A Saskatchewan Roughrider, "Where I Been," and Happy New Year (it's a long-un')

If there's something special you want to do, now is the time. If you want to make a difference in the world, now is the time. Don't be fooled into thinking you should wait until you are older or wiser or more "secure," because it doesn't work that way. The wisdom will come. The security will come. But first you must begin your adventure. -Ron Atchison

I don't know anything about Canadian football, or the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but one of their defensive lineman in the 50's and 60's, Ron Atchison, is now on my radar for this quote.  Also, I'm imagining giant Sasquatches wearing football helmets (Not the same thing?).  According to my Google search, the man passed away this year, but not without leaving behind a good message and some inspirational words of wisdom.  

I've said several times that I wish I had embarked on an adventure like this when I was 22, straight out of college, before "real life" started.  And of course, at 28, there's the stigma that I should be "settling down," not taking off.  My plans must be true to form, though.  While varied and perhaps inconsistent, my path since graduating college has been off beat and interesting, anyway:  from special needs kiddos-> to law school plans-> to miserable, corrupt law office crushing law school plans-> to dogs, dogs, dogs and rescuing-> back to special needs kiddos plans-> and now to TEFL in Soko.  For the past 6 years, each experience has been an unexpected stepping stone.  It hasn't been cleanly mapped out and planned (ie, undergrad-> to grad school-> to career and profession), and aspects of it have been unconventional, but I've definitely followed Ron Atchinson's words "If there's something special you want to do, now is the time."  I feel lucky for that, and I'm happy to truck on in that direction.  What's next in life is a surprise.  Boom.

I'm officially halfway through my TEFL certification course with the TEFL Institute.  Taking this course was a debatable move.  I spoke and emailed with 30'ish different people who are living and teaching in or have lived and taught in Asia.  50% said waste of time, 50% said beneficial.  I decided it was the best option for me.  While the TEFL Institute doesn't place students in jobs, they are a lifelong resource and a guiding hand towards preparing for the application process, referring you to highly regarded and reputable programs, and can connect you with other students in the region.  Not to mention all of the training and resources I am gaining from their course with lesson plans, teaching methods, and networking with other current students.

BUT!  There are still decisions to make.  I don't know where to teach.  There are two options in SoKo:  private schools (Hagwons) and public schools (Ministry of Education).  There are pros and cons to both.  Hagwons provide higher salaries, less vacation time, fellow Western English speaking co-workers, and varied hours. And you get to choose where in SoKo you want to live and work. Public schools provide slightly less pay, more vacation time, Korean non-English speaking co-workers, and regular hours.  And you're placed in a position somewhere in SoKo ala "Surprise!  Here's your home for the next 12 months, love it or hate it."

On the one hand, it would be great to make a higher salary and really save up for some awesome traveling after my year long contract is up.  On the other hand, it would be pretty sa-weet to take some trips throughout the year.  On yet another hand, it will be nice to work with fellow Westerners that I can easily communicate with and quickly learn the ropes from.  On the fourth hand, would be pretty useful of the ol' Sociology major in me to fully assimilate myself; be confused, do everything wrong and be that "silly American girl who doesn't know anything," thereby learning and experiencing much more.

The whole idea behind this Korean scheme of mine is to travel and see the region.  Regardless of whether I explore surrounding countries during my year of teaching or afterward, that's not going to change: I'm checking out that side of Earth.  So, the decision is sort of boiling down to the living location.  There's going to be enough discomfort dragging my pack around for weeks on end during travels, so I'd like the ease of knowing my year ahead of that will be spent in a city that I'm comfortable and happy living in (read: south along the coast, far away from snowy, freezing mountains - I'm from Texas).  Did I just make a decision?  Standby for confirmation.

Happy New Year to all.  Whatever your passions and dreams, do what you can to make them happen.


but kate! what about the dogs? (also, i learned how to post pictures)

I try to always be an advocate for any and all deserving and voiceless animals, and am able to tangibly help at least dogs on a daily basis.  They're certainly a relevant population in need, and one that I can personally help make a difference for.  It should come as no surprise that I've already started networking with Animal Rescue Korea.  You'd better believe my only requirement for housing when I accept a job will be "pet friendly."  Washing machines, be damned.  Cable and internet?  Who needs it.  Bed, sh-med.  Just give me a dog.  I will volunteer and I will foster and I will surround myself with puppy love and puppy kisses and perhaps even a cat or two (but let's not get carried away just yet - I'm still not sure about litter boxes).

This compassion (obsession?) and love for animals was passed down from my parents.  Growing up, we took in our share of strays.  It never crossed our minds to acquire pets any other way.  I don't think I even knew about breeding and buying and bloodlines and sporting dogs and blah, blah, blah until I went to college in Louisiana, aka The Sportsmans Paradise (crowd roar and applause).  Who knew it was such a big deal to have a "champion" dog?  They are all champions to me, but Good Lord Almighty, the amount of "purebred" dogs in my college boyfriends fraternity was absurd and how much they cost was a huge bragging right.  Apparently it made them all bigger "men."

Sidenote:  really, these are all great guys who I still love dearly, but come on:  a great dog is a great dog and their bloodline means nothing.  Still waiting on someone to actually legitimately prove to me otherwise and am finding great humor in most attempts to do so.

Regardless, my first dog, MY dog, not the family dog, MY Daisy Belle, came to me from through my college boyfriend.  She was, of course, an AKC (whatever?) registered purebred yellow lab, but I tried to make her as rescue-y as possible for my own personal bragging rights.  I mean, her litter was "accidentally" bred (whatever again?) and she was the runt and about to be dropped off at the shelter when college boyfriend called me about her.  She immediately became my little soul sister and we had three awesome years together before she passed away from cancer.  And that's where it all started: with my Daisy Belle.

Daisy Belle

When Daisy left us, my post college boyfriend and I began the new dog search.  I dragged him to shelters and rescue groups, and he ended up adopting two dogs, and I adopted one (suckers).  From Daisy's death, we immediately saved the lives of Lucie, Perriloux, and my Wentworth.  That was when I discovered the world of rescue groups and morphed into a rescuing beast.  Along with a handful of friends, I helped form an actual non-profit group saving hundreds of dogs ----> I'm not alone in my crazy dog-dom.  There are others like me...dun dun dun.


 The group has since closed and we now donate our time and energy and resources to other reputable organizations, and sadly my Wentworth passed away this past September after battling very severe epilepsy during his two short (and incredibly happy) years of life.  But, like Daisy, Wentworth was a fruitful boy and brought my dad the rescued the lives of Dover and Shasta, and brought me my Mikey.  All three were attempts at fostering...failed attempts due to Wentworth's camaraderie.  They had to stay.

Dover and Shasta

AND, as of today, my current foster, Leo, will be going home to his happily ever after:


And so goes my personal little rescue tree that I plan to keep growing, regardless of where I am in the world.

It seems appropriate to end this post with another video (embedding is fun), so please enjoy Korean puppies singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:

Rescuing around the world -