Saturday, May 21, 2016


I experience deep pangs of pain in my gut in passing moments when I'm sitting on the subway, or walking around the streets in Korea, my second home, imagining Ali beside me experiencing this country for the first time.  He was supposed to be here.  He had a ticket.  I asked him not to come.  I know it's absolutely the right thing to do.  I know, I know, I know.  But the healing process of a break up for an empath like me is more painful than I'll ever be able to describe here.

So I do what my counsellor has suggested: I experience the pain rather than try to push it away.  I'd much rather push it away.  But I don't.  I let it wash over me.  I breathe deeply and I remind myself I'll be okay...even when I myself don't believe it:

"I will be okay, I will be okay, I will be okay"

The Great Wall

I've always dreamt of scaling The Great Wall.  I cannot express my appreciation for this amazing opportunity.  I kept thinking, "I'm at The Great Wall, I'm at The Great Wall, it's finally happening"  

What a serene, magnificent and peaceful day!

So much happiness.

Jump fail

Jump success

I (heart) China!

Friday, April 29, 2016

stress and life and adventure

I am in the middle of one of the most difficult and trying times in my life.  I did so much personal work and growth after my divorce and now I'm doing the same after the ending of my relationship with Ali, engagement with Ali (if you're my friend on FB), ending of my relationship with Ali?  Yes, question mark! Yes, engagement!  Yes, ending!

This process of time apart and physical separation from him is absolutely one of the most painfully difficult things I have done, yet something I know is absolutely necessary -- for me, for him! 

I have much work to do on myself.  I plan to write about that process - it's messy.  I'm learning.  I read this post recently and I knew it meant that I needed to write about my process while I was experiencing it instead of waiting for my tender heart to be neatly put back together.  It will be a long time until my tender heart will be put back together...and maybe it will never be neatly.  This experience has changed my life (in a bad way for now...but with time it will be good, I pray).

Let's start here: 

I've been staying at a friend's house for the past 10 days just so that I remain grounded and take care of myself.  I'm not good with the self-care stuff.  But, I am so blessed that my friend (really my second set of parents) have welcomed me into their hearts and home while I am healing and processing my pain.  Like yesterday I burst out in tears as I sat on their kitchen floor with snot flowing from my nose and Cheryl (that lovely lady in the picture) sat down beside me and just put her arm around me.  I love them:

Okay, it's not all bad.  When I take a hit in my personal life, things in my professional life look good.

For example, I'm nearly done my thesis!!!!!  This alone is a big accomplishment.  I never thought I'd ever see the end of it...I think I was afraid to let it go.  Geez, I'm not good at letting go (adding that to the list of personal work).  Plus, I don't think I ever really believed I was capable of completing this goal.

I presented my research in a competition at my university a couple months back and I got selected to present my research at 2 universities in CHINA!   Yup, I'm going to China and I've decided since I'm already all the way on that side of the world, why not stop in and see some friends in Korea?!  So, I'll be spending 10 days in China and then 10 days in Korea.

When I return, I'm presenting my research at a conference in Canada.

And...I presented my research in the 3MT and I got disqualified because I went over the time limit (3 minutes!) but I won the people's choice award!

And I wrote my very first research article and submitted it to a journal.  YAY!

So "work" wise, things are good.  Personal life wise, things are shit!

Meh, I'm trying to smile through the storm.  I'm learning oh so much!

Monday, March 07, 2016

Learning from my mistakes

In my failed marriage (wow, that's such a shitty word: "failed").  Let me try that again:

In my failed successful chance to learn some important life lessons marriage, I learned ONE very big important life lesson:

I learned to LOVE myself!  I learned to be true to who I am, to own Jennifer, to be less afraid of what other people think about Jennifer and her choices.  I learned to live a life for ME.

It started the day I told my parents I was getting a divorce.  It went like this: "mom, dad, sit down.  I'm going to tell you something.  I'm not telling you this to ask for your permission.  I don't care if you agree or disagree with me.  This is a choice I'm making for myself, 100% myself.  I don't need you to tell me if it's the right choice or the wrong one.  I'm telling you this not because I need your approval, but because I'm asking for your support, whether or not you want to support me is up to you, mom, dad, I'm getting a divorce."

I think that's when I became an adult: when I stopped asking my mom and dad what I should do.  That was one of the first times when I didn't need mommy and daddy to weigh in on an important life decision.  That's when I stopped living my life in fear of being myself.

I found myself in my failure.  I found myself in my pain.  I found myself in my hurt.

And now, my blogger friends, I'm in love with a man who doesn't love himself.  Maybe pain and hurt hasn't coloured his soul to the depth that it has mine.  I just know that he's entrenched in fear of his disapproving baba: "go ahead and marry that white girl, but don't you ever bring her into this family.  The strayest dog on the street is more of a son to me than you ever will be"*

Thing is, I know that feeling.  I know that feeling of seeking outside validation.

But, here's what I also know: I also know that I cannot, will not, be with someone who is afraid to be themselves no matter how kind, no matter how smart, no matter how handsome, and caring they may be.

The partner that I will share this life with will need to learn how to respect himself first, before he can ever learn to respect me.

And so...I'm single.

* I wish I was joking. I wish he didn't tell me these things. I wish I didn't carry so much hate in my heart for a man I haven't even met.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

My father's latest

I've mentioned several times that my dad arts with Lego.  Here is his latest piece:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

I love you mom.

I think of her often.  The woman who so easily let me into her heart.  She accepted me as I am, and I did her, even though we never did understand our differences.  Separated by language yet united by love.  

I will always cherish my Korean mother-in-law.

Monday, January 11, 2016

I'd like you to meet...Ali

There will be a point in my life when my personal life will no longer be public.  I feel myself being pulled more in that direction for the sake of protecting my vulnerability.  I also feel that the more I'm maturing and becoming more confident in myself, I seek less external validation.  However, it is because of my readers (hi readers!) who send me endless words of encouragement (thank you for your comments!) that provide me the courage to keep sharing.  I have created a community here on this blog and this space is a part of my identity.  I'm having trouble letting go.

It was difficult to announce my "divorce" on this took me a lot of courage to publish about the failure of my marriage (or as I see it now a great learning experience in what I NEED to sustain a healthy life-long relationship).  I wrote about the end of my marriage just recently on this blog, yet it happened quite long ago.  So for you it's new...but for me...I've been sitting with the reality much much longer.  Since this space was dedicated mostly to my life in Korea and this blog originally took form to chronicle my journey there, I wonder if I'm breaking blogging etiquette when I use this platform to speak of other lovers ;)

This brings me to the purpose of this post that I've been wanting to write for awhile now but was never quite sure how to go about introducing you to this man in my life.

Our first time in front of the camera on a impromptu unscripted goofy-turned-serious conversation that captures our fun loving personalities in a half-truth half-joking discussion about relationships.  We both have a cold.  None of this was planned.  I simply pushed play and then this happened:

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

THANK-YOU anonymous

The recent comments from anonymous (bless your heart!) have given me the strength to publish the following post.  Here goes...

She replies with, “you’re strong Jen, I know you’ll get through this.”  I’ve heard these words before.  I know she means well.  I know her words come from a place of compassion and helplessness.  No mother wants to see her daughter in pain.  I repeat myself, “mom, I’m really not doing okay.”

She asks me to pack a bag of clothes.

I drive to my parent’s house down the street, suitcase in tow.  I lie on the living room couch.  I let the twinkle of the Christmas lights dance on my face. 

Depression is an ugly monster, one I have yet to embrace.  It rears into my life at moments of joy and steals away happiness.  I do everything in my own power to face this head on: counselling, self-help exercises, medication, meditation, prayer, yoga, healthy eating…

I’m so frustrated.  I’m angry.  When I wake up and cannot muster the strength to get out of my own bed, this self-defeating dialogue plays in my head:  What is happening to me?  Why do I feel this way?  Why can’t I get better? 

Perhaps I need to let go of these feelings of helplessness and learn to embrace this as a part of who I am.  Honestly, I do not know.

What I do know is that I do not enjoy feeling this way.  As brave and courageous as I think I am, it’s hard for me to accept this as part of my life.

Being honest about it here is the first step in that journey.