Realigning and Refocusing with the New Year

People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates. — Thomas Szasz

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2019. It is hard to believe it is a new year already. There is the cliché saying of “New Year, New You” that always gets passed around at the beginning of the year. However, I’ve also seen the parallel these past few weeks: “New Year, Same Me.” People always joke about how their New Year’s resolutions fail before they even start. It is all very funny and painfully true, but I find it often gives a view of failure to the beginning of the year. I know whenever I make goals, I often fail. It is not easy to make new habits. However, the only way to succeed is to keep trying. Try and try again. So yes, this post will be the typical cliché post of “New Year, New You” because I know it is always good to take some time to reassess your life and come up with some goals for the future.

I want my motto for this month to be “Realigning.” Today, I found myself sitting down and reassessing how I was living my life now. I realize I have a lot of areas in my life that need “realigned.” I seem to have allowed myself to get caught up in things that used to mean nothing to me. Although I embrace some of the changes, there are some changes that I do not want to be a part of my life. It is easy to forget that every day matters in the pursuit of becoming the person God has called you to be.

I have wasted so many hours on social media and Netflix since coming here, and wasted more money than I would have liked as well. I need to realign my priorities and remember my time here isn’t meant to be wasted. I’ve been learning a lot about myself on this trip, and when I mean learning about myself, I don’t really mean the good things. I’ve come to realize so many faults that I had never paid attention to before. One fault would be my complete lack of self-control in my life. Hence why I wasted so much of my time and money.

I have not given myself time to do the things I really enjoy doing or the things that are really important to me. So, I have decided I need to do a full realignment and reassessment of my life. In order to realign myself, I will need to create boundaries for myself and keep to those boundaries. I have learned a lot about the importance of boundaries the past year and a half, and how boundaries help you maintain a healthy and happy life. However, because of my lack of self-control, I tend to not do my boundaries any justice.

It is my hope that as I continue to focus on making boundaries and listening to those boundaries, I will learn some much needed self-control.

One thing I’ve found that really helps me clear my mind and allow myself to think and plan is decluttering, organizing, and cleaning the space I live and work in. There is something so stressful about messes. I always feel happier and more at peace after I’ve deep-cleaned my room. Clutter does not add anything to your life and I believe it actually takes away from it. The first time I had this realization was right after coming back from Japan after having lived out of a suitcase for a month. Man, did that help me see what I could and could not live without.

Because I find this extremely helpful, I found myself decluttering my apartment today. I always do a relatively deep-clean on the weekends (some deeper than others), but I have not reorganized my space since when I first arrived here. Oh, did it feel good to see my space (closets, cabinets, and all) organized and clean. It truly helped me feel like I had some breathing room. Maybe it is because of this that I was able to sit down and think about what I wanted to for this month, this period spent in Korea, and this year. It is always nice to realize some new dreams or be reminded what your dreams were.

I found this quote, the quote I am using open up my post, “People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates” (Thomas Szasz). Something about it really rang true to me and I like this idea. It reminds me that we have full control over who we become. It also inspires the artist in me to create. Whenever I create, I feel closer to God than most other times. God is the greatest Artist, and He lives in us and guides us! He created me, and gave me power to decide what I will do with the life He has given to me. However, I would not want to live a life that is not guided and orchestrated by the greatest Artist of all.

One of my goals coming to South Korea was to discover myself. I wanted to see what I like and do not like. I wanted to explore. This was one of the goals that I had to remind myself of today. Social Media is not going to help me discover anything, but rather waste all the time I could have been using to try new things or cultivate what I already know!

I am also reminded that small things often lead to big things. I should not look down on small things just because they are small. Small things are often the most important things in life, especially in relationships. I am not the best at doing these important small things, but I hope to continually become better.

I am actually very grateful for this year alone in another country (almost like a break—a crazy, busy break—from what I am used to) where I can sift through all these thoughts, feelings, emotions, and struggles and come to terms with what it is I really want to do. I am not saying that I will have all the answers after this trip (far from it). I’m just saying I will be at a better place with myself, even if I come back clueless about what the next step is in my life. Suddenly, I am not as scared of the future as I used to be.

The future used to seem so dark, mysterious, and dangerous. I was afraid of what I might become. Now I can say God will keep helping and leading and guiding me through every step of the way.

So, my (not-so-knowledgeable) advice to anyone reading this is to clear and clean your space and then sit down and dream a little. Come up with some goals. Think about your previous year, the good and the bad. I truly believe it helps make the start of a new year a little bit fresher!

P.S. the Kon Mari method really does help!

P.S.S. Here is a quick look at my Christmas break!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.

Spreading the Wings of Hope

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burdens behind us.” –Samuel Smiles

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As Christmas time approaches, an eager expectation and excitement rises within me. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the lights, the music, and the warm feelings it gives me. I love the magic of Christmas. I love that it is in celebration of what Jesus Christ has done for us—coming to such a crazy world as something as lowly as a human being to save us from ourselves. Everyone knows life isn’t easy, and throws us many curve balls we are not quite ready to handle…or at least feel like we are not ready to handle. However, Christmas reminds me that hope really does help us through so much and brightens our lives.

Although Christmas is my favorite season, I have always seen it as a time celebrated with family. This year, I find myself several miles away from my family in another country watching all my coworkers leave. A couple of weeks ago, it was really getting to me that, for the first time, I would not spend Christmas with my family. I really wanted to go home. It was even harder hearing all my coworkers make their plans (half of them going home) whereas I was still trying to figure out mine. Oh, the relief I felt when I finally was able to make plans with a friend from high school who is currently teaching English in Japan. Truly, I am so relieved and happy that I will not be spending my Christmas holiday alone.

Soon after, I was invited to a friend’s wedding, which was exciting and added to my relief. Then I found out a cousin will be in South Korea over the Christmas break, which really brightened my whole week. I would see some family after all.

Today was the start of my Christmas break. It’s amazing to think I have been here in South Korea for four months and have not seen any of my family or friends (except a few in September) since I have been here.

It still feels surreal that I am achieving a dream that I have had since I was thirteen. I’m living in another country teaching English! Does it really take this long for it to sink in? (Ha!) I have had so many adventures since coming here, and so many struggles as well. A month ago, I really started fighting to change my circumstances because things were turning sour so quickly, and I did not want to spend this year of doing what I felt God wanted me to do crying every other night and sinking into depression.

Why was I sinking in depression anyways? Hadn’t I defeated this before?

Well, for one, working at a high-stress, intense job can be really difficult especially when moving to an unfamiliar place in an unfamiliar land. However, I had mentally prepared myself for this, because I was aware of what I was stepping into. What I had not prepared myself for was getting sick so often, reacting to the water so badly that my skin feels like it is burning, or my face breaking out worse than it had ever had before. I lost so much weight, I was basically swimming in all my pants. My acne was so bad that I couldn’t look people in the eye, and constantly tried to side-step the many questions I received from students about what was on my face (or just told them it was mosquito bites—which some of it was). Oh, those mosquitoes. I feel like I have scars on my body from those darn mosquitoes. I’m so glad they died with the incoming of snow. Not looking forward to the resurrection in Spring.

There were other mental games that I was struggling with as well. I recognized the signs of falling into depression… The grey outlook on life. The hopelessness. The withdrawal from people. The constant tears. The drained feeling. The disappointment of some unrealized hopes I had coming to Korea. When it dawned on me that I was falling back in, I knew I needed to pull myself out quickly before I fell too far.

I reassessed what I was doing. I was eating poorly, sleeping poorly, managing my time poorly, allowing my life at home to slip, not doing anything that brought joy to me outside of work, and withdrawing from people around me and at home. So, I sat down, prayed for help, and made a plan. So grateful for a God who hears and a God who helps.

It was slow. I focused on food and sleep. Focused on changing my negative thoughts to positive, and focused on reaching out to people. Maybe people would not come to me, but I could go to them. Almost immediately, I started to feel a lot better. I still struggled—still am struggling (primarily with physical problems)—but things are so much better. I am continuing to alter my lifestyle in order to change how I approached my circumstances.

Sometimes I wondered if this was the wrong choice to come to Korea. However, I cannot make myself believe that. I truly believe I am supposed to be here right now. Although I hate the physical difficulties I am facing, it is not the worst thing in the world. I don’t regret any choices I’ve made in coming here (except for a few purchases I made when I first got here—Ha!). I’m reminded that just because it may be harder than I wanted, it does not mean that it was the wrong choice. Maybe this is a battle I just need to overcome with God’s help in order to go after the dreams God placed in my heart. I already feel I’ve changed so much since coming here, but I expect to change a lot more before this season of living abroad is over.

I was able to meet with a graduate from my university that is living in the same city as I am here in Korea last week. Thank God for divine appointments! She was a God-send. I left feeling so encouraged and so inspired. She reminded me, just through sharing where she was right now in life, that even though this time spent here in Korea feels temporary, it does not excuse us from spending it wastefully. We should use this time to continue to grow towards the person we want to be and the life we live after. Time does not freeze just because we are in another place.

I found myself finally dreaming again for the first time since arriving here.

I finally caved, and when to see a dermatologist in order to seek some medical help for my skin—the acne and the after-shower rashes. I just pray I continue to get closer each day to overcoming the adversities I am facing here and am able to fully enjoy the time I spend here. I really want this to be a time of growth and not a time of being stagnant. Especially in my relationship with God.

I truly adore teaching the babies here. I love finding out a little more who I am as an individual. I love living alone and experimenting with adult-ish things. Grocery shopping is getting easier. Maintaining my life at school and home is getting better. I am slowly learning how to maintain mental, physical and spiritual health. Although I am still working on how I handle stressful situations and still figuring out how to manage my time wisely, I’m allowing myself to hope again.

Christmas can be a great time to help remind us the sweetness and simple joys of life. It is actually so sweet to me to see how God is using Christmas during this season to help heal me, whereas only two years ago it had caused me to sink to the lowest I had ever been (not because of Christmas itself, but because of what it represented and how my life was not comparing—I wanted Christmas to be a happy time and it was not).

Christmas celebrates the hope Jesus brought when He came into this earth. His birth was a sign that not all was lost. Things could still change. All we have to do is continue to hope in the Lord. For, “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

I am truly so grateful for all Christ has done for me and for everyone else. May your Christmases all be filled with joy and peace.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.

Remembering How to Dream

You have to dream before your dreams can come true.—A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

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This may seem silly to say, but in order to pursue your dreams, you must have dreams to pursue. Many people do not know what their dreams are…or if you were like me, maybe you have forgotten how to dream at all. We must remember how to dream so that we can start on this adventure of living the life of your dreams. Some people may scoff or laugh at this concept of “remembering how to dream” but I know it was a reality in my life and I’m sure in many others as well.

For the longest time, I refused to allow myself to dream anything except for some simple and normal things: to graduate from college, to get married, be a mom, to serve God however He wanted me to. These things are not unimportant (some being very important and real dreams), but they are also what we were kind of taught to dream. It’s what we see people do, it’s what we hear about. I never dreamed anything outside of those and if I ever felt dreams tickle my mind or felt my heart whisper—I did not listen. I was forcing myself to forget my dreams because of fear…because of “practicality thinking” (a term I have decided to deem those thoughts as). Why would I not allow myself to dream?

One big reason was because I did not believe I could do any of those things that did try to make its way out. Like my last post, that was because of some self-hate and lack of self-confidence. Learning to love yourself will help you remember to dream again. As Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Another major reason was because I truly believed that if I voiced or acknowledged any of my dreams that God would take them away. I knew God wanted Himself to be number one in our lives and often require us to surrender ourselves, our worries, and our dreams to Him. I was silly enough to think that if I did not dream, maybe I would trick God and it would happen anyways, or that the disappointment of having an unrealized dream would be less painful if I never dreamed it.

How sorely wrong I was…

Instead I found myself hurting because I was not realizing ANY dreams and felt like I did not have any idea what to do with my life (not that dreaming would help me know which direction to go). Also, there is a verse in the Bible that says “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33). I believe a similar result will come to those who try to keep their dreams. I was being selfish and trying to keep my dreams by not dreaming at all, but instead of keeping them, I was losing them. God is not so cruel as to take away everything we dream. But He does want to make sure we are in the right place with the right heart attitude as we pursue those dreams. I believe God placed dreams in our heart and wishes to give us those dreams as long as He is put first. “Delight in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). That does not mean we seek Him because we want those desires, but rather to see this as a promise that as long as we are seeking God and following Him, He WILL give us those desires.

Other reasons for me not dreaming were from my “practicality thinking.” I often would think things like, “Well, if I do this then I can’t do that” or “No one would like this or care about this” or “My parents won’t let me do this” or “People will laugh at me if I do this.” These are what I call “practicality thinking.” They are fears that may or may not be irrational; fears we believe, fears we succumb to, fears we use as excuses, fears we let drive our lives. This fear will be with us wherever we go, no matter how much we have grown or changed. They will never leave us.

“Practicality thinking” keeps us safe, tries to protect us, and is not entirely evil. However, while it may not be all bad, it is not all good either. Some fears are irrational. Most fears will not end your life. And all will keep you inside your box of comfort never allowing you to leave unless you go against the voice telling you “Stooop!” Yes, this voice may be right sometimes. Yes, maybe those fears might become a reality. But this voice will also prevent you from chasing your dreams and keep you from growing.  I will go more into this fear in my next post.

Returning to this idea of remembering how to dream, we must not allow any of these fears, doubts, or struggles to prevent us from dreaming.

A year ago, I remembered how to dream. It was awkward (and still is occasionally), but it has brought me back to life and placed more hope in me than I had had in a long time. How did I remember how to dream?

First, I had to realize that I was loved and learn to love myself (if you struggle with this refer to my last post, “You Are Capable”). After that, I had to realize it was okay to dream those dreams that scare you. Remember “if you can dream it, you can do it”? Well, do not doubt in your capabilities. It may take some time to gain confidence in your ability to achieve your dreams, but you must disregard the fear of failure and allow yourself to dream. It will feel uncomfortable and it may feel like there is a war going on inside you, but you must push those aside and allow yourself to dream about what could be. What are some desires, interests, wishes you have that maybe you never thought you could do or have? Write them down, no matter how crazy they can be. If the voice of your “practicality thinking” is too loud, you can write down those thoughts and fears leaving blank space between each of them and then go back to fill in the blank space with why you are afraid of this, what is the worst that can happen if the fear came true, and how you can overcome it if it did happen. Finally, write a positive affirmation/statement contradicting the original fear you wrote down describing why you CAN do it. This is an exercise I took from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Artist of Life 2018 Workbook by Aileen Xu of Lavendaire.

Unhinge yourself from those thoughts, fears, and lies so that you can truly be free to dream those crazy, bizarre, ridiculous dreams. Write down even the small dreams up to the very big ones. Just go crazy. Remember that you are relearning how to dream, so you must not throw away even the silly desires that pop up. Don’t judge. Just write down any dreams that come to you. If you still are struggling with where to start, here are some prompts to think about to help you get started:
Where would you like your health to be?

What are some small interests and hobbies you wish you could do?

What are somethings you want to learn?

What kind of home, clothes, and life do you want to have?

Where would you like to live?

How do you want to feel about yourself?

What do you want to do?

Just write down anything that comes to mind while thinking about these questions. Do not be critical. Do not be negative. Do not allow your “practicality thinking” and fears to plug up your ability to dream wildly and freely.

After you have written them all down, either mark with a star or make a separate list of the most important dreams—the ones that mean the most to you or you want the most—and then make a daily or monthly plan on how you will achieve your dream. I did this same exercise a year ago. Seriously. I wrote down all those crazy dreams even though I thought it was silly. I knew I needed to relearn how to dream. Then I selected the dreams that were most important to me or wanted the most. I wrote down steps to achieving those dreams in very small simple steps. I looked at the first step, the easiest step, and then I started working towards those dreams a little every day. Of course, I was not perfect. I missed days, weeks, and months out of laziness and procrastination, but instead of beating myself up I just told myself to try again and take the next step.

I will use an example of one of my dreams:

Dream: Live in Asia

How: Teaching English

I had absolutely NO idea how to do this and it seemed so impossible at the time, but I remembered I had to start somewhere. So as step one, I looked up requirements and ‘how to’s on Google. Yeah. I looked up “How to move to Asia” on Google and I found some helpful tips. I looked on my university’s job portal for any English teaching jobs in Asia and saved them. I looked at requirements. I looked at any job offerings that interested me. I talked to a friend who had just come back from teaching South Korea about her experience. I found a recruiting company that recruits English teachers in South Korea, I read reviews on them, looked at their job postings, their steps, their applications, and saved it for another day. Then I began collecting a few small items I would need to apply to the recruiting company, knowing that having a recruiter to help me along the way would make it more likely that I would go.

A few months went by where I thought, debated, prayed, and wrestled with whether or not I would apply. February this year, I decided to just take the first step and apply because I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t. So, I applied. I was interviewed two days later and was accepted. Several panicked, stressful, terrifying steps later (and after a lot of checking and researching that this was not a scam), I find myself here in the final steps of attaining my visa and planning to leave August 19th.

I have used this as an example many times because a year ago this was on the list of dreams that I said “Psh…This will never happen. I’m too scared to do it, I do not even know where to start, I probably won’t do this.” I’d like to tell myself a year ago, “Kaitlyn, you CAN do it. Just don’t give up!” I won’t say it was a breezy, happy, non-stressful experience to get me to where I am now, but I do not regret this. It’s forcing me out of my comfort zone towards something I always wished I was brave enough to do.

AND…it all started with writing down all those bizarre, crazy dreams.

So, I’m here to tell you to dream big dreams! Allow yourself to dream. Allow yourself to believe in yourself. Allow yourself to love yourself. Allow yourself to push aside those fears and “practicality thinking” so that you can dream those wild dreams.

It’s time we remember how to dream. Dream—so that you can have dreams to pursue.

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.