I am considering Korea as a possible destination for teaching ESL. The main reason I've thought about travelling there are the many invitations I've received from Korean women to visit their country. The girls I've known were so eager to share their culture with me. It was their warmth and compassion that instantly made me add Korea to my list of places to go.
My entire life I've yearned to explore and travel the world. I wanted to do more than travel the world in fact, I wanted to leave it entirely! I desperately dreamed of being an astronaut.
For the past several months (more accurately, for the past several years) I've been seriously considering my options for world travel. Presently I don't have the money to pay for some sort of lavish vacation so I thought to myself there must be some other way. Then it hit me. Maybe I could do what others have done and teach English overseas.
Such a wild thought! I mean, to think of travelling abroad to an unknown country in order to teach English to people who speak a foreign language. It would be nerve wracking to say the least! However it would also be an adventure.
An adventure. I have always imagined going on an adventure. To travel to some sort of distant land and meet strange, new people. To eat unusual food and see fantastic things. It's everything I've dreamed of. Not to mention all the experiences I could gather and use in my writing.
Before my break-up, I never thought it was a legitimate option. Now it doesn't matter. I can be free to do what I like! I really was trapped. Given the option of freedom, I want to fly away to another country and live there instead!
So I registered for a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Certification course and it starts in June. I'm very excited. It takes about a month or so to finish and then I can start looking for work! I still haven't decided where I'd like to go yet. Here's a list of some of the countries I'm considering:
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
If I really had to narrow it down, I'd have to say that I'm probably leaning more towards Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. I think the sort of cultures present in those countries might be something I can enjoy. Especially France. Okay, maybe I partially have my mind made up. I just need to do more research.
I would have said Japan was my number one choice however I am all too aware of Japanese culture. It is quite patriarchal, racist and sexist. Not really something I like. I prefer people to be equal. Although I do speak some amount of Japanese. My Japanese is probably just as good as my French. Very basic.
Anyway, I will keep you updated. Especially in June! I can't wait to start!
I mentioned on a previous post (Life and Death) that I would discuss the meaning of life as I saw it. Many people have attempted theories before me including Monty Python. I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring and let you in on my theory.
If this topic makes you uncomfortable then I suggest stopping right here. Although seriously, I imagine other things probably make you uncomfortable too if that's the case. Regardless of your sensibilities, I am continuing. If I were you I'd read anyway just to satisfy my curiosity. After all, you don't have to believe anything I say. It's just my own theory.
The simplest I can describe my beliefs regarding life is fate. I believe in destiny. I suppose that sounds rather corny, doesn't it? I've thought long and hard about this and I've come to a conclusion I feel satisfied with.
I'm sure at some point in your life you've been in a situation that appears completely random. Perhaps unpredictable. You're so certain that something so bizarre could not happen that in fact it did.
Anyone could sit back and look at life as a series of random events. Perhaps indeed they are. It is my opinion however that there are no accidents. That's right, no accidents and no coincidences. To me, everything happens for a reason.
What does this have to do with the meaning of life? If there are no accidents then life is indeed fateful. It means we're all destined to a particular set of experiences. If that's the case then perhaps the meaning of life is intrinsically tied to fate.
I believe that as interconnected beings of energy we are on a collective journey. What sort of journey? A journey of spiritual growth. Our experiences help shape and define who we are as individuals but more importantly these experiences assist our "soul" growth as well. In much broader, more accurate terms, these experiences not only affect the individual but the collective (the ball of energy I described before). While assuming these physical bodies,
each sensation, each emotion, every hardship or thought is funneled into the collective consciousness. The collective consciousness has been described in multiple ways by many people. I believe that due to the interconnectedness of nature that everything we know, think and feel is gathered together. We are constantly tapped into this consciousness whether we realize it or not. It breathes inspiration and ideas into our minds. This consciousness is crucial in helping us grow by sharing our experiences and serves to remind us that we're not alone.
Destiny provides us with the necessary catalysts to grow in new ways. In the grand scheme of things, the physical body only provides the required vehicle for experiencing fateful events. It is through the limits of these bodies that we come to understand the nature of the universe and ourselves.
To sum up, we are interconnected beings of energy placed in limited physical bodies in order to experience destined events that help us progress together as a "ball of energy".
Sounds silly, doesn't it? Maybe it is. Maybe it's absurd. It doesn't really matter, after all these are just the musings of one person (more correctly, the collective consciousness). So thanks to everyone who helped me form this theory.
I remember the first time I heard the word, "Liger". I was watching Napoleon Dynamite when he mentioned his favourite animal was a Liger, half lion and half tiger. I laughed and thought, "As if! Of course that's a made-up animal". Well guess what, I was wrong. I can't believe I'm saying this but Ligers are real. I know this seems absurd but hold on to your butts.
Liger, Liger, Liger
Ligers are the hybrid product of a male lion and a female tiger breeding. This wouldn't normally happen in the wild however it can happen in captivity.
Interestingly, Ligers are the largest cat in the world. Their size may be due to genes present in the female tiger that aren't normally expressed with a tiger mate. These cats can grow over 900 pounds! That's a giant cat!
Conversely there is a cat called a Tiglon, the product of a male tiger and female lion. However that combination is rare and unfortunately sterile.
For most people female and feminine are synonymous, just like male and masculine. However there is a distinct difference. Sex and gender are not the same thing.
Sex refers to the genitalia of a person making them male, female or inter-sex (discussed later). Gender is completely different yet it is continually used as though it meant the same thing. Many words are used incorrectly. People often say cement when they mean concrete. Cement is an ingredient in concrete while concrete is the finished product. Similarly, weight is inappropriately used on health forms when they actually mean mass.
Gender is not sex. Gender is a social construction. This means that gender is something simply made-up to describe an archaic belief known as biological predetermination.
Biological predetermination is the belief that women are inherently feminine and men are inherently masculine. This goes hand in hand with the idea that men like women and vice versa. It is widely accepted despite its fallacies. Most people think that women are naturally nurturing, compassionate and giving, making them excellent mothers. Just like they also believe men are naturally brave, aggressive and lascivious, making them excellent in business. Oddly enough, this set of beliefs is common and unquestioned. However it is false. I'm sure that in your own life you have met women who are "masculine" and men who are "feminine". If such qualities were natural then why doesn't everyone fit in? The simple answer, they're not natural. Believing in biological predetermination would also mean subscribing to the belief that homosexuality is a disease. It's not. Some guys like guys, some girls like girls and some people like both. This is naturally occurring and doesn't fit in with this little "theory".
Life is too diverse to fit into neat little categories. That is the truth of the matter. Not every man will identify with being masculine just like not every woman thinks she's feminine. Yet we live in a society that likes labels. So we've found terms to describe things in relation to what we assume to be fact. Transgender is a term people use to describe themselves when they identify with the gender that's not typically associated with their sex. For example, a man might behave and dress like a woman and choose to call himself "transgendered" but that doesn't mean he's homosexual. Sexual identity and gender identity are not always synonymous. Transsexual describes an individual that identifies with the other sex and may or may not have an operation to make the transition. Sexual and gender identities are flexible.
As noted earlier, I mentioned something referred to as "inter-sex". The world is not a clean dualism. Things are not simply black and white, male or female, masucline or feminine. Nature is more complex than that. Inter-sex is the third sex. Someone may be born male, female or inter-sex.
Inter-sex is when you cannot distinguish the genitalia or chromosomes to be either male or female. This is not the same as hermaphrodite. It seems unlikely but it does happen in one baby in every 2000. In nations like Canada when a baby is born inter-sex, public healthcare will pay for the procedure to "correct" the baby's genitalia. This means that the doctor and sometimes the parents will make the decision to either have a boy or a girl. This sort of decision will impact that child's life forever and I fear it is made too cavalierly. Often the child will grow up identifying with a sex not their own and have corrective surgery. Why can't the baby grow up as they are? It is too much to ask for people to accept a third sex?
I hope that someday the world will be open to the unique differences and similarities that make us human.
*For Canadian residents, if you're interested in a documentary about inter-sex I recommend watching InterSEXion by CBC.
Hello readers, today I'm going to discuss my own perspective of life and death. If you are sensitive about these topics, please feel free to stop reading right here. My blog is a place where I can express my opinions but I certainly don't expect you to share them. You are entitled to your beliefs and it is not my intention to tread on your dreams. However if you are curious, please read on. I realize these topics are complex but I'm hoping to provide the simplest answer I can.
Over the course of my lifetime I have been plagued with the thoughts and unanswerable questions of generations before me. What is life? What is death? (What is the meaning of life? I will attempt to answer that in a later blog post.) Before I could answer these questions I spent all my life asking questions of my own. In university I chose all of my courses to learn the most I could about people, be it individuals, groups, cultures or beliefs. With much thought and consideration, I have finally come to the answers that satisfy me.
For the answers to life and death, I personally found that a mixture of ideas and intuition was best for me. Everyone will come to their own conclusions and this just happens to be mine. After studying tribal cultures such as North American First Nations, Australian Aboriginals and African tribes like the nomadic Kalahari, I discovered something very similar between them. They all believe that life is cyclical. I don't think this is by mere coincidence. Somehow, very different people across the world all came to the conclusion that life is not linear but it is cyclical. I've combined this belief with pieces of Buddhism, neo-Paganism and a dash of mysticism.
It is a common Buddhist belief that what brings us misery is desire and ego. In order to separate ourselves from misery, we must abandon our desire to want things and at the same let go of our ego. Doing both of these things will only leave room for happiness. When I think about things that make people miserable, ego and desire are often the reason. Things such as "wants" are unnecessary and inevitably create more want. We are never satisfied with just one thing, there is always something ready to take its place. For example, "I want a flat screen television" turns into "I want a bigger flat screen television". It's like a never-ending goose chase. We are never satisfied. Perhaps the real reason is that none of these things truly satiate the appetite for happiness. They are mere distractions. They may entertain us but they will never fill that hole. (In a previous post I discussed The Key to Happiness and the hole borne in each person's heart.)
Then there is neo-Paganism. If you aren't familiar with the term, let me help acquaint you. In my own words, neo-Paganism is a collection of sub-cultures that derive their practices, ideals and beliefs from the history of Paganism. People who are a part of neo-Paganism would simply call themselves "Pagans" since they do not separate themselves from the cultures before them. To sum up, neo-Pagan cultures include many diverse groups such as witches and druids but they all tend to share similar beliefs, that is respect for people, the Earth and the belief in Karma. More importantly, neo-Pagans believe we are all connected. The environment, the animals and of course each other. We are all united and share the same energy and in turn to harm the Earth or another living being is to harm ourselves. To love each other is to love ourselves.
I have described pieces of beliefs that I have come to accept for myself from tribal cultures, Buddhism and neo-Paganism. The last part is mysticism. Again, in my own words, Mysticism is the idea that we privately seek our own answers using our intuition to reach conclusions. Perhaps this means meditating or praying in private or maybe communicating with nature, whatever it is, is up to you. In my own thoughts and times of meditation, I have come to accept certain ideas.
Life is cyclical. We are born, we live and we die but only to be re-born again. I am a true believer in reincarnation. Just like the Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy can neither be created or destroyed, I believe that we are beings of energy and therefore cannot be created or destroyed. Our bodies are mechanical but the "energy" that makes us tick exists almost separately. We are all connected and to me that describes life as a ball of energy. When we are born, energy is borrowed to make us breathe and when our bodies fail us, the energy is returned. Perhaps it is easiest to compare to people's notions of a soul. The difference for me is that the soul is described as individual, as though it has a personality of its own. I'm not sure that's true. I am more inclined to believe that due to life's connected nature, the energy is without personality. For me this means, there is no judgement and therefore no heaven or hell.
I realize it may seem like a lot to take in and perhaps it's somehow offensive to you but that would be silly. I am not here to persuade you to think like me. In fact just the opposite, I'm hoping to inspire you to search out your own answers. I am here to say that I have come to this conclusion after much deliberation and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to reach their own conclusions. If something I've said rings true with something deep inside of you, please follow up and do the research. Learning is always a good thing. If you want to ask me questions, just use the contact form and I will get back to you. In the meantime let's try to spread love, not hate; peace, not war.
We got really lucky on our third day in BC since the weather was perfect. It was sunny, warm and with just a little bit of wind, great for hiking. I wanted to make sure we got out of the room and explored the beautiful nature surrounding us. It's not everyday I have the opportunity to experience such wonderful weather in October or enjoy the majesty of the Okanagan Lake.
We started the hike around 2:30 in the afternoon and finished around 5, we had pretty much just lounged around until then. I mean, why not? So after spending a lot of time in the room it was nice to get out into the sunshine. One of the most noticeable things about being in the mountains is the air. The air smells clear and fresh. Somehow better than city air. Maybe it's all the trees. There are so many trees. Either way, I love trees. They are a thing of beauty.
Part of one trail lead to a little place called, "The Point". I thought it was funny seeing it on the map. Then when we arrived I understood the name. It was apt; it's a private little beach in the shape of an arrow, it's literally a "point". I really enjoyed the privacy, especially since it made it even more serene and romantic. My partner and I were able to enjoy the simple beauty of this little beach together.
One of the best parts of the entire hike was seeing some wildlife. We were climbing up this steep part of the trail when I saw movement just ahead. Then I watched several birds socializing and busying themselves. One large bird started to make what looked like a nest in the dirt. There were many little puffy birds which I assumed to be infants since they were adorable. Right away as if by instinct I knew they were Quail. I've never seen Quail before but somehow I knew. I looked it up when I got back and found out I was right! They are Quail!
On another stretch of trail leading to the shore I happened to spot some Ducks just swimming around in the water. I felt very fortunate to see some wildlife. Most animals scare easily when approached by humans making it difficult to spot them but I got lucky. I'm just glad I didn't run into any of the animals mentioned on the trail like rattlesnakes or skunks.
I really enjoyed hiking. It was fun exploring the trails and finding interesting trees or animals to look at. The best part was that no one else was hiking. It's the off season for tourism in the Okanagan so it felt like we had the entire forest to ourselves. I took so many photos. I'm glad I can share some of them.
In tomorrow's blog post I will be talking about the wine tour we went on!
After our long day of travel our next day was a simple jot into Kelowna. We wanted to check it out and buy a few supplies like groceries for the week and a HDMI adapter for our iPods. Which, by the way, is a brilliant little cord connecting a monitor or television to the iPod, so you can view any videos you may have. Quite a handy little thing to have.
The drive was rather peaceful. I live in a city that's around 1 000 000 people while Kelowna is only a bit over 100 000 people. It's completely different. Everything is a bit more relaxed, a little more calm and serene. In this photo on the left there is the stadium named Prospera Place. It's home to the local hockey team the Rockets. It's also going to be the venue for a Metric concert! I'll be seeing Metric when they come to Edmonton.
The best part of getting away besides the change in scenery was the weather. The weather was quite beautiful. On this particular day I actually wore a dress, that's how nice it was. It was wonderfully sunny and warm. A nice surprise considering it's already October. Meanwhile back home it snowed. That's what really makes a vacation, knowing you're getting better weather than where you live.
The day after our drive into Kelowna was a very relaxing one. We decided to relax and just stay in. It was something we can't really do at home, take a day off and just watch movies together. It was really nice not to stress or worry about anything. The best part was the view from our balcony. We watched the sunset together, enjoying the sounds of the lake lapping up on the shore while a few birds chirped happily.
The only stress we had that day was actually changing rooms. Initially they gave us a room right next to the stairs and with no private balcony since it shared the public patio. It was a terrible room. So we asked to change rooms and they moved us up and over. It was wonderful to have our own private balcony. It was a vast improvement and really affected the rest of our stay. As you can see, it was truly worth it to have a view like that.
I'm finally back! After a week vacation and a few days in between, I'm finally back to blogging. It's been an adventure! My partner and I took a trip to Kelowna, British Columbia (BC)! We drove the whole way there. It's about 900 km or in case you don't use the (far superior) metric system, it's about 560 miles. It's quite a long way. Google Maps thought it would take about 11 hours but let's just say we made it in record time. The first photo you see on the right is a picture of the major highway between Edmonton and Calgary. It's named the QE2 (Queen Elizabeth II Highway), it used to be just the #2 before the Queen visited. . .
One of the most beautiful features about Calgary is its proximity to the mountains. You can look off into the distance and see them standing majestically. It's quite the sight. Although they may look far away, they're actually very close. It doesn't take very long before you're driving in between them and enjoying their spectacular heights up close.
As soon as we entered the mountains we encountered dense fog and thick rain. This is fairly common since the weather in the mountains is rather fickle and no matter what time of year you're bound to see some rain but this was the most rain I've ever seen. It pretty much rained the entire time. It was fairly dangerous under those conditions since you tend to encounter thick herds of traffic on narrow twisty roads. Yet it was exciting and unexpected, it's been awhile since we've taken a road trip.
Throughout the mountains there are warning signs of falling rocks. A cost effective method of preventing the rocks from hitting the road seems to be these hanging chains. They're fairly common. Every time I've been in the mountains I try to think of what they might be named. There must be a name for them, there's a name for everything. While I was calling them hanging chains my partner came up with the name, "geological lateral restraining harnesses". I laughed so hard! That's what I get for asking a civil engineer.
A memorable aspect of the journey are the tunnels. Located in Rogers Pass between Golden and Revelstoke, there are 6 tunnels. Ever since I was a child traveling through BC I would look forward to going through the tunnels. I'm not sure why but I've always enjoyed them. This still hasn't changed now that I'm older. I guess I always imagined them as portals to an unknown and mysterious land. Thank you, imagination.
As we finally neared the resort the weather transformed into beautiful clear skies with the fading light of dusk. I love taking photos. I find that true beauty can always be found in the wonders of nature.
The road leading to the resort was definitely one of the more frightening roads I've been on. It's all sharp corners and no passing lanes right next to a sheer drop.
At last, our room. Well, this is the part of the room where we spent the most time so it seemed like the most important photo to share. Whether it was watching a movie together or eating our daily breakfast of eggs, bacon and english muffins with salmon cream cheese. Mmm!
For the rest of the week I will be blogging about my stay in BC. Readers I say to you, come for the photos and stay for the story.
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