07 June 2012

a short & sweet backpacking adventure

This past weekend my family (including Josh) and some friends went on a backpacking getaway in the Mark Twain National Forest in Southern Missouri. We left early Saturday morning and started hiking around 11am.  We stopped for lunch shortly after beginning the hike and then continued hiking until around 4:30pm.  We chose the Mark Twain National Forest because campfires were allowed and apparently the trail has a good upkeep.  After hiking 30 minutes downhill in the wrong direction we realized that maybe the trail wasn't kept up so well; we had trouble seeing some of the trail blazes and were confused a couple times about where the trail actual was!  Finally we came across a beautiful stream (seen in the picture above) so we set up camp, filtered water, started a campfire and made dinner.
The vegetarians had prepackaged Indian curry with rice, while the meat eaters ate pigs in blanket.  I've found that meals on a backpacking dish are always incredibly satisfying and tasty.  After dinner we toasted s'mores and drank hot cocoa.  We were living the high life on this trip, considering we only had to carry our food for one night.
I felt a little nerdy because I was so intrigued and amazed by all the cool rocks on the ground!  I kept seeing all these sparkly rocks and rocks that looked like a tie-dye sunset.  Does anyone see where I'm coming from?  My love for the rocks quickly faded during the night when I found a rock jutting into my thigh.  But, I soon fell asleep and forgot about that unfriendly rock. 
Josh slept in a bivy on the flat rocks. (so cute!) Everyone in my tent (Mom, Dad and Lay) woke up the earliest on Sunday morning and pretty much woke everyone else up.  But then we enjoyed breakfast couscous, coffee or cocoa and a morning campfire.  The hike back to the car was rather short for my taste-only about 45 minutes.  Despite the shortness of the trip, it was refreshing to spend time in nature and not think about work.  Plus, Layla found a turtle on the way back! 
Are you going on any adventures this weekend?

06 June 2012

June Goals

During the second to last week of May I started a new job.  I'm now an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher to an awesome bunch of Chinese students through a program at Greenville College, my alma mater.  Yes, that's right, I am a college graduate.  So in the end of May two big things happened: I got a job and graduated from college.  These two coinciding events brought me quite a bit of stress.  Since I began focusing all my attention on preparing lessons for my ESL classes, I left many of my emotions about leaving college unattended; I didn't take much time to reflect or process what was happening in my life.  I knew that I needed to stop everything and write in my journal, but I didn't.  I keep plowing through the lesson planning and the tasks of everyday life and if I had free time I wanted to be with people, with my friends and my family.  But then my second week of teaching began and I couldn't handle the load.  I broke down one day and through a conversation Joshua I realized that I needed to take the time to revive my emotional, physical and spiritual health.  Last week I made steps towards this revival; I went running once and wrote in my journal a couple times.  That was good, but sometimes without clear goals I let myself slip back into tunnel-vision/get work done mode.  These are my goals for the month of June:
I'm excited about these goals because I really like doing all these things.  I have already played soccer once this week, I have written in my journal twice and I have been praying for my students (almost) daily.  The Cloister Walk is an intriguing book about the author's experiences at a Benedictine monastery.  I have a bad habit of not finishing books, but I hope to finish this one in June!  Although I am focusing the most on my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, I would also like to spend time being creative.  Working on craft projects and making things to sell in my etsy shop has often been a stress-reliever for me.  When I'm being crafty I am thriving and I get more excited about life.  I think having these goals will encourage me and remind me to continue to take care of my whole being.  Do you make monthly goals?  I got the idea for making monthly goals/blogging about those goals here.