A friend recently sent a message on Facebook asking many people what gratitude meant to us. And today one of the blogs I follow, "Lessons from the Monk I Married", did a post about being grateful. If you haven't checked out this blog, I highly recommend it- daily "lessons" written by a woman who was an ESL teacher in Korea for many years and ended up meeting her husband, a former Buddhist monk. They now live in Seattle together. Following her lead, I'm doing a post on what I'm grateful for in my life.
1. My Job- I really knew almost nothing about this job when I came halfway around the world for it, and I totally lucked out. I really like my school, coworkers, and students. It's fun teaching kids every day and seeing them get excited about language learning. They can even joke in English and make puns- some students last week called me 'Amberger', which shocked me because my family used to call me that when I was little.
2. Teachers- The more I teach, the more grateful I become for the amazing teachers I have had in my life.
3. My Health- I could probably exercise more, stretch more, eat less refined sugar, and drink less Hite, but overall my body feels great. I ride my bike every day and can go run 5 or 6 miles around Eunpa Lake for fun. My sleep has been a little weird in Korea with all the construction noise near my apartment, but recently I haven't been hearing it at 6am, and am actually sleeping more than 6 hours straight.
4. Learning a New Language- My Korean is still pathetic, err limited, but I'm still having a great time wading though it. I can read Korean, even though I don't know what it means unless it's Konglish. But studying a non-Roman alphabet is exciting, like learning a secret language! A secret language only shared by me and 75 million other people.
5. Gardens- As I've mentioned before, there are small gardens in every nook and cranny of this city. It makes me absolutely gleeful to watch plants grow every week; see people cultivating the land; riding my bike past onions drying in the sun; marvel at how high vines have already climbed. And that's just on my way to work!
6. My friends back home- From skype to Facebook to real letters in the mail, and even friends I haven't been in touch with, I am so so lucky to have the wonderful friends that I do. Like really. I don't even know how to express my love for all the beautiful, kind, thoughtful people in my life.
7. My community in Gunsan- It's a somewhat different group of people than I usually hang out with back home, but fun, vibrant, and awesome nonetheless. I'm thankful to find a well-rounded group- friends to play music, have dinner parties, volunteer in schools, go hiking, trade garden starts, study Korean, get teaching tips, and sample the local mekju of course. I have rarely had a lonely moment in Korea.
8. My Family- I wouldn't say I have always been close to my family, and I am very different from them in many ways. But over the years it seems we have met each other in the middle somewhere, appreciating each other more than ever. Now I consider my family one of the most important parts of my life, and I can no longer picture living abroad indefinitely like I dreamed about when I was younger. I just want to be close to my family. I'm grateful for my grandmas, aunts, uncles, and older cousins who have been role models to me; for my younger cousins who have recently finished high school and are making their way in the world responsibly and creatively; for my brothers and sisters who are dear friends and kind, fun people; for my nieces and nephews who couldn't be any sweeter or more adorable; for my dad and step-dad, who have been great fathers in different ways (variety is the spice of life!); and for my mom, who is one of the most loving, awesome women on the planet.