Tag Archives: #sol21

Another SOL Challenge is in the Books!

As I begin my annual SOL Challenge reflection, I’m struck by the odd feeling I have. For the past ten years, I always feel one of two ways on Day 31. I’m either saddened by the end, longing for more time to develop myself as a writer and connect with others in the SOL community, or I’m glad it’s over, as I limp to the finish line, depleted of words and ideas, unable to eke out another slice. It’s typically the former. But today I am feeling somewhere in the middle, like it’s just another day of slicing. It’s a strange feeling to not have a sense of finality. It probably speaks more to my mental state at the moment than anything. My brain is full-up, the endless end-of-school-year to do’s running through my head.

This year has been unlike any other SOL challenge. I’ve written every day, but I haven’t connected with the community as much as I usually do. With my limited time to slice and read/comment, I tended to gravitate toward my Welcome Wagon newbies and old slicing friends I’ve gained over the years. Unlike years past, where I made a point to read a few new slicers each day to get to know other people and expose myself to a wider range of writing styles, I simply didn’t have the time. Apart from my lazy Saturday mornings, where I explored new-to-me slicers, I was on autopilot, mining my WordPress Reader feed of followed blogs to read and comment on. And even then, I didn’t get to everyone I wanted to every day. This is probably why it feels so weird today. This community of writers is what I love most about the challenge and keeps me coming back year after year. I’m disappointed that I didn’t make more time to get to know other slicers and widen my circle. I want to change that next year.

When I look back on the past month of writing, there were some ups and downs for sure. Luckily there were more “ups” than downs! I noticed that challenging days resulted in slices of poetry. As someone who is much more comfortable with narrative, this was a surprising realization. Since moving to my new home on Jeju island, I haven’t made time to write about life here, but this month, I was able to write a few slices about my new experiences. I hope to add more as time goes by. Seeing as I was time poor this month, I didn’t rely on writing formats, such as “Currently…” or “Today I…”, as often as I would have thought I would (I used them only 4 times). A few times my slices were about something that happened in the past, coming from a spark of a conversation or something that triggered the memory. I also wrote about everyday things, like fire drills and snacks with colleagues, which is in stark contrast to my SOL challenge from 2020 where nothing could be classified as “everyday.” I’ll take a little normal and a little boring after last year.

As I close out my eleventh year of slicing in the SOL challenge, I’d like to say a big thank you to my fellow slicers for coming along on this journey with me. I’d like to thank the TWT co-authors for all of the hard work that they put into this challenge each year. I’m sure there are countless hours put in behind the scenes to make this a reality. Lastly, I’d like to thank the slicers who left comments on my slices. Your words were comforting and supportive and very much appreciated! A special shout out to Terje, Elsie, livinglife, Ms. Chiubooka Writes, Ms. Victor Reads, StandingTall, Fran McCrackin, and karpenglish for your support and love this month!

Until next time, SOL community, happy writing!

Leaving Me Vulnerable

leaving me vulnerable

mean-spirited people

wielding their words like swords

cutting down others with every slash

my mood, once buoyed,

sinks whenever they’re around

accusatory phrases abound,

the blame game their main game

the attacks come out of nowhere

unprofessional and unwarranted remarks

leave me unaware of what I did wrong

(did I do something wrong?)

walking on eggshells,

avoiding at all costs

the saying goes,

don’t take criticism

from someone you wouldn’t take advice from,

yet the constant criticism and

hurtful words hurled at me

leaves me feeling vulnerable



even though I wouldn’t go to them for advice

why do I allow someone else

to have that much


over me?

am I too


I don’t think so.

Not Again!


Not again, I thought, as I sprung into action. Grabbing the walkie talkie near the door, I began sweeping my building, calling into the Health and Safety Officer to let him know I was on it. It was 5:30pm, after all, so who knows who’s actually on campus at this time.

As I swept the building, finding no one around (everyone else was smart to leave earlier!), I noticed many of our middle and senior school girls wandering around outside, none of them the least bit worried about the alarm blaring. Some were even walking into buildings, disregarding the directions of the few staff still at school.

Part of me doesn’t blame them. I mean, our fire alarms go off all the time, for the slightest little thing. Seriously…we’ve had no less than 15 since I joined the school in August. I equate it to the boy who cried wolf…too many false alarms makes people complacent. But this one is a live alarm, or so I’m told over my walkie talkie, so we need to take it seriously.

When I reach the muster point, we realize no one has swept the Wellness Center, the largest building on campus, comprised of the swimming pool and change rooms/showers, ice rink, club room, faculty gym, gymnasium, and two cafeterias. I immediately volunteered, along with the Heads of the middle and senior schools. Luckily we didn’t find any students or teachers, but a few of the cafeteria staff and security guards hadn’t evacuated, choosing to keep working instead (probably figuring it was another false alarm). After coercing them to leave and checking all the nooks and crannies, we gave the all clear and made our way back to the muster point.

It wasn’t until a few minutes later that the problem was found (some smoke- no fire luckily- in the upstairs cafeteria had set it off) and the alarm was turned off. Well, there went 30 minutes of my life I won’t get back!

As the Head of Junior School and I walked back to our pods, we decided it was time to call it a day. I’m choosing to look at the positive side…at least I upped my step count and closed my rings with all of the sweeping I did!

What a Difference a Change of Scenery Makes

Weekends are always a time of respite from the workweek just gone and a time to catch up on the one coming. While I always take some time to myself on the weekends, usually Saturdays being my “no-work” days, there’s always that little voice in the back of my head reminding me of all I have to do, all I didn’t get done, and all the people I need to reply to, prepare something for, or support. I can push it down, but it never really goes away.

This weekend Frances and I came to Jeju City, a mere 45-minute drive away from home, to stay in the poshest hotel around, the Grand Hyatt called the Jeju Dream Tower. The hotel, which opened in December of last year, will eventually have 1,600 rooms open, but for now, there are around 500 open to the public. With 14 dining options, a spa, pool, and the most incredible customer service, it lives up to its name of being a dream.

There’s something about sleeping in a different bed that makes all the difference. The act of taking a purposeful break away from everyday life, stopping to pause and relish the luxury afforded to you in a place such as this, is good for the soul. As I sit here in the lobby cafe, sipping my iced chocolate, writing this slice of life as I wait for my massage appointment, I am content. I know that I have work to do later this evening to prepare me for the week ahead, but I’m completely at ease, the staycation having done its job.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve eaten at the Italian restaurant on the 8th floor, with a beautiful view of the bustling city below, where I enjoyed a spicy aglio e olio pasta with delicious ribbons of fresh parmesan cheese straight from Italy; taken two relaxing baths in the largest bathtub ever; caught up on my shows and slice reading/commenting that I didn’t get to this week; dined at the Steakhouse on the 38th floor, literally in the clouds as the fog settled in around us, where I indulged with two Moscow Mules, crusty bread with salty butter, a burrata salad, and some roasted asparagus and smooth, creamy mashed potatoes; had a lazy morning, sleeping until I woke naturally at 9:00am, feeling well rested and refreshed; ordered and enjoyed my first-ever room service breakfast, something I will definitely do again, as eating a delicious meal in my pajamas overlooking the city is so much better than hurriedly elbowing my way through a buffet; had a late checkout and a leisurely break at the cafe, listening to the sounds of the music playing, coffee brewing, and the adorable toddler wandering, laughing, and exploring.

As I leave you to enjoy my final indulgence, an hour-long foot treatment massage, I am quietly at ease, ready to tackle the next two weeks before Spring Break. I hope you were able to rest and recharge this weekend, too.

Year in Photos 2020

One of my annual traditions is reflecting on the past year through photos. Here are my past year in photos reflections- 20142015201620172018, and 2019. While I love telling stories through words, pictures are a great way to tell my story, too.

2020 was a year like no other, as we all know. While most of my previous year in photos include pictures from all the places I traveled that year, 2020 was the year of quarantine, therefore I have fewer places than usual represented in this year’s reflection. I started out the year in Texas, flying back to Jakarta via Dubai on January 2nd. I was able to travel to Borobudur and Lembang in Indonesia before we were quarantined on March 2nd. I went back to Texas in May, where I spent the summer, and then moved to Jeju, South Korea in July. After quarantining in Seoul, I spent the rest of 2020 in Jeju, apart from a couple of quick trips to Seoul. Here are the highlights of my 2020, in chronological order. Which ones are your favorite?

Spring has Sprung in Jeju

Spring is…
sun shining
buds blossoming
breezes blowing
dogs walking
everyone smiling
plants sprouting
outside sitting
skin warming
energy rising

I’m absolutely loving the spring weather here in Jeju! The warmer weather, sunny skies, and gorgeous cherry blossoms make me smile. Today was a perfect spring day, and I couldn’t help walking around, snapping photos. I’m looking forward to riding my bike and taking long walks in the coming weeks. With Spring Break in two weeks, I’m excited to explore more of this beautiful island!

Snack Attack!

As soon as recess began, the room was a flurry of teachers, chatting, filling up their plates, and enjoying the spread. Today’s Snack Attack was a hit! As we snacked, we caught up with our fellow colleagues, enjoying the opportunity to chat with people we don’t get to see often. The rule during Snack Attack is “no shop talk,” so once a week, we all get together for a half hour and get to know one another a little bit more. Since it started 6 weeks ago, we have seen an improvement in staff morale.

After- not much left!!

Frances, the Head of the Junior School, and I hosted Snack Attack today. Next week it’ll be the foreign language teachers. All teams host on a rotation, about once every 8 weeks. We also rotate the day of the week, so that if someone has recess duty, they don’t always miss out. I hope we continue Snack Attack next year, too!

No Thank You

I enjoyed slicing yesterday with a prompt from Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg, a great book on the art of writing memoir. My prompt for today is “Begin a ten-minute writing with No Thank You. Every time you get stuck, write No Thank You again and keep going.”

No Thank You. That’s what I say to young children when they’re doing something I’d rather them not do. I’m not sure who I learned it from, but I have found it’s more effective than just saying no, and it’s much more polite. When I taught preschool for six months in 2017, I said No Thank You often, sometimes with a gritted teeth smile, willing them to stop doing whatever they were doing at the moment that was driving me crazy. I occasionally say it to adults when I don’t particularly like what they’re doing. Well, I say that or No ma’am. Imagine me saying it with attitude. It’s not a polite No ma’am when I say it in this context.

No Thank You, Covid-19. You’ve come into our lives, disrupting everything and effectively changing life as we knew it. While we don’t want it to go back to exactly the way it was before, we’re tired of the way it is now. Bring back some normalcy, please.

No Thank You, I don’t want to receive three emails a day from your company. As if bombarding me with emails will make me want to spend money with you. Play a little hard to get, will ya? Throwing yourself at me like this is a sure fire way to turn me off. In fact, if I’m honest, I’ve stopped even opening the emails you send me, deleting them– sight unseen. I wonder how you feel about that, knowing I am no longer even tempted to open your messages, despite the subject line tempting me with a sale.

No Thank You, cold weather mornings. I’d very much like to go back to the mildly cold mornings that we had earlier this month. I’m so over wearing my winter coat, especially since you’re just going to warm up again by mid-day, forcing me to carry said coat around later. Make up your mind already!

No Thank You, alarm that’s going to go off in 7 short hours. I’m not looking forward to being awoken from my deep sleep too early in the morning. I long for lazy mornings when I can wake on my own rather than from your annoying buzzing.

No More

I attempted a few slices today, but ended up abandoning a few drafts. Perhaps I’ll come back to them in the future. Instead, I’ll be using  Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg as my inspiration for my slice today. This is a fabulous book on the art of writing memoir. My prompt is “No More- What do you no longer have? Go for ten minutes.”

What do I no longer have? Should I list the tangible or intangible things? How about both!

I no longer have the patience for Covid. While I was more tolerant last year, when I thought it was a temporary inconvenience that would go away soon, I am now over the constant worry, inability to move about the world as I’d like, and the sadness and destruction it has brought to so many.

I no longer have my big house and live-in maid that I had in Indonesia. I’ve swapped those for a smaller place and a cleaner who comes twice a week. While it was certainly an adjustment, I’m used to it now.

I no longer have to teach online. We are fully in-person at my school, and we are blessed to have all of our students on campus every day. It’s certainly much easier this way.

I no longer have to stay at home. In Jeju, we are fortunate to be able to move about the island with limited restrictions. Unlike Jakarta, where I was confined to my home, I am able to shop, eat at restaurants, walk around, and meet up with friends. I’m very lucky.

I no longer have to take GoJeks, walk, or take taxis to get around. I now have a car and drive myself wherever I want to go. It’s such a treat to be able to leave whenever I want, as I have not driven since living abroad.

I no longer have to remember my keys since my door has a keypad to unlock it. I love this feature in Korean homes!

I no longer have new stamps in my passport, due to the inability to travel. I can’t wait until I can make up for lost time and fill my passport back up!

New Recipe = Success!

Last weekend, I started watching Netflix’s Nadiya Bakes, which is a cooking show where Nadiya Hussain, one of my favorite British chefs, bakes all kinds of sweet and savory treats. One of the recipes caught my eye, and I just knew I had to try it.

I love quiche, but I’m not a fan of making pie crusts from scratch. In the past, I’ve been able to easily find puff pastry at my local stores, so I would use that as the base, but for some reason, finding puff pastry in Jeju is pretty difficult, so I haven’t made any quiche while living here. But…when I saw that Nadiya’s quiche recipe called for a potato crust, I thought it was a perfect chance to try something new.

The recipe is fairly easy to make, but it does take a little while, since you have to cook it in two stages and let it cool for a half hour before eating. The only part that’s a little bit of a challenge is grating the potatoes and squeezing all the liquid out (white potatoes have so much liquid in them!). I still think I could have gotten more liquid out than I did this go around. The crust on the bottom would have been crunchier if I had.

I went with the basic recipe, which is an egg, cheese, and chive quiche, but I added a mixture of mature cheddar and goat cheese. I think I’ll add grilled asparagus to it next time, but they didn’t have any when I went shopping yesterday.

Here’s Nadiya’s recipe for her Potato Rosti Quiche. If you’re wanting something easy and delicious, give it a try! And bonus…it’s gluten free (if you sub cornstarch for the flour).