This is not a travel blog. This is not an adventure blog.

This is a Charlie pours her head and heart out into the internet blog… just like old times…

[Also, if you didn’t read that title in the beauitful unique voice of my beloved Bowie, please stop right here and listen. I was torn between him and the Scorpions for this one…]

At this moment in time, I’ve decided to start making changes to myself. Improvements in some way… Now, when someway say that, you tend to think they you’ll soon be bombarded with gym selfies, healthy meal updates and half naked before and after photos. Well, don’t worry I’m not talking about those kind of changes. That’s not me, I mean; anyone who knows me knows that that is the polar opposite of who I am.

I’ve actually decided to change myself mentally… now, this isn’t even changing myself mentally as in I’m going all zen, I’m starting yoga and meditation. No. I’ve decided it’s time to change and improve myself in a different way, a better way. A way that I haven’t done in quite a few years… I’ve decided to start doing some online courses. I’ve come to the point in my life at the moment, and especially during my time here, that I’ve started to feel like I’m not using my brain as much as I’d like to. Yes I’m a teacher so I’m using it in that sense every day to ensure the kids understand what we’re working on. But, it’s not as mentally challenging in the educational way as I’d thought and hoped it would be (which is ironic as I’m still in the educational system). Although I’m thoroughly enjoying what I do and am very happy doing it, it’s not challenging my brain as much as I’d like. So this is when I decided to take it upon myself (with the help of a suggestion from a friend) to start to improve myself on an academic level. I’ve started an online course titled Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching.

I’ve never had any experience in this before, apart from the numerous times in my life I’ve been told I should be tested for dyslexia. But, I signed on anyway, because my friend and colleague Emilija, who is actually very involved in this area of study, had a conversation with me about dyslexia while we were grading test papers a week or so ago. I mentioned something about that when I was a kid, and sometimes still now, I struggle to copy things down 100% correctly. I’ve always put it down to being lazy and bad at spelling that I don’t meticulously copy each part of the word down correctly, even when it’s right in front of me. I also then went on to tell her various mechanisms and tricks I use every day to ensure I spell things correctly, and, surprisingly, even things involved with counting. I won’t go into it too much because it makes me sound a little bit doolally, but I sometimes struggle counting, but no one would ever know this if I did not tell them, because I have different ways and tactics I use to compensate this… surprisingly however, I love maths and I love reading (now), but we got onto the topic of how these are all slight manifestations of dyslexia. And now, I’m not saying that I am dyslexic, but as Emilijia keeps reminding me, dyslexia is not just a box that can either be ticked or left empty. It’s a spectrum, like most things. So someone could be very mildly dyslexic with only a few subtle symptoms, or, someone could be severely dyslexic where it impedes their life greatly. They’re on the same scale, just at different ends. So when she mentioned she was joining this free online course, she forwarded me the email and I quickly signed up. I was a bit hesitant at first, because like I said, I have no prior knowledge or experience in this field. To give me a little background Emilijia forwarded me her paper which she had written on dyslexia, and assured me the course would be aimed at all levels. It started on Monday 24th April, and within the first day I’d already completed almost half of week 1’s activates. (I’m also enjoying it a lot because I was able to start a new notebook, buy a new multi-coloured pen, and decide how I’m going to colour coordinate using my highlighters.)

So, yes. I’ve decided to improve myself mentally, instead of physically. Trust me, I wish I could do the physical side of this. I would love to be one of those people who enjoys eating healthy, enjoys playing sport or going for a run, enjoys the challenge of lifting some heavier weights or dropping a dress size, but, I’m just not. I know people say that once you introduce it into you routine it becomes a habit, it becomes a part of your lifestyle which you struggle to go without. I’ve just never made it to that point. And honestly, I’ve decided that that’s not the end of the world. (I say this now, but next week I’ll probably be in a miserable ditch again, hating how I am and wishing I could make that change. It feels ironic typing this up when I just had a bit of a paddy about this topic not 4 hours ago). I think that’s just how most girls are built. To have, on some level, that internal self-loathing, whishing we were something else and picking out our own flaws. There are a million things about myself I would love to change, and yes, unfortunately most of them are physical, and that’s a really sad thing to say and admit.

A couple of years ago I was actually able to improve myself in a physical way, with help from Sam and a few others.  And yes, I’ll admit, I absolutely loved that changes (not that I noticed them too much back then) and I was actually really happy with the direction I was heading. But then I came to China and things all went just a little bit tits up. But, like I said, I’ve hit a point where right now, that’s not where I want to be focusing my positive changes. It kind of makes me more miserable trying to make those physical changes to myself than it should. If I were to change my eating habits and introduce minimal exercise into my life, I would actually become more upset with my physical issues, because that’s what I would be focusing on day in day out. Looking at those imperfections, waiting to see some form of change. Whereas this new direction of changing myself for the better, mentally and academically, is all positive… I enjoy it, I’m improving myself the instant I sit down in front of my laptop with notebook in hand. And, I just think that’s so much more important. I was talking to a friend about this the other day, that I/we don’t tend to judge people on their looks. We might make a quick judgment on the person within the first 5 minutes of meeting them, but it will never be based on their appearance. I tend to look more for attitudes, personalities, and their outlook on the world. I don’t care where in the world you come from or who you do or don’t pray to, it’s your attitude I will base my opinion of you on.

There’s that saying that I’ve seen around that goes something like this: If you’re on a date and you really want to judge a person, look how they treat the waiter. It’s not all about how someone treats those they’re trying to impress or those close to them, it’s how they treat others who are in the background of their lives, the so called little people… and I really believe that. There are a couple of people I know, who on the surface seem like genuine nice guys, but to those other people, the people who aren’t so involved directly with their lives, they can be truly truly awful, and I think that speaks volumes. If you can’t treat everyone with respect, or at least be civil, cooperative, and understanding, then you’re not a great person in my books.

Anyway, this is getting slightly off topic. Basically, I’m just looking to improve myself in some way or another at the moment, and right now I’m looking at my brain. I’m not saying that I’ve given up on the physical side of things, because over the next couple of years, obviously I do want to tackle this, BUT I don’t want to make myself miserable over it. And at this very moment, signing up for and attempting an online course is making a positive change to my attitude, and academic life. I’m enjoying sitting down to read articles, take notes, watch videos, do assignments etc.… And fortunately, in my position at the moment, I’m lucky enough to have the time to dedicate to this. I’m not sure I’ll ever actively use this course in my future career though. Sure I might use it over the next semester or so, but it’s just good general interesting knowledge to take into my brain no matter what. This is something which I wish to continue next year, wherever I may be, taking on these online courses and challenging myself even more.

So, not am I only trying to improve myself in the academic way by taking online courses and becoming an avid reader (on my 17th book since August 2016, an absolutely awesome personal accomplishment), I’ve also been trying to change myself emotionally, and there for mentally. I was always known as the cold hearted b*tch, the girl who had no emotion… and, I kind of loved it. Each time someone commented on my lack of emotion or my hard heartedness, I felt like I was achieving something, achieving in putting up that wall that keeps others out and my true feelings in… I feel like there have only ever ben 2 circumstances where my family and friends have seen me upset, and that’s break-ups or death. I mean, they’re two pretty emotional things, obviously the latter more so, but, at the time, some breakups do feel like death, so you know… So, they’re the only time’s I’d ever really let my family and friends see me upset, and I didn’t even like that, obviously. Why would you want others to see your weak and vulnerable side so easily? …but, I’m starting to try and change that mind-set of mine which runs so deep.

I never really used to admit if something got to me, if something or someone made me upset, I’d just internalise it and stick it out. I didn’t like to show others that I had even a slightly emotional or sensitive side. But, it’s also been something I’ve decided to work on. I feel like it’s really changed my attitude towards it this year by being alone out here, when I say alone, I mean living alone and not having childhood friends or family close by. When things have got to me, it’s been harder for me to ignore them, I’ve had to face them and deal with them on my own. I’ve been trying to become more open, more real and more honest with myself. I still do feel the need to keep up that less emotional persona I have of myself, but it’s slowly becoming less solid, less hard hearted. I don’t feel it’s a need as much as I used to. For example, there was a lady here who decided to message me abuse and (sort of) threaten me over WeChat about a month ago. And for some reason, it really got to me. It really upset me that I was being personally attacked when I didn’t see any reasonable need for her to do so. Thankfully, this was only over the space of a day or two, but it really did get to me.  I didn’t feel like I deserved to be treated in that way, I didn’t deserve to be personally attacked through WeChat, and I just felt she was being very unfair and completely unnecessary. Now, usually I would just shrug it off and deal with it internally/suffer alone, after all, it really wasn’t that bad. But this time, I decided not to do that. I decided to be honest with myself; I messaged my friends and was open about how upset it had made me, and how much it had got to me. I also messaged my family going through the same thing. And for me, this felt like a huge step, a huge change I was making. To be completely honest and vulnerable about how this woman had made me feel was a big deal.

The same kind of thing has happened today actually… we have a “3 day holiday” this weekend (Monday off), and I had no plans. I’d vaguely discussed some options with Danielle, and made some of my own, but there was nothing solid. It totally crept up on me… I kind of gave up on the idea and decided I’d just do day trips. Then I got chatting to Meghan about it, and she added me into a WeChat group for her (and her friends) plans for the Labour Day weekend. Meghan’s plan was to go back to one of her favourite spots in Hong Kong which involves a hike and beach camping. I was pretty excited as I’d been meaning to explore more of HK, because, although I go on about my love for the city, I’ve never really ventured out from the central strip by the harbour. It’s a beautiful city, and it deserves to show off more of itself than that… So this seemed like a perfect opportunity to tag along and go explore it with someone who has done it before and knows how/where to go. I committed to this weekend (on Thursday), Meghan bought me my train ticket for Friday night, and then we got to discussing details. And then I had a real serious freak out, worse than I’ve ever had. I got overly worked up and upset about the situation and what was to come. As I’ve mentioned, everyone in my life knows I am not physically fit. It didn’t matter if I did dancing 3 times a week, swimming, gymnastics, aerobics, PE, rounders etc. etc. as a teenager, I was NEVER fit. I was never able to walk uphill without feeling like I was going to die. I was never able, and still am not able to jog or run without that feeling of my head imploding. It’s just not me. People tell me all the time that if I train it will improve, but I would have to get past the feeling of death to do that… which I cannot do.

So, I really freaked myself out over the thought of this hike to the beach. It definitely doesn’t help that Americans call walks hikes. For some reason, the word hike literally instils so much fear into me and I can’t even explain why. I can’t describe it, but she kept using the word hike: hike, hike, hike… and each time it came out of her mouth I felt something snap in my head… I was becoming seriously quite upset (internally at this point) and royally freaking the f*ck out. I completely lost control over how I was feeling about the situation. AND WHY?! Now, I didn’t have breakdown or anything, but my god I felt close. I know logically this is stupid, and will make no sense to anyone else… I’ve tried to explain it, that it’s more the fear of embarrassment and how I know I’m going to feel at some point, if not many points, of this walk. She kept reassuring me that it’s not too long a walk, and if I’m scared of heights then we can avoid this part etc. but it’s not that. Lengths of walks are not my concern. Heights are not my concern. It’s the length of time and intensity of the incline that does. As soon as you put a hill in front of me, I’m sure it’s partly mental too, but I start to break down, I know that my lungs and head are going to struggle up, I’m going to overheat and have difficulty catching my breath.  It’s not a pretty sight, it’s embarrassing, and it’s humiliating, which makes it even worse for me at the time. I just got really nervous about it because it’s with work colleagues as well as strangers. Meghan is lovely and has reassured me it will be okay, the people the walk etc. and as another friend said, no one in life should feel embarrassed or ashamed for making the effort. No one should judge you for your attempts, because there are so many other people who would sit back and not experience these things, but at least you’re giving it your all.

This is something which I’m trying to get past. It’s another part of me that I’m trying to change and grow from. I read an article that Jowitt (Chloe) shared, something like 23 things all 23 year olds need to hear. It’s all pretty generic stuff which I’ve read before, but I really needed it today. There were mentions of change, how you’re learning to adapt to this new person you’ve become, new circumstances etc. and it’s all about how you deal with those and how you treat yourself in the process. How it’s okay to be continually changing, and failing at things, because this is just another step in becoming yourself…

These blog posts are all over the place, and honestly? I’ve really missed just talking about my life and thoughts. My inner ramblings if you will, which is what I originally set this page up for. It was supposed to be somewhere I could vent, work things through, and explore my head… Charlie Parker from Head to Web… however, somewhere along the line it’s turned into a travel blog of some kind. Which is obviously no bad thing as it’s a great way to share my experiences and trips etc. with family and friends, but, recently, I’ve kind of felt like I’m in a straightjacketed… I’ve felt constrained, especially through the whole Tokyo/Seoul travel journal I’ve been doing, which is seriously draining… I’ve been so desperate to just aimlessly tap away at my keyboard and send it off into the www, so I’m sorry this is cutting in line of my travel diaries. I almost feel like I need to separate my travel stuff and my more personal posts, but that’s not how I intended this blog to be…

So, to finish up, I’ve just agreed to sign another contract with Worlda, but for one semester only. So when that contract is over, I’ll officially have been working in China for 2 and a half years, which seems crazy…
Thanks for reading, and hopefully, not judging too hard… this was a pretty personal one.


2 thoughts on “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

  1. Mary teal says:

    I am so sorry my arms will not stretch as far as China to give you a big hug because you really sound as if you need one. I hope you enjoy your weekend…I am sure you will and that Meghan will make sure you are OK. I know how you feel about hills because I have always been the same even when I was young and fit but give it a go and try not to panic. Take care and love you loads. Nana xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen Teal says:

    I have had to have the tissue box with me reading this…. as your mum I feel so useless being so far away and not near enough to cwtch you but also I am so so proud of you and how strong you are ….miss you xxxx


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