A Small bit of Memoir: Gift

[From July 2019, in South Korea]

Everything is a gift.
Even the cockroaches are a gift.
How else would I have cleared out the extra plastic bags under my sink,
how else would I have scrubbed behind my refrigerator,
how else would I have sorted through every single thing in my kitchen to determine whether or not I really needed it in there in the first place?
They scurried around when I turned on the light
And I know that’s not something that you want to hear.
I know it’s not pretty, it certainly is not beautiful to me when I walk into my kitchen,
a little hungry,
a little tired after work
and find one medium sized cockroach flying across my countertop back into its hole in the wall where there may be an entire colony just living their lives,
and enjoying the literal breadcrumbs of my existence in this space. 

But the theme of my life right now is creating space… Getting rid of the old things which do not serve me, maybe they have never served me. I’ve given my energy to so many meaningless things over the course of my 28 years on this planet and so many of those things were not mine to begin with. They were meant for someone else. 

They were maybe meant for my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother before me and maybe…they were meant for none of us. 

And I can see now, these years I thought I had space for all around me, I thought that I kept my bubble pretty clear. But I can see now, these years I thought I had space all around me, I thought that I kept my aura free of debris…the truth was that I was full of clutter. 

I’ve called myself a minimalist, I’ve claimed to have lived a simple life, I’ve even been known to count my physical possessions out of pure curiosity followed by a slight purge just so I could reduce the number of things a little bit more to soothe my minimalist ego. 

Even if I never told anyone, and even if no one was going to find out, I held my little pride in my heart space like a nugget of gold. Somehow the physical possessions that I owned, or the lack thereof, defined me in some sort of way and I felt that yes, I had space.

Something of a reckoning hit me, maybe a month or two ago, maybe it started as a seed planted longer before. I’m not sure. What it grew into was the knowledge of the baggage. (Autocorrect changed “baggage” to “baguettes” just now and I had a little laugh to myself. Joy is in the small things, no? Moving on…) The reckoning when something like this… I realized that there was only me. It’s only hit me that nobody was coming to save me, nobody was coming to change my life for me, no one was coming in to take the bitterness and confusion and pride out of my heart before me. It was up to me, and it was not going to be pretty, but it was going to be worth it all. 

So, I guess this is my life update now. Now I live in South Korea, once again. I spend my days teaching English to actual children and I spend most of my nights teaching love, discipline and gentleness to my internal child…who, it turns out is still in there and mostly just wanted me to notice her again. And give her a hug.

My kitchen is disturbingly clean as I am now slightly obsessed with keeping it that way. And yes, there are cockroaches in there. I don’t plan to keep it that way but here we are. Denial isn’t going to help anything. Action, as in clearing more and more space in the kitchen will help and over time (I silently pray) the little pests will be gone forever. But for now, I take a few deep breaths and enter the kitchen, turn the lights on and greet my small ugly roommates. Whether I can see them or not, they are with me. 

Even the cockroaches
are a gift. 

Our Beliefs About Money & Why They Are Holding Us Back

Our beliefs about money change everything about the way we handle it.

Most of us have deeply ingrained beliefs about money whether we are consciously aware of it or not. We may have inherited these ideas from our family, the media, our religion or our culture. Because many people around us may share similar beliefs it may be extremely difficult to pull our beliefs about money apart from our societal conditioning about who we are in totality.

What are you even talking about, Amanda?

Depending on your background, you may identify with one of the following blockages. These examples are either from my own former beliefs about money, or from my friends’.

  1. Money is bad. Wealth will make me a bad person. “Rich” people are bad. If I earn, save, invest and spend money I will become bad. (We even have an idiom for this: “Money is the root of all evil.” This is actually a misquoted and misunderstood verse of the bible.)
  2. Money is the ultimate goal in life. I can’t be happy unless I earn $X. My life is difficult because I haven’t earned enough money yet.
  3. I can only make money through struggle and difficulty. It is impossible to enjoy a high paying job. I have to choose between my own happiness and earning money.  Rich or happy, choose one.
  4. When I have money saved, something bad will happen and I will need to pay for it. Therefore, it’s better to spend my money and enjoy it right away before I lose it.
  5. I am simply not good with money. It is too difficult to understand most financial concepts so I stay away from learning about finance altogether.

These might sound a little silly when you read them, but these sorts of ideas hidden inside of us can seriously impact our ability to handle paying off our debt and saving for travel or for the future.

SO…I have messed up ingrained beliefs about money. What can I do about it if I can’t even figure out what my beliefs are?

You NEED to identify these beliefs. I know, that’s easier said than done. There are a number of ways to uncover what we really think about money, but honestly, it might not be pretty. Chances are, it is going to take a lot of hard work and often times we need to be guided through the process by someone who has been through it or even by a professional. Some of our beliefs about money are tied to painful times in our lives and when we uncover them, we often are digging up shallow graves we’ve long tried to forget about.

A great first step is just getting into some quiet time for yourself. Get out a pen and paper and fill in the blanks. Write whatever comes to mind without holding yourself back.

  1. When I think about earning money, I feel ________________________.
  2.  When I think about the way my parents handled money, what comes to mind?
  3. Money is ______________________________.

These three questions can serve as a great starting point, but if you want to really delve into this, I suggest reading the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, checking out this workshop by To Be Magnetic if you want to get spiritual, or talking with a licensed therapist online or locally. Even writing about how you feel when you watch this video can be helpful.

Identifying blockages when it comes to your finances can set you free to pay off your debts, save money for emergencies and for the future, and travel the world more freely.

This blog post only contains a sliver of a glimpse inside the complexities of our beliefs about money. I’m not going to play psychologist here, but I am certain of one thing: when we identify our harmful beliefs about money and begin to work through them, we can find ourselves propelled into debt freedom so much sooner. Please don’t judge yourself during this process. You are not alone! Trust me. I could write a book on this subject.

Let me know in the comments if you found this helpful. If you feel comfortable, go ahead and share some of the yucky beliefs about money you found within yourself. You are totally welcome to use the comments section on my blog as the landfill for the beliefs about money you need to trash.

Sending love. May we all be FREE!

xo Amanda

Reflections: Two Years in Korea

Today is the first day of 2018! Time flies, as they say. This past month, as I’ve finished my last full month of teaching for the school year, I’ve been reflecting on all of my time here.  Two years ago I arrived in this small town in rural South Korea, knowing next to nothing. I was nervous out of my mind and filled with self-doubt. I couldn’t stop thinking…how is it possible that they hired ME to teach a bunch of middle school and elementary school kids who speak a different language than me?

goodbye 2017

From the moment I stepped into my first classroom, nothing was what I was told it was going to be. Nothing could have been farther from what I had imagined it was going to be. Before I moved here I thought I would be teaching cute little elementary students every day and working at the same school at least most days of the week. None of these things were true. I taught at five different schools, one different school each day. Middle school was especially a challenge for me as I hadn’t expected to be teaching that age group at all and I just do much better with younger students in general.

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For my first three months, I barely slept at all. My coffee addiction jumped off the charts. From finding the right buses to get me into the countryside at the right time to planning twenty unique lessons a week to trying to understand the social norms of a new culture and society and the stress that comes with starting a new job in general…I was a mess, to say the least.

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Despite all of the madness, I ended up staying a second year.  This was partially due to all the work I had put into my first year–planning lessons and figuring out life here, and partially due to the fact that I actually started to (gasp) LIKE it here.

My friends here like to joke “If we can make it in this job, we can literally do ANYTHING.” And I really do feel like I can do anything now. Everyone’s job in Korea is different due to different school settings and different coworkers, but generally we all share the “WHAT IS HAPPENING” feeling at the end of the day. To my friends here…we made it through the year. Congratulations, you’re amazing.

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Last year, I made some New Year’s resolutions on this blog, so I thought I’d revisit them to check in with myself, and see if it’s even worth making new ones this year (haha).


  1. Hike 3 Korean mountains.

  2. Intensify my Korean language studying. Finish through TTMIK Level 3.
  3. Yoga Revolution! And a continued exploration of yoga throughout the year.
  4. Visit 3 new countries. (I’ll start with Hong Kong in January!)
  5. Blog once a month, rather than sporadically as I have been.
  6. Stick to my new budget and pay off my last student loan.
  7. Choose to be happy and light in the everyday madness.

Well! It wasn’t so painful after all. I hiked, I studied Korean although I took an online class rather than continuing my self-study (I plan to continue that once I get back to the US and have a lot of time on my hands). Yoga! Always saving my life, one breath, one asana at a time. I visited Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan this year as well as (kind of) North Korea on the DMZ tour. Does that count? I DID pass the border underground. As far as my student loan goes, it’s not quite finished but will be in February(!)

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I can’t say I chose to be happy and light EVERY day, because, you know…I’m human. But I felt a definite weight lifted this year…a weight of caring too much what people think and worrying about small things. I feel a lot more in tune with what I need for myself and open to the continued search for all things true and light in the universe. In that sense, life has been lighter.

2018 should be an exciting year. I will visit northern Vietnam in January, finish up my contract in Korea in February, and travel around China and Japan in March and April before heading back to the USA.

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In the US, first I’ll visit my mom in Colorado, head to Minnesota to see the majority of my family members and then head to the west coast to visit friends and my little sister, who is having a BABY! That’s right. I’m an auntie now. I have no words for how exciting this is. After that, who knows! I predict more exploration of myself and the world around me and even more freedom as I finally move about the world debt free! (Wooo!)

If you have read this far, thank you for following along on my journey. Thanks for being a part of my life, or if we don’t know each other, thanks for existing and fulfilling your beautiful part of the fabric of the world. Here’s to the new year, lovely people!

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