am today.

So don’t go through life with too many regrets. Be grateful for everything you have. Life is too short to have too many regrets.

And remember what Frank said ~ I did it my way!!

​Internal battles ~ fighting the urge to conform

China ~ a big country with so much culture and history, it’s hard to wrap your head around it all.  Places you “should” see, things you “should” try.

Perhaps some of us don’t want to see the regular tourist destinations. “But won’t you be disappointed if you don’t see them?”  Maybe, but that is a choice some of us make.

Xi’an, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu ~ these are some of the most famous places to visit in China. And I have no desire to see any of them. Some may be shocked that I don’t want to see Beijing ~ the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Great wall. One does not need to go to Beijing to see the Great Wall. Since I  am in northern China, it is possible to see the end of the Great wall here. And if I decide to see it, that is where I will go.

China is a country for me to work, to live, to explore the northern part and to immerse myself in. Big crowds are stressful (and some might be thinking, then why on earth did you go to China?).   I came to China to experience living in China.

Seeing all of the sites is not necessary to truly experience a country, any country.  Seeing the every day life of the native people, shopping with the locals; that, to me, is the best way to experience a new country.

So, no, I will not conform!  I resist the urge to be like everyone else. And I am okay with that!

Friendships and the internet

We all have friends, near or far, that are dear to our heart.  We have new friends we meet when we travel and live abroad. We have old friends from another time in our life who we will keep in touch with on occasion. Then we have our best friends, who, no matter the distance, can make us feel like we are sitting together, having a coffee and exchanging our days even when we are an ocean away.
I have many friends all over the world ~ in China, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Australia, South Korea, Great Britain. And of course in North America, particularly Canada. I have met many of my friends from traveling and on the internet. But there is one friend who is my dearest friend and, thanks to the internet, we have become closer than I ever thought possible.
We were best friends in high school, inseparable. College came and we remained close until men entered our lives and we both moved to different areas of Ontario, and started our families. We kept in touch for a few years but, as it happens as we marry and move around, we drifted apart. 
Fast forward to my 40th birthday and my mother invited her to my party. We reconnected and kept in touch through social media but not as often as I had hoped.
Last summer, when I headed to Canada for a visit before coming to China, we spent an afternoon together. And something clicked. I think all the struggles we had during those years had kept us from being close. However, we matured and with that, came a brand new light in our friendship. 
Since then, we talk almost every day, sharing what is going on in our lives, counseling each other with hard decision making, offering comfort in a difficult time when needed. I value her friendship now more than ever. I look forward to hearing her voice messages, to hear what’s happening in her life and sharing my life with her.
Friendship doesn’t have to be face to face to be close. Thanks to social media, we are all just a click away. And I am so grateful for that day last summer that reconnected me with such a great friend.
We should value all the friendships we have. Life is too short not to!