Filling my cup…..

Most of my friends and family know that one of my reasons for leaving Ontario and coming to China was to find a better work/life integration and to work on my personal wellness. I was feeling burnt out and I did not want to get to a point that I was unhealthy, unhappy and negative so I opted for a change. I bet many of you are asking why the hell did you have to go to China for that. Well, I tried to make a change but kept running into roadblocks that prevented me from moving in the direction that I wanted to go so I decided that I would literally go in a different direction and began to pursue a job in international education. So has my personal wellness changed since coming to China? The answer is yes and here is why…

1. I learn something new every week. I have decided to set goals for myself to accomplish something each week. Last week I decided I wanted to ride the rental bikes Ofo and also to travel on the subway. This week it was join pilates outside school and ride the bus. Each week I try to find a new experience or adventure to try. Some are in an effort to make me more independent and some are just to learn or have fun. The goals are small and achievable but they leave me feeling like I have accomplished something for myself.

2. I am more active. I do not have a car or scooter and my Chinese is extremely limited so taxis are still out of the question so I walk. I walk to the market, to the mall, to see my Chinese doctor to go for dinner. I walk everywhere. I have also been doing yoga and have just signed up for pilates off campus. I do not miss having a car but at times I miss the convenience of getting where I want or need to be quickly.

3. I am learning Mandarin. Although I am terrible at it and it is hard and frustrating I am taking Mandarin lesson with my tutor Iris every week. She is patient and encouraging and the goal is independence and survival. I am so lucky to be working in a school where I have students I can practice with who encourage me and do not judge me. It is a safe space to learn!

4. I am eating healthier. I have fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to my door weekly, I am drinking more water thanks to the H2O challenge at school. I only have 2 coffees a day if that! I am eat way less meat and have been mostly vegetarian. Snacks and sweets are harder to find here unless you like meat flavoured chips or waxy chocolate so occasionally I have a treat but not very often. I have fallen in love with Bubble Tea but always get it without sugar!

5. I see a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. The difference with this approach is that it is holistic. Although I originally went to him to insure my back and hips were good he has been treating me for other things. Honestly I think he is detoxifying me from all the stress. I have tried cupping, acupuncture and even traditional herbal medicine. I do feel better and for the most part my back is the best it has been in a long while.

6. I am writing. I have made a commitment to write my blog weekly. I enjoy it and always find a connection to what is happening at my life right now. It is therapeutic for me and helps me reflect on many things that have been rolling around in my head for a while.

7. I am learning to be more resilient and independent. I have always considered myself both of these things but when you are thousands of kilometres away from home and have a smaller network of friends sometimes you have to figure it out for yourself. I have made so many mistakes and learned so much about myself. Somethings I am proud of and some things I do not like much but I keep working on them!

8. I schedule in me time. I get my nails done, have a facial, invite a friend for wine, go out for coffee, watch a movie, go to the park or just walk the neighbourhood. Sometimes with tunes cranked or sometimes in silent reflection, depends on my mood. I enjoy my quiet time alone off campus. Working and living in the same place can be a challenge but this allows me to have some separation and time to think and reflect.

I am proud of my commitment to improving my physical and mental health and trying to become a better person. I know I did not have to come to China to do that, but I am glad I did! I am staying in the present and trying to get the most out of each day. The only thing that would make it better is to have all my friends and family here with me on this crazy adventure!

3 thoughts on “Filling my cup…..

  1. I found your blog through Doug Peterson’s TWIOE list and it really resonates with me. Back in 2012, I jumped at the chance to spend five months living in Argentina with my boyfriend (that seems like a weird word when you’re in your 50s). My kids were off to college and I knew I needed this challenge. It was certainly a great test of the relationship and we’ve now been happily married for three years.
    You mentioned how you are learning so many new things and challenging yourself and all the while wondering how this will translate back into your life when you return home. Have you read Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider? She and her family lived abroad for many years and she writes about how she went about transferring what they loved about their life in Turkey to their life in the US.
    My blog about my life in Argentina and other travels is at
    and I blog about education at

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