Monday, August 23, 2010

Seoul Sisters... and Brothers: Day 2

My memories are fading so I guess that means one thing: I must dedicate myself to blogging about Korea. I bet you can't guess what I'll be doing for the next... forever?!? In the mean time. Here is day 2:

Each day on the tour started bright and early. Breakfast was served every morning between 8-9. It was b
uffet style, which was nice because then we got to eat what we wanted rather that only what was served. Generally there was a fruit bar, cereal bar (which was very popular), eggs, sausage (this looked more like a swollen finger than anything else), unsalted french fries, yogurt shots (which were delicious!) and an assortment of very nontraditional breakfast foods: fish, duck, kimchi, dumplings, etc.

Shortly after 9 everyone loaded up onto the bus
es again and we headed out the to the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Peace Camp for Youth. Everyone was dressed up in their nice clothes (originally we were told we'd only need one pair of dress cloths, then SURPRISE! You need 3 days worth. Some of us improvised, but lots of people had to wear the same thing for those three days! Bless their hearts...) and excited about for the camp to really begin.

When we got to the War Memorial (the museum where the Ceremonies were held) everyone was overcome by the hundreds of names that were on huge memorials as we walked passed. I think this is when I started to really
understand that war is real. I always knew it, but I didn't know how real it was until I was in a foreign country, representing my Grandfather and those who risked their lives to defend freedom.

Our guides walked us into the Hall where the Ceremonies would be and we did a run through of Opening Ceremonies. As we were waiting for the ceremonies to start I took the change to look at the beauty of the building. The photo to the left is the ceiling. It was beautiful! Just like all of the buildings we went to.

Opening Ceremonies consisted of several parts including a video, welcoming speech, declaration of the participants dedication to peace, delivery of the camp flag (which my cousin did!!), beating a drum to symbolize a beginning of the Camp, and a photo opt with an important Korean Government Official.

Shortly after the photo opt the American participants were swept away to quickly tour the museum because an Madam Secretary Hillary Clinton was in Korea and we'd be having a photo opt with her later.
The tour of the museum began with this map. O
ur museum guide provided us with a play-by-play of the War. From that alone I learned so much about the logistics and rationale behind a lot of what happened... well, from the allies' side anyway.

There were so many cool artifacts an statues there (an I got photos of the ones that really spoke to me. Check out my Picasa account or facebook to see them all!) In this post are just a few of my favorites, with commentary. Keep in mind that without the help of the Allies, the Republic of Korea (aka South Korea) would be under Communist rule. The attitudes of the people there is so warm towards those how participated in the efforts, particularly those from the United States. I don't know that I've ever been more proud of my heritage as an American Citizen.

The plaque in front of the flag says, "Taegukki, the National Flag of Korea, with which student soldiers, living in Japan hardened their determination to protect their homeland before departing for the battlefront. They strengthened their fortitude by writing on the flag such words as 'patriotic spirit', 'love for the motherland', 'mother country's warriors', 'loyalty', 'Knock down the Red Army', and 'Congratulations! Departing for the front'."
As we continued our walk through the museum I realized that all of the displays were taking us through the progression of the war. I learned more about the bravery and courageousness of soldiers in general, and specific to this war than I'd ever really been able to comprehend. Several of the Peace Camp participants shared stories about places that their Grandfather's had served. I was touched to have it strike such a close to home chord.
We finally arrived at the place that symbolically and physically brought me peace. The 38th Parallel. We'd seen all the battle displays exhibiting the bravery shown by both sides, but up until this point (during the tour) it was anybody's guess as to who would be victorious. (Of course I knew that the allies would win, because well... the war was 60 years ago.) As we crossed the 38th Parallel I had this peace, that I mentioned before, overcome me. I knew that the freedom of the people in the Republic of Korea was no longer being threatened because of this symbolic line.The 38th parallel is the dividing line between North and South Korea. You see, the Korean War isn't over. An armistice was signed here, not a peace treaty. This line is a representation symbolically and very literally of the line between freedom and communism. The real line isn't spray painted in asphalt, but rather it is a twelve inch cement pad that runs from the Yellow Sea (on the west side of the countries) to the East Sea (which is on the east side... genius!, I know). This line, also known as the DMZ (which I'll talk about in another post) is about 2.5 miles wide (1.25 miles on either side of the line) and is the most heavily armed border in the world. Tourists can make arrangements to enter into a building and actually cross into North Korea. I'll post more about this on the day we went there.
I don't know that I can adequately express my gratitude for those both from the US and abroad who sacrificed so much in the name of freedom. I'll never look at someone in uniform the same. I hope I never forget to stand tall during o
ur National Anthem and think about the beautiful words in the Pledge of Allegiance. To say the least I was emotionally drained. Luckily we didn't have anything too taxing planned immediately afterward, just lunch.
Those of us in my group (all American's) met up with the other group of Americans (apparently there were too many of us to all go around in one group so we split into two) and had lunch in the museum's restaurant. It was very nice and buffet style! Buffets became my favorite way to eat because if something did or didn't look good you could take as much as you wanted or avoid it. PERFECT!
After lunch we went out into the court yard of the museum where Secretary Hillary Clinton and Secretary Robert Gates would be coming. Turns out that the two of them were in So. Korea for an Annual Asian Security Summit. Of course with important Government figures comes a whole slew of pomp and circumstance so we (the American's in the Camp) waited for nearly an hour on bleachers watching the So. Korean and US personnel practice.

I think my favorite parts were to see the US and South Korean flags fly side by side along with other members of the UN. I also couldn't help by stand tall and sing with the military bands as they played my homeland's National Anthem. There is something special about hearing that song in a foreign country. The words, "land of the free and home of the brave" struck a chord (no pun intended) that they've not ever for me prior.
Part of the ceremony was to have our group take a photo with Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. After the two of the paraded down the steps of the courtyard and around a red carpet triangle in the courtyard twice they stopped at us, asked us if we were having a good time and stepped into the photo. Regardless of my political views, it was cool to be in a photo with two such prominent people from the US government. Needless to say, it was a chance of a lifetime. Since the copyrights to the photos aren't mine, here is one of the websites where it can be found. (I'm in the 6th photo right behind Mrs. Clinton.)
The ceremony was short and very powerful (at least to me). Afterward our group was given a little bit of time to take photos in the courtyard. Here are some of my favorites:

The American Girls

"Mormon Family from Utah". Yes, I am related to all those people - minus the guy, Jeremy, in front, but he was adopted into the family on the trip.

Shaun and I... looking very couplish.

By the time we finished up here at the m
useum it was time to board back onto the buses and head back to the hotel for dinner, which was delicious! We had rice, bulgogi, kimchi, watermelon, grapes, other pickled... things.... and Dunkin' Donuts for dessert! (Hello American!) It was nice to eat something periodically that my taste buds recognized as something from home. Don't get me wrong, Korean food is good, but it was nice to taste home since I wasn't seeing it around me.

After dinner we got together in another hall and our kick off ceremonies, which were hilarious! We sat with our teams, played get-to-know you games. Typically I'm not on board for such activities, but with no choice and crazy low expectations I quietly challenged those who'd planned them to prove me wrong and change my attitude. The games were gut wrenching! I laughed so hard and made friends with other people on my team. Maybe sometime I'll try to post part or all of the video we received at the end of our trip. In this it has footage from these games.

This night ended very similar to the one prior, I was exhausted and desperate for sleep! When the games were over, it didn't take much coaxing to convince me to go to bed. Needless to say, Jessica and I didn't have evening debriefing sessions. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Moral of the Story

No worries everyone! The Korea blogs are in process. I just had a funny thing happen to me today and wanted to tell you blog stalkers about it.

You know that saying, "Don't put off till tomorrow what should be done today."? Well I experienced that one first had this morning. Yesterday I got out of bed promptly late and was rushing to get ready for work. (Which has been typical this summer. THIS is why I NEED to be in school.) When I'd completed everything but the morning make-up routine I noticed that my mascara had seen better days and desperately needed to be retired. So I tossed it and thought, "tomorrow morning I'll remember to grab the other one out of the cupboard." and went about the rest of my day.

Well, this morning as I was all but repeating my routine I thought, "I'll grab my make-up bag and do it in the parking lot at work. (Which is also pretty regular for me.) So I grabbed my bags (plural - my purse/bag, makeup bag, and a bag with my books I'm attempting to sell) and headed out the door. I got to work a little earlier than expected and quickly put on everything... then I started looking for my mascara (which is always the last thing I put on) and to no avail, it was gone. I thought, "maybe it jumped out when I hit the breaks on the freeway cause everyone decided that nothing was a good thing to stop for." Nope! It was gone. Gone in the trash at home gone. So I did the only thing I could do and turned the car back on, strapped on my seat-belt, and drove to Wally-World to purchase a new tube of mascara.

So, the moral of the story is: don't put off tomorrow (moving your other tube of makeup) what should be done today.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seoul Sisters... and Brothers: Precurosr and Day 1

Okay, so photos never really came for Mexico... maybe someday though. Right now it's too intimidating to face that monstrous post again. However I'm going to redeem myself and post photos of Korea as I blog!! Genius I know! Bah!

Where to even b
egin with my experiences in South Korea? It's hard to try to put into words the life changing experiences that fall into my path, however because I like you I'll make the attempt:

I guess it all started in May. Grandpa and Grandma Christian were heading off to South Korea, for what I thought was another one of their grand adventures. (I hope someday I can have adventures as grand as theirs!) I found out after they'd returned that the reason for their gallivanting off to that part of the world was because of the bravery that Grandpa had showed decades prior.

My Grandpa was a member of the United States Military in the 1950's and served his country during the Korean War. I actually didn't know my family had I had military members in my family until I was probably twelve or thirteen. It wasn't something our family talked about, and it certainly wasn't something that Grandpa brought up; I now know why. Grandpa didn't see front line or any combat, but I'm sure he knew people who did. His unit was on it's way to Korea when they got news that the war had ended (I later learned that the war still isn't over, but rather an armistice was signed and a ceasefire was temporarily agreed upon.).

The reason Grandpa and Gra
ndma were heading back to the country Grandpa had served in over 60 years ago was because the South Korean government created a Peace Camp to bring back the service men and women who'd dedicated their lives to protecting the lives of others.

People from all over the worl
d were invited to spend a week in Seoul, South Korea (this is the capital city) and see the sites and progress that has been made since it was a war torn country all for approximately half the price of their airfare! (The government provided 100% of their accommodations. This included a five star hotel, food, transportation for the week, and costs of museums and historical sites.) Grandpa and Grandma thoroughly enjoyed their time there and when they returned the way they described the generosity of the South Korean people and government was that they were treated like royalty. (This still brings tears to my eyes and a warm sense of pride to my soul.)

This adventure all happened probably two weeks or so prior to my le
aving for my humanitarian trip to Mexico. When Grandpa and Grandma returned they were informed that several groups of grandchildren of the K.W. (Korean War) college/university aged adults were also being taken over and hosted in a similar way. My Grandparents thought this would be such a great experience for their grandchildren so they passed the message on to my aunts and uncles. My younger brother and I (who are both university students) and a few cousins decided that it would be a fun trip to take together. About week before I was heading off to Mexico we got word that not all of us would be able to go. Since my brother will be leaving to serve a mission for our church this winter I wanted him to go before I would, as I would still be eligible for the trip next summer. So I left for Mexico.

After we'd been in
the country (Mexico) about three or four days I called home to wish my Mom a Happy Birthday... a day early, oops! and my Dad a Happy Father's Day. They told me that several people from the east coast had dropped the Korea program and my name had been at the top of the waiting list. I was told that I would have about an $860 expense for airfare and if I wanted to go I needed to decide ASAP. So I did what any poor college student does, and said "YES!" I gave my passport info to my parents wrapped up the phone call and forgot all about the trip I'd be taking to another part of the world in a little less than a month.

Shortly after I got back (really before I could be excited to be leaving again) I found myself
packing my suitcase and heading to the Delta terminal at the Salt Lake International Airport. It actually wasn't that I wasn't excited to be going, I just didn't have time to be AS excited as I'd previously been. Security in SLC was a breeze - minus the search that my brother had on his second carry on... we still don't know what the issue was. Probably my new favorite game, Bananagrams... Ha ha!

My brother and I met up with three of the nine of cousins that would also be on our trip, at our gate and waited. We played cards and chatted until some other (second) cousins came and I went and chatted with them and some of the other Peace Camp members. An hour or so later the boarding process began. The nice man taking out tickets at the gate mistook me an my brother for a newly married couple. Ha ha! It was super funny. This was to be the first of a few such occurrences throughout the trip.When we landed in LA we only had a few (four...) hours to get to our baggage to the correct ticket gate and get to our international terminal. I'd never flown into LAX so I was a little nervous as it's a HUGE airport (compared to SLC), luckily there was a guy who flew out of Utah who wasn't afraid to ask for directions. (I know, a guy asking for directions! It's unheard of! Way to go Jeremy!!)

We finally met up with Sunny (the woman who'd arranged for everyone on the west cost... as possibly more of the participants), it was at that point that I knew this trip was really
happening and that everything would be okay. We waited in what felt like a zillion lines and I used my classic line for waiting in lines "I love waiting in lines". This made one of my cousins a little perturbed, so I did what came natural and continued to do so throughout the rest of the trip. It only came back to bit me once. Ha ha!

With a good two hours to spare the large group of us arrived at our gate (a
t this point there were probably 35 or so of us) and settled in for a bit. Many of us called home, Shaun, Jessica, Scott, Ryan and I munched on Gardettos that were purchased in Salt Lake, we met some new friends and cousins I'd never remembered meeting.

Overall it was a successful layover.
The boarding process began and I was still indifferent about going, but that was slowly changing. We got on that plane found our seats and coach felt like it was first class!! No, it was better than first class on ANY plane I'd ever ridden on up until that point! Not only did we have personal screens for the viewing of LOADS of free movies, but it could also play music, games and show the course of the plane during flight. I've got one word for you: awesome!!

It was about midnight by the time we finally took off. Our seating arrangements were great. We were in the middle section of a 474, in the back... well, like 4 rows from the back - but still. That wasn't the great part though. My brother was on the isle, then one of my cousins (the girl in the photo to the left... in the blue. I'm in the yellow.) then another girl who was on the trip and from California. What more could I have asked for?

On this plane ride... this very LONG plane ride (13 hours to be precise) that I learned that airplane food is just what it's cracked up to be: not very good. Although the horror stories made it sound like it was going to be like the green goop that you'd imagine coming from some creepy public school cafeteria. It was edible, until I put sesame seed oil on some rice-veggie-hot sauce paste-stuff dish. (Note to self: don't ask for the native dish on planes. The stuff you think you'll be familiar with is weird enough, it's okay to not be brave. There will be time for that when you reach your destination. I wish I would have thought long enough to take a photo of this. The seaweed soup was worth seeing in and of itself.)

After 13 hours of sleeping, movies, meeting new friends, eating yummy ;) airplane food and loads of anticipation we finally landed in Inch 'on. It was nice to finally be on the ground again. When we all kind of staggered off of the plane it was around 4:00 am, South Korea time. Sunny guided us all to customs and one by one we all made it through without too many problems. (I noticed that the South Korean government wanted way more information than the Mexican government did. Things like, addresses of where we were staying, etc...) When we got to the baggage claim I think it started to hit everyone that our bodies weren't adjusted to the time difference and sleepiness started to hit.

Bags were all finally claimed and the money exchange process began. The South Korean Won is equivalent to about .000995 American Dollars. It was a little strange to walk around the streets and buy something for $10,000 KRW (Korean Won) or about $10 USD. After we all got our native currency we did the official check in (yes, we were still at the airport and let me tell you a huge group of tired American's stand out like sore thumb). They gave us booklets of information about Korea and the program, including the group breakouts (we were all assigned to groups that we'd be traveling with), daily schedules. We were also provided with lovely name tags which replaced the wonderful "Hello My Name Is..." stickers we were supposed to wear up until this point (I was very glad to be rid of mine, it was looking yucky), and then climbed unto the bus.

When we climbed onto the bus I was anticipating getting out things to the hotel and maybe catching a nap for a few hours until everyone else from the group arrived. (The group from the west coast was one of the first group there.) WRONG! Our tour guide for the day, Angela told us that we couldn't check into the hotel until noon. (If you're doing the math I'll spare you, that is an EIGHT hour time span that needed to be filled!!) So... what did we do? Sight seeing.

Sunny and Angela decided that we would go to a beach
that was near the airport in Inch 'on. The first beach we couldn't get to, the second one (which had armed military personnel at, and made me a little nervous mind you) wasn't much of a beach, but more of a pier. Finally we were taken to another pier that you could walk down to the water and get in it. I don't think many (if any) people swim there, but it was fun to say I've stood in a Korean ocean. (The photos to the right and below are all of this area.)

At the pier it was very clear that this bay was primarily for fishing. There were loads of fishing boats, and even though I don't like fish I found myself in heaven just being able to admire the old boats... thus I took a zillion photos. (For those of your on facebook, you already know.) On this trip I also learned that I have a fascination with the water. So there will be photos (here and there) that clearly demonstrate my new passion.

More photos are going to be available from our first "beach" experience on facebook and in Picasa. Feel free to check them out. (Posting them here has become quite the headache.)

The pier was amazing! I think part of it may have been because it was still so early in the morning, but I think part of it was that it was just cool. After we'd look at pretty much all there was to see at the pier a boat started to dock on the ramp think in the picture above. So, we loaded up onto the bus again drove onto the ferry. It was super cool!

As we were on the ferry, I took advantage of climbing to the top deck to finding some alone time to enjoy the scenery. Inch 'on was already beginning to awa
ken but being out on the water somehow was still able to bring back the serenity of early morning. I couldn't help but bask in the peace I momentary found there. As I was marveling in the picturesque-ness of the view we were told to come down to a lower deck. When we got there everyone was tossing these Cheeto looking snacks to the seagulls. Below are a few videos of one of our boat past-times: (By the way, those Cheeto things are edible, but I don't recommend them. They smell and taste awful!)

As we approached the other side of the bay we all climbed back onto the bus and started towards Seoul. It seemed that everywhere we went took at least an hour because of crazy traffic. However this wasn't always a bad things since most of us were sleep deprived anyway. While we were on the bus you could count at least 5 people sleeping, this day it was substantially more. I'd post my proof, but out of fear of those who have yucky photos of me I'll refrain.

As we were driving around Seoul (at this point we'd left Inch 'on
and gotten into Seoul) and Angela and Sunny decided that we needed something to eat since it was like 2:00 AM when breakfast was served on the plane. So, we stopped at the most American joint in all of Seoul: McDonalds. Normally I'm not much of a Mcee-Dees fan, but under the circumstances I couldn't have been happier! After eating the uhh... delicious (?) airplane food an Egg McMuffin sounded like heaven. Not everyone felt the same way I did and they found a nearby bakery/restaurant and had a more traditional breakfast which of course consisted of rice, fish and I'd assume seaweed soup. Mmmm...

Not long after breakfast we were back on the bus and continued our drive through Seoul. I think that Angela was trying to burn time before we got to our hotel. We drove past lots of historical sites from the bus, and I confess I wasn't terribly intere
sted at the time. I was on a very important mission to find every possible hole on the inside of my eyelids. AKA: I was wiped out and was way more concerned with sleeping that seeing a building that some important dead guy lived in.

I think it is safe to say that after our 13 hour plane ride from LA (so for us Utans it was 14.5 hours - longer for others! Eek!) that by the time we saw our hotel it was a little like King Arthur seeing the Holy Grail in Monty Python. It was nicer than anything I'd ever stayed in, but in all honesty I was so exhausted it could have been 10x worse that where I showered while in Mexico and I'd still have been excited! (Okay... so that may have been a slight exaggeration but you get the point.)

The group was more than ready to unload from the bus, drop off our bags and have a day to relax before the Peace Camp really began. As we lugged (or wheeled) everything into the lobby another sweetheart-piece-of-information was waiting for us... "SURPRISE! You're rooms aren't ready yet!" Oh boy, I didn't know that I could handle much more thrills of this nature. We did all we could to make the best of the situation (and I tried hard to not be grumpy) by dropping out luggage in the lobby, changing into clean clothes and cleaning up a bit, and went to the hotel restaurant to have lunch with the rest of the group.

Luckily lunch there was a zillion times better than the airplane food; well at least what I ordered was. There were two options for us on the menu: spaghetti (which ended up being spaghetti noodles with a cream sauce and shrimp - YUCK!) and bulgogi (which is pretty much my favorite Korean dish! It's grilled meat with garlic and other seasonings served with rice. Mmmm!!) This photo isn't what was served to us, but it was absolutely delicious!

After lunch was over Sunny and Angela loaded everyone onto buses (Oh! Prior to us getting there we'd been put into traveling groups. There were 5 buses with two groups per bus. Now with nine family members on the trip you'd think that at least one of them would be on my bus... WRONG! Luckily I made two good friends and we became bus buddies. For the remainder of the trip I typically sat by them.) and we headed out to a traditional village. This was a pretty touristy place but it was very interesting to got and learn about the culture and traditions of the Korean people. I was talking to my Grandfather after I got home and he said that when we got there the people lived in the same homes that were in the village. They were very primitive for the time, mainly providing shelter from the elements.

Overall the village was super cool. (By cool I mean awesome, not cool i
n describing the temperature. I think it was one of the hottest and most humid days while we were there. I felt gross for having not showered since the day before (which was really two days! Eew!) and then we threw on heat and humidity. Luckily by the time the trip ended I'd gotten to a point that I enjoyed the humidity and actually missed it when I got back to the States.) There were homes that showcased the living, eating and sleeping quarters; typical jobs (spinning silk - which was awesome), cooking, basket weaving, and farming; and even an old school prison complete with torture chambers and methods.

We also saw several shows. One was a traditional dance, performed of course to traditional music (which a neighbor of mine who'd served his LDS mission to Korea, described the sound as banging of pots and pans together with no rhythm... he was right. BUT the dancing was amazing!). The other show was a man who did tightrope walking. He was very talented as well as entertaining. My tiredness and grumpiness kept me from taking as many photos as I now wish I would have. Ahh the regrets...

It was probably close to 5:00 pm (which would have been 2:00 AM in Utah... I think) by the time we finished walking around the village and saw a few shows. Prior to getting back onto the bus we had the chance to do a little shopping at some of the cute little gift shops. I was still a little unsure as to what is a "good deal" was since I wasn't sure what things ran for in South Korea, so despite my falling in love with a beautiful silver ring I left empty handed. *Sigh...* (Not to worry though, I came back with lots of special treasures!)

Everyone climbed onto the bus (that would feel a little like our second homes) and we headed back to the hotel. HURRAH! We had a few minutes to move our luggage up to our rooms (that surprise! still weren't all the way ready) and were to meet in one of the dining halls for dinner.

Dinner was a million-zillion times better that what was served on the plane, if I remember correctly it was bulgogi (again) with kimchi, rice and some veggies and donuts for dessert. (I know, I didn't expect it either.) It was funny when we got to our tables (which were set up banquet style - super long and skinny) each place was set with a cup, plate, napkin, spoon and ... chopsticks. I struggled with them for about three bites then when they brought forks around I snagged one. I was determined to figure out how to eat effectively with these suckers... it just wouldn't be that first night.

The rest of the evening was ours, so Jessica and I (my cousins and roommate) invited Shaun and Ryan (our brothers) over to play games with us. By the time they got there we were all so exhausted that we fell asleep to the news (one of the few things that was in English). I woke up at about 8 PM and told them they had to leave. I changed, brushed my teeth and hit the sack. At about 11:30 PM or so Jess woke up and got ready for bed. That was probably one of the best night sleeps I had gotten in weeks!

I guess in short, that's the end of day one. If you're not sick of the play-by-play then feel free to stay posted for days 2-7 if not... well I'll never know. :)

Growing Bit By Bit

I was reading through one of my cousins blogs today and stumbled across this... I most certainly did copy and paste it right into this post. :) Thanks for the inspiration and doing all the hard work Kaylie!!

The other day I ran into an article titled 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself. I am always wanting to improve and so I've decided to give it a try. I'm happy to say that these are a lot easier to motivate myself to do.

1. Read a book. Books are concentrated sources of wisdom. The more books you read the more wisdom you will expose yourself to.
2. Learn a new language. Learning a new language is a whole new skill altogether; the process of acquainting with a new language and culture is a mind-opening experience.
3. Pick a new hobby. Learning something new requires you to stretch yourself in different aspects.
4. Take up a new course. Courses are a great way to learn knowledge and skill.
5. Create an inspirational room. If you live in an inspired environment you are going to constantly be inspired.
6. Overcome your fears. Fears reflect areas where you can grow.
7. Level up your skills. You need to 'level up' your skills like in a video game so that you can become stronger.
8. Wake up early. Waking up early (5am-6am) has been acknowledged to improve your productivity and quality of life.
9. Have a weekly exercise routine. A better you starts with being in better physical shape.
10. Start your life handbook. This should contain essentials on how you can live your life to the fullest.
11. Write a letter to your future self. Make a date 1 year from now and seal it.
12. Get out of your comfort zone. Real growth comes from hard work and sweat. By exposing yourself in a new context you're literally growing as you learn to act in new circumstances.
13. Put someone up to a challenge. Competition is one of the best ways to grow. Through the process both of you will gain more than if you were to set off on a target alone.
14. Identify your blind spots. In personal development terms blinds spots are things about ourselves that we are unaware of. These are things that trigger you. After you identify them figure out ways to address them.
15. Ask for feedback. Asking for feedback gives us additional perspective.
16. Stay focused with "To-Do" lists. Don't get sidetracked from what you need to do.
17. Set Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). BHAGs stretch you beyond your capacity since they are big and audacious. When you accomplish one you will feel on top of the world.
18. Acknowledge your flaws. Everyone has flaws; what's more important is to understand them and then address them.
19. Get into action. The best way to learn and improve is to take action. Taking action gives you immediate results to learn from.
20. Learn from people who inspire you. These people reflect certain qualities you want in yourself.
21. Quit a bad habit. Oversleeping? Not exercising? Smoking? Nail biting?
22. Cultivate a new habit. Wake up early, exercise, read a book, meditate, etc.
23. Avoid negative people. Don't spend too much time with them or they will drag you down.
24. Deal with difficult people. There are times when they are impossible to avoid, deal with them. These people managing skills will go a long way in the future.
25. Learn from your friends. Everyone has amazing qualities in them. How can you learn from them?
26. Start a journal. This is the best way to gain self-awareness. It is a self-reflection process. Clarify your thoughts and re-read it from a third person perspective.
27. Start a blog about personal development. To help others grow you need to be the one walking the talk. There are expectations for you, from you as well as others, which you have to uphold.
28. Get a mentor or coach. There's no faster way to improve than to have someone work on your goals with you.
29. Reduce the time you spend on chat-programs or other programs. This time can be spent much better on other activities.
30. Learn Chess or any strategy game. Not only do you have fun but you can improve your analytical skills.
31. Stop watching t.v. The programs are lower conscious and not very empowering. Do something constructive.
32. Start a 30-Day Challenge. Set a goal and give yourself 30 days to achieve this. This can be a new habit or something you've always wanted to do.
33. Meditate. Meditation helps to calm you and be more conscious. The clutter-clearing process can be cleansing.
34. Learn Public Speaking (Toast-Masters). You can learn more about yourself and learn to communicate better as well as engage people.
35. Befriend top people in their fields. These people have achieved their results because they have the right attitudes, set skills, and know-how.
36. Let go of the past. If there is grievance or unhappiness from the past -- it is time to let it go. Holding on to them prevents you from moving on and becoming a better person. Break away from the past, forgive yourself, and move on.
37. Start a business venture. If you have interest in something why not turn it into a venture and make money off it while learning new skills at the same time?
38. Show kindness to people around you. You can never be too kind to someone. In fact, most of us don't show enough kindness to people around us. Being kind helps us to cultivate other qualities such as compassion, patience, and love. Chances are you will feel better than yourself.
39. Reach out to people who hate you. If you ever stand for something you are going to get haters. It's easy to hate people who hate us -- It's more challenging to love them back. Being able to forgive, let go, and love these people requires magnanimity and an open heart. Seek a resolution and get closure on past grievances.
40. Take a break. Have you been working too hard? Self-improvement is also about realizing you need to take a break to walk the longer mile ahead. Take time off for yourself every week. You can't be driving a car if it has no petrol.
41. Read at least 1 personal development article a day. It can help to motivate you.
42. Commit yourself to personal growth. If you have no intention of personal growth no matter what you do you will never succeed.

Moral of the story is I'm going to conquer #36 via #17.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Seoul, South Korea

A day-by-day entry is to come, but until then... here is a teaser of my adventures:

I can't even begin to describe the feelings that are in my heart from the experiences I had during the 2010 Peace Camp for Youth in South Korea.

The people of Korea are absolutely beautiful! The places are exquisite and knowing that they were able to lift themselves from the terror of communism and war, to the world power they now are is incredible. I feel confident in saying that those of us who were able to participate in the program shared experiences of solemnity at museums and memorials, had a small taste of the heartbreak families who lost fathers, sons, brothers or other loved ones had to endure, see the joy and hope freedom brings to a war torn people and build friendships with students across the globe.

I feel as though I landed in Inch 'on very uneducated regarding my knowledge of South Korea and the Korean War, and left with volumes of valuable information that I regularly pass on to others. Going to the places my Grandfather served in and around during his time as a soldier in the War has created a bond to him that I never thought possible. The memories and feelings I made and brought back from the museums, memorials, lectures and interactions with the participants and citizens of South Korea are experiences that I'll always look back on with the up most gratitude. No longer will I think of South Korea as simply a place between China and Japan, but rather as an incredibly strong country that will forever have a very special place in my heart.

This is a photo of those with whom I shared this wonderful experience with!