Don’t Get Caught up in Social Media and Lose Yourself

How many times do you watch a Youtuber share an item and find yourself searching somewhere online for it? I have even gone into a store looking for said item.

I have gone down many a rabbit hole and wasted money because someone or a number of people spoke glowingly about a product. To be fair I have also had good recommendations.

They key is to know what is useful and to ignore the rest. This isn’t easy because many of us humans are visual people. Yep, this can affect us without us really even being aware of it.

I mean we may become uncomfortable with our bodies, our wardrobes, our jobs and so on and so forth. I think this is a major issue for young teens, who are trying to find their identity. It also affects us adults because we all want to present our best selves out in the world.

We must remember to guard ourselves and not lose who we are amidst the trends and influencers on the different social media platform. Unhappiness with who we are and what we look like among other things, can creep up on us and overwhelm us.

This is also true for those of us who create content through blogs, videos, photos etc. It is easy to get caught up in doing what other successful creators in our niche do, just to chase success. Remember why you started and keep reminding yourself.

Would I like to make money from blogging? Of course!

Is this the only reason I blog? Of course not!

Will I learn from others to showcase my pieces better? Probably

Success for me with this blog means posting regularly and editing posts. It’s true, that’s enough for now and probably for a very long time. This is freedom for me because I have a job that offers me a salary that covers my needs, wants and whims. Moreover, I love said job and serving my students.

When I look at my blog stats and see only a few people read my blog and fewer comment, I sometimes catch myself getting anxious for more. I then mentally smack myself into remembering my goal (see above).

Social media is great. The different platforms offer so much to both creators and viewers. I like that we have so much to choose from and that so much knowledge is being shared.

We would do well to remember to carefully monitor and manage what we take in and reflect on how it affects us negatively. It’s important not to lose ourselves through what we consume and over consume on social media platforms. Remember most people only show a perfect snapshot of themselves to craft that narrative for viewers. Proceed cautiously.

Meal Prepping Weekly as an act of Self-care

Who looks forward to coming home after a long day of work, to stand over pots cooking dinner? Certainly not me.

Since, I am all about spending responsibly and living debt free, I do not eat out on a whim most times. To take care of the basic need I have to full my belly after a long day of work, I meal prep. It is so satisfying coming home, knowing that there is a complete meal in the fridge. I actually, want to eat what is there 9 times out of 10 and don’t get tempted to buy something on the go. This is good for my savings and health in the long run.

Meal prepping is an act of self-care in my book. I can warm my meal quickly, eat and unwind for longer. I am able to eliminate cooking a meal after work which may be time consuming and just plain tiring. As a teacher, I am on my feet a lot, so I don’t want to be on my feet cooking dinner after work too.

Meal prepping takes some reflection though. I try to have two options and vary them from week to week, so I don’t get tired of eating the same thing. For example, this week I am having oxtail and vegetables as one option and lentil stew with quinoa as another option.

I do my prep on the weekend and portion out the servings in individual containers. I also give myself one evening to buy something on the go. There are many great options for meals here in Japan, around the train station where I live. I can get sushi, fish and rice, Chinese and a bunch of other options. I budget for this because I believe in having freedom in my budget.

As an act of self-care, I meal prep on the weekend when I am off from work. This is because I have more time to chop, marinate, steam, stew, boil and do whatever is required to make what I feel like having. A key step in this process is deciding what I will make and getting the necessary ingredients. I live alone so this isn’t very demanding. I dedicate 2-3 hours meal prepping so that I can have my evenings off.

I am able to sit and browse YouTube for longer, read a book, blog or do whatever else I want to do, that relaxes me. It’s now a apart of my routine, since I have been doing this for years. There is no going back for me. My evenings are far less rushed thanks to meal prepping on the weekend.

Being Grateful is a big part of Self-care

How often do we stop and count our blessings? Do we stop and say thank you to God for another day? Being grateful is a part of self-care.

Expressing gratitude for all things great and small in our lives help us to be content and mentally well. Discontent comes many times when we focus for too long, on what we don’t have. The things we yearn for but can’t see how to get them. Also looking too long at the lives of others and wanting what they have blinds you to your blessings. This is a joy stealer.

I often talk to myself at these times and remember the things I have that I am grateful for: relatively good health, family, friends, a job, joy, a place to sleep, life and so on. It is easy to get lost in the illusion of perfection we see in others especially on social media.

This world and its wants, make us feel as if we never have enough or that if we do not have certain things by a certain age we are less than. I am making myself learn to take my eyes off the world and fix them on what God’s words say about me. I focus on life-giving words to remind myself that I am not a puppet, to be tossed about by every flight of fancy that the world throws my way. I practice being grateful for the small things and big things as well as everything in between. I also actively pursue peace and contentment in my life. This is self-care in action.

I am grateful for something as simple as taking a shower and stretching out on my bed every night. After a tiring day, that is just wonderful!

A good way to practice gratitude is to jot down a few things each day that you are thankful for. This has a way of shifting the focus from what we lack to being content with what we do have.

Cultivate a grateful day, one day at a time and help your mind to be at ease.

Travels in Africa: Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe

I am on the African continent for the first time to soak up Victoria Falls – The Smoke that Thunders (literally and figuratively). After much planning, researching, budgeting and saving, I am here! Pinch me! I can’t believe it! It is not cheap, because flying from Tokyo here via Johannesburg costs a pretty penny. It’s well worth it though. Here is the fruit of of my mid range saving and discipline.

Mist is swirling all around me as I bask in the wonderfulness of life in nature.

This is the first of many trips to the African continent that will follow. I know it in my inner being.

I enjoy a leisurely but wet walk across the bridge on the Zambian side of the Falls. Though I am wearing the raincoat the people there gave me a few minutes ago, I can feel water seeping into some parts of my clothes. I don’t mind though because, I am here enjoying Victoria Falls in all its fullness.

After walking down and down and dodging cheeky monkeys, I take in the swirling river below and chat to the young natives a bit.

I am giddy with joy though the trek to get down to the river below the falls is a trying one. Thankfully, I have no food to entice the monkeys milling about, who are very obnoxious, though cute. I am here, as you see in the picture, chatting with some natives about all kinds of things. This is one of the awesome things of travelling – connecting with the natives. After that, I huff and puff my way back up to the top. It is quite steep and the path isn’t very clear. I am so happy I wore sneakers – YAY! mE!

I finally get to the top and make my way across to the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls. Jamaicans have visa free access to both Zambia and Zimbabwe, so I did not need to pay a dime. Reciprocity is a beautiful thing. I even stop to chat with the officers at the Zimbabwean side and one sweet mouth one try to proposition me. I laugh and keep it moving.

I enjoy the view of the Falls from the bridge on the road that separates both countries. I get there and a guy introduces himself. He says he is a guide and wants to show me this aspect of his country free of charge. I wait for the other shoe to drop because if he doesn’t want money surely he wants something else!

He takes me to different sides to see the Falls in all its splendour. The Zimbabwean side offers far more than the Zambian side. It’s in my face literally and splashes me liberally when I view it from some sides. This guy shows me the ins and outs of the area. I am so grateful. At the end of doing this for a good two hours, we walk into the town of Victoria Falls. He shows me a supermarket then bids me farewell. Alas! He only wanted to show me this beautiful site as he said. Consider my mind blown. I remember the beauty of kindness in us humans. I am humbled and amazed.

I do my shopping and start walking back to the Zambian side where my hostel is. I am accosted by a policeman who cautions me that this is not safe since it was nightfall. He escorts me all the way back, all the while sweet talking me. It’s flattering. I enjoy it, say thanks and go where I am going. I had a nice day and my experience at Victoria Falls is complete and perfect.

It Takes Money to Save Money

It takes earning a certain amount of money to be able to save money. We can budget from now until the cows come home, but if we earn just enough to meet our basic needs or less, saving is terribly hard.

I know, I have been there. When I just started working and had to pay student loans and live, the ends had a hard time meeting. I was able to get some side hustles but not everyone can do the same.

There maybe a time in your life where you just need to fight it through and keep applying for a job that pays more. Don’t settle or give up.

Since it takes earning more than you need, to save, this may not be a priority when you are struggling to make ends meet. I don’t know who needs to hear this. Don’t give up, don’t stop dreaming and keep seeking out better opportunities and stay knocking on doors. Also surround yourself with others who understand and encourage you.

These are my few cents on this.

Thinking of Moving Abroad to Teach?

Take the plunge, try it and see how you feel about it. It is a great way to immerse yourself in a new culture, learn more about yourself and grow.

There are many countries that facilitate this and pay a living wage: Japan, Korea, China, Spain,Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the list goes on. Every year people from many countries move abroad to teach different subjects in different schools. Some are trained teachers and others have degrees in other areas that allow them to get a working visa to teach ESL.

Where do you start?

If you are a trained teacher with experience in your native country, then going to the different websites for schools and contacting people there may be a good start. Linkedin is also a good place to build contacts over time. Also check Facebook for different groups and join in to share ideas and make connections. Google blogs of teachers who teach internationally and reach out to them for tips and advice. This process should begin a year or two or more before you make your move.

If you have a degree in any area and want to try being an ESL teacher look into the JET Programme in Japan for starters. It’s often a good place to start here in Japan. This is how I came to Japan many moons ago. Since it’s competitive you may want to look at other sites like Gaijinpot.com and Ohayosensei.com among others to see if you can land a position here. You may need to fly here for an interview in some cases. Korea, China and Vietnam also seem to be popular with ESL teachers. Information can be easily found on YouTube from the many people who document their experiences. If you are from countries outside of America, England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it may be harder to get a job but not impossible. Here in Japan, I know people of various nationalities who teach ESL. It doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a piece of cake to get a position though.

If money isn’t a factor, I know there are many positions for ESL teachers in South America, though salaries may not be an issue.

Spend at least a year researching, planning and budgeting.

Preparing to Move Abroad to Teach?

Moving abroad to teach may require that you have a pool of funds saved up. For teachers going to international schools this may not be a factor since most packages cover moving and settling costs. This is often not the case for many ESL positions.

I know people who come to Japan on the JET Programme have their flights paid for. Many of them need to have money to pay deposits for apartments and money for 1-2 months until they get their first salary. This can demand anywhere from USD 3,000 and more. If one needs to pay for his or her flight as well, then this will drive up the amount that needs to be saved up.

Bear in mind that apartments may come naked, so you need to buy all the necessary appliances, furniture, utensils and the like. While planning to move abroad to teach, remember to save and have more than you need. This provides a sense of security in a new environment.

Think about doing an TESL course to get some ideas for teaching if you have never taught before. There are many online that are worth investing in. The thing is you don’t know what you will be expected to do once you get to your place of work. Sometimes there might be a full curriculum with activities you can tailor to fit your style and your students. There are some cases where you are expected to plan everything from scratch or something in the between these two. Plan and prepare.

Do you need a particular wardrobe for work? Do they have your size widely available in the country where you are going? Will you be in a big city with many stores or in the countryside with little access to these?

Again, based on my experience here in Japan, I know teachers are required to dressed semi-formally in summer and a bit more formally in winter. This is something to research and plan for. In many places in Asia it is hard to get bigger sizes in shoes and clothes so one needs to prepare accordingly. Focus on things like these in the year or two leading up to taking the plunge to teach abroad.

Read about the culture and see other people’s experience via YouTube about the country you are thinking of. Take what people say with grains of salt. Resolve to have your own experiences regardless of what others say.

Do you have special dietary needs or medical needs? Investigate if these will be accommodated. A few years ago vegans had a hard time eating out here but things are changing.

Prepare mentally for this different environment. You will go from being a first class citizen in your country, in many cases, to being a second class citizen abroad. Really think about this and whether you can handle it or not. There are many people who spend their time comparing their country to the one they are living in and making themselves miserable.

Take the Plunge when the Time is Right.

Only you know when it is time. Age shouldn’t be something that holds you back. If you want to take a break from your career and teach abroad try it. Be open and flexible is all I say. If it has been going around in your mind, I say go for it and make of it what you will.

Go with a country that you can find much information about from others who are doing what you want to do. Reach out to them and get advice as you prepare.

All the best on your journey. It’s truly worth being outside of your country learning more about yourself, contributing to the global world and living your life.

Travels in Japan: Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a must visit place in Japan. Nagasaki should be the same.https://thisgracedlife.com/2019/06/27/travels-in-japan-nagasaki/

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum showcases the horrors that people experienced after the bombing. Steel yourself for the graphic images. It’s only 200 yen and it has been recently updated to accommodate more people. The entire park is worth spending some time viewing and reflecting on the events that took place there less than 100 years ago. Get to the museum early because when there are many people they may stop admitting people way before closing time. You may have to wait and it maybe a bit crowded.

Visit the Hiroshima Castle to get a taste of that aspect of the culture. It’s 370 yen to enter and it’s worth exploring. The grounds are really beautiful as well. It’s a nice place to sit and enjoy nature for a while especially in spring and fall.

Many people rush through Hiroshima in a day or two but there are many wonders to discover by walking its streets. Okonomiyaki is a staple of Hiroshima and worth trying. Also ride the trams from place to place and see more of the surrounding areas. Payment on the tram can be tricky so watch others or ask the conductor.

Of course no visit to Hiroshima is complete without a stop at Miyajima.

Everybody who visits Hiroshima has a shot like this LOL!

A short ferry ride from Hiroshima is where you will find Miyajima. It’s known for the tori in the picture above and the deer you will encounter there. Spend a day exploring the island on foot and ride up the ropeway to see a view of the city, on a clear day.

Whenever I visit – I have been 3 times- I enjoy trying out the different seafood on offer by different vendors. It’s definitely a place to walk and eat again and again. Go in the back streets, enjoy the different architecture, see how people live and soak up the moment.

Visiting Miyajima after the Hiroshima Peace Park reminds you of how people are living and thriving despite the horrors of the past. You can enjoy nature in many different forms and see another side of Japan that you may not see on the beaten track.

We stayed at a nice airbnb that is centrally located the last time I visited. The other times I stayed in hotels. Shop around and get the best deals. Book months ahead because Hiroshima is always popular. Every visitor wants to visit and many Japanese students go there on school trips at different times of the year.

Things cost generally the same as other places in Japan so plan accordingly