Every day in November, I want to write down three things I am grateful for.  I feel a strong need to cultivate gratitude in my life, to improve my outlook on life.  I’m trying to appreciate the small moments of happiness I have here in Korea.  So sad to miss Thanksgiving and my family in the U.S.A. 😦

Monday, November 1: 1) I am thankful for Korean hospitals.  I went to the bone hospital where the same doctor was there who I saw last week, thus saving me from the excruciating situation of having to communicate without knowing the language.  I had an hour + of physical therapy on my left knee and got some anti-inflammatories for less than 10,000 won ($9).  In addition, there was no wait whatsoever. 2) I am thankful that the bus from Chojeon to Seongju arrived at exactly 5:00 (this never happens!) so I was able to catch the 5:10 bus to Daegu.  3) I am thankful to have spoken briefly to one of my Turkish friends online.

grateful for gorgeous fall trees

grateful for gorgeous fall trees

Tuesday, November 2: 1) I’m thankful for the cleaning lady recommended by a Keimyung University professor.  She gave my apartment a nice deep cleaning this evening! 2) I’m thankful for Anna, who picked me up some feta cheese from Costco.   She remembered I loved it in Turkey. 3) I’m thankful for finding a good little market near Anna & Seth’s house that has a good selection of fruits & vegetables.

grateful for gingko trees and friends in korea

grateful for gingko trees and friends in korea

Wednesday, November 3: I’m grateful for… 1) Kim Dong Hee, who “accompanied” me on my bus ride to Seongju and waited with me at the bus terminal for 20 minutes; 2) talking by Skype to my best friend, Jayne, for over an hour tonight;  3) my delicious dinner of shrimp, pasta, capers, Korean pumpkin, green pepper & garlic.

Thursday, November 4: I’m having a hard time finding anything to be grateful for today:-(  I had a really hard commute this morning.  I arrived at Seongju 2 minutes too late to catch the bus to Byeokjin and had to wait 40 minutes for the next bus.  I tried to call Kim countless times and she didn’t answer.  So, today, simply grateful to be alive.  Grateful for beautiful weather.  Grateful to have  roof over my head.

Friday, November 5: 1) Grateful to meet David on the EPIK trip at dinner tonight.  He asked what my struggles were here in Korea, and I said loneliness.  He is Korean-American but hates it here in Korea because he feels like he’s an outcast among Koreans.  He had hoped to discover his heritage here.  We had a great conversation about religion.  He’s a strong Christian and feels the beauty of Christianity is God’s love for us.  2) Grateful for a fun game of Farkle in our hotel room and meeting some fun new people.  3) Grateful that I won the game… good luck all around!

thankful for more glorious gingko trees

thankful for more glorious gingko trees

Saturday, November 6: 1) I’m grateful for the beautiful fall colors we saw at Naesosa Temple.  2) Grateful to meet DeAnne from North Carolina.  She’s full of positive energy and enthusiasm, really cool! 3) Grateful for the walk through Mai-san provincial park, even though I didn’t get to see the Tap-Sa temple because of a miscommunication about the time we were required to be back to the bus.

Sunday, November 7: 1) I’m grateful for a whole day relaxing in my apartment; I didn’t set foot outside all day.  2) Grateful for time alone to write.  3) Grateful for talking on Skype to Mike and having him consider the possibility of paying for Alex to come visit me in December.

Monday, November 8: 1) Grateful for Louise’s birthday.  2) Grateful for a lovely Indian dinner with a new Pakistani friend I met randomly at Banwoldang subway stop two Sundays ago.  3) Grateful for getting my Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & the Greater Mekong book, along with a book called Catfish and Mandala that I ordered from What the Book today.

Tuesday, November 9:  1) Grateful for another physical therapy session on my left knee that felt really great and relaxing.  2) Grateful for an unusual evening with my Pakistani friend, having pizza and beers.  3) Grateful that it’s not freezing cold yet since Chojeon doesn’t turn on the heat.

Wednesday, November 10: 1) Grateful that I went to Byeokjin today and rode the later #250 bus.  The one I usually ride to Chojeon on M, T & F was in an accident.  We passed it along the way.  Whew!  2) Grateful for Kim, who heard about the bus accident and tried to phone me several times to check on me. Also grateful that I had to teach a total of only 20 minutes today because of student testing.  3) Grateful for Anna and Seth and their hosting of another great game of Ticket to Ride at their cozy apartment (despite the fact I didn’t win…).

thankful for another fun game of Ticket to Ride

thankful for another fun game of Ticket to Ride

Thursday, November 11: Grateful for… 1) the 2 Pepero sticks that my vice principal gave me in celebration of Pepero day~ even though I think you’re supposed to get 4 sticks! (11/11);  2) U.S. veterans;  3) a nice quiet night at home to read, plan my trip to Vietnam & Cambodia, and watch a movie.

Friday, November 12: I’m grateful for: 1) ever-patient Kim who insisted on accompanying me to the skin doctor for an allergic reaction I had to medicine for my knee; 2) a fun time eating pasta and drinking red wine with her at the Italian restaurant near my apartment; and 3) going to see the movie about Vietnam called Indochine.

Saturday, November 13: Grateful for 1) what would be Mike’s and my 22nd anniversary and all the years we spent together; 2) a trip to Seoul where I went to Cheonggye-Cheon Stream and found by chance the stream brightened by lanterns for the lantern festival; 3) for a fun evening drinking beers and hanging out with a friend.

thankful for the unexpected surprise of finding a lantern festival in seoul

thankful for the unexpected surprise of finding a lantern festival in seoul

Sunday, November 14: Grateful for 1) getting to browse in What the Book, an English bookstore in Itaewon; 2) chicken schwarma in the Arab section of Itaewon (brought back happy memories of Turkey); and 3) a beautiful day wandering around the Korean War Memorial Museum.

grateful to see the war memorial museum in seoul

grateful to see the war memorial museum in seoul

Monday, November 15: Grateful… 1) that I booked my tickets today from Seoul to Hanoi, then from Siem Reap back to Seoul: January 13-24; 2) that I had time to read up on Vietnam and Cambodia and get some good ideas; and 3) that a taxi gave me a ride to Seongju for only 1,000 won so I could catch the 5:10 bus home.

Tuesday, November 16: Grateful 1) that my two 3rd grade classes were canceled today because the little hooligans went to the English Village;  2) for dinner at the warehouse and having leftovers for the next two nights; and 3) that I think I found a good hotel to stay in Hanoi.

Wednesday, November 17: Grateful for 1) getting a ride home from the 6th grade teacher so I got home BEFORE 5:30!! 2) my quiet day at Byeokjin where I got most of my EPIK field trip essay/blog written; and 3) for leftover dinner from the warehouse so I didn’t have to cook!!

Thursday, November 18: Grateful for 1) hmmm… NOT grateful for the irritating fact that it was absolutely impossible to book a ticket online with Vietnam Airlines for a one-way ticket from Hanoi to Phnom Penh for January 19.  I was truly irritable and pissed, but then decided maybe it’s not meant to be and I should look for other options.  I am trying to see it as an unplanned adventure where something amazing might happen.  So am grateful for developing “another” way to look at the situation; 2) watching the movie The Killing Fields about Cambodia that was extremely intense and disturbing but gave me a good understanding of Cambodian history; and 3) a good night’s sleep.

Friday, November 19: I found it hard to be grateful for much early in the day.  I felt a darkness hanging over me from watching The Killing Fields last night, from my unresolved flight problems with Vietnam Airlines,  from the looming and probably lonely weekend coming up with no fun plans.  As I stood at the bus stop in Chojeon, feeling this darkness, I watched the off-balance town drunk, smoking and talking in his raspy voice, and thought “There but for the grace of God go I.”  1) Happy and grateful that I’m not the town drunk; 2) happy to talk to my friend Jarrod on Facebook chat; he has such a great perspective on life and really cheered me up;  3) happy to get my Lonely Planet India guidebook and a book about Vietnam called Paradise for the Blind delivered today.

Saturday, November 20: Grateful for 1) passing a 100 question exam on grammar to FINALLY finish my 120-hour TEFL certification; 2) talking by phone to Jayne today; and 3) having time to read a book about Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge called First They Killed My Father: a daughter of cambodia remembers. Although incredibly disturbing, it’s great to learn about a part of history I really didn’t know much about.

Sunday, November 21: Grateful… 1) to have a nice long conversation on Skype with Jayne.  I love her because she always makes me laugh!  2)… to see the movie The Social Network about Facebook.  It was really interesting that Mark Zuckerberg was so driven and motivated to establish Facebook because of not getting into the top Finals Club at Harvard and losing his girlfriend.  3)… to chat on Skype with my friend Ed from the State Department and to chat by Yahoo with Chetan in Italy.  And even a 4th thing: to be able to go back to sleep for a couple of hours after I woke up, as always, at 6:30 a.m.  I usually can never go back to sleep once I wake up!

Monday, November 22: Grateful… 1) for a free period today at the end of the day because my 4th graders didn’t show up; 2) for a taxi ride from Chojeon for 1,000 won, even though I still arrived in Seongju 2 minutes too late for the 5:10 bus; and 3) that I am becoming more discerning about who to have in my life and who not to have.  Today, I made a decision to eliminate certain time-wasting, dishonest and/or self-absorbed people from my life.  It felt so refreshing!

Tuesday, November 23: 1) Thankful that Mike bought the ticket for Alex to come to Korea on December 2-19.  I am so excited about him coming!  2) Grateful to get permission from Byeokjin to take the day off Thursday, December 2, to go to Incheon to pick up Alex from the airport.  3) Here’s HOPING to be thankful that the current tensions between North Korea and South Korea will dissipate very quickly, so the situation doesn’t interfere with Alex coming here to visit.  And 4th) thankful that I am not in Phnom Penh yet, and especially was not at the water festival last night where over 330 people perished in a huge stampede.

Wednesday, November 24: 1) Today I’m grateful for my friends’ and family’s care and concern for me following yesterday’s attack on South Korea by North Korea.  2) I’m thankful for finally finding a decent flight from Hanoi to Phnom Penh through China Southern airlines.  Most of the flights were outrageously expensive and had long layovers in China or Bangkok, so I am happy to now have it booked.  3) Happy to watch the movie called Outsourced and get psyched about my trip to India.  Also… 4) grateful that no one showed up today for my absurd conversation class.  Since no one can really carry on a conversation, I have such a hard time keeping the class interested and on task.  Thus, I always dread it….  (I’m NOT grateful that Coffee-J told me today that I must have the “Residency Certificate” from the U.S. IRS by December 15 or they must collect over $1,000 in taxes from me!  Though Mike filed the form with the IRS requesting this, we still have heard nothing.  Where is it? This is money I need for my trip to Vietnam!!)

Thursday, November 25: 1) Grateful that it’s Thanksgiving Day in America (even though I’m not there to celebrate it), reminding me to be grateful for all the good things I have in life.  2) Happy to know Sarah is with her dad, Kema, Nick and Cody and that the boys are with their dad and grandmother and aunt.  3) Happy for Kim Dong Hee, my ever-faithful Korean friend, who went with me for dinner and wine at a pasta restaurant  to help me celebrate Thanksgiving and then accompanied me to see the movie Sex and the City 2 which was set partially in Abu Dhabi and made me yearn for the Middle East.

books to get me in the frame of mind for the mekong

books to get me in the frame of mind for the mekong

Friday, November 26: 1) Grateful that my classes went well today, not too stressful for a change.  2) Grateful to know my kids are having a good Thanksgiving at home in the USA.  3) Grateful to have finally started the process of getting my visa for Vietnam.  I can’t believe it costs 105,000 won, not as much as China’s 210,000 won visa but still outrageous!  Do all Asian countries hate Americans?  I think lovely Cambodia is only $20.

Saturday, November 27: Thankful for 1) watching the documentary The Secret, which gave me a lot of food for thought; 2) a fun evening having dinner and doing noraebang with a Korean friend who came to visit from Seoul; and 3) a fun conversation online with a young guy from India who got me all psyched about my upcoming trip to India.

Sunday, November 28: 1) Thankful for being able to sleep in till 8 a.m.!  2) Grateful for watching a good movie: The Kids are All Right.  3) Thankful to talk to Mike by Skype about Alex’s upcoming visit.

getting geared up for india

getting geared up for india

Monday, November 29: 1)  I so adore Korean hospitals!  I went tonight to get some physical therapy on my shoulder which is so painful, mainly due to tension.  I got an hour of heat and electric therapy, a chiropractic neck crack and a short but intense massage.  All for less than $5!  2) Grateful for a long talk with a friend in India.  3) Grateful for a so-relaxing sleep…..

Tuesday, November 30: Grateful for  1) my sister Joan’s birthday; 2) figuring out how to apply online for the Cambodian visa for $25 so I don’t have to pay the travel agent 95,000 won to get the visa for me!  3) the fact that I’ve officially completed 9 months here and only have 3 more months to go!  In December, Alex will be here for 17 days; in January, I will be in Vietnam & Cambodia for 12 days; and in February we have the lunar new year holiday.  Time is ticking down.  Thankful beyond belief for that… 🙂

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