Tag Archives: South Korea

Sunshine Blogger Award!


Sunshine Award

The Sunshine Award!

I smiled with joy when, upon opening a comment, I discovered that the writer had given me the Sunshine Blogger Award! What a treat and an honor. So thank you, Jay Morris, for honoring me so. I think my readers will also like your blog, which is The Wayward Journey (link will open in a new window).

I must admit I’m embarrassed to be so late announcing this. Jay actually wrote to me at the beginning of January. However, it’s been a rough couple of months health-wise, so I am behind on many things! Now, I am feeling better, and the beautiful Gerbera daisy above heralds the beginning of spring.

The requirements for accepting this award are that I tell you seven things about myself and that I nominate ten other bloggers for the award, not to mention letting Jay know how much I appreciate his award to me.

Let’s start with the seven things about me that you may not know.

1. I’m a cat person. I like dogs and had them while I was growing up, but I adore cats. I love their independent spirits, their ability to take care of themselves when I leave for a few days, and the way they curl up in balls when they sit in my lap.

2. I’ve traveled to South Korea, Japan, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.  I lived in Korea for nearly two years and loved that wonderful country and its friendly, loving people who always had a smile for this expat. I took an eco-hike on St. Croix and learned many things about herbal medicines from the naturalist who led the hike.

3. I’ve been in every state in the Union except for Maine, Massachusetts and Alaska. I would love to visit Alaska one day. It’s been a dream for many years.

4. I have one daughter, who is 39. She is a woman of many talents. I adore her and her son, who is the light of my life. When he moved back to be with his dad during his teenage years, I missed him so much I could hardly stand it. But I am so grateful for the spending most of the first ten years of his life near him in person. We had wonderful times and still do have beautiful, warm talks and hugs when I see him!

5. My favorite color is yellow. My sofa is yellow, and the chair that goes with it has lots of yellow too. Yellow is such a sunshine color and always makes me feel great, whether it’s in my own living room or at the store buying flowers. I hope my daisies will come back this year.

6. I love gardening and I have had several wonderful combination veggie/flower gardens. Unfortunately, because of my health now, I can’t garden like I used to. However, I can do container gardening. In 2012 I had way too many containers with plants and flowers and veggies! It took me 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to water them each day. But they were beautiful.

7. It is still my dream to travel more. I would like to go to the holy healing places of Medjugore and Lourdes. Maybe God will send me a miracle healing if I go there. Of course, maybe He’ll send one even if I don’t! Next, I’d like to go to Israel. It doesn’t seem like a very safe place right now. I always pray for peace in that region. Finally, I’d like to go to Eastern Europe and see the Czech Republic and some other places. I hope one day I can achieve this dream. But if I don’t, I feel blessed and grateful for the traveling I’ve already done in my life. Many folks haven’t even been out of their home city or state.

Okay, now for the nominations.

1.  Monce Abraham is a writer who lives in India. His blog posts will really make you think. They’re not fluff at all!

2.  Lead, Learn and Live is David Kanigan’s inspirational blog.

3.  Piya Singh is an Indian Artist, currently living and working in Germany. I think you’ll like her creativity.

4.  Charlie and Tom are photographers whose work is lovely. Their blog is PhotoBotos.

5.  Shannon Elizabeth Moreno writes about her strong faith in Revelations in Writing.

6.  Marney McNall scribes her volunteer experiences in The Volunteer Fringe.

7.  Rebeca Bud has a different take on her blog: Taking the Kitchen

8.  Loolie and Poolie have a fun blog about their vacations: The Adventures of Loolie and Poolie.

9.  Dianne Gray is an award-winning Australian author. Her blog is Writing and Loving Life.

10.Speaking from the Heart is an out-of-the-box blog by a woman who is a holistic health practitioner.

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Ulsan, South Korea: What If…


Playing games at orphanage in Pusan, South Korea

What if we all sat in a circle and talked about our similarities and our differences? Would it make a difference? I think it might.

Living in another cultures gives you a different perspective on just about everything. It’s impossible to ignore the differences and it’s a joy to discover the similarities.

What if we left products for sale out in the open each night, with just a tarp to cover them up? Would people in the United States steal them all? Or would they get used to having them there?

What would it be like if we all took time a few times a year to rest and reflect on our lives in a peaceful and serene spot? Would we still allow the stress to get to us all the time if we did that? Somehow, I don’t think so.

A mountain retreat near Ulsan, South Korea

If we left our shoes at the door, our floors wouldn’t get dirty as quickly. Would our minds stay cleaner as well? Who knows?

The girls came to my room at English summer camp in Pusan, South Korea.
They left their shoes at the door. So had I.

If we celebrated birthdays simply and elegantly, would it be enough? Or do we have to have more gifts, bigger cakes and larger parties to show our worth? Not only was this cake simple, but it was also scrumptious.

“Tis a joy to be simple, ’tis a joy to be free…” Shaker song

At the end of the day, I think it should be enough to stop, to stretch, to take deep breaths, and simply, to rest, and to enjoy the view. What do you think?

Good night, Sun.

Travel to another land and take in the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. Celebrate a world filled with people who are different, but who are the same. Believe in yourself and your dreams. Hold onto your hopes. Cling tightly to love and family. Forgive freely. Live large. Don’t give up. You will not pass this way again.

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Haeundae Beach Sand Festival, Pusan, South Korea


Gone fishin’ sand sculpture, 2008

I fell in love with the “Land of the Morning Calm,” within hours of arriving there for the first time in 1997. Ten years later I went back, and my love affair continued unabated. Pusan  (or Busan), South Korea is located on the east coast of the South Korea.  As with other large cities in South Korea, a stark  contrast lies between miles of huge concrete apartment buildings and women sitting on the sidewalks hawking their fresh veggies or fish.

One of Pusan’s famous summer events is the Haeundae Beach Sand Festival. Artists, families and individuals come from all over Korea to try their hand to sculpt all manner of things. The boardwalk booths offer tempting food, information about various services and businesses, and giveaways such as pens and bumper stickers — much the same as any American fair.

This particular artist told me he had worked since the sun came up to sculpt this lovely lady.

Here’s a popular Korean cartoon character.

Love this little bug!

Korean women take a great deal of pride in their appearance and always dress to the “nines” when going out…even for a sand festival. This is one of my favorite photos, because I just couldn’t understand why any woman would wear heals to an event like this!

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Kind Strangers I Have Met: #1 Ulsan, South Korea


Korean children, photo by
Ellie Kuykendall

From an early age Korean children are taught to follow directions and respect their elders. However, there are always those who would rather play than wait patiently. I smiled as I walked by these kids that bright spring day in 2008. I was on my way to my new job; it was only my second day, but already I knew I would love it.  Not only was I teaching ESL, but I was also editing students’ papers, so it was a nice mix of my talents.

Two minutes after walking by the children, I was on the ground because I tripped on an uneven pavement. I knew that one ankle was sprained, but when I tried to get up, I couldn’t support weight on either leg. “Now what?” I asked myself.

Thirty seconds later a man came out of nowhere. There were other people walking around, but I hadn’t seen him. He lifted my right foot up and massaged it. One of the things I love about South Korea is that people try natural remedies first. The massage hurt me, so I let him know. He disappeared for a moment and came back with a chair. He lifted me up and helped me sit down. Then he walked out onto the street to hail a cab.

If you’ve ever paid outrageous prices for taxis in the United States, you’d adore the fact that cabs are really cheap in some other parts of the world. The cost of the cab from where I was to my school was about $1.50 for the trip of about 2 miles. I arrived at the school, having called both the director of the school and my minister. My minister was going to pick me up at the school and take me to the doctor.

My director looked at me skeptically, as if I were lying about not being able to walk. I told him I would be fine. He allowed me to go to the doctor with my minister. After we left, we drove down the street where I had hurt myself. We looked for the man who helped me, but we couldn’t find him.

Maybe he wasn’t a man after all. Maybe he was one of my guardian angels. You have them too, you know. They’re everywhere and nowhere.

And the next time you meet a stranger, don’t think of him or her as a stranger. Think, “S/he is just a friend I hadn’t met yet.” That’s what I do. Have a blessed day.

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Filed under Friendship, Helping Others, People Who Have Impressed Me, Travel

An Extraordinary Life


I intend to look like this again by June, 2012! That will be after the effects of that nasty Prednisone no longer show up in my body!

No, this blog isn’t about Steve Jobs, whose life certainly was extraordinary. The newspapers and Internet were full of pieces singing his praises today. He was an amazing man.

This blog is about me. I realized today that I’ve had an extraordinary life, and I thought I’d share some of it with you.

I was blessed to be born into a family that cared about each other and which had parents who were able to provide us with everything we needed and much of what we wanted. I never did get that Chevrolet for my high school graduation, but I was allowed to drive the family car, even after I had a wreck in it!

I’ve lived in six states, the first of which was California, where I was born and brought up in a lovely home, immaculately cared for by my mom, my grandmother and me and my two sisters. (Dad and the boys took care of the outside, of course. They mowed the lawn, painted the white fence and took the car when it needed an oil change.) That’s how it was back then. Men did men’s work and women did women’s work and rarely did the twain ever meet.

I went to college first at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. I loved it. I loved being away from home, and I loved being a college student. It was a gorgeous campus. I fell in love in my sophomore year and dropped out of school. I got to see nearly every state in the union as a result of that marriage. My daughter’s dad worked for a traveling opera company. We wound up in New Paltz, NY during the summer of 1968, just down the road from yes, you guessed it, Woodstock. But we had to work, so we couldn’t go!

Later we wound up in Florida, where we lived for most of the rest of our marriage and where my only child, a much beloved and long-awaited daughter, was born. While we were married we went to lots of Bluegrass festivals, which I never appreciated until many years later. After the opera company I worked as a telephone operator at the old fashioned switchboard and cord contraption. I used to regularly get in trouble for talking with my best friend, the coolest hippie I ever knew.

We eventually moved to California, where my husband was going to graduate school and where we finally split up in a very nasty divorce. So much pain around that divorce that I thought I’d never live through it, but somehow I did.

A few years later, I went back to finish my degree, but it hasn’t done me a whole lot of good. The best thing that came from it was being accepted to teach English to the managers of Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea almost 15 years later. Before I went to Korea I went to Mexico and after I got back, I traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Chattanooga and Savannah, two very cool cities.

I eventually went back to South Korea for another 10 months. That trip didn’t work out the way I’d planned, but I wound up learning a lot in the process.

I’ve had a business burn down, an apartment catch on fire, a house flood and have been evicted once. I’ve had more financial troubles than I care to state, horrible arguments with family and now I have a chronic illness that has kept me mostly house-bound for the last eight months or so. Lots of other stuff has gone on as well.

But I’ve had an extraordinary life. I’ve had the privilege of touching people’s hearts and lives in three other countries. People I don’t even know have written to me praising my writing. God has occasionally nudged me in the right direction, and He has helped turn me around when I was going the wrong way. I’ve met some amazing people who have shared their experiences, strength and hope with me and some others who have needed mine. For most of my life I haven’t liked myself. I don’t know why. But I do know that, as Bob Dylan said, “The times, they are a changin’.”

At least today they are. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t deep in despair a few days ago. I was. But today I am not, and that is the most extraordinary thing of all – I have been given the gift of being able to bounce back no matter what befalls me and whether it is an act of God or something of my own making.

I’m not saying it’s been easy. It hasn’t. But what I’ve noticed more than anything is that God is always there with me, no matter what is going on in my life. I may not always recognize it at the time, but I’ve come to realize this is true over the course of my whole life.

And you, my fair reader, are part of the many blessings I’ve had bestowed on me. Thanks for your reading, and thanks for being you! You, too, are extraordinary, even though you might not have thought of yourself as being that way.

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