This week I learned something that I will forever remember. Since moving to Indonesia, I have seen many times in public or from pictures on Facebook of teachers or students, a hand symbol that I had no idea what it meant or why I saw everyone doing it. It was a hand symbol that looked like a clenched fist with the palm of the hand facing the person without the thumb and index finger. Both the thumb and index finger were pressed together in the shape of what I thought, looked like a V. Little did I know, this odd hand gesture with the thumb and index finger hanging out of the clenched fist, in what seems like an awkward snap of the finger, symbolizes a small heart. Like this:This hand symbol is to show love and admiration for another person in a friendly way. I thought to myself, “wow, this entire time I perceived it to just be an Indonesian thing that I didn’t know about because I have grown up on the other side of the world.” I asked my students what it was and they excitedly told me that it was the Korean sign for love. How cool. I would have never in my life known this if didn’t come here. This made me reflect on how important it is for one to open their minds and see the beauty of other parts of the world. It’s little moments like these that make me think of how thankful I am for these small moments of learning that in fact have a huge meaning and impact on my life.
Yahtzeeee! Now, I am officially half way through! I’m a little behind, and have not been doing a good job at logging my words, but hey! That’s okay. Sometimes life happens and we eventually get caught up. These last couple of weeks have been crazy with work, end of semester classes, my birthday and a few spontaneous trips, but I made sure to write and journal daily, even if it was just a few words. I have definitely done more reading than writing these past few days, but I am happy to say that my reading has sparked new ideas. I’m proud that I have reached the half way mark, even though I am a few days behind, but tomorrow is Sunday and Sunday’s are for catching up and editing 🙂
This weekend I was asked by a dear friend to join on an organized trip from the Ministry of Culture & Tourism. I am currently working on my photography skills and learning the science behind the right type of lighting for the best portrait photography. Knowing this, she asked me to be the photographer for the tourists coming from Singapore to visit Lake Toba. I obviously screamed yes in excitement and just like that we were on our way to Parapat with the team. Our adventure began promptly at 6am the next day. We met the tourists from Singapore at the boat launch and boarded onto the ferry to Samosir Island. (In a previous blog post, I described how to get to the island). We took the same way and began our journey in the Batak Villages. Tourists learned the traditional TorTor dance, were educated on the Batak Culture and were told tales of the Batak people who lived on Samosir Island.
After photographing the tourists in the Batak Villages, we made our way to my absolute favorite place in Indonesia: Taman Eden 100
Taman Eden100 is a beautiful hidden gem, deep in the forest of North Sumatra. What’s even better? There is a little coffee shop right in the middle of the forest with a beautiful waterfall just a short walk ahead. Sherwood Black Coffee was named after the forest in Robin Hood, and is just as magical as the fairytale forest. Tuak trees, hundreds of bird species, siamangs, and enormous banana leaves cover the trails in this forest, along with the berry fields, passion fruit flowers, and the vast amounts of natural beauty. Every time I come here, I can honestly say that I become a better version of myself. Any negative thoughts, homesickness, things that have not gone my way or events that I simply have no control over disappear when I enter Taman Eden. I am always taken back by the sweet simplicity of everyone coming together and living in that very moment. Nothing else matters because I am where I am and only I’m in control of my thoughts and happiness.
In these last few months, I have definitely had my ups and downs of getting used to living in a new country. Not only a new country, but a different culture and a completely different way of life. If I tell you that everything has been fine and dandy I’d definitely be lying. The culture shock has been real and many times I find that I’m asking myself, “is it seriously worth it?” My answer is absolutely yes. I have definitely cried more times than I can count, I’ve been so homesick to the point where I’ve been physically sick, I’ve had a hospital visit as well as a dentist visit (scariest moment of my time here so far), and I’m catcalled everywhere I go. Being the only “bule” in this area has definitely taken its toll on me, but I like it. When I think back to why I signed up for this adventure, I’m reminded that I did this so I can feel how my students feel coming through the doors of a new country, let alone a new school. It’s scary, it’s nerve-wracking, but it builds resilience. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Or in other words; Mental Toughness. My goal for this year was to build that mental toughness of mine. I will never talk about the negatives that have happened or will happen because in the end, all of these little pieces of life have helped me build on to my mental toughness and I am extremely thankful for that.
A little behind, but still able to finish before December! My goal by Friday evening is to get to 17,500. Stay tuned 🙂
Woohoo! All caught up now and ahead of my goal!
Well, since I was extremely sick yesterday, I wasn’t able to do much. I’ve been sick for the last two days and didn’t want to exert my strength yesterday because I knew that if I wrote, it wouldn’t be the best quality and it would feel more like a chore than pleasure. After going to the doctor (that was quite the experience in itself), I feel much better today and was able to wake up early and log 3,494 words! Woo!
“If it’s not going to matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes worrying about it”
We all come across people in our lives who will put us down, hurt our feelings, and make us feel less than who we are. Sure, it stings a little bit and it may make us shed a tear or two and wonder why, but I can promise you that these people will not matter in five years.
You will come across people on the train ride to work who look at you badly, or the woman at the post office who laughs at your foreign accent, or the barista at Starbucks who gets your fancy coffee order wrong. Here’s some advice: don’t spend more than five minutes worrying about it. If your current relationship is constantly making you feel down about yourself, makes you feel less than worthy and you are spending more than five minutes worrying about it, then end it. If your job is constantly giving you tension headaches, and stressing you out until you lose sleep, quit. If you stub your toe when you wake up or spill your coffee getting into the car, I can promise you that it won’t matter in 5 years, 5 weeks or even 5 minutes.
The next time someone upsets you, or something doesn’t go the way you planned it to, think of how this will affect you in 5 years. If it has no detrimental impact on your life, let it go in under 5 minutes.
Wow. I never thought I’d have this type of free time to sit down and enjoy this kind of creative writing. I have set a goal of 50,000 words that I will write by the end of this month in honor of National Novel Writing Month. It’s crazy to think that once you get started you’re off. You just have to sit down, put on some good beats and let your imagination run wild. Not only am I aiming to reach my goal of almost 2,000 words. I am also drawing/painting/sketching a picture to go with my writing for the day. Who knows what will come out of it!
“The problem? She had no idea what she wanted. She knew how to get to where she needed to be and she knew damn well how to work hard, but what did she want in life? She needed evil. She needed more excitement and she knew exactly where to look.”