Tag Archives: change

Last Day of My 30’s…

Today, 18 May 2021, is the last day of my 30’s. When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll be 40. Sheesh…40…that somehow seems so much older than 39. I hate that turning 40 is bothering me. It’s so cliche. I’m not cliche. Well, not typically anyway. So why is turning 40 such a problem for me? Is it because I’m wondering whether or not I’m “where I’m supposed to be” at age 40? Maybe. Is it because I’ve never been married and am still single. Maybe. Is it because I sometimes wonder what I’m doing as an adult? Maybe.

The whole mid-life crisis thing that supposedly happens when you turn 40, where you suddenly chop off all your hair, buy a new sports car, and quit your job hasn’t happened. Well…I did cut my hair recently, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t crisis-related. I do, however, find myself pondering about making some changes in my life. Changes that would be slightly life-changing, but not quit your job or buy a new car life-changing. More like changes in daily habits that would allow me to be happier and more healthy overall.

As I type this, I’m sitting in a restaurant on the coast in Jeju, overlooking the ocean. Not at all how I envisioned my life at 40- living internationally and traveling the world (you know…when Covid allows)- but I have to say, I’m thankful that my life turned out differently from the one I imagined as a child and young adult. At that time, I never thought I’d teach internationally, let alone in multiple countries. I thought I’d get married by age 22, have a kid by 25, another a couple of years after that, and teach in a school district in Texas until I retired. There’s nothing wrong with that life, but it isn’t mine. My life has led me to interesting places and some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, who are now my people…you know, those people you couldn’t imagine life without.

All of this came from stepping out of my comfort zone, taking a leap of faith, and following my heart. For the next phase in life, my 40’s, I will need to do that again in order to change. If I don’t, I’ll remain stuck in the same old mindset I’m in now, which no longer serves me. I’ll need to get over my fear and just start. My need to be perfect (which never happens anyway) has to fall away. I have to step off into the unknown, knowing that I’ll likely fall flat on my face. But knowing that after I fall, I can get back up. Falling down doesn’t signal the end; it’s just a stumbling block along the way.

Today is the last day of my 30’s. When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll be 40. And contrary to my fears, it’ll be okay. I’ll be stepping into what I’ve heard is sure to be the best decade of my life. Let’s hope they’re right.

My view today. Not bad at all.

Getting Back on Track #sol18

I’ve gained 5 pounds (1.8 kg) since January.

Is this a setback? Yes. Is it the end of the world? Definitely not!

Today at the gym was the first day I’ve really been able to work out for the better part of three months, and while I was rusty, it felt good!

Back in mid-July, when I moved to Jakarta, I set a goal to change my lifestyle. I began working out almost daily, which was a huge change from the working out almost never that I’d been accustomed to for a long while. While I didn’t go on a diet (because I always fail diets), I did start slowly eating much better, cutting out most sugars, drinking mostly water, and eating more fresh fruits and veggies (as a vegetarian, this one was easy). Another change I made was keeping a food and exercise journal. While I didn’t care if I ate “something bad” every once in a while, I found that writing it down somehow made me more accountable to myself, and as a result, I saw positive changes in what I ate.

Since my arrival, I’ve weighed myself around the 15th of every month and recorded my weight in my journal. In the past, I’ve been really caught up on weight, so I tried to limit my weigh-ins to once a month. I mostly succeeded at this goal. From July to December, I managed to lose 20 pounds. While I was proud of myself for losing the weight, I was even prouder of the non-scale victories I experienced. I found that I actually enjoyed working out (well, most of the time). I was getting stronger, and could see tiny muscles beginning to show. My clothes fit better, and I even had to take them in and buy smaller sizes. I had more stamina and didn’t lose my breath as often when climbing stairs or doing cardio. And the biggest one– I felt happier and had more energy.

However, I hit a snag in December. After traveling home for Christmas, I was put in a boot for about 2 weeks (pain in my ankle led the doctor to think I had broken my leg) and told I couldn’t work out. After I was out of the boot, I was still traveling, and working out was difficult (I didn’t make it a priority). And let’s not forget the holiday and travel food I was eating…a definite deviation from my norm! When I got back to Jakarta, I started back at the gym, but about 2 weeks after being back, I fell and sprained my ankle and was once again in a boot, only this time I had to wear it 24/7! The doctor told me no working out until I was healed. And even then, I would need to take it slow. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

Feeling sorry for myself, in a lot of pain, and unable to do much, I became very sedentary. I also turned to foot for comfort, eating more heavy foods laden with carbs, sugar, and fat. I stopped keeping track of my food in my journal. I began drinking tea and sugary drinks again. While I worked out with my trainer a handful of times in the boot, it just wasn’t the same. I was unable to do any cardio, and everything I did do had to be modified. What was the point?

Back to today. After walking without my boot for the past week and experiencing little pain, I decided to ease back into it by hitting the gym today. I worked out with my trainer for 30 minutes, and boy was it hard! But I didn’t whine and I didn’t give up. I even got to do some cardio for the first time in 8 weeks! The rowing machine is one of my favorite things to do at the gym (I’m not a treadmill fan at all!), but I’ve been hesitant to start again because of my ankle. I set a goal of 10 minutes. I managed to make it to 18 and a half before my ankle started to hurt a bit. Not wanting to push it too far, I stopped.

There was a spring in my step as I left the gym today. The old me is coming back and she’s not gonna let a little setback stop her!


Letter C #AtoZChallenge

Continuing my A to Z theme of a memoir encyclopedia, here are my Letter C entries.


When I was a kid, I never had Barbies. I was much too tomboyish for that. But I did have a vast collection of Carebears. Once word spread that I was into the colorful plush bears with designs on their bellies, everyone gave me one for birthdays and Christmases. I had at least one of every Carebear, and even a few repeats. I had three of the pink ones with the rainbow on their belly…like anyone needs three of the same Carebear! What’s weird is that I don’t remember actually playing with them. I think I may have slept with them, but they mostly lived on my wooden shelf, lined up and on display. When I got too old to have stuffed animals all over my room, my mom put them all in a large trashbag and stored them in the garage. Somehow, in the process of cleaning out the garage, they were thrown out. I remember being so sad when I found that out. I wish I still had them so I could show my niece and nephew.

Central Baptist Church

I attended Central Baptist from birth through college. Since it used to be only a block away, we walked to church. I spent loads of time there, and not just on Sundays. I went to Wednesday night church, Vacation Bible School (VBS), Disciple Now, and many other church functions. I made some really close friends there, too. My favorite memories are when we got to come down to the front during the Sunday morning message, or “big church” as my parents called it) for children’s church. I also really loved the youth group. Our youth paster, Tim Skaggs, was a really cool guy who had a knack for engaging pre-teens and teens, his messages a perfect mix of humor and driving home the message. I attended many years of church summer camp, where I learned to spread my wings. Later, as a college student, I worked part time in the Mother’s Day Out program, which I really enjoyed. Central really meant a lot to me.

China (and Change)

China will always hold a special place in my heart. When I began my international teaching career in Shanghai in 2010, I thought I would be there for two years, fulfill my contract, and go back home with a few more stamps in my passport and some interesting stories to tell my friends. Little did I know that I would stay there for five years and become hooked on the international teacher expat life.

When I first moved to China, everything was a culture shock. Nothing felt familiar and I was forever comparing it to life back in Texas. I swear I must have been a broken record. “In my old school…” “This doesn’t taste/look/smell like it does in Texas.” Well, of course it doesn’t. I was in China. I was inundated with newness in everything. New foods. New ways of shopping (How do you bargain?). New smells (There’s nothing that compares to China smell.) New ways of getting around. New language (Now that part was tricky!). New ways of doing things.

That first year was rough. Unbeknownst to me, I was thought to be the one teacher who might pull ‘a runner.’ Lots of tears were shed, some from homesickness, but most from frustration. I learned a lot that year about China, but also about myself. I grew and began to morph into a slightly different version of myself, one that had a thicker skin, could laugh when I found myself in precarious situations, and one that was more of a risk-taker. My food repertoire exploded in China. Being in Shanghai, a international city with cuisine varieties from all over the world, I tried many different types of food for the first time. I’ve since become more adventurous with food and love to try new things.


Christmas is my second favorite holiday. I love the traditions, family time, decorations, and food. Growing up, Andrew and I couldn’t wait to wake up and rush out to the living room to discover what Santa had left for us. Santa always left our presents unwrapped, a pile for each of us on either side of the tree. Our stockings were always filled with oranges and chocolates, and sometimes some socks. I secretly wished our stockings had been filled with all kinds of different small trinkets like Santa left my best friend Nicole. That’s probably why I now fill the stockings with things like that.

After seeing our loot from Santa, we’d bound into mom and dad’s room, jumping on their bed and waking them up, practically pulling them out of bed to come and see what Santa brought us. They were always as surprised as we were. The rest of the morning consisted of playing with our Santa gifts, mom starting on Christmas lunch, and me calling Nicole to ask what she got. We’d then make plans to hang out later that day. Smells of lunch made my tummy grumble, and just when I couldn’t take it anymore, mom would put breakfast on the table.

Mamaw and Grandaddy always came over around noon for Christmas lunch, and the rule was that no one could open presents until we’d had lunch, which was absolute torture for us. We’d beg to no avail. The answer was always the same, “No, we open presents after lunch.” I’m not sure who started this tradition, but I sure didn’t like it as a kid. We still have the same tradition now, only waiting to open presents until after lunch doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m almost always the last to open gifts nowadays. I prefer to watch my niece and nephew open their gifts, their eyes lighting up with excitement. Christmas through a child’s eyes is magic.

Cookie Cake

My guilty pleasure is cookie cake. Great American Cookie Co. cookie cake to be exact. I detest the ones with the colored icing. My favorite is the chocolate chip cookie cake with chocolate icing, and maybe a little bit of white icing, but not too much. Whenever I’m home for the summer, I hint, not so subtlety, for my mom to get me a cookie cake for my birthday, which they missed celebrating with me since it’s in May. My mom doesn’t believe in belated birthday celebrations, so I don’t get the cookie cake. My contribution for the past few years at our Kesler family reunion has been a large cookie cake. I pretend it’s because the kids love cookie cake, which they do, but in reality, I get it for me. I feel guilty if I buy myself a birthday cake, but a reunion cake for everyone is no problem.


One of my favorite pastimes is cooking. I love cooking for other people, but I cook for myself, too. I think what intrigues me is that I can put a lot of different ingredients together and end up with a new creation. Cooking brings people together. Nothing says love than getting a group of people together and sharing a meal. I am really looking forward to cooking this summer with my family and to my new place having a good kitchen. My current kitchen situation is pathetic. I have a tiny refrigerator, a sink, about 2 feet of counter space, and a hot plate, which makes it really difficult to do anything. I’m pretty tired of going out or ordering in at this point!


It’s true what they say. Your cousins are your first friends, and for me, that was most true with my cousin Katy, who is three days older than me. Growing up the same age meant that we had loads in common, and while we didn’t live in the same town, our parents got together often enough and we spent time together at holidays, that we were each other’s best friends when we were younger. I wasn’t as close to Katy’s older siblings, Kevin and Kenna, growing up, the age gap a little too big (10 and 7 years older), but as we’ve become adults, I have really enjoyed getting to know them, and have spent time with them and their families.

My cousin Candice, seven years my junior, and I became really close when she was in high school and I was in college/out in the real world. I remember taking a trip with her to Chicago over Spring Break during my first year of teaching. It was both our first times to visit, and coming from Texas, we were not prepared for the snowy weather. I remember traipsing all over the city visiting museums and other sites with her. One of the memories from that trip that sticks out most was when we got lost in search of a comedy club where we were going to see an improv show. Even though I was the older (and presumably wiser) one, I was naive and would go up to shady strangers to ask for assistance. Candice scolded me on more than one occasion after I talked to unsavory men on the street. One of my tips eventually paid off and we made it to the club, where we laughed our heads off. I vaguely remember that one of us was called up on stage to be a part of the show, but for the life of me, I can’t remember if it was Candice or me.

Candice’s younger brother, Nathan, and I weren’t very close growing up, mainly due to the fact that I am 11 years older than him, but I have started to get to know him as an adult, and he’s a really cool guy. I love how goal-oriented and hard-working he is.

I have two younger cousins from my mom’s side, Laura and Matthew. Laura is a freshman at A&M and Matthew is still in high school. For most of their lives, they lived in Tennessee, so we didn’t see each other often. I’ve visited them a few times since they moved back to Texas, and I am proud of them. They are both very smart and talented. I’d love to spend more time getting to know them.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]