Gratitude Lately

Today was my 292nd and very final day living in Southeast Asia.

I leave in 12 hours and desperately need to get some sleep, but before I do…gratitude.

Where to begin?

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I am thankful for surprise reunions with old friends.

…and clever HP Christmas gifts!

For sweet ‘let’s pretend’ with my favorite boy on morning break.

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For being connived into playing and singing for everyone at my ‘despedida’.

I’m always grateful for it — after the fact…

For these sweet ladies and their friendship; one last coffee together!

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Psh, who needs electricity?

For my family and how they love me well.

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My heart is so full.

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in which i learned to belong

Lately I’ve resorted to the use of writer’s prompts because I’m at a loss for things to write about. Creative juices are running slow this year. Today the word is, ‘belong’.

It conjures up so much emotion for me; especially when preceded by the word ‘I’.

I belong.

Growing up, I did not belong. I was the ugly duckling. Not that I was ugly, I don’t think… I just stood out. A lot. I wasn’t really like anyone else. When I was home in Latin America, I didn’t look like anyone else. When I would visit America, I could physically blend in easily enough, but I couldn’t change how I was made or how I thought about life. I never belonged completely to either group. Common TCK dilemma.

Where's the white girl?

See if you can spot the white girl…

Typically in life, you belong with the people you share common interests with. Ever since I can remember, my parents have said that I was born in the wrong era. I never liked the same things people my own age enjoyed. I had developed from a young age a deep-rooted love for: jazz, reading classic literature, classical music, baking, gardening, old movies, and ballroom dance… These loves continued to manifest in my life and you can just imagine how many kindred spirits I found through the years — very few.

I was the middle kid in a larger than average family of 9. I didn’t feel like I belonged with either the olders or the littles. I mostly just did my own thing and bounced back and forth between the siblings, whichever I could profit from in the moment. I was also the only white girl my age living in a town full of boys and was considered to be ‘one of the guys’. I’m taller than average for girls and I grew taller than many of the boys I was friends with too. The only thing that was ever average about me was my shoe size (US 7.5); and even in that, I am female bigfoot in Mexico. From a young age I was taller than and had bigger feet than most full-grown men.

It really does wonders for a girl’s self esteem…

These were my closest friends from age 13 until I graduated high school, plus 2 visitors from Canada.

My best friends from age 12 until I graduated high school (and 2 visitors).

To belong.

Although my college friends would never be down to fox trot with me to ‘A Foggy Day’, they do share my love for food; specifically, Korean BBQ. We’d frequently go into the heart of Koreatown to share a late second dinner. I’d look around the table at the people who had become my friends in a short amount of time and I began to view our group as an outsider would see us, realizing we were probably the most diverse group of people you could place together. If I were to give each friend a label identifying them based on the surface: race, sex, background, and genetics, there’s no way we’d be friends; let alone sharing a meal together; let alone be in the same room. Picture Jets vs. Sharks. I’d totally be with the Sharks. We Latinos gotta stick together, man.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, it wasn’t until my senior year that I realized: ‘belonging’ has nothing to do with sharing physical characteristics, the same interests/dislikes, or having a history with a person. It doesn’t even have to do with race, background, or age. If you were to go around our table and label us based on our hearts, you would find a commonality. We are no longer defined by our pasts. Jesus Christ died for our sins. We are bought. We are chosen. We are redeemed. Because we first belong to Christ, we can then belong to and love each other; because we see one another as God sees us — a new creation. Belonging is rooted in the deepest fibers of us; the parts being made to look more like Christ. Because of that, I can look at the diversity of my friends and think…for now anyway, belong here.

I’m linking up with SheLoves Magazine‘s February writing prompt…in March.
Because I’m a rebel.
Just 
kidding…

28 days of music

I’m going to steer clear of my typical playlists this month so I can do something a little different.  Music challenges like the one I procured have been floating around for ages, but since they’re always set up as 28 day challenges, I figured why not make mine in February? That way every day gets a little love….

Day 1: Reminds you of summertime:

Day 2: Favorite to slow dance to in the kitchen:

Day 3: Favourite from an old movie:

Day 4: From a favourite movie:

Day 5: From a favourite musical:

Day 6: Would make the worst elevator music:

Day 7: One you enjoy, but can never listen to all the way through:

Day 8: A favourite instrumental:

Day 9: A favourite in another language:

Day 10: You recently heard again for the first time in a long time:

Day 11: #1 the year you were born:

Day 12: #1 the year you graduated:

Day 13: A favourite theme song from your childhood:

Day 14: You memorized with the wrong lyrics, but it’s too late to change:

Day 15: Few people know, but you love:

Day 16: Good cooking music:

Day 17: A cover you like better than the original:

Day 18: A favourite classical:

Day 19: A favourite jazz:

Day 20: Currently playing on your iPod:

Day 21: One you enjoy singing in the shower:

Day 22: From a singer that’s dead:

Day 23: From a singer who’s still alive:

Day 24: A favourite Coldplay song:

Day 25: A favourite Beatles song:

Day 26: From your last date:

Day 27: One someone else recommended to you:

Day 28: A favourite road trip song:

2013 in review | 13 memories

My main moments from the past year (at least ones with pictures) are from various trips I took. Pretty typical for a third culture kid. 2013 was a good year for me. I was able to see and experience so much life and growth: I graduated from college, visited a state I’d never been to before, went to Europe for the first time, and I moved to the Philippines! Here are 13 of my favorite moments:

The first few days of January were spent finishing off my sister’s and my UK trip! English tea & pudding, balderdash, falling down the stairs daily, intense jet lag, trying to stay awake (& warm), and laughing with these cool cats late into the night:

Trying to get tan at Formby Beach;)

Trying to get tan at Formby Beach;)

After returning from Liverpool, I spent one jet lagged day in California before flying home-home to Oaxaca to spend the rest of my holiday with the family. I was able to check this off my bucket list — well, I had to first add it to my bucket list, but then I checked it off…

While home and still recovering from jet lag, my youngest sister, Debbie, and I got to spend a couple days at our favourite beach in the entire world: Puerto Escondido. Do you see my jetlagged eyes?? I shouldn’t be allowed in public.

Ah, to be warm again!

In the midst of school (trying to graduate in May) & work, I got to be reunited with one of my favourite people ever – my partner from massage school! She came to LA, so I had an excuse to do the touristy things I hadn’t even done yet myself: the Griffith Observatory and the L.A. Zoo!

How I love her and her sweet son!

How I love her and her sweet son!

My friend Karina and I went on a spontaneous road trip to Seattle right before finals. It was one of the worst ideas I’ve had, but actually the best decision. I got to see my childhood bestie in Cannon Beach, which has been a lifelong dream to visit!

This girl and I have been friends for 20 years and counting!

This girl and I have been friends for 20 years and counting!

From Cannon Beach, we drove across the most epic state line ever, making Washington my 41st state visited. I didn’t want to leave!

Seattle in April was a brilliant idea. Those trees…swoon!

Seattle in April was a brilliant idea. Those trees…swoon!

Soon after the Northwest trip…Donna and I got our friend, Nicole, married off!

Nothin' like a Wednesday wedding to liven up the week!

Nothin’ like a Wednesday wedding to liven up the week!

Then I graduated from Eternity Bible College!

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After graduating, I flew home to Oaxaca to spend a week with my family before moving to the Philippines!

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These two deserve a gold medal in the friendship department! They put up with so much of me last year and they’re really the best of people. Have I mentioned I get to see them in a couple weeks?? I’m beyond excited!

And here are the people I spent the majority of the year with! We trekked all over Mindanao and even to Luzon together in 2013, we make good travel & living buddies;)

These were moments I knew would make the best Facebook statuses. Livin’ the life!

I ran my first 5k in November! I placed 8th for women and won an award for being the only white female racing. Check that off my bucket list — after adding it first;)

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Although it was hard to keep it at 13 memories, 2,013 seemed a little extravagant…

Until next time!

Gratitude Lately

Lately I’ve been thankful for my inherited love for music and how it’s a perfect example of how we should never stop learning.

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For these lovely journals that have been my constant companions.

And my new comfy leggings that have kept me warm many-a-night during the storms.

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For a sunny day in the midst of a typhoon and picnic lunches with friends.

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For church that sang a song in English and how that always blesses my heart.

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For this piece of home. Not once have I regretted the space it took up in my luggage.

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And for FaceTime, which allows me to have late night chats with these beauties.

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Lately I’ve been working on intentionally finding reasons to be thankful and seeing how much my attitude on life has improved. I didn’t even have to look hard.

What are you thankful for this week?

Chinese New Year & 2014 via my phone

恭喜发财 Happy Chinese New Year!

I’ve decided to ring in the ‘Year of the Horse’ by doing a recap of 2014, so far – according to my phone.

This is how it happened:
“Hi, I’d like the panini pesto and a bottle of water.”
“What’s your name?”
“Hannah”
“Hannah??”
“Yes, HANNAH” (Just picture Squints from The Sandlot over-enunciating, “FOR-EV-ER”. That’s pretty much how it was)

…a few minutes later, “Hot panini pesto for Hyena”

Meh - close enough...

Meh – close enough…

We were eating at Burger King at the airport in Manila and every table was occupied. There was a guy sitting next to us eating lunch and reading his kindle, when this family of 3 plopped down and joined him without saying a word. I found it humourous to watch him try to become as small as humanly possible in his little corner.

This would never fly in the US. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to even breathe on freeways in America, let alone walk and sell on them.

Drive through store on the freeway...and I'm pretty sure he's giving me the stink eye.

I think he’s giving me the stink eye.

I've been traveling for 15 hours and Manila bus stations are wicked hot.

I call this: ‘I’ve been traveling for 15 hours & Manila bus stations are wicked hot – and Daisy is pensive’.

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It rains a lot in this country. This is the result of two back-to-back typhoons.

You know how McDonalds is unique to each country? Germany – beer; Mexico – jalapeño sauce; England – brown sauce? Well, the Philippines does rice…and ube ice-cream. Ube is a purple yam that is eaten as a snack by itself and in desserts. How else are you going to make your kids eat their veg?

Ube is a purple yam, which is used here for snacks and desserts…even at McDonalds. Ube McDip, anyone?

Ube McDip, anyone?

Not shown is my reaction to waking up at 3 this morning to find a mouse in my bed with me… I’m still a little traumatised.

The Year of the Horse is looking bright so far. How are you ringin’ in the New Year?

i am from… celebrating heritage

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Sololá, Guatemala – circa ’93

I am from a brew of freshly roasted coffee.
From the smell of tea tree oil and the jasmine outside.
Cilantro home-grown and limón freshly squeezed.
From a triangular dining room table that seats fifteen people.
A house worn in with well-loved nooks and too many books.
I am from jacaranda trees in bloom and a rainy season that brings everything to life.

I am from failing at pictures, because we’re a small village.
From sleeping in the mountains to watch shooting stars.
From belly laughs, midnight feasts, and happy half-birthdays.
Odious matching dresses with my mom and sister (only kidding – they were lovely).
From mom’s pancakes every Saturday morning.
I am from grammar fiends and a shared love for music and literature.

I wasn't lying about the matching dresses.

I wasn’t lying about the dresses. That is produce on my dress, people. Produce. I know you’re jealous.

I am from fields upon fields in Illinois and Ohio.
From sweet tea and pulled pork in the deep sultry South.
From English truffles and pudding; and maybe a duke.
From volcanoes and cold in luscious Guatemala.
From heaven on earth in southern México.
I am from anywhere and everywhere in between…

I am from tacos al pastor, mole negro, and fresh conchas from the panadería.
From competitive game-players; a life without screens.
From seeing the world from a very young age.
From outrageous road trip traditions; people who enjoy traveling together.
From music to sports; and books too, of course.
I am from a childhood of scraped up knees and playing ‘lost kids’.

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I am from seventeen years spent in Latin America.
Fresh sushi in California to the snows of Colorado.
From the tropics of Asia to no home at all.
From awaiting my flight to the next far off place.
From an adopted family wherever I bed.
I am from life on the move and ecstatic reunions.

I am from regrets and mistakes made endlessly.
From exceedingly broken to truly redeemed.
From days I can’t face the world, to learning to trust.
From a family that supports and encourages when life gets hard.
From friends that become family when mine is far off.
I am from a Father who Loves unconditionally.

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(Inspiration for this post came from She Loves Magazine.)