Friday Five

Resolved: These are my resolutions. Deal with it. I read or heard that something to the effect of only eight percent of Americans actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions, especially when they are fitness or health related. Oops. To combat this staggering possibility of failure, the writers at your local online self-help websites suggest to make yourself publicly accountable. So this is me. Doing that.

Couch to how many k?
I wrote about the starting of the C25K program a few months ago, right before I started traveling. I was really nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it. And I killed it. The day I got back from traveling, I downloaded a new set of podcasts, the bridge to 10k. My goal is to run a 10K race, with my sights set on a possible half-marathon. I realize it’s normal to train for a marathon in this amount of time, but goals are meant to be attainable. Until you set the next crazy one.

Improve My Posture
I’m over six feet tall. I’ve been over six feet tall since I was twelve years old. I’ve been stooping over people for more of my life than I haven’t. And now I really want that to change. I need to build up core and back muscles and be generally uncomfortable for a long time. One exercise suggested envisioning squeezing an orange between your shoulder blades and ‘make some orange juice’ has become my new mantra. The days of the ‘shrimp walk’ are over.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Before I came to Thailand, I was an April-October runner. Then I wasn’t a runner or an anythinger because of a multitude of factors with life in Thailand. Now some of those are working in my favor as the cold weather isn’t stopping me from keeping up with a running schedule. In 2013, I would like to maintain a year-long program of exercise.

Can’t Take the Heat then Deal with it and Learn to Cook
I’m not a foodie that enjoys cooking, watching other people cook, or waiting for food. I don’t have a large appetite either. These factors generally conclude that I eat whatever is tasty and quick, which usually means pretty shitty health wise. To nourish my body properly for exercise (and, life), I need to learn how to cook. Nothing elaborate, rather a development of taste and how to prepare food to satisfy my tongue and the needs of my body.

Communication Nation
I’m not very good at making new friends or meeting new people. I’m one of those terribly shy people who suck immensely at small talk, especially in large groups. And then when the one poor soul that initiates a chat, I get awkward. Even if I do manage to gimp along, hide my racing heat beat, and survive until the natural end of a conversation, my follow through is weak. What do you say to those people you just met? Clearly Thailand hasn’t really helped in this department as it is totally normal to discuss bowel movements, what I ate for breakfast, and the current weight of your conversation partner within minutes of meeting. Mostly, I think I need to practice, practice, and practice some more. Force myself to be uncomfortable to cast my net and hope for a good catch of a friend or colleague. In 2013, it is my resolution to be better at talking to people I don’t know yet and develop more meaningful relationships afterwards.

Tuesday Travel Photo

This week’s TTP is during our Close of Service conference and the unofficial beginning of the transition period to post-PC life. I’m going back to the U.S. for the summer, but today is the day I can start looking at the long-term places I want to live after PC and Australia is at the top of that list. Exact location has yet to be determined, but I’m really looking forward to the next part of this adventure called life.

This photo was taken by Manfriend earlier this year in the Dandenong mountains outside of Melbourne. He titled it ‘Easter bunny.’ I like the focus on the foreground, what I’m doing now, but you can make out the key parts of the background. The details just need fine tuned.

Freelance English Teacher vs. Peace Corps

In this video I talk about the differences and things to consider being an English teacher at a school and being a Peace Corps Volunteer. I think it is not a distinction easily made until you are a PCV. I split it up into three general topics to give a more overall picture, but each of these could feasibly be its own vlog. I hope this is helpful for people considering Peace Corps or teaching English abroad.

One thing I definitely forgot to mention though is the massive amount of paperwork, both in the application process and throughout service, that is included in Peace Corps, as expected with any government paid position. Sometimes I think it would be nice to be a private school teacher just so I didn’t have to do all the paperwork!

Friday Five

My Five Resolutions for 2012– I realize this is a little later than it probably should be, but it’s my first real Friday Five of the New Year.

Write More
Does this go without saying? I talk about it enough. Malcolm Gladwell discusses in his book Tipping Point the need of 10,000 hours of practice before one can consider themselves a master of their given subject. I’ve recently started to take this, writing constantly and consistently, much more seriously and have made a goal with myself to try to write at least a page in my journal every day. I started doing this at the end of 2011 to finish off that book before the end of the year. I didn’t get it in time, but I haven’t missed a day of writing yet in 2012. Ask me again in March and this might be another story. Anytime I need inspiration though, I look to thejackieblog who magicked something to publish every day in 2011. Every. Single. Day.

Learn More
About: life, Thailand, myself, fashion, hair, politics, youtube, culture, Thai people, relationships, living alone, sharing my life with people, my friends, my enemies, people I haven’t met yet, a new language, learning to be uncomfortable and thriving in it, music, the world… a stagnant brain is never a good thing.

Love More
I’m at the point in my service that the fun cultural surprises aren’t quite so ‘fun’ or surprising anymore. I can be a little too jaded about things in Thailand and I want to change that. I want to stop complaining as much and smile more. I want to bite my tongue and nod my head in understanding more. I want to appreciate what I have here in my life in Thailand and being a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Work Harder
Peace Corps Thailand Volunteers are extremely susceptible to getting swept up in the laid back lifestyle here. It’s part of the adjustment process. But sometimes, we can get by on doing very little actual work, sometimes due to sites, sometimes because of apathy on our part. I don’t want to let myself fall into that trap. There is more to Peace Corps than the first goal and I can do that whether or not school is in meetings, having sports day, or just not teaching for any reason. It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s not easy to find yourself work here. This is my year to do that.

Take More Risks
Part of working harder is willing to push myself more and trying new things. I took it easy on myself in 2011 because I knew it was going to be a pretty arduous year already. This year though, I think I might try that food dish that looks like it has way too many peppers in it. And agreeing to that seemingly crazy idea from my Thai people. And make myself do yoga three times a week. Or maybe start a yoga club at school. Or allow myself to get Thainapped more. By taking a leaf from Jim Carrey’s character in ‘Yes Man’ I think I’ll be able to get the most out of my experience in Thailand. For better or worse.

No Excuses, Just Go.

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I found myself nodding throughout so much of it, I thought I would share. This article comes from Jeff Goins and ‘3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young.’ My favorite part is about learning to be compassionate because of the different worlds you’ve inserted yourself into.

You will begin to understand that the world is both a big and small place. You will have a new-found respect for the pain and suffering that over half of the world takes for granted on a daily basis. And you will feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way.

You will learn to care.

Tip of the hat to you Mr. Goins. Get the rest here.

Friday Five

Top Albums of 2011

Cee Lo Green– The Lady Killer
Holy Buddha this man can sing and I can just feel his heartbreak in the songs. He knows how to do I hate you songs, I miss you songs, and I’m going to get you back songs. It took me a little longer to really appreciate this album, so don’t give up on it after a listen or two. It just gets better the more you listen and discover little quirks of lyrics and vocals. Cee Lo makes me want to be ‘Old fashioned,’ know that ‘It’s ok’ and I’m definitely a ‘Fool for you.’
Favorite TrackNo One’s Gonna Love You 

No, that's not Kanye

Ray LaMontagne– Gossip in the Grain
One of the best things about making new friends is picking their music loving brain. Jeff introduced me to Ray and I am forever grateful. It’s hard to believe a voice so sweet could come out of such a bearded man. But it does, and so are the words. The man has such a way with them that I had to download all his available albums, but this one is my favorite. The entire thing is extremely listenable for any mood, though I lean towards ‘I still care for you,’ ‘Meg White,’ and ‘Let it be me.’
Favorite TrackYou are the Best Thing 

Despite the facial hair, I still think he's pretty

Tom Petty– Wildflowers
I realize that this album isn’t exactly new to the world, but it was to me as of this year. Another Jeff Jackson introduction, this is the nickname he has dubbed me with and there’s no Tom Petty album I can listen to without thinking of Jeff. I like listening to Tom when I’m feeling guitar-y and a little hippie.
Favorite TrackWildflowers

Hours have passed imaging myself in a sundress walking through a field of wildflowers

Nicki Minaj– Pink Friday
I love Nicki Minaj for being a strong female role model. She thrives in the overwhelmingly male dominated rap/hip-hop community often with some of the best lines of a collaboration. Say what you want about the Lil’ Kim beef she has had going, Minaj is tearing up the trails that Kim and others before her first blazed. When I need a confidence booster, I’ll try ‘I’m the best,’ ‘Fly’ featuring Rihanna, or ‘Last Chance’ featuring Natasha Bedingfield or ‘Right through me’ for a smile about the manfriend. The best thing about Pink Friday? Knowing there’s going to be another album following.
Favorite TrackSuperbass doesn’t have 233 listens on my Itunes in six months without reason.

I'm surprised she doesn't have something showing off her very famous derrière

Lady Gaga- Born This Way
There’s a reason Lady Gaga is my favorite artist. She just keeps getting better. There’s something about the universe that had the Mother Monster release an album titled ‘Born This Way’ when I’m in a country that constantly questions my looks, my attitudes, and sometimes my very existence here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve plugged in the earbuds to release some kind pressure of living as a Peace Corps Volunteer with ‘Born this way,’ ‘You and I,’ ‘Bad kids,’ ‘Edge of glory,’ or ‘Americano’. I can’t say enough about her Ladyship, just do yourself a favor and listen to this album.
Favorite TrackHair

I haven't always 'gotten' her album art, but the music speaks volumes

Honorable Mentions: Rolling Stone’s Sticky Fingers, Sky Blue Sky by Wilco, and Sweeter from Gavin Degraw