Sep 7, 2013

I’m back!
You guys…It’s been so long since I’ve been a part of this sweet blog world. I had a really (really) rough summer and I could barely deal with life let alone open my computer to write a blog post. I spent a good chunk of my summer lying on my parent’s couch, eating junior mints, petting my cat, and crying. Pathetic? Quite. The crying was mainly about the fact that I was heading back to Asia in August and two and a half months at “home” (what is home!?) just didn’t feel like enough time. I didn’t get my fill of shopping, movies, sweet potato fries, or chilling with my mom. I didn’t see enough friends and I didn’t say proper goodbyes.
But now I’m back in Asia and feeling slightly more normal. Funny Girl is back with me (!) along with a new crop of Americans all in their 20’s. It’s a pretty fun group of people and I’m enjoying making new friends.
A sweet, sweet friend from home crocheted me a bunch of booties that my girlfriends and I can wear as house shoes or to sleep in when it gets too cold. She also crocheted me a giant blanket and while she was making it she prayed for me and my adventures in Asia. Sooo naturally my friends and I decided to do a little photo shoot with these booties and the blanket.

How cute are we?
I plan on posting regularly again So thanks for keeping the candle lit for me. I am excited to get back in your lives and share with you my ridiculous life in Asia J

Jun 15, 2013

AMERICA! and people

this eagle snatched me up as I was headed to dinner the other night. there's some rich symbolism in this picture
Well I have finally landed in the U.S. of A. And let me tell you it has been a bit of a rollercoaster. After 48 hours of travel with my mom (She visited me in Asia for my last two weeks) I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona with a hankering for Skyline Chili and a root beer with a side of blue sky and fresh air.
view from my backyard. that sky...
I’ve spent the past two weeks locked in a battle with jet lag, shopping in outlet malls and catching up with friends. I forgot about so many special things in America- cream cheese, instagram, driving, and a whole slew of friends that I have been texting like mad.
Even though I’m so pumped to be home I do feel a little…off. I’m not sure how to explain it except to say that I’m normally a really joyful person and my joy comes naturally and easily (especially when my heart is aligned with the Lord) but since I’ve been home my heart just feels lethargic. I’ve found myself getting the most excited about things that don’t really matter. Maybe it’s reverse culture shock, maybe I’m missing my friends from Asia, or maybe I had unrealistic expectations for reentry. Any way you slice it, I’m just a little off balance.
But on the flip side, I’ve been enjoying some stellar people this past week.
First, my hairdresser and dentist are both German and they are both a riot. My hairdresser is petite and cute and used to be gymnast. Imagine this tiny woman holding my hair and in her thick German accent delclaring solemnly, “Asia…has killed…your hair.” Yeah, she had to cut like 6 inches off…it was a bit devastating. But she gave me some good tips on how to keep it stronger for next year. Looks like I’m going to be investing in some olive oil! But anyway she was fun to see and so was my dentist. I’m telling you my dentist is fantastic. While he was looking at my teeth he was singing some Rage Against the Machine and cracking jokes left and right. My appointment went a half hour late because we couldn’t stop chatting. I don’t know what it is about the Germans, perhaps it’s because my family heritage is German, but I love them and they love me!
And then I met one of my mother’s friends who is this amazing British woman. The three of us met for coffee and she asked me about my life (loved her already at this point) and then she told me about her life; jet setting around the world and splitting my time between Arizona and the UK. This woman has a really unique story and her walk with God is really encouraging. I want her to be my pen pal/ I want to be her.
And then this past weekend I stayed with some friends in Ohio. Let. Me. Tell. You. This family took me in with open arms and made me part of the family. They stocked their fridge and cupboards with fun American foods that I’ve been missing and they bought me Starbucks and my favorite Moleskins and they hung out with me and really just lavished the love of God on me.
And then there’s Megan! My friend Megan and I got together on Sunday night. She and I have been friends for over 9 years. It was amazing to catch up with her and see her just glowing. We sat in her new room in her new house that she shares with a few other girls and caught up. She drank Gatorade out of a ball jar while showing me her new tattoos and I gave her East Asian trinkets. I love this girl to death and it was beyond refreshing to laugh with her.

I’ve just been with some quality people lately. Their love and generosity has been overwhelming and I feel like they brought me back to life a little bit. Good friends do that for me, they point me to the Lord and take my hand and lead me back to the path that I belong on. I wish I had more friends in Arizona though (right now I have…0). I think it would make my summer a little more fun but luckily some awesome pals are flying to see me in July.

What about you guys? Any good friends in your lives?

May 25, 2013

Birthday 5k!

Oh Friends! It has been so long since I’ve blogged or have been present in the blogging world. Ahh things have just been crazy with my last few weeks in Asia. I leave for the US on May 31st which is only a few days away…and that’s pretty terrifying. Also, my mom is in town which is super surreal. It’s weird having my worlds collide.
Okay, but more on all of that later. What I really want to do is update you on my BIRTHDAY RUN! A big goal for me for the past few months was to run a 5k with my friends here in Asia on my birthday (May 18th). When I first started running on March 1st I thought that I wouldn’t even be able to run 3.1 miles until my birthday and I thought even that was a stretch. But after just a few weeks of running I was busting out 3, 4 and 5 mile runs. Ah! It’s been so exciting.
So for my birthday run I wanted to run the 3.1 miles at a faster pace than I typically run. I was hoping for an under 10 minute mile pace. When I started the run with my friends I told everyone that I changed my mind and just wanted to run for fun at my normal pace. Maybe 11 minute miles would be good. But we started running and we set the pace pretty fast. I finished with a time of 30:19. That averages out to about 9:46 per mile. I’m not sure what my splits were but I know my first mile was a bit faster and my last mile was significantly slower.
But seriously, finishing those 3.1 miles with some of my best friends by my side cheering me on…it was pretty magical. Some friends from the Big City drove in on that Saturday morning at like 7am just to cheer me on. They also brought after race treats.
Normally I have soo much to say about moments like this but I don’t think I’ve processed it all. Maybe these pictures will help explain how awesome the day was.
Oh! And now I’m 23! Happy Birthday to me!

ready. to. run.

Class Clown running with E on his shoulders
Post race victory picture : ) I love my friends!

May 3, 2013

1 month

1 month.

I will be home in America in 1 month.

I leave this sweet, beautiful, confusing city in just 28 days and then I will be in Arizona (and then all over the country doing who knows what and getting into ridiculous shenanigans I’m sure).
Gosh, I can’t believe I’m leaving in one month. I have so many emotions about that: sadness, panic, excitement, anticipation…I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. I know I am going to experience at least a little reverse culture shock (10 months without Chipotle changes a person..) but right now I can only think about the things I’m excited to do and see and taste in the US of A. So instead of delving into my deep and complex emotions that I have about leaving here and leaving my friends for the summer, I think I’m just going to list all of the things I’m pumped about for being home. Enjoy…

1.) My Family: my mom, dad, brother, and grandparents all live in Arizona now (they all moved out there in the past year and a half). These people rock and I can’t wait to give them bear hugs and laugh with them.

2.) Salads. Lettuce, tomatoes, avocado (!), cheeeese, dressing, croutons, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, mandarin oranges, more cheese, chicken, bacon (bacon!), almonds….the possibilities are endless. And please don’t be deceived; I’m not talking about a healthy salad here. I’m talking about a delicious salad that is really just a pizza in disguise when it comes to calories and nutrients.  

3.) Cheese. Cheese on pizza, grilled cheese, cheese blocks, cheese on sandwiches (SANDWICHES!), cheese sticks. Pepper jack, Colby jack, cheese and crackers….

4.) The Mountains. My parents live just a few minutes from the White Tank Mountain Regional Park and it is baller. I want to go hiking and see the cacti and the scenery and the views. It just sounds so refreshing. Oh! I also want to run on the trails at the base of the mountain!

5.) The Air. America has some fantastic air. I can’t wait for a pollution free environment where I can breathe deeply without chewing first. I think I will be constantly outside this summer. Oh and the blue skies and the gorgeous Arizona sunsets…that’s sounds perfect.

6.) The Pool: My parents live in a retirement community which means I get access to their beautiful pool! I’m definitely going to be logging some hours there in the AZ heat. (Arizona is pretty hot in the summer if you didn’t know…)

7.) Shopping: my mom and I may have a problem. We enjoy shopping a lot. A lot. A lot. I am pumped to drive with my mom to this fantaaasitc mall about an hour from my parent’s house and spend the morning there shopping and then getting a butter lettuce salad for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. Perfection.

8.) Hanging out with my parents: All of my friends live in Ohio or Texas or the Dominican Republic or Chicago. Which means I have no friends in Arizona. But that’s actually ok because I reeeally love hanging out with my parents. I just want to watch Criminal Minds with them and chill on the couch with some pizza. Or go to a movie with them and refuse to share my candy. Or go to a sports bar on Family Feud night and wipe the floor with the other teams and win 20 bucks (last summer we won 2 weeks in a row!) Basically, I’m huge fans of my parents and after 10 months apart, I’ll be ready to see them

9.) Unlimited Texting. Duh.

How does my list look to you? Am I missing anything? Also, I just love advice so if you want to give me any advice on coming home or things I should do before I go back, let me know!

Apr 29, 2013

a horse with no name

Guess where I spent this past weekend? In the desert. That's right, we're talking camels and sand dunes and yurts (google it) and  lots of blue dung beetles. Some friends and I took a 12 hour overnight train and then a few van rides to this fun and slightly touristy section of desert.The weather was perfect for playing; the sun wasn't out so it wasn't hot or windy. I could have rolled in the dunes all day long.
a yurt! 8 girls slept on that floor. It got a little smelly...

Funny Girl with her new best friend, Stewart.

These camels were pretty BA but they had sad eyes. I wanted to set them all free!

Class clown just flippin' off some sand dunes

And The Bearded Man following suit...these boys are crazy!

My friend TSC killin' it on the dunes

And then we took a ride on this bulldozer

Chill Girl and I kickin'on the dunes

my first jump. slightly terrified.

Bascially the desert is just a giant sandbox for adults. The only reason I was ready to leave was the promise of a shower (I was pretty sandy) before my 12 hour train ride home.
It was a great weekend and that's about all there is to it! : )

Apr 23, 2013

my life right now

Friends! It’s been a while since I’ve posted (and I’m really behind on reading your posts…) but I’m not totally sure why, because I don’t even feel like I’ve been that busy. I guess I just haven’t had much to write about… So today I’m just going to catch you up on the little things going on in my life.
My mom and I last May when I graduated from Miami University!
1.) My mom is coming to Asia on May 20th. You read that right; my sweet, amazing, wonderful mom is coming to the East to kick it with me for 12 days. I’m sooo pumped. We are going to eat delicious food, and check out some sights (I use that term loosely for my small city) and I may even drag her to one of my language classes just for fun. I am so excited for my mom to really understand what it’s like over here. I want her to smell the smells and see the crazy things that a camera can’t snap in time. I miss my mom so much- it’s been 8 months since I’ve seen her!! Gah! I can’t wait for her to get here : )

2.) My room is super dirty. I haven’t cleaned my room in forever and it’s stressing me out. I won’t let any of my friends come in because it’s just too embarrassing. I’m going out of town this weekend but when I get back…I’m devoting hours of free time to scrubbing it and organizing it.

3.) Running is great. I wish I had discovered this wonderful past time earlier. I feel so good and so happy after a run…it’s just so fun. On Monday, Chill Girl and I ran 4 miles together and I did it in 43:26 which is a new PR for me which is especially fun because I hadn’t run in 4 days and I was freaking out that I wouldn’t be able to finish the run so I wasn’t even focusing on time. When I got back from my run, I showered and combed my hair and made up a song about my love for running. And then yesterday Funny Girl and I went on a 2 miles run together which was also a lot of fun. The highlight from that run was a tiny black puppy chasing down the road at the start of the second mile. Adorable.

4.) I’m going back to America in 5 weeks. GAH. This deserves like 10 posts because I’m freaking out about it. The idea of going home for 2 months makes me want to cry, throw up, load my pants, and also get super excited. I want to eat Panera salads and speak English at the grocery store and chill with my mom and dad. But the idea of leaving all of my wonderful friends here and leaving my friends that are graduating is sooo sad. My only consolation is that I’ll be back in August!

Apr 12, 2013

life in a model home

A couple friends and I (that is, Chill Girl plus some Asian friends) took a super fun day trip into a nearby city last Thursday.

We boarded the train at 6:30 am (tell me about it…) and didn’t get home until after 9pm. It was a long day to say the least. We traipsed around the city and went to a park with tons of trees and flowers to take pictures and then to a museum and finally to a small amusement park. The adventure as a whole was really enjoyable but the best part was that something really fun happened in my heart that day (cryptic, I know). But first before I get into what happened, some context:

Living in another culture, in what feels like another world can sometimes feel so unsettling. I know I’ve talked about this before, but let me try and explain it more clearly. Lately, I’ve likened living here in small town Asia to living in a model home. Let me explain. Picture yourself in your home; the home you grew up in, your dorm room, whatever. Imagine yourself curling up on the couch under a blanket with a book or a movie marathon and some coffee or hot chocolate (perhaps this is you right now). Wouldn’t you feel so at home? So relaxed? Like that is the perfect spot for you to unwind and completely let your guard down?

Okay, so now imagine you are walking down the street and you come across a model home that’s unlocked. You walk up the driveway and open the door and find your way to the living room. You sit on the couch and try to settle in. You pick up the remote to turn on the television, but you find out it’s just a fake TV there only for effect. You consider taking your shoes off and lying down but you’re not sure if that would be polite. You are tired and want to fall asleep but other people keep coming into the model home to look around and you can’t totally relax. You are in a home, but it’s not your home, and in some ways it doesn’t even feel like a real home.

Well, that’s how it sometimes feels for me. Like I’m living in a model home. And my heart doesn’t quite feel right here. It’s not that I don’t enjoy this new culture (Oh I do!) and it’s not like I can’t see what’s better about this culture and what’s better about living here than America (again, I can!) but my heart and my mind have American culture in their DNA. It’s what I know. And it’s ingrained in me like the notions that murder is wrong and it’s embarrassing to walk down the street naked. I can’t unlearn those things. So even though I genuinely love it here…it’s not my heart’s stomping grounds.

And I know that feeling comfortable in different cultures can change and I will continue to understand more and relax here as time goes on, but right now I’m still living in a model home.

So now that we have some more context, let’s go back to what happened in my heart on Thursday. As my 7 friends and I were at this cheezy, run-down amusement park, I found my heart almost completely at home. When I was on the swinging ship and toolin’ around in the bumper cars, I searched my heart and I felt at home.

There is a difference between having fun and feeling at home. I could have enjoyed those bumper cars at any point in my time here in Asia but feeling at home…that’s different. And that’s how I felt! At one point during the day, CG, me, and two other friends were on a lake in one of those boats that you peddle and we were stopped in the middle of the lake and we were playing cards. I felt sooo at home. Not just relaxed. Not just having fun. Not just excitement or enjoyment or adventure but rightness. Rightness!
And it wasn’t just the place; it was the people. These sweet Asian girls who are my friends. Sometimes our friendships can feel one-sided because we come from different backgrounds and languages and our worldviews are so different. But during this day things clicked. I didn’t have to try as much as I usually do. I didn’t have to just smile politely at jokes—I laughed because they made me laugh. I didn’t have to try to have fun or make up my own reasons for enjoyment—I just had fun with my friends.

It was so good you guys. I came off the day with such a high. I ate cotton candy like a child, played carnival games (I won a stuffed animal!), and spoke a different language for a good chunk of the time. That’s my life right now and my heart is feeling at home.

Apr 11, 2013

Lookin' fresh with Paul the Panda

Hey Friends! 
What do you think of my new blog design?! I was getting a little tired of my old one, so Amanda at Sweet Tea Paperie hooked me up with this one. I wanted something feminine and girly and Asian and pink… didn't she do a fantastic job??

Amanda was perfect for creating this new look. She’s talented, creative, and intuitive. She had me fill out a questionnaire and then from that she created this cool inspiration board to show me what she was thinking for the new design. 

She really understood what I wanted and went for it. If you are in the market for a new design I highly recommend Amanda!

Oh and did you see my new button? It’s a Panda. I stinkin’ love pandas and this one takes the cake. I named him Paul. 

Apr 2, 2013

Training Tuesdays: Never in a million years

The best part of my week is Training Tuesdays with Abbey and Tamara! (but for real it is)

I started running 1 month and 1 day ago. And never in a million years did I think I would be where I am today. 32 days ago my goal was to complete the couch to 5k program which would put me at running 3.1 miles in 9 weeks. But after just 2 weeks of running I blew that goal away. I’ve been steadily improving over the past 4 weeks and I have been enjoying the heck out of. Honestly, I’m just straight amazed at myself…

Never in a million years did I think I would be here now
Never in a million years did I think I could run 1, 3, or 5 miles
Never in a million years did I think I would consider my body strong, beautiful, and powerful
Never in a million years did I think I would be encouraged by men who want to see me succeed in running
Never in a million years did I think I could achieve, let alone surpass my goals
Never in a million years did I think I would consider myself a runner
Never in a million years did I think I could push through pain on a run
Never in a million years did I think I would love running

But it’s true! All of these things are true. You guys, I’m so proud of myself. My run tonight was fantastic and I feel on top of the world. When I set my mind to things-even physical things- I can do them. And do them well. This is a shocking new reality for me and I want to push this to the limit.

Aaaaaand here is my training from this past week:

Wednesday: 2.06 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: 3 miles
Saturday: rest
Sunday: more resting…
Monday: 3 miles
Tuesday: 5 miles in 54:35!!!!!!!!!!

That’s right friends, I ran 5 miles (for the first time ever!) in 54 minutes and 35 seconds. That’s under 11 minutes per mile!!! And my first mile was around 12 which means I was bookin’ it for the next 4. I ran
with Chill Girl and she kept me on track but I didn't even realize it until the start of the 4th mile that I was making great time. Also, it was a fun run because Chill Girl and I ran into the Beard at around mile 2 and then we ran into Class Clown around mile 2.5. It was such a nice surprise and gave me a little burst of energy. Oh man you guys, it was such a nice run. I’m just on cloud nine right now. Oh and Chill Girl made us chocolate covered strawberries as a post run celebration.
Perfection. Absolute perfection.

Mar 31, 2013

my friends are hot

I stinkin’ love my friends.
They are crazy and fun and smart and deep and ridiculous. We get into crazy shenanigans and give each other grace and listen to each other and occasionally piss each other off. They are pretty great people.
 I have taken some fun pictures of them over the past couple of days and I would love nothing more than to share them with you and the world. If they all had blogs, you would totally dump me in favor of reading about their awesome lives. but for real.
Oh, And I may mix in a few pics of me for good measure. It is my blog sooo…I do what I want : )

Chill Girl: adventure seeker, has an affinity for stray dogs, bad case of wanderlust

Nice Guy: bearer of freakishly long limbs, engaged to an awesome girl, humble pie

Class Clown: running machine, Zelda aficionado, sassy as all get out

The Bearded Man: fear defying outdoorsman, beer connoisseur, rocks springtime Sperry’s
Funny Girl: drawer of fawns, smarter than your average bear, movie critic

And me, Amanda: J. Crew obsessed, directionally and spatially challenged, avid reader and newbie runner