Tag Archives: radiant recovery

Happy New Ear!

3 Jan

Well it seems all too easily 2013 has slipped away with the arrival of 2014.  As is typical here at English Village, we worked right through the holidays.  And so I shared my New Years with a very young assembly of party-goers, our students.  As I did my best in class to communicate about the New Year in very simple English, two of my youngest students liked saying “Happy New Ear”… instead of “Happy New Year”… and so, I pass their amusement on to you.

It continues to be a quiet winter season.  The snow is periodically melting giving way to dirty streets and icy patches.  English Village is currently entertaining a group of month-long visitors for a program called VIP.  This student body is generally around 11 – 14 years old.  The month of January is a winter holiday for Korean students.  As learning English and studying is a high priority here, around 200 lucky students are spending their winter holiday here.  I am not teaching these students as I am teaching the youngest students at English Village, a program where we read books, do simple english activities, play games and do crafts.  Truly a world apart from the busy adolescent body of VIP.

I continue to be aware of what an odd life I lead here in English Village.  Recently a friend from Germany wished me well in my current adventures in the UK.  “I am not in the UK…” I had to distinguish to him.  “I am at a place called English Village… it’s in South Korea.” True, the architecture of English Village is hardly reminiscent of South Korea… and it’s not intended to be.  This is a place where South Koreans can be immersed in the English language and something like western life… without leaving their country.  It’s the only place where I can feel like a rock stock just for smiling, saying hello and speaking English.

Despite the strangeness of life in English Village, there are many things that I cannot help but be grateful for.  In the simplest of terms it has afforded me a safe and mostly gentle respite in life where I can live, develop and grow.  It is nestled in the un-busy hills of Paju City that always feels like a relief to me after returning home from a day in Seoul.  There are many friendly English-speaking faces here and a whole network of resources for surviving and navigating life in South Korea.  Plus, there is a whole world to discover not far outside our door and easy access to Seoul.

Recently I took myself on a little pre-New Years celebration/adventure to a traditional Korean bath, known as a jjimjibang.  I went to a bath in Seoul called Dragon Hill known for its friendliness and accessibility to foreigners (that’s me…).  It was only my second visit since arriving in Korea.  I have to admit it still takes a little “somethin'” for me to go to a public place where I will be walking around naked in front of strangers.  While it might seem unusual to some Americans, the practice is quite common in Korea. At the Dragon Hill spa, you take the elevator to the women’s sauna floor, find your locker, take off your clothes and you’re on your way!

The sauna itself is filled with a myriad of inviting, warm, herbal baths.  Ah, so nice and invigorating.  It’s sort of fun for me to go there as a foreigner who doesn’t speak or understand Korean.  In some ways I get to be almost invisible as I glide in and out of the tubs surrounded by many Korean faces and bodies.  It’s also a joy to share the innocence of unspoken communication… the simple things that are done to acknowledge someone else in a friendly way – a laugh, a smile when there is something to be said but no words to use.

While at Dragon Hill I gave myself a special New Years treat and signed up for a massage.  This was, as it turns out, no ordinary massage… but 90 minutes of full body acupressure, thai massage, foot massage, facial acupressure, head massage and facial treatment… whew!  Are you feeling relaxed yet?  It was, in fact, one of the most kind and loving things I have ever done for myself.  At one point I just laughed out loud in sheer joy as I had some sort of facial treatment on my face (that felt really cool and refreshing) while my body continued to be coaxed into release and relaxation.  Granted, it wasn’t quite the personal “massage therapist” experience you might have back in the States.  At one point I heard someone call the name of the man who was giving me my message. He responded to the call immediately and just dropped my leg on the table in mid-massage.  Nonetheless, he was very good at what he did and I was grateful.

As this year has come to an end, myself and others are looking to the New Year with some sort of intention or fresh energy. In honor of that I thought I would share a few of the things that really make a difference in my life.  If you know me or read my blog, you are already aware that Reiki and SGI Buddhism are both spiritual pillars in my life.  But here are a few others that I seldom mention that would enhance any New Year.  Enjoy!

  1. Dan Millman’s 4 Minute Workout
    You many know Dan Millman, the well-loved guru whose story is told in the movie Peaceful Warrior. I learned this sweet little workout during a cold, quiet winter in Germany.  It’s great because it moves and addresses every part of the body in only 4 minutes.  It’s a perfect way to bring some movement into your life on daily basis.
  2. Art of Living Sudarshan Kriya
    I stumbled upon the Art of Living in post-hurricane Katrina New Orleans.  Their was something about the organizational name that caught my attention.  I attended an informational session and felt inspired to take their first course which teaches the Sudharshan Kriya.  The Kriya is a simple sequence of breathing and movements.  I have done it regularly for about 7 years now. It’s something I can count on to ease stress, reduce anxiety, bring me back to my body, and help release any physical pains or discomforts.  Click here for more information and to find a course near you.
  3. Radiant Recovery
    Many of us know… on some level… you are what you eat.  For many people, myself included, eating a heathy and appropriate diet is the difference between day and night in health and feeling good.  A friend referred me to this program of eating.  It’s signature book is “Potatoes not Prozac” as part of the ensemble of new eating habits is eating a potato before bed.  It is targeted for people who are “sugar sensitive” and gently unfolds a program backed by science to support health and well-being. Do you think you might be sugar sensitive?  Read here to learn more!

How about you?  What are your plans and inspirations for the New Year?  Any cherished goodies to share to help launch me and others into the New Year?

Wishing you a powerful, happy and transformative New Year!  And as always, thanks for reading!

Photo on top, in class with the little ones we made party hats for our New Years celebration!

Winter Warm-up

6 Dec

Good morning from English Village!  Winter is slowly creeping in.  Admittedly, I am not a cold weather person.  But with some proper layering and a good scarf… so far, not so bad!  As the cold weather has begun to show her face, it is standard these days to see teachers roaming about wearing coats, hats and scarves – inside and out.

It’s been a good week.  Life has been about teaching English, staying warm and easing into winter. Warm soups and spicy herbal teas. Enthusiastic (and some not so enthusiastic) young Korean English students.  And the regular  diversion to Seoul.

This past Sunday I went with some friends from my SGI Buddhist group to a restaurant in Itaewon (in Seoul) called Petra’s Palace.  It was wonderful!  It’s a mediterranean restaurant owned by a family from Jordan.  The selections are delectable.  I had the chicken kabob.  Another friend had the curry.  There was hummus and tabouleh for everyone.  The best thing for me was – nearly the entire menu included items with no sugar added!  Hooray!  It was a wonderful, satisfying meal and I look forward to going back.

When we were leaving Petra and heading up the small windy road in Itaewon, a Korean man on a motorcycle buzzed by in an elaborate flair.  His motorcycle was decorated with…I’m not sure what… but it was big and unexpected and he couldn’t help but be noticed as he sped loudly down the alleyway.  It was such a breath of fresh air to see something outrageous… if even for a moment.  After living in New Orleans for 13 years, it seems that is something my spirit has been missing.

Adventures in teaching English continue.  Overall, it’s really a great break to teach small groups of young children.  While most days ease by with the typical reading of books and English games and activities… every once in a while there is something unexpected or unpredictable.  I have a few little ones who don’t get along with each other and this is challenging in class.  They say things to each other in Korean and… I don’t know what they are saying.  So I don’t know if one is provoking the other or if I need to intervene.  Inevitably it ends with someone getting mad, not talking, stomping off and sometimes… in the swinging of little arms and someone getting hit.  Yikes.  Nothing too serious, as it is little people arms and little people hits.  The parents are helpful and supportive but as they speak limited English and I don’t speak Korean… it can be difficult to create a good resolution.

I have some happy breakfast news in my world of healthy eating.  A friend of mine recently turned me on to a new protein powder called Juvo Raw Green Protein.  I just got it this week from my favorite Korean delivering company, iherb.com.  It’s fabulous and I am so excited.  It turns out this product was actually created by a Korean doctor who teaches at a local university. It has wonderful ingredients, doesn’t taste too bad, and provides all the nutrients and proteins I need for breakfast in the morning.  It has slimmed down my morning routine considerably (which typically includes making oatmeal and eggs every morning.  Ugh.)  I follow a diet called radiant recovery for people with sugar sensitivity.  At the heart of this diet is plenty of protein and healthy carbs at every meal (oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa…).  It takes some effort to do, but it is well worth it.  This protein powder is a big help!  Yippee!

The winter slowdown is starting to kick in.  The skies are white.  The wind is cold.  And the need and desire to be out and about is… diminishing.  Life is slow right now.  And in truth, it feels pretty good.

Good bye for now from the newly barren lands of English Village, reminiscent of the stark and quiet country I saw when I arrived here nearly a year ago.  I am sending warm winter thoughts your way!  Feel free to write and let me know how you are.  It’s always good to hear from you!

Being at Home Anywhere in the World

18 Sep

It was recently the 7th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as we were reminded with the arrival of Hurricane Isaac.  I lived in New Orleans for thirteen years and like so many others was uprooted by the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  That was the beginning it seems of my Gypsy training.

I was in Houston, TX attending the Landmark Forum for “just the weekend” when Hurricane Katrina hit. From there I traveled to Austin, TX where I lived for about 18 months before returning home to New Orleans.  With my former apartment flooded and rents on the rise because of increased insurance costs for homeowners, I was lucky to find an affordable place to live when returning.  I rented out two private back rooms and a bathroom in a comfortable Mid-City home.  It wasn’t quite the “home” I imagined for myself, but I was grateful for an affordable place to land. Time flew and I was there for 3 years.  When my landlord’s daughter was to return home and she would need my space, it was my time to leave.  As I no longer had my affordable place to live, I started taking some creative leaps.

I stayed for one month in a private home that used to be a bed and breakfast in exchange for graphic design work.  Next a friend wanted me to house sit while he was out-of-town and his home was for sale.  Six months later I left that home when it sold and moved to another home for sale until, six months later it too sold.  It was from there that I flew the coop and headed to Europe.

These years of transition and travel have accentuated the necessity and importance of creating and cultivating an inner home.  I began to rely on and develop an inner sanctuary and place of respite.  This is a place I can turn to no matter where I am in the world and no matter what may be happening in my world, inside or out.  It isn’t always easy moving from place to place, in foreign environments with life handing unexpected twists and turns.  Here are some ways that I have come to rely on to support myself and the cultivation of an inner home as my world around me shifts and moves.

Spiritual Practice
For me, connection to spirit is a place that I go to for comfort and ease when life around me is constantly changing or when life seems chaotic.  A spiritual practice is like a daily (or more) taste of the divine.  It is like visiting that greater place we call home no matter where I am or what is up in the world.  I find the more I visit that place through daily practice, the more it surprises me with visits during my regular ordinary life.

Some of my favorite spiritual practices are:

Time in Nature.
There is nothing that satisfies my spirit or soothes my soul more than spending time in the outdoors.  The feel of a gentle cool breeze, the bright colors of a blossoming flower, or the warmth of the sun on my skin are core experiences that bring me joy and that I have come to rely on for peace and comfort like a tender, loving parent.  Every day, no matter where I am, I take a little time for nature.  Sometimes it’s been a stroll along a farmers road between potato fields in Germany.  Other times its been a walk along a near-by river or park.  I am usually alone and it is often quiet as I am greeted by whatever that day has to offer.

Dance.  I love to dance.  I am not a professional dancer or anything, but for me there is nothing like listening to some music that makes me want to shake my booty and just moving and dancing for a bit.  Nearly every day in the privacy of whatever room I might be in at the time, wherever I am in the world, I put on a little music from my iTunes on my computer and I dance!  Sometimes mellow, sometimes not.  But it always feels good to just move!

Practice being in the Present Moment
We all know the phrase… “wherever you go… there you are…” and so it is true that no matter what has happened or what is to happened what is always there is the present moment.  I am no different from anyone else… with my mind wandering at times hastily to what has been or to what will be.  But I take the time to practice… being where I am… in the moment.  Sometimes it may be as simple as calling my attention to my fingers and the feel of the iron and the sheets as I was ironing at Les Battees, feeling my feet in my shoes as they meet the ground.  Sometimes it is noticing my breath… sometimes breathing easily, sometimes not… When I remind myself to slow down and pay attention to just the present moment I am often awakened to expanded perception in that moment… and expanded joy.

Eating Well
A simple healthy diet is the cornerstone of well-being for me and makes a big difference in my well-being and feeling at “home”.  As lately I have been living in other peoples homes and kitchens, I do my best to be a fair and good communicator to ensure that my new home can provide the basic foods for my health and well-being.  This includes no refined sugar in anything that I eat and access to whole grains and fresh veggies and proteins.  A little good food goes a long way!

Reading from inspiring books and texts
Nearly daily I lean on and rely on books and texts that lift and inspire me.  For me these are often of a spiritual nature.  Even just a quote or paragraph that reminds me I am of something greater than myself gives me perspective on whatever opportunity or challenge I may be facing at the moment.  My favorite book to lean on is currently A Course in Miracles , but I also have enjoyed books by Catherine Ponder and Gary Renard’s Disappearance of the Universe.

Goofing Off
I also find it is important to have time just to goof off – to just do that silly unsophisticated thing for a little bit each day that nurtures the little child in me and brings me comfort.  Sometimes it may be reading a light novel or magazine.  Lately it has been watching old episodes of the show Medium on the internet.  Just a little something, often “brainless” and fun, to take a “break” from whatever I may need a break from that day!

These are my basics for cultivating my inner home, wherever I may be, whoever I am with.  I am grateful to have the time and experience of cultivating an inner home as I currently travel from place to place, some plans known… some still unfolding…

Photo from the gardens of Les Battees.