Monday, October 15, 2012

Some things change, and some things stay the same (Monday Listicles)

Today's Monday Listicles is "Ten Ways You Are the Same or Different than Your Younger Self." So here goes!

Me at my bubbliest
(soon after arriving in Japan)
1. I'm still enthusiastic, positive, and upbeat (most of the time), although less bubbly than my younger self.
My mom tells me that I was born happy, even though I had more than my share of rough spots in my childhood. She describes leaving me in the hospital when I was just a baby for one of my earliest surgeries, and how worried she was, but how I seemed to adapt fine to the situation.

I realize that my energetic personality might be overwhelming to some. But I'm not anywhere near as bubbly as I was when I was in high school, college, or just out of college. A few years ago we unearthed a video I had made for my parents the first year I lived in Japan--at the young age of 22. I was practically bubbling myself out of the room! I could not believe how excited and enthusiastic my voice was, even though it was not the happiest time in my life. I was struggling with Japan that first year, and I really missed my family that first Christmas away from home. Truly eye-opening!

2. Now I love rice.
Many of the foods I disliked as a child I dislike now (liver, Brussels sprouts, sauerkraut), with the exception of rice. Throughout childhood and adolescence, I turned my nose up at rice. But when I left for Asia after college, I made a conscious decision to open my mind to all new foods...particularly rice (a staple in Japan, of course!). Japanese rice is delicious, so that probably helped me to get used to it. Now I love rice and eat it several times a week, but mostly brown nowadays.

3. I eat much healthier now.
My skinny self (size 0!)
with neighbor girl Julie
Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I was tiny. I had an incredible metabolism and never seemed to gain much weight, even though I did not have great eating habits or do many sports. Although salad and vegetables were always on the table, I didn't eat tons of them. I liked to blow my money on candy, and I loved chocolate.

When I went to college and then Japan, the pounds piled on...probably because of all the alcohol consumption and late-night trips to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Oh, and all that delicious rice!! I still miss the food in Japan, more than anything else (not the KFC, but the Japanese cuisine). Now I track my calories and try to avoid processed wheat or sugar.

With my childhood friend Celia in Salem, MA, 1981
4. I still love to travel and am happiest when I'm planning a trip!
As a child, most of our travel involved camping. When I was in my early teens, we started taking road trips around the country, culminating in the great mother of road trips: a six-week cross-country jaunt to many amazing and historical spots (through Wyoming, South Dakota, Ohio, Minnesota, Philly and Pittsburgh, Massachusetts, New York, Washington DC, Colorado). But I never got on an airplane until I was 20 and flew down to California with some girlfriends to visit one of our college friends.

Since then I've traveled to Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, India, England, Mexico, Scotland, British Columbia and Ontario, Canada, and France...and I've been to over half of the United States. Although our travel has been curtailed while we are paying for private high school tuition, I've got a craving to plan another trip!

5. I watch less TV.
Stasha pointed this out in her list, and it fits for me too. I watched a lot of TV as a kid--I remember being addicted to General Hospital in high school, and Thursday night TV in college and as a young adult. (Can you believe I followed a show in which a woman who was raped fell in love with her rapist??? Clearly, this was before I was enlightened!) When I lived in Japan, I would have people videotape American TV shows for me and send them to me! Nowadays I watch very little TV live and do not follow very many shows. Instead I get the DVDs out of the library and watch a season all at once. It's not an ideal way to watch TV, but we're too cheap to spring for cable, Netflix, or TIVO, and we don't want our kids to be hooked on the TV either. It helps that we have only one TV, and it's down in our basement family room.

One of my favorite spots--
vantage from Railroad Creek bridge at Holden Village, WA
6. I appreciate nature.
I was an indoors type of kid. I'd much rather be curled up with a good book than tromping around in the backyard. I started appreciating the outdoors when I went to summer camp at Camp Colton in fifth grade or so. Now I love to be outside, especially at the beach, in the mountains, or best of all: in the forest.

7. I am still not a jock, but I exercise regularly.
I was always one of the last to be picked for teams in gym class and struggled to run a mile. (We had to do a mile-run twice a week in junior high, and I HATED this.) I did play volleyball and basketball in elementary school, but I was never gifted at it! It probably didn't help that I was one of the youngest and smallest kids in my grade. I struggled to do pull-ups and hated PE class. Dodgeball was the worst! I wish I had a PE teacher like my wonderful brother-in-law...maybe he would have inspired me to enjoy fitness more.

In the past month I've rededicated myself to getting in better shape. I bought a pedometer. I'm trying hard to exercise five times a week and have kept this up for the last three weeks (going to the gym two or three times a week and walking on the other days). I am part of an online "active wellness" group on Facebook, in which we encourage each other to make healthy choices and work toward our fitness goals. I feel good about the healthier choices I'm making in my life.

Learning how to make a book
 at Holden Village this summer
8. I love to be creative.
I wish I had been more disciplined about keeping a journal when I was younger. Thank goodness I have this blog now. But as a youngster, I enjoyed being creative, writing letters, making gifts, doing calligraphy, making cross-stitch pieces and bookmarks, etc. This hasn't changed. I still enjoy making gifts and have enough craft supplies to produce an art show's worth of crafts! I wish I could carve out some regular time to be crafty. As a young adult, I went through a stage where I would make calligraphy calendars for my loved ones every Christmas. One of these calligraphy calendars got Mike into the U.S. past a very grumpy immigration agent, but that's another story.

9. I have grown stronger through my struggles and losses.
This theme has continued throughout my life...from having to face countless surgeries as a child to being bullied in junior high to having a 24-weeker who nearly died and experiencing four miscarriages. And now I'm facing neurosurgery in a few weeks. All of these challenges have made me a stronger person...and someone who doesn't take life for granted. This anecdote describes how I view life's rough patches, and also how I view my close friendships--upon reflection, I realize that the people I feel closest to now have also experienced life difficulties or losses:
 "When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful." --Barbara Bloom
10. I still love my music.
As a teenager, I spent my babysitting money to buy 45 records and had a collection of over 100. I wrote my first song at age 10, soon after I learned how to play the guitar. Music has always been a constant in my life. When I met Mike and learned he'd never heard the music of Billy Joel or James Taylor, I made him some mix tapes. I was delighted to meet and marry a man who has a beautiful voice, and in the 1990s we sang at several weddings, including my sister's.

Recently I made a series of music CDs for a dear friend who's fighting breast cancer, and then made another set for my wonderful sister's birthday. I bought a new MP3 alarm clock/speaker thing for my upcoming surgery, so I can listen to music when I'm in the hospital. I love to have music surrounding me at all always cheers me up.

Thanks to Monday Listicles (organized by Stasha at for organizing Monday Listicles. Check out some more!


  1. Your list has such variety! Interesting how we change so drastically in some areas of of life and not so much in others.

  2. I definitely should have included the eat healthier one - I definitely do. It feels more satisfying, somehow. You are right - we have many in common. :)

  3. Good luck with your surgery! I eat healthier now too. It feels so good!

  4. Thanks, all. It seems that many of us eat healthier now and also have different ideas about alcohol! :)

  5. You have so many interesting stories. Said a prayer for your upcoming surgery. Ellen

  6. I love to travel as well, although I'm not one to do much planning for them. Luckily, my husband is! My bubbly side has toned down over the years as well, which is good. A middle-aged bubbly woman just doesn't seem right. Nice list!

  7. Thank you Ellen! And yes, a middle-aged bubbly woman doesn't go over as well. Haha!

  8. I'd like to say I watch less tv, well actually I do, but when I do watch it, its to watch shows I want to not just find something that is on. And I still love traveling, just not with kids lol

    1. That's exactly what I do, Audrey. Right now I'm watching "Big Love" on DVD--I tend to go on particular show benders that way.

  9. I love that about the japanese bowl!!
    When I read your lists I always get the sense we will be like old friends when we meet. So much in common. You dressed so well as a teen!! ( not that I did, but we both love outdoors)

    1. You are so sweet, Stasha. I wish we could meet! I have met so many cool, interesting people through the Internet (blogging, mostly). You are like our great matriarch, with the Listicles!!

  10. This was a great list! I still love traveling!

  11. Ha, love this! Your childhood travels sound exactly like mine, down to the same long family road trip with almost the same destinations, then my first plane flight (that I remember, not the one when I was an infant) was at age 20 to Hawaii on spring break my sophomore year in college. Sending healing thoughts for the surgery and beyond!

  12. Thanks, Jill. Wow--I've never met anyone else who had such a similar road trip. Fascinating. Thanks for the comment and the healing thoughts, Jill!