Monthly Archives: March 2019

I Love Surprises!

Those of you who know me or who have read my slices in the past know I love surprises. When someone goes out of their way to surprise me, it lights up my day. But you know what I love even more than getting surprises? Being the one to surprise someone else!

I’ve been planning a surprise for my cousin Katy for about a year now. The surprise was going to be for our fortieth birthdays (we are three days apart, y’all!), but since I’m not sure what will be going on in my life 2+ years from now and because I’m impatient, I figured why not, let’s make it a 38th birthday surprise. Not exactly the same ring to it, but what the heck, a surprise is a surprise, right?

Last summer, Katy and I were texting as I wandered the streets of Mandalay on my solo trip to Myanmar. I snuck in an question that would have normally raised suspicion, but since I was traveling and we were talking about “travely” stuff, it seemed innocent enough. I asked her where she would go if she could go anywhere in the world. Her top five places were Italy, New Zealand, France, Brazil, and the Maldives. This information stayed tucked away in my mind.

Seeing as I went to both New Zealand and Italy last year, the Maldives are more of a romantic getaway, and Brazil is just too far away (for now), that left France. Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world, and as they say, Paris is always a good idea. So, after talking to my aunt (Katy’s mom) about whether she could help watch Katy’s kids this summer (she will!), I called Katy up this morning.

After catching up for a bit since we hadn’t talked in a while, I hit her with the surprise.

“Remember when I asked you last summer about where you’d like to go if you could go anywhere?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, I was gonna wait to do this for our fortieth, but I figured it’s a good idea to do it now. How would you like to go to Paris with me?”

“What?!?”

“I’d like to take you on a trip to Paris this summer. Would you like to go?”

With tears in her eyes, she excitedly said, “Yes! I’d have to be crazy to say no to that! Are you sure?”

Laughing, “Yes, I’m sure.”

Since she was so shocked, it took a little more convincing to make her understand I was actually serious.

At the end of the conversation, she said, “You’re the coolest cousin ever!”

Right back atcha Katy! Love you so much and can’t wait to explore one of the most dynamic and beautiful cities in the world with you. Paris, we’re coming for ya! ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo credit: travelandleisure Instagram post

What’s My Thing?

This morning I was catching up on a podcast I enjoy called ‘Out of the Ordinary.’ At the end of Episode 19, “You Called Me WHAT Now?”, Christie and Lisa Jo have a conversation about what their thing is, and it got me thinking, What’s my thing?

For as long as I can recall, talking’s been my thing. I talk fast and often and my stories go on forever. I’m getting much better at being more of a concise writer, however my oral storytelling is anything but. I’m the kind of person who could talk the ear off a mannequin. Put me in a long line, such as waiting for a ride at Disneyland, a grocery store check-out line on a busy day, or waiting in the line at immigration, and I’m bound to make at least one friend. I just can’t help it. I love to talk.

Back in elementary school, I got straight A’s, but the thorn in my parents’ side was the dreaded U I got in “Controls talking” on my report cards. I tried so hard to improve. I sometimes got an N, but never an S or an E. Finally giving up on the idea that I would earn good marks in this category, they were content with anything above a U. By the way, can you imagine if our report cards now had “Controls talking”? Ridiculous!

Most people nowadays prefer a text over a phone call, but I much prefer chatting over the phone rather than typing it all out. I like to hear the infection in the other person’s voice; it tells you so much about how they’re feeling. When I tell my stories, I want them to hear the different voices I use and understand the subtle nuances you can only get when listening. Plus, I want to know if they’re really laughing or just using the obligatory lol. I tend to annoy people when I call out of the blue, without the warning text first, but my friends that really know me get that that’s just me, and they answer most of the time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

When I think about why I have the gift of the gab, I guess it’s because I enjoy making personal connections with other people. Having a conversation with someone helps you get to know them on a different level and develop a stronger bond. Texting is okay, but after a while, the connection between you and the other person wanes, unless you regularly talk to or see them.

Sarcastic banter also fuels me. Paying someone out in a playful way is so much fun, but way easier to do in person. So often written text can be misinterpreted. The reader reads into it, putting their own attitude and spin on it. The subtlety is lost, and unless you really know someone, most sarcastic comments and jokes can come across as mean when sent as written communication.

So, despite the changes in how people communicate lately, where much of it is now virtual and that human connection is lost, I still choose to talk because talking’s my thing.

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You Never Know What Youโ€™re Gonna Find

I love grocery shopping in other countries. You never know what you’re going to find when you look around. Some things are familiar, others are odd, quirky, or unusual.

After the gym tonight, I popped into Hypermart, a local Indonesian grocery store, to pick up a few things. As I wandered the aisles, I started to notice the differences in stores here and back home, so I snapped a few pictures.

You can buy a bunch of random frozen food in bulk, such as hot dogs, french fries, fish fingers, chicken tenders, and strange colored meats. This idea really grosses me out…all the germs (plus the weird mystery meats)!

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Looking for some fruit covered in styrofoam and plastic wrap? Check! If only nature had a way to protect the inside of the fruit…;)

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How about some oil in a large bag? You’ve got many, many choices of brands!

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If you’re craving a Jell-O like snack in a small plastic container, look at all of the colorful choices you have to choose from!

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Buying small quantities of rice in Asia is hard to do. Hope you like a lot of rice!

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To ward off the would-be thieves, all the jars of Nutella have anti-theft sensors on them. Who would have thought Nutella was such a hot commodity?

If you’re in the mood to try some different kinds of meat, you can grab some chicken heads or feet. Ewwwwww!

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Think all cheese needs to be refrigerated? Think again! You can buy some disgusting processed cheese right from the aisle.

What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen in the grocery store?

A Sweet Surprise

“Good morning, Ms Kesler,” Marson said when he came into my office this morning carrying a bag.

“Good morning, Marson. How are you? What do you have there?” I replied.

Smiling, he handed me the bag. “This is from my mom.”

“Thank you. What’s it for?” I asked, wondering why I would possibly be given a gift when my birthday isn’t for another two months.

Marson shrugged his shoulders, then turned around, smiled and left my office.

Opening up the bag, I was greeted with a bunch of goodies! Along with a fashion magazine, I was given some fancy crackers, a bottle of wine, chocolates, and some delicious cookies from a fancy bakery in town. In addition to the goodies, there was a handwritten note thanking me for my help on the Primary Production last week.

Nothing brings a smile to my face more than a surprise. What a great start to the week!

Story

“I want people to know your story.”

This quote, among others, resonated with me last night when I watched A Private War, a movie based on the true story of Marie Colvin, a war correspondent who courageously went to the frontlines of war-torn countries to write the stories behind the wars, to know and tell people’s stories in a way that would make others care to listen and take action.

To me, this is the essence of the Slice of Life Challenge. Through our stories, people get to know and care about one another. People want to know your story, and by telling it in an authentic and honest way, they become connected to you and invested in your story.

Through speaking our truth, we reveal ourselves and make genuine connections. Putting the words on the page takes courage, as we might not get it right all the time. Writing our stories is essentially putting ourselves out there for the world to see. Some parts may be pretty, others may not, but that’s real life.

This year I haven’t put myself out there as much as I have in the past. My stories have been more on the superficial, easygoing side. As we glide into the second half of this challenge, I’m going to strive to speak my truth and tell my story in an authentic way, because I want people to know my story.

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Saturday Morning Routines

I love Saturday mornings. They are just for me, time to devote to doing nothing and decompressing after the work week. I wake up whenever I want to without the aid of my alarm, although I haven’t been able to sleep in very much lately. I then reach for my iPad and catch up on some of my shows from the week- Grey’s, Law & Order: SVU, This is Us, and Modern Family.

After a show or two, my tummy starts to grumble. Time for brekkie! Saturday mornings are for big breakfasts, not my typical fruit, yogurt, and granola. Two fluffy pancakes with butter and syrup, scrambled eggs with cheese, and strawberries hit the spot. A hot cuppa tea afterwards, and I’m ready to snuggle up on the couch to read and comment on some slices. Having caught up on my usuals with some new ones sprinkled in, it’s back to my shows.

By the time I’m caught up on the TV drama front, it’s midday, time to come out of my me time cocoon. That is, until next week when I’ll do it all over again.

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Breathing a Sigh of Relief

Months of preparation

Countless hours of rehearsals

Making sure everything is just right

Stress and worry taking its toll

Will they remember their lines?

Will they get the timings right?

Will the audience be impressed?

Performance day is finally here

Sweating and pacing as the audience arrives

Did I remember to put deodorant on today?

Finding my seat, it’s time to begin

With each performance, my shoulders relax a bit more

All that practice was worth it

Everyone is doing their best

The audience seems to like it

The finale is up next

Will they pull it off?

This was always the shakiest part in rehearsals

They did it!

The audience is clapping and cheering

We all breathe a huge sigh of relief

It’s over

We made it

Happy and smiling after the show. Parents were so impressed and excited about the studentsโ€™ performance today!

Looking Forward to a Break

Quality time with friends. Delicious food, so much delicious food. Beach bum status. Familiarity mixed with newness. These are what I can expect to experience in just a couple of weeks.

After a long stretch without a holiday, a break is needed. Short-tempered, exhausted and run down, with less and less energy at the end of the day. Stretched thin, the cracks are beginning to show.

What once seemed impossibly far away is now within reach. Eleven more school days. Fifteen actual days. Spring Break is on the horizon. With a plan to spend time in some of my favorite places with some of my favorite people, I’m beyond excited.

I’ll be heading to Bangkok for the first part of the week, where I get to reunite with Callie, eat all the Penang curry, Kao Soi, and mango sticky rice I can, and visit my old students. Being surrounded by familiar people and foods is comforting, and Bangkok is a place that brings me joy.

After my short visit in Bangkok, I’ll be meeting up with Linner in Bali, one of those places you just can’t help but love. Linner and I always have lots of fun together, and I force her to take an insane amount of selfies. It’s a wonder she still loves me! While I’ve been to Bali several times, it won’t be the same since we’ve decided to try out a new city, where we can both experience new things.

In Sanur, we’ll be near the beach, where I’m sure we’ll spend loads of time. Balinese food is so fresh and delicious! I hope we are able to try out all of the restaurants I’ve found. What I’m most excited about is finding the perfect place to stay! We decided to splurge a bit on the hotel to treat ourselves, but since we’re splitting it, it’s worth it (even though we’re splurging, it’s only 130 USD total per night). Karmagali Boutique Suites is a five-star hotel and the #1 place to stay in Sanur according to Trip Advisor, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be spectacular!

Here are a few pictures of our hotel:

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Look at that pool! I’m confident this is going to be my new happy place. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

I just realized…this is my 300th blog post! ๐Ÿ˜

Today I…

Today I woke up before my alarm clock. For the third day in the row. Who am I??

Today I listened to Dermot Kennedy on heavy repeat. Again. Thanks achaiteacher for the introduction!

Today I attended five meetings.

Today I was frustrated and let my emotions get the better of me.

Today I joked around with some colleagues.

Today I helped lead the Primary students in their last practice before tomorrow’s dress rehearsal. They did much better today!

Today I attended an Art Exhibition by our IB Diploma students whose work was very impressive.

Today I tried to convince a colleague to join the SOL Challenge next year. He might need more nudging.

Today I walked 9,801 steps. Guess I’ll need to walk a few circles around my living room to reach my daily goal.

Today I had to deal with some discipline issues. The lack of routine this week is taking its toll on us all.

Today I enjoyed an energetic and exciting conversation with friends over dinner.

Today I sent 18 emails. Way less than normal!

Today I took some things personally. Stress from the production is causing negative side effects.

Today I read and commented on my fellow slicers’ slices.

Today I told stories. Some funny, some interesting.

Today I was not nearly as productive as I needed to be, putting me further behind.

Today I ate lunch, at my desk, while in a meeting, typing between mouthfuls.

Today I worried about what a friend is going through, wishing I could give her a hug, listen to her, and simply be there for her.

Today I thought about what to slice all day.

Today I was going to write a story, but this list wanted to be written instead.

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Do I have to go?

I’m too tired. I didn’t feel good all weekend, and I’m still not one hundred percent. I had to wake up at 4:15 this morning to get all the work done that I didn’t get done last night, since I was so exhausted that I fell asleep by 8:00. I have so much work that it’s piling up and I can’t see the end of the tunnel. It’s okay if I don’t go, right?

Pulling myself together, I quickly changed at work before ordering a Go-Jek. Hopping on the back of the motorbike, headphones in, I rewatched this amazingly inspiring video I found today on Instagram to psych myself up. Groovin’ to the music, I immediately searched for the song on Spotify, adding it to my playlist. Before I knew it, I’d arrived.

Glancing at my watch, I realized I had less than ten minutes to go. I rushed in, jogging up the escalators instead of my normal coasting. By the fourth floor, my hammies were burning, my breath rapid. I handed over my card quickly, having just enough time to drop off my bag in the locker. Looking around, I saw her waiting. I made it. It was time to get to work.

Despite the litany of excuses playing in my head begging me to just go home, I honored my commitment and went to the gym. And you know what? It didn’t suck.

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