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Yesterday was a pretty stellar day.

Who could ask for more when you get to spend 3 hours with your Grandma out to lunch at Good Earth, help her fill up her gas tank and chat for another hour back at her apartment afterward? I love this lady. She bring good luck too. True statement.

And isn’t she just precious. How couldn’t you love hanging out with her?!

In addition to hanging out with Gma McG, Tuesday also marked the release of my first published blog article “Finding My Healthy” at www.SheTaxi.com! This site is a private, subscription-only online vehicle for women to relate to different topics, be it Motherhood, being Solo, Daughterhood, Wellness, Sheness, etc. I definitely think it’s a great tool, but of course, I am a little biased. However, you should still check it out. Membership is free dura beta. 😉

This would make me a writer, would it not? 🙂

Now, I’m pretty sure good things happen in groups of three, too. Because, while out with Gma, I got a call from an Unknown number but refrained from answering at the restaurant.

That’s when I figured it was was a call regarding an interview last week. I told, maybe, 3 people about this interview, just in case it didn’t work out and especially because it was so intense, I was nervous about the outcome. Luckily, I had my lucky Grandma with me in this time of doubt. 😉

While back at her apartment she said,

Well, I really hope you get the job Molly, because if you do, that means my apartment is lucky. You wanna know why? Both of your aunts received calls about selling their houses while they were here. So it must be lucky.

Don’t get me wrong, I was a little skeptical, but Grandma delivered!

I was offered the JOB!!!!!!!!!

I am now employed, and my Grandma is for sure a lucky charm, so if you have something in your life that needs a good vibe, just hang out with her. Or just stop by, because she’s pretty good company!

Coming up on A Minnesota Life…a product review, stop back soon, you won’t be disappointed!

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Happy November, Happy Election Day (yesterday), Happy Fall, Happy Hump Day,

Well for those of you who follow my blog, or did, I was an avid writer while in Japan. I had the time, the energy, the inspiration of being in a foreign country with endless topics, ideas, and events going on in my life that I could share with people. I was especially good as sharing my feelings and hardships about the language barrier, cultural differences, and lifestyle of an American girl living in rural Japan.

Things are different now, I will admit. It seems like I write every two weeks, or sadly, go even longer without posting. I wanted to maintain this blog as a healthy living site for what goes on in my life and what I’ve been up to on a day-to-day basis. I’d love to say my life is exhilarating, and full of excitement. I will say, I have been doing a LOT, however, when I want to blog about something or post my new recipes, etc., I find myself holding back and getting “sidetracked” because what I really should be doing is job hunting. Granted, I don’t job hunt 24/7, but I feel guilty even picking up a novel and having ‘me time’ when I know I should be pounding the pavement with this job search.

It’s a tough market people. I’m sure you’re all aware of that. Part of me wants to just get my foot in the door with a great company like Target, General Mills, or Health Partners, and not care about the position. The other part of me wants to find that perfect position and not care what the company or pay is, but just do what I love. What exactly do I love? Well, health is definitely at the forefront of my interests, as well as writing…so that leads to PR, I like promoting health, wellness, fitness…so there’s job potential there. I also like the idea of working with a company with healthy foods (hello Target, yes I will be a buyer for your Organic foods)…a girl can dream right? I just don’t know where to start. It’s overwhelming and slightly depressing sometimes, but I’ll keep at it and get my dream job one way or another!

In the meantime my other priorities include my internship at SheTaxi (the more practice and experience, the better), running, family, friends, and of course a little cooking, TV, and People magazine.

These past few weeks, since Grandma’s 90th, we’ve spent time with the family from out of state, going to the cabin,

Quality sister time,

And of course last weekend, getting all gussied up for the festivities, that is, my 2nd favorite holiday of the year: HALLOWEEN.

Hello Shakira and our lil Firefighter

Nerd & a TopGun girl (that would be my dad’s real Vietnam uniform there!)

Antone Dodson, and Jake the Bachelor

A Hot dog, taco and condiments

I will say though, that when planning a Halloween costume, being from Minnesota, taking the weather into consideration is a good idea. I did not, and paid the price. It was freezing!

So while I’m not gonna worry about where my priorities lie, I’m just gonna let the good times roll. Life too short to not to enjoy the small stuff.

I hope everyone got out and voted yesterday for somebody. Have a great rest of the week. Let’s set a personal goal (me) of writing again before weeks end.

 

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Hello all! Ok, so since I’ve gotten home a little less than a month ago, I’ve neglected this little blog. Let’s just say I’m spending some quality time with family and friends, sans internet and technology (excluding my cell phone, let’s be serious, going a year without texting…I obviously have some catching up to do 😉 ). But I do believe I have some India travels to share with you all. So here it goes!

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You wanna know something funny!? Being a Midwest girl, it’s pretty likely you’ll run across a family of ducks, a turkey in the road, or sometimes a deer (if you’re *not lucky), but in India, it was a-whole-nother story. Well-put by our driver ‘Veej’, the cows are the ‘King of the Road’.

He wasn’t kidding either.

Before heading out of Delhi on our 3rd day, Mr. Singh promised to bring us to Gandhi’s Memorial Site. I have never been so moved, inspired, and changed in a span of 2 hours. I wish everyone could see just a fraction of the things Gandhi did for his country and the world.

Ton and I were able to walk the same path Gandhi took to his daily prayer, before being shot and assassinated at his home.

Below is the exact point where Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 (according to the U.S., but my journal says 1947, which is when India celebrates, I believe).

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On a lighter note, we took off with Vijay and made our way to Jaipur. A few things he said, which made us laugh:

When you travel, laughter is good for health. Laughter means happy brain.

Do you know Ramayama? You can search in the Googles.

We call people Gadha, means: he is so stupid.

Obviously we probably found his antics a lot more humorous than you would reading those, but at the time, this guy just brightened our day and made us laugh, a lot. Healthy brains, right?!

We arrived at the Radoli House (Hotel) and pretty much called it a night (after 9 hours of driving!)

Next up, our tour of Jaipur and a night none of us (3) would forget!

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Let’s recap a fabulous weekend, shall we?

I’ve discovered that procrastination actually does a person good. Like when you wait too long to find a flight to Chicago and then prices spike to over $300 but THEN you find out a friend also happens to be going to the Summit within a span of 2 days. Perfect timing in my book.

Road trip anyone?

Friday~

Jen, Caitlin (new friend #2), and I hit the road in the early a.m. and because I rock at life, I didn’t go to bed until well after 2a.m. and had to get up at 5a.m. Not a pleasant wake-up call. We hit up a Starbucks right in Hudson, then made our way to Chicago.

A few hours into the trip, we were playing storm chaser and caught in a monsoon, no joke. And I’m pretty sure we hydroplaned. The last time I’ve heard of that happening was in my driver’s ed book at the age of 16. It was a little freaky, not gonna lie.

Then what seemed like 8 hours later, I experienced a new definition of traffic jam. Hello city. Note to all, Chicago and Minneapolis are NOT comparable in size; a common misconception (or me in denial that I live in ‘the country’). Minneapolis: 300,000/Chicago: almost 3 million. Ok, major fail on my part!

I met up with my roomie Laura (from Pennsylvania/New Hampshire) and we hit it off right away! I feel like we’ve been friends for years! I love this camaraderie of the bloggie world. It amazes me!

Then onto the cocktails…and socializing for us two ladies. We were starstruck. Yet, meeting all these wonderful, fabulous, down.to.earth women was the most surreal and fabulous experience of the summer, and maybe my life.

I kept saying to Laura cheesy things like “Omg, I wanna meet Kath, she’s such an inspiration, it’s like meeting a famous person.”

Then, when you meet them, they were so down to earth, friendly, peppy, and just plain FABULOUS. This weekend blew me outta the water, then clear across the land (again, I’m cheesy), ha, but seriously, I had the best time.

And here’s a serious plug for the best.book.ever. See above. That’s Caitlin. If you don’t know her- here’s the best way how: Operation Beautiful. The site + the book. Go buy it. Changed my life, hers, and thousands of others around the world.

And then, just when we thought the party was ovah…think again…we ran into Angela and got the party started. For real.

1a.m. was waaaaaaay to late for this granny (me), and 6a.m. came waaaay too early.

Saturday~

I’m surprised my mascara-crusted eyes were able to stumble outta bed and make it to the lobby by then. Like always, I’m so glad I went. There was a group of about 6 or 7 people, and by mile 2.5ish, Angela and I split off, hijacked a running clan, and made our way around the lake, through the woods, and along the city streets until we made it back to the hotel.

Ok, full day ahead of us, and FULL recap tomorrow. My blog says I reached my picture quota, eeep. Does this mean I need to buy more space?! I better get on that!

To all you fabulous ladies I met this weekend, I had a blast and can’t wait to see you again!

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FINALLY, recaps!

July 24th: India Day 1 (in transit) and July 25th, Day 2, our first day out in the city!

I took the 8-hour overnight bus down from Aomori to Tokyo, staying briefly in the Narita airport before taking flight to Malasia and onto India. Only 12 hours of flights for day 1. :-/

I made it to Malaysia and after chilling in their AMAZING airport, I was bumped up to 1st class when the plane had been over-booked. Not to shabby.

Dinner was seriously fabulous. I can’t believe I’m saying that about an airplane meal. But beef and lamb skewers with a curry peanut sauce. I was in heaven. And after the second 6-hour flight of the day and a few cat naps later, I landed in Delhi. It took about 2 seconds after opening the cabin door to the outside to realize–this place is hot, hot, HOT. It was 9:30pm and 32 degrees Celsius. (That’s about 90 degrees folks)

Tonya joined me at the airport a few hours later. Fun was about to ensue. We were ready for the adventures of India!

Welcome to the Grand Central Hotel, Delhi. The staff here was amazing. Not as sweet as our driver for the next 8 days, but they were entertaining nonetheless.

Day 2- (Old) Delhi

Ton and I woke up at around 8am and attempted to get ready in our slightly sketchy hotel. Before Vijay (Mr. Singh), our driver picked us up, we walked the streets of Delhi, near our hotel.

Not two steps out and beggars, homeless children, and shop keepers were in our face. Trash litters the streets, smog, dust, broken roads, and poverty everywhere.

At noon, our tour began.

  • There are 15 million people in Delhi.
  • It was colonized by the British. They left in 1947 (Aug. 15: Independence Day)
  • Many city names have changed since then (Dilli–>Delhi, Bombay–> Mumbai)

First up, JAMA MAJID

It was 2p.m. (prayer) so we had to come back later.

Second stop, RED FORT

The Red Fort served as the capital of the Mughals until 1857, when Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled by the British Indian government. The British used it as a military camp until India was made independent in 1947.

Also called “Lal  Qila”, it is made of Red Sandstone and one of the most magnificent in Delhi. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638.

Back to the Jama Majid once again:

After our grand tour by an 8 year old, we were forced to pay for the tour we didn’t really know we were on. Hmm, we’re learning a little slowly, but at least we have our bartering down pat. Next time, no getting taken advantage of.

Next stop, and last for the day: Raj Ghat- Gandhi Memorial

  • This is where the cremation of Mahatma Gandhi lies, the father of the Indian nation.
  • An eternity flame is lit there and it is a sacred pilgrimage for all Indians.

Ton and I returned at about 6pm and hadn’t had food since 9am. Can you imagine how hungry we were?! We ate, passed out and woke up 13 hours later!!!

Next stop, day 3, in (New) Delhi!

Stay tuned (and thanks for waiting for an eternity for me to post something!)

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The Hardest Thing

So, yesterday was the big speech. I barely made it through the first sentence before my tears clouded my vision and I couldn’t even see the paper. I managed to make it through, despite scorching temps, uncontrollable tears, and three pages of the Japanese version I had to choke through. Goodbye Owani, I will never forget you!

Good afternoon!

Today is my last day with you at Owani Junior High School. First I want to sincerely thank Mr. Kasai and Mr. Ose for welcoming me to this school to work as an ALT. I also want to thank each teacher for all of your time and hard work you put into your job. Thank you for taking the extra time to try to understand my Japanese or even speaking English to me.

To the students, I have so many wonderful memories of Japan, especially in Owani. I will look back on my year here and think about you and how you taught me so many things. When I first arrived here, I met many students at the Nebuta festival and walked with you in the parade. I will remember making crane birds at last years school festival and laughing when I couldn’t fold the paper correctly. I will remember dancing the folk dance in a big circle outside with the boys and doing the steps all wrong, followed by lots of laughter. I will remember practicing speeches with Koki, Masatoshi, Keiko, Shizuku, and Koichiro for the English Speech Contest. I will look back on the cold winter in Aomori and think of my favorite time during the ski day at Mt. Ajara, with students, making jokes, laughing, and enjoying the weather. And seeing some of you at Max Value grocery store, thank you for trying to talk to me! Each smile, wave, and laugh we shared together will never leave my memory. A special thank you to the English Club for wanting to practice more English, play games, watch movies, and study. In the spring, I enjoyed seeing your baseball games, the track team, and tennis players at the sports festival and the band playing at tsutsuji matsuri in Owani. I won’t forget a single day that I played soccer with the 3rd grade boys out at lunch. I need to practice my soccer skills! You boys are too good!

There were challenges I faced in the past year: learning Japanese, trying to speak Japanese, learning the cultural differences, and trying not to break the rules. I spent a lot of time learning the differences and appreciating the Japanese culture. Now I don’t think I fit into the American culture anymore! The biggest challenge though, is saying goodbye to all of you. In life, you will face many challenges. Right now, English seems very difficult and maybe not very fun. But I promise, that if you keep practicing and keep learning new things about English, it will become easier and you’ll start to enjoy it. Maybe you don’t want to be an English teacher, or travel to America, that’s ok. Find your dream, find what you love and practice really hard at it. Don’t let anything stop you from doing what you love. Whether it’s baseball, judo, English Club, science, traveling, all of those things are important. Do what makes you happy. I know I did. Japan is such a beautiful country and I am so lucky to have been able to spend a year with all of you.

I came to Japan right after graduating college and wanted to come here to teach all of you English, but also learn a little Japanese too. I wanted to learn about your culture and country. I also wanted to share a bit of my culture with you, too. While here in Japan, I came to Owani not knowing any Japanese and was very nervous to try to communicate with you. I was a part of your life for a year, but you all have made a difference, you’ve left an impression in my life, and changed it forever. Thank you for welcoming me to Owani, to your school, and to be a part of your lives. You tried your best and you all will have success in whatever you do in the future. I will miss you all, with my whole heart. Thank you for everything.

Molly

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So I suck at goodbyes.

In fact, I try not to think about them until the day of, then I realize this.is.it. However, in these past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of time to think and many goodbyes to be had. This week, I had to say goodbye to the 1st graders AND 2nd grade classes. I thought I still taught them next week. Nope.

After walking into the first grade class on Tuesday, I realized that this was the end. Hmmph. Not happy ’bout that. I tried to fight back the tears, but they were inevitable and that lump in my throat grew bigger. I’ll add–I’m kind of an emotional person as it is. We played games for our last class and we had a blast. Probably one of the most fun days all year. This is supposed to be me:

After fun, laughter, and tears, we gathered for a pic and the students presented me with this board:

Names were signed, messages written (some in kanji, dang it), and I thought back on all the fun things we’ve done this year. If I can come away with one thing to share with all of you, it would be to go abroad, specifically Japan, but anywhere is okay. I have learned so much in this past year and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The good, bad, happy, or sad times. It all has shaped me into who I am, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

So, enough sap, I spent an hour after school practicing English speeches with the kids for the speech contest, and then headed back to Hirosaki with Ms. ichi-nensei. However, it doesn’t end there! She said she had a small gift for me and I was more than surprised. We swung by her house and she returned with a huge bag. I opened it and instantly cried (again) when I saw a kimono inside!!!

Look at this beautiful pattern and those colors! Yes, there are rabbits on it, and if you only saw the whole thing, sooooo pretty!

What a way to end the year! I’ll be bustin’ out this baby at the Hirosaki Nebuta on my last day in Japan: August 2nd. Pictures coming soon!

Happy Friday Southeast-asianers! Hello weekend!

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