Friday, May 10, 2013

activity: write a letter to your future self

Have you been given an assignment asking you to write a letter to your younger self? I actually mentioned it in an earlier blog post.

I was organizing files on my computer today, when I found my portfolio from college. I found a letter that was supposed to be in my “about me” section, but I didn’t use it because it was too long and wordy.

It was kind of immature, but at the same time insightful and exactly something I needed to hear. Who would’ve thought that three years later, I would be taking advice from myself?

Writing letters to our younger selves is a creative way to make us reflect on what we’ve learned. It’s also a way to bring up all the “what ifs” and “I wish I would’ves” that don’t do any good.

I propose we write letters to our future selves. Growth comes in phases depending on where we are and what we’re going through.

We are taught in history class that we can learn from the past because history repeats itself. It’s true in our personal lives too. Three years ago I was at college, not knowing what to do next, or what God had in store for me. Now, I’m about to leave Ireland, not knowing what to do next, or what God has in store for me.

But my 22-year-old self has some advice.
“I’ve adopted the philosophy that I heard from a pastor: ‘God doesn’t care about the who, what, when, or where. He cares about the why and how.’ This is what I want you to know about me: I’m also not going to care about the who, what, when, or where. I’m going to care about why I’m making the choices I’m making, and how I’m getting there.”

What lessons are you learning that you want your future self to remember? 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

10 things i haven't done in a year that the average american probably does every day

I haven't been home in the good ol' US of A since last Christmas. Since 'tis the season, I'm making preparations to go home. I was lying in bed today thinking of things that I'm looking forward to, and came up with a list. Most of these things I would have done on a weekly (if not daily) basis.

 1. Use a top sheet and a blanket.
Duvet pros: easy to change, cheap to replace covers. Cons: When you're hot, there's nothing underneath. 

2. Eat at a Mexican restaurant (sit down or fast food). 
Indian is to Ireland as Mexican is to America

3. Drive on the right side of the road. 

my brain this month 

4. Go to a church that has more than 50 people. 
This is my church in Ireland...

This is my church's (in America) atrium

5. Have someone bag my groceries for me. In bags that I didn't have to remember to bring. 
note: no place to put groceries except in your bags. that you brought. 

6. Immediately take a shower when I want. 
I have to press this button 30 minutes before each shower. You wouldn't think it makes a big difference, but you can't ever just take a "quick shower" 

7. Get free refills. Of a drink that has ICE in it.

8. Use a coffee maker and/or our Keurig
french press is NOT the same. 

9. Flush public toilets with my feet.

typical flushers. unless i have some sweet karate skills, then i have to press it with my finger... 

10. Use traffic lights. 

Roundabouts are more efficient. I'm afraid I'm going to forget to look up. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

the misty mountains moor

Today I traveled to Downpatrick Head in county Mayo. I've never been out this way, and it is indeed incredible like the rest of Ireland. It was the kind of drive, the scenery, that inspires art - whether it be writing, painting or poetry. It had the familiarity of art you'd find on an old puzzle: the clouds were a heavy grey that only makes you think of a slow, long-burning fire with a rug on the floor and quilts draped over the chairs. A small nook of a room being kept warm by the hearth. The muted shades, yet vibrant colors of orange,  yellow and red trees contrasting with the dark green hills with the dark grey clouds, makes you think of apples and hay bales and last-minute outdoor activities before the early dark nights of winter.

When the sun behind the blanket of clouds sunk further into the grey sea, we climbed Downpatrick Head in a heavy grey mist with gusts of bitter wind that howled across the grass. My hair whipped in my face as I stood at the top of the cliff, and I could start to see lights from houses nestled into the hills flicker on like the first stars of the evening. The waves were crashing below - the loud foomph as the white cap hit the face of the cliff. I watched the silhouettes of two fisherman below, bending into the wind as they walked across the fields to take home the day's catch.

Even now as I write, I can hear the wind howling across the land outside my window.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

lost in translation: chapter Istanbul

Istanbul is laid out like this:

I was staying at point A and the "old city," where the Grand Bazaar and the Hagia Sophia are located, is at point B. There are ferries that continually take passengers the 20-minute ride across, which is faster and significantly cheaper than driving/taking a taxi.

Six of us decided to take the ferry to the old city and have a look around. After a fun evening, even though everything was closed, we headed back to the ferry to find it closed. No more boats that evening.

The line of taxis outside the ferry station told us we weren’t the first to make this mistake. We asked the taxi driver to take us to our area, Kadikoy.

“Kadikoy? Yes, yes, I take you Kadikoy.”
“How much will that be?”
“10 each.”

I should’ve thought something was up, because with three people in the car, that would have amounted to 30 for the whole trip, which is about $16, and it’s a good thirty-minute or more drive to the other side. We divided ourselves up and got into the taxis. About two minutes into the trip, we realized our taxi driver didn’t speak any English aside for numbers and apparently “Yes, I take you.” About ten minutes into the trip, he starts saying “Kadikoy” and a whole string of other things in Turkish that we couldn’t understand.

I began to understand that Kadikoy was a much larger section of the city than we realized and he didn’t know where to take us after that. So I got out my camera and found this picture:

This was located a couple blocks down from our
 hotel and a semi-known landmark. 
I showed it to him and he pulled over and stopped the car. He made a bunch of wild hand gestures and said a lot more things, in which I used context clues to discern that he meant, “get out of my car.” So we got out and he drove away.

Fortunately, all three of us were good-humored people, because we laughed and hailed another taxi. Again, no English, again, I showed him the picture. To this he said “Kadikoy ships?” and we said “Yes, will you drive us there?” and he said, “Yes, I drive you.”

He drove to the ferry station. It was closed. We already knew that.

Using my “universal sign language” skills, I pointed at him and said “you” and then I made driving motions and said “drive” then I pointed at all three of us and said “us” and then I pointed at my picture. Fortunately he said yes and drove us back to our hotel.

Lessons learned:
  1. I will never take second-language English speakers for granted again.
  2. Carry a map and address of your hotel with you at all times. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

times, they are a-changin'

You know when you read about "times changing," you can't really imagine what it was like before, or during the change? Sometimes you just wish you were there to experience it. You know, like black and white people having to use different drinking fountains. Or even further back when women were switching from wearing dresses to trousers. It's strange finding myself in the middle of a change like that.

After a fairly uneventful travel day, we arrived in the Skovsta airport south of Stockholm, Sweden. It was a small airport (about the size of Evansville's, for those of you who know what I mean). We had to go to the bathroom before catching our bus to Jönköping. So we see the restroom signs, (or rather, toliette) and head in that direction.

There was a sign on the door that had both the men's and women's sign, so Andrea opened the door, thinking it would lead to a hallway or something to the restroom, but when she opened it she immediately closed it again. "It's the men's restroom," she said. I turned around, looking for another sign. "But wait... that sign has both on it....why...?" Just then a woman came out of the door. Then a man. "Um... is this for both?" Then i remembered. Someone had told me that Sweden was really pushing gender equality. So much so, they were trying to invent a word that meant both he and she, but not "it." If they were trying to invent a new word, then what's stopping them from making universal bathrooms?

Andrea, Junior and I ventured cautiously in. No one seemed to notice or care. The bathroom was the same as any other bathroom - 8 stalls, 5 sinks. But both men and women were coming out of the stalls. I laughed the whole time. Not gonna lie, it was awkward.

Who knows if it will catch on to other countries, but I may find myself explaining someday to my children that "before you were born, men and women had separate bathrooms!"

Sunday, April 29, 2012

not-a-missed connection

"Don't you recognize me??"

I was in Sweden. I had been there for five days, and four of those had been inside a church with 20 other people. The old, brick-paved street was deserted. The voice came from inside a shop whose door I had just walked passed. Who ....?


::four hours earlier::

"Are you students at the International School of Business?" 

Andrea, Junior, and I turned to see an elderly couple standing next to us at the bus station. We were flattered that we looked young enough to be taken as students. "No, we're here for a leadership training course with an organization. We're just here for a week." The man asked me what part of the states I was from. I said "Indiana," he said "Wyoming." I noticed he had a Swedish accent. "Oh really?" I asked, hoping he would explain. "I grew up there, but I fell in love with this Swedish woman (he cast a quick smile in his wife's direction) and I've lived here for 50 years. We met and married in the States, but she wanted me to visit her home. Fifty years later, we're still here."

We talked with them for awhile about how they met, and how they got married, (they were engaged on a Thursday, and married that Sunday) and their kids. They mentioned working with their children for an organization called "Teen Challenge," a drug and alcohol rehab programme, and we talked about there being a centre in Ireland. From there, the conversation led to OM, which they had heard of. Their bus arrived, and we parted ways. A nice encounter and a great start to our sightseeing day.


The three of us stopped in our tracks and walked backwards, looking through the shop door. An old man was sitting behind a counter facing the door with antique radios and TVs stacked behind him. "We met earlier!" Then we all recognized him. It was the older man we met at the bus station. We went in. There was a sign on the counter that said "Radio Museum, admission 20 Kronas" He told us he ran the museum. "I know you're busy sightseeing, but come back here at let me show you something special." And he took us to an Edison, one of the first sound recording devices ever made. It had a blue wax cylinder that recorded the sound, and when you didn't need the recording anymore, you just scraped a layer of the wax off. 

We walked back to the front, and I noticed on the counter he was working on a sign. "I realized there isn't a sign saying what this place is!" He explained. "So I'm making one." It looked professional, so I asked him if he had any experience with design. He said not so much design as art, and he bent down and got something behind the counter. It was a coffee table book of wildlife. He opened it up, and inserted in the book was a beautiful drawing of a crane. It was on black paper drawn with a white pencil. "I'm color blind, you see. So I focus all my attention on the detail." And he had too. Every feather, every shape. "My son owns an art Gallery on the island in the middle of the lake, so he sells some of my stuff." I wish I could've gotten something.

He was a talker, and told us more stories, but finally we had to go, and we wished him well. The two things I regret most are that none of us can remember his name, and I didn't get a picture of him. 

It's encounters like this that make traveling great.

Monday, April 16, 2012

haiku hypnosis

late to bed last night
busy day, now heavy rain
nature's lullaby