Wrapping up the Week! Pay Attention to Your Yoga, Pay Attention to Your Life

Alright, much better day yesterday, and today is Friday! Yay!

Celebrated my co-teacher’s birthday yesterday by bringing in a little chocolate birthday cake from Paris Baguette, a chain of pastry shops here in Seoul. On top of the cake, I placed candles that said  
“<3 YOU”, and totally surprised her with the cake, candles, and the kids singing “Happy Birthday” to her.  She was actually touched! It was adorable, “Elisa, I’m so touch-ed”, she leaned over and said to me in her even more adorable Korean accent. It was a special moment, and I love happy surprises.

chocolate cake from paris b.  (totally copy/pasted from the net as i’m too lazy to upload pics as of late…)
My patience was better yesterday with the kids.  I had a good night’s rest and was careful with how much sugar I ate all day. I’m noticing that lack of *quality* sleep (it doesn’t really matter if I get 8, as long as the hours are quality), and/or too much sugar really put me in a “mood”.  It’s pretty easy to get too much sugar here at preschool with all the cakes (see above, which is a daily thing as kids have birthday parties all the time) going around.  Plus the stress that can come with teaching 20 kids sometimes leaves you reaching for chocolate.
I read a great quote the other day, from star yoga teacher Erich Schiffman’s book. To paraphrase:
“Pay attention to your yoga, pay attention to your life.  Both will become more interesting.”
So what did I learn this week by paying a bit more attention?
In yoga: My hamstrings are tighter than ever despite teaching 3 classes a week and doing my own lil’ morning and bedtime routines..  solution? Stay longer in forward bends as to not shock the muscles.
*It’s hard for me to get to bed after teaching evening classes.  Possible solution: How are you teaching this class?  Crap!  Elisa…stop running it like an AM class. Bring the energy down a notch. Enter “moon salutations” and knock off the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) and backbends.  Chill out.  
In life: 
*unquality sleep + sugar = moods.  Solution: Do things to get better sleep. I stumbled on a book called “The Well-Rested Woman”, and have started taking tips from that, like creating a bedtime routine.  Focus on protein and veggies.  Do I really need sugary soymilk, chocolate, and cakes that are conveniently lying around?
*Tuesday night late evening tea parties at my place with awesome friends are pretty amazing, and being around positive people sometimes can boost my energy like nothing else. Wish i’d done this more throughout the past year! But hey, maybe all that solo time was a good thing, too. 
Yay for random rambles…Happppy Friday!

Imaginary Friends

Today in my afterschool class, we read a story called, “Invisible Friend”…about a boy and his imaginary friend.

I asked the kids if they had imaginary friends…2 little girls did. One little girl’s friend was thumb-sized and had wings.

I remember my imaginary friend, Shelley. She stuck around probably until I was 7 or 8. Before my parents divorce…and the crazy turmoil that went with it. Bankruptcy, anger, hurt, confusion. Lots of shit. I think I left her at the beach house we moved out of at that time. I don’t remember taking her with me. I guess I left part of my imagination there, too.

Anyways, hearing these innocent little girls talk about their imaginary friends reminded me of how precious this age and imagination is. They are 6. Which means in Korea…that they go to English school all day, learn violin for another hour after school, maybe go to hagwon (intense private afterschools), and maybe come home around 8 or 9 at night. We push them to read, speak English, pay attention..but at the end of the day, they still make time for imagination.

As adults, can we make time for our imaginations? I dare you. I dare myself. 15 minutes to shut your eyes and daydream. I might have lost this for the last…oh I don’t know…18 years…but I’m determined to get it back…

Month 2


Entrance to Seoul Zoo and (the ski lift we rode when we left) on the first sunnnnny day I’ve seen in Seoul…
To be honest, this first month was NOT easy. But these pictures are some of the highlights~going to the Seoul Zoo (where we got to pet kangaroos!) and making hats with my kids. Kids and animals=Happy. I’ve really bonded with my kids. I got very very sick a couple weeks ago and missed 2 days of work…I was so sick, the sickest I’ve probably ever been besides having mono when I was 13, and I just felt like giving up and going home. I was thisclose to booking a flight. But the thought of leaving the kids really got to me! And the job is great, the days just fly by. The kids have come such a long way in just a month…already learning the ABC’s through letter “F”, belting out the ABC’s, and asking for simple things like “help me please”, “Bathroom, please?”. They are also just the littlest bundles of love, I seriously haven’t felt so much love in forever.

My 4 year olds and I, showing off the hats we made.
Petting (kissing) kangaroos at the Seoul Zoo
Anyways, I’m very impressed with Korean Health care. I went to the Korean doctor at the International Clinic and she made that “tskkkk” sounds through her teeth when she was checking me out–not good. She said to always wear scarves and hydrate with “warm fluid only, no cold juice or water”, which I found interesting. So, after nearly 2 weeks of antibiotics, scarf wearing, and warm/room temp h20, tea, and soup, I think we nipped it. *****Bonus: my skin cleared up from the antibiotics! Woohoo!
Reasons I’m very impressed by Korean Healthcare (or at least my doctor)…
-She took the time to actually look at me, give me lifestyle advice, and she seemed genuinely concerned, unlike so many American doctors
-Prescriptions are individually tailored to you. You get little baggies for each dose full of half of some pill, a quarter of another one, a full dose of this or that. It’s pretty cool.
-Affordable. Even without insurance…$12….with insurance $3. Amazing.

Korean prescription baggies, each one is one dose
The weather is warming up…meaning a high of about 50-60…which is cold back home. It’s a huge adjustment and I just can’t wait for summer to come! I am basically living in my down coat until it reaches at least 60 degrees a day.
Now, so far I’m not in love with Korea but we all know I’m sort of a foodie, especially with Asian foods (I would drive to the Asian market during college for goodies!). Going out to eat has been so much fun here. Korean BBQ, Galbi or Samgipsal, Shabu shabu, Korean vegan buffets (even though I’m soooo not Vegan), Indian food, and there is much more to try.
There are a few snacky food items that I’ve fallen in love with here that are worth mentioning…
Korean Popcorn–the only readily available whole grain around! and it is EVERYWHERE. Freshly popped, 1,000 won or $1 per enormous bag, and nothing added to it. Amazing. BUT, all popcorn is potentially high glycemic, so must eat some fat or protein with it to counter the effects! I’ve been adding a little ghee (clarified butter from India, found at the Itaewon foreign food market) on the side
Seasoned LaverDried seaweed, roasted with oil and salt. Great salty snack that’s not high in cals. High in lots and lots of nutrients.
Korean gum sweetened with Xylitol– In the U.S., Xylitol sweeteners are only really seen in natural and alternative markets. At the Natural Foods Expo where I worked for the past 2 years one weekend per year, Xylitol was all the rage! Here, Xylitol sweetens the average gum sold for 500 won, or 50 cents, at every little market. And there are a million great flavors. And sooo good for your teeth.
Asian Pears– Full of fiber and vitamin C. Very hydrating. Sold everywhere!
Also, I love that there is a fruit and veggie stand right across the street from my apartment. So, it’s pretty easy to go across the way and grab a bundle of baby bok choy (3-4 for 1,000 won or $1) and mushrooms (less than a $1) to stir fry, a giant asian pear ($1.50), and a slab of fresh fresh tofu. Actually, there seem to be fruit and veggie stands everywhere you go. It’s too easy to eat healthy here…but like anything in life, it is a choice. There is also amazingly unhealthy but gotta-try-it-at-least-once street food here…like fried chips on a stick, fried hot dog, fried egg, tempura-ed everything, waffles, ice cream, pancakes with sugary paste inside.
Well…till next time…